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Full transcript of “Face the Nation,” Dec. 3, 2023 – Celebrity Smaachar


On this “Face the Nation” broadcast, moderated by Margaret Brennan: 

  • House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Mike Turner, Republican of Ohio
  • 2024 Republican presidential hopeful and Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie 
  • Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis 
  • National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby 
  • Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb 

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


MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan in Washington.

And this week on Face the Nation: The U.S. steps up pressure on Israel to do more to protect civilians, as the pause to release hostages ends and the Israeli offensive resumes.

The bombing in Gaza is back, as Israel continues its efforts to destroy Hamas. Despite Israeli leaders vowing to do all they can to keep civilians out of the crossfire, the Biden administration says they need to do more.

(Begin VT)

KAMALA HARRIS (Vice President of the United States): Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed. As Israel defends itself, it matters how.

LLOYD AUSTIN (U.S. Secretary of Defense): The center of gravity is the civilian population. And if you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will have the latest on the conflict and the efforts to free the rest of the hostages.

Plus, we will talk with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner about his concerns about our own ability to gather intelligence to prevent attacks here in the U.S.

Plus: Six weeks out from the first votes in the 2024 presidential contest, are the other contenders giving Trump a pass on his inflammatory attacks?

(Begin VT)

DONALD TRUMP (Former President of the United States (R) and Current U.S. Presidential Candidate): Biden and his radical left allies like to pose as defenders of democracy. Joe Biden is the destroyer of American democracy.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will talk to GOP candidate and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He says he’s trying to hold Trump accountable. But is anyone listening?

Former FDA head Dr. Scott Gottlieb is back to talk about the spike in respiratory illnesses among children.

Finally, we say goodbye to three remarkable public servants, and Washington breathes a sigh of relief at the departure of one whose public service was anything but distinguished.

It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.

We have a lot to get to today, but we begin with our Chris Livesay reporting from Jerusalem.

(Begin VT)

CHRIS LIVESAY (voice-over): With the cease-fire in shambles, Israeli Defense Forces are once again pushing to annihilate Hamas, pushing south, warning residents to flee the city of Khan Yunis, a suspected Hamas command center, but also home to Hani Abu Tayyima (sp?).

(HANI ABU TAYYIMA SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

CHRIS LIVESAY: “I will never see my friends again,” she says. “I can only play with sand, instead of toys. It’s hard for us to get food and water here, and a lot of my friends are dead.”

At the Shuhada Al-Aqsa Hospital, women and children scramble for treatment and shelter. Israel has sworn to minimize the loss of civilian life, even to persist with negotiations, but under fire.

(PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

CHRIS LIVESAY: “We will continue the war until we achieve all its goals,” vows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “That’s impossible without the ground operation,” a ground operation that gives Israel leverage, he insists, to free the remaining 130 hostages, including eight Americans, who remain in the clutches of Hamas.

Now, for the first time, many of those freed describe their torment in detail, desperate for food and air in Hamas’ tunnels.

(DANIELLE ALONI SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

CHRIS LIVESAY: “Our girls have seen things that kids should not see, a horror film,” recalls Danielle Aloni. We just slept and cried. Every day that passed was an eternity,” a horror film that terrified their families at home as well, says Hadas Calderon.

(HADAS CALDERON SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

CHRIS LIVESAY: “The first sentence they said to me when we met was: ‘Mommy, you’re alive. Mommy, we didn’t know you were alive.'”

(End VT)

CHRIS LIVESAY: This weekend, Israeli intelligence sent a team to Qatar to continue negotiations.

But, Margaret, that same team turned around just hours later, saying Hamas wasn’t living up to its end of the bargain, which included the release of all women and children.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s Chris Livesay in Jerusalem.

And we’re joined now by the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Mike Turner.

Good morning. Good to have you here.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER (R-Ohio): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, our colleagues here at CBS have heard from more Israeli soldiers, mainly female, saying that they had reported up the chain of command warnings about a potential Hamas attack.

“The New York Times,” the “F.T.,” they have details, specific ones, going back a year. The White House says this wasn’t shared with U.S. intelligence. If this is America’s closest Mideast ally, should that concern us?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Well, I think what you saw was just a general dismissal by Israel and Israel’s intelligence community of the possibility of this level of a threat, which really goes to the complete breakdown that occurred here.

It’s been amazing to have our intelligence community now working closely with the Israeli intelligence community and see the gaps that they have. And this obviously could have been an institutional bias that resulted in them dismissing it.

But the other aspect that made this so dangerous is that, even when October 7 began to unfold, their forces didn’t react. They didn’t have the deployment ability to respond, not just the intelligence ability to prevent it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Which raises questions now about, have those gaps been filled? How can you take Israeli assurances that everything they’re doing is precise and targeted and exact?

Does the United States know where Yahya Sinwar, the commander who was the architect of this, is? Israel says that he’s in South Gaza.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Well, certainly, the United States is assisting in the location of Hamas leadership as Israel moves to eliminate the threat of Hamas.

And I just received a briefing from CIA Director Burns on Friday, who just came back from the Middle East. He’s been working diligently. He’s doing a great job on negotiating for the release of hostages and also in trying to make certain that our intelligence apparatus is working closely with Israel to try to fill some of those gaps that they clearly have.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

When it comes to what the United States is doing for our own standards, for our own government, we have to have a nearly certain standard when it comes to counterterrorism lethal operations, positive I.D. of the target, no civilian casualties.

Should we hold our allies who we provide with weapons and intelligence to that exact same standard?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Well, I can tell you that we are being selective as to the information that’s being provided.

It’s one thing to be able to look, to try to identify a specific individual and provide information as to their location and operations and actually directing an operation. I mean, Director Burns has been very clear that we are not just providing direct access to our intelligence, and that certainly gives us the ability to have caution.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is Israel, though, operating on that intelligence to the level, to the standard that they should, that the United States holds itself to?

Because we just heard from the defense secretary and the vice president that it certainly sounds that the U.S. assessment is they’re not.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: With respect to use of U.S. intelligence, I can tell you that that’s certainly how the United States is operating and holding them to that standard.

Now, broadly, as you have reported, the United States is very concerned, to the extent that Israel is not doing enough to protect civilians. And, certainly, the issue goes even broader to the issue of humanitarian aid being provided to the Palestinians, who are equally prisoners of Hamas.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

Can aid, which is being bundled in the Senate with Ukraine aid, to Israel and Ukraine get through the Republican-controlled House if the stipulation, as I understand it from the speaker of the House, is that it has to also include provisions regarding the U.S. border?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Sure.

Speaker Johnson is doing a great job, and he is directly negotiating both with the White House and with the Senate on the aid package, which would include aid to Israel, aid to Ukraine, and also Southeast Asia.

But, more importantly, in the negotiation process, it would include changes in our Southern border policy, which even Director Wray has identified as a national security threat. Those negotiations are ongoing.

And it’s going to take the administration coming to the table and recognizing that their policy needs to change. America overwhelmingly wants the Southern border addressed. It represents a national security threat, as his own security advisers are telling him.

You know, we can’t have millions of people continue to cross our border and at all believe that we have a secure country with our national security.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So – but what’s the specific on that? Because the White House is asking for like $14 billion. Are you saying the money is not enough? You want an overhaul of immigration policy that hasn’t happened in decades, and for that to happen in the next three weeks?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Well, actually, there have been things that happened in decades.

If you look back at the Trump administration, where they had positions that – policies such as remain in Mexico, there were policies that were working that were keeping the Southern border controlled, where the number of people…

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that’s a specific ask now?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: And that is a specific ask now – where the number of people crossing is diminished.

The administration can make changes which other administrations have enforced that – that change the difference. It’s the reversal of those policies that have caused Biden’s Southern border policies to be a failure and the millions of people to have entered our country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So I want to ask you something else that Congress, I know you think, needs to get done in a very short period of time, and that is reauthorizing Section 702.

We talked about it there as directly related to America’s own terror threat and being able to have warrantless surveillance powers.

Mark Warner, your colleague over in the Senate, says the main challenge to getting this done, your Ohio Republican colleague Jim Jordan, who he says wants to take the FBI out of the process. So, can you get Jordan and the Freedom Caucus, of which your speaker is a member, on board with this?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Well, I think so; 702 is one of our most important tools for monitoring foreign individuals located outside the United States who pose a national security threat to our country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And it’s about to expire.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: And it’s about to expire at the end of the year.

It does not monitor United States citizens. I think there are those who look at the behavior of the FBI and want to punish the FBI, foolishly, by cutting off one of our most important tools to target at foreign individuals. It certainly is also one of our most important tools that we’re using to help Israel in this conflict.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How’s that?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: It allows us to monitor foreign – through this program, we monitor Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS.

Some of our most, you know, ardent adversaries are monitored in this program.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: And, certainly, we shouldn’t punish the FBI for what they’ve done in other areas to hinder our ability to track terrorists and our adversaries.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Has Speaker Johnson committed to taking this version that the Intelligence chairs are proposing, versus Jim Jordan’s version that wants to take the FBI out of this?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Right.

So we have a bill. Myself, Jim Himes, Darin LaHood, Brian Fitzpatrick, Senator Warner, Senator Rubio, and Senator Cornyn have a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would address some of the past abuses of the FBI, prevent them in the future, and also reauthorize 702. The speaker is very supportive of that. We’ve just got to get it over the line.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How? What do you attach it to?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Well, and that’s the problem, because – so, I do think we’ve got substance on our side…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: … that this is the way to go.

The individuals who want to hinder this process, really, I think, fully don’t fully understand how the process works, and are – are really not understanding the – the value and the importance of this to our national security.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But then what we do see is Speaker Johnson saying yesterday on FOX he’s going to hold a vote on the impeachment inquiry into President Biden.

You’re talking about something of immediate national security threat, immediacy in timing, needing to prioritize that.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Exactly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But we’re going to have an impeachment inquiry vote instead?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: You know, unfortunately, this is some of the legacy of the chaos that has happened in Congress, where the – those who wanted to shut down the government at the end of summer are some of those that want to stop the reauthorization of 702, wrongly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you going to vote for this impeachment inquiry next week?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: We’ll have to see what the evidence and the – and the information is. And we – it has not yet been presented to us.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that really the top priority, though?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: You know, you can have more than one priority.

Certainly, I think protecting and enforcing our laws is a priority. But, in this, 702 is critical. It needs to be reformed and reauthorized. And the speaker is certainly committed to both those goals.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, it’s always good to have you here in person, Mike Turner.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And coming up later on in this program:

(Begin VT)

GOVERNOR JARED POLIS (D-Colorado): There’s a healthy way to deal with conflicting opinions. Actually, it’s OK to disagree.

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX (R-Utah): It’s not just OK. It’s crucial.

GOVERNOR JARED POLIS: Did you just disagree with me about disagreeing?

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Colorado Democrat Jared Polis and Utah Republican Spencer Cox, two governors trying to get people to disagree better, they will tell us how to do that when we come back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we’re back with the coordinator for strategic communications at the White House National Security Council, John Kirby.

Always good to have you here.

JOHN KIRBY (NSC Coordinator For Strategic Communications): Thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about this breakdown in the hostage negotiations.

JOHN KIRBY: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Mossad has pulled their negotiators out of Doha, saying that there’s no use in continuing to talk.

Is this insurmountable? There are still Americans being held.

JOHN KIRBY: We don’t believe it’s insurmountable.

In fact, even while the negotiations have stopped, Margaret, we haven’t stopped our efforts on the National Security Council and according – and all the way up to the president, trying to work hour by hour to see if we can get this pause reinstated and get those hostages out.

I will say, while the pause has been lifted and no hostage exchanges are going on, what is still going on, importantly, is humanitarian assistance getting in, including – including fuel, which is – which is very critical.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It wasn’t. It’s restarted, you’re saying?

JOHN KIRBY: So, even – yes. So, even when the pause ended, what didn’t end was humanitarian assistance.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We heard from your old boss, the defense secretary, Lloyd Austin there…

JOHN KIRBY: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: … in the beginning of the program, and he said that the lesson he learned from the ISIS campaign was that, in urban warfare, you have to protect civilians.

He was pretty sharp in his words. He said he has pushed Israeli leaders to avoid civilian casualties, shun irresponsible rhetoric, prevent violence by settlers in the West Bank.

It certainly sounds like the Netanyahu government has not made the changes that they have been asked to make for the past few weeks.

JOHN KIRBY: They have been receptive to those messages. Those messages that he delivered in public, we are also delivering in private. They have been…

MARGARET BRENNAN: For three weeks or more now, including on this program.

JOHN KIRBY: They have been receptive to those messages.

Now, again, I want to make it clear. The right number of civilian casualties is zero. And, clearly, many thousands have been killed, and many more thousands have been wounded, and now more than a million are internally displaced. We are aware of that, and we know that all of that is a tragedy.

We grieve with all those families. That is why we continue to work, as Secretary Austin said, with our Israeli counterparts to get them to be as careful and as precise and as deliberate in their targeting as possible.

And I would tell you, as I said, they have been receptive. They went into North Gaza with a much smaller force than what they had originally planned to do. And here you have in the last…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because the United States slowed down those operations?

JOHN KIRBY: And if you have – in the last 24 hours, they have been putting a map online of places where people in Gaza need to avoid and need to go.

MARGARET BRENNAN: They don’t have connectivity widely in Gaza. You know that.

JOHN KIRBY: But – well, they have also been doing it with paper and leaflets and that kind of thing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

JOHN KIRBY: My point is, Margaret, that it’s very rare for a modern military to take those kinds of steps, basically telegraphing their punches, before they actually conduct operations.

So I think they’re listening. I think they’re receptive.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you’re continuing to deliver this message at pretty high levels, including the vice president is saying this.

JOHN KIRBY: Of course.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That number you say, thousands, the Gaza Ministry of Health says it’s over 15,000 people who have been killed since October 7.

Does the U.S. have – U.S. has – have an assessment of civilians?

JOHN KIRBY: We don’t have a specific number that we can speak to, but we know many, many thousands have been – have been killed.

And, again, many, many thousands more have been wounded, but we don’t have an exact figure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So Hamas, when it attacked so brutally on October 7, you were very strong. You reflected the president’s emotion on this, his defense of the Netanyahu government.

JOHN KIRBY: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But Senator Van Hollen, who was on this program recently, faulted you. I want you to listen to it.

(Begin VT)

SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-Maryland): Many of us were concerned just a few weeks ago when one of the White House national security spokesperson was asked if the United States has any red lines…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: And the answer was no, which means anything goes. And – and that cannot be consistent with American interests and American values.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: He’s talking about what you said October 24 from the podium. That’s a Democrat saying they need clear language from the White House.

JOHN KIRBY: Look, everything that we do for a foreign military, including Israel, when you give them security assistance, there are expectations with that security assistance that it’s going to be used in keeping with the law of armed conflict, the law of war.

And we are in constant touch with our Israeli counterparts about the way that they’re prosecuting these operations. Secretary Blinken has said himself, it’s not just what you do that matters, it’s how you do that matters.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But are there red lines?

JOHN KIRBY: We believe that the approach that we have been taking, Margaret, has had an effect.

It has allowed Israel to continue to go after a very viable terrorist threat to their existence and at the same time…

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you’re correcting, trying to correct course.

Are there red lines? Because what we’re seeing right now, as “The Journal” was just reporting, I mean, bunker-buster bombs, 2,000-pound bombs being handed over. The United States is a really strong supporter of Israel here.

JOHN KIRBY: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Should there be brighter lines?

JOHN KIRBY: We are having these discussions with our Israeli counterparts every day about being careful, precise and deliberate in their targeting and trying to minimize civilian casualties to the maximum extent possible.

I think it’s also important for people to remember what they’re up against here. Hamas deliberately shelters themselves inside residential buildings, hospitals and schools…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

JOHN KIRBY: … basically on purpose, putting civilians in the line of fire. And what Israel’s trying to do is get them out of the line of fire.

So, it’s an added burden that Israel has, as a modern military. And we recognize that. But it’s also a very difficult burden and obstacle for them to overcome.

So look, we’re – we don’t want to see a single more innocent life taken here, but – and so we’re going to continue to work with – with Israel about this. But the approach that we’ve been taking has delivered some results, including more than 100 hostages getting out.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, but you understand the implications for U.S. national security to be seen as endorsing all of this, which is what Van Hollen was raising.

But I want to ask you about Venezuela as well before I let you go. The U.S. lifted some sanctions off the Maduro regime…

JOHN KIRBY: Some.

MARGARET BRENNAN: … and set some goals.

November 30, there were supposed to be three Americans who are determined to be wrongfully detained released. That didn’t happen.

JOHN KIRBY: No, it didn’t.

(CROSSTALK)

JOHN KIRBY: Nor did the release of other political prisoners.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Exactly. So what happens now? Will you put more sanctions on? What is the status of those Americans?

JOHN KIRBY: I don’t want to get ahead of where we are in the decision- making process, but we’re reviewing our options right now.

They – they had until the evening of the 30th to – to make these kinds of decisions. Unfortunately, they didn’t. And so we’re now going back to – to the – to policy options and reviewing what our chances are. But I don’t want to get ahead…

(CROSSTALK)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Including snapback sanctions?

JOHN KIRBY: Again, I don’t want to get ahead of where we are, but we were extremely concerned that they didn’t take those two extra steps, release of political prisoners and getting our wrongfully detained Americans home.

That’s something we take very seriously, getting those folks home, and we’re going to keep at it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Admiral, thank you for being here in person.

JOHN KIRBY: Good to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to the former Governor of New Jersey and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie.

Good to have you back on the program.

We know, sir, the RNC is supposed to announce tomorrow who will be on that December 6 debate stage. Has the RNC told you you’ve qualified to be there? And, if you haven’t, will you drop out?

FORMER GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-New Jersey) (Presidential Candidate): I don’t think they’ve told anybody yet who all of us are going to be on the stage, but I’m confident, Margaret, that I will be there and that we have all the qualifications necessary to get there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You – because you told CNN over Thanksgiving you will stay in the race through the convention, which would put you into the summer months.

Does the field need to consolidate to beat Donald Trump, which you say is one of your prime motivations in running?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Look, this field has already consolidated more than any non-incumbent field in this century, Margaret.

Back this time eight years ago, we had 13 candidates still in the race. At this time back, you know, in 2011, we had eight candidates in the race. And at this time back in 2007, we had nine candidates in the race.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: And so this – this field has consolidated significantly. And I suspect it will consolidate more after folks vote in Iowa and New Hampshire.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But isn’t it a little bit different that you have the 45th president of the United States running, a known entity, who has this automatic platform?

It’s – it’s just a different model. It’s a different case.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Yes, it – the other thing that makes it different, Margaret, is, he’s got 91 counts of indictment against him.

The day before Super Tuesday, he’s going to start a criminal trial, where his former chief of staff and one of the founders of the Freedom Caucus is going to testify that he committed crimes on his watch and was directed to commit crimes by Donald Trump.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: There’s a lot of things different about this.

And that’s why anybody tried to predict this is just shooting in the dark.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But why don’t – why hasn’t that turned off the GOP electorate?

When you look at CBS polling and others, he is leading, as you know. And then, I mean, you’ve made clear, when some of the other competitors are using really harsh rhetoric, that you think that should disqualify them.

Why hasn’t that extreme rhetoric turned the GOP off of these other candidates either?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, look, I – first off, I don’t think you know exactly what’s going to happen at all until people vote.

Look, if we listened to all the polling, Margaret, Hillary Clinton would be in her second term. So I don’t believe that polling is nearly as reliable as it used to be. And I don’t believe that people tell the truth to pollsters.

And so, at the end of the day, everybody who’s trying to make these decisions now are just wrong. Let’s remember something. In this – in the Republican primary in ’07, do you know who was winning at this time in ’07? Mitt Romney.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: You know who was winning at this time in ’11? Newt Gingrich. And winning this time in ’15 was Ben Carson. I don’t remember any of those presidencies, Margaret.

So, you know, my view, we can’t worry about that kind of stuff. What we need to worry about is the direction this country is going in. And most people don’t agree with it. And if you don’t agree with the direction of the country, why would you vote for either Trump or Biden, who have put us in this direction?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

Well, I have a lot more to talk to you about, including on the issues and the things that we know from our own polling voters want to hear from candidates like you.

So I’m going to ask you to stick with us, because I do have to take a commercial break.

And we’ll have more questions on the other side of it.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation and more with former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, plus Dr. Scott Gottlieb on the increasing number of respiratory illnesses among children.

Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.

And we have more now from former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, candidate for the Republican nomination.

Sir, I want to pick up where we left off. You know, we hear from political pundits all the time, oh, Americans just don’t care about national security when it comes to how they vote, but you were the only candidate who has gone to both Israel and Ukraine during this campaign, at least only one still standing. Why was it important for you to go?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Because I think if you want to be president of the United States you have to see these things for yourself. You can’t count on reports from pundits or the press or from other folks in public life. You’ve got to see it for yourself.

And I will tell you, when I went to Israel, Margaret, just a couple of weeks ago, the inhumanity I saw that Hamas rained upon the Jewish people in Israel. I went into one home of a 24-year-old couple recently married, both were murdered in their small three-room home. And there were 140 bullet holes in the walls to kill two people, Margaret. It’s not just the inhumanity that Hamas executes, it’s the joy they take in that inhumanity. And that’s why Israel has to do what they need to do to eliminate the military threat. And I think I – I would not have completely understood it and couldn’t be an effective president if I didn’t see it for myself.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll see if some of the other candidates go.

One of the things that I also want to pick up on that we see voters responding to thus far is abortion. You know it’s been a galvanizing issue in favor of Democrats. We’ve seen that a few times now. Are you concerned that in a head-to-head that that will help to buoy the president himself as he runs for re-election, and how does a Republican candidate like yourself take the issue to the national stage when the message for decades has been it’s a state issue?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Look, I – Margaret, I’ve been consistent on this. I believe the conservative, smart approach is to let the states make these decisions. And that’s what I think they should do. And that’s why I said I wouldn’t sign a six-week national abortion ban as Governor DeSantis, and now just recently in Iowa Governor Haley has said she would sign a six-week ban. I don’t think you can say one thing in one place and something else in another. You need to be consistent.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: For 50 years Republicans have argued that the Supreme Court took this decision away from the people. I think this belongs in the hands of the people of each individual state. We see a great democratic, small “d,” event going on right now across the country in places like Michigan and Kansas and Ohio, where people are voting. Let’s let the American people vote in their individual states and decide what they want this policy to be.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So better for the party not to have a national policy essentially is what you’re saying?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: I believe that’s – I believe that’s true.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: I believe that’s what the Constitution guides us to do. And that’s where we should stay. And that’s where I’ve been.

And I’m concerned, quite frankly, Margaret, that, you know, candidates in this race have been all over the block on this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: And – and it’s not right. People deserve to have a straight answer from you. And that’s my straight answer.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, also giving a fairly straight assessment is Liz Cheney, the former congresswoman who just did an interview with my colleague John Dickerson and told him, the United States is sleepwalking into a dictatorship.

Bob Kagan, a writer in the New York – in “The Washington Post” had an op- ed saying after super Tuesday in March, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee and what “happens there will be a swift and dramatic shift in the political power dynamic, in his favor,” saying all Republican critics, perhaps even yourself, will fall silent out of self-preservation.

Is that how you see your party behaving after March?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Look, I can’t speak for everyone in my party. I can only speak for myself, Margaret. And anybody who knows me knows I will not be silent. I haven’t been silent since the day I got into this race.

And, in fact, unlike others, you know, Nikki Haley says he was the right president for the right time and that for some reason, you know, drama and chaos seem to follow him. The reason is that he acts like someone who doesn’t care about our democracy, acts like someone who wants to be a dictator. He act the like someone who doesn’t care for the Constitution. In fact, he’s even said himself he’d be willing to suspend the Constitution if an election wasn’t going in his direction.

Margaret, I was the only one on that stage going back to August when I – when we were asked, would you support someone who, you know, was convicted of a felony for president of the United States. I – Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, they all raised their hand. I did not. And I think I’ve made it very, very clear how I feel about this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: And if folks want a return to some decency and civility, why would you ever vote for Donald Trump?

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Chris Christie, we’ll watch. Thanks for your time.

We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to the co-chairs of the National Governors Association, Utah’s Spencer Cox and Colorado’s Jared Polis, and their Disagree Better Initiative, which is an effort to encourage civil dialog among American leaders.

Good morning to you both.

GOV. SPENCER COX (R-UT): Good morning, Margaret.

GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we like trying to – we like trying to bring civility back to politics, although I have to say, a lot of what’s happening in the world makes that challenging I think at times for people.

And one of those things, I want to dive right into first with you, Governor Cox, and that is that – the conflict in the Middle East right now has inflamed tensions in this country, arguments and we’re seeing it often play out on college campuses, for example. I know you told state colleges in Utah to remain neutral and stop commenting on current events. You said, “I don’t care what your position is on Israel and Palestine, I don’t care what your position is on Roe versus Wade, we don’t need our institution to take a position on those things.” That just sounds like agreeing not to disagree at all.

SPENCER COX: No, no, it’s the exact opposite. In fact, if you look at what we actually put out that was voted on unanimously by the board of higher ed in our state, the institutions themselves need to be neutral so that we can have these disagreements. We want actually more disagreement on campus. There’s a better way to do that. We can disagree without tearing each other apart.

That was part of a free speech initiative that we’re working on in this state. We want more students on campus to engage in this type of dialog. We want more politics on campus. What’s happening, sadly, across the United States is, too many of our universities have not followed the Chicago principles that were put out many years ago. They – they come out with very strong statements that are very political statements and end up silencing dissent or disagreement on campuses.

We want campuses to be a place of robust discussion. It’s how it was when I was growing up. I think all of us had these wonderful experiences. And we want less cancel culture on campus.

So, free speech means that you have to allow for other people to disagree, even if those are very unpopular opinions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor Polis, is that how you handle things in Colorado around this issue?

JARED POLIS: Yes. Well, look, the other – the other part of that, the second part is, no matter what your beliefs, you should be safe. Whether it’s in a campus, whether it’s in a city, regardless of how you express your opinion, you shouldn’t be afraid to walk from one side of campus to another wearing a Jewish star around your neck, or if you happen to be a Muslim American. So, there’s an affirmative responsibility that of course our universities have, but also our cities and others.

For instance, we just had a major Jewish conference, Jewish national fund in Denver. A major efforts, city of Denver, the state, to keep the conferees safe. And there was also room for people to demonstrate. And they were able to express their free speech. And no one was injured. And hopefully it led to a few conversations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But some would argue that there is a moral imperative to speak out. You know, in the college town of Burlington, Vermont, we saw those three young men brutally shot. One may not walk again. Palestinian Americans. We’ve seen the spike in anti-Semitism well before October 7th, but even more so it seems like an deluge afterwards.

So, how do you balance that in your messaging to the heads of the universities in your state?

SPENCER COX: Yes, I think it’s very important. And what Governor Polis said is exactly that, it is about keeping people safe. What – you just gave an example where – where that did not happen. We absolutely should speak out about protecting and keeping people safe on our campuses. That’s very different, Margaret, than – than taking a position on a political issue, which is happening all over the country. And it’s ridiculous what is happening on our campuses when it comes to that. You saw it all the time, in fact. You saw university presidents that were very eager to speak out on all the issues of the day as long as they were leaning one political direction. But then as soon as Israel and Hamas happens, there was silence across campuses because, well, if we speak out in support of Israel, then we might offend, you know, a very vocal part of our campus.

That’s embarrassing. And it shouldn’t happen. It’s better that the institutions themselves stay neutral on these.

And, look, this is not new.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SPENCER COX: This is a long-time thing on our campuses that should be happening to protect our students so that they can have those robust debates. We want this debate to be happening on our campuses.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, two pro-Israel groups, the Anti-Defamation League and the Brandeis Center wrote 200 different university presidents asking them to investigate a group called Students for Justice in Palestine, arguing it’s rhetorical support for Hamas. And Governor DeSantis, of the state of Florida, ordered the removal of support in state universities. That’s triggered an ACLU lawsuit.

Governor Polis, what are your thoughts on that?

JARED POLIS: So, Margaret, thank you, by the way, for drilling in on one of the most divisive topics we face today, because we can disagree better about Israel and Palestinian, we can disagree better about everything. And this is a great example and lens to view it through.

Part of what the goal is, is to get people to stop shouting at one another. Whatever the issue is. Whether it’s – whether it’s abortion, whether it’s Israel/Palestinian, whether it’s the border and immigration, stop shouting, start talking and listening. And that’s the same with this issue, right?

So, there are a lot of people shouting at one another. Now, that’s their right. As long as they don’t engage in violence or intimidation, that’s their right. But I think everybody can have a more productive conversation if we try to get in the same room.

What is a post-October 6th Gaza looks like? Who governors it? How can we have security commitments to the Palestinian people, the Israeli people. I think almost everybody who’s pro-Israeli cares deeply about the Palestinian people. A vast majority of people that are pro-independent Palestine do believe that there should be a Jewish state and the Jews have some role of being in Israel. So, how do we have these conversations rather than shouting past one another over what is absolutely one of the most divisive issues of our time, both on campuses and in the broader community.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we’ll see where that specific lawsuit goes.

On – you brought up the border. That’s certainly also – I’m challenging the premise and I want – I want more civility, but tell me how to do it on some of these things because I know the president was just in Colorado this past week. You are concerned in your state about the spike in migration. I understand you have also bussed migrants to some cities in New York and Chicago, which earned you some harshly worded letters from those mayors there.

How is that different from what Governor Abbott was doing in Texas? And how do you get along better with your fellow governors on this one?

JARED POLIS: Yes, again, happy to discuss it on policy. Our role in Colorado was helping people get where they want go. We’re just north of Texas. People come up through and, obviously, we’re not going to detain them in Colorado. We’ve had about 2,000 or 3,000 Venezuelan refugees that have settled in our state. We’ve had tens of thousands that have moved on to – to where they’re going.

But, again, I think you start with, how do we have a conversation about better security at the border? Democrats want that. Republicans want that. President Biden has proposed it. I hope that Congress acts and actually funds better border security.

Now, the flip side is, it’s not easy. It’s not a sound bite. It’s not a flashy wall.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

JARED POLIS: It’s a thoughtful, high-tech approach to border security, asylum reforms and immigration reform generally. There’s a lot of common ground.

In fact, with Governor Cox we’ve been able to successfully start through the National Governor’s Association an immigration task force of governors, six Democrats, six Republicans. We are agreeing on principles around border security and immigration reform that will hopefully serve as an example for Congress.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor Cox, quickly, has – have you got a response to some of those proposals from Congress?

SPENCER COX: Yes, we’ll be putting those out shortly, putting those out publicly. But that’s – this is the perfect example. Again, a very divisive issue. We put Republicans and Democrats in a room together and we start hashing it out. It doesn’t – this is not about agreeing on everything, it’s not about being nicer to each other, although we certainly need that, it really is about disagreeing if productive ways and finding be common ground.

We found an immense amount of common ground. We’re still working through some of the – some of the details, but it’s getting very close.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll watch for that.

Governors, thank you for disagreeing better. We appreciate it.

SPENCER COX: Thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we’ll be back in a moment.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: The CDC announced Friday the number of respiratory illness cases is increasing across most areas of the country. That’s RSV, Covid, flu. So, we go now to former FDA commissioner, and Pfizer board member, Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

Dr. Gottlieb, thanks for coming back.

What should we be bracing for this season?

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB (Former FDA Commissioner): Yes, we’re probably looking at a more typical winter pathogen season than what we’ve seen in past years. There was a very dense epidemic of respiratory syncytial virus, as you noted at the top, in the south. That’s now abating. We’re seeing it spread to the northeast right now and other parts of the country. That’s an infection that affects little children particularly hard and older adults. Thankfully, there’s some treatments available and some ways to protect infants that people can take advantage of this year.

With respect to flu, flu has started later than it did last year. It’s predominantly flu a. The vaccine does appear to cover it well. And the vaccination rates have been quite good this year, about 38 percent of adults and children have been vaccinated for flu. There’s no reason to believe that we’re going to have a worse flu season than what we’ve seen in past years and probably hopefully less than what we saw last year where we saw a very dense and early epidemic of flu.

With Covid, cases right now are less than what they were last year at this point of time. We’re averaging about 600,000 cases day based on some modeling work that has been done off of waste water. And the predominant strain that’s increasing in prevalence is the Ba.2.86 strain, the one we talked about a couple of months ago that spread through parts of Europe. And a particular variant of that called JN.1 (ph) that does appear to spread more easily. There’s no reason to believe that it’s more dangerous than previous strains of Covid. And people who have been vaccinated with the new variant vaccine or who had a recent Covid infection should have some protection against this new variant.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But we’ve seen these clusters of this unusual pneumonia in the state of Ohio. There’s some reports in Massachusetts. In Ohio, 145 cases in children ages three to 14 years.

What’s making these kids sick in these clusters?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yes, when CDC has looked inside these clusters, what they’re seeing is typical pathogens. So, adenovirus, strep, pneumonia and mycoplasma pneumonia. And mycoplasma pneumonia is the one that a lot of people have their eye on. It caused very dense outbreaks in parts of Europe. It’s also what’s responsible in part for the outbreak that we saw in China affecting children. It’s a known bacteria that is epidemic every three to five years. So, we’ve seen epidemics of this in the past. We haven’t seen an epidemic wave since Covid first broke out. So, in some respects, we’re due for it. A lot of children don’t have immunity to it. They haven’t – they haven’t experienced a mycoplasma pneumonia infection.

For most people it’s a mild illness. It’s self-limiting, but it can cause a chronic cough and you need to be alert for it. Some children will get into trouble with it. They will become more sick. They’ll develop fevers, rashes, a persistent cough, and doctors need to be alert because the typical antibiotics that we use to treat usual strains of pneumonia don’t work with mycoplasma. You need particular kinds of drugs called macrolides. Drugs like azithromycin or clarithromycin, which are both available as generic drugs. So, doctors need to be looking for it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Parents are taking notes on that one.

You mentioned China. There were, including me, Republican senators, including Marco Rubio, sent a letter this week. And he’s, you know, ranking on Intelligence Committee, someone who when he speaks people listen to. He says, “a ban on travel could save our country from death, lockdowns, mandates and further outbreaks.” Is that appropriate?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, I think right now we have more information about what is spreading in China. And it does appear to be more usual strains of illness. So, there’s no reason to believe that there’s something novel spreading there.

I think at the outset of that outbreak in China, when the reports first surfaced, we didn’t have a lot of information. The World Health Organization expressed frustration that China wasn’t being forthcoming. And it’s more of the same. I mean China needs to – the Chinese government needs to be more forthcoming when these things do arise so that they can help inform other countries because inevitably what’s spreading there is going to spread in other parts of the world and we all need to be working together. So, I think some of the initial concerns that something novel could be spreading in China were well founded because China just wasn’t being forthcoming, the Chinese government.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the CDC director said something similar to you, that this is not a new or novel pathogen. How can the U.S. be confident if like you’re saying China’s not sharing info?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yes, I think we’ve learned that we need to have more active surveillance. So, you still see testing of wastewater on planes coming out of certain parts of the world. Hopefully including China. That’s one good way to defect if something novel is spreading there. We have good flu surveillance in that part of the world as well. So, if there was a novel strain of flu spreading, I think we would detect it.

But the reality is that we’re subject to the cooperation of foreign governments. And foreign governments need to be working with global health authorities. We should have learned our lessons coming out of Covid.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: A lot of nations did and do share more readily. China does not still. And that is a real frustration and a cause for concern.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Dr. Gottlieb, always good to have your analysis.

We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Last week saw the departures of several well-known public servants. Their careers range from highly distinguished, to controversial, to disastrous.

Here’s Mark Strassmann.

(BEGIN VT)

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): In light of the expulsion of the gentleman from New York, Mr. Santos, the whole number of the House is now 434.

MARK STRASSMANN (voice over): George Santos, ex-congressman, ex, as in expelled. That part of his resume is real.

His parting shot reportedly as he left the Capitol, to hell with this place.

Over time he had become self-parody. His serial (ph) gift, his federal indictment for fraud, the way he piled one fiction on another seeming to breathe on someone else’s dime.

GEORGE SANTOS (Former Member of Congress from New York): I no longer have to answer a single question from you guys.

ROSALYNN CARTER (Former First Lady): The next president of the United States, my husband, Jimmy Carter.

MARK STRASSMANN (voice over): Rosalynn Carter put the public in her service. Unelected but undeniable, Jimmy Carter’s first lady was powerful.

ROSALYNN CARTER: He always knew how I felt. Sometimes he took my advice and sometimes he didn’t.

MARK STRASSMANN (voice over): In her long life she championed mental health, women’s rights and caregivers. Three former presidents and all five living first ladies saluted her last week. Mrs. Carter eulogized as a servant leader with a servant’s heart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had more leaders that kept that covenant and served well.

MARK STRASSMANN (voice over): Sandra Day O’Connor died last Friday at 93. The Stanford law grad was initially offered jobs as a legal secretary. She became famous and powerful, the first female Supreme Court justice. Its nickname during her tenure, the O’Connor court.

SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR (Former Supreme Court Justice): Opportunities at every level, not just for lawyers and judges, but across the spectrum opened for women.

MARK STRASSMANN (voice over): O’Connor was considered a swing vote on issues like abortion. She disputed her role as the deciding vote in George Bush’s victory in the 2000 election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were the deciding vote in that case when it comes down to it.

SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: I don’t see how you can say anybody was the deciding vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, OK.

SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: They all counted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They all counted.

SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have no regrets I could say (ph)?

SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: No. I mean it was a tough deal in a closely fought election. And it’s no fun to be part of a group of decision makers that has to decide which side the ball is going to fall on.

MARK STRASSMANN (voice over): And Henry Kissinger. In modern times, no American diplomat was more powerful or polarizing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With us now, Henry Kissinger, who was national security adviser to President Nixon.

MARK STRASSMANN (voice over): A guest on “FACE THE NATION” more than 20 times, here in 1985, ten years after the U.S. withdraw from Vietnam.

HENRY KISSINGER (National Security Adviser to President Nixon): The Kennedy and Johnson administrations took on a task that was greater than they estimated.

MARK STRASSMANN (voice over): Celebrated for Nixon’s trip to China and vilified for the secret carpet bombing of Cambodia. He both won the Nobel Peace Prize and was pilloried as a war criminal.

Right to his death at 100, Kissinger tried to shape U.S. policy to advance American interests. His admirers hope he rests in peace with honor.

(END VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you can check out those FACE THE NATION appearances on our YouTube channel.

Thank you all for watching. Until next week, I’m Margaret Brennan.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)



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