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Full transcript: "Face the Nation" on November 18, 2018

11/18: Face The Nation
11/18: Paul, Cummings, Ernst 46:25

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MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, November 18th. I am Margaret Brennan and this is FACE THE NATION.

President Trump pays a visit to the sights of California's deadliest and most destructive fires in history.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: To see what's happened here, nobody would have ever thought this could have happened.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll get an update from California Governor Jerry Brown, who was at the President's side during Saturday's visit.

MAN: Does seeing this devastation, though, change your opinion at all on climate change, Mister President?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, no. I have a strong opinion. I want great climate. We're going to have that, and we're going to have forests that are very safe.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Then the President disputes reports that the CIA concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They haven't assessed anything yet. It's too early. That was a very premature report. But that's possible. We're going to see. But we're going to have a report on Tuesday and it will be very complete. In the meantime, we're doing things to some people that we know for a fact were involved and we're being very tough on a lot of people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll talk with Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, who says the administration is not being tough enough. He's urging more action against the country the President calls a truly spectacular ally when it comes to jobs. Plus, the one hundred and sixteenth Congress, what's ahead for the administration with Democrats controlling investigations in the House. The likely chairman of a key committee, Maryland's Elijah Cummings, will tell us. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst will also be here. She's now part of the Republican leadership team. And as incoming freshman visit Washington in advance of the new Congress we'll hear what unites them and how their diversity could impact future legislation.

It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning. And welcome to FACE THE NATION.

There's a lot of news in Washington, but we begin with an update on the California fires, where there's been some containment, but the number of dead and missing continues to rise. Officials placed the death toll in the Camp Fire in Northern California at seventy-six and say that at this point there are over twelve hundred missing. President Trump toured both regions hit by devastating fires with California Governor Jerry Brown and incoming Governor Gavin Newsom just yesterday. We spoke with Governor Brown after that visit, where for the most part politics was put aside. We asked why the fires had gotten so out of control.

(Begin VT)

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN (D-California/@JerryBrownGov): Well, how they started is now a subject of investigation. The conflagration occurs because the brush, the vegetation is so dry and the humidity is so low. And when you have that-- that-- and then the heat and the years of drought that gets it going. And in Paradise, there were a lot of buildings that also caught fire and then it just went from one to the other. So it's a mixture of many things. And the President's talked about how our forests are managed, that's an element but there's also the way the houses are built, the materials, what kind of vegetation is around. And then there's also the changing climate and the increasing drought and the lowered humidity and water vapor. All of that is combining to create the tragic situation that we saw today in both Northern California and here in Southern California.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As you say the President did acknowledge that he said climate change might be a factor, "a little bit" but he primarily blamed forest management as the cause here. Is California to blame here for its own problems?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: Well, where Paradise is, of course, is surrounded by federally managed land. These are national forests. They're not state parks and they're not private property by Californians so it is the federal government. And the fact is that managing the forest is part of it. They are a lot denser than they were two hundred years ago. But on top of that, we have this five-year drought. We have reduced rainfall. We have the dryness that turns vegetation and bushes and houses and trees into-- literally, into timber. So it was ready to explode. So there-- there's an atmospheric element which is part of the natural cycle and then there is an increasing effect of climate change. In fact, I have read, specifically, peer-reviewed scientific articles that say that the amount of-- of land burnt in California over the last fifteen years has doubled because of climate change, so--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did you make that case to President Trump?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: I certainly raised it but I didn't feel that that that was where we needed to go. We need the money. We need federal help and we need a collaborative and cooperative spirit and we're getting that. But I did say that we are going to look at all the elements that are causing these fires over time and we're going to work in a way to let science be our guide and the President in no way negated that. So I decided to go for an opening and I think over the next months and years you'll see the science becoming crystal clear and even the folks in Washington that are now more in the denialist camp are going to come around.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You did say there the federal funds were coming. Did President Trump assure you that he is not going to cut funding as he had threatened to do?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: Yes. So that's a big, big win. The President not only has signed a presidential declaration giving California substantial funding, but he said and pledged very specifically to-- to continue to help us. That he's got our back. And I thought that was a very positive thing. There have been some back and forth between California leaders and the President. But in this-- in the face of tragedy, people tend to rise above some of their-- their lesser propensities. So I think we're on a good path, but it's still going to be difficult because the only way to ensure the long-term forest health is not just, you know, cutting trees it's going to require--


GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: --reducing carbon emissions and, eventually, sooner rather than later to zero. And if we don't do that, you're going to see these fires not only continuing but getting worse by the year as they are. The last five years--


GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: --the fires have never been this bad. This fire in Malibu is the worst they have ever seen. This fire in-- in Paradise and Northern California was the worst in the history of California. So, yeah, you can mull the science. But I'll tell you every year it's going to get clearer and clearer so that I think in less than five years even the worst skeptics are going to be believers.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What about the human toll? As we said a thousand unaccounted for. Do you believe that number is going to continue to rise?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: I don't think it's going to be a thousand, I don't know that for sure. But we think, by the way, the numbers are gathered that-- that that's high. But, look, the-- they're narrow streets these fires we're going, and I-- I can't even believe it but I'll repeat what the fire people told me. Fires are moving a football length--


GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: --a hundred yards a second. And-- and the roads were very narrow. So there is no way for a lot of these people to get out, and some of them were backed up. Cars blocking the road. Three hours to move a few miles. So that's another thing. If you're going to live this close to the forest, if the climate is going to keep changing--


GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: --you're going to have to build some kind of underground shelters, so that you can go in and protect yourself not by going three or four miles but by going, you know, thirty or forty feet.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's a pretty stark image. Governor, tell me about what's happening now with the air quality, which we understand is very toxic in some cities like San Francisco. And do you have a sense of the damage being caused by that and the economic hit to your state?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: Well, first of all, I like to look at my weather app. I look at it a couple of times a day. I never saw on the weather app until yesterday, "air hazardous to health." And then in another cities I saw "very unhealthful air" and then "unhealthful air" and then "air-- air unhealthful to sensitive people." Those categories I never saw before. So, yeah, this is bad stuff. It's temporary. So in-- in some ways it's far less than Beijing or Shanghai, and far less than Los Angeles was in the fifties. So it's not good but for a few days we'll get through it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the economic hit?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: Oh, the economic impact is devastating. So, yeah, the-- the-- the devastation is-- is at the human level is horrific and-- and hard to find words to describe. And economically, yes, this is going to cost tens of billions. That's what it's going to cost--


GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: --before we get finished.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, thank you very much. I know you got a lot of work ahead of you. Appreciate you making time.

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: Well, thank you. Thank you.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the news that the CIA has determined that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul joins us now from Bowling Green. Senator, the President says a final conclusion will be made this week by the U.S. government, but in a Fox interview he indicated that, essentially, murder can be forgiven if the kingdom provides economic benefit. Listen to this exchange.

CHRIS WALLACE (Fox News): What if the Crown Prince, speaking to you the President of the United States, directly lied to you about--

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (Fox News): Yeah. Well, that he told me that he had nothing to do with it. He told me that, I would say maybe five times at different points.

CHRIS WALLACE: But what if he's lying?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: As recently as a few days ago.

CHRIS WALLACE: Do you just live with it because you need him?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, will anybody really know, all right? Will anybody really know, but he did have certainly people that were reasonably close to him and close to him that were probably involved. You saw we put on very heavy sanctions, massive sanctions, on a large group of people from Saudi Arabia. But at the same time we do have an ally and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you make of the President's remarks?

SENATOR RAND PAUL (R-Kentucky/@RandPaul): Well, you know the crown prince, his brother, made a phone call to Khashoggi, the dissident that was killed and dismembered, and that phone call was to tell Khashoggi, hey, it's fine. You can go to the consulate no one will harm you. Well, you know, we have the crown prince's brother making that phone call. I think we have other intelligence that may link brother's phone calls back to the crown prince. I think the evidence is overwhelming that the crown prince was involved and so no I don't think we can sweep this under the rug. The thing about sanctions is that I think sanctions are pretending to do something without really doing anything. Most of these people are in prison other than the crown prince. But the crown prince runs the country and we deal with him. If we put sanctions on people who are in prison, are we really doing anything to punish them they're already in prison. We need to punish who ordered this, who's in charge, and really the only thing they understand over there is strength. I think they will see sanctions as weakness on the part of the President and if the President wants to act strongly he should cut off the arms sale not only because of the killing but until they stop bombing civilian populations.


SENATOR RAND PAUL: Secretary Pompeo told Saudi Arabia three weeks ago stop bombing civilian populations. Since then Saudi Arabia has bombed cities two hundred times, they're not listening--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking about in Yemen.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: --they're indiscriminately bombing civilians. Yes in Yemen.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking about in Yemen. I should point out Saudi Arabia disputes the reporting that there is a-- there was a phone call between Prince Khaled and Jamal Khashoggi. They say that's just not true. But given the CIA assessment overall that says there was a role, do you think this needs to trigger some other kind of change in policy? You're on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are you going to try to block--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --the appointment of the appointed ambassador?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Realize the Saudis have told us a lot of things that were untrue. They told us it was a fistfight that went bad--


SENATOR RAND PAUL: --they have told us he was alive, they had a body double there to try to trick people into believing he was still alive. So the Saudis have been duplicitous since the very beginning. Do we need to do more? Yes, but at the very least we need to quit selling arms to people who are lying to us--

MARGARET BRENNAN: The President says that that's exactly why though, those arms sales are exactly why the relationship is important and he's not going to hurt the economic benefits.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Here's my point. The arms sales don't make us safer. They make us less safe. When we sell arms to a foreign country, it should not ever be for jobs, it should be for our national security. The Saudis' involving us in their war in Yemen is a disaster. Seventeen million people live on the edge of starvation. If we get involved in another civil war in the Middle East that's not good for our national security. That just drains our natural resources--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Can you do anything to stop it though?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Yeah. Quit arming the Saudis. The Saudis are bombing--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But in Congress--

SENATOR RAND PAUL: --to the tune of tens of thousands of bombs in Yemen.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --is there anything you can do? Because the President says he's going to continue selling.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Right. Yeah, I've introduced resolution after resolution to stop selling arms. We've done it twice and it's a privilege resolution meaning they can't prevent me from getting a vote.


SENATOR RAND PAUL: First time I got twenty-something votes. The second time with the help of a Democrat Senator Chris Murphy we got forty-seven votes. If we have another vote I think we could almost get to a veto proof majority, but guess what? They are not bringing any arms sales up right now--


SENATOR RAND PAUL: --because they know we might beat them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What about the ambassador who's been nominated here, General John Abizaid? You're going vote to confirm him?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: I-- I want to meet with him and I don't think that that really-- my first impulse is not-- that's not the way to sort of punish Saudi Arabia, by blocking an ambassador. I'm a big believer in dialogue and even with this I wouldn't stop trading oil with Saudi Arabia--


SENATOR RAND PAUL: --but I would stop selling them arms. That's the first thing I would do. That doesn't disrupt trade, doesn't disrupt diplomacy. It just sends them a very strong message, we're not going to keep fueling your-- your war in Yemen, which is a total disaster.


SENATOR RAND PAUL: And everybody saying there's no military solution and, yet, nobody's willing to do anything that would actually force Saudi Arabia to stop the war. If we were not refuel-- not refueling, if we were not providing spare parts for their American-made planes--


SENATOR RAND PAUL: --the war would be over in a matter of months because you have to have a continuous supply of spare parts and people repair your planes and train your pilots. If we quit doing that, Saudi Arabia would quit bombing them within three or four months.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to get you on domestic policy. The President has put forward a-- a-- a proposal that has some bipartisan support on criminal justice reform. There's no guarantee it's going to be put to vote in the lame duck session and some of your fellow Republicans like Tom Cotton say this is just about letting felons out of jail. How do you respond?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: You know I've been-- I've been working on criminal justice reform with Republicans and Democrats for six or seven years. I met with President Obama several times on this, bipartisan groups. We have a real chance to pass this now. With President Trump being in favor of-- of this criminal justice reform, he came out publicly for it really it only depends on one Senator now. If Senator Mitch McConnell, from my home state, will allow a vote it gets sixty-five to seventy votes in the Senate. It will be one of the most popular things to ever pass. Is it a jailbreak? No. It's saying people that have you know a nonviolent drug offense that we don't keep them in jail for life. It's saying that ninety-five percent of people that get out of prison--


SENATOR RAND PAUL: --when they get out of prison, do we want them to keep committing crimes or we should train them for jobs? Should we use programs to try to test whether or not we can teach people not to recommit crimes? And really do nonviolent people need to be in jail sometimes for life? We should--


SENATOR RAND PAUL: --reevaluate this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So how do you force a vote? You're running out of time here.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Well, it-- it's all up to one person. Senator McConnell has the ability to call any vote he wants to anytime. He has promised in the past that he would allow this vote if there was popularity for it. President Trump is behind it. In my state eighty-six percent of the people--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're suggesting he's choosing not to?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: --are behind this. The Fraternal Order of Police-- Fraternal Order of Police are behind it. Two thousand pastors, and I-- I didn't get your follow up.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I said it-- it-- it seems you're suggesting that he does not want to.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: There have been some articles. I haven't talked to him--


SENATOR RAND PAUL: --directly about it. The last time I talked to him about it he said he was open to allowing a vote after the election.


SENATOR RAND PAUL: Now with the President Trump's all-- all in on this I really hope we can get a vote but it's really up to Senator McConnell. But it's very, very popular in Kentucky and very, very popular with people who support President Trump so I hope he allows a vote.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will watch for that. Thank you very much, Senator Paul.


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


MARGARET BRENNAN: We are back with Maryland's Elijah Cummings. He is the top Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the chief investigative committee in the House and he is joining us from Baltimore this morning. Congressman, welcome to FACE THE NATION. I want to ask you what the President said this morning on Fox News in an interview with Chris Wallace. He said that the acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has the power to block any subpoena requests from the special counsel to the President. The President suggested that he's done answering questions. And now that the investigation he seems to be suggesting is coming to an end. Does Congress have anything to do to protect the integrity of the-- of the probe itself given some of these past public statements by the acting attorney general that have drawn that into question?

REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-Maryland 7th/@RepCummings): Well, I am extremely concerned about the acting attorney general. I question whether or not it was actually a legitimate appointment since he's not been confirmed by the Senate. But we-- we're going to look into-- to all of this. I-- again--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Can you force--

REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: --with him being in there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --his recusal?

REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: I don't think so. I don't think-- I don't think that we-- I don't know that we have that power. But we're going to certainly look at every angle. But I'm hoping that-- that-- that-- I would love to see him recuse himself because I think the things that he has said about defunding the special probe and the many things that he has talked about, with regard to his opinion, a negative opinion with regard to special counsel in the process. I don't think that he's the proper person to be in that position and I-- in any-- and-- but, again, I think almost anything he does in that-- in the position of the interim may very well be tainted because we're not clear-- it's not clear that he is a legitimate appointment to that position.

MARGARET BRENNAN: If the Mueller probe continues to its conclusion, which the President has said he-- he at this point won't interfere. Will you-- if you do take the chairmanship of House Oversight and have the subpoena power that goes with it, will you force Mueller's findings to be made public if the Department of Justice decides not to release them?

REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: I would love to see it be-- become public because, basically, in this last election what the public has said is that they want accountability and they want transparency and they have paid for a-- an investigation by one of our greatest public servants, Mister Mueller, Special Counsel Mueller. And so I would do anything and everything in my power to have that-- the findings presented to not only to the Congress, but to the people of the United States. I think it's very important.

MARGARET BRENNAN: If you take this chairmanship, what's your top priority? Where do you begin?

REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Well, first of all, we've got to make sure that we do-- do those things that are important to the American people. Things such as voting rights, we just saw what happened down there in Georgia and in Florida. We-- we-- we cannot have a country where people are being blocked from voting. We also want to look at preexisting conditions, things of that nature, to make sure that people are protected in-- in regard to that. We also want to look at the census. Lot of people are surprised about that. But the census is right around the corner.


REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: And what we do with regard to the census will affect us for the next ten to twelve years and-- and it will affect every single person in this country. Another area is postal. Our postal system has had some economic problems. We have legislation that could actually cure those problems. We want to move that forward. So we're going to be doing that. But at the same time we are going to address the issue that-- that-- that a lot of people are concerned about and making sure that government is doing what government is supposed to do for all of the American people. We may not have been elected by all the people as Democrats but we must govern all the people in a fair way.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As I mentioned you are expected to have that powerful position on House oversight. But overall when it comes to leadership right now, there are some questions about whether there is enough black leadership at the top of the Democratic Party. I mean if Pelo-- Pelosi and Hoyer are-- are successful at remaining speaker and leader, is Jim Clyburn enough? Do you need to see more?

REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: I think-- first of all, you got to understand we have-- all of us our leaders.


REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: And so-- but we could only have one speaker at a time. Nancy Pelosi has simply been a phenomenal and she has been one who has been-- she believes in inclusion revolution. She has probably the most diverse leadership team that in his-- in the history of any legislative body as far as the Congress is concerned. And she has-- she has fought hard to make sure that people like Maxine Waters and Bobby Scott--


REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: --and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus are supported. So-- and as far as Jim Clyburn is concerned, he's a phenomenal leader. And so we-- you know we're going to be fine. I know that there are people who are talking a lot of talk.


REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: But the fact is is that Nancy Pelosi is a phenomenal woman, a phenomenal speaker and a phenomenal leader. She'll be fine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Congressman, thank you very much.

We'll be back in a moment with a lot more--




MARGARET BRENNAN: Twelve days after the midterm elections we still don't know the exact makeup of the House and Senate. Votes are still being counted. What we do know is there are a record number of women and veterans. Coming up, we'll talk with four new representatives, plus, a new member of the Senate Republican leadership, Iowa's Senator Joni Ernst.

Good to have you here.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We turn now to Iowa Senator Joni Ernst who has joined the Republican leadership team as the Conference Vice Chairwoman in the new Congress. Good to see you in person and for the appreciation.

SENATOR JONI ERNST (R-Iowa/@SenJoniErnst): Thank you, Margaret. Thank you. It's great to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: President gave an interview this morning to Fox's Chris Wallace and he said that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen needs to be much tougher on the border. What is she doing wrong?

SENATOR JONI ERNST: Well, I think that she has done a good job. I think the President is just very frustrated, of course, with what we see at the border. We do have a large number of-- of immigrants that are trying to get over the border illegally and we do need to make sure that we have got plenty of surveillance; that we have plenty of officers ready to respond. I think her response has been well so far. We as Congress need to step forward and do the next steps.

MARGARET BRENNAN: She should continue in the role?

SENATOR JONI ERNST: I think that she's done a good job, but, of course, any of our secretaries or cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the President. It's entirely up to him who serves in those positions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're a vet. Is deploying six thousand troops to the border a good use of resources?

SENATOR JONI ERNST: Well, I-- again, up to the President and, of course, those governors that are involved at their National Guard soldiers.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You are on Armed Services, you have a voice.

SENATOR JONI ERNST: If-- if they are active duty soldiers it does actually provide them an opportunity for real-life training in their roles. Many of them, if they serve in logistics-type positions they will actually be doing those missions on the border. So it is a very good skill. As someone who has commanded troops both in peacetime and in wartime to make sure that they keep their skills sharp. And so when they do deploy, they are in harm's way overseas. They know exactly how to support the-- the men and women on the frontlines.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's how you see--I know General Mattis said-- Secretary Mattis has said they won't even have any contact with people coming across.

SENATOR JONI ERNST: Exactly, but they will be utilized in the roles. Like I said many of them may be logistics professionals serving--


SENATOR JONI ERNST: --in our armed services. And then it gives them greater opportunity to respond quickly in those types of situations, whether they are supporting with food or body armor, whatever it might be for Border Patrol agents.


SENATOR JONI ERNST: It allows those border patrol agents to actually focus on the law enforcement duties.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As we introduce you, you are the first female senator to be in a leadership position of the GOP in a decade.


MARGARET BRENNAN: But the number of women-- Republican women in the House is at a twenty-four-year low. We have never seen a Republican woman in the House or Senate in the whip leader or speaker positions. Now from these midterm results we're seeing female voters breaking from the party. Does the Republican Party have a problem with women?

SENATOR JONI ERNST: Well, I think we need to encourage more women to run for office. I think we really can do much better in that area and then encourage them to seek responsibilities as leaders. So, I was really, really honored to be elected into our Republican leadership in the Senate. We have to have quality candidate-- candidates out there and again encourage them to run, we need to be--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Was that the problem in the primaries that you saw where some women were running but not winning?

SENATOR JONI ERNST: Well, part of that--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it the-- is the issue with Republican men not voting for Republican female candidates?

SENATOR JONI ERNST: I would say that part of that really is that we need to connect with our constituencies. We need to make sure that our voices are being heard. So whether it is focusing on health care priorities, whether it is focusing on a national paid family leave opportunity for men and for women. Whatever those messages are, we need to communicate those and make sure that we are being heard when our constituents go to the polls.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Will you be doing anything to recruit more women?

SENATOR JONI ERNST: Certainly I-- I do visit with a number of women and I talk to Republican women. I see Democratic women when I'm in Iowa, as well. And if they have a passion, if they believe in public service, I always encourage them to run, if that's their desire to serve the people of their-- their potential district. We want them to step up and make their voices heard.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You don't think the President's rhetoric or what happened during the 2016 election is turning away women from the party overall--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --voters or candidates?

SENATOR JONI ERNST: I think that we could do a better job of communicating clearly that we support women and that's something that I try and do. I try and set a very strong example for women that want to run for office, women that wish to serve in the military. Whatever it might be, we need to set a good example. Women primarily, men secondarily, we need to step up and make sure that we are supporting the needs of our constituents.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about something that really impacts your home state. The vice president said today--and he's in Asia--that the U.S. is not in a rush to end this trade dispute with China, suggesting that things might not get resolved when President Xi and Trump sit down in just a few weeks. There was a twelve-billion-dollar bailout for farmers, to help alleviate some of this pain. Will you need another one?

SENATOR JONI ERNST: Mm-Hm. I am hopeful that we will not need another subsidy program for our farmers. Our farmers would much rather grow their goods and make sure that they are getting out to the rest of the world. Absolutely. But I've done a number of farmer roundtables all across the state of Iowa. And at the last one I held, the very last speaker, a-- a middle-aged farmer, he-- he stood up and said, "I understand why President Trump is doing this. However, what I don't understand is why someone didn't do it sooner." So they understand--

MARGARET BRENNAN: The pain is tolerable for now?

SENATOR JONI ERNST: The pain is tolerable for now. I want to see these trade deals done. I'd rather see them done sooner, rather than later, but we have to get a good deal with China or it's all for naught.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. Senator, thank you for joining us.

SENATOR JONI ERNST: Thank you. Pleasure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be back with a panel of some of the new House members.


MARGARET BRENNAN: There will be dozens of new faces on Capitol Hill next year when Congress convenes, including our next four guests--all incoming members of the House of Representatives, who each bring a unique perspective here to Washington. Democrat Joe Neguse is Colorado's first black congressman. His parents came to this country from Eritrea as refugees more than thirty-five years ago. He's also a new father of a baby girl. Congrats on that. Democrat Deb Haaland of New Mexico is one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress. She's also a single mother. Republican Dan Crenshaw of Texas is a retired Navy SEAL who fought in Afghanistan. He may also be the first representative elect to appear on Saturday Night Live--at least that I remember. And Democrat Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania is a former captain in the Air Force, a former chemistry teacher and she is also a mother of two. So you, ladies, know something about multitasking here. A lot of Americans, when you talk to them, seem to have lost faith in Congress. In fact, the approval rating CBS News just took was at nineteen percent. What made you run?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE (D-Colorado 2nd/@JoeNeguse): You know, look, I was very concerned about the direction that our country was taking. As you mentioned, my parents were Eritrean immigrants to this country and we've been able to live the American dream and the freedoms and the opportunities that have enabled us to live the American dream in every sense of that phrase, I felt like we're slipping away for a lot of Americans in our country. And so decided that I would try to do something about it and threw my hat in the ring.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congresswoman:

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DEB HAALAND (D-New Mexico 1st/@Deb4CongresNM): Yes, well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congresswoman-elect.

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DEB HAALAND: Thank you, thank you. Well, of course, this is an important job. It's an important job for my district in New Mexico. I wanted to feel like I could help more people. The constituent services program that we're all responsible for, I think, is extremely important for our districts. And that's absolutely one of the reasons that I decided to run.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What about you, Congressman-elect?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW (R-Texas 2nd/@DanCrenshawTX): Well, you know, I was in the military for ten years. I took an oath to the Constitution twelve years ago.


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: And, you know, that oath has not ended. So it's really about service. It's about service and it's about impact. You know, how can I impact the-- the issues that matter to my constituents? You know, we're still reeling from Hurricane Harvey. We want more individual freedom. We want less government in our lives. We want to live that American dream. And those are things we can actually agree on. And that's what I'll be fighting for.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So when you hear that there's an approval rating of just nineteen percent, you think you can do better than that?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: Well, I hope so. Is that an improvement or-- or, it might be an improvement. I thought it was lower at one point.


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: I understand that's the case. And-- and, you know, the-- the military has-- has long brought a lot of credibility to American institutions. I hope to bring some of that credibility to Congress. You know the way we do that is we talk to each other like we're actually people. Let's not attack each other's intent, let's not attack-- attack each other as a person, let's attack ideas. All right. We can debate ideas, we can disagree on ideas all day long. Let's find the things that we actually agree upon and work on those.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you equally as optimistic, Congresswoman-elect?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN (D-Pennsylvania 6th/@HoulahanForPa): Well, so I-- I share a lot of commonalities with my fellow colleagues in terms of why I'm running. I am third-generation military. My dad and grandfather served careers and I did as well, served as a captain in the Air Force. And as a third-generation military member, I am deeply concerned about the democracy right now. I am worried about the direction that we're heading as a people. I am similarly interested in making sure that we maintain civility and decency with one another in the way that we treat each other and the way that our government works. And, personally, my motivation for running is-- is one of service. I want to continue the service that I've done, both in the military and also growing good and strong businesses and most recently in education as a-- as a teacher and also as a nonprofit leader in early childhood literacy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The district that you were elected in, you flipped it.




MARGARET BRENNAN: But you've described it as more purple.


MARGARET BRENNAN: It-- it's a mix--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --of people of different convictions here. How do you balance those forces? And does that mean that, as a Democrat, you're willing to work with President Trump?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: Absolutely. We are a district that's forty percent Democrat, forty percent Republican, and twenty percent Independent. And I-- I call us-- us purple people because I believe that we are, I believe largely that we sit in the middle and what we're looking for is head and heart issues.

MARGARET BRENNAN: One of the more divisive issues is immigration. It's also what President Trump says he wants to tackle. Obviously, there are different views on how to do that. But Congresswoman-elect, you're in a very unique position, as one of only two--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --Native American women elected to Congress. How do you think that affects your approach on things like immigration?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DEB HAALAND: Sure. Sure. Well, New Mexico is a border state. So we-- we actually feel confident about the security of our borders and New Mexico. We-- New Mexico as a whole was appalled when the policy to separate children from their parents happened on the border. It made me immediately think about governmental policies back when my grandmother was a child and she was separated from her family and taken to Indian boarding school. So it seems like at some point, we need to look at our history and stop doing the things that are harmful to our children and work toward finding solutions that are absolutely humane. Well, I--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You would work with President Trump?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DEB HAALAND: Well, I-- I think we all have to do it together. We are-- the Democrats won back the House. We didn't win back the Senate or the presidency yet. So we do have to work across the aisle to make sure that we can get things passed. Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman-elect, you-- you are a vet. You mentioned your service. How do you feel about the deployment of U.S. troops, U.S. personnel to the border? Is that the right way to be using the U.S. military?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: Well, what they're using them for is-- is logistical support. You know they're not there-- they're not down there as-- as combat troops stopping people from crossing the border.

MARGARET BRENNAN: They're not actually at the border, right?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: That-- that-- that's not-- that's not what's actually happening--


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: What's actually happening is they're-- they're-- they're reinforcing the law enforcement that is there to do their job. You know, the reality is-- is I-- what I want to-- well, the-- the question I always have the Democrats is, do we agree that our borders should be secure, yes or no? I understand you don't like the wall. I understand that. But can we agree that the border should be secured? And if you have other ideas to-- to-- to secure that border, and especially in Texas we are willing to listen because, you know, we have a river along the border. We can't always put a wall there. We get that. You know we've got other options, as well. So will you work with us on--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But in terms of using the U.S. military--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --in that role. Essentially, you know, we have--

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: Right, well-- well-- well, when you have-- when you have-- sure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --a border patrol that has the job that you just laid out that the military is now there to back them up on.

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: Well, right, but there was also thousands of thousands of people coming up to the border in a caravan. And so you have to take different measures to do that. So--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You do see that as a threat even though they're on foot and not at the border yet?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: Well-- well, what's the other option? To just let them cross? Because we don't have enough law enforcement officials to deal with that possibly. So, you know, again, we're not putting combat troops on the border. That's not what's happening. We are dealing with this in a very humane way and as I think we should and we can all agree on that for sure. None of us really like seeing families separated. I've said that all along. That's-- it's the last thing we want to see. Republicans tried to put legislation forward that would stop that. Okay. And we would continue to do that. But-- but, yes, if-- if-- if it's between letting people across and not letting people cross, we have to secure our border. And I-- and I hear that we agree on that a lot. I do. And I-- and I understand that Democrats don't like the rhetoric and don't like the wall. I-- I absolutely get that. But I want to see other options on the table then on what we can do to actually secure it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He's comfortable using U.S. troops in that way. Are you?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: No, no. I think it's the wrong approach. I think it's imprudent. I disagree with it and I think the other option is to follow existing law and-- and let folks go through the asylum process and to the extent that they are able to successfully claim asylum. I-- I say this as the son of refugees. I mean I-- I think immigrants to this country have so much to give and it's important we get this right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Will the Democrats at the table vote for any kind of immigration reform that includes funding for a border wall?


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: No, I don't support a wall.

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: I wouldn't as well. And I am also the daughter of a refugee. My dad was a survivor of the Holocaust and came here with his mom as a very small child, as a five-year-old and this is a very personal issue to me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Let me take a break here and come back. We talked about finding agreement. We've already found a disagreement. Let's see what-- what else we can--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --we can get to. Got there pretty quick. After this short break we will be back in a moment with more from our panel.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back with our new member panel. And let's pick up the conversation. I know the two of you, both vets, have made a vow to try to find at least one point of agreement that you can legislate around. Do you know what that's going to be?





REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: --infrastructure issues. You know different infrastructure issues around the country. But for us it's flood mitigation, opioid epidemic is-- is terrible. You know, more-- more people died of opioids last year than the entire Vietnam War. That's-- that's just the reality. And--


MARGARET BRENNAN: But is there anything that you particularly want to shepherd here?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: Well I-- I agree, infrastructure and-- and a big infrastructure bill--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that number one for you?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: Absolutely. Opioids is an enormous problem in our community as well. Pharmaceutical prescription prices I think is something that we need to look at, we have to look at.

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: And another thing I would bring up is workforce training issues. You know there are seven million job openings, which is a great problem to have. We've got a great economy.


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: But we need middle skill labor to fill those jobs.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask the Democrats at the table about your own leadership, your own party identity. I know you, Congresswoman-elect, have said you will support Nancy Pelosi to be speaker.


MARGARET BRENNAN: The two of you. Did you learn anything this week? Did she earn your votes and your support?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: Well, so I'd say, I just want to-- one quick tangent, criminal justice reform is also another--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Oh, you're deflecting. You are a politician.

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: I know. No, I will answer it. I will answer the question but--


MARGARET BRENNAN: It's a-- it's a yes--

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: It's a really important issue where there's some emerging bipartisan consensus for Republicans and Democrats--


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: I'm passionate about that. No. Look, I- it's fascinating to me that it's the question that we got most often, at least the Democrats did--


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: --here during orientation, which is particularly interesting since there's no other candidate that I am aware of--


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: --that's running against Leader Pelosi. I intend to support her. You know I think that it's important that we have steady leadership right now. And I found it pretty heartening over the course of the last week some of the developments around it becoming clear that this leadership team is going to work to try to make sure that everyone has a seat at the table. You saw a message from Leader Pelosi's office by way of example around making sure that there is progressive representation on key committees in the Congress--


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: --and the Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders endorsing her shortly thereafter. So-- so yeah, that's where I am.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that what changed your mind? The pledge to diversity council?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: That among many other things. I wanted to have conversations with existing leadership and also with my fellow freshmen, you know, fellow classmates to talk to them about their vision for the caucus, their vision for the future. And-- and, ultimately, that's where I landed.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you know how you'll vote yet?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: Right now she's the only person who's running, so it would appear as though that's where my vote would go. And right now I believe that she's an effective person in that job. And so--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you're open to being swayed?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: I-- I believe right now it looks as though it's heading in the direction that she will be our speaker.


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: And I think she's a pretty powerful person and a capable person.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman-elect, you-- during your run were backed by Bernie Sanders. Do you think he represents the future of your party?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: I think we're a big tent party. I mean if-- if-- if there's--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But he's a more progressive voice within it.

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: Of course. And, you know, there are also many other voices and many of our freshmen that we've spent this week with come from different areas of the country, different regions of the country. Obviously, I, you know, am a progressive Democrat and-- and believe that we should be bold in pushing for some really comprehensive solutions around some of the pressing public policy challenges that we face: climate change and the planetary crisis being the best example perhaps. But, look, again, we are a big tent party. We are inclusive. We are diverse. I think that's a good thing. So I-- I appreciate his voice just as I do the voice of many, many other leaders in the party who are all stepping up to the plate at a really critical time for our democracy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, but Republicans learned this when they had sort of an insurgent group, the Tea Party, right. That it can, while being part of bigger tent, cause problems for leadership or at least, you know, try to create some issues around finding consensus. Do you see that happening for Democrats? Do-- do progressives now become the problem for Nancy Pelosi rather than part of the caucus really on the same page?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: No, I don't think that's the case. I've only been in Washington for five days. So-- but, you know, my experience thus far and-- and I think Deb can touch on this as well as a member of the Progressive Caucus. But, no, I don't think that's the case. I think we are all working together rowing in the same direction trying to save our democracy, to be frank and so--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why do you say save our democracy?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: Well, look, I think that right now it's important for this majority in the House to engage in some really critical oversight of an administration that is undermining a lot of critical freedoms for folks in our country. And so when I say save our democracy, I-- I mean, precisely that. That-- I think some of our democratic freedoms and the principles that we live by have been under attack for the better part of the last two years.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman-elect, do you want to respond to that since the President has-- is the leader of your party?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: Yeah. Well, I-- I always ask the question like--like what? You know like what is he undermining exactly? You know what-- what democratic freedoms have been undermined? We just has an election where we switched-- switched power in the House. Democracy is at work. People are voting in-- in record numbers. I-- I always ask for examples, and then we can hit those examples one-by-one and if it's-- and if it's worth criticizing, it's worth criticizing, but just kind of this broad brush criticism that the President is somehow undermining our democracy. I always wonder like, what exactly we're talking about--

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: I'll be happy to-- I'll be happy to add all of the things that he's--

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: I'm-- I'm happy to give you the example as well.



REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: I mean the undermining of the free press--

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: The free press, you know, judiciary--

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: Well, how has he done that?


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: How-- how has he undermined the free press?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: Well, by way of example--



REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: --had many press members under investigation. Trump has not.



REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: So what is-- so what is-- so what is the difference here?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: Just this last week, one of the largest media publications in the United States, right, had to go to a federal court in order to, essentially, regain access to the press room--

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: No, that was for one reporter. One reporter. Not the whole-- not the whole organization.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Other media organizations, including CBS, did file amicus briefs in support--

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: That's right. Yeah. So I-- I mean, again--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --to disclose that.


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: I think we, obviously, would be-- it's part of a much larger conversation--




REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT JOE NEGUSE: A federal judge disagreed.

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: I-- I-- I would argue that our President is consistently disruptive in those very same press conferences. And I would argue that he treats them with disrespect--

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: But how is that-- and how is that an attack on the press, though?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: Be-- because it's, literally, an attack on the press--

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: Oh, I've literally been attacked. So I-- I don't-- let's choose our words carefully.

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: His-- his-- his-- his-- his language is an attack in these spaces.

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: Okay, so why can't he speak-- why-- why is he not allowed to use his own language and freedom of speech?

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: Because you-- and you talked about this actually, it's important that we lead from example, that we lead from the top. And the way that our President is currently leading--

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: You-- I-- I agree with you there. I agree with you there. Style is one thing, if you want to criticize style, I-- I'm with you. Right? But to say it's an attack on the freedom of the press, that is a very bold statement.

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: By calling the press the enemy of the people.

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: Yeah, I don't like that language.


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: Okay, so the style, I-- I-- I agree, I don't like that language.

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DEB HAALAND: And-- and fake news, of course. Yes. And I'll give you another example. His rhetoric about erasing trans people in our country, that to me--

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: And he has never said that.

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DEB HAALAND: Well, it-- it-- it-- it appears that he is discriminating against the LGBTQ community and I think that's troublesome. I think it's worrisome. We all have communities in-- I mean across this country. And, I mean, and we mentioned it at the beginning ripping children away from their parents' arms. Those are all things that worry me that I absolutely feel that we have to have oversight on.

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: Or how about just, you know, malign--

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: So they're policy differences--

REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT CHRISSY HOULAHAN: --the CIA and the FBI and the State Department and all those important institutions that are fundamental to how our democracy works and functions--


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: So what-- what I hear a lot is you don't like what he says sometimes. Okay, but-- and you don't like the-- you know we have policy disagreements--


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: --but you're saying undermining democracy--


REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT DAN CRENSHAW: And I want to-- I want to caution us because those are very bold words. If we have policy disagreements, let's focus on those policy disagreements and I'll be happy to discuss those at any point. But this is what I've been getting at kind of all week which is we tend to-- we tend to go right at the jugular, right. We say you're undermining democracy, you're a bad person fundamentally, that's not always true. We have policy disagreements on a lot of these things.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I think it's interesting that we talked about some of the most divisive issues, including immigration, but the thing that set all of you off was the President. We have to leave the conversation there. Thank you so much. Good luck to you and your new work and your new jobs and we'll be right back.





MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thanks for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan. 

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