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JOHN DICKERSON: It's Sunday, September 30th. I'm John Dickerson. And this is FACE THE NATION.
Anguish, then anger took center stage on Capitol Hill in emotional testimony by Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh himself. Ford told her story of being attacked by Kavanaugh at a high school party thirty-six years ago. And what she remembered most from that night.
CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.
JOHN DICKERSON: Ford said she is one hundred percent certain Kavanaugh assaulted her. Kavanaugh said he was one hundred percent certain he did not.
BRETT KAVANAUGH: You may defeat me in the final vote, but you'll never get me to quit, never.
JOHN DICKERSON: Thursday's drama led to a head-spinning chain of events and left America split about who to believe the eleventh hour call from Republican Jeff Flake to have the FBI further investigate allegations against Kavanaugh seemed to cool tempers at first.
MAN: Will you give the FBI free rein to investigate where they see fit?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Yeah. They have free rein. They're going to do whatever they have to do.
JOHN DICKERSON: But even the scope of that investigation has become controversial. We'll tell you why. CBS News' Scott Pelley spoke with Flake and the Democrat who helped prompt his decision, Delaware's Chris Coons, for tonight's 60 MINUTES. We'll have a preview. Then we'll hear from two key senators, one a supporter of Kavanaugh, Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton. Plus, Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar. Plus, a conversation with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. And author Michael Lewis, his new book is The Fifth Risk.
All that, along with plenty of political analysis is coming up now on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. Republican leaders hope to move forward with votes in the Senate later this week on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination as soon as the FBI concludes its investigation into current credible allegations against him. We begin with a preview of tonight's 60 MINUTES. Scott Pelley spoke to six members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Republican Jeff Flake and Democrat Chris coons.
SCOTT PELLEY (60 MINUTES): I'd like to ask both of you what you made of Judge Kavanaugh's very emotional response on Friday and what it may or may not say about his judicial temperament. Does this man belong on the Supreme Court?
JEFF FLAKE (60 MINUTES): Well, when he came-- walked out, you could see him open his binder and put his paper here and we knew that he was eager to testify. And I have to say that when I heard him I heard someone who I hoped I would sound like if I had been unjustly accused. And to see his family behind him, as Chris said. And it was-- it was anger. But-- but if I were unjustly accused that's how I would feel as well. And I-- I've-- as it went on, I think his interaction with some of the members was a little too sharp. But the statement, the beginning I thought was pretty raw, but-- but in keeping with someone who had been unjustly accused.
CHRIS COONS (60 MINUTES): He-- he had exchanges with Senator Feinstein, with Senator Klobuchar, with others that I thought went over a line. He was clearly belligerent, aggressive, angry and I thought there was a tough dynamic there. As I watched him part of me thought this is a man who believes that he did nothing wrong and he is completely unjustly accused and he's being railroaded and he is furious about it. There were some lines that he delivered that were sharper, more partisan, more, this is the Clintons paying me back, this is a Democratic smear campaign that I was surprised, struck to hear from a judicial nominee. I'm not at all surprised to hear that from other colleagues in the committee or on television, but I was really struck that I thought his anger got the best of him and he made a partisan argument that would have been best left to be made for his advocates and defenders on the committee.
SCOTT PELLEY: Made you wonder about his suitability.
CHRIS COONS: In my case, yes, it made me wonder about his suitability to serve on the bench.
SCOTT PELLEY: But, Senator Flake, you identified with it you--
JEFF FLAKE: I--
SCOTT PELLEY: --you understood.
JEFF FLAKE: Well, the part that he talked about the mention of the Clintons and whatnot, I didn't like either. It-- it seemed partisan. But, boy, I had to put-- put myself in that spot. You know, I think you give a little leeway there.
JOHN DICKERSON: Scott also spoke with two Republicans on the Judiciary Committee who are strong Kavanaugh supporters, South Carolina's Lindsey Graham and Louisiana's John Kennedy.
SCOTT PELLEY: Could either of you change your minds depending on what the FBI report comes up with?
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Of course. I-- I mean, of course.
SCOTT PELLEY: Open mind?
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Absolutely. I said-- I said going into the-- the hearing, I-- I've talked to Judge Kavanaugh. I called him after this happened, the allegations came out, said, "Did you do it?" He was resolute, determined, unequivocal. But-- but--
SCOTT PELLEY: Senator Graham, you-- could you change your mind?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: My mind's made up about Brett Kavanaugh and it would take a dynamite accusation because here's the deal: Doctor Ford, I don't know what happened. But I know this: Brett denied it vigorously and everybody she named couldn't verify it, it's thirty-six years old. I don't see anything new changing.
JOHN DICKERSON: Be sure to tune in to 60 MINUTES tonight for more of Scott's interviews, 7:30 Eastern, 7:00 PM Pacific after football.
And we are joined now by Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton. Welcome, Senator. After watching the hearings, you-- you were a supporter of Brett Kavanaugh's, how did you process the new information that came out in the hearings?
SENATOR TOM COTTON (R-Arkansas/@sentomcotton): Well, John, first of, let's understand why we had to have this hearing. Miss Ford made these allegations in a confidential letter to Dianne Feinstein in July, shortly after Brett Kavanaugh was nominated. The very night he was nominated, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, said that he would do everything in his power to stop the nomination. And that's what happened. For three months, the Democrats have turned the advise and consent process into a search and destroy mission. These allegations are completely unsupported by any evidence. What evidence there is to a thirty-six-year-old claim? All support Judge Kavanaugh's denial. But the-- the Democrats have disgraced this process and the United States Senate in the orchestrated smear campaign of character assassination they have run against Judge Kavanaugh.
JOHN DICKERSON: Their argument, of course, was that Doctor Ford asked to have this held in confidentiality and that they tried to do that. And that's what it was--
SENATOR TOM COTTON: So let's-- let me-- let me talk--
JOHN DICKERSON: But I-- I actually--
SENATOR TOM COTTON: No, no, no, let me-- no, no. No, John let me talk to you about that. Let me talk to your listeners about-- or your viewers about that. There is a well-established process of confidentiality on the committee. Dianne Feinstein could have showed that letter to Chuck Grassley and the two of them, as the leaders of that committee could have shared it with the FBI who could have discreetly conducted this inquiry in July and in August without betraying Miss Ford's confidences. And they have betrayed her. They pointed her to lawyers who lied to her and did not tell her that the committee staff was willing to go to California to interview her. All that-- now all of that is water under the bridge. Those lawyers are going to have to face a DC bar investigation into the mis-- their misconduct. Dianne Feinstein and her staff is going to face an investigation for why they leaked that. All this could have been done discreetly. It happens hundreds of time-- hundreds of times every year in the Judiciary Committee--
JOHN DICKERSON: It doesn't happen-- it doesn't happen hundreds of times with-- with issues that are this sensitive. But let's--
SENATOR TOM COTTON: No, John it does--
JOHN DICKERSON: Senator--
SENATOR TOM COTTON: --it's-- it's designed for issues that are this sensitive, John.
JOHN DICKERSON: Senator, I am worried--
SENATOR TOM COTTON: It's designed for issues like this.
JOHN DICKERSON: --you're not going to get a chance to talk about Miss Ford's testimony and Mister Kavanagh's testimony. You watched it, I assume. What was your-- what was your take away from that?
SENATOR TOM COTTON: Judge Kavanaugh hundred percent denied these allegations. There is not a single bit of corroborating evidence. Every evidence that we do have to include the people that Miss Ford herself named either don't recall this incident or they deny that it happened.
JOHN DICKERSON: Did you find Mrs. Ford-- Doctor Ford credible?
SENATOR TOM COTTON: Miss Ford was sympathetic and she was sincere. She has been victimized by the Democrats in this process, John. They betrayed her own requests for confidentiality. They leaked this to the media at the last minute because they are on a search and destroy mission for Brett Kavanaugh.
JOHN DICKERSON: You said when we last talked in November, "I think it's important that women feel they can come forward. That's a good change in the norms and the expectations of our society." A woman came forward here. And you're saying, basically, she said nothing credible. How can women come forward, if when they do they are-- they are told they are not credible?
SENATOR TOM COTTON: She came forward confidentially to Dianne Feinstein. Dianne Feinstein did not share that with the proper authorities. Chuck Grassley, her counterpart, with whom she served for decades in the Senate--
JOHN DICKERSON: I understand that--
SENATOR TOM COTTON: --and the FBI that could have reviewed these matter confidential-- confidentially.
JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.
SENATOR TOM COTTON: Then they leaked it to the media--
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. But, Senator--
SENATOR TOM COTTON: --create-- creating the circus environment you've seen for the last two years.
JOHN DICKERSON: So that a woman thing about coming forward will have it immediately turned into a partisan issue, as you've done it, her-- her issues are not being discussed by you. You haven't discussed them since you've been here. Why would a-- would a person want to come forward if immediately the response is to get ground up in this partisan thing? You're blaming it on the Democrats, fine. But she is still a human being who has come forward. How should she be--
SENATOR TOM COTTON: John--
JOHN DICKERSON: How do you process what she said?
SENATOR TOM COTTON: John, any impact that this entire episode has had on women's willingness to come forward and report sexual assault, which I encourage them all to do immediately after it happens, is caused by the Democrats, is caused by Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer not respecting her requests for confidentiality. Now when you come forward with an accusation as serious as this, it has to be tested against the evidence and against proof and we would have known that confidentially inside the Judiciary Committee in August.
JOHN DICKERSON: Is the FBI wasting its time investigating it?
SENATOR TOM COTTON: I don't know what-- I don't know what the FBI is going to find that the committee has not already found. That-- the committee staff has already interviewed all the witnesses that Miss Ford cited. They interviewed Miss Ford and Judge Kavanaugh for six hours on Thursday.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, they haven't interviewed Mister Judge. He sent them a letter. That wasn't an interview.
SENATOR TOM COTTON: But-- but--
JOHN DICKERSON: So you're not right about that.
SENATOR TOM COTTON: So they've either interviewed them or they've received letters--
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, that's different.
SENATOR TOM COTTON: --letters under penalty of perjury. I-- I--
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, but that's different. Now, these are actual interviews.
SENATOR TOM COTTON: So, I'd be surprised if any of these people under penalty of perjury change their statements that they've already given to Judiciary Committee.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, surprise, but that's why we have investigations. Wrestle stuff to the ground, have a neutral fact pattern. Clearly, the members of the Committee on the Republican side want Kavanaugh to be confirmed. So, why should people who want him to be confirmed be in charge of an investigation? Why not have neutral observers wrestle the facts to the ground, which is what's happening now? So, it's not a waste of time.
SENATOR TOM COTTON: John. We already know what everyone who is alleged to be at the party has said. They've submitted statements or been interviewed under penalty of perjury. I would be shocked if any of them change their statement under penalty of perjury to the FBI. But if this makes a few senators more comfortable about going forward and voting on Judge Kavanaugh's very highly qualified nomination in-- in the face of an orchestrated Democratic smear campaign, then--
JOHN DICKERSON: Was he--
SENATOR TOM COTTON: --that may end up as a good thing.
JOHN DICKERSON: Was Judge Kavanaugh truthful in everything he said in his testimony?
SENATOR TOM COTTON: I found him to be truthful throughout his testimony. I found him to be--
JOHN DICKERSON: What if it turns out he-- he wasn't?
SENATOR TOM COTTON: I found him to be appropriately indignant--
JOHN DICKERSON: Sure.
SENATOR TOM COTTON: --at the smear campaign. And I-- I'm disappointed in what Chris Coons said on that video leading in. It reminds me of the old proverb, this animal is very wicked. It defends itself when attacked.
JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.
SENATOR TOM COTTON: If they didn't want him to come in-- come in and be angry and indignant at their false accusations, they should have thought about that before they accused him of being a serial sex criminal for the last two weeks.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you this: if it turns out that he was not truthful about something that has nothing to do with what allegedly happened thirty six years ago, truthfulness is still something you want in a Supreme Court nominee though, is that relevant?
SENATOR TOM COTTON: What-- what are you talking about, John?
JOHN DICKERSON: But if it turns out in the course of the FBI investigation--
SENATOR TOM COTTON: So--
JOHN DICKERSON: --if his-- if his assertions seen in testimony--
SENATOR TOM COTTON: So are you siding with the Democrats and now want to have an open ended fishing expedition?
JOHN DICKERSON: I think that's not fair, Senator.
SENATOR TOM COTTON: What are you talking about?
JOHN DICKERSON: I am asking you if in the investigation it turns out that something outside of that is-- if his testimony turns out to not be--
SENATOR TOM COTTON: Well, look, as John Kennedy and Lindsey Graham said, if there's some shocking new bit of, not accusation, but evidence and proof, then, of course, I am open to evaluating that evidence but I said-- I strongly suspect that every statement that was made to the Judiciary Committee under penalty of perjury is the exact same statement that's going to be made to the FBI.
JOHN DICKERSON: And we'll know in a week. Thank you, Senator Cotton.
We want to get some perspective from a key Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar is in Minneapolis this morning. Senator, what are your expectations about what the FBI will be investigating?
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-Minnesota/@amyklobuchar): Well, I think it's really important that the FBI get to the bottom of the evidence here because what happened in that hearing, was that a number of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle said that they respected Doctor Ford, that they thought she had dignity, that they found her testimony compelling. Well, you don't respect her if you don't try to figure out what actually happened. And so that's why I was so pleased when Senator Flake rose to the occasion and said it was beneath the dignity of the Senate and beneath the dignity of the court, basically, if you don't follow up. And that's what this one-week investigation is about. And as long as it is conducted in a professional manner and we give the FBI the ability to do their jobs instead of having it be micromanaged by the White House, we can at least get to the bottom of the evidence.
JOHN DICKERSON: Is your expectation when they do their job that they will just interview the four people who were allegedly at this party or that they will do things outside of that? Going to look at whether Mister Judge worked at the Safeway and so forth?
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: It is the latter. I think they have to have the ability. I am a former prosecutor. They have to have the ability to pursue the evidence. You look at background checks when either-- whether it's the Obama White House, whether it's the Trump White House, yes, they can order background check when they put a nomination in place. But they cannot say, oh, hey, only interview the people in their neighborhood on one side of the street. Or only interview people from a certain period of their life. You let the men and women of the FBI, the professionals, do their jobs. And that is what three Republicans asked, three undecided Republicans, did not feel comfortable moving forward with the vote on the floor without having this information. That is how you show Doctor Ford the respect you deserve. And unlike what I just heard from my colleague, Senator Cotton, I think that there is evidence here. She-- six years ago, before Judge Kavanaugh was famous, she said his name to her husband in a therapy session. And there are notes from that session. She took a polygraph test and passed with flying colors. And the FBI can look at that. There's all kinds of evidence that they can look at.
JOHN DICKERSON: Senator, do you expect the FBI to look into the claims that the Judge Kavanaugh made to you and others on the committee about his drinking habits, about college, about high school is that-- is the inquiry going to go into testing whether those statements were true?
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think that is relevant because when I was asking him about whether or not he had blacked out, or maybe partially blacked out in the past because of excessive drinking he just turned it back on me instead of really answering that question. And the reason it's relevant is perhaps he doesn't remember what happened because there were repeated incidences of this excessive drinking. And so I do think it's relevant. But, again, I don't think people should be micromanaging the FBI investigation we can make very clear that we think that it should do the broad investigation we can get in a week which is all Senator Flake would ask for. But, again, at least he asked for it, unlike some of my colleagues that just thought they should march ahead when a woman was telling her story not just to a jury box of strangers as so many people have to do when they were a victim but to a nation to the world.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about Senator Graham's claim and then the claim you heard Senator Cotton make repeatedly this morning, which is, essentially, that-- that the Democrats on the committee held this information, sprung it at the last minute. Senator Graham in the hearing said you had no intention of protecting Doctor Ford. None.
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: You know what I thought when I heard Senator Cotton, especially today, I thought of that old legal adage, if you don't have the facts you argue the law. If you don't have the law you argue the facts. And if you don't have either you pound the table. That's what they were doing. The truth is this is a woman that went in and called the receptionists of her congresswoman just to report something before this man had even been nominated. She was concerned because his name was out there and she wanted to get them information. Then, after she wrote this letter, which I didn't know about until a few weeks ago. But when she wrote the letter she asked her congresswoman and Senator Feinstein for confidentiality and that was why they hadn't given it to the FBI.
JOHN DICKERSON: But--
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: The person--
JOHN DICKERSON: But why not go to--
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: --the news organization--
JOHN DICKERSON: Why not go to the majority--
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Go ahead.
JOHN DICKERSON: --and say, we've got this information and let's work on this and get this investigated together?
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: I think that Senator Feinstein took this very seriously when she requested confidentiality. But here's the thing. The justice system is messy, John. Things come in at the last minute all the time before trial at the last minute. The question is not what happened in the past. We can examine that later. There may have been better ways to handle this. The question is when you have power, what do you do with that information? Do you just sweep it under the rug and say well what happened in a house doesn't belong in the courthouse? No. You look at it. You don't sweep it under the rug. And that is a question that I posed to my colleagues that day and I am just thankful that Senator Flake didn't have the stomach to let this continue without giving this woman the respect she deserves.
JOHN DICKERSON: Twenty seconds. Senator, this question of temperament. Doesn't Judge Kavanaugh, isn't he right to defend himself if he feels he was wrongly accused?
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Of course, he has a right to defend himself but this isn't a criminal trial this is a job interview for the highest court in the land and my colleagues who are still undecided--that's not me--but my colleagues who are undecided are going to have to evaluate that temperament and evaluate his decisions from the past which I think are extreme when it comes to presidential power.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: He was handpicked by a President. Thank you.
JOHN DICKERSON: Got to go. Thank you so much, Senator.
And we will be back in a moment--
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Thank you so much.
JOHN DICKERSON: --with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Don't go away.
JOHN DICKERSON: It was a week of anguish in Washington. The storm showed on the spent faces of Christine Blasey Ford, Brett Kavanaugh, and Jeff Flake. Across America people were wrung out, too, just from watching. Witness to one racked account stacked on another. Each an expert on their pain--one hundred percent certain. And the only certainty was that only one could be right. The woe accumulated: Kavanaugh's daughter praying for Ford. Ford calling lawyers from the Walgreens parking lot, so that even thirty-six years later, her parents wouldn't find out. The high school calendars the judge kept to be more like his dad, and Ford's dispute with her husband over adding a second door to a renovation because the attack left her scared of enclosed spaces. The arena added to the anguish. The world's greatest deliberative body handled society's toughest questions with the nuance of a freight train. Partisanship shattered the dish that is supposed to cool the hot cup. At the end of this drama there will be no winners. And, yet, calls to sexual assault hotlines have increased two hundred percent since Ford's testimony. Senators on both sides and even President Trump deemed her credible. It is now the default in America that accusers must be treated seriously and respectfully. Now, only the willfully ignorant don't know why women don't report abuse.
This means my daughter will live in a better world than her mother, who like thousands of others was inspired to explain why she didn't report last week, a collective act that transformed what had been a wound into a walking stick. There is more anguish to come from this drama, but the culture has changed: a week of public anguish will mean less private anguish in the future.
Back in a moment.
JOHN DICKERSON: While Washington was captivated by the Kavanaugh hearings this week, in New York, a different drama was unfolding at the annual United Nations General Assembly. We spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif about how relations between the U.S. and Iran have gone from bad to worse since President Trump quit the Iran nuclear deal. When Margaret Brennan spoke to Zarif earlier this year before that happened, he had suggested that if Mister Trump were to pull out, Iran might resume their nuclear program.
JAVAD ZARIF (Iranian Foreign Minister/@JZarif): That-- that's still a possibility. But--
JOHN DICKERSON: But it hasn't happened yet?
JAVAD ZARIF: It hasn't happened yet because Europeans have been working with us in order to make sure that Iran enjoys the economic dividends of the nuclear agreement. And we will be working with the Europeans. We've made good progress.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me just make sure, after President Trump left the JCPOA, Iran did nothing additional with respect to building a nuclear program?
JAVAD ZARIF: We didn't.
JOHN DICKERSON: The U.S. is threatening those European countries and saying if you continue to do business with Iran you won't be able to do business with the United States. Can they sustain a relationship with Iran under that kind of pressure from the United States?
JAVAD ZARIF: The United States is asking countries to violate international law. And is telling countries and companies that if they observe the law they'll be punished. This is probably unprecedented. Even for a bully in-- in-- in a town to go to the sheriff's office and tell-- tell them if you try not to rob people you are going to be punished.
JOHN DICKERSON: You think President Trump is a bully?
JAVAD ZARIF: Well, I think the behavior is one. The problem is the United States is pushing people to act in a lawless way. I don't think it's going to be sustainable. This policy is going to have a backlash. The international community is not going to accept somebody to come and just orders. We will continue to work with the Europeans. Certainly, some European companies have withdrawn from Iran because of the fear of punishment by the United States.
JOHN DICKERSON: What-- what faith did they give you that they are going to hang with Iran under the pressure? I mean what do they tell you?
JAVAD ZARIF: The verbal response has been positive. Now we have to see that in operation. And they are promising us that before the second batch of sanctions go into-- into force they will have something available to-- to address the problems. We will see.
JOHN DICKERSON: We'll have a lot more of our interview with the Iranian foreign minister in a moment. Stay with us.
JOHN DICKERSON: And we'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.
JOHN DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We continue our conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif about the deteriorating relationship between the United States and Iran.
JAVAD ZARIF: Today he says he wants to talk to President Rouhani. Tomorrow he says President Rouhani is a corrupt dictator--
JOHN DICKERSON: Will they ever talk?
JAVAD ZARIF: --then he says he-- he's a lovely man. Then he says we have asked to talk and he is not prepared to talk. So let's be serious--
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, let's-- but-- but, you know. You've seen what happened with North Korea. He said a number of very bombastic things and now there is talks and there's you know--
JAVAD ZARIF: But there's not-- there is no outcome. There's some photo opportunities.
JOHN DICKERSON: Is there any chance that he'd--
JAVAD ZARIF: No.
JOHN DICKERSON: --that Rouhani and President Trump?
JAVAD ZARIF: No. Until he decides-- first of all, President Trump has not decided whether he wants to meet, not meet, dictator, lovely man-- whichever-- whichever it is. But, until the United States shows that it's respectable, trustworthy partner in negotiations. Negotiations are not based on trust. Negotiations on based on-- are based on respect, based on a-- an expectation that the other side will comply with its decisions that it's undertaken under the negotiations.
JOHN DICKERSON: What do you make of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo?
JAVAD ZARIF: What should I make of him? He's-- he's made all the wrong moves against Iran. And I-- I believe he has made major mistakes about our region. I believe-- I mean seriously. I believe the United States needs to review its policy with regard to our region.
JOHN DICKERSON: President Trump targeted Iran repeatedly in his remarks to the U.N. General Assembly.
JAVAD ZARIF: I think it's not a sign of strength. He's making all those statements. He convened a meeting of the Security Council to bash Iran, and at the end of the day fourteen out of fifteen members of the Security Council bashed his decision to walk away from JCPOA. So, unfortunately, the United States has managed to isolate itself in the world.
JOHN DICKERSON: President Rouhani said that President Trump has tendencies resembling a Nazi disposition. What does that mean?
JAVAD ZARIF: Well I mean-- the xenophobic tendencies that he has exhibited, the wall, the Muslim ban, ban on Iranians traveling to the United States. All of these are rem-- I mean reminiscent of the type of mentality.
JOHN DICKERSON: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as you know, responded quite forcefully to that in an interview with Norah O'Donnell. He said--
JAVAD ZARIF: He is always forceful but forceful does not mean logical.
JOHN DICKERSON: He said, "For a Holocaust denying country that is threatening Israel to compare the United States or its leader to Nazis is among the most outrageous things I have ever heard."
JAVAD ZARIF: As I said, being forceful is not being logical. Iran has stated very clearly that we reject the killing of innocent people no matter what numbers, no matter by who. We have--
JOHN DICKERSON: You are talking about the Holocaust now?
JAVAD ZARIF: Of course.
JOHN DICKERSON Yes. And the Holocaust happened and--
FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIF: Of course, it did.
JOHN DICKERSON: --six million Jews died?
JAVAD ZARIF: Of-- of-- of course, it did. And a huge number of people died--a huge number of innocent people died. But it does not justify depriving others of their homeland. It does-- it does not justify building settlements in the territory of other people. It does not justify violating on mass the rights of Palestinians. The Holocaust cannot be used as a justification for an apartheid policy in Palestine.
JOHN DICKERSON: You have talked about mutual respect, if there is ever going to be conversations with the United States and Iran again. When President Rouhani says that President Trump has the tendencies of the Nazis who are responsible for killing so many innocent Jews, how can you have mutual respect--
JAVAD ZARIF: But I-- I mean, if you-- if you just put the insults that President Trump has had against Iran. Whatever President Rouhani says cannot even get close to what he has done with us. Even in his speech to the-- to the General Assembly.
JOHN DICKERSON: Even when he compares him to the organization that killed six million Jews, innocent Jews?
JAVAD ZARIF: Well-- well, he's the man who separated children from their mothers.
JOHN DICKERSON: But it was not the incineration of six million people because of their religion.
JAVAD ZARIF: And he didn't call him such he said these are behavior exhibiting the same type of approach.
JOHN DICKERSON: In America we would call that weasel words. He's using the word Nazi.
JAVAD ZARIF: Well, it's a-- it's a mentality that we believe needs to be averted because it's a mentality. It's an approach. You see Iranians went out in large numbers on September 11, 2001, holding a candlelight to mourn the death of Americans. The same Iranians cannot come here to the United States to see their kids and grandkids. We have received negative response from the United States government. The current government, unreasonable destroyed-- unreasonably destroyed a-- an agreement that had been worked on for so many years. So I think we are the ones who should be complaining. President Trump in his televised statements has insulted Iranians. He called the entire Iranian people a terrorist nation. He called us an outlaw nation. We don't take that lightly.
JOHN DICKERSON: Mm-Hm. Yeah. All right. Mister Foreign Minister, thank you so much.
JAVAD ZARIF: Good to be with you.
JOHN DICKERSON: And we'll be right back with our political panel.
JOHN DICKERSON: And we'd like to welcome our panel now for some political analysis on the remarkable week we just had. Molly Ball is the national political correspondent for TIME Magazine, Michael Gerson is The Washington Post columnist, and Jan Crawford is CBS News chief legal correspondent. We've been at the table all week together, Jan. Michael, I want to start with you. Where are we at the end of this week?
MICHAEL GERSON (The Washington Post/@MJGerson): Well, you know, I think the tribes in American politics have their big narratives about MeToo and about, you know political ambush on the part of the Democrats. But when you actually watched the hearing, these were two raw human beings. You seldom see in political life people that are exposing their deepest selves on television. And so, you know, in the case of Doctor Ford, after her testimony I felt emotionally, this is over. She-- you know, there's no way that they can go forward with Kavanaugh given the credibility of what was said. And then I saw Kavanaugh who acted like a man who was deeply wronged and was credible in that sense, credible even in being a little out of control.
JOHN DICKERSON: Mm-Hm.
MICHAEL GERSON: Okay. As you might be in a circumstance like that. And so it's-- you know, it's-- everyone is now going to the FBI because it's the only respected institution left in our public life.
JOHN DICKERSON: Right.
MICHAEL GERSON: And they are probably not going to solve this matter. And it's going to be interesting how do people make their choices about the burden of proof.
JOHN DICKERSON: That's exactly right. Molly, what-- what do you think? Where are we?
MOLLY BALL (TIME/@mollyesque): Well, in practical terms, the-- the Senate is in a state of sort of suspended animation, right? There were enough senators who did feel that the FBI might be able to bring some clarity to this. But I think that Senator Flake and others were convinced that there were at least enough out-- outstanding questions that may be evidence could either be surfaced or at least be ruled out, the existence of potential evidence that they could go out and look for. So everything is going to hinge on what if anything this investigation finds. But, you know, Senator Flake-- for Senator Flake, this wasn't just about the two witnesses or this particular partisan battle. He said this is about trying to bring the country together because for him the way that it had devolved into this pitched partisan battle that seemed to be without regard for what the underlying truth was. That was what bothered him more than anything. There were other Republican senators who agreed with that who felt that they wanted more clarity before going forward and that clarity could be, you know, in one direction or the other. But in a week's time, potentially, they will-- they will feel better about whichever vote they decide to take.
JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah. It's a lot tough job for the FBI to make people feel better in this current moment.
JAN CRAWFORD (CBS News Chief Legal Correspondent/@JanCBS): And that's-- and I think that's not going to happen. I think it's a mistake to think that the FBI report will really change anyone's minds. I think Democrats are not going to be satisfied with it. They're going to say "It was too limited. They needed more witnesses. We need more time." And we need another hearing to hear from some of these witnesses and Republicans are never going to agree to that with the-- with the real memories of 1991 and Justice Thomas on their minds. And we can't understate the impact that that has had on the distrust that you see in this committee and how that was handled in 1991 by the Democrats. So the question then becomes, what difference does it make to those three moderate Republicans, Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski? And my sense is the FBI report, once they've gotten these statements under oath from the FBI that may be enough to satisfy them because at least then they can say, "Well, we did do an FBI investigation." That is now something they can check off.
JOHN DICKERSON: Right. And so, Molly, what Jan says makes sense to me which is that you have the Republicans here who were inclined to vote for Judge Kavanaugh anyway, so that after a week doesn't it have to be a piece of evidence so big that they say, "Well, I was inclined to go in this direction, but this has blocked me," is that where it really-- what the test is?
MOLLY BALL: I think that's right. And I would add to that there's a couple of moderate Democrats hanging in the balance as well. And that was Senator Flake's hope was that if enough clarity could be brought to this or at least leads run to ground that then Democrats and Republicans who find themselves caught in the middle. Yes. The majority of Democrats have made up their minds and are going to vote against this nomination no matter what. And the majority of Republicans have made up their minds and are going to vote to confirm almost no matter what. But there are enough in the middle in that small bipartisan caucus of swing votes. And Senator Flake's hope was that by bringing those people together, we could show-- one could show the nation that this was not nearly a partisan process.
MICHAEL GERSON: Yeah. I normally add, though, the-- the FBI investigation, the extent of it is still up in the air.
JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.
MICHAEL GERSON: I talked to Senator Flake this morning and they are still negotiating with Don McGahn and determining who is going to be talked to in the extent of the pool, of who is going to be talked to. And that could add additional information. I'm-- I'm not sure it's going to determine what happened in that room--
JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.
MICHAEL GERSON: --that-- that they are talking about. But it could certainly add support to one side of-- or another, it's possible. But I agree with that these senators--someone like Senator Collins really likes Kavanaugh. I mean she has told other people that he-- it was one of the best judicial interviews she has ever had when they talked. So I think there is a predisposition here among Republicans to-- to go unless there's something decisive.
JOHN DICKERSON: Jan, one of the other avenues that some Democrats are talking about is that Judge Kavanaugh made a lot of assertions about how much he drank, his behavior, and that there are classmates in high school and in college who challenged those claims. That's not about thirty-six years ago, that's about claim-- claims he is making now in the hearing room. Do you think they have any grounds there because their argument is this goes to his credibility, he can't be a judge if he is not telling us the truth now?
JAN CRAWFORD: You know the way I see that is that it kind of goes back to his demeanor in this hearing, and to your point that he was outraged, and at times indignant. And-- and as some people have said he came across as belligerent, but this was a man who said, this is my life. This is the life I have lived for the last thirty-six years. I've put up countless character witnesses, including from high school that this was my behavior. And we are sitting here talking about people I don't know or remember from, you know, high school or college, it was almost like it was incredulous that this was the conversation. And so I would not expect any of that to come up in an FBI report when you're going to try to find-- that's not what the FBI's role is in this. And it's an interesting world that we're in right now if we're going to have politicians on Capitol Hill able to instruct the FBI to go and investigate what-- whether or not someone's roommate in college believes that they drank. There's-- there's no allegation of criminal misdoing here, there's no jurisdiction for the FBI. That is supposed to be done as a confidential FBI background check for Supreme Court nominee. So I feel we, you know, we kind of need to remember what is the point of the FBI, what is the role of the FBI and-- and how comfortable are we just giving-- having politicians give the FBI this wide ranging authority to investigate any behavior in someone's background once they put themselves up for public service is a different road that we're going on.
JOHN DICKERSON: Michael, what do you-- we are having a big large cultural moment as well. Is it possible for a politician to say I believe what Doctor Ford said, I believe that woman don't immediately report, I believe all of the things that have been very much in the news and, yet, a standard of proof has not been met and I am going to vote for Judge Kavanaugh.
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, I think that's what Senator Flake may end up and some other people in that position of saying this was credible testimony, but there's a precedent here that says based on one accusation un-- with-- without contemporaneous cooperation. That you can't make decisions based on that. I think a lot of Republicans will be in that situation. And it is a conflict. But I do think a lot of people in public life, men imagine themselves in the same circumstance of being accused.
JOHN DICKERSON: Mm-Hm.
JAN CRAWFORD: But-- and-- and mothers with sons. And, you know, grandmothers with-- I mean, it's-- it's not-- sisters with brothers.
JOHN DICKERSON: Right.
JAN CRAWFORD: So I think it's a mistake to think of it is just this is how women see this and this is how men might see it.
JOHN DICKERSON: And the imagination is different than the-- than the facts, which is that there are more unreported sexual assaults than there are men who are publicly accused. I mean there are acute examples but the-- the balance of the-- of the fact tends to go to people who are-- who have been sexually assaulted and don't talk about it. So if that's the case, Molly, is there a risk politically for someone who says, look, something has not been proved here that Democrats will say, you're missing the central point. That to-- to understand the experience of women is to believe them when they say these things.
MOLLY BALL: Well, you know, I think the bigger picture politically is that, well, there were many who saw themselves in the shoes of Judge Kavanaugh, there were also a lot of American women who were strongly compelled by Doctor Ford.
MICHAEL GERSON: Yeah. That's correct.
MOLLY BALL: And the emotional outpouring that you saw all across the country, people calling into their-- their members of Congress, people watching transfixed on screens all across the country, this hearing, it was a really wrenching and emotional occasion for America. And I think it's one that we're going to look back on as a cultural touchstone for years to come. In political terms we are going into a midterm election where had this never occurred it was already an election about women's anger and women's voices and a female-driven backlash to all of the cultural and political currents of the day. And so, you now, this-- this only drives that further. It's almost-- it's almost absurdly fitting that this should be the sort of final political controversy before this year's election.
JOHN DICKERSON: That's right. Well, as Michael said, the tribes have their narratives out of this.
All right. We're going to have to end it there. Thanks to all of you and we'll be back in a moment.
JOHN DICKERSON: We are joined now by author Michael Lewis. His latest book The Fifth Risk takes readers inside the transition of power from the Obama administration to the Trump administration. Welcome.
MICHAEL LEWIS (The Fifth Risk): Thank you.
JOHN DICKERSON: What is the fifth risk?
MICHAEL LEWIS: It's-- the short answer to that--there's a short answer and a long answer. The short answer is it's the risks that you don't imagine. Sort of the unknown unknowns as Donald Rumsfeld put it. But it-- it sort of like-- if you think of the federal government one way of thinking about it, I mean, its basic job is to keep us safe. And one way of thinking about it is is portfolio of risks that it's managing. And at any given time it's focused on a few of them. But there are dozens of others, and we are not thinking about them. And when you have an administration like this administration that's not terribly concerned with the running of the federal government, and it's been really kind of negligent the way it's going about it. It-- it's like, what happens to all those other risks?
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, and-- and explain to people what you mean by the federal government. Because people would hear, well, Donald Trump says I passed tax cuts, I'm cutting regulation, I'm doing all these things.
MICHAEL LEWIS: Yeah. Well, the federal government's two million people and-- and it's an enormously complicated enterprise. And so it gets me going on the subject is, the Obama administration devoted the-- the lives of about a thousand people over the course of the year to prepare briefings for whoever was going to run the federal government to come in the day after the election and learn about what's going on in the Department of Energy or what's going on in the Department of Education. A lot of this is not ideological. It's like what problems are we dealing with in the Center of Disease Control. And how do we deal with it? How do we deal with the Ebola-- Ebola crisis and how might you deal with it that it happens. And respecting that the-- whoever was elected to show up in-- in, you know, in the hundreds.
JOHN DICKERSON: Right.
MICHAEL LEWIS: The day after election no one shows. The week after the election no one shows. In fact, many of the briefings never happened.
JOHN DICKERSON: Right.
MICHAEL LEWIS: And so the-- the Trump administration, I think from day one, was starting from a position of ignorance. So you have the Iranian foreign minister on and the-- and Trump came in and decided to blow up the deal with Iran. Where would you go in the federal government the day after you're elected to understand the importance of that deal? You go to-- believe it or not, the Energy Department where there are physicists who will explain to you why that deal ensured that Iran will not be able to build a nuclear bomb. The people in the Energy Department, where by the way, they tend the nuclear arsenal waited for months for anybody to show up to explain exactly what they did. And to this day the-- the-- the-- actually the government has never properly been handed over.
JOHN DICKERSON: What people-- it's like an enormous corporate takeover where the company doing the taking over doesn't have the experience and doesn't know the job, so.
MICHAEL LEWIS: And-- and if so, dismissive and contemptuous of the job that-- I mean, Trump himself turned to-- to Chris Christie who he had deputed to handle the transition, and said at one point, look, the government-- if we win we can learn what we need to-- we need to run it in two hours at the victory-- at the victory party. So-- so this is-- this is a problem.
JOHN DICKERSON: Explain the things that people don't think of when they think of the government that you spent so much time looking into--
MICHAEL LEWIS: So what I did is I serve-- serve-- I mean I was in a position where I was spoiled of the choice-- I didn't really think you could drop a writer down in any of the federal departments right now, and he come away with a riveting story of risks you do not appreciate that you should appreciate. So Commerce Department, horribly misnamed should be called the department of data. I mean it's-- it's sort of the census is there, lot of the economic statistics is there, and the entire-- all the weather and climate data is there. So it's like how we get a picture of ourselves and-- and our environment. And the-- the Trump administration has, basically, neg-- neglected the vast majority of it, but the weather service. It's filled with really interesting people who are weather geeks. They have transformed weather prediction--
JOHN DICKERSON: Mm-Hm.
MICHAEL LEWIS: --over the last thirty years. Why you aren't going to get hit by a hurricane without knowing, you can thank them for it. And it's all because of the-- of the-- the collection of data. They put someone in there who is trying to shut down, essentially, the public's access to the data that the weather services generates.
JOHN DICKERSON: And the reason people should care about it that these people that you write about deal with the long-term problems and politics forces politicians to only deal with what happens in five minutes.
MICHAEL LEWIS: Look at your show, right? You're dealing with whatever happened that day or that week. And-- and-- what we-- what we got here is, a portfolio of very long-term risks that if-- if the federal government doesn't do it or manage it well, no one will. It's the only tool. And I think we got to shift the narrative. I mean, the narrative has been for-- for a generation that this-- this thing, this federal government is-- is like burden in the society. It is a society. That if-- if it does not function well we're-- we're doomed. And-- and, you know, Trump in this sense is kind of just a symptom not a cause. I mean decades and decades of rust have-- have accumulated on this machine and he's come in with a sledgehammer. And the question is what it means and what risks do we run as a society if we let him do what he is doing.
JOHN DICKERSON: It seems that you're making the counterargument to Ronald Reagan used to joke. I'm-- that the funniest laugh line is I'm from the government and I'm here to help you. Your-- your argument is, basically, they are here to help.
MICHAEL LEWIS: Oh, my-- I think-- I think-- right-- that if you were going to money ball American society and try to identify where people are really radically misvalued, it's-- it's in the public sector right now. That-- that-- we are radically misvaluing the-- the-- the public, especially at the federal level and there's this myth, like the private sector does all the-- all the interesting stuff and the private sector is the engine of economic growth. It's not true. You know, all the basic science is under the internet, Microsoft Windows, GPS, you can-- on and on and on. Starts with-- with programs in the federal government that are now imperiled.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Michael Lewis, we're going to have to end it there. And we'll be right back.
JOHN DICKERSON: That's it for us today. Thanks for watching. Until next week for FACE THE NATION, I am John Dickerson. But I'll see you tomorrow on CBS THIS MORNING.