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tv   This Week With George Stephanopoulos  ABC  September 9, 2018 8:00am-9:00am PDT

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>> announcer: "this week with george stephanopoulos" starts right now. inside job. >> anonymous meaning gutless, a gutless editorial. >> president trump enraged by that anonymous essay in "the new york times" describing how administration officials are secretly conspiring to contain the president. >> is it subversion? is it treason? it's a horrible thing. >> and by bob woodward's new bombshell based on hundreds of hours of interviews with trump officials. >> the book means nothing. it's a work of fiction. >> it's a one-two punch like we've never seen before. a president's own team calling him incurious, undisciplined and detailing their frustrations and their fears. trump now more isolated than ever. and a "this week" exclusive.
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>> george papadopoulos, come talk to us. >> george papadopoulos, the first trump aide sentenced in the mueller investigation. his campaign meetings about russia sparked the fbi probe. but did his testimony help mueller build the case for collusion? what does it mean now for the attorney general and the president? papadopoulos here live this morning. plus -- >> it's not conservative. it sure isn't normal. it's radical. >> president obama hits the trail. president trump hits back. >> i watched it, but i fell asleep. >> obama calls out trump by name for the first time, calls on democrats to take congress back. will the unusual gambit pay off big or fuel a gop backlash? insight and analysis from our powerhouse roundtable. we'll break down the politics, smoke out the spin, the facts that matter this week. >> announcer: from abc n> good o "this week." we have said this before and i'm sure we're going to say it again, it was a week that felt like a turning point.
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some called it a constitutional crisis. others a democratic crisis. according to bob woodward, john kelly thinks the white house he's running is crazytown. woodward's book plus that anonymous essay in "the new york times" reinforced reporting we've seen for months but they also took it to a new and disturbing level describing in shocking detail an administration where top advisers question the president's competence and character and take extraordinary steps in their view to protect the country from its president. it's something we haven't seen since the darkest days of watergate and we're going to debate it all with our roundtable this morning, but if another echo of watergate, we begin with the latest development in the mueller investigation, the sentencing of george papadopoulos. the foreign policy adviser on the trump campaign who became the first member of team trump to cooperate with the special counsel.a om no one had heard of him when he first appeared on trump's official list of foreign policy advisers but there he was right
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across the table at the national security team's first meeting. and now we know that what a suspected russian agent told him about hacked emails from hillary clinton set off the fbi's probe into russian interference in our election. papadopoulos will spend only two weeks in prison for lying to the fbi when they first questioned him about his russian contacts. how his testimony fits into the broader probe, whether it helped build a case that some in the trump campaign were actually kong -- conspiring with russians still a mystery. but we do have the chance to question him this morning in his first interview since the sentencing. george papadopoulos, welcome to "this week." >> thanks for hosting me, george. >> let's go back to the beginning. you wanted to join the trump campaign for a long time. from 2015. didn't work out right away but finally in march of 2016, you had a talk with sam clovis about joining the campaign. he told you a focus of the campaign as he was hiring you would be improving u.s./russia relations. did he tell you why and how did you follow up? >> i didn't really understand why except that obviously
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candidate trump at the time was very vocal about pursuing some sort of working relationship with president putin should he ever be elected president so it was no secret that the campaign especially when the boss is looking to improve relations at some level with russia, that my supervisor at the time during an interview would be asking me if i'd be, you know, inclined to support that initiative. >> and you took that seriously. you took responsibility for it. just about a week or so later, you met with a man who's become famous now, joseph mifsud, a maltese professor connected to russian intelligence. do you think that meeting was a coincidence? >> i don't know, george. i was working at a group called the london center of international law practice and notified them i would be leaving london to go back to the united states where i was going to pursue my new career or job, but they still decided to take me to rome with them on some sort of business trip where i met this
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professor. to this day i have no understanding why or why fate put me in the same room with this person in rome. >> when he found out you were working for the campaign he was very interested. >> yes. >> and what did you talk about? >> he basically presented himself as this well connected, well traveled former diplomat who could essentially connect me and the campaign to russian officials and to other leaders around the world. i think he even told me that one of his good friends was actually the vietnamese prime minister. you know, he was connected to various think tanks in europe, the state department, so i took him serious initially. >> and you followed up on this potential meeting with putin. you guys had several conversation, had some more meetings and then you ended up back in the united states for that now infamous march 31st meeting, the first full meeting of the trump national security team. we're going to show that right there. the picture, of course, with you right there and the president, attorney general sessions there
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as well. when it was your chance to speak at that meeting, what did you say? >> so, basically what happened was we had some sort of roundtable where we all discussed what our backgrounds were, what we were actually going to contribute to the campaign now that we were all sitting across from the principals, jeff sessions and candidate donald trump. i explained to them that i had come from a think tank background and worked in the energy industry but do have a connection that can establish a potential summit between candidate trump and president putin. >> what was the reaction? >> the reaction, of course, was mixed. there were many people in that room that came from conservative think tanks including the heritage foundation, who, you know, nodded in disapproval. candidate trump at the time nodded at me. i don't think he was committed either way. he was open to the idea and he deferred of course to then senior senator jeff sessions who i remember being quite
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enthusiastic about hosting -- >> you say he was quite enthusiastic. the attorney general has testified under oath something quite the contrary. want to show that. >> i believe that i wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the russian government or any other foreign government for that matter. >> there are reports that you shut george down, unquote, when he proposed that meeting with putin. is this correct, yes or no? >> yes, i pushed back. i'll just say it that way because it was -- >> yes, your answer is yes. >> attorney general says he pushed back. is he telling the truth? >> all i can say is this was a meeting from about two years ago. my recollection differs from jeff sessions. >> he did not push back? >> all i can say is my recollection differs from his at point. >> did anyone discourage you from pursuing that possible summit between trump and putin? >> as far as i remember, after that meeting on march 31st, i actively sought to leverage my contacts with the professor to
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host this meeting. the campaign was fully aware of what i was doing including corey lewandowski, sam clovis, i think even -- actually preceding the meeting on the 31st sam clovis was saying excellent work while discussing with the group and sam that i was talking with mifsud and that this person could potentially organize a meeting with putin. >> and in april at that other meeting with mifsud where he said for the first time he knew of possible hacked hillary clinton emails. what exactly did he say? >> so, this meeting took place at the hotel by the liverpool street station in london. as far as i remember, what happened is joseph mifsud said he would travel to moscow the week before we met at the hotel where he had a series of meetings at the douma which -- >> russian parliament. >> which i believe is equivalent of the russian parliament then he sat me down and he was quite giddy and he told me i have
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information that the russians have thousands of hillary clinton's emails. there's a misunderstanding that he told me about dnc or podesta or any of these -- >> that was right after the hack of john podesta's emails. >> this was late april. i think podesta's emails -- >> were hacked earlier. >> to my recollection i never heard the name podesta, dnc. i saw him as somebody at the time -- we have to understand what my impression of this individual was at the time. at the time i was actively seeking to leverage him to meet with the russian ambassador in london after he promised that they would be inclined to meet. he was unable to set up any meetings with me and any senior russian officials. he introduced me to stay low-level think tank official in moscow, ivan timofeev, and a russian student who he purported was the niece of
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vladimir putin. >> this was pretty big. >> it was very big, but because of his inability to really connect me the way i wanted him to, when he did state this, you know, i guess it was a momentous statement, at the time i thought how could this person possibly hold the keys to the kingdom of such a massive conspiracy when he couldn't even introduce me to the people i wanted, so i was -- of course, i was shocked but at the same time this wasn't a russian official telling me this either. >> john mashburn who was working on the campaign testified you sent an email to him talking about this. >> if -- i have no recollection of doing that. if i did send an email and if others were copied on that, i'm sure that would have been produced. >> you can't guarantee that you did not? >> i could just say if that email was sent even if i deleted it, if that's what people believe i did, there would be a copy somewhere else. >> it's your testimony you don't remember telling the campaign about that. you understand why that's pretty hard to believe. this is pretty big news to you. wanting to get connected inside the campaign.
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you're in constant email contact with others in the campaign and you don't tell them about this? >> well, we have to look back at what was happening around that time. i think around that time is when corey lewandowski had just been fired. paul manafort had just taken the helm of the campaign and i actually had reached out to manafort and told him, look, i have information that the russian government might want to host candidate trump. are you interested or not? i just don't want to continue this exercise if it's fruitless and as far as i remember it didn't seem that paul manafort wanted to pursue this meeting so as far as i remember why on earth would i then after i was shut down i guess in a formal way after a lot of vacillating between the campaign would i then tell the campaign something like that. >> well, but you continued to pursue a meeting and you did have other meetings with diplomats in may. >> yeah. >> including the australian diplomat, alexander downer, where you did tell him about this. >> allegedly. i have no recollection of ever telling him that. i remember many details about
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that meeting and i remember the context of this meeting. i do remember telling another senior level diplomat, the greek foreign minister, which i'm openly -- i openly told but for some reason i just don't ever telling that individual. >> that's hard to believe as well. you remember what you drank at the meeting. you remember you had a gin and tonic. you remember you said you weren't drunk at the meeting. you remember where you were and remember other things you talked about yet you don't remember the actual detail that sparked the fbi investigation into russian interference? >> i mean i could just -- i could give details of what i remember from that meeting. i mean, it's actually quite fresh in my mind but that particular part, i don't remember at all talking about with this person. >> it's clear in retrospect the russians were reaching out to you, isn't it? >> i guess if somebody was using an obscure professor, a maltese professor to get to me to the campaign, yes, but i never met with a single russian official in my life knowingly. >> you continued to meet -- to try to pursue that meeting throughout the summer and you continued to do other work
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for the campaign including setting up other foreign meetings. >> in that you came into contact with steve bannon. >> yeah. >> with paul manafort. with mike flynn. >> yeah. >> did you ever talk about russia with mike flynn? >> no. >> never talked about russia with pike flynn, and you were hoping after the election to get a job working in foreign policy for the trump administration. >> of course. >> and it was in that context on january 27th, 2017 when you met with the fbi and lied to them about your meetings with joseph mifsud. why did you lie to them? >> as you stated quite eloquently, at the time of my interview with the fbi, i think around three or four days before that i was at the inauguration attending parties with senior level transition officials. i understood there was an incipient investigation into russian interference in the 2016 election, and i found myself as somebody who worked incredibly hard over the past year with the campaign to actually have
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candidate trump be elected and then i found myself pinned between the department of justice and the sitting president and having probing questions that i thought might incriminate the sitting president. >> you were trying to protect the president. >> of course. >> why, of course? >> because, you know, you're -- i didn't understand really the nature of what was going on. of course, i'm remorseful, i'm contrite, and i did lie, but, you know, you're just taken off guard i guess in such a momentous situation where you're potentially sitting there incriminating the president, even though, of course, i don't think i did, you know, that was probably in the back of my mind of what exactly am i doing here talking about russian hacking or election interference with the candidate that i just worked for. >> you then go to europe, spend much of the spring in europe and do you believe at that time the fbi was still tracking you? >> i believe so, yes. >> and you came back in july when you were arrested upon your return. tell us about what happened when you were arrested and then questioned by robert mueller's agents.
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>> the day of the arrest? >> yes. >> so i was flying in from athens via munich and my touchdown in dulles airport in washington, and i'm texting or messaging my girlfriend at the time letting her know there's people watching me at the airport. there's something very odd, you know, there's some gentleman in a suit and red tie and they're just staring at me while everybody else is exhausted after a transatlantic flight. i get to the kiosk where i'm attempting to put my passport to get my visa to re-enter the country and i am -- there's a badge in my face that this is the fbi, you should come with us. >> you knew from the first questioning after you returned that you were in serious trouble. >> of course. >> how? >> what's that? >> how? what did they tell you? >> basically they told me this is what happens when you don't tell us everything about your russian contacts. >> you made a pretty quick
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decision to cooperate with them. in the course of your meetings with mueller's team, were you surprised by how much they knew, not only about your activities but about the campaign? >> i think the fbi knows especially if the fbi has an eye on you, they're going to know everything about your life and supposedly the campaign as well so i wasn't shocked at all by the information they had about me. >> the mueller team said you did not offer substantial cooperation. you only gave information when pushed. >> i did my best. that's all i can say. i offered what i knew. i certainly wasn't going to lie to please anybody. i just stated what i knew and those were the facts. >> based on all of your meetings with them over the course of the last several months, and you had at least four meetings with mueller's team, did you ever meet with mueller himself? >> no, i did not. >> based on everything you learned from those meetings, do you believe they have
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evidence that people inside the trump campaign or advisers to president trump colluded with russia? >> i can't really get into details about what i discussed with the special counsel because there's still an ongoing investigation, of course. i can just speak for myself and my verdict i think speaks volumes of how i was involved at this time. >> but do you -- you know, your lawyers describe you as the first domino in this investigation. do you believe you're going to be the last? >> i mean, of course, i'm not the last. there have been other guilty pleas and convictions. i think paul manafort is sitting in jail as we speak. so, of course, i'm not the last. but apparently i was the start. >> and president trump had his reaction to your sentencing on friday as well. i want to show that. right there he had a tweet coming out of this -- we want to put that up on the screen right now. there it is, 14 days for $28 million, $2 million a day. no collusion. a great day for america. what's your response to that? >> i'm just reading my -- i guess my sentencing. i was sentenced to 14 days in prison for mistakes i made, but
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i have really no opinion on what the president said about my sentencing. >> your lawyer said president trump hindered the investigation more than you did. do you agree? >> those are their opinions. i have no idea about that. >> do you believe -- is president trump still the candidate, been the kind of candidate, president you expected him to be when you signed up? >> when i signed up i was a foreign policy adviser. i wasn't dealing with social issues or economic issues for that matter. on foreign policy, i think he's done a good job. >> done a good job? >> i think he's done a good job. >> how so? >> i see improvement on the korean peninsula. i see nato expanding their capabilities under president trump. i do see a detente emerging between the u.s. and russia. i think things are stabilizing around the world. >> do you think he tried to block the russia investigation and do you agree with his attacks on the fbi and the justice department? >> i think that this investigation should go through
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the process. i don't think anybody should obstruct anything and i have no opinion on -- and i actually have no knowledge of the president obstructing anything. >> are you still loyal to president trump? >> i'm loyal to my country first and foremost and that's actually why i decided to cooperate with the special counsel. but, of course, it's in everyone's interests in this country for the president to succeed, so, of course, i wish him all the luck in the world and i hope he continues to do good things for this country. >> do you think when the entire mueller investigation is finished that they will demonstrate that there was collusion between the trump campaign, between trump advisers and the russians? >> you know what, george, i have no idea. all i can say is that my testimony might have helped move something towards that. but i have no idea. >> i want to finally show one
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tweet you sent around august 26th when you were considering dropping your plea agreement and i want to put it up on the screen right now. it's a quote from machiavelli. it is a double pleasure to deceive the deceiver. who's deceiving and who is the deceiver? >> actually people have read too much into that. it's actually a quote i saw from a movie i liked and just decided to tweet it so i think people read too much into it. >> isn't it an odd thing to tweet out when you're facing sentencing for lying to the fbi? >> people could see it that way. that wasn't, of course, my intention and there's no reason -- if i wanted to drop my plea agreement, i would have. >> and are you confident that when the mueller investigation is done, it will be shown that you have told the whole truth? >> i believe so, absolutely. >> george papadopoulos, thanks for your time. we're going to have more with george and his wife simona in the program. all the fallout from bob woodward and the fallout in "the new york times."
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fisher investments. clearly better money management. it's not clear anyway that it's somebody in the white house. they're saying senior administration official. that could be many people. >> if you're not in a position to execute the commander's intent, have you a singular option, it is to leave because i know someone will say, gosh, you didn't answer the question, it's not mine. >> i think "the new york times" should be ashamed and i think whoever wrote this anonymous editorial should also be ashamed, as well. >> eventually the name of this sick person will come out. >> the name has not come out. anonymous in "the new york times." a lot to talk about on our roundtable this morning joined by jon karl, democratic strategist and white house veteran stephanie cutter. lanhee chen, former position director for the romney campaign. a fellow at stanford's hoover institution. chris christie, former new jersey governor, former
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prosecutor, served on the trump transition and "new york times" columnist michelle goldberg. jon, take us inside the white house. the bob woodward leaks coming out and right on the heels of that this anonymous thing in "the new york times." what is it like inside when ha happens? >> the president was already in a terrible mood when this all happened. if you remembered on sunday the day before the first woodward excerpts came out, you had him tweeting at jeff sessions telling him to stop the investigation or suggesting he should stop the investigation. >> into the republican congressmen. >> into the republican congressmen. the president was in a bad place concerned where things are going with the midterms but, look, there is a witch-hunt going on in the west wing, the president is obsessed with finding out who did this, punishing that person and now, of course, also and, of course, also suggesting "the new york times" should be punished for publishing it. >> went right at the "the new york times." michelle, you write for that op-ed page and questions for "the new york times" coming out of that, especially what this definition of senior administration official is. it can be quite an elastic definition. >> yeah, i'm not in a position to answer that.
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i mean i think i'm, you know -- >> they didn't tell you who it is. >> no. i wish they did and i certainly -- i certainly, you know, begged my editor but i don't think she knows either. i think it's a pretty closely held secret within the organization. >> but it does raise the question, chris christie, about just how serious this is. it's quite a different thing if this were a member of the cabinet or one of the assistants to the president versus, say, a deputy assistant secretary of state. >> well, you and i spoke about this on thursday, and i think it's only become clearer since then with the denials that we've seen that it's more likely than not now that this senior administration official isn't all that senior at all. and the fact is, if they're not, then you don't know how much real interaction they've had with the president, what they really know or what they're saying that is secondhand or thirdhand information. >> first of all, i don't know necessarily that the person who wrote this if you ask them would say, oh, you've got me.
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it was me, right? i'm not sure how here'sly. >> to take the denial. >> mark felt also denied being deep throat many, many times before it came out that he actually was. and also i think what do we have? i don't know what the number of denials is but there are a lot of people with senior crucial reels in the administration of both the white house, the state department, national security to say that it's not one of these dozen or two dozen people doesn't tell you anything about how senior this person is. >> now, wait a second. it does tell you how senior this person is. >> if it's second in command to john kelly, you don't think that's a -- >> no, what i'm telling you is that the people have denied so far and the list of people that have denied encompass almost all determine our senior administration officials are. >> one of the persuasive pieces i saw in slate suggesting it could have been ambassador jon huntsman, the ambassador to russia. and his denial was op-ed but what the person was
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saying in it about how a series of people who are part of this resistance, combine that with the reporting and bob woodward and how he details working against the president it's pretty shocking. >> it's pretty shocking. it's nothing that we didn't already know. you know, just to go back -- >> we didn't know gary cohn was stealing memos off the president's desk. >> we didn't know details like that but we knew exactly where gary cohn stood on this. it's one of the reasons he resigned. i think there are lots of -- i've worked in two white houses under two different presidents. there are a lot of serious people that work in that building. a lot of people -- serious people that work across administrations that are senior that you've never heard of. it could be any one of them. and i think what they're detailing is what we all suspected, that this president is not up to the job. the question is, what's the purpose of that op-ed? that op-ed is not contributing really to the discussion and they're not profiles in courage saying i'll do something about it.president
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on the campaign trail. he said it's not enough to be supporting 90% of the crazy things but standing up to just 10%. do something about it. if you think this man is not fit for the job then be public. have the courage to stand up and do it. >> you're connected in republican and foreign policy circles. how widespread is this resistance inside the administration? >> i think it's fair to say there are a number of people in the administration who have differing policy views from the president or came into the administration with differing policy views from the president. i think it's a very different thing on the one hand to say, let's all get together beforehand and talk about how to influence how the president is going to make foreign policy. it's quite another as the op-ed claims to say once the president's made a decision, we're not actually going to do that, right? so i think the latter category is a much smaller group of people, if more than just a few because this is a very troubling thing to say the presidewe're g policy, we're just n going to do it. >> but,, i have to tell you, from the first weeks of this -- of the trump
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administration, i have had top people on his team including people very much with the program generally tell me you think it's crazy, you should see the stuff we stop from happening. that's the theme of the woodward book. that's the theme of this op-ed. >> there's also, different, jon, to say you stop things from happening, can very many what lanhee is talking about. the president says he wants to do something. the advisers get a meeting and they talk him through it and talk him out of it. it happened to me as governor. it happens to principals all the time. you're going to react to something. you're going to say you want to do something. cooler heads prevail or different information comes in and you change your mind. that happens all the time. >> yes, but they're not talking about kind of gang of rival style debate. right? they're talking about contempt and it's the name of bob woodruff's book is real fear, right? you hear after and over after that that he is unfit, that his instability puts us in danger and that they feel like they have to be there to be the dulls in the room.
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and i honestly don't understand how people can be part of this and not feel shame and not feel some responsibility for foisting this on the nation. >> this was one line in the op-ed that did speak out to me that other people aren't talking about and that's the president's lack of morality and -- >> amoral. >> amoral, amorality and that for anybody listening in the united states should speak to the importance of this debate we're having. whether it's the woodward book or this op-ed, you have to look at the decisions the president is making, what his instincts are and don't just look at what people are saying behind the scenes or anonymously printing in the op-ed, look at his actual decisions. >> and, lanhee, that's not just people with policy differences, what's so striking both in the woodward book and op-ed, these are personal observations on the president's character and competence. >> and i think that is something that does differentiate it from policy but the question then is
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to what end does someone write an op-ed piece like this? what is the -- if your point is you believe the president is amoral and unfit for office, then resign and make that case publicly and allow the congress to do its job and enforce the congress in some way to do their job. there is a separation of powers. ben sasse had a remarkable introduction during the cabinet hearings last week where he talked about congress abdicated its authority in a lot of ways to check the executive. if you really believe this is a problem, then there are ways of dealing with this that go beyond just writing an anonymous op-ed. >> the purpose is clearly to hurt the president. that's why this person -- if he were trying to steer things internally, you wouldn't do this. >> why not resign? >> i think an interesting question, if this person did it as one of those who publicly denied it, what does "the new york times" do with that information? do they continue to protect somebody who was publicly telling a lie? >> that's why i say that the denials are important because i would assume that "the new york times" would be responsible
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enough that if someone is out there outright lying about their participation in something like this, that that would then force them to out this person if they're lying about it. >> if they know a public figure is lying. >> a senior administration official, someone who has responsibility and let me tell you the idea that someone should be shamed for working in this administration is an outrageous statement. it's an absolutely outrageous statement. you're serving your country and if you get to the point, you have two choices, if you get to the point where the policy differences or the personal differences are profound enough that you can't be proud of being there anymore, then get up and leave but don't be a coward and write an anonymous thing and then have -- have a news organization be willing to accept that kind of cowardice. because that's what it is. >> well, look, the news organization is not responsible for making sure that members of the administration behave honorably. ife honoragh to and place op-eds like
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that, that itself is news. but the fact is and obviously you know this, nobody in this administration or the number of people in this administration who have any respect for the hyrd to -- s infinitesimal which >> that's not true. >> which is why it's so hard to narrow down who wrote this in the first place. >> that's your opinion. that's just not true. that's just not true. from where you sit you have no respect for the president. that's obvious but don't tell me that the hard working -- >> you think john kelly has respect for the president. >> i do think john kelly has respect for the president. >> do you think john matthews -- >> jim mattis, by the way. >> you're right. >> if he didn't he'd leave because these are honorable men who have served our country and sacrificed greatly. if they had no respect for the president, they'd get up and they'd leave. anitutous to say that nobody -- >> you think bob woodward was lying? do you think bob woodward was wrong? do you think he had it wrong? >> let me tell you something, all i know about what bob woodward wrote about minner pic
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fact-check with me about a conversation that he quotes verbatim and words that he quotes verbatim from me that i never said, so all i can tell you is not that bob is making things up, but that bob may, in fact, be relying upon people who are making things up, and he didn't do his homework. it's not like i'm inaccessible. george, you know, you can find my number pretty easily. >> i got it right here. >> bob woodward could have called george and asked him how to get in touch with me and he didn't. >> he should have absolutely called you. absolutely. but, you know, you have been a u.s. attorney. you look at the preponderance of the evidence. the arguments that are being made in the woodward book, the arguments being made about the chief of staff or the secretary of defense or anybody else in that white house are not new arguments. this stuff has been leaking out since day one. so, there has to be some truth to it that his senior officials that are s fl ix grader.k that ke aif
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these aren't my words. these are leaking out from the white house and they have been leaking out since day one so we're almost two years into this. >> it's not only leaking out and jon mentioned this at the top. you did have at the beginning of the week that tweet from the president basically saying something again we have never seen before saying lay off these republican members of congress who have been prosecuted and then later in the week after the anonymous, he says, jeff sessions ought to investigate "the new york times." these are unprecedented moves by a president right there in public. >> exactly. >> well, i think certainly it seems to me that the republican members of congress who have gotten into legal trouble probably not worth defending people like that, all right. it's also the case, though, that i think when you talk about the potential disorder in the white house, from my experience there's a lot of disorder in large government institutions all the time, right? there are rivals within those institutions, there are people who are saying things. you know this, george, as well. there are people trying to spread potential untruths about others. so, i think what we have to do, we have to separate out what is happening here from maybe what has always happened since the
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beginning of time when we talk about political organizations, right? so how much of this is our focus on president trump because we believe that he's running a different kind of white house versus the reality that the white house is a very difficult place to work, that there are a lot of competing interests and some of this is in fact -- >> but that's the point. what's different here though and i'll bring it to michelle is not the portrait of the white house but the portrait of the president. >> again, you could -- there was probably plenty of grumbling in the obama white house. you could not conceive of an op-ed like this and if somebody ever did, you would know exactly who it was because there would be at most one or two people capable of it, and look at these tweets. these tweets are in and of themselves an attempt to obstruct justice, to place intolerable political pressure on the justice department and i think everyone knows that if this was reversed, if you had obama out there tweeting that holder needs to go easy on democrats who had been indicted because it might affect the
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midterm election, you know, chris christie and every republican out there would howl for his impeachment on that alone. >> is that fair? >> no, it's not. >> come on. >> let me finish. i have more faith in the justice department than that. the justice department under eric holder and the justice department now, and i was part of the justice department in the bush years for seven years when there was a lot of political pressure because of the times we were living in. i was appointed the day before september 11th. okay, so i know that the way the people in the justice department, chris wray at the fbi, look at these things, it's noise. it's white noise, george. the president's tweets to people in law enforcement who understand their duty is to the constitution, this is white noise. >> that's an extraordinary statement to call the president's tweet, the president's statements white noise. >> as it applies to law enforcement matters, he does not have the right to direct people on criminal matters. the people who are responsible for executing that job -- it doesn't matter, jon. >> he sa jould
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investigate. >> it doesn't matter whether he thinks. >> do you think it's right? >> no, of course it's not right, stephanie, but my is the is, it's not going to affect policy because the people who in the responsible positions and i know these people, i served with rod rosenstein for four of his years. i served with chris wray and chris wray acted as my lawyer. they're not going to respond to this stuff. it is unfortunate, but it's white noise to them. they're going to follow their job and, by the way, the indictments of these republican congressmen are a perfect example of that. they knew the president wasn't going to react well to this. yet, you know if you're going to indict a member of congress, that the highest levels of the justice department, the deputy attorney general or the attorney general himself signed off on those indictments. and so they're not being affected by the white noise of the tweet. >> got to take a break. we'll be right back. we'll be right back. 250k servics who transition out of the u.s. military every year... ...one of the toughest parts is the search for a job that takes advantage of the skills you've gained while serving. you can now search with the phrase 'jobs for veterans'
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it did not start with donald trump. he is a symptom, not the cause. he's just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years. a fear, an anger that's rooted in our past but it's also borne out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes. >> the first time president obama has taken on president trump in public hitting the campaign trail friday and saturday this weekend. wants to make a difference in the midterms. stephanie cutter, you worked for him. it took some pushing to get the president out there. he seems committed to working through the midterms but want to bring you that question. some concern that it could backfire, rally trump voters as well. >> sure, and i think president obama is very aware of that. i think he's careful in his fr
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saw on both friday and s e. disagree with what trump is doing, then there's one thing you can do, get out there and vote, and i think this president, he left the white house with a very high popularity. not just with democrats but with some independents and that's only gotten better over time and traveling the country with one really important message, if you want to change the direction of this country, get off your couch and go vote. that is -- we know how important that is because of the results of the 2016 election. >> and, lanhee -- >> then that's what is getting him on the campaign trail. >> you live in california. no accident the president was in california. up to half a dozen republican house seats that could flip. >> california is clearly going to be a battleground. it's interesting. the speech he gave on friday, very different from the speech he gave on saturday. the friday speech went directly at republicans tying republican members of congress to trump. saturday i don't think he even mentioned president trump in california and speaks to the different kind of appeal.
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in california you're appealing to moderate republican and independent voters to try to get democrats over the top. on the other hand, on friday you're appealing to base democrats to turn out. the question is which of those two is a more effective speech. in my mind the friday speech is more effective, the one where you actually go and try to turn out your base, because midterm elections, it's difficult to believe history will change and we'll have a bunch of moderates to show up on midterm election day. this is about motivating the base. >> barack obama -- first of all, it says something about the identity crisis in the democratic party that there was such a demand for barack obama to be out there and he remains by far the most visible democrat in the country but -- >> that's no surprise. >> former president but but there's nobody -- there's nobody even close. but he had a -- not just a mixed record but a bad record of campaigning in midterm elections. democrats, of course, got killed in 2010, got killed in 2014. the democratic party not just in congress but in the states was decimated during his presidency so the question is, how
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effective will he be out there this time? he may be more effective now that there's the contrast with trump but the track record is not great. >> also not on the ballot. i mean, midterm elections are largely reflections of who is sitting in the white house. he is not on the ballot and constructing an argument about which direction you want the country to go in and he has the benefit of the last 18 months to point to to say this is not america. this is not what it should be. >> how much different -- >> i want to say about the failure in previous midterms. that was less about kind of his own failures as a campaigner or the fact that his own speeches may be more up to par as it was a huge failure of party buding, a sense that kind of is need to bize, right? 's not that oba democratlo seats and, speeches, right? >> that's right. >> the party itself is mobilized and organized in a way that it just never was during obama's administration. >> chris, let me bring this to
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you because i remember pretty vividly being in the white house 1994. president clinton not that popular, being told to pull back. let members of congress to run their own races. a lot of republicans believe that their best hope coming up in the midterms is run on the economy, not to run on president trump but he's not coming off the campaign trail. >> no, definitely not. this is a president who will be out there and he's going to be campaigning, that's because it's what he likes to do. he enjoys it. first and foremost it's because he enjoys it. secondly, he thinks in certain places he can be helpful. and i think they will look at where he can be helpful and look at polling numbers -- >> more likely senate races than house races. >> much more likely senate races. let me say one other thing about president obama's speech. i find it richly ironic he talks about the fact trump is a symptom not the cause. okay, so what was happening, he was the president for the eight years when the cause was being created that he's now become a symptom of. but the president acts like he's
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detached from this, that somehow he was a dispassionate observer during the eight years beforehand. if donald trump is truly -- if he's right and donald trump is the symptom of a cause, well, donald trump got elected in 2016 after eight years of barack obama's president. he can't detach himself from that. >> you're absolutely right. here's -- here are the other symptoms and some of the causes that the day he was elected president after unifying the country with the largest coalition that we've seen coming together to elect for a president, republicans had a meeting in washington to say the one thing we need to do is make sure -- we have to subvert everything he does, vote against everything, stop him in his tracks and make sure he is a one-term president. and they did -- they tried to do that every step of the way, stimulus, health care, clean energy, you name it. everything. tried to block him and as they did that, they rallied a base and played to their worst sentiments. >> very much, stephanie, the
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same way that the democrats called george w. bush an illegitimate president from the moment the supreme court -- >> you know what, i worked -- >> wait a second. >> i worked -- >> i let you talk. >> okay. >> i'm sorry. democrats worked from 2000 from the day of the supreme court decision forward to say that george w. bush was an illegitimate president, recounting the votes -- >> we are getting into a debate we do not have time for today. thank you all very much. we'll be right back. thank you all very much. we'll be right back.
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to think of him being sort of the first domino. in the russia-gate. >> the first domino. >> i think it's being sort of. >> you believe he will end up as you said on the right side of history. >> he's already on the right side of history. i think it will make a big difference. >> the wife of george papadopoulos, simona mangiante papadopoulos joins us now along with george. welcome back. you know, we did that interview several months ago. in an interview you also talked about george as being like the
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john dean in this investigation. >> yes. >> do you still believe that? >> yes, in a way. i always thought his contribution was going to be important in a way that is not defined yet and we probably have to wait to the end to have a proper assessment of his contribution. >> well, george has told us earlier in an interview that he could have started this on the road to robert mueller demonstrating collusion with the russians. >> that's exactly the point i was trying to make. i'm not sure that is a contribution that would reveal collusion in the sense of interference of russians in american elections. but, yes, being approached by so many shady characters that would lead to probably different revelation. i'm not pushing forward the conspiracy theories of the deep state, absolutely not. i'm just saying that there are many shady characters that will probably be identified in a different role. >> in fact, though, george, your
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lawyers rejected the idea that there was any pross cue toorl misconduct of any kind. do you accept that? >> that's, you know, that's their opinion. of course, i wasn't privy to any information that would have led me to believe that there was any prosecutorial misconduct so i accept their opinion. >> you were questioned as well by robert mueller's team and from the start they suspected you were a russian agent. >> yes. >> how did that manifest itself? >> first of all, i come from a political background myself. i used to work as a diplomat in the european parliament for a few years, and this could be a red flag because many officials at european union,actually it's a cover-up for spying jobs. i was introduced to joseph mifsud by the head of the socialist group in the europe parliament and started to work with him in london shortly after i ended my work at european parliament. of course, this connection was highly suspicious.
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i respect the -- always said i respect mueller's interest in my profile because clearly it's quite alarming, the fact that i married george papadopoulos in the middle of this storm. >> and met joseph mifsud. >> and met joseph mifsud. i said in my first interview was our cupid. i still guess who joseph mifsud is. i know his collection in italy and know his background. that's why i still think there is a lot to come. >> did you ever suspect that simona might be connected to russia? your dad did. >> i think my family were -- i think everyone was a little paranoid throughout this past year and, yeah, i think they thought that she might have been some sort of russian spy. of course, i never believed anything like that. she's just -- i don't think every beautiful blond person necessarily has to be a russian agent. you know, there are many blond italians as well. >> you all met through joseph mifsud.
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when was the last time you spoke to him? >> my last time was in november 2016. >> and you? >> i can't even remember. it's been -- >> april 2017 maybe? >> no, there was -- probably '16. >> so not after 2016 -- not after april 2016? >> i think he was reaching out to me into 2017. i was just basically ignoring him so, yeah. >> the democrats filed a lawsuit yesterday suggesting that he might be deceased. do you know anything about that? >> that's interesting question. i just asked a common contact in rome and he told me indeed i could not access to mifsud multiple phone numbers but i would be deeply sorry if he actually did die but it's still an open market -- it's still a possibility. >> as far as you know he's missing and it's possible. >> it's possible, yes. >> i have no idea, george, also. >> for you you're about to write a book. >> you know, i think this has been quite an interesting year.
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i certainly think some sort of book would definitely be in my interest. >> and you're heading for hollywood. >> yes, and a family first. >> family first. >> i would love to take the opportunity to start a family now. things are calmer and in california will be a perfect set for us. >> good luck to both of you. > thank you so much, george. we appreciate it. >> that's all for us. thanks for sharing part of your sunday with us. check out "world news tonight" and i'll see you tomorrow on "gma."
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up next, another fire causing evacuations in napa county. new numbers from the snell fire this morning as the flames get to over 100 homes. and also, anti-semitic flyer is placed at five synagogues. a beautiful live shot from the explore tomorrow, a wand ve today, life-changing technology from abbott is helping hunt them down at their source. because the faster we can identify new viruses,
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