On this “Face the Nation” broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Rep. Adam Schiff, Democrat of California
- Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, Republican of Pennsylvania
- Rep. Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas
- Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District
Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan in Washington.
This week on Face the Nation: We are in an intensely divisive time in America, with new questions about possible criminal misconduct by former President Trump and concerns about his handling of some of our nation’s most sensitive national security secrets, as we struggle to deal with these unprecedented challenges to our democracy.
Then: On the eve of the one year anniversary of the U.S. pullout and the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, we will have an exclusive look at a new report about what went wrong, as a new U.S. intelligence assessment says al Qaeda is no longer a threat there.
All that, plus a look at the country’s teacher shortage and its potential impact on our children.
It’s just ahead on Face the Nation.
Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.
It has been six days since the FBI executed a search warrant and seized at least two dozen boxes of material from former President Trump’s Florida home and resort, Mar-a-Lago. The dramatic developments each day since have left us with more questions than answers.
Here’s what we know. The Department of Justice is investigating Mr. Trump for potential criminal action. A federal court authorized a search warrant after finding probable cause of impeding the investigation, as well as the removal of classified national security records and violation of parts of the Espionage Act.
According to the Presidential Records Act, the removal of materials is illegal, whether they’re classified or not. The FBI seized 11 sets of classified documents, some marked top secret and above, including highly sensitive intercepts, plus material related to the president of France and Trump confidant Roger Stone’s clemency.
While in office, presidents can declassify most anything, but White House lawyers establish a paper trail. It is unclear if one exists for these items. The search was conducted with two of Mr. Trump’s lawyers on site, but was not public knowledge until the former president announced it on his social media platform, TRUTH Social, Monday night.
It was the first of many postings with the familiar charges of hoaxes, witch-hunts and other false claims. The outrage from his supporters was fast and furious.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-South Carolina): I want to know what — you know, what led to this. I think every Republican believes that the FBI, when it comes to Trump and other organizations, have lost their mind.
SENATOR RICK SCOTT (R-Florida): This should scare the living daylights out of American citizens. The way our federal government has gone, it’s like what we thought about the Gestapo or people like that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Threats against law enforcement spiked dramatically online, using extreme rhetoric not seen since the days leading up to the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY (FBI Director): Any threats made against law enforcement, including the men and women of the FBI, as with any law enforcement agency, are deplorable and dangerous.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thursday, Ricky Shiffer, a Navy veteran who said he was at the Capitol on January 6, was shot and killed by police following his armed attempt to breach an FBI field office in Cincinnati, Ohio.
While the standoff was Shiffer was still ongoing, Attorney General Merrick Garland offered a rare public statement defending the search.
MERRICK GARLAND (U.S. Attorney General): I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter. The department does not take such a decision lightly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: A court then agreed to Garland’s request to unseal the warrant. Trump’s lawyers did not object. That warrant gave us some insight Friday into what was seized.
The DOJ investigation began months ago following the National Archives’ discovery that some of Mr. Trump’s presidential records had not been turned over, as dictated by law. The former president acknowledged he’d taken material to Mar-a-Lago after he left office and returned 15 boxes in January.
Soon after that, officials disclosed that classified national security information was among those materials. This spring, a federal judge issued a subpoena in search of further records that investigators believed he failed to turn over.
On June 3, federal agents returned to Mar-a-Lago to discuss additional material that was missing. CBS News has learned that a Trump attorney certified in writing after that meeting that all classified materials had been removed from Mar-a-Lago. DOJ suspected that was not the case, which triggered the FBI’s retrieval last Monday.
And there is still a lot we do not know. News organizations, including CBS, have filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the release of the underlying affidavit that would outline evidence and give us insight into why DOJ officials believe a crime possibly has been committed.
We begin today with chief election and campaign correspondent Robert Costa, chief national affairs and justice correspondent Jeff Pegues, and congressional correspondent Scott MacFarlane.
You have all been busy.
Jeff, I want to start with you and the news overnight that Homeland Security has issued this rather frightening bulletin, frankly, using language talking about threats to law enforcement around the country. Our Nicole Sganga obtained it.
And, according to the bulletin, it says the threats are specific, including a threat to place a so-called dirty bomb in front of FBI headquarters. And there are calls for civil war.
What are your sources telling you about the risks?
JEFF PEGUES: Yes, this is, as you noted, one of the most chilling bulletins I have read. And I have read numerous bulletins dating back to the days of al Qaeda and ISIS.
And so this is the domestic threat here. And, according to the bulletin, which I was just looking at, again, part of the concern are some of these drivers, public officials making statements in support of the search at Mar-a-Lago — or against, criticizing the search, criticizing the FBI.
And so you have FBI officials right now concerned about the safety of their agents, employees in general, and then, as you noted, that dirty bomb reference. So there is a lot of concern around the country. And this is the kind of bulletin that will go out to all police agencies, so that they are intent on sharing information, because, frankly, you don’t really know where the threat is really going to come from.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And it mentions continued concern going into the midterm races as well.
Robert, I want to go to you now. We were talking about this investigation and putting it in the scope of all the different probes. And we tallied them up here. For the former president, there are at least three investigations at the federal level that we know about, one state probe in New York into the Trump Organization. a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, is looking at his attempts to overturn 2020.
We’re not even talking about what’s happening on Capitol Hill. These are investigations under way right now.
This, however, triggered the most significant law enforcement response to date. What are your sources telling you about what the FBI has actually found?
ROBERT COSTA: It’s such a good reminder, Margaret, that among all these investigations that are ongoing, this one, going back to the spring, has been very serious.
And the attorney’s general statement underscored that. It began with a subpoena in the spring and then the search, the meeting in June. Then that led to the ultimate search in August at the president’s residence.
They are looking into the boxes that he had, personal materials, as well as classified materials, allegedly, that were then included as part of the trove of materials and documents that went to Mar-a-Lago. They are highly alarmed behind the scenes about the possibility that, as you have reported, intercepts, sensitive information about national security, defense projects were part of what the former president brought back to Florida, without checking with other people.
Some associates of the former president say, hey, he is someone who sometimes wasn’t organized. But, for the Justice Department, that’s not going to be an excuse. That’s part of their investigation. What does he have? Is it a threat to the national security? And they want him to give it back. But it’s already a legal battle.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And why wait 18 months to act? What triggered this tremendous response this week? We have so many questions.
I want to get to Scott and come back to you on the politics of this, because we’re already there.
But, Scott, on the threat levels, I know you have been watching the level of concern out there preceding the events of this week. When we look at the president — the former president’s statements, he uses words like siege, attack, that the FBI is really targeting him. He has not called for calm. He is continuing to use this rhetoric.
What impact is there?
SCOTT MACFARLANE: Immediately, we see this acceleration of ferocious chatter on social media platforms, on chat groups from potential extremists targeting the judge who signed the search warrant.
They’re trying to deduce who the FBI agents were who were part of that search. But that’s just an inflammation of an already dangerous situation stemming from January 6. The prosecution of the Capitol riots has created its own radicalization. The D.C. federal judges handling the January 6 cases are getting vile, vulgar death threats.
The people who are part of the investigation are getting threats. The prosecution itself is radicalizing people. Now we have a force multiplier, a search of Mar-a-Lago.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And what’s so interesting here is, we’re not just talking about rhetoric online.
For Homeland Security to have gone out, taken what you laid out, and then issued a bulletin saying, this is a real, specific threat, that shows that this is increasing. This isn’t just people talking out of school online.
JEFF PEGUES: Well, exactly.
I mean, look what happened in Ohio on Thursday with this Ricky Shiffer, who was — who took action, tried to attack this FBI Cincinnati office, but was shot and killed. But it is the kind of threat that officials are concerned about.
These are lone actors who are motivated by some of the drivers, which is these public statements from public leadership that they support, they endorse. And what you are hearing are these calls for armed rebellion, and are — there are people out there who obviously have access to the weapons to really cause some damage.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Which is deeply concerning.
Robert Costa, you have been reporting that the 45th president would like to run again and is making some plans to run for president in 2024. How does this impact that?
ROBERT COSTA: This is factored into his decision in some way.
I’m told by people close to him this weekend that he’s still moving toward an announcement, despite all of the legal challenges he is facing, potentially…
MARGARET BRENNAN: So this isn’t damaging?
ROBERT COSTA: Well, we’re not saying it’s not damaging. This could be extremely damaging.
We have so little visibility into what he put in these boxes. Was it a grave national security threat? It could be politically explosive down the line. But we don’t want to get ahead of that in terms of the political impact.
But in no way does it seem to be deterring him from moving toward a run. What we are seeing behind the scenes also is, he’s arguing that he has some kind of declassification. I spoke with National Security Adviser, the former one, John Bolton, who worked for Trump.
And he said any argument that this was somehow declassified won’t hold up, because he said the president had the responsibility to take care of the records he was given from intelligence briefers. Even if he brought them back to the residence, he had a responsibility to make sure they were filed properly and that, even if he didn’t have the intent of committing a crime, that it was the wrong thing to do.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And there’d be a paper trail.
This is an ongoing story. I know all of you are busy. Thank you.
We want to go now to California Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. He’s the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
And his book “Midnight in Washington” is now out in paperback.
Good morning to you, Chairman Schiff.
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (D-California): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You are typically told about covert operations, ongoing national security threats. Do you have any sense at this time whether the information that Donald Trump had in his Florida residence posed any kind of threat to national security?
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, all I know about the actual materials is what was in that search warrant inventory.
But, from that alone, you can tell there was a serious risk to disclosure, potentially, of sources and methods, because some of those documents were marked top secret, sensitive, compartmented information.
That is among the highest of designation in terms of the extremely grave damage to national security that could be done if it were disclosed. So, the fact that they were in an unsecure place that is guarded with nothing more than a padlock or whatever security they had at a hotel is deeply alarming.
And I have asked for, along with Chairman Maloney, a damage assessment by the intelligence community and a briefing to Congress.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Will you get one? Have you heard from the director of national intelligence?
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: I have not heard back yet. But I’m confident we will get one. And I’m confident the intelligence community will do a damage assessment.
That is, I think, fairly routine when there has been the potential risk of disclosure of national security information or classified information.
And what is, to me, most disturbing here is the degree to which, at least from the public reporting, it attempted — you know, it appears to be willful on the president’s part, the keeping of these documents after the government was requesting them back. And that is — adds another layer of concern.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, if there were truly materials of this classification level — and it’s been publicly reported elsewhere that there were materials related to nuclear programs, for example — if there was that sensitive level of information being held, why did Justice Department officials wait 18 months after the end of the Trump presidency?
What changed that made this immediate?
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: I don’t know.
But if the Trump people represented that they provided all the classified or national security information, and didn’t, that’s a serious problem. I can tell you, anyone in the intelligence community that had documents like that marked top secret, SCI, in their residence after authorities went to them, they would be under serious investigation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, the president has broad declassification authority when he is in office, but typically a declassification is memorialized in some way.
Can you seek out the answer to the question of whether there actually is record of whether Donald Trump declassified that? That’s his defense here, that anything he had, he had already declassified.
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Yes, we should determine whether there was any effort during the presidency to go through the process of declassification.
I have seen no evidence of that, nor have they presented any evidence of that. The idea — first of all, a former president has no declassification authority.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: And the idea that, 18 months after the fact Donald Trump could simply announce, well, I’m retroactively declassifying or whatever I took home had the effect of declassifying them is absurd.
But, nonetheless, the statutes the Justice Department are asserting in the search warrant don’t even require that they still be classified. If they would be damaging to national security, it’s a problem. It’s a major problem.
And, finally, I would like to add, the reaction of many of my Republican colleagues and those around the former president to attack the FBI over this and endanger FBI agents is just another damaging level of irresponsibility.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Also, we learned this past week that your colleague Congressman Scott Perry, who leads the Freedom Caucus, the Justice Department seized his cell phone as part of their investigation into the attempts to overturn the election results in 2020 and that slate of fake electors.
The committee looked into his actions and the slate of fake electors. We heard during the public testimony about that and some conspiracy theories that he had been talking to Mark Meadows, the chief of staff, about.
Are those two parts of those investigations overlapping here?
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, to the degree that the Justice Department appears to be investigating the fake elector plot, then, yes, our investigations would very much be overlapping.
What is to me most striking about the seizure of that phone is, in order to do that, of course, they would have to make a showing to a judge or grand jury about there being probable cause that there was evidence of a crime on that phone. And the fact that it was a member of Congress’ phone, I think, would make the Justice Department all the more certain, or need to be certain, that they had the probable cause.
And that also suggests the Department thinks that this fake elector plot was a violation of law, which I think it certainly was. So, I think it’s very significant in all those respects.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes, and just that is its own federal investigation there.
On another topic, I want to ask you. We are coming up on this one-year anniversary of the U. S withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover of that country. You said at the time of the withdrawal that you would have liked the military to stay on as long as necessary to get Americans out and fulfill our obligation to our allies. You had pledged vigorous oversight.
We haven’t seen the White House or State Department after-action reports on this. The country is just in utter devastation under Taliban rule. Did it really have to be this bad?
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, I certainly don’t think the withdrawal had to go as it did, and the loss of American lives during the withdrawal, and the degree to which it took months and months, and we continue to try to help people escape from Afghanistan, I think could have been handled differently.
But I do think that we have demonstrated, the administration has demonstrated, with the killing of Zawahiri, the number two in al Qaeda under Bin Laden, that it retains the capability, much as it said it would, a year later to go after those that threaten the country wherever they may be, in this case, the heart of Kabul.
I think the killing of Zawahiri shows both the danger and also our capability, the danger in that I think clearly high elements of the Taliban government had to know that he was there and were giving him safe harbor,.
But, at the same time…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is al Qaeda an ongoing threat?
REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: … we have demonstrated we can and will go after anyone.
Al Qaeda is an ongoing threat. I think, though, that the threat from al Qaeda is probably greater outside Afghanistan than it is in Afghanistan.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Chairman Schiff, thank you for your time this morning.
We’ll be back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick. He’s a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor, and joins us from Philadelphia.
Congressman, good morning to you.
I wonder, as a former agent, you’ve seen the warrant now, as we all have. What does it indicate to you about a potential crime that was committed?
REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN FITZPATRICK (R-Pennsylvania): Yes, thanks for having me.
Well, I think it can be summed up in one line, Margaret. It was an unprecedented action that needs to be supported by unprecedented justification. Part A was an unprecedented action. Yes, we know that. This has never happened before in our country’s history.
To the second question, was there unprecedented justification, that remains an open question. And we know exactly where to look. And that is the affidavit of probable cause, the one document that remains under seal.
So, because we don’t have that information, I have encouraged all my colleagues on the left and the right to reserve judgment and not get ahead of yourself, because we don’t know what that document contains. It’s going to answer a lot of questions.
When we had the press conference on Friday with my fellow Intelligence Committee members, I telegraphed to the press then, I said, the document that you’ll see unsealed today, which was the affi — I’m sorry — the warrant, the rider to the warrant, and the property receipt, are not going to shed a whole lot of light beyond the statutes that were being investigated.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you voted for a bill in 2018 that made it a felony to possess documents or materials containing classified information.
President Trump signed that same bill into law. Did he break it?
REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN FITZPATRICK: Well, that’s what we got to find out.
I mean, nobody is claiming and nobody should be claiming, and nobody should be claiming…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the receipt says that he had classified and top secret and above information in boxes at Mar-a-Lago.
REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN FITZPATRICK: Right. Right,
Yes, nobody’s claiming that it’s OK to have — certainly, I’m not — that it’s OK to have classified information anywhere outside of a SCIF. I know that better than anybody, given my former profession and my current committee assignment.
But the problem is that the administration is disputing a lot of what’s being publicly reported. So, the affidavit will answer that question.
It will be able to tell us who is providing misinformation. Is it the prior administration or the current administration? And we need to we need to get that clarified.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, as you know, news organizations are trying to get ahold of that affidavit. But those aren’t normally released during an active investigation. Is it appropriate to release it now in the midst of an investigation?
REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN FITZPATRICK: Well, that’s — I would say this, Margaret.
At the very least, if they don’t want to unseal it for public consumption, they can certainly bring it into the SCIF, to bring it to our House Intelligence Committee members. We, after all, do have oversight over the entire intelligence apparatus.
So that’s what’s puzzling to us, Margaret. Myself, Mike Turner, a fabulous member of Congress from Ohio, who’s taking a very measured approach as well, we understand the dynamics at play here. We just want to get to the truth.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN FITZPATRICK: That’s it, objective truth. We’re not taking any angle from any side here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And I want to get to some of that truth and fact, as we know it, more on the other side of a break.
And I also want to talk to you about the threats against law enforcement that we are seeing, so please stay with us.
And we’ll continue our conversation in just a few minutes. We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: If you can’t watch the full Face the Nation, you can set your DVR, or we’re available on demand.
Plus, you can watch us through our CBS or Paramount+ app. And we’re replayed on our CBS News Streaming Network at noon and 4:00 p.m. Eastern.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick and reports from Afghanistan on one year since the U.S. withdrawal and the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.
We continue our conversation now with former FBI agent, now congressman, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.
Congressman, Breitbart, a conservative website, published the names of the FBI agents who went to Mar-a-Lago and are related to that, and there are now a spike in online threats against them.
I want to play for you how some republican Party leaders have described events this week.
WOMAN: The FBI raid of President Trump is a complete abuse and overreach of its authority.
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): We’re very strong supporters of law enforcement and it concerns everybody if you see some agents go rogue and if you see an agency that doesn’t have the right checks and balances at the top.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that responsible to refer to these law enforcement officials as going rogue?
REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK (R-PA): Yes, I think, Margaret, and I’ve urged all my colleagues to – to make sure they understand the weight of their words and understanding what we don’t know yet. And that’s why that probable cause affidavit is so important.
And the unfortunate reality, Margaret, I mean in my few short years in Congress, I’ve seen an undermining of all three branches of government lead to threats of violence and acts of violence, starting with the attack on my fellow baseball team members on the baseball field, to threats to Supreme Court justices, to threats to law enforcement, both local and during the unrest in the summer of 2020.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
BRIAN FITZPATRICK: And now to federal law enforcement. All of it’s unacceptable.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. And now there’s a bulletin warning law enforcement of the level of threat right now.
That’s why I want to ask you, overnight, a series of statements from the 45th president saying the FBI has a long and unrelenting history of being corrupt. He said the FBI is a criminal RICO enterprise whose cover sources and methods include criminal acts. His campaign is fund-raising off of this and has referred to an army of agents from the FBI breaking into his home and said that he hopes they’re not planting evidence.
Is he putting a target on the back of these FBI agents?
BRIAN FITZPATRICK: I checked in with several of my colleagues in the past few days, Margaret, to make sure they were OK. Every single elected official, every single leader needs to mind the weight of their words. This kind of – this kind of talk even —
MARGARET BRENNAN: Including the former president of the United States, who has not called for calm?
BRIAN FITZPATRICK: Right. Correct. I think everybody needs to be calling for calm. Everybody across the board. And everybody needs to respect our law enforcement, whether it be local, state or federal.
I’m very concerned, Margaret, for the safety of our law enforcement officers, especially right now. I, myself, have been notified by the bureau that my life was put in danger recently by some of these same people. And it’s — violence is never the answer to anything.
We live in a democracy that’s 246 years old, Margaret. That’s not long, that’s just a few generations, and yet we’re the world’s only democracy. And the only way that can come unraveled is if we have disrespect for our institutions that lead to Americans turning on Americans and the whole system becomes unraveled. And a lot of that starts with the words we’re using.
So I urge all my colleagues, and we’ve seen disrespect across the – across the political spectrum, Margaret, which I mentioned, with local law enforcement, with the Supreme Court and now federal law enforcement.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
BRIAN FITZPATRICK: None of it is OK. None of it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: If you take the name Donald Trump off of this warrant, are you OK with this raid?
BRIAN FITZPATRICK: It shouldn’t matter. No one is above the law. That’s a principle that all of us should agree to.
All I’m saying here, Margaret, is, an unprecedented action — because this will have an impact on other things.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
BRIAN FITZPATRICK: For example — for example, a lot of us are trying very hard to get FISA and Section 702 reauthorized. This is – you know, potentially, if this were a warrant that was excessive, and we don’t know whether it was or not because, Margaret, there’s a continuum of ways to gather evidence. Everything from the passive service of a subpoena with a future production date, to the dynamic execution of a search warrant, which we saw here. There’s a lot of things you can do in between, including a forthwith subpoena, where you present that subpoena at the door, you don’t enter the premises, but you demand instant production then and there. We don’t know what was appropriate, what was justified or not, and that’s why this affidavit is so important. That will answer all the questions.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
BRIAN FITZPATRICK: So I’m urging all my colleagues, don’t prejudge what we don’t know about yet.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood.
BRIAN FITZPATRICK: And I’m also urging all my colleagues to understand the weight of your words and support law enforcement no matter what.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you very much, Congressman Fitzpatrick.
And on Saturday, the Biden administration released an updated assessment on al Qaeda in Afghanistan, citing intelligence community reports that the terror group is no longer assessed to be a threat in that country. Tomorrow marks one year since the chaotic collapse of the Afghan government as U.S. troops prepared to leave. And while the administration’s full report on the much-criticized withdrawal is still a work in progress, the top Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul’s report is complete. He’s here with us.
Good morning to you, Congressman.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): Thanks, Margaret. Thanks for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: This deserves a full conversation. And I want to get to it. Let me do this bit of business, though, first on the events of the past few days.
Senator Marco Rubio, who’s the vice chair of Senate Intelligence, issued a letter saying he was outraged not to have been briefed and he blasted the FBI saying that they have done more damage to faith and the rule of law than the Russian Federation or any other foreign adversary.
Is his anger misplaced?
MICHAEL MCCAUL: You know, I think it comes on the heel — I think “The Wall Street Journal” did a great article about how, you know, after the Russian collusion, Steele dossier, everything that took place during the Trump presidency and now out of office to have this raid take place, look, I’m a DOJ alumni. I worked at public integrity here at main justice. And what I worry about, Margaret, is the lack of trust in our — and faith in our institutions. That concerns me most above all. And I think when you saw the DHS bulletin about, you know, potential threats now to the agents, this is the whole fabric of our democracy. And they have lost faith, many have, in the FBI and our institutions. I hate to see that as a former federal prosecutor.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. And there is something like a healthy skepticism about law enforcement certainly. But for the former president to be using the language that he is when there is this level of threat against FBI agents, would you call on him to tone it down?
MICHAEL MCCAUL: I think it’s inflammatory. I don’t want to put any law enforcement in the bull’s-eye of a potential threat, and as someone who’s worked with law enforcement most of my career.
This is an extraordinary case. And what lawyers we call a case of first impression. We’ve never had a former president of the United States served with a search warrant. There was a subpoena. The court could have enforced the subpoena. That should have been a last stage process.
And I would also — I agree with Brian Fitzpatrick, right, the affidavit in support of the warrant will give you the probable cause to try to understand what is going on here. And I think the American people deserve this. And I certainly think, to Rubio’s point, that the Gang of Eight should have been briefed. And I believe that the relevant committees on The Hill should have access to the documents. But, most importantly, this affidavit.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes. Well, we will see. It sounds like it may take some time to get some of these answers.
I want to talk to you about Afghanistan.
I’ve read your report. The State Department says there are about 74,000 vulnerable Afghans still stuck waiting for these visas to exit the country who worked with the United States government. Your report says the State Department knew going back well into the Trump administration that it needed more staff, that it needed more resources to even begin to help get these people out, and that’s before the chaos of the withdrawal.
Is that one of the prime sort of sins here that you see in terms of failure to plan?
MICHAEL MCCAUL: There are – there are many sins, if you will. There was a complete lack and failure to plan. There was no plan, and it was — there was no plan executed. And to — you know, to your point, you know, even beforehand I think the State Department probably didn’t have the resources it needed to carry out an evacuation of this size and enormity. They had 36 consular offices at Hkia (ph) trying to process hundreds of thousands of people.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The airport.
MICHAEL MCCAUL: They were overwhelmed. But there were so many mistakes.
The biggest one, Margaret, for me, having lived through it, were — you know, being in the classified space, listening to the intelligence community tell the story about this is going to be imminent, it’s going to fall sooner rather than later. The military said — told us the same thing. And then we went to state and they paint — and the White House, a very rosy picture. There’s a disconnect between, you know, intelligence on the ground and what the White House is doing. I think in this report this says it all. Like, there’s no way we’re going to evacuate embassy personnel from helicopters like we did from Vietnam.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
MICHAEL MCCAUL: And, of course, we know that happened.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the criticism of this report will be that this was the minority report, that it’s inherently political. And that when the Republicans take the majority, if they win, the majority in November, that this is going to be just a political line of attack.
How do you respond to that?
MICHAEL MCCAUL: I — you know, like – I, you know, I was a federal prosecutor longer than a member of Congress, though that’s been almost 20 years now. And I pride myself as being objective.
I think this is a fairly objective report about the failures that were made.
You know one of the biggest ones was that the Taliban sitting with Zakawi (ph), the special envoy, and General McKenzie, the CENTCOM commander, made an offer, you can take control over Kabul and secure it for purposes of the evacuation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And General McKenzie said that’s not my assignment here.
MICHAEL MCCAUL: Not my – that’s not what the commander in chief told me. They do run it up to the White House and they get no response. And then later Jen Psaki says they wouldn’t have approved that.
Think about what that would have changed. We had to rely on the Taliban to secure the perimeter of Hkia (ph). That led to the chaos. It also led to the suicide bomber that killed 13 service members, men and women, and injured over hundreds of people. And it could have been avoided.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, the current U.S. special envoy for Afghan women and girls was out of government when this was going on. She’s quoted in your report as saying she still struggles to understand how this supposedly pre-planned, negotiated, inevitable withdrawal ended the way it did. It feels so much like living “Schindler’s List.” That’s a pretty powerful criticism.
Who specifically needs to be held accountable, if anyone here? And is it simply just the matter of, this was an intelligence failure that the government would fall as quickly as it did, that the former president would have fled. How do you respond to that, that there was an inability to plan for this because it was not predicted?
MICHAEL MCCAUL: Well, the intelligence community got it right. So there was no failure on the intelligence side, nor the Pentagon. They called it right. The problem was the White House and – and State Department putting their head in the sand, not wanting to believe what they were saying, and therefore not adequately planning.
And I think to your point, the women left behind is the worst of this entire story.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
MICHAEL MCCAUL: I tried — I got four busloads of little girls from the music school out. But the “Schindler’s List,” you know, if you’re on the list, you’re going to live. If you’re not on the list, you’re probably going to die. One hundred thousand Afghan partners left behind. Remember, we said, we will protect you. That was our promise to them.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
MICHAEL MCCAUL: No one left behind. And we left them behind to the mercy of the Taliban and now they’re being tortured and killed.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the State Department says that it has tried to comply with your committee. We await their full report of their own actions.
Thank you for sharing your findings here today.
MICHAEL MCCAUL: They have not — they have not — they have not – they have not complied with our investigation at all.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman, thank you for your time today.
MICHAEL MCCAUL: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn to Imtiaz Tyab, who reports from Kabul about how life for the people of Afghanistan has taken a turn for the worse under the Taliban.
IMTIAZ TYAB (voice over): One year after the Taliban’s lightning-fast takeover of Afghanistan and the group’s grip on power is tighter now more than ever.
IMTIAZ TYAB (on camera): Across Kabul you can see the Taliban’s flag flying nearly everywhere, making it clear the U.S.-backed republic of Afghanistan is gone and the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is holding strong.
IMTIAZ TYAB (voice over): But the nation’s economy is in ruins. Following the Taliban takeover, the U.S. froze billions in assets and foreign donors pulled funding that made up nearly three-quarters of Afghanistan’s annual budget.
Triggering what the U.N. calls the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, where around 90 percent of people don’t have enough food to eat, and yet the emirate seems more focused on controlling the lives of its citizens, especially women, who have seen so much of the progress they’ve made over the past 20 years disappear and have been told to cover up.
High school-aged girls have also largely been shut out of classrooms for the past year, but a growing number are defying the Taliban by going to unofficial schools like this one, including Defisa (ph), whose own brother is a Taliban.
My brother doesn’t know that I come to this school, she says. It’s only my mother who supports me.
For world leaders, how to engage with the Taliban government continues to be a challenge. Many of the men now running Afghanistan remain on international terrorist lists, some with multimillion dollar bounties on their head, like Acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is linked to this house in Kabul where the U.S. says Ayman al Zawahiri, the al Qaeda leader and 9/11 plotter, was killed earlier this month in a drone strike.
Abdul Qahar Balkhi is the Taliban spokesman for the ministry of foreign affairs.
ABDUL QAHAR BALKHI: So far we haven’t reached a conclusion that indeed Mr. Zawahiri was present in Kabul.
IMTIAZ TYAB (on camera): To be clear, you’re not confirming that Ayman al Zawahiri was killed in that house not far from where we’re sitting now?
ABDUL QAHAR BALKHI: Absolutely. We have not arrived at that conclusion.
IMTIAZ TYAB: Abdul Qahar Balkhi, however, did agree that if the leader of a terrorist organization like al Qaeda was found living in Afghanistan, the Taliban would consider it a violation of the nation’s sovereignty.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Imtiaz Tyab reporting from Kabul.
We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We are also nearing another milestone. It’s been almost six months since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the war is entering a dramatic, new phase.
Our Charlie D’Agata reports from the southeastern region of Ukraine.
CHARLIE D’AGATA (voice over): Ukraine’s artillery and missile barrages this week continue to exact a heavy toll on Russian forces. Yet nearly six months into the invasion, the offensive grinds on. Ukrainian territory, towns, cities, we visited in eastern Donbas region back in April is now firmly under Russian occupation.
But this week the war entered a dramatic, new phase in the south, and a series of explosions at the Russian air base in Crimea is just one part of it. It comes as Ukrainian forces prepare for a major counterattack to recapture Kherson province.
In a front-line position, we’re not allowed to identify, combat medic Sirhi Zitzif (ph) said he’s seen horrific injuries as the Russians have stepped up shelling.
The Ukrainian counteroffensive is already underway, he says. Yesterday, today, tomorrow. And that hit on the airfield in Crimea is a clear statement to Russians that we can get you.
And the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant sits on the very edge of the front line, under Russian control since the early days of the war, it’s now become a battleground with Ukraine accusing Russian forces of using it as a shield to launch attacks. Yesterday we visited the towns of Makametz (ph) and Nikapol (ph), just across the river from the plant which have come under heavy nightly bombardment.
CHARLIE D’AGATA (on camera): This is just one apartment destroyed in the bombardment. Residents here tell us they only had about seven seconds from the time of launch at the nuclear power plant to impact. No time for an air raid siren. No time to take shelter.
CHARLIE D’AGATA (voice over): Deputy mayor of Nikapol, Natalia Horbly (ph), told us shells start raining down in the early hours.
CHARLIE D’AGATA (on camera): Do you believe that these attacks are coming from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant?
CHARLIE D’AGATA (voice over): At that range, the maximum is around ten miles from us.
G-7 nations have called on Moscow to withdraw its forces in order to avoid a nuclear catastrophe, but nobody is giving ground here as both sides double down for the battle to come.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Charlie, thank you.
We’ll be back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s back-to-school time and districts nationwide are dealing with a serious teacher shortage. But it’s hard to know exactly how many classrooms are teacherless due to gaps in data from state to state.
Alberto Carvalho is the superintendent of the second largest school district in the country, Los Angeles, and he joins us this morning.
Good morning to you.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are 300,000 fewer public school teachers than there were before the pandemic. These were numbers current in June. Do you know why so many teachers are leaving the classroom?
ALBERTO CARVALHO (Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District): Well, good morning, number one.
I believe we do. Number one, there are economic conditions that have made it difficult for teachers to be recruited into the classroom. Insufficient pay, critical hardship. The pandemic did not help. Certainly, the over two years that teachers endured during virtual learning and then back to school, with extreme conditions faced by many, certainly had a chilling effect on many. And, as a result of that, a disproportionate number of teachers across the country decided to retire before accruing full benefits. That’s truly unprecedented in America’s history.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, a member of your staff told us that out in L.A., to mitigate the shortage, you’re giving out incentives, grants, but also something called alternative certification programs where teachers can go into the classroom before they’ve fully completed their own credentialing and their field work. You’ve also hired instructors on provision and intern permits.
That sounds like you’re lowering standards.
ALBERTO CARVALHO: We’re really not. I mean these are fully credentialed individuals. They have a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. They may not yet have the state certification, but they have the course content already done. They may be missing a specific exam.
But, look, we are, for the very first time in over a decade, fully staffed going into August 15th, the very first day of school. We were able to hire in excess of 1500 teachers during the summer months. We partnered with colleges and universities and we cast a wide net for recruitment. We offered incentives. And last but not least, we, as you correctly said, embraced this concept of micro-credentialing (ph) to accelerate the hiring of qualified teachers for our students.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The average pay, according to the National Education Association, in your district for teachers is $87,000. Is the issue really pay? And given at the federal level that so much emergency funding has been pumped in, I think it’s $2.5 billion just from that spring rescue package, why isn’t the incentive enough to solve this problem on a national scale?
ALBERTO CARVALHO: Well, number one, the incentives are positive. However, you need to have a pipeline of eligible candidates to fill these positions. And what we’ve seen is, number one, there are insufficient candidates graduating from colleges of education nationally, particularly teachers with the certification with students with disabilities, elementary age students as well.
So, the pay is important, working conditions are important, health benefit packages are important. I can tell you one thing, considering the cost of living in Los Angeles, considering the cost of housing in Los Angeles, it is difficult to recruit individuals into our community. Nonetheless, for the very first time in over a decade, every single student in every single classroom in Los Angeles Unified will have a credentialed teacher on day one. That’s truly stunning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: About 10,000 to 20,000 students you’ve said are not enrolled in school or have stopped attending. Where are these kids going?
ALBERTO CARVALHO: Well, that’s been the question that the country has been asking. We know as a result of the pandemic many parents decided not to enroll kids, particularly youngest kids, kindergarten and pre-k kids, in schools. Secondly, in communities like Los Angeles or Miami, where you have a significant percentage of students who are immigrants or children of immigrants, as a result of the pandemic and worsening economic conditions, they may have left the community or the country. So, we have the lost children of Los Angeles. There are lost children in Miami, New York, every large single urban center.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
ALBERTO CARVALHO: That is why this past week we scoured the community, we did knocks on doors and we are bringing kids back into our school system.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
It’s an important story, Superintendent. We will stay on it. Thank you.
We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s it for us today. Thank you for watching. Until next week, I’m Margaret Brennan.
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