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Face the Nation Transcripts November 30, 2014: Crump, Tillis, Peters, Cupich

The latest on the reaction to protests in Ferguson, Missouri and a look at the incoming Congress
November 30: Crump, Peterson, and Cupich 47:19

(CBS News) -- Below is a transcript from the November 30 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included: Benjamin Crump, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Dr. James Peterson, Thom Tillis, Gary Peterson, John Heilemann, John Dickerson, Michael Crowley, Archbishop Blase Cupich

NORAH O'DONNELL, HOST: I'm Norah O'Donnell. Today on FACE THE NATION: Officer Darren Wilson resigns after the grand jury clears the white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, as protests continue in Ferguson.




O'DONNELL: We will talk to the attorney for the family of Michael Brown, Benjamin Crump. Violence and confrontation swept across the country this week. And we will talk about the impact on race relations in America with Ta-Nehisi Coates of "The Atlantic" and James Peterson of Lehigh University.

Then we will turn to the congressional to-do list. Can anything get done in Washington? We will talk to two incoming senators, Republican Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Democrat Gary Peters of Michigan.

And the first major interview with the man the pope picked to lead Catholic Church in Chicago, Archbishop Blase Cupich.

Plus, our panel of analysts.

Sixty years of news because this is FACE THE NATION.

Good morning again.

We start today with the continued unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. Police officer Darren Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing after fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown. Since the grand jury's decision Monday, protests in Ferguson turned violent and there have been 126 arrests and an estimated 60 buildings were looted, vandalized or burnt down.

And late yesterday, officer Wilson resigned from the Ferguson Police Department, as he wrote: "It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal."

For reaction to this and for what is next for the Brown family, we're joined by their attorney, Benjamin Crump.

Mr. Crump, what do you think officer Wilson's resignation will do, if anything, to help heal the community?

CRUMP: Well, Norah, this was not unexpected news, I think, for the community or the family of Michael Brown Jr. We always felt officer Wilson would do what was in his best interest both personally and professionally.

And we think that he would not be very effective for the Ferguson Police Department, nor for the Ferguson community, if he had continued to be a police officer in that community. And so we think that the community all expected this.

O'DONNELL: Will it change at all your decision to move forward with additional legal action?

CRUMP: Certainly not.

Norah, the family greatly wanted to have the killer of their unarmed son held accountable. They really will look at every legal avenue, but they are still troubled by the things that happened in the grand jury proceeding, as well as officer Darren Wilson's statements, when he said that his conscience was clear that he would do the same thing over again.

They feel just that is just very cold. It's one of those things where you would hope that even if a police officer felt they had to use lethal force, that they would have some consideration. His mother and father don't think officer Wilson had any consideration for their child and they wonder if he ever had a conscience.

And so that's troubling to them. And we want police officers that do have a conscience in our community, not police officers that are cold as ice and see our children at demons and criminals.

O'DONNELL: What specific legal action will you pursue in the future on behalf of Michael Brown and his family?

CRUMP: Norah, the family will pursue all the legal avenues, potential civil wrongful death lawsuit, as well as look at pushing forward with proposed legislation for Michael Brown law working with the National Bar Association, NAACP, National Action Network, and others to have it where it is required that every police officer in every American city is required to have video body cameras, so it will be transparent we won't see this play out over and over again, whether it's in New York or Louisiana or Texas.

We see young people of color, especially young black and brown boys, being killed at the hands of the people to protect and serve them, and they are never held accountable, largely due to this process, this grand jury process that needs to be indicted. It's broken. It continues to yield the same results over and over again where they kill our children and they are never held accountable.

We have to change that entire process to have a special prosecutor appointed. And Justice Scalia spoke to the function of a grand jury in a Supreme Court decision. And what we saw that happened in Ferguson was nothing like what Justice Scalia and the Supreme Court said the function of the grand jury was.

O'DONNELL: Mr. Crump, it was extraordinary to see this grand jury in action and what happened afterwards, the release of these thousands of pages of documents and evidence from that grand jury.

If you look at the front pages of "The New York Times" today and "The Washington Post" today, they did analysis of all of those thousands of pages of documents, and they put together questions about whether Michael Brown was charging the officer or whether he was giving up and surrendering.

You have seen these documents. What does the family think happened on Canfield Street on August 9?

CRUMP: They think their child was running from the police and they thought that he was giving up.

And when they look at these released documents, it shows you just how partial this prosecutor's office was. Look at the way they questioned the people who came out and said that Michael Brown did nothing wrong and it was the police officer's fault, compared to the people who supported the police officer, and especially the shooter, Darren Wilson.

Look at how they let him testify for four hours and never cross- examined him. And this killer of an unarmed person has never been cross-examined. And it is so unbelievable to all lawyers you talk to that you wouldn't even ask him one tough question.

We had often said that, after we looked at this transcript, a first-year law student would have did a tougher cross-examination than this prosecutor's office did to the killer of an unarmed kid in broad daylight.

And so it further builds the mistrust that many in the African- American communities all across America have with this process and the local law enforcement and court officials.

O'DONNELL: You know, Mr. Crump, I'm no lawyer, but I have always -- I have heard the phrase, the grand jury can indict a ham sandwich.

And so we went and looked at the numbers. And, in fact, numbers compiled by the Bureau of Justice statistics show that, in 2010, prosecutors tried 162,000 federal cases, and grand juries declined to return an indictment in just 11 of them.

So, I know how you feel that this process was broken in this particular case. Would you have preferred a trial? And what if he had been acquitted, though? What if officer Wilson bad acquitted?

CRUMP: People can accept that more, Norah, when you have what we have set as the foundation for the American justice system, trial by jury, where it's all transparent, where all the evidence and the witnesses are cross-examined and vetted.

People think that is fair. People think that is impartial. But when you have this secret grand jury proceeding, where there is only one lawyer in the room and that lawyer is a local prosecutor who has a symbiotic relationship with the local police department and the local police officer and has no relationship or no regard for this young person of color, and then you see the results all the time coming out where there's exonerated, they're cleared, it's swept under the rug, and we're told to just go on and get over it, where we can't continue just to go ahead and get over it, because these are our children that are being killed. The statistics are alarming. Young black men between ages of 15 and 19 are said to be likely to be killed by the police 21 percent more than anybody else. And they are stopped three times by police more than anybody else.

We have to get police officers who are not cold as ice like the shooter of Michael Brown, but police officers who care about trying to have a relationship with the community, not seeing the citizens of low-income communities or minority communities as demons, as criminals, but as citizens that we all have to be together, in that we're all in the same boat and we have a vested interest.

Unless we that have this serious dialogue, we're going to continue to see this happen over and over again, and that Michael Brown and the souls of thousands of people of color cry out from the grave saying, we have to fix this system.

O'DONNELL: Benjamin Crump, good to see you. Thank you for joining us.

CRUMP: Thank you, Norah.

O'DONNELL: Today, we should note that 120-mile seven-day march of protesters continues from the site from Michael Brown was shot on Canfield Avenue in Ferguson to the Missouri governor's mansion in Jefferson City.

For more on Ferguson and the state of race relations here in the United States, we're joined by James Peterson, director of Africana studies at from Lehigh University. He is here in studio. And by Ta- Nehisi Coates of "The Atlantic," who joins us from New York.

Now, let me ask you, the president of the NAACP, who is leading this march, has compared it to the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march. Will there be change?

JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: I think, ultimately, we have to remain hopeful about having some change around some of the things that Mr. Crump was talking about.

Maybe this body camera law may be some progress. Revising and rethinking the grand jury process might be useful around these particular kind of cases. But I don't want to compare what's going on now to the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement is its own awesome history and its own sort of impact on American society.

Sometimes, we get so caught up in what the accomplishments were of the civil rights movement was that it obscures our capacity to understand the work that we have to do now. What is going on now across this nation, young people and people from all different backgrounds who are organizing peacefully and protesting peacefully around these particular issues, there has got to be certain set of outcomes for what is happening now.

And so we can't get too confused and confounded by what has happened in the past. We have to be forward-thinking, I think. O'DONNELL: Ta-Nehisi, we have the first black president. We have the first attorney general. We heard President Obama after the grand jury's decision saying, we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury's to make. Do you agree with that?

TA-NEHISI COATES, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, we have no real choice but to accept that it was the grand jury's to make.

We live in society where there is a process, and being law- abiding people, we have to follow it. But going back to your early question, earlier question about whether we can expect change, I have to say I'm a little skeptical of that.

I think police departments in this country represent a larger relationship between American society and black communities. And so the question to me is, what is Ferguson, the town of Ferguson, the black population of Ferguson's relationship with the larger community around it?

And I think it's all good to begin the conversation at the point at which there is a lethal confrontation between Michael Brown and officer Wilson, but why was officer Wilson stopping Michael Brown for walking down a street? How did we get to that point? We have some pretty good studies on the amount of policing that's endured by African-American communities in Ferguson and how that relates to how the surrounding...


O'DONNELL: Yes, Ta-Nehisi, my understanding, though, is that he had just received over the radio the report that there had been a robbery and there was description of a suspect, and that when Michael Brown walked by, he fit that description, and that's why he stopped him on that particular case.

PETERSON: See, some of that is unclear.


COATES: Yes. No, my understanding is that he was actually walking in the middle of the street, and he hadn't put that together yet.


COATES: Am I correct?

PETERSON: Well, there's confusion, because officer Wilson in the grand jury says he connects those two things. The chief of police of Ferguson actually did not connect those two things.

And so this is why you have to have a transparent trial by jury. And I agree with Ta-Nehisi Coates that we can't be too hopeful about change because of the structural things that are in place. And the long, hard work that has to happen here, what Ta-Nehisi is talking about in terms of police stops and the bias in the system is thinking about how racial bias informs all these...


O'DONNELL: So, I know you two know this, but one of the things that struck me, of course, Ferguson is 67 percent black. The police force of 53 officers, only three of them are black.

And so I went and looked across the country. This is so common. In fact, in three-quarters of U.S. cities, there are higher percentage of white officers than, of course, in the population.

Is this fundamental to what is at stake here in terms of the distrust of the communities and police officers?



COATES: That's a part of it, but diversifying the police department, I don't think will automatically cure it.

There is a district right outside of Washington, D.C., where you guys are, Prince George's County, that is known as having one of the most brutal police departments in the country. It's a majority black town. It's a majority black, affluent population there.

Black cops can be brutal, too.

PETERSON: Absolutely.


COATES: And I don't think we should get blinded to that. It's definitely a step forward, but it's not a cure-all.

PETERSON: It's not.

Again, we're talking about racial bias here. and, unfortunately, racial bias affects everyone. It's just that when you are choosing whether or not you're going to use lethal force, the consequences of it are oftentimes awful. And so that's why we have -- again, it's a long haul here.

There has to be a way in which we can train officers of the law to think less about using lethal force, to understand how bias shapes How they're going to interact with certain people of color and young people and poor people. And we have to train them as such. Without that kind of overhaul, we're not going to see the change I think that needs to happen out of this particular situation.

O'DONNELL: Ta-Nehisi, I want to ask you about something you wrote this week. You said: "What clearly cannot be said is that violence and nonviolence are tools and that violence, like nonviolence, sometimes works. Taken together, property damage and looting have been the most effective tools of social progress for white people in America." What did you mean by that?

COATES: Well, I meant that that's just American history.

The fact of the matter is, you can take it from the broader perspective of America. I think people have this idea that the American Revolution was -- like the tea party was an actual tea party, it was somehow nonviolent.

The fact of the matter is, the roots of this country are information a very, very violent. Enslavement, which is at the roots of this country, the black population of this country was enslaved longer than it's been free, that is basis of who we are.

The theft of land from Native Americans, that is the basis of who we are. When we talk about all the things that we love about America, democracy, freedom, et cetera, I don't think that we should lose sight of how -- the foundation of which those things were built.

And they were not built that nonviolently. That is not to say that looting is right, that looting is correct. But I think that when the government, which often acts violently towards African-Americans, turns around and lectures black people about nonviolence, we have a right to be skeptical of that.

O'DONNELL: I want to end on this photo that has gone viral. It's of a 12-year-old, Devonte Hart, who was in tears. It was at a Ferguson protest rally in Portland, Oregon.

And you can see this officer, Sergeant Bret Barnum, who is white, hugging this child. It has been shared more than 150,000 times on Facebook.

What does that say to you, that photo and how it's been shared so many times on Facebook?

PETERSON: I think the photo shows us that people are very hopeful and maybe a little bit naive about a better relationship between the African-American community and police forces that are charged with protecting them.

Unfortunately, a photo-op is not what is going to get it done. It's going to take the long, hard work of understanding how racial bias informs certain kinds of decisions, the representational piece that you were talking about in terms of law enforcement, overhauling in grand jury.

We're talking about structural change that has to occur. The photo is beautiful. And the reason why people are sharing it because it reflects some hope about a certain kind of situation. But we don't need to be concerned as much about hope as we do about the sort of nitty-gritty of getting down to the work of changing these systems.

O'DONNELL: All right, Dr. James Peterson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, good to have both of you here. Thank you.

PETERSON: Thank you, Norah.

COATES: Thanks for having me, Norah.

O'DONNELL: And we will be back in a minute.


O'DONNELL: And we're back to talk politics and the busy agenda facing the new Republican-controlled Congress.

Joining me now are two incoming senators-elect.

Republican Thom Tillis of North Carolina is with me here in studio. And Democrat Gary Peters of Michigan joins us from Detroit.

First of all, congratulations to both of you on your wins. Thank you for being here.



O'DONNELL: Senator-elect Tillis, I was there in North Carolina with you. You won what was called the most expensive Senate race in the country, more than $100 million. What do you think the people of your state got for that?

TILLIS: I think what they got is a chance to see different leadership try to get things done in Washington, to get Washington functioning again, working across the aisle, getting the economy back on track, worried about our safety and security.

I think that the American people did not give Republicans a mandate. They gave us a chance. They gave us a chance to lead. And I'm glad to be a part of that.

O'DONNELL: And they didn't give you -- if they didn't give you mandate and you have got to show compromise, what issue can you work with Democrats on?

TILLIS: Well, I think there's any number of things.

In fact, senator-elect Peters, I know he's got a passion around Michigan like I have a passion around North Carolina. We have seen a lot of manufacturing jobs go overseas. We have seen our economies not quite get back on track in terms of job creation. I think there is a number of opportunities for Republicans and Democrats to work together.

O'DONNELL: Senator-elect Peters, are you also hopeful you can compromise with Republicans?

PETERS: Well, I think we have to.

I think that certainly was the clear message that we got from this last election was about people wanting to see Washington work, having people come together and find that kind of middle ground to deal with the very tough problems that we're facing as a country. So, I certainly am encouraged, with senator-elect Tillis, in talking manufacturing, something that is very, very important to the state of Michigan, as it is North Carolina.

And I'm sure that we can find ways to make sure we're getting people back to work and really creating the good-paying middle-class jobs which are just so essential. And right now we have got a middle class that feels squeezed, that is falling behind. And we have to deal with it in Washington. And the only way we're going to deal with it is if we come together and find common ground.

O'DONNELL: I know there are some issues that you say you want to find common ground.

But, unfortunately, I think the Congress is going to start probably with the confirmation battles. The president now has two open posts in his Cabinet, not only for the attorney general, but also for defense secretary. Do you think there will be a confirmation battle over President Obama's new choice for defense secretary?

TILLIS: Well, I hope that the president puts forth someone that will work for both sides. I think it's a great opportunity out of the gate for the president to identify consensus nominees that we can all get around and support. Those are very important jobs. They need to be filled.

But they need to be filled with someone who can take in to account both sides of the equation, both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

O'DONNELL: Senator-elect Peters, as it appeared this week that Defense Secretary Hagel was pretty much fired from the Defense Department, are you concerned about how the Pentagon is being led and the fight against ISIS?

PETERS: Well, certainly ISIS is a significant threat that we have to deal with. We have got to make sure that we have leadership at the Department of Defense that is focused on that, and that the White House can work with. And so I look forward in the confirmation process to find that right secretary who is going to be focused on that issue.

Also, I'm also concerned about the nuclear ambitions of Iran. It is becoming a very, very dangerous world. We have got to have a Defense Department that is focused on these new threats and understand the significance of it. And that's why I think this confirmation process is going to be so important, because we have to stand together, Congress and the president.

This country is stronger when we are all united as one, and certainly the Department of Defense has to have the ability to work with everybody in a unified fashion.

O'DONNELL: To be specific, do you think -- and let me start with you, senator-elect Tillis, first. Do you think the president needs a new use of force authorization in order to fight ISIS? TILLIS: I think it would probably be wise so that you move forward again.

The president and the Congress need to find opportunities to show some way of coming together, and I think that would be a show of good faith from the president, and I think it would give Congress more confidence that they're a part of the process.

O'DONNELL: You would support one?


O'DONNELL: And senator-elect Peters, would you support a new authorization of force against ISIS?

PETERS: I think it's essential that Congress come to the table.

We have not had a classified briefing as Congress for quite some time now. I look forward when we get back into Washington to have those kinds of briefings. Congress needs to be intimately involved in these decisions. It's certainly a constitutional requirement.

And I think it is absolutely essential that we come together to show strength in the world community. And we are stronger as a country when the president and Congress are united, and I believe that we have to be a key player in that process.

O'DONNELL: Let's talk about the issue of immigration because of the president's executive action on immigration.

Senator-elect Tillis, your party has opposed the president's actions. Will -- then do you expect Congress to act? Do you expect now a Republican-led Senate will act and that the Republican-led House will finally act on issue that can work together with the Senate?

TILLIS: Yes, I'm afraid that the president's unilateral action is going to set us back.

I believe that what we should do first and foremost is seal the border. The Republicans and Democrats have both failed on this issue for decades. And one of the reasons why is I don't think we have stabilized the problem by taking credible steps to seal the border. Then let's discuss what we do with the population who is illegally present.

I think we're going to complicate it. We could end up having a contentious debate that could be avoided.

O'DONNELL: Senator-elect Peters, you are a member of the House, and difficulty getting some agreement with the Senate on the issue of immigration.

PETERS: Well, it is a source of constant frustration to me, because we do have bipartisan agreement. I support the Senate immigration reform bill, which passed on a bipartisan basis. We have organizations like United States Chamber of Commerce that support the immigration reform bill; 17 Republicans, including folks like Mr. Rubio, Mr. McCain in states that are obviously intimately involved in the immigration issue, we have a comprehensive approach.

We have an approach that invests nearly $40 billion in border protection, where you got the parties to come together. The Congress needs to act. Instead of wringing our hands about the presidential action, Congress needs to pass a bill. We have a bill that's been on the table for a year-and-a-half in the House.

I believe that if the speaker would put it on the floor, it would actually pass. We would deal with this issue in a comprehensive way. We need to move forward. If my Republican friends want to work in a bipartisan way and find common ground, we're already almost there with the comprehensive immigration reform. All we have to do is pass it.

O'DONNELL: All right, we will all be watching.

Senator-elect Tillis, senator-elect Peters, good to have both of you here.

We will be right back.



We turn now to our political panel.

John Heilemann is managing editor of Bloomberg Politics and co- author of the book, "Double Down," about the 2012 presidential campaign.

Michael Crowley is the senior foreign affairs correspondent for Politico. And CBS News political director, John Dickerson is with us, as well.

Welcome to all of you.


O'DONNELL: So we had a pretty interesting week this past week in terms of President Obama firing his Defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, as he submitted his resignation.

John, let's -- let's start with that issue.

Do you think we'll see the president name a new choice to be Defense secretary shortly?

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: So I talked to somebody who is involved in this process right now. They said it could help within the next several days. Some of the names we've heard are Jeh Johnson, who's the head of the home -- the Department of Homeland Security; Ashton Carter, who is the deputy secretary of Defense. What's interesting about this, so the criteria will be somebody who has power within the building, can -- can work within the Pentagon, but also is trusted by the president.

And tonight entire position of secretary of Defense -- this will be the fourth this president has had -- is such a fascinating one to look at. The extent to which the president wants to get his hands involved on a detailed level but then also no president can be in charge and in control of everything.

At his first meeting at the Pentagon, the president said to then secretary of State, Bob Gates, he said, I think of myself as parallel parking. In other words, I'm coming in, there are two wars going on, there are a host of holdover policies from the previous administration. I just want to fit myself in between what's going on.

But now you've had three secretaries of Defense all leave saying they felt micromanaged, they felt like the White House was controlling everything.

So the new person who comes in has to figure out whether they're going to have autonomy or whether they're going to be seen just as a puppet of the president.

O'DONNELL: Michael, I mean is this sort of bellyaching by people who don't like, you know, the process that goes on?

Or is there -- is it -- is the process really dysfunctional?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, SENIOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Well, I think it's some of both. And what you've seen is a gradual centralization of foreign policy, not just national security and military strategy, but foreign policy writ large in this White House, to a degree that a lot of people say is unprecedented, where a few people in the White House and the National Security Council right now, specifically, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough, who has a foreign policy background, really have their hands on the controls here in a way that drives people in the outer orbit a little bit crazy.

But this has been true since the beginning of this presidency. I mean people had the same gripes about, for instance, Rice's predecessor, Tom Donilon.

I think it's exacerbated, as one of my sources told me in my reporting, whenever the Pentagon is involved in military action, they -- they want total autonomy and any White House role drives them a little bit crazy.

And so the more airstrikes we're doing, the more of that kind of complaining you're going to hear.

O'DONNELL: John, the -- the Associated Press had a wonderful story essentially about this alleged micromanagement by the White House of the Pentagon, saying that when Bob Gates first went over to Afghanistan, went to the special operations command, that he saw that there was a phone line that went directly back to the White House, essentially bypassing the chain of command and that he ripped the phone line out and he said if the White House wants to talk to anybody, they can go through me first.

Is this, you know, about personality or is this really affecting policy, like a real policy on -- on Syria, as some have charged?

JOHN HEILEMANN, MANAGING EDITOR, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: Well, I think, look, first of all, everything that Mike said, I think, is really true. This is not just in foreign policy, but in general in this White House, this is an unusually close team around the president. The president -- we've observed this over the course of the last six years.

In all areas, the president likes to have a small number of advisers. He likes to have people who he trusts close to him.

Anyone who is outside that inner circle has a hard time getting things done. And that's been the case for all three of these secretaries of Defense, all of whom were people of -- of great -- have great resumes, have great stature, but Bob Gates, Leon Panetta and now Chuck Hagel all had a hard time making their way into that Obama inner circle and having his kind of trust.

I think there -- there's -- there's also this macro picture. This is a really the -- managing the Pentagon is maybe not the most monstrous challenge for anybody ever in the cabinet. And right now, when foreign policy and national security is going so strikingly awry, I think that the greatest Defense secretary ever would have had a hard time satisfying all the constituencies involved, at the Pentagon, in the White House and on the world stage.

O'DONNELL: So if -- if someone like Ashton Carter is named to be Defense secretary, would he be someone who works closely with the White House in terms of their micromanaging?

Is he going to want more autonomy?

DICKERSON: I mean what's sort of the calculus that's going on?

They'll all want autonomy because they won't be able to work within the institution of the Pentagon unless they're seen as having autonomy. They don't want to...

O'DONNELL: And he's been a number two at the Pentagon.

DICKERSON: Right. And...

O'DONNELL: He -- he's grown up at the the Pentagon.

DICKERSON: And he also is in charge of weapons procurement. He knows the budgets. And so budgets are a big part of this, both in terms of who gets what they want within the building, but, also in terms of what the administration wants to do. It's the less sexy part of this, but it's an important part of it.

And I think one part about micromanaging here is all presidents want to micromanage...


DICKERSON: -- in part, because they're the ones who get blamed in the end.


DICKERSON: And so when something happens and it's, well, the president was asleep at the switch, they have to be able to say, well, if I'm going to get blamed for being asleep at the switch, I'd better be at the switch.

The problem is, you can't be at all switches because that diminishes the power of the person you've tried to empower to do things.

O'DONNELL: Yes, Michael, what's wrong with that?

What's wrong with having control with the president saying I want it done this way and then policy being very clear?


O'DONNELL: I mean how is it affecting the policy against ISIS, the policy in Syria?

CROWLEY: That's what you hear back. I had a long conversation with a senior, very smart Pentagon official a couple of days ago, who essentially said, you guys in the press are obsessed with this micromanaging. There's a lot of meetings. It's pretty annoying. It chews up huge amounts of staff time and drives us a little crazy.

But at the end of the day, show me the connection from A to B, that it's screwing up our policy.

Now, that said, the policy needs more clarity right now. I mean I think there's a consensus, even within that inner circle of the president's, that we're not exactly sure how our strategy to defeat ISIS intersects with the Syrian civil war writ large, Bashar al-Assad, are we going to defend these rebel forces that we're training up to -- to take on the Syrian regime if Assad starts dropping barrel bombs on them?

Is -- if we have a new authorization for military force, will it authorize strikes against Syrian forces if they're going after our rebel allies?

That's all not figured out yet. But it's not clear that that's because they're having too many meetings and Denis McDonough wants to call 100 meetings on every single question. But -- but -- but that would be the problem. But no one has really made that connection yet, I think.

HEILEMANN: One of the things that was really frustrating, I know to people in the White House, and in particular, the chief of staff, is that over the last year in particular, there have been a series of leaks out of the Pentagon, where stories have appeared in the "New York Times" and other places. And this is a time-honored business, right.

The Pentagon, people know how to play the press. And one of the ways in which they do that is by making sure stories get planted in the press that limit the president's ability to maneuver on these issues, right?

O'DONNELL: I can remember this on the troop drawdown in Afghanistan, how many forces to leave in Afghanistan.

HEILEMANN: And you've seen this on the ISIS thing. You've seen this in Syria, where stories have come out at pivotal moments in the debate that have clearly come from within the military that have been meaning to set the framework for what is within the realm of the possible.

And one of the things they -- I think they felt very strongly in the White House was that Chuck Hagel was -- did not do a great job in -- from their point of view, at containing that. The fact that he didn't have the kind of institutional knowledge of the Pentagon was a huge hindrance for him.

Whatever else you think about Chuck Hagel, you -- in order to tame the Pentagon, which is part of what the Defense secretary has to do, on behalf of the administration, you need to know the building. And he didn't really know the building and Ash Carter may know it better and have a better chance at doing that.

CROWLEY: He definitely knows it better and was effectively running the place when he was under Hagel.

DICKERSON: And another important thing that you brought up in the panel with the senators is this person is going to have to get confirmed. And Ashton Carter, when he left the Pentagon, John McCain, the incoming, probably, chairman of Armed Services Committee, said glowing things about him. That's helpful for an administration that's going to be trying to get somebody through.

O'DONNELL: Let's talk -- let's turn to some of the challenges that President Obama is facing with these final two years in office.

First, of course, is -- is Ferguson, John. And I know you were down there.

Should the president go to Ferguson?

Do you think he'll go there? HEILEMANN: Yes, I think he should go. I don't know if he will go. I'm surprised he hasn't gone already. I think it's one of these cases where the president has walked a bi -- a self-imposed tightrope, if you can have such a thing, on matters of race, pretty much through the entire six years he's been in office.

He's no longer facing reelection. He should be freed from political constraints where he can go and speak his heart.

I actually think what the president has been on the issue has been kind of in the re--- relatively in the right place, but the power involved in going and addressing what are a really complex and volatile set of issues that he is uniquely positioned to talk -- to speak to -- the power of him going and doing that in that community, beyond the value that it would have to community itself, which I think it would really have a great value to the community, that it would help to soothe some of what's gone on there.

But in terms of the issue in the country -- because this is not just a Ferguson issue, it's an issue that extends...


HEILEMANN: -- to the relations between African-Americans and police departments around the country, I think he could make a powerful, nuanced, careful case in a way no one else could, and it would be most powerful done from there.

DICKERSON: The challenge, of course, as you say, is for the president to get it, to make that nuanced case, to be in a position to speak where he's not seen as an advocate for one of the two sides, either law enforcement or the protesters.

And they're trying to balance, you know, the problem he had the very night that it happened, which is speaking in a measured and deliberate way about the systemic issues that were happening long before the confrontation on the street that led to this and how can you even have that conversation while there's still smoldering going on?

On the other hand, if you don't speak to the moment, then it dissipates and you're...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You miss the moment.

HEILEMANN: You miss the moment. And that's always been a challenge for this president. And on this issue of race, of course, he has a particular set of challenges. But he has always been the question with this White House, and this president, when do you speak to the moment and when do you let the facts come in?

Because one of the great challenges in all public discourse right now is too much heated, fast talk that bends everything out of shape. He's always seen himself as the person who can fly above that and speak to the realities not the just hot chat of the moment.

HEILEMANN: I think it's for the -- people will say that one will remember that his -- that the speech he gave when he talked after the Trayvon Martin verdict was -- is kind of a high point in this area in his administration. And it was after the verdict and he was able to come in and make that -- the speech that he made.

Now that there is not going to be a verdict in this case, it doesn't seem like -- it seems like he could not have said anything that was strong before there was a ruling by this grand jury. Now he has opportunity to do that.

CROWLEY: But you know, I get the sense there are people who sort of see the president as having a kind of racial activism inside of him that he doesn't quite unleash. But it's also possible that he really is, you know, this figure we know so well on this issue also, very deliberative, sees both sides. It goes back to that speech on race he gave during the 2008 campaign when Jeremiah Wright first interviewed, and he talked about empathy for black America, but also for white America and that both sides have prejudices that he can understand. And you also get the sense that the administration is a little uncomfortable about the facts. I think like so many people, they just don't feel entirely clear on what happened. You could almost imagine that kind of compromise if he had to do some sort of photo op, I think he clearly believes there are big systemic problems. Maybe he goes somewhere that is not Ferguson where community policing is working really well, and there is sort of racial comedy, and he can hail a program that works in this way and talk about the larger systemic issues while kind of avoiding the facts of the case and avoiding the kind of violence and the looting we've seen that they are very nervous about it.

HEILEMANN: I think you meant (inaudible).


O'DONNELL: Yes. Thank you all.


O'DONNELL: Nice to have you. We'll be back in a moment with our exclusive interview with Pope Frances first appointed American archbishop. Stay with us.


O'DONNELL: Finally today, some are asking if he's America's Pope Francis. The newly appointed archbishop of Chicago Blase Cupich is shunning the mansion occupied by his predecessors and echoing the pope's call to care for the poor. I spoke with the pope's first American appointed archbishop earlier this week about how he plans to bring the pope's vision to Chicago.

ARCHBISHOP BLASE CUPICH, ARCHDIOCESE OF CHICAGO: I'm going to do what I've tried to do the 16 years that I've been a bishop of a diocese. And that is to get to know people. I think one of the things that the Holy Father is appreciated for by people is that he is speaking in a way that really resonates with their aspirations and concerns. What I find to be very interesting in the Francis affect as people call it, is that people do have a sense that the church is listening to them, and also that he is speaking to their deepest desires. And if I can in some way emulate that example then I think that I'm probably on the right track.

O'DONNELL: What do you mean by that, what to you is the Francis affect? CUPICH: Well, I think that people today find that the Holy Father is looking at people, addressing people in a way that shows deep respect. But also realizes that the world, our communities are deeply divided. And so, he is trying to make sure that we come together and not leave anybody behind. And I think that is something that I want to continue to do in my ministry.

O'DONNELL: Many people who have watched Pope Francis say that he emphasizes the pastoral approach. That Pope Benedict more emphasized orthodoxy. Is there a change in terms of emphasis in the Catholic Church?

CUPICH: Well, I explained it by nice phrase that I heard, and that is John Paul II told us what we should do. Benedict XVI told us why we should do it. And Pope Francis is saying, do it.

O'DONNELL: And so what specifically does that mean "Do it"?

CUPICH: Well, I think that, for instance, a lot of the things that Pope Francis is talking about in terms of economic policy have their seeds in many of the writings of John Paul II as well as Benedict XVI. He is making it more precise I think because of his own experience in Argentina and being very close to the poor on a day-to- day basis. I think that gives him a different metric, a different way of seeing what the teachings of the church are in real terms. He is putting emphasis on the real life of people and bringing yet the ideas to bear upon the real life situations of folks.

O'DONNELL: But you in your own background appear to have emphasized conversation other confrontation. You haven't been particularly confrontational with politicians who disagree with you on issues like abortion, for instance. Do you think the Eucharist has become too politicized?

CUPICH: Well, I think that is important always to begin with an attitude of dialogue. It's important to listen to people and it's very hard to have dialogue because in order for someone to tell you why they think you are wrong, you have to sit in patience to allow that to happen. The community -- as I say, cannot be the place where those discussions are fought, but rather we have to look at how we're going to deal with the tough issues of the day in a constructive way and as adults who respect each other.

O'DONNELL: So, when you say we cannot politicize the communion rail, you would give communion to politicians, for instance, who support abortion rights.

CUPICH: I would not use the Eucharist or as they call it the communion rail as the place to have those discussions or way in which people would be either excluded from the life of the church. The Eucharist is an opportunity of grace and conversion. It's also a time of forgiveness of sins. So my hope would be that that grace would be instrumental in bringing people to the truth.

O'DONNELL: What do you think of President Obama's immigration proposal? CUPICH: Well, the bishops of the United States, we're very much in favor of action being taken to protect people who need to come out of the shadows. It's been too long of a time for people to wait for comprehensive immigration reform. And so we see this as an important first step hopefully to jumpstart what's happening. My concern would be that we would have a policy and a procedure that would have a confidentiality provision because if people come out of the shadows and sign up and give their names and information they want to make sure that that is going to be protected in the future should the executive order change by another administration. So, I think it's very important that this be done very carefully but we applaud it as a good first step. But more needs to be done. And we encourage the president and members of Congress to get this work done.

O'DONNELL: I noticed that you said the work of comprehensive immigration reform is not important because it is on my agenda, but because it is on God's. What does that mean, God wants immigration reform?

CUPICH: Well, it means that the aspirations that people have for better life for their children in which they are reaching out in hope as many people who have come to this country have. Those aspirations were placed in their heart by God. We have to attend to that. This is not just something that they're wanting on their own, but God has always called us to a better life. Has always called us to experiencing how we can provide for our families in a better way. And I think that being a grandson of immigrants I feel that very deeply.

O'DONNELL: Same-sex marriage is now legal in 35 states with more battles in the courts in the coming months. What should the church say about same-sex marriage? Does it need to change at all?

CUPICH: Well, I think in Washington State where I was bishop for last four years there was a referendum on this very issue and I spoke very clearly about this. I said first of all that we cannot use this moment of public debate to say anything or do anything that would provoke violence against gay and lesbian people. We have to make sure that we're not part of that and we would condemn that. At the same time it's not just about gay marriage. It's about whether or not we're going to have statutes in our states that uphold and protect people who take the risk of bringing children into the world. People who as mothers and fathers coming together in their love, continue the human race.

O'DONNELL: Pardon me, do you think gay parents can good parents?

CUPICH: I think there are people not only who are gay but many single people are good parents. And I don't think that's the issue. I think the real issue is, should we have -- should we continue to have legislation that supports, protects and upholds those people who take the risk of actually bringing children into the world and preserving the human race.

O'DONNELL: I understand the church's teaching, but just to be clear, so you do think there should be legislation to protect the parents who are bringing children in to the world and caring for them that are in same-sex relationships?

CUPICH: Well, but no. I'm saying that the people who bring children in to the world are man and a woman in their own love that bring children in the world.

I do know that there are gay couples, there are others -- grandparents, single people who adopt children, who maybe even have children not from the act of love, but to care for children in that way.

And yes, I think that there has to be way in which we do support them. But I do think there is something unique about a man and woman coming together and bringing children in to the world, preserving the human race and providing that example as a mother and father, a male and female within family that also deserves the state's support and also protection.

O'DONNELL: What do you think about what Pope Francis is doing in terms of tackling the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church?

CUPICH: Well, I think that he's continuing the work that was begun earlier by his predecessors, especially by Pope Benedict XVI. He does see that it is a human problem, it's not an American problem, it's not an Anglo-Saxon problem, it's a human problem and it's not just catholic problem, either.

And I think that protection of children is very important.

O'DONNELL: But Pope Francis was the first pope to enact a commission led by Cardinal O'Malley to actually look at this issue and propose reform.

CUPICH: Yes. And I applaud him for that. I think that it's a great step forward and particularly the people that are on that commission who have many times criticized the church for the way that it failed to respond. And I think that the Holy Father has made a singular contribution forward.

But it also has to be seen within the wide spectrum of the work that was done by his predecessors to get us to this point.

O'DONNELL: There are many tough issues facing this country right now. There are deep racial divisions, terrorism and war raging overseas, a sluggish economy in some parts of the world. Do you have a message for people on this thanksgiving?

CUPICH: Well, I think that message I would have is first of all, be thankful for the gifts that god has given them, especially their families. And to allow the loved ones that they have who surround them in this time to remind them that all of us belong to a larger family.

O'DONNELL: And what about what is happening in Ferguson? Clearly there is still a lot of anger and a lot of distrust in Ferguson and St. Louis. CUPICH: Yes. It's a tragedy all the way around for the family of Michael Brown and I could hear the heartache in the voice of his father and family members who called for peace and tranquility. They want to respect this young man and realize that violence will only disrespect him.

There is suffering on all sides here. And we need to do a better job not just in terms of justice to make sure that those who are involved in law enforcement conduct themselves in a proper way, but also that we deal with the deep, serious social problems that provide a context of unrest whenever tragedies like this happen.

O'DONNELL: Archbishop Blase Cupich, thank you so much for your time. And happy Thanksgiving.

CUPICH: Norah, happy Thanksgiving to you and all of your viewers. It's good to be with you.



O'DONNELL: That's all the time we have for today. I'll see you tomorrow on CBS This Morning. Bob Schieffer will be back next week right here on Face the Nation.

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