Watch CBSN Live

Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on February 24, 2019

2/24: Face The Nation
2/24: Face The Nation 47:32

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

  • Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. (read more)
  • Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. (read more)
  • Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., and Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Wash. (read more)
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. (read more)
  • Panelists: Ben Domenech, Susan Page, Jamal Simmons, Edward Wong (watch)
  • Seth Doane, CBS News correspondent (watch

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

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, February 24th. I'm Margaret Brennan and this is FACE THE NATION.

As North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump prepare for a second summit, speculation about special counsel Robert Mueller's report intensifies. President Trump reached his conclusion the day the investigation was opened, and he is sticking to it.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It's one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on this country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But a former top adviser to the President predicts the report will trigger, quote, "A real meat grinder."

STEVE BANNON: I think that 2019 is going to be the most vitriolic year in American politics since before the Civil War.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll talk to a Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Missouri's Roy Blunt, and we'll ask Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey, a key voice on North Korea policy in the Senate, about the prospects for any real results out of that summit with Kim Jong-un. And as administration officials assess what funds can be used for the President's border emergency, House Democrats try to stop it. Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger joins us. He's just back from National Guard service at the border. We'll also check in with two Democratic governors who oppose the President's emergency to build his wall.

MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM: We got to bust through some walls to make changes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and likely 2020 presidential candidate Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

All of that, and more ahead on FACE THE NATION.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. With the President headed to Vietnam this week, the release of the Mueller report appears to be on hold. But speculation about what's in that report continues. Yesterday CBS News correspondent Seth Doane spoke with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon near the Vatican. Bannon, a critic of Pope Francis, was on the sidelines of the papal summit on sex abuse. We'll have a report on that conference later. But, first, Seth questioned Steve Bannon about the Mueller investigation.

(Begin VT)

STEVE BANNON (Former White House Chief Strategist): I was someone that told the President many, many times that he should not fire James Comey, that I thought that the-- this collusion investigation was a lot of nonsense and was going to come to-- to naught. Now, I happen to think that the President of the United States had full rights and authority to fire Comey. I think you'll see a lot of stuff in the Mueller report. I believe that a deal with potential obstruction of justice, and I think it will come down to decisions that people think one of the President of the United States' as chief law enforcement officer has the right to make those decisions or not. But I-- I-- I've been pretty adamant that I-- the collusion thing to me was always essentially a nothing burger in that the Comey investigation should have just played out.

SETH DOANE: Looking ahead to campaign 2020, do you think President Trump will see a primary contender?

STEVE BANNON: Oh, definitely. I think definitely from the-- from the center, from the-- from the Republican Party moderates and from the left of the Republican Party.

SETH DOANE: Can he stand up to that?

STEVE BANNON: I think it will be symbolic. I don't think it will be serious. I think we have to get through 2019. I think the next ninety days to four months is going to be a real meat grinder. I think the pre--

SETH DOANE: In what ways?

STEVE BANNON: You have the Mueller report coming out. You have what's happening on this investigation on inaugural committee, you have the Southern District of New York. You have other investigations going on. I mean the pressure on the President is coming from many different angles. I think you've already seen it from what the Democrats, some of these reports they-- they've been dropping here without telling anybody. I think that now that they control the House they can weaponize this they can weaponize the Mueller report. I think that 2019 is going to be the most vitriolic year in American politics since before the Civil War. And I include Vietnam in that. I think we're in-- I think we're in for a very nasty 2019. I think what comes out on the other side of that then you can position yourself in 2020.

SETH DOANE: And you think the President can come out of 2019 in a much weaker position.

STEVE BANNON: No, I think he comes out in a much more battle-hardened position. I think it's going to be a very tough four or five months for the President, I think it will-- and for the team around him, but I think it will be very-- I think it will get him very focused.

SETH DOANE: You think the RNC is doing enough to protect Mister Trump?

STEVE BANNON: Look, I-- I think the RNC is-- I-- look, I had a good experience to the RNC during the campaign. I'm a little disappointed in 2018. I think the focus should have been on the House. I think there's no reason we should have lost the House. I think the RNC and the Trump campaign should have maniacally focused on the House to make sure we weren't in the situation now with these investigations and with the ability to weaponize the-- the Mueller report. So they have to get better than they were in '18. Because '18 I think they let the President down. They got to get better for '20. And I think every indication, they-- they are.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Bannon also said that as of now he has, quote, "zero doubt" that the President will run again, but he stressed that we are about to enter an extraordinary time in American politics. We begin with Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt who sits on the Intelligence Committee which has been conducting their own investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. It certainly feels extraordinary, Senator, in terms of the time we are in. But you heard Steve Bannon there say that he thinks the meat of this Mueller report is going to be about obstruction of justice. Have you felt any pressure from the President when it comes to the Senate investigation?

SENATOR ROY BLUNT (R-Missouri/@RoyBlunt): I have not. And actually because we have been involved in the investigation now for almost two years, I think we've-- most of the members on the Intelligence Committee have been very thoughtful in the way they approach both the President and the administration on this issue. I think the pressure from the President is the same pressure we all feel which is let's get this over with. It would have been the reason not to slow down the investigation as Mister Bannon said to change the leaders. But at the same time when you look at how Director Comey had handled things the previous year with the Clinton investigation the determination-- I'm going to say that she did a lot of bad things, but none of them are worthy of indictment. One of those two things was a mistake, but probably the biggest mistake was not reporting directly to the attorney general rather than to take this new obligation on himself to decide what was right and what was wrong. So I understand that. But I've always been of the view that anything that slows down the investigation is not a good thing, that we need to get the facts out there, get this behind us in a way that people thought that anybody that should have been talked to was talked to any question that should have been asked, was asked. And we've been trying to do that in the Senate Committee I think in a very appropriate way. And, remember, Cohen who'll be testifying both to our committee--


SENATOR ROY BLUNT: --privately and the House, I think publicly next week.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He's the President's long-term-- long-term attorney.

SENATOR ROY BLUNT: One of the charges against him was lying to Senate investigators when he was asked questions and that's totally unacceptable.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So he lied last time to Congress. He's admitted to that. Why are you having him back and why do you believe him this time?

SENATOR ROY BLUNT: Well, I don't know that we believe him this time. We'll just have to see. I think the reason you have him back is when somebody lies to Congress in an investigation like this, the questions you might have asked the next-- next witness don't get to ask. Somebody you might have called doesn't get called. It-- it-- it's serious well beyond whatever Cohen might have said in that you misdirect the investigation. That's why it's so important that those kinds of charges be taken very seriously. And, obviously, they are and he's going to go to jail because of it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you have any concerns that your investigation is too narrow? I mean Michael Cohen is now working with Manhattan prosecutors on some alleged financial crimes and questions about inaugural committee which as you heard Steve Bannon says is the bigger issue he thinks.

SENATOR ROY BLUNT: Well I think-- I think, Margaret, the problem with all these investigations which is why we don't do that totally independent special counsel anymore--Democrats and Republicans let that lapse--is not that they're too narrow, but they get too broad. I'm-- I'm not sure that George Washington's expense account could stand up against the entire force of the federal government if you looked at everything related to everything as opposed to really focusing on what was supposed to be the charge here which is collusion.


SENATOR ROY BLUNT: Our chairman, Chairman Burr, said two or three weeks ago that we have so far found no evidence of collusion and you can see everybody backpedaling now--House and Senate--both on the idea that collusion is going to be in the report. They want to come up with lots of other things that I think are going to be much more arguable than a pure finding of collusion would have been because I don't think that's there--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that was in an interview with CBS News and it was-- the-- the comment from Senator Burr was if it was written now, there was no evidence of collusion but as you say--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --your committee is still investigating.

SENATOR ROY BLUNT: We-- we are still and-- and you know we'd like to have, frankly, a little more access to the Mueller investigation before we come to a final conclusion. His report will help us write our final report. We've given Mueller full access to all of our interviews all of our investigation. We haven't had that reciprocated and so we'll soon find out what else is out there that we might not know about.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, on that report, the House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff told ABC this morning that Democrats are going to subpoena that Mueller report if it is not made public and to expect that the special counsel will be called to testify. Should we expect him to testify in front of the Senate and-- and can you actually enforce a subpoena to get the Justice Department to do something that they refused to do in the first place?

SENATOR ROY BLUNT: I don't know that you can. And you know the-- the new Attorney General Bill Barr was very specific on this when asked during his confirmation what should happen, what should released-- be released, what shouldn't be released, should you release things you find out that don't lead to an indictment or might not lead to an indictment in the future, should you release things that people did that are merely embarrassing? You know, again, the weight of the government here is very strong. And people need to think about that when they begin to demand. We need to know whatever you found out whether it led anywhere or not.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we should expect Mueller to testify before your committee? In public?

SENATOR ROY BLUNT: I-- I think we'll have to wait and see what's in the report.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to also ask you about this declaration and the national emergency that the President made.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think Republican leadership will, in the Senate, will allow for a vote on a resolution to try to block the emergency declaration? We know the House is moving forward--



SENATOR ROY BLUNT: I don't think we have a choice. I think the way that '74 law was written, the House has a vote, then we have to have a vote. It's a privileged motion if it's written correctly and I don't have any reason to believe they won't write it--

MARGARET BRENNAN: How will you vote?

SENATOR ROY BLUNT: --correctly. I-- I don't know yet. I don't know yet. I don't like the process. I don't think that the emergency declaration law was written to deal with things that the President asked the Congress to do and then the Congress didn't do. It's never been used that way before. I want to look carefully at the law. I want to hear what the President's lawyers have to say about it. I-- I really think the President would have been better served by one, taking the money that he-- he got in the bill he signed, two, using the transfer authority he had. And I am absolutely confident that those two amounts of money would be more money than could be spent between now and September the 30th. I-- I think--

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's practically--

SENATOR ROY BLUNT: --it's an unfortunate decision.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --that's practically speaking. But in terms of clarifying what you just said, are you saying it is possible that what the President declared is unconstitutional?


MARGARET BRENNAN: You believe he has full authorities to do this--

SENATOR ROY BLUNT: Well, I don't know that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --to-- to bypass the power of the purse strings with Congress to achieve a policy outcome that Congress refused to deliver on.

SENATOR ROY BLUNT: No, I think there is a likelihood that he is within the law that Congress passed. But you know that was long before I got to the Congress. I haven't. No-- no President has used that law this way before. And I-- I think we are going to have to evaluate whether this is really the intention of an emergency. Is it really an emergency if again the President asked the Congress to do it and they failed to? That's different than the way this law has been used in the past.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you could vote to try to block the President from moving forward with this emergency? You just haven't decided yet. Is that fair?

SENATOR ROY BLUNT: I think that's fair. I think that's fair, it's also fair to understand that the President says he will veto whatever--


SENATOR ROY BLUNT: --passes the House and Senate. And so this will be decided in the courts. I think it's highly unlikely that the veto would be overridden in the House and probably not overridden in the Senate, either one. And so it's going to be decided in the courts. And it's-- I think it's a fairly-- it's a significant court decision.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, thank you very much.

SENATOR ROY BLUNT: By the way let me say on this, I do agree with what the President is trying to do here.


SENATOR ROY BLUNT: I just think there is a more likely way to get it done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And-- and it's an important conversation about how our government functions. So, I want to turn now to a Massachusetts Democrat, Senator Ed Markey, who is the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee responsible for U.S. policy on North Korea. But before we get there, I'd like you to weigh in on this this declaration of a national emergency. Is Congress powerless to stop the President?

SENATOR ED MARKEY (D-Massachusetts/@SenMarkey): It's a clear usurpation of congressional authority. There will be a resolution of disapproval which most likely will pass in the House of Representatives this week. Then it will come over to the United States Senate. It's uncertain whether there are enough--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the President says he's going to veto it.

SENATOR ED MARKEY: -- and then even if there are a small handful of Republicans who are willing to vote for that resolution of disapproval, the President says that he's going to veto it and then it will come back to the House and Senate, and I believe it is highly unlikely that there will be two-thirds of the House and Senate who will vote that way given the--


SENATOR ED MARKEY: --base support of the Republican Party for President Trump and his actions. And then it will go to the courts. And I think in the courts we are going to have a very strong case that this is an unconstitutional action by the President in usurping an authority which was deliberately built into the Constitution, by the Founding Fathers to ensure that there was a separation of powers, that there was a check and balance on a President so that they could not act unilaterally.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that is the bigger point I think for-- for viewers to understand that this seems all procedural bureaucratic talk in Washington but that bigger purpose of how our government is supposed to function and how it is, is the question here. In the past under President Obama you were supportive of his use of executive authority on a number of different fronts, including immigration. Do you regret that now and why is it different what President Trump is-- how he's using it?

SENATOR ED MARKEY: The clear difference here is that the Congress, House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, just reached an agreement on funding for border security. They just finished it and they sent it to the President. A president cannot use his executive authority--his emergency authority when none exists--when Congress just finished acting on it when they provided money for the President to provide additional security along the border. So no, this is-- this is a new area that the President-- that-- which President Trump has now entered. It's not Hurricane Katrina. It's not after 9/11. This is something quite substantial which would have presidential value when a Democrat is president. And I think Republicans should be very, very cautious in allowing for President Trump to take this authority because it would lead to a very significant diminution of the authority of the Congress in the future when any president, Democrat or Republican, seek to act.

MARGARET BRENNAN: North Korea. As we said, you watch Asia policy very carefully. Here, a number of leading national security-minded Democrats have released a letter saying that the administration is just not sharing information at all on the diplomacy under way. What are your thoughts on that? What-- what do you need to know?

SENATOR ED MARKEY: Well, right now, it's pretty clear that Kim wants to have a personal meeting with Trump with hopes that he can, in fact, elicit concessions from President Trump that otherwise might not be possible if it was just our diplomats talking one on one. So, I think there is apprehension, in fact amongst President Trump's own diplomats heading into this summit. Nothing is clear and I think as a result we could run the risk that Kim is given concessions which are not accompanied by real concessions that the United States is receiving in return from Kim and his regime.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're saying the President's going to get played.

SENATOR ED MARKEY: I think that he has to be very careful going in. He has to make sure--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Specifically, what does that mean? What is Congress most concerned about? Is it troops on the peninsula? The President has said he's not looking to withdraw them.

SENATOR ED MARKEY: Well, he's looking for a declaration to the end of the Korean War. He's looking for other concessions. But I think that in order to be sure that this summit is, in fact, successful, the President should first return with a codification of the freezing of the missile program and a nuclear program in North Korea. That testing should not continue. Second, that there should be a verifiable program of inspection of the entire nuclear program in North Korea. And, third, that there should be a roadmap which is put in place to ensure that no concessions made by the United States, for example, in lifting of sanctions occurs without verifiable--


SENATOR ED MARKEY: --evidence that Kim is complying step by step with the denuclearization of North Korea.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Very quickly, is-- is there a risk to Democrats weaponizing the Mueller report as Bannon accused Democrats of doing?

SENATOR ED MARKEY: The Democrats have a responsibility to make sure that there was not a compromise of the presidential election of 2016. If the attorney general takes the Mueller report and then sanitizes it and releases that as the answer to a comprehensive investigation, then I think the Democrats in the House and Senate, along with Republicans, have a responsibility to ensure that the American people know what happened in 2016. What was the relationship between the Trump campaign and the Russian government? Was there any subsequent relationship in the post-election period?


SENATOR ED MARKEY: We don't know the answers to those questions. The Mueller report potentially gives us--


SENATOR ED MARKEY: --those answers and it's going to be critical that the American public knows what happened in 2016. Right now everything rides on that Mueller Report and the Attorney General William Barr not sanitizing it in a way that is not transparent to the public and the Congress.


SENATOR ED MARKEY: The Democrats have a responsibility to do that job.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Markey, thank you very much.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we will be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Nearly all U.S. governors are here in Washington this weekend for the National Governors Association conference, and two Democrats join us now. New Mexico's Michelle Lujan Grisham and Washington state's Jay Inslee. Welcome to FACE THE NATION. Great to have you here in person.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, we played that extraordinary video of you busting through walls here. We know you do not support the President's border wall and-- and his emergency declaration of one. Explain to our viewers though why you withdrew the National Guard troops from your border with Mexico?

GOVERNOR MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM: Because as everyone ought to be doing, right, I was on the border, and I am looking and assessing whether or not there's a real emergency or crisis and there isn't. And the reality is is that these troops need to be available when there is a serious issue or an emergency to deal with. Now, interestingly enough, given the fact that the President's policies along the border, including the wall, have created real issues for humanitarian efforts for asylum seekers. So I did place some National Guard law enforcement and, most importantly, health responders to an area where they're forcing them to come across a really desolate area in the southern part of the state.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because you see there the record number of families crossing--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --even though the overall apprehensions is--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --at a fifty-year low.

GOVERNOR MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM: --way down. But when you don't let anybody seek asylum the way that they're supposed to or you grant visas on the front end, you're asking people to take an even more dangerous journey and show up and you know, they voluntarily give themselves to border patrol so we're making sure that the right kinds of services so that we don't have children who die right at those border areas in that crossing ever again in our state.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, Washington State has not brought suit against the administration. There are about sixteen states that have challenged--

GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE (D-Washington/@GovInslee): Mm-Hm.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --the President's emergency declaration. Will you?

GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE: Yes. The moment that the administration jeopardizes any federal expenditure in our state, we will file suit. And we feel good about our chances to succeed. We have done so. I'm proud to be the first governor to sue to stop the Muslim ban and we are happy there-- of judicial system to rein in this President. Look, I think it is obviously the situation here. We do not have a national security emergency. Donald Trump has a political emergency.


GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE: He was unable to get Mexico to pay for his wall. He does not have the support of either party and the entire U.S. Congress on a bipartisan basis have told him his wall is a colossal mistake. He ought to be responding to real emergencies like the forest fires. We just came from a meeting with the cabinet members asking for help with the federal government with their forest fires. And climate change is burning down our forests. That's an emergency where we ought to have the help of the federal government. We don't have it.


GOVERNOR MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM: And the Governor pointed out something really important. For my state, it's a hundred and fifty million dollars--


GOVERNOR MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM: --that we stand to lose by virtue of his national declaration for an emergency that doesn't exist. And now he's harming our military assets. This doesn't make any sense and it's completely inappropriate to a state like this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I'll ask you more about what moneys he's-- he is using. But, Governor Inslee, you just said though that you would be open to declaring a national emergency based on climate. So, how do you define when the President has the constitutional authority to declare an emergency if you say on the grounds of the border crisis as he deems it, it-- it-- it's unconstitutional.

GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE: So, I believe under our current system of democracy this action by this President is illegal and unconstitutional. That's what I believe. And I-- I think Republicans ought to stand up on their hind legs because they took an oath to the Constitution, not to Donald Trump, and reverse this decision. If that doesn't happen we need the judicial system to reverse its decision. But, ultimately, in responding to the climate change emergency we need to work together executive and legislative branch.


GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE: But if there are new rules the Republicans have to understand that Democrats will play by whatever the rules are particularly when it comes to climate change.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm going to come back to that because I can't let it sit there. But we are going to have to take a break. So you got a few minutes to stay with us here, both of you governors, if you would. Stay with us, we hope all of you will, too. We'll be back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Starting tomorrow, CBS News will bring you coverage of the second U.S.-North Korea summit. I'll be in Hanoi, Vietnam, along with CBS EVENING NEWS anchor Jeff Glor and our team. We'll be right back.


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


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. More now with two Democratic governors. New Mexico's Michelle Lujan Grisham and Washington State's Jay Inslee. Let's pick up where we left off. Governor Inslee, should a President be able to declare a national emergency in pursuit of a policy goal or not?

GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE: Well, not if it is in clear contravention of the law passed by the United States Congress. There are provisions where emergencies require executive authority where Congress has not been able to act where they're out of town and they need emergency responses. But it clearly is a contravention of basic norms of American democracy for Congress to pass an appropriation bill, identify what is legal and illegal, have the President say he just disagrees with that and countermand the entire authority of the United States Congress. We cannot allow that to happen and we need Republicans to show just a little bit of strength of character for the American Constitution when they vote on this in a-- in a week or so.

GOVERNOR MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM: And there's not an emergency at the border. And so the-- the-- the effort here on this political punting by Republicans and action by the President is really outrageous because they're sowing fear, racism, hate, and discrimination. And it's all based on a President who has no intention of dealing with immigration policy or foreign policy in a productive way. He wants this wall and he's lying to the American people. And that is also a--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But there's also no sign that Congress would actually take any action on immigration reform at all. When it comes to the-- the question of the National Guard troops which you made that call--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --to bring them back from the New Mexico border. Obviously, you're a border state governor. You-- you see what's happening in your state. Over thirty-six thousand people in your state signed a petition to impeach you after you made this call. So do you think that your constituents' concerns here are being hurt?

GOVERNOR MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM: Well, let's talk about the folks who were impacted in the counties where we're seeing folks have to migrate because they can't do asylum for humanitarian issues. Every single elected official in that--


GOVERNOR MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM: --county is with us on making sure that we address the problems that they really have--communications, road maintenance, making sure that we are providing health care and health emergency services, giving them law enforcement. And, in fact, Congress did do that in both this appropriation bill and, quite frankly, Congress did. They-- it passed a DREAM Act before I was elected to Congress. There's been some meaningful immigration reform. There was meaningful bipartisan negotiation on the USA Act but all that this administration said, unequivocally, unless they just get a wall they're not interested in any of those other policies. And it's really created huge burdens for states like mine to use evidence-based efforts to secure the border and to deal with real issues.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor Inslee, you are expected to potentially make a bid to be the next commander-in-chief. When are you actually going to make a decision on whether you're running?

GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE: At the right moment, but it will be soon and we're happy to talk to you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Which is when?

GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE: Just at the right moment. It will be soon.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I think you said weeks not months.

GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE: We're coming up through another week.



MARGARET BRENNAN: Certainly. Are you expecting it this week?

GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE: It could be as soon as that. And what we are seeing right now, and I've-- I've been-- I've been pleased by what I have been hearing across the country, that people do want a President that will act on a real emergency which is climate change. We're very proud of our New Mexico governor who's building a clean energy economy to respond of the real emergency which is climate change.



GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE: But she and the other governors-- look, we're fighting real emergencies. The forest fires that are consuming the Western United States. They need a President who will rally the nation to a clean energy economy.


GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE: Jobs by the millions and save this country from that-- from that damage.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governors, thank you very much for being here--



MARGARET BRENNAN: --in the studio.

And we're going to turn now to Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger ,who's in Chicago, but he is just freshly back from the border. He was serving with the Air National Guard at-- at the border where he was flying surveillance missions out of Tucson, Arizona. Congressman, this wasn't your first border deployment. It's the first one under the national emergency. Does it constitute a national emergency?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER (R-Illinois/@RepKinzinger): Yeah, I think it does. You know, I-- I went down there kind of undecided. You know, I-- I put on my lieutenant colonel hat, was apolitical but, obviously, I'm looking at this--getting the information I can. And I think if this was just an issue of immigration, it wouldn't constitute a national emergency. But what I saw was really disturbing. Let me give you just a couple of quick examples and I was just a small part of all the operations that were being done. We found at one point a woman hunkered down in the desert because her coyotes who brought her over deserted her because they wanted to get away. Had she actually not been found by us I don't know if she'd been able to find her way home. So, yeah, she got picked up by Border Patrol. She is going to be deported, but that was a way better option than being one of the two hundred, at least, bodies they end up finding in the desert every year. And keep in mind I've done this, you know, we had a mission where we found seventy pounds of methamphetamines on somebody that was coming over and I'm just a very small part of that. This is the fourth time I've been to the border, my first time in Arizona--


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: --completely different terrain than my prior in Texas. Texas, by the way, I was there under President Obama. So the Guard's mission on the border is nothing new.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But border apprehensions are near a fifty-year low. So when you're talking about an emergency and-- and you have border state governors tell you that's just not what they're seeing, how do you justify sending as much as six thousand active duty troops?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: Well, what I didn't see is a low in apprehension. I mean, there were-- there were beyond-- you'd get calls of--

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's according to Customs and Border Patrol.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: That's fine. That's fine. I'm saying what-- from my experience, there were many, many groups that we would see on technology with camera radar or something like that that we could not go address because there were not enough Border Patrol agents. These agents sometimes left to take a truck and then walk two miles through terrible terrain to get to these groups only to have them run while they're already exhausted and they get lost in that chaos. So is it down? Maybe. Part of that's because now they've understood how to abuse the asylum laws in this country. You have a lot of folks from countries that are not declaring asylum in Mexico where they should be because it's the first country where they can actually declare safety and coming here they've learned how to do that. So now you have this crisis basically of-- which I don't think the actual migration or the calling for asylum isn't of itself a crisis. But you now have a massive amount of people doing that. But I'll tell you what I saw was a lot of people coming over the border, a lot of drugs in the border and a lot of human trafficking. I mean these coyotes that would get paid a lot of money to bring groups over and then desert them to save their own backside. That was extremely disturbing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So am I understanding that with the picture you're painting, am I understanding that you believe the President's declaration of a national emergency is constitutional and that you will not vote to try to block it?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: Yeah, I won't vote to try to block it. Look, I-- I wish this would have happened a different way. I voted for comprehensive immigration reform. I think Republicans, the Democrats, both have good ideas on immigration that we ought to all adopt--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But do you think this is constitutional for the President--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --to bypass the power of the purse strings of Congress?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: Yes, because in this case, like I said at the beginning, if this was just about immigration I would disagree. I do think this is a security threat. It's a security threat with the amount of drugs coming over the border and the human trafficking that I've seen. And again in Arizona, I think they said last year there were two hundred bodies at least that they found in the desert.


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: It is not compassionate as your prior guest said to basically say, "We're not going to do border security because, in essence, would encourage people to come across the border." It's compassionate to say do it the right way. Do it-- we're going to have a secure border. We're going to have an immigration system that is welcoming in which I fully believe in, doing it the right way instead of forcing in some cases very innocent people to pay the drug cartels, to pay the cartels money, to coyote them into a very dangerous part of this country--


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: --and then abandon them when the-- when the heat gets too hot.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well-- well, there's plenty of debate about whether that would actually stop demand for drugs or stop people from trying to come across. But let me ask you about something else I know you're concerned about and that is Syria.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Is four hundred U.S. troops enough to leave behind in Syria to counter all the threats that they are going to be asked to face?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: Well, I certainly wish it was more than that. I am glad that the President has reversed this decision. I think two thousand troops was a great example, frankly, of how we're doing war in the twenty-first century, which is level-- which is legitimizing the local folks and using our special forces to give them the combat power necessary. Leaving that amount of troops there is good for blocking Iran's position in Syria for getting the intelligence from folks on the ground to see any rise of ISIS that inevitably is going to come again. I wish it was more, but I am glad that the President reversed his decision. Syria is a mess. Iran's position there is a mess. And I actually worry about the future, not just of Syria, but the future of a potential regional conflict--


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: --in this area with all these folks there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the concern there is that-- that these special operators who are-- who are there right now are going to then be transitioned to some kind of murky term, a peacekeeping force and that they'll be facing an inordinate amount of risk. The Pentagon seemed caught flat-footed by this declaration.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM KINZINGER: Yeah. I-- look, I think there's definitely more risk. Our special-ops are really good. I doubt they're going to be going out and doing combat patrols, more leveling using the local forces to get done what they need to get done. Intelligence gathering will have great air support for them. But, yeah, anytime you have a smaller group there, they are put in danger. There is no country that would be dumb enough to attack our forces there. But, of course, we've seen even recently with ISIS, their boldness in attacking American military. That's why we have to stay on the offense. There is going to be an ISIS two someday. There's going to be an al Qaeda three. It's a generational fight. It's not just through war. It's giving hope to the next generation of folks in the Middle East to reject that ideology within their own religion.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman, good to talk to you. Plenty more to get to, but we have to leave it there for today.


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


MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to bring in now our panel for some political analysis. Edward Wong is a diplomatic and international correspondent for The New York Times, Susan Page is the Washington Bureau chief of USA Today, Jamal Simmons is a host on Hill.TV and a Democratic strategist, and Ben Domenech is the founder and publisher of The Federalist. A lot to get to with all of you. Susan, 2020 and the picture that we heard, Steve Bannon, the long-time White House strategist and-- and ally for President Trump really sketched out a number of interesting things, including the fact that he thinks there could be a primary challenger to the President from within the Republican Party.

SUSAN PAGE (USA Today/@SusanPage): Yes. He said there definitely will. He said it will be symbolic. But, you know, symbolic challenges to incumbent Presidents can be really damaging, ask George H. W. Bush, ask Jimmy Carter the impact of having a primary challenge, even when it doesn't take the nomination away from you. I think this is a subject that should be, probably, of more concern to the White House than it is because there's not really a question at this time that President Trump will retain the Republican nomination. But these primary fights can be brutal.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Ben, you-- you had Governor Hogan--

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

MARGARET BRENNAN: --indicate that he thinks there should be a primary challenger.

BEN DOMENECH: Yeah. But I don't think Bannon is correct about how this would play out. The fact is that unlike a situation with George H. W. Bush, polling consistently shows that the Republican Party is overwhelmingly in favor of the President, that they back him overwhelmingly. Sure, there could be a symbolic challenge in some way, but there is unlikely to be one that could get between the President and the base of the Republican Party, which is why Pat Buchanan's challenge, for instance, in '92 was so damaging to President Bush.

JAMAL SIMMONS (Hill.TV/@JamalSimmons): Yeah. Here's what's so weird about it to me, right? Usually, when somebody runs against the incumbent President, they run from the ideological fringe of that party, or the ideological wing of that party, right? Ted Kennedy ran from the liberal left. Pat Buchanan ran from, kind of, the Trump right is really what it is, right? But this will be, kind of a centrist challenge to our President. I don't know that we've ever seen someone run from the center against a President. What may occur is that that person's job may be to help organize who the anti-Trump forces are inside the Republican Party and identify that person for the Democrats that those may be potential Democratic voters that could be won over.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And then there is a question for the Democrats of, where is your center, right?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Because we haven't seen Joe Biden, who is expected to declare, jump in, or-- or any of the other names. You had Governor Inslee here saying, "Oh, maybe this week I'll make a decision." And you have that extraordinary TIME Magazine cover this-- cover this week reflecting what we're seeing, which is just about everyone is running. What do you make of the field? Where is the center?

JAMAL SIMMONS: Well, here's why Democrats should be thankful to Bernie Sanders because Bernie Sanders showed that there was a real passion on the Democratic left to find somebody who was going to not argue about how much we should cut taxes for the wealthy, but maybe we should be raising taxes on the wealthy or maybe we should be trying to figure out, how do we cover more people with Medicare or get more expanded daycare? So he's opened up that entire lane. Now, what could also be true is, you know, Facebook wasn't the first social media company. There was Myspace and there was Friendster before that. Bernie Sanders might be the Myspace and Friendster of the Democratic Party, right, where he has helped show us that there is this-- there's this path, and then what comes after that is a Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren or somebody like that who really takes advantage of the opening he created.

BEN DOMENECH: But the effect of that has been that you've had all of these candidates, even-- including ones who could run to the center, tacking to the left in significant ways. I mean the fact is that the majority of the Democratic cast endorsed the Green New Deal. The majority of the Democratic cast is completely backing abortion policies on the state level that are widely out of sync not just with Americans but with pro-choice Americans, polling indicates. That leaves an opening for the President to do the kinds of things that he did in the State of the Union, which is to frame the Democrats as the party of the extreme. He is going to continue to do that, and that's going to be, frankly, a way to keep those types of centrists that you talked about within the GOP who might be open to a Democratic candidacy away from them and loyal to the-- to the Republican Party.

(Cross talking)

SUSAN PAGE: There's an ideological debate in the Democratic Party. No question there. There are centrists there and there are people who endorsed the Green New Deal. But one thing that unites the Democratic Party is that they want to win in 2020. When you go out and talk to voters, there is no issue that they care about more than that one.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ed, I want to ask you, one thing that we see lacking on-- on many of the resumes of the candidates is foreign policy experience. You haven't heard a lot of views on what they think America's role in the world should be. Crisis in-- in Venezuela is sort of forcing people to take a stand. Possibly this North Korea summit may force some of these candidates to describe a foreign policy. What is that that you're seeing out there?

EDWARD WONG (The New York Times/@ewong): Well, I think that there are certain issues that candidates will be forced to address. Security is one of them. And so they'll criticize Trump I think for his take on North Korea and for the fact that we haven't made much progress on North Korea and its nuclear program since the first summit, and they will question why we're holding these series of summits when Kim hasn't promised-- hasn't met the promises that he set out. The other question-- another big question is China and trade. And I think that we'll see talk about whether his approach to China and to the trade deficit and to other issues related to the economy is the right one.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you have that March 2nd deadline looming--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --in terms of the President ramping up tariffs potentially and that extraordinary change in the Oval Office where you saw divide between the President and his chief negotiator over laying out the terms in front of the Chinese.

EDWARD WONG: Right. My read on that was that Lighthizer, the chief negotiator, is nervous that the President will undermine the American negotiating position by pushing back on the idea what an MoU means. I think there's--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Memorandum of understanding.

EDWARD WONG: Right. And I think there is debate among experts about whether the President's right or whether Lighthizer was right in that, but-- but having the President sort of go right against the trade negotiator in front of the television cameras is not good for the American negotiating position.

JAMAL SIMMONS: My-- my first job in Washington--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Put diplomatically.


JAMAL SIMMONS: My first job in Washington was working for the U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor. And I just cannot believe Bill Clinton would have ever upbraided Mickey Kantor in front of the Chinese negotiator and the entire public. Usually, you want your negotiator--

MARGARET BRENNAN: The-- the Chinese negotiator laughed.

JAMAL SIMMONS: Yeah. Usually you want your negotiator to have the strongest hand possible when they go on to the deal. That's not what he's doing. One of the point you mentioned people who aren't talking about foreign policy, I think Kamala Harris yesterday came out for temporary protective status for Venezuelans in this particular crisis that's happening down there.

SUSAN PAGE: You know, I think that the exchange that you saw over memorandums of understanding and China is a little-- was a little bit of a red flag to the diplomats who are concerned about the summit--


SUSAN PAGE: --with North Korea because there is concern that the President does not pay attention to what he sees as diplomatic niceties, that diplomats see as absolutely crucial. And some concern that you heard articulated in your interview with Senator Markey that he will agree to a deal that looks good in the moment, helps him in the moment, but doesn't-- isn't really sustainable, doesn't have verification, offers the-- offers the North Koreans too much for what they give us. This might be a sign of something to come.


BEN DOMENECH: The North Koreans are not going to give up their nuclear program. They just aren't. And--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You agree with U.S. intelligence then?

BEN DOMENECH: I-- I-- I-- I mean, the-- the thing to understand is just that-- I mean, you can-- when it comes to this summit, you can take the under. This is not going to be something that produces a massive breakthrough. It is going to be something that is going to be spun in the public, you know, in a lot of different ways, but just in terms of what our expectations should be, they have to be tempered by the reality of what's going to be really on the table when it comes to the North Korean on offer, and, frankly, they are in the driver's seat on this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Ed, you had some reporting on this. We have the secretary of state out there on a number of TV networks today lowering expectations. You say now that he's doing it publicly, you've been reporting on what he's saying privately. And what is that?

EDWARD WONG: Right. He's saying privately that within at least in his time in office, maybe the President's time in office, they might not get to full denuclearization. He tells this to Korea experts and to others that he talks to off the record. And I think that-- that's-- as Ben says that might be the realistic outlook on where we can get to with North Korea. There might not-- might be very minimal work on a nuclear program. There might be some work but not near-- but not full denuclearization. And the big question that we have to ask is whether at what point would the United States publicly accept a nuclear North Korea and acknowledge that just as it accepts Israel, Pakistan, and other countries having nuclear weapons.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Normalization of North Korea no longer a pariah state.

EDWARD WONG: Right. Well, Trump did say he fell in love-- he and Kim fell in love, so maybe we'll have that going forward.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. And you have the odds at-- what, sixty percent of what the U.S.' demands will likely get?

EDWARD WONG: Right. That's what Pompeo has told some people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That seems pretty high.

EDWARD WONG: Right. I mean North Korea has around thirty to sixty nuclear warheads already right now. And every six months it makes enough fissile material for another warhead. So it's-- it's-- experts think it's going forward with the program right now even as diplomacy is continuing and it will be hard to get it fully dismantled.

BEN DOMENECH: We should consider, of course, the withdrawal from the INF as being part of this conversation as well. I know that that was mostly framed--

MARGARET BRENNAN: The arms control agreement with Russians.

BEN DOMENECH: Yes. I-- I know that was mostly framed in the context of our relationship with Russia, but the overwhelming agreement on the part of our European allies is that Russia has been in violation of this for years anyway, and much of the INF is actually restricting us when it comes to what we can do vis-a-vis the Asian situation, both with China and with North Korea. It could be something that could be interesting potentially down the road in terms of the types of-- of responses that we could put in place that would have been banned under the INF.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Susan, last word to you. "A real meat grinder" is how Steve Bannon described the next four to five months.


MARGARET BRENNAN: What should we be girding ourselves for?

SUSAN PAGE: This is-- I mean, we say this every week, but this is really going to be a crucial week. We're going to have North Korea summit in a split screen with Michael Cohen testifying before Congress and we have got Bob Mueller standing in the doorway with his report to come out soon. It's-- it's going to be a remarkable few months, it's going to be remarkable week or two ahead.


JAMAL SIMMONS: Let's not forget the underlying question that Mueller has, which is, did the President collude with the Russians.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We got to leave it there.

And we will be back in a moment with a report on the Catholic Church's sex abuse summit.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Over the past four days senior bishops gathered at the Vatican for a landmark summit on clergy sex abuse, convened by Pope Francis. It comes after years of controversy for the Catholic Church. CBS News correspondent Seth Doane is in Rome with what was decided.

(Begin VT)

(Pope Francis speaking foreign language)

SETH DOANE (CBS News Correspondent/@sethdoane): Pope Francis spoke of the abuse of power that lies at the center of clerical sex abuse turning priests into tools of Satan.

(Pope Francis speaking foreign language)

SETH DOANE: "The brutality of this worldwide phenomenon becomes all the more grave and scandalous in the church," the pontiff said, "for it is utterly incompatible with its moral authority and ethical credibility." Francis widened the scope of the problem past clerical sex abuse to include the many threats to minors, including child pornography and child soldiers.

(Pope Francis speaking foreign language)

SETH DOANE: And added, "No abuse should be covered up, as was often the case in the past." The pontiff presented a list of eight so-called best practices, points included sparing no effort in protecting children, purifying the church in part through training and seminaries, strengthening rules, supporting victims, and being aware of threats in the digital world.

The pope's speech today, can you give it a grade?

THOMAS REESE: Disappointing. Incomplete. You know I was hoping for something more pastoral, something more forceful.

SETH DOANE: Father Thomas Reese is a senior analyst with Religion News Service.

Did we learn anything new, anything concrete in this?

THOMAS REESE: I don't think that people in America if they looked at the speech, would find anything new. Remember, this meeting was primarily focused on parts of the world where they don't think they have a crisis.

SETH DOANE: Rules are already in place for priests, so one of the big questions here was how to close the loopholes in laws for the higher-ranking bishops, accused, among others things, of carrying out or covering up abuse.

THOMAS REESE: How do we hold accountable bishops? That's what American people are-- where is the system? Who-- how do we punish bishops that don't do what they're supposed to do?

SETH DOANE: Do we have any new answers?

THOMAS REESE: Not-- not at this meeting. Not yet.

(End VT)

SETH DOANE: All along, Margaret, the Vatican has stressed that follow-up will be key. And in a press conference this afternoon, they told us to expect some more details in the coming weeks, including a document written by the Pope and a handbook for bishops about how to handle cases of abuse.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Seth Doane in Rome. We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. I'll see you this week for North Korea's summit coverage from Vietnam. 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.