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MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS: It's Sunday, July 1. I'm Margaret Brennan. And this is FACE THE NATION.
A seat on the Supreme Court comes open. President Trump gets the chance to solidify a conservative majority on the country's top court, which may shape American law for decades to come.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The most important decision a president can make is the picking of United States Supreme Court justices, if you're lucky enough to do that.
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BRENNAN: Who will replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy? And do Democrats have any option to block the president's pick?
We will hear from two senators, Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey on the looming Supreme Court seat and more.
Plus, as President Trump prepares for a face-to-face meeting this month with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, we will talk with the president's national security adviser, John Bolton, just back from Moscow.
While President Trump's scored a victory at the Supreme Court, which upheld his travel ban targeting mainly Muslim majority nations...
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UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: We are America!
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BRENNAN: ... there were coast-to-coast rallies protesting his zero tolerance immigration policy.
Meanwhile, voters in Mexico head to the polls today to choose their next leader. We sit down with former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson to discusses immigration and big changes south of the border.
All this and much more just ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION.
We have a lot to talk about today on the Supreme Court vacancy.
But we want to begin on foreign policy with President Trump's national security adviser, Ambassador John Bolton.
Ambassador, it's great to have you back on the program.
JOHN BOLTON, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Glad to be with you.
BRENNAN: "The Washington Post" is reporting that U.S. intelligence has new evidence that North Korea is trying to obscure and hide the number of missiles, facilities and other parts of its nuclear program.
Have you seen any evidence that they are actually dismantling their nuclear infrastructure?
BOLTON: Well, I don't want to comment on that specific report. I -- really, I don't want to comment on anything related to intelligence. I would rather discuss it as a more general proposition.
We're very well aware of North Korea's pattern of behavior over decades of negotiating with the United States. We know exactly what the risks are of them using negotiations to drag out the length of time they have to continue their nuclear, chemical, biological weapons programs and ballistic missiles.
The president would like to see these discussions move promptly to get a resolution. This has been the advice that China's leader, Xi Jinping, has given us as well.
So we're going to try and proceed to implement what the two leaders agreed to in Singapore. But rather than have a series of reports, things are going better, things are not going well, they're concealing this, they're not concealing that, really, it doesn't serve the purpose of advancing the negotiations.
But there's not any -- any starry-eyed feeling among the group doing this, that we're well, well, well aware of what the North Koreans have done in the past.
BRENNAN: How quickly will North Korea turn over its actual arsenal? I mean, are they using diplomacy as a cover?
BOLTON: Well, it's -- certainly, that's what they have done before.
But Kim Jong-un was very emphatic several times in Singapore he was different from prior regimes. Now we will let their actions speak for themselves. We...
BRENNAN: And you were emphatic that you were different here, as an administration, that the weapons were going to be handed over before concessions were made when you were with us last time.
And we have developed a program. I'm sure that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be discussing with the North Koreans in the near future about really how to dismantle all of their WMD and ballistic missile programs in a year.
If they have the strategic decision already made to do that, and they're cooperative, we can move very quickly. And it's to North Korea's advantage to see these programs dismantled very quickly, because then the elimination of sanctions, aid by South Korea and Japan and others can all begin to flow.
BRENNAN: Within a year?
BOLTON: Well, what our experts have devised is a program that, with North Korean cooperation, with full disclosure of all of their chemical and biological, nuclear programs, ballistic missile sites...
BRENNAN: That hasn't happened yet?
BOLTON: ... we -- we can get -- it has not.
We can get -- physically, we would be able to dismantle the overwhelming bulk of their programs within a year.
I want to ask you, though, about the trip you just made to Moscow, where you met face to face yourself with Vladimir Putin to set up this July summit with President Trump.
What specific changes in Russian foreign policy are you going to ask him for? What is the goal?
BOLTON: Well, the goal of this meeting really is for the two leaders to have a chance to sit down, not in the context of some larger multilateral meeting, but just the two of them, to go over what is on their mind about a whole range of issues.
President Trump has just said in the past week he's going to raise things like Syria, like Ukraine, like the election meddling issue, really the whole range of issues between us.
And I think that, in the president's mind, this is very important, because it gives him an opportunity to size up Vladimir Putin, to see where there are areas where we might make progress together and where there are areas where we may not.
BRENNAN: Well, right now, Russia is blanket-bombing Southern Syria. That violates the last agreement Vladimir Putin made with President Trump.
Why would he believe that he's in any way trustworthy?
BOLTON: Well, we will see what happens when the two of them get together. There are possibilities for doing a larger negotiation on helping to get Iranian forces out of Syria and back into Iran, which would be a significant step forward.
BRENNAN: ... to do so?
BOLTON: To have an agreement with Russia, if that's possible.
This has been something that's been going on now for nearly seven years, this conflict in Syria. But the Iranian presence now across Iraq and Syria, really reaching into Lebanon and their connection with Hezbollah, which has been an Iranian subsidiary from the outset...
BRENNAN: And they're declaring victory. Has Assad won the war?
BOLTON: Well, I don't think Assad is the strategic issue. I think Iran is the strategic issue.
It's not just their continuing nuclear weapons program. It's their massive support for international terrorism and their conventional forces in the Middle East.
And I would say there, this is something that the two presidents will want to discuss at length, because I think President Trump's decision to withdraw from the misbegotten Iran nuclear deal, reimpose our sanctions, begin to put much more pressure on Iran, is having an effect on their decision-making, not just on the nuclear issue, but on these efforts to extend Iranian influence around the region.
BRENNAN: And you think Russia can be a partner?
BOLTON: We will see. I think the Russians are always saying to us they want to cooperate on international terrorism.
BRENNAN: They have been saying that for years.
BOLTON: They certainly have.
In some -- in some areas, going back to the Bush administration, we did cooperate. On Iran, which has been the largest financier of international terrorism around the world, I think that's where the real issue is right now.
BRENNAN: I want to ask you about the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, who said very clearly in June that Russia is actively targeting American society in ways that could affect our midterm elections.
Did you tell Putin and his associates to knock it off?
BOLTON: I -- I had meetings all throughout the day on Wednesday, including with President Putin and his foreign minister and his defense minister and his diplomatic adviser, for about an hour-and-a-half.
The election meddling issue was definitely something we talked about. And I thought it was significant.
BRENNAN: Now? Meddling now?
BOLTON: Yes, absolutely, meddling -- meddling in the 2016 election and -- and our concern about what they're doing in the 2018 election.
And what President Putin said, through a translator, of course, but what he said was, there was no meddling in 2016 by the Russian state.
BRENNAN: Very little happens without Vladimir Putin's OK in Russia.
BOLTON: Well, I -- I think that's an -- that's an interesting statement. I think it's worth pursuing. I'm sure the president will want to pursue.
BRENNAN: What do think he means?
BOLTON: Well, I don't know. That's -- I didn't have an unlimited amount of time with him.
But that is very different from saying, my view, that there was no Russian meddling at all.
BRENNAN: So, you see that as some admission on his part?
BOLTON: I -- I -- I think -- I think the president will have to pursue that further.
And I think that is -- one reason why he and President Putin need to have this conversation, as much as I enjoy speaking with my counterpart in Russia, with the foreign minister, with others, is that Vladimir Putin is the one who makes the decision, and I think our leader needs to speak with him.
BRENNAN: On Air Force One this week, President Trump, when he was speaking to reporters, seemed to leave the door open to recognizing Russia's annexation of Crimea, saying, "We will have to see what happens" when the issue comes up in the meeting.
Is the U.S. endorsing the idea that international borders can be redrawn by force? Is this actually a topic?
BOLTON: No, that's not the position of the United States. But I think the president...
BRENNAN: Which is why it was newsworthy when he said it.
BOLTON: Well, I don't know that that's what he said.
I think he -- I think the president often says "We will see" to show that he's willing to talk to foreign leaders about a range of issues and hear their perspective.
President Putin was pretty clear with me about it. And my response was, we're going to have to agree to disagree on Ukraine.
BRENNAN: But that's not up for negotiation?
BOLTON: That's not the position of the United States.
BRENNAN: Right. But saying "We will see" suggests it might be.
BOLTON: Well, we will see.
BRENNAN: Well, that's shocking for our European allies.
BOLTON: I don't -- I don't think it's shocking at all. As I have said, the position of the United States is clear on this.
BRENNAN: Right, but is that open to changing as the United States' position, if the president is saying the door is open?
BOLTON: The -- the president makes the policy. I don't -- I don't make the policy.
BRENNAN: Well, what is so deeply worrying to so many of our -- our European allies, particularly going into this next NATO meeting, are comments like that, things that show some kind of crack in the military alliance of NATO...
BOLTON: I -- I don't...
BRENNAN: ... that the president is looking to be friendlier with adversaries than our allies.
BOLTON: I think that's nonsense. Really, I think that's nonsense.
I think what the president has said to the NATO allies that has caused them concern is that he wants them to live up to the commitment that they themselves made during the Obama administration to spend...
BRENNAN: In terms of spending?
BOLTON: Well, it's not just spending.
But let me make the point that they committed to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense matters. It's not just matter of dollars and cents. This is a collective defense organization.
NATO is the most successful political military alliance in history. But if core members, including Germany, aren't willing to spend what's necessary for their own self-defense, what are -- what are we to make of that?
BRENNAN: But U.S. intelligence believes Russia is actively trying to undermine NATO.
You understand why the president's comments, spending aside, things undermining the European alliance...
BOLTON: Don't say spending aside. Don't say spending aside. What is the depth of the European commitment?
BRENNAN: Your are correct that past presidents have also said that is deeply troubling and they want to see more spending. Exactly.
BOLTON: Barack Obama, in fact, said that free-riders aggravated him.
BOLTON: So, I don't -- I don't think it's fair to criticize President Trump for simply saying what President Obama said earlier.
BRENNAN: But when the president -- sure.
But in terms of redrawing international borders, like with Crimea, leaving the door open to that, saying things that undermine the alliance in that particular, specific way, are very unique and troubling.
BOLTON: I don't think that's what that comment means.
There will be a lot of discussion. There was discussion this past week at the European Council about the E.U. position on Ukraine. And this is a subject where there's been disagreement among the Europeans as well.
The president wants a strong NATO. If you think Russia is a threat, ask yourself this question. Why is Germany spending less than 1.2 percent of its GNP?
So, when people talk about undermining the NATO alliance, you should look at those who are carrying out steps that make NATO less effective militarily.
BRENNAN: We will be watching for that at that summit with NATO and with Vladimir Putin.
Thank you very much, Ambassador, for coming on the show.
BOLTON: Glad to be here.
BRENNAN: We turn now to Connecticut Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal. He its on the Judiciary and the Armed Services Committees. And he joins us this morning from Stamford, Connecticut.
Welcome to FACE THE NATION, Senator.
Because you sit on Armed Services, I want to give you chance to respond to what you just heard from Ambassador Bolton, some news there both on North Korea and on Russia.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: This meeting in Helsinki is deeply alarming.
Let's remember that Russia is an enemy and an adversary continuing to attack our nation through cyber and social media, posing a direct threat in the 2018 elections.
Donald Trump seems to be the only American in public office who has refused to acknowledge explicitly their attack in 2016. They continue to invade Ukraine. And they support a war criminal in Syria who continues to attack his own people with chemical weapons.
And the failure to make the Russians pay a price, and legitimizing Putin, a KGB thug, with this meeting is very dangerous.
And the North Korean situation, they are now building their nuclear capacity and devising ways to deceive the United States. The concessions we have made in canceling those military exercises with our allies in that region obviously have been met with mockery of those concessions. The same danger exists in the Helsinki meeting with Putin.
BRENNAN: Senator, I want to move on to Judiciary and the question of this new Supreme Court nominee.
We have yet to hear who it will be. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he wants whoever it is on the job by the beginning of October. That could mean a conservative court for the rest of your lifetime.
Is there any nominee that you would vote yes on?
BLUMENTHAL: The president has said that he will appoint someone only if he or she would -- quote -- "automatically" overturn Roe v. Wade and roll back...
BRENNAN: Well, he now says he won't even ask that question.
BLUMENTHAL: He doesn't need to ask that question, because those nominees on his list have already been screened by The Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation and other outside groups.
And he has made an additional condition that his nominee also commit to rolling back the protections on health insurance, like those for the millions of people who suffer from preexisting conditions.
Margaret, I was a law clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun on the United States Supreme Court the year after he wrote the opinion in Roe v. Wade, the majority opinion.
I have argued cases in the Supreme Court, four of them. I have never seen a court that is so polarized and so politicized. This decision will shape the court for years to come.
And it could lead to criminalizing reproductive rights, as they were prior to Roe v. Wade. Women were prosecuted and women died and women were denied actress to contraception and the morning-after pill.
And the same with the health insurance protections. These are real lives, real impacts. And you're absolutely right. The shape of the court will be determined for decades to come.
BRENNAN: Do you regret, sir, your vote back in 2013 to eliminate the filibuster for all federal judicial nominees?
That -- there was a carve-out at the time for Supreme Court. Then Mitch McConnell changed that in 2017. But do you think that was the precedent that has now set the stage for this vote to happen in the way it will?
BLUMENTHAL: There was really no precedent, because that change in rule applied to the lower courts, the courts of appeals and the district courts. The Supreme Court is very different.
And I am deeply troubled by the prospect of the president of the United States appointing now a justice who will be the swing, crucial vote not only on reproductive rights and worker rights and civil rights, but also...
BRENNAN: So, you don't think that setting that precedent, you don't regret setting that precedent in 2013?
BLUMENTHAL: I believe that it was the right decision at the time, because it enabled us to move forward.
But the president should not be permitted to appoint a justice who will decide whether or not he complies with a subpoena to testify before a grand jury or pardons himself.
I believe that whoever is appointed ought to recuse himself and commit to recusing himself from those kinds of decisions that affect the personal finances or the special prosecutor investigation.
BRENNAN: Immigration is also a hot-button issue that may and already has in some ways come before the Supreme Court.
I want to ask you, sir, do you agree with your colleague Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that we should get rid of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, as that agency is known?
BLUMENTHAL: Abolishing ICE will accomplish nothing, unless we change the Trump policies.
I visited the border about a week ago. I saw the brutality and inhumanity and absolute cruelty of these policies, ripping children away from their parents. There is no plan or path to reunify them.
It is not happening. And the Trump administration is embarked on a train wreck, a moral train wreck, a legal train wreck, and a humanitarian train wreck, because the plan now is to put the families together in tent cities behind fences and other barbed wire in ways that amount to imprisonment, internment, just as was done with people of Japanese descent during World War II.
That is a policy that is a disgrace to the United States of America.
BRENNAN: Senator Blumenthal, thank you very much for your time.
We will be back in one minute with a lot more FACE THE NATION. So, don't go away.
BRENNAN: We're back with Republican Senator Pat Toomey. He joins us from Bethlehem in his home state of Pennsylvania this morning.
Senator, welcome to the program.
You just heard Senator Blumenthal lay out his arguments as a Democrat, his concerns about a Supreme Court nominee.
I want to ask you. He has raised this question of, if the special counsel's investigation ever makes it to that court, whether this kind of nominee could become a problem, given that the president will be selecting someone who could potentially decide on him.
SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Margaret, I think that is a ridiculous argument that is made as just an attempt to make way for their real position, which is that President Trump should never be able to confirm a vacancy.
Look, I don't remember hearing the Democrats making that argument when President Bill Clinton was in fact personally under investigation when a vacancy occurred.
My understanding is that President Trump is not himself personally the subject of the investigation even. So, I think that is a nonargument. And we needn't pay any attention to it.
BRENNAN: I want to ask you about something you have been very vocal about lately, and this is your concerns, your criticism of the president's trade policies.
Today, starting today, Canada is putting tariffs on a number of American-made products, including chocolate, ketchup, other items. How much is this going to cost your home state?
Well, it's going to be harmful to my home state. So far, this trade war, if it is that -- and it seems to be heading that way -- has been of a modest scale. It hasn't done great damage yet. But it has the potential to do that.
And it would be an unbelievable pity to disrupt what is really a fantastic economy. Because of tax reform, because of regulatory relief, we have got strong economic growth, tremendous employment prospects.
So I don't want to see a trade war undo that, undo that, and limit the ability of Pennsylvanians and Americans generally to buy and sell goods and services with our neighbors and allies, which is, after all, who this is targeting.
BRENNAN: But you have tried and now failed twice to take back in Congress some control over the president's ability to put these tariffs in place citing national security grounds.
So, would you withhold your vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee in order to get the kind of vote you're asking for on tariffs?
TOOMEY: No, that won't be necessary.
I do want to have a vote to restore to Congress its constitutional responsibility to have the final say on the imposition of tariffs, especially when it's national security that is invoked as the rationale.
But there is uniform, I believe, uniform Republican Senate support for us allowing that debate, allowing that vote. Not all of my Republican colleagues agree with me on the substance. But there was no Republican objecting when Senator Corker and I sought to have an amendment, sought to have that vote.
It was a Democratic colleague reflecting concerns on the Democratic side. Their position is, we shouldn't even be able to debate this, we shouldn't be able to vote. But here's the...
BRENNAN: Has Republican leadership given you a date?
TOOMEY: That -- we will have multiple options, Margaret, where there is no procedural opportunity for the minority party to block the vote.
We will have this vote. And Senator McConnell and my Republican colleagues are not going to attempt to block the ability to have that vote. And we will see where the votes are. We don't know that yet. But I think we should find out.
BRENNAN: The president did seem to back down a bit on these investment restrictions that had been floated for China. Do you see him backing down on the question of tariffs?
TOOMEY: So, here is my hope.
My hope is that we can persuade the president to focus on the real problem on the trade front. The problem is not Canada. The problem is not Mexico.
I mean, with Canada, we have a trade surplus. We have a surplus even in steel. So, why we should punish my constituents with a tax when they import these small amounts of Canadian steel makes no sense.
The real problem is the really bad behavior of China, specifically the theft of intellectual property, coerced technology transfers. What we ought to be doing is make peace with our allies with whom we trade to our mutual benefit and join forces and deal with the real problem. And China poses a real problem.
I think the president knows that that is a real problem. And so my hope is that we can persuade him to focus there.
BRENNAN: We will be watching.
Senator Toomey, thank you.
We will be back in just one moment.
BRENNAN: We want to take a moment now to reflect on five lives lost this week to gun violence, journalists and staff at "The Capital Gazette" in Annapolis, Maryland, who were shot on Thursday.
Despite the tragedy, the paper still managed to print an edition the next day.
We will be right back.
BRENNAN: Coming up, we talk about Senator John McCain's new book, "The Restless Wave," with his co-author, longtime aide and speechwriter Mark Salter.
Stay with us for more FACE THE NATION.
BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. I'm Margaret Brennan.
Today voters across Mexico head to the ballot box to choose a new president. And in doing so, they're likely to send a strong message to those of us north of the border.
Joining us to discuss the consequences is former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Roberta Jacobson.
Thank you for being here, ambassador.
ROBERTA JACOBSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MEXICO: Thank you, Margaret.
BRENNAN: The expected winner here, AMLO, as he's called, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is coming from the left wing party here in -- or really a party he's kind of paving the way for. But he's viewed as populist, sometimes described as kind of a left wing Donald Trump. And what do you think that his election could mean for relations with the U.S.?
JACOBSON: Well, you know, one of the things that -- that he, both in my discussions with him and in many of his conversations and his advisers' conversations ahead of these elections have emphasized, is the importance of the relationship with the United States and that it be positive and that they're going to work hard on that, which does not mean that it's going to be easier than it has been with the current Mexican government. I think there are a number of issues on which it's going to be difficult and maybe harder.
But he has been at pains to reassure people that he takes this relationship seriously, that he does not think that it needs to be descend into insults. And he has the leftist credentials to be able to stand up politely in a way that I think he's got the credibility to do that.
BRENNAN: And he had such fiery rhetoric. I mean he's talked about hitting back at the elite and --
BRENNAN: Standing up to President Trump. A lot of the remarks the president has made over the past year have been very unpopular with people throughout Mexico.
JACOBSON: Uniformly. It's one of the only things they agree on.
BRENNAN: So what is at stake for Americans when it comes to this election?
JACOBSON: Well, I think the most important thing that's at stake is whether we continue to cooperate and work with Mexico as partners. Whether you're talking about economically or on trade or on migration or on security, or whether that partnership that we've built over the last 30 years begins to deteriorate.
BRENNAN: Well, the president describes it as already deteriorating. That Mexico is not doing its job at the border. That Mexico is sending drug dealers into the United States. He's used some pretty harsh language.
JACOBSON: Uh-huh. And -- and that is not helping make this partnership any better.
The fact is, the Mexican government currently in power -- and I expect certain aspects of Lopez Obrador's government to continue cooperation on things that are important to both countries. And that does include secure borders. It does include cooperating on narcotics. It also includes cooperating on people from outside the hemisphere who may be trying to enter the U.S. through Mexico.
BRENNAN: That's the border crisis.
JACOBSON: Well, but those are Central Americans. I'm talking about people who may be from all over the world, Middle East, south Asia. And we've had enormous cooperation with Mexico. So our own security depends on continuing that cooperation. And Mexico feels, quite rightly in many cases, that they've gotten almost no credit for that.
BRENNAN: You left the foreign service after, what 30 years --
JACOBSON: Thirty-one years.
BRENNAN: Thirty-one years as an American diplomat. You've served Democrats. You've served Republicans.
BRENNAN: Why did you choose to leave the Trump administration?
JACOBSON: Well, Mexico -- being ambassador to Mexico was my dream job. I was the assistant secretary for the region for five years before that. And I loved the work.
I still love the work, but it became increasingly difficult to do under this administration because every time you try to do something on NAFTA or on security or on any of the most important issues to us, education, et cetera, things would get blown up by a tweet. And there were many people in government trying to do the right thing because this partnership is important to Americans and yet it just never seems that we could overcome the retreat into the vilification of Mexicans at a rally or a tweet. And that was really, really difficult.
BRENNAN: So the president's own words, you're saying, made it hard to actually implement his policies?
BRENNAN: The president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has taken a lead role in this relationship as well with the current government. In some ways bypassing diplomats like yourself. What does that mean with a new Mexican government? If he doesn't have someone at the end of the line who he's dear friends with like in the currently government, how do you build a bridge with this new, fiery populist who's coming into power?
JACOBSON: You know what? My expectation is there's going to be a period -- Mexico has a very long transition period. It's five months. So that's a long time to get themselves organized in which we also will be trying to, in the administration, the U.S. government will be trying to get themselves organized and find out who the counterparts are.
Will it go back to being foreign secretary to foreign secretary, which, with Mike Pompeo in the job at State, is much more probable, or will there be somebody close to Lopez Obrador that he'd like to put in the position to work with the White House directly? Having been in the State Department for 31 years, you can guess where my vote would be. I'd prefer to go back to institutional relationships that I think support and make the relationship stronger. But it's not clear to me that -- that this might not be a president in AMLO who likes the same thing. Who likes to find a trusted confidante and put that person in charge of the relationship. It's not clear.
BRENNAN: Well, high stakes, as you laid out, for immigration, for border security.
Thank you very much.
JACOBSON: For our opioid crisis as well.
BRENNAN: For our opioid crisis as well.
JACOBSON: We need them as partners.
BRENNAN: Thank you very much, Ambassador Jacobson.
Ahead, our politics panel will break down the news of the week, and there's a lot of it.
We'll be right back.
BRENNAN: We'd like to welcome now our panel for some political analysis.
Jamelle Bouie is "Slate's" chief political correspondent and a CBS News political analyst. Seung Min Kim covers the White House from over on Capitol Hill for "The Washington Post." Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor at "The National Review" and a columnist for "Bloomberg View." And Jan Crawford, of course, is our CBS News chief legal correspondent.
Jan, you've been incredibly busy this week. And I know you -- first with the travel ban now with the -- what's next. And this list of contenders it sounds like you see five main names that the president's focused in on now.
JAN CRAWFORD, CBS NEWS CHIEF LEGAL AND POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT : Right. And the president has said he's narrowed down this list of 25 -- the big list that he had had -- down to just a handful. And I think right now there are two leading contenders, both federal appeal court judges, one here at the prestigious D.C. Circuit, Brett Kavanaugh. He kind of has those elite credentials the president says he wants. He -- Yale, Yale Law School. He clerked for Justice Kennedy. And he's been on the appeals court here for 12 years. He has a lot of experience. He's highly regarded, both sides of the aisle. But he also kind of has that regular guy persona. You know, he coaches his two daughters' basketball teams.
Then the other potential leading contender, Federal Appeal Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett. She would bring real diversity to the Supreme Court. She would be the first conservative female justice. And she also would be the only justice who's not from the Ivy League. She went to Notre Dame Law School, then came here, clerked for Justice Scalia, and then went back to teach at Notre Dame. Conservatives like her because she had a brutal confirmation hearing and she really turned the tables on the Democrats. They were trying to say that her Catholic faith meant she would overturn Roe v. Wade. So she really walked through the fire and survived and actually got three Democrats to vote for her.
BRENNAN: Well, it's interesting you highlight that. I know Senator Susan Collins will be a key Republican vote who says she won't vote for any nominee who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
CRAWFORD: And she voted for Barrett for the appeals court.
BRENNAN: She did?
CRAWFORD: She did. And so I think, you know, that's what you're going to see all the focus on now is, is this going to be a fight over abortion rights.
Now I shouldn't -- before we go on, there are a few others he's looking at, all federal appeals court judges, a couple he's interviewed before for the Scalia vacancy, Amul Thapar, Raymond Kethledge, Thomas Hardiman and then another woman, Joan Larsen. Those are kind of, we believe, to be other contenders.
BRENNAN: And what is the president's thinking on this? I mean it seems like this is an actual process that's underway. He's often criticized for not, you know, going by the book.
CRAWFORD: No, they've been very methodical about it. They have this list. They've vetted a lot of these candidates already. They've got a timetable. You're going to get a nominee a week from tomorrow because that's going to be the average amount of time between a nomination and a confirmation. And they want that justice on the Supreme Court for the first Monday in October. So we're going to have a vote, sources tell me, by the end of August or right after Labor Day.
So it's very methodical. He's already started interviews. And this is really a Supreme Court nomination, as you know, that's a president's most lasting legacy. These justices will be on the Supreme Court long after the president has left this town. And this may not be the president's last nomination.
BRENNAN: Well, exactly.
Ramesh, you know, even conservatives who are critical of President Trump, when it came to his last Supreme Court justice, they were praising him. This time around, what are they looking for?
RAMESH PONNURU, "NATIONAL REVIEW": They're looking for more of the same. They have been impressed not only by the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, but also by the federal appellate court nominations where the president has put up a series of extremely well-credentialed, well-respected solid conservatives. That's what they're looking for here. And I think that's what they're going to get this. This president understands the importance of conservative judges to his coalition. He understands that that helped get him elected in the first place and I think he's going to deliver.
BRENNAN: Jamelle, Democrats, like you heard Senator Blumenthal on the program, sounding the alarm bells, that this is going to bring up a lot of sort of culture war issues, for lack of a better term --
JAMELLE BOUIE, CBS NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
BRENNAN: Abortion, gay rights, affirmative action. Cynics argue this is really just about scaring people into turning out in the polls in November to vote in these congressional races. How do you view this and how should Americans view this?
BOUIE: I don't think that the cynical view that this is just trying to scare our voters is quite right. I think the conversation on the left, recognizing the extent to which the court will be -- have a solid, conservative majority for some time now, has turned to, what does -- what do left wing policy thinkers, what do left wing politicians, what does a Democratic coalition do in a world where there's a Supreme Court that's potentially hostile, not just to culture war issues, but also to issues of economic equality, issues of labor rights, how does the left organize itself in that context.
And so what I think you're seeing among Democrats, some Democrats, among left wing thinkers, among liberal thinkers is, what does -- what does our politics look like if we have to potentially deal with a court that is hostile to a single payer health care program? What do our politics look like when we have a court that is hostile to a union organizing that is hostile to labor rights? And I'm not sure -- I'm not sure that there's really any answer there yet. There has been some kind of early discussion about attempts to kind of circumvent the court by say adding additional justices --
BOUIE: Which, I mean, the thing about that, right, is that like it sort of -- it didn't quite fail in the 1930s. It was the threat of it ended up getting the outcome they wanted.
BRENNAN: And there's some regret, right?
BOUIE: Right. Right.
BRENNAN: Among progressives who had pushed for Ruth Bader Ginsburg --
BOUIE: Right. Exactly.
BRENNAN: To have stepped down during the Obama presidency.
BRENNAN: And that obviously didn't happen.
But I think that the broad picture is, the left is kind of -- and Democrats, liberals, the broad center left is sort of -- we've lost this battle. We've lost the battle for the Supreme Court. And so we need to figure out how to reconfigure our politics and our approach to deal with that fact.
BRENNAN: Seung Min, what does this confirmation process look like? Is October realistic to have this judge seated?
SEUNG MIN KIM, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think it's absolutely realistic if you figure -- take the July 9th date that the president says he will announce his pick if the Supreme Court convenes on the first Monday in October that's -- Gorsuch was confirmed in just over two months from naming to confirmation. So that is a completely reasonable timeline considering Mitch McConnell has already cancelled the August recess. We thought maybe for a second that he would un-cancel the August recess, but I think with the major Supreme Court confirmation, we will be here through August.
But the process is very similar. You know, we've got the White House portion right now with vetting of the names and the interviewing of the names. Once the person -- once the nominee is announced, that nominee will make the courtesy visits to senators on the Judiciary Committee to these key persuadable swing senate votes, members of leadership.
And we're already seeing that outreach from the White House to the Senate right now. I mean we talked earlier about how this White House hasn't been so great at a lot of the legislative coordination and some of the mishaps that they've had with Congress. But on judicial nominations, this is a thing that the White House does very well.
So you already -- you've already had Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who are -- who we're really closely watching because these are senators -- or Republican senators who support abortion rights, they've had their meeting at the White House with the president. You've had Senators Joe Donnelly, Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp, who are the three red state Democrats who voted in favor of Neil Gorsuch, get their only personal meeting with President Trump and who say they are very open to confirming President Trump nominee who -- if the nominee is the right person. So those are the five senators who our attention is going to be really on for the next two months.
BRENNAN: And what about immigration, Jan? Do you think this could actually come before the Supreme Court (INAUDIBLE)?
CRAWFORD: Oh, sure. I mean the issue of immigration?
CRAWFORD: Oh, absolutely. And I mean we already see --
BRENNAN: We already had the travel ban.
CRAWFORD: Right. And -- but I -- you know, one of the things I think that's really interesting that we've seen in the last year and half is these lower courts take a look at some of the president's policies is that you have federal judges -- one federal judge ruling a whole nationwide program unconstitutional. So a federal judge is essentially -- one federal judge, can be anywhere in the country, is setting federal policy.
And the justices are really concerned about that. You saw Justice Thomas last week write separately, saying that the Supreme Court eventually is going to have to take this issue up, these nationwide injunctions being handed down by one federal judge. So this could be an issue that may lead to something like that.
But on immigration, the other thing I think is, think about the Supreme Court hearings. That also could be the issue in these hearings. And there is a nominee, a potential nominee, I mean, I should say, of Amul Thapar, who would be an immigrant. He's the son of immigrants. He would be the first Indian-American on the Supreme Court. So he's kind of an interesting person to kind of keep in mind. That would make immigration, I think, kind of central in some of those hearings if he were the pick. It will probably be central anyway though.
BRENNAN: Do you expect (INAUDIBLE), Ramesh?
PONNURU: Well, I think that it could very well. You know, these hearings tend to be wide ranging.
One thing that I think is interesting, Seung Min mentioned West Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, senators from those states who are red state Democrats who are being watched, all of them are in tough re-election bids this year. That's one of the reasons that Senator Durbin, the Democrat from Illinois, was saying that Democratic voters need to understand, we can't block the appointment of a conservative nominee because the map this year is going to put them under pressure on abortion, on immigration, on judicial appointments generally to vote with the conservatives.
BOUIE: Although Joe Manchin, I think, yesterday said that he wouldn't support a nominee that opposed Roe v. Wade or in that case --
PONNURU: He signaled that he was uncomfortable with it.
BOUIE: Right. Right.
PONNURU: Abut he didn't draw the line.
BOUIE: I -- I think -- I think it will be interesting to see how this all interacts with the elections in November because if there's a nominee confirmed before the election, it may not -- conservative voters may say, oh, no, we won this. There's no reason to be energized about it. I mean Democratic voters may end up getting the enthusiasm boost from the fact that not just -- that there's the potential of a further Supreme Court battles down the line. And then in order to stop that -- in order to stop an additional Trump appointment or nomination, they have to go -- come out and vote in the elections.
BRENNAN: Thank you very much.
So much more we can talk about, but we've got to leave it there.
We'll be back in a moment.
BRENNAN: Joining us now is Mark Salter. He's a longtime friend, advisor and speech writer to Senator John McCain through John McCain's time in the Senate and both of his presidential bids. Salter's also the co-author with McCain of their new book "The Restless Wave."
Welcome to FACE THE NATION.
MARK SALTER, "THE RESTLESS WAVE" CO-AUTHOR: Thanks for having me on.
BRENNAN: How is the senator doing?
SALTER: He's doing all right. He's hanging in there. He's working on physical therapy, trying to get stronger and staying engaged with his staff and he's doing -- doing well, thanks.
BRENNAN: He's keeping his eye on politics?
SALTER: He is. Reading the papers. Watching the news. I suspect he's watching this today. So I'm a little nervous about it.
BRENNAN: Well, in the book, which I read, the senator talks about a number of things, very reflective.
BRENNAN: But he highlights immigration --
BRENNAN: And the failure to get reforms through as one of his bigger regrets. And he talks in particular about what's happening right now within the Republican Party. And the lack of progress, he says, is really being manipulated. He says there's an anti-immigration faction of the GOP. They need to be confronted --
BRENNAN: Not ignored or winked at or quietly dismissed as kooks. They need to be confronted before their noxious views spread further and damage for generations the reputation of the Republican Party.
BRENNAN: Can that be saved at this point?
SALTER: Well, I think so. It's -- it's a -- as a social problem, it's not the biggest, most difficult problem to solve. I think we all know how it should be solved.
BRENNAN: But those words were written --
BRENNAN: Before this latest --
BRENNAN: Controversy with the (INAUDIBLE).
SALTER: Sure. And he was -- he released a statement, you know, separating -- he finds it appalling that families are being separated, and it's wrong. There are people -- the people he was referring to in that comment or that passage of the book were people who look at this country and think it's based on tribes and not ideals. And that's -- that's -- that's what he was getting at there.
BRENNAN: Who is confronting those people right now?
SALTER: Not enough people. I think, you know, we can name names, if you want. Steve King, for instance, who keeps writing, you know, about -- as if it's, you know, American citizenship is some kind of racial purity test.
BRENNAN: The congressman.
SALTER: The congressman from my home state of Iowa, I'm sorry to confess, but --
BRENNAN: So you need more people like Senator McCain, you're saying?
SALTER: You do. You do. And there are quite a few of them. Remember, we passed a comprehensive immigration bill in the Senate in 2013 I think that passed by 68 votes. It was blocked in the House when the leadership decided not to bring it up because the freedom caucus didn't like it. There were plenty of Republicans votes that weren't there and plenty of Democratic votes weren't there. And that's how big social changes have to -- have to be affected in this county in a bipartisan way. And that's -- that's what he would hoped would happen with this.
BRENNAN: Some of what you're talking about in regard to that identity crisis or that fight within the party right now surfaced again with a man you know well, Steve Schmidt, who ran the 2008 presidential bid for Senator McCain. He's actually renounced his membership in the Republican Party.
SALTER: Yes, I saw that.
BRENNAN: But you're not ready to go that far?
SALTER: No. I still think of myself as a Republican. I'm not happy with the Republican Party. I don't think the Republican Party ought to be the party of Trump and I certainly identify with former Speaker John Boehner's remarks, that right now the Republican Party seems to be a little asleep over here and taking a nap I think he said. And we're the party of Trump. I'm not -- I don't consider myself in the party of Trump.
BRENNAN: But, practically speaking, what does that mean for people who may think of themselves as Republicans when they look at voting in November?
SALTER: Well, it depends, you know. Not to walk away, I think to fight -- I'm not criticizing Steve. He's free to do it. You know, I'll stay Republican. I may not be voting for a lot of Republicans at the moment, but I consider myself one and hope the party would restore itself to sort of a free trade, low tax, small government, democratic internationalist, strong defense. All the things that made the party and the, you know, say the party of Reagan. That's -- that's what I would hope others would work to do. And some people may think that to say the party of Lincoln you have to kill -- destroy the party of Trump. That may be true, but --
BRENNAN: And that means voting Democratic?
SALTER: Well, let me speak for myself. I'm not speaking for my co-author.
BRENNAN: I am.
SALTER: You know, it may. And, you know, I think -- I think the Democratic or the first branch of government, the Congress, needs to do its oversight of the executive branch. Never more needed than with this particular executive branch. And it may take one house of Congress falling to the Democrats to do that because while I think the Senate is still discharging its responsibilities in that way, I think fairly effectively, if not as noticeably in the House, the stuff that's gone on in the House Intelligence Committee and, you know, it's -- it's -- they -- they're not taking their oversight responsibilities seriously.
BRENNAN: Is there anyone you see right now as for the standard bearer to pick up the mantle of Senator McCain?
SALTER: Oh, I think there are a lot of people in the Senate. You know, it doesn't get any attention because it's not newsworthy. But if you look at his committee, which is really the proudest service he's ever rendered as his chairman of the Armed Services Committee, it meant a great deal to him. Has -- continues to mean a great deal to him. It does its job every single year without fail. It passes the defense bill, often controversial elements in it, but it almost always passes unanimously. It just did again. It goes to conference with the House Armed Services Committee, which does its job, and they work out their disagreements and send a bill to the president. That goes on every single year while other committees haven't. There are still, you know, pockets of normalcy in the Senate, and in the House, too, you know, where they do their -- they do their work.
BRENNAN: Pockets of normalcy.
BRENNAN: All right.
SALTER: These are odd times, but --
BRENNAN: Mark, thank you very much.
SALTER: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
BRENNAN: Good to have you on the show.
SALTER: Good to be on here.
BRENNAN: We will be right back.
BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thanks for watching. We hope you all have a safe and happy 4th of July. And until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.