On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn
- Represenative Jerry Nadler, Judiciary Committee Chairman, @RepJerryNadler
- Senator John Cornyn, @JohnCornyn
- Susan Page ,Washington Bureau Chief, USA Today @SusanPage
- Gerald Seib Executive Washington Editor, Wall Street Journal @GeraldFSeib
- Ed O'Keefe, CBS News Political Correspondent, @edokeefe
- Weijia Jiang, CBS News White House Correspondent, @weijia
Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington. And this week on FACE THE NATION, the pomp and pageantry of the opening act of the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump are complete. The cast is set as prosecutors, defenders, jurors, and judge prepare for their roles in what is only the third impeachment trial in American history. But the question of whether there will be witnesses in the trial and who the witnesses might be will likely be delayed until act one is over. It was an unusually subdued Senate as the gravity of a presidential impeachment trial set in last week.
MAN: Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye, all persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment.
JOHN ROBERTS: Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Ceremony over, political posturing is well underway. House impeachment managers, the prosecutors will open their case early this week. It's a now-familiar one, charging with the President with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
JERRY NADLER: There is an overwhelming case beyond any reasonable doubt the President betrayed the country.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The defense team led by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow has some new recruits, including high-profile celebrity defender Alan Dershowitz and former Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr. They say the House-passed articles of impeachment are constitutionally invalid and that the effort is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the 2016 election and interfere with 2020. We'll preview the Senate trial with a top House prosecutor, Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn.
We'll also look into the impact of the new revelations from Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas. He is under indictment for campaign finance charges but is implicating the President directly in efforts to push Ukraine into investigating Hunter Biden.
LEV PARNAS: President Trump knew exactly what was going on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Then former White House Economic Adviser Gary Cohn joins us for a rare interview, weighing in on President Trump's economic record and what 2020 Democrats should be talking about when it comes to the economy.
All that and more, is just ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We begin this morning with House impeachment manager and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler. He joins us from New York. Mister Chairman, good morning to you.
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER (D-New York/@RepJerryNadler/Judiciary Committee Chairman): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the-- the White House legal team sent their response last night to the articles of impeachment: abuse of power, obstruction of justice. They, on the first, argue that there was no violation of any law. And on the second point, they argue that the President had the right to refuse to produce documents and witnesses due to executive privilege. How are you going to prosecute this case?
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: Well, both of those statements are arrant nonsense. There is ample evidence, overwhelming evidence. Any jury would convict in-- in three minutes flat that the President betrayed his country by breaking the law. The GAO, the General Accountability Office, just came out this week and pointed out that withholding money from-- from Ukraine that Congress had appropriated is against the law. But we didn't need them to tell us that. And the reason he did that was in order to extort a foreign government to-- to-- to smear his political opponents for his personal benefits and to help try to rig the 2020 election as he worked with the Russians to try to rig the 2016 election. Same pattern. So, there is no question that working with a foreign-- working with a foreign power, trying to extort a foreign power to interfere in our election is about as bad as-- as you can imagine. The main fear the framers of the Constitution had, why they put the impeachment clause in the Constitution, was they were afraid of foreign interference in-- in our domestic affairs.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: The-- the second thing they say that he broke no law is absurd. Abuse of power is the central reason for the impeachment clause in the Constitution. It's all over the Federalist Papers. It's all over the debates in the constitutional convention. There is no question about it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well--
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: And the evidence is overwhelming.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I-- I-- I want to ask--
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: And the-- and the last thing they said is-- is--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: --is that-- is that the President is entitled to withhold documents. No, he's not. The House of Representatives has the impeachment power under the Constitution. And that includes--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: --and the Supreme Court ruled that in the Nixon case that he has every-- that we must demand documents. He-- he can't withhold all the evidence and by the way-- and then say there's not enough evidence.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Well, on the question of witnesses, from what we are hearing from Senate Republicans, there will, eventually, be a vote on whether or not to hear from witnesses. Not a commitment upfront, but an agreement to talk about it and vote on it later. Is there any circumstance in which Democrats would consider, for reciprocity, having Hunter Biden come and testify?
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: You know the question of witnesses in any trial, in any trial, all relevant witnesses must be heard. Whether if-- if you're accused of robbing a bank, test-- testimony that I saw him rob the bank or he was somewhere else, he couldn't have robbed the bank, is admissible. It's not negotiable whether you have witnesses. And this whole controversy about whether there should be witnesses is just-- is really a question of, does the Senate want to have a fair trial or do they-- or are they part of the cover up of the President? Any Republican senator who says there should be no witnesses or even that witnesses should be negotiated is part of the cover up.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you're saying no way would Hunter Biden ever be called to testify?
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: Well, I'm saying that Hunter Biden has no knowledge of the accusations against the President. Did the President, as we said-- as the evidence shows that he did, betray his country--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: --by conspiring with a foreign country to-- to try to rig the election? Hunter Biden has nothing to say about that. They're-- they're asking for Hunter Biden is just more of a smear of Hunter Biden that the President is trying to get the Ukraine to do. But the fact of the matter is, let the chief justice rule on-- on--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well--
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: --the chief justice in the first instance rules on evidence. The Senate can overrule him.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: But no chief justice would-- would-- would think of-- of admitting evidence that-- that it is not relevant--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I--
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: No trial judge would in any trial.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about evidence because Lev Parnas, the business associate of Rudy Giuliani, some of the documents that he turned over were included in the briefs submitted by Democrats just last night. Are-- many Republicans say--
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: Mm-Hm.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --shouldn't be admissible at all. Do Democrats want to hear him testify? And given his legal troubles, given his ties to Russian oligarchs, why do you think he is credible?
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: Well, he seems to be credible because everything he says corroborates things we knew. New documents that-- that he has brought out corrob-- from the time, corroborate what he was saying. But the-- the main credit, the main thing is all relevant evidence should be admitted. And the President has engaged in a-- in a concerted attempt--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: --to deny all evidence. Everyone who testified defied the President testifying. I mean Mike Pompeo ought to testify. John Bolton ought to testify. What is the President hiding? The President says don't let these people testify. If they were-- if they had exculpatory evidence, he would be saying let them testify.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, as you know, the White House argues that it sets a dangerous precedent for future Presidents. But I want to ask you about--
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: There is no precedent--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --I want to ask you about--
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: That is-- that is-- that is nonsense.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --the President's legal team or at least some lawyers who are going to be speaking on behalf of the President, Alan Dershowitz among them, Ken Starr also added as someone who is going to be speaking before the Senate. What do you think of their additions to the team? What does that suggest to you as someone who will be prosecuting?
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: I am not going to comment on their witnesses, except that Ken Starr thinks that-- apparently, thinks that, asking a foreign government to involve itself in our elections is okay. But the President twenty years ago talking about a private sexual affair, now that's impeachable. I mean he's-- he's-- it's ridiculous.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And Alan Dershowitz says it's not a constitutional criteria for impeachment, abuse of power. It doesn't meet that standard.
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: Well, I was surprised to see Alan Dershowitz say that. That's simply ignorance. If you read all the history of impeachments in the country, if you read the Federalist Papers, if you read the--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: --consti-- the-- the Constitutional Convention debates from the 1780s, if you read the majority staff report of the House Judiciary Committee in 1974, there's no question about that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. Okay.
REPRESENTATIVE JERRY NADLER: It's ridiculous.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Chairman, we'll be watching. Thank you very much for your time this morning.
We now go to a senator who was part of a small group of Republicans invited to discuss impeachment trial strategy with Leader McConnell. That's Texas Senator John Cornyn, who joins us now from Austin. Good morning to you, Senator.
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN (R-Texas/@JohnCornyn): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What can you expect to see this week? How long will this process take? Will there be a motion to dismiss or are we charging ahead with this trial?
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: Well, we'll start with the introduction of the resolution that will guide the schedule on Tuesday and in the Clinton impeachment that was adopted by a hundred Senators. Here, unfortunately, our Democratic colleagues are probably not going to participate, but it is-- fifty-three senators, I believe, will embrace, essentially, the same rules of the road that applied to the Clinton impeachment trial, deferring the decision about additional witnesses until after both sides have had a chance to make their presentation and senators have a chance to ask questions. And so, we'll be sitting there in our chairs, about probably on the order of six hours a day starting at 1:00 PM on east-- Eastern Time and then six days a week. So this is going to be, I think, kind of a grueling exercise but also one that will be public.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you say there will be at some point a decision on and potentially a vote on whether to allow witnesses. You're in leadership.
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: Well, I would--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do Republicans have the numbers to block that vote from actually approving witnesses to be heard?
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: Well, if I can make a distinction, Margaret, the-- the House heard testimony from seventeen witnesses, more than a hundred hours of testimony. All of that will be available to the impeachment managers to present their case to the Senate. And then after they are through, then if the senators, fifty-one senators, want to hear more then-- then we can vote to subpoena those witnesses.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, as you know, House Democrats argue not all the facts have been revealed. That's why they are arguing for new witnesses and new evidence to be introduced. I know you've said you're open to hearing from former National Security Adviser John Bolton. Does that mean that the rest of Republican leadership is open to issuing a subpoena to compel him?
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: Well, I find it curious that Chairman Nadler of the Judiciary Committee called this a rock solid case. But if the House isn't prepared to go forward with the evidence that they produced in the impeachment inquiry, maybe they ought to withdraw the articles of impeachment and-- and start over again. This isn't the Senate's responsibility to make the case. This is the House's responsibility under the Constitution. The Senate's supposed to decide the case sitting as a court of impeachment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: So, this is really on the House to make that decision. They can continue to process additional witnesses in the House. They could even vote on additional articles of impeachment. But this to me seems to undermine or indicate that they're getting cold feet or have a lack of confidence in what they've done so far.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But-- but, yet, you say the door is still open to holding a vote to hear from witnesses. I mean you were Mitch McConnell's--
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --number two for-- for some time. Do you think he can control the caucus to prevent a vote to approve witnesses?
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: Well, this is a very serious matter. Obviously, this is the third time in American history where we have had a trial on impeachment charges. Unfortunately, this seems to be more of a political or policy differences than-- than actually a high crime and misdemeanor as the Constitution requires. So, I think we--
MARGARET BRENNAN: So-- so you reject--
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: -- we're going to proceed with caution.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You reject that government watchdog report, the GAO report, that does say there was a violation of the law?
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: Certainly not a crime and something that no one had ever dreamed in the past would have been-- risen to the level of impeachment. This is one of the basic problems with the House's case--
MARGARET BRENNAN: But isn't it central--
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: --is the Constitution--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --to that question of the President withholding aid for personal gain, which is the allegation?
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: Well, it's-- it is-- he has been charged with abuse of power, which is not treason, which is not bribery, which is not a high crime and misdemeanor. So, this is the first time in history where a President has been impeached for a non-crime for events that never occurred. Ultimately, the investigation never took place and ultimately the-- their aid was delivered.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well--
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: This is really unique, and I think every senator is going to take this very seriously.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, that-- that is certainly what the-- the White House is arguing. But I want to ask you about the legal brief that Democrats did submit. It included a number of things, including documents that have been revealed recently by Lev Parnas, an indicted business associate of Rudy Giuliani. Among them, a letter that says that Rudy Giuliani himself was acting with the approval and knowledge of the President when he was reaching out to the president of Ukraine. Should all of these items be admissible during trial?
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: Well, as you know, Margaret, I was a judge for thirteen years in-- in state courts and in no court in America would that kind of hearsay be admissible. But having said that, I would be--
MARGARET BRENNAN: It's a letter from Rudy Giuliani.
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: Well, I would be careful before crediting the veracity of somebody who is under indictment in New York, the southern district of New York, and who's trying to get leniency from the prosecutor and who has ties to Russian oligarchs.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, yeah, he--
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: The Russians have--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --exactly, but--
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: --had a lot to do with our elections and disinformation campaigns, and this could be part of that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you certainly would have knowledge, since you're on Senate Intelligence on that. But given what you're saying are Lev Parnas' ties to Russian oligarchs, which is often shorthand for Russian mafia, doesn't it trouble you that he was working so closely with Rudy Giuliani, who is acting on the President's behalf and saying he was acting on the President's behalf?
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: Well, there's no question that there have been a-- a series of grifters and other hangers on that have associated themselves with the President's campaign or claimed to have special relationships with the President. But this is not the issue that the Senate's going to be deciding. We'll take the issue of evidence as it comes. If the impeachment managers want to rest their case on the credibility of somebody who's under indictment in the Southern District of New York with extensive ties to Russian oligarchs and organized crime, as you point out, then that's their choice.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is Congress going to investigate, should they investigate what was going on with Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch who, according to these documents released by Lev Parnas, appears to have been under surveillance?
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: I'm sure that will happen. And I know the Ukrainian government has asked for some help in-- in some of this investigation. But, as you point out, I've been a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee during a three-year plus investigation into the Russian active measures campaign. We know that Ukraine was plagued with corruption. We know of the ties between Ukraine and-- and Russian oligarchs, which are proxies for Vladimir Putin. And so, that's why I think we need to approach all of this with a little bit of caution and make sure we have our facts right and make sure we know about the credibility problems that some of these purported witnesses have before we take it at face value.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But these text messages, are you saying there's reason not to believe that she was, indeed, being surveilled or potentially at risk?
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: Yeah, I just don't know the answer to that. I would say I'd-- I'd say anything is possible in this-- in this smarmy environment in Ukraine and-- and-- and-- and in Russia.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you have questions for Rudy Giuliani about any of this?
SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: Not relative to the impeachment. I just, you know, that's-- that's a relationship that causes many of us to sort of scratch our heads. But I'd say he is not relevant to the articles and what the Senate's going to be asked to do, impeaching a President for the third time in American history for a non-crime over events that never occurred.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Cornyn, thank you.
And we'll be back in one minute with former director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back with Gary Cohn. He is the former director of the National Economic Council under President Trump. He's back in the private sector these days. Thank you for being here.
GARY COHN (Former Director of the National Economic Council/@Gary_D_Cohn): Thank you for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So the economy is going to be front and center in this election. Many economists say we're overdue for a recession. Do you think we're on the brink of one?
GARY COHN: Margaret, first of all, it's great to be here. I know a lot of people have been talking about a recession. I do not see a recession on the horizon here. The U.S. economy is strong and continues to be very strong. The U.S. consumer is very strong. If you look at what's happened in the last couple of years with tax reform, we have put more disposable income in the hands of the U.S. consumer, and the U.S. consumer is out spending it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So then why is the President and his-- the man currently in the job you once held, Larry Kudlow, continuing to criticize the Fed chairman?
GARY COHN: I am not worried about interest rates right now. I think our interest rate policy is in a good place, I think the consumer is in a good place, and I think the U.S. economy is in a good place. We actually have interest rates at a level right now where activity is growing. I think that, you know, fourth quarter GDP will come in around two, two and a half percent--
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you--
GARY COHN: --probably two and a half percent.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --you differ from the President on that quibble about interest rates currently?
GARY COHN: I don't think I differ from the President on the economy being strong.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
GARY COHN: I think we agree completely about the economy is strong.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But on interest rates.
GARY COHN: Yeah, I agree that I-- I think the Fed is in a good place on interest rate policy.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about trade. This week the United States and China, the two largest economies in the world, signed this Phase One trade deal. There's like two hundred billion in promised purchases, but there are still like three hundred billion dollars worth of goods under tariff. So what does this actually accomplish? What-- what do you see it?
GARY COHN: So, first of all, anytime the United States and China get together and sign an agreement, I think we should applaud that. I mean the mere fact that we got a ninety-plus-page agreement signed between-- between the two countries is very good relative to where we were months ago when everyone thought we were going to continue to feud with China. So we've got some trade agreement in place. The Chinese are going to buy some more goods from the United States, which has to be a good thing. But there's also, in that agreement, there are some provisions that free up trademarks and trade patents and trade secrets, which is very, very good. No, this didn't--
MARGARET BRENNAN: I thought this was about intellectual property--
GARY COHN: This didn't-- I said--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --and theft and all of those things?
GARY COHN: This didn't address, look, this--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
GARY COHN: --did not address the big issue. The big issue the President and I agreed upon is that the Chinese had been stealing our intellectual property. They've been infringing on our-- our trademarks. They've been infringing on our copyrights. It has not addressed that. And we still have to continue to address that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think that China is going to hold up its end of the deal and actually enact some of the reforms they say they're going to carry out?
GARY COHN: I-- I think they're going to. I think they're going to open up their markets. I think the Chinese have been closed to opening up their markets for the-- for the industries that were listed in there. So I'm cautiously optimistic that the Chinese are going to start reforming and opening up their markets.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you resigned over a difference about tariffs, or at least that was a--
GARY COHN: Yeah, I don't think that's actua-- accurate but go ahead.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, then why did you resign?
GARY COHN: Well, look, I-- I-- I left the administration for a variety of different reasons. And-- and the President and I had very open conversations about my policy views and his policy views. We'd accomplished a lot. And at the end of the day, he was going a different direction on some of the trade negotiations than I would have gone. I agreed fundamentally on what the issue was.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
GARY COHN: I just didn't agree on how to solve the issue.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So the steel and aluminum tariffs was what many thought was the impetus for your resignation?
GARY COHN: Well, I didn't think--
MARGARET BRENNAN: You're saying it's not?
GARY COHN: I didn't think the steel and aluminum tariffs were helpful to our economy.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But when it comes to the tariffs that were used to get to the-- the negotiating table with China on this deal, or where, ultimately, they ended up with the free trade deal--the new NAFTA, so to speak, USMCA. Can the President say, look, people may not like my tactics, but I got this done? Was he ultimately right? Were you wrong?
GARY COHN: They-- they can say that. I don't think we would have gotten to a different outcome. I don't think the tariffs helped us get to any different outcome.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Did it hurt the U.S.?
GARY COHN: I think it has hurt the U.S. I think it's totally hurt the United States. Look, the U.S. economy is very strong, very solid. Employment growth is great. But we're missing a big component. We're missing the capital expenditures from companies in the United States. That was a key component to tax reform.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Lowering the corporate tax rate is what you thought was going to get companies--
GARY COHN: Not--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --to spend more?
GARY COHN: --not lowering. We actually gave them expensing of CapEx. For the first five years, they get a hundred percent expense their CapEx. But the minute you turn around and put steel and aluminum tariffs on them, the minute a company is thinking about spending capital, what do you go out and buy? You go out and buy steel and aluminum. That's how you build factories. That's how you build property-- plant equipment. So, all of the sudden, the advantages that we were trying to give companies to help stimulate the economy, to build facilities, to go out and hire people, to drive wages, we took away that advantage by taxing the input that they needed to build.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You're saying the President got in his own way?
GARY COHN: I'm saying the policies collided with each other.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Gary Cohn, stay with us. And we will be right back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: CBS News plans special coverage each day of the Senate impeachment trial proceedings on the broadcast network and on our digital network CBSN, starting this coming Tuesday at 1:00 PM.
As for FACE THE NATION, we'll be right back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we will have more special coverage each day of the impeachment trial, but stay with us on FACE THE NATION. More of our interview with Gary Cohn, former National Economic Council director under the Trump administration. Stay ahead.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We continue our conversation with former director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn.
So at this signing ceremony the President did this week with China, he said:
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (Wednesday): I made a lot of bankers look very good.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The top six U.S. banks saved about thirty-two billion dollars because of the tax cuts that you helped craft. This is analysis, according to-- to Bloomberg News. The-- the hit on the tax law is that it is good for corporations, it's good for business. It's not good for the little guy. Why do you think this analysis is wrong? The President seems to be saying and applauding that he's helping out big banks.
GARY COHN: Well, our-- our tax bill's clearly working, which is great. We have made U.S. businesses competitive again with the rest of the world. We lowered the corporate tax rate to twenty-one percent. So we now have a corporate tax rate that is competitive with the rest of the world. Yes, we lowered corporate tax rates, and that in itself cost less than a hundred billion dollars a year to do that. But it stimulates huge economic growth. The businesses in the United States now can thrive, which means that they can grow. They can go out and hire people, which we've seen. We've seen record unemployment. We've seen record unemployment rates down to three and a half percent. We've seen wage growth. We've seen three-percent-plus wage growth. And, most importantly--
MARGARET BRENNAN: You put this all on the tax law?
GARY COHN: We've seen-- a lot of it has to do with tax law. It has to. We've seen higher-end wage growth at the bottom pay scale than we have at the top. So we're seeing the incentives that we created in the tax law by lowering the corporate rate, we're seeing that happen, and-- and that is happening in the last couple of years.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There's a whole debate about the contribution to the deficit. But I want to put that aside here because I want to focus in on something--
GARY COHN: Oh, please don't.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to focus in on something, though, that-- that is really resonating politically. And it is this broader argument that this country somehow is rigged to benefit the wealthy and disadvantage the poor. And you've even had Jamie Dimon, the CEO of CEO of JPMorgan, you've had Hank Paulson, former Treasury secretary, former head of Goldman Sachs. I know you know him. They have said that they are all concerned about income inequality growing in this country. Are you concerned?
GARY COHN: Of course, I'm concerned.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you-- but you don't--
GARY COHN: We-- we're all concerned--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --think in any way that there have been contributions to that through the tax law you helped write?
GARY COHN: I-- I think there have been contributions for the positive. I think if you look at the data, you'll see that we have grown wages--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
GARY COHN: --at the bottom end of the pay cy-- cycle-- scale, I'm sorry, pay cy-- scale faster than we've grown them at the top. That's exactly what we're trying to do. We're trying to attract more jobs back to the United States, put more people to work. And that's what we're seeing happening.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Michael Bloomberg says about this tax law, "Nearly all the money goes to people like me who don't need it." This is a guy who knows Wall Street, who is a billionaire. He is saying that the tax law is-- is only advantaging people like him.
GARY COHN: I'd love to know how it's advantaging him. I'd-- I'd love to see that because at the end of the day, we have lowered rates. I'll agree that we've lowered rates. We have broadened the base, meaning that we make more of your income taxable. That's basic tax policy. Lower rates, broaden base, meaning you get rid of more of the loopholes that people have used to deduct from their income what they pay taxes on. We got rid of a lot of the loopholes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
GARY COHN: So people are having to pay more taxes-- they are having to pay tax on more of their income. Yes, they are paying it at a little lower rate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you going to endorse Michael Bloomberg, whose board I believe you sit on--
GARY COHN: I do not, I do not--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --as part of one of his Bloomberg entities?
GARY COHN: I sit on one of his-- his emerging market boards. I guess it's a board.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But that doesn't mean you're necessarily going to be voting for him?
GARY COHN: It does not.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Two of the candidates who are also vying for the Democratic nomination--Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren--constantly come back to this idea of income inequality. They have proposed taxes on billionaires, taxes on financial transactions--Elizabeth Warren has, specifically, referred to that. People making over fifty million dollars having an additional two-percent tax. What would the impact of those policies be from your perspective?
GARY COHN: Look, our tax system in the United States is very, very progressive. We have-- over fifty percent of the population today of workers do not pay a dollar of federal income tax. So if you're going to collect more revenue, which I am not against, we have to collect more revenue.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
GARY COHN: It's going to come from the top half of workers. And, in fact, it's going to come from the top ten percent of workers. That's where-- that's where you can find the taxable income. I think that we will end up doing that. We will potentially need to do that. But these fangled plans that they are coming up with, we don't need to do things like that to collect more income from people. We have a basic tax system that works, and we can do some basic fundamental things, if we need to collect more money. The question is--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
GARY COHN: --do we need to collect more money? You know, we look at spending and we look at revenue and we don't talk about them in the same sentence. We-- we collect taxes and then we spend. And-- and Congress never thinks about how much money they have to spend. They just go spend.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
GARY COHN: And so you wouldn't run your household like that. I wouldn't run my household like that. I would decide how much revenue I have and then how much I could spend.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you're-- you're a Democrat.
GARY COHN: Yes, I am.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there a single Democrat that you would consider voting for?
GARY COHN: There-- there-- I-- I'll consider voting for anyone. I vote on policy.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Even Elizabeth Warren, whose policy you just tried to--
GARY COHN: I will consider voting for anyone, I said. I didn't say I would. I said I'd consider voting for them.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, that's evasive.
GARY COHN: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In pulling apart some of her proposals, you seem to be reflecting a lot of what Wall Street says, which is that there is deep concern over this focus on the financial community, on corporations, etcetera.
GARY COHN: I--
MARGARET BRENNAN: In this environment--
GARY COHN: Look at--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --is this enough that you see some of the people you know--
GARY COHN: I--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --on Wall Street continuing to vote along lines of whatever the President is putting forward, even if they don't like some of his behavior, vote for him because of what he is doing for--
GARY COHN: That's a--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --banks?
GARY COHN: --that's a hypothetical question. I don't know. What I do know--
MARGARET BRENNAN: You don't know who you're voting for?
GARY COHN: --what I do know is the economy is really strong--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
GARY COHN: --and the Democrats haven't really come up with an idea, how to help the economy get even stronger. So it's probably easier to talk about corporate greed, and talk about Wall Street, and talk about technology companies because they don't really have an answer for an economy that's growing two and a half percent with three and a half percent unemployment and three-percent wage growth. I haven't heard their answer on that, except let's tax it to death.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, as you said, you identify as a Democrat. You did have disagreements with the President on a number of things. I was there in Trump Tower the day of the Charlottesville reference--"fine people on both sides"--I remember your face that day and you were very public about some of your differences with the President. Will you vote for him?
GARY COHN: Look, I am very supportive of the President's economic policy. I am very supportive of what he's done on deregulation. I haven't heard anyone who's come up with a better policy, yet. Now, I just don't vote on the economy.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
GARY COHN: I vote on a lot of the social issues as well. So, you know, in many respects, I've got to balance both sides of that equation before I figure out who I am going to vote for.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you're leaving the door open?
GARY COHN: I'm leaving the door open. But at this point I don't have any intention not to vote for the President.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You are a frank guy. You're usually pretty direct.
GARY COHN: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there anyone around the President who can be direct with him right now? Is there anyone doing what you said you did when guiding him on some of these economic policies?
GARY COHN: I don't know. I've been gone a year and a half. I-- I am sure there are people when you're talking to the President--
MARGARET BRENNAN: But when-- when the President can say, look, I've gotten these tariffs that have helped me get this free trade deal with North America. These tariffs have helped me get this Phase One deal with China--doesn't that encourage the President's approach, one that you have said you have differed with him on?
GARY COHN: It may encourage his approach, but he-- he's also got advisors in there that I'm sure are telling him differences. I know that there are people in there. You know, Secretary Mnuchin and I had a lot of conversations where we agreed on tariffs. And I'm sure the secretary is talking to the President about tariffs and what effect they are having and what effect they are not having.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Lastly, I want to ask you about a new book. I know you haven't read it. It's coming out, but there have been excerpts released that directly reference you, which is why--
GARY COHN: Mm-Hm.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --I want to give you a chance to respond. He's called the President is-- is-- in this meeting accused of calling advisers "dopes and babies" and the like. Is the-- the description of the President and his management style mat-- matching your experience?
GARY COHN: I don't know what book you're referring to. As you said I haven't read it, so I-- I-- I-- I wouldn't know.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The management style of berating advisers?
GARY COHN: Look, the-- the President is-- what you see on TV is exactly what you get in private with the President. The President is the same person behind closed doors as he is out in public, which is a-- which is a unique feature. You know it's-- it's not like he turns it on or turns it off when he walks outside. So you have seen everything the President has. That's exactly what you see when you're in a private meeting with him.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Gary Cohn, thank you for your time.
GARY COHN: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with our political panel. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to our political panel for some analysis. Gerry Seib is the executive Washington editor at The Wall Street Journal, Susan Page is the Washington Bureau Chief of USA Today, Ed O'Keefe is our chief political correspondent, and Weijia Jiang covers the White House for CBS News. Welcome to the table.
ED O'KEEFE (CBS News Political Correspondent/@edokeefe): Good to see you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Gerry, the President seems to have shifted his request for what he wants out of this Senate trial or at least the Senate may not be giving him everything--
GERALD SEIB (Wall Street Journal/@GeraldFSeib): Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --he wants. What's going on behind the scenes?
GERALD SEIB: I think, in the last few days, there has been a feeling that's taken hold that the White House is being conveyed to Senate Republicans that we would like to get this impeachment trial over with as fast as possible as opposed to let's stretch it out, let's have this exonerate the President. I think there is now a real fear that the longer this goes on, the greater the risk of unexpected, unpleasant surprises. And Lev Parnas, who you talked about earlier, kind of illustrated that this week. Somebody comes in out of the blue during the middle of a process, starts saying things that make Republicans very nervous. Maybe that increases the chances that Senate Republicans will vote to call witnesses. That's not where the White House wants to go. So I think you're seeing the President pressure Senate Republicans and you're seeing Senate Republicans having conversations this weekend about how can we speed this up and get to the finish line faster.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But, Susan, you-- you heard some of this with Senator Cornyn. I mean, he-- he is talking about the gravity of the moment. That doesn't sound like something you put on fast forward.
SUSAN PAGE (USA Today/@SusanPage): You know I thought it was remarkable what we saw over the last couple of days. We-- we've been talking about impeachment since Inauguration Day.
GERALD SEIB: Mm-Hm.
SUSAN PAGE: It's not a surprise that the President is being impeached, although maybe it's a surprise that it's over aid to Ukraine. But I thought that with the transmission of the articles of impeachment with the arrival of the chief justice with the senators signing the oath book that we had a sense of-- have the importance and the gravity of what is ahead. I'm not sure that's going to hold for an impeachment trial, especially with Alan Dershowitz on the-- on the President's defense team. But for at least a moment, it seemed like a different kind, a more serious exercise than it seemed before.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Weijia, you spoke to Alan Dershowitz I know in your reporting. He's got his own legal problems, but he is someone the public knows well from being on television. Ken Starr, people know him from the Clinton impeachment. What is behind this-- this casting, if that's the right word, of these individuals?
WEIJIA JIANG (CBS News White House Correspondent/@weijia): You know that baggage could follow them, if you believe that the company you keep says something about you. But President Trump clearly doesn't care because he really cares about the appearance of his legal team. And he thinks that Dershowitz and Starr, despite the other things that come along with them, will lend credibility to his case along with, quote, "great television ratings," according to an adviser to the White House. So the President thinks that they will make for great TV to put on a show for who he believes are the real jurors in this case, not the senators, but the people watching at home.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Will it be great TV, Ed? I mean, this is something that is so-- so solemn, so scripted. The senators can't even speak.
ED O'KEEFE: Right. And I think there's only--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is Mitch McConnell planning for great TV?
ED O'KEEFE: Well--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Or is he seeing something else or not?
ED O'KEEFE: He's-- he's hoping for a dignified process, and if that means bad TV, so be it. Remember, there's only going to be like four camera angles in the room. We don't get to see the jurors necessarily during this trial. So get no facial reactions from guys like Jim Inhofe or Chris Murphy. You know it's just-- it's just going to be sort of whoever is speaking and the chief justice for the most part. He'll get plenty of air time. Look, McConnell has four priorities here over the course of the next few weeks, manage the Senate and make sure it's a dignified process. But three other important things, he's got to manage the President and his expectations. He's got to manage the fact that several-- twenty-two of his colleagues are up for reelection and about seven or eight of them are in trickier contests than they'd like, and he has his own reelection back home. So he has to be seen as not only maintaining the decorum but also keeping in the back of his mind or in front of him that this could be a factor eleven months from now in elections across the country.
SUSAN PAGE: You know what he's lucky with? John McCain is not in the Senate.
ED O'KEEFE: Yeah.
SUSAN PAGE: Can you imagine the fifth and sixth and seventh chores that McConnell would face if John McCain were still representing the state of Arizona? What does that mean others-- Lindsey Graham would do? Does that mean Mitt Romney would feel more empowered to stand up in a serious way?
ED O'KEEFE: Yeah. And I would-- I would argue, too, that there could be somebody who emerges if not a McCain, some Republican that does step up and say, we do need to allow this to play out a little more.
GERALD SEIB: But we should remember, though, that the-- the moment that would make for great TV to your question would be if John Bolton, the former national security adviser does, in fact, testify. That would be great TV. That would be a dramatic moment. And I think not getting to that point is a top goal of Mitch McConnell and the White House.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And while impeachment does not poll as a political win necessarily for Democrats, it's, apparently, helping fundraising at the RNC, Jerry.
GERALD SEIB: Oh, it has. And it has since for several weeks now. And they've raised millions of dollars, and they've signed up lots of volunteers, people on the Trump team, people out in the country are-- are unhappy about this, and they're voting with their feet and their dollars right now to some extent. By the way one of the other groups that has to be worried about this, the thirty House Democrats who come from districts that Donald Trump won in 2016, and part of what the Republican machinery is doing is going after those people. They voted except for one for impeachment. Republicans would like to ensure they pay a price for that politically as well.
WEIJIA JIANG: The campaign is really capitalizing this as well, too. Sources say every time there's a twist and turn in this entire process, you see that being advertised to supporters, and they say there's a spike in the money that they're bringing in every time something significant happens. And so they're not shying away from this, and-- and they're owning the fact that it's helping them financially. So we'll continue to see sort of this campaign for more money as this process goes on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there concern in the White House about Lev Parnas, Rudy Giuliani's business associate? You've heard Senator Cornyn and others say, not credible, not worth listening to.
WEIJIA JIANG: There is concern, because there's a recognition among sources who are being honest that even if he's not an official witness, he's already impacting this trial. Unless senators are completely tuned out, they are absorbing what he is saying, and they are seeing what he is dropping in these document dumps. So even though the President insists that he has no idea who Parnas is, the problem is Parnas has receipts. And he--
MARGARET BRENNAN: And selfies.
WEIJIA JIANG: Exactly, not one, not two, but a whole collection that tells a story of two men who know each other over the course of years, and so the President has to add to his defense, he can't just say, I don't know who he is.
SUSAN PAGE: You know, I think great TV maybe, but I am not sure it matters in the substance of the trial in that there's not really a dispute over what happened. Aid got delayed, the President wanted an investigation of Joe Biden by Ukraine, now there's an argument about whether it's an impeachable offense.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SUSAN PAGE: There's an argument about the President's motives. But-- but in a way the-- the facts are-- are set, and I wonder if at the end of the day when we get to election day, does-- would this even matter? You know, this is--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
SUSAN PAGE: --part of the Presi-- in a way, these people have absorbed this idea already and made up their minds about whether they care.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Ed, what about that and what about some of the jurors who are running for office themselves?
ED O'KEEFE: Right. So four, of course, are senators running for President, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Michael Bennet who spends most of his time in New Hampshire. All of them concede this is going to be a problem for them. All of them were in-- or on the trail again this weekend, trying to button things up admitting to voters, I might not be back before caucus day, sorry about that. They'll send their spouses, they'll send surrogates. They're establishing office hours at their campaign offices across New Hampshire and Iowa for people to come meet their surrogates and ask questions. And they will find ways from Washington if need be to campaign, whether that's holding Skype sessions with voters or calling in to rallies and certainly doing television interviews, but they all understand they could be at a huge disadvantage. And if you look at the schedule in the coming days, who's spending most of their time in Iowa and New Hampshire? Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg who sit up there with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren at the top especially in Iowa. So we've never seen anything like this. And it will really sort of test whether being there and the face time that voters in these early states crave is a factor or whether those four senators have done enough already to bank away goodwill and votes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Gerry, what do you make, though, of the argument that Democrats need to be campaigning on issues like health care. Speaker Pelosi says, how do you respond to what Gary Cohn laid out, which was it's hard to run against a strong economy.
GERALD SEIB: Yeah. Well--
MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you turn back to the Senate?
GERALD SEIB: Well, first of all, I thought it was very instructive that there was almost no discussion of-- of impeachment in the debate the Democrats had this week. They're not eager to talk about this out in the country. Second of all, I think Gary Cohn made a really good point. Where is the conversation in the Democratic primary dialogue about how to create jobs and what the role of the private sector is in creating jobs? You listen in vain. There's no discussion of that. And that's the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren effect on the field, but you wonder whether that's really resonating with the moderates in the party--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
GERALD SEIB: --because they would like to hear some conversation about job creation and good wages and they're not hearing it.
SUSAN PAGE: And, of course, the person talking about that is Mike Bloomberg, who's not even competing--
GERALD SEIB: Yeah.
SUSAN PAGE: --in Iowa and who I think maybe-- maybe somebody we're not talking about enough in terms of the possibility he could emerge as a contender.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Well, thanks to all of you.
We will be right back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There is a lot of news on the Supreme Court beat this week, so who better to bring in for some analysis than our own chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford. Jan, it's good to have you here. You-- you know the court very well, and John Roberts, chief justice, we don't hear from him very often. He will now be at the center of the Senate impeachment trial. What do you-- I mean how is he going to the shape this?
JAN CRAWFORD (CBS News Chief Legal Correspondent/@JanCBS): Well, that's the-- the thing. I mean we may not hear very much from him at all during this trial, because his role in this trial is completely different than what you think of as the role of a judge. And in a sense he doesn't really have a lot of power. The Senate sets the rules. So they have the first word. And they can overturn any of his rulings by a majority vote. So they have the last word. So John Roberts is going to be in this really kind of weird position where he may rule on some related matters or issues, but then the Senate could overrule him if it disagrees. He has been talking about it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And now he's stepping into one of the most politically heated partisan environment, staying above that--
JAN CRAWFORD: Exactly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --is going to be tough.
JAN CRAWFORD: It will be very tough. And that's why a lot of people said this is a nightmare for the chief justice, but it's also an opportunity, because it's an opportunity to-- for him to show in this hyper partisan environment of the Senate that he is above politics, that he is neutral, that he is not taking one side or the other. So he's going to go there as the face of the Supreme Court and potentially see that as an opportunity to remind the American people that judges are above politics. That is his opportunity and that is also his challenge.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm going to ask you about something else that seemingly was historic this week. Both Houses of the Virginia legislature voted for-- to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
JAN CRAWFORD: Mm-Hm.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Now, a lot of people would say, wait, isn't that already law that you have to treat men and women equally? But actually this proposal was never amended to the Constitution. You need thirty-eight states, three-fourths of the country to actually go ahead and do it. Why has that benchmark, why has this country never reached it and gone ahead and amended this in the Constitution?
JAN CRAWFORD: Well, so I mean that's the great question, right? Because on the surface it seems, you know, really straightforward. Of course, women should be treated equally in the workplace. Of course, women should get the same kind of equal access that men would. And that was the way it was viewed in 1972 when Congress with the broad support, bipartisan supermajority of two-thirds approved that resolution and sent it to the states to ratify. Three-fourths of the states needed to ratify at thirty-eight states. And it gave the states a deadline of seven years to do so. Everyone thought it's going to happen. Thirty states passed it within the first year. Five more got on board pretty soon after that. And then it ground to a halt. And the reason is conservatives started kind of taking issue with certain things, including the issue of abortion. The Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade in 1973 that women had a constitutional right to abortion, and then it occurred to certain ad-- activists that this ERA could further enshrine abortion rights in the Constitution. So it became controversial. And there were other issues that--that activists pointed out on the right that would raise concerns potentially for women.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you said something important there, a seven-year deadline. So this means it's expired.
JAN CRAWFORD: Congress--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is this just symbolic?
JAN CRAWFORD: Potentially, yes. After this expired in 1979, Congress tried to extend it to 1982 just to give the states more time, and no states jumped at it. So it got stuck at thirty-five. Virginia now ostensibly would be the thirty-eighth state because we've had two other states recently also approve it. In the House later this month is going to take up a resolution to take out that deadline from the original amendment. But that's entirely questionable whether that's constitutional.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
JAN CRAWFORD: Congress passed that in 1972 with two-thirds vote. And now to say that they're going to change it with the simple majority, the courts I think it's-- it's pretty suspect. And they're going to have a huge legal battle on that, that potentially going back to John Roberts could make its way to the Supreme Court.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And on to your desk. Jan Crawford, thank you very much.
We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.