‘This Week’ Transcript 2-6-22: White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan & Rep. Michael McCaul

A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, February 6, 2022 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.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC “THIS WEEK” CO-ANCHOR (voice-over): Stunning rebuke.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election.

RADDATZ: Mike Pence breaks with Donald Trump, as the GOP censures two of their own for investigating January 6, seemingly suggesting the events of that day were legitimate political discourse.

And Trump’s big lie chips away at the guardrails of democracy.

(on camera): You believe the election was stolen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe the election was rigged.

RADDATZ (voice-over): We’re back on the road with candidates who hope to have a big say in national results.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the clear things that they’re trying to do is have loyalists in all these offices.

RADDATZ: All the fallout, with new reporting from our Jonathan Karl, plus Chris Christie and Sarah Isgur on the fracture within the GOP.

Show of force.

JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: This is not the sum total of the deterrence actions we will take.

RADDATZ: Three thousand U.S. troops now en route to Eastern Europe, as ABC News learns new details about Putin’s plans for a possible invasion.

The latest with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCaul.


ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s “This Week.”

Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.

RADDATZ: Good morning, and welcome to “This Week.”

Regardless of your personal ideology, it was an extraordinary moment in political history. Long-simmering divisions over the future of the Republican Party burst open Friday, fueled by Donald Trump’s repeated lie over the 2020 election and the mob that descended on the Capitol 13 months ago today.

A party that once denounced acts of violence on January 6 now turned on its own, as the Republican National Committee formally censured lawmakers Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for investigating the assault on the nation’s Capitol, an event the RNC suggested was legitimate political discourse.

Donald Trump’s transformation of the Republican Party is undeniable, which is what made what happened just hours after that RNC vote all the more extraordinary.

After years of fierce loyalty amid relentless pressure from his old boss to overturn the 2020 election results, Mike Pence unleashed a stunning rebuke of Donald Trump by name.


PENCE: I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to overturn the election.

But President Trump is wrong. There is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.


RADDATZ: And joining us now to make sense of this key moment in our political discourse, chief Washington correspondent Jon Karl, Chris Christie, former Republican governor of New Jersey, and Sarah Isgur, a veteran of the Trump Justice Department, now an ABC News analyst.

And, Jon, I want to start with you.

That was a pretty stunning moment, to see Mike Pence up there, his most forceful rebuke of Donald Trump.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT AND ABC “THIS WEEK” CO-ANCHOR: Well, it’s striking to see Mike Pence, the ultimate loyalist, come out and say the words “Donald Trump is wrong,” although that is precisely what his actions did a year ago on January 6, when he came out and he defied Trump.

And he acted with genuine bravery on that day, Martha. I mean, not only did he really protect us from a much deeper constitutional crisis if he had tried to follow Trump’s orders — so, really, he just refused to break the law. But, if he had done it, it’s unclear what would have happened. And he didn’t even leave the Capitol as the Congress — as that building came under assault by the mob.

But Pence has been oddly silent since then. He gave one speech last summer at the Reagan Library, where he said he was proud of what he did. But he also compared Trump to Reagan. And then he gave an interview to Sean Hannity months ago where he said it was just one day in January, January 6.

So, he has a choice to make. Where does he stand? Does he think Trump is like Reagan, that was one day, or is he going to join an effort to excise Donald Trump and his influence from the Republican Party, because, as he said, the actions were un-American and a threat to our republic?

So, what do you do? Where does he really stand?

RADDATZ: So, Chris Christie, you can answer that question.

Where does he really stand? And why now? Why did he do it now?

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, Martha, I think that the actions the vice president took on January 6 spoke loudly.

And I’m glad he’s finally put words to it. I don’t know why it took him so long, but I’m glad that he did.

And let’s face it, let’s call this what it is, January 6th was a riot that was incited by Donald Trump in an effort to intimidate Mike Pence and the Congress into doing exactly what he said in his own words last week, overturn the election.

Now, he’s tried to do a cleanup on aisle one here in correcting that stuff, but it’s not going to change. He actually told the truth by accident. He wanted the election to be overturned.

Donald Trump did respond to what the vice president said. And I think it’s kind of akin to the kid standing in the corner holding his breath. You know, it’s immature and it’s beneath the office that he held.

RADDATZ: And Sarah, Mike Pence made those comments down in Florida, not in Salt Lake City where the RNC had just censured Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Talk about that resolution and calling the investigation of January 6th the persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse. Ordinary citizens, what does that tell you about the Republican Party right now?

SARAH ISGUR, DISPATCH STAFF WRITER AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there’s definitely a fracture going on in the Republican Party, obviously. You have Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, hoping to become the Senate majority leader after 2022, signaling to Republican candidates across the country earlier last week that don’t question the results of an election unless the court has found there’s been fraud or some sort of malfeasance with the election. There hasn’t been. Don’t focus on that.

And then you have the RNC in Salt Lake City releasing the statement that you read. In talking to senior staff at the Republican National Committee, they felt almost blind sighted by the attention it’s gotten. As they would explain it, they had members of the 168 voting members of the Republican National Committee who received subpoenas from the January 6th Committee. They felt like this was a resolution referencing that. They weren’t there at the Capitol that day, they say.

And so, they were expecting the blow back from the censure of Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney. But they seemed unaware that that line, the legitimate political discourse would receive the kind of attention it’s receiving. They, of course, feel like they’ve said that violence at the Capitol that day was unacceptable.

But then of course, you have Donald Trump talking about the pardoning the people who have been charged with violence at the Capitol that day. It seems like the RNC has missed the moment here. And is, again, part of this fracture that’s going on.

RADDATZ: And Jon, what do you make of those comments? They did try to walk them back, but in effect, they’re validating what happened.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT AND ABC “THIS WEEK” CO-ANCHOR: It’s the RNC resolution that’s going to live in infamy, Martha. I mean, it — they said legitimate political discourse. They didn’t directly say that the rioters were exercising legitimate political discourse. But looking at the text of the resolution, it’s hard to see what else they were talking about.

Now, in the walk back, they said what Sarah suggested. They said they were talking about, for instance, those people that signed the fake electoral certificates from those states that Trump contested, that that was — those people are ordinary Republicans, Republican activists in the state, active within the party. They signed these alternate — so-called alternate slates of electors, and that they’re just ordinary citizens that are being persecuted for that.

Well, wait a minute. Is that legitimate political discourse? Is it legitimate political discourse to effectively forge documents claiming that somebody else won the election in the state than what — who the voters actually voted for? So I — their explanation actually raises almost as many questions as the original resolution.

RADDATZ: And Chris, how did the RNC get from originally condemning this to where they are now? What do you see —

CHRISTIE: Well, let’s remember —

RADDATZ: — for the future of the party?

CHRISTIE: — Martha, something. Let’s just remember something. This is just a majority of 168 people. And the RNC, most of those folks, were put into place over the course of the four years by Donald Trump. And so, it’s certainly Ronna Romney McDaniel is carrying water for Donald Trump in this regard. And so, let’s not make it bigger than it is.

I think that there’s two mistakes here by the RNC beside the obvious ones we’ve already discussed. First of all, they say that part of the reason for the resolution is they want to keep the focus on Joe Biden and the failures of the Democratic administration. Well, how did that work for you? All anybody is talking about this weekend is this resolution rather than talking about the failures of the Biden administration.

And secondly, it’s not picking up on what is, I sense, around the country, from traveling around, a shift that is occurring, which is that people are tired of hearing about the 2020 election from Donald Trump and from some who support him. And what they want to hear about is, what are the Republicans’ solutions for 2022, for what’s the Democrats in Congress and White House are doing to the country and not doing for the country.

RADDATZ: And, Sarah —

CHRISTIE: If we want to make sure we win the House and the Senate, then we’ve got to be able to get to that and what the RNC has done and what Ronna McDaniels has done this weekend is to distract from that.

RADDATZ: And, Sarah, what about the sway of Donald Trump? We only had about 15 seconds here.

ISGUR: That is the question, right? Donald Trump seems to be running again for president and the Republican Party is going to have to decide, the Senate candidates in 2022, the House candidates, which side are you on? Mike Pence or Donald Trump?

RADDATZ: Jon Karl, very quickly, is Mike Pence going to run?

KARL: I think he runs even if Donald Trump runs, yes.

RADDATZ: OK. Thanks to all of you.

Mike Pence turned out to be one of the many layers that protected democracy in 2020. But Trump’s continued push of the big lie has fueled a wave of Republicans now running to replace key election officials. Candidates who have made clear that if asked, they’d do Trump’s bidding next time.

Earlier this week, we travelled to battleground Arizona where the outcome of the statewide midterm races could make all the difference when it comes to counting the vote.


RADDATZ (voice-over): Democratic Katie Hobbs never expected that her role as Arizona’s secretary of state would become a partisan battleground.

KATIE HOBBS (D) AZ SECRETARY OF STATE: I think there’s people who are going to never believe a word I say about the elections or frankly anything else, because a lot of these people are being misled.

RADDATZ: After certifying Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump in 2020, by just over 10,000 votes, Arizona’s Republican legislature called for an audit of Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa. Nearly one year and a half a million dollars later, they confirmed Biden as the winner.

But former President Trump has continued to spread his big lie.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We had a tremendous victory in Arizona that was taken away.

RADDATZ: And his party is buying it. In a recent ABC News poll, 71 percent of Republicans think Biden’s win is illegitimate, despite zero evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Here in Arizona, Republicans are doubling down in their devotion to Donald Trump and filling up ballots with extremists and conspiracy theorists.

Mark Finchem, who was at the Capitol on January 6th, though he says he did not go inside, is hoping to replace Katie Hobbs to oversee voting in the state and is publicly affiliated with the Oath Keepers and was at a QAnon conference.

HOBBS: One of the clear things they’re trying to do is have loyalists who would be willing to overturn the voters.

RADDATZ: Hobbs’ term as Arizona’s chief election officer is ending, and she’s now a Democratic candidate for governor. But she worries about those running to replace her.

Election fraud is at the core of many Republican campaigns across the country and here in Arizona.

ABRAHAM HAMADEH, ARIZONA ATTORNEY GENERAL CANDIDATE: They told us Russia interfered in our elections in 2016 and that it was stolen, but now turn a blind eye to any allegation of election fraud in 2020.

RADDATZ: Republican Abraham Hamadeh is running for attorney general.

You believe the election was stolen?

HAMADEH: I believe the election was rigged.

RADDATZ: But you’ve seen all the legal cases in Arizona. You saw that they did an audit and you’re still not convinced?

HAMADEH: There’s a lot of unanswered questions.

RADDATZ: The Army reservist and former prosecutor is an avid Trump supporter.

Do you think Joe Biden is the duly elected president?

HAMADEH: Well, you know, I’m a good army officer and a captain. Joe Biden is the current commander in chief, that’s right.

RADDATZ: Former President Trump says he wasn’t. Why do you support someone who doesn’t believe that the election was valid?

HAMADEH: There’s a lot of questions. And for Americans to be concerned about the election doesn’t make them, you know, conspiracy theorists.

RADDATZ: And those who win in these critical races will be in the position to confirm or cast doubt when votes are tallied.

An ABC News analysis of 12 high profile battleground states found at least 16 Republican candidates running for statewide office have refused to acknowledge Biden’s win.

KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We had a shady, shoddy corrupt election in 2020. And the people of Arizona don’t look kindly on having their votes stolen or watered down with fraudulent votes.

RADDATZ: Kari Lake, a former local Fox anchor, is the leading Republican candidate for governor in Arizona.

LAKE: The media is part of the problem. The media is not reporting it. The media has never reported our forensic audit fairly.

RADDATZ: Lake secured Trump’s endorsement and campaigned with him last month.

TRUMP: Kari, like, I’ll tell you, she is incredible. She’s going to be your next governor.

RADDATZ (on camera): How does this happen that people believe these lies that the election was stolen?

STEVE IRVIN, ABC15 ARIZONA NEWS ANCHOR: You basically can’t win the Republican nomination here unless you’re all-in on Donald Trump.

RADDATZ (voice over): Steve Irvin has been covering Arizona politics for more than 20 years at ABC’s Phoenix affiliate KNXV. He says he’s never seen anything like it.

IRVIN: I think if the election result doesn’t work out in their favor three years down the road, we might see something that we’ve never seen before in this country.

RADDATZ (on camera): And what do you expect to happen?

IRVIN: What happens if a governor doesn’t certify an election and send those electors to the Electoral College? If you get to that point, it’s kind of unchartered territory. I mean it’s the tipping point for a constitutional crisis potentially.


RADDATZ: For more now let’s bring in our chief legal analyst Dan Abrams.

Good morning, Dan.

I want to start with Steve Irvin’s last comments. Are we looking at a tipping point for a constitutional crisis? What could a secretary of state, an AG, a governor do to change anything?

DAN ABRAMS, ABC NEWS CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Look, I don’t think we’re at a constitutional crisis yet. But if a governor and a secretary of state in particular decide that they don’t want to certify an election where there’s no real question about what the outcome in — yes, you probably first end up in the courts, but most likely it ends up in the hands of Congress allowing them to decide who the winner is in a particular state. And certainly that’s not something that anyone wants.

The one thing I would say is that there tends to be a lot more rhetoric when people don’t have the power to make any decisions than when they do. When they’re actually in place somewhere.

I mean even look at what happened in the state of Arizona where this recount by a very highly partisan group, once they got in, once they saw the actual ballots, they had to come out and say, well, there was no fraud here that we can find and the election results were correct.

So, yes, it’s a problem, yes, it’s something we should be concerned about, but we’re not there yet.

RADDATZ: And, Dan, you not only have these efforts to empower partisan politicians to overturn elections, but you also have many states making rules that make it harder to vote.

ABRAMS: Yes, and let’s distinguish between two types of rules. First of all, yes, there are rules out there that make it harder to vote. Identification rules, for example. Making it harder to vote absentee or early. Making fewer ballot boxes. And you can certainly argue they’re fixing problems in these places that don’t exist. And you can disagree with them.

But the courts have given pretty wide latitude in terms of states being allowed to make those kinds of rules.

The far more dangerous ones, from my perspective, are the ones that suggest that the state legislatures, or highly partisan bodies, should be able to literally overturn the election results. And in Arizona, there was a proposal just like that, that was just rejected by the top Republican in the state, which should be a big relief to anyone in the state who says, I want my vote to determine the outcome rather than a partisan body, like a state legislature.

RADDATZ: They did shoot that one down but a lot to keep track of in the upcoming months.

Thanks, Dan.

Up next, after President Biden deployed troops to eastern Europe, can the U.S. actually stop Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine? Terry Moran is live in Kyiv.

Plus, we’ll talk with White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, next.



PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY: The United States will soon move additional forces to Romania, Poland and Germany. These forces are not going to fight in Ukraine. They’re going to ensure the robust defense of our NATO allies. The United States, in lock-step with our allies and partners, has offered Russia a path to de-escalate.

But we will take all prudent measures to assure our own security and that of our allies.


RADDATZ: The Biden administration is ramping up its deterrence strategy against Russia, warning a full-scale invasion of Ukraine could lead to 50,000 civilian casualties and create a massive refugee crisis in Europe.

Our senior national correspondent Terry Moran is on the ground in Kyiv, tracking the latest.

Good morning, Terry.


Russia shows no signs of backing down at this point. Quite the contrary, Russia continues to pour land, sea and air forces into this region. The U.S. government now says that this is the largest assemblage of combat firepower in Europe since World War II.

And this morning new satellite imagery analyzed by independent researchers seems to show some Russian forces are taking forward positions now closer to the Ukrainian border, and all this as 3,000 U.S. troops begin to arrive in Poland to bolster NATO. Just a while ago the first plane carrying troops from the 82nd Airborne Division landed in Poland.

Here in Kyiv, in Ukraine, on the knife’s edge, things feel very different. The Ukrainian government continues to say that they don’t read this situation the same way. They don’t see and analyze the Russians as ready to invade. And in fact Ukrainian government officials suggest that the U.S. may be alarmist. Out on the streets here, it does seem like concern is rising. Martha?

RADDATZ: Terry Moran in Kyiv, thank you.

Let’s take all this to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Good morning, Mr. Sullivan.

Really startling predictions this morning. ABC and others being told that Putin now has 70 percent of his troops in place to possibly launch a full-scale attack on Ukraine. The Ukrainians may not believe that but how likely is that?

SULLIVAN: We believe that there is a very distinct possibility that Vladimir Putin will order an attack on Ukraine. It could take a number of different forms. It could happen as soon as tomorrow or it could take some weeks yet. He has put himself in a position with military deployments to be able to act aggressively against Ukraine at any time now.

And we are working hard to rally our allies, to provide material support to the Ukrainians, to reinforce our eastern allies in particular, Poland and Romania and the Baltic states, and, at the same time, to send a clear message — message to Russia that we are prepared to walk the diplomatic path, to address our mutual security concerns if they’re prepared to do so.

Either way, Martha, we are ready. If they choose to go down the path of escalation instead, it will come at enormous, human cost to Ukrainians, but it will also, we believe over time, come at real strategic cost to Vladimir Putin.

MARTHA RADDATZ: The White House has backed off from saying an invasion could be imminent, but several members of Congress briefed on the situation say it is a near certainty. You said you believe it could happen. Do you think it is a near certainty?

SULLIVAN: I’m not going to make a prediction about what is going to unfold in the coming days.

All I’m going to say is that we, the United States, under the direction of President Biden, are ready either way. We are ready if President Putin chooses to continue to engage in diplomacy, and we are serious about that, and we are ready to respond in a united, swift, and severe way with our allies and partners should he choose to move forward with a military escalation.

RADDATZ: You talk about this diplomatic path, but 1,700 U.S. troops just arrived in Poland, part of the 3,000 going in, 300 more sent to Germany.

The 18th Airborne Corps said these are combat-capable forces who stand ready to enhance NATO’s ability to deter and defeat Russian aggression.

They’re a long way from Russia’s border. That sounds like you’re no longer trying to de-escalate the situation.

SULLIVAN: We have, since the beginning, for months now, as we have warned about the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, pursued a two-track approach, deterrence and diplomacy.

And there’s nothing inconsistent about the two of them. In fact, we believe that deterrence reinforces diplomacy.

Those forces you just referred to have not been sent to fight Russian forces in Ukraine. They have been sent to defend NATO territory, because we have a sacred obligation under Article 5 to defend our NATO allies and to send a clear message to Russia that, if it tries to take any military action or aggression against our NATO allies, it will be met with a stiff response, including by the U.S. forces who are on the — on the ground there now.

But we have been equally clear, as you’ve seen from the paper that we sent to the Russians that has now been published publicly, that we are ready to have substantive discussions on matters of European security in the mutual interests of us, our NATO allies and Russia, and we’re ready to do that at the table with the Russians, if that’s the choice they make.

If they make an alternative choice, as I said before, we’re ready for that too.

RADDATZ: I want to nail you down, if I can, a little bit on the timing of this.

The Olympics end February 20. The ground will be frozen. And that facilitates tank movement. So is that the most likely time frame, mid-February, or after the Olympics?

SULLIVAN: We have to be prepared for the possibility of a contingency of a military action by Russia before the Olympics end. And we also have to be prepared for one after the Olympics end.

So, at this point, we are in the window, meaning that we can’t just assume it’s going to be a couple weeks off. Is that a possible scenario? Are there reasons to believe that it could happen in that time frame? Yes.

But there are also reasons to believe that Russia, under the direction of President Putin, could take steps before then. So, that is why we have worked so intensively to put ourselves in a position with — to create a united front with our allies, to flow material support to the Ukrainians, and to insure that we have prepared the package of strong and severe economic measures that would be imposed in the event of a Russian action.

RADDATZ: We saw Vladimir Putin at the Olympics this week standing next to President Xi.

That is an economic powerhouse, China. Could that undermine your plan for severe sanctions?

SULLIVAN: Our view is that China is not in a position to compensate Russia for the economic losses that would come from our sanctions. That’s the analysis that we and the Europeans share. And we believe the Russians and Chinese understand that as well.

We also believe that when it comes to it, ultimately, if Russia does choose to move forward, not only will it come at a strategic cost to Russia, but if China is seen as having supported it, it will come at some costs to China as well in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of Europe, and in the eyes of other countries who are looking on now and sending a clear message that they would prefer to see diplomacy over war here.

RADDATZ: And quickly, if you can, if he invades, we throw those severe sanctions at him, how does he respond? What’s next? How does this end?

SULLIVAN: Well, we do have to prepare for Russia choosing to respond in a number of asymmetric ways against the United States and against our European allies.

One of those potential ways, of course, is to try gas as a weapon against our European partners. And what President Biden has done is directed his team to find liquefied natural gas cargoes from other parts of the world that could be redirected to Europe to help make up for shortfalls that might accrue if Russia chooses to level gas a political weapon.

So, we are preparing not just for our initial response, but for counter-responses. And, as I’ve said all along, the fact that we have been focused on this for the past few months, getting ready for diplomatic negotiations, but also getting ready to respond to military action, has put us in a position today where we are prepared to these contingencies. And we believe that we will emerge from any scenario here stronger and more united with our allies and partners.

RADDATZ: Thanks so much for joining us this morning. Some rather grim news.

And joining us now, Congressman Michael McCaul, top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Good to see you this morning, Congressman.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): Thanks, Martha.

RADDATZ: You moderated a classified debate — not a debate — a briefing on the Hill this week with General Milley and others.

Did you come away thinking it was certain that Russia would invade?

MCCAUL: You know, I would say, the conditions are there. It’s more likely than not. I think the noose is being prepared. It’s around Ukraine right now as we speak.

These are dangerous times. Time is of the essence. This would be the largest invasion in Europe since World War II.

And the timeframe as Jake Sullivan mentioned is closing in.

RADDATZ: What does it mean for Americans if this happens? If horrible numbers coming out for Europe in a refugee crisis, what does it mean for Americans?

MCCAUL: It’s a great question. Why is Ukraine important, right? Because it emboldens and it empowers Putin.

I would go back to Nord Stream 2, the sanctions that we passed were waived by this president that laid the predicate for this. The deterrence has not been there and deterrence is key. Since last March, this buildup has started.

Afghanistan was a key moment where Putin and our adversaries like Xi saw that as a moment of weakness. The most eerie thing is seeing Xi and Putin hand in hand together at the Olympics, making a pact together against the United States of America.

RADDATZ: And what do you think the fallout from that is with China’s involvement and standing near next to Putin? Jake Sullivan didn’t seem to think that was a huge problem.

MCCAUL: This is why it’s so important because Xi is watching what is happening, our adversaries are watching. If Putin can go into Ukraine with no resistance, certainly, Xi will take Taiwan. He’s always wanted this, and the South China Sea, you know, as well. Very tactical of the ayatollah, nuclear (ph) bombs, is looking at this, and Kim Jong-un had two rockets fired off this month that were hypersonics.

RADDATZ: I want to go back to Putin. You look at Vladimir Putin, he’s all about force. He’s all about power. He’s all about winning.

So, where is his off-ramp here? What would make him pull those troops back without looking like he’s defeated?

MCCAUL: I think deterrence. It’s possible he could invade part of Ukraine and claim a victory.

But if don’t provide the deterrence, they held up this 200 million arms package that Congress approved, just now released it. Now, they’re saying it’s too late.

I’m working with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a bill that we hope to get out this week that will stand up the deterrence where the administration has failed to provide not only the lethal aid to Ukraine, but also the sanctions necessary, devastating sanction, including Nord Stream 2. That is a biggest leverage is that energy pipeline that President Biden gave him in Europe.

RADDATZ: I want to ask you the same question I asked him. How does this end? If — if they invade and you put those sanctions on, how does he respond? Where does this go from here? And you have a huge refugee crisis.

MCCAUL: Well, that’s part of their plan that we’ve seen in the classified space, an interment camp, a coup of the governance in Ukraine. Maybe financially they rely more on China.

But at the end of the day, what you’re going to see, Martha, is a resistance movement in Ukraine. That’s why we’re sending them sniper rifles, ammunition. Remember, the majority of Ukraine is not pro-Russia anymore. Unlike before Crimea, they don’t like Russia, and there’s a resistance movement there.

But that — I would far better to prevent this from happening in the first place, to stop an invasion rather than wait until after the fact, and to me, their ideas like after an invasion, we’re going to do sanctions or after an invasion, we’ll give lethal aid.

RADDATZ: I want to turn now if I can to the RNC. The RNC voted to censure your colleagues Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for their roles in investigating the Capitol riot. And the resolution referred to January 6 as legitimate political discourse.

Do you stand by the RNC’s actions and statements?

MCCAUL: My understanding is that pertains to the legitimate protesters that I saw that day.

RADDATZ: It still says that in the resolution.

MCCAUL: And nothing — you know, I condemn the violence at the Capitol. And those who committed criminal offenses who were violent at the Capitol need to be prosecuted, as a former federal prosecutor. And I’ve said that all along, that that needs to be addressed.

And I think part of the problem with my party is they view that as a weaponization, of Pelosi weaponizing January 6th, politicizing it to her advantage. But at the end of the day, I think the truth needs to come out, you know, with respect to this.

And, you know, why are we talking about this resolution, right, Martha? Why aren’t Republicans talking about the failures of the Biden administration? In Afghanistan, you know, with this Ukraine/Russia thing, with China, you know, all over the world, the border’s wide open.

RADDATZ: Let — let’s — I just want to ask you this again, do you stand by the RNC’s actions and statements?

MCCAUL: As I understand it, they’re referring to the peaceful protesters when they said it. I do not agree with that statement if it’s — if it’s applying to those who committed criminal offenses and violence to overtake our shrine of democracy.

RADDATZ: Should they have been censured?

MCCAUL: You know, that’s — that was a — I’m not a member of the RNC. I wasn’t privy to the resolution. You know, gain, from a message —

RADDATZ: You defended Liz Cheney before.

MCCAUL: I can tell you, from a messaging standpoint, the Republicans need to unify, as Christie talked about, about what — what are we going to do for the country to get the majority back in Congress, to get the White House back in 2024. It’s not helpful when they see us divided as a party rather than unified. And we have so much to be unified against when it comes to Biden’s failed policies.

RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much for joining us this morning. Congressman, always good to see you.

MCCAUL: Thanks, Martha.

RADDATZ: Coming up, the U.S. surpasses 900,000 Covid deaths amid a welcome decline in the omicron cases. Are we entering a new phase in the pandemic?



PRESIDENT JOSEPH R. BIDEN, JR.: Today we learned that in January our economy created 467,000 jobs. This morning’s report caps off my first year as president. And over that period our economy created 6.6 million jobs — 6.6 million jobs.

If you can’t remember another year when so many people went to work in this country, there’s a reason. It never happened.


RADDATZ: President Biden Friday touting a strong jobs report that far surpassed expectations. We’re going to discuss that and more with our roundtable, ABC News political director Rick Klein; our senior White House correspondent Mary Bruce; Susan Glasser, staff writer at the New Yorker; and Jane Coaston, host of the New York Times podcast The Argument.

Welcome to all of you. No arguing here.


Rick Klein, back to the fallout from the censure and comments from the RNC. What — what are you seeing in terms of reaction to that within the GOP?

You heard Michael McCaul there. I know your hand’s on some talking points.

RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah, and it’s a fascinating document that the Republicans were circulating after the fact. They were trying to point out that, in the past, they have condemned the violence at the Capitol. And they were arguing, basically, that the resolution should have said that they were singling out people that were there for reasons, or involved for reasons completely unrelated to the violence at the Capitol.

But of course it didn’t say that. That’s not what the resolution said. It suggested that January 6th constituted legitimate political discourse.

And I’ve heard from fund-raisers. I’ve heard from elected officials. People are upset to see the Republican National Committee on record like this. RNC officials actually thought this would be a good day for them. They thought this could relieve some of the pressure that they felt to denounce Congressman Kinzinger and Congresswoman Cheney. But it actually has done the opposite. It has exposed the fissures in the party, and it puts the Republican National Committee on record like this. Despite what they’re saying after the fact, the resolution stands. It is what was approved on Friday.

RADDATZ: And — and, Jane, the Republicans have very strong prospects for the midterms. Is this hurting it? Is January 6th hurting it? Is Donald Trump hurting this?

JANE COASTON, NEW YORK TIMES’ ‘THE ARGUMENT’ HOST & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think that, if they were able to move on from January 6th — and it’s ironic because you hear constantly from Republicans that Democrats need to move on from January 6th, and then Donald Trump waltzes in like the Kool-Aid through a wall, saying, like, “Let’s talk about January 6th. Let’s go back to this.”

You heard Matt Gaetz condemning Mike Pence for having strong statements about how he could not actually overturn the election.

And so I think that this is a case in which, if Donald Trump were a different version of Donald Trump, sure, maybe they could move on from this. But, for Donald Trump, the idea that he lost the 2020 election, which he did, is the biggest slap in the face imaginable.

And so I think that you’re going to see increasingly, in this year’s elections and in 2024, that whether or not you believe the big lie is going to be a litmus test. And I think that we’re going to see that moving forward.

And it’s interesting. People keep saying, like, “politicizing January 6th.” January 6th was a political event. The point of January 6th was that someone who lost an election believed he didn’t lose an election. That’s a political statement.

And so I think that you’re seeing Republicans wishing that other Republicans would stop talking about this. But until Donald Trump does, they’re in trouble.

RADDATZ: And Michael McCaul, of course, was saying, “hey, they should be talking about Joe Biden,” but maybe not this week. Joe Biden had a pretty good week this week, with the economy and the Omicron numbers going down across the country, and the Supreme Court.

BRUCE: Yeah, I mean, and especially compared to where headlines were just two, three weeks ago. The president did have a pretty good week. And we know he is, you know, working on his Supreme Court pick. An announcement is coming by the end of the month.

I’m told the president is still in the reading-and-talking phase of this. We know he’s got a list of more than a dozen potential candidates. At this point, it doesn’t seem it’s significantly narrowed yet, although the clock is ticking, of course. He’s been having conversations with leaders on the Hill.

We have seen Jim Clyburn, his allies making a big push for Judge J. Michelle Childs. Lindsey Graham even backs her, his fellow South Carolinian.

But I really wouldn’t read too much into that. I wouldn’t read too much into whether or not the president feels he needs Republicans on board. He doesn’t. I’m sure they’d love bipartisan support, but the president’s going to be picking a Supreme Court nominee whatever it takes. And I think bipartisanship would be nice, but is not a must-do for them at all.

RADDATZ: Not a must-do, but still the reminder this week. New Mexico Senator Ben Lujan had a stroke. There’s a very thin majority there.

GLASSER: That’s right.

Math is math and the 50/50 Senate, as we have seen for President Biden, when it came to his legislative agenda and the inability to pass the Build Back Better bill, because you can’t — unanimity is almost impossible to get in anything, right, to agree on a restaurant, never mind to agree on a complicated trillion-dollar measure to reshape the United States.

And so, certainly, when it comes to the Supreme Court, I thought it was very interesting this week that you saw Clyburn, a key ally of President Biden, saying that we need Republican votes, and I can do math too.

And I think you might see that happening here. Lindsey Graham has voted not just for Judge Childs in the past, but for Supreme Court nominees of the other party. He has long been of the position, as historically were other Republicans — remember, Mitch McConnell voted for Stephen Breyer all those years ago.

RADDATZ: And, Jane, certainly, a debate happening among Republicans. They don’t want to fight too hard against a history-making nominee?

COASTON: Yes, they do.


COASTON: Of course they do.


COASTON: And we saw this — we saw David Harsanyi writing in “National Review” that it’s not about history-making; it’s about the fact that they believe this would be a progressive jurist.

And so I think that you’re going to see you — the idea that the Republicans would take a break from fighting on this war, I think that that’s just not plausible. I think that what we’re going to see is that they’re going to come up with something, and it might not work, and especially if Democrats can kind of circle the wagons, so to speak.

But I do think that you’re going to see Republicans talking about how, like, this jurist goes too far, or even that President Biden’s pledge to nominate a black woman, especially now that we’re just talking about any black woman, hypothetically, which would somehow, for some reason, be objectionable.

I think, once we get down to specifics, I think Democrats will unify. But you’re still going to see a lot of Republicans coming out against whoever it is.

RADDATZ: And, Rick, I want to go back to you, because we have been watching what you have been writing this week and what you have been talking about.

Democrats, Biden, are they kind of getting their groove back?

KLEIN: It certainly feels like it.

Look, you can see a scenario where Democrats look at the jobs numbers, they look at Omicron, they see a president acting strong in foreign policy, and they see an opportunity with the Supreme Court pick not just to get it confirmed, but maybe to get bipartisanship.

There’s an actually really interesting question that the president will have to confront as we talk about Judge Childs. You have got his closest ally, plus key Republicans, saying, pick this woman. We like her.

And that’s a chance for Biden to make good on the overall pledge, the promise that he has brought about changing the culture of Washington. Yes, he could get something done with a bare majority of 50 votes. But in today’s Washington, it would speak volumes to get 55 or 60 votes for someone.

So there’s an opportunity here. And I think Biden has time and the Democrats have time. Despite all of the negative signals right now that are around Democrats for the midterms, they have a time to change that narrative, to change the story that’s being — that’s being told.

And comparing and contrasting that with the Republican chaos, this was a pretty good couple of days.

RADDATZ: But we have this crisis looming in Ukraine. They’re deploying troops.

The White House is concentrating on this fully right now, and really clearly worried about it.

BRUCE: Very worried.

And I mean, look, publicly, they will say there’s still room for diplomacy here. But as we have seen, the window for that is closing. The resources clearly are there.

We have seen the president send these additional troops. We have seen other world leaders out meeting with Putin, and the White House still not ruling out the possibility of another conversation between Biden and Putin.

And we have seen the sanctions bill gathering steam on the Hill, which does put the White House in a bit of an uncomfortable position, because they have made clear they think sanctions are best as a deterrence post-invasion, while this would include some pre-invasion sanctions.

But, I mean, the overarching feeling from the White House is just the, ball is in Putin’s court, and only Putin knows what he’s going to do next. It doesn’t seem that — I think they’re genuine in saying they really don’t know whether he’s made up his mind.

But, certainly, the clock is ticking here.


RADDATZ: And, Susan, you have really been following Russia for many, many years. You lived in Moscow.

What do you see in terms of Vladimir Putin? We talked a little bit about how he’s all about force and all about power. So, how does he possibly get out of this?

GLASSER: Well, he may not want to get out of this, Martha.

I mean, you know, there is a scenario here that we have to understand in which Putin feels that, either way, he may benefit from this.

First of all, we are doing a remarkable thing which is often talking about Putin’s demands rather than looking at the fact that he has created and manufactured this crisis. He sent an invasion force of 130,000 Russian troops to the border of his neighbor. He himself has basically singlehandedly destabilized European security and arguably geopolitical security.

That’s not because of any action that Ukraine took. It’s not because of any action that the United States or NATO took.

And yet, here we are talking and he’s very successful. It’s an old Soviet playbook in many ways to get allies — here we are arguing, right, on shows like this about, well, did NATO do something? Is it provocative? Should we roll back? I think, why?

The answer is why?

RADDATZ,: He started it.

GLASSER: And it’s all about Vladimir Putin.

But it’s also — he has almost an emotional attachment. Go back and read. I recommend this to everybody. Read the document that Vladimir Putin wrote and circulated to every member of the Russian military this summer in which he says that Ukraine basically doesn’t have a right to exist as an independent nation. It’s hard to negotiate with that.

RADDATZ: Certainly is, the playbook.

We’ve got to take a break, but we’ll be right back with the roundtable.


RADDATZ: And we are back now with our round table.

And, Jane, I want to turn to you. This week, Brian Flores, the former Miami Dolphins’ coach, filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL for which he called discriminatory hiring practices against black coaches.

You wrote a piece about how the NFL was failing black coaches. You talked to Brian Flores this week.

COASTON: Yeah. And I was really struck by how he recognized that this lawsuit might mean he will never coach in the NFL again. He’s still up for some jobs, including a job with the Houston Texans and the New Orleans Saints. But, look, he was talking about the very clear discriminatory practices that are taking part within the league. He interviewed for a job with the New York Giants after he received a text message from New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick that was intended for another coach, essentially letting him know that you don’t have this job, another person got this job, but because of the Rooney Rule —

RADDATZ: They’re just going to interview you.

COASTON: They’re just going to interview you for appearances sake. And I think we’ve seen that across the league. Currently in the NFL there is one African-American coach, that’s Mike Tomlin with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And the numbers just don’t make any sense. And for anyone talking about meritocracy, look, the Houston Texans have interviewed Josh McCowan, a currently active quarterback who has never coached at any level, as a head coach. They’re interviewing him for a head coaching job.

When we’re look — thinking about the NFL, we’re actually thinking about the NFL owners. And so the NFL has put out a lot of diversity statements and they even put out a memo today saying that they were going to review their diversity practices, which means absolutely nothing. This is about the owners. This is about ownership decisions. And I think that Flores’ lawsuit, there’s a good chance he’s going to lose this lawsuit. And he’s aware that this could mean the end of his career. But I think it’s going to put a lot of attention the NFL does not want, especially in advance of the Super Bowl.

RADDATZ: And a lot of attention anyway this week. This comes at a time of national debate, Rick, about affirmative action with the court possibly invalidating that for college admissions.

KLEIN: Yes, this is a time that we’re having a national conversation about these issues. We know that President Biden’s going to put a black woman on the Supreme Court. But the current court is likely to consider this affirmative action case. And It looks likely, based on what we know of the justices in the past of taking these cases, that affirmative action in — at higher education is going to go away. And I think it dovetails with the conversation in the NFL, whereas Jane said, they put these processes in place that actually haven’t had any results at all.

RADDATZ: And, Mary?

BRUCE: Well, I just — to the point about the Supreme Court, I think it is just astounding. I mean everybody saw it was coming to many — in many instances how much pushback this White House was going to get. Even though the president announced he was going to be putting a black woman on the Supreme Court, I think it still is just shocking that in this day and age even the president promising to do that receives so much pushback. Just — really no words.

RADDATZ: It certainly did. And we have run out of time.

But we’ll be right back.


RADDATZ: That’s all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Have a good day.



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