On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow ( )
- Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. (
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. (
- Beto O'Rourke (
- CBS News White House Correspondent Weijia Jiang (watch)
- Analysis on Trump-Kim meeting: Former CIA Deputy Director and CBS News Senior National Security Contributor Michael Morell and Jean Lee, Director of the Korea Center at The Wilson Center (watch)
- Political Panel: Edward Wong, Shannon Pettypiece, Ramesh Ponnuru, and Antjuan Seawright (watch)
Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, June 30th. I'm Margaret Brennan and this is FACE THE NATION.
President Trump becomes the first sitting U.S. President to step foot in North Korea, greeting Kim Jong-un on his turf.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Hey, I'm over here. I want to call up Chairman Kim. This has been, in particular, a great friendship.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That, after the President announced the day before a temporary cease-fire in the U.S. trade war with China. We'll talk with top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow. And Congress finally agrees to give the Trump administration nearly five billion dollars to help with the migrant crisis at the border. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham weighs in. Plus, Democrats face off against Democrats.
JULIAN CASTRO: I think that you should do your homework on this issue.
JAY INSLEE: I am the only candidate here who has passed a law protecting a woman's right of reproductive health.
KAMALA HARRIS: Hey, guys, you know what? America does not want to witness a food fight. They want to know how we're going to put food on their table.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll talk with two presidential hopefuls who took the stage. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke.
All that, coming up on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We begin today with CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang, who is in Seoul, South Korea, where she has been covering the President's historic visit to North Korea.
WEIJIA JIANG (CBS News White House Correspondent/@weijia): Good morning, Margaret. The suspense over whether President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un would meet quickly turned into frenzy over a historic episode that lasted much longer than expected. In fact, even President Trump admitted he was surprised the meeting happened at all. President Trump and Kim walked toward each other from opposite sides of the Joint Security Area in the DMZ, the demilitarized border zone that separates North and South Korea. After a handshake, Mister Trump became the first U.S. sitting President to cross over the line of demarcation into North Korea, something he said he was proud to do. Then the two leaders met for nearly one hour and it all came about because of a tweet President Trump sent yesterday, inviting Kim to the DMZ to say hello and shake hands. Kim said he was surprised at the gesture and by the President's willingness to see him there. President Trump described the meeting as strong and solid and said negotiating teams would be meeting in the next two or three weeks to start crafting a deal for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons. He also said he would invite Kim to the White House, but did not provide a time frame for when. Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Weijia Jiang in Seoul.
We go now to some analysis on this morning's events. Jean Lee is director of the Korea Center at the Wilson Center and Mike Morell is a former acting director of the CIA and CBS News senior national security contributor. Mike, we know the President's national security team was opposed to this. Did the meeting strengthen or weaken the U.S. position?
MICHAEL MORELL (Former CIA Deputy Director/@MichaelJMorell/ CBS News Senior National Security Contributor): Margaret, two different perspectives here I think. One is that a negotiated solution is the only solution to this problem. There isn't a military option. There's not a covert action option. So getting back to talks with the North Koreans is important, and I think that's a good thing. The second perspective, though, is this comes at a very high cost. This gives Kim Jong-un a lot of legitimacy. This is gold for him politically at home and in the world. And, secondly, this is going to weaken sanctions enforcement against North Korea because if you're another country, you're-- you're going to say to yourself, my companies aren't-- don't need to pay a price. They are now getting along. You're going to step back a little bit. So we're paying a price for this and it can't go on forever, but let's see if we can get something out of these negotiations.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Jean, you've lived, you've worked in North Korea. What does this do for Kim Jong-un at home? Is he actually under much pressure to get things done?
JEAN LEE (The Wilson Center/@newsjean): He is and that's a very important point. It's so hard for us to tell what's happening inside North Korea because they do such a good job of keeping us out and of framing the photo or the narrative of North Korea, but the fact is it is an extremely poor country. And we may not get that sense when we see that he's pouring so much money into nuclear weapons, we see these military parades and everything looks so organized and Pyongyang looks so modern, but we have to remember that they have an estimated GDP per person per year that is more along the lines of Congo or some of the poorest countries in Africa. This is a country that is suffering and he knows that. I do think he needs this and he wants this. So for me, it was only a matter of time that he would start-- he and President Trump would start putting out feelers to get back to these nuclear negotiations. I think there was a loss of faiths after Hanoi. And so he is looking for a chance to get back to that negotiating table.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But, Mike, even though, there may be that pressure on Kim Jong-un and food shortages even, he's still charging ahead with his nuclear program.
MICHAEL MORELL: So two pieces to that. One is he is still making fissile material, so he is still adding to the nuclear stockpile but he is not testing nuclear weapons and he is not testing missiles. You know we know he has nuclear weapons. We know he has ICBMs capable of reaching the Continental United States, the one thing he has not demonstrated is the ability to mate those two together, right. He-- and he needs to test in order to-- to convince himself that he can do that, let alone us. So the fact that he's holding back on that is important. But the stockpile continues to grow.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Jean, you've been watching some of what Kim Jong-un is doing in the region. He's been meeting with Vladimir Putin. He's been meeting with XI Jinping. He has some powerful friends other than the United States right now. So how much leverage does the U.S. have here?
JEAN LEE: In fact, Russia and China did support the round-- the latest round of U.N. Security sanction-- security-- Security Council Sanctions that have been such a chokehold on North Korea's economy, and I think that was a major blow to North Korea. And so he was going to Putin and to Xi to see if he could get some sanctions relief. It doesn't sound like he got what he needed. And so in that sense, he is trying to tell his people at home, look, we do have-- I am meeting with them, we have a good relationship, they still have our back. But it does mean that if he does continue to build those relationships with Putin and Xi, it does take away from the leverage that President Trump has. I think that's something that we have to watch closely, the way that Kim Jong-un is very savvily playing all these different relationships in the region.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Mike, it seems like the U.S. strategy has been to try to separate Kim Jong-un from some of his more hardline, old-school advisors. The idea that he is so unique and President Trump is so unique that you could get this impossible deal, even though, the U.S. Intelligence community says he is not going to give up his nukes. What are the odds on this?
MICHAEL MORELL: So I don't think there's any way he's going to give up the entire program. I think the only possibility is significant limits on the number of nuclear weapons and the missile program, probably the distance that missiles can fly. That's the best we can hope for. We should push for the whole thing but the best we can hope for is limits.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Containment?
MICHAEL MORELL: Containment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you very much.
We turn now to Larry Kudlow, the National Economic Council director, who joins us this morning from Connecticut. Larry, good to have you here. The President said he's not increasing tariffs on China and he is allowing American companies to do business with Huawei. That, essentially, throws that tech firm a lifeline. What did the U.S. get for these concessions?
LARRY KUDLOW (National Economic Council Director): Well, let's-- first of all, the talks are going to restart. I think that's a very big deal right there. No timeline, Margaret, but they are going to restart. Look, regarding the Huawei story, let me just try to clarify that, there will be sales from American companies, but-- but only in the sense of the general merchandise, things that are available in other places around the world. Anything to do with national security concerns will not receive a new license from the Commerce Department. I think that's very important. I think people have to understand that stuff that's generally available will be-- will be probably getting a temporary license from the Commerce Department. We'll see how far that goes. Second point is we are hoping and expecting that China will engage in large-scale purchases of American farm products and farm services as the talks continue. The talks may not be ending, the talks may not even be solved, but the President believes that China will begin to purchase American agriculture and that's going to be a big boost to our farmers and that would be a good faith show that these are serious talks and negotiations.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But on those purchases that you say might happen, in the meantime, the existing tariffs still stay in place. So that means the retaliatory tariffs are, too. And even with this announcement of China potentially buying more product, according to the USDA that market for soybean farmers won't recover until 2026 or 2027. They're losing markets the longer this goes on. So how much damage can America stomach?
LARRY KUDLOW: Well, look, that may be, I don't want to forecast that. We'll see if China steps in to fill the void. Our farmers have been terrific, they're patriots, they support the President's dealings with China. Pres-- strongest President we've ever had in U.S.-China relations. China's problems, you know, IP theft, forced transfers of technology, problems with getting into cloud services, problems with tariffs, problems with non-tariff barriers, all these things are going to have to be addressed. And that's the only way it will help the American economy. It's a very unbalanced trading relationship, Margaret, as you may know. That has to be fixed. It's not going to be fifty-fifty. They have many more remedies and correctives to make, and that's what President Trump said in his news conference and elsewhere in this recent trip to Japan. Now having said that, with respect to the farmers, we are doing the best we can. We are providing short-term assistance to keep them going and try to fill the void until we can get better international markets. The farmers themselves, the farm groups, they've been great patriots and we-- we celebrate their support to make America's overall economy very, very strong. And let's see if the Chinese make good on this promise, that'll have a bearing. You know, the President said on tariffs, let me make this point, he said, "no additional tariffs for now." So he's going good faith to see how these talks go, to see if China delivers on an early agriculture promise, let's call it an early harvest, but that may be up for grabs. We will see. No one can predict with certainty.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But-- but last time, my understanding is, the talks were going well and then China backed off of a perceived promise to change its laws. So, is there any indication from China that they will make the kind of structural change to their own laws to make good on some of the changes you want to see happen on IP, et cetera?
LARRY KUDLOW: You're right about the problem, and they did pull back from some agreements we thought we had, and by the-- by that also includes all manner of enforcement to whatever conditions were made. So you're quite right. Can I sit here and tell you that's all going to work out? No, we don't know that. The teams are going to start negotiating in earnest, Ambassador Lighthizer, Secretary Mnuchin and others, but we don't know.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
LARRY KUDLOW: This is just a new first step. I always think it's better to talk than not to talk.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Sure.
LARRY KUDLOW: We have no assurances and, again, the President himself said several times, we want quality talks, there is no timeline here. The issue is quality, not speed.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well--
LARRY KUDLOW: So we will see if China delivers on some of these significant reforms.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Marco Rubio has been raising concerns though about what the President just agreed to do with Huawei, that tech firm. He said, "If President Trump has bargained away recent restrictions on Huawei, then the U.S. Congress will put them back in via legislation." Isn't this undercutting with the President's negotiation and why would the U.S. allow American companies to do business with a firm that is working on surveillance and a national security threat?
LARRY KUDLOW: Well, look, again, I-- I-- I think Senator Rubio's concerns about all manner of national security are correct. They're proper concerns and I hope that when President Trump comes back, that he and others of us will be able to persuade Senator Rubio, that there will be no national security violations, that any additional licensing from the Commerce Department to American companies will be for what we call general merchandise, not national security sensitive--general merchandise meaning, you know, various chips and software and other services that are available all around the world, not specific to the U.S. But the President is not backing off on the national security concerns. We understand the huge risks regarding Huawei. And let me say, the President, several times, "We will fully address Huawei, not until the end of the trade talks." In other words--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
LARRY KUDLOW: --that will come last and that will deal, you know, with much larger issues concerning the long-term future with Huawei. So that's-- what-- what's happening now is simply a-- a loosening up for general merchandise, maybe some additional licenses from commerce. It is not the last word. The last word is not going to come till the very end of the talks. This is a complicated matter. So I hope we'll be able to persuade Senator Rubio and others that-- that-- that we are as cautious and concerned as they are.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Larry Kudlow, thank you so much.
We'll be back in one minute with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Don't go away.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back. We are now joined by Minnesota Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar. She joins us from Minneapolis. Good morning, Senator.
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-Minnesota/@amyklobuchar/2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate): Thanks, Margaret. Hello.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We saw this historic moment with President Trump stepping into North Korea. And I wonder, if you're commander-in-chief, would you continue the diplomacy that he has started?
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: You always have to talk to everyone when it is American security and the world's security at stake. But he keeps having these summits and meetings that really don't produce anything. There's been a number of them now, and this time, you know, you just can't look at this as going over and talking to your dictator next door and bringing them a hot dish over the fence. There is a lot more. And what this is about is making sure that there are measurable results, that we have a plan when we go in there and we just haven't seen that. In fact, just in May you saw North Korea launch another missile into the sea in violation of the U.N. resolution and to me, you need to have a plan to denuclearize that peninsula or at least reduce those weapons immediately, and I just don't see that happening, yes. But, yet, we know that talks are good, but I just don't see this President--when you look at what happened in Iran when he got out of that agreement and we were ten minutes away from war and a month away from them blowing the caps when it comes to uranium-- enriching uranium. When you look what he did with the nuclear agreement with Russia, he is constantly-- climate change pulling us back from working with--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: --our allies to try to solve these problems.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You said there, North Korea would denuc-- denuclearize or at least need to reduce their arsenal. Would you accept them as a nuclear power?
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Mm-Hm. I-- no, I would not. What I am saying is you need to have steps and measures and you would-- could start there and then, of course, you have dates and you have times and you have a focus and you have a plan. But that is not what he does. He goes and gets a letter and says, "I love the guy," you know, right in the face of the Warmbier's, who lost their son, Otto. So I am concerned just because of the track record here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Talk is good, but if all it is, is talk it doesn't produce anything for national security for America and international security for our allies.
MARGARET BRENNAN: As commander-in-chief what would you do differently with China? What leverage would you use to get them to capitulate on trade?
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: I would first acknowledge to the American people very clearly the problem here. The surveillance, the intellectual property violations are basically stealing our blueprints, what they have done when it comes to subsidizing industries and manipulating their currency. The second thing that I would do is to work with our allies and to push them, and I wouldn't have just walk away from every negotiating table, months goes by. I think you have to keep at it methodically. And, mostly, I wouldn't have used the approach they've used. Yes, targeted tariffs, but they have used basically a meat cleaver or maybe we should call it a tweet cleaver when it comes to how they're dealing with these other countries. And when you talk to Larry Kudlow and he talked about the patriotism of our farmers, I'm in a very heavy ag state. Iowa, my neighbor is a heavy ag state, North Dakota. I've talked to farmers in those areas and what they tell me is they're not going to get that soybean market back in one year because that market has gone to farmers in other countries. And so that's why there's an urgency to this when we have an eight-hundred-ninety-one-billion-dollar trade deficit--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: --which is the worst that we've seen--you can't just keep talking about it. You actually have to get it done.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You heard me ask Larry Kudlow about Republican senators' concerns about Huawei. You are a sitting senator, would you vote to ban American companies from doing business with them?
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: I don't think we should be doing business with them right now. And I agree with my colleagues not just Senator Rubio, but also Senator Warner, Mark Warner, who is the ranking on the Intelligence Committee, that this is a major security risk for America. You know, you look at everything from China to Russia using cyber against us. It is the modern warfare. We certainly know that from our elections in 2016. They may not use tanks or missiles but they can go after our electric grid. They can go after our security in a very different way. And so I don't know why he would just give that away right now. I would think that he would put firm, firm standards in place as part of any agreement with China. And that's not what we have. We just have another promise that they're going to buy American agriculture. Okay, that's positive. But I wouldn't give it up in that short-term gain for the long term where we need to protect our security and our cybersecurity.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about the debates this week. One question to many of your colleagues and competitors was whether their health care plan would cover undocumented immigrants. Would your plan do that?
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: As part of comprehensive immigration reform, we must move forward on making sure that people have health care. California just did that with Medicaid, and I am supportive of that but I think on the national basis, as we go forward, get immediate health care for people, yes. But as part of making this actually happen, you need comprehensive immigration reform. And one thing that was missing from the NBC debate, actually, that I hope we can discuss, is that we have humanitarian crisis at the border right now. But we also did not talk about the other immigrants that are here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: The people who are here on temporary legal status, we've got hundreds of thousands of people that are legally here that are at risk or are being deported that work in our nursing homes and our hospitals. We have got DREAMers, two million of them, that came to this country through no fault of their own and are a major part of our economy. So, we need to have an economic discussion about this, as well as a border discussion--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, so--
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: --and that's why I want to move forward, as President, with comprehensive immigration reform.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So that was a yes? That your health care plan would cover--
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: That was a yes--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: --for immediate health care needs, but as far as other benefits I think we need to-- that has got to be a part of the discussion of comprehensive immigration reform.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, because they were excluded from the existing Obamacare law.
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: That is correct. Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you are-- I mean you-- you-- you call yourself a pragmatist. You're, in many ways--
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --perceived as a moderate from the Midwest. Do you feel, sometimes, that the rest of the party is-- is-- is leaving you behind? That it's--
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: No--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --gone so progressive?
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: I think-- I-- I-- I think-- I am thinking the issues you are focused here on, for instance, Medicare for all--and I want universal health care, I just got a different way to get there. And as I said in the debate, I don't think that we should take away people's right to their private insurance and kick half of America off of their private insurance. I think there is a better way to do this and that strengthening Obamacare, taking on the pharmaceuticals. On free college for all, I made it very clear, I want to expand Pell Grants, make it easier for kids to go to college. But I don't think-- and that's what some of these plans do, that we should be using taxpayer money to finance rich kids to go to college. Many of our public universities, something like ten percent of the kids come from families that make over two hundred thousand dollars a year. And I think that taxpayer money is better used to get free community college, to help kids get certifications, when those are some of the--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: --fastest growing degree jobs we have in this nation. And so to me, this is a legitimate policy argument about how we help people afford college, help them pay off their loans, make bold policy changes, which this President is not doing. But I think there's room in our party for a legitimate debate. I just think it's important to realize there's a lot more that unifies us than separate-- that there's a lot more that unifies us than there is that divides us, and that divide right now--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: --is with the American people and the President. He promised them pharmaceutical prices going down, they've gone up. He promised them infrastructure, he has done--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: --nothing. He promised them a safer world when he got out of the Iranian agreement. It is not safer. That's the case we need to make.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. We'll look for you on that next debate stage. Thank you very much, Senator Klobuchar.
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: I am very much looking forward to it. Thank you, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We are now joined by 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke who joins-- joins us from El Paso. Congressman, we've had this breaking news overnight and I'm wondering if, as President, you would continue the diplomacy with Kim Jong-un, and would you accept North Korea as a contained nuclear threat if it refuses to give up its nuclear weapons?
BETO O'ROURKE (2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate/@BetoORourke): You know, I would continue diplomacy contingent on progress that keeps this country and our allies safe. Despite three years of almost bizarre foreign policy from this President, this country is no safer when it comes to North Korea. They have removed none of their nuclear weapons or their potential to deliver them to the United States. And, in fact, in contravention of the United Nations they have launched other missiles flouting the diplomacy that this President has attempted so far. So, we've added legitimacy to Kim Jong-un.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But it sounds like you're saying you would continue to talk to Kim Jong-un.
BETO O'ROURKE: I want to make sure that we pursue diplomatic, peaceful, nonviolent negotiations to resolve the challenges that we face on the Korean Peninsula--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
BETO O'ROURKE: --and to ensure that we denuclearize that area.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We know from your team that you plan to go to Mexico today. What is the purpose of that visit?
BETO O'ROURKE: Me going over to Ciudad Juarez today, our-- our sister city across the border from El Paso, to meet with asylum seekers who have traveled hundreds, in some cases, thousands, of miles fleeing the deadliest countries on the face of the planet coming to this country trying to follow our asylum laws and through a program that effectively shuts them out of this country and our laws are forced to stay in Ciudad Juarez, where they are prey to criminal organizations, where they are penniless and where they are suffering and where too many feel like they are forced to try to cross in between our ports of entry. As we saw earlier this week, a picture of Oscar and Valeria, who died trying to do that from Matamoros to Brownsville. This inhumane policy is causing suffering and death, and I want to call attention to what we are doing. So going to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and meeting with these asylum seekers is a great way for the American public to know what is being done in our name right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So do you believe that asylum seekers should be able to apply for asylum from other countries or from Mexico?
BETO O'ROURKE: Yes. I-- I think we should follow our-- our own asylum laws that are on the books, our obligations to those people to whom we are connected by land and language and culture and for whom we have some responsibility, given our involvement in the Western Hemisphere that has produced some of the challenges that they face that would cause a family to flee hundreds or thousands of miles to come here. So when we follow our own asylum laws, those people are safer. We live according to our traditions and in a program that we've proposed, a family case management program, no family is separated. They're not detained in these border patrol stations--
MARGARET BRENNAN: But that's if they cross into the United States.
BETO O'ROURKE: --they're able to be released into the community and to follow our own laws.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What-- what you're proposing is when they cross into the United States. I'm asking if they're applying as, now, from Mexico or from a third country. That is one of the proposed changes, also, to immigration law now.
BETO O'ROURKE: Yes. I-- I think that asylum seekers should be able to apply from their home countries. So--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
BETO O'ROURKE: --from Honduras or Guatemala or El Salvador to the United States, without having to make that journey by foot in the first place, it will ensure that they are following our laws and it will guarantee greater safety and reduce suffering for them.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We are just about a month out from the next debate. During the one this week you were hit by your colleague from Texas, Julian Castro, who said, "You need to do your homework." Are you going to change your strategy for the next debate?
BETO O'ROURKE: What I'm going to do is get across what I think we can do as a country. And on the particular issue that you're referring to on-- on immigration, under my administration, day one we are going to stop family separation. We're going to reunite those families who have been separated. We're going to make sure that-- that no one who is fleeing persecution or violence is criminally prosecuted. And we're going to follow what I was doing in Congress, where we helped to introduce legislation that would stop this and rewrite Section 1325 of U.S. code to make sure that those families who are at their most desperate and vulnerable moment do not face further fear when they get to the United States. And then in addition we're going to rewrite our immigration laws from the ground up, that the nine million green card holders in this country, we're going to waive their citizenship fees so they can contribute even more to our success and our greatness.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You'll be reliant on bending Republicans to your will on that.
BETO O'ROURKE: Well, I-- I'm not so sure that I'm willing to concede that point. There are a lot of great candidates running for congressional seats and U.S. Senate seats across this country. I'm confident that 2020 is going to produce a significant change, not just in the White House, but in both Houses of Congress. I think that Democratic majority on immigration, on health care, on a more inclusive economy, on confronting the challenge of climate before it's too late is going to be able to show success for the American people at this defining moment of truth.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Congressman O'Rourke.
We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yesterday, we spoke with Senator Lindsey Graham who joined us from Istanbul, Turkey. We do want to caution you, there will be a graphic image that some may find disturbing. We began our conversation by asking Senator Graham for his take on the President's decision to remove the ban on American companies selling goods to Chinese tech giant, Huawei.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-South Carolina/Judiciary Committee Chairman/@LindseyGrahamSC): Well, it's a lot of leverage because Huawei is a huge Chinese company, and it really is owned by the Chinese government, it's not a private sector company as we would know it. Microsoft came into my office trying to make sure that they could sell some technology to China that would not compromise our national security. So I don't know what he agreed to regarding exceptions to the ban. If they're minor exceptions, that's okay, but if we're selling Huawei major technology, that would be a mistake.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you don't worry that this is too much of a concession on national security grounds?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I don't know yet. It's clearly a concession. There will be a lot of pushback if this is a major concession. If it's a minor concession I think it's part of the overall deal.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We know President Trump did meet with President Erdogan at the G20 as well and he seems to have the impression that President Trump said there will not be U.S. sanctions if Turkey goes ahead and buys Russian-made weapons systems. Is that the case?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, I'm in Turkey and it's being reported in the Turkish media that President Erdogan is claiming that President Trump, in their discussions, told Turkey that if you activate the S-400, we'll find a way around sanctions. I doubt if that conversation occurred. It's impossible-- under our law, if Turkey buys the-- activates the S-400 missile battery they bought from the Russians, sanctions would be required under law. And we also, a couple of days ago, passed legislation banning the sale of the F-35 to Turkey if they activate the Russian S-400 missile battery. There is no way we're going to transfer to Turkey the F-35 technology and let them buy a Russian missile battery at the same time. It would compromise our platform.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you're not saying sanctions are inevitable at this point. You see a way around them, some kind of compromise?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I hope so. But under our law, there is no discretion. If they activate the S-400 Russian missile battery, they will be sanctioned under U.S. law and the F-35 technology cannot be transferred to Turkey. We need to find a way out of this dilemma.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm sure you saw that video of Presidents Putin and Trump seeming to laugh when asked about election meddling. Did that concern you?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: What concerns me is are we going to be ready for their meddling next time? I've seen this administration up their game. In 2018 we had a midterm election without a whole lot of interference because we're-- we're upping our game, so to speak. So it was, clearly, a joke.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But last time you were on this program, you said Russia did not learn its lesson. So when you see this joking about something so serious regarding an upcoming election, doesn't that counter everything--
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --in terms of a hard line the rest of the national security-- security community is trying to send?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah, I'm not so sure rebuking Putin in-- in front of a bunch of cameras does much good. What hurts him is when you hit him in the polic-- pocketbook. His oligarch friends are having a hard time placing their money around the world. We put tremendous sanctions on the Russian economy, particularly, in the energy area and it's biting Russia. So actions mean more than anything in this part of the world.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you believe that President Trump embracing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman undermines the U.S. credibility on human rights?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah, I don't think it helps. I led the effort to sanction M.B.S., the Crown Prince. There is no doubt in my mind that he ordered the killing of Mister Khashoggi, that he knew about it, that he's done things like that to other people and that he's been a disruptive force throughout the region. So I'm in a completely different place when it comes to M.B.S.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Here at home, I know you've been working with the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and some Democrats as well to try to find some compromise around asylum laws. The President said that he will go through with rounding up migrants after the July Fourth holiday. Do you see any legislative compromise?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yes, I do. I've spent about an hour with Speaker Pelosi. And here's the compromise: we'll start turning the aid back on to Central America. It is in our national security interest to help the triangle-- Northern Triangle nations with their economy, with their rule of law problems. But if you don't turn off the magnets that attract people, which is our asylum laws, if you don't reform them, they will keep coming. All you have to do is to put one foot on the United States soil, if you're from Central America with a small child you're not going to get deported.
MARGARET BRENNAN: On that question of children, it-- it was that image of that El Salvadorian father who drowned along with his two-year-old daughter that really captured a lot of attention this week. That was his child. That was not a tool to exploit the asylum system. By warning that asylum is going to get tougher and saying that the border might close, doesn't that incentivize people that take the risk in the first place?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Good question. Here's what I think, and I don't know and it does break your heart to see that image and the thought that went into it. Here's what I think the father believed, "If we can just make it across the Rio Grande, and I can put one foot in America, my child and myself are going to be in America and we're not going to get sent back." I would like that asylum claim to be made in Mexico at a U.N. center so that this father doesn't have to risk him and his child drowning in the future. Asylum claims should be made in the home country or in a facility in Mexico because the reason he tried to go across the river--he was told by people in Central America, "If you can put one foot on American soil, you're home free." And this is a tragic result of that policy.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to quickly ask you about your friend, Joe Biden. How do you think he performed in the Democratic debate this week?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: He's got to up his game. But anybody that knows Joe Biden, there's not a racist bone in his body. That's not a cliche, that's a reality. But the narrative is that maybe it's not his time and that he's not up to the task. I think you will esti-- underestimate Joe Biden at your own peril. I watched the debate. The policy options being presented to the country by the leading contenders on the Democratic side are their biggest problem. Pretty liberal, pretty extreme. But when it comes to Joe Biden, I think the next debate, he's got to change the narrative. And one thing I'll say about Kamala Harris, and I said this before, she's got game. She is very talented, she's very smart, and she will be a force to be reckoned with.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Graham, thank you very much for your time.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with more from our political panel.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It's time now for some political analysis. Edward Wong is a diplomatic correspondent at the New York Times. Shannon Pettypiece is a White House correspondent of Bloomberg News. Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor at the National Review and a columnist at Bloomberg Opinion. And Antjuan Seawright is a political strategist. Thank you all for joining us. Antjuan, this was a big week for-- for you and fellow Democrats in terms of the first round out of the debates. What is your takeaway? What needs to change between now and when they take the stage in July?
ANTJUAN SEAWRIGHT (Political Strategist/@antjuansea): I think our candidates have to realize that they are running for our party's nomination and not against each other. And I think that's such an important point because what we saw during the debate was some heated fellowship among some of our candidates, but I think the-- the focus was lost on the big picture and that is we have a race to run next year against the Republicans. I also think that we have to, again, probably sing a little louder on the quality of life issues, like health care, like the economy, like housing, all of the things that Democratic votes are hungry and thirsty for and not just Democratic voters, independent thinkers, independent voters and even some of those voters who may have voted for the President in '16, but voted for Democrats in 2018.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Ramesh, what you just heard from Senator Graham was he characterized the debate stage as, you know, too extreme. For those who are those triers, those people in the middle, maybe even some Republicans who aren't comfortable with President Trump, is there anyone, yet, who they feel comfortable voting for on that stage?
RAMESH PONNURU (National Review/@RameshPonnuru/Bloomberg Opinion): Well, I think that the Democrats right now, the candidates are not concentrating on swing voters. They're not concentrating certainly on persuadable Republicans and the process of winning the primaries may be pushing them too far to the left on some issues. Look, I think the-- the Trump reelection campaign had a very good week, not because of anything the President did, but the frontrunner Joe Biden got dinged in the debate. Three of his top rivals came out for outlining the kind of health insurance that two hundred million Americans rely on. They are-- they are on a-- in a race to the left on immigration. All of these things are going to make people who don't necessarily love everything that the President does think I don't know if I'm comfortable with this other side.
ANTJUAN SEAWRIGHT: But-- but-- but, Margaret, to one point, we saw very few people between the two nights quote, unquote, "play with that," this idea of what the Republicans and some in the right wing media called liberal. What we saw I think, holistically, was a real center left type of approach to how we govern and what a policy agenda looks like. There's only two people on Wednesday night who raised their hand for Medicare for All, and I think it may have been two on Thursday night. So this idea that the party is driving the car to the left I think is just a false narrative, one that the Republicans are pushing because they know it plays well to their base. But, two, the media-- some in the media are pushing this narrative because it's good for political conversation. That does not make it true.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
RAMESH PONNURU: Warren, Sanders and Harris are three of the top candidates and they're all for outlining this kind of private health insurance that most Americans rely on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Shannon, picking up--
SHANNON PETTYPIECE (Bloomburg News/@spettypi): Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --pick it up there with-- do you see it as a good week for the Trump reelection campaign?
SHANNON PETTYPIECE: Everything went exactly as the campaign had hoped it would and as they expected it would. Whether they have really gone to the left or not the Trump campaign will use those moments from the debate to make it look like they moved to the left, whether swing voters are watching the debate or not they will cut moments from that debate and use them in campaign ads, that to them this was a television commercial against the Democrats for their 2020 campaign. So it-- it went exactly as they wanted. And I-- and on the expectation point, they expected Biden to be a bit off his game. They've been sort of talking-- their advisers have been talking for a while about feeling like Joe Biden today isn't Joe Biden of 2012. They expected Warren to be strong. They're concerned by her sort of authenticity and on message brand and I think Kamala did catch some by surprise, though.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Ed, one of the factors here for any big geopolitical calculations is who's going to be in the Oval Office--
EDWARD WONG (The New York Times/@ewong): Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --after 2020. There is this perception that whether it's Kim Jong-un or leadership in Iran that they're waiting out President Trump. Is that factoring into some of what we're saying?
EDWARD WONG: Right. I think with Iran, it's be-- they've been put in difficult position because the sanctions really are hurting Iran. So I think they have wanted to try and hold out for a change of commander-in-chief in 2020. Now, you're seeing them push back a little bit in the Persian Gulf because they think they might not be able to wait out that-- the sanctions that long. Kim-- Kim is a different position. I think he has nuclear weapons. He wants to be able to keep them and as long as he keeps Trump talking in this sort of diplomatic sort of round-robin game, then I think he feels comfortable because he gets to keep his weapons. Maybe Trump eases up on sanctions and in the end that's what Kim wants. And that's what as we heard, Mike Morell said that might be what the U.S. needs in terms of pushing forward on-- on diplomacy and maybe the-- in the long run you ratchet back the tensions but right now you do need some diplomatic opening.
MARGARET BRENNAN: As one source said to me Kim Jong-un has to look at this and say, "No President but President Trump would take this level of risk of meeting with me.'
EDWARD WONG: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So maybe there's a narrow window of opportunity, but you heard Senator Amy Klobuchar on here say, well, maybe he would just reduce the number of nuclear weapons. That's different than full denuclearization.
EDWARD WONG: Right. The--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are we seeing him-- he-- he's kind of shopping for options?
EDWARD WONG: I think the stated policy is full denuclearization. I think what we're seeing in this administration maybe in a future administration is that there might have to be a tacit acceptance of the fact that North Korea is a nuclear power. It's unstated like with Israel. But-- but that these administrations will have to accept that and figure out how to deal with the nuclear North Korea.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to go to you, Antjuan, on this next. I want to play for all of you what former Vice President Joe Biden came out the day after the debate and said regarding his past record on forced busing.
JOE BIDEN: I want to be absolutely clear about my record and position on racial justice, including busing. I never, never, never ever opposed voluntary busing.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How big of a misstep was this truly?
ANTJUAN SEAWRIGHT: I don't know if it was a misstep, but I do think the vice president and his team are going to have to make some adjustments going forward. Look, this country and our party has been shaped by the experiences of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. And I think we can't lose sight of that, but I also think that we can't ignore or turn the volume down on how the experiences of Kamala Harris and how she's been impacted by this throughout her life. But I will also say that sometimes, a moment doesn't mean it's transferable to several moments in the future, and I think that's what we all have to keep in mind. This was one debate. Joe Biden has a strong body of work on issues that have been pro civil rights and for the improvement of quality life for African-Americans just like Senator Harris. And I think we just have to get back focused to the big picture and that is quality-of-life issues and how we go forward.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Shannon, the issue-- racial issues, though, are coming up on-- on the Trump side of things, as well. Donald Trump Jr. sent out a tweet this week that questioned whether Kamala Harris was, quote, "An American black."
SHANNON PETTYPIECE: Right. It almost sounds reminiscent of the birther argument--
ANTJUAN SEAWRIGHT: Absolutely.
SHANNON PETTYPIECE: --as many people have pointed out in 2016. And, of course, with an administration that does not have a great track record with race and has really worked to try and overcome the people, good people on both sides' image, they are trying to sell hard the economic argument about black unemployment, Hispanic unemployment, you know, cri-- criminal justice reform. But I do think they miss sometimes that with issues of race it's not always dollars and cents, and it's not always about, you know, we give you money and jobs. There is a, you know, a-- a moral sense here and a-- a sense of self, too, that if you degrade people in that way, no matter what you can give them financially it's not going to overcome that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Ramesh, do we need to hear from more Republicans on this? Most of all the Democrat competitors to Kamala Harris have come out in support of her.
RAMESH PONNURU: Well, I don't think that Republicans are afraid of having an argument about busing in the 1970s. Let's recall, busing was unpopular with white Americans--
MARGARET BRENNAN: But on this issue.
RAMESH PONNURU: --not terribly popular among black Americans. It's bizarre that the Democrats have latched on to this if they're not-- I mean, it's not like they're trying to bring it back. On the Republican side, you've got the fundamental problem that you've got a presidency that is not especially sensitive on racial matters, not necessarily thinking about a demographic future with the changing racial composition of this country and you've got congressional Republicans who don't really want to take him on. That's just the way it's been for three years now.
ANTJUAN SEAWRIGHT: Margaret, your question was about--
MARGARET BRENNAN: The tweet.
ANTJUAN SEAWRIGHT: --the tweet.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I am-- unfortunately, no, you're right. Thanks, Antjuan. But I am running out of time here so I've got to take a break.
We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thanks for watching. Until next week for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.