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Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on November 21, 2021

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

  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, (D-NY)
  • Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-TX)
  • Derrick Johnson, President and CEO, NAACP  
  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Former FDA Commissioner  
  • Anthony Salvanto, CBS News Elections & Surveys Director  

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

MARGARET BRENNAN, HOST: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington.

Today on Face the Nation, we will check in on the challenges facing America as we prepare to count our blessings this Thanksgiving.

President Biden used the time-honored tradition of the turkey pardon to celebrate the House approving his roughly $2 trillion social and environmental spending package and the signing of his $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

This year's winners, named after one of America's favorite lunches, may have escaped the Thanksgiving dinner table, but not the presidential wisecracks.

(Begin VT)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Turkey is infrastructure. Peanut Butter and Jelly are going to help build back the Butterball.

Instead of getting basted, these two turkeys are getting boosted.


(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Up on Capitol Hill, House Democrats celebrated their victory on Build Back Better, or BBB, with progressives and moderates finally coming together for the win.

The bill is now off to the Senate, where it faces a much tougher test. Will growing concerns about inflation put pressure on the party to act quickly?

New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, pushing to keep paid leave in the bill, will be with us.

We will also talk to Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz about the mysterious case of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai and the likely U.S. diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

(Begin VT)

WOMAN: Kyle H. Rittenhouse, not guilty.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Then: protests across the country, as 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse is acquitted of all charges in the shootings of three men during the unrest following Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year.

We will ask the president of the NAACP, Derrick Johnson, what this case and two other ongoing trials say about race and justice in America.

Finally, after months of mixed signals on COVID booster shots, the CDC approves them for all adults. Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb will be with us.

It's all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation. We have a lot to get to today.

We begin with a brand-new CBS News poll. It doesn't have a lot of good news politically for President Biden. His approval rating is at 44 percent, his lowest in our polling since he took office. And it's the economy that is taking the toll on the president's standing, as prices for food, gas and other items continue to rise; 67 percent of Americans now disapprove of the president's handling of inflation.

Joining us now to discuss it is CBS News director of surveys and elections Anthony Salvanto.

Anthony, the economy is in recovery, but many Americans apparently don't feel that way.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Good morning, Margaret.

That's right, because, to many Americans, when they rate the economy, it's what's right in front of them, the prices they're paying in this case at that gas pump or that cash register.

Let me tell you a story about views on the economy over the course of this year. Back in the winter, views were low, but then, as people thought the pandemic was easing and optimism was on the upswing as we headed into the summer, views of the economy started to rise.

Then, as we headed into the fall, in our polling, well, people started feeling the effects of inflation and views of the economy started to dip again back down to the lower level, where they are today.

Now, how does this relate to President Biden? Well, when you look at how people evaluate him in handling a range of issues, on handling the economy specifically, on handling inflation specifically, he's underwater, at 39 percent on the economy, at 33 percent good on handling inflation.

And then the kicker here, Margaret, is that when you ask people how they're evaluating Joe Biden, which criteria, they say, top answers, the economy and inflation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Anthony, just how significantly is inflation impacting Americans' lives?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: So, first of all, people say that they notice the things they usually buy are costing more. They notice that some things are hard to get on store shelves.

And then you say, well, what impact does that have on people? And for a majority, they tell us that that's either a difficulty or even a hardship. That's particularly the case for people in middle and low incomes.

So, what do they say they're doing about it? Well, a lot of folks say that they're cutting back, cutting back on spending, maybe holding off buying one of those big-ticket items, maybe even curtailing their holiday spending a little bit.

And the other thing here, Margaret, is, people know why there is inflation. They tell us they know that there are supply chain issues, that there's pent-up demand after the pandemic. So those are market forces. But, as we often see in polling and opinion, even if it's market forces, people sometimes want some relief from those forces.

And that's where they turn to political leaders and say, they want them to do something about it, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. You didn't cause it, but I want you to fix it.

Anthony, Democrats know they have a problem with these economic headwinds, but the argument is that the trillions of dollars in spending packages will offset that. How do Democrats feel about the strategy? How do they feel about the president himself?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: So, let me start here.

Democrats, like most Americans, say they're feeling the effects of inflation, things costing more than they did, things often not in stock. Now, Democrats don't say that to the same extent Republicans do, because, frankly, there's always a little bit of partisanship that creeps into some of these responses.

But you -- when you look at the way Democrats then rate the president on handling inflation specifically, yes, a majority approve, but he's at 38 percent disapprove, which, for the president's base, is not exactly a great number, in context.

And then, when you look at his approval rating among Democrats, well, it's 80 percent. That's good. But in this modern political era, where the base is so important to a politician, well, 20 percent disapproval, that's among the lowest that you will see.

So, that's a place where they think they probably want to shore up the base. The infighting maybe in Congress hasn't helped, certainly Democrats feeling the effects of inflation. And those are the numbers, I think, to watch going forward, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Anthony Salvanto, thank you.

And joining us now is senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Good morning to you, Senator. Thank you for being here.


MARGARET BRENNAN: So, I want to get to some of the agenda items.

The Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, was with us last week, and she said it doesn't look like paid leave is going to make it into the final Build Back Better bill. That's due to Senator Joe Manchin's opposition. How can you change his mind?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Well, Joe Manchin has come a long way on paid leave.

I have been talking to him now for about three weeks on the topic. And in the beginning of our conversations, he didn't know a lot about paid leave. And he's come forward with a lot of really smart questions about, how would you build it? What would it look like? He really wants it to be an earned benefit, something that is self-sustaining. And so do I.

And he really wants something that will last for generations. So, I'm optimistic that Senator Manchin and I can continue to talk about ways to put paid leave in this bill, because, long term, he wants it to be something that's bipartisan.

But I have looked, and I have talked to all the Republicans who are interested in paid leave, and none of them have an interest in what he wants to do, which is this earned benefit idea.

So, I think Senator Manchin and I can come together, hopefully in the next couple of weeks on something that could be included in this package that would be a Democratic-only proposal that we could start with, something -- something modest perhaps that we can start paid leave with, and then work long term with those Republicans on a bigger idea to get to the grand idea of full 12-week paid leave for all life events for all people when they need to meet with family need, whether it's a new baby or an ill loved one or a dying parent.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, modest, you mean four weeks' leave?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I would be grateful if we could meet the House proposal. I think that would be a great start to have universal paid leave for all people, all workers.

And we know paid leave helps people get back to work. We know, if it's parental leave, parents, mothers are 40 percent more likely to get back to work if they have paid leave, which goes to Senator Manchin's concern that he wants to strengthen our social safety nets, he wants to strengthen Social Security.

That's what paid leave does. It gets people back to work. It allows people to stay in the work force even when there's a family emergency. If you don't have paid leave, and there's a family emergency, sometimes, your only recourse is quitting. If you have to quit your job, getting rehired is very difficult.

So, if your main concern is strengthening social safety nets like Social Security, paid leave is one of the solutions. And so I'm hopeful that if I can use the next three weeks to really impress upon Senator Manchin that some things can only be done with Democrats only, that now is the only time to do that perhaps in the next decade.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, the proposal, as it stands now, it would cost $200 billion over 10 years.

Senator Manchin has also said he's worried about Social Security, and it's the same -- when you say earned benefit, how would you actually make this happen?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: So, I want to work with Senator Manchin on some ideas he has.

He likes employer/employee contribution systems. A lot of states around the country already have that through unemployment insurance, through disability insurance. There's ways we might be able to create this program.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Like the state of New York.


And what Senator Manchin is doing right now is, he's approving every aspect of the Build Back Better proposal about how to pay for it. So, he's in the driver's seat on how to pay for these proposals. And so I'm just hopeful that he can remain open-minded to include some provisions for paid leave, because this is the only moment to get paid leave done.

The bipartisan ideas he have -- he has, they will not come to fruition with the Republican senators that are interested in paid leave today, because they don't -- they don't -- they aren't interested today in a universal plan that's an earned benefit, because I have spoken to them.



KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: So, that's why I think, for Senator Manchin, now is the time. If he has a vision for what he wants to do...


KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: ... putting in this Dem-only proposal is the only opportunity, in my opinion.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And would love to have him come on and answer some of the questions you're raising right now about how to do that.

One of the other sticking points is the reduction in taxes for high earners, and that would definitely be of interest to your voters in New York, raising the cap on the so-called SALT deduction, state and local taxes. Is that something that for you needs to stay in this?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: So, for Senator Schumer and I and the senators from these states that have very high local and state taxes, like New York, New Jersey, California, when President Trump put forward his $1.5 trillion tax cuts, he really did it in a way that disproportionately harmed these large states.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He brought the cap down to $10,000.



KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: And so that hurt a lot of middle-class -- middle-class families in New York, particularly in places like Westchester and Long Island, where a firefighter and a teacher would have been harmed by that deduction being reduced to such a low cap.

And so what we're trying to do is restore that cap to...


KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: ... covering all middle-class wage earners.

And the House came up with a compromise to have that cap be at $80,000. We hope to retain that in the Senate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about some of the numbers we showed viewers at the beginning of this program regarding concerns about the economy and the president.

The majority of the infrastructure bill doesn't go into effect until 2023- 2024. Build Back Better, as we know, we're talking about it. It's not a done deal. So, what -- what is the message you have for how to fix the economy now and how to tell voters that, if they stick with Democrats, if they stick with unified government, that you can actually deliver on this, because you don't have much time before those midterm races?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: We are doing everything to lower costs for everyday families, because people's costs are going up.

You have these macro forces, because of the pandemic, that are very difficult to address. So, what these bills do is, the infrastructure bill will fix some of the supply chain problems, because...

MARGARET BRENNAN: Not immediately.

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: But at least invest. It invests in ports. It invests in ways to begin to fix the supply chain problems that we've had.

Second, in the Build Back Better bill, it can lower costs for prescription drugs. It's one of the biggest costs that a lot of families have, particularly our seniors. It can lower costs for child care. You know how expensive child care is, affordable day care, universal pre-K.

That's going to take zero through 5 and make it more affordable for families. It's -- for many families...

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you really think Democrats have been able to explain this to voters yet?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Because we're still talking about a bill that we don't know what's in or out of it.

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: So, the push and pull of what's in the bill, what's not in the bill, that's going to be resolved in the next few weeks.

And once we sign this bill into law, we can go around our states and districts and talk about why affordable day care matters. I know that, if families have to put 20, 30, 40 percent of their income just into child care, what's that's done for families is, sometimes, they don't have a second child or don't have a third child.


KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Sometimes, they have to quit their job because it's more cost-effective to stay home.


KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: That means that parent can't be a wage earner. It means less money is going into the economy. It means they can't grow in their careers and earn more money. It stifles economic growth.



So, affordable day care is one of the basic investments in infrastructure that we need, so more people are working.


KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: That's how we lower costs for people in things like housing, child care and in prescription drugs.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That takes time.

Before I let you go though, I want to make sure I ask you about military sexual assault.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You've been confident that you could get this passed. Are you confident this stays in this must-pass defense bill?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: So, we have our military justice reform that takes all serious crimes out of the chain of command and gives a decision about whether to prosecute these crimes to trained military prosecutors who are unbiased and will give justice to survivors of sexual assault and other serious crimes.

Right now, that's in the Senate bill. The only way this does not become law is if four men, behind closed doors, take it out in conference. And that would be an outrage, because this bill is supported by 66 senators...

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're worried that it will?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: ... including Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, who's going to be on your show, Liz Warren and Bernie Sanders. How many bills in America are supported by those four individuals? Not many.

And then, on the House side, it's supported by 220 House members. That...


KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Democracy should not be shunned. This is something that should not be done behind closed doors in the dead of night. It should be allowed to pass, and everyone should make sure that their voices are heard on this issue.

If we want justice for service members, justice for sexual assault survivors and justice for every female service member...


KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: ... you need this reform.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Senator, thank you for coming in.



KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be back in a minute.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who joins us from Houston.

Good morning to you, Senator.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Good morning, Margaret. Good to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Overnight, you did see Chinese state-run media release images of tennis player Peng Shuai in Beijing. It's the first time she's been seen in two weeks since she mysteriously disappeared after criticizing and claiming that one of the former leaders of China committed sexual assault against her.

Do you have any idea what -- what is going on here?

TED CRUZ: Well, we don't know for sure, but there are reasons to be deeply, deeply skeptical.

Peng Shuai is one of the best tennis players in the world. She's the first Chinese player ever to be ranked number one in the world in doubles for women's or men's. And she posted on social media a serious allegation of sexual assault, sexual assault by the former vice premier of China, by a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee.

And, within 30 minutes, the Chinese communist government caused that accusation of sexual assault to miraculously disappear. And since that point, Peng Shuai has not been seen. Now...

MARGARET BRENNAN: Should the U.S. be doing more? --

TED CRUZ: ... after there was criticism, after everyone noticed she disappeared, they -- they put out -- there was an e-mail that claimed to be from her that -- that frankly read like bad "Saturday Night Live," like a hostage e-mail.

And these latest images that the Chinese government is putting out, they're trying to pretend everything is OK. But I got to say, the Women's Tennis Association has been extraordinary standing up to China. They have been defending this athlete. They've been calling on China to have full and complete transparency, and the Chinese communist government is flabbergasted because they're not used to seeing sports leagues...


TED CRUZ: ... or big corporate interests stand up to them. I really commend...


TED CRUZ: ... the Women's Tennis Association for putting their players first.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. And I know you and I have talked about that in the past, when sports leagues don't do that.


MARGARET BRENNAN: But, so despite concern right now that China is carrying out actively a genocide against Muslims in that country, it's still set to hold the Olympics in three months.

President Biden has said he's considering a diplomatic boycott. Do you think he should go further? Because other 2024 presidential candidates, and I know you are considered to be likely one of them, are really kind of competing to be as hard-line as they possibly can on China.

Nikki Haley, Tom Cotton say this should be a full boycott. Do you support one?

TED CRUZ: Yes, so, listen, I have been leaning in hard saying we ought to move the Olympics out of China. That's what we should have done. The IOC refused to do that.

I think it's a mistake to have a full boycott of the Olympics. You know, Jimmy Carter tried that in the 1970s. All it did was punish a generation of athletes. We've got young men and young women, Americans, who have spent their whole lives practicing for this moment.

I don't want to punish those young athletes. What we ought to do -- I do agree with the notion of a so-called diplomatic boycott...

MARGARET BRENNAN: You agree with President Biden?

TED CRUZ: ... which means we don't send high-ranking Cabinet officials over there, we don't send -- we try to minimize the attention.

But I also think it's important we do two things at the Olympics in China, number one, that we actually show the courage the Women's Tennis Association is showing to call out the murder, the genocide, the torture, the lies, the complicity in COVID-19 of the Chinese communist government, to speak the truth.

And then, number two, I really hope our young men and women that they go over there and kick their commie asses. We need to win in the Olympics.


Putting that aside, there are, on a practical level, corporations who spend a ton of money on sponsorships around the Olympics, Coca-Cola, Google, Procter & Gamble. They're all Olympic sponsors.

Should they still go ahead with those activities?

TED CRUZ: Look, I think it makes sense for corporations to cut off their ads. I would love to see corporations show a tiny bit of courage.

You know, when China engages in horrific slave labor, companies like Nike turn a blind eye. When you look at the NBA -- I'm a die-hard hoops fan. The NBA's reaction to China is terrible, terrible. They're terrified of upsetting the Chinese communist dictators. They value the money so much that, in fact -- you and I both remember when Daryl Morey, who was the general manager of the Rockets, sent one little innocuous tweet about Hong Kong.

And the NBA bent over backwards groveling to the Chinese communists.


TED CRUZ: I was in Hong Kong at the time. In fact, you and I did a show at that time...


TED CRUZ: ... when I dressed in all black in solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters.


TED CRUZ: I understand why the NBA did it. They're looking at hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars.

I understand why Nike does it. But what is really impressive about the Women's Tennis Association is, they've said they will cancel their matches in China...


TED CRUZ: ... they will give up tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars if Peng Shuai is not released...


TED CRUZ: ... if there isn't transparency. That's the kind of courage we need other players to have.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Understand. And they are standing alone on that.

I want to ask you about...


MARGARET BRENNAN: You're blocking a number of President Biden's nominees to national security posts.

The White House said it's an unprecedented effort of obstruction, Senator Murphy said, talking to you it's like dealing with a terrorists.

Aren't you playing politics with national security?


TED CRUZ: Well, actually, quite the opposite. I'm trying to get President Biden to stop acquiescing and surrendering to our enemies.

In China, I introduced an amendment to say that we should not purchase any green vehicles or solar panels made with slave labor in communist China, in concentration camps. Every Democrat but Joe Manchin voted against it. On Russia, one of the first things, Joe Biden did was surrender to Vladimir Putin on Nord Stream 2.

He gave Putin a multibillion-dollar pipeline, a pipeline that we had stopped. I had authored bipartisan sanctions legislation. Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly supported my legislation, and we killed that pipeline dead.


TED CRUZ: Joe Biden came in and surrendered. It is Margaret, I believe, a generational geopolitical mistake.

If this pipeline is allowed to go online, it will give billions of dollars to Russia. They will use it...


TED CRUZ: ... for military aggression against America and our allies.

It will undermine European security, American security. And it enriches Russia. And Biden simply surrendered to Putin. That was a mistake. And so I placed a hold on these nominees in order to try to pressure Biden to follow the law.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When will you lift it?

TED CRUZ: To follow the law. I will lift it when he follows the law.

And, in fact, I have suggested a simple, reasonable compromise, which is, I have said I will lift many of the holds if he simply triggers under a law called CAATSA, which is a Russian sanctions law passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.


TED CRUZ: Under CAATSA, he could list Nord Stream 2 AG, which is the umbrella company...


TED CRUZ: ... for Nord Stream, and then delist it.

That would solve his political objective of surrendering to Putin, but it would trigger an automatic congressional override veto.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Senator...

TED CRUZ: I have said, if they trigger the override veto, the vote, then I will lift the hold.

But the reason Biden doesn't want to do that is he knows -- or he fears he will lose the vote in Congress...


TED CRUZ: ... because his policy of surrendering to Russia is indefensible.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm going to keep talking to you. I'm going to keep talking to you, Senator.


MARGARET BRENNAN: So, I'm going to ask you to stay put if you could, because I have to take this break.

TED CRUZ: Great.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we're going to continue our conversation on the other side of it.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Tune in to Face the Nation next week for a special interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci. We look back into the origins of COVID.

That's next Sunday on Face the Nation.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with more from Senator Ted Cruz and the head of the NAACP.

Stay with us.



We want to continue our conversation with Senator Ted Cruz.

Senator, just before the break we were talking about the importance of standing up to some of the autocrats around the world. I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you about the state of our own democracy. I know you have condemned the violence on January 6th, but in that book "Peril," Bb Woodward and Robert Costa reported detailed conversations you had with the president, Donald Trump at that time, on January 6th and that you knew there was no congressional authority to overturn the election.

Didn't indulging the doubters damage our democracy and our standing in the world?

TED CRUZ: Well, I haven't read that particular book, and I didn't happen to have any conversations with President Trump on January 6th. But I can tell you, that under the Constitution, under the --

MARGARET BRENNAN: Didn't you talk to him as they detail in the -- in the -- they detail a number of conversations you had in the book with the president about challenging the election.

TED CRUZ: I -- I have no idea -- I have no idea what that book says. I have no idea what that book says, but I did not have any conversations with him on January 6th.

But I also know what the Constitution provides, and the --

MARGARET BRENNAN: Or leading up to January 6th?

TED CRUZ: I had many conversations with him in days and weeks and months leading up to January 6th. I -- I talked to the president sometimes as often as once a week or once a day.

I -- but my point is simple, under the Constitution, Congress has a role and has a responsibility when it comes to certifying votes. And what I did, I brought together a group of 11 senators, and we objected to call for an electoral commission to review the claims of voter fraud --


TED CRUZ: And to assess and make a determination to consider the evidence. And there's a strong historical precedent for that.


TED CRUZ: You look at 1876, in the election of 1876, there was a contested election. There were serious allegations of election fraud. And what Congress did in 1876 is it appointed an electoral commission. It consisted of five members of the Senate, five members of the House, five Supreme Court justices.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, but the -- the people -- you know that the people -- you know -- you know that what you're laying out is an intellectualized argument here is not what people gathered and chanting things like Mike Pence were talking about that. You know that.

TED CRUZ: Look, I -- I -- I think the violence that happened on that day was horrific. I think any acts of violence, regardless of your political orientation, if you're right wing, left wing, of you have no ideology at all, if you commit an act of violence, if you assault a police officer, if you're violent against anyone, you should be prosecuted and go to jail.


TED CRUZ: And that's what the law is. And so I -- I absolutely condemn acts of violence. But -- but what - - what I did was led 11 senators in a constitutional --

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the inspiration for them.

TED CRUZ: in a constitutional option, which I think would have been much better for our democracy because we, right now, have a substantial chunk of our country that has real doubts about the integrity of the election. And if we had had a credible, electoral commission do an emergency audit, it would have enhanced faith in democracy.


TED CRUZ: But, instead, Democrats and a lot of the press decided to just engage in incendiary rhetoric, rather than acknowledge voter fraud is realm, it is a problem.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, do you have a -- I want to --

TED CRUZ: And -- and -- and the allegations of voter fraud needed to be examined on the merits.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, Senator, there -- there is no evidence of fraud that would have really drawn the outcome of the election into doubt. You know that.

I want to ask you about 2024 and a race -- I want to ask you, are you -- are you --

TED CRUZ: Voter fraud has been persistent from the very first election that ever occurred.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you going to run for president in 2024? Would you challenge President Trump or are you endorsing him?

TED CRUZ: Look, I have no idea what's going to happen in 2024. Donald Trump is going to have to make a choice, first of all, whether he's going to run or not. I think if he chose to run, he would be very, very formidable.

I can tell you that when I ran in 2016, we came incredibly close. I came in second. There's a long history of runner-ups becoming the next nominee. And it was the most fun I've ever had in my life. But there's a lot of time between now and 2024.

My focus right now is 2022, because I think next November is going to be a wave election, an awful lot like 2010 was. I think Republicans are going to retake the House. They're going to retake the Senate. And I am spending my time recruiting candidates, supporting candidates, and working to retire both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer from their leadership positions.


TED CRUZ: Because I think the damage being done to this country--


TED CRUZ: Inflation, jobs being killed, open borders, weakness on foreign policy.


TED CRUZ: I think Virginia and New Jersey were foreshadowing for what's coming November of next year.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Senator, sounds like -- sounds like a campaign slogan.

All right, we will be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Like many Americans, we've been closely watching two trials related to race and the criminal justice system.

Mark Strassman reports from Atlanta.

(Begin VT)

MARK STRASSMAN (voice over): Kyle Rittenhouse, not guilty, sparked protests from New York --

MAN: All persons leave the area now.

MARK STRASSMAN: To Portland, Oregon, which police there labeled a riot. But in the divided states of America, that verdict from Wisconsin means both redemption --

MARK MCCLOSKEY, (U.S. Senate Candidate (R-MO)): It's nice to know that when individuals take the stand to defend themselves, that the jury system in this country will recognize their right of self-defense.

MARK STRASSMAN: And repudiation.

KYLE JOHNSON (Organizer, Black Leaders Organizing Communities): You can't tell me that these institutions are not sick. You cannot tell me that these institutions are not tainted with racism.

MARK STRASSMAN: In the chaos of Kenosha last August, Rittenhouse, then 17, killed two men with his AR-15-style assault rifle. He claimed self-defense.

Rittenhouse drove in from Illinois armed for battle. He knew outage already ran high. Two days earlier, a white cop had shot a black man seven times in the back. The officer was never charged.

EDITORS NOTE: Coverage during "Face the Nation" today of the protests following the verdict in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse stated Rittenhouse "drove in from Illinois armed for battle." Kyle Rittenhouse testified that he did not drive to Kenosha with a weapon. It was not illegal for Rittenhouse to posses that particular weapon. We apologize for this oversight in language.

Jacob Blake remains paralyzed from the waist down. Justin Blake, his uncle, angry about the Rittenhouse verdict.

JUSTIN BLAKE, (Jacob Blake's Uncle): We knew he wasn't going to jail for life. But we thought he'd go to jail and get spanked a little bit for his actions.

MARK STRASSMAN: And he believes had Rittenhouse been black --

JUSTIN BLAKE: They would have had him on the ground eating dirt or shot him dead on sight.

MARK STRASSMAN: Lots to unpack here. This country's ongoing moment of racial reckoning, vigilantism, and self-defense claims from armed people who deputize themselves. And frustration with what many see as America's two systems of justice, separate and unequal.

This murder trial of three men in Brunswick, Georgia, has all those issues.

TRAVIS MCMICHAEL, (Defendant): It was a -- this was a life-or-death situation. And I'm going to have to stop him from doing this. So, I shot.

MARK STRASSMAN: Ahmaud Arbery was jogging through a neighborhood. Three white men suspected him of burglary. They chased him, cornered him like a rat, one of them said later. In a confrontation, he initiated, Travis McMichael killed Arbery with his shotgun.

McMichael also claimed self-defense, often tough cases for prosecutors. They grilled him on the stand. How was Arbery a threat?

WOMAN: Didn't pull out any guns?


WOMAN: Didn't pull out any knife?


WOMAN: He hasn't said one word to you?


WOMAN: He's not threatened you in any way, verbally or physically?


MARK STRASSMAN: The Arbery case has echoes of Trayvon Martin nine years earlier. Both times, wannabe cops misidentified burglary suspects, young black men shot dead, gunman claims self-defense. No one's arrested for weeks.

A jury later found George Zimmerman, Martin's killer, not guilty of murder. In that Georgia case, closing arguments will begin tomorrow. Only one black juror will hear them.

MAN: This court has found that there appears to be intentional discrimination in the panel.

MARK STRASSMAN: That verdict, whatever it is, will fuel America's clashing definitions of justice and fairness.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That was Mark Strassman reporting.

We go now to the headline of the NAACP, Derrick Johnson, who joins us from Jackson, Mississippi.

Good morning to you, sir.

DERRICK JOHNSON, (President And CEO, NAACP): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, the jury accepted Kyle Rittenhouse's explanation that he was acting in self- defense. President Biden said, you know, this was disappointing in some ways, but the jury system works, and we have to abide by it.

You say the verdict itself was dangerous.

DERRICK JOHNSON: You know, it's hard for African-Americans to reconcile what we witnessed in that trial. We have far too many individuals sitting in jail for crimes they didn't commit or overcharged for crimes that were committed.

And here you have a 17-year-old who illegally purchased a gun, traveled across state lines to protect property that was not his, for owners that -- who did not invite him, and he put himself in harm's way based on the rhetoric that he seen on social media platforms. So it's hard to reconcile the verdict with the experience that many African-Americans have faced over the -- several decades.

So this -- this trial for us is a warning shot that vigilante justice is allowed in this country, or in particular communities.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Kyle Rittenhouse, as you know, has become this sort of icon for some within the conservative movement. He was used back -- during the campaign by the - - by the then Biden campaign team in a campaign video that positioned him as a white supremacist. His mother said that was defamatory to him.

The bottom line is, this is being politicized. And I'm wondering what you think the impact of that is.

DERRICK JOHNSON: Well, the current political environment has allowed for this type of behavior. The prior administration's opened the door. And many individuals who operate under the banner of white supremacy have run through the door, whether it's Charlottesville or the killings in Pittsburgh at the synagogue, or in Louisville.

And, unfortunately, until we have mature politicians willing to stand up, regardless of political affiliations, and address the questions of mob violence, vigilantism, but more importantly, the underlying issue of race in this country, something we have never truly addressed.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But there is no evidence of him being a white supremacist himself, correct?

DERRICK JOHNSON: Well, it's not about the evidence of him being a white supremacist. It is about the position that individuals like him find themselves in where they think they have to go and protect property because of peaceful protest in some cases of Black Lives Matter organizing.


DERRICK JOHNSON: Black Lives Matter is a values proposition. It's not an organization, in one sense, it's not about a hash tag, it's a value proposition that the lives of African-Americans have been diminished, and our lives matter. And when you have scenarios like what took place in Wisconsin that caused people to stand up for this police officer who paralyzed another innocent individual, you have to begin to ask -- we have to ask ourselves the questions, do we value the lives of not only African-Americans, but everyone? And what -- what he did was take up the mantle because the political climate allowed for him to do that.

We had a white supremacist in the White House, and it opened the door to this floodgate of vigilante violence. And that's the real question here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about a lawsuit that the NAACP has. You, along with Congressman Bennie Thompson, are suing the former president and Rudy Giuliani, his personal attorney, along with some extremist groups, alleging that they violated the Ku Klux Klan Act by conspiring with white supremacists to incite the violence at the Capitol on January 6th.

As you watch what's happening in Charlottesville, how do you think that that trial, if it has any connection at all, will influence your case?

DERRICK JOHNSON: You know, understanding the act was created after the Civil War had ended, and you had members of Congress pursuing a course to carry out their sworn duty. And any time you have a disruption for members of Congress from carrying out their sworn duty, that's a disruption and a violation of the act.

And that's what we sued on. Congressman Thompson had to step down as the lead plaintiff. Barbara Lee is now the lead plaintiff. But when you witness what took place on January 6th, it falls squarely on what the framers of the act intended. That members of Congress, Senate or House members, should not be under any threat of intimidation, violence, that would prevent them from carrying out their duty.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. I want to ask --

DERRICK JOHNSON: But to witness what was taking place -- go ahead.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sorry, before I let you go, I want to quickly ask you about the current president. His approval rating among black voters has dipped, 65 percent approve, 35 percent disapprove, according to our latest polling.

Do you believe President Biden's leading -- living up to the promises he made to black voters?

DERRICK JOHNSON: Still more work to do. I mean he's -- he's -- he's delivered on many promises. But the key thing for many of my members and people I talk to is voting right protection. And it's the time for the Senate to do their job, adopt voting right protections. The House has done their job. The Senate must do their job. The president must sign the bill.

And I also believe that as we progress in this administration, that will be the true tell. We are within a year of the administration. A lot of has been accomplished. There's still so much work to be done.


DERRICK JOHNSON: But the number one issue is voting right protections for African-American and for our democracy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. We'll watch those issues. Thank you very much, Mr. Johnson, for your time.

Don't go away.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Here in the U.S., the number of Covid-19 cases continues to increase, up 20 percent in the last two weeks, but the situation is far worse in parts of Europe.

CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports from Poland.

(Begin VT)

CHARLIE D'AGATA (voice over): The streets were ablaze as rioting erupted overnight in the Netherlands in a backlash against strict new Covid rules. A night after police fired on a demonstration in scenes the mayor called "an orgy of violence."

Tens of thousands protested in Austria, too, after the government there not only announced a new lockdown starting tomorrow, but ordered that vaccines would be compulsory by February 1st.

The country has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe and one of the highest daily infection rates. Per capita, five times worse than the United States. Europe has been racking up record numbers this week, a surge so worrying the World Health Organization warns up to half a million more Covid deaths by this spring.

In Germany, they're pulling down Christmas markets and considering a countrywide lockdown, too.

Poland also recording the highest infection rates since April. In this ward, the only empty bed we found had been occupied by a woman who just died.

CHARLIE D'AGATA (on camera): Europeans thought the darkest days of this nightmare pandemic were behind them. Yet, the Covid intensive care units are filling up once more. The difference is, last time, getting a vaccine was not an option.

How many patients will survive? How many will die?

MAN: Generally, about -- I don't know, about 20 percent will survive.

CHARLIE D'AGATA: Twenty percent survive.

MAN: Yes.

CHARLIE D'AGATA: None of them have been vaccinated.

MAN: Yes.


CHARLIE D'AGATA (voice over): Spokesperson Katazerna Malinofska (ph) said the numbers speak for themselves.

WOMAN: Ninety-five persons who are treated in intensive care are unvaccinated, and 99 person who die is unvaccinated.

(End VT)

CHARLIE D'AGATA: With the worst of the winter months ahead, health officials now face some tough decisions, mandatory lockdowns, compulsory vaccinations, or follow Austria's lead and do both.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Charlie D'Agata, thank you.

We go now to former FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who is on the board of Pfizer.

Good morning to you.

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, (Former FDA Commissioner): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, 62 million Americans who are eligible to be vaccinated still aren't. And according to the CDC, 85 percent of the counties in this country are in substantial or high transmission.

So, you've already predicted a post-Thanksgiving spike. Is it too early in places like Washington, D.C., to lift mask requirements?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, I think local officials need to base the rules on what the local prevalence is. And, right now, in some parts of the country, prevalence is very low when you look at the south and the southeast, even parts of the tristate region and the mid-Atlantic region, I think we need to be mindful that when we lift these restrictions we may have to implement them if things worsen.

Right now we're better in this country than we were a year from -- year ago. There were 170,000 cases on a seven day average a year from now, a year ago from today. We had about 77,000 people hospitalized. So we're in a better circumstance, but we're probably not as good as we should be given all the tools we have between the vaccines and the highly effective drugs and also how much infection we've had in this country and how much immunity is already in place.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Last Sunday you told us it was one of the biggest missed opportunities for the administration to not have rolled out boosters and made them eligible for all early on. The CDC now has said all adults may get a booster shot and that those over age 50 should get a booster.

Can you interpret that language for us?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, I think the reluctant nature by which CDC has been stepping into this debate reflects a broader ambivalence, or a broader debate happening in a public health community about whether the vaccine should be used as tools to protect people from bad outcomes from Covid or whether they should be used as tools to try to end the pandemic and control transmission. If you're recommending boosters for people 50 at over at this point, you're recommending a booster so that you can improve their immunity and protect them from a bad Covid outcome because we see clear evidence of declining immune protection in -- from the vaccines after six months, and that person is now at increased risk of having a severe case of Covid and having a bad outcome.

If you're recommending boosters at this point for younger individuals, people who are 20, people who are in their teens, even 30s, in that case there's a perception that you're recommending the booster, not necessarily to protect that individual, because they probably still have pretty good immune protection from the first two doses, and they were at lower risk anyway, but you're recommending the booster as a tool to try to make them less likely to pass on the virus.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You've already seen governors in Connecticut and New Mexico say three doses is fully vaccinated. Should the CDC say you need a booster to be considered fully vaccinated?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think at some point they're going to, but not this year. I think eventually this will be considered a three-dose vaccine. But I would be hard pressed to believe CDC is going to make that recommendation any time soon. In part because of this debate about whether or not younger people who are at less risk should be receiving that third dose.

In states where governors are looking to do this -- and I think some local communities will do it, some businesses are probably going to do it quite soon. I think in cases where entities are going to mandate three doses for people who are six months out from this second dose, they're doing that because they're using the vaccine as a way to control transmission and try to end this pandemic.

And, you know, there are people in the public health community who don't think that that's an inappropriate way to use the vaccine. But this is a debate that's going on right now in the public health community. And CDC's sort of stuttering approach to how they've embraced boosters is reflective of that debate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Labor Department's OSHA division said it's suspending enforcement of that Biden requirement to test or vaccinate business employees. We also saw Disney halt vaccine requirements in the state of Florida after the governor there said businesses can't carry out that kind of mandate.

In both cases, you have the government telling businesses what to do. If you're a business owner, if you're an employee, I mean, what should you be doing right now?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, I think it's not inappropriate for businesses to mandate vaccines. And certain businesses absolutely should be mandating vaccinations in their workplaces, healthcare settings, settings where you can't protect employees with other tools other than to make sure that you can keep the infection out of that setting. So settings where you have lots of employees working very closely together, it's hard to work in a masked environment in perpetuity.

I mean this is the unfortunate consequence of government officials getting into these private decisions. If we ultimately left these decision to mandate vaccines up to states, local districts, private business, I don't think you'd see this be a political fight at a national level. Now it's become a political fight at a national level, unfortunately, and you're going to see some governors trying to position themselves on this issue, like you've seen in Florida, and you're going to see the federal government, the Biden administration, now fighting those states and fighting to implement these OSHA rules.

The end result is that I think businesses that were going to move forward on mandates have moved forward. And businesses that are reluctant to do it are probably going to wait in place and see what happens with the outcome of the litigation involving OSHA. By the time this lawsuits ends up getting involved, probably we'll be through the surge that we're seeing right now, this delta surge, and maybe on the back end of the pandemic here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But for people, it leaves a lot of confusion with them about what they can be expected to do and what they can expect of their coworkers when they walk into the office.

Dr. Gottlieb, more to talk about with you, as always, but we've got to leave it there today. Thank you for your time and have a good Thanksgiving.

We'll be back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. We want to wish you and your families a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. And we will see you next Sunday with a big interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci. Until then, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.

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