Watch CBSN Live

Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on February 16, 2020

2/16: Face The Nation
2/16: Face The Nation 46:12

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

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

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington and this week on FACE THE NATION, Attorney General Barr says he won't be bullied by anyone, including President Trump, when it comes to politically charged Justice Department investigations.

And as former campaign 2020 frontrunners, Biden and Warren stumble coming out of New Hampshire the focus turns to other candidates trying to win over their supporters.

Plus, as the number of coronavirus cases escalates dramatically, the tactics being used by the Chinese to fight its spread get even more drastic.

Another week of back and forth between the President and a top government official. This time it's the President weighing in on how the Justice Department should be handling cases involving Trump allies and perceived enemies. That prompted Attorney General Barr to publicly rebuke him, telling the President to, essentially, butt out.

WILLIAM BARR: To have public statements and tweets made about the department make it impossible for me to do my job, and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the-- in the department that we're doing our work with integrity.

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Trump's response? He's not interfering, but that he could if he wanted to. We'll talk with a Trump ally on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Louisiana's John Kennedy.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts's senator, Elizabeth Warren, limp out of New Hampshire and head west to Nevada. The state that's next up for voting. But with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg continuing to blitz the Super Tuesday states, the Democrats accelerate their attacks on the New York billionaire. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar scored a breakout third place finish in New Hampshire.

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Every step of the way I have exceeded expectations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll talk with her and the other billionaire in the Democratic race, Tom Steyer. His ad campaign in South Carolina has propelled him to the top tier in that race.

Finally, with the number of coronavirus cases surging worldwide to over fifty thousand, we'll talk with Doctor Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health.

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

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. The head of the World Health Organization said yesterday that it was impossible to predict which direction this coronavirus now named COVID-19 will take. As of this morning, the death toll around the world stands at over one thousand six hundred and sixty. Efforts are underway in Yokohama, Japan, this morning to evacuate Americans from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. CBS News foreign correspondent Debora Patta is at the scene.

(Begin VT)

DEBORA PATTA (CBS News Foreign Correspondent/@Debora_Patta): It was supposed to be a scenic cruise around Asia, instead, all passengers have seen for more than a week are medical staff in hazmat suits.

The Diamond Princess has been quarantined here in Yokohama for nearly ten days now. But for many of the nearly four hundred Americans on board, that ends today. They've packed their bags, ready to go home.

The situation on board deteriorated this weekend with more than three hundred and fifty confirmed infections. Of those, over forty are Americans. Buses started arriving at the harbor earlier today and have taken the U.S. citizens to Haneda Airport in Tokyo. They will fly out in the early hours of the morning local time. Passengers who show any symptoms of the coronavirus will not be allowed to fly. But there's a catch. Once home, everyone evacuated from the ship will have to undergo another fourteen days of quarantine in the U.S. In Wuhan, China, the crisis epicenter, increasingly draconian methods are being used to contain the virus. The front door of a family suspected of being infected is welded shut. Here, emergency workers spray disinfectant inside offices as workers just sit at their computers. China has been criticized for its lack of transparency in the initial stages of the outbreak. But it's hoped that will change with the arrival in Beijing of a multinational team of experts from the World Health Organization.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's our Debora Patta in Yokohama.

Joining us now is Doctor Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH. Doctor Fauci, it's good to have you here.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI (Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases): Good to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We were just hearing about the State Department sending planes to help evacuate some of these Americans who were on that cruise ship. Debora said more than forty now. What can you tell us in terms of the Americans who have been exposed and infected?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, forty of them have gotten infected. They are not going to go anywhere. They are going to be in hospitals in Japan. People who have symptoms will not be able to get on the evacuation plane. Others are going to be evacuated starting imminently to Air Force bases in the United States. If people on the plane start to develop symptoms, they will be segregated within the plane. So there's a very firm plan with this 747 that is going to take these passengers now who have been there. If you want to stay in Japan, your last chance would be to get on the plane and leave or you stay there. When you come back to the United States, importantly, they are still subjected to a fourteen-day quarantine. And the reason for that is that the degree of transmissibility on that cruise ship is, essentially, akin to being in a hot spot. A lot of transmissibility on that cruise ship.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So for the Americans who are infected, what does that actually mean? What-- what is the state of their health?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Yeah. Well, it varies. I mean you could be infected and have minimal symptoms, but you still have the possibility of transmitting it to someone else.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Or you could be infected and have some significant lung disease that would require hospitalization and perhaps even some serious intervention.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Now, Malaysian health authorities have also said there was an eighty-three-year-old American woman who had been on a different cruise ship which ended up docking in Cambodia. She landed in Malaysia and then tested positive. This kind of spread, does this indicate this is becoming a pandemic?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, a pandemic is when you have multiple countries throughout the world that have what's called sustained transmission from person to person to person, multiple generations. Right now, there are twenty-four countries in which there were over five hundred cases. Several of them are starting to get to the second and third transmission. So, technically speaking, the WHO wouldn't be calling this a global pandemic but it certainly is on the verge of that happening reasonably soon unless containment is more successful than it is right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As Debora said there are experts landing in China this weekend.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Americans will be among them.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there anyone from your team and-- and what is the difference--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --if, say, the CDC had been allowed in--



DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: You know, Margaret, to be honest with you, we really should not be talking about that because the sensitivity of coming out ahead of the Chinese of making any kind of announcement. But you're correct, there's certainly--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the Chinese ambassador was on this program last week and he indicated Americans were on that list.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, then if he says it, then they are on that list. Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But-- but what is the difference there? Why would it be more beneficial to have--

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, for two reasons--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --your agency be able to send people, have CDC officials there?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, the reason is because, first of all, this-- our CDC are the best epidemiologists in the world. They can be helpful to the Chinese as well as get information firsthand, eyes, ears, and boots on the ground. So it really is to be helpful as part of a WHO group.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because the WHO has been criticized, perhaps being too careful around the Chinese government--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --in their part of the U.N. agency. They receive international funding. China has tremendous power over them. Is that criticism fair?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: You know I don't know if it's fair or not, but, certainly, it's been spoken about. I mean, clearly, the director of WHO, Doctor Tedros, is really an outstanding person. And under very difficult circumstances, I think he is doing a very good job.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The President has said at least twice so far that the virus could tick down in these warmer months ahead. He indicated--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --President Xi told him that.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that how the virus actually works?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: This virus, we don't know. But it is not unreasonable to say that influenza, for example, which peaks in the winter, you would certainly expect it by March, April and May to taper down, as well as typical common cold coronaviruses. That's not an unreasonable statement. However, we do not know what this particular virus is going to do. So we would think it would be a stretch to assume that it's going to disappear with the warm weather. We don't know that. It's completely unknown.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said recently that you could have some kind of vaccine within a year or so.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Right, right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you speed up that timeline and how do you fix the problem you said you have, which is finding a manufacturer?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Right. Well, first of all, Margaret, that one-year timeline would be the world's indoor record of ever getting a vaccine out, at least to be able to early deploy. You can't do any better than that. If you go any faster, you'd be cutting dangerous corners.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And no manufacturer yet?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Oh, yeah, manufacturers. Once you get a vaccine that you know works the difficulty is having companies take that risk of hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to scale up to make it available.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. So you're still looking for a partner on that?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: I think we're going to get them because I'm seeing--


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: --interest on the part of pharmaceutical companies that we did not see with SARS and other outbreaks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Doctor Fauci, thank you--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --for this update. I appreciate it.

We turn to another big story this week, Attorney General Barr's strong public pushback to perceived presidential interference into Justice Department cases. Republican Senator John Kennedy joins us now from Louisiana. Senator, thank you for being with us.

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY (R-Louisiana/@SenJohnKennedy): Thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The President says he has the legal right to intervene in criminal cases. Do you agree?

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Just because-- does the President have a right to tweet about a case? Of course. Just because you can sing, though, doesn't mean you should-- should sing. You can have a voice like Mick Jagger, but you wouldn't want to start belting out Honky Tonk Woman in church. This is a case where tweeting less would not cause brain damage. Look, Roger Stone is pretty good at bad decisions and nobody would confuse him with Alexander Hamilton. Bill Barr's Justice Department prosecuted him and convicted him. While the attorney general and others were trying to get the Senate's recommendations straight, the President tweeted, put the attorney general in an awkward spot and he spoke out--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think the interference--

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: --I hope the President will--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --ends at tweets?

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: I have no indication that it doesn't. And Bill Barr has said categorically and unequivocally that the President has never tried to influence him in a criminal case, nor should he. Look, this is my experience with Bill Barr. He's mature. He's serious. He exercises power fairly and intelligently. He's cursed with a rational mind and he's tough as a boot. And he has given the President his advice, his best advice. And I hope that President Trump will accept it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said that you take the attorney general at his word that he was already going to intervene in this case prior to the President's public tweet about Roger Stone. But--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --is it a good idea for him to get personally involved in such a politically charged case?

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Look, this is-- this is the way the process works at Justice, particularly when a public figure is involved. There are checks and balances and there are multiple layers of supervision. Now, I-- it has been reported, I don't know if it's accurate, it's been reported by two major mainstream news organizations that the-- the four-- the four front frontline prosecutors here said, look, we're going to recommend seven to nine years for Stone, and if you don't like it, they said this to their supervisors, we're going to quit and call the press conference. That's not the proper procedure. Nobody's above the law, but nobody beneath the law. Being-- Mister Stone's status as a chucklehead is not a criminal act.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, but the question was whether the--

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: And there's nothing wrong--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --whether the attorney general himself should have gotten personally in-- involved. He said in an interview with ABC that-- that the U.S. attorney did consult with him before the filing.

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Well, he didn't initiate it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He disagreed on it, and then he--

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Bill Barr-- Bill Barr didn't--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --personally got involved.

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Yeah. Bill Barr didn't initiate it. All Bill Barr's Justice Department did was prosecute the gentleman. The U.S. attorney in Washington came to Bill Barr and said, hey, I've got a question about the sentence. So, Barr says, well, let's talk about it, at least according to Mister Barr's testimony. In the meantime, the frontline prosecutors went out on their own. Now, I don't know exactly what happened. I just know what's been reported, Margaret, but I can tell you if a-- if a staff-- one of my staff members came to me and said, Kennedy, I don't agree with your position on net neutrality, and if you don't change it, I'm going to quit and call a press conference.


SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: I'll tell you what I'd do. I'd say you have me confused with somebody who cares about what you think. Go call your press conference. You can't resign because you're fired.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you want to call those prosecutors in for questioning?

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: I-- I-- if they want to make a statement, that's fine. If-- if-- if the reported facts are wrong--


SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: --they should say something.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it would-- it would answer your questions, I guess.

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: But a frontline prosecutor--


SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: --a front line prosecutor on any case can't just go-- go out on his or her own, particularly, when it involves a public figure.



MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you-- sorry, I want to just get to another topic as well--


MARGARET BRENNAN:--since I have you here. Last time you were with us--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --back in November on FACE THE NATION, you said if it could be demonstrated that the President asked for an investigation of a political rival, then it would be, in your words, over the line and probably impeachable. Do you still stand by that?

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: It depends on why he asked for it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because I want--

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: I think what I said at the time-- I think what I said at the time was that if a President asked for an investigation of a political rival because he is a political rival, that would be wrong.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, because I am asking you--

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: But if a President asks--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --because President Trump was on Geraldo Rivera's program this week and said that he did direct Rudy Giuliani to go to Ukraine. And as we know, Rudy Giuliani has said he went to Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. So that description--

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Well, but you have to ask why.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --from the President, does it meet your standard?

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: You have to ask why, Margaret. The President asked for investigation of Joe Biden and his son and Burisma. He didn't get Joe Biden's name out of the phone book. He didn't ask for an investigation of Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. He asked for an investi-- four words why the President asked for an investigation: Hunter Biden and Burisma.


SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Now, these are the facts. I didn't make this up. President Obama put Vice President Biden in charge of the foreign affairs of two countries: Ukraine--


SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: --and China. And in both cases--

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're running out of time here, Senator.

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: --his son walked away with millions of dollars of contract.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. I was just asking you about--

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: And you know the message that's sent to the world?

MARGARET BRENNAN: I wanted to ask you just about your standard which is why I was going back to that. But we do have to leave it there, Senator.

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Let me-- let me-- let me be clear--


SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Let me be clear--


SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: There's nothing wrong--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --Senator, I'm sorry--

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: There's nothing wrong with a President asking for an investigation of corruption.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Thank you.

We'll be back with 2020 Democratic candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar who had a strong third place finish in New Hampshire. She's going to join us from Nevada.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we are back with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. She joins us this morning from Las Vegas. Senator, good to have you.

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-Minnesota/@amyklobuchar/Democratic Presidential Candidate): Great to be on, Margaret. Thanks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you take Attorney General Barr at his word that he would not take legal measures for political purposes and that his personal intervention in the Roger Stone case had nothing to do with the President's directive?

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: You know I think he needs to go under oath; and I am very glad that he's going to have to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. I also hope he comes over to our Senate Judiciary Committee as well, because that's where we're really going to be able to get that answer. The President is constantly tweeting out different requests of the Justice Department. And I think here where you've got career prosecutors that made difficult decisions about how to handle this case, they got a conviction, they put their all into it, and then they get undermined on the sentencing. And they-- one of them leaves the Justice Department, the other one gets transferred off the case. That is not normal at all. You have to allow justice to have its course, and that means no political intervention.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. We'll see if that hearing happens, Senator. But I want to get to your candidacy now. You are a 2020 contender. You did well in New Hampshire. Nevada's a very different state. It is more diverse. So that means you also need to broaden your support. How do you do that?

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Well, I'm very excited about our chances here. We just had a double-digit poll out of one of the newspapers. I also just got the Las Vegas Sun endorsement, and we have had huge events here, over a thousand people in Reno. We're building up our staff all over the country, actually in the Super Tuesday states, because, finally, I've gotten the resources I need, over twelve million dollars just in the little over a week since the New Hampshire debate--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you have to pl--

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: --is regular people--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --play a little catch up there.

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: That's for sure. But for me, I look at Las Vegas and Nevada, I see this. I'm the leader on tourism in the U.S. Senate. Big-- big employers here. Number two, I've been good on union issues and stood by working people. My whole background is a union background, my grandpa, my dad, my mom. Third, two women U.S. senators here. Majority women in the legislature. They are lo-- used to electing women and they are very proud of it. And then, finally, since the moment I got to the Senate, I worked on immigration reform. Ted Kennedy asked me as a new senator to be in the small group that worked on it when George Bush was President. Unfortunately, we came close. We didn't make it. I worked on it again when Obama was President. And as President, I will get it done. So I'm actually been having a lot of fun out here, not to mention it's nice to be in the sun.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, roughly nineteen percent of Nevada's population was born outside the U.S. I mean that's a significant portion--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --fifth largest in the country. You're getting criticized this week because you are just now making some changes to your immigration position. And you also said English-- you reversed your position on whether English should be the national language. Do you think that reversal this week actually won you support?

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: That wasn't this week. And-- and understand not everyone's following every twist and turn of this campaign. But I said this way, way back, months and months ago, back in Miami when I was asked by a journalist. That-- that was an early vote on English as the official language. A number of other Democrats voted the same way, and actually nearly all Democrats, eventually, voted for it. It was in the base bill. I know that's not a good idea because it would be hard to translate brochures and voting materials and the like. And I was glad after working on the latest version, the 2013 immigration bill, that that wasn't in there. It shouldn't be in there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But on the specifics of what you would do differently, Joe Biden did an interview with Univision in which he was pressed over the deportations of three million people during the Obama administration. He says now that was a big mistake. Do you believe it was a mistake for the administration to deport people who did not have criminal records?

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: I think that that went way too far, yes. And I think you've seen a lot of that across our country. The question is what do we do going forward? And to me, the very straightforward answer is comprehensive immigration reform. It would save a hundred fifty-eight billion dollars in reduction on the deficit in just ten years. And part of that money, when you talk about deportations, could be used for our asylum process, to improve that. Part of it could be used to help those Northern Triangle countries and allow people to seek asylum--


SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: --from those countries. I would immediately, as President, stop the heinous practice of separating kids from their parents at the border in my first one hundred days.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I also want to ask you about issues around race. Michael Bloomberg has come under some criticism for his time as mayor: stop-and-frisk, past public comments he's also made that are now viewed as insensitive, to say the least. You yourself have said there are racial disparities in the criminal justice system. You were a prosecutor. And if you look at the black and white prison rates in the county where you served, there are disparities. So for you as a candidate, do you have regrets about your tenure?

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: I think anyone involved in the criminal justice system, including me, we know that it must be changed. And I, back then, knew that there were issues. We actually saw a twelve-percent reduction in African-American incarceration rates during my eight years leading the office that handled about ten to fifteen thousand cases a year. I pioneered a new form of eyewitness identification, working with the Innocence Project to try to reduce racially discriminatory misidentifications. I reviewed all of our DNA serious cases to check to make sure there were not issues with those cases. And I diversified the office. But as for what Michael Bloomberg did, I-- stop-and-frisk, that is unconstitutional. And I'll say this: I am on your show right now, Margaret, answering these tough questions. Where is he? He just keeps running a bunch of ads. He'll probably have more ads during your show in certain states than I am on answering your questions. I think he cannot hide behind the airwaves and the money. I think he has to come on the shows. And I personally think he should be on the debate stage. I am never going to beat him on the airwaves, but I can beat him on the debate stage.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Klobuchar, thank you very much.

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Margaret. It was wonderful to be on.

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


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We're joined now by businessman and Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer, who is also in Las Vegas this morning. Good morning to you.

TOM STEYER (Democratic Presidential Candidate/@TomSteyer): How are you doing, Margaret?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Very well. I want to know how you're doing out there in Nevada. What will constitute success for you in that caucus?

TOM STEYER: Look, I want to come in first or second. I've spent more time in Nevada than any other candidate. We have a great team on the ground here. I've gone out of my way to try and make sure that I see as many people face to face. And I believe we're putting together the kind of coalition in Nevada and in South Carolina that the Democrats are going to have to put together to win in November of 2020.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Nevada is a caucus state. Do you have confidence that you won't see a repeat of what happened in Iowa?

TOM STEYER: Well, yesterday was the first day of early caucusing, Margaret. And almost twelve thousand people showed up. I think that it seems in-- in good shape and we're confident that it's going to work here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. I want to ask you, you indicated you're also focused on what happens next at the end of the month in South Carolina. You've been investing a tremendous amount of resources with ad dollars, with-- with your time, with your campaign there. Why are you so focused on South Carolina? Do you see that as sort of the final test of your campaign?

TOM STEYER: Well, let me say this: I am really focused on Nevada and South Carolina, Margaret.


TOM STEYER: I think these are two--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you've got the largest state operation of any candidate out in-- in South Carolina, and I think your wife just moved there. You seem to be all in.

TOM STEYER: Look, we are really serious about South Carolina. We are really serious about Nevada. And I want to make a point. Both of these states are diverse states. Both of these states reflect the kind of diversity that is America and that is the Democratic Party. And I think whoever is going to be the candidate has got to be able to show that he or she can pull together that diverse big tent that is the Democratic Party. And I think that's what we're trying to do here in Nevada. And I know that's what we're trying to do in South Carolina. To go-- I was-- I think I'm the last person, other than Michael Bloomberg, to get into this race. And I've still spent more time in Nevada than any other candidate and I've spent more time in South Carolina than any other candidate. I really think it's about grassroots.


TOM STEYER: I'm a grassroots person. I built one of the biggest grassroots organizations in the United States, next-gen America. And I really believe in people being on the ground, the candidate being on the ground and seeing people face to face.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have said because you were a hedge fund manager, that it makes you uniquely qualified, your experience to have a positive economic impact as President. The Federal Reserve chair testified this week that labor force participation, basically, you know, the share of Americans who work is low, is happening because-- and in a negative place, because of the opioid crisis and problems with the education system. Is that how you diagnose the problem?

TOM STEYER: Well, let me say this, Mister Trump is a terrible economic President. He does very short term fix--

MARGARET BRENNAN: This was his Federal Reserve chairman.

TOM STEYER: I understand that. I'm going to address the Federal Reserve chairman's statements. But I-- this has to do with Mister Trump. He is running on the economy, but he is really running on a Mar-a-Lago economy where he's given big benefits to rich people and big corporations in the short run. What the Federal Reserve chairman is talking about in terms of opioids and education is how you actually develop long-term prosperity and justice. And that is by investing in young people through education, specifically including universal pre-kindergarten, and by dealing with issues of health around the country, including the opioid crisis, including mental health. What Mister Trump is doing is a very superficial short-term juice to the economy through his pals at the Mar-a-Lago Country Club and other rich people. And he is avoiding the actual long-term prosperity of Americans that is done by investing in the American people, by making us productive over time. And that means education, health care for every American, a living wage. The wages of Americans--


TOM STEYER: --are outrageously low. It's a completely different way of thinking, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But when you talk about trying to even the playing field with reparations, something that you've said you support. How do you repair it? Do you say that the divide is about education or are you talking about financial restitution, writing checks?

TOM STEYER: Well, what I've said, Margaret is this, and you're right, I am the only candidate running for President who will say that he or she is for reparations. But what I've also said is this: the way to figure out the correct solution in this case is I would have a formal commission on race the first day-- starting the first day of my presidency to retell the story of the more than four hundred years that African-Americans have been here in America, to tell the story not just of legalized injustice and cruelty, but also of the contributions that the African-American community have made--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you don't--

TOM STEYER: --to the building of America--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --have a specific mechanism yet?

TOM STEYER: Well, correct.


TOM STEYER: The-- what I'm saying is this: in order to come up with solutions, you have to go through together and tell the story because out of the narrative comes the policy changes.


TOM STEYER: One thing I have said-- one thing I have said, Margaret, is that I would put a hundred and twenty-five billion dollars into the historically black colleges and universities, which have lost forty-two percent of their federal funding over the last decade--


TOM STEYER: --and which have done a magnificent job over more than a century of being a lifeline for black kids to-- to go to this-- to go to colleges and universities when the mainline schools are closed to them.


TOM STEYER: That's just an example. But the real idea is to come up with a solution together--


TOM STEYER: --not to mandate one from the top.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. Thank you, Mister Steyer, for your time.

We'll be right back with our political panel. And they are on their way in, as we speak.

TOM STEYER: Thank you, Margaret.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (2007): I'll tell you where I am going.

WOMAN (2007): A beautiful…

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (2007): First, Iowa, then New Hampshire. Maybe I can get the whole country to behave.

(Crowd cheering)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's Michael Bloomberg. And he has taken a lot of incoming this week from his opponents based on things he said in the past. And we can't wait to see what they'll say about that one.

We will turn now to our panel for some political analysis. Amy Walter is national editor at Cook Political Report and host of The Takeaway, Eliana Johnson is editor-in-chief of The Washington Free Beacon, Paula Reid covers the White House for CBS News, and Ed O'Keefe is on the campaign trail for CBS. Good to have you all here. Ed, I didn't know that they allowed you back in Washington.

ED O'KEEFE (CBS News Political Correspondent/@edokeefe): I didn't either, but here we are.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But that I think is the first sort of uplifting, so to speak, Bloomberg clip.


MARGARET BRENNAN: There were a lot of really damaging things that his campaign had to respond to this week.

ED O'KEEFE: There really were between, again, his past comments on stop-and-frisk and his support for it about redlining. And, of course, all the issues that were, you know, dealt with at Bloomberg News and Bloomberg L.P. back in the day. They-- they were preparing for this, and I think it's telling when on a Sunday morning Kellyanne Conway, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders are all in agreement that there is something wrong with Mike Bloomberg. And the problem is he is spending so much money and he is climbing in the polls. And his opponents on the Democratic side are terrified of what's coming because he is either going to do well enough to accrue several delegates in these fourteen Super Tuesday states or it will have been seen as a foolish investment. But if it was so foolish, they wouldn't be so focused on him. And I think they know what's coming.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And there was one particular piece of audio tape that I want to play for our audience here because to hear Michael Bloomberg saying it himself is another matter. Let's listen to stop-and-frisk.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (Aspen Institute, 20I15; recorded message): Ninety-five percent of your murders--murderers and murder victims--fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities, sixteen to twenty-five. That's true in New York. That's true in virtually every city. And that's where the real crime is.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, Mayor Bloomberg has since apologized for this policy and some on his campaign says he will just have to continue to do so.

AMY WALTER (Cook Political Report/@amyewalter): Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you beat the tape, fight the tape, so to speak?

AMY WALTER: Well, he's got the ads going for him. And, in fact, as we were sitting, we did-- come on, we watched a number-- I think two-- at least two of them--


AMY WALTER: --come on during this broadcast.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Amy Klobuchar said it was unconstitutional.

AMY WALTER: The-- well, and the judge said it was unconstitutional--


AMY WALTER: --which is why they are not doing it anymore. Look, Democratic voters have been spending the last year telling us we want a candidate who can beat Donald Trump. And thus far they have not found that candidate. They keep splitting among the group of-- of candidates who is selling themselves as the most electable. And, ultimately, those voters are going to have to decide. And this is what the Bloomberg campaign is counting on is there is no perfect candidate. There is no candidate that hasn't had to apologize for things they have said or voted on or done. And so will you be willing in the name of electability, be willing to overlook and get past someone's past, or will you set a bar that's high enough that many of these candidates just are never going to make it?


ELIANA JOHNSON (Washington Free Beacon/@elianayjohnson): Look, you know, when I look at Michael Bloomberg, he reminds me of somebody who has achieved some measure of political success. He is a billionaire, New Yorker who has switched parties, and has said many impolitic and politically correct, incorrect things that have offended women and minorities. He reminds me a lot of Donald Trump.


ELIANA JOHNSON: And I think there may be some appeal. I-- I don't think that these attacks will hurt him. What I do think we need to see, like we saw with Donald Trump, is how Bloomberg reckons with these attacks on a debate stage--


ELIANA JOHNSON: --and on the campaign trail. And he has ducked that. And I do think that will hurt him if he doesn't start doing it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Paula, the President himself, not only does he have some of his advisers--as Ed indicated on the Sunday shows today--hitting out at Mike Bloomberg. He's been tweeting--

PAULA REID (CBS News White House Correspondent/@PaulaReidCBS): That's right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --a ton about this candidate.

PAULA REID: He took-- he took debate, right? His advisers have been telling him, just ignore him, it doesn't matter. Focus. We've got to focus on those suburban voters and we're going to try to get some black voters back, expand our electoral college. Chance is but he took debate. And it's interesting he took debate, not only taking shots at his height but also in stop-and-risk, which is amazing because for the past seven years the President has been tweeting his support for stop-and-frisk.

ED O'KEEFE: Right.

PAULA REID: So to now suggest that Mike Bloomberg is a racist because of what you heard on that tape, that's-- that's a remarkable strategy.

ED O'KEEFE: And I think that's part of the difference here is that Bloomberg has apologized. He has sought to distance himself.


ED O'KEEFE: He has convinced black leaders in this country that he doesn't feel that way anymore. He's disavowed it. Plus, he is putting his money into causes that are clearly priorities to Democrats whether it's the ten-year investment in Virginia--



ED O'KEEFE: --to get Democrats for total control of state government that they now have or into the Sierra Club and-- and to Everytown for Gun Safety.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Twenty eighteen congressional races.

ED O'KEEFE: Exactly. Democrats look at that and go, oh, he really has put his money behind this, unlike the other New Yorker who is politically incorrect, who barely spends any of his own money, sets of charities that are clearly fraudulent. So, you know, if people can see beyond that, then, you know, perhaps Bloomberg will be just fine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know there was also tape today from an interview that Univision did. Jorge Ramos, an anchor there, pressed Joe Biden on the Obama administration immigration policies. I asked one of our guests earlier about it, the three million who were deported. And he was, kind of, on his heels in-- in this exchange. Let's listen.

(Begin VT)

JOE BIDEN (Univision-Al Punto/Real America): All the unaccompanied children were coming across the border. We tried to get them out, we had kept them safe, and get them out of the-- the detention centers that-- ascend to that center, that were run by Homeland Security and get them into communities as quickly as we can.

JORGE RAMOS (Univision-Al Punto/Real America): Many people would say they were cages. I mean, just--

JOE BIDEN: Well, look--


JOE BIDEN: --you know you're not telling the truth here about the comparison of the two things.

JORGE RAMOS: I'm-- I'm-- I'm saying that the numbers in your administration were not the same as the ones were seen right now with the Trump administration.

JOE BIDEN: Well, beyond that. But look how quickly we got them out and got them back to families. Look, how we didn't engage and we sought the relatives here. We sought to get them into safe communities. We sought to get them out of the control of Homeland Security to get them safe, but they came unaccompanied. Unaccompanied.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And what you saw there in Jorge Ramos' hand was a picture of children in cages. This is something that President Trump has defended having done saying they're not cages. His administration said they're cage-like structures and, oh, by the way, this happened during the Obama administration. Ramos had a picture showing it happened during the Obama administration. Is immigration a weak point for Joe Biden?

ED O'KEEFE: It could be especially in Nevada. You have a younger far more liberal base of Latino voters in that state who have felt the direct impact of immigration policies during the Obama and Trump years. He's trailing Bernie Sanders now among them. If this, you know, permeates over the next week certainly it could create weaknesses. It is telling that he now calls it a mistake having been confronted about it over the last several months by Julian Castro and some of his other opponents, having disregarded questions about it and batted him away to now go to Nevada where immigration is a far more pressing and relevant issue and say so I think is proof of how quickly the narrative of these primaries can change depending on the state you're in. He didn't want to discuss this in Iowa and New Hampshire. He'll happily discuss it now in Nevada.

ELIANA JOHNSON: I-- I see it a little bit differently. I think-- I think the problem with Biden and immigration is his response to it. I think if he wanted to own that moderate lane he should be vocally defending the Obama administration's policies on this by saying this is an endemic problem that multiple administrations Democrat and Republican have been dealing with it. We did-- we dealt with it the best we could. Trump's strongest supporters are on the issue of immigration. Biden needs to win some of those Obama-Trump voters back. And I think explaining and backpedaling and doing so in such a tentative way is a fail for him.

ED O'KEEFE: Well, he's got to win a primary first. And so now he can't afford to not say it's a mistake--

AMY WALTER: Well, but if you're running--

ED O'KEEFE: --because he'll lose that primary.

AMY WALTER: But if you're running, as I'm going to return us to a--


AMY WALTER: --pre-Trump era--


AMY WALTER: --it's going to be just like Obama. Remember me? I was the vice president under this guy. Then you're going to own all of that.

ED O'KEEFE: Right.

AMY WALTER: And to have a better response is going to be very difficult, so either you're going to be the-- the Barack Obama 2.0 or you're not.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Paula, on this program last week, Senator Lindsey Graham revealed that there was this channel--

PAULA REID: Huge news.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --to deliver information from Ukraine gathered by Rudy Giuliani on Joe Biden--

PAULA REID: Exactly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --to-- directly to the Justice Department that is already investigating Rudy Giuliani. I feel like that story we kind of moved on from but that in and of itself is tremendous, not just for Joe Biden saying the story's not going away--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --but what this says about what the Justice Department is doing.

PAULA REID: That's so true. It's such huge news. The next day the attorney general had a press conference where he took one, one question before exiting the stage and, thankfully, it was on this. And he confirmed that, yes, in fact, he has tapped a U.S. attorney to review whatever it is Rudy Giuliani brought back from Ukraine in that suitcase and any other information that people are-- are gathering in Ukraine. And even though the Roger Stone case is what really brought to everyone's attention this week, you know, the Justice Department, Bill Barr's role in using his stature to really bolster the President. The fact is this is one of several reviews. This is one of several U.S. attorneys who Barr has tapped, specifically, to look into one of the President's pet issues. He has a U.S. attorney in Connecticut reviewing once again the origins of the Russia probe. We now also have a review of politically charged cases in DC, including Mike Flynn. And this is why right now there is a crisis of confidence within the Justice Department. There are concerns that the President's pet issues are getting a special look. And that, again, Barr is using his stature and his authority to help the President. He said this week, "I don't need to be bullied."


PAULA REID: Well, you don't necessarily need to be bullied. But if you know all of these issues are important to the President, you're clearly giving them validity through these reviews while simultaneously receiving a criminal referral from the CIA and passing on it without even interviewing a single person.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Kennedy said, oh, it's a matter of the President, shouldn't be tweeting. But you're saying this goes far deeper than--

PAULA REID: Absolutely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --the Justice Department being upset by a tweet.

PAULA REID: Sure. Absolutely. The crisis of confidence, it's not just about Roger Stone, it's not just about the attorney general overriding career prosecutors and putting his, you know, his opinion into that-- that case and-- and revising the sentencing recommendation. It-- it's systemic, it's from the very beginning of his tenure. He came out and he framed the Mueller investigation's findings in a way that even Robert Mueller said wasn't accurate. And those are the big concerns within the Justice Department is is the attorney general putting his thumb on the scale to help the President either on these issues giving them validity, even though, there's a very little expectation--


PAULA REID: --that any of these reviews will result in criminal charges. It's a huge concern among the rank and file, which is why Barr did that interview.


PAULA REID: You don't need to do an interview to tell the President something. He's talking to the public. He's talking to the rank and file because he knows the optics here are not good.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Amy, you know, you heard Senator Klobuchar talk about this because she has some oversight. You also had Senator Warren sign on to a letter-- sign on to--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --something calling for his resignation. You have a letter from a thousand different prosecutors who've served--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --under Republicans and Democrats saying this, does this resonate outside of Washington because you're laying at a constitutional crisis here?

AMY WALTER: I think voters have been pretty clear since the very beginning of this administration about what they are expecting from this President and, quite frankly, it hasn't changed since the day-- the day he was sworn in until now. The real question is what happens to those people, those voters who do feel cross-pressured. We're seeing them right now. People who say the economy is good. I think the President's doing a good job on the economy, but I don't like the job he's doing as President. Those are the folks part of the reason why they're not giving Trump their vote or the stamp of approval of his presidency is because of things like this. So he's not losing his base over it but he's not winning back those voters who he should be winning on the economy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Thanks to all of you for your analysis.

We will be right back in a moment with a look at the humanitarian crisis in Syria.


MARGARET BRENNAN: One of the greatest humanitarian crises of the brutal nine-year Syrian war is happening right now. More than eight hundred thousand people, more than half of them women and children, according to the U.N. have been displaced as they try to flee Russian air strikes and an offensive led by Bashar al-Assad's forces on Idlib, Syria. Some three million civilians remain trapped in freezing winter conditions as the surrounding countries have shut their borders. CBS News correspondent Holly Williams has been covering the conflict for us and she joins us this morning from Istanbul. Holly, why are Russia in the regime attacking with such force?

HOLLY WILLIAMS (CBS News Correspondent/@HollyMAWilliams): Well, Margaret, for both the Syrian regime and its ally Russia, Idlib is really a fly in the ointment when it comes to achieving their strategic goals. What are those goals? Well, for the regime it's regaining control of the country. And for Russia, I think it's really twofold--one, defending their own military bases in Syria; but, two, really reasserting themselves as a true global power. And for all of those reasons neither of them is willing to tolerate a rebel stronghold controlled by Islamist rebels, home to three million, maybe four million people and sitting in northwestern Syria. And I think that this latest offensive is perhaps a sign that their patience is running out. They've been bombarding civilian areas for years. But the scale of what we've seen unfolding in the last few weeks is really staggering. And the conditions faced by the people forced to flee is staggering as well. Now this is the Middle East but it is the middle of winter and at times it is bitterly cold. Many of the people fleeing are-- are poor. They're carrying just a few possessions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A top State Department official said this week that, basically, Russia is ignoring the U.S. I asked the President's national security advisor Robert O'Brien why the U.S. doesn't intervene. Here's what he said.

ROBERT C. O'BRIEN: So the idea that-- that America must do something, I-- I just find that to be-- I-- I don't even see that as being a real argument. So you've got Russian and Iranian and Syrian troops attacking Turks and-- and their allies. And-- and, by the way, there are terrorists in Idlib as well. And-- and-- and what are we supposed to do to stop that? We're supposed to parachute in as a global policeman and hold up a stop sign and say, stop this, Turkey. Stop this, Russia. Stop this, Iran. Stop this, Syria.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Holly, is the rest of the world really this powerless?

HOLLY WILLIAMS: Well, Margaret, the fact is that none of the diplomatic efforts to try and stop these assaults in Idlib have had any long-term success. And if the U.S. were to intervene militarily in Idlib at this point, it would be extremely dangerous because the risk would be an all-out confrontation between the U.S. and Russia. And part of the U.S. calculus seems to have been that from the very beginning the war in Syria looked as though it was going to be very bloody and very complicated with a lot of different countries involved, and both of those things have turned out to be true. But, Margaret, you know, when you talk to Syrians in places like Idlib, oftentimes they'll tell you that they hate the Syrian regime, they hate Russia, but they are also furious with the U.S. for not having done more to defend them against the-- the horrors of this war.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Holly Williams in Istanbul. Thank you.

We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. Be sure to tune in to 60 MINUTES tonight. Scott Pelley talks to a key witness in the House impeachment inquiry, the former top diplomat to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, in a fascinating piece about Ukraine and the 2016 election. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.