Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on February 9, 2020

2/9: Face The Nation
2/9: Face The Nation 47:24

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

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MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington and this week on FACE THE NATION, following chaos at the caucuses in Iowa, will the Democratic Party be able to pull it together for New Hampshire and beyond? And after impeachment, relations between Republicans and Democrats hit new lows, and a vindictive President Trump strikes back against people he sees as enemies. Last week it was the Democrats' turn to deal with disaster as Monday's Iowa caucuses gave Republicans reason to rejoice.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The votes are fried. They have no idea who won. They have no idea.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He's right about that as the 2020 Democratic PAC left Iowa behind hoping for a brighter result from New Hampshire. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Bernie Sanders appear to have tied in Iowa, and they're now battling for the top spot in the Granite State. We have brand new Battleground Tracker numbers this morning, and we'll talk to both of them. Plus, with impeachment dismissed, an emboldened President Trump took aim at his enemies.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Russia, Russia, Russia. It was all bull--(EXPLETIVE DELETED).

MARGARET BRENNAN: And launched a stunning attack on both Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who voted to remove him from office, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had a shocking moment of her own when she tore up the President's State of the Union Speech.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don't like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people who say, "I pray for you" when they know that that's not so.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Then, in apparent retaliation for providing damaging testimony in the impeachment hearings, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was removed from his National Security Council role and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland was recalled from his post. We'll talk to Lindsey Graham who warned Democrats last week about the fallout from impeachment.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: What you have done is unleash the partisan forces of hell.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Plus, the Chinese ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, weighs in on the spread of the coronavirus in an interview you'll see only on FACE THE NATION.

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

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We are still not really sure exactly who won Iowa, but CBS News has so far awarded Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg an equal number of delegates. With just two days from the New Hampshire primary, our CBS News Battleground Tracker shows the two are at the top in New Hampshire, too. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who won the New Hampshire primary four years ago, is at the very top with twenty-nine percent. Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg is running behind him. He's at twenty-five percent. We'll have the full results of our poll later on in the broadcast but we begin with those two top candidates. Senator Bernie Sanders is up first and he joins us from Manchester. Good morning to you, Senator.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vermont/@BernieSanders/Democratic Presidential Candidate): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you plan to keep that edge and win on Tuesday?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: We are running all over the state. We are talking to as many people as we can. We're talking about what our agenda is, which is an agenda that speaks for the working families of this country, an agenda that is prepared to take on the powerful special interest that have so much influence over the economic and political life of our country. And by the way, we're going to contrast our views with Mayor Buttigieg. And one of the areas of contrast, to be honest with you, is that last count he has about forty billionaires who are contributing to his campaign, the heads of-- the CEOs of the large pharmaceutical industries, of the insurance companies and so forth.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why does that matter?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, on the other hand-- oh, it matters enormously. That is precisely the problem with American politics. When you have the heads of large pharmaceutical companies contributing to your campaign, you are not going to aggressively deal with the fact that in some cases we pay ten times more for the same exact drugs as our friends in Canada or in Europe pay. You're not going to take on the collusion and the corruption of the drug companies who are ripping us off every single day. One out of five Americans cannot even afford the prescription drugs their doctors prescribe.


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: So do you really think that when somebody gets contributions from the CEOs of drug companies, they're going to stand up to the greed and corruption of that industry? I don't think so.


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: But it's not only the pharmaceutical industry--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But when you were standing on that--

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: But it's other industries as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When you were standing on that debate stage on Friday, you said that Democrats would come together and support a nominee. Are you saying--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --Bernie Sanders will support Pete Buttigieg if he ends up being the nominee--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --or even Mike Bloomberg--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --a billionaire himself?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: I-- no. I did not say that at all. I think all of them will be far preferable to Donald Trump, who is the most dangerous and corrupt President in the modern history of this country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you would--

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: We have got to defeat Trump.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sorry to be clear--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --you would support either of them if they end up being the nominee?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Margaret. Margaret, I have said from the first day of this campaign that it is absolutely imperative that we defeat Donald Trump. Of course, I will support who the Democratic nominee is. But in the Democratic primary process, I will distinguish myself, differentiate myself from the other candidates and one of the areas that we-- that--


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: --I differentiate myself is we have raised more campaign contributions from more Americans averaging all of eighteen dollars and fifty cents than any candidate in the history of this country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your campaign reported some inconsistencies in the results out in Iowa, as did two other campaigns. Columnist Peggy Noonan wrote this, "They can't run a tiny caucus in a tiny state, but they want us to believe they can reinvent American health care?" How damaging is it that the Democrats couldn't get this right?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: It is damaging. And I-- and it really saddens me because, you know, I went all over the state of Iowa and they are beautiful people, good people who take their responsibility seriously. And the fact that the Iowa Democratic Party, that has received all kinds of money, could not count those votes in a timely matter is really a sad state of affairs.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. But you're advocating for the empowerment of the U.S. government to take over the entire health care system. This just optically--

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: No. Hold it-- hold it, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --looks like the party--

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Margaret-- Margaret--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --can't run its own caucus.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: --Margaret. Margaret, that's not a true statement. I am not advocating for the United States government to take over the health care system. What I am advocating for is an expansion of Medicare. Medicare exists.


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: I want to expand it over a four-year period that'd be--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --which would be administered by the U.S. government--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --and your administration, if you win.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Just as Medicare is right now. But it-- but it's not a takeover. People will still go to the same doctor. They will go to the same hospital. We will substantially lower the cost of prescription drugs. Cost per person will go down.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. But what-- but I think the-- the nub of the--

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: People will be paying less for health care. But it's not a takeover.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --the nub of the criticism, though, is that this is a question of competency. And straight out of the gate, how do you reassure the public that the party whose ticket you are--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --running on can do this and do this successfully in the states ahead? Nevada is already--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --saying when it comes to their caucuses, they are short of volunteers. Our campaign reporter says they are short a thousand caucus chairs and they might have to even hold two caucuses at once. This doesn't look efficient.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, all right, that may well be the case. But let's get back to the United States government. I'm not the chair of the Nevada Democratic Party.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You told my colleague Norah O'Donnell recently on CBS that you couldn't put a price tag on your health care plan and your proposals. But I want to ask you for some clarity here because back in July, you told The Washington Post, Medicare for All would cost between thirty to forty trillion dollars over--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --ten years. Do you still trust those numbers--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --and those estimates?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Sure. All that I said-- the answer is yes. But all that I said is anybody who tells you what anything is going to cost in health care is-- is not telling you the truth. There is so much, it's so big. If we do nothing, what the Health and Human Services--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So it's not thirty to forty trillion?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Over a ten-year period.


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Sure. I mean the-- the problem is we're already spending about fifty percent of health care dollars already come from the federal government. We've got to add the other fifty percent. But here's the main point that people should appreciate: if we do nothing, according to Health and Human Services, we're going to be spending fifty trillion dollars. We spend twice as much per capita on health care as do the people of Canada or Europe. So, of course, we can provide health care to all people spending less than we are doing now because we're going to end--


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: --the hundred billion dollars in profiteering that goes to the drug companies, that goes to the--


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: --insurance companies and the hundreds of billions of dollars in administration of thousands of separate plans, enormously complicated and wasteful system.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Sanders, thank you for your time.

We now turn to former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He is at his campaign headquarters in Manchester. Good morning to you.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana/@PeteButtigieg/Democratic Presidential Candidate): Good morning. Thanks for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: According to our latest figures, you're about four points behind Senator Bernie Sanders. How do you close the gap and make the argument that moderates should vote for you and not Joe Biden?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, New Hampshire is a state that likes to think for itself. And we'll be engaging Democrats as well as a lot of undeclared voters and maybe a handful of Republicans who-- who know that they won't agree with me on everything, but are just sick of looking their kids in the eye and trying to defend or explain this presidency. That kind of hard work, we'll be putting in all the way until polls close on Tuesday, and we're confident that it's going to lead to a great night.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you also have to throw a few elbows here back at Bernie Sanders, who basically is calling you a little inauthentic. He's going after some of your financial base saying you've got at least forty billionaires with ties to the pharmaceutical industry, other big money interests. He's basically saying you're bought and paid for. How do you respond to that?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, I've never hesitated to stand up to industry. We sued the pharmaceutical industry when opioid-- opioid makers ravaged our community and I am campaigning right now for higher taxes for the wealthy and for corporations to finally have to pay their fair share. And my campaign has been built from the grassroots. We have hundreds of thousands of supporters, most of whom went on PeteForAmerica.com and chipped in a few bucks because they share this vision that we have for the future. You know being the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is not an establishment powerhouse. We're here because this message, this vision that I'm offering is connecting with voters of all backgrounds and at a time like this, if somebody is ready to help us put together the campaign that's going to defeat Donald Trump, then I welcome that support. No matter how they voted in the past, no matter if they've got a lot of money or not, I want their help because, let me tell you, Donald Trump and his allies right now are doing everything they can to hold on to power.


PETE BUTTIGIEG: They just raised twenty-five million bucks in a day. We need to go into that fight with everything that we've got. And I'm not going to define my campaign by whose help we reject or whose support we turn away. This is a moment to bring everybody that we can into common cause just as we have to unify the country after we do win.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Joe Biden says you're unelectable, inexperienced, and today said you're unable to unify the black community. He also released a digital ad. Let's listen.

WOMAN (Biden for President Campaign Ad): Joe Biden helped save the auto industry, which revitalized the economy of the Midwest and led the passage and implementation of the Recovery Act, saving our economy from a depression. Pete Buttigieg revitalized the sidewalks of downtown South Bend by laying out decorative brick. And both Biden and Buttigieg have made hard decisions. Despite pressure from the NRA Joe Biden passed the assault weapons banned through Congress; then he passed the Violence against Women Act. And even when public pressure mounted against him, former Mayor Pete fired the first African-American police chief of South Bend; and then he forced out the African-American fire chief, too.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you respond to that?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, it's a typical political attack that doesn't tell most of the story. He makes no mention of the work that we did, for example, in my administration, appointing the first African-American top lawyer for the city, helping the first citywide executive African-American woman get elected in South Bend, and really minimizing the experience of my city. And I know that a lot of mayors are speaking up today about the idea that what happens in communities doesn't count.


PETE BUTTIGIEG: Maybe my community does look good from-- does look small from the perspective of Washington. But to us, a lot of times it's the infighting in the Washington establishment--


PETE BUTTIGIEG: -- that looks small and the work that we're doing on the ground in communities that are tired of being treated as a Washington punch line.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Lastly, how do you instill confidence in the public that the Democratic Party can run this election with integrity? Given the confusion that just happened in Iowa?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, the delay was frustrating. I imagine nobody had more cause to be frustrated than I did. But, at the end of the day, this is about voters standing up and talking about and voting for the future that they want. It's voters asking the question: how's my life going to be different depending which President that we get? And for all the-- the-- the party behind the scenes machinery, what matters most at the end of the day is that the American people are going to send a statement. And the majority that we have right now, not just unified around wanting a different and better President than Donald Trump, but even, more importantly, unified around what we're for: having corporations pay their fair share, raising wages, acting on climate change, getting everybody health care, delivering paid family leave, acting on gun violence.


PETE BUTTIGIEG: These are America's priorities.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But Tom Perez who is--

PETE BUTTIGIEG: They're our priority in our party--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --head of the DNC--

PETE BUTTIGIEG: --and certainly the priority on my campaign.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Tom Perez, who's head of the DNC, is saying that perhaps the National Party should be taking more of a role here. That's not instilling a lot of confidence about these local officials. What do you think?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: I'll-- I'll let the party work on what the party does. I am focused on what we need to do with the powers of the American presidency to change the trajectory of this country before it is too late. And I believe that there is a strong enough majority for what we seek to do, that there will be an unambiguous, decisive result, not just to end the Trump presidency, but to put Trump-ism itself in the history books if, and only if, we have a platform and a-- and a campaign based on unity and belonging. It's why I'm concerned about a message that says that either you're for a revolution or you must be for the status quo. Most Americans don't know where they fit in that story. I am offering a different approach and that's clearly serving us well. And we're going to be on the ground connecting with as many New Hampshire voters as possible in these remaining hours to make that case and earn that win.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. We'll be watching. Thank you, Mayor Pete.

And we will be back in one minute with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham. Senator, good morning to you.

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

MARGARET BRENNAN: The President's up. He's watching, apparently, because he sent out a tweet this morning about you appearing on this program. He said, "DeFace the nation will tell Lindsey Graham they must start up the Judiciary and not stop." I'm not exactly sure quite what that means, but it sounds like he's giving you marching orders.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I think what he's talking about is oversight of the FISA warrant system that failed. I can promise the President and your viewers that I'm going to call witnesses about--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Foreign surveillance warrants--the Horowitz report.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah. The Horowitz report. You know, McCabe, Comey, Rosenstein, Yates. How did you miss it so badly? How could you issue four warrants against an American citizen based on information that was unreliable? But here's what I want to tell the President. I'm not going to be the Republican Christopher Steele. So, Rudy Giuliani last night said he's got the goods on Hunter Biden. I called the attorney general this morning and Richard Burr, the chairman of the Intel Committee, and they told me take very cautiously anything coming out of the Ukraine against anybody. So what I will do is I will get to the bottom of how the FISA warrant system failed and make sure we reform it, doesn't happen again. I think questions about the conflict of interest regarding Hunter Biden in the Ukraine need to be asked. The State Department had warnings and they ignored the conflict of interest. The whistleblower episode needs to be investigated by Richard Burr. But if Rudy Giuliani has any information coming out of the Ukraine, he needs to turn over the Department of Justice because it could be Russian propaganda.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You last time you're on this program, though, in December, you said Giuliani should come to the Judiciary Committee with what he said was a suitcase full of documents he picked up in Ukraine--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --on the Bidens. Are you saying you don't want any part of this anymore?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: After talking to the attorney general and the intelligence chairman that any documents coming out of the Ukraine against any American, Republican or Democrat, need to be looked at by the intelligence services, who has expertise I don't because Russia is playing us all like a fiddle. And Christopher Steele was played by the Russians that started the Russian investigation against President Trump.


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: It was all garbage.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you saying Rudy Giuliani--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: And I don't want to do the same thing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --Rudy Giuliani is getting played by the Russians?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I don't know. I am saying that the attorney--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it sounds like that's what you're suggesting.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I'm saying that anybody who's got any information coming from the Ukraine needs to turn it over to the intelligence community. As to Senator Schumer warning Parnas in the audience, if you don't understand--

MARGARET BRENNAN: This is one of Rudy Giuliani's business associates.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yes, crooked as snake--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --who's been indicted.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --facing indictment. So Schiff gets called by Russian hoaxster. I've got photos of President Trump in a compromised situation. To every American politician, you should be very cautious about receiving information coming out of the Ukraine--


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --and other countries that may be backed by Russian misinformation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Does the President know that? Because he--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --apparently, has continued to--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, if he's watching the show, here's what I would tell the President.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --believe that Ukraine had a role here.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I'm going to get to the bottom of the FISA work process because it was an abuse of power of the Department of Justice, the FBI. And we're gonna make sure that Hunter Biden's conflict of interest is explored because it's legitimate. How could Joe Biden really fight corruption when his son sitting on the Burisma board?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Can you clarify? You said you talked to Attorney General Barr--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --this morning. Has the Department of Justice been ordered to investigate the Bidens?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: No. The Department of Justice is receiving information coming out of the Ukraine from Rudy--


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --to see. He told me that they've created a process that Rudy could give information and they would see if it's verified. Rudy Giuliani is a well-known man. He's a crime fighter. He's loyal to the President. He's a good lawyer. But what I'm trying to say-- to the President and anybody else, that the Russians are still up to it. Deterrence is not working. So, let's look at Hunter Biden's conflict. Let's look at Joe Biden. Vice President Biden, what did you do when they told you your son was on Burisma's board? It undercuts your ability to fight corruption. Did you take it seriously? Obviously he didn't.


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: But when it comes to documents coming out of the Ukraine, to Republicans and Democrats, be very cautious turning--


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --anything over you got over to the intel community.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Have you ever said to the President when he repeats things like the idea that there's the DNC server-- server hidden in Ukraine, that this is Russian propaganda that he is repeating and, apparently, believing?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Have you ever said that directly to him?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, I don't have any information about the server being in the Ukraine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you just said--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: And it was the Russians--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --things coming out of Ukraine should be looked at with high scrutiny--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --because of Russian interference.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --my point. It was the Russians who hacked into the DNC, not the Ukrainians.


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: But there are people in the Ukraine that were pulling against Trump because they hated Manafort. To suggest there was no political interference coming out of the Ukraine directed toward the President, I think would be-- would not withstand scrutiny.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When-- you have a role as chairman of Senate Judiciary to have oversight--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --of Justice Department.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I'm not in charge of the whole government.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But-- I understand that. However, when you're talking about being asked to do these things and a channel being open between Rudy Giuliani and the Justice Department, this sounds a lot like this is in some ways a taxpayer-funded oppo-research operation against Joe Biden. Isn't this exactly what was at the heart of the impeachment probe to begin with?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: No, not at all. There are plenty of people being contacted by folks from the Ukraine. Adam Schiff got contacted by somebody thought to be a Russian and he was willing to get on a plane, apparently, and go find the documents. Schumer believes that Parnas has got the goods. Parnas says, "I'm in on it. I've never met Parnas. So Democrats are being played and I'm not going to be played." So we're going to look at the Hunter Biden, Joe Biden connection to the Ukraine. We're going to ask the State Department, why didn't you do something about the conflict of interest.


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: When the-- John Kerry's chief of staff was warned about Hunter Biden's conflict on Burisma--


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --what did you do, if anything? That's all legitimate. Rudy says he's got the goods. All I can tell Rudy and anybody else, if you got some information connected to the Ukraine against anybody, go to the Intel Committee not me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You-- you don't want a part of it right now. We need to finish this conversation--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --because you brought up a number of things. So we're going to have to take a quick break. I do want to-- to-- to say, though, that to this point, nothing has been in any way substantiated in regard to corruption when it comes to Joe Biden himself. His son served on the board and was paid for it.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I just think the media is so in the tank over this issue--


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --it makes me sick to my stomach.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You just said--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: We'll talk about it in a minute.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. But you were saying it needs to be investigated--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah, nobody's investigating it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're acknowledging there's no proof of it--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: CBS hasn't sent-- sent one reporter.

MARGARET BRENNAN: To Ukraine? Yes, we did.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah. I don't think you take it seriously.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We are, so we're taking a break and I'm coming back to talk to you about it--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --on the other side of it. So stay with us all of you.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Graham is going to stay with us. We'll continue in a few moments.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Over the weekend in Wuhan, China, the first American died from the coronavirus, and here in the U.S. the number of confirmed cases is now at twelve. In our next half hour, we'll talk with the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. about the epidemic.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Some of our stations are leaving us now, but stay with us because we will be right back in our second half hour with more from Senator Lindsey Graham and analysis of the week from our political panel. We'll be back with a lot more FACE THE NATION.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We continue our conversation now with South Carolina Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham.

Senator, we were talking about the President's tweet this morning, the requests that have been made of you in terms of continuing investigations. This morning on Fox, Rudy Giuliani is continuing to say, quote, you are telling him, "Not my job. Not my job, man" when it comes to information he says he's handing over. You were just saying that any information coming out of Ukraine needs to be dealt with carefully and skeptically because it's likely the product of some kind of--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --Russian intelligence operation.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Have we learned anything from Christopher Steele dossier? It was all a bunch of garbage fed to Christopher Steele to go after Trump.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that's what you think Rudy Giuliani--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: And I'm telling Schumer--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --is delivering garbage?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I don't know. I'm telling Schumer, don't vouch for Parnas.


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Don't put him in the gallery. I'm telling Rudy, you think you got the goods? Don't give it to me, because what do we know? We know that the Russian disinformation campaign was used against President Trump. They hacked into the DNC system. Not the Ukrainians--


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --and they're on the ground all over the world trying to affect democracy all over the world.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Who's paying Rudy Giuliani?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I don't know. Here's my message to Rudy: If you've got something coming from the Ukraine, turn it over to the intelligence people, the Department of Justice, to any Democrat.


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: You think Parnas has got something on me? Well, then go to the Department of Justice and the Intel Committee. Do not pass this stuff on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. I want to ask you as well because you have served in the U.S. Air Force. You are a military lawyer, a JAG.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you support President Trump's decision to dismiss Alex Vindman, the lieutenant colonel who was serving on the National Security Council, who was compelled by a subpoena to go under oath and testify against the President?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I think his reassignment was justified. I don't think he could be effective at the NSC. As much as I support our military people telling the truth when asked, it's important they do, what have I learned in the last two years? CIA agents, Department of State, Department of Justice lawyers, FBI agents have a political agenda and they acted on it. And we found that out through the FISA investigation. As to Colonel Vindman, he was not allowed to be asked questions about his connection to the alleged whistleblower, to people working on Schiff's--

MARGARET BRENNAN: He was asked, and he denied having any--



SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: They did not allow him--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --he was asked during the testimony.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: They did not allow the Republicans go down that road. Two things--

MARGARET BRENNAN: His brother was also marched out of the White House--


MARGARET BRENNAN: His brother also serves in military--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --and had no connection--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: He has no-- he has no right--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --to this impeachment.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Nobody knows this. I can promise you this. He's never been asked questions did you leak to the whistleblower? People in his chain of command have been suspicious of him regarding his political point of view.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The national security adviser to the President sat in the chair you're sitting in last week and said he was confident that there were no leaks from the National Security Council.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, I am not. I want the man to be asked about what he did with the information. I appreciate his service, but there are FBI agents who took the law in their own hands. There are CIA agents who took the law in their own hands. There are Department of Justice lawyers who lied to the court. There has been a movement since President Trump was elected by people in our government--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is this retaliation--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --to take him down.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --because the President has tweeted, basically saying that Vindman was forced out, not because of--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --any kind of policy issue, not because of anything else except for--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, Margaret, we're going to get--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --what he said was listening in on his phone calls and giving horrendous report.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: We're not going to be intimidated in-- against asking--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But doesn't this--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --questions to the whistleblower.


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Who is the whistleblower?

MARGARET BRENNAN: He is an officer, and he is not allowed to speak out on his own behalf. Neither are his fellow military officers allowed to do so.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: He was shut down. I don't know what role he played with the whistleblower, if any, but we're going to look. I like Joe Biden. He's a fine man, but we're not going to give you a pass because you're--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Should Gordon Sondland have been fired as well?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: He is a political appointee. He serves at the pleasure of the President. He came before the country--


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --in under oath--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --but it was retaliation.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --gave-- gave-- gave the story as-- as he said it. We're not going to live in a world where the Department of Justice, the CIA and the FBI can cut corners, go after Trump, and nobody gives a damn. As to Colonel Vindman, thank you for your service. But I'm going to--


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: --hopefully, somebody will ask questions of you about the role you play with the whistleblower, if any. And if there's nothing there, fine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Senator Graham, thank you--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --for joining us this morning.

When we come back, a rare interview with the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. We'll ask him about the coronavirus.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to take a closer look at efforts to contain the now over thirty-seven thousand confirmed cases of coronavirus in China, where the death toll stands at at least eight hundred and eleven. Joining us to talk more about the virus is China's ambassador to the U.S. Welcome to FACE THE NATION, Ambassador Cui.

AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI (Chinese Ambassador to the U.S./@AmbCuiTiankai): Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Our condolences for these--

AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: Thank you very much.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --hundreds of fatalities.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Why hasn't the virus been contained?

AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: Well, you see this is a new virus. So, virtually, very few people knew anything about it at the beginning. That's how people are still learning to discover more about the virus and how it affects people and the channels of infections and trying their best to stop it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The U.S. has offered repeatedly--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --to send CDC experts, American experts, to help out. Why does Beijing continue to ignore those offers?

AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: I don't think it's been ignored. First of all--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you haven't said yes.

AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: Well, we-- we welcome the American expert to participate in our efforts. And we are coordinating with the World Health Organization because a lot of things are done under the auspices of the World Health Organization. We certainly welcome American experts to join the actual group that the WHO, the assembly. And I'm sure they will be going to China very soon.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You expect Americans to be there as part of the WHO but you don't want the CDC there?

AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: There-- there-- first of all, American experts are on the list recommended by the WHO. We certainly respect-- I think all of us respect the WHO as the most professional intergovernmental body in the world. And for the U.S. CDC, they have very frequent regular contact with the-- their Chinese counterparts, the Chinese CDC. And even beyond that, some American experts have come to China already on their own individual basis. So there is ongoing contacts not only between the two governments, but also between the two CDCs and between the academic institutions and even some American companies are also offering help, technical help.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I-- I asked the question because it also gets at there's a lot of unknown and a lot of suspicion because of that. And, in fact, this week, Senator Tom Cotton--who sits on the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committee--suggested that the virus may have come from China's biological warfare program. That's an extraordinary charge. How do you respond to that?

AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: I think it's true that a lot is still unknown and our scientists, Chinese scientists, American scientists, scientists of other countries are doing their best to learn more about the virus, but it's very harmful. It's very dangerous to stir up suspicion, rumors, and spread them among the people. For one thing, this will create panic. Another thing that it will fend up racial discrimination, xenophobia, all these things, that will really harm our joint efforts to combat the virus. Of course, there are all kinds of speculation and rumors. There are people who are saying that these virus are coming from some military lab, not of China, maybe in the United States. How-- how can we believe all these crazy things?

MARGARET BRENNAN: You think it's crazy. Where did the virus come from?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Where did the virus come from?

AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: We still don't know yet. It's probably-- according to some initial outcome of the research, probably coming from some animals. But we have to-- to discover more about it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There has been some outcry on social media, particularly after the death of Doctor Li Wenliang. He had made public warnings for weeks before the government acknowledged this was happening. In fact, authorities had forced him to disavow what he had said previously, which turned out to be true. The Communist Party of China is now investigating this. Why?

AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: Well, we are all very saddened about the death of Doctor Li. He is a good doctor. He was a devoted doctor, and he did his best to protect people's health. We are so grateful to him. But you see, he was a doctor and a doctor could be alarmed by some individual cases. But as for the government, you have to do more. You have to base your decisions, your announcement on more solid evidence and signs.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But do you think silencing him in the beginning was a mistake?

AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: I-- I don't know who tried to silence him, but there was certainly a disagreement or people were not able to reach agreement on what exactly the virus is--


AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: --how it is affecting people. So there was a process of trying to discover more, to learn more about the virus. Maybe some people reacted not quickly enough. Maybe Doctor Li, he perceived some incoming dangers--


AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: --earlier than others, but this is-- this could happen anywhere. But whenever we find there's some shortcoming--


AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: --we'll do our best to correct it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Have Chinese authorities detained the citizen journalist, Chen Qiushi? He has disappeared and his videos revealed a lot of what was happening with this virus.

AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: I'm sorry. I have not-- never heard of this guy, so I don't have any information to share with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: His videos are how the rest of the world has seen some of the images of what's happening. I want to also ask you quickly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave an extraordinary speech yesterday to a-- a number of governors from all around the United States. And he harshly criticized the Chinese Communist Party and he said that your country is targeting states, cities, schools, academic institutions to try to figure out how to exploit them. What exactly is the intention of the Chinese government? Because the secretary of state says it's not good.

AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: I always believe the real foundation of China-U.S. relations is the friendship and mutual understanding between our peoples. So this is the root of state to state relations. And there's such an infusion among American states, cities and towns and ordinary Americans to learn more about China, to develop friendship with Chinese people--


AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: --to facilitate cooperation between our two countries.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, he's-- he's--

AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: I don't-- I don't think anybody has any reason to against the will of the people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, he specifically referenced concentration camps in Xinjiang. He talked about American institutions and inadvertently investing in surveillance of Muslim minorities. Do you want to respond to that point?

AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: That's totally wrong. That's totally wrong because the core issue in Xinjiang is how to combat terrorism. You see, some years ago until most recently, people in Xinjiang were victims--


AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: --to rising terrorist-- terrorist attacks. There were thousands of such attacks hurting and even killing hundreds of thousands of people. So, we have to do something to stop this threat--


AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: --to the very well-being and the lives of the people there.


AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: So without tremendous efforts now, for the last three years--


AMBASSADOR CUI TIANKAI: --there has been no such terrorist attack. So people have a much better safety there, security there and people are happy there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Ambassador, thank you for telling your side of the story.

We will be right back with new numbers from our CBS News Battleground Tracker.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to some political analysis from our panel, Jeffrey Goldberg is the editor-in-chief in The Atlantic. Leslie Sanchez is a CBS News political contributor. Jamal Simmons is the host on Hill.TV and also CBS News political contributor, and Jerry Seib is the executive Washington editor at the Wall Street Journal. It is great to have you all here. I want to get to the new poll numbers. But first, I think we need to digest some of what we just heard. We had two pretty substantial interviews. Jeffrey, the Chinese ambassador at the tail end of our interview said people in Xinjiang, China, are very happy. To be clear, the U.S. government says there are between one and three million Muslim minorities in camps. The Pentagon has called them concentration camps.

JEFFREY GOLDBERG (The Atlantic/@JeffreyGoldberg): Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How do we knowing that kind of denial--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --of what is established fact, how do we understand everything he told us?

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Well, what you have to understand is that the Chinese government is lying about the nature of what's happening in these camps. When you take between one and three million people of a particular ethnic group against their will and concentrate them in prison camps for reeducation, it seems like a fair thing to say that that's a concentration camp. The Chinese ambassador is arguing that the people are happy. I would simply suggest that you should let the international media in to these camps and we'll go ask them ourselves.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I will take them up on that invitation if that ever I mean…

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Yeah. I mean, you know-- yeah, road to-- on a panel road trip.



MARGARET BRENNAN: There we go. It is-- I just-- I wanted to make sure we didn't leave that there. Jerry, I want to pick up with you on some of what we heard from Senator Graham, as well. The President sent that tweet right as the show went on the air. It was directly aimed at one of our guests, who he knew--

GERALD SEIB (Wall Street Journal/@GeraldFSeib): Mm-Hm.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --was going to be appearing. What did you make of what Lindsey Graham said he was willing to do and what the President seemed to be asking him to do?

GERALD SEIB: Well, I think, first of all, we're at kind of an awkward transition point here, which we're moving beyond impeachment and beyond the Mueller report potentially, but the President doesn't really want to. He wants some retribution. You saw that over the weekend with the firing of witnesses. And he wants to know who's the whistleblower, and he wants the Bidens investigated. And I think Lindsey Graham was saying, hold on, let's not go down that path. Don't turn me into the Republican Party's Christopher Steele, as he said here. And so I think you have the emergence of some tension within the Trump coalition about whether we really want to continue going down this path or that maybe it's time to declare victory and move on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Leslie, I mean, doesn't that get back at the heart of what this impeachment inquiry was about, which was this question of things being aimed with taxpayer dollars at actually being part of a political opposition research arm rather than what they are officially called?

LESLIE SANCHEZ (CBS News Political Contributor/@LeslieSanchez): Well, that's particularly the case with FISA, right? And the President has strong grounds to stand on when he was saying that there was an extension beyond what it should have been. But, particularly, I think you have to look at it from a political lens. The President knows that there is a lot of-- he-- and he called it witch hunts, he called it corruption, that he wants illuminated. He wants more transparency and he's really relying on the Senate to do that. The independents-- I know we-- we talk about this. Politically, it works. Politically, it's part of an effort that galvanizes and really it-- it's building a cohesive bases behind the President wanting to illuminate these issues.

JAMAL SIMMONS (Hill.TV/@JamalSimmons/CBS News Political Contributor): It's amazing to me that they want to illuminate issues in the United States Senate, when they refused to call witnesses in the midst of an impeachment trial when we were having real-time information coming out in the press, for people to find out about what the President was up to. At the same time, we're saying the President now began to punish witnesses who came forward, fire people from their jobs, move them out of the way. I think-- we're now-- we're now seeing Donald Trump unleashed, and it is as frightening as people thought it might be.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You believe these investigations or calls for them will continue as long as Joe Biden stays in this presidential race?

JAMAL SIMMONS: Well, I'm sure. And I'm sure he'll move on to someone else. It may not be the Ukrainians where they'll find somewhere else to go after Pete Buttigieg or Michael Bloomberg or whoever becomes the Democratic frontrunner.

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: The-- the pattern in Washington is to move on, but Donald Trump doesn't move on. And that's what we're going to see in the next few months.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Joe Biden, we'll see how he fares on Tuesday, but he didn't really have a very good week, at least kind of a rocky start, certainly out in Iowa. You know, he-- he was thought to be at least in the top three. I-- I want-- was a distant fourth. In our most recent Battleground Tracker numbers, I want to tell you, the current rankings, Bernie Sanders, as we mentioned, top spot twenty-nine percent; Pete Buttigieg, twenty-five percent; third, Elizabeth Warren at seventeen percent; then Biden, twelve percent; then Amy Klobuchar, ten percent; and this survey in the field before the debates. So we'll see these numbers are fluid up in New Hampshire, where the poll was conducted. Well what do we make of this? I mean Joe Biden still in-- in the fourth spot here, Jamal?

JAMAL SIMMONS: He is. And I got to tell you, when I take a look at this and I see Joe Biden in fourth place in Iowa, I see him perhaps coming in at fourth place in New Hampshire. I'm not sure what happens in Nevada, but there's this sense that he's going to hold on to South Carolina. And that just defies all political logic. Each one of these things is building on each other. I think that voters he's counting on, those older African-American voters in South Carolina are paying attention to what's happening in these early states. And if he looks like-- they're-- they're with him, because they think he's a winner, and if he's not winning, I'm not sure how they hold on to that. The other thing that we know here is that Elizabeth Warren seems to overperforming her poll numbers, but with an organizing. So that means she's probably in third place, maybe she comes up a little bit better. And Bernie Sanders, though, is probably going to win another one of these states, which means that Democrats in DC and around the country are going to be really wrestling with what to do next.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Leslie, is that the Republican sort of best wish, best hope to have Bernie Sanders be the nominee?

LESLIE SANCHEZ: Absolutely, because the contrast will be very stark. And I want to go back to this impeachment issue, Jamal, with all-- with all due respect on that issue. The one thing that it did do from a political standpoint is it accelerated the campaign, not only in organizing the President's message, which has proven to be very particularly effective, but has also increased the negatives on the Hunter Biden issue that you're seeing, kind of the-- the down-- the effect-- real politique with Joe Biden. And I don't know if he's going to be able to survive that. It's been very impactful. But money, they raised a hundred and seventeen million dollars, meaning the Trump campaign and the apparatus, just within the time of impeachment. So while the party is very organized around this message and around, you know, the contrast to that, the Democrats are-- are, obviously, very fractured and, you know, it can speak more about that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jeffrey, the President, essentially, launched his own reelection on the floor of the state-- giving the State of the Union Address this week. Prior to that, he had the big Super Bowl ad. He seems to be making-- I want you to weigh in on this, too, Jamal-- he seems to be making a push at trying to build support among minorities in particular.


MARGARET BRENNAN: He thinks that he-- that's winnable for him. He's really focused on that in his ads and he was focused on it in his language at State--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --of the Union.

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Right. He was not only launching his reelection campaign, it seems like he was also launching a new reality TV show at the same time. It was amazing thing to watch, given-- for people who've watched State of the Unions in the past. Yes. There's-- there's a very concerted effort to work on African-American votes. That's through the-- through various prison reform, judicial reform issues. You know he doesn't do terribly poorly with Latino males in some-- in some parts of the country. You know, we've all said this in a million different ways. Takeaway Twitter from Donald Trump, takeaway some of the-- the extra meanness, and-- and focus the message, he could reach certain minority communities, people of color in-- in-- in ways that he is not. And I am wondering if he has the discipline to keep this pivot going or the next time someone, a person of color annoys him he goes out of his way to attack them and remind people what his record is on questions of race. But there's definitely an effort.

JAMAL SIMMONS: I'm going to send this flag up to the Democratic Party. People need to understand this. We talked to Terrance Woodbury, a young African-American pollster. He has been saying for months that he thinks Trump is going very hard at African-American men, particularly younger African-American men, Kim and Kanye West, ASAP Rocky getting out of Sweden, HBCU Money. He's got a whole list of things the President has been doing. I think they're not going to let up. And he doesn't have to win it. He just have to tick it up a couple of points in some key places to have it count. And Democrats need to have a candidate who really has a strategy about how to deal with that. And if Bernie Sanders is not the nominee, I will tell you, a lot of those-- a lot of Bernie Sanders' voters are anti-establishment voters more than their Democrats. And they might get wooed by Donald Trump.

GERALD SEIB: And-- and this also comes at a time when the hottest Democratic presidential candidate happens to be Pete Buttigieg, who has noticeable problems with the African-American community, so maybe there's a kind of harmonic convergence here. But I also wanted to add that the other person who had a great week this week was Michael Bloomberg, right?


GERALD SEIB: So the scenario that's unfolding right now is got to be exactly the one that Bloomberg had in mind when he got into the race late, a fade by Joe Biden, growing concern within the Democratic Party about nominating somebody as liberal as Bernie Sanders and a really resilient President Trump emerging as a threat to win reelection. That's the Bloomberg formula. And it's all kind of fallen into place this week. So he's sitting on the sideline right now listening to everything we're talking about and saying, well, that was kind of my bargain--


GERALD SEIB: --when I got in.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Thanks to all of you--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --for helping us digest it all.

We will be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. Our apologies to Anthony Salvanto. Our Battleground Tracker segment can be seen on CBSN and our website. Really important numbers, very timely. We thank Anthony for all he does for FACE THE NATION. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.