Full transcript: "Face the Nation" on September 2, 2018

9/2: Face The Nation

Last Updated Sep 2, 2018 3:23 PM EDT

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MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, September 2nd. I'm Margaret Brennan. And this is FACE THE NATION.

Saturday's sendoff for John McCain capped an emotional week of tributes from family--

MEGHAN MCCAIN: My father was a great man. He was a great warrior. He was a great American. I admired him for all of these things, but I love him because he was a great father.


JOE LIEBERMAN: There's a special satisfaction that comes from serving a cause greater than yourself. I heard John say those words hundreds of times, but for him we know they were not just words in a speech, they were the creed that he lived by.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --and political foes--

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What better way to get a last laugh than to make George and I say nice things about him to a national audience.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Although McCain's biggest political antagonist was not in attendance, daughter Meghan sent some straight talk directly towards him.

MEGHAN MCCAIN: The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What's next for politics after McCain's passing? We'll talk with Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich. Plus, a conversation with McCain friend and Senate colleague John Kerry about his new book, Every Day Is Extra, reflections on his service to the country as a democratic nominee in 2004 and President Obama's Secretary of State.

All that, plus, plenty of political analysis coming up on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. Thousands turned out at Washington National Cathedral yesterday to honor John McCain. Those who eulogized him rebuked the politics of today's political climate and remembered McCain as one who aspired to do better.

MEGHAN MCCAIN: We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who lived lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty. Trafficking in bombast and insult and phony controversies and manufactured outrage. It's a politics that pretends to be brave and tough but in fact is born of fear. John called on us to be bigger than that. He called on us to be better than that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: One of the attendees at Saturday's memorial service for John McCain here in Washington was Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich. He joins me here. Thank you for coming in. I know you were there at the memorial service. Something that Senator McCain thought through, he planned--

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH (R-Ohio/@JohnKasich): Absolutely. Unbelievable.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --he orchestrated every little bit of it. What do you think his message was?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: Come together. Have guts. Stand up. You know, I mean, that's the thing about John. John was so comfortable with himself. Leaders walk a lonely road. And John did not like people that did this-- put their finger in the air and get the wind. He was-- he was so comfortable with himself. And it really didn't matter to him who he was going to have to take on or what cause he was going to go for. If he felt it in his bones, in his heart, and his soul then he went forward and I think that was the message.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Meghan McCain, his daughter, delivered a really moving--

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: She made me cry.

MARGARET BRENNAN: She made you cry.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: She made me cry for two reasons. One was the deep love she had for her father. And, you know, the other thing that made me cry? The deep love that sometimes girls have for their daddies. And I've got two little girls that are-- they're not little anymore. They're in college. And I---- it just brought everything home. She was-- she was just incredible. And--

MARGARET BRENNAN: She's her father's daughter. She was strong in her words.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: Well, this-- yes, yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And it was clear who she was speaking about.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: John McCain, no matter what position he took always figured out a way to build a bridge. And now we have a leader who is either unable or unwilling to unite the country and at the same time to be able to use this-- the strength, the strength of America, whether it's the economic, whether it's the military, or the political strength to make the world a better place. To use our leadership to raise the bar to get to a better place in the world and that-- these are the things that frustrated John that we were not unified.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there another Republican like John McCain? I mean-- because many of your fellow Republicans, many of them sitting there at that service would say yes the President may be a flawed individual but he is a flawed vessel for an agenda that we like. Whether it's tax reform or getting more conservative judges on courts throughout the country including the Supreme Court.


MARGARET BRENNAN: So it's all excusable. It's a transaction.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: Yeah. But-- but it is not a transaction and you know today we look for politicians that not only understand the issues but also can engage in a bit of poetry, can bring us together. So--


GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: Well, right. I don't-- I don't think that's the time to project who that is. But I will tell you family separation is not American value at the border. It isn't. The idea we're going to deport these people that's-- that's not to me American value. Ringing up massive debt. We like the tax cut. But there was no tax reform. It was a problem. And trying to strip health care away from twenty million Americans. It seems as though we have been backing a lot of people into a corner using our power, our economic power to get what we want.


GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: And in the short run we might win. But think about somebody who's powerful, somebody who's rich who forces you to do things that you bitterly resent. There are better ways to get it done without having to use your power to extract what you want. Sometimes you've got to be tough as nails. McCain was. I am. But at the end most of the time it's persuasion, it's-- it's seeking the better angels in life that allow us to be more successful than just pounding on people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As John McCain's longtime aide Mark Salter said sometimes he questions do you need to-- to kill the party of Trump to save the party of Lincoln. Is that where we are?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: We're in a tug of war and we understand-- I understand the difficulties that people have. But the party is worth fighting for.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And yet this week we saw some primaries in-- in Florida, in Arizona where those running on the Republican ticket seem to have to pass a test-- a loyalty test to-- to Trumpism. And that kind of contradicts some of the Conservative party you're describing.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: Unfortunately, our party is shrinking. We're-- we're now down to about twenty-five percent. It's all becoming like a remnant. Parties go through this. But the party has shrunk and in my state and in my community and in my district we had a congressional race that the Republican who took my place was able to win by 17 points. Just a couple of weeks ago he won by the skin of his teeth. And I talked to him the other day. I'm proud of him. He's saying that the tariffs are a bad idea. He's also beginning to say-- you know what he said, he said turn off the television, don't listen to all the talk television and get let us get together as Americans. I was proud of him.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You endorsed him, President Trump endorsed him--



GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: I did because I work with him in the legislature and I saw him during the campaign articulate some views that I hope was-- were going to be independent. But there are Republicans I'm not campaigning for. They're just-- I just won't do it because if you're a divider and if you can't see the fact that we need to unify people then I can't be for you. I mean, nothing personal. I just can't help you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Will you campaign for Balderson in November, when he has to--

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: I don't think it'll be a problem. I mean he's off to a good start and the ra-- and the district is so overwhelmingly Republican. That was what's so shocking about the closeness of the race. He's going to be fine.


GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: But there are so many other places where Democrats will use their resources and by the way they need to get their act together. You know, we spend so much time talking about how lost the Republicans are. But you think about the Democratic Party moving farther and farther to the left. That's not-- our country is center right or center left. It's not on the extremes. Your political party shouldn't matter so much. Vote for the person.

MARGARET BRENNAN: If you were to run yourself in 2020, as many are saying you might, you would still run as a Republican? Not as an independent. Not as another voice out there.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: I-- I-- I'm a Republican.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The party is worth saving, you're saying?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: Well, I'm going to do my level best. But at the end I worry about my country. I worry about my country being a great leader in the world, not more conflict which can lead to-- let's not even go there. I want my country where the people that live in this country, whoever they are, to feel as though they have a hope, they're respected and they can be successful. That to me is what it is really all about.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Last question. You knelt in front of John McCain's coffin at the Capitol. What were you thinking?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH: Well, I had a word with John. I said "John, you remember I called you when you were sick and I asked you if you were okay with the big guy? And I said-- said John, I'll see you up there someday. Keep a place open for me, would you?" Then I got up and-- and left.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, thank you.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Also among those who mourned John McCain yesterday, his old friend former Senate colleague John Kerry. We spoke with him earlier this summer prior to McCain's death about what Kerry hoped to do in his new book Every Day is Extra.

(Begin VT)

JOHN KERRY (Former Secretary of State/@johnkerry/Every Day is Extra): You work to implement our democracy by reaching out across the aisle, by building relationships, by believing in the better angels of American value system. And I think John McCain did that. I did that, others have done that. But right now we have a culture divide that has been accentuated by political so-called leaders. And what they're doing is they're operating in a fact-less world. And my book, I think, is a-- is a display of the ways in which you challenge those who would try to tear it apart and not deal with facts and how you in fact can hold the system accountable and get back-- back to the fact-based democracy we rely on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you going to be hitting the campaign trail?

JOHN KERRY: You bet I am. I think that's the most important work we can do right now is trying to elect people on a national basis and--


JOHN KERRY: --and restore the leadership that the country needs.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --how do you define what Democrats stand for these days?

JOHN KERRY: I-- I think each Democratic candidate is going to define it as they go out and speak to people in their districts, and out of that I-- I believe will come the future consensus that's necessary to take a party as a whole to a better place.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it's a party in crisis.

JOHN KERRY: Well-- I'll probably get smacked for this. But, you know, what I learned running for President is that you don't have a party per se where you have adherence to a strict platform et cetera. You have an amalgamation. You have a group of people who call themselves Democrats, but they speak with different nuances and different approaches to various aspects of political choices--life.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you going to run in 2020?

JOHN KERRY: I'm really not thinking about it. Talking about 2020 right now is a total distraction and waste of time. What we need to do is focus on 2018.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I'm going ask you that same question sometime after November.

JOHN KERRY: If you catch me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: If I catch you. You mentioned running in 2004 and you write a lot about it and some detail you hadn't actually made public before, some of the difficulties along the way.

JOHN KERRY: Yeah. There's a lot of-- I've never said anything much about it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you regret not fighting back harder against the Swift Boat attack ads?

JOHN KERRY: I do regret that-- and I say this in the book. I'm very clear, and I take responsibility for it. It is my-- it's my ultimate decision. I'm responsible for it not having happened. But, yes, I believe it was vital particularly in the last days of the campaign, to be addressing advertisements that were such a grotesque distortion of the reality of what happened in the rivers of Vietnam.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you regret picking John Edwards as your vice presidential candidate?

JOHN KERRY: I write in the book about the qualities that you are looking for when you choose a vice president. I think when you articulate those qualities and then you measure what took place against the qualities that I very much lay out there that you're looking for, it-- it didn't measure up. It-- it-- it wasn't what we had hoped for. So, there was some disappointment in that.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: When we come back, we'll talk to former Secretary of State John Kerry about his policy differences with the man he served under, President Barack Obama.


MARGARET BRENNAN: John Kerry served as President Obama's Secretary of State in his second administration and the two men didn't always agree on foreign policy especially when it came to Syria.

(Begin VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about another key relationship: Barack Obama. Specifically you said, "I never succeeded in persuading him to give me the tool I wanted most: greater leverage."

JOHN KERRY: Correct.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you mean?

JOHN KERRY: Well, from the moment I was nominated and asked, "What about Syria?" I said we have to change Assad's calculation. And throughout the four years I was secretary of state, privileged to be so, I always raised the issue in the meetings we had about how we needed to change that calculation. I particularly believed that after Assad had been violating ceasefires. It was clear he needed to be taught a lesson. He needed to know that we were going to hold him accountable. And I raised that directly with the Russians, and I put several ideas on the table. The President was not persuaded by my argument. I believed that we had several options we could have done at very low risk to be able to make it clear to Assad that when we had a ceasefire and when he said he was going to live by it, he had to live by it. And I thought we should have done that. And as I--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Was he too risk averse?

JOHN KERRY: As I say in the book, my job and the job of anybody in a cabinet is to put an idea in front of the President, to argue the idea. The President is the decider. And there is no clarity by which I can say to you I was a hundred percent right or the President was a hundred percent wrong or vice versa. Those are the judgments that are made by a President.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But do you think he was too risk averse?

JOHN KERRY: No, I think he had an attitude about Syria and a judgment about Syria. And he had a feeling about where that might take him if he made some of the decisions that I and others proffered.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you write about this in detail. It's an entire chapter in the book--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --because you, to be very frank, were hung out to dry here because you went on television--

JOHN KERRY: I don't write that. I don't say I was hung out to dry and you know that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: No, that's my characterization. I know that.

JOHN KERRY: You're characterizing my--

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm characterizing your retelling though, where you went out and you made this prosecutorial--

JOHN KERRY: What I write about is the degree--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --very careful argument about the chemical weapons attacks.

JOHN KERRY: Correct. And what I write about is we paid a price for the way it played out without the red line being enforced by the bombing. But we got the chemical weapons out which was the objective. And did it cost us?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Even though there have been chemical weapons attacks since then.

JOHN KERRY: Did it-- we knew there were precursor chemicals and-- and we knew that there was chlorine, which when mixed they still had ability. Those aren't declared. That's just the vagary of the-- system by which they measure--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But there have been sarin gas attacks since then, so--

JOHN KERRY: --chemical weapons. Yes. That is correct.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --under the Trump administration.

JOHN KERRY: That's absolutely correct. And I supported President Trump's response to those partially. I-- I-- I supported the use of force, but I don't support just a one-off where you drop a few bombs and there's no follow-up diplomacy and no additional effort to try to use the leverage you get out of doing that. I thought that the President should have done that, President Trump should have done that. And--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You thought President Obama should have done that, too.

JOHN KERRY: Yes. That's correct.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You were sent around the world to rally support for other countries to stand with the United States to say that this red line on use of chemical weapons needed to be enforced. How difficult was that for you given that the President blinked? He decided not to go through with those military strikes.

JOHN KERRY: Congress was clearly not going to give him the authority that he wanted.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you thought that the President could have gone ahead with those strikes.

JOHN KERRY: I did. Yes, I did. I did.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You wrote in the book-- you write about being surprised when he called you and said, "I'm going to Congress."

JOHN KERRY: I was surprised. I thought we were going to go forward. I thought that weekend was the weekend. I expected the phone call to be telling me that he had decided we were striking that night or whatever was going to happen, and it wasn't. My job was to then affect the President's policy. And I did the best I could in going to Congress and arguing the case. But I do write that we paid a price for that.


JOHN KERRY: There's no question about that. We paid a price. And-- and all the explanations and everything else doesn't change the perception. And perceptions sometimes are very telling in diplomacy and politics.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You-- you paid a price. You mean, the red line moment has come to for many critics of President Obama--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --define his foreign policy and define it as weak, as not backing up a threat.

JOHN KERRY: For many people that's exactly what I ran into. When I ran into that in the Middle East. It was something that I had to push back against for a long period of time. And that's why I say perceptions, but perceptions matter obviously in everything. But I don't think it's fair in terms of the President, quote, "Being weak" because the President took a lot of very tough positions and-- and did a lot of things that evidence strength and that showed a President who had a very clear moral compass as well as very clear a very clear-- a very clear set of values and principles by which he knew he could protect our country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm pressing you on this because you write in the book about thinking even now about what you called the open wounds in Syria, that you think almost every day about it.

JOHN KERRY: Well, the open wound in Syria is that maybe five hundred thousand people have now died. It's about a hundred thousand back in 2013 when the chemical weapons attack took place. It has been an ongoing atrocity, a violation of every sense of propriety, of human rights, of-- of diplomatic rectitude. I mean, you run the list of things that are at stake in Syria. It is a sad history for the international community, not just for the United States. It is the failure of the global community to hold a tyrant, a war criminal, accountable for his behavior and to have come together and tried to end the war. What-- what-- what I'm proud of is-

MARGARET BRENNAN: He's won that war now.

JOHN KERRY: What I'm proud of is that we continually tried. We never stopped trying. Even when it was tough, even when it looked bleak.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you took some heat for not stopping trying.

JOHN KERRY: Well, Yeah. We took heat right up until the end. But that's okay by me. Assad is in the driver's seat today because of what Russia and Iran, Hezbollah, have done. So, we have an open wound. Yes, a global, an international community owned open wound.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In those days, those very intense days when you were working diplomatically to try to build support to stand with the U.S. and if they were to go through with a strike. We were at that press conference in London.

JOHN KERRY: You asked the magic question, "Is there anything that Assad could do?" was your question.

MARGARET BRENNAN (September 9, 2013): Is there anything at this point that his government could do or offer that would stop an attack?

JOHN KERRY (September 9, 2013): Sure. He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over, all of it.

It turned out to be-- the way we solved a critical problem. It was done purposefully in order to put out there a notion without a formal proposal, just as an answer to your question which came at the right moment. And within an hour, I had a call from Sergey Lavrov, who said, "Let's follow up on that. We're interested in seeing if we can make that happen." There'd been a dance going back and forth, and I write about that as to whether or not they could or couldn't do it. We're interested in it or weren't in it. But after I said it publicly like that, they took that as the possible off ramp and it turned out to be the way to get it done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you regret that this is the diplomatic off ramp that you ended up with? That ultimately what you strongly believe should have happened didn't?

JOHN KERRY: No. What I regret is that there is-- that such an incredibly powerful perception gained a foothold the way it did, that had an impact on people's judgment about what the President was willing to do or not do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Not enforcing the red line.

JOHN KERRY: Correct. That's-- that's regrettable. It's regrettable for everybody. But I-- I don't regret that putting, you know, the idea on the table and I think it was a terrific outcome in the sense that we got all the declared weapons out of there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, because there have been at least two large-scale chemical attacks--

JOHN KERRY: Correct.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --in the past few years.

JOHN KERRY: Well, and during which time he's had an opportunity to reconstitute and gain a foothold and there's been no further inspection and nothing else going on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In our next half hour, we'll get some thoughts from Secretary Kerry about the current President and Mister Trump's efforts to undo the Iran nuclear deal.

(End VT)


MARGARET BRENNAN: Next week marks the unofficial kick-off of the fall campaign season and also the official kick-off of NFL football. We'll be talking about both next Sunday on FACE THE NATION.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION including our political panel. So stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We continue with our conversation with former secretary, John Kerry.

(Begin VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: You spent a tremendous amount of time working to get this deal with Iran for them to freeze their nuclear program. President Trump said it's the worst deal he's ever seen.

JOHN KERRY: Yeah. But just saying that doesn't make it that. This is the toughest agreement in terms of inspection, accountability. No country has had to do what Iran did in order to live up to this, but to just walk away while Russia, China, France, Germany, and Britain are all trying to keep this agreement in place. Only the United States walked away, only Donald Trump. His defense secretary thought he should keep it. The Secretary of State that he got rid of thought he should keep it. His intelligence people thought he should keep it. The fact is this agreement is working and now it's working without the United States.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you tried to save this deal--

JOHN KERRY: Yes, I did.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --behind the scenes.

JOHN KERRY: Well, I try--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that really angered President Trump. You were calling other foreign ministers. You even spoke with Javad Zarif--

JOHN KERRY: Well, at that point in time--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --the Iranian foreign minister.

JOHN KERRY: --the policy of the United States was still to support that agreement.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the President thought you were trying to undermine him.

JOHN KERRY: No. I was trying to have the policy of the United States of America which was part of the agreement to continue and common sense to continue. I didn't negotiate. I spoke out, and I will always exercise my right to speak out.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But President Trump would say he was elected on a platform of exiting this deal. And he went out and attacked you personally because of the phone calls you were making.

JOHN KERRY: I-- I-- I-- I don't put any stock in-- in-- in that at all.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He said, "John Kerry never walked away from the table except to be in that bicycle race where he fell and broke his leg. That's it."

JOHN KERRY: I did walk away. And we almost walked away on two or three other occasions where we thought it was necessary. So, he'd really, unfortunately-- and I say this sadly-- you know, more often than not he really just doesn't know what he's talking about. He makes things up, and he's making that up as he has other things.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Didn't you want to say something at the time? Tweet back at him, at President Trump when he attacks you?

JOHN KERRY: I haven't yet. I think America and our democracy are more thoughtful than dishonest tweets.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think President Trump's unpredictability is or can be an asset?

JOHN KERRY: I would never say no to that. But unpredictability that destroys seventy years of a-- a strongly defended message such as NATO, or unpredictability with respect to what your policy is with respect to nuclear weapons or disarmament or whatever or Russia is not a good thing. There are certain times where unpredictability invites an overreach by a country.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Our full interview with Secretary Kerry is available on our website, FaceTheNation.com. Secretary Kerry's book was published by Simon & Schuster, which we should mention is a division of CBS.

Joining us now for some political analysis, Edward Wong is a diplomatic and international correspondent for the New York Times. Salena Zito reports for The Washington Examiner, is a columnist for the New York Post and is also a CNN contributor. Margaret Talev is the senior White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, she's also a CNN political analyst. And Kelsey Snell is a congressional reporter for NPR. Welcome to FACE THE NATION. Ed, let's start off with you. Secretary Kerry there basically laying out his regrets about Syria. We know today the secretary of state now, Mike Pompeo, is warning three million people are at risk in Idlib, Syria of imminent disaster. The Pope is warning about this, the U.N. is warning about this. What is the Trump administration doing about it?

EDWARD WONG (The New York Times/@comradewong): Well, the Trump administration officials say that the various people like Pompeo, Mattis have spoken to their counterparts and to Russian officials about this. But if you look at the Trump policy, it's not that different than Obama's policy. And so far we haven't seen any action that would really push back against a large Assad military action or backed by Russians and by Iranians. And so I think that Assad won't feel a compunction to really hold back. I think Idlib province is the very last holdout of the rebels, and he's going to push ahead with whatever offensive he has lined up.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, despite the tough rhetoric against Iran the group they're backing and Assad is winning this war and the U.S. is not doing anything to stop this slaughter.

EDWARD WONG: Right. I think that we saw Trump do a symbolic action earlier in his administration, he fired the missiles on the airfield in Syria, but that didn't hold Assad back. And unless there are tougher actions on Assad and on his allies we won't see him holding back at all.

MARGARET TALEV (Bloomberg News/@margarettalev): But they have warned, right, that they're willing to do that. And Bolton sent that message very clear to--

MARGARET BRENNAN: If there's use of chemical weapons.

MARGARET TALEV: If there are use of chemical weapons, that it would be not just equal to but-- but more significant than the previous attack. But it really is in conflict with the administration's desire to get out of Syria, which they've also been trying to negotiate if possible if the Russians are willing to make commitments about Iran. So, these are two policy goals and-- and real conflict.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Now I had a former Obama administration official say to me, policy is not that different, we just felt bad about it, which is an incredibly cynical way of-- of looking at what is happening on the ground right now. Margaret, I want to ask you just right off the top, the publication you work for Bloomberg News, you just had extended sit down with President Trump.

MARGARET TALEV: It was amazing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It-- well, and-- and it sparked its own controversy the President now attacking Bloomberg for what he is claiming was leak of off the record information. Bloomberg's denied it. The reporter who printed it came from a different publication. You have not violated that off the record standard in the course of your comments I know. But what can you explain to us about what happened?

MARGARET TALEV: And I should also add the Canadian reporter also has said that without identifying who his source is, it wasn't us. So, we had an interview with the President, we had talked to the White House and said, our readers have big interest in the economy, we'd love to do this going into the Labor Day weekend. And they granted us an interview, we were supposed to go about twenty minutes, the President said he was feeling intellectually stimulated and so we were thrilled to get about doubled the time. We had forty-five, fifty minutes in the Oval Office with him and we covered, you know, the waterfront basically everything from NAFTA, to North Korea, to Jeff Sessions, and midterm politics. And on the subject of NAFTA, what he told us on the record was that maybe they get a deal with the Canadians by the next day, by Friday, maybe it would be in sort of the near future but either way he was convinced that the Canadians will come along. I have no idea how the Canadian reporter got any information that he published and because we honor off the record agreements, I can't talk about what the President might have said off the record.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But to be clear, you have a transcript of the full conversation and the White House has a transcript of the full interview.


MARGARET BRENNAN: So, those are the two places where record exists.


MARGARET BRENNAN: The specific place that the President confirmed these off the record comments, because he tweeted about them, the specific area was about NAFTA.

MARGARET TALEV: That's right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Policy-wise, where are we with that? Because just yesterday the President let off a flurry of tweets saying he might, after all, withdraw from the agreement that his administration says he had intended to sign on to again.

MARGARET TALEV: Yeah. The President and the White House feel and say that they feel that they have the leverage over Canada ultimately going into this. But, as you know, they've set off sort of this thirty-day time clock because of the Mexican president, Mister Pena Nieto's kind of expiration date in office and they are trying to pressure Canada into signing on now to a trilateral pact or else forcing it into two pieces. And so, he's got basically until the end of September to get Canada on board, right, if--

KELSEY SNELL (NPR/@kelsey_snell): Well, yeah.

MARGARET TALEV: --to make it easy through Congress, to make this the happiest--

KELSEY SNELL: And not just easy, it's-- it might be impossible to add Canada later if they don't get the final text to Congress within the thirty-day window, that was started on Friday. And Congress has been telling the White House about this for some time so they're not-- this is not new information to the White House.

EDWARD WONG: What's interesting is if you look at domestic politics in Canada, there's not a lot of incentive for the Trudeau administration to really sign on immediately. I mean, they-- his sort of anti-Trump stance has been popular with the Canadian constituency and they also have a bilateral agreement on trade between Canada and the U.S. that they can fall back on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the reason this matters is because this is such key trade to so many U.S. states.



MARGARET TALEV: Corporate executives have been pressuring the President for a while now, keep this as a three-part deal whatever you call it or a lot of jobs including in the U.S. could be a risk.

SALENA ZITO (New York Post/@SalenaZito/Washington Examiner): I mean, you look at, you know, the-- the states that I cover, the Midwest-- west states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, they're all stepping back and looking at this. This is a lot of the reason why a lot of these voters came towards him and-- and how he conducts these negotiations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. We're going to take a moment and come back on the other side of this break. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we are back with more from our panel. Kelsey, let me talk to you about this sense of hope coming out of Senator McCain's memorial service. This emphasis, country over party, bipartisanship. We kind of get a test of that on Tuesday, right, when-- when Congress heads into session to start these proceedings to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Will anyone remember the sense of civility that they are being called to behave?

KELSEY SNELL: Well, we're already seeing on Twitter and from statements from organizations on both the left and the right trying to pressure people away from that bipartisanship. We're seeing particularly on the progressive side. There are a number of act-- activist groups who are saying that Democrats should simply walk out and not attend these hearings. That's not something that Democrats in the Senate really want-- they don't want that pressure because they say they take this very seriously. And the process of confirming a justice who will have a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court is something where they want to be in the room. But again, progressive activists are aghast about this argument, about not just the documents. There has been a big fight I'm sure as we've discussed in the past that they want more documents related to Kavanaugh's time in public service, particularly his time in the White House. And Democrats say they haven't received enough and Republicans say they've gone far out of their way to make sure that they produce more documents than any other justice nominee has ever-- you know, they'd ever seen. This fight is really gearing up progressives, and they feel like they are losing a battle against, you know, filling the court. And they--they-- they worry that the Trump administration is putting a stamp on not just the Supreme Court, but the lower courts for generations to come.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And talking about walking out, because basically when it comes to votes this is a fait accompli.

KELSEY SNELL: It's not--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Republicans have the-- the numbers, right?

KELSEY SNELL: It's not clear yet. There are a number of people who have not yet said how they are going to vote, Republicans like to think that it's a fait accompli, but progressives say that they could still pressure some people in the middle to change their minds if that they are-- if they're able to kind of get the public more engaged.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Mm. Salena, how much does this resonate with the voters you talked to?

SALENA ZITO: In-- well, for a lot of voters, in particular, evangelical voters, the decision-- their decision to finally vote for President Trump was on the Supreme Court. The-- the-- his ability to pick someone for-- that's conservative for the Supreme Court. He put that federalist list out when he was running, and this is where a lot of them, you know, held back-- went from their reservations to, okay, I'm going to vote for this guy. They're very energized and excited about this. This is something they're going to be watching, and-- and I will say I think one of the most vibrant things that we do in Congress is to watch the, you know, I'm old enough to remember like the Bork, you know, when-- when Bork-- Judge Bork went through the process. These are one of the most vibrant things that-- that-- that Congress does. But, you know, Trump voters are going to be watching this, they're excited about it and they're hopeful that-- that he gets across. And I think it actually helps entice some voters who are going to stay home in November because they're exhausted to maybe come back out, because they got that win that they wanted.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Margaret, is some something that the White House feels confident that they can get those votes?

MARGARET TALEV: I think on balance they do. I mean Brett Kavanaugh is well within the mainstream of conservative background judges. He's served for a long time in the Bush administration. There are a lot of documents available about him. He is someone who you could see being nominated by a different mainstream Republican president. And-- and part of the question about privilege really does go to his time inside the White House, there is a pretty long-standing pattern of privilege. Also as a side note, mister-- there is a lawyer named Bill Burck, who's getting a ton of work as he's the President Bush's lawyer as well as Don McGahn's lawyer--


MARGARET TALEV: --as well as a bunch of the lawyers for former--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Steve Bannon's lawyer, right?

MARGARET TALEV: Yes. The administration officials who may now be the target of other stuff. So, but, look, even so, it's obviously incredibly important to the President to get this done, and there are a lot of people that he's glad to be done with who will be gone also after this confirmation over those political reasons as well as the-- the prize of the court. And after all he's the President, he won an election, elections has consequences.


MARGARET TALEV: He has the power to fill spots on the Supreme Court when they come open.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Salena, I put Margaret on the-- on the hot seat at the get-to. I'm going to ask you personally as well to respond to what has been some criticism of your journalism. The Huffington Post coming out with an article specifically about you saying you didn't identify a Republican in a story specifically as Republican official and called into question a lot of your work. I'd like to give you the opportunity to respond to that.

SALENA ZITO: Sure. As you can imagine this has been an interesting week for me. It all began through a series of tweets by an anonymous troll. And as the internet goes, it just expands and expands and expands. I addressed the questions that were asked to Ashley and also I put my own personal tweet out there addressing each-- each issue that this anonymous person did. My editors have reviewed everything that I work for and all the places-- news organizations I work for and they stand behind my work and so do I.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you will be I think detailing some of this in the coming days--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --beyond this conversation here. You also, though, have-- have touched on or you-- you mentioned some of the social media outcry. There's been this outcry and some fund-raising on behalf of Republican congressman, particularly Kevin McCarthy on this idea that social media companies are censoring conservatives.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there anything to that that you have experienced?

SALENA ZITO: Sure. I had a story that I wrote for the New York Post a day or so-- a day or two after Cohen and Manafort had their, you know, lovely little legal issues come out where I went out and I-- I talked to Trump voters to see, does this change you, does this take you away? And within twenty-four-- I wrote the story, I posted it and in the morning it was gone. There was a notice that said it did not meet Facebook's community standards. Received a flurry of direct messages and-- and e-mails and so forth from people who also posted the story and said, hey, I put your story up and it's gone. It's marked as spam or again not me meeting community standards. So-- and-- and that was just a straight story. But the New York Post is considered a conservative publication, I work for two conservative news organizations along with The Washington Examiner and there is that impression that that happened.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And social media companies deny that there is censorship. Kelsey, there's going to be some hearings, though, with--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --the Twitter CEO in particular answering questions this coming week.


MARGARET BRENNAN: How much of an issue is this going to be?

KELSEY SNELL: I imagine it's going to be a huge issue. We're already seeing telegraphs from many Republican offices that they expect to talk about this very directly with the CEO. I-- I would expect, though, that this may not get as much coverage because it's going to be happening at the same time as the Kavanaugh hearing. So, I will be interested to see how-- which-- which thing breaks through on that day.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ed, we had some mixed messages coming from the Trump administration on North Korea policy. The President saying he blames China for any kind of progress being stalled right now with denuclearizing North Korea. Is there anything to that and are we stopping or are we continuing military exercises, because the defense secretary seems to be saying something slightly different than the President.

EDWARD WONG: Well, I think that we saw Trump then rebut any idea that there might be reopening military exercises that came out and said on Twitter that military exercises are still on hold right now. And I think that that will be the policy until it changes. The--

KELSEY SNELL: Well said.

EDWARD WONG: --on the trade-- on the trade war thing about China I he's--


EDWARD WONG: --basically just trying to find the reason to sort of justify the continuing trade war which doesn't seem like it'll end any time soon. When I talked to Trump administration officials, they say that China has actually been (INDISTINCT) of sanctions on North Korea, Chinese banks have not violated the sanctions. In general, those sanctions are still in place. China is abiding by them. And so I think--


EDWARD WONG: --they're looking for a reason to explain the stalling on the diplomacy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Ed, thank you very much.

We'll be back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Later today, Senator John McCain will be buried at the Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis next to his best friend, Chuck Larson, following a final private funeral at the Naval Academy Chapel. Following the burial, that will be a flyover in the missing man formation. This will mark the end of five days of events honoring the Arizona Senator. Here's a look back at the events leading up to today.

(Begin VT)

LINDSEY GRAHAM (Tuesday, Washington, DC): He taught me that honor and imperfection are always in competition. I do not cry for a perfect man. I cry for a man who had honor and always was willing to admit to his imperfection.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (Wednesday, Phoenix, AZ): We asked for an added measure of thy spirit to be with John's sweet family who have sacrificed so much for so long in sharing their loving husband and father with us for these many years.

(Choir singing, Thursday, Phoenix, AZ)

JOE BIDEN: My name is Joe Biden. I'm a Democrat. And I love John McCain. I always thought of John as a brother. We had a hell of a lot of family fights.

LARRY FITZGERALD: Many people might wonder what a young African-American kid from Minnesota and a highly decorated Vietnam War hero turned United States Senator might have in common. I'm black, he was white. I'm young, he wasn't so young. How does this unlikely pair become friends? That's just who he is. Over the several years I had the privilege of spending time with Senator McCain, sometimes it was just a visit to our practices. Other times it was him texting and saying, yo, you need to pick it up this Sunday.

REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (Friday, Washington, DC): Rarely does this glorious rotunda falls silent at this hour. On a day like this, John would usually be bounding this way or that way right through here, visitors turning to each other asking, if that's who they think it is. But in this quiet hour we are left to ponder how his life speaks to us. This is one of the bravest souls our nation has ever produced.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (Saturday, Washington, DC): That's perhaps how we honor him best by recognizing that there are some things bigger than party or ambition or money or fame or power. But there are some things that are worth risking everything for. At his best, John showed us what that means. For that, we are all deeply in his debt.

HENRY KISSINGER (Former Secretary of State): None of us will ever forget how even in his parting John has bestowed on us a much needed moment of unity and a renewed faith in the possibilities of America.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: One of his books ended with the words "...and I moved on." John has moved on. He will probably not want us to dwell on it but we are better for his presence among us. The world is smaller for his departure. And we will remember him as he was Unwavering, undimmed, unequal.

(Woman singing)

(End VT)


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thanks for watching. I hope to see you next week. For FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.