Return to Transcripts main page

State of the Union

Interview With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Interview With Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Interview With Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD); Interview With Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH); Interview With Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 17, 2024 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Big break. The top Senate Democrat calls Israel's prime minister an obstacle to peace.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Netanyahu has lost his way.

BASH: As the situation in Gaza grows more desperate, how will Netanyahu respond? The Israeli prime minister joins me live in moments, and then former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds. Plus: Buckeye battle. Donald Trump sounds off in Ohio...


BASH: ... ahead of a heated Senate primary. With Trump's influence on the line there, could he fall short? Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is here exclusively.

And delay, delay, delay. Donald Trump's legal strategy is paying off.

TRUMP: We want delays, obviously. I'm running for election.

BASH: Will he stand trial in any case before Election Day? California Senate candidate Adam Schiff joins me exclusively.


BASH: Hello.

I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is thinking the stakes couldn't be higher.

We begin today with the Israel-Hamas war and a shift here in the U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a long and steadfast supporter of Israel, made a stunning break with his longtime friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and called him an obstacle to peace in the region.

That comes as the U.S. works to build a floating pier to deliver aid to desperate people in war-torn Gaza, while, early this week, negotiators are expected to -- later this week, I should say, are expected to start talks again about a potential deal to pause fighting and free more of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas since October 7, when Hamas started all this by attacking Israel and brutally killing more than 1,000 civilians.

Here with me now is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Thank you so much for joining me.

Let's start with that potential deal, sir. One hundred hostages, about, are still being held by Hamas. You're sending that negotiating team to Qatar in the coming days to talk about a potential deal, free hostages in exchange for a six-week pause in fighting.

As you know, Hamas is demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for roughly 40 female hostages. Are you open to that? Are you close to a deal?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, time will tell, but Hamas' outlandish demands -- and I'm not itemizing every one of them now -- makes that deal a lot more difficult, but I'm -- we're going to keep on trying because we want those hostages back.

We understand also that the one thing that gets Hamas to give them is -- to give these hostages to us is the continued military pressure that we're applying there. So, we're going to continue military pressure and we're going to continue to try to get those hostages out.

And we have succeeded already in bringing half of them out. I hope we continue along that same course.

BASH: Let's talk about what happened here in the U.S. this week. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer gave a pivotal speech and said you have lost your way and called you an obstacle to peace.

Take a listen.


SCHUMER: The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7. I believe that holding a new election once the war starts to wind down would give Israelis an opportunity to express their vision for the postwar future.


BASH: Chuck Schumer is the highest-ranking Jewish elected official here in America, a staunch supporter of Israel.

What's your response?

NETANYAHU: I think what he said is totally inappropriate.

It's inappropriate for a -- to go to a sister democracy and try to replace the elected leadership there. That's something that Israel, the Israeli public does on its own, and we're not a banana republic.

I think the only government that we should be working on to bring down now is the terrorist tyranny in Gaza, the Hamas tyranny that murdered over 1,000 Israelis, including some dozens of Americans, and is holding Americans and Israelis hostage. That's what we should be focused on.


And as far as what Senator Schumer said, the majority of Israelis support our governments; 82 percent of Americans support Israel, instead of Hamas. But the majority of Israelis support the policies that we're leading, go into Rafah, destroy the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions, make sure that we don't put into Gaza, instead of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority that educates their children towards terrorism and the annihilation of Israel.


NETANYAHU: And, also, an enormous majority here, including 99 Knesset members to nine, oppose the idea of ramming down a Palestinian state down our throats.

BASH: I want to get to some of those polls in a minute.

NETANYAHU: So, you know, the majority of Israelis -- this is a wake- up call to Senator Schumer.

The majority of Israelis support the policies of my government. It's not a fringe government. It represents the policies supported by the majority of the people. If Senator Schumer opposes these policies, he's not opposing me. He's opposing the people of Israel.

BASH: OK, I'm going to get to some of the polls that you cited in one moment, but I just want to make sure that our viewers understand that Chuck Schumer gave the big speech, but he has support in many ways from the president of the United States.

President Biden is a self-described Zionist. Even he is starting to distance -- distance himself from the way you are handling the war. He called what Schumer said a good speech. He said that he shared the concern of many Americans.

They aren't criticizing Israel. They're criticizing you and your right-wing coalition.

NETANYAHU: Dana, there is a fallacy that is being perpetrated here.

And you should take polls, you will have your own polls, and check whether the people of Israel support the policies that I'm being criticized for, that is, supporting the policies of going into Rafah, destroying a quarter of the remaining Hamas terrorist army. That's like leaving a quarter of the Hamas -- of the Nazi terrorist army in Germany and saying, no, we're not going to finish the last quarter and we're not going into Berlin. Most Israelis overwhelmingly support the position that we have to go

in. They oppose the idea of ramming down a two-state solution or a terrorist state against their will, because they think that this is -- will endanger Israel's future.

They support those policies that I'm putting forward. And to present that as something that is, I'm an outlier, it doesn't represent the majority of the people of Israel, is simply a fallacy.

And I will tell you, the other fallacy is, they're saying, well, most Palestinians don't support the Hamas massacre. In fact, 85 percent of the Palestinians do support, unfortunately, the Hamas massacre. So they have got two fallacies here, and you can readily check that.

The majority of Israelis support the policies that I have on prosecuting the war, which is what I'm being criticized for.

BASH: Well...

NETANYAHU: So, it's not just me.

BASH: I think that you're...

NETANYAHU: It's the people of Israel who believe that we have to have this resolute victory to assure our future. And, unfortunately, we have the Palestinians that haven't aligned themselves with peace yet.

BASH: I think that what you're being criticized for is not prosecuting the war. It's the way that you're prosecuting the war. So, I'm going to get to that in one minute.

But I just want to add a little bit of sort of context to the way that the Biden administration is pushing back. Another way is that the U.S. intelligence community warned that -- quote -- "Distrust of Netanyahu's ability to rule has deepened and broadened across the public."

And then back to the polls, you're talking about support for the idea of toppling Hamas. That makes perfect sense. There were other polls in Israel, three major Israeli television stations, that said what Israelis also support are early elections.

That's what I really want to focus on here is Senator Schumer not calling to sort of topple the government, but specifically says, when the war winds down, will you commit to calling new elections? That's my question. Will you?

NETANYAHU: Dana, two-thirds -- first of all, what you said is wrong. The vast majority of Israelis oppose early elections until the war doesn't end.

We have just had many polls on that. Look, a lot of the polls are -- are twisted and a lot of the polls are guided by all sort of conditions. But all polls...

BASH: Channel 12 says 64 percent of Israelis support early elections. NETANYAHU: But all polls show -- that's not -- no, I'm afraid they

asked them the question, do you support it during the war, and they said no, OK? So, number one, they haven't supported it.

If you go by the polls...

BASH: But that's not what Schumer is calling for. He's calling for new elections when the war winds down.

NETANYAHU: Well, we will see when we win the war.

And until we win the war, I think Israelis understand that, if we were to have elections now, before the war is won, resoundingly won, we would have at least six months of national paralysis, which means we would lose the war. If we don't win the war, we lose the war.

And that would be not only a defeat for Israel, but a defeat for America too, because our victory is your victory. We're fighting these barbarians that are not merely threatening the survival of Israel, but threaten everything that we hold dear together.

BASH: Will you commit to new elections when the war winds down?


Will you commit to new elections when the war winds down?

NETANYAHU: I think that's something for the Israeli public to decide.

But it's not -- it's not something -- no, it's -- look, that's something for the Israeli people to decide. I think it's ridiculous to talk about it. It's like, after 9/11 -- after 9/11, you're in the midst of fighting the war against al Qaeda, and an Israeli would say, you know, what we need now is either new elections in the U.S. or, if your system doesn't allow, then President Bush should resign and we should have an alternative leader.

BASH: Well...

NETANYAHU: You don't do that.

BASH: Well, let's talk about why...

NETANYAHU: You don't do that to a sister democracy, to an ally.

You don't talk about that. What you do talk about is, how do we help you defeat what President Biden called sheer evil? You don't just stop after you destroyed 80 percent of sheer evil.

BASH: Right. So...

NETANYAHU: You destroy 100 percent of sheer evil to allow a different future Israelis and Palestinians alike.

BASH: Mr. Prime Minister, I want to talk about why the sentiment has changed. I mean, obviously, there has been huge support and still is really big

support here in the U.S. and most corners of the world for you doing what you are saying. Your strategic goal is to defeat Hamas and to make sure that that kind of terror attack doesn't happen again.

But what is happening and the reason why the world is shifting in public sentiment is the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Organizations call what they are seeing near-famine in Gaza. So why won't you allow more food trucks to drive through the border crossings in to Gaza to feed starving civilians while you continue to take out the terrorists in Hamas?

NETANYAHU: Well, our policy is to do exactly that.

And, in fact, we have enabled -- our policy is to not have famine, but to have the entry of humanitarian support as needed and as much as is needed. So we have allowed -- we have created alternative routes, supply routes. We allow the dropping of the support from the air, humanitarian aid, a sea route that we have cooperated with, and it started yesterday, and alternative land routes that we're enabling again.

The problem isn't getting the trucks in. The problem is that, once they're getting in, they're looted by Hamas or looted by gangs. And what we're seeing -- what we're trying to do with some other powers is to try to get the aid to the actual civilians who need them, and not looted by Hamas.

BASH: Yes, well, every major...

NETANYAHU: That's really the problem.

In any case, that's our policy, and that's why I have enabled alternative routes of supply.


There's been a trickle, I mean, to be fair, of supply going in there. And every major NGO outside organization involved with this crisis says that the level of hunger is life-threatening for hundreds of thousands.

Cindy McCain, who, the McCain family, they have been long supporters of Israel, she is now the executive director of the World Food Program. She says that hunger has reached catastrophic levels in Northern Gaza. People are dying. Only a fraction of the food needed in is trickling. To prevent an outright famine, they need significant increase in humanitarian aid now. Millions of lives are at stake.

Will you do that? Will you commit to that?

NETANYAHU: Of course, and we're doing it.

Again, I have authorized alternative routes of supply. And, again, the problem is not the number of trucks going in, although we're increasing it on a daily basis. I think the problem is preventing the looting by Hamas and by others. That's what we're working on now. I think it's a cooperative effort.

Our policy is to enable humanitarian aid. That's been a constant element in our whole program. It's to destroy Hamas militarily, but also to supply the humanitarian aid simultaneously.

BASH: With respect, though, sir, it's not happening.

NETANYAHU: And the main obstacle to that is actually Hamas.

BASH: It's not happening.

Well, in the north, you said that you have destroyed Hamas.

NETANYAHU: Well, it is, actually.

BASH: If Hamas isn't in the north, then how is Hamas taking away food?

NETANYAHU: Well, it's...

BASH: And if you open up more border crossings and give more food into the area, allow starving people to eat, the looting maybe would subside. That's human nature, no?

NETANYAHU: That's exactly what's happening, because we have increased the number of trucks entering the north.

I don't think -- I think I'm up to date and I know these numbers. And we know that there is an increase, but we also know that we have a job to do to prevent the looting, because, at the end, we bring in the trucks, including to the north, and then they're looted by remaining Hamas terrorists.

We have destroyed the fighting formations of Hamas, the terrorist battalions. But there are still individual terrorists that we're mopping up.

BASH: I guess -- yes. And I understand that.

NETANYAHU: And these individual terrorists shoot the drivers, shoot the drivers, take over the goods, and try to give it to Hamas fighters, the remaining Hamas fighters.

So it's an ongoing battle.

BASH: I understand that. But you understand that it is the responsibility -- you...

NETANYAHU: But it's something that we're committed to, two efforts that we're committed to, destroy Hamas and giving humanitarian aid.

BASH: Forgive me. I understand that.


Given the images that I'm sure you have seen, do you believe fundamentally that it is Israel's responsibility to make sure that those starving civilians, including those children, get food, and you're doing everything in your power to make sure that happens?

NETANYAHU: Categorically, yes.

I think it's an effort that we're engaged in all the time. I think that Hamas is working on the opposite effort, one, to get people not to leave war zones. They want more civilian casualties. We want to minimize civilian casualties.

And the second, they want to commandeer the humanitarian aid and bring it to their underground terror tunnels, and we want it to reach the Palestinian population. So, the blame should be laid squarely at Hamas' door.

And, instead, I find it both cynical and wrong, just factually wrong, to try to place the blame on Israel, which is doing everything it can to minimize civilian casualties and to get to the humanitarian aid, and Hamas, which is doing the opposite, instead of placing the blame on Hamas.

BASH: Yes, I think -- yes.

NETANYAHU: We will continue to do it, regardless of the P.R. distortions.

BASH: Yes, I mean, I think there is no question that Hamas is a nefarious organization doing everything it can to undermine what's going on and to create chaos, but I guess the point is, is that you're not Hamas.

Israel is a democracy...

NETANYAHU: That's right.

BASH: ... and, as a Jewish state, supports and believes in every life mattering.

And so I'm glad to hear that you say that you're going to do what you can to get those aid trucks in.And, obviously, we will be watching, and I'm sure a lot of organizations are going to be happy to hear what you said today.

Thank you so much, Mr. Prime Minister. I appreciate your time.

NETANYAHU: Thank you, Dana. Thank you.

BASH: Here with me now is former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

First, I just want to ask what your response is to what you just heard from the prime minister.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The prime minister's presentation proved the necessity of Chuck Schumer's speech.

Chuck Schumer's speech was an act of courage, an act of love for Israel. And I wish the prime minister would read the whole speech, because he speaks with great vehemence about the need to defeat Hamas. He is concerned about the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and the very, very dangerous attitude of the right-wing Israeli government.

The issue of food in Gaza is a very big one. And either the prime minister, Netanyahu, is unaware or ill-informed. But the head of the World Central Kitchen, Jose Andres, who's there, as you mentioned, Cindy McCain, World Food Program, and any other of these entities that are there to feed the people will tell you, there is starvation, there is famine, there is dehydration, because it has not -- Israel has not allowed the food and the humanitarian assistance to go right in.

So, again, it's a fact that so many people are dying from lack of food. It's really a very sad situation.

Now, from the standpoint of Chuck Schumer, he is, as you had mentioned, the leading Jewish elected official in our country in history, in history. He has -- he loves Israel, as we do. We support Israel. And the fact that he made this statement should be listened to, because Israel's reputation is at risk because of what is happening in Gaza.

Now, we all agree, many of us, Hamas is a terrorist organization. They should be defeated. But what happens next? We have called for a two- state solution. In the Democratic Party, I was chair of the platform committee in 1992, where we called for a two-state solution.

Netanyahu has been against that. But what is the solution?

BASH: Madam Speaker, I want to ask about...

PELOSI: Is the solution what the right-wingers are saying, that they just take over Gaza?

BASH: Yes, I want to ask about...

PELOSI: I'm sorry.

BASH: ... what you just heard the prime minister say, or maybe the better way to say it is what he would not say.

He wouldn't commit to new elections. He claims that the Israeli people don't want that. Do you believe -- I know you said that we should read and listen to what Senator Schumer said. Are you also saying that you support the notion of new elections in Israel as the war wind downs, as -- winds down, as Senator Schumer said?

PELOSI: The only thing I would disagree with what you said is, I don't think it's a notion. I think it's a very serious proposal that the people of...

BASH: OK. Do you agree with it?

PELOSI: ... Israel be able to speak. Now, it's up to them to decide that. [09:20:02]

It's curious to me to see Netanyahu talk the way he does, when he tried to interfere in American elections. But that's another subject, when he came to the Congress, criticized the president of the United States, barged into our country, into our elections.

But, again, let's put that aside and let's just say, as we go forward, what is wrong with advocating for elections in a democracy? And you know. You mentioned the polls. You see the thousands and thousands of people are in the streets, even last night, in Israel.

But, again, it's a democracy, and people have different views, and they express them, and that's a beautiful thing. But for him to say -- what does that say if he won't even say that, as the war winds down, the people of Israel should speak? That's all Chuck was saying.

But read the speech, because it condemns Hamas. It criticizes Abbas and the Palestinian Authority for not being good partners for peace. Read the speech. The right wing -- I mean, sad to say, when you listen to Netanyahu, I thought it was a very weak presentation and, again, argued for Chuck Schumer's speech.

But, nonetheless, he's probably the most moderate person in that coalition. And it's really a sad state of affairs.

Let me just -- if I just may say this. I love Israel. I love the Israeli people. And this is how we think of them, about shared values. I remember being there as speaker on one visit to Hadassah Hospital, and they told me they had just dealt with a clash between Palestinians and Israelis, and they treated them both the same.

And they said: "We didn't treat the Palestinian differently because they were Palestinian. We treated them the same because we are Jewish."

The values are so -- have been so clear. Now, we have to stop Hamas. They're a terrorist organization. What they did on October 7 was barbaric. We must free the hostages. Think of it if it were your brother, sister, mother, father, child. Any one of us would be insistent on that.

But, as you have indicated, it's not a matter if -- if you do it. It's how you do it. And to do it at the expense of children and their well- being is really what Chuck was addressing.

And in our own law, when we give assistance to a country, we insist that they do not interfere with our giving humanitarian aid. That is part of the Leahy -- Senator Leahy, you know...

BASH: Right.

PELOSI: ... when he was in the Senate, put that forth. That was one of the provisions that said, if we're giving assistance, we expect that they will not interfere with our giving assistance for humanitarian purposes. BASH: I do want to turn quickly to Ukraine, if I may.

The House speaker, Mike Johnson, told Republican senators during their closed-door retreat this week that he was committed to finding a path ahead for Ukraine aid, maybe alone.


BASH: He told Politico that he was considering a stand-alone bill that would require a two-thirds vote.

Would you support that?

PELOSI: Well, it depends on what's in it, but absolutely.

BASH: Even alone?

PELOSI: We cannot go home for Passover and Easter if it -- we must have this assistance to Ukraine.

It's sad that it's taken so long, but I'm glad to hear that there's a path. We have tried to, under the leadership of Hakeem Jeffries in the House, the tremendous leader, use our leverage, one way or another, to show a path, and that may have weighed in on the speaker's decision, because he knows something has to happen, and we have our options.

So, why doesn't he lead the way? And the Senate bill was strongly bipartisan. It would be bipartisan in the House. Over 300 votes would be there for assistance to Ukraine.

Also, though, having humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians -- there are other provisions in the bill. Some of the Republicans don't want to give the Palestinians the assistance, and that's part of the challenge.

BASH: Before I let you go -- we're almost out of time, but I want to ask about the idea that Donald Trump is now the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

U.S. intelligence agencies are reportedly preparing to share classified briefings with him. You're, of course, a former ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, speaker of the House. Should Donald Trump receive intelligence briefings?


PELOSI: I have 30 years of intelligence experience in the Congress.

This information is very important, and it is important for it not to be shared. So I would hope they would get some commitment from him, as they do from all of us when we get briefed, that they understand the importance of this information and that it not be shared.

The experience has not been positive with him, but, hopefully, those advising him would say, grow up, live up to your responsibilities. Don't share this with the Russian foreign minister, as he did in the Oval Office before.

But we have -- we just have to win this election, because he's even predicting a bloodbath. What does that mean? He's going to exact a bloodbath? There's something wrong here.

How respectful I am of the American people and their goodness, but how much more do they have to see from him to understand that this isn't what our country is about? Praising Hitler, praising the Russians, honestly, I mean, condemning our soldiers for losing or dying in war or being captured in war.

He said, what's wrong with Russia? They defeated Hitler.

BASH: Yes.

PELOSI: What about the millions of Americans who risked or gave their lives? What about him saying that soldiers buried in Europe, he didn't want to visit them because they were losers?

This is -- there's something wrong here. There's something wrong here. So I just say, with all the respect in the world for voters and their right to make their decision, weigh these equities. How much are you concerned about more women -- or women having the right to choose or LGBT people having the right to their lives, that you would vote for him?


PELOSI: You wouldn't even allow him in your house, much less in the White House.

So, in any event, yes, I think he should get the information, but -- because he is a candidate for president, but he should be held to a standard that the rest of us all have been.

BASH: OK. We are out of time.

I appreciate you getting up early this morning. Thank you so much, Madam Speaker.

PELOSI: Yes, my pleasure. Thank you.

BASH: And up next, I will ask a Republican senator about the choice voters face in November and the new issue dividing the Senate.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

President Joe Biden and former President Trump are offering voters starkly different visions for America. Last night in Ohio, Trump's message was quite dark.

Here with now to talk about the race and much more is Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota.

Thank you so much for coming. A lot to get to.

I just want to first ask about what you heard from Prime Minister Netanyahu responding to Senator Schumer's call for new elections in Israel after the war winds down. What is your reaction to what Netanyahu said, which is basically no commitment to that?

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): I think the most important part for us to remember is that they are a democracy, and we don't like it when people interfere in our democracy.

And I think the message from the prime minister was, let us run our own country. We appreciate you as our close allies, but we're going to make up our own minds, and we will do it according to our laws and our customs.

And I think we should respect that.

BASH: I want to ask about something that is going to be potentially before you in the United States Senate, and that is about TikTok.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that could ban TikTok if its Chinese parent company doesn't sell it. You're on the Intelligence Committee. You have unique insight into the national security implications of China owning an app used by 150 million Americans.

Do you think TikTok should be banned in the U.S. if the Chinese owner doesn't sell it? Would you vote for that bill in the Senate?

ROUNDS: I'm aware of what the House did, and I actually support the process or the direction that they're trying to go.

But TikTok does have national defense complications for us. A good example is the fact that, using zip codes, they were able to basically harness about 170 million Americans and tell them, look, if you want to get on TikTok, you're going to have to make contact with your House members and tell them not to ban us.

That type of approach is something that we're concerned with. But even more importantly is the amount of information that is available at their request to the Chinese Communist Party should they need it in terms of access to people and individual information about individuals, who they're connected with, where they live, who their family is and so forth.

That's the kind of stuff that China wants. The other thing they want is to learn how people in the West talk, how we respond, because that's part of what they want to learn when they try to influence us with the type of propaganda when it comes to elections and so forth.

So, yes, it is something. It would be best if they would divest and we'd have an American ownership on that particular platform.

BASH: It would be best, or is it something that you want to demand and force legislatively?

Will you -- A, would you support that legislatively, and do you want Chuck Schumer to bring it up?


ROUNDS: Yes, look, I think it is something that we're going to have to do something about.

The best approach would be if they were to divest and to allow for American ownership. If not, then we're probably going to have to eliminate it from the platforms.


BASH: I want to play, Senator, something that Donald Trump said last night while talking about tariffs and the auto industry.


TRUMP: We're going to put a 100 percent tariff on every single car that comes across the line.


TRUMP: And you're not going to be able to sell those cars, if I get elected.

Now, if I don't get elected, it's going to be a bloodbath for the whole -- that's going to be the least of it. It's going to be a bloodbath for the country.


BASH: Now, the Trump campaign says that he was talking about autoworkers, but he also called jailed January 6 rioters hostages and unbelievable patriots.

What's your reaction to that coming from the presumptive Republican nominee for president of your party?

ROUNDS: With regard to the autoworkers that he was talking to, he is showing them or he's telling them what has been an economic downturn for them.

Their wages are not going up as fast as the cost of living has been. Current administration right now has about an 18 percent overall increase in most goods and services in the United States, over 35 percent for energy, over 21 percent for groceries. And these autoworkers are looking at this, saying, look, you got to do something...

BASH: Yes.

ROUNDS: ... because, clearly, the economy is not working the way that it should, and I think he's focusing on that. And the real question that he's going to be asking is, he's going to

be asking, are you better off today than what you were four years ago? And the answer to that is, is, for the vast majority of these individuals is, no, we're not. And that's the reason why he is appealing to them, and it's the reason why the Biden administration is in real trouble.

BASH: So you just talked about the economy, but the question is about, first of all, just the term bloodbath, whether, given what happened on January 6, that's a term he should be using in any context.

But, more importantly, he did also call the January 6 rioters hostages and called them patriots. Given all of that, will you endorse him for president? You endorsed Tim Scott before. Are you now going to endorse him? Trump.

ROUNDS: What I have said is, is, Tim Scott was my first choice. I thought he'd make a great president.

Tim Scott has since endorsed the former president. What I have said is, is, I will support the Republican nominee. It becomes a binary choice. Either you want to continue with the economic policies that we have got today, or you move back into a position where we actually don't have the world on fire and where our economy is moving forward...

BASH: Are you comfortable with the things that he said?

ROUNDS: ... we start increasing the economic progress that we have been making.

Look, I talk in a different format than what the former president does. It's different than the way that he says it.

But, right now, if it's a choice between moving forward with the economy the way that it is today or the way that we could make it, where our gross domestic product moves up and where we're respected around the world, we don't make mistakes like we did in Afghanistan, where we don't make mistakes like what's going on right now in the Red Sea, where we're not taking out the terrorists that are attacking shipping and so forth, I will take a conservative approach that actually cools the rest of the world down and builds our economy.

BASH: Do..

ROUNDS: And I think that's really the choice that we have got before us.

BASH: And just to button -- put a button it, you are endorsing Donald Trump?

ROUNDS: I'm endorsing the Republican nominee for the presidency. And if that's Mr. Trump, then that's the best choice of the two choices that we have got.

BASH: Senator, thank you so much for joining me this morning. I really appreciate it.

ROUNDS: Thank you.

BASH: And a week of good news for the Trump legal team.

California Senate candidate and former federal prosecutor Adam Schiff will join me next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

This week, a New York judge pushed the start of Donald Trump's hush money trial until at least mid-April. And Trump's other criminal cases are increasingly caught up in delays of their own.

Here with me now is the newly minted Democratic Senate candidate Adam Schiff, of course, of the state of California.

Thank you for being here this morning.

Let's start with that hush money trial in New York. It was supposed to start in just over a week. Now it and Trump's other three criminal cases are caught up in legal questions and maneuvering.

And it seems as though the Trump strategy to delay these cases is paying off. Do you think there's a chance that he might not stand trial in any of these cases before Election Day?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: There is a chance that he could evade justice by delaying justice.

This is a tried-and-true tactic of Trump throughout his career.And I hope that the courts are aware of exactly what he's doing and his incentive in trying to prolong this, and I hope they won't go along with that strategy.

In New York, I hope that they will look at the facts in terms of what caused the late release of this discovery. If it was driven by the Trump defense team not requesting it earlier, they should not postpone the trial any further.

My greatest concern, though, Dana is over the January 6 case. That is the most serious a set of allegations against the president. It is the case brought by the Justice Department. The Supreme Court moved with great speed when it came to ruling that Trump could appear on the ballot.The question is, will it also move with great speed in rejecting this bogus immunity claim?

If it doesn't, it's making a deliberate decision essentially to push the trial past the election. And I think that would be a terrible decision, both for the interest of justice. It would be a terrible decision in depriving American voters of the information they would learn during the course of that trial, but it would also just further discredit this partisan and reactionary court.


BASH: The entity that maybe did not move with such speed is the Department of Justice. And that is according to some Democrats, including you.

You vehemently disagreed with Attorney General Garland's handling of the Trump investigations and what you saw as his -- quote -- "real desire not to look backward." Three years later, it's, as you said, unclear whether any of the federal cases can be resolved before Americans vote.

Does the attorney general bear some responsibility for that?

SCHIFF: I think the Justice Department did wait at least a year to look beyond the foot soldiers, that is, those that broke into the Capitol that day, and refrained from looking at those who were the inciters of the attack on the Capitol, the organizers behind it, the higher-ups.

And, yes, I think that delay has contributed to a situation where none of these trials may go forward, although it is still my hope and belief that at least one or two of them might go forward before the election. So, yes, the department bears some of that responsibility.

But, nevertheless, when they did bring the indictments, there is still time, was still time to bring those cases in a timely way. They're not responsible for any delay at that point. The Trump legal team is. And the courts should not play into that stratagem.

The court should recognize that, as he has done before, he hopes that pushing this off will mean no justice for himself or the American people. And the court should simply not abide that strategy.

BASH: Congressman, the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer rebuked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, the way that they're prosecuting the war now after, of course, the deadly, horrific attack on October 7.

He says that it's time for new elections in Israel. I'm sure you heard the prime minister on the show a short while ago rejecting the idea that he would commit to such elections. Where do you stand on this?

SCHIFF: Well, first of all, I want to highlight that Chuck Schumer laid the responsibility for this war exactly where it lies, and that is with Hamas terrorists that attacked and murdered and raped and tortured Israelis on October 7, and continues to hold hostages, continues in a cowardly way to use the Palestinian people as human shields, Hamas terrorists hiding behind women and children in Gaza.

So the responsibility lies with Hamas. But I also agree with Leader Schumer's comments regarding the necessity of reducing civilian casualties in Gaza. And we are holding Israel to a high standard because we share not only national security interests with Israel, but also share our values with Israel. And while I wouldn't go as far as the leader in setting out the timing

of elections, the fact that Israel's most staunch defender in the U.S. Congress, Chuck Schumer, should be making these remarks should be an earthquake in Israel. We are Israel's most important ally. We recognize Israel's right to defend itself.

But we also recognize the need for a two-state solution. That ultimately is the way to not only resolve this conflict, but prevent future conflicts from taking place. So, I think these remarks are incredibly important. And, as I would not go as far as them, I also recognize the significance of them coming from this incredible champion.

The only other thing I want to mention, Dana, is, the major impediment right now to assisting Israel in its duty to defend itself is the Republican leadership in the House, which will not bring up an Israel aid bill, even as it won't bring up a Ukraine aid bill. And that has to change. We need to get that aid approved.

BASH: Well, we are out of time now. I hope you come back. We have a lot of things to talk about, including what's going on in California with your race there.

Thank you so much for being here this morning.

SCHIFF: You bet. Good to be with you.

BASH: And could Donald Trump's pick for the Senate lose in Ohio on Tuesday in the primary there?

Republican Governor Mike DeWine is backing one of his opponents, and he will be here next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

Former President Trump rallied voters in Ohio last night in support of his preferred Republican Senate candidate ahead of this -- that state's primary on Tuesday. Ohio's Republican governor, however, is backing somebody else.

And he is here with me now.

Mike DeWine, thank you so much for being here.

I want to talk about the politics there, but I want to first ask about the deadly tornadoes in your state that killed three, injured more than 20.

Are you getting everything you need from the federal government?

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): Well, we're going to do a declaration today, emergency declaration, which will help us in that regard. That also frees up our ability of state agencies to do some additional work. I'm also authorizing the National Guard to go in to help basically with cleanup, cleanup out in the roads, opening everything up and removal.

So, look, people are resilient. Ohioans are resilient. They're tough. This is a beautiful part of Ohio. It's the Indian Lake region, where many people go for the summer. They fish and they boat, and it's just a great, great place. And to see it hit so hard the other day when I was there, it was just tough, tough to see.

But the people are coming back.

BASH: Donald Trump was in your state last night ahead of the primary on Tuesday.

The big race, of course, is between three Republican Senate candidates. This week, you made a last-minute decision to support state Senator Matt Dolan over the candidate Donald Trump is backing. That's businessman Bernie Moreno.

How much of a factor do you think former President Trump is in that race?

DEWINE: Well, I don't know.

I'm backing Matt Dolan. First of all, all three people who are running are good people. They all have a chance to win in the fall. I think they would all serve well in the United States Senate. I know all of them. They're all friends. They're good people.

But I endorsed Matt Dolan because I think, clearly, he's going to be the strongest candidate against Sherrod Brown in the fall. I have also had the opportunity to work with him in the state legislature. He knows how a legislature works, a legislative body works.


And I think it's important. We have to remember, we may be sending this person out of the Republican primary who may serve six years or may serve 30 years in the United States Senate. I just think Matt Dolan is the right person.

The polls clearly show that he's the strongest candidate. And it's interesting. The Democrat Senatorial Committee clearly thinks that he's the strongest candidate too, because, amazingly, they came in here in the last three or four days with several million dollars to promote Bernie Moreno, his opponent.

And they obviously think that Dolan is the strongest candidate. So that's why I'm supporting Matt Dolan.

BASH: Do you think that Bernie Moreno, who is the Trump-backed candidate, would lose to Sherrod Brown in November?

DEWINE: No, I don't know -- I don't know that at all. In fact I have said very clearly, no matter who wins, I think they

have a shot winning in the fall. Sherrod Brown is very, very tough. I know that personally. And he's not going to be easy to beat in the fall.

But Matt Dolan, I think, is by far the strongest candidate. And I think we -- this -- Ohio, as you know, may be one of the states that decides who controls the United States Senate. So there's a lot at stake in this election. And that's why I'm supporting Dolan.

BASH: And are you confident that Dolan will win on Tuesday?

DEWINE: Oh, I think it's a very close race. Dana, there's no doubt this is a very, very close race. I don't think anybody can predict who's going to win.

The last polls we have seen show him up slightly. But it's -- look, it's a close -- it's a close, close race.

BASH: We saw that the former president earned enough delegates to clinch the Republican nomination this past week. You have not endorsed him yet. Will you?

DEWINE: Well, I have always said that I will support the Republican nominee. I'm a Republican. I certainly will do that.

But my focus this year is going to be on a lot of local races. And it's going to be particularly focused on the United States Senate. This is going to be a very close race in the fall. And we're really going to focus on that.

BASH: Well...

DEWINE: I mean, the polls clearly show Trump way, way ahead in the general election. So I think the focus in Ohio is going to be on the Senate race.

BASH: We're out of time, but I just want to note that you said you would support him, but you're not endorsing him?

DEWINE: It's semantics.


DEWINE: Look, I support him, endorse him.

Look, I'm -- my focus, again, is on the Senate race. I think that's the most important race. And it's going to be very, very close in the fall, and we have to win.


Governor Mike DeWine, appreciate you joining us from the great state of Ohio. Thank you.

DEWINE: Thanks, Dana. Appreciate it. BASH: And thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us.

Fareed Zakaria picks it up next.