Full transcript of "Face the Nation," June 30, 2024

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

  • Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, a Democrat 
  • Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio, a Republican
  • CBS News correspondents Major Garrett and Jan Crawford
  • Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, a Democrat
  • UNICEF executive director Catherine Russell 

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: Democrats defend President Biden after a disastrous debate. And a new CBS poll reveals whether it changed the way voters see the candidates now.

President Biden’s team sought out Thursday’s debate to draw contrasts with Donald Trump and hoped it would soothe concerns about the incumbents’ age and stamina. Instead, after a meandering, frequently hard-to-follow performance, not even Mr. Biden’s closest supporters could ignore the obvious.

(Begin VT)

KAMALA HARRIS (Vice President of the United States): It was a slow start. That’s obvious to everyone. I’m not going to debate that point.

REPRESENTATIVE JAMES CLYBURN (D-South Carolina): That was strike one. If this were a ball game, he’s got two most swings.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president went on damage control…

(Begin VT)

JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): When you get knocked down, you get back up.


(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: … and spent the weekend at fund-raisers, as critics outside some of those events and the nation’s leading newspapers called for him to step aside.

Mr. Biden said he’s staying in the race, but some voters are voicing doubt.

(Begin VT)

WOMAN #1: I’m not sure he’s as sharp as he should be.

WOMAN #2: After what happened last night, Democrats should wake up today with a plan B.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will have results of a new CBS poll.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore, who is campaigning for President Biden, will join us.

Meanwhile, despite repeatedly making falsehoods on stage, former President Trump claimed victory.

(Begin VT)

DONALD TRUMP (Former President of the United States (R) and Current U.S. Presidential Candidate): We had a big victory against a man that really is looking to destroy our country.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: But his legal problems could cut that short, as the Supreme Court prepares to rule tomorrow on whether former presidents are immune from criminal prosecution.

We will hear from possible Trump running mate Ohio Senator J.D. Vance.

Plus, we will check in with Congressman Jim Himes, the top Democrat on the Intel Committee, and get the latest from the head of UNICEF, Catherine Russell, on the humanitarian crises putting millions of children at risk around the world.

It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.

We begin this morning with reaction to the first presidential debate of 2024. Our polling unit asked voters how they view the candidates now, including their cognitive health. The results are not encouraging for the president.

The number of voters who say President Biden has the cognitive ability to serve has dropped from 35 percent earlier this month to 27 percent after the debate. That’s the lowest number since CBS began asking voters that question last September.

Nearly three-quarters of all registered voters now say he shouldn’t be running, and nearly half of Democrats say he shouldn’t remain the nominee, an extraordinary number for an incumbent who didn’t face a competitive primary. We should also note that half of all voters also say former President Trump does not have the cognitive health to serve.

Voters give former President Trump a significant edge, though, when asked which candidate explained his ideas clearly, inspired confidence, and appeared presidential.

Joining us now to discuss all of this is Maryland Governor Wes Moore. He’s in Milwaukee, where he has been campaigning for President Biden’s reelection this weekend.

Welcome back, Governor.

GOVERNOR WES MOORE (D-Maryland): Thank you so much, great to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, you know it wasn’t a good night for the president. And – and I will save us time, because I know you’re going to tell us, look at presidential performance, not debate performance, everyone has a bad night, Barack Obama once had a bad night.

But you know, at 81 years old, this is a different set of factors for President Biden. Why was he struggling Thursday?

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: Well, I – I think both candidates struggled. I don’t think either candidate had a – had a very good night on the – on the debate night.

But I also do know that it does matter when we’re looking at presidential performance, and not necessarily debate performance.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, respectfully, Governor, the president doesn’t do many interviews. He doesn’t do things where we he – we have to see him be quick on his feet. He’s not here. You are.


MARGARET BRENNAN: He’s not on the campaign trail as often…


MARGARET BRENNAN: … as surrogates like you are. Isn’t that demonstrating that there are alternatives, Democratic alternatives, who are younger and able to go out and be quick on their feet and on the trail?

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: I – I know I got a chance to see the president when times were difficult and see him in trials.


GOVERNOR WES MOORE: And I have seen him been able to be a remarkable partner to us.

And that’s what I remember. And that’s why I continue to believe that – that the Biden administration deserves another four years. And I’m excited about what that can deliver for the American people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why was the president struggling?

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: I think the president had a tough night.


GOVERNOR WES MOORE: I think all – all of us have difficult nights.

Well, I think that the president had a – had a difficult night, just like every single one of us do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, I know that Democrats believe that abortion is a winning issue in this election. Here’s what the American people heard from the president when he was asked about abortion.

(Begin VT)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Look, there’s so many young women who have been – including a young woman who just was murdered and he – he went to the funeral.

The idea that she was murdered by a – by – by an immigrant coming in, and they talk about that. But here’s the deal. There’s a lot of young women who are being raped by their – by their in-laws, by their – by their spouses, brothers and sisters, by – just – it’s just – it’s just ridiculous. And they can do nothing about it.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Abortion is an important issue for Democrats. This should have been a layup. He was struggling to make the point. How do you explain that?

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: Margaret, that – that – that wasn’t a great moment for the president. And no one can argue that it can.

He was also standing feet away from someone who was talking about politicians who take babies away after they’re born and killing them. He was also talking – he was also standing feet away from somebody who was debating whether or not the limit on – on reproductive health should be six weeks or nine weeks or 12 weeks, or saying that any politician should have a say about what happens with a woman and her body, when that conversation should exclusively be between her and her doctor.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. Donald – Donald Trump was saying it’s for the states…

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: And so it wasn’t a great moment for the president. And we can’t defend that.


GOVERNOR WES MOORE: No. Well – well, I – I think – and you – and Donald Trump is also claiming responsibility for the turndown of Roe v. Wade.


GOVERNOR WES MOORE: So – so, I mean, it wasn’t a great moment for the president.

But let’s be clear. His position on making sure the reproductive health and reproductive rights should be ironclad, his position that we should have Roe v. Wade as the law of the land is very, very clear…


GOVERNOR WES MOORE: With Donald Trump, I want to be also clear that that is not his position.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I – I understand you want the conversation to be about the policy and the false statements made by his opponent.

But “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution” in Georgia, a key state for the president, came out in an editorial saying: “This wasn’t a bad night. It was confirmation of the worst fears of some of Biden’s most ardent supporter. Age has finally caught up to him.”

It referred to excuses like what you’re making as insulting to the American people. How do you respond to that?

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: I think that what we are watching, when you’re watching a presidential performance, when you’re watching a president who was able to lead us to now where we have record low unemployment, when we’re able to watch how the black – black wealth inside of this country since the pandemic has risen by 60 percent, when you’re able to watch a presidential performance that’s been able to do things like raise wages for our workers, and making sure that our rights are protected, that that does matter in this conversation.

And so I understand people who are, you know – and I understand…


GOVERNOR WES MOORE: … and I get it, the arguments, about age and the complications of 81.

But the number 81 is an important number, but so is watching historically low unemployment rates. And I do not think that people should lose sight of that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sure, but we’re not just talking about three-and-a-half years in the past. We’re talking about four more years, bringing him to age 86.

Here is what the president responded when he was asked about the national debt, and how he would tax billionaires.

(Begin VT)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We’d be able to right wipe out his debt. We’d be able to help make sure that all those things we need to do, childcare, eldercare, making sure that we continue to strengthen our health care system, making sure that we’re able to make every single solitary person eligible for what I have been able to do with the – with the COVID – excuse me – with dealing with everything we have to do with – look, if – we finally beat Medicare.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president lost his own point.

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: The – we also have to remember that this election is a binary choice.

It’s an election between President Joe Biden and, frankly, even the conversation around the national debt, you know, someone whose tax cuts at a time when over the next decade, we are going to have the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world…

MARGARET BRENNAN: You need young voters to turn out.

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: … and a president who – and a – and a former president…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Democrats need young voters to turn out.


MARGARET BRENNAN: How are they supposed to see themselves…


MARGARET BRENNAN: … reflected in that?

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: I think they’re also going to see themselves reflected in all the people who are going out and being the president’s surrogates.

I think you have to go out and earn it. You know, I’m – I’m – I’m the youngest Democratic governor in this country, the only African-American governor in America. And we’re out here all the time, and we’re out here in conjunction with other surrogates. We’re out here in conjunction with the president, who’s out here campaigning, and the vice president.

We’re going to the people and we’re making our case to the people as to why this kind of partnership matters. Progress does not happen by accident. The work that we are seeing – I look at the state of Maryland. We now went from being 43rd in unemployment when I was first inaugurated to now having amongst the lowest unemployment rates in the entire country for 12 straight months.

We went from having some of the highest homicide rates.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So would you pursue the Democratic nomination if Joe Biden were to – to take himself out of this race?

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: I – I will not. And Joe Biden is not going to take himself out of this race, nor should he. He has been a remarkable partner.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you confident that the only person, the only Democrat in America that could meet – beat Donald Trump is Joe Biden?

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: Joe Biden is our nominee. Joe Biden is our leader.

And Joe Biden has earned and Joe Biden deserves the confidence, the respect, and, frankly, the partnership that we now have to provide to him. And so I will be in Chicago. I will proudly be supporting the president in Chicago. I will work through November to make sure he gets reelected.

So, yes, I do think that President Biden has earned the respect of Democrats and Joe Biden is going to be our leader going forward.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor Moore, thank you for joining us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And Face the Nation will be back in one minute. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Ohio Republican Senator J.D. Vance. He joins us this morning from Cleveland.

And, Senator I should say, we’re having some technical issues, so you’re with us on Zoom. Hopefully, our uplink stays solid throughout, because I got a lot of questions for you, sir.

SENATOR J.D. VANCE (R-Ohio): Sure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Donald Trump had a better night on Thursday during that debate by many measures.

But according to our poll, he fell short on at least one of them. Fewer voters thought the former president was truthful compared with President Biden. Mr. Trump falsely claimed states are passing legislation to execute babies. I think you know that killing people is illegal in every state.

He falsely claimed that the speaker of the House at the time turned down 10,000 soldiers that he had offered to keep the peace ahead of January 6, something his own acting secretary of defense testified to Congress did not happen.

If he has such a strong platform, why make false claims?

SENATOR J.D. VANCE: Well, Margaret, I think the media is running interference on a lot of this stuff. We all know and Nancy Pelosi herself has admitted on camera that she could have requested more National Guard troops. She bears some responsibility for the fact that they weren’t there at the Capitol.

We know that – that multiple Democratic governors and states and even some Democratic senators and congressmen have tried to pass laws that would effectively legalize abortion up until the moment of birth. And, most importantly, we know that the media seems totally uninterested in fact- checking Joe Biden from any of the number of false claims that he made, including he said…


MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, I lost track, sir, I have been told the media is on every single side of this and everything’s our fault.

But let’s get back to the candidate you’re here to talk about.



MARGARET BRENNAN: Chris Miller said 10,000 troops, he was never ordered by the president to send those to the Capitol that day.

SENATOR J.D. VANCE: Nancy Pelosi has said on camera, Margaret, that she bears some responsibility for the fact that the National Guard didn’t play a bigger role.

But, of course, we know the speaker of the House has an extraordinary amount of influence over the Capitol Police. It’s not in dispute, Margaret. And, more importantly, Joe Biden said that no troops died on his watch, even though 13 American service members died…


SENATOR J.D. VANCE: … thanks to his botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. Joe Biden made multiple statements of falsehood during the debate.

And a lot of folks in the media, yes, seemed totally uninterested in fact- checking him. And the reason, Margaret, is because Donald Trump just performed so much better. There’s – there was – there was this 24-hour period where effectively everyone was honest that there was an incredible contrast between Donald Trump’s energy and command to the facts, and Joe Biden’s obvious inability to do the job as president.

And now, of course, we’ve transitioned to this new media cycle where folks are trying to run cover. Look, the American people saw what they saw. Trump can do the job. Biden can’t.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes, you might not have heard it, but I did raise a lot of those issues to Wes Moore, the Biden surrogate who was on before you.

As to where you stand on some of these issues, tomorrow, at the Supreme Court, it may be a significant day as we get – expected to get that decision on presidential immunity from criminal prosecution. And that’s directly relevant to the federal charges against Donald Trump, as you know.

You’re a lawyer. I wonder. If you become the vice president and you’re in a Trump-Vance administration, do you believe a president could pardon himself for federal crimes?

SENATOR J.D. VANCE: Well, look, I’m focused on electing Donald Trump as president. Whether I’m serving in some other roles or serving as the United States senator, I think the Trump agenda has worked, Margaret.

And on this particular question…


MARGARET BRENNAN: But would you object if the president were to try to do that?

SENATOR J.D. VANCE: Margaret, we know that the president has to have immunity to do his job.

Should Barack Obama be prosecuted for droning American citizens in Yemen? There are so many examples of presidents Democrats and Republicans who would not be able to discharge their duties if the Supreme Court does not recognize some broad element of presidential discretion.

I’m very confident that they’re going to be able to do that. And I’m very confident that the fundamental principle here is, the president’s got to be able to do his job. In the same way that police officers, judges, prosecutors, enjoy some immunity, that principle has to apply to the president too.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you do believe that a president could pardon himself for federal crimes?

SENATOR J.D. VANCE: I believe that the president has broad pardon authority, Margaret, but, more importantly, I think the president has immunity. It’s not about whether he should pardon himself.


SENATOR J.D. VANCE: It’s about whether he should be prosecuted in the first place for discharging his official duties.

So, in that way, I sort of reject the premise of the question here. We need to have some recognition that the – you know, look, a Democrat wins the presidency, they try to throw the Republican president in jail. A Republican wins the presidency…


SENATOR J.D. VANCE: … they try to throw the Democrat president in jail. That is the pathway to unraveling 250 years of American constitutional tradition and making the president totally unable, regardless of party, to do their job.

That is not a good thing, and it’s not something I think any Republican supports.


To that point, President Trump on that debate stage on Thursday, suggested that Joe Biden could be criminally prosecuted after he leaves office. It wasn’t clear exactly what crime he was alleging. But he mentioned something about the U.S. border.

In a Trump/Vance administration, would your Justice Department prosecute Joe Biden? And, if so, for what?

SENATOR J.D. VANCE: Well, first of all, that would be the responsibility of the attorney general, Margaret.

But Donald Trump did not say that he’s trying to throw his political opponent in jail. That is Joe Biden, who has, in fact, already tried to do precisely that. And, importantly, what he said is that if you apply the same standard that Joe Biden’s Justice Department has applied, then there are a lot of Democratic officials who could go to prison.

He’s making a fundamental argument about constitutional fairness. It’s so extraordinary that people could say that Donald Trump is the one trying to use lawfare against his opponent sometime in the hypothetical future…


SENATOR J.D. VANCE: … when, in the very real present, that’s exactly what Joe Biden is trying to do. This is a danger…

MARGARET BRENNAN: But do you object to the premise?

SENATOR J.D. VANCE: And I think that what we need to recognize is that applying a consistent standard is what really matters.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you would not want the Justice Department to prosecute Joe Biden for any alleged crimes, correct?

SENATOR J.D. VANCE: I want people who – Margaret, I want people who commit crimes to face the appropriate response in law.

What I do not think is reasonable is for Joe Biden to weaponize his own Justice Department…


SENATOR J.D. VANCE: … going after Donald Trump any number of crimes, some of which have already been thrown out, a number of which I think will be thrown out, including on Monday by the United States Supreme Court.

So, the – the problem that I have Margaret is not with which Democrats should prosecute which Republican and vice versa. It’s let’s get out of the prosecuting of people based on their politics. Let – let – let’s let voters decide who the president should be, not judges and prosecutors who are politically motivated.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, you are, as everyone knows, on this very short list of potential running mates for Donald Trump.

So, for our viewers at home, you are 40 years old. You’ve been in the Senate for less than two years. You haven’t held elected office before this. If you are selected, alongside a nominee who is 78 years old, you will be a heartbeat from the presidency.

What do you think your biggest accomplishment in the Senate has been to date?

SENATOR J.D. VANCE: Well Margaret, again, I’m not running for vice president, and it’s important for us to remember that Donald Trump has been a very good president. He will be a very good president again.

I think, in some ways, these vice presidential conversations serve to distract from the fact that we have Donald Trump as president was a success, Joe Biden as president has been a failure. Let’s get back to success. Let’s get back to peace and prosperity.


SENATOR J.D. VANCE: My attitude on the vice presidential thing, Margaret, is look, if he asked me, I want to help him, and, of course, I would be very interested in the job.

But you asked, what are my accomplishments in the United States Senate? In 18 months, Margaret, we’ve done a lot of good work for our constituents. We’ve got hundreds of millions of dollars to the Great Lakes. We’ve done a lot to help the people of East Palestine deal with the terrible train disaster.

And, of course, we’ve done a lot of work on making sure that Ohio has gotten defense resources that make not just Ohio, but our country stronger. So there’s a lot we can hang our hat on. But I like being a senator. I’m not trying to leave the United States Senate. It’s an honor to serve the people of Ohio. And, frankly, if you ask me, that’s where I expect to be in six months. That’s where I expect to be in a few years.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, J.D. Vance, we’ll be watching. And, hopefully, we’ll have you back in studio next time.

SENATOR J.D. VANCE: Thanks for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Tomorrow, the Supreme Court is set to conclude a blockbuster term and issue a landmark decision on whether presidents are granted a degree of immunity from criminal prosecution, a decision that could impact the 2024 race.

We’re joined now by CBS News chief legal affairs correspondent Jan Crawford and chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett.

A lot to get to with both of you.

But, Jan, the big question of tomorrow morning, what will the court rule?

JAN CRAWFORD: Well, I mean, we will see.

But, I mean, I do expect a decision that at least leaves open the possibility of a trial before the election. I mean, I see zero chance they’re going to embrace Donald Trump’s argument that he has absolute immunity and can’t be prosecuted. I think they’re going to say that there is some immunity for the official actions of a president.

And why is that important? I agree – and you heard some of that in your conversation with Senator Vance – they are concerned that this case will apply to future presidents. They are concerned that, after a bitter campaign, as one justice pointed out in argument, that the winning candidate could throw the loser into jail. They’re worried about that.

And, as Trump said during that debate, he believes Biden’s policies on immigration have been criminal. So, they see this as the case that goes well beyond Donald Trump. That’s why I think they’re going to wall off those kind of official actions of a president, but leave open the possibility of prosecution for unofficial actions of an office-seeker.

And as Trump’s lawyer argued at the oral arguments, conceded at the oral arguments, a lot of what’s alleged in the indictment is unofficial acts. So Jack Smith could have those papers ready to go and say, he’s conceded this is unofficial acts that he can be prosecuted for. Let’s get this trial going.

And I think the judge could do that very quickly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s hard to get your head around something being an unofficial act by the president when he is doing it in office at times from the Oval Office.

JAN CRAWFORD: A lower court…

MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you explain that?

JAN CRAWFORD: Because, as a lower court in a different case on a similar issue explained, unofficial acts are the acts of an office-seeker, a candidate, speeches you may give on the campaign trail at rallies.

So, a lower court has already laid out the groundwork for how you can make these divisions in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The official acts will be those core powers that presidents have, immigration policy, decisions you make about drone strikes. Those cannot be prosecuted.


JAN CRAWFORD: That is – that’s going to be walled off. But there’s a lot of things a president does that could be unofficial and criminal.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There is so much we need to dig into on the legalities and then with you, Major, on the practicalities, because, as you just mentioned, there could be a trial before the election. I just…

JAN CRAWFORD: We can’t rule it out.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re going to have to talk about what that looks like and the impact on the trail.

Please stay with us, and we will have the rest of that conversation on the other side of this commercial break with Jan and Major.


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

Stay with us.



And we return now to our conversation with chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford and chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett.

Major, I want to pick up with you. Jan has laid out for us that there is the expectation the Supreme Court should – could say some, but not total immunity.

MAJOR GARRETT: Right. Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What does this mean for the timeline for special counsel Jack Smith.

MAJOR GARRETT: As a practical matter, the Trump legal effort has already succeeded. It has delayed a resolution of this matter for a very long time. Oral arguments were April 25th. Many legal scholars have said, what is the court waiting for? This is not that hard a question. But by waiting, even there is room available to special counsel Jack Smith to prosecute, his choice is to launch that trial in September or October at the absolute earliest, in the very teeth of a presidential campaign, in which former President Trump says, because I am potent, because I am politically leading, I am being prosecuted. Is that the political and legal terrain Jack Smith wants to wade into? We’ll find out. It’s the most consequential prosecutorial decision in the history of the country if it comes to that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And on two case –

MAJOR GARRETT: That’s correct.

MARGARET BRENNAN: One directly related to 2020 and attempts to steal the election.


MARGARET BRENNAN: The other on classified documents. That playing out in Florida.


MARGARET BRENNAN: What is the timeline on that case?

MAJOR GARRETT: Much, much later. Because Judge Aileen Cannon has briefed and heard arguments on so many underlying issues in that case, it does not appear ripe for a prosecution under the most favorable calendar before the election. The January 6th case, however, does.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jan, how would the immunity ruling that you are expecting affect the classified documents case in Florida?

JAN CRAWFORD: I don’t think it would because that again – that case is about what he did after he left office. And I agree with Major, I see no way that the classified documents case goes forward. I think that is a very inexperienced judge and she’s taken on a lot of issues. So, I see no way that one goes forward because, again, that’s – that’s about behavior that after, you know, he’s no longer a sitting president.

But I do want to point out, you know, remember the Supreme Court did agree to Jack Smith’s request to expedite this case. He asked the court if they were going to decide it, to take it up this term and have a decision by the end of the session. And that’s what he’s going to get.

There are a lot of people who wish, on the conservative side, that the court had just said, no, we’re going to just do it regular course of business. We’ll come back and have arguments in October, we’ll give a decision in December or January, and that means there is no trial. So the court – and I – I – I understand there is frustration among Democrats that the court seems to be dragging their feet on this, but that’s not true. I mean the court has expedited this. They added this to their calendar. And they are going to give Jack Smith what he wanted in his filings, a decision by the end of the term that allows him to go forward with the trial.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, there’s frustration – there’s frustration among Democrats that the attorney general didn’t move faster either.


JAN CRAWFORD: And bring charges.


MAJOR GARRETT: Just a quick rejoinder on that point. A three judge panel, the D.C. Court of Appeals issued a 57-page opinion on this that was unequivocal. The Supreme Court could have taken that.


JAN CRAWFORD: And – and the state (ph) didn’t like that decision because it essentially said there is no immunity. There’s none. And the court believed, and I think from this conversation you can see, there is some immunity for official acts.


JAN CRAWFORD: And so the court believed, let’s decide it now, instead of having this go through the trial court process and come back up here, challenging this. Trump would be challenging it in September, Octoer all over again.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jan, Friday the attorney general said he was disappointed that the court ruled 6-3 to limit a law that has been used to charge hundreds of Capitol riot defendants, as well as President Trump. How will this affect the potential case against Mr. Trump?

JAN CRAWFORD: That case again – you know, that came up – one of the January 6th defendants, along with a couple others who were charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, challenged the use of that charge in their cases and the Supreme Court said on Friday that prosecutors may have overreached. They looked at the law that was at issue as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act after the Enron accounting scandal and they said the justices said on Friday that it has to be tied to some kind of destruction or hampering of evidence. So, that was a big win for the January 6th defendant in this case, Joe Fisher, and a couple others, but it doesn’t mean it’s a big win for Donald Trump. He is going to file a motion to dismiss assuming this immunity case goes like we believe it will. He’ll file a motion to dismiss those charges against him. And Jack Smith, I’m sure, already has legal papers to say, let me show you how this obstructions charge is still going to apply to Donald Trump.

And why is that important? That carries a 20-year prison sentence. It is a felony. It is the most serious charge. And I believe that, based on, again, another opinion in the D.C. Circuit that lays out a groundwork for how Trump can still be charged –


JAN CRAWFORD: They will be able to show that he was trying to interfere with evidence. The evidence of those certificates where they were counting state electors.


JAN CRAWFORD: He was trying to disrupt that evidence and the counting of those votes.

MAJOR GARRETT: Very quickly, Margaret. Just under 1,500 people have been charged with the January 6th riot. This affects less than 2 percent of those cases.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Major, very quickly.


MARGARET BRENNAN: For President Biden to be removed from the top of the ticket, he would have to agree to do so.

MAJOR GARRETT: He has to agree. DNC rules are absolutely clear on this. The threshold to be the nominee is 1,968 delegates. President Biden currently has 3,894. Unless he steps down, there is no mechanism to dislodge him from becoming the renominated candidate for the Democratic Party, period, end of story.

There are lots of people who are talking about it, but unless he removes himself, or is somehow otherwise incapacitated, this is a closed matter.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s a family matter at the moment.

MAJOR GARRETT: A very important family matter, not just the family, but the broader Democratic Party family.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you both for your reporting and your analysis.

We’ll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Connecticut Congressman Jim Hines. He’s the top

Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Good morning to you.

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES, (D-CT): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you were recently briefed regarding those arrests in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New York City and the eight Tajiki nationals with suspected links to ISIS-K. Do you know where we are in regard to understanding whether they were a cell working together, whether there were direct links?

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: Yes, so, law enforcement, as you might expect, is making pretty good progress determining who these people were talking to, what the plans were, other people involved in the network, whether an attack was imminent, whether there were specific plans for an attack. And – and this isn’t new, right? In other words, you know, as you know, shortly after these individuals entered the United States, not stopped because there was no derogatory information on them at the time, very quickly some derogatory information was developed, and the decision was taken to watch these guys.

Now, the reason you watch these guys instead of instantly arresting them is that their behavior and their communications can really paint a very specific picture of a plot of a conspiracy if there is one. Obviously, they took the decision at one point that the risk-reward there was such that they made these arrests. But, of course, they continue to work to understand whether there were plans and, if so, who else might have been involved.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, it sounds like intelligence is still being gleaned from these eight individuals. So, how can we say there is no active threat?

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: Well, Margaret, we can never say there is no active threat. You know, there is always a baseline threat of a terrorist act in the United States. There is absolutely nothing we can do to change that fact. So, you can never say that there is zero risk.

What you can do is you can look at the period of time since 9/11, the tragic attack on 9/11, and say how many Americans have actually died in a terrorist attack engineered by foreigners. And the answer to that question is – is vanishingly small. Our people are very, very good, but you can never have zero risk of a terrorist attack.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you support a public hearing with the intelligence chiefs to lay out the facts as we know them? I know Director Wray said we are at the highest possible level of threat right now.

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: Yes, and, Margaret, look, I think it’s – it’s really important for people to keep this in context. That may true, and it’s probably true because the world is a more complicated place than it was ten years ago, in particular with the war in Israel and Gaza. We see every radical Islamic group from the Houthis to all the Iranian-backed proxies interested in doing things that they might not have wanted to do ten years ago. So, Director Wray may be right and, in fact, you know, I think our intelligence agencies and law enforcement are on alert in a way they haven’t been in a very long time.

And look, the Tajik story is a success story. They were arrested. They did not conduct a terrorist attack.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your Republican colleague, Mike Turner, was on this program a few weeks ago and he said, quote, “we have terrorists that are actively working inside the United States that are a threat to Americans.”

Is that an accurate characterization, and – and, if so, why now?

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: Well, I – the – the Tajik case is, as far as I know, the only case that we have been briefed on, on the Intelligence Committee of our intelligence community, our law enforcement community, following people that we think could be involved in a plot. I’m certainly not aware of other situations like that.

Now, it is almost certainly true, in a country of 350 million people, that there are some people out there who are thinking about undertaking acts of violence. We see a lot of violence in this country. Most of it is domestic. Most of it is – is not related to transnational terrorism.

But again, you asked earlier about a public hearing around the facts here.


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: And I didn’t answer it directly, so I’ll answer it directly right now. We’re probably not at that stage because of what we started talking about, which is the absolute necessity of law enforcement really understanding the full contours of that Tajik group and doing the work that they need to do, which is best done in secret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In terms of what’s happening and the connection to the southern border, President Biden said at the debate on Thursday, quote, “I’m not saying no terrorist ever got through.” So, he seems to be acknowledging this unknown element here.

Do you think the intelligence community has the resources they need right now to deal with the threat and the vulnerability at the border?

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: Of course a border in which people are entering, and we don’t know who they are, is a risk. No question about it. And I wish that we had seized the opportunity of the bipartisan bill, negotiated by Jim Langford and Chris Murphy –


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: A conservative Republican and a progressive Democrat, to actually do something about that. But Donald Trump said no. He said don’t do it, I want to run on this issue. So, I would have loved to have seen that get done.


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: But again, you know, people need to put this into context.


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: How many Americans have died in a terrorist attack by somebody who snuck across the southern border? The answer to that question is zero. So, resource allocation should the FBI, should the CIA be laser focused on the southern border, I don’t know. Clearly it is a risk and a vulnerability. But, you know, a lot of these plots we pick up because of our collection ability abroad.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you think the resources are adequate to intelligence collection abroad?

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: Well, I think if you had the head of the FBI or any of the people who were involved in this effort they would say we could really use more resources, right?


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: But one of the challenges we have that we haven’t talked about, Margaret, is remember that for a decade now, more than a decade, we’ve been talking about the pivot to China, right? China invading Taiwan is an outcome that is catastrophic in ten different dimensions.


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: If we’re serious about pivoting to Asia, if we’re serious about supporting the Ukrainian fight against Russia –


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: Inevitably, because we don’t have infinite resources, some things, like counterterrorism –


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: Are not going to get the full amount of resources that you would like.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Before I let you go, how do you think America’s foreign adversary’s viewed President Biden’s performance on Thursday night?

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: I suspect that, you know, pretty much everybody watched that debate and thought that the president did not perform the way we would have liked to have seen him perform.

However, I’ve spent time around three different presidents, Margaret, and I will tell you that the president’s job is enormously hard and involves all kinds of things, none of which are standing and doing a debate for 90 minutes on TV. The president’s job involves passing legislation. I would hope that people would compare this president’s record in that regard with the last president’s record. I think the president’s job involves setting the tone.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Being quick on your feet is kind of important to the job.

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: Well, yes. Yes. And again, I think he’s acknowledged, and the vice president acknowledged, that that was not the performance we were looking for. But I’m not so cynical as to believe that the American people are going to choose a president based on a 90 minute debate, rather than a four-year record of startling legislative achievements and of setting a tone that the rest of the world says, wow, you know, America is back to the decent leader that we used to believe that it was prior to the Trump administration.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman Himes, thank you for your time this morning.

We’ll be back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the executive director of the U.N. agency that helps disadvantaged children in the world’s toughest places. UNICEF’s Catherine Russell joins us from New York.

Good to speak with you again.

I know you’re just back from Sudan, which is the largest humanitarian crisis on the planet right now. What did you learn?

CATHERINE RUSSELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNICEF: Yes. I learned that it is a catastrophic situation for children there. And there are compounding crises. First, it’s the largest displacement crisis for children around the world. So many millions of children have moved either from their homes to neighboring countries, like South Sudan, Egypt, or Chad.

Many millions are moved inside Sudan to other places in the city trying to – or in the country trying to find some refuge. It’s also a huge challenge in terms of malnutrition. We have 4 million children who are severely malnourished. Almost – more than half a million of those children are severely acutely malnourished, which means that they really are on the verge of starvation. And then, shockingly, almost every child in Sudan has been out of school for the last year, which is incredibly destabilizing for them, for their future and certainly for the country as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes, 17 million children who are not in school.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Apart from the humanitarian concern here, I know the U.S. intelligence community has highlighted that Sudan could become a terrorist safe haven due to this ongoing civil war. What are the conditions like for those next generations?

CATHERINE RUSSELL: The conditions are absolutely terrible. I have to say, I was at a center that UNICEF supports where we were providing all sorts of services for children, education, which, you know, as we discussed, a horrific problem of them not being in school, trying to provide health care, providing psycho social support for children who are so traumatized. It’s just almost hard to imagine.

It’s also – it’s just such a desperate place in so many ways. They are so – you’ve they’ve been so traumatized by so much violence and they’ve seen things that no child should ever see. And that’s really something that long term is hard to imagine how they get over it.

Having said that, we are there. We’re working hard. We are getting to these children. But this ongoing conflict makes it almost impossible to provide a decent future for these kids.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A little closer to home in Haiti, I know this past week the first U.N.-backed foreign law enforcement forces from eight different countries arrived. This is part of a U.S. supported effort.

How quickly do you think that will make a difference for the children there?

CATHERINE RUSSELL: Well, I will say, hopefully it will be quick because the children there – I mean, honestly, I feel like I’m sort of a broken record when I tell you how bad it is in so many places. But Haiti is really challenging because there’s so much violence. I was shocked by what I saw when I was there several months ago. So many children who have seen violence directly, who have experienced violence, high, high rates of sexual violence. So, it’s been incredibly important to try to stabilize that situation.

I think this is the first step. It’s going to take a lot of work, I think, to get it done, but at least we’ll start to see some semblance, hopefully, of some security, which will make it easier for us to operate, but also give these children some prospect for a decent future that isn’t defined by violence and hunger, which is, unfortunately, what we’re seeing now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the U.S. remains the largest donor to many of these humanitarian causes I know.

There was one rare piece of good news this past week in the Middle East. I read 21 children with cancer were permitted to be medically evacuated from Gaza. This was the first evacuation since May. Why is it so hard to get sick children out?

CATHERINE RUSSELL: Yes. I’ll say this. You know, everything in Gaza is hard. It’s just the most challenging environment for us to work in, I have to say. I think that, you know, the main problem is a lack of security, and that makes it difficult for the children who live there. They’ve been displaced so many times. So many children have multiple times moved, trying to seek refuge, trying to get away from the bombardments. I think it’s incredibly challenging. We know – we continue to see that we’re on the verbal of famine there. So, children – it basically – it just means they don’t really know where their next meal is coming from.

They also have not been in school, right? So, it’s an incredibly challenging place for children. And I think, you know, it is great to find some shred of – shred of good news. And, you know, when you think about it, you forget, in these humanitarian situations, the humanitarian crisis is so devastating that you forget that there are routine problems that children face, right? They’re not getting their vaccines. They’re not getting treatment for things like cancer or other sort of routine diseases and challenges that children all over the world face. So, getting some of these kids out of there has been, as you say, a bright spot.

But I think overall we continue to see real challenges in our ability to operate there. We need to get that situation sorted out so that children have some prospect, and I think this applies to all three of the situations you’ve talked about, children are the future. We talk about that all the time. But what does that mean if we don’t give them a future, if we don’t make sure that they have some – some prospect of hope.


CATHERINE RUSSELL: And I think it’s incumbent upon all of the adults in the world to come together and to do better by these children.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I couldn’t agree more with you on that.

Director Russell, thank you very much.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Nearly half of the countries in the world will hold elections in 2024. And today, French citizens cast ballots in a snap parliamentary election. French President Emmanuel Macron made the surprising decision to hold it after his centrist party was trounced by the far right in the recently European elections. It signals once again the uncertainty about the political changes ahead.


MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): President Macron called his shock decision a test of truth. The rising floodwaters of the far right, as Macron put it, cannot be ignored. With a call to stop the migration, this man, 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, may become France’s next prime minister. With a platform promising to crack down on crime and restrict citizenship and rights for foreign residents, his national rally party is poised to potentially win a parliamentary majority.

The party, led by Marie Le Pen, and founded by her Holocaust-denying father, has renounced its anti-Semitic past, but for years has rallied on anti-Muslim rhetoric and described migrants as threatening, particularly to women.

Macron, who will remain as president for another three years, warned that the far right risks sparking a civil war.

And in Germany, police broke up protests this weekend outside the AFT, or Alternative for Germany Convention. That far right party pulled off its best performance ever in European parliamentary elections, worrying Chancellor Olaf Schultz, and moving one of AFD’s leaders, Bjorn Hocke, from the fringe to the fore. Hocke said he deplores the Nazis but he’s led chants of their slogans at this rallies, which landed him back in court this past week since German law bans the use of Nazi phrases.

The AFD party advocate for tough deportation policies, is suspicious of climate change and the government response to Covid. Waves of migrants, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Africa have been fleeing to Germany since Europe’s 2015 refugee crisis.

Earlier this month, this viral video of dancing young Germans chanting “foreigners out” caused outrage.

Despite these emerging trend lines in Europe, it appears the center did hold in those parliamentary elections, at least for now. Center right Ursula von der Leyen is expected to remain European commission president.

But this Monday, Hungary takes over the rotating presidency of the European council, and Prime Minister Viktor Orban has promised to, quote, “make Europe great again.” The slogan a nod to his friend Donald Trump.

With the far right still ascendent in parts of Europe, it has left some to wonder if America is any less immune. And leaves open the question of what happens next when democracies elect leaders who flirt with anti-democratic tendencies.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s it for us today. Thank you all for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.

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