During this episode of “Face the Nation” hosted by Margaret Brennan:
Nikki Haley, a potential 2024 Republican candidate for president and former United States ambassador to the United Nations.
Bob Bauer, who previously served as White House counsel, is now President Biden’s personal attorney.
Senator Chris Murphy, a member of the Democratic Party representing Connecticut.
Michael Morell, the CIA’s deputy director and a senior national security contributor for CBS News, and Samantha Vinograd, a former top official in counterterrorism at the Department of Homeland Security,
David Becker, the founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, serves as a contributor on election law for CBS News.
- James Brown, host of NFL Today and CBS News special correspondent
Clickto browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”
This week on Face the Nation, I am Margaret Brennan reporting from Washington. Presidential politics are at the forefront in all three branches of government and become personal on the Republican campaign trail.
During his time as President, Trump had to deal with court decisions, political meetings, and legal arguments from the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the current President and special counsel Robert Hur’s inquiry into Biden’s mishandling of confidential materials resulted in the most damaging news of the week.
The Hur report found no evidence of criminal misconduct by the president, but it portrayed Biden as an elderly man with good intentions but a weak memory, which could be damaging for the 81-year-old leader.
The president reacted with intense anger.
I am Joe Biden, the President of the United States. As an elderly man, I am well-intentioned and confident in my abilities. My memory is intact and functioning properly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Vice President Harris went as far as to describe Hur’s words as:
The actions taken against Kamala Harris, the Vice President of the United States, were clearly driven by political motives and were unnecessary.
Will Democrats challenge the actions of the Justice Department?
We will have a conversation with Bob Bauer, the personal lawyer of President Biden.
Nikki Haley, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, will be joining us to present her argument for assessing the mental abilities of both Biden and Trump.
As Israel gets ready to launch an attack on Southern Gaza, its allies are becoming more worried. We will speak with Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut, who played a major role in negotiating the short-lived bipartisan border bill. He is currently working to secure aid for both Israel and Ukraine through Congress.
As Super Bowl LVIII approaches, American viewers will have the opportunity to hear from our own James Brown about the improvements the NFL has made both on and off the field.
Coming up next on Face the Nation.
Hello and welcome to Face the Nation, good morning.
Washington is still reeling from the White House pushback on special counsel Robert Hur’s report, and we will get to that momentarily.
However, let us start today by discussing the final contender in the race for the Republican nomination against Donald Trump. This individual is Nikki Haley, the former Governor of South Carolina. She is currently on the campaign trail in North Augusta, South Carolina and is here to speak with us this morning.
Nikki Haley, a Republican candidate for President, expresses gratitude to Margaret for the invitation to speak.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Ambassador, you have been focusing on mental sharpness as a key topic in your campaign for the majority of the past year.
Are you distributing paper versions of the cognitive assessment currently? When do you intend to administer it? Are you worried that this may discourage older voters?
I am willing to accept it.
I believe it is necessary to administer mental competency evaluations to individuals aged 75 and above. I am open to extending the age requirement to 50 and above. The recent events involving Joe Biden and Donald Trump only further support this idea.
As we age, our abilities may decline, and this is something we must acknowledge. However, it is essential to consider that these individuals are responsible for crucial decisions regarding our country’s security and economy. It is crucial to ensure that they are performing at their best.
Margaret Brennan: Earlier today, the Western alliance known as NATO released a statement in response to comments made by Donald Trump during a rally last night. They expressed concern about the potential danger this could pose for American soldiers.
This is his statement.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and current U.S. presidential candidate was asked by a president of a large country, “If we refuse to pay and are attacked by Russia, will you come to our defense?”
I stated: “Did you not pay? Then I will not protect you. In fact, I would support them in doing whatever they wish.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: If you were to win the election, would you agree with the idea that an assault on one is an assault on all?
NIKKI HALEY: Yes, definitely.
In the past 75 years, NATO has achieved great success. However, what concerns me is choosing to support a violent leader who targets their opponents. It is important not to align with someone who has invaded a country and caused immense suffering and casualties, such as Putin.
Avoid supporting someone who consistently lies. I had frequent interactions with Russia. Our top priority should never be aligning with Russia. It is crucial to always keep in mind that America needs allies. After September 10, we were in need of many allies. We must never reach a point where we do not value the importance of having allies.
We desire our NATO allies to contribute their fair share. However, there are alternative methods to achieve this without allowing Russia to dominate other nations. This is not our intention. It should be noted that Russia has not attacked any NATO countries, but has invaded Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.
They are deeply afraid of NATO, but NATO is key to avoiding war. Our constant priority should be preventing war.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I would like to inquire about a different statement made by Donald Trump regarding your spouse, Major Michael Haley, who is currently serving with the South Carolina National Guard. Trump stated the following about you:
Former President Donald Trump asked about the whereabouts of the woman’s husband, to which it was stated that he was not present and had gone away. Trump then repeated his question and was informed that the husband was no longer present.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I am aware that you have stated that this is a disqualifying factor. However, during his initial run for presidency, Donald Trump ridiculed former prisoner of war John McCain and a Gold Star family. Despite this, he was still elected. You chose to work for him. What is your reasoning for considering it disqualifying at this time?
NIKKI HALEY: Well, I agreed to serve our country, and I’m proud that I got to serve our country. There’s – there’s nothing – no more higher honor than to serve the people of this country.
However, what I can say is that it is offensive to individuals in the military and their families. What bothers me is that this behavior continues, and it is not just directed towards me and Michael, but towards all those who make sacrifices for our country.
This pertains to the message that is conveyed to military families who support their loved ones serving in the military. It is unacceptable to have someone who sits by and ridicules our brave soldiers who are working to defend America. This behavior displays a consistent pattern of disorder, negligence, and unhelpful rhetoric that does not benefit the strengthening of our nation.
This presents an opportunity for America to make a decision. We are aware of who Donald Trump is. If you were to watch his entire rally from yesterday, it would reveal many details.
However, the question remains, do you desire to revisit this information? We are aware of Joe Biden’s capabilities. You can watch the press conference and refer to the special investigation which states he has diminished. But is this something you want to rehash? One crucial point to consider is that for Republicans, Donald Trump was unsuccessful in the 2018, 2020, and 2022 elections.
After the New Hampshire election, he went on a wild tirade, only talking about seeking revenge. He even declared that anyone who supported me would be permanently banned from MAGA. He then pressured the RNC to name him the presumptive nominee, but ultimately lost his court case and continued to rant.
The issue is that he never mentions the American citizens. He fails to address the issue of excessive spending and our $34 trillion debt. He also overlooks the fact that only 31 percent of eighth-graders in the US are proficient in reading.
He is not referring to a border that is completely open, where just one person could cause a 9/11-like event.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well…
Nikki Haley expressed concern that the current discourse is ignoring the rampant disorder in our urban centers and global conflicts. This issue must be addressed as we approach the upcoming election.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, he did talk about the border. In fact, he encouraged Republicans to kill the bipartisan deal that was brokered.
During a crucial time for Ukraine, when the Senate is currently discussing military aid this weekend, he expressed disapproval for the proposed $100 billion aid package. Based on your knowledge, do you believe it would be wise for Republican legislators to support this security supplemental of nearly $100 billion?
Nikki Haley believes that President Biden and Congress have not effectively communicated the importance of Ukraine to the American people.
It’s understandable if the American citizens question why we are engaging in this action. Instead of providing any nation with direct monetary assistance, we should approach the situation differently.
MARGARET BRENNAN: This is not what it is.
NIKKI HALEY: It is impossible to comply with and impossible to hold responsible.
I believe it is important to provide support to Ukraine. It is necessary to supply them with weapons and ammunition to succeed, as stated by Putin himself. He has declared that after taking control of Ukraine, his next targets are Poland and the Baltic states, which are all members of NATO. This would result in the involvement of America in a war.
The issue at hand is the prevention of war. This is the crucial rationale for our backing of Ukraine.
Can you comment on the situation in Israel? According to a recent AP poll, 50% of American adults think that Israel’s military actions in Gaza have been excessive, which is an increase from 40% in November.
Do you believe that half of the American population is incorrect about this matter?
According to Nikki Haley, it is not the role of a leader to judge whether an American is right or wrong, good or bad. This is a problem currently facing America.
I believe the crucial aspect is to clarify and convey the significance of this situation. I have visited Israel numerous times and have witnessed the dangers it faces on its borders. However, reflecting on the events of October 7, when individuals were beheaded, babies were burned alive, and girls were abducted from a concert, raped, and paraded naked through the streets of Gaza, what was the reasoning behind these actions?
“Down with Israel, Down with America.”
According to Hamas, that is their statement.
NIKKI HALEY: Yes.
Following the events of 9/11, did we desire guidance on our actions? No, we were determined to eliminate the terrorists.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Certainly, however…
According to NIKKI HALEY, Israel’s goal is to eliminate the terrorists.
We are all concerned for the well-being of the people in Gaza. However, the issue at hand is that Hamas has been holding them captive for a long time. It begs the question, why are the Arab countries not stepping in and urging Hamas to prioritize the safety of the people of Gaza?
Israel does not wish to subject the people of Gaza to this.
Margaret Brennan stated that currently, efforts are being made to facilitate the release of hostages through negotiations.
NIKKI HALEY: Well…
BRENNAN: Do you disagree with President Biden’s statement that Israelis are exaggerating the number of civilian casualties?
Nikki Haley expressed that Hamas has announced their intention to repeat their actions. She believes Israel must take all necessary measures to prevent this from happening again, including removing Hamas.
The Arab nations have made efforts to collaborate and provide aid to the people of Gaza. If anyone is concerned about the well-being of those in Gaza, they should inquire with the Arab community about why they have not intervened to stop Hamas and Iran. The Arab countries have the capability to do so, yet they continue to focus on Israel. I have observed numerous instances…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you aware of current diplomatic efforts to achieve that goal?
Nikki Haley stated that whenever Israel is under attack, people quickly come to its defense. However, the important thing to note is not to hold Israel responsible for the situation.
I have witnessed numerous instances where Israel is attacked and receives widespread support. However, when Israel retaliates, they are condemned. This is unjust. Israel has endured a traumatic experience and the focus should be on holding Hamas and Iran accountable. It doesn’t make sense to blame the victim.
Our actions do not align with that statement. We need to support Israel and pressure the Arab nations to demand that Hamas cease their actions. This would result in an immediate end to the war.
Thank you, Ambassador Haley, for joining us this morning.
We will return to Face the Nation in 60 seconds, please continue watching.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Our guest today is Bob Bauer, the personal lawyer for President Biden. He previously served as White House counsel during the Obama administration and is also married to senior adviser Anita Dunn at the Biden White House.
Hello and it’s nice to speak with you face to face.
BOB BAUER (Attorney For President Biden): Thank you. Glad to be here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Therefore, the special counsel concluded that there should be no legal action taken regarding the mishandling of classified information.
You received a favorable decision, but you requested the special counsel to review the “highly prejudicial language” that you mentioned. Was there any direct appeal made to Attorney General Garland or the Justice Department regarding this matter?
BOB BAUER: We submitted physical copies addressing those points, but let me backtrack.
Can you clarify for the special counsel?
BOB BAUER: We communicated our concerns to the special counsel and also put them in writing to the attorney general. This report was poorly done and deviated from its intended purpose.
Reworded: Let’s pause and reflect. It all began with a predetermined legal conclusion. The investigation could have been completed in a few months, but instead, it continued for over 15 months. This has led to an influx of subjective descriptions, inaccurate statements, and negative remarks about the president, which go against DOJ guidelines and standards. As evidenced by recent criticism from legal professionals, these actions are highly questionable.
Prosecutors are not responsible for this. It is poorly executed work.
MARGARET BRENNAN: However, it was the attorney general’s promise to disclose this information that led to its current status. Have you ever requested the Justice Department to not disclose it?
BOB BAUER: No.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you also contemplate doing that?
BOB BAUER: No.
MARGARET BRENNAN: No.
BOB BAUER: No.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What was the response from the attorney general when you brought up these concerns to him?
Bob Bauer stated that it was clear that he had promised to release the report in the manner that the special counsel had written it, and that is the report that is now available.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Did the attorney general essentially give his endorsement to this report if he did not release any additional letters or materials?
Bob Bauer: I cannot speak on behalf of the attorney general’s opinions. However, I can state that our arguments highlighted the report’s deviation from fundamental standards. Despite pointing out the report’s deficiencies, including its predetermined legal conclusion in favor of the president, the end result remained unchanged.
MARGARET BRENNAN: According to Justice Department guidelines, the regulations for a special counsel are distinct.
Can you clarify your mention of negative remarks? You are specifically mentioning the statements made by Hur, where he states that the president did not remember his time as vice president during the first day of his interview. Do you remember when he stopped being vice president? He also forgot about his term’s start date during the second day of the interview and within a few years, he could not remember when his son Beau passed away.
Do you believe that particular aspect is what you find offensive?
One issue with the work produced is that it was not thoroughly analyzed, which was expected and accurate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.
BOB BAUER: I object to the incorrect statements and inappropriate remarks, which include the comments you mentioned.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So – OK, so when you say misstatements of fact, you were in the room for this deposition over two days, five hours.
BOB BAUER: I was indeed. Affirmative.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Was the president able to remember specific details?
During the interview, I remember the president responding to questions directly and providing his best memory. This was actually helpful to the special counsel, who cited one part of the testimony as compelling and forceful in the report.
Allow me to share a memorable anecdote from the interview. The special counsel begins by expressing gratitude to the president for keeping their scheduled meeting, despite the possibility of rescheduling due to current international affairs. The counsel emphasizes that they are appreciative of the president’s commitment to keeping the appointment, even with other pressing matters at hand.
Should the event have been rescheduled?
BOB BAUER: Then, I will also answer that question.
Next, he states that he will guide you through events that occurred many years ago. He emphasizes this. Please provide your best recollection.
The president acted accordingly by participating and responding to the inquiries. The selection of certain references in a misleading manner by the special counsel, as seen in your conversation, is an illustration of what I refer to as poor quality work and beyond the scope of a prosecutor’s duties.
I would like to mention, Margaret, that the rules for special counsel do not excuse them from following DOJ guidelines and policies. In fact, they explicitly hold the special counsel accountable to these norms and policies.
Margaret Brennan: It seems that according to the letters you have released, there are transcripts of the conversations that took place on the 8th and 9th.
BOB BAUER: I am relying on my memory for this drawing.
BOB BAUER: However, there are transcripts available. As mentioned by Ian Sams in the press briefing, discussions are currently taking place regarding the potential release of this classified document. I am unable to provide any further information on this at this time.
Do you support the idea of releasing them?
BOB BAUER: The decision ultimately lies with the government since it is a classified document.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re the president’s counsel, though.
I am the personal lawyer for the president, Bob Bauer.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you suggest that these should be made available to the public if they support your personal memory?
BOB BAUER: A procedure is currently in progress. I am not an expert in this procedure, so I must rely on those who are responsible for resolving these matters.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Alright, but during this past week, the president publicly confused the leaders of France and Germany and mistakenly referred to Egypt as Mexico.
Is the president experiencing any issues with memory?
BOB BAUER: He doesn’t.
I was in the interview room, and I have another story to share from that experience. There were a few instances where the special counsel, who had mentioned at the start that he may ask unclear questions, asked ones that the president was able to break down logically.
He demonstrated that the inquiries lacked a logical basis. As a result, everyone in the room acknowledged this to be true. This indicated that the president was paying close attention and comprehended exactly what was flawed about those questions. The special counsel’s failure to ask specific questions did not lead me to believe that he had mental capacity issues.
I had the impression that he was posing inappropriate inquiries.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The vice president has stated that the special counsel’s actions are driven by political motives. What evidence supports this claim?
BOB BAUER: What I was concerned about in the course of this investigation is that we had a special counsel who had one eye on the foregone legal conclusions and one eye on the inevitable storm from members of his own party when he had to conclude that the president had not broken the law.
Given the external pressures influencing the investigation and the previous attacks by the Republicans on the law enforcement process, it begs the question: did he ultimately decide, and we must inquire, that the only legally justifiable conclusion was to appease a specific political group by including additional elements?
Margaret Brennan: Democratic senators from Maryland, the special counsel’s home state, have previously commended him.
I understand that the president expressed his desire to reinstate the honor, integrity, and independence of the DOJ upon taking office. However, by accusing these charges of being politically motivated, doesn’t it echo Donald Trump’s claims of a rigged system?
BOB BAUER: We are not claiming that the system is rigged. No one on our side is arguing otherwise.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re claiming that the motivation behind it is political.
BOB BAUER: We are examining the actions of this specific special counsel in this specific case.
According to legal professionals across the nation, the situation quickly becomes chaotic. The document is poorly crafted. While he reached the correct legal decision, there are numerous errors and unjustified negative remarks scattered throughout the 400 pages that do not align with the evidence.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The president blamed his aides, even though he also said: “I guess I wanted to hang on to some of these documents for posterity’s sake.”
Were any members of his staff disciplined for the president’s statement regarding their responsibility, security clearances, or other matters?
According to Bob Bauer, the president has acknowledged that errors were made during the transition in regards to packing and shipping materials.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
Bob Bauer reflected, thinking back on it…
Margaret Brennan: He was in charge of managing the employees.
According to Bob Bauer, he had dedicated a significant amount of time to investigating the matter.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
Bob Bauer: He was occupied with his duties as the Vice President of the United States.
I don’t know that blaming his aides, other than assigning the responsibility where it lay, with the staff, is what the president had in mind. He was saying, staff was clearly involved, responsible for the packing. We don’t see presidents and vice presidents during transitions packing boxes.
Upon reflection, he acknowledges that perhaps he should have been more involved, as the outcome did not align with his initial expectations.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But specific to the documents related to Afghanistan, he did say he might have hung on to it for posterity’s sake, not that an aide hang – hung on to it, that he did.
BOB BAUER: Margaret, just to clarify, this is in reference to a report that was poorly written. He is talking about a handwritten memo from President Obama that even the special counsel admits would not have contained classified information.
He believed it was a confidential and private paper, just like all his discussions with President Obama. However, it turned out to be his personal memo to the president regarding a policy matter. It should be noted that his stance on the issue was widely known.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
BOB BAUER: Well-known.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
I have been informed that we must conclude our discussion here. However, I would like to express gratitude to Bob Bauer for joining us.
I am happy to hear that. Thank you so much.
MARGARET BRENNAN: …and presenting the argument, as you did.
BOB BAUER: Thanks.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will resume with additional content on Face the Nation shortly. Please continue watching.
Margaret Brennan: Let’s shift our attention to Connecticut’s Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. He played a key role in the failed immigration deal last week. The Senate is currently working towards passing aid for Israel and Ukraine.
Hello Senator, glad to have you with us.
Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, responded affirmatively.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I am interested in discussing the border later. I would like to discuss the components of the $95 billion emergency spending bill you are trying to address.
Is there an indication of whether there are enough votes (60) to approve all of the aid?
Senator Chris Murphy believes that the spending bill for Ukraine will be approved.
We have successfully overcome multiple procedural obstacles that necessitate a 60-vote majority. I believe we will ultimately reach the required 60 votes. And it is imperative that we do.
On many days, Ukraine is firing one-quarter of the artillery shells that Russia is. Some days, they are only interrupting half the missiles that are being sent at Ukrainian cities. We are on the precipice of a disaster for Ukraine and for the world.
Nikki Haley is correct. Putin has stated that if he gains control of Ukraine, he plans to expand further and ultimately draw the United States into a direct conflict with Russia.
Securing Republican support for Ukraine has proven challenging due to Donald Trump’s resistance to providing funding. Nevertheless, I am optimistic that we will be able to pass this in the Senate by early to mid next week.
MARGARET BRENNAN: According to the president, the border is currently not secure.
You are attempting to pass this law. If that is not possible, should he use executive power and, if yes, how?
Senator Chris Murphy stated that the president’s options for executive actions are limited and that he does not possess the legal power to close the border.
Our proposed legislation, which had support from both sides, would have granted him the power to do so. In case of excessive daily border crossings, the president would have the ability to close off certain sections of the border. The current system for seeking asylum is flawed. This issue cannot be resolved through executive orders. The process for processing asylum claims can take up to a decade. Additionally, a significant number of these claims are not valid. Only a new law can effectively address this issue. Our bill aimed to do just that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
Senator Chris Murphy stated that when Republicans realized the proposed solution would effectively address border issues, they voted against it in large numbers because they prefer to maintain a chaotic border, as it benefits President Trump’s reelection campaign.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There is more to discuss regarding this matter.
I need to take a rest. Please remain here with us, Senator.
We will return shortly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: After a short break, we will continue with more FACE THE NATION. We will hear from Senator Chris Murphy, discuss the recent legal developments, and get a preview of the Super Bowl.
Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you for returning to FACE THE NATION.
We will now resume our discussion with Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut.
You are optimistic that this massive security supplemental will pass this week, but there is pressure within your party to add some strings on when it comes to Israel aid. Why is it that the White House appears to be so powerless to rein in Benjamin Netanyahu when they are clearly uncomfortable with how he’s waging this war?
Senator Chris Murphy stated that an important event occurred last week. The White House sent a letter stating that if new aid is given to Israel, it must be used in accordance with U.S. and international human rights laws. This is significant as the current number of civilian casualties in Gaza is not acceptable and does not benefit the national security objectives of the United States or Israel. Allowing these casualties to continue only strengthens Hamas in Gaza and the surrounding region, as they use it as a way to recruit members.
I believe that providing clarification will be crucial. If the president speaks out more forcefully about the conduct of this campaign, it is likely to affect the pace of operations. It is crucial for both the United States and Israel that Hamas is defeated, but also for there to be a significant decrease in the number of innocent civilians being killed.
Margaret Brennan: In reference to your statement, a delegation of officials from the White House was sent to Michigan to meet with Arab Americans who are deeply dissatisfied with how the president has conveyed his message. CBS obtained a recording of a conversation between the deputy national security adviser and one of the officials, in which he stated, “I lack confidence in the current Israeli government.” He also expressed concerns that the administration’s actions have left a negative impression regarding the importance placed on the lives of Palestinians.
Are there any additional conditions being imposed on this assistance package that you are preparing to vote on?
Senator Chris Murphy stated that the president is a strong advocate for protecting the lives of those in Gaza and consistently advocates for increased humanitarian assistance to reach the region. Without the president’s efforts, there would not be as many shipments of aid entering Gaza currently.
However, there are numerous individuals who strongly feel that it is crucial for us to emphasize through this financial support that if Israel intends to utilize these funds to continue its actions in Gaza, it must be done with a reduced number of civilian casualties. This is a significant concern for members of Congress and the current administration.
Will they be discussing that further?
Senator Chris Murphy believes that the president will continue to advocate for a campaign that defeats Hamas, based on the president’s statements from last week.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
Senator Chris Murphy: However, this is accomplished in a manner that is significantly more considerate towards civilian lives.
Can you comment on the president’s recent mix-ups, such as confusing the names of French and German leaders and referring to Egypt as Mexico? Ranking Democrat Adam Smith stated that Biden may not have the usual energy to campaign, as seen in a sound bite from Friday.
Representative Adam Smith from Washington state, a Democrat, stated that the candidate in question lacks the usual stamina to actively campaign and attend multiple rallies and conversations. He believes that it is more important to have someone who excels at their job rather than being skilled at campaigning. However, it will be difficult to secure a victory in the campaign.
BRENNAN: Do you concur?
Senator Chris Murphy stated that Joe Biden is the only candidate who has successfully defeated Donald Trump. He also believes that there is a direct connection between being effective in one’s role and being able to effectively communicate with the American public to secure re-election.
Listen, I’m somebody that worked intimately with the president, right? I worked with him on the bipartisan gun bill. He was involved in every step of that process. Not only constructing the bill, but winning individual Republican votes. It would not have passed if not for Joe Biden.
What has occurred since the bill was passed? There has been a 12% decrease in urban homicides within the country. Thanks to Joe Biden’s exceptional competence and effectiveness, thousands of individuals are alive in our nation today. This attack by a partisan individual who is seeking personal gain is unfounded.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The person we just showed was a member of the Democratic Party.
Senator Chris Murphy clarified that he was referring to the special counsel when he mentioned “better.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
Senator Chris Murphy stated that those seeking new employment in the upcoming Trump administration will not be able to discourage Americans who are witnessing the true effects of Joe Biden’s administration on their daily lives.
Margaret Brennan: However, the topic at hand is different. Your colleague from the Democratic party was discussing the ability to campaign. You just admitted a failure to effectively communicate about a crucial issue regarding Palestinian lives. Is there an issue at hand?
Senator Chris Murphy believes that President Trump will have no issue promoting his exceptional record, as there are record low unemployment rates, a thriving manufacturing industry, a decrease in crime, and stable inflation.
He is the sole member of our party who has successfully defeated Donald Trump in a general election. I am confident that he is prepared for this campaign. I have personally witnessed his effectiveness. I will not allow my constituents to be diverted by a special prosecutor seeking support from the MAGA movement.
Hello Senator Murphy, it’s great to have you with us.
Senator Chris Murphy expresses his gratitude.
Margaret Brennan: We will return shortly.
Margaret Brennan welcomes Michael Morell, former Deputy Director of the CIA and senior national security contributor for CBS News. Also joining is Samantha Vinograd, a former top official in counterterrorism at the Department of Homeland Security and current CBS contributor.
Sam was previously a member of the National Security Council during the Obama administration. Despite no longer being a part of the government, she currently holds a senior advisory position at the Biden Institute located at the University of Delaware.
It is great to have both of you present.
MICHAEL MORELL, former Deputy Director of the CIA, expresses his pleasure in being present.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mike, I would like to begin with you.
The objects owned by President Biden were labeled with TSSCI classification, indicating a top level of secrecy. The chairperson of the House Intelligence Committee has claimed that both Biden and Trump possess similarly classified documents without proper authorization. Is this a justifiable comparison?
Michael Morell stated that it is challenging to compare President Trump and President Biden for various reasons. However, he mentioned that President Trump had more documents than President Biden, but the difference was not significant. Both presidents had access to confidential, secret, and top-secret information. They also had restricted handling information, which requires extra precautions due to its sensitivity. Additionally, both had access to formerly restricted data, specifically information about U.S. nuclear weapons. However, this information was dated for President Biden.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Let’s go back to the 1980s.
MICHAEL MORELL: Returning to the years 1977 and 1979, both contained confidential information.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is this harmful? It may seem risky, but as someone with firsthand experience in this topic, do you think there is an issue with excessive classification?
SAM VINOGRAD (Former Top Counterterrorism Official, DHS): Sure. But let’s keep in mind, this is not happening in a vacuum. Our partners and our adversaries are watching what was in that special counsel report and our partners who do share with us valuable intelligence that includes their sources and methods can take assurance in the fact that this president, unlike his predecessor, self-reported having this information and advised his team to do exactly the same.
Our opponents have gained valuable knowledge about ongoing and important weaknesses in the executive branch’s methods of monitoring and securing classified data. Therefore, it is crucial, in my perspective, that they launch a fresh initiative to assess the tracking and storage of classified information to prevent a recurrence of this situation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: This situation occurred with Biden, Trump, and Mike Pence. However, as you just heard, Mike, the president’s lawyer stated that the handwritten letter regarding Afghanistan was simply a personal keepsake. What message does this send to individuals who are not commander-in-chief but still have to fulfill their job duties and could face consequences for possessing similar documents?
MICHAEL MORELL: I will not make a judgment on Mr. Hur’s choice to prosecute or not to prosecute. However, it is important to note that senior government officials have a heightened responsibility to handle classified information appropriately. When they fail to do so, it sets a precedent for others to also disregard proper protocol. In the past, senior officials who mishandled classified information have faced consequences from the Department of Justice and their respective agencies at high levels, even when the Department of Justice decides not to prosecute.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In this situation, there are no options for recourse.
MICHAEL MORELL: Is there anyone available to handle that task?
According to Margaret Brennan, the president holds the highest position.
According to Michael Morell, I believe –
SARA VINOGRAD: Of course, he did acknowledge his accountability.
MICHAEL MORELL: Yes.
I believe the true test will be –
Margaret Brennan: For failing to supervise his employees.
SARA VINOGRAD: Indeed, I have experience with transitions, Margaret. I am not here to support or criticize the president. What I am stating is that, based on facts, the vice president was not engaged in packing boxes.
Having said that, the president holds the duty to prevent such incidents from occurring again. This is precisely why I believe he should declare a reassessment of the current executive order dictating the categorization, retention, and declassification of materials. Additionally, I suggest he appoint a high-ranking official to supervise these procedures.
According to the report, there were major deficiencies in the resources allocated to the vice president’s office for handling classified information. It is now the responsibility of the president to demonstrate to the nation that he is taking action to address this issue.
Michael Morell stated that there was a similar situation involving former CIA Director John Deutch, who put classified information on an unclassified laptop connected to the internet. This put the information at risk and when it was discovered, the Department of Justice declined to prosecute. The case was then referred back to the CIA for an administrative review, where Director George Tenet held Deutch accountable by revoking his security clearance indefinitely.
To transmit a message.
MICHAEL MORELL: To convey the message that everyone must prioritize the management of classified information.
SAM VINOGRAD: I believe it is necessary for the president to convey this message. While it may be challenging to compare John Deutch to a current president, I concur with your viewpoint that it is crucial to send a signal. During my time as a White House employee, I was required to sign a nondisclosure agreement and adhere to ethical obligations. Similarly, the members of the National Security Council must be aware that their president places the same importance on classified information as they do. Therefore, I do believe that he should publicly announce measures to prevent a recurrence of this situation.
MICHAEL MORELL: I accept –
Did he owe an apology?
I believe he recognized that ultimately, he was responsible for the mishandling of information during his time as vice president.
MICHAEL MORELL: In my opinion, the apology needs to be more extensive. While I agree that a new policy is necessary for the end of administrations, I believe the apology should also acknowledge the gravity of having this material and the potential harm to national security. It should express remorse to the American people and specifically to the CIA officers who risked their lives to gather some of the information. The fact that there was CIA material included in this incident should be addressed and steps should be taken to prevent it from happening again. A more sincere and thorough apology is needed.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I believe it’s valuable to consider the merits of the issue without political bias, so I thank both of you for sharing your experiences with us.
We will return shortly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: To discuss the legal proceedings against former President Donald Trump, we are joined by David Becker, an election law expert and the founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research at CBS News.
Hello David, it’s great to see you here.
The past week has been very hectic in terms of legal matters surrounding the presidential administration.
DAVID BECKER: Yes.
Can you anticipate the Supreme Court hearing Donald Trump’s appeal of the D.C. Circuit’s ruling that a former president is not immune from criminal prosecution?
David Becker believes that it is highly likely that the accused will file an appeal, with the deadline being tomorrow, Monday. However, he does not think that the Supreme Court will review the case. This is due to the fact that the ruling made by three judges from the D.C. Circuit, which is often considered the second highest court in the country, was a unanimous decision made by two judges appointed by different presidents from different parties. The ruling, known as a per curiam decision, clearly rejects the notion that a president of the United States has complete immunity for any criminal actions they may have committed. This stance is seen as extreme and the opinion is expected to be strongly supported by a majority of the Supreme Court.
Which one will hold significance?
DAVID BECKER: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It is considered the legal standard in this area for them to acknowledge it.
According to Donald Trump, all of his statements are being manipulated, but he believes that not having total immunity would restrict the power of future presidents. He fears that without this protection, the opposing party could use threats of indictment for actions taken while in office as leverage to get what they want from the president.
Is there any validity to that statement?
DAVID BECKER: First and foremost, the opinion by the D.C. Circuit addressed this issue. They utilized a balancing test and concluded that the entire executive branch, not just one president, and the public have the right to expect accountability from the president. Additionally, it shows a lack of comprehension about the functioning of the justice system, especially in regards to criminal cases.
In each situation that Trump is being confronted with, whether it pertains to federal charges in Florida or Washington D.C., or state charges in New York and Georgia, grand juries were assembled. Prosecutors had to provide evidence to a group of citizens in order to obtain these indictments in all of these instances.
After that, the prosecutors must bear a significant burden of proof to convince a jury that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of committing these actions. Can you imagine the pressure on prosecutors in such cases? This is an unbiased investigation, with no interference from political figures. The prosecutors will ultimately have to demonstrate their case before a jury. It is worth considering the potential political gain for them if President Trump is found innocent by a jury in any of these cases.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You have effectively clarified how the system functions. However, for those who are only exposed to political slogans, it may appear that Joe Biden and Mike Pence are not facing consequences from the Justice Department for mishandling classified information. On the other hand, Donald Trump is being prosecuted because he actively attempted to withhold those documents from law enforcement when they requested their return.
Margaret Brennan: How would you address those who view this as a form of unequal justice?
DAVID BECKER: In my opinion, this past week demonstrated the independence of the Justice Department. Despite the Biden administration’s disapproval of the Hur report’s release, it was still made public. This shows that the Justice Department is not controlled by the influence of former President Trump, as he claims.
Additionally, it is worth mentioning that one of the four accusations against ex-President Trump in Washington D.C. is obstruction of the Justice Department. He was accused of attempting to interfere with the Justice Department in order to prompt an investigation into an election that was universally recognized as fair and free of fraud.
I believe this highlights the way in which political bias can influence one’s perspective. There is a tendency to view actions against one’s opponents as favorable and actions against one’s own side as unfavorable. In this case, both President Biden and former Vice President Pence were handled similarly, while former President Trump faced different treatment due to his refusal to provide requested documents and allow investigators access to them.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The indictments contain specific details about how far he went in that regard.
However, you were present in the courtroom at the Supreme Court this week during the discussion of a case from Colorado regarding the 14th Amendment and preventing Trump from being on the ballot due to his supposed involvement in an insurrection. It appears that the justices will likely rule against Colorado. Is that your understanding of the situation?
David Becker believes that the Supreme Court is likely to come to a unanimous decision. The discussion among the nine justices was enlightening and they all seemed to be concerned about the possibility of a single state determining the qualifications for presidency, even after an evidentiary hearing like in Colorado. This could lead to different states having different ideas of qualifications for the presidency, which is unique compared to other elections due to the use of electors and electoral votes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
In my opinion, it is probable that the court will decide to allow him to stay on the ballot.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It is always a pleasure to have you, David Becker.
David Becker expressed his gratitude to Margaret for her feedback.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will return shortly.
Margaret Brennan: The NFL Today’s James Brown, also a special correspondent for CBS News, gave us a preview of tonight’s Super Bowl LVIII, which will be broadcasted on CBS.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You are covering your 12th Super Bowl as I understand it. And you’re right there in Vegas. The league was hesitant about putting a team in that city. Why and how does it change things?
“The NFL Today” host James Brown stated that Las Vegas is without a doubt the ultimate destination for gambling. The league has put in considerable effort to ensure that the game remains untainted by any outside influence. However, with the recent legalization of gambling by the Supreme Court, it has become an integral part of the game, but efforts are still being made to keep it separate.
I am aware that you have been monitoring the issue of concussions and injuries for quite some time now. The NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, stated in his press conference that the league has made significant strides in reducing injuries, but acknowledged that there is still a lot of work to be done. How is the league handling this?
JAMES BROWN: The traditional football match was a physically demanding and aggressive game, with little emphasis on defense. However, there have been significant changes since then. The league has invested $1.2 billion towards a settlement with retired players for their medical needs, with an additional $320 million allocated this year. There has also been notable progress in concussion research and stricter rules on the field. Officials are committed to ensuring that the game is played correctly, with the possibility of one warning before being removed from the game.
The ultimate authority in determining a player’s injury on the field is the medical community. If a player is diagnosed with a concussion, the coaching staff has no input. The medical staff is in charge and there is a specific protocol for concussions that the player must follow before being cleared to return to the game, which usually takes about a week or two.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It seems like there has been progress. One topic we have discussed before, which I know you care deeply about, is the issue of diversity in the NFL. When we last talked, you mentioned that the history of diversity in the league was abysmal. Do you believe that there has been improvement?
James Brown has seen significant progress in terms of diversity in the NFL, but he believes there is still room for improvement. He credits the commissioner, Roger Goodell, and his executive vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, for continuing to push for diversity. The league has seen a 51% increase in diversity, particularly in leadership positions such as the C-suite. This shift towards diversity is a testament to the fact that excellence and success should not be limited to a specific group of individuals. It is encouraging to see this positive change taking place.
MARGARET BRENNAN: J.B., has that diversity impacted how some of the players feel? I know you had said in the past it was kind of getting to them.
James Brown: The players are making noticeable strides. In fact, the Raiders have a female president, Miss Sandra Douglass Morgan, who is African American and biracial. She is leading the organization here in Las Vegas. Previously, Amy Trask held the position of president for the Raiders. This sets a high standard for other teams to follow.
I examine the Denver Broncos and notice a notable presence of female members in the ownership ranks of the organization.
Since 2013, there has been a 30% rise in the amount of assistant coaches who are individuals of color. This progress is noticed by players who are grateful as they also aspire to pursue this path in the future.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Excellent points. Thank you, J.B.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Catch J.B. on “The NFL Today” at 2:00 p.m. as CBS kicks off their all-day coverage of the Super Bowl following a short break.
We have come to the end of our show for today. Thank you for tuning in. We will see you again next week for FACE THE NATION with host Margaret Brennan.
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