— -- THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT
ANNOUNCER: Starting right now on ABC's THIS WEEK, two stunning shake-ups. The House speaker abruptly resigns...
ANNOUNCER: -- rocking the GOP.
And a brand new poll showing Ben Carson now in a dead heat with Donald Trump.
Are outsiders now in charge?
Dr. Carson is here.
And Pope Francis in America -- record crowds going wild in Philadelphia, with the pontiff's powerful message of hope -- what he's about to reveal on his final stop in the US.
From ABC News, THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS begins now.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS HOST: Good morning.
I'm Martha Raddatz.
As we come on the air this morning, we want to get right to two stunning developments in the 2016 race.
First, to the Republicans. A new national NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll revealing Donald Trump's once formidable lead now gone. Dr. Ben Carson continuing to surge, now in a dead heat with Trump. You see it right there.
Trump 21 percent, Carson at 20. Another outsider, Carly Fiorina, surging, as well, now tied with Marco Rubio for third.
And on the Democratic side, the party establishment not faring much better. Bernie Sanders now within just 7 points of frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Dr. Carson joins us in just a moment.
First, the 2016 race is already feeling shockwaves from the other big political news, House Speaker John Boehner's bombshell resignation. The fallout for Republicans growing.
ABC's Jon Karl has the latest.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: God bless you, Speaker Boehner.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the Tea Party wave in 2010 that made John Boehner speaker of the House. He had spoken their language in the fight over ObamaCare.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Hell no, you can't.
KARL: Hell no soon became the de facto motto of the House conservatives, who often made Boehner's life as speaker a political hell and ultimately did him in. He faced an ugly fight just to keep his job.
BOEHNER: And this turmoil that's been churning now for a couple of months is not good for the members and it's not good for the institution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaker Boehner announced that he will be resigning.
KARL: At a forum of conservative voters in Washington Friday, Boehner's resignation got a standing ovation, the same anti-establishment forces that are shaking up Congress have also up-ended the race for the White House. The surest way for Republicans running for president to gain points is by slamming Republicans running Congress.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They get elected. They're full of vim and vigor. They're going to change things. They come down to these magnificent vaulted ceilings that you see all over Washington and what happens?
They become different people.
KARL: Ultimately, John Boehner was the top leader in a Congress unwilling to be led.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not surprised the pope inspired Boehner to resign. It must have been difficult for the Republican leader to sit there and watch someone whose followers actually listen to him.
KARL: The visit of Pope Francis was the emotional high point of Boehner's tenure. The former altar boy had been trying to get a pope to address Congress for 20 years.
BOEHNER: I have the high privilege and the distinct honor of presenting to you, Pope Francis of the Holy See.
KARL: It was also the moment that prompted his big decision.
BOEHNER: I woke up and I said my prayers, as I always do, and I decided, you know, today is the day I'm going to do this.
KARL: After announcing his resignation, Boehner seemed a changed man.
KARL: And why not sing?
The challenge of leading that unruly Republican majority will soon be someone else's problem.
For THIS WEEK, Jonathan Karl, ABC News, Washington.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to Jon.
Dr. Ben Carson joins us now from Florida.
Good morning, Dr. Carson.
DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good morning.
RADDATZ: I want to ask you, is it good for the Republican Party as a whole that Speaker Boehner is leaving?
CARSON: Well, you know, Speaker Boehner has served our country for many years and I certainly don’t see any reason to denigrate him in any way. But, you know, it is time, probably, for new leadership. There’s a lot of unrest and people who really feel that a lot of people have been sent to Congress over the last few elections, but nothing really has changed. And they want to see some results.
RADDATZ: Well, you’ve called him a go-along-to-get-along type of guy and that it’s time to have leaders who will put a stake in the ground. I think Speaker Boehner would say he did that several times and look where it got him.
CARSON: Well, it may require a stake in the ground and, you know, the right type of communication with the members. And he may have served very well for that time, but this is a different time. And it’s time, probably, to move on.
RADDATZ: Well, let’s turn to the big news this morning for you. In that NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, you are neck and neck with Donald Trump, rising from fourth place in July, doubling your support in this poll.
CARSON: Well, it kind of reflects what we’ve been seeing out on the road, just tremendous crowds with enormous enthusiasm. And I think it says a lot for the American people, because it means that they’re not necessarily listening to the pundits, that they’re starting to think for themselves. And that, I think, is what it’s going to take to get us off of this inexorable track toward destruction that we’re on.
RADDATZ: Let’s talk about some of the issues. In a speech to the Values Voters Summit on Friday, you said many of the immigrants trying to cross the border into the U.S. Are hardened criminals from Iraq, Somalia and Russia. I have not seen any figures that point to that.
Do you have evidence that many are hardened criminals from those countries?
CARSON: Well, I -- I talked to a number of the sheriffs on the borders and they’ve told me what kind of people are coming over. So I’m not sure that I would trust, quite frankly, any figures coming from the government, given the fact that they are the ones who are problematic. You know, a lot of these people who are captured, it’s ICE who comes along and says, you must release these people. And that’s not helpful to the American people. They need to be working for the American people, not against them.
RADDATZ: ICE is working against the American people?
CARSON: No, I’m talking about our government working against the American people. ICE and -- is causing the sheriffs, who are putting their lives at risk, are causing them to release these people. It’s -- and into our country. That doesn’t make any sense. And we don’t have people at the border. They’re 70 miles inland. Those fences are a joke.
And we’re -- we’ve had examples like in Yuma County where we’ve been able to stop 97 percent of the illegal flow, and those programs, they abolish. They don’t want that. What is wrong with them?
RADDATZ: I want to go back to your controversial comments on the possibility of a Muslim president. The question seemed quite clear. The question was: Should a president’s faith matter? You said, I guess it depends on what that faith is. The question was: So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the Constitution, and you said no, I do not. I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.
Do you stand by that now?
CARSON: Well, first of all, you know, what I said is on a transcript and it’s there for anybody.
RADDATZ: I’m reading the transcript, Dr. Carson, that’s exactly what you said.
CARSON: No -- read the paragraph before that where I said anybody, doesn’t matter what their religious background, if they accept American values and principles and are willing to subjugate their religious beliefs to our Constitution. I have no problem with them.
Why do you guys always leave that part out, I wonder?
RADDATZ: I don’t think we do, Dr. Carson, and it really was quite clear: "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation." You also talked about sharia law, that they must denounce sharia law. You assume that all Muslims embrace sharia law?
CARSON: Well, let’s -- what we should be talking about is Islam and the tenets of Islam and where do they come from? They come from sharia. They come the Koran. They come from, you know, the life works and examples of Muhammad. They come from the fatwas, which is the writings of scholars.
You know, and if you go back and you look at -- what I would like for somebody to show me is an improved Islamic text that opposes sharia. Let me see -- if you can show me that, I will begin to alter my thinking on this. But right now, when you have something that is against the rights of women, against the rights of gays, subjugates other religions, and a host of things that are not compatible with our Constitution, why in fact would you take that chance?
That’s one of the reasons...
RADDATZ: Dr. Carson, I want to get through several topics here if we can. Forgive me for interrupting.
But I want to turn to the migrant crisis. You told me a few weeks ago that bringing in people from the Middle East right now carries extra danger and we cannot put our people at risk because we are trying to be politically correct.
Let’s imagine some of those refugees get into the United States. For authorities to track emails, cell phone calls, they usually need to have probable cause. Do you think in some instances, religion should be enough for probable cause?
CARSON: I personally don’t feel that way, but I would certainly be willing to listen to somebody who had evidence to the contrary. I think that’s one of the problems, we get to our little corners and we don’t want to listen to anybody anymore.
RADDATZ: And I want to ask you a question about -- about China. You said in an op-ed recently that we should retaliate against China for large scale cyber attacks.
Are you saying offensive cyber attacks against China?
CARSON: I'm saying anybody who attacks us in the cyberspace they need to understand that there will be consequences for that. You know, we can't just sit around and -- and talk about it. That's going to be one of the real factors in the future.
Not only that, but we have to harden our grid. We have to have several layers of -- of alternate energy. We have to get back into space. In the future, he who controls space will control the Earth.
You know, there's a lot of things that we have to do. We have to take a strong stance. Strength is really the defense against aggressiveness by others.
RADDATZ: And -- and just one final question.
Kanye West told an interviewer earlier this month that when he heard you speak, he thought you were the most brilliant guy and he tried to call you.
First of all, I want to know whether you got in touch in the last few weeks and what you think of him, whether you'd like him to Hillary out with your campaign.
CARSON: Well, I did have an opportunity to to talk with him. I was extremely impressed with his business acumen. He knows a lot about business. And, you know, I talked to him about the possibility of maybe himself and some of the other people in the pop culture doing some -- some music that might be uplifting, that might give young women a sense of their value and young men a sense of responsibility.
I think it could be a tremendous thing in our society.
RADDATZ: Do you think he'd be a good president some day, 2020?
CARSON: Well, I'm certainly willing to give him a chance. We'll see. He'll be able to explain things and we'll see if he resonates with the people.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much for joining us, Dr. Carson.
CARSON: A pleasure.
RADDATZ: Now for more on Speaker John Boehner's surprise resignation and the 2016 impact. Let's bring in former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Thank for joining us this morning.
You were with John Boehner the day before he resigned. Tell us about that and did you have any idea this would happen.
NEWT GINGRICH, FMR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, Calista and I were very honored and sat with Debbie, his wife, during the speech by the pope. And then we went by John's office afterwards. You could tell that they're both tired, that they both felt pretty battered. I had no idea he was going to announce the next day, but in retrospect it was the perfect moment, because it was never going to get better.
Boehner is a very devout Catholic. This was the high point of his speakership. I think he was very emotional about the pope, having both blessed his grandchild and talked to him privately for a few minutes. And I think he figured, you know, it's not going to get any better.
He had been talking with members about retiring back in 2014 and then when Eric Cantor was defeated as the whip -- or as the majority leader, he felt that he couldn't leave.
But I -- and I think he was going to leave at the end of November.
RADDATZ: You, of course, resigned the speakership in '99. What's different here?
GINGRICH: I'm not sure a lot is different. John and I both faced the fact that there was a hardcore group, sort of a minority of the party, who were prepared to cause total chaos. In my case, they had announced they would never vote for me for speaker, and I'd never get to win a smaller majority, I'd never get to the 218. And so you just have chaos in the House.
In Boehner's case, they wanted to vacate the chair. And John knew in that kind of fight, every one of the guys -- he'd win the fight -- but every guy who voted for him would face a primary fight back home because if you look at the poll that came out I think was today, you know, 62 percent of the Republicans in this country are mad at Boehner and McConnell. Well that means if you become Boehner loyalist back home, you're going to have a primary fight and he just thought I'm not putting my friends through this kind of fight.
RADDATZ: But you also -- he was seen, of course, as an inside for making compromises, especially with President Obama. But was his ultimate fall linked to the surge of outsiders in the 2016 race?
GINGRICH: I think to some extent. It's circular. I think as you just pointed out in the last poll, 52 percent of the vote now goes to three outsiders. And I think that is a signal that reinforces everybody who was an outsider in the congress, whether it's Ted Cruz, or it's in the House side, and gives them more energy and more drive to do this. And I think also you have people like Bohener looking at this reality and realizing this isn't a moment Boehner can manage. This is a different world with different requirements; Kevin McCarthy's going to face very large challenges and needs to approach it --
GINGRICH: -- he's a Majority that will probably become Speaker -- he's got a big challenge.
RADDATZ: But just very quickly if you will, what does this do to the 2016 race and the chances for a Republican president?
GINGRICH: Oh, I think we're going to win the presidency and I think the odds are even money it's going to be an outsider, one of three front -- three people you listed is likely to be the nominee.
RADDATZ: Want to name one of them?
GINGRICH: I think any one of the three could win.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much, Mr. Speaker, we appreciate you coming in.
Coming up, Donald Trump under fire: who's launching new attacks and how he's responding.
Plus: the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, new details on what they've now found.
And Pope Francis in America. His historic trip ending where they're live by 1 million people are expected to turn out today.
RADDATZ (voice-over): The roundtable's up next, all the analysis of John Boehner's political stunner and the shock waves it's sending through the 2016 race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) this clown, Marco Rubio, I've been so nice to him. I've been so nice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't have this conversation about policy because, quite frankly, he doesn’t know anything about policy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's a baby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he's very (INAUDIBLE) obviously. He's very sensitive to criticism.
RADDATZ (voice-over): The gloves are off this week between Donald Trump and Marco Rubio and the roundtable is here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: "Weekly Standard" editor Bill Kristol; Democratic strategist Donna Brazile; "The Washington Post's" Robert Costa and ABC's own Matthew Dowd.
And I'm going to start with you, Bill Kristol. The Speaker said he's resigning to avoid prolonged leadership turmoil that would do irreparable damage to the institution.
Is that possible? Or this just increased the chance of chaos?
BILL KRISTOL, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I think probably a certain amount of chaos but it could be creative chaos and creative turmoil and I don't think it'll do irreparable damage to anyone. I think it was time for a change and I think they should take their time now and think about who they want to lead for the next year and fill all the other leadership positions. It's an unusual year, though.
RADDATZ: It certainly is.
Bob Costa, you were with him the night before his resignation, just tell us briefly about that but also whether you think this increases or decreases the chances for a shutdown.
ROBERT COSTA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": You know, he was a man of peace the night before. He recounted to me his experience with Pope Francis and he said the pope asked him to pray for him and that really moved him as a Catholic. And he thought this perhaps was the capstone to a long political career.
Look ahead to a shutdown, I don't think a shutdown's going to happen. Boehner now being in essence a lame duck Speaker enables him to pass a spending bill, perhaps even extend the debt limit. You have some stability now when it comes to the fiscal fights, the real intrigue is in the leadership race. It looks like McCarthy's the next Speaker but the race is for Majority leader, Majority whip, wide open.
RADDATZ: And you're going to have a little bit of chaos there, if nothing else.
Donna, what does this do for President Obama's last year in office?
DONNA BRAZILE, VICE CHAIRWOMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, you know, Mr. Boehner's leadership, we've been facing on crisis after another crisis. Multiple times the Republicans have basically threatened to shut down the government. We've had fight over raising the debt ceiling. We've had fight over funding the Department of Homeland Security. Now we're having a fight over funding Planned Parenthood.
So I think for President Obama, clearly he's going to continue to govern with the American people in mind. But the House Republicans, they're in disarray.
Look, since 1986, we've had speakers forced out by scandal, by their own party. And, of course, some of them have lost at the polls.
But this is a -- a moment of disarray for the Republicans and I don't think they're going to get their act together.
RADDATZ: And Matthew Dowd, I want to turn to 2016 with you, unless you're dying to say something...
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC CORRESPONDENT: I want to...
RADDATZ: -- about John Boehner.
DOWD: -- I just wanted to follow-up -- I actually wanted to follow-up on (INAUDIBLE)...
RADDATZ: Go ahead. Go ahead.
DOWD: The idea of holding the speakership a majority thing is now so temporary, it reminds me that the relationship in the Kardashian household lasts longer than a majority position...
RADDATZ: You were just dying to use...
DOWD: -- (INAUDIBLE) in the House.
RADDATZ: -- that line.
DOWD: I actually think this is more reflective than what the conservatives think about the speaker and the leadership and what they think about Obama and the fact that they're upset that America has changed. That's what they're really upset about, America is now less white, less married, less churched, less -- less conservative. And that is a difficult prospect for them to face in the course of this.
RADDATZ: So let...
KRISTOL: Wait a second...
RADDATZ: -- let...
KRISTOL: Sixty people -- there's 62 percent of Republicans disapproved of the Congressional leadership's performance. That's not a bunch of conservatives...
DOWD: Well, what...
KRISTOL: -- who...
KRISTOL: Or older America. That's a lot of Republicans who would like...
DOWD: What is it that...
KRISTOL: -- stronger leadership on the Hill.
COSTA: What is it that they wanted the Republican leadership to do other than what they did, which was block Obama at every turn?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wanted...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- they wanted more aggression. That's what you see in Congress, you see it in the presidential race. There's this appetite for outsiders who have more aggression...
BRAZILE: But they don't have the votes to do that. You have to have the votes. And because we have this so-called Hastert Rule, where you have to have a majority of the majority, and therefore, you cannot go and get any compromise from Democrats, they don't want to govern.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. Margaret Thatcher...
BRAZILE: They want to rule.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As Margaret Thatcher said, you have to win the argument before you win (INAUDIBLE)...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But there's not an argument.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think the genuine critique...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- of Boehner and McConnell is they never make the argument.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ideological...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But let Matt...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- let Matt talk...
RADDATZ: Go ahead.
RADDATZ: -- I'm letting this go.
RADDATZ: I'm definitely letting this go.
RADDATZ: Forget about 2016.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- back to the original question...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- what does this mean for 2016?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this just...
RADDATZ: Nice turn there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- just perfect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) as we face, I actually am -- the course of this last week was such a contrast, I think, from what we were seeing in the presidential campaign and what happened. I know we're going to talk about the pope in the next section.
But what his contrast is, which is, I think, the beginning of the end of Donald Trump in the course of this election. And I think you could put some of it on the Frances effect, which is the contrast between the pope's modesty, humility, compassion and Donald Trump's emphasis on his narcissism, meanness, division. And that contrast, I think, doesn't bode well for him.
RADDATZ: And -- and I want to talk more about Trump, because his lead does appear to be softening. You saw those rather stunning numbers, with Carson neck and neck.
What does it tell you about Trump's campaign?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I spoke at length with Trump this week and I said, Mr. Trump, do you need a second act?
And he said, I will have some policy plans coming out. He was going to roll out a tax plan.
But when it comes to his persona, his brawling swagger, he said it's not going anywhere. The same Trump remains. And that's Trump's biggest asset, in a sense, with the GOP base, but it's also a liability, perhaps, long-term. He's trying to balance both sides of himself, trying to be serious on policy while still being Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But...
RADDATZ: So why is it softening, Bill?
KRISTOL: But look, the big picture, well, because he -- the act is getting a little stale. But the big story obviously is Trump 21, Carson 20, Fiorina 11. Fifty-two percent of the Republican primary voters for someone who's never been in elective office. Unprecedented.
This has never happened in my -- since Eisenhower, who had a pretty good non-elective office career (INAUDIBLE) non-elective office before becoming president. And it does show how unhappy the -- how unhappy people are with the establishment.
Think of this Cantor, Eric Cantor. The majority leader, loses the primary.
KRISTOL: Boehner deposed. Scott Walker, considered to be a frontrunner...
KRISTOL: -- withdraws from the race on Monday.
And I do think the other politicians haven't quite internalized the degree of unhappiness and the degree of desire for real change among voters out there.
RADDATZ: Donna, just quickly?
BRAZILE: Well, I've got to just say this about Donald Trump. You know, James Brown had a famous song, "Talking Loud and Saying Nothing." We've been hearing Donald Trump raise his voice, insult people, and -- and he says nothing, nothing. And that's why I think he's fading.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks, everyone.
More with the roundtable later, including new developments in that FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server.
But coming up, President Obama and Vladimir Putin set to meet face-to-face tomorrow. That meeting is coming at a critical time.
Plus, the pope's whirlwind tour wrapping up. And we're live in Philadelphia.
RADDATZ: Back now with the meeting that the whole world is talking about. For the first time in nearly a year, President Obama and Vladimir Putin are set to meet face-to-face tomorrow. And for each side, there are some critical issues at stake.
RADDATZ: On the agenda at the Putin-Obama meeting, Russia's buildup of troops in Ukraine and Russian aircraft in Syria where Putin is helping to prop up one of America's most hated dictators: Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Putin, speaking through a translator in a new interview with CBS 60 Minutes.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): There's no other solution to the Syrian crisis than strengthening the effective government structures and rendering them help in fighting terrorism.
RADDATZ: Putin looking to get back on the global stage, even calling gay rights activist Elton John to smooth things over after a prank call on Russian television, Putin telling the singer he's ready to meet with him.
But, Putin's biggest impact is in Syria where the Russian military now has dozens of aircraft on the ground, a troubling development for the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As long as Assad is in power, Syria will remain a magnet for terrorism.
RADDATZ: President Obama's own strategy in Syria is coming under fire this week by one of the administration's former top military commanders, General David Petraeus, the former CIA chief suggesting creating safe havens in Syria protected by American and coalition air power where moderate forces could be trained and refugees could find shelter.
Obama already criticized in congress after the administration reveals a $500 million training program to fight ISIS in Syria has yielded only a few fighters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're talking four or five.
RADDATZ: Meanwhile, a landmark visit to the U.S. from Chinese President Xi Jinping. Cyber security was the headline in talks with President Obama who took a tough stance on China's history of electronic espionage. Both leaders vowed to cooperate more on security and climate issues, but a lack of trust remains.
OBAMA: The question now is are words followed by actions?
RADDATZ: And let's dig in to all of this now with the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samanah Power. She joins us from New York.
Thanks Ambassador Power.
SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Great to be here.
RADDATZ: So Putin has seized Crimea. He’s propping up Assad. His fighters jets have been buzzing U.S. and NATO planes and ships. Why is the president meeting with him? Does he think isolating him has failed?
POWER: Well, isolating him has had profound effects, as you know, on Russia’s economy and his own sense of stature on the international stage, which is why I think he’s reaching out in a whole host of ways – that is, President Putin reaching out. A hallmark of President Obama’s foreign policy from the beginning has been to test engagement. And given the stakes -- the human stakes, the strategic stakes of what’s going on in Ukraine and Syria – the president believed it would be irresponsible to let this occasion in which the two leaders would be in the same city pass without trying to test to see whether progress could be made on these newly intractable crises.
RADDATZ: Given what’s happening in Syria, is there any world in which the president would be comfortable with Assad maintaining power?
POWER: Well, the challenge with Assad, in addition to the fact that he gasses his own people and uses barrel bombs and you know, that we haven’t seen a dictator like him in a very long time – put that all to one side. The other challenge is he hasn’t been at all effective fighting ISIL. In fact, the presence of Assad has attracted foreign terrorist fighters. We are targeting them. We are having good success, again, particularly in the northern part of the country actually blunting ISIL’s progress and rolling them back.
RADDATZ: Well, let’s talk about the U.S. effectiveness. One of the key parts of our strategy has been training moderate Syrian rebels. You heard General Austen just say there have only been four or five fighters who are still in the fight. And Central Command admitted Friday that U.S.-backed rebels turned over weapons and trucks to the al-Nusra front and the al Qaeda affiliated group. Not only did we not know about it for a week, they denied this happened.
So what does this say about our vetting of those rebels?
POWER: Well, first of all, let me say that as President Obama, I think, has said really from the very first time the issue of training and equipment came up that this would be very complex. And indeed as you know, he really grappled with this back in 2012 when the issue was first brought to him.
We decided to go forward for a very simple reason, which is that when ISIL is cleared from a town – let’s say a town in the northern part of Syria – it’s extremely important that the town be held and that ISIL not reoccupy it as soon as the air strike or something ceases. And so you really need to have ground forces. We’ve worked extremely effectively with Kurdish forces in the northern part of the country, and Syrian Arab forces are going to need to be a part of the solution because they’re...
RADDATZ: But it doesn’t seem to be working so far. We understand the reasons for doing it...
POWER: Totally fair. Totally fair. It’s obviously even more complex, I think, that we would have envisioned. But I think we can’t lose sight of the fact that this has to be a critical part of our strategy. DoD is looking now at adjustments that will need to be made to the program, clearly. And I think it’s very important as we vet and seek to, of course, strengthen our vetting procedures in order to avoid scenarios like the one that you’ve described.
By the same token, this is a risk management exercise. We also have to grapple with the fact that if we weren’t investing in Syrian-Arab forces and in moderate Syrian opposition forces, we’d be in a world where again, ISIL would be able to have a protracted presence without being displaced over time.
So we need to invest in this, we need to get the vetting right, and I think DoD has in mind some improvements that will enhance our process.
RADDATZ: I want to move to Saudi Arabia. The U.N. has just appointed Saudi Arabia to head a U.N. Human Rights Council panel. Given Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, a hundred beheadings last year, is this really appropriate?
POWER: Well, Martha, this is my daily bread. Unfortunately in the U.N. system, you have all kinds of bodies, often regions put forward countries for particular positions. They're voted by people within their own regions.
In this case, this is a procedural position. It's not going to have bearing on what the U.N. is doing on any particular human rights issue.
But fundamentally, the United Nations is a body of 193 countries. One hundred fifty-four heads of state are descending on New York right now. And we see the heterogeneity, not only in terms of culture and religion and race and geography, but also in terms of whether -- how the countries fare on human rights.
And if leadership…
RADDATZ: But is this something you welcome? The State Department said this week they welcome the Saudi Arabia appointment.
POWER: I think we -- we welcome moves that are going to strengthen human rights. This is not going to have bearing on human rights one way or the other. Again, it's a procedural position that won't put a thumb on the scale one way or the other.
RADDATZ: And finally, Ambassador Power, you've been empowering women as a priority. And you're working right now on a project that's drawing attention to female political prisoners. Tell us about that.
POWER: Here at the United Nations, China is hosting the 20-year anniversary of the Beijing Conference that everybody remembers from Hillary Clinton going there and saying: "Women's rights are human rights. Human rights are women's rights."
For the last three weeks, we've been profiling each day a different woman, whether from China or Vietnam or Iran or -- you name it.
And putting their photographs up in the window of the U.S. mission to the United Nations so that when the leaders walk by here, when they do descend for the General Assembly, they see these individuals and they're reminded again, human rights is not an abstraction, but it's the voices of very real women who have genuine contributions to make to their societies in fighting corruption and, you know, expressing themselves, and calling governments out when they're not performing for citizens.
So we think this is an important way of reminding leaders that they could start if they want to empower women by actually releasing women who want to do nothing more than improve their communities.
RADDATZ: Thanks very much, Ambassador Power, for joining us.
Next, Pope Francis in America, the last leg of his trip happening now. What the record-breaking crowds have been waiting days to hear.
RADDATZ: Back now with more on those high-stakes national security meetings in New York at the U.N. this week. And we're joined by Congressman Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
Good morning, Mr. Chairman. You listened to Ambassador Power's interview. She seemed to agree that the training of Syrian rebels is not working, but seemed to think the anti-ISIS campaign is. Do you agree?
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, the Congress has been very skeptical of the administration's plans and policies that they've been laying out for several years. Reluctantly we approved this training regime -- last training operation last year.
And, you know, we've been trying to have updates. And upon updates, and every time the news is bad. And what's happening here is this is a lot like a Vietnam containment strategy.
And they've had a containment strategy for ISIS and radical jihad within Iraq and Syria. And it's destined to failure. And it's failing on every single measurement that you look at.
RADDATZ: So do you trust the intelligence you're getting there? Because right now an IG investigation into intelligence that Central Command is putting out. Some of the analysts there apparently complaining that Central Command is painting a rosier picture.
This is the military. This isn't a political body. Are you trusting that intelligence?
NUNES: Well, when you look at what has happened over the last few years, and you look at what happens when our members in Congress, we go to these places. We travel there. We meet with analysts on the ground. We meet people within the intelligence community.
And I will tell you it has been a little alarming that what we see on the ground, and then when we -- when you look at the final product and you look at what the president has been saying, and then you look at the policies he has been implementing, it really makes me wonder, is it the analysts that are actually getting the intelligence wrong, or is it being politicized somewhere in the process?
RADDATZ: And what do you think we should do about the Russian build-up of military aircraft in Syria?
NUNES: Well, this is what happens when America doesn't actually put forward a strategic plan to deal with this problem. ISIS, al Qaeda, they are on the move in Syria. And that's what, you know, people aren't talking about.
RADDATZ: So what should…
NUNES: So I think Putin…
RADDATZ: … we do?
NUNES: I think that Putin is -- has now moved in thousands of troops, dozens of airplanes, as you just said. And, you know, the only solution now is going to be is, you know, why aren't we dealing with Putin?
You know, he backed rebels in the Ukraine last year that shot down an airliner that killed 200 people. Assad is a brutal dictator. You know, Putin is not very far off from there.
RADDATZ: Should President Obama be meeting with them?
NUNES: I think, look, it's always good to have dialogue. But you're going to have to, at some point, draw some real red lines in the sand. You know, now the danger is, you ask me what are the solutions?
Look, I don't know what you do now. Putin has said he's moving in troops up in the -- they didn't even do in the Cold War. He has a forward operating base. He's projecting power.
Assad, barring some kind of suicide attack -- suicide bomber attack, Assad, now how are we ever going to get this bad guy out of power? So now you have two bad guys, and don't forget the Iranians are working directly with the Russians and Assad.
RADDATZ: And there are reports this morning that the Iraqis are working with the Iranians, the Russians, and sharing intelligence with Syria? Do you know whether that's correct?
NUNES: Well, look, I think it has long been known that many within the Iraqi government going back to Maliki work closely with the Iranians. This is one of the concerns when we didn't leave any type of capability in Iraq that the Iraqis were going to Iran for help.
RADDATZ: But what about the Syrians? Are they sharing intelligence with the Syrian government?
NUNES: Well, I'm not sure what the Syrians -- what intelligence they would have. But clearly it's in their best interests to work together because they want to go after ISIS and al Qaeda affiliates also.
RADDATZ: And The New York Times is reporting this morning that 250 Americans have tried to get inside Syria to join up with ISIS. That's up from hundreds last year. Are you confident that we can track all 250?
NUNES: No, I'm not. You know, the FBI director came out several months ago and said that he has investigations going on in all 50 states. And this has long been the concern about fighters that go into Iraq and Syria, get trained, and then have a Western passport, and get back either into Europe or into the United States.
RADDATZ: And you believe they could get back in the United States?
NUNES: Absolutely. And I believe they're already getting back into Europe.
RADDATZ: And let's move to cyber-security. President Obama and China's president Xi took steps toward a cyber-security agreement, saying that it includes a promise not to engage in theft of intellectual property.
Is this a good first step? And do you trust him?
NUNES: Well, it's always good to talk, it's always good to put something on paper -- look, we know the Chinese, the Russians, the Iranians, they're committing cyber crimes every single day. It's nation state actors, you know going out and stealing information for economic purposes. So we know that's what they're doing. They're going to continue to do it.
I don't think there's anything other than just words on paper. And I doubt the Chinese are going to stop what they're doing.
RADDATZ: And Mr. Chairman, Boehner, John Boehner, you've been a member of the speaker's very close knit group. What's your reaction to what happens this week?
NUNES: Well, I was a little surprised I think like most of us were, but, you know, but being speaker is a very difficult job. It also makes it very difficult when you have the largest majority in 80 years that the speaker led us to. But at the same time you have one of the most left-wing presidents in President Obama in the White House. It makes it very difficult for things to get done. And so you can understand why you see the left, who has President Obama in the White House, and you have the right who believes that, you know, we have a super majority, or a 247 members in the House, they want to see things get done.
RADDATZ: Will things get done now quickly?
NUNES: Looks, hope springs eternal.
RADDATZ: All right, thank you very much for joining us Mr. Chairman.
Up next, Pope Francis, his final message to America before heading home. After this from our ABC stations.
RADDATZ: This morning, so much anticipation for the pope's final mass before he heads back to the Vatican. There he is right now.
Today's even could be the biggest yet for Pope Francis during his historic six day trip. And ABC's Terry Moran has been with him every step of the way. Good morning, Terry.
TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Martha.
Well, this is the main event for Pope Francis, this world meeting of families. But he's got serious business on his agenda as well. He met today with victims of the sex abuse scandal in the church. He told them he was, quote, overwhelmed by shame, acknowledged that they had been raped -- and he used that word -- by people they trusted. And he also committed to all those responsible accountable.
This comes at the close of a remarkable week here in the city of Brotherly Love.
MORAN: To the theme from Rocky, Francis arrived in Philadelphia. And within minutes of landing in the city of Brotherly Love, the pope sees someone out of the windows, stops the car, walks over to this boy, Michael Keeting (ph), a 10-year-old living with disabilities. A kiss, a papal blessing, his mother overcome.
Then, a fanfare for this common man at Independence Hall, the birthplace of the United States.
At the lectern, Abraham Lincoln used to deliver the Gettysburg Address, Francis spoke to a crowd filled with immigrant families like his.
"You bring many gifts to your new nation," he told them. "You must never be ashamed of your traditions."
As night fell, Francis made his way through the streets thronged with people to a prayer vigil for all the families gathered here, Aretha Franklin sang and the pope energized by the crowd ad libbed some homespun wisdom about family life.
POPE FRANCIS (through translator): Sometimes plates can fly. And children bring headaches. I won't speak about mother-in-laws.
MORAN: This is a week that Americans get a good long look at Pope Francis. And he got a good long look at us. He'll have a press conference on the flight home to Rome tonight, so we'll find out what he though -- Martha.
RADDATZ: Thanks, Terry, safe travels home.
And the roundtable is back with us now.
And I just want to go around to all of you and just what did this visit mean? What does it mean? Will it last?
BRAZILE: I hope it lasts. It's been a trip of joy, of compassion, of inclusion, talking about the dignity of mankind and womankind. He has been a force of love. And thank you Pope Francis for the visit.
RADDATZ: Bill Kristol.
KRISTOL: This was an exciting visit. And I'm not Catholic, so I defer to my friend Matthew Dowd here...
RADDATZ: Well, let's talk about the political implications. Does any of this roll over? Does any of this stay? Does any of this good mood stay? Did either party gain or lose off of this?
KRISTOL: I'm pretty doubtful. You know, we had what would have called conservative popes prior to Pope Francis and it didn't really help social conservatives in the United States much. And I don't know that this pope's liberalism is going to help liberals that much.
DOWD: You know, as a very Irish Catholic, one of 11 kids, I was actually -- we had seven boys and I was supposed to be the priest, but that didn't work out very well.
I took away from this and I'm actually going ot look at my own standard of behavior in what he spoke about. And I'm hopeful that it changes the tone and how we interact with each other, but I was struck, unfortunately, the day after the pope leaves, who has just talked about poverty, has just talked about modesty, has just talked about empowering the homeless, there's a state dinner for a human rights violator who could care less about religious freedom among a bunch of billionaires and millionaires, and the first lady wears a multi-thousand dollar Vera Wang designer gown. And I think that to me is if we're going to change we all have to start changing these individual habits that we have.
RADDATZ: I was to move what Terry reported this morning about the pope meeting with victims of sexual abuse. He's done it before. I don't know that he's used the word rape before, that these victims were raped. Pretty profound.
COSTA: It was a powerful moment, and you see much discussion within the church here in America and worldwide that the church has to address this. And I think one of the reasons Francis ascended and why he's beloved by so many cardinals and leaders in the church is that he wanted to frankly address this. He wanted to clean house in the Vatican. He wanted to bring in a fresh message and a perspective, someone who was candid and a leader. And he showed that here in the United States.
RADDATZ: Well, we'll watch this for the coming weeks to see if there are any great changes on Capitol Hill or elsewhere in America.
And I want to go back to 2016 and Hillary Clinton. Donna, a poll out of New Hampshire this week has Hillary Clinton is down double digits against Bernie Sanders who leads her by 16 percent there. They are tied for being viewed as most likely to win the primary. Is this about Sanders or is it about Clinton?
BRAZILE: It's about both. There's no question that Bernie Sanders has really energized not just the Democratic Party, but I think he's energizing young people. He's bringing in more people into the political process. And it's also been a summer of turbulence for Secretary Clinton who is dealing with what I believe to be a very tough issue.
Republicans like to scandalize just about everything involving the Clintons, but this is one where I think some of the damage was self-inflicted from the beginning. And she now has to find -- regain her altitude by going out there each and every day talking about the issues, but also meeting with people where they live, work, eat and pray.
RADDATZ: Well, this week, of course, the Justice Department announced they discovered more Clinton emails from earlier than they thought. And those emails were apparently between David Petraeus when he was head of Central Command and Hillary Clinton. The campaign says she didn't try to hide her tracks or make them unrecoverable, but it's back in the news.
KRISTOL: I mean, I think about four or five months ago on this show I said that there was one in three chance that Hillary Clinton would not be the Democratic nominee. And after the show, this is with George Stephanopoulous and others, I pointed that out that's one in three, that's awfully high. There's 90 percent chance, nine in 10 chance going go to be the nominee.
I think now the odds -- I think I was right to be skeptical about her. And I think now there's a better than 50/50 chance she's not the nominee.
RADDATZ: I also -- Bill Clinton was back on the scene this week in an interview with CNN. He was talking about the email controversy calling it part of a fullscale frontal assault on here. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, 42nd PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ever since Watergate something like this happens. And so I'd rather it happen now than later. And it was always going to happen. The other party doesn't want to run against her. And if they do, they'd like her as mangled up as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Bob Costa, was that helpful to a woman who is saying, oh I'm so sorry I confused people, I'm so sorry I used this server? And now he's talking about full frontal assaults and Watergate?
COSTA: Well, it enables Secretary Clinton to remain the candidate who is focused on her issues, focused on her race, but President Clinton has always been a partisan fighter, an ally of his wife. And they have been a pair, a powerful one, in American politics going on two plus decades. And I think he's going to only continue to rise as a force in this race.
DOWD: I don't think -- I think what that was, Bill Clinton coming out, is a sign, a sure sign that Hillary Clinton is in trouble. You wouldn't roll out Bill Clinton in the middle of this without her being in trouble.
I think we started this race with her having huge problems with Republicans. Then we went to she has huge problems with independents. Now she's developing problems with the Democratic base of the party, which is why Bernie Sanders is rising, which was why so many people are trying to get Joe Biden in the race.
Fundamentally, that interview with Bill Clinton shows why the American public is upset with Hillary Clinton, which is there seems to be this total lack of accountability. It's like my problems have nothing to do with me, they have to do with the Republicans. They have to do with the media. They have to do with somebody else.
RADDATZ: Donna, we have 20 seconds.
BRAZILE: I still believe at the end of the day she's going to be the nominee. Remember, she had 18 million votes. No other presidential candidate in the history of our contested primary has received that many votes.
She's lost altitude, but she has a lot of attitude.
RADDATZ: Well, we know that. And we'll be looking forward to what comes next. Thanks everyone.
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out World News Tonight. And we'll see you back here next week.
Have a great day.