A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, August 9, 2020 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the “This Week” transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” starts right now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: No deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I said, “Come back when you’re ready to give a higher number.”
STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: If they have compromises, we’re ready to be here and negotiate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: As unemployment benefits stop for millions of Americans…
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That extra $600 has been a lifeline to us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We cannot work, and it has — it’s no fault of our own.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Stimulus talks collapse. President Trump acts on his own run.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I’m taking executive action. We have had it.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Unworkable, weak and narrow executive orders, which are not going to do the job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer joins us live this morning, plus, economic adviser Larry Kudlow from the White House.
And election warning: U.S. intelligence concludes Russia is actively working to elect Trump. China wants Biden to win. Will foreign interference corrupt our election? As questions mount about mail-in voting and voter suppression, our legal team weighs in on what to expect on Election Day and what it will take for voters to trust the results.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every one of the women I have — we have interviewed is qualified, and I have narrowed it down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Biden’s zeroes in on his V.P. pick. When will he decide? What will it mean for his campaign? The race for the White House on our powerhouse roundtable?
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s “This Week.”
Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to “This Week.”
As we come on the air this morning, the number of COVID cases here in the U.S. is crossing five million, more than any other country in the world. And the millions of Americans who’ve lost their jobs during the pandemic are facing a new week without extended benefits, after the collapse of talks between the White House and Congress.
Late yesterday, President Trump announced that he would take action on his own, signing a series of documents that he claimed would address the crisis facing workers, renters and the unemployed.
And to cheers from members of his country club at Bedminster, New Jersey, he laid the blame for failed talks on Democrats in Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have chosen to hold this vital assistance hostage on behalf of very extreme partisan demands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are joined now by the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer.
Senator Schumer, thank you for joining us this morning.
SCHUMER: You’re welcome.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about the president’s proposals.
First of all, Trump wants to replace the $600 unemployment benefit, the federal benefit, with a $300 federal benefit, paid for, disaster relief funds. He says the states will kick in another $100.
Does he have the power to do that? Will you go to court to stop him?
SCHUMER: Well, let me first say, George, that, overall, we have this huge crisis, the largest economic crisis since the Depression, the greatest health crisis since the pandemic.
And, unfortunately, the president’s executive orders, described in one word, could be paltry, in three words, unworkable, weak, and far too narrow.
The event at the country club is just what Trump does, a big show, but it doesn’t do anything. And, as the American people look at these executive orders, they will see they don’t come close to doing the job in two ways.
One, what — is what they proposed, and, second, what’s left out. What’s proposed?
On the unemployment benefit, first, the $600 a week has been very successful. It’s kept millions of people out of poverty. It’s pumped more money into the economy. Consumer spending is probably the best thing going in the economy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president says it keeps people from working.
SCHUMER: They want to — they want to cut. It’s — the evidence shows that’s not the case. That belittles the American people.
Americans want to work. But with 10, 11 percent unemployment, you can’t find the job, and people shouldn’t be given a pay cut.
But, second, this is an unworkable plan. Most states will take months to implement it, because it’s brand-new. It’s sort of put together with spit and paste. And many states, because they have to chip in $100, and they don’t have money, won’t do it.
And, to boot, it depletes the hurricane trust fund to defer this money — to pay for this money, at a time when we’re at the height of hurricane season.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, can the president do that, though?
SCHUMER: So, it makes no sense.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it legal? Is it legal?
SCHUMER: Well, you know, I will leave that up to the attorneys.
It doesn’t do the job. It doesn’t come — it’s not going to go into effect in most places, because — for weeks or months, because it’s so put together in a crazy way. If he just would have renewed the $600, as we do in the HEROES bill through January, things would flow smoothly.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the payroll tax deferral?
SCHUMER: The payroll tax cut is another — it’s just way off-base.
First, most employers are not going — it’s a deferral, and so it accumulates until January, when it expires. Employers are just going to continue, withhold the money — I have talked to some — because they don’t want their employees to be stuck with a huge bill in December.
So, it’s not going to pump money into the economy. And, second, the president said if elected I will forgive all this, that depletes money out of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. If you’re a Social Security recipient or Medicare recipient, you better watch out if President Trump is re-elected.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about how you get back to the table. And you say these proposals are —
STEPHANOPOULOS: — now they’re unworkable, they’re paltry. What the Republican just said is that you — your trillion-dollar offer is really just a budget gimmick. You’re shortening the amount of time the money will be spent. You’re not cutting any programs. Will you compromise more?
SCHUMER: Well, look, we’ve compromised a great deal. But one more point I have to say on the — on the executive orders, what they leave out. Nothing on testing, we have a regime that is not testing, the president has messed up testing to a fare-thee-well, unlike other countries.
Nothing to help open the schools safely. They need lots of money to open up the schools. Not just for PPE but for bus routes — because kids can’t sit right next to each other, for ventilation systems, for hot spots — a lot of the schools want to convert their gyms and cafeterias to classrooms.
It does nothing for state and local government. We’re going to see layoffs of — and this is not an abstract concept. They say it — the Republicans say in the blue states. A firefighter is a firefighter. A person who drives a bus, a person who picks up the garbage, those are important jobs. It’s not in there.
There’s no money for — to help us with elections. No money to help us with the post office. Very little money to feed — no money to feed children and no real help for eviction of people. So they leave out a lot.
So what have we Democrats proposed? Originally the $3.4 trillion HEROES Bill was carefully done and it meets the needs. There are huge needs, three-quarter — two-thirds of the American people by survey data prefer our $3.4 trillion to their $1 trillion which doesn’t do the job.
But in an effort to compromise, Speaker Pelosi told the negotiators from the president’s office, we will come down a trillion, you come up a trillion, that would bring us to 2.4, them to 2 and we could meet in the middle and get things done quickly. They said absolutely not. I said to them, this means it’s your way or the highway? And they basically said yes. That is not the way to create a deal.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But what are the —
SCHUMER: Here’s my hope, George — here’s my hope, that now that they’ve done these executive orders and the American people will see how paltry, how narrow, how not doing the job they are, that Republicans who hung their hat on these executive orders will now be forced by the economy, by the healthcare crisis, where a thousand people are dying a day and we’re not making the progress we should, invite [ph] the American people to come to the table, accept our compromise to meet in the middle, and come up with an agreement.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about where you could compromise more perhaps. One prevision you’re pushing is for an appeal to the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions. That’s a long-time goal of yours. It benefits basically upper-middle class and wealthy taxpayers in big states like New York. Why does that have to be in the emergency COVID bill?
SCHUMER: Well, first, state and local governments are hurting and one of the reasons was the elimination of the cap on state and local, it hurt state revenues. But, secondly, this idea that it’s rich people, go to Long Island, talk to a couple — a typical couple, maybe he’s a firefighter, she’s a teacher, they need that deduction, this affects the middle class, in suburbs, in the red states and in the blue states, and it’s something that I’m going to keep fighting for.
But we’re willing to come down a trillion dollars and we’ll compromise and meet them halfway. They don’t want to meet halfway, they don’t want to meet any way and that’s what the American people should understand, that we’ve made a big offer, a huge offer, in an effort to get this thing going, we will make — we will make that — we will cut that trillion and it won’t be so easy because these are real needs of people. This is not an abstract game.
You know, you have so many Republicans who say they don’t want to spend one nickel. They don’t want to spend one nickel. Mitch McConnell said 20 Republican senators don’t want to spend any money, not even the trillion that the president has proposed. And that is sort of reminiscent of Herbert Hoover.
When the stock market crashed, Herbert Hoover and some of these Conservatives out then, then said, don’t spend any money and we had the Great Depression. We are fighting for people’s needs.
We are — we need testing. We need our schools to open safely. We need to prevent firefighters and teachers and others from being laid off. That’s what we’re doing. This is not a game —
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to —
SCHUMER: And, you know, they’re so wrapped up, excuse me, in their ideology, we hate government. Well, I got to tell you something, the Republican mantra let the private sector do it alone just doesn’t work when you have a huge recession and huge healthcare crisis.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to ask about election interference, as well. The Intelligence Community put out a new warning Friday about foreign election interference. They’re saying that China wants Biden to win, that Russia is actively interfering now to help Trump, that Iran is also looking for opportunities.
I know you’ve received classified briefings. Does that public statement accurately reflect what’s happening right now? And what, if anything, can be done to counter the interference?
SCHUMER: OK. First, I can’t talk about what happened in the briefings. But, I can tell you, there are public reports and intelligence officials have said that Russia is attempting to interfere in our elections. Evanina said it just yesterday. He’s the deputy of the DNI.
And so, yes, it is absolutely true that Russia is trying to interfere from public information and public statements. And we are trying, we Democrats are trying to stop it in the defense bill. We want to put tough sanctions on Russia, both before they do something and even more so, Chris Van Hollen, has a bill, bipartisan, I believe this with Marco Rubio to stop it.
Trump is resisting. Why does Donald Trump not want to stop Russia from interfering in this election? You have to ask that question. It’s the wellspring of our democracy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Your colleague Richard Blumenthal —
SCHUMER: And if you thought (ph) elections are fair, we — we can hang it up.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You colleague Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said the underlying intelligence about Russia is so alarming, so chilling, that it should be declassified. He says every American has a right to know.
Do you agree?
SCHUMER: Without compromising sources, yes.
And they should know one other thing, that these hearings that Johnson and Graham are doing are — some of it is now, now it’s public, is based on false Russian intelligence about Joe Biden. In other words, false Russian reports about Joe Biden.
They should be ashamed of themselves for what they’re doing, letting the Russians manipulate them and us, the American people, or tried to manipulate us.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Schumer, thanks for your time this morning.
SCHUMER: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s get a White House response now by the president’s — from the president’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow.
Larry, thank you for joining us this morning.
One, let me just give you a chance, first, to respond to Senator Schumer. You saw him right there say that the pro — that the president’s proposal are paltry, weak, narrow, unworkable.
LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR: Well, look, I think that provides significant economic assistance, even though the numbers are coming in very strong — good jobs number on Friday, declining unemployment. We created over 9 million jobs in three months, that’s record.
But there’s still a lot of hardship out there. There’s a lot of heartbreak out there. And the point that President Trump made yesterday is that on a several occasions, we tried to get, for example, a compromise deal on the unemployment assistance, which ran out, the federal unemployment assistance. That’s a key point.
A second key point was the eviction moratorium because the Democrats rejected various compromises, at least twice to my knowledge, the president felt he had to take action. And it would be timely action, and it will be temporary action to be sure, probably mostly until (ph) the end of this year. But let’s help those who still need help —
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Larry, in fact, the president doesn’t extend —
KUDLOW: — we make great success, but we had to take action.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In fact, the president doesn’t extend the federal eviction moratorium. I looked at the executive order, it doesn’t do that. It simply directs how to find a way to help people and identify federal funds. It doesn’t include extending the eviction moratorium.
KUDLOW: Well, look, it — that’s not entirely true. I mean, in there —
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it is true. I read — I just read —
KUDLOW: Secretary of health, if any determination is made that there’s a health threat of community spread due to evictions or forbearance due — coming on top of evictions, that they would take action. So, that’s clear and I think that’s exactly what the health secretary is going to do.
We also are going to be working through other agencies to spend some money for, for example, rental assistance, and federally backed housing, whether it’s single family or multifamily, if there’s any forbearance, or if landlords make a request, then there would be no eviction during that process. So, it’s just says there’s going to be a review, I can tell you, George, the intent of that is that the review will prevent any evictions.
We’ve been fortunate so far. But this is a guardrail and it will work out beautifully.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. I understand that, you say that’s the intent. Just to clarify, because I’m reading page three of it right here. It says such action may include encouraging and providing assistance to public housing authorities or affordable housing owners, landlords and recipients of federal grant funds in minimizing evictions and foreclosures.
It doesn’t talk about extending the moratorium.
But I want to move on to some other issues as well, because — especially on this proposal to extend unemployment insurance benefits, $300 federal contribution, $100 from the states under new program, you heard Senator Schumer there say the states won’t be able to get this up and running in time and you’re going to have a huge delay in getting this money to people even if — even if it is implemented.
KUDLOW: Well, look, I don’t think there will be a huge delay. Labor Department has been working with the states. The states are the ones that process the federal benefits before.
So, I don’t see any reason why it would be all that difficult. Most of their systems have been upgraded. But the Labor Department will be deeply involved in helping them out.
I mean, in terms of delays, what good is a delay of the legislation if you can’t — if you don’t think you can process anything? We should have gotten this done weeks ago.
Now, we will take 75 percent of the cost share so that if states put up another $100 from $350 or $400, which is their average across the country, then you’ll have essentially $300 to $400, plus another $300 to $400. Really, if the states are generous, there could be an $800 unemployment assistance per week out to the end of the year.
I think that’s a compromise view. We tried to get that through a couple times and we were not able to compromise. So the president’s gone ahead and done it himself. I think he’s going to help a lot of people. That plus the payroll tax and some other things.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, on the payroll tax, again, it’s not a tax cut, it’s a tax deferral. Senator Schumer says that he’s talked to a lot of employers who say they simply won’t — will continue to withhold the money because they don’t want to be on the hook for it later on. It also not going to do anything for people who are unemployed right now, it could only help those who actually have jobs.
And, finally, even some Republicans are weighing in. Senator Ben Sasse says it’s unconstitutional slop. The president doesn’t have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law.
KUDLOW: Well, OK, I appreciate those things. Maybe we’re going to go to court on them. We’re going to go ahead with our actions anyway. Our counsel’s office, the Treasury Department believes it has the authority to temporarily suspend tax collections. So we’re banking on that. We’ve had also a repurposing of funds, George. That was decided in our favor in the Supreme Court case regarding the Mexican wall a while back. So we think we can do it.
I do think the president, and it’s in the executive order, would like very much to make the deferral a permanent deferral. In other words, he will essentially let it go in future months rather than a payback. So it will be, you know, loan forgiveness in effect, that’s what this really is, is loan forgiveness. And I think businesses will come on.
You know, one point, you’re right, there are many more people working than not working. That’s a good thing. But there are roughly 140 million people who are working. There are roughly 15 million or 16 million unemployed. The unemployed is too high. There’s a lot of heartbreak there. That’s why we want to help them with the unemployment assistance.
But, the 140 million some odd, they’re going to get a gigantic wage increase, probably $1,200 between September 1st and December 31st. And, again, we’d like to — we will do everything we can to forgive those loans. So I think that’s an incentive to work for those who are heroes during the pandemic and also for the unemployed it gives them an incentive to come back to work so we can offset some of the excesses of unemployment assistance.
You just said this — this could face legal challenge. That seems pretty clear that that’s going to happen. You see right now that the Democrats are also saying that you didn’t — you’re not doing enough on testing, you’re not doing enough to help schools, state and local governments.
Why not go back to the negotiating table and get this done? Isn’t that the quickest and easiest route to guarantee relief?
KUDLOW: Well, I don’t think — and the president has said, we can go back to the negotiating table. We’ve not said no to that. We’ve been up there every day.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, except his — his team walked away.
KUDLOW: Secretary Mnuchin — well, look, Secretary Mnuchin and Chief Meadows, Mark Meadows, have been up there laboriously every single day for long periods of time. We provide as much staff and policy support as we can behind the scenes to back it up.
We had proposed a large school assistance for COVID. We want kids to go back to school. We put $105 billion on the board and the Democrats rejected it. We actually exceeded their original. It was $100 billion.
Across the board, we’ve done all these things. I — I listened to what Senator Schumer was saying. We have massive testing program. We’re testing virtually 1 million people per day. I think something like 60 million or 65 million total tests, by far the largest in the world. And, thankfully, by the way, with the distancing and with the masking and with the hygiene and with the testing we’re applicable, we’ve seen now the mitigation is working and the curves are flattening out in Texas and California and Florida.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s — it —
KUDLOW: That’s a real good thing.
We put these things — look, here — can I just raise — I don’t want to get overly political, but, for heaven’s sake, the president said yesterday correctly, one-third of the Democratic proposals had absolutely nothing to do with COVID. They’re talking about harvesting mail-in votes, mail-in votes themselves, no signatures, no ID, sending assistance to illegal aliens, letting felons out of jail. I mean, it’s really a very liberal left Democratic wish list that had nothing to do with COVID.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well —
KUDLOW: If they can remove that stuff, we probably have better grounds on which to negotiate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Larry, as you know, we could go back and forth on that. Democrats complain, for example, the president wanted to put funds for building an FBI building in downtown Washington, in a way that some critics said would help his hotel.
But I want to move on because you made that point about COVID and mitigation right now.
“The Washington Post” is reporting this morning that an internal model of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers predicts, quote, a looming disaster, with the number of infections projected to rise later in August and into September and October in the Midwest and elsewhere.
Have you seen this analysis? How worried are you?
KUDLOW: I have not, George. I have not seen that analysis. And all my discussions with my colleagues at CEA, I’ve not — I’ve not heard anything about that. As I said, we’re actually — we’ve gone through a very tough period as the virus spread to the South and West. It looks like we’re making pretty good progress.
Am I worried in general? Yes, I’m always worried in general. Things happened here that no one expected to happen, exponentially.
And sure, we are constantly concern. We’ve sent our CDC people, Ambassador Dr. Deborah Birx has sent the whole team down, she’s gone down to look, on site inspections of the areas where the hot spots are the worst, emphasizing, again, our guidelines.
Fauci has done the same thing. Stephen Hahn has done the same thing. Vice President Pence has been all over it. And the president has been monitoring it and is now reporting to the nation each evening on the daily basis.
So, sure, we’re always worried. But I haven’t seen that kind of apocalypse now scenario.
I guess in this game, you can’t rule anything in. You can’t rule anything out. I understand that. But no, I’m not aware of any such scenario coming from the CEA.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Larry Kudlow, thank you for your time this morning.
KUDLOW: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, “FiveThirtyEight’s” Nate Silver handicaps the race to be Joe Biden’s running mate.
We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every one of the women I have — we have interviewed is qualified, and I have narrowed it down.
QUESTION: Someone on your own V.P. selection committee reportedly has been critical of some in contention, like Senator Kamala Harris, for not being more conciliatory since she went toe to toe with you during the debates.
BIDEN: I have made it really clear that I don’t hold grudges. I think it was a debate. It’s as simple as that. And she’s very much in contention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Joe Biden’s pick for vice president coming any day now.
The only thing we know for sure, his running mate will be a woman. Betting markets say Kamala Harris is the favorite.
Let’s see what Nate Silver thinks of that.
NATE SILVER, EDITOR IN CHIEF, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM: I have got to be honest with you. I don’t think these betting markets are all that smart.
With that said, unless you’re in Joe Biden’s head or, I suppose, reading his notes, we’re all playing guessing games about who his running mate might turn out to be.
So, here’s one piece of data to ground us just slightly. Of the 28 people nominated to be vice president as part of major-party presidential tickets since World War II, 20 were senators or governors, or about 70 percent. That might favor Senator Kamala Harris over other possibilities like former Ambassador Susan Rice or Congresswoman Karen Bass of California.
Another data point, of those 28 vice presidential nominees, 13 would later go on to run for president, so about half. But that number shoots up to 75 percent of those who actually became vice president. With Joe Biden ahead in polls, that V.P. slot becomes even more valuable.
So, when I hear anonymous advisers complaining that Harris is too ambitious, that doesn’t really ring true as a reason to keep her off the ticket. The V.P. is often a stepping-stone to presidential aspirations, as it was, of course, for Joe Biden.
One last number, 78. That’s how old Biden would be as of Inauguration Day. So, it’s not crazy for voters to be thinking about someone who could step in after four years, or even sooner, and have a long political career ahead of them.
Harris, at age 55, would fit the bill, although so would someone like Rice, who’s also 55, or Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, who is 52.
Add it up, and I’m really not making predictions here, but I suppose I buy the conventional wisdom that Harris is the favorite. She is a well-known, well-qualified name who’s run for national office before. And, in a time of great uncertainty, voters may want that, instead of another unknown.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Nate.
Up next: Are we heading for chaos come Election Day? The system is stressed. Political and legal challenges are mounting. Will voters be able to trust the results?
Our legal experts weigh in when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERALD FORD, 38TH U.S. PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Our legal team is standing by to talk election security plus the Powerhouse Roundtable. We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER JENNINGS, ABC NEWS (December 12, 2000): The Supreme Court of the United States has reversed the orders of the Florida Supreme Court on a very narrow majority, five justices to four.
George, this effectively ends the election.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It has ended the election,
And, Peter, literally, one of the closest elections in America’s history. One hundred and four million Americans voted. Only a 300,000 vote difference. Six hundred votes approximately separated the Gore and Bush in the state of Florida and now by one vote on the Supreme Court this election is over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Back in 2000, we didn’t know who would be the next president until the Supreme Court shut down the Florida recount on December 12th, five weeks after Election Day. And if this year’s race is close, we could see a repeat or worse.
The president’s attacks on mail-in voting, delays at the Postal Service, concerns about coordinating voter suppression efforts among the challenges that could make this election the most litigated in history with potential court fights across several states, the outcome unknown for days or even weeks after Election Day.
We’re going to keep an eye on election security all through the campaign with the help of our crack legal team, our chief legal analyst Dan Abrams, Kate Shaw, a professor of constitutional law at Cardozo Law School.
And, Kate, let me begin with you.
Everyone wants a safe election. Everyone wants a secure election. You want the country to be confident that the election results reflect the will of the voters. So that’s the goal.
What’s the most significant threat to that right now?
KATE SHAW, PROFESSOR, CARDOZO SCHOOL OF LAW: Oh, gosh, George, you know, there are a lot of possible nightmare scenarios. I mean you spoke earlier in the show about the possible threat of foreign interference. Obviously, some foreign powers are already working, it seems, to interfere with the election. So then I think there’s a question is what exactly that interference might look like. If we’re talking about, you know, hacking campaigns or even attempting to penetrating the apparatus of elections, voter databases and roles, you know, those things could pose a threat to the very legitimacy of our election.
Other kind of interference, things like the promotion of misinformation on social media, you know, they could violate the law but any legal action would probably be too late to take any effect. And so in some ways the intermediaries there are critical. So whether platforms like Twitter or FaceBook are going to be vigilant about identifying fraudulent accounts and misinformation and doing takedowns and purges is going to be really critical.
And then I think a lot of responsibility is actually going to lie with the American people, right? I think going into this final stretch of the campaign, it’s going to be really important to take a pretty skeptical view of political information that we see on social media knowing that the sources of it may not be reliable, and so taking all of it with a very serious grain of salt.
But I — you know, I don’t think any — you know, except for potential penetration of election equipment and systems, you know, none of that necessarily poses a threat to the legitimacy of the election. And there is a degree of messiness, even apart from foreign interference, basked into elections however they are conducted.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And — and, Dan, you know, the president has married the concerns about foreign interference with his concerns about mail-in balloting.
Let me play that for a second and then come to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The biggest risk that we have is mail-in ballots. It is a much easier thing for a foreign power, whether it’s Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, it’s much easier for them to forge ballots and send them in. It’s much easier for them to cheat with universal mail-in ballots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that a real concern?
DAN ABRAMS, ABC NEWS CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I don’t think that foreign interference with regard to mail-in ballots is the number one concern, or should be the number one concern out there.
Remember, when you’re talking about universal mail-in ballots, let’s be honest about what the issues are. Again and again you hear people say, well, you know, they get sent to places where no one’s — no one’s there anymore, they’ve moved or they’re not alive anymore. And those are real issues. But that’s not voter fraud, right? Voter fraud then is the person who decides they’re going to risk their freedom to take said ballot, falsify information, and then send it in.
This notion about foreign powers being able to take en masse, make up names, make up signatures, make up the exact kind of paper and the rest of the security issues that come in and for the people who are counting the votes to not recognize that those votes and those names and those addresses don’t match with what they have on the voter rolls, that’s a real long shot.
With that said, mail-in voting is and should be the number one concern, not necessarily because of fraud, but because all of the legal battles we’re seeing right now over how to count them.
When did they come in? Did they come in by election day? Did they come in after? Were they postmarked? Did they have the proper signatures?
It’s really more a question of undercounting rather than overcounting.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST: Yeah, I think, Kate, because that could extend Election Day far beyond Election Day if you have close votes in the battleground states, like Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania.
The president often cites what’s happened here in New York where it’s taken several weeks to count all the ballots, but it seems like the danger her is not that fake ballots will be counted but that the legitimate ballots won’t be counted.
KATE SHAW, CARDOZO SCHOOL OF LAW PROFESSOR: You know, I think that’s right. You know, I said very elections, the degree of messiness in the elections. And I think that, obviously, there were a lot of imperfections in the recent New York election.
But, you know, messiness is sort of inherent. There are long lines. There are confusing ballots — you know, ballots that are printed in confusing ways. There are delays in ballots arriving or returning on time.
And more often than not, that messiness actually ends up preventing eligible and eager voters from successfully casting their ballots. So, I think it’s right there. There’s more concern about a denial of meaningful access to the ballot in this cycle than somehow some manufactured fraud or widespread absentee ballot fraud concern.
But, again, all of this will I think it’s right to play out after the election. So there is litigation ongoing right now, and a lot of it mostly framed around the question of who gets to vote and how? You know, Democrats have obviously — obviously understand or believe that maximizing access to voting will be in their political interest, and Republican in some of these lawsuits seem to be broadcasting that they believe restricting access to mechanisms of voting will be in their electoral interest.
And, you know, that does say something. Think about the political coalitions, each party understands them. But all of that is sort of a litigation we are seeing play out now, after the fact, exactly as Dan said. That sort of debates will shift to mechanisms of counting.
Some these access expansion versus access restriction themes may play out in the post-election litigation. But it’s true, if it’s closed in a lot of these battleground states and in particular the states where you can’t even counting absentee ballots until election day, which is the case in a number of pivotal states, I think it’s very likely that we could see days if not weeks of counting, of recounting and then potential litigation play out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Dan, I’ve been sitting — reading all kinds of nightmare scenarios. Let me end with one for you, that in fact no one reaches a majority in the Electoral College by January 28th, when the term of the president and the vice president ends.
ABRAMS: You know, look, I think that’s very unlikely. I think that as we saw in Bush v. Gore in 2000, the courts can certainly expedite when they need to. They can basically demand and force the secretaries of state and the people counting the votes to move more quickly.
And they will say to them, look, if you don’t finish by X date, we’re no longer going to allow you to continue to count votes. I don’t see that being a significant concern. This is going to come down to, as Kate said, is this close? If it’s close, there’s going to be fights.
We’re already seeing the fights now on how the counting should occur, once the counting does occur, you’re going to see additional fights as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Dan Abrams, Kate Shaw, thanks very much. I’m sure we’re going to be back and talking to you many times during this season.
Roundtable is up next. We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I don’t think that who’s the vice president makes that much difference in the election. It’s about Joe Biden versus Donald Trump and that’s what the election’s about. Since Lyndon Johnson, I don’t think any vice president has ever made a positive difference, except from a negative standpoint, perhaps, Sarah Palin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Pelosi weighing in on Joe Biden’s pick.
Let’s talk about it now on our roundtable.
Joined by our chief political analyst, Matthew Dowd, Democratic strategist Paul Begala, author of the new book “You’re Fired: The Perfect Guide to Beating Donald Trump,” Republican strategist Alice Stewart, and Christina Greer, professor of political science at Fordham University. Her latest book is “Black Politics in Transition:
And I want to start by putting up the list of what seems to be the finalists for vice president now for Joe Biden. You have Kamala Harris, as we have mentioned, but you also have Val Demings, Susan Rice, Karen Bass, Elizabeth Warren, Gretchen Whitmer, and Tammy Duckworth. The only one we known was interviewed is Gretchen Whitmer.
But, Christina Greer, let me begin with you.
Is Speaker Pelosi right that this isn’t going to make much of a difference, or is there a price to pay if Biden doesn’t pick one of the black women?
CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Well, I think this does make a difference, because Joe Biden is 77 years old, and many voters are looking at the vice presidential nominee as someone who can step in and help repair and possibly clean up the damage that Donald Trump and his administration have done, but also looking at someone who could be the future of the party in 2024.
So, I agree with the speaker, in that Sarah Palin made a negative difference. But Joe Biden initially did say that he was going to choose a black woman. He backtracked just a little bit, and then said he would choose a woman.
But we do know that black women have been the foundation of the Democratic Party, might I even argue, of democracy these past few decades. And so it would send a very strong signal to the party that there is an appreciation of all the talent that black women in elite level positions have served, but also as the voting populace.
Now, I think that we face an existential crisis with the Trump administration. Therefore, if Joe Biden does not choose a black woman, I don’t think that black voters in particular will turn away from Biden or necessarily stay home.
But it will definitely send a message that the party recognizes that black people continue to contribute wins across all 50 states, but when it comes to executive level leadership or executive-plus level leadership, we have to yet again wait our turn.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Alice Stewart, we have seen the Trump campaign taking practice shots at everyone on the list.
ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, it’s easy to do. And that’s part of the political game that we play.
And I think Nate Silver hit the nail on the head. It’s still a guessing game at this point. There is generally, historically, more of a tendency to lean towards senators. I think Kamala Harris has a good shot.
She has gotten some beef within the Democratic Party because of how rough she was to Joe Biden in the debates. But that’s part of the process. It’s a blood sport.
But I don’t think whether it’s a female or a black female really makes a big difference. I don’t play into gender politics. I think you need the best person for the job, not the right race, color or gender for the job.
But the truth is, if Joe Biden is going to continue to run on the liberal policies of this current Democratic Party and get someone on board that supports the far left agenda of the Democratic Party, that is not going to work in the general election.
It certainly helped him in the primary for — to become the Democratic nominee. But where President Trump is and the — most of Americans, they want to see policies that support the markets, that support our economy, that supports education, and supports health care.
That is going to be where voters go in November, and it’s not the far left new face of the Democratic Party.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Matthew Dowd, does it matter, does the pick matter more this year because of Joe Biden’s age, number one, and because of how much the campaign has changed during the pandemic?
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we’re in such a time of disruption, I think it matters to a degree.
But I’m the one that sees it as there’s 87 days until Election Day, 88 days until Election Day. I think it’s going to matter for about five days, in the first few days after he picks and then the vice presidential debate.
After that, this election is almost fundamentally, George, about Donald Trump and the perception of Donald Trump and where people think the country is today, which is, we have got almost 80 percent of the country thinks we’re on the wrong track. A vast majority of the country disapproves of the president.
And until Donald Trump changes those dynamics, which he fundamentally has to — if he wants a legitimate shot, really, at winning this election, he has to change those things — who the vice president is and really fundamentally is what their attacks on Joe Biden are not going to matter until Donald Trump changes the perception of himself.
This is a much different election than 2016. It’s not an open seat. It’s a reelection seat. And every election race and all reelection races for the last 70 years have been decided upon the perception of the person running for reelection.
And that’s Donald Trump. And no president has ever been reelected with a net negative job approval rating. And Donald Trump right now is more akin to where Jimmy Carter was at this point in time than any president that’s been elected.
DOWD: So, it’ll matter for a few days, it will matter for governance, obviously, who vice president is in office and who that is in office, it will matter for Joe Biden’s legacy and how that continues on. But for the election it’s five days that’ll matter.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And one of the big questions, Paul Begala, is whether the president can change the perception of himself during this pandemic? One of the things you write about in your book is how the pandemic has changed just about everything.
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST AND AUTHOR: Well, it has, George. First, it’s great to see you. Thank you for having me on.
It has changed everything. It’s eliminated Trump’s two greatest superpowers. First, he’s made politics spectacle for a lot of his followers. Like it doesn’t really matter in your life, it’s just show biz (ph) for ugly people, has been said. No more.
Now it’s a life and death matter. In fact, we lost 1,240 souls yesterday to COVID. If that pace continues today, and there’s no reason to doubt it won’t, we’ll lose 52 during this broadcast alone. So there’s no time to worry about the show business theatricality Mr. Trump showed yesterday, for example, talking to his wealthy country club buddies at his country club. So that’s a first. Politics is no longer spectacle.
The second is, he’s lost his ability to divert the cameras. Gosh, he’s great at this. He can always diverse [ph]. When Hurricane Maria was destroying Puerto Rico, you know what Trump did? He didn’t help Puerto Rico. He attacked Colin Kaepernick, an African-American athlete for taking a knee during the National Anthem.
Now, I bet you he meant that racist attack. But, also, I know he was trying to divert the cameras. You can’t divert the cameras anymore when you’re losing a thousand people a day, God help us.
So, it’s [ph] — the only way for him to win is to get his arms around this God-awful plague and do his job, which means testing, it means tracing, it means isolation, it means treatment. And we’re not moving on any one of those four fronts.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Alice Stewart, we did see the president all this week trying to come out and give more press conferences again on the COVID crisis. We saw him putting out those executive orders yesterday, which seem like they’re going to draw a fair amount of fire, at least in the short-term. Is that enough for the president or does he have to get back to the negotiating table and actually get a bill through the Congress?
ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, to get a bill through Congress you need to get Congress to get together and talk about this. And I thought it was very telling at the top of the show, George, when Schumer said that what the president did yesterday was far too narrow. Well look what Pelosi and the Democrats have done is far too broad and too far from passage, that is not going to work for the American people.
If the Democrats want to win in the race to play Santa Claus and put all of their Liberal policies in a package that is supposed to help people who are affected by COVID, that’s going to be at the detriment of American people. This $600 that the Democrats wanted to continue to provide to Americans who have been displaced by this, that is not an incentive to get people off the couch and into work.
A study by the University of Chicago shows that this $600 the Democrats wanted to continue to provide people who are unemployed is more than a lot of people make when they’re actually at work, that provides zero incentives for these people to go and get a job.
Republicans are being wise and being thoughtful in this. And it’s better to provide incentives for people to get back to work, tax cuts for those who need it and instead of paying people not to work, which is exactly what the Democrats want to do, it’s part of their playbook and it’s not going to work in terms of turning the economy around and putting a relief in the pockets of those who are deeply affected by COVID.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the other things that, Christina Greer, the Democrats are fighting for in this pandemic package is money for the postal service. So much concern that delays — that because of defunding in the postal service, you’re going to have delays in getting those mail-in ballots in, which could cause based on our — as you heard in our last panel, real chaos come election day in the counting of the ballots.
GREER: Right. I mean that’s a real threat. I mean we also have to remember that the U.S. Postal Service employs a vast majority of black middle-class workers, it’s always been an employment sector to help people move into the middle class.
So that is actually not just a threat to our democracy and our voting, but also it is an economic issue. I mean when voters go to the polls, they’re actually thinking about, am I better [ph] off now than I was four years ago? And many voters will say, absolutely not because of education, because of health, because of COVID, because there are no jobs to actually go to.
People do want to work. I agree with that. But there’s nothing to go to. There’s so many industries that have been destroyed and decimated. So the real threat to our democracy also is that the president is setting the stage such that — he’s saying that there will be fraud at the United States Postal Service but we know the president has voted by absentee ballot, as has most members of his family and his cabinet.
And so by defunding the postal service it’s a direct attack on our November 3rd elections and we should actually really pay attention to not just the leadership at the postal service but all 50 states that are really struggling with how they’ll actually be able to have a successful election season with very few resources from the Federal Government.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Matthew Dowd, one of the things that’s hampering the Republican strategy as they go through these economic talks during the crisis is divisions among Republicans on things like the payroll tax, on how much to spend. You would — you would think the president would be doing everything he possibly could to get money approved now if — because he can’t afford to have this, what he had hoped for, a v-shaped recovery flatten out in September, October, November.
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it identifies, George — this whole discussion identifies, the president has really no theory of governance and it’s no really fundamental ideology in my view. I don’t think this is going to be an election about liberal versus conservative because I think those terms have become meaningless in today’s era.
The president isn’t a conservative, as you watch him on various policies. But he has really no theory of governance. And when was asked what he was going to do in his next — in the next four years if he was re-elected, he had no answer to that question. And I think part of that is, is because he is on a shoot from the hip sort of daily basis, picking one thing and picking the other.
I think that Republicans have really struggled in this era of Donald Trump to figure out who is or what is the way they want to govern and what is their fundamental philosophy of an approach to a country. And, while, obviously, we’re facing two fundamental crises at this time, I think that’s what this identifies, is the president doesn’t have a clear, consistent theory of government, like Ronald Reagan did, like George W. Bush did, even like Barack Obama did, and Bill Clinton did. The president is missing that piece. And running for re-election without a philosophy or theory of government and without a plan of what you’re going to do in the next four years makes it very difficult for him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Paul Begala, do the Democrats risk overplaying their hands in these negotiations?
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST AND AUTHOR, “YOU’RE FIRED”: No. No. People are hurting. And people want help. I mean, it’s music to the years. I love Alice, but when she accuses the Democrats of being Santa Claus, I mean, my God, they don’t need Santa Claus, they need emergency responders.
And — and, in fact, there’s one thread on this that I think Democrats really have to focus on. And God bless Joe Biden, he did, and that’s Social Security, right?
Last night Joe sent out a tweet, and he said this, today, Donald Trump stated that if re-elected he’ll undermine the entire financial footing of Social Security. This cessation, suspension of the payroll tax would cut the funding of Social Security, which is already being cut, of course, because of the recession. We’re collecting less revenue in payroll taxes. So when you — when you do that, you’re cutting Social Security.
Democrats need to know this in their bones. They need to have this in their cells, in the cytoplasm of their cells. They need to know that if they communicate to people that Donald Trump, in his last two budgets, proposed cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid by $2 trillion, now he’s doing it again as part of a so-called emergency Covid package, that he’s bragged about it again and again. I mean I — I’m sorry to be Nostredamus, but I had this — I had this in my book. There’s an entire chapter about Trump wanting to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. And I tell the Democrats, that chapter is called, this chapter will beat Trump I guarantee it. Joe Biden seems to knows that, that’s why he jumped all over that last night.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Alice Stewart, you get the final 20 seconds.
ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, thank you.
And — and in Paul’s great book, I encourage people to read, he talks about division and who is sewing division in this country. It’s not President Trump, it’s the Democrats who are refusing to come to the table and have a conversation. That divides Americans who need relief on Covid.
Look, the people of this country want to go back to work. They need a lifeline, not a hammock. And that’s exactly what the Democrats are providing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all we have time for today.
Thank you all.
Thanks to all of you at home for watching.
Have a great day.