Full transcript: "Face the Nation" on November 11, 2018

Read more transcripts from Face the Nation here.          


MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, November 11th. I'm Margaret Brennan and this is FACE THE NATION.

With a split decision in the midterm election for control of the House and Senate, and after igniting controversy, after controversy after controversy at home, President Trump is honoring the one hundredth anniversary of the end of World War I. But at a somber gathering today in Paris, the chill among his fellow world leaders seem to match the weather with a notable exception. We'll talk to two newsmakers who won on Tuesday, including a familiar rival of the President. With Democrats retaking control of the House, leader Nancy Pelosi hopes to regain her job as speaker.

SENATOR TED CRUZ: God bless Texas.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And Texas Republican Ted Cruz will also join us. What are his thoughts on the President's new immigration orders.

CROWD (in unison): Brenda Snipes has got to go.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And chaos in the Sunshine State. Plus, as momentum grows for new acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe, we'll talk with South Carolina's Lindsey Graham.

Plenty of politics and news all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. It has been a difficult week in America. Following record voter turnout in the midterm elections, some races are still not decided. And the partisan political divide has ripped even wider. A mass shooting killed twelve in California. The suspect is a veteran who may have been suffering from PTSD. Then wildfires exploded in the state, one in Northern California is already the most destructive in California's history. President Trump sparked outrage with tweets blaming California forest management for the disaster and threatening to cut off funding.

Today the President is in Paris attending a ceremony honoring the one hundredth anniversary of the Armistice ending World War I. We begin there with CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang who filed this report.

(Begin VT)

WEIJIA JIANG (CBS News White House Correspondent/@weijia): A solemn Sunday in Paris. As President Trump marked the day World War I ended a century go.

BOY: November 11, 1918.

WEIJIA JIANG: He stood alongside dozens of world leaders at the Arc de Triomphe, where the Tomb of the Unknown soldiers symbolizes the ultimate sacrifice. French President Emmanuel Macron seemed to take a veiled swipe at the President's America First agenda.

EMMANUEL MACRON (through translator): Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying, our interest first, who cares about the others, we erase what a nation holds dearest what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential--its moral values.

WEIJIA JIANG: Mister Trump did not appear amused. While in France, President Trump also recognized the need to maintain strong alliances but he often receives criticism for warming up to adversaries, including Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

(End VT)

WEIJIA JIANG: The White House says President Trump and President Putin will likely meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina later this month. Today, the President is heading back to Washington. Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Weijia Jiang, thank you.

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham joins us this morning from Clemson. Senator, welcome to FACE THE NATION. I want to get right--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-South Carolina/@LindseyGrahamSC): Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --to it. The French president seemed to be saying the liberal world order is being undermined by forces, nationalist forces, that seem to be represented to many by President Trump. Do you agree to-- with him?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: No. I think he's got a political problem at home Macron does and probably picking a fight with Trump is good politics. I like the idea of President Trump pushing NATO to pay more. Getting out of the intermediate ballistic missile treaty with Russia made sense to me because Russia's cheating and the treaty doesn't cover China and North Korea. I think the main friction is getting out of the Iran deal which I thought was bad for America and really bad for the world. So Republican presidents always have a hard time in Europe. I'm not really worried about this at all.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Senator, let's move to what's happening here at home. You're seeing some of the worst fires in California history raging there.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah. Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Nearly dozen dead, yet, the President is-- is taking an aggressive combative stance here.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Even threatening to cut off funding. What's achieved by doing things like this?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, number one, my heart goes out to the people who lost their homes I think about twenty-five people killed. These are historically large wildfires in California. But we do have a forest management problem all over the country we need to address. But, you know, California will receive the money they need. But going forward, we need to look at some of the underlying causes of these fires and it's just not California we need to look at better forest management in-- in terms of federal lands all over the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you agree with the sentiment, but, perhaps, not the tone is what I hear you saying there.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah. Well, this has been a debate for a while about underbrush clearing--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --in federally owned lands, but now is not time to talk about cutting off money. With all due respect we're going to help our friends in California. They need help.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you since you sit, and are an important voice, on the Judiciary Committee--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --about what's happening now with the search for the new attorney general now that Jeff Sessions has been--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Mm-Hm.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --forced out.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said you're going to meet with the acting attorney general this week.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you going to ask him to recuse himself? And is Matthew Whitaker's appointment to this role constitutional?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Good question. I talked with Matt yesterday. I'm going to meet with him next week when we get our schedules aligned here. I think he's-- was appropriately appointed legally. I don't think he has to recuse himself. I am confident the Mueller investigation would be allowed to come to a good solid con-- con-- conclusion that there'll be no political influence put on Mister Mueller by Mister Whitaker to do anything other than Mr. Mueller's job. I am confident that Mister Mueller will be allowed to do his job without interference.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I ask you that question because, as you know, there have been a number of public statements made by Whitaker, including saying there's no criminal obstruction of justice charge to be had against--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Mm-Hm. Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --President Trump--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --that seems prejudice-- prejudicial to many. He's referred to special counsel--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --as the Mueller lynch mob. What about these comments suggest to you that he's going to be impartial?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Mm-Hm. Well, you don't recuse somebody because they have opinions different than the people they are overseeing. Trust me there is politics abounds when it comes to the Mueller investigation that Trump is guilty and no matter what Mueller finds. But the bottom line here is that Mister Mueller will be allowed to do his job without political interference by-- by Mister Whitaker. Mister Whitaker, I think, is legally qualified and otherwise qualified to oversee this investigation until a new attorney general will be appointed. And I think that will happen early next year.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Early next year what's your first question for that nominee?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, depends on what the lay of the land is. If Mueller is still not finished with this investigation, are you going to allow him to do his job? But a lot of questions about-- about how the Department of Justice works.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The President issued an order this week and says he is going to issue another executive order having to do with immigration.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Does he have the authority to bypass Congress in doing these things?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: You know, the Fourteenth Amendment birthright citizenship, that's got to get to the court. Maybe the executive order is the way to start that discussion. But when it comes to changing asylum laws saying that somebody here illegally cannot apply for asylum, I don't know if you can do that by executive order, but I support that policy. Right now people are marching on our border, if they-- they cross illegally then they asked for asylum. Asylum shouldn't be a magnet for illegal immigration. So I support the policy change. I'm not so sure you can do it by executive order but we'll see.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the ACLU suggests that that's actually contravening Congress and established law.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I might want to get another-- I might want to get another opinion than the ACLU. But the point is that I do believe asylum laws are being abused. They've become magnets for illegal immigration. People cross the border illegally, then apply for asylum. That's not the way asylum is set up to work. I support the policy change. Congress probably should do it, but I am open-minded to the executive order. I-- I just don't know the answer really.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You've been speaking a fair amount about what's going on in Florida and the recount there.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah. Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Florida Department of-- of-- of Elections has presented no evidence whatsoever of criminal activity there.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The President has been sort of fanning the flames, some would say, of conspiracy here, saying Democrats are trying to steal it. Don't you think in--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, I think--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --some ways that this undermines election integrity when you're actually trying to uphold it?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I think what undermines election integrity-- integrity is Broward County can't get their act together over multiple elections. If the Florida law enforcement officials see no fraud, I'll accept that. But they are in violation of the law, Broward County. They're supposed to report results within thirty minutes--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --of the polls closing. They counted almost eighty thousand votes days after the polls closed. So the problem is not with the President Trump's rhetoric. The problem is with the incompetence and the mischief--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --in Broward County.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Senator Graham, thank you very much. Lots to get--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --through today.

On Friday, we sat down with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi who is working to round up the votes among Democrats to become speaker once again. We began our discussion with the Democrats' call for the new acting attorney general to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe after the President asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step aside last week.

(Begin VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think under Whitaker that the integrity of this investigation is in peril?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D-California/@NancyPelosi): Yes, I do. First of all, I think that he should recuse himself for any review of the investigation because of statements he has made already in the public domain about the fact that this investigation should not--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You don't have confidence in him as America's top enforcement officer?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: No, I don't, and don't just take it from me. There's bipartisan editorializing about this that-- that he should never have been appointed and that it-- it does violence to the Constitution and the vision of our founders to appoint such a person in such a manner to be the chief legal officer in our country and that's bipartisan.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There are questions about what will happen when Bob Mueller wraps up his investigation, the report and the conclusions he comes to--

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Mm-Hm.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --and whether they will ever see the light of day, because we don't know if they are going to be shared with Congress. In a Democrat-controlled House with subpoena power would you force that?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, we don't know if-- if-- the-- what he will decide and what will be made public. But we do want the truth.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The public has a right to know.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Public has a right to know and no one is above the law in terms of our having access to that information.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you don't think it would require a subpoena to the DOJ to release it?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, let us hope not but the Congress-- the beauty of our constitution is the system of checks and balances and in doing so to have oversight responsibility, to be a check. So, in our oversight responsibilities we would want that information.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What are the bounds of-- of that oversight? Because, you know, one of the concerns you hear is Democrats are just going to issue subpoena after subpoena and make the President's life legally more difficult. Is there a limitation to that that you see?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, we are responsible. We are not scattershot. We are not doing any investigation for a political purpose but to seek the truth. So, I think a word that you could describe about how Democrats will go forward in this regard is we will be very strategic.

MARGARET BRENNAN: No investigation for political purpose you say.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: That's right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A number of Republicans would say, come on. There's always a-- a political upside or downside to moving forward with some of these in-- investigations.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, if the Republicans would say that they're just projecting their own attitude toward investigations, which was very political. We are coming to do something that is very important for our country; a more open Congress with accountability to the public, with a seeking bipartisanship where we can find it, stand our ground where we can't.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The President has been saying that there's election fraud in Florida.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Mm-Hm.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you think is happening in-- in Broward County? Is this election fraud, and is there a role that Congress needs to play in upgrading election infrastructure?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, yes to the second part, but let's go to the first part first. My experience with the President is that any time he charges somebody with something he's just projecting what he might have done himself. We are not engaged--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Election fraud?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, obstruction-- suppression of the vote. Those-- those kinds of issues I think are wrong and not in honor of our sacred right to vote. So, no, there is no election fraud. What there is is an honest count of the vote.

MARGARET BRENNAN: On immigration, would you try to block any attempt to fund the border wall?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Let's just enlarge that issue into what we need to do as a country. We certainly have to protect our borders, and Democrats know that, and we have always worked to do that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you'd be open to supporting this.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: No, I'm saying that I would--

MARGARET BRENNAN: As Speaker, would you ever--

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --I support protecting--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --shepherd that legislation?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --protecting our border, and we have done that, and there are many ways to protect the border before tens of billions of dollars building a wall where technology and personnel and the rest could possibly do the job. But whatever it is has to be tied to comprehensive immigration reform. What this administration has done is undermining our values. Taking babies out of the arms of their moms as you, a new mom, you understand that bonding--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --very well, with me-- as my-- mother of five, grandmother of nine, understand that bonding very well. Let's take the baby out of the arms of their moms. Let's separate families. Shameful. And what the President just did in the last day on the executive order flies in the face of even what the evangelicals, who are his big supporters, have said. The evangelicals have said the United States amnesty, excuse me, the United States Refugee Resettlement Program is the crown jewel of America's humanitarianism. And what the President did does not recognize what the law of the land is and-- in terms of refugees.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: There is a lot more of our interview with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi ahead, including her plans for fixing the Affordable Care Act and the record number of women in the next Congress. That's coming up in our next half hour.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to another of Tuesday's winners, Texas Republican Ted Cruz, a key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he joins us from his home in Houston. Senator, welcome to FACE THE NATION.

SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-Texas/@tedcruz): Thank you, Margaret. Good morning. And-- and-- and welcome back yourself. Congratulations on your new son.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I appreciate that. Thank you very much. A little bit of history here. You were part of President Bush's legal team back in 2000 during the Florida recount. We are looking once again at questions about what is happening and a recount there. What is going on? Is this political conspiracy like the President suggests or is this just incompetence?

SENATOR TED CRUZ: Well, listen, I think there is certainly reason to be concerned. Florida's history on recounts has-- has not been great. You've got each of the counties there that-- that have different-- different commissioners. I spoke yesterday with my colleague Marco Rubio who's-- who's following what's happening there closely and is-- and is deeply concerned that-- that-- that what might be playing out is as an attempt to steal the election. I hope that's not it. I think everyone needs to be vigilant. Every vote needs to be counted. But at the same time we can't allow people to be stealing votes and we-- we need to be on guard against that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A bit of both, you say-- it could be getting stolen or it could just be incompetence?

SENATOR TED CRUZ: It-- the-- the-- it could almost always be a bit of both of incompetence and-- and the potential for malfeasance. But-- but any time you have a recount, you have an invitation for people to-- to-- to violate the law and try to advance their partisans. In-- in 2000, in Bush versus Gore, on election night, George W. Bush had about-- a three-thousand-vote lead and there ended up being a total of four recounts in Florida over and over and over again, and over the course of those four recounts, Bush's lead dropped from about three thousand votes all the way down to five hundred and thirty-seven votes--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

SENATOR TED CRUZ: --and-- and-- and the mantra of the Democrats is they wanted to keep counting and counting and counting the same votes over and over again until they managed to drop the votes to the other side. I-- I think that suggests if you're recounting the numbers ought to stay the same or roughly the same and if they're moving consistently in one direction it-- it-- it suggests you may not have a fair and level playing field in terms of those counting.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you since you're on the Judiciary Committee about what happened this week, Jeff Sessions being forced out. Now there's an attack-- an acting attorney general overseeing the Russia probe. Do you believe that the special counsel's investigation is now in peril and needs to be protected?

SENATOR TED CRUZ: Well, I-- I don't think anyone was surprised to see Jeff Sessions move on. Jeff-- Jeff is a good man, an honorable man. He's someone who's been a friend a long time. But it was clear that his relationship and the President's relationship were not working, that there was no longer trust and confidence there and-- and that's not a long-term, sustainable situation to have an attorney general and-- and a President in-- in direct and open conflict the way they were. I think Jeff did a number of very good things at DOJ, including on immigration, including on religious liberty, so I am grateful for those efforts. But I think it will be good to see new leadership come into the Department of Justice. Now, Mister Whitaker, as I understand it, has been appointed just in an acting position and-- and the White House has announced they intend to nominate a new attorney general. I-- I expect that to happen quickly and when it does, the-- the Senate will take up the advise and consent role and-- and I'm on the Senate Judiciary Committee so whoever the nominee is, I-- I look forward to hearing from that individual, their background, their record, their qualifications, and-- and-- and their vision for what the Department of Justice should be doing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Should there be legislation to protect the special counsel?

SENATOR TED CRUZ: No, I don't believe there should. We-- we-- we had a bill come through the Judiciary Committee that tried to make it impossible for a special counsel to be removed. I believe that legislation was unconstitutional, that-- that it was inconsistent with Article II of the Constitution.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You were very critical of the Obama administration for taking action via executive fiat as you said, you called it dangerous.

SENATOR TED CRUZ: Mm-Hm. Mm-Hm.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This week President Trump on immigration has issued orders bypassing Congress to restrict how migrants crossing the border illegally can claim asylum. Are you okay with that now?

SENATOR TED CRUZ: Well, I'm still studying the specific immigration order but-- but I'll tell you, look, here's my view on executive orders--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But bypassing Congress?

SENATOR TED CRUZ: Well, let-- let me explain my view on-- on immigra-- on-- on executive orders whether from Trump or Obama, George W. Bush or anybody else, which is there is a legitimate role for an executive order and that is governing how the executive branch operates. How under Article II of the Constitution the president of the executive branch is charged with-- with taking-- taking due care that the laws are faithfully executed. And an executive order is perfectly appropriate to direct the executive branch, this is the manner in which we shall execute the law. What Obama did repeatedly that was so lawless is his executive orders didn't do that. Instead, they said here is the federal law passed by Congress signed by the President that we will defy, that we will ignore, and-- and that the President can't do. And-- and so that's the question on any executive order is-- is it-- is it directing how the executive will behave or is it flying in defiance to-- to laws passed by Congress. If it's the latter it's unconstitutional.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, I-- I don't hear a clear answer on whether you think this asylum change is okay. Do you think via executive order, it is appropriate for the President to end birthright citizenship, again bypassing Congress?

SENATOR TED CRUZ: Well-- well-- well, Margaret, as-- as I said on-- on the-- on the executive order on immigration I have not studied that order, yet, it just came out this week. You know I have to admit I-- I was kind of busy, we had an election a couple of days ago. And-- and-- and that-- that so, I have not yet reviewed the executive order, and I try on legal decisions. My career has been being a constitutional litigator, so I-- I don't-- I don't reach constitutional opinions lightly. If the order defies the laws of Congress, then, yes, it's unconstitutional. If the order constrains and directs how the executive will implement the law then it's not. Now my understanding is this executive order does things directing resources to the border. Those resources are clearly within the purview of an executive order for the President--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And birthright citizenship executive order that's coming.

SENATOR TED CRUZ: And the President is charged under existing law-- the-- the President is charged under executive un-- under federal law with securing the border, and if the executive order is in furtherance of the statute then it's not only allowable, it-- it-- it's appropriate and good. I mean this so-called migrant caravan of-- of over ten thousand people marching north, declaring their intention to cross the border illegally. I can tell you I told the President just recently when he and I spoke. I said Mister President under no circumstances should we let them cross, we should use whatever tools are available, whether it is border patrol whether it is National Guard whether-- whether--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

SENATOR TED CRUZ: --it is the military that the President has called up but we shouldn't allow ten thousand people to blatantly and deliberately violate the law. There is a right way to come to this country and-- and that's following the law--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

SENATOR TED CRUZ: --waiting in line and following the rules.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Well, we look forward to hearing your views on birthright citizenship and those asylum decisions. We've got to leave it here, Senator.

We will be back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Don't go away.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We also talked to Senator Cruz about what could be done about gun violence for people suffering from mental illness following that shooting in California this week. That clip is available on our website at FaceTheNation.com.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION on this Veterans Day. More from Leader Pelosi and our panel. So, stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We want to continue our conversation with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. In the next Congress, there will be at least a hundred women in the House; that's a record. We asked Leader Pelosi about the new freshman class.

(Begin VT)

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D-California/@NancyPelosi): We got twenty-three women, got us to the majority. And then we have many men, some of people of color among those men. It's to take us to bigger heights. I want to salute them--quality of our candidates who-- who took their message, their why--why they wanted to be in-- in Congress, what they cared about, and what they knew about that, and how they connected in a very personal way with their constituents. They-- we own the ground because people were inspired by them, and the outside groups did so much--door to door, telling stories about health care and why that was important in this election, and so many other personal stories. So, personal stories won the day. Health care was the big issue. I am here to protect that health care. In terms of the diversity, we used to be over fifty percent women, people of color and LGBTQ. Now we're over sixty percent and that's a-- a beautiful thing, that diversity for our country. The additional people who will be-- who will change the face of security in our country and of our-- not only our national security, but our-- our-- our national economy. People say, oh, you're going to have more women so you'll have more emphasis on child care. Well, we already have that, and we'll do more. But the-- the point is is that every issue is a women's issue.

MARGARET BRENNAN: One of the issues that Democrats campaigned on was protection of the existing health care law.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Republicans and the President have talked about precon-- preexisting conditions and something they want to actually protect. So, what does that actually mean in practical sense? Do you think that there is any room for reform of ACA, of Obamacare?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, you have two different questions. One is the-- the preexisting condition as a-- not being a barrier to getting coverage is part of the Affordable Care Act.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: The Republicans have tried to disrupt that. They did it in their Trumpcare or I don't care bill that he had, and it was defeated. They now are going-- they didn't succeed in the Congress. So, now they are going to the courts, and a large number of Republican attorneys general throughout the country have brought suit against the preexisting condition benefit. And instead of protecting the law of the land the President has sided with those attorneys general who want to eliminate that benefit. They misrepresented during the campaign where they were on this. They have another chance now, with us in the majority, to join us into removing all doubt that the pre-existing medical condition is the law-- the benefit-- is the law of the land.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Does this change anything for you, in terms of your-- your sense of needing to stay here right now?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: But I-- the-- I-- the more--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Needing to stay as Speaker?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, I-- I'm staying as Speaker to protect the Affordable Care Act. That's my main issue, because I think that's, again, about the health and financial health of the America's families and if Hillary had won, I could go home. Nobody from California ever gets Potomac fever. You may know that. But--

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's still your north star right now, though?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: What?

MARGARET BRENNAN: The protection of the Affordable Care Act?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Yes. that-- that-- that--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --as speaker?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --I mean, I-- I hopefully, we will have a-- a-- a woman President very soon, but that's not the-- the-- the fact that we almost had one would have been motivation for me to say, "There's a woman at the table." It's very important. You cannot have the four leaders of Congress, the President of the United States, these five people, and not have the voice of women. Especially, since women were the majority of the-- the voters, the workers in campaigns and now part of this glorious victory. But these women bring each their individual-- individual excellence to the Congress, and we're very proud of it. When I came to Congress, there were twelve Democratic women. I said, "We have to change this." Now we'll have close to ninety. And that's a-- a major accomplishment for-- for the American people, but also for the Congress.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you respond to those who say there still needs to be more diversity in the leadership, either age wise, because you look at-- at the other two leaders alongside you in-- seventy-eight years old at--

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Yeah. Well, that's a--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you need to have some of these new progressives who've come in younger--

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: We've had them. We have had them--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --in leadership?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --in the leadership along the way, and that more will be in now that we have more positions. When you have-- when you have the majority, you have more positions--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --to put people in leadership. But our leadership doesn't just extend to the caucus chair, vice chair, all that. It's about the leadership of our co-- committees. And in our leadership of our committees, we have beautiful diversity--women, people of color, LGBTQ. It's a-- it's a sight to behold, to see all of that diversity, all of that talent leading the way. And some of the people here like being a chair--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --more than they'd rather be chair of the caucus, they would be the chair of the Armed Services Committee or chair of the Financial Services Committee--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that's how you would resolve these questions?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, it's-- it-- people have to run. When I first ran, people said, "Who said she could run?" Nobody smoothed a path for me. I've tried to smooth the path for others, but you have to run, you have to want to do it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Policy wise, what does that mean?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Policy wise that means that the face of security-- national security in our country will be very different and very diverse. We have many women coming in with experience in national security. We have many men-- women here moving up in the ranks on national security, but I want to make sure that everybody has a security credential--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: --whether it's all-- in all of the different committees of jurisdiction in that regard. It also means that women will be taking the lead on our-- our-- our economy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When you said you're a transitional figure. Is that what you're transitioning towards? Handing off to these women?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI: Well, I have always considered myself a transitional figure. I am on a mission and that mission was to honor what we did with the Affordable Care Act. It-- it stands with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid as pillars of economic, as well as health security for the American people. When we had the opportunity to do it, we fought hard and we won. And now we have to protect it. Not just as a legislative matter, but as what it means in the lives of the American people. And so I-- I think we're on a good path to-- to protect it. It was the central issue in this campaign. And so many of the outside groups told their stories, walked their precincts, won their votes, for us to preserve and protect the Affordable Care Act and improve it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with our panel.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Now for some analysis on a week that defies words here in Washington. We welcome our political panel. Dan Balz is the chief correspondent at The Washington Post, Rachael Bade covers Capitol Hill for Politico and she is also a CNN political analyst, Mark Landler is a White House correspondent for The New York Times, and Ed O'Keefe is a political correspondent here at CBS News. Ed, let's start off with you. We have these midterm races Tuesday.

ED O'KEEFE (CBS News Political Correspondent/@edokeefe): Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do we have final results from some of these other races that are outstanding?

ED O'KEEFE: Well, first of all, welcome back.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thanks.

ED O'KEEFE: We're glad to have you back in the building, in fact.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congrats to you. You're a new dad as well.

ED O'KEEFE: That's a-- well, yes. But the answer to your question is, no, there is still several unresolved races. We should start with the big one in Florida, of course, the Senate race where Rick Scott maintains a fifty percent to 49.9-percent lead. But you can see there, just about as many people that show up in a traffic jam in Miami separate these two from, you know, first and second place. Florida governor's race, obviously, is still very tight. The Arizona Senate race: what was notable there, of course, since the Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has pulled into the lead. You talked to Republicans in Arizona, they quietly concede Sinema will probably hold on and win. And the Georgia governor's race, the goal of Democrat Stacey Abrams is to see if Brian Kemp gets below fifty percent. But in the ongoing recounts, he hasn't done that. So he may ultimately hold on there. Handful of House races have not, yet, been called. CBS and the other networks do it slightly differently than the Associated Press, so we're a little more cautious in-- in-- when that-- those calls are made. And as the speaker mentioned, speaker-to-be we presume, more than thirty seats will be picked up by Democrats. So she will grow the size of her caucus. And, notably, too, they were going to have more than one hundred women in the House which I think really transforms the governing dynamic up on Capitol Hill and will make for really interesting few years.

RACHAEL BADE (Politico/@rachaelmbade): Hmm. That's true.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that's where we are in terms of the numbers. But in terms of the opinions, some have very different views on where these races are, Dan. I mean, the President has weighed in and you heard Senator Lindsey Graham also cast some doubt on what's happening in Florida and the-- the integrity of that election there.

DAN BALZ (The Washington Post/@danbalz): Yeah. The President weighed in and-- and, basically, accused Democrats of trying to steal both the-- the elections in Florida and in Arizona without any evidence of theft or fraud. There are problems in some of the counties in Florida, which is, unfortunately, not a new situation in Florida and-- and those of us who, you know, covered the two thousand recount--remember all of the problems down there--and some of those have not been solved. But there is a-- you know, the counting often goes slowly and it takes sometimes days and weeks in some states to actually get a final vote on these elections. And there's a process underway. It will be closely watched, at this point. The opportunity for fraud will probably be quite minimal, at this point, given all the attention that's going on. But the President by doing that undermines faith in the basic process of our democracy. And it would be better, obviously, if-- if people in positions of power let the process play out, there are a lot of people who think that the Republicans likely will hold on to both of those tight races in Florida. They are ahead narrowly, but they may have enough votes to be able to hold on. People should simply wait.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Rachael, biggest Democrat gain in the House since 1974 and more women than we have ever seen winning elected office for this new Congress.

RACHAEL BADE: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Given this environment, does that change much?

RACHAEL BADE: You know we'll have to see. I mean I think that Republicans know that they have bled in the suburbs. Republican leadership, they were encouraging the President before the election to sort of tone down a lot of this heated rhetoric. He did not, and they paid a price for it. The question here is, do Republicans learn from it going forward? And the President in terms of looking at 2020, I think, he thinks his own reelection is better. If he continues that rhetoric, which is a different, sort of, election than House Republicans would need to retake the House. In terms of Republican or-- in terms of women coming to Washington, I can tell you that you on Capitol Hill there is already discussions about changing the campus to make sure they can accommodate all these women. And make sure that it's a friendly work environment for mothers. There's new baby changing tables in bathrooms for lawmakers and there's talk about nursing stations around the Capitol. But, again, policy changes, you saw Pelosi talk about health care making that a key issue next year. And I think that would be smart for them, especially, because Republicans sort of tried to deflect a lot of attacks on health care by saying, "We do care about preexisting conditions when, in fact, they tried to repeal Obamacare.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sliding in the suburbs, I think, is how Leader McConnell put it--

RACHAEL BADE: Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --in terms of a-- a problem for the GOP. But, Mark, for the President--as Rachael just said--does this necessarily cause a change in tone, a change in behavior for him because certainly after Tuesday he seemed as combative as ever?

MARK LANDLER (The New York Times/@MarkLandler): If anything more combative. I mean, he came out and-- and made this rather hapless effort to claim victory. And then when it became clear over the ensuing days that, really, he had taken a stinging setback in the House. You saw his mood, sort of, deteriorate through the week. And, as Rachel said and Dan, he-- he went after the electoral process in Florida, he went after the press, he went after the rule of law in a sense in putting Matt Whitaker into a job in the-- in the Justice Department on an acting basis that many people have profound problems with. So you really saw him shift to an aggressive stance on almost across the board. There are issues where the President has said he could work with the Democratic House--infrastructure being one; potentially, immigration. But the big question that-- that I would have is, is the President going to be capable of compartmentalizing potentially productive work on the legislative side with an unrelenting round of investigations that he now faces in a Democrat-controlled House. I think that's emotionally going to be very difficult for him and he already made clear in the past week that if the Democrats really investigate him aggressively, he will respond in a war-like way. He will try to investigate them. So it's sort of difficult from where we sit based on watching his demeanor over the past three days to see how he shifts to a more cooperative, collaborative stance. It feels like we're in for more and more partisan combat.

RACHAEL BADE: Mm-Hm.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And what should we expect in terms of cabinet member departures, Jeff Sessions that was telegraphed for months.

MARK LANDLER: I think the big one-- I think the big one to watch out for is Jim Mattis, the defense secretary. You-- you may recall the interview where the President said, well, Jim Mattis is--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

MARK LANDLER: --basically a Democrat. So-- so the-- the question is, does Jim Mattis really take this as a cue to either leave on his own steam or will the President now put pressure on him. John Kelly, the chief of staff, is another person to watch. The President-- John Kelly, rather, has said that he's been asked to stay through 2020. We'll see whether that really happens. There's evidence his wings have already been clipped within the White House. But I think the really consequential one is-- is Mattis. And that's one that would have really a profound affect in foreign perceptions of the United States and in the foreign policy and the national security of this administration for its last two years of the first term.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ed, how does that environment that we just heard describes shape up for the President? I mean you've had already a number of the Democrats who expect to be in leadership positions in the new Congress say they're readying subpoenas.

ED O'KEEFE: Right. And-- and I think actually while we watch the dynamics among the President and his staff, one of the more interesting subplots in Washington over the next few months at least certainly will be bringing in that new wave of Democrats, many of whom were elected on the idea that they want to come here and serve as a check on the President. A lot of younger people who were inspired to run because of him and their opposition to him and how they run into a leadership class led by or at least for now Nancy Pelosi, and older committee chair-- chairman and chairwoman who will want to do a lot of this work but aren't necessarily going to want to go as far as a lot of base Democratic voters across the country want them to go. Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, reiterated again this morning as has speaker-presumed Pelosi that they will only go into impeachment if the evidence is overwhelming and if there is bipartisan support for doing so. That is a high bar--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

ED O'KEEFE: --both of those. And I think that could create some early conflict among Democrats. But you'll see them go after things like, what was going on at EPA when Scott Pruitt was there? Why does the Secret Service have to pay money at Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago and all these other places? And try to go after the President's tax returns. And each one of those has the potential to really upset him.

RACHAEL BADE: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Still Republican-controlled Senate as a backstop for that. But we have more to talk about in a moment with our panel. So stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back with our panel of journalists. And we want to discuss some explosive exchanges this week between the President and members of the White House press corps.

(Begin VT)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: That's enough.

JIM ACOSTA (CNN): Mister President, if I may ask one other question.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: That's enough.

JIM ACOSTA: Pardon me, Ma'am.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Excuse me, that's enough.

I'm not-- I'm not responding. I'm responding to-- excuse me, I'm not responding to you. I'm talking to this gentleman. Will you please sit down?

APRIL RYAN (American Urban Radio Networks): But you (INDISTINCT).

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me. Will you please sit down? Please, go ahead.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR (PBS NewsHour): On the campaign trail, you called yourself a nationalist. Some people saw that as emboldening white nationalists. Now people are also saying that the--

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don't know why you'd say that. That's such a racist question.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: There are some people--

ABBY PHILLIP (CNN): Do you want him to rein in Robert Mueller?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question. But I watch you a lot. You ask a lot of stupid questions.

MAN: Mister President--

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That was the President there speaking about Abby Phillips (sic) of CNN who is a very smart journalist. You also heard Jim Acosta of CNN; April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks; Yamiche Alcindor of PBS, all getting real fire from the President. Mark, what's happening here? I mean the President always seems to be combative with the press but to many this seems a new level of aggression.

MARK LANDLER: Yeah. I think that-- that the midterm election and the setback he suffered there has maybe changed his psychological frame and not for the better. We were used to this kind of a vexed relationship. We've had it with him from the start. But what you saw this past week was really of a very different order. Stripping the credential of the CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, that's something that-- that no recent President in memory has tried to do. And-- and the attacks, the verbal attacks on April Ryan, Abby Phillipm and Yamiche Alcindor are-- are particularly, I think, problematic because the three of them are African-American women. For him to say to Yamiche, a former colleague of mine, that asking him a very valid question about his inflammatory rhetoric is somehow a racist question I think really is at some level beyond the pale. Likewise with Abby she asked an absolutely valid question about the future of the Mueller investigation under a new leadership at the Department of Justice. And April Ryan who, by the way, wasn't even present for the session where he simply went after her--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

MARK LANDLER: --presumably, because she had tried to ask him a question at his press conference earlier in the week. These are all professional women doing their jobs the right way and for him to single them out and be so ad hominem I think is a new level for those of us in the press corps that have been used to this I think we're-- we're all a little bit stunned by what we saw this past week.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Dan, there is a lot to be said in parsing this, and that the media shouldn't be talking about itself as much as we have been in terms of this aggressive line with the President. But tell us why this matters in the broader political sense? You did have some journalists organizations come out and even criticize the phrasing of questions from fellow journalists. Is there a policing of the Fourth Estate that needs to be done or is this in any way acceptable of this kind of language?

DAN BALZ: Well, there's always self-reflection that needs to be done by those of us in the press. I mean I think we all have to constantly think about how-- what's the best way to do our job, particularly, in a very difficult environment. And I think every news organization and every reporter who covers stories like this does ask those questions. But-- but that begs the issue of what the President has done, not just this week and I agree with Mark, this was-- this was another, you know several levers up in his attacks on the press. But he has done it consistently and it is-- it is strategic on his part because it is designed to undermine the validity of a free press.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

DAN BALZ: And, secondly, we know that it inflames his base supporters. I mean, I think everybody around this table gets e-mails from people who are very loyal to Donald Trump.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

DAN BALZ: Who, in fact, believe that-- that we take it as our job to try to undermine him. That is not the case. We hold people in power accountable whether they're Democrats or Republicans. We can be tough on Presidents, and we often are, and Presidents don't particularly like that. But most Presidents or all previous Presidents have reacted differently than President Trump has. And I think that's the issue. And-- and as Mark said particularly, the attacks on three African-American female correspondents, all of whom are professional in the way they approach their job, is-- is another aspect of this that is even different from simply attacks on the press.

ED O'KEEFE: Well, and he's-- and he's taken on two Latino correspondents as well. Cecilia Vega at a previous one, and Jim Acosta. And, you know, for some of us, that isn't coincidence.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

ED O'KEEFE: And I think that's part of what is so troubling. But, you know, one thing we need to point out with this President, like him or hate him--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

ED O'KEEFE: --the press corps sees him and gets to question him more often--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, a lot of access.

ED O'KEEFE: --than we did George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

DAN BALZ: It's a very good point.

ED O'KEEFE: Yeah.

DAN BALZ: Very good point.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Rachael, just button us up here quickly. I mean, for those who say this is-- we're being overly sensitive that there's nothing racist in what the President did. There was a lot of strains these nationalist tones, so to speak, that were rewarded on the campaign trail. Were they not?

RACHAEL BADE: Yeah, absolutely. I think that, you know, race right now is like-- is one of those topics that Republicans-- it's-- it's hurting them right now when they hear and they're following the President, they're trying to distance themselves from the President but, you know, this keeps coming back and hurting them on the campaign trail. I mean, that of Steve King--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

RACHAEL BADE: --and some of the rhetoric that has come out of, you know, his mouth and it sort of divided the Republican leadership about whether or not to back him or just not say anything and we actually saw one Republican leader, the NRCC chairman Steve Stivers come out and say, "Listen, this kind of rhetoric is not acceptable. We have to stand up against it." Notably, no other House Republican leaders did that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: They use resilient.

RACHAEL BADE: Yeah. And-- and he is-- he was re-elected.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But we have so much to digest from this week, I think all of us by the end of it.

We are going to be right back here on FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. It's great to be back with you. And we'd like to thank all of the veterans who have served and protected this nation and those who are still on active duty. We honor you today and every day. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.