tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN July 25, 2017 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
>> mr. president. >> ms. murray. >> no. >> mrs. murray, no. mr. widen. >> no. mr. wyden, no. mr. leahy. mrs. feinstein. >> no. >> mrs. feinstein, no. mr. nelson. >> no. >> mr. nelson, no. ms. stabenow. >> no. >> ms. stabenow no. mr. m oo nchin, no. ms. baldwin no. mr. tester, no. mr. carper. mr. carper, no. mr. heinrich. mr. heinrich, no. mr. donnelley, no. mr. kaine, no.
mr. shatz, no. ms. hirono, no. mr. blumenthal, no. mr. king, no. mr. peters, no. ms. heitkamp, no. ms. warren. >> so you're hearing a lot of no's, a lot of democrats' names there being called out but here's the headline. the senate has enough votes to advance the health care bill. we saw senator mccain come in and he was a yes. we were talking about senator johnson. he is a yes. and so they have enough votes to pass this procedural vote to then open with debate. gloria borger is joining us here as we're watching all of this and we've also got the little camera on the rose garden there in the white house. i'll take that. thank you. and so we're waiting for the president to speak with the
lebanese prime minister, but as we do that, this is significant because this has been a yes so far but again, it's been mind boggling for a lot of people who have been covering washington a long time saying they voted yes to open debate but the debate, no one really knows what they're debating. >> right. so what they're doing -- and let me just remark upon that moment when john mccain walked in the chamber. >> yes, please. standing ovation. >> standing ovation. and you know, this is kind of mccain's natural habitat, i would say. the floor of the senate. and i'm sure it cheered him on to be applauded by both sides of the aisle, which hardly ever happens. and of course he was one of the votes that pushed it across the number of votes that they needed. so, he came back to do that and also some other business later in the week. but getting to your point, which is that, you know, they don't know what they're going to be voting on, but they are at least
opening this bill up to an amendment process, and nobody knows what's going to happen after that. i think this is not the way mitch mcconnell would have preferred to do business. he would have liked to have had a bill that people could vote on after this motion to proceed, but that's not the way it is, because republicans can't agree. and they haven't been able to dpr agree for years and years, so now they're going to have to figure out whether they can, and it's going to be -- it's going to be quite a process, but at least now the president will be able to get a vote at some point on some version of health care reform in the senate. >> speaking of democrats, i know a lot of republicans, even including in the white house, have been calling democrats obstructionists through this process but let's just underscore the point which is they have not been able to get to yes, this is intraparty politics as we've been watching the different iterations of the bill try to make their way and
they haven't had the math. let me bring in another one of my favorite voices from washington, david chalian. hello. >> can i just -- >> please jump in. >> i just want to mention to some folks who watched the senate floor at home, they sometimes -- they may be confused as to why they're seeing all these democratic senators walking over to the republican side of the senate right now. that's because each senator, it seems, is greeting john mccain on the senate floor, so you see there's bernie sanders now walking over to greet him. you see senator after senator now coming up to greet him personally and, you know, give their best wishes to him, no doubt, in addition to that, you know, huge ovation that you were talking about with gloria. this is clearly quite a big moment for john mccain to be enveloped by all of thinks colleagues here on his return to the senate. >> listening to you, i'm also squinting to see if i can see john mccain myself as well. >> he's just out of the picture frame there. exactly. >> oh.
no. that's not -- there's senator bernie sanders. okay. well, they're hugging. you can tell they're hugging. >> you can see his hand at the top of the screen there. >> of course you recognize john mccain's hands. and you know all things washington and senators and the like. beyond that, though, all right, so this is a win for republicans in the sense that they've got the yes on the procedural vote. but let me just channel everyone else watching and just say, well, now what? >> yeah, no, it's an excellent question. it's unclear. i mean, now what is they're going to have this debate and they're going to be a series of amendments put in place here because what they've just agreed to debate to, actually, is the house bill. and nobody in the senate thinks that the house bill is the one that they're going to vote out of the senate at the end of the day if they get to one. remember, that's the bill that the president himself called mean. so, that is not going to be the end result here. this is a victory for republicans, no doubt. they basically, you know, avoided a terrible death of the bill before it even got started. that's basically what happened
here by being able to have this procedural maneuver to get on the bill, they avoided an early sort of departure from this entirely. but now the hard work, which has begun, begins in earnest, because now not only does mitch mcconnell have to, as you've seen all along, cater a little bit to the left on the moderates, a little bit on the right to conservatives, all why trying to keep the 50 votes in place. not only does he have to do that, he has to make sure the kill off every amendment that the democrats are going to try to push or some conservative republicans or moderate republicans could push that could be seen as a poison pill to the overall bill. >> got it. david, thank you. let's listen in. >> on this vote, the yeas are 50 and the nays are 50. the senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative and the motion is agreed to. clerk will report the bill.
>> calendar number 120, hr-1628, an act to provide for reconciliation -- >> so that was the vice president that was the tie-breaking vote. yeas 51, nays, 50. david chalian, still with me. so there you have it. it passed as we assumed with the vice president doing the tie-breaking vote. here he is, senator mccain. >> i've been so addressed when i've sat in that chair and that's as close as i'll ever to a presidency. but anyway. it's an honor ic we're almost indifferent to. p preche presiding over the senate can be a bore but i stand here today looking a little worse for wear, i'm sure. i have a refreshed appreciation for the protocols and customs of this body and for the other 99
privileged souls who have been elected to this senate. i've been a member of the united states senate for 30 years. i had another long, if not as long, career before i arrived here, another profession that was profoundly rewarding, and in which i had experiences and friendships that i revere. but make no mistake. my service here is the most important job i've had in my life. and i'm so grateful, so grateful to the people of arizona for the privilege, for the honor of serving here and the opportunities it gives me to play a small role in the history of the country that i love. i've known and admired men and women in the senate who played much more than a small role in our history, true statesmen, giants of american politics, they come from both parties and from various backgrounds. their ambitions were frequently
in conflict. they held different views on the issues of the day, and they often had very serious disagreements about how best to serve the national interest. but they knew that however sharp and heartfelt their disputes, however keen their ambitions, they had an obligation to work collaboratively to ensure the senate discharged its constitutional responsibilities effectively. our responsibilities are important, vitally important to the continued success of our republic and our arcane rules and customs are deliberately intended to require broad cooperation to function well at all. the most revered members of this institution accepted the necessity of compromise in order to make incremental progress on solving america's problems and defend her from her adversaries. that principled mindset and the
service of our predecessors who possessed its come to mind when i hear the senate referred to as the world's greatest deliberative body. i'm not sure we can claim that distinction with a straight face today. i'm sure it wasn't always deserved in previous eras either. but i'm sure these -- there have been times when it was, and i was privileged to witness some of those occasions. our deliberations today, not just our debates, but the exercise of all of our responsibilities, authorizing government policies, appropriating the funds to implement them, exercising our advice and consent role, are often lively and interesting. they can be a sincere and principled but they are more partisan, more tribal, more of the time than at any time that i can remember. our deliberations can still be important and useful, but i think we'd all agree they haven't been overburdened by
greatness lately. and right now, they aren't producing much for the american people. both sides have let this happen. let's leave the history of who shot first to the historians. i suspect they'll find we all conspired in our decline, either by deliberate actions or neglect. we've all played some role in it. certainly i have. sometimes i've let my passion rule my reason. sometimes i made it harder to find common ground because of something harsh i said to a colleague. sometimes i wanted to win more for the sake of winning than to achieve a contested policy. incremental progress, compromises that each side criticized but also accept, just plain muddling through to chip away at problems and keep our enemies from doing their worst isn't glamorous or exciting. it doesn't feel like a political triumph.
but it's usually the most we can expect from our system of government, operating in a country as diverse and quarrelsome and free as ours. considering the injustice and cruelties inflicted by autocratic governments and how corruptible human nature can be, the problem solving our system does make possible the fitful progress it produces and the liberty and justice it preserves is a magnificent achievement. our system doesn't depend on our nobility. it accounts for our imperfections and gives us an order to our individual strivings that has helped make ours the most powerful and prosperous society on earth. it is our responsibility to preserve that, and even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than winning, even when we must give a little to get a little, even when our efforts manage just three yards in a cloud of dust while critics
on both sides denounce us for timidity, for our failure to triumph, i hope we can again rely on humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so doing better serve the people who elected us. stop listening to the bombastic loud mouths on the radio and television and the internet. to hell with them. they don't want anything done for the public good. our incapacity is their livelihood. let's trust each other. let's return to regular order. we've been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. that's an approach that's been employed by both sides mandating legislation from the top down
without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires. we're getting nothing done, my friends. we're getting nothing done. and all we've really done this year is confirm neil gorsuch to the supreme court. our health care insurance system is a mess. we all know it. those who support obamacare and those who oppose it, something has to be done. we republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. we haven't found it yet. and i'm not sure we will. all we've managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn't very popular when we started trying to get rid of it. i voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments be offered. i will not vote for this bill as it is today. it's a shell of a bill right now. we all know that. i have changes urged by my state's governor that will have
to be included to earn my support for final passage of any bill. i know many of you will have to see the bill changed substantially for you to support it. we tried to do this by coming up with a proposal behind closed doors, in consultation with the administration. then springing it on skeptical members, trying to convince them that it's better than nothing, that it's better than nothing. asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition. i don't think that's going to work in the end, and probably shouldn't. the administration and congressional democrats shouldn't have forced through congress without any opposition support a social and economic change as massive as obamacare. and we shouldn't do the same with ours. why don't we try the old way of legislating in the senate, the way our rules and customs encourage us to act.
if this process ends in failure, which seems likely, then let's return to regular order. let the health education labor and pensions committee under chairman alexander and ranking member murray hold hearings, try to build out a committee with contributions from both sides. something that my dear friends on the other side of the aisle didn't allow to happen nine years ago. let's see if we can pass something that will be imperfect, full of compromises and not very pleasing to implaquable partisans on either side but that might provide solutions for problems americans
are struggling with today. what have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions? we're not getting done much apart. i don't think any of us feels very proud of our incapacity. merely preventing your political opponents from doing what they want isn't the most inspiring work. there's greater satisfaction in respecting our differences but not letting them prevent agreements that don't require abandonment of core principles, agreements made in got faith, that help improve lives and protect the american people. the senate is capable of that. we know that. we've seen it before. i've seen it happen many times, and the times when i was involved even in a modest way with working on a bipartisan response to a national problem or threat are the proudest moments of my career and by far the most satisfying. this place is important.
the work we do is important. our strange rules and seemingly eccentric practices that slow our proceedings and insist on our cooperation are important. our founders envisioned the senate as the more deliberative, careful body that operates at a greater distance than the other body from the public passions of the hour. we are an important check on the powers of the executive. our consent is necessary for the president to appoint justs and powerful government officials and in many respects to conduct foreign policy. whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the president's subordinates. we are his equal. as his responsibilities, many and powerful, so are ours. we play a vital role in shaping and directing the judiciary, the military, and the cabinet and planning supporting foreign and domestic policies. our success in meeting all these
awesome constitutional obligations depends upon cooperation among ourselves. the success of the senate is important to the continued success of america. this country, this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, restless, striving brave, good, and magnificent country needs us to help it thrive. that responsibility is more important than any of our personal interests or political affiliation. we are the servants of a great nation. a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. more people have lived free and prosperous lives here than in any other nation. we've acquired unprecedented wealth and power because of our governing principles and because our government defends those principles. america is made a greater
contribution than any other nation to an international order that has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. we have been the greatest example, the greatest supporter, and the greatest defender of that order. we aren't afraid. we don't covet other people's land and wealth. we don't hide behind walls. we breach them. we are a blessing to humanity. what greater cause could we hope to serve in helping keep america the strong, aspiring, inspirational beacon of liberty and defender of the dignity of all human beings and their right to freedom and equal justice. that is the cause that binds us and is so much more powerful and worthy than the small differences that divide us. what a great honor, an extraordinary opportunity it is to serve in this body.
it's a privilege to serve with all of you. i mean it. many of you have reached out in the last few days with your concern and your prayers, and it means a lot to me. it really does. i've had so many people say such nice things about me recently that i think as a matter of you must have me confused with someone else. i appreciate it, though. every word. even if much of it isn't deserved. i'll be here for a few days. i hope managing the floor debate on the defense authorization bill, which aisle proi'm proud again is a product of bipartisan cooperation and trust among the members of the senate armed services committee. after that, i'm going home for a while to treat my illness. i have every intention of returning here and giving many of you cause to regret all the nice things you said about me. and i hope to impress on you again that it is an honor to
strength and humor from a man who, you saw his stitches over his left eye, underwent brain surgery 11 days ago. senator john mccain, coming back to washington to make sure he casts that vote, which, again, passed 51-50, the vice president casting the tie-breaking vote to open debate on health care. ana navarro, a dear friend of senator mccain's, you spoke with him a couple days ago. this is emotional for you. >> i've got chills. listen, he's there against doctor's orders, but you know, i knew that john mccain would be back in the game. he is committed to this. this is what makes him tick. he wants to have a legacy. he wants to make a difference, the same way he has done for so many years. and just the -- the power of this man who got up from his sick bed, who just received a devastating diagnosis, going up on that senate floor and telling his colleagues from his own
party and the other party, we must do better. we must work together. we must get back to regular order. and yes, i voted for this bill, but i'm not going to vote for it in the way that it stands right now. the power of a man who is making this huge sacrifice -- >> forgive me, forgive me. we're going to pull away from you. here's the president of the united states. >> truly great health care for the american people. we look forward to that. this was a big step. i want to thank senator john mccain. very brave man. he made a tough trip to get here and vote. so we want to thank senator mccain and all of the republicans. we passed it without one democrat vote. and that's a shame, but that's the way it is. and it's very unfortunate. but i want to congratulate american people, because we're going give you great health care. and we're going to get rid of obamacare, which should have
been, frankly, terminated long ago. it's been a disaster for the american people. thank you very much. good afternoon. and thank you all for being here. it is my honor to welcome prime minister saad hariri of lebanon to the white house. the prime minister and i have just concluded an extensive conversation about the challenges and opportunities facing lebanon and its neighbors. lebanon is on the front lines in the fight against isis, al qaeda, and hezbollah. the lebanese people of all faiths are working together to keep their count -- and you know this and we've been discussing this at great length -- their country safe and prosperous. they love their country, and they're going to keep it safe and prosperous. mr. prime minister, i want to commend you and your people for standing up for humanity in a very troubled part of the world.
the ties between our two countries stretch back more than a century. long, long relationships. in 1866, american missionaries founded the american university of beirut. now more than 150 years later, and with ongoing american support, this university continues to educate generations of leaders in the region. today, our two countries seek to strengthen our relationship in many ways, including the pursuit of stability, mutual process approximat -- prosperity and peace. what the lebanese armed forces have accomplished in recent years is very impressive. in 2014, when isis tried to invade northern lebanon, the lebanese army beat them back. since that time, the lebanese army has been fighting
continually to guard lebanon's border and prevent isis and other terrorists, of which there are many, from gaining a foothold inside their country. the united states military has been proud to help in that fight and will continue to do so. america's assistance can help ensure that the lebanese army is the only defender lebanon needs. it's a very effective fighting force. threats to the lebanese people come from inside as well. hezbollah is a menace to the lebanese state. the lebanese people and the entire region. the group continues to increase its military arsenal, which threatens to start yet another conflict with israel. constantly fighting them back.
with the support of iran, the organization is also fuelling humanitarian catastrophe in syria. hezbollah likes to portray itself as a defender of lebanese interests, but it's very clear that its true interests are those of itself and its sponsor, iran. i have repeatedly emphasized that syria's neighbors in the middle east must take responsibility for helping syrian refugees until they can return home and rebuild their country. the lebanese people have led the way, accepting more syrian refugees per capita than any other nation. it's not even close. i want to thank the prime minister and the lebanese people for giving shelter to those victimized by isis. the assad regime and their supporters and sponsors and pledge our continued support to
lebanon. since the start of the syrian crisis, the united states has helped lebanon support syrian refugees with clean water, food, shelter, and health care. our approach, supporting the humanitarian needs of displaced syrian citizens, as close to their home country as possible, is the best way to help most people. america's proud to stand with those who have the courage to stand up to terrorism and take responsibility for affairs in their own region. the reliance and resilience of the lebanese people in the face of war and terror is extraordinary. we honor the citizens of lebanon who are working to secure a future of peace, stability, and prosperity for their children. mr. prime minister, i'm grateful that you're here today. it's a big day in our country
because of the vote that you just heard about. we stood and watched the results on television before coming out, and you found it very interesting, i hope. >> yes, i did. >> and very important. i look forward to working with you to strengthen our partnership and the enduring friendship between the american and lebanese peoples. thank you very much. mr. prime minister. >> thank you. good afternoon. i had the honor and pleasure and the pleasure to hold a very good meeting with president trump. i appreciate his leadership and the united states leadership in the world today. we discussed the situation in our region and the efforts we in lebanon are making to safeguard our political and economic stability while combatting terrorism. i thank president trump for his support to our army and security
agencies as well as his support to maintaining peace and stability along our southern border. where our government is committed to the united nations security council resolution 1701 as well as all resolutions. we also discussed the pressures lebanon is facing as a result of 1.5 million syrian displaced in our country. i outlined to the president -- to president trump my government vision for dealing with this crisis with the support of the international community. we also discussed economic prospects in lebanon and our government's effort to jump start inclusive economic growth with a particular emphasis on job creation.
i thank president trump and the united states of america for their support to the lebanese people, striving to keep their country a model of moderation, dialogue, coexistence, and democratic governance in our region. thank you. >> thank you very much. margaret, please. >> thank you. >> hello, margaret. >> hi, mr. president. mr. prime minister, i'll have a question for you also in just a second if you'll bear with me. you spoke earlier today in the "wall street journal," we've all seen those comments but i think everybody here probably is hoping that you could talk a little bit more about this. you have called your attorney general beleaguered. you have criticized his decision to recuse himself on the russia matters. and your kind of catch phrase or motto before the white house was "you're fired" so i'm wondering whether you'll talk to us a little bit about whether
you've lost confidence in jeff sessions, whether you want him to resign on his own, whether you're prepared to fire him if he doesn't, and why you're sort of letting him twist in the wind rather than just making the call for him. thank you. >> i don't think i am doing that, but i am disappointed in the attorney general. he should not have recused himself almost immediately after he took office, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office, and i would have, quite simply, picked somebody else. so i think that's a bad thing, not for the president but for the presidency. i think it's unfair to the presidency, and that's the way i feel. that you know. >> thank you. mr. prime minister, could you tell us what you think about the saudi-led blockade of qatar.
would you like to see president trump increase the pressure on the saudi coalition to ease the blockade and mr. president, if you can give us any more of your thinking ongoing forward with attorney general jeff sessions. >> you don't give up. that's okay. >> thank you. i think there is an effort by the kuwaitis, they're leading this effort. i think -- and i think they made some progress. we believe that dialogue is the best way in improving this relationship between saudi arabia and qatar. i believe that maybe the united states also could help in this -- in solving this issue in the gulf. denise. >> i have one question for the president and also for prime minister. congress introduced additional
sanctions against hezbollah last week. what is your position towards these sanctions and on the role of hezbollah is playing in the region and the syria. >> i'll be making my position very clear over the next 24 hours. we're going to see what is exactly taking place. i have meetings with some of my very expert military representatives and others, so i'll be making that decision very shortly. >> and about his role in syria and the region. >> whose role? >> hezbollah's role. >> i'll be talking about that tomorrow. >> prime minister. [ speaking foreign language ] [ speaking foreign language ]
[ speaking foreign language ] >> blake burman. thank you. >> hello, blake. >> president trump, hello. thank you. indulge us here for a second just to pick up where margaret. the american people, i think, would like to know, do you feel that the attorney general should indeed stay -- do you intend on firing -- why should he are remain as the attorney general. and secondly, on a separate topic, with the health care vote that just came about, is there
still a long ways to go. at what point do you feel that republicans, if they can't get something done, should just say you know what, we gave it a go, let's move on to tax reform instead. thank you. >> i want the attorney general to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies, which are leaking like rarely have they ever leaked before at a very important level. these are intelligence agencies. we cannot have that happen. you know many of my views in addition to that, but i think that's one of the very important things that they have to get on with. i told you before, i'm very dishones disappointed with the attorney general but we will see what happens. time will tell. time will tell. on health care, i'm extremely happy that we got this vote. this is -- they say, if you look historically, this is the you have to vote to get. now we're all going to sit together and come up with
something that's really spectacular. we have a loft options and a lot of great options and the republican senators really went out there. it's not easy when you have 52 senators and you have a block of 48 voting against you, no matter what it is, no matter how good it sounds, it's very hard to get the kind of numbers that we got. we ended up with 51 votes, 51 to whatever. i don't know what it is. yeah, 51 to 50. so we had two republicans that went against us, which is very sad, i think. it's very, very sad for them. but i'm very, very happy with the result. i believe now we will, over the next week or two, come up with a plan that's going to be really, really wonderful for the american people. obamacare is a disaster. it's failing in every front. it's too expensive. it gives horrible coverage. it was gotten by a lie. 28 times, it was a lie, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan, all lies.
and the people are sick of it. and we're going to come up with a great health care that satisfies the needs of the people that we serve, which is the people of the united states. i will say, and i said it right at the beginning, health care is always difficult, because you have to weed a very, very narrow path, like a quarter of an inch wide, right down the middle, and if you go a little bit too far right, you lose three people on the left. and if you go a little bit too far left, you lose five people on the right. it is a very, very complex and difficult task, but it's something i actually know quite a bit about. i want to just thank some of the republican senators who were really fantastic in getting this here. particularly john mccain for making the trip. but i think you're going to have a great health care. this is the beginning of the end for the disaster known as obamacare. thank you very much. >> and mr. president --
>> mr. president, how can the united states help lebanon cope with a massive number of refugees of syrian refugees and is there a way you can help facilitate the refugees' return to their home country? >> well, we are helping, and one of the things that we have made tremendous strides at is getting rid of isis. we have generals that don't like to talk. they like to do. and we were with general mattis last night, and the success they've had against isis is extraordinary. we've made more progress in the last four or five months than previous, really, i could say, the previous administration made in eight years. and then we have to see what we have to see. but i will tell you, isis in syria, isis in iraq, isis in other locations, we have made
tremendous strides. our military is an incredible fighting force, and as you know, i let the commanders on the ground do what they had to do. before, they used to have to call in this beautiful house and speak to people that didn't know what was happening, where they were, what locations, practically, probably, never heard of the countries they were talking about or the towns. i let the generals do what they had to do. and we have made tremendous plans. we were discussing it just before. we have made tremendous gains with respect to isis in syria, iraq, and other places. >> thank you. >> what about bashar al assad? syria? >> i'm not a fan of assad. okay? >> how you will -- >> he will tell you that because we had 58 out of 58 -- or you
could even say 59 out of 59 when we launched the tomahawk missiles. i'm not a fan of assad. i certainly think that what he's done to that country and to humanity is horrible. so, i have been saying that for a long time. i am not somebody that will stand by and let him get away with what he tried to do, and he did it a number of times. when president obama drew the red line in the sand, and then he should have crossed that red line, because some horrible acts against humanity took place, including gas, and the killing through gases. that was a bad day for this country. and i'd go it a step further, that had president obama gone across that line and done what he should have done, i don't believe you'd have russia, and i
don't believe you'd have iran anywhere near the extent and maybe not at all in syria today. okay? thank you very much. >> mr. president. mr. president. [ speaking foreign language ] [ speaking foreign language ] [ speaking foreign language ] [ speaking foreign language ] >> thank you very much, everybody. appreciate it. thank you. mr. prime minister, thank you.
>> well, that's a wrap. you can add a couple more adjectives to the way in which the president of the united states has described his own cabinet member, the attorney general of the united states, jeff sessions. you know, publicly, we heard him talking in the "new york times" interview. he's irked with him. because he, being jeff sessions, chose to recuse himself in the wake of the russia investigation and you heard the president there say he wished he would have told him that, although i think we can question some of the timeline of that in a second. and also he's tweeted publicly that -- calling him beleaguered, said he has a weak position and then just repeated that he feels disappointed in the a.g. and said he wants an a.g. who is tougher and time will tell. david chalian, are we just, again, in unprecedented territory here. >> and he rejected the notion that he's just leaving his a.g.
twisting in the wind. i don't know how you get more twisting in the wind than, only time will tell about his future. i don't understand how he could disagree with that characterization. brooke, i really do think this is much larger than just jeff sessions. what the president -- when he says he wants a tougher attorney general, what he is disappointed in, what he himself has expressed, as you just noted, starting with that "new york times" interview, and what we had learned in reporting before, is that sessions recused himself from the investigation into the president and into the president's campaign about russia contacts. the fact that he is disappointed that the top law enforcement officer in the land has chosen after looking at his own record that he would not be an impartial person in that role and able to work on that case in any way because of his work during the trump campaign, the fact that the president thinks that's a factor that should be perhaps resulting in, if not his firing, his resignation from the job, shows that that is a
president who does not respect the kind of independence that law enforcement officials, the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, the acting fbi director, the special prosecutor, all have come in under withering attack from this president because he doesn't believe that they should have some kind of independence as they are overseeing the organizations that are actually investigating the president. >> right. but all these law enforcers coming under attack and this is the law enforcement candidate for the presidential race in 2016. >> you know, brooke, i mean, the president went out of his way to say that it wasn't -- not only was it not good for the president, but he went out of his way to say it wasn't good for the presidency. and to david's point, it actually was good for the presidency. because what you -- you know, in recusing himself, what jeff sessions was obviously doing was adhering to the rule of law and saying that, you know, admitting, i don't work for the
president. i work for the american public. and there has to be no conflict of interest whatsoever. but the president today tried to sort of insinuate that it was actually the opposite, that this wasn't good for the presidency. and you've had people, republicans, including mitch mcconnell just within the last hour, say that jeff sessions did the right thing. and i think what the president is facing right now is a backlash that seems to be growing among republicans in the senate who are defending jeff sessions and conservatives out in the country who feel that jeff sessions represents them on a lot of issues, including the all-important issue of immigration. and so, i do believe he's starting to feel a little backlash. whether that will affect him or not, who knows. he still made it clear that he feels the guy shouldn't be there. but he refused to
>> go ahead, jim. >> i was just going to reflect on what both david and gloria said. remember, when the president fired james comey, we had initially a cover story in effect delivered not just by the president but the deputy attorney general and the white house that this was about comey's handling of the clinton e-mail investigation. that, of course, disappeared into the ether when the president himself said it was about russia and his lahandlingf the russia investigation. with sessions, the president saying right out of the box this is about the russia investigation. it comes back to him, because he and his associates, at least part of the investigation or somehow related to the investigation. there is no cover story, there is no smokescreen here. he's disappointed in his attorney general because he, in his view, and the implication that he didn't make this investigation go away. that's remarkable, and as gloria said, this is about the rule of
law. the attorney general is meant to be, though he is an appointee of the president, is supposed to run the justice department independent of the house interest. it is evident from the podium in the rose garden that is what this is all about. >> i've got jeff toobin patiently waiting, and jeff, i just want to bring you in. we were discussing, is this really about jeff sessions or is this really about bob mueller? >> i think it's probably about both. i think the president's irritation, anger, disgust with jeff sessions is real. now, whether it's justified is the subject we're discussing here, but i don't think there is any question that there is real antagonism between the president and his attorney general. what is unprecedented is a president of the united states continuing to disparage his attorney general without firing him. i mean, we have had cabinet
officers fired by presidents, but if you're not going to fire -- >> flap out there in the breeze, berating him. >> yet again we are saying about the trump presidency something like, this has never happened before, where we have this constant criticism of someone without firing him. getting to your point about mueller. it is also true that the -- >> connect the dots for me. people don't understand. >> the rage that the president feels against sessions comes from the fact that he blames him for setting in motion the process that led to the appointment of robert mueller. and the mueller investigation is really what trump is wanting. the question is how can trump get rid of mueller? the answer is he can't do it directly. he has to do it through the justice department. if he fires sessions, that responsibility would fall to rod
rosenstein. rod rosenstein is in charge of the muller investigation. >> but he could quit. >> he could quit. then the responsibility would go to rachel brand, who is the associate attorney general. she could quit, too. i think both of those are entirely possible if they're directed to fire mueller. at that point, frankly, i'm not exactly sure what would happen, because i don't believe there are other people confirmed by the senate in the order of succession. there could be an acting attorney general put in. it would be a constitutional crisis, but that is one possibility for where we're heading. >> ken cuccinelli, loyal trump supporter, former a.g. first of all, why do you think the president is doing this and stopping short of firing him, and two, if you were in sessions' shoes, would you resign? >> jumping to number two, no way. and back to your number one, i think this is just trump's way. i think a lot of us are
uncomfortable with this part of his way of dealing with -- i almost said senator sessions -- with attorney general sessions who, you know, has made it very clear, look, i'm going to keep showing up, i'm going to keep doing my job, and he is doing that. i mean, all the evidence is that he continues to do that. i think out in america, i think a lot of people kind of wonder about the mueller investigation, especially when it does start to appear to go farther afield. but in the long run, as far as the collusion goes, i think his conclusion is going to be there wasn't any collusion. and if we get to the end of this cycle and that's what mueller says, that's an awfully easy housecleaning effort from a pr standpoint if you're the trump team. so, you know, they ought to just let this thing roll through, they ought to give him the documents, they ought to do
those kinds of things. having said that, when mueller starts poking around on non-russia-related family finances in trump world, i can definitely see why they get uncomfortable with that. >> not putting the cart ahead of the horse, we don't know what they'll conclude. we've heard jared kushner say to reporters, no collusion on my behalf or anyone to his knowledge in the campaign, but we need to let justice play out, not just on capitol hill but the special investigation on behalf of lob mubob mueller. so jeff was just outlining the line to which you could lead to a major firing. that's a major if. you say let mueller do his job and see what plays out. >> right, and the regulation to which he was appointed, because there is no independent counsel law any longer, says that he can only be fired for good cause. now, people could argue, of course, over what is good cause,
but it is not just at the will of the attorney general or the second -- the deputy attorney general or the president, it requires some element of good cause if that's ever going to happen. or, of course, the end of the investigation, which strikes me as the easier path, frankly, for all concerned. >> former fbi lawyer, do you think, as one of our guests outlined how the president has railed on sort of the top law enforcers in this country. do you think the president just doesn't understand the boundaries between the executive branch and justice? >> well, at this point it's been explained to him, i imagine, many, many times. i think that he just doesn't like it. and, you know, this is -- people kept saying, well, he's going to run the government like a business. you actually can't run the government like a business. it doesn't work well that way and you just can't fire people
and make things go away, and that's especially true for the department of justice and the fbi which have been politically independent. so i think he's having trouble just dealing with that fact, and i think he's now been advised by his attorneys, i hope, that if he continues this, you know, mad firing spree that it's going to start increasing his own legal issues with regard to charges of potential obstruction of justice. especially since, as it's been pointed out, he's made his intentions behind that very clear. so i think that he's not someone who is used to being stuck and he's a little bit stuck. >> let me ask all of you to stand by because some of this sessions news have been showing how senators cast their votes on capitol hill to vote and proceed with this debate on health care. dana bash, you are in the chamber at the moment with
senator john mccain. the standing ovation, the strength he displayed and the humor. what was that like to be in there? >> well, it was about an hour plus of drama that -- we've seen a lot of drama around here, certainly, in my decade-plus covering congress, almost two decades. but the combination of the legislative drama layered over the human drama with john mccain was like nothing i remember, maybe since ted kennedy came back to vote on obamacare. but even in that time, you know, ted kennedy, they have the same disease, unfortunately, the same brain cancer, but he was already in decline, much more so than john mccain was today. there is no question that mccain had the entire room, all of his colleagues, democrats and republicans, you could hear a pin drop. and one thing that really struck me was beyond that, i was in the
gallery, is watching his wife cindy who was in the visitors' gallery in the front row. she was the only one there holding a tissue, and just pushing back tears trying really hard not to cry. not so much during his speech, but beforehand, and i'm not sure because i was in the chamber where we don't have access to tv, how much we were able to see. but at the end of the health care vote when john mccain came in and the whole place erupted in applause, he was standing at his desk for a pretty long time, greeting his colleagues. republican after republican, democrat after democrat giving him hugs, shaking his hand. it was really -- you know, you could see that mccain clearly wanted to be here, he wanted this moment, he wanted to be able to say what he said in this speech, but he's not that comfortable with kind of what he knew was happening. a lot of people saying they weren't sure how long they were
going to have him around. the fact that came after a vote on health care with not one vote to spare where you saw senators like the majority leader, you know, practically twisting an arm of ron johnson right before that vote was just a sight to behold, brooke. >> extraordinary standing ovation when he came in and the vote itself. thank you right now and thank all of you for watching. we'll continue in washington. special coverage continues with jake tapper. thanks, brooke. how much longer will the attorney general be able to take all this trolling? snoot le "the lead" starts right now. attorney general sessions once again. how far is the president willing to go to stop the russia probe? breaking news. tiebreaker. the vice president casting the vote to advance debate on health care legislation in the senate. the gop now closer to actually killing