‘This Week’ Transcript 8-27-23: Former Governor Chris Christie and Biden Campaign Co-Chair Cedric Richmond
A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, August 27, 2023 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.
RON DESANTIS (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We’ve got to focus on reversing the decline of our country.
RADDATZ: Eight candidates face off.
VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m the only person on the stage who isn’t bought and paid for.
TIM SCOTT (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Going back and forth, being childish is not helpful to the American people.
RADDATZ: Tackling key issues and a political newcomer.
MIKE PENCE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don’t need to bring in a rookie.
NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have no foreign policy experience, and it shows.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: I’ve had enough of a guy who sounds like ChatGPT.
RADDATZ: Hoping to shine in Donald Trump’s absence.
ASA HUTCHINSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m not going to support somebody who’s been convicted of a serious felony.
DOUG BURGUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will bring out the best of America.
RADDATZ: The frontrunner posing for a mug shot 24 hours later.
DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We did nothing wrong at all.
RADDATZ: What will it mean for the 2024 race?
All eyes were on Georgia this week, but we wanted to find out what the voters are thinking.
Republican contender Chris Christie and Biden campaign co-chair Cedric Richmond joining us. Plus, our powerhouse roundtable.
BRIG. GEN. PATRICK S. RYDER: That it’s likely Prigozhin was killed.
RADDATZ: Two months after leading a mutiny against the Kremlin, a plane carrying Putin’s rival plunges to the ground. The latest this morning.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: I have a dream today.
RADDATZ: Our Pierre Thomas reflects on the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s THIS WEEK. Here now, Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ: Good morning, and welcome to THIS WEEK.
On the National Mall this weekend, a powerful scene. Thousands gathered to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to break the chains of discrimination of racism. But just hours later, in Jacksonville, Florida, police say a self-proclaimed white supremacist gunned down two men and one woman, all African Americans, in what is being described as a racially motivated, hate-filled crime.
ABC’s Alex Presha is there in Jacksonville.
And, Alex, the police say the gunman who took his own life after the shooting left a trail of racist rants.
ALEX PRESHA, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That’s right, Martha. Jacksonville, Florida, now the latest scene of violence and hate in America. Police say early Saturday afternoon a gunman walked into this Dollar General in the predominantly black neighborhood of Newtown wearing a tactical vest and armed with an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun and opened fire, killing two black men and one black woman before turning the gun on himself. Officials say the gunman was motivated by a, quote, disgusting ideology of hate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
T.K. WATERS, JACKSONVILLE SHERIFF’S OFFICE : Plainly put, this shooting was racially motivated, and he hated black people.
JU’COBY PITTMAN, JACKSONVILLE CITY COUNCIL: The people in this community, they’re hurting. And — and they have every right to. You know, this – this makes no sense. I am very, very angry right now. I’m emotional.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PRESHA: Law enforcement has not yet publicly identified the suspect, but officials say he lived with his parents in neighboring Clay County. And this morning, ABC News learning the alleged gunman may have also planned to target a nearby historically black university. An Edward Waters University security guard spotted him near the campus library. That guard engaging the forcing the alleged shooter to drive away. The mayor is saying this suspect’s writings made references to a mass shooting at a Jacksonville video game tournament that killed two and injured nearly a dozen exactly five years ago to the day.
Now, the White House says that President Biden has been briefed. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has called this shoot a cowardly act. And, Martha, the FBI is now investigating this as a hate crime.
RADDATZ: Alex Presha, thank you.
And we will have more on the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington later in the program.
But we’re going to turn to politics now. Donald Trump may be one of the world’s most photographed people, but his picture at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta this week will be remembered as perhaps his most famous. The first mug shot of an American president, a single frame that will define this era of American politics. All the more remarkable, it was just 24 hours prior that his closest Republican rivals staged the first debate of this election season without Donald Trump. All making the case to lead this nation, although none appearing to dent the former president’s commanding lead among their party’s voters.
The simple fact remains this, the primary debate may have had some interesting moments, some important conversations, but if the election were held today, there is no question it would be a rematch of 2020, President Biden versus President Trump.
So, can anything change in the coming months? We spent the week speaking with voters and officials in South Carolina and Georgia, starting in the Palmetto state where the first in the south primary is just months away.
RADDATZ (voice over): It’s the state that turned the tide for Joe Biden in the 2020 primary.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, South Carolina.
RADDATZ: But delivered its general election votes to Donald Trump. Three years later, the reliably red state remains firmly in the grasp of the former president despite indictments, impeachments, and an insurrection. Maurice Washington, former Republican chair of Charleston County, and former supporter of Barack Obama, is now behind Donald Trump.
RADDATZ: Is there anything that would turn you against Donald Trump?
MAURICE WASHINGTON, FORMER CHARLESTON COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIR: There are probably many things that could. I just haven’t seen any evidence of anything that will do so up to this particular point.
RADDATZ (voice over): Trump is polling 34 points above his nearest rival statewide and far above the two South Carolinians in the race, Tim Scott and Nikki Haley, leaving many to believe a Trump/Biden redo is a near certainty.
REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): I think it’s going to be an unprecedented, historic for reasons that are good, bad, and ugly next year.
RADDATZ: Despite the strong showing, Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace, who criticized Trump for January 6th, sees her constituents looking for an alternative.
MACE: I think people — some people are disenchanted with things in the past.
RADDATZ: Donald Trump?
MACE: Yes, of course.
RADDATZ (voice over): And on the leafy campus of the College of Charleston, politics professor Gibbs Knotts says she may be right.
GIBBS KNOTTS, PROFESSOR, COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON: I think Donald Trump has proven to be a pretty good primary candidate, but I think he’s going to be a less good general election candidate. I think there are a lot of people in the Republican primary who are better positioned to win the general election in those swing states.
RADDATZ: Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn, who many credit with delivering South Carolina for Biden, is hopeful Trump won’t be the nominee, but is concentrating his efforts on the general election.
RADDATZ: Can Joe Biden reinvigorate all the voters he had in 2020 who may be disappointed in some parts of his administration?
REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): I think he can. And I think he will. It’s not just Joe Biden that has to do this. We have got to do this. Black and white, young and old, rich and poor, male and female.
RADDATZ: But few states will be as key to winning 2024 than neighboring Georgia, which helped send President Biden to the White House and Donald Trump to the Fulton County Jail this week.
RADDATZ: Georgia, of course, is where Donald Trump is in legal trouble. It’s here where he asked the secretary of state to find 11,000 or more votes. But Donald Trump could also be in political trouble here.
RADDATZ (voice over): Patricia Murphy, a political columnist for “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,” says that political trouble was evidence long before 2020.
PATRICIA MURPHY, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, “ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION”: Large neighborhoods in suburban Atlanta, where we used to see tons of Trump signs, had nothing. And Joe Biden came into Georgia and just offered a quieter, more moderate solution. And Georgia voters have moved more moderate.
RADDATZ: Biden’s win in Georgia was fueled in part by a shift in suburban voters and growing minority populations in the metro-Atlanta area. Voters Democrats will rely on heading to the ballot box.
Cliff Albright, co-founder and executive director of Black Voters Matter, is confident black voters will turn out once again for Biden.
RADDATZ: I was down here in 2020 and – and talking to black voters. They were enthused to come out. Do you feel that this time? I know it’s early, but do you feel that?
CLIFF ALBRIGHT, CO-FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BLACK VOTERS MATTER: Honestly, I really do. And we believe that the closer that we get to ’24, the more that people are going to be energized.
But the truth is, we’ve been energized really ever since 2018 and 2020.
RADDATZ: But with Democrats worried about Biden’s age and Republicans making the most of the, Democratic support in Georgia is no guarantee.
MURPHY: I think Joe Biden is helping Donald Trump a little bit right now. Joe Biden is seen right now as a depreciating asset. As he continues to have stumbles on the campaign trail, literal and figurative, as Kamala Harris really fails to sort of ignite Georgia voters’ imaginations, that’s just a slightly weaker ticket than it used to be in 2020. At the same time, what has Donald Trump done to gain a single vote in Georgia?
RADDATZ (voice-over): But what about that debate?
We joined a group of young Republicans from Cobb County that night, a watch party they called it, although not everyone was watching.
Brittany Ellison was taking a harder look at new candidates, but in the end, for her, one thing is certain.
Are you still considering Donald Trump?
BRITTANY ELLISON, GEORGIA VOTER: If he is the Republican nominee, I’ll absolutely vote for him.
RADDATZ: And joining us now is former governor of New Jersey and current Republican candidate for president, Chris Christie.
Good morning to you, Governor.
I want you to rate your own performance on Wednesday night. Looking back on it now, is there anything you would have done differently?
CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not really, Martha. I mean, I think that, you know, I answered the questions as I always do, really directly, looked into the camera and spoke to the audience at home and told them the truth.
And the truth is that, you know, we can’t have a convicted felon as our nominee for president and expect we’re going to win. And it was really the most amazing part of the debate to me was the idea that, you know, the majority of my competitors believe that you can have a convicted felon as our nominee for president, and that they support that and that he could win. I think that’s an impossibility.
And I think what it will mean for folks across the country is four more years of Joe Biden. And for Republican primary voters, they have to think about what that will mean — potentially a packed Supreme Court, potentially the elimination of the filibuster, and a lot more.
So what’s at stake here is we need to nominate someone who’s proven that they can beat Democratic incumbents. And I was the only one on that stage that’s ever done that, and I’ll beat Joe Biden if I get the nomination.
RADDATZ: On the felony — on the possible felony conviction, I’ve talked to a lot of voters down South this week, and a lot of officials who just don’t think it matters, that it just canceled out with Hunter Biden. They don’t seem to care.
CHRISTIE: Well, look, Hunter Biden’s not on the ballot. And you know that I predicted weeks before the Hunter Biden plea was rejected that it would be rejected because it was a completely one-sided plea deal in favor of Hunter Biden. Now he’s going to face the same type of trial that Donald Trump’s going to face.
And here’s the interesting part — you know, some of those voters who say that say the Hunter Biden thing matters, but Donald Trump’s doesn’t. That’s just wishful thinking. The fact is that the two people who would be on the ballot if we nominated Donald Trump will be Donald Trump and Joe Biden, not Hunter Biden.
And the fact is it’s the conduct of the people who are running for office that’s going to matter the most. We may find out more about President Biden in the months to come, but the fact is, right now, Donald Trump is out on bail in four different jurisdictions in this country.
RADDATZ: Governor, I want to go —
CHRISTIE: — that is not going to be the main thing, then they don’t understand the way politics works.
RADDATZ: Well, you faced very loud boos in that room. And our poll of Republican debate-watchers saw your favorability rating rise double-digits, but also had you as the candidate who performed the worst. Your reaction?
CHRISTIE: You know, that’s — I’ve seen other polls that said I performed as high as second or third in the debate that night.
I don’t think those instant polls really matter all that much. What matters and what’s going to endure is do people see someone up there telling the truth or not. Do you see it (ph) playing politics or do you see it (ph) working for the American people and what they believe in?
I stood up there and said very clearly that we need to be more aggressive in Ukraine, that — and when you see Vladimir Putin this week murdering Prigozhin, his political opponent and military opponent, you see the way Vladimir Putin does things. Now, if that’s folks — is that someone that folks on the stage want to be associated with, they’re going to be judged on that.
I want to stand with the free people of Ukraine because this is a fight against China. This is a proxy war against China. China is funding Russia, Martha, as you know, to prosecute this war.
And we need to stand up against China in every corner of the world right now to send them a very clear message that, you know, if they try to get aggressive themselves, the juice is not going to be worth the squeeze. But I never come out on the stage —
RADDATZ: Governor, I know you want to —
CHRISTIE: — where I am (ph) ambiguous.
RADDATZ: I know — I know you want to stick to the issues, and you talked about the issues a lot and so did others, but you predicted Trump would be on the debate stage this week. He was not. He didn’t seem to suffer from that.
Do you have any reason to believe he’ll show up for the next one or any in the future?
CHRISTIE: I don’t think he’ll show up for the next one. I never thought he would show up for the next one. It’s at the Reagan Library. And, of course, Ronald Reagan being an honest, direct, successful conservative, Donald Trump would not want to get anywhere near the Reagan Library and suffer that comparison.
But we’ll see if he shows up for debate number three in Alabama. I think that one is much more likely that he’ll show up. I certainly don’t think he’ll be showing up at the Reagan Library.
RADDATZ: Fifty-five percent of debate watchers rated Vivek Ramaswamy’s performance as excellent. What does that tell you? And — and he seemed to be more attacked than Ron DeSantis, who is the frontrunner right below Donald Trump. Why didn’t you and others go after DeSantis and instead go after Ramaswamy?
CHRISTIE: Look, I think the idea of, why didn’t we go after this one or go after that one. My job is to communicate my vision for the future of the country. And if there’s something that someone says that I drastically object to and I have the opportunity to do so, I’ll do it, as you saw me do with Vivek on a number of occasions.
Governor DeSantis’ answers that night, while some of them I disagreed with, I didn’t think it rose to the level of having to get in a back and forth with him in the first debate in August of 2023.
Here’s one thing I’m happy – there are two things, actually, I’m happy to predict for you, Martha. Number one is that, whatever happens in debate number one will not be determinative of the Iowa caucus or the New Hampshire primary. And number two is, you know, I heard you say earlier, if the – if the election were held today, I guarantee you it will not be.
And so we’re going to have a lot of campaign to continue. We’re now sitting firmly in second place in New Hampshire. That’s where my focus is, because this is not a national primary, it’s a state by state primary, as you know, and we’re going to focus our efforts in New Hampshire and in South Carolina in an attempt to win those primaries as we get to them in January and February of 2024.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much for joining us this morning, Governor.
CHRISTIE: Thanks for having me, Martha. I appreciate it.
RADDATZ: And let’s get a response now from President Biden’s campaign co-chair Cedric Richmond.
Good morning to you, Mr. Richmond.
Do you think that debate really changed anything in the Republican primary, in the contest? Does it impact your strategy going ahead?
CEDRIC RICHMOND, BIDEN CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIR: No, it doesn’t. I think what we saw that night was a race to the extreme part of the Republican Party. A race to the MAGA base. And that’s what we expected. And I think that’s very out of touch with what a general election strategy could and should be and with what most Americans want.
RADDATZ: Is there any question in your mind that Trump will be the nominee?
RICHMOND: I think that whether it’s Trump or it’s not Trump, it’s going to be Trump’s policies. It looks more and more like it will be his demeanor and it will be his extremism. And so I – that’s what we saw on the stage.
So, whether it’s former President Trump or not, I think that it will be everything that he has brought the Republican Party to.
RADDATZ: As Trump’s motorcade was pulling into the Fulton County Jail, President Biden sent out a fundraising pitch saying, “apropos of nothing, I think today is a great day to give to my campaign.” That’s not particularly subtle. But are Trump’s legal problems going to be part of your campaign against him?
RICHMOND: No. Those emails go out – you know, you get five and six of them a day. So, I wouldn’t read much into that.
RADDATZ: Even though it was the day of the Fulton County Jail. OK.
Legal problems. I just asked Chris Christie this, as you heard, I’m sure. People I talk to just say, look, it’s just like Hunter Biden. Obviously, those are very, very different cases. But these voters seem to think it just cancels it out.
RICHMOND: Well, the president has said from the beginning that he wanted an independent Justice Department. And we have to adjust that. So, we’re not going to comment, we’re not going to focus on Donald Trump’s legal problems.
But what I will say about President Biden and Vice President Harris is that they have always focused on the American people. So, they’re going to continue to do their jobs of bringing down costs, raising wages, rebuilding the middle class from the bottom up and the middle out, bringing 13 million – creating 13 million jobs, 800,000 manufacturing jobs. That’s what they’re focused on. And that’s what they should be focused on. And the campaign’s going to focus on talking about their record of accomplishments, what’s at stake, what Republicans are talking about, like cutting Social Security, cutting Medicare, invading Mexico, all of those things that you heard on the debate stage, banning abortion nationwide.
All of those things will be the focus of our campaign. And we will let the justice system take care of what the justice system should take care of.
RADDATZ: Let — let — let’s talk about the economy. You mentioned the economy and jobs. The debate started with a question on Bidenomics, they called it, with candidates ripping into the president’s economic agenda. And polling suggests those attacks are in line with Americans’ perception. How do you bridge what the White House thinks is happening and what you’re trying to pitch with American voters who are being polled?
RICHMOND: Well, first of all, Bidenomics is a value proposition that we’re going to build the middle class from the bottom up and the middle out, not trickle-down economics, because it never trickles down to the people who are working the hardest, need it the most. And — and so we are — we will stay with that.
But, since you mentioned the polling, what we don’t talk about is consumer confidence is the highest it’s been in the last two years. Three-fourths of Americans are satisfied with their financial well-being. Over three-fourths of Americans are satisfied or very satisfied with their current employment. And so we see those being as…
RADDATZ: Let me stop you right there on the polls. I just want to go back…
RICHMOND: … good signs.
RADDATZ: … to these polls that we mentioned. It was a recent Fox poll. Do you approve or disapprove of the — of the way Joe Biden is handling the following issues, the economy, approve 37 percent, disapprove 61 percent. If people are saying that in polls, they’re not happy. So how do you keep getting that message out?
RICHMOND: Well, we have to keep telling them about what we’re doing. But I think that how you asked the question, the question you asked, you’re going to get very different answers. But when you hear so many people say that they’re satisfied with their income right now, that they’re very satisfied with their job, we think that’s very telling. When you throw the word, just “economy,” in a broad sense, you get a different response.
But what we’re going to do is continue to do what we’ve been doing, and that is to talk to people about the fact that we’re creating jobs, bringing costs down, bringing manufacturing back to the United States from overseas. And that’s what campaigns are for, for us to go out and tell the story of us meeting challenges, what we’ve accomplished, the challenges we still have to meet in all of those things.
RADDATZ: I — I just want to say, they were very specific in this, “rate economic conditions today.” Eighty percent said they were poor or only fair. But we will move on.
Biden’s age, once again, an issue. They brought that up in the debate as well. How do you get through that when Biden’s out — when President Biden is out on the campaign trail, in particular, which can be very taxing?
RICHMOND: Well, while they — while they talk about age, we will talk about the things that Americans are talking about, and that’s kitchen table issues. And we’re going to continue to do all of the things that we said. So, they’ll talk about age and we’re going to talk about the fact that we brought insulin down to $35 a month so that our seniors don’t have to choose between medicine and rent or utilities.
While they continue to talk about age, we’ll continue to talk about the fact that they’re not talking about banning assault weapons, while they’re banning books but they’re not protecting our children in schools, the fact that none of them raised their hand to talk about climate as a real issue when we see fires in Maui, we see hurricanes hitting California, we see the destruction of wildfires. But they’re not talking about that.
So those are the things we’re going to focus on. We’re going to focus on the issues at hand. And we’ll talk about the fact that this president wants to protect women’s reproductive freedom; we will talk about the fact that he put Ketanji Brown Jackson on the Supreme Court; and that labor, climate groups and women’s organizations are all — have endorsed him already…
RADDATZ: OK, I’m going to…
RICHMOND: … endorsements.
RADDATZ: I’m going to have to stop you there, but we appreciate your time, and we’ll see you again.
The roundtable’s next. We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: What has taken place here is a travesty of justice. We did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong, and everybody knows it. I’ve never had such support.
REPORTER: Have you seen Donald Trump’s mug shot yet?
REPORTER: Mr. President, are you —
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I — I did see it on television.
REPORTER: What did you think?
BIDEN: Handsome guy. Wonderful guy.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
RADDATZ: Donald Trump and President Biden reacting to Trump’s booking at the Fulton County jail.
Let’s bring in our roundtable, former DNC chair Donna Brazile, “The Dispatch” senior editor, Sarah Isgur, “Washington Post” editorial writer and columnist Charles Lane, and we welcome “Atlanta Journal Constitution” political columnist Patricia Murphy who we met in Georgia this week.
Thanks for flying up here and joining us, Patricia. It’s great to have you.
I’m going to start with you, though, Chuck, and turn to the developments in Georgia this week.
This is the first time in our nation’s history we’ve seen a presidential mug shot. I know we worry about making things seem normal. That was decidedly not normal. Just reflect on that.
CHUCK LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER AND COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Ex-presidential, but yes, it is a shocking, stunning development, and — I mean, it’s become now routine apparently that the president — this ex-president will be indicted because this is number four.
And I think what strikes me the most about it is how much it has benefitted him politically in the short run in his own world. He raised money off this, Martha. He met — he raised more money in one day off this mug shot moment than he did about the first indictment in Manhattan.
So the other — I think it was $4.2 million this time. So, the other thing we’re learning here is that this has not only lost the power to shock certain people, it’s become a rallying point for him. And in my mind, it raises the question, the point of this exercise in part is to deter future wrongdoing, and yet in his mind, he’s — and in reality, he’s being rewarded for it.
So, I’m looking toward a 2024 when perhaps if he does lose a primary, he’ll cry fraud about that, having not been deterred here. We are in for a very strange year that we’ve never had before — the likes of which we’ve never really had before.
RADDATZ: We sure are, Sarah, and Donald Trump did say basically fund-raising, blaming the Justice Department. That — that is his default mode with these indictments.
SARAH ISGUR, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah. I mean, but what we’re seeing if, you know, you look at these focus groups, you’ll see Republicans say that Joe Biden has been so self-evidently a bad president that there’s no way he can win in 2024, and when you ask the Democratic focus groups, they’ll say it is so obvious that we cannot have an indicted felon as president. So, Donald Trump can’t win.
And I think part of the problem that we’re seeing with these repeated indictments, they’re very broad. Even some lawyers I don’t think can follow all of the different sort of charges and what they exactly mean. They should have gone for the narrow rifle shot approach here, the documents case, maybe the fake electors,
And instead, we have something much more broad that I think it’s psychically making Democrats happy on the left, but in reality, it’s exactly what Chuck said, which is it is helping Donald Trump in this primary. It’s why he didn’t have to go to the debate. He’s getting all the media and attention he needs.
DONNA BRAZILE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, I’m about to lose my entire season tickets to the NFL because of Donald Trump. So I want my money back.
We’re about to see week after week starting tomorrow of repeated criminal trials or setting a date for his criminal trial, setting a date for all of the civil action that will take place. So while in the short-term, Donald Trump is able to appeal to the congregation within the Republican Party, I think most Americans are turned off, turn off by someone who’s using his criminality, or all of these charges, as you know, a way to raise his profile to raise money. This is not funny.
When you go after the United States, the peaceful transfer of power, when you take documents and don’t return them, these are serious charges that he is facing. And at some point, someone in his inner circle, I don’t know who will be able to look in an eye and say, sir, with all due respect, you’re going to be in court for the next six months, and you’re going to miss the NFL season as well.
RADDATZ: Well, wait for that moment Donna.
Patricia, you’re in Georgia, obviously, and covering politics. Give us a sense of what it was like down there this week. We obviously talked about politics, but talk about the Fulton County jail.
MURPH: It was totally surreal. I was at the Fulton County jail when he was driven in through those very heavily armored gates. And this in Georgia does not feel like it’s just one of four indictments. They’re not all blurring together when it comes to this indictment. We all lived through the 2020 election. We live through the recounts, we had many Georgians received death threats, because of all of the things that Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and others said about especially Fulton County, election workers. We saw that Trump plan come in for rallies, he said it was rigged and stolen before the election happened. It really turned Georgia politics into complete chaos for the last three years, it’s never stopped.
So, to see him go through the Fulton County jail on charges he cannot be pardoned from by a president, can’t be pardoned by the governor. This is very, very serious. When he drove through those gates, I said it was like half of a Trump rally because he had all of his Trump supporters there. And a little bit like a funeral, this long procession and you could have heard a pin drop. Everybody knew this was no joke. This was deadly serious.
RADDATZ: And Sarah, I want to turn to the debate and, and your reaction to the debate whether it made any difference in you heard Chris Christie, you heard Cedric Richmond, didn’t move the needle at all, really, you can go to as many polls as you want.
SARAH ISGUR, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Right. I mean, you talk to for instance, the DeSantis folks are what Chris Christie was saying. And they’re going to say the same thing. This isn’t a national contest we’re having, we’re focused on Iowa, New Hampshire, that’s where we’re going to turn the tide. And if we can beat Trump in Iowa, New Hampshire, this polling all changes on a hat. That is true.
However, when you talk to the campaign’s kind of behind the scenes, what they’re going to tell you is, yes, like this debate didn’t change anything, it was never going to change anything. There’s nothing we can say, to make Donald Trump not 30 to 40 points ahead of all of us. Donald Trump can though, he is fully capable of changing the dynamics of this race. And so yes, we’re sitting here with basically a debate over who’s going to be number two, because at some point, maybe, you know, an asteroid hits. And that’s the actual conversation.
RADDATZ: And Donna, let’s not forget the issues. And, and abortion was a big issue on the stage that night. Democrats are obviously going to pull that and use that as a tackling.
BRAZILE: Well, and you heard a lot of different positions. But the bottom line is Republicans want to ban abortions, fine. Let American women have the last say on that issue. You know, this is a race for the bottom, a race for second or third place, a race to stick around for another month or two. But what I still have to watch the debate, by the way, this is my Republican read, I wanted to pay homage to you, sir. What I saw was a bunch of candidates that really don’t know how to move beyond Donald Trump. So, this shopping spree will continue for the number two position or the number three position. But nothing came out of that debate that scared me.
RADDATZ: And Charles, some Republicans may be worried about Trump’s general election vulnerabilities. And Patricia said that in our piece, as a matter of fact, that summer looking for other people. Is he really vulnerable?
LANE: Well, I think if you look at polls, which unfortunately, that’s all we really have to go on. He’s trailing slightly to Joe Biden. I — my gut tells me that with I think it’s above 50% of the public also telling pollsters they wouldn’t vote for Donald Trump, which is very different from the GOP primary electorate. You’d have to say, he is, of course Trump is vulnerable. But if there is a third party, that chips into Joe Biden’s vote that could change. And a lot depends, I think also on who Trump picks as a running mate.
But I have the impression watching that debate that you have these a certain group of candidates like Chris Christie, Mike Pence, others, practically begging their primary electorate to kind of come to their senses, you know, understand, like, Nikki Haley was saying, look, we don’t have 60 votes for an – an abortion ban, so let’s do something more moderate, and they are being tuned out by this primary electorate, which is absolutely still devoted to Trump.
RADDATZ: And – and, Patricia, I – I want to ask you about something you said in the piece and down there. You called Joe Biden a depreciating asset. What are you seeing of – of the president’s chances there, and in – in the black vote in particular?
MURPHY: Yes, so, Joe Biden’s policies have been very popular, particularly among the Democratic base. We’ve had billions of dollars flood into the state of Georgia. We’ve seen a lot of policies that Georgia voters, particularly Democrats, wanted out of him. However, his age I do think is an issue. Kamala Harris also has not really been presented as a viable alternative if something, God forbid, happens.
So, he is a depreciating asset. I think about him a little bit like a car that’s been driven off the lot. He has a lot of miles on his tires. However, in a general election, Donald Trump is like a car bomb that’s gone off in the Republican Party. Our own Republican governor has to go back and tell Republican voters, these elections are secure. This election was not stolen. Our nominee needs to look forward, not back. He’s talking about Donald Trump. So, Republicans are worried about the apparatus of the election, that their own Republican voters have been convinced by the former president that they can’t trust those ballots, and then also just about his politics.
RADDATZ: OK. Thanks to all of you. I know you’ll all be back.
Coming up, the latest on that jet crash mystery and the fate of the man who led a short-lived mutiny in Russia.
Stay with us.
RADDATZ: Coming up, 60 years since Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech at the March on Washington, Pierre Thomas looks back at the watershed moment in the push for racial equality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR: Putin is someone who generally thinks that revenge is a dish best served cold. So he’s going to try to settle the situation to the extent he can, but, again, in my experience, Putin is the ultimate apostle of payback. So I would be surprised if Prigozhin escapes further retribution of for this. So in that sense, the president’s right. If I were Prigozhin, I wouldn’t fire my food taster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: CIA director Bill Burns speaking just last month after Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s uprising against the Kremlin. Prigozhin died in a mysterious plane crash in Russia this week. We’ll discuss the fallout with our panel, but first let’s check in with foreign correspondent Tom Soufi Burridge for the latest on this astonishing story.
TOM SOUFI BURRIDGE, ABC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: It was captured on video circulating online, the private business jet blowing apart mid-air minutes after taking off from Moscow, with Russian officials confirming this morning that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the notorious Wagner mercenary boss, was on board. U.S. officials telling ABC News it’s likely a well-placed bomb caused the plane to disintegrate at 28,000 feet.
Prigozhin leading a mutinous march towards Moscow just weeks ago, now dead. The Kremlin claims it had Prigozhin killed “all of it an absolute lie.”
Prigozhin a longtime ally to President Putin. His Wagner mercenary army accused of atrocities, peddling Russian influence abroad in parts of Africa, Syria, and in Ukraine. Prigozhin then falling out with the Russian Ministry of Defense, launching his rebellion. Putin calling it a stab in the back.
This week, Putin describing his one-time friend as a talented businessman but saying Prigozhin had “a complex destiny and made serious mistakes in life.”
Meanwhile, after a long and costly fight this summer, signs of a possible breakthrough for Ukraine’s counteroffensive along the crucial southern front, Ukrainian forces saying they’ve broken through the first line of Russian defense on a key axis. But there are still two more lines of Russian defense to go.
U.S. General Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs, calling Ukraine’s counteroffensive “bloody” and “slower than planners had thought.”
For all the damaged Russian weaponry on display here to mark Ukraine’s independence day, Ukrainians in that counteroffensive are paying with their lives to try and retake their land.
We asked Ukrainian President Zelenskyy about the counteroffensive and continuing U.S. support.
How confident are you in your strategy right now? What are you doing to reassure your allies? And is there a plan B?
Zelenskyy saying next year could be very difficult, and calling U.S. lawmakers who want to cut aid to Ukraine as dangerous voices in Congress. Adding his team will give all its time and energy to help maintain U.S. support calling the counteroffensive a difficult task.
Tom Soufi Burridge, ABC News, Kyiv.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to Tom Soufi Burridge for that.
Joining us now is Colonel Steve Ganyard who investigated aircraft mishaps for the Marine Corps and served as an official in the State Department, and Julia Ioffe, a Russian-born journalist who emigrated to America as a child and a Washington correspondent for “Puck”.
Welcome to you both.
And, Steve, I want to start with you. Let’s get back to Prigozhin.
You watched that tape carefully. You thought at first the aircraft might have been shot down. Officials now say there was likely a bomb on board, but either way, airplanes don’t just fall out of the sky.
COL. STEVE GANYARD (RET.), ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: They certainly don’t. If you look at some of the video there, it’s still tantalizing. It seems the U.S. intelligence community said they don’t think it was a surface-to-air missile because we didn’t see any radar emissions coming up that we detected.
But if you look at it in one of those videos, there’s a smoke trail behind that airplane. What is that? If you look at some of the wreckage, there are puncture marks going from outside in.
If you look at the wing they pulled off, very clean break. We don’t see any sign of defamation. We don’t see any sign of blast.
So, I think it’s still a mystery. But that’s probably the point, Mr. Putin wants this to remain a mystery because he wants his enemies who may betray him to know that somehow, somewhere, if they betray him, he will hunt them down and kill them.
RADDATZ: Of course, the Kremlin is denying they had anything to do with this, but was this any surprise at all? It clearly is a warning to his enemies.
JULIA IOFFE, PUCK FOUNDING PARTNER & WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Of course. I think more than anything though, it’s a message to the elites because after, you know, after Prigozhin’s mutiny failed, everybody thought, is Putin weaker now, you know, are other people going to try to do the same thing? Well, A, the guy with the army, the private army couldn’t do it, and B, he was just shot out of the sky, right, or blown out of the sky.
And it seems like this is again, a message to the elites that if you try this, I might let you think that you’ve gotten off. I might let you think that you’re forgiven and I will find you. And it doesn’t really matter how. I did it. It doesn’t matter if I shot the plane down, if I had a bomb on board. I’ll figure it out and you won’t be safe.
RADDATZ: And to Julia’s point, how did Prigozhin ever think he would get away with this attempted mutiny?
GANYARD: Someday we may learn what was the terms of the deal. Did he kompromat on Putin? Was there something that he was holding on Putin? But this will be something that the — that the history books will have to determine.
But it really was a brilliant move. It was evil brilliance to bring this airplane down because seven out of 10 people on that airplane were senior Wagner officials. So, you have not only Prigozhin, but you have his deputy, sort of his chief operating officer. They’re all dead now.
So, essentially, in one fell swoop, Putin has decapitated the whole organization, and there’s no heir apparent.
RADDATZ: So, that’s over. But will they have somebody else come back?
GANYARD: There’s nobody who’s apparent. Remember that Putin has been continuing to dismantle this organization.
RADDATZ: But an organization like that, some type of mercenary organization?
IOFFE: Well, the GRU has been muscling in on that turf and ever since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the GRU and the Russian military have tried to form other mercenary groups that would compete with Wagner, and now, it seems like this was actually probably the best way to get rid of them.
RADDATZ: Julia, I know you have a lot of contacts in Russia. You talk to Russians all the time. What is the sense there now? What are people saying who you talk to?
IOFFE: That, you know, this was bound to happen, and to your point before about why he thought he would get away with it, right? A lot of sources in the U.S. texted me when it happened. You know, how could he have gotten on a plane after this?
But the fact is, that Prigozhin was flying back and forth on that plane, including inside Russia with no problem. In fact, he even had a private audience with the czar, with Vladimir Putin for three hours inside the Kremlin.
So, Putin was doing everything he could to kind of lull him into a sense that, you know, it’s all right, Yevgeny. We’ve smoothed it out. It was a misunderstanding. I know you weren’t coming for me. You were just coming for the defense minister. It’s okay.
And then two months to the day of the mutiny, he blows him out of the sky. And again, the elite heard the message loud and clear that, you know, any thoughts that they may have had of opposing Putin in word or deed or even thought, now have to stop.
RADDATZ: And, Steve, I want to talk about the battle in Ukraine. You saw Tom’s piece there.
RADDATZ: We heard Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs say this counteroffensive is going slower than they thought and yet it appears that Ukraine has made movements into Crimea. How significant is this?
GANYARD: Yeah, no war ever goes according to plan, and nobody wishes more than the Ukrainians that this has gotten better. But we have seen Tom notes that been — we’ve seen these reports in the past few days of a potential breakthrough of the first line of defense and that is through the minefields. It’s important to understand really what the Ukrainians are facing here. It’s a — it’s a defense that the Russians have had months to set up. It’s layered. It starts with a minefield that the Ukrainians do not have proper mind clearing equipment. So much of this is on hands and knees while they’re being shot and shelled. You also have a second line of trenches. And then finally, the third you’ve got the Russians within trenches. So, it’s quite, quite a challenge for any military.
RADDATZ: But — but some progress there. Thanks to both of you.
Up next, Pierre Thomas looks back at Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic Dream Speech 60 years ago.
We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOLANDA RENEE KING, GRANDCHILD OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: If I could speak to my grandfather today, I would say I am sorry, we still have to be here, to rededicate ourselves, to finishing your work and ultimately realizing your hidden dream.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: That was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s only grandchild, 15-year-old Yolanda Renee King, marking the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington this weekend.
ABC’s chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas reflects on King’s most famous speech and why his dream still resonates today.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., ACTIVIST: I have a dream that one day —
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sixty years ago, the hopes and yes, dreams of the Civil Rights Movement converge and what was truly a historic moment. It was the pilgrimage of 250,000 people culminated on the National Mall at the feet of the Lincoln Memorial.
THOMAS (voice-over): The country had never seen anything quite like this. A spectacle of consequence involving a nation grappling with race, freedom, issues of class, and simple human dignity.
What would King have to say that day? Would there be violence? How would police react? How would the nation respond?
The fact that there were 6,000 National Guardsmen and nearly as many D.C. police mobilized tells you everything you need to know. But why is it that, all these years later, we pause to remember and ask the young to study that day?
What is it? Why are we still drawn? Why can’t we let that day go? Why mustn’t we let it go?
Perhaps it’s because what was at stake, because we know right now the journey toward a more perfect union is far from over. But the answer lies in King’s speech, undoubtedly one of the most important in the nation’s history.
Many remember the sweeping, hopeful, spiritual oratory of what at times seems more like a sermon.
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
THOMAS: But King’s words that day were also political, aggressive, piercing, even biting. He was demanding action and indicting the country. The speech begins with a reference to the Emancipation Proclamation, and how it freed slaves. But within 40 words, King has this to say.
KING: But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.
THOMAS: And later, this.
KING: We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.
THOMAS: King rose to the moment, spoke to the moment in a speech that inspires us, motivates us, and yes, haunts us to this very day.
For “This Week,” Pierre Thomas, ABC News, Washington.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to our Pierre Thomas for those important reflections. We’ll be right back.
RADDATZ: That’s all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out “World News Tonight,” and have a great day.