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Face the Nation Transcript December 4, 2016: Priebus, Gingrich, Pelosi, Panetta

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: The Trump transition train rolls on. President-elect Donald Trump took a break from hiring to kick off a thank you tour in his favorite battleground state.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I love this stuff. Can I go on with this just a little bit longer?


TRUMP: I love it.


DICKERSON: But is his time better spent getting prepared for his new job? We will ask the new White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and Trump adviser and former Speaker Newt Gingrich.

We will get a preview of Scott Pelley’s interview with Speaker Paul Ryan for tonight’s “60 Minutes.”

And we will talk to another former speaker, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. She will be along to tell us how Democrats are preparing for the new administration.

Plus, former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta will also weigh in on what it takes to succeed in the Oval Office.

And, as always, political reporters give us their views on the week and what’s to come.

It’s all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

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

President-elect Donald Trump made some key hires this week and shocked some members of the foreign policy establishment.

We begin this morning with the new White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, who joins us from the RNC headquarters in Washington.

Let me ask you about the secretary of state pick. What’s happening with that now?

REINCE PRIEBUS, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, there’s going to be an announcement this week, and obviously we know it’s going to be General Mattis. And what a hero, someone that I think all Americans can look to and say, we’re going to be in great hands with this person that I think all Americans look up to, one of the most decorated Marines of our generation, and someone who has a strategic mind, someone that’s going to lead our Defense Department, and someone that’s going to clean up the Defense Department and help president-elect Trump shape his foreign policy.

DICKERSON: But what about the secretary of state job?

PRIEBUS: Well, that’s a different story. Things are moving quickly.

I don’t think anyone can accuse president-elect Trump of not moving fast. We are. Great picks. People are seeing a very smooth transition, but, look, that one is just taking a little bit longer, and I think it’s just fine. Everything doesn’t have to happen all at once. He’s taking his time, making a smart decision, and we will see where that goes.

DICKERSON: And Kellyanne Conway said there would be a grassroots revolt if Donald Trump picked Mitt Romney. Do you agree with that?

PRIEBUS: Look, I think Governor Romney is very talented. And I think what really we should look at is that we have got a president here in Donald Trump that wants to look at the best and brightest of America, regardless of background, regardless of past disputes that we may have had with each other, that that is the past. That’s the rear- view mirror.

We want the look through the front windshield. And that’s what he’s doing by talking to all of these different people. I think that the folks out there across the country, and I think they are, should be encouraged by a president that really wants to build trust and sort of in the team of rivals concept is something that I think is a good thing for America.

But that’s where Donald Trump’s mind is at. That’s where his heart is at. That’s a great thing for this country.

DICKERSON: Team of rivals, the title of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book about the Lincoln administration.

Let me ask you about the Trump style. There’s this view among some I have talked to that he’s most influenced by the person he talked to last. Do you agree with that?

PRIEBUS: No, I really don’t.

I think that he what is, is he’s someone that likes to listen to lots of different opinion, lots of different people, lots of smart people. He will talk to a lot of folks and just say, what do you think about this option? That’s a good thing. But in the end, once he formulates his opinion, once he decides this is where we’re going to go, he pulls the trigger and he moves. And that’s why you see a lot of these Cabinet picks, they happen quickly, but what you don’t see is that there are days and days and days of deliberation and communication and conversations that take place before those decisions are made, all great qualities in leading our country.

DICKERSON: You say he likes to take in a lot of information. He has not taken in as many intelligence briefings as previous president- elects. Why is that?

PRIEBUS: But he is. You know, they have daily briefings now.

DICKERSON: Is he getting them every day?

PRIEBUS: And obviously General Flynn and K.T. McFarland -- it’s about every day. It’s happening quite frequently, John.

And I think those are just going to ramp up as we get closer to January 20. But he is certainly informed. He’s getting briefed. And it feels like every day. I’m not sure if it is every day. But it’s a lot. And that’s who he is. It’s someone who studies and someone that wants to be informed and it’s someone who asks a lot of questions and listens.

DICKERSON: Is he a details guy?

PRIEBUS: He is a details guy.

You know, he is -- I would say it’s he’s a Socratic method guy. It kind of reminds me of being back in law school. He asks a lot of questions, asks questions about questions. And he will keep going until he’s satisfied with the information that he’s getting.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you, as the incoming chief of staff, what do you do when he says something like millions of voters voted illegally in California, when you know that that’s not true?

PRIEBUS: Well, I don’t know if that’s not true, John.

I saw there was an article in “The Wall Street Journal” the other day, and it had a certain percentage of people that are voting that shouldn’t be voting. There are estimates all over the map on that. Here’s the problem. No one really knows.


DICKERSON: But you think millions of people voted illegally?

PRIEBUS: It’s possible.

DICKERSON: There is no evidence that it happened in millions of votes in California.

I guess is question is, when you’re president, can you just offer a theory that has no evidence behind it, or does he have to tighten up his standard of proof?

PRIEBUS: I think he’s done a great job. I think the president- elect is someone who has pushed the envelope and caused people to think in this country, has not taken conventional thought on every single issue.

And it’s caused people to look at things that maybe they have taken for granted. You look at the flag-burning issue last week. This is an 80 percent issue. And then you watch the news media and they say, well, it’s constitutional. Well, right, it is constitutional, but it doesn’t mean it’s not a subject for debate and discussion for the Supreme Court to revisit down the road.

So I think he -- I think that unconventional thought is something that has caused a revolution in this country, which is why I think President Trump is going to go down in history as a really great president.

DICKERSON: In the brief time we have left, he -- the president had a conversation with the -- the president-elect, I should say, had a conversation with the president of Taiwan. Did he believe that he was talking to the leader of a sovereign state in that conversation?

PRIEBUS: No, of course not.

He knew exactly what was happening. But, look, we have got a lot of problems to solve in this country, and we’re not going to solve them by just making believe that people don’t exist. This was a two- minute congratulatory call. He talked to President Xi over two weeks ago. I’m sure he’d be willing to talk with him again.

This is not a massive deviation of our policy. But President Trump has made it clear that he’s going to work with China, PRC, to make sure that we have a better deal, that we have better trade agreements, and that we do a better job in protecting the American worker. And he’s going to continue to do it.

DICKERSON: So, courtesy call, not a change in policy?

PRIEBUS: Exactly.

DICKERSON: All right.

Reince Priebus, the incoming chief of staff, thanks so much for being with us.

PRIEBUS: You bet.

DICKERSON: Last week, Scott Pelley spent some time with Speaker Paul Ryan for tonight’s “60 Minutes.”

Ryan, whose relationship with Donald Trump during the campaign was rocky at best, told Scott he talks with the president-elect nearly every day and that he’s confident the two will work well together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We’re fine. We’re not looking back. We’re looking forward. We actually -- like I said, we speak about every day. And it’s not about looking forward -- back in the past. That’s behind us. We’re way beyond that.

Now we’re talking about, how do we fix this country’s problems, how do we hit the ground running? That’s what I’m excited about. What I’m excited about in my virtually daily conversations with Donald Trump, it’s all about how are we going to get things done, what goes first, what’s the schedule, how do we get this done, how can we help people here?

It’s really exciting to see. For a long time, we have been trying to get unified Republican government. We here in Congress spent all of 2015 getting ready and preparing for the possible opportunity of a unified Republican government. And now we have it, and it’s very exciting. And those are the kinds of conversations we have on a virtually daily basis.

SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: I’m curious, though, how did you patch it up? Who apologized to whom? How did that conversation go?

RYAN: It went fine. It was pretty much the day after the election or maybe two days after the election.

And we basically to let bygones by bygones and let’s forward and fix this country’s problems. And it was over and done with. And ever since then, we have had nothing but extremely productive conversations.


DICKERSON: For more of Scott Pelley’s interview with Speaker Paul Ryan, tune into “60 Minutes” tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Joining us now is former Speaker of the House and vice chair of the Trump transition team Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Speaker, John Kennedy said when he got into the White House, he said, “I wish I had spent less time getting to know people who helped me get elected and more time with people who would help me be president.”

Do you think Donald Trump is learning that?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, I think he’s learning it.

But I would say of John F. Kennedy, with how narrow his election was, if he had spent more time with people telling him how to be president, he wouldn’t have gotten through the election.

DICKERSON: First things first.

GINGRICH: So, first things first. And Trump pulled off one of the most amazing achievements in American history. Came out of nowhere. The only person not to have been a military officer or a public figure, a public elected official, only person in American history to win the presidency.

DICKERSON: When -- so Eisenhower having been a public figure...

GINGRICH: You have generals, General Grant, General Washington, General Eisenhower.

DICKERSON: You said that Donald Trump was saying that it’s a bigger job than he thought. What does that mean?

GINGRICH: I think that particularly when he went to the White House and he was in the Oval Office, he was beginning to realize that, under our system, the full weight, for example, of national security is on one shoulder. It’s not 50 people. It’s the president, commander in chief.

The degree to which people around the country, much as what you saw with saving 1,100 jobs at Carrier, the degree to which people around the country look to the president to try to make their lives better, I think he suddenly realized -- somebody said it was like the old story of the dog that caught a bus.

And I said, no, this is like the dog that caught a convoy. There are so many ramifications. If you take, as he does, trying to truly move America into a different direction, then it is a remarkably important job and one that means he’s got to build a real team. He can’t possibly do it by himself. And he’s showing that he understands that.

DICKERSON: You mentioned that it’s all on one shoulder. That why it seems odd maybe that he’s not starving for intelligence information, every day, wants the daily brief.

GINGRICH: I once had Secretary Rubin say to me as secretary of the treasury that during the financial crisis in Indonesia, he got more out of “The Financial Times” each morning than out of the CIA, and that he just thought, you know, you have to be realistic about this.

I have no idea what the current intelligence briefings are like, and I’m not denigrating them, but if you took the total number of foreign leaders that president-elect Trump has talked to in the last couple weeks, he’s clearly engaged in the world. He’s clearly talk -- he’s getting advice from Merkel. He’s getting advice from a wide range of leaders, from Abe in Japan.

At the same time, he’s got several people he trusts. And I’m assuming that Flynn and McFarland are, in fact, taking the briefings, and if they see something they think he needs to know, they will come tell him.

DICKERSON: You talked about the team around him. Incoming Chief of Staff Reince Priebus talked about the team of rivals, making the case there for Mitt Romney. You are not making the case for Mitt Romney. Why isn’t that, though, a good team of rivals?

GINGRICH: Look, first of all, nobody in the Lincoln Cabinet actively opposed his election up to Election Day.

They were rivals until he got the nomination. And then they were all for him. So there’s a -- Romney doesn’t quite fit that pattern. But, second, I’m very comfortable if, given the amount of time he’s put into this, if president-elect Trump says, I want Romney, I’m for Romney.

He has spent more than enough time talking with Mitt, and Mitt had a good occasion yesterday in accepting the call from Taiwan to understand that President Trump is going to be his own leader in foreign policy, and he’s looking for somebody to be his secretary of state, not the State Department’s.

If he concludes that Romney can do the job best, I’m for Romney. What I’m impressed with is the patient way he’s gone about this. He didn’t jump in for Romney. He didn’t jump in against him. He hasn’t jumped in for Giuliani. And I can say, as tough as I have been in public, which has been very aggressive, deliberately, about Mitt, I have gotten no blowback from anybody, including Reince.

There’s a sense of you’re allowed to have your own opinion. This is like “The Apprentice.” When you get to a decision, we will all be on the same team, but until that decision is made, it’s a fair conversation.

DICKERSON: Speaking of “The Apprentice” and TV and having opinions and expressing them there, is it -- which is more effective with Donald Trump, something you tell him in person or something you say on TV?

GINGRICH: As a general rule, something you tell him on person. On occasion, it helps to reinforce that on TV.

DICKERSON: Because it seems like some people, including Kellyanne Conway, who is former campaign manager, are sending him messages through the TV. Or maybe we have got that wrong.

GINGRICH: Or sometimes you’re also communicating to the millions and millions of people.

I mean, Callista and I have been out doing book signings. We were at Williamsburg yesterday. People walk up to us routinely and say, I don’t want Mitt.

Well, those people deserve to know there is a substantial positive part of the Trump operation that hears their concerns. That doesn’t mean that in the end they shouldn’t be for the president-elect when if he makes a decision for Romney. But they deserve to know that there are people hearing them.


On the Carrier action Donald Trump took, why is it the role of a president to negotiate? Wouldn’t Republicans or conservatives have said traditionally say he’s picking winners and losers, he’s meddling in the free market? Why is that not what he’s doing?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, he’s picking winners among Americans.

It’s a very simple model. And 1,100 families are going to have a better Christmas. And all of the people around them are going to have a better Christmas. The local dry cleaner, the local grocery store are all going to have a better Christmas.

Now, you can ask the question, should the president-elect -- and I think it’s amazing he did this before he got sworn in -- I mean, should the president-elect pick up the phone and call the CEO and say, you know, we want to change things? Give us a shot here. Let us try to fix this.

DICKERSON: No perverse incentives, though, to a company that now says, well, I can get $7 million in tax breaks if I just say I’m going to go to Mexico?

GINGRICH: Well, they may.

Look, there are 50 governors who have worked overtime to get people to invest in their states. In the new world economy, maybe you better have a president who behaves like a governor, and says, hey, I’m competing with Mexico and I’m competing with China and I’m competing with Germany. And I want that factory here. Now, what do I got to do to get that factory here?

DICKERSON: All right, Newt Gingrich, thanks so much for being with us.

And we will be back in a minute with one of the top Democrats in the House, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader. Stay with us.


DICKERSON: And we’re back with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Welcome, Leader Pelosi.


DICKERSON: What is it going to be like with Donald Trump as president? How are the Democrats going to react?

PELOSI: Well, we, first of all, respect the office that he holds and the people who elected him to the office. We will engage where we can, and we will oppose where we cannot.

A good example is how we worked with President George W. Bush when he was president. We opposed him on privatizing Social Security, the war in Iraq, but we worked with him on many, many other issues, including one of the biggest energy bills in history, issues that related to tax breaks for low-income people. The list goes on and on.

DICKERSON: What are some areas where you think you might be able to work with him?

PELOSI: Well, hopefully, we can work with him on infrastructure, building infrastructure of America in a way that increases the paychecks of American workers.

It won’t be cooperation if, in fact, it’s just a tax break for the wealthy disguised as an infrastructure bill. But let’s hope for the best. Everything he has said I think is promising about how we can go forward. We can work with him on issues that relate to child care or early childhood education, the rest. He has said that would be important, and we have had a conversation about that.

DICKERSON: I want to ask you about early childhood. There was a report in the paper that when you talked to him about this, he handed the phone to his daughter.

PELOSI: Yes, he did, because it’s a very high priority for her. I did not take that as something saying: That’s not anything I’m talking about. I took as: It’s a priority for Ivanka; therefore, it’s a priority for me.

DICKERSON: What do you think of the fact that his kids are kind of in and out of the administration and the business?

PELOSI: Well, I’m not going to go to that place.

Where I would like to go is to say where we won’t work with him is. And that is on privatization of Medicare and privatization of the VA. I think it’s really important for the American people to know that part of -- central to the Ryan budget, Speaker Ryan budget, is the voucherizing of Medicare.

This would be a tremendous loss, taking away the guarantee of Medicare. In addition, over 10 years in that budget, it takes a trillion dollars out of Medicaid, two-thirds of which go for long-term health care for seniors. So seniors have a lot to lose in what the Republicans are proposing.

Interesting to see if President Trump will go along with that.

DICKERSON: What about Obamacare? He wants to take that on right away. Why wouldn’t that be an initial big fight Democrats...

PELOSI: Well, it will be a big fight. And seniors should know how it affects them, because we extended the solvency of Medicare in that.

We gave free checkups, all of that, closed the doughnut hole, which increased prescription drugs to seniors. So seniors have a lot to lose, both in the voucherizing of Medicare, cutting of Medicaid and what it wants to do for the Affordable Care Act.

DICKERSON: The Democratic Party is in a moment of questioning about its identity. You were reelected to lead the Democrats in the House. What do you tell Democrats who want a new direction? And then go to you. What are you going to do differently?

PELOSI: Well, I don’t think that people want a new direction. Our values unify us.

And our values are about supporting America’s working families. That’s one that everyone is in agreement on. What we want is a better connection of our message to working families in our country.

And that clearly in the election showed that that message wasn’t coming through. But we are united in terms of the security of our country, which is our first responsibility, to be smart and strong and not reckless in how we protect the American people, strong in how we protect our economy.

DICKERSON: Here’s my question, though. Democrats -- since 2008, the numbers are ghastly for Democrats. In the Senate, Democrats are down 10 percent, in the House, down 19.3 percent, and in governors, 35 percent. The Democrats are getting clobbered at every level over multiple elections. That seems like a real crisis for the party.

PELOSI: Well, you’re forgetting that we were up 50 seats. We went up so high in 2006 and 2008. And let me just put that in perspective.

When President Clinton was elected, Republicans came in big in the next election. When President Bush was president, we came in big in the next election -- in subsequent elections. When President Obama became president, the Republicans came in big in the next election.

DICKERSON: I guess my question is, the Republicans reacted to their losses with a big revolution and a change. They have a very new president at the top of their party now.

You have somebody like Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack saying that the Democratic Party is like a tree that -- quote -- “looks healthy on the outside, but is in the throes of a slow and long-term demise.”

PELOSI: Well, I have enormous respect for the secretary, but I’m more optimistic about the strength of the Democratic Party.

And what I would say, because you talked about these numbers, some reasons to be hopeful, because it’s necessary, because this is about policy. It’s not about politics. It’s about politics for some, but, for us, it’s about protecting Medicare, Social Security, good- paying jobs for America’s workers, protecting a woman’s right to choose, issues that unify us.

But let me just say this. In any time that a presidential -- the change in president from one party to the next, the states receive an infusion of talent. President Obama going out of the office, sadly, not having President Clinton come in, but those Democrats will go back, run for governor, run for Congress, state legislatures and the rest. And we will build up the numbers that you’re talking about there.

DICKERSON: All right, we are going to have to leave it there, Leader Pelosi. Thank you. We look forward to having you back.

PELOSI: OK, but, anyway, upward and onward.

DICKERSON: Thank you.

And we will be right back.

PELOSI: Thank you.


DICKERSON: We sat down with former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta just hours before president-elect Trump announced that retired Marine General James Mattis was his pick to head the Pentagon.

In order for Mattis to serve, Congress must change a law that states military officials must be out of the service for seven years prior to taking control of the Pentagon.

Mattis, who headed up Central Command, retired three-and-a-half years ago.


DICKERSON: Explain for people why the civilian control of the military is a tradition and why having a general is a good or a bad thing or just what kinds of things people should be thinking about.

LEON PANETTA, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, you know, it goes back to George Washington.

There is a great portrait up at the Capitol of George Washington giving up his commission in the military in order to become president of the United States, which I think was a reflection of the fact that it’s important to have civilian leadership and civilian perspective when it comes to those issues.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a military background. I think that that is important, to have that background. But, at the same time, in those jobs, you have got to exercise the ability to understand political issues, to deal with broader issues that involve your capability to relate to the American people.

And so, yes, having a strong defense background is important, but it’s also important to be able to have that ability to understand the civilian side of that job, because both are involved as secretary of defense.

DICKERSON: You have worked with James Mattis. What do you think about him?

PANETTA: I like Jim Mattis a lot. He was a -- he’s a tough general, spoke the truth, was a good adviser. I trusted his defense judgment. And so I think he’s got a lot of qualities that are important to secretary of defense job.

I do think that it’s important for Congress to talk with him, if he is nominated, to make sure that he also understands the civilian perspective, because I think it’s important to have that when you become secretary.


DICKERSON: We will have a lot more of our interview with former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta when we come back.


DICKERSON: And we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Don’t go away.


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

We continue our interview with former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. We pick up with my asking him what he makes of Donald Trump.


PANETTA: John, I think, like a lot of people, I’m still trying to figure him out and try to figure out just exactly who we’re going to have as the new president. He’s very unconventional. And, you know, you’re just not quite sure which Donald Trump is going to walk into the Oval Office. Whether it’s the, you know, the reality TV-tweeting president, or whether it’s the business president who will be serious- minded about approaching it. So it’s really -- it’s really difficult right now to try to get a sense of just exactly what the president- elect is going to be like.

DICKERSON: And what do you make of some of the picks that he’s made for top positions? Do they give you any sense of what his administration might look like?

PANETTA: Well, you know, in many ways it reflex some of the positions obviously he took during the campaign. But at the same time, obviously he’s talking to a lot of people. And I suspect he is probably, for the first time, getting a real sense of what the awesome responsibility of president is all about. And it just seems to me that in light of, that he’s beginning to talk to a number of people that will bring some experience and some perspective that I think he’s going to need if he’s going to, you know, be able to deal with the multitude of crises he’s going to be confronting.

DICKERSON: One of the thing I heard over and over again during the campaign is voters would say, he doesn’t have Washington experience, but he’ll be able to surround himself with advisers.

PANETTA: That’s not good enough. The reality is, it is the president of the United States who has to make the final decision. And you can have a lot of bright people. They can present you a lot of options. But unless you’ve taken the time as president to understand those issues, to read into those issues, to understand the consequences of those issues, you cannot just rely on others to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. You’ve got to make the decision.

DICKERSON: So far Donald Trump has picked a lot of people who were already on his team. They call them loyalists inside the Trump campaign. What does that suggest to you in terms of this quality that people talk about with president, somebody needing to be able to go in there and tell them no? How important is that quality?

PANETTA: Well, you know, there’s -- look, there’s no question that loyalty is important. But, if you’re going to be, you know, a top staff assistant to the president of the United States, you’ve got to be willing to tell him the truth. You’ve got to be willing to tell him when you think he’s wrong and when he’s taking the wrong step. I mean the biggest problem in the White House that I’ve experienced is that everybody is trying to figure out what the president wants to hear and then tell the president what he wants to hear. And I suspect that, you know, a big personality like Donald Trump, you know, probably intimidates a lot of people who don’t necessarily want to look him in the eye and tell him exactly what he may not want to hear. But I always felt my responsibility as chief of staff was to be the person who walked into the Oval Office and said to the president, you can’t do that, or, this is wrong, and be able to tell him what you believe is the truth. And if you don’t -- if you don’t have that, that’s -- that, I think, starts a president off on the wrong foot.

DICKERSON: Speaking of Congress and confirmations, what questions should members of Congress ask the director about taking over the CIA now?

PANETTA: I think the most important question is to ask whether or not you are willing to provide the most accurate and credible intelligence to the president of the United States, whether he like -- he wants to hear it or not. The role of the CIA director is to provide that kind of credible intelligence. That’s the whole purpose of providing the so-called presidential daily brief. It’s to inform the president of what’s taking place in the world, what do we know about the world, what do we know about crises, what do we know about those that are trying to in some way threaten this country?

Frankly, one of the concerns I have right now is that this president is not getting his intelligence briefings. He’s taken a few of them, but he’s not getting them every day. If you’re president of the United States, you better be in touch on a daily basis with your intelligence briefers so that you have an understanding as to what’s happening in the world, what are the crises you have to pay attention to and what steps do you have to take in order to deal with those crises.

DICKERSON: Explain for people why a president couldn’t check in with his intelligence briefers every once in a while and didn’t need it every day?

PANETTA: It doesn’t -- it doesn’t work that way. You -- I mean you are constantly on the intelligence scale looking at a series of threats that may be out there. Some of them may be credible. Some may not be credible. But those threats change on a day-to-day basis with new intelligence, with new sources, with new assets that provide information. Every president I -- I know, and I’ve worked under nine presidents, every one has taken their intelligence daily brief because that sets the agenda for what you have to focus on as president of the United States.

DICKERSON: The only job you haven’t held, it seems, would be secretary of state, but Donald Trump is looking at a secretary of state. If you were giving him advice, giving all that you know, the nine presidents you served, people have been discussed are General Petraeus, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani. Assess that field in terms of what you know from your inside experience a secretary of state has to do.

PANETTA: For this president in particular, but it’s probably true for every president, no matter how experienced they may be, you want to have a secretary of state that understands the world, understands the issues that are out there, has the ability to relate to other world leaders, has the ability to be able to implement diplomacy, to engage with others. But most importantly, has the ability to understand, how do you, on a diplomatic basis, approach the crises that a president of the United States has to deal with. You need to have a strong secretary of state because that person is your ambassador to the world. And without that, you are left without the information and without the ability to make the right decisions that have to be made in a complicated world.

We’re dealing with a world that’s very dangerous right now. Got a lot of -- a lot of flash points in this world. You need to have a secretary of state that understands those flash points and understands how to deal with our adversaries, but also how to deal with our allies.

DICKERSON: Do you think one of those hits that criteria?

PANETTA: My sense is that, you know, he -- I know he’s talking to Mitt Romney. I think Romney would be able to fit that. I think there are others he’s talking to that (INAUDIBLE) able to accomplish that as well. But I think the president needs to understand that if he’s going to implement a strong foreign policy, if he’s going to take care of our national security, a strong secretary of state is absolutely essential to your ability to protect this country and to advance our interests in the world.

DICKERSON: Leon Panetta, thanks so much for being here.

PANETTA: Thank you.


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


DICKERSON: We’re back now with our Sunday politics panel. Susan Page is “USA Today’s” Washington bureau chief. Reihan Salam is the executive editor of “The National Review.” Audie Cornish is host of “All Things Considered” at NPR. And Dan Balz is chief correspondent at “The Washington Post.”

Reihan, I want the start with you.

What have we learned about Donald Trump from the people he’s picked?

REIHAN SALAM, “NATIONAL REVIEW”: Well, we’ve learned that he’s drawing on a very broad array of people ranging from loyalists to a lot of Republican regulars. I found the pick of Elaine Chao as secretary of transportation to be a particularly telling (ph). Elaine Chao is not someone who is an old school Donald Trump loyalist, yet she is someone who had served in cabinets before as secretary of labor and she is, of course, also the wife of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. So that is a sign that, hey, maybe transportation is indeed a very high priority and he is thinking about legislative strategy. At the other end of the spectrum, you know, you have the designate for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who distinguished himself by being an early staunch supporter and someone who’s really shaped Donald Trump’s views on immigration policy. So I’d say that, you know, those are two ends of the spectrum, a loyalist and also someone who is going to be facilitating Trump’s ostensible future role as a deal maker.

DICKERSON: Dan, do you think we have an administration shaping up where Donald Trump does out and dos what he did with the Carrier deal, has a big flashy moment and leaves the details to other people? Or what do we know in terms of -- or can we know even at this part -- at this point about the kind of separation of duties between Donald Trump and the people he picks to head these departments or even his vice president?

DAN BALZ, “WASHINGTON POST”: John, I think there’s still a lot we won’t know until he’s actually in power. We’ve -- we are beginning to see some signs of it. And I think in -- in -- certainly in the -- terms of the cabinet picks and the kinds of things he’s done, there’s the two Donald Trumps, some of which we saw during the campaign. There’s the Donald Trump, on the one hand, who is unpredictability, who likes to mix it up, who wants to stir the pot, who will continue to tweet things that will upset people. And we also saw at certain times in the campaign, and we’re seeing in this selection of the cabinet, a Donald Trump who in some ways comes off as a generic Republican. And I think that that’s going to be the tension within a Trump administration, which is the more significant, who’s really running things, is he really running it or is he being guided by others, particularly those that are sort of in the Republican mainstream. My guess is that Donald Trump will continue to try to shake things up.

DICKERSON: Susan, Newt Gingrich, who’s been a critic of Mitt Romney for secretary of state, seemed to be, in our conversation with him today, maybe OK about Mitt Romney being secretary of state. What do you make of that post in particular? It’s taken longer. There’s been this public conversation about it. Some -- sometimes it seems like messages are coming to Donald Trump from his staff through the televisions. What do you think is going on there?

SUSAN PAGE, “USA TODAY”: I think it’s interesting and not surprising that he’s taking a little time with secretary of state. No more important appointment that he’ll make. And you see the competition between a loyalist, somebody who was with him, Rudy Giuliani, and his fiercest critic, Mitt Romney.

I do think that there are signs that they are looking for maybe some additional names. And one name I’ve heard is John Huntsman, the former ambassador to China for Barack Obama, a guy who ran for president himself not so successfully for the Republican ticket. But someone who was not -- never part of never Trump movement, has some foreign policy experience. So I wonder if they’re having maybe the standoff between Giuliani and Romney has created an opening for a third person to walk through, whether it be Huntsman or Bob Corker or someone else.

DICKERSON: Audie, one question I wondered about was, I asked Reince Priebus about this (INAUDIBLE) millions of votes being cast in California, and the reason I asked is, there’s no evidence of that and yet Priebus was in the position of basically defending his boss in that case. But going to Dan’s point about the two different Donald Trumps. What -- what -- how does this -- how does the presidency accommodate this? When the president said things --

AUDIE CORNISH, NPR: I thought the point about the two different Trumps was interesting because the Trump I’m seeing most is like the one we know from “The Apprentice.” I mean like the cabinet process feels like a reality show. You’ve got these people traipsing in and out. In fact, it’s more like “The Bachelor.” Like somebody’s going to get a rose. You have that photo of Romney at that romantically lit dinner which like -- looked very awkward. And at the end of the day, somebody is going to get tapped.

But one question is, if you take a position with the Trump administration, how much say do you have? Like, right? Will you be listened to? Will you be respected? What are the ramifications if you decide you can’t do it anymore and what to resign or want to step aside? I think anybody who wanted the State Department job, for instance, and saw what happened with Taiwan in the last, you know, week is probably thinking, what does it mean to take this gig?

PAGE: You know what struck me, though, in the months since the election is, you know that civil war that I and others predicted in the Republican Party? That isn’t happening. This is Donald Trump’s party --

CORNISH: Yes, I heard bygones be bygones.

DICKERSON: Well, that -- yes, victory -- victory tends to make everybody -- (CROSS TALK)

PAGE: So you have -- so -- and -- and Donald Trump has actually been pretty split I think in both rewarding loyalty with some but not with everybody. Giuliani still doesn’t have a job. Forgive -- not forgiving everybody maybe, but forgiving some of the people who were pretty critical of him during the campaign. This is Donald Trump’s party. This is Donald Trump’s administration. And while he’s somebody that we can see already is willing to delegate, especially to Mike Pence -- Mike Pence has emerged as a really powerful figure -- this is his administration.

SALAM: To offer a somewhat different perspective, I think about this through the lens of the past. So if you think about Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, here were two figures who in a lot of ways were very unconventional Democrats. Jimmy Carter ran really in opposition to the Democratic Party in lots of ways. He was a very idiosyncratic figure. And actually his Democratic coalition was very different from the Democratic coalition that emerged in later years. And he struggled as president. He was a, you know, governor from Georgia who came in without the support of the congressional Democratic Party. So that was kind of a disaster, at least some would say.

If you look at Bill Clinton, it was a very different situation. Bill Clinton ran as a populist, as a new Democrat. The trouble is that there were no new Democrats. There were no actual cadres. There were maybe 15, 20, 30 people. So he could not actually staff his administration with people who represented his particular world view. He wound up staffing it with some retreads from the Carter administration, and a lot of fairly conventional liberals and then there was a fight in the party, but basically he wound up being a populist Democrat, but you could say a bit of a Wall Street Democrat. It was Robert Rubin who defined the Clinton presidency.

So, similarly with Trump, you can imagine a scenario in which, like Jimmy Carter, her kind of fights tooth and nail against his party. You can imagine another scenario in which he essentially gets assimilated to the kind of power brokers of his party. And then maybe there’s a third case, but the problem with the third case in which he advances his distinctive nationalism and populism, the problem with that third case is that you need cadres. You need actual trumpists in order for that to happen. And maybe Steve Bannon is a trumpists. Maybe there are a handful of other people who are trumpists, but it’s not really clear that he has the people to staff those 4,000 jobs in his administration to advance that distinctive perspective. So I see the Clinton scenario or the Carter scenario as the two things at work right now.

DICKERSON: Unless his perspective is whatever works at the time, and then everybody’s just trying to get a result and that’s not a specific result.

SALAM: Well, and that’s -- yes, and that could be, OK, that you’re just giving to the power brokers in the party.

DICKERSON: Well, let me ask you, Audie, about this deal that Donald Trump worked with -- with Carrier this week. He said he was going to punish them, but they got $7 million in tax breaks. What did you make of this at the end of the day?

CORNISH: I think it’s interesting that Trump has rejected the kind of check list that Republicans have. I think, Dan, you’ve written about this, like him being kind of independent and therefore he doesn’t have to do the like free market. Can’t do that, right? So all of a sudden, that’s OK. And I think maybe we could see or I think the thing I’ll be looking for is, will that change the atmosphere for corporate decision making. If you have a president who is not constricted by all of those kind of party dynamics, that creates some uncertainty and who knows kind of how they could take that going forward.

DICKERSON: What do you think, Dan, about -- is -- are we going to see Donald Trump basically -- is this the model for his presidency, these kinds of high-profile, hands-on, but in a limited way?

BALZ: Well, Donald Trump is a showman.


BALZ: And he likes to create these moments. And we’ve seen him do it throughout the campaign. And I can’t imagine that given his age and his experience that he’s going to fundamentally change the way he approaches this new job, even though it’s totally different than anything he’s done.

I think on the issue of the -- of the Carrier case, the question is, what signals does that send outside of that particular episode? Is it -- is it incentives to other companies to try to come in and bargain with him? Does it create some sense of intimidation that the president of the United States is going to call you out if he sees you doing something that he doesn’t like? I think that everybody is going to be making judgments based on a handful of symbolic but real things that he does early on in his tenure, and they will begin to calibrate how they deal with him from there.

SALAM: It’s fascinating to see the opposition because, on the one hand, you have Larry Summers, very prominent Democrat, who’s saying that, hey, this isn’t the rule of law. This is isn’t a free market. And, of course, he never mentions that -- people said this same thing about the auto bailout, right?


SALAM: And then you have Bernie Sanders saying, this isn’t punitive enough, this isn’t hard enough on the corporations. It’s just a huge giveaway. So which is it going to be? And I think that in that is room for maneuver for Trump.


DICKERSON: Right, and you have Sarah Palin calling it crony capitalism.

SALAM: Right.

DICKERSON: So you have it (INAUDIBLE).

PAGE: There’s no ideological test for Donald Trump. He is not an ideological guy. He is whatever the result is. Maybe it’s whatever looks good. I mean and that gives him, it seems to me, tremendous sway and probably a great deal of irritation for other Republicans in Washington.

DICKERSON: All right, we’re going to cut it there for a moment and we’ll be right back.

Stay with us.


DICKERSON: (INAUDIBLE) from politics panel, Audie, I want to ask you about Nancy Pelosi, who was here, the Democratic leader, re- elected as a Democratic leader. She said she respects the office of the presidency. A lot of Democrats I talked to don’t, you know, they say, not my president. They want a tougher fighting against Donald Trump. How do you think that get worked out?

CORNISH: I think that’s why she is back as leader, right? I mean basically there are lawmakers in that caucus who said, we want somebody who is prepared to do the legislative battling we need to run defense for the next two years. And she knows how to do that. I know that that was looked at purely through the lens of like election and what does this mean for the whole party going forward. But I actually think some of that was about just like, what is our defense going to be against this unified Republican government, and therefore Donald Trump?

DICKERSON: But, Susan, what do Democrats do when they’re looking for their new, vibrant voice of rescue that’s going to keep this from being a coastal party that keeps losing in those percentages I talked about?

PAGE: I think Democrats are in just in a world of hurt at the moment and they’ve reduced (INAUDIBLE) tactic. Their one piece play -- piece of leverage is the Senate filibuster. That doesn’t say much for a party if you’ve lost the White House, the House, the Senate. You’re going to have a Supreme Court that’s going to be less friendly. You’ve lost all these state legislature, which may be the most serious thing. Democrats face a world in which they’ve been hallowed out. They have not -- they have not had people in the pipeline move up as Republicans have so scurvily done that for the past 20 years. So they need to address not only the geography of their party, but also building back lower ranks of their party, state legislature, statewide elected officials, so you have more possibilities to move into the top ranks.

DICKERSON: One of the ways, Dan, that this is a -- showing itself, the combat era, the conversation in the Democratic Party is in looking back at the Clinton campaign and the way it was run. You were a part, as Susan was, of the Harvard campaign managers, where the managers for all the campaigns get together. There was a real crash between the Trump forces and the Clintons. What happened and what does it -- what does it mean, not so much what happened, but what -- does it mean anything larger?

BALZ: Well, I think it means that this -- this -- this campaign has left this country in such a -- kind of a raw state of emotion about the outcome. The outcome was a surprise I think on -- a big surprise on both sides, I think it’s fair to say. And the -- the -- the Clinton team reflecting both the sort of sense of devastation had -- had some things they wanted to put out on the table, critical of the way Donald Trump ran the campaign.

The Trump campaign, I think, because perhaps that they have -- you know, they didn’t get the popular vote, they think they are not getting the respect that he deserves for having won a campaign that almost nobody said he could win. And so their -- neither side seems to be really prepared to make the real steps to try to bring about reconciliation. People said this at -- the day after the election, Donald Trump did, Hillary Clinton did, the president of the United States did, all said, you know, the right words. But underneath that, you’ve got a country that’s still roiled by this. There’s lots of people nervous. There are lots of -- there’s lots of resentments and grievances ono both sides and that -- that afternoon session at Harvard on Thursday afternoon, it just boiled over.

PAGE: And, of course, you’re too modest to say, you were the moderator of that session. You said afterward that you needed a fire extinguisher. And the question is, what is there that could happen that could put out these fires that are really still raging even a month after the election?

DICKERSON: Explain, Susan, what the fire is to people who weren’t there. I mean what’s the -- is the central nature of it?

PAGE: Well, the -- I think on the one hand, the Trump people still pretty resentful about a lack of respect, as Dan said. And the -- the Clinton people arguing that they won by appealing to the darkest forces in American politics. And that was the ignition point for the fiercest exchanges that they had. But this -- you know, this -- we’ve gone to these -- these forums before where it’s not like they’re friendly and love each other. It’s that they’re pretty civil to each other and that sense of civility was not apparent really on either side.

SALAM: To get us back to the Democrats for a moment, I’ll just say that there is a fire (INAUDIBLE). And there’s a process through which the Democratic Party is always learning and relearning certain lessons. The big thing is that the Democratic Party is the big city party. It’s the urban party. That is a huge advantage in some respects. It means that you have resources. It means that you have lots of cultural capital, as well. But the tricky thing is that our political system is stacked against an urban party. When you want to win seats in the House of Representatives, and forget about the Senate, you need to be able to win some suburban, rural voters, instead of just stacking up all of your (INAUDIBLE) in big cities. That’s just a fundamental challenge. And so what Nancy Pelosi managed to do, what Howard Dean and other folks managed to do, is, let’s find Democrats who can win in these rural districts. Let’s manage to do that. The thing is that the fire in the party is that urban fire of moving the party away from that. Hillary Clinton cosponsored legislation to punish flag burning with a year in prison in 2005. That was --

DICKERSON: Although Donald Trump wants to punish people for it too.

SALAM: Exactly.

DICKERSON: But we’ll have to end it there. Thanks to all of you.

We’ll be back in a moment.


DICKERSON: For us. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m John Dickerson.

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