‘This Week’ Transcript 4-17-22: Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, NYC Mayor Eric Adams & NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell & Dr. Ashish Jha

ANNOUNCER: “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD: (Inaudible).

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST (voiceover): Genocide.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I called it genocide. Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be a Ukrainian.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): President Biden escalates his rhetoric. Sends more military aid as Russia assaults eastern Ukraine.

JOHN KIRBY, UNITED STATES ASSISTANT TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS: We’re aware of the clock. And we know time is not our friend.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): James Longman is live from the war zone, plus Ukrainian Prime Minster Denys Shmyhal, a “This Week” exclusive.

Subway terror. A mass shooting rocks New York City as violent crime surges in America’s largest cities.

ERIC ADAMS, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: We will not surrender our city to the violent few.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): What will it take to end the violence? New York Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell join us live.

COVID concern.

DR. ASHISH KHA, THE WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: The pandemic isn’t over. We have to continue to be vigilant. We have to continue to be careful.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): As cases rise in the Northeast, the CDC extends travel mask mandates ahead of the holiday weekend. The latest guidance from White House Covid Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha.

And tipping point.

PETER KALMUS, AMERICAN SCIENTIST: The scientists of the world are being ignored. It’s got to stop. We’re going to lose everything.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): Scientists sound the alarm on the climate crisis. Ginger Zee kicks off our Earth Day coverage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s “This Week.” Here now, George Stephanopoulos.

STEPHANOPOULOS (on camera): Good morning and welcome to “This Week.”

As we come on the air this holiday weekend Russia is making major advances in eastern Ukraine. Overnight, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy warned the conditions in the southeastern part of Mariupol were as severe as possible, with the city on the cusp of falling to Russian forces.

After weeks of attacks that have leveled Mariupol, Russia is poised to gain a strategic land bridge to Crimea as it prepares for a renewed assault on the eastern Donbas region. With the war now entering it’s eight week, both sides digging in for what could be a decisive battle.

Our foreign correspondent James Longman starts us off from the border of the Donbas region. Good morning, James.

JAMES LONGMAN, ABC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, George.

This is the Dnipro River which runs almost down the center of Ukraine. And just about every town and city east of where I am now is under the Russian threat, and that includes the city of Mariupol where fighting rages this morning. The sinking of the Moskva may push Vladimir Putin to unleash a deeper fury on the East.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LONGMAN (voiceover): This week, Russia suffered its biggest military loss of the invasion so far. Vladimir Putin perhaps, his biggest ever humiliation. The flagship of his Black Sea Fleet sunk by two Ukrainian missiles. Moscow says it wasn’t an attack. They blamed it on a fire and stormy seas instead. But the Pentagon agreeing with the Ukrainian claim, and this Russian strike on a missile factory outside Kyiv was the closest Russia got to admitting they’d been hit.

The Moskva was named for the Russian capital, it’ sinking an uncomfortable metaphor for what’s playing out here, and outdated war machine being outmaneuvered by Ukrainian daring (ph).

Heavy fighting in Donetsk, as this video on social media shows, the battle now intensifying in the East. And this week, a major claim.

BIDEN: Yes, I called it genocide. Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be a Ukrainian.

LONGMAN (voiceover): With everybody retrieved in Bucha, the forensic evidence of war crimes mounts. French experts join the effort this week. We saw the work they faced firsthand.

LONGMAN (on camera): I’m looking at one, two, three, four, five bodies in this tiny room in this basement where Ukrainians say people have been tortured.

LONGMAN (voiceover): Galina Machokov’s (ph) son, Sergey (ph), was among those victims. He was helping evacuees hiding in a summer camp when the Russians arrived.

GALINA MACHOKOV (ph): (Speaking in Foreign Language).

LONGMAN (voiceover): They came like a hurricane, causing so much pain. And for what, she asks. You can’t even imagine this pain, she says. My soul is crying.

And in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia, we heard chilling accounts of life in Mariupol, a city under siege since this war began.

Satellite images show large deployments of Russian troops moving east, repositioning armored vehicles and support equipment just across the border of the Donbas region. Military experts say Russia is trying to create an arc of occupation from Kharkiv in the North to Mariupol in the South. They want to form a land bridge with Crimea, which was annexed in 2014.

Putin citing the need to combat the NATO threat as European leaders continue a show of force. The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia traveled to Kyiv this week to meet with President Zelenskyy. And Finland and Sweden, traditionally neutral, indicating they may be moving closer to NATO membership.

MAGDALENA ANDERSSON, PRIME MINSTER OF SWEDEN: We have to really think through what is best for Sweden and our security and our peace.

LONGMAN (voiceover): Ahead of the expected Russian assault on the East, President Biden announced another massive military aid package, sending an additional $800 million of military equipment to Ukraine, including long range artillery systems, armored personnel carriers, drones, and helicopters. The U.S. has committed nearly $2.6 billion to Ukraine since the beginning of the war and is even considering sending an administration official to Kyiv.

BIDEN: Well, we’re making that decision now.

LONGMAN (voiceover): And everyone we meet here tells us how much they feel that help is needed. Like Sergei (ph), just back from the front (ph) for this much needed reunion. I’m doing this for them, he says. But the impact of what he’s had to do is clear.

LONGMAN (on camera): What’s it been like fighting?

SERGEI (ph): (Speaking in Foreign Language).

LONGMAN (voiceover): It’s scary but we’re holding on, he says. The weapons, we need them desperately. You see all this destruction and then a little man somewhere 1,500 miles away is telling us that what’s happening — what happened in Bucha is fake. Sadness briefly healed with a few happy moments but Sergei (ph) will soon be back to the fight with fresh memories of what he’s been fighting for.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LONGMAN (on camera): In many ways, this war has been all about Mariupol. It is the bridge between two areas that Russians already dominate, Donbas in the North and Crimea in the South. But if they do take full control, the price that city has paid may never be fully known.

George?

STEPHANOPOULOS: James Longman, thanks.

And we are joined now by the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Denys Shmyhal. Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for joining us this morning.

You know, the Russians have demanded surrender in Mariupol by early this morning. That deadline has now passed. Has the city fallen?

DENYS SHMYHAL, PRIME MINISTER OF UKRAINE: No. City still has not fallen. There is still our military forces, our soldiers. So they will fight to the end. As for now, they still are in Mariupol. But there is huge humanitarian catastrophe because there is more than 100 civilians which are suffering for more than 40 days of this humanitarian crisis and this — in this besieged city. And they have no water, no food, no heat, no electricity. And we a
sk all of our partners to support and help to stop this humanitarian catastrophe in Mariupol.

STEPHANOPOULOS: what would control of Mariupol mean if the Russians do indeed take control in the coming hours?

SHMYHAL: There are still our soldiers and some of the regions of Mariupol is under Ukrainian control. So there is no whole control from Russian side of — in Mariupol.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You discussed the humanitarian disaster right now. We’ve seen the battering of Ukrainian cities continue. The Austrian chancellor met with President Putin this week and he says that Putin now believes that he is winning this war. Has the tide turned?

SHMYHAL: For now, no one big city in Ukraine is not fallen and on the (inaudible) is under control of Russian military forces. But all of the rest of the cities are under Ukrainian control. We have some of the cities under — surrounding, so they’re besieged, but they’re still under Ukrainian control. Bigger and smaller cities and towns are under Ukrainian control.

Many cities, more than 900 cities and towns and villages in Kyiv, (inaudible) some (ph) regions are freed from the Russian’s occupation and are de-occupied (ph) during the last weeks. So we still are fighting, and we have battle in Donbas region right now, but we do not — do not have intention to surrender.

STEPHANOPOULOS: President Biden authorized another $800 million in military aid — in military aid this week. What more do the Ukrainians need?

SHMYHAL: We are so grateful to American people, especially to President Biden for support of Ukraine, to all of our international partners who support us with ammunition, humanitarian, technical support for our country. We need more money for executing our humanitarian and social obligations from inside (ph) our country.

Now, there are — only half of our economy is working. So, we ask for financial support and we will have meetings with ministers of finances, with prime ministers, with presidents in this sense.

And we have deficit of the budget about $5 billion per month during this — every month of the war. So, we appreciate and we are so gratituded (ph) for any financial support from the side of the United States and all of our international partners.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Will you be attending the World Bank meetings in Washington, D.C., this week to make that case for economic aid?

SHMYHAL: Our financial team will work next week in Washington, with all the specialists and managers of World Bank, of IMF, of U.S. Treasury. And we will — we all will have communications and negotiations about financial support of our country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What’s the state of diplomacy right now? President Putin said that the diplomatic talks, any talks about a cease-fire reached an impasse this week. Have they reached a dead end?

SHMYHAL: In any way, Ukraine will prepare to stop this war, doing diplomatic way, when it will be possible. But — if one of side of this war — if Russians wouldn’t like to have negotiations, so we will fight to the end, absolutely.

We will not surrender. We won’t leave our country, our families, our land. So we will fight absolutely to the end, to win in this war.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What’s your major message to the West this morning?

SHMYHAL: So, Ukrainians are absolutely responsible for what are we doing during this war. We protect our country.

For protection of our country, for protection for the European democratic — democracy, we need more sanctions from our West partners. We need more ammunition to protect our country and the European borders. We need more finances to support our people, our refugees, our internally displaced persons, to save our economy for future recovery — I hope in nearest time — because we are absolutely prepared for this — fight for this Russian attacks.

And thank you for our West partners for really support — especially to the United States which support us since the first day of this war. Thank you so much.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your time this morning.

Here at home, new signs of a crime wave plaguing the country with shootings in South Carolina and Pittsburgh overnight. They come in the wake of the subway mass shooting that terrified New York City this week. The latest violent crimes that have surged around the country since the beginning of the pandemic.

We’re going to speak with New York Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell after this report from chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was another painful week of gun violence seeping into every corner of American life. Seven days ago, people running for their lives at a teenage birthday party in a quite suburban neighborhood near Houston. Up to 50 shots fired.

And chaos yesterday to shopping mall in Columbia, South Carolina, nine people shot. And two juveniles killed during a party in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, just after midnight, among at least 11 wounded when gunfire erupted.

With violence at a level not seen in years, last Monday, President Biden was holding a press conference to make an announcement about his administration’s efforts to fight gun crime.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our communities are paying the price.

THOMAS: A core part of the plan, reigning in the proliferation of so-called ghost guns, whose parts can be bought online, assembled quickly, virtually untraceable because they have no serial numbers.

At that event, Mia Tretta is recalling as a high school freshman being shot with a ghost gun, along with her friend Dominique.

MIA TRETTA, GUN VIOLENCE SURVIVOR: One of the bullets hit me in the stomach. I was airlifted to the hospital and spent hours in surgery having a bullet removed from my abdomen, that was millimeters away from my major artery. Then my parents told me the terrible truth. Dominique had died and so had another classmate, Gracie Anne Muehlberger.

THOMAS: The recent surge in gun violence did not start on Biden’s watch, but he now owns the problem. There was a dramatic surge after 2019 with fatal shootings not including suicides, jumping from more than 15,000 that year to more than 19,000 in 2020, an increase of nearly 4,000.

That trend continued during the first year of Biden’s presidency, growing to nearly 21,000.

This year may not be much better. The very morning after Biden’s event, shots rang out on a busy subway train in Brooklyn. Twenty-nine injured, 10 shot, including several children on their way to school. A lone gunman with a mask tossing a smoke bomb, firing indiscriminately. Miraculously, no fatalities.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: We say no more. No more mass shootings. No more disrupting lives.

THOMAS: You’ve heard it all before. The proliferation of guns, career criminals terrorizing neighborhoods of law-abiding citizens, domestic violence in neighborhoods of every kind, mass shootings on the rise. All of it, according to some authorities, fueled by the stresses created by a pandemic that refuses to go away. One nation under continuous fire.

For THIS WEEK, Pierre Thomas, ABC News, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Our thanks to Pierre.

We’re joined now by New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell.

Thank you both for joining us this morning.

Mayor Adams, let me begin with you. Let’s begin with the latest on the subway shooting.

What more have you learned about Frank James and whether he could have been stopped?

ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Still under active investigation. Cannot thank the commissioner enough for the way she handled the investigation and brought him into apprehension. And so we’re still weeding through his history and other parts of this investigation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Commissioner Sewell, what do we know about why he turned himself in.

KEECHANT SEWELL, NEW YORK CITY
POLICE COMMISSIONER: So I think the fact that he called and turned himself in is evidence by the fact that we were kind of closing in around him. There were a number of avenues we pursued to try to locate Mr. James. We disseminated his picture, made the strategic decision to disseminate his picture and we had a number of people looking for him, hundreds of detectives looking for him. But I think one of the key factors also is our force multiplier, which are the eyes and ears of our incredible New Yorkers, and we were able to bring him into custody.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mayor Adams, in many ways Frank James was hiding in plain sight even before the attack. He was arrested several times. He had YouTube videos packed with hate and suggestions of violence. Do we need a better way to track individuals like this before they take this violent action? And whose responsibility is that?

ADAMS: Yes, I do. I believe we do. I think social media must step up. There’s a corporate responsibility when we are watching hate brew online. We can identify using artificial intelligence and other methods to identify those who are talking about violence. Ad you know my concerns around even what’s called drill music. Not all drill music, but those that talks about inflicting violence on rival gangs. That is driving some of the shootings we’re seeing in the parts of the Bronx.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Commissioner Sewell, we’ve seen a spate of crimes in subways over the year. The shooting was just the latest of those. Do we need a more robust police presence to convince people in New York City, actually around the country, that subways are safe?

SEWELL: The subways have to be safe and they will be safe. Since January, we enhanced patrols in the subway. We’ve done over 280,000 additional inspections by uniform personnel in the subway system. Couple that with our subway safety task force. As it stands now, crime in the subway is actually below pre-Covid numbers. But last week we graduated more recruits from the police academy and we’re surging more officers into the subway system. We recognize that people need to see a visible presence of police in the subway, and we’re endeavoring to make sure that that happens.

There’s also security measures that we don’t see, but we understand that that reassurance is required and we’re putting multiple officers in the subways every single day.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mayor Adams, you promised to focus on crime in your campaign, but major crime have continued to rise on your watch. How do you explain it? What more can be done?

ADAMS: A national problem. You know, I say over and over again, there are many rivers that feed the sea of violence. This is a national issue. It’s not a red state, blue state. In fact, red states are experiencing a higher murder rate than blue states. Tulsa is three times the murder rate of Los Angeles. Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, those are the highest murder rates in our entire country.

I think the president has done an amazing job. But you’ve heard the narrative beforehand about defunding the police. Let me tell you what the defunders of police are. Those are those who did not vote on the Build Back Better bill. Money was in that bill for police officers. We have 2,400 ATF agents in our country. Only 80 are in New York. We need to double that amount. We need to go after the ghost guns. We need to put a head to ATF in place. Put in place a real gun tracing program.

And then we have to be preventive. Many of these generational social problems have become the pipeline to violence. And the only thing that is beating that pipeline is the pipeline of guns that are coming into our inner cities.

Big cities are hurting all across America. We’re going to do our job. We took 1,800 guns off the street this year of — and we know that they continue to flow into our cities all across America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Commissioner Sewell, what’s the biggest challenge facing police right now? Is there a trust problem?

SEWELL: We work to rebuild trust every single day. We need to work with our communities, and we know that. So every single day we have officers out there, I’m out there, rebuilding that trust with the community because we need them. And I think we keep saying that public safety is a shared responsibility. This recent case illustrates just that. And everyone came together. So we need to build strength in our communities with the police.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Mr. Mayor, the former police commissioner of your city, Bill Bratton, had something to say about this this week on “Bloomberg.” I want you to listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BRATTON, FORMER NYPD COMMISSIONER: The scales right now are tipped very heavily in favor of the reforms of the progressive left. Well intended, some needed, but a bit too far. And what we have as a result is this growing fear of crime, this growing actual amount of crime, as evidenced in almost every major American city.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is Commissioner Bratton right?

ADAMS: Yes, I — I believe he is right. And he understood what we had to go through during the mid ’80s, early ’90s, when we had to transform policing. Major mistakes made throughout the years that destroyed the trust that the police commissioner is talking about. We have to rebuild that trust. But we can’t rebuild that trust by allowing those who are dangerous and that have — they have a repeated history of violence to continue to be on our streets. We have to unbottleneck the courts. Too many people during Covid, when courts closed down, have not served their time or have not been in the courtroom. And then we have to be honest about some of the things we’re doing generationally that has created the crime problem that we are facing right now. And that is why we believe in intervention and prevention to solve this issue that we’re facing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Commissioner Sewell, I saw you nodding your head. Do you agree?

SEWELL: I do agree. We cannot lose sight of the victims of crime. When believe the system has to be fair and balanced, but when we lose sight of the victims of crime, we are not doing what public safety is intended to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Commissioner Sewell, Mayor Adams, thanks for your time this morning.

SEWELL: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The roundtable’s coming up.

And White House Covid coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This two-week extension of masking on public transportation.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you help us understand some of the science behind this? Why two weeks?

PSAKI: What they’re looking at is that since early April there’s been increases in the seven-day moving average of the cases in the United States. So what they’re trying to do is give a little bit more time to assess its potential impact, the rise of the cases have on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths and the health care system capacity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki explaining why the CDC extended the travel mask mandate.

We’re joined now by the White House Covid coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha.

Dr. Jha, thanks for joining us again this morning.

As we headed into this holiday weekend, cases were up in 31 states, hospitalizations up in 14 states. Are you worried about another surge coming out of this holiday?

DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Good morning, George. Thanks for having me here.

The good news is that infection numbers are so low and, obviously, hospitalizations right now are the lowest level of the pandemic, but as you said, BA.2 is causing an increase in cases in many parts of the country. And I think what we need to be doing right now is monitoring this very carefully. I don’t expect a surge at all like what we saw in January. I think that is extremely unlikely. But we’ve got to take these things seriously,
monitor it closely and see where it goes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What do we know about BA.2? Is it the variant simply more transmissible or is it better at evading our immune defenses?

JHA: Yes, the good news on this, on BA.2, is that our vaccines are holding up just fine, especially if you’re boosted, you’re going to do fine. But the bottom line is that it is more transmissible, does not cause more severe disease and the vaccines are holding up so it’s that transmissibility that’s really causing it to increase in terms of infections across the country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that’s why we’re seeing this increase, this increase in cases — at least, we’ve seen cities like Philadelphia reimpose their mask mandate. As we just saw, the travel mask mandate was extended as well. But what are the right criteria for reimposing mandates? Some experts like Dr. Leana Wen say rising cases actually shouldn’t be the trigger. We should focus on hospital capacity and whether vaccines are still working. Does that make sense?

JHA: Yes, the CDC’s laid out a framework on this and I think it’s quite good and something I’ve been very supportive of actually for a while. And the CDC says we should look at a variety of things. We should be looking at cases, should be one of the factors. But we should also be looking at hospitalizations, obviously, because that matters more. And then we should be looking at hospital capacity and we should be making decisions based on all of those factors. And I think those all are important and that’s what the CDC guidance recommends, and I certainly agree that that’s what we should be using.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you expect the travel mask mandate to be extended again?

JHA: This is a CDC call, decision by the CDC scientists. They made out — they made it very clear that they needed 15 days to assess the impact of BA.2 on hospitalizations, deaths, to see if there’s a substantial increase in severe disease. My expectation is that we’re going to gather that data and within a couple weeks we’re going to make a more durable decision.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what’s your latest thinking on when or whether people should get an extra booster shot, a fourth shot?

JHA: Yes, it’s a very good question. The data out of Israel is pretty compelling. That’s what drove both the FDA and CDC to make the decisions it did. People over 60 when they got that second booster four months after their first, not only did they have fewer infections, but it also reduced mortality by a significant amount. If you’re over 60, you should be out there getting that second booster. 50 to 59 you’re eligible. Worth having a conversation with your physician. For me based on the data, 60 and above it’s very reasonable. This is what I recommended to my parents and that’s what I think people should do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is covid still a crisis?

JHA: it is still a real challenge for our country. If you look at this, we saw loss of people get infected. Americans are still dying every day from this virus. We’ve seen evolution of this virus over time. The pandemic is not over. As much as we wish it were, we’re in much better shape, but we have to keep plugging away at managing the virus to get back to our lives.

STEPHANOPOULOS: you’re about two weeks into the job at the white house. What have you learned about government work and what’s your biggest challenge going forward?

JHA: what I learned about government work is how important it is to do the right thing for the American people. For me and the advice I’ve gotten from my colleagues in the white house is focus consistently on what’s good for the American people. Drown out the noise. If you do that, it makes decision making a lot easier, a lot more impactful, but obviously that is what we’re all there for. That’s what we should be doing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Dr. Jha, thanks for your time and information.

JHA: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Round table is coming up, plus Nate silver’s take on the presidential race in France this week.

FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver is next.

We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: French voters head to the polls next weekend for a presidential election that pits incumbent Emmanuel Macron against far right challenger Marine Le Pen. It’s a rematch of their 2017 race. But polls show a much closer context this time, with major implications for France’s role in the world.

FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver has this take on whether Macron can prevail again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Let’s get one thing out of the way first.

Marine Le Pen has a real chance to become the next president of France.

In polls taken since the first round of the election last week, she trails Emmanuel Macron by an average of around 7 percentage points. That’s a much narrower gap than the 2017 election, when she was behind by around 22 points. There’s no precedent for a polling error that large.

But there have been some French elections, such as 1981 or 2002 where the polls missed by 7 points or more.

I’m going to skip some fancy math here, but, statistically, her chances are in the neighborhood of 10 percent or 15 percent, which is pretty high considering how consequential her election would be for France and all of Europe.

Still, Macron is ahead and there are factors working in his favor. One is that a number of the runners up from the first round, such as the left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, and conservative candidate Valerie Pecresse have either endorsed Macron or at least urged voters to vote against Le Pen.

If you add up all of their votes, plus Macron’s, it works out to 63 percent of the electorate, as compared to 32 percent for Le Pen, and the candidate such as the right-wing Eric Zemmour, who have endorsed her.

You’ll also sometimes hear that nationalists or right-wing candidates and causes out perform their polls, maybe because voters are shy about revealing their true intentions. People like to site examples like Trump and Brexit, for instance. But in Europe at least it hasn’t been true on average according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis.

Case in point, 2017. As I mentioned, Le Pen trailed by around 22 points in polling in that election, but she actually lost by more than that, 32 points.

Overall, Macron’s position isn’t secure, but I buy that he is the favorite.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Nate for that.

The roundtable’s next.

We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): This atmosphere for Republicans is better than it was in 1994, which leads you to ask the question, how can you screw this up? It’s actually possible.

You can’t nominate somebody who is sort of unacceptable to a broader group of people and win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: (INAUDIBLE) there from Mitch McConnell against a backdrop of Republican gains, anticipated Republican gains in the midterm elections.

Let’s talk about it in our roundtable with Chris Christie, Donna Brazile, our congressional correspondent Rachel Scott, and our newest ABC contributor Maria Elena Salinas.

Welcome. Good to have you here.

MARIA ELENA SALINAS, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, Donna, you see, Mitch McConnell referenced 1994, a complete bloodbath for Democrats. Is that what it’s going to take for Democrats to hold on, survive in midterm elections for Republicans to screw up?

DONNA BRAZILE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely, George. And all we have to do is wait over the next 37 days, as 11, 12 states hold their primaries. You have big primaries in Ohio and North Carolina, Pennsylvania where the former president has already tipped the scales and supported one candidate over another. The Republicans are essentially running on fumes. They’re running on the energy of 2020 which is the big lie.

Democrats are running on the economy that’s roaring back, that
is fighting inflation, that is helping the Ukrainians. Democrats will run on what they delivered. Republicans will run on the fumes of 2020.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Fumes of 2020?

CHRIS CHRISTIE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Come on. We’re running on the gas that Joe Biden is giving us at $5 a gallon. That’s what we’re running on.

We’re running on $5 gasoline. We’re running on 8.5 percent inflammation. We’re running on a failed withdrawal from Afghanistan. We are running on a president who — and the Democratic Party, that their own party, people like Larry Summers and Joe Manchin just said this week created this inflation through the rescue plan in January.

So, I said this last week, I’m more than thrilled for Donna and her group to continue to run on what’s happened over the last 15, 16 months. If they do, it will be — I don’t know if it will be a 1994 bloodbath, but I don’t think there’s enough seats left in play, George, to get to those numbers.

But I think you can see a 35, 40-seat win for the Republicans in the House if it continues. And you can see us at 52 or 53 in the Senate.

BRAZILE: So, Chris —

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that inflation the biggest concern of congressional Democrats?

RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The biggest concern primarily also for Senator Joe Manchin. This is something that has really stood in the way from Joe Manchin even supporting the Build Back Better plan. And I can tell you, being on Capitol Hill every day, he doesn’t even say the words “Build Back Better” to us anymore. He won’t even mention it in the hallways. He says that it’s dead.

And so, when he saw the record high 40-year inflation come out, he says it’s completely out of control. He says the administration and the Federal Reserve dragged their feet on this. They’re coming up rhetorical failures.

So I think Democrats are looking at the stack of problems against them. They know that inflation is high. They know gas prices are high.

They’re looking at the number of retirements, 31 Democrats retiring. And they’re also looking at that enthusiasm gap where more Republicans are more enthusiastic to vote in this midterm election, and they’re realizing that they need to get better turn out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Maria, when it comes to inflation, there’s not much the president can do about it?

SALINAS: There’s not much that he can do about it, but at the same time, people’s perception — and that’s what’s important. They look at the numbers. And it doesn’t matter we have low unemployment. It doesn’t matter gas prices are beginning to go down a little bit.

If the perception is things are more expensive. When I go to the market, everything is more expensive. Even if it does start to get a little bit better, that’s the feeling people have. And that’s what motivates people to go out and vote sometimes. Not necessarily fact, but the perception, what they’re feeling.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna, you made the bullish case for Democrats. But what do they need to do? Do they need to make adjustments between now and November?

BRAZILE: George, you know, I don’t like this argument that Democrats have to message better. Democrats have to deliver better. Meaning they cannot just send the checks back home to the governors who then have the press conference and saying, I love the American Rescue Plan, but they didn’t lift a hand to give the Americans a shot in the arm.

Unemployment is down to the lowest level. The Democrats are going to deliver on deficit reduction this year. Yes, it’s a hard gas to make when you see gas prices jumping up. Well, by the way, it’s 20 cents down, Chris, I know.

It’s even 20 cents down on my block. I don’t have to go to Costco.

CHRISTIE: I paid $5.20 a gallon yesterday, Donna. So, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

BRAZILE: Go to Costco, go to Costco.

CHRISTIE: OK.

BRAZILE: It’s down. It is down across the country.

And you know what’s down? Because Joe Biden is taking the necessary steps through the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

And also — I thought this was something you would celebrate this morning — he’s given some private companies the right to drill on federal lands. OK.

So I think the Democrats have to make a stronger case, a bolder case, and not allow the Republicans to essentially write the narrative and then we follow it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris, what about this concern that Mitch McConnell raised, that Republicans will pick the wrong candidates in their primaries? We’re seeing President Trump, as Donna said, weight in. He’s weighed in in Ohio. J.D. Vance, he weighed in a couple weeks ago in Pennsylvania with Mehmet Oz. Is he making the right choices? What kind of a factor will it be?

CHRISTIE: Well, look, it will always be a factor because the former president has influence inside the party. But I don’t believe his endorsements will be determinative. And I think you see that in the polling. You see in North Carolina where he’s endorsed Ted Budd, Pat McCrory is still ahead in the polling there. You see him going all out, in fact, in an unprecedented way, spending some of his own money in Georgia on the Brian Kemp, David Perdue race —

STEPHANOPOULOS: That seemed to surprise you.

CHRISTIE: It did surprise me a lot. And — but still only $500,000 so it’s not going to do anything in a race where they’re spending tens of millions. He’s losing there. Dave McCormick is winning in Pennsylvania right now despite the Dr. Oz endorsement.

So I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but McConnell is right at core, that if Republicans don’t nominate folks who can appeal to the general electorate, then all this momentum will be stunted in those states. If they pick the right people, then none of the — none of the momentum will be stunted.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Rachel Scott, another big concern for Democrats right now, the border.

SCOTT: Yes, the border and Title 42. The administration making this decision to rescind Title 42. There are a handful of moderate Democrats who are up in this midterm election who are particularly concerned about this. And they’re breaking away from the administration saying that this is the wrong move, that this is not the time. They’re saying what Republicans are saying, what is the plan when you’re going to see these surges at the border and we’re already facing these hard-hit issues in our own districts like (technical difficulty) issue but also a political issue when they’re going to have another line of attacks from Republicans.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is this a wedge issue that cuts against Democrats? Is this a wedge issue that cuts against Democrats?

SALINAS: I think it definitely does. And now that you mention Title 42, what comes to mind to me is that it really depends on who’s talking. Of course Republicans are going to say that President Biden is opening up the border but then critics are going to say it’s too little too late. Why didn’t he do this before?

Remember, this is a health initiative. It’s not an immigration policy that was implemented. So the CDC is already allowing kids to go back to school, people going back to baseball games and football games. Why do they continue to have this at the border when they forced these people to put up these camps, when the stay in Mexico policy, why are they not allowing them in before? It’s like you’re between a rock and a hard place. It’s really difficult for the administration. It’s like you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Facing similar dilemmas on crime, Donna.

BRAZIL: Crime, look, I said earlier that the Republicans had nothing to run on but fumes. But let me just tell you what they are — they will run on crime. Crime is a problem. Crime is a problem all across the United States of America because we have a problem with gun violence.

I mean, no matter if you’re at a mall, if you’re — if you’re at a bowling alley or a bar or even a school,
people are just shooting, shooting, shooting. It’s all over the United States. It’s not a Democratic problem. It’s an American problem.

You have 400 million guns out there in the hands of private owners. We’re going to have crime. But I do think that we need to have a whole of government approach and the private sector because we’ve got to deal with the fact we have a lot of teenagers, a lot of folks who are just disconnected from society and we have to bring them back in. And if we don’t bring them back in, crime is only going to increase.

And Chris, before you say one thing, because I know you’re going to hit me — you’re going to try to come at me but —

CHRISTIE: No. I would never hit you. It’s Easter, Donna. I’m just going to love you with the truth, my dear. Just going to love you with the truth.

BRAZIL: Well, hit me with an alternative set of facts. That’s what I meant by that. Not the other —

CHRISTIE: Yes.

BRAZIL: — part of it, okay? Because you’re a gentle breed, trust me, I know a lot of Republicans.

But look, in New York City, my uncle was a cop, my cousin a cop. There are more than 36,000 cops on the beat. The New York City crime budget is $11 billion. That’s more than the Ukrainian budget. So let’s be clear that we can increase the number of policemen. We can increase the budget for police. But you’ve got to bring in Social Service workers, you’ve got to bring in the Youth and Child Department. This is a huge issue that we —

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: — I don’t have alternative facts. I’m going to use the facts that came out in your interview today with Mayor Adams, the Democratic mayor of New York City, who when you asked him whether Bill Bratton was right that it was progressive policies that have caused this wave in crime —

STEPHANOPOULOS: In part —

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: In part, right. He said yes. He agreed with Bill Bratton. This is not Republican spin. This is —

It’s not Republican spin. This is the Democratic mayor of New York.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But doesn’t — but doesn’t that show you the Democrats are recalibrating, are changing? That’s not what you’re hearing from President Biden. That’s not what you’re hearing from Mayor Adams, the mayor of New York City.

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, Adams has a unique bit of credibility on this because he ran on this issue, in a progressive Democratic primary in New York City where people said if he ran on this issue, he couldn’t win. He proved, he did.

I think he’s sticking to his word, and I think the people of New York will give him the benefit for that.

But Joe Biden doesn’t get the benefit. When he was in the primary, when he was running for president, he was running left in the same way, not as severely as some of the candidates —

STEPHANOPOULOS: He was always against defunding the police.

CHRISTIE: He was always against defunding the police, George, but he was also standing with a lot of these reforms that have made that have turned out to be a mistake. And it’s not only reforms, it’s the attitude of local prosecutors that have been elected, in places like Manhattan, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago who are refusing to prosecute some of these crimes.

And this is the result you’re getting. Police aren’t being backed up. Crime is going up. And Democrats are going to pay the price for it because it’s their policies that changed us from a low crime country to a higher crime country.

BRAZILE: Democrats get blamed when Republicans don’t do anything. Obstruction is the only policy that the Republicans enforced. Joe Biden has never been someone who has called for defunding the police, not has any Democrat.

CHRISTIE: I didn’t say he did.

BRAZILE: Any Democrat. You look at Democrats running across the country —

CHRISTIE: Oh, come on, Donna.

BRAZILE: You take one or two isolated cases and you try to make it bigger than what it is. Look, I talk to Democrats like you talk to Republicans.

CHRISTIE: Yeah.

BRAZILE: I don’t hear Democratic governors. I don’t hear Democratic mayors. I don’t hear Democratic officials.

CHRISTIE: Not anymore. Not anymore. Go back to 2019 or 2020. It was a different story then.

BRAZILE: No, I didn’t hear it. You know what I heard? I heard that they wanted to train police officers. They wanted to improve community relationships with the police. That’s what they were talking about.

CHRISTIE: And let me tell you, Republicans did that, Donna. I did that.

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: And what you saw what happens just recently in Grand Rapids, Michigan, you understand why Democrats came out with those positions. But at the same time, from Joe Biden on down Democrats have had one position. We got to —

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: Donna, the American public doesn’t believe that. And the results are not showing that when Democrat have been in charge —

BRAZILE: Republicans don’t believe that.

CHRISTIE: Democrats have been in charge of our cities, and this president — the rhetoric that his party is using out of Washington, D.C. caused this problem and now, they’re retreating.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Rachel, you don’t hear defund the police too much on Capitol Hill anymore.

SCOTT: Oh, not at all. I mean, there’s a handful of progressives over in the House that want to potentially defund the police. But I mean, we’ve heard from the president himself, we heard from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, this is not —

BRAZILE: Schumer.

SCOTT: — a message that they believe even — yes, exactly, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has come out and said, this is not our message. This is not what we’re campaigning on ahead of the midterms.

And Mayor Adams just pointed out there was funding within that Build Back Better plan to actually help police officers.

CHRISTIE: And this is not a funding problem, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A nationwide problem.

CHRISTIE: And no one is alleging this is a funding problem. This is a policy problem. And these are policies that are being instituted by liberal prosecutors, supported — I know they’re not saying it anymore, Rachel. They’re not saying it anymore because it’s not popular anymore.

But when it was popular, I’m not going to say Schumer and those guys were in favor, but they were silent. They were scared and they were silence to oppose the progressives.

BRAZILE: I disagree, I disagree. I listened to Democrats who were never afraid.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Maria, you get the last word.

SALINAS: All right. But is it really — does it have to do with policy or does it have to do — especially the increase in the last couple of years, increase in crime, does it have to do more in the fact that people — were in pandemic, people were locked up? Doesn’t mean that people locked up commit crimes once they come out, but all that frustration, losing your job, having the prices of everything being higher, doesn’t that affect people?

And you combine that with the access to weapons does not — doesn’t that increase a crime?

STEPHANOPOULOS: The question is going to be the last word for today. Thank you all very much.

Coming up, Ginger Zee kicks off our network’s Earth Day coverage with a close look at the challenges to President Biden’s climate agenda.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We and the whole world need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels all together. We need to choose long-term security over energy and climate vulnerability. We need to double down on our commitment to clean energy and tackling the climate crisis with our partners and allies around the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: As we mark Earth Day this week, the fight against global warming is facing major hurdles. With gas pricing soaring, and stiff opposition to President Biden’s climate agenda in Congress and the Supreme Court.

Chief meteorolo
gist Ginger Zee reports on the challenges and the urgent need to address them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GINGER ZEE, ABC NEWS CHIEF METEOROLOGIST (voice over): The science and evidence is clear, human amplified climate change is here and it’s impacting Americans even more quickly than some of the science predicted.

The need for all countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is urgent, especially the biggest emitters — China, the U.S. and the European Union.

In a recent Gallup poll, the majority of Americans support policies to combat global warming. Policies Joe Biden has focused on since he was back on the campaign trail.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I’ll put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change.

ZEE: He came into office with bold ambitions.

BIDEN: That’s why I’m signing today an executive order to super charge or administration’s ambitious plan to confront the existential threat of climate change.

ZEE: Biden immediately rejoined the Paris Climate Accords and canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline permits, while making additional promises.

BIDEN: We’ll take steps towards my goal of achieving 100 percent carbon pollution free electric sector by 2035.

ZEE: He brought in key allies, like John Kerry and Gina McCarthy as climate advisors.

BIDEN: We’ll demonstrate to the world the United States is not only back at the table, but hopefully leading by the power of our example.

ZEE: In late 2021 it appeared Biden was making progress on his climate goals, especially when he signed the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act.

BIDEN: For the first time ever, it creates a true, national network of charging stations for electric vehicles.

ZEE: Many hoped the president’s Build Back Better proposal would help put more climate change initiatives forward, but the plan lacked support in Congress because of that $2 trillion price tag.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: There is no negotiations going on at this time.

ZEE: And after Russia invaded Ukraine, concerns about energy security mounted as gas prices and inflation soared.

SEN. JONI ERNST (R), IOWA: Let’s push this administration to get over their deranged climate policy and let’s unleash American energy.

ZEE: As calls for more domestic oil and gas production grew —

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING: Joe Biden has been fighting American energy as oil, gas, coal since day number one.

ZEE: Biden pivoted towards America’s energy crisis.

BIDEN: Today I’m authorizing the release of 1 million barrels per day for the next six months. And it is by far the largest release of our national reserve in our history.

ZEE: Critics have been vocal about what they say are the president’s wavering climate commitments.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: We have to draw down emissions to get credit for being committed on climate change.

DAN LASHOF, WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE DIRECTOR: Overall, I give him full marks for being ambitious. The problem is the climate crisis is so severe that we can’t grade on a curve.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZEE: This week you will inevitably hear all about ways that you can take individual action to help the planet. And that’s great. It needs to happen. But it also has to come in conjunction with major policy shift towards renewable energy and reducing emissions. That’s how we reduce the warming of our planet.

Now, Gina McCarthy, there are reports, that she will be leaving her position and Biden does have quite the uphill battle when it comes to fulfilling those climate promises.

George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Ginger Zee.

That is all for today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out “WORLD NEWS TONIGHT,” and I’ll see you tomorrow on “GMA.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

By Harriet