▶ Watch Video: 8/6: Face The Nation

On this “Face the Nation” broadcast, moderated by Major Garrett:

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence
  • Former Attorney General William Barr
  • Former Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican from Texas
  • John Lauro, an attorney for former President Donald Trump
  • Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat from Minnesota
  • Chris Krebs, former director of CISA

Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”

MAJOR GARRETT: I’m Major Garrett in Washington.

And this week on Face the Nation: the third indictment of Donald Trump. Many believe this could be the most serious case yet. Listen to the words of special prosecutor Jack Smith.

(Begin VT)

JACK SMITH (Special Counsel): The attack on our nation’s Capitol on January 6, 2021, was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy.

It was fueled by lies, lies by the defendant targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the U.S. government, the nation’s process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election.

I must emphasize that the indictment is only an allegation and that the defendant must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

(End VT)

MAJOR GARRETT: We will talk with three Trump administration figures who could testify, Vice President Mike Pence and two officials who also told Trump there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, Attorney General Bill Barr and the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, now a CBS News expert and analyst, Chris Krebs.

Trump attorney John Lauro will also be with us.

Plus: What do Americans think?

(Begin VT)

DONALD TRUMP (Former President of the United States): Every time they file an indictment, we go way up in the polls. We need one more indictment to close out this election.

(End VT)

MAJOR GARRETT: Will Trump’s theory hold?

Former Congressman and GOP hopeful Will Hurd will join us.

Plus, Minnesota Democrat Dean Phillips says his party should look for an alternative to President Biden. We will talk to him about that.

It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning. Welcome to Face the Nation. Margaret is off today.

As we come on the air this morning, disappointing news from Australia, as the U.S. women’s soccer team has lost its knockout round match to Sweden and has therefore been eliminated in the World Cup.

Here in the U.S., the impact of former President Trump’s third criminal indictment has not only underscored divisions in our country between the parties, but it appears that Republicans are also divided as well, with some Trump supporters still believing he did nothing wrong, others not so sure.

And, in that light, we begin today with former Vice President Mike Pence, a man once seen as extremely loyal to Trump, that is, until they lost the 2000 election, at which point Pence says, Trump pressured him to try to overturn the election, and in their favor.

We spoke with Pence in New Hampshire yesterday.

(Begin VT)

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE (R-Presidential Candidate): President Trump was wrong. He was wrong then. He’s wrong now.

I had no right to overturn the election. And more and more Americans are coming up to me every day and recognizing that. And — and for my part, I’m running for president in part because, frankly, President Trump asked me to put him over the Constitution that day. But I chose the Constitution. And I always will.

MAJOR GARRETT: So, I want to ask you about characterizations that have been made by those who speak on behalf of the president’s legal team.

They’ve said this week that all they asked of you, that is to say, the president, was to delay the proceedings to allow states to conduct an audit. Is that a truthful representation of what you were asked to do, Mr. Vice President?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Major, that’s not what happened.

From sometime in the middle of December, the president began to be told that I had some authority to reject or return votes back to the states. I had no such authority.

I stand by the facts as they occurred. I mean, it — it ebbed and flowed between different legal theories. But, at the end of the day, I know we did our duty. I know we kept our oath. But I — I truly do believe that no one who ever puts himself over the Constitution should ever be president of the United States.

MAJOR GARRETT: Mr. Vice President, if this case comes to trial, would you be a witness against the president?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: People can be confident we’ll — we’ll obey the law. We’ll respond to the call of the law, if it comes, and we’ll just tell the truth.

Look, I have been telling this story over the last two years, but I must tell you, over the last week, it seems that more and more Americans have been coming up to me and just expressing a word of appreciation for what, by God’s grace, that we did that day.

MAJOR GARRETT: To be clear, Mr. Vice President, you do not regard this indictment as the political persecution of the former president?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Well, I have been very concerned about politicization at the Justice Department for years.

I have been deeply troubled to see the double standard between the way that the Justice Department has gone after the president, responded even in — with other Republicans and pro-life Americans and the way they seem to be – – to take no interest in getting to the bottom of allegations of corruption around President Biden’s family.

So I have deep concern about that. But, look, I don’t want to prejudge this indictment. I don’t know whether the government has the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to support this case. The president is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

MAJOR GARRETT: Mr. Vice President, tell me about these notes that the special prosecutor referred to in the indictment.

Were those all the notes you took on all of your conversations with the former president at that time? Were you a note taker throughout your time as vice president? Did you hand them off to staff? Were these things you kept yourself? Tell me about the note — the note process.

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Well, I can tell you, Major, I have some limitations of what I can talk about relative to the grand jury.

But there was, from time to time, particularly at important moments, I had a practice of scribbling a note or two on my calendar just to memorialize it and remember it. And I did that in this case. I generally didn’t make a practice of taking notes in meetings over the four-year period of time.

But given the momentous events that were unfolding, I — I — I did take a few notes to remind myself of what had been said. And, you know, from very early on, the very first time the president raised the issue with me that I — that he was being told that I had the right to overturn the election, to reject or return votes, I — I — I told him I knew I had no such authority.

Look, I’m — I’m a student of American history. I knew the founders of this country would never have given any one person the right to choose what Electoral College votes to accept and which ones to reject. I was very consistent with the president about that. And my recollections all reflect that.

But, you know, at — at the end of the day, the president continued to hold to that view. But I knew what my duty was. And, as I said, by God’s grace, we did our duty on that fateful day.

MAJOR GARRETT: Mr. Vice President, what do you believe the president’s state of mind was about whether he won or lost the 2020 election?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: You know, I really can’t say.

I — I — I don’t know what was in his mind. And it seemed to me, through all that period of time, the — the president was intent, as we all were, in getting to the bottom of voting irregularities that had taken place. There were roughly a half-a-dozen states that had changed the rules in the name of COVID, and, frankly, changed them in ways that could benefit Democrat candidates.

But, in more than 60 lawsuits, all of which I supported, and in reviews at state levels, there — there was never any evidence of widespread fraud that would have changed the outcome of the election in any of those states.

MAJOR GARRETT: Did you ever hear the president say “I lost” or did you ever take part in a meeting where it was clear from other words that he spoke that he knew he had lost and was preparing to leave the White House?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I remember one occasion before Christmas where the president asked me what — what — what he thought we ought to do. We were just the two of us in the Oval Office, Major.

And I — I remember, I looked at him and I said: “Look, let all the lawsuits play out, let the Congress do their work to consider objections.” But I said, at the end of the day: “If the election goes the other way, I said we ought to take a bow. We ought to travel around the country.”

And I remember — I remember the president is standing in front of his desk, listening very intently to me. And I will never forget the way he just kind of pointed at me as if to — as if to say: That’s worth thinking about.

But I don’t know what was in his mind at the time.

MAJOR GARRETT: Would you ever vote again for Donald Trump?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Look, I don’t think I will have to. I have to tell you everywhere I go, we receive encouragement.

MAJOR GARRETT: That wasn’t the question, Mr. Vice President.

Would you ever vote for Donald Trump again?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Yes. Yes, I know what your question is.

But let me be very clear. I’m running for president because I don’t think anyone who ever puts himself over the Constitution should ever be president or should ever be president again. This country is in a lot of trouble. And we’ve got to get back to basics. We’ve got to get back to keeping faith of the Constitution.

We’ve got to get back to the policies that will make our economy strong, that’ll secure our border, that’ll support our military, that’ll defend our liberties and our values that are under a steady assault by the Biden administration.

And we’re going to work our hearts out to earn the right to be that standard-bearer.

MAJOR GARRETT: One last thing. Do you believe the former president can receive a fair trial in the District of Columbia?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Well, I — I — I would hope so, but I – – I don’t want to prejudge the indictment or prejudge whether — whether the government can make their case.

Look, the president’s entitled to a presumption of innocence. And I — I have every confidence that — that he’ll make his case in court. But, at the end of the day, at the end of the day, I’m going to stay focused on where the American people are focused.

But I — I’m also — I’m never going to waver in making it clear to people that, whatever the outcome of this indictment and whatever it’s — you know, wherever it goes, I know I did my duty that day.

MAJOR GARRETT: Former Vice President Mike Pence, thank you for joining us.


(End VT)

MAJOR GARRETT: We turn now to Bill Barr, who served as the former president’s attorney general, until he resigned following the 2020 election.

Bill, it’s good to see you.

BILL BARR (Former U.S. Attorney General): Good to see you.

MAJOR GARRETT: Last time you were on the show, you said — quote — “The January 6 case will be a hard case to make because of First Amendment interests” — unquote.

Having read the indictment, is that still your view?

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: Well, it’s — it’s certainly a challenging case, but I don’t — I don’t think it runs afoul of the First Amendment.

And there’s a lot of confusion about this out there. Maybe I can crystallize it. This involved a situation where the states had already made the official and authoritative determination as to who won in those states, and they sent the votes and certified them to Congress.

The allegation, essentially, by the government is that, at that point, the president conspired, entered into a plan, a scheme that involved a lot of deceit, the object of which was to erase those votes, to nullify those lawful votes.

MAJOR GARRETT: To disenfranchise people?


And there were a number of things that were alleged. One of them is that they tried to bully the state authorities to withdraw their certification by citing instances of fraud. And what the — and what the indictment says is, the stuff that they were spouting, they knew was wrong and false.

This is not a question of what his subjective idea was as to whether he won or lost. They’re saying, what you were saying consistently, the stuff you were spouting, you knew was wrong.

But it’s not — if that was all it was about, I would be concerned on First Amendment front. But they go beyond that. And the other elements were the substitution of bogus panels that were not authorized panels to claim that they had alternative votes.

And then they — and that was clearly wrong, and the certifications they signed were false, but then pressuring the vice president to use that as a pretext to adopt the Trump votes and reject the Biden votes, or even to delay it. It really doesn’t matter whether it’s to delay it, or to adopt it, or to send it to the House of Representatives.

You have to remember, a conspiracy crime is completed at the time it’s agreed to and the first steps are taken.


FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: That’s when the crime is complete.

MAJOR GARRETT: From a prosecutor’s point of view, is this a case you would have brought?

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: Well, from a prosecutor’s standpoint, I think it’s a legitimate case, but —

MAJOR GARRETT: From an attorney general’s point of view?

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: But I think there are other considerations, and I would have taken those into account.

But I have also said consistently, really, the Rubicon was passed here when — when Attorney General Garland picked Smith, because the kinds of decisions, the kinds of judgments that would say don’t bring the case really have to be made by the attorney general.

And he picked a prosecutor. And I think, at that point, the decision was, if there’s a case, we’re going to bring it. That’s when the Rubicon was passed — was crossed.

MAJOR GARRETT: Were you interviewed by the special counsel?

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: I’m not going to get into any discussions I have had.

MAJOR GARRETT: Would you appear as a witness if called?


MAJOR GARRETT: Could you describe your interactions with the president on this question about whether or not he won or lost and what you told him?

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: Well, I wasn’t — discussed — well, I go through that in my book in painstaking detail, but on three occasions, at least.

And I — I told him in no uncertain terms that there was no evidence of fraud that would have changed the outcome that we had found.

MAJOR GARRETT: One of those associated with a Trump’s defense team had said, if you were called as a witness, they would cross-examine you, and pierce all of that by asking you questions that you couldn’t, to their mind, credibly answer about how thorough that investigation was that led you to tell the president what you told him.

How thorough was that investigation?

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: Well, it — I — I think it satisfied us that there was no basis for concluding that there had been fraud in those instances.

Some of them are obvious, OK? One that he keeps on repeating is, you know, that there were more people — that more people voted than absentee ballots that were requested, and that was mixing apples and oranges. And once that was explained to him, we should — we should have heard no more about that.

Others required further investigation, interviews and so forth. And those were done.

MAJOR GARRETT: I want to get your thoughts on Hunter Biden.

On December 21, your last day, or nearly your last day, in 2020 in the role of Attorney General, you said: “I think it’s being handled responsibly and professionally currently with the department.”

This is the Hunter Biden investigation.

“And, to this point, I have seen no reason to appoint a special counsel.”

Do you believe a special counsel should be appointed now in the Hunter Biden matter? And do you regret not appointing one then?


MAJOR GARRETT: No, which? To which? Should one be appointed now?

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: No, when I was the attorney — in order to appoint a special counsel, you have to have a conflict, or should have a conflict of interests.

I had no conflict of interest investigating Hunter Biden. If there was a conflict, it would be Garland’s, and he had to make the decision when he took office as to whether or not it could be fairly handled in the department or whether or not a special counsel was necessary.

I felt, if I prejudged that and preempted his decision, it would actually set things up that he would have probably or the administration would have just canceled the investigation. And I felt he would keep our U.S. attorney in place.

But, once Garland came in, he had the responsibility of determining whether a thorough investigation was being done, and was being done fairly. And I did —


MAJOR GARRETT: Do you believe a thorough investigation has — has been conducted?

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: Well, I did agree with the — the House Republicans that there was a time where he should have appointed a special counsel.

MAJOR GARRETT: Is that time passed?

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: Well, practically, it may have passed, because there’s not pretty much time to get to the bottom of things, unless Weiss has been doing it conscientiously.

And we have to hear from Weiss as to what he’s done.

MAJOR GARRETT: The U.S. attorney in Delaware.


MAJOR GARRETT: Do you believe, as you said earlier, that there was a lot of shameful self-dealing and influence peddling in regards to Hunter Biden? And, if so, do you believe those are criminally prosecutable actions?

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: OK, well, remember, one thing I stress is, those are two different questions, right?

And things can be shameful without being illegal. And I — yes, I thought – – I think it’s grotesque, the cashing in on the office like that, apparently. But I — I think it’s legitimate. It has to be investigated as to whether there was a crime there. And that’s one of the things I’m concerned about, is that it was thoroughly investigated after I left.

MAJOR GARRETT: You’re concerned still whether or not it was thoroughly investigated?

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: I don’t know. I would like to hear about it.

I mean, some of the whistle-blowers raised concerns, in my mind. There’s reasons — before the election, there were reasons to defer certain investigative steps under Justice Department policy. But, after the election, I don’t see reasons for deferring investigative steps.

And, apparently, someone said it was the optics. Well, what are the optics, you know, after the election? That it was the president-elect’s son? That’s not a reason not to investigate.

MAJOR GARRETT: Bill Barr, we thank you for your time very, very much.


MAJOR GARRETT: “Face the Nation” will be back in just one moment. Please stay with us.


MAJOR GARRETT: We go now to New York and CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto, who has some new reaction to the former president’s indictment.

Anthony, what can you tell us?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Good morning, Major.

In the polling this week, we learned that Americans’ response to this week is about more than what they think of Donald Trump’s actions, but also what they think it means for democracy.

First, half the country believes that, after 2020, what the nation witnessed was a then-sitting president trying to remain in office through what they feel were illegal and unconstitutional means.

Now, they say, if true, that would be undermining democracy, and, for them, these indictments then mean it’s upholding the rule of law and protecting that democracy. But there’s another three in 10, 29 percent, who feel that Donald Trump did try to stay in office, but through legal means.

And what’s telling here is that most of them, like most Republicans, continue to believe Donald Trump’s disproven claims about a fraudulent election.

Now, there’s another echo of Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric in here, and that is this personal connection. Most Republicans, especially most MAGA Republicans, also see these indictments as an attack on people like them. And they also see it as politically motivated. That is their overriding concern, more so than any of the content of the charges.

They think very specifically here that this is an attempt to stop Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign — Major.

MAJOR GARRETT: With the survey data and the perspective, Anthony Salvanto, thank you.

And we will be right back.


MAJOR GARRETT: Welcome back.

For the most part, Republican candidates challenging the former president for the Republican Party nomination are treading carefully in their reaction to this latest indictment, fearing that they have — if not, they’re going to alienate the president’s sizable base of support.

That’s not so with former Texas Congressman Will Hurd, who joins us this morning.

Congressman, good to see you.

So, you were in Des Moines, and you said to Republicans there that the only reason that the former president is running is to — quote — “stay out of prison.”

It was believed that you were booed off that stage. A couple of Republicans texted me in real time that they thought you looked weak. Looking back on that, do you wish you had done that differently, or said things differently, or acted differently?

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE WILL HURD (R-Texas) (Presidential Candidate): Absolutely not.

And what — what people are missing was that a number of people actually clapped when I said that, and it was the end of the speech. So, I casually walked off. And I — and I stick behind it.

And this is one of the things that makes me unique in this race. I have been ideologically consistent about Donald Trump since 2015. I have thought he’s been a national security threat to the country and was incapable of growing our brand.

I’m the only one that has never bent a knee to Donald Trump. And — and that’s not going to change, because we — if we want to win elections, we got to be talking about, how do we have unprecedented peace at a time when the Chinese government is trying to surpass us as the global superpower?

How do we have world-class education at a time when our kids are failing in math, science and reading, some of the worst scores in this century? These are the issues that we’re talking about, not talking about Donald Trump’s baggage. And if people agree with that, I need them to go on HurdforAmerica.com and give at least $1 to help me get on the debate stage.

MAJOR GARRETT: What does it tell you, Will Hurd, when you see the president’s polling, your polling, the vast distance between the two, and the sentiment expressed by Republicans over and over and over again that they’re with Trump, and not with people like you who criticize him so harshly?


The election is 25 weeks away. A lot can change. And anybody who thinks that these are overwhelming odds, I would tell them I disagree with them. Nobody thought a black Republican could win in a 72 percent Latino district on 820 miles of the border. But it happened because I showed up to places that people didn’t expect me to be.

National polls — running for president is not — is not a national election. It’s 50 elections. And this is going to always tighten. And the goal is —

MAJOR GARRETT: True enough, but you can’t cite a single state poll where you’re even in double digits.

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE WILL HURD: Well, because the election’s not today, or it’s not tomorrow. The election is 25 weeks away.

In order to build a campaign and talk to the people that are sick and tired of where the country is going, it takes time. Two-thirds of Americans do not want Donald Trump or Joe Biden on — on the ballot. Like, that is clear, and that has always been the case. And we also know, if Donald Trump is the nominee for the Republican Party, we’re giving four more years to Joe Biden.

So, let me be clear, Major, that the goal is not to peak tomorrow. The goal is to peak before the first — the first election.

MAJOR GARRETT: OK, let’s talk about something that’s not 25 weeks away, but much sooner, the first Republican debate.

Will you qualify for that debate stage?


MAJOR GARRETT: And, if so, how?

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE WILL HURD: I haven’t hit the — I haven’t hit the number yet, but I feel confident.

MAJOR GARRETT: Forty thousand unique donors?

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE WILL HURD: Yes, I — I feel confident that we’re going to get to that place.

MAJOR GARRETT: How close are you?


And I’m not going to get — I’m not —

MAJOR GARRETT: Define close. Is it 10,000?

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE WILL HURD: I don’t get into details.


FORMER REPRESENTATIVE WILL HURD: I’m close. And that’s why I need the people that are watching this show to go on HurdforAmerica.com, donate at least $1, to make sure that they have someone who is ideologically consistent, meet the requirements to be on the debate stage.

MAJOR GARRETT: Why are you still a Republican?

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE WILL HURD: I — I’m still a Republican because I believe in a — a strong foreign policy.

I believe in freedom. I believe in actual personal responsibility. That’s not always reflected in many of the people that are in the party. But here’s where it is reflected.

MAJOR GARRETT: Is it reflective of what Donald Trump does?


But there’s more people that identify with the —


MAJOR GARRETT: So, Donald Trump is not a good Republican?

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE WILL HURD: I don’t think he’s a good Republican at all.

You know, Donald Trump is — is Donald Trump. And — and I believe in these — these — the timeless principles of the party, because I think that leads to limitless potential. And when you look at — when I think about the party, most people say, is it the former president? Is it our elected officials?

In the — I believe it’s the people that are willing to vote for a Republican. And here’s what I have learned crisscrossing this country. There are more people that are sick and tired of the direction the Democratic Party is going. And what they want is someone who’s not a jerk, who’s not a racist, who’s not a misogynist, who’s not someone who’s a homophobe.

You know, this is the opportunity the Republican Party has. And that’s the brand that I’m —


MAJOR GARRETT: Very quickly, the four words you just used, do all of them apply to former President Trump?

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE WILL HURD: At times, absolutely, and, at times, other places and other candidates that are in this race.

Guess what? Slavery — there’s no upside to slavery. We shouldn’t have to be having that conversation this — at — in 2023.

MAJOR GARRETT: Will Hurd, Republican candidate for the presidency in 2024, thanks for being with us.


MAJOR GARRETT: And we will be back in just one moment.


MAJOR GARRETT: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation.

Up next, Trump attorney John Lauro.

Please, stay with us.


MAJOR GARRETT: We go now to John Lauro, one of former President Trump’s lawyers. He joins us now from New York.

John, good morning to you.

JOHN LAURO (Donald Trump’s Attorney): Good morning.

MAJOR GARRETT: I want to let you know that we spoke with former Vice President Mike Pence and asked him specifically about your assertions made this last week that all the president did was asked him to pause the certification on January 6, 2021. He told me flatly, quote, “that’s not what happened.”

Your response?

JOHN LAURO: That’s not – that’s not what I said, though, but that’s OK.

MAJOR GARRETT: What — what is it that you believe happened between the president and the vice president? And do you have any fear of the vice president being called as a witness in the case?

JOHN LAURO: I – I – what — no. No. In fact, the vice president will be our best witness. What I said is the ultimate ask of Vice President Pence was to pause the count and allow the states to weigh in. That was my statement. And what – what I’ve said is consistent with what Vice President Pence is saying.

The reason why Vice President Pence will be so important to the defense is – is the following. Number one, he agrees that John Eastman, who gave legal advice to President Trump, was an esteemed legal scholar. Number two, he agrees that there were election irregularities, fraud, unlawful actions at the state level. All of that will — will eviscerate any allegation of criminal intent on the part of President Trump. And, finally, what Vice President Pence believes, and believed, is that these issues needed to be debated on January 6th. He openly called for all of these issues to be debated and objected to in – in the January 6th proceeding.

President Trump, on the other hand, believed, following the advice of John Eastman, who’s a legal scholar, that these issues needed to be debated at the state level, not the federal level. Now, of course, there was a constitutional disagreement between Vice President Pence and President Trump. But the bottom line is, never have — never in our country’s history has those kinds of disagreements been prosecuted criminally. It’s – it’s unheard of.

MAJOR GARRETT: John, can I ask you a couple of very simple, basic yes or no questions? Is there – first, is there any conditions under which the former president of the United States, your client, would accept a plea deal on these January 6th charge?


MAJOR GARRETT: Will you seek a motion to dismiss?

JOHN LAURO: Absolutely, 100 percent.


JOHN LAURO: A hundred percent. Well, within the time permitted. This is what’s called a Swiss cheese indictment. It has so many holes that we’re going to be identifying and litigating a number of – of motions that we’re going to file on First Amendment grounds, on the fact that President Trump is immune as president from – from being prosecuted in this way.

MAJOR GARRETT: Do you have a – do you have a ballpark figure of when you’d be ready for trial?

JOHN LAURO: I — well, I can tell you that in 40 years of practicing law, on a case of this magnitude, I’ve not known a single case to go to trial before two or three years.

MAJOR GARRETT: Understood.

Are you still going to pursue a change of venue?

JOHN LAURO: Absolutely. We – we would like a diverse venue, a diverse jury. One that – that reflects the –

MAJOR GARRETT: Do you have any expectation that will be granted?

JOHN LAURO: That reflects the – the – the – the characteristics of the American people.

It’s up to the judge. I think West Virginia would be an excellent venue to try this case.

MAJOR GARRETT: Speaking of the judge –

JOHN LAURO: They’re close to D.C. and a much more diverse –

MAJOR GARRETT: Understood.

Speaking of the judge, earlier this week your client, the former president, said on a social media platform the judge is unfair. On what basis did he say that?

JOHN LAURO: Well, the problem with bringing a case like this in the middle of a campaign season is statements are going to be made in the context of a campaign.

We expect a fair and just trial in the District of Columbia. And – and my role — my role is simply to ensure that President Trump’s rights, just like every American’s rights, are protected every step of the way. And I’m going to do that.

MAJOR GARRETT: You mentioned discovery. In the protective order back and forth between you and the prosecutors, it says, the prosecution, that discovery will be provided, quote, “as soon as possible, including certain discovery to which the defendant is not entitled.”

What’s wrong with that?

JOHN LAURO: We’re – we’re all in favor of protecting sensitive and highly sensitive information. But it’s unprecedented to have all information hidden in a criminal case, including, by the way, information that might be exculpatory and might be exonerative of President Trump. The Biden administration wants to keep that information from the American people.

MAJOR GARRETT: John, in the back and forth on this matter, you – it also was said in the filing to the court that the former president would be willing to come to an agreement on this matter. And what I — what I want to ask you is, would that requirement be something where the president would agree not to release any information that was highly sensitive in this matter, and would he also refrain from any speech that called for or hinted at retribution about anyone associated with the prosecution of this case?

JOHN LAURO: He’s never called for that at all. He’s going to abide by the conditions of his release.

But, of course, we would agree that any sensitive or highly sensitive information be kept under wraps. In fact, we made that proposition to the Biden administration, but they rejected it. They want every single piece of evidence in this case hidden from the American public.

MAJOR GARRETT: John, before I let you go, do you remember what you were doing the early morning of November 9, 2016?

JOHN LAURO: I have no idea.

MAJOR GARRETT: Well, I remember what I was doing. I was covering President- elect Trump announcing that he had won the presidency, about 3:00 a.m. that morning after the November 8th election.

My question to you, John, is how did he know he won?

JOHN LAURO: Well, politicians are convinced in the righteousness of their cause, including President Trump. And he certainly believed that he won. And he did win.

MAJOR GARRETT: But on what basis did he know he had – but on what basis did he know he won?

JOHN LAURO: In 2016 – can I – can I finish? Can I finish?


JOHN LAURO: Can I finish?

And he believed in 2020 that he won based on the fact that he had 10 million more votes than in 2016. He had a situation where somehow President Biden, or at that time candidate Biden, received 15 million more votes than Hillary Clinton. And he also understood in 2020 that President – that President Trump understood that he had won all — virtually all of the bellwether counties.


JOHN LAURO: And 84 percent of all the counties in the country.

MAJOR GARRETT: John. John, let me – let me – let me help you with this.

JOHN LAURO: So, on that basis, he believed that he was successful.

MAJOR GARRETT: John, let me help you with this. I wasn’t asking about 2020.

JOHN LAURO: No, let me help you with this because the issue here —

MAJOR GARRETT: I wasn’t asking about 2020, John. John, I wasn’t asking about 2020. I was asking about 2016.

JOHN LAURO: I have to help you with this because – no, no, no, the – the issue – right. The issue —

MAJOR GARRETT: Because – because the votes were still being counted in 2016.

JOHN LAURO: Right, the issue (INAUDIBLE) –

MAJOR GARRETT: The votes were still being counted in 2016.

JOHN LAURO: Right. Right.

MAJOR GARRETT: There had been no recount.


MAJOR GARRETT: How did he know in 2016 that he had won?


MAJOR GARRETT: How did he know? On what basis?

JOHN LAURO: Well, the issue – the issue — let me just tell you something. The issue in this criminal case is not what happened in 2016 and whether all candidates say they won. The issue now is, in 2020, whether or not the Justice Department can weaponize criminal law to go after a political opponent and prevent that opponent from running for office. That’s the issue. Not what happened in 2016.

MAJOR GARRETT: John Lauro, we thank you for your time.

JOHN LAURO: Do you think it’s fair — do you think it’s fair that – do you think it’s fair what the – what the Biden administration is doing to a candidate for president?

MAJOR GARRETT: John Lauro, we thank you for your time. We appreciate it.

JOHN LAURO: Thank you.

MAJOR GARRETT: And we will be right back.


MAJOR GARRETT: Welcome back.

We turn now to Minnesota Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips, who might, in fact, be able to answer a question he’s given some energy to. Are you going to run for president against Joe Biden?

REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D-MN): Well, Major, I have not decided yet. But I will tell you why I’m here. And I lost my dad in Vietnam in 1969. Lived with my great grandparents for two and a half years. And my mom was 24 and widowed. I was adopted when I was three by an extraordinary dad into a remarkable family. I know a little something about living on both sides of advantage.

And I woke up the morning after the 2016 election, the one you just spoke about, saw fear in my daughter’s eyes, my two daughters. I recognized at that moment that millions of Americans have had that same fear for generations. And I promised them I would do something.

I ran for Congress. And I ran a campaign that was about everybody being invited. That was my slogan. I listened to Democrats, Republicans, independents. And I discovered that everybody wants the same thing. Everybody. We want to be safe, we want to have security, both economic and otherwise, we want opportunity and we want unity.

Serving our country in Congress has been a joy. I know you don’t hear that too off. It has been a joy. And I’ve discovered that everybody in the middle, the massive majority of Americans, are sick of anger-tainment, telling us we’re more divided than we really are. They’re sick of members of Congress, state houses, attacking each other instead of attacking problems. They want their families back, their friendships back, their communities back. They want unity.

MAJOR GARRETT: Congressman –

DEAN PHILLIPS: And I want to give voice to them.


DEAN PHILLIPS: And then, secondly, I want to give voice to Democrats. I’m a life-long passionate Democrat, inspired by Hubert Humphrey and Martin Luther King. Democrats are telling me that they want, not a coronation, but they want a competition.

“The New York Times” poll from this week shows 55 percent of Democratic voters want some alternatives to the current people in the primary. Eighty- three percent of those under 30, Democrats under 30, want alternatives. And about 76 percent are independent.

MAJOR GARRETT: When are you going to – when are you going to decide?

DEAN PHILLIPS: So, I just wanted to make my case.

MAJOR GARRETT: When are you going to decide?

DEAN PHILLIPS: I think – well, let me get to my point.


DEAN PHILLIPS: So, if we don’t heed –

MAJOR GARRETT: I’ve given you some room.

DEAN PHILLIPS: Yes, you have.

If we don’t heed that call, shame on us. And the consequences, I believe, are going to be disastrous. So, my call is to those who are well positioned, well prepared, of good character and competency, they know who they are, to jump in because Democrats and the country need competition. It makes everything better. That’s my call to them right now.

MAJOR GARRETT: So if they don’t, you will?

DEAN PHILLIPS: I’m not saying I will. I — look, I think I’m well- positioned to be President of the United States.


DEAN PHILLIPS: I do not believe I’m well positioned to run for it right now. People who are should jump in because we need to meet the moment. The moment is now. That is what the country is asking for.

MAJOR GARRETT: I gave you some running room, so let’s tighten up the answers if we can.


MAJOR GARRETT: Can President Biden beat Donald Trump?

DEAN PHILLIPS: I think he can. But I think the only way to determine that objectively is to go through a process.

By the way, before it’s too late, and I want to tell you this about President Biden, an amazing man. I love the man. He is competent. He is honorable. His integrity, I believe, is unvarnished. He has led this country through extraordinarily difficult times.

This is not about him. This is about listening to people. And I’m afraid, in this bubble here in Washington, people get real tone deaf real fast and we should be listening. That’s what this is about. It’s my call to action.

MAJOR GARRETT: Assess Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign?

DEAN PHILLIPS: Well, first of all, I – I like competition. I’m pleased that people —

MAJOR GARRETT: Is he an adequate competitor?

DEAN PHILLIPS: Not the one that I’m looking for. I don’t believe him to be a Democrat. I think some of the things —

MAJOR GARRETT: Is there something telling in what’s happened around him?

DEAN PHILLIPS: Let me say this, I hear – I think there is something telling. I think he’s using a very similar playbook to a former president who did the same in the Republican Party just a little while ago. And I think we should be cautious of that.

I also think that’s why we need alternatives. I don’t believe him to be a Democrat.


DEAN PHILLIPS: I do believe, though, that speech is good. More speech is even better. We need alternatives for the massive majority of the middle in America to have some alternatives too.

MAJOR GARRETT: Want to make sure I heard that correctly. You don’t believe Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a Democrat?

DEAN PHILLIPS: I – not — not from the positions he’s been taking, no.

MAJOR GARRETT: Assess Cornell West. Do you have any anxiety about him running as a Green Party candidate?

DEAN PHILLIPS: I do. Anybody who wants to turn the page and go to the future in this country should be worried about Cornell — Cornell West candidacy. Any third-party entrants that would take votes from whoever is going to take on the likely nominee from the GOP, and that’s probably Donald Trump. So I would ask Mr. West, I would ask others who are contemplating third party runs, to please think about your legacy, think about the future, and consolidate around entering a democratic primary because that’s why we have primaries, competition.

MAJOR GARRETT: I’m confused, Congressman. If there’s a conversation that you say needs to occur within the Democratic Party about an alternative to the sitting President of the United States, why isn’t the leading contender for that the sitting vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris?

DEAN PHILLIPS: I think we have a — I think we live in an era of fear. What if I get out of line? What if I take on my party? I know the feeling this week. I think —

MAJOR GARRETT: Is she – is she not – is she not qualified?

DEAN PHILLIPS: I think she’s absolutely qualified. In fact, I think she’s misportrayed. I think everybody in this country should take a little bit of time and sit with people, observe them, know them before you draw conclusions. I think she is more competent and able than many people give her credit for. The job of the vice president is not an easy one.

MAJOR GARRETT: Would she, in your mind, be the heir apparent if for some reason the president of the United States were not to seek the nomination in 2024?

DEAN PHILLIPS: I’m glad you asked the question. And my answer is really simple. Competition. As many people as humanly possible, with the talent, the time, the energy, the ethics to enter a primary should do it. We have 12 Republicans as options for Republican primary voters. Right now, we only have three on the Democratic side. I believe in competition.

We’re the Democratic Party. Democracy means the freedom to make choices. And we don’t have many of them.

MAJOR GARRETT: Let me ask you a historical question. You’ve invoked the names of many Minnesota Democrats. Let me invoke the name of another. Eugene McCarthy ran in 1968 against a well-positioned president with a substantial record of accomplishment for Democratic Party agenda items. He said the reason he had to run was because of the overwhelming issue of Vietnam. That it had to be addressed. Dean Phillips, what’s the Vietnam of this election?

DEAN PHILLIPS: The Vietnam of this election, I think everybody knows, and it’s about turning the page to the future. That is the Vietnam of right now. That’s the quagmire in which we find ourselves.

Mr. Hurd, who you just had on the show, if you could see the green room moments ago, the comradery between Democrats and Republicans who all want the same thing, was represented right there.

And I want to remind the American people, that’s the Vietnam of right now. The quagmire in which we find ourselves we will not get out of from a single leader. If everybody takes a pause, starts reaching out their hands to one another again, starts electing and selecting people of competency and good character, we’re going to get out of this, and I’m optimistic.

MAJOR GARRETT: Dean Phillips, congressman from Minnesota, a Democrat, keep in touch.

DEAN PHILLIPS: Thank you, Major.

MAJOR GARRETT: We’ll be back in just a moment.


MAJOR GARRETT: Welcome back.

Up now, CBS News cyber security expert and analyst Chris Krebs, who as head of CISA, we’ll get into what that means in a second, announced soon after the 2020 election that it was the, quote, most secure election in history. The former president disagreed and memorably, to Chris, fired him.

Chris, it’s good to see you.

CHRIS KREBS: Good to see you, Major.

MAJOR GARRETT: What was the basis of that statement?


MAJOR GARRETT: That it was the most secure election in American history?

CHRIS KREBS: So, let’s contextualize that statement a little bit.


CHRIS KREBS: It was issued on November 12th by a group known as the Election Subsector Joint Coordinating Council. So, this was leaders from the federal government, state government, and local government election — involved in the administration of elections, alongside those from – from the private sector and those that – that support –

MAJOR GARRETT: Across the country?

CHRIS KREBS: Yes. So, this was my not statement, this was not CISA’s statement.

MAJOR GARRETT: This is not a red or blue statement?

CHRIS KREBS: Correct. This was a bipartisan joint statement by those that are actually involved in the day-to-day administration of elections. And it was their real-time, in the moment perspective of what was happening around the United States election at that point.

And – and the important part is that it wasn’t just about November 3rd and what immediately preceded and what immediately followed. It was a collective effort really spanning back, from my perspective, back to 2017, that joint effort that we had worked to develop strong partnerships around election security within the federal government, but also with state and local elections.

MAJOR GARRETT: And as I understand it, President Trump encouraged you to do that very work, did he not?

CHRIS KREBS: That — we had the full support of the White House, the National Security Council and those that were immediately within the orbit of the president. In fact, I briefed the vice president, who was on earlier, several times on our election security efforts.


CHRIS KREBS: CISA is the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. It was established by President Trump in 2018 and it is, as Jen Easterly, the – the current director calls it, the nation’s civilian cyber defense agency.

MAJOR GARRETT: And at any time when you were briefing either the vice president or the president or senior administration officials about the work you were doing and what it was leading up to in the 2020 election, did they raise any concerns about your ability, your acuity, your trustworthiness or the trustworthiness of the data you were getting back to you?

CHRIS KREBS: We had full support from not just the White House and the executive branch, but also from Congress. We – we briefed Congress. I personally briefed Will Hurd several times, briefed a range of senators and members of the House of Representatives throughout 2020 on our efforts to secure the 2020 election and received, as I said, full-throated support.

MAJOR GARRETT: And when you say security, what does that mean? Does that mean no penetration and that’s it, or does it mean other things under the umbrella of security and secure elections?

CHRIS KREBS: Well, our efforts, starting in 2017, were to work with and established relationships where we could share information and provide cyber security services to state and local election officials so that they could harden their systems and increase the resilience of those systems.

And the key takeaway, as I see it for the 2020 election, is that it was effectively the most audited and most papered election in – in recent history.

MAJOR GARRETT: Why is that important?

CHRIS KREBS: Well, your – your colleague, David Becker, your co-author, runs the Center for Election and Innovation Research. And he conducted a study that says that in 2016, less than 80 percent of ballots cast had a paper record associated with it. Paper records are important because you can audit the results. If there are any questions, you can go back, check your math and ensure the – the accounting was accurate.

By the time the 2020 election rolled around, due to combined efforts of federal and state and local election officials, that number increased to around 95 percent of votes cast, including every one of those close call states. Importantly, Pennsylvania and Georgia both switched systems that had paper ballots associated with the vote. And you could count and recount and audit. In fact, Georgia recounted or audited several times post- November 3rd.

MAJOR GARRETT: And those systems that do that auditing were secure?

CHRIS KREBS: Yes, absolutely. You know, based on our work with the intelligence community, our understanding of –

MAJOR GARRETT: And — what state officials told you and local officials?

CHRIS KREBS: Look — absolutely. Look, I — you know, I continue to think that there are any number of state election officials that had every incentive in the world to prove that something happened to deliver an outcome to President Trump. But that never happened.

MAJOR GARRETT: So with respect, there are those on the Trump side of this ledger who think you might just be a beltway insider, a wise guy, who came to a conclusion and tried to sell it to the president. And just because he didn’t believe you, he had a right to do other things. How would you respond to that?

CHRIS KREBS: Well, he certainly has the right to claim that he won or, you know, it was stolen from him. But as we heard, when he takes that action towards the criminal conspiracy, that’s a different matter. But, again, our role at CISA was in support of state and local election officials and — ensuring that their voices were heard and that the work that they were doing got to the American people to instill and restore confidence in our public institutions.

MAJOR GARRETT: Were you interviewed by the special counsel?


MAJOR GARRETT: Would you appear as a witness?

CHRIS KREBS: Of course. Of course.

MAJOR GARRETT: Do you regard this case as persecution of the former president politically or otherwise?

CHRIS KREBS: Well, it’s certainly a prosecution. But as for persecution —

MAJOR GARRETT: That’s — his word is persecution.

CHRIS KREBS: Yes, I — look, this is going to play out as it plays out. And I – you know, it’s a duly authorized investigation by the attorney general. You know, it’s — it’s in – it’s in the courts now.

MAJOR GARRETT: What are your concerns — I know you’re on the outside now, but I know you keep in close contact with those who are monitoring 2024 — about these underlying security and functionality issues?

CHRIS KREBS: Well, I think any time that you put technology systems into a process or into any sort of work flow, there’s absolutely the possibility that there are vulnerabilities or misconfigurations that can take place.

The key for election systems is, you don’t have single points of failure, what’s known as software independence in this case, where a failure of the hardware or software doesn’t result in an undermining of the entire process. And in — the FBI and CISA continue to say that there’s no known capability by an adversary that has been able to change or disrupt the casting, the counting, and the certification of a vote. I continue to have concerns, however, that – that we are not moving fast enough to get rid of some of these legacy systems and reducing vulnerabilities to stay ahead of what’s an intelligent, continually improving adversary.

MAJOR GARRETT: Very quickly, Chris Krebs, how concerned are you about threats to those who work at the local level on election administration?

CHRIS KREBS: Absolutely. The – you know, as we saw in ’22, the threats to election administration officials is off the chart and it’s resulting actually in these officials retiring and leaving the workforce. So, we’re seeing a sort of voter suppression of another kind where there may not be enough opportunities to administer the election process which will cut down on opportunities for people to actually vote.

MAJOR GARRETT: Chris Krebs, thank you very much for coming in this morning.

CHRIS KREBS: Thanks, Major.

MAJOR GARRETT: We appreciate it.

And we’ll be right back.


MAJOR GARRETT: That does it for today. We thank you for watching. Margaret will be back next week. For FACE THE NATION, I’m Major Garrett. And by the way, I’m not a fan of penalty kicks.