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Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on May 19, 2019

5/19: Face The Nation
5/19: Face The Nation 47:22

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

  • Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan (read more)
  • Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. (read more)
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. (read more)
  • Author David Maraniss (watch)
  • Political Panel: Peter Baker, Kristen Soltis Anderson, Jamelle Bouie, and Edward Wong (watch)

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

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, May 19th. I'm Margaret Brennan and this is FACE THE NATION.

President Trump faces pushback over his administration's plan to fly undocumented immigrants from the Mexican border to cities across the country. Florida's Republican governor says no.

RON DESANTIS: We cannot accommodate in Florida just dumping the unlawful migrants into our state.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That, as the President tries to overhaul the legal immigration process, and proposes switching to a merit-based system.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Our proposal is pro-American, pro-immigrant, and pro-worker. It's just common sense.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But Speaker Pelosi calls it dead on arrival. Our guest this morning, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan. Plus, President Trump insists he doesn't want war with Iran. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff weighs in on the simmering tensions and Democrats hit the campaign trail.

JOE BIDEN: The single most important thing we have to accomplish to get this done is defeat Donald Trump.

(Crowd cheering)

MARGARET BRENNAN: As the field of candidates expands again with twenty-four now running. We'll talk with one of them, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

All that coming up on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. The Trump administration says it has run out of space to process thousands of migrants crossing the southern border. This week the Border Patrol started flying undocumented immigrants from facilities in Texas to San Diego. Officials in Florida said Thursday they were informed by Border Patrol that hundreds would soon be transported to the Miami area. Border Patrol officials had also said the administration was considering moving them to Detroit and Buffalo. But late last night Customs and Border Patrol disputed that in a statement, quote, "…contrary to inaccurate reports in the press, CBP has no plans to transport people in our custody to northern or coastal facilities, which include Border Patrol stations in Florida."

We begin today with the acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan who also serves as the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Welcome to the program.

KEVIN MCALEENAN (Acting Secretary of Homeland Security/@DHSMcAleenan): Good to be here. Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, first of, we're hoping you can clarify this--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --policy. On Thursday this is what we heard from the sheriff in Palm Beach County.

RIC BRADSHAW: Earlier this week the chief of Border Patrol operations out of Miami informed us that their intentions were to bring about a thousand people every month up into the Broward and Palm Beach County area, five hundred to-- to each county. And that these people were going to be brought from the El Paso area that have crossed the border illegally.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is this still being considered in Florida?

KEVIN MCALEENAN: So let me tell you what's happening on the border. We're seeing four thousand families a day and-- and single adults, unaccompanied children crossing unlawfully between ports of entry. That means CBP right now in Border Patrol stations and at ports of entry has about sixteen thousand people in custody. The system is full. We've been very clear about that. So what we're trying to do is plan to be able to manage that capacity safely, to bring people where we can process them efficiently. As you noted flights have gone on to San Diego where there is a high capacity Border Patrol sector. And as a planning factor we're looking at all options for being able to detain people, but, frankly, I respect the sheriff's concerns, Governor DeSantis, Senator Rubio. Communities all over this country are extremely generous but they're not ready to receive this flood of immigration. We need to have a system that works at the border, where we're able to prevent people from crossing unlawfully and return them effectively. And that's why we've asked Congress for help.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So to be clear is Florida still being considered?

KEVIN MCALEENAN: No. We're using the Southwest border sectors for additional capacity.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And it will not be in the future?

KEVIN MCALEENAN: No, I don't believe so. We're-- we're working with secretary of Defense to increase our capacity for facilities right now. We're also working with Mexico to make sure that people can wait in Mexico for their hearings as well. So--


KEVIN MCALEENAN: --we're going to be focusing on those options.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So-- so can you explain what changed? We laid out the timeline there.


MARGARET BRENNAN: On Thursday local officials are told by your agency that this is happening. This morning you tell me it's not.

KEVIN MCALEENAN: It's not because we looked at it from a planning perspective. What's prudent here? We do have stations in Florida. We have stations on the northern border. They're very small stations. They have a few agents that are busy patrolling their areas. There wasn't going to be an effective use of resources. But, yeah, we had to look at all options. When you have sixteen thousand people in custody and facilities designed for many fewer, you've got to look at any planning factor you can.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And so to be clear because in that statement that we read, it was blamed on inaccurate reports in the media.

KEVIN MCALEENAN: So the-- the reports in the media were that flights had already occurred. Those were not accurate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that's the part that you're saying the media was inaccurate on.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Flights had already occurred.


MARGARET BRENNAN: But you acknowledge that they were officials from your own agency who said that this was, indeed, going to happen in Florida--

KEVIN MCALEENAN: U.S. Customs and Border Protection did notify--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --and that cities, Detroit, Buffalo, and Miami.

KEVIN MCALEENAN: U.S. Customs and Border Protection did notify officials locally in those areas that they were looking at the possibility of doing this. That's correct.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. And those cities are also off the table now?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. And this decision was made when?

KEVIN MCALEENAN: The-- the commissioner-- the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection made that decision.



MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. So those communities now will no longer be expected to take in some of the migrants that you say are overwhelming facilities at the border?

KEVIN MCALEENAN: Yeah. That-- that's right. But I think we should really stay focused on what's actually happening on the-- on the border. It's a border security and a humanitarian crisis. These flows are unprecedented. They're creating dramatic challenges for law enforcement professionals trying to manage it. But we also are talking about a situation where children are at risk, where children are being smuggled, where children are in the hands of some of the most violent criminal organizations in this hemisphere. And we haven't had a solution from Congress to stop that. The administration has put forward three approaches this-- last two weeks, a supplemental to help us manage it, 4.5 billion dollars so we can create the facilities to protect children in custody and provide medical care, provide the processing and provide effective repatriation for those that don't have a right to stay in the U.S. We've worked on an emergency approach that would address the two key drivers of this crisis, the pull factors for families and the pull factors for unaccompanied children. That's the Chairman Graham bill that was introduced on Wednesday.


KEVIN MCALEENAN: And then, of course, in your open, you had the President talking about the more comprehensive immigration approach that would reform the legal system as well as address those vulnerabilities in the-- in the unlawful crossings.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But in the immediate sense, you're saying that there's a crisis at the border of almost hundred thousand a month.


MARGARET BRENNAN: What happens to these people now that you're not putting them in other detention facilities elsewhere in the country?

KEVIN MCALEENAN: So we're-- we've improved our processing. We're working with the secretary of defense to add additional facilities in the border area for single adults that will allow us to increase our ability to hold people safely. We're building soft-sided facilities for families for their processing so that they have more space, and they're more appropriate setting. So we're--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, that takes time.

KEVIN MCALEENAN: Yeah. We're doing all these things simultaneously. We're in the-- in the two to three weeks out from doing those. In the meantime, we are moving people to sectors that have higher capacity like San Diego, as you noted.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And in that two- to three-week period you said, well, what are the standards going to be like in these facilities? I know you've raised concern--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --about being able to provide for the welfare of these people.

KEVIN MCALEENAN: I-- I've been raising concerns since last June about the border security and humanitarian crisis. We went to the border in March and had a press conference when we were over fourteen thousand in custody. We're now over sixteen thousand in custody. So, yes, I am very concerned about the conditions. These are not appropriate facilities for families and children in particular. These are police stations built for single adults. And that's why we've asked Congress for more resources to address it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You've asked for-- that four and a half billion--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --that you said there.


MARGARET BRENNAN: What's driving this wave of immigration?

KEVIN MCALEENAN: Yeah. So the number one factor driving this are-- are the pull factors in our system, the vulnerabilities in our legal framework that tell a family that you'll be allowed to stay, you'll be released and allowed to stay. They're telling unaccompanied child that you'll be able to join your family here your parent who might already be here unlawfully. We need to change that dynamic. We need to change it quickly. The other main factor is that there are challenging situations in Central America. There's poverty and economic opportunity gaps that are stark, and we need to work on both sides of that problem in Central America, with Capitol Hill to change our legal framework, and on the border where we're increasing security significantly, both through additional border barrier, partnering with the Department of Defense--


KEVIN MCALEENAN: --and adding agents and officers and technology.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Have you then told the President that you disagree with his suggestion to cut foreign aid to those three main countries?

KEVIN MCALEENAN: The President is looking for accountable partners and programs that have a return on investment for American interests. I think if we can find those programs that are working, that are addressing the-- the push factors from migration, I think we're going to be able to continue to partner. I'm going to be down there in two weeks in Central America working with my counterparts at-- at the Ministry of Interior and Public Safety level, talking about increasing border security on the Guatemala-Honduran border and the Guatemalan-Mexican border, starting at the source of origin with the smugglers that are-- are enticing people into the cycle to address their security concerns.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Back to what Americans can expect to be happening in their communities the President has said on at least three different occasions--as recently as April 27th--that he wants to ship migrants into sanctuary cities. This has injected this idea of politics into this. This came from the President, himself. Let's listen.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (April 27): Now we're sending many of them to sanctuary cities, thank you very much.

(Crowd cheering and applauding)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They are not too happy about it. I'm proud to tell you that was actually my sick idea.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you support that?

KEVIN MCALEENAN: So, as we've already talked about we are-- we are balancing operationally the processing of people at the border. We have sent flights to California. California is a sanctuary state, by law. So that's technically correct. The other part is that the ten of--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you do support sending them to sanctuary cities?

KEVIN MCALEENAN: --the top eleven destinations for-- for immigrants that are released in the U.S., they're going to sanctuary cities because that's a magnet. They're providing an incentive to come live in those areas, and that's what's happening.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But your agency transporting people to these cities--

KEVIN MCALEENAN: Our-- our transportation--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --is that going to happen?

KEVIN MCALEENAN: --is based on operational necessity, capacity to process safely. That's what we're doing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, no, is the answer--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --to the question. Okay. So when the President speaks about all of these immigration changes I know you are frustrated that there is not more immediacy in terms of Congress--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --actually acting. When the President went to the Rose Garden, though, a lot of what he laid out was about legal immigration and it requires Congress to comply--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --and to be a partner. There was really no outreach to concerns Democrats have about things like DACA protections and the like. How do you get Congress to do what you're asking them?

KEVIN MCALEENAN: So, first of all, the President in the Rose Garden made a clear distinction between this broader effort that's going to take some time working with Congress. In the immediate bill that he's asked for he referenced Chairman Graham, Judiciary Committee in the Senate, his approach that's on the table right now targeting the two main drivers for this flow. So that-- that's out there that's ready to be negotiated and-- and-- and, hopefully, passed. We also have asked for the supplemental two weeks ago. It's a-- there's a lot of money that we need right now to take care of people that are crossing the border appropriately and make sure we're repatriating those that don't have a right to stay in the U.S. We-- we need Congress's help for both of those right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. But the four and a half billion you're saying you need right now, the rest is a-- is an ideal? You've got an incredibly difficult job--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --on one of the most emotionally fraught issues there is. The Washington Post reported that you had threatened to quit because of a-- a knife fight over immigration with hardliner Stephen Miller. Does you being here today mean you won that fight?

KEVIN MCALEENAN: Look, I'm not going to talk about rumors or any alleged internal conversations. What I see is a cabinet team that's pulling in the same direction to make this crisis mitigated. I'm working with the secretary of state, the secretary of Defense, the attorney generals, Health-- Health and Human Services secretary. I met with all of them in the first several weeks. The White House is supporting our initiatives. We have a robust strategy of action. We've put forward a legislative component. We've changed our dynamic at the border with increasing MPP, with prosecuting child smugglers at the border. We're-- we're moving out. We're acting with a lot of support from the White House and the cabinet. I'm not worried about alleged internal conversations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you didn't threaten to quit?

KEVIN MCALEENAN: I did not threaten to quit. No.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You will still be the person trying to lead this charge?

KEVIN MCALEENAN: I'm going to work on solving this problem as long as I have that opportunity. No question.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Thank you very much for coming in and for underscoring the immediacy of this.

And we do want to get some input from a key member of Congress that is Democrat Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee. He joins us here in studio as well. Congressman, let's pick up right on this. You heard this description of an immediate crisis, this ask for four and a half billion dollars that the administration says it-- it so desperately needs, almost-- almost a hundred thousand people per month. Why isn't there more immediate action from Democrats?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (D-California/@RepAdamSchiff/Intelligence Committee Chairman): Well, there is a humanitarian crisis at the border, but part of this crisis is one of the administration's own making. This administration, as you point out, that is saying we're going to cut off assistance to these Central American coun-- countries that would be useful in trying to stem this flow of migration, dealing with the problems. The-- the acting director talked about the pull but little about the push, and the push factor is that the violence in Central America is pushing people towards our country who are escaping violence and-- and threats to their children. We need to deal with that and threats to cut off aid isn't helping. When you look at El Salvador, for example, they are making progress, we should be expanding assistance like that mirroring those programs in other countries. The administration isn't doing this and-- and what's more--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But what about the four and a half billion needed for people who have already made it to U.S. soil and that-- that are arguably it-- it's up to the American people to provide for?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: We're discussing adding to the emergency supplemental appropriations bill of funding for this humanitarian crisis and I think there is a receptivity to do that, to deal with the humanitarian issues, not though just to send more money to build a wall, not to just merely detain people and add to the incarceration of people. You know we learned just within the last few days that the number of children that have been separated from their parents could be thousands more then we learned. The administration still doesn't know where they are. And you see this kind of disarray in what the administration is doing, announcing they're going to send people to Florida then-- then pulling that back and-- and by the way, the only reason they're pulling that back is because a Republican governor has challenged this idea. So this-- this looks a lot like the sanctuary cities kind of push by the President, which is, we'll send them to whatever states we don't care about and if we get pushback from a Republican governor we'll reconsider. But, again, you know, one of the steps they're doing at the-- at the border that's making this so much worse is they're slowing down the processing of asylum seekers at legal ports of entry which only encourages people to go between the legal ports of entry. So lots of counterproductive steps by the administration that seems really intent on making this problem worse.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about Iran. You're one of the very few members of Congress who was briefed on the intelligence that the U.S. responded to with this military buildup. I know you can't talk about classified matters but is the military response thus far commensurate with the threat that was described to you?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, look, the-- the intelligence does show an increased threat and it would be, I think, catastrophic for Iran to use violence against any of our troops, any of our allies. But it's not just about the intelligence. What is taking place now was all too predictable. The steps the administration has taken to renege on the Iran agreement, to try to force Europe to renege on the Iran agreement, to try to force Iran to withdraw from the agreement to go back to the path of enrichment, the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group, the belligerent rhetoric from the administration from Pompeo, from Bolton.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The policy decisions--

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: All of-- all of these policy decisions have led us to a state where confrontation is far more likely and that cannot be ignored. When you take a series of steps that, yes, ratchet up tensions, you shouldn't be surprised when the intelligence tells you, hey, tensions have been ratcheted up. It's now more a risk of confrontation. And this is why our allies are departing from us. This is why our allies increasingly are isolating us and not Iran. And I don't see how these policies have made this country anymore safe. They haven't. And I think we miss that bigger picture when we simply focus on is the intelligence accurate or inaccurate.


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: The problem is that this ratcheting up of tensions was all too predictable, all too calculated by people like Bolton and Pompeo and it has led us to the-- the precipice of potential catastrophe.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Speaker Pelosi has previously said that for her the standard for impeachment requires a bipartisan level of support for it. We saw yesterday the very first Republican, Justin Amash, who is a libertarian, he is no fan of the President, but still a Republican. He suggested that the President has carried out impeachable behavior. Does this meet the Democratic standard, now, to consider and move forward with an impeachment inquiry?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, I think that what the Speaker has referred to and I have as well is can an impeachment even be potentially successful in the Senate? We see no signs of that yet. And, you know, I respect what Justin Amash is doing and has said. He showed more courage than any other Republican in the House or Senate. But what may be pushing us in the direction of impeachment in any event has less to do with Justin Amash and more to do with the fact that the administration is engaging in a maximum obstructionism campaign against Congress.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You do think there is more of a movement--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --towards impeachment?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: I think that we are seeing more members that recognize that the administration is acting in a lawless fashion, essentially, having obstructed justice, is now obstructing Congress and our lawful function. And if we conclude that there's no other way to do our jobs, no other way to do the oversight, no other way to show the American people what this President has done, his-- his unethical and illegal acts as outlined in the Mueller Report, then we may get there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're-- what-- what you're suggesting just to clarify, is that by opening up an inquiry into impeachment or proceedings into impeachment, it would allow you to get the information you've-- and evidence you've been asking for?


MARGARET BRENNAN: That it provides a tool even if it fails?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: It-- it-- it does, it provides an additional tool. And what we have been doing is we have been gradually escalating the-- the tactics we need to use to get information for the American people. So we began by asking for voluntary cooperation and that was not forthcoming. We followed with subpoenas, we followed with contempt, we may follow with inherent contempt, and we may have to follow with impeachment. There may be an odd confluence of interest here between the Trump administration and people around the President who want him impeached because they think it's politically advantageous. And an increasing number of Democrats and maybe Republicans who feel this President's conduct is so incompatible with office, incompatible with our system of checks and balances that if the only way that we can do our oversight is through an impeachment proceeding then maybe we have to go down that road. But I think it will be important--


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: --to show the American people this was a decision made reluctantly.


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: This is a decision forced upon us rather than something we were eager to embrace.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman, we have to leave it there. Thank you very much.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back. Don't go away.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She's running for the Democratic presidential nomination, and she joins us this morning from New York. Senator, ten states have tightened restrictions on abortion in the past year and others may follow. I know you flew to Georgia this week to protest it. This is one of the most emotionally charged, divisive issues in politics, and it's a fight the President wants to have because it resonates with his supporters. So why are you embracing it?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-New York/@SenGillibrand/2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate): This is nothing short of an all-out assault on women's reproductive freedom, an effort to take away our basic human rights and civil rights, and make no mistake, the thirty states that are trying to unwind abortion rights are trying to get rid of Roe v. Wade. It-- it-- it's nothing more complex than that. And they do not believe that women should have the right to make the most intimate, personal life-and-death decisions. And I think it's untenable, and I hope America's women are paying attention because President Trump has started a war on America's women. And if it's a fight he wants to have it's a fight he's going to have, and he's going to lose.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you have said that if you're elected President you would codify Roe v. Wade. To do that you would need a Congress that agrees to follow your lead on that. Are you assuming a Democratic Congress to follow you in 2020?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I do. We already took back the House in 2018. Women across this country have been marching since President Trump became President, and then took their views and voices to the ballot box, electing a hundred and twenty women to Congress who support women's reproductive freedom and reproductive rights. I think that trend is going to continue. We saw a surge in women's votes. I think that will continue in '20. And, hopefully, we can actually flip the Senate as well and take back the presidency.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Now the-- the chairman of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez has said every Democrat should support abortion rights. And that was met with some outcry because it was seen as-- as a litmus test. Now for your party to win you need to be able to attract more people to it. Can you say that there is room in the Democratic Party for people who have a moral objection to abortion? Is-- is there room on your ticket for supporters like that?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: So for voters across America and for individuals, of course, you can have your personal views on any issue. There's nothing wrong with having a religious perspective on this issue. But what I do not accept is any Democratic leader or candidate to not believe in full civil rights and human rights for women. We cannot have Democrats who are running for office who do not believe in basic health care and civil rights for women. It-- it's just untenable, and it's unacceptable, and I will not support a candidate, and I do not believe any candidate running for President should be undermining women's reproductive freedom and our basic human rights.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, we have to take a real quick break. But we'll continue this conversation on the other side of it. We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Tomorrow be sure to tune in to CBS THIS MORNING with Gayle King joined by her new co-host, Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil.

We'll have more with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, plus, our political panel and author David Maraniss in just a moment. So stay with FACE THE NATION.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We continue our conversation with New York senator and 2020 contender Kirsten Gillibrand.

I want to ask you now about immigration. Buffalo, New York, in your home state, was one of the locations that Customs and Border Patrol officials had said they were looking at as a place to move some of these migrants who'd been captured at the border into detention facilities in your home state. What have you actually been informed of that may be under consideration and may be happening?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I've been informed of absolutely nothing by this administration. And the truth is President Trump's immigration policy is inhumane, ineffective, and wrong. I cannot tell you how infuriating it is for our President to still be separating children from their parents at our border in the most inhumane way and then locking them up and paying for it-- paying for-profit prison systems to do this. As President of the United States, I would not fund any for-profit prisons. I would not lock up these families. I would have a humane immigration policy where people seeking asylum and people seeking refuge in this country would have lawyers and have a proper asylum process. We need real immigration judges, which we don't have, that are appointed for life and outside the political process. I think what President Trump's done on immigration is divisive and hurtful and harmful to our national security.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you, then, support something like Senator Graham has proposed which would--you mentioned family separation to stop what the administration has used as a justification for that? They have said, "Look, legally, we're restricted to only keeping people in detention together for twenty days. Well, you can't move them through the process that fast.

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I wouldn't keep them in detention at all.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you-- you-- oppose even what the Obama administration did in terms of keeping families together or keeping them together for a longer period of time in detention?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I-- I wouldn't-- as President of the United States I wouldn't use the detention system at all. In fact, what I would do is actually fund the border security measures that are anti-terrorism, anti-human trafficking, anti-drug trafficking, and anti-gun trafficking and I would defund these for-profit prison systems that are harming children and harming families who are seeking our asylum--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But so-- it-- so for Homeland Security--

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: --if someone is seeking asylum, I would assign them a lawyer--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Homeland Security, though, is saying hundreds of thousands of people are-- are crossing the border, and they need to go somewhere before their asylum claims are actually heard. What would you do with them?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: They don't need to be incarcerated. They can-- if they're given a lawyer and given a process, they will follow it. They can go into the community in the way we used to handle these cases under the Department of Justice.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Should the Trump administration get some of the 4.5 billion dollars they say they need to improve humanitarian conditions?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: We can work with the Trump administration on two things. We can work with them on funding anti-terrorism and border protection when it comes to human and drug trafficking and gun trafficking. We can work with them on resources for more humanitarian treatment, for medical treatment, for support, for humane processes, but I-- I do not believe we should be funding for-profit prison systems in any circumstance.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you would oppose moving any migrants to the State of New York?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: What the State of New York does well is we teach-- we actually take refugee families into our communities. We would be delighted to take refugee families into cities like Buffalo and Syracuse and Rochester and Albany.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your campaign has yet to reach the sixty-five thousand individual donors that you would need to qualify to be on that first debate stage. Why do you think that is? Is-- is the large number of candidates hurting campaigns like yours?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Well, all I would say to your viewers is if you like anything that I've talked about today, go to and support my campaign. This is a marathon and not a sprint, and we are building support all across the country in all fifty states. And I hope your viewers will join our efforts.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But is the fact that we have nearly two dozen candidates hurting the Democratic bid here?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I don't think so. I think primaries are so healthy for our party. It allows candidates to talk about their vision for America. My vision is to make sure we deal with the real problems this country is facing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you think you will make it to that debate stage?

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I do, especially with the support of your viewers.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, thank you.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That was not a show endorsement but that was a pitch from the senator.

We'll have to welcome to the program now our political analysis. Peter Baker is the chief White House correspondent at The New York Times, and an expanded version of his book Obama: The Call of History has just been released. Kristen Soltis Anderson is joining us for the first time. She's a Republican pollster and a columnist with the Washington Examiner. Edward Wong is a diplomatic and international correspondent at The New York Times. And Jamelle Bouie is a columnist with the New York Times and also a CBS news political analyst. Let's pick up where we just left off with the senator, Jamelle. The-- Senator Gillibrand says it is not hurting the Democratic bids, the fact that they have nearly two dozen or two dozen candidates, I guess, we are totally at twenty-four now.

JAMELLE BOUIE (The New York Times/@jbouie): I think we're at two dozen.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I mean is she being kind there? Is it hurting campaigns like hers?

JAMELLE BOUIE: I think it may be just because there's only a pool of voters is only so big and there are so many choices that may be in the absence of five or ten of these candidates there may have been more possible support for Senator Gillibrand, but now that there are so many it's harder for her to get traction. But as-- in terms of kind of the Democratic Party as a whole and sort of it trying to figure out its direction over the next year I think that this large primary is probably a good thing. It's good for Democrats in 2016 for Republicans for that matter to hash out; their differences hash out these issues, and try to figure out who might be best equipped to run the general election.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Peter, you've covered many presidencies, many campaigns. We saw the vice president, former Vice President Joe Biden, at rallies yesterday talking about how he planned to challenge the President and his strong economic message.

PETER BAKER (The New York Times/@peterbakernyt/Obama: The Call of History): Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that's basically to say, well, you should thank Obama?

PETER BAKER: Yeah, yeah. Well, look--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Does that work?

PETER BAKER: I mean to some extent obviously, he's focused on Pennsylvania and Michigan, Wisconsin. He is focused on those states that the Democrats shouldn't have lost but by, you know, traditional history and trying to hit them with the economic message because they're otherwise Trump is going to be selling the idea that he has made America great again through the economy and-- and Biden's got to undercut that if he can. But it's a tough sell because, you know, at a certain point three-four years into a presidency, you-- you start saying it has to be, you know, the current guy not just the previous guy and-- and-- and Biden is going to try to make the case that he could do something that other Democrats can't, which is take on Trump directly in a very, you know, head-on-head kind of way.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Kristen, you heard from the President this morning on Twitter as we often do early on Sundays, basically, saying that he is not getting credit for the great economy. Is that still the central issue? Or, is-- is-- are some of these more culture war issues, abortion, immigration, going to be what helps him in this reelection bid?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON (The Washington Examiner/@KSoltisAnderson): Well, there's no doubt that the economy is the issue where the President pulls the most strongly when you ask, who do you trust or do you trust the President on certain issues? The economy tends to be the one where he has the clear sort of majority saying, yes, we think he's at least doing a good job on that. But it doesn't necessarily have as much emotional resonance. And, well, the conventional wisdom is that people vote with their pocketbooks--that if they like the way things are going, they will want to continue four more years. What we've really seen is that with the economy getting so much better, it's actually fallen in the list of sort of people's top issues. Now you tend to see issues like health care and immigration. And so I actually think perhaps less so than some of the really hot button issues like abortion, I do believe health care is going to be one of the issues that really helps decide 2020 because even as people are feeling sort of better about the economy, unemployment is lower, if it still costs a lot for them to get health care and it still seems as though Republicans do not have an answer for that, that's going to be a challenge facing the President in 2020.

MARGARET BRENNAN: On the issue of abortion the President wants to have this argument. He's been tweeting about it and you just heard one Democratic candidate thinks this is also something that should be talked about on the campaign trail. What is behind this right now as we look at the state level at these tightened restrictions? Is it all just a cynical bet that this becomes something that the Supreme Court ultimately gets to and that this resonates for the President and some of his evangelical supporters?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON: Well, something else that the President has tweeted out within the last couple of hours is-- my read was sort of pushing back on the Alabama bill which sort of had no exceptions for things like rape, incest, et cetera, by sort of saying, look, that's not where I am, I am where Ronald Reagan was. Really, I think correctly assessing that the Alabama law by taking a position really only held by fifteen percent of Americans was creating a wedge within the pro-life movement.


KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON: And that's a big shift. I mean after the passage of laws in New York and Virginia earlier this year there had been a sense that there was momentum swinging toward the pro-life side that the pro-choice side had gone too far. This really sends the pendulum back the other direction. And I think that's why you saw the President with that tweet, kind of distancing himself from what happened in Alabama.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, Ed, even in foreign policy, this question of abortion is something that has been implemented at least on that level the President can tighten in terms of foreign aid. How that's used abroad with the so-called Mexico City policy? It's not just a theoretical debate at this point. It's not just a state-level it is something that the administration is putting its shoulder behind.

EDWARD WONG (The New York Times/@ewong): Right. We saw Pompeo announce earlier this spring that they would cut off funding to any organization, foreign organization debts or promoted policies that might be involved-- that might involve abortion. And I think that the administration is trying to shore up the evan-- evangelical voter base as well as other supporters that believe strongly in these policies through its foreign policy and Pompeo has been very active on that front.

JAMELLE BOUIE: I think just to-- to pick up on the-- the domestic politics of this, it's very clear that President Trump believes that his reelection will depend on kind of massive--


JAMELLE BOUIE: --base mobilization. But what's interesting about this push to restrict abortion is that part of his appeal in 2016 was that he was someone heterodox on social issues. They didn't appear to be kind of a traditional conservative Republican. And so taking this approach may end up-- you know, if you-- if you think like a little dialectically about, it may end up creating the kind of backlash among some of his own voters that may end up damaging him in 2020. Among those, non-college, working-class whites who aren't as socially conservative as a-- as white evangelicals--


JAMELLE BOUIE: --but supported Trump, nonetheless.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But I want to ask you the same question I put to Senator Gillibrand, which was, is there room in the Democratic Party for people who morally object to abortion?

JAMELLE BOUIE: I think there is certainly room within the Democratic Party for voters who are-- have conservative views on abortion. If you look at, for example, Latino and African-American voters who tend to have more conservative views on abortion attached to the sort of higher religious attendance, they are clearly voting for Democrats. It's just not if you are a voter whose principle, kind of political issue, what's most salient for you is abortion, then there probably isn't very much room in the Democratic Party for you if you are an anti-abortion pro-life voter. But if you are someone who maybe has those views but it's less--


JAMELLE BOUIE: --it's lower on the list of salient issues then there's plenty of space for you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to take a break and come back, talk about some of the other issues of the week, including the threat posed by Iran in a moment. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we're back now with our panel. There is so much to digest from this week and even just from the show on immigration, on Iran. Ed-- Edward Wong, I want to go to you on the threat. Adam Schiff, who is one of the very few Congress people actually briefed on the intelligence the administration acted on regarding Iran didn't dispute what he was told. He criticized policy making. What do we actually know about the threat posed by Iran that led to this military response by the Trump administration?

EDWARD WONG: I think that officials picked up on several intelligence strands that were coming through right around the time of May 3rd, one was that there were missiles being loaded on to small wooden boats in the Persian Gulf by Iranian forces and other was that there was some chatter that among militia groups in Iraq that they might try and attack American bases or facilities, the embassy in Baghdad possibly the consulate in Erbil. And so the-- I think the-- some officials who picked up on this said that they wanted some sort of deterrent against Iran, they wanted messaging, signaling to send Iran to deter them from doing this. Now the question is whether someone like Bolton and, possibly, Pompeo took that and decided to push forward in a way that made Pentagon officials and others uncomfortable sort of like putting them in a position of sort of ramping up deployment forces, coming up with plan-- military plans that made other officials uncomfortable because intelligence and Pentagon officials have always been pushing-- have been pushing back the spring against certain policies like the designation of the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. They've been pushing back against these saying these policies will put troops and officers in danger and then the administration went ahead and did that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And so when you see reports as we saw in the New York Times of a hundred and twenty thousand troops being reviewed, it sounds like reading between the lines, you're suggesting that was leaked to kill that response?

EDWARD WONG: I'm not sure. I can't say who the sources were. But there's, you know, there's various motivations for people giving out that kind of information, might be-- some people interpret as giving it out so that there can be a public debate on it that there hasn't been a public debate on what to do with troop deployments or planning. And I think that people are aware very much of what happened 2002-2003 and the run up to the Iraq war and that they think that there should be a public conversation over this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Peter, you wrote this book about the Obama administration and the call of history. This was such a landmark portion of the former President's foreign policy.

PETER BAKER: Mm-Hm. Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Cooling and controlling this one part of the threat posed by them, the nuclear program. Is this like the key question for all of the Democrats running right now? Do you rejoin this deal?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it possible? And-- and how do you do that in a way that doesn't just look like it's trying to revive the Obama legacy?

PETER BAKER: Yeah. No, it's a great question because, in fact, you're right, it is one of the big foreign policy legacies he left behind, the first thing-- one of the first things that President Trump decided to undo. I think most Democrats out there running have said or will say likely to say that they would get back into it in some form or another.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Whether or not you actually can.

PETER BAKER: Whether you can't or not. And the Iranians are clearly banking on that. I mean the reason why they have been restrained for the most part over the last year, they've not rushed toward-- back toward a nuclear program, at least according to reports that we've seen, is because they seem to be wanting to wait out Trump, to see if they can get a new President come in in 2021 that they can do another deal with. But it's really interesting because this is where Obama, you know, this whole question of the last week of so-- of-- of a confrontation with Iran gets that, where Obama and Trump were at least in theory more alike--


PETER BAKER: --which is, in very different ways, Trump is more bombastic and-- and-- and Obama is more intellectualized. But they both talked about, you know, we're tired of these endless wars, right? President Trump came to office on the idea of pulling out of this Middle East kind of quagmire rather than getting further in and he is now surrounded by people like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo who are egging him on in the other direction, or saying, look, this is a big threat, you need to be more assertive.


PETER BAKER: And it's a real test for this President at this point where he plans to go.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it's something-- you point out those similarities. I think it's going to be fascinating to finally watch a foreign policy debate with the Democratic candidates to hear how they'll differentiate themselves. Thanks to all of you.

And we'll be right back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We are joined now by author David Maraniss. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, who's perhaps best known for his biographies of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. But his latest book, A Good American Family tells the story of his father, Elliott Maraniss, in how the Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s changed his life. Good to have you here.

DAVID MARANISS (A Good American Family/@davidmaraniss): Thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So the good American family is actually your American family.

DAVID MARANISS: Yes. The title comes from a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee, who in 1951 gave a speech and said that he was shocked that anyone from a quote, unquote, "Good American family" could be affiliated at any time with the Communist Party. And the book-- book is a point of showing that our family was a good American family, even though, my father and my mother at one point were members of the U.S. Communist Party.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you write in the book about this idea of un-American, you talk about the hearings before Congress.


MARGARET BRENNAN: What was that like for your father going through that kind of questioning? Did you ever really sit and talk to him about that?

DAVID MARANISS: You know my dad really didn't want to talk about it by the time I was-- I was two years old when this happened. And sixty-three years later as I was starting to research this book, because before that, you know, I'd written all these biographies of strangers to me like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and Vince Lombardi who became familiar to me by the time I was done.


DAVID MARANISS: This time I was starting with someone who I thought was intimately-- I was intimately familiar with, I was worried would he be a stranger by the time I was done, because I didn't really know this part of our family's past. I was at the National Archives, and I found there the statement that my father wanted to read to the committee at the hearing and he was not allowed to unless he confessed and named names which he would not do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And it was in that statement that he never got the chance to read--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --but had prepared that he said "I would rather have my children miss a meal or two now than have them grow up in the gruesome fear ridden future for America projected by the members of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. My Americanism has been questioned and to properly measure a man's Americanism, you must know the whole pattern of a life."

DAVID MARANISS: It was a very powerful statement. And it was the statement of-- of an American citizen, of a man who had been the commander of an all-black unit in World War II in the Pacific, being called un-American by a chairman of the committee who had in his earlier life been a member of the Ku Klux Klan briefly and so that juxtaposition of what does it really mean to be an American is-- is relevant today as it was in the 1950s. You know I don't write about today in the book but the echoes are there throughout.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What-- what, specifically, the echoes? I mean these days you hear the term socialism thrown about and it doesn't necessarily have the same resonance clearly as during this heated moment in time. But it still has a stigma attached to it.

DAVID MARANISS: Well, it has a stigma attached to it by people who wanted to have a stigma attached to it. You-- you can talk to people thirty-five and under, and it's a completely different definition and feeling about socialism. But I would say that the-- the stronger echoes are not about socialism but about the use of fear as a manipulative tool in the political process, which is what Joseph McCarthy, the senator, used during the 1950s and which the President is using today--demonizing others, stretching the truth and facts in an-- in an effort only for political purposes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did you feel like you were writing a commentary on today? You're drawing these-- these parallels. But-- but this was a different time. The threat felt immediate.


MARGARET BRENNAN: There was something to be blamed and right now what you're talking about is-- is kind of an argument amongst ourselves.

DAVID MARANISS: In some ways, of course, they're different. I mean history doesn't repeat itself. You know there are-- there are echoes of it but it's not the exact same thing ever. As a matter of fact it's upside down now, right? I mean here you have the President using the term McCarthyism and calling the attacks on him a witch hunt.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In writing this was this sort of therapeutic for you?

DAVID MARANISS: That's a great question. You know, I-- I-- I didn't think it would be, but it was. It really helped me understand myself, my family, and my country. You know, all of us hear these stories about our own family, you know, they're part myth and party true. And we never go back and explore them. I have done that with strangers, but to do it with my own family really help me understand so much about myself. So in that sense it was therapeutic.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did your father towards the end of his life have-- have anger about this or did he feel, you know, his worldview evolved or it changed? Did he ever say, I'm no longer, you know, subscribing to this worldview represented by communism, I made a mistake here?

DAVID MARANISS: He never said I made-- made a mistake here. But he did say at one point that he was stubborn in his ignorance in his earlier life. That's about it. But-- but it was never a matter of-- of repentance. Because that-- he-- he evolved but never became bitter, he never wanted to destroy this country he just wanted to make it better.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What made you follow in his footsteps and become a journalist?

DAVID MARANISS: I was too stupid to do anything else. But I-- I loved writing from a very early age and my father certainly didn't discourage that. It's in-- it's in my blood. My mother was a book editor, my grandfather was a printer, my dad was a newspaper man, so I followed into that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. David Maraniss, thank you very much--

DAVID MARANISS: Thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --for sharing your story, and that of your family.

We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. And we want to wish a very happy birthday to our executive producer, Mary Hager. Until next week for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.

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