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ICYMI: Top takeaways from this week's "Face the Nation"

CBS News logo CBS News 8/31/2020 Margaret Brennan
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The country is a tinderbox at the moment as it reels with multiple crises: health, economic, racial strife, and now one of the most divisive elections in history. 

This past week on "Face the Nation", we dove into one of the most emotionally charged topics: racial injustice, police violence, and the reignited protests. As our colleague James Brown of CBS Sports says the country is undergoing a "tectonic shift" – one that this week enveloped sports heroes from across the leagues – which he compared to the country's reaction to the violence against blacks by southern law officers back in 1965. 

On Saturday night in Portland, Oregon clashes between pro-Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter protesters turned violent and left one man associated with an anti-fascist group dead.

Here's the big takeaways from Sunday's episode of "Face the Nation"

1. Rep. Val Demings urges calm before judgement and for Trump to speak to protesters 

Val Demings holding a sign posing for the camera: Demings says Trump "not capable" of calming p... 06:17 © Provided by CBS News Demings says Trump "not capable" of calming p... 06:17
  • Congresswoman Val Demings (D-Florida) avoided directly criticizing Black Lives Matter activists but emphasized that "we are a nation of laws, and anyone on any side in any place who violates the law has to be held accountable. We don't condemn people who are obeying the law because of those who do not obey the law."
  • The family of Jacob Blake spoke with Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris last week. Harris had said the officer who shot Blake should be charged. Rep. Demings, a former police chief herself and a surrogate for the Biden-Harris ticket, urged caution. Blake had a felony warrant out for his arrest on 3rd degree sexual assault and had been accused by the caller who summoned the police of attempting to steal a car. We asked Demings if there was any justification for the police response.
  • What Demings said: I think what we have to do is all take a deep breath. If we want justice to be served, we've got to wait until a thorough and complete investigation is done. We do not want to play judge, jury and executioner, whether we're talking about Mr. Blake or we're talking about the police officer. We want the facts and we must have all of them if we want to see justice served. And I believe we all do.
  • Why it matters: As Trump and the Republican party push for "law and order" -- a major tenet of the Republican National Convention last week, the country still appears more divided than ever. Case in point -- new CBS News Polling that shows deep party divisions when pressed if the country is too focused on racial discrimination.  

2. DHS' Chad Wolf blames Portland leaders for "lawlessness and chaos" 

a man wearing a suit and tie: DHS chief faults Portland leaders for violent... 06:41 © Provided by CBS News DHS chief faults Portland leaders for violent... 06:41
  • Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf echoed President Trump's calls for the Governor and Mayor of Portland to crack down on the clashes in their streets. The Trump campaign has used Portland as a foil for their "law and order" campaign mantra and argue that if federal assets were used in the city that the violence would stop. Portland's Mayor has said that previous deployments of federal agents just ignited the situation. 
  • Given President Trump's encouragement on social media of his supporters who are driving into the city to clash with BLM protesters, we asked Secretary Wolf if he'd call on them to pullback. Wolf argued they were "absolutely" not escalating tension and instead blamed local authorities.
  • What Wolf said: I'm asking Portland officials, so that's the mayor, that's the governor and that's local law enforcement to do their job to address any violent activity that is occurring in their streets. As soon as they do that- again, we'll see that, as we've seen in Wisconsin and other places, we'll see the violence go down to almost zero. And this will address the issue that Portland has been dealing with for three months, that the citizens of Portland have been dealing with for over three months. It's time to end the lawlessness and the chaos that we see in Portland.
  • Why it Matters: Tensions were on the rise as a caravan of vehicles filled with supporters of President Trump traveled through downtown Portland on Saturday and were confronted by counter-protesters. On some occasions, the pro-Trump demonstrators fired paintball pellets at their opponents, while the Black Lives Matter protesters hurled objects at the caravan.
  • President Trump often cites ongoing protests in Portland and other cities as a cautionary tale to voters for what the country would look like if Joe Biden were elected president in November. During last week's Republican National Convention, the president and other speakers urged "law and order" and said only Mr. Trump can bring peace to the streets of U.S. cities.

3. Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron announces Breonna Taylor case developments

a young man wearing a suit and tie: Kentucky AG says he has ballistics report in ... 08:39 © Provided by CBS News Kentucky AG says he has ballistics report in ... 08:39
  • Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron appeared at the Republican National Convention to endorse President Donald Trump for a second term, and discussed at length his objections to comments about black Americans that had been made by Joe Biden. 
  • Cameron declined to defend some of President Trump's racially-charged statements and instead emphasized that the Republican party is "founded on the idea of making sure that those are marginalized and vulnerable in this country have a fair shake." AG Cameron, just 34 is a rising star in the party, and has come to the natonal spotlight given his role in deciding whether to criminally charge the police officers involved in the killing of Breona Taylor.
  • It has been five months since her death and we pressed Cameron why the decision was taking so long. He revealed on "Face the Nation" some movement on the case given that his office has finally received the ballistics report from the FBI, which he called a "critical piece of this investigation. But Cameron declined to provide a timeline for the decision.
  • What Cameron said: "It's not the end all be all. There are still some witness testimony and interviews that have to be conducted. But we do have that ballistics report. We will be meeting with the FBI at the beginning of this upcoming week to have a painstaking review of that information. And that will help us in the analysis that needs to be undertaken before we can get to final steps."
  • Civil rights Attorney Ben Crump represents Taylor's family. He welcomed news that the ballistics results had been shared by the FBI with the state but emphasized that after five months of what he called delays by law enforcement, the family is "distrustful of the entire system." 
  • He argues that the family believes the first instinct of local law enforcement was to sweep her death under the rug: "So you have to forgive them from not trust in any law enforcement officials right now and why Black people all over America are distrustful, because when it is fitting for them, they release information very quickly. When it's something that holds the police accountable, it's we got this long, exhaustive investigation."
  • Why it matters: Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical worker, was shot and killed in her home in Louisville in March. Both the FBI and the Kentucky attorney general are investigating the fatal shooting. Her death has been just one of the many touch points driving the Black Lives Mater movement in 2020 -- with little results in her shooting death -- many feel justice has yet to be served. 

4. Jacob Blake family attorney says client is a "shell of himself" 

Benjamin Crump wearing a suit and tie: Blake family lawyer says they haven't been co... 05:09 © Provided by CBS News Blake family lawyer says they haven't been co... 05:09
  • Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump also says Blake faces an intense recovery from "catastrophic injuries" sustained after he was hit by four of seven shots fired at his back by police officers in Kenosha.
  • What we asked: How is he doing? And how are the three children who were in his car when they watched their father being shot?
  • What Crump said: "Obviously, he suffered catastrophic injuries. A bullet pierced his spinal cord, a bullet shattered his vertebrae. A bullet went into his intestines where he lost most of his intestines. A bullet went into his colon where he lost his colon. A bullet went into his kidney. Thank God they were able to save that. He has two holes in the stomach. He has a hole in his arm from a bullet. He's lost control of the bowel movements. He has no functions of his male organs. And for the rest of his life, he's going to be a shell of himself. And his three little boys were in that car, ages eight years old, five years old and three years old. And they witnessed all of this. So you can only imagine the psychological issues these little babies are going to have."
  • Why it matters: This has been a summer of reckoning with regards to race and policing in America. People have taken to the streets in record-breaking numbers to protest police brutality and advocate for police reform. Voters will be looking to both candidates for perspective on how their respective administrations will respond and address calls for such reform.

5. Gottlieb says widely accessible vaccine more of a "2021 event" 

a man wearing a suit and tie: Gottlieb says vaccine for general population ... 07:07 © Provided by CBS News Gottlieb says vaccine for general population ... 07:07
  • Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb gave a gut check of where the country is with its COVID-19 infections. One bright spot: Hospitalizations are coming down. But he is concerned that as we begin the fall season and kids return to school and adults to offices, infections will reignite.
  • What Gottlieb said: "The most concerning trend right now is that as we see the cases fall in the Sun Belt, they're picking up in other parts of the country, particularly across the Midwest and the west and particularly in rural parts of the country. And that's a big concern because those parts of the country probably have less health care resources to keep up with the epidemic."
  • FDA Drama: The agency that Dr. Gottlieb formerly ran is coming under scrutiny of late and its current head, Dr. Stephan Hahn, has been accused of appearing to be politically influenced. On Sunday, the Financial Times published an interview with Dr. Hahn in which he insisted that he would not be pressured by the President to rush vaccine approval but that he might approve one before the Phase 3 trials had been completed. Dr. Gottlieb argued that this is unlikely to happen because of process protocols in place by career staff at the agency, and he doesn't think the FDA commissioner could step in and obviate a decision by the professional staff.
  • How Gottlieb sees it: "It's likely that the trials aren't going to read out until October. In order to read out in November- in November, they won't read out until November. In order to read out in October, the vaccines would have to be very effective. So we're likely to see a stepwise progression of authorization of this vaccine for certain select populations that are at higher risk of either contracting it or having a bad outcome before we see a full approval for the general population. I think, again, of full approval for the general population, where people can go to CVS and get a shot, that's really a 2021 event, maybe the first quarter of 2021, probably more likely the first half."
  • What's the benchmark for approval? "And what they've said is the vaccines need to be 50% effective in either reducing the incidence of COVID disease or reducing infection, reducing people actually getting infected. And so it's- there's very clear, objective criteria that's been put out."

Programming note: Catch us on the road, at home, for the Texas Tribune Festival 

  • Where else could you watch interviews from Hillary Clinton, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Ted Cruz and Willie Nelson at one event? This year, Face the Nation moderator Margaret Brennan has been added to the lineup as a newsmaker interviewer. Check out more details below to be among the first to know when her session is announced. 

    The Texas Tribune Festival is one of the nation's largest and buzziest annual gatherings that brings together politicians, activists, advocates, lawmakers, and media icons for days of discussions on politics, policy and current events. 

    This year, the 10th annual festival has been reimagined as a virtual experience with 30 days of programs, inviting attendees to participate in the day's biggest conversations from wherever they are.

    Learn more and buy tickets today at festival.texastribune.org.

Missed Sunday's episode? Click here to watch the show. "Face the Nation" airs Sunday mornings on CBS. Click here for local listings.

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