Full transcript of “Face the Nation,” June 16, 2024


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

  • House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Mike Turner, Republican of Ohio
  • Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, a Democrat 
  • Neel Kashkari, Minneapolis Federal Reserve president 
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates

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: The campaign ’24 roller coaster enters a new phase. And U.S. officials are also stepping up warnings of a terror attack here in the U.S.

President Biden spent most of his week thousands of miles away from home, conferring with G7 allies in Italy, including some FaceTime with Italy’s most famous resident, to a star-studded Hollywood fund-raiser with his former boss at his side, but overshadowing the president’s week, son Hunter’s conviction federal gun charges.

(Begin VT)

JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): I said I would abide by the jury decision. I will do that, and I will not pardon him.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Less than a month before his sentencing, Donald Trump took a trip to Capitol Hill, his first since the January 6 attack. He rallied Republicans and made amends with some of his frostier followers.

(Begin VT)

MAN (singing): Happy birthday.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: After a celebration of his 78th birthday, the former president spent the weekend in Michigan courting black voters. At a conservative gathering, he seized on new security threats to make his case for why he will keep the country safer.

(Begin VT)

DONALD TRUMP (Former President of the United States (R) and Current U.S. Presidential Candidate): ICE arrested not one, not two, but eight suspected terrorists. They’re pouring in at levels that nobody’s ever seen before, and we’re going to pay a big price. We got to get them out fast.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will ask the head of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Turner, about that plot and the urgent warnings by top officials that a terror attack could happen on U.S. soil.

(Begin VT)

CHRISTOPHER WRAY (FBI Director): I would be hard-pressed to think of a time when so many different threats to our public safety and national security were so elevated all at the same time.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Maryland Democratic Governor Wes Moore will also be here.

Plus, we will talk to the president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, Neel Kashkari, about the state of the economy.

Finally, a conversation with Bill Gates. He’s invested more than a billion dollars in his fortune in a nuclear energy company. We will ask him why he believes it’s a big part of America’s green energy future.

It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.

And we have a lot to get to this morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re going to begin with the Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Ohio Congressman Mike Turner.

Welcome back to Face the Nation.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER (R-Ohio): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Chair Turner, last week, as you know, there were federal immigration arrests of these eight individuals with suspected ties to ISIS. They were rounded up in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York.

They traveled from Central Asia, Tajikistan, across the southern border into the U.S. Do you have any indication that there is an act of terror plot?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: Well, Margaret – I’m – your – I can neither confirm nor deny all the details that you’ve just reported.

But what’s important about these reports and what we’re seeing, especially in conjunction with Director Wray’s public statements that we are at the highest level of a possible terrorist threat, that the administration’s policies have absolutely – you know, directly related to threats to Americans.

These are no longer speculative, no longer hypothetical. And we have actual administration officials stepping forward. And, certainly, our committee and our committee members have concurred on the intelligence that we’re seeing, that, as a result of the administration’s policies allowing people to cross the border unvetted, we have terrorists that are actively working inside the United States that are a threat to Americans.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the issue, as we understand it from our reporting, is that there was vetting, but that the vetting didn’t turn up any derogatory information.

Doesn’t that indicate that there’s a broader problem with the system that Congress would also have to address?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: Well, Margaret, as you know, there – there are those who are vetted and – and in the vetting process.

They – there is no evidence the United States currently has that they’re actively engaged in terrorist plotting or engaged with terrorist groups, organizations. And this administration, by their own policy, are then allowing those individuals in, instead of fully vetting them, fully understanding what the risk is to the United States, and for the fact that they’re letting them in, and there they are – they’re entering the United States through the southern border illegally.

And that’s what the threat is. That’s what Director Wray is identifying and is bringing forward. This administration’s policies are directly resulting in people who are in the United States illegally who have ties to terrorist groups and organizations, and this is a threat.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The U.S. has already been in a heightened threat environment.

But, this past week, our CBS colleague and the former Deputy CIA Director Mike Morell wrote a piece in “Foreign Affairs” warning that the United States faces a serious threat of terrorist attack in the months ahead.

He called on Congressional Intelligence Committees, like the one you chair, to have public hearings with the director of national intelligence, the CIA, the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center. Will you commit to doing that?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: Well, we have.

In fact, the testimony that you just played of Director Wray…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Public unclassified information from those individuals?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: The – the – the testimony that you just played of Director Wray was a result of the Intelligence Committees, including mine – Director Wray was testifying before my committee and said exactly the same thing publicly of the threat.

What we have done, and continue to do, and what this administration needs to be held to, is that they need to declassify the information of the terrorist threats that they’re seeing, so that there can be a public discourse concerning what the administration’s risk and threats are.

You know, this was notable and expected as a result of the Biden administration’s policy of an open southern border. And we are seeing it absolutely across the country. The – and my – my committee has been open, my members have been open…

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: … and publicly discussing this threat and pointing the finger directly at the administration’s policies.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, as you know, the administration points back at Congress, saying they asked for more authorities and Congress refused to act.

But I want to ask you about the Intelligence Committee. You’ve tried to keep it nonpartisan, as you’ve said on this program. Speaker Johnson, though, recently decided, as you know, to add two congressmen, Scott Perry and Dr. Ronny Jackson, to your committee, reportedly at the behest of Donald Trump.

One of your members, Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan, referred to Perry as a threat to intelligence oversight – quote – “He will be on the very committee that oversees the FBI while he is directly under investigation by this very agency.”

Do you think that is a disqualifying conflict of interest?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: Well, being concerned, obviously, about that issue, and being the chairman, I contacted the I.C. to see whether or not there was an issue that, you know, in due diligence from our committee, that we needed to – to resolve or address.

They indicated that there was not an – a – an ongoing or continuing issue or even a current issue that we needed to address.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The FBI told you that?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: The issue, I think, here that’s most important – the I.C. told us that.

I think what’s very important here is that the speaker makes this appointment and then what he’s done since. The speaker has absolutely committed himself to these two individuals following the rules, not only the laws. Both of them have military experience. Both of them have had access to classified information before.

And there’s been no reports of any incidences of their handling – mishandling of classified information. The speaker has met with our committee, Republican members. He has spoken directly to Jim Himes. We’ve had a meeting with Mr. Perry, myself and the speaker, where all of these assurances have been made.

But the speaker has said this, that he’s going to continue to monitor the situation, if there’s any indication of anything improper happening, that he will intervene. And I believe the speaker will assert leadership here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And withdraw that nomination potentially?

Well, look, I – Scott Perry has come out and took aim at you, as you know, because he said, if he gets on this committee, he’ll conduct “actual oversight, not blind obedience to some facets of our intelligence community.”

And he claimed they’re spying on the American people. How do you respond to that?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: Well, he has – he has apologized. And, certainly, those are – are the types of words that you would not want from somebody who’s joining a committee that is obviously very dedicated to national security and very dedicated to working in a bipartisan way.

I think that, upon him joining the committee, and looking at the work that both he gets to do and the work that we’re doing, that he’ll be absolutely satisfied that he can play a role to – in the work that we’re doing for national security.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, I – I understand you said you’ve – you received assurances about their ability to handle classified information that they’ll have access to.

But, as you know, Dr. Ronny Jackson was demoted by the Navy because a Pentagon inspector general report found that he had been taking sedatives while providing medical care to two U.S. presidents. That kind of compromising behavior would be disqualifying for most people when it comes to receiving a security clearance or having any access to the nation’s secrets.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: I’m aware of those reports.

I – as you have just indicated, though, they are unrelated to the handling of classified information. And, certainly, the individuals in his district believe that those issues are resolved. He presents himself to – to Congress with his military background.

And we’re going to be certainly working with the speaker and with Mr. Jackson so that – again, that he is a very productive member of our committee. And, if there are any incidences, the speaker has indicated that, as with Mr. Perry, that he will enforce our rules.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But there are – these seats could be filled by Republicans with national security backgrounds who don’t have these kinds of compromising situations over their heads.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: There certainly was a broad range of individuals who – who sought these seats.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You were with Donald Trump when he was on Capitol Hill this past week and he met with lawmakers.

Is it true, as Congressman Matt Gaetz claims, that Mr. Trump said “Ukrainians are never going to be there for us” and that he was trashing the Ukraine aid bill to Speaker Johnson’s face, which Gaetz said is – “so epic.”

Is that true? And did anyone push back?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: I don’t believe that the president – Trump did that. I was certainly present. He did raise issues of how the Ukraine issue is being handled.

I think there’s certainly enough criticism to go around the Ukrainians not being given the authority to use weapons inside Russia to hit targets that are hitting them. But I think, overall, what was important is that – that Trump was very focused on what his issues were as to why he was seeking the presidency and the changes in policies in the Biden administration.

Border was an issue. Energy was an issue. The economy, China and inflation were an issue, all ones where he had real, concrete things that the Biden administration did to reverse his policies that have resulted in negative consequences for our country that he intends to reverse back.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will see if he stands by Ukraine, then, if he is elected.

Chair Turner, thank you for your time.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: I believe he – I believe he will. And – and, certainly, the – of the members who are strongly supporting Ukraine…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: … we certainly believe that he will, and it certainly is essential.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Chair Turner, thank you for your time this morning.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we turn now to the Democratic governor of Maryland, Wes Moore. He joins us from Annapolis.

Happy Father’s Day.

GOVERNOR WES MOORE (D-Maryland): Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

Happy Father’s Day to everybody watching.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, this past week, you reopened the Port of Baltimore just three months after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

How long before full shipping traffic returns and you see that benefit to your economy?

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: Well, the benefit has already begun.

And – and I’m so inspired by the work that this state pulled off. I mean, we showed that, in Maryland, we do big things, because, that morning, I know people were saying this could take six, nine months up to a year to clear the federal channel.

And what many people said was going to take 11 months, we got it done in 11 weeks. And it’s because we worked together. And so the fact that the Port of Baltimore is reopened, the fact that the full federal channel, 700-feet- by-a-50-foot depth, is – now has full access is an extraordinary accomplishment.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the federal government has provided some support here too. I have read reports that the cost of rebuilding the bridge could be nearly $2 billion. Is that accurate?

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: You know, I can tell you, the – the Biden administration have been phenomenal partners.

So we know the estimated cost could be between $1.7 billion and $1.9 billion. And the reason that we are urging a – a federal cost share and a 100 percent cost share is just simply because we have to move quickly. And I need to get this done on time and on budget.

We know that, in order to move fast, we have got to get that 100 percent cost share. So we are spending time working with – with members of both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans, but to know that, if we can work together in this moment, we are going to get something really important for the American economy done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Congress would still need to sign off on that. And – and President Biden has pledged, as you just mentioned, to use federal dollars to rebuild.

But we are getting very close to an election. Do you believe that you will get that support and those funds appropriated before we see a possible change in administration?

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: I have been incredibly encouraged by the amount of support that we have received from both Democrats and Republicans. And I do feel confident we are going to get this done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about another tragic death in your state.

A Maryland mom named Rachel Morin was killed last August. And, yesterday, a suspect in her killing was arrested out in Oklahoma. He’s a 23-year-old from El Salvador. And Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said he had ties to a criminal gang and he had murdered another woman in El Salvador. Take a listen.

(Begin VT)

JEFFREY GAHLER (Harford County, Maryland, Sheriff): To 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and to every member in both chambers of Congress, we are 1,800 miles away here in Harford County. We are 1,800 miles away from the southern border, and the American citizens are not safe because of failed immigration policies.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know that sheriff is a Republican, Governor, but do you also hold the federal government partially responsible for the death of this Maryland resident?

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: My heart is – is broken for the Morin family, as is our entire state. She should still be here.

And the sheriff is absolutely right. I mean, we have an immigration policy that needed to have been dealt with, and was not. And the consequences then fall on us, as the chief executives of our states. The consequences fall on us as the leaders of our individualized jurisdictions. And – and we know that we have got to fix a broken immigration policy. And we know that we need Congress to act on this.

And this is why this was so unbelievably frustrating that, when you have a – a coalition that is a bipartisan coalition of both Democrats and Republicans that get literally right up to the line to be able to get a deal done, that because you had a – you had President Trump who said this was not advantageous politically, that the deal was killed.

There is an unbelievable frustration. And this is what people don’t like about politics. We have got to get this deal done. And we need Congress to act on it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president did take executive action recently to try to shut down the border through cutting off asylum claims, in effect.

I know the ACLU just filed a lawsuit to try to stop him. Do you agree with the president’s decision?

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: I agree with the executive action. I also just know it’s not going to be enough.

And this is not politics. Politics should not get in the way of public safety. And I know, for all of us who have to deal with the downstream impacts of broken policies, that we know that we need Congress to act on this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: On politics, I know you are a surrogate for President Biden and helping with his campaign.

You were in Philly with him recently as part of a strategy to shore up black voter support. According to our CBS polling, nationwide, President Biden is effectively tied with Donald Trump. But among black voters, Mr. Trump has 18 percent support. That’s twice the level he received in 2020.

So, why do you think that is ticking up?

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: Well, I do think there’s a – there’s a larger challenge that we’re seeing amongst African-Americans, and particularly African-American men, that’s – that’s an American problem.

And I think we have to understand the history of all this as well, that I’m the – I’m the governor of Maryland in a state that we have an eight-to-one racial wealth gap in the state of Maryland. And we know that’s not because one group works eight times harder. I know I’m – that I’m the governor of a – of a state where our largest city, Baltimore, is the home of redlining and historical redlining, where home appraisals and the values and the ability to purchase a home was based on racial lines.

And so these have been longstanding challenges and longstanding issues that, frankly, our country has not fully addressed. Now, it’s now – what I know that we’re seeing with President Biden is, we’re actually having plans, and not platitudes, to be able to address these issues.

So, when you’re looking at the president focusing on things like homeownership, where we have one of the fastest growing rates of homeownership that we have seen in the past 20 years, the fastest rate of black-owned businesses, and particularly for black men, that we have seen now in 30 years…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

GOVERNOR WES MOORE: … those are plans that are actually bearing fruit.

And these are the type of things that we have to be able to acknowledge.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, more to talk to you about, but we have to leave it there. Thank you for your time today.

Face the Nation will be back in one minute. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We got fresh signs that inflation in the U.S. is moderating.

Our Mark Strassmann has more.

(Begin VT)

MARK STRASSMANN (voice-over): Sure, inflation is cooling, but it still makes millions of Americans hot.

MAN #1: Everything is so much higher than it was two years ago, three years ago.

MARK STRASSMANN: Compared to one year ago, consumer prices were up 3.3 percent last month, still too high for the Federal Reserve and its 2 percent goal. The Fed left its benchmark interest rate intact last week.

JEROME POWELL (Federal Reserve Chairman): We have made good progress. And we’re just – we’re in the phase now of just, you know, sticking with it until we get it done.

MARK STRASSMANN: The Fed says one interest rate cut is likely by the end of the year, although the timing is unclear. That means borrowers may get little relief before November’s presidential elections.

Voters are feeling frustrations inflated with the economy.

MAN #2: I’m making more money now, but I’m more broke now than I was in 2020.

MARK STRASSMANN: In our latest CBS News poll, 72 percent of Americans say higher prices have been a hardship or difficult; 63 percent rate the economy as fairly bad or very bad.

WOMAN #1: Eggs, milk, bread, everything’s really high. So that is a big- ticket issue.

MARK STRASSMANN: She’s right. Food prices, up 1 percent over the last year, have surged about 20 percent since 2021. And people vent frustration with housing prices. Too few homes are for sale and mortgage rates hover around 7 percent.

WOMAN #2: And it’s a really big topic between my friends and I, even my family. Will we be able to buy a house?

MARK STRASSMANN: The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits reached its highest level in 10 months in the week ending June 8.

But the jobless rate is still relatively low and employers are still hiring, nearly three million jobs added over the last year. Wages are up, outpacing inflation, and wealthier families, feeling flush, keep spending. But the less you make, the more you feel it.

MAN #3: I just notice the increase in – in price on everything.

MARK STRASSMANN: Fed Chairman Powell hears the complaints.

CHAIRMAN JEROME POWELL: Inflation has come down really significantly, and we’re doing everything we can. We’re confident that we will get there.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That was Mark Strassmann reporting.

And we go now to the president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, Neel Kashkari, and he joins us from Minneapolis.

Neel, this past week, you all decided to keep interest rates where they are. But, in Canada, in Europe, they’re seeing promising signs of inflation, and they did cut. What more do you need to see?

NEEL KASHKARI (President, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis): Well, Margaret, we need to see more evidence to convince us that inflation is well on our way back down to 2 percent.

The good news is, as your reporting this indicated, the job market remains strong. But there’s a really important difference between the U.S. and those other countries. The U.S. economic fundamentals are much stronger than in most other advanced economies around the world. So they’re facing declining inflation and economic weakness.

We’re facing declining inflation slowly, but economic strength. And that’s what’s leading to this divergence in monetary policies.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You just said the jobs market is remaining strong.

When you were last here, you said you personally don’t think it’s realistic we could end this inflation cycle with no cost to the job market. We are starting to see jobless claims take up a bit. Do you expect to see more of that in the weeks and months to come?

NEEL KASHKARI: It’s certainly possible. The job market has performed much better than I had expected.

I thought, when we raised rates so quickly and so aggressively, that we’d be tapping the brakes harder on the job market. That hasn’t yet happened. When I talk to businesses all around my region they’re still hiring, by and large. And they’re still having to compete to find workers, but it’s not the overheated job market that we saw a year or two ago.

So, there may be more cooling yet to come. I hope it’s modest cooling, and then we can get back down to more of a balanced economy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Bank of America predicts that the Fed will cut rates once this year, but that they will wait until December to do it.

What do you think of that prediction?

NEEL KASHKARI: You know, I think that’s a reasonable prediction.

If you look at the – what we call the Summary of Economic Projections that my colleagues and I all put out this past week, the median forecast was for one cut this year. It’s really going to depend on the data. And we’re in a very good position right now to take our time, get more inflation data, get more data on the economy, on the labor market, before we have to make any decisions.

So, we’re in a strong position. But if you just said there’s going to be one cut, which is what the median indicated, that would likely be toward the end of the year.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We have more to follow up on that, Neel, but I’m going to have to take a commercial break and ask you to stay with us through it, and we will finish it on the other side.

We will be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Two communities were rocked by mass shootings this weekend.

Yesterday afternoon, police say a man randomly fired shots at a city park in Rochester Hills, Michigan, near Detroit. Nine people were injured, including two children under the age of 10. The gunman then hid in a nearby home, where police say he likely died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Overnight in Texas, a shooting at a Juneteenth celebration left two dead and six injured in the community of Round Rock about 20 miles north of Austin. Police say a fight between two groups broke out and at least one person began firing a weapon.

We will be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with the president and CEO of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, Neel Kashkari, plus a conversation with Bill Gates on the future of green energy.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And welcome back to FACE THE NATION.

We return to our conversation now with Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari.

Neel, we hear this frustration from consumers about high prices, but there are, for example, so many Americans traveling this weekend that the TSA says it’s the highest volume – second highest volume day they’ve seen all year. Credit card balances are going up. If Americans are under strain, they’re not really cutting back much. How is that challenging your decision making?

NEEL KASHKARI: It’s a great question, Margaret. There are a bunch of changes that have happened since the pandemic. For example, Americans are saving less money. A lower percentage of their income. How long is that going to endure? So, we are looking at what I call a high-pressure economy in some dimensions but there’s also some evidence that it’s cooling.

And we do know that the more well to do, the people that you talked about in your segment, they tend to be spending more. On the other end of the distribution, we see people with lower credit scores. Their delinquencies are rising. And so it’s not an all good scenario by any stretch, but we are seeing some underlying resilience. But we also have to pay attention to those who are struggling to make ends meet.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The White House has this council of economic advisers and put out a report saying that, “greater availability right now of dock workers and truck drivers accounted for 86 percent of the reduction of inflation since 2022.”

How much is the supply of workers affecting prices? And is this a sign that this high degree of immigration is really impacting inflation too?

NEEL KASHKARI: Well, there’s no question the big inflation that we saw over the last few years, a lot of it was driven by disruptions in supply. There are no – you know, not enough workers, as well as supply chains getting disrupted. Many of those things have gotten a lot better. Workers have come back. As you just indicated, a lot of immigration. That’s helped fill a lot of jobs that have been open. Those have, on the margin, helped to bring down inflation.

Now, the net effect of immigration long run, you know, obviously immigrants, they work hard, they contribute to our economy, they also need a place to live. They also need a place to – they also eat. So, they also have demand for services and goods. So, what the net effect on inflation is over the long run is a little bit harder to judge. But I think right now the fact that many Americans are coming back to work and taking jobs that need to be filled, that’s really helping our economy get back on track.

And so we just have to finish the job. We’re at around – around a 3 percent inflation rate right now. We’ve got to bring it all the way back down to our 2 percent target.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know that the Fed is apolitical, but we’re in an election year. And the economy and inflation are top of mind for a lot of people.

You mentioned the impact on housing. Senate Democrats like Elizabeth Warren wrote a letter to Chair Powell about the housing shortage and urged him to cut interest rates because she was arguing higher borrowing costs are discouraging people from building new homes.

On the other side of the political aisle, you have the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, complaining about high mortgage rates and connecting it to migrants.

Are you concerned here that elected officials are really politicizing the Fed?

NEEL KASHKARI: Well, I – you know, people criticize us all the time. The best thing we can do when the political winds blow is to focus on our dual mandate goals of stable prices and maximum employment.

You know, Chair Powell was asked the same question about housing in his press conference, and he was right to point out that we’ve had a shortage of housing for a decade or more. The best thing that the Federal Reserve can do is get inflation back down to target, and that will allow mortgage rates to go back down to normal levels.

If we simply cut interest rates to try to support homeownership right now, that would probably push up the price of houses and it actually wouldn’t lead to any better affordability. The best thing we can do is do our jobs, get inflation back down to our target and then hopefully the supply side of the economy will – can step in to build the homes that Americans need.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I wonder your thoughts on what Treasury Secretary Yellen has talked about with her plan to have the largest economies in the G-7 give a loan to Ukraine using the interest from the accounts that Russia has overseas. $280 billion worth of frozen assets. She’s not touching those assets but taking the interest.

Do you have any concerns about that in terms of the impact on the banking system?

NEEL KASHKARI: I don’t have concerns about the stability of the banking system and what that would do to large, global banks. I think that is really a policy call for the executive branch and their allies around the world to decide. Ultimately, the dollar is the responsibility of the U.S. Treasury Department. And understanding how people would view the dollar, you know, given these types of moves, that’s really for them to decide. From a banking stability perspective, I don’t see any financial stability concerns that come to mind for me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s an interesting plan and we’re going to track that.

Neel, always good to have your insights.

We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re joined now by Samantha Vinograd, a former top counter terrorism official at the Department of Homeland Security under President Biden. And she is now a national security contributor here at CBS.

Good to have you back.

I’d like to have you help us digest some of what we talked about with this arrest of these eight individuals who made it all the way from central Asia, through the southern border, and were arrested this past week by the FBI and ICE. There was no derogatory information found on them when they were scooped up initially. How thorough is the vetting done by federal border agents?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD: Well, Margaret, let me put vetting in context. I was responsible for screening and vetting policy at DHS. Every individual encountered at our borders is vetted. What that means is, individual’s identities are run against certain datasets or watch lists of terrorism related and other derogatory information. However, the vetting is only as good as the underlying content in those watch lists. And I do believe that we have under resourced foreign terrorism-related intelligence collection, analysis and distribution in a way that is adversely impacting the quality of those watch lists themselves.

We do have gaps when it comes, for example, to information on bad actors in central Asia. So, today, I am less concerned about an individual on our watch list somehow sneaking through our southern border than I am about a bad actor who is unknown to us. And that’s why we need to urgently prioritize deepening intelligence partnerships with, for example, countries in central Asia, and ensuring that we are fully exploiting all of the intelligence that has been collected to date on bad actors, their travel patterns and more.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And when you say under resourced, Congress controls the purse strings and the allocation of that, including Chair Turner’s committee would have a voice in that, correct?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD: Yes, that is true.

At the same time, the federal government has made decisions about other intelligence priorities. For example, great power competition with China and Russia has taken resources away from foreign terrorism priorities like ISIS and al Qaeda. And I do believe has led to somewhat of a miss assessment of the objectives of what had previously been viewed as regional affiliates of ISIS, like ISIS-K, ISIS Khorasan, which we now access does have really global ambitions rather than staying focused on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and central Asia.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you raise an important point there that we have, just to connect for people, we no longer have a presence in Afghanistan and the intelligence capabilities we once did when there was a military presence on the ground. So those surrounding countries that we’re talking about, whether it’s Tajikistan or Uzbekistan, those are the places you’re talking about ISIS-K emanating out of, right?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD: Well, we did lose what we call battlefield intelligence when we withdrew from Afghanistan and Iraq. We also know that ISIS has really leveraged a global franchise model, if you will, where they have built up regional affiliates, for example, in parts of central Asia. ISIS-K is their regional affiliate in that part of the world.

But what we are now seeing is these regional affiliates conducting attacks in an ever expanding geographic scope. And what that means is, we need more and better intelligence on individuals in these areas because they do seek to do harm in Europe. We had a worldwide threat advisory a few months ago issued by the State Department, as well as potentially here in the homeland.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You had the State Department and – explain that the U.S. and Turkey were sanctioning three individuals who had ties to ISIS-K and a network of human smugglers trying to bring people here to the U.S. That brings us back to the southern border.

You know, how much of a vulnerability is it?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD: Well, Turkey has been a relatively uneven counterterrorism partner, but has recently stepped up and taken some very important action to, number one, sanction individuals who may pose a terrorism-related threat and try to address some known facilitation routes for human smugglers.

Our southern border does present a security risk when it comes to bad actors trying to gain access to this country. To address the risks at our southern border, we need to ensure that federal agents are appropriately resourced. We need to ensure, again, that we have the right intelligence feeding our watch list so we know what to watch out for and we need to disincentivize individuals from trying to come here in the first place.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, does – given that the president just had this executive order that may be challenged in court, but trying to shut down asylum in crossing the border, does he also have the authority to shut down travel from these areas of concern in specific countries? Could he do that?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD: Well, just to clarify, the president isn’t trying to shut down asylum at the border. He is trying to restrict asylum between individuals’ ability to claim asylum between ports of entry, which is slightly different. The president, under section 212-F of the Immigration Nationality Act does have the authority to restrict entry of certain non- citizens under specific circumstances. Mr. Trump did previously use that authority during Covid and that is the authority that President Biden is relying on in his latest executive order.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Could he direct it more narrowly towards these areas of concern? I mean why is it that the information you’re saying that feeds those watch lists is so poor when it comes to a country like Tajikistan?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD: Well, President Biden, again, could try to use this authority to restrict the travel of certain non-citizens under various circumstances. He could choose to take that route. I do think it would be challenged in court, like this current executive order is. But by the same token, I think it’s critical that he works, and I know the administration is doing this, to deepen intelligence cooperation with these countries.

So, for example, last summer we did have this threat stream that you mentioned emanating from Uzbekistan, and that led to a deepened intelligence and law enforcement partnership between the United States and Uzbekistan. There had been, for example, removal flights of Uzbek nationals back to Uzbekistan. I do believe the same approach is being taken with Tajikistan, but that will take time. And, simultaneously, we do have Customs and Border Protection, and ICE, who have broad discretion to make operational changes at the border to, for example, detain all individuals from these countries, rather than, for example, releasing them into the homeland.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sam, always good to have you here.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD: Thanks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: For the first time in four decades, an American company broke ground on a next generation nuclear power plant in the U.S. The company behind the new technology is TerraPower, and it’s backed by billionaire Bill Gates.

Nuclear power is carbon free, which means it doesn’t emit the greenhouse gasses scientists linked to climate change. And Gates is building a plant in Wyoming at a cost he estimates will be $10 billion.

TerraPower’s new reactor uses liquid sodium rather than water for cooling, which the company says makes nuclear power cheaper, safer and more efficient.

We spoke with Gates Thursday, just after he’d broken ground.

(BEGIN VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: How many more of these do you have planned?

BILL GATES (Co-Founder, TerraPower): Well, we –

MARGARET BRENNAN: And what is that going to depend on?

BILL GATES: We have discussions with utilities about building tens of these, but – and we really only have huge impact and success if we get past 100.

What’s –

MARGARET BRENNAN: Wyoming has to open before you do these or –

BILL GATES: We can start four or five in parallel.

The final, final approval from the regulatory commission is out there in 2030. And so that then gives you the green light to turn the others on. But you can start the construction.

The demand for electricity in the United States, for the first time in a long time, is going to go up quite a bit. It’s electric cars, buses. Some people use electric heat pumps in their homes. And just in the last year, with these artificial intelligence breakthroughs, all the big AI companies are saying, OK, we need to build lots of data centers.

And so, if we don’t have nuclear to complement the wind and sun, the country will fall behind thedemand for electricity.

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden has said, even he, with all of this money being invested in green energy, that the United States still will need fossil fuels for some time. I mean that – that’s the reality of what you’re sketching out here. It’s not either/or.

BILL GATES: Right. Well, the growth will be in the clean sources, sun, wind, and nuclear, but we won’t get there to be 100 percent green. You know, the goal is to get rid of all emissions by 2050. Even that’s pretty ambitious. All of the clean sources will have to do a great job of getting their costs down.

MARGARET BRENNAN: When the public hears about nuclear energy though, they think of some of the worst cases that – and mistakes, Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union. They think of Japan even just after Fukushima in 2011. And after that, Japan’s government reacted pretty strongly. They shut down many of their plants. They’re starting to put them back online. But there was a very sharp reaction then. So, how do you respond to people who say, well, I don’t really want this in my backyard?

BILL GATES: Well, nuclear – you know, the – this – after heat – a problem when you shut a rector down it still has heat. That’s why Chernobyl was a problem, and – and Fukushima. Our design, that goes away because since we use this sodium to cool everything, it can absorb all that heat.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This is the Natrium?

BILL GATES: Right. And so those accidents were both first in generation, second generation reactors. The third generation reactors dealt with that with a lot of complexity. So, those reactors are quite safe, but the cost overruns meant that the electricity will be very, very expensive.

We solved the safety problem with a much simpler approach, but we have to start from scratch.

MARGARET BRENNAN: For people at home to understand, your reactor and most advanced reactors require this new high-assay, low-enriched uranium. So that supply is really very much owned by Russia. How does America get that fuel without putting money in the pocket of Vladimir Putin?

BILL GATES: Yes, so the U.S. Congress recently passed a bill that we supported that says none of the fuel will come out of Russia, and so the U.S. won’t be a customer of that any longer.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But that’s not immediate, right?

BILL GATES: That’s right. But the money in the bill will get the supply base going in the United States. We also have a supplier in the U.K. We’ve got a supplier in South Africa. So we can go to the free world and meet our fuel requirements.

The reason we had to delay our schedule from 2028 to 2030 was because of this fuel problem. And we didn’t anticipate a war in Ukraine that changed that completely. And so now building up the alternate plan with the federal government helping us figure that out, that’s now completely in place.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, how long before the U.S. can rely on its own fuel for these nuclear reactors? Can America become completely energy independent if it’s actually switching to nuclear?

BILL GATES: Yes. So, the U.S. is very lucky that between the U.S. and Canada there’s quite a bit of uranium. Even in Wyoming and specifically there are good uranium mines there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you have to mine for it? And there are environmental concerns around that?

BILL GATES: You have to – you have to mine it and you have to have the manufacturers. And that’s the congressional $2.8 billion that they just passed is to get a North America supply chain going. And it was great that the Congress took care of that problem, because they’re the ones who said, we don’t want you to buy fuel from Russia.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And as an environmentalist, you don’t have concerns about this kind of mining within the United States?

BILL GATES: Well, all mining, you know, is subject to – in the case of the U.S., a lot of environmental review to make sure that, you know, as you’re pulling stuff out, as the tailings or where are you putting those and how do those get used. So, you know, I feel very comfortable that the U.S. is going to make sure that – that there’s no environmental concerns about U.S. and Canadian mining.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you confident that you can continue this project regardless of who wins a majority or the White House?

BILL GATES: Yes, I’m quite confident. I mean, I’m – you know, I meet with lots of Republicans. I meet with lots of Democrats. I’d say that their support for nuclear power is very impressive in both parties. The reasons they support nuclear power may not be identical. The Republicans may emphasize the security issues, you know, energy security, exporting these power things to the entire world. The Democrats value those things but they also value that it’s a clean source of energy and that it’s – because it’s not weather dependent, it can fill in, in the periods where the renewables are – are not producing.

And so of all the climate-related work I’m doing, I’d say the one that has the most bipartisan energy behind it is actually this nuclear work.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Donald Trump talks about renewable energy quite a lot on the campaign trail. But when he was president, he did sign bills that encouraged nuclear development.

BILL GATES: Yes, some nuclear – nuclear really is special.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s its own category of green energy?

BILL GATES: Not because it’s green. There are people who don’t value that part of it, although I wish they would. They value it because of the U.S. leadership. And you really don’t want the nuclear reactors around the world made by your adversaries because it’s economically a huge job creator and because the materials involved in these reactors possibly could be diverted. You want your eye on, you know, making sure that it’s not feeding into some military-related activity. And so the U.S. leadership in this space has a lot of strategic benefits.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Trump has talked about repealing the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRA. He said that’s one of the first things he wants to do.

BILL GATES: Yes, I mean, it takes both houses of Congress. And, you know, I think a lot of the provisions in there would be preserved. You know, a lot of projects have started. They’re creating jobs. A lot of those jobs are in, you know, red states.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why – why doesn’t the administration talk more about that?

BILL GATES: Well, they –

MARGARET BRENNAN: A lot of those jobs are in red states.

BILL GATES: Yes, because those states, you know, move faster, they have a lighter regulatory load. You know, West Virginia, Wyoming, Texas, a lot of them are where the pilot plants are being built.

And the more that happens, the more that you’ll probably see bipartisan support. I’m not a good predictor of elections, but I think a lot of those credits probably will survive. It’s possible some of them won’t.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The U.S. created, right, the nuclear space really with the Manhattan Project. Do you think we can get back, as a country, to really leading on the innovation on this front?

BILL GATES: Well, there is competition. You know, the country that’s building the most nuclear reactors today is China. And, you know, they’re serious about diversifying their energy sources, and getting rid of their greenhouse emissions.

The U.S. just tends to be more innovative, whether it’s artificial intelligence, or new medicines. You know, if we unleash the innovation power of this country, we tend to lead. And I feel great about the support we’re getting from the federal government in this nuclear space to take our history of excellence and solve the problem that our current reactors are just way too expensive. And so let’s make the changes, you know, be willing to innovate – out innovate our foreign competitors to maintain that lead.

(END VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s it for us today. Thank you for watching. And Happy Father’s Day to my dad and all the dads.

Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)



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