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Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on September 8, 2019

9/8: Face The Nation
9/8: Face The Nation 47:23

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

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (read more)
  • Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis (read more)
  • Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. (read more)
  • Garrett Graff, "The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11" (watch)
  • CBS News Elections & Surveys Director Anthony Salvanto (read more)
  • CBS News Foreign Correspondent Charlie D'Agata in Kabul, Afghanistan (watch)
  • Panelists: Jamal Simmons, David Frum, Michael Crowley and Laura Barron-Lopez (watch)

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

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, September 8th. I'm Margaret Brennan and this is FACE THE NATION.

There is breaking news overnight as President Trump announces he has canceled plans for a secret Camp David retreat this weekend with the Taliban to finalize a peace deal in Afghanistan. The President's announcement by tweet said that his top-secret meeting had been immediately scrapped following the Taliban claiming credit for a bombing in Afghanistan that killed twelve people, including a U.S. serviceman. But there are questions this morning about why the talks fell apart and why the U.S. was embracing the Taliban in the first place.

Late last night Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Dover, Delaware, to observe the return of Sergeant Elis Barreto Ortiz. Ortiz is the sixteenth U.S. serviceman killed in Afghanistan this year.

Secretary Pompeo joins us today along with former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who led U.S. troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan after 9/11.

We'll also hear from Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons.

Plus, a brand new CBS News Battleground Tracker shows one candidate making important gains. We'll have the surprising results.

And we'll have analysis on all the news. It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. Just days before the eighteenth anniversary of the attacks against America on 9/11, President Trump tweets out a bombshell. He invited Taliban leaders to Camp David this weekend for a summit with Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani. Then President Trump abruptly called off the diplomacy, just days after U.S. officials had said a peace agreement was imminent. Negotiations had been ongoing for nearly a year between the U.S. and the Taliban to get that insurgent group to join the government of Afghanistan and stop trying to overthrow it. That goal would allow for the U.S. to withdraw troops. A senior Afghan official confirmed to me this morning that President Ghani had been informed in advance that the Taliban had been invited to Camp David and that it was the U.S. that called off Ghani's visit. It was not a cancellation made in protest by Ghani. I'm told the reason for the U.S. calling it off goes deeper than Trump's tweet in which he claimed it was the Thursday bombing that caused him to call off the talks. The chain of events also suggests that is the case. Our Charlie D'Agata is in Kabul, Afghanistan, this morning with more. Charlie.

CHARLIE D'AGATA (CBS News Foreign Correspondent/@charliecbs): Well, Margaret, moments ago we put the direct question to President Ghani's spokesman: Was President Ghani invited to Camp David? Three times we asked. Each time we were told no comment, which just underlines the sensitivities over that issue here. What I can tell you, is this is an impromptu press conference called in direct reaction to those tweets and developments overnight? Now, the other takeaway is when President Trump openly criticized the Taliban for intensifying violence, including that explosion here in Kabul that killed a U.S. soldier. Spokesman told us President Ghani was happy to hear that and that they're, quote, "Finally on the same page." Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's Charlie D'Agata in Kabul.

We turn now to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mister Secretary, good morning.

MIKE POMPEO (Secretary of State/@SecPompeo): Good morning. Good to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Good to have you here. It's been an eventful twenty-four hours. Do you deny that there were other issues that played into the cancellation of these talks?

MIKE POMPEO: Margaret, you have to go back to first principles and what we've been trying to do for, frankly, two and a half years of the Trump administration in Afghanistan. President Trump made clear we wanted to do everything we could to reduce risk to the United States, that we would not have terror strike the United States from Afghanistan as it did on 9/11 and we would never give up protecting the American people. But, at the same time, we want to make sure we've got the Force Posture right that, you know, the thirty-plus billion dollars a year that we're spending there is not a sustainable model. And he wanted to reduce that. So we entered negotiations with the Afghan government, we've worked closely with President Ghani over the past months. We've worked with other Afghan leaders. We've worked with the Taliban to try and get the Taliban to commit to reducing violence.


MIKE POMPEO: They had committed to doing so. To get them to agree to talk to their other taf-- Afghan brothers and sisters, something that multiple administrations have tried to do for, goodness, fifteen-plus years now. We had that and to get them to make a public commitment to break with al Qaeda something that as far back as the Bush administration Americans had been trying to get. We got that, too. And so--

MARGARET BRENNAN: They never agreed to a cease fire. The violence has been--

MIKE POMPEO: That-- so-- so--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --intensifying throughout.

MIKE POMPEO: So back-- back to where we were. We were working to deliver that set of outcomes so that we could make good decisions about American treasure and risk. I was just a few hours ago out at Dover Air Force Base for the dignified transfer of the remains of Sergeant First Class Barretto. I was with his family, amazing patriots. I led the CIA where we had officers in harm's way taking real risk every night. President Trump is committed to reducing that risk so that there will be fewer fallen American soldiers--heroes. This is-- this is the mission set; we're trying to do that through peace and reconciliation negotiations. I-- I hope that we can get back to doing that. But it's going to take more than words as President Trump demonstrated. If-- if the Taliban can't live up to their commitments, if they're going to continue to do the things that they've been doing, and--


MIKE POMPEO: --as we approached this decision point in the discussions with the Afghans they blow up and-- blow up Kabul and kill an American, President Trump will never do that. He-- he walked away in Hanoi from North Koreans when they wouldn't--


MIKE POMPEO: --do a deal that made sense for America. He will do that with the Iranians. When the Chinese moved away from the trade agreement that they had promised us they would make he broke up those conversations, too. I--I hope we can get to this place. It will be good for the Afghan people.


MIKE POMPEO: And if we can get it right, it will be good for American national security as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Certainly. Sixteen Americans have been killed--

MIKE POMPEO: Yes, Ma'am.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --in Afghanistan this year. The President said on August 29th, that he is taking U.S. troops down to eighty-six hundred. Is that still the plan? Is that happening?

MIKE POMPEO: We're going to have to take a good look at that. We're going to always, as we-- every time we make decisions, and I've watched the President, this will be a-- the President, the Department of Defense's decision about what our force posture will ultimately be. We want to make--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that order has not been given and he does not intend to do that yet? That's--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --up for consideration?

MIKE POMPEO: We want to make sure every place that there is the risk of terror to the United States--not just Afghanistan, in the Sahel, in the Philippines, we have terror risk all across the world. We want to make sure, always, that we have the right number of forces, the right composition of our forces. We've got great partners in Afghanistan with our NATO partners who are there fighting alongside of us, as well. President Trump will always make the decision about what the right level of American military activity is. And as I think he suggested--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So he is standing by that decision, though?

SEC POMPEO: I-- I think--

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's what I'm asking you to clarify.

MIKE POMPEO: I think as you saw in his tweet last night, you know, we've killed over a thousand Taliban in just the last ten days. So it has not been the case that we've been negotiating with our hands tied behind our back. Unfortunately, applying military pressure to the Taliban is necessary to get the negotiated outcome that we're looking for and we're going to-- we're going to keep at that and we'll always protect America.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So fourteen thousand is where it stays for the foreseeable future?

MIKE POMPEO: I-- I can't answer that question. Ultimately, the President's decision--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Because it was in the deal that within a hundred and thirty-five days, it was going down to eighty-six hundred--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --and the President said that was happening.

MIKE POMPEO: We-- we are-- we are absolutely intent upon ensuring that we roost-- that reduce the risk that weill have more folks coming back through Dover.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you went to that dignified transfer last night and that had to be incredibly moving moment. It is the fact that those deaths have continued, that the Taliban never agreed to a cease-fire, that it is the week of 9/11, that this was Camp David that has caused some concern even among Republican allies of the President. Congresswoman Liz Cheney out this morning saying that no member of the Taliban should ever go to Camp David. That was where U.S. leaders fled to as safe haven the night of 9/11. Who told the President that this was the appropriate place for the Taliban to visit? You, yourself, have called them terrorists.

MIKE POMPEO: Yeah. Look, I-- I don't talk about internal negotiation or deliberations and who said what to whom and when. I've-- I've honored that for two and a half years now. But make no mistake, we were very thoughtful. We thought about this a long time. And, ultimately, the President made the decision that this was the right place. We-- we know the history of Camp David. That's where peace has been negotiated many, many times and, sadly, you often have to deal with some pretty bad characters to get peace. I-- I'd say to anybody who say you shouldn't negotiate with the Taliban, tell me how else they'd like us to talk to-- to try and get reconciliation, Afghanistan something like the Af--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I guess, as the President himself in Camp David--

MIKE POMPEO: --it's something that the Afghan people-- it's something that the Afghan people want--


MIKE POMPEO: --and something that would be a great thing for America's service members and for American national security. We're-- we-- we understand who the Taliban are. We're clear-eyed and I assure you that even today on the ground, General Miller has all the authority he needs to make sure he preserves and protects American fighting forces there and takes it to the bad guys. So, we're-- we're still at this hard. We'll still be at it hard. In the end, we hope that we can find a solution that reduces the level of violence and increases the probability that we won't have to have more American lives destroyed, more heroes--


MIKE POMPEO: --returned.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Had the Taliban ever accepted the invitation to come to camp-- Camp David?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Because in a statement today to Tolo News they said that they were invited at the end of August, but that they postponed it until an agreement had--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --been signed.

MIKE POMPEO: Yeah. There-- there--

MARGARET BRENNAN: That agreement was not signed.

MIKE POMPEO: There-- that-- that-- that's correct. There-- there's been some confusion. I-- I think there are other folks speaking. It's a-- a suffice it to say, we-- we were confident that we were going to be able to have these meetings, what would be this afternoon, at Camp David.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And why was that meeting called off?

MIKE POMPEO: Yeah, the President was very clear.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, he said it was immediately called--

MIKE POMPEO: That they didn't deliver--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --off on Thursday--

MIKE POMPEO: --they-- they-- they didn't--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --after this killing.

MIKE POMPEO: They-- they--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, as I said, sixteen U.S. service people have been killed and throughout that U.S. negotiators have continued to come back to the negotiating table.

MIKE POMPEO: Yes, Ma'am. We've given better than we've gotten I can assure you. And I want to assure the American people of that as well. It's not a war of attrition, that's not my point. My point is that we-- we didn't do what previous administrations have done when they entered into negotiations. They-- they were incapable of fighting and talking. We-- we did both. We continued to protect the United States of America during those tough negotiations. You know as for the timing, I'm not going to get into it because it's not appropriate. But know this: the President ultimately made the conclusion that the meetings today wouldn't deliver on the outcome that he's demanding we get for the American people and when he saw that-- when he saw that they couldn't deliver on the reduction in violence commitments that they had made--


MIKE POMPEO: --he said there's no sense in having this meeting.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mister Secretary, a lot on your plate, a lot to talk to you about. We have to leave it there for today.

MIKE POMPEO: Thank you very much, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Secretary Pompeo's former colleague Secretary of Defense James Mattis. He is also a retired Marine Corps general and the author of Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead. Thank you for being here. Good morning to you.

GENERAL JAMES MATTIS (U.S. Marine Corps Retired/Former Secretary of Defense/Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead): Good morning, Margaret. Good to be here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thousands of Americans have died at the hand-- hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan. They gave safe haven to Osama bin Laden to plan the 9/11 attacks. Did you ever think you'd see the day when the Taliban was invited to Camp David?

GENERAL JAMES MATTIS: Well, it was a surprise, Margaret, but I would say that all wars, eventually, come to an end and I salute efforts to try to end that war. No doubt. Secretary Pompeo, just before we are speaking here, he mentioned that we have to stay true to first principles. And I think that we are seeing what he said come true.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You were involved from the very beginning of this war--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --in the invasion in 2001. In your experience can the Taliban ever be trusted to make a clean break with terrorists and honor a diplomatic deal?

GENERAL JAMES MATTIS: Well, you're going to the heart of the issue right there: can they be trusted? You remember when we reduced nuclear weapons with Russia we talked about trust, but verify. In this case with this group, I think you want to verify then trust. We've asked them-- demanded that they break with al-Qaeda since the Bush administration, they've refused to do so. They murdered three thousand innocent people. Citizens of ninety-one countries on 9/11. We should never forget that, that the Taliban hid those people among them, refused to break with them, and have refused to this day to break. So I think Secretary Pompeo say-- saying go back to first principles is exactly the right thing to do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But every single Democrat running for President is promising to bring the troops home. President Trump campaigned on bringing the troops home.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You're saying just pulling out is the wrong decision.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Can you remind people why there needs to be a continued presence there?

GENERAL JAMES MATTIS: Right. The-- the fact is we need to maintain an influence there until the government of Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan are strong enough to deny Afghanistan as a safe haven. Now one--

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Taliban controls so much territory right now.

GENERAL JAMES MATTIS: Well, they do. And-- and wars go like that sometimes. But the point is that you may want a war over. You may even declare a war over, but the enemy gets a vote. A-- a fact brought home to me repeatedly over my forty years of service.

MARGARET BRENNAN: If you had to fight this war again, and I know you don't get do overs--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --but would you have done something differently?

GENERAL JAMES MATTIS: Well, you can always look back and, hopefully, learn from what you did, learn from the lessons of the-- of the reality on the battlefield that sort of thing. But I think the fundamentals of forcing al-Qaeda and terrorist groups out of those safe havens, ensuring that the Taliban do not give them safe havens, those goals should be foremost and any other goals we then attach to those should be secondary. Don't let them distract you from that primary goal.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you think America got distracted?

GENERAL JAMES MATTIS: I-- I believe we did whether it was the war in Iraq or we are back there and we're trying to do perhaps some people say too much in the country. You have to embrace the culture you're in. You don't surrender what we're about, but you cannot walk in and say you are going to turn another culture around in a matter of a couple of years from things that they've stood for over the generations. So, you just have to accept at times you have to have limited goals, but you should not have limited resources. You should put in whatever resources are necessary so when our diplomats negotiate--


GENERAL JAMES MATTIS: --they negotiate from a position of strength.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have made clear that you will not speak ill of President Trump. You will not speak about him. You say out of respect. In your book you do talk about policy disagreements with past Presidents--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --that you served under, with Bush and with President Obama as well. With-- drawdown from Iraq--you wrote about Vice President Biden and you said you were telling him what you were seeing on the ground in Iraq and warning him of what a pullout would do. You wrote, "He exuded the confidence of a man whose mind was made up, perhaps, even indifferent to considering the consequences were he judging the situation incorrectly."

GENERAL JAMES MATTIS: Yeah. Well, I was writing a history book at that point, Margaret, because I started writing this book in 2013. It was done pretty much by version five, by 2017. Had I known the former vice president was going to run for office, I assure you, I would not have probably been that-- that forthcoming. Why do I do that--

MARGARET BRENNAN: What should people understand about what you meant there? Were you raising questions about his judgment?

GENERAL JAMES MATTIS: I think the Obama administration-- President Obama's administration had made the decision to leave Iraq despite what the intelligence community was telling us would happen. They were very clear that an al-Qaeda-associated group would rise, that the Iraqi government, the Iraqi people, the Iraqi nation was in a post-combat, pre-reconciliation phase. We needed to keep our influence there a little longer and drawdown year by year. Not draw everyone out at one time. The intelligence community was very clear. They forecasted the rise of a group, you and I know it as ISIS, and we should have taken their advice on board.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think that your resignation did help to stop the withdrawal from Syria because U.S. troops remain there now?

GENERAL JAMES MATTIS: Well, I'll-- I'll let the historians sort that out. I-- I don't know what all went into the decision to reverse that-- that call, to pull everyone out. But I-- I-- I just I-- I can't answer that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You write that Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world, from your perspective.


MARGARET BRENNAN: What is the biggest national security threat?

GENERAL JAMES MATTIS: I think the biggest national security threat can be broken into two segments. One is external, and, clearly, those nations Russia and China that are trying to impose their authoritarian models and decisions over other countries whether it'd be in the South China Sea or in the Ukraine, in parts of Georgia that Russia has occupied. They've mucked around in our elections. So, externally, I would look at those two and that's why we rewrote the National Defense Strategy to acknowledge the reality of those nations. Not the nations we wanted to be dealing with, but Russia of Putin. The reality. The Russia, President Xi or excuse me-- the China President Xi. But, internally, my bigger concern is two-fold. It's-- it's our growing debt that we're going to transfer to the younger generation with seeming no fiscal discipline and more than that it's the-- it's the lack of friendliness. It's the increasing contempt I see between Americans who have different opinions. I mean we're going to have to sit down and remember if we want this country to survive we are going to have to work together. And-- and that-- there-- there's no way around that. That's the way a democracy is set up. So, I would-- I would break it into those two fundamental difference threats right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: On that note, we will leave it there. I think a lot of people would agree with you, like everyone to be a little bit friendlier these days. One other thing before you go though, I want to wish you a happy birthday.

GENERAL JAMES MATTIS: Oh, thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we will be back in a minute with Democratic Senator Chris Coons. He's standing by live.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Democrat Chris Coons who's on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He's usually in Delaware when we talk to him. So we're glad to have you here face to face. Good morning.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS (D-Delaware/@ChrisCoons): Thanks, Margaret. Great to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Obama administration tried to negotiate with the Taliban.


MARGARET BRENNAN: They never got this far.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Why do you have a problem with the Trump administration doing it?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: I don't have a problem with the Trump administration trying to resolve our very long conflict in Afghanistan through direct negotiations with the Taliban. And I agree that we should not fully withdraw from Afghanistan until we've got conditions on the ground that will prevent it from becoming once again a haven for terrorists who might attack us, as happened on 9/11. But I disagree with how our President goes about his negotiations around the world. He seems to think that he and he alone individually can negotiate with Kim Jong-un in North Korea, with Xi Jinping in China, or in this case with the Taliban.


SENATOR CHRIS COONS: We don't even have an ambassador in Pakistan or in Jordan. I am concerned that our President isn't listening to his generals, to his diplomats, to the intelligence community. Frankly, that's largely why General Mattis, for whom I have huge respect, resigned in protest-- was our President's tendency to make abrupt decisions without knowing the context or the region, and without relying on the advice of the skilled diplomats and generals we have.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Lindsey Graham was on this program recently raised a concern that the President wasn't listening to his national security advisers in Afghanistan. Do you think Congress needs to put some kind of backstop in place to keep the troop number at a certain level like he's trying to do?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: I do think that we need to be engaged in a bipartisan way in making it clear why we value sustained engagement in the world to prevent terrorism from coming to our shores again. This, frankly, is also why I believe Joe Biden would be our best next President, is I think he has deep and wide experience in foreign policy and understands the values of our alliances.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're a Biden surrogate.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: I am a Biden supporter.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you know what his plan is to draw down troops or to negotiate a end to the war?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: I can't speak to the specifics of how he would, but I know that unlike our current president he would rely upon and listen to the advice of generals and diplomats. I also think that he's learned from his experience. He has spent decades in Foreign Service, as has General Mattis, as both a senator and a vice president. Look, history moves and if you don't learn from history you can't shape it. One of the things I most respect about General Mattis is how deeply read he is in history. One of my concerns about our current President is-- is his shallow understanding of recent history.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman Tim Ryan, who's running against Joe Biden, raised questions this week publicly about whether Biden has the energy and suggested he's declining in clarity.


MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you respond to that?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: I disagree with the congressman. I've known Joe for decades. The reason that I think Joe Biden is consistently top in the polls over and over is because the American people know his heart as I do. They know that he would lead a real change in our place in the world and strengthen our security and prosperity by reembracing our allies. And that, frankly, in the United States he was called middle-class Joe for decades in the Senate because he's never forgotten where he's from-- from Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Claymont, Delaware. He is the person who I think can actually deliver the change that our middle class is looking for. That's what Donald Trump ran on, but it's not what he's delivered. I do think a Biden administration would make the changes that would strengthen our middle class.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congress is coming back to work sometime soon.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Some would say tomorrow.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There you go. But the question is whether they're actually getting to work on anything related to gun legislation. We haven't heard any specifics from the Republican leadership. What are you trying to get done?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Well, Senator Pat Toomey and I--Pat's a Republican Senator from Pennsylvania. We've been working hard on our bipartisan bill the NICS Denial Notification Act. Tragically, in August, we lost fifty more Americans in mass shooting incidents in Dayton and El Paso, in Odessa. The Odessa shooter failed a background check. Our bill would make sure that state law enforcement is promptly notified when someone fails a background check. I have been talking with Republicans, with Democrats, with the White House over the August recess. I am hopeful President Trump will--


SENATOR CHRIS COONS: --actually lead on this issue next week. Take a position. Stick with it. The American people deserve no less.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be tracking that. Thank you very much--

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --Senator Coons and a very early happy birthday to you.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Thanks for joining us.

And we'll be right back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Coming up next Sunday on FACE THE NATION, we'll have a diplomatic duo. We'll talk to both former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with more FACE THE NATION in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. There is big news in our CBS News Battleground Tracker. That's our survey of the Democratic candidates and how they are doing in the early contests. There are eighteen states in our aggregate, starting with the Iowa caucus up through Super Tuesday. And there is a big reshuffling in the top tier. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is now at twenty-six percent support, just ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden at twenty-five percent. The third candidate in our top tier is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. He has nineteen percent support. In the second tier, those are the candidates with higher single digits. California's Senator Kamala Harris now has eight percent support. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has six percent. Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke has four percent, and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker are at two percent. The rest of the field comes in with one percent of the vote or less. Joining us now is CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto. Anthony, always good to have you here. Tell me about this reshuffling.

ANTHONY SALVANTO (CBS News Elections and Surveys Director/@SalvantoCBS): Well, this is the story of Elizabeth Warren rising, not necessarily Joe Biden falling. He is about where he has been. But her support and that boost she is getting is as a result of other candidates, now former supporters, moving to Elizabeth Warren. And we have seen this because in this survey, we have gone back and reinterviewed thousands of voters since the summer. And what we see is, in particular, from Kamala Harris, her supporters are now moving to Elizabeth Warren, and at twice the rate that they've moved to Joe Biden and to other candidates. So, she's clearly picking up some of them. She's consolidating a little bit of the liberal side of the Democratic Party, and also her electability ratings are on the rise. She's sixteen points higher in being perceived by Democrats as being electable, as being able to beat President Trump, and that's always been a key criteria. And, lastly, you know, Margaret, I want to emphasize, this is in those early eighteen states that you mentioned, where the campaigns are really focusing. They are first ones to hold contests, and so that movement really reflects I think where the campaigns are putting their energy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So Warren's gain is Harris' loss, but what does this mean for Joe Biden?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: There's still some good news here. He's still up in our delegate count. And here's what that means. I know it sounds like it's a far-off thing. There's the Democratic Convention next summer, but, ultimately, this campaign is a fight for delegates, and delegates are handed out to top finishers in all of these states. Really any candidate that gets above fifteen percent. Well, by the time you get through all of those states, Joe Biden is doing well enough. He's racking up a lot of delegates, a lot of votes in places like South Carolina, that he still has the overall delegate lead in that estimate when we take these vote preferences and we translate them into how the delegates would be awarded in the states.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that's important still to actually clinching the nomination?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yeah. By the time you-- when you get to next summer and you're at the convention--


ANTHONY SALVANTO: --the balloons drop, that's how the delegates are actually awarded to candidates.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So let's take a look at some of those key states.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we have them here. We'll bring them up on the screen, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, what are they telling you?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Iowa is tight. It's still with Biden ahead, just narrowly over Bernie Sanders. But then some news out of New Hampshire, where we know that war-- war-- Elizabeth Warren has been really ramping up, staffing up, campaigning a lot, she is now very narrowly ahead of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. That's effectively a three-way race there. South Carolina, I mentioned Joe Biden still has a substantial lead there. African-American support really critical. And then in Nevada, often overlooked--


ANTHONY SALVANTO: --but an important early primary, we've got Bernie Sanders narrowly up on Joe Biden.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So with this information, what do people do with it? What do they predict going forward?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: I think what you watch is who has room to move and room to grow, by which I mean, are candidates being considered by voters even if those voters are not making them their first choice yet? And what we see is that Elizabeth Warren does seem to have even more room to grow because she is being considered now by more than half of Democratic voters, even the ones who are not making her their first choice. Even when they describe the candidates--


ANTHONY SALVANTO: --not she is seen as electable or increasingly electable, but that's still Joe Biden's strong suit. He is still seen as the most.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And electable means--

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Being able to beat President Trump in the minds of--


ANTHONY SALVANTO: --in the minds of Democrats. And that's really been the top criteria for them. They want somebody they think can go on next November 2020 and beat President Trump.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thanks so much, Anthony Salvanto.

And as always, all of the results are available on our website at We'll be right back with our political panel.


MARGARET BRENNAN: It's time now for our political panel. Jamal Simmons is a Democratic strategist and host on Hill TV, David Frum is a staff writer at The Atlantic, Michael Crowley is a White House correspondent covering foreign policy for The New York Times, and Laura Barron-Lopez is a national political reporter at Politico. Good to have you on FACE THE NATION.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ (Politico/@lbarronlopez): Thank you.0

MARGARET BRENNAN: We just revealed that Battleground Tracker that moves Eli-- Elizabeth Warren into the top spot. Is that also what you've been hearing out there on the campaign trail?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes. We've seen-- as I-- if-- as I have been on the campaign trail as a number of my colleagues have been, we've seen this slow and steady rise from Warren. She has very systematically put a lot of boots on the ground in places like Iowa and New Hampshire and Nevada. She has been very methodical about getting data on voters. And she has been trying to really utilize her niche, which is I have plans for almost everything. And she is really heavily leaned into that, and it appears to be working because she is slowly gaining on Biden.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it also suggests, according to our polling, that there is more attraction to this idea of the progressive wing of the party. Jamal.

JAMAL SIMMONS (Hill.TV/@JamalSimmons): Yeah. I think my-- my math for this election has been pretty consistent. With-- the Democrats need a progressive that they can sell to the center, not a centrist that they have to sell this to the progressive-- to the progressive wing. I mean that's sort of what the John Kerry election was in 2004. That's sort of what the Hillary Clinton election was in 2015. It doesn't work out very well. I want to say this: if you look at the history of the New Hampshire primary, been five times a Massachusetts official has run in the New Hampshire primary. Democrat and Republicans since 1988. Each one of those people either won the Massachusetts-- the New Hampshire primary or they came in second like Romney, but all of them got over thirty percent. Mitt Romney got the lowest at about thirty-one, thirty-two percent when he ran in 2008. So the idea-- the probability is that Elizabeth Warren will win the New Hampshire primary. What does that do to Joe Biden whose entire election is predicated on--


JAMAL SIMMONS: --him being the winner when he may not be winning?

MARGARET BRENNAN: David, you saw in just the past few hours another entrant into the Republican race. Mark Sanford, the former congressman from South Carolina, wants to challenge President Trump. Trump campaign says, eh, it's irrelevant. Is it?

DAVID FRUM (The Atlantic/@davidfrum): Well, they have certainly made it so that Mark Sanford will not be able to vote for himself in his own state's primary because they have shut down the state primary. Donald Trump is so popular in the Republican Party that he does not want Republicans to vote on his re-nomination, that's how popular he is. There-- the-- the story of the Republican Party--

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's not unprecedented that the caucus has been canceled in some of his states.

DAVID FRUM: It is-- it is not unprecedented, but it is something where-- when a President wants to demonstrate the-- the strength of his support in the party that these kinds of acclimations can-- can be useful. The key to Donald Trump's position in the Republican Party is a problem of fractions, which is that he is getting a bigger and bigger share of a smaller and smaller party.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Bigger and big-- bigger share of a smaller--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --and smaller party, but, yet, not willing to count him out.

DAVID FRUM: Well, that he is going to be the nominee, I think, that we count him in.

MARGARET BRENNAN: No. But potential reelection?

DAVID FRUM: His-- his potential reelection, I think, suddenly looks worse this fall than it did this summer.


DAVID FRUM: The-- the story that things are beginning to go wrong. The price of his policies is arriving. The bread-and-butter issues, you can just see everywhere around us, the signs not of economic trouble actually but of economic warning. And we're seeing consumer confidence leaking. We are seeing some financial markets reacting badly, and we're seeing that the things the President might try to do to save the economy are temperamentally unavailable to him. That he-- to find some way of reaching some kind of agreement with the Chinese on taking off the table the stupid things that we're arguing about like washing machines and focusing on the important things, intellectual property and the security--


DAVID FRUM: --of the 5G-- 5G network. He can't do that. And the consequences of his inability are affecting real people's wages--


DAVID FRUM: --which are now flat, and soon will be affecting real people's jobs.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Michael Crowley, President Trump has sold himself as a dealmaker. We just saw another potential deal literally fall apart in the last--

MICHAEL CROWLEY (New York Times/@michaelcrowley): Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --twenty-four hours with Afghanistan.

MICHAEL CROWLEY: Yeah. Yeah. Well, first of all, what an amazing turn of events. I think that much of Washington was prepared for a big announcement that they had reached a conclusion. Now everything is kind of in pieces on the floor, and it's an example I think of how, you know, the President practices this kind of wild, seat-of-the-pants diplomacy reminds me a lot in broad strokes of his approach to North Korea, the North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un. You know, I'm going to go meet with this guy who's had basically never been with-- met another foreign leader before. Everyone was astonished, you can't do that. Yes, I can. This Camp David thing would have been the same thing. You know, this is-- this is crazy. What are you talking about? The Taliban is going to come to America? They are going to come to Camp David a few days before 9/11? And this is how the President operates. And I think he loves to, kind of, gob-smack us and also thinks that by, kind of, breaking through these walls things become possible. But, Margaret, we're not seeing the results. I mean his diplomacy with North Korea has, essentially, gone nowhere. Kim Jong-un is still producing nuclear material at a pretty steady pace, launching short-range missiles. Yes, he has stopped some tests. And Afghanistan now, you know, this peace process is in tatters and who knows what happens next. So this President's improvisational, wild style, I think, you know, earlier in his administration, some people thought, wow, he might actually be able to get some things done that other Presidents couldn't with their conventional ways. I think there is a lot more skepticism about that right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, yet, this is a popular thing to run on for Democrats, the idea of ending the war, bringing the boys home is something every single candidate says they are going to do. Very few have actually detailed how they are going to do it. Does this force Democrats to answer those questions now? Or do we just move on to the next crisis?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: I-- I think a bit of both. I think you might see some Democrats trying to answer that, to strike another contrast with Trump. But, again, a lot of what's going on, on the-- during the prime-- in the primary race right now is very insulated. They aren't always reacting to Trump or what he is doing in the immediate sense. They are staying focused on the plans and the visions that they want to bring to the voters.

DAVID FRUM: And this may be an opportunity for all normal politicians to reintroduce the American people the basic concepts of operationality. You know, there are reasons why these kinds of discussions are handled at the special envoy or assistant secretary level and not brought to Camp David until there is a success to announce, that you do not commit the President's time, and maybe Democratic candidates could begin. Because, like, one of the great thing-- challenges for the country in 2021, if there is a Democratic President, is all those progressive energy you describe. It's going to find itself running into a whole series of objective walls, a probable Republican majority in the Senate, terrible fiscal problems even if--


DAVID FRUM: --there isn't a recession, much worse fiscal problems if there is, the intractability of the health care problem. So, I-- one of the-- that the-- this moment which is not central to people's voting concerns is a good moment to say, these problems are hard. They are difficult. We are not making promises. We certainly are going to do our best.


DAVID FRUM: But we're going to do our best through channels and we're going to have a special envoy in Afghanistan, not the President doing seat-of-the-pants diplomacy, as Michael calls it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jamal, I want to ask you as well about, you know, pre-- gaffes, I guess, is the word--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --we can use on the campaign trail. Kamala Harris, who we showed in our poll, was losing some ground to the benefit of Elizabeth Warren had to apologize for something she said at a rally this week. Or-- let's listen to what she said.

MAN: There needs to be accountability.


MAN: I mean what are you going to do in the next one year--


MAN: --to diminish the mentally retarded action of this guy?

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS: Well said. Well said.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I played that so people could judge for themselves. What was she laughing at?

JAMAL SIMMONS: You know, it was a bad moment. And I think her campaign would have come off better if she'd said after this when they asked her. You know what, I reacted poorly to that. I wish I hadn't, instead of saying she hadn't heard it. But that's what happens in campaigns. Campaigns have bad moments. Elizabeth Warren is still trying to get past the Pocahontas, and the DNA and all that other stuff. Campaigns have bad moments. The next question is: What are you offering the people, right? Donald Trump is going to say all the things that it is he's going to say about the Democratic nominee. The question is: What are you offering people that they want to be out there and be for and they're going to go and rally behind you because of that-- despite whatever mistakes it is that you've made. And I think people are still waiting to hear from Kamala Harris a concise message about what those things-- excuse me, about what those things are.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Crowley, Sharpie-gate?

MICHAEL CROWLEY: Thank you for asking. Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do we make of it?

MICHAEL CROWLEY: Well, look, you know, we-- we-- we know the details by now. The President taking a Sharpie to his hurricane map and on some level it's a total theater of the absurd. On another, I think it's, you know, encapsulates American politics right now. You know, the President, essentially, tried to distort facts. He got the facts wrong, then tried to retroactively distort them. It looks like he enlisted government officials to back him up. Wouldn't back down, showed, number one, a complete obsession with media coverage, and, number two, an incredibly thin skin. But I think that, you know, there's forty, maybe forty and change percent of the country that thinks this was the media-- the White House's line. You know this is the media going after Trump relentlessly, making too much out of something that wasn't that big of a deal. And this is like this rinse, wash, and repeat cycle we have in the country where now about half the country thinks the President, basically, isn't playing with a full deck and some large number thinks that he can't get a fair shake. And it's going to come right down to November. And I think it'd be close calls to which one of these sides tilts higher.

JAMAL SIMMONS: But isn't the National Weather Service event the bigger part of this story, the fact that the President said something that wasn't right, and the scientists and the government are being compelled to, one, not contradict the President, and then, two, put out a statement that seems to contradict other scientists and the government.

DAVID FRUM: Well-- and also the President's own defense also raises an interesting point. The President's defense is I heard at one point that Alabama was at risk.


DAVID FRUM: By the time I made my statement, Alabama was no longer at risk, and I insisted it was. The question is, well, what were you doing in that interval? And the answer was, I was taking no briefings because I was golfing. And-- and I think that-- these-- these stories even the small ones, they reveal something about a unique process of government, in which the President does not take his responsibility seriously. It's not just a matter of lying, it's a matter of not doing the work, and that's what necessitates the lie.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Laura, there were a number of stories regarding controversy surrounding Trump properties, from the vice president staying at one in Ireland, to what we are now looking at with an investigation in Congress, into properties in Scotland. Tell us what we need to know.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. So the House Judiciary and House Democrats as a whole are expanding their scope. And they want to define very clearly what their impeachment inquiry would look like. And so on top of potential obstruction of justice issues that came out from the Mueller report, they are adding to that by wanting to look into whether or not the President has violated the emoluments clause, whether or not he is profiting off of the presidency with stays like Pence's in Doonbeg, in Ireland, as well as the President's suggestion that the G7 stay in Doral-- at the Doral resort in Florida next year. And so Democrats want to add those to their impeachment inquiry. And we could see a vote as early as next week on-- on adding this extended scope.

JAMAL SIMMONS: Are the Trump--

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will watch for that this week.

JAMAL SIMMONS: --are the Trump hotels a presidential tip jar. That's what we need to know.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll leave it there. Thank you.

We'll be back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back now with journalist Garrett Graff. He has a new book out called "The Only Plane in the Sky." It's a detailed account of the morning of September 11, 2001, told by those who lived through it. Garrett, it's good to have you here you know, and reading this, it was very powerful. These are first-person accounts. It's an oral history. Why did you write it this way? It's not a narrative. It's an oral history.

GARRETT GRAFF (The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11/@vermontgmg): And the goal was very much to capture the way that Americans experience that day. You know, we're coming up now. This week will be the eighteenth anniversary of the attack, and we're watching this traumatic moment in American history slip from memory to history. And when we say "never forget," I think we fail to remember just how traumatic, chaotic, and fearful that day actually really was to experience. So the goal was to tell the story, not the facts of the day, which we all know and remember, but the experience of the day, how Americans lived it, coast to coast, morning to night.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And reliving it is painful for a lot of people. Why do you think it's important to go through that?

GARRETT GRAFF: Well, I think you saw it actually even just this morning. We are still living with the consequences of that day. We are living, you know, still with the world that that day shaped. And it was shaped by the fear, the trauma, and the chaos that the policy-makers experienced that day and their decision and their dedication that that should never happen again. And, you know, we-- we now see American servicemen and women who were born after that attack deploying for the first time to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that that day spawned.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you talk not just to policy-makers, people in the room, you talk to everyday folks who-- who touched this in some way, including, and this-- it stopped me when I hit it, the airline attendant who checked in Mohamed Atta. Tell me about that.

GARRETT GRAFF: Yeah. And-- and-- there are so many people that those attacks touched and-- and affected, including, you know, the-- the ticket attendants in Dulles and Newark and-- and Boston and in Portland who checked in the hijackers. And they have these distinct memories of interacting with the hijackers and actually even in Portland and Dulles helping get them on board because they were showing up late to their flights that morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Warning them, hurry up, you're going to miss the flight.

GARRETT GRAFF: "You're-- you're going to miss your plane, Mister Atta." I mean, just a chilling, chilling comment in retrospect.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there a character in here whose story really stood out to you?

GARRETT GRAFF: There are a lot of them, because of sort of just what a human experience that day really was. I mean, a day like 9/11 strips away so much of the posturing and the artifice, you know, from policy-makers, to first responders, to the ordinary office workers who showed up in New York or the Pentagon sort of expecting a normal Tuesday and found themselves amid that tragedy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You spoke for-- to a number of people, including someone who hadn't spoken at all previously to the press, Commander Anthony Barnes. Now he was the liaison between the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney who was commanding things that day. What did you learn from him?

GARRETT GRAFF: So Commander Barnes was sort of the director of the White House bunker on 9/11, you know, that bunker under the North Lawn that is operational twenty-four hours a day, has never been used before or since except for the morning of 9/11 when Vice President Cheney was hustled into that. Because, remember, they thought Flight 93 was coming to hit the White House or the Capitol. And so I talked to people and tell the stories in the book of the people who thought that they were going to die at the White House that morning. Commander Barnes was the Navy officer, who was the one who actually asked Vice President Cheney for the authority to shoot down the hijacked airliners. He's never spoken before, and I spoke to him, and he said that he asked the vice president three times, because he knew just how momentous that order actually was, and he wanted to make sure that there was no confusion, and he recalls sort of just how annoyed Vice President Cheney was by that third time, because Cheney had made the decision and knew that it was the right thing to do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A surreal order to be given.

GARRETT GRAFF: A surreal day from start to finish. I mean, you know, we tell this very neat story about 9/11 now that we know the whole attack took place in a hundred and two minutes from the first crash to the collapse of the second tower. We didn't know that on 9/11. And that's one of the things that I really tried to capture in the book. It was well into the afternoon. We were still dealing with planes that we thought were hijacked, and we didn't know whether al Qaeda had a whole another wave of attacks planned for the next day or the next month.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I thought it was interesting towards the end of the book where you talked to schoolchildren--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --and how they remember it. It's just small children and their memories. It's a great read. Thank you for sharing it with us.

GARRETT GRAFF: Thanks for having me today.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. And we honor those who died on 9/11 and after that protecting U.S. interests as well as all the families they left behind. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.

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