'This Week' Transcript: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Sen. Marco Rubio
May 11, 2014— -- Below is the rush transcript of "This Week" on May 11, 2014. It may contain errors.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Now on ABC THIS WEEK, desperate search. The clock is ticking in the frantic hunt for hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls. Did the Nigerian government ignore the warnings? This morning, brand new details, including the latest from the Secretary of Defense.
Rocky week, the Benghazi firestorm reignites and Monica Lewinsky reappears. Will it take a toll on Hillary's plans for 2016?
Plus Senator Marco Rubio, can the one-time Tea Party star still win over the GOP? We're on the trail in New Hampshire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Do you think you're ready to be president?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLA. (voice-over): I do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): From ABC News, THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS begins now.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. I'm Martha Raddatz.
Happy Mother's Day. So much to cover this morning, including Michael Sam's emotional and history-making moment at the NFL draft.
But first dramatic developments in Nigeria, where we've learned U.S. surveillance aircraft are on the way if needed to help in the urgent search for hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls. And there are new questions about whether warnings before the kidnapping were ignore.
ABC's Hamish Macdonald has the very latest.
HAMISH MACDONALD, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This morning Nigeria's government is facing damning allegations that security forces knew four hours before the attack that Boko Haram was coming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This for us is shocking and it's embarrassing and it's kind of shows that there's an abhorrent lack of political will.
MACDONALD (voice-over): The claims are made in an Amnesty International investigation. But the defense ministry says here the report is unfortunate and untrue.
We do know Nigeria's government took time before it sent in international help. There are now two dozen U.S. personnel on the ground including the military in a support role only. But the surveillance and reconnaissance assets heading to Nigeria now could help immensely in the search and may include aircraft, capable not only of visual surveillance, but those which could pick up so fine conversations in real time.
CIA Director John Brennan has indicate to Jorge Ramos (ph) on our sister network, Fusion, there is scope to do more.
JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: We have officers on the ground in many parts of the world. And so we're able to bring to bear the capabilities that we need, the people that we need.
MACDONALD (voice-over): Support for the girls is spreading globally from the pope on Twitter to the first lady.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters.
MACDONALD: The question now is whether all of this international support will actually make it easier or harder for the families to get their girls back safely.
MACDONALD (voice-over): There is a perceived risk here that pressure from outside could force Nigeria's president to take a more hardline approach. And that could endanger the girls. For THIS WEEK, Hamish Macdonald, in Abuja, Nigeria.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to Hamish.
Now to new developments on the crisis in Ukraine. Voters in Eastern Ukraine deciding right now if they want to split off and become an independent state, a move that could push the country even closer to civil war.
Alex Marquardt and Terry Moran are tracking it for us. We start with Alex.
ALEX MARQUARDT, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Martha. People have been streaming all day into polling stations like this one to cast their votes in this hastily arranged referendum. This is the ballot; it asks a rather ambiguous question about more independence for this region. Ever voter we've spoken with, every ballot we've seen says yes, this vote will pass overwhelmingly.
But there are no official monitors. They don't even have the latest voter registration rolls, and no real way to make sure voters don't vote more than once. And it's hard to say in concrete terms what this vote will mean beyond deepening divisions in this country.
Anger is on the rise here, particularly following several violent and deadly incidents in which pro-Russian protesters were killed. Today's referendum is happening despite calls from Russian President Vladimir Putin to delay it. But for more from the Russian side, we go to my colleague, Terry Moran, in Moscow.
TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Alex.
We've seen a dramatic shift in tone from President Putin about those separatists in Eastern Ukraine. He's keeping them at arm's length and now calling for dialogue among all Ukrainians. Of course, he also said he was pulling back the 40,000 Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, but U.S. and NATO officials say they still haven't seen that.
Right now Putin is riding sky high politically. There was that dramatic defiant victory lap in Crimea on Friday. Last night he even hit the ice in an exhibition hockey game and he scored six goals. From the start of this crisis, Putin has kept everyone guessing, including the Russian people, applying pressure, backing off as needed; but one thing is for certain, Putin is determined to maintain maximum Russian influence in Ukraine and block it from joining the West. And he will use today's referendum as he sees fit to achieve that goal -- Martha.
RADDATZ: Thanks, Terry.
Now to a football first: an NFL team drafting an openly gay player. Michael Sam had to wait until the seventh round last night but check out this emotional reaction when he finally got that history-making phone call from the coach of the St. Louis Rams.
RADDATZ (voice-over): A lot of tears and a kiss for his boyfriend, "USA Today's" Christine Brennan joins me now.
Christine, history-making indeed.
What does this mean for the NFL's culture, for the fans?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, "USA TODAY": Well, you just mentioned the culture. The NFL is by far the most popular league in the country, Martha. And if he had not been drafted, can you imagine the questions, what's wrong, why, NFL, why in 2014 --
RADDATZ: And there was a while there we thought he wouldn't be --
BRENNAN: Oh, it went forever, only seven players after him.
But there were questions about his skill based on the combine and the way he worked out. But it was just, I think, the right moment; the NFL needed this. I think the country needed this.
RADDATZ: A lot of social media came in last night and one from the Dolphins' second year defensive back Don Jones, who tweeted out, "OMG" right after the video of the kiss aired and when someone asked if he was referring to the embrace, he responded, "Horrible." They've since taken that tweet down.
BRENNAN: The Dolphins, of course, were the ones with the bullying story that continues.
The NFL has been, in many ways, that last bastion of male supremacy. And yet there were gay players, of course, who were not out, even the '60s and '70s. So this is going to drag the NFL into the 21st century. I think it's about time.
RADDATZ: And going forward, if he doesn't do well -- I mean, all eyes will certainly be on Michael Sam.
BRENNAN: Oh, now the question becomes does he make the team. Jason Collins, of course, is playing the playoffs in the NBA, the first openly gay man in the NBA and now, of course, the question will be can Michael Sam make the Rams.
And I think that will be an issue. And I think he'll be able to do it because he's a very, very good player. The coplayer of the year, the defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference.
RADDATZ: And a new generation of fans coming up --
BRENNAN: Well, exactly, 40 percent of the fans are female in the NFL and all these young --
RADDATZ: Young, young, young.
BRENNAN: -- right, the 80-year-old fan isn't going to be around 20 years from now. But the 20-year old will. And they have a very different view of this.
RADDATZ: Thanks so much, Christine.
Now to the scandal at the nation's V.A. hospitals. Outrage growing this weekend over the way men and women who serve our country are treated when they return home.
Now both families and Congress are demanding answers from the Obama administration official in charge. ABC's Jim Avila has the latest.
JIM AVILA, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It started here, the Phoenix V.A., where 40 veterans died while waiting for a doctor's appointment. An inside whistleblower doctor telling Congress delays of up to 21 months were hidden from Washington bosses so his immediate superiors could earn bonuses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Patients were dying because of it. And that's the point where we said, you know, we can't take this anymore.
AVILA (voice-over): Patients like Phoenix vet and Purple Heart winner Ralph Nicastro (ph), who died after waiting months for a specialist visit to diagnose the lump found on his neck after a routine checkup.
He kept this journal, documenting the calls he made for 15 months, trying to schedule a V.A. visit that never came.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're all making calls again to the Phoenix V.A.
Why the hell can't our federal government at the V.A. do this for our fighting soldiers that have given their arms, their sight, their legs and their life for this country?
AVILA (voice-over): The V.A. says it's investigating these serious charges and is conducting a nationwide audit. And there's pressure for the V.A. secretary, Eric Shinseki, to resign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is universal outrage. Our members are so disappointed and are really betrayed. You know, they've been at war for over a decade. Our members did their part. The V.A.'s not doing theirs.
AVILA (voice-over): This week Shinseki is scheduled to testify before Congress. For THIS WEEK, Jim Avila, ABC News, Washington.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to Jim. That V.A. scandal, one of the topics we took straight to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in our exclusive interview yesterday.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC (voice-over): It's a scandal that's shaken military families across the country, so should it cost Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki his job? Already the American Legion has called on the retired four-star general and Vietnam vet to step aside.
RADDATZ: Should General Shinseki be accountable?
CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, there's no one who understands accountability more than General Shinseki.
RADDATZ: Does he have your support now?
HAGEL: I do support General Shinseki. But there's no margin here. If this, in fact, or any variation of this occurred, all the way along the chain, accountability is going to have to be upheld here because we can never let this kind of outrage, if all of this is true, stand in this country.
RADDATZ: The average wait is five months.
Is that taking care of our veterans?
HAGEL: No, it's not good enough obviously. It has to be better.
RADDATZ: Shouldn't we have predicted that there would be a backlog?
We were in the middle of two wars. We had tens of thousands -- millions deployed during this period?
And no one predicted that, including General Shinseki.
HAGEL: I don't think it just started with General Shinseki's term at the V.A. This -- this is something that should have been looked at years and years ago.
So, yes, we -- we missed it.
RADDATZ (voice-over): Meanwhile, Hagel has that other crisis to deal with, the urgent search to find those kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria. The U.S. already has support the midterms on the ground.
(on camera): Give us a reality check.
How hard is it going to be to find these girls?
HAGEL: It's going to be very difficult. It's -- it's a vast country. So this is not going to -- going to be an easy task. But we're going to bring to bear every asset we can possibly use to help the Nigerian government.
RADDATZ: I know one of the things people keep saying is why wouldn't U.S. Special operators go in and try to find the girls, if -- if they are located?
HAGEL: Yes, well, I think you look at everything. But there's no intention, at this point, to be putting any American boots on the ground there.
RADDATZ (voice-over): Hagel is also keeping a close eye on new developments in Ukraine, where satellite images this week showed Vladimir Putin's troops aren't going anywhere -- still massed along the Ukraine border.
(on camera): What are they doing?
Why aren't they leaving?
HAGEL: Well, they're not leaving, as far as we can tell. You have to ask President Putin as to why he says they're leaving and when, in fact, they're not leaving.
RADDATZ: Should Russia be considered an enemy?
HAGEL: Well, you know, it's easy to categorize an enemy. We're not at war with Russia.
So do you find -- do you define an enemy as being at war or not at war?
HAGEL: -- an adversary in Ukraine, sure. But -- but I -- I think that's a little simplistic to get into -- to either enemy, friend, partner, so on.
Russia continues to isolate itself for a short-term gain, they -- the Russians may feel that somehow they're winning.
But the world is not about just short-term.
RADDATZ (voice-over): One of the long-term issues Hagel has been focusing on, cybersecurity and the growing threat from cyber attacks, especially now that the Pentagon relies more on advanced technology, like drones.