On this “Face the Nation” broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Sue Gordon, Former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence
- Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines
- Dr. Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer
- Governor Kate Brown, D-Oregon
- Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Former FDA Commissioner
- Anthony Salvanto, CBS News Elections & Surveys Director
- A preview of Scott Pelley‘s 60 Minutes interview with Bob Woodward about his book ‘Rage.’
Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan in Washington. And this week on FACE THE NATION, as the West Coast struggles to beat back devastating fires in a COVID-complicated world, the candidates enter the final phase of campaign 2020.
Saturday in Las Vegas, it was the voters who were off and running to see President Trump in person. Mostly maskless and not doing much social distancing.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: My people go out and vote. There’s no suppression.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Both former Vice President Joe Biden and Mister Trump have picked up the pace of their campaign travel, but most voters already know who they’re voting for, and the focus is changing to how. President Trump says the only way he’ll lose is if Democrats rig the election.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: People died and they’re getting ballots. They’re sending them to dogs. You see that? Dogs got ballot. Everybody’s getting ballots. Probably everybody but Republican are going to get the ballots, right?
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll talk with the former deputy director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon about election security. What impact will the President’s handling of the pandemic had in key battleground states? Journalist Bob Woodward’s bombshell book and audiotapes of President Trump reveal he knew how dangerous the virus was in early February but he did not level with the American people.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (February 7/Washington Post): It goes through air, Bob. That’s always tougher than the touch. It’s also more deadly than even your, you know, your– strenuous flus. This is deadly stuff.
(February 23, 2020): We have it very much under control.
(February 26, 2020): You treat this like a flu.
(March 30, 2020): Stay calm. It will go away.
JOE BIDEN: He knew how deadly it was. It was much more deadly than the flu. He knew and purposely played it down. Worse, he lied to the American people.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll get an update on the fires from Oregon Governor Kate Brown, where officials warn of a potential mass fatality incident as they search for survivors. Plus, in our continuing coverage of the impact of COVID-19, we’ll speak with the head of Pfizer. One pharmaceutical company hard at work on a vaccine. And we’ll hear from former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb. And the CEO of United Airlines about the financial future of the airline industry.
It’s all just ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. Across America challenging times continue as we head into the final fifty-day stretch before Election Day. But this Sunday morning, no threat is more imminent than what is happening on the West Coast. With at least thirty-three dead and dozens more missing. There are sixty-two large fires burning in California, Oregon, and Washington state. More than five million acres have burned. Thousands of homes have been destroyed, and, once again, the hardest hit are the underserved communities.
We begin this morning with Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, joining us from her home in Salem. Good morning to you, Governor.
GOVERNOR KATE BROWN (D-Oregon/@OregonGovBrown): Good morning. Thank you so much for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We have seen reports that at least ten people have died, dozens are missing. State officials are– are warning of a potential mass fatality event. When will you have these fires under control?
GOVERNOR KATE BROWN: Well, the good news is that the weather has stabilized. Just to give your viewers a perspective about what’s happening on the ground about every year for the last ten years, we burn about five hundred thousand acres. This year, this week alone, we’ve burned over a million acres of beautiful Oregon. We’ve got fires on the coast. We got fires in communities right abutting our metropolitan areas and southern Oregon has been devastated. We’ve had over forty thousand Oregonians who’ve had to evacuate, and we have a half a million Oregonians who are on some level of evacuation status. So these have been devastating. As I said the good news is that the weather is stabilizing, and it gives our hardworking firefighters an opportunity to go out and be proactive and build containment lines.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you have clarity, yet, on how the fire started?
GOVERNOR KATE BROWN: No. The– that will be investigated over the days and weeks ahead, but I have to tell you, we saw the perfect firestorm. We saw incredible winds. We saw very cold, hot temperatures. And, of course, we have a landscape that has seen thirty years of drought. This is truly the bellwether for climate change on the West Coast. And this is a wake-up call for all of us that we have got to do everything in our power to tackle climate change.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, I– I understand that’s your conviction. I know a former Oregon lawmaker who’s written an op-ed in The Washington Post, though, saying you can’t blame climate change. Instead, it’s a failure of your state government to prepare and that warnings were ignored regarding mismanagement of Oregon’s forests. What is your response to that?
GOVERNOR KATE BROWN: Well, I stood up a fire council about two and a half years ago. Folks came together, Republicans, Democrats, to tackle the issues. The council had an extensive report and called for extensive investments in our communities, harvesting and thinning. Unfortunately, the Republicans walked away from the legislative session and we were unable to get that done. But I would say this: it’s both. It’s decades of mismanagement of our forests in this country, and it is the failure to tackle climate change. We need to do both. And we can.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We now know because of these fires all along the West Coast that Oregon has the worst air quality in the world. How are you keeping residents and your firefighters safe from this health threat and COVID at the same time?
GOVERNOR KATE BROWN: So, we stood up our COVID modules early on. We were, obviously, aware that this could be a challenging fire season and our Oregon Health Authority, our Department of Forestry and our state fire marshal office came together early to develop these COVID modules. We’ve had thousands of firefighters helping fight fire in Oregon the past several weeks. The good news is so far we’ve seen no incidences of COVID. They’ve had to basically recreate our entire firefighting systems and they’ve done a phenomenal job. And doing that while working extremely hard, taking heroic efforts to save the lives of Oregonians across the state.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’ve had thousands of people have to evacuate, some potentially left homeless. Your state is one of those automatically sending ballots to voters at their home address. So, how is this going to affect voting in the upcoming election?
GOVERNOR KATE BROWN: I just have to say, I was at the state fairgrounds yesterday. I met Red Cross volunteers, one of them, Brandi, she had to evacuate her family before she could come to work for the Red Cross. I met a couple who had also been evacuated. They were paying it forward. They were helping their fellow Oregonians by serving food and volunteering at the state fairgrounds. So Oregonians have done a phenomenal job helping out, stepping up for each other like we always do.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Will they be able to vote?
GOVERNOR KATE BROWN: In terms of voting–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yep. Go ahead.
GOVERNOR KATE BROWN: In terms of voting, we were the first state in the country to be vote by mail. We have systems in place. I am confident that our secretary of state is working hard as we speak to make sure that every eligible Oregonian gets a ballot. And we’ll make sure they have the opportunity to participate in this election. In Oregon–
MARGARET BRENNAN: In-person if needed?
GOVERNOR KATE BROWN: –we believe that your vote is your voice and every single voice matters.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And in-person if needed, to be clear?
GOVERNOR KATE BROWN: Absolutely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
GOVERNOR KATE BROWN: We continue to allow folks to vote in person if needed.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Wonderful. Governor, thank you very much for your time and good luck to you.
We know that Americans on the West Coast are fighting two unprecedented events at the same time, the worst ever fire season and this global pandemic. CBS News National Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.
MARK STRASSMANN (CBS News National Correspondent): Outside Pacific Northwest fire zones, it’s the double whammy. Evacuees fleeing flames escape one evolving crisis only to drop into another.
MAN #1: Now, leaving–
MARK STRASSMANN: The ongoing COVID threat. New arrivals, many without masks, get screened first. But people wonder who here has the virus.
MAN #2: Our goal is to get everybody housed into non-congregate shelters, meaning hotels.
MARK STRASSMANN: Every day wildfires burn more areas into a page from dystopian fiction. COVID compounds the fight to hold off the flames, and fires compound the fight to hold off the virus.
WOMAN: I feel it a little bit, like, in my throat now even with my mask. But, yeah, it’s like– it’s the worst.
MARK STRASSMANN: Firefighters on frontlines spread out even more. Homeowners become hold-outs, COVID’s one reason. Research shows air pollution generated by wildfires may make the virus especially deadly. Most of COVID America shows improving two-week trends. New cases and deaths nationally both down by about twenty percent. Noteworthy because of the wildfires. In both California and Oregon, positivity rates have been improving. But another warning this week: Expect our COVID crisis to continue, even deep into next year.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI (Thursday): We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter because it’s not going to be easy.
MARK STRASSMANN: Getting harder by the week, financial challenges for millions of Americans. In one survey, one-third of small businesses will have to cut wages or payrolls by the end of the month if there is no federal aid. In another, a majority of black and Latino Americans report serious financial problems in New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago. Americans hunger for distractions.
MAN #1: Clemson playing with a lot of pace here.
MARK STRASSMANN: And football is back. College teams competed yesterday, although many games were canceled. It’s week one in the NFL. Thirteen games today. But only Jacksonville, where the Jaguars play the Colts will let in any fans. Every seat was sanitized. Stadium officials practiced distancing spectators. Seventeen thousand fans will be allowed in, twenty percent of the stadium’s capacity.
MARK STRASSMANN: Here in Atlanta the Falcons play the Seattle Seahawks. Inside Mercedes Benz Stadium, all the stands will be empty today and at least through the end of September. So much of American life these days is like an NFL team right before kickoff, have a game plan but know how to adjust quickly. Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thanks, Mark Strassmann.
One of the companies hard at work on developing a vaccine for COVID-19 is Pfizer, and CEO Albert Bourla joins us now from Westchester, New York. Good morning to you.
ALBERT BOURLA, PH.D. (Chairman and CEO of Pfizer): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you still expect to know by next month if your vaccine is effective?
ALBERT BOURLA: Yes, in our base case, we have quite the good chance-more than sixty percent that we will know if the product works or not by the end of October. But, of course, that doesn’t mean that it works. It means that we will know if it works.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And then the time clock starts on government approval, which is a key factor there. I want to ask you about an announcement from Pfizer yesterday, which was that you’re going to expand your vaccine trial to increase diversity. You’re going to go from thirty thousand people up to forty-four thousand. What do you mean by diversity and what does it do for you?
ALBERT BOURLA: Yes, this study has recruited very quickly. So volunteers from all over the country raised their hands to participate. So we are all– almost done with thirty thousand people. Now, we feel quite comfortable with the safety of the product. So we want to expand to more vulnerable populations. For example, we go to younger people. Right now, the study recruits from eighteen to eighty-five. Now we will go to sixteen years old. Also, we will go to people with special conditions, chronic conditions like H– HIV patients, but also we will try to use it to increase the diversity of the population.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And by diversity, I know in your current study, about a quarter of the participants are racial minorities. We know that when it comes to the infections from COVID-19, it is black and brown America that is disproportionately being hit. Is it hard to recruit racial minorities for your test? And– and should there be more in this next phase? If you’re going from a quarter, what’s your goal for the percentage this time?
ALBERT BOURLA: Yeah, I think we should strive to have as– as more diverse population as possible, but right now we are not bad. Actually, we have a population that globally only sixty percent are Caucasians, forty percent approximately minorities. Also, forty-four percent are older people. And we try, of course, to– to increase with particular emphasis on African-Americans and Latinos.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Those specific racial minorities– minorities are who you’re targeting. Why is it hard to recruit them in the first place?
ALBERT BOURLA: I think it’s not more hard than the other people, but it is also the focus of our vaccine’s efforts are in places where there is a lot of disease right now. And that reflects, I think, also the diversity of the population where our clinical sites are, not necessarily the nation.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Pfizer and a handful of the other big pharma companies came out with this letter earlier in the week pledging not to cut corners on safety. A number of prominent scientists at the FDA, the agency that will have to say whether your vaccine is safe, also came out with a public letter pledging the same. Can you say to our viewers, though, very clearly here on the science and on the protocols that it just– they are going to have to wait until 2021 to get that shot in the arm?
ALBERT BOURLA: I don’t know if they have to wait until 2021, because, as I said, our studies, we have a good chance that we will know if the product works by the end of October. And then, of course, it is regulator’s job to issue a license or not. But what I know is we have to go out and–
MARGARET BRERNNAN: So you think you could get the FDA to approve it as safe and distribute it across to Americans before the end of the year?
ALBERT BOURLA: I cannot say what the FDA will do. But I think it’s a likely scenario, and we are preparing for it. For example, we started already manufacturing and we have already manufactured hundreds of thousands of doses, so just in case we have a good study readout, conclusive and FDA plus the advisory committee feels comfortable but we will be ready.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There are six U.S. pharmaceutical companies that have taken money from U.S. taxpayers as part of this investment to– to jump start a vaccine. Your company chose not to take that taxpayer money as part of your research, which means if you fail that comes at a loss to Pfizer and your own pocketbook. So why do you think that’s worth the risk? And what does it actually buy you? How much faster do things work?
ALBERT BOURLA: You’re right, if it fails, it goes to our pocket. And at the end of the day, it’s only money. That will not break the company, although it is going to be painful because we are investing one billion and a half at least in COVID right now. But the reason why I did it was because I wanted to liberate our scientists from any bureaucracy. When you get money from someone that always comes with strings. They want to see how we are going to progress, what type of moves you are going to do. They want reports. I didn’t want to have any of that. I wanted them– basically I gave them an open checkbook so that they can worry only about scientific challenges, not anything else. And also, I wanted to keep Pfizer out of politics, by the way.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, on– out of politics, it’s interesting because we’re talking, of course, about people being concerned of political influence to try to expedite a vaccine. I know you’re saying that you won’t cut corners to do that. But, backing up, to the question of when this is available to American people, what do you think is the best way to distribute it to the American people? Should the government be doing that?
ALBERT BOURLA: No, if you are speaking about who should get it or not, I do think that the healthcare authorities of every–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Not just who but how.
ALBERT BOURLA: The how I think is going to be very difficult for the government to do it. Likely they will collaborate with us because shipping medicines, it is complex and particularly when you want special storage conditions. But we know how to do it very well. So I think it’s going to be a collaboration between the government of each country and us. But to who will get the vaccine, I think it’s something that the authorities should decide. In the U.S., for example, the CDC.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Doctor Bourla, good luck to your scientists. Thank you for your time today.
And we’ll be right back with more FACE THE NATION. So stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re back with former FDA commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb, who is in Washington this week. He’s a fellow at AEI and he also sits on the board of Pfizer. Good morning to you.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB, M.D. (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You have consistently said on this program that American people shouldn’t expect to get that shot in the arm until 2021. Doctor Bourla just seemed pretty optimistic, and he said it’s not impossible to get it before that time. What is a realistic timeline?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, he was speaking to when Pfizer’s likely to have data, and they’ve done internal modeling about when they could have a result from the clinical trial. And this– this clinical trial is an event-based trial, meaning that they have to wait until enough people in the clinical trial actually develop COVID disease to get a readout from the trial and whether or not the vaccine is actually preventing people from getting signs and symptoms of COVID. The initial market entry of this vaccine, if you will, is not going to be like a traditional approval of a vaccine where it’s sort of a binary event and a vaccine gets licensed for a broad community. What it’s likely to be is offered under an emergency use authorization to a very narrow population, initially, perhaps, front-line health care workers and first responders, maybe people above a certain age who were– who are more likely to have a bad outcome from COVID. And then after the FDA gets more experience with the vaccine and after the original data set from these clinical trials continues to mature, then the FDA is going to slowly walk down that approval, meaning let it be available to successively larger groups of people while they collect very rigorous evidence in the post-market. So this is likely to be a very staged market entry. I think that’s what people should expect. But for most people they will not have access to a vaccine until 2021. I think maybe the first quarter of 2021, probably the first half of 2021. And that’s assuming that these vaccines are demonstrated to be safe and effective in these large trials. I think the people who will get it this year are going to be people, select populations, who are either at high risk of contracting the virus and perhaps spreading it or at high risk of having a bad outcome to it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So when the President said last week that we remain on track to deliver a vaccine before the end of the year, maybe even before November 1st, you think he’s only referring to that emergency-use scenario and a very small part of the population, is that right?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think that that’s right. I think we’re going to be using this vaccine, at least initially, almost in a therapeutic sense. We’re not going to use it like we use a traditional vaccine where you broadly vaccinate a population to try to prevent the virus from spreading across the population. What we’re going to be doing is targeting the vaccine to select– select groups of people who are at very high risk of a bad outcome from COVID to try to reduce their risk. But it’s not going to be used to achieve broad-based immunity, at least in 2020, perhaps in 2021. And I think it’s likely that if the FDA is able to get topline data from– from the trial that Doctor Bourla was talking about at the end of October it’s going to take them a number of weeks to even turn around an initial authorization. They’re going to want to bring that before an advisory committee. They’re going to want to scrub that data set very hard. So this isn’t something you can just turn around in a couple of days. So, you know, I think hopefully we’ll see some availability in 2020.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I’m optimistic that we will if these trials are successful, but it’ll be very limited availability.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, and you need people willing to take it. Kaiser had a study out saying sixty-two percent of Americans polled worry political pressure from the administration will cause the government to rush approval before it is actually safe. Why do you think the public is losing faith in these institutions? And does the problem go away after Election Day?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think perhaps some of it goes away after Election Day. There’s a lot of anticipation around the election as an artificial deadline for vaccine news, and I think that that deadline is going to come and go. I don’t think we’re going to see an authorization before– before the election. So, hopefully, everyone just takes a deep breath after the election. You know, look, I think that these things have been talked about in a political context, and that’s atypical for the approval process for any product. It’s not– it’s not extraordinary. We’ve seen it before, but it’s atypical and especially with a vaccine–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: –that people want to be confident and you want to try to keep the politics and the science separate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. We’re going to take a quick break and come back with more from Doctor Scott Gottlieb in our next half hour. So please stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Tonight on 60 MINUTES, Bob Woodward talks to Scott Pelley in the first television interview about his new book, Rage. Here is a preview.
SCOTT PELLEY: Did the President ever disclose to you why he wasn’t telling the public what the stakes were with the coronavirus?
BOB WOODWARD: So in March, I asked exactly that question. You know, what’s going on? And the President said–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (on the phone): Well, I think Bob really to be honest with you.
BOB WOODWARD (on the phone): Sure, I want you to be.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (on the phone): I wanted to– I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down–
BOB WOODWARD (on the phone): Yes.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (on the phone): –because I don’t want to create a panic.
BOB WOODWARD: I think he did not understand the American public. And he said, “Well, I don’t want to create a panic.” We know from history, when the public is told the truth, they organize. We have a problem, we’re going to step up. And Trump thought, oh, well, they’ll panic when there is a crisis, when the President, particularly, knows something, it’s time to tell the public in some form. He failed.
SCOTT PELLEY: You write in the book that the President’s handling of the virus reflects his instincts, habits, and style. What are those?
BOB WOODWARD: Denial, making up his own facts.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s tonight on 60 MINUTES, 7:00 PM Eastern and Pacific on CBS.
We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back with more from Doctor Scott Gottlieb and United CEO.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We are continuing our conversation now with Doctor Scott Gottlieb. You just heard that sound bite from Bob Woodward. There has been a lot of scrutiny this week of the President’s response to COVID-19 given the revelations in Bob Woodward’s book. For any President their very first responsibility is to protect the American public. From your point of view, do you think the critical failing here was one of public messaging or was it operational?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, the public messaging wasn’t clear and consistent in the outset and could have been better at all levels of government. I think if you look back in February, and I think when history looks back, the biggest failing over that month was that we were– we were situationally blind. We had no idea where this virus was and wasn’t spreading. And so when it came time to have to shut down cities, rather than focus on the cities that were truly epidemic, like New York City, we went for a simultaneous shutdown order across the whole country when that was unnecessary now, in retrospect, because there were a lot of cities where the virus wasn’t spreading at that time and we could have focused on mitigation. But we had no diagnostic test in the field to screen people. And what– what CDC officials were relying on and telling the coronavirus task force was that there was no spread of coronavirus in the United States in February, they were telling them that because they were looking at what we call the influenza-like illness surveillance network, basically a surveillance network of who’s presenting to hospitals with flu-like symptoms. And they said that they’re seeing no spike in people presenting with respiratory symptoms, therefore, coronavirus must not be spreading. And they were adamant about that. I was talking to White House officials over this time period. They were adamant about that. And I suspect the President was being told as well that this virus wasn’t spreading in the United States. And that may have impacted what he did and didn’t say and his willingness to, you know, as he said, talk it down a little bit because he was of the perception that this was not spreading here in the United States. That really was the tragic mistake, not just that we didn’t have the information, but we were so confident in drawing conclusions off of what proved to be faulty information and incomplete information.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you saying he was failed by health officials? Are you letting him off the hook?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, I think in this respect, the White House leadership was failed by health officials. We did not have a diagnostic in the field, so we couldn’t screen for it. We should have. We should have started working on that in January. And we over-relied on a surveillance system that was built for flu and not for coronavirus without recognizing that it wasn’t going to be as sensitive at detecting coronavirus spread as it was for flu because the two viruses spread very differently. Those were two critical failings. Now, you could say, well, the President put those people in place, he’s responsible. You know you can make second-order arguments around that. But I think ultimately the White House did not have the information they need to make decisions. The key function of agencies and the government is to provide policymakers with accurate, actionable information. The White House didn’t have it. And I had a lot of conversations with the White House over this time period because I was concerned it was spreading here, and I was pushing them on that. And they were– they were telling me over and over that they were hearing from top officials from the agencies that they were pretty confident that it wasn’t spreading here. I think when history looks back, that’s going to be a key moment. That’s what was going on over February.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. All right. Doctor Gottlieb, always good to have your analysis. Thank you for joining us.
We want to turn now to Sue Gordon, she is the former principal deputy director of National Intelligence, and resigned in August of last year. She joins us this morning from Sea Island, Georgia. Good morning to you.
SUE GORDON (Former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence): Good morning, Margaret. Thanks for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Sure. You’ve got nearly forty years of experience in intelligence at the CIA and other agencies, and you had an op-ed this week in which you argued that election interference is a grave and persistent threat. You said you’re frustrated with how all of us as a country are talking about election security. You said it’s “…turned vitriolic, diversionary and unhelpful, and we are doing our enemies’ work for them.” What do you mean by that?
SUE GORDON: So I think three things, Margaret. The first is I believe the most significant strategic threat to America is if we end up not believing in ourselves, and I’ve shared this with the President, there– almost anything else we can overcome. But stopping to believe in the way that we govern in the way that we act would be devastating. The second is we know our adversaries are attacking our elections. There’s– there’s little doubt on it. They continue to, they have in the past. And that’s the bedrock of our democracy. But I think we’re so focused on the elections themselves that we’re forgetting that their intention is to achieve various interests. In the case of Russia it’s to undermine democracy. In the case of China, it’s to create an economic advantage and down the line. And when we don’t understand the intention, when we don’t understand the intention is to make us weak, and what we do is create a conversation that sows distrust in our leaders and our institutions, we’ve done their work for them. And what I wanted to do is provide some clarity around what we know, what we don’t, what we’re doing well and what we need to do better.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I hear you and I also hear you putting blame in– in a lot of places for contributing to this. I do want to point out something the White House, the– the President said from the White House podium this week, which was that he again said that his campaign was spied on. And then last night at a campaign rally, he said this about the 2020 election:
PRESIDENT TRUMP (Last Night): And it’s Democrats, they’re going to– they’re trying to rig this election. If you go to New Jersey, if you go to Virginia, if you go to Pennsylvania, if you go to California to look at some of these races, every one– every one of these races was a fraud, missing ballots.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is this undermining of institutions you’re talking about coming from the top?
SUE GORDON: Yeah. So I’m– I’m going to always hold the President more responsible than anybody else because he’s, well, the President and his voice carries further, speaks louder. And so I think he always carries disproportionate responsibility. And that message that you can’t trust our system, that you can’t trust the vote, that you can’t trust the other party that you can’t trust is exactly what the Russians particularly hope to achieve. And their aim would be to sow to the divisions and to get Americans to say, you know what, it’s not worth it. I can’t trust it. We’re not going to vote. But he’s not the only one. When the other party says that a difference in policy means that he is malfeasant or evil or being controlled, that too is undermining it. So, his is the biggest voice. But there are others.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. This week, the U.S. Treasury actually put sanctions on a Russian agent who was part of a campaign–
SUE GORDON: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: –to denigrate Joe Biden. This is the Trump administration–
SUE GORDON: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: –acknowledging this is happening. When you were in office, was it the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia was trying to help President Trump win?
SUE GORDON: So, again, go back to the interests of Russia. Russia is going to support anything that advances its interests. If they believe that President Trump’s policies are ones that advantage them, then they will. And that’s what you see. It doesn’t mean that they prefer the human, it means that they’re talking about the policies. And remember that Russia is a very capable adversary. They’ve been at this for a long time. They’ve been at this since the Cold War, and they will use human, they will use digital means in order to advance their interests. And I think that’s the thing that I would stress.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SUE GORDON: When our adversaries attack us, they are doing it for their purpose. And when we don’t respond properly, we are serving their aims.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you believe our election infrastructure, where you go to vote, how you go to vote, that it is adequately protected?
SUE GORDON: Yeah, I am really proud of the work both the government has done to organize efforts not only at the federal level, but all the way down to state and local to protect the physical infrastructure around voting. And companies have leapt into the tray to– tray to try and protect the infrastructure. So I would never say that it is impenetrable because we have this glorious, open nation that has lots of endpoints. But I think we are far better than we were in ’18–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, and we know there was Russian– and we know there was Russian malware installed in election systems in Florida.
SUE GORDON: Yeah, what we’re talking about more is the systems around the elections, not the election infrastructure itself. So I think– I think our infrastructure is as well protected as it’s ever been, even though we can do better on that front. But, remember, half of it is influence, and when we look at the information that is being amplified and the misinformation that is going through our social media, we probably have more work to do on that front to ensure that inauthentic messaging that would sow divisions is more protected. So, we have more work to do there. But– but as far as the infrastructure itself, even though, it can never be a hundred percent, we’re in pretty good stead on that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you mean by that? How do people at home protect themselves from being manipulated by what you’re describing?
SUE GORDON: Okay. So two ways I would say is for every individual, stop forwarding, sending messages that you don’t know the origin. We know that on everything from COVID to mail fraud, our adversaries are amplifying putting messages and that look authentic. And if citizens just keep sending that out we’re doing a pretty good job. So stop amplifying messages and forwarding message that you don’t know their origin. And the second is start being some critic– doing some critical thinking when you receive information and if it’s someone telling you what to think or that you can’t believe then do some research on your own. And cybersecurity across the board. Pay attention to cyber hygiene. It will save a lot of heartache.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you said Twitter is of concern to you in particular and social media. Sue Gordon, it is great to get your insight. We’re going to have to leave it there for time today–
SUE GORDON: Thanks, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: –but hope to have you back.
And all of us here on FACE THE NATION will be back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The airline industry is one of the hardest-hit this year due to the coronavirus. We want to go now to the CEO of United Airlines, Scott Kirby, who joins us from Beaver Creek, Colorado. Good morning to you.
SCOTT KIRBY (CEO of United Airlines): Good morning, Margaret. Thanks for having me this morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Sure. The U.S. taxpayer, via the U.S. Congress, provided United and other airlines with emergency relief. United took about five billion in cash and loans as part of that emergency program. The deal expires October 1st. That’s just two and a half weeks away. Do you still–
SCOTT KIRBY: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: –expect to have to lay off roughly sixteen thousand people?
SCOTT KIRBY: Yeah. So, first, I want to say what the administration, the Congress, both Houses, both parties– it was a remarkable bipartisan response, really to rescue not just the aviation industry, but the whole economy back in March, an unprecedented bipartisan response. But this is lasting longer and is deeper than most people thought back then. And our revenue, we just said, is going to be down eighty-five percent in the third quarter. And in a world like that, United Airlines and others come October 1st without an extension of the CARES Act, we’re hopeful that there will be before October 1st, is going to be forced to lay off employees just to survive. We have confidence in the long-term future and being able to bring everyone back. But getting through a crisis where revenue is down eighty-five percent is just not sustainable for an industry like aviation or almost any business for that matter.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How many people will be laid off?
SCOTT KIRBY: Well, at the moment, it’s– it’s sixteen thousand, though we continue to work with our unions. Our unions have been fantastic partners. In a world where revenue is down that much, the layoffs are far smaller than they otherwise would have been. And we just got a deal last week that would save about three thousand of those jobs which are pilots. And we continue to work with unions on others. But the reality is without more government support for the whole economy there’s going to be more layoffs to come across the economy.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand you’re saying you hope more federal assistance is coming, but talks are stalled in– in Congress. Why can’t you go to the private markets for that money? What, specifically, do you need from the federal government?
SCOTT KIRBY: So at United we have gone to the private markets. We raised about eighteen billion dollars since this started in capital and– to get through the crisis. But in a world where we’re still burning twenty-five million dollars per day, you just can’t go forever on that. And our view is demand is not coming back. People are not going to get back and travel like they did before until there’s a vaccine that’s been widely distributed and– and available to a large portion of the population. And I hope that happens sooner, but our guess is that’s the end of next year. And so you just got to survive those losses through that time and be ready to bounce back. And we’ll be prepared to bounce back and bounce back quickly. But really, you know, without government support for an industry that’s as critical and an economic engine for the whole economy, that’s really the point for aviation, is we drive economic activity not just for ourselves, but for the communities that we serve.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. And– and I want to underscore something you just said there, because you said you don’t think business will be able to come back until there is a vaccine widely distributed. There is the perception, particularly among some conservatives, that the economy can come back while the virus continues to circulate. But you run an international airline, and right now Americans aren’t even allowed into Europe.
SCOTT KIRBY: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: They’re not allowed into Canada. They’re not allowed into China.
SCOTT KIRBY: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Your international revenue was down ninety-six percent year over year in the last quarter.
SCOTT KIRBY: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So is the bottom line here, you can’t do both at the same time.
SCOTT KIRBY: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The virus needs to be under control.
SCOTT KIRBY: Right. There are some parts of the economy that can recover and are doing well, but there are large parts of the economy, aviation is one of the most obvious, but anything to do with leisure, hospitality, meeting, convention services, restaurants are all hurting and– and, frankly, are near depression levels. And borders, as you say, are closed around the world. And that’s fifty percent of our revenue. And until borders open up that’s not coming back. Business travel is almost nonexistent as people are doing things like this as they get through the pandemic. And even leisure travel is down significantly from where it was before. And that’s just the reality. And in a business like ours, demand is not going to come back until people feel safe being around other people. And that’s going to take a vaccine. And that’s just the reality. Some businesses can recover earlier but in aviation and all the industries that we support, it’s going to take longer.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Have you gotten any response from the Trump administration to this letter that you signed onto asking for some coordination with European officials for– for testing, for example, that would allow for travel to open?
SCOTT KIRBY: Look, what I would say is the administration and both parties, by the way, senators, congressmen and women on both sides of the aisle are very supportive of aviation, both the– trying to find ways to open up borders through testing, but also through extension of the payroll support program. We just have to get a bigger deal done. We’re kind of wrapped up in the bigger negotiations that are going on in Washington. But there’s really a lot of support for aviation. And people understand the importance to the economy. You know, we just seem to be tied up in the– in the Washington– the larger Washington discussions about the future. But there’s– there’s significant support.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Very quickly, why do you think it’s safe to fly?
SCOTT KIRBY: Look, at United Airlines, we’ve been a leader in safety from the– from the beginning of this. We’re very proud of it. We created a partnership with Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic called CleanPlus that’s helped us innovate and find ways to keep people safe, whether it’s electrostatic spraying every airplane. We were the first–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
SCOTT KIRBY: –really one of the first companies to require masks around the world. But I think the most important thing for safety on airplanes and the least understood is the airflow on airplanes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
SCOTT KIRBY: The air– aircrafts are designed to, you know, have the air come out of the ceiling to the floorboards and refiltered through HEPA-grade filters every two to three minutes. It’s literally no place that you can ever be that’s anywhere close to an airplane.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
SCOTT KIRBY: And we’ve been doing some studies with the DARPA that’ll– that’ll help demonstrate–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
SCOTT KIRBY: –how safe aircraft really are.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mister Kirby, good luck to you. Thank you for your time.
We’ll be back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: President Trump heads to Arizona to campaign tomorrow, and both candidates will be in Minnesota later this week. Both of those states are on the target list for the campaigns. Our CBS News Battleground Tracker shows Vice President Biden now with an edge in both. In Arizona, he is up three points, forty-seven to forty-four, and in Minnesota, a state that President Trump lost in 2016 by just one and a half points, now Mister Biden is up by a nine-point margin. CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto joins us with more from his poll. Good morning to you, Anthony.
ANTHONY SALVANTO (CBS News Elections and Surveys Director/@SalvantoCBS): Good morning, Margaret. How are you?
MARGARET BRENNAN: I– I’m well. So it was tight, we knew that in– in Arizona. But now Biden has pulled ahead. What accounts for that?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: Well, we saw this start to move over the summer, Margaret, amid concern over coronavirus and how the administration was handling it. That is still a huge factor. We find that people who are concerned about the virus, and there are still many, are less likely to vote for the President, and we find Joe Biden with a lead on people’s perception of who would handle the outbreak better. But we wanted to understand more about why. And people tell us that looking back, they’re more inclined to give the administration blame for how this was handled than to give them credit for perhaps mitigating the effects of the outbreak. And, you know, I should add, Margaret, the President, as you noted, is still very much in play here, is in the mix. And one of the reasons for that is continued strong support from his base, whose Republican base is still with him. And they also see this very differently when we ask them to look back. They’re more inclined to see the President as having staved off what could have been a worse outbreak by doing what he did. And so I think that underscores the fact that it’s how people evaluate things, not just what they evaluate, and the framework that they use in comparison that really matters and shifts votes here. Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: A key point. And– and what about on the issue of pocketbooks? What about the economy?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: The President does relatively best on the economy of the issues that we measure here. And, in fact, a little bit of an edge over Joe Biden on it. It’s interesting, and particularly for his supporters, the President’s supporters, we find that even if they’ve been financially hit by the impact of the outbreak, they still give the President credit and still think that his policies are going to make things better.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So tell me what’s happening in Minnesota. Because the Trump campaign has said they think they can flip it. But your data is not showing that.
ANTHONY SALVANTO: The white working-class voters that were so important to helping the President make this close in 2016 are still largely with him. But some of that base has eroded. Now that base still believes the President is better on the economy, and better, specifically, when we ask about things like manufacturing, like agriculture, industries that may be important to them. But going the opposite way, Joe Biden is gaining in this state, as he is in many states, with, in particular, college-degree-holding voters, college-degree-holding women. There’s a reason for that. They say, and even larger numbers that they’re voting for Joe Biden to oppose the President. They feel in even larger numbers they don’t like how the President handles himself personally. And I think if there’s one key group that’s been trending towards the Democrats you want to watch in all these states, it is those college-degree-holding women with whom Joe Biden is building much larger leads than the Democrats had back in 2016. Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Minnesota was the state where this social justice movement has really erupted out of following the death of George Floyd. What were the perceptions that you found there in terms of what’s actually going on with the protests?
ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yeah. We wanted to understand just how people could see this so differently. We know that folks on the left and the right have very different views of the protests. But you look at folks on the left and they emphasize seeing the protesters as intending to raise awareness of racial discrimination, trying to change policing policies. But for folks on the right, they look at it and they see protesters as intending to destroy property and be violent and looting and also as perhaps even trying to overthrow the government. What I think this underscores is that different groups of folks can look at the same thing and come away focusing on different aspects of it. And that, again, underscores this why it is people may come to very different views. I think, Margaret, I would add that that’s a thread running through this entire race–which is to say, voters are very locked in. We see more than nine in ten people who say that they have already made up their minds and they’re not moving.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Key point. Anthony Salvanto, thank you so much for your analysis.
We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s it for us today. Thanks for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.
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