'This Week' Transcript: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell

Former Secretary of State interviewed on "This Week"

ByABC News
March 8, 2015, 10:41 AM

— -- Below is the rush transcript for "This Week" on March 8, 2015. It may contain errors and will be updated.

ANNOUNCER: Starting right now on ABC's This Week: storm swirling. Hillary Clinton under fire over e-mails. Will the storm pass? Are Democrats getting anxious? What she's saying now.

Hitting the trail, we're on the ground with Jeb Bush in Iowa. Can he win over conservatives?

Ferguson fallout: that scathing report from the Justice Department, allegations of discrimination, racist e-mails. Will the police chief keep his job?

And hailing heroes: the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march in Selma. Former secretary of State Colin Powell is here in an ABC News exclusive.

From ABC news, This Week with George Stephanopoulos begins now.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: Good morning. We have new developments on all this week's big stories. President Obama has spoken out for the first time on those Hillary Clinton e-mails saying he first heard about them on the news.

In Madison, Wisconsin, there are protests after the shooting of an African-American teenager by a white police officer. The teen was unarmed, but court records show he was party to an armed robbery last year and police say he attacked the officer.

An independent investigation will examine the evidence. All this in a week where the Justice Department revealed a pattern of racist practices in Ferguson, Missouri, against the backdrop of that extraordinary ceremony Saturday.

President Obama leading 40,000 people in Selma, Alabama, 50 years after that bloody confrontation on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We gather here to honor the courage of ordinary Americans willing to endure billy clubs, and the chastening rod, tear gas and the trampling hoof; men and women who despite the gush of blood and splintered bone would stay true to their north star and keep marching towards justice.

What they did here will reverberate through the ages, not because the change they want was preordained, not because their victory was complete, but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible, that love and hope can conquer hate.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The president took on critics who say that Ferguson proves America has not made progress on race.


OBAMA: What happened in Ferguson may not be unique, but it's no longer endemic, it's no longer sanctioned by law or by custom, and before the civil rights movement it most surely was.

Of course, a more common mistake is to suggest that Ferguson is an isolated incident, that racism is banished. We don't need a Ferguson report to know that's not true. We just need to open our eyes and our ears and our hearts to know that this nation's racial history still casts its long shadow upon us.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Evidence of that long shadow, the Justice Department report on Ferguson. The mayor of Ferguson is standing by for an exclusive interview after this report from ABC's Pierre Thomas.


CROWD: Don't shoot.


CROWD: Don't shoot.


CROWD: Don't shoot.

PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: In the city that sparked a new national conversation on race, some big questions this morning. Among them, will the entire Ferguson Police Department be dismantled?

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: If that's what's necessary we're prepared to do that.

THOMAS: The attorney general's blunt response came on the heels of a blistering Justice Department report which found a pattern of racial bias in Ferguson policing.

African-Americans make up 67 percent of Ferguson's population but were 93 percent of all arrests and were the targets of 85 percent of traffic stops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been getting harassed so much that we're tired of it.

THOMAS: The report also detailing racist e-mails sent by city employees, one describing the president of the United States as a chimpanzee.

By Friday, three city officials involved were gone, a city court clerk fired and two police officers resigned.

In the fatal shooting of a young black man by a white police officer, this week Eric Holder decided to the to prosecute officer Darren Wilson saying there was not evidence he had violated Michael Brown's civil rights. But he added that the investigation had affirmed some of the concerns of minorities.

HOLDER: Some of those protesters were right.

THOMAS: The president took harsh note, as well.

OBAMA: There was an oppressive and abusive situation.

THOMAS: Mr. Obama said while he believes the overwhelming majority of police are great public servants, he said there are still pockets of discriminatory policing.

OBAMA: And what happened in Ferguson is not a complete aberration. It's not just a one-time thing, it's something that happens.

THOMAS: In the last five years, the Justice Department has opened more than 20 investigations into police departments with prosecutors enforcing 15 agreements, often to correct unconstitutional policing practices. The quest for a more perfect union clearly not over.

For This Week, Pierre Thomas, ABC News, Washington.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are joined now by the mayor of Ferguson, James Knowles. Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining us this morning.

You know, that report so horrifying to so many, shocking in so many ways, and it leads to the question, how could you not know these kinds of practices were going on?

JAMES KNOWLES, MAYOR OF FERGUSON, MISSOURI: Well, I think it's important to recognize that the mayor and the city council in the city of Ferguson are part-time public servants who oversee, you know, we hire a professional staff to oversee and administrate on a daily basis what goes on in the city of Ferguson. And some of these things, these e-mails, absolutely we will not tolerate in this community. They showed some bias that is intolerable and those are things that we acted on immediately, but those are things that as the mayor, as the city council we don't monitor on a daily basis everyone's e-mails. And some of these practices, I think, that have come to light and some of these stories are new to many of us, especially at least the length in which the DOJ states that it occurred.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So now that you know about them, the question is what to do. Attorney General Holder said it might be necessary to dismantle the police department. Are you prepared to do that and to fire the police chief?

KNOWLES: I think what's important right now is that we go through every part of that report, find out where the breakdown was and the patterns and practices and these safeguards that we should have had in place and need to have in place to ensure that we protect the safety and the civil rights of everyone that comes to Ferguson and lives in the city of Ferguson.

You know, very few communities in this country have undergone this level of scrutiny, and the city of Ferguson has after thousands of e-mails have been examined, court documents, arrest records, we know what the issues are and according to the Justice Department with the city of Ferguson.

We're one of the few -- we're the only one in the St. Louis area who has undergone that scrutiny. We know how we can address those issues and we're committed to moving forward to make that happen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, what exactly are you going to do? Will the police chief keep his job? Will you implement the kind of recommendations the Department of Justice called for, increasing officer training, more partnership with the Ferguson community, prohibiting ticketing and arrest quotas?

KNOWLES: Well, some of those things -- you know, absolutely we're going to -- I think we can say immediately we're going to be working on improving training, improving some of the outreach to members of our community, to sections of our community, especially who feel underrepresented who have been underrepresented.

One of the things that we're focused on, which will be the only one and the first one in the St. Louis region, is to implement a civilian review board so that civilians can have input into the policies and procedures of the city of Ferguson Police Department but also review and take in complaints against the city of Ferguson Police Department so that elected officials like myself can hear these complaints, can see them come through and monitor this and the civilians will have an active role in that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Mayor, can you do this with the people you have in place? You talked about the power of the city manager, John Shaw. The report also shows he was pushing police to bring in more revenue and that he ignored reports that the criminal justice system needed to be fixed.

Don't you need wholesale change?

KNOWLES: I think what we've been saying is we've been committed to reform and making those changes. I can tell you that as we move forward, we're going to go through every line of that report. We have been going through and identifying where the breakdown was.

You know, everybody in that report that may be implicated, anybody who's been participating in any sort of discriminatory policing that we can identify in the report we want to hold accountable. That's going to take more than a couple days, but we are absolutely committed to that and that's what we're doing in the city of Ferguson.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Final question, the Brown family has said they're going to sue as well. They're likely to sue. Will you reach a settlement with the Brown family or will you fight it?

KNOWLES: You know, that's something that's being handled by our insurance company, so I really couldn't comment on that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Mr. Mayor, thanks very much for your time this morning.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We are going to turn now to the former Secretary of State General Colin Powell. He joins us now from Washington.

General Powell, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

What an extraordinary week for race relations in this country. We saw that report on Ferguson, of course, we saw that event in Selma yesterday. Your reflections.

COLIN POWELL, FRM. SECRETARY OF STATE: The event in Selma touched me very much because, you know, 50 years ago, I was stationed at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and I was also going back and forth to Birmingham, Alabama, during a very, very difficult time, and what that bloody Sunday event did for the nation was to hold up a mirror in front of all Americans and said, look, this is what's going on in this country. This cannot continue.

As Lyndon Johnson said at one point, you mean to tell me that soldiers coming back from Vietnam do not have the right to vote? This is wrong and has to be changed.

And so I think that Bloody Sunday catalyzed the movement to do something about our voting rights, and later that year, we got the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And I think Selma gave Lyndon Johnson and the Congress the power, the moral power to seek that legislation and to get it passed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What's your take on, you know, one of the most passionate parts of the president's speech yesterday where he did take on those critics who say we're not making progress on race. The president outlined the great progress we've made, but also laying out what more needs to be done.

POWELL: Well, you know, we're always searching for that more perfect union that our founding fathers talked to us about.

We've made enormous progress. If we hadn't made progress, he wouldn't have been standing there, Eric Holder wouldn't have been with him and I wouldn't be here right now.

Things opened up. Law was changed and the barriers to advancement went away.

But we still now have hurdles that we have to get over.

I'm troubled by a number of things about -- with respect to some of the states trying to restrict voting by voter ID laws. Those are hurdles that we can get over.

And what I say to my friends in the African-American community, is whatever those states do, you meet the standards and then you make sure you register. You make sure you vote. You make sure you vote for the people who tried to put these barriers, these hurdles in your way and then you vote them out.

But ultimately, it's going to be the people who change this system and not just politicians or who the next president is. We, the people have the responsibility to make sure that all the people have an opportunity for a full and successful life in this wonderful country of ours.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How shocked were you by that report on Ferguson?

POWELL: I was shocked, but not that surprised, frankly, George. I know these things that existed in other parts of our country. This -- this shouldn't have been that great a surprise to any of us.

But it's not throughout the country. What we have to do now, then, is for all of the police departments, all of the mayors and county and other officials throughout the country, take a look in the mirror. See what you're doing.

Are you really arresting people just so you can get the money needed to run the government?

That's not right.

And are you doing it in a discriminatory manner so that African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and folks in the low income levels of the society are paying the price in order to sustain your government or the police force?

We also have to teach every police force that you have a responsibility to make sure that you are operating in a proper manner, try to use non-lethal means wherever possible.

We also have to tell our young people, when you're stopped by a police officer, stop and listen carefully and do not argue or fight. Let it resolve itself, especially if you've done nothing.

If you have done something, arguing or fighting with a police officer will just add another charge. And I think that's the way we have to make sure that our youngsters understand the situation that they're placing themselves in.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about your own party's experience with race?

You are still a Republican, right?

I know you voted for President Obama.

A couple of years back, you spoke out about the dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the Republican Party on race.

Is that what you still see?

POWELL: I still see it. I still see it in the Republican Party and I still see it in other parts of our country. You don't have to be a Republican -- a Republican to be touched by this dark vein.

America is still going through this transformation from where we were just 50 of 60 years ago.

You have to remember, it was only about 60 or 70 years ago that we stood have -- still had poll taxes, that we still had literacy tests in order to vote, that the voting places were only open two days a month for African-Americans.

So we've come a long way, but there's a long way to go. And we have to change the hearts and minds of Americans. And I see progress, especially in the younger generation. When I speak to young kids, when I look at my own young grandchildren, they're not of that past, they're of the present. They're of the future. They understand the importance of diversity. They understand the beauty of this wonderful country of ours, with all the different shades of people we have in this country.

So we have to deal with this. We have to deal with making sure that everybody can vote and express their opinion, police forces are acting in a proper manner, citizens are acting in a proper manner with respect to the police forces and that governments and cities and states throughout the -- throughout the country are making sure that they are not discriminating against any particular part of their citizenry.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What's your take on the GOP field?

You worked for both President Bushes.

Could you see yourself supporting Jeb this time around?

POWELL: I always vote for the person I think is most qualified to be president of the United States of America. I know Jeb Bush very, very well. I think he's a very accomplished individual and we'll see who else is going to be running and I'll make my judgment based on what I think is best for the country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. So we'll cut back to you on that later on.

But I do want to ask you one final question on this Hillary Clinton e-mail controversy. Which, of course, put you back in the news a bit this week, as well.

You were secretary of State during the early days of e-mails. You were one of the first secretaries, I believe, to set up a personal e-mail account. And you pushed to modernize the State Department's system.

Based on your experience, what do you make of these revelations this week and what would you recommend that she do now?

POWELL: I -- I can't speak to a -- Mrs. Clinton and what she should do now. That would be inappropriate.

What I did when I entered the State Department, I found an antiquated system that had to be modernized and modernized quickly.

So we put in place new systems, bought 44,000 computers and put a new Internet capable computer on every single desk in every embassy, every office in the State Department. And then I connected it with software.

But in order to change the culture, to change the brainware, as I call it, I started using it in order to get everybody to use it, so we could be a 21st century institution and not a 19th century.

But I retained none of those e-mails and we are working with the State Department to see if there's anything else they want to discuss with me about those e-mails.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So they want...

POWELL: (INAUDIBLE) have a stack of them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- they've asked you to turn them over, but you don't have them, is that it?

POWELL: I don't have any -- I don't have any to turn over. I did not keep a cache of them. I did not print them off. I do not have thousands of pages somewhere in my personal files.

And, in fact, a lot of the e-mails that came out of my personal account went into the State Department system. They were addressed to State Department employees and the State.gov domain. But I don't know if the servers the State Department captured those or not.

And most -- they were all unclassified and most of them, I think, are pretty benign, so I'm not terribly concerned even if they were able to recover them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Mr. Secretary, thanks very much for joining us this morning.

POWELL: Thank you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Coming up, we're going to take a closer look at that Clinton e-mail controversy with Jon Karl and our powerhouse roundtable.

Also, Jeb Bush hits the trail in Iowa.

And that big day for ObamaCare at the Supreme Court. We hear from the justices.

And we're back in just two minutes.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those e-mails are clean as a whistle. This is not how Hillary Clinton goes down.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean what did you think my e-mails said?

Hi, it's Hillary, I really screwed up on Benghazi today. Please.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wasn't born yesterday, I was born 67 years ago and I have been planning on being president ever since. There will be no mistakes in my rise to the top, if I decide to run.

Who knows?




STEPHANOPOULOS: A whole week of stories over Hillary Clinton's e-mails capped by that skit on "Saturday Night Live." Now, it's become a pretty familiar pattern, but will this story evaporate, like so many in the past or does it spell real trouble for Clinton's upcoming campaign?

Jon Karl examines those questions in our Closer Look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Say hi, everybody.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Last night, Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea got a rousing welcome at a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. Hillary Clinton didn't say anything about the topic du jour, but President Obama did, telling CBS he was unaware that she conducted official business using personal e-mail.

When did he learn about it?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The same time everybody else learned it, through news reports.

KARL: The president praised Mrs. Clinton as a great secretary of State. But he made it clear he does not handle his e-mail the way she did.

OBAMA: My e-mails, the BlackBerry that I carry around, all those records are available.

KARL: The president said he is glad Mrs. Clinton has now turned over her e-mails, but there's still plenty of Democratic angst, some of it from those closest to President Obama.

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: Why did she use a -- a separate e-mail?

How did she secure that e-mail?

By not answering these questions, they allow -- they're allowing this story to fester in ways that are unhelpful.

KARL: The issue now swirling this morning -- how did Clinton break the rules?

State Department policy during her time as secretary of state required that if state employees use private e-mail for official business, they must turn it over to be entered on government computers. Mrs. Clinton did not do that until nearly two years after she stepped down as secretary and then only e-mails selected by her staff.

And then there are the ghosts of Clinton's past. The new dust-up brings up past controversies involving secrecy and the Clintons. The secret health care task force that worked with her on the failed effort to pass a health care reform bill in the early 1990s. The Rose Law Firm billing records that mysteriously went missing for two years when she was first lady finally turning up in the private residence of the White House.

Here's what Mrs. Clinton said back in those days about more low-tech recordkeeping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a diary, are you keeping good notes of what's happening to you?

HILLARY CLINTON: Heavens no. It would get subpoenaed. I can't write anything down.

KARL: The big political question, what is the impact on campaign 2016? The last time she ran for president, Mrs. Clinton did have something to say about secret e-mails when they belonged to Republicans.

HILLARY CLINTON: We know about the secret wiretaps. We know about the secret military tribunals, the secret White House e-mail accounts.

KARL: But now that it's her secret e-mails, Mrs. Clinton seems to have been caught flat-footed, not a good sign for a soon-to-be presidential campaign.

For This Week, Jonathan Karl, ABC News, Washington.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let's talk about this now with the team from Bloomberg politics, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin; and our dueling strategists, Democrat Donna Brazile and Nicolle Wallace from The View who has worked for both George W. and Jeb Bush.

Welcome to you all. And, Mark, let me begin with you. I think we've seen a version, and Jon Karl hinted at a version of this story this story five or six times over the last 20 years, generally at the beginning the Clintons underreact, they hunker down, their critics and the media overreact. Is it different this time? Will it make any difference?

MARK HALPERIN, BLOOMBERG NEWS: I said a few weeks ago on this showthat I thought she was easily the most likely president of the United States. I now think not only is she because of this as a symptom and a cause, I now think she's not only easily the most likely, I don't think she's any more the most likely.

This is...

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's a big shift.


NICOLLE WALLACE, THE VIEW: Because of her e-mails?

HALPERIN: Because of what this says as a symptom.


HALPERIN: Not as a cause, as a symptom.

BRAZILE: Exhale.

HALPERIN: What she is doing here in terms of lack of response, lack of a sense of what people think of her and combined with what I thought was an extraordinary weak performance at her Emily's List speech the other day, her husband can get through these things because he's a politician of a lifetime. She cannot. If this is the way she's going to run her operation, if this is the mindset she's going to have, I don't think she's going to be president.

BRAZILE: The problem with, of course, recording anything about the Clintons is we overexploit it and then we talk about it until we find something else to talk about. Reporters are looking through the rear view mirror trying to see if that's any way to manage her campaign or run the White House.

We've known for two years that Secretary Clinton used a private e-mail account, that was the norm for cabinet officials and government officials and, yet, you know, we've used this week to talk about how is she going to use this to talk about everything else?

I think she will survive it. I think she will overcome it. I think when she announces, if she announces, this will not be part of the conversation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be, but, Donna, let me bring this question to Nicolle Wallace. I guess that begs the question of why not get ahead of it. If you knew you were responding to the request from the State Department, responding to the request from congressional committees, why not be more public about what you were doing?

WALLACE: I think their calculation is -- and if you want to know what it's like to run for a president as a Republican, watch what Hillary Clinton is going through.

The media hyperventilation over everything the Clintons do reminds me so much of how they treated Bush and Cheney and I said earlier this week and I thought someone's head was going to explode in the media. This is a media problem for her, no doubt. Journalism and journalists view themselves as the safeguard and the guardians of the public interest. They think the public has an interest and so do the Republicans on the Benghazi select committee. But these were e-mails, not encrypted NSA taps. They will eventually come out.

And I think that what's instructive to me is how the media is now writing her off because she didn't turn over her e-mails. We don't know yet if this is a political problem, but it is most certainly a media problem.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, John Heilemann, Hillary Clinton has been hurt with Mark Halperin, how about Democrats? You're not seeing a big uprising among democrats, maybe some anxiety behind the scenes.

JOHN HEILEMANN, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Well, look, we're at the point of the campaign right now where on both sides this is about really the establishment, right? This is not -- voters are hardly engaged on either side, but at this moment it not just this e-mail thing and I'm not quite as pessimistic as Mark is maybe or I've changed my views about her quite as much but this story comes on the back of the stories about foreign donors at the foundation, it comes on the story about other questions about the foundation and business groups that were giving to it.

She's had an extraordinarily bad run. This is a punctuation of some number of weeks of stories that are damaging to her because they go to the whole massive questions that are now going to get asked and looked into.

This story is going to go on for a long time because of the fact that the subpoenas are being issued, because of the fact there's still e-mails she kept on her private server that aren't even the ones she turned over to the State Department.

There are huge questions about all this. And for establishment Democrats I think the answer, George, to answer your question is, I think for establishment Democrats it increases what has been a persistent unease about her from 2008 that still lingers from 2016. That unease to open the door to Barack Obama eight years ago, I don't know if there's anybody waiting in the wings right now, but I know a lot of establishment Democrats who are getting that kind of queasy feeling in their stomach again that they had back in 2007 and 2008.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Martin O'Malley stepping up his activity this week although not speaking on this issue, but this does gets to the question, Mark Halperin, what does Secretary Clinton do about it? Does it speed up her plans to get in? Does she change her operation? Does she turn over all the e-mails to the National Archives?

HALPERIN: If I may quickly respond to two things Nicolle says. The press does have an obligation here. This is not just a political story. What she did, withholding documents that therefore were not available for subpoenas or for FOIA requests is regardless of party, that is not...

WALLACE: And I don't disagree with that. But we're talking about political consequences. I think it's far more devastating...

HALPERIN: We're also talking about what's right and how government is supposed to function.

WALLACE: I think it's far more devastating for her to say to Diane Sawyer I was flat broke. I think all the voters understand that someone who rides around in a limo for two decades is not flat broke.

I think she has real political problems, I'm sure that making the media mad is...

HALPERIN: I'll just say, she's still -- any Democrat who is nominated is going to have huge advantages. She's still an extraordinarily strong figure. She'll raise a lot of money, et cetera.

I don't know what she's going to do. Our reporting this week from our colleague Jennifer Epstein was they think her saying basically it's up to the State Department now that cannot address it. I think she must...

BRAZILE: She expects those e-mails to be released. She expects every last one of those...


BRAZILE: Look, her personal -- what she needs to do...

HEILEMANN: We don't know.


You say speak publicly. Donna Brazile, what should she do?

BRAZILE: First of all, she should start talking about the economy and start talking about, you know, all of the important issues facing the country. She needs to get out here and run a campaign if she's going to run, and she should not worry about what the 300 e-mails that the House Benghazi committee is looking at.

Look, she is a strong candidate. And let me just tell you, there's nobody in the Democratic Party that I talk to -- and we just had a big Democratic party meeting -- we heard from governors, we've heard from others, nobody is drinking Pepto-Bismol right now.

People feel pretty confident that if she decides to run, she's going to be a strong contender and these e-mails aside, she has an answer on the economy and jobs and what the American really care about.

WALLACE: She has to answer the Republicans on Benghazi, though. Those emails are going to come out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That will come up.

OK, quick break now. Coming up next, Jeb Bush on the trail, his first trip to Iowa. We're right there, too. Can he make the sale to conservatives.


RADDATZ: I'm Martha Raddatz. I'm in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. We'll have a report from here, and also an interview with Iraq's prime minister.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Jeb Bush in Iowa yesterday, his first trip to the key caucus state since he started hinting about 2016.

It was an agriculture forum for GOP contenders.

And ABC's David Wright was there.


DAVID WRIGHT, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's no stranger to Iowa.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You decided to be in Iowa?

BUSH: I am. I am.


BUSH: I'm delighted to be here.

WRIGHT: But before he was the candidate's son or the candidate's brother. This weekend, for the first time, Jeb Bush was in Iowa as his own man.

BUSH: A lot of people know me as George's boy or Barbara's boy or -- or W's brother, all of which I'm very proud of.

WRIGHT: His challenge now, convincing the voters he's a step forward, not a step back.

BUSH: I want to win. I want our party to win. I want conservatives to win.

WRIGHT (on camera): Is the Bush name an asset or a liability in Iowa?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, from the standpoint of if you're known better than somebody else and the name is recognizable, it's very much an advantage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not like he has to go and introduce himself or spell his last name.

WRIGHT (voice-over): But that last name also comes with some baggage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven out of the nine people on his foreign policy team were people that advised his brother to invade Iraq.

WRIGHT: At the Iowa Ag Summit, people listened politely as Bush outlined views on immigration that may be a bit too moderate for this crowd. His only applause line was on the subject of BBQ. BUSH: We'll be cooking Iowa beef and...


WRIGHT: But at his first meet and greet with actually voters at a Pizza Ranch, he showed he can connect.

BUSH: Yes, ma'am.

WRIGHT: A beauty queen in a tiara asked about Alzheimer's Disease.

BUSH: How many people here have a family member that has dementia or Alzheimer's?

WRIGHT: Bush handled it like an old pro.

(on camera): And your father ran on a kinder, gentler America. Your brother ran on compassionate conservatism.

How would you sum up your message in a few words?

BUSH: When I get to that I'll -- I'll let you know.

WRIGHT (voice-over): Even in Iowa, it's early days. But Jeb Bush is off to a start.

For THIS WEEK, David Wright, ABC News, Cedar Rapids.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks, David, for that.

We're back with the roundtable right now.

Nicole Wallace, I want to start with you.

Of course, you worked for Jeb Bush in the past.

You saw David Wright gave him pretty good reviews. Mark Halperin gave him good reviews yesterday, as well.

It was probably his most confident campaign performance yet. But he is facing a real uphill fight in Iowa.

WALLACE: Yes, choosing -- I mean David Wright made -- made the exact point about what Jeb accomplished yesterday. He proved to everybody that he can connect. And I worked for him. I went to countless events with him and he is always real in the room, always. There is nothing -- no manufactured emotion, there are no talking points. He writes his own talking points.

So I think that Iowa is a great place. Is the Iowa gets a bad rap for having this conservative litmus test. That's part of it.

But they're also the most sophisticated political analysts in the Republican Party. They want someone who could win.

So you saw Jeb speaking right to that, saying I can win, I want my party to win, I want conservatives to win.

HEILEMANN: I spoke with him a few days earlier in -- at his first meeting with voters in -- just outside Las Vegas a few days before this Iowa thing. And I was really struck. I think he's been very unimpressive giving speeches, not good off the prompter, not good off prepared text.

But in that room where he was just taking -- speaking off -- off the campaign trail and then taking a lot of questions from voters, he was loose and he was funny. He made -- he took a few shots at the Clintons all the way.


HEILEMANN: But it was very -- it was -- it was very -- it felt like a -- as if he had not been off the campaign trail for as long as he'd been off the campaign trail...


HEILEMANN: Very impressive to me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Donna, if he -- if he can put off this balancing act, holding to his positions on issues like immigration and more to the center of the party, but still getting the nomination, that poses a significant challenge to Hillary or whichever Democrat gets the nomination.

BRAZILE: Well, we all know how Republicans run. They run to the right in the primary and then in the general election, they pivot back to the center.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But he's not really doing that.

HALPERIN: He's not doing that yet.

BRAZILE: And the one thing that -- well, can I finish a little journalist (INAUDIBLE)?

But there's no question that Jeb Bush knows how to connect with voters. He's a conservative. He's not a -- he's not a moderate. He's a conservative.

And what I -- I guess I was impressed is that he stood up to those in the room who said, well, we want subsidies to continue to ethanol. He said, no, we have to take a look at it. Let it be market-driven.

He's still faces a lot of obstacles because I think what the conservatives are hungry for this session or this season is somebody who's a true tried conservative that can win in the general election and Jeb Bush might not be that...


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- that's going to be (INAUDIBLE) an interesting poll, Mark Halperin, who is going to prevail, the Republicans who want a winner or the Republicans who want purity?

HALPERIN: Jeb Bush was an extraordinarily conservative governor of Florida. And there are a few issues on which he's out of step with some of the party. But I think people continue to overstate the extent to which common core and immigration would stop him from winning. And electability is going to be a huge issue. But so is fundraising, so is hiring staff and so is authenticity.

The reason why so many of the Clinton people are worried about Jeb Bush is his public authenticity does not make a good match-up for her.

Privately, she's a very authentic and -- and accomplished person. But their public personas, their public performance couldn't prevent -- provide a worse contrast for her.


WALLACE: And he turned over all of his e-mails. They're on a server. You can read them...




BRAZILE: It took seven years and not all of his e-mails. He still has a lot of them outstanding.

And by the way, I'm not even -- I'm not even interested in reading anybody's e-mails. I don't want to...


STEPHANOPOULOS: We only have a couple of -- a couple of seconds left before we have to take a break.

But did Jeb Bush reestablish himself as the frontrunner this week?

Scott Walker had been making some real headway.

HEILEMANN: I think they're both -- I think they're both in the top tier. And I think the thing that I noticed is that I think Mark is totally right about common core and immigration as being overstated. I think you guys remember the way Bill Clinton was at odds with much of the Democratic orthodoxy in 1992 and ran to the center of them and so was able to win.

The bigger problem in the Republican Party for Jeb Bush is that he is Jeb Bush and the name -- and not just the way liberals don't like him because he's a Bush, but the fact that there are a lot of Republicans who think I don't want to sacrifice the argument of having a candidate of the future. If Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee, we need someone younger who looks like the future, who's not tied to all that Bush value.

You're hearing that among a lot of Republicans who want to look at a Scott Walker or a Marco Rubio or someone else who could just have a clean break with the past.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That is a great point.

We've got to take another quick break.

Before we go, let's take a look at our Powerhouse Puzzler.

It was inspired this week by Senator Barbara Mikulski, the Maryland Democrat, also the longest serving woman in Congress. She announced her retirement this week.

So who will become the longest serving woman in Congress when Mikulski leaves at the end of this term?


STEPHANOPOULOS: Oh, my goodness, who will become the longest serving woman in Congress when Senator Mikulski leaves office?

Donna, always trust your first instinct.

You wrote down Marcy Kaptur from Ohio.

BRAZILE: Yes, sir.

WALLACE: Give it to her! Give it to her!

STEPHANOPOULOS: Then you crossed it out...


WALLACE: Give it to her!


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- all crossed it out...


BRAZILE: Then I thought of Louise Slaughter.

WALLACE: Transparency. No idea.


STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll see if she gets reelected.

We'll be right back.



STEPHANOPOULOS: You see those demonstrations outside the Supreme Court this week, inside a lively and intense oral argument. The Justices sparring with lawyers over the fate of Obamacare. No cameras in the courtroom, but the tape-recorders were rolling and ABC Supreme Court expert Terry Moran has this report on what the questions and answers reveal.


TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It was deja vu all over again this week at the Supreme Court.

ELENA KAGAN, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: That's not what you said previously when you were here last time in this never-ending saga.


MORAN: This challenge to the president's sweeping health care law, which survived an attempt to kill it in the Supreme Court in 2012, boils down to four words, "established by the state."

That's how the law says people should get Obamacare subsidies to pay for insurance if they need the help on insurance exchanges established by the state.

But only 16 states have established those exchanges so the federal government stepped in to pay the subsidies and that, opponents say, that is against the law.

The liberals on the court rushed to the law's defense. Look at the overall structure of it, they argued, not these four little words in an obscure section.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: You're talking about congresshiding, borrowing the phrase of one of my colleagues, a huge thing in a mousetrap. OK?

MORAN: Conservatives rejected that argument and they rejected the notion that 6 million plus Americans who could lose insurance if the court strikes down the law would face disaster.

ANTONIN SCALIA, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: What about congress? You really think congress is just going to sit there while all of these disastrous consequences ensue?

MORAN: The key moment, though, may have been when Justice Kennedy, the court's crucial vote in so many cases, raised sharp concerns about states' rights with the anti-Obamacare arguments.

ANTHONY KENNEDY, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: There's a serious constitutional problem if we adopt your argument. The states are being told eithercreate your own exchange or we'll send your insurance market into a death spiral.

MORAN: So have conservatives found Obamacare's Achilles Heel in four words or will the Supreme Court once again step in and save the law and save so much of President Obama's legacy?

For This Week, Terry Moran, ABC News, London.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let's talk about it with two experts. Joan Biskupic covers the Supreme Court for Reuters, covered the court for a long time, also Michael Cannon from the Cato Institute who filed a brief in this case challenging Obamacare.

And Mr. Cannon, let me begin with you. When you heard those questions from Justice Kennedy, were you worried?

MICHAEL CANNON, CATO INSTITUTE: Well, no, and this isn't a challenge to Obamacare. What happened here is the political appointees of the Treasury Department read the law, they didn't read it before it passed. They read it. They found out that it doesn't work and they pressured the IRS to expand its own power under the law, and they're now taxing 57 million Americans illegally in contravention of the explicit limits on the IRS' powers under this statute. And that's what this case is about.

The plaintiffs in this case are representing 57 million Americans who are being subjected to illegal taxes. So when Justice Kennedy said that, he actually wasn't making a point in the government's favor. He was making a point that he had said a couple of times that the statute may well favor the plaintiffs' interpretation. He was saying that then if that clear language is coercive of the states, then that could be a problem.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring this to Joan Biskupic. It was pretty clear where the four liberals on the court stood during this argument. Also where Justices Scalia and Alito and Thomas, so it all comes down to Kennedy. And the man who didn't say much at all during this question Chief Justice Roberts.

What do you make of that sphinx-like behavior?

JOAN BISKUPIC, REUTERS: Well, I think he knew he was being watched because he cast the decisive vote last time and the little he said could have been read slightly more to the government side than not, but as I said, slightly.

But I do think Michael Cannon underestimates a little bit the power of Justice Kennedy's question here. I think that this time around he could, indeed, be the swing vote person.

Now, again, as we all know, we have several months before we see a ruling, a lot could go on behind the scenes, votes could shift. But Justice Kennedy's concern for this law being coercive on the states, if the court rules for the challengers I thought was significant and, frankly, I think a lot of insurers thought it was significant, and the markets rose on insurance stocks at that question, so I think that there might be some there there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Michael Cannon, which justice do you think is most likely to join those on your side of either Kennedy or Roberts?

CANNON: Well, both -- Roberts said less, Kennedy made a lot of noises that favored the plaintiffs, and I think that one of them was his concern about coercion.

I think there are really four numbers to keep in mind when we're talking about this coercion question, 2, 8, 8 and 2. Two is the number of benefits thatstates would get under the plaintiffs' interpretation of the law if they choose not to establish an exchange. They would be totally exempted from the employer mandate and their residence would largely be exempted from the individual mandate.

Eight is the number of states that had already enacted this supposedly conservative -- this supposedly coercive penalty before -- on their own insurancemarkets before the ACA was passed, eight is also the number of states that said to the Supreme Court, we prefer this coercive penalty to the cost of compliance, and two finally is the number of states that have sued because they prefer in similar challenges because they prefer this supposedly coercive penalty to the cost of compliance.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Joan Biskupic, how important is it -- you know, we heard the phrase death spiral a lot. How much do you think that the justices will actually take the consequence to their decision on the ground into account?

BISKUPIC: Well, i have to say, George, that they're going to look at precedent, they're going to look at the statute itself. But both sides, both the conservatives and liberals, referred to the consequences. You showed that nice clip of even Justice Scalia talking about potential consequences, potential dire consequences and certainly Justice Kennedy thought that way and Justice Alito, also a conservative, said if the consequences are going to be so sharp, maybe we should actually postpone the effects of a decision that would go against the government. That's if the decision goes against the government.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of tea leaves to sort through. Thank you both very much.

Let's bring us back to the roundtable right now. And, Mark Halperin, let me begin with you. This may be a case for the challengers, at least those Republicans in congress and those running for president of, be careful what you wish for because of the consequences of what happens if the Supreme Court actually does strike down this subsidy scheme.

HALPERIN: There are ways to fix it if the Supreme Court does strike itdown, but they involve bipartisan cooperation between the president and congressional leaders, and that hasn't been very easy to come by.

You know, it will be a bit of a game of chicken. I think Republicans will say to the president if it's struck down we'll negotiate with you but we want a lot. We want a lot in return ion terms of changing the way the Affordable CareAct works.

The president may decide to take the chaos and blame it on the Republicans.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Donna, the White House has been very clear and the Secretary of Health and Human Services Silva Burwell, that there is no backup plan, there is no plan b. Is that really tenable?

BRAZILE: I think so, George. I mean, 8 million Americans will be impacted by this court decision. Already on the House side, Chairman Paul Ryan, he's trying to get the Republicans to focus, focus, focus. The problem is the Republicans might not even come up with a plan b that the White House can even start looking at.

And for now it's going to throw a lot of chaos into the process if they...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Does this put more pressure on Republican candidates for president to come up with affirmative plans on what to do about health care?

WALLACE: Well, it's an opportunity. I think it'll set apart people like Scott Walker and Jeb Bush, who are governors, who have governed in their state, from people that, you know, I think come into the race with a more political posture, but I think that the chaos -- this is not one to blame on the Republicans, the chaos was born out of the extremely partisan nature with which the bill was crafted and the extremely partisan nature with which it was rammed through congress.

So I think that any chaos that ensues is squarely the blame lays squarely with the White House.

HEILEMANN: Republicans, however, have been the primary critics of Obamacare. If the court overturns it, it will be incumbent on Republicans to offer a real alternative, that is something they have talked about doing for years and they can't even come up with let alone coming up with an alternative that both sides can agree on, they can't even come up with an alternative they agree on within the party.

WALLACE: It's an opportunity. And I think Paul Ryan has spent a lot of time thinking about this. He spent years thinking about this. And I think Republicans will come together, the Republicans interested in governing.

HEILEMANN: It's not going to mater anyway. Because the courts are going to rule 6-3 and uphold it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I was just going to ask you. I don't know if it'll be 6-3, I think the court is going to uphold it as well.


HALPERIN: Don't know.

I think they'll uphold it. They'll say the IRS rules -- the IRS interpretation...

STEPHANOPOULOS: And they could change under the next president.

That's Roberts...

WALLACE: I want my question mark back. I don't know what the Supreme Court is going to do and neither do they.

STEPHANOPOULOS: None of us do. And we can all be misled by the questions and answers. We should say that, as well.

Before we go, a final word to say -- an extraordinary week as we talked about at the the top of the program on the whole issue of race relations in the country. We saw that report on Ferguson, Donna Brazile. We saw the president's -- one of the most passionate speeches he's given in years yesterday in Selma.

BRAZILE: Yes, yes. George, I read that report. I read both reports. It was a snow day so I had nothing else to do but to read. And let me just tell you, the first report exonerating Darren Wilson, I mean, look, I understand that police officers are not held accountable in these circumstances, but when you read the other...

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's more than that, Donna, the report laid out in great detail what happened on the ground there.

BRAZILE: George, it did. And I disagree with that report in large measures, but I understand. I mean understood -- I read it and I respect the Justice Department decision, but when you read the 108-page report, especially the details where not just the e-mails, the e-mails that said just nasty, bitter racist thingsbut the report that said that local officials were pressured to raise revenue. Police officers who are supposed to protect and uphold the law are being pressured to collect revenues from poor people criminalizing poverty. The report is awfully -- tells us we have a long way to go.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That was so shocking, Nicolle Wallace, when you really do read in the words of the report that this is a collection agency from African-Americans treating them more like customers who they needed money from rather than citizens.

WALLACE: I was more shocked by Eric Holder's own words when he questioned how such an alternative version of events to hands up, don't shoot could take hold and he warned us. He said we should take time trying to understand how that can happen. And I reread your transcript of your remarkable interview with Darren Wilson yesterday and the fact that the Justice Department now stands behind the version that he recounted I think only to you is -- justifies as much attention as what is inexcusable behavior from the police department.

HEILEMANN: But I think Eric Holder, the point of what he was saying there, is that part of the reason why an alternative narrative could take hold was because of the context of it in which this is a racist police department. That's the inescapable conclusion of what you read there.

And as bad as it is, it's not unique, it's not just in Ferguson. There is -- what we have learned in the last year, and if anybody didn't know this already, they were out to lunch, but there really are two systems of justice in America right now for black Americans, for white Americans and Ferguson may be the worst but it's true in New York City, it's true everywhere in the country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is going to have to be the last word. Thank you all very much. Great talk today.

Up next Martha Raddatz's exclusive interview with the Iraqi prime minister. Does he want more American troops? His answer ahead.


STEPHANOPOULOS: There are Iraqi forces this morning continuing their march toward Tikrit trying to take back Saddam Hussein's hometown from ISIS. It is part of a massive offensive. Joint Chiefs Chair Martin Dempsey heading to Iraq to consult with the Iraqi prime minister this week and ahead of that strategy session, the prime minister sat down with Martha Raddatz for this exclusive interview.


RADDATZ: Now tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers and Shiite militia are fighting to oust the ISIS extremists who took over Tikrit nine months ago.

HAIDER AL-ABADI, PRIME MINISTER OF IRAQ: This is a very, very dangerous organization if they are allowed to continue, if they are not stopped on time, I can assure you no army in the region can stand in their own way.

RADDATZ: For Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi it's a critical test of his country's military power.

ABADI: We have to stop them for our own sake, and I think the world has to stop them for their own sake.

RADDATZ: We spoke to al-Abadi in a former palace of dictator Saddam Hussein. Abadi took office six months ago as ISIS solidified its hold on a third of his country from Mosul in the north to across al Anbar Province in the west, coming within 20 miles of the capital Baghdad.

Do you have a sense of what it's like in those areas?

ABADI: I think it's undescribable and that's why we're very eager to liberate these areas as soon as possible.

RADDATZ: One key part of that strategy is reclaiming Tikrit.

ABADI: The only way to take back the city is not by bombardment, by having troops on the ground take back the city.

RADDATZ: Do you wish you had American ground troops, ground combat troops to help?

ABADI: It doesn't help whether I wish it or not, I don't think that's going to happen. This administration understands the U.S. public are not eager or they don't want to send their own sons and troops outside U.S.

RADDATZ: Without American combat forces on the ground, Iran has stepped in to fill the void. Nearly two-thirds of those fighting for Iraq are Iranian-backed Shiite militias.

Tell me how much Iran has been involved.

ABADI: Well, Iran is a neighbor. I think we have the longest borders with Iran and Iran feels itself under threat.

So I think they're helping in a lot of ways, many advisers.

RADDATZ: One of those a revered commander of the Iranian Quds force and staunch American adversary. During the Iraq war he oversaw militias responsible for hundreds of American deaths.

Is one of those General Suleimani, who is head of the Quds force?

ABADI: Well, he comes and go. He is not residing here. He just comes and visits and then goes.

RADDATZ: American officials, while optimistic about the Tikrit offensive, are worried fearing ISIS fighters will hide within the city, armed with suicide vests and booby traps.

Another key part in liberating the country of ISIS, clearing out Anbar. We traveled to the front lines in al Anbar Province west of Baghdad to see for ourselves how close the battle is being waged.

I'm standing right on the front line. These are Iraqi security forces on this side and on the other side of that berm, ISIS.

And up on that berm, an Iraqi sniper.

Can you spot ISIS from your scope?


RADDATZ: The defense minister tells me that his troops are ready for battle, their morale is high.

for the prime minister, what the iraqis need are tactical victories, al Anbar, Tikrit. if they can be successful, it will pave the way for a move on Mosul, the heart of ISIS-controlled territory or DAESH, as he refers to the Jihadist group.

ABADI: Once we kick DAESH out, I'm talking about killing DAESH actually, we will have killed their own ambition.

RADDATZ: The retaking of Mosul, you've said you need to take time, you need to have your forces trained.

ABADI: Our timetable is not only time linked, it's factually -- facts on the ground. We have to achieve certain things on the ground.

RADDATZ: The supply routes.

ABADI: Supply route number one. Air cover, number two. Preparation of our own armed forces, number three.

RADDATZ: The prime minister insisting they will do this on their own timetable, possibly earlier than summer.

ABADI: I know some are surprised and unhappy in Washington because they haven't taken a full control over these operations but I think everybody must respect Iraqi sovereignty and we want to do it on our own and we have to take charge of what we are doing because it's Iraqi lives which have been sacrificed.

RADDATZ: Along with many American lives before them.

For This Week, Martha Raddatz, ABC News, Baghdad.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Martha for that. And we're going to be right back after this from our ABC stations.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And we end with good news for the 12th straight week there were no reports from the Pentagon of service members killed in Afghanistan.

That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.

Check out World News Tonight, and I'll see you tomorrow on GMA.

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