'This Week' Transcript: Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Elect Cory Gardner
November 9, 2014 — -- Below is the rush transcript of "This Week" on November 9th, 2014. It may contain errors.
ANNOUNCER: This Week, Republican wave: the new reality in Washington with the GOP set to take over the Senate. Can President Obama and congress really work together? The early signs of trouble and what this all means for 2016.
New threat to the homeland: the potential ticking time bomb targeting everything from our water to our power. The arms race in cyber warfare.
Obamacare under fire: the new Republican majority vowing to dismantle the president's signature accomplishment. But will the Supreme Court do it first?
And celebrating freedom...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, 40TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tear down this wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the touching tribute right now.
From ABC News, This Week with George Stephanopoulos begins now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: And we begin with that emotional homecoming overnight for the last two Americans held prisoner in North Korea. Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller touched down in Washington State on an air force jet. Their release secured when America's spy chief James Clapper hand delivered a secret letter from the president to North Korea's leader Kim Jong un.
After hugs from his family, Bae reflected on two years in captivity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNETH BAE, RELEASED FROM NORTH KOREA: I learned a lot. I grew a lot. Lost a lot of weight in a good way, but I still am strong because of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: All of this happening as President Obama heads to Asia this week, leaving behind a capital shaken up by that mid-term election earthquake. The GOP now in solid control of congress, the president's team scrambling to salvage its final two years. And we're going to analyze all the fallout this morning beginning with Jon Karl at the White House. Good morning, Jon.
JON KARL, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, George.
The president departed overnight and will spend the next week on the other side of the world, seeking to redirect U.S. foreign policy towards Asia while here at home the new Republican leadership gets settled in.
The president has already broken bread with congressional leaders, but he is off to a rocky start with Republicans.
KARL: It was a lunch that brought no real breakthroughs and apparently no smiles either.
The president acknowledged the message from Tuesday night's drubbing of Democrats was loud and clear.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people just want to see work done here in Washington. They'd like to see more cooperate and I think all of us have the responsibility, me in particular, to try to make that happen.
KARL: But despite the election wave that swept Republicans in the control of the Senate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time for a new way forward.
KARL: President Obama insists he'll still take executive action on immigration reform before the end of the year in defiance of Republicans in congress.
OBAMA: If they want to get a bill done, whether it's during the lame duck or next year, I'm eager to see what they have to offer. But what I'm not going to do is just wait.
KARL: And the White House says there's no backing down on that.
Even before he's had a chance to sit down to talk with them about it, he is completely closed to the idea of delaying this executive action, not even willing to talk to them about delaying it.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He's going to take that executive action before the end of the year.
KARL: But Republican leaders warned if the president goes around congress on immigration, it will poison the well on virtually everything.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) OHIO: When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself. And he's going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY: It's like waving a red flag in front of a bull to say if you guys don't do what I want, I'm going to do it on my own.
KARL: So what issues show the biggest chances for actual agreement? There are bipartisan calls for action on trade, corporate tax reform, infrastructure spending and the Keystone Pipeline. And despite their track record, President Obama and Republicans showed some signs they may be ready to turn the page.
MCCONNELL: And just because you have divided government doesn't mean you don't accomplish anything.
OBAMA: I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell. So I think we can have a productive relationship.
KARL: For Democrats, Tuesday was certainly a drubbing, but it's hardly unprecedented. In fact, going all the way back to World War II, all four presidents who served two full terms faced a congress controlled by the opposing party for their last two years -- George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is what happens. OK, Jon, thanks very much.
Overseas, the president finds himself in a position he did not anticipate, certainly did not want, sending more troops to Iraq.
The White House announced Friday was doubling the number of troops in the fight against ISIS. And ABC's chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz is on that story.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Doubling down against ISIS in Iraq. First it was 300 troops on the ground to protect diplomats, growing to almost 1,600 train and advice, now up to 3,100 approved. Not to mention hundreds of airstrikes, including these on the besieged town of Kobani this weekend.
So what will these troops do? Outside Irbil and Baghdad, two expeditionary operation centers will be built to advise and assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces. And at least four additional training sites will be set up in the volatile north, south and al Anbar Province in the West.
The White House insists these are not combat troops, but that is some hot territory, ISIS strongholds, no question they'll be in more danger.
And Americans in Iraq will get, quote, an appropriate array of force protection capabilities, which will likely mean attack helicopters.
Matt Bradley (ph) has been reporting on the ground in Iraq for 18 months. We spoke to him on Skype from Baghdad.
MATT BRADLEY, JOURNALIST: Most Iraqis know that the Obama administration is going to stick to the commitment that it's made to not deploy these troops into a wartime scenario. But they do see this as one more step towards the inevitable. There has to be U.S. troops on the ground, because the Iraqi military is simply incapable of fighting the Islamic State.
RADDATZ: And this week, President Obama saying he'll ask for even more support from congress.
OBAMA: I'm going to begin engaging congress over a new authorization to use military force against ISIL.
RADDATZ: And when one of the most powerful voices in the newly elected Republican Senate says things like this...
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: We need to understand that the president is the commander-in-chief and that role I do not believe should be impinged upon by the congress.
RADDATZ: ...the president just might get his wish.
For This Week, Martha Raddatz, ABC News, Washington.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Martha for that. And we're joined now by Republican Congressman Darrel Issa, chair of the House oversight and government reform committee. Thank you for joining us, congressman.
Are you prepared to vote for an authorization of this mission in Iraq?
REP. DARRELL ISSA, (R) CALIFORNIA: I am, George. I was just in both Baghdad and Irbil in addition to six other nations in the Middle East between August -- and Irbil just a few weeks ago. The fact is we're already there. We've had to be there. The government in Baghdad is still quite delusional, if you will, about what the real impact is. They're still talking about long-term training before they're ready to fight.
So the fact is that if we're to protect the gains we made against Islamic extremism, my marines from Camp Pendleton and others are going to have to go back again.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They're going to go back.
Should they be in a combat position?
ISSA: Iraqis should fight for their country. There's no question at all. They've been trained and they should do it.
The fact is the Kurds are willing to do it. I have no doubt whatsoever that the Kurds will fight. And all they need is our air support and our technical know how and they will do it.
When it comes to the Sunni-Shia divide that the Maliki government created, it makes it very, very hard to put together the kind of military units that they should have. That remains to be seen of whether or not the substantial portion of that 800,000 people we trained are willing to fight.
The fact is by the time they started fleeing, we were down to a quarter of a million. And when I met with the government they said, well, we have about 8,000 who will fight. I think they have to do better.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me turn to the broader issues facing the president and congress in these next couple of years. The president is making it very clear he's going to act on immigration on his own before the end of the year. What are the consequences?
ISSA: Well, the consequences are lost opportunities. In the last congress, I authored the skills visa act that not only would have allowed and promoted the best and the brightest being allowed to remain here and add to our economy, these STEM, if you will, graduates, but it scored $100 billion of new revenue to the government that can be paired with other immigration reforms. And if the president is willing to work with us in the House and the Senate we could make that happen.
STEPHANOPOULOS: If not, shutting down the government?
ISSA: I'm not predicting what the result will be other than in my 14 years on judiciary and the work I've tried to do on immigration, time and time again people have missed opportunities.
The fact is our farmers in California need an effective worker program. The reality is that we send home to foreign countries the best and the brightest from around the world when in fact they'd like to stay here and add to our economy.
We need to work together to solve both of those problems. I'm hoping the president will delay and have a real comprehensive discussion about what's possible because a great deal is possible on immigration reform.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let's see if he takes your advice. Congressman Issa, thanks very much for your time this morning.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now to that major new threat targeting our nation's critical infrastructure. We learn this week that hackers have broken into the computers controlling our utilities, the lifelines for water, gas and power. Our experts here to weigh in on the dangerous consequences and what can be done to prevent them after this from ABC's senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The FAA just issued a critical alert. The entire network went down.
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: In the movie Live Free or Die Hard, hackers are able to shut down the nation's power grid and transportation networks. That kind of dramatic threat may not just be the stuff of Hollywood fiction, but in fact closer to reality than you think.
Sources tell ABC News, hackers from overseas secretly planted malicious software inside computer systems serving our nation's most important services and industries: water treatment facilities, power plants, gas pipelines -- all critical for daily life, now potentially at risk.
(on camera): Authorities believe this electronica Trojan horse was inserted into computer systems years ago, but has not been activated. They've given this malicious code an ominous name -- black energy.
(voice-over): In theory, black energy could allow a hacker to turn off a generator, flood a water treatment plant or shut down a gas pipeline. The threat is ongoing. ABC News obtained a new Homeland Security bulletin that warns utility owners and operators to look for signs of compromise and to report any suspected intrusion immediately.
U.S. officials are worried because they have hard evidence that such a cyber attack is possible.
In this test, government hackers forced this generator to self-destruct with a series of simple key strokes.
Watch. The generator is literally shaking itself apart.
As for black energy, the primary suspects, operatives tied to the Russian government and sources say it resembles malicious software used in recent attacks on NATO and unclassified White House computer systems.
It may all point to the beginning of a new cold war, with the Internet as part of the battlefield.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terrorism is still the number one national security threat. But we've seen cyber grow at an -- at an alarming rate. And the threat that we face, the number of actors, the number of breaches, this is a real problem.
THOMAS: It's a new world where threats you cannot see can reach out and touch you.
For THIS WEEK, Pierre Thomas, ABC News, Washington.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Pierre.
We're joined now by ABC News contributor, former White House counterterrorism adviser, Richard Clarke, and Democratic Congressman Jim Langevin from the Armed Services Committee.
Welcome to you both.
And Richard, let me begin with you.
Since you've left the government you've devoted a lot of time and study to the threat from cyber attacks. And you've concluded that we're a lot more vulnerable now than we were then?
RICHARD CLARKE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: I think that's right. I think nation states have been building cyber armies, cyber commands, including the United States, and there's probably a half dozen nations around the world that have already put these logic bombs in each other's networks, not that they're going to use them, unless they go to war.
So unless we and the Soviet Union...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's what I don't understand. So -- so explain that a little bit, this black energy malware, which is now in our systems, we believe.
Why just park there?
CLARKE: Well, because you won't be able to get in when you can get in, that may be that if you wait, it will be too late to get in, new defenses will be created. You want to have the ability to push a button when the war starts and bring the enemy to his knees.
And so most modern nations now have tried this with their potential enemies.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Congressman, you know, the federal government has also studied these threats to the power grid and showing the vulnerability of our power grid, attacks on a small number of transmission stations could create a coast-to-coast blackout, larger scale attacks could cause the whole power grid to collapse.
How serious is this threat?
REP. JIM LANGEVIN (D), RHODE ISLAND: It is -- it is very serious and I've been talking about this for a number of years, going back to about 2007 when I chaired the Homeland Security subcommittee that had jurisdiction over cyber security. And we did a deep dive on this, looking at how vulnerable critical infrastructure is, in particular, how vulnerable our electric grid is. And we found that it's very vulnerable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So what could happen?
LANGEVIN: Idaho National Labs actually did that study that showed that the -- the generator, through a skater (ph) attack, that's a SCADA attack, that's a Systems Control and Data Acquisition System attack, could be used to cause a generator or a number of generators, to blow themselves up.
And you could see a whole sector of the country without electricity for a period of not just days or weeks, but potentially months, because these generators are -- are large. They're not just like batteries that are sitting on a shelf that you can, you know, take one out and plug another one in.
These generators take months to build, ship and install.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So Richard Clarke, what can be done to prevent that?
CLARKE: Well, very little. The thing here to really bear in mind is this is not about to happen. We have nuclear weapons. We haven't used them. We have cyber weapons and we've seldom used them.
The United States did do a cyber attack on Iran and destroyed some nuclear centrifuges.
But this is a contingency and it's very unlikely that it will be used by nation states.
The real worry is that eventually, non-state actors, maybe even terrorist groups, will gain those capability.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that the real threat, Congressman?
LANGEVIN: You know, just -- yes, it is the real threat. And Richard hit it right on the point right now.
Right now, these -- these worst weapons and cyber weapons are in the hands of nation states who have the capability but not necessarily the will to use them. But then you have groups like ISIL or al Qaeda, that certainly would have the intent, but not the weapons.
And that -- that gap, that divide, if you will, seems to be becoming much more narrow and eventually the worst actors will have the worst weapons and they potentially will use them against us.
I've been trying to raise the alarm on this, as Richard has been, to try to close that aperture of vulnerability. This is not a problem that we're ever going to be -- that we're ever going to solve. It's one that we need to manage.
We need to close the aperture of vulnerability to something that is much more manageable.
So what we need to do in Congress is pass an information sharing bill. That bill passed and was unanimous out of the House Intelligence Committee, on which I sit. It passed the House with strong bipartisan support. And now we're waiting for the Senate to take it up.
That would allow classified threat information to be passed to the private sector and for the private sector to pass the -- the threats or the -- the attacks that they're experiencing back to the government so that information could be more widely shared.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's hope that happens...
LANGEVIN: You also need stronger regulatory control.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, let's hope that happens...
LANGEVIN: You also need the stronger regulatory control...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- (INAUDIBLE).
LANGEVIN: -- (INAUDIBLE).
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you both for your time this morning.
Coming up, a surprising decision from the Supreme Court on ObamaCare.
Is Chief Justice John Roberts about to reverse course and strike down the heart of the law?
Plus, one of election day's big new stars joins us live.
The roundtable weighs in on what it all means for 2016.
We're back in just two minutes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The new Republican majority is vowing to dismantle ObamaCare.
But in a surprise move on Friday, the Supreme Court signaled it could do that on its own -- a decision the president could not undo with his veto pen.
ABC's Terry Moran explains in our Closer Look.
TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the moment President Obama signed his centerpiece legislation back in 2010...
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are done.
MORAN: -- The Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare, has survived one near death experience after another, none more dramatic than the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to uphold the law in 2012.
Now, ObamaCare is once again in the judicial and political crosshairs. House Speaker John Boehner made that crystal clear after the Republican midterm stampede.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The House, I'm sure, at some point next year, will move to repeal ObamaCare because it should be repealed. It should be replaced.
MORAN: But that idea is likely going nowhere. President Obama, who wields a veto power that would be tough to override, said he'd fight to save his biggest achievement.
OBAMA: Repeal of the law I won't sign. Efforts that would take away health care from the 10 million people who now have it and the millions more who are eligible to get it, we're not going to support.
MORAN: And now, the Supreme Court will weigh in again, this time drilling deep into the dense detail of the law, where opponents say there is a fatal flaw. Those subsidies to help millions of Americans buy insurance, opponents say the law clearly states they must come through state insurance exchanges.
But dozens of states refuse to set up those exchanges. So the Obama administration provided the subsidies on the federal insurance exchange, too. And that, opponents say, is illegal.
But supporters, including the law's authors, they say Congress always intended that subsidies should be available to every American who qualifies for them. The stakes couldn't be higher. Millions of Americans would lose health care and ObamaCare itself collapse if the court rules against the administration.
So the fate of this law and of President Obama's legacy could once again come down to a single vote on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts.
For THIS WEEK, Terry Moran, ABC News.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks, Terence (ph).
To talk about this now, Jonathan Cohn, senior editor of "The New Republic," that magazine marking its 100th anniversary this month; and Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network and "National Review" online.
And Jonathan, let me begin with you. You wrote in "The New Republic" on Friday that this decision is alarming -- why?
JONATHAN COHN, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": Well, it's alarming because if four justices have said they want to hear the case, there's a chance that it could go forward. And I think it's important to recognize what we're talking about here.
This is an attempt to repeal the law effectively take insurance away from four, five, several million people in 36 states, because of what is basically a typo. Legislation is complicated. There's this one passage that the opponents have seized upon.
They read it out of context. They ignore what the sponsors of the law say now. And they say, aha, because of this, we should yank insurance away from millions of people and --
STEPHANOPOULOS: A typo, Carrie Severino?
CARRIE SEVERINO, JUDICIAL CRISIS NETWORK: Absolutely not. Even the architect of the law -- we're talking about this -- the section was designed to ensure that the states do participate.
The states, however, saw that this was a mess. There's 36 states that say we don't want to have to do with implementing ObamaCare. So they didn't set up exchanged. The law couldn't be clearer. It says exchanges established by a state and that changing that to exchanges established by the federal government, that's not interpretation, as the district court said in this case; that's distortion.
I think it's an easy. I think that's what the Supreme Court will --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Jonathan, how do you explain that? Is the plain meaning of the word state a state, isn't it?
COHN: Well, if you read that one clause and in the passage of the law, it says state. And of course state was used in many different respects throughout the law.
And if you read the rest of the law, it is very, very clear that the expectation was that everybody could get subsidies. To read that passage of the law that way would basically trade what is a law that would be at war with itself.
It's inconsistent with the way the Congressional Budget Office evaluated the law. It's inconsistent with memos and three things that were given at the time of the law.
And you don't have to take my word for it. The members of Congress who voted for this, the congressional staffers who wrote this, if you ask them now, they all say, of course we meant for everybody to have the subsidies. That was the whole point.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So it depends on whether you look at the text or the history.
But Carrie, as Terry said in his piece, this is likely to come down to Justice -- Chief Justice John Roberts. He upheld the law the first time around.
Do you believe he wants to reverse himself?
SEVERINO: I think the challenge here is that the law is very clear. Sure, maybe Congress members didn't realize that states weren't going to play ball. They thought dangling this carrot was going to be enough to get all the states to get on board.
But this law's a mess. The American people have rejected it. I think that's why the states didn't want to get involved. And I think you'll see the court is going to want to hold Congress to the words that it signed and that it passed and the president signed the text of the law is very clearly what it is.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you think the court is going to strike you down, Jonathan Cohn, 15 seconds, do you agree?
COHN: I don't. I think this would be a remarkably political move by a Republican court basically doing for the Republicans what they can't do legislatively, which is to take insurance away from millions of people who are getting it from this law; which, by the way, is working and working pretty well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, we will find out in June.
Carrie Severino, Jonathan Cohn, thanks very much.
Up next, Senator-Elect Cory Gardner, he flipped Colorado for the GOP.
Can he change Washington, too?
Plus which presidential hopeful from the Republican side got the biggest boost from the midterms?
Was Hillary helped or hurt?
That's all coming up in just two minutes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARDNER: As Republicans in Colorado, we’ve gotten used to the saying, wait until the next election. Well, I’ve got news for you. That next election, it finally happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is the new Republican senator from Colorado, Cory Gardner, riding a big smile and skillful campaign to a big win in that battleground state that President Obama won twice. Senator-elect joins us from Colorado this morning. Senator, thank you for joining us this morning. So give me a headline sentence. What was the message the voters were sending Tuesday night?
GARDNER: That what’s happening in Washington, D.C. is not working. It’s not as much about Republicans or Democrats as it is about the fact that the direction, the policies of Washington aren’t working for the people of this state or this country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So how do you fix it, coming right out of the box?
GARDNER: Well, you have to fix it right out of the box, I believe, by working together, Republicans and Democrats, putting ideas forward on the president’s desk, ideas that the broad majority of American people support, and showing that we can govern. I think it’s important that Republicans show that we can govern maturely, that we can govern with competence. And if we do that, in two years from now, we’ll have a good result again with our nominee. If we don’t, we’ll see the same results two years from now, but in a different direction.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Does that include repealing Obamacare or going for something the president can sign first?
GARDNER: I do think we need to repeal and replace Obamacare, but the president named Obama is not going to repeal a bill named Obamacare. And so let’s put on his desk things like repealing the medical device tax, making sure that we can repeal the IPAD board. These are things that have bipartisan support. Restore the 40-hour workweek. These have bipartisan support, and it shows the American people that we are serious about our intention to govern.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And does that mean taking things like shutting down the government off the table?
GARDNER: Well, the government shutdown is a bad idea anytime, anywhere.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we saw the president -- we know there’s going to be a showdown coming on immigration as well. The president reiterating that he’s prepared to go it alone to provide more protections for undocumented immigrants now in the country. What does that mean for cooperation and how will Republicans in the Senate and the House respond?
GARDNER: I hope that the immigration reform effort by the House and the Senate will gain speed and momentum. I supported immigration reform and believe we need to go there, but the question is this: Will the president do the right thing? And I think the president will do the right thing when it comes to immigration reform. And that is working with the House and the Senate instead of going around the House and the Senate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don’t believe him when he says he’s going to issue that executive order?