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

  • 2024 Republican presidential hopeful former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie 
  • Rep. Tony Gonzales, Republican of Texas 
  • Sen. Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware
  • Austan Goolsbee, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
  • Oksana Markarova, Ukrainain ambassador to the U.S.   

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


MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan in Washington.

Can the border crisis push politicians into action?

And breaking this morning: A new CBS News survey of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire shows a ray of hope for Republicans who want to deny Donald Trump the nomination.

Time has just about run out on a border security deal in Congress this year, but the pressure to do something to control the massive number of migrants looking for a better life in the U.S. is growing.

Along with that, the former president’s harsh rhetoric out on the campaign trail.

(Begin VT)

DONALD TRUMP (Former President of the United States (R) and Current U.S. Presidential Candidate): If you hate America, if you want to abolish Israel, if you sympathize with jihadists, then we don’t want you.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Can any of his Republican challengers catch Donald Trump as the campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire enters the final month?

We have been in those two states talking to voters and have some newsy results from one of those states.

We will talk with former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Then, we will turn to efforts being made on an immigration deal that could help free up funding to Ukraine and Israel. Texas Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales, Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons, and Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova will all be here.

Plus: The year-end forecast from the Fed might actually make Americans feel better about the economy going into 2024. We will tell you why.

It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.

In Washington, lawmakers have been working through the weekend to negotiate a deal on border security and immigration as part of a larger package of aid for Ukraine and Israel. But there no deal in sight yet, no framework, and not enough time to get it done before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, we are less than one month from the votes being taken in the 2024 campaign.

(Begin VT)

FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: On my first day back in the White House, I will terminate every open borders policy of the Biden administration, stop the invasion of our Southern border, and begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I will immediately restore and expand the Trump travel ban on entry from terror-plagued countries.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That kind of talk, according to our CBS News poll findings, is resonating in Iowa, where the former president continues to hold a commanding lead with 58 percent of likely GOP caucus-goers.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is in a distant second with 22 percent support.

CBS News talked to Iowa voters checking out other GOP candidates.

(Begin VT)

WOMAN: I feel like Trump is one to go in and not care and make these changes now that we need done now. Like, the border, I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like in a year. I mean – and I don’t see how we’re not going to be attacked, have some kind of terrorist attack between now and then.

MAN: We’re still faith, family and friends first, you know.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it’s a different story in New Hampshire, where former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has emerged as the closest rival to Trump, now at 29 percent support to his 44 percent. That is up 18 points since our September survey.

DeSantis is next with 11 percent, followed by former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at 10 percent. New Hampshire’s Republican primary is also open to independent voters.

Carol Smith (sp?) attended a Haley rally last week.

(Begin VT)

CAROL SMITH (New Hampshire Voter): I’m a lifelong Democrat. And when I saw Nikki Haley in the first debate, I was overwhelmed. She was concise. She was on point. She said what needed to be said. There was no double-talk.

She needs to be elected, compared to the other candidates in the field. And don’t ask me if it’s because she’s a woman, because that will make my hackles go up.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: For some analysis, we’re joined now by our executive director of elections and surveys, Anthony Salvanto.

Anthony, this is a big move in New Hampshire for Nikki Haley. What’s behind it?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: It is, Margaret. Good morning.

Yes, Nikki Haley is up substantially from where she was this fall. And one reason is, voters tell us they see her as reasonable, as compared to the other candidates and prepared to be president. Her number there is on par with the former president.

Now, she’s helped by the independents, who can vote in the New Hampshire primary. And it’s not a surprise that she and maybe former Governor Chris Christie are looking to do better in New Hampshire, because those independents say they’re more amenable to the idea of a candidate who’s different from Donald Trump.

Now, Trump, for his part, still does well on two key measures. One, he’s seen as a strong leader and, two, that those voters think he can beat Joe Biden – Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Anthony, as we know here, Iowa still a very comfortable place for Donald Trump. What is different about the dynamic there?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: It is.

Well, look, he starts with nearly half the Iowa caucus-goers say they themselves are part of the MAGA movement. That’s a base for Trump. And he’s got more voters there saying that they will only consider voting for him.

Iowa has often been a test for the more further-right-leaning part of the party. No different this year. You look at some policy measures, they have more voters there saying that they’re in favor of making abortion illegal, in favor of ideas like deporting undocumented immigrants. So, all of that adds up to a more sizable lead for the former president – Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Anthony Salvanto, thank you.

And we turn now to one of the Republican candidates for president, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He joins me this morning from Mendham, New Jersey.

Good morning to you, sir.

FORMER GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-New Jersey) (Presidential Candidate): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you say you don’t believe people tell the truth to pollsters, but you have staked a lot on the state of New Hampshire. You’re coming in fourth in our poll. And the governor of that state just endorsed your rival, Nikki Haley.

Do you still see a path to victory there?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Absolutely.

Look, when you look at the poll you just talked about, it has fewer than half of the people it would need to even qualify to be a poll under the RNC polling criteria. It has a margin of error of over 6 percent. I mean, it’s kind of just a foolish poll, with all due respect.

And the fact is that, in the end, look, Governor Haley got an endorsement this week that got her a lot of free media publicity, but it doesn’t change one simple fact. She won’t answer questions about Donald Trump.

In fact, she said just this week that he’s fit to be president.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: This is a guy who last night in New Hampshire used Vladimir Putin as a character witness for the decaying democracy in America.

I mean, Vladimir Putin as an expert in democracy? And someone who says that is fit to be president of the United States?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: It’s – it’s ridiculous.

And so we just continue to move forward, because we know that voters are listening to the real things that are being said. And, when they do, we will do very well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, so New Hampshire won’t be the defining moment for whether you continue or not in this race?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: New Hampshire will be an important moment, Margaret, there’s no doubt, but won’t be – what won’t be a defining moment is your poll of 450 people six weeks before the primary.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, well, it’s not just – it’s not just our – it’s not just our poll, though.

I mean, “The National Review,” conservative leaning…

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Yes, it is.

MARGARET BRENNAN: No, conservative-leaning “National Review” has a piece saying…

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: … that: “Even if Chris Christie pulled off an upset in New Hampshire, there’d be nowhere else for him to go. A hypothetical Christie win would rely heavily on support from independents and Democrats in the open New Hampshire primary. Those conditions would be impossible to replicate elsewhere.”

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well…

MARGARET BRENNAN: “If he’s as committed to stopping Trump as he says, it’s time for him to retire to his tent.”

What do you have to say to them?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, they’re just – what I have to say to them is, they should try to get the – the facts right.

First of all, Democrats can’t vote in the Republican primary in New Hampshire. So they’re wrong about that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Independents can.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: It’s only independents and Republicans.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Yes, well, they – you read me the quote, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: How about you get accurate?

Democrats, you said, reading their quote, can vote. They cannot vote in the New Hampshire primary. Secondly, in Michigan, the very same conditions exist five weeks from the New Hampshire primary, which is that Republicans and independents can vote in the Michigan primary.

So, the fact that they say it can’t repeat – be repeated anywhere, it will be repeated two elections away from New Hampshire. South Carolina happens in between.

And so, look, “The National Review” was campaigning for Ron DeSantis, until they concluded that he couldn’t win. Now they’re campaigning for Nikki Haley. And when they conclude that she can’t win either, then they will move on to somebody else. So, I don’t spend any time worrying about the editors at “The National Review.”

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, noted.

So you have said, though, for Nikki Haley, who we have – not just CBS, other polls have said she is surging in the state of New Hampshire. You have said she’s not a fundamentally serious candidate.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: That’s not true. No, I’m going to stop you. Hold on.

I’m going to stop you right there, because, in the last two polls that have come out, Nikki Haley was at 13 or 14 percent, and I was at 10 or 11.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: So I don’t understand where you talk about surging, Margaret. I know that that’s the talking points up on the teleprompter, but it’s not surging.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m not looking at teleprompter, sir. I’m looking at your face.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: And the only poll that shows any surging is yours.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re up two points from our last poll in September.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said you don’t trust any polls.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You just cited some. So there are some you like.

But let me read you what you have said about Nikki Haley.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: No, no, no. No, I’m – no, no, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: She’s a fundamentally serious – you said…

CHRIS CHRISTIE: No, Margaret, I’m countering – Margaret, I’m countering what you say. Margaret, I’m countering what you say about other polls showing surges, which they do not.

And so if you want to cite them, at least cite them correctly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

You have said Nikki Haley is not a fundamentally serious candidate when she said, as you just said earlier on in our program, that Trump is fit to lead. You said you wished that she cared more about the truth. And things she said about global trade, for example, you say, shows she doesn’t even understand what she’s talking about.

Are you ruling out ever working with Nikki Haley in the future to defeat Donald Trump?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: I’m working on defeating Donald Trump. And I’m the only one in the race who is working on defeating Donald Trump.

When she hasn’t ruled out being his vice president, I don’t think you could take her as a serious contender against him. Ron DeSantis and I have both ruled out accepting the vice presidency from Donald Trump. Nikki Haley has not.

That’s why she’s not saying strong things against Donald Trump, why she’s saying he’s fit to be president of the United States. I mean, the fact is, if you watched that speech last night where he says that immigrants from Asia, Africa and South America…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: … are poisoning the blood of America, I don’t know how you could take someone like that and say that they’re fit to be president of the United States.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you surprised…

CHRIS CHRISTIE: This is language and things that are being said…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sorry.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: … that are just wrong.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You are clearly distancing yourself from that sentiment.

Are you surprised that other Republican candidates and sitting Republican elected officials have not distanced themselves from saying that immigrants are poisoning the blood of this country?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Yes, I am surprised about that.

And – and I – and, look, at the end of the day, you know, these folks are more concerned about their primary challenges in their House seats than they’re concerned about who’s going to be the president of the United States and whether or not they’re fit.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: And when you’re a candidate for president of the United States, and someone’s the incumbent, essentially, Donald Trump having won the nomination the last two times, you need to speak directly about what you think is their fitness.

I’m going to take Nikki Haley’s word at it. She says she believes he’s fit to be president. If you believe someone who says those kind of things and is under four criminal indictments…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: … is fit to be president, then you can agree with her. I don’t.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, well, Nikki Haley, I want to ask you about how some of your opponents who have stood on that debate stage alongside you have talked about her.

You did seem to come to Nikki Haley’s defense after the last debate, when Vivek Ramaswamy (AUDIO GAP) her. You said you think he personally has a woman problem.

Do you think your party has a woman problem? Do you think that a woman could be the lead on a Republican ticket?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Sure, I think a woman could be lead on the Republican ticket.

And I don’t think the party has a woman problem. I think Vivek has a woman problem. And I defended Nikki Haley at that debate, because, when someone on the stage like Vivek treats someone who is as, you know, smart and accomplished as Nikki is and who has been my friend for 13 years, and he says – and compares her intellect to that of his 3-year-old son, the way I was raised, Margaret, is, you stand up and you defend someone who you do respect being treated with disrespect by someone else.

And that’s exactly what I did. I would do it again. And I think it’s the right thing to do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Chris Christie, we have to leave it there for today. Thanks for joining us.

And we have to turn now to the crisis at the border and Texas Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales, who’s with us from San Antonio.

Welcome back to Face the Nation.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES (R-Texas): Good morning. Thank you for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, I want to go into one of the big issues that we know is on the minds for voters and is a crisis right now. You have been pressing for a border deal. And we know senators are still trying to craft one, but it doesn’t look good for the near-term.

What is the real-world impact in your district if there is no deal in 2023?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: Yes, I give a lot of credit to Senator Lankford and Sinema and Tillis and Murphy. Certainly, nothing happens without John Cornyn making his inputs on there.

And I appreciate their – their – their efforts on that. But the time is now. The time for a national security package is now. In my district, it is pure chaos. And people are upset. They’re upset because their lives have been turned upside down. My district is predominantly Hispanic. Many people are first- and second-generations Americans.

But they’re tired. They’re tired of the high-speed chases. They’re tired of their schools going into lockdown. And I would argue, yes, we have been talking about the amount of people coming over that we don’t know who’s in or in our country and the terrorist threat from external, but I talk – I would also talk about a terrorist threat internal.

I think to 9/11 and what happened there, but I also think back to the Oklahoma City bombing. And what is happening is, people in this country are furious at this open border crisis. It’s why it’s so imperative that the Senate and the House work with the – work with the president to come up with a national security package that puts the country above everything else.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

Well, we know from some of the negotiators who’ve been out this morning that they don’t think one is within reach right now. But CBS’ reporting the White House says that it’s willing to accept drastic limits on asylum – that’s raising the credible fear standard, as you know – and a vast expansion of detention and deportation efforts as part of this deal.

Are you supportive of what you have heard is in this proposal?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: I think it’s a good start.

I think the devil’s in the details. When you start talking about deportation flights, I think, you know, are you talking about one flight? Are you talking about 20 flights? Are you talking about deportating (sic) only from along the border, or are we talking in the interior as well?

The credible fear standard, I think that’s an area that most people agree that we need to raise. And I think that’s one. But are we going to add Border Patrol agents? If so, how many Border Patrol agents?

And then is it – the Senate is much different than the House. The Senate is going to have its battle getting to 60 votes. The House is going to have its battle getting to 218.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: And we can do that, but I think there’s going to have to – we have to sweeten the deal.

And part of that is, we have to get to the root of the issue. The root of the issue is labeling cartels as terrorist organizations. And the other piece is holding these smugglers accountable that cause damage and kill Americans. Those are all a couple of things that I could help – that I believe can help get the House to 218 votes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, of the deal that we know is being negotiated right now, I haven’t heard that a terrorist designation of cartels is in it.

Are – are you saying it is being talked about right now?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: I’m saying – I’m saying the deal between the Senate and – and the White House is going to be much different than the House and the overall package.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s what you would want added to it?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: And – and part of that is coming to the realization that – part of that is coming to the realization that there’s going to be to – have – there’s going to have to be some different things in there.

And part of that is, labeling cartels as terrorist organizations will help get the House to 218 votes. I’d also say, too, if the White House is serious about this, the White House, they shouldn’t be sending a secretary, Secretary Mayorkas, to the negotiating table. Where’s the president or where’s the vice president?

These are some areas that I think could increase the level of getting to a real deal.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

Well, if this is crisis, when the House comes back in January, we’re going headlong into another showdown over government funding. If this is an emergency, you would, in theory, want this to move quickly. Has the speaker given you any indication of a timeline if the Senate can get this deal?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: He – he hasn’t. and I don’t think many people have, even on the Senate side.

I mean, the easiest thing to do in politics is just to wait, you know, wait for somebody else to pop their head out and build a framework and – and put it all together.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: But time is running out. We’re – we’re at a national security crisis point now.

I mean, think back to FBI director testifying and saying, every – every light I’m looking at is blinking red.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: You – something similar before 9/11 occurred.

So we have to push now. Part of that is – is, House Republicans, we can’t just wait.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: We have to find 218 votes however we can, and push things over the finish line.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to bring up something that we discussed with our last guest, which was a remark from Donald Trump yesterday, and I want to play it here, because I know you have endorsed Mr. Trump for president.

(Begin VT)

FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They’re poisoning the blood of our country. That’s what they have done. They poison.

Mental institutions and prisons all over the world, not just in South America, not just the three or four countries that we think about, but all over the world, they’re coming into our country, from Africa, from Asia, all over the world.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you endorse the sentiment that immigrants are poisoning the blood of our country?

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: I think immigrants are the lifeblood of our country, and it’s important that we have immigrants.

I have been a proponent of legal immigration. And what this open border crisis has done, it’s put legal immigrants to the back of the line, and it’s – it’s encouraged illegal immigration, and it’s created this rhetoric. And it’s created this anger.

And it’s not just…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: … former President Trump.

I mean, in my district, people are angry, Margaret, all throughout the country. People are angry and seeing all this chaos. It’s why it’s so important that the House, the Senate and the president come together and find a real solution and national – a national security package…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE TONY GONZALES: … that takes care of our allies, also protects us at home, not only from foreign threats, but also internal threats, because the anger is very real.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I realize that. And we need to acknowledge it.

But that phrasing, poisoning the blood, is reminiscent of language the White House says Hitler used, which is why I wanted to get you to specifically respond to that. The Biden campaign – excuse me.

There’s – I have to leave it there. I’m told by my producer we are out of time, Congressman, but we will come back to you, as I know you’re very much tracking these ongoing negotiations.

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

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Democratic Senator Chris Coons, who joins us from Wilmington, Delaware.

Good morning to you, Senator.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS (D-Delaware): Good morning, Margaret. Great to be on with you again.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you.

As you know, there are ongoing talks about changing not just border security funding, but also policy. And from what we are reporting, those two elements, in particular, raising the credible fear standard on asylum and expanding detention and deportation efforts, some in the Democratic caucus are objecting.

Are you OK with it?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Well, I need to know the final deals, but I am likely to support this.

I have spoken with a number of the negotiators. They have been working hard this weekend. I am hopeful that we can reach a conclusion this coming week.

Margaret, for us to fail to come together and support Ukraine in their ongoing fight for freedom against Russian aggression would be a huge gift to Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping and Hamas. There’s a lot of other things in this funding package that I strongly support, interdicting fentanyl at our border, strengthening border security, humanitarian relief, aid to our Indo-Pacific partners, support for Israel.

So, frankly, if we can come together…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: … on a border security deal that gets bipartisan support, I will support it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But some of your fellow Democrats like Bob Menendez have said it’s shameful and selling out migrants and asylum-seekers.

Why is he wrong?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: I understand Senator Menendez’s passion on the part of making sure that our immigration system is safe, legal and humane.

But, as I have often said in talking about the campaign for ’24, President Biden needs to be compared not to the almighty, not to a perfect alternative, but to the actual alternative. And you just played for Congressman Gonzales the stunning, hateful, fascist rhetoric of former President Trump, when he’s talking about poisoning the blood of our nation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: The former president would bring in place not these modest changes to asylum policy, but radical and dramatic changes to immigration policy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: We need to take seriously that there is a border security crisis.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well…

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: And we need to take responsible steps that reflect our values.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that requires more conversation to be had on the other side of this break.

So, please stay with us. We’ll have more with Senator Coons.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Be sure to join us next Sunday for our year-end CBS correspondent roundtable. There’s a lot to talk about as we head into 2024.

And it’s our annual tradition. We hope it’ll be part of yours too.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to Face the Nation.

Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons is back with us.

Senator, I want to pick up where we left off. We’re talking about some potentially tough votes that will have to be taken in the near term with the border, with Ukraine, with Israel and Taiwan, all of those bundled together.

Was it a strategic mistake for the White House to suggest bundling all of those, as the president did in that Oval Office address when he asked for this big national security supplemental?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: No, Margaret.

I think we’re at a moment where, all around the world, our partners and allies need to see that we are strong. President Biden has done a remarkable job of pulling together a global coalition of 50 countries who, in combination, have contributed more to Ukraine’s defense than we have.

And making sure that we’re pushing back on China and their predatory actions in the Indo-Pacific is a key part of our national security.

That there’s also humanitarian relief in this package critical to address the hunger that’s been caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and to come to the aid of Israel, and to provide critically needed support for innocent Palestinians in Gaza, to put all of this into one package recognizes that it’s urgent that we provide a signal to the world that we are still a reliable ally and partner.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.

Specific to Israel, there was a pretty strong signal sent last night by Prime Minister Netanyahu when he answered questions from reporters, and he said he’s – quote – “proud” he prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state and he took credit for putting the brakes on the peace process.

He seemed to be referring to President Biden’s vision for a revamped Palestinian Authority when he said: “among friends, it’s important not to foster illusions.”

That seems to be casting the president’s vision as deluded. Is that acceptable from an ally who’s asking for billions of dollars in aid?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Prime Minister Netanyahu has been an exceptionally difficult partner.

And I think President Biden did the right thing right after the shattering, the horrific attack by Hamas to go to Israel, to stand strong with Israel, and, frankly, to send a firm message to Iran to stay out of this conflict. He deployed two aircraft carrier battle groups to the region, so that Israel could focus on its self defense against Hamas and not face an open attack from Hezbollah on the north or Houthis on the south…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: … or Iranian forces up on the Golan Heights.

What has been a real challenge is the big gap between most of us in Congress and the president who believe a two-state solution is the only way forward, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has done everything he can to undermine a positive vision for peace for Israel.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you have leverage here, though, policy-wise. I mean, the president has been very vocal in defending the prime minister and his choices.

But President Biden did say the bombing is indiscriminate. The U.S. provides billions of dollars, like $3 billion or more a year.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re looking at another 10. Can’t you put in some kind of provision here to force adherence to international law or U.S. law, as Senator Van Hollen is proposing?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Margaret, there already are requirements in American law…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: … that when we send military assistance to another country, whether it’s Ukraine or it’s Israel, that they have to abide by international law.

And President Biden and the senior members of his team who have gone to Israel repeatedly have had some success in pressing Prime Minister Netanyahu to change direction, most recently in reining in settler violence in the West Bank.

Because of elements of Netanyahu’s cabinet, folks like Smotrich and Ben- Gvir, that’s been difficult for Netanyahu to do, but we have imposed sanctions on those who are fomenting settler violence, and President Biden has successfully pressed to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza and a reduction in settler violence.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: This is a difficult, challenging moment.

And I know you’re going to move on to some positive news about our economy…

(LAUGHTER)

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: … about other things we’re getting done in Washington.

But I am so grateful that, in this moment, a seasoned and capable leader like President Biden is the one at the helm in the midst of all these challenging crises in our world.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we should mention you are a Biden surrogate for the campaign, sir.

So, on that – on that note, we’re going to leave it there, because we have to turn to the war in Gaza and our Ramy Inocencio, who has the latest from Tel Aviv.

(Begin VT)

RAMY INOCENCIO (voice-over): Chasing a U.N. aid truck that had just crossed in from Egypt this morning, hundreds of desperate Gazans ransacked it and ran off with boxes.

This morning too, a breakthrough in aid. Israel will now allow U.N. trucks to drive directly into Gaza from the Kerem Shalom crossing, while Israel’s military pressed ahead with its bombardment across the 25-mile strip.

LAYLA MORAN (Ukrainian Parliament Member): They are without water, without food, and there is a sniper inside the compound.

RAMY INOCENCIO: A U.K. member of Parliament said an Israeli sniper has pinned down her Christian family and more than 50 disabled people in Gaza’s only Roman Catholic church.

LAYLA MORAN: There’s a woman and a daughter who have been killed.

RAMY INOCENCIO: Nearby, at Northern Gaza’s last functioning hospital, withdrawing tanks and troops left behind devastation.

(WOMAN SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

RAMY INOCENCIO: “We don’t have houses or relatives anymore,” said this woman. “Where should we go?”

While, in the South, in Khan Yunis, medics say dozens of dead killed by airstrikes arrived at Nasser Hospital over the weekend. Outside, dozens of mourners buried another journalist. Samer Abudaqa worked for Al-Jazeera television. At least 64 journalists have reportedly been killed in this war so far.

And in the West Bank, Israeli soldiers shot and killed five Palestinians over the weekend, with nearly 300 killed since October 7, says the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Overnight, in Tel Aviv’s Hostage Square, thousands demanded their government make a deal with Hamas, “Achshav, achshav” in Hebrew, meaning “Now, now.”

RUBY CHEN (Father of Hamas Hostage): And put the best offer on the table to get the hostages back alive. Alive.

MAN: I don’t imagine it can be any more urgent than it has been before.

RAMY INOCENCIO: Are you angry?

MAN: My anger only aims towards my government.

RAMY INOCENCIO: But after admitting its own troops killed three hostages in Gaza Friday, pressure has hit a new high against the prime minister to get the hostages still alive home.

(PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

RAMY INOCENCIO: “We are working with Qatar and Egypt,” said Benjamin Netanyahu late Saturday, in his first acknowledgment that Qatar’s prime minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, met Israel’s spy chief, David Barnea, in France Friday, two days after Israel’s war cabinet reportedly denied his offer to restart talks.

(End VT)

RAMY INOCENCIO: And here at Hostage Square, we are learning of more international calls for a cease-fire coming from the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom and Germany, which is a major policy shift.

And adding to the pressure, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is expected to arrive here tomorrow.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s Ramy Inocencio reporting from Israel.

Our producer Marwan Al Ghoul has the latest on the devastation in Gaza.

(Begin VT)

MARWAN AL GHOUL: Good morning.

I am here at this point between Rafah and Khan Yunis city behind me. I can hear fire exchange and bombing on this city, which is the main target for the Israeli troops. In other direction, Rafah still have receiving more and more fled people from Khan Yunis city and in the north of Gaza Strip.

This city, it’s crowded of million of new displaced people in this city. If I want to talk about journalists, journalists were gathering near Kuwaiti hospitals. They fixed some tents for them and for their families.

MAN: They’re not even tents. I mean, they’re just some plastic and some pieces of wood that we put together, trying to create what looks like it and something to protect us from the cold, even though they don’t.

MARWAN AL GHOUL: Two days ago, the press family lost one of the most well- known cameraman, Samer Abudaqa, from Al-Jazeera news channel.

Here, I’m again hearing bombing in Khan Yunis city behind me.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s Marwan Al Ghoul reporting from Gaza, where he lives.

Our Lesley Stahl spoke with Yarden Roman-Gat, one of the Israelis taken hostage during the Hamas attacks on October 7 and held for nearly two months, for tonight’s 60 Minutes.

(Begin VT)

YARDEN ROMAN-GAT (Freed Hostage): As a woman, the fear of getting raped or the variety of the act…

LESLEY STAHL: Things that could – yes, yes, yes.

YARDEN ROMAN-GAT: … could never get off your mind, never.

It’s just not an option, because as long as you’re there, you’re hopeless. You have no protection. You cannot object to anything. It could cost you your life. And that fear was not as extreme the whole time, but it will never go away. It’s always there.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: For more of their conversation, tune in to 60 Minutes tonight after football.

We will be back in a moment.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Now to the economy and some good news.

The federal reserve predicts slowing inflation could lead it to make three interest rate cuts next year, which means borrowing costs for mortgages and auto loans could be lowered. It also predicted inflation will fall to 2.2 percent, a rate pretty close to meeting the Fed’s target.

With more, we’re joined now by Austan Goolsbee, the president and CEO of the Chicago Federal Reserve.

Good to have you here.

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE (President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago): Great to see you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Or down the line, I should say.

You were one of the people who voted to keep rates where they are at this 22-year high. What’s going to drive the decision of when to cut and buy how much?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: Well, what’s – what should drive the decision, in my view, about monetary policy is, are we meeting the job that the Federal Reserve Act gives us, which is to say maximizing employment and stabilizing prices?

That’s what we call the dual mandate, that there’s two sides to it. And, over the last several years, the United States has done very well on the employment front and pretty badly on the inflation side.

What will determine what – what we should do with rates is, can we get the inflation back down to target? And we made a lot of progress in 2023. But I still caution everybody, it’s not done. And so the data is going to drive what’s going to happen to rates.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s not done, you say. But you – you said back in November the economy was on a golden path. That sounded like that…

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: I said it could be, yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It could be. OK.

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: And – and I still think we could, yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So – OK.

So it is still possible to have a soft landing, in other words, to avoid that recession, so many had feared. So it’s still too early to declare victory?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: Yes, for sure it’s too early to declare victory.

We have made a lot of progress. So the thing to remember is, every time in the past that the Fed or other central banks around the world have had to get inflation down a lot, it has always – basically always been accompanied by a major recession.

In 2023 – we still get one more month of data, but 2023 looks like it’s going to end up being a very substantial reduction in inflation without a big increase in the unemployment rate. That’s the golden path that I talked about.

But we’re still above the target.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: We got to get inflation down to target before it – until we are convinced that we’re on path to that, it’s – it’s an overstatement to – to be counting the chickens.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. So, you’re good news, but you’re cautious in that assessment.

(LAUGHTER)

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: Nice. Yes, good news, but cautious.

MARGARET BRENNAN: One of the – yes.

One of the – the things though that came out that was not a positive statistic, the federal government said on Friday that homelessness in the United States increased 12 percent year over year. They pinned that as being driven by soaring rent costs and the end of pandemic assistance. How do you weigh a data point like that?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: Well, that’s a concerning data point. And we’ve got other concerning data points, for sure.

You see delinquencies going up on – for both credit card debt, auto lending and small business lending. We – we’ve got to take the economy in a totality. We have a straightforward mandate, like I say, which is maximize employment and stabilize prices.

We have just got to keep taking readings of the economy as we go along and – and – and I think decide meeting to meeting in a – in a data-dependent way.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What are your thoughts about the degree to which we need to be concerned about geopolitical risk?

You still have this war in Ukraine. You still have instability in the Middle East beyond Israel, now potentially impacting shipping through major ports in the Middle East. How do you weigh that degree of risk to the outlook that you have?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: It’s – it’s definitely a degree of risk.

In some sense, part of the job of a central banker is to be worried about everything.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: Paul Volcker, my old friend and mentor, used to say that there was no silver lining that he could find that was bright enough that he could not find a dark cloud that would be big enough to block it out.

So, if oil prices were to start rising substantially again, the way they have in – in the last few years, that would be a major supply shock problem facing the economy. If we saw expansions of wars, if we saw a collapse in China, if we saw a series of things around the world, or if we got big credit crunch in the United States and deterioration of the banking sector, all of those would be threats.

And those kind of external shocks, we call them, they have derailed easier soft landings than this in the past in 1990 and 2001. So we just – we – we just got to monitor those. And it’s the old Midwest way. There is no – there is no bad weather. There is only bad clothing. We – we prepare and – – and we take the conditions as they come.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Austan Goolsbee, thank you for giving us your perspective.

We’ll be back in a moment.

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: Thank you, Margaret.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: With time running out on any additional aid for Ukraine from Congress this year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a last-minute visit to Washington last week to make his case for more support for the fight against Russia.

Oksana Markarova is Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States and is back with us.

Good morning to you, Ambassador.

OKSANA MARKAROVA (Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States): Good morning. Thank you for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden said Congress is about to give Putin the best Christmas present he could get.

How urgent is it that this funding be approved this year?

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, time is of the essence, and time is already running out, because, as you know, we already do not have any programs of support except for some presidential drawdown package, but nothing in the budget support, nothing in humanitarian or energy support.

It’s great that we have prepared, thanks to the big support from the U.S. And you see already all these attacks on Kyiv, on – on other places in Ukraine. They’re very similar to last year, but, this year, they were not able to cause blackouts for a long time.

And that’s all because we together worked so much and because American people helped us to prepare for this. And it’s so much cheaper to prevent it, rather than to repair it. But we really are counting on our friends and partners here. And, you know, I – I believe in Christmas miracles.

I really hope that this Christmas will show that we, all civilized people, all people who believe in freedom, that we can stay the course much better than autocrats, because they are uniting.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The White House says there’s about a billion dollars left. And then you mentioned drawdown. That’s $4.6 billion. But they’ve indicated they don’t want to get into that because it could impact U.S. military readiness.

Would they? Do you know?

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, first of all, the reason why we really need all three programs, even for the defense assistance, like USAI, a specific program for Ukraine and foreign military sales, because there is a lot that we were buying – the U.S. was buying from American producers here in the U.S., like drones and rockets and interceptors for the air defense.

And I can go on and on. And you cannot take it using the drawdown. You need to go to industrial base in order for them to produce it. So, yes, we do have this drawdown authority. And we are trying, together with your military, to find whatever is there to still be used, and not go below your critical readiness.

But it’s tough. So, we really – all the eyes are on – on Congress now. And we really hope that this progress that we hear about, and, you know, they will be able to find a solution. And, look, as the former minister of finance, I negotiated many budgets with my Parliament.

I understand the importance of the local priorities, and I understand how important the border discussions are. We can just only pray and hope that there will be resolve there, and that the deal that they will be able to reach will allow the fast decisions also on the support to Ukraine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, as you mentioned, the border and the lack of an agreement is holding up everything else, because the idea is to package the border with Ukraine aid.

During the visit to the United States by your president this past week, he did give an interview to FOX News, and he spoke about his meeting with Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.

And President Zelenskyy said: “Decision in December, decision in January, decision in February, the big difference is, it’s not about financing. It’s about the morality.”

Republicans heard your president say that and are now arguing he was telling us, it’s not all that urgent, we have a few more months.

Are they misinterpreting your president?

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: No, I think the president has been very direct and very open in all the meetings, from president, to vice president, to Senate, to speaker, describing how difficult the fight is, how many combat operations we have on a daily basis every day, including today, on how many drone attacks and other attacks, missile attacks, on Ukraine we have, 34 Shahed drones yesterday, just already seven today.

He also said that the time was of the essence. And he mentioned all the, you know, results that we were able to achieve, not only in 2002 on the ground, but also in 2003 in the Black Sea. But he was very clear that we need to stay the course and that we need money and support and – and especially the security assistance, and we need it in October, in November.

So, no, he was very clear. But, of course, we cannot get into the internal situation. We cannot tell people what to do. We can only ask Americans to continue supporting us. So, time is important.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, the White House says there’s not a stalemate in Ukraine, and the White House declassified intelligence saying Russia lost 87 percent of their military personnel to injury or death since this war began.

Those are measured as successes. But, as you know, Ukraine’s military hasn’t made the gains that the U.S. had been hoping for on the battlefield. How do you change the trajectory?

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, in effect, we have.

So to be able to hold such a large land line and not allow Russians to take any of our villages, and also have the progress on the now left bank also of Dnipro is already a huge success, comparing our armed forces, comparing the capabilities.

Now, we had a lot of success in the Black Sea. And I think that’s what a lot of people overlook, that since June and July, when the summer campaign started, we were sitting here with you discussing how we were praying for Russia not to pull out from the grain corridor, so that we can use it. And we were completely at the mercy of them.

We don’t even need to ask them now. We have the grain corridor com – because we have, A, degraded their fleet so much. We got them all the way to the – to the – to their own ports from the Crimean ports.

And it’s a huge counter – progress in the counteroffensive.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will continue to watch that.

Ambassador, thank you for being here.

We’ll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s it for us today. Thank you for watching.

Until next week, for Face the Nation, I’m Margaret Brennan.

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