On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. (watch)
- Ed O'Keefe, CBS News political correspondent ( )
- Sen. John Kennedy, R-La. ( )
- John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado ( )
- Andrew McCabe, former FBI deputy director ( )
- William Burns, former deputy secretary of state (watch)
- Panelists: David Frum, Susan Glasser, Toluse Olorunnipa, and Gerald Seib (watch)
Clickto browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, March 10. I'm Margaret Brennan. And this is FACE THE NATION.
They're off and running in campaign 2020.
BERNIE SANDERS: This campaign with your help is about transforming this country and creating an economy and a government that works for all, not just the one percent.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So what's different about this field from years past?
AMY KLOBUCHAR: I always like to jokingly say, "May the best woman win."
MARGARET BRENNAN: And why have some ideological differences become dirty words for Democrats?
ED O'KEEFE: So in these questions of capitalist versus socialist, we'll put you down as a capitalist?
AMY KLOBUCHAR: Put me down as a capitalist.
ED O'KEEFE: So if you get labeled as a socialist--
ELIZABETH WARREN: Well, it's just wrong.
JOE SCARBOROUGH (MSNBC, MORNING JOE): Would you call yourself a proud capitalist?
JOHN HICKENLOOPER (MSNBC, MORNING JOE): Oh, I don't know. You know, again, the labels, I'm not sure if any of them fit.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Our Ed O'Keefe asked Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren about her proposal to break up big technology companies. And we'll also hear from another 2020 candidate, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. And as Washington awaits developments in the investigations into the Trump administration and the 2016 campaign, the President's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, defends himself against accusations that he had lied to Congress for a second time.
MICHAEL COHEN (February 27): I have never asked for nor would I accept a pardon from President Trump.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (Friday): Michael Cohen lied about the pardon and that's a stone-cold lie.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The President later tweeted that Cohen, quote, "directly asked me for a pardon. I said NO." We'll talk to former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and a key presidential defender on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Louisiana's John Kennedy.
Plus, we'll have analysis on all the news of the week coming up on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning. And welcome to FACE THE NATION. We begin this morning with the already packed field of potential candidates for 2020, and there are signs that former Vice President Joe Biden is planning to enter the race next month. A new poll out this morning shows him leading in Iowa with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders close behind. A handful of those candidates appeared over the weekend at the SXSW festival in Austin. CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe caught up with one of the big names in the race--Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren; and asked about her new proposal to break up tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook.
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN (D-Massachusetts/@ewarren): The giant tech companies right now are eating up little tiny businesses, start-ups, and competing unfairly. Look at it this way: Someone like Amazon runs a platform, you know, the place where you buy your coffeemaker and get it delivered in forty-eight hours. And that's great. But in addition to that, they're sucking up all that information about every purchase, every sale, and every one of the other little businesses that are offering their products on Amazon, and when Amazon sees one that's profitable, they say, hmm, I think we'll go into business against them now that they've got all this extra information. And they put their own business out there to compete on selling coffeemakers, put themselves on page one, put the competitor back on page six, and the competitor's business is just gone. So what I'm saying is we've got to break these guys apart. You want to run a platform, that's fine. You don't get to run a whole bunch of the businesses as well. You want to run a business, that's fine. You don't get to run the platform. Think of it this way: It's like in baseball. You can be the umpire or you can own one of the teams, but you don't get to be the umpire and own the teams.
ED O'KEEFE (CBS News Political Correspondent/@edokeefe): And let me just get this clear, if you had your way, Facebook would have to sell off Instagram.
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: Mm-Mm.
ED O'KEEFE: Amazon would have to sell off Whole Foods.
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: All those little businesses that they're running, competing businesses. Yep.
ED O'KEEFE: Who-- who is the federal government to tell these companies they have to do that?
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: There's anti-trust law. It's been around for more than a hundred years. And the federal government has done this many times, for example, broke up Standard Oil, broke up the-- the great monopolies of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. And the reason for that is so that we can keep a competitive economy.
ED O'KEEFE: This idea has gotten a lot of criticism.
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: From?
ED O'KEEFE: Howard Schultz--
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: Yeah.
ED O'KEEFE: --the guy who's thinking about running as an independent.
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: A billionaire, right?
ED O'KEEFE: Yes.
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: Uh-huh.
ED O'KEEFE: And he-- he suggested that your proposal is, quote, "Inconsistent with our free enterprise system" and said that "it's emblematic of Democrats imposing," his word, "fantasy ideas that will never be implemented," and that, instead, perhaps you could just find ways to discuss with these companies ways to make it more competitive.
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: You mean we could ask these multibillion-dollar companies nicely if they would not eat up the competition and just behave better in the marketplace. Really? We've had laws around against antitrust activity and predatory pricing for over a hundred years because we understand that the way markets work are when there's real competition in that market.
ED O'KEEFE: And you know that this kind of proposal feeds into the arguments that Republicans have been making to label Democrats as anti-capitalist adopting these socialist ideas.
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: The reality is it is not capitalism to have one giant that comes in and dominates, a monopolist that dominates a market. What I have supported all the way through are the kinds of things that help level the playing field. So I think a level playing field says that the big guys have to pay kind of like everybody else does and they have to pay to help create some opportunities--
ED O'KEEFE: But you know you're getting labeled and you're getting coupled in with a few of your other Democratic contenders as someone who supports socialist ideas. Can we-- do we describe you as a capitalist? What's the best--
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: Yeah.
ED O'KEEFE: --way to describe you?
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: I believe in markets. Markets that work. Markets that have a cop on the beat and have real rules and everybody follows them. I believe in a level playing field.
ED O'KEEFE: So if you get labeled as a socialist--
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: Well, it's just wrong.
ED O'KEEFE: Silicon Valley has, obviously, been a reliable source of Democratic financial support especially in recent cycles. Given this proposal, are you going to decline financial support from tech executives or tech employees if they decide to give to your campaign?
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: Look, nobody has been beating down the door. But let me be clear I'm not in Washington to work for billionaires. I'm in Washington to help level the playing field so that everybody gets a chance to get out there and compete. Right now with giants like Amazon and-- and Google and Facebook, do you know how venture capitals talk about the space around them? They call it the kill zone because they don't want to fund businesses in that space because they know Amazon will eat them up, Facebook will eat them up, Google will eat them up. We need a chance for every one of the young people in that room to thrive, to get their idea out there and if it turns out to be the next Google, good for them.
ED O'KEEFE: You said nobody is beating down the door. How is fundraising going for you?
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: As far as I know it's going great. You know, it's a lot of small dollar fundraisers and here's been the fun part, I've actually been calling people who donated twenty five dollars, five dollars, fifty dollars, ten dollars and had some great conversations with folks. I get a chance to ask them why you've gotten-- what-- what pulled you into this? And people talk about the things that matter most to them.
ED O'KEEFE: The House this past week had the vote on a resolution condemning hate of all sorts because of what one congresswoman had said, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
REPRESENTATIVE ILHAN OMAR (March 5): I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.
ED O'KEEFE: Well, many consider it anti-Semitic. Others said it's being misinterpreted. What's your view on what she said?
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: Look, my view is that we condemn anti-Semitism and Islamophobia wherever it appears. We are a democracy and in a democracy we have to talk about our differences. We need to do so with respect. But, ultimately, we need to hammer out the best policies for this country and that means a lot of frank and full discussion.
ED O'KEEFE: Was she unfairly targeted?
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: Right now what we've got is a condemnation of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and other forms of hatred. Hatred is not how we build a democratic dialogue.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Ed's full interview with Senator Warren is available on our website, facethenation.com.
Now, the latest candidate to enter the race to beat President Trump is former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. He announced his candidacy Thursday.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D-Former Colorado Governor/@Hickenlooper/Thursday): I'm not the first person in the race or the most well-known person in the race. But let me tell you, at four syllables and twelve letters, "Hickenlooper" is now the biggest name in the race.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And now the biggest name in the race joins us live from Austin. Governor, welcome to FACE THE NATION.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Thanks for having me on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it a good idea to do what Senator Warren is advocating there with breaking up big tech companies?
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think you've got to look at the-- the environment and-- and how the system is working. And for you know-- for several decades now, increasingly, people in the middle class and poor people in this country haven't had the security and opportunity that our economic system used to create for them. So what is the reason why we're seeing such a large number decline in the number of startups? People starting businesses? And maybe some of that is due to these large companies that, you know, usually when someone's going to start a business they're already a successful employee somewhere. Maybe they're looking at that landscape and saying, ah. These companies are too big I can't get in. And I think that's one of the arguments that she's trying to make. We have to make sure that we have a competitive system whereby little guys feel they've got an in-- an honest, a decent chance to succeed.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you do think tech companies have too much influence over the economy?
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: No I'm-- what I'm saying is that they are, in many circumstances, becoming so large they make it harder for small companies to compete. I'm not-- again to make a blanket statement about all tech companies, you know they're too big, I think that would be a-- a little bit over, going too far. But I do think it's legitimate to say, how do we make sure that we have more competition in such a way that we encourage, you know, people to start their own businesses? That's what job creation happens is-- is when you get small businesses-- you know, people like me. I got laid off and I ended up starting, first one restaurant company, then another restaurant company then, you know, I took old warehouses and turned them into loft projects. But we created thousands of jobs in that process and we're able to, you know, stimulate a whole part of Denver and-- and others, you know, cities and towns across the Midwest. That's what drives this country and always has and-- and we're seeing a decline in the number of people willing to start up businesses.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I-- I want to offer you the chance to clear something up here because you did an interview earlier in the week where you were asked three times if you would call yourself a proud capitalist and you wouldn't directly answer the question. It led Howard Schultz, who's possibly a candidate to say, "If even a successful businessman and entrepreneur like Governor Hickenlooper can't openly support capitalism the Democratic primary, it's clear this is Senator Sanders' party now." Why are you uncomfortable calling yourself a proud capitalist?
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Well, I've been-- the point I was making is that we defined people by these labels that-- that often have all kinds of associations and baggage with them in that sense. Do I believe in small business? Of course, I believe in small business. I started probably more than twenty different small businesses. I'd have-- you know, in-- in one year I'd have over a million customers. I understand that. But what's happening-- I think it's kind of a silly question. We should be looking at some of the reasons be-- behind why we have less and less startups.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Sure.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: We should look at some of the reasons why, you know, more and more people aren't wanting to start a business.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Sure. But you understand that--
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: But--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --it is a main Republican talking point to label Democrats right now as anti-business socialists.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Right. But that's ridiculous, obviously there are--
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you would reject that.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: --the Democratic Party is a big tent.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You reject that label.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Yes. Absolutely. I think that's not accurate. And I think that, as your interview with Elizabeth Warren showed, there are all kinds of-- of-- of different people making up the Democratic Party. Do I believe in-- in free markets? Do I believe that, you know, you put capital to work to-- to create jobs and-- and improve your community? You know back when I was a kid, businesses understood the part of their job wasn't just to make as much profit as they could but it was to create the community. Once you get back into these labels, am I a capitalist? Am I a socialist? How much of-- how much of a capitalist--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: --am I versus how much of a socialist? That becomes kind of silly doesn't it?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well--
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: I mean--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --if--
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: --in a funny way--
MARGARET BRENNAN: The other candidates were comfortable answering the question so I wanted to offer you a chance to-- to answer it. I understand you're not comfortable directly answering it.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: I-- I--
MARGARET BRENNAN: But I want to move on to some--
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Well, I-- I'm comfortable. I'm hap--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Go ahead.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Let me just-- I'm happy to say I'm a capitalist but I think at a certain point the labels do nothing but divide us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: And what I'm trying to build this campaign around, is to say that as a country we've got to stop finding every excuse to divide ourselves--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Point taken.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: --and begin working together because we've got some big issues to make.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Point taken. In terms of your platform I understand you support universal health care not necessarily Medicaid for all-- Medicare for all. You've supported some free trade deals in the past like NAFTA. You've touted your executive experience in a field full of legislators here. You don't like labels but you sound like more of a centrist. How do you keep the Democratic Party from splintering further?
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Well, try-- if I've tried to avoid these all the labeling that goes on. You know, I mean, I'm running for President because I believe I could beat Donald Trump but I also believe that can bring us together on the other side and begin getting stuff done. And that's one thing I think that I bring to the table is I'm a doer. I'm not someone who's-- I mean I'm a dreamer too and I-- I believe in big visions. We've done some amazing things in Colorado. I mean we've almost got universal health care coverage in Colorado now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: We've addressed some of the biggest root causes of-- of climate change. We've taken this-- our economy from fortieth in job creation to being the number one economy in the country for the last--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER: --couple of years. Those are things that I think should be models on who the next, you know, what the next president needs to be able to demonstrate that they can do things.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. Well, Governor, thank you very much for joining us.
We'll be tracking the race and we will be back in one minute with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe standing by.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back with former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He is the author of a new book, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump. Good to have you here.
ANDREW MCCABE (Former Acting FBI Director/The Threat): Thanks so much for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to start you off on some of the news of the week.
ANDREW MCCABE: Okay.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced this week. He will also face sentencing in a DC court in the days to come. He was given forty-seven months, far less than what is the sentencing guideline of up to--
ANDREW MCCABE: That's right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --twenty-plus years? Is the length of time he will serve matching the crimes he's being accused of?
ANDREW MCCABE: Well, I was really surprised by the sentence he was given. I think it's an incredibly lenient sentence in light not just of the-- of the offenses he was convicted for but the additional offenses that he has pled guilty to in DC and the offenses he's acknowledged, essentially, in the sentencing process in Virginia, that he is res-- responsible for. So like most people I was shocked by how lenient the sentence was.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So it sounds like you're predicting that the DC court may add to those forty-seven months?
ANDREW MCCABE: Well, there's no question he's going to get additional time from DC. I don't think it's probably the-- the job of the DC courts to rectify a mistake or-- or something that was done in another jurisdiction. I'm sure that Judge Jackson will approach her sentence with just keeping our eye on the facts of that case but there's no doubt he'll get additional time from that process.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In your book The Threat you write about some of the President's public comments about Paul Manafort in particular and you frame it in one passage as possible witness tampering. You say you fear a judge will be influenced by some of the po-- the President's comments. Did you have any sense that that's what happened here with Judge Ellis?
ANDREW MCCABE: I don't. I don't. But the point that I try to make in the book is that it's to try to highlight how incredibly irresponsible and, indeed, corrosive statements like that from the chief executive are on the process and on the public's perception of the fairness and the effectiveness of the process. When the President engages in messaging like people can't help but step back and ask themselves that question that you just asked, did that have an impact on the process or on the result in this case. We don't know the answer to that but it introduces a level of doubt and insecurity into a system that we all need to depend on-- depend upon to being fair and-- and free.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The charges that Paul Manafort faced were in regard to financial crimes. Do you believe that he was a Russian asset?
ANDREW MCCABE: I don't know the answer to that. I think that Mister Manafort's extensive involvement with Ukrainian and Russian actors is highly suspicious. I think that that's something that we'll wait to see what the Mueller team opines on with their-- with their final conclusion.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Because the President seized on a comment made by Judge Ellis who seemed to be just pointing out that the Russian potential links were not actually part of the trial--
ANDREW MCCABE: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --that we have seen underway here. So you're saying there the President's comments were not actually accurate.
ANDREW MCCABE: Well, that-- that shouldn't be a surprise. I think that Judge Ellis was very careful to indicate that he was sentencing Mister Manafort for the conduct that was before him. And he-- Mister Manafort was not charged in that case with being an agent for the government of Russia. So I think-- I think Judge Ellis's efforts to be careful and tailor his words are far from an exoneration of Mister Manafort on any other potential charges.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you as well about Michael Cohen, the President's longtime attorney and we played in the open some of the-- the tapes showing the changing stories here in regard to--
ANDREW MCCABE: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --whether there was discussion or not of a presidential pardon. Now it appears according to the President that it was discussed. As an investigator, what do you make of that?
ANDREW MCCABE: Very, very hard to sort through a basically he said-- he said argument between two people who have very challenged credibility. At the end of the day, the strength of Michael Cohen's testimony-- potential testimony is derived not from what he's telling us now but rather from whatever facts and corroborative evidence the prosecutors were able to glean from that treasure trove of documents and recordings and other things that we've heard so much about.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You're saying, don't take him at his word, take him by the evidence he presents.
ANDREW MCCABE: That's right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I-- I want to ask you as well because, of course, the President constantly mentions the credibility that you have--
ANDREW MCCABE: Sure.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --and calls that into question, specifically, on the texts between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, which is something the President often comments on. You were asked about this on CNN by Anderson Cooper and you said you had no recollection of the meeting that was referred to in one of the text exchange between those two individuals which mentioned an insurance policy in case Trump got elected. Do you know why you were personally mentioned in those texts?
ANDREW MCCABE: I don't. Lisa Page, Pete Strzok, and I and many other members of that investigative team met in my office, in conference rooms around FBI headquarters all the time. Right? So it was a-- it was a ve-- intensive investigation that required a lot of attention and a lot of involvement. So I can't sit here and tell you years later the circumstances of exactly that instance that they seem to be referring to in that text. I also wasn't a participant in that text, so I can't add too much more to your understanding of it. I know that Peter has described in his own congressional testimony what he was referring to and I take him at his word for that description.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Because the-- the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham, has been on this program, specifically, referred to those texts and said that it is proof that you along with Strzok and Page showed political bias and a political agenda. And that's why he wants to call you before the committee to ask-- to answer some questions. So one of the other texts there was a quote that said, "We need to open the case we've been waiting on now while Andy is acting." You, while you were acting FBI director. Do you know what case this is? Why would it matter that you were in that acting role?
ANDREW MCCABE: Well, again, I-- I can't tell you what Lisa and Pete were referring to in their private texts. I think I've been very clear publicly about how the investigators felt about the work that we needed to do--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
ANDREW MCCABE: --in May of 2017. After Director Comey was fired, they made a recommendation to me that we open cases. I acted on that recommendation. I was feeling-- I felt very strongly at that time that I needed to make those decisions quickly--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
ANDREW MCCABE: --because I anticipated I would not be in the acting role for very long and I didn't know who would be coming in behind me or how they would handle the ongoing investigation that we thought was important to conclude.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you very much--
ANDREW MCCABE: Sure.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --Mister McCabe.
We'll be back in a moment for some Republican reaction.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Louisiana Republican Senator John Kennedy who is in New Orleans this morning. Senator, I want to give you a chance to respond to Andy McCabe.
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY (R-Louisiana/@SenJohnKennedy): Let me-- let me say first, Margaret, I'm-- I'm still in a bit of a stupor at Mayor Hickenlooper's shame at having once been a capitalist. I can't. I've seen it all now. But I'll save that for another day. Mister McCabe. Mister McCabe is one of the people responsible for politicizing the premiere law enforcement agency in the history of-- of-- of the world, the FBI. He's not the only one. But it's clear that he and others in 2016, some were for Trump, some were for Clinton. But-- but they acted on their political beliefs and they hurt the FBI badly for that. All of them.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We got to--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Not just Mister McCabe but all of them. We should hang their head in shame and hang their head-- put their head in the bag.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, this needs more conversation. We're going to take a quick break. I want to talk to you more about this in just a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We continue our conversation now with Louisiana Republican Senator John Kennedy.
Senator, before we took this break you were responding to Andrew McCabe, the former deputy FBI director who has described himself as a lifelong Republican, but laid out here--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Mm-Hm.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --his deep concern about the President and his actions.
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Well, let me-- let me say it again. There were and perhaps still are some people at the FBI, one of whom was Mister McCabe, who helped politicize the agency. When-- when an FBI agent knocks at your door, you shouldn't have to worry about whether you're a Democrat or a Republican and whether that makes a difference. And-- and Mister McCabe has helped politicize that agency and-- and that's wrong. He-- he really-- he should be ashamed and he should hide his head in-- in a bag. And we-- we have got to--
MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you mean politicize?
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: --clean house over there.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Clean house? What do you mean by that?
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Well, he has-- Mister Mc-- Mister McCabe-- well let me back up and say this, Margaret. I'm talking about people over there who were both for Trump and for Clinton. Now they are entitled to have a personal opinion but they're not entitled to act on it or leave the-- the impression that they acted on it. And-- and I think McCabe did that. I think he's part of a group over there that think they were-- they-- they think they're smarter and more virtuous than the American people. And-- and I think it hurt the FBI badly. Mister McCabe is also in-- at the present time, playing the role of huckster. He's trying to-- to sell a book. And he was fired for lying to his-- his fellow FBI agents.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well that--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Now if you and I lied to the FBI we go to jail. If you-- if an FBI agent--
MARGARET BRENNAN: I think-- I think Mister McCabe was--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: --like him lies to the FBI--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --dismissed--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: --you get fired.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --just-- just short of his ability to actually get his pension. Some would say it was a politically motivated firing of him.
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: He's lucky-- he's lucky he wasn't prosecuted, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: For what?
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: And I'm not saying this because McCabe--
MARGARET BRENNAN: For what?
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: --is, obviously, pro-Trump. I think there were--
MARGARET BRENNAN: What would he have been prosecuted for?
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: --people for pro-Clinton. For perjury. For lying to an FBI agent. He did it repeatedly. Now if you and I do that we go to jail.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you calling--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: And he-- he just got fired. He was lucky.
MARGARET BRENNAN: "And-- and so I guess this is a preview of the questioning that we will hear of him before the Senate Judiciary Committee if he is called to testify," Senator Graham has said. But I want to ask you about, since you sit on that committee--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Mm-Hm.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --as well. The sentencing we saw this week of a Trump campaign chairman-- former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. He was charged with an array of felonies, financial crimes. Federal sentencing guidelines would have had him serving upwards of twenty years. He got forty-seven months. Does the punishment fit the array of crimes?
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: All right. Before I answer your question, let me be clear about Mister McCabe. I don't care whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. If you're at the FBI you're not supposed to act on it. Mister McCabe did and I believe he's one bent two by four. Now number two, Mister Manafort--
MARGARET BRENNAN: What. Sorry. Can I just--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Three points. Number one--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Can I just clarify there you in the past have said, I thought, that you supported the Mueller probe? McCabe had helped to set up some of the special counsel there, specifically, to look at the question of whether the President was--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: I do-- I do support--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --a Russian asset.
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: I do support the Mueller probe. I do support the Mueller probe but that doesn't preclude Mister McCabe from being what he is, a bent two by four. And he hurt the FBI badly and all the people over there who tried to help Clinton or who tried to help Trump, every one of them should have his head in the bag. They hurt the premiere law enforcement agency in all of human history and we're going to have to spend a lot of time rehabilitating it. The American people don't trust it as much as I used to. And that's wrong.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you say you still support the Mueller probe--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: And your politics shouldn't matter--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --itself. Can you--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Yes, I do. Yes, I do.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --answer the question though on-- on Paul Manafort--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Manafort? Three points.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --because he was charged with an array of felonies--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Manafort. Number--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --because of the Special Counsel's case.
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Number one-- number one, I was surprised at his sentence, I thought it would be longer. Number two, as I said in the past, Mister Manafort is a grifter. He used to be a partner with-- with Roger Stone. He's-- I'm sorry, Margaret. He's just a sleazoid. I mean he's always played at the margins. Number three, you know rather than just be opinionated I'd rather be informed. Judge-- Judge Ellis has been on the bench thirty years. I haven't read the sentencing memos.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: He, obviously, believed four years was enough. I might disagree with him but I'd have to read the sentencing memos first--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Does it trouble you--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: --because there's a lot of stuff in there that you and I don't see.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Lastly, does it trouble you that the President admitted that he had discussed a presidential pardon with Michael Cohen? Should he have been discussing that in an investigation--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: It--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --he's involved in?
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: It-- well, as I understand it, at least part of the story, Margaret, is that Cohen and/or his lawyers approached the President and asked for a pardon.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The President said it happened--
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Now Mister Cohen--
MARGARET BRENNAN: --directly in a direct conversation. That's what the President said.
SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY: Well, that-- that-- okay. That-- Mister Cohen once again in front of Congress lied then. He said that never happened. And I think with Mister Cohen, given his checkered past, if he's-- if he's breathing he's lying. But, yeah, I mean I guess I don't blame Cohen for asking. It was inappropriate but he shouldn't have lied to Congress about it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, good to talk to you today.
We will be right back with our panel.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to our panel for some political analysis. David Frum writes for The Atlantic, Susan Glasser covers the presidency and foreign policy for The New Yorker, Gerry Seib is the executive Washington editor for The Wall Street Journal, and Toluse Olorunnipa covers the White House for The Washington Post. Toluse, did I get it right?
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA (The Washington Post/@ToluseO): You were pretty close. Olorunnipa.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Every time. One of these days I will get it right. Let's start off with just some of what we heard here. Two 2020 presidential candidates and then one of the things you're going to hear a lot about on the-- the campaign trail, which is the, you know, food fight other the-- the Mueller probe and interpretation surrounding it. Toluse, what did-- what did you hear from the candidates?
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: I thought it was really striking to hear Governor Hickenlooper really try to position himself when it come-- came to capitalism versus socialism. He struggled earlier in the week. When he was asked about it, he struggled. When you asked him about it, he sort of tried to talk about party labels and how labels should-- should not be the focus, but just being able to say, "I am a capitalist," when, as you mentioned, Republicans are really trying and going all in on trying to brand Democrats as socialists for a former businessman and a former governor who has not really toyed around with socialist ideas in the past, for him to struggle. It shows that the Democrats are really figuring-- trying to figure out how to approach this issue of whether or not capitalism works. And we heard a little bit of-- about that from Senator Warren. She did say that she does believe in markets and she does believe that capitalism is a positive program when you do have the right rules in place.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: But it is when you have Bernie Sanders getting very big crowds, it's hard for Democrats to figure out sort of how to talk about socialism versus capitalism, and they are going to be hit from the right from Republicans and from the President saying that all of them are socialists.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. I'd--
DAVID FRUM (The Atlantic/@davidfrum): As a Republican, I just marvel at how Democrats trip over their own shoelaces on this. We had President Trump tweet that the communist economy of North Korea under the dynamic leadership of its dictatorial leader could achieve unprecedented economic growth. The President routinely picks favorites among com-- companies. He is erecting tariff walls, which are taxes on American exporters, and Democrats can't figure out how to defend a market economy with social insurance programs and let this guy claim the mantle of the champion of free enterprise? Really?
GERALD SEIB (The Wall Street Journal/@GeraldFSeib): So there is a much more interesting drama beneath the surface that's going on among Democrats, which is where is the energy in the party?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
GERALD SEIB: Why did we really succeed in 2018? There is an a narrative that says we succeeded because the progressive left was full of energy and was out making this happen. We took control of the House because of that. And centrists in the party are going crazy, saying, "No, no, that's not what happened in 2018." What happened in 2018 was Republicans, soft Republicans, suburban women, in districts that Donald Trump carried in 2016, moved over to our side. These were moderate voters that won the House back for us in 2018 in states like Pennsylvania and-- and Minnesota and Virginia. And those are the people we have to go after. And they are not going to be won over with a socialist message. They are moderates, and those are the people who will make the difference in 2020. That's the debate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It's an interesting-- it's an interesting theory of the case to go into the California primary advocating for breaking up some of California's biggest businesses, too. What-- what do you make of Warren's strategy there?
SUSAN GLASSER (The New Yorker/@sbg1): Well, it's-- it-- I agree with that. I think there's-- there's two things to unpack here. One is that Senator Warren is a very accomplished promoter of her ideas and of her ideology. But I think the other thing that's happening in the Democratic Party right now is the Trump style of politics is being introduced.
GERALD SEIB: Mm-Hm.
SUSAN GLASSER: So you have, basically, the debate of ideas and-- and Gerry is right there is a huge debate inside the party about the best way to appeal to the voters that they need to appeal to in order to defeat Trump. That's one debate. But it's not purely about ideas. Right? A lot of it is about style. And that's where I think you see the most pronounced shift. Are we headed towards a tea party of the left? I think that's what connects the dots between some of what's happening inside Congress this week and what's happening with some of these 2020 candidates. And you see people like John Hickenlooper visibly uncomfortable with the new style of politics. Elizabeth Warren, I think, is a very interesting character, right? Her politics are not wildly different from those of Bernie Sanders', but her style is dramatically different. You know, on your show, I was just struck by how calm and measured she is, how very-- you know, she is, remember, a former Harvard law school professor. And she-- she appears to be that way, and-- and it's very different than the sort of Bernie Sanders, you know, shouting politics. And I think that's what, fundamentally, as much as ideology, is a conflict around the kind of party. Are we going to have a demagogue of the left to take upon a populist right-wing demagogue, which is what the President of the United States is basically.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Toluse, how do we understand the showdown among House Democrats over Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's remarks?
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: Yeah. House Democrats did not want to spend this week talking about anti-Semitism. They had a number of different bills that they were putting through, but because they are struggling with this inter-nesting battle between the progressives-- the progressives and the base and the moderates and the leadership that is a little bit older, you have religious lines, you have racial lines, you have generational lines that the-- the Democrats are struggling over. And they haven't quite figured out how to balance the very diverse class that they have. And I think that's part of the reason you saw Nancy Pelosi wanting to start off with a very tough resolution, specifically, comment-- on Ilhan Omar's comments, but then she got a lot of pushback from 2020 candidates, from some of the progressive base who said that this was unfairly singling out, you know, a Muslim congresswoman, one of the few African-American women in Congress, and one of the few freshman in the Congress. And I think that was part of the reason that they decided to make it a much more broad statement and looked at not only anti-Semitism, but anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-LGBT action.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: And I think that was part of the reason why the Democrats spent the whole week sort of trying to figure out where they can find some sort of balance in-- in the party.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Dave, this was red meat for Republicans, certainly, the President. He tried to label Democrats anti-Jewish.
DAVID FRUM: He-- he did try that, which is certainly eyebrow-- eyebrow-raising. I think what is going on here is that when you have a big intake in-- in any party in a year, you-- you pick up a lot of people who are ready for primetime and a lot of people who are not. And I think one of the questions that is going to face progressive Democrats is, who here wants to be inside the building making the decisions, and who wants to be outside the building carrying the placards? And that people will pick different career paths. I think you can see from the extraordinarily careful and targeted and self-effacing questioning that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did in the co-- Cohen hearings versus the unbelievably, undisciplined repeated provocative remarks of Ilhan Omar and the rather sad defenses of her by Democratic leadership, you know, you have to understand she doesn't quite know what words mean. If you don't know what words mean, Congress may be the line-- wrong line of work for you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, David, I want to ask you, to tee up the piece you just wrote for The Atlantic.
DAVID FRUM: Mm-Hm. Yes. Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Great read. But it's a topic that kind of touches some of these very hot-button issues, as well, crossing race, crossing a number of things that seem to even divide Democrats--
DAVID FRUM: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --and this is how to deal with the challenge of population growth and influx of people either across the board or just into this country.
DAVID FRUM: So one of the things that is a real casualty of the Trump years, the article's about immigration and argues, specifically, that the United States and other developed countries from a social point of view need less of it even as their economies are clamoring for more of it. And-- and the argument of the piece is this is about preserving social stability. What has happened is immigration, and I blame President Trump for this, has become a culture war issue rather than a social stability issue. And so it's not a binary question. It's not, you know, open the borders or have none. And it's not something you can-- any one country can manage on its own without reference to other countries. Immigration is a system. And you have to manage it as a system. And our ability and when I say our, not just America, but across-- you see this across the developed world, to think rationally about things to-- to stand up for the interest of the citizens of the country, that's who you-- governments answer to, not to the world but to their own citizens. How do you-- how do you do something that stands the test and is not just driven by the imperatives of business. The-- I think the greatest single line ever written about these problems, written by a Swiss writer who said, we wanted workers, we got people instead. And I think we need to understand that you are choosing the future population of your country. If you choose wisely, immigration can be a great source of strength. If you choose poorly, it can rip your society apart and empower the most extreme elements in your own society.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you say this as an immigrant yourself.
DAVID FRUM: And I am-- I am born in Canada. I was naturalized in 2007.
GERALD SEIB: You know, I-- I think what everybody knows and nobody will actually acknowledge is that the problem here isn't immigration, it's the immigration system is broken. It doesn't work. It hasn't really been upgraded since 1986. If everybody would step back from the emotion, they would agree that what's needed is comprehensive immigration reform, not this many immigrants or that many immigrants. That's not happening. And that's the-- that's the problem of the paralysis in this city, I think.
SUSAN GLASSER: Well, it's the death of, you know, technocracy is the death of rational policy debate.
GERALD SEIB: Right.
SUSAN GLASSER: I mean, you know, you can have all the reasonable, rational arguments you want for immigration reform. It's interesting I had a conversation the other day with a former senior official in the Bush administration, was that the key domestic policy failure of the Bush administration, putting aside the Iraq war, was to not pursue comprehensive immigration reform, but to go for Social Security reform first. I think we'll all look back on that the deal that was available then, obviously, we would be in a very different place in our politics right now had that occurred.
DAVID FRUM: The comprehensive immigration reform usually is code for more. And the right answer is less. And that right answer is not zero, but the right answer is less, it seems to me. And, yes, it's true, that tech-- technocracy and evidence-based decision making, it's had bad bunch of innings. And people who advocate this-- this approach, we have a lot of failures on our hands. I mean we're watching the Brexit debate, that's a reaction to, you know, the financial crisis, into the Euro crisis and Euro failures, the failures of the Iraq war and the Bush administration, which I was at par. But for all its failures prejudice and impulsiveness and yelling at people and sym-- and symbols, that has an even worse record than-- than evidence-based decision making.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. Well, immigration can be its own show another day. We have so much more to talk about, but we have to leave it there. Thanks to all of you.
We're going to be back with more FACE THE NATION in just a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We're now joined by former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. He's the author of a new book, The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for Its Renewal. Welcome to FACE THE NATION.
WILLIAM BURNS (Former Deputy Secretary of State/The Back Channel): Margaret, it's great to be with you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I hope this isn't saying that American diplomacy is dead.
WILLIAM BURNS: No, it's not dead at all. In fact, I think it matters more than ever on today's international landscape, which is a lot more crowded and competitive in some ways than ever before. My concern is just that I think we're drifting right now, and that's the case for renewing diplomacy.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I-- I want to ask you, specifically, on the topic of Russia, because you spent a lot of time in Russia. You speak Russian. And you had a number of documents declassified for the book that you wrote, revealing private conversations you had. And one of them, you write about a one-on-one you had with Vladimir Putin in 2007. It stands out because he, essentially, to you, to your face, threatened the U.S. if the U.S. interfered in their elections, saying, "Don't think we won't react to outside interference." In hindsight, was that a preview of what happened in 2016?
WILLIAM BURNS: It was a little bit of a preview, I think. You know, I mean, Putin is a very combustible combination I think of grievance and ambition and insecurity, and he's convinced that the United States has been trying to undermine his regime and the Kremlin, you know, going back to the color revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia fifteen years ago. Now the truth, of course, is is those revolutions were about Ukrainians and Georgian, not Americans, but Putin came to their conviction that we were out to undermine him. And Putin and my experience is an apostle of payback, and so when he saw an opportunity in 2016 to take advantage of dysfunction and polarization in our own political system and interfere and sow chaos, he took advantage of it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You talk a lot about the Trump administration towards the end of the book. And when it comes to Vladimir Putin, you, basically, say the President has a very wrong-headed approach to think that flattery or trying to be friends with Putin is going to get him anywhere.
WILLIAM BURNS: No. I mean, I think foreign policy diplomacy, as you well know, is about advancing American interests. It's not about getting along with people. And I think if you saw the, you know, the summit press conference between Trump and Putin in Helsinki, what you saw was, you know, really embarrassing attempt by President Trump to ingratiate himself with Putin and throw his own intelligence and law enforcement agencies under the bus. I think Putin reads that as a sign of manipulability, a sign of weakness, that he'll try to take advantage of.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Now I-- I want to point out to our viewers because, you know, you're-- you're not a talking head. You're a career diplomat.
WILLIAM BURNS: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You did this for thirty-three years, five Presidents, ten secretaries of state you served under. You speak Russian, you speak Arabic, you speak French, you've got slew of awards from the Intel community and the State Department, and they lay that out to-- to say, you were very careful in choosing your words. And when you write about the Trump administration, you say it has "…diminished American influence on a shifting international landscape, hollowed out American diplomacy, and only deepened the divisions among the Americans about our global role." Has the President hurt U.S. national security?
WILLIAM BURNS: Well, I-- I am concerned that just as I wrote in the book that what you're seeing in this administration, especially from President Trump himself, is a worldview and a set of actions that are undermining our stature and our influence in the world. And it has real corrosive effect right now, I think. The truth is President Trump didn't invent a lot of the problems on that landscape or a lot of concerns within our own society, but I think he's making them worse right now, too. This is a moment when the United States is no longer the only big kid on the geopolitical block. It's a moment when diplomacy, when our alliances, our capacity for building coalitions a country is what sets us apart from lonelier powers like China and Russia, is more important than ever. And my concern is that we're squandering those assets right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you applaud his attempt at diplomacy with North Korea?
WILLIAM BURNS: I do. I think-- I think the effort, including the effort to engage directly with North Korea's leader is-- started out as an admirable effect. I think the concern I have right now is that in the second summit meeting in Hanoi, we're giving Kim Jong-un an unearned boost in his stature. And I think we need to take advantage of the disappointment in Hanoi to reset our approach on North Korea.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Now, you helped lead the backchannel talks that began the secret negotiations--
WILLIAM BURNS: Mm-Hm.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --with Iran that ultimately led to the nuclear deal. President Trump pulled out of that. It still exists in some form with the Europeans at least. What happens next to that deal? Do you see the U.S. on a trajectory to have a direct clash with Iran?
WILLIAM BURNS: My concern is that, you know, given the law of inadvertent collisions, we can bang into the Iranians, our allies and friends can. There are so many combustible parts of the landscape in the Middle East right now. And that can set off a chain of escalation that can be very difficult to control. I do think it was a huge mistake to pull out of the Iran deal. I think it was the best of the available alternatives to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapon. And I think pulling out has added to the fissures between us and our closest European allies, in a way it's done Vladimir Putin's work for him. And I think it's also eroded the long-term value of sanctions as an instrument of American foreign policy simply because by unilaterally pushing for sanctions rather than working with our partners, you know, we open up another area of vulnerability.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you very much.
WILLIAM BURNS: It's a pleasure. Thanks so much.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The book is The Back Channel by Bill Burns.
We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. Until next week, from FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.