— -- THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR 'THIS WEEK' on December 4, 2016 and it will be updated.
ANNOUNCER: Starting right now on THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS...
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MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: Thank you for electing a president who will make America great again.
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ANNOUNCER: This morning, we are one-on-one with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, fresh off his Thank You Tour with the president-elect.
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DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: It's going to be America first, OK?
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ANNOUNCER: Trump touting the art of the deal.
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TRUMP: It's wonderful to win, you know.
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ANNOUNCER: But is it a win for workers or just bad business?
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TRUMP: China is ripping us off.
What China is doing to us is horrible.
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ANNOUNCER: -- challenging China -- Trump talking to Taiwan.
Was this breach of protocol a dangerous blunder or smart strategy?
And with the world watching, who will Trump tap to be his secretary of State?
Could this man have the inside track?
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A very good conversation and we'll see where it goes from here.
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ANNOUNCER: We'll ask General David Petraeus.
Should his mishandling of classified information take him out of the running?
The country in transition...
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TRUMP: We're not going to be divided for long. I've always brought people together.
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ANNOUNCER: What's fact, what's fiction, and what's next?
Mike Pence, David Petraeus, both here live.
From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK.
Here now, chief anchor, George Stephanopoulos.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: Good morning.
Let's get right to it. We are joined by the man leading the Trump transition, Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
Congratulations on your victory.
PENCE: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And thank you for coming in.
Let's get right to China, that call with the leader of Taiwan.
As far as we know, no president or president-elect has spoken with Taiwan's leader in nearly four decades.
Why did Mr. Trump choose to break that precedent?
PENCE: Well, I'll tell you what, from the morning after the election, we've seen the president-elect engaging the world. He's spoken to more than 50 world leaders and I've spoken to several dozen myself. And he received a courtesy call from the democratically elected president of Taiwan...
STEPHANOPOULOS: It was pre-arranged, wasn't it?
PENCE: -- to congratulate him. Well, it was -- they reached out to offer congratulations, as leaders around the world have and -- and he -- he took the call, accepted her congratulations and -- and good wishes and it was -- it was precisely that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Did he intend to send the kind of signal it sent?
Because the Chinese government has already complained about this. Have
How did you guys respond to that?
PENCE: Well, I -- I understand some of the controversy in the media about this. But I -- I think...
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's not just the media, it's with the Chinese government.
PENCE: Well, yes, of course. But I would tell you that I think -- I think the American people find it very refreshing the energy that our president-elect is bringing to this whole transition. He's not only -- he's not only bringing together a cabinet at a historic pace for the last 40 years, he's not only assembling a legislative agenda to -- to move forward this country at home and abroad, but he's also been engaging the world.
I think during the course of the transition eight years ago, President Obama, it's reported, spoke to 22 world leaders and President-elect Trump has spoken to...
STEPHANOPOULOS: He did not speak to the leader of Taiwan. That's what I'm trying (INAUDIBLE)...
PENCE: -- more than 50. And I think the American people want -- are encouraged, rather, George, to see that President-elect Trump is -- is taking calls from the world, speaking to the world. They know he's going to be out there advancing America's interests first with that broad-shouldered leadership that's characterized his entire life.
But I think it all begins with relationships and -- and that was a -- that was nothing more than taking a courtesy call of congratulations from the democratically elected leader of Taiwan who...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So no implications for the one China policy?
PENCE: Well, we'll deal with policy after January the 20th. This was a courtesy call.
And plus, I have to tell you, George, it's -- it's a little mystifying to me that President Obama can -- can reach out to a murdering dictator in -- in Cuba in the last year and be hailed as a hero for doing it and President-elect Donald Trump takes a courtesy call from a democratically elected leader in Taiwan and it's become -- it's become something of a controversy, because I think the American people appreciate the fact that -- that our president-elect is taking calls from and reaching out to the world and preparing on day one to lead America on the world stage.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On day one, will he label China a currency manipulator?
PENCE: Well, he said that over the course of the campaign. And the truth of the matter is a lot is going to change in America's economic policies...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So he will?
PENCE: -- not just with regard to China, but with regard to the North American Free Trade Agreement, with regard to -- look, we -- we've been -- America has been losing too much in jobs and economic growth on the world stage. And I think people can count on the fact that -- that President-elect Donald Trump, when he raises his right hand, is going to walk into the Oval Office and he's going to -- he's going to become a champion for Americans on the world stage.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So he will follow through on that promise?
PENCE: Well, he's -- he's going to fight for American jobs and -- and we're going to stop losing to China and to other countries.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Does that mean labeling them a currency manipulator?
PENCE: It -- it will be for the president-elect to decide whether he implements that policy after inauguration. He spoke about that in the course of the campaign.
But look, it's all about a process. He spoke to President Xi in China two weeks ago. They had a great conversation. He's begun the relationship there.
But after January 20, our new president will make decisions about what the policy of the United States will be.
But I promise you, America is going to start winning on world stage again and winning economically and -- and he'll make the right decisions (INAUDIBLE).
STEPHANOPOULOS: So as John Bolton said, he believes that the relationship with China has to be shaken up?
PENCE: Well, I -- I think -- I think the president-elect was very clear during the course of the campaign that we -- we've just been losing to China far too long economically. And it's -- it's time -- the time has come, the American people have elected a president who, not just with regard to China, but with other countries around the world, and even in our hemisphere, that -- that we're going to put American workers and American jobs first and we're going to have a president that makes sure we have trade deals and we advance policies -- economic policies on the world stage that accomplish that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about Carrier. You guys got a nice thank you AMB. )...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- when you went to say thank you AMB. ) in Indiana this week for saving those several hundred jobs in the Carrier -- in the Carrier plant.
STEPHANOPOULOS: President-elect Trump has followed that up with a treat about -- a Twitter about the Rexnord Corporation, just a mile down the road from Carrier. He put it out. He said, "Rexnord of Indiana is moving to Mexico and rather viciously firing all of its 300 workers. This is happening all over our country. No more."
So are you now negotiating with Rexnord?
PENCE: Well, what -- what I can tell you is that we had a great day in Indiana on Thursday and Carrier is staying in the United States because Donald Trump was elected president. Plain and simple.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, several hundred jobs are staying, but 1,300 are still going.
PENCE: Well, but look, let's -- I understand the glass is half full mentality of some in the -- in the -- in the national media, George, but this was great news for over 1,000 families in Indiana, who were going to see those jobs go south of the border.
We got -- we got worried in February -- Carrier just announced, after being in Indiana since the 1950s, that they were pulling up stakes and going to Mexico. They were literally going to follow a number of other companies in their industry that had gone to Mexico years ago.
I sat down with them in March and said, can we put together an incentive package, which states always do. Indiana does on a routine basis, to encourage you to stay here?
They said don't even bother. They said we -- the avalanche of regulations coming out of Washington, DC, the taxation, it just -- they said we can't make it happen.
But I was there in the office. It wasn't even a week again the election, the president-elect, in the midst of talking to foreign leaders, assembling a cabinet, advancing a legislative agenda, pulling together a team at a historic pace, he picked up the phone and he called the chairman of the parent company and just said look, we're going to cut taxes, we're going to roll back regulation, we're going to repeal and replace ObamaCare, we're going to -- we're going to make America more competitive for manufacturing and we're going to renegotiate trade deals...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So does he...
PENCE: -- to put American workers first.
And he just simply...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- so does he have to come...
PENCE: -- he simply asked them, would you reconsider leaving our country?
And they said yes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So does he now pick up the phone and call the head of Rexnord?
Does he call all these other companies who are going to move overseas?
PENCE: Well, I think what you're going to see -- and the president-elect will make those decisions on -- on a -- on a day by day basis in the -- in the course of the transition and in the course of the administration.
But what you're seeing emerge here -- and I think it's so exciting for millions of Americans -- you should have seen the emotion on people's faces...
STEPHANOPOULOS: We saw it.
PENCE: -- at the Carrier plant, George. I mean this was -- and I mean I -- it was one of the most emotional experiences that I've had in my public career, the way people reached out, grabbed our president-elect by the hand and just said thank you AMB. ), because they see in him someone who's going to fight for American jobs.
He's going to fight on the world stage in negotiating trade deals. And he's going to come here to Washington, DC and he's going to fight to raised taxes, roll back regulations, repeal and replace ObamaCare and make American manufacturing come back to life.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say he's going to make these decisions on a -- on a day by day basis.
Isn't that picking winners and losers?
I mean Sarah Palin calls it crony capitalism?
PENCE: No, I -- I don't think it's picking winners and losers at all what -- what -- what the president-elect did with Carrier was simply reach out one American to another and just ask them to reconsider. He told them, we're going to do exactly what we said we would do in this campaign, we're going to make the American economy more competitive, we're going to get tougher and smarter on trade deals. And that was changed circumstances from when they made their decision to leave last February.
And he asked them to reconsider and they did. And I -- I think that the message that that sends across the American economy to businesses that may be considering leaving our country is that things are really changing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He is...
PENCE: That we've got a president that's going to fight for jobs and fight to bring back the American economy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the president-elect is sending that message this morning.
PENCE: I think it's the reason, George, candidly, why he -- he won the heartland so decisively. I mean 30 out of 50 states in this historic mandate election, I mean he won more counties than -- than any candidate on our side since Ronald Reagan, but particularly in the heartland. We've seen one community after another decimated as jobs have been shipped overseas because of more government, more taxes, more regulation coming out of our nation's capital.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the question is what is the policy going forward?
Is it more incentives like Carrier got or is it punishment?
And President-Elect Trump on Twitter this morning as well, sending out about six or seven tweets. Here's the heart of what he was saying.
He was saying that any business that leaves our country for another country fires its employees, builds a new factory or plant in another country and then thinks it will sell its products back in the U.S. without retribution or consequence is wrong.
There will be a tax on our soon-to-be-strong border of 35 percent for these companies wanting to sell their products, cars, air conditioning units, et cetera, back across the border.
So is it fair to assume that Rexnord, that Ford, which is moving the Ford Focus from Michigan to Mexico, they're all going to be facing this 35 percent tariff?
PENCE: Well, what you're seeing here is a combination of policies.
Number one, is the president-elect -- has already got our team working on Capitol Hill to make sure that we're reducing taxes. We're going to lower the corporate tax rate, repeal and replace ObamaCare.
We're going to roll back, starting on day one, this avalanche of red tape and regulations that's crushing American jobs.
But the other piece of that, to your point, George, is that president-elect is committed to changing America's trade.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So he's moving forward on that 35 percent tariff?
PENCE: -- we're going to renegotiate NAFTA. He's already made that clear. Got an agreement from President Pena Nieto to do just that. He's going to -- he's going to put on the table all the tools that are going to take away the advantages of companies that for far too long have been pulling up stakes, leaving American workers behind and then creating products, shipping them back into the --
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you handle that as governor of Indiana?
You've got the happy workers at Carrier; those jobs were saved a mile down the road; 300 workers at Rexnord losing their jobs and now that company is going to be subject to a tariff.
PENCE: Well, I think the way you handle that is we advance policies that are going to apply to everybody equally. We're going to create trade policies that take away the advantages that these multinational corporations have had in moving jobs overseas now for decades.
But we're also going to improve the economic environment here in the United States. We're simply -- with this business man who's become president, will take that oath of office on January the 20th -- we're going to work with the Congress to lower taxes, roll back regulations, repeal and replace ObamaCare and simply make the kind of changes in a broad range of areas -- including education, the president-elect is very passionate about vocational education across the country -- make the kinds of changes that will simply make it possible for American manufacturing to come roaring back in the heartland and all across America.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to talk about more of those changes.
One final question on this, President Trump and his family sell goods made overseas.
Will that continue?
Should they lead by example and bring that manufacturing home?
PENCE: Well, you know, the president-elect has been very candid about the fact that, even in the course of his business, he's seen that there's many products that you simply can't buy in the United States because they're not made here anymore.
And he's been very, very open about that. And I think the policies that you're going to see this administration advance are just going to be about bringing jobs back to the United States.
And we do that, we do that by having smarter and tougher trade deals than we've had for a number of decades under successive administrations. But we also do that mostly by creating an environment where the free market can really thrive.
I mean the truth of the matter is high taxes, high regulation, mandates like the taxes in ObamaCare and the rest have been --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Should those jobs come home?
Should they bring those jobs home?
PENCE: I think we'd like to see jobs of every kind come back to the United States. You just saw the recent jobs report came out and the low unemployment rate is in itself deceptive. We saw the labor participation rate drop again. It's the lowest since the year after I got out of high school.
I mean, we have -- we have millions of Americans that are simply out of the workforce. And I'm telling you what, President-Elect Donald Trump and I are going to work our hearts out with this Congress to make America more attractive for jobs of every kind and I think we're going to see this economy come roaring back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about more of those promises. You said on Wednesday that you're planning the agenda to keep the promises President-Elect Trump made. One of the most prominent one is this wall on the border, paid for by Mexico. It's still prominent on the Trump website. "Mexico will pay for the wall."
How will that happen?
PENCE: Well, what we're laying out a very ambitious agenda for the Congress. I met again this week with the leaders of the House and the Senate. President-Elect and I were on Capitol Hill within about a week of the election and to do just that. It really will all begin with repealing ObamaCare and setting --
STEPHANOPOULOS: And I want to get to that but first of all, Mexico paying for the wall.
PENCE: Well, we're going to get to the process of ending illegal immigration. It all begins with border security, internal enforcement and building a wall. And --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Can you make Mexico pay for it?
PENCE: I think there's a variety of ways, there's a variety of ways that we can accomplish that. And the president-elect is going to choose the best way forward. We're going to work with the Congress in that regard. Some of it will be negotiation. You know, President Pena Nieto and our president-elect had a very good --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But he ruled out paying for the wall.
PENCE: Well, we -- I know about the tweet. But, you know, in the course of renegotiating NAFTA, there was a -- or agreeing to renegotiate NAFTA, there was an agreement that border security is critical and important. We'll have those conversations.
but you think about the enormous amount of commerce that flows over that border. There's a whole lot of ways and I'm absolutely confident that our president-elect is going to keep his promise to the American people. We're going to secure the border. We're going to build the wall. We're going to end illegal immigration once and for all and we'll find a way to have our neighbors pay for it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And ObamaCare, you mentioned that. "The New York Times" is reporting that you're working with congressional leaders on the strategy to repeal immediately but then delay the replacement. In that "60 Minutes" interview right after the election, President-Elect Trump said they were going to be done simultaneously.
Why the change?
PENCE: Well, I'm not aware there is change.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So this repeal and delay strategy is not what you're working on?
PENCE: Well, we're working on President-Elect Trump's commitment to repeal and replace ObamaCare. It's all going to begin right out of the gate by repealing this disastrous policy that's been killing jobs.
I mean, it's on track next year to see Americans see an average increase in premiums of 25 percent in states like Arizona, 116 percent. We really believe it'll be vitally important in the early days of the Congress with everything else happening and confirming cabinet appointments that we keep that promise to the American people and, at the very same time, through both executive action and working with congressional leaders and our new leadership at HHS, that we lay out a framework for an orderly transition to replace it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Two- or three-year transition?
PENCE: Well, I think it's going to be a discussion the president-elect will decide on what's acceptable to him. We'll work with members of Congress on that.
But as he said in that speech on ObamaCare in Philadelphia, he wants the American people to know there will be an orderly transition away from this disastrous policy.
But the first thing we have to do is pry the enormous weight of ObamaCare off the national economy. We think that will -- that will create tremendous economic growth in businesses large and small and then setting an orderly transition process in place to capture the power of the free market.
I mean, the president-elect has been very clear, we want to give the American people more choices, the ability to buy health insurance across state lines, use health savings accounts but doing that in a way that doesn't upset the apple cart or create anxiety among Americans about their health care.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Tied to that is what to do about Medicare. President-Elect Trump spoke about that continually through the campaign. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid and we can't do that. And it's not fair to the people that have been paying in for years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the president's nominee for Health Secretary and the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, you in the past have voted for changing Medicare from moving it from a defined benefit to paying for these subsidies to pay for private insurance.
Is that on the table now?
PENCE: No, the people that are joining our administration are signing up for the president-elect's agenda.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So no changes to Medicare?
PENCE: Well, look, I think President-Elect Trump made it very clear in the course of the campaign that, as president, we're going to keep our promises in Social Security and Medicare.
With regard to Medicaid, though, I will tell you, there's a real opportunity, there's a real opportunity as we repeal and replace ObamaCare to do exactly what the president-elect also said on the campaign, and that is block granting Medicaid back to the states.
Allow states to do what Indiana was able to do, in part in the last couple of years, and that is innovate.
We actually -- we actually have people on Medicaid the first time in the history of the program that actually have to make a monthly contribution to a health savings account to receive full benefits. We want to give states even greater flexibility in innovating and creating the kind of health care solutions that will work for their population.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As I said, President-Elect Trump has been quite active on Twitter, including this week at the beginning of this week, that tweet which I want to show right now, about the popular vote.
And he said, "In addition to winning the electoral college in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."
That claim is groundless. There's no evidence to back it up.
Is it responsible for a president-elect to make false statements like that?
PENCE: Well, look, I think four years ago the Pew Research Center found that there were millions of inaccurate voter registrations.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, but the author of this said he -- he has said it is not any evidence about what happened in this election or any evidence of voter fraud.
PENCE: I think what, you know, what is -- what is historic here is that our president-elect won 30 to 50 states, he won more counties than any candidate on our side since Ronald Reagan.
And the fact that some partisans, who are frustrated with the outcome of the election and disappointed with the outcome of the election, are pointing to the popular vote, I can assure you, if this had been about the popular vote, Donald Trump and I have been campaigning a whole lot more in Illinois and California and New York.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And no one is questioning your victory, certainly I'm not questioning your victory. I'm asking just about that tweet, which I want to say that he said he would have won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally. That statement is false. Why is it responsible to make it?
PENCE: Well, I think the president-elect wants to call to attention the fact that there has been evidence over many years of...
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's not what he said.
PENCE: ...voter fraud. And expressing that reality Pew Research Center found evidence of that four years ago.
STEPHANPOULOS: That's not the evidence...
PENCE: ...that certainly his right.
But, you know...
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's his right to make false statements?
PENCE: Well, it's his right to express his opinion as president-elect of the United States.
I think one of the things that's refreshing about our president-elect and one of the reasons why I think he made such an incredible connection with people all across this country is because he tells you what's on his mind.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But why is it refreshing to make false statements?
PENCE: Look, I don't know that that is a false statement, George, and neither do you. The simple fact is that...
STEPHANOPOULOS: I know there's no evidence for it.
PENCE: There is evidence, historic evidence from the Pew Research Center of voter fraud that's taken place. We're in the process of investigating irregularities in the state of Indiana that were leading up to this election. The fact that voter fraud exists is...
STEPHANPOULOS: But can you provide any evidence -- can you provide any evidence to back up that statement?
PENCE; Well, look, I think he's expressed his opinion on that. And he's entitled to express his opinion on that. And I think the American people -- I think the American people find it very refreshing that they have a president who will tell them what's on his mind. And I think the connection that he made in the course...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Whether it's true or not?
PENCE: Well, they're going to tell them -- he's going to say what he believes to be true and I know that he's always going to speak in that way as president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: General Petraeus is coming up as you've said, your transition team said he's being considered for Secretary of State. The FBI director chose not to prosecute Secretary Clinton and told congress what general Petraeus did was actually worse with classified information thanwhat Secretary Clinton did.
Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: Clearly intentional conduct, knew what he was doing was a violation of the law, huge amounts of information that even if you couldn't prove he knew it, it raises the inference that he did it, an effort to obstruct justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you respond to that?
PENCE: Well, first I respond by saying that General David Petraeus is an American hero. I first met him down range in Iraq when he was in command of the 101st Airborne. I saw the way that he marshaled the resources and the plan to develop the surge and achieved an American success at the end of the last administration in Iraq. He's a man of enormous talents.
But look, he made mistakes. And he paid the consequences of those mistakes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It would be difficult for any other person in the State Department to get a security clearance after this. So why isn't this disqualifying for secretary of state?
PENCE: I think the person who will make the decision about our next secretary of state is the president-elect. And he'll factor the totality of General Petraeus' career in making that decision. But I can assure you that the process of assembling this cabinet has truly been inspiring.
But what I think the American people are seeing is not only a record pace, this is the fastest assembly of a cabinet in the last 40 year, even a sitting vice president, George Herbert Walker Bush didn't assemble a cabinet as quickly as President-elect Donald Trump is. And whether it be General Petraeus or Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani or Senator Bob Corker or John Bolton or others who may be added to the list, what people are seeing is an extraordinary capacity of an executive to bring the broadest range of people around him, to be in these meetings, George, to see the way he asked the incisive questions, he gets straight to the point, straight to the issue, I'm just -- I'm very confident as he's done so far our president-elect is going to continue to assemble a cabinet, people that will be the best for that position and it'll be a team that will make America strong and prosperous against.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Exhilarated to be in the middle of it?
PENCE: It's incredibly humbling and incredibly exciting for my little family to be a part of a history that I truly do believe is going to make America great again.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Vice president-elect, thanks for coming in this morning.
PENCE: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Standing by live to respond General David Petraeus. We're be back in just two minutes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did the meeting go, sir?
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, FMR. DIRECTOR,CIA: The meeting went very well. Was with him for about an hour. He basically walked us around the world, showed a great grasp of a variety of the challenges that are out there and some of the opportunities as well. So very good conversation and we will see where it goes from here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: There is General David Petraeus after meeting with President-elect Trump this week in New York. They toured the world. General Petraeus comes to us from Germany this morning. Thank you for joining us, General Petraeus, and you heard Vice President-elect Mike Pence speaking about your service to this country and calling you an American hero. Talked about your possibility of getting confirmed as well.
It appears that this is not disqualifying that your security clearance problems are not disqualifying to President-elect Trump right now, but CNN has reported that several Republican senators are concerned about this confirmation battle. One said it's causing a high level of angst. What can you say to reassure them?
PETRAEUS: Well, first of all, good to with you, George.
What I would say to them is what I've acknowledged for a number of years. Five years ago, I made a serious mistake. I acknowledged it. I apologized for it. I paid a very heavy price for it and I've learned from it. And, again, they'll have to factor that in and also obviously 38-and-a-half years of otherwise fairly in some cases unique service to our country in uniform and then at the CIA and then some four years or so in the business community during, which I've continued to travel the world nearly 40 countries in that time as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You'll be pressed on whether you made false statements to the FBI. Director Comey said you did. And you acknowledged that in your plea agreement, yet your attorney told The Washington Post this week that you simply forgot about the journal. So are you challenging the director's conclusion there?
PETRAEUS: Well, no, look, I mean obviously I made a false statement. At the time I didn't think it was false, and frankly I think if they might have pursued that more.
I'd also like to add, by the way, something that he left out which is that the FBI in the agreement acknowledged that nothing that was in my journals that I shared certainly improperly ended up in the biography or made it out to the public. I think that's a fairly significant point, in fact. The book is read by someone, a colonel at the time, Mike Mace, who had been with me in the whole year that I was in Afghanistan is now a brigadier general retired.
But, again, look, I made a mistake. I have again acknowledged it, folks will have to factor that in and determine whether that is indeed disqualifying or not.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What was your impression of President-elect Trump? You've worked with several presidents. How does he stack up?
PETRAEUS: Well, I think he's actually quite pragmatic. In our conversation what I enjoyed most frankly was the discussion of issues, or say campaign rhetoric, if you will, and then placing that in a strategic context.
As an example, he is not anti-trade, he is against -- he's anti-unfair trade.
The wall -- well, the wall would be a -- an element in a comprehensive effort to shore up our security on the southern border, which, by the way, as we discussed, would include more help to Mexico for the problems that it has in the broader rule of law area, and, indeed, perhaps with its southern border, which is so challenged, as well.
But again, we talked about all of those kinds of issues. These are issues with which I had concern, needless to say, and it was good to -- to discuss the strategic context in which each of those would be placed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: If you were chosen as secretary of State, you'd have the job of convincing Mexico to pay for that wall.
How would you do it?
PETRAEUS: Well, I'm not sure what the scheme would be there for that. Again, the issue with Mexico would be to determine together how we could improve the status of the security, while certainly not impeding the flow of commerce back and forth that is so very important to both of our countries.
Indeed, it's notable that the president-elect has already gained agreement from President Pena and I -- I believe with the Canadian prime minister, as well, to sit down, to examine issues in NAFTA.
You may recall that together with Bob Zoellick, former World Bank president, I co-chaired a Council on Foreign Relations task force on North America that identified a number of pages of issues that could be resolved on NAFTA to make it even more effective for the citizens of all three of our nations.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the things you called for in that report was comprehensive immigration reform, which it doesn't appear that people that is interested in -- in that. And you certainly didn't mention anything about Mexico paying for a wall on our border.
PETRAEUS: Well, I think, actually, immigration issues will be among those that will be addressed. There will be a number of initiatives, I would think, based on the discussions during the campaign and in our meeting about how to ensure that we are very carefully reviewing those who come to our country, particularly those in immigration, also shoring up our defenses just put on those who come here on passports for tourism.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And I want to move on to Russia now.
President Putin of Russia was giving an interview overnight where he called President-elect Trump a smart man, people that has praised him, as well.
But one of the -- the other contenders for secretary of State, Mitt Romney, famously called Russia under Putin our top strategic threat.
Who's right about that, President-elect Trump or Mitt Romney?
PETRAEUS: Well, Russia certainly is one of the threats, one of the challenges to our security and that of our allies and partners around the world. But it's also a feature of the landscape. And there are issues in which we do have convergences and I don't think you would rule out at all discussions at some point in time with Russia about issues such as the defeat of the Islamic State, such as the ultimate resolution in Syria, obviously about the challenges of the Russian-supported separatists in southeastern Ukraine.
Again, you can keep going around the world and, again, strategic discussion, I think, is very much warranted w Russia, and, indeed, with China, as well as our allies and partners around the world.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is a meeting of the minds possible with Russia on Syria?
When you were in the government, you were advocating arming and supporting the Syrian rebels.
President-elect Trump doesn't seem all that interested in that. And Russia has been decimating them in recent weeks.
PETRAEUS: Well, look, let's first of all focus on the defeat of -- of Daesh, of the Islamic State and, indeed, of the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria. In some cases, that is going to be pursued in support of some of the opposition forces that are on the ground in Syria. That is the primary vehicle that we have on the ground and it's what is being enabled by our intelligence surveillance reconnaissance and strike assets overhead.
The ultimate resolution of Syria, inevitably, is going to involve all of the different regional stakeholders, the Sunni opposition forces, the Syrian Kurds, and, indeed, the regime forces that are being supported by Russia and ultimately discussions with Russia continuing what Secretary Kerry has been doing will be necessary, although I think you probably have got to take a very cold, hard look at the situation and ask whether the discussion -- what is being sought now under -- in diplomacy is actually realistic or not.
But the time will come some months from now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaking about what's realistic or not, President-elect Trump has -- has vowed to rip up the Iran deal when he becomes president.
If you were secretary of State, would you advise him to do that?
Is it even possible?
PETRAEUS: Well, first of all, we discussed this. And I think the issue here is to ask what is it that we really want to see happen in this case?
And I think that the two overriding objectives are to ensure that Iran lives up to its word, that it doesn't ever seek to have a nuclear weapon. And you could do that by the White House and Congress having a statement of national purpose that Iran will never be allowed to enrich uranium to weapons grade. And then ensure that U.S. Central Command, which I was privileged to command, as you'll recall, maintains the capability to carry out the contingency plans that we developed back in that time, as well.
And then the other big objective is to counter the malign Iranian activity in the region, its activities in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen and elsewhere, working with our regional partners and our ally Israel in so doing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But our allies aren't going to go along with ripping up the Iran deal, are they?
PETRAEUS: Well, again, multilateral deal, we have to sit down and really assess. This is the deal, I've publicly said it has some positive elements to it. It's also got some significantly negative elements, including that it ends 10 to 15 years, depending on the various elements of the agreement, with no clear indication of what follows it.
So again, coming back to what our overriding strategic objectives are, then assessing whether this deal should be ripped up or not as part of achieving those objectives is, I take, going to be the task of the administration when it takes office in January.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the other questions you might face if, indeed, you are chosen by President-elect Trump to be secretary of State is -- is how to handle the fact that if you're chosen, you'll have three generals -- three former generals in the top national security positions. General Flynn is national security adviser, General Mattis at the Pentagon, as well.
What would you say to senators or Americans who are concerned about the over-reliance on the military in those spots?
PETRAEUS: Well, I -- you know, a general is not necessarily a general. I'm not trying to sound insufficiently humble here, but I would contend that I carried out about as much statesmanship working in -- as the commander of the theater of war in Iraq, together with the great diplomat, Ryan Crocker, in Afghanistan with a number of different coalition ambassadors, as a regional combatant commander, where you're working very closely with elements of the State Department and the ambassadors on the ground in each country, and then obviously, as the CIA director and even since, in the business world, where I've traveled to some 40 countries or so over the course of the last four years for that and for academic endeavors.
Indeed, what I'm doing here in Germany, I'm at an international security conference right now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Did -- did President-elect Trump ask you if you voted for him?
PETRAEUS: I don't vote. So that's an easy answer. And I also did not support him nor did I oppose him, nor did I support or oppose any other candidate. I've truly tried to be apolitical, non-political, George, as I think you know. And so that was a pretty easy question to answer.
STEPHANOPOULOS: General Petraeus, thanks for joining us this morning.
PETRAEUS: Great to be with you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We've heard from the Vice President-Elect and General Petraeus, and now the roundtable is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform?
You're going to look me in the face and tell me that?
JENNIFER PALMIERI, FMR. CLINTON CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: It did, Kellyanne, it did. It did.
CONWAY: Do you think you could have just had a decent message for the white working class voters?
Do you think this woman who has nothing in common with anybody --
PALMIERI: I'm not saying that's why you won but that's the kind of campaign that was run, yes.
CONWAY: How about, it's Hillary Clinton, she doesn't connect with people. How about they have nothing in common with her?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of raw feelings from the campaign teams up at Harvard this week. We're going to talk about all the week's politics now with our roundtable, including our chief political analyst, Matthew Dowd; Republican strategist, Alex Castellanos; President Obama's former strategist, David Axelrod and Republican strategist, Sara Fagen.
I think at least three of the four of you have been at those forums before. That was probably one of the most heated ones ever.
But let's talk more broadly about the transition.
Matthew Dowd, I think one of the things we've seen this week is President-Elect Trump is going to continue to do things his way -- if this morning is any indication. Vice President-Elect Mike Pence going to come out and explain it.
And you really see no apologies here, no apologies for the phone call to Taiwan; Mexico is going to pay for the wall; 35 percent tariffs are coming.
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think what we've learned is that Campaign Trump, who didn't pay attention to any rules and didn't abide by any normal sense of normalcy in the course of a political campaign at a presidential level, is not going to do that as president-elect and is probably not going to do that when he enters office on January 20th.
I have to give Mike Pence some credit. The ability for him to maneuver around all the different tweets, the things that were said, in a manner and tone that I think is very good for the administration, I would hope he can sort of use some of that on his boss, who would be better off with more of that.
But one of the things I think fundamentally we're learning is Donald Trump is going to only talk to the American public right now either through a rally or a tweet because he's not doing it any kind of press way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mike Pence playing a powerful role behind the scenes as well.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: A very stabilizing force, I think engenders a lot of trust in a new administration, great relationships with Republican House and Senate, it's going to be very effective there.
But, you know, we are seeing disruption and it's freaking out the news media and the old establishment in Washington.
Guess what, that's why Donald Trump was elected to do exactly that. I feel like we're watching Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan show.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So do you think the Taiwan call was deliberate?
CASTELLANOS: Yes, I think actually it was. Apparently, his aides were over there at some point. And, you know, it was almost three months ago to the day that China snubbed the President of the United States, wouldn't give him steps to get off of Air Force One.
And so a little pushback here. You know, we're learning a lot. Donald Trump negotiates from strength.
DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN CHIEF STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, I agree with Matthew that, if Mike Pence were a football player, he would be a candidate for the Heisman trophy right now for the way he maneuvered around some of those questions and I think he is very skillful at it.
And it does -- it is helpful to Trump. And what you took away from it was we're going to do those things that are sort of what the Republican agenda has been; we're going to cut taxes, deregulate. We're going to repeal ObamaCare -- though, he was very unclear as to what comes next.
And he sort of navigates around some of the more -- the tariffs and some of the more irksome questions as well. That's his point of view.
But here's the point, Alex, on China. He's not Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan show. He's President of the United States. And so when he says something, it matters. When he says 35 percent tariffs on companies that move or when he says to Taiwan or to China, through his action, we're changing the policy, these can have monumental impacts. And that is what's concerning to me.
SARA FAGEN, FORMER POLITICAL DIRECTOR FOR GEORGE W. BUSH: You're right, David. Setting aside the process of this phone call and these phone calls, on the substance, let's not forget, in his first national policy speech back in April, Donald Trump said America is too predictable.
So I agree with Alex. I don't think this was accidental. I think Donald Trump knew exactly what he was doing when he took that call from the Taiwanese leader.
CASTELLANOS: Let me push back on David a second.
DOWD: -- just one thing on the China thing for this, is it may have been intentional, Donald Trump does some things intentional, some things visceral. But I don't think it was intentional for Donald Trump to sort of reset the China policy of the United States of America through one phone call.
I think he got a phone call. It fed his ego if the president of Taiwan calls him up. I think the troubling thing is not so much that he had a phone call. I think Donald Trump can talk to anybody, any leader he wants in the world. Go for it.
I think the problem is, when you don't have a real fundamental strategy in place, what is your Far Eastern policy?
Who are the staff surrounding it?
And what's it going to do -- what's it going to do to your relationship with North Korea that you need the Chinese for?
What's it going to do on climate change that you need the Chinese for?
And what's it going to do on Iran that you need the Chinese for?
Donald Trump didn't think all those things through.
FAGEN: But there is a growing -- there is a growing --
CASTELLANOS: I think that's quite a reach to say that he didn't think all of those things through and that no one around him did as well.
AXELROD: Well, he didn't --
CASTELLANOS: -- China --
AXELROD: -- with anybody from the State Department or the National Security Council.
CASTELLANOS: -- China has been running free now for decades. We have an illusionary policy here where there is no Taiwan, yes, there is and we agree not to -- that the emperor is clothed whenever it's convenient here.
Meanwhile, China is much more assertive and aggressive in the South China Sea. They have doubled the number of submarines in the Asian Pacific that we do. They will soon have nearly threetimes as many. And no one has pushed back. I think Donald Trump...
STEPHANOPOULOS: When you think three steps down the road is this going to help get China on board with North Korea or hurt?
FAGEN: Before Donald Trump's election there has been a growing chorus on -- in the Republican Party that we needed to be more aggressive with China, that we need to shift from a policy of appeasement to a policy of counterbalance.
CASTELLANOS: Projecting American...
FAGEN: That China has not been a good actor on the world stage and it's time for America to be more assertive in its relationship.
AXELROD: One of the ways America could have been more assertive would be to have approved the Trans-Pacific Partnership which was something that China deeply feared, and now doesn't have to worry about, because this president said he wouldn't do it.
But, Alex, if this were just a one-off you could say, OK, this was his China policy, but calling -- speaking with the president of Kazakhstan, the strong man there, and praising him, talking to the president -- to the leader of Pakistan and suggesting you'll come there, you know, inviting the very odd leader of the Philippines here, all of these things have impacts that go beyond simply a conversation between two men when you're president of the United States. And it doesn't appear to be, as Matthew says, any preparation for any of that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You talk about one-offs. And I want to take that opportunity to move on to this Carrier deal as well.
Listening to Mike Pence this morning, Matthew Dowd, it sounds like the Carrier negotiations are a one-off as well and now we're moving towards what President-elect Trump was talking about this morning in his tweet, that tariff.
DOWD: Well, listen, I think this is a complex thing. I think there is for Donald Trump and the voters that Donald Trump spoke for who felt like nobody had been talking about them especially in the Rust Belt and the manufacturing industry. They think both parties forgot about them, didn't really deal with them. He goes he says I'm going to do something about this. He's elected president and then something is done about this.
You can argue about whether or not there's some grand economic policy there. I don't think it is. It seems like a case-by-case basis of what he's doing.
I think the problem with Donald Trump, and I think Mike Pence faced this on your questioning today, I think Paul Ryan is going to face this as speaker and I think Mitch McConnell is going to face this, this is not a Republican conservative strategy and it's no part of any economic policy that any Republican has bought into or been part of.
CASTELLANOS: But it is leadership to provide one company relief from an oppressive tax and regulatory regime. Is it the entire answer? Excuse me. Is it the entire answer? No. But, you know, not a sparrow falls...
CASTELLANOS: The most important thing, the most important thing that happened in that meeting is the Carrier CEO opened Donald Trump's eyes. He said he would trade all those benefits for one thing, a more open economy with less regulation. Washington is crushing companies.
AXELROD: I wonder if he told the folks at Carrier that we're going to put a 35 percent tariff on those 1,300 jobs that are going to Mexico, because if you net it out, I don't think that's a winner for them.
My guess is he didn't tell them that.
FAGEN: On this tariff issue, Donald Trump is going to run right into the Republican congress.
I do not believe that Republicans in congress, those that were just elected a few weeks ago, are going to support any kind of tariff, any kind of economic policy that is counter to what has been part of the Republican brand.
CASTELLANOS: But, Sarah, isn't it important -- isn't it important for a Republican leader to deal with the world, not say, hey, here's what we'd like in an ideal world. That's the opening bid in a negotiation. Isn't it important for a Republican leader to start asking for more so that we end up getting something to work for us?
AXELROD: I think the Democratic president...
CASTELLANOS: Donald Trump is a free trader with teeth. He's going to fight for that.
FAGEN: Yeah, we'll see.
CASTELLANOS: That's what we're seeing.
DOWD: The most important thing any leader can do is tell the truth to the American public. Tell the truth to the American public about what it means to be in a global economy, what it means that how you're going to have to get retraining. What it means in this environment that we're in. What it means that trade really isn't responsible for the loss of most of the jobs, it's technology and innovation. That's the truth and Donald Trump...
CASTELLANOS: No, it's not by the way, regulatory regime is responsible for the loss...
DOWD: The truth is we are in a global economy, and the fact is Americans have benefited through cheaper products.
Now, your question is...
CASTELLANOS: So, why isn't Germany, why isn't Germany have a trade deficit? Why do they have a trade surplus, because globalization should be affecting them? We are oppressing American businesses, political and artificial solutions are killing us.
DOWD: It is something he's allergic to.
AXELROD: Alex, if a Democratic president had done what Donald Trump did in the last few days and said what he said this morning, you would be the first one who would be howling about it.
I agree with Matthew, it's good politics for that Rust Belt area where he ran, but in terms of policy, it is wrong-headed policy and what is needed is a real strategy for dealing with these revolutionary changes in our economy and we have no idea whether he has one.
FAGEN: Donald Trump is going to have to navigate a very changing Republican base. The base of the Republican Party is now against trade, yet the leaders in congress are pro-trade. He has to navigate what is going to be a very tricky disparate group of people in his broad coalition if he is going to be effective.
One off-deal in Carrier, huge political win. He has s a long way to go.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We only have about 30 seconds left. I want to go quickly around the table. Who the choice for secretary of state.
DOWD: I don't think anybody that we've really had on the shows or we've really focused on. I think it's going to be someone we don't -- we're unaware of next week.
CASTEALLNOS: As far as I understand, everyone has been ruled out -- Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, so I have no answer.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Everybody is taking a pass.
FAGEN: I'm going to about with Giuliani, because I think he's going to ultimately go withthe person who is maybe arguably the most strongly for him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, at the end come back to the loyalist. Very interesting. We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. In the month of November, nine service members died overseas supporting operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT" and I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA".