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Full transcript: "Face the Nation" on May 20, 2018

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MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS: It's Sunday May 20. I'm Margaret Brennan. And this is FACE THE NATION.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have several shots fired.


BRENNAN: The country is reeling from yet another deadly school shooting. This time, eight students and two teachers were killed and 13 injured at Santa Fe High School just outside of Houston on Friday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This has been going on too long in our country, too many years, too many decades now.


BRENNAN: We will have the latest on what motivated the 17-year-old attacker to take his father's shotgun and revolver to stage a massacre at his own high school.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: The red flag warnings were either nonexistent or very imperceptible.


BRENNAN: We will hear from Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, who says he's hit rock bottom when it comes to gun violence.

Then, as the Senate Intelligence Committee issues a report that sides with the intelligence community that Russia did meddle in the 2016 election, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation hits its one-year anniversary.

We will talk to the top Democrat on that Senate committee, Virginia's Mark Warner.

Plus, we will hear from White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow about a new deal with China on trade.

And plans for the president's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are on shaky ground, as the North Koreans balk at some of the rhetoric coming out of Washington.

We will have analysis on that and all the political news of the week ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION.

Across the country, Americans are mourning again and asking why a 17-year-old shot and killed 10 victims in Friday's massacre.

We begin our broadcast with CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca, covering the story for us in Santa Fe, Texas -- Omar.


Santa Fe High School is still an active crime scene, even though the suspect is in custody. Investigators know what kind of guns the shooter used, where he got them, but what they don't know is why.


VILLAFRANCA (voice-over): The sights and sounds of Friday's shooting are all too familiar by now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I shouldn't going go through this at my school.

VILLAFRANCA: And as the community of Santa Fe mourns, investigators are trying to understand the actions of 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis.

Yesterday, his family issued a statement offering prayers to the victims, while also saying of their son, "What we have learned from media reports seems incompatible with the boy we love."

Pagourtzis had no prior run ins with the law, though disturbing social media posts have surfaced, including images of his black trench coat, recalling the clothes worn by the Columbine High School shooters back in 1999.

Yesterday, "The Los Angeles Times" quoted the mother of one Santa Fe victim, saying her daughter had turned down the shooter's advances a week ago. But the only public comment from authorities so far is that Pagourtzis -- quote -- "did not shoot students he did like so he could have his story told."

Other questions include whether charges will be brought against the shooter's father, who was reportedly the legal owner of the shotgun and pistol used.

Despite the high number of casualties, the school itself had seemed well-prepared for such an attack. School resource officer John Barnes was the first person to confront the shooter. The retired Houston police officer was shot and is recovering in the hospital after surgery.


VILLAFRANCA: Classes are canceled Monday and Tuesday for all Santa Fe schools. Grief counselors will be here to help the community. And keep in mind this is the end of the school year, so students will be going to graduations and also going to some of their fellow classmates' funerals -- Margaret.

BRENNAN: Omar, thank you.

The city of Houston is just right up the road from Santa Fe.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo joins us now. He's expressed his frustration with gun violence in a Facebook post that went viral this weekend.

Chief, thank you for joining us.

I know a friend of yours, John Barnes, a retired Houston police officer, who was one of the armed guards at the school during the shooting, is someone you just visited with. Can you tell us what his condition is?

ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON POLICE CHIEF: Well, thank God that he's in very serious condition, but he's stable.

I can tell you that we expect him to recover. His family is there with him. His friends are there with him. And they're very grateful for all the prayers and all the messages they have been receiving from around the country and the world.

BRENNAN: Well, Chief, because he was there, armed guards were there -- in fact, this school had won safety awards in the past -- why didn't all those measures prevent this attack?

ACEVEDO: You know, that's part of the ongoing investigation as to what we can do better.

But we know one thing. If it wasn't for those officers that ran towards the gunfire, for John and his assistant chief and others, that actually discharged their firearms and returned fire, leading to the suspect surrendering, who knows what the casualty count would have been.

But they are heroes. But now we need to look ahead to see how we can do better next time, because there will be a next time, based on the inaction of elected officials across this country.

BRENNAN: Who specifically are you faulting for not taking action?

ACEVEDO: Well, let me tell you, people at the state level and the federal level and too many places in our country are not doing anything, other than offering prayers.

I'm grateful that I'm working in a city with a mayor who is transformative in Sylvester Turner. And what we're starting to see is that local governments are starting to make a difference.

And I think that the American people, gun owners, the vast majority of which are pragmatic and actually support gun sense and gun reform in terms of keeping guns in the right hands -- we need to start using the ballot box and ballot initiatives to take the matters out of the hands of people that are doing nothing that are elected into the hands of the people, to see that the will of the people in this country is actually carried out.

BRENNAN: But, in this specific instance, the shooter didn't have a known criminal record. His father had legally obtained the guns that he used in this shooting. They weren't semiautomatic weapons.

So, specifically, what laws do you think need to be changed that would have prevented this attack?

ACEVEDO: Well, I think, in this one specifically, one of the things that we need to consider is, if you have firearms in your home, and you do not secure them, and you don't secure them in manner that can preclude someone from grabbing them and taking them and carrying out this carnage, that there is a criminal liability that attaches.

When there's skin in the game for all weapons owners, including myself, I think that people will have a different outlook. And so we have got to make sure that everyone stores them in a responsible manner and that there are significant penalties when they fail to do so and people die as result of those -- of that failure.

BRENNAN: So, you're saying you believe the father of the shooter needs to be held legally accountable?

ACEVEDO: I believe that anyone that owns a firearm that doesn't secure it properly and it ends up in the wrong hands and used to kill innocent people, that that should carry some significant consequence.

And we need to think about that on the national level across this country.

BRENNAN: All right, Chief, thank you for giving us your insights.

ACEVEDO: Yes, thank you.

BRENNAN: Our next guest is Senator Mark Warner, Democrat from Virginia.

Senator, welcome back to the show.


BRENNAN: Last time you were on with us was after the Parkland students held a march on Washington calling for greater gun restrictions. And around that same time, you said, "I don't think we can sit through more of the mass murders and not take action."

Will you take any this time?

WARNER: My heart -- absolutely, I want us to take action.

But I understand why people are so frustrated.

And, obviously, condolences to the folks in Santa Fe.

But I think people across America want more than condolences. I don't think there's a single bill that will stop these tragedies. But there needs to be a combination of increased school security, which I would not include in terms of arming teachers. I think that is the wrong direction.

I think more mental health training for particularly these troubled youth, boys in the high school age area. And I think we need reasonable restrictions on guns. I mean, background checks -- as I have said to you last time I was on, I think we need to look at assault weapon bans.

And we're the only nation in the world that has this many guns awash in our society. And, consequently, we have more of these tragedies than any other nation around. And my hope would be for some of my Republican colleagues, that they would allow their positions to evolve.

BRENNAN: Yours did on assault-style weapons and gun magazines.


WARNER: A decade ago, when I was governor, I was supported by the NRA.

But the NRA, as more and more of these tragedies, whether it's Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook, Parkland, now Texas, and there's host of others that have been faded from our memory, same old, same old is not going to get it.

We have to put the notion that guns are part of the problem, and a reasonable set of rules that I think the vast majority of gun owners would support as well have to be part of the solution.

BRENNAN: But nothing before November in this Congress?

WARNER: Well, again, I don't know how my colleagues who won't be open to any of these solutions can face down victims or victims' families when they come in time and again and say, please, take these actions, reasonable restrictions.

My hope is that maybe this will spur action. But, unfortunately, if history is the prejudge, there will be angst and anguish, and unless we change our Congress, we won't get the changes we need.

BRENNAN: The president is tweeting this morning about a "New York Times" report that he is trying to discredit, saying that foreign governments other than Russia offered to provide help during the campaign, specifically with social media manipulation.

Is this something that the Senate Intelligence Committee is looking into or will look into?

WARNER: We are going to look into all of these claims, counterclaims.

The thing that I find amazing is that somehow the president and his allies...

BRENNAN: To you, these reports are credible?

WARNER: There are credible components of the "New York Times"' report. Some of the information is new to us, but we're going to continue our investigation.

But what is remarkable to me is that the president somehow seems not to understand that, when a foreign nation tries to interfere in our elections, that's wrong. That's illegal. The validity of the two Arab nations potentially intervening, time will tell how much truth there is there.

But in regards, for example, to Russia, we had just this week our intelligence community, bipartisan, came out and reaffirmed the findings of the intelligence community's overall assessment: Russia massively intervened in our elections, and they did so to help Trump and hurt Clinton.

Now, the president -- all of the tweeting the president does, all of the tweeting the president does...

BRENNAN: Still no conclusions on cooperation or conspiracy?

WARNER: Well, we do know this.

We have scene repeated actions by at least Donald Trump Jr. and others of being interested in receiving dirt on Clinton, whether it was the famous Trump Tower meeting, whether it was the outreach to Mr. Papadopoulos. Now we're seeing a potential pattern with other nations reaching out to try to interfere.

The president, who continues to be obsessed with this, what part of -- what part of the basic tenets of our democracy is that you don't have foreign powers intervene does he not understand?

BRENNAN: I want to ask you also about something the president is publicly complaining about.

He has said again yesterday that the FBI or the Department of Justice has, in his words, been infiltrating his campaign for political reasons. And he called for those agencies to hand over documents to Congress.

To your knowledge, has there been any such action by those agencies?

WARNER: I have no knowledge of such actions.

I do know this, that when the president or his allies in the House start going out and trying to threaten that they want to reveal...

BRENNAN: You are talking about Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

WARNER: ... classified information, and when individuals want to try to reveal classified information about the identity of an FBI or CIA source, that is against the law.

The first thing you learn when you get involved with the intelligence community is that you need to protect sources and methods and that, if you were to out or burn such an agent, that person's life could be in jeopardy.

And I find it outrageous that the president's allies are, in effect, playing fast and loose with confidential information. And don't take my word. Take the president's own FBI director, Mr. Wray, who said, if you go out and start exposing classified information about informants, that you will make America less safe.

I find this totally outrageous on some of the actions of these allies.

BRENNAN: Just to clarify, when you are saying that there is this -- it would be illegal to disclose this information, there are now published press reports with at least one, if not more alleged FBI informants and their names.

Are you saying that congressional sources leaked this information to the press?

WARNER: I'm not saying the congressional sources leaked. But I do hope...


BRENNAN: So, you don't know if there was illegal action?

WARNER: I do hope there is investigation into if they did leak.

And we have seen from some of Mr. Trump's allies a constant pattern of leaking. In my mind, this crosses the line that, up until now, even some of the president's allies have respected a bit the integrity of our community.

But this kind of ongoing assault from the president and his allies about the FBI, about the Department of Justice, where they attack them ad hominem, that leads to an area -- era where people can start saying, I'm going to decide which laws I want to follow and which laws I don't want to follow.

I believe you may see that kind of result taking place in this circumstance, where it appears that some of the president's allies are trying to decide, well, I don't want to follow the law that says I have to keep classified information secret.

If we get into that realm, we're in dangerous, dangerous territory.

BRENNAN: But if it is classified information that they have, are you saying that there is some credibility to this idea?

The president's version of events is that there's an FBI spy in his campaign. That is different from an FBI informant or somebody who was a whistle-blower.

WARNER: I have no information.

BRENNAN: What part of this is true?

WARNER: I have no information that would indicate that the president's tweets or theory of the case is at all based in truth.

I do know this, that classified information, identity of agents is sacrosanct. And when people, for political purposes, start being willing to try to reveal that information -- and I'm not saying that has happened, but clearly the president and some of his allies have been calling for the FBI and Justice Department to come forward with those names.

The FBI and Justice Department have tried to avoid that, because that's just not the way they operate. Then we're getting into areas that are not traditional in any sense of the word.

BRENNAN: Senator, thank you for your time.

WARNER: Thank you.

BRENNAN: We will be right back in one minute for more FACE THE NATION.


BRENNAN: We turn to Larry Kudlow. As the director of the National Economic Council, he is the president's top economic adviser.

Larry, it's good to have you on the show.


BRENNAN: Have we avoided a trade war, or is the threat of tariffs still on the table?

KUDLOW: You know, I think we have made a lot of progress, and perhaps even more progress than we might have thought when we went to Beijing a couple of weeks ago.

And the communique makes that very clear, that we're going to substantially reduce the U.S. trade gap. I mean, here is the deal. We want China to open up markets, lower tariffs, lower non-tariff barriers, give us a chance. We also want China, however, to change their behavior with respect to technology transfers and also the theft of intellectual property rights.

Now, are we going to get everything? I don't know. But I will say this. We're making terrific progress. And I think the meetings here in Washington were very positive. And the president himself has become very optimistic and supportive.

BRENNAN: But did he take that threat of $150 billion in tariffs off the table?

KUDLOW: Well, look, I don't think we're at that stage yet. OK?

There's a lot of numbers being thrown around, $200 billion, this -- this -- we're not at that detail point.

BRENNAN: But that's the trade deficit you're talking about with the $200 billion.


And, look, we want -- the president insists that we lower the trade deficit. But, again, the details will be down the road. Remember, these things are not so precise. I mean, macroeconomics plays a big role.

But our view is, China must open up. They must become fair traders. They have not been. The rest of the world knows they have not been. And China has got to stop the theft of intellectual property and the forced transfer of technology.

Those are our family jewels. And we can make deals on this. I believe we can make arrangements. That has not yet been completed. But the early going, I mean, tons of energy coming, tons of agriculture, tons more manufacturing, that's all in this communique.

BRENNAN: Well, let's talk about the communique, because the language in there says China has agreed to significantly increase its purchases of U.S. goods.


BRENNAN: How much and what are they buying?

KUDLOW: We will see. We know it's just...

BRENNAN: So, no specific agreement yet?

KUDLOW: What you're getting here is, the negotiations are proceeding very well. We're on the same page. Too early for exact, precise details.

Maybe I got ahead of the curve, but the number $200 billion deficit reduction, which is something that president likes, has been around by all the people on both sides. But it's too soon to lock that in.

I just think the direction here is the key. And I just want to add, if we can get success here, if China opens up, if we move to a much more balanced fair trading, this is going to be terrific for the American economy. We're the most competitive economy in the world right now, after the tax reduction, after the regulatory rollback. Money is pouring in.

This will be terrific for us.

BRENNAN: But the risk of still putting tariffs on that could hurt agricultural exports from this country?

KUDLOW: I beg your pardon?

BRENNAN: The risk of putting tariffs on that could hurt agricultural exports for this country, is that still something American farmers need to worry about?

KUDLOW: Look, they need to keep an eye on all of that, absolutely.

But let me just say this. Tariffs are part of any negotiation, and tariffs maybe have to be part of any enforcement. You cannot do these kinds of major change without using everything that's in your quiver.

And I think the president has made that very clear. It would be better to go ahead, market openings, let American companies own their companies in China, so we don't have to hand over our technology advances.

Let them stop the theft. But if we can drive -- we're going in the right direction here. And I think that is the absolute key point.

And, again, why do you do this? You do this to grow our economy better.


KUDLOW: You do this to help a lot of the different sectors. By the by, my view is, China will be helped if we pull this...


BRENNAN: And you have always been a growth guy, Larry.

KUDLOW: Yes. Yes.

BRENNAN: I have known you a very long time here.



BRENNAN: But our CBS News Nation Tracker poll gives some credit to the president for some of the things you have been talking about in terms of growing the economy.

More than two-thirds of those we asked say his policies are somewhat or responsible for the economy. But nearly 88 percent say the president is mainly looking out for the interests of big business and the wealthy. Less than half say he's looking out for the middle class.

That's the opposite of what he campaigned on.

KUDLOW: I just don't -- I don't know where that comes from, because it is the opposite.

And I might add, that kind of rhetoric and partisanship is not part of our plan. Let me raise one point.

BRENNAN: But it could become a political issue going into November. The president has campaigned on this promise of the forgotten man and women.

If there is a perception that he's only helping out business, that hurts.

KUDLOW: Middle-income, working folks are already benefiting. Wages are rising, jobs are rising, confidence is rising everywhere you look.

I have argued a million times, if you lower business taxes for large and small businesses, it is precisely the middle-income wage earner who will benefit the most.

I think there's a lot of false rhetoric out there. I have seen surveys, though -- I don't want to live and die on polls. A lot of these things -- Trump is getting very high marks on economic growth. We have gotten through the 3 percent threshold that many of our critics said we couldn't do.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta says it could be 4 percent in the second quarter. I would be happy with 3. But I'm just saying all that side is working very, very well.

And, look, middle-income people, the tax bill, don't forget, we doubled the standard deduction. We improved the child tax credits and so forth. These are all designed to help middle-class folks.

But I don't -- I happen to like successful people. I'm perfectly happy to use the JFK-Ronald Reagan idea that a rising tide lifts all boats.

BRENNAN: You're still a trickle-down guy.

KUDLOW: No, it's not trickle-down, Margaret. It's incentives.

It's, don't punish success, reward success. You have heard me say this for about 25-something years.


KUDLOW: And you know what? All I'm saying is, right now, we're a year, year-and-a-half into it. It looks like we're working -- or it's working.


BRENNAN: Larry, good to talk to you.

And we will be back in a moment with a look at a history-making alliance between the Americans and the British.


BRENNAN: You don't hear of many real-life Hollywood endings, but we want to celebrate one, as Prince Harry married American Meghan Markle.

Yesterday, more than 240 years after the U.S. overthrew the crown, an American joined the royal family. It was a ceremony of hope and unity.

On a day of pomp, pageantry, and plenty of sunshine, 100,000 people lined the streets to watch the royal procession outside Windsor Castle. But it was just the newlywed couple who drove off together into the sunset.

We will be back in a moment.


BRENNAN: We will be right back with lot more FACE THE NATION, including our political panel.

And author and historian Jon Meacham will join us to discuss his new book.

So, stay with us.


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

And it is time now for some political analysis.

Reihan Salam is the executive editor of the "National Review," a policy fellow at the National Review Institute and now a contributing editor at "The Atlantic."

Amy Walter is the national editor of "The Cook Political Report" and starting next month will be the host of WNYC's "The Takeaway." Congrats.

Jamelle Bouie is the chief political correspondent at "Slate" and a CBS News political analyst.

And Anne Gearan is a White House correspondent at "The Washington Post."

Amy, let's start off with you. You have all this forecasting of what could be happening in Congress, what might be happening with the president that could influence the outcome in November.

You've been writing about what isn't happening. Essentially the Republicans aren't defecting, they're not running away, now that Speaker Ryan has chosen to retire or whatever we're going to call it.

So is the forecasting really kind of wrong at this point, that there will be a Democratic wave?

AMY WALTER, "THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT": I think the challenge always in this era is figuring out what's noise and then what's actually happening because there's chaos all the time and trying to separate that out from reality.

And so it seems like we have number of different factors to look at. The first is what you talked about with Larry Kudlow today, which is the fact that the economy is doing really well and that the president gets higher ratings.

I kind of he's handling the economy than his overall job approval.

So which is more important, the way that people think he's doing on the economy or what they think about him as president?

And how that translates to how they vote, are they going to pick the economy or are they going to say, yes, the economy will be doing well but I really don't like him personally and I'm going to cast my vote that way.

And then you have to look at what we've seen in the polling but also what we're seeing on the ground. We know that in all these special elections, Republicans -- I'm sorry, Democrats have outperformed where they normally should be there. The average vote, they've outperformed by almost 10 points.

And so is that the right number or are the polls the right number?

All these things, I think, are going to get mushed together. I think the real question, and this is going to be the challenge for Paul Ryan as we get into these next couple of months here, of what is going on in Washington is, can Congress stop fighting amongst itself?

I think that is when Republicans have their biggest challenge, was when the health care fight, the president was fighting with Republicans, tweeting against Republicans. Now we have immigration. We may have trade. Those things, if they split the party, I think only benefit Democrats.

And one last thing, I think the attention that is being focused, especially in the media, on the Stormy Daniels or on Russia, is actually helping Republicans because what's not getting through is what the Democrats want to talk about, which is the health care challenges, the wake of the health care bill that never really passed or doesn't fix the health care system and rising costs for some other goods.

They want to be able to make that case; they can't get that through.

BRENNAN: You've mentioned immigration; we know the president will be holding an immigration roundtable later this week. I want to play a sound bite, something he said this week that caused some problems.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have people coming into the country, trying to come in, we're stopping a lot of them. But we're taking people out of the country. You wouldn't believe how bad these people are.

These aren't people. These are animals. And we're taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that's never happened before.


BRENNAN: The president says he there was talking specifically about gang members from MS13 that he was not speaking writ large about immigrants, that's certainly not how the Mexican government took it and, Jamelle, that's not what a lot of people heard here.

And the White House said that was unfair criticism of it.

JAMELLE BOUIE, "SLATE" MAGAZINE: The idea that that's unfair criticism, I think, ignores the fact that, for the past three years now, the president has made this consistent linkage between Hispanic immigrants and crime, Hispanic immigrants and disorder.

And so in his campaign announcement speech, they're being crime, they're rapists, some of them I assume are good people, in speeches and addresses and off-the-cuff remarks, again and again, the president has made that linkage.

And so even in this particular case where he's responding to a hypothetical question about an MS13 gang member, he doesn't -- I mean, no -- his language, he doesn't go -- he doesn't talk specifically about MS13 gang members. He talks specifically about "these people," which is vague and it's slippery and it's unclear exactly what he means.

But that is in keeping with his past language. I think that we, when evaluating these kinds of comments and evaluating this kind of imprecision, I'm not sure we should give the benefit of the doubt towards the president only referring specifically to this one group of people.

And having said that, even if that was the case, I do think there's a serious problem with the president dehumanizing any group of people in the United States, even if they are hardened criminals.

I think it opens a door to really problematic actions from federal law enforcement, who take that as a cue for how they should approach gang members, how they should approach people that are within their enforcement purview.

So setting aside the political controversy over what the president means, I think there's a real sort of pragmatic and ethical problem with the president speaking about people as, quote, "animals."

BRENNAN: And it caused diplomatic incident, Anne?

ANNE GEARAN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, the president keeps doing this through imprecision. He -- it is clear, when you listen to the whole conversation, that the woman sheriff who was speaking right before him was speaking about what she -- her lived experience of what she does when she can identify or when her agents can, from time to time, see somebody that they would like to be able to report to federal authorities for possible deportation but are not able to fully report that because of a conflict between state and federal law.

Way too complicated for what the president wanted to talk about, clearly, because his response then is, these people are animals. And that's what the Mexican government hears; it's what Central American governments hear as well.

And I don't think that this is something that the president cares to fix. I mean, we don't know for sure. But he doesn't -- he keeps doing it. He keeps using charged language, which appeals on a political level not only to his own core supporters but potentially to Republicans, who were in the middle of their own immigration issues.

We saw a different kind of split on immigration over the farm bill on Friday. We can talk about that, too. But this is a -- this is immigration. And what Congress does or doesn't do about it is one of the things that's hanging fire before the 2018 midterms. And the president has views on that.

BRENNAN: Reihan, is this a useful mechanism to continue to return to, the mantra about immigration and immigrants?

REIHAN SALAM, "NATIONAL REVIEW": I do think that it's a centrally important issue. I think that it was an incredibly important part of the president's appeal. But just to give you a bigger picture sense, the politics of immigration have changed pretty markedly over the last 10 years or so.

Earlier on, there was this belief that there was a bipartisan deal to be had. Democrats wanted a path to legal status. And Republicans wanted essentially a large amount of guest-worker low-wage migration. That was believed to be this workable consensus.

The trouble is that actually the Republicans who believe that were a very narrow slice of the party that was not, in fact, representative of the party's rank and file. So then there is the possibility of some other deal maybe.

But the thing is that then you have President Trump as a reaction to that deal from the Right, seeing an opportunity, that there was a rupture between elite of the Republican Party and the base of the Republican Party.

So he comes in and offers a more hardline stance. As it happens, though, many of his own supporters also support a path to legal status for some number of unauthorized migrants.

Now the problem is, how do you then course correct again?

So if you see President Trump as making this one correction to a false understanding of what was the Republican consensus position, then you have to have some other course correction.

The problem now, however, is that, on the Democratic side, over the intervening decade, there has also been a pretty marked change. One of the false claims that the president made is that he's deporting more of these people than ever.

Now what does "these people" mean?

Who knows.

But we do know that President Obama in his first term actually was far more successful in deporting criminal unauthorized migrants, right?

But the thing is that that has actually become a very hotly contested issue on the Democratic side. Things that used to be just very taken for granted, you had all sorts of Democrats, including liberal Democrats, who felt like, well, that's a common sense measure, those things are very hotly contested by activists on the Left.

So there -- the politics of immigration are very much in flux. There is a new center to be found. I believe the president can find it but to do that he cannot use rhetoric of this kind. He has to make it clear that I'm making a distinction between dangerous migrants and also those that pretty much everyone across the political spectrum has decided, a very broad swath of people have said, we need to separate this population from this other population for better or for worse.

But he hasn't adjusted to that, partly because he had a big political success with one thing and then that's what you do, you kind of stick with the move that appears to have worked for you, even when the politics on the ground have changed.

WALTER: But he had that chance to do that when we had the debate about DACA, the -- I guess this was a few months ago, where Democrats were willing to kind of come on the wall, I think had the president said, great, I'm going to call that victory, get money for a wall, get money for more border security, do a deal with DACA, that --


SALAM: I actually don't think that's true in an important way for this reason. So basically, the fundamental problem is that there has been this illusion that, if you deal with the DREAMers, if you deal with the DACA-eligible population, that will be enough.

And what Republicans found is that, no, we will not get what we see as substantive concessions on, for example, workplace enforcement and what have you because, basically, on the Democratic side, there's this belief that actually the DREAMers are the entering wedge.

We care about the parents of the DREAMers, too, we care about this much larger population. So the idea of DACA, the idea of the DREAMers was an incredibly effective rhetorical move.

But the truth is that people are interested in protecting a much wider swath of unauthorized migrants. And Republicans who took that premise at its word then found themselves frustrated. So I think that everyone needs to realize that the debate has moved on.

BRENNAN: We have to move on from this debate and take a quick break. We'll be right back with more of our panel in just a moment.




BRENNAN: We're back now with our political panel.

Anne Gearan, I want to pick up with you. We know secretary of state Mike Pompeo is supposed to be unveiling Plan B for Iran. They don't like the Iran deal as negotiated; tore it up, theoretically, the president did.

What are we going to see?

GEARAN: So tomorrow, the secretary of state is going to lay out what they refer to as the way forward. Plan B, I think, is a better way to frame it. In the absence of the Iran deal, there's no clear road map for primarily European allies, a few others as well, to understand what it's going to mean for them to do business with Iran or not.

Are they going to be subject to U.S. sanctions?

If so, when?

How big would those sanctions be?

And then what are the other potential diplomatic complications if the European signatories to the Iran deal are successful in keeping it as a smaller and, frankly, less important global construct without the United States?

They're in the middle of that negotiation with Iran right now. It appears that, at least at this point, there's enough of the deal left that it will be in Iran's interest to continue it in name only, which then we come back to, how does the United States deal with that?

What we expect Secretary Pompeo to talk about tomorrow is his view that there is less to divide the United States and its European allies, including about Iran, than meets the eye.

The bounds of agreement on what Iran is doing wrong are very commonly understood, that there are ways to address that through further sanctions, probably on the ballistic missile development in Iran, which is worrisome, certainly to the Europeans as well.

But we do not expect him to give great precision or great comfort to European governments and European businesses that are facing a choice here. And that's by design. The United States would like those countries and companies to be feeling a little uncertainty right now.

BRENNAN: They certainly are.

Amy, let me ask you. You heard the White House make some announcements about family planning changes, Title X funding, what does this mean for November?

Why did they choose this fight now?

WALTER: This has been a battle that's been raging quite some time, especially on the Republican side, this idea of defunding Planned Parenthood. This does not defund Planned Parenthood but what it says is that a clinic that provides abortions or refers patients to places that do lose federal funding essentially.

If you're going to do abortions, you can't get federal funding. You have got to put a wall there or separate that. This is an issue that Republican are hoping is also going to motivate their base, the conservatives who have been asking for something like this for quite some time.

Of course, it could also motivate the other side. And this is going to be fascinating, too, in the fight for control of Congress; a lot of -- the path for Democrats goes through a lot of suburban districts, where issues, I think, like guns, as we saw at the top of the show, and Planned Parenthood will play a starring role.

And that may be more definitive in favor of Democrats than it is in favor of Republicans and some of these rural or small towns.

BOUIE: Add to that, an important part of Democratic organizing against a president doesn't involve suburban white women, frankly. It is groups like indivisible groups across the country, the core activists are people who may not have been engaged in politics prior to 2016 but had a strong reaction against candidate Trump, now President Trump.

And some of that reaction or much of that reaction is tied to sort of his behavior towards women, his rhetoric towards women. Something like this, I think Amy is right, could very well energize this core group of Democratic activists.

BRENNAN: We know the president will be attending a Campaign for Life gala so it's something they want to put an exclamation point on here.

Reihan, does it do the opposite of the intention and motivate the Democratic base?

SALAM: Well, that may well be true, partly because there has been a lot of misrepresentation of the nature of the rule. So there have been many iterations of this proposal over the years, and I think Amy described it very well and very carefully.

So it's being described as a gag rule, the idea that you cannot even counsel abortion and that's not, in fact, the case. What you cannot do is actually refer someone to an abortion practitioner. And it's also partly about basically collocating these facilities.

So that literally you're providing these Title X services in the same place where abortions are provided. The idea is that we need to separate those two functions. Now the trouble is that, basically, you have institutions that are very well capitalized institutions that have been around for a very long time.

So this rule was in fact implemented, that would mean kind of a real substantive change. That's also why the Bush administration in the second term actually wound up shying away from this because they decided that it was a critical moment in the Iraq War and they had to pull back.

It remains to be seen if that will happen in this case, too.

BRENNAN: Or how and when this will be implemented.

Thank you, all of you.

We'll be back in a moment with Pulitzer prize-winning author, Jon Meacham. He's got a new book out about times in history when hope overcame division and fear. Stay with us.




BRENNAN: We close today with author and historian Jon Meacham. His new book is "The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels."

Thank you for coming on FACE THE NATION.


BRENNAN: I was intrigued that you wrote this book because of a phone call you received in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville last August.

MEACHAM: Nancy Gibbs then the editor of "Time" magazine, called and asked after the violence if I had anything to say. And one of the things I wanted to look at was, to what extent is this moment in American life an aberration?

And to what extent is it the most vivid manifestation of strains in our national character that are not admirable but are perennial?

And I think the answer is that we're basically in a moment where the worst instincts are playing center stage or attracting the most attention. But that, in some ways, is really the rule more than the exception.

BRENNAN: Why do you think the worst instincts?

Are you putting this on the person?

Or are you putting this on the moment?

MEACHAM: Well, politicians are far more often mirrors of who we are than they are molders. That's why the molders are so extraordinary. Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, those are different kinds of figures.

I think that President Trump in many ways is president because we have a climate of fear in the country. He certainly took advantage of it. He exacerbated it. And fear is an unreasoning.

Edmond Burke said this, that nothing makes us so unreasonable as fear. We're in a moment of great economic and cultural transition, unquestionably. But basically, when we have listened to our better angels, when we have more widely understood the Jeffersonian assertion of equality, we've grown stronger.

We've also always grown stronger the wider we've opened our arms. So whether the issue is immigration or the free flow of ideas or just open dissent, those are the moments when we are most broad-minded, that we actually grow stronger.

BRENNAN: In a lot of the examples you write about in the book, you talk about sort of the office holder having a sense of history and their place in history. Even though they all had their own personal issues -- and you detail them.

MEACHAM: Oh, absolutely.

BRENNAN: Do you believe that President Trump has a sense of the office?

MEACHAM: Not really. No, I don't. I don't think he has a sense of the ultimate role he'll play in the moral life of the nation. And President Roosevelt, when he was running for president in the fall of 1932, "The New York Times" asked him to define the presidency, kind of a basic job interview question.

And FDR said, "It is not an engineering job, it is preeminently a place of moral leadership. It sets a tone. It sets a sense of our dispositions of heart and mind."

And the best presidents, from Thomas Jefferson, again, through President Reagan, through President Obama, have been presidents who have spoken in the vernacular of hope instead of fear, who have pointed ahead instead of at other groups.

And this is not a sentimental point. It's not a partisan point. I've voted for Democrats, I've voted for Republicans, I plan to continue to.

But if you look at it in a clinical way, the moments we've come through, from the 1920s when the Ku Klux Klan was refounded, 50,000 Klansmen marched down Pennsylvania Avenue not far from here in August of 1925. There were 3-5 million members of the Klan.

Oregon, Indiana, Colorado had significant Klan presence. We got through that. And we got through it in part because the courts ruled in the right way, the press did the right thing. And ultimately it's about us. It's about the people. It's -- a republic is only as good as the sum of its parts. That's the special thing about self-government.

BRENNAN: And you say that, that essentially the people get the government they deserve in some ways.

MEACHAM: Harry Truman said it and so I'll take it.


MEACHAM: If I'm confused with Truman, that's a good thing. We do. And so we have to decide to what extent do we really want to be open-minded and open-armed.

And since it's FACE THE NATION, St. Augustine once defined a nation as "a multitude of rational beings united by the common objects of their love."

"United by the common objects of their love," so what we have to decide in this incredibly divisive time, is what do we love in common.

And in divisive eras in the past, from Reconstruction through the backlash against civil rights, Americans have decided that guaranteeing fair play for the other person is the best way to guarantee fair play for themselves. And that's the American way.

BRENNAN: In terms of these moments that are revealing, these moments of truth, you talk about in the wake of Oklahoma City and President Bush speaking out against the NRA because of language they use to attack law enforcement officials. You talk about other similar moments there.

Has President Trump really confronted a moment like that?

Are you saying that Charlottesville in August 2017 was that missed opportunity?

MEACHAM: Absolutely. Remember the -- it took the president several days to decide whether he was going to side with the neo-Nazis and the Klansmen against or the people who were protesting the neo-Nazis and the Klansmen.

Remember, he said there's blame on many sides, there's blame on both sides. That was more than a missed opportunity. It was really a failure to live up to the promise of his office.

BRENNAN: And there's no regaining that?

MEACHAM: There's always hope. There's always hope. Intellectual honesty, people won't like this, but -- and people just try to decide from which tweet they're going to set their hair on fire over it. And I understand that.

But you have to -- intellectual honesty compels us to say, and a historical sense of things compels us to say that there's always hope. And we have been in dark, dark periods before. But Fort Sumter was pretty bad.

BRENNAN: A moment of hope. Thank you, Jon Meacham.

We will be right back. So stay with us.


BRENNAN: -- today; we'll see you next week.

And we want to leave you this week with a tribute to the ten victims who were killed at Santa Fe High School on Friday.


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