Full transcript of


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

  • Sen. Patrick Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania
  • Mayor Quinton Lucas of Kansas City, Missouri
  • Betsey Stevenson, economist and professor at the University of Michigan
  • Rep. Adam Schiff, Democrat of California 
  • Dr. Walter Koroshetz, co-chair of the National Institutes of Health’s long COVID initiative

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: Nearly two weeks after the Uvalde massacre, our nation, divided by politics, struggles to cope with the epidemic of mass shootings. This weekend, the gut-wrenching grief in Uvalde persists, as the mourning for the 19 elementary school children and two teachers shot by an 18-year-old with a legally purchased AR-15 semiautomatic rifle continues. Across the country, so does the gun violence.

We will try to understand what the country wants to see happen when it comes to new gun controls and just how devastating mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo have been to the national psyche.

(Begin VT)

KAMALA HARRIS (Vice President of the United States): No 86-year-old should fear for her safety to go to the grocery store. No 9-year-old should be afraid to go to school. And no 18-year-olds should be able to buy a weapon of war.

REPRESENTATIVE GREG STEUBE (R-Florida): Here’s a gun I carry every single day to protect myself, my family, my wife, my home.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: For Democrats, it’s guns. For Republicans, it’s rights.

But, in our divided America, can these politics be reconciled to protect our children?

(Begin VT)

JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): I’ve been in this fight for a long time. I know how hard it is, but I will never give up.

This time, a majority of the American people won’t give up either. I believe the majority of you will act to turn your outrage into making this issue central to your vote.

Enough. Enough. Enough.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: The issue has become a rallying cry for the midterm elections.

(Begin VT)

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-Kentucky): I, like most of you, believe this needs to be done. It must be done consistent with the Constitution and the culture of most of our country.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will talk with Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey and Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas.

Plus, we will preview the January 6 congressional hearings with committee member Adam Schiff.

And we will take a look at the economy. With inflation high and gas prices rising, are we headed into a recession?

It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.

This morning, more than three-quarters of Americans say things in this country are going badly. That’s higher than it has been since the early days of the COVID pandemic, according to our new CBS poll. In particular, Americans are reeling from the impact of gun violence in the wake of several deadly mass shootings.

For more insight, we’re joined by CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto, who joins us from New York this morning.

Anthony, always good to have you.

How do you quantify the emotional toll that these mass shootings are having on kids and their parents?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Good morning, Margaret.

It is a measure of how shaken the nation is, when you talk to parents and they report that their kids are expressing emotions like not just sadness, but being scared, being nervous when they talk about what happened in Texas.

And then you ask parents what their kids are worried about in school, and you get a list that’s very reminiscent of things that kids have dealt with for generations, like bullying and social pressures. But worries about gun violence are a majority, and they’re not far behind.

And so that is a measure of just the emotional toll that all of this has taken on the nation and the nation’s kids, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And so do they feel powerless? Or do people believe they can do something about it?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: The good news is, people think this is preventable.

You get big majorities that say it can be stopped, it can be prevented, and it’s not something that we have to accept. Now, there is a quarter who says that, unfortunately, this may be something that we have to accept in a free society.

And I do want to point out some partisan difference here. There is bipartisan view that it can be prevented. But there are four in 10 Republicans who do say that it may be something we have to accept. And that partisan differences is going to cut through a lot of this, Margaret.

Now, I do want to say that, when we ask people why they think that the U.S. has so many unfortunate mass shootings, the availability of guns comes out as a top answer, but not the only answer. People point to things like mental health issues, the influence of violence in the culture. So, it is a range. And that is important.

But I do want to look at this idea of the availability of guns, because the numbers who say that gun laws should generally become more strict is up in recent weeks. It’s up since the tragedy in Buffalo to 60 percent now.

And then, when you look again at what people think is causing this and what might be a way forward, well, the number who think that the U.S. would be safer if fewer people had guns does outweigh the number who say that they think things would be safer if everyone or more people had guns.

But this is a mix. And it comes back to this larger idea that, to solve a problem and prevent a problem, you first have to come to agreement on its causes, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So Congress is debating some specific proposals.

What are the policies that people favor?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: So you do see big majorities in favor of things like background checks on potential gun buyers. Federal red flag laws get three- quarters majority support, a smaller majority, but a majority, a nationwide ban on semiautomatic weapons.

But, here, Margaret, I want to show you the way the partisan breaks fall on this. For measures that would generally address people, background checks, federal red flag laws, you see more bipartisan support. But when you get to measures that address specifically guns, then partisan support breaks, and you see smaller numbers among Republicans.

So it’s that difference that’s important to understand, measures that address people vs. measures that address guns specifically.

And so, in all, there is not a wide public view that it’s likely Congress will do something. Maybe they will surprise the public here. But what we do see across the data is that many people feel that something can be done, that a lot of things would help, even if there’s not only one solution — Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Anthony Salvanto, thank you.

We turn now to the Pennsylvania Republican senator, Pat Toomey. He is one of the senators involved in bipartisan efforts to reduce gun violence. And he joins us this morning from the Keystone State.

Senator, welcome.

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY (R-Pennsylvania): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The numbers are pretty staggering here.

There have been 239 mass shootings in 2022, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which is a nonprofit that tracks these. Overnight, there was one in Philadelphia, three people killed, 14 injured, using a semiautomatic weapon.

What has happened to the American people that has taken violence to this level?

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: Yes.

Well, it’s a complex and multifaceted problem, as you know, Margaret. In — in some cases, criminality in our big cities has escalated enormously. There’s a lot of factors contributing to that. In some cases, it’s district attorneys who think their job is to make sure no one goes to jail. That’s a problem.

And then, of course, we have these — these horrific sensational massacres, where a young man clearly has just gone completely off the rails and is deranged. And that’s a very different set of circumstances. So it’s — it’s a big, complicated problem.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it’s a big, complicated problem. And most attempts to try to create any kind of solution have stopped.

But Democrats and Republicans, we just mentioned, are negotiating right now to get something. Democrats need 10 Republican votes. You’re one of six Republicans working with Senator Chris Murphy. He said today that you all are writing this legislation right now. It will not ban assault weapons. It will not have comprehensive background checks as part of it.

Is your proposal to expand background checks still in it?

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: Well, I certainly hope we’re going to have an expansion of background checks.

You know, Senator Manchin and I have been working on this for a long time. And we’ve tried to establish that, at least for commercial sales of firearms, there ought to be a background check, so, sales at gun shows, sales that are advertised over the Internet.

I don’t know that we’ll get exactly what Senator Manchin and I developed some years ago. It will probably be something different than that. And that’s fine. There are a number of mechanisms you could use to expand background checks.

But I just think it makes sense. We all agree that violent criminals and deranged, dangerously mentally ill people shouldn’t have firearms. So we need a mechanism to increase the likelihood that we will identify such a person and prevent them from buying a gun, legally anyway.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, to…

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: And so that’s the idea behind expanding background checks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, to be clear, because you had proposed the Manchin- Toomey background check expansion in 2013, 2015, 2019.

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re saying what’s surviving right now is essentially a watered-down version of that? How is it different?

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: Well, this is a moving target, if you will.

We’re still in discussions, and we are still trying to figure out exactly what mechanism is going to enable us to get the votes that we would need. So, I can’t be precise about that, Margaret. It hasn’t been finally resolved. But something in the space of expanding background checks, I think, is very — well, certainly is on the table, and I hope will be part of a final package.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we see overwhelming support in our CBS polling for background checks, which is why it’s interesting that it’s difficult.

There was a Republican congressman in the state of New York. I’m sure you heard about this. Chris Jacobs, he represents a district around Buffalo where there was an awful mass shooting just a few weeks ago. He dropped out of his reelection race after — seven days after he publicly endorsed a federal assault weapons ban and limits on high-capacity magazines.

This is what he had to say.

(Begin VT)

REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS JACOBS (R-New York): We have a problem in our country, in terms of both our major parties.

If you stray from a party position, you are annihilated. For the Republicans, it came — it became pretty apparent to me over the last week that that issue is gun control, any gun control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you agree with him?

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: No, I don’t.

I think there’s a wide range of opinions among elected Republicans just as there are among Republican voters across the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well…

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: In my case, I wrote a bill with Senator Manchin and advocated for expanding background checks in 2013, as you pointed out, again in 2015. We voted on it in 2016.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, but you couldn’t get enough Republicans to vote with you to get it passed.

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: I was reelected — I was reelected without a primary challenge. So I think that that tells you something also.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well — excuse me — I’m sorry. My voice.

The president himself has campaigned on this idea that he can be a deal broker. Does he need to get involved? Or does the involvement of the president lessen the chances of success here?

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: Yes, the problem is, I think the president might have been a president who would reach across the aisle try to bring people together.

But he’s chosen not to take that approach since day one. He has sided with the far left of his party and really not reached out to Republicans. He gave a speech on this topic where he advocated policies that he knows for sure have no chance of passing the Senate, probably couldn’t even get 50 votes, and hold the Democrats, much less get the 60 we would need.

So, once again, the president is not being very helpful. I think, at the end of the day, this is going to come down to whether we can reach a consensus in the United States Senate. There are intensive discussions underway. It includes people who have not been engaged on this issue in the past.

I can’t — certainly can’t guarantee any outcome. But it feels to me like we are closer than we’ve been since I have been in the Senate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you can get four other Republicans to stand with you, the six who are negotiating?

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: My hope is, we’ll get a lot more than that.

My hope is, we’ll get at least half the Republican Conference. You know, that’s — that should be the goal here. We’re going to have to be realistic about what can do that. Senator Murphy alluded to the idea that it’s not going to be everything certainly that Democrats would like. We’ll — we’ll see where it ends up.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is there a risk that the Republican Party becomes associated with gun violence, if you can’t get those votes?

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: You know, look, I think the Republicans have been very consistently supporters of Second Amendment rights.

Republican voters expect Republicans to defend the Second Amendment. I think there is a place to land that’s consistent with the Second Amendment, as I have been advocating for expanding background checks. By the way, I think encouraging states to have some kind of red flag laws could make sense, as long as there’s adequate due process. I think there are school safety provisions, there are mental health issues that we could address.

So there are things we could do that would be constructive that are consistent with Republican values, and I’m hoping we’ll get there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, thank you for your time today. We will watch for the outcome of those talks.

Face the Nation will be back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to the Kansas City, Missouri, mayor, Quinton Lucas. He attended the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting last week and joins us today from San Francisco.

Mayor Lucas, good morning. Welcome back.

QUINTON LUCAS (D-Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You heard Senator Toomey. He made no promises there.

You’re in a city that is a blue dot in a red state. Are mayors like you just completely hamstrung by state legislatures and the Congress here in Washington? Is there anything you can actually do to control gun violence?

MAYOR QUINTON LUCAS: Well, while I believe there are things we can do, I’m incredibly disappointed to hear this big set of ideas that they have and then basically just throwing up their hands and blaming it on prosecutors, fathers not being in the home, any number of issues, other than gun violence in our cities.

In the senator’s own city, Philadelphia, we see a mass shooting last night. We see them every day around America. And so mayors have agreed to do a number of different things. You’ve seen my city file lawsuits against gun manufacturers. We’ll continue to clamor for more authorities to be able to help prevent gun violence.

But more than anything, we need stronger and tougher laws that protect our children, protect our grocery stores, protect our police officers. If you back the blue, you back commonsense gun reform.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, in your city, Kansas City, according the FBI’s latest data, you rank eighth deadliest in terms of city murder rates.

I know you were recently at the White House and told reporters it’s important to have locally driven solutions to local problems. So, what is the locally driven solution to gun violence in Kansas City?

MAYOR QUINTON LUCAS: Well, prevention is probably the most important step, not just to local gun violence that we see every day, but also mass shootings.

If you just have people showing up after a scene, as we’ve seen tragically in Uvalde and around America, then we will never get in front of this problem. Some of our locally driven solutions has been making sure that we’re getting guns out of the hands of domestic violence offenders.

But we need the support of ATF. We need more investigations. We need an actual permanent ATF director, very reasonable things that I think the President has proposed, and that we continue not to get through the United States Senate. We need permitting and background checks to make sure our police officers can actually stop suspected violent offenders before they’re shooting up grocery stores, clubs, or anything in Kansas City.

That’s the support we need. And that’s what mayors have been clamoring for. What we do not need are solutions that have already been tried and done. I visit schools every day in Kansas City. Almost all of them are fortified. Most of them have armed guards these days, at least one.

So these types of solutions they keep saying have been done. And I think, if the Republican Party wants to actually be about solutions, they will say, can’t we agree on things that at least will stop gun massacres of our young people?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Missouri is one of the, I think, 10 states that allow school districts to have staff carry weapons into the classroom to defend the schools.

Is that a practical solution? Does it work in Missouri?

MAYOR QUINTON LUCAS: No. No, it does not.

You know, sometimes I get asked, is your city ready for a massacre like we saw in Uvalde. And I like to say, while we have great law enforcement, great collaboration with our schools, we are all concerned that someone can still show up with an AR-15, which I have shot before. I’m not against the existence of these firearms.

But I think that those are the sorts of things where we will be outmatched almost immediately. And so, no, just having someone in a classroom with a firearm is not a simple solution. And what’s more — and I say this as a parent — I don’t want a first grade teacher necessarily worrying about a classroom of 20 students and also worrying about how she can get the faster draw on a mass shooter with this amazing high-capacity firearm.

That is wholly unreasonable. Red flag laws, permitting, background checks are very clear solutions. And I think the United States Congress has an opportunity to act and make us all safer, so we’re not reading about a new mass shooting every few days, which has been the story of the past month in the United States.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, gun deaths are at the highest number ever recorded. I mean, there are just incredible numbers.

What is the largest source of weapons in Kansas City? Where are the guns coming from?

MAYOR QUINTON LUCAS: Well, we’ve already measured that, often, they’re coming across our state line.

I talked to Mayor Lori Lightfoot in Chicago the other day after U.S. Conference of Mayors. That’s what’s happening for many of us. Even in states with responsible gun legislation, at least some, we are seeing that illegal gun trafficking is a huge source of the violent crime incidents in our city.

That’s why we ask for better enforcement. That’s why we ask for better tools. You know, when I was growing up in Missouri, which has always been a state that has supported the Second Amendment, we had requirements that you had to have a license to carry a concealed weapon. We got rid of that. We have constitutional carry like Texas.

So folks are walking around every day with lots of firearms and, importantly, without law enforcement solutions to be able to ask people, hey, is your gun licensed? Should you have it? And that leads to tremendous numbers of gun violence in our city.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about some outcry this week in your city. There were — there was video that emerged a 26-year-old woman who was fleeing arrest.

She was shot. It got international attention because a witness claimed she was unarmed and pregnant. You said that was false. Can you explain what’s happening?

MAYOR QUINTON LUCAS: You know, I can explain.

Unfortunately, there was a carjacking. The police catch up with the suspect. A woman comes out of the vehicle. She refuses to get down with instructions. And then she runs off with a firearm in her hand. There was an eyewitness who claimed something that was just not factual.

Unfortunately, it takes us a few days to get at least a photo out that showed she had a gun in her hand. I think what we continue to deal with — and this has been discussed nationally — is that there are concerns with trust of American law enforcement and that’s also in my city.

That’s why I think the step the president took about week ago on making sure we have more police accountability is a good thing. But, in this situation, the police acted within the law and responsibly, and I’m glad that the woman is out of the hospital. But, unfortunately, she’s now facing charges.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mayor Lucas, thank you so much for joining us.

MAYOR QUINTON LUCAS: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we’ll be back in a moment with more Face the Nation.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thursday evening the congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol will begin laying out its findings in public hearings.

Our Scott MacFarlane reports on what’s been uncovered up to this point.

(Begin VT)

SCOTT MACFARLANE (voice-over): An unparalleled moment in American history has given rise to an unprecedented investigation.

The January 6 Select Committee is unlike any before it, seven Democrats and two Republicans, both of whom became fierce critics of former President Trump after the Capitol attack.

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyoming): I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.

SCOTT MACFARLANE: The committee has completed more than 1,000 depositions and interviews, including with several members of former President Donald Trump’s inner circle. And they have collected nearly 140,000 documents.

In recent court filings in its battle for e-mails from key witnesses, the committee said it has a good-faith belief former President Trump engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States. And they revealed text messages sent by their own colleagues to Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows strategizing how to overturn the results of the election and the January 6 counting of the electoral votes.

Some key figures have defied the committee’s subpoenas, including Meadows and five Republican members of the House, including Leader Kevin McCarthy. Two others, former White House aide Steve Bannon and trade adviser Peter Navarro, stand charged by the Justice Department with criminal contempt of Congress for doing so.

Late Friday, the committee said they’d been notified that the Justice Department will not be prosecuting Meadows or former White House staffer Dan Scavino for contempt of Congress.

The committee is also focused on the roles played by the far right extremist groups such as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, who are accused of conspiracy ahead of the 6th.

And the committee has tried to drill into what they call the 187 minutes, what Trump and key White House officials were saying doing and not doing during the roughly three hours as rioters attacked police, swarmed the Capitol, erected a gallows, chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” and sought to overturn the election.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And Scott MacFarlane is here with us.

When we come back from this break, we will talk about what we can expect in those hearings.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we will be right back with House Intelligence Chair and member of the January 6 Committee Adam Schiff.

So, stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION”

We’re joined now by congressional correspondent Scott MacFarlane.

Scott, it’s good to have you here at the table.

These will be prime time programming hearings on Thursday. What do we expect to hear?

SCOTT MACFARLANE: The committee has promised what they call previously unseen material. And we have seen a lot, like a lot, of Capitol riot videos. So it raises the prospect they’re going to show us some of their material.

According to our reporting, recordings were made – or recordings were requested of some of the top-level witnesses who met with this January 6th committee. We may hear or see some of that. And it’s worth reminding people of the range of interviews. Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Rudy Giuliani, and some of the rank-and-file rioters. Watch out for this. We know some of the defendants in the criminal case have gone before this committee, mentioned they have gone before the committee to seek leniency, they have voices that could be heard during these hearings either on tape or live in person.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, some of this will be produced on tape.

You know, we’ve heard from members, like Congressman Jamie Raskin, promises to blow the roof off the House. Are expectations being set too high here?

SCOTT MACFARLANE: It’s unclear who’s going to be in the House looking at the roof. The committee has a series of hearings, likely all of them this month, in June, as America is busy with summer.

Also, who are the persuadables? Who has an open mind and is willing to listen and perhaps change their mind based on whatever’s being shown by this committee? Or are people’s ideas too baked in?

And one other thing, Margaret, the Republicans who have defied this committee, the five Republicans subpoenaed who have not come in to speak, and the Republicans who criticized the committee outside, have not paid a political price for doing so. In fact, Margaret, they may be better positioned for their primaries or general elections because of it. That has weakened a bit of foundation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Scott, I know you’ll be busy this week and in the weeks ahead. Thank you for coming in this Sunday.

We’re going to go now to California Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. He joins us from Los Angeles.

Mr. Chairman, good morning to you.

ADAM SCHIFF (Democratic Congressman from California): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You wear a lot of hats, but I want to ask you about the January 6th committee that you serve on. The Justice Department, as you know, on Friday, decided not to prosecute the former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, or social media director Dan Scavino, for refusing to cooperate with your committee. I know the committee said that was puzzling.

Is it your understanding that – that these men are immune from all prosecution?

ADAM SCHIFF: No, they’re not. And it is very puzzling why these two witnesses would be treated differently than the two that the Justice Department is prosecuting. There is no absolute immunity. These witnesses have very relevant testimony to offer in terms of what went into the violence of January 6th, the propagation of the big lie, and the idea that witnesses could simply fail to show up. And when the statute requires the Justice Department to present those cases to the grand jury, they don’t, is deeply troubling. We hope to get more insight from the Justice Department, but it’s a, I think, a grave disappointment and could impede our work if other witnesses think they can likewise refuse to show up with impunity.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it because these two men had such close proximity to President Trump, is the executive privilege argument actually applying here?

ADAM SCHIFF: That shouldn’t be the explanation here because, of course, there are a great many things these witnesses can testify with no even plausible claim of executive privilege. They were both involved in campaign matters. They both have documents that they could offer. None of which is protected by privilege.

And the idea that you can simply refuse to show up, rather than show up and say, as to this question I’m going to assert a privilege, that just invites others to be in contempt of Congress or be in contempt of judges around the country in other courtrooms. And I think it’s a very dangerous precedent to set.

MARGARET BRENNAN: “New York Times” was first to report, CBS has confirmed, that Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, actually warned the Secret Service and the lead agent protecting the vice president the day before January 6th that he thought the president would turn on the vice president and that it would pose a direct security risk.

We know Mr. Short plans to testify himself before your committee. Is that sufficient? Do you need to hear from the vice president?

ADAM SCHIFF: Margaret, we’re not commenting on specific witnesses, so I can’t confirm or deny who will appear before us.

I can say that certainly one of the themes that we will be fleshing out is the fact that in advance of the 6th, that there was an understanding of the propensity for violence that day, of the participation of white nationalist groups, of the effect that the continued propagation of his big lie to rile up the country and rile up the president’s base was likely to lead to violence.

So, you will see that theme among the narratives that will be exhibited during these hearings. But as to a particular witness, I really can’t comment.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But if you don’t deliver a bombshell on Thursday, don’t you run the risk of losing the public’s attention here?

ADAM SCHIFF: Our goal is to present the narrative of what happened in this country, how close we came to losing our democracy, what led to that violent attack on the 6th. The American people, I think, know a great deal already. They’ve seen a number of bombshells already. There is a great deal they haven’t seen. But perhaps most important is the public hasn’t seen it woven together. How one thing led to another. How one line of effort to overturn the election led to another, and, ultimately, led to terrible violence. The first non-peaceful transfer of power in our history.

So, we want to tell that comprehensive narrative. And we’re aiming at people, an audience, frankly, that still has an open mind about these facts.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

ADAM SCHIFF: We want to counter the continuing propagation of big lies. And that’s – that’s what our goal is.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about inflation, which is a problem throughout the country. The San Francisco Fed said that the American Rescue Plan contributed about 3 percentage points to inflation. It’s not the primary driver, but a contributor to it.

In hindsight, do you think Democrats should have structured that $2 trillion package differently? Should it have been smaller?

ADAM SCHIFF: No, I don’t think so. And, of course, there have been other studies that have reached the – the opposite conclusion, that it had an even more minimal impact on inflation. What I do think is the cause and —

MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s a non-political group, you know that.

ADAM SCHIFF: Well, no, I understand that, but I – but, again, there are studies that show that it had a negligible impact on inflation as well that are also very credible.

I think that the reality is, though, and this – this, I think, is borne out by all the evidence, is there was a global inflationary pressure, a global problem with supply chains. Our economy, in fact, grew so fast in the United States that that problem is particularly acute because the deemed, when we emerged, you know, so quickly from the pandemic and grew so many jobs, that the disparity between that demand and the supply was so pronounced as to lead to this inflation.

But people are suffering from it. We’ve got to attack it in every way we can. I think, sadly, the Republicans are getting in our way because they would rather have the issue of inflation than really do something about it to help the country. And this is what we’re confronting in Congress and what the administration is battling against.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the administration seems to also be making some foreign policy decisions that keep inflation in mind as well. We know the president is preparing to travel to Saudi Arabia this summer. And he’ll meet with the royal family, including, potentially, Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince, who U.S. intelligence said issued that order to kill or capture a U.S. based writer named Jamal Khashoggi.

This is what you said in February of 2021.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADAM SCHIFF:: I think he should be shunned. I think he should be — I don’t think the president should talk with him. I don’t think the president should see him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Should the president still go to Saudi Arabia and meet with the crown prince?

ADAM SCHIFF: In my view, no. I wouldn’t go. I wouldn’t shake his hand. This is someone who butchered an American resident, cut him up into pieces in the – in the most terrible and pre-meditated way. And until Saudi Arabia makes a radical change in terms of its human rights, I wouldn’t want anything to do with him.

Now, I understand the degree to which Saudi Arabia controls oil prices. I think that’s a compelling argument for us to wean ourselves off of reliance on foreign oil and on oil more globally so we don’t have despites and murderers calling the shots.

But, no, I wouldn’t go. And – and if – if I had to go to the country for some other reason, I wouldn’t meet with the crown prince. I think he should be shunned.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, there is no way to justify a trip like this, if it is an attempt to get Saudi Arabia to put more oil on the market and lower gas prices?

ADAM SCHIFF: Well, in my view, we should make every effort to lower oil prices, but going hat in hand to someone who has murdered an American resident would not be on my list. And I would want to see Saudi Arabia lower their oil prices – or, increase their production, rather. I’d want to see them make changes in their human rights record. I’d want to see them hold people accountable that were involved in that murder and in the torture of other detainees before I would extend that kind of dignity to Saudi Arabia or its leadership.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

Chairman Schiff, thank you for your time today.

We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re joined now by University of Michigan Professor Betsey Stevenson. She previously served as the Department of Labor’s chief economist under former President Obama, and she is in Ann Arbor this morning.

Betsey, welcome to FACE THE NATION.

BETSEY STEVENSON (Professor Of Economics and Public Policy, University of Michigan and Former Labor Department Chief Economist): Hi. Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We have seen more people return to the workforce. We saw that in the jobs number that we just got. The participation rate is back to almost where we were before the pandemic. But you’ve pointed out there are still problems in childcare, in nursing, in some of those care-giving roles.

What does that signify to you?

BETSEY STEVENSON: Yes, I think it’s important to realize when we look — take a look at the labor market, that we haven’t seen all the jobs come back in services. We’ve definitely seen the jobs come back in the goods- producing sector. In the service sector, in health care and education and particularly caregiving, we haven’t seen everyone get hired back. Maybe because people are slow to go back to wanting to consume those services. And it may be that it’s just hard to find people to take those jobs right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you, this is all — all these dots connect, but on the specific issue of inflation and risks to the economy, JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon said a few days ago, the hurricane is right out there, down the road, coming our way. We don’t know if it’s a minor one or Superstorm Sandy. You’ve got to brace yourself.

So, what should consumers be preparing for?

BETSEY STEVENSON: Well, you know, honestly, what everybody wants consumers to do is slow their role a little bit on spending. And that would actually bring some of the – some of the pressure on prices down. And so, you know, the Fed’s raising rates, hoping that consumers will spend a little bit less. All of the, you know, accusations around how much did the stimulus spending contribute, it’s really about, did we give people too much money in their pockets. They’re in some of the best financial shape they’ve ever been. And the result is that demand is outstripping supply a little bit.

So, if people were to pull back voluntarily, then the Fed actually has less work to do. So, I think that message of, you know, brace yourself, is great, it’s sort of what we need to do.

But the reality is that we don’t have to stop job growth in order to stop inflation. We might end up accidentally stopping job growth, pushing ourselves into a recession, but it’s not a fate of complete. We do not have to do that. What we need to do is get demand down a little bit while supply can continues to grow.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Just to go back on what you just said there in terms of fiscal spending, that’s some of the – the congressional money that was thrown at the – the problem, the emergency spending. Do you think that all of this should have been structured differently? Whether it was President Trump or President Biden, should they be sending checks to people at home or was that really the main flaw in the deal they pushed through?

BETSEY STEVENSON: You know, I think that there’s a little bit of a glass half empty, glass half full perspective here. I mean we had unemployment at 6.4 percent when they started designing the American Rescue Plan. And most people predicted that it was going to play out a lot like 2008. In 2008 it took eight years to get unemployment below 4 percent. The Congressional Budget Office thought it was going to take six years to get unemployment below 4 percent. That it was going to take until 2026.

So, of course, the idea was, let’s make sure that we are supporting businesses, that we’re supporting families, so that we can have the fastest economic recovery we’ve ever had. We accomplished that and we added 7.3 million jobs since that American Rescue Plan passed. The problem was, you know, things went even faster than expected.

So, you know, we can look back and say, could we have done the same thing with a little bit less spending? Maybe, or maybe not. Maybe we’d be in a situation right now with 5 percent unemployment, with millions of people who are in jobs today, would still be sitting on the sidelines. And that’s a situation that I think nobody wanted. We wanted to get back to where we were before as quickly as possible. And it’s absolutely clear that the fast action that Congress took, every single time from the beginning of the pandemic to the American Rescue Plan, is why we’ve had the fast recovery that we have right now.

And we just saw it in the Labor report yesterday that there are more opportunities than Americans have ever had before to find the job that’s going to work for them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

BETSEY STEVENSON: They’re getting hired at incredibly high rates. And what we’ve seen for the bottom part of the income distribution is household incomes are up nearly 12 percent, even when we adjust for inflation.

So, when you ask me, should we not have done that? I think we absolutely should have. For most families, they’re better off, and they know it. What we’re scared about is, we see prices rising, we want to know how long this good (ph) time can last.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Exactly. And that’s my question to you, because the Fed can act really quickly here to try to cool things off, but they can’t stop the war in Ukraine, they can’t stop Covid.

Should consumers be prepared that high prices are just going to be with us for the foreseeable future?

BETSEY STEVENSON: Well, I think what we want – you know, I don’t think we should think high prices are going to be here for the foreseeable future. I do think the Fed’s going to take some action. I think they’re going to bring prices – they’re going to bring the inflation rate down, not prices, but they will bring the inflation rate down, but they’re not going to be able to change those relative prices. So, gas is still going to be expensive relative to other things until we end this war in Ukraine.

I mean, look, the price of gas is up $1.50 a gallon since Putin started amassing troops at the border. The Fed can’t undo that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

BETSEY STEVENSON: But what it can do is reduce the rate of price increases on average.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

BETSEY STEVENSON: But I still think you should be thinking about, you know, is it a good time to get a fuel efficient car or buy that electric bicycle.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Betsey Stevenson, thank you for your analysis.

We’ll be back in a moment.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Dr. Walter Koroshetz, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes at the National Institutes of Health. He’s also the co-chair of the NIH’s Long Covid Initiative and joins us from the NIH campus in Bethesda.

Covid survivors often suffer some kind of symptom for weeks, if not months afterwards. How do we know that this is attributable to Covid and not caused by something else?

WALTER J. KOROSHETZ, M.D. (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes Director): The vast numbers of people who are affected, the fact that the symptoms occurred with the infection and, in many cases, persist after the infection, it’s that temporal relationship that really goes to causality.

There are – there are some unusual features, though. Some people get better and then they develop the symptoms back again. There, you know, it’s a little less clear.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And what are the symptoms because I’ve read such a broad array, from brain fog to people having difficulty getting lung capacity back.

Senator Tim Kaine talked about feeling like he had Alka-Seltzer bubbles on his skin.

WALTER J. KOROSHETZ: Sure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What is a symptom of long Covid?

WALTER J. KOROSHETZ: The great difficulty is the fact that the heterogeneity of the symptoms is quite vast. But I think there are some characteristics that make it very unusual. People develop usually more than one symptom. There’s usually a cluster of symptoms. And they are falling into certain categories. So, there are neurological troubles, like you mentioned, trouble concentrating, sleeping, sometimes peripheral nerve trouble, that sense of the bubbling on your skin. Some people have pulmonary difficulties with continued sense of shortness of breath and a cough. Some people have cardiovascular trouble. A lot of trouble with exercise and tolerance. Fatigue is just pretty much with most of the people have trouble. There’s digestive track trouble as well. And people tend to have, you know, a couple here and a couple there, but they are all seemingly tied to having had their Covid infection.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, the NIH recover study was launched in February 2021. You’ve got about a billion dollars or more funding the research you are doing.

What have you found in that study, and when will your results be made public?

WALTER J. KOROSHETZ: We have upwards of around 4,000 people already enrolled, which makes it the largest in-person study of the post-Covid situation. And, right now, we’re collecting data on the different symptoms. We want to understand the underlying biology that’s causing this trouble. This is not a new problem, exactly, because there are other infections in the past that have led to similar symptom causes in people after infection. We’ve never been able to figure that out. This is our chance, I think, to delve deep and to try and understand what is going on in the biologic recovery in the people who don’t make a good recovery.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, at this point, I mean some of the studies that have been done suggest that 60 percent of long Covid patients are female. That neurological symptoms can persist for about 15 months or more.

WALTER J. KOROSHETZ: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The CDC says Covid survivors have twice the risk for developing a pulmonary embolism or respiratory conditions. One in five has a condition that could be due to Covid.

Are all of those things consistent with what you are seeing right now?

WALTER J. KOROSHETZ: I – I think so. This is a significant problem for the country going forward. What we don’t know is how long it will last. We don’t know what the long-term effects, you know, a decade now from what has — Covid has done to our health in the country. It looks as though, right now, there’s also an increased chance of developing diabetes after Covid. We don’t know about heart disease, dementia, all the other diseases that naturally occur, either. But that’s kind of what we have to get at the bottom of.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How is it that we are two years or more into this pandemic, and we know so little? And do we at least know that there are treatments for long Covid?

WALTER J. KOROSHETZ: We don’t have like a magic bullet, a cure for the – for long Covid because we don’t understand what’s driving it biologically. And so to get that, you know, holy grail, we need to understand what is wrong in the body that’s causing these symptoms, clusters of symptoms in people. And for the other infections that have occurred in the past, we’ve never been able to figure that out.

So there’s people with post-infectious mononucleosis, people with post-lyme (ph), they’ve been suffering the same things. There’s a condition call myalgic encephalomyelitis, chronic fatigue syndrome. That looks almost identical to what we’re seeing. And these have existed for decades. We’ve never been able to figure them out. And yet people should have hope because from what we’ve seen so far, people, after Covid, even months after, still are getting better. So, it’s kind of targeting the symptoms and targeting the underlying biology, the two main avenues we’re going after.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And for someone who’s listening to you right now and they think they might have long Covid, what would you advise them to do when they see their doctor?

WALTER J. KOROSHETZ: Yes. Just being forthright with your physician and telling him what your problems are is the first step and not being afraid of it. The knowledge about this condition is spreading like wildfire across the country. So it’s not a brand new thing anymore. It’s called the post- Covid condition. So, it’s actually – it’s actually getting out into the general medical practice now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Doctor, thank you for your research. We will track it. And we know the effects of this pandemic will be with us for some time in many different ways.

WALTER J. KOROSHETZ: Thank you, Margaret. Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s it for us today. Thank you all for watching. Be sure to tune in to our primetime coverage of the January 6th investigation hearings. That’s Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on our broadcast or streaming network.

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



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