'This Week' Transcript: Kellyanne Conway and Sen. Bernie Sanders
A rush transcript for "This Week" on Sunday, November 27, 2016.
— -- THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR 'THIS WEEK' on November 27, 2016 and it will be updated.
ANNOUNCER: Starting right now on THIS WEEK with George Stephanopoulos.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: Our transition team is working very smoothly, efficiently and effectively.
ANNOUNCER: As Trump heads to the White House, his inner circle deeply divided over secretary of state. Is the front-runner Rudy or Romney?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR TRUMP ADVISER: His appointments will come out when he's ready and not a moment sooner.
ANNOUNCER: Plus, Trump promised to leave his empire behind.
TRUMP: I couldn't careless about my company. It's peanuts.
ANNOUNCER: But will he do enough to avoid those conflicts of interest, or will his businesses profit from his presidency?
And the growing call for a recount. Does Hillary still have a shot? We take the tough questions to Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, Senators Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders, and the former chair of the joint chiefs of staff Admiral Mike Mullen.
From ABC News, it's THIS Week. Here now co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC HOST: Good morning and thanks for joining us this holiday weekend. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. It was a busy week for president-elect Donald Trump who spent his holiday at Mar-a-Lago filling in his cabinet, detailing some surprising shifts on key campaign promises. And while he is yet to hold a press conference as reflect, he released another taped message to the American people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's time to restore the bonds of trust between citizens. Let us give thanks for all that we have and let us boldly face the exciting new frontiers that lie ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: The once divisive candidate now calling for unity. We'll get to all that in a moment with former Trump rival Senator Ted Cruz in his first Sunday interview since dropping out of the race, Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, and Senator Bernie Sanders.
But first, the world reacting to Fidel Castro's death at 90. President Obama, who restored diplomatic relations with Cuba offering his condolences saying the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.
But will that friendship continue under Donald Trump? For more on that let's bring in Jim Avila in Havana and Tom Llamas outside Trump Tower in New York.
And Jim, let's start with you. We know Cuba will observe nine days of official mourning. What will that look like? What is the mood like there on the ground?
JIM AVILA, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Sunday it's a normal quiet Sunday morning, maybe quieter than normal. People have been told to mourn here, and that's what they're doing. And the state does have tremendous power to rally the faithful. 90 percent of the people employed here work for the government. Youth organizations are funded by the Communist Party. So, when they want to gather a crowd, like tomorrow, it won't be difficult to rally the faithful here and that they'll be out in force and they'll be out in force looking to celebrate Fidel Castro's life and his revolution.
RADDATZ: And Jim, Castro did hold power longer than any national leader except for Queen Elizabeth. And while in power, as he controlled almost aspect of Cuban life. Will his death now change people's day to day life there?
AVILA: You know, Martha, not right away. He is really stepped back in the last ten years since he was sick and just kind of tried to be the conscience of the Communist Party. His brother Raul has been running things hands-on with a tacit approval of Fidel Castro, and things will continue along the same path I believe until Raul Castro steps down as he promises to do by 2018.
You'll have to wait for the younger generation of politicians here if there's going to be any change at all or some kind of popular revolt among the people.
RADDATZ: And Tom Llamas, you were there in front of Trump Tower. You have covered the president-elect's route his entire campaign, over the weekend both President Obama and President-elect Trump released statements. They were extremely contradictory in tone. President Obama's statement talking about Castro's figure with enormous impact and Donald Trump saying today the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro's legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.
On the campaign trail, Trump promised he would reverse President Obama's opening to Cuba. Do you think that will happen or might Castro's death change all that?
TOM LLAMAS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You know, Martha, I think President-elect Trump has sent two very clear signals. First, that statement, it was almost as if it was drafted from a coffee stand in Little Havana. I can't tell you how many Cuban-American friends and relatives called me, some who voted for Trump, some who didn't, praising Trump's language on Castro's brutal legacy. They loved the very blunt terms.
Now the other thing he's done is that he's appointed one of the biggest supporters of the Cuban embargo to his transition team at the Treasury Department. Martha, that is no accident. And of course, Donald Trump sort of changed his policy on Cuba during his campaign. In the primaries he said he was open to dialogue with Cuba, but he wanted a better deal, then later during the general election campaign he said he would reverse President Obama's executive order on Cuba if the Castro regime did not, quote, meet our demands.
Now, it's unclear where this will play. Donald Trump still has to appoint a secretary of state and our top diplomat. Where does Cuba play on that person's list of important things when it comes to foreign policy. But I think right now Donald Trump has sent two very clear signals that he's going to be very tough with Cuba in the future, Martha.
RADDATZ: And, Tom, this story is so personal for you. Your grandparents and your parents in fact fled Cuba as political exiles. You have talked very powerfully and emotionally this weekend about your Cuban heritage. How has your family reacted to the news? And you?
LLAMAS: You know, I think -- as far as my family is concerned, there's a lot of joy. You see it on the streets of South Florida with those celebrations in Little Havana. And it's not joy that an old frail man is dead. That's not why they're celebrating, they're celebrating because a very dark chapter in their life has ended.
We were constantly reminded of Castro's legacy and his brutal regime living in Miami just 90 miles from Havana and we were reminded when we had to send family medicines and food to Cuba every single week, sending money every month when fishermen would find empty rafts floating in the Florida straits and our relatives would make it out of Cuba and would reach the United States legally.
And I'll never forget, Martha, one time meeting some cousins I had never seen before and they showed up to a hotel right on Biscayne Bay, right off of Biscayne Bay, and I remember telling my dad how thin they were -- my cousins, the parents and the children were so thin. And I'll never forget, Martha, the children, they were much older than toddlers. They were walking and running around, yet they were still being breastfed. Why? Because there was not enough milk to go around in Cuba, Martha.
RADDATZ: Thanks so much, Tom, for sharing that with us. And thanks to you, Jim, as well.
And for more now, let's turn to Republican Senator and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz of Texas.
Senator Cruz, you heard Tom talk about his family. You have Cuban heritage as well from your dad's side of the family. What was his reaction?
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Well, look, this is a powerful moment for people all across the country and especially for Cuban Americans. I was with my dad when he found out the news that Fidel Castro was dead and he simply said praise god.
You know, for so many of us whose families had been imprisoned, had been tortured, had seen the destruction of Cuba that Fidel Castro carried out, my dad as a teenager was imprisoned and tortured by Batista. He was beaten in a prison cell, had his teeth kicked out of his mouth. My aunt, my Tia Sonia (ph) whom I adore, she fought in the counter revolution against Castro, and she and her two best friends in high school were thrown in prison and tortured as teenage girls. And what they did to girls in Cuban prisons was unspeakable.
And you know, I first heard that Castro had passed to final judgment with a text from my cousin BB (ph) who is my Tia Sonia's (ph) daughter who just said that she got to call her mom and tell her mom Fidel is dead.
And for a man who was tortured and murdered and oppressed for so many, it is thankful he is no longer with us.
RADDATZ: So many powerful stories like that.
You know, you put out a statement paying tribute to Castro's victims. Those who had fought against him. Do you think his death will open a new chapter with increasing liberty for Cubans? What happens next?
CRUZ: Well, look, that is certainly my hope and my prayer.
Unfortunately, the policies of the Obama administration have made that less likely. What the Obama administration has done is strengthen Raul Castro. Raul is the dictator now.
You know, I asked my dad at dinner last night what do you think happens now that Fidel is dead? And he shrugged and said Raul has been in power for years. The system has gotten stronger. And what Obama has done is funneled billions of dollars to Raul Castro, which is being used to oppress dissidents. You know, in 2015 roughly 10,000 political arrests occurred in Cuba, that is five times as many as occurred in 2010 when there were only about 2,000.
This tyrannical regime has gotten stronger because of a weak president, weak foreign policy. And it is very much my hope and belief that with a new president coming into office in January, President Trump, a new administration, that U.S. foreign policy -- not just to Cuba, but towards our enemies, whether they are Iran or North Korea -- will no longer be a policy of weakness and appeasement, but instead using U.S. strength to force and press for change.
But I look for the day -- you know, I’ve never been to Cuba. I’ve never been to the land where my father was born, where he grew up. I look forward to coming Cuba, but seeing a free Cuba where people can live, where it’s pulled out of (INAUDIBLE)...
RADDATZ: So do you think the embargo was working?
CRUZ: -- land that time forgot.
RADDATZ: Do you think the embargo was working?
Do you want to double down on that?
CRUZ: You know, what I will say is the economic pressure was having real effect. Cuba was a client state of the Soviet Union for many, many years. When the Soviets collapsed, it put enormous economic pressure on Cuba.
But then Venezuela stepped in and provided petrol dollars in exchange for -- for troops. When Venezuela’s economy was cratering, President Obama stepped in with billions and is propping up the administration.
This ought to be a moment where Cubans are dancing in the street because they’re being liberated, but instead -- listen, if you dance in the street, you’re going to be thrown in jail.
Cuba is not a free society. You know, in 2015, some 2,000 churches in Cuba were declared illegal?
A hundred were destroyed by the government. You don’t have the freedom to worship God, to speak. And it is my hope that we will see U.S. strength prompting real change and real freedom in Cuba.
RADDATZ: Let’s -- let's turn to -- to President-elect Trump. You met with him last week...
RADDATZ: -- in Trump Tower. You said you want to work with the new president in whatever capacity you can have the greatest impact.
What capacity might that be?
CRUZ: Well, listen, we’ve got a lot of work to do. This election was a mandate for change. It astonished everyone. It astonished the pundits, it astonished the pollsters. And it was an overwhelming mandate. It was over 300 electoral votes. It was winning all across the Midwest, states that had gone Democratic for years after years after years, states like Pennsylvania and Michigan and Iowa and Wisconsin.
We have a mandate for change. And Republicans have been given the opportunity -- we’ve been given control of the White House, of every executive branch, and both houses of Congress. We can’t blow it. We have got to deliver.
And so I’m excited about working with President-elect Trump, working with the new administration to actually deliver on the promises we’ve made -- to repeal Obamacare, to lift the burdens on small businesses, to unleash energy, to...
RADDATZ: Well, on that -- on that point, Senator Cruz...
CRUZ: -- confirm strong principled conservatives to Supreme Court justices.
RADDATZ: Since his election, Mr. Trump has changed his tune on some of those issues. He said he wants to keep certain provisions of Obamacare instead of repealing and replacing the whole law, that mankind may be causing climate change and he’s open to abiding by the Paris Accord, and that same-sex marriage is settled law that he would not try to have the Supreme Court overturn.
Do those changes in his tone concern you?
CRUZ: Listen, what I’m going to work to do every day is to try to work closely with the new president, with the new administration, and with my colleagues in Congress to deliver on what we promised. I've got to say, if we don’t, if we’re given the White House and both houses of Congress and we don’t deliver, I think there will be pitchforks and torches in the streets. And I think quite rightly. I think people are so fed up with Washington.
This election was a mandate with change. And the most catastrophic thing Republicans could do is go back to business as usual.
And I’ll tell you there are a lot of reasons to be encouraged...
RADDATZ: So do you have real concerns about what he’s...
CRUZ: The new team Trump...
RADDATZ: -- (INAUDIBLE) in?
CRUZ: -- is bringing together.
Listen, the new team that Trump is bringing together is an impressive, serious team. Jeff Sessions as attorney general -- I know Jeff. I’ve worked closely with Jeff in the Senate. Jeff is a small, principled, serious conservative. I think he’s going to make an excellent attorney general.
You look at the national security team that’s coming around the Trump administration, it is a strong, serious national security team.
So I’m encouraged by the team that is coming together, by where there focus is. I’m encouraged by their plan for the first 100 days to act aggressively, lifting the burdens on small businesses and job creators. That’s what the president should be doing.
And from my end, I want to do everything I can to help President Trump have an incredibly successful administration, because if we deliver on the promises, that’s how we actually turn the country around, bring back jobs and raise wages for people that are hurting.
RADDATZ: I also want to just go back a little bit, back to the campaign, which, at times, was very bitter.
You had some very strong words about then-Candidate Trump. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: This man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. The man is utterly amoral. You know, morality does not exist for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Do you regret any of those words?
CRUZ: Well, listen, it was a hard-fought campaign. It was hard-fought on all sides. And it was vigorous till the end. But at the end of the day, the people have spoken. He won the election. He won the nomination. And he won the general election in a convincing manner.
And my focus is on the country. My focus is we have a new president. We have a mandate. We ought to deliver on that mandate. We ought to deliver -- this election was about jobs. It was about the fact that, for the last eight years, working men and women in this country have seen their lives -- they’ve seen wages stagnating. They’ve seen factories closing. We need an administration that fights every day for the working men and women of this country.
That’s my number one priority in the Senate, fighting for 27 million Texans, for jobs, for economic growth, to raise wages.
RADDATZ: I just want to go back to those words -- he lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth.
Do you still think Donald Trump is a liar?
CRUZ: You know, I’m not going to re-litigate the past. I’m going to focus on the future. I’m going to focus on what’s in front of us and on fixing the problems we have.
I will say one thing, Martha, it’s going to be an interesting test just in the next few days. I very much hope that we don’t see any U.S. government officials going to Fidel Castro’s funeral. I hope we don’t see Barack Obama and Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton and Democrats lining up to lionize a murderous tyrant and thug.
If you wouldn’t go to Pol Pot’s funeral or Stalin’s funeral or Mao’s funeral because they were murdering Communist dictators, then you shouldn’t be doing what Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau are doing, which is celebrating Fidel Castro, a murderous communist dictator.
RADDATZ: Thanks so much for joining us, Senator Cruz.
Great to see you.
CRUZ: Thank you, Martha. God bless.
RADDATZ: And now let's bring in Donald Trump's senior adviser and former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway.
Kellyanne, President-elect Trump said in his statement about Fidel Castro's that his administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.
But he's also promised to reverse President Obama's opening to Cuba.
How will ending diplomatic relations and pulling American businesses out help achieve prosperity and liberty?
CONWAY: Martha, first, thanks for having me.
So what President-elect Trump was saying yesterday is that the first priority that he has is to make sure those political prisoners under Fidel Castro are
And that the people of Cuba finally, after 60 years of oppression, know economic and political and religious freedom.
He is open to researching and, in fact, resetting relations with Cuba.
But his criticism of what has happened in the last couple of years is very simple, it's that we got nothing in return, that by reopening diplomatic relations with Cuba, allowing commercial aircraft and the rest, that we really got nothing in return. And we didn't get those political prisoners
We did not get assurances that Cubans who still live on the island would, in fact, be religiously, and politically and economically free.
We also respect the thousands and hundreds of thousands of Cubans who live here who fled that oppression, fled that poverty, fled who they believed to be a dictator. And as Ted Cruz said -- is saying on your program, has 60 years of blood on his hands.
And we just can't romanticize Fidel Castro now that he's gone. We have to take a look at the way he ran his country in direct opposition to the freedom and the democracy that we have here in the United States.
So it's much like Donald Trump on trade -- you don't just give up everything and get nothing in return. I think that's very clear in the president-elect's message across any number of issues.
RADDATZ: But he has to get all of that in return or he reverses the opening?
CONWAY: He hasn't said that. And he's open -- again, I've discussed this with him directly. He's open to any number of possibilities. But we remain very firm that when you open up diplomatic relations, as President Obama has, with Cuba and Fidel Castro in the last several years, that to get nothing in return, including political prisoners and assurances that people on the island of Cuba will be free politically and economically -- I mean, I've personally met, and I'm sure you have, victims of Fidel Castro's oppression and his torture and his imprisonment.
I, many years ago, was very touched as a young girl, meeting Armando Valladares, who then went on to write a book against all hope in a movie, made on the book. And that's just one example of many. We all have friends, I'm sure, who have those stories of Cubans, coming in the dead of night with $20 in their pocket, and children strapped into a boat, trying to come to the free land 60 miles away.
And they indeed have done that. So to the extent that -- to the extent that President Trump can open up new conversations with Cuba it would have to be a very different Cuba.
And again, he is all about America first -- American workers, American interests, Americans, American allies and certainly Americans.
And in that regard, he wants to make sure that when the United States of America, when he's president, engages in any type of diplomatic relations or trade agreements, for that matter, and the like, that we as America are being protected and we as America are getting something in return.
RADDATZ: Kellyanne, I want to -- I want to turn to the personnel this week. You waded into the Cabinet selection process with some tweets this week concerning Governor Mitt Romney, saying, you're receiving a deluge of social media and private communications about Romney.
Some Trump loyalists warn against him as secretary of state, adding later that being loyal was an important quality for the job.
Why did you weigh in on Governor Romney?
CONWAY: I weigh in privately. First of all, let me make very clear, Martha, that there's one person who will select his Cabinet and it's President-Elect Donald Trump. Whatever he decides will have my full support and respect. And he knows that, as does Vice President-Elect Pence.
I think that there was the Never Trump movement and then there was Governor Mitt Romney. He went out of his way to hurt Donald Trump. He gave two speeches that I can recall in this calendar year and they were both about Donald Trump.
As McMullin ran in the state of Utah for president, we don't know who Mitt Romney voted for.
But apart from that, look, I'm glad they're talking. I've been very -- I've been critical of Mitt Romney in the past and I also, last week, on your network and other places, talked about how I was very pleased that the president-elect and Mitt Romney -- Governor Romney had met out at Bedminster.
I was there when they met. I'm glad that two job creators, who also have the very rare privilege of having represented their Republican Party as its presidential nominee --
RADDATZ: But I -- don't understand why you took to Twitter on this, why you, Kellyanne Conway, took to Twitter on this.
Why not go to Mr. Trump?
Did he want you to tweet that?
Or is that just you talking?
CONWAY: I won't discuss that.
But I will tell you that I've already weighed in privately because I've been asked to.
First of all, it's Donald Trump who's going to form his Cabinet. But I did want to say something else. You know, this is Trump's party now. And he won states that Mitt Romney lost. He's the one with the political instincts, the brilliance. This is his Cabinet to form. I mean, he won Michigan. Mitt Romney lost it by 10.
We won Pennsylvania. Mitt Romney lost Iowa by, I don't know, 5 points or so. We won it by 9. We won Ohio. And so I just think that the political instincts -- and it wasn't just -- I only wish Governor Romney had been as critical of Hillary Clinton and her policy positions.
I'm all for party unity. I'm a big party unity person. And look what Donald Trump's done. He's got Nikki Haley in the Cabinet, a U.N. ambassador, daughter of Indian immigrants.
He's met with Ted Cruz. He's taken calls from Mitt Romney, from Jeb Bush, from John Kasich, from Carly Fiorina. I think party (ph) -- he's working with Speaker Ryan. Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman, is now his chief of staff, going into this new White House.
So we're all for party unity. I don't think a cost of admission for party unity has to be the secretary of state position.
RADDATZ: I want to turn to Hillary Clinton.
And when Mr. Trump says that he does not want to pursue investigations of Hillary Clinton, what does he mean by that?
Is he asking the FBI or the Justice Department to just stand down?
CONWAY: No, he's not. He respects the integrity of those institutions. And the next leaders of those institutions, when he's president, will do their jobs without the interference of the executive branch and the President of the United States.
At the same time, President -- President-Elect Trump is being very magnanimous. What he said to "The New York Times" in the on-the-record interview was that he's just not focused on that right now. He's not focused on Hillary Clinton and prosecuting --
RADDATZ: Well, did he overstep his role by making those public comments?
Should he have been making public comments about that?
CONWAY: He's welcome to. He's the president-elect. He's about to be the leader of the free world. And -- but he is not undercutting anybody's authority in any of those branches -- any of those positions.
Martha, as you and I can know and respect, different people will have the authority and the autonomy to make those decisions, based on the evidence presented to them.
But this is how the president-elect feels at this moment about Hillary Clinton. I would say, in response that, I guess her attitude towards that is to have her counsel, Mark Elias, go and join this ridiculously fantastical recount that Jill Stein is engaging in in Wisconsin and perhaps elsewhere.
So you've got the President-Elect, Donald Trump, being quite magnanimous to Hillary Clinton and you've got her responding with joining into this recount which Jill Stein has --
RADDATZ: And he's tweeted about half a dozen times, I think.
Why is he tweeting so much about that recount?
CONWAY: Well, he's able to weigh in. He has probably 30 million followers on Facebook and Twitter, fought for him, weighing in on issues like that, on that platform. Perhaps many of his followers would never hear the full information.
But I guess the real question is, why in the world can't the Democrats, quote, "accept" the election results?
All they did was ask people like me and Mr. Trump himself six ways to Sundays (sic), a million times plus, Martha, will you accept the election results?
Why, at the last debate in Las Vegas, did Mr. Trump say that he'll keep us in suspense, to let us know, he'll accept the election result if he wins?
And now you've got Hillary Clinton who, on election night, Martha, called Donald Trump to both congratulate him and to concede the election to him?
I was standing right there. Mr. Trump was on my phone with her. I didn't hear him say, well, Secretary Clinton just conceded but she said, unless, of course, 2.5 weeks from now Jill Stein, who got less than 1 percent of the vote nationwide, decides that she should issue a recount, raise 7 million bucks and go have a recount in Wisconsin?
Jill Stein got 33,000 votes in Wisconsin. Mr. Trump got 1.4 million; 33,000 votes is like the number of people who tailgate at a Packers game. It is not a serious effort to change the election results.
So the question for the Democrats is, why are you doing this?
And by the way, what does President Obama think of this recount charade?
He has eight weeks left to finish his -- to finish out his term. And I think it's quite small of Jill Stein and Hillary Clinton's counsel -- and perhaps her -- to interfere with the last eight weeks of President Obama's legacy.
President Obama and President-Elect Trump speak regularly. They spoke yesterday at length. They're trying to move on and form a government. It's high time that Hillary and her supporters do the same.
RADDATZ: OK. We're going to have to leave it there. Thanks very much, Kellyanne Conway.
CONWAY: Thank you, Martha.
RADDATZ: And coming up, as the battle to be Trump's secretary of state heats up, I'll talk to the former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about Trump's foreign policy team.
And, first, a recount is underway in Wisconsin. Two more states can follow.
Does the Clinton camp have a shot?
Or is it just false hope for Democrats?
I'll ask Senator Bernie Sanders -- back in just two minutes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: In 1961, they invaded Cuba and everybody was totally convinced that Castro was the worst guy in the world, all the Cuban people were going to rise up in rebellion against Fidel Castro.
They forgot that he educated the kids, gave them health care, totally transformed the society, you know, not to say that Fidel Castro or Cuba are perfect. They are certainly not.
But just because Ronald Reagan dislikes these people does not mean to say the people in their own nations feel the same way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Senator Bernie Sanders offering some praise back in 1985 for the Cuban leader who died Friday.
And let's get straight to Senator Sanders, the former Democratic presidential candidate and author of the new book, "Our Revolution."
Good morning, Senator Sanders.
You said back in 1985 that Castro transformed Cuban society and gave them health care and education. But this was a brutal dictatorship despite the romanticized version that some Americans have of Cuba -- he rationed food, impaired dissidents.
RADDATZ: You heard all today, Senator Cruz talk about that.
So have you changed your view of Castro since 1985?
SANDERS: Look, what I said there -- I'm not quite sure...
RADDATZ: How would you now describe his leadership (INAUDIBLE)?
SANDERS: -- I'm not quite sure, Martha, this is the issue that is on the minds of the American people right now, who basically want to make sure that Donald Trump keeps the promises that he made when he said he was not going to cut Social Security and Medicare...
RADDATZ: I -- I know. But I want to go back to your comments...
SANDERS: -- and Medicaid.
RADDATZ: -- please.
We'll get to Donald Trump...
SANDERS: The answer is the Castro...
RADDATZ: -- in a moment.
SANDERS: -- that and -- and -- no, of course, their economy is terrible. You're right, it is a dictatorship. They did have a good health -- do have a decent health care system and a decent educational system. A lot of people have left Cuba for better dreams, to fulfill their aspirations.
So, no, the Cuban economy is a disaster. No, I do not praise Fidel Castro.
RADDATZ: OK, let's move on to the Trump administration.
SANDERS: But it is interesting...
RADDATZ: You -- you've...
SANDERS: -- you know, it is interesting that we start a program off by talking about what happened -- what I said 30 years ago. Right now, where the American people are concerned is, in fact, an economy right now in which we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality. Mr. Trump made some promises to the American people...
RADDATZ: Well, let me ask you about that...
SANDERS: -- he said that he will not cut...
RADDATZ: -- Senator Sanders, please let me ask...
SANDERS: -- Social Security, Medicare...
RADDATZ: -- the questions.
SANDERS: -- and Medicaid.
RADDATZ: Let me -- let me ask some questions about that. And I -- and I will also say...
RADDATZ: -- that people are concerned about Fidel Castro and what happens next.
But you've said you'll try to work with President Trump on issues where you agree -- infrastructure, entitlements, the minimum wage, given his cabinet picks and things he has said this week, do you think you can work with him?
SANDERS: Well, we'll see. I am not impressed by the cabinet picks so far that he has made. Mr. Trump said that he will take on the drug companies. Right now, we pay, as you know, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Many Americans cannot afford the medicine that they desperately need.
He said that he would support Medicare negotiating prescription drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry and allow for re-importation. Right now, I am 50 miles away from Canada. They pay half of the cost of the price that we pay for prescription drugs. Trump said that he will do something about it. Let's see if he does.
Trump said, when he was running for president, you heard him say this, I am the only Republican candidate who will not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Well, you've got some people in the Republican Party right now who want to voucherize Medicare, make massive cuts in Medicaid.
Will he keep his word?
Mr. Trump said that he was against the disastrous trade policies that this country currently has. Well, we look forward to working with him to save the jobs in Indiana, for the Carrier workers, to make sure that corporations don't throw American workers out on the street as they go to China and they go to Mexico at very low wages.
So if he is serious about protecting working families, yes, we'll work with him.
We will not work with him if he talks about xenophobia, if he talks about racism, sexism. That is not acceptable.
And the other area where we will not work with him, we do not believe -- I do not believe that climate change is a hoax. I believe the scientific evidence is overwhelming that it is one of the great threats to humanity and we have got to transform our energy system.
RADDATZ: Well, Mr. Trump said that mankind may be causing climate change this week and is open to abiding by the Paris Accords.
So is that a new and improved Donald Trump to you?
SANDERS: Well, that is something. But we have got to go further than that. The scientific community is saying that if we do not transform our energy system yesterday, we're going to be looking at more drought, more floods, more extreme weather disturbances.
So he has got to listen to the scientific community, not the fossil fuel industry.
RADDATZ: I want to talk about this recount that's going to go on.
You said right after the election that it's over, Mr. Trump will be the next president and Democrats must focus on the realities of where we are.
So are they wrong to do this recent and question the election's results?
SANDERS: The Democrats, Martha, are not doing the recount. I trust that you know that was initiated by the Green Party, who has every right in the world to do it...
RADDATZ: I'm aware of that, but Hillary Clinton has joined in.
SANDERS: Well, of course they joined in. It's taking a (INAUDIBLE). We will see what happens. It's a legal right. It's not a big deal. I don't think anybody, Secretary Clinton or anybody else, thinks that there's going to be profound changes. And we will see what happens.
But the focus right now has got to be doing everything that we can to address the real issues facing the working families of this country.
Mr. Trump talked about dissolving, doing away with The Affordable Care Act, throwing 20 million Americans off of health insurance.
What happens to those people?
He talked about the need to make college more affordable.
Is he serious about doing that?
RADDATZ: What has Trump's...
SANDERS: So these are the real issues...
RADDATZ: -- victory meant to the Democratic Party?
SANDERS: -- that we've got to start focusing on.
RADDATZ: What -- what will transform it?
What will change in the Democratic Party?
And is it time for Hillary Clinton and the Clintons to just move on?
SANDERS: You know, we don't have to make this personal. Secretary Clinton has served this country for 25 years. She got two million more votes than Donald Trump did in the general election. She has a role to play.
But the real issue facing, I think, the Democratic Party, is to assess where they are and they're not in a good place. And it's not just the White House, it's the Senate, it's the House, it's two thirds of the governor's chairs.
What we need to do and what I am trying to do is revitalize the Democratic Party, bring in the young people, bring in the working people, become less dependent on big money.
A lot of campaign contributors, big money people have done a very good job. They've tried to help.
But they can't be the dominant force in the Democratic Party. We've got to open the doors. We have got to go to 50 states in this country, not just, you know, the blue states or -- or battleground state. There is no reason why we cannot win in states all over this country, because we have a message and it says at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, when the rich get richer and most other people are getting poorer, we're going to stand with working families.
That is the message that will win if we take it to 50 states.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much for joining us this morning, Senator Sanders.
SANDERS: Thank you.
RADDATZ: Coming up, Donald Trump's foreign policy team is coming together, but they'll have to hit the ground running against an array of threats. I'll talk to the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about what worries him most.
Plus, the Powerhouse Roundtable on Trump's latest cabinet picks and what they mean for the American economy and your bottom line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.
I think under the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton the generals have been reduced to rubble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Donald Trump had some harsh words for U.S. officers throughout his campaign but he's now turning to lots of retired top brass for advice. What will that mean for U.S. foreign policy?
I'm joined now by Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking military officer in the U.S. and the president's principle military adviser.
Good to see you, Admiral Mullen.
ADM. MIKE MULLEN, FMR. CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Martha, good to be with you.
RADDATZ: And I want to start with that transition. You were there for the transition between President Bush and President Obama. What's that like?
MULLEN: Well, I think more than anything else it is to look at the leaving campaign rhetoric behind and the reality of governing, which just hits you square in the face.
And so focusing on, finding out and focusing on the real issues that are facing the current administration and then developing policies and strategies if you will to meet those challenges.
RADDATZ: And what will Donald Trump inherit? We know the ISIS problem. But there's also North Korea, which he rightly so seems very concerned about.
You were on this panel, right, this panel -- the U.S. policy towards North Korea and you wrote that North Korea poses grave and expanding threat and it is likely that the next president will face a North Korea that has gained the capability to strike the United States with nuclear weapons. That would make anybody nervous.
MULLEN: I think North Korea, that peninsula is more likely than anybody place else in the world to potentially create an explosive outcome particularly tied to the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The realize that he has nuclear weapons and the inability to far to contain him in that regard. And that's a place where four of the five top economies in the world are centered. Stability there is critical, and at least North Korea historically has generated a surprise if you will for new leaders in this country. And I would...
RADDATZ: And nothing stopped them.
RADDATZ: Not the Bush policy, not the Obama policy.
MULLEN: No. I think actually this has to go through Beijing. And Beijing has pushed back on that time after time. But if Beijing doesn't leave this, we're going to get to the point where he's going to be able to put a nuclear weapon on top of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the United States and that's unacceptable.
RADDATZ: I want to -- Donald Trump does not have real foreign policy experience, but he's turning to a lot of people who do. Does it matter that he doesn't really have much foreign policy experience? Other presidents haven't either.
MULLEN: And I think that is true. I'm encouraged actually by the fact that he is turning to people who have that experience. And that will really make a difference. The world is very unforgiving. And he has said, rightfully so, that he wants to focus here in the United States.
But I've always found certainly in my time that challenges that exist international, whether it's North Korea or China or Russia or the Middle East will certainly be on his desk on day one.
RADDATZ: And I mentioned in the beginning he's really turning to an unprecedented number of general officers. In his cabinet for advice. Jim Mattis's name is out there for defense secretary. How do you square that with he said during the campaign about the generals?
MULLEN: Well, I would put that a category of rhetoric on one side and reality on the other. Jim Mattis is someone I've known extremely well. He's an incredibly capable individual, strategically focused internationally focused. He has good relationships on the international side and I think someone who is born to serve and could make a difference, really significant difference as well.
RADDTAZ: And Mike Flynn was your intelligence officer called the J2. You've said great things about him as an intelligence officer, different job as national security adviser.
MULLEN: Completely different. He was a terrific intelligence officer for me. But now he's at the hub of the national security apparatus and he's got to be an honest broker. He's got to present all opinions. He has to actually -- he and his deputy have to make the trains run on time in the White House. The number of issues are extraordinary and he has got to be able to do that to give the president and the cabinet, but really the president all the options in a way where the president can make the best decision for the security of the country.
RADDATZ: Thanks very much for joining us, Admiral Mullen. We would love to have you back to talk about this more. Great to see you.
We'll be right back with the powerhouse roundtable in just 30 seconds.
RADDATZ: Let's bring in our roundtable now. Republican pollster and ABC News contributor Kristen Soltis Anderson, host of the Young Turks Cenk Uygur, Wall Street Journal White House correspondent Carol Lee, and Washington Post chief correspondent Dan Balz.
Thanks for coming in, everybody.
I want to start with you, Kristen. Trump's cabinet thus far and the names on the list, what have you learned about the direction of the country?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Thus far, not a lot of his picks have been terribly surprising, many of them have been pretty predictable, right in line with a lot of the stuff that he talked about on the campaign trail.
You have got, for instance, his pick for Secretary of Education who somebody that a lot of conservatives have looked at as saying, OK, this means he's actually going to pursue a right of center agenda. This makes us excited.
These picks have been so important because Donald Trump ran his campaign I think based a lot on sort of personality, a strong message, but there was a lot of questions about filling in the n gaps on some of these policy areas. So that's why there's been so much I think excitement on the right about some of these picks where he's filling in the gaps in a very conservative way.
RADDATZ: And, Dan, your analysis of the Trump victory cast him as the first truly independent candidate.
Are you still feeling that way after you've seen some of these picks and the people he's talking to?
BALZ: Martha, I don't think we know enough yet. I mean, if you think of what he hasn't done yet, we don't have a sense of what his national security team is actually going to look like. We don't have a sense of what his economic team is going to look like, in the sense that --
RADDATZ: We know Mike Flynn; we know KT McFarland, who he announced this week.
DAN BALZ, WASHINGTON POST: But we don't know secretary of Defense. We don't know secretary of state --
RADDATZ: What do you think about what Kellyanne Conway said about Mitt Romney?
BALZ: Well, she's channeling something. And I’m not quite sure what. But she's trying to do everything she possibly can to deny Mitt Romney getting secretary of state. And it seems as though there may be other names in the mix, as we learned late in the week.
So I think, until we get a full picture of it, it's hard to determine, at this point, whether he's going to be as independent as some of his policies. The things he talked about in that video that he put out just before Thanksgiving, his 100-day things, he talked about getting out of TPP.
I mean, that's something that the rest of the party is not necessarily in favor of. So there's a lot that's still up in the air.
RADDATZ: And it sounds like that he's listening to a lot of different people.
Carol, I want to turn to the potential of conflicts of interest, something we haven't really talked about. You reported that Obama liquidated most of his assets in 2008 to avoid concerns about whether a decision he made might be even inadvertently benefit him.
Trump on Wednesday told "The New York Times" that, under the law, the president can't have a conflict of interest.
Who is right?
CAROL LEE, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, I mean, it remains to be seen exactly what Donald Trump does here. I think typically you would see a president-elect try to get out in front of this. He hasn't shown any interest so far in doing that.
I think when you hear stories, like the fact that he was speaking to a very high-level British politician about not having windmills off the coast of Scotland, where one of his properties is, those are things that really raise concerns with people.
And I do think that if he doesn't get out in front of this soon and have some kind of a strategy for dealing with this, you're going to see a drip, drip, drip of all of these stories coming out. And this will be a narrative that really dogs his presidency at a time when he's trying to do a number of different things on the economy, on national security. And this will be a big distraction.
RADDATZ: And Cenk, conflicts aside, we have seen his approval rating rise since the election.
CENK UYGUR, THE YOUNG TURKS: Yes.
RADDATZ: So what is that all about?
And what do you think he needs to do going forward?
Just listening to him the past couple of weeks.
UYGUR: Yes, so I can understand why his numbers go up because the American people are very optimistic. And I have now talked to a great number of Hillary Clinton voters, who said, hey, let's give the guy a chance.
And so if you're progressive and he kills TPP, you're happy about that. And he talks about spending $1 trillion in infrastructure, great. President Obama should have spent $1 trillion in infrastructure.
So he's out-populisting the Democrats. That's why he won in the first place. Now those are all the good news. There's a lot of bad news out there, too. I mean, he said he would drain the swamp.
So far his cabinet is the swamp. Betsy DeVos is a proud member of the donor class. She says she expects a return on investment. And the conflict of interest is out of control to -- he brags about it. He has his kids in the meetings with the leaders of foreign countries, Japan, Argentina, et cetera, and brings in --
RADDATZ: Which I'm sure -- I think he'll just say, look, my daughter was just in that meeting.
What does that mean?
RADDATZ: You're not buying that?
UYGUR: She runs my business.
No. He said it right after the election. He said, hey, I told the American people I have property all over the world and they elected me anyway. Oh, he didn't have 10 billion going in. He'll have 10 billion going out.
ANDERSON: My hope is Donald Trump picks the most qualified people for these positions and that he bucks the way that he's been portrayed in the media.
You know, he's been portrayed as someone who likes to reward his friends, who takes slights very personally. You'll notice in Kellyanne Conway's criticism of Mitt Romney that it wasn't about his qualifications for the job.
And as we've discussed on this show earlier, there's been -- the world is a very dangerous place now. We're going to need a secretary of state who can renegotiate an Iran deal. We're going to need a secretary of state who can step up and be a strong voice if China gets adventurous in the South China Sea.
We need somebody who, as secretary of state, is the most qualified person for the job. I think Donald Trump can surprise a lot of people. But defying the media's portrayal of him, putting truly qualified people in positions, not just --
RADDATZ: Do you see that happening, Carol?
LEE: Well, I agree with Dan. I don’t think that we don't know yet. I think whoever wins out in this fight between -- over Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani will tell us a lot about the direction that this administration is going to go.
But I think it's too soon to tell. We don't have the big ticket Cabinet secretaries filled in. We don't -- he has not named that much staff so far.
I covered President Obama's transition and, at this point, things were much further along; you had a much clearer vision. And the rollout was clear in that you understood where the president-elect wanted to go in terms of policies and the vision that he had for his presidency. And we just have not seen that yet.
RADDATZ: And Dan, I want to talk about relations with the press, which have been a little testy sometimes.
What will it be like to cover Donald Trump at the White House?
BALZ: I think it will be a huge challenge, a bigger challenge than we have ever had, certainly in my lifetime, in dealing with somebody who has, over the course of the campaign, been very hostile toward the press; has talked about, you know, changing the First Amendment or changing the libel laws, which would require changing the -- you know.
He was more generous when he went to "The New York Times" last week and said you're a jewel. He had previously threatened to sue them over a tax story they did.
I think his instincts are, as we have seen, to fight back whenever he feels aggrieved. And if the press does its role, it's going to be very tough. It's tough on every president. No president likes the press. And we'll see whether Donald Trump acts differently as president than he did as a candidate.
RADDATZ: OK. And just quickly, Cenk, last thing, there was so much outrage when Candidate Trump refused to say he would definitely accept the results of the election.
Now some on the Left don't seem to be accepting those results. You heard us talk about that today.
Is that hypocritical?
UYGUR: Not at all. So if -- a recount is a perfectly normal part of the process. So if you decide to go outside of the process, then I would be with you.
Hey, wait, wait, wait. We were on Trump for doing that. I totally agree it would be hypocritical.
But if you're within a percent -- and there are rules in every state on this -- perfectly right to call for a recount.
I don't know, you know, I saw the interview obviously earlier in the show. I don't know why they're so nervous. They're just so jittery about -- no recount, no recount. Whatever we do, don't do a recount.
Just calm down. If you think you won, the recount will show the same thing.
Thanks for all of you for joining us this morning. Great to have you here on a holiday weekend. We'll be right back after this from our ABC stations.
RADDATZ: Before we go, we have a very big welcome to our newest viewer, Riaz Delawala, born yesterday -- born Wednesday night just minutes before Thanksgiving to long-time THIS WEEK producer, Imtiyaz Delawala and his wife, Risak (ph).
Congratulations to the whole family. And we know his mom and dad are very thankful.
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT." Have a great day.
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