On this “Face the Nation” broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan
- Anthony Salvanto, CBS News director of election and surveys
- Pete Buttigieg, Transportation Secretary
- Betsey Stevenson, Economist and University of Michigan professor
- Rachael Bade and Karoun Demirjian, authors of “Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump”
- Oksana Markarova, ambassador of Ukraine to the United States
Clickto browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan.
And this week on Face the Nation: Has the Democratic momentum heading into the midterm elections stalled, as economic headwinds pick up? Democrats’ hopes of a last-minute economic rebound before Election Day were dashed with yet another round of sobering inflation numbers, indicating that the Federal Reserve’s rate hikes so far haven’t helped.
President Biden is talking up the party’s economic efforts on the campaign trail and warning about the alternative.
JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): Republicans win, inflation is going to get worse. It’s that simple.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But will voters buy what he’s selling, with prices so high and no relief in sight?
Infrastructure is at the heart of the administration’s economic plans. We will talk to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and University of Michigan economist Betsey Stevenson. She will tell us about the financial pressures facing Americans, especially parents.
The global economy is also struggling. Adding to the pressure, Russia’s attacks in Ukraine intensify, destroying regional supply lines and energy infrastructure. Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova will join us.
Then: Dramatic video from the congressional investigation into the January 6 attack shows lawmakers pleading for help to secure the Capitol.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D-California): It’s just horrendous, and all at the instigation of the president of the United States.
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-New York): I’m going to call up the effing Secretary of DOD.
We have some senators who are still in their hideaways. They need massive personnel now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will learn more about the behind-the-scenes that day from the authors of a new book, “Unchecked.”
It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.
Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.
We are just over three weeks away from midterm Election Day. Voters are already casting ballots in 18 states, and voting will start in eight more this week. What are they focused on and which party do they think should be in control of the House and Senate, as well as the 36 states where there are ongoing contests for governor?
Our new CBS News Battleground Tracker poll shows the Republicans are still favored to capture the House, with an estimated 224-seat majority. That’s six seats more than they need to take control. Our last estimates showed Democrats narrowing the gap, but that momentum has stalled.
CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto is here to tell us why.
Good morning to you, Anthony. What indicates momentum is stalling, and why?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: Good morning, Margaret.
So this is the first time since we have updated the tracker throughout the summer and into the early fall where Democrats haven’t been cutting into that Republican lead. And it comes at a time when people think the economy is getting worse.
And, in fact, two-thirds of people say that. Now, we have gotten bad news this week about inflation. And the way that people interact with that often is gas prices. Well, there’s been this stark turnaround. It was, in August, people thought they saw gas prices going down. Now a majority says they think that they’re going up in their area. So that’s one point.
But we wanted to understand, how does this connect politically? So, I asked specifically, who’s responsible for this? And are the Democrats and Joe Biden responsible for this? The answer is somewhat. People understand that there are other factors there. They know there’s global factors. They know there’s supply issues. But Democrats are, on balance, seen as having been more harmful than helpful.
Now, a president is always somewhat tied to their economy. And Joe Biden, when asked, gets some responsibility for this, not necessarily a lot. But two-thirds of people do say they think he and the administration could be doing more.
So, all that nets out. Democrats are still losing people for whom the economy is the most important issue. They’re still trailing with people who say that their financial situation isn’t good. And that is part of the reason that has stalled.
I should add this. Up until now, we have talked a lot about the abortion issue, because that’s been underpinning a lot of those Democratic gains. It is still critical. Democrats are still winning voters who prioritize the abortion issue. But the thing is, there are not more of them in the electorate now than there were last month.
So there’s always been this fight about, what is this election about? To the extent that Democrats cannot make it more about the abortion issue than it has been, that helps keep those balance of — that balance of power right in place.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
And turnout is always a factor. We know voter turnout is typically higher in that group 65 and older. For people on fixed income, inflation is really painful. What do you see?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: It’s really a concern. I’m glad you raise it, because what happens is, they show concern about inflation, about prices. They also show concern about the stock market, because retirees might have money in the market, of course. So that’s out there as well.
You’re right. They do vote. In our models, they are showing up. They are saying they’re going show up. And that’s typical for a midterm. So it’s a really, really important voting bloc, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, Anthony, what could change here?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yes, let’s look at the possibilities that we can see in the data.
Right now, the Republicans have a turnout advantage. More of them say they’re enthusiastic. More of them say that they’re definitely going to vote. What could get the Democrats in contention to maybe hold the House? It’s young people. If young people were to show up more than they say they’re going to, you plug that into the — into the model, and the Democratic seat number goes up, where they’re right in contention to maybe get a bear majority.
So, if you want to know how the Democrats could hold the House, it’s young people showing up more than they say they will.
On the other hand, let’s talk about that Republican turnout advantage. There are so many close congressional districts that it wouldn’t take very much for even more of them to flip to the Republicans. So, if their turnout advantage goes up even a little bit more, a lot of those seats are going to fall their way, and the model would estimate they would get into the 230s.
And that would be an even larger majority. So your takeaway there is, yes, a lot of this comes
down to turnout. But that is specifically how.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Anthony Salvanto, you’re going to be busy.
ANTHONY SALVANTO: Indeed.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you very much.
And races are tightening in the Senate too; 35 states hold contests November the 8th. And CBS News has identified 10 important ones that could determine the majority. There are five that we’re watching very closely, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nevada.
Later on in the broadcast, we will be taking a closer look at that Georgia race, because it has gotten a lot of attention lately.
We want to now turn to the secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg.
Good morning, and thank you for being here in person.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (U.S. Transportation Secretary): Good to be with you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to pick up where we just left off on the polling, because it looks like Democrats have a problem here.
As you heard, more than two-thirds of registered voters, 68 percent, think your administration, the Biden administration, could be doing more to combat inflation. This is a top concern for all voters.
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: It’s also a top concern for the president. It’s one of the reasons why he’s made clear that his top economic priority is fighting inflation.
But there’s a very clear choice right now between the policies that we’re advancing on Capitol Hill and in this administration and the policies that have been put forward legislatively by our Republican friends in Congress.
Our focus has been on reducing the pressure of cost of living on families. For example, take the Inflation Reduction Act. Part of what that does, at a time when we have pressure on people because the cost of living is going too high, is to cut the costs of things like prescription drugs.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In the future.
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Of course, Republicans voted against that. And…
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s not…
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Right, but they have also made clear right now that they’re proposing legislation to reverse that, to repeal that.
So, you have something like letting Medicare negotiate the price of prescription drugs, something Americans have wanted to happen for years. We finally got it done. The president signed it, Congress passed it. They’re already seeking to reverse that.
So it’s a very clear choice, a very clear difference in approaches here right now on Capitol Hill and among officeholders, where the focus for Democrats, the focus for the president is to cut that cost of living and to cut the pressure, get people more breathing room at a time where inflation remains a major concern.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But it’s not just drug prices that are the problem. I mean, across the board, inflation is hitting people, the cost of shelter, incredible.
The administration’s policy, though, to speak about the affirmative, because you say it’s a better platform, so let’s talk about it. If you have pumped $3.6 trillion in fiscal spending into the economy, and you’re not politically getting credit for it, and inflation is not coming down, how do you argue to the American people that it’s actually the best alternative?
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, because, if we hadn’t done that, if we hadn’t rescued the economy through the American Rescue Plan, we would not have had the 10 million jobs that were created under this president. We wouldn’t be seeing some of the lowest unemployment numbers in the history of the republic.
We would be faced with the kinds of problems that we were faced with when the president arrived, which was an economy that was facing a very real risk of freefall. We’re in a situation right now where demand has come back. Consumer confidence is up. People have more money in their pockets. And an almost record number of Americans are working.
The other side of that is…
MARGARET BRENNAN: There’s also the record inflation, four-decade high.
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: And that’s because the — right.
That’s because the supply side is straining to keep up with the demand, which is why we’re also working…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, that’s one factor.
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: I think really the main factor.
But imagine if we hadn’t raised demand and supply was even worse, which is where we would have been if we hadn’t had the infrastructure work, which is helping on the supply side, and the rescue of the American economy that has brought back demand.
So, if anybody’s asking, was it a good idea to rescue the American economy, the answer is yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
Well, it’s not just Republicans who make the argument that fiscal spending contributed to some of the inflation. And, in fact, some of the fiscal spending was under the last administration’s watch, in terms of pouring in the rescue funds you’re talking about.
But the San Francisco Fed has put forward estimates that between three- tenths to 3 percent of percentage points in recent inflation is due to fiscal spending.
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: In other words, not most of it, right, by those numbers.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s not nothing.
So, to argue that government spending isn’t a contributor here, it doesn’t fully play out. So, what is the alternative in a new Congress?
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Yes. Well, first of all…
MARGARET BRENNAN: I mean, are you saying that we have got to stop spending here, we’re not going to move on taxes, but we’re also not going to pump in more money; the best we have is what we’ve put forward?
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, again, part of the challenge — part of the challenge we have is the productive capacity of our country racing to keep up.
So, failing to invest in that wouldn’t make the problem better. It would make it worse. But, again, the numbers you just quoted to me would make clear that a majority of inflation is not attributable to fiscal policy.
And according to the numbers that were just in the package just now, the American people understand that. They understand that inflation is a global phenomenon, but we’re fighting it here at home with measures to take that pressure off of families.
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: And it’s why we strongly believe that we should continue in the direction of prioritizing not tax loopholes for billionaires, not corporate profits, but allowing
Americans to be able to get by with the income that they’re making.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we’re going to talk to an economist next to go through the numbers, but on what the political messaging is, the president said this week that the economy is both strong as hell, but also, if there is a recession, it’ll be very slight.
What exactly is the forecast?
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, look, I mean, forecasting is, by its nature, something that is a little bit uncertain.
What we know is that that…
MARGARET BRENNAN: But do you — that’s political spin.
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, look, I don’t think anybody could argue that, for example, our unemployment numbers are anything but strong as hell. They’re under 4 percent. That almost never happens. We’re at or near the definition of full employment.
We also don’t have any illusions about the challenges that Americans face with prices.
But that’s why it’s mystifying that, as we speak, you have got Republicans in Congress arguing against the things that we have done to give Americans a little more breathing room, voting against measures to make prescription drugs cheaper, voting against the $35 insulin cap that is going to be especially important in the — in an environment where you have inflation, against the energy credits that are going to help more Americans save on energy.
We are squarely focused on making it easier for Americans to get by on their income.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to get to infrastructure in a moment.
But, quickly, I want to ask you, the president campaigned on a lot of things. Paid leave was one of them. And Democrats stripped that out of legislation that they were able to get through.
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, I wouldn’t describe that as something that Democrats alone did.
But, yes, obviously, paid leave wasn’t a part…
MARGARET BRENNAN: It didn’t get through.
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Yes, it didn’t make it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you have got unified control right now, although a slim majority. I get it.
But in this new scenario we are talking about — and you just saw the numbers — it looks like a very real threat that Republicans will control at least one house. So, are you acknowledging that, basically, you have gotten through what you can get through, give up on paid leave for the end of the Biden administration?
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, we’re not going to give up on anything, because these are good policies that are wildly popular among the American people.
Most Republicans think this is a good policy, just not most Republicans in Congress. And so, in the same way that we were able to get that infrastructure bill through, where a number of Republicans crossed over to work with Democrats on the president’s priority, I think any other priority, you have to at least give it a shot.
And I would point out, after repeated declarations that the infrastructure bill was dead, the way that succeeded, as well as the other policy wins we have had, aren’t just good news. They specifically validate the president’s theory of change, which is that you — even in a divided Washington, you can get things done, and, sometimes, you can get them done with bipartisan support.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to get to infrastructure, but you know, with paid leave, I was talking about the dispute between Democrats, between Senator Manchin and the rest of the party, on that.
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, hold on.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That was a Democratic disagreement on paid leave.
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Even — but if even one Republican were prepared to support paid lead, we’d be in a different territory.
So, let’s not let 50 Republicans off the hook…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: … because we couldn’t get alignment with one or two Democrats.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. So it will be taken up in the new Congress?
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: I don’t know what the priorities of the new Congress will be.
I know that it’s a good policy, and we will keep fighting to get it done.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. And I will keep asking about it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about infrastructure.
So, you have started doling out some of the sort of allocations here that were part of that more than $1 trillion infrastructure law. You have got $120 billion, that you personally, I guess, at the department have discretion over in awarding some of these projects.
Where do you prioritize it? Because we have had a number of mayors on this program talk about their frustration that the money is not getting to them, that they know it’s been promised, they have spoken to the White House, but it’s not getting to Miami, Florida, and Jackson, Mississippi.
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, look, we have got a lot of discretionary grant programs to run over the course of the next five years.
And a lot of applications come in. We say yes to as many as we can. And I can tell you, we’re supporting infrastructure improvement right now in every state in the union. Now, even now, even with this wonderful funding, we won’t be able to say yes to every single project that every local community wants to do.
But we can do more than we have ever done before. And I have been one of those mayors, right? I have been a mayor knocking on the door of the DOT, trying to get funding. And, back then, we only had a sliver to work with of what we do now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So…
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: It is amazing what we have been able to see as I have traveled the country with good news on everything, from port improvements that will help with our supply chain, to fixing bridges that are so deteriorated, the school buses and ambulances can’t use them because there’s a weight limit, to — we’re in the Inland Empire, Fontana, California, kids walking, having to compete with traffic basically along a highway just to walk to school.
We’re going to fix that. We’re getting so many things done. But it’s not going to be overnight. Of course it’s not.
MARGARET BRENNAN: No. Well…
SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: That’s part of how it works with infrastructure.
MARGARET BRENNAN: They have been frustrated that it hasn’t been delivered, though it has been promised.
But I know we have to leave it there today. Mr. Secretary, thank you for coming on the program.
We will be back in a moment, so stay with us on Face the Nation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to University of Michigan Professor Betsey Stevenson, who previously served as the Department of Labor’s chief economist under former President Obama.
Good morning to you, Betsey. Good to have you on the program.
BETSEY STEVENSON (Former Council of Economic Advisers Member): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to get straight to it.
Last week, one of the top Fed officials, Loretta Mester, said inflation has not yet peaked. How much worse will it get, in your view?
BETSEY STEVENSON: Well, I — you know, it is hard to know how much worse it will get, because what people really care a lot about is, like, energy prices, where things are really volatile.
I think the thing that economists are really worried about is when we strip out those volatile food and energy prices and we look underneath that core inflation. that’s the stuff that’s hard to bring down. And when that hit 6.6 percent, I think that made people very worried about how long that will last.
And, you know, some of the things, we’re going to see housing prices, rental prices continue to go up, because a lot of the values of the homes that are already out there are up, and that hasn’t filtered through into CPI.
And then there are people out there who, really, their wages are so far below, in real terms, where they were, that they’re clamoring for a raise. And I think that those are the folks who aren’t ready to say, I’m going to keep working at my current nominal wage. So I think that’s the kind of risk that we’re facing right now, is, we’re going to see these increased wage pressure that’s going to keep pushing — pushing prices up.
I don’t think we have to worry, though, that it’s going to go much above where it currently is, which is that sort of 6.6 percent, as the core underlying inflation. But we got to be worried that it’s stuck there .
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
Well, there are plenty of people worried. Based on our CBS News polling, 70 percent of voters believe the national economy is bad; 53 percent say their personal financial situation is good. So there’s that. But a large part of the economy is consumer psychology here and what the consumer actually does.
And the perception is not that the economy is strong as hell, as the president said, but that these pricing pressures are hurting.
BETSEY STEVENSON: You know, it’s such a weird time because we have a record number of job opportunities out there.
I mean, it is a great time to look for a new job, to take a new job. And the people who are doing that are getting very large wage increases and are being made better off. And hiring is just continuing at this really high rate.
So, if you’re thinking about finding work, changing jobs, better using your skills, it’s a great economy. If you just want to stay where you’re at…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
BETSEY STEVENSON: … and keep buying the stuff you were buying, you’re struggling, because you’re seeing food prices are up. You’re seeing medical costs going up.
Everything around you is going up a little bit. And if your boss doesn’t want to give you a raise, you can’t — you know, you can’t make ends meet.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, one of the areas that I know you’ve focused on and we want to talk about is the childcare and caregiver shortage.
That’s one area of the economy where the Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are 100,000 fewer childcare workers now than there were before the pandemic. Where did they go? What — what is going on?
BETSEY STEVENSON: OK.
Well, one thing is that we are missing a lot of foreign-born women. I mean, and so that makes us confront the reality, which is immigrant women provide a lot of childcare in this economy. And they left. So we just have fewer immigrant women. So that’s a direct answer to your question, where did people go?
I think what’s making everybody really feel the pinch is, the labor supply of parents, parents — the share of parents who are in the labor force, both mothers and fathers, has returned to where
it was pre-pandemic. But, as you just said, we’re missing childcare workers.
So, no wonder parents feel like they’re struggling, because now they’re trying to do it with less formal care. And I think that that is causing a lot of stress. And they’re — that problem is getting worse, because, look, the median wage of a childcare worker is still $12 an hour.
So you can do better going to McDonald’s, Starbucks, Target. There’s a lot of jobs out there that’s going to pay you more than $12 an hour. And that’s making it harder to hire childcare workers. It’s why in, the last jobs month’s report, we saw a decline in the number of childcare workers, when other things are continuing to grow.
But if we pay childcare workers more…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
BETSEY STEVENSON: … well, where’s that going to come from? That’s going to mean an increase in the price of childcare services. And now we get back to inflation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, and…
BETSEY STEVENSON: You know, the real — yes, go ahead Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: No, and we also have teacher shortages around the country.
I mean, what are you seeing in terms of female employment and the return to the work force? Isn’t that still a big problem?
BETSEY STEVENSON: You know, actually, prime age women are back. So that’s our 25-to-54-year-old. So they’re, you know, not — we sort of focus on that age because they’re not in school, they’re not retired.
That age group is back. The problem we had with teachers, with airline pilots, with a lot of jobs is that people retired early. So we’re missing our sort of most skilled older workers, and that’s causing some problems.
And then, on the other end, we didn’t train a lot of people in jobs during the pandemic. We didn’t have those student teachers in the classroom in 2020 and 2021. And so we are not training young ones, the older ones are retiring early, and then all the burden is falling on these sort of middle- aged teachers, pilots, all sorts of jobs like that.
And it’s making the job worse, which is putting, again, sort of upward wage pressure, which is leading to inflation. You know, the thing is, people are very upset about inflation, and they feel awful about it, but the reality is that inflation hurts some people more than others.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
BETSEY STEVENSON: It’s not — it’s a generalized increase in prices, but not all prices are raising the same amount.
So we’ve got childcare workers where the price of childcare hasn’t gone up to keep up with inflation. And so that’s hurting people in the childcare industry. And the result is, we have fewer people working in childcare.
But we have got parents, on the other hand, who can’t really afford to pay more for childcare, because they couldn’t afford to pay for childcare before we had inflation. And that brings us back to needing a government solution to help ensure that all families can afford high-quality childcare.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And that’s why the next Congress is going to matter so much.
And, Betsey, thank you so much for talking to us about what you’re seeing out there.
We will take a break and be more — back with more Face the Nation, so stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And if you can’t watch the full Face the Nation, you can set your DVR, and we are replayed on our CBS News Streaming Network throughout the day on Sundays.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.
Hundreds of Russian missiles have rained down on Ukrainian territory over the past week, most of them aimed at civilian targets.
CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata is in Dnipro, Ukraine, with more.
CHARLIE D’AGATA (voice over): Days after unleashing the heaviest bombardment that Ukraine has seen since the invasion began, striking a dozen cities across the country, in a coordinated series of rocket and long-range missile attacks, Russian President Vladimir Putin said there is no need for more massive strikes, for now. At a news conference in Kazakhstan, he said he had no regrets, and that Russia is doing everything right.
The merciless battering of civilians in front line cities like Zaporizhzhia tell a different story. Residents told us a missile slammed into this neighborhood at around 2:00 in the morning.
CHARLIE D’AGATA (on camera): The missile punched a hole right through this apartment block, causing it to collapse on those inside. Tearing apart not just homes, but lives. The blast scattered children’s clothes among the trees.
CHARLIE D’AGATA (voice over): At one point, the heavy machinery clearing the rubble stopped. A drone hovered overhead as rescuers worked by hand. And another body was lifted from beneath the debris. Investigators work to put a name to another victim of Putin’s war.
Sirhi Nikanorv (ph) lives in the adjacent apartment and escaped serious injury, but he’s so shell-shocked, he can hardly speak.
My very close friends live there on the first floor, he said. I lost friends on the second floor, too.
And yet, despite Russia’s onslaught, troops have lost ground to Ukrainian forces on the battlefield, where the counteroffensive has advanced south at such a rate the Kremlin installed authorities in the city of Kherson and urge residents to evacuate to parts of Russia.
In his address last night, President Zelenskyy switched from Ukrainian to Russian saying — as for the citizens of Russia who do not want to participate in this criminal war, who surrender to Ukrainian captivity, we’ll save their lives.
We visited some of the dozens of those recently liberated villages. The high school that served as a Russian military HQ bears the scars of the battle to wrestle it back. Down the road, we found Oksana, still reeling.
CHARLIE D’AGATA (on camera): What did you think when you first saw Ukrainian soldiers here?
CHARLIE D’AGATA (voice over): Happiness. She said, I was just very happy. In tears she described the terror under Russian occupation, saying, we were all suffering. It was so hard and so scary.
Now, free from Russian military rule, for the first time in months.
CHARLIE D’AGATA: The next day, following that huge barrage, President Zelenskyy pleaded with leaders of the G7, specifically the United States, for more air defense systems. And while there has been a pledge by the White House for more advanced weapons, they can’t get here quickly enough.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Charlie D’Agata, thank you.
And we are joined now by Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova.
Madam Ambassador, good to have you back.
Let’s pick up where my colleague just left off. Last time President Zelenskyy was on this program at the end of September, he talked specifically about the delivery of air defense systems, thanking the United States, but they still have not been delivered. What is the holdup in the delivery of American weapons?
OKSANA MARKAROVA (Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S.): Thank you for having me, and thank you for talking about that.
Yes, we still need all the weapons we are talking about with air defense being the priority after this horrible strike that we’ve all seen return, and not only to select cities, but everywhere in Ukraine, and especially in Kyiv, and the infrastructure before the winter.
Unfortunately, this systems difficult to produce and they’re not ready on the shelves waiting, but we are doing everything possible and asking our partners to do everything possible to speed up not only the delivery, but also the ordering of the systems. So, hopefully, you heard your president been very clear on trying to accelerate the delivery of those. And we are counting on more systems to be announced and decision taken to produce because we do need to secure as many places in Ukraine as possible, as many children in Ukraine as possible from Russian rockets.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Pentagon has said it’s still about a month before those NASAMS come.
Let’s talk about what we just heard on Friday from Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said that the mobilization drive to increase the number of soldiers will end in the next two weeks, and that massive strikes are no longer needed.
What does your government assess he means by this? What are you preparing for?
OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, as we said, you know, 235 days, no limits and no moral restrictions from Russian aggressor. So, we should be prepared for everything.
And it’s actually irrelevant at this point what he says because this partial mobilization has been a big failure. People in Russia do not want to be mobilized. They are not equipped. They are not prepared. They are not motivated yet. There are a lot of them, but it has been a failure in Russia. They are probably not forcing it because they will have the plant mobilization in the
autumn. We don’t know.
All we — all we are focused on in staying the course and defending our country everywhere and being prepared for anything that can come from the Russian Federation. We have seen all the war crimes. We have seen all the rocket attacks. We have seen them using these Iranian Shahid (ph) drones on civilian residential areas, killing families. So, what he says is actually irrelevant because what they do, and everyone see what they do, this is what we have to pay attention to.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about billionaire Elon Musk. He seemed to have reversed his position yesterday, at least publicly, in saying that Starlink, which is an internet service that he has made available in Ukraine, which has helped your military communicate on the battle, that he will pay for it. This was after some back and forth to the Pentagon about not paying for it.
What’s the bottom line? Can your military depend on this for communication or not?
OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, look, I have disagreed with Elon Musk on some of his views about Crimea, and we were happy to discuss it with him. But regard to the company, we have started cooperation with Starlink. Excellent corporation. Before this phase of the war, we got the Starlinks in Ukraine very quickly. In some areas, for humanitarian support, it’s the only connection that we have. And it’s very important to continue having it. And I’m positive that we will find a solution there. And —
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, it’s not resolved yet?
OKSANA MARKAROVA: It’s there, it’s working, we will need to be working for a longer time. And, look, we are proud to be one of the fastest growing Starlink countries globally too. But the payment, who’s going to pay, I’m sure we will find the solution there.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Because the “Financial Times” had reported that there were outages from the satellite that had a direct impact on the battlefield, particularly in the east of the country. Is this payment dispute hurting your military?
OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, look, there is no payment dispute, per se. I mean there are discussions on — that we need more and where we need them and how we will need them. But the actual reason for the outages is Russian aggression. And the fact that they are bombing our infrastructure. And this disruption there, the connectivity of all the cellular operators and trying to interfere also with others. We’re trying to resolve it in many possible ways. And Starlink has been an instrumental part of the solution.
MARGARET BRENNAN: France’s president drew a lot of scrutiny this week because he said, if Russia carries out a nuclear attack on your country, that his country would not respond with nuclear weapons. What exactly is the level of risk right now from the nuclear threat, whether it’s from tactical weapons on the battlefield or what’s happening at your nuclear power plant?
OKSANA MARKAROVA: We cannot rule out anything. And as you – as you said, you know, the nuclear threat is already there because Russians illegally control one of the largest nuclear plants in Europe. And the situation there deteriorates as it’s not returned to Ukraine because it’s — the personnel there is not in the – in the quantity that needs to be there. They are threatened by Russians. We don’t know exactly what happens to them. And the – the station has to be returned to Ukraine in order to decrease the risk. So, this is a big risk and we need Russia to get out.
With regard to the use of nuclear weapons, I think, again, its issue is much bigger than Ukraine. We, in Ukraine, will resist and we will not give up regardless of what Russian federation uses against us. We have, I think, proven it, from rockets, to atrocities, to anything that they try to do in Ukraine, it doesn’t break our will. So, there is no point for Russian federation to use anything else because it will not stop us in defending our homes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
OKSANA MARKAROVA: With regard to the global response, it has to be very harsh, even for the talks of Russian federation and Putin about using the nuclear weapons because this is a clear red line. This is on — you know, on what the whole security infrastructure of Europe and global is built —
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, when the French president says something like that, does it muddy that line? Does it blur that line?
OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, I just – I just hope that everyone understands that the way it should be understood. In 1994, Ukraine became the country that voluntarily gave up the third largest nuclear arsenal and received assurances of our safety because we gave up our nuclear weapons. And if a nuclear weapon will be used by a nuclear power, an aggressor, against non- nuclear country like Ukraine, then the whole nuclear deterrence system is going to be under risk. So, I think we all together cannot allow Russian federation to use it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Ambassador, thank you very much for your time. Always good to have you with us.
We’ll be back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to our political panel.
Rachael Bade of “Politico” is here with us and Karoun Demirjian of “The Washington Post.” They’re the authors of “Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’ Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump.”
Good morning to you ladies.
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, (Author, “Unchecked”: Good morning.
RACHAEL BADE (Author, “Unchecked”): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, this is a pretty in-depth autopsy, as you can see by the size here, of what you lay out as strategic missteps, in – in many ways by Democrats themselves in their attempt to hold the former president accountable. The impeachment work Senate didn’t convict.
It feels like it’s full of these moments where history could have gone in a different direction. And you lay that all out here. Why do you think it’s important to do that?
RACHAEL BADE: Yes, so there’s this prevailing wisdom. There’s sort of two things we’re going to be challenging here in this book in our reporting. The first one is that Trump’s acquittal, both of them, were inevitable. We find, as you mentioned, a whole bunch of pivotal moments where things could have gone the other way. Moderate Democrat – or moderate Republicans who, behind the scenes, were freaking out about Trump’s behavior and came so close to voting to impeach or convict. But for certain things that Democrats had done that alienated them or times when Democrats put pressure on their own investigators not to do a full investigation, to try to make the strongest case possible to the public that Trump was dangerous. And so we challenge that.
The second sort of preconceived notion we challenge is that, you know, there’s this sort of sentiment out there that Republicans just sort of turned a blind eye to everything Trump did and that’s why he got away with everything while Democrats were doing the best they can to make the strongest case publicly. But, again, we find a lot of examples where Democrats were putting their political concerns over strategic fact-finding to just try to lay out the case and – and privately they have told us that they sort of — they didn’t — they did half-baked impeachment and that they didn’t make the strongest case possible, and some of them have regrets.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Karoun, I mean, in some ways the January 6th committee is a continuation of this case. Do you think that it addressed some of these mistakes as you were laying out?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN: I think that the work the January 6th committee has done in pulling in Republican witnesses, in making sure they fight their subpoenas all the way through the court is by itself a recognition that they pulled some punches when they were actually going after Trump during the first two impeachments and the first two impeachment trials. We’re seeing that corrective action basically taking place in the way and the procedures in which they’ve gone forward with the January 6th investigation, which is going over a lot of similar ground, as at least the second impeachment trial did.
And so that is almost a tacit acknowledgment of, you know, we had the opportunity to take these steps almost two years ago and we chose not to take them. And I think in this book we question
— we look at those intraparty fights, basically, that stopped those steps from happening, these moments where but for a couple more hours sometimes, but for, you know, a person’s sense of confidence versus their fear of being able to, you know, actually use the congressional — constitutional heft of the power that they had to check a president, things may have been able to go a different way. And so, yes, it’s clearly a case where there were opportunities for them to go after witnesses, to run down subpoenas that they didn’t take in the past that they are trying to correct in the present, but Trump’s not in office anymore and you can’t have the same result.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And there was reluctance from the very top, from Speaker Pelosi.
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN: Very top.
RACHAEL BADE: That’s right. That’s right. We have reporting in the book that on January 6th Pelosi herself shut down an effort by some of her members to try to impeach that — Trump that very night. And, you know, there was like — McCarthy was furious. Republicans were just as upset as Democrats that night. I mean what would have happened if they had just done that, put it on the floor? We’ll never know, of course.
MARGARET BRENNAN: (INAUDIBLE).
RACHAEL BADE: Well, that’s a great question. But there was — it was not just Pelosi, right? It was Chuck Schumer and his staff who we learned through our reporting would put sort of pressure on Jamie Raskin’s impeachment team to do a quick trial to not summon and call and test in court their subpoenas, to go after people like Mike Pence’s aides, which now the January 6th committee is doing that, but back then they just wanted the investigation to move quickly, the trial to be over with, to sort of save Biden’s presidency from this messy business of impeachment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to — because what you reference there reminds me of what we just heard of this past week from the committee with this video the public at least had never seen before. I want to play some of it here in a minute.
And just for our viewers, this is where congressional leaders had been evacuated to a safe place out in Virginia during the attack. And you’ll hear Speaker Pelosi and the Senate majority leader talking to the attorney general at the time, acting one, Jeffrey Rosen, and you’ll see that Republicans are standing there alongside the Democrats at one point.
REP. SPEAKER PELOSI (D-CA): They’re breaking the law in many different ways. And, quite frankly, much of it at the instigation of the president of the United States. And now if – if he could – could at least somebody —
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Yes, why don’t you get the president to tell them to leave the Capitol, Mr. Attorney General, in your law enforcement responsibility. A public statement they
should all leave.
This cannot be just we’re waiting for so and so. We need them there now. Whoever you got.
How soon in the future can you have the place evacuated? You know, cleaned out?
JEFFREY ROSEN (Acting Attorney General): I don’t want to speak for the leadership that’s going to be – that’s responsible for executing the — the operation. So, I’m not going to say that because they’re the — on the ground and they’re the experts.
PELOSI: Well, just pretend — just pretend for a moment it was the Pentagon or the White House or some other entity that was under siege. And let me say, you can logistically get people there as you make the plan.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And, ultimately, we hear later from the Vice President Mike Pence speaking to Speaker Pelosi, authorizes the movement to eventually happen.
But, Karoun, you see Republican leaders there gathered with Democrats in this moment. How is it that there was no quick action?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN: Well, as our reporting shows in a piece that actually — an excerpt that ran in “The Atlantic” this morning, the Republicans were there across the hall to meet with the Democrats. We’re in this moment and this mindset where they were basically saying, we’re done with the White House. We’ve got to work together here to make this happen.
You had people working the phones on both sides of the aisle. McConnell was doing the exact same thing as the Democrats, trying to get people to move towards the Capitol. It’s — it’s – it’s surprising that even with all of that effort it did still take hours for that help to arrive. But it shows you that this was a moment where kind of everybody was working – working together to achieve the same ends, which is striking in itself given how quickly that coalition splintered shortly thereafter.
Rachael referenced a moment ago that there was this moment — our reporting showed this moment the night of January 6th where after they left that terrible crisis hours, they’re back on the floor of the — in – in the Capitol, trying to conclude the Electoral College results. And rank and file Democrats approached the leaders with an impeachment resolution, saying, let’s do this now. Let’s capitalize on the anger. Let’s capitalize on this galvanized sense that we’re all in this together and the party lines don’t matter. And Pelosi decides not to go for it in that moment.
She talks at another point in that video about being ready to throw a physical punch at President Trump, but she pulled the constitutional punch they could have potentially leveled in that moment on that day.
RACHAEL BADE: Yes, I think the most striking thing about Fort McNair and what was happening was that it was really the first time in Trump’s, you know, four years of Trump’s presidency that you saw congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle sort of come together to try to bring Trump to heal. I mean, you know, McConnell, before he went over to the Democrats’ room, and, by the way, we have this bizarre color in the book about how — for some reason Republicans and Democrats were escorted to different rooms at Fort McNair despite this emergency. And they’re each trying to get through to the Pentagon. They’re each trying to figure out, why is the National Guard not moving. And McConnell, at one point, you know, he – his – his staff is trying to get him on the phone with top defense leaders. They’re put on hold. And people were like, why are — Republicans were furious, why – why are – he’s – why’s he putting on hold?
So, you know, he crosses the room. And, again, he goes and finds Pelosi and Schumer and says, we’ve got to work together. They — together they were not able to get answers from the Pentagon about why things were taking so fast. And so they all agree that the only person they can really turn to right now is not Trump, it’s Mike Pence.
And so they call him. And that’s where we have this sort of clear the Capitol order.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
RACHAEL BADE: It’s sort of the backstory of how Pence got to that moment. It was because Hill leaders, together, were – were pleading with him to do something.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And — and it’s – it’s a powerful read. It’s a powerful moment. And, ultimately, it raises even more questions.
RACHAEL BADE: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: About the path we’re on. Ladies, congratulations on the book. We’ll leave it there and be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to take a closer look now at the Georgia Senate race. One of those key races that could decide which party controls the Senate.
Nikole Killion reports from Athens.
NIKOLE KILLION (voice over): Saturdays in the south are meant for college football. But it was Friday’s debate featuring University of Georgia legend Herschel Walker that was the talk of the tailgate.
ANDREW WALGREN (Georgia Voter): It kind of reaffirmed what I already thought, that Herschel Walker is not fit for office.
NIKOLE KILLION (on camera): In what way?
ANDREW WALGREN: Doesn’t know policy. Has clearly fabricated parts of his life.
TRAVIS PECK (Georgia Voter): Herschel Walker has a good heart, you know. And we believe in, you know, a lot of similar things.
NIKOLE KILLION (voice over): In what might have been their only face-to- face debate Friday night, the GOP challenger and Democratic incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock made their cases to Georgia voters.
SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: This race is about who’s ready to represent Georgia.
HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: He’s for Joe Biden. I’m for Georgia.
NIKOLE KILLION: Dogged by recent reports that he allegedly paid for a woman’s abortion, Walker issued another denial.
HERSCHEL WALKER: That’s a lie.
RAPHAEL WARNOCK: My opponent has a problem with the truth.
NIKOLE KILLION: But on abortion rights, he appeared to soften his stance, backing off a total ban.
HERSCHEL WALKER: I support the Georgia heartbeat bill because that’s the bill of the people from Governor Kemp. And I said that has exceptions in it.
NIKOLE KILLION: Walker repeatedly tied Warnock to President Biden.
HERSCHEL WALKER: Can he tell me why he voted with joe Biden 96 percent of the time if he was standing for Georgia?
NIKOLE KILLION: When asked about their respective standard bearers in 2041, Walker eagerly endorsed former President Trump, but Warnock was noncommittal?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you support President Biden running for a second term in 2024?
RAPHAEL WARNOCK: I have not spent a minute thinking about what politician should run for what in 2024.
NIKOLE KILLION: But it was this exchange that went viral as the clashes clashed over law enforcement and Walker’s claim of being a police officer.
RAPHAEL WARNOCK: I’ve never pretended to be a police officer. And — and – and I’ve never — I’ve never threatened a shootout with the police.
HERSCHEL WALKER: I am – work with many police officers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a prop.
HERSCHEL WALKER: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is not allowed, sir.
NIKOLE KILLION: A Walker aide tells CBS News that was an honorary badge from a local department. But in a sign of just how critical the stakes are here, former President Obama is set to campaign in Georgia later this month. One of many stops he’ll make before the midterms. No word if President Biden or former President Trump will also come down here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Nikole, we will be watching. Thank you.
We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s it for us today. Thank you for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.
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