Full transcript of “Face the Nation” on Feb. 26, 2023
▶ Watch Video: 02/26: Burns, D’Agata, Rice
On this “Face the Nation” broadcast, moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- CIA director William Burns
- Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
- Reps. Mike Gallagher, Republican of Wisconsin, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat of Illinois
- Drew Findling and Jennifer Little, attorneys for former President Donald Trump in the Fulton County, Georgia, investigation
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: As the war in Ukraine officially enters its second year, divisions between the competing global alliances are getting even sharper. Are we heading into a new Cold War?
We spoke exclusively with CIA Director Bill Burns at the CIA on Friday. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will give us her world view. And we will talk with the chairs of a new congressional committee created to investigate threats to the U.S. from the Chinese Communist Party.
It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.
Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.
It was a high-stakes week on the foreign policy front. President Biden took a daring top secret trip to Kyiv to mark one year of the war in Ukraine. Chinese President Xi moved closer to Russian President Putin, while the U.S., NATO and most of Western Europe doubled down in their support for Ukraine.
On Friday, we traveled to CIA headquarters in nearby Langley, Virginia, where we sat down with CIA Director Bill Burns.
Here’s part of our conversation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: On the cusp of Russia’s invasion, you flew to Kyiv, and you told President Zelenskyy — tell me if this is right — the Russians are coming to kill you.
Was that the very first thing you said?
WILLIAM BURNS (CIA Director): It wasn’t the very first thing I said to President Zelenskyy.
But President Biden had asked me to go to Kyiv to lay out for President Zelenskyy the most recent intelligence we had, which suggested that what Vladimir Putin was planning was what he thought would be a lightning strike from the Belarus border to seize Kyiv in a matter of a few days, and also to seize an airport just northwest of Kyiv called Hostomel, which he wanted to use as a platform to bring in air — airborne troops, as a way, again, of accelerating that lightning conquest of Kyiv.
And I think President Zelenskyy understood what was at stake and what he was up against.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You also have said — and tell me if this is correct — that it was only a group of about three or four people around Vladimir Putin who knew that he was actually planning this invasion.
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: Mm-hmm. No, I think that’s true. Putin had narrowed his circle of advisers, and it was a circle in which he prized loyalty over competence.
It was a group of people who tended to tell him what he wanted to hear. That was one of the deepest flaws I think, in Russian decision-making just before the war is, it was such a close circle of people reinforcing one another’s profoundly mistaken assumptions.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Does he take counsel from anyone these days?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: I think he’s become increasingly convinced that he knows better than anyone else what’s at stake for Russia.
I think his sense of destiny, and his appetite for risk has increased in recent years as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You recently went back to Kyiv, and you met with President Zelenskyy. And three months ago, I understand you met with Russia’s top spy chief.
Is there any kind of opening that you are finding here, any kind of opportunity?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: No, I mean, the conversation that I had with Sergey Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s external intelligence service, was pretty dispiriting.
My goal was not to talk about negotiations. That’s something that Ukrainians are going to need to take up with the Russians when they see fit. It was to make clear to Naryshkin and, through him, to President Putin the serious consequences should Russia ever choose to use a nuclear weapon of any kind as well.
And I think Naryshkin understood the seriousness of that issue, and I think President Putin has understood it as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There’s not a lot of contact with Russia right now.
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: There’s not a great deal; you’re right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you still have that line of communication with your counterpart?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: Yes.
And I — and I think, even in the most deeply adversarial relationships — and that’s certainly what our relationship with Russia is today — it’s important to have those lines open. And the president believes that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you walk away from those conversations with? You said it was dispiriting.
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: Mm-hmm.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: There was a very defiant attitude on the part of Mr. Naryshkin as well, a sense of cockiness and hubris, reflecting Putin’s own view, his own belief today that he can make time work for him, that he believes he can grind down the Ukrainians, that he can wear down our European allies, that political fatigue will eventually set in.
And, in my experience, Putin’s view of Americans, of us, has been that we have attention deficit disorder, and we’ll move on to some other issue eventually. And so Putin, in many ways, I think, believes today that he cannot win for awhile, but he can’t afford to lose.
MARGARET BRENNAN: He doesn’t seem to have that assessment, though,
I mean, 97 percent of his ground force is in Ukraine.
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s a meat grinder. Does he just look at his population and say, I have enough young men I can continue to send off to die?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: He’s…
MARGARET BRENNAN: I mean, what is the price that makes him change his mind?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: He’s — Putin is certainly not a sentimentalist about the loss of Russian life or the huge losses that he’s taken in terms of Russian armaments as well during the course of the war.
But there’s a lot of hubris that continues to be attached to Putin and his view of the war right now. And I think what’s going to be critical is to puncture that hubris on Putin’s part and regain momentum on the battlefield.
I don’t think the Russians are serious today. And I think it’s only progress on the battlefield that’s going to shape any improved prospects for negotiations down the road.
MARGARET BRENNAN: At what point does Putin say, I can’t win?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: I think Putin is right now entirely too confident of his ability to wear down Ukraine, to grind away.
And that’s what he’s giving every evidence that he’s determined to do right now. At some point, he’s going to have to face up to increasing costs as well, in coffins coming home to some of the poorest parts of Russia. There’s a cumulative economic damage to Russia as well, huge reputational damage. It has not exactly been a great advertisement for Russian arms sales.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: So this is going to build over time, but, right now, the honest answer, I think Putin is quite determined.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about what appears to be potentially a new line of ammunition and weapons for Russia.
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: Secretary Blinken has said publicly we have begun to see — we have begun to collect intelligence suggesting that China is considering the provision of lethal equipment.
That’s not to suggest that they’ve made a definitive conclusion about this.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Secretary Blinken said that the U.S. had picked up information over the last couple of months. But picking up information over the last couple of months to thinking they’re actively considering it, I mean, how confident are you in the intelligence that this is something Xi Jinping himself may change his mind about?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: Well, we’re confident that the Chinese leadership is considering the provision of lethal equipment.
We also don’t see that a final decision has been made yet, and we don’t see evidence of actual shipments of lethal equipment. And that’s why, I think, Secretary Blinken and the president have thought it important to make very clear what the consequences of that would be as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: To deter it?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: Yes, to deter it, because it would be a very risky and unwise bet.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, why would Beijing risk a tailspin in its relationship with the United States and with Europe by crossing this line?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: It’s a good question, and that’s why I hope very much that they don’t.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think that Beijing benefits from having the West distracted and involved in a prolonged conflict in Europe…
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: I mean…
MARGARET BRENNAN: … that that’s the aim?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: It’s conceivable.
But I think there’s no foreign leader who’s watched more carefully Vladimir Putin’s experience in Ukraine, the evolution of the war, than Xi Jinping has.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What are the consequences for the conflict in Ukraine if this does happen? What does more ammunition and more weapons mean? Does this — is it a game-changer?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: We also have evidence that the Iranians are providing lethal equipment and munitions, that the North Koreans are doing the same thing as well.
So, wherever that lethal assistance comes from, it prolongs a vicious war of aggression.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How good is our visibility into Xi Jinping’s thinking and his decision-making process?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: Oh, it’s always the hardest question for any intelligence service as well, you know, in — in an authoritarian system where power is consolidated so much in the hands of one man.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you had such exquisite intelligence when it came to Russia and Vladimir Putin and his inner circle. Do we have that for Xi Jinping?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: Oh, we work very hard to develop that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Working on it?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: I think we work very hard to develop the very best intelligence we can.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But I wonder if, when you’re talking about his thinking and his decision-making if he suffers from the same kind of yes-man culture that you said Vladimir Putin does, because Xi Jinping got rid of a lot of people in his government.
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: It’s a — Margaret, it’s a concern in any authoritarian system.
And I think what we’ve seen in Beijing is President Xi consolidating power at a very rapid pace over the course of the more than a decade that he’s been in power as well.
And as we’ve seen, where Putin’s hubris has now gotten Russia, and the horrors that he’s brought to the people of Ukraine in that kind of a system, a very closed decision-making system, where nobody challenges the authority of their insights of an authoritarian leader, you can make some huge blunders as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’ve said Xi Jinping told his military to be prepared to invade Taiwan by 2027. The intel community seems a little bit more ambiguous in its conclusions here.
Do you think it’s an outright invasion, or do you think China’s more likely to slowly strangle democracy in Taiwan?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: We need to take very seriously Xi’s ambitions with regard to ultimately controlling Taiwan.
That doesn’t, however, in our view, mean that a military conflict is inevitable. We do know, as has been made public, that President Xi has instructed the PLA, the Chinese military leadership, to be ready by 2027 to invade Taiwan. But that doesn’t mean that he’s decided to invade in 2027 or any other year as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: I think our judgment, at least, is that President Xi and his military leadership have doubts today about whether they could accomplish that invasion.
I think, as they’ve looked at Putin’s experience in Ukraine, that’s probably reinforced some of those doubts as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you when the intelligence community will have some insight into what Beijing was collecting with that spy balloon over the U.S.?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: It was clearly an intelligence platform.
And I think we’ll be able to develop a pretty clear picture of exactly what its capabilities were.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But it will be a while, won’t it?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: It takes some time, but I think my understanding is that we’re managing to pull up quite a bit of evidence and material from that platform.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think Xi Jinping knew that balloon was sent here?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: I don’t know.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You have an idea.
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: Well, I think the Chinese leadership obviously understood that they had launched this capability, that it was an intelligence platform.
Whether — when and what the Chinese leadership knew about the trajectory of this balloon, I honestly can’t say.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’ve said in the past, there’s the beginnings of a full-fledged defense partnership between Russia and Iran. Exactly how far does the alliance go?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: Well, it’s moving at a pretty fast clip in a very dangerous direction right now, in the sense that we know that the Iranians have already provided hundreds of armed drones to the Russians, which they’re using to inflict pain on Ukrainian civilians and Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.
We know that they’ve provided ammunition for artillery and for tanks as well. And what we also see are signs that Russia is proposing to help the Iranians on their missile program and also at least considering the possibility of providing fighter aircraft to Iran as well.
So it’s a quite disturbing set of developments.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Have Iran’s leaders made the decision to pursue a nuclear weapon?
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: To the best of our knowledge, we don’t believe that the supreme leader in Iran has yet made a decision to resume the weaponization program that we judge that they suspended or stopped at the end of 2003.
But the other two legs of the stool, meaning enrichment programs, they’ve obviously advanced very far, you know, over the course of the last couple years.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Eighty-four percent purity, reportedly.
DIRECTOR WILLIAM BURNS: They’ve advanced very far, to the point where it would only be a matter of weeks before they could enrich to 90 percent, if they chose to cross that line.
And also, in terms of their missile systems, their ability to deliver a nuclear weapon once they developed it, has also been advancing as well. So, the answer to your question is, no, we don’t see evidence that they have made a decision to resume that weaponization program, but the other dimensions of this challenge, I think, are growing at a worrisome pace too.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Our full conversation with Director Burns is on our Web site and our YouTube channel.
Face the Nation will be back in one minute with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, so don’t go away.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re back with President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is the current director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE (Former U.S. Secretary of State): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Good to have you here.
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: It’s awfully good to be with you, too.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, when you were secretary of state, Bill Burns, CIA director, was U.S. ambassador to Moscow.
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: That’s correct, and, later on, undersecretary for policy at the State Department when I was still at State. So…
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you worked together very closely.
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And I was reading his book recently, where he was talking about your head-to-heads with Vladimir Putin, who didn’t like you standing in high heels, apparently, taller than he is.
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But on the serious matter, what do you make of the Biden administration’s policy, the choices it’s making and how they’re using the CIA director as kind of the tip of the spear here?
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, I think, in general, in total, the policy is in the right direction.
You have to support Ukraine. You have to do it as much as you can as a part of a coalition. It’s really important that the Europeans are on board. And I have been impressed with what they’ve been able to achieve with the Europeans in creating that — that unity.
And, in a sense, NATO has never been in better shape. I do think — and, look, it’s a lot easier out here than it is in there. But I do think we sometimes seem to be a little bit behind in what we provide to the Ukrainians.
So, we were not going to provide air defenses, and then we did, tanks and – – and armor, and now we have. And so, if I could say one thing, to perhaps just to anticipate a little bit better what the Ukrainians are going to need, because it takes a long time to supply.
And as to Bill Burns’ role, he’s unique. I think he’s walking a very fine line and doing a good job of it. He’s an intelligence chief at this point, but he has vast experience in Russia. He knows the Russians. They know him. And so I think the signaling and the sending him to Moscow to talk with Naryshkin, for instance, or with Zelenskyy in Ukraine makes perfectly good sense with this particular director of the CIA.
MARGARET BRENNAN: When you talk about delivering weapons to Ukraine, you wrote an op-ed with former Defense Secretary Bob Gates talking about this, saying, have a dramatic increase in military supplies and capability.
Does that mean train them yesterday on the F-16s they’ll need tomorrow? Is that specifically the piece of weapon — weaponry you’re focused on?
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, we weren’t talking about a specific set of weapon systems, but I think the idea that you anticipate and, therefore, perhaps you start the training before it’s going to be necessary to send that equipment.
The one thing we know is that this war keeps evolving.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: And you try to have to — you have to try to evolve a little bit ahead of it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you think President Biden is being a little too hesitant?
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, I — again, I don’t know. Internally, we have issues with stockpiles. We have issues with our own — own defense capabilities, because I don’t think anybody expected to be fighting a land war in Europe.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: And so I have some sympathy for that.
But to the degree that that can be accelerated, I think it will help, because I think we have to get away from the phrase time is on the Ukrainians’ side. I would be careful about that. Vladimir Putin seems to believe the time is not on the Ukrainians’ side.
He believes, if he throws in the Russian way of war, mass at the problem, poor boys from Dagestan who are just kind of cannon fodder, if he engages in terrorist activities against the Ukrainian population, he’ll wear the Ukrainians down, he’ll wear us down, he’ll wear the Europeans down. I don’t think that’s right, but we have to do everything that we can to convince him that it is indeed wrong.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Russia invaded Georgia in 2008.
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: At that time — and I was reading these cables recently — you and Bill Burns were going back and forth on Ukraine joining NATO and whether that crosses that red line for Vladimir Putin.
Do you think now, after all these years of waiting, that Ukraine should be allowed into NATO?
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, that’s going to be a hard lift because of the Article 5 an attack on one is an attack upon all guarantee of NATO.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And no one wants to take that vote now?
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: That’s right.
But I do think that what we’ve seen is that Ukraine is de facto now a very strong ally of NATO and vice versa. And I expect that’s going to continue, because I think some form of security arrangements with — with Ukraine will be necessary in the future, and it’s probably good to start working on that now.
What we do know is that the — that NATO itself is protected. The piece of territory that was not protected was Ukraine. And that tells you something about leaving a vacuum in the center of Europe. And so, whatever we do — and I doubt it will be Article 5 — we need to make sure that that vacuum isn’t there in the future.
MARGARET BRENNAN: At this early stage of the 2024 presidential race, foreign policy is already getting talked about a fair amount.
Former President Trump criticized the amount of U.S. funding for Ukraine. Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, widely expected to run, said the U.S. cannot provide Ukraine an open-ended blank check.
They reject your point of view, in many ways, by saying the U.S. needs to kind of pull back here.
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, I’m not going to put words in the mouth of future presidential candidates. We’ll see where they — where they end up.
But I will…
MARGARET BRENNAN: You mean Ron DeSantis?
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Right. But I will…
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: But I will say this.
It is really important that whoever runs for president of the United States understands the essence of this conflict, the fact that we are defending not just Ukrainian independence, but we’re defecting a rule — we are defending a rules-based system that says, might doesn’t make right, you can’t just extinguish your neighbor.
And, oh, by the way, for those who would say, oh, we ought to be concentrating on the Indo-Pacific because China is really our adversary, Xi Jinping is telling you what he thinks about that, because he is not only watching what is going on in Ukraine. According to our intelligence, apparently, he’s even considering getting in on the side of the Russians.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why do you think he would make that judgment?
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why is it in his interest to extend the war?
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: We have — we have — yes, so, I think we have to recognize that the Chinese-Russian relationship is perhaps more strategic than many of us had thought, that it really is a relationship that is aimed at the heart of U.S. power in the world.
And that would say, then, these two are not divisible. So, if you want to say, let’s just concentrate on the Indo-Pacific, that’s not going to work. And oh, by the way, many of our allies, Australia, Japan, fundamentally understand that.
So, I would say to those who are going to run for office, be careful what you say. And I would just make one other point. If the American people see a world in which Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have won this engagement, this first volley, if you will, in the larger strategic picture, and they see that Ukrainian independence has been extinguished, and they know that the United States could have done something about it, I don’t think that’s going to be a very good message for a future president to have to deliver.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Because that problem will come to his desk?
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Because that problem will come to his desk.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Or her desk?
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Or her desk.
And I would just say, just remember dates, 1914, 1941, 2001. These conflicts always come home.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Sobering warning there.
You’ve said, though, for the Republican Party, they need new leadership, a new generation. Do you have a leader in mind? U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, for example?
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: I think the Republican Party has a lot of very good prospects.
When I say we need leadership — new leadership, I’m not coming back either. So I think it’s really time for us to look at those who can — can look at an American future. And there are a lot of very, very good candidates out there. Let’s — let’s let everybody make their case and see where we — where we end up.
MARGARET BRENNAN: To that question I asked you earlier about why it would be in Xi Jinping’s interest to have destabilization in Europe, do you think it really is ultimately a long game for Taiwan, tie up the West in Europe, so he can expand in the Pacific?
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, that’s pretty precise.
I think this is really more about weakening American power in the world. And one way that you do that, I don’t think he would have chosen for Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Apparently, his intelligence didn’t know.
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: And it’s become quite a mess as well. And your relationship without limits is with somebody who’s causing all kinds of problems.
But I think what we have to convince the Chinese of is, this is, first of all, not in their interests…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: … because his primary interest is to grow the Chinese economy against headwinds that include, of course, a demographic disaster that they are having…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: … and strengthen Taiwan, so that it’s not an easy target.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: It is not inevitable that — that the Chinese win this battle.
In fact, I will bet on American democracy, American innovation, American strengths. But that isn’t inevitable either that they will triumph.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Secretary Rice, thank you for your analysis today.
FORMER SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: A new bipartisan House select committee is putting a focus on the geopolitical threat from the Chinese Communist Party.
Republican Mike Gallagher serves as the chairman and Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi is the ranking member. We will talk with them both when we come back. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation.
Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.
We’re joined now by the two leaders of that new House select committee on China, Congressman Mike Gallagher and Raja Krishnamoorthi.
Welcome to the program.
REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You have your first hearing on Tuesday. What is the message you both hope to send with it?
MIKE GALLAGHER: Well, first, let me say how excited I am to work with ranking member Krishnamoorthi. He is a hopeless Bears fan, but he is smart and clear eyed when it comes to the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party. And in addition to elucidating that threat, I want to send a message that committee’s work is going to be bipartisan. Speaker McCarthy wants to be bipartisan. And I firmly believe that besides its own people, what the Chinese Communist Party fears most is the idea of Republicans and Democrats working together to counter CCP aggression.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the question is, can you maintain bipartisanship? The vote to create the committee was bipartisan, concerns bipartisan, but this spy balloon incident, things got very political very fast. How do you manage that?
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Well, I echo the chairman’s sentiment. And though he is a Packers fan, I am glad to work with him.
Look, I think that you’re absolutely right, that the spy balloon incident quickly became political. And, you know, unfortunately, some folks on the other side took it as an opportunity to bash the president with regards to the Chinese Communist Party, even though on the whole I think he handled it very well.
Mike is right that, you know, the Chinese Communist Party likes nothing better than to have divisions between Democrats and Republicans. In fact, their chief political theorist, a guy named Mr. Wong Huning (ph) has said that this is a huge weakness in America, that Democrats and Republicans don’t get along. And so we have to get over that to be effective.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So help me understand the purpose of this committee. Because you have the House Foreign Affairs Committee, you have the Intelligence Committee. This committee was particularly focused, as I under it, on the communist Chinese party threat, including here in the U.S. So, what is the extent of the activities here in the U.S.? I know you, Congressman Gallagher, have been looking at police stations — Chinese police stations on U.S. soil?
MIKE GALLAGHER: Well, I think the Chinese spy balloon isn’t — illustrates perfectly that this isn’t just an over there problem. This isn’t just a matter of some obscure territorial claim in the East China Sea. This is a right here at home problem. This is a threat to our sovereignty.
So, yesterday, I went with a committee member, Democrat Ritchie Torres, to the site of one of these CCP police stations in the heart of New York being used to harass and surveil Chinese dissidents. We then met with a group of Chinese students on American campuses that have been subject to harassment, and in some cases physical assault. So, we may call this a strategic competition, but it’s not a tennis match. This is about what type of world we want to live in. Do we want to live in Xinjiang light or do we want to live in the free world, where we’re free from fear, free to speak our minds and free to choose our own future.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Xinjiang, you’re referring to where there are concentration camps for Muslim minorities in China.
When you talk about those police station, 54 overseas police stations according to the Spanish-based human rights watchdog.
So, help me understand, how – I mean the State Department says they don’t like this. The FBI doesn’t like this. How is that possible that this is on U.S. soil?
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, unfortunately, there are certain non-profit organizations that the Chinese Communist Party has used to try to do espionage and to crack down on Tibetans, and Hong Kongers, and Uyghur activists. And we – I’m very glad —
MARGARET BRENNAN: Living in America.
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: Living in America. In fact, my State of the Union guest was a Uyghur activist whose family has been imprisoned in China because she is speaking out against the genocide against Uyghurs in China. But one thing that I really want to bring to everyone’s attention is that just at the same time that we are very concerned about the CCP going after Chinese origin people here, we have to make sure that in our conversations about Chinese origin people we don’t engage in any stereotyping or questioning people’s loyalty.
One of my colleagues, unfortunately, attacked, Judy Chu, the first Chinese American congresswoman in the United States Congress, saying that somehow she’s not loyal to the United States. I find that offensive as an Asian American myself. And I want to hear Republicans also echo that sentiment that I just made because we have to make sure that in ourconversations in the committee, we stay out of xenophobia and we make sure that we keep the focus on the Chinese Communist Party.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In fact, this was a bipartisan agreement to create the committee but House progressives voiced concerns because of what you just said. The vice chair of the Asian American Caucus said they fear it will feed into bigotry. So, how do you stop your work from being distorted?
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, I – I’d like to say that I’m hoping that the chairman will echo my sentiments with regards to Judy Chu and the attack on her. We can’t go that route. Again, the Chinese Communist Party loves it when we are internally fractious, and they like it when we are stereotyping. We have to avoid that, and we have to hold the Chinese Communist Party available — accountable for specific activities and deal with those.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I think he asked you to call someone out.
MIKE GALLAGHER: Well, let me say, we should not question anybody’s loyalty to the United States. I think that is out of bounds. It’s beyond the pale.
If there are concerns about a specific organization, and as a matter of fact the China Council for the Promotion of Peace Reunification isn’t — is tied directly subordinate to the united front work department of the CCP, then we should work with our colleagues to apprise them that they might be targets for CCP united front work, CCP influences. A former counterintelligence officer, I can tell you, we are a soft target in Congress.
But, absolutely, we shouldn’t question anybody’s loyalty. And going forward, I think what’s critical, and the reason we actually got the committee renamed to focus on the Chinese Communist Party is to constantly make that distinction between the party and the people.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
MIKE GALLAGHER: And the people are often the primary victims of the CCP’s aggression and repression.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, I read in “The National Review” that you are going to require all of those testifying to disclose foreign ties, not just to the Chinese Communist Party, but given how extensive the ties are in the business community, that there is really no difference, according to U.S. intelligence between the state and the Chinese business community. Everyone’s going to have to disclose this. I mean how do you reassure people that this doesn’t steer into Joseph McCarthy territory?
MIKE GALLAGHER: Well, I — Joseph McCarthy’s from my district. He’s buried in my district. We need not exhume his body and reanimate it. And I’ve written to the extent of, we must constantly be aware of going overboard as we try and win this competition with China. That being said, there are disclosure requirements similar for that for most committees for testifying. Our bar is slightly higher given the nature of our work. I’m confident we can work through the complexity.
But, you’re right, I think what makes this competition more complex in many ways than the old Cold War is, we never had to contemplate selective economic decoupling with the Soviet Unions because our economies didn’t interact. This, in my mind, as sort of a military guy, is the most difficult area of competition, but we have to safeguard our own economy and make sure that we’re not unwittingly financing genocide or PLA modernization.
MARGARET BRENNAN: PLA is the Chinese military.
So, is it true, you’re calling in the NBA commissioner to testify?
MIKE GALLAGHER: We’re hoping to have a conversation first with the NBA, with Disney, other companies that my constituents and others have voiced concern over. We haven’t issued any announcement about hearings besides the one we’re having on Tuesday night. But I think we can have a productive conversation with companies that have substantial business interests in China and we want to make sure that the power of the Chinese economy is not seducing certain companies into betraying American values.
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: Can I just jump in?
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you have subpoena power?
MIKE GALLAGHER: We do.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Will you use it for corporations?
MIKE GALLAGHER: If we need to. I think — if we want someone to testify and we believe their presence is essential to the committee function –
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
MIKE GALLAGHER: I want to do it in a bipartisan fashion.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: I think at the heart of this committee we do not have a quarrel with the people of China.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: The – the differences that we have are with the CCP, the Chinese Communist Party. And indeed many of our businesses have ties with the Chinese economy where some of the most intertwined economies in the world.
The – the challenge for our committee, indeed our country is, how do we continue to engage the People’s Republic of China, but at the same time protect ourselves, our values, our interests –
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: And our alliances with our partners and friends and others in the Indo-Pacific region.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And I imagine your issues with Disney and the NBA have to do with things like changing messages to censor things that can’t be said that are critical? Is that it?
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: Sure.
MIKE GALLAGHER: Well, the NBC incident I think caught a lot of attention because here you had an NBA executive who merely tweeted support for Hong Kong protesters.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
MIKE GALLAGHER: And, remember, these people, in many cases, were out in the streets waving American flags. So they look to us for leadership. And then the NBA quickly moved to silence that. So, we just want to make sure that American companies are acting like Americans, and embracing American values like – like free speech and plurality and – and things like that. So that’s — that’s the concern.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman Krishnamoorthi, I know that when you got back, Congressman Gallagher from Taiwan, you issued a statement that was pretty scathing in terms of a backlog you said of weapons to Taiwan. Do you consider there to be slowness on the part of the administration or is this more of an issue with private industry just having such supply chain constraints right now?
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: I think it’s a little bit of the latter. I think under the Biden administration, and on a bipartisan basis in Congress, under the National Defense Authorization Act from the last Congress, we did – we took unprecedented steps to provide additional armaments under the Taiwan Relations Act under which we are obligated to provide articles of defense to Taiwan. But we need to do more because what we know is that the CCP, as you said in your last interview with CIA Director Burns, is — wants to have the capability to successfully invade Taiwan by 2027, if not sooner. So that means we have to arm or help supply Taiwan’s defense even more rapidly than we are right now.
For instance, by working with private industry to unwind supply chains, introduce more competition into the – into the mix to allow for smaller businesses and entities to provide more agile and nimble supplies of armaments. But the bottom line is, we’ve got to hustle because, at the end of the day, we want to discourage and deter aggression on the part of the CCP.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you’re saying your intentions here are coming from a genuine place. The concern for policymakers sometimes is that they get boxed in by politics.
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: Sure.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know this.
And everyone running for president in 2024 is going to vow to be tough on China. So, how do you – how do you actually get something done in a space it’s going to become really, really hot?
MIKE GALLAGHER: Well, I think we can identify sort of the bipartisan center of gravity on China. Listen, we’re not nave. We’re not going to agree on 100 percent of everything. And there’s going to be meaningful disagreements within all the 2024 contenders.
But I want both sides, in some way, to look to the committee as the area for the most forward leaning, innovative and bipartisan policy in legislation on China. And I think there are things we can do.
When it comes to clearing the backlog, that’s a bipartisan issue. It predates the Biden administration to be sure.
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: Right.
MIKE GALLAGHER: But I emphatically agree with what Raja said about, if we want to prevent another collapse of deterrence across the Taiwan Strait, then we should be working to give Taiwan the resources and asymmetric weapons they need to defend themselves. So, I think we can be effective in that regard.
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: Absolutely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, two questions. You want to hold a hearing in Taiwan, I read. Is that going to happen? And can you get TikTok banned, as you both are trying to do?
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: Who goes first?
MIKE GALLAGHER: Yes.
Well, it would be — technically you could do a field hearing in a – in a foreign country. So, you know, I’ve been to Taiwan. I think it’s valuable for members to go there. I’m hoping to bring a bipartisan group at the appropriate time and perhaps we could do a field hearing in Guam on the way back.
But again, we have our first hearing on Tuesday. We’re going to pass rules the morning of. So, we’ve got to crawl a little bit, then walk, and then maybe we can run with our – our fan fancy field hearings.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is this the year TikTok gets banned?
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: I don’t think it’s going to get banned. I think what we’re asking for is, you know, TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company, that’s required to provide its user data, including on the 140 million Americans, as well as control of algorithms to the Chinese Communist Party upon request. All we’re saying is, if TikTok is going to operate here –
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: Don’t have that user data and algorithms controlled by an adversarial regime.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. We will be watching your hearing on Tuesday.
Thank you very much, gentlemen.
MIKE GALLAGHER: Thank you.
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The investigation of former President Trump in Fulton County, Georgia, took a strange turn last week. And Mr. Trump’s lawyers now argue it could impact a possible trial. At the center of the controversy, Emily Kohrs, the forewoman for the special grand jury that investigated alleged election interference in Georgia by Trump and his allies. Kohrs gave several interviews in which she hinted that more than a dozen key players, perhaps even the former president, might have been recommended for indictments.
Now, special grand juries can’t indict, but that recommendation could prompt the district attorney to create a criminal grand jury. The judge overseeing the case told CNN last week that although the deliberations are confidential, quote, what witnesses said, what you put in the report, those are not off limits to those on the jury.
The attorneys for President Trump in the Georgia case had not given an interview to any TV network, but the Kohrs media tour prompted them to talk to our Robert Costa.
EMILY KOHRS, FOREWOMAN FOR THE SPECIAL GRAND JURY: I kind of wanted to subpoena the former president because I got to swear everybody in. And so I thought it would be really cool to get 60 seconds with President Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you recommend charges against Donald Trump?
EMILY KOHRS: I really don’t want to share something that the judge made a conscious decision not to share.
ROBERT COSTA (voice over): Could Emily Kohrs’ public disclosures jeopardize the case that could be brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis? Kohrs is part of a special purpose grand jury that heard months of testimony from more than 75 witnesses about alleged Republican efforts to pressure state officials, like Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to overturn President Biden’s victory in Georgia.
DONALD TRUMP (Former U.S. President): Look, Brad, I’ve got to get — I have to find 12,000 votes, and I have them.
ROBERT COSTA: Kohrs suggested the special grand jury submitted a report to Willis last month that recommended multiple indictments on a range of charges. But Willis has yet to decide whether or not to convene a criminal grand jury that could issue indictment against some Trump allies and even the former president himself.
Drew Findley and Jennifer Little head up the former president’s legal team in the Georgia case. They say that Emily Kohrs’ media tour has tainted any attempt by District Attorney Willis to move toward charging Trump.
ROBERT COSTA (on camera): What are your options?
DREW FINDLING (Defense Attorney, Former President Trump): Are the results of that special purpose grand jury to be crumbled up like a piece of paper and thrown into a waste paper basket? Our options are, can this district attorney’s office continue to be part of this case? We have to legally research all of those issues.
ROBERT COSTA: Have you lost confidence in the district attorney?
DREW FINDLING: We’ve lost 100 percent confidence in this process. We feel this process has been compromised.
ROBERT COSTA (voice over): Emily Kohrs, they say, is not to blame.
DREW FINDLING: This 30-year-old foreperson to us has actually provided us a lens and made us aware that every suspicion we had as to this questionable process was, in fact, a reality.
ROBERT COSTA (on camera): But she didn’t break any rules, though, right? She may have break – broken a norm, but the grand jury was over by the time she went on this media tour, as you put it.
DREW FINDLING: Yes.
ROBERT COSTA: So, what did she do wrong, in your view, legally?
DREW FINDLING: We have no chagrin towards this foreperson. And it looks like they lost perspective over keeping separation between prosecuting attorneys and the members of this grand jury. There cannot be a relationship. When the foreperson uses the word “we,” that lets you know there’s a relationship there. When she says in interviews certain battles were not worth us battling, it’s not the special purpose grand jury that’s litigating, it’s the district attorney’s office.
ROBERT COSTA: She said, it wouldn’t be worth the battle they decided to call your client in, former President Trump in as a witness. That’s the public statement she made.
DREW FINDLING: And – and – right. And – and who knows what that is based on.
ROBERT COSTA: He wasn’t called in the special grand jury part of this investigation. Did that surprise you? And if he was called, would you have fought that subpoena?
JENNIFER LITTLE (Defense Attorney, Former President Trump): I’m not going to speak to what our legal decisions would have been. But it was surprising. And particularly once we heard the reasons why he wasn’t called, when we had our foreperson of this grand jury speaking about how excited and cool it would have been to be able to look at Donald Trump, the former president of the United States, for 60 seconds, but that they just determined that given the resources and the other witnesses that they had heard of, that they just didn’t need to have any more evidence at that point. It’s concerning that that was the level of diligence that was shown in that decision. And it was surprising, frankly.
ROBERT COSTA (voice over): If former President Trump is indicted, Willis can certainly expect a legal battle from Trump’s lawyers.
JENNIFER LITTLE: We absolutely do not believe that our client did anything wrong. And if any indictments were to come down, those are faulty indictments, we will absolutely fight anything tooth and nail.
ROBERT COSTA: Willis and the district attorney’s office declined to comment.
For FACE THE NATION, Robert Costa, Atlanta.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Friday marked one year of the war in Ukraine, a sobering day around the world. Our Charlie D’Agata was in Ukraine when the war started, and he filed this report from Ukraine for us.
MAN: It’s up to you. I was thinking that this is the front line.
CHARLIE D’AGATA (voice over): We’re taken to an unspecified front line position north of Bakhmut. Two things about Ukrainian soldiers, they’re really sensitive about sharing locations for obvious reasons, and they really don’t want us to get hurt.
MAN: (Speaking in foreign language).
D’AGATA: I’ll go (ph).
MAN: This — friend. Friend.
D’AGATA: Friend. Friendly fire?
MAN: (Speaking in foreign language).
D’AGATA: Some incoming. Some outgoing.
MAN: (Speaking in foreign language).
MAN: What do you want to do? This is the front line.
D’AGATA: I know.
D’AGATA (voice over): Stay those to the building, they tell us. Split up. Russian mortar teams aim for people in clusters. One of the soldiers was a mortar guy himself and said if he was on the other side he would have already launched a volley at us by now.
So, we hurried to get on with the job.
D’AGATA (on camera): OK, let’s try one.
The sound of explosions has been nonstop both outgoing and incoming. I mean this is the last Ukrainian held village before the Russian front line about three miles in that direction. Commanders tell us the front line has only moved a few hundred yards in the past couple of months. In some cases, the soldiers are holding off the Russians using no more than automatic weapons.
D’AGATA (voice over): This is what a stalemate looks and sounds like.
MAN: We need to wrap soon.
D’AGATA (on camera): Really?
D’AGATA: Is it getting that hot?
MAN: They’re really worried.
D’AGATA: The explosions haven’t stopped the entire time that we’ve been here. Is it always like this?
D’AGATA (voice over): If it feels like the world is growing weary of this senseless war after a year of fighting, imagine how Ukrainians feel.
We were here when the invasion began, when the capital itself was coming under attack. And each time we’ve returned, we’ve been shocked by the staggering and growing toll of the war.
Even in virtual ghost towns in Stargisaltiv (ph) in eastern Ukraine, the few residents who remain, still manage a kind of life, sustained largely with the help of volunteers, food, and aid from around the world.
Riesa Fativa (ph) survived the Russian occupation and the months of bombardment that followed when they pulled out and pummeled the neighbors.
D’AGATA (on camera): So, this is when it began. This – this is the occupation.
WOMAN: (Speaking in foreign language).
D’AGATA: So, May, June, July, August, September.
WOMAN: (Speaking in foreign language).
D’AGATA (voice over): Getting aid to the other side of the river is more difficult. The Ukrainians blew up the bridge, forcing the Russian retreat.
D’AGATA (on camera): This temporary pedestrian bridge will do for now. They don’t want to allow vehicles to cross in case the Russians try to come back.
D’AGATA (voice over): The sheer sadness and unnecessary suffering can be overwhelming. Just over a year ago, most of this country was at peace.
Overnight, the entire country was at war. A brutal war, with no end in sight.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Charlie D’Agata reporting from Ukraine.
We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The cleanup continues following that toxic train derailment that happened more than three weeks ago, but the EPA has ordered railroad operator Norfolk Southern to pause shipments of hazardous waste out of East Palestine. They will eventually resume, but under the oversight of the EPA.
Meanwhile, the CDC is on the ground as concerns linger about any long-term health effects from chemical exposure.
That’s it for us today. Thank you for watching.
Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.