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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  July 31, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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all. he goes to the president, the president talks to a friend or more or his family, i have to assume, and then the ax falls. >> gloria, lynnette and mark, thank you so much. jake tapper of "the lead" starts now. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we're going to start with big breaking news in the politics lead today. could someone have predicted so much staff turnover from a man whose catch phrase is "you're fired"? adding to the growing list, it's anthony scaramucci gone after just a week and change on the job. his official start date was supposed to be mid-august, for what that's worth. in the last hour at the white house, president trump made no mention of the scaramucci departure, but we do expect to hear something more in the white house daily briefing set to begin any moment now.
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we'll bring that to you live. we mentioned that long list of exits in just over six months and other high-profile departures include reince priebus, mike flynn as press secretary, mike duffy, james comey as fbi director, the white house now resembling the red wedding from "game of thrones." let's get to cnn's jeff zeleny at the white house. it's john kelly's first day on the job. he was sworn in this morning. this gifves us a little bit of insight of how kelly felt about scaramucci. >> reporter: it gives us a lot of insight. he didn't think he was the right fit for this new order he's going to try to impose on the west wing. but it also gives us a window into how much authority the president is going to give his
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new chief of staff. this is something that may not have happened, you know, a few weeks or even months ago. it's clear the president is giving john kelly, at least now in the opening days of the honeymoon phase, if you will, the full authority who goes in the oval office, who sees the president and the staffing decisions as well. this is something that is a key question here. the chief of staff among other things is the one who controls access, who has the president's ear, who sees him in the oval office. >> we have sarah huckabee sanders at the podium. we're going to listen in. thanks so much, jeff. >> sure. >> waiting for you. good afternoon, everyone. before i start, i'd like to bring up national security adviser general h.r. mcmaster and treasury secretary steve mnuchin to discuss the administration's response to the maduro regime's recent democratic actions in venezuela. they will each make opening remarks and then take your questions on the topic at hand,
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and then as always, your favorite time of day, i'll come back up and take your questions. thank you. >> hi, good afternoon, everyone. i thought it might be best just to read the president's statement. since president trump's inauguration, the trump administration has called on maduro's regime to respect the constitution, to respect the national assembly, hold free and fair elections, address the humanitarian needs of the venezuelan people, release political prisoners and st stop opressing its great people. the regime has refused to heed this call, and the recent actions culminating in yesterday's outrageous seizure of absolute power through the sham election of the national constituent assembly represent a
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very serious blow to democracy in our hemisphere. maduro is not just a bad leader, he is now a dictator. the united states stands with the people of venezuela in the face of this oppression. we will work with our partners to hold accountable all those responsible for the escalating violence and ongoing human rights violations. the president promised strong and swift actions if the regime went forward with imposing the national constituent assembly on the venezuelan people, and he will keep that promise. secretary mnuchin? >> thank you, general. today the united states is broadening its effort to address the ongoing assault on venezuela's democratic institutions by the maduro regime. treasury assets of foreign
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office control, ofac, has sangsed the people of venezuela. nicholas maduro, as a result of today's sanctions, all actions of madura, subject to berules, e frozen. they stand for democracy, freedom and the rule of law and have been continually ignored by nicolas maduro who dreams of becoming a dictator. yesterday's illegitimate elections confirm that maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the venezuelan people. the national constituent assembly aspires illegitimately to usurp the constitutional role of democratically elected
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national assembly. rewrite the constitution and impose an authoritarian regime on the people. as such, it represents a rupture in venezuela's constitutional and democratic order. by sanctioning maduro, the united states makes clear our opposition to the policies of this regime and the support for the people of venezuela who strive to return their country to a full and prosperous democracy. as the country's head of state, maduro is directly responsible for venezuela's descent and for the destruction of democracy. adding maduro to ofec's list to nationals affects us not standing by idly as venezuela
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conducts these abuses. we hope this will make venezuela officials reconsider how their actions have affected their country. these show what the regime could face if they continue their reckless and undemocratic activities. anyone who participates in this illegitimate anc could be exposed to future u.s. sanctions for their role in undermining democratic process and institutions in venezuela. now we'll take a few questions. >> if these sanctions don't work, what would the next step be, and general mcmaster, i guess a question to you, is there anything on the table other than economic sanctions? >> let me just say, i said this generally, we very much believe that sanctions do work, and we will continue to monitor the situation and consider additional sanctions. >> and to general mcmaster?
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>> the president's priorities are really the concern of the venezuelan people, so he's really only directing his concerns to benefit the venezuelan people. >> how many times have they had sanctions before? >> i can't comment on his assets and this will be the fourth head of state. >> i have a question on elections and one on the election yesterday. on elections, i want to know if you think of the election as an attempt for maduro to secure power in the election next year. and also the washington board say the venezuela regime is
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moving in the direction of a coup. does the american government fear there is a coup in venezuela? >> what we're seeing in venezuela is not a coup. what we're seeing is the brutal oppression of the venezuela people. it's clear if you contrast the turnout from the opposition referendum to the very low numbers of the turnout during this farce associated with the constituent assembly, i think you see what the true desires of the venezuelan people are. >> to either or both of you, how is this different from what happened in turkey when president erdogan also had questionable results? president trump congratulated president erdogan on that, and
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he came to the u.s. and his people had protesters at the embassy. what's the difference? >> what the dimfference is you see an end to the constitution in venezuela. this has been going on in recent months in the regime, but this is a process that really has taken two regimes to really restrict venezuelan democracy. by designating maduro himself, he joins a very ex clclusive cl including kim jong-un. in terms of the brutal oppression of his people and, in this case, the abrogation of the constitution with the constituent assembly. >> is the administration contemplating any action at the u.n. security council in terms of multilateral sanctions
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against the maduro regime? >> again, as i think we said before, this president is not going to advertise what he's going to do in the future. so all options are on the table and we will consider everything. >> allies of the u.s. are accused of punishing the maduro regime. can you please answer that? >> what was the question? >> have you spoken to any other american allies about the issue of punishing -- >> you see the president's statement. he said we'll continue to work with our partners in the region, and there have been many leaders who have taken an important role in this to try to get maduro to moderate his role, to protect the rights of his people. as you know, the organization of american states has tried very hard in this area as well, so the president is committed to working with partners in the region on behalf of the venezuelan people. >> we had several countries last week join us in our previous sanctions. yes, right here. >> what conversations have you had or has the administration
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had or the president had with president maduro or anyone in the senior level? do you expect a conversation to happen in the next 24 to 48 hours? >> i think we're not going to comment on that. >> the president had promised strong and swift economic sanctions. this is not really economic, this is more individual. will the president carry out strong and swift economic sanctions? >> again, we had a series of sanctions last week. this is an additional sanction today. we don't comment on future sanctions, but we will continue to monitor the situation and determine what's appropriate. right here. >> there was some talk of maybe making some changes in terms of our export of light crude oil to venezuela or curbing venezuelan imports. is that still on the table or would that be seen as hurting the venezuelan people? >> let me just say as we continue to monitor the situation, we'll continue to review all of our options.
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our objective is not to do anything that hurts the people of venezuela, but let me just say we will continue to monitor all our options. >> specifically with oil? >> i'm just saying we will monitor all of our options. >> thank you, mr. secretary. 16 years ago, secretary powell signed an agreement in south america in which the u.s. completely ruled out support of coups that would have an indirect change of government throughout latin america and supported correct succession. this occurred in haiti when president arested was overthrown. are you still ruling out any u.s. support of a coup or an uprising against the maduro regime that brings in new leadership? >> again, i'm just going to comment on we are focused on the
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democratic process, and that's what we're focused on right now. one more question. right here, one more question. >> are there going to be sanctions on the minister of defense or people linked to the military? >> again, as i've said, we've announced sanctions, we will continue to monitor the situation and consider everything in the future. thank you, everybody. appreciate it. >> you guys wasted all your questions on the same one over and over. just kidding. tough crowd today. i know it's a little late than we're used to doing the briefing, so i'll just have a few updates before i get to your questions. i wanted to make sure you all are aware that last week the first lady announced that she will leave td the united states delegation in support of the more than 900 american athletes participating in the olympic games this september. there is no better representative in the united states than the first lady, and
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the president is very proud to have her support the team to lead these american athletes. the first lady is very much looking forward to her first solo international trip, and her office is available to answer any questions you may have. as you know, the vice president is overseas on a three-country visit to eastern europe. he spent the last three days in estonia and with the troops participating in the nato enhanced mix where he recognized estonia is only one of five states that meet their spending obligations. the president and first lady arrived in georgia where they attended a dinner hosted by the prime minister. as the president continues to strengthen his relations in europe, here at home the department of commerce and energy rewelcomed news between partnership of the department of energy and the government of ukraine. ukraine will purchase american made cola head of the coming
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winter season. this will provide ukraine with a competitive and alternative energy source, which has been entirely at the mercy of ukraine's neighbors. this will support jobs in the coal and transportation industries. as the trump administration continues to move our country down the path of dominance, we hope to see more moves like this in the future. lastly, i know we all just saw the ceremony that ended in the east room. ic i think his heroic story bears repeating again. for five hours of fighting in vietnam, he protected his comrades. even after a rocket-propelled grenade slashed the bottom of his foot, he completed his devotion to soldiers, even
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carrying one on the shoulders of his back. the president was honored to award him with the medal of honor today, adding his name to the list of american heroes who will stand forever in history for their unbreakable spirit. with that, i'll take your questions. >> what happened, sarah? >> this is kind of fun. how long will you yell? jan, go ahead. >> is anthony scaramucci still in the administration? does he have another role besides communications director? can you talk a little about the circumstances of his departure this morning? >> sure. he does not have a role at this time in the trump administration. we put out a statement earlier announcing that, and i don't have much else to add. >> is he at the bank? >> not at this time. >> did the president ask him to leave? did he volunteer his resignation, or how did that come about? >> i'm not getting into the
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prot process, tick-tock. as i've said before, what matters is not who is employed in the white house but who is employed in the rest of the country. we're devoted to the president's agenda of creating a better economy, creating jobs and that's what we're going to focus on. >> it was a chief of command issue? because scaramucci said he had a direct line of communication to the president. there's been some speculation that general kelly may try to tighten up the number of inputs the president has. was it something about the chain of command or did it have anything to do with that interview scaramucci did last week? >> listen, the president firmly felt that anthony's comments were inappropriate for a person in that position, and he didn't want to burden general kelly also with that line of succession. as i think we've made clear a few times over the course of the last couple days to several of you individually, but general kelly has the full authority to operate within the white house
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and all staff will report to him. >> when you say "didn't want to burden him with that line of succession," you mean the chain of command? >> yeah. correct. >> if i could just clarify one point about this chain of command. apparently jared kushner said they look forward to following general kelly's lead. when it comes to people who has access to the president, will that conduit be narrowed down now? will everyone report to kelly or will some things fall from the chief of staff. >> the president is having people report to general kelly and he'll make those determinations. >> the statement you released from the white house said scaramucci felt it was best to give chief of staff john kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team, but you just said the president felt that his comments were inappropriate. >> i don't see those as being mutually exclusive. i think anthony wants general kelly to be able to operate fully with a clean slate, build his own team, while at the same
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time the president felt his comments were inappropriate. those two things aren't mutually exclusive. >> with the new hire of general kelly, tell us what it looks like in this administration. >> as we've laid out, general kelly, i think, will bring new structure to the white house and discipline and strength, and we're all really excited to work with him. and in terms of -- i'm not going to draw out a work chart up here, but we'll keep you guys posted -- >> everyone reports to kelly instead of going straight to the president with issues? does every assistant go to kelly first? >> i think general kelly has made it clear he will carry out authority as he sees fit. >> with regards to sean spicer, will he be in the administration in any way now that anthony scaramucci has announced that he will not be part of the trump administration? >> i'm not aware of any changes made on that front.
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>> and ten days ago, anthony scaramucci was introduced as the new white house communications director. ten days later he's out of a job. the president announcing on twitter that there is no chaos at the white house. how would you describe what has happened over the course of the past ten days? obviously you will agree with your boss, the president, that there's no chaos, but how do you explain that not to be the case? >> i think it's pretty simple. i've seen it before, if you want to see chaos, come to my house with three preschoolers. this doesn't hold a candle to that. just to be clear, that's not an open invitation to come to my house. but if you guys want to schedule babysitting time, i'll be happy to work that out. >> does the president regret hiring anthony scaramucci? >> i'm not going to get into anything beyond what i've said on that front. >> you said you don't want to get into the process, but you already did. the statement said scaramucci felt, so you're basically laying this on him, saying it was his
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decision. was it his decision? >> i think i've been pretty clear that the president felt it was inappropriate. both anthony and general kelly also, i think, came to a mutual agreement and we're moving forward to focus on the jobs outside of this building, not within it. >> two questions, one on this and then a different topic. just to clarify because i want to make sure i understand the word "he." you said a few minutes ago he didn't want to burden kelly with that line of succession. >> the president. >> you were saying it's the president who was deciding that -- >> look, we all serve with pleasure to the president, but i think this was a mutually agreed conversation that took place within several people. >> on russia and russia's sanctions, do you know whether the president has or intends to soon sign the russia sanctions bill, and why hasn't the president taken the opportunities he's had today, several public opportunities, to say something in response to vladimir putin's retaliation
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with the 755 diplomats? >> so we put out a statement over the weekend stating the president's intent to sign, and we'll let you know when that takes place. again, we'll let you know when that's going to happen. and in terms of your second question, the follow-up was -- i'm sorry. >> why hasn't he taken the opportunity to say something to president putin? it's kind of striking the silence of the president with no sort of response out of his own mouth. he had a couple opportunities today to say something about it and he didn't. >> right now we're reviewing our options and when we have something to say on it, we'll let you know. >> not to beat a dead horse, but -- >> why not, that's our favorite thing to do. >> you said all staff will report to the new chief of staff. does that include jared kushner, steve bannon, everyone reports to kelly? >> that includes everyone at the white house. >> and i want to address tax
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reform. will the president go forward with tax reform with his committee? >> we put out a statement with the big 6. we'll continue working with them and report the out come as it happens. >> now that anthony scaramucci resigned, that's also a clean slate. has the slate been totally cleaned at this point? any more staff shake-ups? everyone else in senior staff positions plan to remain at this time? >> yes. >> two very brief questions. is there any chance you will just leave the job of communications director alone having had two people who held it leave rather abruptly in both cases? >> we'll let you know when we have any personnel announcements to make on that front. >> the other thing i wanted to ask was when the president made his speech to police officers on friday, almost within minutes statements came from police
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chiefs across the country, criticizing his remarks that seemed to endorse the use of force by police in certain arrests. was the president joking when he said this, or did he check his remarks out with the international association of police chiefs, or maybe the attorney general? >> i believe he was making a joke at the time. trey? >> to be clear, because the statement says that anthony scaramucci is no longer with the administration. was scaramucci fired by the president or was he asked to resign? >> again, i'm not going to get into anything beyond what i've said on that front. >> from the president's perspective, you said this was a back and forth conversation. can you take us through a little bit of what the president is looking for in his communications shop, why he might make this decision to make a clean slate? >> i think that he wants to work with general kelly and the communications team that is intact right now and determine what the best course forward is
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at this point. >> if it's accurate that general sessions' position will be replaced, how urgent will you work on that matter? >> there is no announcement on that and the president has 100% confidence in his cabinet. >> you said the president found his remarks inappropriate. obviously the president is not a stranger to insulting language. can you specify what he found inappropriate or disturbing? >> i said he found it inappropriate for a person in that position. >> to do what? >> i believe the comments that he made, he found those comments inappropriate. i'm not sure what's unclear. >> you talk about the messaging being important for the president here and obviously the head of the communications department is crucial to that effort. i'm trying to figure out what went on this morning between
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scaramucci and this afternoon. >> i don't think it's complicated to understand the president thought the comments were inappropriate. i can't explain it any further than that. >> on north korea, there's been some discussion from outside analysts who are increasingly speculating about the possibility of a first strike. that an option on the table for this white house? >> as we've said many times before, the president is not going to broadcast any decisions, but all options are on the table. peter? >> thank you, sarah. the president week before last signed an executive order on infrastructure. does that mean that the president has no -- not no intention but is not going to prioritize working with congress on the infrastructure bill? is there any discussion at this point of moving forward on any sort of legislative front for infrastructure? >> absolutely. the president has been very out
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spo outspoken for the need of a massive overhaul on the country's infrastructure system, but legislative to have the ability to carry that out. >> we've seen a deputy chief of staff, press secretary, fbi director, national press secretary all leave within six months of this administration. can you tell us why there's been all this turbulence? i know you don't like getting into the process, but all those things together, what's going on? >> we're continuing to focus on the president's agenda. we're going to have staff changes. we'll let you guys know when they happen. but what matters to us are not the jobs within this building but the ones outside. that's why the president has been so focused on growing jobs. we've created over a million new jobs since he took office. consumer confidence is at an all-time high. we're focused on creating a
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strong economy and growing jobs outside this building, not focused on the ones within. we're going to continue to do that. >> a quick follow-up. nick mulvaney said the white house doesn't want any votes in the senate on health care. with vice president pence out of the country, it's not likely they'll vote on health care. is it the white house position that they'll accept the senate voting on non-health care things in the next weeks and months? >> we'll continue to push forward hopefully with the repeal and replacement of obamacare. we've never been shy about that. alexis? >> the director was talking today about the need today for the president's tax reform. i wanted to know if you coould could elaborate on the president's hope to travel for tax reform and get some
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democratic senators' support from legislation. can you tell us where he plans to go on this? >> no, but we'll be sure to keep you updated on the president's travel in this office. he does hope to have a lot of support on tax reform. it's something vital to our economy and something the administration is very focused on and has been. we'll continue working both with the house and senate as well as members of the administration. we're cutting it close on time. thanks so much, guys. >> why would the president joke about police brutality? that's not a joking matter. >> that was sarah huckabee sanders giving the white house press briefing, the first such briefing since the latest massive shake-up, the shake-up of the shake-up, if you will. sarah huckabee sanders commenting on the sudden departure of former white house communications director anthony scaramucci says president trump found scare huamucscaramucci's
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that foul-mouthed interview inappropriate. she wouldn't go into what was inappropriate about it. president trump is known to employ salty language time and again. here in the studios with me, kaitlyn collins. zeleny, let me go to you first. more on the major exit in the west wing. correct me if i'm wrong, wasn't sh she saying last week after that new yorker interview came out that essentially it wasn't any big deal at all? >> she was, jake, and that shows you what's changed, and the one thing that's changed is the man who has the office in the corner of the west wing, john kelly, the new chief of staff. that is the thing that led to anthony scaramucci's dismissal from the white house. but jake, i think -- i was struck by that sarah huckabee sanders did not close the door to him getting another job in the government.
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she said he does not have a role at this time. so he came to the white house from the export/import bank, which is a small sort of subsidiary of the government that handles foreign loans and things. he could go back there, he could go elsewhere. i thought she left that sort of hanging out there. but she also said that sean spicer will not be coming back. she said she has not heard any new information on that at this point. that had been sort of skugdiscu by some corners here. and sean spic she was fueling that by not answering some reporters' questions here. but she did not say specifically why the president had a change of heart from what we know, that he gave his approval to those comments last week. of course, he's out but john kelly is the one intervening
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factor, jake. >> in fact, it was reported that president trump was put off by the fact that reince priebus did not respond in kind after anthony scaramucci trashed him to the new yorker. now we're told that president trump found the comments inappropriate. it does seem to be more driven by general kelly that t, the ch staff, i would think. >> i would think, jake, but this is a day of contradictions here at the white house. the incoming white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders, did not want to acknowledge there was chaos in the white house. that seems akin to denying that the sky is blue. obviously the chaos is here at the white house. she said if you want to see cha chaos, you can come see how my kids play at the house. my suspicion, jake, is perhaps her children behave better than some of the officials do inside this white house when they're
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engaging in some of the factual bickering we see all the time. another thing that was interesting here, this was very much a briefing where i think the white house was making it clear they are showing anthony scaramucci the door. she was asked during this briefing whether scaramucci will be working at the export/import bank, and she said no. that is not the expectation here at the white house. and jake, i can tell you, i talked to a friend of anthony scaramucci who said he had spoken with scaramucci earlier this afternoon who said the mooch had intended to show up for work at the export/import bank promptly at 9:00 tomorrow morning. evidently that is no longer going to be necessary. and i think lastly, jake, i think as one story ends, another story biegins. i thought it was quite striking that sarah huckabee sanders said the president of the united states was joking about police officers roughing up suspects at that event that he held last friday. you recall the president talking about that during that speech
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going after undocumented gangs and so forth. the president made some remarks about roughing up police suspects duri suspects. during this press briefing, sarah huckabee sanders said the president was joking there, which begs the question how is it at all appropriate for the president to be joking about police brutality. jake? >> and those answers were condemned by any police offices. tell me, what are your sources telling you about general kelly when he made this decision, why he made this decision? >> we didn't hear a lot of tick-tock from sarah sanders. she refused to comment on conversations the president had with john kelly. we're told this is something john kelly had discussed over the weekend, getting rid of anthony scaramucci after that new yorker interview last week, but he didn't make the formal decision to ask him to step aside until after he was sworn in this morning. we saw scaramucci was in the
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oval office for his swearing in, as was most of the white house staff. i think it shows how much weight john kelly does have in this white house. last week after the feud between reince priebus and scaramucci became quite clear, sarah sanders defended it saying the president liked healthy competition between his staff, and then today she said the president thought skacaramucci' comments were inappropriate. the two don't go together. it seems john kelly really has a lot of weight in this which changed the president's mind. >> gloria, what are your sources telling you about how this decision was made presumably by john kelly, the retired marine general, and the new white house chief of staff? >> i was told by one source close to the white house that general kelly made this decision two to three days ago. i was just told by another
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source that kelly decided it had to happen, and another source said that the president spoke with someone close to him about it, asking his opinion, and the president was advised that, yes, scaramucci had gotten too far out front. i think the general feeling was that the vulgarity was unacceptable, and also there is one more part of this. this one source just said to me, he said, anthony was grandstanding, with the president you end up in the cheap seats in center field when you do that. no star can shine brighter, to use another metaphor, than the president in this white house, and i think the president felt he was getting way too far out front. >> mark preston, anthony scaramucci was brought in two fridays ago with a lot of pomp and circumstance. sean spicer on his way out,
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anthony scaramucci on his way in against the wishes, we should point out, of senior strategist steve bannon and then chief of staff reince priebus. and now, of course, 10 days later, priebus is gone, but so is scaramucci. what is your reaction? >> well, i mean, look, the bottom line is that scaramucci got way out in front of his skis on this. when you are the communications director for the white house, as you know, you're supposed to be behind the scenes. you're not is somebody who is supposed to go out and overshadow your principal, in this case, the president. that's what we saw from scaramucci. bhae what's interesting, too, when the general was chosen to be the chief of staff, you have to wonder what conditions were put on his acceptance, and from gloria's reporting, the fact this was made two or three days ago, was that condition that he could fire anyone he needed in order to create his own team in the west wing? i think what we're seeing right now is that's the case. a very good ally and close ally
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of the general explained this to me. he said, listen, he's a no b.s. kind of guy. he's a very serious kind of guy. he realized that anthony scaramucci was not the person that needed to be not only crafting the message but should not be delivering the message. >> and david chalian, one of the things that's interesting, of course, is sarah huckabee sanders just saying that everyone -- everyone -- reports to general kelly, including -- she was specifically asked about steve bannon and jared kushner. one of the problems that has existed at the white house, according to people who work there or have worked there, is that there were basically three chiefs of staff, steve bannon, jared kushner and formerly reince priebus. it was difficult to get any decision made because one person would sign off and the other two would be against it, and there was fierce competition between these three centers of power. now we're told that's gone. general kelly is the person who
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reports to the president, everyone else reports to general kelly. i guess we'll see if that actually happens. >> i think this is as we discussed on friday, jake, when this all happened. i think we were still in this waiting to see moment, because it looks like right now that donald trump is giving general kelly all the tools and latitude he needs to really get up and running in this role, to really try to instill some discipline. this is one way to do that. but think about everything you understand about the way the trump administration is run, everything we see about donald trump's behavior as president these last six months. the idea that ivanka trump is not going to be able to talk to her father directly and walk into the oval office just seems a little strange credulity, i think. kelly put in the structure but donald trump still getting the streams of communication that he relies on. i find it notable that jeff sessions got a confidence boost from sarah huckabee sanders.
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the attorney general has been twisting in the wind. sarah says the president has 100% confidence in every one of his cabinet members. that's the first sort of atta boy jeff sessions has gotten in two weeks. >> gloria, let me play scaramucci advocate for one second. this is someone who has wanted to work for the administration a long time, has been promised a number of jobs. turned down here and there. he's been at the export/import bank. he's given up a lot of money, sold his business. obviously there are great personal sacrifices as well. he finally gets appointed communications director. he comes out, says he wants to improve relationships with the press. he does take steps to improve relationships with the press, tangible steps, including returning the televised briefing which we're now all taking for granted, but for more than a month, it was off the table. he professed his love and affection for the president many times, defended the president,
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was a fierce advocate, and yes, there was infighting, but really, is somebody who goes to work for president trump supposed to think that he doesn't like infighting, that he doesn't like competition? from anthony scaramucci's point of view, with the exception of the new yorker interview, he did everything right. tell me why i'm wrong. we're playing a little game here, a little exercise. >> i think in the end, all the things you point out are true, but in the end, anthony scaramucci destroyed himself. i think it was his hubris in coming in. remember, jake, it was just, what, a week ago, maybe two weeks ago, myself included, where we said how smooth he was, and how adversarial at that first briefing and we thought it was all really impressive, actually. but then he got ahead of himself and talked about firing people. let's even put the vulgarity aside, which is hard to do, but he got out ahead of whatever chief of staff was in there,
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boasting about his direct access to the president, talking openly about heads that would roll and talking openly about which heads would roll in particular, who happen to be two very important people at the white house. and it was unsustainable because it injected a degree of instability into the white house that clearly a new chief of staff coming in, particularly one with four stars on his shoulder, would probably not be able to live with. and i'm sure that kelly had a conversation with the president about it and made that clear. so in a way, if scaramucci had stopped -- and, you know, this is hindsight, of course -- but with that first briefing where he claimed that he and priebus could work together, et cetera, et cetera, that would have been fine. but then he got a little full of himself. and i think when he went
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overboard, he self-destructed. >> everyone, thank you so much. we obviously have much more to discuss in this breaking news shake-up. we're getting a lot more information as to when james comey was fired by donald trump. you might remember the general until this morning was chairman of homeland security. we'll be right back. as easy as saving $600 if e when you switch to progressive. winds stirring. too treacherous for a selfie. [ camera shutter clicks ] sure, i've taken discounts to new heights with safe driver and paperless billing. but the prize at the top is worth every last breath. here we go. [ grunts ] got 'em. ahh. wait a minute. whole wheat waffles? [ crying ] why!
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continuing with politics, we're getting new information about the new chief of staff john kelly and his response after fbi director james comey had been fired. pamela, john kelly, former department of homeland security secretary, now white house chief of staff. this is fascinating. tell us the story. >> so my colleague has learned that incoming chief of staff
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john kelly was so upset with the way president trump handled the firing of james comey this past may that he called comey shortly after he was terminated to tell him how angry he was. this is according to two sources familiar with this conversation between kelly and comey. one of the sources said kelly was simply disgusted by the way it all was handled. at the time kelly, as you pointed out, was secretary of homeland security, and he was so angry that he even told comey he was contemplating resigning from his position as homeland security secretary in a show of solidarity. comey responded by telling him not to resign in this phone conversation. both sources did caution, though, it was unclear how serious kelly was about resigning, and of course that never happened. but the sources say he was particularly upset by the way it all went down, about the fact comey learned he was fired on the news rather than by the president himself, and the call took place, we learned, while comey was traveling back to los
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angeles from washington on may 9 after learning about it on the news. for context, jake, the sources said comey and kelly are not particularly close friends but they had a professional relationship and a deep mutual respect for each other. comey declined to comment to us about the story and the white house dhs did not comment. jake? >> pamela brown, thank you very much for that excellent reporting. joined now by my political panel. paris, let me stars with yt wit. this news that chief of staff kelly was so upset -- disgusted wassed wo the word -- how comey treated by the president that he even reached out, and we don't know how serious he was, that he may even resign in protest. do you think the president knew that and that might have been a strike against him? >> no t shows the president has confidence in what he sees as a strong leader. i think the general is someone
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who is loyal, he knows battle, he knows battle tactics. he is someone who understands you have to come in and have order at the time of battle and order in that white house. so i think he would appreciate the fact that this is a person who understands respect and respect for authority and respect for leadership. so i don't think there will be any change in his opinion on having somebody of general kelly's capacity coming in there to hit the six-month reset button in that west wing. >> robert, what do you make of general kelly doing this? this is a pretty bold step to fire, essentially, is what it was, whether he resigned or not, to fire somebody that just came on board 10 days ago to shake things up? essentially, by the way, shook things up in a way that offered kelly the job, the opportunity he has, and his first response is to fire scaramucci. >> it was the right move, clearly. scaramucci was not going to be a successful communications dre director, that's clear. what's going to be interesting to watch is donald trump -- rather, anthony scaramucci was
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donald trump's id incarnate. what we've seen on this president over and over again is he always goes back to that id, he always goes back to those animal instincts. he went through three campaign managers, and just a week ago we were talking about scaramucci and said the one thing you can't do to president trump is upstage him. scaramucci went there and he was gone. i find this anecdote about the fbi director interesting. this is something the president hears and then he goes back to his old habits. >> this news broke just before the news on anthony scaramucci. just a few days ago, the white house was singing a completely different song about that new yorker interview in which scaramucci went on this
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profani profanity-laced tirade on steve bannon. listen to this from thursday. >> i don't know if he has an opinion of what he should do between the two of them. i think the president, as always, enjoys healthy competition and conversation, and he sees that as such. >> so, you know, the nastiness expressed in that conversation healthy conversation. here's sarah huckabee today. >> the president felt those comments were inappropriate for a person in that position and he didn't want to burden mr. kelly either for a person in that position. >> in sarah's defense, it's possible president trump chained his mind, but that's a complete contradiction. >> it seems to me kelly is the
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one who had a problem with this way of doing business, and he may have a problem with that way of doing business in general, as we see with perhaps this discussion of comey and the fact he didn't like the way that went down. he's a person of professionalism and skill and duty, and he's been in the marine corps for a long time, so he's going to do things in a very different way than the white house. i think normally the white house chief of staff runs the white house. to paraphrase the old joke in the trump white house, the white house runs you. i think general kelly is much less likely to be run than perhaps reince priebus was. the question is whether trump actually wants him to be in charge of the process. >> you're absolutely right, the president has instincts and he always puts in the right person at the right time. comey was the right person at the right time. then he brought in manafort to get him in the position. then he brought in kellyanne conway to get him over the finish line. he knew the donors, he knew the
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party base, but he was unable to get him across the finish line, so he brings in, trusting his instincts, john kelly to come in and set the order. i have no way of proving this, but i also think scaramucci came in at the right time to set the tone. three big names left that white house. leaks would not be tolerated. general kelly came in and the reorder is going to happen. >> just so i'm clear, i don't think the president's instincts are good, i think they're mean-hearted, i think they're dangerous and i think you'll see them rear their ugly head again, so just to be clear, i don't think the president has good instinc instincts. >> maybe scaramucci was clearing the ice. he was the zamboni and came in and took care of that, and then he put john kelly in place to have a good tone. if scaramucci leaving is a sign of kelly ascending, i think that
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is a good sign. the question is whether trump actually ultimately listens to someone who is his alpha and who is on his level. >> until today, there were the actual chief of staff reince priebus until he resigned friday. then there was steve bannon and jared kushner and ivanka trump who are also a power center unto themselves and different factions within those three tent positive poles. reince priebus and steve bannon were very much opposed to scaramucci coming on board, and he was pushed out by kushner. scaramucci coming in got rid of sean spicer and got rid of reince priebus. is it possible, n that that rea was scaramucci's role, to get those two out on behalf of the people who brought him in, jared
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kushner and ivanka trump? >> i think that's what the white house would like you to believe because is sounds semi-sane and calculated. i think this is cannotly whexac looks like on the surface. i think the president made a knee jerk decision to bring scaramucci in, by his children or whoever. and then he had somebody who i think right now he respects very much who came in and said, to do this job right, i need to let this person go. at the same time scaramucci had been out there and probably gotten a little bit ahead of himself. i think it's very dangerous for us to assign any more strategy or calculation to this than there actually was. >> i have a question, too, about kelly's style who is not going to be mr. drama, he's not going to be out front. the interesting thing about trump is he wants to be seen on tv and he does not want to be overshadowed. but kelly is not going to be out in front, and i wonder if that
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makes him lose some currency. >> the other question i have has to do with scaramucci, and i want to defend scaramucci for a second, paris, as i did earlier. this guy came in after being loyal to the president for a long time, going on shows and defending him. he was waiting for a job. he finally got one at the export/import bank. he was promise ad a whole bunchf others. he was finally promised one at the white house. at great personal sacrifice, he comes in and does what he thinks he's supposed to be doing, which is defend the president, saying he's going to smooth over relations with the press, which he does to an extent. in addition he throws some elbows, and guess what? this is a place already with elbows being thrown. is it possible he thought he was doing just what he needed to do and is completely stunned by this? >> one correction, he came in and was head of apl briefly, so he had one position. but i think he came in doing what he thought to be right, doing what he thought the
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president wanted, but he might have taken it just a bit too far. some of the colorful language, the president and ivanka trump might have also found that a little bit inappropriate, so i think he did not realize you're now at the white house. it's a different bar. it's not new york. while that might have worked in years past, it no longer works right now and there is a repercussion for your actions, and the presidential loud general kelly to come in and have the latitude as chief of staff to set the standard that that just won't be tolerated in this new white house. >> but this is a president who on that "access hollywood" tape said some pretty graphic things. what scaramucci said about steve bannon was a figure of speech. what president trump said on that "access hollywood" tape was not a figure of speech, neither of which i can quote right now. do you think he was offended? >> i don't know about what these folks say anymore.
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at so many junctures through this entire episode of the campaign and everything else. >> we have six seconds left. thank you, everyone. i appreciate it. join us tonight for a special prime time edition of "the lead" at 10:00 tonight. handing it over to wolf blitzer. thanks for watching. happening now, breaking news. scaramucci out. president trump's controversial new communications director anthony scaramucci resigns after just 10 days on the job. we're learning new details of why he was asked to leave. the president's new chief of staff john kelly was so disgusted about how the president fired james comey that he called comey and told him he was considering resigning. the