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tv   Face the Nation  CBS  December 24, 2018 2:30am-2:59am PST

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>> brennan: welcome back to "face the nation" and our 68 68-year cbs news tradition. the cbs news correspondent year end roundtable. joining me today, nation natural security david martin and jefe justice jeff pegues and chief washington correspondent major garrett and paula reid who interrupted her visit to her new in-laws to join thus morning. thank you very much for being here. a lot of chiefs at the table, too. david, i want to start off with you. this mattis resignation, he clearly quit based on that
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letter where he laid out fundamental differences that he has with the president. what happens next? >> we don't know. for one thing, the resignation was not going to take affect until the end of february so he'll be on the job for collectively two more months through creation of the new budget, through another meeting of nato defense chiefs. but we're getting indications this morning that he may be going right now. >> brennan: that he was fire fired, essentially, told to -- >> we have a statement from the pentagon saying the secretary of defense serves at the pleasure of the president. and i interpret that as meaning that the secretary has been asked to go at once, i don't have confirmation of that. but that's how i interpret that statement. >> brennan: what does that mean in the immediate sense, who steps up? >> the deputy secretary of defense is man named patrick shanahan, most people never hear
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the name of the deputy secretary of defense. he's got a lifetime of experience with boeing building airplanes. he likes to say he's built more airplanes than anybody in the world and it's probably true. he's in charge of president trump's pet project, creating a space force. he's had a number of dealings with president trump. he's obviously not the military expert that mattis is. but what you need to run the pentagon is executive expertise and skills. the fact that he's not a military expert does not mean that he can't be an effective acting secretary of defense. >> at the white house, the only name that surfaced with any specificity has been patrick shanahan as replacement, this was a couple of days ago. on the hill, what i received because he's been confirmed already he might have easier confirmation process while
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administration has so many confirmation battles interior secretary, u.n. ambassador, et cetera that might be person who could take that position, pay attention to procurement, maintenance, space force and leave maybe some of the larger policy questions to secretary of state pompeo and national security advisor john bolton that would please the two of majorf what david is saying he's sort of reading between the line of that statement is true that -- >> that means the same thing. at the pleasure of the preside president. the president is displeased. i'm out. >> brennan: we clearly saw from these tweets last night where the president fairly -- >> that's what he met. >> and brett mcgurk that he's very frustrated. what has happened? media coverage of how this went down or what would have triggered the president to say february 8th is way too long for mattis to say. >> it's too intense. too much traction. stepping back for a second there's been some thought of these stabilizing forces around the president, whether it was
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john kelly, secretary mattis for a while, rex tillerson, what the the country actually needs is what it voted for. the actual undiluted approach to national security questions that this president campaigned on which he what he says he's now doing. i told you i wanted to get out of the syria. i told you i didn't want have endless wars. i told you i wanted to come back home. forget about the processor the communication strategy i'm doing what i told you. watch it, look it, evaluate it. perhaps with the guard rails now less close to this president, the country is going to get what it voted for and what actually is closer to his core instincts. we'll decide if we're comfor comfortable with that. >> brennan: david, what are your thoughts on what major just laid out there, is shanahan to stay or going to see other nominees that perhaps the pentagon would like to see at the helm? >> the other names you hear are the retired tom cotton.
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kane is about to turn 76 that is getting up there for a job as demanding as secretary of defense and both are opposed to the syria pull out. they don't seem like natural fits. i agree very much with what major just said, the story all along about president trump is been that he blows off intelligence briefing, he can't change his mind. but now what's changed is he is taking decisions based on his instincts not just telling people not to bother him with these war arguments he's making decisions. >> brennan: we saw similar pattern play out, jeff, this ac agr i terms ock and fort funding an borderecurity measuresfit republicans thoughty could get something through without border wall funding now that's what we're shutting down
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and some federal employees right now who don't know as they head into christmas when they will get their next paycheck. but obviously this is the president who feels like this may be his last chance to get that border wall. he wants $5 billion, democrats were offering $1.6 now they feel emboldened i think they lowered their number down to $1.3 we're at a stalemate now. the question is, when will this be resolved. >> brennan: when will we see the current secretary of homeland security remain at po post, is there an expiration date? >> i think we've been waiting for that shoe to drop especially after general kelly was announced that he was going to leave, he is someone who is sort of a mentor for her, so when he
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left or in other words, those of us who cover homeland security wondering could she be next? that's what we're expecting. with kelly on the way out. >> brennan: paula, a lot of new blood in the new year potentially at the moment we have an acting attorney general. and news around him this week as it pertains to what the justice department recommended, ethics wise. that was that he recused himself from any kind of dealings with the russia probe something that the prior a.g. had been fired for doing in the first place. what do people need to understand about this decision? >> two big headlines coming tout this week about whitaker hand his role in the russia investigation, he has never received any briefings about the mueller probe so far. that means everything that happens so far with cohen, anything that's gone on with special counsel that still been approved by rob rosenstein. then we learn that ethics officials said that if whitaker asked, they would advise that he recuse out of abundance of caution based on these
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criticisms of the special counsel that he made before he came to the justice department. whitaker never asked. so he has made a decishat w taker t peol of the sal counsel investi forward.heill begin to briefis, he and jointly the special counsel investigation until an attorney general is confirmed. >> brennan: any prediction when that could take place? >> we got preview of what that confirmation battle as major noted one of many will start to look like because we have this memo surface, he sent u unsolicited miami toe to the deputy attorney general laying out a pretty stark criticism of one of the central veins of the special counsel probe, obstruction of justice. barr argued that the president couldn't have possibly obstructedded justice. he is right to fire the fbi director, the right to dangle pardons, many legal scholars made this argument but barr took it to an 11.oned t ifoee overupf the special counsel investigation that he may be willing to shut down that aspect
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of the probe. >> brennan: last time you were here, it wasn't too long ago, you said i think february or march for until then do you stick by that? >> you have so many things that need to be wrapped up. months that people say, i this it's going to wrap up, i think it's going to wrap up. well, i don't. there are several reasons. one, mike flynn sentencing won't happen any time before march, you also have the grand jury continues to hear additional witnesses. we expect new indictments, also have the special counsel figh fighting subpoenas in court, paul manafort won't be sentenced until february. the special counsel's office exists until every case is wrapped up. i don't see that happening before the end of march. >> i think it's interesting, lot of people put a clock on this thing. when you get past special counsel investigations, bengha benghazi, thookears, some y this fbi had first
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course but 19 months into robert mueller's investigation. >> brennan: major, there's little part of the trump empire or trump white house that is not being probed for investigated at this point. >> not all by the special counsel. there's scrutiny will be applied by the new incoming house majority, for sure. other -- taking foreign or domestic revenue at the trump hotel or trump properties is that a violation? lots of things are being investigated. there is a sense that the white house person up for this, increase the number of lawyers in thete couel's office, that process isology g go -- >> brennan: are they prepared? >> i don't think you ever fully prepared i would say, if you were to use any statistic or metric that other previous administrations used on the preparation front they would be far beneath that. one of the things special counsel not affected by partial government shut down. funded fully. >> brennan: no back door shut
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down that way. lot more to talk about including your predictions for the year ahead if you're brave enough to make them in this news environment. we'll take a quick break. stay with us. a whole new way to care for newborns is born new johnson's cottontouch™ wash and lotion made with real cotton and enhances your gentle touch a new soft a new touch a new gentle new johnson's cottontouch™ (baby cooing) choose gentle ♪ the kenya tea development agency is an organization that is owned by tea farmers. every week we sell this tea, we get paid in multiple accounts. we were looking for a bank to provide a safe and efficient technology platform to pay our farmers. citi was the only one
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one point. david, for you, what ihe m need to know about? >> to me it's the new national defense strategy, because as secretary mattis outlined, now competition with china and russia not war on terror is the primary focus of the trump administration and of u.s. national security. that means this giant super tanker that is the united states military is starting to turn away from terrorists toward building up the military to be able to compete on -- at a high end of conflict. and long after we've stopped arguing about how many troops we should have had in syria and how long, this is going to continue to play out because it's reflected in the pentagon budget which of course takes years and
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years to play out. so this is a major change in the direction of u.s. foreign policy and national security policy and i think one that's compatible with the president's make nga see a big change. >> brennan: jeff, for you? >> with all this talk about pulling out from syria and afghanistan, i talked to officials at the fbi who say the number of isis related investigations that they have ongoing is still at about a thousand. that number has been there for about three or four years now so they're still facing these threats from people who are inspired by that ideology, so with all of this talk about pulling the troops out they are still facing this daily threat of people who are going online and watching what's happening in syria and afghanistan and iraq and are inspired by that ideology still.
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>> brennan: paula, for you, what has been under reported on your very quiet beat? >> is the opioid crisis, the evolution of that crisis we're seeing a record number of delts, that is being driven by fentan fentanyl. and prescription opioid that some if something i had more time i would be focusing on. >> brennan: we heard president trump mention that as a success in his meeting that he would change how fentanyl is handled internally in his country. major, what has been unde underreported? >> there is a narrative that exists for a good reason because we feel it every day of this sense of chaos and constant polarized clash in washington. on certain issues, i watched it in the oval office nearly an hour at the end of this week, there are bipartisan efforts that do succeed and make a big en criminalefo
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h reid all complimenting each other that made an alteration in federal criminal justice for the first time in 340 years. the farm bill, do that affect us here, in the center of the country it makes a huge deal. opioids has at a policy level and appropriations level reached a level of critical mass on b bipartisan basis under this president's leadership. now is the president responsible for that. largely, no. why are these successes occurring? because actual legislators are doing legislative work with the president's approval working out all the hardy tails, getting the president to sign off and makin. there is a sense of chaos and polarization on macro issues and some of the ones that grab all the headlines l. is functionality. it's work in bipartisan basis not everything is chaotic and not goingng didn't take long for that message of unity to get trounced
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upon because of the shut down. you had the criminal justice r reform, something that people have beenork wrong for years and it was overshadowed. >> uniquely capable of stomping into subject mission. >> i will put in point of prilege since i was a foreign policy correspondent, one thing that under reported is human rights issue that is what is happening in china. you have reports in the state department that between 800,000 and two million muslims have been put in internment camps. largest internment of people since world war ii. have been called for sanctions on capitol hill we don't hear about it much in the conversations at the presidential level certainly with ping. i now want to go into really dangerous territory. which is to try to predict what is coming at us in 2019. david, what should we expect at a pentagon where we don't yet
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know who the leadership will be? >> just reading the handwriting on the wall, the president has said that the annual military exercises with south korea are both provocative and too expensive i predict that when he meets with king jong-un in january or february, he will offer the concession of suspen suspending the spring exercise, not sus spending but cancelling the spring exers sizes in south korea in return for some sort of concession on noted korea's nuclear weapons program that will allow to maintain despite all of the intelligence to the contrary that north korean nuclear threat has been eliminated. >> brennan: it's worth poin pointing out here on that prediction that you're 2016 prediction of them meeting came true. so, take note from what david laid out. i think you also said -- he is
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in deep hiding. >> we wait to see.e ovid maray. >> brennan: that is absolutely the case. what is your prediction, jeff? >> i am predicting that mueller will find an element of collusion, conspiracy. whether it's enough in this political atmosphere, we'll see. but if you look at the pace of that investigation in the way that he has rolled up cooperating witnesses, i think it's remarkable. if i any other investigation that type of police work, if you will, would get a lot of attention. monthse more than 33 indictments i thi it'sdg something that wilhe er conio >> brennan: quickly, major
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and paula. >> saudi arabia was a huge issue last year in my predictions. yemenyria are vectoring off, what this administration does or doesn't make of it is going to fun fundamentally alter middle east policy. >> no guarantee the mueller report will be made public. there will be massive legal fight to make that full. >> brennan: mid east peace plan by spring. 50 pages of it. stay tuned. we'll be back in a moment. with a look at what one member of congress is doing to try to make for better bipartisan relations on capitol hill.
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>> brennan: with all the partisanship in washington today we thought we'd leave you with a story about what one democrat is doing to bring some holiday cheer to his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. >> fruit cake, the holiday season most despised dessert. for the last 22 years, oregon democratic congressman has been lobbying his fellow lawmakers to
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join the confection's caucus. >> we're doing a little drive by caking.. >> that means surprising his colleagues with a treaties loved since childhood. he makes hundreds every year over his thanksgiving holiday. >> just kind of a holiday ritu ritual, baking, separating dozens and dozens of eggs. >> over a thousand eggs in fact. he makes his deliveries in the offices and halls of the capitol each one complete with a shot of portland area pear brandy. >> you don't drink. but we have brandy for the staff. >> i'll pass it on. could i just taste it? >> you can. right there. >> very tasty. >> there is brandy that some eat with fruit cake, some douse it,
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some just drink it. >> the congressman's fruit cake is welcome at any party, even the grand old party. he delivers to his republican colleagues as well. >> this is awesome. >> who says fruit cake is no good. >> this is good. >> just republicans on the hill. >> you want sample a piece of fruit cake? >> you don't have to. >> this will be my only fruit cake. >> for you, anything. >> i'm sure it's a sacrifice. >> even taste is sacrifice, why does he do it? it forms a connection with his colleagues that he can't get anywhere else. and he hopes that the spirit of giving something one hates a try might just make its way into the house chamber. >> one of the best guys, you get to work with in washington, d.c. >> congressman says he pays for
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>> brennan: that's it for us today. thank you for watching. we want to wish you all a merry christmas and a very happy holiday season. until next week for "face the nation," i'm margaret brennan. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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. chaos in washington, president trump tweets that he is removing mattis two months early. >> it turns secretary mattis's rez rz nation in to a fire. >> lawmakers cannot reach an agreement to fund the border wall. >> this is what washington looks like when you have a president that refuses to go along to get >> more than 200 are dead, many thes on the devastating

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