Full transcript of "Face the Nation," July 9, 2023


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

  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen 
  • U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware
  • Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova
  • Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican 
  • NASA chief scientist and climate adviser Kate Calvin   

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: Climate change, the global economy, and war in Eastern Europe all come to a head, as President Biden prepares for an overseas summit with NATO allies.

Record-breaking heat is driving Americans to see cooler temperatures. Even President Biden hit the beach over the weekend to recharge before he left for Europe. Climate change is just one of the challenges facing the world.

We spoke exclusively with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen from Beijing about her efforts to lower tension between the world’s two largest economies, even as trade disputes ramp up.

The war in Ukraine reached the 500-day mark, as President Biden made what he called a difficult decision to send controversial cluster bombs to help defeat the Russians. Delaware Democrat Senator Chris Coons and Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova will join us.

Plus, we will take a look at a new push by the nation’s governors to help children’s mental health with Utah’s Republican Governor Spencer Cox.

Finally, after a brutal week of blistering temperatures, can it get any hotter? The answer is yes. NASA’s chief scientist, Kate Calvin, will be here to explain why.

It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation. We’re going to take a closer look at the brutal heat that has settled in across the country during a later point in this broadcast. But this spoiler alert: The extreme weather is expected to intensify.

Another issue that’s heating up, trade disputes between the U.S. and China. Janet Yellen is the second Cabinet secretary to make a goodwill mission to Beijing in the last few weeks. We spoke with her exclusively before she departed China.

(Begin VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: At the top of your meeting with the Chinese vice premier, he actually acknowledged one of those awkward moments. He mentioned the Chinese spy balloon. He called it an airship.

Can you say at this point that tension has been smoothed over?

JANET YELLEN (U.S. Treasury Secretary): Well, what I can tell you is that I had a very constructive visit, I received a warm welcome, and had very substantive series of meetings.

We had substantive conversations about the global economy, developments in our own economies, financial markets, and a list of concerns that each of us brought to the table that we agreed to follow up on over time.


The U.S. ambassador to China, Nick Burns, told me just last month that four or five different American companies had been experiencing intimidation at the hand of Chinese authorities. And he pointed towards an espionage law that had recently been rolled out.

Did you get assurances that American firms won’t be intimidated?

SECRETARY JANET YELLEN: Well, that certainly is one of the concerns that I expressed.

I had the chance to meet with American businesses and to hear about their concerns, but — and, certainly, in my meetings, that is a concern that I raised. It’s something that we will have further conversations about, and try to address over time.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The administration has taken some targeted national security-focused measures that do impact trade and the economy, including some restrictions on high-end technology sales.

The administration is reportedly also considering restrictions on computer chips related to artificial technology and cloud computing. Do you have a sense of what the retaliation will be from China when the U.S. does this?

SECRETARY JANET YELLEN: Well, an objective of my trip was to explain that national security is something that we can’t compromise about and we will protect, and we will do so even if it harms our own narrow economic interests, but that, when we take such actions which do have an effect on the Chinese economy, that we will make sure that they are transparent, narrowly targeted, and well-explained.

And this is a point that I tried to make in my conversations with Chinese counterparts. I would point out that the Chinese also protect their own national security through export controls and other similar devices, including controls on outbound investment.

I explained that President Biden is examining potential controls on outbound investment in certain very narrow high-technology areas, and that, if we go forward with these, that they will be indeed very narrowly targeted, and not — should not be something that will have a significant impact on the investment climate between our two countries.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re talking there, I think, about the long-delayed executive order that would put some restrictions on what American companies can do when it comes to investing in China. Is that still in question?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Did you hear anything in your meetings that would make you tweak it, change it, pull back from it?

SECRETARY JANET YELLEN: Well, mainly, I tried to explain what it is that we’re contemplating.

It’s still something being discussed in the administration, and the timing of it is not — is not yet certain.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Does that mean there’s a chance that the Biden administration will drop it, that they won’t issue this executive order?

SECRETARY JANET YELLEN: Well, no final decision has been made. But, as I have said previously, this is something we’re looking at very carefully.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You did mention there an action China just took in regard to export controls, meaning they — they have this stranglehold on a lot of critical minerals, and they just blocked the export of two of them that are really essential for computer chips.


MARGARET BRENNAN: How should people understand this. Is — is this a warning shot? Is this Beijing saying, look at what we can do, and, if you take further restrictions, we’ll ramp it up from here?

SECRETARY JANET YELLEN: Well, I certainly expressed concern about this action, and contrasted it with the actions that we’ve taken.

Our own actions are narrowly targeted to address national security concerns. And I — it’s not clear that the actions that the Chinese took are similarly narrowly targeted at their national security concerns. So, this is an area that I expressed concern about.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you mean — are you suggesting there that it was just a retaliatory action?

SECRETARY JANET YELLEN: Well, potentially.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you concerned that this is the beginning of an escalation?

SECRETARY JANET YELLEN: Well, my purpose is to make sure that we don’t engage in a series of unintended escalatory actions that will be harmful to our overall economic relationship with one another.

And we have had very little contact, both senior officials, and also just the American people and the Chinese people have had very little contact with one another over the last several years, in part because of COVID. And that’s a situation where misunderstandings can develop.

We have a new team on the economic side in Beijing, that it’s important to establish person-to-person relationships, and to open ongoing channels of communication, where concerns can be aired and discussed. And I do think my trip has been successful in forging those relationships and creating the opportunity for a deeper set of more frequent contacts at our staff levels.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I was just in China. I know how much concern there is there about the slowing of the economy.

Are you concerned that the slowdown in China will have a negative impact and drag U.S. growth?

SECRETARY JANET YELLEN: Well, that is a topic that I discussed with my Chinese counterparts.

We talked about the policy actions that they think — see as appropriate to stimulate their economy and promote what they describe as high-quality growth. And I was able to better understand the actions that they do think are appropriate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How significant are the problems in the Chinese economy?

SECRETARY JANET YELLEN: You know, I — I think that they have opened up their economy following its closure from COVID and are working through a series of issues relating to issues in the property sector in real estate.

And consumer spending there has rebounded a little bit less. Consumers are showing more caution and saving — saving more than many commentators expected, many economic forecasters expected. But my counterparts talked about their perspective on this and the actions that they’re taking.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Before I let you go, I do want to ask you about the economy here at home.

What signals should Americans at home be looking for to understand that economic growth will be back at a point like it was before the pandemic?

SECRETARY JANET YELLEN: It’s my hope that and belief that there is a path to bring inflation down, in the context of a healthy labor market. And the data that I have seen suggests we’re on that path.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The jobs number did suggest a little bit of a slowdown there.

Is the risk of recession completely off the table, from your point of view? I mean, where do you put the odds?

SECRETARY JANET YELLEN: It’s not completely off the table.

But we would expect, with the job market as strong as it is now, to see a slower pace of ongoing job gains. Prime age labor force participation is at the highest level in several decades. So we’ve seen this strong job market attract workers back to it.

But as — as that stabilizes at a high level, we should expect the monthly job gains to be coming down toward a more normal level.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you can see our full conversation with Secretary Yellen on our Web site or our YouTube channel.

We turn now to Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons.

Good morning. Good to have you here.

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

MARGARET BRENNAN: A lot to talk about, but I want to start with China.

America’s reliant on its greatest adversary for key things, for missiles, for computer chips, electric vehicles. Do we need a domestic industrial policy? And why don’t we have one?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: We do have one.

Margaret, that’s what the CHIPS and Science bill that President Biden signed into law last year, that the Congress moved forward on a bipartisan basis has delivered, tens of billions of dollars of new investments in onshoring semiconductor chip manufacturing, a record number of new advanced manufacturing sites in the United States.

There is more work for us to do on this in this Congress. And Senator Schumer and Republicans in the Senate are leading work on that. So we have turned a corner on having an industrial policy in the United States that brings back manufacturing. That’s the core of Bidenomics, of rebuilding our economy from the middle out.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But what we were just talking about with the Treasury secretary is, August 1, China is going to stop the export of key minerals.

So, to make those ships, you need what China has.


MARGARET BRENNAN: So, where do you get that from? What’s the alternative?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: So, China is in a commanding position on the processing of strategic critical minerals. The administration has a plan, has a program under way with a dozen countries around the world that are our allies and partners who have untapped resources.

I was just on a bipartisan trip to Europe. We visited Norway, which has critical minerals in abundance, several of them, that we need, that China currently has. There is a plan and a path forward. And as long as we sustain our bipartisan support for it, I think there is a clear path to transition away from what is currently a dangerous dependency on China for these strategic minerals.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about Europe.

President Biden is leaving today on this trip that will involve a stop at NATO. I know that you have signed on to efforts to help Sweden get into NATO. But Turkey is standing in the way.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You have said you’re fine with withholding F-16s, those kind of military equipment provisions to Turkey until they back down.

Are they going to?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: We will have to see.

President Biden is directly, personally engaged in this diplomacy. The Greeks need and deserve security reassurances that the lessening of tensions with Turkey will continue. We are continuing to provide cutting- edge equipment like the F-35 to our critical NATO partner Greece, as long as Greece is reassured.

Sweden has taken the steps they should to address Turkey’s legitimate concerns. I remain hopeful that there will be a resolution of this before the Vilnius summit. We have 31 members of NATO today. There should be 32. Adding Finland and Sweden to NATO is a strategic defeat for Putin. It means that, no matter the outcome on the ground in Ukraine, he has failed in his objective to divide and weaken NATO.

Because of President Biden’s leadership, NATO is the strongest it’s ever been.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have another applicant, Ukraine…


MARGARET BRENNAN: … as you know.

The president gave an interview in which he said he doesn’t think Ukraine is ready to join NATO. Have you talked to him about it? And what specifically is it that he needs to see for them to be allowed in? They have been waiting since 2008.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Well, first, we can’t admit Ukraine to NATO right now. There’s a war going on that has to be resolved, that has to end with Ukrainian victory.

I was just on a bipartisan trip, as I mentioned, with Senator Murray, chair of Appropriations, to meet with E.U. leaders and NATO leaders. It’s important to keep in mind that what the Ukrainians are fighting for is full membership in Europe. And they are on track to join the E.U.

Joining the E.U. also means improving their transparency, their rule of law, their civil society, which lays the foundation for NATO membership in the future.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, President Zelenskyy has said he knows it’s in the future. It’s not drawing the United States into a war…


MARGARET BRENNAN: … in other words, if he were to get in this week, which the White House said he won’t.

But the president also said something about an Israel-style assurance of defense for Ukraine. That sounds very open-ended. We give billions of dollars to Israel. What does that mean for Ukraine?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Well, there has to be a security guarantee for Ukraine going forward. For them…


SENATOR CHRIS COONS: For them to be conceivably admissible to NATO, their equipment, their training, their military has to be up to NATO standards.

And we are moving them in that direction. But I will remind you, back in 1994, in Budapest, the U.S., U.K. and Russia persuaded Ukraine to give up their nuclear weapons…


SENATOR CHRIS COONS: … in exchange for a commitment to a territorial security guarantee.

Some sort of security guarantee for Ukraine has to be on the far side of this war, where so many Ukrainians are fighting and dying bravely to push back out the Russian aggressors, who are occupying 20 percent of Ukraine today.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you don’t expect any firm assurances out of this week’s summit, no timeline, no specifics?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Well, that’s a decision for 31 NATO members to make.

My hunch is, they will make real progress on Sweden accession, they will make real progress on sustaining our critical support in the middle of this counteroffensive. But I don’t think they will leave Vilnius with a specific timeline.

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden said that Ukraine’s military is running out of ammunition…


MARGARET BRENNAN: … and that was a factor in his decision to green-light providing cluster munitions.

Do you think that morally justified his decision to do this?


This was a very hard decision. The president really — he listened to all sides.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did you speak to him about it?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: I did not speak directly to him about this decision. I weighed in indirectly through folks in his core team.

But, bluntly, he looked at several different core factors. First, we are running out of .115 artillery munitions.


SENATOR CHRIS COONS: And they are burning through them at a remarkable rate, 6,000 to 8,000 a day. That’s a million a year.

We have a plan to bring back online the manufacturing of .155 shells at scale, but that won’t happen for months. They are at risk of losing this counteroffensive if they run out of those shells. We have a large stockpile of .155 shells that are cluster munitions.

It’s the Ukrainians who are asking to be able to use…


SENATOR CHRIS COONS: … these on their own soil. They have committed to monitoring their use, to remediating them after the war.

And, frankly, they will be tactically helpful against dug-in Russian troops that are behind large minefields. So, weighing all of those factors, the president made a tough call that I will support.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You will support.

I want to ask you as well about Iran. The president’s envoy to Iran, his name is Rob Malley.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And he told CBS that he is on leave right now pending a review of his security clearance.

He’s so central to the nuclear talks and also the point of contact for the hostage families. Have you been briefed on what’s happening?



SENATOR CHRIS COONS: On his security situation, I have not.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because, in your key role on Senate Foreign Relations…


MARGARET BRENNAN: … I would imagine there is some oversight.

There is some reporting that the FBI is now involved. Are you concerned? How should people understand this?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Look, I can’t share anything about the FBI and what they are or are not doing with regards to the special envoy.

But there is a lot of concern and interest in Congress on that committee and others about the status of any potential negotiation with Iran. The Iranians are providing the Russians critical drones and munitions for their aggression in Ukraine. I think that puts even greater tension on any possible conversations between the United States…


SENATOR CHRIS COONS: … our regional allies and Iran.

And I do think we need a briefing to update the members of Congress.

MARGARET BRENNAN: On this matter, as well as the talks?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think that the president should meet with the families of those hostages in Iran? They have been asking for some time.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Look, you know I’m an advocate for the hostages, broadly speaking.

Jason Rezaian, who was held in an Iranian prison for more than 500 days, came home and received an IRS bill in the mail as a result for unpaid taxes.


SENATOR CHRIS COONS: I just introduced a bipartisan bill to get rid of those undue, unexpected, unreasonable harms.

Yes, I think the president should meet with hostage families. He has a lot on his plate. He has been a strong advocate for recovering Americans from overseas. As you know, his administration led the return of Brittney Griner. I am hoping that there will also be some movement in the case of a “Wall Street Journal” reporter who is unjustly imprisoned in Russia as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Evan Gershkovich.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Evan Gershkovich.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you have reason to believe that that is moving forward?

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: I have reason to believe the administration is working tirelessly on trying to return all Americans who are unjustly detained.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, thank you for your time this morning.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Face the Nation will be back in a minute, so stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Now to the latest in Ukraine.

Senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata is in Kharkiv with more.

(Begin VT)

CHARLIE D’AGATA (voice-over): This morning, a tribute by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Polish President Andrzej Duda in Western Ukraine marking the World War II massacre of tens of thousands of Poles at the hands of Ukrainian nationalists, now united in memory of the victims.

Zelenskyy marked day 500 of the invasion yesterday in a visit to Turkey to bring back home the commanders of Ukraine’s Azov Brigade. Having surrendered to the Russians after the siege of Mariupol, under a deal, they were to remain in Turkey until the end of the war. Instead, a heroes welcome ceremony in Lviv and a vow to go right back to the fight.

The specter of a major nuclear disaster has reemerged at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, both sides accusing each other of plotting to attack it. Ukraine says Russia is exploiting the threat as a deterrent to the counteroffensive, which has become a relentless grind against an entrenched enemy.



CHARLIE D’AGATA: Commander Stanislav tells us: “It’s been tough. The enemy doesn’t sleep. In the year or so that they invaded us,” he says, “they have learned how to fight.”

It’s one reason Ukraine requested the controversial cluster munitions to help break through Russian defenses. But Ukrainians know firsthand the devastating effect they have on the civilian population. The prosecutor’s office in Kharkiv has collected a mountain of Russian missiles and rockets allegedly used against civilian targets here.

And we’re told this is one of many Russian cluster bombs found here in the Kharkiv area. As it descends, it opens up, ejecting smaller bombs expanding across a wide area. They’re the same kind of weapons suspected in yesterday’s shelling in the eastern city of Lyman, at least eight civilians killed, many more wounded.

(End VT)

CHARLIE D’AGATA: Those cluster munitions will likely come up among NATO partners in Lithuania this week.

As for Ukraine, they’re obviously hoping for continued support and ultimately a path toward NATO membership — Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Charlie D’Agata, thank you.

We will be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And stay with us.

In our next segment, we will be speaking with the U.S. — with the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation, including a closer look at the extreme weather.

Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to Face the Nation.

We turn now to the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova.

Great to have you back with us.

OKSANA MARKAROVA (Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your president and our president said that Ukraine is running out of ammunition.

So, how quickly will this latest U.S. package arrive, and how quickly will it make a difference?

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, first of all, let me say how grateful we are to President Biden and to everyone for making this decision to provide us with this munition.

I know everyone is discussing how difficult it was and sometimes even call it controversial, but there is nothing controversial about it. We are fighting on our territory brutal enemy. There is nothing worse than tortures, rapes and everything that Russians do on the territories they occupy and we need to liberate as quick as possible.

So, we are really grateful that, in times when we do need increased numbers of munitions to support our counteroffensive, that U.S. made the decision. And we really hope we will see it very quickly on the battlefield.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, these cluster munitions drop bomblets. And, sometimes, those bomblets don’t explode right away. And, years later, they can be a danger.

I have met victims who’ve been blinded and maimed in places where the U.S. dropped these decades ago. So, when the White House says that Ukraine has made assurances on how it will use these, how do you do this and assure that civilians won’t be hurt?

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, first of all, let’s remind where we start with.

Ukraine is the most mined country now already. Russians mined everywhere. There are unexploded ordnances everywhere. So we’re doing a lot of demining. And U.S., by the way, is helping us a lot in demining already now.

With regard to these munitions that we will be getting from the U.S., first, they are of a much higher quality, so — to start with. And, second, as responsible as we are with all other American- supplied or European- supplied munitions, we are controlling it. We have very responsible ways. We use the NATO type of LOGFAS system to record every unit that we have, where it is.

We will use the same type of approach to this. We will know where we use it, how we used it. And, of course, every time we liberate our territories, these deminers are the first people that go there, try to make sure that the area is safe. So we will do exactly the same.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And I imagine Russia uses these on civilian areas. I have to imagine Ukraine has pledged not to do that and only to use them on soldiers.

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Oh, my God, they use this and phosphor and everything else specifically on civilian areas and destroying civilian areas.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that’s a war crime aspect.

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: We — definitely, we will not do — we will not use it in civilian populated areas.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s a war crime aspect that Russia has been criticized for on this.

When you heard President Biden say Ukraine is not ready for NATO membership, what did you think?

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: We are getting ready for NATO membership, we know.

And we are doing very difficult reforms even as we fight for it. What we are definitely ready for is for invitation. And I think, with regard to the NATO membership, if you look at any — any aspect of it, Ukraine is very ready in a number of aspects.

And if there is something that is left there, we can surely do it later on. But we are discussing now about the invitation. You know that, in 2008, the open-door policy towards Ukraine had been adopted. We want not only the door to be open; we want to be invited to come in.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the White House seemed to close the door on that part of the invitation, at least, but eventually allow for Ukraine to join NATO.

That was — that seemed to be the signal White House was sending on Friday.

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, the discussions are still ongoing.

And the discussion — and, of course, it’s the discussion that requires 31 countries to agree. And, again, as with — like with the European Union membership, there is a path towards the European Union. We are a candidate country, and we are working towards our full membership.

Similar approach we take with NATO. We want to be in NATO. The majority of Ukrainians support Ukraine in NATO. This is in our Constitution. And we have done the majority of reforms already to be NATO-eligible. We are ready to continue on that path. And we would like to see that our friends in NATO are together with us on this path.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This week, the largest nuclear plant in Europe once again was very much in focus on the front line of this conflict.

Your president says Ukraine has in intelligence showing that Russia will try to blow it up, that it has mined the area. The U.N. watchdog says they have only been able to search parts of the area. So far, it looks OK, but there are two key reactors they want access to.

What is the level of risk right now?

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: The level of risk there is consistently high since March 4, 2022, since Russians illegally occupied Ukrainian nuclear station.

So, we just have to be very clear from the start every time we discuss the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the largest nuclear plant in — in Europe, that the only source of risk there is Russia. You add to that Russia’s absolutely irresponsible withdrawal or suspension of the New START Treaty, their decision to deploy the tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, and it’s clear that we are dealing with a nuclear terrorist.

Now, look at Chernobyl station, which they also grabbed since they invaded us in February ’22. As soon as Russians are out of there, there is no risk. Similar here. We all have to work together to get them out, because, again, let me remind you about the Kakhovka dam destruction, which Russians did, knowing how devastating it will be.

So, the intent — and there is no red lines for them there. We just have to stay focused and get them out from the station. As soon as it’s in Ukrainian hands fully again, there will be no risks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Does Ukraine support what the U.N. is calling for, which is sort of a safe zone around it, so that Ukraine isn’t shelling in the area and neither is Russia?

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Look, all Ukraine should be demilitarized from Russian military.

So we have to get them out from everywhere in Ukraine, not to allow them create some safe zones for them inside Ukraine. We are very responsible, as you have seen, during all this period, towards the nuclear — Zaporizhzhia nuclear station.

But the only answer to that problem is no Russians there. It’s Ukrainian territory. It’s Ukrainian station. And there should not be occupiers, brutal occupiers, there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be watching what happens this week at NATO.

And so good to have you back with us, Ambassador.

We will be right back.



MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the Republican governor of Utah, Spencer Cox.

Thank you for being here.

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX (R-Utah): Thanks for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s good to talk face to face. I know you’re on this coast because of the National Governors Association and meetings there.

And the group’s putting some special focus on mental health, but broadly protecting kids.

When it comes to children, firearms are the leading cause of death among kids. “The Salt Lake City Tribune” pointed out that, at the state level, there’s been an impulse to — to ban dangerous things for kids on many levels.

You’ve talked about social media. You’ve focused on transgender issues. But that doesn’t extend to firearms, even at the state level. Why is that?

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: When you look at the gun numbers in the state of Utah…


GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: … those numbers increasing are not being driven by people getting caught in crossfire or, you know, kids shooting each other.

It’s being driven specifically by mental health and suicide issues. Now, we’re doing more to help keep guns away from kids, keep them locked up. But — but what is it that’s — that’s driving that desire to say life is not worth living anymore? And how do we, as a society, collectively, work to make sure the kids know that it is going to get better and — and there is a reason to stay here?

That’s a huge focus for us as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your state is the first, as I understand it, to restrict social media access by minors, although that law doesn’t go into effect until March of next year.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You just had this judge this week make a determination that the Biden administration should be prohibited from discussing with social media companies anything that encourages, pressures, or induces in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression or reduction of content.

Is that ruling going to affect what you are trying to do at the state level to protect young kids from harmful content?

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: I don’t think so.

I don’t understand — that — that’s — that’s more of a content restriction. I’m sure we’ll have social media companies suing the state of Utah. In fact, we’re going to be suing social media companies for — for the harm and damage that they’re — they’re causing our young people. I — I suspect that, at some point, the Supreme Court will weigh in on this decision when it comes to restricting youth access.

There’s not just a correlation between social media use and an increase in — in suicide, anxiety, depression, self-harm. There is a causal link there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There are 18 different states that have now enacted laws that restrict in some way access to gender transition care for kids.

In Utah, you have said that you are just pausing access to that kind of care; you’re not banning it. Do you have an end date to that pause? What specifically is the kind of data and research you need to see to say you will allow for it?

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: Yes, so we — we don’t have an end date. But we — we do need more data and more information.

This is such a charged topic…


GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: … that it’s been — it’s been impossible, I believe, to get good information here in the United States right now, because half the country doesn’t want to touch it, and the other half is convinced that they already know the answer.

And so I have really tried to look elsewhere at conversations that are happening in other countries, specifically in Europe, around — around this, where it’s not quite as charged, looking at Sweden and Finland and France and the U.K., other countries where they don’t have the same culture war battles that we’re having here.

And they’re also pushing pause. I mean, many of those countries are saying, look, we’re — this is…

MARGARET BRENNAN: On which specific part of it?


MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it hormone treatment, puberty blockers, surgery?


MARGARET BRENNAN: All of it, you’re saying.

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: All of — all of the above, yes. Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics have said, this kind of care — that they’ve rejected the claims that it is harmful.


MARGARET BRENNAN: But that’s not…

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: All very political groups.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You believe all of them are?

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: And, again, I don’t believe — I believe that they are politicized. Those groups are politicized. I don’t believe…

MARGARET BRENNAN: The American Academy of Pediatrics?

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: I absolutely do.


GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: Yes, yes. On this issue, it — it’s impossible to get unbiased information out of the United States right now on this issue. I just don’t believe it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, just on the numbers, of 73 million children in the U.S., there were just 56 genital surgeries related to dysphoria between 2019 and 2021…


MARGARET BRENNAN: … according to this study by Komodo Health and Reuters.

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: Yes, do you have the numbers on — on — on hormone therapy, and — and — and puberty blockers…

MARGARET BRENNAN: In those years?

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: … in the past year?

MARGARET BRENNAN: What is the number for you?

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: It — they’re exploding.

We — we went from, like, 10, 10 years ago to several hundred this past year, I mean, those numbers. And, again, this is…

MARGARET BRENNAN: In Utah, this is happening?

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: In Utah alone, yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you don’t know what’s driving it?

SPENCER COX: Well, that’s — that’s what the scientists in other countries are actually trying to figure out, where, in — in the United States, we’re putting our head in the sand and saying, we’re not even going to talk about this or look about this. You can’t even have a discussion about it.


GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: In other countries, they’re saying, something is happening, hundreds in my state, thousands all across the country that are making requests for this.


GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: And they have — they’re — they’re presenting with several other mental health issues as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I mean, the numbers we saw, the trend is definitely up. But they’re still pretty small in terms of surgeries and mastectomies, but I hear your point on data.

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: Only in terms of surgeries.


GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: Yes, the other data — and you can look anywhere.


GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: This is not unique. Yes, there aren’t a lot of surgeries happening.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The trend is up, sure.

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: But the trend, it’s not just up. It’s up exponentially. It’s — it’s — it’s a hockey stick increase.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s still a small percentage, though. But — but I hear your point on wanting more data.

Can I ask you specifically about a bill that is now law that — you had an interesting stance on this. You rejected the bill initially. Your legislature overrode your veto. It’s now law. And it would bar transgender students from participating in girls sports.

According to the reporting at the time, there were just four transgender players in the entire state…


MARGARET BRENNAN: … out of 85,000 student athletes.

At the time, you argued for empathy when you vetoed this. You said: “There — these are just four kids trying to get through the day. Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few.”

Why didn’t that call for empathy persuade your party? Why did they need to write something to affect four kids?

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: In my veto letter, I said, I actually agree with what you’re trying to accomplish here. I think it is wrong to have a — a transgender female, a person who was — who was born a male taking scholarships, records, away from people…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Does that happen, though?

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: The — the — the — the Penn swimmer is the — the example of that, right?


GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: The example that everybody uses.

And — and so that — that was my point. I — that should not happen. What we were negotiating in the state of Utah was something that would allow some kids to play and others not to, depending on their — their physical capability.

I do believe that there is a lack of compassion and empathy in our politics today. We are — we have a toxic division. The culture wars are happening. There are culture warriors on all sides that are trying to change — trying to get their way, trying to cancel others or prevent others from — from being able to do what — what they want to do.

And it’s definitely a problem. I’m — I’m hoping that Utah can be an example of being a little better on that side.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There are at least six current or former governors…


MARGARET BRENNAN: … Republican governors, running for president right now.

Can any of them defeat Donald Trump in a primary to lead your party?

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: Well, I — I hope so. I like governors. I think governors are great.

I think governors have real experience. The great thing about governors is, we actually have to get stuff done, right? We can’t just do the performance thing. You have to — you know — potholes aren’t — aren’t partisan. You have to — you have to do those kinds of things.

And I think we have lots of amazing choices. And I’m really hopeful that we — can we can turn the page and — and try something else, someone who can win, which I think is important. And I think any of our — any of those governors could win. And — and I certainly hope we’ll give them a chance.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, thank you. I’m glad to have you here in person. And hope to have you back on Face the Nation.

GOVERNOR SPENCER COX: Thank you. It’s been an honor. Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be back with a lot more Face the Nation. Stay with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Last week saw four days of record temperatures, and this week is expected to be even hotter.

We now want to welcome to the program Kate Calvin, NASA’s chief scientist and senior climate adviser.

Good morning.

DR. KATE CALVIN (Chief NASA Scientist and Senior Climate Adviser): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m excited to be able to ask you some of these questions that I think a lot of people are wondering this week, in particular.

Why is the weather so extreme? Can you explain that for nonscientists?


So, climate change is driving increases in temperature overall. We also have natural cycles that affect temperature. And so the one you’re hearing the most about in the news is El Nino or La Nina. So, El Nino years tend to be warmer than La Nina. 2022 was a La Nina year. It was actually the warmest La Nina year we have ever had. It was tied for fifth warmest overall.

We’re now moving into El Nino. So the combination of climate change and El Nino means we’re seeing higher global temperatures. And that brings with it impacts all around the world to people, ecosystems, extreme events, and other changes that are — that we’re — that are impacting communities.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, ocean temperatures are rising, as I understand it, and that factors into this. Can you explain how?

DR. KATE CALVIN: So, oceans absorb a lot of heat, and so we are seeing increases in ocean temperature.

When we identify El Nino, it’s based on ocean temperatures in a particular part of the Pacific. But the thing to keep in mind is, oceans are actually — land is warming faster than oceans. So, the places where we live are warming faster than the ocean. So, while we are seeing these increases in ocean temperatures, we’re also seeing increases in temperature over land.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, NASA has been doing these reports where you’re crunching some of the data to understand how to plan going forward.

I was looking at one of them. It says there’s going to be severe turbulence with airlines over large regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Are we already seeing that? And why would that happen?

DR. KATE CALVIN: So, we are experiencing impacts of climate change everywhere around the world right now.

There’s different impacts in different regions. I think what’s important to keep in mind is that climate change is more than just temperature. It’s also affecting things like the water cycle. So we’re seeing more heavy precipitation events, more droughts. We’re seeing increases in extreme events like storms.

And we can see those, and those impact how we track travel, human health, agriculture, and all aspects of our lives.

MARGARET BRENNAN: With the planes, how certain are you that this will happen, or is it already happening?

DR. KATE CALVIN: So, there’s studies that indicate that you can see increases in turbulence linked to climate change.

At NASA, some of what we do around aircraft, we have a large aeronautics research team, but we’re looking — we look a lot at how transportation affects climate, so not just climate affecting transportation, but also how it affects it. And so we do a lot of research into making planes more efficient, so they use less energy and generate less emissions and contribute less to warming in the future.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So there are also transportation issues along the Mississippi River mentioned in the report. Cargo shipments have been impacted by river levels.

So how do industries who have to plan ahead and businesses that have to plan ahead take this into account? How prepared are we?

DR. KATE CALVIN: So, one of the things that we work on is trying to make sure people have access to the information that can support planning.

So, for river flow, we actually launched a satellite in December called SWOT that’s going to give us the first global survey of water running through rivers and lakes, so we will be able to see how much water is running through those rivers and how that changes over time. And that kind of information can be used to better plan in the future.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And so NASA would share that?

DR. KATE CALVIN: All of our data is publicly available.

And one of the things we’re working on now is making it easier to use, so that you don’t have to process raw satellite data, but, instead, we give you an indicator that you can interpret and use in your planning. So, as an example, we have a tool that’s designed for farmers that helps them understand how much water their fields are losing, so they can better plan their irrigation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: NASA also put out a report in May that says climate change is contributing to rise in Lyme disease, possibly, more mosquito- borne illnesses as well. Seasonal allergies are getting worse.

I know plenty of people who are complaining about their allergies these past few weeks. My eyes were watering.

How concerned do people need to be?

DR. KATE CALVIN: So, there are a lot of effects of climate change on health.

So, in terms of mosquitoes and other diseases that are carried by insects, what the climate — what climate change can do is change where the — the geographic extent of those species. So, mosquitoes need hot conditions. They need water to breed. And so what climate change can do is change that extent, so that we see, in places where you have malaria, it could shift more northern latitudes or higher altitudes.

But there’s other effects of climate change. You mentioned pollen. One of the things that we saw here in the Northeast of the U.S. recently was about wildfire smoke. So there were wildfires burning in Canada, and the smoke from that came into the U.S. and led to air quality concerns all across the Northeastern U.S. And we will see more of that with climate change.

MARGARET BRENNAN: More of these fires?


DR. KATE CALVIN: We will see more. So, what climate change brings is more fire weather, so, conditions where it’s hot and dry and windy, more fuel for fire, so more dry vegetation that can burn, and can also lengthen the fire season.

So, we’re seeing all of those changes. What we’re trying to do, though, is make sure people can be prepared for it, and so see…


DR. KATE CALVIN: We can see where fires are burning now. We can see burn scars and burn perimeters. We can look at how emissions from fire move around the world.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, and that’s what’s interesting, is that this isn’t just admiring the problem. You’re coming up with, here’s something you can use to plan for this scenario.

But some of it sounds like a science fiction movie, in terms of fear. There’s something in here about frozen Arctic soils unleashing ancient microorganisms. Has that happened yet?


DR. KATE CALVIN: So, in the far north of the world, the soils store a lot of carbon, and there’s methane underground.

And so, as that thaws, scientists are — expect that you would see some more emissions associated with it, so that, as you warm, you could trigger more emissions. And that’s what’s driving the warming that we’re seeing now, is greenhouse gas emissions. So, things that affect those emissions will affect climate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you’re going to continue to make this publicly available?

DR. KATE CALVIN: All of our data is publicly available, and we continue to add to it, so we are able to observe more about the planet and help people better prepare for the future.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, well, thank you…

DR. KATE CALVIN: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: … for breaking it down for us nonscientists. Appreciate it.

We will be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We don’t usually put in a plug for rival broadcast networks, but we can’t resist this one. Tune in tonight to cheer on our own Gayle King and her family. Yes, that’s them. They’re appearing on “Celebrity Family Feud” tonight at 8:00.

And, of course, tune in on Monday morning to CBS Mornings, where you normally see Gayle tomorrow and every day.

That’s going to be it for us here today. Thank you for watching.

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

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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