A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, August 8, 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): Deadly surge.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: While we desperately want to be done with this pandemic, COVID-19 is clearly not done with us.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The Delta variant drives up cases, stretching hospitals to the brink.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It feels like every day is just getting worse.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What will this surge mean for back to school, mask and vaccine mandates? How vulnerable are we to other new variants?
LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: I believe women. And I believe these 11 women.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.
STEPHANOPOULOS: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo clings to power is the walls close in. Could he now face criminal charges?
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We can get this done the easy way or the hard way.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Republicans and Democrats have radically different visions these days, but both those visions include physical infrastructure.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The bipartisan infrastructure bill inches towards Senate passage. But can President Biden keep Democrats unified enough to get it signed into law?
Race against time. As the U.S. withdraws, the Taliban sweeps through Afghanistan? Can the Afghans who helped America through our longest war be saved before it’s too late?
And wildfires raging at home and abroad, a dire warning about the consequences of climate change. What can be done right now?
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s “This Week.”
Here now, George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning. Hope you’re doing well today.
You can see from our open that lots of issues are competing for attention this week. Our roundtable and experts are here to break them all down.
And we begin with the pandemic, as the Delta variant appears to be sweeping us back to the future, the seven-day average of daily cases an astounding 741 percent higher than it was in mid-June, topping 100,000 for the first time since early February.
Hospitalizations are up by more than 40 percent, overwhelming health care workers in the hardest-hit states. The good news, more than 50 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, and the vaccination rate has picked up by 25 percent in the last week.
NIH Director Francis Collins joins us now.
Good morning, Dr. Collins. Thanks for joining us again this morning.
I want to start by putting up the cover of “USA Today” on Friday. We see it right there. As it says, we are failing one another across the country in this fourth COVID surge. Is that your analysis?
DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Well, I’m afraid we should not really have ever gotten in the place we are. So, in that regard, yes, we are failing.
We have vaccines that we know are highly effective and safe. And yet half the country is still not fully vaccinated. And about 90 million people have not even gotten one dose. We would not be in the place we are right now with this Delta surge if we’d been more effective in getting everybody to take advantage of these immunizations.
And now we’re paying a terrible price as the cases go up quickly, most of the cases, of course, now in unvaccinated people. Almost all of the deaths are unvaccinated people. And these are younger people now, including children. The largest number of children so far in the whole pandemic right now are in the hospital, 1, 450 kids in the hospital from COVID-19.
And, of course, since they’re under 12, many of them, they couldn’t be vaccinated. But the rest of us who were over 12 could have done a better job.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s dig into that on children a little bit more.
As you point out, we are seeing more children hospitalized, some children even dying from this. Is the Delta variant more serious for children?
COLLINS: You know, we don’t have rigorous data to show for sure that they are, but I certainly am hearing from pediatricians that they’re concerned that, this time, the kids who are in the hospital are both more numerous and more seriously ill.
We will have to get better comparisons to be sure of that. We do have evidence that Delta may be more serious for older folks as well, and including middle-aged people and 20s and 30s, where it does seem, from studies in Singapore and in Scotland and then in Canada, that this is a virus that is not only more contagious, but potentially more lethal.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Tom Bossert, who served as President Trump’s homeland security adviser, said yesterday on “GMA” that the situation is so bad in the hardest-hit states, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, that we’re past the point of mitigation; all we can do is deal with the consequences.
Do you agree with that?
COLLINS: Well, not entirely.
I hope he’s not suggesting, therefore, that we should just give up on trying to get the rest of the country vaccinated. We still have time to do that.
If people are listening to this who still haven’t taken that step, it’s time. In fact, it’s past time, but it’s not too late. But, certainly, we are going to have to deal with hospitalizations, all kinds of stresses on the medical care system and unnecessary deaths because of what’s already present. But we got to do everything we can to stop that. And that includes the wearing of masks in places where we can reduce the spread of this very contagious virus.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say it’s past time for people to get vaccinated. Is it time for more vaccine mandates?
COLLINS: Well, that’s a obviously hot topic. For me, as a not political person, as a physician, as a scientist, the compelling case for vaccines for everybody is right there in front of you. Just look at the data.
And certainly I celebrate when I see businesses deciding that they’re going to mandate that for their employees and, as a person who runs the National Institutes of Health with 45,000 employees and contractors, I am glad to see the president insisting that we go forward requiring vaccinations or if people are unwilling to do that, then regular testing, at least once or twice a week, which will be very inconvenient.
Yes, I think we ought to use every public health tool we can when people are dying. Death rates are starting up again. You just went through the numbers about how many new cases we are seeing. We are on a very steep up swift of that curve and we ought to be thinking of every possible intervention.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Sir, your sigh there said it all. That was about as close as a yes as you could get. You clearly believe that vaccine mandates could make a difference.
COLLINS: I do believe they can make a difference. I understand how that can sometimes set off all kinds of resistance. But isn’t that a shame, George? I mean, how did we get here? Why is it that a mandate about a vaccine or wearing a mask suddenly becomes a statement of your political party?
We never should have let that happen. And come on, America. We can separate these, can’t we? We’re incredibly polarized about politics, we don’t really need to be polarized about a virus that’s killing people. We ought to be doing everything we can to save lives. And that means get the vaccine. And that means wear the mask when you’re indoors in a crowded space. And if you’re unvaccinated, wear it all the time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: School year starting for so many kids and their parents right now. What’s your best advice to parents as they send their kids back to school?
COLLINS: I would ask that they would think about masks in the way that they ought to be thought about. This is not a political statement or an invasion of your liberties. This is a life-saving medical device. And asking kids to wear a mask is uncomfortable, but, you know, kids are pretty resilient. We know that kids under 12 are likely to get infected and if we don’t have masks in schools, this virus will spread more widely.
It will probably result in outbreaks in schools and kids will have to go back to remote learning which is the one thing we really want to prevent. This kind of virtual learning which kids have had to go through now for more than year is really bad for their development. We ought to be making every effort to make sure they can be back in the classroom. And the best way to do that is to be sure that masks are worn by the students, by the staff, by everybody. It’s a small price to pay for being able to keep kids where they need to be to learn.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The Delta variant transmits more easily as you said. It could be more dangerous as well. What do we know about the other variants out there?
COLLINS: Well, there’s Lambda which came up in Peru and which we’re studying closely, which has now had some thousand or so cases in the U.S. Not yet really worried about it being even more contagious but needs to be looked at.
At NIH, working with the FDA and CDC, we have a very vigorous team that looks at every new emerging variant to see what would it’s affect be in terms of the vaccine. Will the vaccine work against this one? So far so good.
We don’t have anxieties yet about Delta or Lambda or any of the others that are sort of lurking out there. But we all worry about the day when a variant arises that is so different from the original Wuhan virus (ph), that basically the vaccines stop working as well. And then we have to really move forward quickly with a booster.
The best way to prevent that from happening is to reduce the number of infections because that’s how mutants happen. It’s because people are infected with the virus and it copies itself slightly wrong and then you get something that’s even worse. So all the more reason why we should be doing everything possible to cut back the wild spread of Delta so that we don’t get something even more dangerous.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, sir, does the FDA need to be doing more to get full authorization for those vaccines?
COLLINS: FDA is working 24/7. I talk to those folks frequently. I know they are very much hoping now to get something out in terms of full approval within the next month. But meanwhile, while people are waiting for that — and I understand that would help, please be clear about this, the vaccines have incredible evidence for their safety and effectiveness. They work against Delta. They will save your life.
Please, if you’re on the fence, get off the fence. Go — find a place that’s easy. Go to Vaccines.gov. Roll up your sleeve. Become part of the winning team.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Dr. Collins, thanks as always for your time and your information.
COLLINS: Thanks, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about this now on our roundtable. I’m joined by Chris Christie; Rahm Emanuel; the CEO of Democracy for America, Yvette Simpson; and Sarah Isgur, a veteran of the Trump Justice Department, now a political analyst for “The Dispatch”.
Rahm, let me begin with you. You have to give Dr. Collins points for candor there. He says vaccine mandates can make a difference.
RAHM EMANUEL, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, I would not use the word mandate. If you’re going to look at the 40 percent of Americans that don’t have a vaccine —
STEPHANOPOULOS: It still is a mandate, though.
EMANUEL: Right. No, you can call it a requirement. A requirement to participate in the rest of the economy that’s opening up.
And if you — look, the first 60 percent you can do in masks. The last 40 percent you’ve got to do strategically based on different sectors of the population. I would not use the word mandate.
We’re requiring this for X access to the economy. You have to think about people in that way. I do think that whether you take public employees — as I said the other day on the show, health care workers should lead from the front. They have to get vaccinated.
You get federal dollars for research at universities. Students and employees have to be. And you start setting requirements for access to the rest of society.
And it’s part of — the other piece I would add, it’s part of your national pledge, because the one thing that he said, and you can see now happening, as the variant gets more dangerous, the population it affects starts to go down the age group. And we are going to get to a time where one of these variants beats the vaccine. And the question is, can we beat the variant?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Sarah, to the other point that Dr. Collins made, it is kind of crazy that the issue of taking a vaccine has become so political.
SARAH ISGUR, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: And it happened right from the beginning. It happened as part of the Trump — you know, left/right divide we were having.
If you remember, right at the beginning of the possibility of having a vaccine, you had people, even like Vice President Harris, saying she would not trust it if it happened under the Trump administration. I think that’s set off a slew of problems right there.
You know, I have a 14-month-old son. We had to go to the emergency room last weekend. The emergency room was overwhelmed with people. He cannot get vaccinated under 2 years old.
And so, our choice was to spend two plus hours in an emergency room with a bunch of people who probably have COVID, at least some of them, or to leave.
And so, I think when we talk about vaccinated people now being good, I think they should understand, like my husband and I are vaccinated. We still have now to quarantine because of our son, because we can’t go to an emergency room.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And it’s leading to more breakthrough infections, no question about that.
Yvette, it’s political. The hesitancy is political. But also, you’ve seen hesitancy among black and brown populations as well. People just don’t trust the government.
YVETTE SIMPSON, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: That’s right. And, you know, with good reason, you know? In the past, you think about Henrietta Lacks. You think about the Tuskegee experiment. You think about the fact that a lot of black women still can’t get the kind of care and aren’t taking seriously when they go to their doctor.
The fact that this is being done kind of outside of the traditional care, you know, folks who have blood clots traditionally. A lot of black women in particularly afraid of what this might do for them.
And so, we really need to continue to like combine — particularly for black Americans, combine traditional care. Go to your doctor. Talk to your doctor about the risks of whatever your underlying condition is versus the vaccine. And I think that will go a long, long way.
And I think most people are feeling like I can take this risk that I’m going to get COVID or I’ll be like the clear risk that I might have an aneurysm or that my blood pressure might react with this vaccine that I might die instantly.
And so, we just need more education. We need to make sure people are talking to their doctors and not just watching the television and information from politicians.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris, the hope — the hope is that doctors, friends, family get this out of politics.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah. And, look, I had a personal experience in the last couple of weeks of, good friends of mine who I didn’t know weren’t vaccinated, and would stop by our home and say, oh, by the way, I’m not vaccinated. Does that bother you? I said, it doesn’t bother me. It should bother you.
And what I found, George, is these conversations is, it’s very much what Yvette is talking about. You have to walk people through the facts. You have to walk through — because the buzz they’re getting through media is not carrying it for them. It’s got to be a family to family, employer to employer, as Rahm said, of people saying, here’s why we need you to do this. And here’s why it makes sense for you medically.
Their own doctors have to play a huge part of this. And I would tell you, I’ve seen health care workers in New Jersey, in one hospital, 35 percent of them weren’t vaccinated. I mean, that sends exactly the wrong message. That hospital is now requiring vaccinations as a condition of employment.
So, it’s got to be — I said this a couple weeks ago. People don’t want to be in indoctrinated. They want to be educated. We have to educate these folks. If we just use the word mandate — I think Rahm is exactly right, these folks are just going to go, nope, I’m not doing it. And we see the ramifications of that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yvette, let me switch topics now, go to the infrastructure bill.
It looks like it’s going to pass the Senate, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe Tuesday. But the big question is, will House Speaker Nancy Pelosi schedule it? Will progressive Democrats stay on board for a final vote?
SIMPSON: Progressives have been pretty consistent on this. You know, we need to make sure the reconciliation bill that has more of the protection on climate as the world burns before us, that has more protection around human infrastructure as people are trying to return to work, that those need to come together. And I don’t understand what the resistance is to that, particularly because there was this whole deal that was made between the more right wing members of our party and the Republicans that did not include progressives at all. Like, if you want a have a truly bipartisan conversation, you have to include progressives. So there was this expectation that this smaller bill, which has gotten smaller and smaller over time, it’s so small now, half a billion dollars over eight years, and — and you didn’t also bring along — which was the promise —
EMANUEL: We need (ph) half a trillion.
SIMPSON: Which was the commitment to bring along the reconciliation — over eight years, by the way, so it’s a little — I mean we’ve got the bridge in Ohio, that’s going to take a big chunk of that anyway. So, you know, you think about, you know, the fact that this promise was made, there was this expectation. And so, yes, progressives are going to hold the line and they should.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Rahm, I have to say, it takes me back to our beginning in politics. Half a trillion over eight years is small.
EMANUEL: Yes. But what’s —
SIMPSON: The world is (INAUDIBLE). So (INAUDIBLE).
EMANUEL: What — what’s — what’s seven — what’s seven zeros among friends, OK?
No, first of all, I — I like to remind, just four years ago, when Hillary Clinton recommended 250 billion above the baseline of spending, everybody thought she had gone drunken sailor. We’re talking about $500 billion in key investments like the Internet, broad — universal broadband, making sure nobody has a Flint, Michigan, or a Jackson, Mississippi, again, when it comes to clean — and access to clean and fresh water, let alone all the other work. This is a major accomplishment for President Biden.
And I also predict that in the Senate you’re not going to get 67 votes. You’re going to get 70 votes. The — actually the number’s going to go up. And the fact is I believe in the core question, when the speaker sees not only it passes and the Democrats in the House see it passes with 70 votes, they pass the reconciliation instructions, that will be a green light also because the economy for the Democrats, when you go to 2022, this is an essential investment. It keeps the economy not — because the economy, after the relief bill, will start to taper off. This will actually work politically because the economy will stay stronger. And they will move to make sure that the president and the Democrats have a major, as well as the bipartisanship. And I give Congress — Senator Portman and the Republicans, they stuck to the idea of bipartisan and didn’t throw in the towel with the president at that point.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and I want to — I want to bring that to Chris Christie. He says they may get 70 votes in the Senate. Large Republican vote for it as well.
Despite the fact that former President Trump is saying tank the bill.
CHRISTIE: Well, he’s saying, tank the bill I suspect because he didn’t do it himself.
EMANUEL: You think? Go out on a limb there. Oh, go — Chris, go ahead. Let go. Let go. Like, go ahead out on a limb this morning.
CHRISTIE: You know, I mean —
EMANUEL: What is — like, breaking news.
CHRISTIE: I have known him for 20 years and I think I have a little insight.
EMANUEL: We know him for four and we agree.
CHRISTIE: You know, the bottom line on the infrastructure bill I think is that Republicans and a number of Republicans in the Senate have said, OK, we’re willing to go out and do this. And the reason they’re willing to do it is because there’s broad public support for much of what they’re talking about in the bill, not all of it, but there never is for all of it. For much of it.
If we start doing what Yvette wants to do and tie all the rest of it to that, the Republicans are going to walk. They just will. And they’ll say I’m walking because I support universal broadband, bridges, tunnels, airports.
EMANUEL: Fresh water.
CHRISTIE: I don’t — yes, fresh water. I don’t support all this other stuff. And so this is a key moment for Democrats to decide, do they really want bipartisan or don’t they.
Republicans disagree with you. Like, we just do. The same way you disagree with us on certain things. We’re not going to support that. But we will support the stuff that’s in that infrastructure bill, at least a large number will. And the question is, do you want to do that or don’t you?
SIMPSON: But we don’t need —
STEPHANOPOULOS: And then the other question is —
SIMPSON: I’m sorry, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Go ahead.
SIMPSON: We don’t — we don’t need Republicans to do reconciliation. We just need the Democrats who were in the room, who agree —
CHRISTIE: But you need us to do — but you need us to do a bipartisan infrastructure bill. And you’re not going to have us if you bring the two of them together.
SIMPSON: That’s right. So Republicans can — can cover their mouths while Democrats do the reconciliation bill and pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and — but that’s — that’s the question for some of the Democrats.
Sarah, do — do Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema walk if it’s — if they — if they don’t, if the bipartisanship doesn’t hold in the Senate?
ISGUR: I was surprised we were having this roundtable here instead of on Joe Manchin’s house boat, where I thought we would all be this weekend.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Where we can (INAUDIBLE).
SIMPSON: Can we go there now?
ISGUR: That’s right, because that’s where the power center of D.C. is.
EMANUEL: Is Lindsey Graham — is Lindsey Graham coming because I’m not coming if — if Lindsey Graham’s coming, I don’t want to be here.
ISGUR: Absolutely, if you want it to be bipartisan, it needs to be this bill. And having 18 Republicans, including Mitch McConnell himself buck President Trump I thought was a pretty meaningful moment. And I know we’re going to get to some of the other elections that have happened here. But President Trump’s power over the party is certainly cabined. It’s different than it used to be, when you have 18 republicans saying — like, not even acknowledging that he is against this bill.
Joe Biden wants this to be bipartisan. And bipartisan here is defined as having Republican support, not just far-left support.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Sarah — Sarah brings us to the elections this week. Donald Trump had a victory in an Ohio primary race. But on the — on the Democratic side, in that Cleveland race, one more time the mainstream Democrat defeated the progressive Democrat.
SIMPSON: Donald Trump weighed in on the Democratic primary, too. There was a lot of Trump Republican money in Ohio.
You know, I’m from Ohio. I’ve been a leader in the state, an elected leader in the state. I was on the ground here. As soon as you hit Cleveland and Akron, those ads that were coming from dark money, from Trump Republicans like Kraft and others, really made the difference here.
But at the end of the day, what progressives are celebrating is that we won, black, white, brown, working-class people, we won Cleveland and Akron. We won the district where the opponent, Shontel Brown, lived. Her own neighbors voted against her.
What ended up happening was, in the suburbs that are mostly wealthy and mostly white, those ads worked. And the turnout should be the story. Because the turnout was less than 20 percent in an area where Ohio needs to be blue next year, if we’re going to continue to call our state purple.
STEPHANOPOULOS: All interesting…
SIMPSON: Otherwise, we’re going to be calling it red.
STEPHANOPOULOS: All interesting points, but the elections…
STEPHANOPOULOS: … if you look at the pattern, Rahm Emanuel, moderate Democrats…
EMANUEL: Yes, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: … win it time and time again.
EMANUEL: Yep. One thing I do — I don’t want to leave this without saying, on infrastructure. In the primary, many Democrats made fun of Joe Biden when he said we can do bipartisanship. In the general election, they said he couldn’t do it. This is a major win to show that the institution of bipartisanship and that comity, that working together, can happen.
Now, to the election, what I call the heart and soul of the Democratic Party has gone five for five. And I do think political pundits, all of us can just say that somehow the progressives are the base. The fact is, in the Republican Party, Trump is the base of that party. That was proven in Ohio.
Among Democrats, when you go five for five, or if you go zero for five, the fact is the Democratic establishments, the moderates who say “let’s work together, try to figure this out,” that is the heart and soul of the party. That is true about Joe Biden winning the primary. That’s true about what happened here in New York City in the mayoral race. It’s across-the-board true.
And I think some of the elections three, four years ago, where a lot of people say that progressives, I think those were actually more generational than they were ideological primaries.
SIMPSON: That’s probably more because the party, the Democratic base is moving right, right? The amount of Republican money and corporate money, big oil, big pharma, that was in Ohio shows that really what we’re seeing is that the base of the party is moving right. Progressives are holding the left flank.
SIMPSON: At the same time, you’ve got Cori Bush sleeping out, making all the difference, in the very same week, for millions of Americans and being celebrated. Progressives are making a difference and holding…
SIMPSON: … and holding the traditional base, the…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But it shows, Chris, that it’s the…
SIMPSON: … working class people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You, kind of, have the flip side, that the progressives making headway in Washington, the Trump Republicans making headway out on the campaign trail.
CHRISTIE: You know, George, maybe. We’ll see. That’s been mixed, right? He’s had some success in some primaries and some failure in some other ones.
I find this interesting. I was at the Republican Governor’s Association meeting a couple weeks ago. And you have the donors there who are concerned about what President Trump’s role is going to be in the party going forward.
And what you continue to remind people is President Trump was a — was the dominant presence in our party for five years, the year he was running and the four years he was president. He has been out of office, next week, seven months. And everybody wants to know, “OK, why isn’t he gone already?”
You know, let’s have — we’re this instant gratification society in every aspect of our society, including politics. It takes time for people to figure out “Where do we want our party to go?”
We got soundly defeated in 2020 at the presidential level. And now we have to decide, “All right, where do we go from here? And it’s going to take a little time.”
ISGUR: I’m a campaign operative who’s dove into these numbers in Ohio and the Texas 6th. Trump’s candidate lost in Texas 6th, won in Ohio. There are huge differences that tell us where he will have real influence. Texas 6th was a general election in a “soft R” district. Trump didn’t spend money there. He didn’t hold rallies there. He lost.
In Ohio, it was a primary. To her point, maybe, about base voters, he spent $350,000. He held two rallies there. That is where his candidate won because he was able to increase their name ID.
I think that this actually will. They were both low-turnout elections, but I think that is going to be the model moving forward of where we will see him having influence and where we will see him not having influence.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re going to have to take a quick break. We will be right back.
Can Andrew Cuomo survive in New York?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES: The independent investigation found that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, many of whom were young women.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): And I do believe he should resign.
SCHUMER: I continue to believe the governor should resign.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he should resign.
CUOMO: I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: A chorus of Democrats calling on Andrew Cuomo to resign after that report from the attorney general.
Sarah Isgur, you were just making an interesting point off-camera. Those calls ring a little bit hollow in the modern era.
ISGUR: In the post-Trump era, calling on someone to resign is a nothing burger, because they’re not going to resign, and it costs the person nothing to do so.
What we haven’t seen is Joe Biden call on the Senate leadership in Albany to push the impeachment. We haven’t seen the Democratic Governors Association say that they will not support his reelection in 2022. There’s been no actual movement by the Democratic Party to push Andrew Cuomo out of office. It’s just been like, yes, he should resign. That costs nothing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I mean, it’s close to unanimous among Democrats in Washington, and increasingly in Albany as well.
CHRISTIE: Well, and the problem we have here, George, is that we have Governor Cuomo and everybody else operating in two different universes.
He’s still arguing the facts, as was displayed by his completely inept lawyers’ argument on a Zoom call. Like, if we can have a better advertisement for what not to do. The first thing you should do is get new lawyers if you’re going to argue the facts. But let’s put that aside.
He’s arguing facts. This is not a factual issue any longer. This is a political issue. And all that matters is, how many votes do you have or not have? Because, in the end, his own party’s not supporting him right now in Albany or in Washington.
So, the question for him is going to be, if you’re going to stay, how do you turn that? And you have got to turn it politically. You’re not going to turn it by continuing to argue facts.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But here’s what I don’t understand, Rahm Emanuel.
It appears that a majority in the state Assembly are prepared to impeach. The minute he’s impeached, he has to step aside anyway, at least temporarily.
EMANUEL: Let me take — I — let me take a positive. And I actually slightly disagree with — not slightly. I disagree with Sarah.
One of the casualties of the Trump world is, there was no support for institution, norms, and a lack of accountability in the system.
When you get the bipartisan agreement in infrastructure, you get a January 6 investigation with Republicans on the committee, you get Democrats holding the governor accountable in this situation, as opposed to what’s happening with Matt Gaetz in the Congress, there’s actually brick by brick rebuilding support for institutions, for norms and for our culture of accountability.
And I actually think one of the most dangerous things that Donald Trump said and did rather as president was destruction of institutions and norms and our credibility where only one person, quote/quote, could fix it.
Each of these are part of a mosaic where once again we’re reestablishing the sense of institutions, norms and a culture of accountability.
SIMPSON: We’ll see. I mean, I think he needs a good talking to. My grandmother used to say you can do this the easy way or hard way. And I think he is just deciding he’s going to do it the hard way.
I think the bigger conversation is we need to talk about the culture that allowed Cuomo to abuse 11 women. Somebody saw something. Someone knew something. Rinse and repeat.
We can see they have situation. We talk about it at this table. These very powerful men, we know this stuff is happening. What are w doing to make sure there’s not the next Cuomo.
And that’s why he feels comfortable. That’s why he feels safe. He’s been safe this whole time. And he knows there’s a lot of people who are entangled in this, who know something that will go down with him.
ISGUR: Including the organization that was set up to protect women, who are charging powerful men with harassment. Time’s Up has now lost all its credibility and that maybe one of the institutions that, you know —
EMANUEL: I wouldn’t call the organization an institution, but I do think as this process — look, there’s going to be a moment with the Senate majority leader, just like in Watergate, and the speaker of the state house in Albany are going to walk over, maybe dark. And they’re going to go to the governor’s mansion and say the votes are up.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris, let me pick on what Yvette is saying, it’s sideways argument for term limits? There’s something about being in power that long that creates this culture where people feel that they are just — they are immune from consequences?
CHRISTIE: Look, I’ve always been for term limits for everybody. You know, I do think that third terms — Rahm and I were talking about this. Third terms are cursed. And you just look at it, and there’s a reason for that, George.
For most public office holders, especially executives, all the adults leave by the time you get to a third term. When you try to put a staff together for the third term, all the really good people you have — I saw it in my governorship. By the time I got to year seven, eight, I had a couple people left, but most of my really good folks had gone to the private sector, had done other things, run for office. Done other things that they want to do with their lives.
And so, part of this — part of the argument for term limits, at the legislative level as well, there’s a certain period of time where you can be effective in all the ways we define effectiveness, having good people around you, good ideas, fresh ideas, good energy. And then all of a sudden, you just become part of the furniture. And when that happens, it’s a problem.
ISGUR: The bigger problem for Governor Cuomo is that he wants to be Bill Clinton. He’s always wanted to be Bill Clinton. But Letitia James is not Ken Starr, and he doesn’t have an enemy to pick out and he’s flailing right now. And the Democrats need to (INAUDIBLE).
RAHM: Third terms are snake bite. You look at Roosevelt, the biggest mistake he made, the court packing. You look at everybody’s third term, you are more tired than you know. Your staff is not what it used to be and you actually think you know more than you do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Real quick here.
SIMPSON: You think you’re invincible.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I’ll ask you all quickly, is Andrew Cuomo governor of New York in November?
CHRISTIE: Probably not.
When we come back, the Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan as U.S. withdraws. What dangers does this impose for Americans and the Afghan allies we’re leaving behind? That’s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Afghans who worked with the United States, or the international security assistance force, at some point since 2001, are facing acute fears of persecution or retribution that will likely grow as coalition forces leave the country. We have a special responsibility to these individuals. They stood with us. We will stand with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: America’s longest war is drawing to a close. But as U.S. troops head home, the Taliban is advancing across Afghanistan, assassinating government officials, taking control of key cities and the U.S. embassy is now urging all Americans to leave the countries as interpreters and other Afghan citizens who helped the U.S. fear for their lives. Can they be saved? Are we meeting our moral responsibility to American allies?
We begin with senior foreign correspondent Ian Pannell, who’s covered the war for more than a decade.
IAN PANNELL, ABC NEWS SENIOR FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Since America’s deal with the Taliban to withdrawal, the extremists have gone on the offensive, now controlling more than half the country’s 400 districts. Civilian casualties are at record highs and hundreds of thousands are being forced from their homes.
This week, Joe Biden creating a new program to help more Afghans escape the violence. Now those who worked for some American organizations can also apply for refugee status. But, against the odds, they’ll have to make their own way out of the country first.
Meanwhile, the first interpreters and others are already arriving in the U.S. Two and a half thousand will be evacuated from the country in the coming days, another 4,000, plus families likely relocated to safe locations overseas for now.
The extremists targeting anyone they don’t approve of, journalists in particular, although now some who’ve worked with the U.S. media may be eligible to apply for refugee status. But for some, it’s too late. On Friday the head of the Afghan Media Center was killed Friday.
And it’s not just political or media figures, even a comedian and just this week an historian and poet targeted. Few seem safe in Afghanistan anymore.
PANNELL (on camera): George, the Taliban advance has been nothing short of staggering, and the fear is that, after U.S. troops complete their withdrawal in just over three weeks’ time, it will only get worse.
And I have to say, in 20 years of covering this war, I’ve never seen the situation on the ground look so bleak. George?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ian Pannell, thanks.
Let’s talk about this now with Ryan Crocker, who served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan during the war, and Janis Shinwari, former Afghan interpreter for the U.S. for over eight years, credited with saving at least five American lives, and co-founder of No One Left Behind.
Ambassador Crocker, let me begin with you. We’ve seen just today the Taliban taking control of two more key cities. Is the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan now inevitable?
CROCKER: A prolonged civil war is a more likely outcome, frankly, George, than a swift Taliban takeover of the entire country. They’re being very smart about this. They are not launching major strikes into Kabul. They are doing what they’re doing in part to create a climate of fear and panic. And they are succeeding wonderfully at this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Creating a climate of fear and panic.
Janis Shinwari, what does that mean for those left behind, particularly those interpreters, translators, others, who helped America during this war?
SHINWARI: All right. As we said before, it’s only too late if we do not evacuate all those interpreters who are left behind. And the Taliban will kill everybody. And they will torture them in front of their family and kill them.
I just heard a couple news that, when the Taliban did control a couple cities, they were going and knocking door by door and asking for those people who were supporting the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and they were trying to kill them.
And, yeah, it’s only too late. We have to do and evacuate those people before it’s too late. And as I said before, the Taliban are now, like, much powerful and controlling a lot of cities. And these people are not safe anymore in Afghanistan.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The withdrawal has begun. The evacuation has begun, Ambassador Crocker. But you say this is an all hands on deck moment. It must be a presidential priority. What does that mean in practice? What must be done right now?
CROCKER: What needs to be done right now is to ramp up the evacuation, get more flights in faster. We are in a moment of crisis. The problem is the Taliban now control the narrative. They can certainly shut down Kabul airport if they choose.
One place where it is not good to be right now is the situation we’ve put ourselves in. The Taliban can wait. They’ve got the options. They’ve got the leverage and the capability. We’ve given all that away.
The ability to get our folks out, and others who have served us at risk of their lives out, it really now depends on whether the Taliban want to let them go.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Janis Shinwari, how do we break through the red tape right now? How do we speed up the evacuations?
SHINWARI: All right. We — we have to ask President Biden to — to start more flights. And we cannot wait, since President Biden announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and this process has been too slow. And I have been in contact with a lot of people in Afghanistan, that they’re waiting for their visa. Some of them, they — they even did not receive their approval for the SIV program.
It means that this program is very slow so far. And we should expedite this program. We should, like, have more planes to — to evacuate these people as soon as possible.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Janis Shinwari, what does the prolonged civil war that Ambassador Crocker fears is likely, what does that mean for Afghanistan and for those left behind?
SHINWARI: As I explained before, the Taliban, they’re killing everybody.
If they control Afghanistan, they will not only kill the interpreters, but they will kill their immediate families who are still in Afghanistan. And Afghanistan will go back to 20 years or 21 years ago, no schools, nothing, no job.
And since this evacuation, the U.S. withdrawal happened, you guys know that ten thousands of people lost their jobs. And if the Taliban take over, they will kill all these people, including the news reporters. Everybody who was working for the Afghan government or U.S. government, they’re not safe. They will kill everybody.
And, yes, that’s what it will happen.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ambassador Crocker, can you imagine any circumstances that will force the United States to go back in with ground troops?
CROCKER: I cannot, George. President Biden has made that clear. We’re going out and (AUDIO GAP) are staying out.
It is (AUDIO GAP) now taken complete ownership of President Trump’s basically (AUDIO GAP) policy in Afghanistan. He owns it. And I think it is already an indelible stain on his presidency.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What a tragic situation.
Ambassador Crocker, Janis Shinwari, thanks very much for your time and your information this morning.
Coming up: Wildfires are raging across the West and around the world. We’re going to talk with two climate scientists about what can be done when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUBTITLE: Which current senator served as CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics? Mitt Romney.
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): We are thrilled as a community to join together with the Olympic torch arriving here and recognize what it represents. To different people it means different things, the torch and the flame have always stood for peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. STEVE SISOLAK (D), NEVADA: (INAUDIBLE) season in terms of fighting these fires. And every year, it gets more and more intense. It just shows you the affect that global warming is having on our environment.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: The world is radically changing. It’s climate change. You may not believe in science. You have to believe your own damn eyes. Look around.
GOV. KATE BROWN (D), OREGON: Climate change is here, it’s real, and it’s like hammer hitting us in the head and we have to take action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC “THIS WEEK” ANCHOR: West Coast governors speaking about the deadly wildfires tearing across the region brought on by record heat waves, severe droughts and forest conditions, all exacerbated by climate change. It comes as wildfires also rage across Greece, Turkey and Russia, forcing thousands to flee.
Here to discuss what’s causing the fires, what could be done, professor Michael Mann, director of the earth systems science at Penn State, author of “The New Climate War”, and Kristina Dahl, senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
And, Dr. Dahl, let me begin with you. Talk about the connections between these extreme weather we’re seeing of wildfires both here, and around the world and climate change.
KRISTINA DAHL, SR. CLIMATE SCIENTIST, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS: Sure. So, around the world what we’re seeing is that very hot conditions tend to worsen any drought conditions that places might be experiencing. So, you end up with severe drought, coupled with the drying out of vegetation. That vegetation becomes fuel for fires to burn. So, we’re seeing places like the western U.S. become a tinder box, ready to burn with any spark.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Dr. Mann, as we look around the world and see this raging, not just in the West, but in Greece and Turkey, we know there are skeptics out there saying you can’t tie this to climate change, you can’t tie any single event to climate change.
What do you say to that?
MICHAEL MANN, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: There’s a report coming out tomorrow, in fact, the next report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC. And this time, the report really connects the dots. The signal has emerged from the noise. We can see the impacts of climate change playing out now in real time on our television screens and in our newspaper headlines. Dangerous climate change has arrived. And at this point, it’s a question of how bad we’re willing to let it get.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, the question — what do we do about it right now? Dr. Dahl, you go first.
DAHL: So, right now, in the immediate timeframe the focus really needs to be on preserving homes and lives, particularly of the firefighters who are out there battling these blazes 24 hours a day. But looking into the future, we know that with continued global warming, these fires are only going to get worse. The air quality deterioration that people across the U.S. are experiencing is only going to get worse. And so, we desperately need to be to discussing on weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels as fast as possible so that we limit future warming.
And at the same time, we need to be building up the individual and community level wildfire resilience, so when these fires do happen, people’s lives and homes and communities aren’t reduced to ashes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Dr. Mann, is it too late?
MANN: No. I mean that’s the good news. The bad news is dangerous climate change has arrived. The good news is we can prevent it from getting worse. And the latest science tells us that if we bring our carbon emissions down to zero, the planet stops warming up. So, look, there is a pledge on the part of the Biden administration to cut our emissions by a factor of two within the next decade. If we do that, and other countries around the world do that, we can protect the planet from warming beyond a catastrophic three degree Fahrenheit level.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And — and — and, Dr. Dahl, we’re starting to see President Biden — he signed an executive order this week to target having 50 percent of all cars sold in the U.S. as electric by 2030. The EPA also announced fuel emission standards to hit by 2026, 52 miles a gallon.
You know, as some climate groups have said, this doesn’t go far enough. What kind of a difference will it make?
DAHL: Look, these sorts of measures are critical. And we need to be doing everything we can as fast as we can. If we can accomplish the goals that the Biden administration has set out, that’s great and we need to be encouraging countries around the world to be doing the same. Really, the U.S. can be a leader here instead of a follower in things like increasing emissions standards for vehicles and increasing renewable energy. So the faster we can move, the better off we’re going to be.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Dr. Mann, how does the United States convince other countries to also go along? Of course, we were an outlier during the Trump administration. What more can President Biden do at this point to get the world to coalesce around this issue?
MANN: Yes, it’s about leadership. And, look, there has been a restoration of leadership here now on the part of the United States. The Biden administration has made a bold pledge to cut our emissions in half within the next decade and other countries now are coming to the table. We’ve now re-engaged China and they have agreed to prioritize action on climate.
So changing leadership here in the United States changes the picture worldwide. And so there’s reason for cautious optimism. Later this year, when the leaders of the world meet in Glasgow at the next major climate conference, there’s reason to believe we will get the sorts of commitments that are necessary to get us on a path that limits warming below catastrophic levels.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s hope we can get there.
Dr. Mann, Dr. Dahl, thank you both for your time and your information this morning. We’re going to be looking forward to that report coming out from the U.N. tomorrow as well.
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.”