'This Week' Transcript 7-23-23: Gov. Jay Inslee, Mayor Grace Elena Garner & Rep. Michael McCaul

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, July 23.

ByABC News
July 23, 2023, 9:26 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, July 23, 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.


ANNOUNCER: THIS WEEK with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your arms are burning. Your face is burning.

RADDATZ: Extreme temperatures shatter global records. Earth's 20 hottest day ever, all measured this month.

MAYOR REGINA ROMERO, MAYOR OF TUCSON, ARIZONA: It's tangible climate change in front of us.

MAYOR KATE GALLEGO, MAYOR OF PHOENIX, ARIZONA: We lose more Americans to heat than most other disasters combined.

RADDATZ: With no end in sight, how are communities handling the heat? We're live in the hot spots with Ginger Zee diving into the warming waters of Florida. Palm Springs Mayor Grace Elena Garner and Washington state Governor Jay Inslee.

High alert. North Korea fires off ballistic missiles after a U.S. nuclear submarine enters the waters off of South Korea.

And we got exclusive access to the USS Kentucky, a nuclear armed ballistic missile submarine here in port for the first time in 40 years in South Korea.

And the latest on the U.S. soldier who fled across the border with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul.

Trump's turmoil.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you say something about an election, they want to put you in jail for the rest of your life.

RADDATZ: The Republican frontrunner faces a third possible indictment, as a federal judge sets his classified documents trial smack in the middle of the 2024 campaign season.

All the fallout with our powerhouse roundtable.


ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s THIS WEEK. Here now, Martha Raddatz.

RADDATZ: Good morning and welcome to THIS WEEK.

Wherever you are joining us from this morning, the scorching summer heat wave, unlike anything we've seen before, is affecting your life. It's engulfed parts of the country for weeks, torching the southwestern and eastern United States with triple-digit temperatures, leaving tens of millions of people under heat alert this weekend. It is a life-threatening emergency.

The extreme heat is also searing Europe and Asia, putting the world on track once again for the hottest month ever recorded. It's a record that is not likely to stand for long as scientists warn that human activities contributing to an increasingly warming planet could lead to a future where weather like this will become more common, more deadly, and longer lasting.

It's an urgent global challenge for people, their communities, their countries, and the planet we all share. We'll cover the relentless heat from all angles this morning, beginning with Zohreen Shah just outside Palm Springs, California.

Good morning, Zohreen.


The Palm Springs area, as you know, they are used to this heat, but they've never seen anything like this before. This is incredibly dangerous. And this is just one of the many communities in this region facing this challenge of this long heat wave. And you get a sense of the strain on the communities just being out here.

Yesterday, we were in downtown Palm Springs, in the heart of that city. People finally came out in the evening, but it was practically a ghost town in the afternoon compared to a normal summer night. It is just too dangerous to be outside during the day. You could feel it. And the fear is that a prolonged stretch like this can impact businesses and just the entire ecosystem in a very big way.

Palm Springs reached a record ninth consecutive day of over 115 degrees. The all-time record high in Palm Springs is 123 degrees. And on Friday, the area hit 120, inching very close to that record.

Now, we were here with firefighters yesterday too, and they tell me they have seen 26 pure heat-related incidents and illnesses in the Palm Springs region since just Friday. They actually predict the actual impact of the heat on emergency incidents is actually a lot higher than that too.


RADDATZ: Zohreen Shah, thanks so much to you.

Let's go overseas now. Europe suffering through an intense heat wave with the highest temperatures ever recorded in some countries. Marcus Moore is in Greece, where wildfires have raged for nearly a week outside Athens.

Good morning to you, Marcus.


What's been happening here, particularly in southern Europe, is unprecedented. Not only have the records for daily high temperatures been broken in many places, but also for the duration of some of these heat waves. Spain right now seeing temperatures over 100 degrees. Italy, the same story there. And here in Greece, officials expect this current heat wave to extend to 17 days. That has never happened before. It’s been so hot here that famous attractions like the Acropolis have either curtailed their hours or they have shut down completely. Residents and tourists are all being urged to hydrate and to stay indoors.

And as you know, the hot, dry, windy conditions have been fueling dozens of wildfires across parts of Greece. Several European countries have sent in reinforcements to help Greece try to stay ahead of these fires that have been burning now for nearly an entire week. And right now, we know that about 800 firefighters are involved in this fight.

There have been mass evacuations on Rhodes Island, which is southeastern Greece, where the flames have threatened homes and at least two resort hotels.

Martha, they are hoping for a break in the weather to come on Monday, but it won't last long because another heat wave is expected to last through the rest of the next week.


RADDATZ: Truly a critical situation. Thank you, Marcus.

As the planet records its hottest days, weeks and months on record this summer, we want to look at how we got here and what can be done to slow this down, both on land and at sea.

Here's ABC’s chief meteorologist and climate unit managing editor, Ginger Zee.


GINGER ZEE, ABC NEWS CHIEF METEOROLOGIST & ABC NEWS CLIMATE UNIT MANAGING EDITOR (voice over): This July, the desert southwest to the Florida Keys have seen scorching temperatures, obliterating records with no end in sight. Earth's hottest 20 days ever recorded by human instruments have all been measured this month. Because of El Nino we knew this would be a hot year, but human-induced climate change is also amplifying the warming of our planet, and we're seeing the consequences. Both for us --

CAPTAIN SCOTT DOUGLAS, PHOENIX FIRE DEPARTMENT: We're about 20 percent up in our – in our heat-related emergencies for this month, and also for this year.

ZEE: But also in the oceans.

KELSEY JOHNSON-SAPP, PHD STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI ROSENSTIEL SCHOOL: We are seeing ocean temperatures that are far exceeding bleaching (Ph) thresholds that we normally only see in August and September.

ZEE: Florida's reef has taken a beating over the last four decades, losing more than 90 percent of its live cover due to pollution, hurricanes and consistently warming water.

KERI O’NEIL, SENIOR CORAL SCIENTIST, THE FLORIDA AQUARIUM: The team came out to monitor this site a few weeks ago, and the corals were looking pretty good. But our water temperatures at that time were 91 degrees.

ZEE: We joined the team at the Florida Aquarium to check on Florida's coral reef.

ZEE: Here we go.

ZEE (voice over): Within seconds, we saw it.

ZEE: It's all white. It's dead. That means within the last two weeks, bleached, gone.

ZEE (voice over): This will likely be the worst bleaching event that the Florida Keys has ever seen.

ZEE: Immediately when we went in you saw white.

O’NEIL: Yes.

ZEE: I mean big patches.

O’NEIL: As soon as I put my face in the water, my heart dropped into my stomach.

ZEE (voice over): While this reef might not recover this year, researchers across Florida say they'll keep working to protect coral reefs into the future.

JOHNSON-SAPP: This is where we test the viability of coral reef intervention strategies.

ZEE: But they can't do it alone.

ZEE: Can our band-aids like this fix forever?

O’NEIL: Band-aids certainly can't fix it forever. We need to take action to stop the warming of our planet.

ZEE: That observation station behind me is one of so many that have been recording those unprecedented hot water temperatures. But the scientists that we were diving with say, you don't even need that data. The coral is telling us the story. All of this, both the marine scientists, the meteorologists and climatologists say have a really heavy fingerprint of human-amplified climate change. And that's why the talk about emissions and reducing them is all important.

ZEE (voice over): The Biden administration also feeling the pressure to make meaningful climate goals a reality, both at home and abroad.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. CLIMATE ENVOY: Every step forward depends not on one country acting alone, but acting all together, helping to push the rest of the world to do what we need to do to win this battle.

ZEE: But the 2024 presidential election raising questions about how big a priority climate will continue to be on the national stage.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The oceans will rise over the next three years by one-eighth of an inch. It creates more beachfront property, actually. That's the way you have to view it. ZEE: Climate scientists agree that politics aside, business as usual will be a disaster for the climate.

For THIS WEEK, Ginger Zee, ABC News, from Virginia Key, Florida.


RADDATZ: And our thanks to Ginger.

Joining us now is Palm Springs, California Mayor Grace Elena Garner.

Good morning, Mayor. It's great to have you with us this morning.

We know Palm Springs is – is used to these very hot temperatures, but nothing like this. Not so extended, day after day after day. We heard from Zohreen. But I want you to tell us the human toll you've really seen. What impact this has had on your city.

MAYOR GRACE ELENA GARNER, MAYOR OF PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA: You know, for lifelong residents like me, this isn't unusual. But what is unusual is that duration, as you said. And what we see is that we have workers who are outside every day doing gardening, working on AC repair, and then, of course, are unhoused. And those populations are really getting the brunt of this impact. If they're not able to be inside during our hottest hours, it really impacts their health.

We do see our firefighters attending to more heat-related incidents. And we see more heat related incidents at our hospital. We’re lucky to have a level 1 trauma center and we do robust education in our community. But it still is really important for people to stay inside.

RADDATZ: You said even last year that your city's electric grid is at -- is at risk for rolling blackouts. So what has been done to secure that? And what plans are in place if it goes out?

GARNER: We have three cooling centers that are open seven days a week and they're open throughout the summer. So, any time anyone would experience a blackout, they have a place to go. But we're also in very close communication with the electric company in our area to make sure that we're addressing these concerns.

They were just at a council meeting a couple of weeks ago, and we’re having a power talk with our -- the electric company and our residents on August 1st, to make sure we're addressing issues. And we’re really putting pressure on them to make sure that they’re upgrading the infrastructure as often as possible so that we don't have blackouts at all.

RADDATZ: And, Mayor, you mentioned the unhoused. You have about 400 people experiencing homelessness there in Palm Springs, but we're told you only have around 30 overnight shelter beds. So, that certainly won't help.

GARNER: Correct. Well, we have 400 people who are experiencing homelessness in some way, but not all of those people are living outside at this time. They might be living in friends' homes or with family members. But what we're working on is opening up a navigation center that would have 80 beds for transitional housing as well as another 50 shelter spaces, and we're working as hard as we can to get that open very quickly.

But we also make sure to partner with other shelters within the area and with the Riverside County to get people into housing as quickly as possible.

RADDATZ: And Phoenix's Mayor Kate Gallego has called on the federal government to call extreme heat situations a natural disaster and increase the resources from the federal government. What would you like to see happen with the federal government? Do you agree with her?

GARNER: We absolutely need more support. We are seeing the impacts of climate change, and, you know, as I said for me, this temperature is something that I’m used to. I’m a lifelong resident.

What I’m concerned about is the rest of the country, the rest of the world who is experiencing this extreme heat for the very first time. When your body isn't used to these high temperatures, it can go into a shock. So if we don't act now, if we don't make sure that we're putting in the re -- putting in the actions that we need to reduce the impacts of climate change, we are just going to see this get worse and worse.

RADDATZ: And what do you think has to happen? What would you like to see happen nationally? Locally? In the short-term?

GARNER: In the short-term, I would love to see us put more funding towards electric vehicles, towards walking and biking paths, toward more shade. We're doing that in Palm Springs. We're adding shade to our playgrounds. We’re working on shaded paths, walking paths in our city.

We want people to be able to be protected even when they are outside, and those are really quick short-term solution.

But we also need more money for housing. You know, again, if people are outside -- living outside because they have no place to go, that's a huge problem and we don't have enough money to build housing as rapidly as we need to, and there's a lot of roadblocks even when we do have the funds. So anything that we can do to make sure that people are having safe places to live is of vital importance.

RADDATZ: Okay. Thanks very much for joining us this morning, Mayor. We appreciate it.

And we're joined now by Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, a leading advocate for climate action.

Governor, thanks for joining us. How much do you think climate change is to blame here?

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: Well, look, the climate change problem, the fuse has been burning for decades, and now the climate change bomb has gone off. The scientists are telling us that this is the new age. This is the age of consequences because whatever we thought of climate change last year, we now understand that the beast is at the door. We knew this beast of climate change was coming for us, but now, it's pounding on the door.

And I think it's interesting, the most sort of summary of this situation, what the scientific community is telling us now, is that the earth is screaming at us, and that is the situation. I talked to a leading international scientist the other day who told me that we knew this was going to happen to us, but it's happening to us maybe two decades earlier than we really thought could – could be in the realm of the possible.

So we have to dramatically increase our efforts. That is necessary. Now, the good news – there’s good news here. We can do this. Look, we’re electrifying our transportation fleet. We’re electrifying our homes. This is a solvable problem, but we need to stop using fossil fuels. That is the only solution to this massive assault on humanity.

RADDATZ: What – what, at this point, you know, we heard Ginger Zee talk about this, what are meaningful climate goals, in -- in one year, in five years, in ten years, that can be achieved?

INSLEE: Well, we can take short-term action. Look, we've said we're not going to be selling internal combustion cars after 2035. We're electrifying our ferries here in Washington state. We have a law that demands 100 percent clean energy in a – in a couple decades. We’re (INAUDIBLE).

I do want to note that, that this is not just something for the federal government. States can act. Our state is acting. We have 23 states in the U.S. Climate Alliance. And this is necessary. We’ve had tremendous action under President Biden's leadership with the Inflation Reduction Act. And, unfortunately, the Republicans are trying to repeal that now. But we need to go further and faster. And states can go further and faster. And we are doing that.

And, again, the good news is, all around my state, I can't turn over a rock without seeing new jobs associated with clean aviation fuel, with new types of batteries. It's very exciting what's going on right now in inventing a new economy. And we're doing that right in Washington state and people are getting great jobs because of this.

So, there’s two parts to this story. This thing is now the age of consequences. The bomb has gone off. But we do have the ability to restrain fossil fuels if we make the commitments we need to. And I'm glad that we’re in a state that's doing that.

RADDATZ: And – and, Governor – Governor – Governor, on that point, let's – let’s broaden the lens here. You heard John Kerry, the – the climate czar, say that every step forward depends not on one country acting alone but acting all together, helping to push the rest of the world to do what we need to do to win this battle. That really isn't happening. Just look at China.

So –

INSLEE: Not yet.

RADDATZ: But time is running out.

INSLEE: Well, not – not yet.

RADDATZ: The bomb is already here, as you said.

INSLEE: Exactly.

RADDATZ: So, what do you do?

INSLEE: Exactly. Look –

RADDATZ: How – how do you bring others together? It's one thing what your state is doing, what the nation is trying to do, but this is a worldwide problem.

INSLEE: You lead. You tell your kids to lead. When you send them to summer camp you say, lead. And the United States should be and is the leader in this effort. And people are coming along. We need to – to lead. And we need to lead not just from a moral standpoint, but from our self-interest standpoint. We need to build these jobs here and build these economies here, these battery companies that are coming in throughout the Midwest.

We're rebuilding the rust belt in the Midwest United States into the Silicon belt, and the belt of – of knew innovation. So, this is a self-interest for us to take action. And we're certainly committed to it. And, again, if you want to be an economic leader, follow Washington state in what we're doing. We're – we’re building the, you know, the – the largest fuel cell in the world, powering the largest truck in the world.

RADDATZ: Governor.

INSLEE: New kinds of batteries we have invented here. You bet.

RADDATZ: Governor, you have, just quickly if you can, you know, you have candidates out there like Donald Trump, who mock the idea of climate change, and there are a vast number of Americans who ignore it, don't care about it, or – or don't believe it. How do you convince those people it's time to care?

INSLEE: Well, we can't wait for Donald Trump to figure this out. Time -- we don't have time to mess around to wait for this knucklehead to figure this out. We just got to make sure he's not in office. And the way we do this is vote against climate deniers. Vote against people who refuse to assist this moral and economic crisis that we have. You can't wait for these folks, you’ve just got to make sure they're not in office where they can do damage. Let them go off and play golf. We'll solve this problem. It's a solvable problem if we work together.

And people are coming around to this very, very rapidly because their homes are burning down. They're choking on smoke from the Canadian fires. When Ron DeSantis wants to go swimming, he can't because the water is like a sauna, like a hot tub off his beaches. We’ve just got to make sure those folks are not in office. We don't have the luxury of allowing these people to destroy the planet.

RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much for joining us this morning, Governor. We appreciate it.

INSLEE: You bet.

RADDATZ: Coming up, all eyes were on the Korean peninsula this weekend after a U.S. nuclear armed submarine made an historic port call in South Korea. We were there with an exclusive report.

Plus, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul joins us next.



SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN: We made clear, going back to early in this administration, that we were prepared to have negotiations with North Korea on the nuclear program with no preconditions. Here's the response we got, one missile launch after another. The response that North Korea has elicited with these repeated provocations has only been to solidify the work that the United States, Korea and Japan are doing together to make sure we can defend ourselves.


RADDATZ: That was Secretary of State Antony Blinken referring to the massive nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine that rolled into port this week in South Korea. We were right there aboard that docked submarine this week, its presence meant to reassure allies and send a strong message of deterrence to North Korea.


RADDATZ (voice over): They are the most destructive war ships in the world, and the U.S. has more than a dozen in its arsenal, secretly, silently spanning the globe. But this week, a very public display of power. The USS Kentucky, docked in the southern port of Busan, the first nuclear-armed submarine to enter these South Korean waters in four decades.

The Navy will not say officially that there are nuclear weapons on board this submarine, but make no mistake. I am standing on top of hundreds of nuclear warheads.

The ship's commanding officer takes us below deck, where you can see the orange missile tubes lining the ship, 20 of them with ballistic missiles, each one armed with more than a dozen nuclear warheads.

The Kentucky conducts routine training, as well as test launches like this one from the submarine, to make certain they are always prepared.

What's it like?

COMMANDER RANDY FIKE, COMMANDING OFFICER, GOLD CREW, USS KENTUCKY: It's -- it's very sobering, you know. We do these training simulations all the time, but nothing can really replicate the feel that happens when a -- when 100,000 pounds of D5 missile leaves the submarine.

RADDATZ: It is deterrence that is the focus of this submarine's visit, letting North Korea know just what would happen if they launched a weapon.

Rear Admiral Chris Cavanaugh is commander of Marine Group 7.

REAR ADMIRAL CHRIS CAVANAUGH, COMMANDER, SUBMARINE GROUP 7: Ballistic missile submarines like this deter exactly that type of conflict.

RADDATZ: Are you worried about the possibility it could backfire?

CAVANAUGH: I am very confident in our own nuclear deterrence.

RADDATZ: But this week's show of force was complicated by an unexpected and disturbing incident, that American soldier, Travis King, who bolted into North Korea at the demilitarized zone that divides the North and South. He was then taken away in a van by North Korean military. The Army private had just been released after serving 47 days in a South Korean jail on assault charges and was supposed to be on a flight back to the U.S. to face discharge from the Army.

While officials acknowledge attempts to establish communication with North Korea remain unanswered, retired U.S. General Robert Abrams who led U.S. forces in Korea until 2021 says this could be a long process.

GEN. ROBERT ABRAMS (RET.), FORMER COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES KOREA: I’m fairly confident that North Korea is going to take their time. They're going to consider every possible angle on how they will, you know, deal with this Travis King problem that they have, that we have, and how they will proceed.

RADDATZ: The Biden administration saying King's well-being is a top concern, including, says Secretary Blinken, the possibility he could be tortured.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: There are certainly concerns based on what we've seen in the past in the way that North Korea's treated those it's detained.


RADDATZ: And joining us now is the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Michael McCaul.

Good morning, Congressman.


RADDATZ: Let’s -- let’s start with Travis King. You heard Secretary Blinken there saying there are concerns he could be tortured. I'm sure he’s probably been interrogated in some way already.

What more do you know?

MCCAUL: You know, he was facing disciplinary charges and was going -- going to fly back to the United States. But, instead, he did not board the plane, went with a tour group to the DMZ and then ran across the line.

I -- you and I have been there. You -- that’s something you just don’t do. And now he was taken captive by North Koreans. And I'm sure that he’s not being treated very well. I think it was a serious mistake on his part and I hope we can get him back.

RADDATZ: But getting him back, we all want him returned safely and unharmed, but as you said, he went over there on his own. He decided to cross the border. So, that’s got to complicate any sort of negotiations that might take place.

MCCAUL: Correct. I mean, you know, questions, is he defecting. I think he was running from his problems. That was the wrong place to go.

But, you know, we see this with Russia, China, Iran. When they take an American, particularly a soldier, captive, they exact a price for that. And that’s what I worry about.

RADDATZ: And, of course, this comes at a time, as we were just saying, as that -- as that nuclear ballistic submarine is -- was in dock there in South Korea, which I saw. Is that a good ideal? And why now?

MCCAUL: Oh, I think it is. And I -- you know, I -- we were with, you know, Admiral Aquilino, Indo-PACOM commander. I think projecting strength right now is important for deterrence.

You know, as you note, it’s the first time in four decades we’ve had this deployment of submarines. And I think it’s a projection of strength that we need right now to deter aggression. We’re seeing a very aggressive, not only North Korea and the rockets they fired in the Sea of Japan, you know, but also the aggression we see from China.

When I just came back from Taiwan, they encircled the island with 10 battleships and armada, 70 fighter jets, to threaten and intimidate us. And then I was sanctioned, just to illustrate how aggressive their posture is now.

RADDATZ: But the reaction already from the North Koreans, and we’ve seen this again and again, is to say, look, now we can use nuclear weapons. And this was outrageous behavior. And we’re going to respond.

So, based on their reaction, just -- just, again, is deterrence going to work?

MCCAUL: North Korea needs to know that we’re there and we have superiority with the submarines, the nuclear subs. We need to get in their head, and Chairman Xi’s head, that if they do anything that’s aggressive militarily, we will -- there will be consequences to that.

And I think it’s not by accident, by design that you’re seeing the Pacific Command deploy these nuclear subs now for the first time in 40 years because attention has been provocative by Chairman Xi and North Korea, not by the United States, but rather by our adversaries.

RADDATZ: You have followed this for years and years. I have followed this for years and years. It really does seem to -- this cycle just repeats itself. So many presidents have tried to solve the problem of a nuclear North Korea. They have been unable to do this.

Is there another approach? Do -- should the United States just say, we’re going to accept that and join the nuclear nations, because we keep doing this over and over and over?

MCCAUL: And that never seems to work. You know, you’re right.

RADDATZ: Exactly.

MCCAUL: Are we going to work with Kim Jong-un to try -- I mean, you know, can we really persuade him?

He puts his own people at risk to build this expensive, you know, nuclear weapons. These -- they have capacity. They can reach the continental United States. They don’t have the nuclear warheads to put on it (INAUDIBLE) miniaturize them.


RADDATZ: But they’re trying.

MCCAUL: They’ve been trying. We’ve got to stay ahead of the curve.

China has a lot of influence, but China isn’t our best friend right now. So it’s a very complicated -- I think what --

RADDATZ: So, is there another approach?


RADDATZ: Can you imagine another approach, besides exactly what we’re doing over and over?

MCCAUL: I mean, it would have to be very creative diplomacy. And I think the reason why you're seeing the Pacific Command fleet there is to deter and bottleneck up (ph) North Korea in the event of a -- of a conflict with Taiwan. We need to -- to be with South Korea to bottleneck up North Korea. They could fire missiles into that conflict and take them off the table while we have to deal with China and Russia and Iran.

RADDATZ: And -- and I want to switch to climate. You -- you saw our first segment there, so much on climate. The scorching, scorching heat. Do you consider it a national security threat, climate change?

MCCAUL: I -- I think it's happening, right. And it's hot outside. And -- and the climate is changing. And when you have arid, you know -- the -- Africa, for instance, is becoming more and more arid, which, you know, famine, you know, breaks out of that. Terrorism breaks out of that -- those conditions.

I -- I, you know, test -- Kerry testified before my committee. My big objection is this, China should be held to the same standards. They are a developing nation under the U.N. Charter, self-designated, and that enables them to -- they can defer compliance of the Paris Agreements till 2060, while we have to be carbon neutral by 2030. And I said that to Secretary Kerry. And my constituents agree that fairness --

RADDATZ: Who's our -- our climate czar.

MCCAUL: This is not fair to treat them as a develop -- they're the second largest economy superpower and the number one polluter in the planet. If we're going to do this at all, Martha, do it right and make them comply to our terms.

RADDATZ: And -- which we keep trying to do, I know.

Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

MCCAUL: Thanks for having me.

RADDATZ: Senator [Congressman] McCaul, appreciate it always.

Up next, the third indictment looks eminent for former President Donald Trump. The Roundtable weighs in, after the break.

Stay with us.



MIKE PENCE (R), FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not convinced that the president acting on bad advice of – of a group of crank lawyers that came into the White House in the days before January 6th is actually criminal.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL) AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope he doesn't get charged. I don't think it will be good for the country.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC) AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can only hold responsible the very people who threaten my life, and the former president did not threaten my life.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He sat in the White House for hours while the attack was going on in the Capitol and did absolutely nothing.


RADDATZ: Donald Trump's 2024 rivals reacting to the news he received a target letter from special counsel Jack Smith strongly indicating he will be indicted again. This time for efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Let's bring in our roundtable.

"Washington Post" Live anchor Leigh Ann Caldwell, ABC News political director Rick Klein, "USA Today" editor-in-chief Terrence Samuel, and “Politico” national investigative correspondent Heidi Przybyla.

Welcome to all of you this morning.

And, Heidi, I want to start with you and let's stay on this January 6th criminal investigations that special counsel sending the target letter to Donald Trump. This is coinciding with a lot of investigations coming to a head.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, POLITICO NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Right, Martha, and I did speak with a DOJ official recently who said that part of the goal here was to get ahead of some of those, to get ahead of the potential Georgia charges and that we should expect this to happen absolutely that the president -- former president will be indicted within a week or two.

We already know a little bit about this based on what the protesters and the rioters were charged with, with obstruction of justice or witness tampering. We know a little bit about what a previous judge has already said. Donald Trump and his lawyer, John Eastman, were guilty of with conspiracy to defraud the American people, Martha. The one thing to watch here for new information really is about how all of this was the culmination of a broader scheme that really started with the same team of, in his words, crank lawyers, who filed the lawsuits, who then arranged for the fake electors. And drawing this all back to the White House as well, Martha.

I've spoken with people in Michigan who said, those fake electors, that happened in multiple states and they were doing it at the direction of the Trump campaign. So, you're bringing this all back to Washington as well. If you recall, there was actually a draft executive order to seize voting machines. And again, this all happened and was discussed in meetings with the former president.

RADDATZ: And – and – and, Terrence, as – as Heidi mentioned, the January 6th Committee had recommended charges of conspiracy to defraud the government and obstruction of an official proceeding, but this target letter has a third that it talks about, and that's an old civil rights voter fraud?

TERENCE SAMUEL, USA TODAY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: The – the – the target letter that we -- that we saw this week that would suggest clearly that the former president is about to be indicted is really a culmination, yes, but it – it seems, in some ways, very much an escalation of what has been happening to the president.

Surely there's -- certainly there's been New York, and certainly there was the -- the previous indictment on the -- the classified documents cases. But this feels different. I mean, this is -- I mean, it's a federal case because it's a federal case. And I think the -- what we see with the former president is that he has framed it, of course, as this political witch hunt and a political problem to solve, but I think the further we go, based on everything that we know about the case and, kind of, how the DOJ approaches this, he's going to be a criminal defendant while he is a -- a candidate for president. And I think that's going to be a huge deal for him to deal with.

RADDATZ: And -- and, Leigh Ann, do you feel like this one's different, that, you know, you had the classified documents case; you had these other cases they're looking at. Does this feel weightier? Might we -- I mean, Heidi, you said you might have new information. They might have new information. Do you sense that as well?

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, WASHINGTON POST LIVE ANCHOR: We're going to have to wait and see. So in a normal world with regular people, yes, it would absolutely be different.


But we are talking about Donald Trump, who has been able to defy any sort of thing that anyone -- normal expectations. I was talking to a lot of Republicans, and they are also holding their breath, waiting to see.

There's two things here. They think that, on one hand, it's going to continue -- he's going to continue this victim moniker, and that's what his supporters are going to continue to do. It's a two-tiered system of justice, weaponization of the government; he is just a victim. But on the other hand, some Republicans are cautiously worried that perhaps January 6th is going to hit a little bit different to the American public and to voters.

RADDATZ: And do you agree with that, Rick? I mean, it -- it really does seem like Donald Trump tries to make it sound like just, "This again, this again, this again."

RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah, and this is a -- this is a visceral moment that people have firsthand memories of. This is not about hush money to porn stars. This is not about classified documents. This is very easy to comprehend.

And by the same token, to Leigh Ann's point, the rival campaigns are -- are almost to the point of resignation around this. They're not expecting that this is the thing that brings him down. I've talked to a number of campaigns that, kind of, have the same theory of the case, that Donald Trump's the front-runner. He's going to be the front-runner all the way through.

The question is, who else can emerge? Where -- how else do you position? Because most of the Republicans, kind of, like Donald Trump, and they're inclined to believe what he says and his spin on this, despite the fact that we're talking about multiple court dates, multiple investigations, multiple indictments that are happening against the political calendar. That might make him stronger. The question is who -- who emerges as the rival? That's the churn we're seeing. The front-runner's set.

RADDATZ: I want to -- I want to get to the politics of that in just a minute. But, Heidi, I want to go back to you. I mean, these -- these are very serious allegations he's facing. Is it possible he could end up in prison? I mean, and what would that do to the country?

PRZYBYLA: These charges, according to what I've read, could include prison time, just independent of talking about a former president, of just talking about anyone. The type of charges that he's facing could include prison time.

Now, what we're also learning here, just by watching, Martha, is what his strategy seems to be here, which is not to win these overwhelming charges against him, not to have that eradicated in court but to win re-election and to win in the court of public opinion so that then he could potentially pardon himself or use other levers of government.

And you see that with his -- his lawyers pushing, pushing, pushing to have all of this delayed. They're citing his poll numbers. Well, they're not saying he didn't do these things. They're saying his poll numbers are going up. And then, Martha, a couple of weeks ago Jeffrey Clark, who is of course one of the lawyers, one of the attorneys who was at the Justice Department, advising President Trump at the time, drew up a memo. And the title of it is "The U.S. Justice Department is not independent."

That is an indication of what the plan is to then take control of parts of the Justice Department and have a lot of this eradicated.

SAMUEL: It is -- it is weightier. It is different. I mean, the case is going to be captioned "The United States of America v. Donald J. Trump." That is not an insignificant deal. And he is facing jail time. And, you know, federal indictments, particularly at this level, suggest that they have a really, really strong case, to the extent that -- that President Trump can frame this as a political argument. I think he wins on some level. But at some point during this process, he is a criminal defendant facing a lot of jail time and a -- a very onerous process to get either to trial or past trial. And it's -- it's going to be hard to see how he manages the legal calendar and the political calendar without some kind of damaging consequences.

RADDATZ: And I want to talk about that, that legal calendar versus the campaign strategy. Rick, back to you. Let's take a look at that calendar. You've got October 2023, civil fraud trial begins. In January, the E. Jean Carroll defamation trial, the same time as the Iowa Presidential Caucus, Super Tuesday primaries. That is a collision course to say the least, Rick.

KLEIN: Yeah, and look, the political strategy is the legal strategy; the legal strategy is the political strategy. They're all merging and they're going to have to merge if Donald Trump is going to be successful. And look, we're going to see the first debate about a month from now. How do the other candidates frame this?

The voters seem to be pretty consistent on this so far in backing him up. Does this look different? Is this just kind of Trump fatigue that sets in for many voters? If you look at how other candidates are framing it, they're not even saying -- most of them aren't saying, look, dereliction of duty or this was awful, other than Chris Christie. Their point is…

RADDATZ: Yeah, that was a long string of people not --


RADDATZ: That's right. Yeah.

KLEIN: Most of them are just saying like, all the noise, the distraction. Take a look at how Nikki Haley, even Ron DeSantis are framing this. They are making the point that we need a fresh start. We need a fresh slate. We need to look forward because that is a lot of looking back. If you are out there, having to show up in court and explain past actions, and trying to explain what you are doing and why you behaved appropriately in your view, that's a lot of re-litigating the past in a country that always must look forward.

RADDATZ: But, Leigh Ann, he's embracing this as a campaign strategy, just as you said, the victim. When you look at that calendar --

CALDWELL: He's going to have a very busy winter…


CALDWELL: …and spring to say the least, but he is. There was a story that my colleagues wrote in "The Washington Post" earlier this week that was really informative that one of his PACs raised $35 million in the last quarter, but half of it -- half of that money is going to his legal bills. And so this is part of intertwined with his campaign strategy. Is he though going to run out of money in order to campaign because he is too busy doing this other part, the legal strategy? The legal thing.

What's so interesting about this campaign is that you have this front-runner who is sucking up all the air in the room, and you have all these challengers minus one or two, who are unwilling to challenge the front-runner. That's what politics is all about, is trying to separate, draw contrasts and challenge other people. And you have an entire swath of candidates who aren't willing to do that because he has such -- the front-runner, Trump has such strong support among his voters.

RADDATZ: And speaking of those others who are running, Rick DeSantis is basically trying to reboot but that hit a real snag this week. He's trying to distance himself and go national instead of what's happening in Florida, but this week, the State's Board of Education implemented these new standards for teaching black history that suggests slaves benefitted from certain skills they developed as slaves.

Vice President Kamala Harris went straight down there to talk about that. Let's listen.


KAMALA HARRIS, (D) VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: How is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?



RADDATZ: Harris did not mention DeSantis by name, but he pushed back saying he had nothing to do with this, ask those involved. Although he said the reality is, all of that is rooted in whatever is factual and said her visit was ridiculous. Your reaction?

SAMUEL: It's incomprehensible how we could be having this conversation about the benefits of slavery. I understand the politics but, on some level, it is -- the conversation itself is completely ridiculous and we shouldn't be having it. But I think it goes to kind of the DeSantis strategy, how he basically converts the -- his successes in Florida to something national, and he is a culture warrior. It has worked for him.

And the question is, can that work beyond Florida? On this particular thing, it's hard to imagine that this is the way he wants to go.

RADDATZ: When -- Heidi, when you look at this, with DeSantis, with the others?

PRZYBYLA: Look, the DeSantis campaign realizes that they need to make a change. They're reaching out to donors and telling donors, oh, we're going to have this pivot. We're going to stop talking about Florida so much and more about what his agenda for the future is, you know, more earned media, et cetera, et cetera. It's hard to see how anyone else emerges.

DeSantis, Christie, anyone at this point, unless there's some huge tectonic shift, unless someone takes out Trump in a debate, more likely it is going to happen the other way around. But to get back to your other question, yeah, there's a good chance that the GOP nominee in 2024 could be a convicted felon. And then what does the GOP do about that? Because that's going to happen most likely, in between the end of the primary schedule and before the convention. So, this is going to be one heck of a convention.

RADDATZ: I got seven seconds about here, Rick, is he going to debate Donald Trump?

RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think Donald Trump is not going to be able to avoid the spotlight. It's a big moment and, you know, even if he's up 30 or 40 points, it may not be the smart political thing to do but I don't see him skipping all the debates.

RADDATZ: Very good on that seven seconds. Thank you, Rick.

Coming up Rachel Scott takes a closer look at why millions of Americans could be at risk of getting kicked off Medicaid. We'll be right back.


RADDATZ: When the COVID 19 pandemic hit, Congress blocked states from kicking people off Medicaid, which provides medical care to some people who are disabled or who have little to no income. But now that the public health emergency has been declared over, states can once again deny care to those making too much money to qualify, moving to different states or receiving health care from their employer.

But millions of Americans have been kicked off by mistake as ABC senior congressional correspondent Rachel Scott reports in the latest installment of through the cracks.


RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For five-year-old Penelope, appointments like these have become all too familiar. She's had more visits to the hospital than birthdays. Her mother Gillian by her side every step of the way.

Penelope was born with classic galactosemia, a rare genetic metabolic disorder that can cause lifelong health complications.

ROCKY SAPIA, PENELOPE'S FATHER: I would spend every dollar if I had to make sure she was OK, you know, because she's just -- she's just such a fighter.

SCOTT (voice-over): For this Florida Family, Medicaid is their lifeline, reducing the cost of Penelope's medications.

GILLIAN SAPIA, PENELOPE'S MOTHER: I'm so grateful for Medicaid because of --

BROOKS SAPIA: We couldn't do it.

G. SAPIA: We couldn't do it. We couldn't do it.

B. SAPIA: Yeah. It would be impossible.

SCOTT (voice-over): Gillian and her husband say they found their daughter had unexpectedly lost her coverage.

SCOTT: What was going through your mind?

G. SAPIA: I was crying all day. It was just so overwhelming, it is so defeating. I'm her caretaker and I felt like a bad mom.

SCOTT: Do you know why Penelope was kicked off of her coverage?

G. SAPIA: Ultimately, I don't. They didn't even tell me that it was dropped.

SCOTT (voice-over): During the pandemic, Congress stopped states from reviewing their rolls (ph) and kicking Americans off Medicaid. But the process started up again in April, with at least 33 states in the District of Columbia starting dis-enrollments. Since then, at least 3 million Americans have lost coverage.

Daniel Tsai oversees the program in Washington at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 7 million people who were eligible to receive Medicaid could still actually lose their coverage. Why is that happening?

DANIEL TSAI, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR MEDICARE AND CHIP SERVICES: We know and have estimated that roughly half of that 15 million will be people that are still eligible, and lose coverage not because their income has changed, but because of red tape of not getting a piece of paper in the mail or knowing that they were up for renewal and needing to submit and return a form to the state.

SCOTT (voice-over): Experts are concerned that potentially thousands, including children, are slipping through the cracks.

JOAN ALKER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGETOWN CENTER FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES: This is a really heavy lift. We see mistakes are made, families don't get the letter. They don't understand the letter. They have a hard time getting help.

SCOTT (voice-over): Florida's Department of Children and Families says it has developed a robust outreach campaign, including up to 13 direct contact attempts to recipients who do not submit a timely application. While the state declined to comment on Penelope's case due to privacy concerns, a spokesperson maintained everyone that is removed from Medicaid receives a final notice informing them the reason for termination.

After several weeks of calls and working with an advocacy group, they were finally able to get their daughter Penelope back on Medicaid, at least until the end of the review process.

SCOTT: Is that temporary relief? Do you feel that she could lose her coverage in a year?

G. SAPIA: You are waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don't trust -- trust it because if this can happen, it can happen again.


RADDATZ: Thanks to Rachel Scott. We'll be right back.


And that's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "World News Tonight" and have a great day.