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tv   Face the Nation  CBS  March 25, 2019 1:30am-2:00am PDT

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"face the nation." we return now to our panel. there is so much to digest and yet so little known, paul lark about what is actually in this report. you know, a lot has been made, as you heard, from some of the president's defenders about the idea there were no further indictments recommended. does that mean the question of criminality has been closed on here? >> it's great news for anyone in the trump tower meeting. specifically jared kushner and donald trump, jr., because while that clearly looked like an intelligence operation on the part of the russian, it was unclear whether or not anyone in there had committed a crime by showing up. so paul manafort should have known better, but it was an open question about donald trump, jr., and jared kushner. the current justice department does in the believe a sitting
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president can be indicted, so now the question is what if anything will this president, because if mueller found any evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of the president, he would pass that off to the attorney general, and then it's up to him. what do you do to that information? do you pass it off to congress for possible impeachment proceedings? you know as well as anyone barr has a broad definition of executive power some he may be more willing to defer to the president on questions of possible obstruction of justice. that's the question we don't have an answer to right now and why i don't think you're seeing your champagne corks popping at the white house, even though the president, of course, doesn't drink. >> brennan: but he does tweet, and we have seen nothing on the twitter feed yet, jonathan, about this, which up until now the president has said this is all a hoax, like there's nothing really to trust in this probe. but if there are no further indictments recommended, does he -- how does he handle this relationship with his essential ly... the lawyer for the country, the attorney general who works for him and the american people? >> well, bill barr will do
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exactly what he thinks the law commands. i have known him for years. he's someone who is not -- you're not able to push him in any direction. he is built like a linebacker. he it will gaits like a linebacker. he will do what he thinks the law requires. the fact there are no indictments coming out really does suggest that there was no collusion-related crime, because even though you can't indict the president, you can certainly indict other people, and you can't collude alone. he can tweet alone, but he can't collude alone. so that may, in fact, be a vindication. but that only takes you so far. this report, if it gets out, could have a lot of damaging information. you don't want to be like "guys and dolls," 33 arrests and no convictions. that's not a powerful argument for the president to make. >> brennan: you heard from congressman schiff. he's drawing this line saying, you could have still seen conspiracy but it didn't rise to the level of being able to indict. >> well, i think that...
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>> brennan: so will the president ever be able to clear himself essentially? >> let's not fool ourselves. most people will read the lead, if it comes out that no collusion was found, for most people that vindicates the president of the united states. this is as close as d.c. gets to an organized sport, but for the rest of the country, that will look at that lead. he has said there is no collusion. if mueller agrees with him, it will vindicate him in the eyes of a lot of the citizens. >> brennan: how do democrats die jetion this? >> i can't wait to see. it runs the gamet from those who have been under the impression that he will get off scot-free to some sense of there will be other things we need to investigate and justifiably so. what i found interesting this past week, there was a poll from cnn that found 68% of democrats support impeachment. that's a high number, nearly seven in ten, but it's down 12 points from december when it was 80% of democrats believed that. why has that happened? was it because nancy pelosi has
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convinced him that he's not worth it. is it because they are reading all our coverage and realizing maybe there isn't that much there and we should focus on other things? or is it the realization that what worked for them in november, focusing on health care, the economy, education and other issues and not donald trump got them into office, got them back the house majority, and might eventually help them win the white house? we'll see. >> brennan: you heard from speaker pelosi this decision she made that she says she will boycott this gang of eight, the key members of congress who are supposed to be or are expected to be briefed by the attorney general on the findings, and that would include more information that's been made public. what is the point of boycotting the briefing? >> democrats have made very clear that transparency is going to be their entire strategy here. we don't know what the report says. we know principle findings alone is not going to be enough. i do think it is interesting that the call for transparency is coming from across the political spectrum, although their motivations are very, very difficult. -- different. democrats say, there is reasonable doubt in a courtroom.
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there is political standard by which congress might want to continue to pursue. republicans i think, to jonathan's point, they see this as a potential to clear the president at least in political terms in the eyes of the public. so as much as they can get out in those competing prospects. for nancy pelosi, i don't think she wants to be in a position whether she is known she's gone into a meeting with bill barr and knows what has been in that and can't talk about it. in some ways i can see it's self-preservation on her part to say, anything you will tell me, i want all of these members to know, too. i do think more broadly, politics, yes. but this report, and at the core of it, is something that the public really does have a right to know. and as much transparency as possible. a lot of lawmakers i talk to say they want the public to know it so they can feel confident in their elections. >> hakeem jeffries head the point, 420-0 the house called on the justice department to release the full report. nobody went home, got a town hall and got yelled at for voting yes. the public wants to see it.
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it could be cathartic. the other thing, i talked to chris coons of delaware, he makes a solid point that the justice department has done what it has done legally. congress has the right and the expectation to do what it's going to do politically and constitutionally to oversee this government. whether people like that or not. the question will be in the tone and the focus of those investigations. do they go after the raw material because they're convinced that there's something in there that merits more investigation, or do they just step back and say, look, there's all these other issues, the trump hotel, he keeps drawing money from, that he could be violating the emoluments clause, the e.p.a., decisions made by the pentagon and the state department regarding foreign affairs, if they focus in on that kind of transparency and accountability, they may emerge from that okay because the american public will realize they're just looking at the rest of the government and doing their job. >> brennan: certainly no one wants to vote against transparency, but let me try to argue the other side, which is traditionally in this country you can be investigated by law
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enforcement, if they are not charged, they don't want that evidence hanging over you. many people have argued, what about the public interest? is there any investigation where there was ever such significant public interest? well, yes, let's look at the investigation into secretary clinton's use of a private server. comey erred on the side of transparency? how did that work out? every word he uttered was pawrsed and weaponized for political purpose, not just against her but also against the f.b.i. and the justice department. it was used to undermine the legitimacy of the entire organization. every single word, every adjective. who advised him on that? clearly they weren't being serious. i think you really have to contemplate the merit of releasing evidence of people who have not been criminally charged. >> is that rosenstein's reason for holding back? >> i think that's part of his philosophy. remember, that's the one who wrote a memo supporting comey's firing. a lot going on. there but this is someone who has been consistent in terms of not releasing these so-called
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declanation decisions. not releasing the reason behind not charging someone. in doing that you air evidence against someone who has not been charged. >> brennan: and privately republicans repeat what you said, this is a dangerous precedent to set, though publicly they challenge and champion transparency. but legally here, what are the next steps? and on this question of obstruction, you heard congressman jordan say, no, no, no, this is all about collusion. anything else in here is outside the special counsel's mandate. >> obviously it was not outside the mandate. the mandate was expanded. >> brennan: exactly. >> the problem for donald trump is if he is cleared of collusion, and maybe even obstruction by the special counsel, who won't clear him as orb o jupiter, andn't find anao you still have to go through the asteroid belt. there are now 100 different investigations that are going to hit you. they're smaller, but there are more of them.
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you have to be more nimble. that means he has to have greater self-restraint. it doesn't help when you saw congressman jeffries. you get a glimpse of what's coming. jeffries talked about, look, four options here. either he's a russian mole, a useful idiot. i forget the other ones a through d, there was no e, except all the above. e could be he didn't commit these crime, but you know thinks that's not on the list, and that's going to be what we'll see coming out. >> brennan: the knowingly part. not that the russian interference is in question, but that the president knowingly colluded, coordinated, conspired. >> he might not have committed a crime. i guess we're in the process of grieving from denial to acceptance, but it is possible the president kid not commit a crime. >> that seems most likely. we have no evidence that i have seen that the president has committed a crime. you know very well, once you get into obstruction of justice, a lot of that will fall on the attorney general's interpretation of what that means. he has a pretty deferential definition of what executive powers entail, specifically when
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it comes to firing your f.b.i. director. >> brennan: but that's not necessarily involving anything in the southern district. >> right. and the southern district should concern the president. that's a whole other can of worms. he's being investigated, not only his business, his inauguration fund, and these outstanding questions about campaign finance violations. you have michael cohen cooperating in that case. and it's easy to impeach michael cohen's credibility, but you also have a.m.i., the publisher of the national queenier and its chairman and c.e.o., david pecker. that's a case where the president has been directly implicated as individual one. it should concern the president. i think that his toolbox that he's used quite effectively to not wo w southernl counsel may district. >> brennan: what does a bombshell look like if that is a benchmark for impeachment? >> for... if you look at the standard that nancy pelosi has said, anything would have to be overwhelming and bipartisan, and anything that could get overwhelming and bipartisan support, if you think about how pollerrized the congress and the country, is would have to be something that correctly
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implicates the president. that's such a high bar. i do think politically speaking when you look at the democrats, how much political weight they have put into the mueller report over the past 22 months, every question about impeachment, oversight of this administration, see what mueller says. what if mueller says that the president didn't commit any crimes? then i do think that takes a lot of the air out of the balloon of democrats. as they pursue this oversight of this investigation, do they have the political risk of looking like they're on a witch hunt. >> the southern district of new york already said the campaign finance crime by michael cohen was committed with one other person, who was that? he said i was ordered to do this by donald trump. it looks a little odd for the southern district to say, he committed a crime, but this guy didn't. so what could be dangerous is if there comes out a finding that he could be indicted on that issue, but it would have to wait -- the statue of limitations might extend beyond 2020. >> brennan: that takes us into a whole other conversation, but we have to leave it there. thank you, all of you, for helping to make sense of.
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this i know it's complicated and confusing for a lot of people, including awe of us at times. so we will await more detail from the actual report. but we will come back with a different story, a look at the future of isis. for comfort food at a comfortable price, try my sourdough patty melt combo with fries and a drink for just $4.99. it's the perfect remedy for the uncomfortable things in life... like flying, the dentist ...and guys named ronald. i have my reasons. try my $4.99 sourdough patty melt combo today.
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years-long effort to put an end to the terror group. retired marine corps general john allen was once the special envoy to the coalition to defeat the group under president obama. he's now president of the brookings institution. good to have you here. >> it's good see you again, margaret. >> brennan: do we call this victory? >> i think it's a way point in the process of eliminating this threat. we saw that this organization would eventually become a three-headed monster, if you will. one of those heads was the core of the organization in iraq and syria. another is the provincial dimension of it today, which is seen in multiple locations around the world. and the third area is located on the internet. so i think that there has been significant progress in eliminating one of the principle dimensions of this threat. i have to tell you, in the last 48 hours, as i have seen the final operations unfolding in syria, my thought goss back to the thousands and thousands of people who suffered from this incredible, abhorrent terror group, but also the thousands
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who sacrificed their lives to deliver us to this point. i understand that even a news crew hit an i.e.d. coming out of the celebration. so the sacrifices of our media in covering it, as well, very important i think to this whole process. >> brennan: i think that's a great point for you to underscore. i want to ask you, the president's language has changed in the past few days. he has declared victory and said he needs to be given credit for it, but he also pointed that there is still going to be a threat online. in fact, he said, well, on occasion these cowards will resurface. they have lost all prestige and power. they're losers and will always be losers. is the internet the real battlefield? >> no, there is plenty of fighting still to go on. even in the area that we call the province or core isil where the caliphate was at its strongest. >> brennan: the threat is not gone on on the ground in syria? >> no. there are still thousands of folks unaccounted for. what i think we'll see in both
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iraq and syria in the months to come will be extensive mopup operations to try to eliminate those elements that have gone underground, that will organize in sleeper cells and so on to continue the attack. they have not given up one iota of their narrative or their obligations or their objectives. we're going to see that -- we have to eliminate that threat on the ground, and we'll see continued operations not just there, but if you do a connection of the dots of where the provinces of dash, dash being the arabic acronym, they're clustered. bocaboko haram is a dash provin. abu sayyaf in the philippines is a dash province. if you see the cluster of attacks, this is a virulent and dangerous group, as well as being on the internet. >> brennan: on the ground in the so-called caliphate in iraq and syria, the top u.s. commander in the middle east testified recently. he said fighters remain
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unrepentant, unbroken, radicalized. this is a generational problem, they're melting away. 400 u.s. service people will be left in syria. is that an adequate number to take on that threat? >> well, first, general votel is exactly correct. he's one of the greatest soldiers in the united states, number one. number two, the forces that were there were overseeing the final operations of the s.d.f., the kurds and the arabs we've been support ?oog the 2,000 the prereferred to. >> that's correct. those forces, their mission was not over for some period of time. eventually we bring them home, and the president is right to want to bring them home, but they were overseeing the essential next phase of this, which is the stabilization of the population. that's been happening through the coalition and our allies. the critical point about what general votel is saying here is if you don't stabilize the
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population and eliminate the basic human causal factors that makes an organization like dash attractive, then we face the potential for a reflash. >> brennan: that's something president trump says he's not interested in doing. >> that's a problem. are we prepared to go back and fight again? we've been in iraq now twice. once we came out too early, and the second time we went back because we didn't finish the job. >> brennan: and baghdadi is still at large. your prediction is? >> we'll get him. >> brennan: not long. on another topic, this week some memos became public from the marine commandant robert neller. he describes the current deployment to the u.s. border, we're talking here at home, as really hurting and posing a "unacceptable risk to marine corps combat readiness and solvency." before secretary of defense mattis resigned, he said these deployments were actually kind of good practice. he said they were very good
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training. which is it? should we be concerned our military resources are being used in this way? >> it's both actually. the wise commander, and i would simply say federal force, don't normally deploy inside the united states. that's the first unusual dimension of this. but the wise commander who is ordered to deploy those forces is going to try to make the most out of that deployment and try to get a decent training return on that measure. but general neller is a great marine. he's been a great commandant. he's assessed and i his moral responsibility to provide best military advice to the senior civilian leadership of the uns cos associat wh the deployments will be paid for in marine corps readiness. marine conforms is the nation's 911 force. it has to be ready to go at a t drop of a hat. if we're stuck on a border or if our resources are being drained on the border or the provide for
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infrastructure development on the border, we pay that price in the readiness of the 911 force. >> brennan: that is quite a warning. thank you. we'll be right back.
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>> brennan: yesterday an explosive device detonated near the nbc news team reporting in syria, killing a local employee working with them. it is a tragic reminder of the challenges that reporters face when reporting on conflicts abroad. as the fight against isis takes a new turn, cbs news correspondent charlie d'agata and his team report for us on what it's been like covering the final push against isis in syria. >> reporter:s up to the cliffside overlooking isis, we were given strict instructions. >> they don't want any light facing the otherside, otherwise we will be exposed. >> reporter: no sooner had the producer said those words than we came under fire. >> it's coming in. >> reporter: those are bullets raining in overhead. there's fire coming in over that ridge. do we really want to go? apparently new york we don't, wasn't an option, so on we went.
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[gunfire] below, one prevailingburning thought was, how on earth did we get here? we had been covering the final fight against isis since early january. it should have been no surprise that the militant groups rein of terror over ten million people was never going to end easily or quickly, but nobody imagined our home would become a military based run by the u.s.-backed syrian democratic forces for nearly three months. pretty austere. one of the biggest challenges for producer steve berryman was trying to get any communications out. nights were bitterly cold, at times just hovering around freezing. our only source of heat was the fire we kept burning. but over time we managed to make life a bit more bearable. this is a lot better than it was. when we first got here, the floors were filthy, so they've all been cleaned. and we brought some beds in here
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and some pretty horrible mattresses, but they'll do for as long as we're going to be here. we didn't want to burden our hosts, so we brought in our own food, which, thanks to producer aaron lyle and carl taylor on security wasn't all that bad. >> pasta with tuna. charlie, you ready? >> reporter: with no running water, showers had to be improvised. >> who wants it next? it's pretty awesome. >> reporter: as the fight against isis proved further south, so did we. we just entered baghouz, the last foothold, if you want to call it that, of isis, where they have been fighting for weeks to try to push isis fighters and militants back. this is as close as we've ever got to isis. actually, it's as close as i've ever gotten in this conflict. it doesn't exactly fill me with confidence. a day spent avoiding snipe on
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the front line with soldiers stretched into night. we had no choice but to sleep outside, driving further back at that time of night was deemed even riskier than staying put. >> morning. >> reporter: camera man abdi khada ni freshened up. >> awful. >> reporter: did you sleep at all? >> no. i kept thinking someone was going to walk up and shoot us. >> reporter: really? i wasn't worried about that. it's the air strikes. rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat. there were a lot of air strikes. soon we were on the move again. we returned to that cliff overlooking baghouz just as the fighting was coming to an end. it seemed somehow fitting that a terror group that had wreaked such brutality should face a final humiliating deeat the here
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in a scrap heap in a no-name town. and we had seen it all to the bitter end. >> brennan: we're thankful to report that charlie and his team have made it safely out of syria and are headed home. we spend our deepest condolences to our colleagues at nbc news as they mourn the loss
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>> brennan: that's it for us today. thank you for watching. until next week, for "face the nation," i'm margaret brennan. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh - [announcer] this program is a paid presentation
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