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Face the Nation March 26, 2017 transcript: Cotton, Schiff, Gowdy

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: The president discovers that governing is a lot tougher than campaigning.

It was a make-or-break week for President Trump’s signature campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, so he hit the campaign trail running.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is our long- awaited chance to finally get rid of Obamacare.


DICKERSON: But, soon, he was slowed by Washington quicksand, negotiating behind closed doors with House Republicans who didn’t like his legislation.

In the end, the closer was unable to close the deal with members of his own party.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I will not sugarcoat this. This is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard.


DICKERSON: President Trump took defeat as a chance to rewrite history, backing away from the push he just lost.


TRUMP: I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days.


DICKERSON: And sounded a defiant note.


TRUMP: The best thing we can do, politically speaking, is let Obamacare explode. It is exploding right now.


DICKERSON: But it is not the only thing exploding. New revelations in the investigation into whether or not Trump campaign officials colluded with the Russians to influence the election sparked a partisan brawl in the House.

FBI Director Comey confirmed what Washington has been talking about for weeks, that the FBI is looking into those ties and said flat out there was no evidence to support President Trump’s claim that President Obama had wiretapped him.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: The FBI and the Department of Justice have no information to support those tweets.


DICKERSON: House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes did find new information relevant to the investigation.


REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: On numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.

QUESTION: Was the president also part of that incidental collection, his communications?



DICKERSON: We will ask the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, why the chairman’s revelation threatens to undermine the House investigation.

Schiff’s Republican Intelligence Committee colleague Trey Gowdy responds.

Conservative senator Tom cotton who warned his House colleagues not to walk the plank and vote for a bad health care bill will also be here.

Plus, we will have an interview with Ronald Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz, who has some advice for President Trump.


GEORGE SHULTZ, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Trust is the coin of the realm.


DICKERSON: And we will cover the rest of the week’s events with our political panel, including the bright spot for the president. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch appears to be coasting to confirmation, despite a filibuster threat from Democrats.


NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I have a canon of ethics that precludes me from getting involved in any way, shape or form in politics.


DICKERSON: If true to his word, he will be the only one in partisan Washington who does.

It is all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I am John Dickerson.

The behind-the-scenes blame game is in full swing here in Washington after the Obamacare repeal’s failure. The president immediately blamed the Democrats. But it was his own party, largely a coalition of House conservatives known as the Freedom Caucus, who refused to support the bill.

We begin with Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who was a vocal critic of the bill.

Senator, welcome.

In “The Washington Examiner,” Philip Klein writes, where the headline to his piece is “GOP cave on Obamacare Repeal is the biggest broken promise in political history.”

What is your reaction to that judgment?

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Well, John, first, let’s say the president is right that the Democrats gave us Obamacare, and the failure of the bill this week doesn’t solve the problems of Obamacare.

It is continuing to get worse. And our health care system is groaning under the weight of Obamacare. So we have to revisit it. We now have the time to do it in a more deliberate and careful fashion, but ultimately I don’t think you can lay the defeat of this bill last week on any single faction in the House of Representatives.

Some conservatives opposed it. Some moderates opposed it. Even chairmen of powerful committees opposed it. I just think the problem was with first the bill and tent process. Health care is a very complicated issue. To release a bill that was written in secret and then expect to pass it in 18 days, I just don’t think it’s feasible.

DICKERSON: So, you said written in secret. Well, that is on Paul Ryan then. He controls that process.

So, are you saying basically that the House leaders, the House speaker did it, and the process was poorly handled?

COTTON: I think you can’t expect to try to solve a problem that addresses one-sixth of the country’s economy and touches every American in a very personal and intimate way in 18 days.

When the Democrats came to power in 2009, for 60 years, at least, they had been pursuing a national health care system, yet they didn’t introduce legislation for eight months. They didn’t pass it for over a year of Barack Obama’s first term. So it went through very public hearings and took testimony, developed a fact-based foundation of knowledge.

President Obama traveled around the country, hell town halls. He spoke to a joint session of Congress. I am not saying that we needed 14 months to do this, but I think a more careful and deliberate approach, which we now have time to do, because we are going to have to revisit health care anyway, would have gotten us further down the path towards a solution.

I believe that both conservatives and moderates in the House made a lot of concessions already. And I have friends like Jim Jordan in the Freedom Caucus and Charlie Dent in the Tuesday Group. And I know that they are both good men. They want to work together. They want to try to find a solution that both they and everyone in between can agree to. With time, I think we can do that.

DICKERSON: So, your judgment, just so nobody mistakes, your message is that the House rushed it?

COTTON: I think the House moved a bit too fast; 18 days is simply not enough time for such major landmark legislation.

DICKERSON: The president this morning, though, is actually pointing fingers at the Freedom Caucus.

He says -- quote -- “Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of the Club for Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood and Obamacare. “

What do you think about that?

COTTON: Again, you know, it wasn’t just conservatives in the House.

In fact, I think more non-conservatives than conservatives opposed it. And when you lose the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful positions, the problem really is not with a specific faction in the House. I think it is with the bill.

DICKERSON: Let me get your experience from that town hall that everybody saw. There was a woman who stood up and said that she would be dead were it not for Obamacare.

The president has said that he is going to wait for Obamacare to explode and collapse, and then it will get fixed. How would that go over with that woman at that town hall or the other people?

COTTON: Well, I think the president is simply stating a fact, that Obamacare continues to get worse. Premiums continue to go up every year when you get to new open enrollment system.

Many counties across the country have only one insurer, which means an insurance has a monopoly over your care. Now, what can happen in the short term, while the Congress is continuing to deliberate about health care, is what was being called phase two. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price can undertake regulations designed to lift some of the worst harms of Obamacare and try to give some people relief.

Later this year, we have must-pass health care legislation that is coming up, the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It is very important to a lot of Democrats. By that point, I hope that we can reach some kind of consensus where we can try to do away with the worst problems of Obamacare that can only be addressed by legislation.

DICKERSON: Here is what I wonder about, is the people at the end of these policies and that you dealt with in those town halls, is when they hear the president say, I am going to let it collapse, and then the Democrats will beg me to fix it.

When people who are out there nervous about this who have Obamacare, who don’t have Obamacare, people who are straight-up nervous, isn’t that a nervous-making thing to hear?

COTTON: Well, as I said to all my town halls, say, any time Obamacare comes up as topic in Arkansas, I know that some people were helped by Obamacare. There’s no doubt about that.

But many more were hurt by it. And those are the people who we need to keep in mind when we are trying to solve the problems for people who have benefited from Obamacare, without causing -- putting, imposing all of the costs that Obamacare did.

And the president is simply stating a fact, that the entire health care system is growing under the weight of Obamacare. We don’t have a choice to revisit or not revisit it. We have to revisit it.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you finally about Mosul. There are reports that 200 civilians have been killed as a result of a bombing in Mosul, perhaps from an American air mission there.

Is this a result of the loosening of rules of engagement? And how should people think about this?

COTTON: Very sad development. Obviously, the Department of Defense is investigating. I don’t believe this is a result of any kind of loosening of rules of engagement.

Rather, I think it is simply the facts on the ground. For much of the last part of last year, the fighting was in East Mosul, which is a much smaller, less densely populated area. Now the fighting is in West Mosul, which is a more densely populated area. Ultimately, though, the blame lays with the Islamic State. They are the savages that are fighting from civilian locations, like apartment buildings, homes, mosques, hospitals, schools and so forth. The blame does not lay with coalition pilots or with Iraqi forces.

An investigation will occur, but ultimately it is the terrorists who are using civilians to shield that are responsible for those deaths.

DICKERSON: All right, Senator Cotton, thanks so much for being with us.

COTTON: Thanks, John.

DICKERSON: For more on the investigation into possible ties between Trump campaign officials and Russia, we are joined now by the top Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee, California Representative Adam Schiff. He’s in Palo Alto.

Congressman, I want to start with something Chairman Nunes of the committee said. He suggested that some private citizens had been unmasked as a part of a surveillance effort. If, in fact, that were true, that would be a big deal, wouldn’t it?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, it all depends.

There are perfectly appropriate circumstances to unmask the names of people. In fact, that is done quite often. And the standard is whether the unmasking of those names is necessary to determine the significance of the intelligence.

So, unmasking is not at all unusual. The question is, was it done appropriately? And here, the problem, John, is that none of us have seen what the chairman is talking about. This evidence was taken apparently directly to the White House, which creates another issue, because, of course, it is associates involved in the Trump campaign who are in part the subject of what we are investigating.

That is the bigger problem, I think, than the chairman’s claim. Certainly, we want to oversee the minimization processes, make sure they are operating correctly, but we can’t have a credible investigation if one of the members, indeed, the chairman, takes only information he has seen to the White House and doesn’t share it with his own committee.

DICKERSON: And so he has not shared that with you, including his claim that the president himself, when he was a candidate, was caught in the surveillance; is that right?

SCHIFF: Yes. He hasn’t shared with me. And, to my knowledge -- and you can check with my colleague Mr. Gowdy -- I don’t think he has shared it with anyone on the committee.

So we are all quite in the dark on this. And we, I think, suffered really two serious blows to the integrity of the investigation this week, one, with that unilateral trip to the White House, but the other with a cancellation of an open hearing that was scheduled for Tuesday with Directors Clapper, Brennan and Sally Yates, the deputy -- former deputy attorney general.

I think her testimony in particular would have shed a lot of light for the public on the whole Michael Flynn chapter. And perhaps that is something the White House didn’t want to see. I can’t otherwise account for why we would have this abrupt cancellation of a hearing that both the chair and I had committed to doing.

DICKERSON: Well, the chairman’s argument is that the cancellation of that hearing was necessary because he wanted to have other closed-door testimony beforehand before having that next hearing. That seems like a reasonable idea.

SCHIFF: You know, it certainly would be reasonable, if that were the justification.

But, of course, the one doesn’t preclude the other. We welcome the return of any of the witnesses in closed session. But their testimony doesn’t necessarily preclude us doing an open hearing that we had already agreed with, the witnesses were prepared to do, they were more than willing to do.

So, I really don’t think that is the justification. Indeed, we got word that they were trying to close the open hearing even before they suggested an alternate hearing.

DICKERSON: You suggested in a tweet that the chairman was trying to -- quote -- “choke off public information.” What evidence did you have for that?

SCHIFF: Well, I think that the hearing that we had on Monday, where the director of the FBI testified for the first time that there is an ongoing investigation of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, as well as the disclosure by the director that there was no factual basis for the president’s accusation of wiretapping by his predecessor, I think that hearing went so poorly for the White House, that there was a lot of pushback in doing a second open hearing, honestly, John, because the other explanations simply don’t make sense.

We could always have Directors Comey and Rogers come back at any time. There is no necessity of having them come back before the open hearing. I think that was merely an effort to camouflage the true object here, which was the closure or the cancellation of the hearing with Sally Yates.


SCHIFF: But let me just make a -- yes.

DICKERSON: Well, I just want to interrupt briefly, Congressman, because basically what it sounds like you are saying is that the chairman of the committee is a tool of the White House he is investigating.

And if you are saying that, how can this committee get its work done?

SCHIFF: Well, look, I think the chairman has to make a decision, whether to act as a surrogate of the White House, as he did during the campaign and the transition, or to lead an independent and credible investigation.

I hope he chooses the latter. The country really needs to have an independent, credible investigation in the House. And we had that up until and through Monday. Where I think that the House process went off the rails was with that -- that venture by the chairman to the White House.

You simply can’t run a credible investigation that way. I am going to do everything I can to get this back on track. And I implore our chairman and the speaker to rededicate themselves to a serious and bipartisan investigation.

We know that Russia was involved in hacking our democracy. We know that the evidence or information is sufficient to warrant an FBI investigation of this. We are trying to do as much of this as we can in the public eye transparently. Obviously, some of it will have to be done in closed session.

But it really demands both parties work together on this. We made every effort to do so, but we need the chairman to decide that is what his object is as well.

DICKERSON: Congressman, there has been a report from CNN that -- Wednesday night that they -- that the FBI was looking into collusion with the Russians in the Trump campaign in terms of spreading information about Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Do you have any information to back that up?

SCHIFF: I am not sure that I can comment on that.

I can say that I think that the investigation that the director talked about at our Monday hearing is justified. I think there is a sufficient basis for that investigation, not to only have been indicated, but for it to continue at this point. And I think that we owe it to the country to do this in a credible way.

I would make one final point, John. And that is, I do think the events of this week call out the need for an independent commission, quite separate and apart from what we do in Congress. There are enough questions that have now been called, that have been raised, where I think the establishment of that commission would give the country a lot of confidence that at least one body was doing this in a way that was completely removed from any political considerations.

DICKERSON: And quickly, Congressman, you have said that there is circumstantial evidence of this connection, but then you said you can’t talk about it.

Isn’t that just what you are complaining about with the chairman of the committee, that he says there are things, but isn’t showing the evidence?

SCHIFF: No, my complaint with the chairman is taking whatever information he has to the White House, when the White House is the subject in a way of the investigation.

I wouldn’t have any problem with the chairman saying that he is concerned about whether minimization procedures are being followed. And I don’t have a concern with other members characterizing the evidence as they have. And many of them have said they think there is no evidence of collusion.

My disagreement with those members is, I don’t think that is accurate, and I feel an obligation to say so.

DICKERSON: All right, Congressman, thanks so much for being with us

And we will be back in a minute with a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, Trey Gowdy.


DICKERSON: Joining us now is South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy. He chaired the Special Committee on Benghazi, so he is no stranger into challenges of running into partisan politics when trying to do an investigation.

He joins us from Greenville.

Congressman, I want to start with this question of unmasking that Chairman Nunes has brought out. Has he shown you any of what caused him to suggest that Obama officials doing surveillance captured some Trump campaign associates and then unmasked them in the process of investigating?

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He has not shown it to me, John.

I am vaguely familiar with it, no more, no less familiar with it than Adam Schiff is. I will just tell you this. My understanding is, Chairman Nunes briefed the commander in chief on matters unrelated to the Russian investigation. So, if that is big deal in Washington, then we have sunk to a new low.

DICKERSON: Well, I guess Congressman Schiff would say, but the president is the one that is a part of this investigation being done by the committee, so the chairman shouldn’t be talking to him.

GOWDY: Well, then, let me repeat what I said. The chairman of House intel briefed the commander in chief on something that has nothing to do with the Russia investigation.

So if the commander in chief cannot be briefed by the chairperson of the House Intel Committee on a matter that has nothing to do with the FBI investigation, then I don’t know what they can talk about, John.

DICKERSON: All right. So, here is what...

GOWDY: He is the commander in chief.

DICKERSON: So if this is an issue outside of the one they are investigating at the moment in the committee and that you are investigating, should it then be taken out of this investigation, have a separate investigation on both the issues that Chairman Nunes has discovered this week, and then also the one you are quite concerned about, which is the leaks that have been in the paper, some of them potentially illegal, get that out of this question of Russia to keep things from getting mixed the way they appear to have?

GOWDY: Well, they are separate.

And I heard my friend from California mention an independent commission. Thank goodness we have one. It is called the FBI. The FBI has counterintelligence jurisdiction and they have criminal jurisdiction, and what we learned on Monday, and it is about the only thing we learned on Monday, was that the FBI’s investigating both.

They are the world’s premier law enforcement agency. They are independent. You have women and men at the Department of Justice who have dedicated their careers to the blind pursuit of justice. It doesn’t get any more independent than that.

So we have an independent entity investigating counterintelligence and allegations of potential criminality. Let Congress do its job, which is provide oversight over the intelligence community.

DICKERSON: Do you have any sense from the chairman about the schedule of when this new information that we have been talking about here, this question of unmasking, when you might have enough information to make a judgment about whether this is, in fact, something that was done improperly or whether, as Congressman Schiff said, this is just the normal procedures for going through unmasking?

GOWDY: It is just one more reason to bring Director Comey and Admiral Rogers back on Tuesday.

It is incredibly important. Adam is right. Adam is right that the incidental collection of U.S. persons happens. What I wish some of my friend on the other side would be a little more outraged about is the political use of that unmasking.

So I understand we collect U.S. citizens, but we don’t read about those U.S. citizens on the front page of “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post.” That, in addition to threatening the surveillance programs, is also a felony.

So I hope that we learn more about that on Tuesday. All of this is important, John, every bit of it. Russia is not our friend. They attacked our democracy. I want to investigate every fact that is related thereto. But the felonious dissemination of classified information is the only thing we know for sure is a crime, and it would be nice if we showed the same level of interest in that.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you. You chaired a committee that got a lot of attention in the papers. What is your sense of the health of this committee? We have seen dueling press conferences. There has been a lot of accusations and passive aggression here. How healthy is this committee?

GOWDY: I think it is fine.

I actually think Chairman Nunes and Ranking Member Schiff are both good men, and I they get along fine. I think what you learned Monday, because I heard the witnesses almost 100 times, John, say they could not answer the question in that setting.

And I want you and your viewers to ask themselves, why are we satisfied with every other facet of culture having serious investigations done confidentially, the grand jury, judges meeting with attorneys, police officers interviewing suspects, all of that is done confidentially, and we are more than satisfied with those investigations.

And yet, when it comes to Congress, we think we ought to have a public hearing -- 100 times, those two witnesses said they could not answer the question in that setting. Why in the hell would we go back to that setting if the witnesses can’t answer the questions?

DICKERSON: All right.

Congressman Gowdy, we are going to give you the last word there. Thanks so much for being with us.

GOWDY: Yes, sir. Thank you.

DICKERSON: And we will be back in a moment with some thoughts on the president and the presidency. Stay with us.


DICKERSON: President Trump said President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

This week, the FBI director said there was no evidence of that. This wasn’t just a fact-check. It highlighted how lightly President Trump treats the presidency.

We have presidents and we have an office of the presidency. Opponents respect the office, even if they disagree with the occupant. Presidents are criticized, but the presidency is behind protective glass.

That’s why a president can come into office attacking his predecessor’s policies, but later celebrate the dedication of his predecessor’s presidential library. It is why George W. Bush prepared a smooth transition for Barack Obama, and why President Obama did the same for Donald Trump.

Once on the job, a president also gains respect for the presidency because they learn, as President Trump did this week, that the job is harder than it appeared from the campaign trail.

The historical continuity of the presidency is an heirloom and a tool. Presidents gain stature by hugging those who came before them. Donald Trump visited Andrew Jackson’s grave and compared himself to the seventh president, who also spooked elites.

These perks and protections are why presidents honor the presidency.

“I shall keep steadily in view the limitations of my office,” said Andrew Jackson. Break the limits, and you break the office.

Nevertheless, President Trump compared his predecessor to Nixon and McCarthy, called him sick and bad.

To break glass like that, a president must have a good reason and proof. President Trump had no evidence and no higher purpose.

Tending the presidency is important for a disruptive president like Donald Trump, because it shows people he knows the line between renovating the office and demolishing it. You measure twice, and cut once. You don’t cut without measuring at all.

Back in a moment.


DICKERSON: Some of our CBS stations are leaving us now, but, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including and interview with former Secretary of State George Shultz, plus our political panel.

Stay with us.


DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. I’m John Dickerson.

We sat down with Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, George Shultz, last week. He told us that the Trump presidency so far has been up and down. Among the ups, he praised several of Mr. Trump’s cabinet picks, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis, his colleague at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. And as for not so up, the early defeat of the president’s travel ban.


DICKERSON: What would you say are the down parts of the -- of the administration so far?

SHULTZ: Well, obviously, when you roll out a big initiative and it blows up, that’s a downer. I think it’s important for a president to get off to a start where people see he says what he means, he means what he says and he can carry out what he starts out to carry out.

DICKERSON: You said that your advice to President Trump was that he not let the White House dominate anything. What does that mean?

SHULTZ: That has become a tendency to put decision making and even operational things in the White House. The White House staff has grown a lot. The NSE staff has grown a lot, with a result that that’s a dominant place. So I would hope the president might say something like this. I consider my cabinet and sub cabinet people to be my staff. Those are the people I’m going to work with to develop policy. And they are the ones who are going to execute it under my supervision. But they’re going to execute it. When you do that, you get good people, you get all people who have been confirmed by the Senate, and you get better policy and you get better execution.

DICKERSON: What are the upsides of having been in business and coming to Washington and then what are the ways in which Washington doesn’t work the same way, since we’ve got a -- a businessman as president now?

SHULTZ: Mr. Tillerson called me up. I don’t know him. And I said, I hear you’re being knocked for being a businessman. I said, I was a businessman and let me tell you, you have two big advantages. Number one, you have known how to run a big organization, so you realize it’s not about me, it’s about the organization, getting the organization rolling so that it does things. See, as head of Exxon, you didn’t want to run a refinery, but you wanted to be damn sure you had people in the company that did know how to do it. By the same token, in the State Department, you’ve got people stationed all over the world. So a big part of your job is to see to it that that organization works. And it’s not that difficult, but you can do it. You know how to do that.

And the second thing that’s happened here as a businessman is you built places and you have to hire people and fire people and buy things and sell things and get your money out and all kinds of things like that. That’s kind of the way the country really works.

DICKERSON: But what advice did you give Secretary of State Tillerson?

SHULTZ: Well, I think the secretary of state has to establish two things. One, that he’s close to the president and that he speaks for the president. And being close to the president, listens to him. So together they formulate the policy. The second thing, of course, is to let it be clear that he has really got his department working with him in the way that he wants. And he can do that.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about honesty in public office. President Trump made a claim that his predecessor, President Obama, wiretapped his Trump Tower and now the director of the FBI has said he has no evidence of -- of that. What cost is that for a president, to say something that doesn’t turn out to have evidence behind it?

SHULTZ: Well, he’s got to figure out a way not -- to get out of it. To say, OK, I made a mistake, and go on from there because you’ve got to establish an atmosphere of trust. Trust is the coin of the realm. And you need to do that with other leaders, or people you’re going to deal with, including your adversaries. When I go back to my days in the Marine Corps boot camp at the start of World War II, sergeant handed me my rifle. He says, take good care of this rifle. This is your best friend. And remember one thing, never point this rifle at anybody unless you’re willing to pull the trigger. No empty threats. And you can extrapolate that and say, mean what you say, and carry out what you say you’re going to carry out, then people will trust you and they can deal with you because they know if you say you’ll -- I’ll do something, you’ll do something, that you’ll do what you said you were going to do. If I can’t trust you, I can’t deal. But if I trust you, then I can deal. And so trust is the coin of the realm. A very important point.

DICKERSON: Some people heard President Trump’s inaugural address and some of the things he said and they feel like his version of nationalism is pulling America back a little from its foreign commitments. He argues, the president does, that America has been extended too far overseas and has lost focus on what’s happening at home. Do you share that view?

SHULTZ: Well, there’s -- you’re going to extend yourself too far and we’ve made some mistakes, but I think that we have a major role in the world. If we’re not there, there’s no leadership. Think about it. At the end of World War II, some gifted people with names like Atchison (ph) and Marshal and Truman looked back, what did they see? They saw two world wars, they saw the Holocaust, they saw the Great Depression and they said to themselves, what a crummy world. And we’re a part of it whether we like it or not.

Then comes the Cold War. The Doctrine of Containment comes forward. NATO comes forward. This is all U.S. leadership, but not domination. And by the time the Cold War was over, I think you could say there was in the world a secure and economic commons from which everybody benefited.

Unfortunately, that has fallen apart. In part because we have withdrawn. Russia can’t take our place. China can’t take our place. Only the United States can do it. And it doesn’t mean you go around telling people what to do. I think to some extent our Afghanistan and Iraqi experience would teach us something about that. But you go around the world trying to make life better, because a healthy world is to our advantage.

DICKERSON: What do Americas allies need to hear right now?

SHULTZ: Well, they need to hear that we’re -- we’re -- we’re in the alliance full bore. And they have been hearing that, I think.

DICKERSON: Last question. You wrote a book, I believe it was called “Things on My Mind.”

SHULTZ: Learning from experience.

DICKERSON: What else is on your mind these days?

SHULTZ: Well, I have five great grandchildren, and I watch them. They don’t walk anywhere, they run. They’re curious about everything. And they’re so much fun. There’s so much life in them. And I look at them and I say to myself, what kind of a world are they going to inherit? Is there anything I can do that will make it a little better? So that’s my main motivating spirit.

DICKERSON: That’s great. Mr. Secretary, thanks for being with us.


DICKERSON: And we’ll be right back with our political panel.


DICKERSON: And we’re back with our political panel. Juliet Eilperin is a senior national correspondent for “The Washington Post,” Ron Brownstein is the editorial director for Atlantic Media. We are also joined by CBS News political analyst and “Slate” magazine’s chief political correspond, Jamelle Bouie, and Ben Domenech, who is the publisher of “The Federalist.”

Juliet, I want to start with you. What happened this week on healthcare?

JULIET EILPERIN, “THEE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, what you really saw was -- was an extraordinary moment of gamesmanship where President Trump delivered an ultimatum to House Republicans, dared them to take a vote and pass the bill that they’ve been working on for a couple of weeks. And, at the end of the day, Paul Ryan, the speaker, had to come down and admit that he could not force his members to walk the plank for this proposal. And at this point acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land for the foreseeable future.

DICKERSON: Ben, what’s the lesson here coming out of this for Republicans?

BEN DOMENECH, “THE FEDERALIST”: There are a number of lessons. So, John, prior to my work with “The Federalist,” I worked for 12 years in health policy. I was in the Bush administration during -- at HHS during the Medicare Part D fight and then in the Senate and saw that play out.

There’s a major difference between the politics then and the politics now. Part D was a popular measure. This measure had 17 percent approval in the most recent poll taken about it. During the Part D fight, leadership had earmarks that they could use to offer different members carrot in order to support their measure, keeping a vote open in one instance in the House for three hours. Now they no longer have that.

GOP leadership needs to recognize a lesson that they can take away from this moment, which is that the Freedom Caucus and what it represents, fiscal conservatives who have support in their districts, support that far outpaces the president of the United States, are here to stay. And they’re a large enough faction to be able to get what they want done. The fact is that, you know, today, Adam Kinzinger, a representative from Illinois, came out and said he thought that leadership should take the lesson that they should abandon dealing with these conservatives and instead reach out to centrist Democrats, to which I say it’s fun to play pretend. The reality is that this faction is not going away and in order to include them in the process, to bring them, to not draft legislation behind closed doors, you have to have a more open, a more collaborative process that includes them and other stakeholder groups from the get-go. The real, hard problem that leadership has to face is that it wasn’t just conservatives who killed this bill, it wasn’t just the Heritage Foundation that opposed it, it was the AARP, it was every major medical group --



DOMENECH: Everyone. If you -- if you had seven years to put that together, how could you even make that happen?

BROWNSTEIN: It was -- it was a panoramic collapse, right, because you’re talking about, first of all, it is difficult to think of another new president who has lost a legislative fight this big this fast in their presidency. It is -- it is really hard to think of another example --

DICKERSON: No, people would say Clinton, so explained why.

BROWNSTEIN: Well -- well, Clinton -- Clinton, you know, Clinton ultimately passed his budget. He lost healthcare, you know, in the -- in -- in the second year, ultimately, the end of 1993, 1994. But to be 60 days into your presidency and have something of this magnitude, the first big thing that Clinton did it was very difficult but he did pass it in the end. Of course, President Obama passed the stimulus. George W. Bush passed the No Child Left Behind and the tax cut.

But I think what’s really important here is -- is Ben’s point, that it was not just the conservatives in the end who bolted. In fact, as Tom Cotton noted to you that in most of the whip counts there were more people outside of the Freedom Caucus who opposed the bill who were -- than those who were inside. And, to me, there’s one of the big lessons here, beside all of the tactical problems, and I think we should go back to the question of whether it’s possible to work with Democrats because of the decision not to in effect gave a veto to each faction in the Republican Party. But bigger than any of that, facts on the ground matter.



BROWNSTEIN: Obamacare provided coverage for 20 million people. And the fundamental debate -- the division in the Republican Party was conservatives who wanted to take it away from more faster who would not have created anything like an entitlement and then those, both moderate centrists and even some conservatives who said, you know, I can’t -- I have hundreds of thousands of people in my state or in my district who have gained coverage and we cannot simply pull the rug out from under them.

JAMELLE BOUIE, CBS NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: That’s when I don’t -- I think you can’t underestimate what the effects of Democratic mobilization on the ground had on more moderate Republicans, more vulnerable members who were seeing angry people at their town halls, who were seeing mass protests and decided, you know, I -- I risk losing my seat, I risk incurring some sort of political damage by voting for a bill whose headline number, the headline number on this bill was that 24 million people would lose their insurance.


BOUIE: And added to that, I think it’s important to recognize that in addition to tactical mistakes and strategic mistakes, there’s just the fact that the bill wasn’t -- was just a shoddy bill, yes, it was a bad bill.

EILPERIN: Well, and you can’t -- and you can’t underestimate the fact that there was no negotiation.


EILPERIN: And what that means that, yes, you have mobilization on the ground. I was talking to a health care lobbyist yesterday who said, it’s not that they shut their doors and they didn’t take our calls, but they didn’t solicit our input and more importantly they -- there wasn’t a negotiation. And so you had no buy in from all of these other constituencies and it really (INAUDIBLE).

DOMENECH: Exactly.

DICKERSON: Well, and to the extent there was a negotiation when things were taken out of it to buy off the Freedom Caucus --


DICKERSON: You lost those sidelines we were talking --

DOMENECH: And -- and in the same sense, even those things that were taken out, a lot of it, the real question that I had as a -- as a health policy person when I looked at this was not an ideological question. I have my own positions when it comes to health possibility. It was more about workability. Is this even going to work? And I think in this sense you were asking, you know, this past week, for all these members of Congress to come out and vote for something that they didn’t have a final CBO score for, that they really didn’t know how it would apply to their districts, and you can look at the Senate’s schedule going forward, they’re going to do Montenegro next and they’re going to do Gorsuch and then there’s going to be a recess and then they’re going to do a CR, and all of those things mean House members will be flailing for five weeks defending a bill that they didn’t even fully understand.


BROWNSTEIN: You know, and we talked about this before what I wrote, the Trumpcare conundrum in January.


BROWNSTEIN: I mean the core problem here is the basic solution on the private markets, all right leave aside the fact that half the people who are getting coverage under Obamacare were under the expansion of Medicaid, which is a really separate issue that Republicans wanted to repeal, but on the private market side, the core solution that Republicans had was to deregulate insurance in a variety of different ways and the individual mandate ultimately and the essential health benefits. And what that does over and over again is advantage younger, healthier and raise costs and diminish access for people, older people, with larger health needs and that is their coalition at this point.

BOUIE: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: The reality is, 60 percent of House Republicans are in districts that are older than the national average and a majority of Donald Trump’s votes came from whites over 45. CBO said people in their 50s would have a 25 percent premium increase and would suffer much of the -- of the coverage loss. They were colliding with their new coalition.

You remember in healthcare in the ‘90s, they twice passed a block grant for Medicaid under Bill Clinton without fuss or muss among Republicans. Now it’s a lot of their voters who will get hit by that.

DICKERSON: And the president said he would never support a bill that hurts his own voters, but then in the horse trading that was going on --


DICKERSON: There seemed to be nothing --


DICKERSON: It was a little bit on the tax credit for older people, but nothing that would get to the problems that you identified.


DICKERSON: Juliet, let me ask you about the president as a marketer. We know what the president looks like when he has got something on his mind.


DICKERSON: It is a constant conversation. Measure Donald Trump at 100 percent to the Donald Trump, President Donald Trump, who worked on this bill.

EILPERIN: Right. I mean this was a -- really a different person in some ways, partially because he had deep ambivalence about this legislation. He kept asking his own advisors whether this was a good bill and part of it was, this was not his comfort zone. This is not an area which he prioritized in his own campaign, aside from saying that he wanted to reverse it. And so he did, you know, they can trot out that he talked on the phone or in person to 120 members, but he basically was just making these incredibly broad arguments of, you need to vote for this and we’re telling you to vote for it. And as a result, you didn’t have the public communication or even kind of the detailed private communication. That’s what you need to bring it across the (INAUDIBLE).

BOUIE: In order to be an effective advocate, a president actually has to know something about the policies in question. And Donald Trump hasn’t shown that he has that knowledge. And so it made it difficult for him to advocate in public, to advocate to members, and it means that in these negotiations and horse trading, and we’ve seen reporting to say exactly this, he doesn’t really have anything to say or add.

DOMENECH: But the fact is that Paul Ryan has been working on this for seven years. He was working on it when Donald Trump was still a reality star. He should have expected that --


DICKERSON: Well, I’m going to -- hold that. I’m going to take a quick break there. I want to get back to this very dynamic between the president and Paul Ryan.


DICKERSON: It’s going to matter going forward.

So let’s a shake -- a short break and we’ll be right back. Stay with us.


DICKERSON: And we’re back with our panel.

Ben, pick up where you were.

DOMENECH: So the issue I think that you really have to look at right now is the relationship that Donald Trump and -- and the White House has with Paul Ryan. This really was a situation where they outsourced their policy to him, and other Republican leaders who had been working on this process for seven years. They could have expected much better -- a much better outcome from that leadership, I think. It’s not irrational to expect that.

My sources who are close to the White House tell me that Reince Priebus, who is obviously very close with Paul Ryan, the White House chief of staff, is now on extremely shaky ground. That the president really doubts him, and was assured by him multiple times through this process that things were going well, that they were going to come out of this with a bill. Obviously that didn’t -- that didn’t work out. And it’s really a question of where he stands (INAUDIBLE).

BROWNSTEIN: This whole episodes, I think, revealed what a shotgun marriage it is between Donald Trump’s economic nationalism and the more conventional, small government conservativism or even liberalism that Ryan represents, because there was a direct collision between this bill -- a week -- a few days earlier in the budget, President Trump made a big statement. He said, I am going to depart from traditional Republican thinking and exempt Social Security and Medicare from any changes, which has been Paul Ryan’s biggest crusade, particularly on Medicare, and -- because those are my voters. Because the majority of my votes came from whites over 45 and we have a lot of lower, middle income, older, predominantly white voters who now depend on those program. I’m going to deviate or redirect Republican ideology.

Then you come back a few days later with a bill that hammers those very same voters that is driven by Ryan. And it is a remind that in a variety of ways, you’re going to see, I think, a consistent collision between the economic nationalism that Trump is embracing -- which in many case -- in most countries around the world includes a pretty big government component and the traditional Republican drive to shrink government over all other goals.

BOUIE: I think it was an important point about process (INAUDIBLE). It is true that Paul Ryan and House leadership should have had a better sense of how to go forward because they’ve been working on this for seven years. But we’re also living in an age where the presidency is pretty involved in policy matters. And a White House has to have policy expertise. It has to have some sort of knowledge and know how about how to get these things done. And the fact of the matter is, is that not only does the Trump White House not have these things, it has a lot of people new, not just to national politics or government, but new to just policy-making period.

But Donald Trump himself, if you look at his career as a businessman, what he is skilled at is branding. Putting his name on a bill that the House produced is 100 percent what you’d expect Donald Trump to do. And I’m not sure -- I think this may demonstrate that Trump himself does not actually have the kind of skills necessary to shepherd these kinds of big legislative programs through.

DICKERSON: To give it the special sauce. He gave everybody a name during the campaign.

BOUIE: Right.

DICKERSON: He was quite expert at that. Make America great again had a punch to it. This never got a name from --

EILPERIN: Right, he didn’t want it called Trumpcare. He did not want that.


DICKERSON: Although -- and, Juliet, take this from where we are in healthcare and where this goes forward, but with this idea, couldn’t Paul Ryan say, hey, if we had this Freedom Caucus, we knew they were going to be a challenge, they have always been, Donald Trump could have done rallies in their districts.


DICKERSON: He could have -- instead of giving them an ultimatum at the end, could he have started earlier and what does this mean for going forward either with healthcare or tax reform or anything else?

EILPERIN: Absolutely. I mean -- and also interestingly the leverage that he want -- you know, that he was kind of exercising at the end, this idea that, look, I’m going to put you on the spot, you will take the blame for this going down and I’m popular in your states, as Ben points out, that’s both not as effective with Freedom Caucus members, the most conservatives. But also, again, he’s not following through on that threat. That was his leverage. And, instead, he wants to blame the democrats and say that it’s going to explode.

BROWNSTEIN: We should revisit Ben’s point from --


BROWNSTEIN: I’m sorry, go ahead.

EILPERIN: Oh, yes. Well, just that so -- you know, so there’s no question that he could have invested more and his ambivalence hampered it. His unwillingness to essentially license it in the way he has done other things. And I think going forward, again particularly when you have these ideological cross currents, he’s got to decide what he is going to fully invest in, do that kind of politics, both outside the beltway where he has enormous scale, and figure out how to have enough involvement and enough buy in that he can effectively sell it here.

BROWNSTEIN: Because Ben said earlier that it was a fantasy really --


BROWNSTEIN: To believe that you could bring in some Democrats. But one lesson of this clearly is if you are -- if you are starting from the get-go, assuming that you’re going to have no Democratic support, in essence you are giving a veto to each faction --


BROWNSTEIN: In the Republican coalition. So it does raise the question -- I mean it was never even discussed here. It was like never even really an option to kind of reach out to Democrats. But going forward on -- on tax -- tax reform in particular, where you have this enormous divide again over this idea of the import adjustment fee and Tom Cotton, who you had on earlier, you know, he can’t -- a senator from Arkansas with Wal-Mart being against -- you know, for an import (ph) -- that’s an idea that just seems like a non-starter in the Senate. They are going to be in the same position structurally where each side of the party can veto this unless they can find a way to bring in some Democrats.

DOMENECH: Which is -- which is why I think you have to have a more open process that brings people in beforehand, that doesn’t just try to legislate from on high. The fact is that when you -- we’ve heard leadership in both Houses of Congress complain about this new brand of conservativism over the past several years, but these people are not going away. This is -- this is the way things are now and you have to recognize that. And it’s clear now, after this experience, Donald Trump is not going to solve that for you. The people who would be challenging these Freedom Caucus members in their districts would be challenging them from the right, not from the center, and that’s -- that’s a reality that you have to come to grips with. You can’t just keep playing pretend.

BROWNSTEIN: But a more open process only with Republicans?

DOMENECH: I think it has to include other people as well. It has to include Democrats in districts where Donald Trump performed well, which includes several Democrats who are in the House and the Senate.

BROWNSTEIN: Twelve -- twelve Democrats in the House.

EILPERIN: Exactly.

DOMENECH: Exactly. And that’s -- and that’s the kind of people who I think you need to be looking at going forward who are going to have to run again in a year. What are the issues that voters in their districts care about? Where can they be moved?

DICKERSON: All right, Jamelle, are those Democratic going to play and join in given where the Democratic base is right now, which is, anything you do to work with Donald Trump is normalizing him. I mean you know the rhetoric coming from the left.

BOUIE: Right. I have a hard time believing that any Democrats, even Democrats in districts that Trump won, are going to want to risk working with the Trump administration, with Republicans, to advance Trump’s political interests. My sense is that any Democrat who takes that step will immediately face the wrath of much of the Democratic base. And so in this case I do think an open process is just going to have to be within Republican -- among Republicans. And, again, I am not sure that the Trump White House is really ready to make these kinds of adjustments. I mean they want to go from an issue that involves a sixth of the economy to an issue that involves the entire economy, and they want to do so like quickly. And I’m really skeptical that they’ll be able to make the kinds of on the ground changes they need to make to make that successful.

DICKERSON: All right, we’re going to have to leave it there. Thanks, all of you, for being with us. Thank you, all of you out there, for watching us. And we’ll be right back.


DICKERSON: That’s it for us today. Our full interview with the former secretary of state, George Shultz, is available on our website, Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m John Dickerson.

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