Watch CBS News

Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on Dec. 4, 2022

12/4: Face The Nation: Blinken, Aguilar, Holder
12/4: Face The Nation: Blinken, Aguilar, Holder 46:14

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

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken
  • GOP Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio
  • Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar of California
  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder
  • Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan

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: December kicks off with some bright spots when it comes to the economy. How will they impact that cloudy financial forecast for next year? The race to get as much done before the holidays as possible is on here in the nation's capital.

International diplomacy has stepped up on a number of fronts, but will Vladimir Putin bend to new overtures to end Russia's war in Ukraine and return U.S. prisoners?

With continuing protests in Iran and new challenges when it comes to China, we will talk to the Biden administration's top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Then: Last week saw positive economic news on the jobs front, a surge in holiday shopping and a drop in gas prices.

(Begin VT)

JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): The Americans are working, the economy is growing, wages are rising faster than inflation.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: But there have been some big layoffs in media and the tech sector. And the Fed is likely to raise interest rates again later this month. We will talk with Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan.

And as new House leaders prepare for the next Congress, we will talk to Mike Turner, the presumptive Republican Intelligence Committee chair, and the new number three Democrat, California Congressman Pete Aguilar.

Finally, that last Senate seat will be decided in a Tuesday run-off in Georgia. We will tell you what's at stake, and we will check in with the Obama administration's Attorney General Eric Holder.

It's all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.

We've got a lot to get to today, but we want to jump right in with our first guest, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who joins us from the State Department.

Good morning to you, Mr. Secretary.

ANTONY BLINKEN (U.S. Secretary of State): Margaret, good morning. Good to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to start with some breaking news overnight out of Iran.

They have abolished the morality police. This is after months of protests following the death of Mahsa Amini, who died because she was taken into custody since her head wasn't adequately covered. Does this stop the protests that have been raging?

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: That's up to the Iranian people. This is about them. It's not about us.

And what we've seen since the killing of Mahsa Amini has been the extraordinary courage of Iranian young people, especially women, who've been leading these protests, standing up for the right to be able to say what they want to say, wear what they want to wear.

And so if the regime has now responded in some fashion to those protests, that could be a positive thing. But we have to see how it actually plays out in practice and what the Iranian people think. This is about them, and it's up to them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We've also seen protests in China because of these COVID lockdown policies. They seem to have died out in recent days.

Is that because the police state stopped them, or have they actually had an effect?

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: Well, we've seen, apparently, some easing of the COVID restrictions in recent days, but very hard for us to -- to speak to that.

There again, we've been standing up for the basic principle that people should have the right to make their views known peacefully, to protest, as the case may be, to vent their frustrations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your deputy, Wendy Sherman, gave a speech here in Washington on Friday, where she said: "I think war is potentially possible because Xi Jinping now has absolute control in China."

You're about to go to China. Do you agree with that assessment?

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: So, Margaret, we're in an intense competition with China.

And, of course, there's nothing wrong with competition itself, as long as it's basically fair and on a level playing field. And we're working with countries around the world to build convergence on the approach to China, which I have seen get very strong in Europe, in -- in Asia.

And the president has a strong determination to ensure that the competition does not veer into conflict. That's one of the reasons that he spent three hours with Xi Jinping in Indonesia on the margins of the G20. It's one of the reasons that he asked me to go to China early next year, making sure that we're talking, we're communicating, we're making clear what we're about, what our intents are, what we're doing.

That's vitally important. The world is threatened.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But war is potentially possible, is what she said.

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: The determination that we have is to make sure that the competition does not veer into conflict.

And this is also what the world expects of us. They expect us to responsibly manage the relationship with China. This is something that I hear from countries around the world. It's exactly what President Biden is doing, standing up strongly for our interests and values, working with other countries who are similarly situated to advance them, making sure that we're keeping the context open, keeping the dialogue open.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about Russia.

President Biden says he has no plans to speak with Vladimir Putin, but he would if there was an indication he wanted to end the war. The president's top military adviser, Mark Milley, has said that, during this cold period, combat will slow and there could be a window for diplomacy.

You're the top diplomat. Do you think there's value in trying to start talks?

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: There's always value in diplomacy, if the parties in question and, in this case, Russia are actually interested in meaningful diplomacy.

And what we've seen, at least recently, is exactly the contrary. Even as President Zelenskyy, from Ukraine, came to the G20 countries, the leading economies in the world, and put out a proposal for how to move forward toward peace, what did Vladimir Putin do? He doubled and tripled down on everything he was doing, mobilizing more forces, annexing territory in Ukraine, and now trying to weaponize winter.

He's been unable to win on the battlefield, so he's taking -- he's basically turning his ire and his fire on Ukrainian civilians, going after the energy infrastructure, trying to turn off the lights, turn off the heat, turn off the electricity. That's what's going on.

So, unless and until Putin demonstrates that he's actually interested in meaningful diplomacy, it's unlikely to go anywhere.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Biden administration did put an offer on the table when it comes to a prisoner swap with Russia. That was back in July.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Two weeks ago, you said Russia has a failure to seriously negotiate.

Has that changed? Is Russia serious now?

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: Margaret, as you know, we did put a significant proposal on the table many months ago.

And, since then, we've been engaged repeatedly in any way that we can to try to advance it and to look to see if there are different permutations that could achieve what we're trying to achieve, which is to get our people home, Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan.

We're engaged in that on a -- on a regular basis. And it's my determination that we bring our people home. We will not stop until we do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But if these talks are now active and ongoing, as the White House said, that suggests you think there is some reason to believe they're serious now.

You said they weren't serious a few weeks ago.

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: As they say, Margaret, the proof will be in the pudding. We have to see if the engagements that we've had, the discussions that we have produce an actual result.

That's the most important thing. But we are not resting on -- on the laurels of having put forward a proposal some months ago. We've been actively engaged over these many months to try to move things forward.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The offer, for our viewers, was to release a convicted arms dealer known as the Merchant of Death, Viktor Bout. There are two Americans being held. You named them right there, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.

Brittney has been in custody for less than a year. Whelan, a former Marine, has been in captivity since 2018. Russia wants a one-for-one swap. How do you decide which American gets left behind?

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: So, I'm not going to get into the details of this. It would be counterproductive for me to get into the specifics of anything that we're saying or that the Russians are saying and that we're hearing.

My determination is, one way or another, as long as it takes to get people home. My efforts, the efforts of the entire administration are to bring both Paul and Brittney home.

MARGARET BRENNAN: To bring them both home, but Russia wants a one-for-one swap.

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: Again, I'm not going to get into the -- into the details of where we are.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, that's what Russian media has been reporting. So, in your view, is it all or nothing?

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: Well, Russian media -- Russian media reports a lot every day that I wouldn't necessarily take at face value.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, that's not what the Russians have told you?

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: Again, I'm not going to get into the details of it.

Look, the -- the other side gets a vote in this. It's not just what we want. It's what they're prepared to do. And this is something that we're working on almost every day.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm. And I know their families would love them home by Christmas, which is why I'm asking you.

I want to also, before I let you go, ask about Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu is on trial for corruption, but he right now is trying to piece together an alliance to form a government. If he does, he'll become prime minister again. I know you know this.

But he's been allying himself with figures who have spewed anti-Arab, anti- gay hate, as well as discrimination against non-Orthodox Jews. One of them wants to cancel gay pride parades. At least two have called for mass deportations of Palestinians, including the man who may head Israel's police force.

Doesn't this makeup really jeopardize your intention to have peace in the region?

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: Margaret, we have worked and we will continue to work with Israeli governments of every kind, just as Israeli governments have worked with American administrations of every kind.

And we're determined to do that going forward. Our focus is less on personalities and more on policies. The important thing is, what policies does the government pursue? The government -- or the incoming government, at least, knows our views on a number of these issues. But we have an absolute commitment to Israel's security. That's not going to change.

And, as we always have in the past, we'll -- we'll speak directly to each other. We will be very clear about what we think and what we believe with our Israeli allies. I'm sure they'll do the same. And, again, we'll focus on the policies, not the personalities.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But these -- this extreme right-wing government, as it has been described, being put together does complicate your relationship?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Because then you also have to spend time talking about not canceling gay pride parades, not deporting people, all these policies here.

That's not what you want to focus on, which is settling peace, a two-state solution, which is being rejected by many of these figures.

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: I think we can run and chew gum at the same time.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you're not concerned about this?

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: Again, we're going to focus on what the government does. And, as we have with every past Israeli government, and as Israelis have with every past U.S. administration, we will work closely together.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Secretary Blinken, you're a busy man. Thank you for your time this morning.

SECRETARY ANTONY BLINKEN: Thanks, Margaret. Great to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we turn now to Ohio Congressman Mike Turner, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman Turner, good to have you here in person.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER (R-Ohio): Thank you. Yes, it's great to be here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, just yesterday, the director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, said that Russia was perhaps struggling to keep up with the amount of munitions that it's using in this war in Ukraine. The cold weather is slowing combat.

The secretary of state, though, didn't really give hope for diplomacy at this moment. Given what you know, when will this war end?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Well, the one thing that we know is that the - - the gains that Ukraine is making are real. They're real in the battlefield.

They're real in the support that they have around the world, they have with democracies on the floor of the United Nations in condemning this aggression by Russia. But Ukraine really has to be the one that decides that if, when, and how negotiations are entered into.

And, at this point, they're battling for their country. They're losing lives for democracy. President Zelenskyy says -- I was just in Ukraine just before the elections. He says openly he understands that he's the front lines for democracy. And he's fighting an authoritarian regime.

And I think, obviously, Russia has to reevaluate how they look at this conflict and how Putin looks at what he has started.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you agree with the administration on this?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: I agree, absolutely, that this is -- this is something where -- look, this is a war of aggression that Russia needs to reevaluate and to withdraw from Ukraine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You've said -- because you are poised to run the Intelligence Committee, since you are at the top Republican, when Republicans take control in January, is this going to be an area where, as you promised, you can take politics out of it and actually work across the aisle?

What does that mean?


So, we've -- when I went -- we went on a bipartisan trip to deliver to President Zelenskyy a message that there's bipartisan support for Ukraine. I think there's a number of issues that we're going to be working on, on a bipartisan basis. What should the United States policy be? How do we make certain that the -- I serve on the Armed Service Committee and the Intelligence Committee.

How do we make certain that they get the weapon systems that they need? How do we hold together this world alliance that -- that we have, where the world is condemning what Russia is doing? And, of course, the expansion of NATO. We're looking forward to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, which is the opposite of what Putin believed he was going to achieve in attacking Ukraine.

He now sees the expansion by two valuable partners with great military capabilities joining NATO.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to show our viewers some pretty extraordinary video that the Pentagon unveiled this week, a B-21 Raider.

It's the first U.S. nuclear stealth bomber aircraft in more than 30 years. And it's being packaged as this deterrent to China -- to China. How concerned are you about the pace of Beijing's nuclear development?


And I want to commend the administration, because they've been very forward-leaning in releasing and declassifying information about what China is doing. They are expanding their nuclear weapons, their nuclear weapons capabilities, their ICBMs that are targeting the United States.

This plane is incredibly important. I served as chair of the Air and Land Subcommittee, as we, on a classified basis, began the process of working on this plane. And it gives us an additional balance, because it's an additional delivery vehicle, additional way to combat what China's doing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: To drop nuclear weapons?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: To cause people not to drop nuclear weapons. I mean, that's what's so...


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's really -- it's really the deterrent, right.


It is to make certain that the balance of power is there, so that people understand that the -- that the cost is just too great. When China is expanding the nuclear weapons, they're looking at the United States. If we blink, if we don't -- if we don't respond, then they assume that they can get first strike capabilities that not only holds us at bay, but really holds us at risk, because then you have the leader of a nuclear power that might make that miscalculation, and, of course, cost unfathomable lives.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You talked about being open about intelligence.

I'm wondering, in your new role, will you be asking the director of national intelligence for a briefing and a damage assessment related to Mar-a-Lago and the documents the former president took to his private home?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: That's already in process. I mean, we've already talked...

MARGARET BRENNAN: It hasn't happened.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: It has not, but it's been largely a schedule...

MARGARET BRENNAN: In the new Congress, will you ask for it?


And I have just talked to the director of national intelligence about this particular issue. One issue that we have -- I have discussed with the director which is very, very interesting is, is that, prior to the Mar-a- Lago and raid, no one in the intelligence community or in the national security community was engaged at all by the FBI to request an assessment as to what the risk of the documents that had been surrendered from Mar-a- Lago or that might have been at Mar-a-Lago, or that were even perceived as being missing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you think the Justice Department should have...


REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: This was just the FBI and the -- and the archivist, which is basically a glorified librarian, coming together and deciding to raid Mar-a-Lago.

Now, we need to get...

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you're not downplaying that taking classified material to your private home...


MARGARET BRENNAN: ... is a problem, particularly for the commander in chief?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: There were just -- there were other options that the FBI had vs. the escalation that -- that they did.

That certainly is going to be one of the questions we have. The -- the director of national intelligence indicated they have conducted their risk assessment, and they are prepared to give both of our committees on the Senate and the House presentations as to what those are.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you have a sense of when or what the scale of the damage is?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: At this point, it's just a scheduling issue. We just had a meeting with the director, both Senator Warner, myself, and Adam Schiff.

And, as they look to, how do we get everybody scheduled together, and those who've done the assessment -- because, again, it's not just a director that will be coming.


REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: They'll have to come forward to give us, what did they see, what do they have, and how do they perceive the threat that may or may not have existed from some of these documents?

MARGARET BRENNAN: This may seem a basic question, but all elected leaders swear to uphold the Constitution.

Does calling for its suspension, is that disqualifying for a presidential candidate?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: It's certainly not consistent with the...

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know why I'm asking this question.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: I do. It's certainly not consistent with the oath that we all take.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, yesterday, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, the standard-bearer for your party, posted on TRUTH Social -- and we know he lost the 2020 election, but continues to claim he did not -- "A massive fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations and articles, even those found in the Constitution."

Should the standard-bearer for the Republican Party, the front-runner for the nomination for the presidency for your party in 2024, say this?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Well, you know, I -- first of all, I vehemently disagree with -- with the statement that Trump has made.

Trump has made 1,000 statements in which I disagree. There is a political process that has to go forward before anybody is a -- before -- before anybody...

MARGARET BRENNAN: Constitutional conservatives are pretty clear about where they value the Constitution.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Right. Exactly. But be -- there has to be...

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there any scenario where suspending the Constitution...

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: You do get to pick the questions, but I do get to pick my answer.

There is a political process question...

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know. I'm trying to get you to answer the question I'm asking.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: There is a political process that has to go forward before anybody's a front-runner or anybody is a -- even the candidate for the party.

And I think that -- and I believe...

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you condemn him saying something like this?


And I believe, answering your question, that people certainly are going to take into consideration a statement like this as they evaluate a candidate.


I also have to ask you about the other statement and the people that he has been spending time with. A neo-Nazi, pro-Putin misogynist named Nick Fuentes came to have dinner with the former president at his home, alongside Kanye West, who just this past week praised Hitler.


This is -- everybody, I think -- everyone both condemns and is shocked and is as disgusted and nauseated by the fact that we're even, in this year, in 2022, having anyone that would make statements like that, nevertheless have anybody who would engage in a conversation with someone who's having -- making statements like that, absolutely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So having classified documents at the same place where they're having the dinner...

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Well that's -- that's not...

MARGARET BRENNAN: ... which were not necessarily securely held, and they're government records that should be in government property, all those things together, they're a problem.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Well, as you know, the FBI raided his home. And, supposedly, there are not classified documents there.

But all of these are issues of judgment. And, as you...

MARGARET BRENNAN: The premise of saying he doesn't know who he's having dinner with at that home.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: These are all issues of judgment, and a political process has to go forward. And I believe voters are smart, and they'll take those things into consideration in a political process.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman, thank you for coming on and answering questions.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Good seeing you. Thanks for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be back in just one minute, so stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Midterm voting will finally, fingers crossed, be over after Tuesday's Senate run-off in Georgia between incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.

Democrats will control the Senate, but that 51st seat, if Warnock wins, will give them more power when it comes to building committees. And it means potentially fewer headaches for Democratic leaders over those single- senator holdouts we saw frequently in the last two years.

CBS News congressional correspondent Nikole Killion reports from Atlanta.

(Begin VT)

WOMAN: Go, Dawgs! Go, Dawgs!

NIKOLE KILLION (voice-over): On this SEC college football championship weekend, legendary Georgia running back Herschel Walker is hoping to follow the Bulldogs' win over LSU with a victory of his own Tuesday.

HERSCHEL WALKER (R-Georgia Senatorial Candidate): We got these weak leaders in Washington. And I say, enough is enough. Now what we got to do is, we got to get out there and vote.

NIKOLE KILLION: Georgia won the SEC Championship by 20 points. There's no way Tuesday's Senate election margin will be anywhere near that. Neither candidate made the required 50 percent threshold on November 8, forcing the race into overtime.

Since then, the state's been bombarded with campaign ads and out-of-town visitors.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-South Carolina): Starting for the state of Georgia, Herschel Walker!


NIKOLE KILLION: The current president and his predecessor stayed away during the run-off, but one president who did return to Georgia, Barack Obama.

BARACK OBAMA (Former President of the United States): Mr. Walker has been talking about issues that are of great importance to the people of Georgia, like whether it's better to be a vampire or a werewolf.



FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is a debate that I must confess I once had myself...




NIKOLE KILLION: Here's what the former president was talking about:

HERSCHEL WALKER: Vampires are some cool people, are they not?

But I'm going to tell you something that I found out. A werewolf can kill a vampire. Did you know that? I never knew that. So, I didn't want to be a vampire anymore. I wanted to be a werewolf.

NIKOLE KILLION: The Republican challenger has repeatedly struggled to combat controversial headlines, ranging from allegations of domestic abuse to revelations of tax records indicating his primary home is in Texas, not Georgia.

Democrats say the controversies cut to Walker's character.

SENATOR RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-Georgia): What we're seeing is a disturbing pattern from Herschel Walker. And all of these women can't be lying.

(End VT)

NIKOLE KILLION: Voters here in Georgia had about a week of early voting. That's now ended.

More than 1.8 million ballots have been cast. That's about a quarter of active voters. And, in just two days, we will find out who wins -- Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Nikole, thank you.

And this programming note: There will be a special Georgia run-off edition of Red & Blue on our CBS Streaming Network starting at 9:00 p.m. Tuesday.

And we will be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're joined now by California Congressman Pete Aguilar, the new number three Democrat in the House.

Good to have you here.

You are the highest-ranking Latino in congressional history. That is historic in this new job. It's a generational shift for Democrats in January.

But, as you go into the minority, you also have less experienced leadership. What does that mean, because this is going to be a knife fight over the next two years with Republicans?

REPRESENTATIVE PETE AGUILAR (D-California): Well, first of all, just how far we've come.

And it's not lost on me the significance of being in this chair at this moment, with Hakeem Jeffries and Katherine Clark. But we're also going to be benefiting from the leadership of Jim Clyburn at the leadership table.



REPRESENTATIVE PETE AGUILAR: And -- and Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer will be members of Congress.

So, we're going to continue to do what's right for the American public. That's -- that's our number one message.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're going to talk substance in a moment.

Stay with us. We have to pay the bills with this commercial break. One moment.



We want to continue our conversation with California Congressman Pete Aguilar.

I had to cut you off and I apologize for that. I want to pick up where we left off.

You are now finishing up this lame duck session before you move into this leadership role. We are seeing the focus really just being on keeping the government funded. As part of that, will you be able to put in the hundreds of millions of dollars that so many mayors are asking for to shore up border security in the next few weeks? You're from California. I saw a number of California mayors wrote this letter this past week.

REP. PETE AGUILAR, (D-CA): I'm not familiar with the letter. I'm a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Committee, though. I can tell you these are conversations that we continue to have with our Republican colleagues each and every year as part of the regular order of the appropriations process.

The number one goal is to fund government. And we're going to have to rely on reasonable Republicans to help us do that because so much is at stake.

Just in your segment earlier, Mike Turner talked about the Ukraine funding. And I appreciate his willingness to meet us and to talk about the importance of Ukraine funding. But there are so many Republicans who are tied to this MAGA extremism who are talking about putting conditions on Ukrainian aid. We can't have that. That's the reason why we have to have reasonable budgets. And an important point of why we have to have this time right now, we need to have government funding. And we look forward to working with Republicans to get that done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The specific respect is for $500 million for FEMA and $300 million for humanitarian assistance because of this concern about Title 42 lifting at the end of this month.

PETE AGUILAR: We need to do -

MARGARET BRENNAN: You don't know if that's going to be it (ph) or not?

PETE AGUILAR: We need to do everything we can to make sure that our border communities are taken care of. We had to do that previously. And we appreciate the administration and homeland security doing everything that they can to give humanitarian aids and grants to those communities to make sure that they could deal with - deal with those effects. It's important for us. There are so many ways that we can be helpful. And on the heels of the Trump administration separating children from parents, we appreciate the Biden administration coming in and being so thoughtful about how they do this.

But it's going to - it's going to be a process. And we look forward to working with our local government and state allies to do it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So -- also in a lame duck you are continuing to serve on this January 6th committee, which is coming to an end at the end of the month. Your colleague, Zoe Lofgren, was on this program a few weeks ago and she said, all the evidence for good or ill will be out within the month. When? How? When will we know when you've come to a conclusion?

PETE AGUILAR: Well, I'm not going to get in front of Zoe Lofgren if she wants to - to tell you that. But I can tell you that Chairman Bennie Thompson, Vice Chair Liz Cheney, we're all committed to the transparency of this process, to putting out a fulsome report that talks about the facts and circumstances about what happened on January 6th. And Zoe Lofgren also talked - has talked about it, and Adam Kinzinger has talked about, there are important things that we have learned along the way within January 6th that we feel should be shared to the American public.

And so we're going to do that. We're going to do it in a thoughtful way. Members are working each and every day, editing and looking at the documents that we will be putting out. In accordance with House rules, we are preserving the important documents and we're going to be transparent about this process. The American public will see a full report.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. Will the Justice Department get all the underlying documents? Merrick Garland said at a press release - at a press conference earlier in the week that they'd like to get ahold of your evidence?

PETE AGUILAR: We look forward to the Department of Justice and the American public seeing all of the work that we have done. And that includes transcripts and documents. There are --


PETE AGUILAR: Soon. Very soon, Margaret. I think in the next, you know, couple weeks. But clearly our - our committee ends on January 2nd. And so we're going to do this, this month, and put this information out.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you personally believe that at this point there is enough evidence to send a criminal referral to the Justice Department regarding the former president?

PETE AGUILAR: I'm not going to get ahead of what our report may or may not say. And I know you're asking personally --

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman Schiff and Cheney have said that.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You're not, sir?

PETE AGUILAR: Look, I think -- I think that the evidence is - is pretty clear. I think we laid out a case to the American public who is responsible, who is primarily responsible for whipping up that crowd, sending them to the Capitol, and people's lives being endangered and Capitol Police officers losing their lives. I think it's pretty clear, based on the evidence, based on the hearings that we've done, who was responsible.

But, right now, we're to the point, we have a couple weeks remaining here, and we're going to have more to say, the committee is going to have more to say on this, through our documents and through our public releases. So, I don't want to get ahead of that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The possibly incoming speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, has vowed to hold hearings about why the Capitol complex wasn't secure on January 6th. And he has faulted your committee for not focusing enough on this. How do you respond to that question of why there isn't more of a focus on security breakdowns?

PETE AGUILAR: If and when that individual becomes the possible speaker and can count the votes to get there, I have my - I have my doubts. Look, we stand willing for anybody to stand the test of time and to look at the history of the documents of what we've put forward.

But we are talking about security. We are talking about what happened that day. I think that what's happening is Kevin McCarthy has to do anything he can to appease the MAGA extremists within his party. He's trying to count to 218. If that means sending subpoenas to the committee members, if that means being tough to committee members, that's what he has to do right now because he's practically auctioning off real estate in the Capitol in order to secure the votes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, he is also one of the people that your committee has asked to come speak and share information. Has -- he has refused to do so. Jim Jordan also potentially in a leadership role has refused to do so.

What consequences do you think there should be? Should there be criminal referrals? I don't even know if you can do that, can you?

PETE AGUILAR: No, that's not our -- that's not our intent. What we wanted to lay out to the American public is that those individuals, Jim Jordan and Kevin McCarthy, are fact witnesses to the events that happened. They talked to the president multiple times on that day. There's information that they can share. There's information that they shared on national TV and to their own colleagues in that moment. The fact that they don't want to share it to us so we can put together a fulsome report just shows that they aren't unbiased. And so that's why there's a little smirk when you asked me about Kevin McCarthy and January 6th because he's someone who hasn't been completely honest about what he knows and what happened that day.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman, congratulations on the historic achievement. I know you said it means a lot for your family and for people back home. And I do want to acknowledge being the first is a big deal.

PETE AGUILAR: Thank you so much. I appreciate it, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you very much for joining us.

We'll be right back with former Attorney General Eric Holder.

So, stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to former Attorney General Eric Holder. He now heads up the National Democratic Redistricting Committee and he has a book, "Our Unfinished March," which examines the current state of America's democracy.

Welcome back to the program.

ERIC HOLDER, (Former Attorney General): It's good to see you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I have a number of things I want to get to with you, but I want to start on something I know is immediate this week. An organization that you run, that we mentioned here, that focuses on redistricting, is involved in a Supreme Court case. Moore versus Harper. It's going to be heard on the 7th of this week. And it boils down, as I understand it, to the question of what the Constitution means when it assigns state legislatures the task of regulating elections. That sounds really wonky, but you phrased it as the future of democracy being at stake. What are you worried is actually going to happen here?

ERIC HOLDER: Yes, this case is all about something called the independent state legislature doctrine. It's a - it's a fringe theory that North Carolina Republicans are trying to use to make sure that the North Carolina Republican legislature has the sole responsibility of doing redistricting in the state and excluding from that determination the state court system.

It is something that if the Supreme Court goes along with it, would really up-end our system of checks and balances, and it, for that reason, that I am extremely concerned. It is a fringe theory. This is something that if the court, I think, does the right thing, you should have a 9-0 opinion by the court that rejects this notion of this independent state legislature doctrine that has been rejected by conservative scholars, by practice Republican lawyers, by former Republican judges and by this conference of state Supreme Court justices as well. This is a very, very dangerous theory that would put our system of checks and balances at risk.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, there are a number of Democratic senators who actually filed a brief urging the Supreme Court not even to hear the case. So, there are some heavy hitters here saying, don't even talk about it. What does that tell you about the potential harm here? I mean is there value in the Supreme Court hearing this and striking it down, or does them hearing it at all indicate something more to you?

ERIC HOLDER: Yes, it's hard for me to see how this case was ever taken by the court. I think the better thing would have been for the court to simply have rejected it. But now, having taken the case, I would hope that the court would drive a stake through this notion of this independent state legislature doctrine and get it off the - off the books and out of our consideration once and for all. It truly is -- I cannot emphasize this enough, that it truly is a fridge theory that should result in a 9-0 rejection of the - of the theory.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, we mentioned you're working on redistricting. Democrats are suing to overturn congressional maps in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas. I read a quote from you in "The Washington Post" that said the work you've been doing on redistricting has paid off in the most recent midterms. Do you think that your legal battles will help Democrats make gains in 2024? What are you trying to say there?

ERIC HOLDER: Yes, I think that what we have seen, there have been studies that said that we have had the most fair redistricting process in the last 40 years as a result of the work that we have done. Seventy-five percent of the redistricting is considered to be fair, which also means that 25 percent of it is unfair. And that is still problematic.

I think, for instance, the House of Representatives is going to be in play for the entirety of this decade. Very contrary to where it was it the past decade where after the successful Republican gerrymandering that occurred in 2011 and in 2012. But it was really difficult for Democrats to take the House back.

I think Democrats would be able to take the House back as early as 2024, but it doesn't insure -- what we have done doesn't ensure that Democrats are going to hold onto the House for the entirety of the decade. It will be for the American people to decide. Fairness will reign in that determination.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When you were last on this program in May, you shared at the time that you had changed your mind recently, that you did believe that the Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland should hold former President Trump accountable for his actions. You previously thought it would be too divisive for the country.

Now, where we are with this special counsel, what is your assessment and how should Merrick Garland, who has to ultimately decide, weigh the question of a risk to political violence in this country from any decision he makes regarding the former president?

ERIC HOLDER: Well, I think the attorney general has said it quite well, that he'll make the determination without fear or favor. There is -- everybody has to be held accountable to the same system. The determination that he's going to have to make will have to be based on the facts and the law. And we'll just have to deal with the consequences.

The reality is that if he makes a determination one way or the other, it is going to be divisive. And so the best thing simply is to make sure that everybody who is under consideration for possible criminal treatment, including the former president, is treated just like every other American. And that's what that opinion out of the circuit court this week essentially said, that you can't craft things, as a district court judge, you can't craft things for a former president that doesn't exist for regular American citizens. Treat everybody in the same way, make the determination based on the facts and the law. And the United States, I think, has the capacity to absorb a possible indictment and to deal with it fairly and to get on with the business of - of the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As someone who's been an attorney general, I wonder as well how you think about the case before the U.S. district attorney in Delaware regarding President Biden's son Hunter. CBS has reported the FBI has sufficient evidence to charge him with tax and gun-related crimes. How would you handle this? A plea deal? Is the attorney general boxed in to take a hardline decision because of working for the president?

ERIC HOLDER: No. I mean you have -- they left in place the Republican -- the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in Delaware to consider the case. You've got career lawyers working on it, career FBI agents. You want to listen to their recommendations. And then again, make a determination base on the facts and the law. The defendant should not be treated any more harshly because of who he is, who he is related to, should not be given breaks because of who he is or who he is related to. He should be treated as former President Trump. Should be treated just like any other American citizen. If there's culpability, that person should be held liable for his or her acts. And if there is not a basis for a case, a case should not be brought.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it will ultimately come to the attorney general's desk?

ERIC HOLDER: That's certainly the way I would run the Justice Department. And my guess is also that that would be something that Merrick Garland will be doing as well. That determination will be made, I suspect, in Washington, D.C.


General Holder, thank you very much for your time today.

And we'll be right back with much more FACE THE NATION.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the economy and the mixed signals about its future.

Brian Moynihan is the CEO and chairman of the board of Bank of America.

And it's good to see you back here in person.

BRIAN MOYNIHAN, (CEO and Chairman of the Board, Bank of America): It's good to be back here. It's been a couple years. Last time was right when the pandemic started.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know. I know. And I remember what a chilling moment that was and yet we are still living through the implications of that pandemic.

Your firm is predicting a recession in 2023, but a brief and a mild one. I wonder when it hits, and what a mild recession feels like for the average American.

BRIAN MOYNIHAN: Well, just to sort of be concrete on numbers, they basically picked negative growth around 1 percent or so for the next -- for the first three quarters of '23, and then it comes back to positive growth. That means the year is negative overall. But -- but it's just 1 percent. So, you think about a recession, we were sitting here, we went down 30 percent that next quarter and stuff.


BRIAN MOYNIHAN: So this is a more mild recession, largely because down the line activity is still strong. And that's the tension and the Fed trying to cool down inflation, while at the same time not drive the economy into a deep recession.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But when people hear recession, it - it affects their planning for the future. It affects their feeling of security in the jobs they have. I mean just this past week we saw a string of job cuts being announced at tech companies, at media companies. Is this the beginning of a wave?

BRIAN MOYNIHAN: Well, this is -- this is what happens. And when you - when you raise interest rates, you know, the Fed is trying to slow down economic activity. And where does it slow down first? The most rate sensitive. Houses. Housing's tipped over. You know, cars. Prices go up. Although sales have stayed strong on new cars because they weren't there and they just have become available. But used car prices have tipped back down. So they're -- the most rate sensitive are affected by it.

What takes longer to happen is the final demand for entertainment, for hotels, for travel is still very strong. And so if you look at spending and our customers, the month of November was about 5 percent over last year. If you go back and think early in the year it was running 10 percent, 12 percent. So, what's happened is consumers are slowing down their spending. They still have money in their accounts. It's starting to come down a little bit. They still have borrowing capacity, but they've started to use it.

So, all that means that the Fed rate hikes are slowing down the economy. The question is, when will inflation tip down and then they can back off. And that's the (INAUDIBLE). So we've gone from what's temporary - with inflation, temporary, which was last year's discussion, to it's real. Now the question is, how long will they have to hold rates here? How long will they have to hold rates at this level to keep the economy - to get inflation down without hopefully hurting the economy? And that's the debate we're going through right now.

But you're seeing the signs in terms of job openings declining a little bit. You're seeing the signs of turnover slowing down at companies. And while those may not be good signs for the individual involved, it's actually good signs for the economy in terms of it starting to get into a better situation that it can grow at a more normalized rate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You - you're fairly characterizing all the different pieces here, but you do sound more optimistic than many of your peers, even those who are predicting a recession, like JP Morgan. They famously -- their strategist said a category one economic hurricane is on the horizon.

What would move you from mild to gale force winds? I mean how - how do we - - what changes things along the way?

BRIAN MOYNIHAN: Well, the belief was when the Fed started raising rates that there would be an immediate snap to the economy. The - the thing that didn't happen. Those predictions were from the, you know, spring of this year, in '22. What didn't happen because the consumers remained strong and the amount of stimulus (INAUDIBLE) in the economy was so high, it didn't happen the way people thought. Unemployment is still 3.7.


BRIAN MOYNIHAN: They just had 200,000 jobs. So how could you have an unemployment-less recession? That's almost hard to posture, right? So, all the math and science that people looked at for years has kind of gotten thrown straight because a massive stimulus went in.

So, if you looked where -- all of the guests you had on this morning talked about parades of horribles, the Russia/Ukraine situation, what's going on in China. Those things all would change the basic outlook. But if they just stay - right now it's kind of (INAUDIBLE) they stay sort of status quo and it doesn't solve but it doesn't get worse.


BRIAN MOYNIHAN: Oil prices stay around $100 a barrel more or less. They were there for five years, between 2010 and 2015. So none of that kills the economy (ph) on its own. But all those things going in a very wrong direction, you'd see a massive change in the economic activity.

And that's what -- that's what people are trying to hamstring. In the base projections most people have, the Wall Street firms and stuff, it's all pretty similar. So, a shallow recession with a recovery later. Rates stay a lot, a lot higher than people think for a longer period of time, meaning all the way into the end of '24 because inflation is harder to choke off because there's such underlying cash in the system.


BRIAN MOYNIHAN: And that - that's what nobody's ever dealt with.

Now, where does that cash come from? The government gave out a lot of stimulus.


BRIAN MOYNIHAN: The problem is, the government's running high deficits. And that's why, when you talked earlier about det ceilings, those are important things to not have create problems in the economy. And I think all business people --

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's one of your worries for - for 2023?

BRIAN MOYNIHAN: Yes. All - all business people don't like surprises and we'd like to make sure that we got through a normal budget process and a normal, you know, debt ceiling process and -

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you're not confident about that because of --

BRIAN MOYNIHAN: Well, I just -- I've been CEO for 13 years now and I've had some interesting times on this, but generally it works out.


BRIAN MOYNIHAN: And I have confidence that people come to the table, there will be a lot of discussion. You talked about it with some of your guests. But ultimately it has to get there because ultimately we have to run this great country because it's got 300 million people that the world depend on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, the economy and the market not the same thing but the political - you know, the adage was that political gridlock is good for the markets. That's the way it used to be. I wonder if the environment's different now. Your strategist also said they're bearish. They worry unemployment in 2023 will be as shocking to main street consumer sentiment as inflation was in 2022.

So, how do you recommend to clients they protect themselves if we're going to see the markets possibly take a downturn?

BRIAN MOYNIHAN: Well, and that's - so, unemployment -- our team would predict it gets up - back up to 5 percent. That's say a percent and a half from where we are now. That is 150 million odd workers. So, that is - but that's where it was, you know, two years before, you know, '17, '18. So, '17, '16. So, we didn't feel horrible then. The question is, it's just a change. Will people lose their jobs? And that's a horrible thing to contemplate. And that's what they're worried about. The compounding effect of the worry about having a job versus actually losing your job changes consumer behavior, and we're seeing that go on a little bit right now and that's -- the Fed has to create that sort of nervousness to help tip the inflation back down.

Wage growth is strong, which is a good thing, but also strong means they have to slow it down to match the -


BRIAN MOYNIHAN: Otherwise, we're going to have a wage inflation spiral. So, all that - all that comes together.

So, as you think about it, think about next year as really important to see the mitigating impact of these things. The employment market gets less tight - is already less tight, continues to get less tight, therefore, wage growth slows down. Therefore, inflation will slow down. If that doesn't happen, then the Fed is going to have to go a lot higher. There's economists that think they should. But if they get it there, they can hold it there and let the system catch up to it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why are savings yields so much lower than where the inflation rate is? Why aren't people making more money on their savings accounts?

BRIAN MOYNIHAN: There's a lag effect to the change of rates and prices in everything. And what - and so what they'll do is they keep coming up and each month you'll see them come up as people pay higher rates to retain the funds.

The big difference between the last time we went through a rate tightening cycle and now is the amount of cash in the system is so high that companies have a lot of liquidity - banks have a lot of liquidity. They're well capitalized. They're very strong. And if that's -- even going back to our discussion in March of '20, the difference, the banks are very strong. They helped the clients through it. They didn't cause any problems. They're very strong.

So, what's going to happen is, they're going to be more conservative to recovery to 15 years, a low rate environment where they underearn.


BRIAN MOYNIHAN: They're recovering. But ultimately they'll come to - come to reach more equilibrium

MARGARET BRENNAN: Brian Moynihan, thank you for your time today.

We'll have more on the economy and the forecast for 2023 next week with Jamie Dimon, the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase.

We'll be back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: If you can't watch the full FACE THE NATION, you can set your DVR. Plus you can watch through our CBS or Paramount Plus app.

Thank you all for watching. We'll be right here next Sunday. For FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.