Friday , 16 November 2018

'This Week' Transcript 9-16-18: The Latest on Florence

A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated. For previous show transcripts, visit the “This Week” transcript archive.

KARL: And let’s bring in the director of North Carolina’s emergency management, Michael Sprayberry.

Director Sprayberry, you issued an ominous warning yesterday saying that this flooding is only going to get worse. How bad is it? And how bad do you expect it to be?

MICHAEL SPRAYBERRY, NORTH CAROLINA DIRECTOR OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: It’s bad right now. And we do expect it to get worse over the coming days. We will tell you that we have got over 1,000 search and rescue personnel that are out with over 2000 boats. We have around 36 helicopters that are either in the air or available to us to perform search and rescue operations. We know that’s going to be a major mission going forward, because this is historic and unprecedented flooding.

KARL: You’ve witnessed a lot of major storms, a lot of big hurricanes in North Carolina. How does this one compare?

SPRAYBERRY: I would tell you that this is one that’s for the record books. We’ve had unprecedented rainfall, as I just said, and flooding. We’ve also had some extreme coastal storm surge that was well predicted by the National Hurricane Center and we had some pretty high winds. I will tell you that the winds ended not — thankfully not being as high as expected. But we had that triple threat. There’s going to be a lot of damages, I know, to tens of thousands of North Carolinians’ homes, so we — we have a lot of work cut out for us.

KARL: And I know —

SPRAYBERRY: We’re still in the response phase, though, right now.

KARL: Yes, I know you’re still in that response phase. There’s still a lot more rain to come, a lot more flooding expected. Do you have an initial assessment of just how bad the damage is and what it is going to take to recover?

SPRAYBERRY: I can tell you that we’ve already received an expedited disaster declaration from the federal government. We’re looking to add some more counties to that in the coming days. This will be a long term recovery. As you know, we’re actually still recovering from Hurricane Matthew in October of 2016, so it will be a massive, long term recovery. But as I said, we’re still right in the midst of a very aggressive and large response at this time.

And so for people that have been asked to evacuate, we really want them to heed the advice of their local officials and evacuate.

KARL: You’re at the State Command Center there in Raleigh. Are you getting everything that you need from the federal government right now?

SPRAYBERRY: Absolutely. We have incident management assistance teams, I’ve got a federal coordinating officer with two deputies here. As a matter of fact, we have our region four administrator right here with us. We have a — a — a large number of urban search and rescue teams, swift water teams, the Coast Guard, all here from the federal government to assist us. It’s a full team effort. They are integrated into the response. Team North Carolina, one team, one mission.

KARL: All right. Thank you, Director Sprayberry. We’ll look forward to talking to you again soon, getting another update. Thank you.

KARL: And joining me now in Washington is the U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz. He oversaw the Coast Guard’s responses to Hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey last summer and is taking a lead role in the federal response to Florence. Currently there are more than 3,000 Coast Guard members in the disaster zone (ph), some of them taking part in those dramatic helicopter rescues that so far have saved 57 people.

Admiral Schultz has also been briefing the president on the latest developments. Admiral Schultz, thank you for joining us here.


KARL: So when did you last give the president an update and what did you tell him about the situation.

SCHULTZ: Well I was involved in a phone briefing to the president yesterday, in person briefing the previous day. We gave him an update, we being Department of Homeland Security partners, secretary of Health and Human Services, other members of the White House team. We talked about the — the massive, you know, risk the storm poses, catastrophic flooding, prolonged flooding, we gave him an update on response capabilities in the theater.

The president is completely leaning in. Anything the feds need to do to support the locals, the state partners here in South Carolina, North Carolina. We feel fully supported.

KARL: And we’ve been seeing the dramatic video of those helicopter rescues. 57 people already saved by the Coast Guard. Do you — are you confident that you have the resources in place to get to all of those that are going to need evacuation in the days ahead?

SCHULTZ: Jon, I absolutely feel very confident. We’ve got 28 aircraft in the region, those are rotary wing helicopters, large Jayhawks and smaller Dolphin helicopters, 11 fixed wing. We’re part of a federal team. There’s National Guard, air east resources (ph) available, we’re supporting the states, I’ve got 35 what we call shallow water rescue teams, 25 teams in North Carolina, 10 in South Carolina. They’re part of the team that Michael talked about out of the EOC that are — that are local, state and feds working together.

The partnership’s strong, the dialogue’s good, we’ve got the right connective liaisons in the emergency operation center. So we’re ready to continue to respond to this very challenging situation.

KARL: What’s your biggest concern in the days ahead?

SCHULTZ: My biggest concern is the rising water. You know, you heard reports of 24 inches of rain in Wilmington today with potentially 15 inches more. The storm is moving very slow. It went from 2:00 to 3:00 (ph) almost stagnant yesterday, eight miles an hour, that’s still slow. It’s southwest of Florence, South Carolina. It’s going to be in the state another, you know, good part of 24 hours before it moves out up through the Ohio Valley. So we’re looking at a high — high water situation.

The rivers potentially crest here into the early part of this week, so we have not seen the worst of the flooding. People need to heed the warnings from their local emergency management experts and — and stay in safe grounds. And again, this could be a more catastrophic flooding situation before it’s over. So I’m concerned that — you know, if people make good choices, they — they stay advised and in tune — and I can assure you, though, that the — the local state federal team is ready to continue to respond.

KARL: Because as we saw with Harvey, the – the worst came after the storm.

SCHULTZ: And every storm, Jon, is different as we’ve seen. This was forecast to be a, you know, category four or five storm, everyone’s thinking about the winds. It downgrades to a category one storm, but it’s persistent.

It’s very much in many regards like a Harvey that just sat still and dumped 52 inches of rain down in Houston. Here we’re looking at, you know, feet of rain as well and the water really is what tends to pose the most risk to people.

KARL: Before you go, I’ve got to ask you about the president’s comments on Hurricane Maria. You were intimately involved in that effort, Coast Guard did a lot – a lot of good work down in Puerto Rico.

But the president called that relief effort a unsung – incredible unsung success. Is that they way you saw it?

SCHULTZ: Jon, I will tell you this, every relief, every storm is very different, we’re seeing that play out. I just spoke a little bit about Florence, what was predicted, what was actual.

I would say the response in Maria was – was massive in terms of it’s – it’s an island, which makes things (ph) challenged. The – the supplies that were lifted in by sea, by air, I’ve got 600 plus Coast Guard men and women that call Puerto Rico home. They work out of there.

We leaned in with every bit of energy we could as a federal agency. I saw my FEMA colleagues, other agencies working hard. You know, the dispute about numbers, those are locally generated numbers.

I believe that the Department of Homeland Security welcomes transparency on that. I’m focused on this storm, that’s what’s in our wheelhouse today and we want to make sure we’re protecting the citizens of the Carolinas.

KARL: But you saw the devastation first hand, you don’t have any reason to doubt that official death toll, do you (inaudible).

SCHULTZ: I’m not – I’m not calling any numbers into doubt, what I’m saying, Jon, is I was – as our team was part of it, we were very much supported and powered to get down there and try to be helpful.

It’s a challenging area, the localities, you know, you go from San Juan where the major population center is out to very remote areas. We had men and women, you know, driving materials in, flying materials in, off duty when they’re supposed to be getting some rest, carrying water and things in like that.

I saw what I saw and I know the fed efforts that I saw were very much committed to the – to the citizens of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

KARL: All right, Admiral Schultz, thank you for giving this update. Talk to you again soon.

SCHULTZ: Thank you, Jon.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: Joining us now to discuss what this all means, former Whitewater independent counsel Ken Starr, author of the new book, “Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation”. And President Obama’s ethic czar, Norm Eisen, also out with a new book, “The Last Palace: Europe’s Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House”. Judge Starr, let me start with you. This development surprised a lot of us.

Were you surprised to see Manafort not only plea guilty but — but agree to this full cooperation?

KEN STARR, FORMER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL, WHITEWATER INVESTIGATION: No, he was under tremendous pressure and had I been his counsel, I would say Paul, we gave it our best shot in Alexandria, he had his opportunity before a jury and he was convicted on a number of counts. So given the seriousness of the charges that were awaiting him (ph), he did the right thing. He did the smart thing.

KARL: But you’ve been in — in Mueller’s shoes, trying to get agreements from — from witnesses. Give what Mueller offered here, a cap of 10 years for all those charges, how significant would the proper had to have been from — from Manafort?

STARR: Well, there were three days of negotiations, we are led to believe. So we don’t know. But I would say this. It is very likely that Paul Manafort has indicated through his counsel and directly that he can provide very helpful information, useful information to get to the bottom of what Bob Mueller and his team have been charged to do. So it is a very significant breakthrough. Now, having said that, from my own experience as I recount in the book, you enter into an agreement with someone, Webb Hubbell.

We did not think that Webb Hubbell, an echo of the past, cooperated with us. We enter into an agreement with Governor Jim Guy Tucker after his conviction. Very similarly situated to Paul Manafort. And it turned out he really didn’t have as much information as we thought he would. But the key is —

KARL: Monica Lewinski certainly did, but that’s a — that’s a —

STARR: That’s a different — that’s a different part of the story.


KARL: Yes.

STARR: But the key thing is truthfully — you know, there were some adverbs that were used that are very important. Fully, truthfully and so forth. Will the witness in fact — will Paul Manafort be truly forthcoming and give more than what the typical cooperating witness gives you, which is 80 percent. Will he give 100 percent. Not make stuff. You know, said (ph) oh, he’ll say anything that the prosecutors want him to say. No. Bob Mueller’s an ethical guy, he’s an honest guy. He will, I think, say, as we would say to our witnesses, we can deal with the truth, whatever the truth is, what we can’t deal with are lies.

KARL: Norm, you’ve known Robert Mueller for decades. What is your read on what he expects to get out Paul Manafort.

NORMAN EISEN, FORMER ETHICS CZAR, PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Jon, thanks for having me back on the show. Pleasure to be here with my friend Judge Starr. Bob is highly ethical but also among the most rigorous — I would say there is no prosecutor alive who’s more rigorous than Bob. I don’t think given the nature of the fight that Manafort put up, the seriousness of the crimes and the power of the evidence of those crimes, Jon, that this deal would have been offered absent some very powerful evidence.

And, you know, in our profession in the — those who defend and prosecute criminal matters, you only get a deal like this if you go up the chain. Who is up the chain from Paul Manafort, who was the chair of the Trump campaign?

KARL: Not many.

EISEN: Don Jr., Roger Stone, the campaign itself and perhaps ultimately the president. So I think there is a substantial — we don’t know for sure, the judge is right, but I think there’s a substantial possibility that this evidence that Manafort is offering will implicate somebody up the chain.

KARL: So – so, Judge, the – we’ve heard Alan Dershowitz, who has often been very positive about the – about the president, saying that this is a huge win for Mueller, opens up a lot of doors that have not been opened in terms of the Russia investigation.

At the same time, we hear a very dismissive reaction, perhaps not surprisingly, from the president’s legal team. This is meaningless, has nothing to do with the president himself. Who’s right? We don’t know.

STARR: We don’t – we don’t know. Understandably, it would be dismissed by the president as nothing further (ph) and there’s nothing to this. But I think Alan is right that, look, Bob Mueller now has someone who’s cooperating with him.

He was on the other side of the courtroom fighting every step of the way and now you have Paul Manafort saying I’m not here to help. So I’m going to honest, I’m going to be truthful, because by the way, if Manafort is not truthful, the deal is off.

And it’s the prosecutor who makes the determination of whether the witness is living up to the agreement of being truthful and cooperative. So we don’t know. The way I think Bob Mueller – and I have worked with Bob Mueller – is looking at it is I now am moving toward getting to the bottom of the whole originating issue of collusion, because what Paul Manafort was doing in his representations is violations of federal law and support (ph) are all prior to the Trump campaign and so forth.

So there’s a sort of ancient history quality to what he has plead to. But now he was of course the campaign manager, so this is a very helpful, I think, thing for the American people.

I know, because (ph) the nation is so divided, but we should want the truth. Let’s get the facts out. Let’s don’t have fake news, let’s just have the truth, and I think Mueller is in a situation now to help us do that.

KARL: Now Manafort had been in this joint defense agreement with the president’s legal team. How does that complicate things and does that – does that go away now?

EISEN: Well the joint defense agreement does go away now. There’s no – joint defense agreements are founded on common interest, Jon. So the interests have diverged. What doesn’t go away is privileged information that was shared by the president or by his lawyers with Manafort and his lawyers originating from Trump during the pendency of that agreement.

It’s the same as if President Trump had provided that attorney client privilege information to his own lawyers. That’s protected, so Manafort can’t say well here’s what I heard the president says about the Trump Tower meeting.

But Manafort can speak fully and completely, and the reason I believe is a wrote in the Times the other day the reason that I believe that this is the pivotal turning point is – and the judge knows this full well from his investigation, which secured 14 convictions, Manafort is a sure up (ph) for the key moments.

He is somebody who – who can come to court and explain – for the first time we have somebody who was at the infamous Trump Tower meeting. We have his notes, he can explain his notes, he can talk about the run up to the meeting, the afterwards.

KARL: And how significant is it that this agreement says that he will talk to investigators, answer their questions without his attorney present?

STARR: Well I think it’s enormously, again, helpful to doing what? Let’s get to the truth of the matter. You – I – it’s hard to overestimate the sense that prosecutors have – we want to get to the bottom of these issues so we have all the facts and we can assess those facts.

And so it’s all the more helpful that Paul Manafort has said you – you have me and I’m going to give you the truth and nothing but the truth. So I think this is – this is really good for the country.

KARL: What happens if the president pardons Manafort at this point?

STARR: He has the power to do that. And then I think it really becomes an issue of is that an abuse of power on the part of the president in light of an ongoing investigation. I have a very different view of obstruction of justice than a number of folks and —

KARL: Which is a topic for — for another discussion, but what happens if the pardon — if he is pardoned. Does the cooperation cease? Does Manafort suddenly — does he walk away from all this and not answer any —

EISEN: The pardon, if anything, creates more exposure because now there can be no — once you have that pardon, there can be no claim that you have any additional — that Manafort has any additional fifth amendment risk. Right? So you can just drag Manafort and throw him in the grand jury. But that’s going to happen anyhow, Jon. This evidence is coming out. I really —

KARL: Well a pardon doesn’t — doesn’t stop it.

EISEN: The pardon will only — in my view will only hurt Trump. It will only dig his — his — the hole deeper. But I think this — this week is going to be looked back on as a historic turning point.

KARL: OK, we’re just about out of time. Quick predictions from both of you. How much longer does this go on? Is this an indication that the Mueller investigation is really just beginning or is — is wrapping up?

STARR: Depends on what Paul Manafort has to say. What is he pointing folks to, and it may very well be that some of the things he’s going to point — maybe — Bob Mueller to will be handed off to others in the Justice Department. IN other words, Bob Mueller may say I’ve done my job, here it is, here’s my report to the deputy attorney general.

KARL: When do you think this ends?

EISEN: You know, having just completed the history of Democratic inflection points over the past 100 years, Jon, the history as seen through the windows of that house that the judge — I was pleased to welcome the judge and his wife Alice this evening there, this is the — I believe not the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning for Donald Trump.

KARL: Very —

EISEN: We have seen a new chapter. He’s not going to survive Manafort’s testimony. That’s my prediction.

KARL: Very — very Churchillian of you. Judge, Norm, thank you very much for joining us. We’ll be back in just two minutes with the powerhouse roundtable and their analysis of the political fallout of the Manafort deal. What does it mean that Trump’s approval ratings are down and Mueller’s are up?

KARL: And now to our exclusive interview with CEO Jamie Dimon – The head of JP Morgan chase, he’s one of the last remaining bank CEOs who worked through the 2008 financial crisis – which began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers ten years ago this weekend. Now a decade later, could a Wall Street executive like Dimon be the next businessman to make a run for the White House?

Our Rebecca Jarvis caught up with him this week in New York.

REBECCA JARVIS, ABC NEWS: Why not throw your hat in the ring, Jamie? (Laughter)

JAMIE DIMON, JP MORGAN CHASE CHAIRMAN AND CEO: I said this before Trump was elected, you’re not going to get a wealthy New Yorker elected President. Boy, I was dead wrong. And by the way, this wealthy New Yorker actually earned his money, it wasn’t a– it wasn’t a gift from daddy.

JARVIS (voiceover): JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon taking aim at the president – saying he could beat Donald Trump in a potential 2020 match-up.

DIMON: I’m as tough as he is, I’m smarter than he is. I– I would be fine. He could punch me all he wants, it wouldn’t work for me, I’d fight right back.

JARVIS (voiceover): But immediately after, in our exclusive interview, Dimon backpedalled.

DIMON: Yeah, I shouldn’t have said it. And I – more out of frustration and a little of my own machismo. But I shouldn’t have said it and so — it also proves I wouldn’t be a good politician.

JARVIS (voiceover): President Trump seemed to agree, firing back on twitter the next morning, “the problem with banker Jamie Dimon running for President is that he doesn’t have the aptitude or ‘smarts’ & is a poor public speaker & nervous mess – otherwise he is wonderful.” Dimon – who once served on the president’s now disbanded strategy and policy forum – says a run for the White House is out of the picture – for now.

JARVIS: So you’re, you’re done with politics?


JARVIS No running for president for you.



DIMON: I never say never to anything but no.

JARVIS (voiceover): But the Wall Street titan is wading into public policy – from immigration – to health care – and yes, Donald Trump.

JARVIS: Unemployment below 4 percent. The market is at record highs and consumer confidence is booming. How much credit does the president deserve?

DIMON: You know, when President Trump was elected, confidence skyrocketed, consumers, small business, large corporate and because pro-business, pro-competitive taxes, pro some regulatory reform– and that has helped the economy. So it’s impossible for me to tease out how much but it has helped the economy. Just like that President Obama helped to stop the economy from getting much worse. But they also did policies I think that slowed down growth. Some of those are being reversed. Yeah, he should take some credit for that.

JARVIS: What kind of grade would you give President Trump purely on the economy?

DIMON: I’d say pretty good.

JARVIS: B plus? A minus?

DIMON: Yeah, something like that.

JARVIS (voiceover) Dimon is optimistic about the current economy – but ten years ago it was a very different story.

CHARLES GIBSON, ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT ANCHOR: Financial institutions are in trouble. 158-year old Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. Stock giant Merrill Lynch was sold after just two days of discussions. It is all a bit dizzying.

JARVIS: Are we in a place where the banking system will never see something like that happen again in the United States?

DIMON: I think it’s a mistake to say the banking system. The banking system is very, very, very healthy. And regulators should actually take a little bit of a victory lap because Lehman would not happen today. But there will be a recession one day, but it won’t be the banking system. It’ll probably be something else.

JARVIS: Banks got a considerable amount of the help. Do you think they’ve done enough post crisis, to help rebuild this economy?

DIMON: So I think your question is a little unfair. All the banks — banks got help — I mean I think the government did the right thing, I want to give full credit and TARP was part of that, but not all the banks needed that. And all those banks including JP Morgan continued to lend money every day to all their clients nonstop around the world. They also– some caused the problem, and I understand that the American public looks at it and it’s unfair and it was. Okay, they look at it like the elite Washington banks a bunch of — kind of… kind of got bailed out and they suffered. And there’s some truth to that. And they didn’t see Old Testament justice. So I understand why there is a lot of anger out there.

JARVIS: How would you in your role resolve that anger?

DIMON: I can’t. There’s nothing I can do. All I can do is serve my client everywhere around the world. Do good things, try to earn our respect every day with our clients and communities. That’s the best I can do.

JARVIS (voiceover): And this week, JP Morgan pledged to invest 500 million dollars in communities over the next five years through its “Advancing Cities” initiative.

DIMON: We know that working with government, working with civic society, working with business, how can you lift up affordable housing, jobs, education, entrepreneurs of color and all of these things can make these cities better?

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