On this “Face the Nation” broadcast, moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
- Rep. James Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina
- Former Homeland Security Secretaries Jeh Johnson and Michael Chertoff
- Colorado Gov. Jared Polis
Clickto browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan in Washington.
And this week on FACE THE NATION: The U.S. faces some tough questions on public health and public safety. Americans are gathering for the holidays, some for the first time in years, but health officials are warning a pandemic-weary populace of the dangers posed by a triple threat of respiratory viruses.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI (Outgoing Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases): Masking, vaccine, boosting, testing, all of that is part of the spectrum of protecting yourself and your family.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will check in with President Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, as he prepares to step down next month.
Then, after a string of deadly mass shootings, a new reckoning with a familiar question: What can America’s leaders do to stop them?
JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): The idea we still allow semiautomatic weapons to be purchased is sick. It’s just sick.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will ask a top Democratic leader, South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn, whether Capitol Hill can deliver on President Biden’s push to ban assault weapons.
And we will speak to Colorado Governor Jared Polis about the challenge of enforcing existing gun laws. He will share the latest on that shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub.
Plus, former Homeland Security Secretaries Jeh Johnson and Michael Chertoff on what Democrats and Republicans can do together to stem the violence and prepare our immigration system for a change at the Southern border.
It’s all just ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION.
For many Americans, Thanksgiving felt almost normal this year. But a year after the deadly surge of COVID’s Omicron variant, we are not out from under the virus just yet. The CDC says a new COVID variant of concern, XBB, has surfaced in the U.S.
And on the other side of the world, China is reporting a fourth daily record of new COVID infections, as an unprecedented wave of protests ripples across the country. Demonstrators from Shanghai to Beijing are taking to the streets in anger over China’s zero COVID policies that have kept much of the country under pandemic quarantine for years. Those restrictions are weighing on the global economy and threaten to snarl supply chains ahead of the holidays.
But we begin this morning in the U.S. with the danger posed by three respiratory viruses. We spoke with President Biden’s chief medical adviser earlier and asked him about the risks for people congregating this season.
ANTHONY FAUCI: The risk depends on what your status of vaccination is.
We have two of the three of the trifecta that you’re talking about. We have vaccinations for, clearly, COVID, particularly with the updated boosters that are now available. We have vaccinations for influenza. We’re already starting to see an early surge of both flu and RSV. We don’t have a vaccine for RSV, this particularly problematic for children 5 years of age and younger and for the elderly.
But there are things you can do with RSV, is avoid congregate settings, and particularly if you have a cold or if you are sneezing, and stay home, wear a mask, wash your hands.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You said last time test going in and test coming out.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Test yourself before you congregate with people, particularly when you’re having someone over the dinner, five, 10, 15, 20 people. It’s easy to do.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about RSV, though, specifically with little kids.
These infections are overwhelming pediatric hospital wards around the country.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Children’s Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics say it’s a public health emergency.
Is it an emergency?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Yes.
In some regions of the country, we’re seeing that the hospital system for pediatrics are at the point of almost being overwhelmed. When you have like almost all the intensive care beds that are occupied, it’s bad for the children who have RSV and need intensive care. But it also occupies all the beds. And children who have a number of other diseases that require intensive care or ICU, they don’t have the bed for it.
Hopefully, we’re going to see that peak come down, because, if you look at other countries that have had those kinds of peaks with flu and RSV, it’s peaked early, but come down.
MARGARET BRENNAN: More than 100,000 parents last month had to stay home from work to care for kids, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And we’ve seen schools in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee cancel classes because of these large numbers.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, coming out of the holidays, should parents expect schools to shut down?
ANTHONY FAUCI: I don’t know, Margaret. I’m not sure. When — when you talk about shutting down schools, there’s always the collateral effects.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s also radioactive to talk about.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Yes, exactly. There’s always the collateral issue.
So, you have to balance. And you do it in real time, depending upon the viral load of disease in your region.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Some of these places just didn’t even have teachers.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Exactly. Well, that’s the local decision you’re going to have to make.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
ANTHONY FAUCI: It’s a local issue. That’s the thing that gets lost in the discussion.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, how do people — knowing everything you just laid out, how do they calculate their risk and protect themselves?
I mean, for an older person, is it something they need to think twice about when it comes to sitting across from their grandchild at Christmas?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Yes, I mean, it is a judgment call.
And one of the things you have to be careful of is that look around, not only for your own protection, but for the protection of the people that you’re going to be in contact with, particularly, as you mentioned quite correctly, the elderly, those with underlying conditions.
But there’s also something that is even more risky, people who are profoundly immune-compromised, people who are on cancer chemotherapy, people who have a variety of other diseases. So, you got to use common sense.
I mean, the idea of coming into a crowded place and you’re going home to someone who’s immune-compromised, it just makes sense to put a mask on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You recently had COVID.
ANTHONY FAUCI: I did.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I wonder how that changes when you calculate your risk these days. And how long do you think immunity actually lasts?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, we know how much antibody immunity lasts, because you can measure antibodies. They go up, and they come down pretty quickly.
It is entirely likely that although you may get infected with mild symptoms, the degree of protection against severe disease may be much more prolonged than the very transient degree of protection against infection.
Let me give you an example. You measured me, I’m an elderly person, so my immune system isn’t as robust as it was 30, 40 years ago. I was vaccinated, doubly boosted, and I got infected.
Now, the — the antibodies that were circulating in my body were not enough to protect me from getting infected, but it is very likely that the vaccination and double-boosting that I had protected me from getting a severe outcome that, if I didn’t have that, I very well might have gotten very seriously ill. And I had a very mild infection.
What I want people to understand is that although you may get infected with these new variants that are related to the Omicron, you may not be protected against infection. You’re doing a pretty good job of protecting you against severe disease.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re making a case for vaccination, at least.
ANTHONY FAUCI: I’m totally making a case.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But I’m not seeing — but people think: Oh, I got a three-month free pass, I just had COVID.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But they can still get new variants.
ANTHONY FAUCI: They —
MARGARET BRENNAN: They can still get sick in that window of time.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Yes, exactly. Exactly.
So, what you really want is, keep up on your boosters, because the — the protection clearly wanes. It wanes much more for — for infection than it does for severe disease, but it does wane.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So what is the prevalent strain that you think we’re going to be facing this winter? And does the recent booster shot, the bivalent, protect against it?
ANTHONY FAUCI: OK.
The ones that are on our minds right now that you do remember is the BQ.1 and the BQ.1.1. The reason you keep an eye on those is that they have what’s called a transmission advantage, in that they are evasive of the protection that you have.
Those viruses evade the protection of the monoclonal antibodies, Evusheld and some of the other monoclonal antibodies that are used for treatment, as well as prevention. It also diminishes the protection that is induced by vaccination and by prior infection. It doesn’t disappear, but it brings it down a few fold.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So are you envisioning that, in the spring, we’re going to have to get a new sort of cocktail of booster shots to match this new threat?
ANTHONY FAUCI: I don’t know, because it really depends on what is going to happen in the spring.
If we get — and this is what I’m hoping for — I’m a cautious optimist — is, by the time we get to the spring, the level of immunity that’s induced by infection, with or without vaccination, with or without boosters, among the entire population is such that the level of severe disease and infection is going to go way, way down, and you won’t require having every four months or so giving somebody a boost.
You heard us, we in the public health arena, talk about the likelihood of getting a cadence of maybe once a year —
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
ANTHONY FAUCI: — that you get it with the flu shot.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Like a flu shot. Mm-hmm.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Just like the flu shot, but it’s a little bit iffy about that.
That’s good, because there’s a neatness to that. Once a year, you get it in the fall. But that doesn’t take into account that you have to keep up the possibility that we will get a variant that’s very different than the variants we have right now that might require a springtime or some summertime boost.
If it stays the way it is now, I hope it just gets down to that very low level.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we will have more of our conversation with Dr. Fauci ahead in the program.
But, right now, I want to speak to House Majority Whip Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn, who joins us from Santee, South Carolina, this morning.
Congressman, it’s good to have you on the program.
I want to start with what has happened in the past two weeks. We’ve had these three mass shootings. Back in June, you helped to push through this bipartisan investment in shoring up red flag laws and background checks, $13 billion expansion. And yet, in Virginia, both of the gun buyers legally purchased their weapons, allegedly. So did the one in Colorado.
What does that tell you about the efficacy of the federal law?
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, thank you very much for having me.
It tells me all I need to know. And that is, just because it’s legal does not make it the right thing. I tell people all the time, the institution of slavery was legal, but it was not right. Just because they purchased these weapons legally does not mean that’s what the law ought to be.
We need to change these laws. Unfortunately, I’m going to be here in my district on Wednesday speaking at the funeral service of one of those young football players from the University of Virginia who died at the hands of the weapon that was, from all indications, legally purchased.
That’s not the problem. Chesapeake, Virginia, that gun was purchased legally the morning of the event. We have to visit these laws and do what’s necessary to keep these guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. And that is what we need to do in this lame-duck session, and in a bipartisan way.
Let’s protect the American people from demented people and make sure that we put some safety and security in peoples when they’re shopping, when you’re sitting in churches.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, yes.
Well, what about that lame-duck session? Because Democrats have control for a few more weeks. President Biden came out and said he wants to institute an assault weapons ban. An assault weapon, an AR-15 style, was used in Colorado, but not in those two Virginia shootings.
So, is the problem that type of weapon? And, if that is the solution you’re putting forward, how do you get 60 votes in the Senate?
JAMES CLYBURN: Well, I don’t know how you get 60 votes in the Senate.
And that’s why I always take issue with the fact we do not control the Senate. It’s 50/50 in the Senate. And that is a problem for us. We need to sit down in a bipartisan way and say, look, what can we do to protect the public?
Nobody wants to take anybody’s guns away. Your Second Amendment is there to protect everybody. But so is the First Amendment. But it’s not unfettered. It’s very clear.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, so what are you going to do in the lame-duck? You just said, in the lame-duck, you have to take action? What does that mean? What are Democrats going to do?
JAMES CLYBURN: Well, we’ve already passed the bills in the house. We’re trying to get the Senate to act.
We’ve done this on the House side. And so that’s the problem. Democrats control the House.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
JAMES CLYBURN: And we passed the bill. We do not control the Senate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And —
JAMES CLYBURN: And that’s where the filibuster is causing us problems.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
And in the new Congress after January, is the prospect of any kind of gun reform dead on arrival, or can you pick off some votes from Kevin McCarthy’s caucus here to help move something when Democrats are in the minority?
JAMES CLYBURN: Well, if you look at the results of the election, and you go to California, you go to New York, even in two districts in North Carolina, when we picked up seats, we do have a more moderate electorate coming in.
And we need to appeal to a sense of fundamental fairness and what is right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.
JAMES CLYBURN: I have no idea whether or not they will buck what seems to be controlling the Republicans, but we’re going to give it a shot.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, White House adviser Anita Dunn was on this program a few weeks ago, and she said, in the next few weeks, while Democrats have the majority, priority number one is just keeping the government funded.
Exactly what is your top priority? I mean, what can Democrats get done before Republicans take control?
JAMES CLYBURN: Well, I would agree with Anita Dunn. It’s always the top priority keeping the government funded and keeping it open.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That seems the bare minimum.
JAMES CLYBURN: At a minimum, absolutely, but we need to go further than that.
We need to look at the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act. I’m not going to get off of that. I do believe that we need to do something about the Electoral Count Reform Act. These two things are fundamental to our democracy. And we need to keep them in the forefront.
Yes, keep the government open, but let’s also keep fundamental rights protected. And that, to me, would be one and two, and these gun safety laws would be closely thereafter.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Democrats are holding leadership elections in the coming week. You’re already in leadership. I know you will be standing for election to a different position.
But if it is time for a new generation, as Speaker Pelosi had said, Why do you think it’s necessary for you to stay in power? Do you think the next generation needs you to guide them?
JAMES CLYBURN: Well, I have always said there is a healthy respect.
It’s Biblical with me. We need to have a healthy blend of strength and knowledge. And look at our leadership. The South is left out of it. And what I’m doing is trying to make sure that we do not tilt too far to the East or too far to the West, but maintain what we have here.
There’s no other Southerner among the leadership ranks, and we need the South. We need these historically black colleges and universities. But for Georgia, where would the Senate be today? And the last time I checked, Georgia is south of South Carolina.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. All right.
Well, thank you very much, Mr. Whip, for joining us today.
And we want to continue that conversation about some of the national security risks, including gun violence. We’re going to do that now with two former homeland security chiefs.
I have got Jeh Johnson, who served under former President Obama. He’s in Montclair, New Jersey, this morning. And Michael Chertoff held the job under former President George W. Bush. He’s at home in Washington, D.C.
Good morning to you both, gentlemen.
You just heard the conversation. Representative Clyburn says you got to work together, but also said they can’t get anything done in the Senate. So, where does that leave us in the wake of three shootings? Is further legislation just not something we should even be talking about at this point?
JEH JOHNSON (Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security): Well, Margaret, I will start.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF (Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security): Well, I think we could get some legislation on assault weapons.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Sorry.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF: And that would be helpful.
But recognize, no law is going to deal with the problem entirely. As you pointed out, you have people who legally bought guns and then committed these horrible acts.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF: So, although legislation is part of the solution, another part of the solution is dealing with what is emerging to be a — almost a mental health crisis leading to violent acts.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Jeh, sorry.
Jeh Johnson there, I want you to jump in. I mean, the — it was a handgun in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was a handgun in Chesapeake, Virginia. It was an AR-15 style in Colorado Springs.
So is it that — a gun crisis? Is it a mental health crisis? Which is it?
JEH JOHNSON: Well, first and foremost, Margaret, I believe that the problem, the central problem, the common thread through all of these incidents is the prevalence of guns in America.
The individual circumstances of each episode tend to be a little different. The motive tends to be different. The location is different. The weapon is different. But the problem we have in this country nationwide is the prevalence of guns in America.
I do not for a second give up on the possibility of further gun safety legislation. We have to get off this point of view of the NRA that, if they give an inch, we’re going to take a mile. We can regulate guns in America, consistent with the Second Amendment, consistent with the constitutional right of a responsible gun owner to own a gun for hunting, for their own personal safety of their family.
And Mike is also right. There’s more to do on the mental health front. There’s more to do to raise awareness among co-workers, families, people in school —
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
JEH JOHNSON: — about the warning signs of someone heading toward violence, so that the signs are undeniable at some point.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But how do you solve for a mental health crisis, Secretary Chertoff?
I mean, where do you begin?
MICHAEL CHERTOFF: Well, I know we begin with what we call red flag laws, in which someone’s guns can be taken away if there’s a report that they have a propensity to violence or they have been talking about doing something that would involve killing people.
So, certainly, enforcing those red flag laws is a positive step. More generally, I think we need off-ramps for people who are troubled and prone to be violent that do not involve the criminal justice process, so we encourage family members to step forward and get help for someone who might, given the passage of time, pick up a gun and do an act of violence.
And, finally, I do think the social media have a responsibility to monitor for violent, inciting rhetoric on public platforms. Unfortunately, we see a lot of the people who’ve carried out these attacks literally announced them in advance, and the tragedy is, nobody intervenes to stop it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But, Secretary Jeh Johnson, I mean, you just heard me talk about with Jim Clyburn the fact that there were red flag laws in place in, for example, Colorado.
Each state has sort of different attributes to their laws and who can call in a worry to remove guns from the household of someone. Is this just going to continue to be a patchwork of different problems because of the federal system?
JEH JOHNSON: I think Mike and I both know that, in these cases, it is almost always certain that the warning signs are apparent.
People often don’t want to see them, however. The parent doesn’t want to see them. The good friend in school doesn’t want to see them. The co-worker doesn’t want to see them, doesn’t want to report. And so, as I said before, I think it’s important that we raise awareness about what these warning signs are, in fact.
Could we better enforce our red flag laws? Could we encourage people to invoke them, to utilize them more often? Absolutely. I agree with Mike on that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes. OK.
JEH JOHNSON: But the warning signs are almost always there. They’re undeniable.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to talk more about this with both of you in a moment, but I have to take a quick break, so please stay with us.
And, all of you, please stay with us as well. Face the Nation will be back in a minute.
MARGARET BRENNAN: A pair of numbers this weekend offered some perspective on two American holiday traditions, traveling and spending; 55 million people were in transit this week, the third busiest Thanksgiving travel season in more than 20 years, according to AAA.
And consumers spent more than $9 billion online on Black Friday, according to Adobe Analytics. That’s a record high, but up just over 2 percent from last year.
Important caveat to note: Due to soaring inflation, many spent more, but received less.
We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: If you can’t watch the full Face the Nation, you can set your DVR, or we’re available on demand. Plus, you can watch us through our CBS or Paramount+ app.
And we’re replayed on our CBS News Streaming Network throughout the day on Sundays.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation.
Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: (INAUDIBLE) conversation with former Homeland Security Secretaries Jeh Johnson and Michael Chertoff.
Gentlemen, I like being able to have you both here because you’ve both dealt with a very hard problem set. And so a lot of people have opinions but you actually know what it’s like to be in the job.
So, let me give you a really hard one, which is what to do about the southern border. In the last year, 2.5 million migrants, roughly, have been encountered. That is a record high. The governor of Texas is boasting that he’s sent more than 13,000 immigrants to New York, to Chicago, to Washington and now to Philadelphia, where bus loads arrived this week.
Secretary Chertoff, these migrants have legal status because they’re going through asylum. Are the asylum laws too generous in this country?
MICHAEL CHERTOFF: Well, I mean, we can certainly take a look at the asylum laws, but generally we obey international law, which talks about the obligation to receive refugees. And, in fact, now we have the issues of Ukrainians who were fleeing what is going on with the war in Ukraine. So, certainly you can understand why people seek asylum.
One of the things the administration has done, which I think is helpful, is they’ve moved the evaluation process down to those agents who are actually in the field, to speed it up, to make sure you can determine whether there’s a colorable claim and, if not, send people back. And they’re also working to resource and streamline the process of making final adjudications. So that’s all to the good, but it’s not going to happen overnight.
Also, I know the administration is working with nonprofits to create safe locations that people can stay while their claims are being adjudicated. I think stunts like what Governor Abbott has done really don’t address the problem. They’re simply a way of getting attention over the backs of people who are fleeing genuine crises in other parts of the world.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Because to get asylum, you need to show fear of persecution, torture because of race, religion, nationality, political opinions, other reasons. That’s what these people did and were allowed in, just to be clear.
Former Secretary Johnson, you know, one of the things the Biden administration just lost, though, is one of the tools they were using to turn people away. And over 1 million of those encounters I talked about were — people were expelled under Title 42, according to Custom and Border Protection. This was a pandemic-era policy that said because of COVID people didn’t necessarily need to get in to the country. That goes away at the end of December. What then happens?
JEH JOHNSON: Well, first, Margaret, I have to be honest about the asylum laws and the processes. It takes six years right now to process an asylum claim once someone has entered this country. And one of the problems is that the bar to qualify initially and establish a case of credible fear is relatively low, something like 70 percent of migrants qualify who seek it. And the ultimate qualification for asylum, the percentage there, is only about 20 percent, and it’s six years in between. Migrants know this. And so we’ve got to develop a system where we can more expeditiously deal with these claims, but also take a look at the credible fear standard itself. I know my friends on the left won’t be to happy to hear that, but it does exist and it’s a phenomena.
MARGARET BRENNAN: No politician is going to take that vote.
JEH JOHNSON: Well, it can be done possibly through regulation. And I think it’s something that ought to be looked at.
Now, in terms of Title 42, when CDC first announced in May that it was going to lift this, I and others were opposed to it. We thought there needed to be a more orderly transition.
It is an extraordinary authority. And it’s probably time now for it to go away in December. But the ability to send people back expeditiously like the administration has been doing needs to now be replaced with something else. And I think there the discussion is going to have to take place with Mexico to more expeditiously accept people back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
JEH JOHNSON: We sent back something like 1.4 million last year using, in part, Title 42. We need something to replace that. And I think working with the government of Mexico and, frankly, getting them to do more to step up on this is part of that answer.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’d like for you both, very quickly, to weigh in on what happens if the Republican-led Congress goes ahead with this vow to impeach or try to impeach the current secretary of Homeland Security. Does that mean all the things you suggested don’t happen and Congress is just tied in knots? Secretary Chertoff?
MICHAEL CHERTOFF: Well, it would be a very sad day if — in – in search of what is, again, a political stunt, you know, threatening to impeach Secretary Mayorkas, Congress didn’t do the things, for example, that Secretary Johnson just suggested. Maybe adjust the standard with respect to asylum, create more resources that are available to adjudicate, and work out additional ways to fund the effort to undermine the cartels and the smugglers, which are a big part of this.
So, it would be basically putting form over substance to go through a big performance on impeachment that’s never going anywhere, rather than actually working with the administration to solve the problem.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Secretary Johnson, I imagine you agree?
JEH JOHNSON: Margaret, what people need to know, and Michael and I know this, the secretary of Homeland Security is focused on border security, maritime security, aviation security, cyber security, the Coast Guard, the Secret Service and a host of other things.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
JEH JOHNSON: We can’t have a secretary who’s distracted by – by a stunt in Congress at attempt at impeachment (INAUDIBLE).
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Thanks very much to both of you, secretaries, for weighing in.
We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re back for more with Dr. Anthony Fauci.
So, the White House just asked Congress for another $10 billion in funding.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re still technically still in the middle of a pandemic, even though the president said the pandemic’s over.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Right. We really do need that money for any of a number of reasons. One of which is a practical thing of – of outreach and PSA campaigns to get people to be vaccinated. We have a long way to go to optimize our protection against COVID, which is really a shame, somewhat paradoxical, that a rich country with all the vaccines that we need and we’re utilizing them at a much lower level than we should be.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you’re planning to retire. And I asked you when you would feel comfortable retiring. And you said, not until COVID is in the rearview mirror. You said, when COVID doesn’t dominate the mental framework of our society.
What you’re saying is we’re choosing not to let it dominate our mental framework –
ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, exactly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But it is still very much a risk.
ANTHONY FAUCI: But it’s still there. I mean there’s a difference. And that – and that’s an important point that I want to make. If you look at where we were a year ago at this time when omicron started to surge, we were having 800,000 to 900,000 infections and 3,000 to 4,000 deaths. I don’t like reading in the newspapers or getting my report from the COVID team, today we lost 400 people, today we lost 350 people.
So, it’s much, much better than it was, but it is not at a level low enough where we should feel we’re done with it completely, because we’re not.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There have been all these House Republican calls for investigations into the origins of COVID –
ANTHONY FAUCI: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And saying they’re going to bring you up to Capitol Hill. Do you think that wanes as you step down?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, I don’t think it’s going to wane for me. The Republican House has — has said that they’re going to. And that’s fine with me. I mean —
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’ll appear?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Oh, of course. I mean, I – I’m very much in favor of – of legitimate oversight. Absolutely. I mean I’ve testified before Congress, given the 38 years that I’ve been director, literally hundreds of times in many oversight hearings.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s never been this personal for you, though. And I know when I talked to you a year ago, you — you were angry. You said, I’m just going to do my job and I’m going to be saving lives, and they’re going to be lying.
ANTHONY FAUCI: They’ve clearly politicized it. I’m not political at all, period. I’ve never been. And anybody who knows anything about me knows that that’s the case. But it is very clear, when people are running their campaigns with an anti-Fauci element to it, I mean, that’s ridiculous. I mean, this is a public health issue. I’d be more than happy to explain publicly or otherwise everything that we’ve done. And I can defend and explain everything that we’ve done from a public health standpoint.
MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden said the United States is asking China for more data about the origins.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Yes. Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Have you seen anything that Beijing has produced?
ANTHONY FAUCI: No. You know, one of the – one of the problems is that — and this is historic. It goes way back to bird flu, the H5N1, the H7N9, the original SARS COV1, that the Chinese, not necessarily the scientists that we know and we have dealt with and collaborated with productively for decades, but the whole establishment of political and other establishment in China, even when there’s nothing at all to hide, they act secretive, which absolutely triggers an appropriate suspicion of like, what the heck is going on over there?
So, right now, what we would really like to know is all of the details of what went on with the original people who were infected? We keep a completely open mind as to what the origin is.
Having said that, if you look at the examination by highly qualified international scientists, with no political agendas, they’ve published in peer-reviewed journals that the evidence is quite strong that this is a natural occurrence. Does that mean we’ve ruled out that there was something funny going on, a leak? Absolutely. And I and all of my colleagues keep an absolutely open mind. We’ve got to investigate every possibility because this is too important not to do that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Have you seen anything that Beijing has produced at all in terms of explanation or data?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, their explanation is an explanation that they will not allow us to look at the primary information. The WHO went in and – and saw some of the data, which — some of which was actually quite helpful. But we — you know what we need, Margaret, we need a – a – a– a transparency and a collaboration to open things up so that we can discuss it in a non- accusatory way.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Exactly.
ANTHONY FAUCI: What happens is that if you look at the anti-China approach that clearly the Trump administration had right from the very beginning, and the accusatory nature, the Chinese, they’re going to flinch back and say, no, I’m sorry, we’re not going to talk to you about it, which is not correct. They should be.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But they’re not talking to the Biden administration about it either is what you’re saying.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Exactly. I think that horse is out of the barn and they’re very suspicious of anybody trying to accuse them.
MARGARET BRENNAN: One of the other things that’s interesting to us when we watch how the world deals with COVID is that zero COVID policy in China, where they shut down almost fully cities and things. That impacts the global economy. It’s why we’re still dealing with this in many ways.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why hasn’t Beijing been able to get a really effective vaccine? Why do they still struggle with this like that?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, it’s the combination of not having an effective vaccine that they themselves made, it just is not nearly at the level of many of the other vaccines. It’s just not. And that’s unfortunate. And not wanting to bring in vaccines from the very beginning that were highly effective, 94 percent 95 percent effective —
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Moderna or Pfizer.
ANTHONY FAUCI: The Moderna, the Pfizer, as well as locking down almost without a purpose. When you put restrictions, you do it to give you time to be able to do something productive so you can unloosen or loosen up the restrictions. They, at least from what we were seeing, were just rigidly closing things down, which unless you have a really, really good purpose of preparing yourself for opening, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you plan to do after you leave NIH in December? What’s next for you?
ANTHONY FAUCI: You know, I don’t know, Margaret. And – and the reason I don’t know is I want to strictly stick to the – to the ethical guidelines of not negotiating what my next position, wherever that may be, in a university or in a foundation or in a whatever until I actually step down. I want to continue to write and to lecture and utilize what I will have outside of a government position.
What do I have? I have 54 years of experience as a scientist with the NIH. I have 38 years of experience leading the largest and most important infectious disease research institution in the world. And I’ve had the privilege of advising seven presidents. I could use that experience, that know-how, that judgment to help others, to write about it, to – to lecture about it, and, perhaps, to encourage at a time of anti-science the best and the brightest among the young to at least consider a career in science and public health and, importantly, in public service. If I can do that after I step down, I think that will be, you know, something that I would be pleased with.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be watching.
ANTHONY FAUCI: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Dr. Fauci, thank you for your time today.
And we’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Colorado’s Democratic Governor Jared Polis who joins us this morning from Boulder, Colorado.
Governor Polis, I want to ask you about the shooting in Colorado Springs that you recently went through.
I’m hoping the governor can still hear me. It looks like we just lost that feed. So, we’ll be back with you in a moment. We’re going to take a quick commercial break.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Colorado’s Democratic Governor Jared Polis, who has stuck with us through some technical difficulties.
And, Governor, I understand you hear me now, so let’s get straight to it.
I’m sorry for what your state has recently gone through with this horrendous shooting at Club Q. It sounds like the shooter had a handgun and an AR-15 style rifle. Can you confirm that he legally purchased them or were these unregistered ghost guns?
GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): It has been reported that at least one of the guns was – was a ghost gun by different media outlets. All of these facts will emerge in the coming days and weeks. Obviously right now our – our heart is with the victims, five people who lost their lives, their families, dozens of others injured and, of course, many traumatized.
Another example of a law that could have been used in this instance successfully is a red flag law, which we have in Colorado, but it’s really up to the local law enforcement entity how to use it. In cases like this, where somebody can potentially be a danger, and there are signs that they are a danger, we have a legal way to temporarily remove custody of any weapons they might have. And this is an example of a case where it might have been used.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I want to ask you about that because President Biden said it was ridiculous that red flag laws are not being enforced just based on the knowledge of this shooter rather than relying on his or her parents. Is the president correct? And are you saying right now that your local law enforcement was choosing not to enforce the law?
JARED POLIS: So, right now in Colorado, you can have parents or family members go for an extreme risk protection order, or red flag law. That’s fairly common. It wasn’t pursued in this instance by the mother.
You can also have a local sheriff agency do it. In this case, it wasn’t pursued by the local sheriff agency. I’m sure what will be looked into is why wasn’t it pursued.
What – what I think we’re going to look at in Colorado is potentially expanding that, for instance. So, DAs can also seek extreme risk protection orders.
We also need to make sure that we publicize the law and make sure that the tools are in people’s hands when they need it to remove dangerous weapons that could be used for self-harm or harming others, from somebody who’s in a mental health crisis.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You said last week you didn’t know yet if the shooter was motivated by anti-LGBTQ rhetoric or if it was a personal motive. Have you seen any evidence it was a hate crime? And does the fact that the shooter identifies as nonbinary influence this in any way? Does this suggest anything to you?
JARED POLIS: Well, no. On the second point of the – the shooter’s identity has nothing to do with whether a hate crime was committed or not. I want to be clear, in Colorado, if you kill five people, you’re behind bars for the rest of your life. This young man, once convicted, and I believe he will be convicted because the evidence is overwhelming, will never be able to be freed from a jail cell. He’ll spend the rest of his days behind bars.
The hate crimes on top of that can be used to augment the sentence. They can be used for acknowledging the fact that a — the LGBTQ community was traumatized. But, again, the murder alone will send this person behind bars for the rest of his life.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The – the president has also renewed his call for an assault weapons ban. It sounds like the details of this case may be more complicated than that if part of this was not a registered gun at all. In the past you were against an assault weapons ban when you were in Congress back in 2013. You changed your position in 2018. Given that you’re the chief executive of the state now, would you like to see an assault weapons ban?
JARED POLIS: Well, I would say, look, we learn from each instance. But you also have to look at all the causes. So, is there a way to improve gun safety out of this, to make sure that red flag laws are used? Not only he had a pistol and a semi-automatic weapon, do we need better laws on — on ghost guns, do we need to make sure that we have a better process around semi-automatic weapons. Open to all of those.
We also need to pursue the mental health aspect of this in other shooting incidences. What and how did this fall through the cracks. We need to pursue the anti-LGBT rhetoric aspect of this. I think whether it will be the case in this case or not, clearly the type of rhetoric out there that divides one group of Americans against another can send somebody over the top and – and – and tragically inspire them to an act of violence. We need to focus on national healing, bringing people together and really treating one another as brothers and sisters.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I think people can agree, I hope, with at least that.
Governor, thank you for your time today.
And thank you for sticking with us through those technical difficulties and the delay that you all heard.
We want to turn now to the war in Ukraine, where residents of Kherson are fleeing the city this weekend after a sustained Russian bombardment knocked out power and water supplies. The latest in Moscow’s effort to undermine Ukrainian morale after more than nine months of brutal assault.
CBS News foreign correspondent Chris Livesay is in Kyiv with this report.
CHRIS LIVESAY (voice over): Ukraine has already proven it can withstand the Russians. But what about the winter? At the front line, the cold and relentless artillery may be Russia’s only hope to weaponize winter and freeze Ukraine’s momentum.
LIVESAY (on camera): Trenches like these become more and more common place the closer you get to the front line. And there’s a really good reason for it. You don’t just see and hear the flashes of artillery. But you can feel the thuds deep in your gut.
LIVESAY (voice over): Ukrainians can also feel it right at their doorstep. Natali Krestenko (ph) was coming home after drinking tea in Kherson. Medics overwhelmed throughout a night of bombardment didn’t arrive until morning. Their city only recently the scene of dancing after Russia’s retreat, now limps through the dark and cold. Much like the capital Kyiv, the scene of a deadly missile attack this week. Inan (ph) and her son, Artu (ph), have to shelter in a community tent.
FEMALE (through translator): We have no electricity and no water. Our phones and devices are out of battery. We do everything we can to distract Artu from what’s really going on.
LIVESAY: Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, is fuming.
VITALI KLITSCHKO (Kyiv Mayor): Right now, before the winter, the people, Putin and Russians, want to let us be without electricity, without heating, without water, it’s genocide. It’s actually terrorism. The main goal of Russians to bring depression of society. I talk to the people, no negotiations with Russians. We, people is angry.
LIVESAY: And the mayor says he never stops worrying about a nuclear disaster. In fact, the shelling has been so severe, the country had to disconnect all of its nuclear power plants temporarily. It was the first time in 40 years.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Chris Livesay, thank you.
That’s going to be it for us today. Thank you all for watching. And until next week, for “FACE THE NATION” I’m Margaret Brennan.