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tv   Face the Nation  CBS  December 2, 2019 2:30am-3:00am PST

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>> dickerson: welcome back to "face the nation". we continue with our conversation with david rubenstein. >> you have had success in the public sector, private sector, philanthropy, let's say you were thrust in the job as president what do you think the hardest part of the job would be? >> i would want to surround myself with people who i thought had experience, who had the right motivations, were coming to public service because they wanted to help the country and not for any other purpose. i would want to make sure i recognize that members of congress are equal branch of government, and would work cooperatively with them. also want to recognize that the judiciary is also an equal branch of government and what it says also is a very important in terms of how the government is to be governed. but also, the most important
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thing is persuading people to do things that you think are the right thing to do and you have persuade people by being honest with them, being forthright with them, bringing them along in a way that i think makes people feel they are getting something from the negotiation. a good negotiation is one where both sides feel like they are getting something and not completely happy with it but getting something out of it. >> dickerson: how do you think donald trump has done on that front? well, i think it is very difficult to judge a president this early, to be honest. i think most historians would say give me 40 years after the presidency to evaluate whether the person has done a good or bad job. >> dickerson: given what you know about the presidency, when you hear it talked about in presidential campaigns is there a part of that conversation that you say, you know,, this is nice, but it is really not what the job is? >> well, when you are running for president of the united states, your job is to get elected to some extent and do so in a reasonably honorable way, you can say things that are ridiculous i think but in a reasonably honorable way but you have to recognize that what people say in a campaign rarely
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can get implement sod easily. so if you say i want to have a certain type of tax, i want to change the law this way, it is not that easy to do, you have to deal with congress and so i think it would be a good idea if people were to .. propose things that are realistically possible, and not to ignore the impossibility of doing something great, but sometimes you have to have bold ideas, and bold ideas are good, but sometimes some things are just not going to happen and you can get people excited about the prospect of it and you are really going to disappoint people. >> dickerson: if you could give the american story to every presidential candidate what lesson would you hope they could draw from? from it? >> i would say learn more about american history, learn about the things we have done right and wrong in the past. do not think you have the sole knowledge of what the right thing to do, is and bring other people into the equation. make sure you bring in to the -- to your 0 proposals about what t your administration, if you are elected people that have a sense of history.
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very often many of our presidents have met with historians because they want to learn what previous presidents did. i think that's a good thing and i think learning what our previous presidents did, the good and bad is a good way to learn how to be a good president. >> dickerson: rubenstein's book was published by simon & schuster, a division of the cbs corporation. the full interview is on our website we will be back in ♪ this museum of fun was not a great call. ♪ ♪ should have gone to jack, they've got it all. ♪
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head to jack in the box and experience the joy of missing out with my $3 mini munchies. get 'em delivered with doordash. ♪ only at jack in the box! when you humble yourself under the mighty hand of god, in due time he will exalt you. hi, i'm joel osteen. i'm excited about being with you every week. i hope you'll tune in. you'll be inspired, you'll be encouraged. i'm looking forward to seeing you right here. you are fully loaded and completely equipped for the race that's been designed for you. >> dickerson: we turn now to a
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conversation with four authors whose books focus on presidents and patriotism in politics. ruth marcus is the author of a new book that looks at one party's notification control the supreme court. supreme ambition, brett kavanaugh and the conservative takeover. michael duffy is the coauthor of the presidents club, inside the world's most exclusive fraternity. susan page is the author of the matriarch, barbara bush and the making of an american dynasty and the upcoming madam speaker, nancy pelosi and the arc of power. our final panelist, jon meacham joins us from nashville, his latest book is the soul of america, the battle for our better angels. it examines national divisions, at critical times in our history. jon, i am going start with you, you wrote recently that this impeachment question tells us something larger, it is not just about a president, it tells us something about the country. so what are the stakes right now? >> moments of enormous
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existential crisis over the direction of the country. andrew johnson and the verdict of the civil war, where are, were we really going to act on the immr. i indications to victory of the union victory at appomattox. president nixon was coming with vietnam, and the questions about the nathan of the country. in many ways, in fact, i think we can think of the modern founding of the country as 1964, '65 with the civil rights act. we only have governed this particular policy for 60 years or so and vietnam and that era was a period of enormous tension. and the clinton era was in a way a precursor to this one, where we were returning to an 18th and 19th century system of partisan media. it was toom a battle over generational power, and now we face this wildly
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unconventional president who is actively and overtly putting all the norms that so many of us were accustomed to on trial. and so we have these forces in american life that are perennial, xenophobia, extremism, racism, nativism, isolationism, they ebb and they flow in american life, they always have and right now they are flowing, the task of the country is to get them to ebb. >> dickerson: and, ruth, what jon describes and sets the table for there nicely, it feels like we had a bit of a preview of what we are going to see with the impeachment hearing, which is what you write about with the brett kavanaugh confirmation, do you see those parallels? >> indeed. and i think they are disturbing els that mai ive the automatic and unrelenting partisanship of our time, that jon and others have referred to. republicans complain that we
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can't take impeachment now seriously because democrats were talking about impeaching the president even before he was sworn in. correct. republicans claim that we couldn't take the allegations against justice kavanaugh seriously because democrats were out to get him from the start and he is only, this these only arose at the last minute correct but the question is, were there serious allegations, are there serious allegations in the case of impeachment against the target of democratic ire, and are we capable of taking those allegations seriously or do we so automatically go to our corners that we are not capable of rising above partisanship? i think that is a really open and serious question. >> dickerson: michael, you wrote about, it is an extraordinary thing, bill clinton when he was going through this, called richard nixon. so the idea that two presidents across that period of time would have a conversation, i mean, you can't imagine donald trump calling bill clinton. >> clinton admired nixon's resilience, the fact he gutted
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it out, the famous quote from the clinton impeachment experience was, we will just have to win this. when it was clear he had done whatever he had done, we are just going to have to win this. and i think he looked to mix son and mix son's experience as a model because nixon fought right up until the time the smoking gun came out and then of course his party abandoned him. both men were survivors and both men fought like the dickens to hold on to power until, in nixon's case couldn't. one thing about that relationship, it would fall to clinton, of course, to eulogize nixon in 1994 when he finally died, 20 years after he leftovers. and clinton's famous at the market eulogy, may the days on judging nixon on just one bart of his life being brought to a close which of course was a benediction for him and all presidents. >> being him. >> dickerson: yes, he was making an appeal for the long sweeping view. >> for all of the presidents who would come afterwards. >> dickerson: susan, i will ask you about another part of this drama which is really instruct me as, during the testimony of the house
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intelligence committee, a lot of the witnesses kid not just start with the facts of the case. they, you know, in writing we talk about going up to 30,000 30,000 feet, they talked about the role america plays in the world and their immigrant background. what did you think of that? >> the impeachment hearings were a dispiriting ed soap, episode both because of the a allegations being made and the partisan response to them. but i thought it was inspirational to hear from these witnesses, career public servants who started by talking about their immigrant backgrounds. two of them immigrants, one of them the child of immigrants, families that had fled nazi germany, had fled the soviet union, had come here for greater economic opportunity, and lack of a class structure and they talked about how grateful they were to america for taking them in, giving them this opportunity and that was one reason they had chosen the path of service they had. i thought that was -- i thought
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that was the best moment. it was a reminder of what americans want to protect about our country, that seems often just so battered in these times. >> dickerson: right . in this room is not just the -- president but bedrock basic american values america is fighting over. jon, want to get your thoughts about the task before the house judiciary committee this week, which is to start looking at the constitution and what guidance it gives for this inquiry. what wisdom do you think that the document or that summer in philadelphia should give us in terms of thinking about this? >> the impeachment clause was added in part because george mason, a, of virginia argued that shall any man be above justice? that was the central question. and the question that the framers tried to argue and answer was that there had to be a check and a balance on the executive. the entire insight, remember, of the guiding insight of the
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constitution was that we would screw everything up, and we have done everything we can since then to prove them right. it is a fundamentally human mey sck insight we would be driven by appetite and driven by ambition, we were shaped by shortcoming and sin, and the therefore, sovereignty had to be divided, power could not be, all power could not be given to any one element in the republican 0 contract, so impeachment was a hugely important element there. the article is very short .. it is about treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors. the latter phrase comes from the english common law, and as gerald ford, famously remarked, a high crime and misdemeanor is whatever a majority of the house of representatives says it is at any given moment. and this generation, this groupe they going to use ruth's phrase,
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are they going to reflexively be partisan and interpret reality not as they see it but as they wished to see it? >> dickerson: ruth, one of the things that we still don't know what the actual position is, because you can say, well, there are those acts but they don't raise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, but the president is saying these acts weren't even bad in the first place. you have been studying the idea of originalism, the original public meaning of the constitution, does that give us any guidance here for how to interpret this moment? >> the guidance is very fraudian in the sense it is really a political question that is up to the political branch. but, yes, the framers were entirely worried about precisely the kind of event that we are talking about here, foreign influence, the misuse of presidential power for public gain and political advantage, rather than for the public good. if you were going to -- the question that i would have for republicans is, if this does not
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rise to the level of a high crime or misdemeanor or look a lot like the framers conception of bribery, what does? and the thing that i would say that gives me some concern here, i think facts are so serious that the house was really constitutionally obliged to launch an impeachment inquiry, but we have now gone through three of these in our lifetimes, and impeachment was supposed to be and it should be a breaking case of emergency inquiry, and now i worry that we will unleash it as just another political tool. >> dickerson: and michael it is happening in an election year which we haven't seen before. >> it is always in the past happened in a second term, or at least in our lifetime. so this allows the republicans to argue, somewhat justice guyably we are going to have an election in a year, wait and let the people decide and they are deploying that almost daily or hourly. that raises another thing about jon's test of madisonian democracy, we are -- depending on whether you are like us and have to drink it every day or you are just following along
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inform play can seem at times this is the worst the country ever faced but i suspect between a whole number of 1777, 1863, 1932, there have been other difficult times. what is different now is that in how we experience it, that we are -- we are self arming if for division because so much of the information we get is coming to us through our devices and those devices are weaponnized to sort of a alienate and divide us and that is a difference in -- certainly between this and the last impeachment and all of the ones that have come before. and i think this is the test that madisonian democracy, you know, we are meant to have our better angels work at all levels here, but at every turn, we are being fed information that is, divides us rather than brings us together and that is a real test of whether we can survive. >> dickerson: and we are self satisfying ourselves by ourselves. susan, michael just described the state of affairs. nancy pelosi didn't want to go down this impeachment road, felt like she had to. what is the state of the nancy
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pelosi view of the world as she tries to hold on to power at a time that we are in, in this volatile moment? >> this is very much what ma nancy pelosi predicted would happen when she was holding off some democratic instincts to impeach the president months ago, years ago, since soon after his election, which is it would be divisive for the country and you shouldn't go forward unless you can could get bipartisan support but then you ha had the artheukraine phone call come oud i think at that point she determined, she decided you had no option as the saying, if not this, what would be impeachable, had to go forward. she has tried to keep the focus narrowly on the ukraine matter g incredibly fast, the speed of this impeachment inquiry is really quite breath faking, breath taking with the idea we will see articles of impeachment perhaps this week 0 panned see a vote of the house before the end of the year, and then it goes to the sat and i think the instinct in the senate is also let's do this and get it off our plate. >> dickerson: michael, before we go, i want to ask you about
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the 2020 election. i don't know whether when i worked with you or somebody when we were back at "time" magazine said, every election is about one question, maybe they didn't say that but -- what is the question of this election? >> well, all elections are about, you know, hope or fear, and whether -- or about change and whether you hope for change or fear it. i think at the moment this is provisionally, whatever, whatever they think about impeachment in a year, given what amy said in the previous segment, this will be a referendum on donald trump, no question, and impeachment may play into that, both sides think it is going to help them. that's what is so interesting. the democrats think they have to push this through, and have this test and show they have done it in order to help build their support in their base, republicans i think increasingly think this will build our base as well and turn out the people who believe in donald trump. >> i think both parties think they hope it helps them. i think both parties fear it is going to hurt them. >> and i think at this point it is impossible to figure out exactly what the politics of this issue is going to be.
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>> dickerson: i mean, let me ask the final question to you, jon meacham, david rubi rubenstn suggested it takes 40 years before you can weigh in on a president. what is your view on that and we should let people know you weighed in on george herbert walker bush before that timeline. >> 45 -- michael our friend says 25 years so i am a beshlathian on that question. think they is the about right. 40 years is biblical, and so therefore we can be for it. but i think 25 at least worked for me. and i would say i if i may, president bush died a year ago yesterday, and when you think about however imperfect a man he was in life and politics, we all have our problems, but he really embodied a kind of public service that seems incredibly remote now. it is almost as though we are talking about agincourt, an
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american president that signed the disabilities act and managed the fall of the interlynn wall with such grace and restraint. and i think that when we think about that everything is cataclysmic and always at the edge of a cliff, 20 years ago we had a president that is almost unimaginable now until we put it we imagine it again, and so, you know, the first election we had in this country that was about the soul of america was 1,800, when thomas jefferson ran saying we needed a revolution to get back to 1776. so if they were talking that way then, it is not surprising that we are talking this way now. >> dickerson: all right, jon meacham, thank you so much. and thanks to all of you for being with us. we are going to ask ruth to stick around for a few more minutes and so you do that too. we will be right back. >>
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♪... ♪what you want, baby i got ♪what you need, you know i got it♪ ♪all i'm askin' is for a little respect♪ excuse me ma'am, would you like to have my seat? ♪r-e-s-p-e-c-t
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♪find out what it means to me♪ ♪r-e-s-p-e-c-t ♪take care. tcb, oh ♪(sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)♪ ♪a little respect helping out when things go standing up's right. seeking the truth, and speaking our minds. not just making records, but breaking them. leading the way behind the camera, beyond the runway. and on the silver screen. not just making our mark, but making a difference? now that is a job for a girl scout. girl scouts. preparing girls for a lifetime of leadership. >> dickerson: we are back with ruth marcus to talk more about her book, supreme ambition, brett kavanaugh and the conservative takeover. welcome back. >> thank you. >> dickerson: so some people may think of this as what they saw through their television with screen which were faces in a room with a bunch of senators,
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but you sketch a story of "titanic" forces in america. bring some of those forces in to the story to remind people of really all that is going on in this drama. >> sure. well as you say this is not -- everybody was trance fix ford a few weeks in the fall of 2018, but there is a story that stretches back decades, literally. this is a 30-years war on behalf of republicans and conservatives to finally cement the conservative majority on the supreme court. and that is the opportunity that they had with the resignation of justice anthony kennedy and with the knowledge nation of brett kavanaugh. and as the problems arose with the kavanaugh nomination, republicans rallied around him in part because of some of the forces of partisanship that we have been talking about previously, but also because this was their moment to finally achieve this goal of 30 years, and brett kavanaugh was too big to fail. they weren't going to allow him to do that. so what i tell in the book
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supreme ambition is the story of how everyone from the white house counsel who refused to take a phone call from the president, who was trying desperately to reach him, don mcgahn was worried the president was going to tell him to yank the kavanaugh whom nation, he didn't want to hear it from him. he didn't want to take a call from the most powerful man in the america. he told his deputy i don't talk to quitters. it is a story of how the fbi and senators, republican and democrat, refused to pursue leads that might have jeopardized the kavanaugh nomination, and it is the story of what the implications are of this no, ma'am haitian for our country, because long after we are done with impeachment and long after the 2020 election, donald trump's legacy is going to be -- the judges he put on the federal courts and on the supreme court and it is going to be the triumph of conservatives which explains why they have stuck with him for so long. >> dickerson: and that's a 30 to 40 year, depend tong lifespan of the judges, 30 to 40 year
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impact on american life, not four to eight a years of a presidency. >> no, it is a long time and donald trump has been going around in and boasting about how his judges are younger than obama judging, they are going to be around for a while. >> you just talked about an active and insubor made, insubor made there is when and when a staffer can and can't be insubordinate. he is perhaps you tell me, perhaps the most powerful and beneficial advisor the president has. maybe gotten elected without, wouldn't have gotten elected without him. >> right here in this very building at the jones day law firm, don mcgahn helped to orchestrate the thing that probably, among everything else, helped donald trump get elected president, which was creating a list of supreme court nominees, not a surprise to have a short list, hugely trumpian and never done before to have a list that was made public. guess who was not on that list? brett kavanaugh. >> dickerson: made public
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during the campaign? >> made public during the campaign and brett kavanaugh managed with the help of his friends, including justice kennedy to make his way on to that list, and with the help of don mcgahn, who was a fascinating figure, the most consequential white house counsel in history, both donald trump's greatest help in terms of helping to build the legacy, along with the senate majority leader mitch mcconnell that will outlast this president and that he will be proudest of in the long run, but also in the -- in the mueller investigation and we still see conversations about whether we will ever get his testimony on that, the president's greatest problem, because he testified and basically created the elements of the obstruction case against the president with mueller. >> dickerson: 15 seconds, the reason the list was so important, is it showed conservatives that donald trump was -- >> somebody who they could trust and to be taken seriously and that he would achie repuan pse him had not managed to achieve and
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had squandered ask. >> dickerson: mitch mcconnell t president. supreme ambition hey there, california residents on medicare. it may come as a surprise... but medicare doesn't pay for everything. so help bridge the gap with a medigap insurance plan, like an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan, insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company. medigap plans help pay some of what medicare doesn't, reducing your out-of-pocket costs. there are also zero networks and zero referrals needed. call or click now to connect with unitedhealthcare insurance company. find out about the range of aarp medicare supplement plans and rates available... the only plans of their kind endorsed by aarp. and here's something exciting that comes with being an insured member of an aarp medicare supplement plan. at your best by unitedhealthcare. an offering of wellness resources and more...
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>> dickerson: that's it for us today. thanks for watching and thank you to the jones day law firm for facilities here on capitol hill, margaret will be back next week for "face the nation", i am john dickerson. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh [piano playing slow tune]
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travel nightmare. a powerful winter storm is slamming the northeast. snow and ice are impacting millions on a busy holiday weekend. we're timing out the storm track. deadly crash. nine people were killed when a plane went down in south dakota. what we're now learning about the victims. shooting rampage. gunshots erupt near the french quarter. nearly a dozen people are shot. the mayor's message tonight to the city of new orleans. on the agenda, it's a busy week ahead in the impeachment inquiry. what the house has planned and the cine set forwh's threatenin in your wine? and how an ancient trade -- >> you can come here and you can


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