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Face the Nation transcripts November 24, 2013: Kerry, Hoyer, McCarthy

The latest on the deal over Iran's nuclear program, Jackie Kennedy's Secret Service agent recalls JFK's assassination, and more
November 24: Kerry, Hoyer, McCarthy, Hill 46:21

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on November 24, 2013, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Secretary of State John Kerry, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Clint Hill, David Rohde, David Sanger, Kim Strassel and John Dickerson.

BRENNAN: Well, you say that's a small amount of financial relief. And it's just about $7 billion. But this is to a country that the U.S. still considers to be the top sponsor of terrorism in the world.

KERRY: But the...

BRENNAN: How do you control how they spend that money?

Are you confident...


BRENNAN: -- that it's not going to the wrong places?

KERRY: What you have to do here is begin a process by which you can actually dismantle their program and prove what it is or isn't doing. We're beginning in a place that will lock in their program where it is today, with respect to critical facilities, at the plutonium heavy water reactor. They will not be able to commission it. And we will know that because we can inspect it.

Today, we can't. That makes everybody safer.

We will be inside the Fordow enrichment facility that's built into a mountain, the secret facility. We're going to get into that.

Are you telling me we're not better off being able to get in and see what's happening?

Of course we are.

In each case where they have been able to enrich without our knowing exactly what they're doing, we will now be able to have greater inspection, greater knowledge, greater restraint. And that will expand the amount of time it would take for the to break out and create a nuclear weapon. That makes Israel safer. That makes the region safer. And we believe it is the right thing to do to put to test whether or not they will actually show the world they have a peaceful nuclear program.

BRENNAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

KERRY: Thank you.


SCHIEFFER: As you just heard there, Israel, America's closest ally in the region, wasted no time in saying it wanted no part of the deal and did not consider it bound by anything in it.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke just a short while ago.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: What was concluded in Geneva last night is not an historic agreement, it's an historic mistake. This agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place.


SCHIEFFER: Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning.

We want to go back now to Margaret Brennan, who has now made her way to our London bureau.

Margaret, good morning to you.

And how is the United States going to handle this obvious disagreement with Israel?

BRENNAN: Well, this deal caused a lot of friction with Israel even before it was signed. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, has been very bold and very vocal about what he sees as the Obama administration's naivete in going ahead with this diplomatic deal.

But the Israelis have been briefed extensively throughout this process. They are well aware of what is in this deal and what is not.

But when you look at the region, it's not just Israel who is concerned here. It's the Arab states who live in Iran's backyard, allies to the U.S., like Saudi Arabia and some of the other Gulf States.

The U.S. has armed them and Israel to the teeth in recent years to try to help defend them against an I ran threat.

So now this change in policy to go down a diplomatic route is causing some concern, some insecurity there, saying, well maybe the U.S. won't come to our own defense.

The U.S. is going to try to sell this now. The administration has to convince Israel, Saudi and those Gulf countries, that this is actually the safer path forward.

Secretary Kerry has already said he's going to be on a plane flying to Israel immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday to try to smooth over some of these concerns.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

Well, thank you so much, Margaret.

And for some more analysis now, we're joined by the chief Washington correspondent for the "New York Times," David Sanger, and David Rohde, who is a columnist for both Reuters and "The Atlantic."

David, you wrote in the late editions of "The Times" this morning that this was what you called "a modest down payment."

What do you mean by that?

DAVID SANGER, "NEW YORK TIMES": What I mean by that, Bob, is that what the United States is trying to accomplish here is to greatly expand the dash time to a bomb, the amount of time it would take Iran, if it ever decided to get a weapon, to actually go race for it. This initial agreement buys them a month to a couple of months, people in the intelligence agencies say. But the centrifuges will keep spinning. They won't be adding to the stockpile.

So I think that Secretary Kerry is absolutely right when he says that they're much better off to have this than they would be not to have it, where the system would have built up in about six months to something significantly greater.

SCHIEFFER: What's your take, David?

DAVID ROHDE, REUTERS: I think for Kerry, it's a step forward. It's very similar, to me, to when he got the Israelis and the Palestinians to come back to the negotiating table. There isn't a deal here with the Iranians. This is a freeze.

So, in essence, we've got six months now to see if there can be an actual agreement that rolls back this program or not, just like with the Israelis and Palestinians, that's a nine month process.

So, you know, it's a -- it's a start. It's a very significant thing. People didn't think Kerry would even get this far. But this is not some breakthrough agreement at this point.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, we've interviewed Benjamin Netanyahu a couple of times over the last six weeks, I guess. It's no surprise to me that he didn't like this.

But I must say, he came on even stronger this morning than I thought he would be.

SANGER: He did.

And what he said was that Israel would be less secure than it was before this agreement. And what he means by that he believes that this agreement basically will be the only one they get, that they won't get to the bigger one, and thus it will have enshrined the status quo.

But if the administration did not make an attempt to do this, Bob, I think it's very hard to know whether you ever could have gotten roll back, ever could have gotten dismantlement and that's what they're trying to get at.

SCHIEFFER: And so, what do you think happens now with Israel, David?

ROHDE: I think Israelis are going to make a lot of noise. We'll see what happens in congress. There will be pressure there for new sanctions. The Iranians have said that if there are additional sanctions that this deal is off. So it will be a difficult time for administration. I think they'll go ahead.

The danger, though, is that no big deal emerges from this, that it's an Iranian game where they just sort of negotiate every six months, every six months and every six months.

So, the president has to show he's serious about reinstating these sanction if a deal doesn't happen.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, if you all will stand by, we're going to talk about this some more on page two of "Face the Nation." And we'll be back in one minute.


SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with a number two Democrat in the House leadership, Maryland's Steny Hoyer. Glad to see you back, Mr. Hoyer.

REP. STENY HOYER, (D) MARYLAND: Good to be with you.

SCHIEFFER: What you think about this deal?

HOYER: Look, our policy is that Iran should not have a nuclear arms capability, that continues to be our policy. And the military option, as Secretary Kerry just said, is still on the table and it needs to be on the table. We need to make sure that Iran does not move forward.

I think that this is a marginal improvement. It did freeze some of their activity in place. And it continues the major sanctions in place. It's going to be costly on a continuing basis to them.

I think that the Senate has a sanction bill that increases sanctions, which we passed in the House in July. I think moving forward with that, but not implementing it for six months, assuming that the Iranians do, in fact, what they say they're going to do.

I think that secretary of state is absolutely correct, verification is the key here. We don't trust Iran, we need to verify that in fact they're going to do what they say they're going to do and we'll move towards a final agreement which will ultimately dismantle and eliminate their ability to have nuclear weapon.

SCHIEFFER: So, let me just make sure I understand what you're saying. The House has passed even tougher sanctions, you're hoping or you're hoping the Senate will go along with that, but put in a proviso there to put it on hold for six months.

HOYER: Majority Leader Reid, before this agreement was reached, said he was going to move forward on these after the Thanksgiving break.

Assuming he does that, I think it is appropriate that we wait six months to implement those which will say to the Iranians we need a final deal, and if not a final deal, these tougher sanctions are going to go in place. Or if you do not follow this interim agreement, those sanctions will go into place.

SCHIEFFER: Well, if it works, it will be some needed good news on the political front for the White House, because with every day there just seems to be some new mind boggling development about the problems with Obamacare.

Just this week, administration officials testified the computer system still had about 40 percent to go before its done. There's now evidence that people in the White House, including the president, were briefed months before the program started that there were some flaws here.

What happens here? Are they going to have to just take this thing down and start over?

HOYER: The process has been terrible. And we're all very disappointed, those of us who support the Affordable Care Act. But the Affordable Care Act, Bob, the majority of the American public says, look, we need to fix it, not repeal it. And what they mean by that is, they know they need affordable quality health care access. And as a result, the necessity is that we fix this access to it. And I think over time the American public are going to see it works well.

I had woman who talked to me the other day whose son was involved in an automobile accident some two-and-a-half years ago, very serious automobile accident. He was on her policy because of the Affordable Care Act. He's now over 26 with a preexisting condition and the only reason he can get health care is because of the Affordable Care Act. She came up to me and thanked me.

So I think millions of people have already been helped -- seniors, young people. people who went over their annual limit.

SCHIEFFER: But still 61 percent of Americans now oppose it. You know, I've got to say after the government shut down I thought the Republicans had dug themselves into such a hole they would never get out of it. But that seems to be washed away now by this failure of Obamacare. HOYER: I don't think Obamacare has failed. Access to Obamacare has been a failure at this point in time. And it needs to be fixed.

So from that standpoint, the substance of Obamacare is yet to be tested. And to the extent it has been tested, it's been a success for millions of people.

SCHIEFFER: Would you at this point, if there was nothing else to do would you just be willing to shut the thing down and start over?

HOYER: No, not at this point in time. We don't need to start over.

And Bob, I don't think the American people want to start over. They want a system that works. We all do. And the Republicans have offered no alternative at this point in time simply repeal. And with all due respect to your figure I don't think the American public and a number of recent polls support that objective.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Mr. Majority Leader, thanks for being with us.

Let's get the other side of this now from the assistant House majority leader, the Republican, Kevin McCarthy. He is in his district in Bakersfield, California, this morning.

Mr. McCarthy, what do you think about this deal that the president has just struck with Iran?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) CALIFORNIA: Well, I would caution the president from over selling this deal. Because it is not a full dismantling of their program, and that would be historical deal. When you have friends and allies inside the region strongly opposed to it, I would caution. And I agree with minority whip that we should move forward with the sanctions in the Senate.

One thing that we have to do, remember who we're dealing with, we're dealing with Iran. They are one of the top supporters of terrorism around the world. This is providing them resources and money and we should not take this lightly. We have to have a full dismantling if we want the world to be safer.

SCHIEFFER: You know, I was on airplanes this weekend, and more than one person I was talking to about this whole deal pending with Iran, and they were saying, this might be a diversionary tactic by the administration, which is desperately looking for good news. Would you put it in that category yet?

MCCARTHY: I would never judge upon that what we're dealing with international. I know they need some type of other news, but that would be the biggest mistake any administration could do to try to make a decision for a political basis when you're dealing with American and lives around the world. So, I would hope that would never be the case.

If it's not a full dismantling I don't think you'll bet a bipartisan support inside the House or the Senate for saying that this is a historic deal.

SCHIEFFER: Let me shift to the other big news, and that is the Republican strategy now on Obamacare. What will you all do now? A Republican that I was talking to on one of these airplane trips this weekend said, you know what our talking points are now? Our talking points are don't talk, just let this thing continue to roll out.

What is your advice now on what to do about this?

MCCARTHY: Well, first, you have got to see how this is rolling out. It's coming in three different failed waves. The first waves was the website. The president, it failed from the very beginning. They knew that it would fail and they rolled forward. And it's supposed to be fixed by less than a week from now. And you know that will not happen.

The second wave started where it says if you have your healthcare and you like it you can keep it. Well, we know that is not true. Now for every one person who signed up for Obamacare, 44 Americans have gotten a letter saying they can't keep their health care.

Then the third most powerful wave is going to hit January 1: the cost. You know what, on average, the latest report says 41 percent premium increase throughout the nation. And in five states, the premiums have gone up 100 percent.

Then you won't even -- the deductibles. And then whether you can keep your doctor. I do not believe you can fix this law to lower the cost and increase access. We have to scrap it and start anew and get a bipartisan consensus that actually puts the patient first and lowers the premiums. Now Republicans have had many ideas on this.

SCHIEFFER: But what would you do to get bipartisan approach? I must say, haven't seen many bipartisan approaches so far in all of this.

MCCARTHY: Well, I think what the latest polling that you've even shown, where more than 60 percent of Americans are opposed to this, I think it would move both parties to come together. And one thing I would see is a couple of different things.

The number one raising cost of health care is the lack of tort reform, malpractice reform, the studies have shown that. Going across state lines for insurance. You can do that with car insurance, but you can't do it with health insurance? The idea of small business able to pool together to get greater costs, greater ability to lower the costs.

These have all been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, ideas from Republicans, and it lowers the premiums from 10 to 8 percent. That is a direction different than what Obamacare in raising your cost.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you just quickly, and we're just about out of time, is immigration reform dead for this year? MCCARTHY: No. Immigration reform is going to happen. But it's going to happen in a step-by-step method. And I will tell you the president came out and supported that the other day, saying the role that the Republicans want to do, and Republicans have passed a number of bills outside of committee.

So we are in movement. We have a broken process, the immigration system, it is broken, it needs to be fixed, 42 percent of everyone that is here illegally came here legally. We need to fix this system.

SCHIEFFER: OK. The clock has just chimed. We have to end it there. Thank you so much, Mr. McCarthy. Back in a minute.

MCCARTHY: Thanks for having me.


SCHIEFFER: When the Senate Democrats rammed through rules making it harder to filibuster last week, they said the change would speed up action on important Senate business. I doubt it, but if they are really looking for ways to get something done, here are several rules changes they might want to consider.

Ban all fundraisers during the legislative session. If that happened they would no longer have to run home to raise money every five minutes.

Pay Congress by the hour, like most other federal workers, but pay them only for their time they spend legislating or in committee sessions. That would ensure that Congress would go back to a five-day work week, my guess is they would find ways to work Saturdays, too. I'd be willing to pay them time-and-a-half for that.

This would not only cause them to work more, but most would want to move their families here, which would force them to get to know one another, like they used to when they got things done.

Since Congress passes the laws that regulate it, we'd have to offer something to make them want to do all this, but what could that be? I know, how about if they like their current policy they can keep their health care.

Back in a minute.


SCHIEFFER: Well, some of our stations are leaving us now, but for most of you we'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including our panel and analysts and an interview with Clint Hill, who was Jackie Kennedy's Secret Service agent who was in the motorcade that fateful day in Dallas.

Stay with us.

SCHIEFFER: Well, welcome back to FACE THE NATION. David Sanger of The New York Times; David Rohde of Reuters and The Atlantic are back with us. We're also joined by Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel; and our own John Dickerson.

Kimberly, let me just start with you. You heard the analysis of the two Davids here. What is your take on it?

KIMBERLY STRASSEL, COLUMNIST, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, they imagine that this -- the intelligence officials think that this may buy us some time. I think the fear here, and this is the fear you're seeing expressed by the Israelis and others, is that this buys the Iranians some time.

Because this is what they have done in the past. In the past, whenever international anger grows, they suddenly come out, say they're willing to do some sort of negotiation, the sanctions come back down. This has allowed them to proceed with their program.

And it seems to be happening again here too. They knew that they are facing increased new sanctions, another round of them here in Congress. So suddenly they look as though they're willing to do something with the hope that the United States stands down on that.

It gives them the chance to get some relief, have some money again and maybe restart this -- some of their ambitions without -- and then going forward will be able to continue at any time. They're still going to be enriching.

SCHIEFFER: What's going to happen among Congress, John?

Because, I mean, you know, I see, even before this agreement was finally reached, you had somebody like Chuck Schumer, who is one of the strongest administration backers, expressing some reservations.

DICKERSON: That's right. The president met this week with senators in both parties, saying, "Wait, just don't create new sanctions while I'm trying to work this thing out."

The White House thinks that now they have about six months to work on this bigger deal. They think they'll be able to hold support together without new sanctions coming up. But it's not going to be easy. They're going to have some -- some tending to do.

You know, one thing that strikes me, Bob, is we're -- we look at this president and how he's pinned down on the domestic front. But presidents still have power. When you look at what he did this week, there's a security deal with Afghanistan, one of the promises, in 2008, that Senator Obama made, is he'd get us out of those two wars. And he also promised that he would negotiate with Iran and some of America's enemies. And so we're seeing that come to fruition as well.

So even though the president is taking some pounding on the domestic front, he is still having an influence that goes all the way back to the things he said in his campaign in 2008.

SCHIEFFER: David, you think that this -- you know, we heard Steny Hoyer and Kevin McCarthy; both the houses already passed stiffer sanctions. Mr. Hoyer is saying that he would like to see the Senate go ahead and do this but, you know, put in a proviso there that they won't go into effect for six months. Do you think it will be that easy?

SANGER: I don't think it will be that easy. But I suspect, in the end, they will probably let the president play out his gamble. And the gamble is exactly what Kim and John were -- were discussing.

The two options here, Bob, are to relax the sanctions a bit and hope that it creates enough of a hunger inside Iran that there's an appetite for more sanctions relief, which we're only going to get by dismantling part of the system, versus the approach that you see Prime Minister Netanyahu urging, which is raise the sanctions and just hope that Iran is going to crumble and give up the whole program.

I think that's a really, you know, tough gamble for the president either way. He's making the bet that he can push along this sort of reform movement. Now, if he's wrong, then it's going to be very easy to put more sanctions on. If he's right, I think his problem in Congress is going to be getting the vote, particularly before the midterm elections, to get people to take sanctions away. That's pretty difficult.

SCHIEFFER: David, there is no question that this administration is looking for some good news. But with Netanyahu coming out so strongly against this, how do you see that playing out in this country?

Because the Israelis, when they have a mind to, can -- can generate a little opposition. They can -- they can do a pretty good job of lobbying.

ROHDE: I think it's a real issue for the administration. It's unusual here. The president and Netanyahu have always had a bad relationship. When Kerry took this job, he played up the fact that he had this good relationship with Netanyahu, and that is not making any difference at this point.

So they're going to have a real problem selling this deal. You know, Kerry is -- you know, I think, in some way deserves some praise. He's brought some risk-taking to this administration. He's taken more risk than Hillary Clinton.

What I've seen is that, sort of, giving up his dream of becoming president has actually, maybe, potentially made him a better secretary of state. He's got something very rare and uncalculating in cautious Washington. He's really got nothing to lose politically at this point. But he's got to deliver. This has to deliver an actual deal or it's not going to really -- you know, he won't be delivering on the promise of diplomacy.

STRASSEL: Because the Israeli argument here, which is a very powerful one, is that the only reason the Iranians have felt willing to have this discussion is because the sanctions regime has built up to such that the pressure is huge.

You take any of that away, even a small -- I mean, Kerry was trying to suggest this is just a small diminution of the sanctions regime. But you take that away and do they still feel obliged to continue doing anything? And that has been the argument against -- the argument has been, if you're going to cease your nuclear program, then you should do it immediately and without any preconditions.

ROHDE: And there's a question about what's going on inside Iran. There's a very strong hard line there, the Revolutionary Guard, that wants no part of this deal and they want to go nuclear.

Is Rouhani, you know, and Zarif -- do they really represent a genuine liberal movement?

Can Obama help the moderates in Iran?

SANGER: You know, part of this, Bob, is a question of what your ultimate end game is. So, for President Obama, we heard him say, and he said again last night, that his end game is to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

The Israeli, the Saudi, the Arab end game's a little bit different. They don't even want Iran to have a nuclear capability, the ability to actually go up and just be a few screwdriver turns away from this. And that's why, if you're Obama, this preliminary deal is a pretty good deal. And if you're Israel or the Arab states, it doesn't do anything to get at that capability and it might enshrine that capability. SCHIEFFER: How -- how far are, say, the Saudis from having a nuclear weapon?

SANGER: We don't think they've got a nuclear weapons program. But they underwrote the Pakistani program, which was put together by A.Q. Khan more than a decade ago. And there's always been an assumption that, if they ever needed a weapon, they could make a deal with the Pakistanis to get one.

Now, you can imagine...

SCHIEFFER: What would they do? Do they just buy it?

SANGER: They -- they've already paid for it, under that theory, and the question is how would you get it delivered?

But this is something that U.S. intelligence watches like a hawk, as you can imagine. And at various moments, when the Saudis want to turn up the heat, they keep saying, look, if we think Iran is too close, we're not going to let be there a Shia bomb; we're going to make sure that there is a Sunni alternative.

SCHIEFFER: John, the president has the lowest approval ratings of his presidency. His signature program is now opposed by 61 percent of the people. Does this have any impact on any of that?

I mean, I consider the politics of this the least significant part when we're talking about preventing somebody from getting a nuclear weapon. But politics does play a role here.

DICKERSON: Right. Well, as Kennedy used... SCHIEFFER: And there is fallout.

DICKERSON: Kennedy used to say "Politics can get you hurt politically, but in foreign policy, it can kill you."

So it's more important on foreign policy.

It was interesting to see Kevin McCarthy say, well, he would hope that politics didn't get involved. John Cornyn, a senator from Texas, a very senior senator on the Republican side, said -- his first reaction on Twitter was, "It's amazing what the administration will do to deflect from Obamacare," which gives you some sense of the, sort of, supercharged nature of this feeding into the original domestic debate over the president's health care plan.

The president's approval ratings are low and, on the question of trust, there's been a case in the past where, when the president's approval rating has gone very low, like during the 2011 debt ceiling debate, people still trusted the president. That's not the case here.

In our poll last September, 60 percent of the country said they trusted the president; now only 49 percent of the country say they trust him. So that makes everything harder for him.

The big date to watch, of course, he's got one more week to deliver on this promise that the health care website will work. That's important not only because they need to get people out there and signed up but also it's another promise and it's another test of his credibility.

The White House says it's going to be working as promised in a week. There are not many people outside of the administration who think that's going to be true.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think that will happen?


STRASSEL: You know, I thought Steny Hoyer -- given him credit; he put his finger right on the question that is out there. He said, "And Democrats want this to be about claiming that the only problem here is a failure of access to Obamacare."

The interesting question, increasingly, and it's why you see more Democrats nervous, is that there's beginning to be a fear that in fact Obamacare is the problem, in that is, in fact, this law working exactly the way it was set up to work?

If you're going to cover a lot of uninsured people and people who are sick, the way the mechanics of this works is the only thing you can do is make a lot of people who are healthy and younger and who like their plans pay a lot more for their health care.

So you're going to continue seeing those cancellation notices come in, continue seeing people lose their doctors, continue -- and that's even the people who are getting into the exchange. That's what their finding there.

SCHIEFFER: John, I want to -- because we don't have much time left -- but, to our viewers out there who don't know, John's mother was Nancy Dickerson, who was a very well-known White House correspondent for CBS way back there.

And you talked this week about -- we're getting ready to talk to Clint Hill, Jackie Kennedy's Secret Service agent. But you talked this week about an amazing dinner that your mother had with the Johnsons the day after they came back to Washington from Dallas.

DICKERSON: It was amazing. She'd known Johnson since she worked up on the Hill, so they'd been friends for a while. He'd been watching TV that day, in addition to all of his other duties, and he saw her talking about whether House Speaker Rayburn had supported Johnson ever joining the ticket.

And she had said, "Well, you know, he might have." There was a lot of debate about that at the time. Johnson liked the idea that she said that Rayburn had liked it. Why? Because he wanted nobody to think that there was not a close relationship between Johnson and Kennedy.

So he said, "Come on over." When he got over there...

SCHIEFFER: And this was the day after he got back from Dallas?

DICKERSON: The 23rd, his first full day as president. And they arrived late at night. And he was -- he was trying to get in touch with the White House and the phones wouldn't work. And he said, "You know, we could be under attack," which he thought might be possible. He thought there was another stage in this, what might be a kind of a Soviet attack, a coup; he didn't know what. He said "We could be under attack and I couldn't get the secretary of state on the phone."

The next minute he's on the phone with his speechwriter's daughter, who has got her boyfriend there. And he assures the young man that everything is going to be OK, as if he was comforting the nation kind of one person at a time.

He gets off the phone, puts that down, starts talking to the television, worried that they're going to incite riots in the country if they amp up the talk of conspiracy. And so it was just a tumultuous evening in which the president is kind of taking control of his office, but also trying to just kind of figure out the new situation he was in.

SCHIEFFER: He really had this innate sense of command, didn't he? I mean, he -- from the moment he got on that Air Force plane to come back, and when he took the oath, he took charge.

DICKERSON: He did. And he was worried about how everything would look in terms that have question of continuity. When the phones didn't work, he said, I want to change that, but I don't want to change anything else.

In other words, I don't want to change anything from the Kennedy administration, I want that continuity to be there, I want to be a caretaker of the previous thing. He was always thinking about how it would look even in a private dinner party of a few people, how it would look that continuity with the slain president, keeping in mind already that night he was thinking about what his plans would be in 1965 after he had won re-election in '64. He was thinking a long way out.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, listen, thank you all for being with us this morning on this historic weekend. We'll be back in one minute.


SCHIEFFER: As we conclude our special coverage of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Kennedy, we want to go back to what happened exactly 50 years ago today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the basement floor of the Dallas City Hall, and that's a scuffle on the basement floor, it seems...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has been shot. Oswald has been shot.


SCHIEFFER: Joining us now, Jackie Kennedy's Secret Service agent, Clint Hill, author of the new book "Five Days in November."

Mr. Hill, thank you so much for being with us. Well, when that happened, when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald that Sunday, you were already back in Washington, because President Johnson, Mrs. Kennedy, all of you had gone back on Air Force One.

When you got back to Washington, what did the Secret Service -- what was your reaction to hearing that Lee Harvey Oswald had been killed?

CLINT HILL, AUTHOR, "FIVE DAYS IN NOVEMBER": Well, we didn't find that out until somewhat later that day because just as he was being killed we were in the process of accompanying Mrs. Kennedy and the children and the president, Johnson, taking the president's body up to the U.S. Capitol.

So it was some time later, and then we were astounded that this had happened because we really wanted to interrogate him. We wanted to find out why. We wanted to see what his motivation was. And we never had that chance.

SCHIEFFER: You know, we now know especially through the reporting of Phil Shenon, who has a new book out, that it had been well-known that Lee Harvey Oswald had gone to Mexico in the weeks before this had happened. We knew that he had gone to the Soviet embassy there where he was politely turned away. And he had gone to the Cuban embassy and tried to get a passport or visa to go to Cuba. And they said, thanks, but no thanks, and sent him on his way.

We know from Shenon's reporting that the CIA and the FBI knew that as he had stormed out of the Cuban embassy he said, I'm going to kill President Kennedy, as if it was Kennedy's fault he couldn't get a visa to go to Cuba.

Did any of you on the president's protective detail know any of that when you came to Dallas?

HILL: We had no knowledge of Oswald in any sense. Nobody had told us anything about him.

SCHIEFFER: And do you have any idea why? I mean, you must have wondered about that as the years went by, that why this was never passed on. As a matter of fact, it's my understanding that this information was never passed on to the Warren Commission.

HILL: I doubt that it was. I had never heard that he had made that statement. But we had a good relationship with the CIA. We had fairly good relationship with the bureau, it was a little strained at times, but we didn't receive any information about Oswald whatsoever.

SCHIEFFER: I still find it very hard to believe, and in fact we now know through the reporting of The Dallas Times Herald and their publisher at the time, Tom Johnson, who ran across information in the -- it was in the 1970s when he found out that the FBI had actually gotten a threatening note from Lee Harvey Oswald, which he had dropped off at their office.

He had been offended, as it were, because they had come to check on his wife, who of course was a Soviet citizen, and he had defected to the Soviet Union.

It seems to me, if you all had known that, that Oswald had made these statements in Mexico, wouldn't it have changed the way you protected the president?

HILL: Oh, certainly. It would have changed everything, because the least thing that would have happened, he would have been put under protective surveillance. We would have had somebody watching him all the time. But we had no knowledge that he had any interest in the president whatsoever.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think we'll ever get to a point in America where these various agencies, which do such a great job, will do a better job of sharing what they know and cooperating with one another?

HILL: Well, I think it has improved. But I think -- but even through 2011 (ph) -- I mean, you know, up in New York, at that time the information was not being shared. So it has always been a problem, just hopefully it will get better. SCHIEFFER: I want to show you an iconic photo that we all know and it's what we all remember from the funeral that day, and that is little John-John standing next to his mom saluting the flag. There it is. To me that is the thing that sums it up.

But you have quite a story about that.

HILL: Well, it just didn't happen out of the blue. I mean, when the casket was brought out and placed on the caisson, and all the military out there saluted the president, Mrs. Kennedy leaned over and whispered into John's ear, I wasn't sure exactly what she said, but I saw John throw his shoulders back and salute his father.

Well, how that developed was early in November, Mrs. Kennedy came to me and said, the president is going to go to Arlington National Cemetery on November 11th to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.

And all the military are going to salute the president at that time, and I'd like John to go with him and learn how to salute and salute his father. Do you think the agents can teach him that?

And I said, sure, that's not a problem. So the agents started to work with him, day after day, but we had a problem, he would only do it with his left hand. Finally on that date, November 11th, he came with his father and he did it properly.

But then from that point on it was back to the left hand. Then the day of the services at St. Matthew's Cathedral, he got a little rambunctious, Mrs. Kennedy beckoned to the agents that were working with him, and they took him to a side room, trying to keep him busy so they did have him practice his salute. And he was right back doing it left-handed.

The marine colonel standing at a doorway, he saw what was happening, he walked in to the room and he said, John, this is how you salute. And he saluted. And I'll be darned, it stuck. Took that colonel 15 seconds to teach him what we'd been trying to teach him for a month. His worked, ours didn't. But that's how he learned how to salute.

SCHIEFFER: Semper fi.

HILL: Semper fi.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Hill, you're an American hero, thank you for being with us. We'll be back in a minute with our "FACE THE NATION Flashback."


SCHIEFFER: That terrible day in Dallas closed the chapter on the Kennedy presidency and thrust Lyndon Johnson in to the Oval Office at a moment of national crisis. That weekend, we came to expect something new from our president, we expected them to comfort the nation in time of grief. Lyndon Johnson assumed that role even before Air Force One returned to Washington from Dallas. And he began by trying to console the president's family.

That is our "Face the Nation" flashback.


SCHIEFFER: It's one of the most iconic photographs in American history, Johnson being sworn in aboard Air Force One with Jacqueline Kennedy at his side. After the plane departed Dallas, he called the late president's mother, Rose Kennedy.

LYNDON JOHNSON, 36TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mrs. Kennedy. I wish to god there were something that I could do. And I wanted to tell you that we are grieving with you.

ROSE KENNEDY, JOHN F. KENNEDY'S MOTHER: Thank you very much. I know you loved Jack and he loved you.

SCHIEFFER: In the weeks that followed, Johnson reached out to many members of the Kennedy family, but the Kennedy who showed up most often on the new president's call sheet was Jackie. This conversation took place ten days after the assassination.


JOHNSON: I just wanted you to know that you are loved and by so many and so much.

J. KENNEDY: Oh, Mr. President.

JOHNSON: When you haven't got anything else to do, let's take a walk. Let's walk around the back yard and just let me tell you how much you mean to all of us.

SCHIEFFER: Johnson offered similar words of comfort to the American people. In a Thanksgiving address he called upon the country to honor Kennedy through forward process.

JOHNSON: All of us have lived through seven days that none of us will ever forget. We're not given the divine wisdom to answer why this has been, but we are given the human duty of determining what is to be.

SCHIEFFER: But the Kennedy family's well being still weighed heavily on the president's mind. He called Jackie just before Christmas.

JOHNSON: You doing all right?

J. KENNEDY: Oh, I'm doing fine. Thank you.

JOHNSON: How is my little girl?

J. KENNEDY: She's fine. And John just set off this awful jet plane. That's the noise you hear in the background. (LAUGHTER)

JOHNSON: Well, tell him hello. And I wish all of you a Merry Christmas. And I wished I could do something to make it happer.

SCHIEFFER: Last Sunday, 50 years later, his daughter, Lucy Baines Johnson recalled for us her father's relationship with the Kennedy family.

LUCY BAINES JOHNSON, LYNDON JOHNSON'S DAUGHTER: There's an extraordinary letter that is in the LBJ library from Mrs. Kennedy to my father. And it speaks about other people assessing what that relationship was like. But she says that it must have been difficult for a senator who had actually mentored her young husband to find himself in the position of having to take second police in the ticket.

But how grateful he had been and she remained for his being willing to do so because President Kennedy felt that the country needed Lyndon Johnson to serve with the president and she was so grateful for that.

And how much it had meant to her that he had tried to reach out in every way humanly possible after the assassination and that's what I would hope that the country would recall. Because it was two people who loved this country with all their heart trying to do the best as they knew how to, one very young and vibrant and handsome with a small family, another much more seasoned with older children, but together they were trying to leave the world a better place than they found it.


SCHIEFFER: And we'll be right back.


SCHIEFFER: Happy Thanksgiving everyone. And thanks for watching.

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