‘This Week’ Transcript: Sec. Jeh Johnson, Sen. Elizabeth Warren

ByABC News
April 25, 2014, 12:46 PM
PHOTO: 'This Week' Roundtable
ABC News Political Analyst and ABC News Special Correspondent Matthew Dowd, ABC News Contributor and The Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol, ABC News Contributor and New York Times Columnist Paul Krugman and Fusion's "AM Tonight" Host Alicia Menendez on 'This Week'
ABC News

April 27, 2014— -- Below is the rush transcript of "This Week" on April 20, 2014. It may contain errors.


ANNOUNCER: On ABC This Week, targeting terror.


ANNOUNCER: We're all access and behind the scenes with the Homeland Security secretary revealing the new threats that keep him up at night.

JOHNSON: We had two bomb threats. We're looking at everything.

ANNOUNCER: Making history -- Pope Francis elevates two popes to sainthood, hundreds of thousands pack Saint Peters Square. And we're in the middle of it all.

On a mission...

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Come on, step up your game.

ANNOUNCER: Elizabeth Warren's fiery message is energizing Democrats.

Plus, Robin Roberts looks back on her historic conversation.

ROBIN ROBERTS, GOOD MORNING AMERICA: There was a point where I was thinking to myself can someone else do this interview?

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


STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, lots of ground to cover today. And we begin in Rome where half a million pilgrims now packing Saint Peters Square to witness a moment in history. Two living popes together to canonize two former popes.

ABC's chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran is on the scene for the ceremony. Good morning, Terry.

TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, George. And what a morning it's been. the atmosphere electric here among the more than a million pilgrims, they believe, showed up. And they streamed into Saint Peters Square, beginning at dawn, filling the place, the long avenues to witness that moment, the high ceremony of the Catholic church.

Pope Francis with Pope Benedict in attendance, making saints of two of their predecessors, John Paul II, John XXIII.

And throughout the crowd really at that moment a remarkable quiet, a sense of reverence in this vast crowd.

Pope Francis concluding the ceremony and touring around in his popemobile, electrifying the crowd even more.

What does it mean for Catholics here? They said now that John Paul II and John XXIII, popes they grew up with, are saints, they feel they have two new friends in heaven.


MORAN: Two popes, two saints: in 2,000 years the Catholic Church has never seen anything like it.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN, ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK: Saints are important to us in the Catholic imagination. They're -- we look to them for help.

MORAN: Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York is here, one of more than 100 cardinals arriving from around the world.

DOLAN: These two have such a universal acclaim that you talk about the voice of the faithful, the voice of the people speaking up and saying these two are saints. It's almost like Pope Francis saying, "I agree with you."

MORAN: Both the new saints were men of the media age. They were religious celebrities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are not saints that are in the far pages of history, these are saints who so many of us knew, felt like we knew. We know what they did. They were part of our lives.

MORAN: John Paul II globalized the papacy, making 104 foreign trips, visiting 129 countries. And he arrived on the scene with a vitality that electrified millions, secular as well as religious, even in the United States.

POPE JOHN PAUL II: God bless America.

MORAN: And John Paul reigned in what he saw as excessively liberal trends unleashed by Vatican II, the council by John XXIII a generation earlier. John declared he wanted to throw open the windows of the church, and liberals rejoiced.

But the fact that both these popes will be made saints at the same moment says something about the pope who is doing it: Francis.

DOLAN: Francis is saying I'm a little tired of these intramural divisions in the church. I don't like all this arguing. So he says, guess what, I'm going to build a bridge and bring them both together. And bring the church closer together.

MORAN: Francis bent the church rules for both the popes he made saints. For John XXIII, he waived the usual requirement of a second miracle. For John Paul II, he continued the fast track to sainthood begun by Pope Benedict. And that has stirred some controversy, especially for John Paul whose long papacy was shadowed by the church sex abuse scandal.

DOLAN: They would be the first to shake their heads and say you must not have known us very well, because we're not saints.

Saints, first and foremost know that they're sinners.

MORAN: In the end, perhaps, this is where the saints are really made, not in the grand ceremonies of the church or their own private struggles, but in the hearts and lives of the people they touched.

Terry Moran, ABC News, Vatican City.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And we turn now to President Obama and the crisis in Ukraine. Stepping up the war of words overnight, calling out Vladimir Putin who seems undeterred by the prospect of new sanctions hitting as soon as tomorrow.

ABC's chief White House correspondent Jon Karl is on the road with the president.


JON KARL, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Even as he travels in Asia this week, President Obama has had to deal with the escalating conflict in Russia at every turn.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With respect to Russia and Ukraine uniformly condemning Russia's actions.

KARL: It's the country he once banked on building closer ties to. Remember this open mic moment with then Russian President Medvedev?

OBAMA: After my election, I have more flexibility.

KARL: But now President Obama finds relations with Vladimir Putin at a new low, as he prepares to slap a new round of sanctions likely to come early next week.

(on camera): Did you misjudge him, or did he mislead you? And at this point, isn't it clear that sanctions simply are not going to change his behavior?

OBAMA: President Putin is not a stupid man. And I think recently acknowledged that this has already had an impact.

KARL: But will you acknowledge sanctions may simply not change his behavior?

OBAMA: Jon, I think that -- I think that's self apparent. I think there are no guarantees in life, generally, and certainly no guarantees in foreign policy.

KARL: The only sure thing in Ukraine has been more conflict. Just this weekend, Pro-Russian forces in the east went so far as to detain eight international observers. ABC News's Muhammad Lila saw firsthand how heavily armed Russian separatists are fortifying their positions.

(on camera): All afternoon we've been seeing pro-Russian volunteers come, put down more tires, to reinforce these barricades.

(voice-over): They weren't happy to see the cameras.

(on camera): It's very clear that they don't want people to see what's going on.


KARL: The new sanctions will target Putin's billionaire cronies. But President Obama is holding off on broader sanctions that would target whole sectors of the Russian economy. He explained today that those only make sense if Europe goes along. And so far, George, that's been a tough sell.


And the president also made news on another front overnight, weighing on that firestorm rocking the NBA. It all began when TMZ released this audio tape said to be L.A. Clippers own Don Stirling making a series of racist remarks to a girlfriend. Here's part of the tape.


V. STIVIANO, DON STIRLING'S GIRLFRIEND: People call you and tell you that I have black people on my Instagram and it bothers you.

DON STIRLING, OWNER, L.A. CLIPPERS: Yeah, it bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?

The little I ask you is not to promote it on that and not to bring them to my games.


KARL: George, the president was asked a direct question about those tapes, but it was a little surprising that he weighed in so forcefully and so quickly. The authenticity of the tapes hasn't even been confirmed yet. Take a listen.


OBAMA: When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk. And that's what happened here.


KARL: White House officials say the president wasn't planning to weigh in on this controversy, but when he was asked a question about it, it was natural that he would weigh in so forcefully. As one aide put it, basketball and race are two things this president knows well -- George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No question about that.

Let's bring in ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, been covering this story since it first broke. Stephen, thanks for joining us this morning. We saw that press conference by the NBA commission Adam Silver last night promising a quick investigation and action. What do you expect?

STEPHEN A. SMITH, ESPN ANALYST: Well, I expect them to do exactly what he said. They're going to investigate it, and if they can authenticate the fact that that is indeed Donald Stirling's voice on that tape, then I think that you'll look for him to meet with the owners and to try to bring down some heavy fine, potentially a suspension on the part of Donald Stirling.

I'm just not sure that will be enough in light of these allegations based on what we've heard on that tape, George, to be quite honest with you. I think you're going to hear people clamoring for significantly stiffer penalties, meaning the owners getting together and possibly moving Donald Stirling out as ownership.

I don't think that'll be easy, no doubt about it, but you're going to hear people calling for that in the days to come.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You've already heard players like LeBron James say there's no place for him in the league, for this in the league. And I know you were reporting on the Clippers having a meeting before their game, before the game yesterday and talking about the possibility of even boycotting not playing.

SMITH: Well, it was something that they broached. They discussed it. But in the end, they weren't going to do that, because they recognize this is about themselves, this is not about Donald Stirling. All the hard work that they put in throughout these years in pursuit of a dream of capturing an NBA championship. They're not going to let his thoughts, his rhetoric, you know, his racism -- if indeed that is him on the tape -- they're not going to let that derail what their quest is all about and that's winning a championship.

They're certainly not going to let him ruin the party that they're trying to conduct.

But in the end, they do work for him. They're appalled by it. I spoke to several people within the Clippers organization. They find his remarks reprehensible, if indeed that is him. They're incredibly alarmed by it. Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, the list goes on and on as well as Doc Rivers.

And they should be, because clearly he was speaking about -- he was speaking about the issue in a very alarming fashion, essentially talking about how -- you know, looking at black folks in a very subservient manner.

That's how they took it, that's how they embraced it. They're incredibly offended by it. And to be quite honest with you, they don't seem too honored today to be working for the man. But they understand they have a job to do. And it's about themselves more so than it's about him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Stephen A. Smith, thanks very much.

We're going to have much more on this later in the program.

STEPHANOPOULOS Now, our exclusive interview with the man who has one of the country's toughest jobs. The new Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson tracks every terror and security threat to America 24/7. And our senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas went behind the scenes with him to get an inside look at those challenges. Good morning, Pierre.


It can be an unforgiving job. Jeh Johnson is one of the key people that taxpayers pay to worry about all the ugly, dark threats, to literally be at the center of every bad storm.


THOMAS (voice-over): It's 6:28 a.m. and the new Homeland Security secretary arrives at an agency borne out of the 9/11 nightmare -- a nightmare Jeh Johnson experienced firsthand in an intensely personal way.

JEH JOHNSON, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I was born September 11th, 1957.

THOMAS (on camera): And were you in New York on 9/11?

JOHNSON: I was in Manhattan. I remember looking out the window. And I could see the World Trade Center on fire. And within minutes, I saw the second plane hit.

THOMAS: You actually saw it?

JOHNSON: Yes. And I saw the buildings collapse. And like a lot of New Yorkers that day, I went down to the street and literally wandered the streets asking, what can I do?

THOMAS (voice-over): Nearly 13 years later, Johnson now heads an agency with a key role in preventing terror attacks like 9/11. After reading in the first item on the agenda, a super secret intelligence briefing on all the ways terrorists are trying to kill us.

(on camera): When you receive that morning briefing on the terror threat, how sobering is that?

JOHNSON: You've got to sort out a lot of noise in what we read. A lot of this stuff can be pretty alarming. So it can be sobering, without a doubt.

THOMAS (voice-over): We're in the secure National Operations Center.

JOHNSON: If we had an event, this, essentially, is my eyes and ears.

THOMAS (on camera): I was just noticing, you had two bomb threats and also a restaurant explosion that had you had to check out.

JOHNSON: We're looking at everything.

THOMAS (voice-over): And when he says even though, he really means everything -- tornadoes, hurricanes, oil spills, border security, presidential security, aviation security and the emerging cyber threat.

JOHNSON: The cyber security threat is not just a threat, it's a series of ongoing, daily attacks.

THOMAS: And, of course, there's always the crisis of the moment, like the 15-year-old boy who stowed away in the wheel well of a commercial plane and flew from California to Hawaii.

JOHNSON: But I am concerned that someone was apparently able to breach airport security and positioned himself in an aircraft like that. We're taking a hard look at airport security and how it was breached in that particular incident.

THOMAS: And Johnson says the recent disturbing spike in mass shootings has to be addressed now.

JOHNSON: This is a growing phenomenon around the country. I was in the Department of Defense during the first Fort Hood shooting in November, 2009. And when the second one occurred a couple of weeks ago, I was devastated. It's army bases. It's naval installations. It's schools. One of my own people, TSA Officer Hernandez, was killed at LAX last fall.

THOMAS (on camera): But how do you deal with it on the front side?

JOHNSON: I think we need to do more. I want solutions before I leave office.

THOMAS (voice-over): But make no mistake, the urgent ongoing threat of terror is priority number one.

DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: A new terror warning for American athletes and fans descending on Sochi, Russia.

THOMAS: Only a few weeks into the job, Homeland Security had to warn the airlines about a toothpaste bomb threat to the Sochi Olympics and intelligence that terrorists were designing shoe bombs and explosives that look like cosmetics.

And now, there is a specific emerging terror threat that has Johnson deeply concerned.

JOHNSON: Syria has become a matter of homeland security. And we're very concerned about Syria foreign fighters, people who are going into Syria, being recruited by extremists there.

THOMAS: Many of these fighters in Syria have trained with hardened al Qaeda terrorists. The fear is that some travel to Europe, where they could launch attacks or more easily travel to the US.

JOHNSON: We've been working together on sharing information, tracking these individuals.

THOMAS: Any concern that some of them have been in the U.S.?

JOHNSON: We are continually monitoring the situation and we are concerned, yes.

THOMAS (voice-over): Last week's drone strikes in Yemen reminded us that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula remains a lethal threat. That's the al Qaeda affiliate responsible for the Christmas 2009 plot to use an underwear bomb to blow up a plane over Detroit.

JOHNSON: They're still very active. They're still making efforts to attack the homeland.

THOMAS (on camera): Today?

JOHNSON: They have tried several times in the past and AQAP is still active. And we have to be vigilant.

THOMAS (voice-over): And then there's the threat much closer to home.

JOHNSON: We also have to be concerned about the lone wolf, about the independent actor. And we've seen a lot of that. The Boston Marathon bombing a year ago is a perfect example of that.

THOMAS: While national security threats consume much of his time, Johnson is about to wade into the hot button issue of immigration.


THOMAS: On Friday, dozens of protesters marched to the Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs headquarters, confronting the agency over deportation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama has been promising immigration reform, but what he has given the people is actually record numbers of deportations and violations of their civil rights.

THOMAS: In response to critics, last month, President Obama asked Johnson to oversee a review of deportation policy.

(on camera): The president said he wanted you to come up with a more humane approach...


THOMAS: -- to immigration.

What does that mean?

JOHNSON: Immigration law, or any other law, needs to comport with American values. And one of those American values is respect for human dignity.

I also believe one of those American values is respect for the sanctity of the family unit.

THOMAS: But does that mean that people who are here illegally who have not been committing crimes have less to worry about?

JOHNSON: It means that I am looking for ways to more effectively enforce and administer our immigration laws.

THOMAS (voice-over): But this week, 22 Republican senators sent the president a blistering letter expressing their grave concerns the changes under consideration would represent a near complete abandonment of basic immigration enforcement.

(on camera): Some critics on the right saying, hey, you're not enforcing the law.

JOHNSON: I don't understand those who say we are not enforcing the law. We are enforcing the law every day. None of what I can do, however, is a substitute for action by Congress. We have an immigration system in this country that is not working. Comprehensive immigration reform would fix it. This is something we need to do. I'm confident that it will happen.


STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll have to chew on it there, Pierre.

I think the most striking thing there is that the crisis in Syria could now pose a direct threat to the United States.

THOMAS: A huge priority, George. They're talking about these al Qaeda operatives. They're going somewhere. And some are likening it to what happened in Afghanistan years ago. It's a major training ground and they believe it could spill over to here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Pierre, thanks.

Now, you're going to stick around and join our roundtable to talk about the Don Sterling controversy.

Also coming up, Elizabeth Warren is here live on her new book, "A Fighting Chance."

And Robin Roberts in our Sunday Spotlight with her take on the historic interview that almost didn't happen.

We're back in just two minutes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Our closer look now at a new senator shocking up the Democratic Party.

Elizabeth Warren's tough take on Wall Street has made her a folk hero on the left, even before the release of her latest book, "A Fighting Chance."

And ABC's Jeff Zeleny reports, her tour is stirring up all kinds of speculation.


JEFF ZELENY, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hopeful Democrats are lining up, eagerly awaiting the first woman president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If she runs, she may be the first woman president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she'd be fantastic.

ZELENY: They're not talking about Hillary Clinton, they're excited about this woman, Elizabeth Warren.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Oh, it's good to be home.

ZELENY: A U.S. senator for only a year, she's now making an even bigger splash. Her new book is a middle class manifesto.

WARREN: No one should work full-time and still live in poverty. That's an issue we've got to deal with.


ZELENY: And many liberal Democrats hope a road map for the party's future.

A draft movement is already under way. But so far Warren says no thanks.

WARREN: I'm not running for president.

I'm not running for president.

I'm not running for president. You can ask it lots of different ways.

ZELENY (on camera): When you hear Elizabeth Warren saying, look, I'm not running for president now, you take her at her word.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I do. I do. First of all, it would be foolish, and she is not foolish.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because Hillary Clinton is iconic.

ZELENY (voice-over): But Warren is a popular draw on the fund-raising circuit, already raising $1.6 million this year for Democrats.

The left is looking for a fighter and a fiery populist.

WARREN: Mr. Secretary, I come from a world of Chapter 11, people default all the time. They negotiate down on their obligations, and they do not bring down the entire financial system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're exactly right. And you're...

ZELENY: Some moderate Democrats fear her economic populism is a dead-end for the party. But to her admirers, she is a political celebrity. And even if her name is not on the ballot, her ideas may still drive the race.

For THIS WEEK, Jeff Zeleny, ABC News, Cambridge, Massachusetts.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And Senator Warren joins us now.

So, Senator, this book, "A Fighting Chance," the first step about having ideas drive the agenda right now in Washington, both now and in the future. How do you build on it?

WARREN: Well, the basic message in the book is one about how it is we create a fighting chance. We've done this before. But what is happening now is that we've got a Washington that works for those who can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers. Their voices get heard in Washington. And the rules get tilted in their favor, working families, not so much.

And all we've got on our side really are our voices and our votes. And this is about how to level the playing field.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You describe some pretty tense encounters with President Obama and his team, including Larry Summers, the former treasury secretary, Tim Geithner. Has he fallen short, in your estimation?


STEPHANOPOULOS: President Obama.

WARREN: Look, I make no secret out of my differences with the administration and how they've treated the large financial institutions. But at the same time, as I talk about extensively in the book, I fought for a consumer agency that would keep people from getting cheated on credit cards and mortgages.

If we hadn't had President Obama in the White House, who stood up strong for that agency, who fought for that agency, we never would have gotten it into law. I think that's powerfully important.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, the critics say the agency hasn't done all that much: one criminal prosecution.

WARREN: Oh, wow, really? That's not what I've heard from the critics. The critics I've heard about are really worried about what the agency is doing. And that is that little agency has just been in place for a couple of years.

It has already forced the largest financial institutions to return more than $3 billion to customers whom they've cheated. I think that's an agency that's up, that's strong, that's feisty, and that's going.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You've been pretty clear, and we showed it in Jeff Zeleny's piece, that you say you're not running for president in 2016. It seems like you've just affirmed it again. You also signed a letter -- several senators signed a letter earlier this year encouraging Hillary Clinton to run.

So is she your candidate in 2016?

WARREN: You know, all of the women -- Democratic women, I should say, of the Senate urged Hillary Clinton to run. And I hope she does.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You hope she does. And if she does, she is your candidate, you're going to endorse her?

WARREN: If Hillary -- Hillary is terrific.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you've said she is terrific very many times. You say that again in this book, "A Fighting Chance." But this book leaves out something of a pointed criticism from your earlier book, "The Two Income Trap."

There you praised first lady Hillary Clinton for her opposition to this bankruptcy bill pushed by the big banks, but go on to talk about how she, as New York senator, seemed she could not afford that principled position.

Senator Clinton received 140,000 in campaign contributions from banking industry executives in a single year. Big banks were now part of Senator Clinton's constituency. She wanted their support, and they wanted hers, including a vote in favor of that awful bill.

So do you think that -- are you worried that somehow she will bow to big business, those were your words in that book, if she becomes president?

WARREN: Look, I've made it clear all the way through this book and really what I've been working on for the last 25 years, that I'm worried a lot about power in the financial services industry.

And I'm worried about the fact that basically starting in the '80s, you know, the cops were taken off the beat in financial services, these guys were allowed to just paint a bull's eye on the backsides of American families.

They loaded up on risk. They crashed the economy. They got bailed out. And what bothers me now is they still strut around Washington. They block regulations that they don't want. They roll over agencies whenever they can. And they break...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Did they rollover Hillary Clinton?

WARREN: Well, that's -- they break the law, and still don't end up being held accountable for it, and going to jail.

One of the things that I focus on really hard throughout this book is that that is one of the prime examples of how the playing field is tilted and how we've got to push back against it.

It's a central issue for me. It's something I'm going to keep talking about. And I'm going to keep talking about it with everyone.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right. But -- I understand. Do you think Hillary Clinton will push back on that as well?

WARREN: Well, I'm going to keep talking about this issue. And I'm going to keep pushing on this issue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Winning over Democrats, though, is only half the battle. How do you build a coalition with Republicans? Are there, for example, Republican senators right now you can work with on these issues?

WARREN: Not only that I can work with, that I am working with. My partner on a new Glass-Steagall bill, something to separate so that banking is boring and risk-taking takes place on Wall Street, not with your savings account and your checking account.

A new Glass-Steagall bill, I have one in place, a bill with John McCain, with Angus King, an independent from Maine, Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington. We've pulled together a very strong, tough bill that stands up to the financial services industry.

We're working together on that, and we'll keep working on it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Final question, it might surprise a lot of your supporters to know that you were a registered Republican as recently as 1996.

WARREN: I was -- no, I think you're...

STEPHANOPOULOS: 1991 to 1996...


WARREN: I think it's four.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... in Pennsylvania, but that's what I read at least.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And I was just wondering, what drew you to the GOP and why did you leave?

WARREN: I was originally an independent. I was with the GOP for a while because I really thought that it was a party that was principled in its conservative approach to economics and to markets.

And I feel like the GOP party just left that. That they moved to a party that said, no, it's not about a level playing field, it's now about a field that has gotten tilted. And they really stood up for the big financial institutions when the big financial institutions are just hammering middle class American families.

You know, I just feel like that's a party that moved way, way away.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Warren, thanks very much for your time this morning. The book is called "A Fighting Chance."

And coming up, more on another surprise bestseller shaking up Washington with its groundbreaking take on income inequality.

And the Nevada ranch-owner who sparked an armed standoff with the feds now has his friends running for cover.

We're back in just two minutes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What a phenomenon -- first, it passed a Smoothie cleanse, then Game of Thrones, even frozen and the other frozen -- the number one best-selling book on Amazon right now, a 700-page tome packed with words like disequilibrium and Ricardian.

"Capital" by French economist Thomas Piketty. His insights on inequality shined a light on the 1 percent. The Occupy movement ran with it and now, Piketty's Tour de France is taking the policy world by storm, stunning his publisher, creating a media frenzy.

Check out these dueling columns in Friday's "New York Times."

"Piketty's central insight, inequality feed on itself. Over time, across countries, investment returns exceed economic growth, which means inheritance becomes more valuable than work and the wealthy pull away from everyone else.

It happened before, he says. It's happening again now.

And we're going to talk about this on the roundtable now with ABC's Matthew Dowd; Alicia Menendez, host of "A.M. Tonight" on our sister network, Fusion; Bill Kristol, editor of "The Weekly Standard"; and Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winning economist for "The New York Times" and Princeton.

And, Paul, we saw your column in "The New York Times" up there in the piece. You also wrote a review in "The New York Review of Books" where you called Piketty's book a "magnificent, sweeping meditation on inequality that will change both the way we think about society and the way we do economics."

He's been known to economists like you for a long time, now breaking out.

PAUL KRUGMAN, "NEW YORK TIMES": Yes, I mean what he'd done before is a lot of what we know about the 1 percent and the .1 percent and all that ultimately comes from Piketty and his circle of associated economists. But now he's put it all together into this amazing, comprehensive framework, which happens to be beautiful in ways that are hard to explain if you don't know the technical stuff. But it's -- it's an amazing book. It really changes the way you think about a lot of things that are going on in the world right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what a chord it struck, Matthew Dowd.

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it -- it's a sign of, actually, where the country is, I mean, really, where the world is, but where the country is that we have Elizabeth Warren, who basically -- who wrote her book before this book came out, obviously, and picks up -- has -- talks about a lot of the same principles. We have many people in both parties talking about the same principles.

I think it's a sign that, actually, Washington, DC today, where we don't have a lot of leaders actually leading a movement that is related to this and how to fix this problem, the question is, is we have all the facts. We know the situation. And nobody, as of yet, has stepped up and said here's how to fix it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the things that Paul Krugman writes, Bill Kristol, is this is also catching conservatives somewhat flat-footed.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, I think it's (INAUDIBLE) some quarrels with Piketty. But, actually, I, myself, tell my fellow conservatives, don't be afraid of this. Let's have a debate about what policies are better for the middle class.

I think the Republican Party has become not critical enough of crony capitalism. Elizabeth Warren, as you pointed out in the interview, was apparently a Republican until 1996. I guess she voted for Reagan three times -- twice and all that.

So there's no reason not to go back to those policies, which were pro-middle class and have new policies that really care about middle America and take on crony capitalism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think that -- but what's really important is not just, you know, Piketty talks a lot about the period, the Gilded Age, where there wasn't a whole lot of crony capitalism, because there wasn't a whole lot of government, but was still very much an oligarchy largely based on inherited wealth, even more so in Europe than in the United States.

And he says we're heading back to that. So if you try and put it into a framework where it's all about cronyism...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- you're not going to get there.

Piketty is actually saying unless you have the kinds of things we've done away with, which is really high inheritance taxes and unless you do away with policies that are deliberately designed to restrain the influence of great wealth, you evolve back into that kind of society which we don't want to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to -- the Gilded Age was all about, in the U.S., crony capitalism.

What was the Theodore Roosevelt critique of the Gilded Age?

That people had favors from government, the railroad...


KRISTOL: I worry less about punishing the wealthy and more about helping the middle class.

And there I think there could -- the Republicans -- I think a lot of Republicans are...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- are advancing ideas on that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That doesn't go nearly -- he was headed off into the -- (INAUDIBLE).

STEPHANOPOULOS: And but -- but one of the reasons this does strike a chord, Alicia, is, you know, you saw again this week in "The New York Times," this pretty stunning thing. I mean everybody has been aware that the middle class feel like they're falling behind.

Some confirmation this week that we're not even the top middle class country anymore. Canada has pulled ahead. And the poor in the United States falling behind many European countries.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, HOST, "A.M. TONIGHT": Right. And we know part of this is generational. I mean for my generation, if you were lucky enough to have a college degree and you graduated after 2007, you came into one of the worst economies and you will be playing a lifetime of catchup.

We also know that there is a racial component to this, that a white family is likely to have about six times as much wealth than a black or Hispanic family coming out of the recession.

So we know those numbers. And I think where the rubber hits the road is whether or not...


MENENDEZ: -- you can actually do anything about it politically, given the amount of money that's now in our politics.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- one of American myths that are collapsing here, right. We are the -- we have the best middle class in the world.

No, we don't. We are richer so that even our poor are rich. No we don't. We are not a society of inherited wealth, we're a society of self-made men, well, actually, no. And we're well on our way to becoming a society of inherited wealth.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And your point, Matt, is the country already gets that, but the political system is not responding.

DOWD: Well, the country already gets that and they are trying to figure out how to keep forcing this to change and forcing this to be dealt with. And I think, in the end, what we have is a system where we need a vibrant media that focuses on this problem on a day to day basis, doesn't sort of cel -- celebrate the latest rich billionaire who sort of says here's, I made a bunch of money and I have 42 employees, like WhatsApp did, where they basic -- you can basically create companies and now and create wealth without ever hiring anybody in this country.

And I think most people think that the Democrats and the Republicans, though there are a few voices on each side, are totally in bed with Wall Street, are totally in bed with a large corporations. And I, for one, think, if the Republicans were smart and the Democrats were smart, they would figure out a smart populist who could speak directly to this message and figure out how to get us through it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're saying the same thing.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- but I think -- so let's -- let's do a little test.

Will the Republicans in the House, which they control, in 2014, go after the big insurance companies, which have a total bailout, a slush fund, in ObamaCare, to ensure them against any loss, since they went along with ObamaCare and are benefiting from it?

Will the Republicans go after -- and I think they will -- the Export-Import Bank, 55 percent of whose loans go to Boeing?

And will Democrats join them in these attacks on crony capitalism?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Indeed, those are tiny things. You should know that, just by the numbers, those are tiny things.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but they're not good examples. They're pretty much unique. I mean they -- you really...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- great inequality in the United States is not created by government contracts. There is some of it. There is some abuse. There -- you know, there's people grazing on federal land without paying fees. There's coal companies extracting -- but that's actually not most of what it's about.

And what the -- the crucial thing is that Piketty is saying that unless you have active policies to combat concentration of wealth, it does tend to reach levels that are really scary.

And I've got your populist Republican. He's called Teddy Roosevelt. Let's -- let's go with him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We've got to take a quick break.

Before we do, take a look at President Obama in Japan this week playing soccer with a robot. A fun moment in a trip that hasn't been quite what the White House had hoped for.

But the U.S. relationship with Japan has come a long way from the event that sets up this week's Powerhouse Puzzler.

Here's the question -- Japan formally surrendered to the Allies before what American battleship on September 2, 1945?

Back in two minutes to see if the roundtable gets it right.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The audio recording posted by TMZ is truly offensive and disturbing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While I understand anger that would be naturally expressed over hearing a tape like this, I also believe that ultimately, the players and the rest of the NBA family has confidence that we'll deal with it appropriately.



STEPHANOPOULOS: Back now with the answer to our Powerhouse Puzzler.

On September 2, 1945, Japan formally surrendered to the Allies aboard what American battleship?

It looks like everyone on our roundtable...


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- their history lesson.



STEPHANOPOULOS: -- this morning. The USS Missouri, a surrender accepted by Douglas MacArthur.

Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are gathered here, representatives of the major warring powers, to conclude a solemn agreement whereby peace may be restored.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Douglas MacArthur.

There is no peace in the neighbors. We're going to have more on that when we come back.



ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: The audio recording posted by TMZ is truly offensive and disturbing.

I understand anger that would be naturally expressed over hearing a tape like this. I also believe that ultimately the players and the rest of the NBA family has confidence that we'll deal with it appropriately.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That is Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner talking, of course, those comments that broke yesterday said to be by Don Stirling, the owner of the L.A. Clippers.

We're back with our roundtable. Pierre Thomas joins us as well.

Pierre, and it was kind of remarkable the way you saw this instant uprising by the players.

THOMAS: Well, it's such a sensitive issue. It's like a negative version of Back to the Future.

Look, the country has come so far. I think about my 11-year-old son who looks at people as people, that's all he sees. He doesn't see race, he doesn't see color. But this is a reminder if these comments are true that there is still a dark side in some people. And if you look at the comments by the rancher out...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Cliven Bundy. You know, I'm glad you said that, because I want to bring that up as well. He's of course the ranger Cliven Bundy of Nevada who had a lot of support for his anti-government stance on federal grazing until he gave this interview that was reported first by the New York Times. Listen to this.


CLIVEN BUNDY, RANCHER: They put the young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I've often wondered, are they better off as slaves picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?


STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you shake your heard when you first hear it, Matthew Dowd, so many Republicans immediately who had been rallying in part to Bundy just refuted him immediately, said we want no part of this. But he does seem to be tapping in, not with the racist comments, but with his overall stance, into something going on in the country out there.

DOWD: Well, first, this is when you have a problem when you adopt a man and you don't adopt the message. And I think that when they adopted a man who was the wrong man, obviously, and turns out to be sort of totally out of the main -- way out of the mainstream out on this, just like the owner of the L.A. Clippers, which actually kind of makes me think of Michael Panetta, the guy who had the tar -- that put in the tar in the baseball, he was big in baseball, is that people will trial rate some like things, but when you go so flagrant in stuff like this that the country just doesn't tolerate them. Both of these guys were totally out of the mainstream, what out on this.

But it does say something about the country that though we have an African-American president this stuff still goes on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. And that we understand there's a bright white line when it comes to talking about race. And it's wonderful that we're now all on the same page about that, but that we are less comfortable acknowledging race when we talk about structural pieces like affirmative action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the Cliven Bundy thing, actually it's awful, because we should be talking about the message, not the man, which is really a terrible message, which is that you have the right to use other people's property, namely federal grazing land, for free. Freedom is the right to not pay for the damage you do. What's wrong -- it's really a horrifying thing that he was ever made a hero even before these comments came out.

KRISTOL: I'm horrified to agree with Paul Cromerlin (ph)

The Weekly Standard 10 days ago said to conservatives don't praise Cliven Bundy. He's breaking the law. He seems to be inciting people even perhaps to use violence against federal law enforcement officials. If you want to change the law, change the law.

So, no -- so on that we agree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's in the water here, we're agreeing.

KRISTOL: I know, it's bad, it's bad. I'll never -- which of us will pay more of a price for this is the question. Probably me.

No, the other thing I would say is, the deeds matter more than speech. I do think -- look, it's bad. Both these people seem to be bigoted and foolish and all that. I don't think the L.A. Clippers are a bigoted organization, however, they don't -- you know, there's no evidence of that, obviously. If you look at the team...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, what do you do, if you're the NBA commissioner?

KRISTOL: So I think in that case I'm a little wary to sort of -- for everyone -- I sort of agree with Aleisha (ph) on this. I mean, everyone goes hysterical over two or three sentences, but let's look at the actual deeds of people. If people discriminate, it's against the law, they should be punished.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So then you're saying.

KRISTOL: People say stupid things -- private organizations can deal with -- private businesses can fire people, I suppose, if they say...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So then what does the NBA commissioner do? Let's assume for the sake of argument that these comments are right, does the NBA commissioner and the owners get together and say you can't own a team?

DOWD: I think the owners need to get together. And if this -- first of all, if -- again, if these statements that are made are his, this guy has also a history that we know of, a history of actions that are actually in line with his language. He's done discriminatory practice in real estate, he's done a whole bunch of things.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ...getting an award from the NAACP this week.

DOWD: The owners have a league that is 90 percent African-American and a person that basically now is an owner in the league who basically is in contravention of that. I think the owners have to get rid of this guy as owner if this turns out to be true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it's got to be a difficult circumstance if you're the players and the coach who happen to be primarily black people to think that the boss thinks like this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The boss thinks like this, but as we just heard earlier Alicia (ph), they wanted to play and basically show him.

ALICIA: Yes, but apparently they have not if this tape is, in fact, true. And I think that is sort of the issue, that no matter how much merit you have, no matter how much you bring to the table, that there are still people who feel that you do not belong. And is it scarier for them to be saying it out loud? Or is it scarier to be saying it behind closed doors.

DOWD: If true, he needs to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no question. That -- technology, can't we do voice recognition pretty fast? I'm surprised that this...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think people already know.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He's promised it's going to come real fast. And we'll find out -- actually we're going to come back and then talk more about race is this week's milestone Supreme Court ruling spell the end of affirmative action. Is it time for something new? Our scholars are going to take that on.

And later, Robin Roberts shines in our Sunday spotlight.



STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, COLBERT REPORT: Finally, this decision ends the unfair practice of admitting students based on their race and allows more students to be admitted based on if their parents went there.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Stephen Colbert weighing in on the Supreme Court ruling this week that upheld the state of Michigan's ban on affirmative action. This latest decision has even traditional supporters of affirmative action talking about new ways to achieve the same goals. We're going to dig into that debate after more on the court's decision from ABC's Ryan Smith.


RYAN SMITH, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: In a 6-2 decision, the Supreme Court said Michigan voters can keep their 2006 constitutional amendment barring race as a factor in admissions to its public universities. Speaking for the court, Justice Anthony Kennedy insisting, quote, "this case is not about how the debate about racial preference should be resolved, it is about who may resolve it."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's fundamentally wrong to treat people differently based on the color of your skin.

SMITH: But in a blistering 58 page dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the court's decision did exactly that saying, quote, "a majority of the Michigan electorate changed the basic rules of the political process in that state in a manner that uniquely disadvantaged racial minorities."

And, say advocates of affirmative action, stacked the deck against minority college applicants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Minority students want to argue in favor of affirmative action have to change the state constitution.

SMITH: Sotomayor has called herself a product of affirmative action.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: If they didn't open their doors to me, I would have never gotten to where I have.

SMITH: The question now, will affirmative action policies soon be a thing of the past?

Do you think other states will follow Michigan's lead?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this opens the door. I'm not sure how many states are going to walk through that door.

SMITH: Already, five other states have similar voter approved measures banning race-based affirmative action programs. And the impact is staggering.

At Michigan State, with affirmative action, up to 10 percent of new students were African-American. Without it, the number falling to just 5 percent.

For this week, Ryan Smith, ABC News, New York.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And here to discuss all this, professor John McWhorter of Columbia University of Cheryl Cashin has written a new book called "Place Not Race: A New Vision of Opportunity." That's the wrong book right there. We'll make sure we get the right one in the next few years the correct book.

And Professor McWhorter, let me begin with you. When the ruling came down, you wrote in TIME magazine, that it's progress we should celebrate. Why?

JOHN MCWHORTER, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Very much so. Affirmative Action is very important, but the issue is what we affirm. And if it's about race, then if we're talking about a long time ago when it could be said that being black was essentially to be disadvantaged, then I was all in favor of a system where you changed your sense of what standards were in order to acknowledge what had gone on in the very recent past.

And even today, if you're talking about everybody is qualified in the same on-paper ways, and then you assemble a class based on diversity, I get it completely. But if the idea is to change standards, which is what has been discovered at many schools, I think that it has come to a point where that should be about disadvantage.

And today, that's not only about race, it's also about socio-economics. And I think that it's time to move on to that conception, which will take in people of color as well as other people who have gotten a bad hand.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Professor Cashin, you make a similar point in your book "Place not Race." You support diversity. You've supported Affirmative Action. But in your book you say it's time for a change, time to focus on "place not race." What does that mean?

SHERYLL CASHIN, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, everybody who lives in America knows that where you live heavily determines what kind of opportunities you have. And I'm arguing that Affirmative Action should be based on structural disadvantage.

Those high-achieving kids who overcome their living -- having under-resourced neighborhoods and under-resourced schools need and deserve a leg up in admissions, because they're competing with kids who have the best of everything.

And those who come from poverty-free havens don't need and deserve a leg up. Your kids and my kids don't need and deserve preferences.

So I'm arguing that colleges should focus on the structural obstacles that kids had to overcome, and I'm also arguing they need to scrub their admissions processes of practices that reinforce advantage.

Standardized tests should be optional. Aid should return to being based on financial need, not merit. Legacy preferences should be scrapped.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't get a preference because your mom or dad went to the university. But, you know, we have seen what has happened with some of these Affirmative Action bans have been put in place.

We have U.C. Berkeley, 8 percent black before the ban, 2 percent black afterwards. Florida State, 12 percent black before, 7 percent afterwards. How do you respond to critics who say, you know, you might have the right ideal, but it's just not going to do the job?

MCWHORTER: Well, there are things that we don't hear. So, for example, after the ban on racial preferences, the number of black students at U.C. Berkeley and UCLA went down, and went way up at, for example, U.C. San Diego, a fine school, and other ones like that, that are considered not on the level of U.C. Berkeley and UCLA, but really good places to go to school, and more black students graduated.

And so I think that that's very important. I wouldn't want to tell the people at UCSD that somehow that's lesser. What we have to think about is not whether race matters, which we know that it does.

Many people...


STEPHANOPOULOS: Some reminders this week.


MCWHORTER: Right. We've seen race mattering a whole lot. And I think that both Professor Cashin and I can say that in our lives it matters.

But the issue is how much in 2014, and whether the fact that race matters means that we should have the kind of racial preference programs that change standards. I don't think that's an easy question.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Professor Cashin, you close your book with a moving letter to your own boys where you write: "I would trade the benefit to you of Affirmative Action for a country that does not fear and demonize people who look like you."

CASHIN: Well, right. I think part of what brings me to this place is that we're a broken country. Our politics is broken, and yet we have this rising inequality. And I'm arguing that it's time to be about pursuing policies that encourage cross-racial understanding and coalition-building rather than discouraging it.

And I think focusing on place and other barriers can help all people who are on the wrong side of the track and who are struggling come together and coalesce.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You've started an important discussion. Thank you both for joining us this morning.

We're going to come back with Robin Roberts in our "Sunday Spotlight."


STEPHANOPOULOS: Our "Sunday Spotlight" shines this week on Robin Roberts in her new book detailing the love and courage that pulled her through a harrowing health crisis. Our friend always describes the historic interview with President Obama when he endorsed same-sex marriage for the first time.

It was a landmark get at what seemed like the worst possible moment.


STEPHANOPOULOS: So May 8th, 2012, you had one of the worst doctor's visits I've ever read about.

ROBIN ROBERTS, ABC ANCHOR, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": It was the first time I was meeting with an MDS specialist. Did GMA that morning. Headed to the hospital. And she was less than encouraging. I respect the fact that she was sugarcoating anything.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you called her "Dr. Doom and Gloom."

ROBERTS: Yes. And not my style. For some people that works. For me, I don't want to be told, basically, here's the shovel, start digging. I'm, as you know, an optimist.

And my phone had been off for a few hours...


STEPHANOPOULOS: ... that everybody back here had been looking for you for hours.

ROBERTS: I had no idea. I was just really in this zone of, I've got to figure out what it is I'm facing and how I'm going to deal with it.

So I leave the hospital and finally turn on my phone. And I think it almost blew up because of all the messages that were coming through.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): In her new book, Robin describes an emotional rollercoaster that day: first hearing that even with a bone marrow transplant she might not survive; then the big news that she had scored an historic interview with President Obama.

ROBERTS: There was a point where I was thinking to myself, do I have to do this? Can someone else do this interview? I don't know if I'm mentally in a place to do it.

STEPHANOPOULOS (on camera): But that doesn't seem like it's in keeping with the whole way you've wanted to deal with this condition.

ROBERTS: Well, I wanted to be business as usual. You're absolutely right. And that's why I eventually went through with it.


Mr. President, are you still opposed to same-sex marriage?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.


ROBERTS: Everyone in the room, you could sense, thought it was just a moment. And it really was.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You write about this in your book, there was a lot of commentary about why you were chosen to do this interview. How did that hit you?

ROBERTS: I didn't like it. I could not remember another time when a reporter was questioned about why they were the one selected to talk to the president. Was it because of my sexuality? Was it because of my race? Was it because of my gender? I don't know, because this is who I am.

It doesn't matter who was the one asking the question, it was the answer. And that should have been what everyone was focused on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Two years later, to have been part of this, what has it meant to you?

ROBERTS: It has meant everything. I think that's also in part why I, at the end of last year, my Facebook posting, was just full of gratitude. I was just alive and happy and I was always thanking my doctors and my sister.

And this wonderful person had been right there by my side through it all. And I never had said to the public, thank you, Amber. I just wanted to do that. And I think because of in part from that interview and everything that has happened in this country since, and I have been -- and so has Amber, we've been just overwhelmed with the support, but also grateful for the "eh."


ROBERTS: As grateful for the "oh, OK."

STEPHANOPOULOS: This was great. Thank you.

ROBERTS: Thank you. Thanks, George.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Robin Roberts, still laughing after an amazing journey, the book is so inspiring. Hope you get a chance to look at it.

And we end with some good news today, the Pentagon reported no deaths of service members in Afghanistan this week.

That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check our "World News with David Muir" tonight. And I'll see you tomorrow on GMA.

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