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tv   Face the Nation  CBS  March 12, 2018 2:00am-2:30am PDT

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>> brennan: welcome back to "face the nation". the i am margaret brennan and we are back with our panel of national security experts. michael morell is cbs news senior national security contributor, jim pack is a senior fellow at the brookings institute and david sanger, of course is a national security correspondent for "the new york times". i want to start with you, do you think these talks will actually happen, north korea has been silent since president trump accepted the ini have taitionz. >> right. i think it is an excellent point is that we haven't heard anything from north korea that these talks have actually been offered or that any concessions or so-called concessions have been offered. all of this is coming secondhand from the south koreans, who have an interest in making sure that the north korea and u.s. talks happen. so with that said, north korea is keeping mum and i am not surprised about that, given,
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given the maximum flexibility on their next moves. and i am sure that kim is monitoring all of the discussions and debate going on in washington about whether president trump should have accepted this offer. the. >> do you think this was a bluff, possibly? >> i don't know that it is a bluff but i can see kim jong-un dangling the possibility of -- or its willingness to meet with the president and then being surprised. so i wouldn't be surprised if we see some policy dysfunction, from north korea or delayed reaction or response from north korea as a result. >> brennan: and, david, you have covered this before. it is not the first time an american president has been issued an invitation to pyongyang or to meet with north korean leaders, it is the first time we know of that they said yes, though. >> that's right. that's why i think it is so interesting, when director pompeo says that president trump had already accomplished more than any past president. and i think on this the director with all due respect was probably just wrong, and
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president clinton reached an agreement in 1994 that lasted for about six years, but suspended all of their production of nuclear material. the president was offered, president clinton was offered a chance to go to north korea about missiles and in the end he sent secretary of state madeleine albright. that deal fell apart. president bush had two different sets of agreements with the north koreans, both of those worked for a while, but then also fell apart. so it is a little early for a victory lap here. but i do think that the director has had a very interesting barrier for president trump today, when he said that this really has to be in response to your question, the stronger than the iran deal. and the iran deal, let's remember what happened. >> brennan: he is a big critic of that deal. >> he was a big critic of that deal and the president has been a big critic of that deal. the iranians gave up 97 percent of their nuclear material. they stopped running and
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dismantled some of their nuclear facilities there are a lot of reasons to be chris critical of the fact that the agreement doesn't last forever and it expires starting in the 10 years and then pieces of it expire in 15 years but the fact of the matter is, if you get that out of north korea, the president would be taking a very big victory lap. >> brennan: it is a pretty high benchmark to set, mike. >> i think in terms of margaret thinking about what the best out comes would be here and the worst out comes i think the best outcome is if they meet and they set, agreed on a set of principles by which negotiations would continue at a lower level. >> brennan: that was secretary of state's tillerson's proposal. >> right i think that is the best outcome. the worst outcome two of them, right? one of the worst out comes is a breakdown, is that the meeting doesn't go well and they are sniping at each a other afterwards because where do you two from there, right? that's the danger here. the other worst outcome is if we take the pressure off in some
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way and if we give some sorgs of sanctions relief for something not very significant, right? those are the two worst out comes. >> brennan: jim, one of, you know, the criticisms is that you do want at the presidential summer mitt at the end not the beginning of negotiation and they have said kim jong-un is the only person worth negotiating in north korea because me is an absolute dictator, so it is a unique policy but is it the wrong approach? >> so i will leave it up to the experts on the policy makers on the policy, but i think that because president trump has already said yes to this meeting, if it happens, this meeting is too big to fail. and i see multiple dimensions of risk. is, one, if kim jong-un and donald trump don't get along, you heard director pompeo say that donald trump wants to resolve this issue. michael morell, i think, has correctly identified kim jong-un's confidence, so if you have two confident leaders coming to the table demanding
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things of each other they are not going to get along. but the other side is, if they do get along and somehow donald trump, mr. trump is -- thinks he is getting a win from kim jong-un, and that we have this convergence of u.s. president who is suspicious of alliances in general, that he might be willing to trade away the alliance for some sort of win for the united states, such as no each cbms, for example, so the ways -- there are different risks but i think it is all in our interest for this meeting to succeed. the ranks of the state department are thin right now, that's well-known so who should be leading the negotiations here? >> i think it has to be somebody, if this person doesn't already -- isn't already in position, it has to be a special envoy with the explicit confidence of a white house and the president himself to either run the advance team to make sure that kim jong-un actually
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says what he is reported to have said, and -- >> brennan: this is all secondhand through -- >> and to manage the process after the fact, after the summit, if it happens. >> brennan: david, this is all through the south korean telling of what happened during this dinner, four hour dinner pyongyang last week. i mean, is that -- it certainly struck me as unusual that an official would make announcement of the president's schedule. how do you sort of digest what seems to be a decision without a policy process? >> well, first of all, that wouldn't be the first time in the trump administration that we saw that happen. what you might have expected is that president trump would have heard this, said let's go back and confirm this, do some of the back channel work that secretary tillerson has said he has developed with the north koreans to confirm the north koreans are offering exactly what the south koreans said they were offering and then try to figure out the
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modality in which you do this. i think if you looked at the photographs that were taken in the oval office when the president was meeting with south korean delegation, it seemed to me that when he said he would go ahead and do this, he was surprising his secretary of defense and his national security advisor. yes. pretty clearly. >> brennan: put them on the spot. >> and certainly surprised secretary of state who was traveling in africa at the time. that gets you to the next big question on this, which is, has the president thought very much about what the united states is willing to give up in these negotiations? because if we have learned anything from them, and we have covered the iran negotiations for a long time, there is a lot the u.s. is going to have to give here. if kim jong-un is actually willing to denuclearize, that they be worth a lot, but we also know that the north koreans have made it very clear they never plan to denuclearize, and what they do plan to do, they say, is to be regarded as a nuclear
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power. so we would have to think hard. would we be willing to pull all of our troops out of south korea, would w we be willing to stop all of the exercises that have gone on over the years? that could get the at this erosion of the alliance that everybody is so worried about. >> brennan: so the south koreans, you would say might need to be in the room, the japanese do, they need to be in the room? can this be just director u.s. and north korea? >> i think for the negotiation should include the south koreans, the japanese, the chinese, the russians, right? they all need to be a part of this. it is just very, very important to keep our alliance structure together, the south koreans and the japanese o not only becausef north korea but because of china as well, we have japan that got slapped twice this week on aluminum and steel once and then on being surprised on this meeting between president trump and kim jong-un. it is an extraordinarily
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important relationship. it has to be managed, it wasn't managed this week. >> brennan: and the u.s. not only, hitting i hitting if japah those tariffs and south korea and there is a free trade deal discussion that is not really going very far either, i mean, are there already cracks in this alliance? >> i think alliance management is pretty difficult to do and i think even the 0 national priorities of the united states and with south korea there are bound to be cracks and fissures in the relationship. with that said it doesn't look good when we are dealing with the north korea situation and the president is talking about trade. >> brennan: all right. we have to leave it there. but i am sure we are going to be talking much more about this over the coming months, particularly if we see that meeting in may. meeting in may. we will be right back with our political panel. >> [crowd 1] hey, you're on fire! [mascot] you bet i am! [crowd 2] dude, you're on fire! [mascot] oh, yeah! [crowd 3] no, you're on fire!
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>> brennan: and a now for some political analysis. michael is a "washington post" columnist and a contributor to the atlantic. molly ball is a national political correspondent for time magazines and susan glass search the chief international affairs columnist at politico. we would like to welcome shannon petty piece to the be broadcast as well, a white house correspondent for bloomberg news. shannon, let's start off with you. the president softened a little bit on the trade wars this week, took canada and mexico off the hit list for now when it comes steel and aluminum tariffs. is there an actual wiggle room on this or is the policy decided? >> i think there is wiggle room and republicans on congress are
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doing everything they can to wiggle as much within that room as possible. very strong language coming out from even some of trump's most consistent defenders, or ren hatch saying he doesn't think these tariffs are a good idea, jeff flake is getting seth set to introduce legislation that, legislate that would nullify these and they have enough democrats on board this could be one of the rare moments where democrats and republicans could come together, because they see the economic consequences of this being so cat tropic for parts of the economy. >> to override a presidential veto? >> possibly, yes, we were asking people about that, i mean there are some democrats in the rust belt that tim ryans of the world that support the steel industry and see that as a big area, i don't know specifically his area on this but in the rust belt areas, but a lot of other democrats who do see the economic consequences of this being very damaging. >> molly, does trade become an election issue in the midterms? >> it is possible, i mean, you saw the president campaigning
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yesterday in one of the states where it is a very big election issue, i have spent a lot of time in central pennsylvania, western pennsylvania where this is a big deal, and i think that, you know, trump's political advisors believe this is a key part of his political appeal in 2016, and the reason that he was able to flip those so-called blue wall states of the rust belt, the industrial midwest. there is a powerful political appeal to this tariffs issue, republican policy makers are pretty much uniformly set against it, republican voters are not, and republican leaning independent voters in states like pennsylvania, michigan, wisconsin, the trade deal was in the republican primary one of trump's biggest differences with the other candidates in that field, because he sensed, i think, correctly as, you know, ross per rot did before him and pat buchanan there is a constituency even among republican voters for tariffs. >> and michael, the president said last week, ronald reagan wasn't good on trade. >> yes. >> ronald reagan is an icon
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typically for republicans. >> yes. he doesn't respect icons in a way. i think that this is revealing in an entirely different way. i mean republicans rarely have come together 107 of them to resist a president's policy on this. but when you look at all of the previous provocations where they might be critical of the president, it is tariffs, it is not misogyny, it is not, you know, nativism and racism, it reveals something about the republican party that this is their red line. >> it is aluminum. >> exactly. >> gary cohn stayed in place after charlotteville but he quit over this. >> what do you think it reveals? thathat it is purely about econc policy when it comes to -- >> talked about the order of the loves, is this is the order of their loves. what they dearly value in life and i think that is a serious problem for republicans. they need to show some passion
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for recovery in the future on some other issues that in resisting the trump agenda. you have written a bit as well in terms of flipping the script on the republican agenda, the change towards russia and how this has somehow become a partisan issue. >> well, that's right. it used to be just as republicans were the bedrock party of free trade if there is one thing we knew that was a consensus of the republican party on, it was free trade, the same thing was true on the hawkishness toward russia which generally prevailed and persisted through the end of the cold war and now you look at the public opinion surveys and basically because the party's banner bearer donald trump has changed his view in 2016 the public electorate changed their view in an astonishly short period of time, so this coming weekend, he will be out for his token reelection and already the longest serving russian leader since josef stalin, now he has the prospect of six more years, you have -- today as we are
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having this conversation that in -- is now basically rubber stamped as a leader for life in china, they are eliminating term limits on their leadership today, these two significant geopolitical things are happening in the context of a person presidency this week we see more clearer than any other it is a presidency as someone in my household said a presidency of one, and, you know, you see him shedding advisors, unclear whether he is listening to the counsel of others and i think that goes to the politics of the republican party doesn't really know what it stands for anymore under president trump. >> brennan: and you recently interviewed senator jim establish who would take control of the senate foreign commit fee if he does what he says he is going to do and step down and that leaves some oversight at least for foreign policy somewhat unchecked in your description of your conversation with him. >> well, i think this underscores what we are talking about, you have basically
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republican president deeply uncomfortable, at least on capitol hill with many of the president's policy positions, whether it is his favorable comments towards -- 0 or whether jettisoning of the party's traditional free trade stamp, and yet the political imperatives, they are afraid to directly channel him, it is interesting some of them are speaking out on trade, and i think that is what i came away thinking the future chairman of the foreign relations committee doesn't really agree with the president on many of these foreign policy issuesness and yet his articulated goal for the committee would be not to criticize and stand up to him the way bob corker has. >> brennan: michael i want to ask you, you just wrote an in-depth piece about sort of the struggle within -- as you see it, the search for the soul of the evangelical movement in many ways. you say they have lost their interest in decency. what do you think evangelicals who support president trump make of this stormy daniels scanned scandallal? >> i think it is height of
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hypocrisy and we saw it with roy moore as well, it is any other democratic president had been guilty of what is alleged in these cases, the evangelicals would be, you know, off the reservation. this is a case where their morality seems to be determined by their politics. and they sees to be moral leaders in that sense. it was a tough choice for many evangelicals between hillary clinton and the president, and i understand that, but they have been the most psycho fant -- ic element of the republican coalition which is unnecessary. they have not provided that moral judgment that i think he venue our politics or i think should he venue our politics, i did this piece on the atlantic they are betraying the great tradition, evangelicals have been a good tradition and now they are really undermining that reputation of their faith.
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>> brennan: but in that judgment, you are saying the transactional part of this relationship isn't worth the trade-off? >> well, they are acting like, you know, slimy political operatives, not moral leaders. they are essentially saying in order to get benefits for themselves in a certain way, they talk about religious liberty and other issues, but to get benefits for themselves, they are willing to wink at stormy daniels and wink at misogyny and wink at nativism and that, i think is deeply discrediting not just in a political sense but actually in a moral and religious sense. >> brennan: i think a lot of people don't really know what to make of this scandal. it seems sordid but now we are talking about it sort of bleeding into questions about campaign finance and further legal issues for the president whose position has simply been none of this ever happened, it is all made up. >> well, he can say that, but that doesn't make it go away. and i do think that we have seen this scandal have surprising
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staying power because of the legal issues involved. if it were simply yet another woman accusing donald trump of improper behavior which he certainly is not the first, although in this case what is being alleged is a consensual extramarital affair, not as in some other cases a form of harassment, in this case, though, there is this legal the arbitration, this legal contract between the president's lawyer and stormy daniels which the white house acknowledged this week exists and is still going through an arbitration process, and then there is this campaign finance technicality, although i think it is quite questionable whether that would actually be assessed by a court but you do have these issues where because the president through his lawyer allegedly went to great lengths to try to silence this story and cover up this alleged affair that this is not going to go away. >> brennan: shannon, switching topics, the white house is
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expected today to announce some form of proposal when it comes to gun safety and school safety. do you know what it is they are putting forward? >> there are two things that appear that they have been consistent on, school safety, certainly, additional resources for school safety, arming teachers, as controversial as it is they have heard all the talking points for and against it, that is still an issue, they are sticking with and what we can expect not to be in there is any sort of assault weapons ban, any sort of ban on ar-15s, anything that really the pro gun regulation camp would like to see. so probably a little bit more than what the nra would like but certainly not as far as democrats would like a and as we started the beginning of this conversation it did seem like at one point the president was moving more towards the left on these issues, of course, there is that a famous lunch with the nra and since then we have seen a back walking of a lot of this. >> i actually think this goes
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back to the tariff issue because what republican in congress and elsewhere are used to seeing trump do is say something that goes against their long time policy predilection, say oh we are going to take on the nra and then not do it so in policy terms they have been comfortable they could talk him down off the ledge of whatever nonconservative thing his instincts were heading him in the direction of on tariffs they thought they could do the same thing, the president would promise all kind of things and then they would be able to walk him back and i think we are still seeing that process play out where they still think they are carve out enough exemptions to this announced tariff the president doesn't actually do something that bothers conservatives. >> well and of course republicans will have to say at the end of the day because it is up to mitch mcconnell to actually bring something to the floor and even something as simple as bump stocks, once you put that on the floor it opens pandora's box and a whole lot of amendments and things can come out. >> we acknowledge the justice department came out coming forward they are trying to move forward with that sort of executive action to ban bump stocks. >> susan, this announcement on
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north korea seemed to over shadow everything else that happened during what was already kind of a rocky week with tariffs, stormy daniels, with all of the rest. this is the president putting himself out an limb, out on a limb by doing this or a strategic way of chaip changing the topic. >> strategic way may not be the right word but if you want to know what the trump presidency is like and could be even more like in the future, this week is an incredible example of that. i was going in over in my head before this conversation, all of the things that happened, it was only at the beginning of this week when president trump told us there is no chaos in his white house, only great energy. and we thought that the prospect of a trade war was going to be the.com dominant story it hasn't gone away just because we are not talking about it as much. we saw the stormy daniels story, we thought that would be a dominant narrative, and the mueller investigation and there is the real question of what this internal disruption in the white house and the lack of senior staff is really going to mean going forward. in my view, this is, you know,
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trump seems very happy with where he is at, right? he seems like this is the white house that he wants. he doesn't want to be managed, he doesn't want to be constrained. he wants it to be all about him at all times. if he changes the subject, he wants us to run along right behind him. >> brennan: and we are. >> we are. >> brennan: and we will be right back. >>
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>> brennan: that's it for us today. thanks for watching. until next week, for "face the nation", i am margaret brennan. >> captioning sponsored by cbs ♪ look into the sky for a momentary high, ♪ ♪ you never even tried till it's time to say goodbye, bye ♪ ♪ everybody fights for a little bit of light, i believe. ♪ geico motorcycle, great rates for great rides.
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