Watch CBS News

Face the Nation Transcripts October 25: Trump, Christie, Nunes, & Schiff

(CBS News) -- A transcript from the October 25 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included Donald Trump, Chris Christie, Nancy Cordes, Anthony Salvanto, Devin Nunes, Adam Schiff, Susan Page, Reihan Salam, Mark Leibovich, and Robert Costa.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: It's been a big week on the 2016 campaign trail. And we have new poll numbers about shifts in both parties from the CBS News Battleground Tracker.

With the threat of a Biden presidential run and Benghazi hearings safely in the past, the Clintons celebrated in Iowa with Katy Perry.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm tired of the stranglehold that women have had on the job of presidential spouse.



DICKERSON: Campaign in Florida, Donald Trump was in a funk about the idea of a Clinton presidency.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have Hillary elected president, you're going to have country that's going to hell.


DICKERSON: We will talk to Donald Trump and one of his rivals, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. We will check in with the two top members of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff, about the Benghazi investigation, Paul Ryan as speaker, and get an update on the war on terror.

Plus, we will have a reporters roundtable.

It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

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

We have some new CBS News Battleground Tracker poll results from the key primary states. In the Republican race, it's all about Donald Trump in New Hampshire, where, at 38 percent, he leads the pack by 26 points. Ben Carson is next with 12 percent, followed by rest of the field in single digits.

In South Carolina, the story is the same. Trump is ahead of Carson by almost 20 percentage points, with the rest of the field, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, all in single digits, everyone else coming in behind them. But, in Iowa, the Republican race has tightened. Donald Trump and Ben Carson are tied for first place at 27 percent. Ted Cruz is the only other candidate to earn double digits at 12 percent. Marco Rubio comes in at 9, and the rest of the field is at 6 percent or less.

We will have the numbers in the Democratic race coming up in a moment.

We want to go now to Donald Trump, who joins us by phone.

Mr. Trump, in our polls, we show you up everywhere but Iowa, where you're tied with Ben Carson, and that plus some other recent polls in Iowa seems to have made you go after Mr. Carson.

TRUMP: Well, I don't understand Iowa, because, frankly, I just left. And we had tremendous crowds and tremendous enthusiasm. And, frankly, even to be tied, I'm a little surprised.

I know that I'm very honored by what's happened in New Hampshire and in South Carolina. It's amazing results, amazing. But I think that Iowa, it has that same incredible feeling. We had a rally there the other day, and it was so intense and there was so much love in the room. So, I'm actually surprised, very surprised that I'm even tied in Iowa.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about some things you said about Ben Carson. In Florida, you said:


TRUMP: I'm Presbyterian. Boy, that's down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh Day Adventist, I don't know about. I just don't know about.


DICKERSON: Mr. Carson is a Seventh Day Adventist.

What did you mean by that? TRUMP: Well, exactly what I said. I don't know about that. I don't know about what that is. I'm not that familiar with it. I have heard about it, but I'm not that familiar with it. That wasn't meant to be insult, obviously. It's just that I don't know about it.

DICKERSON: OK. So an expression of ignorance, not raising questions about it?

TRUMP: Well, it's a harsh way of putting it, but perhaps I could say it that way, yes, because I just don't know about -- as I said, I don't know about that. DICKERSON: You also mentioned Mr. Carson was controlled by his PAC, but he has received more small-dollar donations than anybody else. So, isn't that sign that he has got grassroot supports, and not that he's controlled by his PAC, as you have claimed about other people?

TRUMP: Well, the people running his PAC are highly trained professionals, I would imagine. And those people are using that PAC differently than you're supposed to use a PAC.

They are running Iowa for him. They are in there. They're doing all sorts of things that are totally different than what you are supposed to be doing. And Ben is in Iowa very little. He does not go to Iowa much. The people are doing leaflets. They're doing all this stuff. They are essentially campaigning for him in Iowa. And that's not what a PAC is supposed to be. It's not supposed to happen that way.

And, as you know, I have disavowed all PACs. I had many people setting up PACs for me. And we sent letters last week saying we don't want -- I mean, we respect them, we love them, assuming it's all on the up and up, because I don't know -- these people who run PACs, I don't know what they do with everything.

But, certainly, for the ones that are doing it with the right intention -- but we disavowed all PACs, every one of them, John. And every candidate should do the same thing. This whole PAC concept is fraught with problems. And I think you are going to see tremendous problems with PACs over the years.

And I am disavowing all PACs. I don't want anybody -- I'm self- funding my campaign. I don't -- other than the little contributions, where people send $7 and $50 and $100 -- we love that because that's investment, that's a real investment in our country and the campaign.

But other than that, I have totally -- I don't want any money. And I think that people should disavow -- candidates should disavow their PACs.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about another one of your challengers. Let's listen to something that Jeb Bush said recently.


JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I got lot of really cool things that I could do other than sit around being miserable listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.


DICKERSON: So, he says you're a demonizer.

TRUMP: Well, look, I'm trying to say it like it is.

His campaign is in disarray. He paid one person $1.3 million. And he's languishing way, way back in the PAC. But his campaign is a total disaster. He's paid people far too much. Now he's cutting everybody's salaries.

And as a businessman, if he can cut salaries 40 and 50 percent, why didn't he do it when he started? Why is he doing it now? Why did he hire them in the first place for so much? That means they would have worked for a lot less money.

But his campaign is in disarray. His whole thing is a mess. But he paid one person, as I understand it -- now, maybe that's incorrect -- but paid over a million dollars for one person. And it's OK, maybe, after everything's done, they get great a incentive, but he's doing very poorly. You don't pay that kind of money. So, he's got some problems.

DICKERSON: Let me -- let me ask you a couple policy questions here. We're about to have a fight over the government's ability to borrow money, the debt limit. Do you think it's an economic problem if the debt limit is not raised? Will that hurt the economy?

TRUMP: Well, I think what they should do is use the debt limit as a very strong negotiating tool to make other changes and to cut costs elsewhere.

The Republicans don't know how to negotiate, to be honest with you. I'm a Republican. It's embarrassing to watch them negotiate.

DICKERSON: But do you...

TRUMP: I mean, John Boehner said the other day he will not use the debt limit. He will not close.

Well, I will tell you what. When you say that, you have now given everything to the Democrats and to President Obama, because they have their way 100 percent.

DICKERSON: But let me ask you about that question of the debt ceiling. Do you think that, if it's breached, that that is an economic problem, leaving aside the question of negotiation? Do you -- because there's a debate about that.

TRUMP: Well, I don't want to say. And I'll tell you why.

We should use it as negotiation. And the problem we have in this country, we're so predictable, whether it's with ISIS or with Iraq or with the negotiation of a debt limit. Boehner should not be saying we will not close, because you can't negotiate once you say that. You have given up 95 percent of your strength when you do that.

So, I'm not going to say, but I will tell you, it's an amazing tool to negotiate, because it is a very, very -- it's fairly catastrophic if it happens. But some people are willing to go through that in order to win. And, by the way -- and I'm not saying they shouldn't be -- in order to win and in order to cut the kind of costs.

There is so much waste and so much fat. It's like -- it's like Jeb Bush's campaign. There's waste and there's fat. And he's trying to solve the problem. But, see, a person like that cannot solve the problem of the country, because the country has the same problem that he has.

DICKERSON: Very quickly, the last question, balancing the budget, it is the number one thing in our polls say -- the Republican say they want.

How fast would you, as a president, balance the budget? And we're running out of time here.

TRUMP: Well, I would like to do it as quickly as possible. And I will be able to cut far better than anybody else. And I will be able to bring jobs back far, far better than anybody else. Nobody will be close.

DICKERSON: All right, Mr. Trump, thanks so much for your time.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

DICKERSON: Taking the morning off the campaign trail to join us in person is 2016 Republican candidate and Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie.

Welcome, Governor.

I want to start with some of the tough comments you have made about Republicans in Washington. First, on the Benghazi hearings, you said they were ineffective with the secretary of state.


I mean, listen, the fact is, we should be talking about what really matters in that -- in that suit -- and this is the thing. Secretary Clinton says that she is not responsible for what happened there. She says other security professionals were responsible, yet she didn't fire anybody.

And I think what the American people dislike the most about Hillary Clinton is that she refused to be held accountable. Mistakes happen. Bad things happen when you're in office. And you need to be held accountable and stand up and do that.

She has no accountability and no transparency to what is going on. Everything has had to be dragged out of her. And I don't think they did an effective job in getting at that.

But here is the thing. Come next September, when I'm on the stage with her in the debates, she will have a former federal prosecutor asking her these questions.

DICKERSON: When you say she wasn't on top of it and her security staff, is that -- I mean, people said that about with you the Washington -- George Washington Bridge. They said, well, he should have known this was happening underneath him and it shows that he wasn't on top of things.

CHRISTIE: That's why I said it's about accountability, John.

Bad things will happen sometimes, and when they do, you have to be accountable. Within 24 hours of when that news came in New Jersey, I fired the people who were responsible.

What happened to Hillary Clinton? Why haven't those folks been fired? If it was really their responsibility, why haven't they been fired? She sloughs it off on something else because she doesn't want to tell the truth. And that is the biggest problem with Hillary Clinton, is that she doesn't -- she isn't forthcoming. She doesn't tell the truth.

And she doesn't want to be held accountable. That's not the kind of person we need in Washington, D.C., right now in the White House. We need someone who is willing to be accountable for what goes on in this country, what goes on, on Capitol Hill, and everyplace else.

DICKERSON: Republicans are trying to -- at least in the grassroots, are trying to hold their leaders accountable, which is what this debate has been about in the Republican leadership.

You have said, "These jokers in Washington, D.C., are talking who is going to get the big office."

But isn't this a big debate? In the grassroots, they say, in Washington, they're not representing our interests. And some of the people who have -- are in touch with those grassroots are having a fight over who the next leader will be.

Isn't that central to what the Republican Party believes, if their leaders match up with what the grassroots thinks?

CHRISTIE: No. What is central is doing something.

I mean, let's face it. Republicans across the board agree on certain things, the Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a market-based solution, that taxes should be cut and the tax system should be reformed, that we should be doing those type of things to end wasteful spending in this country.

Yet none of that stuff is being done by the Republican Congress. We gave them the House in 2010. We gave them the Senate in 2014, and nothing is being done. I will tell you what people tell me, John, in New Hampshire and in Iowa when I'm out there. Just do your job.

They don't care who the speaker is. I don't care who the speaker is. As long as that speaker is a person who can get them to do those central things that we care about, that's what matters the most, not the "Game of Thrones" stuff.


DICKERSON: One of the things that is being talked about is whether the new speaker or the existing one is going to use the debt limit as a leverage mechanism to get some of the things you're talking about in negotiations with the president. Do you think they should do that?

CHRISTIE: Oh, the problem is that they have such an awful record on spending, that they have no credibility on this issue, right?

So, they spend and spend and spend. And then they don't argue until the bill comes do. That's not what you do in state government. When you're a governor, you have to be on top of keeping your budget balanced all the time, which is what I have done for six years, cut spending over $2 billion, and vetoed every tax increase that's come to my desk, and balanced the budget by cutting over 800 programs.

It's about being tough, standing up, and doing what you need to do, not waiting until the bill comes due. That's like ordering a huge dinner and then arguing with the waiter about what the check says. They have got it all backwards. They should do it on the front end. Let's cut wasteful spending and let's get those things under control.

DICKERSON: You have said that you're going to get things done if you're president and come to Washington. Usually, that's in the context of Democrats. You have to deal with a lot of them in New Jersey.


CHRISTIE: But what about on the Republican side? You have had people, even John Boehner, saying that there are false prophets within the Republican side, asking too much, expecting too much. How do you -- how will you work with them when you come to Washington?


CHRISTIE: The principle is the same, John.

I mean, listen, members of Congress have a job to do. And what you need to do as president is to bring them together, to set the priorities, and then to get to know them, to cajole them, to threaten them, to hug them, to do all the things that you need to do to get them to do the things that have to be done.

That's what a president's job is. This president has been AWOL on this for seven years. He doesn't have a relationship with the folks in his on party, let alone the Republicans. And so what I have done in New Jersey, and what you have seen over the course of my six years is that I have not only worked with Republicans, and kept Republicans united, but I have also worked with Democrats to make sure that we got certain things done.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you this.

Governor of New Jersey, you deal with police and crime issues. FBI Director James Comey said something interesting. He suggested that police across the country may be more reluctant to crack down on crime because of what is the so-called Ferguson effect, named after the Michael Brown murder in Ferguson, Missouri. Do you see any of that in New Jersey, that reticence, because it's now become such a politicized issue?

CHRISTIE: I don't see it in New Jersey, because the leader of New Jersey tells the police officers to go out and do their job without exception.

DICKERSON: And they're doing it?

CHRISTIE: And they are. And you have seen it in a city like Camden, where, in the last three years, after we replaced the police department there, John, and backed them up completely, all the political folks, murder rate is down 61 percent in the last three years in Camden.

Yet you see murder is up 19 percent in Chicago and up 11 percent in New York, and the murder of a police officer. The problem is this. There's lawlessness in this country. The president encourages this lawlessness. He encourages it.

DICKERSON: Encourages it how?

CHRISTIE: Oh, by his own rhetoric. He does not support the police. He doesn't back up the police. He justifies Black Lives Matter. I mean...

DICKERSON: But Black Lives Matter shouldn't be justified at all?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I don't believe that that movement should be justified when they're calling for the murder of police officers, no.

DICKERSON: But they're not calling for the murder of police officers.

CHRISTIE: Sure, they are. Sure, they are. They have been chanting in the streets for the murder of police officers.

DICKERSON: Well, individuals have, but the Black Lives Matter is about...

CHRISTIE: Well, but, listen, you know, John, that's what the movement is creating. And the president of the United States is justifying that, but not only that. He hasn't backed up police officers from the minute he's gotten into office.

And we could cite instance after instance. And there's a lawlessness about most sanctuary cities. We should not have sanctuary cities in this country. The president countenances that. That type of lawlessness sets a tone. And then when you have liberal mayors like Bill de Blasio in New York, who are basically tying one hand behind the back of police officers, and then we have folks -- murder rate up 11 percent, police officers in New York City being murdered, let me tell you very clearly.

I will be a president who will back up law enforcement, back up the police officers, because I was a law enforcement officer. I know how hard these jobs are. And they need to be backed up.

When there are bad cops, they need to be prosecuted, like there are bad lawyers and bad doctors and bad engineers. They all need to be prosecuted when they do something wrong. But our police officers are putting their lives on the line every day. Let's back them up, so we can end the real violence in this country, which is happening in the streets of our cities all across this country.

DICKERSON: OK. Governor Chris Christie, thanks for being with us.

CHRISTIE: Thank you, John.

DICKERSON: Turning to the Democratic race, in an interview that will tonight air on "60 Minutes," Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, talk to Norah O'Donnell about their family's mixed emotions about his decision not to run for president.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I came home, and Hunter, our son, was upstairs with mom, with Jill. And I walked in.

And I said: "You know, I just don't think there's time. I have just decided I don't think we can run the kind of campaign we have to run to be able to win."

And I remember Jill just got up off the couch, gave me a big hug, "I think you're right."

NORAH O'DONNELL, CBS ANCHOR: Were you disappointed or were you relieved?


You know, like I said in the beginning, I thought Joe would be a great president. And, you know, I have seen his -- in the 40 years we have been together, I have seen, you know, the strength of his character, his optimism, you know, his hope.

JOE BIDEN: I'm glad we're doing this interview. I like to hear Jill say all this.


JILL BIDEN: So, I -- I believed he would have been the best president.


DICKERSON: You can see rest of the interview on "60 Minutes" at 7:00 p.m. tonight.

We will be back in one minute with new poll results for the Democrats without Joe Biden in the field. Stay with us.


DICKERSON: We're back with more results from our CBS Battleground Tracker with CBS News elections director Anthony Salvanto. And Nancy Cordes joins us from the campaign trail in Des Moines, Iowa.

Anthony, let's start with you. What is happening with the Democrats?

ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS NEWS ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: Well, let's start with Iowa, where it's been a particularly strong week for Hillary Clinton.

She's now gone into the lead in Iowa. She was down there. Events moves numbers. And Iowans told us that they thought she won the debate. But there's also a sense that her -- she's reestablishing a lot of her campaign themes here, because we asked folks, well, why are you supporting Hillary Clinton now?

And they say electability and they say experience, both things that her campaign has been trying to establish or reestablish. Seems like the debate helped that. Move on to New Hampshire, where Bernie Sanders is still up, she has cut into his lead. It's still a big one, but same dynamic there, experience and electability working for her.

And then move on to South Carolina, the early state, where she is up big, and here particularly helped by Joe Biden's decision not to run. We asked everybody who was supporting Joe Biden, and there were quite a few folks, what would you do if he decides not to run? What would be your second choice? And it's her. So, her numbers are bumped up a little more because of that.

DICKERSON: Yes, 43 points in South Carolina is gargantuan.

Nancy, you, though, are in Iowa, big doings there last night at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner. Tell us about that.

NANCY CORDES, CBS NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a unique event, John, because you have got thousands of the most active Democrats in the state all together in one arena comparing these candidates back to back.

Back in 2007, then Senator Barack Obama delivered a stem-winder here, and it really propelled him to the front of the pack. Now, that kind of speech wasn't Hillary Clinton's style back then. It isn't today. So, she kind of played it safe. She stuck to her stump speech. That didn't seem to bother most of her supporters. They even chanted some of the most familiar lines along with her.

And, interestingly, this is an event where the candidates tend to sort of sharpen their contrasts with one another. She really didn't do much of that. She focused primarily on the Republicans, trying to frame herself as the person who is most likely to take them on next year. DICKERSON: Anthony, there were glow sticks for Hillary Clinton. She had Katy Perry. This was an attempt to show huge enthusiasm for her campaign. Is that showing up in the numbers?

SALVANTO: In fact, it is. So, in Iowa in particular -- we talked last time about there being an enthusiasm gap between her and Sanders.

Most of her supporters that they're voting for her weren't enthusiastic. Now they are. Most of them are. Same thing is also true in New Hampshire.

DICKERSON: Nancy, you mentioned the sharpening that sometimes happens in these speeches. Hillary Clinton was not sharper, but Bernie Sanders was turning up the attacks a little bit, wasn't he?

CORDES: He really did. He went through this litany of issues, John, trade deals, Defense of Marriage Act, the Iraq War, Keystone XL pipeline, and talked how he had stood his ground from the beginning on each one of them.

And the clear implication was that Hillary Clinton had either waffled or shifted over time on each of them. You heard Anthony talk how most people felt that Hillary Clinton won the debate. Well, she came after Bernie Sanders much stronger than he probably expected. And so there was a clear course correction last night.

DICKERSON: And in Iowa, quickly, before we switch over to the Republicans, in Iowa, how is it going -- or in terms of the Sanders support, if Hillary is getting -- doing better, is he dropping, is he falling, is he leveling off?

SALVANTO: This really hasn't come at his expense. His supporters are still enthusiastic. And he really owns that Democratic issue space of concern about the economy, about inequality.

The reasons people say that they're supporting him are that they think he can tackle inequality and are that they think that he can partly maybe change Washington a little.

DICKERSON: Let's switch over to talking about the Republicans. What do you see in terms -- we talked about the horse race number. Let's think underneath that. What do you see in terms of the way the voters are thinking about -- Republicans' voters are thinking about their candidates?

SALVANTO: Yes, we tried to get a sense of the larger contours of this race, not just who you're voting for, but who would you consider and who would be a satisfactory nominee even if you're not backing them right now?

And it's pretty striking. For a lot of the field, besides Ben Carson, really, and Donald Trump, who is leading, you see very high unsatisfactory numbers for a lot of these candidates, in particular in Iowa for Jeb Bush. And that's so important, because first -- before you get a vote, you have to become satisfactory. And so that just makes a much higher hurdle for some of them.

DICKERSON: So, that's right. So, you have Jeb Bush.

This is -- in terms of their ability to grow -- or they just -- they have a harder time -- the only one who is really doing well who has a high unsatisfactory number there is Trump at 56. Does this create some room for candidates who have -- with whom voters are satisfied, even if they're not yet ready to put them at the top of the horse race poll?

SALVANTO: Trump's unsatisfactory number is because he is polarizing. You are really either for him or not for him at all. So, his supporters would be satisfied. Everybody else would not.

And in terms of room, some of the ratios here you see for someone like Marco Rubio, a little bit for Ted Cruz, people aren't necessarily backing them right now, but they say that they would be satisfied if they ended up as the nominee. That could be room.

DICKERSON: And also Ben Carson doing very well in the satisfied question.

All right, Anthony Salvanto, thanks so much.

Nancy in Des Moines, Iowa, thank you.

We will be back in a moment.


DICKERSON: We're back with the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes.

Mr. Chairman, I want to ask you. It looks like Paul Ryan is going to be the next speaker. Does that mean that the tension inside the Republican Conference has been solved?


And it does seem like it. There is even a possibility that maybe the one challenger that is challenging Mr. Ryan now may not even run on Wednesday.

So, we will have the vote in the conference on Wednesday, go to the full floor on Wednesday. We're hopeful that 247 Republicans will vote for Mr. Ryan.

DICKERSON: What do you think -- how did he do it?

NUNES: Well, if you go back and you look at what Paul Ryan stood for, he's really the guy that has put solutions out on the table to solve these long-term problems, like balancing the budget, fixing the tax code to grow the economy, coming up with real health care solutions.

It's that history that is in his favor. DICKERSON: Good. We will be back to talk to you in moment. We have got to take a commercial break.

Stay with us.


DICKERSON: Some of our CBS stations are leaving us now, but for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION,

Stay with us.


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

We're back again with intelligence chairman Devin Nunes.

Mr. Chairman, I want to talk to you -- still talking about this new leadership change in the House and what's coming up ahead. You've been critical at times of the very conservative members of your conference and they have been critical of House leadership saying that they're not making the most of opportunities to really push the president on conservative principles. So we have fight over the debt limit, raising debt limit, and then funding the government. How do you think those are going to play out in this new order?

NUNES: Well, it's tough to say right now because you have the president of the United States, who is still the president of the United States, and he really has not been negotiating with the Congress. So there's no question that we would like to get some type of long term structured deal, agreement with the Senate Democrats and the Senate Republicans and House and Republicans and Democrats, and a signature by the president of the United States. That is the best thing that can happen to this country if we're going to increase the debt limit.

And I know what your next question's going to be, do you think it needs to be -- do you think it has to be raised? Look, I do think it has to be raised. You know, this is a country, we have to pay our bills. We don't -- we do not want to default on our debt. But at the same time, the American people expect the budget to be balanced. They want the long term unfunded liabilities of Medicare and Medicaid and Obamacare to be fixed. And that's really what's causing this friction because you have a president who really hasn't wanted to do anything, and you have, I think, unrealistic expectations among the base of the Republican Party and it puts us in a very difficult position.

DICKERSON: How do you think Paul Ryan will be at managing those unrealistic expectations?

NUNES: Well, the best thing about Paul Ryan is, he really was first member of Congress to put real solutions on the table. I remember when I first ran for office, you had people that would say, well, we're going to lower taxes and we're going to fix Medicare and we're going to fix health care. Well, Paul Ryan's the guy who actually put it -- put these proposals into legislative text, into real bills that were scored. And he's run on those time after time. Even as the vice presidential nominee, he ran on these fixes to Medicare and health care. So it's those types of solutions that the American people expect the Republicans who have been given this huge majority, they expect us to have real, concrete solutions to the -- to America's problem.

DICKERSON: I want to ask you about the hearings last week, the Benghazi hearings and when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified. How do you think those played out now that they're done?

NUNES: Well, I think it's important for all of us to remember that Hillary Clinton is one of -- one of dozens and dozens of witnesses who needed to be interviewed. Hillary Clinton also is the one who decided she wanted to have the public display. The other people who have come in have done it privately. They did not want an open hearing. So clearly she had it in her mind to make this a political grandstanding occasions, which she did very well. She's a very good politician.

But at the end of the day, it was the first time that I had learned that there were e-mails that existed, or transcripts of recordings, about -- that she knew immediately that this was an al Qaeda attack. Now, remember, us on the Intelligence Committee, we knew the next morning, not necessarily that it was al Qaeda, but we knew it was a terrorist preplanned attack. And so it ends up that she knew that. So the question now that I would be asking if I'm on the Benghazi committee is, we have an emergency response team at the State Department that was not deployed, and yet she knew it was a terrorist attack hours after the attack. And I think that is a real problem as to why the people sat at the State Department and never left.

DICKERSON: Her testimony and then also the CIA best information to the -- to the rest of the administration was, at first Ansar al- Sharia claimed credit -- credit for it and then they withdrew it and that that's what led to this confusion. So at first she believed those reports. Then they were withdrawn and that's what made her change her position.

NUNES: Yes, so specifically there were different lines of intelligence. There were signals intelligence. There was word from the ground. The people that were on the ground. But then there was the open source reporting. When you take that in its totality, I think it's tough to end up with a position where -- that this was because of some video of -- that -- that said something bad about the Prophet Mohammed. I just don't believe that. And I think that's what the Benghazi Committee has to get to the bottom of.

DICKERSON: There was a raid this week in Iraq in which a U.S. serviceman was killed. What is your understanding now about what we're up to in Iraq?

NUNES: Well, we continue to have the same policy that's not working. There's just no long term strategy in place to defeat ISIS. We had a service member that was killed, a special forces service members that was killed. You know, this is a horrible situation. We don't want it to happen. But I think the family should know. What I've been told is that it was heroic actions that he took. It was the Kurds, our longest and strongest ally in the region, who requested our assistance to go in and stop 70 people from being massacred. And so the secretary of defense has said that he's going to do more of this. And I believe we should do more of this. But at the same time, we need to have a strategy laid out by the president of the United States that tells us exactly how we're going to kill and defeat ISIS.

DICKERSON: All right, Chairman Devin Nunes, thanks so much for being with us.

NUNES: Thanks, John.

DICKERSON: We turn now to the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who is also a member of the select committee on Benghazi. Congressman Adam Schiff joins us from Los Angeles.

Congressman, I want to start with the other party for you really quickly. What do you think having Paul Ryan as speaker will do for congressional relations with Democrats?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: I've heard he's a very bright guy. And Paul is somebody that we can work with. And I hope my saying so isn't going to hurt his chances. So it's a new start, but I think he's going to confront, frankly, many of the same challenges that Speaker Boehner did. And that is, as long as you have a very sizable number of GOP members that aren't really interested in governing but more interested in tearing down, who won't support things like increasing the debt ceiling that are necessary to avoid a default on our credit, he's going to still have the same problems, structural problems, within his conference. I'm not sure how that gets solved but, frankly, we need a functional majority party since they're the governing party. We need a speaker who can deliver his own members so that we can get yes to yes on some very important issues.

DICKERSON: I want to switch now to talking about the Benghazi hearing last week and your views on that. Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, when I compared Hillary Clinton's role at the State Department to his own issues with accountability, he said the difference was that when -- on the Washington -- George Washington Bridge scandal, when he found out he -- something was happening, he fired people, he was holding people accountable. He said that did not happen with Hillary Clinton. Why is it that that didn't happen?

SCHIFF: Well, you know what, as the Accountability Review Board looked into this, they found that the level of responsibility for the security was among the security professionals at the department. They, you know, frankly, castigated those that were responsible. And that, as the secretary pointed out in the hearing, there was a process to determine what the discipline of those individuals would be.

I think, you know, it's fair fodder for the political campaign to make an issue if they wish about whether these people should have been fired or whether the secretary had the power to fire them. But, frankly, that's not the job of our investigatory committee. We're supposed to be looking into what happened in Benghazi and -- and I think we need to try to separate that from the political issues.

We saw during the hearing, and I think this was really the main takeaway, that notwithstanding all these 17 months of supposedly looking for new facts about Benghazi, there was nothing new that emerged from the hearing. And that was, I think, acknowledged by our chairman. And after 17 months and four and half million, if we can't say anything new, if we can't shed any new light or be able to tell the families anything of particular significance that we didn't know already, it's very difficult to justify the continuation of this investigation.

DICKERSON: You said there was nothing new, but as Chairman Nunes pointed out and others have pointed out, there were -- there was some new information about what Hillary Clinton knew on the night of the attack. And that story was different, that it was a terrorist attack, than the one that ultimately dribbled out over the -- the next several days. So that seems to be important if we expect people to tell us the truth when they are our leaders.

SCHIFF: Well, it is important, but it's not new. And we did an investigation, that Devin was a part of that, in the intelligence committee, that looked at, frankly, each of these conflicting streams of intelligence as they came in. The early claims by Ansar al-Sharia responsibility that were very quickly followed with human intelligence, signals intelligence, open source reporting, that there was a protest. It wasn't until about eight to ten days after the events where we actually got the tapes from the compound that we could see quite demonstrably on those tapes that there had been no protests. But it was the -- the considered judgment, the assessment of the intelligence experts for that week until we got those tapes, that there had been a protest. And that turned out to be wrong.

But to criticize Secretary Clinton for relying on the best of intelligence that we had at the time seemed to be wholly inappropriate. Had she had spoken, frankly, in contradiction of what our intelligence agencies were telling her, that might be something to criticize. But the fact that, as she related, and as Ambassador Rice and others related, the information at the time, it was the best information we had. And the fact that that was wrong initially doesn't change the fact that they were reflecting the best that we knew at the time.

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

SCHIFF: A pleasure.

DICKERSON: We'll be right back with our panel.


DICKERSON: Now for some analysis from our political panel, Susan Page is "USA Today's" Washington bureau chief; Mark Leibovich is the chief national correspondent for "The New York Times Magazine"; Robert Costa is the national political reporter for "The Washington Post" and Reihan Salam is the executive editor of the "National Review." Welcome to all of you.

Susan, let's start with Benghazi, give us your bottom line after all of this, politically how this shook out?

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": You know, I think Hillary Clinton survived, did no harm after a pretty good 10-day period, where she was good in the debate and where Joe Biden decided not to run. She didn't provide the kind of moment or the kind of information that could create big problems for her down the road. And I think that's the best that she could have expected.

DICKERSON: Mark, you wrote about Hillary Clinton's campaign and her effort to show authenticity or what passes for it in a presidential campaign.

What do you make of just the theater review of this?

MARK LEIBOVICH, "THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE": Well, look, I think she almost at her best when she is under siege, in a weird way, when she has a compelling contrast, which the Republicans on the committee certainly provided.

She's been able to perform very, very well. She puts herself into good definition with Democratic voters. I think all of that will be the most lasting takeaway from that.

DICKERSON: Robert, Hillary Clinton had her back up against the wall but so did the chairman of this committee, Trey Gowdy, because of the comments of his own Republican Party made him so frustrated.

How did the Republicans come out at the end of this day of hearing?

ROBERT COSTA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Instead of spending the day at the committee hearing room, I was outside of the Republican cloak room, and a lot of House Republicans were frustrated.

They thought they ruined their opportunity politically because of the comments made by Kevin McCarthy. And they feel like it was a wash. Some of them got some moments in the spotlight that they can go back to their districts and say they took on Clinton.

But in terms of making it a moment for 2016 that is going to be remembered, they shrugged it off and said they didn't accomplish what they sought to.

Reihan, what is your view of the larger significance?

And what was missed here?

REIHAN SALAM, "NATIONAL REVIEW": So Secretary Clinton is very eager to take credit for the NATO intervention in Libya. She played a big role in that. Libya isn't a civil war. It is radiating crisis throughout North Africa. It was the spark of the refugee crisis, we're still dealing with. The country is paralyzed in the region. That is what we should be debating.

What was the logic of this intervention?

What has come of it?

And what have you learned from the experience?

DICKERSON: All right. None which was discussed in that hearing, I think that's right.

Let's talk about Joe Biden, who decided not to run for president this week.

Mark, he's gone on his way out of the campaign that he never joined. He made a plea for bipartisanship, said Republicans are not the enemy.

Will that be picked up as the standard for one of the Democratic candidates?

Or is that...

LEIBOVICH: Probably not.

I actually think, if you're Hillary Clinton and you hear that, you sort of have to take it a little personally, given that her answer in the last -- in the Democratic debate was that she saw Republicans as her enemy, which I thought was actually a bad moment for her and I think it's something that might come back to haunt her at some point.

But no, look, I thought it was a nice, conciliatory way to get out; I thought it was a -- I thought it was gracious, I think it's the right decision and I think that people are -- (INAUDIBLE) probably very happy (INAUDIBLE) that he's not running.


Susan, what did you make of Bernie Sanders at the Jefferson- Jackson dinner, as Nancy Cordes reported?

He's turning up the rheostat on the attacks on Hillary Clinton; it's not a full frontal but it's different than we've seen from him.

PAGE: It's definitely a new phase of the campaign for Bernie Sanders. I mean, this was much more critical than he's been before and on the contrast with he's made good decisions, decisions that have stood the test of time on things like trade and gay marriage and Wall Street. And she's had to reverse herself on a series of these issues.

We're also looking for him to do a big speech on what it means to be a socialist, which is something I think he's been reluctant to do. His advisors have told him he needs to do this in the same way that Barack Obama did a speech on race or that John Kennedy did a speech on religion. COSTA: The key speech, though, at that Jefferson-Jackson dinner for Sanders, you saw Sanders introduce his life's story, his career; it wasn't just railing against the banks. I think that speech is going to be remembered if Sanders gets the nomination or close to it, as a turning point where he introduced himself to Democratic voters in a fresh way.

DICKERSON: Because rounds out his...?

COSTA: It rounds out -- it's the full Bernie Sanders. He's not just someone who's taking a hammer to the banks; he's somebody who's had a long career. He detailed his battles. It was more personal than we've seen before.

DICKERSON: Reihan, what do you make of this speech on explaining socialism trying to get this idea across?

In other words, presumably because he's worried that that word is kind of -- can be toxic politically?

SALAM: I think that when you're looking at his case for socialism, for Democratic socialism, the really key question is this: we've seen northern democracies, societies that embraced systems that Bernie Sanders really likes. They are built on high middle class taxes. That's fair enough. It seems to work for them OK.

Are American middle class voters going to embrace that?

That is the speech he needs to give. If he wants to own up to that and run an election, if the Democrats want to run an election on the idea that we need much higher middle class taxes, they are very welcome to do so.

But that is the piece that has been missing. People keep dodging that issue, that if you want way more expensive public services, if you want to be very generous in these ways, someone has to pay for it. And it can't just be the top 1 percent.

DICKERSON: So it's a math problem, not a labels problem?

SALAM: Yes. Exactly.

Call it what you want.

LEIBOVICH: See, I think that socialism is potentially very toxic for him. I think that he's probably made a very careful calculation that this is something probably to avoid. And I think that's why he probably turns some of the attention to Hillary Clinton last night in his speech and in many ways was sort of aligning himself with Barack Obama, looking back at things like Iraq, looking back at gay marriage, I mean, looking -- sort of drawing a contrast that Barack Obama was able to do very effectively in 2007 and 2008 in Iowa.

DICKERSON: But when Barack Obama able to do that in 2007 and 2008, he was able to say policies in the future won't be handled well by Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders attacked her on LGBT issues. But she is in the right place on those issues now.

Is there a lot of extra territory that he'll say, I'll be this much better on those issues than Hillary Clinton would be?

PAGE: So he's a victim of his own success because his challenge has succeeded in moving Hillary Clinton to the left on some of the issues that he's been most identified with.

I think you can make the case that he actually believes what he's saying. And that when questions come up, you can trust -- this is a case of Bernie Sanders trying to make, when questions come up, you can trust him to make right decision off the start and to not be swayed by what is going to be politically convenient.

Now does that work?

I don't think there is in fact a huge amount of policy difference between these two candidates at this point.

DICKERSON: All right. OK.

We'll going to switch over to the Republicans. But let's take a break real quick so we don't chop that up too much.

Stay with us. We'll be right back in a moment.


DICKERSON: We're back with more from our political panel.

Reihan, I want to start with you.

In the House Republicans, it looks like Paul Ryan is going to be the new speaker, against his wishes.

How much will things -- how much will things change?

SALAM: Well, I think the key question is do Republicans trust him?

Do they believe that his heart is in the right place?

Are they willing to follow him because even if he makes a pragmatic accommodation here or there, they ultimately believe he wants to take them in the right direction?

And I think for right now, he seems to have won a lot of goodwill. So I think that that's an encouraging sign.

But to some degree, he just wants to prevent this group from spinning into chaos. And I think that he has a decent shot at doing that.

DICKERSON: Robert, how did this come about? We -- Paul Ryan didn't want the job. There were a lot of people in the -- on the kind of ultra right-wing of this party that were saying we don't like Paul Ryan for these reasons, but now he's got it and it looks, you know, pretty sewn up for him?

COSTA: He has built political capital over the past decade being the budget man, being a leader within the House of Representatives, friendly with the right, but also friendly with the leadership. So that when McCarthy fell and the hard right didn't have a candidate, didn't have a strategy, Ryan was standing there as, really, the lone person who could ascend.

And so he moves into this job reluctantly, but he's also trying to maneuver so he can keep the House functioning. He just hired David Hoppe, a long-time Capitol Hill operator, to be his chief of staff, an important hire because he's an insider, but he also used to be Jack Kemp's chief of staff, is seen as a movement conservative.

So we're watching Ryan thread the needle even before he gets the gavel.

DICKERSON: Susan, Paul Ryan said he wanted to spend time with his family, not do so much time fundraising.

But isn't fundraising by the speaker one of the last levers a speaker has?

In other words, with a member, they can say, look, I want you on this -- to be with me on this vote and I'll visit your hometown and do two fundraisers for you?

If Paul Ryan isn't going to do that, isn't he taking away some of his own leverage?

PAGE: I think that's right. It's one of the most important things a -- that the speaker does. And it's -- as you say, it's one of the chits he can play with members.

And it's not something you can delegate. You know, the number two in command, the number three in command, it's just not the same having that person come into your district as opposed to the speaker, who is, of course, third in line to the presidency and has a -- has a certain distinctive stature.

DICKERSON: Although he could take the kids on the fundraising. There's nothing more exciting than a fundraiser.


DICKERSON: Those crudites.

Mark, I want to switch to the presidential race here and talk to you about Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

Donald Trump says he's a counterpuncher, he doesn't punch until he's hit. But Ben Carson drives around the block to keep from hitting Donald Trump and yet Donald Trump is now on him on a variety of things.

LIEBOVITCH: I -- I think Donald Trump would say that he has been hit by Ben Carson given that Ben Carson has caught him in the polls in Iowa. So maybe he considers that a punch of some kind.

Look, I don't think Donald Trump knows exactly how he wants to deal with Ben Carson yet. I thought the Seventh Day Adventist remark was kind of curious. I mean I just don't know about them. I thought that might have been a proxy for him basically saying, you know, what's the deal with this guy, which I think is kind of a whispered question that I think a lot of people who have been watching him in debates have wondered.

I mean he's a very unknown candidate. You know, I think Trump is probably trying to cast some questions or raise some questions.

PAGE: I actually think that was directly aimed at Evangelical voters in Iowa. You know, Evangelicals make up 57 percent of Republican Caucus-goers. And by two to one, they favor Carson over Trump at this -- at this point.

In your own poll, in the poll that you -- that you put out today. So by raising questions about Seventh Day Adventists and encouraging Evangelicals to take a look at this religion, maybe they don't know much -- much about it either, is a way for him to make inroads among what might be the most important voting bloc in the Republican Caucuses.

COSTA: You take a look at the relationship and take a step back, it's fascinating. We're in late October and these two outsiders, amateur politicians, are dominating the Republican race. And in the "Washington Post" today, we take a look at this relationship. Just a few weeks ago, Trump was talking about putting Carson, potentially, on the ticket. But now, because Carson's caught up, as you said, Trump is going right at him.

DICKERSON: And what do you make of -- we've seen Donald Trump do well, but we've also seen consistent polls -- we have another one here that shows that a high number of people who would be unsatisfied with him. That number for Ben Carson is quite low.

So does Ben Carson have lots and lots of room to grow in the Republican field here or does he have his own challenges?

SALAM: I am a little skeptical because I believe that he is occupying that Santorum lane, that Robertson lane of being the kind of Evangelical candidate. And I think that it's going to be difficult for him to grow beyond that.

What I do think is interesting is this. Both in the kind of intra-Republican fight in the House and in the presidential race, the real cleavage is between those who are taking a kind of anti- immigration stance, which resonates with large numbers of party members, and those who are taking a pro-immigration stance.

If you're looking at those establishment candidates, which one of them will try to come to a synthesis, try to move away from that "Wall Street Journal" editorial page, kind of donor class position more in the direction of the populist position on immigration that resonates with the base.

The candidate who is going to do that is going to rise in the polls.

DICKERSON: Speaking of rising or not rising, as the case may be, the synthesis immigration candidate, at one time, was Jeb Bush. Of course, it was also at one time Marco Rubio. But Jeb Bush, in particular, has had a pretty bad week. He had to cut his staff. We saw that coming earlier in the show from him, a sense of sort of irritation.

Where do you think the Bush campaign is (INAUDIBLE)?

PAGE: It looked pretty peevish, I thought, in the clip that you showed. He's an -- in the three important states you polled, he's in single digits in all of them. The most important number might be the 57 percent of Iowa Republicans who say he -- they would be dissatisfied with him as a candidate.

And you can pass that with Marco Rubio, who is second most acceptable, after Ben Carson, only 27 percent of Iowa Republicans said he'd be unacceptable.

Talk about room to go -- grow. This is really fueling, I think, the sense that Marco Rubio is the candidate to watch. If there's going to be an alternative who has actually held office before in the -- for this nomination.

DICKERSON: Yes. And so you have the two former Florida friends, may not become very friendly.

Thanks, all of you, very much.

Stay with us.


DICKERSON: That's it for us today. But be sure to catch Gayle King's interview with Chris Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, on "CBS THIS MORNING" on Tuesday.

Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm John Dickerson.

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