Return to Transcripts main page

State of the Union

Trump Threatens to Close Borders; Bombshell Climate Change Report Released; Interview With Iowa Senator Joni Ernst; Interview With California Congressman Adam Schiff; Trump, Chief Justice Spar Over Judicial Independence; GOP Senator In Mississippi Under Fire For Confederate Ties; White House Releases Dire Climate Report Over Holiday Weekend; Obama Praises Beto O'Rourke As 2020 Campaign Heats Up; Interview With House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired November 25, 2018 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Escalating threats. President Trump trying anything he can to stem immigration at the border.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will close entry into the country.

BASH: And threatening a government shutdown over the wall. How will Congress react? We will ask Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst next.

Plus: gearing up -- the Mueller probe closing in on another guilty plea, as one of its first targets is headed toward prison. What are the next steps in the investigation?

TRUMP: The written answers to the witch-hunt that's been going on forever, they have been finished.

BASH: We will talk to a man who will soon lead investigations of the president, Congressman Adam Schiff.

And climate crisis -- deadly fires, floods and disease spreading across the U.S., causing crippling economics. These dire warnings put out by the Trump administration on a holiday weekend. Is anybody listening?


BASH: Good morning. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is on edge.

President Trump returns to Washington today, after a tumultuous holiday week, determined to push his priorities through Congress before Democrats take control of the House and make his life much more difficult.

First on the president's wish list, stemming the tide of immigration at the border. The president tweeted just last night that migrants seeking asylum

will stay in Mexico while their claims make their way through U.S. courts. That would amount to a massive overhaul in U.S. policy, but a leader in Mexico's incoming government is now denying reports of a deal.

Joining me now, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, the newly elected member of the Republican leadership who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Senator, thank you so much for joining me this morning.

SEN. JONI ERNST (R), IOWA: Oh, it's great to be with you. Thank you.

BASH: Thank you.

I want to get right to what the president is talking about with regard to the southern border. He is saying that -- threatening, at least, that it should be closed, the southern border with Mexico, for any reason it becomes necessary.

Is it good to close the border?

ERNST: We would prefer that we keep it open, so let's work really hard to make sure we're addressing the asylum seekers before they actually come over the border.

I think that's the intent of the president, is to divert any issues before they actually happen. So, of course we don't want to see the border closed. But you know what? Safety of our nation comes first.

BASH: So, do you think he's just -- it's an idle threat in order to get Mexico to deal and to potentially allow asylum seekers to be in Mexico, as apparently there are private discussions about?

ERNST: I certainly think the president sees results any time that he does bring up an issue, and he does lay down certain reasons why he's doing what he's doing.

And we are seeing results. We have seen Mexico, their government is now -- they have said that they will keep those asylum seekers in Mexico until they can be sorted out. So I think that we are seeing results. Let's try and divert anything before we actually do have to act on the president's threats.

BASH: The president has also threatened to shut down the government on next Friday's funding deadline if Congress doesn't pass money to fund his border wall.

Would you support shutting down the government if the president doesn't get that money for the wall?

ERNST: I do not want to see the government shut down. Again, if we can avoid that situation, we absolutely need to do that.

And I know that Leader McConnell is working very hard to make sure we get funding in this lame-duck session. So, again, I hope that we can avoid shutting down the government. We have a lot of departments that do a lot of good for our citizens, so we need to make sure we're funding them properly for Congress, but also realizing the goal of the president, and that is to fund the border wall.

BASH: If it comes down to it and the Friday deadline is here and there is no agreement to give the president that border wall funding, do you think the president, you know, would be right in saying, OK, the government should be shut down, even though it is certainly dire for the agencies you talked about?

ERNST: I would -- well, I would rather that he didn't.

Again, we, as Congress, need to work really hard, one, to make sure that we are funding our government. That is our job as Congress, is to fund the government.

BASH: It is.

ERNST: But we also understand that our constituents have stated quite clearly that they want to see our border protected.

The president has been quite clear for a number of years. We need to do our best as well in Congress to make sure that we are protecting our nation and following up on the president's promises.


BASH: I want to ask you about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

The president is standing by Saudi Arabia, even though his own CIA has assessed that the Saudi crown prince at least knew about the murder. I talked to some of your Republican Senate colleagues this weekend who say that they are going to be demanding congressional action.

Will you?

ERNST: I do think we need to look into this further, and we need to understand where the investigations are leading us.

And I'm anxious to hear from a number of our intelligence agencies on this. Now, Saudi Arabia is a great strategic partner for us. It is an important country when it comes to the Middle Eastern region. We know that. They -- they are a great projection platform for us.

We understand that. However, human rights, we also are a very strong nation when it comes to human rights, when it comes to the rule of law. And if there are indicators that the prince was involved in this murder, then we need to absolutely consider further action.

So I would tend to be with my colleagues on this issue, understanding Saudi Arabia, great strategic importance to us. However, we are also a country that believes in human rights.

BASH: Does it concern you that the president seems to be giving the Saudis a pass? ERNST: I wouldn't say he is necessarily giving them a pass, again,

because they are such an important ally in that region.

However, I think at such a time when it becomes necessary, the president also needs to speak directly to the Saudis and say, enough is enough. And if there are indicators coming from those intelligence agencies, he also needs to be involved in some sort of action.

BASH: I want to ask you about something that came out on Friday. It's a new Trump administration report on climate change.

And it paints a really dire future for American agriculture, especially states like yours in Iowa. Higher temperatures, drought and flooding would devastate corn and soy bean production. And this report, which was put out by 13 federal agencies, says climate change could shrink the U.S. economy by 10 percent over the next several decades.

Should you and your fellow senators take action to try to stem climate change?

ERNST: Well, we know that our climate is changing. Our climate always changes. And we see those ebb and flows through time. American agriculture has faced very difficult situations in decades past as well.

I think there are a number of things that we can do. And Iowa certainly is stepping up and is a leader on making sure that we are keeping our air, our water, and our soil healthy. And we lead in things like solar energy and wind energy.

So, that's Iowa setting the standard.

BASH: Is there anything that the Senate should do?

ERNST: And I don't -- I think any -- any time that we are putting regulation out, we need to always consider impact to American industry and jobs.

We want to make sure that it makes sense going forward. There is a balance that can -- can be struck there. And, again, in Iowa, as a state, we have set that standard. And it hasn't been by mandating. It has been by incentivizing.

So, we do have a number of wind energy farms. And Iowa right now draws about 40 percent of its electric from wind energy, great renewable source. We have biofuels and so forth. So, we're setting the standard. I think the rest of the states can do the same.

BASH: Another topic I know you're interested in, which is criminal justice reform.

You support the bipartisan legislation that would lighten some prison sentences for nonviolent drug crimes. It doesn't look like your Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, is planning to bring this up during the lame-duck session. Should he? ERNST: I would love to see this come forward. There are a number of

organizations that have provided some feedback.

And I certainly am looking to look at any textual changes that might occur to the bill. I think we need to involve as many voices as possible. I would love to see the bill come up, though.

One, we need to reduce recidivism in those that are exiting the prison system. And we need to really look at fairness in sentencing for federal crimes. We see an ever-increasing number of women, especially mothers, that are serving time in federal prison. And what does that do to the rest of the family structure?

It does create this cycle. So, I am excited about the opportunity to see the First Step Act move forward through the Senate. I would love to see more support. If there's a way that we can accomplish that and get it done in the lame-duck, that's great. If not, we will drive on in the new Congress.

BASH: You mentioned women.

When the Congress comes back in January, you will be the first woman in the Republican Senate leadership in a decade. At this point -- I want to put numbers on the screen, because they're really striking. A record-breaking 125 women will serve in Congress come January.


Only 19, only 19 are Republicans. Why is the party at such a disadvantage with women?

ERNST: Well, I do think that we are doing great work for women.

We need to do a better job at communicating why we are the choice for women and encouraging women to run for elected office. Of course, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is better for our families. We see more of them keeping that income in their own pockets.

We see a lot of deregulation and companies that are able to expand and provide opportunities for women. We need to be better about communicating all of the great things that we are doing, and then encourage those women to run for elected office.

BASH: Senator Joni Ernst, thank you so much for joining me. Appreciate it.

ERNST: Thank you. A pleasure. Thank you.

BASH: And Democrats just announced another investigation into President Trump.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, is here to talk about his plans.

Stay with us.


BASH: Welcome back to State of the Union.


House Democrats' to-do list just got longer.

House Democrats want to know what is behind President Trump's reluctance to call out Saudi Arabia's crown prince after the gruesome murder and dismemberment of a U.S.-based journalist.

A man who plans to lead that investigation joins me now, Congressman Adam Schiff.

Thank you so much for being here.


BASH: Now, one of the things that you want to probe is the president's relationship with Saudi Arabia.

You told "The Washington Post" you have an idea, that the president is going easy on Saudi Arabia because of his business interests, and that you want to look into that. Do you have any evidence to support that, going in?

SCHIFF: Look, the president is not being honest with the country about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

I think, in part, he feels that, by saying that we don't know or that the world is a dangerous place or everybody does it, he thinks it makes him look strong. It actually makes him look weak. It means that our allies don't respect us, our enemies don't fear us.

What is driving this? I don't know, whether this is simply an affinity that he has for autocrats -- he seems to choose them repeatedly over his own intelligence agencies -- or whether there's a financial motivation, that is, his own personal finances.

We know, of course, he has openly bragged about how many millions he makes from Saudi Arabia. Is his personal financial interests driving U.S. policy in the Gulf? Is it driving us policy vis-a-vis the Russians? We don't know, but it would be irresponsible not to find out.

BASH: And how far are you going to dig on that?

SCHIFF: Well, this will not be the work alone of the Intelligence Committee. It will be our responsibility to make sure that we're getting good intelligence on, not just the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, but also Saudi policy vis-a-vis Qatar, in Yemen, and that the Congress is informed, that we can make good policy decisions, that we can truth-tell if the president is misrepresenting the matter to the American people, so that we're -- we have a foreign policy driven that is by American interests, not by some interest of the president. So, that will be our responsibility. I think others will also have

the responsibility of looking at, are there financial entanglements with the Gulf? Are there financial inducements that the president has not to want to cross the Saudis? That cannot be allowed to drive U.S. policy.

BASH: Specifically on the -- on the murder of Khashoggi, the president says the CIA has not reached a final conclusion on whether the Saudi crown prince at least knew about it.

The top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Jack Reed, says flatly the president is lying about that. Do you know? Have you seen the CIA assessment? And is the president lying?

SCHIFF: I have been briefed by the CIA. And while I cannot discuss the contents of the briefing in any way, I can say that I think the president is being dishonest with the American people.

I don't know why. It's certainly not atypical. Frankly, the president has been dishonest with the country about a great many things. But I think what is most important here is, we need to speak up for our Democratic values.

The president -- you know, it's -- it would be one thing if the president were leveling with the American people and saying, OK, this is what happened, this is what we know, this is what took place, but, nonetheless, we need to maintain a relationship with the kingdom.

But that's not what he's doing. And I just think that it causes our standing in the world to plummet. It telegraphs to despots around the world they can murder people with impunity, and that this president will have his -- their back, as long as they praise him, as long as they do business with him, potentially.

And that cannot be the guiding principle behind our foreign policy.

BASH: There's a report out this week that indicates your committee -- you will be the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in January -- is staffing up on money laundering and forensic accounting experts.

Is that true? And, if so, why?

SCHIFF: I don't want to talk about our staffing.

But it is certainly true that one of the issues that the Republicans would not allow us to investigate when they were running the committee -- and I don't think Congress has looked into this at all, and I don't know that Bob Mueller has -- is whether the Russians have been laundering money through the president's businesses, and this is the financial hold that the Russians may have.

It would certainly explain the otherwise bewildering conduct of the president in Helsinki, many of the president's comments, pro-Putin comments. It would explain why his sons have said at various times they don't need money from U.S. banks, they get all the money they need from Russia or a disproportionate of their assets come from Russia.

Is this, again, the -- the hidden hand of American financial policy, a Russian financial hand? We do need to get an answer to that and be able to tell the American people, yes, it's true, or, no, it's not. The American deserve to know that the president has their interests in mind, not his pecuniary interests.


BASH: You mentioned the Mueller investigation.

You have said that the acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, was -- quote -- "chosen for the purpose of interfering with the Mueller investigation."

Obviously, Whitaker had made some pretty harsh comments about the investigation in the past. But now that he is in the role, have you actually seen him take any concrete steps to impede the probe?

SCHIFF: Well, the fact of the matter is, he's not telegraphing what he's doing. He's not telling us. He's not telling anyone, at least in Congress.

BASH: But you probably -- do you think you would have heard, that there would have been some crying foul from within Justice?

SCHIFF: I don't know that we would hear.

And I don't know what steps he has taken, whether he is merely getting briefed now and deliberating on whether he will allow Mueller to subpoena the president, or whether he will allow Mueller to look into this issue, or whether he's giving Mueller a time certain when Mueller needs to wrap up his investigation. We simply don't know.

But I will tell you this, Dana. We're going to find out. The American people need to know whether this president is obstructing justice, whether he has obstructed justice in the past, whether his appointment of Whitaker was designed to obstruct justice, whether it's having the effect of obstructing justice, whether there was some kind of a discussion, deal, bargain, arrangement, understanding.

BASH: How are you going to find that out?

SCHIFF: Well, we are going to bring Whitaker before the Congress, assuming he's still in his position at the time when Democrats take over. We may bring him in whether he's in that position or not to find out the answers to these questions.

One of the key decisions that the attorney general will make, whoever is in that role, is, when Bob Mueller puts together a report on, among other things, obstruction of justice, will that report be shared with the American people? Will it be shared with Congress?

The American people need to know, they deserve to know whether their president is interfering with the impartial administration of justice. So, we will do everything necessary to find out. BASH: Before I let you go, I want to ask you about Nancy Pelosi.

Nine more of your fellow Democrats in the House are now threatening to withhold their support for her to be speaker of the House once again. That's on top of 16 Democrats who signed a letter on Monday.

I know you support her, but is there any doubt in your mind that she will have the votes, not just among Democrats, but obviously, most importantly, when it comes to a vote on the House floor in January?

SCHIFF: I'm very confident she is going to have the votes that she needs, and, even more, that she is the right person for the job right now.

We don't want to go into this very challenging time, where everything is on the line for the country, where the rule of law is on the line, where people's health care is on the line, without the best tactician, without the best organizer to keep our caucus together.

That is going to be a more challenging task than ever before, because we have a more diverse caucus than ever before. And if there were someone else that had that same package or talents, I would say, support them.

But no one, I think, is better qualified than she is right now. There's no one I want to see more in that role. And I'm confident, at the end of the day, she has the votes to do it.

BASH: Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you so much for joining me this morning.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

BASH: Appreciate it.

And the president is heading back out on the campaign trail in Mississippi tomorrow, as new warning signs emerge for his own 2020 reelection bid -- that coming up.




TRUMP: Hopefully, we have shone some light on the Ninth Circuit.

I know that Chief Justice Roberts, John Roberts, has been speaking a little bit about it. And I think we have a lot of respect for him. I like him and I respect him, but I think we have to use some common sense. This Ninth -- Ninth Circuit, everybody knows it. It's totally out of control.


BASH: President Trump turning his ire on the judiciary branch, feuding with Chief Justice John Roberts after he defended the Ninth Circuit from Trump's attacks.

Let's discuss. Bill Kristol, your thoughts?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I think what the chief justice said was appropriate.

I think, if you're chief justice, you want to say, let's treat the courts with dignity. We know that there's partisanship in the appointment of judges and sometimes in their judging, but we need to also preserve the principle that the rule of law stands above partisanship.

And we shouldn't have a president -- it's one thing for candidates to talk about who they're going to appoint. We shouldn't have a president of the United States just treat the courts as if they're mere political entities.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, I wish that were true, but the courts have become mere political entities.

I mean, the -- the reality is, Donald Trump is reflecting what at least a large swathe of the Republican Party believes. And this is one of the reasons Trump, even though he does say outrageous things, resonates with -- with Republicans, is because we have seen the courts hijack our democracy and take over and -- and make decisions that were supposed to be left to the people to make.

And -- and it's been predominantly left-wing judges. And -- and, so when the president goes out and points to the Ninth Circuit, which repeatedly ignores the Constitution and -- and -- and imposes liberal policies, the fact that the chief justice defended it just has people scratching their head and say, yes, you know, George Bush messed up again with -- with John Roberts.

Here he is taking a position that is -- that is clearly out of step with the truth with respect to how judges adjudicate...



BASH: You know, what was so unusual about this was that Roberts weighed in. But it is not unprecedented for a president to go after the Supreme Court, criticize the Supreme Court. Your former boss, President Obama, did it in a very public forum.

SANTORUM: Right in front of the state of the union.

BASH: In the State of the Union, right in front of the whole Supreme Court about Citizens United.

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's true. Look, presidents -- President Obama did. I think he did it with a different style than President Trump. They sent a message to their supporters and people in the country about what their views are in Supreme Court decisions. The difference here I think is that President Trump has been attacking institutions like the courts for the entire time he has been president. And there is a high probability, higher than any recent president, that there could be a case related to President Trump in front of the Supreme Court, if he's subpoenaed and he doesn't come to testify.

You know, so there are -- there's a real personal aspect here that is different from past presidents. I will say that the reason that I think conservatives don't like John Roberts is because of how he voted on the Affordable Care Act.


PSAKI: And we all know that is the case. There are strong views about courts. There's history there.

John Roberts did what he did, I think, what's important, because he's standing up for the courts. I'm not a John Roberts -- obviously he's a conservative judge but what he did was important -- I think historically important, too.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree with Jen. Look, I think, Donald Trump has been on a rampage -- and I just want to say as of late but I think from the moment he came down that escalator and announced he was running for president. And it's no secret that he has not -- I don't think he's a fan of any institution that does not sit lock and step where he is.

And so, look, if Chief Justice John Roberts was saying everything that Donald Trump was saying and underscoring everything that the president was saying, I don't think he would have an issue. So his only issue here is that he can't direct the courts to do what he would like them to do. I, for one, am grateful.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": But President Obama criticized a Supreme Court decision. Presidents are entitled to that.

PSAKI: Sure. Yes, the difference.

KRISTOL: They can (INAUDIBLE). That is different from saying there are Obama judges and Bush judges, there are Mexican judges. That was his attack during the campaign. And that is a kind of underwriting, I think, of the notion that these judges once they're on the court criticize them if you don't like their decisions but don't criticize them because of who appointed them.

BASH: I want to look ahead to what's going to happen this coming week -- Mississippi there is a run-off for the remaining open Senate seat. The president is traveling down there to campaign for the Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is facing maybe a stiffer challenge that a Republican should in the state of Mississippi from Democrat Mike Espy.

She has had some controversy including a picture I want to put up from 2014. Cindy Hyde-Smith, wearing a confederate hat, carrying a rifle. Problem? SANTORUM: Yes. Look, that's not a good -- that's not a good picture in the world today. And, you know, having said -- having gone through this with Trent Lott many years ago with the whole Strom Thurmond thing, I mean, these issues you have the old south and people from the old south, and you can go back and look at pictures from long ago or, in this case, not that long ago and say, well, you know, traditions have changed and we can't -- we have no -- zero tolerance for anybody tying anything to the old south.

I think that's unhealthy. I think that's not -- it's ahistorical. And to criticize someone for doing that, of something that happened years ago -- look, you look at the person, look at what their policies are, look at the totality of who the person is and Cynthia -- Cindy Hyde-Smith is mainstream Republican. She not some -- she was a Democrat until a few years ago.

She's not some right-wing lunatic. She's someone who is very much traditional Mississippi and I know some people up here in the northeast don't like that but that's who she is.

PSAKI: You know, I think -- I don't know that she is what Republicans want to be representing them. It's not just that photo.

She went to a segregationist high school. She sent her daughter to a segregationist high school, so when she was an adult she made that decision for her daughter not to be in a school with integrated student body.

These are realities that -- those are racist tendencies. I think we should call it what it is. The reality is Mississippi is a deep red state, I think we all know that.

Mike Espy is a moderate. He would have to be to be a nominee there. And he is trying to walk a very difficult tightrope walk here.

He has not come out and strongly criticized her. Not sure that's going to be super helpful for him in turning out a huge African- American vote. And he has to win enough of the white vote that he can combine the two.

So it's a hard road for him but the reality is that do Republicans want her to be representing them in the Senate? I would say that's tough --


BASH: Mike Espy is a moderate. He's also an African-American.

SANDERS: He is also an African-American. You know, my father is from Mississippi and so when you talk about the old south I think Mike Espy is representative of Mississippi. He -- so the idea that someone like Mike Espy can't win this race, I want to remind folks that this got to a run-off because it was so close.


The current sitting senator could not get to the number of votes she needed to to win right out. So that's why we're --

BASH: There were a number of candidates.

SANDERS: A number of candidates. But, I mean, look --

SANTORUM: Including a major -- including a major conservative Republican who ran a couple of years ago.

SANDERS: She couldn't win it straight out. Now we're in a run-off. I mean, those are the facts here.

So, look, I think Mike Espy did. He had a chance at the debate that they had last week to address the senator's comments. And what he said was, look everyone know what she -- knows what she said. She knows what she meant and he moved on to talk about the issues.

I think he can win this. It's going to be a tough road but they've been knocking on doors. A lot of folks have -- not just Donald Trump but a lot of folks on the Democratic side of the aisle have descended on Mississippi. And, I think, we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

BASH: Should Republicans be worried, though? About winning the seat.

KRISTOL: They should be worried about the seat. When I saw the results on election night it was about 42 percent to 41 percent. Most of the other votes went to a right-wing Republican, a Tea Party Republican.


KRISTOL: So you could say, well, that's (INAUDIBLE) Hyde-Smith. Maybe they don't turn out.

You know, Espy can make it close, maybe he can win. He was a cabinet -- Clinton cabinet secretary, a free trader. I mean, when we actually look at the race he sounds more like a Republican on a lot of issues.

He's free trade. He's for American leadership in the world. She sounds much more Trumpy.

I do think it is part of a bigger -- a much bigger national problem for the Republican Party, which is your normal swing voter in Virginia or a lot of swing states across the country, in the upper Midwest, which will be key for 2020. And you look at that and you think that's kind of the Republican Party, that's, you know, sort of wishing that we could go back to the good old days of the confederacy.

It may be unfair in her case but I do think it's a bad image for the Republicans.

SANTORUM: I think that's unfair and I think to say that a candidate from Mississippi is somehow representative of a candidate from every other corner of the country is not fair to the Republican Party.

Look, if Republicans win like we won in Pennsylvania because we nominate people that fit the area that we're running in and --

KRISTOL: Republicans lost this year in Pennsylvania precisely because the national image of the party overwhelmed, you know, fairly reasonable local -- statewide and local candidates. So that makes my point, think.


SANTORUM: Go ahead.

BASH: All right. Sorry. We have a lot more to talk about. We have to take a break.

Up next, we're going to talk about 2020. The campaign is already underway and challengers are facing both sides. Stay with us.




TRUMP: I want great climate. We're going to have that.

Is there a climate change? Yes.

Will it go back like this, I mean, will it change back? Probably. That's what I think.

I'm not denying climate change but it could very well go back.

LESLIE STAHL, HOST, "60 MINUTES": Can't bring them in --

TRUMP: But the scientists also have a political agenda.


BASH: President Trump appears to be at odds over his own administration over their new report warning about the effects of climate change. Did we mention that the administration released the report on Friday of a holiday weekend?

Let's talk about that. Rick Santorum is nodding his head.

SANTORUM: Good for them.

BASH: Good for them?


BASH: All right. Well, at least you guys are transparent about it.

SANTORUM: Well, this is a report generated by people who are in the bureaucracy. These are not Trump appointees. I mean, this report has been generated for --


BASH: Meaning they're nonpolitical?

SANTORUM: Well, no. That -- I think, the point that Donald Trump make is true which is, look, if there was no climate change we would have a lot of scientists looking for work.

The reality is that a lot of these scientists are driven by the money that they receive. And, of course, they don't receive money from corporations and Exxon (ph) and the like.

Why? Because they're not allowed to. Because it's tainted but they can receive it from people who have -- who support their agenda and that's what -- and that I believe is what's really going on here.

No one doubts that the climate is changing. No one doubts that. The question is how much does man contribute, number one?

And, number two, what can man do to actually change it? Those are the two big issues which we really don't talk about.

SANDERS: Let me just say that on the world stage -- we look at it from a global level. Scientist after scientist after scientist is now sounding the alarm that if we do not do something to protect our planet now, 20 to 30 years from now, our life will be very different.

So this is not some ploy by the lobby of the climate elite. I don't even know if that exists. This is facts of what's happening.

California was literally burning last week. California was literally burning. That is not normal. Increased flooding in areas.

SANTORUM: And man had a lot to do with that.

SANDERS: That is not normal.

SANTORUM: Man's policy had a lot to do with that with all -- because of the forestry policies of the state of California --


SANDERS: Oh, OK. So we just need to rake the floor?


SANTORUM: So, the reality is that, yes, there's no question the climate is changing. But to go to say well, scientists have a consensus. The reality is that there is lots of disagreement out there about what is causing this.

No one, again, questions whether the climate is changing. The climate always is changing. And the people that you said, well, we have to do something right now, 25 years ago, they said the same thing. And here we are, 25 years later --

SANDERS: And now California is burning. SANTORUM: Well, California is burning because they have bad forestry policies. They've left a lot of fuel there for people -- on the floor of these forests to allow these fires to get out of control.

BASH: And because a part of what was in this report, again, put out by the administration, was that it has a big economic impact. It will. Ten percent of the American economy, it says, will be devastated and pretty much gone in the next several decades.

That should have some bells ringing and whistles blowing for Republicans and Democrats.

KRISTOL: I mean, what's sad is conservatives have good policy arguments about how to deal with climate change or how to ensure against it, to the degree that it is caused by humans, to the degree that it will have real bad consequences down the road.

You can do carbon taxes. You can do either -- you can replace trade that off (ph) -- the taxes that hurt with the fuel tax.

BASH: You lost some (INAUDIBLE).


BASH: You lost some (INAUDIBLE).

KRISTOL: No, (INAUDIBLE) fail (ph) this (ph). You have to be serious about it. And this is the greatest problem with Trump. He has frozen any attempt by Republicans to think about these issues, whether it's this or foreign issues or immigration I would say.


Whether reasonable debates to be had and reasonable policies where I think you could do -- you can address these problems that are market friendly, nongovernment bureaucracy, intrusive manner that would be more effective in my view. But Trump is just -- is it impossible to even have that discussion with Trump. Trump attacks everyone's motives, attacks everyone's, you know, makes it seem like there's no reasonable position on the other side. And then people -- the Republicans sort of follow him like sheep and the party looks idiotic.

The party, which 25 years ago, when Rick came into the Congress and the Senate, was a party of ideas, some of them good, some of them not so good in retrospect (ph) but a lot of them good and a lot of them interesting. The party -- the Republican Party does not look to any younger person now like a party that's willing to confront ideas (ph) --

BASH: Speaking of younger people I want to turn to -- to talk a little bit of politics and, Jen Psaki, I want to get you on this.

Let's listen to what your former boss, President Obama, said about somebody he sees as a potential future candidate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Impressive young man, who ran a terrific race in Texas. It felt as if he based his statements and his positions on what he believed. The reason I was able to make a connection with a sizeable portion of the country was people had a sense that I said what I meant.


BASH: President Obama was comparing himself to Beto O'Rourke, who ran and lost in Texas for the U.S. Senate seat.

PSAKI: Yes, that's right.

BASH: Was he trying to set him up?

PSAKI: I hope so.

BASH: Prop him up, I should say.

PSAKI: I hope so. Look, I think someone like Beto is the type of person that Democrats would get excited about and here is why.

He is somebody who ran. He had some progressive issues. He had some moderate issues, but everybody -- but Democrats coalesced around him in Texas.

He's somebody who ran to represent all people there. And he ran knowing what he believed in.

And I think what President Obama said is important, no surprise that I'm saying that, but a lot of candidates run on the Republican and Democratic side not knowing why they're running and changing what they stand for. And, I think, what he's saying is run authentically, run for who you are and stand -- and speak to what you believe in. And that is going to be a successful path.

So I certainly am one who hopes somebody like Beto gets in the race. I hope lots of people run. It's good for the Democratic Party but his authenticity --

KRISTOL: That hope will come true. I'm going to make this prediction.

PSAKI: That is true.

KRISTOL: I'm going to make a bold prediction.

Jen Psaki's hope that lots of Democrat who run is going to be fulfilled.


PSAKI: I think it's true. But I think the key piece here is that he is someone who is authentic, you can inspire people and that's the kind of candidate we need to nominate.

BASH: Is that a nod like go Beto? What are you nodding at?

SANTORUM: No. Look, authenticity is absolutely the key here. Everybody trying to look like somebody else or trying to be somebody, and you just got to be who you are and put it out there. And let the chips fall where they may.

That's my advice to all these presidents -- candidates. And I would encourage them all to run. It's an amazing experience. It's a wonderful experience. You won't regret it.

SANDERS: Look, I think we need to have a robust primary on the Democratic side of the aisle. I don't think there's a shortage of people that want to put their name in the ring to run for president. But I will say the path to the Democratic nominee, you have to -- it goes to South Carolina, it goes through the super Tuesday states, and you have to be able to win black women.

But the path to the president could be Donald Trump. Black women have to love you and white women have to like you. And I think that the midterm elections have demonstrated that there is a path for Democratic candidate.

I mean, look the Democrats now hold the governor's mansions in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. I think we can give folks (INAUDIBLE).

BASH: Great conversation. Thank you all.

PSAKI: Thank you.

BASH: Appreciate it.

And up next after a historic election for women -- we were just talking about women -- can Nancy Pelosi get the gavel again? My interview with the woman in a power struggle to become a two-time house speaker.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

A second group of House Democrats is now threatening to withhold support from Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi as she tries to retake the speaker's gavel. For my series, "BADASS WOMEN OF WASHINGTON," I talked to leader Pelosi about opposition from inside her own party and she had some advice as the first and only female speaker for other women.



BASH (voice-over): When Nancy Pelosi first ran for House leadership 18 years ago, her male, Democratic colleagues didn't get it. PELOSI: When people said, oh, a lot of the women are supporting Nancy to run, and they said, well, why? Do the women have a list of things they want us to do? Why don't they just make us a list and give us the list?

This is the Democratic Party in the year 2000.

BASH: Some things haven't changed much.

(on camera): Generally speaking, when a woman is tough, she is called a bitch.


BASH: When a man is tough, he's called effective.

PELOSI: I get some names called, because if you're effective as a woman, then they have to undermine you, because that's a real threat. So I'm probably the target -- more of a target than anybody except somebody who runs for president.

BASH (voice-over): Her thick political skin comes from growing up in a political family in Baltimore's little Italy. When she was six, her father, Thomas D'Alesandro Jr., was elected Baltimore's first Catholic mayor. Her female role model, her mother, was the one who helped make that happen.

PELOSI: There are two things about what I bring with me from my family in this regard. One is to know how to count. That's very important, count your votes to win the election, count your votes to win a vote on the floor. But the other is listen to the constituents.

BASH: That political savvy is essential right now in her fight to beat back a move by some fellow House Democrats to find a different house speaker.

PELOSI: I have a broad base of support in the country, financially, politically, and otherwise. None of us is indispensable.


But some of us are just better at our jobs than others.

BASH (on camera): For most women, frankly, you know, myself included, it is hard to say those words, I am uniquely qualified, I deserve this, I earned this, I can do this better than anyone else.

PELOSI: Dana, I do it because I want women to see that you do not get pushed around and you don't run away from the fight.


BASH: Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us. You can follow our show on Facebook and Twitter.

And up next, as emergency room doctors take on the NRA over gun violence, what we're learning about how to prevent more deadly attacks. Stay with CNN.