Full Transcript: Face the Nation on February 18, 2018

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NANCY CORDES, CBS NEWS: Today on FACE THE NATION: Teenagers at a Florida school map out a new national movement to curb gun violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)NANCY CORDES, CBS NEWS: Today on FACE THE NATION: Teenagers at a Florida school map out a new national movement to curb gun violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMMA GONZALEZ, SENIOR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks, not because we're going to be another statistic about mass shootings in America, but because we are going to be the last mass shooting.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CORDES: Can they change the political dynamic?

We will talk to five students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School about their plans to march on Washington and hold a national day of protest.

And after the FBI admits it failed to follow through on warnings about the suspected shooter, President Trump slams the agency for wasting time trying to prove his campaign colluded with Russia -- this as special prosecutor Robert Mueller hand down a blockbuster indictment against 13 Russian nationals, saying they communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign to coordinate political activity.

Russian officials call the indictment blabber and a fantasy. Is the U.S. doing enough to safeguard the next election?

We will talk to the head of House Oversight Committee, Republican Trey Gowdy, Delaware Democrat Chris Coons and South Carolina Republican Tim Scott.

Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, will be here, too.

Plus, congressional Republicans are retiring in record numbers. We sat down with four of them, Florida's Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, California's Ed Royce, Pennsylvania's Charlie Dent, and Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, to find out why they're leaving.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CORDES: Senator, when you talk about immigration, mass violence, opioids, has Congress lost its ability to solve big problems?

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: You know, it would be hard to argue that we haven't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CORDES: It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I'm Nancy Cordes.

We have got a lot of news to get to today, but we're going to begin those students at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

They are channeling their anguish into what they hope will be a new national movement. They rallied yesterday just a few miles from the scene of the massacre that took 17 lives.

We spoke with five of them just moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GONZALEZ: We're going to do a march in March on Washington. Students all over the country are going to be joining ups, because the adults have let us down. The people that we put into power who should be working for us, they have us working for them.

And that's pitiful. That's pathetic. And we have to do the dirty work here, and we're going to do the dirty work. We're going to shoulder this heavy burden, and we're going to do it well.

CAMERON KASKY, JUNIOR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: From here on, we are creating a badge of shame for any politicians who are accepting money from the NRA. It is a special interest groups that has most certainly not our best interests in mind. And this cannot be the normal. This can be changed.

And it will be changed. And anybody who tells that you it can't is buying into the facade that's being created by the people who have our blood on their hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CORDES: We will have a lot more of that interview coming up later in the broadcast.

But, right now, we turn to Congressman Trey Gowdy, the head of the House Oversight Committee, who is in Greenville, South Carolina, this morning.

Mr. Chairman, good morning.

What do you say to these kids who argue that politicians like you who take money from the NRA have blood on their hands?

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, the first thing I would say to those children and my own is, I'm sorry that you have grown up in a generation that has only known violence and there's no sanctuary, there's no place of refuge.

The schools aren't safe. The churches aren't safe, the concerts. So, I applaud their activism.

I would encourage them to look at three components, the shooter himself, the instrumentality, and then any form of mitigation, whether it is magazine capacity, whether it is the speed with which the projectile is expelled.

But you have to look at all three. You have to look at the shooter, and you have to look at the instrumentality by which that shooter is killing people. I applaud their activism.

And if I were them, I would be as angry as they are.

CORDES: When you talk about instrumentality, are you suggesting that weapons that can kill or injury many people in a short period of time should be more restricted than they are now?

GOWDY: Well, you can certainly look at that.

But, of course, Nancy, some of the more heinous mass killings we have had involved semiautomatic pistols. And I have had people, when I was a prosecutor, kill with all manner of instrumentality, from shovels to bricks to hands.

You're equally dead.

(CROSSTALK)

CORDES: But you can't kill 500 people -- wait a minute, Congressman.

In Las Vegas, the shooter was able to injure 500 people in minutes. You can't do that with a shovel or a brick.

GOWDY: No, you cannot. And that's why I say you should look at the instrumentality and -- and -- and magazine capacity and the speed with which the projectiles, including bump stocks -- but you also have to look at the shooter.

And, Nancy, in -- in -- in almost half the instances of mass shootings, there was notice provided to someone that the person was going to do what -- what he ultimately did.

In school shootings, almost 80 percent of the time, there was notice provided. So you have to look at all of it. If you only look at the instrumentality, and you don't look at the person who is pulling the trigger, then I think you're doing a disservice to everyone who wants to see an end to killings, including mass killings.

CORDES: So, I think what these kid are saying is, we have looked at all of these things. We just haven't done anything.

Why, for example, hasn't Congress taken action on bump stocks? This is something that both sides agree should be curtailed. If you're saying that we need to make it easier for law enforcement to step in when someone exhibits symptoms of violence, why don't we make it easier for them to do that?

GOWDY: Well, you could. You could impose a duty to disclose.

We have it in other categories of law. You could impose a lawful duty to disclose if -- if you hear that someone is planning to do something. In the shooting in Florida, you didn't need a duty to disclose. People did come forward and put the FBI on notice.

Bump stocks turn -- turn semiautomatic into fully automatic weapons. So, fully automatic weapons are already illegal. So, I am fine with doing away with any instrumentality that converts a semiautomatic to a fully automatic.

(CROSSTALK)

CORDES: So, you're a member of leadership. When will see a vote on that?

GOWDY: I'm not a member of leadership.

But I'm happy to ask them when and if we're going to see a vote. I don't know that it requires a vote of Congress. I think ATF could regulate bump stocks tomorrow.

CORDES: You're -- you're the chair of the House Government Oversight Committee, so I want to get your take on these 13 Russians who were indicted on Friday.

You're a former prosecutor. What do these indictments tell us about how sophisticated this operation was and whether they're going to try it again?

GOWDY: Well, they're definitely going to try it again.

And I think what this indictment tells us is what some of us have known all along. Russia is not our friend. Russia has tried to subvert the fundamentals of our democracy.

For those of us who supported Bob Mueller from day one and said give him the time and the resources and the independence to do his job, this is his job. That is exactly what we wanted him to do.

I have known all along that Russia tried to subvert our 2016 election, and they're going to do the same thing in 2020 and every election thereafter, unless and until we do what the indictment said, which is we view this as America being the victim.

In this particular instance, they used the Clinton campaign. They tried to disparage her campaign.

CORDES: Sure.

GOWDY: Next cycle, it could be a Republican. But Americans are the victims of what Russia did, not Republicans, not Democrats. All of us are victims.

CORDES: So, then why hasn't Congress passed any legislation to safeguard our election? We have known abut this Russian meddling now for about 18 months.

GOWDY: You're right. Congress doesn't regulate state elections.

And Jeh Johnson, whom I have been critical of in the past, tried to put the states on notice in the fall of 2016. It didn't get a lot of media coverage because there was an "Access Hollywood" tape that came out that same day.

So, you're better able to speak from your line of work as to why what Jeh Johnson warned us of in the fall of 2017 didn't get much media coverage.

But I don't think you want Congress regulating the 50 states and their election cycles.

CORDES: Sure, but you do have control, for example, over legislation that could require more disclosure from people on social media about who they are, who is backing them when they air ads online, for example.

GOWDY: Yes.

And I had that conversation with the three media giants. You and I just got through discussing the Second Amendment. This is the First Amendment.

I asked Facebook, I asked Twitter, I asked all of them, how does a functioning democracy benefit from false information? I can't imagine how we benefit from someone perpetuating lies.

But I got silenced. So, that's a First Amendment issue when you begin to regulate information. And I happen to believe in something called the truth. I actually believe that certain things are true and not true. But I couldn't even get the media giants to agree to that.

So, that's a First Amendment issue. I would tell all my fellow citizens, be really skeptical of anything you read on social media and do you your own independent research.

CORDES: Sounds like Americans are all going to have to get a lot more skeptical about what they see on social media.

Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

GOWDY: Yes, ma'am. Thank you.

CORDES: Joining us now is Delaware Democrat Chris Coons. He sits on the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees.

Senator Coons, thanks so much for being with us.

What is your biggest take away from these new indictments by Robert Mueller? The president says this shows, point blank, no collusion.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: The president says that.

And a lot of other folks, law enforcement leaders and observers, say it neither proves nor disproves collusion.

It shows the strength and the organization of the Russian campaign to interfere in 2016. It does show that three different Trump campaign officials were contacted by Russians, but they didn't realize they were Russians.

But I will remind you, Nancy, there was that famous June 9 meeting in Trump Tower, where Donald Trump Jr. and several other senior campaign officials welcomed with open arms Russians who claimed they had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

That hasn't yet been proven, that there might have been collusion, but I think it's getting closer.

CORDES: What do you think the chances are that it actually did affect the house come of the race?

COONS: In a race that this was close, where moving 140,000, 150,000 votes in three states one way or the other could have changed the outcome, it's hard to say that this didn't affect the outcome.

It was an exceptionally close election. I will remind you one candidate won the popular vote, the other won candidate won the electoral vote. But it's not yet clear whether the Russians succeeded in actually changing votes.

What's clear is that they spent millions of dollars and had hundreds of people working in a troll farm in St. Petersburg to intentionally undermine one candidate, Hillary Clinton, and support another, Donald Trump.

CORDES: So, then why aren't Democrats out there all the time banging the drum on this issue, pushing legislation to protect our electoral system?

COONS: We are.

As you know, I have introduced bipartisan to try and protect special counsel Robert Mueller. I'm concerned about the possibility that his investigation will be interfered with by the president.

We just heard last week in front of the House Intelligence Committees from Donald Trump's intelligence leaders, his head of CIA, head of FBI, head of the -- the director of national intelligence, we can expect the Russians to do this again.

We should be taking action against Russian interference in our election.

CORDES: Are we taking enough?

COONS: We aren't.

The most important thing the president should have done by now is to use the new sanctions authority that the Senate gave him by vote of 98-2 last year to push back on Russia and impose some pain, some cost for having interfered with our election.

So far, no overt sanctions have been imposed. No real action has been taken.

CORDES: And you think that just emboldens the Russians?

COONS: Absolutely.

With someone like Putin, he's only going to stop when we stop him.

CORDES: Russian officials say that this is purely a fantasy, in their words.

So, should the U.S. be retaliating beyond sanctions in ways that we aren't right now?

COONS: There are actions we should be taking to increase the pressure on Russia to back off. We should be engaging our European allies, who have a commonality of interests with us in this.

And we should be using the sanctions authorities that the Senate has given to President Trump. To me, the most maddening question is, why is President Trump failing to act to protect our democracy, when there is indisputable proof now that Russia interfered in our 2016 elections?

CORDES: Let's talk about this Florida shooting.

Given what we know right now, is it possible that legislation, any legislation could have prevented the tragedy that we saw there?

COONS: Possible? Yes. Likely that that action will be taken in this Congress? No.

And I have to say, Nancy, having heard the voices of other teenagers from Parkland whose high school classmates were gunned down, it is heartbreaking. I am heart-sick over the fact that we in Congress have failed to act to protect our teenagers, to protect schools and churches, to protect America's safe space from the scourge of gun violence.

There are things we should do to make it harder for people with mental health problems, people who are convicted felons, people who have domestic violence convictions from easily getting guns. There are bipartisan bills in this Congress and the last one that have not been taken up and acted on.

CORDES: Has your party lost some of its drive on this issue? You talk about bipartisan legislation. You had a big breakthrough, it seemed, a couple of months ago after the shooting in Las Vegas, Democrats and Republicans co-sponsoring legislation to limit bump stocks, these devices that makes semiautomatic weapons more lethal.

But we haven't heard anything about that in months. Why hasn't your party kept the heat on?

COONS: There have been efforts.

But let's be blunt. One party controls the floor in the Senate and the House. The Republicans determine what is going to get a vote.

CORDES: So, there's no word of optimism that you can offer to those students in Florida who are pushing for legislation?

COONS: Nancy, I -- I am usually a very optimistic person. I work tirelessly across the aisle.

I am not optimistic that, until there is real action by the American public to demand change in Congress, that we're going to see real action to confront gun violence out of this Congress.

CORDES: Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, thanks so much for being with us today.

COONS: Thank you, Nancy.

CORDES: And we will be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CORDES: We're back with Republican Senator Tim Scott. He's in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, this morning.

Senator, good morning.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Good morning, Nancy. Good to be with you.

CORDES: Senator, you heard from those students at the top of this broadcast.

SCOTT: I did.

CORDES: And you, I'm sure, understand the pain that they are going through, because your constituents lived through their own terrible shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, a few years ago.

But you have always pushed for fewer gun restrictions. Do you stand by that?

SCOTT: I stand by the position I have always been in.

And I'm not sure that I have been pushing for fewer gun restrictions. What I have pushed for is for us to use common sense on how to solve the problem. Remember that, just couple of years ago, Charleston, South Carolina, Emanuel Church, nine murdered in church.

I want to make sure that we can solve that problem. And when you look at core components that are missing, it seems to be we, the system, have not done the right job. In Charleston, the background checks could have prevented that person, Mr. Roof, from getting a weapon.

In Sutherland Springs, Texas, the domestic violence incident, had it been reported, it could have prevented perhaps that situation from occurring.

We all say, if you see something, say something. In Parkland community, we saw people reporting. There were 20 calls to the sheriff's department. They responded. The FBI received a legitimate, credible tip. And it was not followed upon.

So, what we have seen in three major atrocities is that the system that was in place simply was not followed. So, my focus is not on having or not having a gun debate. We're going to have that. The students are very clear. March is coming. We're going to have that debate. And I look forward to participating in that conversation.

But the reality of it is that three incidents could have been avoided, prevented if the system itself had worked. I would not have gone to the funeral of my good friend Clementa Pinckney if the system had worked.

And so we need to fix that. And unlike my good friend, who I do appreciate, Senator Coons, I believe that we will get something done this year. We can fix the background system.

CORDES: Why haven't you gotten something done already, Senator? You have co-sponsored legislation to fix these background checks? Why hasn't it gone anywhere?

SCOTT: Absolutely.

Well, we are putting more pressure on our system, and to include in the Senate, to make sure that that legislation gets to the floor. Senator Grassley has been very clear, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that he plans to bring that legislation up.

It is bipartisan legislation supported from folks like Chris Murphy in Connecticut to myself in South Carolina. The reality of it is that we have a sense of urgency about getting that done. And I'm very hopeful that this is the time that we see this nation's leadership united to solve a problem that could have prevented atrocities.

CORDES: I think a lot of people are hopeful about.

I want to get your take on something President Trump.

He says: "Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time," the FBI, "trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. There is no collusion."

I know he doesn't like the investigation, but is it fair to link it to the deaths of these children?

SCOTT: I think we have to separate the issue.

Without any question, the first issue is, in fact, that the FBI missed an opportunity to weigh in heavily, and perhaps prevent something from happening. That is a tragedy. That should be investigated.

I believe that Oversight in the House and Senate will do so. A separate issue is how they spend their time and whether or not the time is well spent on this Russian situation.

I will tell you that, from my perspective, that so many folks in the FBI are doing all that they can to keep us safe. The reality of it is that they are two separate issues.

CORDES: And so where do we go from here on the issue of Russian meddling?

You know, you have got 13 Russians who were indicted. But Congress has failed to act. And a lot of people would say that the administration has not taken this seriously, because the president himself still does not seem to believe that Russia meddled in our election system.

SCOTT: Well, there's no question. The Russians have done all that they can to meddle in our elections, without any question in my mind or my heart.

The question is, was it effective? And the answer is, it was not effective.

(CROSSTALK)

CORDES: Well, we don't know that, Senator, right? We don't know whether it was effective or not. How would we know that?

SCOTT: Well, so far, our intelligence agencies and the Mueller investigation have all come to the same conclusion so far, that the impact that the Russians had, their objective of meddling in our elections to change the outcome, so far, there is no evidence that suggests that it has been effective.

So we're going to continue the investigation. And I support Mr. Mueller moving forward in his investigation, because I think it is very important for the American people to have a crystal-clear perspective on whether or not the Russians' efforts were in fact impactful.

CORDES: With all due respect, the special counsel has said that they can't make a conclusion about whether it was effective or not.

But, moving forward, South Carolinians go to the polls again in June. What has Congress done and what have you signed on to that can assure them that these are going to be free and fair elections, and that they won't be influenced by Russians or other bad actors?

SCOTT: That's a great question.

As you heard from my friend Trey Gowdy earlier, the election process is, by and large, a state function. I believe that we have been sending very clear signs. And the integrity of our system has proven to be very effective at this point and very good.

There has been very, very few incidents of challenges at the ballot box based on the Russians' influence. The reality of it is that, when you look at what they were attempting to do, it was to sow social discord in this nation and to use advertising as a mechanism to change voters' minds and to bring hostility and challenges between our races in this country.

The polarization of this nation is part of the Russian objective, but there's been no evidence, none at all, that they were impactful on the boxes.

CORDES: Senator, Senator Tim Scott, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We really appreciate it.

And we will be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CORDES: The controversy over White House security clearance may have moved off the front pages this week, but when we sat down with four retiring congressional Republicans, they had strong feelings about how the White House handled domestic abuse allegations against former Staff Secretary Rob Porter.

Here are Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, plus Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent, Florida's Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and California's Ed Royce.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CORDES: When other countries see that this White House can't even get its story straight on something as simple as a security clearance, the rest of the world thinks what?

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R), FLORIDA: Security clearances for people who have not passed those check marks, it's just not the normal way that we should be handling classified information.

So, I think it's sort of shocking when you see the list of all of the folks who have had access to sensitive documents who have not been cleared in order to view them. I find it shocking.

CORDES: Should John Kelly step down?

REP. ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: No, I don't think John Kelly should step down.

I think we are -- we're in a process now where the committee of jurisdiction here is doing an investigation of just this issue. And I think you wait until you get the facts, and then you can move forward from that.

CORDES: Do you agree?

FLAKE: Well, I think he ought to step before a microphone and explain how this latest situation came to be. I think we do need a better explanation. But I think he can, if he will do it.

ROS-LEHTINEN: It's bigger than one man, anyway. We get another chief of staff, the problem continues.

REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The White House -- the White House, I think, completely mishandled this whole Porter situation.

That said, prior to John Kelly coming in to the chief of staff's job, the White House had been pretty much chaos and anarchy and was very dysfunctional. And so he did bring a great degree of stability and order and discipline to the management of the House until this recent episode.

So, at this moment, I would like to find out who would be the replacement before I would call for him to step down.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CORDES: The rest of our conversation with those four members about why they're leaving Congress will air in our next half-hour.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CORDES: We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CORDES: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. I'm Nancy Cordes.

Our next guest, John Podesta (INAUDIBLE) campaign. His private e-mails were hacked and released publicly by Russian-backed entities during the campaign.

(INAUDIBLE) joining us.

Thanks so much for being here (ph).

JOHN PODESTA, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: It's nice to be back, Nancy.

CORDES: All right. For anyone who voted for Hillary Clinton, these new indictments mean what?

PODESTA: Well, look, it's a tragedy for the American people, really. As Mr. Mueller said in his indictment, it was an act of information warfare against the United States, against our democracy. So I think it's -- I think it's (INAUDIBLE) to those of us who were on the receiving end of these (INAUDIBLE) the American people because there -- that there was direct interference with our democratic institutions.

CORDES: The deputy attorney general was very careful on Friday to say that we don't know whether or not this operation swayed the election. You've had a lot of time to think about this.

PODESTA: Yes.

CORDES: Where do you come down on that issue?

PODESTA: Well, look, this was one part of a complex, active interference in the measures. This didn't even deal with the hacking. This was only about what was going on in the social media and the information campaign that was being done there.

But there were 80 people, millions of dollars spent. And as one of your previous guests, Senator Coons, noted, we won the popular vote by three million votes. They were pushing votes -- just to give one example to Jill Stein, her vote in Michigan, in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin was greater than the gap between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in those states. So you can't prove that it did affect the outcome, but it certainly seems likely that it had some impact.

CORDES: But it does beg the question, how is it that these Russian operatives knew to focus on purple states like Michigan and Wisconsin and your campaign didn't?

PODESTA: Well, of course we spent a lot of time and energy and effort in all those states.

CORDES: Hillary Clinton herself did not spend much time in those states.

PODESTA: We -- you know, we had -- Tim Kaine was there. Barack Obama was in -- and she spent enormous time in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

CORDES: Sure.

PODESTA: And -- and we spent a lot of effort. We had more staff in Wisconsin that even President Obama had in 2012. But -- but I think that begs the question. I think we -- we focused on the places we thought were -- that were, you know, in contest. And -- and at the end of the day, we fell short in those states. And I think that this active measures effort by the Russians could have tilted the election in Donald Trump's favor.

But I think what the real issue is, is, you know, how he's reacted to it. And in that context, if we're -- if this is information warfare, then I think he's the first draft dodger in the war. I mean he has done nothing but tried to undermine the Mueller investigation. He hasn't implemented the sanction that -- that he -- was passed by the Congress and that he signed in reaction to the -- in -- to the activities in the 2016 election. He's -- we learn this week he's ordered no effort to try to get the intelligence community, to get together to try to prevent further activities in the 2018 election.

CORDES: Why do you think that is? I do think that it's because to do so would be to admit somehow the Russians might have influenced this election?

PODESTA: Well, you know, I think that Mr. Trump's psyche is complicated. And people have said a lot about -- a lot about it. But he certainly can't accept that this activity may have helped him and I think he just constantly tries to move the ball away, including what was, I think, really a despicable tweet about the fact that he's blaming the FBI for investigating the Russia investigation and somehow relating that to the tragic killings in Florida.

CORDES: Right.

PODESTA: But at -- you know, I -- who knows with -- with Mr. Trump. But he's -- he clearly, I think, has failed in carrying out his duty as president of the United States, which is to protect our democracy.

CORDES: Midterm election are coming up, and it's been reported that Democrats are telling your former boss, Bill Clinton, that in light of the Me Too movement they -- they think he should sit it out, he should be benched, and they're not looking for him to actively campaign for them. Is that true and do you think that that's the right call?

PODESTA: Look, I think, you know, he's -- remains, I think, a figure who is popular with lot of Democrats across the country. And I think that people are calling him -- candidates are calling him and asking for advice. But whether he's going to be an active participant, I think that's not, you know, really on the top of his mind right now. I think he's doing other things and -- and people make their own judgments about whether he can be helpful in the campaign.

CORDES: Do you think it's good idea, very quickly, for him to sit it out?

PODESTA: Well, you know, look, I think that -- that if I was advising a campaign and a candidate about what to do, I would -- I would sort of judge whether he could be helpful. And I think some place he can be and probably some places he's more of a lightning rod.

CORDES: All right, John Podesta, thank you so much, campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton.

And we'll be right back with our panel of Republicans who are leaving the House and Senate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CORDES: Midterm elections are always perilous for the party in power. And this year a record number of Republicans have already decided no to run for re-election. Two dozen are retiring from the House and Senate, plus five are leaving to run for higher office.

Why so many? Well, that's the question we put to four departing Republicans, including Ed Royce, who's one of ten committee chairmen who have announced they're hanging it up.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CORDES: That's a lot of experience out the door.

REP. ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: It is. And there's a -- there's a debate, you know. I think we should look at maybe the length of our chairmanships. But at the same -- at the same time, I think these term limits are probably good from the standpoint of bring in new blood, new ideas. And so that's -- that's one of the things we weigh on the Republican side.

CORDES: Senator, when you left our House colleagues and went to the other side of the Capitol, I'm sure you intended to serve more than one term in the Senate.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I always thought probably two terms. But I'm kind of out of step with my party. And it makes it very difficult to have the positions that I have and -- and, you know, win re-election in a Republican primary.

CORDES: So have you changed or has the party changed?

FLAKE: I don't think I've changed that much. But I do think the party has changed considerably.

CORDES: Do you all agree with that?

ROYCE: Well, from my standpoint, I think that the party has always been a big tent party. I think there's room in the party for lot of different viewpoints.

CORDES: Do you think that the tent is as big as it used to be?

REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: No, I don't, actually. I think what's happening in Congress is the political center is collapsing. But that's not true across the country. What I found is that we have become enormously polarized here in Congress. And that polarization has led to a paralysis. I mean the very simple, basic tasks of governing, just keeping the government open.

CORDES: But if folks like you leave, don't things just get worse?

ROYCE: I think that part of the answer here, though, is for us to look at what we can do to change the fact that no longer do we really have the types of friendships across the aisle that we once had.

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R), FLORIDA: But when you look at --

ROYCE: That's important. But --

ROS-LEHTINEN: When you look at the -- the future of the Republican Party, I think that we will be foolish to not see that we're heading into trouble. Very few women are running for -- on the Republican Party ticket for office. Far greater numbers of women are identifying themselves as being in the Democratic Party. Minorities that have always been traditionally a group that we should really be going after, I don't see that we really have a recruiting program that's active to get minorities involved in our party. So the growth of our party, it seems to be very limited in the specific group, whereas the demographics of our great country is changing greatly. And when you look ahead, what's our future going to be? Are we going to end up a marginalized party? I think that we need to look toward the future and we need to have the policies that attract millennials, women, and minorities. I don't see that.

CORDES: Well, you know, people have been sounding that alarm bell within the party for a while and you're doing pretty well right now. You've got the White House, the House and the Senate. So what incentive is there to change?

DENT: There's a -- there's a fundamental -- I think there's a fundamental political realignment happening in our country. You look at where the Democrats are. They've gone kind of full Bernie. Bernie has more or less taken over their party, even though he didn't win the nomination.

On our side, you know, Donald Trump took over the Republican Party. And I do think that this political ground is shifting under our feet. Nobody knows quite how it will settle. In our party, a lot of members have adjusted their politics to suit the president. You know, it's really about loyalty to the man more than it is about any set of given principles or ideals. And I think that's what's really changed.

FLAKE: I would agree with that. And I agree with Ileana in terms of where the Republican Party is going and the danger. If you look, every four years, every presidential election cycle, we are, as country 2 percent less white. You know, voters of color, it's changing that way. And I don't think that we've made enough of an effort, as Republicans, to appeal across the broader electorate.

And then with young people as well. Given some of the position and the behavior that the president has exhibited, I think it makes it very difficult for young people to identify with the Republican Party. I think they've been walking away from the party in general. I think they're at a dead sprint right now and we've got to change that.

ROS-LEHTINEN: We don't need to change our principles. We don't need to change what we stand for. But like Charlie said, not every vote is a loyalty vote, whether you're for or against the president. And that's how it's framed all the time. You've got to be a loyal soldier, I don't think people feel as comfortable -- the moderate Republicans feel as comfortable with this kind of tone.

ROYCE: Well, on this issue, though, if you think about individually, Ileana, what we are doing, we have recruited female candidates, Asian candidates, Hispanic candidates. You've helped elect three now. You've got three members who are Hispanic that I know you played a large role in their election. I think we'll continue in this vein.

CORDES: But she is pro-immigration reform, pro-hiking the minimum wage, pro-same sex marriage. Could you have gotten elected in a Republican primary for the first time now?

ROS-LEHTINEN: I think so. It depends a lot on the personality of the candidate and -- and getting back to what the Republican Party used to be, where we were accepting of all types. And -- and, yes, we're doing a pretty good job in recruiting candidates at the local level, at the state level. But when you look at the make-up of the Democratic Party here in Congress, I don't see those Asian women and those minority women serving in the House GOP or in the Senate GOP. I mean that's the reality. Maybe we're -- our farm (ph) team is slowly coming up, but we used to be more accepting of having moderate position and now -- now it's getting harder.

DENT: It starts at the top. I agree with that. Candidates matter and we a responsibility to do our bit. But at the top, you know, when the president makes incendiary comments on Hispanics, Muslims, women, you know, the Charlottesville situation and others, you know, I think it -- it narrows our appeal. And I -- I do believe that we have to be much -- much broader in our thinking and show that we want -- that the welcome mat is actually out and that we want everybody in.

FLAKE: It's like Charlie said, it's become kind of a loyalty test to the man rather than to principles. And then the problem is, if you, as a candidate, or as an elected official, align yourself to a person rather than principle, then you're -- you're wedded to that person, wherever he or she goes, and that's dangerous. It really is. And I see that -- a big problem for the party going forward.

CORDES: And you've got the Freedom Caucus, this group of conservatives, telling the speaker of the House, you're your leadership position is at risk if you stray too far from where we want to be on immigration.

ROYCE: You know, I've never supported these types of tactics. Trying to sack your own quarterback is not a strategy, frankly, that usually when you're working as a team is going to lead to success, right? Threats usually don't lead to success. What -- what leads to success --

CORDES: They've had some success.

ROYCE: I don't -- I don't think that's successful in terms of getting legislation into -- into effect.

CORDES: Senator, when you talk about immigration, mass violence, opioids, has Congress lost its ability to solve big problems?

FLAKE: You know, it would be hard to argue that we haven't. You know, in the House -- in the Senate we -- we have the 60 vote requirement for most legislation. We've had a hard time coming together. There are things that we should, on the gun issue, obviously the bump stocks, no fly, no buy, those kind of things. There's broad consensus in the country certainly. And there should be. And I hope that we can move legislation like that. There's no reason we shouldn't be able to.

ROS-LEHTINEN: But on -- on immigration, you look at the president's position on what he says on Monday may be different than what I says on Wednesday, and would be different on Friday. So it's very hard, I think, for leaders on DACA, on dreamers, like Jeff Flake, to figure out a way forward. It's schizophrenic what's coming out of the White House in terms of policy on immigration and dreamers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CORDES: And we'll be right back with those high school students who are crafting a plan to take on Washington.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CORDES: Joining me now are five students from Parkland, Florida, who attend Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. They are David Hogg, Alex Wind and Emma Gonzalez, plus Cameron Kasky and Jacqueline Corin (ph).

Thanks so much to all of you for joining me.

And, Cameron, I'll start with you.

You say the adults have let you down.

CAMERON KASKY, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Well, the adults in office have let us down, absolutely. And, fortunately, we have a lot of support from the older generation here. But what we're trying to do here at March For Our Lives is say, the adult politicians have been playing around while my generation has been losing our lives.

If you see what -- how they treat each other in office, if you see the nasty, dirty things going on with them, it's sad to think that that's what they're doing while 17 people are being slaughtered, gunned down only yard away from where we're sitting right now.

And March For Our Lives has support from everybody. And at the end of the day, this isn't a red and blue thing, this isn't Democrats and Republicans, this is about everybody and how we are begging for our lives. And we are getting support, but we need to make real change here. And that's exactly what we're going to do.

CORDES: So, Emma, what is the plan? You say you want to spark a national movement. It's one thing to talk about it. It's another thing to actually make it happen. What are you going to do?

EMMA GONZALEZ, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Well, what we have set up right now, we have a website, March For Our Lives. We're going to be doing a march in March on Washington where we get students all over the country are going to be joining us.

These kids are going to make this difference because the adults let us down. And at this point I don't even know if the adults in power who are funded by the NRA, I don't even think we need them anymore because they're going to be gone by midterm elections. There's barely any time for them to save their skins. And if they don't turn around right now and state their open support for this movement, they're going to be left behind because you are either with us or against us at this point.

KASKY: We are giving a lot of the politicians that we feel neglected by a clean slate, because that's the past. And we understand that. But from here on, we are creating a badge of shame for any politicians who are accepting money from the NRA. It is a special interest groups that has most certainly not our best interests in mind and this cannot be the normal. This can be changed and it will be changed. And anybody who tells you that it can't is buying into the facade that has been created by the people who have our blood on their hand.

CORDES: David, a lot of people saw the reporting that you did from inside the school while the shooting was taking place. And I'm truly sorry that -- that all of you had to live through that. But I want to read to you what President Trump said last night. He said that it's actually the Democrats that have let you down because they didn't pass legislation when they controlled Congress. Does he have a point?

DAVID HOGG, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: President Trump, you control the House of Representatives. You control the Senate. And you control the executive. You haven't taken a single bill for mental health care or gun control and passed it. And that's pathetic. We've seen a government shutdown. We've seen tax reform. But nothing to save our children's lives. Are you kidding me? You think now is the time to focus on the past and not the future to prevent the deaths of thousands of other children. You sicken me.

CORDES: So what kinds of laws do all of you think should be on the books that aren't right now?

HOGG: Well, what I think need to be on the books right now that isn't is literally any law that's from either side of the political spectrum. If you're a Republican that supports mental health care, we want you out there making your voice heard because that's just as important as gun control or gun safety laws at this point because Democrats also want gun safety rules and we can't get into any more debates. We need discussion. We've had the debates. And people have died as a result. Children have died and will continue to if we don't stop now and look at both side of this because we can't wait around any longer. Children are dying as a result. And we need to take action.

And I call on President Trump and the Republican controlled House and Senate and executive branch to work together, get some bills passed and stop taking money from the NRA, because children are dying and so is the future of America as a result.

KASKY: I just want to say, something I've heard a lot is the word "gun rights." And that has the connotation that we are trying to strip people of their rights. Well, first of all, we have the right to live and, second of all, here at March For Our Lives, at least for me, we don't want to take the guns away from Americans.

My father is a police officer. He has guns. And I understand that having concealed weapons is good for protecting yourself. But an AR-15 is not needed to protect your house from robbers. It's not needed to hunt bears. An AR-15 is a weapon of war. And a 19-year-old who is mentally challenged and has problems was able to buy an AR-15 easily.

We don't want to disarm America. We want to make America have to work for their weapons. And we have to make sure that everybody who has this kind of power in their hands, has been cleared to have it. Because if Nikolas Cruz had gone through five minutes with any medical professional, they would have said, this person does not need an AR-15. This person needs a counselor. And 17 people would not have need graves.

CORDES: Alex, your own senator, Marco Rubio, says that more gun laws won't do anything. That anyone who wants to commit violence is going to find a way to get a gun.

ALEX WIND, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: If you think that, Senator Rubio, then change the way it's easier to get a gun, OK? If you think it's too easy to get a gun, do something about it. Make it not easier to get a gun.

March 24th on the March For Our Lives is only the beginning. This is the first march, but I can guarantee it will not be the last. We will be marching for the 17 we lost at our school. We will be marching for everyone we lost at the Newtown Sandy Hook shooting, at Columbine, at Virginia Tech, and San Bernardino, Orlando at the Pulse shooting and at Las Vegas. That is only the beginning. And March 24th, things are going to change.

KASKY: It's not our job to tell you, Senator Rubio, how to protect us. The fact that we even have to do this is appalling. Our job is to go to school, learn and not take a bullet. You need to figure this out. That's why you were unfortunately elected. Your job is to protect us and our blood is on your hands.

CORDES: While I know that millions of people are watching to see where you take this movement. You've already got tens of thousands of followers online. And we'll be watching to see if you're able to change a pretty entrenched political dynamic here in Washington.

Thank you so much to the five of you for joining us today.

HOGG: Thanks for having us.

GONZALES: Thanks.

KASKY: Thank you.

CORDES: And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CORDES: Thanks for watching. And be sure to tune in to "60 Minutes" tonight for Margaret Brennan's interview with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

For FACE THE NATION, I'm Nancy Cordes.

And we're going to leave you today with the memorial of the 17 victims of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ON SCREEN TEXT: Alyssa Alhadeff.

Martin Duque Anguiano.

Scott Beigel.

Nicholas Dworet.

Aaron Feis.

Jaime Guttenberg.

Christopher Hixon.

Luke Hoyer.

Cara Loughran.

Gina Montalto.

Joaquin Oliver.

Alaina Petty.

Meadow Pollack.

Helena Ramsay.

Alex Schachter.

Cameren Schentrup.

Peter Wang.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

END

EMMA GONZALEZ, SENIOR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks, not because we're going to be another statistic about mass shootings in America, but because we are going to be the last mass shooting.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CORDES: Can they change the political dynamic?

We will talk to five students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School about their plans to march on Washington and hold a national day of protest.

And after the FBI admits it failed to follow through on warnings about the suspected shooter, President Trump slams the agency for wasting time trying to prove his campaign colluded with Russia -- this as special prosecutor Robert Mueller hand down a blockbuster indictment against 13 Russian nationals, saying they communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign to coordinate political activity.

Russian officials call the indictment blabber and a fantasy. Is the U.S. doing enough to safeguard the next election?

We will talk to the head of House Oversight Committee, Republican Trey Gowdy, Delaware Democrat Chris Coons and South Carolina Republican Tim Scott.

Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, will be here, too.

Plus, congressional Republicans are retiring in record numbers. We sat down with four of them, Florida's Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, California's Ed Royce, Pennsylvania's Charlie Dent, and Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, to find out why they're leaving.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CORDES: Senator, when you talk about immigration, mass violence, opioids, has Congress lost its ability to solve big problems?

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: You know, it would be hard to argue that we haven't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CORDES: It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I'm Nancy Cordes.

We have got a lot of news to get to today, but we're going to begin those students at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

They are channeling their anguish into what they hope will be a new national movement. They rallied yesterday just a few miles from the scene of the massacre that took 17 lives.

We spoke with five of them just moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GONZALEZ: We're going to do a march in March on Washington. Students all over the country are going to be joining ups, because the adults have let us down. The people that we put into power who should be working for us, they have us working for them.

And that's pitiful. That's pathetic. And we have to do the dirty work here, and we're going to do the dirty work. We're going to shoulder this heavy burden, and we're going to do it well.

CAMERON KASKY, JUNIOR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: From here on, we are creating a badge of shame for any politicians who are accepting money from the NRA. It is a special interest groups that has most certainly not our best interests in mind. And this cannot be the normal. This can be changed.

And it will be changed. And anybody who tells that you it can't is buying into the facade that's being created by the people who have our blood on their hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CORDES: We will have a lot more of that interview coming up later in the broadcast.

But, right now, we turn to Congressman Trey Gowdy, the head of the House Oversight Committee, who is in Greenville, South Carolina, this morning.

Mr. Chairman, good morning.

What do you say to these kids who argue that politicians like you who take money from the NRA have blood on their hands?

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, the first thing I would say to those children and my own is, I'm sorry that you have grown up in a generation that has only known violence and there's no sanctuary, there's no place of refuge.

The schools aren't safe. The churches aren't safe, the concerts. So, I applaud their activism.

I would encourage them to look at three components, the shooter himself, the instrumentality, and then any form of mitigation, whether it is magazine capacity, whether it is the speed with which the projectile is expelled.

But you have to look at all three. You have to look at the shooter, and you have to look at the instrumentality by which that shooter is killing people. I applaud their activism.

And if I were them, I would be as angry as they are.

CORDES: When you talk about instrumentality, are you suggesting that weapons that can kill or injury many people in a short period of time should be more restricted than they are now?

GOWDY: Well, you can certainly look at that.

But, of course, Nancy, some of the more heinous mass killings we have had involved semiautomatic pistols. And I have had people, when I was a prosecutor, kill with all manner of instrumentality, from shovels to bricks to hands.

You're equally dead.

(CROSSTALK)

CORDES: But you can't kill 500 people -- wait a minute, Congressman.

In Las Vegas, the shooter was able to injure 500 people in minutes. You can't do that with a shovel or a brick.

GOWDY: No, you cannot. And that's why I say you should look at the instrumentality and -- and -- and magazine capacity and the speed with which the projectiles, including bump stocks -- but you also have to look at the shooter.

And, Nancy, in -- in -- in almost half the instances of mass shootings, there was notice provided to someone that the person was going to do what -- what he ultimately did.

In school shootings, almost 80 percent of the time, there was notice provided. So you have to look at all of it. If you only look at the instrumentality, and you don't look at the person who is pulling the trigger, then I think you're doing a disservice to everyone who wants to see an end to killings, including mass killings.

CORDES: So, I think what these kid are saying is, we have looked at all of these things. We just haven't done anything.

Why, for example, hasn't Congress taken action on bump stocks? This is something that both sides agree should be curtailed. If you're saying that we need to make it easier for law enforcement to step in when someone exhibits symptoms of violence, why don't we make it easier for them to do that?

GOWDY: Well, you could. You could impose a duty to disclose.

We have it in other categories of law. You could impose a lawful duty to disclose if -- if you hear that someone is planning to do something. In the shooting in Florida, you didn't need a duty to disclose. People did come forward and put the FBI on notice.

Bump stocks turn -- turn semiautomatic into fully automatic weapons. So, fully automatic weapons are already illegal. So, I am fine with doing away with any instrumentality that converts a semiautomatic to a fully automatic.

(CROSSTALK)

CORDES: So, you're a member of leadership. When will see a vote on that?

GOWDY: I'm not a member of leadership.

But I'm happy to ask them when and if we're going to see a vote. I don't know that it requires a vote of Congress. I think ATF could regulate bump stocks tomorrow.

CORDES: You're -- you're the chair of the House Government Oversight Committee, so I want to get your take on these 13 Russians who were indicted on Friday.

You're a former prosecutor. What do these indictments tell us about how sophisticated this operation was and whether they're going to try it again?

GOWDY: Well, they're definitely going to try it again.

And I think what this indictment tells us is what some of us have known all along. Russia is not our friend. Russia has tried to subvert the fundamentals of our democracy.

For those of us who supported Bob Mueller from day one and said give him the time and the resources and the independence to do his job, this is his job. That is exactly what we wanted him to do.

I have known all along that Russia tried to subvert our 2016 election, and they're going to do the same thing in 2020 and every election thereafter, unless and until we do what the indictment said, which is we view this as America being the victim.

In this particular instance, they used the Clinton campaign. They tried to disparage her campaign.

CORDES: Sure.

GOWDY: Next cycle, it could be a Republican. But Americans are the victims of what Russia did, not Republicans, not Democrats. All of us are victims.

CORDES: So, then why hasn't Congress passed any legislation to safeguard our election? We have known abut this Russian meddling now for about 18 months.

GOWDY: You're right. Congress doesn't regulate state elections.

And Jeh Johnson, whom I have been critical of in the past, tried to put the states on notice in the fall of 2016. It didn't get a lot of media coverage because there was an "Access Hollywood" tape that came out that same day.

So, you're better able to speak from your line of work as to why what Jeh Johnson warned us of in the fall of 2017 didn't get much media coverage.

But I don't think you want Congress regulating the 50 states and their election cycles.

CORDES: Sure, but you do have control, for example, over legislation that could require more disclosure from people on social media about who they are, who is backing them when they air ads online, for example.

GOWDY: Yes.

And I had that conversation with the three media giants. You and I just got through discussing the Second Amendment. This is the First Amendment.

I asked Facebook, I asked Twitter, I asked all of them, how does a functioning democracy benefit from false information? I can't imagine how we benefit from someone perpetuating lies.

But I got silenced. So, that's a First Amendment issue when you begin to regulate information. And I happen to believe in something called the truth. I actually believe that certain things are true and not true. But I couldn't even get the media giants to agree to that.

So, that's a First Amendment issue. I would tell all my fellow citizens, be really skeptical of anything you read on social media and do you your own independent research.

CORDES: Sounds like Americans are all going to have to get a lot more skeptical about what they see on social media.

Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

GOWDY: Yes, ma'am. Thank you.

CORDES: Joining us now is Delaware Democrat Chris Coons. He sits on the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees.

Senator Coons, thanks so much for being with us.

What is your biggest take away from these new indictments by Robert Mueller? The president says this shows, point blank, no collusion.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: The president says that.

And a lot of other folks, law enforcement leaders and observers, say it neither proves nor disproves collusion.

It shows the strength and the organization of the Russian campaign to interfere in 2016. It does show that three different Trump campaign officials were contacted by Russians, but they didn't realize they were Russians.

But I will remind you, Nancy, there was that famous June 9 meeting in Trump Tower, where Donald Trump Jr. and several other senior campaign officials welcomed with open arms Russians who claimed they had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

That hasn't yet been proven, that there might have been collusion, but I think it's getting closer.

CORDES: What do you think the chances are that it actually did affect the house come of the race?

COONS: In a race that this was close, where moving 140,000, 150,000 votes in three states one way or the other could have changed the outcome, it's hard to say that this didn't affect the outcome.

It was an exceptionally close election. I will remind you one candidate won the popular vote, the other won candidate won the electoral vote. But it's not yet clear whether the Russians succeeded in actually changing votes.

What's clear is that they spent millions of dollars and had hundreds of people working in a troll farm in St. Petersburg to intentionally undermine one candidate, Hillary Clinton, and support another, Donald Trump.

CORDES: So, then why aren't Democrats out there all the time banging the drum on this issue, pushing legislation to protect our electoral system?

COONS: We are.

As you know, I have introduced bipartisan to try and protect special counsel Robert Mueller. I'm concerned about the possibility that his investigation will be interfered with by the president.

We just heard last week in front of the House Intelligence Committees from Donald Trump's intelligence leaders, his head of CIA, head of FBI, head of the -- the director of national intelligence, we can expect the Russians to do this again.

We should be taking action against Russian interference in our election.

CORDES: Are we taking enough?

COONS: We aren't.

The most important thing the president should have done by now is to use the new sanctions authority that the Senate gave him by vote of 98-2 last year to push back on Russia and impose some pain, some cost for having interfered with our election.

So far, no overt sanctions have been imposed. No real action has been taken.

CORDES: And you think that just emboldens the Russians?

COONS: Absolutely.

With someone like Putin, he's only going to stop when we stop him.

CORDES: Russian officials say that this is purely a fantasy, in their words.

So, should the U.S. be retaliating beyond sanctions in ways that we aren't right now?

COONS: There are actions we should be taking to increase the pressure on Russia to back off. We should be engaging our European allies, who have a commonality of interests with us in this.

And we should be using the sanctions authorities that the Senate has given to President Trump. To me, the most maddening question is, why is President Trump failing to act to protect our democracy, when there is indisputable proof now that Russia interfered in our 2016 elections?

CORDES: Let's talk about this Florida shooting.

Given what we know right now, is it possible that legislation, any legislation could have prevented the tragedy that we saw there?

COONS: Possible? Yes. Likely that that action will be taken in this Congress? No.

And I have to say, Nancy, having heard the voices of other teenagers from Parkland whose high school classmates were gunned down, it is heartbreaking. I am heart-sick over the fact that we in Congress have failed to act to protect our teenagers, to protect schools and churches, to protect America's safe space from the scourge of gun violence.

There are things we should do to make it harder for people with mental health problems, people who are convicted felons, people who have domestic violence convictions from easily getting guns. There are bipartisan bills in this Congress and the last one that have not been taken up and acted on.

CORDES: Has your party lost some of its drive on this issue? You talk about bipartisan legislation. You had a big breakthrough, it seemed, a couple of months ago after the shooting in Las Vegas, Democrats and Republicans co-sponsoring legislation to limit bump stocks, these devices that makes semiautomatic weapons more lethal.

But we haven't heard anything about that in months. Why hasn't your party kept the heat on?

COONS: There have been efforts.

But let's be blunt. One party controls the floor in the Senate and the House. The Republicans determine what is going to get a vote.

CORDES: So, there's no word of optimism that you can offer to those students in Florida who are pushing for legislation?

COONS: Nancy, I -- I am usually a very optimistic person. I work tirelessly across the aisle.

I am not optimistic that, until there is real action by the American public to demand change in Congress, that we're going to see real action to confront gun violence out of this Congress.

CORDES: Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, thanks so much for being with us today.

COONS: Thank you, Nancy.

CORDES: And we will be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CORDES: We're back with Republican Senator Tim Scott. He's in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, this morning.

Senator, good morning.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Good morning, Nancy. Good to be with you.

CORDES: Senator, you heard from those students at the top of this broadcast.

SCOTT: I did.

CORDES: And you, I'm sure, understand the pain that they are going through, because your constituents lived through their own terrible shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, a few years ago.

But you have always pushed for fewer gun restrictions. Do you stand by that?

SCOTT: I stand by the position I have always been in.

And I'm not sure that I have been pushing for fewer gun restrictions. What I have pushed for is for us to use common sense on how to solve the problem. Remember that, just couple of years ago, Charleston, South Carolina, Emanuel Church, nine murdered in church.

I want to make sure that we can solve that problem. And when you look at core components that are missing, it seems to be we, the system, have not done the right job. In Charleston, the background checks could have prevented that person, Mr. Roof, from getting a weapon.

In Sutherland Springs, Texas, the domestic violence incident, had it been reported, it could have prevented perhaps that situation from occurring.

We all say, if you see something, say something. In Parkland community, we saw people reporting. There were 20 calls to the sheriff's department. They responded. The FBI received a legitimate, credible tip. And it was not followed upon.

So, what we have seen in three major atrocities is that the system that was in place simply was not followed. So, my focus is not on having or not having a gun debate. We're going to have that. The students are very clear. March is coming. We're going to have that debate. And I look forward to participating in that conversation.

But the reality of it is that three incidents could have been avoided, prevented if the system itself had worked. I would not have gone to the funeral of my good friend Clementa Pinckney if the system had worked.

And so we need to fix that. And unlike my good friend, who I do appreciate, Senator Coons, I believe that we will get something done this year. We can fix the background system.

CORDES: Why haven't you gotten something done already, Senator? You have co-sponsored legislation to fix these background checks? Why hasn't it gone anywhere?

SCOTT: Absolutely.

Well, we are putting more pressure on our system, and to include in the Senate, to make sure that that legislation gets to the floor. Senator Grassley has been very clear, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that he plans to bring that legislation up.

It is bipartisan legislation supported from folks like Chris Murphy in Connecticut to myself in South Carolina. The reality of it is that we have a sense of urgency about getting that done. And I'm very hopeful that this is the time that we see this nation's leadership united to solve a problem that could have prevented atrocities.

CORDES: I think a lot of people are hopeful about.

I want to get your take on something President Trump.

He says: "Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time," the FBI, "trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. There is no collusion."

I know he doesn't like the investigation, but is it fair to link it to the deaths of these children?

SCOTT: I think we have to separate the issue.

Without any question, the first issue is, in fact, that the FBI missed an opportunity to weigh in heavily, and perhaps prevent something from happening. That is a tragedy. That should be investigated.

I believe that Oversight in the House and Senate will do so. A separate issue is how they spend their time and whether or not the time is well spent on this Russian situation.

I will tell you that, from my perspective, that so many folks in the FBI are doing all that they can to keep us safe. The reality of it is that they are two separate issues.

CORDES: And so where do we go from here on the issue of Russian meddling?

You know, you have got 13 Russians who were indicted. But Congress has failed to act. And a lot of people would say that the administration has not taken this seriously, because the president himself still does not seem to believe that Russia meddled in our election system.

SCOTT: Well, there's no question. The Russians have done all that they can to meddle in our elections, without any question in my mind or my heart.

The question is, was it effective? And the answer is, it was not effective.

(CROSSTALK)

CORDES: Well, we don't know that, Senator, right? We don't know whether it was effective or not. How would we know that?

SCOTT: Well, so far, our intelligence agencies and the Mueller investigation have all come to the same conclusion so far, that the impact that the Russians had, their objective of meddling in our elections to change the outcome, so far, there is no evidence that suggests that it has been effective.

So we're going to continue the investigation. And I support Mr. Mueller moving forward in his investigation, because I think it is very important for the American people to have a crystal-clear perspective on whether or not the Russians' efforts were in fact impactful.

CORDES: With all due respect, the special counsel has said that they can't make a conclusion about whether it was effective or not.

But, moving forward, South Carolinians go to the polls again in June. What has Congress done and what have you signed on to that can assure them that these are going to be free and fair elections, and that they won't be influenced by Russians or other bad actors?

SCOTT: That's a great question.

As you heard from my friend Trey Gowdy earlier, the election process is, by and large, a state function. I believe that we have been sending very clear signs. And the integrity of our system has proven to be very effective at this point and very good.

There has been very, very few incidents of challenges at the ballot box based on the Russians' influence. The reality of it is that, when you look at what they were attempting to do, it was to sow social discord in this nation and to use advertising as a mechanism to change voters' minds and to bring hostility and challenges between our races in this country.

The polarization of this nation is part of the Russian objective, but there's been no evidence, none at all, that they were impactful on the boxes.

CORDES: Senator, Senator Tim Scott, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We really appreciate it.

And we will be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CORDES: The controversy over White House security clearance may have moved off the front pages this week, but when we sat down with four retiring congressional Republicans, they had strong feelings about how the White House handled domestic abuse allegations against former Staff Secretary Rob Porter.

Here are Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, plus Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent, Florida's Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and California's Ed Royce.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CORDES: When other countries see that this White House can't even get its story straight on something as simple as a security clearance, the rest of the world thinks what?

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R), FLORIDA: Security clearances for people who have not passed those check marks, it's just not the normal way that we should be handling classified information.

So, I think it's sort of shocking when you see the list of all of the folks who have had access to sensitive documents who have not been cleared in order to view them. I find it shocking.

CORDES: Should John Kelly step down?

REP. ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: No, I don't think John Kelly should step down.

I think we are -- we're in a process now where the committee of jurisdiction here is doing an investigation of just this issue. And I think you wait until you get the facts, and then you can move forward from that.

CORDES: Do you agree?

FLAKE: Well, I think he ought to step before a microphone and explain how this latest situation came to be. I think we do need a better explanation. But I think he can, if he will do it.

ROS-LEHTINEN: It's bigger than one man, anyway. We get another chief of staff, the problem continues.

REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The White House -- the White House, I think, completely mishandled this whole Porter situation.

That said, prior to John Kelly coming in to the chief of staff's job, the White House had been pretty much chaos and anarchy and was very dysfunctional. And so he did bring a great degree of stability and order and discipline to the management of the House until this recent episode.

So, at this moment, I would like to find out who would be the replacement before I would call for him to step down.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CORDES: The rest of our conversation with those four members about why they're leaving Congress will air in our next half-hour.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CORDES: We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CORDES: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. I'm Nancy Cordes.

Our next guest, John Podesta (INAUDIBLE) campaign. His private e-mails were hacked and released publicly by Russian-backed entities during the campaign.

(INAUDIBLE) joining us.

Thanks so much for being here (ph).

JOHN PODESTA, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: It's nice to be back, Nancy.

CORDES: All right. For anyone who voted for Hillary Clinton, these new indictments mean what?

PODESTA: Well, look, it's a tragedy for the American people, really. As Mr. Mueller said in his indictment, it was an act of information warfare against the United States, against our democracy. So I think it's -- I think it's (INAUDIBLE) to those of us who were on the receiving end of these (INAUDIBLE) the American people because there -- that there was direct interference with our democratic institutions.

CORDES: The deputy attorney general was very careful on Friday to say that we don't know whether or not this operation swayed the election. You've had a lot of time to think about this.

PODESTA: Yes.

CORDES: Where do you come down on that issue?

PODESTA: Well, look, this was one part of a complex, active interference in the measures. This didn't even deal with the hacking. This was only about what was going on in the social media and the information campaign that was being done there.

But there were 80 people, millions of dollars spent. And as one of your previous guests, Senator Coons, noted, we won the popular vote by three million votes. They were pushing votes -- just to give one example to Jill Stein, her vote in Michigan, in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin was greater than the gap between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in those states. So you can't prove that it did affect the outcome, but it certainly seems likely that it had some impact.

CORDES: But it does beg the question, how is it that these Russian operatives knew to focus on purple states like Michigan and Wisconsin and your campaign didn't?

PODESTA: Well, of course we spent a lot of time and energy and effort in all those states.

CORDES: Hillary Clinton herself did not spend much time in those states.

PODESTA: We -- you know, we had -- Tim Kaine was there. Barack Obama was in -- and she spent enormous time in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

CORDES: Sure.

PODESTA: And -- and we spent a lot of effort. We had more staff in Wisconsin that even President Obama had in 2012. But -- but I think that begs the question. I think we -- we focused on the places we thought were -- that were, you know, in contest. And -- and at the end of the day, we fell short in those states. And I think that this active measures effort by the Russians could have tilted the election in Donald Trump's favor.

But I think what the real issue is, is, you know, how he's reacted to it. And in that context, if we're -- if this is information warfare, then I think he's the first draft dodger in the war. I mean he has done nothing but tried to undermine the Mueller investigation. He hasn't implemented the sanction that -- that he -- was passed by the Congress and that he signed in reaction to the -- in -- to the activities in the 2016 election. He's -- we learn this week he's ordered no effort to try to get the intelligence community, to get together to try to prevent further activities in the 2018 election.

CORDES: Why do you think that is? I do think that it's because to do so would be to admit somehow the Russians might have influenced this election?

PODESTA: Well, you know, I think that Mr. Trump's psyche is complicated. And people have said a lot about -- a lot about it. But he certainly can't accept that this activity may have helped him and I think he just constantly tries to move the ball away, including what was, I think, really a despicable tweet about the fact that he's blaming the FBI for investigating the Russia investigation and somehow relating that to the tragic killings in Florida.

CORDES: Right.

PODESTA: But at -- you know, I -- who knows with -- with Mr. Trump. But he's -- he clearly, I think, has failed in carrying out his duty as president of the United States, which is to protect our democracy.

CORDES: Midterm election are coming up, and it's been reported that Democrats are telling your former boss, Bill Clinton, that in light of the Me Too movement they -- they think he should sit it out, he should be benched, and they're not looking for him to actively campaign for them. Is that true and do you think that that's the right call?

PODESTA: Look, I think, you know, he's -- remains, I think, a figure who is popular with lot of Democrats across the country. And I think that people are calling him -- candidates are calling him and asking for advice. But whether he's going to be an active participant, I think that's not, you know, really on the top of his mind right now. I think he's doing other things and -- and people make their own judgments about whether he can be helpful in the campaign.

CORDES: Do you think it's good idea, very quickly, for him to sit it out?

PODESTA: Well, you know, look, I think that -- that if I was advising a campaign and a candidate about what to do, I would -- I would sort of judge whether he could be helpful. And I think some place he can be and probably some places he's more of a lightning rod.

CORDES: All right, John Podesta, thank you so much, campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton.

And we'll be right back with our panel of Republicans who are leaving the House and Senate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CORDES: Midterm elections are always perilous for the party in power. And this year a record number of Republicans have already decided no to run for re-election. Two dozen are retiring from the House and Senate, plus five are leaving to run for higher office.

Why so many? Well, that's the question we put to four departing Republicans, including Ed Royce, who's one of ten committee chairmen who have announced they're hanging it up.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CORDES: That's a lot of experience out the door.

REP. ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: It is. And there's a -- there's a debate, you know. I think we should look at maybe the length of our chairmanships. But at the same -- at the same time, I think these term limits are probably good from the standpoint of bring in new blood, new ideas. And so that's -- that's one of the things we weigh on the Republican side.

CORDES: Senator, when you left our House colleagues and went to the other side of the Capitol, I'm sure you intended to serve more than one term in the Senate.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I always thought probably two terms. But I'm kind of out of step with my party. And it makes it very difficult to have the positions that I have and -- and, you know, win re-election in a Republican primary.

CORDES: So have you changed or has the party changed?

FLAKE: I don't think I've changed that much. But I do think the party has changed considerably.

CORDES: Do you all agree with that?

ROYCE: Well, from my standpoint, I think that the party has always been a big tent party. I think there's room in the party for lot of different viewpoints.

CORDES: Do you think that the tent is as big as it used to be?

REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: No, I don't, actually. I think what's happening in Congress is the political center is collapsing. But that's not true across the country. What I found is that we have become enormously polarized here in Congress. And that polarization has led to a paralysis. I mean the very simple, basic tasks of governing, just keeping the government open.

CORDES: But if folks like you leave, don't things just get worse?

ROYCE: I think that part of the answer here, though, is for us to look at what we can do to change the fact that no longer do we really have the types of friendships across the aisle that we once had.

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R), FLORIDA: But when you look at --

ROYCE: That's important. But --

ROS-LEHTINEN: When you look at the -- the future of the Republican Party, I think that we will be foolish to not see that we're heading into trouble. Very few women are running for -- on the Republican Party ticket for office. Far greater numbers of women are identifying themselves as being in the Democratic Party. Minorities that have always been traditionally a group that we should really be going after, I don't see that we really have a recruiting program that's active to get minorities involved in our party. So the growth of our party, it seems to be very limited in the specific group, whereas the demographics of our great country is changing greatly. And when you look ahead, what's our future going to be? Are we going to end up a marginalized party? I think that we need to look toward the future and we need to have the policies that attract millennials, women, and minorities. I don't see that.

CORDES: Well, you know, people have been sounding that alarm bell within the party for a while and you're doing pretty well right now. You've got the White House, the House and the Senate. So what incentive is there to change?

DENT: There's a -- there's a fundamental -- I think there's a fundamental political realignment happening in our country. You look at where the Democrats are. They've gone kind of full Bernie. Bernie has more or less taken over their party, even though he didn't win the nomination.

On our side, you know, Donald Trump took over the Republican Party. And I do think that this political ground is shifting under our feet. Nobody knows quite how it will settle. In our party, a lot of members have adjusted their politics to suit the president. You know, it's really about loyalty to the man more than it is about any set of given principles or ideals. And I think that's what's really changed.

FLAKE: I would agree with that. And I agree with Ileana in terms of where the Republican Party is going and the danger. If you look, every four years, every presidential election cycle, we are, as country 2 percent less white. You know, voters of color, it's changing that way. And I don't think that we've made enough of an effort, as Republicans, to appeal across the broader electorate.

And then with young people as well. Given some of the position and the behavior that the president has exhibited, I think it makes it very difficult for young people to identify with the Republican Party. I think they've been walking away from the party in general. I think they're at a dead sprint right now and we've got to change that.

ROS-LEHTINEN: We don't need to change our principles. We don't need to change what we stand for. But like Charlie said, not every vote is a loyalty vote, whether you're for or against the president. And that's how it's framed all the time. You've got to be a loyal soldier, I don't think people feel as comfortable -- the moderate Republicans feel as comfortable with this kind of tone.

ROYCE: Well, on this issue, though, if you think about individually, Ileana, what we are doing, we have recruited female candidates, Asian candidates, Hispanic candidates. You've helped elect three now. You've got three members who are Hispanic that I know you played a large role in their election. I think we'll continue in this vein.

CORDES: But she is pro-immigration reform, pro-hiking the minimum wage, pro-same sex marriage. Could you have gotten elected in a Republican primary for the first time now?

ROS-LEHTINEN: I think so. It depends a lot on the personality of the candidate and -- and getting back to what the Republican Party used to be, where we were accepting of all types. And -- and, yes, we're doing a pretty good job in recruiting candidates at the local level, at the state level. But when you look at the make-up of the Democratic Party here in Congress, I don't see those Asian women and those minority women serving in the House GOP or in the Senate GOP. I mean that's the reality. Maybe we're -- our farm (ph) team is slowly coming up, but we used to be more accepting of having moderate position and now -- now it's getting harder.

DENT: It starts at the top. I agree with that. Candidates matter and we a responsibility to do our bit. But at the top, you know, when the president makes incendiary comments on Hispanics, Muslims, women, you know, the Charlottesville situation and others, you know, I think it -- it narrows our appeal. And I -- I do believe that we have to be much -- much broader in our thinking and show that we want -- that the welcome mat is actually out and that we want everybody in.

FLAKE: It's like Charlie said, it's become kind of a loyalty test to the man rather than to principles. And then the problem is, if you, as a candidate, or as an elected official, align yourself to a person rather than principle, then you're -- you're wedded to that person, wherever he or she goes, and that's dangerous. It really is. And I see that -- a big problem for the party going forward.

CORDES: And you've got the Freedom Caucus, this group of conservatives, telling the speaker of the House, you're your leadership position is at risk if you stray too far from where we want to be on immigration.

ROYCE: You know, I've never supported these types of tactics. Trying to sack your own quarterback is not a strategy, frankly, that usually when you're working as a team is going to lead to success, right? Threats usually don't lead to success. What -- what leads to success --

CORDES: They've had some success.

ROYCE: I don't -- I don't think that's successful in terms of getting legislation into -- into effect.

CORDES: Senator, when you talk about immigration, mass violence, opioids, has Congress lost its ability to solve big problems?

FLAKE: You know, it would be hard to argue that we haven't. You know, in the House -- in the Senate we -- we have the 60 vote requirement for most legislation. We've had a hard time coming together. There are things that we should, on the gun issue, obviously the bump stocks, no fly, no buy, those kind of things. There's broad consensus in the country certainly. And there should be. And I hope that we can move legislation like that. There's no reason we shouldn't be able to.

ROS-LEHTINEN: But on -- on immigration, you look at the president's position on what he says on Monday may be different than what I says on Wednesday, and would be different on Friday. So it's very hard, I think, for leaders on DACA, on dreamers, like Jeff Flake, to figure out a way forward. It's schizophrenic what's coming out of the White House in terms of policy on immigration and dreamers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CORDES: And we'll be right back with those high school students who are crafting a plan to take on Washington.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CORDES: Joining me now are five students from Parkland, Florida, who attend Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. They are David Hogg, Alex Wind and Emma Gonzalez, plus Cameron Kasky and Jacqueline Corin (ph).

Thanks so much to all of you for joining me.

And, Cameron, I'll start with you.

You say the adults have let you down.

CAMERON KASKY, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Well, the adults in office have let us down, absolutely. And, fortunately, we have a lot of support from the older generation here. But what we're trying to do here at March For Our Lives is say, the adult politicians have been playing around while my generation has been losing our lives.

If you see what -- how they treat each other in office, if you see the nasty, dirty things going on with them, it's sad to think that that's what they're doing while 17 people are being slaughtered, gunned down only yard away from where we're sitting right now.

And March For Our Lives has support from everybody. And at the end of the day, this isn't a red and blue thing, this isn't Democrats and Republicans, this is about everybody and how we are begging for our lives. And we are getting support, but we need to make real change here. And that's exactly what we're going to do.

CORDES: So, Emma, what is the plan? You say you want to spark a national movement. It's one thing to talk about it. It's another thing to actually make it happen. What are you going to do?

EMMA GONZALEZ, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Well, what we have set up right now, we have a website, March For Our Lives. We're going to be doing a march in March on Washington where we get students all over the country are going to be joining us.

These kids are going to make this difference because the adults let us down. And at this point I don't even know if the adults in power who are funded by the NRA, I don't even think we need them anymore because they're going to be gone by midterm elections. There's barely any time for them to save their skins. And if they don't turn around right now and state their open support for this movement, they're going to be left behind because you are either with us or against us at this point.

KASKY: We are giving a lot of the politicians that we feel neglected by a clean slate, because that's the past. And we understand that. But from here on, we are creating a badge of shame for any politicians who are accepting money from the NRA. It is a special interest groups that has most certainly not our best interests in mind and this cannot be the normal. This can be changed and it will be changed. And anybody who tells you that it can't is buying into the facade that has been created by the people who have our blood on their hand.

CORDES: David, a lot of people saw the reporting that you did from inside the school while the shooting was taking place. And I'm truly sorry that -- that all of you had to live through that. But I want to read to you what President Trump said last night. He said that it's actually the Democrats that have let you down because they didn't pass legislation when they controlled Congress. Does he have a point?

DAVID HOGG, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: President Trump, you control the House of Representatives. You control the Senate. And you control the executive. You haven't taken a single bill for mental health care or gun control and passed it. And that's pathetic. We've seen a government shutdown. We've seen tax reform. But nothing to save our children's lives. Are you kidding me? You think now is the time to focus on the past and not the future to prevent the deaths of thousands of other children. You sicken me.

CORDES: So what kinds of laws do all of you think should be on the books that aren't right now?

HOGG: Well, what I think need to be on the books right now that isn't is literally any law that's from either side of the political spectrum. If you're a Republican that supports mental health care, we want you out there making your voice heard because that's just as important as gun control or gun safety laws at this point because Democrats also want gun safety rules and we can't get into any more debates. We need discussion. We've had the debates. And people have died as a result. Children have died and will continue to if we don't stop now and look at both side of this because we can't wait around any longer. Children are dying as a result. And we need to take action.

And I call on President Trump and the Republican controlled House and Senate and executive branch to work together, get some bills passed and stop taking money from the NRA, because children are dying and so is the future of America as a result.

KASKY: I just want to say, something I've heard a lot is the word "gun rights." And that has the connotation that we are trying to strip people of their rights. Well, first of all, we have the right to live and, second of all, here at March For Our Lives, at least for me, we don't want to take the guns away from Americans.

My father is a police officer. He has guns. And I understand that having concealed weapons is good for protecting yourself. But an AR-15 is not needed to protect your house from robbers. It's not needed to hunt bears. An AR-15 is a weapon of war. And a 19-year-old who is mentally challenged and has problems was able to buy an AR-15 easily.

We don't want to disarm America. We want to make America have to work for their weapons. And we have to make sure that everybody who has this kind of power in their hands, has been cleared to have it. Because if Nikolas Cruz had gone through five minutes with any medical professional, they would have said, this person does not need an AR-15. This person needs a counselor. And 17 people would not have need graves.

CORDES: Alex, your own senator, Marco Rubio, says that more gun laws won't do anything. That anyone who wants to commit violence is going to find a way to get a gun.

ALEX WIND, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: If you think that, Senator Rubio, then change the way it's easier to get a gun, OK? If you think it's too easy to get a gun, do something about it. Make it not easier to get a gun.

March 24th on the March For Our Lives is only the beginning. This is the first march, but I can guarantee it will not be the last. We will be marching for the 17 we lost at our school. We will be marching for everyone we lost at the Newtown Sandy Hook shooting, at Columbine, at Virginia Tech, and San Bernardino, Orlando at the Pulse shooting and at Las Vegas. That is only the beginning. And March 24th, things are going to change.

KASKY: It's not our job to tell you, Senator Rubio, how to protect us. The fact that we even have to do this is appalling. Our job is to go to school, learn and not take a bullet. You need to figure this out. That's why you were unfortunately elected. Your job is to protect us and our blood is on your hands.

CORDES: While I know that millions of people are watching to see where you take this movement. You've already got tens of thousands of followers online. And we'll be watching to see if you're able to change a pretty entrenched political dynamic here in Washington.

Thank you so much to the five of you for joining us today.

HOGG: Thanks for having us.

GONZALES: Thanks.

KASKY: Thank you.

CORDES: And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CORDES: Thanks for watching. And be sure to tune in to "60 Minutes" tonight for Margaret Brennan's interview with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

For FACE THE NATION, I'm Nancy Cordes.

And we're going to leave you today with the memorial of the 17 victims of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ON SCREEN TEXT: Alyssa Alhadeff.

Martin Duque Anguiano.

Scott Beigel.

Nicholas Dworet.

Aaron Feis.

Jaime Guttenberg.

Christopher Hixon.

Luke Hoyer.

Cara Loughran.

Gina Montalto.

Joaquin Oliver.

Alaina Petty.

Meadow Pollack.

Helena Ramsay.

Alex Schachter.

Cameren Schentrup.

Peter Wang.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

END