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Full transcript of "Face the Nation," March 10, 2024

3/10: Face the Nation
3/10: Face the Nation 46:02

On this "Face the Nation" broadcast, moderated by Margaret Brennan: 

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont
  • House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York
  • Sens. Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, and Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida
  • IBM vice chairman Gary Cohn   

Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."    

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington.

And this week on Face the Nation: Both presumed nominees turn the page to the general election, and President Biden steps up the pressure on Israel to tone down the violence in Gaza.

Ahead of Tuesday's primary in a crucial general election battleground, President Biden and former President Trump both campaigned in Georgia Saturday night, a state that in the last presidential race went blue for the first time in nearly 30 years.

(Begin VT)

JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): Guys, you really want to do it again.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Seventy miles north of Biden's event, Trump said it was not fair to compare him to his opponent.

(Begin VT)

DONALD TRUMP (Former President of the United States (R) and Current U.S. Presidential Candidate): Two very unpopular people are running for office, very unpopular.

I said, why am I unpopular? I just knocked off 12 people in the quickest time that it's ever happened.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That opponent, still riding away with positive reviews from his fiery State of the Union speech, leaned in to a tougher approach in the Israel-Hamas conflict, privately vowing a come-to-Jesus talk with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

(Begin VT)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: He must, he must pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost as a consequence of the actions taken. He's hurting – in my view, he's hurting Israel more than helping Israel. And I think it's a big mistake. So I want to see a cease-fire.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: But will a call for a six-week cease-fire to start with be enough for the progressives in his party? We will ask Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Plus, we will talk with House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

Then: Could Americans dim assessment of the economy finally be looking up? We will hear from Gary Cohn, a former Trump economic adviser.

Plus, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairs Mark Warner and Marco Rubio join us to discuss the worldwide threats facing America.

It's all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.

We are coming off a big week in politics. But there are challenges ahead, particularly with the war between Israel and Hamas reaching a critical point as the holy month of Ramadan begins.

And we turn now to that crisis in the Middle East and renewed fears of violence in Jerusalem. I do want to note that we have an extensive bipartisan conversation with the chairs of the Senate Intelligence Committee. That will be coming up in a moment.

But we're going to begin with Senator Bernie Sanders from Burlington, Vermont.

Good morning to you, Senator.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vermont): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have long been a critic of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The other night, President Biden was heard on a hot mic after the State of the Union address saying he has to have a come-to-Jesus talk with Netanyahu about letting humanitarian aid into Gaza. Have you spoken to President Biden about whether he's had this conversation? If he hasn't, what is he waiting for? And if he already had it, has it made any difference?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I have spoken to people very high up in his administration.

Here's the bottom line, Margaret. What we are seeing in Gaza today is literally an unprecedented crisis. It's not just that 30,000 people, two- thirds of whom are women and children, have already been killed. We are looking at the possibility of hundreds of thousands of children starving to death.

The United States of America cannot be complicit in this mass slaughter of children. So it is one thing to talk to Netanyahu to pressure Netanyahu. But here is the bottom line. Year after year, we have provided billions of dollars in military aid to the government of Israel.

Right now, you have a right-wing extremist government under Netanyahu. There are plans to provide him with another $10 billion in unfettered military aid. What you can't say to Netanyahu, stop the slaughter, allow the massive amounts of humanitarian aid that we need to come in to feed the children, please, please, please. Oh, but by the way, if you don't do it, here's another $10 billion to continue the war.


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Now, we have written a letter to the president.

It turns out that Israel is in violation of the law. Stopping American humanitarian aid – is in violation of the law. That should be clear. No more money to Netanyahu's war machine to kill Palestinian children.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have said Israel's in violation of the Foreign Assistance Act, as have a handful of other Democratic senators. They may also be in violation of the Leahy Act.

The president himself has the national security powers to suspend. Do you really think, though, in a presidential election year, that the president of the United States would halt or pause or condition aid to one of the closest allies in the Middle East?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I think it is the right thing to do.

You can't beg Netanyahu. You got to tell him, if you want any money, you got to change your policy. Allow the trucks to come in to feed their children. And, by the way, in terms of politics…


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: … which is secondary, to my mind, in this issue, the truth is, whether you're a conservative Republican or a progressive, you do not want to see children in Palestine starve to death.

So I think it's good politics, and it's the moral and right thing to do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you stand by your view that a full cease-fire with Hamas is unrealistic, because that terror group seeks to destroy Israel?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Look, what you have – what you need right now is a cease-fire tomorrow, so that the trucks, the massive amount of humanitarian aid can come in to feed the people who are starving.

But you have Hamas is dedicated to destroying Israel. You have the Netanyahu – Netanyahu government, which is dedicated to destroy Hamas. I think, at the end of the day, Hamas cannot be continuing to run Gaza, and the Netanyahu government cannot continue to run Israel, if we're going to ever leave – bring peace to that region.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But a temporary cease-fire is sufficient for you?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: To feed the children right now is…


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: … what we've got to exactly do.


Yesterday, President Biden was asked about Israel's plans to launch an operation into the southern city of Rafah in Southern Gaza. Listen to what he said.

(Begin VT)

JONATHAN CAPEHART (MSNBC Host): Would invasion of Rafah, which you have urged him not to do, would that be a red line?

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: It is a red line, but I'm never going to leave Israel. The defense of Israel is still critical. So there's no red line I'm going to cut off all weapons, so they don't have the Iron Dome to protect them, they don't have – but there's red lines that, if he crosses, and they continue – you can cannot have 30,000 More Palestinians dead.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Was that clear to you in terms of where that red line is? And what do you make of it?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Look, Margaret, 1.7 million Palestinians, 80 percent of their population, have been driven from their homes and displaced.

Many of them end up in Rafah. To go in there and to displace them again and start a major military campaign would be an unmitigated disaster. So, my view is, of course, we cannot support an attack of that kind on Rafah.

Bottom line is, though, Netanyahu has got to be told, no more money for his war machine unless there is humanitarian aid coming in to feed the people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, that'll be in the hands at the moment of – of the House of Representatives, which hasn't scheduled a vote.

On the politics of this, more than 100,000 voters in Michigan went uncommitted to protest Mr. Biden's policy. In the state of Minnesota in the recent primary there, you saw a similar boycott. Almost 20 percent went uncommitted.

Given your moral objections, your personal issues here, can you, in good conscience, ask your supporters to vote for Mr. Biden?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, look, the contrast that I think President Biden made it very clear in his State of the Union address, if you believe that climate change is real, you've got to vote for President Biden.

If you believe that women have a right to control their own bodies, you've got to vote for President Biden. If you think that, at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, you don't give trillions of dollars in tax breaks to the 1 percent, you've got to vote for Biden. If you want to lower the cost of prescription drugs, you've got to vote for Biden.

If you believe in democracy and involving people in the process, rather than keeping people from voting, you have to vote for Biden.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you're saying…


MARGARET BRENNAN: … progressives need to put this aside?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: I am saying we've got to come – not put it aside. The fight continues to change Biden's policy in Gaza.

But the contrast between Biden and Trump is day and night. The election of Trump would be a disaster for this country and, in my view, the world. We've got to come together, reelect Biden. But, at the same time, we have to demand that we have a progressive agenda, where we have an economy that works for all, not just a few.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you're standing by your endorsement of Mr. Biden's election, despite the current policy?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, no, I'm not supporting Mr. Trump. No, I…


MARGARET BRENNAN: No, no, no, Mr. Biden.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: The election of Trump would be – yes. That's right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Bernie Sanders, thank you for your time this morning.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Tomorrow, the Senate Intelligence Committee will hold their annual worldwide threats hearing.

We sat down for a bipartisan conversation with Chairs Mark Warner and Marco Rubio Thursday just before the State of the Union address to discuss some of the challenges facing America today.

(Begin VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Through the U.S. national security lens, how concerned are you about the rising risk to U.S. interests in the Middle East because of the close alliance with Israel's war in Gaza?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R-Florida): I think it's a mistake to view October 7 simply through the lens of the Palestinian-Israeli question.

I think the reason why Hamas was armed, equipped and felt the confidence is this broader narrative, this broader objective that Iran has to drive the U.S. out of the region. It is why they are conducting attacks in Iraq and Syria. They want a U.S. troop presence out of the region completely. So then…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Should it stay?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you believe that those 2,500 troops in the region should stay?


And the reason why I believe that is because they are not only there on the counter-ISIS mission – let's not forget that group is still existing, and it's still a threat – but because they sit – the reason why Iran wants us out of there is that our – we are stationed at key points that tie Damascus and Baghdad and all these supply routes that Iran wants to dominate..

If we were gone, these proxy groups would now be at the border of Jordan, be able to threaten Jordan and ultimately threaten Israel as a result. But I am concerned, I mean, whether it's Hezbollah and up in the north of Israel, whether it's what's happening in Gaza, whether it's what's happening with Yemen, that the risk of conflict is very real. It's a dangerous and tenuous situation. There's no doubt about.


MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden's reviewing whether to keep those troops in Iraq in the same numbers.

SENATOR MARK WARNER (D-Virginia): Yes. And I will be anxious to see what he says.

I do think, though…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think they should stay?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: I think, in terms of current basis, yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden wants to establish a port in Gaza to try to bring humanitarian aid in.

It's not exactly clear the cost, the U.S. military role. Do you think that is a good decision?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: United States has been the largest single donor to humanitarian efforts for years in the region.

And I think it is important that we continue to show that. I mean, the airlift approach is more symbolic than it actually getting relief to most folks, and I think the right thing to do in terms of, particularly as we go into Ramadan, hopefully lowering some of the tension, but also shows America's concern for some of the humanitarian costs in the region.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: I would just add one thing to this.

And that is, it's important to understand why. Everybody's in favor of helping innocent civilians who are caught in the crossfire of any conflict. I think it's important to understand the reason why aid can't get to them. Hamas has built this system of tunnels. It's expensive. I mean, I don't care if they got a great deal on the concrete.

It's expensive to build this extensive system of tunnels, millions of dollars. That's money that could have gone to create an economy, to feed people, to build hospitals and – and serve civilians. They didn't do it.

And there's real concern and I think very legitimate reason to believe that any aid that goes in there will be grabbed by Hamas used for their purposes, at the expense of the civilian population. Hamas has a track record of zero when it comes to caring about the lives of civilians or of society in general.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know that the U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield, who's handling that, has said in written letters to Congress that they have no evidence that Hamas is stealing the aid, certainly not defending Hamas at all, but saying that aid can continue to be pushed into Gaza without Hamas stealing it.

The issue is the…


SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Well, I will just respond personally.

I don't know what he's talking about, because how does Hamas get food? Hamas does not have an economy. Hamas does – Hamas – everything Hamas gets comes from abroad, from Iranians and from what they take. I think the evidence is in place that they have existed as an organization without any means of generating revenue, other than what they are able to capture from others. That's just common sense.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sure, but in terms of now, with the aid getting in now?


SENATOR MARK WARNER: I think the – the food and water and other relief aid, I think it is – you – you've got to make sure you have a distribution system.

But I think – I agree with Ambassador Satterfield. But let's also step back for a moment. And this tunnel network, which is close to 500 kilometers, I don't think we – any of us fully expected that. And they have been able to secure that.

The fact that we are 140 days, roughly, into this invasion, I think most of us, even in the region, thought the Israeli defense fund – Defense Forces would be able to take out Hamas; 140 days in, they've basically taken out only about 35 percent of the Hamas – Hamas fighters, and literally have only penetrated less than a third of the tunnel network.

We brought in some of our experts and – to say that if – if this…


SENATOR MARK WARNER: … was us trying to take out this tunnel network, could we do it quicker, more efficiently? And, candidly, the answer was, maybe we could be a bit faster, but when Hamas is gruesomely holding the hostages to prevent some of the takeout of the tunnels, this is one of the lessons.

This and I think the lesson of drones in – in Ukraine are two of the things in terms of military doctrine I think that we're going to have to learn from both of these conflicts.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, says total victory is within reach, weeks away, you are not describing total victory within weeks.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You're saying the impact's tiny.

SENATOR MARK WARNER: Meeting with – meeting with folks in Israel, in the military community, in the intelligence community, the idea that you're going to eliminate every Hamas fighter, I don't think is a realistic goal.


And you agree with that?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Well, I think that it is possible to achieve a situation in which Hamas does not have the capability to do what they did on October 7.

That doesn't mean Hezbollah doesn't step in and take over now as a result. That doesn't mean that a new Hamas offshoot wouldn't be created. This is an ongoing challenge. And at the end, the head of this entire snake is the Iranian regime. They are the ones that provide the weaponry and the funds.

There's no Hamas fighters starving to death. There's no Hamas leaders starving to death. They're all fed. They all have medical care. And they all have all the assistance they need to continue to do the things they do.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we will be back in one minute with of our conversation.

Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We asked the senators what the greatest national security threat facing our country is. And there was quite a list.

But in terms of the long-term challenge, both agreed it's China.

(Begin VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Last year, you told me technology competition with China is the issue of our time.

How far ahead is – is the U.S. versus China in A.I.?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: One of the things that Senator Rubio and I have done on a bipartisan basis is try to go industry by industry in America and warn them of the potential theft of intellectual property, $500 billion a year, the fact that China is investing in quantum computing, in bio, a lot of our time spending on – on bioengineering and activities China's taking.

I think we need to compete against that. On A.I., it's a little bit – I believe, a little bit of a better story. You know, a couple years back, when we thought the country that had the most data and the most compute – and the most engineers might purely win, that's not proven to be the case.

The vast majority of innovation is still taking place in this country. If you look at all of the major A.I. companies, they're virtually all American. I don't underestimate China, but we have that innovative economy that – that, frankly, still benefits with us.

And, frankly, the Chinese regime is reluctant to allow these large language models to be used by their population because, frankly, they might find the truth about what the regime has done all the way back to Tiananmen Square in 1989.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There are reports that China lags the U.S. by about a year. Is that consistent with what you've been briefed?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: I – I don't know how to characterize the timeframe.

But I would say that's not really the issue, per se. I mean, first of all, I – we're clearly, I think, ahead, simply because they steal our stuff. We're not interested in stealing their stuff. So there's a reason why they want our stuff, because it's better.

I think the bigger concern is how it would be utilized.

MARGARET BRENNAN: China's ramping up its military spending.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Rubio, you recently voted against the national security supplemental that would have sent $5 billion to the Indo-Pacific and to help Taiwan. Why do you think that money can wait?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Well, I don't think it should wait. I just don't think it should be held hostage on the issue of whether or not we're going to deal with our border.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You are saying that the aid to Taiwan is being held hostage to the border, but you are saying the border needs to be handled first.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: If we would have done a bill that would have voted for the money to Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific and money to Israel, I would have voted for that.

But they want Ukraine in exchange for the border, and – and the same way they're holding Israel funding hostage. They won't do Israel funding without Ukraine. And I support helping Ukraine. But I believe that our national security begins in our own country at our border, where, today, you have thousands of people a day walking into the country, many of whom we do not know who they are.

That has to be a priority. And we insisted.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you get aid to deal with Taiwan now?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Let's vote for it. Let's put up a bill of votes on Taiwan.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're saying it has to be a stand-alone $5 billion…

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: No, it doesn't have to be.

I mean, if the president tonight at the State of the Union – I know we're taping this – and he announces that he's going to re – put back in place the policies that allowed us to detain single adults until the removal proceedings were done, I will vote for that. I will vote for that bill.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it requires a lot of funding. You know that. You would be for…

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: It doesn't require a lot of funding. That's the existing law of the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Border security says it needs more funding, as does ICE…

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Well let's do the funding for that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: … and all the other agencies.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: But – but it starts with the executive order, which is what applies our laws, which he refuses to do, because it would require him to admit that Trump was right about the border.


SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: I am sure Mark agrees with everything I just said.


SENATOR MARK WARNER: Well, listen, I just think this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I think you're gritting your teeth through that.

SENATOR MARK WARNER: I would simply say this. I would just say this.


SENATOR MARK WARNER: The border's a mess.


SENATOR MARK WARNER: There are certain things that the president can do executive order.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president says the border is not secure.

SENATOR MARK WARNER: But let's go back to what President Trump said.

President Trump said: Change the law, so I can do more.


SENATOR MARK WARNER: I respectfully believe that what Senator Lankford put forward was as tough of a border deal as it could get passed in this Congress and even next Congress, because – unless there is a, you know, 80-member shift one way or the other in either political party.

I think politics is the art of the possible, I think it was a good deal. And I agree with Marco we need to get the money to China and Taiwan. We need to get the money, both humanitarian and for Israel.

But I think the issue that I have been most wrapped around is, if we walk away from the people of Ukraine at this point, after, in the last two years, the Ukrainians, with our help and the Europeans' help, at literally the cost of less than 3 percent of our defense budget, have eliminated 87 percent of the Russian pre-invasion ground forces, 63 percent of their tanks, 32 percent of armored personnel carriers, if we don't stand by Ukraine right now, the rest of the world should never trust us again.

And this notion that these authoritarian nations are watching each other, if people say Xi is a threat, and if they don't believe that, if President Putin is successful in Ukraine, and that will then put NATO and American troops in harm's way, Xi will take lessons from that.

I think there is an enormous linkage. If we don't stand by that commitment, then I think this will be a mistake of – as historic as some of the mistakes made in advance of World War II.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you respond to that?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: We have 7.2 million people in this country that have been here over the last three years.

Some of them, we don't really know who they are. New York just deployed National Guard troops to the street because of a migrant crime wave. But we have a serious problem here at home.

And so I think that we have to go to Americans and say, OK, first and foremost, our priority is going to be to deal with our issues here. And all I'm asking is that be made a priority equal to…

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, if President Biden…

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: … what we're doing around the world.

MARGARET BRENNAN: … tomorrow said, oh, I'm going to put in an emergency action to, you know…

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: He's already said he might.

MARGARET BRENNAN: … essentially mimic remain-in-Mexico, you'd say, fine, here's $60 billion for Ukraine?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Sure. That's what I said. That's what I have said from the very beginning.

We have a migrant wave that began in mid-January of 2021, because people calculated that, if they got here, they were going to be able to stay. And 85 to 90 percent of them were right.


SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: And it's drawing more people to come here. It's unsustainable.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I think most Americans – and, in fact, polling backs us this – believe that there is an issue that needs to be dealt with in the border. But you are linking them right now. You are.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Sure, just – and no different than the people that are linking Israel aid to Ukraine.


SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Because they won't vote for a stand-alone Israel bill. They want – unless we do Ukraine. And I'm saying, I won't do Ukraine unless we secure America's border.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You, Senator, helped to spearhead an effort with Senator Kaine on a bipartisan basis to prevent any president from unilaterally withdrawing from NATO.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Did you write that with Donald Trump in mind? Because he's the only president that I can recall who has ever threatened…


MARGARET BRENNAN: … to withdraw from NATO.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: I wrote it – and you will have – I can't speak for Senator Kaine.

I wrote it with the belief that it's an important alliance. If NATO didn't exist, we would have to create it. It's one of our strategic strengths that we have in the world, because China doesn't have these alliances, for example, and neither do the Russians, for that matter, or the Iranians, for that matter.

But I – and so – and I believe Congress needs to play a role in deciding whether we're going to remove ourselves from that. That said, I will tell you that, despite what people may say is rhetoric, because I have acknowledged that Donald Trump does not talk like a member of the Council on Foreign Relations on these issues.

He actually increased troop levels in Poland. And I saw them. I was there when that happened.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He was trying to draw down from Germany and…

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: To increase in Poland.

MARGARET BRENNAN: … rotate into Poland. President Biden reversed that.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: And so the point being is that I don't believe Donald Trump will remove us from NATO. I do think he is going to do, admittedly in an unorthodox way, what virtually every American president has done since the onset of NATO, and that is demand that some NATO countries do more.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will continue our conversation in a moment, so stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Overnight, the U.S. military evacuated some diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and flew in Marines to reinforce security at the facility, as the country faces a threat from heavily armed gangs occupying most of the city.

We will be back in a minute.



We continue our conversation with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner and Vice Chair Marco Rubio.

(Begin VT)


SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: I'm against it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know. You're consistent in that.

SENATOR MARK WARNER We - we have different -

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Biden campaign joined TikTok, Senator Warner.

SENATOR MARK WARNER: And - and I said - and I said that sent a pretty darn mixed message because the Biden administration supported my earlier bipartisan legislation that we – would lead to a path of potentially banning TikTok because I believe that TikTok, both controlled by the Chinese communist property, both collects data and, as a news source, literally half of young people in America get a lot of their news all from TikTok.

MARGARET BRENNAN: One hundred and seventy million Americans are on it.

SENATOR MARK WARNER: And the idea – if you don't think the Chinese Communist Party can twist that algorithm to make it the news that they see reflective of their views, then I don't think you appreciate the nature of the threat. And would the United States ever allow China to buy CBS? I don't think they would. And we - we might have slightly different ways on how we go at this, but we think this is a national security issue.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: The danger of TikTok is not that somebody goes on that video and, you know, puts something up that looks stupid or silly. The reason why TikTok is so attractive, its value is it has an algorithm, a recommender engine, which is one of the best in the world. That is owned by ByteDance. Under Chinese law, ByteDance must own it. And the only way that that recommender engine works is if they have access to the data.

So, it doesn't matter who you sell TikTok to, where they're headquartered, it doesn't even matter where they store the data, the - as long as ByteDance engineers in China have access to that data, control the algorithm, they have to have access to American data to make it work. And that's what we need to confront. That's the reality here.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You like this House bill?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: Listen, I think there is - I think there's a lot of creativity on TikTok, and I think if they had to discourage (ph), as long as the algorithm moved – if this was a Brazilian company or a French or a Canadian company it wouldn't cause me near the consternation.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: I don't know about the – I haven't read it in detail yet. It's not an easy thing to resolve. But ultimately what we have to focus on is who owns the algorithm, because whoever owns the algorithm will have - will have access to the data. And that's -

SENATOR MARK WARNER: And manipulating that algorithm -


SENATOR MARK WARNER: Can mean what kind of information you're going to see. And if you don't think that could be used as a – the most powerful propaganda tool ever, then I don't think you appreciate that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In an election year.

SENATOR MARK WARNER: In an election year, then you don't get the threat.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You, Senator Warner, said last month that we are less prepared for foreign interference in 2024 than we were in 2020. What exactly are you concerned about?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: Well, we have nation states, China, Iran, Russia, who know that interfering in our elections is both effective and cheap. We have a lot more Americans who have, for a variety of reasons, less trust in any of our institutions, including our voting system. We have a court case that was in the Fifth Circuit that it restricted the voluntary communication between social media and the FBI or SISA. And you have that cauldron of change going on. And then you throw in artificial intelligence tools that can bring deep fakes or voices or other manipulation at a speed and scale that's unprecedented.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: It's the area of maligned influence, right? What are the issues that already divide Americans? So, let's amplify messages that put them at each other's throat, that makes their politics even more conflictive. We already do a pretty good job of it on our own. Help us do that. And that doesn't just deal with elections. We're beyond just election interference with malign influence. It's now an effort to influence our policy debates, to divide us year-round.


SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: On a regular basis. Russia does it and they've done it for a long time. The Chinese want to get into this business. The Iranians and others will join them because - and not just here. We've already seen examples of it in other democratic nations. It's a growing risk. And I think one of the first things you have to do is talk about it so people understand what it is we're trying to describe. It's not hacking ballot boxes. It's hacking the minds and our political debate in this country by exacerbating pre-existing tensions to the point of boiling over.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And it's not clear how people are supposed to protect themselves against what you just described.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Well, it begins with awareness and the understanding that sometimes these messages that are being driven, or some of these things that people are putting up online, are not real, or they are a video of something that happened halfway around the world ten years ago, not down the street one month ago. But they're things that are designed to get people angry.

And, you know, algorithms feed this because people love content that shows something outrageous and more people will view it, so it's easy to push this. And before you know it, people are out there voting and at each other's throat over something that may not even be real.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This is the biggest risk for election night?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: It's a huge risk. And - now, we've got a job to do, and I hope others will advance this as well. Twenty tech companies said in an agreement in Munich that they would try to put watermarking and that would indicate if content has been altered or - or deep fake. And they –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that sufficient?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: They've said they will take it down. But it's all voluntary. So, we need to keep the pressure on.

And, frankly, I think the administration needs to lean in more and I think we need to do a better job – I think people were potentially more aware, even four years ago under President Trump, to do a better job of educating that with these new tools, like deep fakes, you know, don't believe everything you see and hear.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Our full conversation with our senators is on our website and our YouTube channel.

We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who joins us from Brooklyn, New York.

Welcome back.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Good morning. Great to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Leader Jeffries, you know, our latest CBS polling shows Donald Trump with a four-point lead over Joe Biden. And Mr. Biden has not consolidated his base Democratic voters. Specifically among black voters, Biden is ahead of Trump, 76 to 23, but that core Democratic group that he won with about 90 percent back in 2020 is showing just it seems like a lack of enthusiasm. How does President Biden fix it?

HAKEEM JEFFRIES: Well, the polling has been all over the place but I'm confident that at the end of the day, in November, the overwhelming majority of African Americans, Caribbean Americans, black voters throughout the country, will support President Biden, understand that he has delivered over and over and over again on issues of concern, whether that's the lowest rate of black unemployment in decades, whether that's historic investment in historically black colleges and universities, making sure that he has been supportive, and incredibly so, of small business creation and entrepreneurship in the black community, building upon the efforts that had been previously done by President Barack Obama. And Joe Biden has a vision for the future of an inclusive economy that grows the middle class and ensures things like home ownership within the African American community can continue to grow.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we heard a bit of that vision in the State of the Union Address, but we don't often hear from the president on many of these things.

Al Sharpton was just quoted in "The Washington Post" saying the campaign needs to do more to draw comparison between, quote, "two old white guys." He said they need to spend more money on ads, more money touting the record you just laid out.

Is that it? What is it that is making people not have this enthusiasm?

HAKEEM JEFFRIES: Well, I travel throughout the country and spend time, of course, in the district that I represent here in Brooklyn, and there is a high degree of enthusiasm for President Joe Biden, and it is growing. President Joe Biden had an incredible State of the Union Address. He was strong, he was serious, and he was substantive, and he drew a clear contrast between his vision of moving America forward in an enlightened way that's inclusive of everyone, and the contrast with the extreme MAGA Republicans who want to turn back the clock, turn back the clock on reproductive freedom, turn back the clock on voting rights, turn back the clock by ending Social Security and Medicare as we know it. President Joe Biden is on the right side of those issues.

MARGARET BRENNAN: They would say they don't plan to do that.

HAKEEM JEFFRIES: On the right side of those issues for the American people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: On the issue of the border, our polling shows by more than five to one voters say Biden's policies will increase the number of migrants attempting to cross versus Trump policies. That's an impression. I know in the state of New York you recently had a race in New York Three, the victory of Tom Suozzi. And he campaigned on tougher border positions. Specifically, he said he was comfortable describing this as an invasion. I wonder if you endorse that language and if you would encourage Democrats to adopt it?

HAKEEM JEFFRIES: Tom Suozzi ran a great campaign. He communicated with voters. He talked about common sense solutions to meeting the challenges that are facing the American people. Now, we believe, as Democrats, that we have a broken immigration system and that we need to address the clear challenges at the border. President Biden has repeatedly made that clear.

Entered into negotiations with Republicans who decided to detonate their own border policy bill because they were ordered to do so by Donald Trump, who's more interested in playing political games than solving the challenges at the border. Tom Suozzi leaned in to the fact that he supported the bipartisan bill that was being negotiated in the Senate.


HAKEEM JEFFRIES: And that Republicans are the ones who walked away from it. That is what was decisive in that campaign.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It wasn't just process. He used that word, invasion. He used much stronger language. Do Democrats need to campaign in a – with a stronger message specifically on immigration, and you know the - the flow of migrants is only expected to pick up in the coming months. This isn't going away as a campaign issue.

HAKEEM JEFFRIES: Invasion is not a word that I would ever use. I'm not sure whether he used that word or not or in what context. I do know what Tom Suozzi said he believes that we are a nation of immigrants, of course, through his own experience, his grandfather coming over from Italy.

At the same period of time, we need to also deal with the challenges that we confront at the border, anchored in the notion that we also are a nation based on the rule of law. And we can and should do both.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. Dreamers are not in the Senate bill. And as you know, the speaker in the House has said it would be dead on arrival, even if it were to pass the Senate.

So, moving to another issue that seems also stuck in Congress right now, aid to Ukraine. It runs out, ammunition does, in the month of April, according to the Ukrainian government. You want to get the $95 billion package, I know, from the Senate through the House. There's no date to do that. Speaker Johnson has not committed to do that. Do you need an alternative? And can you promise Joe Biden, who made this issue number one in the State of the Union, that you can deliver on it?

HAKEEM JEFFRIES: Of course we don't need an alternative when you have a comprehensive, bipartisan national security bill that has come over from the Senate and all we need is an up or down vote in the House of Representatives. And everyone in Washington knows that it will secure at least 300 votes if not more so we can meet the needs of America's national security -

MARGARET BRENNAN: But there's no date to do that.

HAKEEM JEFFRIES: And to support our democratic allies in Ukraine and Israel, humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians who are in harm's way, support our allies in the Indo-Pacific. That's a question for Mike Johnson, when he knows that the House has the votes to act on America's national security interests.

The reason why it's not happening is because there's a pro-Putin faction in the Republican Party, led by Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson, who are blocking this legislation. And that's shameful.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Will you protect Speaker Johnson from a motion to vacate if he takes that vote? Will you prevent him from being ousted?

HAKEEM JEFFRIES: We haven't had that conversation as a caucus, but I have made the observation that I believe there are a reasonable number of members, if the speaker were to do the right thing, that don't believe that he should fall as a result of it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That sounds like a yes.

All right, Leader, thank you for your time this morning.

And FACE THE NATION will be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we're joined now by the vice chairman of IBM, Gary Cohn, who also served as former President Trump's top economic adviser in the White House.

Welcome back.

GARY COHN, VICE CHAIRMAN, IBM: Great to be here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to talk to you about a few things with the economy, but also what President Biden took aim at in terms of taxes, because you were the architect of this tax policy.

Tax rates for most Americans could go up as soon as December of 2025 because that's just an expiration date unless Congress acts. Secretary Yellen said if Biden wins re-election he'll seek tax cut extensions only for people earning less than $400,000 a year. What do you think of that plan?

GARY COHN: So, Margaret, let me explain. So, when we redid taxes in 2017, the personal side of the tax code expires December 31, 2025. So, as of January 1, 2026, we revert back to the very complicated tax code that we had in 2017. So, people have to remember that. It was extremely complicated. You bring in all these things as personal deductions, itemized deductions. Now you bring in SALT deductions. We raised tax rates -

MARGARET BRENNAN: State and local taxes.

GARY COHN: Right. We raised tax rates, but you bring in all the loopholes that we got rid of.

So, what we tried to do when we re-wrote the taxes is we tried to simplify it and we tried to get rid of all the loopholes that basically the wealthy people in America use. And that was a way that we tried to make the tax code fair. And the data shows that we've made the tax code fair. If you actually look at who pays taxes in this country, the bottom 50 percent of earners in the United States pay 2.3 percent of tax collected. And the top 10 percent pays over 70 percent of tax collected in this country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That is - that sounds like the exact opposite of what President Biden described in the State of the Union, because he took aim at billionaires. He said they pay a lower tax rate than teachers. He proposed minimum taxes of 25 percent on billionaires. How do you respond to that?

GARY COHN: Well, again, I think you've got to take one little step back here. A billionaire is a measure of net worth. It's not a description of their taxable income. You could be a billionaire and have no taxable income. You could not have a billion dollars and have a high taxable income. So, when you look at the way people are –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because it could be you're just sitting on assets.

GARY COHN: You're just sitting on assets.


GARY COHN: And you could be sitting on illiquid assets, you could be sitting on liquid assets.

We do a very good job in this country of taxing income. That's what the Constitution talks about. The Constitution talks about taxing your income. There is no income in this country unless you buy a tax-free bond that doesn't get taxed at a minimum of 20 percent. Whether it's interest or dividends or capital gains. So, there's no billionaire in this country that has income that is not paying at least 20 percent.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the president is tapping in to at least a perception that wealthy people have far more of an advantage and that corporations are taking advantage of the little guy. I mean he went down to the 10 percent fewer snickers in the bag analogy in his speech.

GARY COHN: He did. He did.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Basically saying, you're getting ripped off. So, what do you make of - of that idea, though, and - and the explanation he's trying to make for why people are experiencing inflation even though the rate is coming down?

GARY COHN: Well, let's - let's talk about inflation for a minute because I think they're really important concepts for everyone to understand. Inflation has a compounding effect. Meaning, as you look at inflation year over year you're adding up those numbers. You're not starting at a zero every year.


GARY COHN: So, if we had 6 percent inflation last year, 7 percent inflation, and now we have 4 percent inflation, that's 10 percent inflation. So, if you take a basket of groceries at the beginning of 2020, just a simple basic basket that costs $100, it costs well over $125 today because those 4 percent one year and 7 percent one year and 7 percent the next year, they add up. They're cumulative. So, there's a huge cumulative effect to inflation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, when people are being told, consumers, you're wrong, inflation's heading – no, they're right, it is actually more expensive.

GARY COHN: They're completely right. They're completely right. And what they're more right about is we at least finally have gotten to the position where wage growth is faster than inflation. But we had not been there until the last few months.


GARY COHN: So, people were losing purchasing power. And that's why people were angry. And then take on top of that the high interest rate environment where if you thought you might have been in a position to buy a house because you saved money, you go out to get a mortgage at 7 or 8 percent, you can't afford a house. So, people got very frustrated because the costs of their every day lives got very expensive and the cost of investing in their future by buying a home got nearly impossible.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, president – former President Trump is campaigning, talking a lot about the frustration consumers have. And I want to ask you specifically about this idea he's floating of tariffs. He's said tariffs as much as 60 percent on - on China. Last night he outlined these plans.


DONALD TRUMP (R), (Former U.S. President And 2024 Presidential Candidate): And if China or any other country makes us pay a tariff or tax, let's say 100 or 200 percent, we will make them pay a reciprocal tariff of 100 or 200 percent right back. It's called, you screw us and we screw you and everybody's happy.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You've said on this program in the past, Trump's tariffs in the last administration hurt consumers. Will this hurt consumers?

GARY COHN: So, remember what a tariff is. A tariff is a tax that the importer pays at the border of the United States. That tariff then gets passed on to consumers here in the United States. It is a consumption tax.

Now, look, I want to refine that a little bit. If we manufactured those products in the United States, and we're using a tariff to protect our manufacturers because China can produce cheaper, because they don't pay fair wages, they don't have health care, they don't have to have a return on capital, I'm OK with the president – or the president nominee or whoever it is putting a tariff on. But if we're putting tariffs on things that we do not manufacture in this country, and everyday citizens need to consume those products, that is highly inflationary and it will really have a dramatic impact on our economy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, when he's talked about the tariffs on Mexico or tariffs on other countries, you're saying, that's going to cost consumers more at the end of the day?

GARY COHN: So, if you're buying something - if you're buying a baby stroller or baby formula and it costs x today and it's now x plus 60 percent at the border -


GARY COHN: You are paying that as the consumer. No one's absorbing those tariffs except for the ultimate consumer. And - and if you have to buy those goods, you are going to have an inflationary impact on the economy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, in terms of what you are thinking, as someone from the business community going into this election, there is the presumption that business community will be with Trump. Do you have any misgivings about him and his plans given what he has done, including bringing autocrats to Mar-a-Lago as he did with Viktor Orban this week?

GARY COHN: Look, I think the business community at this point is still open minded. I think the business community really wants to hear the policies. You know, there's a lot of big policies out here. We touched on taxes.


GARY COHN: You know, what's going to happen in taxes by the end of '25? Where are we going to be? That's very important. Energy policy.


GARY COHN: Very important to business. Business consumes a lot of energy. We haven't even talked on AI. AI is a huge consumer of electricity. It's going to change our demand profile dramatically in this country. The southern border. What's going to go on at the southern border?


GARY COHN: Legal - legal immigration. We need skilled laborers in this country.


GARY COHN: We need to bring in 2 million skilled laborers in this country. The business community is going to look at those topics and they're going to look at the platforms of the candidates and I think that's going to have a huge impact on how they vote.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're saying it's still open. You would be open to voting for either Joe Biden or Donald Trump at this point?

GARY COHN: I think based on those policies, that's going to influence the corporate community because those are the factors that really impact how they can run their businesses.

Look, I can throw regulation on there. The ability to merge. The ability to consolidate. The ability to buy back stock. All of those things really have dramatic impact on the corporate community and how they look at the campaigns.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, President Biden, in his State of the Union, said Wall Street didn't build America, unions built America. But he ad libed, but they're not bad guys. So, you're not a bad guy, Gary, according to Joe Biden.

GARY COHN: Thank you. I appreciate that. I appreciate that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, I mean, what – in - in the rhetoric alone, does there need to be outreach? Or you're saying it's actually going to come down to - to the dollars and cents of it?

GARY COHN: Well, look, there has to be - there has to be outreach. There has to be outreach. The current administration is an administration that is standing in the way of business and business growing and business trying to grow jobs. You know, business wants to invest capital in this country. One of the other things we did in the 2017 tax plan is we made companies repatriate their offshore earnings. Companies want to reinvest that capital in the United States, but they want to make sure they can reinvest it in a sound way that will give their shareholders a return. When they invest the capital, it creates jobs. But they want to make sure the regulatory environment makes sense for them to invest capital.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Gary Cohn, thank you for coming in. We have to leave it there.

GARY COHN: Thank you for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.

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