Entries in This Week With George Stephanopoulos (7)


Crisis Expert Judy Smith: Support of Weiner’s Wife ‘Made No Difference’

ABC News(WASHIGNTON) -- Judy Smith, the high-profile crisis management expert whose career inspired the hit ABC television show Scandal, said Sunday on This Week that even though wives who support politicians amid sex scandals usually mitigate public criticism, Anthony Weiner’s wife standing by his side “made no difference whatsoever because his behavior is just reprehensible.”

Huma Abedin, a long-time aide to Hillary Clinton, defended her husband after he admitted earlier this week that he continued to send sexually explicit messages and photos months after his resignation. Initial reports of Weiner’s sexting emerged in May 2011, leading him to step down from his post as a U.S. congressman.

“It was not an easy choice in any way,” Abedin said in a press conference last Tuesday. “But I made the decision that it was worth staying in this marriage. That was a decision I made for me, for our son and for our family.”

Smith told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on the This Week roundtable that Weiner’s indiscretions are not “the usual politician having an affair. There’s an element of creepiness to this.”

She said the American people want him to step down and that “he’s trying so hard to put the genie back in the bottle. It’s not going to happen for him. He can’t do it.”

Smith, a seasoned “fixer” of media firestorms whose client rolodex includes Paula Deen, Monica Lewinsky and Michael Vick, said, “It’s apparent that [Weiner is] not listening to anyone, because his campaign manager just quit.”

She said another disgraced elected official now running for office in New York City, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, has navigated his re-entry into the political spotlight with greater success.

“I think Spitzer’s done a good job in addressing the elephant in a room in particular in his ads and saying, ‘Yes, I’ve made a mistake, but I’m here to serve,’” Smith said.

She also contrasted Spitzer, who’s seeking a lower position following his prostitution scandal in 2008, with Weiner, who’s pursuing the highly influential office of New York City mayor.

Spitzer is “really taking a lower position, comptroller, trying to get that, by saying let me re-engage you and build back up the trust from the public,” Smith said.

Smith compared Weiner to San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, who recently captured headlines as the number of women accusing him of sexual harassment rose to seven, saying Weiner is “sort of engaging in the same behavior.”

While Weiner has not shown signs of leaving the mayor’s race following the latest revelations, Smith advised him to throw in the towel.

“Clearly, he has sort of an interest in keeping the late night talk show host folks going with it, but, yeah, he needs to step down,” Smith said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Jack Lew: Detroit Will Have to ‘Work With Its Creditors’ to Resolve Bankruptcy

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- During an interview for ABC’s This Week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Detroit would have to deal with its creditors in order to resolve its recently-declared bankruptcy when he was asked about the possibility of a federal bailout for Motor City.

“Detroit’s economic problems have been a long time in developing. We stand with Detroit trying to work through how it approaches these issues,” Lew told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

“To that extent that there are kind of normal relations between the federal government and state and local government — we’ve been using those methods.  Even in the Treasury Department, we have a program where we work to help with housing programs.  I think when it comes to the questions between Detroit and its creditors, that’s really something that Detroit is going to have to work out with its creditors,” he said.

The issue of a Detroit bailout has been a divisive one in Washington. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has issued tweets expressing his views on the subject, is dead set against it while the AFL-CIO has called for the federal government to provide Motown with assistance. Detroit’s mayor said “not yet” when Stephanopoulos asked him about the possibility of a bailout during their interview last Sunday.

During the interview, Stephanopoulos also asked Lew about a critical decision the president will have to make in the next few months — the choice of who should succeed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke when he leaves his post. Lew praised the current chairman, but declined to discuss his preference for who should replace him.

“I have to start by saying that Chairman Bernanke has been an extraordinary and remains an extraordinary Fed chairman,” Lew said. “I’m going to keep private any conversations that we’re having with the president on the question of when and what kind of succession there should be. I think that those conversations are best left in the privacy of the Oval Office.”

The fall showdowns over funding the government loom over Congress, and Stephanopoulos asked Lew if the current disagreement between Democrats and Republicans would lead to a government shutdown.

“It is imperative that Washington be part of the solution, not part of the problem. We can’t afford self-inflicted wounds and we can’t have these kinds of self-created crises month after month, year after year,” he said.

“And I think we’re going to be able to work through these issues.  And I certainly hope that Congress isn’t looking to create confrontations and false crises because we did see, in 2011, how bad that is for the American economy,” Lew added, referring to the fight over raising the debt ceiling two years ago that led in part to the subsequent lowering of the credit rating of the United States by Standard and Poor’s.

Asked about raising the debt ceiling in coming months, Lew said the president would not negotiate on the issue.

“The mere fact of negotiating over the debt limit, after 2011, would introduce this notion that somehow there’s a question about whether or not we’re going to pay our bills, whether or not we’re going to protect the full faith and credit of the United States,” he said.

“Well, it’s not OK to default.  Congress can’t let us default.  Congress has to do its work,” Lew said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sen. Rand Paul: Drones, Scandals Threaten Obama’s ‘Moral Authority’

ABC(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said on ABC’s This Week that the recent controversies engulfing the White House over the IRS, reporter leak investigations, and Benghazi have threatened President Obama’s “moral authority to lead the nation,” while he continued to question the administration’s use of drone strikes against terrorist targets overseas.

“I think the constellation of these three scandals ongoing, really takes away from the president’s moral authority to lead the nation,” Paul said Sunday morning on This Week. “Nobody questions his legal authority, but I think he’s really losing the moral authority to lead this nation. And he really needs to put a stop to this. I don’t care whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, nobody likes to see the opposite party punishing you for your political beliefs, using the power of government to do so.”

While he has called for a special counsel to investigate the IRS scandal, in which the IRS gave increased scrutiny to conservative groups applying for non-profit status, Paul would not say whether he believed any crimes were committed.

“I don’t think we know so far. The main woman from the IRS that’s involved has taken the Fifth Amendment. She’s no longer cooperating,” Paul said of Lois Lerner, the IRS official who refused to testify at a House committee hearing on Wednesday, and was put on leave from her position Thursday. “I think there needs to be a speedy resolution to this… If he goes beyond 30 days and if no one is fired over this? I really think it’s going to be trouble for him trying to lead in the next four years.”

And while Paul said he was “pleased with” the words of President Obama’s major national security speech last week, he continued to question the administration’s use of drone strikes and whether proper due process is occurring before military action against terrorist targets.

“I was pleased with his words, and I was pleased with the – that he did respond to this,” Paul said in reaction to President Obama’s speech Thursday at the National Defense University. “However, there still is a question in my mind of what he thinks due process is. You know, due process to most of us is a court of law, it’s a trial by a jury. And right now their process is him looking at some flashcards and a PowerPoint presentation on ‘Terror Tuesdays’ in the White House. For a lot of us, that’s not really due process.”

When asked whether a drone strike should have been used against Al Qaeda leader and American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a drone strike in Yemen in 2011, Paul reiterated his belief that the U.S. should attempt to try individuals for treason, with a judge reviewing evidence before military strikes.

“If you are conspiring to attack America and you are a traitor, I would try you for treason,” Paul said. “If you don’t come home for the trial, I would try you in absentia. And then the death penalty has been used repeatedly throughout our history for treason, but a judge looks at evidence. And that’s something that separates us from the rest of the world, is that we adjudicate things by taking it to an independent body who’s not politically motivated, or elected.”

Paul, who led a 13-hour Senate filibuster on the administration’s use of drone strikes in March, also questioned whether President Obama was truly protecting civil liberties by promising not to carry out certain actions such as detaining citizens indefinitely – while still retaining the power to do so under the law.

“It’s not good enough to us that he’s not using a power,” Paul said. “We want him to assert that he won’t, that he doesn’t have the power.”

Paul said he did not back closing the detainee prison at Guantanamo Bay, which President Obama called for again last week, but Paul said the prison has “become a symbol of something though, and I think things should change.”

“I think the people being held there are bad people,” Paul said. “What I would do though is I would accuse them, charge them, and try them in military commissions, or trials, or tribunals. And I think that would go a long way toward showing the world that we’re not going to hold them without charge forever.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Cory Booker Jokes Mayor Job Drove Him to Drink — Coffee That Is

Cindy Ord/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker answered viewer questions from Facebook and Twitter for an ABC News’ web exclusive before joining the This Week roundtable on Sunday.  After Booker discussed his future Senate plans, his time as Newark mayor, and his Twitter routine, he admitted to a few other personal habits.  He believes that his job “drove him to drink” - but coffee is the vice in question.

“I did not drink coffee before this job. I always say this job drove me to drink,” Booker joked.

Read More Below:

How many hours a day do you spend on Twitter?

“I guess it’s so seamless that I don’t really think about it that way. So it’s like going from meeting to meeting, or waiting for people to come into the office. A lot of it happens in the early morning when I wake up or late at night, which gives a lot of my followers this idea that I don’t sleep. But if I wake up… like this morning around four o’clock, I’ll start checking my Twitter and responding to people.”

Do you feel you can take a day off from tweeting?

“You know, it’s so integrated. It’s like saying ‘do I want to take a day off from talking or do I want to take a day off from connecting to people.’ And I’ve looked at the averages, maybe sometimes 15, 20 tweets a day. Sometimes it goes down, sometimes it goes up depending on what’s going on. But… this is the democratization of our democracy in a weird way. Because so many forces are pulling people away, leaders away from the people, special interest groups, money in politics, creating more of an elite environment. But I think that social media has a chance to pull people back and have politicians far more accessible, far more transparent, far more connected, and ultimately move from a hierarchical society to a level playing field.”

What are your thoughts on ‘Clinton/Booker 2016′?

“Unless Clinton/Booker 2016 is some kind of new rock band that might be coming out… look, at the end of the day in life, purpose is far more important than position. And so many of us lose sight of where we are by looking at where we’re going to go. So right now I’m mayor of the city of Newark and I love what I’m doing. In many ways, this is my highest aspiration in terms of having a job where I can really help people. The next thing I’m thinking about doing next year is possibly running for the United States Senate. But I think when you start going further… from that, it starts to get a little absurd.”

What do you believe is your best policy achievement as mayor?

“I think the best thing you can say, and it’s less policy and more spirit, is that we’ve taken a city that used to be disregarded, disrespected, and just plain dissed, that was losing population, losing tax base, losing business, and now we’ve reversed those trends. Now people really have a lot of respect for Newark. First time in 60 years our population is growing. Our tax base is growing. The first new hotels in our downtown in 40 years. First new office towers in decades. So creating jobs at a pretty dramatic clip for our residents.”


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Cardinal Timothy Dolan: Catholic Church’s Nature Means It Will Be Out of Touch Sometimes

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- During an interview for This Week, Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that the Catholic Church’s very nature means it will be — from time to time – out of touch with the concerns of its followers.

“Sometimes by nature, the Church has got to be out of touch with concerns, because we’re always supposed to be thinking of the beyond, the eternal, the changeless,” Dolan said. “Our major challenge is to continue in a credible way to present the eternal concerns to people in a timeless attractive way. And sometimes there is a disconnect – between what they’re going through and what Jesus and his Church is teaching.  And that’s a challenge for us.”

Dolan was responding to a question from Stephanopoulos about a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, which found that 60 percent of Catholics “describe the church as ‘out of touch’ with the views of Catholics in America.”

As much of the country celebrates the Christian holiday of Easter, Stephanopoulos asked Dolan about the rise of people with no religious affiliation and if the church can bring people back toward God.

“What I’m afraid is that that’s afflicting society in general. That’s afflicting families. That’s afflicting — communities.  People want privacy.  People crave isolation.  We’re hearing parents say that they can’t even get their kids to talk anymore,” he said. “They’re – they’re tweeting one another.  So, this – kinda this craving of individualism, being alone, be – aloofness, that’s afflicting all of culture, all of society. We’re feeling it in the Church, too, because we’re not about ‘me.’  We’re about ‘us.’ We’re about the ‘our.’  We say ‘Our Father.’ But society is saying, ‘It’s me, myself and I.’”

Stephanopoulos also asked Dolan what the Catholic Church can say to gays and lesbians, who feel unwelcomed by the Church, which does not support same-sex marriage.

“Well, the first thing I’d say to them is, ‘I love you, too.  And God loves you.  And you are made in God’s image and likeness.  And – and we – we want your happiness.  But – and you’re entitled to friendship.’  But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially when it comes to sexual love – that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally,” Dolan said. “We got to be – we got to do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people.  And I admit, we haven’t been too good at that.  We try our darndest to make sure we’re not an anti-anybody.”

Dolan also addressed the new reality of having both a newly elected pope and also a former pope living at the same time. Stephanopoulos asked him about a recent photo of the two men together and if it was unsettling to see two Popes side-by-side.

“I think it was unsettling to a lot of us, because we’re just not used to having two – two popes, even though one of them is retired.  But I don’t think it was unsettling to him.  They almost tried to out-class each other in showing deference to one another.  And that’s not bad,” Dolan said.

Finally, Dolan praised Nelson Mandela — who was hospitalized this week with a lung infection — and said he was praying for him.

“I’m praying with and for him.  I had the honor of meeting him once.  And what the word that comes to mind when you speak of a giant like Nelson Mandela is reconciliation.  And that’s a good thing to remember about Easter,” Dolan said.

“We say that Jesus came to reconcile the world.  He wanted to embrace the world and bring them to his Father.  And the world took those hands and put them on a cross, because they don’t like being reconciled.  Nelson Mandela was one of those who could take his hands and embrace a nation.  The world is in his debt, because he taught us the power of reconciliation and forgiveness,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Ben Affleck: U.S. Can Do ‘Huge Amount’ to Help Resolve Conflict in Congo

Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC(NEW YORK) -- Actor Ben Affleck — founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative – said Sunday morning on “This Week” that the United States can do “a huge amount” to help resolve the violent conflict in war-torn Congo that flared up as rebels seized control of the eastern city of Goma last week.

“There’s a huge amount that the U.S. can do, frankly. I mean, we have a lot of levers there.  We can engage in the kind of high-level, shuttle diplomacy that you saw be so effective in Gaza,” said Affleck, who expressed concern about the deteriorating conditions in the African nation.

“I mean, one of the things we’re hearing from our people there is that the schools that we fund, people are hiding out in.  The hospitals are completely overwhelmed.  They’re offering free care for war victims.  A shell just hit a camp and paralyzed a 5-year-old boy from the neck down.  So you’re hearing all kinds of — the kinds of brutal, terrible stuff that you hear about,” Affleck said earlier in the interview.

Affleck was joined by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who argued that the United States — tied up at the moment by recent events in the Middle East — can and should exert influence in the troubled region in Africa.

“Well, we have a lot of influence in the region.  I just want to emphasize that we are in a position to make a difference there.  We have built relationships with Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, a lot of it around Somalia, Al-Shabaab, Lord’s Resistance Army coming out of Uganda.  We have influence in the region with key players.  We need to get there in that type of high-level capacity,” Smith said.

“And I think it isn’t happening at the moment, because the attention is elsewhere.  It’s Gaza.  It’s Libya.  But, look, it’s all tied together in Africa,” he said. “The instability in countries in Africa, the lack of governance that’s in the Eastern Congo, leads to instability and leads to the type of problems that we’re going to have to deal with.  It’s in our interest to get in there, broker a peace deal.”

Affleck praised the Congolese people for their “resilience” and added that our foreign policy as a country, as he sees it, should represent our values.

“I mean, the amazing thing about the Congolese people is their degree of resilience and that they’ve been through this kind of stuff in the past.  And so they’re still dedicated and working hard, and we’ve seen our schools still open, hospitals, and so on,” Affleck said.  ”I think our actions in foreign policy — and maybe I am naive — you know, represent our values and represent who we are.  And if any American were to go to that country and stand and see what was happening there, they would insist that we do what we could.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sen. Lindsey Graham Rejects Amb. Susan Rice’ Self-Defense

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), said Sunday he does not believe that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice relied on the most accurate information from the intelligence community when she provided a public explanation for the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

“I’m increasingly convinced that the best and current intelligence assessment on 16 September went against the video.  The video was a political smokescreen,” Graham said on “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “The actual facts were this was a coordinated, pre-planned terrorist attack.”

Speaking at the United Nations on Wednesday, Rice said that some of the attacks leveled against her by Republican lawmakers were “unfounded.”

“When discussing the attacks against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers,” Rice said.

Graham rejected that explanation again Sunday.

“My belief is that there was a mountain of intel to dispute the video characterization,” Graham said Sunday. “There was really no intel saying this was a spontaneous event.”

Asked whether he would oppose Rice’s potential nomination as Secretary of State, Graham would not repeat his past assertions that she should be disqualified for the post if President Obama chooses to nominate her.

“When she comes over, if she does, there will be a lot of questions asked of her about this event and others,” Graham said. “But I do not believe the video is the cause … I don’t believe it was ever the reason for this. That was a political story, not an intel story, and we’re going to hold people accountable.”

Earlier this month, Graham had said that because of the explanation Rice gave for the Benghazi attack, he was “dead set” on making sure Rice isn’t “promoted.”

On Sunday he added that he would pursue an investigation into Benghazi “like we got to the bottom of Iran-Contra,” referring to the 1980s scandal when the Reagan administration made a secret deal with Iran to sell them weapons in exchange for the release of American hostages held in Lebanon, and some of the money from the sale was diverted to support the Contra rebels fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

“We’re not going to let up on this,” he said.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin insisted that Republicans are unfairly focusing on Rice’s statements after the attack.

“If this were an NFL game, the critics of Ambassador Rice would be penalized for piling on,” Durbin said. “For goodness sake, she got the report from the intelligence community; she dutifully reported it to the public, just exactly what we expect her to do.

“They had decided not to include the al Qaeda references so we wouldn’t compromise our sources in Benghazi and in Libya,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio