Full transcript: "Face the Nation" on June 3, 2018


Read more transcripts from Face the Nation here.  

MARGARET BRENNAN, HOST: It's Sunday, June 3. I'm Margaret Brennan, and this is FACE THE NATION.

The meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore is on, and in less than 10 days, as the president welcomed a North Korean official to the White House. But the goal for the summit continues to be a question.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have very significant sanctions on that. But we had hundreds -- we have hundreds that are ready to go. But I said I'm not going to put -- why would I do that when we're talking so nicely?


BRENNAN: But things aren't so nice between U.S. and some of its closest allies.

Countries, including Canada, Mexico, China, and members of the European Union, are furious about President Trump's new tariffs. Back home, it's the president's own party taking issue with his trade policies.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I don't think anything good will come out of a trade war, and I hope we pull back from the brink here.


BRENNAN: We will talk to Ohio Governor John Kasich and Texas Congressman Will Hurd about that trade war and Republican efforts to try and move forward with protecting the children of undocumented immigrants, even if it means a showdown with congressional leadership and the president.

"The New York Times" published a 20-page memo from the president's attorney arguing that, as chief law enforcement officer, the president couldn't obstruct justice. Will that strategy work? We will ask our political panel.

Plus, we will kick off our 2018 CBS News midterm election Battleground Tracker and tell you exactly where things stand as Democrats try to take control of Congress.

Is former Speaker John Boehner right when he says: (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BOEHNER (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There is no Republican Party. There is a Trump party. The Republican Party is kind of a taking a nap somewhere.


BRENNAN: Politics, policy and news, it's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION.

Trump administration officials got an earful in two parts of the world this weekend about the president's new trade tariffs. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross went on an economic mission to China, while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with finance ministers in Canada ahead of this week's G7 Summit.

Here at home, some of the president's biggest supporters, including farmers and manufacturers, are still unsure how these new policies will impact them.

We want to go to Westerville, Ohio, just outside of Columbus, and to the Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich.

Governor, welcome to FACE THE NATION.

These tariffs are popular with many Ohio's steelworkers and even with your home Senator Sherrod Brown, yes, a Democrat, but he supports the president's efforts here. Why do you think some of these working-class Ohioans are wrong?

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Well, because there's also unanimity among Republicans, Democrats, all the people that study these things, you get into trade wars -- the president of France said, when you have -- when you take nationalism as an approach to your economy, it can lead to war.

And we know what happened when we imposed all these barriers on people in the past. The economy slowed down, people paid higher prices.

And then, beyond that, it increases acrimony among our friends. I mean, we're punishing our friends. If they were cheating, that's one thing. But they slapped this on under a phony excuse. We're going alone on that. We withdrew from the Paris accords. We withdrew from the Iranian deal, which they're furious about.

We didn't get in the Pacific trade agreement. We're going it alone. It's not America first. It's America alone. And I think it's just not good policy. In fact, it borders on dangerous, in my opinion.

BRENNAN: Well, your point is taken on the international scale, but for those steelworkers in Youngstown, Ohio, how do you explain how to protect their jobs? Is this just an industry that can't be saved at this point?

KASICH: Yes, well, the first thing is, is that the industry is modernizing. They are more competitive. We have 40 million Americans that work in trade-related jobs.

Most of the exports activities in this country are done by small and medium-sized businesses. What this is going to do is cost consumers, slow down the economy. It's not prudent. It's not smart.

And those very steelworkers will find out that things will cost more and what they will buy will not be good. So, I hope the administration will back away from this policy.

BRENNAN: Have you calculated what the cost to Ohio would be if Canada, Mexico, and the European Union go ahead with these tariffs?

KASICH: It's not just my state that's involved here. It's our nation. It has significant consequences for us here at home, not only just economically, but geopolitically.

When did it ever make sense for anybody powerful, rich or famous, to say, I will just go it alone? And that's what we're doing. And it's very, very concerning.

And, frankly, my party, the Republican Party, has been in favor of free trade as long as I can remember.

BRENNAN: How do you make the case to bring people back to the party of free trade, because the president ran on this platform, and it was popular. So, how do you convince people that that Reagan era free trade isn't a relic of the past?

KASICH: Well, because, when we take a look at what free trade has done for us, it's lifted more people out of poverty all over the globe.

It's produced better products for us here in the United States because of competition. And it's lowered the prices for consumers. But walking away from free trade and going to protectionism is going to yield, again, products that are not as good, products that are going to cost more.

And it's not going to lead to kind of the ingenuity that the American worker is capable of.

BRENNAN: Well, certainly, Republican leadership in Congress would agree with you on those principles. They're not happy about what the president is doing, but they're also not stopping him or they're unable to stop these tariffs.

KASICH: Well, look, Margaret, I have been, frankly, shocked at the fact that our leaders think they have got to -- they have to ask permission from the president to do anything.

This is very foreign to me. It's alien to me. When you are elected to the United States Senate or the United States House of Representatives, you have a duty to represent your district, but, most important, represent your country, not to just be thinking about your political party.


BRENNAN: So, what should Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan be doing right now?

KASICH: I think they ought to make it very clear that they're not going to just sit back and tolerate this, that they're going to do whatever they can do legislatively to send a clear signal, the same way they ought to be doing these things on the issue of DACA.

Those are the dreamers that are here. It's like, well, we don't want to pass an immigration bill because the president might veto it. Well, send it to him. Let him veto it. I mean, that's your job as a congressman.

And I have to tell you that I'm very proud of this group of Republicans who are saying that they're going to do everything they can to get a vote on immigration reform and protecting the dreamers.

BRENNAN: The supporters of the president say, though, that immigration and dealing with it now may be a losing prospect when it comes to the November races, particularly on this issue of DACA. There's a tremendous debate within the party about it right now.

Why do you think that is wrong?

KASICH: Because, Margaret, we have 800,000 people who came to this country as children, they violated no law, they're innocent people that came to this country who are great contributors to what is happening in this country.

They're part of our fabric. And now we're going to turn around and ship them out? And, you know, Margaret, everything in life is not about the next election. It is an -- this is an injustice to these people. And, frankly, the idea that people will stand up against their party or stand up against the president, I respect that.

BRENNAN: Are you going to challenge the president in 2020? How do you build a coalition of Republicans, the same Republicans John Boehner said are taking a nap right now?

KASICH: I don't know. Yes, Margaret, I don't know. I don't know what I'm going to do in 2020.

I know that I believe that I need to be part of creating a network of people who seek the truth, who are objective and rational. And that's my interest right now. As to what that is going to mean, how that manifests itself, I'm really not quite sure.

BRENNAN: But, for you, immigration and free trade need to be at the heart of it, it sounds like you're saying?

KASICH: Well, I think that's important. The problem with our national debt is skyrocketing. I'm worried about our foreign policy. I'm very, very concerned about this upcoming meeting with North Korea.

I think this is a seminal meeting. I think we have to be extremely careful. Every time we have entered an agreement, they have backed away from it, they have misled us, and we cannot let the pressure up on North Korea.

So, you know, promises don't matter. To me, it has to be a verifiable agreement, a verifiable agreement. And if we relax these sanctions at all, we ought to be committed to being able to reimpose them if the North Koreans break their word.

This is very, very serious, Margaret. If you let the pressure up, I am very, very fearful that we will just find ourselves in this same situation or worse situation down the road. I'm glad they're talking. I'm glad they're meeting. But don't let the pressure up until we get verifiable results.

Anything other than that will weaken our position and strengthen them. And we know what the history of that regime is.

BRENNAN: You have clearly been a critic of the president, but, in this case, do you think his unpredictability has been an asset?

KASICH: Well, look, I praise him when I think he does a good job, and I'm critical when I think he's off the mark.

And in terms of this, I think keeping the pressure on, having these sanctions placed, probably the work that they have done to communicate with China -- and so I give him credit for putting the pressure on, for sure.

But now that it's there, we can't be in a hurry to get an agreement. If we can get some verifiable agreements, fine, we can loosen things.

But there has to be a real gain, and not just a P.R. show. That's just not going to work for the best interests of our country and the world.

BRENNAN: Governor, thank you very much for your time.

KASICH: OK, Margaret, thank you.

BRENNAN: We turn now to Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. He sits on Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees. And he joins us live from San Antonio.

Congressman, good morning to you.

I want to quickly ask you this "New York Times"-obtained letter from the president's attorneys laying out their arguments, saying, he as president has complete control over federal investigations, cannot be compelled to testify, and could not have obstructed the FBI's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Sitting on House Intelligence, as do you, what do you make of this argument?

REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Well, this is going to be something that is going to be sorted out through the judicial system.

And I'm not a lawyer. But one of the things I have learned is, if you are innocent, act like you're innocent. And Bob Mueller should be allowed to continue his investigation and turn over any stone and pursue any lead.

BRENNAN: Should the president be compelled to testify to Bob Mueller, the special counsel?

HURD: Again, I think this is going to be a judicial issue that -- to figure out what is, what can he be compelled to do?

Again, if you don't have anything to hide, why wouldn't you testify? Because I think that would help get -- close this investigation quicker, which I think that is something this administration wants to see.

But one of the things that I'm focused on is on issues that is firmly in the responsibility of Congress. And that's trade, that's immigration, and these are big issues that are going to be coming to the forefront over the next few days and weeks.

BRENNAN: And I do want to ask you about trade, but just to button this up, the president's attorney said this morning the president probably has the power to pardon himself, though doing so would be unthinkable.

What would happen in the House if the president tried to do that? What would the political ramification be?

HURD: Look, I think that would be a terrible move. I think people would erupt.

I think even thinking about trying to fire Mueller is a bad move politically. So, I hope we don't have to get to that point. And it's hard to predict what would happen. But that would -- that would be -- that would create outrage on both sides of the political aisle.

BRENNAN: But let's get to that issue of trade you brought up there.

Would there be support in the House, where you sit, for legislation that would require the president to get congressional approval before putting on tariffs? There's talk in the Senate about doing it. Would you support something in the House?

HURD: Absolutely.

The Congress has shared our responsibility when it comes to trade with the executive branch over the last couple of decades. And I think that is something that we need to reevaluate. One of the things that -- as you know, Margaret, I spent nine-and-a-half years as an undercover officer in the CIA.

I was the dude in the back alleys at 4:00 in the morning. One of the things I learned is, be nice with nice guys and tough with tough guys. Make sure your allies know you have their back.

BRENNAN: So, Canada, Mexico and European Union are not national security threats, from your point of view, which is the authority the president used here?

HURD: No, they're not. No, we are lucky to have Canada and Mexico as our neighbors.

Imagine what some of our other allies have to deal with. A sound foreign policy, sound trade policy does not mean penalizing your allies while you're rescuing a Chinese company that firmly and clearly violated U.S. sanctions. And I'm speaking about ZTE.

So, let's address the real problem. China is dumping steel on the world markets. Let's address that. China is stealing intellectual property. Let's address that. Let's not help one Chinese company continue to sell their widgets all around the world, while we're going to ultimately impact the American consumer.

Why should my fellow Americans compare about this? Here in South Texas, it's hot. And if you like a drink, a cold beer on a hot day, it's going to be more expensive. If you have got to fill up your car with gasoline, it's going to be more expensive.

If you have to buy clothes, it's going to be more expensive. If you buy food in a grocery store, it's going to be more expensive. And so this makes absolutely no sense. And to say that this is going to create jobs in the United States of America, we are celebrating 3.8 percent unemployment.

That is the best it's ever been in almost half-a-century. So where -- what jobs is this going to be bringing back? It's only going to impact jobs. And so that's why most of us, a lot of us in Congress thinks this is not the way you handle trade, this is not the way you deal with your allies.

BRENNAN: On the issue of immigration, the majority of Americans polled seem to support some kind of protection for dreamers, so-called DACA recipients.

But your bosses in Congress have tried to block a vote on this. Do you have a surefire way to force a vote in the House and get a bill to the president's desk?

HURD: Margaret, let me correct you for a second. They're not my bosses. My bosses are the 800,000 people that I represent in the 23rd Congressional District of Texas.

And that's why I'm working on this issue with friends like Jeff Denham from California, Carlos Curbelo from Florida, Elise Stefanik from New York City, in order to force this vote.

This is this discharge petition, where it's saying, hey, we're going to bring multiple bills to the floor on immigration and have that vote. I hope teachers are still teaching in school that having a public conversation and discourse is still important to keeping democracy alive and thriving in the United States of America. And that's what we're trying to push.

BRENNAN: Well, Speaker Ryan -- Speaker Ryan and his whip and everyone with him are trying to block this vote from happening.

Do you have the votes to force this to the floor?

HURD: We do. And we're adding votes every single day.

We're engaged in conversations to figure out, is there another path? I don't believe that there is. And the time has come. It's 2018. We don't have operational control of our border. We have a million-plus young men and women who have only known the United States of America as their home that are in this uncertainty period. They don't know about their future.

Now is the time to solve this problem and do it once and for all.

And guess what?

BRENNAN: You expect that vote this month?

HURD: Yes, this month of June.

BRENNAN: All right, Congressman, thank you very much.

HURD: Always a pleasure.

BRENNAN: We will be back in one minute with a lot more FACE THE NATION. So, don't go away.


BRENNAN: The U.S.-North Korea summit is officially back on and will take place in Singapore in just over a week.

To get a better understanding of the stakes for both countries in the talk, we want to bring in Dr. Jung Pak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former senior official at the CIA, and Ambassador Robert Gallucci, who was special envoy for the State Department and the top U.S. negotiator during the North Korean nuclear crisis in 1994. He's now at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Welcome to the show, both of you.

Jung, the president is at Camp David prepping for the summit. You said Kim Jong-un has done his homework already. What does the president need to do?

JUNG PAK, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I think the president needs to work out, along with his team, what he should say, what he should not say, and what some of the benefits that he can offer for Kim.

So, I think for -- if I were prepping the president for this type of event, I think I would keep it as simple as possible, maybe a quadrant where you have a say, avoid what to say, and potential concessions to ease the pathway forward.

So, I think the president should be aware that Kim Jong-un is doing his homework. By all accounts, he's been reading up on everything, what is going on in South Korea, what is going on in the U.S., what is going on in China, as well as Russia.

BRENNAN: Ambassador, you have negotiated with North Korea before. The president is not known for being scripted. Is the outcome of this summit pre-baked? How much risk is there in getting these two leaders in the same room?

ROBERT GALLUCCI, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL FOR ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I think a lot of us hope that some of it at least is pre-baked and it makes sense. But it's very hard to know.

I think both these people who are meeting are infamous, or famous, for their improvisational and their surprise factor. So, I don't know whether the president has -- is taking the good advice my colleague has just suggested and is going to have, areas to stay away from, and things to offer, and things to expect to get

That would be good. It would be good if they had agreed, for example, on what follow-on steps were going to be to implement any understandings they might reach at a general level in Singapore.

BRENNAN: So, what are those things to listen for, those follow-on steps?

GALLUCCI: Well, what I think all of us should be -- should try to not focus on the shiny objects and focus on the substance.

And the substance that brought us to a crisis for almost a full year was a nuclear weapons capability mated with a ballistic missile capability that can reach the United States of America. That's what was new in 2017.

And so the issue is, how much detail can we get on the term denuclearization? What does it mean for North Koreans to give up nuclear weapons, fissile material, production capability, ballistic missiles of extended range?

How do we monitor the giving up, the turning over of this material? And how do we verify commitments that might be made in a general sense in Singapore?

BRENNAN: So, declaring an end to the Korean War, would that be a shiny object?

PAK: That would be a shiny object.

I thought it was notable that the president spent so much of the conversation with the press after the Kim Yong-chol meeting talking about the peace issue. And that was concerning for me, because that's probably what the North Koreans mentioned in the meeting.

And they probably know that it hits a chord with the president, who seems pretty interested in ending this Korean War. But I think we have to remember that we can't have peace on the Korean Peninsula without denuclearization of North Korea, and that peace without denuclearization is going to be a fake peace.

BRENNAN: It was a propaganda win in some ways for Kim Yong-chol, the former top spy, to walk into the House like he did.

Have either of you heard anything about what North Korea has agreed to give up? Have you heard any concessions so far?

GALLUCCI: Right now, we should recognize that there is something of a de facto pause in their testing of nuclear explosive devices and the testing of extended-range ballistic missiles.

BRENNAN: That's a concession?

GALLUCCI: That's good thing.


GALLUCCI: But it's also a way -- in a way, something to watch out for, because we don't want to end up there.

We don't want to end up with legitimizing a North Korean nuclear weapons program, ballistic missiles which they are not testing. That is not a good endgame. It's not bad for a condition going into talks. We have a long, long way to go.

BRENNAN: The president, Jung, also said he doesn't want to use the term maximum pressure anymore. And this was the idea of isolating Kim Jong-un and putting sanctions on him. How significant was that?

PAK: I was surprised hear him say that, since maximum pressure is the policy that we have been following.

I am unclear as to whether he has discussed this with the allies. I suspect that this is the first time that they have heard that maximum pressure is no longer on the table.

But I think that maximum pressure really was the only thing that could get Kim Jong-un to reorient his mind on how he approaches nuclear weapons. I think, for the most part, it would be -- it would require mental gymnastics for us to think that Kim Jong-un is going to give up nuclear weapons on the 70th anniversary of North Korea's founding, something that he completed, that his grandfather and his father were unable to do.

So, to give that away for a McDonald's franchise in North Korea, I think, is something that does not make logical sense to me.

BRENNAN: You're laughing, Ambassador.

GALLUCCI: I am, because I like the McDonald's reference.


GALLUCCI: So -- but, in truth, for those who think there really is a chance that North Korea would give up their nuclear weapons over a period of time in an action-for-action-type process, not a big bang, which everything goes before they get anything, but sort of what we have done before, but better, those who think that believe that the only way this would happen is if the North were going to get some sort of guarantees that they didn't need to worry about regime change.

That's the only way. And that means normalization of relations. And the only way most of us can see that happening is if among the things that happen is that North Korea addresses the human rights issue.

That's a very tough one. And you, I'm sure, noticed the president didn't -- he admitted he did not raise it.

BRENNAN: Yes, he made a point of saying, maybe later.

GALLUCCI: Right. Right.

BRENNAN: He didn't talk about it.

Thank you, both of you.

We will be back in a moment. So, stay with us.


BRENNAN: Up next on FACE THE NATION, we will kick off 2018 midterm election Battleground Tracker. That's our joint polling program with YouGov.

Stay with us.


BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. So, stay with us.


BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. I'm Margaret Brennan.

We are just over five months away from the midterm elections and today we are kicking off our battleground tracker poll with the CBS News director of elections and surveys, Anthony Salvanto.

Anthony, good to have you here.

Typically, the party in control of the White House often loses some seats with these congressional races. The Democrats seem to be banking on a blue wave to retake control. Is it that clear cut?

ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS NEWS ELECTIONS AND SURVEYS DIRECTOR: It is not that clear cut. We think today, if the election were held, House control would be a tossup. The Democrats are poised to gain seats. You're right about that. They're the out party. Typically the out party does get some seats. We think they would get enough to just barely take the majority. We estimate they'd get 219 seats. It takes 218 to control the House. So it's that close.

What we do think is that as we go along, we're going to see this go back and forth. We think that the House could come down to just a handful of districts. And that's going to be really exciting to watch.

BRENNAN: And as you say, those districts in particular are going to make it even more exciting because they're not clear Trump supporters, they're not clear Democrats, they're suburban and they're -- they tend to be fairly well off.

SALVANTO: Right. So here's how we know this. The House, of course, is a race for 435 districts. They're all up. But the bulk of them never change parties. Incumbents get re-elected, partisans stay with their preferred party. So all of this really comes down to a relatively smaller number of districts that are competitive, where both parties have good candidates, where the voters are more evenly divided. And that's how we know this.

What we've done here is we've taken a sample in our surveys, heavily concentrated in these districts. We think there are about 50 to 60 of them that are going to determine control. These are the swing districts.

So as we look really hard at those places, and we start to follow them, they're coast to coast. They're in Republican pockets of blue states, like New Jersey or California, even Texas. They are heavily suburban, as you mentioned, and they're the places where there's not necessarily a concentration of Trump voters and there's not necessarily a part of the Democratic base. And that's a big part of what puts them in play.

BRENNAN: Now, establishment Republicans in particular want to run on the economy. And certainly the president gave them what -- what he's crediting as a very strong jobs number. And you do see unemployment rates for Hispanics and African-American at multi-decade lows. How does that change the race?

SALVANTO: Well, the good economy is clearly part of the wind at the backs of Republicans. It's one of the things we think in the survey could help them hang on to their majority, even if narrowly, because voters across these districts say that the economy is good. And that is true of both Republicans and Democrats and independents. Clearly a plus for the Republicans.

But there's a bit of a -- what you might call a pay-off problem for this Republican Congress in that when we ask about some of the things that the Congress has done, including economic things, like the tax cut, like changes to health care, most voters say that they haven't yet felt the effects of those things, not the positive effects, not even negatively, just -- they just aren't there. So, you know, you start to see the Republicans probably needing to make an argument going forward that these things have helped people because that, at least in the surveys, doesn't seem to be resonating just yet.

BRENNAN: So when the White House talks about making more tweaks to tax policy, that might be something to help out some of those Republicans.

The Democrats, though, by all accounts, are energized. Does that make a difference?

SALVANTO: Yes. Coming off a year in which they did well in a lot of these special elections, lot of Democrats have been hopeful that they can kind of scale up that enthusiasm, let it carry over to those 435 districts. You know, even in this survey, we see the Democrats heavily dependent on turning out voters who don't typically vote in midterms. I really can't stress that enough. Even as we watch the polling going forward, you're going to see lot of folks who tell us, tell us that they're going to vote in the midterms, but they don't profile as though they normally do. Often midterm turnout is lower than it is in a presidential. Democrats have to change that equation. Right now, Democrats say that they are doing it. They say they're enthusiastic. They say that this midterm vote is as important as their presidential vote. That's an important part to watch going forward. We'll see if they can sustain it though over six months.

BRENNAN: Because that's always the question, right? The president himself is not on the ballots. Is this actually sort of a referendum on him and what he's delivered?

SALVANTO: Yes. In congressional elections, we usually see a majority of people saying that they feel their vote is either to support or oppose the president. It's no different here. Half of the folks voting for Democrats say that they're doing it to oppose the administration. But is that enough? Is that going to go enough? Because we also see that people say they're not quite clear on what the Democrats would do if they got elected, if they got the House majority. So that's part of the argument that it look like Democrats still need to make if they're going to get even more seats and sort of go more -- even more comfortably into a position where they could take control.

BRENNAN: And, of course, Steve Bannon, who was very successful in advising the president back in 2016, is urging Republicans to run on immigration, not necessarily the economy.


BRENNAN: Is that a good strategy?

SALVANTO: Well, you know, look, when we have talked to Republicans in these districts, they want to hear about immigration. They say that they feel like immigration has changed their local area, and not for the better. It's one of their top issues, if not the top issue, and it's something that sort of unites the base. In particular --

BRENNAN: As a security issue or as an employment issue?

SALVANTO: It's actually both. It's very much both. They are concerned about security, but they've also been, in recent polling, also concerned about immigrants taking low wage jobs.

Now, the difference, though, is that in lot of these districts, folks say that jobs are still at least a minor -- at least a minor problem. And, you know, if you look at -- back to the idea that the economy is still good, the larger question to watch is, do the Republicans run on this sort of larger, hey, everything's good, the economy's good message? Or, if you're talking about immigration, you're kind of saying, well, there's still problems that need to be fixed because it hasn't -- this, you know, problem really hasn't been solved.

Well, which is it, right? Which, in the larger sense, is it, everything's good or there's still problems? That's one of the key things to watch as they go forward.

BRENNAN: You heard former House Speaker John Boehner say earlier that there's no Republican Party anymore, it's Trump's party. Republicans are taking a nap somewhere. How on the money is he with that?

SALVANTO: Well, in terms of candidates for Congress, three quarters of Republicans say that they want their House candidates to be somebody in line with Donald Trump, and that's as opposed to when we asked them if they'd want a candidate who's more independent from Donald Trump. So to that extent, it does appear to be the president's party.

BRENNAN: Well, obviously Republican leaders in the House and Senate can't like hearing the criticism, but for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, how concerned does he need to be on his side of the capital about losing some seats?

SALVANTO: Only somewhat, but not very, because the map really favors the Republicans going in. Here's what I mean. When we look at the third of the Senate that's up for election this cycle, most of them are Democrats and there's lot of Democratic senators who were trying to hang on in states that are traditionally Republican, that are red states, right? And that's particularly true across the Midwest, from Missouri to Indiana to North Dakota.

You know, when you look at that and you think in this hyper partisan environment where Republicans vote for Republicans, and Democrats for Democrats, you know, these senators have to worry that that's what's going to happen to them. That because there's more Republicans in these states, that they'll get swept out. The difference, and what we'll watch through the year is whether or not these red state Democrats can make it about local issues, can make it about them and their candidacy, as opposed to that national partisanship. But, overall, on balance, the map favors the Republicans.

BRENNAN: We'll be hearing from you, Anthony, quite a lot as we head towards the fall.

Thank you very much.

SALVANTO: Should be fun.

BRENNAN: We'll be right back. We'll talk about a lot of these issues with our political panel.


BRENNAN: We'd like to welcome our panel now for some political analysis.

David Nakamura covers the White House for "The Washington Post." Susan Page is the Washington bureau chief at "USA Today." Michael Crowley is the senior foreign affairs correspondent at "Politico." And Ed O'Keefe is CBS' own political correspondent.

Susan, let's start off with you. "The New York Times" yesterday got this 20-page memo from the president's attorneys laying out some of what their justification is, basically saying that the president can't legally be compelled to testify, nor can he be guilty of obstruction of justice. Some are reading this as the president saying he's above the law. How should we understand this?

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": It's a pretty brash memo. We have -- we have a tradition of a powerful presidency. We do not have a tradition of an all-powerful presidency. And, in fact, the genius of the founders was a system of checks and balances that we have.

I don't know if the courts would uphold the view that the lawyers outline in this -- in this memo. But I do think, even if they did, the final question will come down to a political one. It will come down to a question of impeachment. And that is what the White House is also focused on, not only the legal questions involved here about whether you can keep the president from being forced to testify, but the political ones of whether you can make it less likely that he would be impeached regardless of what happens with the Russian investigation.

BRENNAN: Susan, just, though, this is going to be a political question. You heard Congressman Hurd say it would be a problem, some of these things, particularly on the pardon front that the president tried to do that to himself. Something the president's attorneys said unthinkable but he probably has the power to do it.

ED O'KEEFE, CBS NEWS POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He does. And it's as if this week he finally realized that, that this is one of those things he can do. And, in essence, do whatever he wants with.

The fact that he met with Kim Kardashian, the reality TV star. He -- he last week pardoned Jack Johnson, the boxer, but only after Sylvester Stallone got involved. And I think, you know, there's some concern here in town that this is a signal perhaps to, you know, folks that are under a legal cloud right now that, hey, if you ride this out, I'll take care of you on the back end. But Will Hurd said it's a potential issue. The House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, this morning also said he shouldn't go too far and certainly not consider pardoning himself were it ever to come to that.

BRENNAN: The former attorney general, Eric Holder, who served under the Obama administration, said he -- he laid out that he thinks this is clearly the president trying to send a message to some of his allies that, don't worry too much, you'll have a pardon coming your way.

DAVID NAKAMURA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Sure, you look at these pardons just from this past week, but also the pardon of Scooter Libby. I mean these are big, bold moves that the president seems to be taking that are outside what had been established in the last couple presidencies as a process by which these things look less politicized. And the president, whether it's a direct signal or not, he's saying, I'm not bound by convention once again. I'll willing to take the heat on something like this. And that's very clear, not just to maybe the people in this probe, but others who are around the president who may be dragged into this who -- down the line.

BRENNAN: Some may look at this, though, and -- and the cast of characters, the possible pardon for Martha Stewart, the pardon of Dinesh D'Souza.


BRENNAN: Are we over reading this? Is it just randomness?

NAKAMURA: Well, no, it's also very political. I mean these are people who support the president, who attacked -- have attacked Barack Obama. So the president, you know, it's about his politics. And so it's -- a system that had been politicized in the past, that previous presidents, most recent presidents had tried to make less politicized, this president's jumping right in and saying, I don't mind that. I relish a fight. I relish the backlash almost. We've seen that in -- with his cultural wars and all sorts of other decisions.

MICHAEL CROWLEY, "POLITICO": It also speaks to his personality. You know, this kind of fiat power he has. You know, you are pardoned. I have -- I am the supreme authority in the country. I don't care about how this was done in the past. I mean it's very Trumpian. It's almost out of a reality show. You know, the opposite of "you're fired," "you're fired," "you're pardoned." He loves having that almost kind of magical power and exercising it without anyone in Congress able to stop him.

BRENNAN: Well, I want to ask you, Michael, the president's also going to Canada this week at a time when this may not be so welcome --


BRENNAN: Given the tariffs he just put in place.


BRENNAN: You heard the Canadian prime minister come out and say this is not only deeply insulting, it's hurtful and it's damaging, ultimately. What is the approach here? Is this just about gaining leverage for NAFTA?

CROWLEY: Well, I think that's part of it. It may also be partly politics, the Trump, as the midterms approach, and Trump is thinking about his re-election, he wants to show his base that he is taking clear, tangible actions to stand up for American industry against these foreign companies. As we all know, core theme of his 2016 campaign was that America is getting ripped off both economically and diplomatically. So this is a way for him to follow through on that promise.

And I do think if you look at Trump's recorded going all the way back to the 1980s, when he started talking about national politics, he does think America is being ripped off. Now, loads of economists and leading political figures think that he doesn't really understand how these things work. But I do think that this truly motivates him, this idea that we're getting taken for a ride.

I do think that -- and so he's going to be a skunk at the garden party up in Canada at the G-7. And he's opening himself up to strong counter attacks. I thought John Kasich actually had a nice line where he said, it's not America first, it's American alone. That does seem to resonate, I think, with a lot of people.

NAKAMURA: Yes, today, actually, you had the head of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, saying on Twitter that, you know, we've gone from the G-8 economies to -- to putting Russia out for their bad behavior and now it was -- the G-7 is now the G-6 and America is basically isolating itself.

And another -- I talked to a former Obama State Department official just yesterday for a story who pointed out that these tariffs came in on the same day that Trump is welcoming a top North Korea official to the White House --


NAKAMURA: And saying, I'm not going to use maximum pressure any more. You know, we're on -- we're talking well. So was that a timed on purpose or not, it looks bad to the allies. You're seeing not just Trudeau, but now finally Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe getting more angry with Trump and --

PAGE: But here's the risk. Republicans -- and Republicans are terrified, but that's the best thing -- and the Republicans have going for them -- is this economy.



PAGE: And 3.8 percent unemployment, that's a remarkable number we -- that we got on Friday. And there's concern that the -- getting into a trade war with Canada and Europe and Mexico is going to cost that remarkable economic recovery that we've seen. And that would be very bad for the White House, for the -- for the Republicans, and, by the way, for the country.

O'KEEFE: You know it's bad when the House speaker puts out a statement that explicitly says, I disagree with this decision.

BRENNAN: But didn't mention the president's name.

O'KEEFE: Didn't mention the president's name and hasn't issued those kinds of statements in the past when he has done or said other things. When other senators call it dumb, when others say they're going to try to persuade the White House to pull this back, they know it's a problem that could cost them big time in November.

BRENNAN: Well, we have so much more to talk about on this front. But I do want to take a quick break here and come back in a moment with more insights from our political panel.

Stay with us.


BRENNAN: We are back now with our panel.

And I want to pick up on this big question of what's going to be happening with North Korea. You've got the Japanese prime minister coming to town, a summit there. You just had the North Koreans visiting the White House.

David, you've written a bit about the photo op, the propaganda that the North Koreans won this week.


BRENNAN: Why does that matter?

NAKAMURA: Well, you know, a lot of people say, look, a presidential summit should be a reward for steps taken before the summit. And you've seen some -- North Korean do some things like, you know, shut down their nuclear testing, as you guys discussed earlier in the show. But these people are saying they have not really formally committed to some sort of clear, denuclearization process and Trump's jumping the gun. He's starting with the summit. So now you have him going to Singapore for something this president thinks a lot about, which is the public display and the show. And the president seemed very enamored with images of Kim Jong-un and the South Korean president, Moon, holding hands and stepping back and forth across the DMZ line. So what is he thinking in terms of that?

But people say, look, you can't do go far, you're America. This is -- you know, you -- moments ago you were name calling him. And so what are you going to do to sort of make clear that you're going to continue this tough, you know, maximum pressure that you talked about and not go too far? North Korea used this -- this kind of summit to try to say, we're equal with the world's greatest power.

BRENNAN: Well, Michael, I mean, the president's unpredictability, many would say -- former defense secretary, Robert Gates, who has been a critic of the president in the past, said unpredictability has been to his benefit here. And certainly, just a week ago, the summit was off. Now it's back on. No more maximum pressure. The policy seems to be changing as we speak.

CROWLEY: It does. It seems like the president is actually improvising this. And it's sort of hard to predict where it goes. But I think there is a school of thought that says that that unpredictability frightened the North Koreans and thought, man, you know, the entire United States foreign policy establishment says you could never launch a first strike against North Korea but this guy just might do it, so maybe we should start talking to him.

The alternate theory is that this has nothing to do with that. That the North Koreans essentially got where they needed to be with their nuclear and missile programs and said, OK, we're ready to talk. And everything else was just noise, the tweeting and the bluster.

On the one hand, what I think we saw from Trump in David's story, which was so good, talked about the photograph with Trump in the Oval Office with this North Korean envoy beaming as he got this enormous letter from North Korean leader, seemed very pleased by the size of the envelope. There was a sort of eagerness and enthusiasm that makes a lot of people nervous, that he wants this deal too badly. He wants to be seen as a peacemaker to shut up all these Democrats who have been saying he's going to start a nuclear war and, you know, end life on the earth as we know it.

On the other hand, there was a note of realism, I thought, in his rhetoric where he said, look, we're not -- we're probably not going to settle -- probably not going to settle everything in one summit and this may be the beginning of a process. It could take a long time.

BRENNAN: A process.

CROWLEY: A process. Now --

BRENNAN: That means something in diplomatic terms. That means I'm buying myself some wiggle room.

CROWLEY: That means -- right. And so a lot of people would say, well, duh, we've been say this all along. But it does show that maybe some reality is creeping into his -- what seemed like earlier belief that maybe you could snap your fingers and solve this problem. It's going to take years.

BRENNAN: Ed, one of the problems the president continues to talk about from his perception is a problem is immigration.


BRENNAN: But yet you're seeing Republicans not want to move forward with a vote on this.

O'KEEFE: Well, some --

BRENNAN: At least the Republican leadership.

O'KEEFE: Right.

BRENNAN: As you heard Congressman Hurd say, he thinks they can force a vote (INAUDIBLE).

O'KEEFE: Yes. So there's this procedural move in the House called a discharge petition that would essentially force the hand of Paul Ryan and -- and compel him to hold votes on competing immigration proposals. Interesting that Hurd told you earlier that he thinks that that will happen. The earliest it could happen I believe is June 25th.

Our polling shows that -- the battleground polling out this morning -- that immigration actually remains a top of mind concern, 51 percent of people want to hear a lot about it. It places in, I think, fourth among the issues. The problem is, Democrats and Republicans want to hear different things about it. Democrats want to find a way to allow those dreamers to stay in the country legally, allow them to continue to contribute to society. Republicans are concerned that they're adversely affecting their communities and they want to see tougher border security put in place, employment verification and things like that.

And I think it's just striking. Anthony mentioned it earlier. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans tell us that amid -- that with new immigrants coming into the communities, they believe it's adversely affecting them. That is why Ryan doesn't want this to happen because even if it passes the House with mostly Democratic votes, the president doesn't want it, the Senate doesn't wanted it, so you're creating a two-pronged problem. Conservatives will be upset that you allowed it at all and didn't do what they wanted. And then these moderate Republicans, who are in the swing districts where they're going to lose this year, are going to have to go home empty handed and potentially loses the races. It's a huge headache for them. One they'd like to sort out, but they're not going to be able to most likely if -- if recent history is any guide.

BRENNAN: I want to get to, I guess for lack of a better term, a cultural moment this week. One that the president had some thoughts on. The comedian, Rosanne, had some racist statements she made. Her employer at ABC fired her from the program she had. That was very successful. Then you had another TV network issuing statements about a comedian who works there who had some four-letter words to refer to the first daughter. I mean it seems like the rhetoric can't get any worse, David. But why is the president talking about it? Why does this matter?

NAKAMURA: Well, the president has shown that he does not shy away from these cultural fights. I mean we also had a -- the NFL change their rules on national anthems. Something the president took credit for.

I mean so you had just a few weeks ago we were here talking about the White House Correspondents Dinner and the White House taking umbrage to all the (INAUDIBLE). But when it came down to Roseanne's comments, did they jump in and say anything? No. They've used that edge to say, hey, the president deserves an apology for all these other things that were said by liberal -- liberals and liberal comedians. So, you know, I think that -- this is a sense that it's not just Trump, but obviously our culture and social media, people saying their inside thoughts out loud. I mean these things are happening almost on a weekly basis, these big flare ups, and I think this is a president who somewhat, you know, obviously pushes those buttons and, you know, enjoys talk about that.

PAGE: What has struck me about this though is the -- the increasing willingness and expectation that corporate America will step up on these cultural issues. That if ABC has this offensive -- has a star who says these offensive thing, they are expected to take action, or if TBS does or if Starbucks has a controversy that involves racial profiling at one of their stores, that they are expected to do something about that. I wonder if it's even because a feeling that Washington is no longer able to respond in real time to some of these cultural issues that we now expect corporate America to do that.

BRENNAN: Right. Well -- or it's -- it's fundamentally not so much a political issue, it's always a business decision.

NAKAMURA: I would just say --

BRENNAN: Let me just ask you, Susan --


BRENNAN: On that -- we were talking about the blue wave not being a tsunami.

PAGE: Yes.

BRENNAN: I know you had a conversation recently with former President Clinton.

PAGE: I interviewed President Clinton and James Patterson. They have a thriller that comes out today as a matter of fact. And I asked President Clinton if he thought there was a blue wave coming. He has some experience with waves since he lost control of the House and Senate in his first midterm election, 1994. He said a blue wave had been building, built he wasn't sure that it still was, that there were too many intervening narratives, and that -- I think that includes this good economy and the prospect of what will look like a successful summit with North Korea, imperiling Democrat's expectation, the conventional wisdom, that Democrats were going to -- are going to win the House in November.

BRENNAN: And that's what's so interesting to hear John Boehner also say there's no Republican Party. You've got that identity crisis on the Democratic side and the Republican side playing out here.

Thank you for all of your insights.

And we will be back in just a moment here on FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.


BRENNAN: Thank you for watching.

Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.