May 12, 2013— -- A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday morning, May 12, 2013 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA RADDATZ, HOST: Good morning. Welcome to This Week. The fallout.
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HICKS: I've got the Ambassador on the other line. He said, "Greg, we're under attack!"
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RADDATZ: New hearings, and new revelations on Benghazi. Is it a political cover-up?
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BOEHNER: The White House has done everything possible to block access.
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RADDATZ: Or politics as usual?
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CARNEY: Republicans have chosen to politicize this.
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RADDATZ: Will it hurt the president, or Hillary Clinton? Well ask our headliners, Senators John McCain and Jack Reed. Plus...
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OBAMA: I don't make decisions based on perceived.
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RADDATZ: Obama's red line on Syria.
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CHRISTIE: This is a hell of a lot more important to me, than running for president.
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RADDATZ: Chris Christie's surprise. And on this Mother's Day, top moms in Congress in our Sunday Spotlight.
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(UNKNOWN FEMALE): We have a woman's bathroom right off of the floor.
(UNKNOWN FEMALE2): First time...
(UNKNOWN FEMALE): First time in 200 years.
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ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Reporting from the Newseum in Washington, Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ: Hello again. George is off today, great to have you with us. The political storm over Benghazi is brewing anew this morning. The Obama administration on the defensive, after ABC News obtained emails showing extensive edits to the disputed talking points issued after the attack. When one version suggested al-Qaeda affiliates took part, and the CIA warned of threats, Secretary Clinton's spokesperson objected writing, that could be abused by members of Congress to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that?
Friday my colleague, Chief White House Correspondent Jon Karl, who exclusively obtained the emails, questioned White House Spokesperson Jay Carney.
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KARL: The original version included references to al-Qaeda. Those were taken out after the CIA wrote its official draft?
CARNEY: And then the CIA wrote another draft...
KARL: Based on input from the State Department.
CARNEY: ...well, but here -- here's what I've been saying...
KARL: Do you deny that?
CARNEY: No, Jon. There was an interagency process, which is always the case. Because a lot of agencies have stakes. The whole effort here by Republicans to find some hidden mystery, comes to nothing. Because the president called it an act of terror.
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RADDATZ: Joining us now, Republican Senator John McCain. Nice to have you here, Senator McCain. What do you make of the White House response?
MCCAIN: Could I just pick up on what you just showed Mr. Carney say? The president didn't call it an act of terror. In fact, two weeks later before the U.N. he was talking about hateful videos and spontaneous demonstrations.
RADDATZ: I think the White House would probably say, there was the remark that it was a terror attack...
MCCAIN: No, what he said...
RADDATZ: ...rather indirect.
MCCAIN: ...what he did say the day after is that he condemned acts of terrorism. But then that night within -- I think it was a 60 Minutes, I'm not sure -- interview and then throughout the next two weeks he kept saying that it was caused by a spontaneous demonstration, sparked by a hateful video. He kept saying that over, and over again, and condemning that. Now, Martha you've got to look at this in the context of the times there.
They're in the midst of a presidential campaign. The narrative by the Obama campaign is that Bin Laden is dead, the -- al-Qaeda is on the run, not to worry about anything. And here comes this attack on Benghazi. And there are so many questions that are unanswered. We need a select committee. But for the president's spokesman to say, well there was only words, or technical changes made in those emails, is a flat out untruth.
I like Mr. Carney, but that -- that's just not acceptable for the president's spokesman to say that to the American people when we now know any reference to active terror, any reference to al-Qaeda were removed from those talking points, and it was done at a deputy's meeting just before Susan Rice went on television.
RADDATZ: Would you call this a cover-up?
MCCAIN: I'd call it a cover-up. I -- I would call it a cover-up in the extent that there was willful removal of information, which was obvious. It was obvious. Mr. Hicks said in his testimony, his jaw dropped when he saw Susan Rice do that -- I was on -- I was on another Sunday morning show after Susan Rice, my jaw dropped. I said, look people don't bring rocket-propelled grenades and mortars to spontaneous demonstrations.
RADDATZ: Let -- let -- let's talk about what's happened with Republicans this week though, because of these emails. First of all, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who I spoke to, who did the original review said, the idea of some sort of cover-up is absurd. Congressman Steven King, Republican from Iowa, said it was bigger than Watergate. And this is what Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe said...
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INHOFE: We may be starting to use the "I" word before too long.
HUMPHREIES: The "I" word, meaning impeachment?
INHOFE: Yeah. Of all of the great cover-ups in history, we're talking about the Pentagon Papers, the -- the Iran Contra, Watergate, and all the rest of them. This is going to go down as the most serious, most egregious cover-up in American history.
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MCCAIN: I -- with all due respect...
RADDATZ: Do you agree with that?
MCCAIN: ...with all due -- due respect, I -- I -- I think this is a serious issue. I will even give the president the benefit of the doubt on some of these things. We need a select committee. We need a select committee that will...
RADDATZ: Do you blame Hillary Clinton?
MCCAIN: ...I think that the secretary of State has played a role in this, and I...
RADDATZ: Do you think she had a role in those emails?
MCCAIN: ...I -- she had to have been in the loop some way. But, we don't know for sure. But I do know that her response before the Foreign Relations Committee, who cares? Remember when she said, well who cares how this happened, in a rather emotional way? A lot of people care, I say with respect to the secretary of State. And she...
RADDATZ: So would you like to see her back on The Hill testifying again?
MCCAIN: Oh, sure. We -- we need a select committee that interviews everybody. I don't know what level of -- of "scandal", quote, unquote, this rises to. But I know it rises to the level where it requires a full and complete ventilation of these facts. Now here we are nine months later, and we're still uncovering information, which frankly contradicts the original line that the administration took. And so, we need the select committee, and I hope we'll get it. And the American people deserve it, and...
RADDATZ: Just -- just quickly I want to...
RADDATZ: ...I want to go back to the testimony of Gregory Hicks. And he talked about bringing military assets in. Bringing planes in. The military says that wasn't possible. Do you agree with the fact that it wasn't possible?
MCCAIN: I cannot find -- I find it impossible to comprehend why on September 11, the day we all know is so important, when there have been numerous warnings about the security at that consulate, that we didn't have forces that were capable of doing so. And over a seven and a half our period with all the assets we have in the region, we couldn't have an F-16 at low altitude, fly over those people who were attacking our consulate? Another question is, why weren't there forces capable of going to defend that consulate?
RADDATZ: I -- I want to move on to Syria. It's been more than a week since Israeli jets hit targets in Syria. More than two weeks since the U.S. said that there was evidence of the use of chemical weapons. What should be happening now concerning, especially these chemical weapons, and the red line that the president talked about?
MCCAIN: Well, the president said he wants a U.N. investigation. The only problem with that is the U.N. can't get into -- into Syria.
RADDATZ: And we read this morning that Assad's forces are making incredible gains. You...
MCCAIN: Incredible gains?
RADDATZ: ...you talked about...
RADDATZ: ...a no-fly zone, striking targets. What good does that do?
MCCAIN: Well first of all, engage their air assets. In that kind of terrain, and that kind of weather, air is a -- is a decisive factor in this kind of conflict, and...
RADDATZ: A -- a decisive factor in doing what? What's -- what's...
MCCAIN: Well, we take out the air. We establish a no-fly -- no boots on the ground, no American boots on the ground...
RADDATZ: That's still a lot of risk taking out that air. In fact -- in fact the Russians have said they would move in...
MCCAIN: Well, if they move in...
RADDATZ: ...anti-aircraft, very...
MCCAIN: ...if they move in...
MCCAIN: ...if they move that in, it's going to make it more complicated, and certainly maybe gives us a little bit of skepticism about a conference. But, we can provide them with a safe zone. We can provide them a place to organize inside Syria. We can give them the heavy weapons that they need...
RADDATZ: Who's -- who's them? Who's them?
MCCAIN: ...well I -- I know them. I have met them. They're there. They...
RADDATZ: But how do you keep out good rebels, and bad rebels?
RADDATZ: You've got al-Qaeda rebels, running around...
MCCAIN: Thank you. Martha, these are legitimate questions you're asking. But they are there. And you put them inside Syria, they then have a Benghazi. Then they have a place to organize, to -- to identify the right people. These Jihadists aren't -- there aren't that many of them, they're just so good. Because they've been fighting all over the Middle East for all these years, and they're not afraid to die. But we could still organize a legitimate and non-Jihadist group that are already there.
They've got a great general. They've got a fine man who is in charge of the Syrian -- Syrian National Council. Look, we can...
RADDATZ: Everybody I talk to said they just can't possibly vet all of...
MCCAIN: They -- they said they couldn't penetrate without great costs, Syrian air defenses. I -- didn't the Israelis just kind of blow a hole a mile wide in that?
RADDATZ: I'm not -- I'm not sure they went into Syria. Are you sure they went into Syria?
MCCAIN: I'm sure they -- I'm sure they took out assets of -- of Assad's in Syria, which is exactly what we could do with Cruise Missiles, and with Patriot Missiles. So, that obviously blows a hole a mile wide in our Joint Chiefs of Staff, who prove again, if you don't want to do something, they can find reasons not to do it. But look, we either -- you've got two choices. Either let this continue. As you just mentioned, Hezbollah is now all in, and the initiative is now on the side of Bashar al-Assad.
You can do that, or you can go in, and you can give them a safe zone. And you can give them the -- the weapons that they need and the help they need and stop this unconscionable slaughter. And the president by saying red line -- he gave a green light to all of this massacres. And it's a shameful chapter in American history.
RADDATZ: Thanks you for joining us this morning Senator McCain.
And joining us now, Rhode Island Democrat, Senator Jack Reed. You heard Senator McCain call Benghazi and those e-mails a cover-up.
REED: Absolutely not. The congress has already had 11 hearings on the topic, over 25,000 pieces of documentation have been provided to the Congress. In fact, the e-mails in question, I believe, were available in February in the context of the John Brennan confirmation hearing.
And more critical I think is two of the most respected Americans, Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, conducted a thorough report, assessingÉ
RADDATZ: They did not look at those e-mails. And in fact Thomas Pickering told ABC News you have to be totally naive to not believe politics was injected in some role.
REED: Well, I think what I would suggest in looking at the play-by-play, is what was going on was not so much the politics of electioneering, but the institutional sort of positioning.
Victoria Nuland, who was representing the State Department, had a long career in public service. She's not a partisan. In fact, she worked for Dick Cheney. She was, I think, very much interested in making sure that the State Department's position and their perceptionÉ
RADDATZ: So, you're saying this is an interagency problem?
REED: I think this is the classic issue of interagency battle about who will say what. And at the end I think what you had was a very sort of consensus document that avoided all of the difficult issues.
RADDATZ: So, it's acceptable for Jay Carney to originally say there was just one, small change in this? And then, we find these 12 different versions, including a very definitive statement, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda participated in the attack. That did not appear in there. That's acceptable?
REED: That did not appear in the talking points, but I recall when Ambassador Rice was being interviewed on one of the TV shows she essentially said there were extremist settlements. She did not contradict that.
The president's, I think, statement immediately after the events, I think a day after the event, was this was an act of terror. So, there's no attempt as I think my colleagues on the other side are suggesting that there was a story being created that there was no terrorist involvement, that terrorism was not at all an issue.
I think what was being debated and seriously, again, just a month ago Jim Clapper, the head of the intelligence community in the United States said based on his view as a professional all these years, those comments were about as fair as accurate--
RADDATZ: But let me go back to the act of terror that you say President Obama talked about the next day in the Rose Garden and that Senator McCain disputed. If the president said it was an act of terror, then why didn't that appear on the talking points?
Can the White House really have it both ways, that they say, oh wait a minute, he said act of terror, but a few days later, they take out those references. So they felt pretty confident about it if they sent the president out to say that.
REED: Well, I think -- again I think they created, through an intra-agency process, a document that everyone could agree upon. And that's almost by definition in Washington, something that is not as specific or as conclusive.
RADDATZ: So, what they did is acceptable to you?
REED: Well, what they did, I think, was try in a very chaotic situation, to come up with points that they felt confident of. They didn't want to go too far in two concepts. One, our intelligence resources or assets that you might not want to disclose. Second, there's an ongoing investigation was just beginning. Those two factors also framed the response.
But I think again, when you talk about this sort of political dynamic, when the president comes out and says quite quickly, with the authority of his office, this was an act of terror, the notion that we're somehow trying to disguise this and make it something else, I think falls away very quickly.
RADDATZ; OK. I want to move quickly to Syria. You heard Senator McCain, and he's been saying it for weeks, that there should be a no-fly zone. Would that really work? Do we really know who the rebels are?
REED: We don't have a good sense of who is on the ground and the cohesion of elements that we have been trying to support over many months. And a no-fly zone is a -- could be feasible from an operational standpoint. But it would, I think, inevitably--
RADDATZ: What would it accomplish?
REED: Well, it might accomplish very little, I fact, because with artillery, you can still fire on innocent civilians and rebels. With armored personnel carriers, you can still move forward, displace troops and they can go after civilians on the ground.
It might not accomplish a great deal, but it would give us a step further to our engagement in a very complicated civil war.
I think the best approach is a diplomatic approach at this point. I know it's always sort of -- or many times pooh-poohed as well, that's just the old sort of diplomacy is not working, but engaging -- and Secretary Kerry has been I think made a step with the Russians to get them to sit down.
RADDATZ: I want to go quickly to the red line. It's been two weeks since the United States said there was evidence that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons. We've done nothing. I know they're checking out chain of custody, but this seems like this could go on forever and we may not do anything.
Should the president do something since they appear to have used chemical weapons?
REED: I think we have to take it very seriously. I think we do have to be careful, though, because we've had situations in the past where we've acted on information that was incomplete, impartial and frankly, to the detriment of our country and national security.
We have to be careful.
I think there's several issues here.
RADDATZ: Should he have drawn that red line? Very quickly.
REED: Well, I think frankly he should have made it clear, as he did, that the use -- the systemic use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people is something the international community cannot tolerate. So, that point has to be.
Now, the question is, what do you do? You can't do it hastily. But you have to do it very deliberately. And I believe that's what the president is trying to do.
RADDATZ: Thanks for joining us this morning, Senator Reed.
Up next, more on Benghazi with our roundtable, including our own Jon Karl. He broke the story of those e-mails and he's here with new details in 90 seconds.
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HILLARY CLINTON, FRM. SECRETARY OF STATE: The fact is, we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans. What difference at this point does it make?
ERIC NORDSTROM, LIBYAN EMBASSY SECURITY CHIEF: The committee labors to uncover what happened prior, during and after the attack matter. It matters to me personally. And it matters to my colleagues.
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RADDATZ: Scenes from two emotional hearings on Benghazi, including one this week. Let's introduce our roundtable. George Will, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, General James Cartwright former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of States, and ABC chief White House correspondent Jon Karl.
Jon, you broke the story this week of the e-mails. What's the fallout?
JON KARL, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, clearly, there's a credibility question that the White House has to deal with because this directly contradicts what they have said about this.
But you, you know, Martha, mentioned in the interview with Senator Reed that the White House has had tried to have it both ways, both saying that they immediately called it an act of terror and saying they couldn't do that in these talking points because they couldn't prejudice the investigation.
You know, there's problems on both sides with this. But there is one very important point here, which is in all 12 revisions of these talking points originally drafted by the CIA, they begin by saying that the attack in Benghazi started as a spontaneous reaction to Cairo. That was demonstrably false.
RADDATZ: And took out all of the al Qaeda references--
KARL: That was never true. And then they went on and took out all of the al Qaeda references--
RADDATZ: But they would say they didn't know that at the time.
RADDATZ: About those.
How about CIA Director David Petraeus? How did he respond to these talking points? And I know you have new information on that.
KARL: Yeah, this is fascinating. Because Mike Morrell, who was the deputy director, was the one that ultimately signed off on this one. Petraeus finally saw the final version of the talking points. This is the Saturday afternoon before Susan Rice's appearances on the Sunday shows. He looks at these and says they're essentially useless. And direct quote from his e-mail. He says, I would just as soon not use them. But it's their call, meaning the White House's call.
RADDATZ: And they got the talking points out there. George Will, is this going to last? Is this going to have a lasting effect as an unacceptable way to do business at the White House?
GEORGE WILL, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: Lasting. A week ago, Mr. Carney, who's usefulness to this administration is diminishing rapidly. A week ago he said, Benghazi was a long time ago as if it was the Punic Wars. This is a very live issue, because we now know three things.
We know that Mr. Hicks, the night of the attack, speaking from Libya, said pretty much what it was, an armed interaction, not a movie review conducted with rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Five days later on this program and on four other Sunday morning programs, the idea of an exceptionally boisterous movie review was still the administration's position.
And then, 14 days after the attack, at the UN, it was the same thing.
We started out with three arguments. Was security lax in Benghazi? Demonstrably. Could forces have been there to rescue them? Doubtful. Has the nation been systemically misled? Certainly.
Now, we need a select committee in congress because the State Department's misnamed accountability review board neglected to interview even the secretary of state.
RADDATZ: You think Secretary Clinton will be back on the Hill?
RUTH MARCUS, WASHINGTON POST: And possibly some of her aides -- Cheryl Mills, for example, her chief of staff, who dressed down Greg Hicks after he spoke to a congressman without a lawyer/minder present.
I think it's important to go back to some first principles. And George eludes to some of them. The real scandal here is what that accountability review board found which is that security was grossly inadequate and that there was systemic failures of leadership.
The notion that this is an impeachable offense -- I thought Senator McCain was right in saying that that rhetoric has way, way too far.
So, there's a real scandal and then there's a manufactured scandal. And by manufactured, I mean that the White House has given the building blocks of the manufacture to its opponents. I don't understand what it was thinking when it failed to understand -- failed to say act of terror clearly, failed to get the story Straight and then, the comments by Jay Carney that, as you say, are demonstrably false, that no single syllable was changed except for this one word. Not true.
RADDATZ: General Cartwright, I want to ask you some practical questions here, because one of the things the committee looked at, or the review board, rather, was whether they could have gotten assets in there, whether they could have gotten airplanes in there.
You heard Senator McCain say why didn't they shoot a fighter jet over the area to warn them. Was that feasible? And if not, why not?
GEN. JAMES CARTWRIGHT, (RET) FRM. VICE CHAIRMAN JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: It probably wasn't feasible. I don't know the exact conditions. But to get an aircraft ready, to get crews ready, to get maintenance people out. You don't walk up to one of these and put the keys in, to provide ordinance for those aircraft so they could at least defend themselves. And then to find the route down there, get the clearances to go in, et cetera. That's a day or two of activity.
So, we've heard a couple of different estimates from a couple of hours. That's the flight time to get there. And then, we've heard 9 to 20 hours to have the aircraft actually make it. That's talking about getting them ready and getting people in position.
RADDATZ: But is there something to be said that they didn't have anything ready, in an area like Libya? In an area that was still hot?
CARTWRIGHT: And I think that's where the review committee, Mike Mullen, and Tom Pickering, took a look at. You know, were the measures that were available at the embassy itself sufficient? And were the measures of the forces that could come to the aid of some kind of an infraction, whether it be an IED, an explosive device, or whether it be an attack on the embassy or its people? Those types of capability were set back in the States, in Europe, in northern Italy for aircraft.
Were So the question is were they close enough? Were they ready enough to do that?
That's worth going back and reviewing.
RADDATZ: I want to move to Syria. And you heard all of the talk about red lines. Ruth, should the president have had made a red line with Syria? I mean, is his credibility seriously hurt here if he does nothing?
MARCUS: If he does nothing. I do think we should watch that space. It's not yet clear that nothing will be done. But it is also clear, look, every parent knows, if you're going to make a threat, you need to be willing to follow through on it or else you lose credibility not just with the child that you're threatening, but with the other kids you have in your family.
In this case, Iran is watching. And so, he said red line. He is now looking for, to some extent, the witch's broomstick, to switch metaphors to "The Wizard of Oz" in terms of absolute proof and chain of custody and everything.
But if there is adequate proof and no consequence, there's a big loss of credibility. Which is not to say that's it's an easy choice, because the consequences are all unpleasant. Something he should have thought of months ago.
KARL: And I have to say hanging over all of this is the failure in Iraq. And this president is not going to go get involved in a significant way militarily in the Middle East in a war over intelligence on WMD.
I talked to a senior official in the White House yesterday about this who said, look, the intelligence that chemical weapons was used is solid, but you know what? It's not as solid as the intelligence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
RADDATZ: Boy, that's saying something there.
General Cartwright, let me go to you on this. You heard John McCain say the military can always find a way not to do something if they don't want to do it. And the military does not want to put up a no-fly zone, doesn't think it would work. Why wouldn't it work? Why wouldn't what John McCain said work?
CARTWRIGHT: The question is, why do you want a no-fly zone, to do what? A no-fly zone in and of itself is probably not going to change the dynamic drastically. The no-fly zone, if you could in place one and you are willing to take the risk of doing it?
RADDATZ: And sometimes when you're trying to stop the killing, you have more killing.
CARTWRIGHT: You have more killing.
And so they might be able to reduce the amount of offensive air that Assad is able to muster against the rebels, that would be potentially what a no-fly zone could do. But a no-fly zone might enable -- and I think this is where Senator McCain is going -- getting rid of runways, getting rid of air defenses, et cetera. But that's a slippery slope. If you convince Assad that--
RADDATZ: A slippery slope, George?
CARTWRIGHT: It is, I mean?
WILL: It seems that you're absolutely right that there's an illusion here that a superpower can tiptoe on little cat's feet into a sectarian civil war and not change the dynamic fundamentally and not become a chief protagonist. As soon as we intervene, we are the chief protagonist. And we'd be intervening in this context, as Secretary of State Mr. Kerry's policy, it seems to me, is to get a negotiated transition of power.
There are two problems with this. Assad isn't interested. He doesn't want to go anywhere. And the other side isn't interested. And the Russians, who have to be involved in this, aren't interested. So, no one's interested in our policy. So, we fall back on the illusion that some surgical tiny intervention can be kept both surgical and tiny. And that's dangerous.
RADDATZ: We'll leave it at that, George Will.
Thanks to Ruth and General Cartwright.
Coming up, George and Jon join our next panel, including former Senator Olympia Snowe. She reveals her plan to fix our broken politics.
Plus, the IRS under fire for targeting conservatives.
And Chris Christie's stunning announcement, that's next.
RADDATZ: The roundtable's next but first, Mark Sanford is headed to Congress. So what does Stephen Colbert make of his sister's defeat?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT: What can I say? The voters of South Carolina have spoken, Mark Sanford beat my sister. And I believe that means Mark Sanford is now my sister.
From now, and I never thought I would ever say this, I am from North Carolina.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS: The president got it out of the hole for me. He signed the flag. Everybody signed the flag. And it was pretty neat.
REPORTER: Did he ask for your vote on immigration reform in return?
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS: Actually, I told him since I'd made a hole in one he ought to give us everything we want on entitlement reform.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss hit a hole in one with President Obama this week, so will a little golf end Washington gridlock? We'll get to that in a moment.
First let's introduce our next roundtable. George Will and John Carl are back with Democratic strategist Donna Brazil, ABC's Matthew Dowd and Former Senator from Maine Olympia Snow. Welcome to all of you.
I want to start with you George Will and the IRS. What a week the IRS, look at these headlines. IRS targeted tea party groups for scrutiny. Searching words like "patriot," "tea party." Does this sound like a familiar story to you George Will?
WILL: Mr. Hicks, when he was in Libya said his jaw dropped at the explanation back here. This was a job dropping moment. In a response to a question at an American Bar Association Convention, a second level IRS person said, oh yeah by the way, we did target these people. Not progressives.
RADDATZ: Which apparently they've known about for a while.
WILL: Oh the Tea Party people have known about this and have been working on this.
RADDATZ: And the IRS.
WILL: But they said a) it was inadvertent, just some odd underlings out in Cincinnati and who did this. And there was no political motive whatever involved. Now the question is, how stupid do they think we are? Just imagine, Donna Brazile, if the George W. Bush administration had IRS underlings, out in Cincinnati of course, saying, we're going to target groups with the word "progressive" in their title. We would have all hell breaking loose.
May I read you something from an ancient document?
RADDATZ: Yes you may. I would be surprised if you didn't.
WILL: This is the 40th anniversary of the Watergate summer here in Washington. "He has through his subordinates and agents endeavored to cause in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner." Section 1, Article 2, the Impeachment Articles of Richard Nixon.
RADDATZ: Over to you Donna Brazile.
BRAZILE: I think it would be irresponsible to start talking about impeachment over this. But yet I believe the I.G. for Tax Administration will release a report this week. There's already been some leaked documents. Clearly there was some incompetence at some level of bureaucrats looking into all of these applications, coming in in a rush after Citizen United, to see whether or not they were legitimate organizations with the word "tea party" in it. Yeah they are "progressive patriots" as well.
But the truth is, this was, this was something that should have been revealed, should have been told. There were numerous Congressional hearings. No one came forth. This IRS official, Ms. Lerner, put it out there. Now let's see what the investigation --
RADDATZ: Why wasn't it revealed long ago? Apparently they've known about it.
KARL: It's amazing. And we know that IRS leadership, at least I am told, in Washington, knew about this last year. And yet the Commission of the IRS testified that he had no idea and no information that this was going on. But I think that given what George has just said, you better get ready for your audit.
BRAZILE: The IRS Commissioner was a Republican appointed by Bush who, his term expired in November, there's a vacancy currently at the IRS in terms of the head of the IRS.
RADDATZ: Senator Snow does this go away?
SNOW: No it doesn't, until it's resolved and we get to the heart of the matter. Because the IRS obviously has sweeping powers. And the fact that it had gone on so long, it wasn't disclosed or revealed in any way, and it actually was denied. When the former Commissioner came --
RADDATZ: He testified and so no we're not.
SNOW: He was specifically asked. And many attempts by members of Congress to raise these issues that they were specifically targeted, and they said no.
RADDATZ: You're smiling because you know you're not going to get audited.
DOWD: I'm going to go for it. I mean I don't have enough for them to mess with anyway. This is so, everything about this is so typical Washington and so typical partisan on each side of this. There's a great quote by Napoleon who says "Never ascribe to malice that which can be easily attributed to incompetence."
And every time something like this happens, and I'm not saying there's not stuff involved in here that has to be explained and all that. And Benghazi to me is another example. We jump to scandal long before we settle on stupidity. And each of these, there's things involved, they shouldn't have done certain things.
But I'm amazed at a situation where there's constant, especially on the Republican and Conservative side of this, who constantly say, governments incompetent, government can't do anything, they don't know what they're doing. But oh by the way, if Barack Obama wants to make it work badly on their behalf, they can do it really well and really effectively.
RADDATZ: Which is a perfect transition to what kind of week we've had. We saw the hole-in-one with Saxby Chambliss. We saw him out there with President Obama. I want to start with you, Senator Snow, on this. You are the author of the book, "Fighting for Common Ground." You say "The Senate was no longer a legislative body where the key issues facing the country could be resolved. The Senate as a whole simply was not doing the job granted to it under the Constitution."
First of all it caused you to leave the Senate and what can we do about the problems we're having now? Does the hole-in-one make a difference?
SNOW: To some it probably really does. To golfers. But I think it's important to the president to build those relationships I should say. But I decided to take my fight outside of the Senate. I was leaving the fight. But rather taking a different direction on the outside to affirm people's views.
One, about the disturbing partisanship and polarization that exists in Congress. The only way to change it is placing a premium and value on bipartisanship and compelling people to come together. And that means providing a political reward. And through the Bipartisan Policy Center, we're launching tomorrow a Common Ground Project in conjunction with Citizens for Political Reform, to serve as a catalyst for real-time involvement, drawing people into the process and making and holding members of Congress accountable for reaching agreement in common ground options --
RADDATZ: Do you see that working George Will?
WILL: No and I'm not sure I want it to work. I think, Senator Snow on that side of the table and I on this side, represent a fundamental divide for 230-some years in this country.
SNOW: I'm not that old.
SNOW: Maybe combined with the whole table.
WILL: I think Senator Snow wishes the American people were less cynical about Washington and more trusting. In regard to our last topic, of the IRS, I wish American's were less trusting of government than we are. We wouldn't have the largest, sprawling government, which by its very size guarantees the kind of gridline that Senator Snow dislikes.
RADDATZ: Let's take a leap forward here on our last topic here. 2016, we've certainly heard about Benghazi. This weekend we had Senator Rand Paul in Iowa, we had Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in New Hampshire, and this we heard from Governor Chris Christie.
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GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: I did this for myself, my wife and my children. And unlike some of you, they will still pay attention to me whether I run for president or not.
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RADDATZ: You buy that one Matt? You've run a presidential campaign.
DOWD: Well the timing is awful curious because I don't think he gained weight after he became governor of New Jersey and then decided I think it's time to lose weight. You can take his explanation as valid as what he says.
I think so much of what's going on now, with the Presidential Campaign of 2016 started right after November 2012. That's when the Presidential Election for 2016. And to me all of this, so much of this discussion, the release of the ad on Benghazi, has to do with 2016, and try to hurt Hillary Clinton. All the things, the scandals that we're talking about, all have to do with 2016.
The interesting thing to me is if Hillary Clinton doesn't run, this will be the first time in more than a generation where both parties have no heir apparent to run in this, for this office. Before 1960, since 1960, this hasn't happened before. That's why everything you're seeing is about 2016.
RADDATZ: I want to go back to Chris Christie for a moment. Would American's have to have someone who wasn't overweight? So much of America is overweight.
BRAZILE: More than 1/3 of Americans consider themselves, you know, more than 1/3 obese. We all struggle with our weight. George I know you haven't struggled. I've seen you for 40 years and you ain't struggled with much.
BRAZILE: But the truth is that I'm rooting for him. I think he's doing the right thing. Not just for his health, his family, whether it's 2016 and he's shaping up for that. He's, it humanizes him. But it also gives him an opportunity to share with the American people, like Bill Clinton, when he ran for President, was struggling with his weight. He was one Happy Meal away from being overweight.
Mike Huckabee who struggled with his weight. This will give him an opportunity to talk to the American people about a subject that we should all talk about, our own health.
RADDATZ: Jon Karl is Hillary hurt?
KARL: Look the Republicans are already treating Hillary like she is the Democratic nominee in 2016.
RADDATZ: Joe Biden's having a great time for himself.
KARL: He's trying this, "I'm over here, I'm Joe Biden, I'm here!" But look, we've seen two ads last week from Republican groups, video ads attacking Hillary Clinton. These are the earliest attack ads we have seen I think every in a Presidential Campaign.
RADDATZ: But it's a long way away. Does that issue fade or is this going to be a central issue if Hillary Clinton --
KARL: Well the idea that we can right now what's going to be a central issue in 3-1/2 years, there's no way. But I do believe that we will see that clip in one form or another in political attack ads in the 2016 --
DOWD: I just think it undermines what it really does is undermines her, not only with the general electorate because it's just like here we go again. I think it actually Democrats start to say like, do we want to re-litigate all of the stuff we had from the '90s from her husband. Because we have another thing.
The only thing I counsel is Republicans better be careful what they wish for. Because every time they say Hillary's out, Hillary Clinton, as of now she's strong. But you get rid of her and Joe Biden has a hard time going anywhere. A new candidate could emerge and that could be even harder to beat than Hillary Clinton, so be careful what you wish for.
SNOW: And Matthew I just would say on this whole issue on this whole issue and of course on Benghazi, is that Republicans could overplay their hand. We can't be viewed for doing this for political reasons. But rather trying to get at the truth. This should be a bipartisan effort on both sides frankly, both Democrats and Republicans ought to get to the heart of the matter, what transpired in Benghazi? Why were there serious lapses in security? And measures were not put in place. And to respond to those issue.
RADDATZ: I want to very quickly here at the end, we just have a couple of minutes, talk about this week's hearings on military sexual assault. It is an unbelievable problem. And I'm just going to say right now, I've heard for 20 years, officials at the Pentagon say they have zero tolerance for this. And it's worse than ever.
Matt you have a son who served.
DOWD: Yes I have a son who served in the Army and who was in Iraq for almost 18 months. It's a problem and a systematic problem. He talks about it, he talked about it, it goes on all the time. To me, I mean todays Mother's Day, and Happy Mother's Day to you Martha and all the other Mothers.
RADDATZ: Thank you very much.
DOWD: To me there's a quote, Dostoyevsky said, It's how we treat our prisoners is how civilized society is. To me, it's how we treat women is how civilized our society is. And when we allow this, and we allow abuse at many different levels, and things, we don't report it, police don't investigate it. What we've seen that came out of Cleveland actually, where the guy had a history of abuse, nothing was ever done about. And then look what happened. The military has not dealt with this.
RADDATZ: Just a couple seconds here George.
WILL: Matt (ph) which I agree with, still when you have a 37 percent increase from one year to another, something has changed also in the reporting of this. And that's part of the story.
RADDATZ: You also have to look at alcohol I think. I think that's something else that you have to look at and whether that is a contributing factor. And I'm sure they'll look at that as they go forward and try to finally fix this problem.
Senator Snow is sticking around to answer your questions for our web extra. Coming up our Mother's Day Spotlight, having a baby while serving in Congress isn't easy.
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UNKNOWN: When Joaquin was a baby, really, infant, I had him on the floor and I was voting and my son vomited right down my blouse. And I was wearing a suit with a silk blouse which was just a mess. And I still had to stay for votes. So you can imagine how unique that situation was.
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RADDATZ: Sunday Spotlight next. But first the Sunday Funnies.
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JIMMY FALLON: Some experts are saying that the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary could come down to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. Biden is calling her a worthy opponent and Hillary is calling him practice.
JIMMY KIMMEL: President Park Geun-hye is in the United States right now. She visited the White House on Tuesday to meet with President Obama. For some reason, this is the picture South Korea's largest news agency published of that meeting. They took two different photos, and they pieced them together. Even Manti Te'o looked at that and said, this is totally fake.
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BEUTLER: So far it's been nothing but congratulations. The fun this is, babies aren't part of it. So even folks who, we do not agree on policy, are so excited because they recognize, this is a great thing.
RADDATZ: Yes it is. Congresswoman Jaime Herrara Beutler with exciting news this week, she's becoming the ninth member of Congress to have a baby in office. So this Mother's Day our Spotlight shines on three of those women. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Linda Sanchez, who Buetler reached out to for advice.
SANCHEZ: Well she, she came to me before she made the announcement. Probably the best piece of advice I give to women who are trying to juggle career and family is you really have to learn to be forgiving of your own self. When you have a lot of balls in the air, this is what I tell women, inevitably one or two are going to fall. And you can't beat yourself up about it.
MCMORRIS RODGERS: There's some days that I think, okay I have this figured out! And then the next day it feels like it's all falling apart. And that's where it's good to be able to talk with other working moms, on Capitol Hill that understand, that can relate to you and give you those words of encouragement.
GILLIBRAND: I want more women in government. I want more women members of Congress. Because we shouldn't have to be the bearers of these issues, we passionately are. Because we see it. We see the challenge every day.
RADDATZ: While women have made great strides in Congress, it is still and has been historically such a male dominated place. So what do you see? I mean in very practical sense, what do you see day-to-day?
SANCHEZ: Even a male member who has young children is, typically their children live with their spouse in their home district during the week so they're not having the mad rush to have to finish the vote and get to their child's school to pick up their son or daughter from school.
One thing that I noticed for the first time, we have a woman's bathroom right off of the floor.
(UNKNOWN): First time.
SANCHEZ: First time in 200 years. It took some time. And there still is not a changing table in that bathroom, which I really could have used. You asked for one.
SANCHEZ: And so, you know, there are unique challenges.
RADDATZ: How have the male members been? I think a lot of women, and I'll say it happened to me too, that it was like you didn't want to talk that much about being a mom because the men might look at you as not taking your job seriously. Has that gone away?
GILLIBRAND: I think there's been a generational shift. And I think that for members of our own generation, they're quite comfortable with, their wives may work, their wives may work at home. But there's a comfort level. For men who are older than use, 20, 30 years, we just remind them of their daughters. And they love their daughters and their daughters are living similar lives to us.
RADDATZ: Just a final question for each of you, how has it changed from where you are on this Mother's Day from where your own mothers were?
SANCHEZ: It's night and day. My mother was a mother to seven children. She was a stay-at-home mom. I think she should be sainted. She went back to night school. Earned her degree and became a teacher. And I think largely because of what she did and the values she instilled in me and what she taught me, I'm where I am today.
GILLIBRAND: Well I have to agree. My mother's lessons of there's nothing you can't do if you put your mind to it, really informed my whole life. But my mom was among the few in her generation to actually work. And her mother worked. So I just had this long legacy of mom's who worked outside the home. And so I never considered anything else.
What they've accomplished and frankly what all the women who came before us have accomplished, makes everything that we do possible.
MCMORRIS RODGERS: My mom, I don't think really, sometimes, really imagine that I am serving in Congress. My mom had dropped out of college her freshman year when her dad passed away and she was determined that her kids were going to go college, graduate from college. And she sacrificed her entire life to give me that opportunity. And she told me Cathy, you can be anything you want to be. She's made me the person that I am today.
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RADDATZ: Our thanks to all three on this Mother's Day. And now we honor our fellow Americans how serve and sacrifice. This week the Pentagon released the names of 10 service members killed in Afghanistan and (inaudible).
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out World News with David Muir tonight. And to all the moms out there, Happy Mother's Day.