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Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on July 14, 2019

7/14: Face The Nation
7/14: Morgan, Durbin, Johnson 47:29

On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:

  • Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan (read more)
  • Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. (read more)
  • Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson (read more)
  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (watch)
  • Historian Douglas Brinkley, author of "American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race" (read more)
  • Panelists: Ben Domenech, Toluse Olorunnipa, and Kelsey Snell (watch)

Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, July 14th. I'm Margaret Brennan and this is FACE THE NATION.

Tensions are high this Sunday morning after President Trump announced a crackdown on undocumented migrants in cities across the country.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: People come into our country illegally. We're taking them out legally. It's very simple.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As the political battle over how to handle migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. and what to do about the deplorable conditions at some detention centers gets even more divisive.

ELIZABETH WARREN: No great nation tears families apart.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Vice President Mike Pence toured detention facilities in McAllen, Texas Friday, defending immigration officials' treatment of detainees.

MIKE PENCE: Are they taking good care of you here?

(Man #1 speaking foreign language)

MIKE PENCE: Do you have enough to eat?

(Man #2 speaking foreign language)

MARGARET BRENNAN: But even he concedes--

MAN #3: We are not a terrorist.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --it's a crisis situation that needs urgent attention.

MIKE PENCE: To be honest with you, I was not surprised by what I saw. This is tough stuff.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Can leaders put politics aside to fix the broken immigration system?

MAN #4: We are forty days here. We haven't taken a shower for forty days.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll talk with acting head of the Customs and Border Protection agency, Mark Morgan. Plus, the number two Democrat in the Senate, Richard Durbin, and former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

NEIL ARMSTRONG: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And as CBS News launches a week of network wide coverage of the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, we'll look back at how we got there. Plus, we'll talk with NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine about what's ahead for space exploration in the next fifty years and beyond.

It's all coming up on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning. And welcome to FACE THE NATION. As we come on the air, residents and local officials in nine major U.S. cities are preparing for agents from the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency, commonly known as ICE, to round up immigrants who have either missed a court appearance or who have been ordered removed from the United States. We begin today with Mark Morgan. He is the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, CBP, which enforces immigration law and patrols the U.S. border. Good morning to you, Commissioner.

MARK MORGAN (Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection/@CBPMarkMorgan): Good morning. Thanks for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand you're at CBP. You were previously at ICE. The President has said those who will be arrested today will either be put in prison or sent back. What can you tell us about how many people will be rounded up and where they'll go?

MARK MORGAN: So, the-- the numbers are really going to be left up to ICE and so I really want to try to stay away from the operational details, specifically, focus on the numbers or cities or where they're going to be going out. But, again, I think what we need to do--part of this--this narrative is, we need to be intellectually honest when we're going forward with this is that the individuals that ICE goes after and they do this every single day are not individuals that are here undocumented. They're individuals that are here illegally. And, in this case, their priority has always been, and it will be, to go after those that are criminal aliens, meaning those people that are here illegally and have-- and have committed additional crimes against American citizens. But also, part of that priority is to also go after and-- and apply consequences and enforce the rule of law to those individuals who had due process and received a final order of removal from a judge, and they still remain here illegally. To-- to maintain integrity in the system, we have to apply cuts-- consequences to everyone.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So can you say, though, whether there will be family separations? If someone is arrested, their children come home either they're U.S. born, or they're just coming home to find a parent who is now in detention, what happens? Can you avoid that situation?

MARK MORGAN: So of-- of course, the-- the design is not about family separation. That's not the intent. Never has been and never will be. The intent is to enforce--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Can you avoid it?

MARK MORGAN: --the rule of law. There-- there are challenges. Absolutely. But I can tell you the men and women of ICE, they are true American heroes. They-- they're mothers, they are fathers, brothers, and sisters. They're going to apply this with-- with humanity and compassion. There's a whole host of scenarios that could go. I'll give you an example. For one, if they run across a mother who came here illegally, had due process, had a order removal, but she's currently in her third trimester of pregnancy, of-- of course, they're not going to apprehend that individual. They're going to give her a-- a paper, a notice to appear and-- and then come back later when it's appropriate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Where will these people go? Because as we've been talking about and in the facilities you run, there's this crisis of overcrowding. Is ICE putting these people in centers that are already overcrowded as well?

MARK MORGAN: No. So-- and-- and I'm glad you asked that question because there's a lot of confusion with respect to the holding facilities that Customs and Border Protection hold that are meant just kind of like a police station. They're not meant to be nor they were ever designed to be, long-term holding facilities. ICE, the facilities that they have are. And so families, for example, will go to family residential centers that are, specifically, designed to house families on a longer-term basis. And it's a very different environment than what you'll see from a CBP Border Patrol holding facility.

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Obama deported about three million people. President Bush, about two million. President Trump's far below that. But there is this question of why these arrests are happening now at a time when you have been talking about overcrowding, at a time when you're in the middle of a re-election campaign. It seems to be, to many critics, politically motivated.

MARK MORGAN: So I can't take-- speak to you from-- from a political side. I can speak to you from a law enforcement side. And I can tell you, Margaret, one of the largest incentives, pull factors, for these people is you grab a kid, that is your passport into the country. And once you get in the country, you're allowed to stay. If we don't apply interior enforcement action, consequences to those that have received due process--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, but why--

MARK MORGAN: --they've received an idle order--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --did the President announce it? This is a law enforcement action he announced.

MARK MORGAN: You-- you'll have to ask the President on that. But all is I can tell you is I support this one hundred percent. This is a-- an essential consequence that we need to apply to help take that element away, that pull factor, so they'll stop making the dangerous trek and risking their lives.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. The President, this morning, put out a series of tweets that I want to read to you, or part of. He suggested that foreign-born female members of Congress need to quote, "go back," to quote, "the places from which they came." Who is the President talking about and how is this helpful if you're trying to get Democrats in Congress to work with you?

MARK MORGAN: Again, you're going to have to ask the President what he means by those specific tweets.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You don't know who he is talking about?

MARK MORGAN: I-- I-- I think that you need to talk to the President about his specific tweets. What-- what I-- what I will tell you is that we absolutely have a crisis on the border one hundred percent. And Congress I-- I can tell you, unequivocally, Congress has failed to do what they need to do to adjust this crisis. We've been pleading with them our-- for a long time and we've been on the Hill asking for a long time, you fix the floor settlement agreement--


MARK MORGAN: --you fix the TVPRA catch and release and eighty-five percent of this crisis ends the next day. That's what we need Congress to do on a bipartisan effort.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Which is why I asked you if it was helpful or not to make comments like that. Let me ask you about what's happening in some of the facilities that you oversee. Today, the President also tweeted there have been great reviews of children's detention centers. We know the vice president went down and toured multiple facilities, one of them being a children's center. The House Oversight Committee this week released a report saying there are at least still thirty children separated from their parents for more than a year who haven't been reunited with them and have not been released to somebody else to take care of them. So do you understand why facts like that make it hard for anyone in Congress, Democrats say, to trust the administration with holding children in detention or potentially for longer periods of time as some are proposing?

MARK MORGAN: So what-- what I would say is facts matter all the way around. Neither does the rhetoric that's out there that's absolutely false. That-- that--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But this is a House Oversight report.

MARK MORGAN: Again, you said facts are important and I'm saying I agree. Facts are important. Just-- just--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You agree that that is a fact? This thirty-- the thirty children who continue to be separated.

MARK MORGAN: Yes, we-- we've been--


MARK MORGAN: --talking about that for a long time and, again, they're-- they're-- making progress to reunite those families. That happened a long time ago. But again, what-- what we're talking about now-- let's talk about facts and the facts are that-- that we've been asking Congress for a very long time for the supplemental, for example, right? Because we've agreed that children should not be in facilities that Border Patrol have. They're holding facilities. They were never designed for kids.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's the four and a half billion that was just approved.

MARK MORGAN: Yes-- yes, Ma'am. And so-- so the four and a half billion. We've been asking-- three and a half billion that went to HHS. I-- I'm not in that department but, yet, I am asking for the supplemental to-- to get HHS the funding they need. So the children, for example, could get out of the Border Patrol holding facilities where they don't belong. We were-- we were asking that for months. And Congress sat on their hands--


MARK MORGAN: --and didn't provide that funding.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, that funding you do have now. The vice president said--

MARK MORGAN: And it's working.


MARK MORGAN: And it's working.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --on this program two weeks ago that some of these-- some of these conditions are unacceptable. We have video of the tour that he went on as well where he saw where men are being held, different facility than where the children are. And I want to read from the pool report written by Washington Post Josh Dawsey. He said, "The cages were so crowded it would have been impossible for all of the men to lie in the concrete. There were three hundred and eighty-four single men in the portal, no mats or pillows, some sleeping on concrete. When they saw the press arrive, the men began shouting and wanted to tell us they'd been in there forty days or longer. They were hungry and wanted to brush their teeth. It was sweltering hot. Agents were wearing face masks." Are these acceptable conditions?

MARK MORGAN: So, first of all, the-- the way to describe those conditions, I would not describe them as-- as they were described. But-- but even-- even so--

MARGARET BRENNAN: This was the video.

MARK MORGAN: No. You-- you're--

MARGARET BRENNAN: This is the video and this is a reporter's eyewitness account.

MARK MORGAN: Right. So I-- I would not consider that swelteringingly (sic) hot. I was there alongside the vice president when I was there. But, make no mistake, was it overcrowded? Absolutely. But, Margaret, we've been saying that for a very long time that these conditions are overcrowded.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you agree it's unacceptable?

MARK MORGAN: Oh, absolutely, it's unacceptable. And-- and--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So what are you doing to change those conditions now?


MARGARET BRENNAN: As you said that funding has been approved.

MARK MORGAN: Okay, but-- but this is very important though is this could have been prevented in-- in a couple of ways. Had Congress given the funding earlier than-- than when we ask it would have helped alleviate some of the overcrowding.


MARK MORGAN: The other thing right now is we're con-- continuing to ask Congress. We need legislative fix. We need Congress to act right now.


MARK MORGAN: Senator Lindsey Graham has a bill that he's trying to push forward right now that would absolutely overnight help eliminate that-- what you saw when we went down there with the vice president. Congress needs to act. They know it--


MARK MORGAN: --and they're failing to do so.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're going to talk to Senator Dick Durbin next. Thank you, Commissioner, who is working with Senator Graham, whose legislation you mentioned there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Durbin joins us from Chicago. Good morning to you, Senator.

SENATOR DICK DURBIN (D-Illinois/@SenatorDurbin/Democratic Whip): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're in one of the cities where these ICE arrests are expected to happen. What are you seeing out there? What are you hearing?

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: I'm hearing two things. The fear level in the community, particularly, in the Hispanic community, I've never seen it at a higher level. Just this last Friday I was handed this note by a-- a young girl who is a high school student. Her name is Guadalupe. She couldn't read it to me. She broke down crying but she basically says in here is, "I don't want to live in fear and I don't want to lose my mother and father." They've been here working hard, they never broke the law. They just want to be part of the future of this city, this country. "And give me a chance." The second thing that I'm feeling across this community is a mobilization, a belief that we are all in this together, that we're going to stand together in support of families just like this--


SENATOR DICK DURBIN: --who simply want a chance to be part of America's future.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, you said that many of these people haven't broken the law. According to ICE, ninety percent of migrants they arrest have a criminal conviction, criminal charges, or they have illegally re-entered the country after being removed. Are you arguing that law enforcement shouldn't be enforcing the law as it is written?

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: I will just tell you this: If someone has come to this country and broken the law, they've disqualified themselves, as far as I am concerned for staying in this country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: By entering illegally, though, by definition they have broken the law whether it's criminal--

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: Well, of course--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --or civil infraction is a matter for debate.

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: Yes, but that's-- that's a significant difference and even Mister Morgan went to that point. He said if there was an additional criminal violation. I feel the same way about a serious criminal violation, they've disqualified themselves. But what we're finding is, as we did with the zero tolerance policy, the simple fact of crossing the border and perhaps having a technical legal violation at that point is being used as a basis for deportation of people who otherwise have nothing in their background or nothing in their record that's a danger to us. That's when you get into trouble. That's when you start not only deporting people who may be serious offenders, but innocent people who are trying to lead a good life here and want to have a chance. That's the difference.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, President Trump tweeted this morning that female Democrat congresswomen who are foreign born, he suggests, should go back to where they came from. What do these comments do to your attempts to work across the aisle? Do you consider that a racist tweet?

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: I could just tell you that when we are dealing with mass arrests and mass deportation and that kind of careless rhetoric by the President it doesn't help one bit. My mother was an immigrant to this country and brought here by my grandparents from Lithuania under the control of Tsarist Russia. Do I fit into the President's category? I'm going to stick with the United States as my mother did and my brothers did trying to make this a better country. And I say the same for these members of Congress and I think there is only one in particular he's pointing to. The fact that they went through refugee camps, came to the United States, clawed their way into an existence and, eventually, were elected. Thank goodness. That is part of what America holds as a dream for people around the world and the President should not diminish it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why-- we talk about you trying to work across the aisle. Why didn't you go on this tour with Republicans and the vice president down to see the border facilities on Friday?

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: I've been there. I was just there eight weeks ago in the El Paso area. I'm going to return in the next week. I-- I watched as this group was in formation and it became apparent to me it was more about public relations than really getting down to serious policy discussions. I'm going to continue--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we've shown the video and not all of it is necessarily favorable to the administration. Wouldn't it have been helpful for you to be there alongside Republicans to make the statement that you are working across the aisle or trying to?

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: Well, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican, and chairman of the Judiciary Committee and I are still in serious conversation about dealing with the policy. We will continue to. I have been there. I'm going back. I think the circumstances which are shown in the video were bad. What I saw were even worse. These kids in cages were not part of the video. I can understand that there's sensitivity to exposing them to public review. But the fact is it's happening and America is rejecting this approach by the Trump administration. They don't want to see more with these mass arrests and deportations--


SENATOR DICK DURBIN: --families split apart. Now listen to this: We're hearing from the administration the serious humanitarian challenges at the border. Those are going to be multiplied now by these ICE raids across the United States as families are divided and young people are sent to more detention facilities. It is not going to make it any better.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You-- the-- the administration says that the work you and Senator Graham are doing, essentially, the only game in town. You said there are at least five or six areas of common ground that Democrats in the Senate and the House could support. What are they?

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: Well, I can give you several of them right off the top my head. First, unlike the President we happen to believe that we need to have foreign assistance to these three countries in Central America. It's the only-- only hope we have to stabilize the situation so fewer people are exiting, trying to find their way into the United States. Secondly, when it comes to the transporters and smugglers come down on them like a ton of bricks. I have no sympathy for human traffickers wherever they may be. Stiffer penalties more enforcement, I am for it. More immigration court judges, of course. A faster process for hearing of these cases, particularly, those involving children, of course. We ought to reinstate what Obama had. And that was in the embassies of these three countries. We could have young people and, perhaps, adults as well applying for asylum in country, not making that dangerous expensive trip to the United States border--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, it if they're endangered in the country that they are fleeing from, how does applying for asylum from that same country protect them?

SENATOR DICK DURBIN: You put your finger on one of the flaws in what I have just said. We answer it by saying if we can find a place in Mexico, for example, maybe under United Nations' supervision, where there is a safe venue for them to apply for asylum status in the United States. I am open to that conversation. But we have to understand, and I'd-- State Representative Delia Ramirez just came back from Guatemala, she and I met this-- this weekend. The situation is desperate in that country. The people have nowhere to turn. Gangs, extortion, threats of-- of rape and murder that are going on constantly. They are going to risk their lives because they know staying in Guatemala--


SENATOR DICK DURBIN: --in many circumstances, is deadly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Durbin, thank you very much.

We will be back in one minute with former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Secretary Jeh Johnson served in the Obama administration and he joins us from New York this morning. Good morning to you, Mister Secretary. President Obama--

JEH JOHNSON (Former Secretary of Homeland Security): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --deported three million migrants from the United States. You were secretary at that time. How is what President Trump is trying to do any different?

JEH JOHNSON: Well, first, Margaret, I have to say Mister Morgan ducked your question about the President's tweet. I will not. I cannot believe a President of the United States would make a statement about foreign born members of Congress suggesting they-- they go back from where they-- from where they came from. And what the President needs to appreciate, in addition to it being offensive, you are undermining your very own administration's efforts at working with Congress constructively on what Mister Morgan referred to as-needed legislative fixes. And so Americans should not become numb to this kind of-- of language and-- and offensive statements and we need to work with Congress and the executive branch in order to get anything done. So, in the Obama administration, certainly, the last few years I served as secretary of homeland security, we prioritized from within the Interior deporting those who are convicted felons. You have to also have as a priority those apprehended at the border for the sake of border security, but the number of deportations over time in the Obama administration actually went down while the percentage of those deported, who were convicted felons and who were in local jails went up. And it-- it's all about enforcing our immigration laws, but in a way that is fair and humane and promotes public safety and that was our priority. And on day one of this--


JEH JOHNSON: --administration the President, literally, tore up those priorities.


JEH JOHNSON: And so now--


JEH JOHNSON: You're seeing these-- these ex--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sorry, go ahead.

JEH JOHNSON: Go ahead, sorry.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The President, some in his administration have said there're up to one million migrants that have pending orders of removal against them. Is-- is it realistic to say that many people can be deported?

JEH JOHNSON: No, it is not. And it's important for people to know their rights in this circumstance. If someone from ICE ERO comes to someone's home, unless they have a warrant that person is not required to-- to admit them. They have a right to remain silent. They have a right to a lawyer and they should not be deported from this country unless there has been a final order of deportation by an immigration judge after the individuals had an opportunity to go through the appellate process and make whatever claims for asylum they-- they have. And so there must be a final order of removal. Very often if someone's ordered deported in absentia without being present in court they have a right to a rehearing. And so it's important for people particularly today and over the next week to know exactly what their rights are.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We've been talking about the conditions at facilities, detention facilities of many forms under the Trump administration. I want to show an image of you touring a facility in Arizona back in 2014.


MARGARET BRENNAN: President Trump often refers to the language referring to these chain-linked fence dividers, cages as some call them, as unique, that the Obama administration is doing though all of this in a way that he just had to continue, that he is doing things, essentially, the same way. He inherited the policy. What's so different?

JEH JOHNSON: Well, there are a number of things different, Margaret. First, there was no zero tolerance policy in the Obama administration. We did not separate families as a policy and practice. And the photograph you showed, I remembered that visit well. It was Arizona. It was June 2014, during the spike we had then; though, the numbers were not as high as they are now. And under the law if you have an unaccompanied child cross the border, DHS within seventy-two hours is required to turn that child over to-- to HHS. And in that seventy-two-hour period we needed to have places like the one we set up temporarily in Arizona to-- to house the kids until they could be placed with HHS and the partitions you see, some call them cages, are meant to separate the-- the women from-- from the men, the girls from the boys. But these were temporary. What that photograph doesn't show is, I probably spent half my time at that facility actually inside those fenced-in areas talking to the-- the young boys and girls about their situation and about the conditions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Secretary Johnson, thank you for your time.

We'll be back in a moment. Don't go away.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Fifty years ago this week, CBS's Walter Cronkite reported on the historic journey of Apollo 11 from blast off to putting a man on the Moon. We will commemorate that anniversary all week long across all CBS News platforms, including a prime-time special Tuesday night at 10:00 PM Eastern, anchored by Norah O'Donnell. CBSN and CBS News Radio will also re-air Cronkite's coverage of the liftoff on Tuesday in real time.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Some of our stations are leaving us now, but we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including a look at what's ahead for the network this week as we honor that fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch and landing, but our panel is up next, so stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. It is time now for some political analysis from our panel. Ben Domenech is the founder and publisher of The Federalist. And Kelsey Snell is a congressional reporter for NPR, and Toluse Olorunnipa, one of these days I'm going to get it right, covers the White House for the Washington Post. Toluse, help me. How do I say your last name better?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA (Washington Post/@ToluseO): Olorunnipa.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Olorunnipa, I think I said it once correct but we're so glad to have you back here. I want to start off with the tweet that the President--series of them, that the President put out this morning, targeting members of Congress, specifically, female members who he says he doesn't name them, but says should go back to where they came from. Toluse, this reaction is what? I mean we're putting up on screen four individuals, only one of whom was foreign born. It seems to be who the President is suggesting should go home?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: Yeah. Jeh Johnson said earlier that we shouldn't get numb to this type of rhetoric; we have actually gotten somewhat numb to this type of rhetoric from the President because it's par for the course this is the type of campaigning he is going to do in advance of 2020, sort of promoting division, promoting divisive messages. He wants this election to be about immigration. If you look at the citizenship question, if you look at these raids that are going on, if you look at this tweet about, you know, congresswomen who for the most part are American-- are actually all of them are American citizens, most-- most of them are actually American born. The President wants to sort of use division as a tool for his re-election. And his supporters will say, you know, don't parse the President's words. He's making the argument that, you know, all of these people are privileged to be in the best country on Earth and they shouldn't be so negative about the country. But one thing he's doing is actually uniting what was a very fractured Democratic caucus with Nancy Pelosi speaking out negatively about some of these congresswomen, some of them pushing back over the last week, and you've seen her come out with a tweet sort of coming to their defense and-- and going against the President. He is sort of the best unifier for the Democrats. And by inserting himself into his argument, he is making some of those fights from the past be much less of the part of the focus and now they're trying to unify and figure out how they can take him on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. Ben, I was looking online after the President said this, and there are a number of members of Congress who are foreign born, many of them who actually are allies of the President.

BEN DOMENECH (The Federalist/@bdomenech): Mm.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This-- targeting of these individuals has been suggested it is a flat-out racist attack.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Will Republicans see it that way?

BEN DOMENECH: I don't know that they'll see it necessarily that way. Though I do think that, you know, in this context, I mean the only one of these four members of Congress that you're talking about who was foreign born is Ilhan Omar, who is obviously, herself engaged in some of the most violent rhetoric when it comes to anti-Semitic speech and the like in ways that have, you know, obviously, come up in the Congress before, in ways that I think have frustrated Speaker Pelosi. The fact is that this week we found a real gift for the President in terms of the animosity that was being aired between some of these more progressive members of the conference and the Speaker herself. And I think when the President engages in this kind of behavior, it-- it undoes, to your point, a lot of the-- the assistance that he is getting from the fractious nature of-- of these backs-- back and forth between more extreme members of the sort of left wing of the Democratic caucus and those who want to run a more centrist campaign, one that is about restoring normalcy to political life in America, which is certainly, you know, the main thrust of the--


BEN DOMENECH: --Biden campaign and others-- and others who want to achieve that kind of message. I don't think that this is a situation where the President is doing himself any favors.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Kelsey, when earlier in the week before the President tweeted this, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that the speaker, by singling her out along with the squad--not naming them but in a different interview prior-- in the week prior--had talked about them not holding with the caucus and voting with leadership on specific issue related to immigration. Is any singling out of these individuals who do have death threats against them going to continue to-- to be a theme and-- and a dangerous one?

KELSEY SNELL (NPR/@kelsey_snell): Well, Pelosi later said she wasn't really trying to single out those specific people. She was trying to single out division in the party. Whether or not that's read that way by the people who support these, the-- the four women that we mentioned, is another question altogether. I think--

MARGARET BRENNAN: AOC said it was targeting women of color.

KELSEY SNELL: And she-- yes. And she did do a little bit of cleanup afterwards talking to reporters saying she thought this was all over and was trying to move on, though, we saw on Twitter over the weekend that that wasn't necessarily the case. The fight, kind of, continued to play out. I think the question is whether or not the people who are directly involved in this are ready to move on. We-- I-- I think that in-- you know, as Ben said, it would be a really big gift to Democrats to have the President intervening here. But the activists who support the more progressive members aren't really ready to move on. We saw that at the Netroots Conference. They are upset and it will be up to Democrats to find a new way to move forward and to find a new way to talk to one another. And, you know, in some ways they have to do it quickly.


KELSEY SNELL: Because they're about to go out on August recess and not be in Washington for over a month. And that amount of time, when these people are back at home talking to their constituents, really often changes kind of the path of Congress for the year.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ben, I asked you if you-- what do you think Republicans will do about the President's tweet?


MARGARET BRENNAN: I mean the-- the usual answer is, oh, I didn't see it. Can Republicans claim that they didn't see these series of tweets from the President that many do consider to be racist? Should they be distancing themselves from it?

BEN DOMENECH: Well, I mean, I don't think they can claim that realistically. I mean, you know, we-- we play all sorts of games. I mean, this is kind of, like, those-- those comments from, you know, athletes that they don't listen to sports talk radio. You know, you-- you can't really believe that on its-- on its face. But, again, I think that the-- the context here is one where Democrats have a real division within their party between those who want to run a more centrist campaign in 2020, one that is more-- much more likely to win and to take back the White House; and those who are sort of newly woke, who are much more radical on a lot of these different subjects and who want a much more aggressive progressive agenda in response to what they view as the overreach of-- of President Trump and his administration. I think that's a-- a divide that isn't going to be solved in-- in a very quick term. And to Kelsey's point it kind of needs to be--


BEN DOMENECH: --because they need to be united on this front in order to take him on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But in terms of political usefulness, Toluse, this-- this overlay of the President's rhetoric and the context in which what should be as many would argue standard law enforcement operations, like these arrests? It changes the tone about everything and it comes at a time when the President is running for re-election, immigration being one of the key platforms. Is that the prism through which everything should be seen right now?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that the motivation for the raids?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: You have to look at all of this from the 2020 point of view. I mean these raids may have happened either way but the President decided to go out in front of it and tweet about it and, sort of, make it into this big thing where he talks about millions of people being brought out of the country. He wants to show his base, which he believes is going to be the determining factor of this election, that he is doing everything possible to fulfill his promises, whether it's the wall, whether it's putting up question about citizenship on the census, you know, overruling his legal department and the Justice Department, and-- and try-- trying to fight for the citizenship question on the census. He wants to constantly be showing his base that he is turning up the notch and doing as much as possible on this immigration issue. Because the images that are coming out of the southern border, for him, is actually an image of failure that he said--


TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: --he was going to clean up the-- the border. He was going to stop people from coming across; he was going to build a wall, and now we're seeing record numbers of families coming across, and it's a-- it's a-- a sign of failure of his administration not being able to do things. Now he can talk about the Democrats not--


TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: --not helping. But when he said that he was going to fix this problem in 2016 he is having to campaign on the same issue in 2020.

BEN DOMENECH: Margaret, he is doing this because he's failed in that-- in those respects. He promised a wall, he promised a crackdown, in all these different ways. And the fact is that this administration has shown us--


BEN DOMENECH: --how much they have stumbled over their own message, how much they have stumbled over their own policy, in so many respects, including having acting people in these various jobs who can't actually drive the train on policy. And this is a way to try to make up for that, but it's-- it's going to be something where he's going to have to convince his own base that he hasn't failed in this respect. And I think that's going to be a hard act.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And sixteen total, that was what we tallied up here in terms of acting officials, whether they be secretaries, cabinet-level mem-- members, agency heads--sixteen total, just acting not actually confirmed, not officially in the job. Kelsey, does the President have any incentive or ability to get these nominees confirmed?

KELSEY SNELL: He certainly has the ability. And Republicans in the Senate that I talked to say they would like very much to have their-- you know, their role of advising consent returned to them by this President. But it doesn't help him. He-- he enjoys the acting secretaries. He said that many times before.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He said that in an interview in February with us.

KELSEY SNELL: And he-- he says it gives him more flexibility. Now the senators, the one that-- when you talk to them say that this is not good for the way the country functions, it's not good for, you know, keeping the separation of powers, but they don't have much power to take back, you know, the-- the-- the advice and consent role. They have done a lot over--


KELSEY SNELL: --many, many, many years, if not decades, to cede power to the executive. And there are a lot of people I talked to, Republicans included, who have a lot of questions about why they did that and--


KELSEY SNELL: --you know, where they can go from here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We have to leave the conversation there, but good to talk to the three of you today.

We will be back in a moment.


WALTER CRONKITE: From Houston, Texas, in color, a special one-hour version of FACE THE NATION--the first exclusive television interview with the Apollo 11 crew who returned on Thursday from the nationwide tour celebrating their historic first steps on the Moon. Millions in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles turned out to greet the returning space pioneers.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That was Walter Cronkite anchoring our broadcast back on August 17, 1969. Almost fifty years later we are joined by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Thank you and good morning.

JIM BRIDENSTINE (NASA Administrator/@JimBridenstine): Good morning. It's great to be here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This is an incredible anniversary week for NASA.


MARGARET BRENNAN: The last man to walk on the Moon was 1972.

JIM BRIDENSTINE: Jack-- Gene Cernan, yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. You-- you get an A. Tell me, though, about your plans for Artemis, the plan to put humans back on the Moon just five years from now.

JIM BRIDENSTINE: That's right. So we want to go back to the Moon sustainably, in other words, to stay. But we also want to keep our eye on what is President Trump's goal? What is his vision? He wants to put an American flag on Mars. So we go to the Moon, so that we can learn how to live and work on another world and, ultimately, have more access to the solar system than ever before so that we can get, no kidding, to Mars. But here's, I think, the important point about Artemis, specifically. In the 1960s, we-- we love Apollo. What an amazing program, a contest of great powers. The United States of America in the Cold War and, of course, we came out on top. But I think the important thing is in those days all of our astronauts came from test pilots and fighter pilots and there were no opportunities for women. Today, under the Artemis program we have a very diverse, highly qualified astronaut corps that includes women. And Artemis, in Greek mythology, happens to be the twin sister of Apollo. So now when we go back to the Moon-- and she was the goddess of the Moon, by the way. So now when we go back to the Moon, we go with all of America. And I think that's a great message.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So the first steps in 2024 will be by women?

JIM BRIDENSTINE: That's the goal.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A female astronaut?


MARGARET BRENNAN: But all of this requires a-- a rocket that's never flown, a space capsule that hasn't flown, a lunar lander hasn't even been designed yet. Given the track record, how realistic is that five-year timeline?

JIM BRIDENSTINE: So the way I talk about this there's two risks. There's technical risk and then there's political risk. We would be on the Moon right now if it weren't for the political risk. We would be on Mars, quite frankly, by now, had it not been for the political risk. But, as you've identified, we did sixteen--

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you mean political risk? You mean funding?

JIM BRIDENSTINE: I'm talking about funding. So in the past, in the 1990s and in the early 2000s, we made efforts to go back to the Moon and on to Mars. And, in each case, the program was too long. It took too-- too long and too much money. What the President said is, in order to retire the political risk, we want to go faster. We want to go within five years. The vice president delivered a message at the National Space Council and he said, "We want to go back to the Moon within five years." Then they amended the President's budget request to give us the resources--


JIM BRIDENSTINE: --necessary to make it a reality. And that's where we are.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But then the President tweeted, "NASA should not be talking about going to the Moon. We did that fifty years ago. We should be focused on much bigger things." Is he fully onboard with what you just laid out?

JIM BRIDENSTINE: A hundred percent. I talked to him after that tweet. I wanted to make sure we were in alignment, we absolutely are. He understands, and, in fact, he said to me, I know we've got to go to the Moon to get to Mars. But he said, what is that generational achievement that will inspire all of Americans? It's putting an American flag on Mars. He said, "Make sure you're committed to the-- to the flag on Mars."

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said before you believe in science and you believe that humankind is contributing to climate change. Have you suggested some kind of major Earth initiative? What is NASA doing about the planet we are currently living on?

JIM BRIDENSTINE: So what NASA's job is is to study the Earth and every part of the electromagnetic spectrum. And we have been doing that, we continue to do that, and we share that data with the entire world and we do it for free to the entire world.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you share that with President Trump who has been a skeptic of--

JIM BRIDENSTINE: It's available--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --human contribution to climate change?

JIM BRIDENSTINE: It's-- it's available to the entire world for free. It's online. Anybody can have access to it and, of course--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Does he believe you when you lay this out to him?

JIM BRIDENSTINE: So, I'm-- I'm one agency. There are other agencies in the federal government, EPA, NOAA, others. When I talk to the President I am talking about space exploration, in general.


JIM BRIDENSTINE: But we do have a role to study the Earth and it is changing and the President is very committed to clean water and clean air. Know this: NASA is spending as much money on studying the Earth as we ever have and, of course, when you look at the comparison between what we're investing in studying the Earth and what others are investing, look at all of our partners on the International Space Station, fifteen countries--the European Space Agency, Russia, Canada, Japan. We are spending as much as the rest of them combined.

MARGARET BRENNAN: America's rivalry with the Soviet Union helped to fuel some of the initiative fifty years ago. Do you see a scenario where either China's feeling that for the United States or there is the chance to partner with China?

JIM BRIDENSTINE: So, quite frankly, at this point neither one of those. But you're right. Apollo was a contest of great powers. We were trying to demonstrate technological prowess. And the-- the goal was to demonstrate that our political system and economic system was superior. And in fact, we achieved that. But know this, we're doing amazing things. We're so far ahead of China right now it's not even a comparison.


JIM BRIDENSTINE: Just recently we had the crew drag and attach to the International Space Station. Before that we landed on the far side of Mars. For the eighth time in human history, we landed on Mars. The United States of America is the only country that's been able to achieve that.


JIM BRIDENSTINE: We're now entering orbit around Bennu. For the first time in human history doing an asteroid--


JIM BRIDENSTINE: --return mission. And then, of course, brilliant images of Pluto--


JIM BRIDENSTINE: --and that same spacecraft now four billion miles from Earth, giving us more science than ever before. We're--


JIM BRIDENSTINE: We are winning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you and we will be watching. We hope all of you will all this week on CBS. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: For some perspective on how Apollo 11 first got off the ground, we spoke earlier with presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. His new book is American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race.

(Begin VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: What did the great space race do for America?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY (American Moonshot): Oh, it lifted America's morale incredibly. You know, in the 1960s, we were mired in the Vietnam War. We had dealt with the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and then we kept thinking, can we get to the Moon? Can we fulfill John F. Kennedy's pledge?

PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY (May 25, 1961): I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: And so it was bipartisan in nature. It cost twenty-five billion dollars, that's a hundred and eighty billion in today's currency. But the American public said, let's do it, and they kept funding it via congressional appropriations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: If you try to look at it in the calculation made to get all that funding, the billions you talk about, that there were those in Congress who also said, why don't we spend this money at home, alleviate American poverty?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: There were critics of the Moonshot, many. On the right, Barry Goldwater, senator of Arizona, wanted the money to go to the U.S. Air Force. On the left, people like liberals Walter Mondale, J. William Fulbright, senators said, what you're suggesting, let's go put money into poverty programs and into schools. With that said, there was always enough appropriations and, particularly, after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Lyndon Johnson changes to Cape Canaveral to the Kennedy Space Center and we start going to the Moon to fulfill John F. Kennedy's pledge in a way to honor the martyred, slain President.

NEIL ARMSTRONG: --one giant leap for mankind.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A lot of Americans may not know the involvement of Nazi scientists in the space program and a personal relationship between Kennedy and a scientist called Wernher von Braun. Who is he?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: Well, von Braun was the great German Rocketeer of the 1920s, 1930s and he works for Adolf Hitler in World War II. He's an SS officer, and he develops vengeance weapons for Hitler. But von Braun always has an eye for the Moon and the stars. The big deal is how can you put a projectile sixty-two miles up breaking great-- Earth's gravity grip and going into outer space. And von Braun is the one who accomplishes this feat during World War II but alas, the war ends. Von Braun could be charged for war crimes for building these weapons and using Jewish slave labor to build them. And he makes a deal with the Truman administration to become part of the U.S. Army and start building missiles for the United States. And it's Wernher von Braun's Saturn V, that is Apollo 11 that brought our astronauts to the Moon.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And it was the American deal to bring those Nazi scientists to the U.S. that really irked and concerned the Soviets.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: Very much so because we-- it was the greatest technology heist--maybe in world history where suddenly we-- we had all of the Nazi rocket and missile assets. There's a moral conundrum going on here of whether we should have done this, but we did. But from 1945 to 1949, the United States had a nuclear monopoly, we were the superpower. Suddenly, under Joe Stalin, Russia had the atomic bomb and the hydrogen bomb. They put up the first intercontinental ballistic missile, the R-7. Then, October of 1957, Sputnik, the first Earth satellite. So there's a feeling in the mid-fifties that Eisenhower's asleep at the wheel and we're getting our clock cleaned by the Soviet Union. And it's out of Sputnik, that in 1958, Eisenhower creates NASA, a civilian space exploration, announces Mercury astronauts, we pick seven and then we start looking can we put an astronaut into space? And then when Kennedy is President the question is can we put a man on the moon?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Kennedy, you write, knew that there was a value to this space program beyond the technology and the dominance. He knew this was almost a made-for-TV moment.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: TV is a big part of it. One of the great things about the United States' Space Program, we had transparency. On May 5, '61, we put up Alan Shepard, Mercury astronaut from New Hampshire, only fifteen minutes up, fifteen minutes down, but he became a space hero. And Kennedy loved basking in the glory of John Glenn and Gus Grissom and Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra and they became Kennedy Space Cadets.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Kennedy even had naysayers in his own family. You write about his dad calling White House aides and saying, "Damn it, I thought Jack was better than that. We're going to go broke with this nonsense." His own father was saying what are you doing?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: Well-- and so did everybody at NASA. Kennedy suddenly going to a joint session of Congress, out of nowhere saying, we're going to the Moon, and at NASA they said, you got to be kidding me. We don't have any technology to do this. This isn't a stunt. And so Kennedy got fully behind this, it was good TV ratings. It was-- technology was what the New Frontier was about. He wanted to beat the Soviets. And he saw that the public pulling together on going to the Moon, the Apollo program.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And CBS, our network, also had its own role in this entire enterprise. Not only were CBS executives consulted in the idea of a space program and what the public reception would be but then it was a documentary that inspired President Kennedy as well.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: Absolutely. Oh, let's give Walter Cronkite a lot of credit, for one. He adopted space as his bailiwick.

WALTER CRONKITE: I am Walter Cronkite.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: Cronkite, it was unabashed that the greatest accomplishment that the United States did in his entire lifetime was Apollo 11, was going to the Moon. He was a-- he was a fanboy of NASA.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Could America rally and do something this visionary now and in a way that galvanizes people through various presidencies and keeps that commitment?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: That's what the idea of the moonshot means to people. The idea that Americans, short of war, could do something grand collectively together. There's still more than nostalgia on Apollo 11, it's a kind of a fig leaf of hope that in the coming decades the United States can once again get their act together and do big bold things like we used to do.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: You can see our full interview with Doug Brinkley on

We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow night for the debut of the CBS EVENING NEWS with Norah O'Donnell. For FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan. And we will see you right here next week.

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