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tv   Inside Politics  CNN  July 21, 2017 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. thanks for sharing your day and a busy breaking news friday it is. senate republicans and what was supposed to be a big obamacare repeal week but they're in a state of confusion. if your health care is in flux and need apss from washington, do not expect them anytime soon. >> you can't have your central promise for serving years, repeal obamacare and show up and vote not even to take up the bill to consider repealing obamacare.
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doesn't make any sense. >> plus, we know president trump wants a new chapter with vladimir putin, but his hand-picked cia direct hear a message for the boss -- proceed with caution. >> a warm-water naval port and love to stick it to america. >> exclusive cnn reporting special counsel robert mueller asking the white house to save all records related to donald trump jr.'s connections to the russia meetings. whether improper coordination or collusion between team trump and the kremlin. dana bash broke the story and is live with more. a big deal the special counsel puts it on the record. what is he asking? >> right. cnn learned special counsel robert mueller sent a letter to white house counsel asking that white house staff save all documents relating to the june 2016 meeting at trump tower with donald trump jr., jared kushner
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and paul manafort as well as a russian lawyer. according to a source i spoke with who read the letter, the request pertains to any subjects discussed in the course of the meeting, and, also, any decisions made regarding recent d disclosures about the june 2016 meeting. clearly involving the larger russia investigation. part of what was read to me -- ishs as you are aware, the special counsel's office is investigating the russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election including any links or coordination between the russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of donald trump. information concerning the june 2016 meeting between donald j. trump jr. and natalia vess veselnitska veselnitskaya, and voicemails other communications and
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documentation related to the june 2016 meeting as well as any related communications since then. now, i should note that requests like this are not uncommon, and often sent in the early stages of an investigation to ensure documents that could be relevant are not destroyed. this is also significant, john, because it is one of the first clear actions that we know about from the special counsel on this investigation, particularly as it relates to the white house. the white house spokeswoman told me they don't comment on internal communications, and the special counsel's office declined to comment. john? >> important as well, dana, in the sense it was a june 2016 meeting, but as the news broke in recent weeks, we know the president of the united states talked about this. those records relevant and a meeting on air force one about a white houses statement. wa statement should the white house issue in response to all this. i assume that, too, the trump presidency. not just documents what happened in 2016, subject to this? >> exactly right. certainly sounds this way from the way that robert mueller
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phrased his request. the reservation request seems to apply to all communications as a response to the meeting. remember the "new york times" first reported the initial response to media inkwur is about the trump junior meeting was crafted by the white house's closest aides, reporting being involved in crafting a response may have exposed those white house aides to special counsel scrutiny. usually it's a legal matter like this, and it would be handled by attorneys given that it is a russia investigation, but if they were communications people or other senior white house aides, they could get caught up in this. >> could get caught up. turn over the records and at least a brief conversation with the special council's investigators nap comes amid several big changes. one, the job offer made to a potential new communications
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director anthony scaramucci, a wall street investor, a fan of the president due for another job in the administration. that was pulled back. anthony scaramucci could come in to help the white house communication shop. tracking reporting on that, and a shake-up in the legal team because of mounting frustration with his own counsel and the particular ed is mad about the pressing investigation. brigging on experienced d.c. help the president's team is said to be investor gating the investigators hoping to undermine the credibility of the special counsel robert mueller. he hinted at that. asked, what would cause you, the line beyond which if mueller went you would say, "that's too far. we would need to dismiss it." the president we pliey s repliee so many conflicts that everybody has. joining us, our panel.
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what we just heard from dana. we knew the special counsel was going to look into this meeting but never quite sure of the parameters. here we go on the record with this and before i get to the question i want to report cnn confirmed another big, dramatic change at the trump white house. sean spicer, white house press secretary, has submitted his resignation. sean spicer has been in hot water almost from day one of the administration. we know the president repeatedly voiced dissatisfaction internally with sean spicer. you can connect the dots. the president reaching out, hiring a new communications director, anthony scaramucci coming in. sean spicer on the way out. stop the conversation i was about to have about the president's attorney and start here. it's all connected. a white house in turmoil, chaos, in staff, in-fighting since day one. sean spicer is leaving, to the american people, the face of this president, less so in recent weeks because of the fewer on-camera briefings and his deputy had been put up into a higher role what does this
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tell us about the internal workings, infernal frustration of this white house? >> confirms what we've known for a long time. which is, there is a great deal of turmoil and all of these separate -- priebus in the spicer wing, former spicer wing, he was in that wing and also the president's family. look at scaramucci, priebu and spicer didn't necessarily like that appointment. but if you look at scaramucci, he does sort of fit the trumpian mold. they like the fact he's good on tv, a hedge fund guy. he's often been a pretty eloquent defender of this president. and i think if you look at spicer's tenure, he probably became the most famous press secretary we've ever seen in this country. and the president didn't like that. in many ways, part was he also had a starring role on "snl" in the form of melissa mccarthy. this, for a lot of people, a long time coming. you could see his role recede
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and this finally came. >> to your point, welcome viewers around the world cnn international picking up on our breaking news coverage. press secretary sean spicer resigning today amid a new communications director coming in. the president shaking up his legal team because of frustration with the special counsel investigation and frustration with advice and help getting from his own team. dana dash stieig deign -- dana bash still with us. we don't. we'll get back to her as necessary. and you have been in -- in part maybe because the president doesn't like the high pro file or disagrees with this issue or that issue. in part because of the mess of the president's own making. sean spicer says, a., the president tweeds z. within a day. >> sean spicer stepped behind the podium and berated the media about the crowd size of the day
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before. stormed off. right from there the template set. someone who would have a con temp p contemptuous position with the press. and's announcements from the president, we heard many times, the tweet speaks for itself. put in a difficult position and sometimes didn't defend the president to the president's liking. he was up there sort of serving an audience of one. the president. who many days would structure this structure to watch the press beef iriefing. >> he has been a loyal soldier and that started with the first briefing that he was talking about. done what the president wanted and in times reports he was on the outs, the president has said, i like 0 sean spicer. he just gets beaten up in the press. this scaramucci move was clearly a slap to sean and looks like, although i haven't spoke ton sean since this just now broke, that sean himself just couldn't accept that. >> there's been two competing lines out of the white house during the past couple months, sean spicer step into a
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different role. very close with reince priebus, chief of staff, priebus in trouble with the president from time to time. the president looked for a new chief of staff decided to keep reince priebus in part because they can't get the caliber they wanted to commit. three officials reached out to asking them toing the next press secretary and scaramucci not among them. three others said they weren't interested. same time those conversations were happening sean spicer was, the word out of the white house of the spicer wing, he would pick his successor. we have these competing factions in the trump white house again six months into -- >> was he comfortable moving out of that limelight? he had a six-month period sort of the center stage for briefings for better or worse but interested in doing sort of more strategic communications. that opportunity taken away. >> when you're in that job that is potentially in the line of fire job there is at the white house, because every time something in has gone wrong for the white house, they blame that on being a communications
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problem before they start to actually look and see if there a substantive issue, a legal issue, it's a communications problem. blame the front man. >> points in different factions winch the west wing. scaramucci is someone who's tight with jared kushner, tight with some of the trump sons, loyalists back in new york. sean spicer and reince priebus vehemently opposed to him coming into this position and that's what prompted the resignation today. >> six months into the administration you see competing factions. republican washington establishment, republican national committee establishment, reince priebus, chief of staff, longtime loyalist deputy sean spicer and katie walsh left earlier. part of that wing. steve bannon, and receded from public attention, still there. don't count steve bannon out, gone up and down in power and now the new york wing or giovaunk kaw, b
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giovaunka. a disservice to the president, they understand, they have all of this in-fighting. i want to bring in cnn's jessica snide he snyder who has more. the president of the united states, and sean spicer known to many in the united states as face of the trump white house, this is a big, dramatic day? >> reporter: a big morning, big, dramatic morning here at the white house for sure. sean spicer's resignation coming minutes after it was announced anthony scaramucci would be white house communications director. we know sean spicer has essentially filled that role of communications director in tangent with his press secretary role since mike dovekey resigned end of may. it's been a rocky road for sean spicer since the administration began january 20th. of course, the first press conference that sean spicer did on inauguration day where he went out there at the request of the president to dispute the media's reports of the crowd size at the inauguration itself
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and, of course, we've sneeen in recent weeks sidelining of sean spicer. he hasn't been present for the press briefing, very often, in fact, deputy press secretary sarah huckabee sanders front and center. sean spice hear taken that step back at least in the public eye and we know president trump continually expressed displeasure with the communications team, with sean spicer as well. but we do know this resignation taking effect just a few minutes ago. he has resigned as press secretary here at the white house and, again, it's interesting to note that this resignation coming really minutes after the white house has named and asked anthony scaramucci to be communications director and we understand, of course, there could be a rift between sean spicer and scaramucci, that chief of staff reince priebus was not pleadsed with the possible appointment of scaramucci as white house communications director.
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really, a seismic shift for this white house at a time when they've come under siege with this russia investigation. so today coming out of the white house press secretary sean spicer resigning. he will no longer be a at that podium he's become so famous for being behind. john? >> jessica snyder, back to you at the white house. continue reporting. come back to you. back in the room. again, try to put this in a bit of context in the sense sean spicer is one person who serves the president. the president has a big staff. listening to jessica go through the anatomy how it plays out, the president's chief of staff did not want this to happen. the president's chief of staff. the gatekeeper to the president. in most white house, this one functions differently. covered it ten years. this white house is different than any i've been at here in washington. the gatekeeper. if he can't get his way, bringing dana bash back in, if the chief of staff can't get his way on a major personnel issue, dana what does it tell you about
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the continuing internal in-fighting in trumpland? >> reporter: in-fighting but also something much more prominent that this reminds us of. that the president of the united states is very much in charge of his communications strategy. face it. if he could get the title of communications director, maybe they would be the most appropriate title for him to share with also being president of the united states. i just got off the phone with somebody who's familiar with sean spicer's thinking who told me that when it became clear that scaramucci was going to be the communications director, sean said, wait a second. if that is the case, if his title is communications director, then a effectively means that i, sean, will probably be doing two jobs. both spokesperson and communications director for those who, out there who may not understand. communications director is more strategic thinking, looking ahead crafting the message as
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opposed to just delivering the message, and the reason he kind of settled on that realization is because scaramucci has no experience in communications. no experience in washington. no experience in that kind of strategy. and so sean said, you know what? this is the last straw. he made the decision i think today when it became official, and he said, i'm out of here. the other thing john, this also underscores and underlines and highlights is how important the television presence is to president trump. the representation that he has on camera, on tv is so, so critical that he, the president, wanted scaramucci out there because he loves him on tv. he's a "killer" which is what he calls him behind the scenes, and he's always wanted scaramucci, who he's been close with since the new york days in the administration and trying to figure out a way to do it. communications director, the title is open. the president likes scaramucci
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on tv. so he brought those two together and this after everything that we have seen, the topsy-turvy world of sean spicer white house press secretary, this was the final straw. >> dana bash, appreciate it. stick around and continue reporting. and back to the room, again this point. a very different president and different structure in the white house in the sense that the communications director in most administrations is behind the scenes looking at the calendar. saying, mr. president, hit the six-month mark friday. have you do this event. republican governors do this event. cabinet's going to fan out do this. go do a big speech on this. boom, boom, boom. more of strategic planning. the president you made a point having the conversation earlier, breaking, the president watches cable news in the morning, and scaramucci is a frequent guest on cnn's "new day." an effective spokesman for the president. i say this as a compliment. does combat with news anchors when he thinks he should and
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candidly critical at the team of the president's side up until today which includes sean spicer. >> the president values that. why he likes kellyanne conway so much. she's willing to go on camera and xroujoust with whoever is criticizing the white house or the president. and isn't this the time the white house needs to be the most unified? everything rolling in the same direction with the russia probe growing exponentially and this is highlighting the schism in there. this is a president who likes chaos. did it in the business world, in the campaign. likes having rival factions underneath him. this might be a moment not well served by that strategy. >> a great point. is this a reset six months in. new administration? the president no experience in politics. none of the people around him ever worked in a white house before. senior people in the administration. is this a reset, the president realizing we haven't got it right and got a new team, or is it, mr. scaramucci about to become the latest person the president gets mad at?
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we were going to start the show with he's been mad at his outside attorney and shakes up the legal team. mad at sean spicer puts sarah huckabee sanders in. more of a strategic reset? no tax reform, infrastructure and stig ll obamacare. >> and flawed communications strat jay. think about what he did this week. supposed to be about health care. gives a long interview to the "new york times" trashing jeff sessions. scaramucci, will he be the person to say, no, mr. president. you won't sit in an interview alone. >> the answer's, no. >> right. >> the evidence is that the answer is, no. the president would go into the oval office and the "new york times" reporting team and the rett of the senior white house staff including his outside legal team would have to find out what he said listening to a
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tape recording. he hasn't said so publicly. i believe that's one of the reasons, another key player, a communications guru helping the president's legal team yesterday. i understand our senior white house correspondent jeff zeleny is on the phone. help put into context. covering the story from day one. sean spicer's up, down, on the outs. the day is finally here. many for some time including a lot of sean's friends who said how much can he take? how much will he take? being undermined by the president and pushed aside inside the white house? today he resigned. >> reporter: no question, john. a key point here is, as we're talking to sources in the white house as well as republicans close to the white house, who want this president to succeed, they say that sean spicer believed this morning really for one of the first times that the president was doing something that would not allow him to succeed. sean is a creature of washington. sean believes that deeply in you
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know, the, the process of how things work and thought he could be the most helpful to the president in this way. by hiring anthony scaramucci it essentially makes the point clear which has been emerging, that the president wants to be his own communications director. the president wants to be his own press secretary, and he does not want help from those in washington. this is now more of an outside game. now more of a fight. this is about the russia investigation. this is a much -- much less about the agenda. the writing's been on the wall in many respects. i remember beinging a the vatican end of may, sean spicer slighted not being invited. hoping to be there that day. he was not invited on the trip to paris last week. he has -- been disinvited from the briefing room. i'm told today the phenol straw
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was, effe the final straw, less what do you know about washington than outside a trump game? walls are tightening in a little bit and more -- people from a trump tower, the new york world here for this president. >> and jeff stand by if you can as we continue the conversation. to that point, interesting. watching in america around the world, a single step change at the white house may mean nothing to kwoor life. the question what does it do to the operation of the functioning of the presidency? the type of people who have access to the president, strategy on big issues, whether how much do you cooperate, to have people to investigate, undermine a special counsel? dangerous. how much do you bang heads and figure out the health care mess on capitol hill? move on to infrastructure? who's in the room? and jeff zeleny hit, dana bash, everybody at the table hit on it, they make plans often and the president of the united states is in on the plans signs off on the plans and wakes up
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one day sees something on televisions picks up the phone, tweets and kaboom. is this a reset moment or is this is a continuation of the chaos moment? >> this white house functions completely different from other white houses and has taken us six months to see that and keeps happening on things like this, interviews that happen in the oval office that the communications shop doesn't know are going to happen. it's just -- completely a different style of governing and running a white house. and i think it's important also to note when talking about scaramucci being good on television and sparring with reporters, but the communications job is a lot more than that. you have to work with the press. you have to work with the white house correspondents association. you have to deal with overall strategy on megging, on who you how you present the president's message, in a very difficult environment. >> you know, a vision. >> and in a perfect world with the state republican parties with the republican governors with the republican membership congress, with the chamber of
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coverage, all the pieces of the republican coalition six months into this administration has happened almost none. >> and if the idea -- again, the traditional way of doing things and a way that makes strategic sense if you want to work with people. they basically decided the president doesn't want to go that way, push out influence of everyone who's a washington insider, bring in others to serve a limited role because it's what they do and all they can do it is a strange decision but may be the way he's going about things because he's pretty unorthodox. >> and values over anything yet loyalty. >> yes. >> and scaramucci is someone who has been an ardent backer and sort of held it against the rnc wing, which includes heis chief of staff, not fully believeing him a while. waffling at moments during the campaign whether trump would be the nominee. he's teased repeatedly about being late to the trump party. >> also depends in large part
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how much scaramucci is able to -- wants to do this job and how well he can manage up. we've seen, depends on if you are in trump's good graces, if he feels you're on his side, his team. that hasn't worked for others. trying to help you here by being antagonistic behind the scenes. that doesn't sit well with him. >> loyalty, important to emphasize, sean spicer was loyal. >> very, very loyal. >> to a fault. >> if they had disagreements about strategy, we didn't see them. from the podium or behind the scenes. >> and almost damaging his own standing in credibility the last six months in service of this president. >> no question. standing with reporters and long-term relationships with reporters in town to defend the president at times saying things we all knew were not factual and not defensible but did it on loyalty to the president. right there. show you a briefing room. pictures live inside the briefing room. and kaitlyn at the white house, been at the white house on days
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of big staff shake-ups and sean spicer is gone. one senior official at the white house but there tends to be a domino effect either in people who work closely with him, go with him or just in the mood of the people in the building, because if somebody senior spicer is on shaky ground, everybody is jittery? >> reporter: sean spicer made it 6 months 1 day as press secretary and resigned today after anthony scaramucci was named as the new white house communications director. we're told sean was unhappy with that decision and was kept out of the loop last night as was chief of staff reince priebus and steve bannon about scaramuccis hiring today. so today after the, it was announced he would be hired and before they announced it to the communications team, we were told sean spicer has resigned. now, it's unclear, the white house said the statement is coming regarding sean spicer any minute now and we're waiting to hear and will let you know once we have it. the white house also said there will be a press briefing today, but not sure who will be
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briefing. we are told donald trump wanted sean spicer to stay on as press secretary. asked him to stay on in some role but it's unclear what role sean spice worry have fulfilled here. sarah sanders handling press briefings and with scaramucci taking on the press secretary, we're not sure what sean spice worry have left to do. we're told he has resigned. was in the room as chief of staff reince priebus welcomed scaramucci in. we're told though sean spicer is really upset, from a white house official, that he was there and said he was will be to help scaramucci transition into the role and gave him a round of applause. >> cakaitlyn from the white hou. keep us posted. and issues, always been a pro pap loyal pro and in fact helping with the transition. white house 101, watching the picture on the right side of the
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screen, reporters gathered in the briefing room, a little chaotic at times nap door you see there, all trying to point cameras through, if you step in that door and turn to the right you're in the lower press office, the press secretary's deputies work. a couple small offices. one of the places you get the sense of the mood in the white house. the kid at that desk inside that door gives you a sense of mood in the white house. keep going straight up the stairs, oval office. hook to the right, to the press secretary's traditional prime real estate in the west wing. anthony scaramucci, will he take that? other office in the west wing? the communications director tends to get one without the windows, or not as prime real estate. >> smaller office. you know, we're making some light about this as we watch it, but white house geography, real estate, is important. as we watch sean spicer go and anthony scaramucci come in, it's an unmistakable fact that this is also a blow to the power of the white house chief of staff
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reince priebus. >> right. >> what message is the president sending his chief of staff? >> that you don't matter as much, in many ways. it was this sort of watch for spicer and how long he stays on and in ways there's been a constant watch for reince priebus as well. this i think is one of the biggest indications of how disempowered he is in that white house. and how this president is doubling down on that inner circle of javanka, and in that inner circle. wants a big office with windows, he just might get one. >> and jeff zeleny, are you still with us? jump in. you have been part of the drama from day one as well as the people at the table with me. it's always been, call it creative tension. some call it creative chaos within the crump white houstrum. washington republican establishment. you had steve bannon, the nationalist, america first
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pitchfork wing who was going to tell the president from time to time, no, sir. don't become hostage of that establishment. then you have the manhattan gary cohen, chief economic adviser, jared kushner son-in-law, ambassador with broad portfolio, daughter ivanka trump representing more of the manhattan wing and truth told some in the past democrats and much more moderate when it comes to republican policy. does it tell us anything beyond the president thinking somebody can communicate better for him or sean spice sir not communicating enough? does this move, dramatic resignation of the white house press secretary, tell us something about a shift inside this white house towards a different governing philosophy, management, communications philosophy? >> john, i think it does signify a shift that it donald trump, president trump, is taking all matters into his own hands and he increasingly everything is being run directly out of the oval office. not the chief of staff's office, just down the hallway, which is the normal course of business in a white house. that the president and the president alone is taking
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matters into his own hands here and as you all said earlier, so telling reince priebus, chief of staff, not involved in this decision at all's one thing that is shaking people inside the white house today is, this is the second time in three days someone who is an incredibly loyal soldier, loyal employee, supporter of this president, has been sort of disrespected. jeff sessions of course, the attorney general earlier this week and now sean spicer. it does send a message and raise a question to people, gosh, in this can happen to them, what about me? i do think, your point who leaves his spicer might be interesting. but the interesting thing here also. sean spicer was saying, just a month or so ago that he is going to be in charge of picking his own successor. he was -- accepting the fact he would not be at the press podium every day. accepting the fact this would not be the traditional press
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secretary role as others have been in administrations gone by. he said he would be even perhaps the deputy chief of staff of communications. it became clear to him this morning he would not have that role and effectively was out of work. would not be the press secretary, not the communications director and certain wouldn't be picking his successor. many friends of his i've talked with some this morning, republicans in washington wonder, why didn't he resign earlier? he's been disrespected before, in their view. but today was obviously the final straw for sean spicer. >> right. and to that point i believe his loyalty to the president, who he served and his loyalty to reince priebus, for whom he's worked quite a bit of time as a partner and deputy was part of the reasons he stayed so well even when friends told him for months, get out of there. the bred is undermining you. and dana bash reported, his involvement, exclusion maybe from this, i support anthony 100%. we go back a long way, good friends.
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all good here. what reince priebus said on anthony scaramucci coming in. i assume that's correct and nothing else he can say on this day. bring dana bash back into the conversation. again, dana, i sound a bit like a broken record but the question for me for this white house is, what does this mean? in the sense of, if it's, as jeff notes, all-consumed president thinks he could be his own chief of staff, own communications director, own chief legal adviser, own chief tax reform negotiator, own chief infrastructure advocate -- this president's infatigable. he works hard, brings a lot of ert to it. that is impossible. cannot be done. is the president disserving himself? he often thinks people around him are not serving him well. se had doing a disservice to himself here? >> he might be. the way he sees it, trying to climb into his perspective on these things having covered him a couple of years now, he feels
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he is at his best when he has people that he trusts and likes and respects around him, and closest to him. and anthony xascaramucci fits tt bill as the president would say, plus-plus, and trying to get scaramucci into his white house for some time. back to what you just read, that rin reince priebus gave me a statement in terms about this. priebus told me i support anthony 100%. we go back a long long way and are very good friends. all good here. that's from reince. i can tell you that sarah you are inny h mur hey done reporti that might not be a mutual feeling. that scaramucci told people that he thinks that reince is to blame, true or not. just saying this is scaramucci's feeling. reince is to blame for scaramucci not being in the administration to begin with. so this is going to be a relationship that, you know, could be fraught with tension in
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a big way. we see now again from this on the record statement from reince that he is trying to smooth that over before scaramucci officially walks in the door saying, no, no, no. we're fine. everything's fine, because technical technically, reince is his boss and reince also knows that the new york wing is growing and expanding and closing in, and that reince, who is the washington wing, if you will, and his -- his world is shrinking. the guy who he is incredibly close with, sean spicer, brought in, worked hand in glove obviously at the rnc is gone. this is a relationship that we should watch and to your point about why does it matter? it matters because it puts into question how the president will approach communications and everything else we people who perceives as his people closer to him. >> dana bash. also getting word the president has been pushing for this for some time from our
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correspondents, sources telling them the president has been pushing to pull the trigger and maybe anthony scaramucci a press secretary for some time. you debate these in the white house anyway. how big of a debate, a divide, sometimes the truth and what people say in their public statements is not always factual. not making much of that. you don't want to air your public laundry. back to the point. sean spicer is out. if you're the speaker of the house or senate majority leader, you do business with the white house, the people you have relationships, sean spicers, reince priebus. been in washington some time. repeatedly -- mike pence. through this, frustrations from key members of congress, key members of the outside interest groups who say they are told by these officials in the white house, senior officials in the white house, this is the plan. this is the president's decision. this is what we're going to do. they plan based on those and then the plans blow up. either because something the president says or turns out that establishment faction thought it carried the debate, thought it
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had the upper hand and in the end doesn't. >> why the decline of the washington wing is so important too. it's not only whether or not they have power in the white house but that radiates out to larger washington, gop chairman, across the country, republican governors and now that has been weakened. you always hear from republicans that that was their sort of assurance. right? assurance that trump, the trump administration would be okay because they would have vice v in the form of sean spicer, reince priebus and that appears to be weakening and possibly taken away. we'll see. >> and why you've seen this phenomenon, all the republican members of congress having to deal with the influence of trump and what trump says and whether that can affect the base that has to vote for them in two years or four years, whatever, but not wanting him to get into the details of crafting health care in the senate or anything else going forward that trump's tweeting, you know, impromptu
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tweeting or speaking about things being mean, for example, or any number of other things you could say could undermine their efforts. they know they have to remain in contact with him and considering what his pow sir aer and yet ke at arm's length when it comes to the nitty-gritty. >> and how this might effect the rest of the press shop. the press team is not just sean spicer and sarah huckabee sanders. entire group of spokespeople very loyal to sean and sarah is also very loyal to sean. what that means in terms of whether, as john asked earlier. a really strategic shake-up or whether people just exit because of something like this happening? that's something that will have ramifications further down the line as well. >> and they still don't have, i guess, talk that, sarah huckabee sanders, replace sean spicer? she might not even want that job. or on-camera now? haven't been on-camera?
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we'll see what happens. you asked the question, a reset? doubling down? a new strategy? i think betting on resets from this white house is seemingly a losing proposition pretty often. >> i mean, the good lord is communications director can't help you if the principal brings the "new york times" into the oval office and trashes his own attorney general, number two at the justice department and special counsel investigation. sorry. this is -- these are the president choices. perfectly entitled to make the choices and what he says and does. told repeatedly and by even steve bannon, outside advisors and lawyers, please don't do these things and he continues to do them. >> the president often says and people say around him that he's his own best spokesman. that he is someone who can deliver his message most effectively. we have seen time and time again where he has blown up the best laid plans. that the people around him, in the west wing, who are crafting
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a strategy, look at this week. how many times did he shift his stance on health care? what he wanted to see there? he believes he is -- he is his best advocate but get getting in his own way. i believe he believes scaramucci is someone he knows, likes, respects as a fighter, can sort of be trump jr. on tv. >> no doubt a lot of wounds are self-inflicted and the other thing that's true, he's got a lot more people around him to point the finger and blame, whether or not it's their fault pap skeleton crew on the campaign. talks about what he did on the campaign, why nobody thought it would -- feeling, okay, closing ranks around himself, maybe it won't be so many problems to deal with? he's not very good at taking blame. >> some uncertain about the big news today. white house press secretary sean spicer submitting his resignation. and the president turns to anthony scaramucci to be the new
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press secretary. inside information why the president wanted this to happen and why mr. spicer decided it was time to go. jim? >> reporter: yeah, john. i talked to a source close to the white house just a few moments ago about all of this, and it sounds like there is a lot of turmoil going on behind the scenes ins they press shop, in this communications shop. i am told by a source close to the white house that trump wanted scaramucci on television essentially as a surrogate to the white house. likes the way he performs on television and wanted to give him a more formal title, but according to the source, john, there was simply no understanding by the president that the communications director title comes with lots of responsibilities, not just going on television, and get this -- the president was expecting in all of this as he was topping, tapping scaramucci for this job, expecting sean spicer to stay on as press secretary and essentially as the communications director while scaramucci would play the ceremonial role essentially have
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the title but go on tv as a surrogate for the white house. i mean, it's very clear, john, that -- and we've been having these battles in the press briefing room for the last several months, that the president just did not have confidence in sean spicer in that sort of tv job as the press secretary, which you know, john, from so many years covering all of this, the white house press secretary is a tv job. if you can't do this job on television, you are not going to stay in the good graces of this president, and all we have to do is mention two words -- melissa mccarthy. sean spicer was -- was raked over the coals publicly. culturally, as the press secretary, and he was just not living up to donald trump tv standards. this is a president who understands television, perhaps better than any president who's ever served in the oval office and the president simply wanted a better tv performer to sort of be front and center for this white house and it sounded like he had settled on scaramucci for
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this job, but according to the source posted at the white house, sean spicer was not going to have that. and there was a feeling that the president did not understand that the job of communications director is more than just being a surrogate on television and as you and i know and so many others know here at cnn, sometimes the president judges how his communications is going for the white house based simply on what he sees on the shows. what he sees on the multiple cable news networks who are speaking on behalf of his administration. how they're performing and so on but what he doesn't understand, go back to past administrations like jennifer pal mpalmieri, crafts the message for the white house, the press secretary. makes sure the president is out there to do a health care event. to push repeal of obamacare and so on, and according to the source, the president was just not understanding that there are
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so many other things that go on with the job of communications director. sean was doing both of those jobs. for so many weeks now. and i think because of that dissatisfaction, sean decided as others have been saying here on cnn, it was time to go. john? >> jim acosta sharing additional reporting on a big day at the white house. press secretary sean spicer out, resigns. the president hiring a new communications director, anthony scaramucci. to be more on-camera. and those watching in the united states and around the world obviously sean spicer has become a familiar face. back to the campaign especially in the trump white house days. six-month mark was yesterday. one of the things we've seen in recent days, one in recent weeks fewer and fewer on-camera briefings at the white house. part of a communications strategy and also part of the president's dissatisfaction with what he views as the quality of those on-camera presentations. two, though, sean spicer, seen it from other deputies, too, a
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reluctance to talk about certain issues for fear the president might contradict him. listen to this. does the president believe russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election? >> does president trump believe that the russian government interfered in the 2016 elections? >> i think -- i have not sat down and talked to him about that specific thing. obviously, we've been dealing with a lot of other issues. i'd be glad to touch base -- >> generally speaking, russian interferenrn interference, 16 intelligence agencies say they did. the former fbi director said without a doubt the russians -- >> i understand. i've seen the reports. >> does the president share those views? >> i have not sat down and asked him about the specific reaction to them. so i'd be glad to touch base and get back to you. >> worth noting that was not the first week of the administration. that was last month. last month. five months in to the trump administration and a white house press secretary afraid to answer a pretit basic question.
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i have not sat down and talked to him. tells you a couple things. afraid to speak for the president, enough experience five months in the president might tweet or say something completely different within hours. two, not sat down and talked to him about it? what kind of press secretary are you? not criticizing sean there. the president's job, empower so that the press secretary is in the room, press secretary knows the apss to the questions and the press secretary can channel the president. your job as the white house press secretary. to be able to be president's voice. what does that tell us? >> particularly basic questions like that, what was the president's views on climate change? it was one he wasn't able to give a pat answer to ands that a problem. >> again, you know, sean spicer had issues with reporters in this town. a lot of that is the question, access to the president, the president affording him information. just one more i want to get here. part of the program. back to day one. the first white house briefing,
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that was when we understood how much things changed. both in washington with the new administration and with the relationship between the person behind the podium, yes, the president's spokesman, also the press secretary for the white house. for those watching in the united states, you pay his salary. that's your house. supposed to give you answers about the functioning of government. a controversy about the size. how did president trump's crowd size match up to president obama's first inaugural crowd size and -- >> this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, p.e.d. both in person and around the globe. >> it got off to an interesting start. >> yes. i mean, he came out and said stuff, everyone in the room knew was not true. he did it in a confrontational tone of voice and walked away. and i point out, even though doing the president's bidding there, the president was upset. he didn't like how the suit looked on sean. he didn't like the podium -- it looked off. still wasn't happy with sean's performance there and that goes
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back inside to loyalty that even though absolutely sean has taken a lot of bullets for the president, has been extremely loyal, but the perception is that the president still didn't think, never quite forgave him for some of the stuff during the campaign. he wasn't the, the rnc folks weren't fully onboard and same with jeff sessions. someone who was one of the president's earliest backers. first senator to endorse, and someone who -- once very close and talked frequently. now, because he can't get over the decision that sessions maids the decision to recuse himself, trump seething with anger for months. >> bubbled up in anger, publicly criticizing his attorney general saying i would not have given him the job. stunning. unfair to the president, he said twice. unfair to the president. tells you a lot about the president's mind-set. focus on sean spicer leaving and a dramatic personnel shake-up at the white house, the context, top of the program confirming this news, dana bash reporting that robert mueller the special
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counsel had sent a letter to the white house saying, preserve all records related to donald trump jr.'s june 2016 meeting with russians connected to the kremlin. promised him dirt on hillary clinton. one of the big questions for the special counsel, improper contact, coordination, collusion and that request doesn't just cover any records from the campaign. the trump white house has had to react to this. so it tells you that anthony scaramucci is coming in, sean spicer out, and at a time the special counsel's investigation is expanding in its focus and its depth to include trump financial transactions and the like. an interesting, telling moment for this white house as this happens. >> he's walking into a firestorm. this is a very difficult job under this president even under the best of circumstances. now you're where the probe is growing, that every day it's seemingly a drip, drip, drip of bad news, bad headlines about russia that is consuming this west wing. >> and pick somebody who's been good on tv.
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right? not necessarily somebody who's good at the ways of washington, who sort of knows those inner workings and you wonder, again, if it's going to get worse or better? >> also not just about how the white house communicates through this time. right? but did sean spicer, being honest with how much he didn't know about what trump was obsfiscating? and as the heat is turned up does it behoove them to be as loyal to the president if they know other things as we focus more what the reaction is. >> continuing the conversation, sean spicer resigning. showed you some of sean spicer's greatest hits at the white house, there were many stirring controversy. the new person coming in, scaramucci, communications director traditionally behind the scenes. we're told by sources, jim acosta said, the president wanted him in the white house he
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likes him on television. a good spokesman on television. listen to anthony scaramucci here answering questions, wouldn't it be better if the president stopped distracting from his own message by tweeting so much? >> i don't want to overstate the position, but what i want to talk about is how we're going to help the president of the united states and the administration express themselves in a way and no offense to you in the media, i sort of think we have to go directly to the american people so they can see him in the way his children see him, in the way i see him and the people that love him and support him inside this building and ultimately in the white house. >> now, some perspective from the new white house communications director. amen to that. any president should communicate in the way the president prefers to communicate. no question this president has a unique social media following. one of the lessons, however, i assume everybody agrees on even
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deep inside the trump white house, communicating to the base, six months in, may keep the base. remarkable. look at the president's poll numbers, his base solid. lost independents, democrats didn't like them to begin with, more opposed, fired up, energized. the trump base stayed intact. 35, 36, 40% whatever on any given day doesn't help you in the challenge of governing. does anthony gascaramucci have e ability to come in and help them do more? >> they are very connected. something this white house i think wants to improve. and perhaps bringing in scaramucci will make president trump more pleased with that messaging piece of it, but there's still not going to be a press secretary. hiring him today as the communications director and with sean's resignation leave as gaping hole. sarah sanders may continue to brief but i understand doesn't want the job as press secretary. in the ramifications of others
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who may leave and consequences for them, it's a big, big -- >> mystery. >> it is a mistrained as we continue to try to unravel the mystery and answer the questions we can, cnn's dana bash is back with more. >> just got off the phone with a source close to anthony scaramucci. reminded me of a few things to give it context. one, touching on it with your panel good to underscore, anthony scaramucci is the ultimate loyaltyist tore president trufor president trump. demands and rewards loyalty. one moment during the campaign when the "access hollywood" tape came out and people, a lot of people around the president were saying, that then candidate saying drop out of the race. including apparently, reince priebus. this source who i'm talking to, again, close to scaramucci, said that scaramucci was the one saying to the president, don't do it. fight, fight, fight, fight,
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fight. don't drop out and that the president who has a long memory of these things remembers that. the other thing this source said is that the notion that scaramucci doesn't understand communication strategy, which may be true, is trying to fit him and this process into the box of old washington or the non-trump organization. of the white house. which as we know, and as you've been discussing, everything is blown out about the way white house's are organized with donald trump in the oval office and this is part of that. it's hard to plan communications strategy with donald trump as president because he'll say something or do something that changes in 15 minutes. so that's why the notion of a traditional communications director is different in this case, and then the last thing that this person said is, to get a sense of how important the -- anthony scaramucci will be to the president is, see where his office is. real estate is everything in any white house nap is one area where this is similar to others. >> key point.
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real estate matters inside the west wing at the white house. look at the pictures. there will be an on-camera briefing at 2:00 p.m. say with cnn. we'll bring you thrive. the question, who will be at the podium? sarah huckabee sanders or an her to -- anthony scaramucci? and jeff zeleny, often compared to shakespearean, others used "house of cards." you have information how it played out internally, the decision to bring anthony scaramucci in, leading sean spicer to say it's time to get out. take us behind the curtain? >> reporter: indeed, john. interesting as we learn more about this. one white house official explained to me more of the process that went into this and there were some pretty big voices in the west wingo posed to this decision. one of them is steve bannon. of course, the chief strat jit
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-strategist, largely responsible or in part responsible for the president's populist rise but has not been very visible as of late and he was, i'm told, left -- essentially left out of this decision because the president knew he was opposed to it. steve bannon i am told has been trying to block mr. scaramucci from other jobs. he had, you know, hope he would not work inside the west wing here and he was not pleased about this at all, but i am also told that jared kushner and ivanka trump, two very important people in this white house, obviously, are supportive of this decision. largely because they believe that anthony scaramucci has one person whose interests are above all and that's the president. no one that questions his loyalty that he does not come into the white house with an agenda but as a fighter. one of the reasons they supported this and i'm told that
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this on-camera briefing inside the white house briefing room we're looking at now will be conducted by the deputy press secretary sarah huckabee sanders. an open question if she'll have an introduction to make of the new communications director but she, i'm told, will lead the briefing. the first on-camera tell evised briefing in some time. >> interesting questions about sarah huckabee sanders own future. questions about skcaramucci and we'll see what she'll say how this played 0 ut in recent days. back to the conversation. to jeff zeleny's point. this is a fascinating question that comes up time and time again. if you have an audience of one, pleasing the president, the president has to run a country. the president has to make consequential life or death foreign policy decisions. his cia director last night talked how we somehow have to
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get kim jong-un separated from the news in north korea. tensions with key european allies, what's the next chapter with vladimir putin? health care, tax reform, infrastructure, all in shambles at the moment. and many would say on all of these issues, could use a little presidential leadership. could use a little presidential head-butting, arm-twisting, deal-making. supposed to be the signature of the trump administration. if your job was dependent on one thing, keeping the president happy, can you do the other things you're supposed to do? >> it's hard to. all of the issues you raise are topical but remember president trump's background in addition to being a real estate mogul he was a reality television star and remains very, very interested and engaged in the tv aspect of what he's doing. >> forgive mere for being flippant, keeping up with the president does not pass health care. >> only if he's not paying attention to the nitty grit of
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what you're doing. given that a fairly wide range to run the pentagon without get egg involved in the super details and people are fairly happy. he was giving congress a fairly wide area on health care and happy at a time until he got involved again. if he's interested in what you're doing and you have to please him you potentially have a problem making sure he's pleased. if not interested, a little latitude before he knows what you're doing. >> what's the test now? sean spicer leaves. scaramucci comes in. a personnel shift. the question does it change the policy perspective, philosophical perspective, management style, communication style? >> that's the idea. i don't imagine trump is seeing this as a continuation of what we've seen before. low poll ratings on inability to get something done. anthony scaramucci is on the hot seat. do things change? he'll be very interested how he appears on tv and what happens with trump's agenda. >> does it actually shake things
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up? >> can they do a better job controlling the narrative, trying to get ahead of some of the particularly bad russian news, and wouldn't today be a day for the president to make a surprise visit behind the today jum? >> might be a good day for that. coverage continues. big breaking news at the white house with brianna keilar. hello. i'm brianna keilar. wolf blitzer is on assignment. we begin with breaking news. white house officials confirming press secretary sean spicer resigned. this resignation was sudden and sources inside the white house say staffering are shocked by the news. spicer's resignation coming as president trump announces he's hired anthony scaramucci as the new white house communcations director. scaramucci has been a loyal supporter of president trump serving on his campaign as well as his transition team. i want to go straight to the white house. there's going to


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