-- This is a rush transcript for April 26, 2015. It will be updated and may contain errors.
ANNOUNCER: ABC's This Week. Breaking now, is there a dramatic shift coming in how we treat ransom demands from terrorists? Brian Ross on the story. It's an ABC News exclusive.
Plus, brand new details on the investigation into that deadly drone mistake.
Bruce's big announcement, will the former Olympian change the way we view transgender people?
Plus, Washington's wild night: all the hilarious surprises and the amazing moments from the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My advisers asked me, Mr. President, do you have a bucket list? I have something that rhymes with bucket list.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, This Week with George Stephanopoulos begins now.
ALEX MARQUARDT, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, George.
We got word from Nepal just a short time ago that there's been another huge aftershock this morning. Our ABC News team was in the air over the capital of Kathmandu when it struck. We were turned back to India because it was so powerful that the airport was closed.
Rescue teams in Nepal now frantically digging through the rubble looking for any survivors. Many across the country spending the night outside, fearful that more tremors would bring down their homes.
Now we know that at least two Americans were killed, both on Mount Everest, when the base camp was hit by a huge avalanche triggered when the earthquake struck. One of them was Google executive Dan Fredinburg, at least 16 others on a mount also died.
The situation is still very fluid this morning, George. Rescuers and resources are desperately trying to get into Nepal amid fears that the death toll will only continue to grow -- George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you, Alex.
The U.S. ramping up its aid effort as well.
Good morning, Brian.
BRIAN ROSS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, George.
The U.S. has been steadfast in its policy that it will not pay ransom to terror groups for American hostages or allow others to either. But now one part of that policy maybe changing. Three senior U.S. officials tell ABC News that a White House review of hostage policy will recommend the U.S. look the other way if families on their own try to raise money to buy their loved one's freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were told very clearly three times that it was illegal for us to try to ransom our son out. And that we had possibility of being prosecuted.
ROSS: It's not clear that any ransom could have saved Foley, but it left his parents outraged at the White House, which would not comment on the allegations, but asked us not to use the name of the official the Foley's say made the threat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These folks talking to us had no idea what it was like to be the family of a kidnapped American.
ROSS: Since August, six Americans held hostage have been killed. The family of the most recent victim, Warren Weinstein, did make an unsuccessful ransom payment of $250,000 according to people familiar with the arrangement.
But the families of other victims say they, too, were threatened with prosecution if they paid ransom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was a horrible thing to do to the families. I think it was a mistake.
ROSS: Now three U.S. officials say that mistake will not be repeated. Under recommendations contained in an ongoing White House review of U.S. hostage policy there will be absolutely zero chance, said one official, of any family member of an American held hostage overseas ever facing jail themselves, or even the threat of prosecution, for trying to free their loved ones.
JACK CLOONAN, FRM. FBI DIRECTOR: This is a good thing. We often hear the phrase "all options on the table." Ransom is no different.
ROSS: Former FBI agent Jack Cloonan now helps negotiate for the release of hostages and says some of the U.S. hostages might still be alive if ransom had been permitted.
CLOONAN: Not allowing that discussion about ransom to go forward was a mistake. You can reach an agreement even with a group as despicable as ISIS is.
ROSS: To be clear, the U.S. government policy that it will not pay ransom or make concessions would not change in the belief that it could lead to more Americans being taken hostage.
But if President Obama approves these recommendations families or employers who try to raise or pay ransom will no longer be threatened with prosecution, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Brian, thanks. It's quite a change.
I want to go to Dick Clarke who, of course, directed counterterror operations for three presidents.
Should the president accept this recommendation?
DICK CLARKE, COUNTERTERROR SPECIALIST: I wouldn't. The president has to try to make it unattractive to go after Americans as hostages. And the way you do that is by saying there are only two things going to happen. Either we're going to go in and rescue or you're going to have that hostage forever.
If you say we'll pay, then there will be many more hostages.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even if it's a private payment?
Congressman John Delaney here as well. I know you worked closely with Warren Weinstein's family during this ordeal. Can give the details of this $250,000 payment. But do you know if they received any threats of prosecution from the government?
REP. JOHN DELANEY, (D) MARYLAND: I'm not aware of them receiving any. I'm not aware of the details around the alleged payment, but I'm certainly not aware of them receiving any threats.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you make of this possible change?
DELANEY: Listen, I think it could make sense. I'd like to see the data that suggests that families being -- put in a position where they can actually pay to get their loved ones home really actually changes the outcomes in terms of how many people are taken hostage.
I totally support the U.S. government's policy. We should absolutely not negotiate for hostages, but to put families like the Foleys in the situation they were in I think is really tough.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Let me turn now to our chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz because the drone policy also under review as well after the president gave that apology this week. He said he is going to do a fullscale review of how we use these drones as well.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Several looks at what went wrong.
And when you look back at this, these were called signature strikes. They not only did not know the hostages were there, they didn't know one of the leaders of al Qaeda in India was there. So they clearly didn't have a lot of information about this.
There's a golden standard -- a gold standard that they could possibly use in the future, that's you have signals intelligence, meaning you've picked up cellphone conversations or something like that, you have constant overhead, a you have human intelligence. And that is often the key to knowing exactly what's going on in places like this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But it's so difficult to get the human intelligence, so...
RADDATZ: It's incredibly difficult. I honestly can't see them going that far, because this drone policy has worked.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it's worked. It's been dramatically ramped up under president Obama, but he's also tried to put some restrictions on it in the wake of these revelations about more civilian casualties.
RADDATZ: Exactly. And the standard now is that you have to have near certainty that there are no civilians there.
So I think what they look at is how do you define near certainty?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Dick Clarke, you were there at the beginning of the ramping of this policy under George W. Bush. As Martha said, it has been effective in knocking out core al Qaeda, but starting to create some blowback as well.
CLARKE: Well, when you do these signature strikes, meaning by definition, you don't know who you are killing, you just know the facility looks like an al Qaeda facility. When you do signature strikes, that's very risky. And President Obama said he was going to stop them and clearly he didn't.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What kind of changes are you calling for?
DELANEY: Well, what we're calling for is the creation of effectively a hostage czar, which deals with a slightly different issue, which deals with finding these hostages, because in my experience with Warren's case we do not do as good of a job, or an effective a job as we could as a country in locating these hostages.
I mean, Warren was held as a hostage for over three years. And the coordination between the different parts of our government -- and the individuals in those different parts work really hard on these matters, but we just didn't see the kind of coordination and effectiveness in leveraging some of our partners in the region to actually identify where these hostages are.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Brian, that is something that we could be seeing more coordination under this government.
ROSS: Absolutely, to have the FBI involved, the State Department, they're not always talking. They don't always agree. They're not using all their resources as best they could. And the idea of somebody who would control that at the center point is very important.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Thank you all very much.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Thank you all very much.
We're going to turn now to "Clinton Cash." The controversial book hasn't even been released. It's already creating another campaign firestorm for Hillary -- Hillary Clinton. We asked the Clinton campaign to appear this morning. They chose not to, but author Peter Schweizer is standing by live to layout his case after this report from ABC's Cecilia Vega.
CECILIA VEGA, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: For Hillary Clinton, the hits just keep on coming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A firestorm as questions mount about cash donations.
VEGA: A presidential campaign just two weeks old dogged by report after report questioning millions in foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
Many of those claims laid out in a new book "Clinton Cash." Author Peter Schweizer making this bold charge: "my research team and I have uncovered a repeated pattern of financial transactions coinciding with official actions favorable to Clinton contributors."
One of his examples, the State Department one of several agencies signing off on the 2010 sale of one of America's largest uranium mines to Russia. The book claims the company's Canadian chairman used his family charity to donate more than $2 million to the Clinton Foundation.
And though Clinton promised the White House the Foundation would disclose donors.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: There is not an inherent conflict of interest.
VEGA: The book claims it didn't always do that.
And this, ABC News has learned that while Clinton was secretary of State, her husband's speaking fees, in many cases, doubled, even tripled.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.
VEGA: Bill Clinton raking in millions, some of that from groups with interests pending before the State Department, although ABC found no evidence that Hillary Clinton took action based on these contributions.
On the campaign trail, we asked Clinton about the controversy.
(on camera): Did (INAUDIBLE) receive any special treatment for making any kind of donations to the Foundation or your husband?
H. CLINTON: The Republicans seem to be talking only about me. I don't know what they'd talk about if I weren't in the race.
VEGA (voice-over): Her camp calling the claims of undue influence partisan-fueled fiction.
On that uranium deal, they say, the essential fact is that Hillary Clinton was not involved in the State Department's review of the sale to Russians.
Republicans see it differently.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The notion that somehow official U.S. policy was influenced by donations, that's a troubling allegation. If proven to be true, I think it's a disqualifier.
VEGA: Allegations that don't hit store shelves until May 5th.
For THIS WEEK, Cecilia Vega, ABC News, New York.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the author of "Clinton Clash," Peter Schweizer, joins us now.
Thank you for joining us this morning, Peter.
You know, I was looking at the book jacket right here and you say that, here in the book jacket, that your reporting raises serious and alarming questions about judgment of possible indebtedness to an array of foreign interests and ultimately, a fitness for high public office.
So how does your reporting show that Hillary Clinton may be unfit for the presidency?
PETER SCHWEIZER, AUTHOR, "CLINTON CLASH": Well, I think the real question here, George, is when you ever have an issue of the flow of funds to political candidates, whether that's to their campaigns, whether that's to private foundations, whether that's to their spouse, is there evidence of a pattern of -- of favorable decisions being made for those individuals?
And I think the -- the point that we make in the book is that there is a troubling pattern.
There are dozens of examples of that occurring.
Some people, I think particularly the Clinton camp, would say that these are all coincidence. I don't think, when you're talking about 12 instances, you're talking coincidence. I think you're talking trend.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you take it pretty far. You write that, "The pattern of behavior is troubling enough to warrant further investigation by law enforcement officers.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you have any evidence that a crime may have been committed?
SCHWEIZER: Well, I think it's -- if you look at a couple of recent examples. For example, Governor McConnell down in Virginia, or you look at Senator Menendez, in these cases, you didn't have evidence of a quid pro quo. What you had was funds flowing to elected officials, some of them gifts, some of them campaign contributions and actions that were being taken by those public officials that seemed to benefit the contributors.
Certainly, I think it warrants investigation. What that investigation will reveal, we'll see.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But a criminal investigation?
SCHWEIZER: Well, we'll see. I mean that's what the Governor McConnell has faced and that's what Menendez has faced.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the...
SCHWEIZER: And I think the evidence here is far more widespread in terms of repeated action than there were in those two instances.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, the Clinton campaign says you haven't produced a shred of evidence that there was any official action as secretary that -- that supported the interests of donors.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We've done investigative work here at ABC News, found no proof of any kind of direct action. And an independent government ethics expert, Bill Allison, of the Sunline Foundation (ph), wrote this. He said, "There's no smoking gun, no evidence that she changed the policy based on donations to the foundation."
No smoking gun.
Is there a smoking gun?
SCHWEIZER: Yes. The smoking gun is in the pattern of behavior. And here's the analogy I would give you. It's a little bit like insider trading. I wrote a book on Congressional insider trading a couple of years ago and talked with prosecutors.
Most people that engage in criminal insider trading don't send an e-mail that says I've got inside information, buy this stock.
The way they look at it, they look at a pattern of stock trades. If the person has access to that information and they do a series of well-timed trades, that warrants investigation.
I think the same thing applies here.
By the way, what's important to note is it was confirmed on Thursday, both by "The New York Times" and "The Wall Street Journal," that there were multi-million dollar, non-disclosed donations that were made to the Clinton Foundation that were never disclosed by the Clintons.
This is a direct breach of an agreement they signed with the White House.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That -- that is an issue for them, but it's not a criminal -- it's nothing that would warrant a criminal investigation.
So let's look at some of the specifics behind your pattern.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of focus on the sale of a company, Uranium One, to a -- to a Russian company. Of course, Frank Drisdra (ph), who had committed, what, a $130 million, a pledge to the Clinton Foundation back in 2006, had had an interest in this company.
But he actually sold it.
SCHWEIZER: Well, he sold his stock, but his firm, Endeavor Financial, continued to do finance deals well after that. And the individuals involved in the book, as you probably read, there are nine -- count them, nine major contributors to the Clinton Foundation who were involved in that nuclear deal.
The two individuals who were the financial advisers on the deal of the sale to the Russians, they're both major Clinton Foundation supporters. The chairman of that Foundation, Ian Telfer, whose donations were not disclosed, campaign -- and sorry, a Clinton Foundation contributor. And there are others.
So this is not just about Frank Giustra. This is multiple layers (INAUDIBLE)...
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, but you didn't disclose in your book that he had sold the interest.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Beyond that, this deal was approved by a -- a board of the government called the CFIUS Board.
STEPHANOPOULOS: This actually chaired by the secretary of the Treasury...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- not the secretary of State.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Eight other agencies on board, the secretary of State, Homeland Security, Defense, Commerce...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- signed off on it. And even though the State Department was one of nine agencies to sign off on it, there's no evidence at all that Hillary Clinton got directly involved in this decision.
SCHWEIZER: Well, I think it warrants further investigation. And there's a couple of things that need to be clarified.
Number one, she was one vote -- or the State Department was one vote on CFIUS. But any agency has veto power. So it needs to be unanimous. So they had to support this agreement.
The second thing that I would say is that in the midst of all of this, Hillary Clinton was in charge of the Russian reset. She was in charge of -- in -- of the A123 nuclear agreements with the Russians. She was the one that was meeting with Lavrov. There were four senior congressmen on national security issues that raised concerns about this issue...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But wait a second. There were nine different agencies...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- who approved it.
Doesn't that suggest that that was because there was no national security concern, not because of some nefarious influence by Hillary Clinton?
SCHWEIZER: But -- but look at the nine individuals that were on the CFIUS committee, the nine agencies represented.
Who was, by far, the most hawkish on CFIUS issues in the past?
Hillary Clinton. She was big on rejecting the Dubai Ports deal. She was big on other issues. She sponsored legislation when she was in the Senate to straighten CFIUS.
This was a signature issue for her and this is totally out of character...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the assistant secretary who sat -- the assistant secretary of State who sat on the committee said she never intervened on any CFIUS issue at all.
SCHWEIZER: Well, I think that deserves further scrutiny. I would question that.
To argue that (INAUDIBLE)...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But based on what?
Based on what?
SCHWEIZER: Well, I think based on her (INAUDIBLE)...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you have any evidence that she actually intervened in this issue?
SCHWEIZER: No, we don't have direct evidence. But it warrants further investigation because, again, George, this is part of the broader pattern. You either have to come to the conclusion that these are all coincidences or something else is afoot.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that -- that is that -- the Clintons do say it's a coincidence. As they say, you have produced no evidence. And I still haven't heard any direct evidence and you just said you had no evidence that she intervened here.
But I do want to ask a broader question.
It's been reported that you -- you briefed several Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including the chairman, Bob Corker.
Did you offer any briefings for Democrats?
SCHWEIZER: No, but I'd be glad to give them before the book is released. This was a -- a friend that asked me. He thought it would be a good idea to talk to these individuals. This was the committee that confirmed her.
And I was glad to meet with them. They did not get copies of the book. They did not get any material. It was simply a verbal briefing.
And I'd be glad to brief any Democrats before May 5th, when the book comes out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, the Democrats have said this is -- this is an indication of your partisan interest. They say...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- you used to work for President -- President Bush as a speechwriter. You're funded by the Koch brothers.
How do you respond to that?
SCHWEIZER: Well, George, what did I do when this book was completed?
I went to the investigative unit at "The New York Times," the investigative unit here at ABC. I went to the investigative unit at "The Washington Post." And I shared with them my findings, OK. These are not cupcakes. These are serious researchers and investigators.
And they are confirming what I've reported. So people can look at the facts and...
STEPHANOPOULOS: They haven't come -- they haven't confirmed any evidence of any crime.
SCHWEIZER: Well, but -- but it's not up to an author to prove crime. I mean do you think that when people first started looking at Governor McConnell or they started looking at Menendez, that they immediately had evidence?
You need subpoena power. You need access to records and information. You need access to e-mails.
There's all sorts of things that you can do. You can't leave it up to an author to say that an author has to prove a criminal case.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Bloomberg News is reporting that you're going to be looking into Jeb Bush's business dealings, as well.
Is that true?
What have you found?
Where and when will you publish?
SCHWEIZER: We've been working on it for about four months. We've been looking at land deals. We've been looking at an airport deal. We've been looking at some financial transactions involving hedge funds based out of the UK.
We have already reached out to several media outlets and we're going to adopt a similar model that we have here, which is to share that information with investigative journalists at established news outlets, share with them that information.
And I think that people will find it very, very interesting and compelling.
Peter Schweizer, thanks very much.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks for having me, George.
Up next, the roundtable on this Hillary book and augways (ph) from the campaign trail.
Plus, same-sex marriage coming to the Supreme Court this week.
Bruce Jenner's big announcement puts transgender issues in the spotlight. We debate the next frontier in civil rights.
And we're back in just two minutes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For many Americans, this is still a time of deep uncertainty. For example, I have a -- I have one friend, just a few weeks ago, she was making millions of dollars a year and she's now living out of a van in Iowa.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Tom Cotton's defense, he was just trying to repair America's strained relationship with Israel. But you know what, he doesn't need to worry about that. Our relationship will be better in the next administration, just as soon as Israel makes a generous donation to the Clinton Foundation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hillary Clinton a target last night at the White House Correspondents Dinner.
Let's talk about that and this new book, "Clinton Cash," on our roundtable, joined by Donna Brazile, our Democratic strategist; former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; and our team from Bloomberg Politics, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.
Welcome to you all.
Donna, I've got to talk to you first. I know you're close to the Clinton team. They did not want to put anybody out to talk about this book today, even though we asked. And you just saw Peter Schweizer there.
What do you make of his allegations generally, but also the specific allegation he makes that there are undisclosed donations to the Clinton Foundation from foreign charities?
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, George, I haven't read the full book. I'm sure it's still being rewritten somewhere, because the news -- the newspapers and other publications are already disputing some of the facts that he claims in his book.
But there are more drippings in this book than juice or sauce. And what the -- what the campaign needs to do, and they did it last week, is to just go ahead and respond to these allegations. They're scurrilous. We're going to see more of them as the campaign goes along.
But respond to them and continue to reach out to voters and ignore all of this background noise. That's -- that's what they need to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Speaker, I read that you thought these allegations are starting to reach some kind of critical mass around the Foundation that could even force her out of the race?
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I mean, look, this isn't a political problem, this is a historic problem. "The Constitution of the United States" says you cannot take money from foreign governments without explicit permission of the Congress. They wrote that in there because they knew the danger of corrupting our system by foreign money is enormous.
You had a sitting secretary of State whose husband radically increased his speech fees, you have a whole series of dots on the wall now where people gave millions of dollars -- oh, by the way, they happen to get taken care of by the State Department.
Now, you raised a good standard, and, of course, having been on the Whitewater or on the Watergate committee, she knew exactly what to do. She eliminated 33,000 e-mails. Richard Nixon only erased 18 minutes.
So you're going to have a prima facie case that any jury would look at.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think a jury would look at the case based on...
GINGRICH: I think a jury would look at the totality of this case and say it is clearly against "The Constitution." It's clearly against U.S. law. I mean DOD and HHS both have rules that say you can't take more than $315.
BRAZILE: It's a global foundation and they release all of their donors, something that many of the...
BRAZILE: -- many of the...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not all of them. Some of them (INAUDIBLE)...
BRAZILE: Well, they're...
BRAZILE: -- in the aggregate, they -- they didn't, but in the -- they -- but it was the...
BRAZILE: The funding was released...
GINGRICH: They skipped three years.
BRAZILE: The funding was...
They just now announced they skipped three years.
BRAZILE: Look, they are amending those documents. And there's no legal requirement to do so, but they are amending it...
GINGRICH: A foundation controlled by your husband is the same as money to you. It is clear in federal law...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
GINGRICH: This would -- if it wasn't Hillary Clinton, this would clearly...
BRAZILE: The only reason why we're having this conversation is because they are transparent. They have released a list of their donors, something that we don't get from any of the Republicans super PACs or foundations.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mark Halperin, how serious is this?
MARK HALPERIN, BLOOMBERG NEWS: The Clinton Foundation does great work. Some of the charges against her are overstated. That's on one side of the ledger.
On the other side of the ledger, it's extraordinarily serious. Imagine if an assistant secretary of State had done what Hillary Clinton -- we know that she did. They'd be out of the State Department.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They with which things?
BRAZILE: (INAUDIBLE). HALPERIN: Co-mingling a family foundation, donations from foreign governments, increased speech fees and government actions. We don't know that...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But we have no evidence of government action.
HALPERIN: Well, there were government actions taken. What we don't know -- and this goes to the -- to the deleted e-mails -- is what kind of communication did Hillary Clinton have on her private e-mail account regarding her husband's speeches and regarding the foundation activities that involved foreign donations.
If they hadn't been so careless at the foundation, if she hadn't deleted the e-mails, and if they put somebody out on the show today to answer the questions, I think a lot of this could be put to rest.
But none of those things are true.
JOHN HEILEMANN, BLOOMBERG NEWS: And that specific question that arises, which is did our -- e-mails that you -- that revolved around these issues, around your husband's foundation work, did those fall under the -- under the -- what you considered private e-mails, personal e-mails, and so therefore, were flushed down -- down the drain?
Or were they part of the public record?
That is the question that has not been addressed and she must answer that question, I think, because it goes to the core of whether...
HEILEMANN: -- there is at least the appearance of an obstruction of justice kind of activist on her part in getting rid of that e-mail server.
BRAZILE: No, this is just more trying to look under the curtain and see if there is any there there. Again, I mean, look, I -- I think they have been very forthcoming in listing their donors and showing the aggregate amount. And, as Mark said, doing good work.
But this is just more there there...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do they need to give more?
BRAZILE: -- some connection.
Of course, George. I mean I think responding to the allegations in the book, they put the information out and they'll put out more information. But the more you put out, the -- the more you detract from the message and -- and you give Republicans fodder. That's all they wanted to do. The Republicans just want to talk about Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. They don't want to talk about issues.
GINGRICH: I think there's a very simple case here. "The Constitution" says you can't take this stuff. We have federal laws that say you can't take this stuff. If this was any person but Hillary Clinton, they'd be under indictment right now for a clearly straightforward problem.
They took money...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But (INAUDIBLE) kind of would have been allowed in the first place.
GINGRICH: My point is they took money from foreign governments while she was secretary of State. That is clearly illegal. This is not about politics. It's illegal. And it's dangerous to America to have foreign governments get in the habit of bribing people who happen to be the husband of the secretary of State or the next president of the United States. HALPERIN: Here's why you know this is serious, because any Democrat, almost any Democrat who's not on the Clintons' payroll, will tell reporters and others privately that these are serious issues, not -- forget the politics, these are serious issues.
The -- the question for me right now is all these donors who gave and all the people who paid President Clinton to give speeches, what kind of communication did they have with people in the government?
That may not be a quid pro quo, but everybody knows that a lot of those nations work for people who wanted access to the Clintons.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The last word?
HEILEMANN: Well, I think we now -- we all now, I think, also have examples now of where the administration -- Barack Obama's administration knew that this was a potential problem. That's why they set up the agreement that they had with the -- with the family, with, you know, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton when he -- she took the job as secretary of State.
There are now several that we know of at this moment, several documented instances where whether or not it's illegal, where they broke their agreement with the administration. And when you think about the president having set a standard of being the most transparent and open administration in history, and what the Clintons have done here, clearly, is not the most transparent and open.
And I think they've had -- whether that was legal or not, they violated the spirit of Barack Obama's presidency.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We've got to take a quick break.
Up next, we'll take on the Republican field, is Marco Rubio a new frontrunner?
And later, all the highlights from the White House Correspondents Dinner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: The institution of marriage as one man and one woman existed before our laws existed.
SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: Marriage is a decision that should be defined by our state governments, not at the federal level.
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: We need leaders who will stand unapologetically in defense of marriage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States of America did not create religious liberty, religious liberty created the United States of America, and it is the reason we are hear today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Nine potential Republican candidates at the Faith and Freedom Coalition forum in Iowa last night. Nine of who knows how many eventual candidates in this race.
Let's talk about that now again with our roundtable. And Mr. Speaker, we were just talking just before we came on air, this field could continue to grow and grow and grow.
GINGRICH: This is now maybe the most open field in Republican history. I used to say the most open since 1940, but they've now blown past that.
I think we may have 25 candidates.
STEPHANOPOULOS: 25 candidates. And we saw Dan Balz (inaudible) Dan Balz the dean of political reporters for the Washington Post. His column today saying is anyone afraid of Jeb?
One of the things we're seeing is that no one is deterred from getting into the race. And every week -- this week it's Marco Rubio, someone else climbing up into the top tier.
HALPERIN: And Rubio's rise -- and right now, many people call him frontrunner, most symbolizes what Dan is talking about, both the wide openness and Jeb Bush's vulnerability.
Rubio is someone who the conventional wisdom was just a few months ago wouldn't even run if Jeb Bush ended up in the race so close to him and sharing a Florida base.
I think right now you still have a top tier of Bush, Walker and Rubio pending John Kasich maybe entering the race.
But if Jeb Bush falters at all, if he has to fight for this nomination, I think then you've got up to 10 people who could be the nominee. And the speaker said, we've never had a situation like that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: John, Jeb Bush himself says he knows he's going to have to fight for this nomination.
HEILEMANN: Well, he has to fight for it, but I think the most amazing thing is the conventional wisdom if you talk to people who work for other Republican, potential or current candidates, is they all say the same thing to you, they all believe this, they say I don't know who Jeb Bush's voters are in the Republican Party. I don't know who is for him. Not -- apart from the donor class, we can't find the constituents in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina that are going to be for him. And that creates the perception that there's no risk in going after him.
If he doesn't have any voters out there, why not me?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that good for Democrats or bad?
BRAZILE: It's good for Democrats. We saw that in 2012, because you know when you are in the primary season and you're trying to rally the so-called faithful and go so far to the right that you perhaps, you know, get off the field, it helps Democrats to continue to focus on what's important to the American people, the economy.
And you know what, the Republicans are on a shopping spree. And that's a good thing.
One of the reasons why we constantly talk about Hillary Clinton is because there's no Democratic opponent yet to Hillary Clinton. So, the media seems to want to fill in that particular void.
But on the Republican side, it's very interesting to see these candidates compete over the weekend.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And as they compete, as the lead chips off every single week, it does remind me the dynamic in 2012 where Romney comes in as the putative frontrunner, but every week a different candidates seems to rise to the top. You had several weeks at the top of the field.
GINGRICH: I liked those weeks.
GINGRICH: But what's going to make this fascinating is, first of all, that there's a generational shift. You look at a 43-year-old Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton. Look at Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton. I mean, there's a whole generation -- for that matter Scott Walker I think is 46, Hillary Clinton.
I mean, you're going to have a younger generation of new ideas, new approaches, and their speeches actually all direct towards some kind of vision of the future. They spend much more time talking about how you get America growing again, et cetera than they do about Hillary Clinton.
HALPERIN: Say one -- four things about Jeb Bush that we shouldn't overlook. He'll raise the most money, maybe by a lot. He's the most presidential in demeanor. I think he's clearly right now the most obviously ready to be president. And I still believe he's the one the Clintons fear the most.
Those are four big things, which if the Republican nomination process goes by the traditional rules, will make him the nominee.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Donna Brazile, on that point, one of the things Jeb Bush is doing by pushing back on issues like immigration, on Common Core, trying to preserve some sense of holding the center if he actually gets the nomination.
BRAZILE: If he gets the nomination, because again these activists are looking not just for somebody who is electable who can win in the fall, but they are looking for somebody who will champion their issues. And Jeb Bush is still trying to become that champion.
You know, you mention age, it's not the age of the candidate, it is the age of the ideas. And the ideas that many of these Republican candidates are out there promoting are ideas that are out of sync with the American people and the population on inclusiveness and diversity, marriage equality, which George is going to talk about.
I wouldn't worry about Hillary Clinton age, I worry about the ideas of these candidates who want to take us back to another bygone era.
GINGRICH: On the other hand, you have a John Kasich who carried 86 out of 88 counties...
STEPHANOPOULOS: In Ohio.
GINGRICH: In Ohio. You have a Scott Walker, who got reelected despite an enormous effort to defeat him. I mean, you've got some people out there who understand how to be positive, how to occupy the center in terms of fights, and who I think would be very formidable opponents.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On John Kasich, he is making more noise that make it look like he's going to get in.
HALPERIN: Fascinating guy who the speaker knows well. He would like to run. He's the classic person now thinking about this because he looks at the field and says if this is -- these are the people who might be our nominee why not me because of his record in Ohio, not just electorally, but in terms of governance.
One of the things he's showing is a McCain -- vintage McCain 2000 openness to saying what ever is on his mind. He's always been like this. There's an authenticity there.
It will create controversy for him if he runs, but he's setting the standard as much as anybody else and saying counterpoints to Hillary Clinton I'm going to speak what I really believe the country needs.
It's effective with a lot of constituencies.
HEILEMANN: I mean -- and look, I mean, you downplayed it a second ago, the electoral element of it. The fact that he won more than a quarter of the African-American vote in Ohio is kind of an astonishing thing and gives him a capacity to be a great general election candidate.
But going back to the earlier point, which is what is the Republican Party today? Do the old rules still apply where the establishment is the establishment frontrunner wins? Or do you have to now, because the other wing of the party has gotten stronger, do you have straddle those two wings?
I think that's why Marco Rubio and Scott Walker are both strong candidates, because they play with the establishment and they can play with the grassroots, kind of a problem for Kasich and a problem for Bush, because they don't play on the other side as well as they play strictly on the establishment side.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The final question for the speak you said right at the top you could have 25 candidates in the end. We're about, you know, what the first votes will probably be next January. How is the field going to sort itself out?
GINGRICH: The American people will sort it out with remarkable speed once it starts. But as David Broder once reminded us, all of us will talk from now until the first Iowa caucus and nothing will have happened, but we'll all have to fill the space. And then the American people start to work. And I suspect by April we'll have a pretty clear nominee.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Mr. Speaker, thank you all very much.
And now our powerhouse puzzler inspired by the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Last night, Cecily Strong became the fourth female comedian to perform. The first one was more than 20 years ago. So here's the question. Can you name the first female comedian to perform solo? Bonus points, can you name to two others. Right back with the answer.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Who was the first female comedian to perform at the White House Correspondents' Dinner? Can you name the other two?
Wanda Sykes, Ellen...
MARK HALPERIN: DeGeneres.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Bruce Jenner -- you're going to go to --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the only one I could remember was Wanda Sykes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, mine is totally stupid, as I said, but Bette Midler.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Wanda Sykes did do it -- it was back in 2009. But the first was actually Paula Poundstone.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In 1992; Elaine Boosler in 1993 and Wanda Sykes in 2009.
But we are going to talk about Bruce Jenner when we come back, that big interview on Friday night. I would -- thank you very much.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Also the debate over same-sex marriage is coming to the court this week. We'll be right back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Is that a bad thing?
DIANE SAWYER (voice-over): You're going to go to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner and ask them to help champion this cause.
BRUCE JENNER (voice-over): I would -- I would do that, yes, in a heartbeat, why not?
Yes. And I think they'd be very receptive to it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Bruce Jenner, Republican, just one of the revelations from his remarkable interview, Diane Sawyer, Friday night. Instantly he became the most famous transgender person in the world.
But will his now-public journey change the way we all deal with transgender issues?
Chris Connelly takes a look at that.
JENNER: But for all intents and purposes, I am a woman.
CHRIS CONNELLY, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bruce Jenner, going public with feelings that have been harbored since childhood, hoping this revelation makes a difference.
JENNER: What I'm doing is going to do some good and we're going to change the world. I really firmly believe that.
CONNELLY (voice-over): Jenner's announcement comes at a time that's been called a tipping point for the transgender community, two critically acclaimed television shows feature transgender characters. And in January, the word "transgender" made it into the State of the Union, a presidential first.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's why we defend free speech and condemn the persecution of women or religious minorities or people who are lesbians, gay, bisexual or transgender.
CONNELLY (voice-over): An estimated 700,000 Americans identify as transgender. And while awareness of gender identity issues is growing, advocates say there are still big hurdles to clear. Thirty-two states have no laws protecting transgender people from job discrimination. The military bans transgender people from serving openly.
And as Jenner told Diane Sawyer, transgender men and women often face life-threatening struggles.
JENNER: The suicide rates, murder rates, the difficulty for especially by female trans women --
CONNELLY (voice-over): Jenner hopes opening up about transitioning to a woman will spark change.
For THIS WEEK, Chris Connelly, ABC News, New York.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Jenner's revelations, spotlighting these new issues, just as the Supreme Court's (INAUDIBLE) take on the future of same-sex marriage, for all arguments Tuesday, the time of remarkable change with 37 states now permitting same-sex marriage.
ABC Jon Karl is coverage this landmark case.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The case that could spark an historic Supreme Court ruling, imposing same-sex marriage on all 50 states started out with a simple request from a couple in Ohio.
Jim Obergefell's husband was dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. Jim was told he couldn't be listed as a surviving spouse because Ohio wouldn't recognize their Maryland marriage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being able to marry John was the happiest moment of my life. It made a difference, having that legal document that recognized us as a couple.
KARL (voice-over): Now it all comes down to how these nine men and women read the 14th Amendment's guarantee of due process and equal protection under the law. Did those words give gays and lesbians the right to marry? And if not, do they at least require states to recognize marriages like Jim Obergefell's (ph) from other states?
It's an issue where views have changed sharply in an incredibly short time. And the president, seven years ago --
OBAMA: -- also marriage is the union between a man and a woman.
KARL (voice-over): -- to three years ago.
OBAMA: I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.
KARL (voice-over): And the public has shifted dramatically, too. On Thursday, an ABC News "Washington Post" poll with a new record: 61 percent of Americans say gays should be allowed to marry. A total flip from 2004, when a nearly identical percentage opposed same-sex marriage.
But Sherif Girgis, who wrote a brief supporting traditional marriage, says this is not about discrimination
SHERIF GIRGIS: This isn't about limiting anyone's personal liberty or controlling anyone's love life. It's about upholding a particular ideal, to give kids the best shot at being reared by their own mom and dad. This is exactly the kind of issue the courts should leave to the people, to the states.
KARL (voice-over): Most conservatives will be closely watching Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee who, two years ago, was the key vote knocking down the federal ban on same-sex marriage. Will he be the deciding vote again, this time making marriage equality a constitutional right?
For THIS WEEK, Jonathan Karl, ABC News, Washington.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Jon for that.
Let's talk about it now with Ryan Anderson from The Heritage Foundation and Chad Griffin from the Human Rights Campaign.
And, Ryan, let me begin with you.
What is the argument that you believe is going to convince Justice Kennedy to leave this to the states?
RYAN ANDERSON, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Sure. I think that Justice Kennedy is going to rule consistently with what he said two years ago. He needs to say that the states have the authority to define marriage for themselves.
Two years ago, when he struck down the federal definition of marriage, he said it was because the federal government was deviating from deference to state authority over marriage.
This time around, I think he has to say that there's nothing in the U.S. Constitution that tells us what marriage is. There are good arguments on both sides; some people have good arguments in favor of gay marriage, good arguments against gay marriage, good arguments to retain the traditional understanding of marriage.
Equality alone doesn't settle that issue, because all of us are in favor of marriage equality, want the law to treat all marriages equally. The question is which vision of marriage is the truth.
And nine unelected judges don't have any greater access at that than you, me and Chad. So I think Justice Kennedy's going to want to say that the people and their elected representatives, working through the states, should make marriage policy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you agree with that?
I don't think you do.
CHAD GRIFFIN, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN: There's no question, George; Justice Scalia wrote in his dissent in the Windsor case that the decision in Windsor was going to lead to marriage equality across this country. And that's exactly what I believe is going to happen and I believe Justice Kennedy will offer that opinion.
You know, the other thing that --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think he's going to go all the way and say there's a constitutional right?
GRIFFIN: I do, George. First of all, 70 percent of Americans already live in states where we have marriage equality. But the other thing that Justice Kennedy asks in oral arguments, but also in his decision, what about those thousands of children that today are already being raised by same-sex couples? More than 200,000 children in this country today are being raised by same-sex parents.
They deserve the same rights, protections as everyone else.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That did seem to tug at Justice Kennedy.
ANDERSON: Sure, and I think we've seen this time around voices from children of gays and lesbians on both sides of this debate. There are three different amicus briefs filed by the children of gay and lesbian couples, saying, we love our two moms or our two dads. It wasn't the same thing as having a mom and a dad. And so we're the children of gays and lesbians who are against gay marriage.
We've also seen gay and lesbian voices themselves saying I'm gay but I'm against gay marriage.
It's not as if the LGBT community speaks in one voice on this issue. And I think Justice Kennedy's going to want to look at how redefining marriage impacts everyone. And I don't think he has a crystal ball to know whether or not it'll produce good outcomes or bad outcomes.
So we leave it to the democratic process.
GRIFFIN: There's no question that all of the science, dozens of scientific research independent, peer-reviewed studies, says that there is no different whether a child is raised by loving, same-sex parents or opposite sex parents.
A child deserves loving parents. And according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is no difference.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to move onto something else quickly here, because there does seem to be, most Supreme Court watchers do believe that Kennedy is likely to find some right of gay marriage, although none of us can be sure if that happens, where does the movement go next?
ANDERSON: Sure. I mean, I think if that happens it'll be repeating the mistake of Roe v. Wade. Forty-two years ago, the Supreme Court tried to settle the abortion issue and for the past 40 years we've been having a culture war.
Nothing's more divisive in our politics today than abortion because we can't make common-sense compromises through the democratic process.
Look at Europe. They don't have the March for Life every year like we do; they don't have the divisive abortion politics because their courts didn't remove this issue from popular democracy. That's what needs to happen here. If it doesn't happen, I fear there's going to be a backlash. There'll be a culture war like there's been on the abortion issue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to move on to one other issue. We did see that interview with Bruce Jenner on Friday night.
Chad Griffin, what do you think the impact is of this and now that Bruce Jenner's instantly become the most famous transgender person in the world, is that good for the movement for those who want to support transgender rights?
GRIFFIN: It was monumental. Look, anytime someone's willing to stand up and to come out and to share their story and to live their truth, it's a massive victory, but especially when that person is an American hero, is a superstar like Bruce Jenner.
That's what changes hearts and minds all across this country. But what I hope it will also do is open Americans' eyes as to how we treat transgender people in this country today. And I hope that we'll move policymakers, Democrats and Republicans, to bring about the needed protections that are so needed all across this country today.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Your reaction?
ANDERSON: I think the very end of the Jenner interview was really interesting. He said if his father was still alive, he'd want his father to know that he loved him. And then he says we have to keep open hearts and open minds. And I think that's exactly right.
Going forward, we need to hear voices like Bruce Jenner's. We also need to hear voices like Walt Hyer (ph), a man who went through and had this sex reassignment surgery and it didn't solve his problems. We need to hear voices like Dr. Paul McHugh (ph) from Johns Hopkins Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medical School. He was the chair of psychology at Johns Hopkins, where they decided to stop doing sex reassignment surgery. He came to the conclusion that it wasn't helping those patients.
So I think the science is very unsettled on this. We need to welcome all voices to this debate. We need to listen to --
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- debate has begun.
OK, thank you both. Thank you very much.
We'll be back (INAUDIBLE) White House Correspondents' Dinner.
STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): Big night in Washington last night. The 89th White House Correspondents' Dinner, a lot of people there. We were all there, packed with celebrities and the press.
But we had T.J. Holmes work the room. Here's what he had to find.
T.J. HOLMES, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hollywood's in town.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love this event (INAUDIBLE).
HOLMES (voice-over): Our favorite celebs hitting the red carpet at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chaos here.
HOLMES (voice-over): For the stars of ABC's "Blackish," it's a first.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People been landing in gyrocopters on the lawn, at the Capitol. You got any security concerns about this evening?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I always park myself next to the exit just in case something goes down. I'm from Compton.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my first.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, this is my first as well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's exciting, isn't it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) situation.
HOLMES (voice-over): The perfect segue for the star of the night, the commander in chief.
OBAMA: Now after the midterm elections, my advisers asked me, Mr. President, do you have a bucket list?
And I said, well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list.
OBAMA: Take executive action on immigration? Bucket.
HOLMES (voice-over): The president (INAUDIBLE) hobnob with Washington's press corps. The president even employing Comedy Central's "Obama Anger Translator."
OBAMA: Traditions like the White House Correspondents' Dinner are important.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
HOLMES (voice-over): And as always, he gets in a few shots at Republicans.
OBAMA: Rick Santorum announced that he would not attend the same-sex wedding of a friend or a loved one, to which gays and lesbians across the country responded, that's not going to be a problem.
HOLMES (voice-over): Democrats too.
OBAMA: Hillary kicked things off by going completely unrecognized at a Chipotle. Not to be outdone, Martin O'Malley kicked things off by going completely unrecognized at a Martin O'Malley campaign event.
HOLMES (voice-over): Comedian Cecily Strong (ph) giving her own advice to the press.
CECILY STRONG, COMEDIAN: I want all the media to put their hands up and swear something this election season, OK? I solemnly swear...
-- not to talk about Hillary's appearance...
-- because that is not journalism.
HOLMES (voice-over): But the night's top mission (INAUDIBLE) president.
STRONG: After six years in office, your approval rating is at 48 percent. Not only that, your gray hair is at 85 percent.
Your hair is so white now you can talk back to the police.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That was a pretty good one.
T.J., you were like a foreign correspondent here, your first one.
HOLMES: George, you did not adequately prepare me for this thing. It is for the Hollywood event that just happened to be in D.C. When Madeleine Albright is ignored by cameras for a YouTube star behind her, that's all you need to know about what happened last night.
STEPHANOPOULOS: T.J. learned a lot last night.
HOLMES: I did
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks for coverage.
We'll be back right after this from our ABC stations.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And before we go, a clarification about last week's piece on fallout from the 2009 BP oil spill.
A federal judge found last fall that BP was grossly negligent before the spill. We want to make clear that the same judge ruled in February that BP's cleanup efforts after the spill have not been grossly negligent.
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT" with David Muir and I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."
A note from “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos on May 16, 2015:
“I made charitable donations to the Foundation in support of the work they’re doing on global AIDS prevention and deforestation, causes I care about deeply. I thought that my contributions were a matter of public record. However, in hindsight, I should have taken the extra step of personally disclosing my donations to my employer and to the viewers on air during the recent news stories about the Foundation. I apologize.”