A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, July 4, 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.
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This year, America is coming back together.
RADDATZ: The nation celebrates democracy, as the president promotes a return to normalcy. But after falling short of President Biden’s vaccination goal, growing concern about the unvaccinated.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: This virus is an opportunist. And in the areas where we still have rates of low vaccination, the virus is likely to take hold.
RADDATZ: We’re on the road as the administration deploys surge response teams.
(on camera): Are you going to get vaccinated?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably not. Right now, I don’t think I’m at risk for it that much.
RADDATZ: The very latest from White House COVID Response Coordinator Jeff Zients.
The Trump Organization and its CFO charged with a sweeping 15-year criminal scheme.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They’re corrupting and weaponizing the law against their political opponents.
RADDATZ: The question now, is Trump in trouble?
(on camera): Should we be leaving right now? Do you feel comfortable with that?
My exclusive interview with General Austin Scott Miller, as America exits its longest war.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s “This Week.”
Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ: Good morning, and welcome to “This Week,” as we celebrate July 4 weekend, this Independence Day a big step toward a return to normal life for many Americans, as we celebrate this holiday together.
On the National Mall right now, ahead of tonight’s fireworks, thousands expected to come together for an in-person presentation, like so many across the country planning face-to-face celebrations. And holiday travel is surging, with 43 million Americans hitting the roads.
That’s up 5 percent from even before the pandemic, air travel exceeding pre-pandemic levels for the first time on Thursday and again on Friday; 58 percent of adults are now fully vaccinated, and 67 percent have received at least one dose, but that’s still shy of President Biden’s goal for 70 percent of adults to get at least one shot by July 4, a race that’s taking on more urgency as the Delta variant spreads.
So, will that goal ever be met? With the vaccine now readily available, what’s behind that hesitancy? Those questions and more from White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, plus, Rebecca Jarvis standing by with the latest on the economic recovery.
But we begin this morning with our return to West Virginia, once leading the pack in vaccination distribution, a model for the nation, now near the bottom of the pack for fully vaccinated residents. What can their example tell us about the vaccine effort nationwide? We hit the road to find out.
RADDATZ: And, Allie (ph), you are not vaccinated?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not yet.
RADDATZ (voice-over): It’s something we heard over and over and over again.
(on camera): You’re not vaccinated?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
RADDATZ: Why not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don’t know. I just don’t believe in it, I guess.
(on camera): Why not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just — right now, I don’t think I’m at risk for it that much.
RADDATZ (voice-over): As we hit Independence Day, shots in arms are slowing down, and the people most hesitant? Young adults.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have about 15 minutes, OK?
RADDATZ: When we first visited West Virginia last January, at the beginning of the vaccine rollout, it was a success story.
Dr. Sherri Young was overseeing a massive operation atCharleston’s Convention Center. But, today, at this local health department, Young is struggling to even get a handful of people vaccinated.
DR. SHERRI YOUNG, KANAWHA-CHARLESTON HEALTH DEPARTMENT: We were busting out of the seams, so we had to go to the Convention Center across the street, where we did 5,344 on our best day.
RADDATZ (on camera): Yes.
YOUNG: And now we’re back down to doing eight to 10 a day.
RADDATZ: Eight to 10 a day?
RADDATZ: How do you convince those people who aren’t getting it to do it?
YOUNG: Well, any way we can.
RADDATZ (voice-over): Around the country, states are trying to entice residents to get the shots. In Ohio, a new million-dollar winner is announced each week. Out West, millions of vaccinated Californians will be receiving $50 gift cards.
(on camera): And West Virginia is doing everything it can to get people to get vaccinated. They’re offering free hunting licenses, free fishing licenses, free hunting rifles, and even four-year scholarships.
(voice-over): Despite being among the first states to get its older residents vaccinated, Governor Jim Justice is frustrated with the statewide slowdown. Only 46 percent of West Virginians are fully vaccinated.
GOVERNOR JIM JUSTICE, (R-WV): The young people, we’re having a hard time getting them across the finish line and getting them vaccinated.
RADDATZ: So it’s the old, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink, right? I mean, you provided the vaccine and yet —
JUSTICE: But maybe what you got to do is lead them to water and then if they won’t drink, you got to just some way stand up and push their head down to some way at least a few will drink.
RADDATZ (voice over): Nationally 67 percent of adults have received one dose, still shy of the Biden administration’s 70 percent goal by the fourth of July. But that percent plummets with age. Only 39.5 percent of people between 18 and 24 years old are fully vaccinated. And among those not vaccinated, 74 percent, up from 55 percent in April, say they probably or definitely won’t get a shot.
RADDATZ: Let’s go back to who’s not getting vaccinated. The statistics will show it’s poverty, race and you just look at the map, it’s a lot of red states.
JUSTICE: Well, I mean, there’s some truth to that and everything because the red states probably have a lot of people that are very, very conservative in their thinking and they think, well, I don’t have to do that. But they’re not thinking right. When it really boils right down to it, they’re in a lottery to themselves. You know, we have a lottery that basically says, if you’re vaccinated, we’re going to give you stuff. Well, you’ve got another lottery going on and it’s the death lottery.
RADDATZ (voice over): This past week the highly contagious Delta variant now reported in every state. In West Virginia those cases have quadrupled in the last few days. The governor tells me he’s scared to death about that growth rate.
RADDATZ: Do you really think those people who aren’t vaccinated, who as you said may be more conservative, may not want anybody in their business, are really ever going to get vaccinated? What could actually put them over the edge to want it at this point?
JUSTICE: Well, Martha, I hate to say this but what would put them over the edge is an awful lot of people die. The only way that’s really going to happen is a catastrophe that none of us of want. And so we just got to keep trying though.
RADDATZ (voice over): And there is a glimmer of hope in West Virginia. Twenty year old Ali Kirk (ph) was reluctant to get the shot —
UNKNOWN: Yes, we’ll go this way.
RADDATZ (voice over): — but while we were there, walked into her local drugstore and finally did it.
UNKNOWN: Yes. I’m here to get the vaccine.
RADDATZ: What changed your mind?
UNKNOWN: Well, a lot of my friends started getting it. My parents are vaccinated. I felt a lot more comfortable with it. I did research on my own and I felt that it was time for me to get it. I was ready. I’m ready to move past COVID and get on with life, back to normal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Despite falling short of President Biden’s goal to vaccinate 70 percent of adults by July 4th, this weekend the White House is celebrating progress in the fight against the pandemic.
Here to discuss White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients. Good morning, Mr. Zients.
The administration clearly has much to be proud of this July 4th, but you did miss that goal, largely because of young people. What was the miscalculation there?
JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Well, I think, first of all, we do have a lot to celebrate. We are much further along than I think anyone anticipated in this fight against the pandemic.
Two out of three adult Americans, those over 18, have received at least their first dose of the vaccination. Importantly close to 90 percent of people 65 and older have received at least one dose, and about 80 percent are fully vaccinated. That’s so important because they were the most vulnerable during the pandemic, during the earlier stages of the pandemic before the vaccinations. They accounted for 80 percent of COVID deaths.
You’re right. Younger people, particularly those in their 20s, have felt less vulnerable to the disease and, therefore, less eager to get shots. They were made eligible later so they have not been eligible as long and we continue to see hundreds of thousands of young people vaccinated each week.
But we need to continue to vaccinate everyone, particularly young people, because what we know is if you are vaccinated you’re protected. And if you’re not vaccinated, you’re not protected. And that’s particularly important for everyone, including young people, in light of the Delta variant.
RADDATZ: But, Mr. Zients —
ZIENTS: — will go to ask questions and get vaccines.
RADDATZ: Mr. Zients, but you look at those states which are falling way behind in vaccinations. The doctor we talked to in West Virginia, the governor, our polls even show that 74 percent of those people will probably not or definitely won’t get a shot.
So, what does it mean for getting rid of the virus nationwide? Will — will it continue to be with us indefinitely?
ZIENTS: Well, if you are not vaccinated, you’re vulnerable. You’re not protected. And we are seeing increases in cases in those areas in the country where there’s lower vaccination rates. So, it’s really important that people get vaccinated.
The good news is confidence in the vaccine, those saying they’re willing to get vaccinated, has increased across time as more and more people know people who’ve been vaccinated and can see the benefits of being vaccinated.
So, we’ll continue to make it even easier to get vaccinated, answer people’s questions. It’s free. It’s convenient. Most pharmacies which are within five miles, 90 percent of Americans, have no appointment walk-up vaccinations.
We’ll continue to deploy mobile clinics to bring vaccinations to where people are. And as I said earlier are increasingly available —
RADDATZ: But what does it mean if they don’t?
ZIENTS: — physician’s (ph) offices, doctor’s offices.
RADDATZ: We know it’s easy to get.
ZIENTS: If we don’t get —
RADDATZ: But what does it mean for the nation if we have all these unvaccinated people who say they’re just not going to get it?
ZIENTS: Well, we are — we are vaccinating millions of Americans each week. And we’re going to continue to do that. We’re going to continue to drive up the vaccination rate and we’re optimistic that more and more people will get vaccinated.
If you’re vaccinated, you’re protected. If you’re not vaccinated, you’re not protected. And you’re putting yourself at risk and your loved ones and those around you at risk.
So, the important thing is for people to get vaccinated as soon as possible. When you’re not vaccinated, you need to wear a mask and take these public safety precautions and get vaccinated as soon as possible.
RADDATZ: And, Mr. Zients, there seems to be mixed messaging going on here. The president says he’s concerned about the highly contagious delta variant which is contributing to about a 10 percent rise in cases from last week, and yet today, about a thousand people are coming to the White House for a Fourth of July celebration.
Now, I assume they’re taking precautions. But is having large crowds gather really the right message right now?
ZIENTS: Well, we’ve made a lot of progress as a country, as I said earlier. We are much further along than anyone anticipated, with two out of three adult Americans already having received their first dose. That is worthy of celebration.
And the event at the White House is being done in the right way. It’s an outdoor event with testing and screening. Vaccinated people are not wearing masks. Unvaccinated people masked. So, it’s being done in the right way, consistent with CDC guidelines.
That said, we are doubling down on our efforts. Across the summer months, we will vaccinate millions more people because you need to get vaccinated to be protected against the delta variant, and against this disease overall.
RADDATZ: Thanks so much, Mr. Zients. Happy Fourth.
ZIENTS: And thank you, Martha. Happy Fourth.
And, please, if you’re not vaccinated, begin your vaccination routine as soon as possible.
RADDATZ: Another milestone this weekend, the U.S. posting strong job growth, 850,000 added jobs in June, the most in ten months. And this morning, our new ABC News/”Washington Post” poll finding half of Americans approve of President Biden’s job performance.
Biden crediting his COVID relief bill for fueling the growth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: None of this happened by accident. Again, it’s a direct result of the American Rescue Plan. Our economy is on the move and we have COVID-19 on the run.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Here to discuss is our chief business and economics correspondent, Rebecca Jarvis.
Good morning, Rebecca.
Friday’s job report showed strong numbers, over 100,000 more than expected in June. And you heard President Biden just say this is a direct result of his COVID relief plan. How much do you think that contributed and what do the numbers tell us about the economy overall?
REBECCA JARVIS, ABC NEWS CHIEF BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Martha.
Well, forecasters have consistently predicted a strong rebound around the re-opening. The key question was what fundamental damage would the pandemic leave behind, how many businesses would go out of business, how many consumers would have to suffer as a result of the pandemic?
And it seems clear that a lot of the stimulus, the multiple rounds of it have kept many businesses still operating and many consumers from having to file for personal bankruptcy, missing their bills, getting kicked out of their homes. That’s the good news.
And consumers, by the way, are sitting now on a trillion dollars in cash as a result of not spending a lot during the pandemic and also those multiple rounds of stimulus checks. That’s a lot of buying power, which is great news for the economy.
The key question now is, not are the jobs there, is it, are the workers there to take them? Of the 22 million jobs that were lost during the pandemic, about 16 million, a few — a little bit fewer than 16 million people have gone back to work.
And, Martha, the key question for the economy going forward is, how long is it going to take to bring all of those people back into the workforce and into jobs, Martha?
RADDATZ: And, Rebecca, many companies are still dealing with supply issues because of the pandemic causing shortages. And, at the same time, consumers are in a rush to spend their pandemic savings. This is already sparking concerns over holiday shopping. And I’m talking about Christmas. What’s the outlook?
JARVIS: Yes. And there are a lot of stores that are concerned now. Big, big retailers that are concerned about whether they’re going to be able to get the very items that people will be ordering over the Christmas holiday season. You’ve already seen it if you ordered anything over the last handful of months, it takes a longer time in many cases to get those packages delivered.
And this question about the supply shortage, coupled with the fact that you have people perhaps not going back to work who could be, that’s a key question for the economy going forward because as long as people who might be able to work aren’t working and demanding, at the same time, buying more things with their money, and the supplies aren’t coming through, that creates a major disruption for the economy.
And, Martha, right now, when people want to spend money, you want to have the supplies there available to meet them. You hate to see the stores, as you pass them on the street, who say, sorry, we have to be closed today because we don’t have the workers who are available to serve you.
RADDATZ: We certainly don’t want to see that.
Thanks so much, Rebecca.
Coming up, criminal charges against the Trump Organization and its top money man. What will it mean for the former president and his family and what more do New York prosecutors have in store?
And up next, my exclusive reporting from Afghanistan as the U.S. troop withdrawal marks a major milestone. But will pulling our troops lead to civil war there?
That and more as our special coverage continues this morning. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Can you talk to us about Afghanistan? Is the drawdown going to be done in the next few days?
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: No.
BIDEN: No. We’re on — we’re on track exactly as to where we expected to be.
QUESTION: Are you worried that the Afghan government might fall?
BIDEN: I think they have the capacity to be able to sustain the government.
QUESTION: … on Afghanistan…
BIDEN: I want to talk about happy things, man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: President Biden chafing after questions on the drawdown of troops from America’s longest war. This week, after nearly two decades, four presidents, $2 trillion and the loss of more than 2,300 American lives, the U.S. moved up the timeline to end its major military commitment to Afghanistan, now set for late August, and turned over Bagram Air Base to Afghan forces, a huge milestone, and for many a worrisome one.
Over the past 20 years, I have made countless trips to Afghanistan, and last week was the only reporter there as the commanding general made his last trip to Bagram to watch the final preparations for withdrawal.
RADDATZ (voice over): General Scott Miller was in Afghanistan at the beginning of the war and is here for the end.
Flying low over Bagram, where more than 30,000 troops were once housed, the fighter and attack jets now gone, the base all but abandoned.
General Miller, who has spent nine years of his life deployed as a special operations officer, never imagined he would oversee the withdrawal of America’s troops.
GEN. AUSTIN SCOTT MILLER, COMMANDER, NATO RESOLUTE SUPPORT MISSION: Well, as you watch this, it certainly is a flash of memories and reminders of coming through Afghanistan over the years.
RADDATZ: The history on this base is staggering. Countless missions were launched from this airfield and countless wounded were Medevaced here. It was Bagram where Osama bin Laden’s body was flown after the raid into Pakistan.
I watched it all up close over these decades, from Bagram to remote outposts, the triumphs and the heartbreaking loss.
John Campbell, always with the cards he carried to remember each soldier killed in battle.
(on camera): What do you think about those soldiers?
CAMPBELL: Yeah, I mean, I think about them every day.
RADDATZ (voice over): General David Petraeus, after nearly a decade of war.
(on camera): Your thoughts on the anniversary of — of 9/11, nine years of war?
(voice over): And taking off from this very base on an F-15 combat mission.
(on camera): We are upside down…
… over the mountains.
(voice over): But after all these years, all these missions, the Taliban is once again gaining strength, as Afghan forces surrender or are massacred through districts across the country.
(on camera): The majority of the districts that have been taken are many, many miles from here in Kabul. But the big question is what happens here when all of the U.S. forces leave Afghanistan?
(voice over): We traveled to the outskirts of Kabul, to the home of a Taliban elder, a senior leader when the Taliban was in charge of this country.
(on camera): The Taliban is taking over many districts across Afghanistan. Will they eventually come here to Kabul?
UNKNOWN: (SPEAKING IN ARABIC)
RADDATZ (voice over): “There is no doubt,” says the Taliban elder.
And that is a clear concern for General Miller.
(on camera): What’s happening right now, and how alarmed are you?
MILLER: We should be concerned. The loss of terrain and the rapidity of that loss of terrain has — has to be concerning, one, because it’s a — war is physical, but it’s also got a psychological or moral component to it. And hope actually matters. And morale actually matters.
And so, as you watch the Taliban moving across the country, what you don’t want to have happen is that the people lose hope and they believe they now have a foregone conclusion presented to them.
RADDATZ (voice over): And for those who worked for the Americans, the fear is overwhelming.
(on camera): You’re hiding?
UNKNOWN: I’m hiding right now in here.
RADDATZ (voice over): Abdul will only use his first name, an interpreter and father of three living in fear of a Taliban resurgence.
(UNKNOWN): If they take over of Kabul, then they will come and they — they will behead us all. They will kill us.
RADDATZ: The U.S. is trying to get the interpreters out of the country, but some Afghans are determined to stay.
KAMILA SIDIQI, BUSINESS OWNER AND ACTIVIST: This is the time to be here in Afghanistan. And Afghanistan needs us.
RADDATZ: Kamila Sidiqi is a business owner and economic and women’s activist.
SIDIQI: A lot of people just die. And there’s a lot of bomb blasting and suicide. And there’s no safety anywhere, not in Kabul and not in any province of Afghanistan.
RADDATZ: Though her husband and children are now in London, she is not leaving.
For Scott Miller, the thought of Afghan partners fending for themselves is painful and personal.
(on camera): It has to be heartbreaking for you leaving them behind and fearing what might come next.
MILLER: I don’t like leaving friends in need. And I know that my friends are in need.
RADDATZ: There will be U.S. economic and security assistance. But without the U.S. military, the general is still worried.
MILLER: You look at the security situation, it’s not good. The Afghans recognize it’s not good. The Taliban are on the move. We’re starting to create conditions here that won’t look good for Afghanistan in the future if there’s a push for a military takeover.
RADDATZ (voice-over): Senior military leaders had advised the president that a contingent of around 2,500 troops should remain in Afghanistan. Miller will not say what his advice was.
(on camera): Would you have liked to have seen a small force stay here?
MILLER: The — let me hold on that one.
RADDATZ (voice-over): But very much on his mind, what happened when all U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq and then ISIS moved in.
(on camera): I want to just go back to the Iraq — do you think about Iraq when we’re leaving here and what happened in Iraq when we left?
MILLER: Oh, absolutely. I mean, that’s — that’s on everybody’s mind. It’s — again, these are judgments that we have to make, balanced against our national interests.
RADDATZ (voice-over): Whatever happens here in the future, says the general, does not take away from the accomplishments of those who served, but says there are lessons that should be learned.
(on camera): How do you think this war will be remembered?
MILLER: I would like as not to just turn our backs on this. I think there are tremendous lessons. And they’re not all positives. And there’s victories as well. So we can celebrate those. But good organizations really learn from those things that didn’t go as well as they wanted to.
An honest self-reflection, that’s going to be important going forward.
RADDATZ: Indeed, it is.
For more now on U.S. troop withdrawal, let’s bring in someone who has spent 15 years reporting on Afghanistan, especially the plight of women there, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana.”
Good to see you, Gayle.
I have heard general after general, as you have, say, just give us a little more time. Politicians say it as well. And yet you cannot call this a successful effort, given what’s going on with the Taliban.
So, when you look at it, why isn’t Biden right just pulling out those troops?
GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS ADJUNCT SENIOR FELLOW: Afghanistan has always been a story of dark clouds and green shoots. And they have lived right alongside each other.
And what you saw depended on where you sat. And I think that the moment now is not about the military piece. The moment now is about, what is the political future, what’s going to happen in terms of economic development and aid, and how do you keep people safe who have supported the United States for the past 19 years?
RADDATZ: General Miller told me he didn’t think the Taliban have changed. We’re negotiating with the Taliban right now, but he doesn’t think they have really changed from 1996 to 2021.
So how do you negotiate with them, when they’re taking over the country?
LEMMON: So, Afghanistan 2021 is not Afghanistan 1996, when the Taliban swept Kabul. And Kabul is a very different place in a rapidly urbanizing country.
Think about this. Two-thirds of the country is 25 and under. They don’t even remember the Taliban last time around. And the question is, how do you protect the gains made by young people who have fought every single day for a brighter future?
RADDATZ: And I know you have been in communication with Afghan women, and often are.
What are you hearing? Senator Jeanne Shaheen says she wants some sort of law helping women over there. Can we really do that? How much influence do we really have at this point?
LEMMON: Yes, I mean, the U.S. has leverage. First of all, it’s the United States. There is diplomatic leverage. There has to be a push. There has to be a push with Ghani. And there has to be a push for a conversation that includes the discussion of what happens with women, right, that aid going forward in the future has to have some relevance to that.
Secondly, think about what’s happened. Herat University is 51 percent female, right? They — most of the people applying for Herat University are women. You have this whole generation that it looks very different.
Has the Taliban changed? Most people living under Taliban rule say, no, it hasn’t. But there’s no question that it understands the environment it’s coming back into is very different than the one it left when it left power.
And it — while it might have technicals and technical vehicles, it doesn’t have technocrats. And it knows it needs engineers, doctors and all of that to govern.
So, yes, the U.S. has leverage.
RADDATZ: Well, we hope they have a bright future, but very concerned still.
Always great to talk to you, Gayle.
LEMMON: Great to be with you.
RADDATZ: Up next, the roundtable takes on possible legal jeopardy for former President Trump.
Plus, the fallout after the consequential Supreme Court’s decision upholding two restrictive voting laws in Arizona.
Stay with us. Our special coverage “Celebrating Independence” continues in a moment.
RADDATZ: The roundtable is all here ready to go. We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The radical left continues to search for a crime and wreck lives, break laws, violate every principle of justice, fairness and liberty. You see it. you see it on a constant basis. It’s really called prosecutorial misconduct.
You didn’t pay tax on the car or a company apartment or education for your grandchildren. I don’t even know, do you have to — does anybody know the answer to that stuff?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Former President Trump sounding off last night after prosecutors in New York indicted the Trump Organization and its CFO on tax fraud charges.
Here to discuss that and much more, “Time” national political correspondent Molly Ball, ABC News deputy political director Averi Harper, “Washington Post” national correspondent Mary Jordan, and ABC News contributor LZ Granderson, host of ABC’s “Life Out Loud” podcast.
Great to see all of you on this Fourth of July and thanks for coming in.
The case against the Trump Organization and its CFO, President Trump was not himself charged, but this is his namesake company. How big of a deal is this?
HARPER: Well, listen, the investigation is ongoing in New York state’s attorney general’s office and the Manhattan D.A.’s office. And so if there’s any evidence that surface — that surfaces that implicates the president, he could be in legal jeopardy.
And, look, Allen Weisselberg is facing 15 felonies. And so we don’t know what he’s going to do. We know that he’s — that the former president spoke with John Santucci, our John Santucci, earlier this week and he said he didn’t believe that Weisselberg would flip on him.
But, listen, time will tell.
RADDATZ: And, Molly, the former president has, you heard, blasted the charges as partisan. No surprise there. But do you think he’s at all worried — I was also fascinated by what he said there. It’s almost as if he admitted that all really happened, that they didn’t play taxes.
BALL: Well, and you see him trying to run the same playbook that he did for the scandal that beset him during his administration, right, portray it as a partisan witch hunt and then basically, in a way, admit to things while — while claiming that they’re all OK, they’re all normal, these are all regular ways of doing business, that anyone would be perplexed by the kinds of things being charged by the prosecutors.
The question is, does that hit the same when you’re not president anymore? When you’re just a guy throwing a rally and you don’t even have a Twitter account, does it have the same resonance? Does it affect the course of events? And I think what he’s going to find is the prosecutors in New York are relatively immune to that kind of pressure. And so the question will be, you know, does it — does that have any effect or does — is he going to have to mount some more formal defense?
RADDATZ: And, Mary, what’s also notable in this is what wasn’t on the indictment. Nothing on the alleged hush money paid to Stormy Daniels or inflating assets, as Michael Cohen testified before Congress. Do you think those charges are still possible?
JORDAN: Well, as several people have said, this is the first series of indictments. There’s much more to come they think.
But also people are worried. Like, this is all they have? They’ve been talking to Michael Cohen, his fixer and lawyer, for a long time, the prosecutors. Now they’re trying to get another person who has been on the inside for five decades. Clearly the feeling is that they want more to get this guy.
I mean, he has been Houdini. He, you know, he beat impeachment twice. It’s been very hard to get him. And it’s — but it is really interesting that now he’s not saying he didn’t do this, he’s just saying, hey, it’s not murder.
RADDATZ: Yes. That’s exactly right.
LZ, former President Trump is still teasing a comeback, of course, running again in 2024. Do you think that’s something the Republican Party would welcome?
GRANDERSON: It seems so because they’re still willing to follow his lead in a lot of areas. I mean if you think about all of the bills that are being passed across the country right now in terms of, you know, voter registration and voter restrictions, they are all based upon the lie that came from Trump, who’s the original source of all of this. So I think there’s legislature proof that, yes, they’re still willing to follow his lead despite the fact that he has these allegations surrounding him.
RADDATZ: You don’t think there’s anything behind the scenes there, Republicans saying, we’ve got to follow him now, but, shew (ph), hopefully he won’t run?
GRANDERSON: I mean they’ve been saying that for five years, we’ve got to follow him now. They’ve just been following him.
RADDATZ: Yes. OK.
And on the January 6th committee, Averi, this week the House voted to establish a select committee to investigate the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. Two Republicans — just two Republicans — voted for it. And Speaker Pelosi tapped one of them, Liz Cheney, to serve on the committee.
So can this kind of committee really get to the bottom of this?
HARPER: Well, listen, I think the — the folks who have been appointed to that committee are certainly going to try.
And it was really important for Speaker Pelosi to — to nominate and to appoint Liz Cheney to that position. Because, regardless of what the minority leader Kevin McCarthy does, whether he decides he’s going to put some far-right or Trump loyalists onto that committee, or he decides not to put any Republicans up for that committee at all, there is going to be a bipartisan group of lawmakers trying to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6th.
RADDATZ: And — and, Molly, Republicans are already blasting this as partisan. How will it work for them? How does Kevin McCarthy choose people to be on the committee?
BALL: Well, the ball is really in Kevin McCarthy’s court. And he has repeatedly declined to say whether he’s going to appoint anyone to this committee at all.
The feeling on Capitol Hill is that he probably will. But then, will those people see their role primarily as undermining the committee, as trying to prevent it from going to certain places, particularly as it looks to former President Trump’s role in the events of January 6th?
Because that is really the, sort of, red-hot center of all of the controversy surrounding this committee.
So, you know, what — it’s less about what it will find, I think, since there are, as Republicans have repeatedly said, so many other agencies and — and law enforcement jurisdictions looking at what happened, unearthing the evidence, charging individuals.
It’s more about, as the 9/11 Commission did, bringing all that evidence together to create a shared understanding, a shared narrative that Americans can use to understand.
And so, you know, the Republicans don’t want to be part of that process. And they have succeeded, I think, in large part in preventing there from being a sort of bipartisan, shared American understanding of this traumatic event. So I don’t know how successful the committee can be, going forward, in that circumstance.
RADDATZ: And, LZ, what do you — what do you think the committee can accomplish, and particularly the racism that was evident on January 6th?
I was up there, lots of white supremacists, lots of Confederate flags. How do you think this will play out?
GRANDERSON: You know, I think this committee serves two purposes. One, obviously, is to get to the bottom of what happened. But then the other is also to send a clear message to people who are thinking, or who may be on the fence in terms of where they want to pledge their allegiances.
You know, where I grew up in Detroit, we had this phrase, “You don’t want that smoke.”
And basically what that means is, there might be trouble that you might talk a good game about, but when real pressure comes and real accountability is being held, people who really aren’t fully committed to a certain cause may begin to back down. So hopefully, just the presence of this committee at least gives people who don’t want that smoke, who like talking and tweeting but won’t do things that are dangerous and impact the larger society.
RADDATZ: And, Mary, how do you think this will impact the midterms?
Before voting down that 9/11-style independent commission, several Republicans said they were really worried about this dragging into 2022?
JORDAN: I think all this is, it’s all about the midterms. It’s crucial. Kevin McCarthy could become the House speaker if they gain back — you know, it doesn’t — not going to take too many seats.
And what they don’t want, what the Republicans don’t want is, you know, you can imagine all the TV clips of a police officer talking about what happened, that he couldn’t get back-up, that it was right from the top, from the president down.
So I think that the — eventually, the truth will be known. But right now, there’s a lot of Republicans who are trying to put the brakes on it because of the midterms.
RADDATZ: And — and, Averi, I want to turn to the Supreme Court and the voting rights ruling in this case out of Arizona. Explain the case and — and what you think this will mean.
HARPER: Well, it was a 6-3 decision on ideological lines to uphold voting restrictions in Arizona that Democrats and voting advocates call discriminatory on the basis of race.
And because of this decision, it’s going to deal a blow to that fight against what voting advocates would call voter suppression in — in Republican-led states across the country.
And the fact is that the American people are not on the side of the Republican lawmakers in some of these states. Two to one, if you look at the ABC/Washington Post poll, you see that Americans believe that it is more important to have voting laws that make it easier to vote lawfully than laws that make it harder to vote fraudulently.
RADDATZ: And — and, particularly in Georgia, there — everyone’s looking at Georgia right now, Molly?
BALL: That’s right, although this is, you know, all over the country, that these kinds of laws are being considered and passed.
And, frankly, the sort of Democratic establishment is concerned that they have not effectively countered this push, whether you’re talking about in Congress, where the big what they call democracy reform bill went down, or whether you’re talking about in the states, where I think this case, more than anything, sent a clear signal about how the Supreme Court is going to look at the Democratic attempts to litigate these laws, the lawsuits that are being brought in various states.
And, in Georgia, you have the Justice Department involved. That, of course, makes it a different story than simply a lawsuit. But, even there, you have to wonder about how the courts are going to look at attempts to combat these laws using the legal system.
And so, if it’s not going to happen on Capitol Hill, if it’s not going to happen in the courts, then it has to happen in the political process. And it’s going to be about you, as Averi is saying, using the fact that these laws are unpopular to try to motivate Democratic voters.
RADDATZ: And, exactly — L.Z., as Averi pointed out and Molly pointed out, not exactly in line with public opinion.
GRANDERSON: No, of course not. But they don’t really care about public opinion, right? If they did, then all of this legislation, we would be looking at differently.
The thing that really frustrates me most is that the justices acknowledged that these new laws does impact minorities. They didn’t deny that aspect of it. They just say that the inconvenience of it isn’t so great.
Well, they’re all privileged. And I grew up poor. I remember my mom scraping together 50 cents, 75 cents, $1 just for gas money to get to the grocery store. When you do that to polling places, now you’re forcing minorities to decide whether or not they’re going to invest money, gas money, to get to the polling places that are now further away, or do I use this gas money to get to the grocery store, or do I get to work?
They’re privileged, saying that this doesn’t inconvenience them enough. Well, how do you know? When was the last time you were that poor?
JORDAN: I’d like to talk about — I went down to Mississippi, and I saw this.
And on the morning of the election, people would turn out, and the polling place would be closed in the place where there are a lot of Democratic voters. And so the question then was, OK, do I drive? Do I spend another 45 minutes in the car to go there and then wait in a really long line?
There’s all kinds of dirty tricks being played about closing polls, switching where you’re supposed to be, telling people they’re in the wrong place, even if they’re in the right place.
I think if people really knew what was going on, because it differs state by state and county by county, they would think, you know what, it’s July 4 here. It’s all about voting, right? It’s the most fundamental of rights. We had the Boston Tea Party because we couldn’t vote and we were getting taxed.
And it’s kind of shocking that, right now, a lot of people don’t have the same access to votes as other Americans.
RADDATZ: But we certainly, Molly, wouldn’t be shocked by the Supreme Court decision and the direction it went
BALL: No, I don’t think so, I mean, I think, given that the way — the way the court is composed.
And what you hear from a lot of conservatives, too, is that this decision was rather limited. It applied to a couple of specific situations, to specifically votes in the wrong precinct and ballot harvesting. It wasn’t about closing polling places or a lot of the other things that have been alleged.
So, in some quarters on the right, there’s a feeling that the Democrats are sort of hyperventilating about this. But it obviously has implications for so many other cases that are being brought and so many other laws that are being litigated across the country.
RADDATZ: And, Averi, speaking of Democrats, does this up the pressure on moderate Democrats like Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema to push harder for new voting legislation, or what?
HARPER: Well, listen, this is definitely going to revive the conversation around eliminating the filibuster.
And for those Democrats who’ve been wary of filibuster reform, this is going to be a confrontation to them. They’re going to have to square their defense of a legislative body with the protection of voting rights for American voters, who are really at the heart of the democracy that they say they hold dear.
RADDATZ: OK. We are going to have much more with all of you guys on the roundtable.
We will be right back. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUBTITLE: Donald Rumsfeld served as defense secretary under which two presidents?
Gerald Ford and George W. Bush.
GERALD FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT: I intend to nominate Donald Rumsfeld as my new secretary of defense.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDNET: Today, it is my honor to announce that I’m submitting the name of Donald Rumsfeld to be secretary of defense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: And we wanted to get a few final thoughts on this Independence Day from our roundtable.
And, LZ, I want to start with you.
This is a day of celebrating our nation’s independence. We’ve come so far since a little more than a year ago. A quick assessment, though, of where you see us as a nation today, a divided nation still.
GRANDERSON: I think about the more than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been introduced this year alone. Many of them targeting transgender youth, children.
So, I feel as long as we have elected officials who are willing to use children as political pawns to gain points, who are willing to use the country’s most vulnerable to gain points, we’ll always have this division. That’s where we need to start addressing that.
JORDAN: I think that — people need to remember that what’s throwing gasoline on the fire for those who are angry at each other and angry at the government is income inequality. The rich are getting richer and there’s more homeless. And when you have 100 — 50 of the richest people have as much wealth as 165 million Americans, people think it’s unfair. And I think that restoring what America was, that it was a magnet for the ambitious, I think that would go a long way to mitigating some of the divisions.
BALL: Well, you know, I think divided we stand, right? We are a very divided country and people are real mad at each other still. You see that. You can’t hardly walk down the street without seeing that.
But we are still standing. We have come through on —
RADDATZ: We have been divided before.
BALL: We have been divided before. Hopefully it doesn’t result in an actual civil war this time, although, unfortunately, some people talk about that.
But I think, you know, this is a moment to look back on the year that we’ve had, the year and a half that we’ve had, and say, we can come together physically and maybe we can also come together politically. Maybe that’s an insane, naive, pie in the sky, optimistic thing to think, but maybe it is possible now that things seem to be getting better.
RADDATZ: I’m all for optimism today as well.
And, Averi, I just want some final thoughts from you. You cover The Hill. You cover politics every single day of your life. You’ve seen this division up close. Are you optimistic?
Averi Harper, ABC News Deputy Political Director: Well, look, I think the work of striving for a more perfect union, that work remains unfinished. And because of that, despite the divisions, think that anything is possible.
RADDATZ: And, Mary, just some very quick thoughts, because you have travelled the world. You have lived around the world. I just did a very whirlwind trip myself. You look at the world. You look at us.
JORDAN: What made us different was that we made everyone feel equal, whether it was vote, whether it was your ability to make money and move up and social mobility, and I just think that we need to go back to the basics. You know, 1776, this was it, we were going to be different than everybody else. Everybody was going to be equal. And when we do that, we’ll be fine.
RADDATZ: OK. Thanks so much, Mary.
Thanks to all of you for joining us here at the roundtable.
That’s all for us today.
Before we go, as many of you prepare to join friends, neighbors, family and other loved ones today for parades and festivities, we waited well over a year to share, I hope you’ll pause for a moment to saver savor the incredible progress we’ve made to defeat COVID-19, independence for the vaccinated as a whole new meaning today.
Please stay safe and have a Happy Fourth of July.