Skip to main content

tv   Face the Nation  CBS  February 19, 2017 8:30am-9:01am PST

8:30 am
captioning sponsored by cbs >> dickerson: today on "face the nation", plagued with personnel problems and drowning in damaging leaks to the press, president trump goes back to being candidate. >> one month into office, president trump held a campaign rally last night florida. but the president had an comforting ending to uncomfortable week in washington. >> i am here because i want to be among my friends and among the people. >> dickerson: and he gave a status report on his presidency. >> the white house is running so smoothly. >> dickerson: but is it? we will talk to white house chief of staff reince priebus and then turn to key republican voices on foreign policy. south carolina senator lindsey graham and house intelligence committee chairman devin nunes,
8:31 am
plus maryland democrat elijah cummings and there is, as always we will have analysis on all of the news, coming up on "face the nation". >> dickerson: good morning and welcome to "face the nation". i am john dickerson. it has been another bracing week in washington and we talked about it earlier with president trump's chief of staff reince priebus. >> mr. priebus, welcome. i want to start with a little business before we get to the substance of things. there has been a debate about when to take the president seriously. he recently tweeted that the press was the enemy of the american people. should we take that seriously from him? >> well, i think you should take it seriously. i think the problem we have got is that we are talking about bogus stories like the one in "the new york times" that we have had constant contact with russian officials, the next day the "wall street journal" had a story that the intel community was not giving the president a full intelligence briefing, both stories grossly inaccurate, overstated, over blown, and it is total garbage, so we spend
8:32 am
"48 hours" on bogus stories and the american people suffer. so i do think it is a problem and i think that the media needs to, in some cases forks, not every case, john, but in some cases really needs to get its act together. >> dickerson: the enemy? >> it is serious is that the press is supposed to be a free forum of information to speak to the american people. i think it ought to be accurate and i think we have gotten to a place, john, where the media is willing to run with unnamed sources, apparently false leaked documents, to create stories. i mean, we deal with one after the next. i think that the media should stop with this unnamed source stuff, put names on a piece of paper and print it. if people aren't willing to put their maim next to a quote then the quote shouldn't be listed period. >> the court:. >> dickerson: what you are describing in all of the presidencies i have covered is a very familiar complaint from the white houses going back a very long time, and no previous white
8:33 am
house has called the press the enemy. >> well, i think in our case we have a total feeding frenzy and something that has gotten so out of control when you look at the president's accomplishments why don't we talk about we pulled out of tpp, we did a deregulation executive order that takes two regulations for every one that has been put in plaim place, we nominated neil gorsuch, we signed a bill the president is saving our coal mining jobs and met with the uk. we met with canada, we have met with israel. we have done so many things that are noteworthy and an accomplishment, and one day after the next, the storyline should not be about bogus russian spy stories. they should be that this president has accomplished more in the first 30 days of this presidency than people can possibly remember in a very long time. >> dickerson: let me ask -- >> it is a story of accomplishment. and that is not what we are talking about. >> dickerson: well, we are talking about the declaring that the press is the enemy and i
8:34 am
just wanted to ask you this. in the past when the president, when he was a candidate and he targeted people, say, protesters at a rally, some people found that an opportunity to take license and target those people. as a spokesman for white house here with us today, what would you say to anybody who might take license with the idea when the president says the press is the enemy and act on that declaration by the president? >> well, i don't know what you mean by act on. i mean certainly we would never condone violence but i do think we condone critical thought, and i think if americans put critical thought which i think they will into what they are reading in these newspapers and actually what is being accomplished by the trump administration, they would realize that the press in many cases a not been doing their job in reporting the truth. and the truth is, day after day after day, we have good stories to tell, great accomplishments, businesses coming back, the stock market is at an all-time high, companies like gm, ford, chrysler, intel,
8:35 am
all across this country are adding jobs by the thousands, and it is because president trump is doing the things every day to give confidence to business owners and workers across america that things are getting done positively, instead, we are talking about stupidity and intelligence reporting that is based on facts that are not coming out of the actual heads of these intelligence agencies and we are sitting here talking about it and it is a shame and it needs to end. >> dickerson: let me, let me ask you something about senator john mccain said in front of a group of european leaders at the munich security conference, he said the audience would quote be alarm by the growing inability and even unwillingness to separate truth from lies. your response to that criticism of the administration. >> well, i think it is a good criticism of the media. you know, it is very difficult to separate the truth from the lies. >> dickerson: mr. -- he was not talking -- >> i get it, john.
8:36 am
i understand the question. and i am just asking you to do the same thing in regard to the media and what we have been dealing with lately in responding to 24 hours a day, seven days a week of cable news with one tirade after another with a lie from another source that doesn't want to actually name a single person in these bogus stories. and so we would rather talk about the truth and what is happening instead of these bogus stories. and go through the litany of things we have accomplished, the hiring freeze, deregulation, protecting americans from terrorists. i think it has been an police department. >> dickerson: i understand, but if we could get back to the question from senator mccain of arizona, who made that claim about truth from the white house. what is your response to that? >> my response is that i don't even know what he is referring to. i mean, i didn't see his statement, but he would be wrong
8:37 am
in regard to that statement and the white house and president trump. the fact of the matter is, the level of accomplishment that he has put forward so far in the first 30 days has been remarkable. >> dickerson: let me ask you -- >> and we have already gone through the litany many times with you. >> dickerson: let me ask you about that litany. in conversations i have had with members in the administration, and also republicans on the hill, they have said that while they are on your team, they are on your side, they recognize all of those accomplishments you talk about, that when the president says the white house is "a fine-tuned machine" and when steven miller in the white house says it is an understatement you are in control, what they worry about is, that not everything is in control and there is such an effort to show how things are in control that there may be a blind spot at the white house of the things that naturally with any administration need to be fixed. for those people who are worried about that blind spot, about the, about the things that do need to be fixed what are your words to them? >> well, first of all, there you go again. you are talking about some
8:38 am
people, those people, them, they, who are these people? >> dickerson: you have not -- >> well, let me ask you and put it this way -- >> no -- >> dickerson: conversations you have, with say speaker paul ryan and lots of other leaders on the hill. when they talk to you, do they express no concern that things at the white house are maybe a little ragged on certain issues? is it constant praise that you get from your allies on the hill? >> look, i think what we hear from people on the hill is the same thing i am telling you, that is media is obsessed with a lot of false, hollow stories without sourcing, that we have to track down and deal with. you have -- you have constant -- > >> dickerson: let me ask you this. >> go ahead. >> dickerson: so in every answer you have turned it back to the media. so i guess the question is, is is the strategy now to answer any question by just turning it back on the media and using a fight with the
8:39 am
media as a way to try to control the storyline? >> von, the last few questions you asked make no sense. i mean you are talking about people you are not named and whether some things need to be improved and what would you say to some people that say some things. what things? what people. what are you referring to give me a specific question with a specific accusation and i will answer the question. but you are asking me a vague question without any specifics and you want me to give you a specific answer. it is ridiculous. >> dickerson: i guess the president is the one who said the administration is running line "a fine-tuned machine" so i am referring to a comment he made and people i talk to on the hill don't agree with that comment and so i am wondering whether you think that there is a disconnect there and whether you have to address that with your allies who again have your interests at heart but think there are parts of the administration, and what your evaluation is the person who is the chief of staff is in terms of improvements you have to make in the administration. >> well, look, i mean, i think
8:40 am
for one thing, it is a finely-tuned machine but i also think it is a machine that is -- the longest administration without a full cabinet, and as those cabinet positions are being filled, the positions underneath those cabinet secretaries are being filled, and i do think that things get more robust and they become more built out as you move forward and i think all of those things are going to help the entire trump administration, but as far as what we have done on a daily basis, whether it is meeting with retailers, whether it is talking about women empowerment or meeting with foreign leaders or whether signing an eo or is a saving the coal industry, those are things we are doing day in and day out and i think that the media and not necessarily you, john, but people like you spend more time on the actual substance of what is happening as opposed to hollow stories about what might be happening out there across the world which is not based on any fact or any actual specific information.
8:41 am
>> dickerson: well i was just asking for a response, did, to something the president said but let me ask you about michael flynn, another thing the president said, he said that the president said that it was good for michael flynn to be in conversation with the russian ambassador. did he mean it was good for him to be in conversation about sanctions with the russian ambassador when he talked to him about sanctions before the inauguration? >> that is not what he said, john. i think what he is really referring to is the fact that michael flynn is nsa director, his job is to talk to foreign leaders, yes, including the russian ambassador and other ambassadors across the world and other people, other experts, also have said the same thing. there is not a darn thing wrong with what he is doing by communicating to these other leaders. he didn't get into the dash. >> dickerson:. >> or whether he was saying -- telling the vice president the truth or the whole story or whether he forgot, that's a totally separate issue. but as far as his job of speaking with world leaders, that is what general flynn was
8:42 am
supposed to be doing. >> dickerson: but the president believed it was correct for him to be talking about sanctions with the russian ambassador before the inauguration? >> the president didn't -- the, didn't make a comment on that. what you -- there is nothing wrong with talking to the foreign, with the russian ambassador about the current sanctions being put in place in by the obama administration. i just answered the question. >> dickerson: so there was nothing wrong -- i am just trying to get a straight answer. there is nothing wrong with having that conversation about sanctions? >> no. there is nothing wrong with having a conversation about sanctions, and there is nothing wrong about having a conversation about the fact that the obama administration put further sanctions in place and expelled some folks out of the united states. there is nothing wrong with that topic coming up in a conversation. >> dickerson: some people argue that it was the undermining of ongoing u.s. policy by somebody who was not a spokesperson for the administration. one other question on mr. flynn. has anyone asked him whether he had contact with the russians before the election?
8:43 am
>> i am not -- before the election? what do you mean? before november? >> dickerson: did mr. flynn before the votes in november have any contacts with the russians, if anybody asked that -- >> i think he gave a speech in russia so he must have had some contacts before the election. >> dickerson: did anybody, though -- >> there has been no specific conversation about that particularly, no. >> dickerson: i just wondered, the president said nobody he knew of had any contact with the russians during the campaign and there was a report in the "washington post" mr. flynn did in fact talk to the russians during the campaign and i just wondered whether anybody had asked him, so as to not to send the president out with incorrect information. >> i never heard that and i never heard he had any other contacts before the election. i don't think the president has either. >> dickerson: all right, mr. priebus, we appreciate your time, thanks so much for being with us. >> thank you, john. >> dickerson: and we will be back in one minute. >>
8:44 am
>> dickerson: while the president hit the campaign
8:45 am
trail, vice president pence attended the munich security conference, where he reassured allies that they could rely on the trump administration. >> the united states of america strongly supports nato and will be unwavering in our commitment to this transatlantic alliance. [ applause ]. >> dickerson: a number of high ranking u.s. officials also attended the conference, including south carolina senator lindsey gram. we spoke with him earlier from munich. >> senator, you were there with foreign leaders from all over europe. what is their view of the trump administration? >> i think they feel better after vice president pence spoke, and general mattox, america first has been a little hard to understand, a lot of people believe it is going back to the 20 or 30 it is isolation where america sort of retreats from the region. vice president pence's speech was terrific, we are going to be more involved in nato, not less. we are going have more troops supporting our friends in europe
8:46 am
against aggression by russia. there seems, the theme america first is not withdrawing from nato or the world but asking our partners to do more and they should. >> dickerson: the defense minister of estonia where you were in december and which feels some pressure from russia says russia has become more aggressive since the election. what is your sense of that? >> that is right. russia has interfered in every democracy in their backyard. they are coming after the french and the germans. they tried to interfere in our election, even though they didn't change the outcome, they did interfere. they hacked into the democratic national committee, podesta's e-mails were leaked to wikileaks, they were there to hurt clinton, the bottom line is now to punish russia. >> dickerson: in the press conference president trump was given all of the things russia has done recently to provoke the united states, there is a russian trawler 30 miles off of norfolk, he said he wasn't going to say what his response would be. what was your response to his
8:47 am
posture with respect to russia and those recent provocations? >> i can understand why he may not want to show his hands but let me say this. if we forgive and forget about what russia did in our own election, it would invite more aggression by the chinese and, it could be republicans next time so congress is in a different place. i am leading the charge with senator mccain and others to pass a bill to sanction russia for enter fearing in the 2016 election, to hit them harder. i think it will pass with overwhelming bipartisan support and will be a symbol, a pushback to russia that if you keep doing this you are going to pay a heavy price and i hope the president will embrace this. >> dickerson: on to the domestic policy front there is a lot of issues coming up with replacement of obamacare and also comprehensive tax reform. when you look at this white house a month in, what is your assessment of the operations, the way things are running at
8:48 am
the white house so far and based on what is ahead? >> they have done some good things. the keystone pipe line, reviving the coal industry, the executive order rollout about the seven countries, extreme vetting did not go very well. they are going to fix that. general kelly was here, homeland security secretary, they are going to roll out a new executive order. the nsa is firing, firing of general flynn, these things happen but here is what i am feeling better about. the people around president trump, his cabinet is terrific in terms of quality, matt tucks, tillerson, general kelly, we need to get a good security advisor, reince priebus i have known for years he has a good relationship with the hill .. so he had a good team around him, they have stumbled but let's see what this year holds. the congress is stumbling. the republicans in the congress, we are all tied up in knots, the, we are talking about tax plan that won't get 10 votes in the senate so it is not just the
8:49 am
administration that has got problems. republicans in the house and senate have problems, and i hope to get our act together. >> dickerson: senator, what do you make of the president's comment that the press should be seen it is a enemy of the american people? >> the backbone of democracy is a free press and an independent judiciary a and they are worth fighting and dying for. the bottom line here is, america is not becoming a dictatorship, senator mccain was right to say that we need, as politicians, to understand the role of the press and jealous liguard it but i will say this to the american press corps. when it comes to trump, you are over the top, you are acting more like an opposition party. every president has had problems with the press. you need to do your job, but from a republican point of view, i think the coverage against president trump has been almost to the point of being hysterical and you all need to do some self evaluation, in my view, but the enemies of
8:50 am
democracy at the end of the day are not the press, it is russia, it is iran and radical islam but i think our friends in the press need to up their game because it really is hard to watch from a republican point of view. >> dickerson: and senator, you wanted to add something? >> yes. when it comes to russia, the one thing that bothers me most about president trump is he never seems to forcefully em face idea that russia's interference in our election in 2016 is something that should be punished. i am a republican, it happened to the democrats. it could happen to republicans next. when one party is attacked, all of us are attacked, and one thing i am looking for s'more forceful response from president trump when it comes to what russia did in our elections. >> dickerson:. >> putin is not a friend of democracy. george w. bush miscalculate who putin was, obama was weak and indecisive in the face of russian aggression, and my advice to president trump is
8:51 am
don't repeat obama's mistake and for god's sake don't empower russia, by forgiving them in terms of what they did in our election and if we don't hit them hard, you will be empowering russia. >> dickerson: thank you, senator. and we will be back in a moment. stay with us. .95 per trade? uhhh- and i was wondering if your brokerage offers some sort of guarantee? guarantee? where we can get our fees and commissions back if we're not happy. so can you offer me what schwab is offering? what's with all the questions? ask your broker if they're offering $6.95 online equity trades and a satisfaction guarantee. if you don't like their answer, ask again at schwab.
8:52 am
8:53 am
>> dickerson: and joining us now from his district in california, the chairman of the house intelligence committee, devin nunes, mr. chairman, let's start with these leaks that the president trump has been so angry about coming from all kinds of different places. help people understand the difference between a leak that is just kind of something that an administration doesn't want to see and a leak that is illegal or would be the subject of investigation as you have asked the fbi to investigate. >> well, there are three very specific leaks i have a big problem with. one is the transcript with the discussion that donald trump had with the mexican president. two is the conversation that he had with the australian prime
8:54 am
minister and then of course three is the leaking of mike flynn's name to the press shortly after the first of the year. these are all against the law, and you can't operate a government like this if you can't even have the president of the united states or his national security advisor able to have conversations in private with foreign leaders. >> dickerson: explain, mike flynn people heard his name so much in this conversation or conversations he had with the russian ambassador. give us a little more detail on why that bothers you. >> well, if this was picked up as incidental collection because perhaps they had a warrant on someone else, typically an american citizen wouldn't be unmasked. somebody decided to unmask that name, somebody within the either the department of justice or others within the administration. if that happened, why did that happen? with what would be the purpose of unmasking an american citizen's name in this case at the time he was a private citizen. so if his name was unmasked
8:55 am
somebody made that decision and we need to know who made that decision. did they really use a 1799 law called the logan act as the reason for unmasking his name? if that is the case, we have bigger problems in this country than what we even realize. >> dickerson: why do you think these leaks, the one you just described and others, where do you think they are coming from? and why? >> well, this is why i think that the fbi and others need to investigate this, because the number of people that would actually have known that mike flynn, general flynn, who was the national security advisor designee was having conversations with the russians had to be very, very small number, and it had to be the highest, at the highest levels of the obama administration. >> dickerson: and mr. chairman, what do you think, does that say anything about the relationship between the intelligence communities where this leak and other leaks may have come from and president
8:56 am
trump? >> well, let's get this straight what we are talking about with the intelligence agencies because i think there is a lot of innuendo out there that the intelligence agencies have a problem with donald trump. the rank and file people that are out doing jobs across the world, there difficult places, they don't pay attention to what is going on in washington. that we have is we do have people in the last administration, people who are burrowed in, perhaps all throughout the government, who clearly are leaking to the press. and it is against the law, major laws have been broken. if you believe the "washington post" story that said there were nine people who said this, these are nine people who broke the law. >> dickerson: all right, mr. chairman we are going to take a break and we will come back with you, so nobody go away and we will be right back. >> i got it. hashtag "mouthbreather." yep. we've got a mouthbreather. well, just put on a breathe right strip and ...
8:57 am
pow! it instantly opens your nose up to 38% more than cold medicine alone. so you can breathe ... and sleep. shut your mouth and say goodnight mouthbreathers. breathe right. withevery late night...g... and moment away... with every and paycheck... you've earned your medicare. it was a deal that was made long ago, and aarp believes it should be honored. thankfully, president trump does too. "i am going to protect and save your social security and your medicare. you made a deal a long time ago." now, it's congress' turn. tell them to protect medicare.
8:58 am
people would ask me that we traveled,ntries what is your nationality and i would always answer hispanic. so when i got my ancestry dna results it was a shocker. i'm from all nations. it puts a hunger in your heart to want to know more. >> dickerson: our, some stations are leaving us now but we will be right back with more "face the nation". stay with us.
8:59 am
my name is jamir dixon and i'm a locate and mark fieldman for pg&e. most people in the community recognize the blue trucks as pg&e. my truck is something new... it's an 811 truck. when you call 811, i come out to your house and i mark out our gas lines and our electric lines to make sure that you don't hit them when you're digging. 811 is a free service. i'm passionate about it because every time i go on the street i think about my own kids. they're the reason that i want to protect our community and our environment, and if me driving a that truck means that somebody gets to
9:00 am
go home safer, then i'll drive it every day of the week. together, we're building a better california. cowboy it's a bull riding day on the biggest stage in texas. this is the very essence of this sport. eight seconds. you ride eight, you advance. want to talk bragging rights? when this event and see what it does for your career. >> last year's iron cowboy rookie. >> your confidence, it's a chance to have your name remembered forever. >> mauney is your iron cowboy. >> there's over $100,000 on the line. every second is critical. every ride is survival. it's the pbr second