Full transcript of "Face the Nation," Dec. 31, 2023

Full transcript of “Face the Nation,” Dec. 31, 2023

During this airing of “Face the Nation,” led by moderator Margaret Brennan:

  • Camilo Montoya Galvez, CBS News immigration and politics reporter
  • Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Republican Party from the state of South Carolina.
  • Mayor Brandon Johnson of Chicago and Mayor Mike Johnson of Denver

  • David Becker is the creator of the Center for Election Innovation & Research and also serves as an election law contributor for CBS News.

  • Jo Lin Kent, CBS News senior business and technology reporter
  • Ben Tracy, CBS News senior national and environmental correspondent

Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”    

I am Margaret Brennan reporting from Washington.

This week on Face the Nation: As the year comes to a close, the United States’ immigration system is facing a crisis. Can we expect any resolutions in 2024?

In the past month, numerous immigrants have entered the United States through the southern border, causing strain for government officials and communities. At the same time, a group of politicians from different parties in the Senate are facing challenges in reaching an agreement to address the situation and make changes to immigration laws, which have not been revised in almost four decades.

However, as the discussion surrounding assistance for Ukraine, Israel, and other matters continues to complicate the situation, what steps must be taken to reach a resolution?

We will check in with a top Republican negotiator, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. And we will hear from two Democratic mayors who say the influx of migrants has brought their cities to a breaking point, and they want more help from the Biden administration.

As the Republican nomination draws near and voters prepare to make their choice, candidates are frantically attempting to overtake current leader Donald Trump and facing challenges due to their own mistakes.

(Begin VT)

Can you tell me what you would like me to say about the topic of slavery?

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: But is Trump’s own candidacy in jeopardy, as two states seek to disqualify him, citing his role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol?

In nine days, a court will review Trump’s argument of presidential immunity. In a new court document, special counsel Jack Smith urgently cautions that all presidents can be held accountable for criminal actions and Trump should be punished for attempting to take control despite losing the 2020 election.

We will receive the most recent information from expert on election law, David Becker.

Up next on Face the Nation.

Hello and welcome to Face the Nation!

We have a busy agenda for this New Year’s Eve, but we would like to start with addressing the urgent issue at the southern border. According to recent data from Customs and Border Protection, the agency is on pace to handle over 300,000 migrants, which is the highest monthly number ever recorded. This includes a significant increase in families and minors.

As the consequences spread from border communities to the entire country, cities, states, and federal law enforcement are reporting feeling overwhelmed.

We are currently joined by Camilo Montoya-Galvez, an immigration and politics reporter for CBS.

Camilo, your reporting on this has been exceptional. Can you explain to us what is causing the significant rise and which group makes up the majority of migrants?

I believe, Margaret, that the most accurate response I can provide is that the factors that have historically influenced migration to the U.S. have grown stronger to a level that has not been witnessed before in American history.

Our local economy is currently steady and has numerous employment opportunities, which is causing a significant influx of people migrating to our area. Additionally, our immigration process is experiencing significant delays and struggles to efficiently determine eligibility for asylum, which further encourages migration. These are the factors that are drawing people to our region.

However, we also have strong forces pushing people to come to the U.S. These include worsening political and economic situations in countries such as Venezuela, as well as in countries in Africa and Asia. This has led to a significant increase in the number of people seeking refuge at the U.S. border, creating a humanitarian crisis unlike any we have faced before.

Approximately 250,000 migrants are undergoing processing every month at the border between the United States and Mexico.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That is stunning. This is a crisis affecting the entire hemisphere.

Correct, it is true.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president sent the homeland security secretary and secretary of state to Mexico to press Mexico’s president to help police that border.

What was their accomplishment?

I was informed that U.S. officials requested Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to strengthen enforcement within Mexico’s interior in order to reduce the number of migrants coming from the Guatemala-Mexico border and redirect them away from Northern Mexico towards the U.S. border.

This clearly demonstrates the significant impact that Mexico has on our approach to this highly intricate and troublesome issue. We are depending on Mexico, Margaret, to handle a large portion of border control and immigration strategy, as they are a crucial participant in this discussion. The Biden administration faces a significant diplomatic challenge in persuading Mexico to accept non-Mexican individuals who are returned to their country.

Margaret Brennan: We are aware that certain ports have been closed…

I am in agreement with Camilo Montoya-Galvez regarding commercial matters.

MARGARET BRENNAN: For commercial…

CAMILO MONTOYA-GALVEZ: …and the movement of cars and trucks, which has a significant impact on the economy…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there an economic impact?

CAMILO MONTOYA-GALVEZ: This will result in consequences for both Mexico and the U.S., is that correct?


The situation has escalated beyond a humanitarian crisis. We are facing multiple layers of complexity.


Governor of Texas, Margaret Brennan, has approved a new law that will go into effect in March.


Margaret Brennan reported that the state law enforcement now has the power to detain and apprehend migrants.

Texas has made a commitment to challenge this matter until it reaches the Supreme Court. However, the Biden administration plans to confront them.

CAMILO MONTOYA-GALVEZ: This will be one of the most important legal clashes on immigration in 2024. The Justice Department has already told Texas that this law will undermine relations with Mexico and prevent federal officials from enforcing federal immigration laws, including U.S. asylum law, which allows migrants on U.S. oil to request asylum, even, Margaret, if they enter the country illegally.

This legislation not only permits Texas to charge and imprison migrants for activities that are already lawful at the federal level, but it also grants state judges the power to issue deportation orders, despite Mexico’s refusal to accept returned migrants from Texas.

The Texas government has been given a deadline of Wednesday by the Justice Department to retract its intentions of enforcing this law in March. However, it is highly improbable that Texas will comply. It is anticipated that Texas will proceed with implementing this law, leading to a lengthy legal dispute.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There is a possibility of progress as early as Wednesday.

Correct, that is accurate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This leads us to the current situation in Washington, which can also be described as a lack of progress.


Margaret Brennan: …discussing the possibility of assembling a new law…


Margaret Brennan: …to revise the laws pertaining to immigration, which have remained largely unchanged for many years.



Margaret Brennan noted that the task at hand is to secure the desired funding from President Biden.

Yes, that is correct.

Margaret Brennan: What is the current status of those negotiations?

CAMILO MONTOYA-GALVEZ: Well, the White House, importantly, is currently entertaining some sweeping border restrictions, including an authority to expel migrants when Border Patrol is overwhelmed and to suspend asylum law, just like the Title 42 pandemic era policy that ended earlier this year, to convince Republicans to get on board in terms of backing additional aid to Ukraine.

It was inconceivable only three years ago, but it highlights the current state at the border of the United States and Mexico. I anticipate that these discussions will become more intense in January. It is possible that they could fail since we are addressing the complex issue of immigration. As you are aware, Congress has been at a standstill about this matter for many years. However, I believe there are two distinct factors at play that could lead to a unique outcome.

The White House is facing intense political pressure to provide aid to Ukraine while also addressing new issues at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Margaret Brennan: Camilo, we will keep track of your coverage.

Next, we will shift our focus to a negotiator who participated in the discussions. This individual is none other than Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, joining us from Seneca, South Carolina.

Welcome back to the program, Senator.

Senator Lindsey Graham, representing South Carolina, expressed his gratitude.

Margaret Brennan: The proposed deal includes a variety of significant components, as outlined before you.

Senator Lindsey Graham confirmed his agreement.

Can you and the other Republicans involved in this negotiation persuade the party to agree?

Senator Lindsey Graham expressed optimism for the future.

It is imperative that we take action not just for Ukraine, but also for the sake of our national security.

I view the issue of border control as a major concern for America’s national security. The country faces significant threats from extremist groups, and our border is currently in disarray. In December alone, there were 300,000 people crossing the border, which is a 400 percent increase from 2020.

I believe this is the solution. We are urging the government to utilize Title 42-like power to inform individuals that we have reached our capacity. It takes four years for an asylum case to be reviewed. We have 1.7 million individuals who are eligible for deportation, but they are not being removed. We must send some individuals out of the country to halt the influx.

However, if any administration is willing to utilize Title 42 authority, this issue could be resolved. We would simply inform individuals arriving at our border that we have reached capacity.

MARGARET BRENNAN: At what point would you implement this policy? To clarify, this would permit the removal of immigrants without a guarantee of a hearing for asylum.

Senator Lindsey Graham stated that the number is zero.

Margaret Brennan: Could you please repeat that?

Senator Lindsey Graham stated, “Okay, here’s the plan.”

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to reject individuals at the border. Our country’s healthcare system is overwhelmed and in need of repair. Some mayors are advocating for increased funding to assist with the relocation of migrants.


Senator Lindsey Graham stated that there will not be a policy in place to remain in Texas.

It is uncertain whether Abbott will be successful in court with a state law addressing this issue. It is unclear if he will succeed, but he is determined to defend his state.

Reach out to the White House as a mayor and collaborate with Republicans to modify the asylum and parole processes. Additionally, consider utilizing Title 42 authority to halt the influx.

Margaret Brennan: Alright.

Senator Lindsey Graham states that the current capacity has been reached and advises against any further arrivals.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will discuss this with the mayors. They have requested assistance from the Biden administration.

Senator Lindsey Graham: Affirmative. Affirmative.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it being implied that there is still no consensus among the negotiators in your group regarding the power to expel individuals?

Senator Lindsey Graham stated that expedited removal is currently being considered and that there is a push for more exceptions to the rule, which would essentially render it ineffective. He also mentioned the difficulty in making changes to policy.

This is not an instance of irregular immigration. It is simply a result of poor policy decisions that were made immediately after Biden took office. As many of us predicted, eliminating the remain-in-Mexico policy would lead to a surge at the border. These misguided choices have caused this situation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Supreme Court has also been involved in this situation, which adds complexity due to involvement of the Mexican government.

However, previously…

Senator Lindsey Graham: It’s simple.

Margaret Brennan: Previously…

Senator Lindsey Graham: It’s a simple matter.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In previous interviews, you have indicated that parole was a problematic aspect of the policy.

Senator Lindsey Graham confirmed that it is still the case.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is this a deal-breaker for you? What changes do you want to make?

Senator Lindsey Graham stated that according to our laws, individuals should be paroled on a case-by-case basis. However, they are using a humanitarian parole, which is not even legally recognized, to parole individuals at a rate of 145,000.

I aim to revert to the initial purpose of the law. I do not wish to take any drastic actions, but instead, simply uphold the law. The laws concerning asylum are being taken advantage of. We should modify them. The use of Title 42 should be reinstated to reflect the idea that America has reached its capacity.

If waiting four years for an asylum hearing is necessary, then we should consider adjusting the pace of the asylum system; specifically, the 1.7 million cases that are currently pending.


Senator Lindsey Graham believes that individuals who are eligible for deportation should be deported before allowing new individuals to enter.

MARGARET BRENNAN: According to you, you are not requesting what the House wanted through H.R.2, this legislation.

Senator Lindsey Graham stated, “H.R.2, correct.”



MARGARET BRENNAN: Have you discussed with Speaker Johnson the potential items he may consider bringing to the floor?

Senator Lindsey Graham confirmed.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What actions is he prepared to take?

Senator Lindsey Graham agrees.

We need policy changes that address the pull factors. There’s nothing irregular going on in the world. This was created by policy choices that created new pull factors. So, asylum reform, limitations on parole, reinvoking Title 42, I think, would be enough to get it through the House.

It is imperative that the policy changes are implemented in reality. We must begin deportations to decrease the number of people entering the country. If individuals witness others leaving the country, they will be less inclined to attempt to cross the border. Therefore, I am urging the Biden administration to take action, especially if Trump becomes president again.


Senator Lindsey Graham stated that individuals who are in the country illegally will face deportation. Donald Trump’s administration plans to carry out mass deportations of those who have violated the law and have received a final order of deportation. These individuals will be removed from the United States.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, some of those have restarted in terms of Venezuela. As you know, there are a lot of complicating diplomatic factors here with some of the countries you’re talking about.

However, I would like to inquire about the link to Ukraine.

Senator Lindsey Graham responded, saying “Of course.”

MARGARET BRENNAN: You witnessed this incredible assault…

Senator Lindsey Graham confirmed his agreement twice.

MARGARET BRENNAN: … by Russia on Kyiv, some of the most significant missile attacks since this war has begun.

LINDSEY GRAHAM (Senator): Affirmative.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This event occurs several days after the US has delivered its final aid shipment for the year 2023.

Is there a correlation? When can we expect the Senate to approve Ukraine aid?

Senator Lindsey Graham stated that he plans to provide a comprehensive aid package to Israel, as they are currently facing numerous challenges. He supports the decision of Secretary Blinken to send them weapons as an emergency measure and believes it is a logical course of action.

I am eager to assist Ukraine, but we must first help ourselves. I cannot justify advocating for aid to Ukraine and Israel while the border remains in disarray. It is not simply a broken border, but rather a chaotic situation. The humanitarian consequences of this immigration crisis are unimaginable.

However, our country’s safety is in grave danger.

MARGARET BRENNAN: However, therefore…

Senator Lindsey Graham stated that Ukraine’s aid should be connected to their border.

MARGARET BRENNAN: While progress has been made, there are still issues surrounding the border that need to be addressed. Currently, both parties are in a vulnerable position.

Senator Lindsey Graham: Correct. Affirmative.

This is the message I would convey to the Biden administration: acknowledge that our country has reached its capacity. Utilize the resources we are offering to help control the influx of immigrants. Begin removing individuals who are not legally permitted to be in the country. This will result in a significant turnaround.

The Biden administration should embrace the resources that can bring about change and secure funds for Ukraine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I would like to inquire about the current push for the Supreme Court to potentially hear election-related cases.

Senator Lindsey Graham: Absolutely. Of course.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said back in 2021, after the Senate impeachment trial, you said of Donald Trump: “The president’s conduct is subject to the law of the land. If you believe he committed a crime, he could still be prosecuted after he’s out of office.”

Do you still maintain the belief that Mr. Trump could face prosecution and criminal charges?

Senator Lindsey Graham stated that the consequences would vary based on the specific actions being taken.

If you were fulfilling your duties as president, and on January 6th you were still in office, investigating the legitimacy of the election, I believe your argument for immunity is valid. I am unsure of how it will hold up, but it seems reasonable.

However, he is being charged for his involvement in events on January 6th. He did not physically enter the Capitol building. While he did give a passionate speech, he is not the first person to do so. Ultimately, I believe this case will not be resolved before the election due to numerous legal complexities surrounding the powers and limitations of a president.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Just to clarify, you do not think a president should be exempt from legal consequences if they have committed a serious crime?

Senator Lindsey Graham stated that while everyone is subject to the law, the president does have immunity to carry out their responsibilities.

I have the privilege to perform my duties under the Speech and Debate Clause. This is the main legal concern. This matter was brought to the attention of the nation during the impeachment process. He was found not guilty. I believe that the events of January 6th are already a part of the situation. The Jack Smith cases are not altering the political outcome based on polling.

We will see what the court does. At the end of the day, Donald Trump is in a good position to win the Republican primary, because Republicans believe he had a good presidency. And I think he can win the general election. And all these – like in Maine, knocking him off the ballot, the secretary of state in Maine is a pretty radical person.

She stated that the Electoral College was a result of white supremacy. However, it actually stems from negotiations. The Civil War was primarily about slavery, while the Electoral College was a result of discussions between smaller and larger states.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As you have explained, this matter will be decided by the courts.


Senator Lindsey Graham confirmed that it will indeed have an impact.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Later on, we will discuss this topic with David Becker, our specialist in election laws.

Hello Senator Graham, it’s great to have you here with us.

Face the Nation will return shortly. Please continue watching.


MARGARET BRENNAN: To further explore the impact of immigration on communities in the United States, we are joined by two Democratic mayors, Brandon Johnson of Chicago and Mike Johnston of Denver.

Hello, gentlemen. Welcome to Face the Nation.

Reworded: Mayor Brandon Johnson (D-Chicago, Illinois) greeted everyone with a good morning.

Mayor Mike Johnston (D) of Denver, Colorado: We appreciate the invitation.

Thank you for joining us, Margaret Brennan.

I would like to ask the Mayor of Chicago about a recent development. It has been reported that a plane from Texas arrived in Chicago around 1:00 a.m. with additional migrants. Did officials from Texas inform you beforehand? Who is on the plane and what are the next steps?

Mayor Brandon Johnson states that the current situation is an international and federal crisis, and local governments are being expected to provide financial support.

This situation is not sustainable. None of our local economies are prepared to handle this task. Our goal has been to establish organization and cooperation in response to this humanitarian crisis. However, Governor Abbott of Texas is determined to cause more disruption.

In recent nights, multiple buses have been arriving in Chicago and other cities without any organization. Now, the governor has taken on the risky responsibility of transporting individuals by plane to various cities, causing potential chaos and posing a threat to national security. This highlights the governor’s chaotic approach to governance.

Margaret Brennan: Mayor, Mayor of Denver, just to clarify, I understand that you have observed New York and Chicago implementing measures to limit bus arrivals.

Are you attempting to implement measures in your city to prevent their arrival altogether?

Mayor Mike Johnston stated that their goal is to establish a system that is considerate towards both the incoming individuals and the cities and their employees.

We are aware that there will be an influx of people. Currently, 35,000 migrants have come to Denver. We have effectively assisted them in adjusting to life in this country. It is our goal to prevent individuals from arriving at a city and county building at 2:00 in the morning, with women and children exposed to 10-degree weather and no assistance.

We desire for buses to operate in this area in the same manner as they typically do, which involves arriving at designated bus stations and stops during specific hours when our staff can assist and guide them towards necessary services. We are aware of the incoming flow and our goal is to ensure it is organized in a humanitarian manner, which we believe will benefit both the city and the newcomers.

This indicates following a schedule of 8:00 to 5:00 from Monday to Friday and providing advance notice.


I am aware that you have been unsuccessful in halting the state of Texas from sending individuals. However, in regards to your party’s leaders, as Senator Graham mentioned, you have requested additional aid from the White House. Did they address your public plea?

I have been in communication with the White House and their leadership, and it seems that we are in agreement on the fundamental necessities that we have identified.

We believe that this issue can be resolved. There are certain important tasks that we require. We require funding from the federal government to aid us in our efforts in the cities. We also need additional federal funding to improve border support and expedite the process of adjudicating asylum claims within 90 days instead of the current four to six years.

This has a significant impact. If urban areas have the necessary resources to assist us, and if people have the ability to work upon arrival in cities like Denver, we can meet their needs and have a coordinated plan for entry. This approach is consistent with how we have traditionally welcomed asylum seekers in our country.


MAYOR MIKE JOHNSTON: When we had asylees from Afghanistan or Ukraine, we had federal support, we had coordinated entry, we had work authorization.


Mayor Mike Johnston stated that the efforts were successful and that America has the capability to achieve this task. They believe that it can also be accomplished here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand that there are separate programs for refugees. However, I acknowledge your concern about work authorization.

Did the White House fulfill your request during your recent public address, Mayor Johnson of Chicago?

Mayor Brandon Johnson stated that it is clear that there is a need for comprehensive immigration reform.

This all-encompassing reformation of immigration would undeniably alter the current state of affairs. In truth, it resolves the ongoing crisis. As we have stated numerous times, it is imperative that Congress takes action to supply the necessary resources to effectively fulfill this mission.

However, it is unacceptable for the governor of Texas to behave in the manner that he is. Additionally, the unorganized placement of buses in different areas of the country late at night, without any support or cooperation with local government, is causing chaos and further dividing our nation.

We require improved cooperation among all tiers of government in order to effectively address this task.

Margaret Brennan: Have you attempted to contact the governor? If so, have you received a response?

Mayor Brandon Johnson stated that a group was sent to the border in order to witness the situation there. Additionally, he has personally communicated with officials from the Mexican government.

The challenges faced here in America are also being experienced by them. Therefore, it is crucial to have a coordinated response to this crisis. Simply putting people on airplanes and sending them to cities like Chicago, Denver, and New York without proper coordination or a list of passengers is a violation of federal and aviation laws.

However, this particular state of disorder is not suitable for the current situation. A joint and organized approach from all tiers of government is necessary to guarantee that this global crisis, which is a humanitarian mission, is addressed with the necessary level of respect and reverence.


I looked at the weather for both of your cities. Chicago has a temperature of 32 degrees and Denver has a temperature of 25 degrees. I assume that someone coming from Mexico is not prepared for such cold temperatures.

Mayor Brandon Johnson agrees, that is correct.


Mayor Mike Johnston states that it is a common occurrence for people to come wearing casual attire such as t-shirts and sandals.


I would like to discuss this further, but I need to take a break for a commercial. Please stay with us and I will return shortly.

Please continue to remain with us.


On the next episode of Face the Nation, Margaret Brennan will interview House Speaker Mike Johnson. We will go to the border to talk to him about his views on immigration reform and the plans for Congress in the new year.

We will return shortly.


MARGARET BRENNAN: After the break, we will have a conversation with the mayors of Denver and Chicago, along with our expert on election law, David Becker.

I’ll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you for joining us on FACE THE NATION once again.

We resume our discussion with Mayor Mike Johnston of Denver and Mayor Brandon Johnson of Chicago from where we last left off.

Dear sirs, I would like to revisit one of the points you mentioned.

The White House has stated that it typically takes 30 days to approve work permits and temporary protected status for certain migrants, according to Mr. Johnston from Denver. However, you have mentioned the importance of having people ready to work upon their arrival. What occurs during this 30-day timeframe and why is it considered insufficient?

The Mayor of Denver, Mike Johnston, expressed gratitude for the government’s efforts, particularly the actions of the secretary, in granting temporary protected status to Venezuelans who arrived before July 31st. We actively campaigned for this change and are thankful for its implementation, as it has been immensely beneficial.

The current issue is that Venezuelans who have recently arrived are not eligible for temporary protective status. They often do not have a way to obtain work authorization and may have to wait three to five years for their asylum claim to be heard. This creates a challenge on our city streets, as many migrants simply desire the ability to work. Employers are also reaching out to me daily, asking if they can hire these individuals for open positions. However, these individuals currently do not have a means to obtain work authorization. It would be beneficial to expand the path to work authorization for recent arrivals, similar to how the secretary of health has enabled it for those who arrived before July 31st.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that was done through – through federal authority through the administration. But changing the law would require Congress to – to alter some of these programs. I thought it was interesting, Mayor Johnson of Chicago, you also made the point that when it came to Afghanistan and Ukrainians, they arrived without a problem in your city and that you would like to replicate that program for everyone.

BRANDON JOHNSON (Mayor of Chicago): That’s exactly right. There are 30,000 Ukrainian refugees that are in the city of Chicago right now. The difference is, of course they were fully supported by the federal government and they were able to acclimate themselves and integrate into our economy. We have a number of asylum seekers from Central and South America and the continent of Africa, and the question is, why are we not providing that same support and treatment here?

In short, Congress must take action promptly. However, we cannot tolerate the chaos coming from Texas. Governor Abbott may be fearful and angry, but he cannot harm himself. Therefore, we have proposed an ordinance that would establish guidelines for when buses should arrive and ensure the necessary support is provided, as I did over a month ago.


Before I conclude, I came across a news article stating that Mayor Johnson of Chicago had recently reported the death of a five-year-old boy who became ill at a migrant shelter in the city less than two weeks ago. Can you share the current condition of the people arriving at these shelters and if there are any potential health hazards?

Brandon Johnson expresses his ongoing sympathy for the family and offers prayers for their unimaginable loss of a child. Being a father of three himself, he understands the magnitude of their pain.

It is evident that our efforts go beyond just offering mental health services, vaccinations, and health screenings to the families who arrive at our doors. However, at the border, there is a lack of these essential services. This disorganized and careless process is unacceptable, and we cannot have a governor who chooses to hold onto the remnants of Jefferson Davis instead of embracing the ideals of Frederick Douglas. It is crucial that we work together to address this humanitarian crisis and not let chaos control and divide our nation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will wait to hear from Governor Abbott’s office in response to that.

Dear mayors, we appreciate your presence here.

We will return shortly.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the 2024 election. The Supreme Court is under growing pressure to quickly resolve the question of whether former President Trump is eligible to serve as president after two states, Colorado and Maine, have moved to strike him from the Republican primary ballot for allegedly supporting an insurrection.

We will now hear from David Becker, a contributor on election law for CBS News and the founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research.

David, it’s great to have you here as you always provide a clear perspective on political matters.

Both of Maine’s senators, an independent and Republican, said they disagreed with this, even though they both personally voted to convict Trump in the Senate trial that involved (ph) the allegation that he helped to carry out an insurrection. Do you think that this decision to try to remove him from the primary ballot in Maine will stand up in court?

DAVID BECKER: This is a significant matter that has yet to be determined by the Supreme Court, particularly in regards to a president. The interpretation of “engaging in insurrection” as stated in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution remains unresolved.

As previously mentioned, the senators from Maine and a majority of the U.S. Senate, including seven Republican senators, voted to disqualify Donald Trump from the presidency in February of 2021. Additionally, a majority of the United States House, including 10 Republican members, also voted for disqualification. This raises a valid question that must be addressed by the United States Supreme Court, as they are the ultimate authority on interpreting the United States Constitution. The 14th Amendment remains relevant despite any inconvenience and must hold significance. It does not specify conviction for insurrection, but rather engagement in insurrection. This has been applied in other cases, such as in New Mexico last year, when someone was convicted of criminal trespass at the Capitol on January 6th.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It is noteworthy that the special counsel, Jack Smith, did not use the charge of insurrection in his federal case against the former president.

Regarding the events in Colorado, the state was the first to attempt the removal of Trump from the primary ballot. In Maine, Chris Christie is not listed on the primary ballot, and in New Hampshire, Joe Biden is also absent. Does any of this have any significance? That is the question.

According to David Becker, the matter at hand is of great importance. It is crucial to resolve it promptly and fairly, as there is a possibility of Donald Trump becoming the nominee. This will allow the Republican Party to determine if they have a suitable candidate and for election officials to print ballots in a timely manner, giving voters a clear understanding of their choices.

As you have noted, it is not inherently undemocratic to disqualify someone from running for office. For example, individuals under the age of 35 are not allowed to run for President in the United States. Similarly, non-natural born citizens, like former Governor Schwarzenegger of California, are also ineligible. Additionally, individuals who have already served two full terms, such as Barack Obama and George W. Bush, are also unable to run for President. This is all part of the process, and fortunately, it is moving swiftly. The Supreme Court is now involved, particularly in regards to the Colorado case, and it is hoped that they will make a clear and timely decision on this matter.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, Republican Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who endorsed Governor DeSantis, was out there yesterday on the campaign trail, and he said, “Congress is the ultimate arbiter of whether we recognize electors from the states or not.” He said, “I could be inclined to not recognize electors from those states because he doesn’t like what they’re trying to do here.

Is it possible for them to do that? Can he perform that action?

Regarding the events on January 6th in 2021, it is important to understand that Congress cannot simply disregard the outcome of an election that they are dissatisfied with. While it is natural for members of Congress to have differing opinions on election results, this is not how the Constitution operates. Furthermore, the Electoral Count Act, which was in effect during the 2020 and 2021 elections, underwent revisions last year.


DAVID BECKER: The Electoral Count Reform Act has been implemented, bolstering protective measures. It mandates a higher percentage of Congress members – 20% from each house – to object in order for the issue to be brought to deliberations. Additionally, stricter assumptions are placed on the electoral certificates submitted by state governors, specifically those submitted on time (December 11th and December 17th, as will happen in 2024).

I believe it will be challenging for Congress to simply ignore this matter. It is crucial to mention that the Congress responsible for making this decision will be the one elected in November 2024, not the current one. Therefore, the majority may change, and any current assumptions may not be relevant in January 2025.

According to Donald Trump, non-U.S. citizens are unable to vote, and he believes this is a contributing factor to the current migrant crisis, viewing it as a plot against him.

DAVID BECKER: That is correct. If you are not a citizen of the United States, you are not eligible to vote.


DAVID BECKER: The current protections are more robust than ever.


DAVID BECKER: For more than twenty years, a federal law has been in effect mandating that all voters provide identification when registering to vote.


We have extensively researched this topic for many years and have found that instances of fraud are extremely rare.

Thank you for your contribution, David.

DAVID BECKER: I appreciate your response, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I’ll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Now to the latest in the war between Israel and Hamas. IDF ground forces are pushing deeper into southern Gaza and war planes are striking refugee camps in the center of the territory.

Ian Lee is currently located in Sderot, which is close to the border of Gaza. He has additional information to share.


IAN LEE (narrating): The Israeli military is advancing further into Gaza, going through each street and house, as they continue their attack on Hamas and their extensive network of tunnels. They have also identified the location of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar’s headquarters. The militants are retaliating and putting up strong resistance.

Yesterday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed the public that the war may continue for several more months. He stated, “We will continue fighting until all the objectives of the war have been achieved.”

However, an increase in fighting results in further hardship for the population of Gaza. Almost 2 million Palestinians have been forced to leave their residences, facing extreme conditions of cold and hunger. In the southern Gaza city of Rafah, tents have become a prominent feature. CBS News observed thousands of individuals waiting in line for food, as it is their only source of sustenance.

Amina al Raffi (ph) escaped from Gaza City with her four children. They only have a can of chickpeas as their food.

“She mentions that we encounter cold temperatures, lack of food, and dehydration. The water is high in salt content. Maintaining hygiene is challenging.”

The United Nations has reported numerous cases of illnesses, such as respiratory infections and diarrhea, occurring on a large scale.

Following an attack by Hamas in October, violence has escalated in the West Bank. The Israeli military has caused the deaths of over 300 individuals since then. The United Nations is currently expressing concern over the swift decline of Palestinian rights in the region. Meanwhile, in northern Israel, militants are launching rockets, mortars, and missiles from Syria and Lebanon, prompting a strong response from Israel.

MAN: We received a call –

IAN LEE (voice over): Captain Aton (ph) of the Northern Parachute Brigade showed me their positions. They’re all that stands between Hezbollah and Israeli communities.

IAN LEE: How stressful is the current situation?

MAN: It could be pretty intense here and the shooting, the – mostly, you know, rockets, mortars could follow around here.

IAN LEE (narrator): A state of tension that could potentially lead to further conflict in a region already engulfed in war.


IAN LEE (on camera): Margaret, very few people will be celebrating the new year here, if any at all. Many are hoping, particularly in the war-torn Gaza behind me, that 2024 brings a lasting and enduring peace.


MARGARET BRENNAN: This year has seen a lot of developments in the world of technology and business. To get a glimpse of what will be the biggest trends in 2024, we go to our senior correspondent for business and technology, Jo Ling Kent.

Hello Jo Ling, good morning

JO LING KENT: Hello, it’s currently morning.

Can you discuss your coverage of Silicon Valley? There has been a lot of discussion in Washington about regulating artificial intelligence. Is there any progress being made?

JO LING KENT: You know, there is some momentum, but Congress does not have a good track record when it comes to regulating tech or social media. And artificial intelligence appears to be yet another difficult challenge for them. You have the Senate AI Forum. It’s convened several times behind closed doors. And it features powerful CEOs. You’ve got Sam Altman of OpenAI, and Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and, of course, Elon Musk, but no concrete progress has been made on the part of lawmakers.

The latest release of ChatGPT 5 is anticipated to launch in the upcoming months, bringing with it a more advanced and intricate range of features.

Currently, Goldman Sachs has forecasted that as a result of AI, 300 million jobs will either be eliminated or undergo significant changes. This will likely be a topic of concern for voters in the upcoming election year, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes, that is a valid concern. The Biden administration has been focused on the potential impact of deep fakes and misleading information on the campaign trail. What measures are being taken by companies to address this issue?

I am informed by social media companies that they are utilizing all available resources to combat misinformation and disinformation. However, the truth is that this is an ongoing and challenging task, similar to a game of Whack-a-Mole. Information spreads rapidly on the internet and it remains difficult to control, particularly with the consideration of free speech.

Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, has announced that it will be removing manipulated media and false information about voter interference. The company also relies on fact-checking organizations to help with this effort. However, the truth is that removing all of this harmful information has always been a difficult task on such large platforms.

Additionally, it is important to mention X, previously known as Twitter. The efforts made by Elon Musk and his team have resulted in the resurgence of conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones, while also decreasing the number of employees on their trust and safety team, specifically Margaret.

Margaret Brennan: Moving on to the overall economy, which I know you also monitor. The Federal Reserve recently made a more optimistic prediction for the end of the year regarding potential interest rate cuts, with the possibility of three cuts. What factors will affect this decision for those who believe borrowing money is currently too expensive?

JO LING KENT: Currently, taking out a loan is quite costly. This is accurate. The Federal Reserve will consider three key factors: employment, inflation, and the country’s economic output and efficiency. These indicators will inform their decisions on when and how to decrease interest rates.

During this month’s Federal Reserve meeting, the leading central bankers of the country predicted that inflation will decrease to approximately 2.4 percent by 2024, and will eventually reach the target of 2 percent by 2026.

We have examined the dot plot, which includes forecasts for the upcoming year based on the December Federal Reserve meeting. It is anticipated that there will be three interest rate cuts next year as the Fed aims to achieve a smooth economic landing by lowering inflation without causing a recession.

In December, Fed Chair Powell made a noteworthy statement about possible rate cuts. He expressed concern about waiting too long to decrease rates and the potential negative impact on the economy.

In the meantime, we have been discussing the atmosphere of the session here. However, there seems to be a notable disconnect between the positive economic indicators for employment, inflation, and spending, and the actual sentiments of individuals regarding their personal finances. This is particularly evident in the rising costs of rent, gas, and insurance. These discussions have continued throughout 2023 and are expected to persist well into the upcoming presidential campaign.

I appreciate your presence, Jo Ling. Thank you for joining us.

JO LING KENT: Hello Margaret, it’s a pleasure to be here with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Now to the environment. Over the last several days rogue waves, some over 20 feet tall, have been crashing down on the southern California coastline, causing injuries and destroying property. And the region is bracing for more this morning. A recent study by an oceanographer at the University of California San Diego found that climate change may be increasing the size and frequency of big waves in oceans.

Our senior national and environmental correspondent, Ben Tracy, will give us insight into what we can anticipate in the upcoming year.

Ben, you have clarified that climate change is not the same as weather. However, these larger shifts in climate can still affect the intensity of weather events. With 2023 being a difficult year, what can we anticipate for the upcoming year?

According to the climate experts I have spoken to, we can anticipate more extreme weather events in 2024. This past year, we witnessed several occurrences that support this prediction, such as record-breaking heat waves, wildfires in Canada that caused black smoke to reach American cities, and significant rainfall leading to flooding. The scientists warn that these are not isolated incidents, but rather a trend that will continue to occur more frequently.

In fact, the projected temperatures for 2024 are even higher than the record heat of 2023, which was the hottest year on record. This is due to a combination of long-term global warming, which has raised the baseline temperature, and a strong El Nino event. El Nino refers to the warming of tropical Pacific waters, which tends to cause a rise in temperatures across the globe.

This cycle will persist as long as we keep using fossil fuels.

How can Americans safeguard themselves and their belongings?

BEN TRACY: It’s important for us to consider the health effects of climate change. For example, the smoke from wildfires. We need to think about when it’s necessary to wear a mask outside if there is smoke in our neighborhood, or when it’s worth investing in an air purifier. This is not just a temporary issue during the summer, but something that can last for weeks and months.

In the future, we will need to consider our living locations. Our report revealed that insurance companies are withdrawing from significant coastal areas and markets that are experiencing frequent disasters such as flooding, hurricanes, and wildfires. As a result, people are facing higher insurance premiums and in some cases, they are unable to obtain insurance at all because companies have determined that the potential for long-term damage is too great.

Brennan: The Biden administration has made it a priority to move away from traditional combustion engines and towards electric vehicles. However, this transition presents a significant challenge for the auto industry. We saw this demonstrated during the autoworkers strike last year and with companies reporting financial losses on electric vehicles. So, is there enough consumer demand for electric vehicles to meet the necessary numbers?

BEN TRACY: This year, there will be a record-breaking number of electric vehicle sales in the United States, exceeding 1 million for the first time. Currently, EVs make up approximately 8% of new car sales in the country. While EV adoption has been steadily increasing over the past few years, it is not growing as quickly as initially projected. One reason for this is the high cost of EVs compared to traditional gas-powered cars. Additionally, people have valid concerns about the limited range of EVs and the availability of charging stations when needed. This has been a major obstacle for widespread adoption of EVs. As a result, automakers who had ambitious plans to release numerous new EV models are now slowing down and rethinking their strategies. They are not as eager to bring these models to market as quickly or in as large quantities as originally planned.

What is causing the delay in distributing the chargers?

According to BEN TRACY, one major issue is the slow implementation of the $7.5 billion allocated from the infrastructure law passed over two years ago to establish a nationwide charging network. Finally, after almost two and a half years, the first charging station has been installed at a truck stop in Ohio. Apparently, there is a Waffle House nearby for those looking for breakfast while charging up. However, it is disheartening that it took this long for the first station to be installed.

A significant aspect of this effort involves the expected challenges of dealing with government bureaucracy and paperwork. States are responsible for managing these programs and installing the necessary charging stations. The ultimate objective is to have a charging station every 50 miles along major highways in the United States, which will be achieved within the next few years.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Before we wrap up, this will also be a topic in the upcoming election. What will you be paying attention to in 2024?

BEN TRACY: The upcoming presidential race will be of great interest to those concerned about climate issues. The Biden administration has implemented numerous climate initiatives, while former President Trump has advocated for increased drilling on federal land and has strong views on the transition to electric vehicles. Other Republican candidates are also campaigning for the repeal of significant climate legislation put forth by the Biden administration. The outcome of this election could bring about significant changes in the realm of climate.

Thank you, Ben Tracy for your report.

Margaret, thank you for your message.

We have reached the end of our show. Wishing you a Happy New Year. Thank you for tuning in.


Source: cbsnews.com