'This Week' Transcript: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

The Republican Senate leader is interviewed on "This Week."

ByABC News
May 17, 2015, 9:01 AM

— -- This is a rush transcript and will be updated. It may contain errors.

ANNOUNCER: Now on ABC's This Week. Breaking news: a daring raid by the elite Delta Force deep inside Syria that just killed a key ISIS leader. Can his captured wife reveal crucial information?

Mystery on the tracks: the FBI now investigating. Did a projectile hit the doomed Amtrak train moment before it crashed?

Sentenced to die: why Dzokhar Tsarnaev spend decades behind bars despite that dramatic death penalty ruling.

Plus, 2016 surprises, Republicans turning on Jeb Bush's Iraq misstep, Democrats piling on President Obama over trade. Senators Mitch McConnell and Diane Feinstein are weighing in.

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

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: And we have lots to get to this morning. New developments in that Amtrak crash. The FBI on the case. And we're going to be joined by the lead investigator for the NTSB.

But first, that daring Delta Force raid deep inside Syria. They set out to capture Abu Sayyaf, the man in charge of funding ISIS. He was killed in the firefight, but U.S. forces did capture his wife and key intelligence.

ABC's chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran reporting on the raid. And Terry, this was a risky operation.

TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It certainly was. Good morning, George.

It was high risk operation sending these American troops deep into the heart of ISIS controlled territory in Syria. But the president decided the intelligence was good enough, the target valuable enough, and Delta Force troops lethal enough to role the dice here.


MORAN: The daring raid happened overnight Friday: elite Delta Force troops taking off from Iraq aboard Blackhawk helicopters and B-22 Osprey's, headed deep into Syria.

Their mission: capture and interrogate Abu Sayyaf, ISIS's top money man, in charge of their multi-million dollar black market oil and gas sales. Former special forces officer Jim Gavrilis.

JIM GAVRILIS, FRM. U.S. SPECIAL FORCES OFFICER: This is not just another person. Their revenue streams are extremely important for their survival.

MORAN: A counterterrorism official tells ABC News Sayyaf is also believed to be the ISIS leader who had been given American hostage Kayla Mueller, killed in Syria in February, as a forced bride or slave.

The question on many minds after thousands of air strikes on ISIS targets, why risk a dangerous ground operation?

GAVRILIS: We really did want to capture him, there's no question about that. He could have given us a lot of information about their whole financial structure, about all their oil smuggling.

MORAN: But fate would have otherwise. On the ground at Sayyaf's house, a fierce firefight. ISIS fighters defending the building, using women and children as human shields, the Pentagon says.

At times, the combat so close, commandos using their training in hand-to-hand fighting.

GAVRILIS: So it happens in close quarters battles more frequently than you think. They'll even duck under your rifle. And when they duck under your rifle, then you have to get into hand-to-hand combat.

MORAN: Abu Sayyaf killed in the firefight, Sayyaf's wife captured and held for questioning, and an apparent slave freed. All American personnel returned safely after scooping up laptop computers that could prove to be an intelligence windfall.


MORAN: The raid comes as ISIS has been making gains in recent weeks on the battlefield, especially in the key Iraqi city of Ramadi, but what happened to Abu Sayyaf this weekend, well it sends an unmistakable message to ISIS leaders: U.S. intelligence is improving and they are not safe anywhere -- George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Terry, thanks.

Let's get more on this now from CIA veteran Michael Morell. Served at the highest levels as both acting director and deputy director. Mr. Morell, thank you for joining us this morning.

And take us inside the decision-making here. Why make the choice for a raid? And is it a success even though Abu Sayyaf killed, not captured?

MICHAEL MORELL, FRM. DEPUTY DIRECTOR CIA: So, George, really important here, the real value here is taking a guy off the battlefield who is incredibly important to the organization, to funding it, to running it very close to senior leadership, to al-Baghdadi, so taking him off the battlefield very important.

It would have been great to have kept him alive and question him, but his wife worked very closely with him, so she's going to be able to tell us a lot, George. And that SSE, those computers, that information we got, it's going to help us understand the organization better, unravel it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, I want to talk about that more, because in your new book "The Great War of Our Time," you describe some intelligence files picked up after a 2014 raid deep inside Syria. We learned a lot about the ambitions of ISIS there.

MORELL: Right. So two documents in that cache. One is a document about how effective weapons of mass destruction can be against the enemy, that's us. One of those documents talks about how you actually make Bubonic plague and how you use that against the enemy: that's us. And the other document in there is a document that talks about the religious justification for using weapons of mass destruction.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So we could be learning a lot from these new files as well.

As Terry mentioned, though, ISIS taking hold of Ramadi right now. What's your judgment on where the war stands right now? And the most important thing the United States needs to be doing?

MORELL: So, George, a couple of things. One is we have taken back about 25 percent of the territory that ISIS took in Iraq. Still a lot more work to be done, but we are doing well in Iraq.

It's Syria where we need to do better. There aren't troops on the ground in Syria. There's not a way to take back territory in Syria right now. This raid sends a message. But ultimately at the end of the day we're going to have to take back territory in Syria as well as in Iraq.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what's your greatest fear from ISIS?

MORELL: I think what we just talked about is an attack in the homeland using some sort of weapons of mass destruction, which we're a long way off from, but if they get safe haven, and they get it over the long-term, then those are the kind of things we have to worry about, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Michael Morell, thanks very much.

We're going to turn now to that deadly Amtrak crash. The FBI has now joined the investigation as the federal government moves to implement new safety improvements across Amtrak's northeast corridor. Here's ABC's David Kerley with the new development.


DAVID KERLEY, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: What happened in the last moments of Amtrak 188? The train quickly accelerated in its last minute, barreling down the tracks north of Philadelphia at more than twice the speed for a corner ahead, captured on this security footage obtained by our station WPBI. Moments later, a flash as the train careened off the tracks.

And now an account of some kind of projectile hitting the windshield. The story from an assistant conductor listening to her engineer, 32-year-old Brandon Bostian on the radio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She also believed that she heard her engineer say something about his train being struck by something.

KERLEY: The FBI has been asked to join the investigation to examine the damage to the train's windshield and reports of other trains in that area being struck at about the same time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unknown object made contact with that train, shattering the windshield.

KERLEY: But even if the Amtrak train was hit by something before derailing, how does that explain the sudden acceleration? Ten minutes out of Philadelphia it's at the speed limit 70 miles an hour, then in the final minute a quick acceleration, 80 miles an hour, then 90, just 16 seconds before derailment more than 100 miles an hour reaching that 50 mile an hour curve, the brakes are applied but it's too late.

The engineer tells investigators he has no memory of the moments before the crash or the crash itself, which killed eight and injured hundreds and shut down part of the busiest rail corridor in the country.

Before reopening, the Federal Railroad Administration is ordering Amtrak to take some immediate safety precautions, requiring all trains be outfitted with onboard speed control technology, and calling for inspections of curved tracks and increase speed limit signage on the northeast corridor.

But this part of the corridor doesn't have the newest technology that can actually stop a speeding train.

CEO Joseph Boardman, now promises that technology.

JOSEPH BOARDMAN, AMTRAK CEO: By the end of this year, we're going to have positive train control in here. It will not happen again.

KERLEY: When you heard that this train was 106 miles an hour in a 50 mile limit, what did you think?

BOARDMAN: There was a sickening in my stomach.


KERLEY: That high tech positive train control system is supposed to be on all American rails and trains by the end of this year, but the railroads and the rail lines say they won't meet that deadline. They're asking for an extension to 2020 -- George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, David, thanks very much.

Let's get more on this now from the NTSB's lead investigator Robert Sumwalt. He joins us right now.

And thank you for joining us, Mr. Sumwalt. What more can you tell us about this idea that projectile might have hit the train and what it might have done?

ROBERT SUMWALT, NTSB LEAD INVESTIGATOR: George, thanks for having us.

And you know this idea of something striking the train, that's one of the many things that we're looking at right now. We interviewed the Amtrak -- let's see, we interviewed the dispatchers, and we listened to the dispatch tape and we heard no communications at all from the Amtrak engineer to the dispatch center to say that something had struck his train.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Nothing at all?

SUMWALT: Nothing at all. Nothing at all that he reported to the dispatch center.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So this is just as you say one theory, nothing reported early on.

You've spoken now with the engineer. He's remembered so little. So are you any closer to figuring out the cause of the crash?

SUMWALT: Well, we're at this stage, George, we're just in the fact finding stage of the investigation. I will say this, that we've called for inward facing video cameras for a long time, and we feel that had we had cameras that would help to help with this investigation significantly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But have you been able to rule anything out? You know, I spoke with the engineer's lawyer the other day. He said that the engineer was not drinking, no drugs in his system, not texting at the time, his phone was locked away. Have you been able to confirm all that?

SUMWALT: Well, we have conducted drug and alcohol testing in accordance with the federal law. We have also requested the cell phone records, as we do for any transportation accident. So these are the many things that we are doing. And we just slowly start -- we start gathering the information and then slowly start ruling things out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what's the most important thing you need to know right now?

SUMWALT: Well, I think what we need to know, we need the traveling public to know that the NTSB is conducting a very thorough investigation and we will get to the bottom of this. And we have to have positive train control implemented soon to keep things like this from happening in the future.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But we just heard it may not happen by the end of the year.

SUMWALT: Well, you're right. And that's very troubling to the NTSB. We have seen countless accidents over the years that could have been prevented had positive train control been implemented.

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

Let's get more on this now from Pierre Thomas, who covers the FBI; Dan Abrams, our chief legal analyst.

And, Pierre, let me begin with you.

Describe the FBI's role now in this investigation.

PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS SR. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, George. There are a number of ways the FBI can help solve the mystery of the cracked glass. FBI forensic scientists will work with their NTSB counterparts to look at the window, to try to determine if the cracks were caused by projectiles or somehow caused by the derailment.

Depending on what the NTSB wants, they could ship the entire windshield down to the FBI's lab in Quantico, Virginia, for more detailed analysis. There they can use high-powered microscopes to peer into the cracks to search for embedded particles that might offer clues to -- as to whether anything hit the glass.

The bureau may also do comparison to the other two trains that were possibly hit that night. In addition, the FBI will canvas the entire area for surveillance videos to see if there was anything suspicious going on, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Pierre, thanks. Let me talk to Dan right now.

And, Dan, what are the possible legal implications here?

DAN ABRAMS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: There's the possible criminal and there's civil. Let's start with criminal, which is could the engineer be charged with a crime? Theoretically, yes, but they would have to have found that he did something specifically wrong, meaning the crash itself doesn't necessarily mean a crime was committed. There has to have been recklessness or intentional conduct or something that he did that would mean that there could be a crime. They're going to look at that.

Number two is civil, which is all these people that were injured are now going to sue. But what's interesting is that in 1997, there was a law passed that basically said there's a cap of $200 million total for every -- for all the victims together in a train accident.

Considering you're talking about hundreds of victims here, $200 million, you could argue, might not even cover all the medical expenses in connection with this case.

So that's going to be something that is going to be under the microscope, that particular law; there are going to be lawyers that are going to try and get around it, et cetera.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They certainly will.

While we have you here, we also had that big news on Friday, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sentenced to death by that jury.

But this is just the beginning of what could be a very long appeals process.

ABRAMS: It will be a long appeals process. But let's remember, the best thing he could get would be a new trial. No one's going to order an acquittal for him. That's very unlikely that he'll get a new trial. What's interesting is that when you read the verdict for him, three of these jurors actually bought into the defense's argument, which is that he was under the power and the spell of his brother, that he would not have done this had it not been for his brother. And yet despite that, these three jurors, in addition to the nine others, all agreed to sentence him to death.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that grounds for an appeal?

ABRAMS: It's not grounds for an appeal in and of itself but expect the defense to focus on those jurors, meaning when they say that there were legal errors in the case and as a result we should get a new trial, they will, I think, highlight the fact that those three jurors seemed willing to accept the heart of the defense.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Dan, thanks very much.

Now I want to address some news you may have seen about me. Over the last several years, I've made substantial donations to dozens of charities, including The Clinton Global Foundation (sic). Those donations were a matter of public record, but I should have made additional disclosures on air when we covered the foundation.

And I now believe that directing personal donations to that foundation was a mistake, even though I made them strictly to support work done to stop the spread of AIDS, help children and protect the environment in poor countries. I should have gone the extra mile to avoid even the appearance of a conflict.

I apologize to all of you for failing to do that.

We'll be right back.




STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): Up next, 2016 infighting: why Democrats and Republicans are turning on themselves. What it means for the race.

Plus is the Senate getting unstuck? Majority Leader Mitch McConnell here live.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Back now with the race for the White House in a tough week for Jeb Bush, struggling to answer questions about the Iraq War, raising new questions about his readiness for the campaign trail.

ABC's Jonathan Karl reports on how he's recovering from the misstep and wrestling with his brother's legacy.


JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the campaign trail in Iowa yesterday, Jeb Bush took new heat over his brother, George W. Bush's record on Iraq.

JEB BUSH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: The facts that were there for the president was grounded on faulty intelligence. But the power of hindsight's not given to us.

KARL (voice-over): That response comes after Bush gave five answers in four days to this basic question:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?

BUSH: I would have.

KARL (voice-over): The next day Bush said he misheard the question.

BUSH: I heard -- I didn't -- whatever I heard, it was translated, knowing what you knew then, what would you do?

KARL (voice-over): While Bush was clarifying, his Republican rivals rushed forward to show they have no problem answering the question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we knew then what we know now, and I were the President of the United States, I wouldn't have gone to war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No way we would have gone to war with Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think even at the time invading Iraq was a mistake.

KARL (voice-over): Also piling on, "Saturday Night Live."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeb Bush said in an interview this week that like his brother he would have authorized the invasion of Iraq, though he wouldn't have done it for the same reason George did, to capture the genie from Aladdin.

KARL: By the end of the week, Bush finally came up with his direct answer.

JEB BUSH, FRM. GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: Knowing what we know now, what would you have done? I would have not engaged -- I would not have gone into Iraq.

KARL: Even before this stumble, Iraq threatened to cast a long shadow over Jeb Bush's campaign. Most unpopular decision of his brother's presidency. Criticizing family, he said this week, is something he has a hard time doing.

BUSH: I'm not going to go out of my way to say that, you know, my brother did this wrong, or my dad did this wrong, it's just not going to happen.

KARL: But this week's Iraq drama raises questions for Bush not just about the war, but also about his readiness for the rough and tumble of a presidential campaign before he's even entered the race.

For This Week, Jonathan Karl, ABC News, New York.


STEPHANOPOULOS: There were also headaches for Democrats this week: fighting among themselves over President Obama's free trade plan. It is getting bitter and personal with just about everyone choosing sides except Hillary Clinton.

ABC's Cecilia Vega reports on her big hedge.


CECILIA VEGA, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: An embarrassing political defeat handed down by his own party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The motion is not agreed to.

VEGA: President Obama's 12 country free trade deal initially blocked by Senate Democrats, a resounding setback, some calling it downright open rebellion.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY: What we've just witnessed here is the Democratic Senate shut down the opportunity to debate the top economic priority of the Democratic president of the United States.

VEGA: Two days later, Obama did clear a key legislative hurdle and a Senate vote on the trade deal will now happen this week, though the president is still struggling to gain support in both houses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fight is not over.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: We can't keep pushing through trade deals that benefit multinational companies at the expense of workers.

VEGA: But there is more than Obama's legacy on the line, there is an election with more voices Republicans and Democrats joining the chorus asking where's Hillary Clinton? As the nation's top diplomat, she spearheaded the administration's pivot to Asia and praised the Transpacific Partnership abroad.

HILLARY CLINTON, FRM. SECRETARY OF STATE: The idea is to create a new high standard for multilateral free trade.

The Transpacific Partnership, which will lower trade barriers, raise labor and environmental standards, and drive growth across the region.

VEGA: But so far presidential candidate Hillary Clinton remains noncommittal.

CLINTON: Well, any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security.

VEGA: Progressive leaders are hoping for more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that Hillary Clinton cares about working people. It would be helpful if she were more definitive on the Transpacific Partnership.


VEGA: And it's not just the trade deal, Clinton also coming under fire this week for not taking questions from reporters on the campaign trail. By our count, George, she has answered just nine so far since launching.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, pressure is building for a press conference.

The campaign did late on Friday release some eye-popping speaking...

VEGA: She did in these campaign finance reports. And we have those numbers for you. She declared that she and her husband Bill Clinton have earned more than $25 million since 2014 delivering more than 100 paid speeches, $5 million more for the former secretary of state in that in book royalties, that puts the Clintons in the top one-tenth of one percent of all Americans, making Hillary Clinton the second wealthiest presidential candidate, George, behind Republican Carly Fiorina.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you're heading to Iowa with her?

VEGA: Tomorrow.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Cecilia Vega, thanks very much.

Coming up, the president's controversial trade bill in trouble, but the Senate's top Republican is his new ally. Mitch McConnell joins us live along with senior Democrat Dianne Feinstein.



MCCONNELL: I’d like to thank the president, too. No, you’re not hearing things. President Obama has done his country a service by taking on his base and pushing back on some of the more ridiculous rhetoric we’ve heard.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And there’s the Senate majority leader this Thursday, Mitch McConnell. He joins us live right now. Mr. Leader, thank you for joining us. This morning, this is the president’s top legislative priority right now, this trade promotion authority. You appear to be his pointman in the Senate. What is it going to take to get it passed and are you confident it will?

MCCONNELL: Yes, we’ll pass it. We’ll pass it later this week. The president has done an excellent job on this. I point out to my members who are somewhat squeamish, as you can imagine, giving the president the power of any issue, given his expansive view of his powers on so many other issues. But this is a trade promotion authority not just for President Obama, but for the next president as well. This is a six-year trade promotion authority bill that will give the next president an opportunity to enter into additional trade agreements with other countries around the world. We know America is a big winner when we lower barriers to our products abroad. It also has a foreign policy and defense component. A lot of the countries in Asia are a little apprehensive, as you can imagine, about not only Chinese economic domination, but potential Chinese military domination. And so they would like to get closer to us. And this is a great opportunity to do that, as well as to benefit America and to create more jobs here in our country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I saw that little smile when you discussed President Obama. You described your relationship with the president right now as kind of an out-of-body experience. How do you intend to build on that? Do you want to build on it? And does it mean that that bourbon summit that everyone’s been talking about is no longer necessary?

MCCONNELL: We’ve got a new Senate now. We’re actually voting again. We voted more than 100 times in the first quarter of this year. Last year, only 15 roll calls votes on amendment the entire year. We passed a budget. For the last five years, the Senate did not pass a budget, which is required by the law. The Senate is getting back to work, and what I’m doing is focusing on things upon which there’s some bipartisan agreement. We passed an excellent Iran nuclear review bill overwhelmingly, Democrats and Republicans. The president is going to sign it. We have a cyber security bill coming forward that came out of the Intelligence Committee overwhelmingly. Elementary and secondary education came out of that committee overwhelmingly. We’re trying to focus on the things that we can agree on that will make progress for the country, George, even though we know there are many things we do not agree with the president on, and all of those will probably come to the fore on spending bills. We want to spend more on defense; they want to spend more on everything.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no need for bourbon with the president?

MCCONNELL: I’d be happy to do that, but we don’t have a personality problem; we just had differences on issues. But there are some things we agree on, and I try to focus on the things that we do agree on, and where we can make progress for the country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One area where you still appear to be at odds is over this NSA telephone surveillance program. It’s about to expire in a couple of weeks. The White House backs a bill passed by the House which will have telephone companies keep the records and the government collection. 196 Republicans in the House voted for that bill. Why are you worried about it?

MCCONNELL: Well, actually, the bill that passed the House does not require the telephone companies to keep the records. I figure the House passed bill will basically end the program, and I want to reassure everybody, there are plenty of safeguards in this program, and nobody at the NSA is routinely listening in to your telephone conversations in order to intercept any actual discussion on a telephone. They have to go to a court, get a court order.

This has been a very important part of our effort to defend the homeland since 9/11. We know that the terrorists overseas are trying to recruit people in our country to commit atrocities in our country. We saw a great example of just what I’m talking about in the Boston marathon massacre. I don’t want us to go dark, in effect, and I’m afraid that the House passed bill will basically be the end of the program, and we’ll not be able to have yet another tool that we need to combat this terrorist threat from overseas.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your own Senate colleague from Kentucky, Rand Paul, wants to end the program. He put out a tweet this week saying I will fight tooth and nail to stop a blanket reauthorization of this attack on our freedoms. How do you respond to that, that the NSA surveillance program is an attack on our freedoms?

MCCONNELL: Well, Rand Paul and I agree on most things. We don’t agree on this. He doesn’t like the House passed bill, either. So we’re just in a different place on this. Reasonable people can differ. I think it is an important tool if we’re going to have the maximum opportunity to defend our people here at home, and I don’t think the House bill does that. I think it basically leads us to the end of the program. What I would rather see, George, is a couple of months extension of the existing program so we can get reassurance that this new bill that passed the House can actually work.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That could face a filibuster.

MCCONNELL: Well, you know, everybody threatens to filibuster. We’ll see what happens. But this is the security of the country that we’re talking about here. This is no small matter. We see it on display on almost a weekly basis. Earlier on your program, we were talking about the raid that was carried out in Syria. That was over there. What I’m worried about is what happens over here. And this program has been an important tool in helping to protect the homeland.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned that raid. I know you were briefed on it. Are you confident it was a success? And are we now on offense against ISIS?

MCCONNELL: Well, the president has done a good job with these special operations type missions. Where I think the administration has fallen down is they tend not to favor, generally speaking, capture and interrogation. Although it’s good that the wife of this terrorist was captured and will be interrogated. I’ve been distressed, for example, about the willingness to release prisoners at Guantanamo. Look, this is not a criminal type matter. This is a defense matter. What you want to do is you want to capture people, you want to interrogate them, and you want to try to prevent the next atrocity. I wish we’d had, you know, frankly, more emphasis on capturing, detaining and interrogation than on strikes. Although the strikes are important, and I congratulate those who carried it out. It sounds like it was a very successful mission.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, sir, you mentioned that you and Rand Paul agree on most things. In fact, he’s one of three senators running. He’s your candidate for president. Make the 30-second case for why he should be president.

MCCONNELL: You know, one of the great things that Rand Paul has done is reach out to different constituencies. I’ve been thrilled to how he’s gone to African American audiences. He’s very appealing to young people. Look, we all know that in order to be competitive in presidential elections, we have to carry more voters than we have in recent years, which is not enough to win the White House. So Rand has brought a kind of new brand of Republicanism to the contest. I think it’s exciting to a lot of people, and I wish him well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator McConnell, thanks for joining us this morning.

MCCONNELL: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's turn now to senior Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, the vice chair of the Intelligence Committee.

Senator Feinstein, thank you for joining us this morning. You just heard Senator McConnell on that raid inside Syria this weekend.

Your assessment?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIF.: Well, my assessment is that it was a success that it is the kind of one-two punch that we should do more of. I believe that if we're not going to put troops on the ground, then we've got to use our Special Operations Forces to go in and collect intelligence; also be able to capture people that might be able to be helpful. This is the second this has been tried in Syria; the first time it was not successful. That was to rescue hostages.

But now this was, I think, a picture perfect raid; everything went according to plan. But the demise of the principal, obviously, took place when the aim was to capture, as I understand it, but I'm very worried about the Islamic State. It is now in at least 12 countries around North Africa, around the Middle East. It is organized. It is an impressive fighting force. It occupies territory. It runs a government. And most importantly it is evil. It annihilates in the most brutal of ways. And so I think that we have to get very serious about what we're going to do not only to contain but to eradicate this force.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about trade. You just heard Senator McConnell there, some scrambled coalitions on this issue, a lot of Democrats opposing the president.

Do you agree with Senator McConnell, that the trade bill is going to pass?

And do you support it?

FEINSTEIN: I do support the trade bill and I'll tell you why: I'm a born-and-raised Californian on the rim of the largest trading basin the world. Nothing is going to decrease the trade between countries along the Pacific Ocean. It surpassed the Atlantic several years ago.

Therefore the kind of trade, free trade, the ability to have enforcement mechanisms to prevent anti-dumping, to protect copyright, to prevent forced labor, child labor is very important. And that's what this will do.

The enforcement section and the trade assistance section, which passed the Senate with more than 70 votes, is vital to this.

I think with the three combined there is a very good bill.

I want to straighten one thing out, and that is that most people think this is a bill for corporate America. In California, 95 percent of the trade is carried out by companies and business of less than 500 people. So this is economically upwardly mobile jobs for people and I think it is extraordinarily important that the trade authority be given to the president.

I also think there's a macro reason, and that is America loses its leadership in this very stimulating and increasing theater of trade --


STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you another question --

FEINSTEIN: -- not participate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- about this. Hillary Clinton's been criticized for dodging the debate on this issue.

Should she come out and declare where she stands?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I think she should take a good look at it. And I think it would be very helpful. I think it's been typified by our party in a way which is most unfortunate and that is on the jobs issue.

Trade creates jobs. It creates the ability of people to become economically upwardly mobile if it's done right and if it's enforced. The problem is with the enforcement, and providing the resources to do it correctly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Feinstein, thanks very much for joining us.

FEINSTEIN: You're very well. Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): Next, the 2016 shakeup: Democrats being Democrats, Republicans being Republicans. The roundtable analyzes all that infighting on the trail and in the Senate.

And later, our "Sunday Spotlight" on some good news from Baltimore, a little hope.



STEPHANOPOULOS: Check it out, Mitt Romney, 68 years old, up against Evander Holyfield, made it through two rounds.

He got a little bit of a knockdown as well, all for a good cause, raising money for CharityVision International. I got to say before I shoot this to the roundtable, 68, look at the shape the guy is in.


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- Republican strategist Matthew Dowd, our analysts were from candidates in both parties, Cokie Roberts and Jon Karl.

And Matthew, let me begin with you and this week, the Jeb Bush had those several different answers on how to handle the Iraq War.

You worked for his brother obviously, although you have major differences over the -- what did you see from watching Jeb this week?

What was that all about?

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's amazing to me because if you looked at the span of the field and you tried to pick up from each candidate the most fundamental question they'd have to answer, this would be the most fundamental question Jeb Bush would have to answer, on all the questions he'd have to answer, it's as if you were asking why are you running in this race; it's important the question is that he made a mistake; I think he misheard it.

But then the handling of it and the aftermath I think it's a real vulnerability. He still hasn't come to terms with. He's a candidate that everybody thought was the dominant candidate in this race. But in this week proved he isn't the dominant candidate --


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- you're pretty close to Jeb Bush. And it was pretty clear that first question he didn't hear correctly.

But why so many takes?

NAVARRO: You know, because I think everything he said in each of those days was true. I think it is true, but it's hard for him to be critical of his brother gratuitously, to prop himself up. I think it is true that he think (INAUDIBLE) past hypotheticals is not constructive. I think it is true that he thinks it's a disservice to the people who served in Iraq to talk about it in that way.

And I just think here, frankly, you know what else, he's human. And campaigns make candidates. And I think it got him -- it took him a while --


NAVARRO: -- but he's also a smart guy and I don't think it's a dog that's going to bite him twice.

COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, except other dogs will bite, other dogs with Bush attached to them, the name, will bite. And that's the fundamental question, is not so much Iraq, although that's a bad one because Iraq remains so incredibly unpopular, but other things will come up that his father and brother did that he'll be asked about. And he's got to come up with a better answer.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Jon Karl, to Matt's point, you know, I think Jeb Bush was hoping the huge war chest would sort of scare a lot of people out of the race. That is not happening. And you got new news on John Kasich.

KARL: That's right. I am told that John Kasich, of course the governor of Ohio, is virtually certain to run for president. He had a meeting with his top aides over last weekend, where he told them to go forward to begin to prepare. His family is now on board. And it is now much more likely than not that Kasich wants to enter this race

And, George, I think he will be a top tier candidate.

ROBERTS: Think of these debates. They are going to be so much fun. I mean, we're going to watch these -- this whole big cast of characters up there debating --


DOWD: I think the fundamental thing also about this is Iraq has become our generation's Vietnam, where every single person -- Hillary 's going to have to deal with it ultimately.


DOWD: And also in the end Jeb Bush is going to have to -- trust me, I have six brothers; I'm very loyal to my brothers. But when they're wrong, you have to say they're wrong. And when they're off, you say they're off.

Jeb Bush is going to have to come to terms with that in the course of this race.

KARL: It's hard to see that this has hurt him because he was already so down --

ROBERTS: That's right.

KARL: -- he has broken through nowhere. And now of course we're still very early; he's not an official candidate yet. But there is no -- there's no groundswell --


NAVARRO: -- let's also put this in perspective. It is very early. Let's just remember that it was only a few months ago when we were all having a cow because Hillary Clinton had said that she needed to pay her houses, that she was flat broke when she left.

So you know, candidates do make mistakes. And I'm glad that on the Republican side we have a vigorous debate going on. And it's going to be a very tough competition --


NAVARRO: -- what is Hillary Clinton going to do? Debate Hillary 2008?

STEPHANOPOULOS: I was just going to get to that. All the Republican candidates in Iowa yesterday, raising the issue that Hillary Clinton is not answering any questions. Let's take a look.


BUSH: Hillary Clinton has been a presidential candidate now for a month maybe and she's had 13 questions asked by the press.

PAUL: Someone needs to ask Hillary Clinton if she ever takes any questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is going to have to answer some questions.

GRAHAM: How can you run for President of the United States and never be asked a question?



ROBERTS: Well, but I don't think anybody votes on whether a candidate answers questions --


ROBERTS: Well, she's, at some point, going to have to engage, absolutely. She's -- she can't just keep doing this. But I don't think it's going to -- she's going to do it exactly how she wants to do it.

KARL: And Jeb Bush was overly generous. She's answered nine questions on your most generous count.

But she is going to need to get out there and do it. So what her folks say is that she's going to have a big campaign event, a big rally, early June. And after that, we'll see her taking some questions.

DOWD: I think Hillary's, in the end, this is being too cute by half. This is this whole idea of whatever the strategy is, they're going to protect, I'm going to protect her. She's not going to be able to make mistakes and all that. I think it's being way too cute by half.

Ultimately she has a similar problem that Jeb has, right, so that the sins of the brother, he has to deal with the sins of the brother, she has to deal with the sins of the her employer and her employer is Barack Obama. And ultimately she has to deal with --

KARL: And her husband.

DOWD: And trade.


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- but this trade issue's a real issue. Ana Navarro, Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, supported the trade promotion authority clearly not engaging now and you see a lot of Democrats saying, no, it's time for her to come out, take a stand.

NAVARRO: I think they'd like her to come out and take a stand on a host of issues. There's a lot of hypotheticals she needs to answer. You know, and it's not just Republicans smoking her out on not answering questions.

"The Washington Post" has a ticking clock going on on their website. I think it's up to 37,200 minutes since the last time she answered a question.

A presidential campaign is about scrutiny. You can't be cutesy and hide out. The last campaign article I read about Hillary Clinton said she visited Brooklyn. She ate a salad. And she took a walk.


ROBERTS: -- she really should show some leadership. That's the truth. And this is a good opportunity, actually, for her to say I absolutely -- I've been secretary of state, I know how important trade is to this country. I know that exports -- mean jobs. I know that we need to be a presence --


ROBERTS: -- that's what she should do, though.

KARL: The way her people look at this, it's much more tempting to go exactly the opposite direction. For Clinton, the politics of this primary period are virtually exactly the same as the politics for a general election. She needs to rally that base in a general election, just as she needs to --

DOWD: I think on this --

KARL: -- they would love to --

DOWD: -- I take a different tack than a lot of the Republicans do on this and a lot of others do. I think these trade pacts have benefited no middle class person in America in the course of the last 25 years.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They're unpopular.

DOWD: There's been no -- there's been no income increase to any trade agreement that's been benefited the middle class in this country. No --

ROBERTS: You tell that to --


DOWD: -- coming from Ohio, coming from industrial America, which has suffered greatly from these trade agreements, I would, if I were a Republican, I would come -- I would --


ROBERTS: -- she needs to -- I disagree with you on -- I disagree with you on the -- her rallying her base on this. I think that just the way that Republicans get in trouble when they go too far to the right in their primaries, if she goes too far to the left in her primary, then she will alienate general election voters.

NAVARRO: She has no base. She has no base to rally. And if she comes out and she comes out --

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- more than --

NAVARRO: -- but if she comes out in favor --

ROBERTS: She has a base. And she --

NAVARRO: She doesn't have a progressive base --

ROBERTS: -- very important --

NAVARRO: If she comes out in favor of this, she's taking on the biggest unspoken opponent she has, her name is Elizabeth Warren.

KARL: Looking at ultimately the way she wins is getting the Obama coalition back to the polls. They do not see this as a campaign where she's going to be trying to win over independents, win over moderates. She needs to rally that base. This would be a chance to distance herself from Obama without alienating the base.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that gets to the question, are we beyond the point now where presidential candidates have to play to the middle? Is it all about rallying your base and getting your voters out at the end?

DOWD: Well, the interesting thing about that is no. The answer -- ultimately the answer is that they think it is, but ultimately no.

The fastest growing group of -- no, that it's not only about playing your base. The fastest growing group of voters in America today is the independent voters in the country. Even though people feel like they have to put...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But they're the least engaged.

DOWD: They're the least engaged, but ultimately in -- if you look at where this election is going to be decided, which is why this trade thing I think is so important, why all the debates -- it's going to be in the industrial heartland in the Midwest among independent voters. And that's why this trade thing is so important I think in the course of this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So she's got to get it right in Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio.

ROBERTS: And she's running very closely in those states right now. She's not -- she doesn't have the same margin in the swing states that she does in the country as a whole.

NAVARRO: The truth is that this is a very strange dynamic, because let's be real, there is no democratic primary. Yes, we can pretend Bernie Sanders is running, yes we can pretend Martin O'Malley may run, but there is no democratic primary.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he's going to run. Martin O'Malley is running.

NAVARRO: Well, yes, but OK. When -- I don't mean that -- but at the end of the day, what she can't do at this point is antagonize the progressives and have them...


STEPHANOPOULOS: That's all true until somebody gets 30 percent in Iowa.

DOWD: Bernie Sanders, or somebody, is going to get a lift at some point because of what exists and her vulnerability, I believe, in the Democratic primary. They're going to get a lift. And when that person gets a lift, whether it's Bernie Sanders or Martin O'Malley, Elizabeth Warren is going to take another look at this race.

As soon as somebody catches fire other than Hillary Clinton...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, Bernie Sanders is Eugene McCarthy for Robert Kennedy is Elizabeth Warren?


ROBERTS: If Elizabeth Warren does get into the race, she will have the same effect as Gene McCarthy. I mean, she, you know, she can't win it. And so...

STEPHANOPOULOS: There's no indication right now.

ROBERTS: No. So, there's no point -- what would be the point?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Matt, we only have about a minute left, but I have to say, I was surprised by this jury in Boston on Friday -- death penalty for Dzokhar Tsarnaev.

DOWD: I was surprised, too. My personal opinion on the death penalty, I find it amazing actually that conservatives are all for the death penalty and government involvement in the taking of a life, but they're not for a government involvement in health care and saving of the life? I don't get sort of the disposition on this, guys.

I think the death penalty 20 years from now is going to be the same -- people that are for the death penalty are going to be the same place that people that are against gay marriage 20 years from now.

The death penalty is going to go the way of opposition to gay marriage.

ROBERTS: I hope you're right. I certainly hope you're right.

I hope he's right. It hasn't been the case. But, you know, now that you have doctors saying that they won't partake of it. It is sort of raising the debate.

And you're also hearing it among religious people in a way that you haven't heard it for a long time.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And this appeals process is going to keep it in the news for a long time.

NAVARRO: It is, but look, you know, there are some crimes that are so heinous and that so affect our national psyche that even liberals are OK with the death penalty. I think this is one of them.

And let's remember that this is not, this was not state court, this is federal court. It's a federal crime where it is allowed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you saw the attorney general Loretta Lynch come out in support of the verdict. Thank you all very much.

Sunday Spotlight up next. And before the break, listen to our Martha Raddatz at Kenyon College this weekend, a proud mom speaking at the graduation of her son, Jake.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I will admit that I have been agonizing over the speech, filled with self-doubt and fear, my experience in war zones aside. But last week, Jake offered some calming thoughts. Mom, he said, no one will remember what you say, anyway.

As you choose opportunities and ideas, the people you work with and those you choose to love, those who animate, inspire and energize you, will define the quality of your life's experience. Do not waste your time with people who do not help bring out the best in you.



STEPHANOPOULOS: Baltimore back in our Sunday Spotlight this week with American Pharaoh's Preakness win, second jewel in the Triple Crown, and another reminder that the city is not defined by its troubles.

Our Pierre Thomas went back to Baltimore this week to shine a light on a fascinating program that's helping students build their future in the face of daunting challenges.


PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Growing up in inner city Baltimore can be tough. Since the riots sparked by Freddie Gray's controversial death less than a month ago, 25 people have been killed, another 43 shot.

But make no mistake, in Baltimore there is hope: volunteers and parents working hand-in-hand to make sure kids have a chance.

It's after school on Wednesday, and these 10 youngsters aren't going home. They're going to the educational and support program Bridges, at St. Paul's school just outside the city limits.

There they'll find tutors and most importantly people who listen and care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It helps to kind of be like a better person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You learn new things every day.

THOMAS: But if you want to understand what the program really means: meet Rene Johnson (ph), who raised her kids as a single mom.

RENE JOHNSON (PH), SINGLE MOM: Every time I talk about Bridges, I start tearing up. A city child doesn't have like a lot of options or stuff to do. It's either sit in the house or basically go outside and get in trouble. And Bridges is a life-saver.

THOMAS: For her daughter, high school senior Tarika Parker (ph), the challenge of inner city life is sometimes inescapable.

TARIKA PARKER (PH), HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: It's no getting around it, you're in the middle of everything.

THOMAS: Since 2005, Bridges has worked with nearly 200 students starting in third grade. It's a year around effort, even in summers. Activities are tailored to students' individual needs, ranging from academic to sailing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do math, reading. We do swimming. We go on field trips every week.

THOMAS: For the fourth and fifth graders we met on Wednesday, there were sports, reading...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's about getting myself into the other end of the...

THOMAS: ...and help with homework.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our goal is to stick with these students to the end of high school and make sure that we deliver them and having some great opportunities for their future.

THOMAS: And most students make it.

PARKER (PH): I'm going to college.

THOMAS: A class of 20 in elementary school typically retains 13 to 17 young people through the end of high school. And last year with SAT prep and college guidance from Bridges, 11 of the 13 seniors in the program went on to college.

Tarika (ph) is on that track this year. In fact, she's going to Williams College on a full scholarship and a dream. She wants to become a doctor, having worked in a nearby hospital last year thanks to Bridges. Her friend Daquan Jacobs (ph) is also going to college. And he has this piece of advice for younger kids in the program.

DAQUAN JACOBS (PH), HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: Cherish each moment. Not everybody gets a chance like this, while having fun just like take key moments of it and see how that will impact you in the future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, we're out of here.

THOMAS: In Baltimore, hope bridging talent.

For This Week, Pierre Thomas, ABC News.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And good luck to those kids.

That's 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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