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Full transcript: "Face the Nation" on November 25, 2018

11/25: Face The Nation
11/25: Trey Gowdy, Angus King, Bernie Sanders 46:45

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MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, November, 25th. I'm Margaret Brennan and this is FACE THE NATION.

The new week begins with talks between the U.S. and Mexico to keep asylum seekers south of the border. This, just days after President Trump said he authorized the U.S. military to use lethal force to stop a caravan of migrants. And action critics challenged as unconstitutional.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You're dealing with a minimum of five hundred serious criminals. So I'm not going to let the military be taken advantage of.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And in the final weeks of the Republican-controlled Congress, a House Committee has subpoenaed fired FBI Director James Comey for a second round of closed-door questioning. A summons that Comey says he'll fight.

Investigators also set their sights on a new scandal--first daughter Ivanka Trump's use of private e-mail for White House business. House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina will break it all down with us.

Meanwhile, from Mar-a-Lago, President Trump drew an unusual rebuke from Chief Justice John Roberts after lashing out at a judge who ruled against his asylum policy.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Ninth Circuit, everybody knows it, it's totally out of control.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the President stands by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite U.S. intelligence linking him to the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. We'll ask a key member of the Intelligence Committee--Maine independent Senator Angus King what he can tell us after being briefed by the CIA. Plus, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders joins us to talk about his new book, and the government's bombshell Black Friday climate change report. And we'll take a look at the past, present, and future of the U.S. space program. Prepare for liftoff.

It's all coming up on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We begin today with Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy who leads the main investigative-- investigative committee of the House of Representatives. He joins us this morning from Greenville, South Carolina. Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. You've been busy over the holiday.

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY (R-South Carolina/@TGowdySC): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We know that, Congressman. A subpoena was sent to fired FBI Director James Comey calling for him to testify before your committee. He is objecting to the format saying this has to be in public. It can't be in private because information will be selectively leaked. I know on this program in the past you have said that Congressional investigations, "leak like the gossip girls." Do you think that Comey's right to object?

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: You know, Margaret, I don't get a chance to say this very often, but I do think Jim Comey is right. Leaks are counterproductive whether Jim Comey is doing it, whether the FBI is doing it, or whether Congress is doing it. The remedy for leaks is not to have a public hearing where you are supposed to ask about seventeen months worth of work in five minutes. I think the remedy is to videotape the deposition. Videotape the transcribed interview. That way the public can see whether the question was fair. They can judge the entirety of the answer. But there is no fact finder on-- on the planet that tries to discover the truth in five-minute increments and I can't think of one that does it on national television. So we have to do it the same way we've handled every other witness which is a transcribed interview a deposition. I am sensitive to leaks. I hate leaks. I think they undercut the-- the authenticity of the investigation but the remedy is not to have a professional wrestling-type carnival atmosphere which is what Congressional public hearings have become.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, how would a tape deposition change that? I mean his concern is that he's implying that this is just going to be political grandstanding.

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: Well, pe-- people act differently when there aren't cameras in the room. Trust me when I say that. There are very constructive interviews when there is no camera. What I would propose-- and Bob Goodlatte is the chairman. He-- he can decide. What I would propose is videotape that interview from pillar to post, scrub it for classified information in case somebody inadvertently asks or answers and then release it to the public. Release the entire interview but do not make members of Congress question someone that Democrats think cost Hillary Clinton the election. And Republicans have a lot of questions for. Do not ask us to limit seventeen months worth of decision making to five minutes of questions no other serious fact finder tries to do it in five minutes. So I don't know why Congress thinks it can.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that a formal offer to Mister Comey?

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: Oh, if I were the chairman of Judiciary it would be a formal offer. I-- I think Bob Goodlatte-- Bob Goodlatte hates leaks every bit as much as I do which is why he doesn't do it.


REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: But he also is not going to let Jim Comey who, by the way, the FBI has never conducted an interview in public. Never. And he wasn't interviewed by Mueller in public. So the notion that Jim Comey all of a sudden loves public interviews he hadn't done it his entire career. So Bob Goodlatte will decide and it won't be Jim Comey.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You've also put in a request this week to the White House for more information about why Ivanka Trump, a presidential adviser and, obviously, the President's daughter, was using private e-mail for government-- government business. People remember you well from the probe you led into Benghazi that helped you uncover Hillary Clinton's use of private e-mail. At the time, you said that there should be prosecution of her for divulging classified information or in any way mishandling it. Would you similarly call for that kind of prosecution of the President's daughter?

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: Well, I will defer to whatever tape may exist but I have assiduously tried to avoid ever calling for the prosecution of anyone, including Hillary Clinton. And-- and I'm pretty sure that's true because I've had a lot of Republicans upset with me. They're two separate issues. The divulging of classified information is a crime using personal e-mail upon which to conduct public business is not a crime. You're not supposed to do it. It's not best practices. It actually violates statutes and regulations. Pub-- public work is-- is a privilege and-- and part of that is you give up the right to use your private e-mail to conduct government work. So you-- you should keep the record. Miss Clinton should do it, Eric Holder. Everyone throughout government who conducts official business should use official e-mail. If you don't, then you should take other steps to safeguard it. And-- and that's what we need to know from Miss Trump, but I've never called for Hillary Clinton to be prosecuted and I couldn't possibly have done it for using private e-mail because it's not a crime.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mishandling classified information. I think some have interpreted your past statements about that to-- to have called for further actions. But in this case, the President has already said for Ivanka Trump that he thinks there is nothing to see here. Are you concerned that he is saying that at this point before there is an investigation by your committee?

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: I am concerned anytime any President prejudges the outcome of an investigation. Whether it's President Obama, whether it's President Trump. I've already talked to Miss Trump's attorney. I've already talked to Mister Cummings. We've already written a letter to the White House. Congress has a responsibility to make sure that the records and the Presidential Records Act is complied with. And that is true no matter-- no matter who the person is, whether it's Secretary Clinton or whether it's Tom Perez or whether it's Ivanka Trump. So we've taken steps, we-- we've-- we've done more in the last week than-- than in some of my House Democratic colleagues did the entire time we were looking into Benghazi. So I am at peace with what we've done, but we need the information and we need it quickly. And then the public can judge whether or not those two fact--


REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: --patterns are similar.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to also ask you before you go you're an attorney you're a former federal prosecutor. Do you agree with the very unusual public statement that we heard this week from Chief Justice John Roberts who rebuked the President in many ways, saying "We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges Bush judges or Clinton judges." Do you con-- share his concern that the judiciary is being politicized?

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: Margaret, I wish Chief Justice Roberts were right. I wish there were not a politicization of the judiciary-- judiciary. But it's not just politicians. Every print article that you will go find this afternoon refers to judges based on the President that put him or her in office. And you see terms like conservative and ultra-conservative and liberal and moderate which are political terms, but they're used to describe judges. So I wish Chief Justice Roberts were right. I wish that we did not refer to judges based on which President put them in office as if that is somehow going to inextricably lead us to the conclusion. But it's been happening since I was a kid. It's been happening for fifty years that we have used political terms to describe judges. I wish we would stop. But President Trump is not the first person to do it. I think President Obama criticized the Supreme Court--


REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: --to their face in the State of the Union. So I wish everyone would stop, including the media referring to judges based on which President put them in office.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Congressman Gowdy, good to talk to you. Thanks for joining us today.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Senator Angus King. He is an independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats and he's on both the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees. Senators-- Senator, thank you for joining us today.

SENATOR ANGUS KING (I-Maine/@SenAngusKing): Pleasure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In your role in Armed Services you will be looking in some way at what's happening with the use of U.S. troops at the border. We saw this week that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly signed an order here that seemed to loosen the restrictions on military personnel and what they do at the Southwest border allowing to engage in some form of law enforcement or some form of lethal-- lethal force. That was the phrase used by the President. What exactly are U.S. troops being asked to do?

SENATOR ANGUS KING: Well, the way you asked the question indicated the gray area that we're in, because there's an ancient law going back hundred and fifty years--posse comitatus, no use of federal troops for law enforcement. It gets gray when you get to the border. Now, if, indeed, there was an invasion, which there isn't, clearly, we can defend ourselves. I mean that's one of the reasons you have a military but using troops in a border situation with asylum seekers is-- is I think not appropriate. If they're being used in support, you know, President Obama sent people down to support the-- the border Customs and Border Patrol but all the indications are this was an overreaction. The President said in a quote I think you had in your lead in there. "There are five hundred bad criminals." I've never seen any evidence of that. I haven't heard any evidence of that. I think if that's the case clearly it's something we need to take account of. But the question is can we use force at the border. It seems to be inappropriate unless there is some serious provocation which so far doesn't seem to be the case.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you going to put questions to the defense secretary or to the administration about clarifying this?

SENATOR ANGUS KING: Yes, I am hoping through the-- through the Armed Services Committee to be able to look into not only what the rule is-- what the-- what the rules of engagement are that the Defense Department issues. Also I want to know how much this is costing.


SENATOR ANGUS KING: Estimates range from seventy-five million to a couple of hundred million dollars for something which by all accounts doesn't seem to be necessary.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What is the timeline for this deployment? I mean December some have-- have said is what the Homeland Security Agency has indicated could be the end date.


MARGARET BRENNAN: But Mattis was not that clear.

SENATOR ANGUS KING: I heard it-- I heard an end date of December 15th, but I don't think there's any clear answer to that. The-- the-- again the question is what was the necessity here. We have a very strong border security in terms of Customs and Border Patrol. Do we need-- did we need these extra troops was there any indication? And what is that-- as you say what are the rules of engagement? What is the cost and how long is it going to be there? And I think those are all important questions that the Armed Services Committee is going to want to look into. If you're talking about two hundred million dollars, that's a lot of money if the justification isn't there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You also are on the Intelligence Committee which means you're one of the-- the few elected officials who was briefed by the CIA on their assessment of what happened with Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. I know you can't divulge classified information but the President has said that the intel comt-- community doesn't have conclusions they just have feelings. Is it that murky?

SENATOR ANGUS KING: Well the-- the first-- my first response to that is the CIA doesn't do feelings. They do assessments and they do assessments based upon intelligence from all sources and we did have a comprehensive briefing just before the Thanksgiving break on this issue by the CIA. That's all I'm going to tell you. I cannot talk about what happened in that briefing. I can talk about information that's available in the public record about what's going on and I think one of the most interesting documents produced in public is by the Treasury Department on November 15th where they sanctioned fifteen Saudis and they listed why they did it which was involvement in this incident and the-- Qahtani, the-- the lead guy, is the top person to-- to the-- to Mohammed bin Salman, he's the-- he's the next in line. And there's a tweet from him last summer that said "I don't do things without instructions. I work for the king and the prince." Now you don't have to be the CIA to put things together and say how could this have happened without the Prince being involved. It just-- he's in total control. And you know we're not going to find an e-mail that says don't forget the bone saw, but it was pretty clear without reference to what we heard in that briefing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Now the-- President Trump is not the first American president to face this decision, the tradeoff between U.S. national security interests and human rights concerns when it comes to Saudi Arabia. But this is a very "in your face" case here with this murder of this journalist. Do you think that to send a clear message, you have to go beyond those individuals named in the sanctions? That you do have to directly in some way punish the crown prince based on what has been reported to be the CIA's assessment that he did play some role--

SENATOR ANGUS KING: And--and what is publicly reported and what is known. Yes. And I think the-- the statement that came from the White House last week was-- was amazing because it made it sound easy. It basically said we got an important relationship with Saudi Arabia; therefore, we're going to turn a blind eye to this. It's not that easy and again going back to the Treasury Department they-- they have this long paragraph about how this is a violation of American values. It undermines our credibility abroad. All of these things. I wish the President had read that before he made this statement that said this is you know they're an important ally and, therefore, we're going to stand with them. He made it sound easy. We do have to make these difficult decisions. But so far what they are doing is giving a pass to this guy. And I think it gives a pass to dictators around the world. That's the danger. It undermines our authority and the authority of our values across the planet.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, thank you very much for being here in studio. Always good to talk to you.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be back in one minute with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. So stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back with Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders who joins us from Burlington this morning. He is also the author of a new book Where We Go From Here: Two Years in the Resistance. Senator, welcome to the program. I do want to ask you about that book, but, first of, you are on the Environmental Committee and I want to ask you about this report from the Trump administration, a really sharp warning about the immediate danger of climate change. Strongest language we've seen thus far from the federal government. What action will-- will Congress take?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vermont/@SenSanders/Where We Go From Here): Well, what Congress should do is move aggressively in listening not only to this report from the Trump administration but from the into-- into-- into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which tells us, Margaret, that climate change is not only real it is already doing irreparable harm all over this planet, including the United States of America. What Congress has got to do is take Trump on, take the fossil fuel industry on, and transform our energy system away from fossil fuel, to energy efficiency and sustainable energies like solar and wind. And when we do that, we are going to lead the world in saving the planet. We're going to create millions of decent-paying jobs. We're going to lower the cost of electricity. And that is what we have got to do for our kids and our grandchildren if we are going to leave them a planet that is healthy and is habitable.


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: This is a very shock-- this is a very alarming report and we've got to wake up and address these issues.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You've been warning about this for some time. But one of the things in the report is that it estimates you could knock as much as ten percent off the size of the U.S. economy by the end of this century because of related costs. If advocates like yourself use that financial argument, that economic argument, would it be more effective in taking some of the politics out of this because this has been painted as such a partisan issue, not a scientific one.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, first of all, the debate is over about the reality of climate change and the incredible and costly harm it's going to do to this country. We are talking about hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars in damage that we're going to have to pay for. Second of all, I think it is very clear that we have got to bring our people together to address this terribly important issue and it is amazing to me that we have an administration right now that still considers climate change to be a hoax, who is not sure about whether it is man-made. We have got to rally the American people and, economically, I happen to believe Margaret, that when you move to energy efficiency and sustainable energy, you're going to create millions of decent-paying jobs and lessen the costs of the damage that climate change will do to our country and around the world. But this is not-- this is not an issue where we have you know, where we can debate. The reality is real. The scientific community has made it one hundred percent clear that this is a major crisis facing this country and our planet. And we have got to be bold and aggressive in standing up to the greed--


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: --of the fossil fuel industry, who are more concerned about short-term profits than the planet we're leaving our kids and our grandchildren.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, one of the foreign policy issues you do talk about in your book is your call for pulling back any kind of U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. There is a resolution you have backed along with Republican Mike Lee. Do you see, given the scrutiny in the wake of the killing of-- of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi new support for this bill?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: I do. When we brought this up, I think it was in March we ended up with forty-four votes--only five Republicans. I think we now have a chance to get a majority of the United States Senate. I think people are looking at the horrific humanitarian disaster now taking place in Yemen. There was a recent report that over the last number of years some seventy-five thousand children have died of starvation. This is a country dealing with chol- cholera. A country dealing with a terrible level of famine. So you got that issue. You got the issue that this war was never authorized by the United States Congress in violation of our constitution. And you got the Khashoggi incident which says that we have a Saudi government led by a despotic ruler who killed a political opponent in cold blood. Add that all together. I think the American people and Congress are now saying let us end the support-- our support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You are calling for Democrats, who are now going to be in the majority in the House, to launch a kind of new contract with America and some of the things you put out there you're saying Democrats should call for raising the minimum wage, make public universities tuition free, expand Social Security, a number of other things. Is this a legislative agenda or a platform for a presidential run for you?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: It's a legislative agenda, Margaret. You know it's interesting you-- you pick up on-- on what I wrote in a Washington Post op-ed and that is back in 1994 Newt Gingrich, who I disagree with on everything really had a bold right wing agenda, and I think we should learn from that. This is what the American people want. And we should do it. They want to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, which I think is fifteen bucks an hour. They want pay equity for women. Poll after poll shows that the American people understand that our current dysfunctional health care system needs fundamental change and that means Medicare for all single payer system. The American people understand that in a highly competitive global economy we have got to make public colleges and universities tuition free. We have got to deal with climate change as we just discussed. We have got to deal with a broken criminal justice system with immigration reform. All of these issues are, in fact, what the American people want. And the question is whether Congress has the guts to stand up to the big money interests who want more tax breaks for the rich, who want to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Or we stand up for the shrinking middle class and we demand a government that represents all of us and legislation which represents the working families of this country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, look forward to talking to you about that at another time and also the prospects for 2020. But we have to leave it there. We'll be back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Tomorrow, the U.S. is hoping to return to Mars for the first time in six years. We will have details on that extraordinary InSight mission, the attempt to land on the Red Planet after nearly three-hundred-million-mile journey. That's ahead on FACE THE NATION. We'll speak with NASA official Steven Clarke about that risky touchdown.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. A holiday never stops the news here in Washington, even if you hope it does. And that was as true as ever this week. So, we'd like to welcome our panel now for some political analysis. Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor at the National Review and a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. Susan Page is the Washington bureau chief at USA Today. Jamelle Bouie is the chief political correspondent for Slate and a CBS News political analyst. And Matt Viser is a national political reporter for the Washington Post. Good to have you all here at the table. Where do we start? A Thanksgiving Day subpoena for Jim Comey. We thought some of these public hearings might be over it appears based on what Congressman Gowdy said on our air that at least the public forum might be. Susan, what does this mean for the case, the special counsel and does the American public need more public hearings on this?

SUSAN PAGE (USA Today/@SusanPage): When they think about James Comey and Loret-- Loretta Lynch, they must have thought they were out of the woods when it came to subpoenas from the House Judiciary Committee that Democrats are taking over within weeks. It is hard I think to see this as anything but a stunt as Republicans are about to give up power involuntarily in the House a final effort. It is hard-- it is hard to see this as a really serious effort to conclude some kind of meaningful investigation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it-- it was interesting to hear what seemed like an offer, maybe not an official one to have this deposition be on tape and then perhaps edited and released. We'll see if that happens. I want to ask you, Ramesh, about something that happened today that isn't necessarily on the domestic front, but does play into U.S. policy, which is, our closest ally just finalized its divorce from the EU, the U.K. is exiting in the months ahead. This has been really rough for Theresa May, the prime minister. What do you think this signals though? Is this just a one-off? Is this more indicative of the kind of forces we're seeing in the world today beyond the U.S. where institutions are being rattled a bit?

RAMESH PONNURU (National Review/@RameshPonnuru) I think it's got enormous significance on a number of fronts. For one thing, Britain's departure from the EU and even, you know, if this deal is modified it, we're not, it's not going to have the say it once had in the European Union, means the European Union is going to have more tendency to be centralized, more tendency to be dominated by countries that aren't as close to us as Britain as-- is-- as Britain is. It has implications for whether Britain can conduct a trade agreement with us. That was discussed a lot in the run up to Brexit, and after Brexit disagreement seems to tie Britain's hands and its ability to do that. And more generally there's the question of its effect on British politics. If you have demoralized Tory party, does it help Jeremy Corbyn, eventually, become prime minister, and it is just one sign of the convulsions that nationalism is causing on politics around the entire globe.

MARGARET BRENNAN: America's in-- in search of a new best friend inside the E.U. as-- in some-- in some ways--is that Ireland, is that France, who will that be. But turning back to home, I want to talk about this public spat in some ways, really unusual between the Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and the President over whether the courts are being politicized. Jamelle, what did you make of the President's public statement here?

JAMELLE BOUIE (Slate/@jbouie): It's-- it's a little strange to see the President antagonize the chief justice's way just after getting a justice on to the court. I think that if the President wanted to ensure that he'd have good relations as cases relevant to his presidency reach the court, he wouldn't have done this. I can see why John Roberts has decided to push back and leave very near future there will likely be many five, four decisions with the conservative majority. And creating this sort of political distance between him and the President, I think, he-- he thinks may provide legitimacy to those decisions--


JAMELLE BOUIE: --when they happen. One thing I think is-- we're saying is that I'm not sure that the President is necessarily wrong here as Representative Gowdy said in-- in his interview that there is sort of an, at least, informal recognition that partisan affiliation has some weight on how justices and judges make their decisions. There is a reason, right, why Republican voters were willing to look past so much of what Trump did just to get him in office so he could nominate judges for the federal court system. And so I think there's this way. It's been set in a variety of circumstances and context how one thing about Trump, as he sort of strips the pretense from a lot in American politics. I do think this is a situation where he is kind of stripping the pretense from American politics and saying plainly that, "Look, the Justice of the United States', well, independent, also is inevitably tinged by partisanship and ideology." And he doesn't like the fact that that means that there are judges appointed by President he opposes, who will likely be an obstacle to his political agenda.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ramesh, do you agree with that, some conservatives have been uncomfortable with his references to the judiciary?

RAMESH PONNURU: So I'm going to join the Jamelle Bouie, Trey Gowdy, Donald Trump coalition.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Wow. I don't think I never--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --thought that horizon is possible. But--

RAMESH PONNURU: Look, I-- I think that Roberts' comment-- Chief Justice Roberts' comment about they're not being Obama judges or Trump judges was more aspirational than descriptive, let's say. But I think the-- the part of what's going on here is that the Trump administration has a very bad record in court. It has been handed a lot of defeats in court. And one thing that we should keep in mind is it's not all been Democratic appointees to the bench--


RAMESH PONNURU: --that have handed them those defeats. So, for example, the question of Jim Acosta's press pass--


RAMESH PONNURU: --the administration lost that in court and that was a judge, the Trump himself had appointed Timothy Kelly, who was the District court judge. So what he is saying is true, but I don't think it quite gets to the underlying problem, which is the judiciary as a branch has not been especially tolerant of the kind of on-the-fly improvisational, sort of, whim-driven policy making we're seeing from this administration.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Matt, you've been looking at some of the races still going on post-midterms. I know you're headed down to Mississippi. Is that right?

MATT VISER (The Washington Post/@mviser): Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Mississippi has been sort of a fascinating race here. The-- the final one, we think of the midterms that hasn't been decided and-- and it's definitely taken a-- a racial tinge to it on-- in the wake of Cindy Hyde-Smith's comments about being willing to sit on the front row of a-- of a public hanging. And, you know, she is running against the first man seeking to become the first black senator since reconstruction there, so.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the President is endorsing her in a tweet today and will be at a rally--

MATT VISER: He's got--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --in a week to come.

MATT VISER: He's got two rallies on Tuesday or-- sorry, tomorrow on Monday, the eve of the election, which is-- is-- her hope is that he pulls her over-- over the edge, you know, and-- and the President of the United States having to go to a race in Mississippi for two rallies on the eve of the election just shows you how-- how close this could be and-- and how worried Republicans may be.

SUSAN PAGE: You-- you wouldn't think it would be hard for a Republican to win the Senate race in-- in Mississippi, but-- but this has been a-- a different-- a different kind of race and we've seen such different strategies by African-American candidates in the South in the Florida and Georgia governor's races and now in this Senate race because there has been a feeling in Georgia in Florida that a African-American candidate can win a statewide race by appealing to African-American voters not trying to appeal to moderate whites in the-- in the middle which has been kind of the traditional prescription so this will be a test about whether anything has really changed.

JAMELLE BOUIE: Interesting.

MATT VISER: And there's a final test, I mean, you know, black voters were-- were very excited about Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams. They came close, closer than a lot of people thought, but-- but ended up losing. So this is the sort of the-- that last one.

JAMELLE BOUIE: What's interesting is that, in my guess, people probably have to take the more traditional path and the thing about Georgia and Florida as well. You do have large black populations, you also have a large and growing population of liberal college-educated ways and so that-- that helps you able to play a strategy that's more tailored to black voters because you can kind of bring those voters along. Mississippi doesn't have that and, in fact, it's a very inelastic white population that votes routinely ninety ten, ninety-five five for Republican candidates. And so even I think it's black population around forty, forty-four percent. It's very high. It's the highest in the country, but that inelasticity in the white vote makes ESPYs odds really hard even if the gap between a-- a loss and a win, there's like very narrow, like, it's maybe a couple of points but it's so inelastic it's difficult.

MATT VISER: And ESPYs people are-- they have told me that they-- they just need to get twenty-five to thirty percent of the white vote which tells you how, you know-- you know, different strategies are working here. If they can get the black voters out in-- in big numbers--


MATT VISER: --which is hard, you know, which is a big task in a-- in a runoff election that is taking place five days after Thanksgiving. Although this race has been getting a lot of attention that--


MATT VISER: --people are motive-- mobilized and lines are long outside the polling places already for absentee ballots.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we're going to take a quick break. We have more to talk about on the other side of it. So stay with us. We'll have more from our panel.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back with more from our panel. I want to ask you, Ramesh, you've seen-- it's rare to hear Bernie Sanders and President Trump on the same side of an issue. Generally, both are for this effort to overhaul criminal justice. There is a bill right now that is causing some sort of internecine fighting within the Republican Party. Will we actually see this move forward in the lame duck?

RAMESH PONNURU: You know it's possible one of the rare areas where we've seen bipartisan work in the entire country really has been criminal justice reform. There have been state legislatures where you've had Republicans and Democrats. Republican governors, Democratic governors coming together on this issue. President Trump I would say is the sort of an unlikely advocate of criminal justice reform. It doesn't really fit with a lot of the other things that President Trump is talking about. But his advocacy of it and his ditching of Jeff Sessions who, as an attorney general, was dead set against this I think has really increased the chance it's going to happen.

JAMELLE BOUIE: I'm not sure I would refer to the President's an advocate, though. I-- I-- I did not see this as President Trump is obsessed with wins but getting legislative wins and so criminal justice bill, even if it doesn't run counter not just to his-- not choice of Jeff Sessions for the here, in general, but kind of like the entire tenure of his rhetoric for the past three years--runs counter to criminal justice reform, a bill passing would count as a legislative win. And I think he would tout it and I don't think he particularly cares about the content of that win.

RAMESH PONNURU: He hasn't had a lot of them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, there-- and there's-- and there's-- to be fair, there's no pledge that this will go to a vote in the lame duck. Leader McConnell has said they're still reviewing whether that is possible. But it is an interesting thing to see floated at this point. Will we see, Susan, anything substantial move forward during the lame duck?

SUSAN PAGE: Well, we think-- we hope they fund the government because then we won't have a shutdown that would be one thing. You know, I think the most interesting thing that where we might see some kind of revolt by Repub-- Republicans on the Hill is over the Khashoggi killing--


SUSAN PAGE: --and the-- the President's decision, apparently, not to punish the Saudis in a serious way for what are not the-- the-- the-- not to punish the crown prince for what intelligence agencies have concluded was his involvement, his ordering of the murder of a Washington Post journalist. And we've-- we've seen just today Senator Mike Lee, a Republican saying intelligence indicates this wasn't a feeling, it was a finding. We saw Senator Joni Ernst, also a Republican, saying if that's the case something should happen, consequences should follow. On that issue will Senate Republicans be willing to buck the President who is quite isolated both in American politics and international politics with his stance on this issue?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, can he get-- can they get any kind of veto-proof majority that would in some way hit the crown prince without severing or hurting the relationship with Saudi Arabia, a key ally?

SUSAN PAGE: Well, you probably need to make a choice somewhere what your priority is there and President Trump has made a decision that he cares more about the relationship with Saudi Arabia, do others disagree strongly enough to confront him on that? And I don't think we know the answer to that question. Should it be unlikely, if not, the trade-- Republican tradition on Capitol Hill to stand up to President Trump? But I wonder about this issue which has really kind of caught the concern I think of a lot of people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And-- and there will be conversation about the war in Yemen and U.S. support for that in some way, any kind of conversation as Bernie Sanders said he had that bill, a resolution he's floating. But I want to ask you, Matt, you listened to Senator Sanders, you've been looking at 2020 candidates. Does he talk like one to you?

MATT VISER: The-- the-- the fact that he's coming out with a platform for House Democrats, you know-- you know, to-- to sort of live by and-- and do and-- and trying to assert himself as a leader in-- in the party heading into 2020. It strikes me as yes. Like, he-- he-- he does seem very much like a-- a candidate. The difference this time for-- for Bernie Sanders and everybody, frankly, is the crowded field that he is going to face. You know against Hillary Clinton, there-- was-- there was just, you know, a-- a binary choice between two people. This time it's not going to be that way. It's going to be the same problems that Republicans had in 2016, where you couldn't-- you had to have two debates, you know, an undercard debate and a main debate because there are so many candidates. But I do think these next few weeks are-- are vitally important for every candidate thinking about running. We'll probably start to see announcements coming very shortly in the early part of next year so that people can begin their fundraising and try to post a big number in that first quarter is going to be an important distinction point. But the Democratic Party has-- has a lot of issues to sort out and-- and it's going to be a crowded field.

JAMELLE BOUIE: What's so interesting about the midterm results and really the entire midterm election story is I think it sends important signals about what Democratic primary voters might be looking for in a candidate.


JAMELLE BOUIE: I think that Senator Sanders is running in 2020, not just for 2020, that he will-- he has a good chance of doing well but some of the other people voted-- former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Sherrod-- Sherrod Brown, may find themselves at somewhat of a disadvantage because it seems what Democratic primary voters are looking for are women candidates and candidates of color. Just down the board, Democratic primary voters over the last year, if it had a choice if they-- if they could choose either a woman candidate or a non-white candidate, and a white guy, they've almost always taken the other two, one of the other two. And that for me seems to suggest that as we approach 2020, you can kind of divide up the field and rate accordingly based off of identity, really, candidates who represent diversity who may be historic first, have I think an advantage or-- and on-paper advantage over those that don't.

SUSAN PAGE: But Democrats want somebody new, right?

JAMELLE BOUIE: Right. Right.

SUSAN PAGE: Like Democrats usually do. And so that might argue for Beto O'Rourke who'd be a white man.


SUSAN PAGE: I mean there's some energy behind him but I do think there is zero possibility that the Democratic ticket in 2020 will be two white men.

JAMELLE BOUIE: Oh, absolutely.

RAMESH PONNURU: Senator Sanders also has another problem going into 2020, which is that Hillary Clinton was a very useful foil for him as she was for Donald Trump. The contrast made-- the idealism of his candidacy looked better. He's going to have a bunch-- not just a lot of candidates in the field but a lot of candidates who sound a little bit more like him--


RAMESH PONNURU: --who are trying to bottle what he had in 2016, and use it for themselves. That's not a problem he had last time.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And in this book that Senator Sanders was on to talk about, he in many ways, describes winning-- it's not actually winning the election but enforcing the platform of the Democratic Party more towards the progressive agenda that he, in many ways, represents. Is there more of a progressive party now? Did he win, Susan?

SUSAN PAGE: He did win.



SUSAN PAGE: I think he did win. If you look at Medicare for all, which means different things to different candidates, that is now a centrist Democratic position to have. So I think that whatever happens with Senator Sanders, he's had a big effect. We're talking more about Senator Sanders than we are about Hillary Clinton.

MATT VISER: When you think about the fundraising aspect of it, too, where Bernie Sanders kept touting the small-dollar donations, I think that is going to be the vehicle for which a lot of candidates run. It's what Beto O'Rourke did successfully in Texas, which was forego-- a corporate PAC money and raised money from a lot of people in small-dollar amounts. And I-- I think that's another, you know, sort of legacy of Bernie Sanders in-- in moving the party a little bit more in that direction.

JAMELLE BOUIE: One illustration of how I think Sanders has moved the party left is that centrist members of the incoming House class have positions like expand Medicaid, have a public option, positions that during 2000 and 2010 were the progressive-- the-- the House Progressive Caucus positions in health care were what are now the centrist positions in the Democratic Party. And that alone, that right there tells the story.

RAMESH PONNURU: Don't look at the minimum wage.


RAMESH PONNURU: First, Obama term, they wanted to raise it to nine dollars. It's now-- fifteen dollars is now the Democratic bid.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're going to have to leave it there. More to talk about, of course, in the future with all of you. But we're going to be in a commercial break and on your airwaves in a moment.


MAN: Three, two, zero.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This video was shot last May when NASA launched its eight-hundred-and-thirty-million-dollar InSight mission with the goal of landing on Mars. Tomorrow the world will be watching to see if the spacecraft can make it through the perilous seven minutes of terror and land on the surface of the Red Planet. Here to tell us about what we might learn from the mission is NASA's Steven Clarke, who heads the agency's exploration efforts. Welcome to FACE THE NATION.

STEVEN CLARKE (NASA Deputy Associate Administrator/NASA's Exploration Campaign): Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What are the seven minutes of terror?

STEVEN CLARKE: Well, the seven minutes of terror are the time it takes from when the actual probe enters the Mars' atmosphere until it lands. And the reason it's called the seven minutes of terror is because it's very hard to land on Mars. In fact, only forty percent of all landing attempts have been successful.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Only forty percent have actually made it and the U.S. is still the only country that has done this.

STEVEN CLARKE: That's correct. Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So why are we spending the money to do this? What exactly do you think is going to be learned?

STEVEN CLARKE: We're continuing to-- to investigate Mars because Mars was formed at the same time as the Earth, and the Moon. And the more we learn about our neighboring planets, it helps us learn how the Earth evolved. In fact, we know that Mars had water on the surface and had an atmosphere somewhat similar to Earth millions and millions of years ago. But for some reason, Mars developed differently and we were trying to find out why.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This is the InSight probe. This is not manned. How close are we to putting humans on Mars?

STEVEN CLARKE: Well, we continue to perfect landing techniques using robotic landers on Mars. And certainly we're going to be using that technology to develop landers to return to the Moon with humans first. And as we learn more on how to do that we're going to then apply it to Mars for our first human exploration of Mars after we've established our presence on the Moon in a more permanent basis than we have in the past as, you know, with Apollo we landed six times. We are going to return this time and actually learn to live off the planet, learn-- learn our lessons on the Moon which is a lot closer than Mars. And then when we're ready, we will take humans to Mars which is much longer journey.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How much-- how many years out are we from that (INDISTINCT)?

STEVEN CLARKE: We're looking at-- for the Moon, we'd like to return humans in the late 2020s. Certainly, we will continue to work through our technology development and-- and see how long that takes and we're looking at taking humans to Mars sometime in the 2030s.



MARGARET BRENNAN: So NASA is one of the agencies that signed off on this climate report that came out last week.


MARGARET BRENNAN: There's been a lot of controversy around it, some questions about politics, but you're just-- you're a scientist. You look at data. How do Americans understand this warning?

STEVEN CLARKE: Well, NASA is one of thirteen agencies that contributes to that climate report. And so we continue to acquire data with all of our Earth orbiting satellites, we provide that data to a wide range of researchers who develop their findings and so forth like that. And we've seen through these climate reports that the climate is changing. And it's good that we know how it's changing so that we can better prepare for those more-- what I'd call severe changes that we've seen through the weather. But we'll continue to provide rich data for the researchers to come up with their findings, which will then help government, really, globally prepare for various weather scenarios and-- and how the climate continues to change.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And does learning more about these other planets, like Mars help in any way solve the challenges that you're seeing on this planet?

STEVEN CLARKE: It's-- it certainly can. And that's why we continue to explore. As we understand better how these worlds formed and why they went through the various evolutions like they did, it can unlock some of the-- the mysteries that we have here on Earth, that we could potentially apply here and-- and better prepare certainly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So understanding how Mars was formed could potentially help us understand how to do what here on Earth?

STEVEN CLARKE: Well, as we learn more about why the atmosphere changed and how it thinned with Mars, and if we can better understand the processes that caused that, then if we can apply that to Earth and see if there are any similarities, then we may be able to determine ways to-- to maybe even help prevent those things from happening.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's fascinating.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we'll be watching tomorrow, the landing around 3:00 PM Eastern.

STEVEN CLARKE: 3:00 PM Eastern.

MARGARET BRENNAN: 12:00 PM Pacific. We will be watching.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Good luck with those seven minutes of terror.

STEVEN CLARKE: Oh, thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. We hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. And for those traveling home today, be safe. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan. 

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