Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on April 28, 2019

4/28: Face The Nation
4/28: Face The Nation 47:25

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

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. (read more) (read more)
  • Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-Louisiana (read more)
  • Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale (watch)
  • Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (watch)
  • CBS News Correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti (watch)
  • Panelists: Lanhee Chen, Jamal Simmons, Amy Walter, and Mark Landler (watch)

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

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, April 28th. I'm Margaret Brennan. And this is FACE THE NATION.

There is breaking news overnight as we've learned more about the gunman who opened fire in a synagogue in Southern California. One victim is dead, three are wounded. We'll have the latest.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Looks like a hate crime. Hard to believe. Hard to believe.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Former Vice President Joe Biden makes it official.

JOE BIDEN: We are in the battle for the soul of this nation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the name calling has already begun for the President.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Can you imagine sleepy Joe? Crazy Bernie.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Coming up this week in Washington, a tale of two committees. As Attorney General William Barr prepares to testify before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. President Trump can't seem to stop talking about the Russia investigation.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I never told Don McGahn to fire Mueller. If I wanted to fire Mueller I would have done it myself.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham says he's done with Mueller but that's not the case in the House, where Democrats are in power and the party is split on the call for impeachment proceedings to begin. We'll talk with Graham and House Judiciary Democrat Cedric Richmond. With all the focus on the twenty-one Democrats running for President, we'll look at the Trump reelection strategy with campaign manager Brad Parscale. Plus, an interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

And we'll have analysis on all the news of the week coming up on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning. And welcome to FACE THE NATION. We begin this morning with another attack at a house of worship, this time in Poway, California, outside of San Diego. CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti reports from Poway. Jonathan, what can you tell us?

JONATHAN VIGLIOTTI (CBS News Correspondent/@JonVigliotti): Good morning, Margaret. And what we know this morning, police identifying the suspect as John Earnest, a nineteen-year-old nursing student with no prior criminal history, in what is believed to be his manifesto, Earnest says he was inspired by other recent hate crimes.

(Begin VT)

JONATHAN VIGLIOTTI: Witnesses say the gunman stormed Congregation Chabad screaming anti-Semitic slurs before opening fire with a semiautomatic rifle.

MAN: Two victims from gunshot wounds.

JONATHAN VIGLIOTTI: He took the life of sixty-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye and seriously injured the temple's rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, who attempted to speak with the shooter before he fled the scene. Earnest later called 911 to turn himself in and while searching the home he shares with his parents police believe they discovered a clue to his intentions.

BILL GORE (San Diego County Sheriff): We're aware of his manifesto, which we are in the process of reviewing to determine its validity and authenticity.

JONATHAN VIGLIOTTI: The document's author calls himself a white supremacist and says he took inspiration from both last year's Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh as well as last month's New Zealand mosques mass shootings.

(End VT)

JONATHAN VIGLIOTTI: Earnest has been booked on one count murder and three counts attempted murder. He may also be charged with a hate crime. The FBI is here on scene assisting with this investigation. Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jonathan Vigliotti, thank you.

We turn now to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, South Carolina's senior Senator Lindsey Graham. Senator, good to have you here in studio.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-South Carolina/@LindseyGrahamSC/Judiciary Committee Chairman): Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We just heard about this tragic shooting. It was an AR-15-style semi-automatic weapon. Hate crimes seem to be on the rise--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --in this country. What do we need to do to combat this, prevent it?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, I think somebody interdicted the shooter, thank God, and it could have been worse, but in-- I think in California you can't buy a gun until you're twenty-one. So let's find out how this guy got the gun, what his motives were and I'm a big supporter of protective orders, allowing local law enforcement to go to a judge if there's ample evidence somebody is becoming a danger to themselves or others. About fifteen states have such laws. I'm trying to get a national grant program to incentivize states to pass laws to allow local law enforcement to go to judges to take guns out of hands of people that are showing really disturbing signs or danger signs. And I think in Parkland that would have made a big difference, here I don't know.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we'll continue to follow the details as we learn more about what happened there, but I want to talk about what you are preparing for this week.


MARGARET BRENNAN:  Attorney General Barr will be answering questions for the first time really in detail about the Mueller Report. I know you've said you're done with it.


MARGARET BRENNAN: But what is it that you're going to try to focus in on with this hearing?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, he gave a four-page summary. Does the report support his summary? Does the report actually indicate there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians? I think the idea that this President obstructed justice is absurd. He turned over a million documents to the special counsel. Almost everybody around him testified. I can't think of one thing that President Trump did to stop Mueller from doing his job. He never claimed executive privilege. From my point of view I've heard all I need to really know. Now I want to look at it and find out how all this happened.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But on that point of attempting to obstruct justice or not--


MARGARET BRENNAN: the President seems to want to continue to litigate this because he came out this week and said--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --and denied that he had ever thought or told anyone--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --to fire Don McGahn, the White House counsel. But that directly contradicts sworn testimony--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --that was in the Mueller Report, where Don McGahn said he almost quit--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --he was so pressured to fire the special counsel.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Who do you believe?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I-- I think it's just all theater. It doesn't matter. I don't care what he said to Don McGahn. It's what he did. And the President never obstructed--

MARGARET BRENNAN: It doesn't matter to you--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --that the President is changing a version of events that perhaps some would say, lying.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: If you're going to-- if you're going to look at every President who pops off at his staff and, you know, ask him to do something that's maybe crazy, then we won't have any Presidents.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But in terms of the firing this was Don McGahn, the White House counsel, being pressured to fire the special counsel.





SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I don't care what they talked about. He didn't do anything. The point is the President did not impede Mueller from doing his investigation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And it doesn't--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --trouble you that the President is changing his version of events?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I don't-- I don't care what happened between him and Don McGahn. Here's what I care about. Did Mueller-- was Mueller allowed to do his job? And the answer is yes. Name one thing that they did to stop Mueller from doing his job, and if you can't then there's no obstruction.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Will you call McGahn to testify?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Not me? No. No, I'm-- I'm done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What about the special counsel?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I'm not going to re-litigate it. I don't know how clear I can be, Margaret. It's over for me. He didn't collude with the Russians, obstruction of justice in this situation is absurd. I fought hard as hell to make sure Mueller could do his job; I introduced legislation to make sure he couldn't be fired. It's over.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But in terms of this report it was not just the obstruction of justice that you seem to be saying you're over. All the details in here about Russia and what they tried to do, what they did succeed at doing in terms of--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --accessing computer systems.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --different conversation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Isn't that worth--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: A hundred percent.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --a-- a conversation? I mean, Senator Marco Rubio came out and said this week he went as far as to say that they had the ability; they were in a position to alter Florida voter rolls back in 2016.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I-- I think that-- that's the point. There's two things I'm going to look at: what did they do, and are they trying to do it again, and how do we stop them. I think that's something we all need to focus on. And how did this start. How could--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is the President focused on that enough, on that--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah. He's got a good team around him--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --doing it again, the threat?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah. No, he's got a good team around him to make sure we harden our infrastructure. But what Marco said was a bit stunning I've never heard that before. So what I want to do is make sure that Intel and Judiciary and Homeland Security, the three committees are working together to harden the infrastructure against Russia or anybody else interfering in 2020. And Russia is still up to it. So the takeaway for me is that they were very involved in the 2016 election. They're coming at us again. I'd like to stop them. And one way to stop them is to make them pay a price.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking about this with a level of seriousness that we did not hear from Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the President. I want to play for you some sound when he was speaking this week about the Russia probe when he said it was actually more damaging to have the Mueller investigation. Listen to what he said.

JARED KUSHNER (Tuesday/TIME): Quite frankly, the whole thing's just a big distraction for the country. And you look at, you know, what Russia did--you know, buying some Facebook ads to try to sow dissent and do it, and it's a terrible thing. But I think the investigations, and-- and all of the-- the speculation that's happened for the last two years, has had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple of Facebook ads. Now if you look at the magnitude of what they did and what they accomplished I think the ensuing investigations have been way more harmful to our country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is he minimizing the threat to national security?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, I like Jared a lot, but he is leaving out a big detail: the Russians hacked into John Podesta's e-mails, the campaign manager for the Democratic candidate for President. The Russians hacked into Hillary Clinton's e-mails, the candidate for the Democratic Party. Can you imagine what we would be saying if the Russians or the Iranians hacked into the presidential team of the Republican Party? So, no, this is a big deal. It's not just a few Facebook ads. They were very successful in pitting one American against the other during the 2016 campaign by manipulating social media and they actually got into the campaign e-mail system of the Democratic Party. An attack on one party should be an attack on all. The Russians are up to it again. And here's what I tell President Trump: Everything we've done with the Russians is not working. We need more sanctions not less.

MARGARET BRENNAN: More sanctions, now?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Now. Before 2020. Because, clearly, they don't have the message.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I also want to ask you about some of the remarks you have made in the past because we know as Democrats start talking about the details of the Mueller Report, combing through it and already calling for impeachment proceedings to begin against the President of the United States. Here's what you said back in January of 1999 when you were helping to lead the impeachment of President Clinton.

REPRESENTATIVE LINDSEY GRAHAM (January 16, 1999): The point I am trying to make is you don't even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic, if this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role. Thank God you did that because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I was a lot younger.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it sounds like some of what you are characterizing here, saying everything in the Mueller report, it may not be great but it doesn't reach the level of being able to prosecute.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well a high crime--

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's different from what you described there, which was to say behavior of a President--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --the cleansing of an office--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --is important.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: It's got to be a higher crime a misdemeanor not defined by the prosecution team but by a political body called the House of Representatives approved by the Senate. So there was an article of impeachment against President Clinton for lying under oath about having sex with Monica Lewinsky. I voted against that because I believe a lot of people would lie to protect their family if they were blindsided about an affair. So I didn't want that to become a higher crime or misdemeanor. What President Clinton did was interfere in a lawsuit against him by Paula Jones and others; hide the evidence; encourage people to lie. So to me he took the legal system and turned it upside down. But it doesn't have to technically be a crime. What President Trump did here was completely cooperate in an investigation, a million documents, let everybody that the special counsel wanted to talk to be interviewed. Don McGahn was interviewed for thirty hours. I believe the President did nothing wrong. Whether you like him or not I'll leave that up to you but this--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But even the pressuring Don McGahn--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --to fire the special counsel. He may not have done it.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: See that-- Okay, if you're going to let that be the standard of impeachment, that you have an interaction between a White House counsel and a president that-- that you find uncomfortable then we'll have nobody served. So here's the deal for me: you actually have to do something. Bill Clinton lost his law-- law license five years because he did something. But to my Democratic friends, if you agree with the 1999 statement I made--


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --you think this office needs to be cleansed, impeach him. It's up to you. If you think Donald Trump deserves to be impeached then impeach him. I don't.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Quickly, before you go, I want to ask you about your old friend Joe Biden--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --the vice president throwing his hat into the ring, President Trump seeming to suggest he's too old. What do you think?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, yeah, that's up to the voters to decide. I think President Trump is very vibrant. And I know Joe-- Joe Biden. If you travel with Joe Biden, you won't think he's too old. Here's the problem for Joe. Does he fit into the Democratic Party of 2020? I don't know; he's a good man. I like him a lot. I disagree with him on-- on policy. I hope he doesn't apologize for the life he's led because he's led a good life. But if he starts apologizing for all the policy positions and decisions he's made throughout his life that will be disappointing. I don't know how he fits in this party but I do know this:


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: He's a good man and he would be a strong candidate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Graham, thank you.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Louisiana Democrat Cedric Richmond. He sits on the House Judiciary Committee and supports former Vice President Joe Biden. He joins us this morning from New Orleans. Good morning to you. Before we get to those issues I want to quickly ask you about the shooting in California. These hate crimes are on a rise in this country. This shooter self-identified as a white supremacist. What should be done to combat this?

REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-Louisiana/RepRichmond): Look, first of all, my prayers and thoughts goes out to the family, and it's just a reminder that our words as leaders in this country have dire consequences. So whether we're talking about the Steve Scalise shooting, whether we're talking about Gabby Giffords, whether we're talking about Parkland or we're talking about Tree of Life, it's our responsibility to deal with it. We've been calling on not only to Judiciary Committee in past years but Homeland Security Committee also to deal with the rise in hate crimes, especially under this President. We just held a hearing in Judiciary where we talked about the issue, and I think that the rhetoric plays a part in it; the access to high capacity assault weapons plays a part in it. And I think we just have to do better as a country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You were one of the firsts to come out and to endorse the former Vice President Joe Biden, for President. I'm curious as to why you think that at this moment in time he is the right Democrat to unify the party and to represent it at a time when many are calling for generational change or just for the candidate to represent the country in a more diverse fashion. Why do you think he can do that?

REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: Well, one, I look at his entire body of work; two, if you look at the video that he released and you can see the passion, you can see the reason why he's running and that's because we live in a country that we don't recognize. We live in a country where people are working harder and they owe more. We live in a country where people don't have the access to achieve their wildest dreams and for their children to reach economic dignity and their parents to live out their lives with economic dignity, respect, and-- and independence, so we're fighting for the soul of the country. And one thing I learned in politics very early: you can't govern if you can't win. And I believe Joe Biden, one, is the best person to represent the Democratic Party, but I think he's the best person to win.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Lindsey Graham was on this program as you heard, and he called it absolutely absurd to accuse the President of obstruction of justice. He says this is a closed matter. You possibly will get to ask questions of Attorney General Barr this week. Is it a closed matter for you?

REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: Absolutely not. This President has attempted to collude, if that's the word he wants to use. He has attempted to obstruct justice at the least. At the worst, he's obstructed justice and I believe that it is the Judiciary Committee's responsibility to dig into it. Now, Senator Graham points to President Clinton who sat down, put his hand on a Bible, took an oath, and testified under oath. This President did not do that and it's clear why he didn't do that. His counsel has said over and over again, they just don't believe in his ability to tell the truth.


REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: And we see that during his presidency, so you can't compare this to other reports or other hearings or other impeachment process. We have not heard from this President under oath. So the best person we can hear from is Attorney General Barr to find out why, one, his summary, a CliffNotes version was so different from the facts and, two, why won't he just release the unredacted report?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said though that to move forward with impeachment proceedings it needs to be bipartisan. You haven't seen a single Republican come out and say that they would support an impeachment. So is this a closed matter for you? Do you personally think impeachment should be considered?

REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: I think it should. I think it's the best way to get all of the facts out. I also believe that at some point we have to hear from this President whether he's lying to us or not. We need to hear from him under oath. But, look, my sole focus right now is to make sure that he's not the President next term. And what we do this term we need to, one, learn from the facts what Russia did, make sure that the President has not obstructed justice. But, more importantly, we need to make sure that he does not win re-election and that's part of the reason why I'm here is because I'm supporting Vice President Joe Biden to beat him.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And to be clear you support impeachment now?

REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: Look, it's Chairman Nadler's decision how far we go with impeachment. I would just tell you I'm comfortable going either way. I am a lawyer by trade. I am very concerned about this President's fitness for office. I am very concerned about the crimes that I believe that--


REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: --he has committed or that the report certainly suggests that he has committed.


REPRESENTATIVE CEDRIC RICHMOND: So I'm fine going either way but my goal is for him not to be President next term.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman.

We will be back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Most of the focus on Campaign 2020 so far has been on the very crowded field of Democrats running for the right to face President Trump next fall. We thought we'd take a look at the campaign operation on the Republican side, which kicked off the very day he was inaugurated. Brad Parscale is the President's campaign manager and joins us. Welcome to FACE THE NATION.

BRAD PARSCALE (Trump Campaign Manager/@parscale): Yeah. Thanks for having me. It's my first time here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You've got kind of an unusual resume. You know a background in the digital space, in marketing. You had no political experience up until 2016--

BRAD PARSCALE: Really. Other being an American.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --but then you became a campaign manager this time around--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --so is this really about marketing? Is that what political campaigns are about these days?

BRAD PARSCALE: Running a re-election is a lot about marketing, advertising, understanding data and analytics, building out, you know foundational structures to understand the President's message and how to deliver it. There's considerable things that come from just understanding how to build out the infrastructure to be able to communicate with millions and tens of millions of people and-- and how to effectively spend five, six hundred million dollars.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Five or six hundred--

BRAD PARSCALE: Minimum, minimum.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Minimum. I heard you say at one point up to a billion.

BRAD PARSCALE: It could but that's-- I'm talking about all the infrastructures like, you know, the Republican Party's going to spend money, outside groups will spend money. We've already raised over a hundred and fifty million, I believe, at this point, and we still got a long-- nineteen months to go.


BRAD PARSCALE: Small dollars.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Small dollar donors?

BRAD PARSCALE: Ninety-five percent of all of our money comes in through small dollars. One nice thing about small-dollar donations is it lets people connect and-- and-- and know they're buying into-- into the movement. Our prospecting numbers now are-- are numbers people have never seen before. You know I-- I hope to have forty, fifty million people direct contacts by Election Day--

MARGARET BRENNAN: What does that mean direct contacts?

BRAD PARSCALE: So every campaign tries to go out and generate data. How-- how do I connect to you by cell phone? How do I connect you by e-mail, so that I don't have to run an advertisement and pay CBS to get to you. I can just contact you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's e-mail addresses, that's cell phones--

BRAD PARSCALE: Cell phone numbers. We'll have-- right now we're already passing thirty-some million, and we're-- we're on course by-- go to forty, fifty million, which is almost every voter that will vote for us for presidency, I can just call them or e-mail them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So explain how that fits into the digital strategy. That means I'm-- I'm sitting in rural Iowa. You want me to vote for President Trump. Are you targeting me specifically?

BRAD PARSCALE: Yeah. So what I do right--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're changing your message based on where someone is--

BRAD PARSCALE: Think about it-- I can go across America and say, hey, here's a voter in Minnesota that if I know if I get, you know, twenty-six thousand of these perfect people to show up that didn't show up last time, I can flip that state. So what I do, go find them now. We're spending millions of dollars a month, light years ahead of any can-- campaign in history, to build the foundation of who we need to market to, what we need to understand, what we need to say to them and how to exactly deliver to them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Where? Where are you most focused? What battlegrounds?

BRAD PARSCALE: Well, there's some key states. Obviously, we have to go back and win Michigan again, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. We plan on also being in Minnesota very soon. I think New Mexico is in play in 2020. I think New Hampshire, I-- I think we continue to grow the map. I think Nevada, you know even Colorado. And so those are-- those are states we did not win in-- in 2016 that I think are open for 2020.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the idea in the past, as you brought up TV ads, is the traditional way or has been, or rallies, where you have someone going out and having face-to-face or door-to-door contact. Like, how much of the ground game is still part of the strategy for you now?

BRAD PARSCALE: Oh, it's a huge amount. So, we're still building one of largest ground games in history. So I'll give you some numbers. In 2016 we had seven hundred thousand-- about volunteers. We plan on 1.6 million volunteers for 2020 connected--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that's people going door to door--

BRAD PARSCALE: --connected. Well, all different kinds of things. So we will be connected through technology on your phone, through apps and other development and different things. Some people might just hold block parties. Some people might be engaging on social media. Some people might be going knocking door to door. In every single metric we're looking at being bigger, better, and badder than we were in 2016. And we'll-- but this time we're not out there trying to prove we can do something, the President's proved he has done it and now we just have to deliver what he has done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll have more of our interview with Brad Parscale in a moment. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: CBS News will have live coverage of Attorney General William Barr's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee this Wednesday. Plus, we'll have full coverage on all of our CBS News platforms, including digital network CBSN. We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Some of our stations are leaving us now but we will be right back with more of our interview with Brad Parscale, our political panel and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We continue our conversation with President Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale.

Around the time of the shutdown, the thirty-five-day shutdown we went through, there were fund-raising ads going out to supporters saying you know, send a brick to Nancy.

BRAD PARSCALE (Trump Campaign Manager/@parscale): Yeah, I loved that idea.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Nancy being Speaker of the House, of course.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And-- and this was a way to raise funds.


MARGARET BRENNAN: How successful was it-- a campaign like that?

BRAD PARSCALE: Oh that one was great. That was, you know, a campaign like that could raise three-four million dollars, you know--

MARGARET BRENNAN: From these small-dollar donors?

BRAD PARSCALE: Oh, from small-dollar donors. You know they want to--

MARGARET BRENNAN: How does that work?

BRAD PARSCALE: Well, they want to be part of an activity. They want-- they want to be involved. And this is a way that they got to-- to buy a foam brick and-- and get it labeled with their name and sent to Nancy Pelosi's office and say you know build the wall. You know it's a-- it's a way for them somewhere in the middle of Nebraska who's you know so far from the system but wants to be involved. This is a way for them to put twenty-five, forty-five dollars and say, look, I want to make a difference. We do that with T-shirts, we do that with hats. We've sold-- we're closing in on selling our one millionth red MAGA hat, you know, you know those are forty-five bucks a piece, you know. You do the math they're really quick, it's forty-five million dollars. So those-- those kind of things that this President has-- has changed the game in way merchandise, rallies, the entire experience of being part of the political-- political movement, he-- he's changed it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But beyond the branding, the value to you campaign-wise is that you retain--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --that information.

PARSCALE: I retain-- I retain information, and we get to keep-- we get to keep the net-- net proceeds.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But I'm curious, how does that affect the messaging. I mean if these are people who feel motivated enough or want to be activist enough--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --to give on the particular issue, is the President changing his messaging to match that?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Or is his, you know, agenda, driven by the White House issues?

BRAD PARSCALE: No. So you're-- you're-- you're kind of twisting that a little bit. The--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well explain it.

BRAD PARSCALE: So what happens is the President sets his policies. These are what they are. Now, those policies are-- have a range of things. One person at, you know, 1300 Elm Street could really care about immigration. But at 1305 Elm Street, they could really care about tariff policy. Now that doesn't mean we're changing what the President's message is to them. We are showing them the part of the message that's right for them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And how much can you actually know about someone based on a text they've sent. I mean do you know how they voted in the past or--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --what motivated them last time?

BRAD PARSCALE: So-- so the Republican Party built this thing called the Data Trust. One of the largest databases in the world to understand what people are and can now provide over to me a universe of people attached in the social media and/or possibly by text message or different ways and say, "Hey, these are the people that are staying in the criteria you're speaking about."

MARGARET BRENNAN: How many rallies are we going to see President Trump out there doing?


MARGARET BRENNAN: How involved is he in some of these decisions on messaging?

BRAD PARSCALE: So I always explain it like this. He is the captain of the ship. He is-- he is the-- he is the engineer of the Trump train. He is the campaign manager, the communications manager, the finance director, coalitions director, all things. My job is to be the Trump conductor. My job is to keep the cars together, keep them running on time get them to the place they need to go.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're a disruptor. The President also likes championing that, but you're talking out at people like, Karl Rove, a Bush adviser.


MARGARET BRENNAN: So since-- since you've come to Washington so to speak--

BRAD PARSCALE: Well, that's not-- I've-- I--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --has that changed you?

BRAD PARSCALE: Yes, it's changed me. I have a lot less faith in the system. You really don't understand how swampy it is until you get here. I think as a disruptor though, yes, in history, you know, I think that those who don't understand history are due to repeat it in a positive or negative way. And for me not to understand what every predecessor of mine did and what they understood and how they thought regardless of the technology of the time would be doing a disservice to my boss.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So-- so, do you coordinate with Karl Rove?

BRAD PARSCALE: It's not a coordination. It's a learning process. Hey, what did you do? Tell me your stories. What were the worst moments you had? What were the best moments? If you did it over again, what do you think you would do? What, how would you handle this situation? You know, education, there's not a lot of people running around that have won elections--


BRAD PARSCALE: --on the Republican side or the Democratic side. I mean the last guy to win a re-election is Karl Rove and Mehlman in 2004 for Republican. And before that it was Reagan that won a re-election. So it's not like, there's a club you can go to and there's just--


BRAD PARSCALE: --all these reelecting winning campaign managers.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So they're telling you how to build out a ground game?

BRAD PARSCALE: So, no-- not-- talking-- now-- now you're saying that. I'm asking them for historical contexts. You know, they don't know what I know and some things I don't know what they know, but they've had to live through it. And-- and Karl's given me some great things, afterwards said, you know what, if I did it again I would have done this, or I wouldn't have done that. And hindsight is a great weapon to have when you're up in front of it again.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you like the establishment, but sometimes?

BRAD PARSCALE: I don't like the establishment. I like the diversity of knowledge, and I'm going to use all that I can to help get President Trump re-elected again in 2020.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Brad Parscale, thank you for joining us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with our political panel.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We now turn to our political panel for some analysis. Jamal Simmons is a Democratic strategist and host on Hill.TV, Lanhee Chen is a policy expert and fellow at the Hoover Institution, Amy Walter is the national editor of The Cook Political Report and Mark Landler covers the White House and foreign policy for The New York Times. Congrats to you on going to London. I understand you're going to be the new London bureau chief.

MARK LANDLER (The New York Times/@MarkLandler): Margaret, thank you. Invite me back. I'll talk all about Prince Harry.

JAMAL SIMMONS (Hill.TV/@JamalSimmons): Don't forget about Meghan Markle.


MARK LANDLER: That's like a-- he is the star in that equations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We-- we do hope to have you back at this table. I want to start us off on this launch this week, it happened, Joe Biden made it official. We've been talking about it for so-- so long. But he chose an interesting way to say what inspired him. I want to play for you some of his ad.

JOE BIDEN (campaign video): And that's when we heard the words of the President of the United States that stunned the world and shocked the conscience of this nation. He said there were, quote, "some very fine people on both sides." Very fine people on both sides? With those words, the President of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it. And in that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (Friday): I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general. Whether you like it or not, he was one of the great generals.


AMY WALTER (Cook Political Report/@amyewalter/The Takeaway): Where do we go with this?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Where do we go with this? Why re-litigate Charlottesville? And in-- in term-- on the President's response there, but also is this the right way to launch a campaign?

AMY WALTER: Right. Is this where the Democratic Party should be focused right now? It's pretty clear this--

MARGARET BRENNAN: To use this painful moment in a political way.

AMY WALTER: Yeah. I mean it's pretty clear that from that video we've got a couple of things that we understand about Joe Biden. One, unlike other people in this race Joe Biden is only running because Donald Trump is President. I think regardless if it were President Ted Cruz in office, Bernie Sanders would be running, Elizabeth Warren would probably be running, those folks are running much more as revolutionary candidates who believe that the system itself is broken and needs to be fixed. What Biden is saying is the system isn't broken it's the person in charge of the system who is broken. So I'm going to bring back some normalcy, I'm going to bring us back to what we thought were agreed on American values, that you don't say of people who show up at a rally of-- with not white nationalists that that's okay. But you are right. Then we are getting back into the fight where the President really loves to play, which is really debate over, who has the values of America? Who is-- what are the cultural touchstones that relate more to-- to voters? And that's where Democrats are-- they have tried this. Hillary Clinton tried it. It was not as successful. The-- the challenge for the President-- I'm-- I am sorry, the challenge for the vice president is to be able to make the transition to the next piece of this, which is, who is going to keep America moving forward, especially on economics? Who has the answer for the middle class? That's what, apparently, he is going to be doing in these next couple of days as he goes to Pennsylvania and-- and lays that out.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jamal, what do you think as a Democratic strategist, using this as a motivating principle?

JAMAL SIMMONS: Oh, I think it is the right thing. I think a lot of Democrats agree that the-- what the President is doing is giving-- President Trump is doing is giving aid and comfort-- cultural-- cultural aid and comfort to white nationalists, and that is something that a lot of Democrats and a lot of Americans who are not Democrats are very uncomfortable with. So the framing of that is right. Vice president got off to a strong start. He raised a lot of money. He put a good team in place. I think a lot of Democrats feel more comfortable about that. The question for the vice president-- for Vice President Biden is a lot of Democrats aren't just looking for a change in management. They are looking for a change in direction.


JAMAL SIMMONS: And the idea that we're going to go back--he said at one point that he wanted to go, tell America's allies that America is coming back, the-- the America they knew is coming back. You know for a lot of Democrats, they don't think the America we knew is that great of a place. There was still all the economic strife and a lot of that is what produced Donald Trump. So the question is not about taking America back to something but where are we going forward with America? And I think if Vice President Biden can capture that voice he could be a strong Democratic candidate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I think you called it revelation-- revolution versus restoration. Lanhee, what do you think about the President here? Amy suggests that in some ways Biden is playing to the President's strength or at least a tool he likes to use.

LANHEE CHEN (Hoover Institution/@lanheechen): I think he is. I think the President really understands his base, I think, in a way that few Presidents have understood the base electorate that supports them. Successful presidential campaigns are when the person meets the moment. And the question for Joe Biden is he the right person for the moment we are in?


LANHEE CHEN: I think that's the question everyone is asking. He is a decidedly twentieth century candidate in a twenty-first century campaign. And I think the big question is going to be, you know, this launch I think was splashy for the message, but is he going to stay on that message? Is he really going to come to this middle-class economics question? A hard thing to do when you've got a 3.2 percent growth rate--


LANHEE CHEN: --low unemployment and people feel that this-- that the-- the strains of economic anxiety some of them are still there, but by and large the economy has done well. So I think the vice president, Vice President Biden, is going to have to figure out does he stay on this track of sort of continuing to be provocative or does he come back to these bread-and-butter economic issues? And I think that's going to be a much more difficult challenge for him than he thinks.

JAMAL SIMMONS: Except I do have to say there are a lot of Americans who are-- while they may have jobs, they have jobs making less money than they made before. I am from Michigan, where autoworkers used to make thirty, forty dollars an hour and now they start at eighteen, twenty-two dollars an hour, that is real money for people. And so I think there are-- we do have full employment. But it's full employment at what wage?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. Mark, when you heard the President even just at this rally yesterday, which he attended rather than go to the Correspondents' Dinner here in Washington, he continues to return to the-- the familiar messages of immigration, but also the economy. I mean the economy seems to be the thing that the Republicans are most confident about. And that he wants to run on here. So is there a way for Democrats to puncture that?

MARK LANDLER: Well, I think Lanhee got at that. That's going to be the quandary for Democrats. The-- the most recent economic number that came out late last week was really strong.


MARK LANDLER: And I think it put to bed the idea that this is an economy on the cusp of a slowdown or perhaps even a recession. I think six months ago, a lot of Democrats thought that that's the election they were going to be running into. And that once you puncture the myth that Trump has a winging-- winning economy, then all his other flaws become far more apparent. Now it looks like he may, in fact, continue to run with a strong economy. And I think that makes the Democratic challenge a great deal harder. And I think that's why it was interesting last night at the rally. He could have gone a number of different ways, at previous rallies that coincided with the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. He's been very anti-press. He's-- he's really given a very red meat speech. This by Trump standards was actually less red meat than we've seen and more focused on the economic record. He really went through it very methodically, very systematically and I think that's because they recognize they have a fairly strong case to make.

AMY WALTER: I mean not to bring up bad memories, Lanhee, from 2012-- sorry, from the Romney campaign--

LANHEE CHEN: Many, many bad memories.

AMY WALTER: But I do remember that was the-- the case that the Romney campaign made throughout 2012 was don't focus on the President himself and his-- what he's doing as President, focus on the economy, the economy, the economy. And it was true when you looked at President Obama's record in terms of his job approval rating on the economy, much lower than his overall job approval rating, right? So, of course, focus on the thing that he's weakest on.


AMY WALTER: But what we found was that, and this happened with George W. Bush as well, the overall approval rating of the President, how people feel about the President was more important in terms of its sort of predictive value than how they felt the-- the person was doing handling the economy. This President is completely different. His overall approval rating how people feel about him as President has always consistently been eight, nine points lower than his handling of the economy. And so, you know, voters they-- we're humans, we go into the voting booth, there are a whole bunch of conflicting things going on in our minds. The economy in and of itself is one piece, but it is not the only thing that voters use to evaluate whether they want to see this person spending--


AMY WALTER: --another four years in the Oval Office.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mark, one of the things that we haven't heard really any of the Democratic candidates do is explain their vision for America's role in the world. Many of them have, though, signed on to, oh, we'll reinstate the Iran nuclear deal, at least on that one specific issue how important is it that we start to hear about this on the campaign trail?

MARK LANDLER: Well, I-- I think we can stipulate that in primaries except in years where the country is truly at war in-- during the Iraq war, for example, foreign policy is generally not a driving issue. It can be a driving issue in a general election but again not every time, once in a while. I think the interesting thing that the Trump administration does, though, is it-- it actually puts Democrats in a little bit of an awkward position on foreign policy, because some of the issues that President Trump has tended and positions he's tended to take actually resonate with Democrats, staying out of foreign conflicts, endless foreign wars. The trade policy again is quite resonant with some significant portion of the Democratic base. So I think if you're a Democratic candidate and you're squaring off against President Trump, the old arguments Democrats used to make about Republicans, don't really apply. And I think they need to find a language that sort of matches up well with America first, with free and fair and reciprocal trade agreements. This is language that the Democratic foreign policy elite recoils at, but voters may actually appeal-- may actually appeal to voters and not just only Republican voters.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Here's what President Trump said is Joe Biden's vulnerability.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I'm so young, I can't believe it. I'm the youngest person. I am a young, vibrant man. I look at Joe, I don't know about him. I don't know.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Seventy-two-year-old President, seventy-six-year-old vice president, Joe Biden, seventy-seven-year-old Bernie Sanders.


MARGARET BRENNAN: This is not generational change.

JAMAL SIMMONS: This is not generational change. And it may not be the country's really interested in generational change but, again, they're interested in something that's about a change in direction.


JAMAL SIMMONS: You know, we talked about this-- this foreign policy question that Mark was just mentioning, but it's built on a house of tissue paper because Donald Trump's fundamental problem here is that people just don't really know when to trust him. This is another example. He just said I'm young. It's very-- he could have just left it at I'm vibrant and he might have been okay. But-- but the problem is they lie even when the truth is a pretty decent thing.

LANHEE CHEN: Yeah. You know--

MARGARET BRENNAN: We-- we do have to leave it there. I'm so sorry, Lanhee. But we'd want to have you back for further conversation.

In a moment, we'll return with our interview with Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Tensions have been high between the U.S. and Iran since President Trump quit the Iran nuclear deal. In the past weeks they've climbed even higher. The U.S. labeled Iran's military a terrorist organization and demanded other countries stop purchasing its oil. We sat down with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

(Begin VT)

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF (Iranian Foreign Minister/@JZarif): We do not want conflict. We resist. But we're not seeking confrontation. We don't believe that President Trump wants confrontation. But, we know that there are people who are pushing for one.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Military confrontation you don't think will happen--

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: I don't think military confrontation will happen. I think people have more prudence than allowing a military confrontation to happen. But, I think the U.S. administration is putting things in place for accidents to happen. And there has to be extreme vigilance, so that people who are planning this type of accident would not have their way. Interests--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Who's doing that?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: My 'B' team. I call--

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you mean 'B' team?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Ambassador Bolton, one 'B,' Bibi Netanyahu, second 'B,' Bin Zayed, third 'B,' Bin Salman, fourth 'B.' These people want confrontation, and I believe it is important for the prudent people for the grown-ups to prevent confrontation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When you and I sat down and spoke, just a year or more ago, you said that your president refused to meet with President Trump here in New York. Do you regret that now?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think--

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: We cannot meet somebody who is not respectful, who has violated his country's international obligations, who has withdrawn from agreements. We have hundred and fifty pages of carefully negotiated agreement, a multilateral agreement endorsed by the Security Council, where the United States is a permanent member. So if-- if the United States does not respect that, what would it respect?

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Trump administration, as we mentioned, is ramping up pressure. This designation of the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization is going to squeeze Iran's already troubled economy even further. What is the impact going to be if this happens and as the U.S. says May 2nd's the deadline for the rest of the world to stop buying Iran's oil?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Well, it will show to the Iranian people that the United States is not worthy of being a negotiating partner. That's what it will prove. It depends on whether Europe, as well as other members of the JCPOA, want to leave their destiny in the hands of an administration that does not respect its words. We will survive. We have survived tougher days.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The secretary of state has said, look, if you just look at the facts on the ground: six hundred and three American service people killed by Iran, he attributes this, and that IEDs have maimed American service people in the battlefields. He looks at that-- he looks at what's happening in Syria and Yemen and says, look, we're just recognizing facts. That's his explanation for this designation.

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Well, he's wrong. He's wrong because they have aligned themselves with the wrong people in our region. And they cannot accept that they're suffering defeat because they simply chose the wrong side.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking about--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --what's happening in Syria.

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: They-- everywhere. They have spent far more money than anybody else. Seven trillion dollars, according to President Trump.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When I spoke with President Trump in February he said that he was going to keep U.S. troops in Iraq to watch Iran.


MARGARET BRENNAN: What did you make of that?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: --immediately heard from the Iraqis that that is not how they see the presence of U.S. forces.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did you hear that as a threat?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: You see, I went to Iraq. I stayed in Iraq for five days. I went to five cities. I went among the people of Iraq, and I was welcomed by them. I went to public places. President Trump flew to Iraq, to a military base and left from the same military base within hours in the dark of night. Our president went to Iraq, stayed there for three days, went to public meetings in three Iraqi cities. Now, you tell me who's welcome in Iraq and who's not.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did you hear that as a threat from the President?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: I think the Iraqis heard that as a threat from the President.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The secretary of state when he was testifying before Congress, specifically, said that there is absolutely no doubt that there are ties between Iran and al Qaeda. Full stop. It brought up this question of whether the U.S. is going to try to use some kind of authorization for military force to strike Iran on the basis of past support for that kind of terrorism.

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: Well, last I remember, fifteen of the twenty-one 9/11 terrorists were Saudi citizens. None were Iranian.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're not concerned that the U.S. is looking--

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: I'm-- I'm concerned about--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --for the possibility of how to strike Iran.

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: I'm-- I'm-- I'm concerned about hidden agendas that some people are following. I know that President Trump had ran on a campaign promise of not engaging in anymore foolish wars. I know that some other people have different agendas.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Our full interview with Foreign Minister Zarif is available on our website at FaceTheNation.com.


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