Last Updated May 3, 2018 9:17 AM EDT
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MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS: Today on FACE THE NATION: a week of hits and misses for the Trump administration, as the North Koreans vow complete denuclearization following their summit with the South Koreans.
At a rally last night in Michigan, the president had a hard time trying to downplay expectations of his upcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not going to give you what's going to actually happen, because we don't really know.
AUDIENCE: Nobel! Nobel!
TRUMP: That's very nice. Thank you. That's very nice. Nobel.
TRUMP: I just want to get the job done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: Despite that optimism, there's chaos in the Cabinet, as the nominee for VA secretary, Ronny Jackson, withdrew after shocking allegations of mismanagement as the White House physician.
Plus, Scott Pruitt took fire from Congress for possible spending and ethic violations at the EPA.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I were the president, I wouldn't want your help. I would just get rid of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: But there is good news for the president, as Mike Pompeo was confirmed as secretary of state and set off on his first official trip as America's top diplomat.
We will hear about the plans for that face-to-face meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un from the president's new national security adviser, John Bolton.
South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy will weigh in on congressional investigations into Russian collusion and Cabinet officials.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will also be here.
Plus, we will have plenty of political analysis.
It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I'm Margaret Brennan.
We have got a lot to cover today.
And we begin with President Trump's new national security adviser, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.
Welcome to the program.
JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Glad to be with you.
BRENNAN: You're just about three weeks on the job now. You have the South Korean-led diplomatic breakthrough. Do you believe that Kim Jong-un is ready to negotiate away his weapons, or is just he trying to soften his image?
BOLTON: Well, I don't think we know at this point.
I think, if he has made a strategic determination that North Korea would be better off without nuclear weapons, then I think we have got something to talk about, and I think the president would be eager to capitalize on the opportunity.
But I think it's clear we're here where we are today because of the pressure that the Trump administration has put on North Korea, economic pressure, political, military pressure. I think this is widely recognized.
President Moon of South Korea himself has repeatedly said the opportunities for the Olympics, the opportunity for the North-South summit woman not have occurred without this pressure campaign. The prime ministers and Japan and Australia, the president of France, the chancellor of Germany have all said the same thing.
So, that's why we're here now. And I think it's up to the North Koreans to show us that they really do intend to give up nuclear weapons.
BRENNAN: Well, arguably, North Korea also walks in, in a position of some strength, economic weakness perhaps, but this nuclear program is further along than any past administration has encountered.
BOLTON: Well, because of the mistakes of 25 years of past administrations.
BRENNAN: But is it a requirement that Kim Jong-un agree to give away those weapons before you give any kind of concession?
BOLTON: I think that's right. I think we're looking at the Libya model of 2003-2004.
We're also looking at what North Korea itself has committed to previously and, most importantly, I think going back over a quarter of a century to the 1992 joint North-South denuclearization agreement, where North Korea committed to give up nuclear weapons and committed to give up uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing.
Now, we've got other issues to discuss as well, their ballistic missile programs, their biological and chemical weapons programs, their keeping of American hostages, the abduction of innocent Japanese and South Korean citizens over the years. So, there's a lot to talk about.
BRENNAN: Will the U.S. accept this invitation from the North to inspect their nuclear site, when it's taken down in May, as promised?
BOLTON: Well, we will see exactly what that is. The...
BRENNAN: Well, the South says that's what the North promised.
BOLTON: The North -- well, it's interesting, because we have been to this place before.
I hope it's a sincere commitment by the North. But I will just read you a sentence, if I may. "In a gesture demonstrating its commitment to halt its nuclear weapons program, North Korea blew up the most prominent symbol of the plutonium production Friday. The destruction of the cooling tower bore witness to the incremental progress that's been made in U.S.-led, multilateral efforts to end North Korea's nuclear weapons program."
June 27, 2008, "New York Times." Now, the self-same "New York Times" last month reported that President Trump is going to have difficulty with North Korea because new satellite evidence suggests that North Korea is expanding its plutonium production.
So, we want to see real commitment. We don't want to see propaganda from North Korea.
BRENNAN: You haven't seen such action so far?
BOLTON: We have seen words so far.
BRENNAN: No dismantlement.
BOLTON: We have seen words so far.
BRENNAN: Continued development.
BOLTON: They said that they are going to give up nuclear testing and ballistic missile testing. They haven't conducted any recently. That's true. That could be a very positive sign, or it could be a sign that they have reached a level of development where they don't need testing now.
We have seen this in other contexts as well. President Trump is determined to see this opportunity through, hopeful that we can get a real breakthrough. But we're not naive in the administration, and a lot is going to ride on this meeting with Kim Jong-un.
BRENNAN: So there are these headlines that -- from South Korea saying that Kim Jong-un would abandon his weapons if the U.S. promises not to invade his country.
Are you going to make any kind of promise like that?
BOLTON: Well, we've heard this before.
This is -- the North Korean propaganda playbook is an infinitely rich resource.
BRENNAN: But it puts the burden on the United States.
BOLTON: I don't think it does really.
I think that if you look at the decision to give up nuclear weapons as a real strategic decision that North Korea has to make, what we want to see from them is evidence that it's real, and not -- not just rhetoric.
In the case of Libya, for example -- and it's a different situation in some respects -- those negotiations were carried out in private. They were not known publicly. But one thing that Libya did that led us to overcome our skepticism was that they allowed American and British observers into all their nuclear-related sites.
So it wasn't a question of relying on international mechanisms. We saw them in ways we had never seen before.
BRENNAN: That sounds like you want inspections before any kind of sanctions relief.
BOLTON: Well, I think it would be a manifestation of the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons. Doesn't have to be the same as Libya, but it's got to be something concrete and tangible.
It may be that Kim Jong-un has some ideas, and we should hear him out.
BRENNAN: According to CBS' reporting, Singapore is the preferred location for this meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. When will you make this determination on location, and how important is it?
BOLTON: Well, I think that when the president is ready to announce it, he will announce it. We're still working on the location. We're still working on the date.
BRENNAN: He said within the next few weeks, three to four.
BOLTON: The president is ready to go on this, and so we're eager to come to conclusion, so we can do all the logistical planning. But I don't want to preempt any news that he may want to make. We just have -- we don't have it pinned down yet.
BRENNAN: Is there any update on the three Americans that are being held prisoner in North Korea? Are they essentially going to be held hostage to the success of this diplomacy, or do they need to be released before the president walks into that room?
BOLTON: Well, I don't want to get into the discussions that we have had. I will just say this.
These three Americans are at the top of the president's mind. And in exchanges between normal nations, these people wouldn't even be held. So, I think North Korea should look at this very seriously.
BRENNAN: This is a gesture, though, that they're not required to take before the meeting?
BOLTON: It would be a demonstration of their sincerity. We're waiting to see what their decision is.
BRENNAN: Can you tell us anything about their status?
BOLTON: Well, I would rather not get into the discussions at this point. But it's very much on the president's mind.
BRENNAN: I want to ask you as well about this other big decision upcoming on the Iran nuclear deal. You have been very public in the past about your skepticism.
And it's led diplomats in private to say and to question whether you are going to be a broker here who could actually present another option to the president. If the Europeans can pull off a side deal, a fix to the nuclear plan, do you actually think it's possible to keep it?
BOLTON: Well, it's the president's decision.
I mean, one thing people have to keep in mind is that I have changed roles here. When I was a private citizen, I could say whatever I wanted to. It was a great luxury. But that...
BRENNAN: In March, you said, "It cannot be improved and it is simply blue smoke and mirrors to think we can fix it."
That wasn't that long ago.
BOLTON: So, I don't -- what I said was what I believed. I don't back away from them.
But that's not my job now. My job is to give advice to the president. He will make the decision. It's his call. I'm the national security adviser, not the national security decision-maker.
And, in fact, on the Iran nuclear deal issue, I have presented him with options. And I will continue to do it right up until he makes the decision. I think that's critical for the proper functioning of the national security system. And it's my obligation to do that.
BRENNAN: So, if Secretary Pompeo can crack a side deal, you're open to accepting it and to keeping the Iran nuclear deal?
BOLTON: I think it's a question of the president being open to make the final decision.
It's the job of his advisers to give advice. He's the decision-maker.
BRENNAN: So, if the U.S. put sanctions back on Iran on May 12, does that mean the U.S. has withdrawn?
BOLTON: Well, there are a variety of things that could happen.
And I don't want to get into a discussion of what the hypotheticals might be, but certainly withdrawal is under consideration. The president has said this repeatedly. His views on the nuclear deal have been uniform, consistent, and unvarying since the campaign of 2016.
And we will see what happens.
BRENNAN: Well, the world is watching.
Thank you so much.
BOLTON: Glad to be with you.
BRENNAN: John Bolton, thank you for coming on FACE THE NATION. Hope to have you back soon.
BOLTON: Thank you very much.
BRENNAN: Last week, there were several new developments in the multiple investigations related to Russian influence in the 2016 election.
Former New York Rudy Giuliani met with special counsel Robert Mueller in his new role as a member of the president's legal team. Giuliani has promised to put pressure on Mueller to end his probe quickly.
In a phone interview with FOX, the president reversed himself on whether he'd get involved into his own Justice Department's investigations into allegations that former FBI Director James Comey leaked classified information when Comey gave memos detailing conversations with the president to his attorney and a friend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have decided that I won't be involved. I may change my mind at some point, because what's going on is a disgrace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released the results of their investigation into Russian ties to the Trump campaign.
Their verdict? No collusion.
Committee Democrats released a rival report saying the Republicans refused to investigate all possible leads and accused them of a cover-up.
As for the president, he responded to the week's developments in a freewheeling performance before supporters in Michigan last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Look how these politicians have fallen for this junk. Russian collusion. Give me a break.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Hey, what about Comey? Do you watch him on the interviews?
TRUMP: What about Comey? What about Comey?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: And to hopefully help us answer that question, what about Comey, we turn now to Congressman Trey Gowdy. He's on the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees and is also the head of the House Oversight Committee, making him a busy member of Congress.
So, we appreciate you being here on set.
Former FBI Director James Comey today said on NBC the House Intelligence Committee investigation that you worked on was just a wreck and the report was just a political document.
How do you respond?
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This way.
I have more confidence in the executive branch investigations than I do congressional. I wouldn't say it's a wreck. The witnesses we talked to, no one said that they had any evidence of collusion.
And I participated in almost every one of those interviews. And I'm the one who asked the questions. So, from the standpoint of where these matters are best investigated, I don't think it's in Congress right now, for myriad of reasons, one of which, Margaret, is when you start with a conclusion, which Adam Schiff did in March of 2017, you have evidence of collusion, and then you never, ever share it with anyone, that investigation is not likely to turn out well.
BRENNAN: You have asked Adam Schiff for specific evidence that he refused to hand to you?
GOWDY: He doesn't have it. So, he can't give me what he doesn't have.
Adam, before we ever started, said he had evidence of collusion -- and this is exactly what he said -- more than circumstantial, but not direct.
Let's lay aside the fact that there is no such thing as more than circumstantial, but not direct. There are only two kinds of evidence.
BRENNAN: There's also no such thing as collusion, you point out in this report, as a legal term.
GOWDY: There's not. It's conspiracy, which is why I always ask, do you have evidence of collusion, coordinating or conspiracy?
The crime is conspiracy. If there's collusion, even if it doesn't rise to a level of a crime, my fellow citizens want to know that. It's important to know that, even if it doesn't rise to a level of a crime. But there was no evidence of collusion, coordination or conspiracy that we found.
BRENNAN: Well, you do write about a number of ill-advised meetings, the Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. You issue a number of recommendations and warnings about the system simply not being sort of braced for any kind of attack or attempted attack here.
So, what should people make of this?
GOWDY: Well, the real disappointment is, we were supposed to look at four things. What did Russia do? With whom, if anyone did they do it? What was the U.S. government's response in 2016? And then the issue of the dissemination of classified material.
Unfortunately, the focus was always on that second prong, not just what did Russia do, but with whom, if anyone, did they do it? I asked a lot of tough questions on the Trump Tower meeting. I was tougher on Steve Bannon than any Democrat was.
So, when the transcripts come out, I think my fellow citizens are going to see the Republicans did take it seriously. But when all you're interested in is seeing the president indicted, then, yes, that investigation is not going to turn out well from a bipartisan standpoint.
BRENNAN: And you never got to interview Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser?
GOWDY: We don't get to interview anyone who is currently under indictment. Their lawyers should be fired if they allow us to interview them.
BRENNAN: So, it's a fair point to make, though, because clearly the Mueller investigation has a broader set of people they're talking to.
But the president, when he looks at your report, feels vindicated. Are you saying he should not?
GOWDY: I will be careful how I phrase this.
No report -- the best we can do is say what we learned. I can't say what's in the universe of witnesses we have not talked to. And I have always maintained I am awaiting the Mueller investigation. They get to use a grand jury. They have investigative tools that we don't have.
Executive branch investigations are just better than congressional ones. So, we found no evidence of collusion. Whether or not it exists or not, I can't speak to, because I haven't interviewed the full panoply of witnesses.
BRENNAN: Do you plan to investigate former FBI Director James Comey, who shared personal memos that he said were unclassified? The president now say they were classified and accuses him of a crime.
GOWDY: Congress is not well-equipped to investigate crime.
I have complete confidence in Michael Horowitz, who's the inspector general. That's who investigated Andy McCabe, and then he made a referral to the Department of Justice. I trust Mr. Horowitz to investigate. I have never accused Comey of committing a crime. I have accused him of doing some things that I don't agree with.
But in terms of accusing someone of a crime, a member of Congress shouldn't do that. And I have not done it.
BRENNAN: But does House Oversight have questions for the FBI?
GOWDY: Pardon me?
BRENNAN: Does your committee, House Oversight, have questions for the FBI?
GOWDY: I think Judiciary would be the better place to ask those questions. And we should, but we should not interfere with ongoing I.G. and/or criminal probes.
BRENNAN: The president said this week during an interview on FOX that he was disappointed with the Justice Department and he might change his mind and be involved.
Do those comments concern you?
GOWDY: It depends on what he meant by it.
If a president says that the Department of Justice is going to advance my agenda -- I think President Obama had certain ideas with respect to criminal justice reform that Attorney General Holder did a very good job of carrying out.
If that's what he meant, that I want a Department of Justice that is going to advance my legislative agenda, there's nothing wrong with that. I think there ought to be -- I have said it a number of times. Prosecutors should have all the resources and all the independence and all the time they need to do their jobs. And my position has not changed.
BRENNAN: So, I want to ask you as well about your committee's investigations or possible investigation at the EPA. Scott Pruitt testified this week. What is the status of Oversight's probe into his behavior?
GOWDY: We got documents Friday. We are scheduling witness interviews.
The natural chronology of investigations to me is, gather the documents, schedule the witness interviews, and then draw your conclusions at the end.
What usually happens with Congress is, we draw our conclusions on front end, and then we go in search of whatever evidence we want to validate that previously held wrong conclusion. We're going to do it the way I'm used to doing it, gather the documents, interview the witnesses, and then share it at the appropriate time.
BRENNAN: So, any timeline on that?
GOWDY: Things don't ever move as quickly as I would like them to. We had a little bit of hiccup scheduling the witness interviews. But I think we have reached a meeting of the minds, that we are going to interview those witnesses. And we got permission Friday to start scheduling those.
BRENNAN: Over at the VA, there was a lot of talk this week about a personnel matter, although there are bigger issues with the agency itself.
But Dr. Ronny Jackson, who is the president's physician, was the nominee, no longer is. He's still a government employee. He's been accused of all sorts of things, allegations of handing out prescription drugs, fostering a hostile work environment, possibly drinking while on duty.
Do you think, as chairman of House Oversight, that this should require looking into?
GOWDY: I think some of those allegations do warrant being investigated.
I don't think you want members of Congress deciding whether or not the prescribing of Ambien is within the course of a professional medical practice. In fact, I can't think of anybody less well-qualified to decide whether Ambien should be prescribed than a bunch of lawyers.
So, that's a medical license issue. Hostile work environment would be some combination of the Veterans Affairs Committee and House Oversight.
But this is a pretty good example of reaching the conclusion, and then going in search of the investigation. And investigations that your viewers should have confidence in do it in the reverse order. You go gather the facts, and then you level the allegations. That's just not what is done in our political environment
BRENNAN: But there have been questions about background checks, repeated questions, with other members of the president's staff as well.
On this front, he's still the president's physician. If any of these things are true, wouldn't that warrant looking into?
GOWDY: And I would hope that it -- to the extent he has a security clearance, it should have already been investigated.
If it deals with his medical license, there's an entity that should investigate that. If it deals with a hostile work environment or things intrinsic within that office, we have an inspector general.
There are number of entities who can, within their jurisdiction, conduct an investigation. The notion that all of that should be done by Congress, particularly whether or not medicine should be prescribed, I really can't think of anybody you would less want making that decision than members of Congress.
BRENNAN: Congressman Gowdy, always good to talk to you.
GOWDY: Yes, ma'am. You too. Thank you.
BRENNAN: We will be back in one minute.
BRENNAN: We're joined now by President Obama's Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who is now a private citizen, coming back here to Washington to talk to us.
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Thanks for having me, Margaret.
BRENNAN: Good to have you on the show.
I want to pick up with where we're talking with Trey Gowdy about this House Intelligence Committee investigation into Russian interference and collusion with the Trump campaign.
You were at the helm at Homeland Security when all of this was happening. In the report, DHS is faulted for not designating election systems as critical infrastructure until January 6, 2017.
Why did you wait until two months after the presidential election to do that?
JOHNSON: Well, first, I think it's unfortunate that the committee's report was basically Republican only. There was not a bipartisan consensus. And for the committee that oversees our intelligence community, that's really unfortunate. And I think Trey would agree with that.
You're correct. I designated election infrastructure to be critical infrastructure on January 6, 2017, just as we were leaving office.
I had raised the idea with state election officials in August 2016. And there was a lot of misapprehension about what that would mean. They thought it would mean a federal takeover, binding operational directives. And I told them it was not. It was something that was voluntary in nature, if the states seek our assistance.
But the priority then was to basically bring the horses to water and to encourage the states to come in and seek our assistance. So we put the issue of critical infrastructure aside, which was becoming a hot-button issue. And, in the end, we did get 36 states to come and seek DHS's cybersecurity assistance.
Then, after the election, I came back to the issue and designated election infrastructure critical infrastructure. I'm glad I did it. We should have done it years before. And I'm pleased that Secretary Kelly, after I left and he came in, basically reaffirmed that designation.
BRENNAN: Well, there's a lot to take into here in terms of whether we're prepared now and actions that were taking.
But we have to take a quick break.
So, stay with us. And we will be right back, more with former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
BRENNAN: We will have a lot more FACE THE NATION coming up.
And if you miss any of the show, you can watch the rebroadcast of FACE THE NATION on our digital network, CBSN, at 11:00 a.m. and then again at 6:00 p.m. Eastern time every Sunday.
And, of course, you can go to our Web site at the FACETHENATION.com.
BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION.
BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. I'm Margaret Brennan.
We continue our conversation with Obama administration Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Jeh, let's pick up where we were talking about this House Intelligence Committee report into alleged collusion and Russian meddling in 2016.
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Yes.
BRENNAN: In the report, which you've acknowledged you wish it weren't just a Republican paper because it is so serious.
BRENNAN: But the conclusion is that the intelligence community should immediately inform presidential candidates when they discover a legitimate counter intelligence threat to the campaign and notify Congress. And they fault the administration for not doing that when you were in office.
JOHNSON: Well, I think that's a legitimate recommendation. Any time a campaign is the target of a hack, a cyber hack, the campaign itself should be aware of that so to take proper action.
BRENNAN: Why weren't they? Why wasn't the Trump campaign?
JOHNSON: Well, I -- I believe that it's the case that at various points along the way, the right people were informed. Certainly the DNC was informed of what we saw and what we were seeing at the time. The FBI and eventually DHS was working with the DNC. But I -- I agree, that there should be a more methodical way of doing this. And this was not the first time, by the way, in 2016 that a campaign had been infiltrated in some way by a cyberattack. And typically law enforcement and DHS will work with a campaign to make sure they take corrective action.
You'd have to ask the FBI about the relationship with the -- the interaction with the Trump campaign. But I -- I don't argue with the recommendation
BRENNAN: You've testified publicly that when the administration did decide to make public evidence they had of Russian interference attempts, October 2016, one month before the election --
JOHNSON: October 7, 2016, yes.
BRENNAN: That's -- you -- you fault the media for not paying enough attention to it --
BRENNAN: Because of the "Access Hollywood" report coming out at the same time.
BRENNAN: But doesn't the administration bear some responsibility for not detailing it more, doing more background and sharing more information with reporters?
JOHNSON: Well, actually, the House Intel report, I think, does a decent job of laying out all the different considerations that went into that attribution. And we had to declassify a lot of very sensitive intelligence to get to that. And any time you do that, you have to be concerned about compromising sources and means. And so we said, as much as we could say at the time without seriously jeopardizing our sources and means.
And this statement itself was pretty blunt and pretty straightforward by saying that at the highest levels of the Russian government, there was an attempt to interfere with the ongoing political campaign. A number of us thought it was very, very important that we tell the American voters what was going on at the time before the election. And then, after the election, we came back in much greater detail to tell the American public exactly what happened.
BRENNAN: You wish that alarm bell had been a little louder?
JOHNSON: I wish that the alarm bell had been heard by more people. As you point out, the "Access Hollywood" video was released the same day. And the speculation over the next several days was whether or not candidate Trump was going to drop out. And our statement was literally below the fold news that day.
BRENNAN: I want to ask you as well about James Comey, your former colleague, former FBI director, his new book. He writes about you in it and a phone call you made to him telling him to be, quote, very careful when he briefed President-elect Trump about this so-called Steele dossier.
BRENNAN: Why were you thinking? Why were you telling him to be careful?
JOHNSON: Well, first, Jim has been a friend for almost 30 years from the days we were federal prosecutors together. And it's actually the case in Washington that when you're in a very senior position, like FBI director or secretary of homeland security, it's a lonely place and very few people, north of you, or south of you, or sitting right next to you are going to take the time to warn you if they think that you're about to do something that is treacherous, perhaps a mistake.
BRENNAN: Did you think it was a mistake?
JOHNSON: I was very concerned when I heard the plan for the director of the FBI to one-on-one brief Mr. Trump about this dossier. Jim and I had discussed over time the Hoover era history of the FBI. My only grandfather, and Jim knows this, who was a sociologist, has an FBI file of several hundred pages. So Jim and I talked about the history of the FBI. And he and I literally -- he literally finished my sentence when I said, there's a fine distinction, Jim, between telling somebody just so you know and telling somebody just so you know and don't mess with us. And I was concerned that the president-elect was going to hear the latter and not the former message. And Jim understood that. And I think he did his best.
BRENNAN: Would you have done the same thing if you were in Comey's position?
JOHNSON: That's a good question. I was not in the FBI director's position. But I was concerned about what he was about to do. And felt, as a friend, that I should talk to him, because I had met Mr. Trump during the campaign and during the transition.
BRENNAN: And you advised otherwise.
All right, well, Jeh, thank you very much for coming on and responding (ph).
JOHNSON: A pleasure to be on.
BRENNAN: We'll be right back with our political panel, so don't go away.
BRENNAN: It's time now for some political analysis. And we're joined today by David Nakamura. He covers the White House for "The Washington Post." Susan Page is the Washington bureau chief at "USA Today." Jamelle Bouie is the chief political correspondent at "Slate" and a CBS News political analyst. And Jonah Goldberg is a senior editor at "The National Review," and the author of "Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Nationalism, Populism and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy."
So, David, how late were you at the White House Correspondents Dinner last night?
DAVID NAKAMURA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Actually, I made it through the whole thing, Margaret.
BRENNAN: You did?
NAKAMURA: Yes, it was quite a moment.
You know, look, I've been at a number of these and there's -- she's not -- Michelle Wolf's not the first comedian to --
BRENNAN: This is -- OK.
NAKAMURA: Give a -- to make some of the, you know, sort of, you know, forward type of jokes that were made yesterday. But it was awkward.
I was at a table -- at "The Washington Post" table and Congressman Mark Meadows, a big Trump supporter, you know, a very -- a very hard conservative and he was -- he and his wife were not really reacting, trying to keep a straight face, when these things were happening. And so was -- you know, the rumor in the room was notable for the reaction even journalists had to some of the things that were being said.
BRENNAN: Because of how harsh some of the jokes were?
NAKAMURA: How harsh. I mean it was -- I mean I think the -- I think, look, I think the focus the journalists, including myself, is that this is supposed to be a celebration certainly of the journal -- the work that's done. There are student scholarships. It's something that, you know, we're talking about the First Amendment and that's what is to be celebrated. Sometimes I think these things can go over and sort of overshadow that.
BRENNAN: Susan, you used to head the White House Correspondents Association. You know, when the Trump campaign held this rally, which was kind of counter programming, out in Michigan, the announcement said that the Correspondents Dinner is for the fake news media to toast themselves and the president said why would I want to be stuck in a room with a bunch of fake news liberals who hate me.
Did last night buttress that narrative? Did it change it at all?
SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": I think any time you can have a spit screen and you have the president attacking the press and next to it you can have a journalist dinner with a comedian attacking the president in the very critical way the comedian did last night, that that is -- that is re-enforcing a narrative that is not helpful to us.
And the White House Correspondents Association does a lot of good work for the journalists who cover -- who are on the beat every day in terms of access and other issues. But this -- and we've had awkward dinners before, no question. But this is a different time. This is a time when this week a poll came out, done by Quinnipiac, that showed a majority of Republicans say the press is an enemy of the American people, not a defender of democracy. And that is an impression that we need to do everything we can to shows that that is not true and that is not the case and that we're motivated not by partisanship but by a search for the truth.
BRENNAN: Jonah, you -- you talked broadly about, you know, identity politics and populism and nationalism in your book. Where does this piece of it fit in, this narrative about the media?
JONAH GOLDBERG, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Yes, I think -- look, I'm not a huge fan of the Correspondents Dinner. I've been to a bunch of them. I think one of the problems is that it feeds into a narrative -- since that's the word of the morning -- that is really useful to populists to say, hey, look -- you know, once it started becoming sort of like an East Coast version of the Oscars, with the red carpets and what -- who are you wearing and all of that kind of stuff, I think the Washington press corps kind of lost track of itself. And I'm someone who has dinged President Trump often for his narcissism. The institutional narcissism that was on display last night from the Correspondents Dinner I think was a gift to President Trump. The crudeness towards Sarah Huckabee Sanders was a gift to the White House. It lets them double down on their, either elites are persecuting us story line. And it was -- I think it was a really bad note for the Washington press corps.
BRENNAN: Jamelle, some of the push back from comedians and others has been, well, the president had made personal attacks on people in the past and there hasn't been the same sort of horror by people in the administration that was expressed last night. Is that a fair defense or is this sort of bringing everyone down in terms of what the benchmark for behavior should be?
JAMELLE BOUIE, CBS NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I think you could say it's a little bit of both. I think it is fair to note that the president has -- is vulgar, is vulgar, has insulted private citizens. The president famously could not bring himself or infamously could not bring himself to condemn white supremacist protesters, which I considered to be vulgar. So given that, it's sort of funny to see defenders of the administration say, well, hold on, these jokes were too much given who they either work for or who they are defending.
I do want to make a larger point about sort of the press and its relationship to the American public and sort of the distain for the press, which is, I hope we can avoid some presentism here, that the press's problem of legitimacy with the public goes back decades. This is a long-term problem. It is a function both of mistakes made by the press corps and of an active campaign of de-legitimization against the press. And so to think that something like this dinner encapsulates or represents the problem, I don't think is quite true. I agree with Jonah's criticisms of straight up the spectacle of it all, but this problem of press legitimacy goes back a long time and I think we should be careful not to think of it solely in terms of events like this.
BRENNAN: David, the president's nominee to run the VA, Ronny Jackson, his personal physician, withdrew this week in -- amid a number of very detailed allegations about his behavior, drunkenness, et cetera. The president, last night at his rally, had this to say. I want to play this sound bite about the senator making some of these allegations.
The sound bite's not there. Let me read it to you. Jon Tester of Montana started throwing out things that he's heard. Well, I know thing about Tester that I could say too. And if I said them, he would never be elected again.
NAKAMURA: He's trying to make this an issue the way that Tester handled this. But I think the bigger issue here goes back again to Dr. Ronny Jackson. The amount of unsourced allegations that were sort of put out there I think was -- is now being found to -- not all these things are being found to have been true about what was said about Ronny Jackson. We don't know the extent of what was true, what wasn't true. But I think Trump's trying to make this an issue for Tester and sort of -- and make it a partisan issue, even though I think the bigger question was, you know, how much vetting did the White House do about this candidate and what were his real credentials on management, you know, beyond sort of even the personal conduct because he -- this is a doctor who did get high marks from President Obama in his administration, a bipartisan administration, but he doesn't have any management experience. And this is a really troubled agency. And for Trump, it's an important domestic priority. So if he can sort of make this a sort of a gotcha about Democrats sort of trying to undermine him, I think that's what he's going for.
BRENNAN: Susan, should we expect the president to be campaigning out in Montana? Does this now change the race?
PAGE: You know, he -- I'm sure Republicans hope he is because that's a state that went with him in a big way. But, you know, six months from next Tuesday is the midterm election and I think that there are those in the White House who are concerned that the president is not aware of even what peril he stands, if the House turns -- is controlled by the Democrats after the November midterms or even the Senate, how his life is going to change in terms of investigations and subpoenas, much less passage of legislation. And I think there is an effort by those close to the president to give him a wake-up call about campaigning in Montana, about adjusting some of his behavior and some of his rhetoric to help endangered Republican candidates in a lot of -- in a lot of races where you might not expect Republicans to be in trouble
BRENNAN: Speaking of some populism here, I want to come to both of you on this. But, Jamelle, I think it's the first time Kanye West's name has ever been said on FACE THE NATION, but he and the president had a back and forth this week. The president praising him and saying that Kanye has performed a great service to the black community by praising President Trump. And that prompted an online exchange about whether black people have to be Democrats. This is another artist, Chance the Rapper, out saying this.
What do we make of this? And I ask you because the president's talking about it.
BOUIE: Right. Right. I think that the best lens to take for this -- take to this is to use it as sort of a way to begin to understand political dynamics within the African-American community. I think there's -- there's a -- there's this idea of it because a large majority -- or the overall majority of black Americans vote for Democrats just reflects sort of broad liberalism within the African-American community. But it's more that for black Americans, and this has been true basically during every single period of American political history where they could participate fully or even partially, kind of a central judgment black Americans are making with regards to the party system is, which of the two parties is going to hurt us less? And then voting decisions go from there.
And so there are a lot of conservative black Americans. There's conservativism and everything is different than white Americans, but they're still conservative. But they don't vote for Republicans in this moment because they don't feel that the Republican Party is looking out for their best interest. Six years ago it was the reverse. So, that's -- for me, that's my takeaway. A political science lesson, political history lesson about black political behavior.
BRENNAN: Jonah, what do you make of this?
GOLDBERG: Well, first of all, I just -- I resent having to have a strong opinion about Kanye West one way or the other. Similarly with Shania Twain, right?
GOLDBERG: Who said that she would have voted for Trump, but she's Canadian. So -- and why are you talking about this in the first place?
I think one of the problems that we have in our politics now is that not only is our sort of lifestyle being politicized, our partisan -- our partisan affiliation is being invested with huge meaning. But our politics is being life-styled. The high walls between sort of what is considered sort of the entertainment world, you know, as I think I've said on here before, Donald Trump kind of broke the blood brain barrier between politics and entertainment and it seems that everything is now flooding in. And a lot of us just want sort of save harbors where not everything has to be about either Donald Trump or politics in general. And it doesn't seem that's the way the culture is going.
NAKAMURA: We're talking about it, though, because Trump talks about it. I just noted quickly that, you know, Trump has 50 million Twitter followers on his personal account. He retweeted the Kanye West signed MAGA cap on that account. The president, that same day, had said he wanted pictures of Mike Pompeo's visit to North Korea put out in the public, but when those came out, it was the official White House account with only 17 million followers that retweeted that. So I mean we can see what's on Trump's mind.
BRENNAN: It is. And, as I said, first time Kanye West has ever been mentioned on FACE THE NATION.
NAKAMURA: We're making history.
BRENNAN: We'll be right back in a moment.
BRENNAN: We want to take a close look at Friday's summit between the leaders of North and South Korea. CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy file this report from Seoul.
BEN TRACY, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was just one step, but it made history. Kim Jong-un became the first North Korean leader to cross the border into the South. Then, a diplomatic dance. As Kim invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to step back across the military demarcation line into North Korea.
That was the first of several unexpected moments as South Korea rolled out the red carpet for its nemeses from the North.
The two leaders seemed to form an instant rapport. At one point, Kim Jong-un said he would no longer interrupt President Moon's speech with early morning missile launches.
Of course those weapons and the North agreeing to get rid of them was the goal of the summit. But there was no talk of how or when or what North Korea would demand in return.
Kim Jong-un declared he wants peace and prosperity and an official end to the Korean War. But all of that rosiness is competing with reality. President Moon, a former human rights lawyer, is negotiating with a brutal dictator known for some of the worst human rights abuses on the planet.
TRACY (on camera): For now, the South Korean are giving Kim Jong-un the benefit of the doubt, hoping he is a different and more honest North Korean leader. He did show some evidence of that at the summit, even acknowledging that the roads in his country are in such terrible shape he'd be embarrassed if President Moon had to travel on them.
BRENNAN: That was CBS News correspond Ben Tracy reporting form South Korea.
We're joined now by Ian Bremmer. He is the president of the Eurasia Group and is also the author of a new book, "Us Versus Them: The Failure of Globalism."
Ian, good to have you here.
I want to start on the news of the week with North Korea. Moon Jae-in seems to have totally changed the topic. We're not talking about military strikes. Now we're talking about diplomatic breakthroughs.
IAN BREMMER, EURASIA GROUP PRESIDENT: That's right. And so, first of all, big win that the United States and the Trump administration were able to push the North Koreans to this point. Both carrots and sticks, right, offering a summit, not talking about human rights, but also saying, you don't get this right, we're going to squeeze you really hard, maybe military strikes. The Chinese got to the table first, right? That's all (INAUDIBLE).
But, you can't talk about pre-emption military strikes if the Chinese and the South Koreans and the North Koreans are all engaged in summitry and making peace. And that is exactly what's happening right now.
So if Trump wants to have the meeting with Kim Jong-un and declare that this is a great breakthrough and it's an historic win, and no other president can do it, he can do that. But the idea that Trump's going to be able to force denuclearization right now, he's lost a significant piece of his leverage.
BRENNAN: What did you make of National Security Adviser John Bolton, who was on this show and repeatedly mentioned the Libya model as what they want to see happen with North Korea? What does that mean for our audience?
BREMMER: Well, what it means for the North Koreans, they know what the eventual outcome of the Libyan model was, which is Gadhafi gave up the ability to put together nuclear and chemical weapons and he ended up dead. And if you are Kim Jong-un, the idea of denuclearization, right, is -- is one that is almost unconceivable for any analyst given Saddam Hussein, given Gadhafi, also given Iran.
One other thing that's really interesting to watch on the Iran deal, clearly Bolton, private citizen, wants it dead. Bolton, national security advisor, on your show, saying, let's see what the president's going to say. But, you know, that's a self-imposed deadline, May 12th. Kim Jong-un is -- the meeting is after that. I think there's a lot of pressure on Trump right now. Yes, he can rip it up, but don't rip it up before. Give Macron and Merkel a chance to go back. They said that they can work on something else, something additional, maybe on ballistic missiles and the rest. Let Trump have a chance to blame them for failure, then rip it up, but first get your deal done with the North Koreans.
BRENNAN: Buy yourself more time.
BRENNAN: I want to talk about your book here, "Us Versus Them." It's a fascinating read, but you really lay out a pretty damning vision of where the world is headed and the various structural issues that you say we're not talking enough about. That populists aren't the problem, they're the symptom of the problem.
BREMMER: Yes, I have a hard time saying that Trump is the fault of the -- a more divided country than I've ever experienced, especially because it's not just in the U.S. It's across all of the advanced industrial democracies in the world today, except for Japan, where they have no immigrants and the population is shrinking, right?
We have big economic issues where a lot of people feel left behind by globalization. Big social and cultural issues where a lot of people feel left behind as we welcome in more immigrants. We have big security issues where enlisted men and women and their families feel left behind because the United States is sending them to wars that fail. They come back, a lot of them broken. Veterans Administration doesn't work. We don't treat them as heroes. And now we have technology that's not only displacing more workers than globalization ever did, but also dividing us in terms of what we do and don't watch, who we listen to, who we follow and who we like.
That's structural. That's why Trump won. That's why Bernie Sanders was who he was. That's why Merkel just got destroyed in her last election with the (INAUDIBLE). That's why the Italians had the worse outcome for the established political parties since World War II. I mean, only Macron has won of the globalist and he almost didn't make it for two -- into the second round because of historic wins by the far left and the far right in France. In America we think everything's about us, but we recognize we're not so unique here. This is happening all over the world. We have to stop with it's all about Trump. You can get rid of Trump. We're not going to impeach him probably, but he's going to go after four or eight years, you're not going to fix any of these problems.
BRENNAN: It is a really fascinating political analysis and it's one that I recommend you have a tall drink, and not of water, with because it is -- you highlight a lot of really key issues that we should be talking about.
We've got to leave it there.
Ian, thank you for coming on the show.
We'll be right back.
BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.