'This Week' Transcript 6-2-24: Gov. Wes Moore, Trump Attorney Will Scharf and John Kirby

ByABC News
June 2, 2024, 9:30 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, June 2, 2024 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.





ALVIN BRAGG, NEW YORK DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Their deliberations led them to a unanimous conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Donald Trump found guilty on 34 criminal counts in Manhattan. The first president convicted of a felony.

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we're going to be appealing this scam. We're going to be appealing it on many different things.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Trump set to be sentenced just days before the GOP convention. His party stands by him. The former president now campaigning as a convicted criminal. How will voters respond?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The justice system should be respected, and we should never allow anyone to tear it down.

TRUMP: The real verdict is going to be November 5th by the people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We cover the unprecedented legal and political fallout this morning with Trump's lawyer, Will Scharf, Democratic Governor Wes Moore, plus analysis from our legal experts and powerhouse roundtable.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s THIS WEEK. Here now, George Stephanopoulos.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to THIS WEEK.

In 1774, John Adams said, representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty. Two hundred and fifty years later, the heart and lungs of liberty are facing what may be the ultimate stress test. Twelve anonymous jurors rendered their verdict on Thursday, finding Donald Trump guilty on all counts. It's the third time in the last two years that jurors have rendered verdicts against Trump.

Jurors have yet to consider charges against Trump for even more serious crimes, blocking the peaceful transfer of power, concealing classified documents, encouraging the filing of false electors. But for now, the New York jurors have already presented their fellow citizens with a choice, do we want to be represented, to be led for the first time in history by a convicted felon? That answer will come in November.

This morning, we analyze all the fallout from this week's historic decision starting with senior investigative correspondent Aaron Katersky.

Good morning, Aaron.

You were at the courthouse every single day. Paint that scene on Thursday.

AARON KATERSKY, ABC NEWS SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: I think it was around count four when former President Trump realized the gravity of the moment, George. He had been laughing and joking with his attorneys because everybody thought the jury was going to go home for the day. The judge, ready to dismiss them. And then he came back out on the bench and announced that the jury had reached a verdict.

And he became a convicted criminal from the moment the foreman, in his soft, Irish lilt, pronounced guilty. And it took two minutes to go 34 count by count by count. And at court four, that’s when former President Trump shut his eyes and subtly shook his head as if to block out what was happening to him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, what happens next? We have sentencing on July 11th.

KATERSKY: Sentencing on July 11th. And the former president is taking something of a – of a risk by continuing to attack the judge because at sentencing Judge Juan Merchan has full discretion to consider Trump's remorse, whether he's shown remorse and whether he’s shown respect for the law. And before any of that happens, he sits with the probation department, which is almost unimaginable.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But – but – but for this – for this kind of a crime, first-time offender, almost 80 years old, unlikely he's going to face any jail time.

KATERSKY: It – it seems unlikely. I can't wrap my head around a former president of the United States going to prison. And there's almost no precedent for anyone convicted of felony falsification of business records being sentenced to prison time.

But there is one caveat here, and that's the way the case was charged. Trump was accused of falsifying the records to cover up a conspiracy in order to mess with the 2016 election. No other defendant has ever been charged with falsification to subvert democracy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Even before we get to the actual sentencing, the former president has to undergo a presentencing investigation. What do we know about that?

KATERSKY: That's with the probation department. And I – I'm not sure how deep they're going to be able to go with Donald Trump. His lawyers may try to limit it. But in theory, the probation department is supposed to get a window into your entire personal, familial, and financial history before making a pronouncement on what the sentence should be, and giving that recommendation to the judge. This would be the first time anyone has dug that deep into Donald Trump.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Aaron Katersky, thanks very much.

KATERSKY: Thanks, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s bring in Rachel Scott, who’s covering the Trump campaign.

We've seen former President Trump lash out, his supporters fall in line.

RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was defiance and fury from the former president. In a 30-minute speech at Trump Tower, he did lash out at the judge. He called him a devil. As Aaron just pointed out, many this morning are questioning why the former president would go after the very judge that is responsible for deciding his fate, with sentencing now just a few weeks away. There are also questions this morning about whether the former president violated the gag order by going after his former fixer and friend, Michael Cohen, calling him a sleaze bag.

But this morning, the Republican Party falling in line, standing behind the former president. Even those who have been critical of him in the past. President Biden, speaking for the first time, insisting that this verdict should be respected, and blasting the Republican efforts to undermine the verdict, calling that dangerous. George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Rachel, we have a new poll out this morning with IPSOS that gives at least some early indications of how Americans may be receiving the verdict.

SCOTT: Yes, early indications. This is our new ABC News/IPSOS poll. It was taken after the verdict was reached. And it’s a little bit of a mixed bag here, George. So, 50 percent of Americans believe that the guilty verdict of Donald Trump was, in fact, correct. But then on the other end of this, you have 47 percent of Americans who believe that the charges brought against the former president were politically motivated.

The bottom line here, we are five months out from the election, and these are still two deeply unpopular candidates with Trump's favorability rating sitting at 31 percent. President Biden not much higher at 32 percent, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Rachel, among those voters who dislike both candidates, though, the poll seems to show that there's some impact of the verdict?

SCOTT: Still some impact of the verdict, but 65 percent of those who don't like either of the candidates believing that this was actually correct and still a large amount of those voters also believe that the former president should be ending his presidential campaign, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Rachel Scott, thanks very much.

Let’s bring in one of former President Trump’s attorneys, Will Scharf.

Will, thanks for joining us this morning.

There’s a lot I want to get to. One of the things I want to begin with, though, is what Aaron Katersky was just talking about, this pre-sentencing investigation.

Is the president going to fully cooperate?

WILL SCHARF, ATTORNEY FOR FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP & (R) MISSOURI ATTORNEY GENERAL CANDIDATE: The president’s going to cooperate with the pre-sentence investigation. And we’re going to speedily appeal this unjust verdict. I think this case is replete with reversible error. And we plan to vigorously defend President Trump’s rights in the appellate courts, all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

STEPHANOPOULOS: On Thursday you praised the jury. You said that they were considering the law and the evidence seriously and you predicted a just verdict. Do you accept their decision now?

SCHARF: No, I think when you look at the jury instructions here, Judge Merchan essentially – I wouldn’t say rigged the deliberations but certainly steered the jury towards the verdict that he clearly wanted. We’re going to be challenging Judge Merchan’s failure to recuse on appeal. I think it constitutes a clear due process violation. We’re, obviously, going to be challenging aspects of the jury instructions themselves as well. I think there’s a lot of appellate material there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s quite a change for you. Before the verdict came out you said that the jury instructions are quite favorable to your side. So, when you think they’re going your way, the instructions are favorable, when the jury rules against you, the judge made a mistake?

SCHARF: I think hope for the best, plan for the worst, George. But I think when you look at the totality of the circumstances in this case, this is a prosecution that should have never been brought. This was a case tried in front of a judge who clearly should have recused.

I think we have a lot of fair complaints with the way that this trial was conducted. And I think ultimately President Trump will be vindicated on appeal.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The ethics panel for the state of New York said the judge was not required to recuse.

SCHARF: Well, I think when you look at binding Supreme Court precedent, including, most notably, the seminal case on judicial recusal, Caperton v. Massey, even the appearance of impropriety can require a judge to recuse for – for reasons of due process. Here I think we have far more than an appearance of impropriety. The fact that Judge Merchan contributed to – to Joe Biden during the 2020 election, many of the other issues that we’ve raised in our recusal papers throughout this case. I think Judge Merchan should have clearly recused, and I think that’s going to be an issue that – that the appellate courts are going to have to deal with.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If appearance of impropriety is the standard for recusal, then why shouldn’t Justice Thomas and Justice Alito have to recuse from the cases before the Supreme Court?

SCHARF: I – I think the appearance of impropriety there is not nearly as severe. I think you’re not talking about financial conflicts of interest. You’re certainly not talking about a judge who’s violated judicial code of conduct in terms of political contributions. I think that’s, frankly, stunning speaking as a former attorney, former law clerk. I've never heard of a judge contributing to political candidates before. I've certainly never heard of a judge sitting in judgment over the opponent of the political candidate he contributed to.

I think the American people see through this sort of thing. I think that’s why President Trump’s poll numbers seem to be rising rather than falling. The Trump campaign, obviously, smashed political fundraising records, including raising money from tens of thousands of new donors in the 24 hours after this verdict. I think the American people see this judgment for what it was. And we’re certainly hopeful that on appeal we can get it thrown out just because of how wildly unjust it is.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, the ethics panel had all the evidence that you – that you had, and they decided that there was not a conflict there, but let’s move on.

On – on – there’s – several legal experts have criticized the way the Trump legal team handled this trial. Was it a mistake for the president not to testify?

SCHARF: I think in light of the – the – Judge Merchan’s decision about the scope of allowable cross-examination, which I believe was wildly wrong, I think it would have been dangerous for President Trump to take the stand.

But I think had President Trump taken the stand, certainly on direct he would have been a compelling witness. I continue to believe, as I believe most Americans believe, that President Trump did absolutely nothing wrong here. Certainly nothing illegal. And certainly not rising to the level of this conviction.

So, I think that was a decision that was made in light of the way that Judge Merchan was handling these proceedings.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Absolutely nothing wrong. Well, 12 -- 12 jurors said he clearly falsified the business records and did it to advance a conspiracy.

SCHARF: I believe that verdict is not supported by anything close -- anything even close to proof beyond a reasonable doubt. And again, we’re going to be vigorously challenging this verdict on appeal. We think we have ample grounds to -- I think some of Judge Merchan’s evidentiary decisions really throughout the conduct of this trial were, frankly, astounding.

Not allowing Brad Smith to testify the way that he wanted. This is one of the world’s leading experts on federal election law. Severely limiting the scope of examination of Robert Costello, who I believe had absolutely damning information about the prosecution’s case.

On decision after decision after decision, Judge Merchan, I think, departed from normal courtroom procedure, normal courtroom practice, to essentially stack the deck against President Trump.

And, again, these are all issues that we’re going to raise on appeal. We’re going to raise them vigorously. And we believe that we’re going to win.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Another criticism that has been labeled against the Trump legal team was that it was a mistake not to acknowledge the relationship with Stormy Daniels. They say that put the president’s defense up against a wall.

SCHARF: I think the truth needed to come through. I think that President Trump has consistently denied this affair. Stormy Daniels previously denied this affair. I don’t think lying about what happened would have -- would have helped anything here.

But again, I just completely disagree with the premise of that question.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The former president has called the judge a tyrant and a devil. Do you agree with that?

SCHARF: As I've said repeatedly during this interview, George, I think Judge Merchan should have clearly recused. I think he was irretrievably biased and I think that came through in decisions throughout -- throughout the conduct of this trial, whether it’s evidentiary decisions.

But, again, I think the decision not to recuse, in light of the severe appearance of impropriety, I believe actual conflict of interest between Judge Merchan and the defendant he was sitting in judgment over, it’s head-scratching to be honest that he didn’t step down off of this case.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you concerned that the continuing attacks on Judge Merchan and the attacks on witnesses like Michael Cohen is going to actually make sentencing worse for the former president?

SCHARF: I think it’s really important to note that President Trump is running for president of the United States of America. And he has an absolute constitutional right to comment on matters of public importance. And, unfortunately, this trial, which was, I believe, unjustly inserted into the presidential election cycle, is a matter of tremendous public importance.

The weaponization of our legal system, the politicization of prosecution, these are all things that President Trump absolutely has to comment on. I think the fact that he labored under a gag order for as long as he did was manifestly unjust.

So, yes, absolutely, President Trump needs to be carrying his message to the American people. And I don’t see how anyone can really poke holes at that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You talked about the weaponization of the legal system. Of course, it was former President Trump who threw out the 2016 campaign, led chants of “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton. But what do you expect from the sentencing process?

SCHARF: Well, but hold on a second, George, President Trump may have said that, but after he entered office, he certainly didn’t weaponize the Department of Justice to pursue his political opponents the way that we’ve seen President Trump and his political allies act in the last couple years.

Remember, this case in New York, it was called the zombie case. It sat and sat and sat. It could have been brought at any point after 2020. And then suddenly, when President Trump announced his campaign for president, it was dusted off, rushed in front of a grand jury and then rushed into court.

You want to talk about the politicization of the legal system, I mean this is exhibit A. it’s absolutely unprecedented in American history. It’s not the way that our campaigns are supposed top be run. We contest elections at the ballot box, not in the courts in this country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That is true. But, of course, we’ve never had a former -- had a former president or presidential candidate facing the kind of charges that the president faced because of his own activities. And, of course, the attorney general in Manhattan has nothing to do with the Department of Justice.

Finally, what do you expect from the sentencing process?

SCHARF: I vehemently disagree that the district attorney in New York was not politically motivated here, and I vehemently disagree that President Biden and his political allies aren’t up their necks in this prosecution. I think the fact that the Biden campaign –

STEPHANOPOULOS: There’s no evidence here of that. Sir, there’s no -- there’s not -- I'm not going to let you continue to say that. There’s just zero evidence of that.


SCHARF: Well, how about the fact that Matthew Colangelo was standing -- was standing over Alvin Bragg’s shoulder when -- when he announced this verdict. I mean, Colangelo was the number three official in the Biden Department of Justice who suddenly disappearsand shows up as an assistant district attorney, right as Trump’s case in – in New York starts to proceed. You want to talk about political –

STEPHANOPOULOS: After the decision was made there –

SCHARF: You want to talk about political coordination, George, it’s right there in front of you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: This has nothing to do – this has nothing to do – no, it’s not. This has nothing to do with President Biden. Do you want to answer the question about the sentencing process or not?

SCHARF: I – I completely disagree that this has nothing to do with President Biden. With respect to sentencing, as I said before, we’re going to vigorously challenge this case on appeal. I don’t think President Trump is going to end up being subject to any sentence whatsoever. And we look forward to getting this case into the – into the next court and taking this again all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary to vindicate President Trump’s rights.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks for your time this morning.

SCHARF: Appreciate it, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, let's bring in our legal panel. Our chief legal analyst, Dan Abrams, former Trump Justice Department spokesperson, Sarah Isgur.

And, Dan, let me begin with you. You and I talked a lot during the trial about what to expect from the jury. I think we were both surprised by how clear the result finally was.

DAN ABRAMS, ABC NEWS CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Right. Look, I expected there’d be some form of a hung jury. Why? Because I thought that there would be some jurors who might look at why the case was brought, whether the case would have – should have been brought. That's not something jurors are supposed to look at, but I thought that they might be questioning that, as we've seen in some other high-profile political trials where you've seen a hung jury. Here, it was a quick verdict. It is clear there was not a lot of dissent on that jury. And quickly coming to a conviction.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Were you surprised?

SARAH ISGUR, FORMER TRUMP JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON & THE DISPATCH SENIOR EDITOR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: So, I went into it thinking there would be a conviction. But about halfway through, I thought, actually a hung jury was more likely because I did not think the prosecution actually had presented sufficient evidence on some of those elements about Trump's actual involvement in putting in those records. The jury, obviously, disagreed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about appeal. We just heard the president's lawyer there talk about the grounds for appeal. They’re going to make two big points it sounds like, Judge Merchan should have recused himself, and his jury instructions were faulty.

ABRAMS: Yes, so, on number one, I don’t think they’re going to get anywhere, right? I – I thought Judge Merchan should have recused himself just because of the appearance of impropriety – or the appearance of bias, not impropriety.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Because of these –

ABRAMS: Because of the small donations. Why not just recuse yourself, as many judges would? But you’re not going to win on appeal with that. You’re not going to get a case overturned. And I actually think, in the end, Judge Merchan's rulings were actually pretty fair on both sides. There were a lot of cases where Judge Merchan refused the prosecution's requests to introduce evidence.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The "Access Hollywood" tapes.

ABRAMS: The “Access Hollywood” tape. Other women. When it came to jurors, et cetera.

But on the second question of the jury instructions, yes, there's some real appellate issues here that are serious questions about, why didn't the defense even know what the charge was that they were going to be applying, what law that was going to be apply.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Which of these three underlying laws?

ABRAMS: Exactly. And so there were a lot of questions for the defense going into this, I think, as they were making their closing arguments, not even knowing sort of what the law that they were going to be battling over was.

So, do I think they're going to win an appeal? I don't know. But there are real, legal issues. But we need to separate that from the sort of moral and political questions.

ISGUR: I think we're heading into the worst case scenario, which is Donald Trump is convicted at trial, he maybe loses the election closely – we see some shift in the polls in the next month or two – and then the question for the appellate court of whether to overturn this becomes much trickier from a larger sort of almost cultural standpoint. You know, we saw this with Ted Stevens' trial, a senator who was convicted right before his election. He loses an incredibly close race. And then afterwards, the judge said it was the worst case of prosecutorial misconduct he'd ever seen and it was overturned. To overturn this conviction will have huge ramifications.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I guess I take your point on this case, but if he actually loses the election in your scenario, he's going to be facing trials for overturning the election, for concealing classified documents. He’s going to be facing a trial down in Georgia. Those are far more serious issues.

ISGUR: And I think they're more compelling cases. I think this is the problem with this case going first. It was always the legally weakest, most difficult case to win on appeal. Obviously, the most politically motivated, I think, in the eyes of most Americans. You know, this is the Robert Jackson fear that prosecutors will pick who they should get instead of what cases should be prosecuted. And I think people have a fair complaint when it comes to the case brought against Donald Trump, that it was brought because he was Donald Trump, because they hated him politically, and the case against Hunter Biden, frankly, that starts tomorrow.

ABRAMS: And you can believe both, that the case shouldn't have been brought and that he’s guilty, right?

ISGUR: Right.

ABRAMS: I mean you can believe both things. You don't have to pick between the two. You can say, I don't think that based on this fact pattern anyone else would have been charged here. And as a result, when you're talking about the former president, I don't think they should have moved forward with it. That was – that was the position I took going into it. But then you look at the evidence, the technical question in this case for the jury was a separate one, which is, based on the law, do you think it was violated? And the answer to that can also be yes. You can have both things.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about sentencing, Sarah?

ISGUR: I don't think he'll be sentenced to jail time, but I do think that the one problem, as Aaron pointed out, you know, this -- there isn't really a good precedent for any of this because you have such a high-profile case, and part of the way judges think about sentencing is deterrence. And so there's a real deterrent value to throwing the book at Donald Trump in a way that, yeah, maybe you wouldn't under different circumstances.

ABRAMS: Anyone that tells you, "Oh, well, you know, in all the other cases I've seen" -- there is no other case like this, all right.



ABRAMS: You can throw it all away. This is a unique case. The judge has complete and total discretion here, as to what the sentence will be. It can be anything from nothing to four years in prison...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Community service.

ABRAMS: Community service, it could be. It could be home confinement. There could be probation. I mean -- but again, to, sort of, look to other cases to say, "Well, you know, in typical" -- I don't think...

STEPHANOPOULOS: I completely agree with that.

Before we even get to that point, as I discussed with Aaron, we have this whole issue of the probation department's investigation. Hard for me to imagine, Sarah, and of course, you worked for the former president, how he's going to deal with this investigation?

ISGUR: It will be interesting because, behind closed doors, you know, maybe he won't be super-happy about it, but when the cameras are off, he can be quite different about all of this stuff and just want to get it out of the way. He's very different when the cameras are on because that's how people are then judging whether he's strong or weak. This is all going to happen outside of our view, and we'll see some Truth Socials about it.

ABRAMS: It's a lot of personal questions, right? I mean, the probation...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Health records.

ABRAMS: ... really just gets into everything about who you are, right? And it's going to be interesting to see if Trump's lawyers try to restrict the kinds of questions...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Health records, financial records, divorces.

ABRAMS: Everything. Yeah, all of it becomes part of -- because what the probation department is doing is trying to present a complete picture to the judge who this person is, what kind of sentence they deserve in connection with this particular crime.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we will see their report, correct?

ABRAMS: Yeah, I think so. Well, you know, usually, you -- well, usually, the judge certainly gets it, and then very -- yeah, usually it's made public. We'll see.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Thank you both very much.

Up next, how will Trump's guilty verdict impact the 2024 race?

Maryland Wes Moore weighs in. We're back in two minutes.



LARA TRUMP, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CO-CHAIR: Thousands of people donating right now to Donald Trump who have never once ever donated to our campaign, period, ever. That speaks volumes about how the American people are interpreting this. November is coming, and our verdict will officially be rendered on November the 5th.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That was Lara Trump right after the verdict.

We're joined now by Maryland Governor Wes Moore, a member of the Biden campaign's National Advisory Board.

Governor, thank you for joining us this morning. Let me start by getting you to respond to Lara Trump right there. Are you concerned that this verdict is actually going to help the former president?

GOV. WES MOORE, (D) MARYLAND & BIDEN-HARRIS CAMPAIGN NATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER: No, I think the American people have just gotten a -- a bird's eye view on -- on how, over the -- over these past months, how these two individuals deal with trials.

You know, you look at President Biden and the trials that he has had to deal with, things like deadly storms in the Midwest, trials like addressing the fact that this criminalization of cannabis has been used as a cajole against so many communities, particularly communities of color for so many years, a bridge collapse in Baltimore, a deadly bridge collapse where we’ve been able to get the federal channel reopened faster than anyone thought imaginable.

And on the other side, you see Donald Trump who's been dealing with trials as well, except those trials have been his own. Those trials have been criminal convictions.

And I think you're seeing a very clear example of what it means to have a president who is focusing on our future, on our freedoms, and on the other side, you see Donald Trump who's frankly spending this time focusing -- focusing on his own freedoms and his own future.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The issue hitting home in your state of Maryland, your former governor, your predecessor, Larry Hogan called on all Americans to respect the verdict -- I’m going to show that right there, drew an immediate response from the Trump campaign. Chris LaCivita saying: You just ended your campaign.

What do you make of that exchange? What will it mean for the Senate campaign? Governor Hogan is now running for Senate in the state of Maryland.

MOORE: Well, I think the old governor is learning that this is going to be a challenging race for him because as James Baldwin said, you know, I can't believe what you say because I see what you do.

And whether it's on the issues of reproductive health where he's now taken multiple positions and masking the fact that he has not been a champion of reproductive health or choice in our state, whether it's a position of violence where during his position as governor, we saw how homicide rates exploded in the city of Baltimore, eight straight years of 300-plus homicides.

Since our -- since our administration has come on board, we’ve been able to work together to cut the homicide rate in Baltimore by half. And during his time as governor, he did not have a single solution for the rise in bloodshed that we are seeing in Baltimore and other places around the state.

And so, I think that the old governor is learning very quickly that it's difficult to run a race when -- when it was Mitch McConnell that brought in to be able to run this race.

And as people are focusing on freedoms, of reproductive health freedom, of freedom to be able to learn and have your history respected, of freedom to be able to walk safely in your neighborhoods, that this is going to be a very challenging environment for him and frankly a very challenging campaign against -- running against someone who I supported early and proudly supported early, the county executive, Angela Alsobrooks.

STEPHANOPOULOS: There’s a big -- there’s a debate going on in circles about how to -- how to take on the former president, how central to make the fact that he is now a convicted felon. Where do you stand on that?

MOORE: Well, I think that, you know, and I hear the argument that people are saying now that him being a convicted felon is actually going to help him, and particularly how that's going to help him in communities of color and African American communities, and I can tell you not just as the -- not only the third African American ever elected governor in the history of this country and the first elected in the history of my state, this is a very -- it's a deeply problematic and a deeply offensive argument.

What is going to resonate with the African American community, what's going to resonate with the community as a whole is having a person, having a president like we have in President Biden who's focusing on our futures. The fact that President Trump is now a convicted felon does not make him resonate with any community.


MOORE: It does not make him more connectible to anybody else.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you explain why President Biden is falling so far short with African American voters this time around? And what can he do about it?

MOORE: Well, I think we -- we also need to be careful on putting too much weight in the polls that are six months out. If you looked at polls in my race when I was six months out, you know, I was polling in the margin of error of zero, and we ended up winning with more votes than anyone who's ever run for governor in the history of the state of Maryland.

The way you're going to win races is you've got to be able to go in communities and see things on the ground. We knew we were going to win this race even when the polls weren't showing it because I could tell the energy that we were seeing on the ground.

And just last week, you know, I was in Pennsylvania with the president. Before that, we were in Georgia campaigning on behalf of the president. I’d be heading to North Carolina next week.

And you're seeing surrogates from around the country who are now campaigning on behalf of the president, and the things we're seeing are pretty universal, that the energy is there, that people are seeing that we have a president who has done things like making cannabis, moving it from schedule 1 to schedule 3, being able to address this long-term battle that we’ve had with cannabis particularly in communities of color, that we now have the highest rate of new start Black-owned businesses started that we've seen in 30 years, that the Black unemployment rate is the lowest that it's ever been in recorded history.

We have a president who's addressing the systemic challenges that oftentimes have held back communities of color, and I think that is going to resonate. I think it is resonating, and I think you just have to get in the community and on the streets.

And by that time, you'll see that in (ph) November, people will rally because his message is going to resonate. This is about results.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor, thanks for your time this morning.

MOORE: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, White House National Security Spokesperson John Kirby with the latest on Gaza and Ukraine. We'll be right back.



JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Too many innocent people have been killed, including thousands of children. Far too many have been badly wounded. It's time to begin this new stage. The hostages to come home, for Israel to be secure, for the suffering to stop, it's time for this war to end.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That was President Biden (inaudible) calling on Hamas to agree to a ceasefire deal with Israel. White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby joins us. John, thanks for joining us, as always. Let's begin with that proposal the president laid out there late this week. Israel has said that this was something they agreed to, but their conditions have not been met. Where does this stand exactly?

JOHN KIRBY, UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: Well, it is an Israeli proposal, one that they arrived at after intense diplomacy with our own national security team, and over at the State Department. It is a phased approach, George. So where we are right now is that proposal, an Israeli proposal has been given to Hamas. It was done on Thursday night, our time. We're waiting for an official response from Hamas.

We would note that publicly Hamas officials came out and welcomed this proposal. So, what would we hope will happen is they would agree to start phase one as soon as possible, and phase one would allow for some hostages, the elderly, sick, women hostages to get out over a period of six weeks. No fighting, more humanitarian assistance in, and while that's all going on, the two sides would sit down and try to negotiate what phase two could look like and when that could begin.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But based on what we're hearing from Prime Minister Netanyahu, are we in a situation where if Hamas says yes, then Israel is going to say no?

KIRBY: No. This was an Israeli proposal. We have every expectation that if Hamas agrees to the proposal, as was transmitted to them, an Israeli proposal, that Israel would say yes. Again, all you get in a yes right now, George, and it's not a small thing, but what you get is the start of phase one.

So you get some hostages coming out, initial hostages. You get some calm. You get some more humanitarian assistance, maybe up to 600 trucks, and then the two sides can start talking about phase two.

So, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s team, in fact, his foreign minister again just said that they welcome this – this announcement by the president, and that they did, in fact, agree that this was their proposal.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president said Hamas is no longer capable of carrying out large-scale terror attacks. Is that based on new U.S. intelligence, and do the Israelis agree?

KIRBY: It is based on accumulation of our own intelligence assessments across the intelligence agencies that militarily speaking Hamas is in position to conduct another attack like October 7th.

Now, we're also not saying that Hamas has been wiped out – off the face of the – the map. We're not saying that Hamas has no military capabilities. We've not said that they don't still represent a viable threat to the Israeli people. Of course they do. But they don't have the military capabilities to do what they did on the 7th of October. And so from a military perspective only, George, as President Biden said, the Israelis have accomplished most of their goals in Gaza.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you about Ukraine. The president reversed his previous position and granted Ukrainians permission to strike inside Russia with U.S. weapons. What prompted the switch? And are you worried that it’s going to draw the U.S. into a direct conflict? That was the president's concern before.

KIRBY: We’ve been concerned about escalation since the very beginning of this war. And those concerns remain valid. The president has said he does not want to be responsible for starting World War III. We're not looking for a conflict with Russia, another nuclear power.

That said, around the middle of May, the Ukrainians, faced with an incredible amount of pressure on Kharkiv, that town to the – in the north of Ukraine, not – not far from the Russian border, they asked for some limited permission to use U.S. supplied weapons against imminent threats just across the border. So, we’re talking about military and placements, gun positions, that kind of thing, logistic staging bases, that the Russians were using to create some sort of buffer zones so that they could continue to pound Kharkiv. The president looked at that, talked to the interagency team, made sure he had – understood all the ramifications of the request and then approved it. It is limited to the Kharkiv region, and it is limited with respect to the kinds of targets they can hit and how far back they can go.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It was part of a pattern of the president refusing at first to – to provide Ukraine with certain munitions and permissions and then going along with it. Have those delays prolonged the war and put Ukraine in a tougher position? President Zelenskyy seems to suggest that.

KIRBY: The delay that most prolonged this war and made things difficult was the delay in the Congress, George, when we had a supplemental request submitted in October of last year, and for six months Congress did nothing to get us the kinds of funding we needed to supply Ukraine. And for six months basically the Ukrainians got nothing from the United States, the biggest contributor of security assistance.

In just the month or so since that supplemental was passed, I would remind you that we had submitted now five security assistance packages to Ukraine to get them the capabilities that they need.

And as for the other argument about the – the – you know, the – the creeping nature of this, what – what we have done is, as the war has changed in character over the last two-plus years, our support has evolved. In the beginning, they needed stinger anti-air missiles and javelin anti-tank missiles. Now they need much more air defense and long-range capabilities. And we continue to provide those capabilities, again, as the war has changed, as Putin has changed his operational strategy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, former President Trump said this morning on Fox News that the world is out of control and laid the blame on President Biden because he said world leaders don't respect President Biden. Your response?

KIRBY: Well, I don't get into election campaign rhetoric. I can't do that. I can just tell you that everywhere the president goes, and he will hear this message, I have no doubt when we go to France next week for the D-day commemoration and a state visit with President Macron, as well as the G-7 in Italy the week later.

He’ll continue to hear from American leaders, as he has heard that they welcome American leaders on the world stage, that they appreciate the way the president has revitalized our alliances and partnerships and our networks around the world and how we have stood up to aggression, whether that's Putin, whether that's what Hamas has done to the Israeli people, or what China and the tensions that China has created in the Indo-Pacific. It is widely known around the world that President Biden stands with allies and partners and stands for American leadership. And he'll hear that again I'm sure this week.

STEPHANOPOULOS: John Kirby, thanks as always for your time.

KIRBY: You bet.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The roundtable’s up next. We'll be right back.



DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If she were to win this election, it would create an unprecedented constitutional crisis. In that situation, we could very well have a sitting president under felony indictment and ultimately, a criminal trial. It would grind government to a halt.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Donald Trump in 2016, fodder for our Roundtable joined by Former DNC Chair Donna Brazile; Former RNC Chair & Trump White House Chief Of Staff Reince Priebus; Executive Editor of the Associated Press Julie Pace, and Politico's Senior Political Columnist Jonathan Martin.

And Reince, let me begin with you. So, it was a constitutional crisis in 2016 if a sitting president was facing felony indictments. Donald Trump now facing three felony indictments, right now, and he's now been convicted. He's a convicted felon. Why isn't that a constitutional crisis?

REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER RNC CHAIR & FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF & ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, because I think that this is going to be up to the voters and the voters don't see it that way. And if you look at --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, what I'm asking you as a representative of former President Trump.

PRIEBUS: Because I don't see it as a constitutional crisis.


PRIEBUS: I'm like -- I'm like a lot of the folks out there that think that when Alvin Bragg decided and said to the people of New York that he's in the best situation to go after Donald Trump because he's done it over 100 times to his kids and that was one of the basis for his election, I think that he made it political. Joe Biden made it political by sending Robert De Niro down here into Manhattan.

So, the Biden has chosen to make it political, the district attorney chose to make it political, and what's happening? What's happening is we've got an unbelievable united party, $53 million came in the door. I spoke to the chairman of the RNC yesterday, I spoke to President Trump yesterday and I asked him, is there anything that you're seeing right now other than the headache of this conviction that isn't going to well in this campaign? And the answer is that this campaign, and where the Republicans are situated today with Donald Trump as their candidate, is better today than it's ever been at any time that he has ever run for president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, it just doesn't bother you that Donald Trump is a convicted felon?

PRIEBUS: Not on this case, it doesn't. Not on this case, it doesn't because this is a case just like your legal panel just debated, where smart lawyers, lawyers without a political affiliation are saying that this case is flawed in many regards and an appeal is at least -- at least a doable appeal --

STEPHANOPOULOS: So it does bother you on say the January 6th case?

PRIEBUS: It could. Yeah. But I also -- but listen, I think that this case is unique. I think that when you have a case where the statute of limitations has run, and the only way you can revive the case by hooking a federal crime, that's where the appeal is. That's the appeal.

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: You know, George, the spin is getting quite old.

PRIEBUS: It's not spin.

BRAZILE: The spin is getting quite old. Let's attack the legal system. Let's attack the jury. Let's attack the judge. Let's do everything, but show remorse, contrition. That's why Donald Trump is -- was also held liable for defamation, accused of sexual assault. That's why he still has 54 convictions that he must get through. But I agree with one thing. The verdict will be rendered by the voters in November, in 157 days.

But to have the presumptive nominee of one major political party facing jail time or facing probation, whatever it may be, whatever the judge may decide, it's a huge deal, and this is not the place for spin. You know, I want to say one thing about Mr. Bragg. Mr. Bragg was reluctant until he saw the facts. He was reluctant. He didn't campaign on this like all of the other candidates running to replace D.A. Vance.

They ran on crime, to reduce crime, to focus on incarceration. They ran on real issues. He only made reference to Mr. Trump when his name came up. So I don't think we should demagogue these issues because I do believe the president -- the former president needs to face the music even, if you don't like the genre (ph).

STEPHANOPOULOS: Jonathan, any other time, we could say pretty much for certain that if a nominee of a party was a convicted felon --


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- they would be pushed out by their party.

MARTIN: They would face enormous pressure to drop out of the race. The opposite has happened in this case because Trump is completely the dominant figure in the GOP and he brooks no dissent whatsoever. We saw that again this week. But look, the fact is that being a felon is not good for a campaign. Let's just be straight about that, OK? It's not an asset, it is not helpful. It is not getting him folks that he doesn't already have.

Yes, (inaudible) fires up his base, but it's not growing his vote. This is a margins election. It is going to be decided at the margins in three states.


MARTIN: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and I think anything that hurts Trump or hurts Biden slightly is significant. And this is definitely going to hurt Trump in those handful of states, especially with an important group of voters. Those who aren't following thisthat closely, and all they hear and all they absorb is the top line, "Convicted felon."

JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: And we saw that come out of the poll that -- that we were talking about earlier today, where you do see these double haters, the ones they don't like Biden; they don't like Trump.


PACE: And they are looking at that -- at least in some initial surveys here, they are looking at this and saying, "Yeah, I don't like this. This -- this isn't helpful." But Jonathan's exactly right. I mean, we know how Trump supporters are going to react to this. We know how Republican elected officials are going to react to that. But it's going to be this small number of voters in a couple of key places who, in most instances, are not paying that much attention.

And I think this presents, kind of, the challenge for the Biden campaign and for Biden himself, is what is their strategy? How do they approach this? How aggressive are they going to be, or how much do they let Trump himself and some of these other legal issues that he faces really try to drive this for them?

MARTIN: Because Biden's not comfortable with this kind of politics.

PACE: He's not.

MARTIN: I mean, he's a norms figure...

PACE: Yep.

MARTIN: ... someone who's old-school, been in Washington for a half century. He doesn't like leveraging this stuff. But a lot of folks in his party say, "This is your opening. Go for it."

PRIEBUS: I think you're missing one important point. To win these presidential elections -- and you're right, Jonathan, it's going to come down to a few thousand votes in three states -- you need money and you need enthusiasm. And when you can drive enthusiasm off the charts, you can win these elections. And that's what it's going to come down to.

So who's knocking the doors? Who's -- who's doing the work on the ground? Who's energized to say, "I'm going to go to war for this candidate?"

When you compare the enthusiasm of Donald Trump against the enthusiasm of Joe Biden, there's no comparison. And this case is going to make -- pour fuel on the fire.

BRAZILE: I mean, it's -- it's very difficult to get the crowd to be riled up when there's no primary. I think one of the problems and the challenges that the Biden campaign is facing is that they have to energize. We didn't have a primary on the Democratic side. You all had a primary. Your voters are very energized.

But let me just tell you something. There are many of the voters on the Republican side, including those independents who lean Republicans who are now second-guessing their decision to support Donald Trump because he's a convicted felon.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What does this mean for the debates?

MARTIN: I think it's going to make it very, very awkward to have, I think, more than one debate.

Look, I think having one debate, as we're apparently going to have here in June, is extraordinary. And I think it speaks to the Biden -- the Biden White House recognizing he had to change the nature of this campaign, that this campaign before the conviction, at least, was not going that well for Joe Biden. He had to change that trajectory.

I am really fascinated to see how that debate goes and if the Biden folks feel like they have gotten Trump, between the debate and this conviction, back center of the camera frame, if they want a second debate.

PACE: Well, this is, I think, one of the things that the Biden campaign is trying to do, right? They do feel like there is this whole conversation happening, that Donald Trump is leading, that a lot of voters are not seeing. And their -- their belief has always been, if they can get Donald Trump in front of more people...

MARTIN: Exactly -- right, exactly.

PACE: They know that sounds a little -- a little crazy to talk about, when you think about how often Trump is talking, but he's not talking to a lot of these voters that are going to make the difference here. And so this is the -- this is their opportunity.

But again, for Biden, how much does he focus that debate on Trump? How much does he want to talk about his own record? How much does he want to talk about the economy or the Middle East?

I think Trump will actually try to put him on the spot on those issues, perhaps more than Biden will want to focus on them.

PRIEBUS: And I think -- I think, to that point, I think the debate is actually going to be very, on the substance, very bad for -- for President Biden, because, in the end, this election is going to come down to the economy, where we sit in the world, inflation, the border, all the issues that are plaguing the Biden campaign right now.

And he's -- and these moderators are going to force those issues. The moderator's not going to sit there and make this a discussion about, you know, whether Trump's -- his convictions, or whether Biden's too old. They're going to talk about the issues.

MARTIN: But, Reince, the perception.

PRIEBUS: And that's going to hurt Biden.

MARTIN: But, Reince, the perception of "the felon versus the old man," that perception is what's driving this campaign.


MARTIN: Of course policy matters. But those two issues are the question. "Do you want the felon or the old man?"

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you really think the moderators are not going to bring up the felony?

PRIEBUS: No, they're going to -- of course they're going to bring it up, but I think, when you have an hour and a half debate, you're going to have to talk about the substantive issues.

BRAZILE: Are you trying to help your children prepare for a future or are you just thinking about yourself and your own problems?

This debate is about the future of the United States of America. And while we talk about the two characters, or the two individuals, it's really about the future of the country. It is about lowering crime and making sure that people can afford to -- we call it in Louisiana, "make groceries," buy groceries, if you live outside of New Orleans.


BRAZILE: And it is about, you know, whether or not we can stop the flow of migrants from the border. But it's also about the quality of life. It's about climate change, at a time we just heard that this may be the worst hurricane season in memory.

So I do think that Joe Biden has a case to make, because he is focused on the American people, not himself. That's the difference in this race.

PRIEBUS: But he can't break through. That's his problem.

BRAZILE: Well, it's -- you know what?

PRIEBUS: He hasn't been able to break through.

BRAZILE: You know what, the good news is there are 157 days and I would much rather have Biden's record than Trump's record.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right. Was it smart of the Trump campaign to attack their Senate candidate in Maryland overseeing respected jury?

PRIEBUS: This is a long-going feud between Larry Hogan and President Trump, and I think what you see there is just a culmination of that argument. So --

MARTIN: No. It wasn't smart?

PRIEBUS: I would just rack it up that way.

PACE: Well, if Republicans -- if Republicans wanted to attack the Senate --

PRIEBUS: We're not fighting in Maryland. We're not worrying about where Maryland is going to go.

BRAZILE: Yes, the Senate.

MARTIN: But this (inaudible).

PACE: You might need to.


PACE: If you want to take back the Senate, you do need to worry about Maryland.

PRIEBUS: And does it help Larry Hogan in Maryland to be in a fight with Trump or hurt him? It helps him.

MARTIN: But, you can't have a political coalition in which you tolerate any critique of your party leader, even from the bluest of states, it speaks to the fragility of that coalition and that's the challenge here, is that Trump has a stranglehold on his coalition. The MAGA movement is strong as all get out, but it's not a 51 percent coalition, and this is the key point from this conviction this week. How does this get Trump any more votes he didn't already have before the conviction?

PRIEBUS: Which is why Trump is 20 points better today with voters under 30. He's 20 points better with Hispanic voters. He's doing better with Black voters in America. That coalition argument is one of the reasons why President Trump is doing so well in spite of these issues that you're bringing up here.

PACE: We have not seen -- I think Jonathan's point is, you may see that in some of the polling right now. We've not seen that actually in an election, right? That is the challenge.

PRIEBUS: Well, we'll see.

PACE: Can we turn some -- exactly. Can we turn that into actual results in the election?

MARTIN: And can Joe Biden make the campaign about Donald Trump and vice versa? Because whoever this campaign is about, that person is going to lose, right?

PRIEBUS: We have been arguing about this for a long time. The news is 24/7 Trump and Trump right now either tied, slight ahead, or slightly behind. He's right there. So, this idea that if it's about Trump, it hurts Trump, it just isn't true.

BRAZILE: You know, the good news is, again, 157 days and Joe Biden has an ability to bring that coalition together. You mentioned that Black voters and Hispanic voters and young voters, yeah, they have been flirting with a new dance partner. But you know what? When they find out that the new dance partner is a convicted felon, they're going to run as far away from him as possible.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That is the last word today. Thank you all very much. We'll be right back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "World News Tonight." And I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."