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Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on January 27, 2019

1/27: Face the Nation
1/27: Mulvaney, Collins, Manchin 47:04

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

  • Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney (read more)
  • Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine (read more)
  • Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. (read more)
  • Ramesh Ponnuru, Molly Ball, David Sanger, Shawna Thomas (watch)
  • Mayor Michael Passero and Mayor Dee Margo (watch)

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

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, January 27th. I'm Margaret Brennan and this is FACE THE NATION.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: My fellow Americans, I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But after the record thirty-five-day partial shutdown, President Trump's announcement was only partially good news. With just a three-week funding extension, the President's fight for his wall is far from over.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: If we don't get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15th again, or I will use the powers afforded to me to address this emergency.

MARGARET BRENNAN: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may have won this first round. Can she hold firm on the next?

NANCY PELOSI: I have been very clear on the wall.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll talk with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Plus, we'll hear from two moderate senators, Maine Republican Susan Collins and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, on the prospects for border funding deal. And more fallout from the Mueller investigation as Trump associate Roger Stone is indicted. Charges against him outline incriminating details on how much Trump campaign officials knew about WikiLeaks' efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton.

We'll have plenty of analysis on all the news and look at the shutdown's economic impact in two key cities.

It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We begin today with the President's acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. He joins us this morning from Charlotte, North Carolina. Welcome to FACE THE NATION.

MICK MULVANEY (Acting White House Chief of Staff/@MickMulvaneyOMB): Margaret, good morning. Thank you for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is the President really prepared to shut down the government again in three weeks?

MICK MULVANEY: Yeah. I think he actually is. Keep in mind he's willing to do whatever it takes to secure the border. He does take this very seriously. This is a serious humanitarian and security crisis. And as President of the United States he takes the security of the nation as his highest priority. He doesn't want to shut the government down. Let's make that very clear. He doesn't want to declare a national emergency. What he wants to do is fix this the way that things are supposed to get fixed with our government which is through legislation. One of the reasons he-- he agreed to open the government this week was to essentially take the Democrats at their word while their leadership have been telling us they were not interested in negotiating and they were sort of taking this do nothing and hope the President gives up approach. There were many, many Democrats, both rank and file and some lower levels of leadership, would come to us and say, look, we-- we happen to agree with you on border security--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Which Democrats?

MICK MULVANEY: --some of them were even very public about it. Well, Dick Durbin publicly said that we'll have some walls in the future. Jim Clyburn, my former colleague from South Carolina, actually said that if you could convince him that the experts said we needed a border barrier he would vote for that. So there's many, many Democrats, dozens of them have come out over the last couple of weeks to say, you know what, this crisis is real. Let's figure out a way to do it properly but we can't do it with the government closed. I think with what you saw this week was the President take them at their word and say, okay, y'all have said you want to do this, I'll-- let's give it a shot and see over the next three weeks we can do this the right way and pass legislation to fund the government and secure the border.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I think there's some difference of opinion as to what constitutes a wall versus a barrier versus language in the past on fencing that may be what you're gesturing to there--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --with those Democrats. But-- but--

MICK MULVANEY: You make a great point-- well, you make a great point because that's really what a lot of this is. And that's silly. The President has already showed everybody what he wants to build. The exact example. It's not concrete. It's not two thousand miles long and we've got Democrats with hair on fire saying they'll never vote for a wall. But they voted for money to build that exact wall. In fact, something very similar is being built today.


MICK MULVANEY: They just voted for another two hundred and twenty odd million dollars for that same-- same thing two days ago. So we need to get beyond this fight about what's the wall and what's the fence and agree that some type of barrier on the border is necessary.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But why does the President think the outcome will be different in twenty-one days? I mean, Democrats remained largely unified. It was Republicans in the Senate who broke ranks.

MICK MULVANEY: Be-- because so many of us, and as I've mentioned before, so many of them had come to us and say, you know what, we think you might be right on this barrier thing but we-- we just cannot negotiate with you during a shutdown.


MICK MULVANEY: We don't like the fact that a President might use a shutdown as a negotiating tool so if you open the government up, we'll negotiate with you on good faith-- in good faith on a border barrier. Now's their chance to do that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When will federal employees receive their pay for the work, the back pay, and what about all of those contractors who don't necessarily have job guarantees? Are they going to be made full?

MICK MULVANEY: The contractors will depend on the contract. And let's talk about the employees for a second because I know a little bit more about that. There's a couple different payroll providers in the federal government and how an employee gets paid or which payroll provider-- provider covers their agency will dictate how long it takes. Some of them could be early this week. Some of them may be later this week, but we hope that by the end of this week all of the back pay will be-- will be made up and, of course, the next payroll will go out on time.

MARGARET BRENNAN: S&P, the ratings agency, says that this cost around six billion dollars. It was a drain on the U.S. economy. Looking at the numbers, you actually think this thirty-five-day shutdown was worth it? I mean what did you accomplish? You don't have money for the wall, you don't have a down payment for the wall, and you say it's an emergency but now we're waiting three more weeks before the President comes to a decision on how he is going to deal with it.

MICK MULVANEY: Yeah. Is it worth it for the President to secure the nation? Keep in mind, he is not making this up. There really is a humanitarian crisis on the border. There really is a security crisis on the border. I know that some people want to stick their head in the sand and say that's not the case, but we have data that there are actually hundreds of known criminals in the next caravan that is coming up through Mexico today. These are not made up numbers. So if you're the President of the United States and you know that you have to defend the nation, do you want to shut the government down? No. Do you want to declare a national emergency? No. But you do need and want to-- to defend the nation and he is going to do that. I disagree with it, with the concept that we don't have anything that we didn't have thirty-five days ago. Now, we have a bunch of-- of Democrats saying they are willing to work with us. Thirty-five days ago, all we had was Nancy Pelosi saying that under no circumstances would she ever give us any money at all for a wall. That's clearly changed. So I think things are moving in the right direction. The negotiations are far from over. Everybody wants to look at this and say the President lost. We're still in the middle of these negotiations. He just agreed to open the government while that was going on. So the President takes this deadly seriously. It's his number one priority to secure the nation and he will do everything he can to do exactly that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The President was tweeting this morning and said that there are twenty-six million illegal immigrants in the United States right now. Not the eleven million that the U.S. government has previously relied upon as the accurate figure. Well, where did this number come from and are you saying that government census data is just missed millions and millions of people over the past few years?

MICK MULVANEY: Keep in mind I think you and I have used the eleven million before in previous interviews. I-- I think that number was-- was accurate a couple of years ago and we know that it's going up because we know, for example, that-- that sixty thousand new illegals are coming across each month for the last three months. Again, a number that is not made up. That is a real number. So we know the number has to be larger than eleven million. I've seen ranges are high-- as high I think of thirty or forty million. I'm not exactly sure where the President got that number this morning. But I think what you see him trying to do is point out how-- how silly this debate is. This is not that much money in the greater scheme of things the United States of America. In fact, it's only enough money to build about two hundred and forty miles of wall--


MICK MULVANEY: --the very highest priority that Customs and Border Patrol has told us they need in order to secure the border, most of it in Texas. So I think he was trying to draw attention to the fact that while the Democrats are sitting here dug in just because they're apparently incapable of working with the President, incapable of giving the President any type of victory at all, that we're spending so much money in other things. It's-- it's really quite absurd. This should have been resolved a long time ago. And we do hope it gets resolved in the next twenty-one days.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you quickly about the President's friend, Roger Stone, who was indicted this week. Have you spoken to the President about this?

MICK MULVANEY: No. In fact, I've never met Roger Stone. Keep in mind, all the stuff you see happening with Roger Stone doesn't have anything to do with the White House, doesn't have anything to do with the President, and certainly doesn't have anything to do with the staff at the White House, which is what I manage.


MICK MULVANEY: So I am entirely out of the loop on that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So because you manage the staff can you say that none of the Trump campaign officials named in this indictment currently work at the White House?

MICK MULVANEY: Again, you're talking to someone who has nothing to do with the campaign so I honestly do not know how to answer your question.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you-- you don't know the answer to the question.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Do-- do you think it's a problem to lie to Congress? That's one of the things that Roger Stone is charged with.

MICK MULVANEY: Do I think it's a problem to lie to Congress? Margaret, that's one of the easiest questions you have ever asked me. Yes, I think it's bad to lie to Congress

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because the President's tweet seemed to minimize that when he was tweeting about Roger Stone being indicted for lying to Congress. He kind of--

MICK MULVANEY: No, what I think he was trying to draw attention to, and I've-- Republicans have talked about this for many years. I was actually in Congress a couple of years ago when James Clapper flat-out lied to Congress and then admitted it and nothing happened to him. In fact, he is still featured on many networks--maybe even your own--as an expert on-- on dealing with Congress and an expert on-- on various things having to do with his area of expertise. That's just absurd. It's no more right for him to do it than it is for anybody else. I think that's what the President is drawing attention to is the double standard that somehow that the Trump administration is held to a higher standard than the previous administrations. He thinks that's wrong and I hope that you would agree that's wrong, as well. Every-- every administration should be held to the exact same standard.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Thank you very much, Mick Mulvaney, for joining us this morning.

MICK MULVANEY: Thanks, Margaret.

We turn now to Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins. Senator, this twenty-four-page indictment from the special counsel lays out written communication between Roger Stone and senior Trump campaign officials. They seem to be coordinating the timing and the release of information from WikiLeaks which had those hacked e-mails obtained by Russia. What does this pattern tell you?

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R-Maine/@SenatorCollins): Well, I really don't think we can draw conclusions until the special counsel has finished his work. But what this indictment and many others have shown us is the importance of the special counsel being allowed to conclude its investigation unimpeded.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Becau-- Roger Stone and others have dismissed this as, these are processed charges. But what's in the indictment lays out this connection with Russian intelligence giving information to WikiLeaks. Mike Pompeo when he was CIA director called WikiLeaks a hostile intelligence service abetted by Russia. Do you think working with WikiLeaks should be considered a crime?

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS: Well, you have to know the circumstances of it. But I have great faith in Mister Mueller's ability to pursue a fair and thorough investigation. He has not yet reached conclusions, but there is a disturbing pattern of lying to Congress that we're seeing in these indictments and no one should be allowed to do that with impunity. So, I'm very pleased that the special counsel is pursuing indictments where he believes individuals have lied to Congress.

MARGARET BRENNAN: One of those individuals, Michael Cohen, another former Trump adviser also facing some jail time accused of lying to Congress. And he admitted to it-- lying to your committee. He is being subpoenaed to testify. What is it that you need to hear from him and when?

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS: Well, we need to hear from him as soon as possible. But we need to ask him all the questions that he answered previously because we now know that he was not truthful. And in this case he's been convicted of lying to Congress. So we invited him in to testify and when a subpoena became necessary, it has been issued.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to get to the shutdown. There's no immigration deal, yet. There's no border wall, no partial funding either. And there's a six-billion-dollar price tag according to S&P, to the shutdown. What was actually accomplished?

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS: Well, I would say absolutely nothing. Shutdowns are never good policy, ever. They are never to be used as a means to achieve any kind of goal no matter how important that goal may seem to be. They are ineffective; they cause tremendous harm to innocent federal employees and their families who are struggling to pay their bills without paychecks. They hurt those who depend on government services. We've seen the impact on air transportation just this past week. On small businesses that have contracts with federal agencies, and ultimately they damage the economy. And that's why prior to the shutdown, at a meeting with the White House, I conveyed to the President my belief that he should not pursue this route.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Was the White House and Congress too slow to realize the kind of pain and impact you're talking about? Your colleague Lisa Murkowski said you know she was kind of stunned by this. That elected members didn't feel the impact until they were delayed going through security at airports.

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS: Well, it didn't come as a surprise to me. Back in 2013 when we had a sixteen-day-long shutdown, I led a bipartisan group that produced a plan to reopen government. I heard from Mainers who worked from federal agencies who told me of their personal hardships and it was heartbreaking to hear that. So I don't know how any member of the administration, or of Congress, could think that a shutdown was a worthy pursuit. It never is.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Director Mulvaney said that-- Chief of Staff Mulvaney now said that there's opportunity created here. That's what was won. What-- what's the best thing you can get in the next twenty-one days?

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS: The best agreement that we can get is an agreement on border security but an agreement to fund federal government through the end of the fiscal year which is September 30th. No more short term, stopgap funding measures and we cannot have the threat of a government shutdown hanging over our people and our economy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mulvaney says it's there.

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS: I know. And I hope he will join us and expect that he will, in working very hard during this next twenty-one days to prevent us from being back in the same situation--



MARGARET BRENNAN: A wall ultimately gets funded through this?

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS: I think what will happen is that the efforts to continue to build physical barriers, which have gone on in the last two administrations will continue but not to the degree that the President has requested. What we should do is ask the experts, the nonpartisan experts at Customs and Border Patrol what are their biggest problems. It's going to be a combination of physical barriers, technology, more border patrol agents, more immigration judges, more sensors. It's got to be an all of the above approach.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about a private matter that became public this week with your colleague Senator Joni Ernst. She revealed she had been the victim of rape in college and it became public that she was-- she had suffered abuse at the hands of her now ex-husband. I think many people see a lot of resilience in her. Why aren't we hearing more from the party in terms of support for her?

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS: Well, I reached out to Joni just as soon as I read the devastating news. And I will tell you that colleagues during our lunches came up to her, people on the floor. She is a strong and remarkable woman and what she has endured has been just horrible. And I know that my heart goes out to her and I believe that's the case of everybody, Democrat or Republican.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, thank you for your time.

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS: Thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Up next, a central figure in the shutdown debate, West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. He'll be with us in one minute.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back now with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. He's a moderate Democrat that has called for compromise during the shutdown. Compromise, not a word acted upon much these days, Senator.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN (D-West Virginia/@Sen_JoeManchin): Not used much either.

MARGARET BRENNAN: No. But-- but the President says there's a really good chance that you could see a deal before mid-February. What can you actually get done in the next few--

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Well, I-- I-- I am very hopeful. I've always been very hopeful in reaching out. First of all we're going to have to bring-- I think that Susan, my dear friend Susan Collins, had said that you need to bring in professionals. There's a lack of trust and a lack of belief on both sides. No one believes that basically these figures are correct, or this or that's going to happen, or do we really need all 5.7 billion being spent on a secured-- some kind of a secured structure. On the other hand, you know, we know that a lot of our drugs and-- and things that come across that do harm to our country are coming through points of entry and that's going to be technology sensors things of that sort. I think they can find a balance if you bring an outside special group in unbiased, nonpartisan.


SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Well, basically professionals. Engineers.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The-- the secretary of homeland security has been talking to Congress.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Well, the secretary of homeland security by Democrats are believing that she's going to basically say what the White House wants her to say. So if you want to get past that trust or belief then you have to bring in an outside observer who has the professional ability to say yes, that is needed. Yes, this is going to be. People forget in 2013 we did a major immigration overhaul bill. We-- we voted for-- every Democrat voted for forty-four billion dollars of border security. And we still believe border security is necessary. But there's a combination of not just--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So-- so how do you get language that actually Democrats will sign off on? Because you hear from the administration that, as-- as you were mentioning here, that time and again Democrats have voted for barriers and fencing. How do you get what the President wants?

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: We-- we voted for that and offered that. But it takes more than that. As far as you look at immigration problem. You have people that came to the country the wrong way for the right reason. They brought children in here that have been here and been productive, They're educated. They're in our military. They're in so many facets of our economy and doing a great job. Don't they deserve an opportunity for a path to be a citizen of this great country? If the President or his hard right-wing would look at that in a little bit more compassionate way, I think it would break down the problems that we have no the barriers.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A path to citizenship in the next three weeks?

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Well, that would be for Dreamers and DACA--that was he offered the DACA the three years. We're saying, can't those people deserve-- ten years that's a long pathway.


SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: A ten-year pathway that would really help an awful lot in order moving forward. Right now we're just caught in between and betwixt. The only way you're ever going to stop this, Margaret, from ever happening again-- if-- if one thing comes out the three weeks--


SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: --of this three-week negotiating. We have a piece of legislation says we'll never shut down again. And you know how you're going to do that? If we basically ever inflict this pain on ourselves again.


SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: They don't get paid. The day the legislators do not get paid. I guarantee you there will not be a shutdown. People in-- in Washington didn't feel the pain. It was the people outside of Washington, all the federal workers and all the millions of people depending on their services.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The President called you wonderful because you were, I think, the only Democrat who signed on to--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --a bill that actually went nowhere but included the 5.7 for his border wall.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you vote for a border wall as he describes it again?

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Well, I have voted for, and I will continue to vote for, a structure that's in a whole-- holistic approach not just by itself. You know when you talk about twenty-one hundred miles of border you're not talking about twenty-one hundred miles of walls, fencing, or anything else.


SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: You're talking about smart--they've talked about smart technology. More agents that we need, more sensors at our points of entry, all of these things. But also there is a pathway forward. The people that are here for the right reason-- if you want to get rid of the people that came, created harm and the wrong reason, you got to be able to keep them out when you send them out. So, an immigration reform has to be part of it. Just putting money towards a structure is not going to do the job that needs to be done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What-- what you're trying to be reasonable here, but as you've heard--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --there are threats overhanging this in the next three weeks. I mean the chief of staff said the President would be willing to shut down the government again. He also said he doesn't really want to but he could declare a national emergency. If-- if he goes that route of declaring a national emergency does that ultimately backfire or does that get this done?

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Here's the thing, we had six-- here's what people seemed to fail to understand. We went through the process of going through appropriations. I'm on Appropriations Committee. There's twelve appropriations as far as different issues that we work on and the funding. We passed five of them. There were seven left. The one in contention was basically homeland security. We met the request of 1.6 billion dollars.


SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: That changed when it went to the House to five billion and came back. So they were going to put basically a thirty-day CR on that one and let the other six pass. That would've kept ninety percent of government open.


SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: That's what should have been done and I think-- I've never seen people held hostage this many millions of people on the economy of our United States being threatened because we have a disagreement on one issue.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You, until recently, served on the intelligence community-- committee.


MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you make of Roger Stone's indictment?

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Oh, I think that-- I mean we have all the confidence and faith in Bob Mueller. I think he's doing his job.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there a pattern emerging that you're seeing here?

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Well, I'm very much concerned. I would be very much concerned. People involved with that campaign and all the people that have said that they've lied and it's proven they lied to Congress. This is not going to be tolerated, cannot be tolerated and they should be prosecuted to the fullest amount that's allowed.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're on Armed Services.


MARGARET BRENNAN: There are fourteen thousand U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Secretary of State says there's really good progress in talks with the Taliban. Taliban says, the U.S. may withdraw troops within eighteen months. What do you make of that timeline?

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Well, the timeline-- I'm not sure about the timeline they're talking about but I think it's time to get out of Afghanistan. I always have. Now Syria's a complete different story. I don't think we should be leaving Syria--


SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: --because of so much at stake and all the players there. But in Afghanistan, I want to make sure we keep Bagram Air Force Base. I think that's a main point of-- for us to be in that part of the world. I hope that we stay there--


SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: --in that part but not at fourteen thousand strong. We can do our job and do it well but we have no more reason to be there than-- I think it is time to leave.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you, Senator.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN: Thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Next week FACE THE NATION is going to be on the road. We'll be broadcasting from Atlanta, Georgia, home of Super Bowl LIII. We'll still have news and analysis, but we'll also talk football before CBS Sports takes over to bring you the pregame and the Super Bowl itself.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Our panel is here with us. And we'll be talking to mayors from two cities hit hard by the shutdown. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. It is time for some political analysis. Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor at National Review and a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. Molly Ball is national political correspondent for TIME Magazine. David Sanger is a national security correspondent and senior writer for The New York Times. And Shawna Thomas is the Washington bureau chief for Vice News. Good to have you all here. You know, there is such a real impact economically of the shutdown on communities. We're going to talk about that. I don't want to minimize it. But we are going to talk about the political winners and-- and losers here, because in Washington ultimately that is what determines whose got the upper hand in a lot of this. Molly, the-- the impression is that Nancy Pelosi, the speaker, won this round. What did she actually win here?

MOLLY BALL (TIME Magazine): Well, she won on the substance. She got what she asked for basically at the beginning, which was to reopen the government and not to have any funding for the wall. I think she also won on the politics. We saw in public opinion polls that the approval ratings for-- for Donald Trump took a turn downwards. The approval ratings for Nancy Pelosi took a turn upwards. And you wouldn't necessarily have known that at the beginning, right? I think the White House gambled that-- that the Democrats would eventually feel that they had a political interest in not seeming to be stonewalling, but it really went the other way. The Democratic base and the Democratic caucus was very solidly in line with Speaker Pelosi's strategy and minority leader Schumer's strategy of not giving an inch really. And that was-- that turned out to be a miscalculation by the White House that the Democrats might eventually give in. And-- and the result I think politically is that the-- that the President was damaged, and the Democrats now are hoping that he won't want to go through that again, that he did on some level learn something from this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You head Mick Mulvaney, the Chief of Staff though once again say they see splits among Democrats. You're saying that's not real?

MOLLY BALL: I don't think it is. You did-- you have seen Democrats, as-- as he said, expressing some openness to some border funding, potentially even wall funding. What they haven't said is that they disapproved of the strategy of the Democratic leaders--


MOLLY BALL: --that they wouldn't have done it that way and they won't be behind that strategy again.

SHAWNA THOMAS (Vice News/@shawna): And one of our correspondents talked to the Virginia Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. We also looked at a couple of town halls. And these are moderates who flipped districts. They're new members of Congress. Where we thought we would start to hear a little bit of, well, I mean, maybe we should come to the table with President Trump, maybe we should do this, and there were these people who sent these letters to Nancy Pelosi, these moderate Dems saying, once the President reopens the government, we should have a conversation about the wall, but these people were not talking to us like people who were worried about losing Trump voters.


SHAWNA THOMAS: Nancy Pelosi kept them in line, and she kept moderates in line.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, is the table set, though, for Democrats to now come forward with some kind of proposal? It seems to be what the White House is saying that there is a moment of opportunity in these next three weeks.

SHAWNA THOMAS: I mean I think there is a moment of opportunity. They have set these conferees. I think it's interesting that the Senate conefrees, and none of them come from actual border states, but I think we will see and we'll see how these moderate Dems as well as some of these really liberal people deal with that now that they are actually doing something that resembles governing.

MOLLY BALL: But as Shawna mentioned, though, the most important thing is that the White House-- White House isn't part of this negotiation that-- that-- the-- the thing that the President signed-- set up this committee between leaders and Congress to work this out. So the hope, I think, among Democrats and Republicans is that if the White House stays out of this, they can work something out among themselves.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ramesh, you know, you hear the speculation, though, that in the next three weeks the President may revisit his decision not to declare an emergency or, you know, not to shut the government down again because he is going to get hit so hard by conservative commentators.

RAMESH PONNURU (National Review/@RameshPonnuru/Bloomberg Opinion): Well--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is he going to pay a cost?

RAMESH PONNURU: I think he is. I think-- look, everything he has done in this entire fight has been born of weakness and has begotten more weakness. He went to the shutdown in the first place because he was getting criticized by part of his base because he was getting criticized from Ann Coulter. So he picked this fight, and then he lost it. Is he going to be willing to sit through several weeks of coverage of how he's lost and how he's shown himself to be weak--


RAMESH PONNURU: --or is he going to want to-- is that going to motivate him to shut the government down again? I think that it would be a totally irrational decision that would not achieve his objectives. That doesn't mean he won't do it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: David, you know, you hear the President who campaigned on this idea of the forgotten man and women, the everyday people. And he's been a champion of them. But they are, in many ways, as Senator Manchin said, the people paying the cost, not the elected officials who still get their paycheck. Does this, you know, branding-wise hurt the President? Can he still say that he is the champion for these folks?

DAVID SANGER (The New York Times/@SangerNYT): You know, Margaret, I think it hurts him on two levels. The first is his Cabinet appeared to be completely tone-deaf when it came to the price it was being paid by ordinary federal workers. And the height of it coming when his commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, suggested that people go out and get payday loans basically because the government wasn't paying them. So what have they missed in this? First, the human cost, which I think has been documented pretty remarkably. Secondly, the government cost. We're now paying people, right, and so we have the pay them for work that wasn't done while forty, fifty percent of the government was shot. And, third, and I think-- perhaps the most important, was the strategic cost. It really revealed, apart from the President's sort of huge-- uselessness of the exercise, it revealed an inability by this administration to prioritize about what our true security threats. Think of what Mick Mulvaney said to you. He said, "The President takes seriously-- takes security at the nation-- of the nation as his highest priority." Well, on Tuesday, his intelligence chiefs are going to go out and do that annual exercise of laying out the security threats to-- to the country, right, in an unclassified briefing. If it's like the past five years, you know, cyber is number one, terrorism is number two, nuclear proliferation, rise of China, aggressiveness by Vladimir Putin, you get to border issues around page fourteen of last year's, and, yet, he has spoken very little about the others.


RAMESH PONNURU: There's also a point about political prioritization and the failure of the administration to make a strategic plan. I do think that the prominence of the border wall promise in Trump's 2016-- 2016 campaign means he really does have to show that he's made progress on it. He had a chance to do that. Last year when the senate Democrats offered him legalization of illegal immigrants who came here as minors in return for some progress on the wall, he threw that chance away because he overreached. He wanted too much. And it's not clear that he is going to get that chance again. I don't know if I am a congressional Democrat looking at these negotiations coming up, I'm going to say, "I need to give this President anything now that he's lost."

MARGARET BRENNAN: Molly, we are in the 2020 campaign season now. You know ignore the calendar that says 2019. And both sides, Democrats and Republicans, seem to like campaigning around the issue of immigration. Does this-- is there an incentive if you're ultimately cynical here? Is there an incentive not to solve it?

MOLLY BALL: I-- that's an interesting question. I mean this has been a persistent accusation, I think, by both sides is that it means more to politicians as a sort of live political issue that they can arguably demagogue than as something, that-- and use to get their voters out than as something that they actually want to do. I think that's not the primary thing standing in the way of broader immigration reform deal. I mean, it's been a decade and more that-- that a lot of politicians in both parties have been trying to forge a grand bargain on immigration and have failed to do so. And there's all kinds of obstacles to it that I don't think are just related to this particular political season. I do think, though, that the 2018 midterms were very eye-opening for both sides about the resonance of the immigration issue. You had Republicans wanting to make that election about the economy. The White House overruled them. The President was much more interested in the issue of the caravan, and in talking about immigration, and talking about the wall, and talking about crime. And the Republicans lost big, except in some of those rural state Senate races. And so I think what both parties took away from that. And the shutdown was the same way. You had a lot of opinion polls showing that people cared much more about kitchen table issues--


MOLLY BALL: --than about this idea of a dangerous caravan approaching the border. Even if that were true, even if people believed that was a serious problem that needed to be solved, they didn't think it was as important as their salary, their local economy, the things that affect them on an everyday level. And so I think that politicians on both sides are-- are seeing that lesson-- lesson.


SHAWNA THOMAS: But the question that I think we're all sort of dancing around is that if the Democrats have made this idea of a wall, or steel slats, or parts of a wall, or whatever I'm supposed to be saying now--


SHAWNA THOMAS: --in a moral issue and that it is immoral, how do they give in on some parts of that, and can they-- and can Nancy Pelosi kind of get herself out of that issue? Because I don't think the President of the United States is going to back down on having some parts of the wall funded.

DAVID SANGER: Manchin sort of pointed in that direction, I mean--


DAVID SANGER: --and-- and so did Susan Collins by saying, "It's part of something. It's the President himself, who needs to call of it a wall, as he's told his own aides."

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we-- we will take a break and talk about everything else that happened here in Washington in just a moment. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back now with more from our political panel. David, I-- I want to start with you here. You know, speaking of national security issues, a broader question of this probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Mueller investigation. I think people often get overwhelmed by the number of headlines that they see about it. How should we understand the indictment of Roger Stone this week?

DAVID SANGER: Well, first, there's just a stunning number of people around the campaign--some of whom moved in the White House, most of whom didn't--who have been indicted or have pled guilty. We ran a big graphic in the Times that showed basically over a hundred contacts between people in the campaign and Russians, which is a big change from what the White House was saying early in his time, which was that no one in the campaign dealt with anybody in Russia, period. The second big thing that came out of the Roger Stone indictment, though, was in one pregnant paragraph that was buried away in the indictment, written in the very passive tense in which Special Counsel Mueller said that a Trump campaign official asked-- contacted someone else in the campaign, didn't say who, to ask Mister Stone about any additional releases and damaging information that would come out from WikiLeaks. What does that tell you? They didn't name who these campaign officials were. Clearly, Mueller has in mind who they are or he wouldn't have put them there. And that is the closest they've gotten to describing something that they could charge was a conspiracy. And that, of course, is the charge that the President is most worried about along with obstruction of justice. What we don't know is did the President himself know about these requests to get information from WikiLeaks?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Will we find out who those senior campaign officials are? I know Roger Stone has said Steve Bannon is at least one of them.


MARGARET BRENNAN: But there are a lot of questions about who was directing him.

SHAWNA THOMAS: Is the second one. Or, I guess, more than the second one. I mean I was also struck by the fact that officials--it was plural term--campaign officials. Bannon has been identified through various-- like, when you start to connect the dot, you're like, "Oh, one is Steve Bannon-- Steve Bannon." But that is the question everyone else has, who are the other officials who were having some kind of conversations with Roger Stone to try to get WikiLeaks to do something?


SHAWNA THOMAS: I think the-- the thing that is clear, and-- and Susan Collins kind of said this to you, as well, is that here is one problem, and everyone who has talked to the House Intelligence Committee, everyone who has talked to the Senate Intelligence Committee is now thinking, maybe lying to Congress is a bad idea since Mueller is really using that and he's used it with Cohen, he's used it with Stone. That-- that is putting pressure on people. And if you are one of the other many people who has talked to the committee or probably going through your testimony and wondering if the FBI is going to knock on my door.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because of those numbers, Ramesh, it's harder and harder to say witch hunt.

RAMESH PONNURU: That's right. So the-- the-- the bar keeps changing, and the current line, as well, there's no proof of criminal collusion by Trump, by his campaign, and Russia, whereas previously it's like, you know, there was no cooperation at all, and-- and that line keeps shifting. One question that's-- I think raised by this, it's kind of interesting, is why is there no campaign finance charge against Roger Stone? Earlier phases of the scandal have seen speculation that, for example, Donald Trump Jr., might be vulnerable to a legal charge that he solicited politically useful information from Russia and is this illegal. So the question is are they holding that in reserve against him? Have they decided that that charge doesn't legally stand up, because there are First Amendment issues that come into play? But I got to imagine that Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyers are pouring over this pretty carefully.

SHAWNA THOMAS: Or is that so monumental that Mueller isn't going to do that until the very end?

RAMESH PONNURU: Well, that's right. They could be holding--

SHAWNA THOMAS: Charging the President's son, which-- I know we're all thinking that, but charging the President's son would be a really huge deal.

MOLLY BALL: And I think the other thing that's notable too is that Nancy Pelosi tweeted about Roger Stone, but she waited until right after the President had signed the deal to reopen the government. That was obviously done on purpose, and she took a very strong line, much stronger than I think she's taken in the past, taking the administration to task for all of this stuff. And I think that's really a sign of things to come as much as the shutdown battle was, right, in this battle between Trump and the newly empowered speaker, the Democratic speaker--


MOLLY BALL: --the shutdown was kind of a distraction from what we were all expecting the Democratic Congress to start doing, which is start using their power not just for subpoenas but to-- especially to hold public hearings and really try to put these pieces together for the public and get to the bottom of a lot of the same things that Mueller is investigating.

MARGARET BRENNAN: David, I-- I want to make sure we explain what's going on with the Trump administration's decision to pick a side in Venezuela.


MARGARET BRENNAN: People often say, if you pick a side, make sure that side wins. The interim president now, who the U.S. is putting its weight behind, how does this all get resolved? Does Maduro actually step down?

DAVID SANGER: Well, you know, we're right at the precipice right now where Maduro's only supporters are China, Russia, and Cuba. Not a great collection. The Europeans have indicated that if Maduro does not call for a true and fair election, because he fixed the last one, within eight days, they too will go with Juan Guaido, who is the interim president as declared by the parliament, the one the United States has backed. I think the interesting news here is there has been bipartisan support behind the President's decision to-- to support Juan Guaido. I think the-- the problem here is both history and inconsistency. Our history in Latin America of intervening is a pretty ugly one, and the inconsistency of not applying the same standards to places like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where the President has embraced--


DAVID SANGER: --strong men, I think may come back to make the United States look pretty hypocritical, not for the first time.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. And potentially some political cost in Florida.

RAMESH PONNURU: Well, that's right. The other interesting question though is, you know, the anti-interventionist base off this president in particular among Republicans, how do they react to this role that we are now playing in Venezuela. Elliott Abrams--


RAMESH PONNURU: --had been blackballed by the administration when he was going to be brought on as the number two in the State Department early in the administration. Now he's a special envoy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Interesting to watch. We'll be back in a moment to have a conversation with two mayors, both from cities very much affected by the government shutdown.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're joined now by two mayors whose cities were deeply affected by the thirty-five-day government shutdown. Democrat Mayor-- Democrat Mayor Michael Passero is from New London, Connecticut, home of the Coast Guard Academy, and Republican Dee Margo is from El Paso, Texas, on the U.S.-Mexico border. Both of us join-- both of them join us from their home states. Gentlemen, I'm sorry. I'm tongue tied here. But I have a question for the both of you. Let's start with Mayor Passero. How has this shutdown impacted your local economy, and do you expect it to snap back now that the shutdown is over?

MICHAEL PASSERO (Mayor of New London, Connecticut/@MEP41): Well, we're-- we're not standing at ease with just a three-week reprieve. So we are still going full force with our-- our mitigation efforts. And it has-- it has hit the community very, very hard. The-- the-- our connection with the Coast Guard is significant. We host the United States Coast Guard Academy, which is training the next generation of officers for-- for the Coast Guard. With over a thousand cadets there and-- and over six hundred employees, both civilian and-- and active duty. We also host the United States Coast Guard Research and Development. We-- we host the-- the International Ice Patrol, and Coast Guard Station New London patrols the waters of Long Island Sound serving the eastern end of New York, Rhode Island, and New London Harbor. So--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And none of them were paid?

MICHAEL PASSERO: No. Unfortunately, you look at the situation at the Coast Guard Academy, I wonder how they managed to do it, because all the maintenance employees, the secretaries have been furloughed and are not reporting to work. And the enlisted men and the professors are working without-- without pay. The active duty and the Coast Guard station are working without pay. These are-- are, you know, people who are serving the nation and have not been paid for over a month.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mayor-- Mayor Margo, you have a number of border enforcement agency-- agents, et cetera, people who work in security who were unpaid during all of this. What is the impact on your community?

DEE MARGO (Mayor of El Paso, Texas/@mayor_margo): We have about thirteen thousand plus federal and civilian employees. So, yeah, that was pretty significant with CBP and ICE. And then last Tuesday at our regular city council meeting, the-- the head of our food bank talked about the fact that they were-- they were not receiving the food they need for distribution. So it's-- it's had an impact on us for sure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have in your city, which is on the Mexico border, a barrier. The President shut down the government--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --because he wants one of those in other places in your state of Texas. Is a shutdown worth it?

DEE MARGO: Well, I was listening to your pundits a little bit earlier. I don't think there were any winners in this shutdown. So I don't know how you can talk about winners and losers. We-- we are, by way of description, we're the nexus of three states, New Mexico, Chihuahua, Mexico and Texas, two countries, the U.S. and Mexico, and a region of 2.5 million people. We have twenty-three thousand legal pedestrians who cross north every day, and on an annual basis over twenty-one million private passenger vehicles. We're the second largest port. The fence we have was put in in 2008 as a directive under the President George W. Bush when he was President. It works to stop criminal activity. My position is that a fence is a part of the-- the process, but-- but I'm still waiting to hear what Homeland Security wants as opposed to what the political leadership wants. What does Homeland Security need? Texas is a geography that's totally different from a lot of other states. We are the largest--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there a crisis?

DEE MARGO: Well, I'm not-- we're not-- El Paso is the safest city in the United States with a population above five hundred thousand. We're not having any of those issues. Now, I've got issues related to the migration coming north every day and the NGO that we have here overseeing that. In fact, I got-- I get numbers every day. This morning it's two hundred and ninety are going to be released. Yesterday we had two hundred and fifty. The day before four hundred and twenty. I'm concerned about that. But that's-- those are those seeking asylum.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mayor Passero, you described the presence of the Coast Guard in your town, and we should say that's the only branch of the military that remained unpaid during this shutdown. There is a bill proposing that they would continue to be paid in the event of a future shutdown. What-- what is your message? How needed is that kind of protection?

MICHAEL PASSERO: Oh, absolutely. I mean the-- the inequity of it, having-- having our Coast Guard military personnel unpaid while the other branches of the military are not affected by this is-- is patently unfair. And-- and it's unpatriotic. But the community has really stepped up. We-- we-- we also have Coast-- Sub Base New London here, and-- and also General Dynamics Electric Boats. So this is a very strong military community, and the military does take care of their own. So Mayor Margo mentions the food bank. We-- we are-- being the urban city, we have-- the United Way has a very strong established food bank in the city, but because of the-- the greater need now with all the personnel and families that have not been paid, the-- the-- the community is just providing food and donating food at an incredible rate, both replenishing our food bank. They-- we never thought we'd see the day, but on the grounds of the United States Coast Guard Academy. In Leamy Hall, they had to set up a pop-up food pantry, and the need is enormous. It's-- it's really disheartening that the secretary of commerce cannot seem to recognize that these are-- are working families that are living on the edge, and they cannot be left without pay for-- for over a month.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. Thank you both for joining us and telling us about that real-world impact.

We will be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you all for watching. Next week, we'll come to you live from the home of Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, Georgia. For FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan. 

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