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tv   This Week With George Stephanopoulos  ABC  August 27, 2017 8:00am-9:00am PDT

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"this week" with george stephanopoulos starts right now. hurricane harvey barrels into texas. torrential rain. epic floods. devastating damage. the latest from our team in the storm zone. plus, texas governor greg abbott and the president's point man join us live. then, trump unleashed. >> the future belongs to us. >> blasting the press. >> the media's totally dishonest. these are sick people. >> a polarizing pardon. >> i don't want to cause any controversy. is that okay? but sheriff joe can feel good. >> attacks on his own party. >> nobody wants me to talk about your other senator. nobody knows who the hell he is. >> the president playing to his base. but at what cost? what will this mean when trump needs congress come september? how can he govern alone? the powerhouse "roundtable"
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tackles another head-spinning week of politics. and after years of skepticism -- >> let's get with it. let's get out of afghanistan. >> trump reverses course. >> i'm not going to say when we're going to attack. but attack we will. >> can he succeed and win america's longest war? we'll break down the politics. smoke out the spin. the facts that matter, this week. good morning. we have a lot to get to this week. we begin with the latest on the devastating storm. hurricane harvey has been downgraded. a tropical depression now. the damage is significant. the danger is real. especially in the city of houston. more than 6 million americans are facing life-threatening floods. overnight, more than 1,000 rescues. authorities now warning people to get out of their at ix and on to their roofs. the city's 911 system is overloaded. citizens asked to call only if
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they're in imminent danger. and with the ground already water-logged, the storm slowing to a crawl. that danger could grow in the days ahead. the texas governor, the president's homeland security advisor are standing by live. we begin with abc's steen yor meteorologist rob marciano in the storm zone. no rain where you are right now. but houston getting pounded. >> reporter: everything east of the circulation, george, is where the heaviest rain is. this event over 12 hours old. officials saying it's a 500-year flooding event. just incredible stuff happening. worse than the floods over memorial day two years ago. worse than the tropical storm alison of 2001 which devastated the city of houston. overnight, scary stuff happening. as this rain came down. rescues ongoing. over 1,000 as you mentioned. folks doing what they can just to get out of where their flooded areas are. the waters continue to rise. the national weather service putting out an urgent message
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saying, don't go up into your attics. they don't want them to get trapped. go up to the roof. want to stress, persons should not go into their attics, but instead, on to the roof. this is a tweet. and if calling 911, stay on the line until it's answered. that will be stressed today and tomorrow. the bayous, the rivers, flooding right now. 48 gauges going into major flood stage. some of the bayous already in record stapges. right through the city of houston. buffalo bayou, jumping 30 feet in a few hours since saturday. the brazos river in major flood stage as well. the satellite, the radar shows all that rain coming off the gulf of mexico. this is very high rain rates. some cases, six, seven inches per hour. no way for that rain rate to drain out efficiently. the next 12 hours, we're looking for potentially another 12 inches on top of the 12 inches we have already seen. >> what should we expect in the coming days? >> reporter: more rain.
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it's a matter of where those rain bands set up. the circulation of what is left of harvey is not going to move that much. we think another 12 inches on top of the 12 inches that we expect today, on top of the 12 inches they got last night. potentially, over three feet of rainfall expected through wednesday. we say time and time again, george, it's not the wind from a hurricane or tropical system that kills people. it's the water. the inland flooding especially. that's the number one cause for tropical storm-related fatalities. the folks in houston are trying to prevent that from happening today. george? >> okay, rob, thank you very much. let's get more on this from the governor of texas, greg abbott. he joins us from austin this morning. thank you for joining us. we heard rob marciano tell us about the devastating situation in houston. what can you tell us about the situation on the ground? >> well, obviously, the water is rising. this is a situation that houstonians have dealt with before. because houston is in an area that is prone to flood about once a year like this. this is one of the worst if not
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the worst that houston has suffered. what we're involved in, at the local level especially, is rescuing as many people as possible. understanding that our top goal is to make sure we save lives. this is an all-out effort on search and rescue. and saving people's lives in houston right now. >> you were warning people on friday to evacuate houston. that didn't happen. mistake? >> listen, the local officials know best about this. the reason why they made the call, i think, is because they understood that the hurricane itself was unlikely to hit houston. and they were prepared for the flooding that is occurring right now. so they have assets in place. texas, overnight, has provided them additional assets. including our military high-level vehicles that will assist in rescuingi inpeople, as
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well as sending boats and perhaps helicopters to be involved in the search and rescue process. >> what is your biggest worry? are you getting what you need from the federal government? >> i tell you what. we could not be more appreciative of what the federal government has done from the president on down. because, everything we have asked for, they have given us. the most important thing was i made a disaster declaration that the president granted very swiftly. and what that does is it triggers fema's involvement. fema has been actively involved and engaged in this whole process, long before the hurricane even hit ground. because of their assistance, texas will be able to begin the rebuilding process swiftly. >> expect to come back to the federal government for emergency funds to help with that? >> the emergency funds will come through fema. what we will be doing is we'll be expanding the number of counties included in the disaster declaration. obviously, harris county now will be added to this.
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we're very thankful for the swift, effective action and support we have received from the federal government. >> the white house says the president expects to visit texas this week. does that make sense or risk diverting resources away from the relief effort? >> well, it depends. as you know, we had a hurricane hit around the corpus christi area that is now moving northeast. and is over closer to the houston area. and it depends on where he goes. we're already, for example involved in the cleanup process in corpus christi. if the president were to visit there, it wouldn't hinder any efforts. we'll have to wait and see where the storm goes, understanding that this entire storm has been very unpredictable in its movement. i couldn't tell you right now where it will be in two days. >> governor abbott, good luck. thank you for your time this morning. >> thank you, george. we're joined by the homeland security adviser tom bossert. thank you for joining us. you heard the praise from governor abbott on the federal response. what is your focus for the next phase?
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>> good morning, george. thanks for having me on the program. so the president's focus and mine remains on supportinging the governor. it's very nice to hear the governor give us that praise. i think it's a mutual feeling. president trump is giving all the latitude of the federal government that he can. brock long, our fema ed a a ministraiter is taking those reins and coordinating efforts. people focus on coordinating federal efforts. what brock is doing is really pretty special. he's coordinating federal efforts across different departments and agencies. he's coordinating volunteers and workers and professionals from other states, as well. we have talked a lot this morning about the search and rescue efforts under way. life-saving and life-sustaining is our effort right now.
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help is coming from all over the country. there's a lot of effort under way. what brock has to do and what the president has to remain focused on and what i try to help him focus on is unity of the efforts. we'll focus on that for the next 24 to 48 hours. >> the president has just tweeted he'll only visit when he can be sure he's not interrupting. any idea? >> we'll go where we can without getting in the way of the operator. we won't prevent lifesaving activities from taking place. the president wants to go to show support. he doesn't want to get in the way. he's been very clear about that. we'll let the details play out. he'll get there as soon as he can. >> you heard the governor say he's expanding the number of areas that need emergency funding. is the president prepared to ask congress for more funds? >> sure. here's how this works. in a way that maybe people would understand. what the president did was gave the authority necessary to the federal government to the fema administrator to do what he has to do. now, what the fema administrator has to do is work with the governor and figure out where to apply those resources. we'll have some number of
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counties where we'll focus our efforts the. if additional counties require assistance, he doesn't have to come back to the president. in terms of money, i think we have $3 billion in the disaster relief fund right now. that's money that can be spent on future efforts and current efforts. that is also the open disasters of which there are 30 around the country right now. >> the president on friday night around 10:00, as the storm was taking shape, announced by twitter he was pardoning sheriff joe arpaio in arizona. he was convicted of failing to follow a judge's order to stop racial profiling. both republican arizona senators and speaker of the house paul ryan made comments. and this morning blast from former vice president. he says the president's contempt for the u.s. constitution and willingness to widen this nation knows no bounds.
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now he's pardoned a law enforcement official who terrorized the latino community, violated its constitution gnat right, he defied a federal court to stop, and ran a prison system so rife with -- your response? >> vice president joe biden is loved and known for his hyperbole. i think that's another example of it. i think there is disproportionate coverage right now. as i and governor abbott focus on the 4.6 people in the greatest houston area. i think the arpaio pardon is straightforward. george, as you know, the president you worked for and just about every modern president ends up with some controversial pardons. i think the president has been pretty clear on it. it's not fair to characterize him about not caring about the rule of law. >> that came from senator mccain and speaker of the house paul ryan, as well. you're absolutely right. presidents have absolute pardon power. president clinton got criticized for his pardon of mark rich.
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but this is somewhat different. president trump said arpaio was con vicked for quote doing his job. how is defis a court order to protect constitutional rights doing his job? >> as i understand it, it was a contempt order, not an issue of -- of his job or not his job. i don't know the details of it. i know the president is clear about his defense of it and his decision. i'm pretty certain, too, george this is not something that will threaten our constitutional order. >> that is being -- disputed by the speaker of the house, paul ryan, senator john mccain as well. the president, you say he's been clear in defending the sheriff arpaio and his pardon, he called him a patriot who kept us safe also praised his admirable service. he held inmates in horrible conditions. humiliated them. promoted the birther lie about president obama. how is that admirable service?
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>> i'm sure those are all assertions that you're much more familiar with than me. right now, i'm focused on not only the 4.6 million people in the houston area, but the millions of people around the country trying to bring together outside of these divisive political questions, their efforts and their prayers to help those people who are in need. my guess is not too many people care about this one guy right now. they care about the millions of guys that are -- >> but wait. wait a second, tom. i understand that. and you have been praised for the work you're doing on the flood. but you're also the adviser of homeland security. sheriff arpaio's actions come within the realm of homeland security. i'm asking, how can you call the actions laid out by sheriff arpaio, contempt of court, man, something he's shown no remorse for, admirable service? >> well, i didn't -- what i think you're doing is asking me what the merits of the pardon are. i think there's a clemency argument that can be made for the long history of service in the united states military and in law enforcement for the sheriff. i think the president hads been
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very clear, he's been pretty straightforward that he believes that that long history of service merits this clemency. he's acted accordingly. i suspect you're disagreeing with it. i understand that. i respect it. >> i'm asking whether or not you agree with it. let's move on to the border wall. that comes in your responsibility. the president in phoenix threatening to shut down government funding for the wall. let's listen. [ chanting ] >> all: build that wall. >> build that wall. the obstructionist democrats would like us not to do it. but believe me, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall. >> the president promised repeatedly in the campaign that mexico would pay for that wall. so hi should the government shut down over a wall that mexico is is supposed to pay for? >> i think the key here is that the funding for the wall that has to come now, the the immediate funding for this capital project has to come through this appropriations process. the means and mechanisms for reimbursing our -- and to making some agreement with the mexicans
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can come through other forms. i think the president has alluded to that on a number of occasions. i think what is important here is that the wall works. i said recently words matter and walls work. i said that for a reason. just before the speech you played, george, we had visited the yuma sector where a wall was built in 2006, or starting then. the results have been pretty undisputable in terms of the reduced number of border crossings. and the length of that 370-mile or so region of responsibility for that sector was not patrolable without some kind of wall. from my perspective. the wall works. it's a small investment for the return we receive. the president has asked for it in a responsible budget package. that carries out the responsibilities of the entire federal government. i think the responsibility falls
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back to the democrats and others in congress to decide whether that priority is something they would like to shut the government down over or if they would like to carry out the president's order. >> the president threatened to shut the wall down. he said the mexicans were going to pay for it. you said the words matter. the president has known since january from the mexicans from a phone call himself, that the mexicans are not going to pay for it. the secretary of state hasn't brought it up in meetings with the mexicans. neither has the secretary of the treasury. can you concede that the mexicans are not going to pay for the wall, which is why you're asking congress to pay for it? >> no, as i said a moment ago we'll go through the mechanism to get the initial money we need from congress through an appropriations process and we'll responsibly construct a barrier on the border. as we work with the mexicans and other policies and trade policies and such, we'll determine ways to make that right. >> no indication from the mexicans they're going to pay for it. is the president saying he's going to veto any funding bill that doesn't include wall funding? >> we'll let that play out.
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i have ever confidence right new that congress is going to meet the president's budget request. it puts us on a path to solvency. i think we'll get a good bill from the congress. if we don't, we'll end up in a continuing resolution. the american people will see there is obstruction from congress. and they'll be continued in their frustrations. >> the democrats and republicans made it clear they're not going to have the wall funding. the president talked a lot about charlottesville in phoenix this week. late in the week, gary cohn, your colleague in the white house, spoke out to "the financial times," he said citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-nazis, and the kkk, this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups. do you believe that the administration can and must do better? >> i believe the administration has condemned those groups. i have gone on the record and
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done it a number of times. i would like to say it again in clear, unequivocal terms. there is is no room in this country for racial violence, or bigotry, or neo-nazi groups. at all. period. i can't be clearer. i think the administration has been clear. for me, i'm focused on the 4 or 5 million people, probably 23 million people at the end of the day in the direct path of the storm that are suffering. i hope that gary cohn is focused on the 300 million people who need tax relief. i know donald trump is. >> the president also said there were very fine people marching with the white supremacists. who did he have in mind? >> well, i think you'll have to ask the president how he wanted to parse the groups of people. but i suspect from being around him at that time, that you'll find some reason to believe that there were two groups that were there, multiple groups that were there, not creating any moral equivalency between them. but citizens from charlottesville, not the outside
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protester groups. i would ask you to ask the president for clarification. that is my suspicion. >> speaker ryan has spoken about this. once you see the torches, hear the chants, how can you be a very fine person and continue to march? >> i don't think anybody chanting those things is a very fine person. period. >> tom bossert, thank you. >> thank you. "the roundtable" coming up. taking on another week with president trump demonstrated he's going to do things his way whatever the consequences. we'll be right back.
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fine young soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines. you just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other. >> defense secretary james mattis praising the military's role if unifying the country. our "roundtable" is here to take on another week in politics right after this. to take on another week in politics right after this. we asked somee when they actually did start saving. this gap between when we should start saving and when we actually do is one of the reasons why too many of us aren't prepared for retirement. just start as early as you can. it's going to pay off in the future. if we all start saving a little more today, we'll all be better prepared tomorrow. prudential. bring your challenges.
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and pad at the lowe's "labor day savings" event. the very dishonest media. those people right up there with all the cameras. [ crowd boos ] >> the only people giving a platform to these hate groups is
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the media itself and the fake news. these are sick people. you would think they would want to make our country great again. and i honestly believe they don't. i'm really doing this to show you how damned dishonest these people are. and they're bad people. and i really think they don't like our country. i really believe that. >> president trump not holing back tuesday night in phoenix. even had a shoutout for me. good thing i was sleeping through it. let's talk about the president on "the roundtable." joined by matthew dowd. julie pace, the washington bureau chief for the associated press. roland martin. the host and managing editor of news one now. christopher ruddy, the ceo of news max media. a long-time friend of president trump. and jen psaki. communicatio communications director for president obama. now with cnn. a lot to get to this week. including the late-night pardon on friday night. as the hurricane was taking hold. of sheriff arpaio. you heard tom bossert on that right now. but the president meeting some real fierce opposition. >> i noticed, my love and
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prayers to fellow texans and what they're going through today. i notice bossert's focus was let's focus on texas. i don't want to focus on this. well, the president is the one who caused this to be focused on because he did a late-night pardon on friday in the midst of the hurricane going on. to me, what donald trump has done and said, reminds me of an emerson quote. your actions speak so loudly, i can't hear what you say. this is somebody that constantly has talked about healing, healing, healing, but almost every single one of his actions as president has been the exact opposite. >> and chris ruddy. pretty clear the president was going to do this regardless. "the washington post" reporting last night, that he asked early in the administration, if he could stop the prosecution of joe arpaio. it doesn't appear he cares what the reaction is. >> i think he sees the situation on a individual basis. he knows joe arpaio. 85-year-old guy. has some health conditions. served the country for 50 years.
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we all cover people where they have been government agencies or heads of agencies haven't followed government orders. the justice department will fine them. sanction them. rarely do they ever go to jail. a lot of people say this is political vindictiveness. coming out of the obama justice department. the president says, you foe what? obama pardoned and commuted a record number of 1700 people. we never talk about any of those people. some of them were murders. were being very selective. >> let's talk about the differences here right now. he waited a couple of years. went through the justice department process, include people showing remorse. there's on remorse from sheriff arpaio. to your point about sheriff arpaio's record, the president explicitly in his statement praised the service of arpaio. we went through his record. i don't think there has ever been a case like this before where you saw a pardon for someone defying a court to
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pursue racist ends. >> i personally don't like what sheriff arpaio did with the racial profiling. the president never said he endorsed any of that. >> he said he kept arizona safe. had admirable service. >> look, the guy was elected how many times in phoenix? i mean, he has a long record. 50 years of public service. and i think, you know, the president looked at this and said, wait a minute. let's give this guy a pardon. the process for a pardon is very easy. the constitution says the president can give a pardon. >> no question he has power. >> i think this was about one thing. that's trump's base. he's nervous about his base. the fact is that's not his biggest problem, though. his biggest problems are the arpaio pardon feeds into this is that he has moderate republicans dropping off. he has leaders in congress questioning whether they want to be with him and be partners. he's spent the last few weeks alienating large swaths of the population. >> julie pace, you everyone saw the speaker of the house come out pretty quickly to oppose this. that's been a rare move by the speaker.
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>> it has. paul ryan has tried to split the difference on these types of issues where he'll condemn the outcome but not the president himself. this was more forceful. to have the speaker, the senators from arizona, other republicans come out quickly and oppose this in the climate where you have seen republicans moving away on other issues from the president, it makes him turn to his base. makes him want to get the love if his base he's so used to on the campaign trail. that is is not the weak spot for him right now. >> i don't want us to forget what arpaio did. he racially profiled individuals. i'm not dealing with the politics. he defied a court order. that's what he did. trump has been pushing the racial resentment buttons of white americans from the elections to the present day. he was in line with a birther who was racist and shameful. trump and arpaio have yet to apologize. for that. what is more shameful. these conservative evangelicals who stand with trump and have not condemned in inhumane
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treatment of joe arpaio. ralph reed. jerry falwell jr. they're worried about the p-r-o-f-i-t of the faith, not the p-r-o-p-h-e-t. be prophetic voices who lead. >> this guy can't win. he's either a racist. >> i didn't call him a racist. >> anyone that's known the guy, and i have known him for a long time. many many people have known him. no one has ever heard him engage in any racial anything. let's talk about -- >> sheriff arpaio was racially profiling -- >> how was he racially profiling? >> the court said it. that's why he was held in contempt. >> that's what he was convicted of. >> the reason we're having this conversation and the reason he got pardoned is because he racially profiled. how can you deny that fact? >> i haven't studied the whole case. >> i have. a federal judge did. >> i think we're going into a period of where it's not fake news. it's selective news.
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>> wait a second. we would not be talking about this if president trump didn't issue the pardon and the tweet at 10:00 friday night. >> when lyndon johnson launched the war on poverty, blackings h had 3% of the gdp, 12% of the population. 50 years later. >> we're not going down the rabbit hole. >> trump is saying let's improve the black empowerment. >> the problem with what you're saying, actions speak louder than words. as the old saying goes. when you're the president of the united states, you have no more power than to act to help people. large swaths of the african-american population of the country feel completely alienated after charlottesville. >> i'm not going to chase this rabbit hole. chris, chris, kri -- >> one at a time. >> i'm not going to shift the story, which you're trying to do. he pardoned a man who racially profiled and was sanctioned by a federal court. he could have allowed him to also appeal. you mentioned president obama and commutations, those are people sentenced in jail. arpaio wasn't.
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so what he did is he actually got ahead of this -- chris, chris, you can try to shift the story. he racially profiled. >> my big concern. >> nice try. >> just to drop back a little bit on this is -- donald trump in his desire to destabilize the status quo, which needs reform and all that. has gone out of his way to decimate the common standards and the -- attributes of our country and the institutions of our country where the last two weeks have demonstrated how much we need the institutions of our government. charlottesville was a demonstration of how much we need a president that can heal, unify, and not benefit by racial divisions in this. the hurricane is a demonstration how important the institutions of the government are. as and donald trump, one after another after another, decimates those institutions, we have an inability to unify and fix it. >> he's taking on his own party
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right now. a series of tweets from the president, also talking in phoenix where he takes on all the leaders of the party from paul ryan, mitch mcconnell, bob corker. the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee. jeff flake. he has to keep the government open. try to pass tax reform bill. and he's saving his fire for his own party. >> for the exact people he needs to make progress in all of those things that you talk about. in talking to republican operatives working on 2018 races the last couple of weeks, it's driving them crazy that he's targeting these republicans, not the democrats. they understand why he does it. he doesn't see himself necessarily as part of this party. it's a pure marriage of convenience here. but whether they like it or not, the president party and the president are linked together at least for the next 18 months. >> george, this is manna from heaven. if you're a democrat, you're saying, please keep tweeting. >> it's not good for the country. >> no, no. i understand. >> it's not good for the
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country. >> every time he attacks a republican senator, he's writing the commercial of their democratic opponents. >> i think he should rethink the attacks on senator mcconnell. the president's biggest accomplishment if you look back is neil gorsuch. senator mcconnell pushed that through. he's got very strong support in the senate. paul ryan gave the president a damaged bill of goods with the health care. there's a lot of angst over that. i think the president, i have urged him privately and publicly, to reach out, create a bipartisan consensus like president bush did. get legislation through. this is a guy that -- >> doesn't sound like he's listening to you. >> the reason is, people are -- why hasn't the president done -- he's been under such attack by the press. no president has ever sustained this attack. there were people like maxine waters were calling for his impeachment before he took the oath of office. it's horrific what is going on.
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>> it's a difference between -- >> he's dumping a bucket of water on his head and complaining of being wet. he constantly does this to himself. >> i would say you and everyone else and the major media is dumping the bucket of water. >> how many of donald trump's wounds over the last seven months have been self-inflicted? seriously? >> the majority. >> i would say he should rise above and not punch down and go to a higher road and try to reach out to even some of his enemies, which he doesn't do enough. he's very capable of doing it. >> that's exactly what happens. he goes to the vfw on wednesday. talking about unity. after the barn burner on tuesday night. one chorus that is endorsing what the president is doing right now, taking on mitch mcconnell and paul ryan. those who left the white house. steve bannon, seb gorka. reinforcing the president's strategy of attacking those in congress they don't think are conservative enough. >> they have made clear some of their enemies are in the white house, right? and the people they're going to continue to attack.
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now, the problem is this. donald trump won with not a huge, overwhelming, sweeping victory. he has a little bit of wiggle room. not a ton. and when he and people on the outside attack people like mitch mcconnell, people he needs to be partners, these are not people that will be as popular as donald trump around the country. they are people who will be his street fighters in getting stuff done. and he has no legacy-building accomplishments. >> the first lady of the united states says she wants to be part of a campaign against bullying. she might want to start with the president. you might want to play nice with the folks you need. that doesn't work with him. he's used to being a bully. we're seeing the bully in chief. >> he's a tough negotiator. >> no, that's a bully. >> isn't he going to have to back down in september? >> you'll never see those words come out of his mouth. he'll shift it like every other time. i'm struck, first of all, i hope donald trump in the course of the next five days brings the
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immense power of the government and the relationships he has to deal with this catastrophe in texas. when he's not hawking a book by somebody else in the morning when people in houston are underwater. i'm struck by george w. bush, who i worked for, was elected in a very questionable circumstances, as you remember in 2000. >> just a little bit. >> george w. bush in his first steps reached across the aisle on the tax bill with max baucus. reached across the aisle to ted kennedy on the education. all of those circumstances, he understood that he didn't win the popular vote. he was under -- he was questioned as a legitimate president and sought to figure out how to get through that. donald trump has decided do the exact opposite. >> it seems he's more interested in securing his base than expanding it into a governing coalition. you cover the white house every day. i wonder what your sense is of what kind of atmosphere that is causing inside the white house right now? we saw gary cohn speak out. you heard tom bossert there. a loft churning inside.
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a lot of relief that general kelly is there. >> absolutely. the stretch after charlottesville was one of the most extraordinary stretches in any white house that i have seen. in terms of how the staff responded to that. some people really on edge. none of them have left. you can't give people too much credit. they're saying things privately and what they're trying to push behind the scenes. there's a lot of tension about the future of this administration. whether the president can get in -- get this on track. and they feel like the best way he can do that is have accomplishments. >> which may be why gary cohn stayed. >> which may be why gary cohn stayed. tax reform. tax cuts. that is going to be difficult. >> it's profiles in almost courage. that's all this is. they want to get credit for taking a moral stand without taking an actual moral stand. that's my problem with this. if gary cohn believed what he said, it wasn't a way to give a wink to people and say, oh, i
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really does agree with this but i'm going to stay here. he should have taken a real stand. >> the crazy thing here is, you have democrats who probably would be there on tax reform. but if you have made no effort, if you trash them all day, and you made no effort to talk to them, and then they're watching you trash your people, they're saying, you know what? i'm good. i'm going to stay right here. because i'm not wasting my time going to the white house visiting you. >> i think a donald trump criticism is not a normal political criticism. everybody knows it's a little bit theatrical. i would take it with a grain of salt. some of his attacks on the press. he's creating, he's negotiating. >> i'm sorry. we're not. >> you're laughing because you know it's true. >> no, because i've been the subject of it, though. >> the nice thing about him is he'll criticize mika and joe, but won't call the irs to do an audit of mika and joe. where previously -- >> oh, my god, why, chris -- >> he just lets it hang out.
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>> he's such a blessing. >> look, we voted for it. >> actually, 94 pgt % of black didn't. >> it was a big electoral college victory. i think the president has some support. i think he will reach out. i think he's creating a negotiating position. >> thank you for not calling the irs. we appreciate that. >> a lot of democrats saying in the wake of the pardon was that really was a signal to anyone who might be a target of robert mueller's investigation, i've got your back. >> well, yes. and here's why. the process piece of this that should be concerning to people is, one, he sought out his attorney general to see if he could get rid of this nasty piece of legal business against his political friend. and two, the department of justice was not remotely involved in the pardon. which they have said. that is what is very different from past presidents. it furthers this belief that he lives above the law. that he doesn't think. that he's all powerful.
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that the checks and balances that have been in place for decades, hundreds of years, don't apply to him. that's concerning to people because people suspect there could be a need for more pardons to come for other allies. >> he ran on this law and order candidate. has done his very best to try to dent the law and order of our country and the rule of law. >> that is the last word today. thank you all very much. up next, the debate over president trump's new strategy in afghanistan with top advisers from presidents bush and obama. is the goal achieving victory or just avoiding defeat? why should over two hundred years of citi history matter to you? well, because it tells us something powerful about progress: that whether times are good or bad, people and their ideas will continue to move the world forward. as long as they have someone to believe in them. citi financed the transatlantic cable that connected continents. and the panama canal, that made our world a smaller place. we backed the marshall plan that helped europe regain its strength.
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afghanistan. we did not ask for this mission. but we will fulfill it. >> we have a clear and focused goal. to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al qaeda in pakistan and afghanistan. to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same. we will defeat you. >> we will break their will. dry up their recruitment. keep them from crossing our borders. and yes, we will defeat them. we will defeat them handily. >> 16 years in afghanistan. you see the presidents reaction there. we're joined by two of america's foremost experts on afghanistan, zalmay khalilzad. and retired general douglas lute. served as u.s. ambassador to nato general. you have applauded the president's speech. aside from taking away the timeline on withdrawal, what is new here? why will it work when other approaches haven't? >> i think what is new, and i
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endorse it, is the sharp focus on pakistan. i don't think either president bush or president obama focused as sharply, as clearly, that the sanctuary issue, pakistan's both role as a facilitator of our help to afghanistan and as a sanctuary for those who fight us and in exchange receive a lot of assistance is not tenable. this has been in my judgment the single most important factor of the pakistan problem, for prolonging the war because of the sanctuary issues. >> isn't that in part because we have precious little leverage of pakistan, a country with nuclear weapons? >> we do have leverage. we haven't exercised it, in my view. we have the leverage of cutting off assistance. we have the leverage of going after the sanctuaries. the leverage of putting those individuals, as we do in the case of russia, we do it in the case of iran, to put individuals who support groups such as the
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taliban, terrorists group on a blacklist. we could put pakistan on the list of state-sponsored terror. so the fact that they have nuclear weapons should not prevent us from protecting spress or ta interests or from taking the steps necessary to shape pakistani calculation. i think pakistan feels comfortable with doing both. we need to get them out of that zone of comfort. >> will that make a difference? >> i don't think so. i'm actually skeptical. try to understand this problem from their perspective looking out. we don't have to accept it. but understanding it is the start point. that start point begins with their view that their tension their competition with india is existential. and everything flows through that lens.
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so i think, if you look at it from that perspective. if you look at the internal stability or the potential for instability in pakistan, with their pashtun population, with another population, you begin to understand better why pakistan has played this dual game. >> what does victory look like? is it possible? the president and secretary of state seemed to have different messages on that this week. >> our troops will fight to win. we will fight to win. we will defeat them and we will defeat them handily. >> this entire effort is intended to put pressure on the taliban to have the taliban understand you will not win a battlefield victory. we may not win one, but neither will you. >> simply, seems like the secretary of state is saying, we want to get to a stalemate. where the taliban feel they have to negotiate. i guess one of the questions is,
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if 100,000 troops didn't work, how are 8,000 going to work? >> if your goal is stalemate, we have achieved it. we have a political stalemate in kabul. a political stalemate in the region. and a political stalemate with regards to trying to enter talks between the afghan government and the taliban. so the poll the tix of this are just as stalemated. and i think more important than the security situation. >> what is going to make the taliban come around? >> i think when they -- have two conditions. one, that they believe they cannot win. and i think -- i think that the stalemate has been shifting in favor of taliban in recent weeks and months. >> they're gaining ground? >> they're gaining ground. so why should they negotiate for peace if they think they're going to win the war? and a key factor that would influence it is to not only to
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blunt that progress but to affect the calculation of their sponsor, their supporter, particularly pakistan. we have to see more details about how the president wants to proceed. in terms of details of what he will do to affect the calculus of the talibs and pakistan. >> can't they always wait us out? the cliche is, they think in terms of generations, centuries. we think in terms of election cycles. >> it is a cliche. but i think they are a practical people if they believe. especially if their sponsor comes to a decision. they're in a position to bring them to the negotiating table. i think that -- the pakistani
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military believes we will abandon afghanistan and therefore, they will have the opportunity to have taliban come back to power. i hope this strategy, assume it is implemented effectively, that we persist and assume that the afghan government does what it should do. this is maybe their last chance. this shift in calculations may occur. >> that means nation building? >> well, i'm not sure. i mean, the president said it does not mean nation building. i think it goes to zal's point. we have the outline. we have a sketch of the strategy. we don't have the details. strategy has three parts. what it is you want to accomplish. how you're going to do it. and then the resources required. last monday, we heard what it is we want to accomplish. win. durable solution. we heard little on how. we heard almost nothing on the resources required. until you have the whole, three-part package, it's very hard to critique something that is only an outline. >> it will take real diplomatic push. >> a significant diplomatic push. this has to be in the service.
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this military effort. the president needs to appoint someone he has confidence in that can lead the overall effort, especially the diplomatic effort. it can't be done by the regular bureaucracy at some low level. it needs to be done by someone that the president knows and has confidence in. >> this diplomatic effort has to be beyond kabul and islamabad. it's got to be a regiol approach to include some regional players who are very important to us and other areas, other arenas. iran. russia. china. all have a hand in this. >> better both be careful. you might end up with new jobs. we'll be back with more on hurricane harvey live from houston, texas. ore on hurricane harvey live from houston, texas.
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we do want to go back to houston, texas. the situation is getting worse. officials warning residents to stay off the streets. get out of their attics. get on to the roofs. our own reporter, victor oquendo is there. he's been in some trouble himself. victor? >> this is an area that normally doesn't flood. police officers thought this location would be okay for us. but things just went from bad to worse very quickly all across houston. the water is much deeper than this. across this whole parking lot. just take a look down that way. that black car submerged. beyond that, worse. we're talking about waist-deep waters. roads are turned into rivers. the highway is behind me. cars are stalled out all over the place. the latest numbers, 24 inches of rain in the houston area.
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and more than 1,000 rescues. we're actually one of those rescues. take a look. we continue to walk around here. all of our cars are now being moved up on to the sidewalk here. that is a constable's suv on the flat bed of the tow truck there. right now, for us, our game plan is to stay safe. we're getting a break from the stronger bands. as soon as the water recedes a little bit, we'll get to higher ground. a safer location. things are bad across the houston area right now. unfortunately, it looks like it will be this way for a few days. george?
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that is all for us today. thank you for sharing part of your sunday with us. you can get the latest on hurricane harvey from the abc news app and "world news" tonight. i'll see you tomorrow on "gma."
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