Full transcript of "Face the Nation," June 2, 2024


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

  • Preet Bharara, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York  
  • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum  
  • Scott Anderson, director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza  
  • Ret. Gen. Frank McKenzie 
  • Matt Pottinger, former deputy National Security Adviser  

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: With former President Trump now officially a convicted felon, how will that impact campaign 2024? Donald Trump was among the faithful when he dropped in on the Saturday night Ultimate Fighting Championship in New Jersey last night.

(Begin VT)

ANNOUNCER: Boy, the round of applause he’s getting right now is pretty staggering.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: But what do voters think of the Trump conviction outside the UFC?

We have got early reaction from across America, and we will tell you what’s ahead on the legal front.

(Begin VT)

DONALD TRUMP (Former President of the United States (R) and Current U.S. Presidential Candidate): So we’re going to be appealing this scam.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Plus, how’s the outcome of the case playing with the parties?

For Democrats, it’s a defense of the judicial system.

(Begin VT)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And it’s reckless, it’s dangerous, and it’s irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged just because they don’t like the verdict.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the Republican refrain? Attack it.

(Begin VT)

FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The Republican Party has really – they have stuck. They stick together in this. They see what’s – it’s weaponization of the Justice Department, of the FBI. And, you know, that’s all coming out of Washington.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: North Dakota Governor and Trump running mate contender Doug Burgum will be here. And we will talk with former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara.

Finally: The U.S. makes a major announcement, in hopes of pushing Israel to end the war with Hamas, as the Gaza humanitarian crisis continues to grow.

It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.

The seven-week New York criminal trial is over. Former President Donald Trump has been found guilty on all 34 charges against him. And he is now able to campaign freely until July 11, when he will be sentenced. That’s exactly four days before he is officially nominated at the party’s convention in Milwaukee.

As a felon, Trump cannot own a firearm or serve in a jury, but he can vote for himself, as he can run and be elected president. But we are clearly in uncharted territory, and it will be some time before we can fully see the impact of the conviction.

Our new CBS News poll finds that 57 percent of Americans think the jury reached the right verdict, with virtually the same share, 56 percent, saying he received a fair trial.

As more evidence of the partisan split in America, 96 percent of Democrats said the guilty verdict was the right one. So did 56 percent of independents. But eight in 10 Republicans say the verdict was the wrong one and that the trial was not fair.

Finally, half think that Trump is not fit to be president now that he’s convicted, with 40 percent saying he is and 8 percent unsure.

What you just heard Trump say about the case coming from Washington is not true. Charges in this case were brought by the Manhattan district attorney. It is a state case, which means an appeal would not automatically go to the Supreme Court.

For analysis and context, we want to bring in our chief campaign and elections correspondent Robert Costa, who covers Trump and the entire trial for us in New York, and our chief legal correspondent, Jan Crawford, who has been covering the Supreme Court for decades, but, Jan, nothing like this ever before.

Jan, can you help us to understand? Trump said he will try to appeal this conviction. What is the next step?

JAN CRAWFORD: Well, I mean, as he said, you know, this is a long way from over.

But there is, I think, zero chance this is going to be overturned before November. And the road ahead for Trump on appeal doesn’t look too good either. As for timing, he’s got 30 days to file what’s called a notice of appeal. That’s procedural. That could then start the process through the New York court state system, which could take over a year.

Now, you said, as you pointed out in the intro, his supporters have been kind of throwing around the Supreme Court, he can involve the Supreme Court, this. But you have to go through when you’re challenging a criminal conviction the state court system first. Then he would turn to try to get the Supreme Court to take the case by raising constitutional issues.

As for the appeal itself that he will try to file, the lawyers throughout the trial, I think, were laying the groundwork for possible issues from start to finish, I mean, starting with the venue in heavily Democratic New York, the indictment, the charges themselves, a pretty novel legal theory, bringing in federal election law to a state case.

He’s going to talk about the evidence that was allowed or not allowed. He could talk about the jury instructions and certain components of that, even attacking the impartiality of the judge himself. But that is a very tough road to hoe.

He’s got to show this is clear reversible error. That is very difficult to do on any kind of appeal. And so, I mean, that’s why people say, Bob, if you’re ever in trouble, spend your money on a good trial lawyer, because, once you get into the appeals process, the odds are not good, and not good for Donald Trump here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Bob, the political impact here, obviously, we’re in the early stages. But we know that Lara Trump, who is chair of the RNC, said on another network this morning they had raised $70 million in 48 hours.

Is this only helpful?

ROBERT COSTA: It’s helpful in terms of raising money, but, for former President Trump, there is still a logistical nightmare on the horizon.

When I spoke to his lawyer Todd Blanche, the – he didn’t rule out the possibility that Trump could be in jail during the Republican National Convention. When sentencing happens on July 11, there’s an expectation he could be put on probation.

But this was a tense trial. I was there for seven weeks. When you sat inside that court, at times, the judge cleared the courtroom because he was so frustrated with the defense and one of the witnesses that was being called. Trump violated the gag order multiple times.

So, Republicans, the top Republicans in this country, are privately telling me they’re not ruling out the possibility that Trump could be in prison when he accepts the nomination. There’s a real concern that some traditional Republicans, suburban Republicans, might look at someone being called a convicted felon and say, I really can’t go there, even as it motivates so many of Trump’s core supporters.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, Jan, I mean, from all the research we have done, it seems like legal experts do not believe that there will be jail time.

JAN CRAWFORD: No, not in this kind of case, not in this kind of case, first-time offender whose age…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that just a political talking point?

JAN CRAWFORD: I mean, I think it would be pretty shocking to most people who followed the New York court system that he would get jail time for this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm. And that’s not just because of Secret Service detail or who he is.

JAN CRAWFORD: No, it’s – if he’s treated like other defendants facing a similar charge, again, also because of his age, he’s – he would be a first-time offender.

And – and the charge itself is somewhat unusual, bringing in that federal election law.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

JAN CRAWFORD: So, typically, in these kind of cases, you would have other charges, fraud charges, that could then carry jail time. So that makes this case different as well. It’s just this one issue.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But he does now have a criminal record. And there are three other criminal cases.

Just to remind people, at – in the federal level, the special counsel has the two, one, related to national security and mishandling classified information, the other trying to change the outcome of the 2020 election. And then there’s the Georgia case as well.

When will the Supreme Court make a decision on whether Mr. Trump will face charges and trial ultimately for these federal cases?

JAN CRAWFORD: Well, of course, you know, Trump has said he’s absolutely immune from prosecution. He lost that argument in every court that has first considered it.

I think he’s going to lose that in the Supreme Court that he’s absolutely immune. But this court does seem to think, like, on the civil side, there may be some immunity. And so they’re working on that decision now. We expect it by the end of June. They have agreed to expedite this case.

This case, if it were on the normal course of business, would come sometime in the fall or winter. So, Jack Smith, the special counsel, asked for a decision sometime this term. He is going to get that. The question now is whether or not he will then have time, if this case has to go back to the lower court and kind of figure out what immunity Trump does have, whether he will have time to have a trial before November.

But I think this verdict does lessen the pressure on the Supreme Court and on Jack Smith to get that conviction. There is a conviction now already, and it’s not going to be overturned by November.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Interesting point.

Bob, quickly, our polling also shows 85 percent of Republicans feel loyalty to Trump is either very or somewhat important. How’s that impacting the campaign?

ROBERT COSTA: People close to former President Trump tell me that he is watching very closely. Who’s on television defending him? Who’s going out there and really speaking out and saying Trump did not deserve to be found guilty? Who is going to rally to his side at a crisis moment?

Inside the Trump campaign, this is seen a lot like the “Access Hollywood” moment in October 2016, which was involved, in a sense, with why this trial unfolded.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

ROBERT COSTA: And they’re saying, if you’re not out for Trump right now, good luck trying to get a spot in this administration should he win.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Great analysis and insight from both of you. Thank you.

And, Jan, you have got a busy June ahead of you.

JAN CRAWFORD: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will see more of you, I’m sure.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we turn now to former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, who endorsed Alvin Bragg, the district attorney of Manhattan, in his election. He also used to work with and actually hired Trump’s attorney in the case, Todd Blanche.

Good morning to you Preet.

PREET BHARARA (Former U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York): Good morning.

Just one quick correction. I didn’t hire Todd Blanche, but I did promote him twice. And I consider both Alvin Bragg and Todd Blanche to be friends of mine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And to be – he was Mr. Trump’s attorney in this trial.

So, what does having this criminal record now do for Donald Trump with these other three criminal cases?

PREET BHARARA: Oh.

Well, so that’s an interesting question. You know, there’s a lot of speculation about whether or not this criminal conviction will result in a – in a incarcerated period for Donald Trump. That’s up in the air. There are arguments in favor. There are arguments against.

But whatever happens, the fact of this criminal conviction will be on his record, if it – if it remains, at such a time as the future criminal trials take place. And if he gets a conviction on the federal counts in the future, the fact of this conviction here, if it’s still on the books, would result in a potential higher prison sentence in those future cases.

So it does have a consequence, because he will now, unlike a week ago, have a criminal record. And criminal records are taken into account in meting out punishment.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Important point.

You said you had promoted the president’s attorney when you used to work together.

PREET BHARARA: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you promote him based on his performance in court defending Mr. Trump?

PREET BHARARA: You know, it’s a very easy thing that – that I do and other people do on the panel and criticize people’s performances.

Sometimes, it’s the case that someone could do a better job at trial. Trials are difficult. And there’s a lot of scrutiny here. But, sometimes, the facts and the law are what the facts of the law are. And, sometimes, terrific defense lawyers who perform very, very well lose, and, sometimes, not-good defense lawyers win because the government hasn’t proven its case.

So, I’m not going to take potshots at – at Todd. I – I think he could have been stronger in some of the cross-examinations. And I will leave it at that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, sentencing is July 4 – or – excuse me – July 11, four days before the convention, as we mentioned. What grounds for appeal do you think Mr. Trump has here?

PREET BHARARA: So, I think they’ll make a number of case – of points.

You know, Donald Trump does not want to leave anything on the cutting-room floor. I think some of his arguments are nonfrivolous. I agree with what Jan said that, in the ordinary course, it’s very, very difficult to get a criminal conviction overturned, but it happens.

It’s happened to me. It’s happened to any good prosecutor’s office that brings aggressive cases. Nobody has a 100 percent record on appeal. That said, it’s a very low percentage.

I think a number of things, including the fact that the judge didn’t change the venue, the fact that the judge didn’t recuse himself – I don’t think those are strong, but I think those will be made. The fact that Stormy Daniels testified a bit broadly about some of the scurrilous details of their sexual encounter, they will argue were prejudicial and should not have been allowed to come in, although they opened the door to that, arguably.

And then there’s this sort of technical business that I’m sure causes laypeople’s eyes to glaze over. And that is the degree to which the second crime, the thing that made and transformed the misdemeanor into a felony, the basis of that did not have to be decided unanimously by the jury.

So, the – the further crime, the felony, was appropriate, based on the jury’s decision, if there was – the falsification of the business documents was done to further or to conceal or to commit some other crime, namely, an election crime in New York, and that could have been done three different ways…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well…

(CROSSTALK)

PREET BHARARA: … the jury instructions, and they don’t have to be unanimous on those three different ways. And that’s – that’s probably an issue for appeal.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Let me zero in on that, because that has been something that – that Mr. Trump and his allies have talked about.

PREET BHARARA: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In terms of this case, this was about trying to manipulate an election and fraud related to that. His allies say this was just – oh, it was a paperwork thing. Somebody mislabeled this as a legal expense.

How would you tell a layperson to understand this?

PREET BHARARA: Yes, look, the underlying misdemeanor – and that’s why it’s a misdemeanor – is falsifying business records. But the reason it becomes a felony, not the most serious felony on the books in New York, but a felony that – any felony is serious – is if that crime, that misdemeanor crime was done to conceal or commit some other crime.

And that other crime that the prosecutors alleged and got the convictions on was the unla – promoting someone’s election by unlawful means…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

PREET BHARARA: … either done by the falsification of other documents or committing some other tax crime or an ele – a further election fraud crime.

And so the prosecution, I think, did it as well as anybody could do for laypeople, because the jury obviously was a series of laypeople, that this was a serious thing that undermined and interfered with the election in 2016.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

PREET BHARARA: And that’s serious and not to be taken lightly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you know, we’re seeing some rhetoric from Republican lawmakers, including Senator Marco Rubio, who said Mr. Trump was “held hostage, the victim of a sham political show trial, like the ones the communists used in Cuba and the Soviet Union, railing against the ruling class.”

In terms of our judicial system in this country, how should someone understand a characterization like that?

PREET BHARARA: Well, I think, you know, it’s silly. It’s completely silly.

The trial and all aspects of the trial were done openly and in public. The jury selection process, someone needs to be reminded, was participated in by the Trump legal team as well. They had all the peremptory challenges that they’re accorded by law.

The judge, although there’s some, you know, accusations made about his impartiality or lack thereof, his rulings are there to see, as other people have pointed out. He ruled in favor of the Trump team sometimes. He ruled against the Trump team sometimes. He was pretty fair and even-handed. A jury of 12 people…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

PREET BHARARA: … who were selected and approved by both sides brought – brought in the verdict.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

PREET BHARARA: So I don’t know what – what is sham about it. The rules of evidence were – were followed and complied with. So, I – I don’t really know what’s happening here…

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

PREET BHARARA: … other than pure partisan politics.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, yesterday, President Biden was spending time with his son Hunter.

And, tomorrow, in another unusual situation our country is in, the Biden Justice Department will begin a trial in Delaware against the president’s son, where Hunter faces three felony gun possession charges, maximum 25 years prison. How much hot water is he in here?

PREET BHARARA: He’s in substantial hot water, because he’s been charged federally, just like Donald Trump is in a lot of hot water being charged in a state court.

But I think an important thing to consider here, by the way, in the wake of your question about the – the accusations of this vast conspiracy by both state prosecutors and the – and the federal Justice Department that is acting in a witch-hunt fashion, in a partisan fashion to bring down the Republican Party, here, you have the son of the sitting president of the United States of America going to trial at the hands of his own Justice Department.

In a million years, can anyone listening to this broadcast understand and expect that if – if Donald Trump was elected again, and a Biden holdover U.S. attorney were to indict Donald Trump Jr., that…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

PREET BHARARA: … Donald Trump wouldn’t do something about it, in the way that Joe Biden has stayed out of it? I don’t think so.

So that’s an important thing to remember. And, also, the other thing that’s happening this week…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

PREET BHARARA: … is a continuation of the trial against Democratic senior and important Senator Bob Menendez…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

PREET BHARARA: … by the same Justice Department that these politicians are accusing of being partisan.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

Preet Bharara, thank you for your insight and analysis. We’re going to have to leave it there.

And Face the Nation will be back in a minute.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.

Based on our CBS News reporting, he is under serious consideration by the former president to become his running mate in this campaign.

Good morning to you, Governor.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM (R-North Dakota): Good morning, Margaret. Good to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s good to have you back on Face the Nation.

You just heard our polling there; 57 percent Americans think the jury reached the right verdict; 56 percent think Trump got a fair trial. A majority of Americans are unconvinced by this claim that it’s all a sham.

Why do you think it is?

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: Well, I think part of it, of course, polling is a point in time.

And I had a chance to briefly look at some of your poll numbers this morning. And I also saw there that almost two-thirds of the respondents said they weren’t paying close attention. And I understand that they’re not paying close attention to the trial, because most Americans out there, you know, they’ve got – working Americans don’t have time to watch, you know, TV all day, read every report, because they’re facing all the things, you know, putting food on the table, gas in the car…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: … all the challenges that they’re facing. And I think that, as this moment in time passes, when we have the election coming this fall, people are going to make a decision about, were they better – are they better off today than they were four years ago?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: And this is an unusual thing, that this is not – President Trump’s not a candidate that’s unknown or never run before. They had an opportunity to live their life under four years of him.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: And they had a chance to, you know, prosper. And they had a chance to understand what the world was like, no wars.

And now that – it’s a very different situation. So, I – I think, while this is – it’s interesting, and it’s captivating right now to a lot of people…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: … the election is not going to turn on this trial.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The U.S. isn’t involved in a war right now either.

But in…

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: Well, we’re involved in two proxy wars.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We were then as well.

But, on – on your point, Donald Trump spends a lot of time talking about these trials. It – it’s not just journalists. And it’s historic. But he talks quite a lot about it. And, in fact, he held an extensive news conference Friday with a litany of grievances against the judge, who will still have to decide on his sentencing.

Personal judgment-wise, do you think that was a smart thing to do?

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: Well, I have a lot of empathy for what he must feel like, and – because as a businessperson, I – and I – someone who spent – – and I spent 30 years in tech, but a lot of that was in software that dealt with business processes.

I mean, I have – I have never seen anything like this, where you can, you know, magically take, you know, a transaction that gets spread out over 11 – 11 paychecks, or paychecks – 12 vouchers, you know, 11 invoices, and, suddenly, each of those around one decision, they magically become, instead of misdemeanors, they become a felony.

And if they’re misdemeanor…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because of the election fraud, as – as you just heard.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: Well, but if – well, but if – if – I don’t know that anybody in America – if we’re asking about the voter, I don’t know if anybody American can explain how a – business transaction filing errors from seven years ago become federal election law, when federal election law is not a state.

This was brought in a county court.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: Federal election is federal. And I don’t know the alchemy of transforming these misdemeanors, which had a two-year statute of limitations – what I’m saying, from a business perspective, CEOs around America…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: … if you’ve had hundreds of millions of business filings in America in the last seven years, why aren’t our courts clogged with other CEOs that were dragged in front of…

MARGARET BRENNAN: If they were running for president and changing those business records to obscure donations to their own campaign – you know what I’m saying. This isn’t just filing error. But…

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: Well, I – I hear what you’re saying. But most Americans cannot explain it. Many – many of the legal experts…

MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s complicated, sure.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: Many of the legal experts that stood on the curb outside the courthouse for six years can’t – for six weeks can’t explain it.

So Americans are going to come back to the issues that affect them, because this trial outcome doesn’t affect them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: Their – inflation affects them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It does. And I want to talk about some of those issues more in depth with you in a few minutes.

We just put up a graph to – to show you our – our polling. It’s two- thirds of those polled said they are watching closely.

But in – in terms of, like, the bookkeeping argument, this was about a criminal conspiracy to influence an election and creating paperwork to cover it up. If the quibble is about paperwork violations, the president of the United States, his son, says, under the influence of drugs, he committed a paperwork error.

That’s now going to federal court because of what he did in purchasing that gun. That was a paperwork violation. Are you also offended by that? Is that also a miscarriage of justice?

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: Well, I think what’s sad for America is the whole weaponization of the – the system. And what – we’re going to see more of this. I mean, earlier in my life…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think it’s weaponized against Hunter Biden?

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: I think that is – is weaponized against President Trump.

But if you’re going to talk about equivalency in the courts, then we know that media companies have – have acknowledged that they worked in – in conjunction with the federal government to suppress information about Hunter Biden’s laptop during an election year.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That is not true whatsoever when it comes to this journalist or the journalists involved with this program.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: Well, then what – why were his – why were his stories about it taken down off of media companies? Why – why – why was it being suppressed during that election?

Why – so – why – talk about the Steele dossier. I mean, we could go back. There – there is all kinds of things going on in our country related to election integrity. And I think, whether you’re an independent, you’re a Democrat, you’re a Republican…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: … we should all care about election integrity.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: And – and we – and if we want – if we want to have equivalency, then it – to make sure that we’re – we have a level playing field.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We have to finish this conversation on the other side of this commercial break. So let me do that and we’ll finish it.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: Sure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, stay with me, Governor.

And stay with us one second.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Tune in on our streaming political show on CBS News 24/7 tomorrow. We will have a lot more from our poll on Trump’s guilty verdict.

America Decides airs weekdays at 5:00 p.m.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation and Governor Burgum.

Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.

We want to continue our conversation now with North Dakota Republican Governor Doug Burgum.

Governor, North Dakota has tremendous energy resources. And you reportedly are helping the Trump campaign craft energy policy. That’s accurate?

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM (R-ND): Well, I wouldn’t say that. I’m just saying that I’m volunteering to support President Trump during this campaign because, as an energy rich state full of natural resources, and I’ve had the honor of being a governor under President Trump –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: And also under President Biden. And I see the difference between the two administrations. And I’ve got a front row seat in understanding that the – the Biden energy policies are, you know, hard on the American consumers. They’re empowering adversaries overseas and they’re – they’re really tough on our allies.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There – there is more oil being produced in this country now than any country ever, 13 million barrels per day last year.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: Yes, and North Dakota’s down and Iran is up under these policies. And the policies are built around the idea that somehow, if you shut down the U.S. energy industry, that – that that’s going to be good for the environment. But when we stop production here, because it may be higher than it has been before by a little bit –

MARGARET BRENNAN: It has – it is.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: But it should be much higher because we should be displacing energy coming from Venezuela, coming from Iran, coming from Russia.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, let me ask you about that. Let me – let me ask you about that.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: The people that are funding the was that we’re fighting are doing that on their oil sales.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Let me ask you that. Is – according to “The Washington Post” and their reporting, Donald Trump met with oil executives and said, if they raise a billion dollars to return him to the White House, he’ll reduce regulation if elected, start auctioning off leases for drilling in –

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: I was at that meeting. I was at that meeting.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: That did not happen. That is not what happened at that meeting. And that’s been reported over and over and over again.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did he ask for a billion dollars in donations?

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: He didn’t ask for a billion dollars in donations, and there was no quid pro quo.

I mean, think what he did last time for the energy – this guy cut regulation for everybody, whether they donated to him or not. He helped get gas prices down for all Americans, Republicans, independents and Democrats, whether they donated to him or not.

It drives me crazy when –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the economy was also shut down due to Covid, which lowered prices too.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: It drives me – when people went on – people went on hearsay that weren’t at the meeting on hearsay report it like it’s a fact, when it’s not a fact.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I’m asking you to make sure.

“The Washington Post” also reported that Trump suggested to those oil executives he would ease scrutiny of industry mergers and acquisitions if he wins.

Do you think that the industry needs to consolidate and big oil needs to get bigger?

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: I think that the free enterprise needs to operate at ways that are efficiently to be able to compete on a global – on a global level. And what’s going on in the industry –

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, he would do that?

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: I’m not saying he would do that. But I tell you what – what Joe Biden’s administration is doing right now, two companies want to merge, and then they come in and then they, what, they confiscate all the executives’ phone numbers ahead of time, make accusations about collusions. This has never happened to another industry.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, what was promised in that meeting since you said you were there?

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: He – he didn’t make promises. He listened. He went around the room for two hours asking each of the people to tell me, what are your challenges, what are you facing, what are the – what are the things – he was there learning the whole night about the challenges that we’re facing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, is he targeting the industry to finance his re- election bid?

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: I think anybody he’s met with – he’ll be meeting with people in Silicon Valley. He’s meeting people in – across every industry. He’s not targeting anybody, he’s doing what candidates do, which is, you go and listen to an industry. And this industry in particular, which is the fundamental to the entire economy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: It’s not just one industry. It feeds the inflation, which is affecting every American.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: To say, what can we do to produce cleaner energy, more efficiently?

President Trump talks all the time about getting oil prices down.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: Oil executives are not thrilled when he says, I’m going to get oil prices down. You know, they – they make more money when oil prices are up.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, OK.

So, climate and – and environmental policy are important to young voters in particular. Are you at all concerned that you will alienate them by aligning so closely with the energy industry?

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: Well, I’m not concerned about it at all because I know in North Dakota we’re – we – we are producing energy cleaner, safer and smarter than any place else in the world here in the United States –

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you do want to keep some of the environmental restrictions then?

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: The environmental restrictions are hurting this country, they’re not helping it. If the innovation –

MARGARET BRENNAN: (INAUDIBLE).

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: People that think that you’re going to solve the environmental issues with regulations, the way we solve that is with innovation. And the way we solve it with innovation is, we innovate to have zero carbon liquid fuels or low carbon liquid fuels.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: The Biden administration is on team China. They want to have every car be an EV, and then we’ve got to get – China controls 85 percent of the rare earth minerals.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, but they just tariff them. Would talk to you for an hour about rare earth minerals, sir. We’ll have to have you come back another time to talk about that global competition. But we’re going to have to leave it there and turn to one of the crises right now out of the Middle East with the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Joining us is Scott Anderson. He is the director of the U.N.’s refugee efforts in Gaza. UNRWA is the largest relief agency for Palestinian refugees. And he joins us right now from Aman, Jordan.

Scott, I know you were in the U.S. Army. You served two tours in Afghanistan. From what you’ve seen in Gaza, how does it compare?

I’m sorry, I cannot hear Scott right now.

SCOTT ANDERSON (Director, UNRWA Affairs Gaza): Sorry.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There you go.

SCOTT ANDERSON: I was going to say, Gaza is much worse, Margaret, than Afghanistan was. I mean everywhere you go, the scale of destruction just really defies description. And it looks like something out of an apocalyptic movie. Most places you’re looking at 90 to 100 percent destruction with the infrastructure suffering much worse. So, I never saw anything quite like that in Afghanistan that we’re seeing now in Gaza.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The USAID chief, Sam Power – Samantha Power, said, conditions are worse now in Gaza than ever before. She said that was due to the Israeli military operations and closed crossings.

What exactly is the humanitarian situation right now?

SCOTT ANDERSON: So, what you have is 2.2 million people that have all been displaced at least once. Most have been displaced multiple times. In Rafah, ahead of the operation, we had over a million people again displaced, Khan Yunis to Karabela (ph). And what they’re lacking is really just the basic necessities that we all kind of expect. They need food. They need access to water. They need access to showers, access to toilets, access to medical care.

And, unfortunately, because of a variety of factors, we’re unable to import everything that’s needed and to make sure that everybody has the basic necessities that they need to get through every day.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Nineteen different aid organizations released a letter this week saying Palestinians are surviving on less than 3 percent of their daily water needs. Hepatitis is spreading. Medical evacuations have been halted. Virtually every hospital has been issued evacuation orders.

The Pentagon said it has suspended air drops of food because of the Israeli military action. And, as we know, the pier is not really operating.

Who exactly is impeding the delivery?

SCOTT ANDERSON: I think it’s a variety of things, not just one person you can point to. All of the – the bulk of our aid comes in through Karam Shalam (ph). It all comes through Egypt. Starts at Port Saeed (ph), goes through the Siani Calarish (ph) and eventually makes its way to Karam Shalam, where it’s brought in by us to the Palestinian side and then onward for the last mile distribution within Gaza.

There’s a lot of steps that have to go perfectly right for all that to work. And, unfortunately, not everything has gone right. For a time Egypt was not sending trucks where we had 80,000 metric tons of aid in a country we couldn’t access. And – and we’re – we’ve been perpetually playing catch- up on the aid situation since October. Not everybody has a tent that needs one. So you have people sleeping outside still as we’re eight months after the start of the conflict.

And you – you highlighted correctly our number one concern at this point, which is access to clean drinking water. You know, without that, in addition to hepatitis, you have things like cholera and other diseases that can become very prevalent and we could see an outbreak happen very soon. And it’s something that concerns us. And, additionally, it’s getting hot. You know, it’s summer. It’s essentially you’re in the desert. And if people don’t have access to clean drinking water, that’s a problem for dehydration, as well as for disease.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you are with the U.N. so you can’t talk about politics and policy, but President Biden did make this address Friday talking about a proposal for a cease-fire and hostage deal. He said it would come with 600 aid trucks per day to enter Gaza with supplies, with shelter, and the like. Who’s going to be doing all of that distribution?

SCOTT ANDERSON: I mean that would be the entire international humanitarian community because of the scale. I mean currently, UNRWA feeds a little over half the population. We’re feeding about 1.3 or 1.4 million people every day. But it would be us, along with the rest of the U.N. and all our partners.

And I would say, we very much welcome a cease-fire. It’s time for the hostages to go home to their families. Time for more aid to start coming in and then hopefully we can start rebuilding Gaza.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Scott Anderson, thank you for telling us what you are seeing and experiencing on the ground.

We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re joined now by the former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, retired General Frank McKenzie. His new book, “The Melting Point,” is available this Tuesday.

Good to see you, sir.

GENERAL FRANK MCKENZIE (Ret., Former Commander of U.S. Central Command and Author, “The Melting Point”): Good to be here, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, on Friday, President Biden said that Hamas is no longer capable of carrying out another October 7th. When you were last with us in February, you said Israel’s success has been very limited. Do you think they can declare success now?

GENERAL FRANK MCKENZIE: I think they’re a lot closer than they were a few months ago. I still think Hamas political and military leadership exists largely whole. A lot of their combat formations have been destroyed. But I think Hamas has been significantly atritted (ph).

MARGARET BRENNAN: You also have raised a few times in the past few months concerns about America’s continued presence in the Middle East, which you say is crucial here. Right now we are seeing so many different flash points. One of them in the Red Sea, where our CBS’ David Martin reported the U.S. used a 5,000 pound bunker buster bomb in Yemen just this past week. The Houthis are attacking shipping. We have concerns about the troop safety in Syria and in Iraq. Does it need to continue?

GENERAL FRANK MCKENZIE: Well, I think we remain the critical nation in the Middle East. I think everybody looks at us to be the honest broker. If we take the situation with the Houthis as simply one example, I would argue that we’ve been too passive. We’ve allowed the Houthis really to dominate global maritime communications by closing down effectively the Suez Canal. And that is something that’s not only bad for the United States, but for many other nations around the world. It has nothing to do actually with Israel or the conflict in Gaza. Rather, it’s a larger principle for the United States.

But we’ve essentially been catching and not pitching in this conflict despite deploying multibillion-dollar warships into the Red Sea. The sign that we’re dropping larger bombs may be a good thing, but we need to go after the source of the attacks. And the source of the attacks is Houthi leadership and command and control facilities in Yemen. And I would argue that the threat of escalation is very small if we conduct these attacks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When you say we, you think the Biden administration?

GENERAL FRANK MCKENZIE: I think the United States and our allies.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You largely try to avoid politics and directly addressing the presidents you served under in the book that you wrote here, but you have had such a key role in some of these very significant national security decisions, killing the ISIS commander, Baghdadi, taking Qassem Soleimani off the battlefield, executing the withdrawal from Afghanistan. And you spread around some blame to past U.S. presidents. But you do point to the Doha agreement, the withdraw negotiated by the Trump administration, as one of the worst negotiating mistakes ever made by the U.S. Why?

GENERAL FRANK MCKENZIE: I think it was. And it was – and also, by the way, we implemented the agreement. Had we actually stuck to the strict terms of the agreement, we might have been able to make something of it. But, in fact, we treated the Doha agreement as a schedule for us to depart Afghanistan. And that policy objective remained across two presidents, President Trump and President Biden. When, in fact, there are procedures in the Doha agreement, if we had respected them, that would require the Taliban to do certain things in return. We did not require that.

And, effectively, I would argue, that the Doha agreement was the operational mechanism that killed Afghanistan, that destroyed the government of Afghanistan, because they saw we were eager to leave, regardless of cost, and that was a very important and deflating thing, I think, for the government of Afghanistan.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As you point out, that was across two presidents.

GENERAL FRANK MCKENZIE: Absolutely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Biden and Trump?

GENERAL FRANK MCKENZIE: Margaret, I would argue that President Trump and President Biden, was (INAUDIBLE) as any two presidents in our history, but they both shared a policy objective of leaving Afghanistan, regardless really of the consequences.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You wrote that you drafted resignation letters a few times, but the only time you actually came close was after that withdraw from Afghanistan and a drone strike August 29th that was intended to kill ISIS but killed civilians.

If you had such strong objections, why was that the moment where you almost resigned and not others?

GENERAL FRANK MCKENZIE: So, I feel it’s very important that generals don’t resign over policy differences. That’s not good for the republic. It’s not the way that our military system should work. And, historically, it’s not the way it has worked back to the Korean War, back to the Second World War. Many generals – many senior generals disagreed with presidential decisions, but they did not resign. So, I did not feel it was appropriate to resign.

In my particular case, if there had been discussions of charging my subordinates, that I felt it was necessary for me to actually accept part of that blame. Now, we did not do that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. You stayed on.

You, in the book, talk quite a lot about conversations you had around how to implement the withdraw from Afghanistan and the planning for it, particularly with the Trump administration. At one point you say the chief of staff to President Trump, Mark Meadows, advised not to present certain options out of concern he’d choose them, like going to zero in Afghanistan.

You wrote, Trump made the decision to kill Qassem Soleimani, but his national security advisors were telling him there won’t be any consequences for it, which is not what U.S. intelligence said and that is not what U.S. CENTCOM thought.

Why is it important for the public to know that the people around the commanders in chief were either not sharing full picture with him or changing what he was allowed to see?

GENERAL FRANK MCKENZIE: Well, every president, whether it – the last – either the last two have advisors that give them all kinds of different opinions. The military input that comes in is one part of that. And that was my – and I was relentlessly focused on that. Every president also has to make political calculations, not just these two presidents, but presidents as far back as President Roosevelt in the Second World War had to balance internal U.S. political objectives with what was going on around the world. So, that’s not new or unusual in these times.

I think in the case of Qassem Soleimani, I think President Trump made the right decision. I do not believe ultimately we made the right decision in Afghanistan. And I’ve been pretty clear about that in open – in open testimony. And that goes across two presidents.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it is cherry-picking, right, information to present to the commander in chief when he has to make a call. And you write about the internessing (ph) bickering you say and finger-pointing that followed Trump political appointees at the Pentagon. You wrote about the choice of drawing down the 2,500 troops. You say you don’t even know where that number came from. It was kind of arbitrary. And there was an incident in which a mysterious signed letter appeared saying withdraw from Afghanistan. And you hunted that down and it was ultimately discarded.

How does something like that happen with such high consequence, and do you fear that it could happen again if there is a second Trump administration?

GENERAL FRANK MCKENZIE: Well, Margaret, I think the period of time from the presidential election of 2021, until the inauguration of 2022, was a particularly dangerous time inside the Pentagon. And I believe there that that’s where the U.S. military has a role to play. It’s a non-political role. It’s a role where we answer the orders that we’re given.

And, at the same time, you have political appointees inside the Pentagon, they’re appointed by the president and members of his party, and they have their own objectives there. And we respond to orders from the chain of command. It’s very important to know who can actually give orders and who can’t give orders. A lot of people that walk around the Pentagon are not in a position to give orders. The orders flow from the president to the secretary to the combatant commanders. Everyone else has an opinion, and those opinions may actually impact the decisions that are made, but they’re not in the chain of command.

MARGARET BRENNAN: General, it is a fascinating read. Thank you for coming on to talk about the book.

GENERAL FRANK MCKENZIE: Thanks, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we’re joined now with – by Matt Pottinger, who served as deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration. He is the author of the new book “The Boiling Moat: Urgent Steps to Defend Taiwan,” available in July.

Matt, you say the clock’s ticking. Beijing has been engaged in the most comprehensive peacetime military buildup of any nation since World War II.”

Are you predicting that conflict will happen either on President Biden or President Trump, if he’s re-elected, on their watch?

MATT POTTINGER (Former Deputy National Security Adviser and Author, “The Boiling Moat: Urgent Steps to Defend Taiwan”: Well, what is clear is that the dictator in Beijing, Xi Jinping, intends to try to take Taiwan, to annex it, by force if necessary. We also know that this would be catastrophic for American prosperity and security. But my co-authors and I are actually quite optimistic that this is a war that can be deterred, but it means that we’ve got to take some steps urgently.

These are workable steps. It doesn’t require massive new investment. We’ve got the technologies we need. But Taiwan, Japan and the United States in particular, need to take the steps that we think we’ve laid out in the book.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This week the defense secretary is in Asia. And he actually met with his Chinese defense minister counterpart. You can see it there. This is like the first meeting since 2022. Last guy disappeared.

MATT POTTINGER: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But Austin said, a fight with China is neither imminent or unavoidable.

When we hear the kind of rhetoric out of Washington right now, it sounds like we are headed towards conflict. What are the things you’re saying need to be done to avoid it?

MATT POTTINGER: Yes. Well, for starters, we need to invest more in munitions making. OK, so one of the things that the Chinese government is looking at is, would we be able to stay in a fight more than just the first, you know, the initial battle that would be involved in taking Taiwan? If they don’t think we have the industrial base – and right now we haven’t optimized our industrial base to do that – we’re –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Even with the national security supplemental investment in (INAUDIBLE)?

MATT POTTINGER: Absolutely. Look, we – we – amazingly, I don’t think many Americans realize, our defense spending right now is less than half of what it was in the 1980s during the Cold War. And that was during the Reagan administration. We didn’t have to go to war, partly because we put the money into that.

Our military, in terms of manpower, is smaller today than it was on the eve of World War II. So, we have to put more money into it. It’s – it’s – but we also have to do things to optimize our defense spending so that it’s not guaranteed profits, no matter how inefficient the manufacturers are. There are things that we can do to super charge our military manufacturing to take advantage of our innovative base.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s interesting to hear you and before you the general talk about the scale of the problem set facing the president of the United States and the next commander in chief. So, that’s why I think it’s important to have this conversation this week.

You did resign from the Trump administration after the violent attack on the Capitol on January the 6th. You then testified to Congress that you feared America’s national security was in harm that day. That it gave ammunition to feed a narrative that our system of government doesn’t work, the U.S. is in decline. If you continue to contest an election, you’re not just contesting an election, you’re actually challenging the Constitution itself.

Do you fear that erosion is taking place right now with what we are hearing on the campaign trail?

MATT POTTINGER: Well, look, I think the perception of erosion is. I actually think the United States is incredibly strong. We have all of these advantages. The century can be ours if we don’t lose our nerve. I think that – look, Election Day will be a referendum. It’s the best kind of referendum. It’s where the American people get to decide who the next president’s going to be. I hope that the outcome is decisive so that we don’t end up with either side challenging the results. But if they do, just like with the last election, the courts will determine it. We have a system in place that allows us to adjudicate the outcomes of our elections.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But now you even have like the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee coming out and repeating things that undercut our judicial system.

MATT POTTINGER: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Comparing the United States to the Soviet Union?

MATT POTTINGER: Yes. Well, look, there – there’s no way that –

MARGARET BRENNAN: What does Beijing think of that? Because it –

MATT POTTINGER: Yes, look – look – well, Beijing, it’s kind of an interesting moment because Beijing really relishes propaganda that is designed to discredit the United States or to cause us to doubt our – our system of government. But at the same time, you have a jury that is just convicted a president of the United States. You’ve also got the son of a sitting president, who’s – who’s now under indictment, just like you heard from Preet Bharara earlier.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

MATT POTTINGER: Beijing’s propaganda can only go so far.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

MATT POTTINGER: At the end of the day, Americans, thank God, we live in a system where the American people are going to decide who their president is. They’re doing – they – they have –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

MATT POTTINGER: All the information available to them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we will try to bring – bring it to them here.

Thank you very much, Matt.

We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s it for us today. Thank you for watching. I’m Margaret Brennan.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)



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