Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on February 10, 2019

2/10: Face The Nation

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

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MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, February 10th. I'm Margaret Brennan. And this is FACE THE NATION.

Breaking news this morning as Virginia's embattled governor, Ralph Northam, sat down with Gayle King for CBS THIS MORNING. We'll have a preview.

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM (CBS THIS MORNING/D-Virginia): Yes, I have thought about resigning, but-- but I've also thought about what Virginia needs right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Gayle's interview comes as the scandals involving the top three state-elected officials in Virginia near meltdown proportions. Now Virginia Democrats are calling for Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax to quit following accusations of sexual misconduct and now rape. As the governor, attorney general, and Republican leader in the State Senate struggle to deal with racially insensitive photos from their past, we'll talk with two Democrats from the Virginia congressional delegation, Jennifer Wexton and Don Beyer. Then, as the deadline nears for a deal to keep the government from shutting down again, what's the status of negotiations? We'll ask a key conservative in the House, North Carolina's Mark Meadows.

All of that, and more news of the week just ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We begin with the chaos in Virginia's government and the scandals that have rocked the top three Democrats in the commonwealth, Governor Ralph Northam, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring. CBS THIS MORNING co-host Gayle King has just returned from Richmond, Virginia, where she spoke to the governor in his only television interview.

(Begin VT)

GAYLE KING (CBS THIS MORNING/CBS THIS MORNING Co-Host/@GayleKing): I know this has been a very difficult week for you in the state of Virginia. So where would you like to begin?

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM (CBS THIS MORNING/D-Virginia/@GovernorVA): Well, it has been a difficult week. And-- and, you know, if you look at Virginia's history we're now at the four hundred year anniversary, just ninety miles from here in 1619 the first indentured servants from Africa landed on our shores in Old Point Comfort what we call now Fort Monroe and while--

GAYLE KING: Also known as slavery.

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: Yes.

GAYLE KING: Yeah, yeah.

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: And, you know, while we have made a lot of progress in-- in Virginia, slavery has ended, schools have been desegregated. We have ended the Jim Crow laws, easier access to voting. It is abundantly clear that we still have a lot of work to do and I-- I really think this week raised a level of awareness in the Commonwealth and in this country--

GAYLE KING: Mm-Mm.

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: --that we haven't seen certainly in my lifetime.

GAYLE KING: And why you think you still deserve this job when so many people are calling for you to step down?

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: Well, again we-- we have worked very hard. We've had a good first year. And-- and I'm a leader. I've been in some very difficult situations, life and death situations taking care of sick children. And right now--

GAYLE KING: Because you're a doctor, yes?

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: --right now, Virginia needs someone that can heal. There's no better person to do that than a doctor. Virginia also needs someone who is strong, who has empathy, who has courage and who has a moral compass. And that's why I'm not going anywhere. I have learned from this. I have a lot more to learn. But we're in a unique opportunity now. Again the four hundred year anniversary of-- of the history whether it be good or bad in Virginia to really make some impactful changes--

GAYLE KING: Of slavery in this country?

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: Yes.

GAYLE KING: In this state, yeah. Did you ever think about resigning when the drumbeat became so loud and, by the way, there was still beating for you to step down?

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: I don't live in a vacuum.

GAYLE KING: Yes.

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: And so, yes, I-- I have heard it. And I've had-- this has been a difficult week. And again, I'm-- I'm fine. It's been mainly difficult for Virginia in this country. So, yes, I have thought about resigning but-- but I've also thought about what Virginia needs right now. And I-- I really think that I'm in a position where-- where I can take Virginia to the next level and it-- it will be very positive and, you know, we have a number of inequities in this country right now and in Virginia and-- and we're in a position to really stop talking so much and now to take action with policy to address a lot of these inequities.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Gayle, thank you for bringing us this interview. What did you make of the governor's explanation?

GAYLE KING: Well, the interview was at seven o'clock, and he was there ready to-- we were in his house, of course, he was there ready to go. And he was on time. And he clearly is very anguished by this whole situation. I know that this is an attempt at damage control. Who's calling us, Margaret?

MARGARET BRENNAN: I don't know.

GAYLE KING: I-- I know that is clearly an attempt at damage control, but I didn't feel that he was spinning a story. I think he's anguished, I think he's very sincere. And I think that he's hoping that once voters and viewers hear his story, that they will reconsider the calls for his resignation. That said, he's not planning to go anywhere. He thinks that he-- he-- he feels he is in a very unique position to lead Virginia to another way, and that this is actually, as painful as it is, a very good conversation for us all to have.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He thinks he can ride this out?

GAYLE KING: I think he is hoping he can ride it out. He is not going to step down. He is not going-- I even asked, "Under what circumstances would you step down?" And he couldn't even give-- he did not want to give an answer to that question because that is not how he is thinking, that is not what he wants, and that's not what he believes that he should step down.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you think, though, about-- what this has sparked in terms of a national conversation? I mean, this is a state that has a long-troubled history with race. It was the capital of the Confederacy.

GAYLE KING: Mm-Hm. Mm-Hm.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This has really resonated around the country.

GAYLE KING: Mm-Hm. And he is aware of all of that. And I think I said, "Listen, in Virginia you have one, two, three people that are involved in a very messy scandal all at the same time. What do you make of that?" He knows that the optics aren't good. He said, "But I am concentrating on my battle and my fight. And I want to figure out a way how can I turn this around."

MARGARET BRENNAN: And-- and you continued your conversation with him. Let's play that clip.

(Begin VT)

GAYLE KING: Let's talk about Justin Fairfax.

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: Yes.

GAYLE KING: In the beginning, he did not call for your resignation. He said, you know, "Let the Governor decide. I know the Governor will make the right decision." But now his story has also changed.

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: Yes.

GAYLE KING: As you know, two women have come out and accused him of sexual assault--

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: Yes.

GAYLE KING: --sexual inappropriateness. And they have both said that if there is an impeachment hearing that they will testify against him. Where do you sit on how you feel about Justin Fairfax today? Are you too calling for him to step down?

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: I can only imagine that it must take tremendous courage for women to step forward and-- and talk about these things that-- these are so hurtful. And-- and these accusations are very, very serious. They need to be taken seriously. As you know, Governor Fairfax has called for an investigation. I really think where we are now. We need to get to the truth. The-- the truth-- the truth is important and certainly is--

GAYLE KING: He is-- he too is calling for an investigation.

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: Yes. He is and I support that. And-- and if these accusations are determined to be true, I don't think he is going to have any other option but to resign.

GAYLE KING: At this time, do you think he should resign?

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: That's going to be a decision that he needs to make.

GAYLE KING: I know he needs to make it, but what do you think? Do you think he--

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: Well, again, I want the truth to come out. I-- I certainly support an investigation. And again, these accusation-- accusations are very serious. And we need to get to the bottom of them.

GAYLE KING: And now your attorney general is also-- also has some explaining to do about--

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: Yeah.

GAYLE KING: --his use of blackface. He said it was because it was Halloween and he was dressed up as his favorite-- one of his favorite rappers, Kurtis Blow.

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: Mm-Hm.

GAYLE KING: Calls for him to resign, as well.

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: Mm-Hm.

GAYLE KING: Your thoughts about that?

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: Well, I know Attorney General Herring well, as I do Lieutenant Governor Fairfax, and you know we have all grown. I don't know what the attorney general was thinking, what his perception was of-- of race, of-- of the use of blackface back then. But I can tell you that I am sure, just like me, he has grown, he has served Virginia well. And he and I and Justin, all three of us have fought for equality.

GAYLE KING: Mm-Hm.

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: And so again, I regret that our attorney general is in this position. But this is a decision that he's going to need to make.

(End VT)

GAYLE KING: Yeah. Lots of decisions that need to be made. He has not spoken, I thought-- I thought this was interesting. He has not spoken to Justin Fairfax since this second accusation came out. And I said, "Why haven't the two of you communicated?" And he said, "You know, well, I am dealing with what I'm dealing with. He is dealing with what he is dealing with, and I'm concentrating on this." I do know that the wives have reached out to one another. I was told that today.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's interesting.

GAYLE KING: Yeah. But the-- the two of them have not spoken.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Gayle, we'll be watching the rest of this interview on CBS THIS MORNING.

GAYLE KING: Oh.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you.

GAYLE KING: Well, we talked to him about the moonwalk. We talked about his wife, we talked about--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

GAYLE KING: --how this all came about. There are-- I'll just say, Margaret, we have a lot of interesting information that we'll have tomorrow on CBS THIS MORNING. I know you're ready for me to go.

MARGARET BRENNAN: No. Gayle, we love that you are here--

GAYLE KING: Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --and you brought that. I want to get reaction to your--

GAYLE KING: All right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --interview, actually.

And we have someone on set to do just that. Democratic Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, who represents Northern Virginia in Congress. Congresswoman, I-- I know you know Governor Northam.

REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER WEXTON (D-Virginia/@RepWexton): I do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He campaigned for you. The contrition you heard there, is that enough for you to say he does not need to resign?

REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER WEXTON: It does not change my opinion that he needs to resign.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why?

REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER WEXTON: Because I don't believe he can effectively lead co-- the commonwealth at this time. I mean, I understand that he wants-- that he is feeling contrition, that he is feeling regret. But we need somebody who-- who cannot only address the wrongs of the past but take Virginia into the future. And I think he's lost the confidence of the people in order to be able to do that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And yet The Washington Post had a poll out that published overnight and it said Virginians are split. But an interesting portion of that said the majority of black residents say he should remain in office. Is that black-- public opinion persuasive to you at all?

REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER WEXTON: Well, I mean that's-- everybody's entitled to their opinion and that's-- that's persuasive. But remember he-- he won a vast majority of the black vote in his election. And we're not talking about approval numbers. We're talking about people who feel that the governor should step down immediately. So, it's a very different situation. The fact is, he's really lost the confidence of a lot of the people he's supposed to be leading.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And what about the Attorney General Herring who also admitted to having appeared in blackface in the past? Should he resign?

REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER WEXTON: Well, his situation is different and I judge each situation on its merits. The attorney general came forward proactively, is very regretful and contrite. He reached out to all the African-American leaders and-- and other leaders, very heartfelt anguish about what he had done. But he's got a lot of work to do to regain the trust of the people of Virginia.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you're withholding judgment?

REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER WEXTON: I'm withholding judgment.

GAYLE KING: Margaret, can I ask you a question? Am I still on mic? No.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I-- I don't know that you are. Sorry, what is your question, Gayle?

GAYLE KING: Well, when you said that he's lost the confidence, he realizes that. But he also wants a chance to regain the confidence. Do you think he deserves that? He knows that he's lost everyone's confidence.

REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER WEXTON: But he still needs to be able to govern.

GAYLE KING: Okay.

REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER WEXTON: And that's the problem. If he's spending his entire rest of his term apologizing and trying to preserve his own reputation and his legacy, he's not going to be an effective--

GAYLE KING: Okay.

REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER WEXTON: --governor for the people of the commonwealth. I don't-- I don't think the governor is that selfish at the end of the day.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I-- I want to make sure we also talk about the Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax because I know you have strong feelings about him as well. He has made clear he's not going to resign. Do you expect there to be an attempt to impeach him?

REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER WEXTON: Well, one of the members of the House of Delegates has said that he intends to file articles of impeachment next week. That's a decision that my-- my former colleagues in the General Assembly are going to have to make about-- about how that plays out. But I expect that the lieutenant governor will do the right thing for Virginia and resign.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Two of your Democratic colleagues, Senator Warner and Congressman Scott have-- have sort of hedged their criticisms saying "if true." Is there a possibility that Justin Fairfax is unfairly accused here?

REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER WEXTON: He is the subject of two extremely credible corroborated accusations of serious sexual assault. That's the situation we're looking at right now. It seems highly unlikely that these women would come forward and subject themselves to this kind of abuse if these allegations were not factual.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because I think a lot of people ask, where is the benchmark for you believing the accuser versus believing the lieutenant governor? And they apply that to various different cases whether it was Justice Kavanaugh or their own personal experience. For you, what is the benchmark?

REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER WEXTON: I don't know that I can say that there is a particular benchmark, I judge every case and every-- every complainant and every situation on its merits. You know, I was also a prosecutor and this is not an issue where we need to prove something to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Elected leaders need to be held to a higher standard and where there are credible allegations-- corroborated allegations of serious sexual assault. We're talking about rape and forcible sodomy. This is something that impacts his ability to lead in future.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Democratic Party has really tried to stake out a moral high ground on issues of race, on issues of gender and sexual assault. Do you think these stories--three Democrats here--do you think that this has damaged the party?

REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER WEXTON: I think that our reaction to the-- to these stories shows how seriously we take these allegations and-- and-- and conduct of our elected officials. You know, the good news is Democratic elected leadership-- Democratic leadership doesn't begin and end with the three men serving in elected office in Virginia right now in statewide office. We have a vast numbers (sic) of really talented, diverse, hardworking, capable leaders who are able to step up and fill the void that-- that will be left.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman thank you for joining us. Gayle King, thank you--

GAYLE KING: Thank you, Margaret. Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --for being here with us

When we come back, we'll talk with another Virginia Democrat, former lieutenant governor, now Congressman Don Beyer. Don't go away.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: For some more perspective we turn to Virginia Congressman Don Bayer-- Beyer who also served as the commonwealth's lieutenant governor. You jinxed me there congressman.

REPRESENTATIVE DON BEYER (D-Virginia/@RepDonBeyer): I'm sorry, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm sorry I mu-- muddled your name there. You heard the conversation we just had with Congresswoman Wexton and with Gayle King. Do you agree? Do you think that the governor still needs to step down?

REPRESENTATIVE DON BEYER: I do. And-- and I think that just the-- the great confusion last weekend where he wasn't sure whether he was in the Klan robe or the blackface, has just sacrificed so much of his credibility and his ability to lead. You know, I know he's determined to go on this reconciliation tour but I think he should do that as a private citizen, rather than as the governor.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You don't think because of this experience, as he argued in that interview with Gayle, that he can now have the authority to reach out in a significant way on racial issues?

REPRESENTATIVE DON BEYER: Well, I know that's what he wants to do. And I-- I respect him. I know he wants to rehabilitate his reputation and-- and even his sense of what he called his moral compass. But he sacrificed so much of his ability to govern effectively. Figured the Legislative Black Caucus in Richmond, the Congressional Black Caucus on the Hill, virtually every African-American leader I know, has said that he needs to resign and the-- the Post poll that we've talked about before--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

REPRESENTATIVE DON BEYER: --one of things we missed is that forty percent of black Virginians think he shouldn't remain. That's-- that's a damning number for a Democratic governor.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The governor's a peer of yours. Do you think that the-- the time, the place, the context of any of this should be considered in placing judgment on him?

REPRESENTATIVE DON BEYER: Yes it should. And I think that's one of the differences between Governor Northam and Attorney General Herring. They both made dumb mistakes as young men. Governor Herring though, or Lieutenant Attorney General rather, has been incredibly remorseful, very simple, took it very responsibly. The way our-- my-- Governor Northam handled the first couple of days was confusing, even bizarre. And he's also in a different role. The attorney general is-- runs the state's largest law firm, whereas the governor really has to be the role model for more than eight million people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, Attorney General Herring who you just brought up also admitted to having worn blackface at one point. If he resigns, the next in line is a Republican.

REPRESENTATIVE DON BEYER: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Cynics would look at this and say the calculus to not be as harsh on the attorney general is influenced by that.

REPRESENTATIVE DON BEYER: Yeah, but I don't think that's actually true. There are-- there are cynics who say this is about the next election. But I think it's much more about values. We would move from a progressive, very strong attorney general to someone, who is not just a Republican, but someone who is on the arch conservative end of it. So, the way our laws would be administered Virginia would be completely different. This isn't about party politics as much it is about the kind of Virginia that we want.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Now, the Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax, now two of the accusers have said that they would publicly testify should there be impeachment proceedings. There was no formal investigation here. Does one need to happen?

REPRESENTATIVE DON BEYER: I don't really know how that happens. I mean, maybe the impeachment proceeding does that. I know the lieutenant governor has called for an FBI investigation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

REPRESENTATIVE DON BEYER: We'll see any way that particularly happens. You know, this whole notion of how do you adjudicate guilt here is very difficult. I believe both women. I see no reason why they would come forward. They have nothing to gain. There is no lawsuit. There's no money involved. These were all documented some years back. It wasn't created overnight and I believe the women and I think if you believe the women, we have no-- no call but to call for his resignation. No choice.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Congressman, thank you very much for giving us your perspective.

REPRESENTATIVE DON BEYER: Thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be back with more FACE THE NATION in just a moment.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows. He is the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and one of President Trump's top allies on Capitol Hill. Good to have you here.

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS (R-North Carolina/@RepMarkMeadows): It's great to be with you. Thanks so much.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was on a number of networks this morning and said he absolutely cannot rule out another shutdown this week. Would you support one?

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Well, I think that that's accurate. Obviously, no one wants it, the President doesn't want it. Mick doesn't want it. I don't want it. At-- at the same time what we're seeing with these negotiations going on-- I-- I don't know that they're real serious about reaching a compromise. I mean, they've met twice in-- in almost two weeks now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And yet Senator Shelby was so optimistic after he met with the President this week.

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Yeah. I-- I-- I heard that and-- and Senator Shelby is a, you know, a very seasoned negotiator and-- and-- and certainly when you look at-- at his conversations, you can draw some optimism from it. But I can tell you based on my conversations with conferees and a number of rank and file, there are distinct differences. And-- and here's-- here's what I'm concerned about. Border patrol came in to brief the conference. They gave their top three priorities and the conferees have said zero money for those top three priorities. How can you be serious about securing our border if the very people that are experts on securing it say these are our top three priorities, we need money. And yet they're saying zero dollars for that. I-- I don't understand that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, what is it that you need to see in order to get your vote and that of your caucus?

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Well, I think we need to make sure that our border is secure, not just from a standpoint of strategic fencing or border slats, whatever you want to call it, but we need to make sure that once and for all we secure our border to make sure our communities are safe.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that means explicit wording that says what?

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Well, I think what it means is-- is some amount of funny-- funding that gives border patrol section chiefs the ability to establish priorities, work with the administration on doing that and secure part of the Rio Grande Valley. You know, when we look at-- at some thirty to forty percent of those who come here illegally, they come through one corridor that-- that many times is-- is left open. We need to secure it. That requires some type of physical barrier. And-- and certainly we would support that. If that number is less than 5.7 billion, certainly everyone should be willing to compromise. I know I am and we'll find that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Two billion would be the compromise that the White House would--

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Well, I've-- I've heard that reported honestly when you look at zero to 5.7, somewhere in the mi-- middle would be, you know, a two-billion to three-billion-dollar range. But it's not as much just the dollar amount. It's the flexibility and how to spend it. I think what Democrats are trying to do is say you can spend it here, you can't spend it there. And really the experts should be the ones deciding how we spend it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Two of the Senators involved in negotiations were on Fox today saying that one of the sticking points is the number of ICE agents. What is that--

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Yeah. I think--

MARGARET BRENNAN: -issue?

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: --it's more detention beds when-- when we look at-- at ICE versus detention-- detention beds and what they're talking about is those who come across the border illegally, cutting down on the number of beds which would actually force them being released into the United States and so it's-- it's more of an open border policy that some Democrats have supported in the past. And-- and I don't think that-- that's-- in fact I know that's not going to be supported by this administration.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, we are just days away from running out of money.

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Right. Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How does this end? And do you expect the President to declare a national emergency?

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: Well, I-- I do expect the President and take some kind of executive action--a national emergency is certainly part of that. There are a few other things in his toolbox that he could use. But I do expect him to do that if we don't reach a compromise. And-- and, listen we have about twenty-four hours to do that. At this point they're going to need to look at some type of funding measure to make sure that we don't have a lapse, whether that's a clean CR for a short-term basis or a-- a longer period going through the end of September. They need to make sure that they have something on the table and ready to be voted on in the Senate where we could pass it in the House without a lapse in funding.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman, you and your fellow Republican colleagues were incredibly critical of the last administration when they used executive action that bypassed the will and consent of Congress. How can you support it this time?

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: You know I have been. And-- and here's one of the things that I would reach out to my Democrat colleagues. If once and for all you're wanting to work in a bipartisan manner, to return the power back to Congress, I'm willing-- I'm-- I'm willing to do that even now with this President, with our President's party in-- in the White House, I'm willing to do that. But until we do that, why should we allow a Democrat president in the White House to use executive orders and-- and not do the same with a Republican president. I've put forth measures that would actually eliminate some of the executive branch power.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS: You know philosophically, that's where I am. And yet, at this point, we have a crisis. We have a crisis with a need to secure the border that we have to do. And this President is going to build a wall one way or another.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman, thank you for giving us your perspective.

We will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. Jamelle Bouie is a CBS News political analyst and is now a columnist with The New York Times. Jonah Goldberg is the senior editor for the National Review. Margaret Talev is a senior White House Correspondent for Bloomberg News. And we have our own political correspondent Ed O'Keefe. Ed, it's good to have you here. I know you've been in Richmond for like ten days now--

ED O'KEEFE (CBS News Political Correspondent/@edokeefe): Something like that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --covering the story. You heard Gayle King's interview with the governor. What did you make of what he said?

ED O'KEEFE: I-- you know, clearly, he's bound and determined to stay. And there is some evidence this morning that Virginians, at least half of them, may be okay with that. What I thought was interesting though is that he still clearly hasn't come up with some specific plan on how to move forward other than he mentioned, and I don't believe we aired this part, but he talks later about concerns of infant mortality in the state--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

ED O'KEEFE: --and trying to tackle issues like that over next three years. People need to remember outside of Virginia, they only get elected to one term as governor, so he's a lame duck immediately. So, if he stay, he stays and there's no political retribution for him, but there clearly could be for his party. And I think it's-- it's still an open question as to whether Democrats are really going to tolerate him being in office for the next three years. There are legislative elections later this year. Mark Warner, the senior Senator is up for reelection next year while it's also a presidential year and the thirteen electoral votes in Virginia are ones both parties desperately want. And if these guys are still around, all three of them, even just one or two of them, it could be radioactive for Democrats.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jamelle, you're a Virginian. But looking not just at this as a state story but as a national one, why-- why do you think this is resonating?

JAMELLE BOUIE (The New York Times/@jbouie): I think there are a variety of issues, I mean, with Northam and Herring in particular, there is sort of the-- this larger national reckoning with racism that's ongoing. In some-- to some extent prompted by the President and the President's sort of use of-- of racialized rhetoric and-- and racist rhetoric over his term. And I think Democrats and Virginia Democrats nationally are seeking to kind of basic (INDISTINCT) of zero tolerance for anything like that to create a contrast by saying, in our party, if you have any sort of like whiff of racism in your past or present, that kind of renders you radioactive for-- for the rest of the party. And so, I think that is kind of what is driving this. I think also there is just the element of-- it's-- it feels so old-fashioned, and I think just talking to people who are not Virginians, even talking to Virginians, sort shocked that in 2019 an entire state is facing controversies over blackface, a thing that I think many observers would have thought is in-- in our past or at least recognized as being unacceptable. And so, I think that the shock and surprise of just the circumstances of the controversy, plus the-- the way it resonates in our current national politics has come to driving a lot of-- a lot of the attention.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jonah, the President weighs in on a lot of things, and he weighed in on this a few times this week. And then this morning said, "African-Americans are very angry at the double standard on full display in Virginia." It's not clear what he was referring to, it might have been this Washington Post poll that said the majority of black residents were okay with Northam remaining in office. Why weigh into this?

JONAH GOLDBERG (National Review/@JonahNRO): Because he is like the Norse god Loki. He likes to create drama. He is a master at trolling and creating division. And-- and he was watching-- I think he was watching CNN, Jake Tapper tweeted that. This tweet came right after a conversation along these lines. There-- there are African-American politicians in Virginia, as I understand it, who think the calls for Fairfax to resign are unfair given the fact that, you know, for all the usual understandable partisan politics reasons. And Donald Trump is very good at sort of making-- of-- of sewing division and-- and-- and trolling this kind of stuff. And he gets, from-- from his perspective, pretty good results when he does.

MARGARET TALEV (Bloomberg News/@margarettalev): But-- well, you know, some-- to some extent, what's going on in Virginia is really about these three politicians and they're kind of youth or semi-youth catching up to them. But if you're following 2020, it's so hard to miss the preview of what's to come, you've got this potentially huge Democratic field with cross sections that involve a lot of women, a handful of African-American candidates, and a lot of older white men who have had decades of yearbooks and past statements and-- and sort of generational political shifts where things like three strikes you're out or, you know, whatever, the way you talk about crime, the way you talk about welfare have changed over the years. And so, to some extent, I think it does give us a-- a preview and gives the Democratic Party a preview of the pitfalls of zero tolerance, and also the kind of traps of saying we're going to hold ourselves to a higher standard than-- than President Trump or-- or his party.

JONAH GOLDBERG: My colleague Rich Lowry says-- has this line where he says the Democrats are going through the first woke primary.

ED O'KEEFE: Yeah.

JONAH GOLDBERG: --where everybody is trying to prove that they're zero-tolerance people, that they're-- they-- they check all the boxes on social justice stuff. And this is, you know, a radioactive mess if everybody is trying to be, you know, sort of (INDISTINCT) than now and purer than now in the Democratic 2020 primary.

JAMELLE BOUIE: Probably, I think--

ED O'KEEFE: And you just wonder when the rush to judgment and the inability to stop, take a breath, and wait a second might catch up to them because two or three times this week they've all rushed out and said, he's got to go--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

ED O'KEEFE: --whoever it was. Well, you know, then you ask-- you hear them saying, give us a little time to seek forgiveness and understanding or for due process. And it's like, how-- you know, are they potentially putting themselves in an even bigger box if they don't say, you know what, I'm not from Virginia, why don't we let this sort itself out there and see what happens?

MARGARET TALEV: And the media plays the role and that will also play out over the--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

MARGARET TALEV: --next election cycle also.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jamelle, I want to pick up on something you touched on earlier.

JAMELLE BOUIE: Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Wall Street Journal editorial board put it this way. It says "Democrats believe they must sacrifice Mister Northam to preserve the sword they have made of racial politics for routine use against Republicans. Racism has become the default charge for any GOP policy they dislike on crime, immigration, education, the environment, you name it." The argument is this is tactics. Not true.

JAMELLE BOUIE: So I-- I don't think it's tactics because I-- I do think there's-- there's substance here, right? The-- the Northam yearbook photo is genuinely shocking. It is genuinely shocking to see someone dressed up as a Sambo next to someone dressed up as a Klansman, two things that evoke very painful history and a painful like you see in this country that affects people living today, people alive, people I've spoken to and living, you know, quite recently have experienced these things. And so, I think-- I think the substance is important. I don't think-- I think trying to-- I think Democrats in Virginia and Democrats natural-- nationally are trying to reconcile the-- the fact that there is a substance here with these emerging political standards, with sort of like, yes, the tactical stuff. But I don't think this is a pure, like immoral power politics. I think I'll also add that-- and I think, Margaret, you made a really good point tying this to 2020 that there already has been-- there already are signs the Democrats are looking for my diverse candidates or looking for candidates who are sort of-- aren't tied to legacies of the politics or the '90s and the '80s. And I do think this very much kind of makes that even more solid and in-- in a weird way, even though, you know, I'm reasonably sure Joe Biden has nothing like this in the past. It may-- it may cripple Joe Biden's attempt to run. It may damage Bernie Sanders' attempt to run that just the-- the optics of this are going to reverberate throughout Democratic politics next year.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, what about Elizabeth Warren? Because you saw this week, another issue here of identity and of race. She, it was revealed according to Texas State Bar Application, self-identified as Native American on that and-- and critics seized on this saying, this wasn't an issue of true identity. This was her seeking to advance herself by asking for special treatment. Does this stick to her?

ED O'KEEFE: It's-- it's already sticking. It's clearly sticking. And they know this. And I think to the point about this being a woke primary, that's the element of this that her team didn't anticipate. They thought they get credit for being as transparent as possible, releasing tax return to allowing a thorough review by the Boston Global for employment history and then releasing a DNA test because it would provide such a sharp contrast of the President who doesn't release any information despite the fact that he won and is still in office. But what they didn't anticipate was that by identifying that way when you clearly aren't or only a minuscule part of you is, it suggests that you were trying the take advantage of somebody else's heritage. And that is an-- is an-- is a radioactive element of this that they just are not prepared for. And I think she is going to suffer throughout this campaign, whether they like it or not. And there has been this attitude from her team of, well, we put it all out there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

ED O'KEEFE: Don't we get credit for that? Yeah. But when you can't verify that you have every document and which she's done this, and we don't know whether she and her family spent decades identifying this way, potentially to their advantage, then it invites the scrutiny that they're getting and will continue to get.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Jonah, the President again weighing in on this in a tweet not only mockingly calling her Pocahontas, but then using the term "TRAIL," all caps, which many read as a nod to the Trail of Tears, the-- the forceable relocation of thousands of Native Americans leading to mass death, is he going to be paid-- paying a price for that?

JONAH GOLDBERG: No. I mean, I-- like I--

MARGARET BRENNAN: I mean, have the-- we're talking about this as if these politics of race should have a cost to them.

JONAH GOLDBERG: Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the caveat seems to be in the case of the President, you're saying, no, it's actually a tactic that can be to his benefit.

JONAH GOLDBERG: Well, I-- I just think all of this is baked in with President Trump. The President Trump you see allegedly mocking the Trail of Tears is the same President who mocked parents of gold star families. Everyone has made up their mind about the guy, and that's-- there's a reason why he's never made it out of the forties in approval rating and his real-- his support is about thirty-five percent of the electorate, which gets us to the fact that this-- there's-- if you just look at the math of the electoral college and his approval rating, there is almost literally no way Donald Trump can affirmatively win in 2020. But the Democrats can certainly lose. And if you look at the way these fights are shaping up, if you look at the way the Democrats this last week walked into Donald Trump's thing at the State of the Union about how we're never going to be a socialist country by unveiling in not great fashion the green new deal, it does seem like the Democrats are in danger of spiraling off to exactly the place where the White House wants them to be.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And along those lines, the issue of abortion, very divisive, also reignited. That's where the scrutiny of Northam came from in the first place because of this radio interview he did, Margaret. And Republicans are arguing that Democrats are out of step with public opinion on abortion. Gallup poll conducted in May 2018 showed sixty percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in the first trimester, thirteen percent when asked about terminations in the third trimester. And that's where Northam's comments were directed, that later part.

MARGARET TALEV: Yeah, this is part of, sort of, a larger effort by-- you know, by some Republican strategists to-- to try to paint the Democrats to the extremes because the battle is fought in the middle on these sorts of issues. It's much tougher for Donald Trump and his-- and-- and that segment of kind of the Republican ideological arm, whereas if you're talking not about a woman's right to choose but if you're talking about something that most Americans find extremely reprehensible. If you can redefine what it means to support abortion rights, you can redefine how you feel about Democratic candidates. And I think going to our other conversation, you know, the Trump base is demonstrably different than-- than the Democratic Party's base, which is why there is asymmetrical and there's two different standards for how you talk about racial issues or gender issues or-- or, you know, sort of anything in the spectrum that we have been talking about this morning.

JAMELLE BOUIE: Just also on that point, I think there is something in terms of public perception in the fact that we were referencing a woke primary. I think the term, "Woke," gets to it, which is that there is a sense-- a broad sense that talking about race and racism, talking about identity, it's somehow opportunistic, is somehow not quite sincere in that. On the other end, President Trump sort of like open use of racist language, regardless of what people think about it, reads as somehow more authentic. And I think that there is-- there is a-- there is a-- I'm not saying that it is authentic, but that there is like this Archie Bunker quality to it that I think people are willing to look--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

JAMELLE BOUIE: --past versus a kind of suspicion based on this country's history with racism--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

JAMELLE BOUIE: --of anyone talking about it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We've got to leave it there. Thanks to all of you. We'll be back in a moment.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Trump administration missed a congressional deadline to officially weigh in on whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. We spoke Friday, the day of that deadline with the Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir and asked him about his meeting with the secretary of state earlier in the week.

(Begin VT)

ADEL AL-JUBEIR (Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs/@AdelAljubeir): The-- the death of Jamal Khashoggi was a mass-- massive tragedy. It was a mistake. It was committed by officials of the Saudi government acting outside their scope of authority. The king ordered investigation. The investigation led to the arrest of a number of individuals. Those-- eleven of those individuals have been charged by the public prosecutor, and the trials have begun. We have said we will investigate. We will hold those accountable-- those responsible accountable and we will punish them. The crown prince had nothing to do with this. There was no order given to murder Jamal Khashoggi and-- and the whole country is shocked by this. The trial is taking place. What I tell people is wait until the legal process plays out and then judge us. But don't judge us before the process is complete.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that what the secretary of state told you, that he agrees with your assessment that the crown prince had nothing to do with it?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: I believe that the positions of the President and the secretary of state were very clear. They said that the evidence doesn't-- there is no evidence that points in that direction.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The intelligence community, though, had a very different conclusion here and after the CIA director briefed Congress on the details of what the CIA had found, the Senate then passed a bill saying undoubtedly the crown prince knew about what happened.

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: I don't know what the CIA briefed them but I don't-- I believe that the same briefing that the President and the secretary of state and the secretary of defense at the time received did not point in that direction. So, I think there's a-- there's-- there may be emotions here, there may be exaggerations here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Have you been briefed on what the CIA determined?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: I personally have not. No. But we have communications with them through intelligence channels.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Exactly. And that intelligence relationship is one of the strongest assets of the work between our two countries. So, I know you would think highly of the CIA and its assessment. When it comes to your own internal investigations, in October is when this murder happened.

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Where is Jamal Khashoggi's body?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: We don't know.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you mean you don't know?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: We don't know. They said that the-- the public prosecutor is working to try to establish this fact. We have asked for evidence from Turkey, and he asked them several times, formally, through formal legal channels to provide evidence. We are still waiting to receive any evidence they may have.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're blaming the Turkish government?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: No, I'm blaming the murderers who committed this crime.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have them, you say, in custody though.

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: They can't tell you where the body is?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: We are still investigating. There-- we have now-- a number of-- of possibilities and we're asking them what they did with the body, and I think this investigation is ongoing, and I would expect that eventually we will find the truth.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The New York Times has new reporting out, and I'm sure you've seen the story, detailing how U.S. intelligence intercepted communications of the crown prince telling a top aide in 2017 that he would, quote, "use a bullet" on Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi if he did not return to the kingdom and end his criticism of the Saudi government. What was he talking about?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: I'm not going to comment on reports based on anonymous sources. We have seen many such reports in over the past two or three months that turned out to be incorrect, or that turned out to-- that turned out to be incorrect frankly. And so, I don't know this-- this-- the background. The crown prince, we know, did not order this. This was not a government sanctioned operation. We have an investigation and we have a trial. And many things have been put out that turned out to be incorrect.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did the crown prince know of the murder? You're saying he didn't direct it.

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: Of course not. Of course not. Nobody in Saudi Arabia knew about the murder except the people who did it. That's why when the team came back we said, as far as we know he left the consulate through the backdoor. It turned out to be false. And that's when the king asked for an investigation to be launched. The prosecution launched the investigation. The public prosecutor determined that something went wrong, brought in the people who were in the mission and basically detained them and questioned them and established that yes, they did in fact murder him.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You-- you realize though that there's a lot of skepticism, that there would be this level of dissent to have that large number of people defy the monarch and the crown prince and carry out such a rogue operation?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: It's-- Oliver North was involved in Iran-Contra. And he thought that Ronald Reagan wanted this. And Ronald Reagan did not want this at all. Abu Ghraib, you had people abusing prisoners and the President and the vice president and the secretary of state were not even aware of it. Unfortunately people make mistakes. Unfortunately people exceed their authorities. Unfortunately people do things wrong. We have done the right thing. We acknowledged that this happened. We acknowledged that these were officials of the Saudi government. We acknowledged that this-- they had no authority to do this, and we jailed them. And now we're putting them on trial.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon and owns the Washington Post, is accusing AMI, which publishes The National Enquirer, for essentially trying to extort him with these incriminating photos. He personally said though that the Post's "essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder," specifically of Khashoggi, was "undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles." Did the Saudi government have anything to do with these leaks to AMI?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: Absolutely not. This sounds to me like a soap opera. I've been watching it on television and reading about it in the paper. This is something between the two parties. We have nothing to do with it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, can you say though that the Saudi government and any of its employees or its, you know, contractors that it works with, definitively that they had no contact--

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --with David Pecker or AMI?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: That's as far as I'm aware. And I believe I would be aware. We have ab-- absolutely nothing to do with this. We-- maybe some of our citizens read The National Enquirer when they're in the United States. Other citizens watch the soap opera unfold on television, but that's it.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: The full interview with minister al-Jubeir is on our website at facethenation.com. We'll be back in a moment.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: The final push to eliminate ISIS forces from Syria has begun. CBS News foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata filed this report from the front lines.

(Begin VT)

CHARLIE D'AGATA (CBS News Foreign Correspondent/@charliecbs): At full sprint we raced through a desert wasteland of former ISIS territory in eastern Syria toward the last sliver of land still under the group's control. Years of battle etched on the face of our chain-smoking escort behind the wheel. Up the stairs in a bombed-out home, the rooftop provides a glimpse of the final ISIS village of Baghuz Fawqani. Women in black burqas, trucks, motorcycles, daily life of all that's left in the dying days of this so-called caliphate.

(Khaled Baran speaking foreign language)

CHARLIE D'AGATA: Local commander Khaled Baran told us there had been a pause to let civilians leave before the final offensive, yet moments later, airstrikes in all probability from a U.S. warplane struck an ISIS position in the no man's land between the front line and the village. And then one much closer to us followed by a whizzing noise, what sounded like an incoming mortar that sent everyone scrambling. It's not clear how many ISIS militants remain holed up, but the past few days have seen an exodus of families along with some suspected ISIS fighters among them. They arrive hungry and cold to a desolate holding camp in the desert. The men separated from the women and interrogated.

They were promised a utopia of an Islamic State, but now these ISIS families have been reduced to eating American-made rations and living out of a hole in the ground.

When we first visited the front lines a few weeks ago right beside local soldiers launching a barrage of mortars, we found some of the two thousand American troops who had been at the forefront of this fight. Their Kurdish allies have suffered grave losses, more than eight thousand fighters. They now worry the end of ISIS as a territorial force will hasten the withdrawal of U.S. troops they desperately rely on for advice, artillery, and especially air power.

We know how important America has been to the fight. Are you worried about what might happen after American forces leave?

(Adnan Afreen (ph) speaking foreign language)

CHARLIE D'AGATA: "We started this together with Americans on the ground and their air support," Commander Adnan Afreen told us. Just before the end the American decision to withdraw, it's not a good decision, not the right time.

ISIS is cornered now. Territory once bigger than Indiana now reduced to a strip of land no larger than Central Park, and unlike every other battle here, this time there is no escape. There is nowhere left to run.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Our Charlie D'Agata reporting from Syria.

We'll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Please tune in to CBS THIS MORNING tomorrow for more of Gayle King's interview with Virginia Governor Northam, and Bob Schieffer filed a special tribute to the longest-serving member of Congress, John Dingell, who died on Friday. We didn't have enough time to air it today, but it will be on our website, so please check it out.

Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.