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Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on July 21, 2019

7/21: Face The Nation
7/21: Mike Pence, Liz Cheney, Adam Schiff, Cory Booker 47:24

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

  • Vice President Mike Pence, CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Major Garrett (read more)
  • Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. (read more)
  • Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. (read more)
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. (read more)
  • CBS News Elections and Surveys Director Anthony Salvanto & CBS News Political Correspondent Ed O'Keefe (read more) (read more) (read more)
  • Panelists: Rachael Bade, Lanhee Chen, Jamelle Bouie, Paula Reid ()

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

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, July 21st. I'm Margaret Brennan and this is FACE THE NATION.

As two hundred million Americans try to beat record heat this weekend emotions maybe hottest in Washington. As the feud between President Trump and the four Democrats known as The Squad gets even more divisive.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They call the people of our country and our country garbage. We're dealing with people that hate our country.

ILHAN OMAR: We are going to continue to be a nightmare to this President because his policies are a nightmare to us.

WOMAN: That's right.

ILHAN OMAR: We are not deterred.

CROWD (in unison): Send her back.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the President's racist tweets have mobilized both sides. And Mister Trump's refusal to condemn racism chants among supporters caused concern even among Republicans.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Those are incredible people. Those are incredible patriots. But I'm unhappy when a congresswoman goes and says I'm going to be the President's nightmare. She's lucky to be where she is. Let me tell you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How and will the two parties make an effort to cool things down. Our Major Garrett sat down with Vice President Mike Pence.

MIKE PENCE: I think that millions of Americans share-- share the President's frustration about sitting members of Congress engaging in that kind of reckless rhetoric. The President thought it was important to stand up to them. And-- and I'm glad he did it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll also talk with Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, a key member of the House leadership. Plus, 2020 Democratic contender Cory Booker weighs in. And we have a new CBS News Battleground Tracker poll that shows the shifts in the field of twenty-five. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff will join us to preview Bob Mueller's testimony to Congress this week.

All that, and analysis on all the news is just ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. President Trump is doubling down on his attacks against four Democratic members of Congress known as The Squad tweeting this morning that he does not believe, quote, "they are capable of loving our country." In an interview at Cape Canaveral yesterday, CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett asked Vice President Pence about those "Send her back" chants from the President's supporters.

(Begin VT)

MAJOR GARRETT: Were those chants appropriate?

CROWD (in unison): Send her back. Send her back.

MAJOR GARRETT: If you're unhappy with them, do you want to see them repeated? Is this part and parcel of the 2020 echo of the Trump campaign?


MAJOR GARRETT: It seems a simple question.

MIKE PENCE: Well, no, Major. The President wasn't pleased about it. Neither was I. And the President's been very clear about that. But we're also not pleased about is the fact that there are four members of Congress who are engaging in the most outrageous statements.

MAJOR GARRETT: Yes, but you know that this President's relationship with his supporters is as close as--


MAJOR GARRETT: --anyone has ever had in American politics. This could all go away with one simple word or a phrase or something. You have a chance to say it right now.


MAJOR GARRETT: Don't do it again--


MAJOR GARRETT: --is that your message?

MIKE PENCE: Major, the President was very clear.


MIKE PENCE: That he wasn't happy about it. And that if it happened again he-- he might-- he might-- he'd make an effort to speak out about it.

MAJOR GARRETT: He will make an effort to speak out about it.

MIKE PENCE: That's what he's already said.


MIKE PENCE: And I think that millions of Americans share-- share the President's frustration about sitting members of Congress engaging in that kind of reckless rhetoric, whether it be anti-Semitic rhetoric, whether it be referring to Border Patrol agents as running concentration camps and the President thought it was important to stand up to them. And-- and I'm glad he did it.

MAJOR GARRETT: Can you be patriotic and oppose the President's reelection?

MIKE PENCE: Of course. But what these members of Congress have been doing--

MAJOR GARRETT: Those are-- that's unpatriotic.

MIKE PENCE: --referring to our country as garbage--

MAJOR GARRETT: That's unpatriotic.

MIKE PENCE: --is-- it's unacceptable.

MAJOR GARRETT: It's unpatriotic.

MIKE PENCE: And President Trump is going to continue to stand up for America and call out that kind of rhetoric by those members. And it's time that Democratic leadership in Congress did the same.

MAJOR GARRETT: But even as they say that they can stay.

MIKE PENCE: Of course, they can stay.


MIKE PENCE: They're American citizens.


MIKE PENCE: But they-- they're speaking their mind. And this President has-- I think the President has spoken for millions of Americans who cherish our law enforcement community, who cherish support for Israel, who reject anti-Semitism. And every American on the left, right, center, Republican, Democrat, independent who in their heart of hearts would never say the kinds of things about this country, that these members of Congress are saying on a regular basis.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Major's full interview with the vice president will be available Tuesday on the Takeout podcast. Joining us now is the number three Republican in the House Wyoming's Liz Cheney. Good morning to you.

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyoming/@Liz_Cheney/GOP Conference Chairwoman): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You heard the vice president say, "next time the President might say something." Why doesn't the President as a matter of principle say unequivocally that non-white Americans are just as American as anyone else? Why doesn't he put this to rest?

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: Well, I think you've heard him say that the chant was inappropriate. We've all said the chant was inappropriate. I think the news media--

MARGARET BRENNAN: No, he said they were patriotic--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --very patriotic.

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: I think the news media really wants to make this about race. You just did it. This isn't about race. It's not about gender. It's not about religion. These members of the House of Representatives more, it's not just these four, it's also some of the candidates who are running for President on the Democratic side--


REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: --fundamentally believe in policies that are dangerous for this nation. And as Republicans, we are going to fight against those even if the mainstream media accuses us of racism when we do that. This is about their support for--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is "send her back"--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --patriotic?

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: It is absolutely wrong; it should not have happened. And we've all said it shouldn't have happened. I would really like to see the media as focused.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And when the President says, "go back"--

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: I would like to see the media as focused on the substance of what this wing of the Democratic Party is advocating because that is really dangerous for our country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You understand--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --the President--

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: --dangerous for our country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --tweeted about this this morning--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --right before we went to air.


MARGARET BRENNAN: So the President is--

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: It is-- it is fundament--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --continuing this conversation.

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: The President, this morning before we came on air, talked about the extent to which you know they love this nation. And I think that if you go back and you look at many of the things they have said. You saw the vice president say some of that this morning as well, talking about the nation as garbage, for example. But-- but--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But those are policies.

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: --I would-- I would, you know, again reiterate this election and these issues that we're talking about are fundamental to the future of this country. When you have members of Congress who are as anti-Semitic as-- as Ilhan Omar has been, when you have members of Congress who are advocating the, you know, complete elimination of the use of all fossil fuels, all air travel, the elimination of private insurance, the imposition of socialism on this country, we're not going to stand for that. We're not going to stand for policies that take freedom away from the--


REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: --American people. That's what this fight is about.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, what you're talking about there are policy differences.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's not what the President was tweeting about this morning.

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: Listen, I think it's fundamentally--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And when he said, "I don't believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our country." I know you disagree with their policies and their politics, you just made that clear. But there have been death threats against Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.


MARGARET BRENNAN: In April, there was an arrest--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --because someone called--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --her office and said--

REP CHENEY: --there is no question--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --asked if she--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and said he--

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: --there are a lot of secure--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --would put a bullet in--

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: Are you going to let me answer your question?

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm-- I'm asking the question--

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: I-- I-- I got the question.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --a bullet in her skull.

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: There are-- there are-- fundamentally, this is-- this is a moment where we have to be very clear, and-- and it's really important for us to focus on-- and-- and I know you guys don't want to, you don't want to focus on the fact that there are substantive differences, you also don't want to focus on it.


REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: Wait, let me-- I let you ask me the question. This is about policy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But that's not what the President is talking about. He's not talking about policy.

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: And it is-- this is-- that is not true. The President every single day talks about policy. Every single day--

MARGARET BRENNAN: "Are they capable of loving our country"--

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: Every single day, this President talks about the tremendous economic growth that we have seen since he's been in office, the tremendous job growth, the tremendous--

MARGARET BRENNAN: "Capable of loving--

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: decline in unemployment--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --our country" has nothing to do--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --with jobs.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you disagree with that sentiment?

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: --my point. You are making my point for me right now. We are focused on--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you agreeing with the President or disagreeing with him? Because I'm not clear.

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: The President has absolutely said that they should not have chanted "Send her back." Our concern and our opposition to what these women are saying, and many other members of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives, has to do with the fact that they are advocating policies that will destroy this nation and we will fight against it. And I think the news media, you included, ought to cover the substance. And I think it is outrageous for you to say the President doesn't talk about substance. Every single day, you can look at the evidence, you can look at the fact that this nation is stronger than-- than it has probably ever been. You can look at what the President's policies have done on economic growth.


REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: But you don't want to talk about that. So I do think that it would behoove you--

MARGARET BRENNAN: We would love to talk about that, and the President has talked to us about that.

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: You have every opportunity, every single day, you have an opportunity--

MARGARET BRENNAN: The President this morning tweeted that they don't love their country.

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: You've made that point, Margaret, yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The rest of the world is also watching this, though.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Canada's prime minister said the comments made were "hurtful, wrong, completely unacceptable." Germany's chancellor said these sentiments are in opposition to her impressions about the U.S. and she expressed solidarity in her words "with the attacked women." The prime minister of the U.K. issued a statement condemning this, of New Zealand. These aren't members of the media, these are world leaders. Should Americans find the comments from the President acceptable?

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: Margaret, listen, I know you want to continue to talk about this as though it had to do with race. I know you want to continue to talk about it, as though it had--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You think all those world leaders--

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: Margaret, I just let you-- I just let you--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --misunderstood everything?

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: Look, I don't think the American people are going to look to foreign leaders to tell us who should lead the nation. They are not going to look to foreign leaders to tell us whether or not we should be a socialist country. Thank goodness, we won't do that. We depend upon those people who are elected. And I think that when you see the-- the Democratic members of Congress standing up and saying that they want to, you know, that-- that we have--


REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: --concentration camps on our borders, that they want to provide free health care for illegal immigrants, that they want to--


REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: --end private health insurance, that they want to impose socialism on this country, they need to defend those policy positions and we are going to take every opportunity to make sure the American people, who are the ones that are going to make this choice--


REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: --come November 2020, recognize the fundamental choice that we're all facing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to get to you on Iran but I just do want to point out that there are two black elected Republicans who said that this was racially insensitive.

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: Margaret, we have many views--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And another Republican Mark Walker--


MARAGRET BRENNAN: --said it was painful. So--

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: Margaret, we have all said that--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --that's not the media



REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: Listen, you just continue to sort of put these little points out there and then move on. And every time you do it you are making the point I am making. As Republicans we are focused on substance. We are focused on policy and we will continue to do that no matter what the mainstream media attempts to do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Unfortunately, now we don't have time to talk about Iran, but thank you very much--

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: Well you should have asked about Iran sooner because that's a policy issue.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I would love to if the President tweets about it--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --we certainly will cause I know you--

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: He has tweeted about Iran.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --have raised questions about it.

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY: Actually he's tweeted about Iran quite a bit. Be good to cover all the President's tweets.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I would love to.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you very much--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --but we have to go now to the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, who has been standing by. He joins us from Burbank this morning. Congressman, thank you for getting up early. You just heard Congresswoman Cheney there. When it comes to the issues that she says are about policy, not about race, not about politics, is that how you hear the comments-- comments from the President this morning?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (D-California/@RepAdamSchiff/Intelligence Committee Chairman): No, absolutely not. I think, you know, tragically, the President has decided that racism is good politics. Racism is a good political strategy. There's a reason why he keeps returning to attacking these women of color and the rhetoric that he uses. The-- the crowd's ugly, racist chant didn't materialize-- materialize out of nothing. It came from the President's own tweet and words and incendiary rhetoric. This, of course, wasn't a one-off either. This was the same President who said they were good people on both sides of a neo-Nazi rally. This is who he is and he thinks it's a winning political strategy. And God help us if it is. I think it's a very-- it's a losing strategy. And I think we're going to see next year what a colossal losing strategy it is. And we're going to push back every time he engages in this kind of race-baiting racist rhetoric.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do Democrats need to push back more within their own party, though? As the President has said, there are members of it, four of them in particular who he is focusing on, whose language he has characterized as reckless, as anti-Semitic, he has said. Do Democrats need to do more to be more careful about their own language?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: I don't think there's really any equivalence here. We're not, you know, inciting crowds to chant, "Send them back." This is coming from the President. And, yes, we have a big and diverse caucus and the political views of our caucus are is reflective of the country as they are of our caucus. But that is not in any way equivalent to the kind of racist rhetoric coming out of the White House. So, look, I fully expect our members are going to be very aggressive out there. We have strong disagreements with this President--


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: --but we're focused on those disagreements when it comes to providing good paying jobs to people, issues like minimum wage, like trying to save access to health care while he wants to demonize four women of color and engage in this kind of bile. And, you know, it was such a tragedy last week, when we're celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of one of the greatest achievements in American history, in-- in the history, frankly, of humankind, the landing on the Moon--


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: --that we see one of the most tawdry moments in our history.


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: The President engaging in this kind of behavior.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you-- because you this week will have a chance to ask questions of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, when he appears and answers questions about that four-hundred-page report he turned in. He's already said he's not going to go beyond those four-hundred-something pages. What is the purpose? What do you actually think you are going to learn?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, since most Americans, you know, in their busy lives haven't had the opportunity to read that report--and it's a pretty dry, prosecutorial work product--we want Bob Mueller to bring it to life, to talk about what's in that report. It's a pretty damning set of facts that involve a presidential campaign in a close race welcoming help from a hostile foreign power, not reporting it but eagerly embracing it, building it into their campaign strategy, lying about it to cover up, then obstructing an investigation into foreign interference again to try to cover up. That's a pretty damning set of facts that most American people are not familiar with and, of course, the President keeps on trying to deceive them about those facts. But who better to bring them to life than the man who did the investigation himself? We want the people to hear it directly from him, not filtered through Bill Barr, who had his own misleading characterization of it but from the man who did the work himself.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Last year on this program, you said there was a very real prospect that on the day President Trump leaves office, that he would be indicted. The Justice Department, you said, would do that. This week the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York concluded its investigation into campaign finance and there were no charges there related to him. Does this prove your predictions wrong that this case is closed?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: No, not at all. I mean, it's been clear, you know, from Bob Mueller that he felt and the Justice Department feels bound by this Office of Legal Counsel opinion that you can't indict a sitting President. But he is a-- essentially, unindicted co-conspirator. He's been identified as an individual one, as the person who directed Michael Cohen to commit this fraudulent campaign scheme. And I assume that all this means, in terms of the Southern District of New York, is that the case will be reopened when he leaves office, providing the statute of limitations has not run, and the Justice Department will have to weigh whether to indict the former President. From my point of view, if the evidence supports that, he should be indicted. And it's certainly the view of the Justice Department's reflected in that indictment that Donald Trump was the one who coordinated and directed that illegal scheme. And why should Michael Cohen to go to jail, but the guy who did the direction and the coordination himself evade justice? He is not above the law. He may have a temporary reprieve while he occupies that office. But I think the Justice Department will have to seriously consider reopening the case if that's what it requires and indicting him when he leaves office.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You alleged this week that the Attorney General, Bill Barr, intervened to stop this investigation or may have done that. Do you have any evidence to support that?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, I haven't alleged that he did that. What I have said is that Congress ought to find out and make sure there was no intervention by Bill Barr or Main Justice to bring about, essentially, a political closure of that case.


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Now, I don't know that that's the case but one of the concerns that I have had is when Bill Barr testified in the Senate, that he believes that the President could have made the Mueller investigation go away anytime he wanted if he thought it was unfair. It's logical to conclude he also feels the President can make any of these other cases go away if he deems them unfair--


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: --and-- and that is not our understanding, or anyone else's, of the law. The President is not above the law and we're going to do our oversight to make sure that none of these cases are made to go away to protect the President.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Congressman, thank you very much. We'll be back in a minute with Senator Cory Booker.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the 2020 presidential campaign, and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, he joins us this morning from Los Angeles. Good morning to you.

SENATOR CORY BOOKER (D-New Jersey/@CoryBooker/2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate): Good morning. Thank you for having me on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, you compared President Trump to George Wallace, the segregationist Democrat from Alabama. You said the President's own words were a disgusting display of racism and bigotry, are you accusing the President of being a racist?

SENATOR CORY BOOKER: I'm-- I'm accusing him of being worse than that. He is somebody that is using race like a weapon to divide our country against itself. He's been using it since before he became President as a way to accelerate his gaining of political power. And the language he uses is actually language--tired old tropes that have been used by demagogues all throughout our country's history. From the know nothings who were fighting against Irish and German immigrants, literally, using some of the same language, to some of the same tactics that George Wallace was using for his own political power, literally, calling his opponents communist and the like. This President is, yet, another sad chapter, but what we have done all the time as Americans, black and white, from different backgrounds, we've always joined together and beaten those demagogues hate-- hate mongers and fear mongers and I think that's where Donald Trump will be relegated. This-- this election is not a referendum only on him, it's really a referendum on who we're going to be and who we're going to be to each other and I believe, have deep faith in this country's ability to come together and reject this type of politics, this isn't a partisan issue--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But to that point-- to that point, do you think there is any merit to the argument that Democrats need to-- to police their own ranks, that some of these progressive Democrats in the House have been reckless with some of their language?

SENATOR CORY BOOKER: I mean if you're talking about the politics within our party that-- that's a lot different than someone who, literally, is calling for people, American citizens, to go home which is something that has been used as a racist trope. There's no equivalency here whatsoever. I don't care who says it. People who preach racism and bigotry for their own political power try to slice and divide this country against itself. That is something on a whole different moral plane than anything in the interdynamics of a political party. This is something that all of us and I-- I hear this from my Republican friends. This is awful, we need to reject it, we need to move beyond this as a country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the President has described this strategy though as-- as forcing Democrats like yourself to, essentially, embrace people on the more liberal side of the party who have said things that he has characterized as anti-Israel, sometimes anti-Semitic. Is this a strategy that is actually effective for the President because it's forcing Democrats like you to defend people you may or may not agree with?

SENATOR CORY BOOKER: Look, I will defend anybody Republican or Democrat who is attacked because of their color of their skin, because of their religion, because of their ethnicity. That's just who I am. I don't give a damn about the politics of it. Racism is racism. And to say nothing in-- in the face of it is to be complicit in that kind of language. So I don't care about politics. I care about my nation. This is not who we are. We are a place that has always-- I am, literally, sitting here as a United States senator because Republicans and Democrats stood up in the 1960s and fought for my family's housing rights--


SENATOR CORY BOOKER: --and my equal rights. This is our-- this is the greatness of our country it's not what he is evidencing right now. And we have a moral obligation.


SENATOR CORY BOOKER: Forget politics or political advantage to--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the politics--

SENATOR CORY BOOKER: --to reject it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --of race are also playing out in the Democratic debate stage. Certainly, you and Senator Harris have been critical of Joe Biden, the front-runner, for his past record when it comes to racial issues. So it-- this also seems to be a fault line that can be useful politically for Democrats as well. Do you think that needs to change? Is that the strategy for this next debate? Are you going to get more aggressive on that front?

SENATOR CORY BOOKER: Look, I'm running for President, not to use race as a strategy. I'm running for President because we have more African-Americans, for example, under criminal supervision than all the slaves in 1850, that there were real racial realities that we have to deal with, not because of black or white, but because of America. We're a nation where we swear oaths to the ideals of liberty and justice for all. And I know that this is a time where we talk about these things through a political lens but all of us in this country can-- can agree that it's wrong that there is no difference between blacks and whites for using drugs or dealing drugs, but blacks are almost four times more likely to be arrested for that. And so, yeah, it is fair. The 1994 crime bill, which put mass incarceration on steroids, and, literally, that I worked to pass a bill through a divided Congress called the First Step Act to reverse things that were done in that 1994 crime bill. Yeah, I want people like Joe Biden, which he finally did, thank God, stand up and say, I was wrong, that bill did a lot of harm. So to me this isn't politics this is standing up and talking about our culture, who we're going to be, what's the soul of America. And-- and right now, we are in a difficult period where you see violent racial attacks on a rise. Since 9/11, the majority of our terrorist attacks have been right wing extremists, a majority of those have been white supremacist attacks, and now we have a President that's language is usually-- actually being used by white supremacists to justify their bigotry and hatred. So this-- there's a lot of more moral issues going on and it's not a left-right divide. It-- it's really, again, yet, another chapter that we've seen from the Know Nothings to McCarthyism to--


SENATOR CORY BOOKER: --to George Wallace and-- and Jim Crow. This is a moment in America, a moral moment, where we have to decide who we're going to be and are we going to confront the institutional racism and the racism being spewed from the most-- one of the most sacred offices in all of our land: the presidency of the United States.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Booker, thank you for joining us.

We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: If you miss us on television FACE THE NATION can be seen on CBS All Access. Our network's digital subscription video on demand and live streaming service. Replays of FACE THE NATION also stream on our digital network, CBSN every Sunday at 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM Eastern.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Some of our stations are leaving us now, but we'll be right back with our CBS News 2020 Battleground Tracker and our political panel. Don't go away.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We have some new polling on the 2020 campaign. But, first, we want to take a look at some results surveying Americans about the President's tweets saying that four House Democrats, quote, "Go back" to the countries from which they came. Joining us now are CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe and CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto. Good to have you both here. Anthony, this was explosive. It was dominating a week's worth of news headlines. What were voters telling you?

ANTHONY SALVANTO (CBS News Elections & Surveys Director/@SalvantoCBS): Well, at top line level you could see what you might have expected, which is partisan splits on this. A majority said that they disliked the tweets; disliked what the President said. Democrats especially called the tweets racist and un-American, but Republicans said the media made too much of it. They thought the tweets were not racist. They thought the tweets were pro-American. And, you know, you could see some of the political wheels starting to turn, too. The four Democratic congresswoman referenced in the tweets are better known and unpopular among Republicans then they are among the country at large. So--

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's interesting.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yeah. You start to see maybe the President trying to rile up that base in advance of 2020. But I think if you pull back a second and then look at the context, too. In the poll, Americans told us that they feel like the country is divided along racial lines. And the-- the parties they think are almost taking sides in this. Democrats feeling that the Republicans and the President are trying to assert the-- the interest of white voters over minorities and Republicans feeling that the Democratic Party is trying to assert the interest of minorities over white voters. And so that split starts to define what we're headed into in the 2020 election and people say that they feel that the parties each represent very different views of what it means to be American. And that's kind of the context going forward.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ed, is this the kind of rhetoric we're going to be hearing through this campaign? Should we just still ourselves?

ED O'KEEFE (CBS News Political Correspondent/@edokeefe): Very well could be. And it's the kind of thing that really presents a challenge to Democrats, who, clearly, want to be talking about other issues because they understand that's how the party won congressional control last year by sort of acknowledging the President, but focusing on what they would be for. But this was one of those weeks; this was one of those incidents that they simply couldn't ignore. This morning Joe Biden is out with a new video that once again amplifies his concerns about the President's rhetoric and how it could be dividing the country. Throughout the week you heard Democratic candidates out on the trail talking about it. But, interestingly, they start calling out the President a little bit for what he's doing here, and trying to remind voters that this-- there might be some other motives behind this. Amy Klobuchar, for example, repeatedly this past week kept saying he's doing this to distract you. He's doing this to change the subject and keep the focus on him instead of the issues we want to be talking to you, the voters about, whether that's health care, Social Security, the economy, whatever as a point about that. And--


ED O'KEEFE: --and it's one that I think Democrats will continue to make.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Let's get to where the race stands right now. Our CBS News Battleground Tracker focuses on the eighteen early Democratic caucus and primary contests starting with Iowa and up to and including Super Tuesday. In the aggregate of those early contest states, we're starting to see three distinct tiers. In the top one, former Vice President Joe Biden leads the field with twenty-five percent of voter support. Senator Elizabeth Warren has twenty percent. And behind her is Senator Kamala Harris with sixteen percent. Senator Bernie Sanders rounds out the top tier with fifteen percent support. Our second tier has Mayor Pete Buttigieg pulling at six percent, former Congressman Beto O'Rourke at four, and former HUD secretary Julian Castro at two percent. And in that third tier are all the rest of the candidates who are getting one percent of support in those first eighteen contests or last. Anthony, people are overwhelmed by the number of candidates. What do these tiers actually tell us?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Well, the way that you define tiers, in my mind, is you look at the candidates who are in position to get delegates because, ultimately, that's what this contest is about. They are trying to win delegates to that National Convention next summer. Well, you have to get at least fifteen percent in a state in order to get some delegates. So, that's where I think you see that top tier defined--all those candidates in position to get delegates across these early states. Now one of the things that's changed since last month when we talked to voters is that Joe Biden still leads, but it's a much tighter race now particularly in a number of these other states in Iowa, in New Hampshire. I would describe it as very fluid within that top tier. People are considering all of those candidates even if their first choice, at this point, remains Biden.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And besides delegates and support, it's also about money.

ED O'KEEFE: It is. It is. And our top tier actually reflects much of what the fundraising shows. With the exception of Pete Buttigieg who is the top money raiser this past quarter and is still in the mix. The important thing to keep in mind, too, first tier, second tier all of them got at least two percent. That matters because it qualifies them potentially for the September debate. You have to have at least four polls that show you getting at least two percent. So this is good news for anybody up to Julian Castro. It's terrible news for everybody else.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Anthony, what are we seeing in terms of how the candidates are starting to define themselves?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Well, start with this. The top issue for Democrats is health care. If there were top three issues, it would be heath care, health care, and health care. And that defines a split in the party in the sense that Joe Biden does better among Democrats who think that they are a little bit skeptical of a Medicare for All plan or they think if there is one that it should at least compete with private insurance. But the more Progressive candidates, the Warrens (sic), Harris, Sanders, all do a little bit better with voters who say either replace private insurance or asserting absolutely go with Medicare for All. And I think that the health care issue is starting to define something of a split there in the candidates. Yes, it cues to ideological lines as well where moderates, where Biden does better--


ANTHONY SALVANTO: --more Progressives and liberal voters, where the other candidates do better. But that's starting to where you start to see that split.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it's cost not the type of coverage.

ED O'KEEFE: Exactly. And-- and I think that's going to be one of the real defining aspects of this debate going forward. Especially, in those debates next week. And it's telling that you continue to hear someone like Joe Biden say, "I'll fight anyone, Democrat or Republican, who wants to tear apart Obamacare," which is a signal to Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris. "You want to fight for Medicare for All, I'm going to fight you because the system we have is working. It just needs to be more affordable and expanded."

MARGARET BRENNAN: And on the word "fight," Anthony, you saw something really interesting here when it comes to perceptions of strength.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yeah. We asked which candidate had been the most strong. And Kamala Harris came out on top. On that, we asked which candidate would fight a lot for people like you. And Elizabeth Warren, and some extent, Harris and Sanders also did better than Joe Biden. So you start to see this difference in what voters are perceiving is passion and enthusiasm. And you start to see that among people who are active on Twitter, active on social media. And that's the more engaged part, the more liberal part of the base. And that's perhaps to be expected, it's still early stage where you definitely see splits there, whereas Biden doing better with the moderates.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Anthony and Ed, thanks very much.

And all of you can see the full results of our CBS News Battleground Tracker, including state-specific polling on our website at


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to our political panel for some analysis. Lanhee Chen is a policy expert and fellow at the Hoover Institution, Rachael Bade covers Congress for The Washington Post, Jamelle Bouie is a CBS News political analyst and a columnist with The New York Times and Paula Reid is a White House correspondent here at CBS. Good to have all of you here. You heard health care, health care, health care. That's the main issue for all voters. That is not what anyone is talking about this week. Lanhee, we are talking about what the President continued to tweet about this morning--racism, The Squad, and that dispute. Why is the President continuing it?

LANHEE CHEN (Hoover Institution/@lanheechen): Well, I mean, I think he believes, he feels it's part of an electoral strategy. And I think that the trumpification of the Republican Party is complete. And I think you're seeing that in terms of the degree to which he is able to consolidate Republican support and how few Republicans really came out this week and-- and took issue with the President's remarks. I think that demonstrates a degree to which he does consolidate that base. And going forward the question for the President is how does he continue to drive up that support amongst his base; and, potentially, expand his base not to independent voters, not to suburban women but to the kinds of people who would, you know, sort of enjoy the appeal, this sort of blatant appeal to race that the President's engaging in. And it's all about the 2020 election and it's all about expanding and consolidating that base.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So race is front and center in 2020, Jamelle, and the Democratic candidates on the last debate stage made it racial politics front and center, as well, in the attacks on Joe Biden and his record. Is it dangerous to use this as a political tool?

JAMELLE BOUIE (The New York Times/CBS News Political Analyst/@jbouie): I think it's important to distinguish between what we saw on the Democratic stage and what the President is doing. I think what we saw on the Democratic stage was an attempt among Democrats to sort of reckon with the legacy of their party's history, Joe Biden's history, specifically, but, largely, an attempt to win back certain voters by white suburbanites, non-white-- non-college white-- white workers by triangulating on issues like desegregation, on crime, on welfare and trying to move away from that as the party becomes more diverse, as the party relies even more on African-Americans and Latinos and Asian Americans versus what the President was doing is trying to summing up the same kind of fervent energies from the 2016 campaign to drive up support among his base. I think it's important to say that those kind of remarks are very unpopular with the public at large. The President saw his approval drop to a not a all-time low but close to it after Charlottesville. The remarks about football players kneeling were not popular. The Virginia gubernatorial election was practically a lifetime ago in 2017.


JAMELLE BOUIE: But the Republican candidate Ed-- Ed Gillespie suffered at the polls for leaning into those kinds of attacks. So while the President may believe it's effective the actual evidence on display is that it's probably not that effective for him.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it energizes people, Rachael, right? And it energizes the parties. And, yet, you did see some Republicans, as you say, Lanhee, not very vocally but indicate they weren't totally comfortable with this.

RACHAEL BADE (The Washington Post/@rachaelmbade): Yes. Put-- put Trump aside for a second. You look at your traditional congressional Republicans. I mean, Liz Cheney in your interview, she might not have wanted to admit it and she was just sort of blaming the media but they really have a problem here. And they have been talking about it privately. It is one thing, and Republicans all agreed and Democrats would say they did have a strategy here to-- to single out these four women and talk about their policies and the fact that they support socialism or socialistic agendas of some sort. Independent voters don't like that and Republicans could really use that to their advantage. But what Trump did this week is he totally upended this tragedy by making it about race, by sending those racist tweets, the-- the chant that followed us, "Send her back." That Republicans, they knew that that changed everything. And while they didn't come out publicly and say, "Trump, you can't tweet like this," they confronted Mike Pence in a private meeting just a few days ago, Liz Cheney was in the room for that, where they said, "You need to tell the President this is not good for us and this is going to hurt us." And so Pence relayed that to the President. And that's why he tried to put some space between himself and that chant that broke out at the rally, "Send her back."


RACHAEL BADE: "Send her back." But we know the President. We know that sort of he returns to his gut instinct even when people try to pull him back from what he wants to do. So, you know, the question is how long is he going to try to separate himself from that? And, you know, will he do this again?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, this morning the President's tweet was, these individuals are incapable of loving this country. Paula, how is the White House handling this?

PAULA REID (CBS News White House Correspondent/@PaulaReidCBS): Well, I-- I don't think anyone here really has a true incentive to tamp this down. Because both sides are getting the foil that they want ahead of 2020. Now, of course, there are some Republicans, particularly those in vulnerable districts, who do not want to be on the defensive, who do not want to be in a position to tamp this down. But even when the President backed off, and our reporting also reflects that the vice president, some of his family members went to him and asked him to distance himself from this even when he backed off, what did he do by doing that? He kept this in the news cycle. He kept the Squad v. Trump in the news cycle, in the dialogue. So to-- to-- to your point it doesn't appear that the White House in the long term will likely change this strategy. I don't expect to see the President actually tell any of his crowds to knock it off with the chanting.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jamelle, I want to ask you about some of the language the so-called Squad, these four freshmen House Democrats. Normally, someone who's very new to Washington like this wouldn't get so much attention--

JAMELLE BOUIE: Right, right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --from the most powerful man in the city. But the words that they have used. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referring to Border Patrol detention centers as concentration camps. Republicans have said that it's disrespectful to Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Ayanna Pressley, the congresswoman from Massachusetts, she is being called a racist because she said when speaking about elected representatives, "we don't need any more brown faces that don't want to be a brown voice, we don't need black faces that don't want to be a black voice." What is happening here? You know, Republicans are calling that racist. And from Anthony Salvanto's polling, people are only hearing this on political-- through a political filter--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --and digesting it that way.

JAMELLE BOUIE: I mean, I think--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But do Democrats really have a problem?

JAMELLE BOUIE: So as far as how voters are hearing and I think part of the-- the larger issue here is that politics are so partisan and so divided along partisan lines that it's difficult to sort of for a lot of people to understand things in any sort of context other than the immediate partisan battle. And so in that-- in that sense if, say, Representative Pressley's remarks get traction that maybe a problem because no one's going to try to hear it in the context that I hear it which sort of there's-- there's an old proverb that's attributed to Zora Neale Hurston, not all skin folk are kin folk, which is the idea that not everyone who looks like you necessarily has your interest in mind. This is a very common thing, very common sentiment within black communities. And that's sort of what I hear from Pressley.


JAMELLE BOUIE: And it doesn't, like, strike my ears in a racist way. But in terms of the broader political context that's going to pop up and what's going to happen and what is happening is sort of, oh, well, she's talking about race. She's talking about what people ought to believe, which is sort of obviously racist, why is she not being criticized like Donald Trump. When there is-- there are very broad, very different, very broad context with-- for what's happening from both figures. And that's hard to communicate within the-- the very narrow world of partisan politics.

RACHAEL BADE: This is another reason why Republicans were really frustrated when Trump tweeted last week because if you let the Democrats sort of have their in-fighting. You know, Republicans on the Hill have loved that. You mentioned this Pressley quote, specifically, I guarantee that would have dominated coverage on Capitol Hill for at least a week with congressional black caucus members who are really upset by that quote. But Trump instead has tweet united the Democratic Party. And this in-fighting that we have seen sort of spill out on Capitol Hill and really create a problem for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That was all put in the background. But the Democrats do have an issue in that, you know, these four really are defining what people are reading in the news around the country. And Pelosi wants to keep the focus on health care. She doesn't want to talk about Medicare for All. She doesn't want to talk about socialism. That's not good for Democrats. But, again, Trump totally changed the narrative.

LANHEE CHEN: I think-- I think that's the fundamental problem is that Democrats have a little bit of this power vacuum that comes, when you have a party--


LANHEE CHEN: --that's out of power from the White House. And the question becomes a definitional one, which is who speaks for the Democratic Party? Well, the answer right now is The Squad. It is not Nancy Pelosi who is doing her best to hold together a disparate caucus. It is not, interestingly enough, the presidential candidates you would think in a presidential cycle would be one of those candidates, they're doing their thing. But the polling reflects that-- that the messaging and the policy dialogue is being dominated by these four people who are vastly unrepresentative of the kinds of voters Democrats need to win if they want to win this presidential election. So they have a real problem in my mind in this disconnect between who's speaking for the Democratic Party now and how Americans see Democrats and what they need to be to win that next presidential election.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're going to take a break here. Congress is about to go on summer break. So I want to talk about what they actually might get done on the other side of this.

We'll be back in a few moments.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back now with our political panel. This week in Washington, maybe must-see TV or maybe America forgot about that two-year long investigation, Paula Reid, led by the special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian election meddling in 2016. He will be forced in many ways to answer questions. This isn't an appearance he wanted to make. What do Democrats actually think they are going to hear from him and what is he prepared to say?

PAULA REID: It was so interesting to hear Schiff saying he wants him to bring the Mueller report to life. I'm not sure what that-- what that equates to, the audio version of the Mueller report? But anyone who thinks that this is going to sizzle or be entertaining or really reveal new things about this investigation, sadly mistaken. As you said, this is a reluctant witness. Special counsel Robert Mueller is just not that into us, the media. He only engaged in about two instances in the entire course of his investigation. And he made it clear in his prepared remarks, he said, "I hope this is the last time I have to talk about this." So in the course of the several hours where he will be answering questions he is likely to stick to his report, to not want to go beyond the confines of that report. One area, though, I think where Democrats could potentially make some progress is on Attorney General William Barr to clarify the discrepancy before-- between the former special counsel and the attorney general because that's not in the report itself. That all happened after Barr testified. He wasn't sure if Mueller agreed with his conclusions. But Mueller sent him a letter. He called him. So I do think there is the opportunity to maybe undermine the credibility of the attorney general. But Republicans also have a huge opportunity here to address the origins of this investigation. They don't even need Mueller to say anything. Just rereading those text messages between Lisa Page and-- and Peter Strzok undermines the cre-- credibility of not only this investigation but also the Clinton e-mail one.



MARGARET BRENNAN: --to refresh people's memories. Rachael, Jerry Nadler was on television, the House Judiciary chairman, saying that there is clear evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And talking about what he expects from Mueller. Those are clear words--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --as to what he has in mind. Is this all about laying groundwork for impeachment?

RACHAEL BADE: For some Democrats, absolutely. And that's where-- there's actually division a going into this hearing about what do Democrats actually want to get out of this. I mean, the leadership, Speaker Nancy Pelosi who is against the idea of impeaching the President, they are hoping that Mueller comes in and sort of lays out some of these instances of potential obstruction of justice, and that people see that, it hurts Trump's poll numbers. And, you know only about three percent of Americans actually read the reports. So she's hoping that people learn and this hurts Trump in 2020. Now people like Jerry Nadler who-- he hasn't come out publicly for impeachment, but, privately, he has been pushing the leadership to start. And about ninety other Democrats in the House who have called for impeachment to begin. They want this to be sort of a watershed moment to see the number of Democrats who support impeachment actually grow and potentially even independents who are on the fence on this to come around to their side of thinking. Now there's a lot of skepticism that that is going to happen. But the fact that Jerry Nadler is going on TV and saying that he is thinking Mueller's going to lay out high crimes in misdemeanor shows that Nadler is getting closer to that point even as the Democratic leadership is not.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Could this backfire, Jamelle?

JAMELLE BOUIE: I don't know. I mean, I think it's-- I think it's unclear. We're kind of in unchartered territory here. We haven't had, you know, the-- the last impeachment controversy trial in the 90s was happening in a very different political context, but to much-- with a much more popular President, a growing economy that the President was getting credit for. And so in that, then impeachment did hurt the opposition party. But, here, the President is manifestly unpopular. The-- what he is accused of, these are-- I think there-- there is an appetite on some Republicans and the public willing to say that the President has-- has violated norms and standards here. And it's entirely possible that pursuing impeachment in this particular instance could end up worsening Trump's position versus backfiring against Democrats. But, again, I don't-- I think it's--


JAMELLE BOUIE: --difficult to say because this is a unique situation. There aren't very many guides in the past for understanding what is going to happen going forward.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Lanhee, this is one of the last things that happens before Congress goes on--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --summer vacation. Policy wise, anything in the future?

LANHEE CHEN: Well, we have the debt ceiling. And, you know, again, this is sort of like the Washington-- let's go up to the cliff every couple of years because we can't stand stability. Let's figure out a way to compromise economic growth and let's figure out a way to compromise everything that potentially is going right with the economy. So they-- they're going to have to figure out the debt ceiling. Some are saying it's going to be in the context of a larger budget deal. Now that budget deal potentially I think exposes fractures on the Republican side, right? Because you have some fiscal conservatives like the current White House chief of staff who believe that that fiscal responsibility element is extremely important. Some even suggest the President's there, too, that he might want to go there in a second term. And then you've got a lot of Republicans who say, forget fiscal responsibility, it's not popular. Nobody cares about it anymore. So why worry about it. So those divisions I think are going to be very real.


LANHEE CHEN: And, clearly, it's to the benefit of the President to keep this situation put off until after the election. So there is huge incentive to get a deal done.

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

We will be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you all for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.

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