Full transcript of “Face the Nation,” March 26, 2023
On this “Face the Nation” broadcast, moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Rep. Tony Gonzales, Republican of Texas
- Sen. Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia
- National Security Council spokesperon John Kirby
- Rikki Klieman, Bill Bratton and Robert Costa
- Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan in Washington
And this week on Face the Nation: devastating tornadoes in the South.
And former President Trump takes his grievances public in his first big campaign rally of the year.
More than a dozen tornadoes reportedly tore through parts of Mississippi and Alabama this weekend, leaving death and destruction along a 100-mile- wide path. We will have the latest.
Last night, the former president rallied thousands of supporters in Waco, Texas, with his latest line of attack.
DONALD TRUMP (Former President of the United States): The new weapon being used by out-of-control, unhinged Democrats to cheat on election is criminally investigating a candidate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: As he and the rest of the political world await action from a Manhattan grand jury in the case related to alleged hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.
We will have new information that case and the bigger investigation going on in Washington, where a judge is compelling some key allies of Mr. Trump to testify before a grand jury.
We will also look at Mr. Trump’s increasingly threatening tone and the growing concerns over violence related to his legal troubles.
REPRESENTATIVE HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-New York): The twice-impeach former president’s rhetoric is reckless, reprehensible and irresponsible. It’s dangerous, and, if he keeps it up, he’s going to get someone killed.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will talk with Texas Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales about that and the new developments on border security.
Plus, how do we keep the Chinese government from accessing Americans’ information through TikTok? Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner has a plan. We will ask him about it.
Biden administration National Security Council spokesman John Kirby will be with us following the repeated attacks by Iranian-backed forces on U.S. troops in Syria.
Finally, we will look at the renewed focus on the Federal Reserve with the head of Minneapolis Fed, Neel Kashkari.
It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.
Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.
We have got a lot of news to get to today, but we want to start with the devastating tornadoes in the South that are likely to continue through the weekend. There have been at least 26 fatalities reported, all but one in Mississippi. Plus, there are dozens of injuries. One massive storm tore through several towns in the Mississippi Delta, an area that’s among the poorest in the country.
That tornado’s path was reportedly a mile-wide and it lasted for more than an hour. President Biden declared a state of emergency today in Mississippi and vowed to deliver federal assistance as quickly as possible to impacted areas.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell will visit the area later today.
And the National Weather Service is predicting more severe weather in the South later today. There are already reports this morning of a tornado touching down in Georgia.
We find ourselves in somewhat the same position as we did last Sunday, waiting for developments in the Manhattan case against former President Trump. Last weekend, he said he would be arrested this past Tuesday. He was not, at least not yet.
Saturday, Mr. Trump put out a social media post and later told reporters that the case had been dropped. That’s not true. A source within the DA’s office tells us that grand jury proceedings are still ongoing.
Our Robert Costa has been covering this story. And he joins us now.
It’s good to have you here, Bob.
I know we’re going to have a lot of details on the Manhattan case. But you have got new information about the federal case against the president and his allies. This is the one led by special counsel Jack Smith. It’s a dual investigation.
So, let’s start with the part regarding January 6 itself. What have you learned?
ROBERT COSTA: Good to be with you, Margaret.
Based on our reporting, the special counsel is tightening his investigation around former President Trump when it comes to January 6, now compelling some of his top aides and allies to testify under oath about their private conversations with Trump. That means there’s no privilege, no executive privilege they can cite to try to block any kind of testimony on those issues.
We know the special counsel is looking into a possible conspiracy case against Trump and people around him about trying to block the congressional proceedings on January 6. We’re going to potentially hear now from Mark Meadows. Robert O’Brien, the former national security adviser, John Ratcliffe, the former the director of national intelligence.
And sources who are close to the grand jury also tells CBS News that they’re being asked, witnesses, about what kind of national security levers Trump was asking about in those final days.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Significant.
ROBERT COSTA: Highly significant.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And on the classified documents, the documents the former president was not handling properly, there was also a key decision by a judge this week.
What impact will it have?
ROBERT COSTA: It’s so rare for a judge to say to a lawyer, you now have to testify about your client in a criminal case.
Well, that happened in this classified records investigation of Trump being conducted by the special counsel, two investigations at once. Evan Corcoran, Trump’s lawyer in this case, now being told to come in, and he did come in for hours on Friday. And he didn’t just talk about his broad view. He had to share audio files, notes, details about all of his conversations with Trump about how Trump handled those federal requests about classified documents.
Think back to the Mar-a-Lago FBI search last summer. Corcoran was pressed about, what was Trump doing at that intense time? And that really gives the prosecutors a prism into what really happened.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, all of these legal developments are coming up against the rush towards the presidential race.
And, of course, former President Trump is running again. When he spoke last night in Waco, Texas, the former president didn’t mention that Manhattan district attorney case, which was surprising to some because of the social media posts that he had made showing himself with a baseball bat next to the DA’s picture, warning of death and destruction if he is prosecuted.
Does this kind of rhetoric impact at all how the party thinks of him? Is it helping him? Is it hurting him politically?
ROBERT COSTA: It depends on which part of the Republican Party you’re asking the question to.
Donors are alarmed. They see a possible indictment in New York. They see a possible obstruction case being mounted against Trump on the classified documents front. But when you look at his core supporters in the Republican Party, they are rallying to him in many respects, fueled by his grievances, these rallies.
And Trump’s allies tell CBS that he believes he’s newly confident now that he can push back the threat of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and try to solidify his coalition inside the GOP at this early stage.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s going to be a long race.
Bob, thank you very much for laying all of this out.
And we’re joined now by Texas Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales.
It’s great to have you here, Congressman, in-person.
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES (R-Texas): Yes, thank you for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to start the conversation we were just having here, because this is your home state of Texas where the former president spoke last night.
When he walked on stage, he played a recording made by some of those who are being prosecuted for attacking the Capitol on January 6. He also had footage seeming to glorify the attack that day. He’s calling for protests. He said things like “death and destruction” if he’s indicted.
I know you’ve supported him in the past. Do you support statements like this?
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Look, January 6 was a terrible day. We have to make sure that never happens again. I certainly was here at the Capitol keeping — keeping folks from — from getting on to the House floor.
But it was great to have President Trump back in Texas. And it was a reminder that Trump’s policies, President Trump’s policies, worked. And, right now, we’re in a time where Biden — Biden is failing us. And so, you know, I welcome any serious presidential candidate to come to Texas, see it firsthand. In particular, come see the border.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you had endorsed the former president back in November 2022. Do I understand what you just said means you’re also open to other candidates?
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: So I haven’t met with President Trump yet. I look forward to meeting with President Trump.
But, right now, I’m focused on securing this border.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: And I think that’s a key part to it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I just want to button this up, because I hear what you’re saying in terms of policy and substance.
But what the former President was talking about was not policy or substance. Don’t you see some danger from — from lionizing those who are being prosecuted for breaking the law…
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: … and attacking the place where you and other lawmakers work?
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Isn’t that part of it, something that must give you pause?
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: The rhetoric is absolutely out of control on both sides, on all sides.
But I would also see — I see President Trump, honestly, being attacked, being demonized on all these different fronts. You know, things that are happening to him in regards to the classified documentation, similar — similar things happen to President Biden, and you don’t see those things.
I think a lot of people are done with the political rhetoric. They want solutions. And whichever presidential candidate is going to bring real solutions to their lives is going to get their vote.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, I hear that you still support him.
It’s interesting, because you are such an independent voice within the Republican Party. I mean, you’ve stood apart from your party in a number of things on this program. You’ve taken stands.
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Sure.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You supported expansion of background checks. The Texas GOP censored you because of your support for gay marriage, a bold vote, other things regarding immigration.
But this is a line that you feel you can’t cross when it comes to criticizing what the former president did with lionizing January 6 attackers?
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Well, I spent 20 years in the Navy. I’m a retired Navy master chief. I’m always going to fight for what I believe is right.
And what I see right now is, people are fed up with the environment that is happening. They’re fed up with the rhetoric. They’re tired of inflation. They’re tired of the border crisis. They’re tired of the national security policy.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Sure.
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: And they want real action. And whoever delivers that for them is going to get their vote, whether that’s President Trump and — or anyone else.
So I think that’s the part people are missing out on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Including those who attacked law enforcement as they did on that day? That — that part has to bother you.
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Look, January 6 should never have happened.
And those that are — that — that have — found wrong for doing that, they need to be held to this — the highest standard. I absolutely agree with that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, they were singing last night as the walk-on song for the former president of the United States; 17 of the 20 inmates held in that jail…
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Sure.
MARGARET BRENNAN: … were accused of assaulting law enforcement.
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Yes, look, there…
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s the walk-on song.
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: There is — there is no room for anyone that assaults law enforcement, right, similar to what happened in — in Oregon or anywhere else throughout our country.
We have to absolutely be — surround our law enforcement and ensure — they have the toughest job right now. You have to get it right every single time.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: So, now’s not the time to attack law enforcement.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
Well, let’s talk about the border and law enforcement there. In your district Friday, there was this horrific case of these two migrants found dead, others suffocating to death in this train. Secretary Mayorkas blamed smugglers. Do you have any idea where these migrants are coming from and how they passed undetected?
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Yes, Margaret, sadly, this isn’t a new issue for any of us that live in Texas’ 23rd District.
So, Knippa, happens all the time. Hondo is another city where this happens regularly, Uvalde, Eagle Pass. This has been ongoing for a couple of years now. Just last week, just last week in Ozona, Texas, small little town out in West Texas…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: … there was a smuggler that came through town and killed — that killed a woman, a grandmother and her granddaughter. So, every day, someone is dying.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So what’s the bipartisan effort to deal with this issue at the border? Republicans still haven’t put forward their proposal with a budget.
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Sure.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What is it you’re asking for?
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: I’m asking for a border package that focuses on securing the border and an immigration package that focuses on legal immigration.
Both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party often get it wrong when they focus on illegal immigration. And I’m going to do everything in my power, whether it’s to buck my own party or buck the other party, to be able to say, we have to have real tangible solutions. H.R.29 is a prime example, this Border Safety and Security Act.
It does anything but secure the border. So guess what? That bill in particular, it’s dead.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: There’s no way it’s going to get on the floor. I’m going to do everything in my power to prevent that, because, in my district…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: .. people are dying. And we need real solutions, not political rhetoric.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, talking about political rhetoric, you’ve said this, that there are people who have interest in making this crisis flare up.
Dan Crenshaw recently urged the Biden Administration to initiate military action against cartels. James Comer said President Trump should have bombed drug labs. Lindsey Graham, senator from South Carolina, demanded U.S. forces destroy drug labs.
None of that sounds serious. That’s — that’s the Republican policy option that deals with the things you say are important.
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: I spent 20 years in the Navy. I spent five years in Iraq and Afghanistan. I fought in two wars. I know what war looks like. I hate war, I want to prevent war.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And not bomb drug labs?
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: And not — and not — and not do these things.
But part of it is rolling up your sleeves and going to work. Just last week, I gave Senator John Cornyn a lot of credit. He put together this congressional delegation, 12 members, six Republicans, five Democrats and an independent. We traveled to Mexico City last week — last weekend.
We met with the president of Mexico, and we had a four-hour dialogue, four- hour discussion. That is how you solve problems. Now, I look at it that’s the State Department’s job. And the State Department isn’t doing their job.
But Congress can’t just point fingers. We can’t just please blame.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: We are an equal body, and we got to roll up our sleeves and find solutions.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll stay tuned and stay in touch with you on that, look for those solutions.
Congressman, thank you for coming in today.
REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Thank you, Margaret, yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Senator Mark Warner, the Democratic Chairman of the Intelligence Committee. He joins us from King George, Virginia.
Good morning to you, Senator.
SENATOR MARK WARNER (D-Virginia): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It was a pretty intense five hours of questioning of TikTok’s CEO this past week.
Your bipartisan bill has White House support, and it would deal with TikTok by giving the Commerce Department power to review and potentially ban technology flagged by U.S. intelligence as a credible threat.
Will it pass in a divided Congress?
SENATOR MARK WARNER: We’re now up to 22 Senators, 11 Democrats, 11 Republicans.
We’ve had strong interest from the House. I think they wanted to get through their hearing. And, clearly, while I appreciated Mr. Chew’s testimony, he just couldn’t answer the basic question. At the end of the day, TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance. And by Chinese law, that company has to be willing to turn over data to the Communist Party.
Or one of my bigger fears, we got 150 million Americans on TikTok, average of about 90 minutes a day, and how that channel could be used for propaganda purposes…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
SENATOR MARK WARNER: … or mis or dis-information advocated by the Communist Party.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But has the White House made clear to you that they want this bill to pass and do intend to ban it? Or is a forced sale more likely?
SENATOR MARK WARNER: Well, I think the White House is very in favor of this bill.
We give the secretary of commerce the tools to ban, to force a sale, other tools. And, end of the day, one of the things that may lead to a ban is, the Chinese Communist Party has said they felt like the algorithm, the source code that resides in Beijing, is so important that they’d rather see a ban than give that source code up to be placed in a third country, which, again, I think speaks volumes about the potential threat that this application poses.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the commerce secretary, though, recently said that the politician in her thinks a ban will mean losing every voter under 35 forever.
And if you look at use of TikTok, I mean, just last week, President Biden showed up in celebrity videos on TikTok from the White House. Plenty of lawmakers, including your Democratic colleague Senator Cory Booker, use it. A number of House progressives use it.
Given how important this platform is to Democrats, can you actually get TikTok taken care of before 2024, when you might need it for political outreach?
SENATOR MARK WARNER: Well, Margaret, I think there’s a lot of creative activity that goes on, on TikTok, but I absolutely believe that the market — if TikTok goes away, the market will provide another platform.
And, at the end of the day, that could be an American company. It could be a Brazilian company. It could be an Indian company. All those companies operate within a set of rule of law.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, but the commerce secretary is saying there’s a political cost if it goes away. And that’s what she fears.
SENATOR MARK WARNER: I think…
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you’re empowering her.
SENATOR MARK WARNER: Listen, I have met with — I have met — I have met with Gina Raimondo on this issue.
I think she will make very clear that she believes TikTok is a threat as well. And, listen, if, at the end of the day, you could end up with a forced sale, and that forced sale also makes sure that the core algorithm, the source code, resides someplace different than China, that could be an outcome that would be successful as well.
At the end of the day, you cannot have American data collected, nor can you have the ability for the Communist Party to use TikTok as a propaganda tool.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Sixty percent of the company is owned by other investors, including U.S. firms.
So is this a policy that you really need to address with Americans to stop them from investing in companies like this?
SENATOR MARK WARNER: Well, that’s one of the reasons why I think our approach, the RESTRICT Act, says, rather than dealing with TikTok in a one- off fashion, or, a few years back, it was Huawei, the Chinese telecom provider, or years earlier, the Russian software company Kaspersky.
We need to have a set of tools, rules-based, so they can stand up in court — TikTok would still did its day in court, even under our law — that says, if there’s a foreign technology from a place like China and Russia, and it poses a national security threat. And one of the things we also require is that the intelligence community has to declassify as much of this information as possible.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
SENATOR MARK WARNER: So it’s not simply like, hey, trust the government. We got to make the case.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you, since you sit on the Senate Banking Committee, about this rolling turmoil that we are in.
Do you think there needs to be more regulation of midsize banks now?
SENATOR MARK WARNER: If it ends up that a stress test that would have been applied to these midsize banks would have spotted this, of course, I would add additional regulation.
I think, though, what it appears to me is, two things happened. One, basic banking regulation, if this has been only a $5 billion bank, not a $200 billion bank, should have spotted the fact that this management and the regulators missed basic banking 101, the interest rate mismatch.
And, two, one of the things that I think we also have to look at is, this was the first time we’ve had an Internet-based run. There was literally $42 billion…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
SENATOR MARK WARNER: … taken out of this bank in six hours. That’s the equivalent of 25 cents on the dollar.
And I would like to know why some of the venture capitalists spurred this run in the first place.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Interesting topic.
I want to ask you, though, as well, about your relationship with SVB Bank and political donations. You received $21,600 from their political action committee, nearly six grand from its CEO.
Do you feel any pressure to give those funds away? Is there a point to it?
SENATOR MARK WARNER: We’re going to hear the facts on Tuesday. And if there’s malfeasance at the bank, of course, I’m going to give the money back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
Senator, before I let you know — go, I want to just follow up on what you shared with us when we spoke back in January, when you were very frustrated that the administration wasn’t sharing more information about the classified materials improperly held by the current president when he was out of office and the former president.
SENATOR MARK WARNER: Mm-hmm.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’ve been briefed. Any more clarity on this? Any further information?
SENATOR MARK WARNER: We need more information about these documents.
And, more importantly, we need to make sure that what the intel community has done to mitigate the harm. And we’re still in conversations with the Justice Department. The administration’s position does not — does not pass the smell test. We’ve got a job, not to go into the legal ramifications, but to make sure that the intelligence community has done what’s right.
And we’ve got some additional tools. We can restrict some of the spending. We’re in active conversations with the Justice Department. But we’ve got to get those documents.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Senator Warner, thank you for your time today.
Face the Nation will be back in a minute. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re back now with White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
Good to have you here. A lot to talk to you.
I want to start right where Senator Warner left off.
Does the White House want to share more information about these classified materials? He says it doesn’t pass the smell test.
JOHN KIRBY (NSC Coordinator For Strategic Communications): We’re fully cooperating with the Justice Department on the — on this ongoing investigation, Margaret.
That’s got to be the focus, making sure that we preserve that process. And so that’s what we’re doing. And, of course, at the appropriate time and in the appropriate setting, we certainly understand the desire by members of Congress to know more, to see more.
But we have got to make sure that we’re in full cooperation with the Justice Department on this right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: As for what Senator Warner was laying out there, and giving the White House the tools to make a call on TikTok, this has been going on for years now…
JOHN KIRBY: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: … the review of whether to allow it.
If it’s a national security threat, doesn’t there need to be swift action, rather than more debate?
JOHN KIRBY: Well, there’s an ongoing, as you know, and — review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Three years now.
JOHN KIRBY: Ongoing review. We — it’s an independent review. We want to respect that process.
But, look, in the meantime, the president’s already said, we absolutely have national security concerns about that application, and he’s banned it from government devices. We don’t want to get ahead of this review. We have endorsed the RESTRICT Act, pending legislation. We’d love to see that passed by the Congress, so that the president can have additional tools and authorities.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We showed a video in that last segment of the president on TikTok from the video shot by a celebrity inside the White House.
So, for the 150 million Americans who still use this app, how do you say to them, sorry, we’re going to take it away?
JOHN KIRBY: It’s not on government…
MARGARET BRENNAN: It looks hyper-critical — hypocritical.
JOHN KIRBY: It’s not — it’s not on government devices. We do have legitimate national security concerns.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Filmed on government property.
JOHN KIRBY: We have legitimate national concern — security concerns over TikTok.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s a useful political platform.
JOHN KIRBY: I just would tell you that, again…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
JOHN KIRBY: … our concerns on the national security front are valid. We have banned it on all government devices.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
JOHN KIRBY: We got to get through this CFIUS review to see what the outcome is there before we — before we move ahead.
In the meantime, again, the president welcomes…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
JOHN KIRBY: … congressional action on the RESTRICT Act.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will — we will see when it moves and what — what the action will be, ban or for sale.
Let’s take a break. I want to talk to you about Syria and Iran in a moment.
JOHN KIRBY: OK.
MARGARET BRENNAN: If you miss an episode of Face the Nation, you can listen to our podcast. Find us on Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.
We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation, so stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.
We return to our conversation with National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby.
I want to ask you about what has been happening in Syria with these attacks on U.S. forces there. We had this deadly attack on Thursday by these Iran aligned groups, a U.S. retaliation, and then three other known attacks on U.S. positions. President Biden said he would act if U.S. troops were under fire. Is the U.S. going to retaliate?
JOHN KIRBY (National Security Council Spokesman): We have acted with U.S. troops under fire. First of all, our condolences –
MARGARET BRENNAN: On Thursday.
JOHN KIRBY: Our condolences to the family of the U.S. contractor, U.S. citizen, who was killed. That’s devastating news that no family wants to ever get. And we certainly grieve with them. And we’re, obviously, hoping for a speedy recovery for those who are still suffering from the wounds.
But this was a – this was a serious attack by these militant groups and the president retaliated swiftly and boldly and significantly to deal with that.
You’re right, there were some follow-up response from —
MARGARET BRENNAN: At least three.
JOHN KIRBY: At least three from these militant groups. Not a lot of damage caused, although the one – one service member was injured.
So, we’re going to see where this goes. But the president, in Ottawa, made it very clear that we’re going to always act to defend our troops and our facilities.
And here’s what’s not going to change, Margaret, the mission and ISIS is not going to change. We have under 1,000 troops in Syria that are going after that network, which is, while greatly diminished, still viable and still critical. So we’re going to stay at that task.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The president is committed to keeping those 900 or so troops in Syria?
JOHN KIRBY: That’s right. Absolutely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The head of Central Command testified earlier in the week, there have been 78 attacks by Iran-backed groups against Americans since 2021. That was before these recent strikes. They don’t appear to be deterred by these verbal threats or even the retaliation.
JOHN KIRBY: That’s why, again, the president acted so swiftly and boldly here in this particular case. And I certainly am not going to rule out the potential for additional U.S. action if the president deems it appropriate and necessary to continue to protect our troops and our facilities. We’re going to keep at that.
And that message is send loud and clear. Now, again, the – these Iran- backed militant groups, that they’re going to have decisions that they’re going to have to make, they need to know, and we demonstrated it here this week, that the United States will always act decisively to protect our people.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But to cause American fatality, did this Iran – Iranian- backed group know that parts of the radar defense system were not fully operational at the time they carried out that drone attack?
JOHN KIRBY: We’ve seen no indication that they – that they had that kind of a – that kind of knowledge. And, in the past, on some of these other attacks, I mean they have used similar capabilities to go after our troops and our facilities there in Syria. So, there’s no indication that they would have had knowledge of that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Vladimir Putin said yesterday that Russia struck a deal with Belarus to station tactical nuclear weapons on its territories by July 1st and then by about April 3rd he says they’re transferring ballistic missile systems and beginning training.
Is he serious? Is this just more saber rattling?
JOHN KIRBY: We’re just going to have to watch and see where this one goes, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: No movement so far?
JOHN KIRBY: The – the – we have not seen any indication that he’s made good on this pledge or moved any nuclear weapons around. We’ve, in fact, seen no indication that he has any intention to use nuclear weapons period inside Ukraine.
Obviously, we would agree that no nuclear war should be fought. No nuclear war could be won. And clearly that would cross – cross a major threshold.
I would also tell you that as we monitor this, and we monitor it every day, you have to with the rhetoric out of Moscow, and with rhetoric that’s been coming out since the beginning of the war that we’ve seen no — nothing that would cause us to change our own strategic, deterrent posture.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why would he do this now?
JOHN KIRBY: You’d have to ask Mr. Putin. I can’t speak to that.
I think in some of the Russian media reports they linked it to claims that that United Kingdom was going to provide depleted uranium rounds. There is no radioactive threat from depleted uranium rounds. They’re common on the battlefield. Even Russia uses similar rounds. So, if that is, in fact, the justification, it’s a stake through a strawman. There’s no radioactive concerns with that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Here in the United States, Taiwan’s president is scheduled to begin a visit later this week in New York and then next week out in California. Republican lawmakers will visit with her. Has the White House ask Democrats not to do so?
JOHN KIRBY: There’s been no request by the White House to Democrats not to meet with President Tsai. Members of Congress have every right to manage their agenda and their meeting schedule as they seem fit.
I think it’s important to remember what this is. This is a transit. They’re normal. She’s done six before.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s a long transit.
JOHN KIRBY: She’s done six before.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Tension with China has never been this high.
JOHN KIRBY: They’re – they’re — we – and, look, we understand that. And the president has said clearly he believes it’s important to keep the lines of communication with China open. He wants to have another conversation with President Xi. We’ll move in the direction.
But these transits are normal, particularly for this particular president.
MARGARET BRENNAN: No date for that call with President Xi yet?
JOHN KIRBY: No date for that call.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you so much for joining us here.
JOHN KIRBY: My pleasure. You bet.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We now return to former President Trump’s legal problems in that Manhattan case being prosecuted by District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
We’re joined once again by our Robert Costa and joining us remotely our CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman, along with former New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who also happens to be Rikki’s husband, in full disclosure. They are both in Naples, Florida, and we’re so glad that they can join us together because I do want to start on the legal and security aspects of this case.
Rikki, last night the former president told reporters he thinks the case against him has been dropped. We’ve seen no evidence to back that up.
What is reality about what to expect in the coming days from this grand jury?
RIKKI KLIEMAN: From all of the information that we have, the grand jury is set to meet, as usual, on Monday. The grand jury usually sits Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. We do not know if they are done with their evidence yet. But when they finish, we assume that Alvin Bragg’s office will come to them with a draft indictment, at which point he will put forward the charges that he intends to prosecute. The district attorney, or his people, are excused from the room. The grand jurors deliberate. It takes a vote of 12 out of 23 grand jurors to return an indictment. It could happen as early as this week.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It could happen.
Commissioner, the Manhattan district attorney, in the past few days, has already received threats. The former president, besides the rhetoric that he has issued, reposting images of himself with a baseball bat, he’s vowed death and destruction, we also had this example of a white powder being sent to the office of the district attorney.
Can you just give us a snapshot of the threat level right now?
BILL BRATTON (Former NYC Police Commissioner): Well, as you might expect, the threats that are being made by the former president, which are unfortunate, law enforcement officials will be responding accordingly in the sense of ramping up security certainly around the district attorney and others affiliated with this case. The district attorney is normally provided with New York City police protection. That protection has, in fact, been expanded. There is significant protection around that courthouse, in that courthouse, if, in fact, that is the courthouse that is going to be used for an arraignment if there is an indictment. Law enforcement is monitoring social media very closely and will respond, as they always will, with speed and intensity to any threats made against any of the individuals in this case.
MARGARET BRENNAN: If there is an indictment, Commissioner, how — can you walk us through what an arrest of a former president looks like? I mean this seems unprecedented. Will anyone even be handcuffing him, for example?
BILL BRATTON: If there are handcuffs, the president is going to have to bring them himself. I don’t imagine that the court officials will require handcuffs to be placed on the former president. That’s a policy decision. It’s thought that the president would like to have that photo, but I don’t think the officials in New York are going to provide that opportunity.
If there’s an indictment or indictments, the president will be required to surrender some place in Manhattan at one of the courthouses where he would be basically fingerprinted electronically, photographed, and basically given a booking number, if you will, at which time he would then be taken before a judge to be arraigned on the charges contained in the indictment.
The way it works is the, if you will, the booking would be supervised by people from Alvin Bragg’s office. The New York police are there for security purposes. Secret Service would be there every step of the way, as they are required to do to protect the president.
So, the process is being negotiated as to where and how it will be done. It’s an exceptional process, as you might expect, for this particular case, for this particular individual.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Exceptional is certainly the word.
Rikki, you know, past Manhattan district attorneys have chosen not to move forward with this case. There have been questions about the legal theory that part of it, at least, is based on. If the indictment happens, do we know what the charges would be, and what is the likelihood it goes to trial?
RIKKI KLIEMAN: We do not yet know what charges will be, but we certainly have a very good idea of what some of them will be. And we have that idea not only because of Michael Cohen speaking outside to the press after he has testified. But we also know that the district attorney’s office has spoken with Stormy Daniels. And we also know that from Joe Tacopina, the president — former president’s lawyer, as what they expect, as I say, some of the charges to be, because there may be additional charges. And what the charge that is expected has to do with the hush money payment that was made by Michael Cohen, he says at the behest of Mr. Trump, in order to buy her silence, in order to have it not come out on the eve of the 2016 election.
The difficulties with this case, and no one would say this case is easy, is that you take misdemeanor charges for falsifying business records, because the payments, back to Michael Cohen, are written off as legal fees against retainer. You take those as falsifying business records, you couple them with a federal election violation in order to up the misdemeanor to a felony. That’s a unique theory. It is novel. It has not been tested before. But Alvin Bragg certainly feels that it will pass muster under the law.
Ultimately, will the case go to trial? I believe so, if there is an indictment. Will the case be won while a jury in Manhattan may want to convict Donald Trump on the evidence presented, the question may be for a judge as to whether or not the facts constitute a crime under the laws of New York.
Keep in mind one other thing, Margaret, this may not be the only charge. There may be tax evasion charges. There may be other kinds of charges that have been looked at by Mr. Bragg’s predecessor, which had to do with inflation and deflation of property values that are currently being looked at in a civil case by the New York attorney general. So, we don’t ultimately know what the final charges will be, if there is an indictment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: If.
Commissioner Bratton, the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, is a Democrat. Mr. Trump has really taken aim at that fact and his record on crime. What should people at home know about Bragg? Is he an effective district attorney?
BILL BRATTON: Bragg has been controversial since his election relative to the issues of crime in New York City, particularly in Manhattan, his jurisdiction. Crime has gone up. Recently shootings and murders are down. But, overall, crime is continuing to go up.
So, his effectiveness, his progressive policies have been very much under debate in terms of people in New York City. I’m somebody who has criticized very frequently his actions or inactions relative to that crime situation. But we need to take that and separate it from this current situation, this current case. They are two separate issues entirely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Commissioner and Rikki, thank you for your analysis.
I want to ask Bob Costa, who’s here in studio with me, about the reporting you have gathered on this case. Is it all about Michael Cohen?
ROBERT COSTA: It is not all about Michael Cohen. After being outside the Manhattan criminal court all week, it’s clear, based on our conversations with sources, that the district attorney has documents in his possession that would be central to any case he eventually decides to mount, should it move in that direction, that it’s not just about Michael Cohen’s testimony. So often we hear about this case, and we hear Michael Cohen’s testimony would be the keystone for any sort of prosecution. It would certainly be critical but not the only component.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do we have any details about what might be in those records?
ROBERT COSTA: To build on Rikki’s point, we are hearing there are business records, e-mails, financial records, that the district attorney has compiled, that this is not just about bringing in Michael Cohen and Bob Costello, though we do wonder at this point who else is going to come in this week potentially. We spoke to Bob Costello, the final witness potentially, last night, and he told CBS News he does not expect to be called this week.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Bob Costa, we’ll continue to follow this story.
And we’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Neel Kashkari, who joins us this morning from Minnesota.
Good morning to you.
NEEL KASHKARI (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How stable is the U.S. banking system right now from your perspective, and are you confident that the risk level we saw out in California and in New York, with these failed banks, doesn’t exist elsewhere in the country?
NEEL KASHKARI: The banking system is resilient and it’s sound. The banking system has a strong capital position and a lot of liquidity and has the full support of the Federal Reserve and other regulators standing behind it. Now, I’m not saying that all of the stresses are behind us. I expect this process will take some time. But, fundamentally, the banking system is sound.
MARGARET BRENNAN: This process, what do you mean by that?
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, when tensions flare up in the banking system and stresses emerge, we often hope that they’ll be resolved very, very quickly. Sometimes it takes longer for all the stresses to work their way out of the system. So, we know that there are other banks that have some exposure to long-dated Treasury bonds, who have some duration risk, as they call it, on their books. We also know that commercial real estate, there are a lot of commercial real estate assets in the banking sector and there are some losses that will probably work its way through the banking sector. So, that process will take time to fully become clear. But, fundamentally, the banking system has a lot of capital to be able to withstand those pressures.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you mentioned commercial real estate because so many of these mid-sized banks are lenders in that space. So that could impact construction, in other words. This could have a real impact on the economy. Does it tip us towards recession?
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, it definitely brings us closer. Right now what’s unclear for us is how much of these banking stresses are leading to a widespread credit crunch, and then that credit crunch, you’re right, just as you said, would then slow down the economy. This is something we are monitoring very, very closely.
Now, on one hand, such strains could then bring down inflation. So, we have to do less work with the federal funds rate to bring the economy into balance. But right now it’s unclear how much of an imprint these banking stresses are going to have on the economy, but it’s something to watch very carefully, and that’s what we’re focused on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And Chairman Powell said as much this past week at the Federal Reserve, that that tightening in credit might be doing your work for you in terms of slowing down the economy. Does that mean it would make Neel Kashkari hit the brake on rate hikes at your next meeting?
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, we have to see. You know, right now the stresses are only a couple weeks old. There are some concerning signs. The positive sign is, deposit outflows seem to have slowed down. Some confidence is being restored among smaller and regional banks. At the same time, we’ve seen the capital markets have largely been closed for the past two weeks.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
NEEL KASHKARI: If those capital markets remain closed because borrowers and lenders remain nervous, then that would tell me, OK, this is probably going to have a bigger imprint on the economy. So, it’s too soon to make any forecasts about the next interest rate meeting that we have, the next FOMC meeting. But these are the factors that I’m going to be most focused on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, when it comes to confidence among Americans in the system right now, CBS News just recently did a poll and only 15 percent of people polled by us said they had a lot of confidence in the Federal Reserve’s ability to manage these bank issues.
Why should the public trust the Fed now when this risk to banks was missed out in San Francisco and New York and when the Fed was late to the game on catching up with inflation?
NEEL KASHKARI: You know, the Covid pandemic has thrown some curveballs at us that none of us have experienced in any of our lifetimes. And it has taken us time to catch up and figure out exactly where the economy is head. The interest rate risk that brought down Silicon Valley Bank is something that we’ve all been very focused on. We’ve been communicating it to banks all across the country for the last couple years that interest rates are going up and most banks have done a much better job of managing their risks in advance of those interest rates going up.
And so there is still uncertainty in the economy, there are still stresses. You have a group of people at the Federal Reserve who are totally committed to our mandates, to — committed to achieving the public service responsibilities that we have. And we are going to continue to let the data and the evidence guide us. And that is the best reassurance that I can give, is that a lot of – a group of people, are non-partisan, focused on doing their very best on behalf of the American economy and American households.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we’re about to see the first hearing on Capitol Hill this week about what just happened. But there were flashing warning signs out there at SVB Bank, the Silicon Valley Bank, in the months leading up to its failure. On this program, just earlier today, Senator Warner of Virginia, who’s on the Banking Committee, said the regulators missed basic banking 101, the interest rate mismatch. How could that risk have been so missed by the regulators at the Federal Reserve in Washington and in San Francisco?
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, I don’t know any specifics about the SVB case because they’re not regulated by the Minneapolis Fed. And I know Vice Chair Barr is conducting a rigorous review to understand exactly what happened.
It has been publicly reported that the Federal Reserve did take action specific to SVB to get them to address these exposures. I don’t know more than that. And I’m looking forward to Michael Barr’s review and his findings, which we’re all going to take very seriously.
I can tell you, at the Minneapolis Fed, we have conversations with our bank supervisors and then with the banks about these risks all the time. It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to make mistakes. It doesn’t mean that we are perfect. But I know, across the Federal Reserve, that bank supervisors have been focused on these very exposures since before the interest rates increases even began last year.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, just on this program last week, Senator Warren says she doesn’t have confidence in Mary Daly, the San Francisco Fed president. Do you?
NEEL KASHKARI: I do. I know Mary Daly exceptionally well. I’ve worked closely with her for the last several years. She’s an outstanding public servant committed to helping all of us fulfill our mission for the public.
Nonetheless, we have to look at the findings that Vice Chair Barr comes out with, take those findings very seriously and potentially make changes based on those findings.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
NEEL KASHKARI: But I know Mary Daly and all of my colleagues at the Federal Reserve are doing our very best.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you have experience in banking crises from your work back in — with TARP, the rescue program in 2008. I wonder what you think now. Do you think there needs to be more regulation? Should deposit insurance on accounts above $250,000 be raised? And should those rollbacks from 2018 be reinstated in terms of regulation of mid-sized banks?
NEEL KASHKARI: Well, we have fundamental issues, regulatory issues facing our banking system. I have argued for years that the biggest banks in the world are still too big to fail. This question is now beyond doubt. All right, the reason that deposits are flowing to the big bank, the reason that Credit Suisse was bailed out by the Swiss government is because banks have this premium position. And it’s unfair. It’s an unfair playing field that puts enormous pressure on regional banks and community banks. And that needs to be addressed.
We need regional banks in America. We need community banks in America. So, we have — once we get through this stress period, we have to come up with a regulatory system that both ensures the soundness of our banking system, but is also fair and even so that community banks and regional banks can thrive.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes. Yes.
NEEL KASHKARI: We do not have that today.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Neel Kashkari, I look forward to talking to you again about this. We’re going to have to leave it there.
And we’ll be back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s it for us today. Thank you all for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.