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

  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg 
  • Former Vice President and 2024 presidential candidate Mike Pence 
  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder 
  • University of California president Michael Drake
  • Lindsay Gorman of the German Marshall Fund 

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

MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan in Washington.

And this week on Face the Nation: The Supreme Court wraps up its session with some blockbuster decisions, reinforcing its conservative power and dealing potentially serious blows to some younger voters when it comes to education.

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PROTESTERS: We won’t go back! We won’t go back!

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MARGARET BRENNAN: Some seismic, yet not surprising decisions from a Supreme Court that’s moved to the right in recent years, striking down affirmative action programs in the college admissions process, siding with religious freedom over an anti-discrimination law involving gay rights, and overturning President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program.

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JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): This is not a normal court.

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MARGARET BRENNAN: We will talk with former vice president and 2024 GOP contender Mike Pence about the conservative take on the court’s decisions. Plus, he’s just back from Ukraine.

University of California President Dr. Michael Drake will tell us how the U.C. system ensures a diverse student body following the state’s own ban on affirmative action decades ago.

And there were some Supreme Court wins for the left. We will talk about those key voting rights decisions with Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder.

Plus: turmoil on the travel front. It’s been a miserable week for millions leading up to the Fourth of July weekend. Will the trip home be any easier?

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MAN #1: I feel gross. I feel like I want to cry. But I have nothing left.

MAN #2: Once your initial flight gets canceled and you have a connecting flight, you can forget it.

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MARGARET BRENNAN: We will talk with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about the criticism of the FAA and what’s in the works when it comes to dealing with the impact of climate change on airline travel.

Finally, can you tell the difference between an artificial intelligence- generated image and a real one? We will help you learn what to look for to tell the real deal from the A.I. fakes.

It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.

On this Fourth of July weekend, the flight cancellations and delays that have plagued travelers all the last week have eased. But there are new threats of bad weather that will likely impact return flights.

And it’s not just the severe weather, which has been and will continue to be exacerbated by climate change. It’s problems with staffing shortages, including air traffic controllers, airline and TSA personnel. There have been almost 7,500 cancellations and more than 50,000 delayed flights in the last week.

We begin today with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who joins us from Traverse City, Michigan.

Good morning to you, Mr. Secretary.

Back in January, you also had a massive grounding of flights. Why does it seem so chaotic?

PETE BUTTIGIEG (U.S. Transportation Secretary): Well, if you look at the overall picture, we’ve seen a lot of improvements.

But we had a hard few days with severe weather at the beginning of the week, and that definitely put enormous pressure on the system. Now, the good news is, on Friday, we saw, according to TSA, a record number of airline passengers, probably the most ever in America, and we saw those cancellation rates stay low.

Right now, we’re below 2 percent. But they really shot up at the first part of the week, largely because of severe weather hitting some of our key hubs.


SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: I think most passengers understand that no one can control the weather.

But anything that’s under the control of the airlines and anything that we can do on the FAA side, we need to continue pushing to make sure that there’s the smoothest possible experience for air passengers everywhere.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, and, to that point, private industry seems to be pointing back to your office.

JetBlue’s president said she was blaming the FAA. United’s CEO was very clear, saying: “The FAA failed us.”

The DOT’s inspector general — general said last month, the FAA has no real plan in place to fix the problem of inadequate air traffic control staffing in Miami, New York, key hubs. So how are you addressing that particular issue?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, first of all, let me be very clear that, even according to the industry’s own data, air traffic control staffing issues account for less than 10 percent of the delay minutes in the system.

But I would rather that number be zero. So even though this isn’t the number one cause or even the number two cause of flight disruptions, it is something that is very important to tackle, and we’re doing exactly that.

We’re hiring 1,500 new air traffic controllers this year. Our plan is to hire another 1,800 traffic controllers next year. We’re also working on staffing models that can better address the needs on the ground, and cooperating where possible and where appropriate with airlines on things that can make better use of the same national airspace.

Remember, we have the most complex national airspace in the world. But there are things we can do to manage it more efficiently. FAA is using new technology, for example, to open up routes that are more direct using GPS, which means less flight time, and ultimately can contribute to less congestion.

In the Florida airspace, we actually have enough commercial space launches taking place now that that can be a factor, as that airspace gets closed down, especially on those busy travel days. So we’ve been engaging the space industry to try to keep those launch windows clear of when there is the most traffic.

And when we have severe weather situations, like we had a few days ago, have set up a very tight operational cadence, working tightly and closely with airline operational managers to route aircraft in a way that always puts safety first, but also makes the most of the opportunities we have.

So whether we’re talking about day-to-day ops and tactics, or whether we’re talking about the bigger picture of staffing air traffic control for the future…


SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: … we’re moving very aggressively on that.

And now’s the time for these conversations, because the FAA reauthorization bill, which will cover the next five years, is moving through the Senate as we speak.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we’re still waiting on a new permanent head of the FAA.

I want to ask you about the bipartisan infrastructure bill. You were very prominent in promoting the impact on the country for the better. But there’s new data out there showing that, while taxpayers are pouring in billions of dollars to upgrade infrastructure, there is some reporting from First Street Foundation that recently came out showing the government is substantially underestimating the risk of severe rain in some of the city’s largest — some of the largest cities in the country.

So do you fear that some of these projects are being built on flawed data and flawed numbers?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: You know, part of what we’ve been working to do is make our infrastructure more resilient for the future.

You know, the — the hard reality doesn’t care about political debates. And if you have what used to be a 500-year flood happening other — every other year, and you got a road that gets washed out, and you put it back, and it gets washed out again, that doesn’t make any sense.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you were outspoken on Friday with the Supreme Court ruling in favor of a Colorado Web site designer. You called it discrimination.

Justice Gorsuch said this was a First Amendment issue where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands.

What do you make of the argument that Colorado was labeling free speech as discrimination in order to censor it?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: I think what’s really revealing is that there’s no evidence that this Web designer was ever even approached by a same-sex couple looking for services to support their wedding.

So, you’re seeing more and more of these cases and these circumstances that are designed to get people spun up and designed to chip away at rights. And I think the bigger picture here, when you look at the Supreme Court taking away a woman’s right to choose, you look at Friday’s decision diminishing the equality of same-sex couples, you look at a number of the decisions that have been made, they pose a question that is even deeper than these big cases.

And the question is this: Did we just live to see the high watermark of freedoms and rights in this country before they were gradually taken away? Because, up until now, not uniformly, but, overall, each generation was able to say that it enjoyed greater inclusion, greater equality, and more rights and freedoms than the generation before.

And those decisions have added up and affected so many people, including me, of course…


SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: … as I’m getting ready to go back to my husband and our twins for the rest of this morning, thinking about the fact that the existence of our family is — is only a reality because of a one- vote margin on the Supreme Court a few years ago.

These are the kinds of things that are at stake. And we have a Supreme Court that is very much out of step with how most Americans view these issues.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you know that conservatives are just framing this in a fundamentally different manner.

Senator Ted Cruz described the Colorado law that would compel services be provided, despite personal beliefs, and put it this way: “Should a Muslim artists be compelled by the government to draw the image of Mohammed? Should Jewish artists be forced to create art that is antisemitic?”

Do you see merit in those comparisons that have — have to do specifically with free speech and freedom of religion?

SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: You know, that’s really not a comparison that is relevant to this case.

But, more importantly, I think it’s really telling that you have to think of these far-fetched hypotheticals in order to justify decisions that are actually going to have much worse impacts in the real world. And I think this, again, goes back to the broader agenda of the culture wars that are being fired up.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Secretary, thank you for your time this morning.

Face the Nation will be back in a minute. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: One Republican presidential candidate who’s getting in some foreign travel over the weekend is former Vice President Mike Pence.

We spoke with him yesterday from a stop on his way back from Ukraine. We started with the Colorado Web site designer’s Supreme Court victory.

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MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you say to Americans who believe that this opens the door to discrimination?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE (R-Presidential Candidate): From the moment the Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriage, the court had made a commitment that they would still respect the freedom of religion and the freedom of conscience of every American.

And — and in Lorie Smith’s case, she made it very clear that she would — she would take all customers in her Web site design. She just simply said that she could not create a Web site that would celebrate something that violated her religious beliefs.

And, as you know, I’m a — I’m a Bible-believing Christian. I — I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. And I believe that every American is entitled to live, to work, to worship according to the dictates of their conscience.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand you see this as religious freedom, but in other words, are you saying that you would not refuse services to people on the basis of their sexual orientation?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: No, I — look, I think this — this is not about the law of public accommodation.

And this is both — both of these cases came from Colorado, where the heavy hand of government came in and said, look, if you have a public accommodation, whether — whether you’re a cake baker or a Web maker, that — that you’re required to — to take all customers. That’s what a public accommodation is, Margaret.

But what the Supreme Court said here, and as they did in the Jack Smith (sic) case, by a 7-2 majority, is that you can’t compel the American people to create products that are — that violate their conscience or their religious beliefs.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But how — to the public, for those who do hear some concern here, as president, how do you assure them that you will provide equal treatment to all?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Well, look, I — I believe in the freedom of religion and the freedom of conscience of every — every American.

In this case, I think the Supreme Court drew a clear line and said yes to religious liberty.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about the ruling on affirmative action.

Fundamentally, do you believe that there are racial inequities in the education system in the United States?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I’m so grateful that the Supreme Court of the United States here recognized what, frankly, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said back in 2003, was that affirmative action was a temporary solution.

It was an — it was designed to make sure that we opened doors that hadn’t been opened before. But she herself said that she expected it to go away within 25 years. It went away more quickly than that. I think that’s a tribute to our nation. It’s a great, great credit to the extraordinary accomplishments that minority students have had on our campuses.

And — and I really do believe that — that — that we can move forward as a country and — and — and embrace the notion that we’re all going to be judged not on the color of our skin, but on the content of our character, and, in this case, on our GPA.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Am I understanding you saying there in that answer that you do not believe there is racial inequity in the education system in America?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I — I just — I — I really don’t believe there is. I believe there was.

I mean, it’s — there may have been a time when affirmative action was necessary simply to open the doors of all of our schools and universities, but I think that time has passed. And we’ll continue to move forward as a colorblind society, which is really the aspiration, I believe, of every American.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The court also ruled that President Biden lacks the legal authority to forgive student debt for 40 million Americans, as he had tried to do.


MARGARET BRENNAN: In response, the president made the political argument that Republican officials couldn’t bear the thought of providing relief for working-class, middle-class Americans. How do you respond to that?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Well, first, it’s just factually wrong.

The majority of people that would have benefited from this student loan forgiveness are people with multiple graduate degrees. So you’re going to say to working Americans, to truck drivers, to people working in the trades, we’re going to take your taxes and pay down a part of the student debt of doctors and lawyers and Ph.D.s.

It just — it — nothing could be further than the truth. This was not about the middle class.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You still have to get young voters to turn out and vote for you, sir. This is a very politically popular issue for Democrats. So what is your pledge to young voters?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Well, my pledge to young voters is that we’re going to get this economy moving again.

They’re worried — they’re worried about this economy. And unconstitutional government handouts are not what these young Americans are looking for. They’re looking for a growing economy.

And they know that, by putting into practice the policies that we did in our administration, by extending those Trump/Pence tax cuts, rolling back regulations, ending the war on energy, securing our border, we’re going to set — set the table for a boundless American future for them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There is some reporting in “The Washington Post” that President Trump back in 2020, after the election, repeatedly asked you to call the governor of the state of Arizona, Doug Ducey, to get him to substantiate President Trump’s claims, false claims, of fraud.

“The Post” is reporting you did call the Arizona governor multiple times to discuss the election. Is that reporting accurate? And what did you tell Governor Ducey at the time?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I did check in with not only Governor Ducey, but other governors in states that were going through the legal process of reviewing their election results.

But there was no pressure…



I was — I was calling to get an update. I passed along that information to the president. And it was no more, no less than that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You are clearly saying you did not pressure the governor, but were you being pressured by Mr. Trump to get those — to influence Doug Ducey?

And did you talk about this with the special counsel?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: No, I — I — I don’t remember any pressure.

Look, the president and I, things came to a head at the end, Margaret, I have spoken about very openly. And the president and I continue to have a strong difference. I will always believe that, by God’s grace, I did my duty under the Constitution that day in presiding over a joint session of Congress in the aftermath of the mayhem and the rioting.

But in the days of November and December, this was — this was an orderly process. You’ll remember there were more than 60 lawsuits under way. States were engaging in appropriate reviews, and that these contacts were no more than that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You did just make this trip to Ukraine. You are the only Republican presidential candidate to have done so. And you met with President Zelenskyy.

He is being very clear that when NATO leaders meet this month, he expects clear steps and an invitation to join the Western military alliance. If you were president, would you make that pledge to a country that’s currently at war with Russia?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I’m — I’m someone that believes that it’s absolutely essential that the United States continue to provide military support to the Ukrainian military to push back on Russian aggression, because, if Russia were able to overrun Ukraine, I think it would not — it would not be long before Vladimir Putin ordered his troops across a border that, under NATO, we would be required to send men and women in uniform.

It’s not in our interests to send American forces into Ukraine, and I would never support it. And, as I met with President Zelenskyy, he made it clear that he’s not looking for that.

And I have reason to believe, Margaret, that when — when NATO meets in a few weeks in Vilnius, that — that President Zelenskyy would be open to a conditional invitation to membership in — in NATO, namely, saying that Ukraine will be a member of NATO once the war is over, once the war is won.

I mean, that — I really do believe it’s essential that — that America continue to lead, that our allies provide Ukraine with the support they need.

MARGARET BRENNAN: On the Afghanistan issue, the State Department just released a report Friday, an after-action report, that did fault the Biden administration for a number of missteps, but it also faulted the Trump administration, saying the Trump administration had insufficient senior- level consideration of worst-case scenarios when it agreed to the withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2020.

President Trump signaled his desire to end the military presence before even reaching a deal with the Taliban. There was no plan or effort to help at-risk Afghans or plan for what to do with diplomats after a withdrawal happened, just a lack of planning. Do you accept that the Trump administration bears some responsibility for this chaos?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Margaret, I don’t, because I know what the deal was that was negotiated with the Taliban.

I mean, it was made very clear. I was in the room when President Trump told the leader of the Taliban, said: Look, you’re going to have to cooperate with — with the Afghan government. You don’t harbor terrorists. And you don’t harm any American soldiers.

We went 18 months without a single American casualty until the day at that Kabul airport that we lost 13 brave American service members.

Look, the — the blame for what happened here falls squarely on the current commander in chief. And, under our administration, I promise you that, while — while it was our — it was the intention of the president, the former president, to pull our troops out, when the Taliban broke the deal and moved into Mazar-e-Sharif, and Joe Biden did nothing, that set into motion the catastrophe that — that became Afghanistan.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you saying there that you would have kept the troops beyond the 2020 deal? Is that what you’re saying?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Well, look, candidly, it was always my belief that it would be prudent to keep a couple of thousand American forces there to support our efforts against terrorist elements, both in Afghanistan and in the region.

And I — I think we ultimately would have done that, just as the president announced we were — the former president announced we were pulling troops out of Syria, you remember I was — I was sent to Turkey to negotiate a cease-fire. And — and, ultimately, there’s still American forces in Syria today.

I think we would have landed in that place.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about China as well. Do you agree with President Biden that Xi Jinping is a dictator?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I think it’s a statement of fact, Margaret.

He’s — but, look, I also want to say with regard to Ukraine, because a lot of people will say well — well, China’s the real issue. There’s no more effective way to send a deafening message to communist China to check their military ambitions in the Asia Pacific than by giving Ukraine what they need to repel the Russian invasion.

I know China’s watching. They forged this unlimited partnership with — with Russia. But I got to note, I have met President Xi. I have also met President Putin. I guarantee you President Xi is watching what’s happening in Ukraine very carefully.

We give the Ukrainians — much more quickly than Joe Biden’s doing now, we give them what they need to win this fight, to repel the Russian invasion, I think — I think it will — it will — it will lay a strong foundation for restraining the military aggression and ambitions of China in the Asia Pacific like — like almost nothing else.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, to be clear, you, as president, would commit U.S. troops to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I would say to you that I’m — I’m somebody that believes that it’s no advantage to say what you would or wouldn’t do.

I thought one of the catastrophic errors that President Biden made before the Russian invasion in Ukraine was, he signaled that, if it was just a — if it was just a small invasion, that maybe we wouldn’t send troops or we wouldn’t respond.

But, look, I — Margaret, we — never say what you’ll never do. The United States of America should continue to be providing with — Taiwan with the military means to defend themselves.

What we want is a policy of deterrence.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you for your time today, Mr. Vice President.


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MARGARET BRENNAN: Our extended interview with the former vice president is available on our YouTube page.

We will be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Gunfire interrupted a block party in Southern Baltimore early this morning, where police say two people were killed and 28 hurt. No one was arrested immediately after the shooting.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, it was the 338th mass shooting this year.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the president of the U.C. system, Dr. Michael Drake.

Stay with us.



We want to go back to the Supreme Court. Joining us now is former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who is now head of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which was involved in two election-related cases before that court.

Good morning to you.

You know, I’m sure there are a lot of things to talk about in regard to what you don’t agree with the court on, but you did have two victories here, sir. The state of Alabama will now have to redraw its congressional map to include a second majority black district as a result of this 5-4 ruling that the state discriminated against black voters. What’s the political and legal impact of this ruling?

ERIC HOLDER (Former U.S. Attorney General): Well, first of all, I think it’s an affirmation by the court that there’s still a need for a vibrant Voting Rights Act, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. What the Republican legislature did in Alabama was clearly inconsistent with precedent, inconsistent with the way in which the Voting Rights Act had been interpreted.

Alabama has about 27 percent of its inhabitants who are African American. And yet if you look at the math, they’ve only got about 7 percent — or 14 percent of the congressional seats. That decision will have an impact beyond the state of Alabama.

If you look at Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, they also have instances where the lines have been drawn in such a way to dilute the voting power of African Americans and, again, inconsistent with the Voting Rights Act. And so I think that you will also see courts rule, consistent with the Supreme Court’s ruling, that those lines will have to be redrawn in those states as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In Moore versus Harper, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to reject the theory that state legislatures can decide the rules for federal elections. I know Democrats had feared Republicans might use that to overturn results in 2024, like the former president attempted to in 2020.

Does this ruling from the court, does the fact they took on the case at all, make you more confident about the integrity of the upcoming 2024 election?

ERIC HOLDER: Yes, it makes me a lot more confident that we’re going to have a fair election come 2024. And that this ridiculous notion, this independent state legislature theory, will hopefully just go away. That was a — as fringe a theory as has ever been heard by the United States Supreme Court. The only disappointment I have in that decision is that it was not a 9-0 decision. The notion of the independent state legislature theory was that courts — that the legislatures had the final say without any involvement of court review. And that’s inconsistent with our notion of checks and balances.

It will mean that we will have the ability to go before state courts to look at what legislatures and sometimes gerrymandered legislatures are doing with regard to redistricting. And just as in any other case, have courts have the – the final say. That’s the way our – our system is designed, and that is what the court affirmed through that — through the North Carolina case.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Supreme Court did warn state courts, federal courts could still overrule on cases involving federal elections. Does that concern you?

ERIC HOLDER: No, not at all.


ERIC HOLDER: I mean, I think you want to have that backstop so that if a state court does something that is, you know, egregiously wrong, you want to have the United States Supreme Court have the ability to come in and – and correct that wrong.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about affirmative action.

In this decision that race cannot be used in college admissions, there was also, written by chief justice — the chief justice’s opinion, some detail here that seems a little confusing, frankly, because it says, nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life through discrimination, inspiration or otherwise. In other words, the student must be treated on his or her experiences as an individual, not on the basis of race. So, you can discuss race in a college application, but it can’t be — how do you understand this?

ERIC HOLDER: I don’t really understand it. It seems to me that exception or that caveat is a little inconsistent with the – the rest of the opinion and the other footnote that says, well, this doesn’t apply to the military academies, which are, in essence, nothing more than colleges. I mean, you know, colleges with a specialized mission. Again, it seems to be inconsistent with the holding.

You know, the thing is that, you know, this nation continues to grapple with issues of race. And to say that race is not a negative factor for too many people in this nation is inconsistent with just what the facts are. The notion of affirmative action is to take into account just one of many things of — when you look at qualified people, qualified students who are applying to colleges, look at that one – one of many things and say, well, you know, for diversity – for the sake of diversity, we’re going to take into consideration the fact that we want to have this black kid be a part of our university.

But there’s not attention between the use of affirmative action and excellence. I think people need to understand that. You don’t — affirmative action doesn’t mean you get into a school simply because you’re black, it means that you’re qualified, and that one of the factors that’s taken into consideration of a qualified student is that person’s race.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But one of the complications here in terms of the cases brought was the argument being made that affirmative action at Harvard, the Male (ph) Institution in particular, was hurting Asian Americans.

Jay Caspian-King, a writer for “The New Yorker,” writes, affirmative action, it was righteous in concept but hard to defend in practice. And I want to quote, if a society should make decisions with a clear eye toward history, a sentiment I agree with, shouldn’t it also follow that a group who was expelled from the U.S. would at least have the right to not be lumped in with the people who kicked them out?

He’s referring there to historic mistreatment by white people of Asian Americans, Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese internment. How do you respond to that argument?

ERIC HOLDER: Well, you know, first off, you’re looking at the Asian American community as a monolith. And there are a whole variety of groups that make up the Asian American population in the nation. And, you know, what the proponents of this lawsuit did was to try to use — pit one minority group against another so that they could ultimately reach their goal. They’ve been trying to attack affirmative action since the Baki (ph) decision back in – in 1978.

You know, this notion that somehow, some way I guess if you think that everybody who has 1,600 on their board scores, everybody who has a 4.0 ought to be admitted to a particular school. The reality is, if you just use that as a determinant, there are going to be way too many kids trying to get into these elite schools and you’re still going to have to make determinations based on other factors. And it seems to me that making race one of those factors, just one of those factors, again with regard to qualified students, is wholly consistent with our Constitution.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want — before I let you go, I want to ask you to put on your attorney general hat again. Would you counsel President Biden, or the next president, whoever that is, to consider a pardon of the 45th president of the United States, either before or after a theoretical conviction?

ERIC HOLDER: I think I’d look — tell the president, the next attorney general, you know, to let the – let the system do its work, try the cases, see what the results are and then treat that convicted president or anybody else who is convicted as any other person would be treated.

Pardons generally are for people who express remorse and then who have done things that shows that they have turned their lives around. If those kinds of determinations can be made with regard to the former president or anybody else who is convicted, yes, I would support that. In the absence of something like that, I don’t think that would be a wise thing to do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Eric Holder, former attorney general, thank you for your time.

We’ll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Prior to last week’s Supreme Court ruling, there were nine states with bans on affirmative action in college admissions. California was the first to ban it following a ballot initiative in 1996.

Joining us now is the president of the University of California system, Dr. Michael Drake.

Welcome back to the program.

We want to tap into your experience here. The school system has spent $500 million since 2004 to try to drive diversity. Is it possible to have a diverse student body without affirmative action, and how do you define diverse at this point?

MICHAEL DRAKE (M.D., President, University of California): Well, thank you very much.

You know, we’ve had efforts since the ’90s and before to try to do everything we could to, through outreach and other methods, contact those students who we wanted to see applying to our universities. We use a comprehensive admissions process to look at all the factors that led to this person’s life and their interest in being educated with us. And we think that could be done very effectively.

Affirmative action was one tool that we and others used in the past. We’ve read the court’s decision and we had the laws in California that changed in the 1990s. And we are very pleased at our ability to be able to attract students from a wide variety of backgrounds over these – over these many years.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Does this court ruling affect you at all?

MICHAEL DRAKE: Well, we’ll have to see how it plays out, in fact. You know, when we had the law change in California in the 1990s, it affected us quite profoundly and in a couple of ways. In one way it limited the way that we were admitting students. But in another way it told students that California and that the University of California were not interested in them. This was something that came from action from our regents before it passed into law. So, students that we would love to have admitted, students who were fully qualified felt unwelcome and we found went to other schools, to private school schools in California and others across the country.

This is the entire nation. So, it’s not — students aren’t hearing that we’re not interested or that colleges aren’t interested in them. And I think that — so we’ll have less of an effect on us, we think, because it affects the – the whole country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you’ve used other metrics, or – or tools to – to recruit. There’s a – a piece I just read about the socioeconomic disadvantage scale, the SED, that the university college-or university — that UC Davis and the medical school uses.

What’s an adversity score? And how does that work?

MICHAEL DRAKE: Essentially what they’re doing – what Davis is doing, we applaud this, and our other universities, other campuses in our university do in a variety of ways is look at the life circumstances of those who are applying to come to us and weigh those in a comprehensive fashion. And then they look at the quality of the application and make a decision.

And actually we do this for every student. We look at who you are, what you’ve done, what makes you a qualified applicant as we’re recruiting and admitting you to our colleges and universities.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So how do you define diversity? We – we looked at the undergraduate makeup before affirmative action and then this past fall. And the percentages, which we can put up on – on screen for – for different groups there have shifted. The state’s demographics have also shifted. The one thing that stands out is the percentage of African American students held fairly stable at this 4 percent or 4.5 percent level. Why was that unmoved really?

MICHAEL DRAKE: Yes, I think that the issues of racism and lack of opportunity that we find in our society are persistent and – and ubiquitous and we’ve been fighting against those. We’ve been working to create opportunity fighting against those for all of these years. Affirmative action was one tool that we used in the past. That was removed. We still are fighting the legacy of the centuries of oppression and denial that this country has applied and doing our best to try to create more opportunity for students who come from this unequal society.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But how do you — because – because you’re being asked essentially to quantify in some way a diverse student body, do you – do you try to match the demographics of this state? I mean how do you know if you’re succeeding or if you’re failing?

MICHAEL DRAKE: You know, we don’t do anything prospectively. You know, what we do is try to create opportunity in a comprehensive way to really evaluate the quality of every application. We can look retrospectively and see how the students that we are admitted look like the students that are graduating from California high schools and we certainly notice if there’s a great disparity there and we work on closing those gaps by doing more outreach to high schools that haven’t been sending us students, more support programs to students to make sure that they will apply to us, a number of financial aid programs that help students from low-income backgrounds, a variety of things that are meant to open up the access to the university that we feel is good for us and good for society.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m interested in which part of that you think works the best. And also, you know, the last time you were with us back in 2020, the school system was ending standardized testing in admissions.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You’ve now had that in place for a while. Does that work? Should other schools look at it?

MICHAEL DRAKE: Yes, what we found out – I’ll say two things about that. One, we eliminated the SAT in 2020. We did that just before the pandemic. But it happened to be implemented during the pandemic, so it’s a little difficult to know how much that’s affected things versus the pandemic.

What we did see was an increase in applications from students who came from diverse backgrounds, who were reluctant to apply in the past, even though we may have admitted them. So, we’re pleased to see an increase in applications from those – from those people. And it’s – and our classes are extraordinarily strong. Today our students are doing quite well. So, this has been quite a positive thing for us.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you’re keeping it in place, it sounds like?


MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Dr. Drake, thank you for sharing your insights and your experience.

We’ll be back in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: With the convergence of artificial intelligence and politics, it is increasingly difficult for voters to differentiate between real and fake. We asked Lindsay Gorman, a technology expert with the German Marshall Fund to help us discern between fact and fiction in political images.


LINDSAY GORMAN (Senior Fellow, German Marshall Fund): Let’s play a first video of Hillary Clinton apparently on MSNBC.

WOMAN: You know, people might be surprised to hear me say this, but I actually like Ron DeSantis. A lot. Yes, I know. I’d say he’s just the kind of guy this country needs. And I really mean that. If Ron DeSantis got installed as president, I’d be fine with that.

LINDSAY GORMAN: So, this is a classic deepfake video where someone has said some of these things and juxtaposed it with Hillary Clinton’s likeness and her face and her hair to make it seem like she’s now endorsing Ron DeSantis for president in 2024. Does it look realistic to you? What do you think?

MARGARET BRENNAN: That does sound like Hillary Clinton’s actual voice, but I notice that the synchronization was not there between the audio and her mouth. There was a disconnect.

LINDSAY GORMAN: Absolutely. Looking at the mouth is a really good starting place to see if it is, indeed, matching what the audio is matching.

The same thing also when we played it, her head sort of shook in a somewhat mechanical way. It felt maybe a little bit off. Same thing with her eyes and here they’re a little blurred out. And so that’s I think one way of spotting how we can tell that this is a manipulated image.

Yes, so, here’s President Biden.

All right, this one I’m going to ask you about.

MAN: You can’t be pro-insurrection and pro-cop. You can’t be pro- insurrection and pro-democracy. You can’t be pro-insurrection and pro- American. Donald Trump lacked the courage to act. The brave women and men in blue all across this nation should never forget that. LINDSAY GORMAN: So, what did you think of this one?

MARGARET BRENNAN: He didn’t blink.

LINDSAY GORMAN: Not at all, right?

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that suggests it’s fake.

LINDSAY GORMAN: This one’s actually real.


LINDSAY GORMAN: This was actually a speech he gave to the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers. And it looks really like a deepfake. It has sort of a washed out look. He didn’t move very much, just like with the other ones. And, yes, he didn’t blink for the whole 17-second clip. And when this actually surfaced about a year ago, there were conspiracy theories and people thinking that this had to have been a deepfake, even though it came from the DNC’s own social media account and was later published by the White House itself.

The reason that we can tell that this one is not a deepfake, we really need to rely on context and the source, first of all, coming out a full White House video, giving a speech and these were remarks that were delivered virtually, we’re not only at risk of seeing things that are false and thinking that they’re true, but actually seeing things that are true and thinking that they’re false. And that’s kind of the liar’s dividend, that in an information environment that — where we can’t tell what’s real and what’s not.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A liar’s dividend.

LINDSAY GORMAN: A liar’s dividend. That the liar can kind of take the advantage because the liar can just say, well, this – this — maybe this audio that you caught of me, this image that you took of me, that’s actually not true. It’s a – it’s just a fake. And it’s hard to prove whether something is actually real, not just whether something is – is fake. And – and this is really advantageous sort of to autocrats and to those who would sow doubt and discord in our information space.

So, this one, I don’t know if you saw this one when it came out. Does it look familiar to you at all?

MARGARET BRENNAN: This — this is the image that actually caused a market sell-off, right?


MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s a fake picture of the Pentagon with what looks like plumes of smoke.

LINDSAY GORMAN: Exactly. So, how can we tell that this is fake?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, for someone who hasn’t been to the Pentagon, I – I think it would be hard. There is just something that looks slightly off about this building that I can’t quite articulate.

LINDSAY GORMAN: These AI generated images have a sort of hyper – hyper realistic sheen to them. And this one has it a little bit. You can see with the plume. But really I think this one needs a closer look. The building, as you pointed out, doesn’t really actually look like the Pentagon. And even if you hadn’t been to the Pentagon, you could see by doing a Google image search –

MARGARET BRENNAN: To compare it.

LINDSAY GORMAN: And doing street view and comparing, is there really an angle of the Pentagon that looks like this? There isn’t. Take a look. So, these are, obviously, these photos of – of — fake photos of – of Trump being arrested.

MARGARET BRENNAN: For someone at home who may not be following things very closely, they might think this was reality?

LINDSAY GORMAN: Absolutely. Especially from a first look. How can we tell that these are fake? What do you think about –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Besides that not actually happening.



LINDSAY GORMAN: And context is a really important piece of this.

In – in this photo, Trump has at least three legs. So, extra limbs here. Probably that one, there are a few — a few extra limbs as well. But these absolutely capture the imagination and make people think, oh, was Trump actually arrested.

All right, here’s one for you. What’s real? What’s fake? How can we tell?

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, so that’s his actual lawyer recently in New York. So, I do recognize him in the context.

LINDSAY GORMAN: Yes, that one’s real from the arraignment.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What is this? Is this fake?

LINDSAY GORMAN: This is a fake. Think – the – the — maybe the biggest giveaway is the crying. The actual context of it, yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. Oh, is that what’s he’s – he’s supposed to be crying?

LINDSAY GORMAN: Yes, he’s — h’s crying at his hearing. And sort of the technical signature, this is – this does have the sheen. Some of the — the gentlemen in the back, their faces are blurred.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This one, I want to say it’s fake.

LINDSAY GORMAN: That one’s real.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That one is real?

LINDSAY GORMAN: Yes, absolutely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re kidding?

LINDSAY GORMAN: It’s just the differences in lighting. Yes, that — that’s a real photo there.

In this, what you’re going through right now, once you look at enough of these, the default position really does become just be skeptical of everything.


LINDSAY GORMAN: Which makes sense because if – if it gets us to check and if it gets us to find a source and investigate and use these – these media literacy techniques. But on the other hand, it has some dangerous implications for our democracy and our society. We need to be able to trust in what we see and what we hear. It’s not realistic for us to check and do a reverse Google image search on every piece of content we come across.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It makes having news standards that much more important. And these mostly circulate online.

LINDSAY GORMAN: Absolutely. And the role here of the media is – is so crucial and clearly labeling when something is manipulated, when something’s fake and when something’s real, as well as the role I think of — of technologies that can give us these digital watermarks and – and show what’s real.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we’ll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: The CDC reports that black women are more than three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related complication. Tonight, BET’s monthly news magazine, “Black in America,” explores the troubling rise in maternal mortality and features an interview with Vice President Kamala Harris. That’s at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time on BET and streaming on Paramount Plus.

That’s it for us today. Thank you all for watching. Have a happy Independence Day. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.