A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, October 10, 2021 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the “This Week” transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” starts right now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC “THIS WEEK” ANCHOR (voice-over): Punt.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Well, I understand why Republican leadership blinked, but I wish they hadn’t.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We will have another bite at this apple, and we need to decide who we are and what we believe.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congress averts a debt disaster, only to set up a December showdown over government funding and Biden’s agenda, as the economy stalls.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right now, things in Washington, as you all know, are awfully noisy. But when you take a step back and look at what’s happening, we’re actually making real progress.
STEPHANOPOULOS: This morning, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, a “This Week” exclusive.
Blowing the whistle.
FRANCES HAUGEN, FORMER FACEBOOK PRODUCT MANAGER: I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Facebook under fire, as a former employee reveals the social platform’s priorities.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Facebook and big tech are facing a big tobacco moment.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Facebook executive Nick Clegg responds live.
Plus: an ABC News exclusive.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, here’s the difference. Hillary conceded. I never conceded, never.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
STEPHANOPOULOS: New details on President Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election, as he orders loyalists to refuse subpoenas in the January 6 investigation.
Our powerhouse roundtable weighs in, with exclusive new reporting from chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s “This Week.”
Here now, George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to “This Week,” a week of cliffhangers in Washington, the economy at stake.
Default has been avoided for now. Just enough Republicans joined Democrats to extend the debt ceiling until December, when deadlines on the debt, government funding and the president’s investment agenda will converge, what could be a make-or-break for the Biden’s presidency and America’s economy.
All this poses tough challenges for our headliner, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Good morning, Madam Secretary.
JANET YELLEN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Good morning. Thanks for the invitation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, we all dodged a bullet this week.
But Senator McConnell has warned President Biden that Republicans won’t help next time on the debt limit. I want to read part of this letter to President Biden — quote — “I will not be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of Democratic mismanagement. Your lieutenants on Capitol Hill now have the time they claimed they lacked to address the debt ceiling through stand-alone reconciliation and all the tools to do it.”
What are the consequences if he keeps his word?
YELLEN: Well, it is absolutely imperative that we raise the debt ceiling.
Debt’s necessary, not to fund any new spending programs, but to pay the bills that result from Congress’ past decisions. A group of business and community leaders met with President Biden and me last week to talk about the disastrous impact it would have for the first time America not paying its bills.
Fifty million Americans wouldn’t receive Social Security payments, would be put at risk. Our troops won’t know when or if they would be paid. The 30 million families that receive a child tax credit, those payments would be in jeopardy.
And the nation’s credit rating would be in jeopardy as well. U.S. treasuries are the world’s safest possible asset. That would be at risk as well. And that really underpins the reserve status, currency status of the dollar.
So, there is an enormous amount at stake. A failure to raise the debt ceiling would probably cause a recession and could even result in a financial crisis.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you…
YELLEN: It would be a catastrophe.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, you know, Madam Secretary, we have seen this cycle so many times. At some point votes, the votes just aren’t going to be there. Congress is going to make a mistake, a miscalculation.
I know you support eliminating the debt limit. Have you convinced the president to back you on that?
YELLEN: Well, look, it is really up to Congress.
I — yes, I have said I support, personally, getting rid of the debt ceiling. I believe that, once Congress and the administration have decided on spending plans and tax plans, it’s simply their responsibility to pay the bills that result from that.
And that means we have had deficits for most of the post-war period. And that means raising the debt ceiling. It is a housekeeping chore. There is really — we should be debating the government’s fiscal policy when we decide on those expenditures and taxes…
STEPHANOPOULOS: You call it…
YELLEN: … not when the credit card bill from — comes due.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You call it a housekeeping chore. Others say it’s a charade at this point.
Why not consider alternatives? You know, several members of Congress have recommended this trillion dollar coin.
YELLEN: Well, I wouldn’t be supportive of a trillion dollar coin. I think it’s a gimmick. And it jeopardizes the independence of the Federal Reserve. You would be asking to essentially print money to cover the deficit. This is a responsibility. It’s a shared bipartisan responsibility. It’s been raised almost 70 times since 1965, almost always on a bipartisan basis. And no one party is responsible for the need to do this. I believe it should be a shared responsibility, not the responsibility of any one party.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about invoking the 14th Amendment as justification for continued borrowing? The text is pretty clear, the validity of the public debt of the United States should not be questioned. Why not invoke that?
YELLEN: Well, because it’s Congress’ responsibility to show that they have the determination to pay the bills that the government amasses. We shouldn’t be in a position where we need to consider whether or not the 14th Amendment applies. That’s a disastrous situation that the country shouldn’t be in.
I wouldn’t want to see the president or myself faced with the decision about what to do if Congress refuses to let us pay the government’s bills. You know what should you pay first? That’s not a — we have to reassure the world that the United States is fiscally responsible, and that they can count on us to pay our bills. And that’s Congress’ job to do that on a bipartisan basis.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, you know, there’s a pretty decent — you don’t want to be there, but there’s a pretty decent chance you’re going to be there on December 3rd. Is invoking the 14th Amendment on the table if Congress doesn’t act?
YELLEN: I don’t believe any president has ever had to make a decision about what they would do if Congress failed to raise the debt ceiling. I can’t imagine our being there on December 3rd. I have confidence that Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer will be able to manage this so that we don’t face this situation.
This would be a self-manufactured crisis that affects our economy at a time when we’re recovering from the pandemic, we have a fragile recovery. It would be completely irresponsible and a self-inflicted wound that would affect businesses and households and the global economy and the status of the U.S. in the world. We shouldn’t ever be in that position.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Of course tied to this is the president’s Build Back Better plan as well. Democrats are negotiating over the size of that plan right now, trying to get an agreement over around $2 trillion rather than the $3.5 trillion that President Biden proposed. Is the best way to do that by eliminating whole programs or trimming everything?
YELLEN: Well, you know, different people, different members of Congress have different views on that. And there are active discussions taking place now among members of Congress, among Democrats with the White House, and we’re trying to figure out what is the best way to construct a package that would have huge payoffs for America, would not only address our hard infrastructure needs, roads, bridges, ports, railroads, infrastructure for the electric grid, to promote — to enable us to address climate change, but also programs that would really help children succeed, help families succeed, participate in the labor force, the Child Tax Credit, child care, early childhood education, community colleges. These are all important programs and they’re going to be hard choices to negotiate in the coming weeks.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Manchin has proposed means testing some of the programs. Is that the best way to go or do you need to make them universally available so they have stronger support?
YELLEN: Well, there is a trade-off there. We know that programs that are universal have tended to be long lasting and very popular. But there is also an argument for, you know, making sure that the highest income Americans perhaps don’t get the benefit of a program that is most needed by those with lower income. And, you know, even with the Child Tax that we’re sending monthly checks now, there are limits, income limits for receiving those.
STEPHANOPOULOS: At some point, isn’t the president and you — aren’t you going to have to weigh in on these arguments, on these disagreements?
YELLEN: We’re working and talking with members of Congress. And, you know, this is healthy give-and-take that’s going on right now among Democrats with different points of view on this. We do have a limit on the amount that we can spend and there are hard trade-offs that are going to have to be made.
But I think everyone realizes, all the Democrats in Congress, that this is an historic opportunity that we have to invest in this — in this country, to address some long-standing structural problems that have been holding back American families, making their lives difficult, making it hard for children to succeed, and making business more competitive, putting in place the investments that we need in this economy to help us — to help us compete.
And I believe that Democrats will come together and do what’s necessary and take advantage of this opportunity.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the big —
YELLEN: It’s important they do so.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the big changes you do support is this global minimum tax, the 15 percent global minimum tax. This week, over 130 nations now support it.
Are you confident this will be included in the package, that Congress can get this passed?
YELLEN: Yes. It’s — I am confident that what we need to do to come into compliance with the minimum tax will be included in a reconciliation package. I hope that we — that it will be passed and we will be able to reassure the world that the United States will do its part.
This is really an historic agreement. It’s something that is very important for American workers to stop what’s been a decades-long race to the bottom on corporate taxation, where countries try to cut their taxes to attract our businesses, to make it harder to keep jobs in the United States.
We should be competing on the basis of our strengths, of our people, of our ability to innovate, of our institutions, and not a race to the bottom that simply deprives all countries, the United States and other countries that participate in this race, of the resources we need to invest in our people and our economies.
And this agreement to place a halt on how low tax rates can go so that all of us have the opportunity to collect tax revenue from successful corporations, and not just from workers. This is really something we need to make globalization work and to make it work for American workers.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Madam Secretary, thanks for your time this morning.
YELLEN: Thank you for having me, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about this now. On our roundtable, joined by Chris Christie, Donna Brazile, “New York Times” Washington correspondent Maggie Haberman, and Julie Pace, the new executive editor of “The Associated Press”.
Chris, let me begin with you.
You heard Janet Yellen say she wishes the debt limit would go away. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen anytime soon. But this cycle is getting ridiculous.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, a couple of things. I mean, first, I agree with the secretary, in this respect — this should be an argument we’re having regarding spending, up front, not paying the debt after you do the spending. And I think that Congress on both sides of the aisle have failed to do that over the last number of years, certainly that happened in the Obama administration, happened in the Trump administration, and it’s now happening in the Biden administration.
But secondly, you know, there’s all this talk about people wanting bipartisanship. But there were two examples, George, of when Republicans have actually come over to help Democrats on issues. You’ve had the infrastructure bill in the Senate. You had 19 Republican senators come with the Democrats. And now you had the debt ceiling, where 10 came to extend the debt ceiling.
And both times, Democratic leadership has smacked back at Republicans. On the infrastructure bill, a vote was promised by Nancy Pelosi, she broke that promise. And now, right after the 10 votes, Chuck Schumer goes to the floor to absolutely excoriate the Republican Party.
If we want to encourage bipartisanship, after people actually do it, kicking them in the face is not the way to get them to want to do it again. And what Chuck Schumer did, this week, is going to make December 3rd a much deeper crisis. It’s a sign of his immaturity, and it’s a sign of his own concern about his own left and his own primary next year.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You can argue about whether he should have given the speech, but do you really think that’s why Mitch McConnell is saying he’s not going to provide (INAUDIBLE)?
CHRISTIE: No, what it does is politically — you know this, it makes it easier for him to do it. If Chuck Schumer got out on that floor and made a gracious speech, where he said, I want to thank the 10 Republicans who came over here and did it, the rest of you are irresponsible, but you 10, you did something great for the country, he’s now made it easy for McConnell to send that letter and easy for Republicans to now say, to hell with you. Now you’ve got all the time you want, you do it.
DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Chris, it’s too early to send a valentine card to Mitch McConnell or anybody else because, look, the truth is, is that 97 percent of the debt occurred before Joe Biden took office. Let’s — let’s — let’s look at it as simple people. If you and I went out and had a good meal, you know, and, you know, from appetizers to dessert and hopefully some wine because you’re taking me out, right?
CHRISTIE: Right. I got it.
BRAZILE: I mean can you imagine two of us getting up and walking out without paying the tab?
CHRISTIE: Absolutely not.
BRAZILE: That’s what’s going on with this debt ceiling.
CHRISTIE: That’s — but — but, Donna —
BRAZILE: That’s the issue, Chris. And we — and we should put it over the —
CHRISTIE: But, you know, if you put —
BRAZILE: The national interest should come — should be above the petty partisan fights that we have every day.
CHRISTIE: It — it should be. But, you know what, if you had said to me, I’m going to split the bill with you 50/50, I wouldn’t then kick you all the way to the door and call you cheap and say you were no good. And that’s what Chuck Schumer did.
BRAZILE: But — but — but —
CHRISTIE: So my point is, Republicans did what they had to do, 10 Republicans came over, did the procedural vote, and in return what Chuck Schumer said is, you’re awful.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Julie Pace, I want to bring you in on this.
Janet Yellen saying she’s pretty confident Democrats are going to solve this in December, but she’s still resisting this idea that somehow the administration just takes this off the table.
JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: I think this is really emblematic of the Biden administration’s approach to so many of the things before them right now. You know, they want Washington to work. They want to work through the proper channels. They firmly believe that this is Congress’ responsibility. And so even when they look toward December, where it’s hard to imagine that we don’t end up right back in this exact same place, you know, they really don’t want to signal that they’re going to take extraordinary measures.
If we get into that situation and we don’t have Republicans who are going to step forward to try to help them get this over the finish line, it is certainly possible they would have to go to some of these tools. But Joe Biden’s position always is going to be, this is Congress’ responsibility, and I want Washington to work, even when the evidence is that Washington is not working.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Maggie, we’re certainly seeing that on the negotiations or the Build Back Better plan as well. You saw Janet Yellen right there. The administration doesn’t want to come in and say, here’s our best plan, take this.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: No, Biden is leaving all options open in a number of different fronts. And as Julie said, he’s an institutionalist. He does not want to blow up what we have seen happen in Congress for many, many, many decades. And I understand that.
I think the — the challenge for them is going to be, is this a really different moment, as a number of Democrats believe that it is. Is this an extraordinary time as Democrats candidly have said over and over again for the last five years. What we heard throughout the Trump era was, this is an extraordinary time, this is a reason for extraordinary measures.
Biden himself talked about that to some extent. I mean he also offered olive branches to Republicans. But I do think that there is a — a meet between what Democrats have been saying and the realities of this moment. We’re going to have to see where that goes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And I want to take that to Donna Brazile because, Donna, I mean maybe — maybe I’m a creature of my own times, thinking back to the 1990s, but $2 trillion would still be a massive victory for Joe Biden and the Democrats.
BRAZILE: Huge. Huge. Yes, over ten years. Look, Joe Biden — President Biden is negotiating with multiple Democrats. I think it’s time the Democrats come together, figure out the scale and scope of what it is that we are asking the American people to pay for, and just take this opportunity to rebuild the middle class, to strengthen our economy, and to go — go big and go home.
This — this argument, each and every day about the money, the sausage-making, that’s one of the reasons why people are losing respect for what — what’s happening in Washington. They don’t want to hear about all of this sausage-making.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris —
BRAZILE: They want to know what’s on the menu.
Chris, do you think the Democrats get this done and how much difference will it make in protecting them in the midterms?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I think they will get something done. I just think it’s impossible to think that they’ll walk away, like you said, from $1.5 trillion or $2 trillion. I mean I — you know, it’s incredible. I — you know, I don’t go back as far as the ’90s thinking about this. I just go back to President Obama. When he did an $800 billion recovery package in the midst of a much worse economy than what we’re dealing with right now, everyone said it was outlandish and crazy, and now they’re walking away from $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion, more than two times that? They won’t walk away from it. There will be a deal that will be made here eventually.
But whether it will protect them in the midterms or not, George, I’m very skeptical about that because I don’t think that the American people are going to be able to see whatever results they think they’re going to get from this. They won’t see it in time for November of 2022. And there’s going to be a whole bunch of other things going on here. COVID will still be around or not, how will they be seen as being effective on that. A hundred ninety four thousand jobs this week, not exactly what people were expecting. And if those things don’t improve, no matter what they vote for and what number is attached to it, they’re going to have problems in 20 —
STEPHANOPOULOS: Go ahead.
HABERMAN: This is the big challenge for Biden. He’s going to spend this whole year fighting to get some package finished and the number, the top line number will be really massive. But a lot of that spending is not going to be implemented next year.
So he’s going to be out there trying to argue for why he spent this time focused on this issue and a lot of Americans won’t have felt concrete benefits of it. And that is a really difficult messaging challenge for them right now. And I do think that they have to worry about this going into the midterms next year. How will Americans feel about what they benefitted from all of this sausage making that we have seen in Washington?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Maggie, he’s fighting for it at a time when the president’s poll numbers now dip below 40 percent for the first time this week.
PACE: Yes. Look, I mean he is — he is facing significant headwinds. Now, that could change. Look, there’s a very, as you know, narrow majority for Democrats. This was always go to be a tough fight next year. But I do think that there has been a convergence of factors that have made this much harder for Biden.
Seeing Independents drift away from him has been a huge problem. I don’t know that they can recoup this enough toward next year. And this is where the fact that Biden sort of has a foot in each camp ideologically within the Democratic party, in Congress, with what he’s fighting for right now, that is also a challenge. It may end up that he can triangulate that, but it’s tricky.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, we got to take another break. You guys are going to come back. But when we come back, committee investigating the January 6th insurrection is closing in on Donald Trump and his team. Constitutional clash is coming and Jon Karl joins us live with exclusive reporting from his new book.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As everybody here knows, my new slogan was going to be “Make America” — remember this, remember — it was supposed to be something a little different than “Make America Great.” It was supposed to be “Keep America Great.” But America’s not great right now. So we’re using the same slogan. “Make America Great Again.” And we may even add to it, but we’ll keep it “Make America Great Again” again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Donald Trump in Iowa last night as we learn more this week about the former president’s actions ahead of the January 6th insurrection. Chief Washington Correspondent Jon Karl has new reporting on that day in his new book “Betrayal.” He joins us live after this report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While the Capitol was invaded by his supporters, Donald Trump remained out of sight at the White House.
Establishing what exactly he was doing is a central goal of the January 6 investigation in the House. The committee has demanded a mountain of confidential documents related to what Trump, his top aides and members of his family were up to during the riot.
On Friday, President Biden ordered the National Archives to turn over a batch of those documents. While presidents of both parties have long fought to protect executive privilege, which allows a president to keep deliberations with aides confidential, Biden’s White House counsel said, in this case: “President Biden has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States.”
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He believes it to be of the utmost importance for both Congress and the American people to have a complete understanding of the events of that day to prevent them from happening again.
KARL: Trump is vowing to fight in court, asserting the documents must remain confidential and issuing an angry statement against what he called a fake investigation.
For my upcoming book “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show,” I spoke to several people who were in contact with Trump during the riot. Trump, the sources say, was watching TV in his private dining room. He liked what he saw. He boasted about the size of the crowd, and he argued with aides who wanted him to call in his supporters to stop the rioting.
I learned more details about Kevin McCarthy’s call to Trump as the rioters tried to storm the House chamber. According to a source familiar with the call, McCarthy, frustrated at Trump’s indifference to what was happening, said — quote — “I just got evacuated from the Capitol. There were shots fired right off the House floor. You need to make this stop.”
The source said Trump pushed back, saying — quote — “They are just more upset than you because they believe it more than you, Kevin, “referring to the lie that the election had been stolen.
After the riot had been under way for some two hours, Trump finally agreed to make a video statement. In that message, he reluctantly agreed to ask his supporters to go home, but he also praised them.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We love you. You’re very special.
KARL: In “Betrayal,” I revealed that an aide who was present for the video recording told me: “Trump had to tape the message several times before they got it right. And in earlier rejected versions, Trump neglected to tell supporters to leave the Capitol.”
Those video outtakes are precisely the kind of thing that could help the committee establish Trump’s state of mind during the riot.
Also this week, a Senate report documented alarming new details about the way Trump attempted to use the Justice Department to steal the presidential election. Attorney General Bill Barr refused to go along, infuriating Trump, when he said in early December there was no widespread fraud.
TRUMP: Well, he hasn’t done anything. So, he hasn’t looked. They haven’t looked very hard, which is a disappointment, to be honest with you.
KARL: After Barr left in mid-December, the report says Trump pressured acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to do his bidding, but he too refused.
Rosen told the Senate committee he said to Trump that the Justice Department — quote — “can’t and won’t just flip a switch and change the election.” In response, Trump asked DOJ — quote — “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”
In late December, the former president turned to Jeffrey Clark, a lawyer with no experience in election law, but who promised to declare — without evidence — that there was widespread voter fraud and to pressure contested states to reverse Biden’s victory.
Clark also brought in new conspiracy theory to the cocktail of falsehoods. As detailed in “Betrayal,” two sources familiar with Clark’s actions told me he “believed that wireless thermostats made in China for Google by a company called Nest Labs might have been used to manipulate voting machines in Georgia. The idea was nuts, but it intrigued Trump, who asked the director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, to look into it.”
At a dramatic three-hour Oval Office meeting on January 3, Trump said he wanted to make Clark acting attorney general. Rosen told the committee that Trump said — quote — “One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do anything to overturn the election.”
Trump was then told that every senior DOJ official would resign if he went through with his plan, as well as White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who said Trump’s plan amounted to a murder-suicide pact. Reluctantly, Trump backed down.
KARL: I spoke to three people present for that extraordinary meeting in the Oval Office.
I am told that, once Trump realized that he would face mass resignations at the Justice Department and simply could not fire Rosen, that he turned over to the dejected and rejected Stuart Clark, and he asked Rosen: “What are you going to do to him now?”
And Rosen said: “Ah, there are no hard feelings. You are the only one who can fire him.”
So, George, after Jeffrey Clark tried and failed to engineer a coup at the Justice Department, he kept his job.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Jon, extraordinary reporting there, showing pretty clearly the president was doing everything he thought he could to overturn the election going into January 6.
And now he’s doing everything he can to fight the investigation as well, trying to invoke executive privilege.
Steve Bannon, one of those associates, who says he’s not going to comply with congressional subpoena.
But it’s hard to see how executive privilege applies to somebody who wasn’t working in the White House.
KARL: Yeah, this is the first time it’s ever been tried. It’s basically saying that anybody that Don — that the president reached out to and talked to would be covered by executive privilege because he was getting advice.
And, George, it’s significant that as Bannon refuses to comply with this subpoena, his lawyer is saying, explicitly, that he’s doing so at the instructions of Donald Trump. Donald Trump who just earlier this week said that he had no problem, or suggested he would have no problem seeing his people testify is now through his lawyers saying that he doesn’t want any of them to talk to the committee.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Jon Karl, thanks very much.
The book “Betrayal” comes out, when, November 16th?
KARL: November 16th and much more to come.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Jon Karl, thanks.
Up next, the roundtable is back. Plus, Facebook responds to a tough week of revelations.
Stay with us.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable is ready for more. We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I know the media wants to distract from the Biden administration’s failed agenda by focusing on one day in January. They want to use that one day to try and demean the — the — the character and intentions of 74 million Americans.
For our part, I — I truly believe we all ought to remain completely focused on the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: ABC “THIS WEEK” ANCHOR: Mike Pence talking about one day in January when his life was in danger. Of course, that was January 6th, as he maneuvers for a possible run in 2024. Want to talk about that here on our roundtable.
But Maggie Haberman, as our resident Trump expert, let me begin with you.
We saw the president in Iowa — former president in Iowa last night, making no pretense about wanting to run again.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I think what you’re going to hear him do is some strange dance between talking about the future, make America great again again and his sloganeering, but he can’t stop talking about the past. And that’s the one thing that I think is striking about Pence — Pence’s statement, which we should note, I think that people are focused on January 6th because January 6th was a horrible day, not because they’re trying to demean Trump supporters.
But Trump is focused on looking backwards to a degree that his party does not want him to. But many members of his party, not everybody, many members of his party are not willing to say to him, this is not the way forward.
Pence is not saying it directly to him. I think the number of voices who are willing to do that have so far been very view.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Julie Pace, not only not willing to say it to him. I was struck yesterday, Chuck Grassley, senior senator from Iowa at 88 years old, he’s running again for the Senate, he criticized the insurrection of January 6th, but was standing there front and center with the president yesterday as he talked about the election fraud and the election lies.
JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Kim Reynolds as well, the governor, Republican governor of Iowa. I mean you — this is a party that is not only not willing to say to Trump, stop talking about January 6th or the election, they’re openly embracing him as he does that, as he continues to peddle false information, lies about what happened in the election. They are standing with him because they know that he is reflective of where the base of the party is right now. And I think if Trump, you know, does continue this dance, moving forward, he’s going to continue to hold other Republicans on the sidelines who would like to maybe get out there and challenge for the nomination, but he’s also going to continue to keep that part of the party mobilized and alive and believing again in an event that didn’t happen. That election was free and fair and Joe Biden won. And Trump continues to keep a lot of Americans believing otherwise.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is he winning this fight?
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I don’t think so because I think any politician, good politician, experienced politician knows that every election is about tomorrow, not about yesterday. And so the idea that somehow the 2024 election is going to be about 2020, in any way to me, is just not going to happen.
Now, it also is true that we are not yet nine months away from Donald Trump leaving office. We’re just nine months away from January 6th. And we have this instant gratification society that wants everything done and cleaned up and finished now. That’s not the way life works. Anything that’s worth doing is worth work. And work is going to take time. And that’s what’s going to happen inside the Republican Party, it’s going to take time for this to be done.
And I’m glad to be able to say that last night I didn’t watch the rally. Like most normal — like most normal Americans, I was watching Texas A&M beat Alabama last night, which I think was much more newsworthy to most Americans than a rally by a former president in an early caucus state.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna, meanwhile, the president — Chris is talking about the timeline. It’s pretty clear that one of the things we’re seeing going on with this whole January 6th investigation, this invocation of executive privilege, trying to stall, is to try to figure out a way to prevent that investigation from being completed before the midterms so Republicans come back in control.
DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Delay, delay, delay. That is the tactic that we’re going to see over and over again as Steve Bannon, of all people, basically says, Donald Trump says I have executive privilege. Well, if he has executive privilege, you have it, I have it, we all have it. I mean the guy wasn’t even working in the White House during the January 6 insurrection.
Look, the Democrats are going to go hard on this, along with the Republicans who are on that committee. They are not going to allow Mr. Trump and the others to obstruct Congress. They’re going to take this, if necessary, to the floor and get a criminal citation. I look at you not for criminal, but because you’re my lawyer here. No, baby, I got you, I got you. But a criminal contempt.
I mean, George, this is a split screen. You got the Democratic Party trying to save the country, create 5 million jobs over the last eight months, trying to help this economy. And you got the Republicans in this denial, denial. It is king — it is king Donald Trump, who will not concede.
That was the biggest line last night, Chris, 90 minutes, I know, Alabama, I agree with you, but 90 minutes of just going over and over again, he hates Mitch McConnell, he hates Joe Biden, he hates Kamala Harris, he wants to run against Stacey Abrams and, oh, by the way, George, you’ll like this one, he wants Iowa, the caucuses, to go first again (inaudible) —
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I’m going to come back to you on the Democrats on that but —
CHRISTIE: Let me just say one thing real quick on this. Again, the one area that bothers me is that when we — when there was a (inaudible) that tried to be set up and Nancy Pelosi decided that certain members of the Republican Party weren’t allowed to be on the committee, she makes it easy at times, Donna, for Republicans to do that.
If in fact she had permitted McCarthy, as is always the case as you know for the minority leader to put on the members he wanted to put on, you wouldn’t have President Trump being able to say the things he’s saying about Liz Cheney or about the others on the committee. And so part of it is they say they want bipartisanship, but only bipartisanship on their terms.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me — let me bring that to Maggie Haberman, part of the — the counterargument to that is that the people Kevin McCarthy wanted to appoint were explicit about wanting to subvert the work of the committee.
HABERMAN: Right. I think there’s a third way here, so to speak, George, which is that I think if Democrats had moved faster — and it’s hard not to look back at this and wonder if they had moved faster on a commission a — or a select committee closer to the actual event, would there have still been more energy, would it had been easier to get Republicans on board because there was still so much intensity around it. I do think the intensity around it has diminished it.
I think that for those of us in the media and those of us who were either in Washington that day, which I was not, or colleagues who were, experienced it differently than say the average American. And so I think in the public consciousness it has changed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And part of this — part of that shows, Julie Pace, the hold that Donald Trump still has over the party.
PACE: Because it is remarkable. To Maggie’s point, there was a moment coming out of January 6th where you had Republicans who really did feel like Trump had pushed this too far, like he needed to not just leave office, but he needed to be pushed aside. The way in which that dynamic has shifted has been really remarkable this year.
HABERMAN: Well, can I just say one thing too? I was thinking about this when Donna was talking about there is going to be an effort to try to get a criminal referral, I don’t know then what DOJ does, right?
So if you’re Donald Trump, and we’ve watched him do this over and over, he is always going to push to see how far he can get away with something. And at a certain point if people are sticking by rules that generally go to a point, but don’t really, you know, end in a measure and accountability, the lesson he takes and that his supporters take is, see, I can just do this again next time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It is going to be —
HABERMAN: And that’s the thing — but it’s two separate conversations going on and at the end of the day, he is trying to set this up where, you know, he wins either way. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. But that’s how he’s going to see it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It is going to be a real test though for Merrick Garland.
Chris Christie, let me put this you. He’s been resistant to inject the Justice Department into a lot of these battles. Although this week he did, and the president did make it clear that they were not going to abide by these executive privilege claims. Is it conceivable to you that Merrick Garland would actually act on a criminal referral of this?
CHRISTIE: Yeah, it is. I mean, look, I think what the Justice Department has to get back to, and hasn’t been there for quite some time in my view, not just in this administration, or in the last one, but in the one before that, I don’t think the Justice Department has been what it’s needed to be since the Bush 43 administration.
You need to look at the facts, and you need to make a decision based on the facts and the law and act. And if you do so consistently with the law, that most of the American people will respect you. I think that’s what Merrick Garland has got to decide to do. And I think he hurt himself this week with some of the stuff he’s doing regarding parents and education, makes him look partisan. I think he needs to get back to what the Justice Department is supposed to do, which is dispassionately look at the facts, like they did after 9/11, like the Ashcroft Justice Department did then, and I think that’s the way they have to go and do it. And if he does it that then he has an opportunity to do something important for the country.
BRAZILE: Chris, no teacher should be threatened simply because he or she is trying to do their job. No school board —
CHRISTIE: It depends on what you —
BRAZILE: — member. And — and — a threat — a threat is not
CHRISTIE: — call a threat, Donna. A parent standing up for what they want —
BRAZILE: No, a threat — a threat is —
CHRISTIE: — is not a threat. No.
BRAZILE: — when you verbally assault someone and threaten their lives, which is happening across this country.
CHRISTIE: And you know what, Donna? That should be…
BRAZILE: And I’m so glad that the Justice Department decided to take a position on that.
CHRISTIE: Well, let me just say this.
The Justice Department can individually in each U.S. attorney’s office investigate those things. We don’t need broad political pronouncements from the White House and the Justice Department. It politicizes the Justice Department.
BRAZILE: It’s a continuation of January 6, and we should not allow that to happen.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all the time we have for today.
We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEB HAALAND, U.S. INTERIOR SECRETARY: I’m honored to be the first Native American U.S. Cabinet secretary and fully understand my responsibility to future generations and indigenous peoples everywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: I saw Facebook repeatedly encounter conflicts between its own profits and our safety. Facebook consistently resolved these conflicts in favor of its own profits. The result has been more division, more harm, more lies, more threats, and more combat. In some cases, this dangerous online talk has led to actual violence that harms and even kills people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen on Capitol Hill this week, sparking new calls to take action against the social media giant.
Here to respond, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg.
Nick, thanks for joining us again this morning.
You know, that testimony struck a chord in Congress and the country, rare bipartisan calls for action against Facebook.
Will the revelations this week lead to any changes at all in the way Facebook does business?
NICK CLEGG, FACEBOOK VICE PRESIDENT OF GLOBAL AFFAIRS: Well, we will, of course, seek to make ourselves ever more transparent, so people can hold us to account. We understand that with success comes responsibility, comes criticism, comes scrutiny, comes responsibility, and that’s why we’re, you know, the first Silicon Valley company to set up an independent oversight board that independently adjudicate on these difficult content decisions.
We are about to, by the way, subject the data that we publish every 12 weeks on the content that we take down to independent audit. Again, no one has done that before, because we realize we need to be held to account.
Secondly, we, of course, are going to always work to do more to keep people safe on our platform. We’re the third of the world’s population, our platform. Of course, you see the good, the bad and the ugly, you know, show up on Facebook.
Our job is to reduce and mitigate the bad and amplify the good, and we’re going to do more of that. So, for instance, we’ve announced recently that we’re going to give new tools to adults, parents, so they can supervise what their teens are doing online.
And third, I say, we want to give users more control. We already give users the ability to basically override the algorithm, to basically compose their own newsfeed on Facebook. But we’re hearing for instance from many people who use Facebook in the States, in the U.S. and elsewhere, that they kind of want to see — how I put it — more friends, less politics.
So we’re testing ways in which we can respond to that, to make sure that the reason — actually, the vast majority of people who use Facebook, which is for positive, playful, innocent, enjoyable reasons, connecting with family and friends, remains the experience for the overwhelming majority of people, the overwhelming majority of time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You had both Democrats and Republicans comparing Facebook to big tobacco this week. How much does that worry you?
CLEGG: Well, I think it’s extremely misleading analogy. Of course, we’re not.
We’re a social media app that many, many people around the world use because it brings utility, it helps small businesses, it brings joy, it brings pleasure, it connects to you with people you care and love the most. That’s what Facebook is about.
And, look, it reminds me a little bit of — do you remember in the ’80s and ’90s, I’m now in my mid-50s, I remember this. There were analogies saying that watching too much of this, watching too much television was like alcoholism or arcade games like Pac-Man, was like drug — you know, drug abuse?
I sometimes think you get some somewhat sort of overblown and somewhat simplistic analogies and caricatures. But I think if there’s any silver lining to this week is that maybe we can now move beyond the slogans, the sound bites, the simplistic caricatures and actually look at solutions and, yes — and, of course, regulation.
There are certain things that only lawmakers can do. Only lawmakers can amend Section 230. Only lawmakers can introduce federal privacy legislation. Only lawmakers can introduce laws to protect our elections and so on.
And that’s not a substitute for the responsibility that Facebook has got as we do to continue to invest as we do on a huge scale. I mean, we invested $13 billion in recent years in how to keep people safe and to sort of safeguard the integrity of our platform. To put that in context, that’s more than the total revenue of Twitter over the last four years.
So, we will continue to do that. But in the end, we can’t make all of these decisions and provide all of these societal solutions on our own. That does mean — or does require lawmakers to act as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned the parental responsibility and getting more tools to parents. You also say Facebook’s job is to mitigate the harm and amplify the good on social media. But even researchers, and not been harsh critics, say you can be devoting more resources to positive interventions for teens.
Is Facebook prepared to do more on that?
CLEGG: Yes. We are. And we’ve said that we will pause the work we were doing on Instagram. Kids, we think it’s actually a — actually we think it’s an answer to their problem because we know that there are lots of kids, so called tweens between the ages of 10 and 13 who are online, who, of course, shouldn’t be but we wanted to provide them with a product that would make — give them a safe experience.
But we’ve paused that because of the level of concerns and we’re now going to not only provide those new parental tools that I alluded to, but we’re going to introduce new measures which will — would, for instance, mean that if a — if we see that a teen — or our systems see that a teen is dwelling on content that may be correlated with something that’s not good for their well-being, we would nudge them to look at other content. We’re also going to introduce new tools, what we call “take a break,” to really kind of urge teens to take a break from using Instagram if they appear to be doing so, you know, for long periods of time.
So, you know, these and other measures are measures that we always work on. We — I mean some of the internal discussion papers and internal research that were — that were published over the last two or three weeks were precisely designed so that we could then introduce new changes to our products, to keep people as safe as possible. We have no other incentive. Why would we want to do anything other than try and make sure that the largest number of people, for the maximum amount of time, are having a positive experience?
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about —
CLEGG: It’s what the people who pay Facebook, our advertisers, want. So we have no commercial incentive to do anything other than try and make sure that the experience is as positive. We can’t change human nature. You always see bad things online. We can do everything we can to try to reduce and mitigate them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you can’t — you can also take action not to exploit human nature as well.
How about going back to — having Instagram go back to the way it was before, having posts show up in chronological order rather than being ranked by an algorithm that focuses on engagement?
CLEGG: You know, so we do actually already give people on Facebook the option to just override the algorithm and see — see posts come in as — you know, in the order in which they’re — which they’re presented. It’s chronologic.
In fact, we’ve gone even further. We’ve given new tools just in recent months so that you can effect — in effect curate and compose your own news feed by picking out your favorite pages and so on.
But here’s the thing. And I heard, I think, from Frances Haugen and her team that for them one of their central recommendations is that you just remove the algorithms that — that — that help rank the content, the order in which you see the content on Facebook. If you were just to sort of across the board remove the algorithm, the first thing that would happen is that people would see more, not less, hate speech, more, not less, information, more, not less, harmful content. Why? Because those algorithmic systems precisely are designed like a great sort of giant spam filter to identify and deprecate and downgrade bad content.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Clegg, thank you very much for your time today. I’m afraid we are out of time.
That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.
Check out “WORLD NEWS TONIGHT” and I’ll see you tomorrow on “GMA.”