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Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on December 8, 2019

12/8: Face The Nation
12/8: Adam Schiff, Mark Meadows, Robert O'Brien 46:52

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

  • Rep. Adam Schiff, Intelligence Committee Chair, @RepAdamSchiff
  • Rep. Mark Meadows, R - North Carolina, @RepMarkMeadows
  • Robert O'Brien, National Security Adviser
  • Neal Katyal, "Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump", @neal_katyal
  • Josh Holmes, Republican Commentator, @HolmesJosh
  • Julie Pace, The Associated Press, @jpaceDC
  • Adam Entous, The New Yorker @adamentous
  • Ed O'Keefe, CBS News Political Correspondent, @edokeefe

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

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington. This week on FACE THE NATION, as President Trump's impeachment in the Democratic-led House appears inevitable, he looks to the Republican-held Senate as his chance to get a, quote, "fair shake." Meanwhile, tensions rise between the U.S. and its adversaries and relations turn chilly with some of our allies.

Midweek Speaker Pelosi officially announced the worst kept secret in Washington.

NANCY PELOSI: Facts and the constitution give us no choice but to impeach, move forward with impeachment of the President.

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Trump has given up on mounting an impeachment defense in the House but is preparing for a fight in the Senate.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: (INDISTINCT) Mister President, I have good news. What's the good news? Tell me, I need good some news. I got people trying to impeach me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But most members of Congress including Speaker Nancy Pelosi don't see the impeachment battle as a laughing matter.

MAN: Do you hate the President, Madam Speaker?

NANCY PELOSI: And as catholic, I resent your using the word "hate" in a sentence that addresses me. I don't hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is a heart full of love, and always pray for the President. And I still pray for the President. I pray for the President all the time. So don't mess with me when it comes to words like that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll talk with the chairman of the Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff. And we'll hear from a key defender of Mister Trump, Congressman Mark Meadows.

Then, the President's visit to London for a meeting of NATO allies results in some awkward photo opens and embarrassing hot mic moments prompting the President to call one ally two-faced.

Plus, a new threat from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un leads to the resurrection of an old nickname.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We'll see what happens. He likes sending rockets up, doesn't he? That's why I call him Rocket Man.

MARGARET BRENNAN: White House National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien will weigh in on the renewed hostility.

All that and more is just ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. Tomorrow the House Judiciary Committee will hold another hearing as they write articles of impeachment against President Trump. Democrats are hoping to move quickly with full House debate on the articles and a vote by the Christmas holiday. We begin this morning with the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. He joins us from Burbank. Good morning to you, Chairman.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (D-California/@RepAdamSchiff/Intelligence Committee Chairman): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Before we get to impeachment, I want to ask you about this developing story out of Pensacola, Florida, where a member of the Saudi military gunned down three Americans, wounded eight. Is there an indication of motive? Was this terrorism?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: We've gotten an initial briefing on it, and it really is too early to say. We grieve, obviously, for the families of those who were lost. And we're going to press Saudi Arabia to do a full investigation on their end, even as we do one on ours. And I wish the President of the United States, rather than trying to speak for the Saudi government, were pressing the Saudi government for answers. But we're going to make sure that we not only get to the full truth here, but also that we review whatever protocols we have in place for the selection of people that participate in these military training programs both here and abroad, so that this kind of insider attack never occurs again.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we'll be talking about that more with the national security adviser ahead on the program. But I want to switch to impeachment with you. There are already drafts of impeachment articles. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, has indicated that you could see abuse of power, obstruction among them. What are you looking for? What should we expect these articles to be defined as?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, we have weighed in all the chairs with Chairman Nadler and his staff as to what we think would be appropriate in this set of articles. I can't go into those particular discussions, but I can tell you as a former prosecutor, it's always been, you know, my strategy in a charging decision, and an impeachment in the House is essentially a charging decision, to charge those that there is the strongest and most overwhelming evidence and not try to charge everything, even though you could charge other things. So, that's my guiding philosophy. There is overwhelming evidence that the President sought to coerce Ukraine into interfering in our election, essentially sought to cheat in our next election by getting a foreign government to weigh in. That is a very serious business, and it imperils our national security. It's a gross abuse of his office. And the President also deeply sought to obstruct the investigation into that wrongdoing. And I think that is the gravamen of the offense here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you're going-- well, your committee will be presenting evidence tomorrow before the House Judiciary Committee. Will you include evidence from the Mueller report?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, our committee will present what we investigated, in the intelligence (Audio Cut) set of allegations (Audio Cut), but also the obstruction of Congress. It won't be our committee, the Intelligence Committee, presentation that would go to other issues like the Mueller report. That will be decision that Chairman Nadler will have to make.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But do you think that this should be broadened out beyond the issue of Ukraine?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, again, I'm not going to get to my internal discussions with my colleagues, but I will say that I think we should focus on those issues that provide the greatest threat to the country. And the President is engaged in a course of conduct that threatens the integrity of the next election, threatens our national security by withholding military assistance to an ally at war to our detriment and conditioning other things like a desperately sought after White House (Audio Cut) for election. And that is an ongoing threat to the country, and one that simply can't wait.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well I-- I know Republicans make the point that the aid was ultimately released. But I want to ask you, in your personal opinion, you have seen all of this evidence, are you actually not going to vote to impeach the President? Is there any chance that you wouldn't vote to impeach the President?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, first of all, Margaret, they released the aid because they got caught because a whistleblower blew the whistle, because Congress announced an investigation, and only thereafter, and almost immediately thereafter, were they forced to release the aide. So that's not much of a defense: getting caught.


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: But in terms of my own recommendations, look, I'm going to see what articles come out of the Judiciary Committee deliberations. I'll make my views known at that time. But I will say this-- this is precisely the kind of conduct the founders were most concerned about when they provided the remedy of impeachment. That is, that a President of the United States would abuse his power to seek foreign intervention in our affairs, and do so in a way that threatens the ordinary mechanism of removing a President. And that is an election. And you have all of those ingredients here. And what's more, you have a President who is continuing in the malicious conduct out on the White House lawn, still saying he wants Ukraine to help him in the next election with these sham investigations, inviting other countries like China to do the same thing. Rudy Giuliani, even this week--


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: --is in Ukraine furthering this plot. And so this is an ongoing, clear and present danger to the integrity of our elections and our own national security.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the President said yesterday that Rudy Giuliani is preparing a report, that he is going to give to the attorney general and to Congress. What is the plan for this? Is Rudy Giuliani going to come in and testify under oath?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, we have subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani for his records and he's refused to comply and refused to cooperate, like so many other witnesses that have refused. Like Pompeo.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, do you know what the President is talking about here?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Look, I have little idea what the President is talking about, except that the President is only too happy to have his personal attorney continue to seek foreign interference in the next election. This is not something that started or ended with Ukraine. It began when the President invited Russia to intervene in the last election. It continued with the President trying to coerce Ukraine to do it now. And it is (Audio Cut) we feel we have to move forward and we simply can't wait for an election in which the President is seeking already to prejudice by foreign intervention.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, in the three-hundred-page report that your committee put out, it included some call logs, including numbers related to Congressman Nunes and a journalists and there has been a lot of blowback on you having published this. Upon reflection, should you have made that public?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, absolutely. And the blowback has only come from the-- the far right. But look, every investigator seeks phone records to corroborate, sometimes to contradict, a witnesses' testimony. And here we had testimony that the President charged Rudy Giuliani with carrying out this plot, that he told Ambassador Volger-- Volker and Perry and Sondland to talk to Rudy.


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: And, in fact, Ambassador Volker testified about talking to Rudy. And so naturally, we wanted phone records to show they had those conversations and indeed, they did.


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: But it's very important to point out, Margaret, we did not subpoena Devin Nunes' call records. We did not subpoena any journalist's call records. And that is simply false information being pushed by the President's allies. But the fact that Mister Nunes--


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: --or Giuliani or others show up in this scheme doesn't make them irrelevant, doesn't give them a pass.

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


MARGARET BRENNAN: And I do want to explain to our viewers, we are having a couple of technical issues you might have noticed there, that's going to happen with a new set.

But our CBS News coverage of the House impeachment hearings will continue on this network tomorrow, as well. We'll be back in a moment. Tomorrow, you should tune in to see Norah O'Donnell cover the hearings you just heard Chairman Schiff describe.

Stay with us. We'll bring in Congressman Mark Meadows.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we're back with the former chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows. Good morning.

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS (R-North Carolina/@RepMarkMeadows): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Good to have you here.

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Great to be here. Great set.


REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: I tell you, this is exciting.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're christening it for us. You just heard Chairman Schiff--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --lay out his case. From your perspective, is it inevitable that the House is going to impeach President Trump?

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Well, I don't think it's inevitable if you follow the facts. I heard Chairman Schiff lay out his talking points, and that's very different than the facts. And I think what we-- we need to understand is, is right now-- and the President just highlighted this in a tweet--within forty-eight hours of the hearing that's happening in judiciary tomorrow, we have the judiciary team changing the guidelines in the rules for what impeachment is all about. After the Nixon impeachment effort, the Congressional Research Service--


REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: --put out guidelines and said this is what impeachment should be based on, it's been updated. Now all of the sudden--


REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: --there's new found evidence by Jerry Nadler and his team. It's because the facts are not supporting their argument.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But when I'm asking you--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --if you think it's inevitable, that-- that's also political calculation. Do you think there will be a single Republican defection to--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --vote alongside--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --to impeach the President?

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: I don't want to speak for all my colleagues, but based on my conversations with them, I don't see a single Republican defecting. They've looked at the facts. They know where we are on this. I think, if anything, there's more pressure on my Democrat colleagues where instead of having just two defections, we may have more than that coming up as the articles get voted on. But inevitably they're going--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you know that? Or you're just guessing that you're going to see more than two?

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Well, I said there's more pressure on them.


REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: And-- and I have talked to a number of my moderate Democrat colleagues, and-- and I know there are a few that are out there that are real concerned. Again, I don't speak for Republicans or Democrats broadly--


REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: --but I do have conversations, bipartisan conversations on a regular basis.

MARGARET BRENNAN: One of the wildcards here--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --is Rudy Giuliani--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --the President's attorney. He was in Ukraine this week.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And you just heard Chairman Schiff say he-- he's not sure exactly what the President meant yesterday when he said that a report is going to be produced to Congress and the attorney general by Rudy Giuliani.

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Well, I think if Adam Schiff wants to look at the evidence, wouldn't he, whether it comes from Rudy Giuliani or anybody else, wouldn't he be happy--


REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: --to see any evidence of-- of foreign intervention in terms of the 2016 elections?

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, I'm sorry. Are-- are you saying you would trust any information Rudy Giuliani produces as credible?

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: I-- I would trust any information that comes to Congress to be able to be evaluated in a neutral manner. So whether it comes from Rudy Giuliani or-- or some Democrat witness that's there, if they're bringing information--


REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: --Congress has an obligation to look at it. We have the oversight responsibility--




REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: --let me-- let me just finish real quickly. So, if-- if he's getting relevant information that comes-- comes forth from Ukraine, I-- I think it's important for us to look at it. So many times people have said, listen, Ukrainians never got involved in the 2016 election. Well, that's just not accurate because--

MARGARET BRENNAN: The issue around impeachment is about the upcoming election and Joe Biden. One of your colleagues, Matt Gaetz of Florida, who-- who's a fellow Republican, said it's weird for him to see Rudy Giuliani out there doing this--

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Well, I-- I'm not suggesting that you--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think Giuliani needs to come in under oath?

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Well, I-- I think that Rudy Giuliani, if he's got evidence that's important to illuminate this, should come in, should testify. I agree with that. The-- the other aspect of this that is critically important, that so many people are starting to look at, they're-- they're trying to focus on Rudy Giuliani. This impeachment is about withholding foreign aid. And-- and Rudy didn't have anything to do with that.


REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Actually, none of the promises, none of the-- the so-- so-called interference in elections actually ever happened. Adam Schiff just was on here, just a few minutes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Rudy Giuliani has-- has said on this program and elsewhere that Joe Biden needs to be investigated. He-- he has propagated this idea that's at the center of it all, as you know.


MARGARET BRENNAN: But one of the things the White House did this week was put out a letter saying it's not essentially going to participate--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --in these upcoming hearings.


MARGARET BRENNAN: But then the President at the same time, and-- and Republicans like yourself say he's not getting a fair shake. So, how do you have it both ways of--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --of not participating, but then complaining about not being included?

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Well, listen, if you can change the rules--Margaret, I'll play any game with you no matter how talented you are-- if I get to control the rules, I'll win every time and that's what the Democrats--

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's what happens when you win the majority.

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: But-- but no, that's not because what we-- we have standards here. And what happens is-- is I've been in over a hundred hours of depositions. I've seen my Democrat colleagues time and time again leak out what's favorable to them and not favorable to the President. They've done it over and over and over again. That's not fair and should-- should the President participate in an unfair process? Absolutely not. He'll get a fair process if it gets to the Senate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you're saying it's not inevitable that that will happen.

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Well, I think it's probable but not inevitable.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. I also want to ask you, I know you care about government funding.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Being fiscally responsible. We are about two weeks out from a deadline here--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --on running out of government funding. Do you see the chances-- where do you see the chances of a government shutdown? Can they be avoided?

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: I-- I think it will be avoided. I think-- I know the President wants to avoid it. I believe based on what Nancy Pelosi says, she wants to-- to avoid it. Here's what they're going to have to do though. They're going to have to--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Even without border wall funding?

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Well, Nancy Pelosi made an agreement not to go back when we increase the debt ceiling in the-- the previous budget deal. She agreed to leave the funding there that is static. And so what I would say, a continuing resolution for those viewers that are out there, continuing the funding as it is for three or four months while we get this impeachment effort off the agenda, is certainly appropriate. I think the President would sign that and believe my Democrat colleagues would as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman, good to have you here.

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Thank you. Great to be here.


Coming up next, we're going to switch gears, talk about new threats to America with White House National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien. He is standing by. Don't go away.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we're back with White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien. Good morning to you, Mister Ambassador.

AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN (National Security Adviser/@robertcobrien): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We saw overnight North Korea conduct what it called a very important test. In your view, are they preparing to restart nuclear tests?

AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN: I hope not. That would be a mistake on the part of North Korea. When we came into office, the-- the President was faced with a very difficult situation in North Korea. President Obama told him it was the most dangerous problem he would face in the world through a combination of-- of tough sanctions and-- and a military show of forces. We were able to convince Kim Jong-un to-- to come to a-- a summit. At that summit, Kim Jong-un promised to denuclearize North Korea. And we expect him to live up to the promise he made at the summit in Singapore. And-- and we hope he'll do so.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, his ambassador to the U.N. said yesterday, denuclearization is already gone out of the negotiating table. The President seemed to nod to that in a tweet this morning. With this test and that statement, it seems an explicit recognition here that on their end, diplomacy is dead. What's the U.S. going to do if they restart tests?

AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well, I-- I'd be pretty nervous if I was that ambassador, because Kim Jong-un has said publicly that he will denuclearize North Korean penin-- the penin-- Korean peninsula. For a North Korean ambassador to take a contrary position to the-- to his leader, I think in that circumstance, is a-- is a pretty dangerous thing for him to do. Look, we'll--

MARGARET BRENNAN: North Korean diplomats don't usually freelance. You know that.

AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN: I know-- I-- well, they-- they-- it doesn't end well for them if they do. So I-- I'm a little surprised by that comment by the-- the U.N. ambassador. We'll have to see what happens. We're-- we're continuing with our negotiations, Steve Biegun is going down to the region soon and-- and we'll-- we'll-- we'll see what happens. But we have plenty of tools in the toolkit. If-- if North Korea takes a different path than the one it's promised its people, the people of South Korea, the United States and the world. Kim Jong-un said that he is going to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. if he does not do that, then we'll take that into account. And-- and we've got plenty of tools in the toolkit.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you've got time running out, though, with this end of year deadline Kim Jong-un has set. Do you expect to have the U.S. and North Korea meet? Do you expect President Trump to speak to Kim Jong-un?

AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well, we'll-- we'll-- we'll see. We'd like to have continued negotiations. We were in Stockholm not too long ago for negotiations with the North Korean team, and we'd like to continue those negotiations. And-- and look, we'd like to see this end up in a peaceful resolution and a-- a resolution that-- that is good for the people of North Korea. They could be a great country. They could have a-- a tremendous economic powerhouse in North Korea instead of-- of starving and-- and being poor. So they've got to make a choice. And-- and we hope they make the right choice.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about something here at home. We saw a Saudi military officer shoot dead three Americans, wound eight, at a Pensacola base. Was the shooter acting alone? Is this a terrorist attack?

AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN: So we don't know yet if he was acting alone. The FBI is investigating and they-- they're-- they've been interviewing, interrogating other Saudi students. Look, to me, it appears to be a terrorist attack. The FBI will have to get into the-- I-- I don't want to prejudge the investigation, but it appears that this may be someone that was radicalized, whether it was here or, you know, it's-- it's unclear if he's got any ties to any other organizations--

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you mean appears--

AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN: --but it doesn't look good.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --to be? Based on what? Obviously, you're seeing intelligence that-- that we don't know about. You have--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --credible intelligence that indicates that this might be part of a broader plot?

AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN: I-- I-- I don't see anything that there-- that there's a broader plot. I-- I'm watching the same things that you're watching and-- and-- and the public reports. And the-- this is a guy who-- who may very well have-- have said some things on Twitter that suggest he was radicalized. He went out and-- and killed a number of-- of Americans. So, my point is it looks like terrorism. We'll have to see what the FBI investigation shows, what his motivations were. The Saudis have promised full cooperation with the investigation. We're going to take them at their word. And-- and the FBI is-- is very competent doing these things. They'll get to the bottom of it, and we'll have a full report. But I'm-- my point is, it looks from what we're seeing in-- in the public reports that this looks like something that's terrorism or akin to terrorism.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yesterday, there was a prisoner exchange with Iran. It's significant. First time Trump administration has got an American back from Iran. Xiyue Wang was the Princeton scholar released and the U.S. also released an Iranian scientist. That's great for his family. They have great joy. But there are at least four other Americans, and I know you know this well, who are still imprisoned in Iran. Why not make this part of a package deal?

AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well, what-- what you find out in the hostage business, Margaret, and I did this for-- for several years and we were able to-- to-- President Trump's brought back more wrongfully detained Americans that are hostages than any president in my lifetime. And he's done it without paying concessions, without the pallets of cash, because we want to deter folks from taking hostages again in the future. But what you do is you take the hostages and you take the detainees as-- as you can get them. We would love to have all the Iranian detainees back. I-- I pressed very hard on the Iranians for a year and a half to enter into a consular dialogue, to meet with us, to talk about how we could get all of them home. And-- and we're continuing to do that and we want to see every one of those Americans home. I know each of the family members say these are great people, they're great Americans and-- and they love their family members. We-- we had a great day yesterday for-- for the Wang family.


AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN: Has-- Xi Shou has a-- has a young wife, he's got a young son who he hasn't seen for three years because the-- the Iranians wrongfully detained him, accused him of being a spy. He wasn't. He was a young scholar coming to study their language and study their history, and they threw him in jail instead. We got a great deal out of-- out of this. They wanted a-- an Iranian back who, you can go to the DOJ for details on this, but he was going to court next week. And-- and we felt there was an opportunity here to-- to get-- get someone home, and we did. And we--


AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN: --took the advantage of that opportunity.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You say great deal. Does this provide an opening for direct talks with Iran?

AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN: Look, I hope so. The President has offered to talk with the Ayatollah and--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But no promise of that? That was not a condition for this?


MARGARET BRENNAN: This is not a precondition to talk?

AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN: No. Look, we-- we've had a maximum pressure campaign on Iran. I-- I think that maximum pressure campaign had an impact and-- and-- and-- and was in part responsible for this release. The President has-- has offered to talk to the Iranians without preconditions about a whole range of issues.


AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN: We'd like to sit down and talk to them. But-- but the sanctions and the maximum pressure are not going to be let up until Iran abandons its nuclear program or abandons its malign activities in the region. In the meantime, we'd love to sit down with him and talk about the other detainees. We want to get every single American home--


AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN: --and there's-- there's no one more committed to bringing Americans home than President Trump, and I--


AMBASSADOR ROBERT O'BRIEN: --I think his record shows that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Ambassador O'Brien, thank you very much for joining us.

We'll be back with much more on FACE THE NATION.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Some of our stations are leaving us now but we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, so stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. Neal Katyal was acting solicitor general under President Obama, and he lays out the argument for removing President Trump from office in his new book, Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump. And Neal is here with us in the studio now. Good to have you here.

NEAL KATYAL (Former Acting Solicitor General/@neal_katyal/"Impeach"): Thank you for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So obviously the title says it all in terms of where you are on this issue. From what you heard from Adam Schiff, the Chairman of House Intelligence and the argument he is laying out, would you advise him to stay narrowly focused on Ukraine or to include other things in these articles?

NEAL KATYAL: So the book argues that it should be a narrow focus. Some of the other evidence can come in about Mueller as kind of supporting evidence, that's how the Nixon precedent had it. The articles of impeachment there focused on Watergate, but then it brought in some other things, and here are the most important thing is not just Ukraine, but the President's reaction to Ukraine. I mean he's engaged in unprecedented obstruction, no president in our history has ever done this, saying--

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you mean?

NEAL KATYAL: --unilaterally, I don't have-- I declare the entire investigation illegitimate. No witnesses. No documents, no president did that. Nixon contemplated it and even he backed down, and if this President can do it, and this is a central argument in my book, every president can do it, whether it was Obama before and the president Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders or whoever, an impeachment is so central to our checks and balances, and what he is doing is a fundamental threat to our constitution.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do impeachment articles look like? What-- what's a prudent selection?

NEAL KATYAL: Yes, so in the book I lay out three articles, one is abuse of power, that he, the President, was trying to cheat in the 2020 election with the help of a foreign government, using his commander-in-chief powers, so it's different than 2016 when he was just a candidate, saying Russia are you listening and stuff like that?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Republicans would say 2020 was never mentioned, elections were never mentioned in that so-called transcript.

NEAL KATYAL: No. But what was mentioned was his chief political rival Joe Biden, and, you know, the idea that a President could go and withhold foreign aid in order to get an investigation announced, not even completed--


NEAL KATYAL: --but announced by his adversary is something so pernicious, so dangerous our founders Madison, Hamilton would have cried at such a thought because it's such an abuse of the President's power. So that's Article I. Article II would be bribery, the quid pro quo engagement, but-- you know, the withholding of aid and the withholding of a White House meeting. And then Article III would be is the obstruction of justice as we are talking about.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You would keep it on those three?


MARGARET BRENNAN: You tweeted recently that you thought if-- if you go from impeachment in the House to a trial in the Senate and-- and the Senate doesn't essentially convict that you should retry with a new Senate--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --after the elections. I mean, doesn't that sound more like a vendetta?

NEAL KATYAL: So-- so certainly I didn't advocate that you should do it, I was being descriptive not normative. I said that there is no double jeopardy protection in our Constitution, and I was trying to use that--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're just saying theoretically it is possible to do this?

NEAL KATYAL: Well, what I am trying to say here is that the Senate has an obligation to conduct a real trial and I suspect that they will conduct a real trial.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What does a real trial look like?

NEAL KATYAL: Like-- with-- with witnesses and subpoena power and so the President has stonewalled all of these witnesses, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Acting Chief of Staff Mulvaney, all of those folks should testify in the Senate, they should be called. And indeed, Donald Trump should testify in the Senate. And so what's happened right now is the President has said I don't have to bother complying with any of this. But in the Senate, in that real trial, there will be subpoena procedures available and the Democrats can call Trump. And I think that they should.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You call yourself an extreme centrist.


MARGARET BRENNAN: But given your prior work, people will say you're a Democrat.


MARGARET BRENNAN: The argument around this particular impeachment is that we are in this incredibly heated partisan moment, at a degree the country hasn't at least recently withdrew--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --that there is no way to have a credible impeachment trial, I mean, that-- that argument is made all the time--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --that this was always going to be partisan and certainly the votes are-- are headed in that way. Do you agree with that? I mean--

NEAL KATYAL: Not at all. So two things. First of all, you know I think my obligation as a constitutional professor is to read each case on its own so I, for example, supported Neil Gorsuch, Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court and testified for him. So, you know, I don't think you just view this through a partisan lens. And number two, I think we have to try. I think this idea that Americans are too weak, this-- this bigotry of low expectations that we can't see facts anymore is so wrong. That's why I wrote the book because I think if you give me thirty minutes with anyone, I can convince them of how bad what Trump did is for separation of powers and why he has to be removed. And--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why don't you think the public or at least the polling that we have seen has the level of conviction that you do?

NEAL KATYAL: Because they haven't focused on the facts yet and the Senate trial is the place. It will be a formal, solemn proceeding. And as a litigator, I have seen how trials change opinions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But what does a trial look like? I mean, people think of law and order. They think of courtroom dramas.


MARGARET BRENNAN: They don't necessarily have a lot of precedent here. I mean--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --this is only really kind of the third, maybe fourth time our country has done this.

NEAL KATYAL: Yeah. Well, we've had eighteen impeachments and some Senate trial-- you know, some Senate trials.


NEAL KATYAL: Not of Presidents. And so I think it looks like a real trial. It looks like witnesses coming forward and arguments being made in the eyes of the nation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you really believe the Republican-controlled Senate is going to subpoena John Bolton or subpoena Secretary of State Pompeo?


NEAL KATYAL: The Democrats will have subpoena power and it will go to the chief justice and I've had the privilege of arguing now thirty-nine cases before the chief justice argument, fortieth on Wednesday. And I think he is a consummately fair person and I think he will want this evidence out to the American public.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Interesting. And are you advising on this?



NEAL KATYAL: No, no. Just did-- just through my writing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Just through your writing.


MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Neal Katyal, thank you.

NEAL KATYAL: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Good luck with the book.

We'll be right back with our political panel.


MARGARET BRENNAN: It's time now for some political analysis. Adam Entous writes for The New Yorker and is a brand-new CBS News contributor. Welcome.

ADAM ENTOUS (The New Yorker/@adamentous): Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Julie Pace is the Washington bureau chief at the Associated Press. CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe is also with us and along with Josh Holmes, a Republican consultant and former chief of staff to Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. Josh, welcome to the broadcast.

JOSH HOLMES (Republican Consultant/@HolmesJosh): Thank you. Good to be here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you, you just heard Neal Katyal decide or describe what a Senate trial could look like if the House goes ahead with impeaching the President. Does your version of what it looks like match his?

JOSH HOLMES: No. Well, there are a couple of details that probably worth going over. The first is it's going to take fifty-one votes in terms of calling witnesses. I think Neal suggested that basically the President of the United States could be called or subpoenaed to testify with-- with a-- a Democratic wish list, apparently. Unfortunately, that's going to take-- that would take fifty-one votes from Republicans to-- to try to provide that. And that's obviously not going to happen.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So when he is saying subpoena power there and you could see Cabinet members come and answer questions.

JOSH HOLMES: You could see all kinds of different things. I think the most important thing to focus on there is that the-- the President is going to have his first capacity for an official defense in the Senate. And what that is, is basically a witness list of their choosing, that they will come to the senate with, discuss both the contours and the length of how that trial is going to work and try to get Republican buy in and-- and, hopefully, bipartisan buy in to process all of this. But the idea that you can just sort of pull down whomever you want from a Democratic point of view to come testify before the Senate is not true.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, one of the witnesses that you hear in the White House and you hear Republicans say they want to hear from is Hunter Biden and Joe Biden, the current candidate. I want to play a sound bite of Joe Biden on the campaign trail this week where he seemed to be punching back a bit.

(Begin VT)

MAN: But you on the other hand sent your son over there to get a job and work for a gas company that he had no experience with gas, or nothing, in order to get access for the (INDISTINCT) to-- for the President. So you're-- you're selling access to the President just like he was. So you--

JOE BIDEN: You're a damn liar, man. That's not true. And no one has ever said that. No one--

MAN: I didn't say you were doing anything wrong.

JOE BIDEN: You said I set up my son to work in an oil company. Isn't that what you said? Get your words straight, Jack.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: "Get your words straight, Jack." You-- you don't often hear Joe Biden hit back like that.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Is this a-- a tactic? Is this an honest moment?

ADAM ENTOUS: I think it is an honest moment. I mean, I think this is the rawest issue for him, anything that has to do with his son. You know, the time-- when-- when his son joined that board, Burisma, the company in Ukraine, his other son Beau was, you know, a year away from dying and it was just a very painful moment for the family. And, you know, the policy that Joe Biden had with his son was kind of a don't ask, don't tell. Hunter wouldn't talk to his dad about his business activities and his father wouldn't ask. And so to have his son dragged into this is very hard for him because it wouldn't be happening if his father wasn't running for President and he knows also where his son is. I mean, he is-- I mean, he is-- I'm not even sure exactly how sober he is--


ADAM ENTOUS: --at times. He struggled for years with his addictions and his dad knows that. And during that period of time, he was in a very bad place.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you-- you spent a lot of time with Hunter.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You have written about him. And I know you've said it's also painful because it was about the son who passed, who was the one who reigned in Hunter from some of his worst instincts--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --and he is not there.

ADAM ENTOUS: Right. So when-- you know, whenever Hunter started drinking again, it was Beau that would take him to the airport so he could then fly to get treatment, right? It was always Beau who was the one trying to save him. And when, you know, during his last year of life, Hunter was just a wreck, which is when this is all going on, and so you can-- you know, we saw in the impeachment hearing, a one-- one State Department official testified that he had concerns that he had raised with-- with members of Biden's staff and was told that Biden didn't have the bandwidth at that time to deal with it--


ADAM ENTOUS: --because he was still dealing with, you know, the death of, the death of Beau. And so this has been consistent in Joe Biden's life. This-- anything that has to do with his family, anything that-- particularly since Beau died, that has to do with Hunter is incredibly sensitive for him, which is the reason why actually it-- it-- it's an effective--


ADAM ENTOUS: --issue for Republicans to push on. But it's also-- you know, it's something that maybe people watch and they can realize, well, this is a guy who actually really does care about his kids.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the chances, Ed, of Joe or Hunter Biden coming and testifying--

ED O'KEEFE (CBS News Political Correspondent/@edokeefe): Well, once again you need fifty-one senators--


ED O'KEEFE: --to agree to do that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And a lot of them don't want to do that--

ED O'KEEFE: Exactly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --to a former colleague of theirs.

ED O'KEEFE: Exactly. Exactly. And so-- and-- and we've heard from enough Republicans or enough of them have inferred that that might be a bridge too far. Certainly other people involved, they-- they would probably be fair game, but the Bidens, less so. And from a raw political standpoint, his aides, this week, thought this was a fantastic moment for him because it showed fire in the belly, it gave them-- it gave voters a sense of how he would respond to this if he was asked about the situation by either an opponent or by President Trump. Clearly others thought this looked a little weird because in that exchange at one point it sounded like he called the man fat instead of Jack. You can listen to it yourself and decide. And there were some other missteps and-- and misspoken words over the course of this nineteen stop bus tour that he made, but it was called "No Malarkey" and in that moment he certainly didn't want to take any of it. And his aides think that it could help prove to voters if you've got concerns about how he'll handle it. That's how he'll handle it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How he would handle a debate stage moment against President Trump. Julie, you saw Kamala Harris step out of the race this week. Is she a candidate to now go be the VP in the Biden ticket if he gets a nomination?

JULIE PACE (The Associated Press/@jpaceDC): I think she certainly would have to be, not just for Joe Biden but for any Democratic nominee. Kamala Harris has a really interesting background, certainly her profile as-- as the highest profile black female politician in the country right now. I do think one dynamic, though, between Biden and Harris to watch for is that dynamic from that first debate.


JULIE PACE: Joe Biden took that moment incredibly personally when Kamala Harris opened up her remarks by saying, I don't think you're a racist but-- and part of the reason actually to get back to what we were talking about is that Kamala Harris and Beau Biden were very close when they were both attorney generals for Delaware and-- and California. You know, politics is politics, if he is the nominee and he thinks that Kamala Harris can help him win the presidency, you can put a lot of hard feelings aside but that's certainly was a moment that really stuck with him for quite some time.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Josh, when Senator Harris stepped back this week, her retort to the President was I'll see you at your trial, sir. Reminding everyone that she's a prosecutor and now she will be there for-- for that trial. How much of the 2020 campaign time schedule is actually factoring into Republican planning?

JOSH HOLMES: Yeah. Well, you know, she'll have no more or less role than any other senator in the body and I-- I think that underscores another challenge that a lot of these Democratic 2020 candidates have here. There are not as many senators as there were at the beginning but there still are a few, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and others. So the way you look at it is that they're going to have a closing argument going into the Iowa caucuses is largely spent in Washington, DC, talking about the impeachment trial of President Trump. So former campaign manager, I can't imagine trying to manage a closing message to voters that you can't control it all.


JOSH HOLMES: (AUDIO CUT) --to the second, third, fourth week of January they literally are walking into an Iowa caucus without even being in Iowa.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that might-- maybe factor into some thinking in Republican leadership, we could see not just the month of January but-- I mean, how long is this going to last?

JOSH HOLMES: Well, you never-- I mean, the contours, again, are going to have to be set with fifty-one votes. And I-- I think the one thing that Senate Republican leadership is absolutely committed on doing. And you saw Pat Cipollone and others come up to the Hill and talk to Republican senators about this, is they want a full trial. They want the President and his team to be able to provide a full witness list that they have the first kind of access to the American people to push back on the charges that Adam Schiff and others have brought. So that could take a while, but, again, I-- I think a lot of that is going to be determined by what the specific articles say. And-- and I--


JOSH HOLMES: --I didn't hear that from Mister Schiff this morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we might know more by the end of this week.

We'll take a quick break here but I want to come more-- come back with more on the White House strategy and a lot-- a lot happened this week, as always. But we'll be right back with more from our panel.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we're back now with our political panel. I-- I want to button up a few things on impeachment. Julie, you heard President Trump while he was overseas, politics no longer stopping at the water's edge unload on Adam Schiff. I mean, he called him a deranged human being, a maniac, a very sick man. This is someone who's trying to impeach him and in the process of writing the articles against him. What is the White House strategy here?

JULIE PACE: I think White House strategy is to very quickly get through this House process and move on to the Senate. They basically have accepted the fact that the President is going to be pe-- impeached. They want to move on to Senate, but I do think that there is a little clarity that needs to be brought to some of the White House officials about what this process actually looks like. I mean, Josh was making this point. This is not a situation where the Republican senators are going to be out there on the Senate floor actively able to defend the President. This is going to be a process that's run by managers--


JULIE PACE: --that has witnesses come forward. So it's a little bit different than I think what the President has in mind right now, but certainly they think that this is a better forum for them. They think this is an opportunity to go on the offensive and bring forward people who might add to the picture that the President wants to paint, which is of a Democratic administration under a Vice President Joe Biden who is engaged in corruption, which is unproven. So I do think it's a pretty high bar if you're the White House to try to push in that direction, given the real lack of evidence that there is to bolster that case.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So this isn't going to look like your average courtroom drama?

JULIE PACE: This is not going to look like your average courtroom drama.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. Adam, Rudy Giuliani, the word bold, the word brazen has been used, when I was talking to Republicans about this decision of him to go to Ukraine this week and to meet with individuals who are part of this entire impeachment proceeding. Is there a strategy there? You know, Mark Meadows on this program was saying he would-- he would look at the information that Rudy Giuliani brings back. Is that actually going to be introduced?

ADAM ENTOUS: Yeah. I don't really know what the plan is for that. I mean, I did-- I did talk to somebody who traveled with Giuliani on the trip and so that-- originally he was going to Budapest to see Lutsenko, the former prosecutor general, and then as a last minute they made a decision to go to see Shokin, his predecessor, the former prosecutor general who was allegedly fired by Biden, allegedly, again, to protect his son. His strategy is clearly just to kind of keep the-- the-- the-- you know, keep-- keep fanning the flames of a, you know-- you know, innuendo, half truths, you know, rumint that these Ukrainians are giving him. You know, I-- I spent a lot of time there with some of these characters and, you know, they pretty bluntly told me that, you know, they are just feeding Giuliani in many cases what he wants to hear.


ADAM ENTOUS: Giuliani is very eager to accept this information that he's getting. He doesn't question it. You know, he is just trying to put it out there hoping that it will-- some of it will stick and, you know, his-- this is not that different from what was contained in the dossier that he provided to the-- to Pompeo at the State Department back in-- I think it was April or May.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That ended up with the inspector general.

ADAM ENTOUS: Correct, which if you go through it carefully, you realize it's-- it's just a lot of innuendo, assumptions, false information. I mean, there's some things in there that are true but most of it is-- is-- is not accurate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you, Ed, about a key interview this week, our own Gayle King--

ED O'KEEFE: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --sat down with Mike Bloomberg, former mayor of New York, for his first interview since he declared that he was going to run. What did you make of-- of some of his give-and-take with her?

ED O'KEEFE: Two-- two things stuck out. The one that he got a lot of gut for-- right at the beginning was-- he was asked about comments that Cory Booker had made about the increasing lack of diversity now at the top tier of the Democratic race and Bloomberg sort of brushed it off and said, well, he supported me once, he sat on my board, he's well-spoken, and those are buzzwords for black and Latino candidates, minorities all across the country who've heard too much of that, Booker called him out for it, Bloomberg apologized. The more effective answer he had, though, was to the question about the fact that he's entering this race and basically bankrolling it on his own.


ED O'KEEFE: And he reiterated an argument he made when he ran for mayor, which is I'm paying for this on my own. I won't accept a salary, therefore, I can't be bought. Everyone else is doing the same thing but they're asking other people for money, and they'll owe somebody a favor at some point. With me, you don't have that. You know who else made that argument? Donald Trump.


ED O'KEEFE: And guess what? It worked. And who's Mike Bloomberg trying to win over? The same kind of people who may go back and forth between both parties--


ED O'KEEFE: --who probably voted for Donald Trump. He's unloading sixty million dollars in TV and radio so far, about five million across digital platforms. If you're an American with a TVs or a-- a phone, you have probably come across this now--


ED O'KEEFE: --in the last week. And it w--ill continue to happen and we will see probably right after the holidays whether it's sticking or whether he's struggling.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What-- what do you think his chances are of winning over some of the Republicans I just talked about?

JOSH HOLMES: Well, look, I think you're only buying something if you get a product in the end and I-- I haven't seen any evidence that voters at this point have gravitated towards Bloomberg and away from some of his Democratic primary rivals. But the idea that he's gravitating that any sort of voters in the center that has a right of center view is gravitating towards Bloomberg, I think it's way far afield. At this point, the-- the issues that define Michael Bloomberg in his post mayoral sort of activism category are all exclusively not only left of center but are almost litmus-- litmus tests in a conservative electorate. But gun control, you know, banning soda, I mean, getting rid of coal, his energy stances. All--

MARGARET BRENNAN: He was a Republican at one point.

JOSH HOLMES: Right. It's pretty hard to make that case now. And I think voters are-- are going to look at that in the context of a Democratic primary. And, again, it's going to be very, very difficult for somebody like Michael Bloomberg to say he's an actual centrist.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's brokered convention you hear rumored again and again. Julie, what about the point Cory Booker made on-- on race this week? He said for Kamala Harris that, you know, the Democratic Party essentially takes black women for granted in terms of voting. What's going to happen with Biden and his ability to-- to court the vote that-- that Cory Booker says isn't show up?

JULIE PACE: Democrats are in this really interesting position right now because you have a-- you have a Democratic electorate that is incredibly diverse and we have seen in election after election the power, in particular, of black women. They have really delivered elections for Democrats over and over again. I do think the party is-- is recognizing that. I don't think they are take-- being taken for granted but we've had this historically diverse Democratic field that is now at a point where the top frontrunners, every candidate that has qualified for the next debate is--


JULIE PACE: --white. Cory Booker is trying to argue that the Demo-- Democratic Party--


JULIE PACE: -- (INDISTINCT) for that, that the rules are--


JULIE PACE:--sort of brokered against them right now, but that is the reality of where we are.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Before we go, we want to thank everyone behind the scenes at CBS for all their work on this new set. For FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.

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