Full transcript of “Face the Nation” on April 10, 2022

Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on April 10, 2022 thumbnail

On this “Face the Nation” broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:

  • National security adviser Jake Sullivan
  • Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova
  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb
  • Loretta Mester, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
  • Jeh Johnson, former homeland security secretary

Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”  


MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan in Washington.

And this week on Face the Nation: Russian forces have regrouped and intensified their brutal assault on Eastern Ukraine. Our Scott Pelley spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for 60 Minutes. We will have a preview.

(Begin VT)

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY (Ukrainian President) (through translator): We think this will be a new wave of this war. We don’t know how much Russian weaponry there will be, but we understand there will be many times more than there is now.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: What more can the U.S. do to help? We will talk with White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova.

Then, we will check in on the news here at home. Is there a spring surge of COVID under way? We will ask former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

We will talk to Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester about COVID and the conflict adding to soaring prices at home.

Finally, Obama Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson weighs in on the growing crisis at the southern border after the Biden administration plans to lift a pandemic era policy that limits asylum seekers. Are we ready for a massive increase of migrants?

It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.

We are 46 days into this devastating war in Ukraine, and the number of attacks and atrocities continues to mount. Russian forces have retreated from the north, but have dramatically stepped up their advancement in the east.

We begin today with Debora Patta reporting from Kyiv.

And we want to warn viewers, some of the pictures you are about to see are disturbing.

(Begin VT)

DEBORA PATTA (voice-over): From land, sea and air, the Donbass region has already been pummeled relentlessly since the war began over six weeks ago.

There’s not much that hasn’t been reduced to rubble in cities like Mariupol, where the nearly 100,000 people still trapped inside are enduring what one resident described as misery worse than hell.

And now new satellite imagery shows a massive eight-mile Russian convoy of hundreds of armored vehicles moving steadily south towards the eastern front line with a new battlefield commander at the helm, General Aleksandr Dvornikov, accused of ordering strikes that flattened civilian neighborhoods in Syria.

Ukrainian officials are urging residents to get out of there, even though it means risking a journey fraught with danger. On Friday, more than 50 civilians, including children, were killed in a missile attack on a train station where they were heeding official warnings to flee.

In the capital, things could not look more different.

BORIS JOHNSON (British Prime Minister): Hi there. How do you do?

MAN: Yes. Yes.

DEBORA PATTA: Unthinkable a few weeks ago, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy walking the deserted streets during a surprise visit with the U.K.’s Boris Johnson, who brought promises of more military aid and more outrage.

PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON: What Putin has done in places like Bucha and in Irpin, his war crimes have permanently polluted his reputation.

DEBORA PATTA: But the liberation of areas near Kyiv has been muted by the growing list of Russian atrocities, from the roads in Bucha littered with bodies to the mass graves filled with executed civilians.

The hot line set up to report war crimes has been overwhelmed, more than 15,000 calls a day, says Ukraine’s human rights chief, Lyudmila Denisova.

(LYUDMILA DENISOVA SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

DEBORA PATTA: “One cannot imagine that something like this can happen in the 21st century,” she told us.

She’s determined to collect enough evidence to go straight to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

(End VT)

DEBORA PATTA: Yet another mass grave containing at least 130 bodies has been discovered near Kyiv, but it’s not going to be easy to prosecute Vladimir Putin for war crimes.

He pulled out of the International Criminal Court in 2016 — Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Debora Patta in Kyiv, thank you.

Scott Pelley sat down with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Zelenskyy’s office in Kyiv for tonight’s 60 Minutes.

(Begin VT)

SCOTT PELLEY: What are you expecting now in the east and the south?

ZELENSKYY (through translator): We think this will be a new wave of this war. We don’t know how much Russian weaponry there will be, but we understand there will be many times more than there is now. All depends on how fast we will be helped by the United States.

To be honest, whether we will be able to survive depends on this. I have 100 percent confidence in our people and in our armed forces, but, unfortunately, I don’t have the confidence that we will be receiving everything we need.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Scott’s interview with President Zelenskyy will air on tonight 60 Minutes.

We go now to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Good morning to you, Jake.

JAKE SULLIVAN (U.S. National Security Adviser): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Vladimir Putin reportedly tapped a new central war commander for Ukraine, same general who oversaw a very brutal campaign in Syria, where they bombed hospitals, killed civilians.

Is this a signal that this is the type of scorched-earth warfare that we need to expect?

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: Well, Margaret, I think it’s actually just consistent with the way that Russia has conducted this war from the beginning. We’ve seen scorched-earth warfare already.

We’ve seen atrocities and war crimes and mass killings and horrifying and shocking images from towns like Bucha and the rocket attack on Kramatorsk. So, I think this is an indication that we will see more of that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson said a few days ago that Russia has suffered significant losses of troops. But you say Russia still has forces it can use to outnumber Ukraine.

Do you assess that Ukraine can win more than just the capital of Kyiv?

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: Well, first, let’s pause there for a moment, because it is a remarkable thing that the Ukrainians won the battle of Kiev. Russia lost the battle of Kyiv.

Kyiv still stands. The capital city of Ukraine was subject to an attack, as its invading neighbor tried to conquer Kiev. And Russia failed. And they failed chiefly because of the bravery and skill of the Ukrainian armed forces. But they also failed because the United States and our partners put in the hands of those armed forces advanced weapons that helped beat back the Russians.

And so we were proud to be able to support the Ukrainians in that. Now the Russians are regrouping, they’re refitting, and they’re refocusing. And they’re refocusing out in the east, where they will try to make progress.

MARGARET BRENNAN: European leaders are walking around the city of Kyiv. They’re sending back diplomats, reopening embassies.

When are the Americans going to go back?

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: Well, we’re working through when we will be in a position to set our diplomatic presence back up in Kyiv. That’s a judgment that gets worked through our security professionals. They are actively doing that.

In the meantime, though, Margaret, the United States is surging resources, weapons, military equipment, but also diplomatic resources to support the Ukrainians. It was President Biden in the United States that took the lead at the United Nations last week, for example, to kick the Russians out of the Human Rights Council, rallying the world to do that.

It is the United States that is taking the lead in organizing and delivering not just our own military supplies, but those of allies and partners. So we’ll keep doing that, even as we work on getting American diplomats back into the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, Jake, you’re referring to a more muscular level of support, it sounds like. Does that mean the United States and President Biden have now authorized sending the kind of weapons that could be used to strike inside of Russia? And are you authorizing training of Ukrainian forces?

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: So, first, our focus is on helping the Ukrainians defend their territory in Ukraine and take territory back in Ukraine, territory that they have taken back, for example, in the north and the northeast of the country. And we want to set them up to be able to do the same in other places as well.

Second, when it comes to the issue of training, the U.S. is looking at systems that would require some training for the Ukrainians. We’re also looking to source weapons systems from allies and partners that the Ukrainians already know how to use.

A good example of that is the S-300 air defense system that Slovakia sent this week.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: The reason they sent it is because the United States was willing to provide a Patriot battery to replace that system.

So, a lot of this is about getting our allies and partners, who have other types of military equipment that is better suited to what the Ukrainians need, actually deliver it. And we are helping them do so.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, what are the bits of equipment you’re talking about now?

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: This week, Chairman Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I spent two hours on the phone with the Ukrainian armed forces commander and President Zelenskyy’s top adviser.

And we went through every single one of their requests priority by priority and worked through a game plan for how, either from our stocks or from the stocks of our allies and partners, we could get those to the Ukrainians. That’s what we’re in the process of doing. Some of that’s been delivered, some of it’s on the way, and some of it we’re still working to source.

But that’s the kind of level of effort that the United States is putting into this…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: … not just on our own behalf, but leading a coalition of countries to deliver for the Ukrainians.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jake, I want to play for you something that President Biden said just after Russia invaded.

(Begin VT)

JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): No one expected the sanctions to prevent anything from happening. It has to show — this is going to take time. They are profound sanctions. Let’s have a conversation in another month or so to see if they’re working.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re now past, well past a month. Do you think that President Putin just doesn’t understand the profound impact on his economy? Does he not feel it, or does he just not care?

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: Well, first, Russia has changed its behavior in this war. They have retreated. They have pulled back from substantial portions of territory in Northern and Northeastern Ukraine.

So, they have had to make adjustments.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because of what’s happening on the battlefield.

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: Now, chiefly, chiefly, the reason that they’ve made those adjustments is because they were beaten on the battlefield.

But, as you heard from Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson, just a couple of days ago at the podium, they’re also acknowledging major battlefield losses publicly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: And President Putin himself is acknowledging the pain on the Russian economy. He himself has spoken about the extent to which the Russian economy has gotten hit. And other senior Kremlin officials have been forced to acknowledge that as well.

In addition, as President Biden has said repeatedly, the goal of these sanctions, in part, is to impose costs on Russia, to make it harder for them to fuel their war machine and, over time, to grind down Russian power and capacity.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: And, yes, as President Biden said, that will take time. But we will continue to squeeze Russia, to impose costs on Russia. And we believe that, as those costs mount, they will, in fact, improve Ukraine’s position at the bargaining table and make an outcome of this war that Ukraine wants to see more likely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

But, Jake, what you’re laying out is a very slow bleed of the Ukrainian people. And what we are hearing from President Zelenskyy on this program last Sunday was an attempt to exterminate. Genocide was the word he used. At the U.N. this week, he talked about camps being set up. He said 2,000 children have gone missing, abducted by Russia.

This kind of intent, this kind of planning, it is hard for a lot of people to stomach that the United States doesn’t have more of a direct responsibility to protect. For a president who ran on human rights, how do you justify that?

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: We do have a direct responsibility. It’s a responsibility to supply the Ukrainians with the tools they need to be able to defend their cities and push back against the Russians.

And we have done that at unprecedented scope, scale and speed, and it has had a profound effect. The victory in the battle for Kyiv, the liberation of cities and towns in Ukraine, the resistance of the Ukrainians against Russian advances in the east, they are, as I said before, chiefly about Ukrainian bravery and skill, but they would not be possible without the supply of weapons, and the generosity of the American people, and the leadership of President Biden in rallying the world.

And those sanctions that are imposing severe costs on the Russian economy, they will have an effect.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jake Sullivan, thank you for your time today.

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: we turn now to our national security correspondent, David Martin.

David, good to have you back here.

I know you have been looking into these alleged war crimes. I can think of at least one current and one former world leader still living, war crimes charges against him, unlikely to ever face trial. I imagine same story for Vladimir Putin.

DAVID MARTIN: Well, that’s probably the most likely scenario.

But I talked to the State Department official who’s in charge of assembling all this evidence. And she says that, because Putin is so clearly all- powerful in Moscow, it’s relatively easy to make a war crimes case against him.

You don’t have to come up with some smoking gun order: I, Vladimir Putin, direct you to kill civilians.

All you have to do is show that he knew what was happening and did nothing to stop it. So, she flatly predicted that he will be indicted as a war criminal. Taking him into custody is obviously another problem.

But if an arrest warrant is issued for him, he becomes an international fugitive, and he cannot travel to any country that recognizes the validity of that arrest warrant. So, at the very least, he could be confined to Russia for the rest of his life.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Recognizes the validity, key phrase there, David.

I want to ask you, though, about what we just heard from Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser. He talked about that two-hour phone call with Chairman Milley laying out more equipment and training for Ukrainian forces.

What do they need to actually win the fight?

DAVID MARTIN: Well, the training he’s talking about, at least that I know of, is on these Switchblade loitering drones that they are now sending by the hundreds, and another drone called the Puma.

Those are relatively quick training courses, two days, and you can learn how to operate it. If you’re talking about an M1 Abrams tank, that’s just not a quick fix to the — what they are facing.

Now, you said, when? When is a big word. If when means force the Russians to retreat and surrender, that’s probably not going to happen, and it’s probably not a good idea. Vladimir Putin made a colossal blunder, but he’s still got thousands of nuclear weapons, and you don’t want to put him in a corner and order him to come out with his hands up, for fear that he will become desperate enough to resort in some way to some limited use of nuclear weapons.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you fight to a stalemate to get to the negotiating table?

DAVID MARTIN: Well, it’s more than just a stalemate, because this battle that’s shaping up in the east, what the Russian army is essentially trying to do is cut off the Ukrainian army, and then kill it. And if it can do that, then the rest of the country is open.

Now, I think Vladimir Putin learned the hard way that he does not have enough troops to occupy the entire country. But the further he can advance, the stronger his hand at whatever negotiating table he ends up at.

MARGARET BRENNAN: David Martin, thank you, as always, for your reporting and analysis.

And Face the Nation will be back in just a minute, so stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we are back with Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova.

Welcome back to Face the Nation.

OKSANA MARKAROVA (Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States): Good morning to all.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ambassador, we just heard from Jake Sullivan all of the equipment that the U.S. is considering giving and training, he said, to Ukrainian forces.

What specifically do you need now?

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, we work now on a daily basis with our colleagues here.

And I have to say that there is progress. And I will not, of course, disclose the specifics of what we are working on. I would rather surprise Russians on the battlefield with it. But I think there is an understanding that, after the battle of Kyiv, we really have to win this battle of Donbass and we have to win this war.

And we need all the equipment, all the firepower, all the anti-air in order to be able to do so.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There has already been eight years of fighting in the east before this full-scale invasion.

So, when you are looking at the full force of the Russian military bearing down on this region, exactly what are you preparing for? What are you telling Ukrainians to prepare for?

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, we’ve seen this, as you rightfully pointed.

I mean, we have we have been saying for eight years — and we’ve seen these atrocities and we’ve seen these horrible attacks in the east, in Donetsk and Luhansk, when Russia occupied it illegally and attacked in 2014 and 2015.

Right now, we see that all these airstrikes that we see throughout Ukraine, we see in Mariupol, we see in Kharkiv, in Chernihiv, essentially destroying the cities from the air, but also the atrocities on the ground, which now every world sees, after we were able to liberate north of Kyiv.

So what we are preparing is for the massive attack in the east. Yes, the enemy, Russians, they are demotivated, they are war criminals, but there are so many of them. And they still have so much equipment. And it looks like they’re going to use all of it.

So, we are preparing for everything. We are preparing for securing the civilians. That’s why the oblast announced the safe evacuation of children and women. And we saw what happened in Kramatorsk, when Russia attacked that very evacuation effort in order to get as many civilians out from where we expect the intensified attack to be.

And, of course, our armed forces. I mean, the president, the commander in chief and all the armed forces, they are preparing for whatever Russia is going to do in order to be able to defend us.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Justice Department says it is working with your government on these alleged war crimes.

And we’ve heard President Zelenskyy say you have radio intercepts. You have people in custody who have shared information about what they were told to do. They had maps of civilian areas they were told to bomb.

So what happens to those rank-and-file soldiers? Do they face trial in Ukraine?

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, look, I know that lawyers have to say alleged. I can say war crimes, because we see them. We see them in real time. And we have all these witnesses on the ground.

We filed all the criminal charges in the International Court. We have the criminal cases opened in Ukraine, more than 4,000 of individual criminal cases already by the prosecutor general. We have 10 more countries that opened their own individual criminal prosecutions, and we are providing all the evidence to them.

So, yes, all of them will be prosecuted, both military commanders, personnel, people who did it on the ground, the people who ordered it, and ultimately, Putin.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s complicated, but the United States is not party to International Criminal Court fully.

So, exactly how does this play out? Where do you want these individuals to face trial?

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Everywhere.

There should be no place on Earth where they can hide. So, yes, we would like them to be tried in Ukraine. And we really hope that, after we win and after Ukraine is liberated, that we will have a tribunal. I think Ukraine and our people are entitled to a full-scale tribunal, but anywhere, anywhere where they can be prosecuted is fine.

The justice has to be there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The United Nations estimates hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been moved to Russia since the invasion began.

President Zelenskyy said 2,000 children were abducted. In his U.N. address, he said — made that claim. What evidence do you have of that? And do you know what is happening in these so-called camps?

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: We just put out an official resource called War Crimes Ukraine U.A.

And we have the updated information there that almost half-a-million people, more than 400,000, have been forcefully deported or relocated to Russia. Out of them, 91,000 are children.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What are happening — well, why?

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: We are trying to locate all of them and get as much information as possible.

We have already evidence and accounts that they’re taken to either some, temporarily, camps, that they are taking — that Russians are taking away their documents, that they are trying to relocate them somewhere else in Russia and ban them from moving back.

So, it’s, again, another horrific war crime. And the diplomatic corps are working day and night to essentially locate the people. Also, we have given publicly the numbers of the consulates that people can call wherever they are and tell us where they are, who they are, so we can see and locate them.

So we are collecting all the evidence on that and trying everything possible to get them home safely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ambassador, thank you for your time today.

And we’ll be back with more Face the Nation. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: A new CBS News poll out this morning shows that Americans continue to be supportive of U.S. efforts in Ukraine, with high support for sanctions, sending weapons and supplies, and also U.S. troops to protect NATO allies.

But just one in four would be in favor of sending U.S. troops directly into the conflict in Ukraine. That dynamic changes dramatically, though, if Russia were to attack NATO allies or use nuclear or chemical weapons. It’s different.

We will be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation, former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb standing by.

Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.

We turn now to the Covid pandemic and the uptick in cases in some parts of the country.

We go now to former FDA commissioner and Pfizer board member, Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

Good morning to you, Doctor.

I mean the numbers, compared to where we were, obviously, this is a dramatic improvement, but still 600 deaths a day. Here on the East Coast, we’ve had so many high-profile infections, the attorney general, the speaker of the House, the CIA director, the commerce secretary. How do you characterize where we are right now?

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: Well, look, cases around the country are coming down. We have about 9 cases per 100,000 people per day. So, prevalence is low. There’s no question that we’re experiencing an outbreak here in the northeast, also the mid-Atlantic, parts of Florida as well, which tends to track the northeast. It’s driven largely by Ba-2. And I think that we’re dramatically undercounting cases. We’re probably only picking up one in seven or one in eight infections. So when we say there’s 30,000 infections a day, it’s probably closer to a quarter of a million infections a day. And they’re concentrated in the northeast right now. And that’s because a lot of people are testing at home, they’re not presenting for definitive PCR tests, so they’re not getting counted.

So, when you look at the northeast, for example, cases are up 89 percent over the last 14 days in Washington, D.C., they’re up 58 percent in New York City, up 65 percent in New Jersey. So, cases up in the northeast, the mid-Atlantic are going up. But the rest of the country looks pretty good right now. And I think the net — the net trajectory is that we’re likely to get through this Ba-2 wave. It’s likely to be regionalized. I don’t think it’s going to become a nationalized epidemic of Ba-2. And as we get further into the spring, we’re likely to see these case counts come down, even here in the northeast.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But from a practical perspective, when you say we’re dramatically under reporting COVID infections, the guidance to the public is, look at your local community infection level to make your own judgement. So, if we can’t trust the data at the local level, if the CDC is already saying, you know, things are looking great, how do I accurately judge what’s actually happening and when I need to put my mask back on?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yes, well, the CDC has shifted a lot of their measurement towards hospitalizations and away from actually looking at cases. And hospitalizations are low right now. There’s 15,000 people hospitalized. That’s the lowest point we’ve been at any point in this pandemic. And I suspect hospitalizations aren’t going to go up a lot, because a lot of the people who are getting infecting right now with Ba-2 are people who escaped the B.1 omicron wave and they escaped it in large measure because they were vaccinated, they were prudent, they took precautions, they tested.

And so the simple fact is that a lot of the people who are getting infected right now are people who are vigilant and they are more likely to take decisive action once they diagnose and infection, get treatments, things like that. So I don’t think hospitalization are going to tick up a whole lot.

In terms of knowing what your local prevalence is, it’s tough right now. I think you have to look at the state data, and you have to look at week over week increases and just assume that we’re only capturing a very small percentage of infections. So, if you see cases going up in your local community, that’s a pretty good indication that there’s more infection that what we’re measuring.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, there are a lot of unmasked, indoor events that are happening still here in the northeast, mid-Atlantic. Should the CDC change the definition of fully vaccinated to make sure it includes that booster dose? Does that make a difference?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: The booster dose clearly makes a difference, not only in reducing your risk of getting infected and spreading the infection, but even more so in reducing your risk of having a bad outcome.

I think we’re in this unusual period right now where we’re calling these boosters. We’re telling that people who are vulnerable to the infection to get a shot every six months, that’s effectively what we’re doing to make sure that they’ve up to date and have maximum protection. And we’re transitioning towards this probably becoming an annual vaccination starting this fall.

The problem has been that we’ve been in continuous waves of spread. And so to maintain people’s immunity, it’s required as this virus has evolved into these new, new variants, it’s requires a booster every six months. But I think the reality is that by the fall this will become an annual vaccine. And then the CDC’s going to talk about being up-to-date. Have you had your vaccine this season? I think they’re reluctant to pull the trigger on that right now because they’re uncertainly about what the recommendation is going to be in the fall. But it’s more than likely that there will be a recommendation for everyone to get another dose in the fall, and that will be the start of this becoming an annual vaccine, I believe.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Some of the CDC guidance, like close contact, still remains at the six feet of distance, 15 minutes of time. Is that actually close contact. I mean is shaking someone’s hand and kissing someone on the cheek advisable right now?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, that’s close contact, shaking someone’s hand and air kissing or hugging them is close contact.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Even if it’s less than 15 minutes?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, I mean, that’s the problem with the CDC guidance. The CDC guidance was always bizarre. It talked about 15 cumulative minutes, as if this is radiation exposure that you have an increased risk from cumulative exposure. This is binary. You either catch it or you don’t. And what the CDC is defining as a minimum standard for what they believe close contact is. But if you’re hugging someone, that certainly supersedes 15 minutes of being around someone within six feet. And so we just need to be practical about this. Close contact is what we — what we know close contact is.

With respect to the president, I hope he does well and doesn’t catch this. I do think he’s probably out of the woods from his exposure to the speaker of the House. But saying that that wasn’t close contact, where we have pictures of him hugging the speaker, that clearly was close contact. And I just think we need to be plain spoken and practical about how we describe these things.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I think people appreciate you being plain spoken. So, if you are here in an area where there is an uptick, do you send your unvaccinated child to school with a mask, and how long do those youngest children remain unvaccinated?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yes, look, I think that masks in very young kids has always been difficult because the young kids can’t wear medical masks, and they don’t wear masks well. And the cloth mask isn’t providing a lot of protection against this particular strain, which is probably an airborne virus.

I think if you have an adolescent child or an older child who can wear a mask well and you have access to KF-94 masks or KN-95 masks that are comfortable, or level three procedure masks and the child can wear it comfortably and it’s not interrupt — interrupting their school day, I think thinking about masking for a week or two when prevalence is high might be a prudent step to take.

Masks should be something that we look to when local prevalence is high. Something that we use for temporary periods of time. So you might want to think about it for a couple of week — period while the prevalence is high. I think things will come down in the northeast over the next two or three weeks. I think we’re going to see things come down sharply. But right now, prevalence is pretty high in the northeast and the mid-Atlanta.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we’re still waiting for May, at the earliest, for a kiddie vax?

SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think at the earliest. So the data should be out from Pfizer in April. Moderna has obviously released their data. FDA has a lot of familiarity with these data sets and so they could act quickly on them. Assuming the data comes out in April, as is expected, I think the agency could potentially act in May. My hunch is it will slip a little bit because the sense of urgency will have dissipated because infection levels will be relatively low as we get into the spring.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Dr. Gottlieb, thank you very much for your expertise.

We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: A new CBS poll shows a bit of a difference in how Americans are experiencing the economy. Although more than half of Americans say the local job market is good, almost two-thirds say the national economy is bad, as inflation and gas prices are seen as the biggest drags on the economy.

We want to welcome to the program the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Loretta Mester.

Good morning to you.

LORETTA MESTER, PRESIDENT, FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF CLEVELAND: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it is, of course, the Federal Reserve’s job to try to get this inflation under control. You’re one of the few people who actually gets a vote in setting those interest rates.

To be frank, it does seem the Fed was behind the curve on inflation. How do you make up for lost time and get it under control now?

LORETTA MESTER: Yes, so, you know, so we are very committed to maintaining our — and achieving our duel mandate goals of maximum employment and price stability, and we are taking actions. We have the process underway to remove accommodation and remove it — that emergency accommodation that was so needed at the start of the pandemic and throughout. Now we’re in the process of removing it so that we do get inflation under control, while at the same time maintaining a strong economy and the expansion and, you know, good labor market conditions.

So, that process has started. We raised the interest rate last — last meeting. And we said ongoing interest rate increases are on the table and in the cards. And we’ve also put out some information about how we are planning to reduce our balance sheet assets that we also bought in great quantities to support the economy during the pandemic.

So, that process is underway. And that will help to reduce excess demand, which is outpacing constraint supply and bring price pressures down.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Where do you see inflation by the end of the year?

LORETTA MESTER: Yes, so I think that it will take some time to get inflation down because, as you know, there’s other things going on in the economy that are adding the price increases, including the commodity price increases and energy price increases that are happening as well. So, I think inflation will remain above 2 percent this year and even next year, but the trajectory will be that it will be moving down.

MARGARET BRENNAN: For people on an everyday basis, how they experience the economy, you look at numbers like Moody’s put out where they said the average person will spend $1,300 more on gas this year if prices stay where they are. You’ve seen lawmakers and governors talk about things like holidays for gas taxes or cash relief. I know it’s fiscal policy, but when you hear things like that, are you afraid that this will add to inflation?

LORETTA MESTER: So, I do think we have to recognize that there are factors that are beyond monetary policy affecting the inflation numbers. But we have to do what we can do with our policy tools, as monetary policy makers, to make sure that those inflation and higher prices don’t become embedded in the economy. And that’s what we’re going to be doing with our monetary policy tools.

It’s no doubt that it’s very painful to have these high prices. I mean it’s even worse if you look at low-income consumers because they spend a greater portion of their consumption basket on the essentials, housing, you know, energy, food, and all of those prices have gone up at a higher inflation rate than just the average inflation rate. So, this is a serious problem and it’s a real painful problem for many in the country.

Wages are going up, so that’s a good thing, but for many families they’re not going up at the pace that inflation is going up.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

LORETTA MESTER: So, it’s very important that we get inflation under control, and that’s the biggest challenge right now for the U.S. economy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: the white house argues the true read of the economy is the strong jobs market. Do you believe employment is so strong, too strong to actually generate a recession?

LORETTA MESTER: So, I think, and I’m optimistic, that we’ll be able to remove monetary policy accommodation and maintain good labor market conditions and the expansion. And I believe that for a couple of reasons. One, underlying demand in the economy, if you look at consumption growth and you look at business investment is very strong. It’s not going to be as strong this year as it was last year. But last year the economy grew at 5.5 percent, which is well above a 2 percent trend.

But the other reason is because we are at emergency levels of accommodations. It’s very accommodative. So as we remove that monetary accommodation, right, we’re not saying that accommodation or monetary policy will be tight, we’re removing accommodation. And so, right, I think we can reduce that excess demand relative to supply without pushing the economy into a recession. So I’m pretty optimistic we can do this. It will be challenging, but I think we can do it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you think Goldman Sachs and Bank of America and Deutsche Bank are wrong when they talk about an increased risk of recession?

LORETTA MESTER: No, I think that certainly if you look at the risks, given what’s happening in the world and the economy, there is an increased risk. But I remain optimistic, and certainly my model (ph) forecast of what’s going to happen this year is that the expansion will continue.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There is so much going on in the world that can complicate the recovery of the economy, whether it’s Covid, whether it’s the war in Ukraine.

I want to ask you about what we are seeing happen right now in Shanghai, China. Twenty-five million people under lockdown. This is a financial hub for this country. Manufacturing hubs in that country also experiencing this.

When you see these zero Covid policies in China, do you look at that and you say, that means prices in America will just stay where they are or be pushed higher when — when there’s a Covid lockdown?

LORETTA MESTER: So, a couple of things. And certainly the lockdown in China is going to exacerbate the problems, what we have in supply chain. So that is putting upward pressure on prices. And certainly all the businesses that we talked to in my fourth (ph) district and elsewhere through the country are saying that, you know, we’ve pushed out when we think the supply chain issues are going to be resolved, right? So, not this year, now it’s next year. So that certainly adds upward pressure and that’s something we have to be — consider when we’re looking at sort of developments on the ground.

But I do think that eventually some of those supply chain problems are going to come back down. And we’ve seen that over time, right? First it’s one — in one sector we have a supply chain, then that’s resolved. Businesses have been incredibly creative and resilient in terms of rejiggering their supply chains. It’s just — it’s a rolling problem and I think we have to just be aware that that will add upward pressure and keep prices higher for longer.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Loretta Mester, thank you for your insights today.

We’ll be back in a moment.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: As we enter peak migration season, the CDC is planning to lift Title 42. That’s a pandemic era policy that restricts asylum-seeking migrants, potentially causing a huge surge at the border. For more we turn to Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama.

Good morning to you.

JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When we hear from the administration that they could see as many as 18,000 migrants per day crossing that border, it seems incredible. Senate Democrats have said the administration is not prepared. Do you think they are?

JEH JOHNSON: Margaret, I’m told by DHS officials, the department I once ran, that they are making preparations, that they are prepared, that there are resources, transportation in place for this — this level of — of migration on our southern border. This — very — without a doubt, these are large numbers. DHS, I believe, has learned lessons from the past, in surges in the past, including when I was in office. But, still, numbers at these levels are difficult to handle on the southern border. Communities on the southern border, catholic charities, the volunteers, difficult to absorb these types of numbers under almost any scenario. It’s challenging for the Border Patrol, for ICE to properly process and track these individuals. And, obviously, the Biden administration is paying a political cost for these.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

JEH JOHNSON: So, my recommendation would be that — and I know President Biden believes this — we have to address the underlying causes in Central America for these types of surges.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

JEH JOHNSON: And I was pleased that in this year’s budget proposal there’s a billion dollars to try to address this.

We began this in the Obama administration, and we need to keep at it through successive administrations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. And that’s a long-term solution. But, I mean, when it comes to how the Biden administration planned for this, this pandemic era restriction Title 42, it’s getting peeled back May 23rd. It coincides with the peak migration season.

Why wasn’t there any coordination within the administration to maybe, I don’t know, push it a few months?

JEH JOHNSON: Well, Margaret, I’m no long at the table, I’m no longer in the situation room, part of these discussions. In terms of —

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you would have tried to coordinate it, wouldn’t you?

JEH JOHNSON: Well, I would have argued that — first of all, there, obviously, is a recognition that this was an extraordinary authority, it’s a public health authority in the event of a communicable disease. It had to end sometime. The courts were becoming increasingly skeptical.

I would have argued that we should keep it in place just a little while longer, until perhaps July, when these numbers do tend to slow down in the hotter weather. You’re correct that March, April, May tend to be the peak seasons for migration on our southern border. And so DHS will have a challenge. And I heard the current secretary the other day say at present they have something like 7,000 a day. That’s a — that’s a high number.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You mentioned the political problem this has caused for the administration. There’s a bipartisan group of senators now trying to delay the administration’s plan to lift this by about 60 days until after the surgeon general rescinds the Covid public health emergency. Does this sound like a reasonable compromise? Is this something you would endorse?

JEH JOHNSON: Well, Margaret, legally, I don’t know that a compromise is achievable. Section 265 of Title 42 is a CDC authority. It’s up to the CDC to invoke it or suspend it. That’s the way the law reads. So, if in the judgment of the CDC director the public health authority should — this extraordinary authority should be lifted, that is — that is her prerogative, hopefully in consultation in the inner agency process with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that DGS is ready to handle these numbers. Again, I would have argued that we keep it in place just a little longer, through the summer, until the numbers tend to trail off.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Should there be vaccination at the border that is mandated? I mean foreign travelers to the United States who land at an airport have to show proof of it.

JEH JOHNSON: I think that is something that should be considered. There are, obviously, huge challenges to trying to achieve that with this volume of people. But it’s something that should be considered.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You mentioned going back to addressing root causes. Both President Biden and Vice President Harris, last year, also publicly called for migration to slow. I want to play for you what they said in 2021.

(BEGIN VC)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Do you have to say quite clearly, don’t come?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I can say quite clearly, don’t come.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do not come.

(END VC)

MARGARET BRENNAN: So why haven’t we heard anything like that now? Is it because the administration took so much heat from progressive Democrats?

JEH JOHNSON: Margaret, I can only tell you about my own experience dealing with this very, very difficult issue. I have learned that you have to repeat a message dozens and dozens of times before people actually do begin to hear it.

The longer-term lesson, however, is that migration is a market sensitive phenomenon. It reacts sharply to news in the information marketplace about enhanced enforcement, decreased enforcement on our southern border. We can repeat these messages over and over again, and we should. But, as long as the underlying conditions exist, the poverty, violence in Central America exists, the numbers are going to always revert back to their longer-term trend lines. There is no level of defense that can counteract the powerful push factors in Central America. That’s something that I know President Biden believes in. We discussed it extensively when he was vice president and I was secretary of Homeland Security.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Secretary Jeh Johnson, good to have you back on the program.

We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Supreme Court now looks more like America. This October four women, one of them a Latina, and now, for the first time, a black female justice, will sit on the nine-person Supreme Court. Friday, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson marked her historic confirmation with an emotional speech.

(BEGIN VC)

JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: It has taken 232 years, but we’ve made it. We’ve made it. All of us. All of us.

In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States.

(END VC)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Following the announcement of the vote Thursday, there was a stunning response on the Senate floor that reflects just how partisan politics has gotten.

Democrats cheered as the Republican side of the chamber emptied out. Mitt Romney was one of only three Republicans to support Judge Jackson’s nomination.

And that is it for today. Thank you all for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

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