tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC July 21, 2017 9:00am-10:00am PDT
edition of andrea mitchell reports, live from the aspen security form, red lines, the president trying to stop the mueller investigation cold from following the trump money trail. escalating a white house campaign to discredit the special counsel. >> this is just a witch-hunt. it's a hoax. and now they're going in all types of different directions. i think the information that you just shared is relevant information for america to have. people should know what political motivations are. pardon me. reports today that president trump is looking into his power to pardon himself, his family and his staff. even before the russia investigation is complete. trump's lawyer calling the reports nonsense. but could it happen? >> the pardon power is broad. it cannot undo impeachment. in the game of constitutional poker, pardon beats indictment but impeachment beats a pardon.
russia's foreign minister tells kier simmons when presidents trump and putin met at the g-20 the president accepted putin's denial of russian election meddlinmeddlin >> president putin confirmed we never did anything to entinterf in the american elections. and good day, everyone, i'm andrea mitchell in colorado at the aspen security conference. today's headlines are all about president trump's fixation with special counsel robert mueller's investigation into russia. and the president's reported requests that his legal team look into whether he could proactively pardon himself, his family, and his close allies. nbc white house correspondent kristen welker joins me now.
there is breaking news, glenn thrush, "the new york times," reporting and this has not been confirmed by nbc, but there -- is this major report in the "new york times" that sean spicer who has been clearly not happy about the advent of a new communications director, would be his immediate boss, that perhaps sean spicer is resigning. let's discuss what we know about the new communications director, which could be the precipter during this troubled tenure of the white house press secretary. >> reporter: we know that our reporters have gone up to try to get an answer. i've reached out to all of my sources. so far, no response from the white house about whether or not press secretary sean spicer has in fact resigned. what we know is that anthony scaramucci who is a hedge fund manager we believe is being tapped for communications director. i'm told in my ear that our ali
batali has confirmed that sean spicer has resigned after learning that anthony scaramucci has been named. sean spicer was doing two jobs. he was doing the job of communications director as well as press secretary. both of those jobs are 24/7 commitments. so there is no doubt that he had taken on a lot. having said that, the decision to resign in the wake of this announcement, we know that the president met with anthony scaramucci today at the white house and that's when the official offer was made. we know there was a lot of pushback within the white house from reince priebus who is the chief of staff. reince priebus, sean spicer are very closely aligned. i was working my sources throughout the night who say there was a lot of concern about anthony scaramucci. he's not someone who has a lot of experience in communications. there was a concern this was the wrong direction for the president to be going in.
having said that, he's very successful. someone who, again, is a hedge fund wall street guy. and so, obviously, someone who has the respect of this president, and obviously, played a key role during the transition as well. he was one of the advisors during the transition. this is a big shake up coming out of the white house on this friday afternoon. >> this is the kind of summer fridays where these kinds of things happen. sean spicer, obviously, has faced the humiliation of the snl parodies with melissa mccarthy. he had tangles with the press corp where they got in dispute by the size of the crowds. that was driven with the president's preoccupation to put it kindly with the size of his inaugural crowd compared to president obama's inauguration crowd. there have been contentious moments, someone who had a very good reputation as the press spokesman for the rnc until he
came to the white house and had to take the orders from this very unconventional president. >> reporter: he's had some misstepped. he referred to when he was talking about the holocaust concentration centers, comment he had to apologize for and he did so. robustly. he had to walk that statement back. that was really, i think the beginning of some intense scrutiny by this president. based on my reporting, president trump has frequently reached out to advisors within his administration to ask how they think sean spicer is doing. what they think of his performance. we really had this quite stunning shift within the white house, which is that most of the briefings have been off camera. the last time we had an on camera briefing was the end of june. part of the thinking is because the briefings were getting so much scrutiny and criticism. the ratings were quite high, andrea, but on the other hand, there was a concern that the
messaging wasn't exactly helping the president and there was also concern the president wasn't on the same page every day as his communications team. the president himself tweeting about this a few months ago, saying, look, my communications team can't know everything that's in my mind at all moments. so sean spicer was the first press secretary and heralded a time of intense scrutiny, controversy for this president. he has been under a microscope for quite some time. this is a stunning development. because we have been saying for a number of weeks, is this the day that sean spicer might go. and it seems as though based on our reporting today, is the day he decided to resign in the wake of this announcement, that anthony scaramucci was coming on board. >> the other point is that he has been so close to reince priebus, it was a team.
priebus and spicer always at the rnc. one has to wonder how reince priebus could stay as chief of staff with the exit of the press secretary whom he brought into the white house. >> that has to become the next question. what will reince priebus do. we know he pushed back very vigorously against this decision to appoint anthony scaramucci as communications director. he didn't think this was the right direction for the white house. he didn't think he had experience. there were other people who were concerned about this within the white house. he's being supported by jared and ivanka. you have that divide presenting itself yet again. this is a white house that is no stranger to sharp divides. remember, also, andrea, reince priebus has been really one of the main point people to oversee healthcare reform at the white house. and so in the wake of what we have seen with healthcare reform, it has stumbled, it has fallen.
by all accounts it was dead earlier this week. there was an attempt to revive it when the president and, frankly, reince priebus decided to call the gop senators to the president. you have to get this done. this is what we campaigned on. it's what you all campaigned on for the past seven years. but the background to that, andrea, was the sense that reince priebus' standing could be hanging in the balance if healthcare couldn't get done. i think there's a lot at stake and this certainly complicates the equation for reince priebus. no word, though, on what specifically this might mean for him. >> let's just also talk about anthony scaramucci, he doesn't have the background of any public service or political engagement. i guess this is what the president wants now. but how does he fit into the mix? >> reporter: i think the president sees anthony scaramucci as someone who is a great messenger, a great communicator.
someone who is good at selling his message. he's a wall street guy. he's a hedge fund guy. this is someone who knows how to get deals done in the eyes of the president. he's an outsider, like the president himself when it comes to the white house and washington. i think the president sees this as someone who is going to help to right the ship of the white house, particularly as it deals with all of those controversies in the background, the russia investigation, the special counsel that continues to deepen. he sees this as a reset, but, again, i go back to this word of division within the white house. where he doesn't have his team entirely on board with this decision. and so he is poised to be a lightning rod from day one. now we know that the president has shaken up his legal team to some extent. the spokes person for mark kasowitz resigned.
taking a back seat role. ty cobb is joining as well. ty cobb is going to be a sign to really try to get the messaging in a more tight, more disciplined way. and so it will be interesting to see how he deals with anthony scaramucci and if the two can get on the same page in terms of the messaging we're seeing out of the white house. ty cobb doesn't come on until the end of the month. it will be interesting to see if we see a major see change once he gets on board. >> i think the fact that "the new york times" did an interview with the president, an extensive, very controversial interview with the president without anyone there except hope hicks from the communications team, without any lawyers present, without reince priebus rent. it shows that president is his own communications team. and communications director.
and i don't know how any outside attorney is going to change any of that. by the way, glenn thrush who broke the story from "the new york times" as tweeted press sec has resigned. per senior administration official. thank you, our colleague chris j jansing on the white house lawn. what are they saying there at the white house with all of this breaking news on a friday in july? >> reporter: i have to tell you, andrea, there was a sense that something big was going on. there was a report one of the white house correspondents here had a door slammed in his face. our own ali vitale ran into a couple key players. she came back to our booth here and said something was very strange. there had been a sense that this was going to cause trouble, obviously. there is not known to be a lot
of love lost between sean spicer and anthony scaramucci. he is somebody, sean spicer, who believes he had the experience of the job for all that he took. whether it was the jokes on "saturday night live" or the criticism for some of the things he said, for the decisions they have made to close off many of these briefings. not having them on camera anymore. he is somebody who has vehemently defended and he believes has gone out, obviously, and done everything he can to put forward the president's agenda. what i think -- in the end this morning, as we were talking to people, the feeling was that clearly, you could see, andrea, the escalation in that interview with "the new york times" of how the president was feeling about the way things were going. he clearly not very happy. you could see it in the way the changes were made in his team. his legal team.
he is very concerned. you can sense the growing concern about the russia investigation. so someone, something clearly looked like it was going to change beyond just the fact that he shook up his legal team. the communications position, obviously, had been open for long time. but i can tell you that the tension within that building throughout the hours this morning, all the moving pieces, the meeting that we know happened that included many of these key players, including steve bannon and scaramucci coming out of that and this all unfolding very quickly. this is something that had clearly been building i think within the president and his frustration with the way the message was getting out there and him not getting the kind of action that he was hoping on this russia investigation. >> thank you so much chris jansing. and kristen welker. we'll be continuing to follow
this all day. meanwhile on the subject of national security, tom bossert is president trump's top white house official on homeland security and counterterrorism. he joins me live here in aspen. i know you did not know about the spicer resignation, i don't know how this affects anything that you do. because this has just been happening while we're sitting here. >> i'm learning it with you and watching it on your program. sean is a valued member of the team and i'll miss him. i'm certain it will be a good replacement. for me, i don't like to be in the news as a white house staffer. i think the president likes to be there and that's the right thing for him and to have his cabinet there as the right focus. as soon as white house staff problems get out of the news and substance gets into it i'm a happy guy. >> that's what you've been working on. that's your career, which is to protect the homeland, to worry about cyber threats, to worry about counterterrorism. let's talk about hacking and how to protect america from hacking of all sorts. obviously, the russia hacking, which it came up in moscow today
with my colleague, kier simmons interviewing sergei lavrov that putin has the impression that president trump accepted the fact that russia was not behind the meddling. whatever happened between those two men -- i know you were not there -- let's talk about the hacking, how to protect the election system here in the u.s. and what the real cyber threats are. >> yeah, i'm sorry kier is in a long line of people who have received the lavrov tweereatmenr russian treatment in general. they've denied reality in the past. i have every confidence in talking to president trump that he hit putin hard in what is and isn't acceptable. hacking any u.s. entity is not acceptable. what we've seen is the dnc and rnc hack. it's my job to make sure that hackers from russia to china from north korea to ohio are
facing a higher cost. so the topic of my conversation here today in aspen has been with experts. otherwise, it's free for them and quite devastating for us. >> how do you do that? >> we have to increase defenses because that's a socost to the offensive minded hacker. we have to figure out ways with like minded countries to impose costs on them where it hurts and make them think twice about doing things we consider collectively unacceptable. just like in law enforcement every day. >> the state department today has announced a new ban on travel to north korea in the aftermath of the horrible outcome with otto warmbier. how do you stop people from going? you're now making it illegal. many of them have been well-intentioned, if poorly informed. there's always been a warning. missionaries, students, and adventurers. >> i think we have an incumbent
responsibility to continue to tell people this is a bad idea and the consequences are real and you're not immortal. you're going to be treated poorly and you might be in harm's way. there's no reason to be there at this point. no reason. ft you' follow the warning, heed the law and don't do it. >> by banning it and making it illegal we're putting some teeth into it. >> if somebody gets through this process, they're putting their own lives at risk. it's something they should think twice about and their family members should think twice. there is some free will, if people want to go there, i think they're making a bad choice. >> i want to ask you about austin tice. the president is completely dedicated to getting people out of captivity from day one. he's talked about this. there are reports that austin tice's parents are in beirut. is there some possibility we might be, perhaps, through russian intervention, ironically, getting him back from syria? or wherever he's being held.
>> he's on my mind every day on nigh jo my job. austin's birthday just passed. he's be 36. five years he's been gone. president trump wants to take action in getting hostages back. he's not shied from that. i hope we continue to do that. yo i don't care if we have to work with the russians. to get austin out we're going to do it. i would urge some calm here. and i'd hope that mark and debra remain safe. >> there was a report from the state department that there were fewer terror attacks in the past year. does that mean you sleep better at night? >> no. actually, let me be clear. we have no credible actionable intelligence that there's an imminent or plotted attack on the u.s. homeland. that's something i should state outright. that said, i look at the territories since i've been back in government from eight years ago and look at it from the last two or three years and we have a continuing problem that's growing and spreading around the world. it's not something that we
should promote as alarmist but something we should look at as a troubling trend. it's going in the wrong direction. >> what do you worry about most when you look at three attacks in the uk in the last couple of months. >> i worry while we and president trump and his team are taking out isis, diminishing them by half and then again, taking their physical control of space. i worry they're going to move on to the virtual space and continue to inspire people in great britain or france or ohio or pennsylvania where i'm from, and they're going to inspire them to do something that is in fully keeping with their own views, but they're misguided in believing it will result in a positive outcome. i'm worried about things that's hard for us to stop and interdict in a centralized way. i worry about the loss of american lives. >> tom bossert, thank you so much. >> thank you. we go back to kristen welker for more information on the resignation in protest by sean spicer. >> reporter: i just spoke with a
person who is very familiar with sean spicer's thinking. who shed a little bit more light on this decision today. and the sense was sean spicer, who had been again, running the communications department, also serving as press secretary, sean spicer i'm told felt as though the communications team was really moving the messaging in the right direction. when it came to things like tax reform, infrastructure, the president's public policy. everything with the exception of russia, andrea, the commissions team felt as though they were really starting to get on track with a strong message, with a good message. and that they were moving forward in an effective way. the thinking was with anthony scaramucci and i'm told it's not personal but he's not the right person for this job. this source who i spoke with used a football analogy saying he's not the right person to block and tackle moving forward. as they approach these big
legislative battles. sean spicer felt as though he could not continue, could not move forward if the messaging wasn't going to move in the direction he felt was effective for this president. that's what he signed on for, to help this president, to carry out his agenda. and so sean spicer felt as though this was a move in the wrong direction. you and i were talking about what this means for reince priebus, he's the chief of staff, he was vocal in his opposition to the decision to hire anthony scaramucci as the communications director. i'm told effectively that reince priebus feels as though he's lost his biggest ally. his source telling me it can't be a good day for reince priebus. this is a big shake up. >> thanks again for all of your reporting. joining me by phone is michael steele former republican national committee chair. michael, this is a very big deal for sean spicer, the white house
spokesman to be resigning in protest over the hiring of anthony scaramucci. >> yeah, it is a big deal. and there are two things here to make note of. one is that sean felt that he had reached the point where he was up against the wall in terms of managing and running communications operations on a day-to-day basis to put out a consistent message. i was laughing to myself listening to some of the surprise from folks oh, shaean resigned. it's been clear for a while that sean and the white house were on two different pages when it came to communication. you see with the president a decision he's made he's now going to -- wants to do what he wants done on communication. he has been effectively working as his own communications
directs director. he now has someone in anthony scaramucci who he feels will best articulate him, meaning the president, out to the public. that's something certainly reince and sean spicer could not tolerate. it's inconsistent with how they see communications operations. it is consistent with how the president sees communications operations. at the end of the day, that's all that matters. >> and his tenure at the white house will be very short in comparison to past press secretaries. >> it will be. it's unfortunate. he's such a great job. he did a great job at his years at the rnc. he's a consummate professional. he's a party loyalist. that's not a negative. no one should ever take loyalty to the party as a negative. this white house is not cut out
of that cloth. it never has been. i was always curious as to how you could blend these materials together, if you will, the fabric of the rnc and the establishment of the party with this outsider brash, sort of in your face style and administration of donald trump. and i think for sean, that, you know, clearly professionally -- because his concern is putting the best foot forward and the best message forward for the white house became a big frustration. his sort of slow movement off the center stage over the last few weeks was a tell-tale sign that at least he was thinking about making a change. i think the president's move with scaramucci sealed the deal. >> one other thing that comes to mind is jerry tohurst. he resigned from the gerald r.
ford white house after 30 some days. that was in protest. this was similar. it was in protest for the pardoning of richard nixon. there was a tragedy of jim brady 69 days after he was shot and grievously wounded when he was press secretary to ronald reagan. during the assassination attempt on reagan. other short tenures were not at the beginning of administrations, they were simply press secretaries who came in at the tail end of administrations to fill out lame duck presidencies. michael steele, thank you so much for joining us today. and ned price joins me now. ned price worked not only for the cia and at the nsc, but he was a spokesman for the national security counscil in the obama white house. you know the pressure of dealing with breaking news at the white house. usually in your field it was on
foreign policy terms. but seeing a press secretary quit in protest this early in a new administration is pretty dramatic. >> well, it's remarkable. but let's put it in context. this was a press secretary who literally from day one was asked by the president to lie. to offer misrepresentations repeatedly. to intimidate. to close down press access. and it was a personnel appointment that was the last straw. you know, this is a press secretary who has put up with a lot. it seems like had this been a principled resignation, probably should have been the last straw and today was -- seems to have been a culmination of that. >> chris jansing at the white house, there are other shoes to fall, and we've already mentioned reince priebus who is the mentor of sean spicer. but there are other people at lower levels that worked for sean in the communications shop who now have to be very concerned.
>> reporter: yeah, and as you know, from working at the white house and the way these things work, because of the hours they work, because of the pressure they're under. i would argue that the pressure has been extraordinary within this press shop more than in typical times. what you might have in your most crisis moment, just seems to know one after another after another. what this often does in these shops is either it puts people into camps or brings them together. and that goes from the top to the bottom. there are people who are in the press shop who are very, very, very loyal to both reince priebus and to sean spicer. some of those people have spent the last six months getting up to speed. a lot of what they do is logistical. for example, the president has a couple of domestic trips that are coming up. and they know how to handle it now. they were learning as every new office does about how the secret
service works, how the travel works. yes, i think there are those other things you have to look at. because day-to-day, the way these offices run, a lot of it is done by people you never see on camera. they're the people who are dealing directly on almost a minute by minute basis with those of us in the press. i think it's worth pointing out, too, what you're seeing now, that press briefing room. there is a door you often see where sean spicer, whoever was briefing when they were doing it on a regular basis would come out. behind that is what we call lower press. that's where some of the staffers work. you go up a series of stairs, a ramp, there is secret service posted there and then you're on the level where what is known as upper press. and that is where sean spicer's office is. so we had a group of people, a group of reporters, who were up in upper press. one of our producers ran into, was in upper press, happened to be in upper press about 45
minutes ago and ran into scaramucci and reince. and asked if they were making it official. and scaramucci shrugged. reince was asked the same and said we'll see. within 15 minutes we got this report that sean spicer was, indeed, out. they were asked to leave upper press on a couple occasions. i just came from inside the white house, and as you can imagine there is quite a crush of people who are there. people who are waiting to see, frankly, was there going to be a briefing today. and it was coming later and later and later. usually at some point in the early to midmorning, we find out about the briefing. and just as we were talking about it in the nbc booth have we gotten a report yet on when the briefing is going to be. this news broke. so a lot of intensity inside that room right now waiting to see exactly what's going to happen next. will there be some sort of official statement. will somebody come out and speak. >> stephanie ruhle who knows
anthony scaramucci joins us from new york. what do we know about scaramucci and his qualifications for the job? >> he is a slick, slick salesman. this is a wall street veteran. but i want to jump ahead fraror moment. this is a real divide in the white house. they have been foes for quite some time. anthony scaramucci sold his company with the hopes of taking a white house position. i confirmed with someone inside the white house this morning, steve bannon -- remember this press office has basically been run by the reince priebus side of the world. he said over my dead body will you get this job. i'm sure there are no ambulances outside the white house with any dead bodies. anthony scaramucci will be joining this administration.
people say read president trump's book art of the deal. anthony scaramucci's book is about fake it till you make it. it's exactly what we get from president trump. and that's sort of the same tone that you're going to get from anthony scaramucci a very successful business guy. >> a source outside of the white house confirms the same thing, somebody who is close to bannon and anthony scaramucci. this came together in just the last few days, really. and nobody was told about it. it was kept in a tight hold within the white house. anthony scaramucci goes back year with not only donald trump but the trump family. he knows ivanka trump very well, he knows the kids very well. he knows trump world very well. he's a trusted person within that world. donald trump was happy, i'm told with the way he's been able to defend him on tv. remember, trump also really likes people who can come off well on television. he's an avid viewer of fox news.
anthony scaramucci worked for that network for quite a while. reince priebus was kept out of the loop on this. sc steve bannon was kept out of the loop on this. the two of them were pushing to stop this from happening as late -- as early as this morning. apparently are still trying to stop this from happening. anthony ska antho anthony scaramucci was called by the president this morning. this was after their meeting at the oval office yesterday where he offered the communications director job to him and he accepted. the subsequent phone calls were donald trump saying i'm getting push back but hang in there. they had another meeting at 10:00 a.m. where the job was reoffered. he accepted it one more time. i'm also told that sean spicer was telling folks last night that he was not going to work with anthony scaramucci. he would resign if this went
down. folks kind of thought that was an empty threat at the time. they urged him to work with anthony scaramucci. he said, listen he doesn't know the demands of the job. he has no idea what this is. he doesn't have the qualifications for this. it's interesting, though, that this is sean spicer's red line. >> it could also be michael steele was making the point a moment ago. sean spicer, a good guy. he's been part of the rnc for quite some time. that's not anthony scaramucci. >> there's never been a trust between the rnc and the trump administration. >> he was a contributor for years and years on cnbc. he really built his business through media and communications. i mean, in davos, the world economic forum, he became a central figure there. the conference that takes place out in vegas. he brings in the stars of
staffestars. he had joe biden out there in the spring as part of the event. he's a true slick, slick salesman. those jokes that snl melissa mckarkty saturday light live skits on the clumsiness of sean spicer. if there's one thing anthony scaramucci ain't, he ain't clumsy. >> what happens to reince priebus? >> they can't work together. >> i want to bring in nicole wallace who knows the white house so well as a former communications director. the skill sets here does not involve any knowledge of congress, of how to negotiate for a healthcare tax reform or anything else on the president's legislative agenda. >> hi, these are not all the president's men these are all of sean hannity's men. jay sekulok and scaramucci are close friends. i understand they're the kinds of face and fighters that donald
trump wanted to infuse the image of his white house. i think everybody here knows that donald trump is not a man steeped in the machinations of policy making or the ups and downs of a presidency. he knows scant presidential or frankly, world history that's laid bare in the "new york times" report about his almost child-like references to napoleon and how he ultimately perished. this is about the president hiring better front men. the president continuing to be obsessed with how he's perceived on cable news. there's another cable news figure who is part of this story that under any other president would be a really big deal, a really important post. this is about someone who took some skin out of one of donald trump's archenemies and that's the cable news network cnn that he, obviously, tweets about and watches and talks about incessantly. so i wish this were a story about a really important job
inside the white house, a post that speaks for the country and president around the world. this is about donald trump wanting better looking men spreading his message. >> and how -- i'm wondering how this fills in the gaps, though? it seems as though he is a mini me for donald trump. he's got all the strengths of donald trump. the media savvy. the pizazz. the, you know, showmanship. but how does it fill in for what donald trump clearly does not know about legislation and getting an agenda through and how the government works? >> i don't think it fills in. again, that's not what the president was looking for. i had a feeling watching the way "the new york times" interview broke and the fact that when it broke there was no white house stenographer in the room. the press operation had really become unplugged. if not for the president, then from the entire rest of the senior staff.
so i don't think the president views the communications and press operation the way you just described it as one of the important pieces that supports the legislative agenda. i think the president views the press operation, the communications director and the press secretary as people who fight his fights. in the very same way we now know thanks to "the new york times" interview he viewed the attorney general as someone who would protect him from incoming fire. he has laid bare that he has no understanding of the basic functions of the white house staff. and you also -- you can't take any of these things in isolation. i don't think that it's any surprise that sean spicer who is the rapidly disappearing press secretary, who was taken off of briefing duty, was taken off of communications responsibilities or duties that donald trump didn't see the value in either of those functions. so the fact that he didn't see that they were supposed to be
people that supported the rest of the apparatus is just another sign he doesn't understand how the white house is supposed to run. and it should make people very nervous about, you know, so far we've only covered donald trump in the process of inflicting himself with political harm. there is now clearly, not a functioning white house staff. >> and katy tur, republican reaction. this is a week where kasowits has taken a big step back. we don't know what the future is for reince priebus. it's a major shake up for a white house. >> this is tumultuous. this is the way donald trump has lived for the past two and a half years. this constant tumult. the news stories break all of a sudden. they're a slow build and then they break suddenly and
everything happens all at once. listen, i've been talking to somebody, a gop strategist, a former swing state director who is telling me -- it was suspicious of this whole thing of the campaign, republican swing state director, and she was saying, listen, this is a big problem for the white house. a big problem for the gop, though, more. a big problem for republicans. ultimately, the people in the white house who were safeguarding the republican agenda and the republican brand or trying to at least, are sean spicer and reince priebus. and those are the ones that are trying to remain loyal to the presidency, to what republicans want to do with the presidency. and to getting things done. they're not trumpeists. now they say it's time for the republicans in congress to distance themselves from donald trump.
to stop this from going any further. and it's interesting that sean spicer resigning and anthony scaramucci coming in could be the red line. and potentially reince priebus leaving could be the red line where suddenly republicans on capitol hill say, hey, listen who is protecting us any longer? and how are we going to get what we want to get done. and who is in the white house that we can call? >> according to somebody in the white house i just spoke to. reince priebus is paul ryan's guy. my source is saying reince has gone to great lengths to keep scara scaramucci out there. he has been willing to skillfully skin the most difficult topics on behalf of the president. and you said it earlier, he looks the part. he acts the part. even sort of the gary kohn of
the world that have the goldman sachs pedigree. becoming part of national security, much of what she does is classified. you don't hear from her. gary cohen stays very careful within his lane. you don't see him putting himself out there to defend trump when he goes over the line. anthony scaramucci has already been willing to. he has compared jared kushner to a modern day alexander hamilton. >> trump has abandoned any reasonable approach to the presidency. he's doing rogue interviews with "the new york times." he throws his own appointees and congressional majorities under the bus. sean was the most active public defender, most lawyer person in the press shop and was replaced by a guy unqualified for the job. trump listens only to himself and protects only himself. gop needs to protect itself. focus on agenda. and winning in 2018. president needs them more than
they need him. >> it depends on the definition of qualified. >> yeah, it depends on that definition. i think what i would keep an eye on going forward now is what happens with the white house lawyers. was kasowitz the last straw with what happens to the legal team. >> and hallie jackson is joining us on the phone, our chief white house correspondent. the players keep changing day by day. and your beat, and here we go with a whole new team as communications director. and then presumably there will be a new press secretary. >> yeah, and i'm tip toeing my way out of a throng of people. you have been showing a live shot, i'm going to step away and talk to you. i don't know what you guys have discussed there on set. let me just tell you a little bit about what's happening behind closed doors here at the white house and what we're seeing here. and that is, in the next a little bit. we're not sure when, we expect to see a briefing. we're not sure yet if it will be
on or off camera. we expect some kind of a statement topic. presumably it's going to be about shaean spicer departing. we know reince priebus, i think you have been talking about that. i have a couple folks close to the administration saying he has taken it to the highest levels with objections including to potentially the vice president's office about this to no avail. anthony scaramucci is coming in. this has been long rumored that this shake up may have in fact happened. it clearly came to a head over the last 18 hours in a remarkable way. given that for six months and one day sean spicer has stood at the podium. sometimes on camera, sometimes off camera. sometimes he's stood else where and defended the president. defended the president's comments on the russia investigation. it's this, anthony scaram kruuc coming in that seems to have
been the last straw. i'm hearing noise here. i'm checking in on that. at this point, we do expect, obviously, scaramucci to take on a bigger role. i've heard in the last 45 minutes or so people praising scaramucci for being a fighter. so that is in the words of some sources on them, guys i'm going to toss it back to you for a second. i see movement behind the door. i want to check on what's going on and i'll hop back on the phone as soon as i possibly can. >> hallie jackson, right in the middle of the throng. we can see the cameramen are all ready for whoever walks through that door. chris jansing, what are you picking up? >> i just heard from a republican who has frankly in conversations previously not been a big fan of the communications team and felt that the president needed to do something about it. but this speaks to, i think, the impact that blockbuster "new
york times" interview and the president giving it, sort of off the cuff with virtually only one white house staffer there, has had shaking up a lot of republicans here in washington. he writes to me, my fear, especially after that "new york times" interview, is that it doesn't change the equation. speaking, obviously, about sean spicer being gone and scaramucci coming in as communications director. it's hard to see how scaramucci so loyal and experienced on camera won't be undermined or contradicted by the president as he has to so many loyalists. there are some typos in here. i.e. sessions. i think one of the things here is that there has been so much concern about the interview in the "new york times" and how many different levels of inquiry it has opened up for the president. this has to be a shop that can deal with something like this. that can answer tough question
and be on the same page as the president. again, this is just one snap shot from one person. but, again, somebody who has been critical at least to me, of the communication shop. questioning in light of what we've seen over the last couple of days whether or not this will make any difference for how this white house is able to function. or communicate going forward. >> thank you for that. nicole wallace, before we lose you, i wanted to check back in with you. you know how white houses work. and as long as the president is going to call his own shots and bring "the new york times" in for an open ended meeting without a transcript from the press shop, what's going to change, if anything? >> well, i don't think anything is going to change. i think the president -- i think that's a mistake we keep making. we've been making it for two years. it isn't coming. it isn't going to happen. he's now openly talking about asking questions and trying to become better informed about the
pardon process. something that presidents don't even consider or contemplate until the end of a presidency. he's six months in yesterday. and trying to understand the pardon process. he's talking about character assassination of his own special counsel bob mueller hired by his deputy attorney general. he smeared his sitting a.g. who recused himself. i think the notion we're talking about when he's going to wake up and act more normal is our own delusion. i mean, this is who he is. there is nothing about the presidency so far that has changed him. i would just look at some of the dots we have, and i think the coming months we'll see if they connect themselves. there is some reporting in the ap that h.r. mcmaster has been expressing concerns to ally and others about the president's impulses and instincts and statements on russia.
there are comments about people inside the west wing. jeff sessions' two closest advisors work on the white house staff. they work for the president. steven miller, who is the -- not the father, then the big brother of the muslim ban, works on the president's staff. he had worked for jeff sessions before he did so. how does he feel today? is he going to stand up for his old boss jeff sessions or is he on the trump train? the idea this is sustainable is the thing we have the most, right. it's not. but the idea he's going to change is equally foolish. >> and nicole, before i let you go, there are reports now that reince priebus has told reporters he supports scaramucci 100%. he's made his choice to stay despite reports he was against the switch. he's not standing by sean spicer whom he brought into the white house. so reince priebus is trying to
hang on to his job as chief of staff. thank you so very much. we've got the first political reaction from capitol hill here. and it's here with me, and it's bipartisan. mike mccaul and adam schiff the top democrat on house intelligence who have been wrestling with a lot of big issues and are now facing a white house in, shall we call it, transition. mike mccaul, first of all, in the context of sean spicer's resignation, scaramucci coming in the president talking about proactive pardons and discrediting, trying to discredit robert mueller. how do republicans and the house caucus feel about this? >> it's great to be here in aspen and not in washington right now. it seems like every day we're getting a story like this coming out of the white house. i think this communications team has been in disarray for quite
some time. we need more discipline in the white house when it comes to messaging. it's all over the map. it's difficult for us as house republicans to advance our agenda of health care, tax reform, national security issues, when we're constantly talking about the drama, intrigue, palace intrigue, inside the white house. >> what about the fact that the president goes after robert mueller? is it helpful for him to be criticizing his attorney general, attacking robert mueller, saying it's not correct to be looking into his own finances or any russia connections there? is this the way to deal with this very important investigation? >> well, it looks -- sort of looks paranoid to me. and the fact is, i know bob mueller for a long time. i worked in the justice department. he is a man of integrity, very highly respected in washington. when he was picked, very
bipartisan support for this man. we need to let him do his job. wherever that may lead. when i was a federal prosecutor, as adam was, if you are investigating a matter and you find something else that is potentially illegal, you can't turn a blind eye to that. you have to look at that information, as well. and i think he needs to get to the bottom of all of this for the american people, so that we can finally move on. >> adam schiff, how would congress react, democrats and republicans, if the president were to start pardoning mike flynn, perhaps his own family, himself, before any -- any suggestion of indictments? >> well, this whole idea that president is having pardons is disappointing. i don't think the president has the power to pardon himself. >> he does -- well, you're the prosecutor, the lawyer, i'm not. but our lawyers who have looked into this say he can't pardon in cases of impeachment.
>> he certainly can pardon himself to avoid impeachment. i don't think the president can pardon himself even from prosecution. i know there is a debate about that. that's my reading of it. it would in effect nullify other parts of the constitution, if you interpret it in a way that would allow him to pardon himself. the bigger fear, though, is that he pardons other people as a way of discouraging their cooperation with bob mueller or with congress. and that is really a worry. the more profound concern, frankly, and i think it's implicated in this latest shakeup and crisis, and that is the president doesn't have people around him to, you know, talk sense to him about our system of checks and balances. he's got some very good people in the national security realm and people like mcmaster and t mattis. but in terms of the justice department, he obviously doesn't trust the attorney general. there is no one really that has the kind of standing with him to
say you shouldn't be thinking about pardons, you shouldn't be commenting about the special counsel. you should let the russia investigation take its course. this is what you should do as president of the united states. it's not about what's fair to you. it's about what's right for the country. but there's no one of stature to tell him that. and there's no clear indication that he would even listen if there was. they can reshuffle the staff a million times in the white house, but the most fundamental problem is that if the president doesn't show his own people respect, if he doesn't have any loyalty to his own people, if he doesn't pick good and right people who will speak candidly with him and not simply, you know, give that show we saw around the cabinet table, that awful, you know, parade of object seek wesness, then we're going to continue to have these kind of crises. >> i want to bring back hallie jackson in the briefing room, and peter baker, one of the reporters in the oval office with the president.
hallie, i know there will be a briefing on camera with sarah sanders, at 2:00. >> reporter: that's exactly right, andrea. sara huckabee sanders will be at this podium about an hour and six minutes from now, talking about obviously what we have all been talking about, which is her boss basically leaving. we have not spotted sean spicer, at least not recently. as you have seen, the crowd of people who is standing here, what we call the lower press area, has started to dissipate after the news of this briefing. people getting ready to start taking their seats and carry it live, as i'm sure you might imagine, it is going to be very big news. the question will be, will we see an though scaramucci. he was seen upstairs talking with reince priebus, who you noted is now saying to the associated press, he is 100% behind this move. at this point, based on the reporting we have from multiple sources, both in and around this administration, that is -- if true, a fairly new development. as in the last few minutes here. as of this morning, it is our
reporting that the chief of staff had been fighting this. had been resistant to bringing on anthony scaramucci. we know sean spicer was against this, as well. to put this in context, remember, there are a lot of reince priebus loyalists inside this communications shop specifically. that has created some displeasure inside the west wing. as we always talk about these factions, right, the loyalists, versus the people on the campaign, versus the people who came from the quote, unquote, republican establishment, and came into the west wing late. what you are seeing now is all of this coming to a head and playing out. it's our understanding that both jared kushner, ivanka trump, were very supportive of anthony scaramucci coming in. i have been told wilber ross was also supportive. as stephanie ruhle noknows, the have a relationship going back for a while. on the other, people fighting this. it is not clear, for example, steve bannon, what his level of involvement is. we heard he was fighting, as well. i was also cautioned he's tried to preserve some political
capital in this battle, seeing where the road was going to end, essentially. sort of seeing a couple of steps ahead of the game that scaramucci was coming in, as we understand he is. so i'm going to toss it back to you for now, andrea, and run back to see if we can get any more guidance and continue to take some text messages. i'll be back. >> what a day. thank you, hallie. peter baker on the phone. i just want to drill down on the fact that you were in the oval office, as i understand it, that interview could have gone on even longer if the president -- the president wanted to. hope hicks was in there. no white house transcript. and it went from topic to topic. he obviously was really fired up on the subject of robert mueller. >> no question about it. this is on his mind. once we did, he went off, and he could have very easily said that's an investigation, i'm not going to comment on it. that's what other presidents have done in situations like that. as you know.
but that's not -- this president's style. his style is to say what he thinks. now, we asked repeatedly what would be a condition under which he might fire mr. mueller. he never gave a direct answer on that. he was very careful about that. but he left very clear the implication that was on the table, should he decide that special counsel has gone too far. >> here with me now are still adam schiff and mike mccaul. congressman mccaul, mr. chairman, the house caucus has got to be getting impatient. i know that republicans don't want to take a stand against their president. but a lot of them not happy that he demeaned the health care bill after the fact, after they took some very tough votes. what would it take for them to go up against him if he fired bob mueller? what would happen? >> well, i think if he fired bob
mueller, i think he would see a tremendous backlash response from both democrats, but also house republicans. we want -- again, more disciplined white house, on message, so we can stay on message and get the things done we need to get done. we're frustrated with the senate on health care, as you know. we want to pass our tax bill. i just reauthorized the department of homeland security for the first time on the floor yesterday. that's not what we're talking about. we're talking about this disarray in the white house. so it is frustrating. i hope with a new team, with new people around him, perhaps he can get back on message. >> but you've got the same chief of staff, presumably priebus stays. and the white house counsel doesn't seem to be able to exert any discipline. for the president to go off on mueller, sessions and all of the other top investigators, without anyone suggesting that he's putting himself in jeopardy. >> i think the one man that has
the most leverage, most level-headed person in the administration is the vice president, mike pence. i served with him for many years. he's very rational, cool-headed. and i think if anybody can get to him, and get him back on track and back on message, it would be him. >> and there's some key events happening on the senate side in your arena. so far, don junior and paul manafort have not accepted the invitation to testify. the subpoena they have not responded to on the senate side next week. what do you foresee happening? are they going to stiff the senate judiciary committee? >> i don't know. i think there is certainly a lot of question about whether their lawyers are going to recommend they testify or not. i hope they do testify. we're going to want them to come before our committee at the appropriate time, as well, and we'll be prepared to subpoena them if necessary. >> and jared is supposed to appear on monday and apparently is going to appear. senate intel not under oath and
closed session. >> that is my understanding, as well. and we'll also be having jared kushner come in at the appropriate time. >> same type of conditions? >> may not be the same conditions. but, you know, these -- i think obviously are key witnesses, became all the more significant when that meeting was revealed with now the russian lawyer and the russian-american lobbyist and the other russian who had the background potentially in money laundering. so all of those we're going to want before our committee. >> and we are going to have to leave it there. thank you both. a bipartisan moment badly needed. thank you. and that does it for this edition of "andrea mitchell reports." rock 'n roll news day. craig melvin is up next right here on msnbc. >> andrea, thank you. we'll pick it up from here. good afternoon to you. craig melvin, msnbc headquarters in new york. we continue with that breaking news out of the white house. you can see the live look there of the briefing