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tv   This Week With George Stephanopoulos  ABC  August 11, 2013 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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good morning, and welcome to "this week." spy shift. the president reforms america's secret surveillance programs. was his hand forced by this man? >> no, i don't think he was a patriot. >> this morning, snowden's father responds. brand new details. will his son come home to face trial? what will he reveal next in only on "this week." plus this morning, the embassies reopen after the worldwide terror alert. are we at risk? and why is donald trump stumping in iowa? >> the republican party is in serious trouble. >> the roundtable weighs in on the politics right here on this sunday morning.
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good morning. in the news overnight, a dramatic rescue. hannah anderson, the kidnapped san diego teenager is safe after an all-out man hunt ended in the idaho wilderness. >> james lee dimaggio was shot and killed by a tactical agent. hannah anderson was located with dimagg dimaggio. she appears well. >> she will be reunited with her father this morning. one of the deadliest days in iraq for years. a series of car bombs all timed to hit those celebrating the end of ramadan. and across the region, 18 of the 19 american embassies and consulates closed after a global terror alert are open again. martha raddatz has been tracking the threats that led to the closing. are the embassies opening again now because u.s. officials believe the drone strikes in yemen this week actually got the plotters? >> george, officials say the plotters of this specific plan
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were not killed in strikes in yemen, but the dead are part of the network of terrorists trying to kill americans. intelligence officials believe the plan was to send a truck bomb into the u.s. embassy there. but a senior u.s. official, that because of the actions taken, the terrorists have likely moved the explosives out of the vehicle and are changing tactics. adding that we think that the imminent threat dissipated, but fear they have gone back to ground waiting for the next opportunity to strike. this immediate threat may have passed, but the threat of terrorism never passed. >> we heard from u.s. officials that tlebl that the nsa surveillance programs helped track this emerging threat. the president announced some reforms on friday in those programs. and had tough words for the nsa leaker edward snowden, said he was not a patriot. take a look. >> mr. snowden's been charged with three felonies.
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if he believes what he did was right, then like every american citizen, he can come here, appear before the court with a lawyer, and make his case. >> so, what have you been able to learn about what u.s. officials are trying to do to get snowden right now? >> some officials i've talked to wish that a deal could be struck to bring him back to the u.s. make no mistake. one official said he has done irrefutable damage. the more the terrorists know how we can monitor them, the less we will be able to. that's the single most important asset we have. some officials say we don't know all of what he has, we don't want him in the hands of the russians. whatever message it would send, he's gotten the president of the united states to make some changes. but the justice department has given no indication a deal is in the works. >> some pushing for it. thanks. now to the exclusive interview with lon snowden. the family's lawyer, thank you
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for joining us. some officials believe that a deal may be in the united states' interest. do you think your son is open to it? >> i'm not open it. that's what i'll share with my son. in terms of plea deal, at this point -- >> not open to it. >> not open to it. what i would like is for this to be vetted in open court for the american people to have all of the facts. what i have seen is political theater. i was disappointed in the president's press conference. i believe that's driven by his clear understanding that the american people are unhappy with what they've learned and more is forthcoming. >> what disappointed you in particular? >> what he suggested is superficial. we can go over that point by point if you would like, but a deal -- the only deal will be true justice. you know, justice should be the goal of our government. and it's also the goal of a civil society. >> those are the words of james
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madison. but i could make these points, george. number one, we have a date for visiting moscow. >> you're going to moscow. you have visas from the russians. >> we have visas, we have a date which we won't disclose because of the frenzy. >> it's imminent? >> very soon. and we intend to visit with edward and suggest criminal defense attorneys who have experience in espionage act prosecutions. there have only been ten in 100 years. we think it's important to go back to what president obama said about him not being a patriot. it was the voice of the american revolution, thomas payne who said it was someone who saves his country from his government. we heard about the alleged disasters that would ensue because of what edward has done. back to the bradley manning case, at the damage phase, the united states conceded not one person has been injured and impaired because of of what he disclosed. >> what was your reaction when you heard the president he's not a patriot?
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>> i would say, again, i think he was put in a tough spot. there's many questions that should have been asked that were not. i would have liked to see them ask about the dea special operation division, many other things, his treatment of whistle blowers. but if he's a patriot or others like peter king who says he's a traitor, what i would say is my son has spoken the truth. he sacrificed more than the president of the united states or peter king have ever in their political careers and their american lives. how they choose to characterize him really isn't -- >> you're not open to a deal, but it does sound like you're going to encourage your son to come back and face trial. >> i can add, because i wrote a letter with lon to the attorney general of the united states saying we would like to discuss conditions to make it permissible. >> pre-trial detention, no gag order, he would choose the venue. >> at a venue that was impartial because history of eastern
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virginia being a graveyard for defendants. they were not stated as ultimatums. they were subjects for discussion with non-circumvention clauses in there. understand, we can't dictate what the department does. >> as a father, you want your son to come home. >> as a father, i want him to come home if i believe that the justice system we should be afforded as americans is going to be applied correctly. if you consider the statements by the leaders in congress, they are irresponsible and inconsistent with our system of justice. they have poisoned the well in terms of a jury pool. where my son chooses to live the rest of his life is his decision. but i would like for him to be able to come back to the u.s. whether he's going to live here, and face this. i believe that the truth will shine through. it's clear that the american people regardless of the laws -- >> it does appear he broke the law. >> no.
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>> that's simply irresponsible to suggest before a trial someone has broken the law. may well be that what he disclosed is protected by the first amendment. the president conceded the there's something about irregular with the nsa program -- >> other avenues -- >> let's go with that. mr. snowden should have gone to the congress oversight committees. they have gone on record, dianne feinstein, guilty of treason. they knew for seven years what was going on and refused to disclose it to the american people. the best was some cryptic statements. if they knew what was going on, they would be stunned. edward snowden is supposed to go to them? that seems rather implausible because they were the ones responsible for the secrecy. >> i want to add to this. in terms of the president made the statement that the president had enacted whistle blower laws that protected contractors like my son edward, that is absolutely untrue. either the president is being mis-led by his advisers or he is
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intentionally mis-leading the american people. >> the whistle blower -- >> absolutely not. we should go through that. hypothetically, let's imagine he said there's a problem -- he got on an airline in honolulu and flew to washington, d.c., and lands at dulles and actually gets an audience, let's say, peter king, or dianne feinstein. how do we think he would have been received if he had a private audience? we have seen how they reacted, they spin the truth, he would have been buried and we would have never known the truth. >> i know you haven't been in direct contact with your son, but what do you know about his condition right now? >> i'll say that having spoken with his russian attorney, he said he's safe. he obviously is exhausted. but he's now needing a period of time where he can recoup his energy level and reflect on what he wishes to do going forward.
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that's from his attorney. we hope to meet with him very soon, with edward in the next weeks. >> good luck. thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> and the chairs of the foreign affairs committee, robert menendez, democrat, and republican congressman ed royce, the chairman of the house foreign affairs committee. senator, let me begin with you, you heard this from lon snowden, and his attorney, they don't believe that ed snowden could have gotten a fair hearing had he come to congress. >> i don't think that's true. i as a father appreciate the vigorous defense that mr. snowden is providing for his son. but in my view, ed snowden is a fugitive who deserves to be in an american courtroom, not in asylum in russia. i believe he would have got an fair hearing. all the time issues related to the government by whistle blowers who come forth and bring those issues to the attention of
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the congress is often the way to have action. he didn't need to undermine america's national security to pursue whatever his conscious led him to do. there's a process by which he could have pursued his interest in a way that doesn't undermine the national security of the united states. when we have our sources and methods known by our enemies, we undermine the national security of the united states. i would say it's easy since we have not, thank god, had an attack on american soil since september 11th, to minimize the threat, but it's real. and the terrorists only have to get lucky once. we have to do it right 100% of the time. that's a tough standard. >> and a key member of your committee from california who's chair of the subcommittee dealing with russia seems to have sympathy with edward snowden. this is him yesterday on c-span. >> i thought he was being loyal to the rest of us by letting the american people know that the government was getting out of hand. accepting him for asylum, i
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think, was not as hostile an act as its being portrayed. >> do you agree with those views on edward snowden and russia? >> no, i do not. and we have to keep in mind here that the conundrum we're in is one in which al-qaeda is learning how we track them, and second, you know, with this new master bomb-maker that they've used in yemen to develop this new strategy, the underwear bomber, for example, his attempted attack was at the behest -- at the -- with the support of this master bomb-maker. this master bomb-maker now is teaching his trade, we happen to know, to a lot of other bomb-makers in yemen, and they're going on the internet with this capability, and with the hope of bringing into the united states agents to carry out these types of attacks. attacks which are undetectable.
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and so we're in the process of trying to monitor what al-qaeda is doing overseas and here in the united states in order to try to replicate that particular attempted attack and to expand it demonstrably. so when you have someone who is giving out the means and methods in which we're tracking al-qaeda, it is a problem for the united states. and secondarily, when we're talking about the former head of the kgb, president putin in russia, this is not been an ally. as you know, the administration has tried to engage him on several issues such as missile defense, and has worked with him on trade issues. and we have not seen any reciprocation from the russians because this former kgb agent still has a sense of hostility
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to the west and to the united states. >> so, senator, how do we get the relationship with russia back on track? the president says there's no bad relations between he and president putin personally, but they are at odds on every major issue. >> well, look, you know, russia should be looking towards how do they achieve a prosperous future for the citizens versus going back to an authoritarian past. we seem to be more invested in the effort to create a relationship with russia that can be productive for both countries more than putin is. it seems to me that as we've tried to restart this relationship several times, maybe now is a moment to pause and think about how we're going to move forward with russia. they are unresponsive to us as it relates to the tragedies that are going on in syria. they are unresponsive to us as it relates to further nuclear arms reduction. they are unresponsive when they violate the rights of gay and lesbians including foreign visitors who would come to russia and be arrested. they are unresponsive when they
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stop the adoptions by americans of russian children. i look at that and think it's time to pause and think about the relationship and how to pursue it in a way to promote the national security and interest of the united states. >> do you think that ed snowden would get a fair trial in the united states? >> i think he could get a fair trial in the united states. and i think that the concern here is that in -- in going to china and going to russia and in particular with respect to the authorities that he's meeting with in russia, i think this further compounds the problem for u.s. intelligence. and i think we have existing whistle blower capabilities here in the united states. on a regular basis, whistle blowers come forward, give information to congress, and we attempt to address those issues. going to china and going to russia was not the solution to the problem. it compounds our difficulties in
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the united states with respect to al-qaeda. >> congressman, senator, thank you for your time. >> thank you. roundtable up next. joaquin castro and louis gohmert on obamacare and immigration. plus all kinds of action in iowa this weekend. and stumping for hillary, and donald trump, his interview on "this week". >> ted cruz, born in canada. is he eligible to be president of the united states? >> well, if he was born in canada, perhaps not. nada, perhaps not. is being a quarter million tweeters are tweeting. and 900 million dollars are changing hands online. that's why hp built a new kind of server. one that's 80% smaller. uses 89% less energy. and costs 77% less. it's called hp moonshot. and it's giving the internet the room it needs to grow. this&is gonna be big. hp moonshot. it's time to build a better enterprise. together.
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every august,he every august, the iowa state fear features pork tenderloins, deep-fried twinkies, a whole bunch of ambitious politician with the white house in their sights. it's three years away, but it's never too early. presidential hopefuls are out in force across the hawkeye state this morning. jonathan karl is there. >> reporter: good morning. donald trump was here, he gave a speech saying that passing
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immigration would be a death wish for the republican party. he may run, but that has some people raising their eyebrows and some rolling their eyes. could you be taken seriously? >> i have built a great company with a tremendous net worth. and beaten a lot of people that are very smart. and that's what the country needs. >> reporter: what do you say that a possible trump candidacy is a joke? it's a publicity stunt, to get more attention for yourself? >> interestingly, i filed applications last time, and i filed my net worth. i'm a private person, nobody knows. people were shocked at the number. now it's bigger than it was. how strong the company is, how much cash. it's a beautiful company. it's a company like this country should look. >> reporter: what's the number, what are you worth now? >> probably over $10 billion. >> reporter: if you were to run for president, how much would you be willing to spend? >> if i made a decision, i'd spend a lot. >> reporter: a modern
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presidential campaign would be half a billion dollars. >> it could. or more. >> reporter: that much? >> if i did it, i would spend what it took. >> reporter: your assessment on the field. give me the first word that pops to mind. marco rubio. >> immigration. >> reporter: rand paul. >> interesting. >> reporter: paul ryan. >> well, you know, i really like him a lot. but you have to look at what he says about the social security and medicare and medicaid. it's a tough road. but i do like. let's say medicare. >> reporter: chris christie. >> wonderful person. he's a wonderful guy. >> reporter: ted cruz. >> obamacare. he really is fighting on trying stop this absolute disaster for the united states called obamacare. >> reporter: donald trump. >> smart. >> reporter: you said a lot of things over the years that
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people say make you not serious. one of the big things is on the birth certificates. >> why does that make me not serious? i think that resonated with a lot of people. >> reporter: but you don't question he was born in the united states, do you? >> i have no idea. >> reporter: even at this point? >> was there a birth certificate? you tell me. you know some people say that was not his birth certificate. nobody knows. you don't know either. you're a smart guy. >> reporter: i'm pretty convinced. >> you said pretty. >> reporter: totally convinced. >> you said you're pretty convinced. let's see what happens over time, but it's not my issue, jonathan. my issue right now is much different. wait a minute -- my issue is economic. our country is being ripped apart by china and many other countries. that's my issue. >> reporter: but on this issue -- >> you said you're pretty sure. you're pretty sure, that's not acceptable. you have to be 100% sure. >> reporter: i'm 100% sure.
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>> i don't think you are. >> reporter: let me ask you this, ted cruise. born in canada. if he was born in canada, is he eligible to be president of the united states? >> if so, he's not. >> reporter: he was definitely born in canada. >> you'll have to ask him this. >> reporter: his mother was an american citizen. >> that'll be ironed out. i heard somebody told me he was born in canada. that's his thing. >> reporter: you played golf with john boehner the other day. >> i did. >> reporter: the big question is will house republicans pass a funding bill for the government that includes funding for obamacare. should they? >> well, that is a good question. i do think this, the budget should be funded. but i don't think that obamacare should be funded. and the republicans are in many ways their own worst enemy. i happen to be a republican. if they get together and were unified, i think they could do damage to get rid of obamacare chas very positive thing for the
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country. >> reporter: you know hillary clinton. >> i do. >> reporter: how touch ever tough will she be to beat if she's the nominee? >> she will be tough. >> reporter: what do they need to do to beat her or whatever the candidate is? >> they need to pick the right candidate. mitt romney was -- in theory, everything should have been good. it didn't. didn't resonate. wonderful guy, didn't resonate. they have to pick the right candidate. >> reporter: the iowa caucus are two and a half years away, but this place is crawling with possible presidential candidates. just this weekend, we have seen ted cruz, of course, donald trump, rick santorum, and even claire mccaskill was out here on behalf of hillary clinton. if you're here in iowa, looks like the 2016 presidential campaign is already well underway. >> all right begun. thanks very much. more from the powerhouse roundtable. joined by george will, donna brazile, louis gohmert, republican, and joaquin castro, democrat.
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both from texas. setting aside donald trump, it appears there's an intensity of activity in iowa, particularly on the republican side. we saw claire mccaskill out for hillary this weekend. it's in part because it's so wide open in the gop. >> both parties will be nominating someone who's not president. that opens it up a lot. the democratic field, they have a weak bench, and be careful what they wish for to clear the field and have no competition. the last time almost uncontested nomination was '56, with stevenson. he probably would have been beaten anyway, but he was beaten. competition is good for parties. the republican party is going to get their fill of it. >> no question, but there does not appear to be that much competition yet, understandably, with hillary clinton out there find of freezing the field. >> i don't think so. martin o'malley made noise he's interested, joe biden, and kristen gillibrand, elizabeth
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warren, a lot of buzz, and governor cuomo from new york. a lot of talk. and let me not forgot joe biden. he will call me this afternoon and remind me. it's too early to handicap the race, if hillary clinton gets into the race, there will be a coronation of her because there are so many democrats who last time around supported her, who i think are anxious to see her out there again. >> i read your brother, mayor of san antonio, heading to iowa as well. you accompanying him? >> he's not running for anything. he's headed out to the harkin steak fry in september. >> a lot of tilling of the ground. let me bring this back to you, congressman, because it seems there's a brewing potential civil war inside the republican party. you heard sarah palin last night
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said she was on the team of rand paul versus chris christie. >> there's a lot of competition out there. with regard to the democratic side, i seem to remember in 2007, this was hillary's nomination. obama may run just to be ready in 2016. the point being you never know. i think that's true where we are with the republicans. i don't think you could say. i would never have predicted that somebody named mccain would end up being the nominee after 2007 when the story was he was so low he had to carry his own bags. i don't think you should underestimate the power iowa has to attract people to the state fair of the fried butter. it is absolutely incredible. >> you have an excellent point. >> republicans have a lot of experience with civil war, 1912, roosevelt and taft. 1964, rockefellers and bhoop -- whoops, excuse me, goldwater. what republicans need to bear in
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mind is one number, 28. 18 states have voted democratic in six consecutive elections back to 1992. if they hold the base, and they look for 28 electoral votes, they've got 242 in those states, they'll find them. >> i think what's most problematic for republicans is they seem to be taken by the tea party more extreme base, so the candidates that are most appealing right now are the ted cruzs, the rand pauls, those folks. if they nominate them, it's 1964 all over again. that's not majority of americans. >> is that your fear? >> not really. at the tea party, i see people from all races, ages, genders. the thing they have in common is they're paying income tax. i don't think you should rule out district of columbia voting for republican if we'll pass my bill that ends the unfairness for d.c. in their income tax. they don't have a full voting member of congress. >> d.c. goes -- >> so get rid of their income tax.
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the gohmert bill. >> the pew survey says 84% of tea party voters vote in primaries. they're intense, they're organized and they come out to vote. that's going to matter. particularly in iowa with a crowded republican field. and rand paul starts with his father's constituency in a crowded field, that's a plurality. >> but the tea party is like a -- a controlled wildfire that is now burning the republican party, especially the republican party establishment. so i don't know if the tea party is good for the republican party in 2016 given the fact that it has narrowed the base of the party. >> and it's igniting an immediate confrontation. >> and i think that's why, george, i really think they have one or two more election cycles where they can continue like this. otherwise the infighting is getting so severe that i don't see how you sustain that. >> let's talk about the one coming right now. september 30th, government runs out of funding.
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rand paul and ted cruz, other republicans, marco rubio, saying unless obamacare is defunded, we shouldn't approve the government funding. president obama took that on friday. >> my friends in the other party have made the idea of preventing these people from getting health care their holy grail. their number one priority. the one unifying principle. that's the only thing that seemed to get the president really riled up on friday. he says it's an ideological fixation. how does it play out? do you believe that faction is going to succeed in pushing the leaders to hold the line? >> that's a false narrative. he says we're trying to keep people from getting health care. that's just not true. that's an absolute, blatant lie. we're not trying to keep anybody from getting health care. whether or not they have insurance under an exchange or not does not prevent people from
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getting health care. >> want to take that on? >> sure. the fact is you have millions and millions of americans who can't afford health insurance. it's helping people get health insurance. republicans have offered no other solutions or plans. >> we have -- >> but at this point, it's just ideology. it's just extreme ideology. >> does the government shut down? >> the congressman says that's a lie. remember when mark stain said the difference between a lie and a cat is a cat only has nine lives? the fact is the president has the power, particularly when supported as this one is by the mainstream media to set the narrative. the narrative will be that the republicans have chosen to cause chaos. it's a bad idea. >> to go down the line. >> you can not govern the country from one-half of the three branchs of government. can't be done. >> it appears the speaker of the house, john boehner, agrees with that.
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mitt romney gave a speech, one of his few. mitt romney was warning republicans of being accused of shutting down the government. >> mitt romney, romneycare is obamacare. they're not what i call distant relatives, maybe kisses cousins. but he supported john mccain and others that this is a foolish idea to try to shut the government down. and many of the veterans of previous government shutdown, newt gingrich and others are speaking out as well. >> what's going to happen? >> i don't know. even though we're one-half of the legislating body from which no spending occurs unless we agree, that is a position that allows us to force others to adhere to the constitution. we don't have to wait for the supreme court. we can force that. and we can say you're going to abide by the constitution whether the supreme court gets it wrong or right. we have the ability to force respect for the law. and some of us think that we
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ought to force them to do that. >> do you think you have the votes to defund obamacare? >> not right now. we'll see after august after people go home. as far as obamacare, though, when the president himself says it's not ready, so i'm giving this break to all big business. what about the poor guy making $14,000? he's going to pay extra income tax if he cannot afford to pay the several thousand dollars for an obamacare policy. who's caring about him? a lot of us do, but not this president because he didn't let the individual mandate have a year off. that only goes to big business. that's not fair. >> well, i would say, first of all, it's the law of the land. the congress passed it, the president signed it. and a conservative supreme court upheld it. it's the law of the land -- >> so how does he get to they a year for just rewrite and say we're going to delay it for a year. >> the problem is the house republicans, with all due respect, i'm a former hill staffer, not a member.
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they cannot agree on spending. just before the recess, they could not pass a transportation hub bill. i don't understand the republican party these days. they have set these budgetary goals and they're afraid to meet them. >> we're not afraid to meet them. >> too extreme. >> but you have to remember, and i think lyndon johnson said it, if two people agree on everything, one is unnecessary. it's good to have a good disagreement. that's how we got to the constitution -- >> lots of disagreements over immigration reform. we heard donald trump say passing it would be death for the republican party. and president obama spoke out on that on friday on friday as well, making this claim. >> i'm absolutely confident if the bill was on the floor of the house, it would pass. the problem is internal republican caucus politics. >> which means that the senate bill, unlikely to reach the
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floor of the house of representatives. >> and if it did, it wouldn't pass. >> it's unconstitutional, it goes back. >> what republicans are hearing, the new york times which wants the republican party to go away, saying that if only they would pass immigration reform, it would prosper. there's a dissonance there republicans don't like. i'm much more sympathetic to immigration reform than most republicans are, but how many of your members, probably none, face electoral defeat if they oppose immigration reform. >> i don't know. but i think you would be shocked how many -- i think most everybody in our party would vote for an immigration reform bill once they can be sure the boarder is secure. but until -- >> including legalization for the undocumented in the country? >> i think we could get an agreement on all of those things. but if you pass a dream act without the border being secured, you're going to have to
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have another one and another one and another one because people are going to continue to come. george, you had an editorial we had a net zero, but you still continue -- our border patrol are saying we're getting three to five times the numbers coming while we talk about legalization. secure the border and we get the bill passed. >> the number of apprehensions, the crossings is at a 40-year low. we have double the number of border patrol agents than 2004 when president bush was in office. the border has never been more secure than now. >> in 1916 it was. >> right now the plan is to take immigration reform in pieces. take border security first and then consider other aspects. can that work? is there a way to get comprehensive reform? >> as democrats we want a comprehensive bill. theoretically, if you did it piecemeal, if you had a bill for each piece, you could send it to
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conference, have a final conference bill and have each chamber pass it. but that's not the intention of the republicans in the house. >> they're cherry picking. do you support the kids act? i guess it's the dream act. >> i support securing the border, and until that, with i don't think we ought to be talking about who gets legalized. once we secure the border as determined by the border states within not homeland security. your new, brilliant, one of my favorite democrats -- >> here comes the but. >> what i've learned in my eight years, when you hear comprehensive, republican or democrat, it means we have a lot of bad laws to pass, but can't do it unless we have a big bill. >> george, you get the last word. >> furthermore, the well has been poisoned by the president insisting on his unilateral anti-constitutional power to rewrite laws and not enforce laws he doesn't like. no one on the republican side believes that anything in the immigration bill will be binding
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on an unleashed president. >> we're going to have to leave it right there. great discussion. the billionaire founder of amazon buys "the washington post." how did bezos change the news business? that debate's next. ezos change the news business? that's coming up next. "the wash post. how did bezos change the news business? that's coming up next. " how did bezos change the news business? that's coming up next. my dna...s me. it helps make me who i am every piece is important... it's like a self-portrait this part.. makes my eyes blue...
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one bucket of data for everyone on the plan, unlimited talk and text on smart phones. now, everyone's in the spirit of sharing. hey, can i borrow your boat this weekend? no. [ male announcer ] share more. save more. at&t mobile share for business. ♪ major shakeup ithe major shakeup in the media world. the graham family's "washington post" bought by jeff bezos of amazon. what it teaches us about the future of news. our panel weighs in next. jeff bezos of amazon. what it temps us about the future of news. our panel weighs in next.
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amazon founder jeff bezos send a thunder bolt through the media world with the surprise purchase of the washington post. we've got an expert panel on what it means for that world and what bezos may do with the post. rebecca jarvis has background. >> reporter: the paper that brought down nixon and breaking
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news for more than a century this week made news. after 80 years, the graham family sold the washington post for $250 million to amazon founder and ceo jeff bezos. >> we will become a place that does its traditional jobs but tries things. and i hope it will succeed. >> reporter: it won't be easy. sales and profits both are shrinking. circulation is down 40% in the last decade. bezos told employees in order to turn it around, we will need to experiment. which is exactly how amazon got started. today it's worth more than $130 billion. surpassing expectations as he told cynthia mcfadden in 2009. >> did you have any idea how it was going to work? >> no, the business plan was very modest compared to what happened. >> reporter: bezos isn't alone. other billionaires have jumped into the print business.
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what does he do next? it's innovate or die. >> it's dangerous not to evolve. if you want to ensure your extinction, cease to evolve. >> reporter: for "this week," rebecca jarvis. abc news, new york. >> joined again by george will, your cool yum has been in the washington post for, what, 40 years? and david, for ten years. and bloomberg west tv, and arianna huffington, editor and chief of the huffington post. started the new media. your selling price was higher than the washington post just a couple of years ago. >> yes, it's interesting how everything has changed. but it's interesting how much faster you can create a brand now. obviously the washington post is a historic, legendary media brand. but look at brands that were created, you know, in the last few years. twitter, 2006, instagram, 2010, huffington post, 2005.
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so that changes dramatically the media landscape. but i think this is wonderful news. >> and everything arianna mentioned, i believe you can add tumblr, instagram, they all went for higher prices than the washington post. >> the boston globe was bought for $1.1 billion in 1993, and sold for $70 million. they gave it away. he's earned a place in the pantheon of american business with forbes, jones, sears and roebuck, all of those. but he's a genius, maybe not a magician. >> does he have to be a magician? >> i think he bought it for the sheer intellectual challenge of it. that's a big one. >> i want to get to that question, but first about donald graham. one of the old media families. they loved the washington post. clearly didn't to want let it go. you wrote about his final speech
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to the post and said this was kind of a tragedy. >> i think his heart was broken to have to give it up. but the post was diminishing year by year, losing money and circulation. it was losing and there was no answer. there was no answer. >> was it avoidable or not? >> even if he made different moves, made it more national than local, embraced politico in some way and made it his own. i don't know. i don't know if that would have saved it. new york is very different from washington. the new york times is very different from the washington post. and the new york times has enough challenges as it is. here's what interests me most, though, jeff bezos is a great innovator in technology. that's terrific. he has vastly more money than the grahams, which is important to invest in the newspaper. but will he run a newspaper that puts pressure on power. that's what interests us most. that's not a value, that's a universal among anyone, much less -- >> some have suggested the
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opposite. perhaps he's buying protection for his business. >> precisely. >> cory johnson, you cover jeff bezos. you've covered -- and as i talk about his motives, george will says it's the intellectual challenge. >> you talk to people who know jeff bezos, the first thing out of everyone's mouth is he's smart. it's interesting in a world of smart people, hedge fund managers, entrepreneurs and technology. he's the guy they say is smart. he's quick and he's thoughtful. one of the interesting things is he built his business initially on books. of all the things he could have sold, he chose books. he chose seattle because there was a distributor that helped him take on barnes and nobles. now they are struggling. similarly, he has a love of the written word. one of the interesting anecdotes that i have picked up from former executives and board members, he starts the meeting with study hall. if you're an executive, and you
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want to bring a project, launch a multi-billion dollar business, bring the plan to the corporate meeting or to the board meeting, single-spaced, no graphics, no powerpoint slides. everyone sits and reads a multi-page memo in silence and discusses it. he loves the written word and the language. i think that's interesting. >> that is fascinating. >> tell us about the washington post. >> and he's a distribution master. somebody who can actually come up with different distribution channels for great journalism. and to david's point, somebody who really can use the internet to keep the feet of the powerful to the fire more effectively because the internet allows you to do that constantly. >> one of the ways the internet is doing it, and those who have succeeded in the new media tend to have, george will, a more clear ideological bent. arianna, the huffington post,
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and others on the right. and even the billionaires who bought big newspapers seem to succeed when they have a political agenda rather than a general agenda. >> to the extent we know his political philosophy, it's a techie libertarianism. for gay marriage, against taxation on people like him which is perfectly sensible in my point of view. it seems to me his ideology is less important to his motives than the challenge of seeing if he can make this go. when gutenberg started with the printed word is not over because of the digital. >> but it's changing dramatically right now. >> and it would be incredibly important if he can establish a beyond left and right position for the washington post. just look at the things we are not covering at the moment because they are divided in the absolute left-right way. the war on drugs, today in the new york times, what's happening to the california prison system.
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we're having a major incarceration drug war crisis. somebody -- >> we know about them because we are covering these things. one of the very few places that invests in it, that puts in the investment is a place like the washington post or the new york times or i should say the new yorker as well. now, mike bloomberg is a great innovator, but i have to say i've heard straight from the horses mouth, from mayor bloomberg that he detests the new york times. >> does he want to buy it and change it? >> he might want to do the latter. but it's not up for sale as they have made clear for the moment. but bloomberg thinks it's an opinion on the front page. he really loathes it. that may be because he's covered day after day and has an ego the size -- >> i wouldn't imagine a new york mayor thought differently. >> no one was the richest mayor and has the capacity to buy it. he's done astonishing things in
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the media. being a newspaper proprietor is the exception. so jeff bezos may in fact be a wizard in many ways. but it remains to be seen if he has the same values as the grahams. and if you trust don graham as i learned to in ten years at the washington post, i never had to trust him more than in his judgment to revive the washington post. >> cory -- >> but one quick thing, it's not just about strengthening journalism. it's also about looking at news and seeing how can we reinvent it, how can we redefine it to move beyond simply what is covering corrupt and broke ton cover what is working. with his foundation, he's done an amazing job. >> but all the journalism experiments, they are trying cover what is working and don't end up creating a profit. you guys at aol had to sell patch covering local news because it just doesn't work. >> our coverage of what is
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working has been one of the most profitable. the public and readers love it, advertisers love it. but it's critical when you have a more and more dysfunctional government to focus on what individuals, communities, startups are doing that is actually working and help scale it. it's essential right now. he can help do that. >> in five years, what does the washington post look like based on what you know about jeff bezos? >> to throw it back to the earlier premise, taking aside his work online. if you expand the conversation wider, what's worked in sports and celebrity coverage. there are passionate sites that cover culture and sports that haven't had to take a left or right view. it's not just old media in a new world. i think what you can expect from bezos is investment. the way they're investing in amazon is incredible. they have spent more in the last six months investing than any year in their history. their spending like crazy to build up and invest.
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but also experimentation. you would expect him as an owner to push hard to find new ways to develop media that's appropriate for the new age that maybe the graham family couldn't figure out. don graham sits on the board of facebook. he is not a rube when it comes to technology. >> didn't invest enough. george will. >> hard on bookstores, not on books. people are reading a lot. i'm in 400 newspapers, i have no idea how many people read my column in the paper or on web. i'd like to find out. maybe he can help me. >> great discussion, everyone. thank you so much. and the senator who turned his legislative work into an action-packed thriller. action-packed thriller.
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time now for the "sunday spotlight." shining on byron dorgan. the former senator from north dakota caught us by surprise when he started penning spy novels after retiring from the senate.
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as he told john karl, the plot of his latest thriller is based on intel he picked up in congress. >> reporter: it's the terror plot in the movie live free or die hard. >> it's crashing. >> they just hit the entire financial sector. >> and the top of the real-life u.s. threat list. >> the next pearl harbor could be a cyber attack. >> reporter: and now the key plot in a new book called gridlock by former senator byron dorgan. >> it might be terror, cyber terror shutting down an electrical system. i decided to write a thriller. >> reporter: the one-time author of appropriations bills is churning out action thrillers. this is the second. when you were writing the bills, they didn't read like thrillers. >> you were in politics, now you write fiction, same thing. not quite. >> reporter: gridlock traces a
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global conspiracy engineered by iran and venezuela. using a hacker in amsterdam to shut down the u.s. power grid. with the action colliding in where else? his home state of north dakota. >> it's a novel, but it relates to some really serious issues in the country. if we were to lose power for a week, a month, could ruin the american economy. >> reporter: droe -- he isn't the first senator to dabble in fiction writing. it includes former senator bob graham, and current senators mckulski and boxer. you will not find deep human insight in a novel written by a senator. you need to sit in on a committee hearing to know that. can we find deep human insight from a u.s. senator? >> i hope so. fiction is a different genre for me but i hope that you read that and can't sleep after wards, and can't stop reading and can't get to sleep. >> reporter: for "this week,"
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jonathan karl. >> thanks to byron dorgan for that. now we honor our fellow americans who serve and sacrifice. this week the pentagon released the name of one soldier who was killed in afghanistan. thank you for spending part of your sunday with us. check out "world news" with david muir tonight, and i'll see you tomorrow on "gma." i'll see you tomorrow on "gma."
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>> next a special hearing in san francisco superior court is about to begin. will the judge approve the governor's request for a cooling-off period to avert another possible bart strike? we will have a live report. >> a live look outside. the golden gate bridge. no surprise here. plenty of fog but clearing quicker today for some warmer temperatures. i'll have a look at the seven-day outlook
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