On this “Face the Nation” broadcast, moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Sen. Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware
- Former Vice President Mike Pence
- Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan.
And today on Face the Nation: The Supreme Court preserves access to an abortion pill, for now.
And a daring evacuation of U.S. government personnel out of the embattled country of Sudan. Overnight, the mission to get U.S. diplomats and other personnel out of Sudan was successful. But what about the hundreds more Americans still trapped there?
We will talk with Delaware Democrat Chris Coons. He’s on the Africa Subcommittee in the Senate.
Then: The Supreme Court makes an emergency ruling to keep mifepristone accessible for abortion, but sends the case back to the lower courts. Is the fight over? We will tell you what’s next.
And the politics of abortion within the Republican Party. Our Robert Costa sat down with former vice president and potential 2024 candidate Mike Pence. Will he enter the race and challenge the former president?
ROBERT COSTA: Are you leaning in or are you leaning away from running?
MIKE PENCE (Former Vice President of the United States): Well, I’m here in Iowa, Robert.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Plus, a series of deadly shooting errors, firing first and asking questions later, is taking its toll on a nation already anxious about gun violence.
We will talk with the mayor of Kansas City, Quinton Lucas, about the challenges he’s facing running a blue city in a red state.
Finally, an interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He’s back in power, but what’s different now?
It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.
Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.
We begin with a daring Special Forces rescue operation to get American diplomats out of Sudan, where fighting continues, as two top generals there jockey for power.
The State Department says security conditions aren’t expected to improve anytime soon, and has temporarily suspended operations at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. Meanwhile, there are still hundreds of American citizens stranded in Sudan, where the airports have been closed for days.
For more now, we turn to national security correspondent David Martin.
David, good morning.
DAVID MARTIN: Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, this operation was high-risk. You had U.S. forces flying 800 miles from Djibouti to Ethiopia, then launching from Ethiopia to Sudan, and then had to go all the way back to Djibouti at the end, airlifted about 100 people out of the U.S. Embassy.
How did all this come together?
DAVID MARTIN: Well, distance was the primary challenge here, 800 miles. Helicopters just can’t go that far. So you had to set up this forward staging base in Ethiopia, where they could top off before the aircraft went into the embassy in Khartoum.
The other thing was the uncertainty of whether or not they were going to be shot at. Both generals of these two warring sides had been warned in no uncertain terms, do not interfere. But you couldn’t count at that, because we have — we have seen all these cease-fires break down.
So the aircraft went in at night low level. And they had 100 special operations commandos on board. Those commandos set up a perimeter around this landing zone that was just outside the embassy and guarded that perimeter while the diplomats boarded the helicopters.
Overhead, there were two C-130 aircraft, one of which was for communications. The other was a gunship ready to take anybody who tried to approach the embassy under fire. They were on the ground for a little more than half-an-hour.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Wow.
DAVID MARTIN: No shots were fired. And then they were back on their way.
Somebody called it a pretty easy in-and-out, but it was long and grueling night. I mean, from start to finish, it was 17 hours.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And it was so high-risk. This went, sounds like, as best as could possibly be expected.
But there are still hundreds of American citizens who are on the ground. There is no plan to evacuate them. These were just government personnel pulled out. The State Department and the Pentagon say they will do what they can to help Americans get out. What does that mean?
DAVID MARTIN: Well, it certainly doesn’t mean going in and seizing the airport and doing the normal kind of evacuation aboard airliners out of there.
What it means is conducting reconnaissance along this land route that goes from Khartoum all the way over to Port Sudan on the Red Sea, which is a 12- hour drive under the best conditions. So they can conduct reconnaissance over that. And then they can have U.S. Navy ships waiting to take in any Americans who make that drive.
But that, again, will be at the — at a minimum, a long and grueling drive. And the conditions are just chaotic.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes. And it is such a high-risk environment.
David, thank you very much for all of your reporting.
DAVID MARTIN: Sure thing.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Democratic Senator Chris Coons, who joins us from Wilmington, Delaware.
Good morning to you, Senator.
I know you’ve said you feared this violence for the past few weeks. And it was this intense fighting between Sudan’s armed forces and a paramilitary group that led to this dramatic evacuation. Do you think the U.S. should have pulled out sooner?
SENATOR CHRIS COONS (D-Delaware): Well, Margaret, if I would been on this show, just two weeks ago, we wouldn’t have been talking about fighting in Sudan, because there wasn’t any.
There were special envoys from the U.N., the A.U., the U.S. all negotiating with these two generals, General Hemedti, General Burhan, of the regular army and the paramilitary. I’m still hopeful that they could return to a civilian government. It unwound fast in just the last week. And I’m grateful that our Special Forces have now successfully overnight evacuated the U.S. nationals who work in our embassy in Khartoum.
This is a temporary suspension. It’s my hope and theirs that we will be able to return to Khartoum and the situation will stabilize. But, Margaret, this is the same sort of thing that happened in Kyiv in Ukraine, that has happened in other countries, in Yemen and Syria, where, when the fighting gets intense quickly, we rely on our Special Forces to evacuate U.S. nationals who staff an embassy in a country that descends into a war zone.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I know you’ve been saying the country may tip into all-out civil war.
Russia and China have really been extending their influence throughout Africa, Russia in Sudan as well, including that paramilitary group Wagner. They — they have left behind hundreds of American civilians in Sudan, who now don’t necessarily have a way out of the country. Are you concerned about how the United States can use some kind of leverage to help its citizens escape?
SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Well, Margaret, just a reminder that Sudan is a vast country. It’s the third largest country in Africa, a country of 45 million people spread over a huge amount of territory.
Yes, I am concerned about the safety and security of U.S. nationals who’ve been serving in humanitarian missions or in other ways across the country. There are quite a few U.S.-Sudanese dual nationals in the country, and the U.N. and the U.S. and a number of other countries will do their best to help return to civilian rule, to end the fighting, to support a stabilization in Sudan.
But as for right now, an evacuation through some overland convoy is the most likely path out for folks who work for the U.N. and the World Food Program, for example, who serve other countries in Khartoum and around the country, and for those remaining U.S. nationals who may wish to leave.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But does the U.S. have any leverage to stop the fighting?
SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Just a reminder, Margaret, this is a country that for 30 years was under the brutal dictatorship of…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
SENATOR CHRIS COONS: … Omar al-Bashir. It was on the state sponsor of terrorism list. We don’t have deep relationships with the Sudanese military or with the paramilitary force, the RSF.
We have some leverage, in that we provide development assistance, humanitarian relief. But, frankly, these two warring factions have started what may well be a fight to the finish. And we may have limited leverage in the next couple of weeks and months, as they carry out a fight to see who will ultimately be in control of the security of Sudan.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And that is why there’s so much concern.
I want to ask you as well about your position on the Judiciary Committee. CBS interviewed earlier this week an attorney for an IRS agent who is seeking whistle-blower status from Congress to share information, he says, would contradict sworn testimony to Congress by a senior political appointee regarding the investigation into Hunter Biden.
Do you think it’s worth looking into the possibility of undue influence here?
SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Look, anyone who comes forward and seeks whistle- blower protection status should be given that status. That’s part of what we’ve put in place over many years, a system that allows career folks who work in different federal agencies the chance to blow the whistle and testify if they see something wrong.
I will remind you, nothing’s been presented yet. This person hasn’t come forward in any detail. If and when they do, if there’s any substance to it, I expect that the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Dick Durbin, and the ranking member will ensure that they are fairly and appropriately treated.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you confident in the conduct of Attorney General Merrick Garland when it comes to this case?
SENATOR CHRIS COONS: I am.
Look, President Biden, from the days he was campaigning to his first days as president, made it clear that he thought restoring the independence of the Department of Justice, removing any political influence for potential investigations was a core value that he brought to this service as president, and I’m confident that that’s in no small part why he chose a seasoned circuit court judge, someone with also deep experience at DOJ.
I am confident that Merrick Garland has conducted himself appropriately here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: CBS reported back in October that the FBI had gathered evidence sufficient enough to charge Hunter Biden with tax and gun-related crimes and sent it to the U.S. attorney in Delaware.
And we know that, in the coming days, Mr. Biden’s attorneys are set to meet with the U.S. attorney in Delaware. Do you have any sense if this is going to conclude soon? It’s been ongoing since 2018.
SENATOR CHRIS COONS: No, I don’t, Margaret, nor should I. It is an ongoing investigation that, as you say, has been conducted for years. The U.S. attorney here in Delaware is the U.S. attorney who was appointed by the previous administration.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
SENATOR CHRIS COONS: And, look, if there are any charges ever brought, we’ll discuss them at that time. At this point, I think this is a long- going federal investigation, which I hope will reach a conclusion at some point soon.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Senator Coons, thank you for joining us this morning and giving us your perspective.
SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Thank you, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the Friday Supreme Court decision, which preserves access to a widely used abortion pill, for now, while the legal process in the lower courts continues.
Chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford joins us.
Jan, it’s good to have you back here.
This was a decision you predicted, 7-2, the dissent coming from Justice Alito, Clarence Thomas also objecting. The Supreme Court is keeping the drug available now. So what happens next?
JAN CRAWFORD: Well, that’s right.
I mean, the bottom line is that this drug will remain available nationwide without any restrictions while these appeals play out. And that could take at least a year, I mean, even though this case is really on a fast track.
There’s an argument next month before a panel of judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which will decide at some point whether that lower court judge in Texas was right that the FDA improperly authorized mifepristone some two decades ago.
But regardless of whatever the appeals court decides, whoever loses is going to go right back to the Supreme Court and ask the justices to step in and decide the merits, whether the FDA properly followed the right steps when it approved mifepristone in 2000, and then when it agreed to make it more widely available, easier for women to get in 2016.
That will set the stage for a major Supreme Court case on abortion access possibly as soon as next year.
MARGARET BRENNAN: An election year too.
Jan, there’s great irony in the fact that the Supreme Court sent the decision on abortion access back to the states after Dobbs, and now we’re talking about going back to the Supreme Court to decide on it again.
Will the justices — I mean, how involved will they get? I mean, you think this is inevitable it ends up there?
JAN CRAWFORD: Well, I think it’s going to go right back to the Supreme Court, because whoever loses will appeal it and ask the justices to get involved in decide it.
I don’t think that they will.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You don’t think they will hear it?
JAN CRAWFORD: I don’t think they will ever reach the merits.
Well, I think they will — they will have to hear it. But I think they’re going to dismiss it on standing grounds. They’re going to say that these challengers who went after the FDA authorization weren’t able to show that they had right to be in federal court in the first place.
And let me just — I mean, those are kind of bedrock conservative legal principles that really go to the heart of this case. To get into federal court, you can’t just be upset about some issue. You have got to show you have been harmed, that you have a stake in the case. It can’t be just something speculative in the future.
And I think that’s a real problem for the challengers here. Now, the lower courts saw it differently. The Trump appointee, federal judge, saw it differently. But these conservative justices take those kinds of standing issues very seriously, because it goes to the point of judicial restraint.
And that’s why what they’re doing with this case is entirely consistent with what they did with Dobbs, the ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade and – – last year and sent it back to the states.
What they’re doing in this case is really saying, if they follow this rule on standing, that these challenges don’t have business being in federal courts. We’re going to set — keep that kind of a high bar for getting into the courts. We don’t want federal judges ruling on these social issues. That belongs in the political process.
So, the bottom line for this case, I think, next year…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
JAN CRAWFORD: … whenever they get back to it, is, I think they’re going to dismiss it on standing. I think these conservative justices will join with the liberals and say, the challengers don’t have a right to sue in this case.
It could be 8-1, possibly even unanimous.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Very quickly, a lot of scrutiny of Clarence Thomas. What do you think is going to happen to him?
JAN CRAWFORD: Well, as you know, there’s been reports that he failed to disclose a couple of different things on his disclosure forms, vacations that were paid for by a really rich friend of his that he didn’t disclose.
The rules on that were not very clear. They were recently amended. So, he said he will report that going forward. I think the more problematic one is some property that he and his family sold to the same friend, that that wasn’t disclosed. His — his — people close to Thomas have suggested that’s because he didn’t make a profit on that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
JAN CRAWFORD: So he thought he didn’t need to disclose it.
The bottom line, though, is, Democrats are calling for hearings. Republicans are saying, this is ridiculous, this is politics.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
JAN CRAWFORD: If it sounds like a mess, it is. And the Supreme Court could do well looking at adopting its own code of conduct.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
Jan Crawford, thanks so much for your reporting.
The issue of abortion will likely play a role in the 2024 elections.
Yesterday, our Robert Costa went to Iowa and spoke with one of those potential Republican candidates, former Vice President Mike Pence, and asked him about the court’s decision.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I’m pro-life. I don’t apologize for it.
But I think the fact the Biden administration allowed mifepristone to be made available on a mail-order basis was a — a fundamental change, even in states that have limited abortion. I would like to see this medication off the market to protect the unborn.
But, also, I — I have deep concerns about the way the FDA went about approving mifepristone 20 years ago. I’m grateful that action is being taken in the courts to hold the FDA accountable to what the law requires in reviewing any medication that’s made on the marketplace.
So, for the sake of protecting the unborn, but also for the health and safety of women, I — I’m looking forward to this — this litigation continuing and holding the manufacturers of mifepristone accountable and, ultimately, and putting the interests of women first.
ROBERT COSTA: The FDA has disputed claims that it’s unsafe, saying that serious complications are rare, and less than 1 percent of patients need hospitalization. That’s their position.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Well, I understand that, Robert, but, under the Obama administration, the FDA actually stopped chronicling nonfatal results of mifepristone.
And one of the things that I hope changes in the course of this litigation is, the FDA gets back to reporting to the American people all of the health impacts. But I do believe this issue bears upon the health and safety of women, and we’ve got to hold the FDA accountable to the law.
ROBERT COSTA: This issue is also very, very big right now in the Republican Party.
There’s a real debate. Anti-abortion activist Marjorie Dannenfelser has said that anyone who takes former President Trump’s position that states should decide what happens on abortion, she has called that a morally indefensible position. Do you agree?
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: The cause of restoring the sanctity of life to the center of American law is the calling of our time.
The Supreme Court in the Dobbs decision last June gave the American people a new beginning for life. It returned the question of abortion to the states and to the American people. But it didn’t just return it exclusively to the states. And that’s where I disagree with the former president. This isn’t a states-only decision.
We have elected representatives in the Congress of the United States and we’ll elect a president again in 2024. And I think the American people would welcome a minimum national standard in Washington, D.C., 15 weeks.
ROBERT COSTA: Is former President Trump in retreat on the abortion front?
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Well, I would — I would leave that to others.
ROBERT COSTA: What’s your take?
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: You can ask him.
ROBERT COSTA: Your top aide Marc Short has said on the record, former President Trump is in retreat.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Well — I — I — look, that’s a great question for him.
I couldn’t be more proud to have been vice president in the administration that appointed three of the justices to the Supreme Court that sent Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history. But, Robert, now we’re in a new season.
And I think millions of pro-life Americans want to see us seize every opportunity to put the interests of — of the unborn first and also, in equal measure, to demonstrate the generosity and compassion of the American people toward women who’ve been caught up in abortion in the last 50 years and women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy today.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Face the Nation will be back in one minute. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There has been a string of recent shootings, some deadly, following simple everyday mistakes.
Our Mark Strassmann has a look at the impact it’s having on an already anxious nation.
MARK STRASSMANN (voice-over): Time and again lately, innocence has met armed Americans assuming the worst. A stray basketball rolled into a neighbor’s yard in North Carolina. Gunshots.
KINSLEY WHITE (6 Years Old): He shot my daddy.
MARK STRASSMANN: A Texas cheerleader got into the wrong car. And, in New York, cars pulling into the wrong driveway became a fatal mistake. Each time, gunshots.
SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY (D-Connecticut): My friends, there is a toxic mixture in this country today of hate, of anger, and a population that is increasingly armed to the teeth with deadly weapons.
MARK STRASSMANN: More than 70 percent of adults say gun violence is a significant source of stress. About half say guns are a constant threat or a major concern,and 62 percent of black and Hispanic Americans.
Nearly 30 percent bought a gun as protection from gun violence. We’re a country up in arms. In just two years of the pandemic, Americans bought 60 million guns. Almost half of us now have a gun at home. But to the NRA and its supporters, blaming guns for gun violence misses the target.
DONALD TRUMP (Former President of the United States): This is a mental health problem. This is a social problem. This is a cultural problem. This is a spiritual problem.
MARK STRASSMANN: In Kansas City, 16-year-old Ralph Yarl rang the doorbell of the wrong house. He’s recovering from a gunshot to the head.
CLEO NAGBE (Mother of Ralph Yarl): He was supposed to stay outside, and his brothers were supposed to run outside, get in the car, and they — and they come home. And that was what was supposed to happen.
And while he was standing there, his brothers didn’t run outside, but he got a couple of bullets in his body.
MARK STRASSMANN: Legal experts say homeowner Andrew Lester may claim self- defense under Missouri’s stand your ground law.
About 30 states have stand your ground laws. Florida was first in 2005, a law made famous by the Trayvon Martin shooting in 2012. But those laws do not provide blanket protection for shooting anyone who comes at you.
And one study linked stand your ground laws with an up to 11 percent monthly increase in gun homicides. It’s a volatile, violent mix, armed Americans already on edge and, a minor mishap later, gunshots.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Our Mark Strassmann reporting.
And we will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: If you miss an episode of Face the Nation, you can listen to our podcast. So, find us on Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.
We will be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation, including more of Robert Costas’ interview with Mike Pence, plus Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION and more of Robert Costa’s conversation with former Vice President Mike Pence.
ROBERT COSTA: There has been a spate of gun violence in recent weeks and it’s, at times, legal gun owners shooting people who come up to their door, on a driveway, in a parking lot. What is happening in America, and can anything be done to dial down the fear and the violence?
MIKE PENCE (Former U.S. Vice President): Well, our – our hearts go out to the families of lost loved ones in the incidents in Kansas City and in upstate New York. I just can’t imagine the pain that they’re enduring in that tragedy.
But tragedy should not require us to forfeit our liberty. And the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States.
I don’t know the facts of those cases. I’m confident local law enforcement will move forward and apply the law in a proper way. But I can’t help but suspect that this recent spate of tragedies is evidence of the fear that so many Americans are feeling about the crime wave besetting this country.
ROBERT COSTA: But I think most people would agree, even if you have fear about crime in your community, there’s no excuse to be just shooting at somebody at your door or in your – in a parking lot.
MIKE PENCE: I can’t imagine the circumstances that I read about in the press in either of those cases. And — and – and I’m – I’m sure local law enforcement will hold people to a proper accounting. I – but I – but, at the end of the day, I — I just wonder – I wonder if it isn’t some reflection of the fear the American people feel about the crime wave that’s impacting our country, literally from coast to coast.
ROBERT COSTA: You have agreed to appear before the special counsel’s ongoing grand jury investigating January 6th with some constraints on your testimony. Have you set a date with the special counsel about your appearance?
MIKE PENCE: Well, our – our attorneys have worked that out with the Justice Department. And I — but I will say, I’m grateful that the court recognized that there are specific constitutional protections unique to the vice president when you’re serving in your role as president of the Senate. I thought it was important to make that challenge. For the first time in history a federal court acknowledged that that provision of the Constitution applies to the vice president and they’ve — they’ve limited what they’ll be requesting of me. But we’ll –
ROBERT COSTA: Help us understand that a little bit.
MIKE PENCE: Beyond that, I can tell you, Robert, we’ll – we’ll obey the law. We’ll tell the truth. And the story that I’ve been telling the American people all across the country, the story that I wrote in the pages of my memoir, that will – that will be what I tell in that setting as well.
ROBERT COSTA: But for a lay person who’s not a lawyer, what are the constraints, in your view, on your upcoming testimony? Will you, for example, be able to testify in your view about the private conversations you have had with President Trump? Is that within the range of what you could do before the grand jury?
MIKE PENCE: I think I’m limited about what I can say about the proceedings of the grand jury or the decision of the judge. But people can be confident that we’ll – we’ll obey the law. We’ll comply with the law.
But I’ve got to tell you, Robert, nobody is talking to me about this.
ROBERT COSTA: Fox News just settled with Dominion for $787 million over false claims that were on the network. Any reaction?
MIKE PENCE: Well, I – I would assume that – that Fox News determined what – what the appropriate settlement was and what the exposure was in that case. I can’t – I can’t really speak to it. That was not a time in my life that I was watching a lot of television, Robert. I was focused on the task at hand, focused on doing our duty under the Constitution of the United States. The role that you, your network, and other members of the media play is vital to our democracy. And I’ll always stand for a free and independent press, even when I don’t agree with what you say or do.
ROBERT COSTA: It’s almost May. When are you going to decide on whether you are running for the Republican nomination?
MIKE PENCE: Well, we’re getting awful close, but I don’t have anything to announce today, Robert, but I – I promise —
ROBERT COSTA: Will you make a hard decision by late June?
MIKE PENCE: I think anyone that would be serious about seeking the Republican nomination would need to be in this contest by June and –
ROBERT COSTA: So, you will make a decision by late June?
MIKE PENCE: I — I think — if we have an announcement to make —
ROBERT COSTA: Whether —
MIKE PENCE: It will be well before late June.
ROBERT COSTA: But are you leaning in or are you leaning away from running?
MIKE PENCE: Well, I’m here in Iowa, Robert.
ROBERT COSTA: Well, that’s a tell.
MIKE PENCE: Look, I love this country. And I think America is in a lot of trouble. And what I hear people telling me is that the challenges that we’re facing in an increasingly dangerous world, the challenges that we’re facing in this economy with inflation at a 40-year high, a crisis at our border, are going to require someone who has the ability to step in on day one and set our country back on a path towards security and prosperity. And so we’re thinking very deeply about that. And as I said, I – I don’t have anything to announce today, but –
ROBERT COSTA: It sounds like you’re leaning in. It sounds like you’re leaning in.
MIKE PENCE: I, look I –
ROBERT COSTA: Leaning toward it versus away?
MIKE PENCE: I – I would tell you that I’m very humbled by the encouragement that we’re receiving, and I promise when we have something to announce, you’ll be among the first to know.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Robert Costa’s full conversation with the former vice president is on our website and our FACE THE NATION YouTube channel.
We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to the mayor of Kansas City, which is where the shooting of Ralph Yarl happened.
Quinton Lucas joins us now from our affiliate, KCTV.
Good morning to you, Mr. Mayor.
This case is —
QUINTON LUCAS (Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is so tragic. And it has really captured the attention of the country. The shooter was 84-years-old, and he shot an unarmed 16-year- old for ringing his doorbell. He says he thought he was about to be robbed.
I know you already have a high rate of gun violence in Kansas City, but what has this particular tragedy meant?
QUINTON LUCAS: Well, to me it says several things. And one of those was mentioned just a moment ago by Vice President Pence in the interview. I think that actually it is this culture of fear and paranoia that’s drummed up by some, including politicians like the former vice president, who mention it almost in a way as if it’s an excuse for this type of action.
This was in the safest neighborhood of Kansas City, or one of our safest neighbors, and this was a man, who in his statement to the police said, I was scared of this, in essence, large, black person outside of his door. He thought the child was six feet tall. He’s only 5’8″. He thought he was a threat. He was on the other side of two locked doors.
This is the sort of thing that happens when you have this culture of paranoia and fear that’s being drummed up by politicians and some in the media and, of course, this fettization (ph), I said before, of guns. More stand your ground laws, more laws that say you should use your gun and have it absolutely everywhere.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, your governor, who is a Republican, condemned the shooting very clearly, but he also said that President Biden was politicizing it by calling the family of that boy, Ralph Yarl. He didn’t call the families of the victims in New York and in Texas. What do you make of that? And does it complicate things when the president gets involved just given how divided our country is right now?
QUINTON LUCAS: It absolutely does not complicate anything when the president gets involved. First of all, this was a – a news story, an incident, a situation that had the attention of the country long before President Biden called and actually did the juts humane thing and gave best wishes to a boy who had just been shot twice. This is a 16-year-old in the Midwest who had been shot twice. He gets a call from the president of the United States, which I think is a nice thing.
But, really, if you think about all the conversation, there was not a conversation I had certainly in this city but with any mayors around the country who weren’t noticing this story. The racial dynamic, the fact of these laws that are extreme are, frankly, arming our citizens and having them more scared, I think, than they’ve ever been before. This was an 84- year-old man who went to sleep in one of the safest neighborhoods of Kansas City but still had a loaded gun. And when he heard a disturbance at his door, the first thing he thought to do wasn’t just to brandish it, wasn’t even to say a word or scream at somebody who would be outside, it was to shoot and to shoot twice.
The facts of this case were astonishing in and of themselves. And had the president never said a word, there would still be lots of attention. I strongly disagree with the governor, and particularly when his party often has politicized any number of incidents relating to border crossings and beyond in places like Missouri, far away from our southern border, to use any number of political examples. I think that this is a serious situation and the real politization are the people, who after each one of these incidents –
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
QUINTON LUCAS: Say, oh, let’s blame it on mental health, let’s blame it on society. It’s tragic right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You just talked about your Republican governor. And I just want to point out that in Kansas City it’s a little bit unusual because you, as mayor, don’t oversee the police department. There’s a board appointed by the state that oversees them.
QUINTON LUCAS: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you’re a Democrat, in a red state, where you can’t control the police department in your own city. So, how do you work with the governor to crack down on the gun violence if it is the Republicans in control of it?
QUINTON LUCAS: Well, we beg, we pray and we plead with them. These – these are Missourians who are – are shot, right? This is not some sort of thing where the city is just an evil place far, far away. We are within this state. But you’re seeing not just in Missouri, we’ve had this set up for a while in Kansas City. Right now there’s an effort to take over state control of police. And in St. Louis you saw a lawsuit filed by the NAACP on Friday night in Jackson, Mississippi, relating to that issue where there’s this state takeover.
The cities are now punching bags. They have been for a while, but you’re seeing this new extreme of everything that happens here, even our crime, isn’t something that we need to fix for the state. Instead, it’s an indictment, let’s say, on the city people themselves. I think it has lots to do with racial differences that are present in the city, our different views on gun crimes, and, frankly, it’s something that can scare people a little bit more than perhaps talking about international affairs or deficits.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
QUINTON LUCAS: Instead, it’s something that seems to be down the street and it is harming and tearing apart our country.
MARGARET BRENNAN: A lawyer for Ralph Yarl’s family spoke to my colleague, Gayle King, and said they were pleased with the felony charges that the police did, you know, proceed along with, but they want to know why attempted murder wasn’t part of it and they have questions about if there were civil rights violated. Do you have answers from the police or anyone on – on those points?
QUINTON LUCAS: I know our police department has worked hard to review this situation. And while there are critiques, certainly we welcome those and further study.
I think the challenge with a hate crimes charge is just the proof of intent that relates to it. What we do have is that there was a man who said that he was afraid of a black male outside of his door, he shot twice. The felony assault charge carries life in prison, which for an 84-year-old is a substantial, potential sentence. There’s an additional armed criminal action charge. But I believe that our federal investigators and so many others will look into this to see if there are further charges.
I think what a lot of people, though, wanted to see over the last week is that this was taken seriously.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
QUINTON LUCAS: It was astonishing to some that someone who could shoot someone twice was then back in their bed later that night. I know that we have worked hard to try to address that, but we’ll answer more questions as time goes along with this tragic situation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Just to button up what you were saying in terms of culture of fear, can’t both things be true, that there is too much anxiety and manipulation of fear at the same time there is a legitimate concern about rising crime?
QUINTON LUCAS: You know, both can be true, but I don’t think that’s the situation now. I mean think about the fact that – and you hear certain political figures who talk about cities that are fundamentally safer than actual cities in their own state.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
QUINTON LUCAS: Often this is kind of the Governor DeSantis bashing of New York City, which is much safer than a lot of the largest cities in the state of Florida.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
QUINTON LUCAS: I think this is, in many ways, fully drummed up and it’s part of getting people more guns, getting them more afraid.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
QUINTON LUCAS: And I don’t think it in any way relates to the data on the ground each day.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
Mr. Mayor, thank you for your time.
We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Israel, where tens of thousands of protesters marched through Tel Aviv last night in opposition to the government’s plans to overhaul the judicial system. This is just days ahead of Israel’s 75th anniversary celebrating its independence.
For more we go now to the country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Good morning to you, Mr. Prime Minister.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU (Prime Minister of Israel): Good morning. Good to be with you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re glad you ae here.
You know, it has been a month since you hit pause on those judicial reforms. At this moment in time, when you need national unity, why not withdraw them?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Well, I think there is a broad consensus that we have to make corrections in our judicial system. There’s a — obviously, a dramatic difference between the views of how, to what extent and so on. But I think this should not cloud the fact that we’re celebrating here a modern miracle. Israel’s 75th anniversary is the change that happened to the Jewish people who were decimated in the Holocaust. A third of our people were lost to this independent nation that has become a power in the world. And I think everybody unites around that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You had to cancel a Monday appearance at the largest gathering of North American Jewish leaders in years because of these protest concerns. Again, why not withdraw the proposal to overhaul the judicial system, which would give parliament, which is controlled by your allies, authority to overturn supreme court decisions?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Well, I’ve actually said that I will not accept a blanket ability of the parliament to overcome judicial supreme court decisions, just as we don’t accept that the supreme court can abrogate any decision by the parliament or the government. Both sides – both of these extremes actually hinder the balance between the three branches of government, which is exactly what we’re trying to bring into balance now. There is, I think, a difficult and happy middle.
MARGARET BRENNAN: No, but, Sir, you’re making this sound like it’s just a debate.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: It is.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re making it sound like this is just a simple debate like any other country, but you, yourself, used the phrase that you were pausing because you wanted to stop the possibility of civil war. That was a phrase you used when you hit pause.
I want to – I want to just lay out for you here what it has done here in the United States. Those judicial plans led President Biden to say he won’t be inviting you to Washington any time soon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I’m very concerned. And I’m concerned that they get this straight. They cannot continue down this road.
Hopefully the prime minister will act in a way that he is going to try to work out some genuine compromise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARGARET BRENNAN: Biden told you to walk away.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You seem to be betting that there won’t be consequences to alienating your closest ally.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Well, I value the alliance with the United States, and I value the friendship I’ve had over 40 years with President Biden. I don’t think anything will get in that way.
But it’s — it’s an internal matter that we have to resolve. And we’re doing it. And the way we’re doing it is by seeking a consensus as we speak right now, Margaret, as we speak right now, there are teams of my own party, the Likud, and the coalition, with teams from the opposition, speaking in the president’s house. This is now the fifth or sixth meeting they’ve had, seeking the compromise that I think is the mark of democracies. You don’t walk away from a problem, you try to solve it. But you try to solve it through as broad a consensus as you can.
MARGARET BRENNAN: No, walk away from your proposal. Walk away from your proposal, which would allow parliament with a simple majority to override any decision by the supreme court.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Well, we’ve already changed – we – we’ve already changed –
MARGARET BRENNAN: That is your one check and balance on power. Very different from the American system.
I want to ask you about the makeup of your government, because it is impacting U.S. relations. Your finance minister calls himself a homophobe. He said a Palestinian village should be erased. You did say that was inappropriate. Your public security minister was rejected from army service because of past ties to an extremist group designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.
I know you need to keep your coalition together to prevent a collapse, but are you confident you can rein in people like this?
NETANYAHU: I think a lot of them have changed over time and they themselves say that.
But the important thing to understand is, they joined me. I didn’t join them. We have by far the largest party in the Knesset, and certainly in the coalition. There’s smaller parties.
The mainstream policies are decided by me. And that’s what I’m doing.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, this national security minister I just mentioned, Ben=Gvir, who threatened to quit, which would have collapsed your government, you promised him a national guard will be established under his control. The IDF, and your security forces, are more than strong. He’s already gone out and said he wants police to remove Palestinian flags from public spaces. What exactly do you think he’s going to do with this national guard?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Well, the national guard is not merely his idea. It’s a wide proposal, which is, by the way, recognized — was actually proposed by the previous government as well because you need — Israel has a small police force relative to the size of the population. And we face, unlike other police forces around the world, we face the constant threat of terror.
There is a national guard. It’s going to be under one of our national security — under one of our security arms. It’s not going to be any individual persons or minister’s militia. That’s not going to happen in Israel.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Not under me, and I suspect not under anyone else. It’s just not going to happen.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Can you clarify this for us as well because it’s making headlines in the U.S. Politician May Golan said that you are considering appointing her to be consul general in New York. She calls herself a proud racist. She’s denounced African refugees as Muslim infiltrators and criminals spreading HIV.
Are you nominating her to actually serve in New York, an incredibly important post for Israel?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: It is indeed an incredibly important post and anyone I’ll nominate, and I haven’t done so, will have to abide and will abide by the mainstream positions that I’ve advocated and I welcome the fact that the United States has a multiracial, in pluralistic (ph) society. So does Israel. And as anyone I appoint will have to reflect the value that I attach to that quality and our democracy and in yours.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you are not appointing her?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: I haven’t, but I’m telling you —
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you won’t? BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: That anyone that I will appoint will abide stringently by that view that I’ve advocated throughout my lifetime. And it’s not proforma. It’s not lip service. I really believe that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. Sounds like you’re saying she’s not coming to New York.
I want to ask you about some of the Americans coming to Israel. Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, is visiting Israel this week and he’s presumed to be running for president here, as you know. Do you plan to meet with him?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Of course. I’ll meet with everyone. Why not? I meet with Republican governors and Democratic governors. I’m not avoiding the question. And, actually, I’m – I’m rushing right into it. I’d meet with every American representative, governor, senator, members of Congress, and I think it’s – it’s my job and I think it’s important for Israel’s bipartisan support in the United States. I make a point of it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. Because for the first time there was a poll from Gallup last month that showed Democrats are likelier to sympathize with Palestinians than with Israelis for the first time. I know it’s easy to dismiss polls, but this seems to be a reflection of public sentiment in the United States that relates directly to Israel’s influence in America. Forty-nine percent of Democrats sympathize with Palestinians, 38 percent with Israelis. Do you think that matters?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Yes, I do think it matters. And I think we have to work harder to persuade our Democratic colleagues or those of – those Democratic – our Democratic colleagues who forget, perhaps, that Israel is the solitary democracy in the Middle East, that America has no better friend and no better ally than Israel.
But I’ll tell you why I think this happens. First of all, it’s happening over time. It happened over time. It’s not related to this or that administration in Israel because it happened, it continued under the previous government as well. I think there is a demonization of Israel in some of the reports — many of the reports that come out of here. And I think there is a portion of the American public that finds it hard to understand that once you – you enter the – the realm of nations, you have to act to defend yourself. And I think we have to work hard to persuade both sides of the aisle —
MARGARET BRENNAN: Democrats.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: And the independents in between. Yes, both sides of the aisle, and — in this case Democrats, because we have solid support among independents and solid support among Republicans and considerable support among Democrats. But I’m not going to give up.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your time this morning.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s it for us today. Thank you for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.