'This Week' Transcript 5-23-21: Secretary of State Antony Blinken & Sen. Susan Collins

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

ByABC News
May 23, 2021, 9:54 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, May 23, 2021 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.

ANNOUNCER: "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" starts right now.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR (voice-over): Cease-fire. Israel and Hamas reach a fragile truce after 11 days of deadly violence, but new clashes in Jerusalem underscore the challenges ahead.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As President Biden faces his first major foreign policy test, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is our headliner.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The bill is passed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Dozens of House Republicans vote for a commission to investigate the Capitol siege, but GOP leaders vow to block it in the Senate.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It's not at all clear what new facts yet another commission could actually lay on top of existing efforts.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): They are caving to Donald Trump, and proving that the Republican Party is still drunk off the big lie.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is bipartisan legislating on life support in Washington? We ask Senator Susan Collins and our powerhouse roundtable.

Plus: the stuff of sci-fi soon the subject of a blockbuster official report. Will it reveal that UFOs are real? The Pentagon official who studied it the most joins us live this morning.

And policing in America one year after the murder of George Floyd.

Martha Raddatz reports.


ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."

Here now, George Stephanopoulos.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."

As we come on the air this morning, the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas is holding, despite scattered clashes in Jerusalem and the devastation caused by 11 days of rocket launches and military retaliation.

That destruction creates the potential for new violence, poses a challenge to President Biden, and raises a host of questions for our headliner, Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Good morning, Mr. Secretary. Welcome to "This Week."

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Thanks, George. Great to be with you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's start with the cease-fire.

President Biden pushed it privately, welcomed it publicly. Both sides are claiming a sort of victory right now, but has anything really changed? What's to prevent this cycle of violence from kicking up again, maybe very soon?

BLINKEN: Well, first, George, it was critical to get to the cease-fire.

And President Biden's focus on relentless, determined, but quiet diplomacy is what got us to where we needed to be, which was to get the violence ended as quickly as possible, to stop more human suffering, and to at least put ourselves in a position to make a turn, to make a pivot to building something more positive.

That has to start now with dealing with the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza, then reconstruction, rebuilding what's been lost, and, critically, engaging both sides in trying to start to make real improvements in the lives of people, so that Israelis and Palestinians can live with equal measures of security, of peace and of dignity.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You stress that word equal right there. That seems to be a new emphasis for this administration. We haven't heard that a lot in the past, equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis.

BLINKEN: Well, it's vitally important that -- that Palestinians feel hope and have opportunity, and can live in security, just as it is for Israelis.

And there should be equal measures. And in a democratic society, that is, I think, an obligation of the -- of any government.

So, ultimately, I think that that hope, that security, that dignity can -- will be found in a Palestinian state. But, meanwhile, we have to do everything we can both to address the immediate situation, which is humanitarian, reconstruction in Gaza, starting to improve people's lives in a concrete way, and ultimately get to a place where we can get negotiations and move towards something that brings a lasting resolution to the problem.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say you still want to work towards a two-state solution, but is that really still possible?

Is there anything constructive the United States can do? It doesn't seem like efforts have created much fruit in the past. And -- or is this new emphasis you're putting on equal rights really the start of a longer-term shift?

BLINKEN: No, President Biden has been very clear that he remains committed to a two-state solution.

Look, ultimately, it is the only way to ensure Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state and, of course, the only way to give the Palestinians the state to which they're entitled. That's where we have to go.

But that, I don't think, is something for -- necessarily for today. We have to start putting in place the conditions that would allow both sides to engage in a meaningful and positive way toward two states.

In the first instance, we have to deal with making this turn from the violence -- we have got the cease-fire -- and now deal with the humanitarian situation, deal with reconstruction, and deepen our existing engagement with Palestinians and with Israelis alike.


BLINKEN: I was going to say, George, the most important thing is this. What I hope that everyone takes from this is that if there isn't positive change, and particularly if we can't find a way for -- to help Palestinians live with more -- with more dignity and with more hope, this cycle is likely to repeat itself, and that is in no one's interest.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say you want rebuilding. You say you want reconstruction. The president said he wants to do that without restocking Hamas, rebuilding Gaza without restocking Hamas. How do you do that? They're in charge in Gaza.

BLINKEN: Look, we've worked in the past and we can continue to work with trusted, independent parties that can help do the reconstruction and the development, not some quasi-government authority. And the fact of the matter is Hamas has brought nothing but ruin to the Palestinian people. Its gross mismanagement of Gaza while it has been in charge, and, of course, these indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians which have elicited the response that they did because Israel has a right to defend itself.

So I think what's the real challenge here is to help the Palestinians and particularly to help moderate Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority deliver better results for their people. And, of course, Israel has a profound role to play in that too.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president reiterated strong support for Israel on Friday, but he's coming under increased pressure from progressives, Bernie Sanders has introduced a resolution of disapproval over a new arms sale to Israel. Others like Rashida Tlaib and AOC say the U.S. should not be rubberstamping arms sales to Israel when they use the weapons to abuse Palestinian rights. What's your response to that?

BLINKEN: Well, happily, George, one of the things I don't do in this job is I don't do politics. I focus on the policies. So I'll leave the politics to others. But here's what I can say. We got to the result thanks to President Biden's relentless focus on this quiet but I think effective diplomacy in getting to a cease-fire and stopping the violence in 11 days. If you go back and look at previous crises, they've lasted a lot longer. But, of course, every single day that these things go on, we see a tremendous loss in human life and in human suffering. And we're determined to get that -- to bring that to an end.

When it comes to arms sales, two things. First, the president has been equally clear we're committed to giving Israel the means to defend itself, especially when it comes to these indiscriminate rocket attacks against civilians. Any country would respond to that, and we're committed to Israel's defense. At the same time, any arms sale is going to be done in full consultation with Congress, we're committed to that. And we want to make sure that that process works effectively.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your administration is continuing to pursue nuclear negotiations with Iran, but 42 Republican senators have called on the president to end the negotiations, make it clear that sanctions will remain in place because of Iranian funding of Hamas. Do you believe that Iran is funding Hamas? And if they are, should the sanctions stay in place?

BLINKEN: You know, George, Iran is engaged in a number of activities, including funding extremist groups, supporting terrorism more broadly, supporting very dangerous proxies that are taking destabilizing actions throughout the Middle East, proliferating weapons, and two things on that. One, an Iran with a nuclear weapon or with the capability to build one in very short order is going to act with even greater impunity in those areas, which just adds to the urgency of trying to put the nuclear problem back in the box that the nuclear agreement put it in.

And, of course, many of these actions are going forward now while the -- you know, and have gone forward over the last few years under the so-called maximum pressure being exerted by the -- by the previous administration and clearly did not get the result that we all seek, which is to curb all of these activities. But the first thing that we need to do is put the nuclear problem back in the box. That's why we're committed to trying to see if Iran will come back into compliance with the nuclear agreement, the so-called JCPOA. That's what we're engaged in now. And then use that as a platform to build on and to try to deal with these other issues.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The Iranians say the decision to raise -- to lift some of the sanctions has already been made. Is that true?

BLINKEN: We have been now over -- we're about to have our, I think, fifth round of discussions in Vienna with the Iranians. And what these discussions and talks, indirect, as you know, have done is they've clarified what each sides needs to do in order to come back into compliance. So we know what sanctions would need to be lifted if they're inconsistent with the nuclear agreement, but as important and indeed more important, Iran, I think, knows what it needs to do to come back into compliance on the nuclear side. And what we haven't seen is whether Iran is ready and willing to make a decision to do what it has to do. That's the test and we don't yet have an answer.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally let's talk about the North Korean nuclear program. At his meeting with the South Korean prime minister on Friday, the president said he was prepared to re-engage with the North Koreans under the right conditions. Right now the best estimates are that the North Korean nuclear arsenal has doubled in recent years, about 45 weapons right now. Does the United States have to accept that North Korea will remain a nuclear power? Do we have to learn to live with a nuclear North Korea?

BLINKEN: We don't, and we shouldn't, but let's be -- let's be honest. This is a hard problem.

Previous administrations, Republican and Democrat alike, have tried to tackle it, and no one's fully succeeded to say the least. In fact, the program has gotten more advanced and more dangerous over time. And we've looked at different approaches that we're taken, including basically doing nothing for nothing or trying to -- get everything for everything. Neither has worked.

We engaged in an intensive review. We looked at what every previous administration has done. We consulted very closely with our allies and partners starting with South Korea and Japan. I was there with Secretary Austin. We just had President Moon's visit.

All of that, as well the view of experts on all sides was factored in, and what President Biden determined was the best chance we have to achieve the objective of the total denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is to engage diplomatically with North Korea on a deliberate, calibrated approach where we seek to make progress toward that goal.

I don't think there's going to be grand bargain where this gets resolved in one fell swoop. It's got to be clearly calibrated diplomacy, clear steps from the North Koreans, and it moves forward in that way.

Now we've put that forward. We're waiting to see if Pyongyang actually wants to engage. The ball's in their court.

We've made clear, and we're prepared to pursue this diplomatically even as the sanctions remain in place because North Korea continues to engage in activities that are clearly prohibited by the United Nations.

But we're prepared to do the -- do the diplomacy. The question is, is North Korea?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Secretary Blinken, thanks for your time this morning.

BLINKEN: Thanks, George. Great to be with you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's bring in Republican Senator Susan Collins from Maine.

Senator Collins, thanks for joining us this morning.

You just heard Secretary Blinken right there. You were one of the 42 Republican senators to sign that letter about the Iran nuclear negotiations, saying the sanctions should be in place.

What's your response to Secretary Blinken?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): First of all, let me commend Secretary Blinken and President Biden for working very hard to help bring about a ceasefire in the Middle East, and for recognizing that Israel does have the right to defend itself against a terrorist group, Hamas, that is funded by the Iranians. And that's the key reason why I don't want us to proceed with lifting sanctions on Iran as long as Iran remains a foremost supporter of terrorism in the world.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the prospect for bipartisan cooperation on infrastructure. I know you’ve been a part in meetings with President Biden.

In a bid to jumpstart the negotiations, the administration lowered their proposal to $1.7 trillion this week and said the ball is now in the GOP's court to come up with a counterproposal.

Will you and your colleagues do that?

COLLINS: I think negotiations should continue, but it's important to note that there are some fundamental differences here, and at the heart of the negotiations is defining the scope of the bill. What is infrastructure?

We, Republicans, tend to define infrastructure in terms of roads, bridges, seaports and airports and broadband. The Democratic definition seems to include social programs that have never been considered part of core infrastructure.

I was glad that the president put a counteroffer on the table, but if you look closely at it, what he's proposing to do is move a lot of the spending to a bill that's already on the Senate floor, the Endless Frontier's bill.

So I think we're still pretty far apart, but this is the test. This will determine whether or not we can work together in a bipartisan way on an important issue.

And the other important area where we're far apart is still the money. We have to realize that if you look at what the president had proposed this year, the $1.9 trillion package for COVID, which went way beyond COVID, in March, and now this very broadly described infrastructure package, we're talking about an enormous sum of money.

Remember, we spent $4.1 trillion inflation adjusted dollars to win World War II. That's the size of the president's infrastructure and social services package.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrats and Republicans in the Senate also seem to be far apart on this bill to have a bipartisan commission look into the January 6th siege of the Capitol. Thirty-five Republican House members voted for it but it appears that it's getting -- hitting a roadblock in the Senate right now. You called that attack appalling and un-American, provoked by President Trump. But now you're saying you're going to support the commission only under certain conditions, including that it wrap up this year, which appear pretty unrealistic.

Why are you opposed to -- to having the commission -- to voting for the commission as passed by the House?

COLLINS: Well, first of all, let me clarify my position.

I strongly support the creation of an independent commission. I believe there are many unanswered questions about the attacks on the Capitol on January 6th. We need to figure out how we can enhance security, why we weren't better prepared, and we want the Capitol to be an open, accessible symbol of our democracy. So I support the creation of a non-partisan, bipartisan commission.

The two issues that I think are resolvable, one has to do with staffing, and I think that both sides should either jointly appoint the staff or there should be equal numbers of staff appointed by the chairman and the vice chairman.

The second issue is, I see no reason why the report cannot be completed by the end of this year. The commissioners have to be appointed within ten days. There's plenty of time to complete the work.

And I'm optimistic that we can get past these issues based on recent conversations I've had with the speaker of the House, and the House majority leader.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Senator Collins, "Axios" reported this week that the FBI is investigating a scheme to illegally finance your 2020 re-election bid. It involves $150,000 in contributions from a defense contractor.

Were you aware of those contributions and what's your reaction to the investigation?

COLLINS: Absolutely not. I was not aware at all. But it's also important to recognize, this is not an investigation of me. It's not an investigation of Collins for Senator Campaign. It's an investigation of a single donor among the hundred thousand donors that I have. And I -- if he has done something wrong, as the warrant alleges, then he should be pursued by the FBI.

I would also clarify that some of that money went to an outside super PAC, not to my campaign.

But my campaign website actually has information on it instructing people that they can only make donations with their own money. They cannot funnel it through someone else. They cannot be straw donors. And they have to check that box in order to contribute.

So I had no knowledge and it is not an investigation of my campaign or of me, just one of my many donors.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Collins, thanks for that clarification.

Roundtable's next. Plus, a preview of the Pentagon report on UFOs that is coming soon.

Stay with us.



SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PEOLOSI (D) CALIF.: The House of Representatives, in a strong bipartisan way, passed a bipartisan legislation for an independent, bipartisan 9/11-type commission to establish the truth of what happened on January 6th.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL (R) KY: it's not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could actually lay on top of existing efforts.

Past Democrats have handled this proposal in partisan bad faith, going right back to the beginning.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell weighing in on that January 6th commission. Let's talk about it on our round table. We're joined by Rahm Emanuel; Sarah Isgur, veteran of the Trump Justice Department; and I want to welcome back two of our veteran roundtablers, George Will and Donna Brazile.

Welcome back to both of you.

And, George, let me began with you. We just heard Speaker Pelosi and -- and Leader McConnell, right? Then we heard Susan Collins say she's still optimistic for something going forward on this January 6th commission.

It's, kind of, hard to believe it's even controversial?

GEORGE WILL, WASHINGTON POST SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, it's controversial for one reason. We have something new in American history; that is a political party defined by the terror it feels for its own voters. That's the Republican Party right now.

Every elected official is frightened of his voters, therefore doesn't respect his voters, doesn't like his voters, and is afraid that a vote for this will be seen as an insult to the 45th president.

There's no reason -- I mean, McConnell has a point. There are going to lots of investigations. Journalists are going to go through this. There are 450-something criminal charges now being brought, with 100 more probably to come. So there are going to be lots of information about this.

I would like to see January 6th as burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11, because it was that scale of -- of shock to the system. And I think there will be a commission, but it is controversial for that reason.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your Republican Party?



I wish...

EMANUEL: Can you stick with that punchline (ph)?


ISGUR: I wish that the Republicans were being more honest. We're hearing lots of reasons, "Oh, it's we can't hire Republican staff. It'll be partisan and this."

The real reason is they need five seats to take back the House. They need one seat to take back the Senate. And they're asking themselves, "Is this in our political interest to have this commission?" And the answer is no. So they're going to vote against it.

I think everything that George said is correct as well, but when it comes down to it, Nancy Pelosi has made clear that she thinks Democrats benefit from this commission and the Republicans think they don't. They think they can take back the House in 2022.

Everything about the history of midterm elections and an opposition party says that they can get those five seats. Why do anything that wouldn't be in their interests?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Rahm, I guess the question is, is the Republican read on their politics correct?

EMANUEL: Well, look, I think they're caught in this vise, or, as Yogi Berra used to say, when you get to a fork in the road, take it.

And their challenge is, they can either pick Trump or they can pick the truth. And, right now, it's pretty clear they're going to pick Trump, because the truth is too frightening.

They know what this report would say. And it would be a damning report about not only what happened, but what was behind what happened. And they can't afford that. And I do think it's a political calculation, as Sarah said.

And I think, at this point, as 9/11 or other incidences, they rise above politics.

It was interesting to hear that Senator Collins thinks that she's optimistic that they could actually work out the issues. But this is a case, straight up, that, if that report gets issued, there's going to be a whole group of both independent voters and what I would call soft Republicans who are going to be terrified by a party dominated by Trump and the likings.

And I think George is absolutely right, which is, you never had a party, a major party, in a country that is scared of a minority of its voters and frightened. Rather than leading them, they're being led by them.


DONNA BRAZILE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: This should go beyond our standard politics, the standard politics of which party benefits or which group of American voters will lose.

This is about the citadel of our democracy being attacked. It's about our country being in a state of disbelief. I cannot imagine not looking at all of the underlying factors that led to the march on the Capitol.

You know, in that moment, George -- and I got two Georges -- man, I am lucky today.


BRAZILE: In that moment...

EMANUEL: Stuck in the middle.


BRAZILE: In that -- I am.

In that moment, sitting home -- and, George, I'm sure you were sitting home or somewhere. And I kept thinking, who's going to stop these people? Who's going to stop this attack on our Capitol?

And for the first time in my adult life -- and I'm not a scaredy-cat -- I felt frightened,because I didn't know what else would happen that day. And here we are, district residents, waiting for someone to call the National Guard.

I reached out to the mayor's office and said, where's the National Guard? I reached out. Where's the Metropolitan Police? This cannot be happening.

And yet it was happening. If we don't investigate the underlying reasons what happened, and -- then we will not prevent it from happening again. That is what is so scary about what happened on January 6.

WILL: I sent my staff home from my Georgetown office out of fear of disorder.

But there's an interesting conflict of interests here. Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the House Republicans, will be subpoenaed by a commission that has subpoena power, and he will be asked about his conversations with the president.

And I don't think, at that point, he will be -- during the riot.


WILL: I don't think, at that point, executive privilege will wash.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right. He said he will testify.

WILL: Yes.

EMANUEL: Two things.

One is, if this doesn't happen, remember, Congress has a backup called a select committee, all subpoena power. So, we're going to get to the bottom of this.

But I also want to say this. And this is a point of personal privilege, if I could. I am the son and the grandson of an immigrant. That immigrant, that child and grandchild, made it to the halls of Congress, which we refer to as the people's house.

It was assaulted in the same way of 1812. It was -- the Congress was assaulted, the Capitol. And if we don't come to terms with what happened here, we, as a country -- forget the partisan -- there is politics and -- there is politics and politics.

We, as a country, will never be able to move forward together. And I would just hope that there are still Republicans with a conscience that understand, yes, there are politics here, but there is something greater that Donna referred to, that, literally, children and grandchildren of immigrants who saw America as a beacon, a place of hope, the halls of Congress, that you got to vote and represent people's voices, that that -- what happened here has to be understood and grappled with, all the good, the bad and the ugly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sarah, I'm not even...

ISGUR: I don't think...


ISGUR: I don't think this commission is what people are talking about at their dinner tables anywhere in the country, except for Washington, D.C., and this roundtable.

But I think that it is what we're all looking to think about what the future of the Republican Party is. And, after January 6, there was this moment where it looked like the Republican Party really was going to repudiate Trump, move forward.

And I think what time has done is wash that all away. Trump has been able to reassert his authority over the party. And this commission vote is the evidence...


STEPHANOPOULOS: How is -- but how do you -- but here's what I don't understand. How do you explain that? He's out of power. He doesn't have his social media anymore. He hasn't been a presence for the last several months.

How have these positions hardened, rather than softened?

ISGUR: Because Republican voters have come back to these members.

The members misread the situation after January 6, and thought, aha, we're done with this. And then all of their voters came back and said, no, you're not.

BRAZILE: But this is an extension of the big lie.

It's the big lie that keeps on, you know, growing that he didn’t -- that he didn't lose the election. He lost the election, and Joe Biden won the election.

And because of the big lie, Republicans are afraid to move on. Move on to crafting policies, you know, that they support. And as long as the Republican Party's in the grips of one man, one man, they will not move forward.

And so I think this has to be investigated. It has -- the story has to be told whether it's at your dinner table or my dinner table.

And I want to agree with you because sometimes this young man and I -- we get into our moments.

EMANUEL: I’ll take the young part of that.

BRAZILE: You are the son and grandson of immigrants. I am a descendant of slaves on both sides. And my family helped to build that Capitol. And later as a kid, I got to chance to work on that Hill. You were in the Hill.

But I also had an opportunity as a young person to organize demonstrations. We got permits. We worked with local officials, federal officials, Capitol Hill police, and we worked to protest peacefully.

They didn't do that, George. We need to investigate this because this is not America. That's why it needs to be investigated.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to move on now to the fallout from this week's violence in the Middle East and the ceasefire, and only pose a question I asked Secretary Blinken. After -- in the wake of the ceasefire, has anything really changed or are we just in for another round of this cycle of violence or retaliation?

EMANUEL: Yes and no. If -- and there's a couple of challenges here, and there are centrifugal circles around it. If you use this opportunity to try to actually build on peace, it's an opportunity. If the ceasefire is the end point, no.

And Israel has a number of challenges to face. It has obviously a peace agreement to try to deal with the two-state solution.

I would like to remind everybody, back in 2000, President Clinton offered and accepted by -- Ehud Barak rejected, control the Temple Mount, East Jerusalem, 97 percent of the West Bank, and the triple the size of the Gaza Trip. It was rejected.

That said, Israel spent the last 20 years thinking they can manage the Palestinian problem and then deal with the larger Gulf and deal with Iran.

They cannot ignore a two-state solution, but the bigger challenge for Israel is that you have now a situation where Israeli Arabs identify with Palestinians. It's 20 percent of the population, and they have a two-front issue. Not Syria or Egypt, not Jordan. They have a two-front both inside Israel and dealing with the West Bank.

And if we force them and I say leave them towards understanding what their process is, in the same way that the Palestinian have to come to terms -- you know, as we were talking a little earlier, I even have this quote, they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity to make peace.

And I think America’s leadership rather than indulging right now, both sides’ worse politics to get them to understand that --


STEPHANOPOULOS: I suppose -- I suppose that's in our interest.

But, George, how have these opportunities evaporated? Is a two-state solution really conceivable anymore?

WILL: I think it's inconceivable and has been for awhile. But Israel still has no interlocutor who was not genocidal, that is doesn't want to destroy Israel, and to want to destroy Israel is to want to destroy Jews because they’re Jews.

Someone in the State Department trying to say something anodyne, said something just foolish, saying, there's no excuse for violence. Yes, there is, when people are shooting rockets at you.

They said, this violence accomplishes nothing. Well, it destroyed 60 miles of tunnels that were used to attack Israel, and if it forces them to dig them again, this will happen again.

This was if fourth Gaza war. Does anybody here want to bet their net worth that there won't be a fifth? Of course, there will.

EMANUEL: Well, I --

WILL: It’s a marked of a mature mind of an individual or a nation, whether they can distinguish between a problem and a mess. A problem like in a problem with geometry, a problem with unemployment implies a solution. There’s no solution here and we shouldn’t pretend there is.

EMANUEL: I don’t want to -- I mean, there are other voices here, but I would say this to you, George, is the fact is we're talking about Hamas when Hamas' political goal was to replace the PLO as a main interlocutor for peace.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And they succeeded.

EMANUEL: And they succeeded because we're talking about Hamas here, in the same ways throughout the West Bank and on the Gaza Strip, they're talking about Hamas. The fact is, that's domestic to them.

Bibi saw it -- Netanyahu saw there was another government -- coalition government that could have formed and he did things in my view that actually instigated a conflict that should not have happened.

There is a right to self determine -- there is a right to self-defense, but there's also a right to self-determination. And the fact is even when it's the worst moment, and I would quote the late Prime Minister Rabin, you make peace as if there is no terror, and you fight terror as if there is no peace process.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna, one thing that has changed is the domestic situation, political situation here, particularly inside the Democratic Party.

You've seen the outgrowth of the Black Lives Matter movement moving into progressive circles inside the Democratic Party leading to much more pressure on President Biden here.

BRAZILE: Right. Right.

Look, I think President Biden was extraordinary. This is quiet diplomacy, talking to the prime minister of Israel, talking to, of course, the Egyptian president and -- and bringing these forces together.

Two-state solution is vital. That is what many Democrats are requesting. But you're absolutely right, there is a -- and you know your former colleagues, there is a rise in condemnation when Israel defends itself. There's a rise in people wanting to see a two-state solution, and there's a, I think, a very strong appetite for not just the president, but also the prime minister to try to work with the Palestinians. And that is going to continue. That's not going to stop.

ISGUR: Joe Biden is stuck right now because the majority of Americans still support Israel. But within the Democratic base, we've seen a huge jump in this becoming a partisan issue, and an issue that Democrats actually, in theory, might vote on for the first time I think ever where this would be a top tier issue for people in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Not true on the Republican side, but it's becoming a more and more partisan-determined issue. That's a huge problem as you see hate crimes increase to their third highest levels -- third highest levels since 1989, since the ADL started even looking at these.

And the Biden administration has a problem when Israel became so close to the Trump administration. It became a more partisan issue. And they're having to deal with that.

EMANUEL: This -- this isn't right (ph). There are two forces here. And let me tell you, George, that are very relevant. One, I think, inside the Democratic Party is a generational divide.


EMANUEL: Where -- and the younger generation has only known one prime minister in Israel, a person who insulted Vice President Biden when he came to visit on a settlement start (ph), insulted President Obama by not checking with him about a speech to the Congress, and then fully embraced Trump. He made Israel a partisan issue.

And the second point -- I mean I think that in that effort is Joe Biden represents the tradition of the -- that Israel is an aspiration of -- that both parties support and we are continue -- and we'll continuing as a country to support their --

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to ask that question to George Will, finally.

Israel has always counted on a bedrock of bipartisan support in the United States. Is that endangered?

WILL: It's in danger to the extent that progressives set the tone. Progressives like victims. For a long time Israel was David, not Goliath. Now, today, the Palestinians are victims and they're getting the support of -- of the sentimentalism about Israel. Mozart and the orange groves and all that stuff has gone away and it's now a mighty military power with a booming information age economy. It's not as sympathetic as it was.

So part of the generational divide that Rahm is talking about is young progressives who feel none of this attachment to Israel.


WILL: And who look upon Israel as someone who's militarily competent, strong, vibrant society, and they kind of resent it next to the Palestinians.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That is the last word today.

Thank you all very much. Great talk.

Up next, does the government have evidence of alien visitors? We speak to the former Pentagon official who was in charge of tracking UFOs ahead of the government's official report coming next week.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Our UFO experts are next. We'll be right back.



FORMER INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR JOHN RATCLIFFE: We have lots of reports about what we call "unidentified aerial phenomenon." There are a lot more sightings than have been made public. We're talking about objects that have been seen by Navy or Air Force pilots or have been picked up by satellite imagery that frankly engage in actions that are difficult to explain, that -- movements that -- that are hard to replicate, that we don't have the technology for.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Former intelligence director John Ratcliffe speaks out on UFOs ahead of the release of an official government report revealing years of strange encounters between military pilots and unidentified aerial phenomena.

Will it reveal secrets that shake our understanding of our place in the universe?

We'll ask the man who ran the Pentagon program investigating UFOs after this report from Gio Benitez.


GIO BENITEZ, ABC NEWS TRANSPORTATION CORRESPONDENT, VOICEOVER: What you're looking at is now part of a U.S. government examination -- video taken by Navy personnel.

The leaked video was posted online by filmmaker Jeremy Corbell. In a "60 Minutes" report last week, former Navy pilot Ryan Graves said pilots see this all the time.

RYAN GRAVES, "60 MINUTES": Every day. Every day for at least a couple years.

BENITEZ VO: It's just the latest in a string of declassified videos now facing even more public scrutiny. This moment from 2015 -- listen to the Navy pilot.

SOT: My gosh! They're all going against the wind. The wind's 120 knots to the west.

BENITEZ VO: And another, also from 2015, of a fast-moving object over the water.

SOT: Whoaaaa! Got it!

BENITEZ VO: But what exactly is captured on camera?

Next month, U.S. intelligence agencies will deliver a report to Congress that may answer some of the questions, but the Pentagon has declined to discuss details so far.

Former President Obama, joking on "The Late Late Show" that these were among his first questions when he took office.

FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, "THE LATE LATE SHOW": There's footage and records of objects in the skies that we don't know exactly what they are.

BENITEZ VO: And we may never know. But we could also be closer than ever.

For "This Week," Gio Benitez, ABC News, New York.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Gio for that.

Let's bring in our experts.

We're joined by Lue Elizondo, former director of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program at the Department of Defense, and our military analyst Colonel Stephen Ganyard.

And, Mr. Elizondo, let me begin with you.

You -- your program studied the national security implications of unidentified aerial phenomenon. Based on what you know, do you believe these sightings are evidence of alien visitors?


We know that what it -- whatever it is in our skies is real. The question is, what is it? And, of course, that -- you can go down the rabbit hole, or we can look at it from a foreign adversarial perspective.

The bottom line is, we simply don't know. What we know is that these -- whatever these aircraft are, are displaying beyond next-generation capabilities. And I think what's concerning from a national security perspective, they can outperform anything that we have in our inventory.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what do you say to those skeptics, like Mick West, who have posted YouTube videos that they say demonstrate more mundane explanations, things like balloons, drones, even the blinking lights of a 737?

ELIZONDO: Yes, I'd say remain skeptical.

But I would also say that keep in mind that, when we see a video being released online, a lot of times, there's eyewitness testimony coming in from the pilots, who, by the way, are trained observers, who are actually witnessing much more than the maybe five or 10 seconds you see on video.

And then there's also radar data. So, when you -- when you have something like that, obviously, you're dealing with something that's not a -- an effect of or an artifact of the camera. You're dealing with the -- a real object.

And let's not forget that there's other video footage as well that's taken at the same time from different angles. So, I think we have to be very careful coming up with a prosaic explanation without having all the facts in front of us.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Steve, what's your take on this? How should we thinking be about these sightings?

COL. STEVE GANYARD (RET.), ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's intriguing, frankly, George.

I think the Navy -- the Navy videos have some things that we have never seen before, have never been out in the public. Normally, with UFOs, you will see a picture, a grainy picture. You will see a person that's -- these people are easily spoofed.

But, in this case, we have data from three parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. You have four pilots with eyeballs on. You had two separate radars, one in the F-18 and one in the USS Princeton, and you had infrared data, so all roughly correlated

Does that mean that they were UFOs? No, it doesn't. Does it mean that there could be a scientific explanation? Sure it does.

But I do think it raises some compelling questions that ought to be addressed in a scientific and deliberate way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're a former Marine fighter pilot.

I have to ask you, did you ever see anything you couldn't explain?


GANYARD: Not that would be attributable to aliens here.

But I do think that there's -- we need to think about this from a perspective of science and advancing science, George. There's some conspiratorial undertones to all this that I don't think are useful.

I think that anybody that's worked in the U.S. government before knows that the U.S. government is completely incapable of complex conspiracies or keeping sensational secrets.


GANYARD: So, you -- Washington leaks like a sieve. And if there were alien remains somewhere, it would have leaked by now, so point being that "Men in Black" was not a documentary.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's a fair point.

But, Mr. Elizondo, let me ask you, is it fair to say that the government does know a lot more than has been released so far, and should we expect some surprises in the report?

ELIZONDO: Yes, George, that's a great question.

Whether or not we know more, I think what's fair to say is that we have a lot more data. We have a lot more information. And what we need is a robust, enduring capability to collect and analyze that data over time. And then, hopefully, then we can start drawing some conclusions of what these things are.

I agree with the colonel. He's absolutely right. We need to have a very fair-minded, I think, a very purposeful, deliberate scientific approach to this.

And I think it needs to be a whole-of-government approach. I don't think it needs to necessarily be a Department of Defense or intelligence community only-type study. I think we need to include folks like Department of Energy, and FAA, and DHS, academia, and the scientific community.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And finally, Steve -- we only have few seconds left -- but what are the big national security implications if, indeed, we do have evidence that these are alien visitors?

Is there anything we can do about it?

GANYARD: Well, we will see, George.

The U.S. military has its hands full with China and Russia and North Korea and Iran. And if the Congress wants to add the aliens to the threat list, then they have the ability to write the checks and write the statutes to make that happen.

So, we will see how serious Congress is once the report is released.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The report is coming soon.

Thanks very much for your insight. Thanks to both of you.

Up next, Martha Raddatz reports from Newark on police reform, as we approach the anniversary of George Floyd's death.


STEPHANOPOULOS: As the anniversary of George Floyd's murder approaches this week, the push for police reform continues in Washington and around the country. The Minneapolis police are being investigated by the Department of Justice. Dozens of local police departments are already making changes to conform with consent-decrees reached with the DOJ.

Martha Raddatz reports from Newark, New Jersey.


RADDATZ (voice over): Newark community activist Daamin Durden has spent much of the last decade working to improve his city's relationship between police and its Black residents.

RADDATZ (on camera): When you say the police need to understand the community, what haven't they understood?

DAAMIN DURDEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEWARK COMMUNITY STREET TEAM: The historical racism that has taken place in -- through policing.

RADDATZ (voice over): But he thinks there has been progress, helped in part by a legal settlement.

That 2016 consent decree allowed the federal government to mandate reforms for the Newark Police Department after a Department of Justice investigation concluded there was a "pattern" of unconstitutional "stops, searches, arrests" and "unreasonable force" with a "disparate impact on minorities."

Newark Public Safety Director Brian O'Hara has been at the forefront of the department's reform efforts.

BRIAN O'HARA, DIRECTOR, NEWARK DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY: We have a community here with people that have been, you know, demanding change in this city around policing literally for decades. It just gave the city the court backing and the mandate to get this stuff done.

RADDATZ (voice over): One possible sign of progress, Newark Police made it through 2020 without zero shots fired by officers on duty.

RADDATZ (on camera): Is Newark a success story in terms of police reform?

MAYOR RAS BARAKA (D), NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: We're not ready to, you know, stick a -- put a flag in the ground and -- and do a victory lap, but I think we've done tremendous work in the city.

RADDATZ (voice over): But racial disparities in Newark's policing persist, with Black people still accounting for 84 percent of use-of-force incidents in the last year.

RADDATZ (on camera): How does that happen? After -- after these reforms, after years and years?

O'HARA: Yes. I think in a lot of ways police are dealing with the end result of a whole lot of social problems in the city and across the country, right? But it -- it's not an excuse at all. It is --

RADDATZ: Wait, what does that mean, dealing with a whole lot of social problems across the country?

O'HARA: You know, concentration of social disadvantage, you know, historical problems that have been building up for decades.

DURDEN: My experience shows something else that, you know, there's hyper vigilance in our communities and that, you know, we're -- we're actually looked at differently than other communities.

RADDATZ (voice over): O'Hara -- who has worked with Durden over the years, agrees.

O'HARA: I think there's a difference between disparity that is based on those social problems, versus disparity based on what a particular officer may be doing, which is something we have to look for.

RADDATZ: Now, a consent decree could be in store for Minneapolis. The DOJ announced an investigation into its police department a day after former Officer Derek Chauvin's conviction in the murder of George Floyd.

That verdict, while welcomed, still leaves some Newark leaders wary of what comes next.

BARAKA: And what we saw in Minnesota is not something that happens all over the country. Police don't take the stand against other police officers. That -- that just -- that's just not the culture of what's going on. And that has to change.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Martha for that.

On Tuesday night a special "SOUL OF THE NATION" will reflect on the one year anniversary of George Floyd's murder. That airs at 10:00 p.m.

And 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."