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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  April 24, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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sister, he will be fifth in line to the thrown behind older brother george and sister charlotte. i'm brooke baldwin. thank you for being with me. let's go to washington and the -- "the lead" with jake tapper starts now. president trump only picks the quote, best people. "the lead" starts right now. what's up doc, a ton of room to bow out. as admiral ronny jackson finds himself finding troubling but completely unproven charges. tick tock on another trump pick. it only took a half dozen or so scandals about is the white house prepared to turn its back on the president's epa chief. and hugs, kisses and lots of holding hands. can president trump's new best bud on the world stage nudge him into a different direction. good afternoon.
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welcome to "the lead" i'm jake tapper. it is the messy result of president trump governing by gut, picking someone he likes, with insufficient experience and nonexistent vetting to head the second largest burock rasry and opening the door for ronny jackson to step aside asserting he doesn't need the job or the aggravation that trump himself would not go through with it were it him. this comes after the news this morning that his confirmation hearing has been put on hold indefinitely by the u.s. senators, led by johnny isaacson of georgia, chair of the vetera veterans' affairs committee expressing concerns about allegations -- unproven allegations that one senator called devastating if true. after two whistleblowers detailed alleged behavior involving what they called a toxic work environment on
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capitol hill and jackson saying he was eager to answer any questions about this. we start off with more from the white house. >> i don't want to put a man through a process like this. it is too ugly and disgusting. >> president trump trying to offer a exit for another top aide and this time dr. ronny jackson, his personal white house doctor he picked to lead the v.a. and the president standing behind jackson but wouldn't blame him for stepping aside. >> i wouldn't do it. what does he need it for? to be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren't thinking nicely about our country. i really don't think personally he should do. it but it is totally his. i would stand behind him. it is his decision. >> reporter: but the president put jacks in this position. nominating him to run one of the biggest bureaucracies without vetting him first. he was known for giving the president a clean bill of health. >> i told the president if he had a healthier diet he might
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live to be 200 years old. he has incredible genes. i just assume -- >> reporter: while senators have been openly questioning his experience, his confirmation hearing was postponed indefinitely amid questions about his behavior at the white house medical unit. cnn learned senators are looking into allegations from whistleblowers who raise concerns about excessive drinking, a toxic work environment and his handling of prescription drugs. the president himself said there was an experienced problem with his own nominee but said he had not heard the details of the allegations. >> i know there is an experience problem because lack of experience -- >> i haven't heard of the particular allegations but i will tell you, he's one of the finest people that i have met. >> reporter: on capitol hill, jackson showed no signs of backing down. >> i can answer the questions and i look forward to rescheduling the hearing and answering everyone's questions. >> reporter: on a day of pomp and circumstance at the white house as the president rolled out the red carpet for french
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president macron, it was another staff shake-up stirring controversy. the president spoke to jackson by phone saying the decision was his. >> i told admiral jackson, just a little while ago, i said, what do you need this for? this is a vicious group of people that malign and they do -- and i lived through it. we all live through it. >> reporter: while the president blamed the ordeal on democrats obstructionism, both parties expressed outrage at the white house for critical likes like the v.a. >> let's get a leader over there mr. president. do your vetting a lot better. >> reporter: and important to point out it is republicans on that senate committee raising questions as well. senator john thune is saying it would be nice to know about some of the things before the fact as opposed to after the fact. but jake, despite the fact that the president opened the door to a graceful exit, we don't know if dr. jackson will walk through it. i'm told that he is still thinking this through, he's not
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yet advised the white house what he wants to do. one school of thought is he wants to answer the questions before hearing and another school of thought is it is wiser to step away if he doesn't get confirmed. so no answer to this yet but yet one more potential staff shake-up. >> jeff zel annie at the white house. and my political panel joins us. and we have caitlyn collins from move on.org and corrine pierre and a new book out today called "suicide of the west", called everything from magnificent to a toured force. congratulations, jonah. but let's talk about the panel discussion. take a listen to how president trump talked about dr. jackson today. >> i have gotten to know him pretty well. he's a great doctor. and it was a suggestion, now i know there is an experience
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problem because lack of experience, but there is an experience problem that the veterans administration is very important to me. >> isn't it a bit unusual for a president to acknowledge that his own nominee has a, quote, experience problem. >> it is very unusual. and exactly if you listen to what the president said going forward, if it was me i wouldn't stay, i would withdrawal my nomination. that is not exactly a ringing endorsement. because before the allegations were made against dr. jackson, a lot of the pushback on capitol hill facing an uphill battle wentz confirmation any way because not just democrats, they do not think he has the experience to run veterans' affairs. it has a lot of problems and bigs and just because he is a doctor and has great medical credentials could do that. the president said if it was me, i wouldn't do it. put through ugly rumors and allegations. >> disgusting process -- >> we call it a confirmation
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process. >> and when the people are confirmed, you don't have people like scott pruitt and david shulkin running around spending money like they're printing it in the backseat so you have someone you know you could trust and veteran affairs hits home for a lot of people and they won't just confirm anybody and it doesn't seem like it will happen for dr. jackson. >> look at president trump seeming to blame a vicious group of people that malign, talking about the democrats, he said he didn't even know the specific allegations, though a white house source tells us that jackson did warn the administration. when the president demonizes democrats for blocking this nomination when it is actually republicans senators, primarily leading the concern, you write in your book about tribalism, about how everything these days is devolving into pacts of people loyal to -- even to people more than ideology. is that part of this? this idea that president trump is getting his base to blame democrats even though it is not
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democrats really to blame at all here? >> sure. part of my argument is that human nature in a very real way is corrupting and causes us to bend the rules, we don't like external rules, we want the shortest path between our desires and where we are. and that is donald trump to a "t" and that is why he likes to surround himself with loyalists and cares more about the loyalty to him than about their qualifications for a job and he figured out this argument by innuendo where if there is somebody who is in trouble on his team and his tribe, however you want to put it, it must be because the sort of evil other is to blame for it. it can't be that they did a bad vetting process or the guy wasn't qualified for the job because for donald trump, he works on instinct. he admitted it. and if i like you and think you're a loyal person to me, we can work out the other details later because that's what he
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cares about. >> and corrine, we learned jackson wasn't vetted before nominated. obviously it is a different -- but president trump brought the phrase extreme vetting into parlance when talking about refugees coming to the country. but he doesn't even believe in basic vetting for cabinet nominations. >> that is exactly right. and he's so ill-prepared for the office and doesn't understand what the agencies do to have nominated someone who would be the head of the second largest agency -- a $200 billion budget which is -- the agency behind the department of defense. that is a big job. and ronny jackson is just ill prepared and should not have this job. and to what the guest was saying, donald trump is the king of tribalism. he always talks to his base. everything he does is talking to his base. not to the people of the country, because it is a small and shrinking base and that is how donald trump operates.
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>> and let's play the sound of president trump saying he supports the nominee but also opening up a door and maybe even several windows for ronny jackson to flee from the nomination process. >> the fact is i wouldn't do it. what does he need it for? to be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren't thinking nicely about our country. i really don't think personally he should do it. but it is totally his. i would stand behind him. it is totally his decision. >> i mean, that doesn't sound like he's standing behind him to be honest. >> it doesn't sound like he's standing behind him but saying that i won't do it because he does see what he's being put through. this is someone a week ago a well-respected doctor and beloved in the west wing and very beloved by the president because he picked him to do a job. >> loved by the obama white house before that also we should point out. >> both parties. but even white house officials who worked for president trump realize he is likely doomed here. they do not see how he could pull himself out of this. they see this tough battle that pompeo just went through and
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they think he has the credentials to get the job as the top diplomat and they can't make the same argument or confident to make the statement. the statement that the white house sent out defending ronny jackson was prepared several days ago because they knew he would be criticized, the lack of experience so they drafted that statement saying they trusted his leadership at the v.a. but they obviously got to send it out early because of the allegations that are threatening to up-end his nomination. >> and jonah, mitch mcconnell asked if he had gotten signal from the white house that jackson might withdraw and he said i haven't gotten a signal. we're waiting for a signal. >> if ronny jackson is innocent of these allegations, he's been done -- a terrible disservice and you understand why he might want to stay in. i don't know what truth of it all is. but he's poorly served because if they vetted him up front, he never -- his name never would have been entered. and there is a reason republican
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senators may be concerned. the v.a. is not a sexy job but way up there on the list of priorities for congressmen and senators in terms of constituent services and people who vote. and getting on the wrong side of veterans is just terrible p.r. so you could see why they are concerned. >> stick with us. we have more to talk about. coming up, i love you man. what is it about the french president that the president is unable to keep his hands off him. stay with us. in jellyfish. in clinical trials, prevagen has been shown to improve short-term memory. prevagen. the name to remember. peopbut they're different.nd. it's nice to remove artificial ingredients. kind never had to. we choose real ingredients like almonds, peanuts and a drizzle of dark chocolate. find your favorite and give kind® a try. i'm trying to manage my a1c,
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times just today, i'm speaking purely will physical interactions now about the iran deal, but if you watch them, they are trying to outdo each other. on the truman balcony trying to out-wave, to be the last to wave. and seeing who could pull each other the furthest or shake hand the longest or comes out with their hand on top on the back. or earlier when they were walking to the oval office after they welcomed everyone on the south lawn, trump was dragging -- >> he likes to pull. >> pulling him. it is an aggressive power move there. they're trying to outdo each other physically. >> he likes to man handle. in your new book, jonah, you write -- you giggle every time i plug your book. >> i'm so grateful for it. >> in your new book "suicide of the west" you say he wants to go around parliament in france, despite the differences in policy and physicality, are trump and macron more alike than
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we think they are? >> they certainly -- i think caitlyn is right about the body language issue. if you watch it with the sound off and sometimes it reminds me of -- like champ kind from anchor man telling ron burgundy, i like your musk. there is a certain weird thing going on there. but i think ultimately it is sort of an -- alpha male thing and this is a person beyond politics an the dominant male and you see it in their interactions and also -- it is a very -- it is a long-standing trend in french politics as well, this idea from being without -- from without the system and you find it in american politics more as well. >> and corrine, when president trump was standing with macron, he brushed something off his coat. this is a very odd moment. take a listen. >> it is a great honor to be here. but we do have a very special relationship. in fact i'll get that little
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piece of dandruff or -- we have to make him perfect. he is perfect. >> i mean, what? >> it is like -- >> telling the french president he has dandruff on his jacket. >> it is like a -- like a theater that trump can't help himself. but it also feels like they bring back this cave man days. they are all trying to establish themselves against each other. but to me, i have to give credit to macron because he's clearly taking a master class in how to manage donald trump. he plays into all of donald trump's insecurities and he knows how to get him to do -- hopefully to do what he wants. we don't know yet. and macron is not stupid. he knows what he's doing. >> and it does show how much more comfortable trump is around him. when merkel comes on friday -- he will not be picking dandruff off her shoulder or making jokes. >> but he comes first and then she'll come on the back end. >> and also an interesting moment, jonah, when a reporter,
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i think it was john carl from abc asked president trump whether he would pardon michael cohen under criminal investigation. take a listen. >> [ inaudible question ]. >> thank you very much. stupid question. go ahead. anybody else? it. >> stupid question. it doesn't seem all that stupid to me. it seems like a very legitimate question. he keeps talking about pardons. >> yeah, he's giving them away like oprah with presents under the chair. and i understand why he doesn't want to talk about it then and there but it is obvious he is thinking about it and sending the signals about it. i think it would be a terrible idea particularly before you find out what it is exactly that they are looking at about michael cohen. it is one thing to do it after you find out what the charges are and maybe they don't touch you and you could do it in the spirit of mag nomminity but to do it preemptively which would
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seem like a cover-up. >> and an interesting moment and story that cnn broke, the president using his personal phone -- cell phone to contact people outside of the advisers and there are security issues but what is he calling people and asking about? >> that is a -- he calls about everything. it starts early in the morning calling lawmakers he's seen on tv and staffers and then aides and at night he tends to call his old friends back in new york. cable news host and to question them on everything under the sun and everything that he's handling in the white house and who he should put in john kelly's job and telling him he's doing a great job. just a little bit of what he's saying and he calls to talk about everything. >> everything is fine. next our closest allies stage a step toward iran and the first step is recognizing you have a problem. stay with us.
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today president trump is issuing a new warning to iran as he considers whether to rip up the iran nuclear deal as he long promised. >> we're not restarting anything. they restart and they'll have big problems. bigger than before and mark it down. >> today's warning came as the president welcomed french president macron to the white house trying to convince president trump to stay in the iran nuclear deal. there is a may 12th deadline looming to recertify the agreement. my next guest worked under president obama and wrote a book called "war on peace", we can also add pulitzer prize winner to his title. ronin pharaoh. congrats on the work you are doing. so i want to ask you, president trump is the one clearly threatening to pull out of the iran deal. do you think, based on your knowledge of these two, that
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macron might be able to convince him not to pull out? >> i think that will be the project of a lot of world leaders. i talk about the international reactions to the iran deal and this administration's escalating assaults on the iran deal in the book. war on peace chronicles how rare an accomplishment the iran deal is these days and despite all of the valid sources of conversati controversy, it is important signaling. when you hear the frank comments from the world leaders about the saber rattle from the trump administration and what are the ramifications for the north korea conflict. as we strive to come to some kind of a settlement there, how are they supposed to behave, why would they have any incentive to come to the table if a deal with a rogue regime is one that we sabotage. >> the president gave to hints
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on what his decision would be on the deadline to certify the agreement. take a listen. >> we'll see if i do what some people expect, whether or not it will be possible to do a new deal with solid foundations. because this is a deal with decayed foundations. >> is he laying the groundwork for staying in the deal? how do you interpret that? >> we've heard this kind of vas illation and these threats and then pulling back time and time again from donald trump. i would just highlight one material difference this time around, jake. i talk to rex tillerson in this book, he's one of the many secretaries of state, all of them in fact that went on the record for this, talking about deals of this type. and one thing that is striking about rex tillerson is although he presided over the deep cuts to the state department and lock step with trump in some ways, he was at times a lone voice pushing back against trump's effort to extricate our country from the iran deal. >> right. >> and in mike pompeo, who very
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soon in all likelihood will be the new secretary of state, we someone much more lock step with president trump and matched his own saber rattling on iran with his own tweets an statements saying we have to get out of the deal. >> and you mention north korea as part of a reason to stay in the iran deal to show the north koreans that the u.s. will abide by any sort of agreement. take a listen to president trump this afternoon raising eyebrows when he praised the north korean leader kim jong-un. >> kim jong-un was -- he really has been very open and i think very honorable from everything we're seeing. >> that is some fairly stunning language to use when describing kim jong-un who to say the least starves and imprisons his own people. >> and what is striking here, jake, is you don't have a system
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of experts guiding any of this any more. because we no longer have what we had when, for instance, the bush administration made a run at the north korea problem with some is success. although it fell through in the end, we made significant end roads with china and that is a key lever if we return to the table to try and solve this. we've thrown that all out. at time they had a whole cader of experts and now we're flying blind and with all of the experts in the north korea problem said time will tell what this kind of meeting means. there are valid reasons why we've avoided it in the past. you run the risk of getting played or legitimizing north korea as a nuclear power which is their fondest ambition and unless that is imbedded in a long-term strategy, which it doesn't appear to be, it could be really problematic. >> so when you talk about china, today president trump said china has never treated the united states with more respect. you write in your book about china and talk about china
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filling voids left by the united states in north korea and frankly around the world. former secretary of state john kerry told you in your book, in terms of big powerful countries setting an agenda, they're eating our lunch today and this president trump has invited it because he thinks our retreat is some kind of accomplishment. you write china is no global hero. is it growing into the most dominant world power? >> so i'm careful not to over-simplify this. china still has a long way to go to compete with our diplomatic and development foot prints. but the trend line is alarming and this is not just john kerry but sect of state of both start startys -- both parties commented on. the united states is undergoing a transformation in how it relates to the rest of the world. it is losing and ousting the experts and negotiators and peace makers and em powering the military to a vastly out of balance extent that we are in many conflicts a nation that
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shoots first and asks questions later. and all around the world in places where we are abandoned diplomatic leadership, sometimes in ways as just closing our embassy, china is hot on our heels. places like sudan, where for a long time china fit the stereo type that we have in american foreign policy about china, they were an interloper and didn't care about human rights and now they have an envoy doing shuttle diplomacy to try to broker a peace agreement. this is something we need to watch because we're surrendering a domain where we once had ownership and exerted influence. >> the book is called "war on peace", the author is pulitzer prize winner ronan farro. and the latest on bush's health, just one day after the funeral of her former wife the late barbara bush.
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our national lead, he's still in the hospital but george h.w. bush is awake and alert and saying that he's still plans on vacationing in maine this sumir. he took a turn just a day after the funeral of his wife of 73 years, former first lady barbara bush on saturday. he's still in intensive care battling a seriesus blood infection but his spokesperson that the former president is on the mend. i want to bring in ed outside of the hospital. and he's 93 and broken hearted. but before he went into the hospital, he released a statement saying that nobody should worry about him. >> reporter: this was a statement just days after barbara bush died last week and he was talking about how overwhelmed he was by the outpouring of love and support that he has received from americans across the country in the wake of his wife's death and remember it was just last friday where we saw him standing next to the casket there greeting
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mourners as they were coming by and he ended that statement by saying that the americans should cross the bushes off their worry list and then just a few days later we hear the news he's brought to the hospital in houston, texas. and according to a source close to the president, when he was brought in on sunday morning, that was a very serious situation. in fact, we're told there were a couple of times that it wasn't clear whether or not the president would survive this blood infection that turned into sepsis and concern as to whether or not he would make it through the day on a couple of occasions. but today we are hearing from a spokesperson for the president that he is beginning to respond more positively to the treatments that he's receiving here at the houston hospital and he's awake and alert and talking and even crazy as it might sound, talking about wanting to spend -- determined to get strong enough to make the trip to kennebunkport maine and those that followed the bush family,
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that is where they vacationed in the summertime, the family come pound is a treasured place for the bush family and george h.w. bush talking about wanting to get strong enough to make the trip up there this summer. >> thank you so much. we appreciate the good news. apparently a half dozen scandals aren't stopping one person in the white house from sticking by scott pruitt's side. who is it? that's next. hey allergy muddlers: are you one sneeze away from being voted out of the carpool? try zyrtec® zyrtec® starts working hard at hour one and works twice as hard when you take it again the next day. stick with zyrtec®. muddle no more®. and try children's zyrtec® for consistently powerful relief of your kid's allergies.
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breaking news now on embattled admiral ronny jackson. the president nominated for the secretary for the department of veterans affair, a watch dog report said his pick exhibited,
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quote, unprofessional behavior in a power struggle with a rival doctor. the 2012 navy medical inspector general report suggested removing both admiral jackson and the rival from the roles in the white house medical office. sources have told cnn there was literally no vetting of the admiral before nominated. today the president opened the door for him to step aside. though president trump said somewhat contradicting, he still supports him. now to a different trump official that made it through, white house officials are debating whether epa administrator scott pruitt should stay on the job. one source saying everyone but president trump wants pruitt gone. sara gannon joins me. even the staunchest conservatives on capitol hill from oklahoma even are starting to raise questions about pruitt's conduct ahead of the appearances this week before lawmakers. >> that is right, jake.
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as one republican put it today, it is weeks of drip, drip, drip of allegations against scott pruitt and the good will he's built up from his aggressive epa policies is starting to wayne as supporters get fed up with the constant bad headlines. republican support for epa administrator scott pruitt is eroding. following a string of allegations of ethical lapses, everything from first class flights to pricey security detail on personal trips to a sound proof phone booth and questionable staff pay raises. >> you can't just go around acting like a big shot -- >> reporter: even his mentor, senator jim inhoff is concerned. >> there are serious allegations against him i want to check out and i'm doing it. >> reporter: his saving grace for his supporters so far has been drastic roll backs of obama-era environment regulations, including this week telling a new york radio station that he plans to reorganize how
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science is used to create rules and regulations. >> a lot of science that we use to form the basis of rules actually are done by third parties. meaning folks outside of the agency. >> reporter: but ahead of back to back congressional hearings on thursday, where pruitt is sure to face tough questions, there seems to be waning support for pruitt from inside of the white house, too. >> we're continuing to review a number of the reports that you mentioned. >> reporter: but some of pruitt's senior advisers remain the same business partners from his questionable past in oklahoma. chief among them, a disgraced former banker named elliott kelly banned by the fdic from banking for life who pruitt put in charge of the task force reforming the epa's super fund clean-up program which is supposed to address the most toxic and harmful sites across the country. >> at spirit bank we're proud of our 95 years of service to our
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customers -- >> reporter: back in 2003, kelly was the owner of spirit bank in oklahoma. financing pruitt's multiple homes and part ownership of a minor league baseball team. at the time, pruitt was making just over $38,000 a year as a state lawmaker. but kelly approved him for a $2 million loan to buy a percentage of the team. baffling many. another senior epa adviser, ken wagner is one of scott pruitt's buddies from law school and they've been intertwined in business together for decades. wagner hired pruitt to work at his law firm in the early 2,000s and after pruitt became attorney general years later, the law firm state contracts increased six-fold to more than half a million dollars. but the close ties don't end there. wagner also worked closely with albert kelly, buying his own share of the baseball team and later representing spirit bank on development projects. wagner's law firm is even located in the spirit bank event
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center. in a statement the epa disputed any allegations of wrongdoing and said they are dedicated epa employees who have earned the respect and admiration of epa career employees across the country. and jake, remember earlier this month the questionable raises that pruitt had to rescind, well the two advisers who initially got a combined $84,000 through a loophole in the epa clean water act, pruitt actually also brought those two from -- with him from oklahoma from his time in politics, another example of folks bringing in from his questionable past. >> sara gannon, thank you. my panel is back with me. we have caitlyn collins, careen john pierre and jonah goldberg, from the national review and author of the new book suicide of the west. so we just got breaking news on this very subject, a white house official telling cnn that scott
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pruitt refused white house assistance to prepare for the upcoming hearings in the house which baffled white house aides. caitlyn collins, how do you explain this? why wouldn't they want white house help. >> i'm not baffled because president trump is a big at v k volk -- advocate of scott pruitt but that feeling is not echoed throughout the west wing and this week the response to the allegations against scott pruitt and the stories that continue to come out at an alarming rate, even the white house press secretary sara sanders and mark short speaking with reporters on the north lawn of the white house, they were very tepid in their defenses of scott pruitt saying they're waiting on the basis of these reports to come out and see what the reports say and then they'll make a decision from there. but they do not seem to be defending him as strongly as they were in the past. so it is not that surprising if scott pruitt is trying to hang in there. he doesn't seem to think the white house is on his side.
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>> jonah, one of the reasons president trump was elected he talked about draining the swamp and cleaning up washington and the conflict of interest and here we have stories about scott pruitt literally in a lobbyist's bed for $50 a night, the bed of somebody who lobbied him. i could go on. but where would you put him on the swamp scale going from from a salamander to the swamp thing? is this a big deal? does this fly in the face of the trump promise to drain the swamp, or is the liberal media and democrats make a big deal out of this. >> of course it is swampy. whether or not you need the full hip boots going up all of the way or the smaller boots, there is a lot of swampiness here. the problem is that in many ways scott pruitt is for a large chunk of the republican base the sort of trump microcosm or miniature in the sense he's get
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things done that republicans and conservatives have wanted to get done for a very long time and so they're willing to look the other way for the character short comings and all of the rest and if you talk to people on the -- republicans on the hill, they sound like jerry maguire and talking to cuba gooding jr. in the movie, help me help you. just stop making yourself into a spectacle. stay out of the headlines and do all of this other stuff and people will defend him. but he can't help himself and it creates a huge problem on the right because they just want him out of the headlines. >> and we know that trump hates bad headlines about aides. we see him reacting that to ronny jackson and react that way to tom price, the former hhs secretary and coy go through the list of the people that left the administration but it is only a one hour show. corrine, how do you see this playing out? pruitt is getting bad headlines for weeks and weeks and yet president trump is standing by his man. >> because he likes scott pruitt
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and he loves loyalty and pruitt is doing the bad stuff in the epa but the other thing donald trump said he only hires the best people and thus from from his administration in his cabinet secretaries are the most corrupt and the most unqualified group of people we've seen in our nation's history. and the other thing, and i think in any other administration whether it is democratic or republican, he would have been fired already. he would have been fired by now. pruitt would have never lasted this long. we have to remember, pruitt is the person who lied during his hearing about private e-mail account. >> take a listen to senator john kenny, republican of louisiana talking about pruitt. >> some of his behavior has hurt the president of the united states. and it's hurt the president's credibility and the credibility of all of us. and it would be way cooler if he would behave. and ethics matter and
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impropriety matters and the appearance of impropriety matters. >> that is jonah goldberg -- that is the help me help you. john kennedy saying, please cut it out. >> it is so easy to lump this in with the other actions of the president's cabinet. we've seen several other people do things like this, spend tax money like it is growing on trees and you can't let it go because it is such a widespread problem. it is widespread that almost a joke that so many people in the president's cabinet have problems, have their own scandal, whether it is money or what not. but that doesn't mean it is acceptable. and it doesn't mean that we should let this go and that the president should keep this person in his cabinet just because he thinks they're loyal. if their misusing taxpayer money and trying to ride through washington, d.c. with sirens on their car, you can't let that slide because the president feels like he has loyalty to one person or feels like they are doing what he wants at the epa. he could have someone else in line at the epa to take that job. and the president sees the
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headlines and knows that scott pruitt is hanging by a thread and keep him there to prove the media wrong and that is a part of. it i think he likes scott pruitt and he could hang around for longer but if the scandals continue, i don't see how he remains around the white house. >> jonah quickly, if you could, you write about tribalism in your book and the tribal -- this tribalism that you write about seems to be one of the reasons scott pruitt still has a job today because in any other administration it is impossible to imagine him surviving. he has two hearings later this week. can he survive? >> i don't know. i think long-term it is like he's swallowed -- [ inaudible ] he's going to keel over at some point. but right now he's a useful foil for donald trump because he is -- he can be the bad guy. co be the guy that donald trump looks kind of good by comparison to and takes a lot -- takes the attention away and i think donald trump likes that kind of thing and it is a very tribal administration. >> thanks one and all for being here. a special thanks to jonah
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in our pop culture lead, if there are not enough crazy stories out, i have a book out today, a novel, called the "hell fire club" taking place in the thick of the cold war era and the heroes are a young world war ii veteran and the book has sex and corruption and secret societies and like the billy joel song but slightly longer
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and more chilling and perhaps even with a lesson for this stranger than fiction world we're living through. once again it is called the hell fire club and available at amazon and i apologize for the presumptuous of this pitch but i would be honored if you check it out. follow me at jake tapper. i turn you over to wolf blitzer and the situation room. thanks for watching. happening now. breaking news. in trouble -- president trump's pick to lead veterans' affairs faces allegations of creating a toxic work environment, excessive drinking on the job and overprescribing drugs. his confirmation hearing postponed and president trump said, quote, if i were him, i wouldn't do it. how damaged is his nomination? new deal. president trump called the iran nuclear deal terrible, suggesting he's considering walking away from it. he also said he wants a new deal but threatens iran saying it will pay