Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 7/28/2017 Priebus out
Date: July 28, 2017
Guest: Jonathan Swan, Eli Stokols, Kurtis Lee, Francesca Chambers, Sahil
Kapur, Ken Vogel, Erica Martinson
JOY REID, GUEST HOST: Trump to Priebus, You`re fired.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Joy Reid in Los Angeles, in for Chris Matthews.
After months of speculation, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus is
officially out. Late tonight, Donald Trump announced his replacement for
the post on Twitter. Quote, “I am pleased to inform you that I have just
named General secret – General secret – A-R-Y – “John F. Kelly” –
“General/secretary” – sorry – “John F. Kelly as the new chief of staff.
He`s a great American and a great leader. John has also done a spectacular
job at Homeland Security. He`s been a true star of my administration.”
(INAUDIBLE) letters there.
After touching down on Air Force One moments ago, Trump offered these words
of praise for his – both his outgoing and his incoming chiefs of staff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) why Secretary Kelly? Why John Kelly?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Reince is a good man. John
Kelly will do a fantastic job. General Kelly has been a star, done an
incredible job thus far, respected by everybody, a great, great American.
Reince Priebus, a good man. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now, the question is, did Reince jump or was he pushed? A source
close to Priebus tells NBC News that the embattled top aide to the
president had, quote, “had enough and turned in his resignation privately
last night.” Others are claiming the final straw was the failure of the
Republican health care bill, although I should point out the person running
point on that bill was Vice President Mike Pence.
So what we know for sure is that this move comes after Priebus engaged in a
losing battle with Anthony Scaramucci, who was named communications
director just last week. In his now infamous on the record conversation
with “The New Yorker” on his first official day on the job, Scaramucci
said, quote, “Reince is an expletive paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,”
while threatening a purge of White House staffers. Scaramucci accused
Priebus of leaking to the press, foreshadowing that, “He`ll be asked to
resign very shortly.”
Priebus`s ouster tonight, as Scaramucci predicted, is a clear sign that the
president intends to give his new communications director a free hand,
despite the embarrassment he`s already caused the administration. Even in
the wake of Scaramucci`s expletive-laced tirade, few at the White House
were willing to defend the embattled chief of staff. Here`s how Kellyanne
Conway addressed Priebus`s fate this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Is Reince Priebus in trouble, may I ask?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: You`d have to ask the
president that. We all serve at the pleasure of the president. But the
fact is that only two people were elected to anything, and they were
elected on a very specific set of ideas and promises.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Axios further reported today that Trump performed – Trump didn`t
reprimand Scaramucci for his obscenity-laced “New Yorker” interview, where
he also made some choice comments about Steve Bannon. Quote, “At the
moment, Scaramucci is empowered. The president loved the Mooch quotes,”
At the same time, Republicans are warning that if behavior like this
continues, apparently sanctioned by the president, people will finally
Priebus`s departure is not only evidence that Donald Trump sanctioned
Scaramucci`s behavior but that he has empowered him to take out those he no
longer wants in the White House.
Joining me now is NBC News White House correspondent Kelly O`Donnell. All
right, Kelly, so the big question, of course – did Reince Priebus resign
because he wanted to resign of because he was being shoved out the door?
KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, the president wanted
to make a change. That has been rumored for so long. We`ve had so many
moments where our sources were telling us the end was imminent. And then,
really, in the last few days, our sources said that there was something
very different happening. There was a different atmosphere around Reince
Priebus, a different way the president was treating him.
And so this is a case where in a very protracted public way, Priebus has
suffered the impending doom of knowing that his time was short. So it`s
always a question about – it`s almost a chicken and an egg. Do you
resign? Do you get fired? How does it work?
This was in many ways expected. It was a long, slow end for Priebus. I
think it is, in ways, tied to the failure of the health care overhaul
because part of the portfolio of Reince Priebus was to come from the
traditional wing of the Republican Party, the RNC leadership, close ties to
Speaker Paul Ryan, an ability to speak the language of Washington and get
We`ve seen that has been very problematic. So the president is really
overcorrecting the other direction. We know he likes generals. John Kelly
is currently Secretary Kelly, not General Kelly. He`s retired as a four-
star Marine. And he also wants someone, apparently, who`s got this
exterior toughness, who`s already got a bit of an established record in the
Trump administration for his time at the Department of Homeland Security
and someone who doesn`t have the traditional political connections that
Priebus does. So the president really taking a pendulum swing in how he`s
And Joy, I think it`s also interesting, when you look at Priebus, Sean
Spicer, the outgoing press secretary, Katie Walsh, who had been Priebus`s
close right-hand person from the RNC – she left the administration early -
- another staffer from the communications department who worked at the RNC.
You`ve got four people from the Reince Priebus RNC leadership team who are
now out at this White House.
And it raises questions about the Trump administration`s relationship with
the party more broadly, and certainly, this is a shake-up that, from our
sources, the family advisers, as I like to call them, Jared Kushner and
Ivanka Trump, were certainly wanting to see a change, and this was a big
To have Priebus on the plane, Air Force One, with the president on a day
when all of this was churning almost adds to the kind of unceremonial end
to this. It took bit of time between the tweets where the president
announced John Kelly in this new role before the thank you to Priebus tweet
We`re told John Kelly will start Monday. There`ll be a cabinet meeting
after that. They`re trying to really turn the page. And this is one of
those changes, one of those shake-ups that I guess none of us are entirely
surprised by. But like a jolt on a Friday afternoon, Joy, when it happens,
it really, really rattles this place – Joy.
REID: All right, Kelly O`Donnell. Just stay with us just for a bit. I
want to bring in Jonathan Swan, national political at Axios, Ken Vogel,
who`s a reporter for “The New York Times,” Kurtis Lee, national reporter
for “The Los Angeles Times,” and with us by phone is Eli Stokols, White
House reporter for “The Wall Street Journal,” and also with us by phone,
former Republican Party chairman Michael Steele, who was succeeded by
Reince Priebus at the RNC.
(INAUDIBLE) go around. I want to start with you on this first, Eli,
because, you know, the timing, obviously, is very convenient with that big
failure of the health care bill. It`s easy enough for the White House to
sort of chalk up Reince ultimate career demise in the White House to that.
But what Scaramucci has been beating him up over, by name in some cases, is
over this question of leaks. If you had to guess, which of those two
things was a bigger factor in Reince being pushed out?
ELI STOKOLS, “WALL STREET JOURNAL” (via telephone): I think there were
just so many things that built up over time. The president had never
really found Reince to be one of those people that – you know, he wasn`t a
rich guy. He wasn`t a military general, the things that Trump tends to
like and respect.
And a lot of people had impressed upon him that Reince was responsible, the
communications department underneath Reince that Reince ran – that was
responsible for a lot of these leaks. And so when Scaramucci came in, that
was really pretty much the beginning of the end for him.
We heard today that, you know, when Scaramucci gave the interview to “The
New Yorker” and came after Reince so strongly and profanely, that didn`t
bother the president, and the president was kind of turned off by the fact
that Reince Priebus didn`t fight back. He sort of played into that notion
that the president already had of being weak, unclear.
You can understand why somebody like Reince Priebus, after just six months
on the job, might want the public to believe that he resigned on his own.
Obviously, the writing was on the wall.
But hard to see somebody who secretly resigned on their own putting
themselves through the pace of today, of going on the plane, having to walk
off the plane as the president is firing him via Twitter – certainly, the
first chief of staff ever fired over Twitter – and then being in the
motorcade, having to have – be in his own van driven, leaving the
motorcade before the president gets off the plane, just a lot of kind of –
an embarrassing final coda for Reince Priebus as chief of staff. It did
not look too voluntary, based on the pool reports and the images that we
saw coming back from Andrews
REID: Yes, and Michael Steele, you know, somebody who is familiar with
this – this group of guys all from Wisconsin, this sort of one-time very
important powerful bloc of Republican Party operatives, the Wisconsin guys
– they`re all gone now.
And what do you make of this idea that Reince could have done himself some
good by engaging in, I guess, a cage match with Anthony Scaramucci? What
kind of White House is that?
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST (via telephone):
Well, that`s not Reince`s personality nor the way he would do something
You know, the Wisconsin mafia, as they were known, with Paul Ryan and
Reince and others, really kind of had their fingers on the political pulse
of Washington over the last three years, and Trump has come in and
effectively removed that. As of tonight, you would say the establishment
wing of the party has very little control or say over what`s going to be
going on in this White House.
In fact, there`s word on the street right now talking about how the White
House really wants the White House to be independent of Capitol Hill, to be
independent of the party, which is something some of us sort of indicated
going back to the campaign that this president would see himself outside of
the party at all times because he`s never been a part of it. So there
should be very little surprise there.
REID: I mean, Ken Vogel, if the White House then decides to exist outside
of Capitol Hill and outside of the party, they already had a chief of staff
who`s never worked on the Hill, who doesn`t have the relationship – sure,
he knows all the guys from Wisconsin. He`s friends with Paul Ryan. But he
wasn`t exactly the most effective person at negotiating with the co-equal
branch of government down the road.
How does the White House then improve its performance by going even further
KEN VOGEL, “NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, they do still have some folks in the
White House who do have relationships with the Republican Party
establishment, including Mark Short, the legislative affairs director,
who`s the one who whose actual job it is to interface with Capitol Hill.
And then there are also some folks who remain from that RNC contingent in
the communications shop, in the research shop.
My sources in the White House tell me, don`t be surprised if we see more
blood-letting from this faction in the coming days.
And then you look at the folks who are coming in – to get to your
question, Joy, about how they can interface with Capitol Hill – John
Kelly, zero experience you know, within Republican Party politics.
Obviously, you know, he`s dealt with the Hill and dealt with the sort of
body (ph) politics in a broader way during his time in the military, but
much less experience dealing with the Republican establishment than Reince
So if anything, it is, as Chairman Steele suggested, sort of a distancing
of themselves from both Capitol Hill and the Republican Party
establishment. It`s tough to see how that can be successful, given that
many of their most embarrassing setbacks thus far have been as a result of
their inability to get their way on the Hill and work closely with the
Republican Party leadership there.
REID: And Jonathan Swan, you know, a chief of staff job is not primarily
to be a liaison to Capitol Hill, although that`s part of it in traditional
White Houses. Part of it also is to give advice and counsel to the
president, and typically, to be that person who can walk into the Oval
Office and say, Mr. President, that`s a bad idea.
Obviously, Reince Priebus did not have the ability to do that. And I think
Eli said that he may not have the proper respect of the president. He`s
not rich. He`s not a general. So now you have somebody who is a general.
You have General Kelly, who`s going to – if he moves over and becomes
chief of staff, is that someone in your reportage (ph) that Donald Trump
would respect enough to hear the word “No” from?
JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS: Yes, well, certainly more than he has respected
Reince Priebus. The Oval Office under Reince Priebus – one top (ph)
Republican described it as a rolling craps game. It was people wandering
in and out. You know, you could – if you were – you could easily get
face time with the president. All you had to do was stroll in,
effectively. Reince had no control over the president`s access to
information. Staff would come in with printed-out articles that were
detrimental to their internal enemies. They would get the president to
read them. He would take retribution.
People didn`t even know how the – sort of the president was coming to
decisions, and it was really because there was no system. It was
completely circumvented. And by the end, Reince was this sort of floating
disrespected figure. And really, the only person who was in his corner at
a senior level at the end, fully in his corner fighting for him, was,
ironically, Steve Bannon, who comes from a completely different part of the
Republican Party, if at all from the Republican Party.
And the reason I still am – I mean, I would love to see – I guess we take
Reince Priebus at his word that he resigned yesterday, but I`ll tell you
what. For someone who resigned yesterday, his behavior was awful strange.
Him and Steve Bannon were scheming until the last minute to destroy Mooch.
I know that directly.
And I can tell you today, the colleagues who were spending time with Reince
Priebus today – they say that he was sort to subtly seeking reassurances
and saying things like, that the president was not happy with the things
that Anthony Scaramucci said to “The New Yorker,” which does not strike me
as – you know, maybe it was all just kept very secret and maybe he was
sort of putting on an act. I guess that`s possible.
REID: And you know, Kurtis, give us the view from – here in the real
world, right, outside of this kind of weird petri dish of Washington. You
had “The New York Post” yesterday putting up a front page that depicted the
White House as “Survivor.”
KURTIS LEE, “LOS ANGELES TIMES“: Right.
REID: You have this reporting that you essentially have Bannon and
Priebus, you know, sort of banding together. Number one is they didn`t
want Scaramucci hired. Then he comes in and then he`s attacking the chief
of staff on the record, in “The New Yorker,” doesn`t get – not only does
he not get in trouble, his position prevails. And he has walk-in
privileges and is essentially reporting directly to the president, not the
chief of staff.
This feels like chaos. Is this an administration that from, you know,
those outside of Washington looking in even seems like a presidential
administration at this point? Or is it just survival?
LEE: We`re here in Los Angeles, right, and everyone is looking at this as
possibly a movie.
REID: You could not sell screenplay like this. It would not be sold!
LEE: Is this “Fight Club”? Is this, you know, “Game of Thrones”? What is
this? And it`s really just playing (ph) out, and people are just looking
at this like a daily occurrence of saying, Hey, is this reality TV? You
see this profanity-laced “New Yorker” interview that Anthony Scaramucci
did, and everyone`s looking at this, like, Wow. In any other time, this
guy would be fired. He`d be out. Scaramucci would not be here.
The next day, the guy he`s battling with, Anthony – or Reince Priebus, in
that interview is the one who`s on the cutting block. Last week, it was
Sean Spicer. Who`s going to be next Friday? I think that a lot of people
outside the Beltway are kind of looking at this, you know, with concern.
Also, just seeing this is like a reality show daily.
And President Trump – I mean, he has his background in reality TV on “The
Apprentice” for a number of years, and he kind of possibly is playing this
out as a reality TV show, tweeting this out this afternoon that John Kelly
is now his new chief of staff. It really is one of these things where it`s
kind of, like, Get. your popcorn. What`s next tomorrow or the week ahead?
REID: Yes, and Kelly O`Donnell, I mean, maybe you can answer that
question. I mean, this question – it does feel like it isn`t over yet,
the sort of blood-letting in the White House. What is your reporting on
whether or not there are other people who might be polishing up their
O`DONNELL: I think there`s a lot of tension here, Joy. I think when you
are a staffer and you`re seeing this kind of development, the chaos that
some have described it, or at least certainly new leadership in Anthony
Scaramucci and the broadsides that he delivered, and then to take out
Reince Priebus, as the president has done.
Those who have been in the Priebus wing within a White House that has
included a lot of outsider sort of spirits (ph) – there are clearly people
here who are anxious about their jobs, expect to be the next one out, or
feel it`s appropriate to simply step aside because they were a part of the
Also, we have been hearing from the Scaramucci corner that he wants to have
additional staff shake-up in terms of the communications shop. This kind
of a change is in many ways an enormous sort of – the plates of the earth
shifting here on the 18 acres of the White House grounds because when you
have a chief of staff change, there`s really a very strong feeling that
goes through the team, the staff.
And again, this president has not empowered his first chief of staff in the
way we would normally expect. It will be much more difficult, I think, for
President Trump to challenge, as he likes to refer to him, General Kelly as
chief of staff Kelly in the ways that he might have with Reince Priebus
when we had seen in many instances, where the factions within the White
House were obviously at each other over different issues – over politics,
over access to the president.
So I think there is still anxiety here and a likelihood that, especially
with a new chief of staff, to have an opportunity to bring in their own
team, to start a new reset button, as they like to say in Washington. So
it does not feel like it`s over yet, Joy.
REID: All right. Well, stay with us, everybody. In a brief gaggle
meanwhile (ph) with reporters, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said
that Scaramucci had nothing to do with the decision on Priebus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: This is Reince`s decision or the president`s?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We all serve
at the pleasure of the president. The conversations about this started
with the president and Reince about two weeks ago in terms of timing. I
know everybody`s got a lot of questions on that.
QUESTION: This has nothing to do with Anthony Scaramucci?
SANDERS: No, it doesn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Jonathan Swan, is that passably believable spin?
SWAN: Oh, man! No. Look, we described Scaramucci as a Reince-seeking
missile brought in by Jared and Ivanka, and I stand by that description. I
believe it is an entirely accurate description. We laughed, as did many
people who know both of these men, when they came out with this phony show
last Friday, saying that they were best friends forever, and you know, went
back, you know, all these years and what about…
I mean, Anthony Scaramucci and Reince Priebus despise each other. Anthony
resented the fact Reince tried block him entering the White House. Reince
Priebus thought he was he woefully unqualified for the job. He argued
strenuously against him getting the job. Him and Steve Bannon did. And as
soon as Anthony Scaramucci came in, it was entirely predictable that they
Now, I will say it happened quicker and more spectacularly than I think any
of us could have predicted, but – I mean, give me a break.
REID: And Jonathan, just to stay with you for just one moment. to go back
to sort of where we started – we get that Scaramucci does not like Reince
Priebus, that they have mutual enmity toward each other. But for Donald
Trump, what was it about Reince that he wanted him gone for? Is it the
fact that he`s blaming him somehow for the failure of a health care bill
that he wasn`t even shepherding, or is it the fact that he`s sort of manic
about all of these leaks and he brought Scaramucci in to find the leakers
and get rid of them?
SWAN: It`s actually lots and lots and lots of things. He has long thought
of Reince as being weak. He`s never – he`s never forgotten the fact that
when the “Access Hollywood” tape dropped, I believe it was October 7th last
year, Reince privately told him he should drop out of the race.
Donald Trump takes great pleasure in reminding him and others of that fact.
They were never close. He used to refer to him during transition privately
to others as “Reincey” or “my genius.” He would say, My genius Reincey
tells me, and it was sort of dripping with contempt. So this was never,
like, you know, a wonderful relationship.
REID: Why did he hire him? Who – who convinced him to hire him?
SWAN: You know, I would love to know the full story of that.
SWAN: And I think some good reporting is required.
We still don`t fully – I still don`t think we fully have a picture of how
that went down. Obviously, there was a misconception. I think that –
because he was the head of the RNC, he was – the sell was, he`s impeccably
connected in Washington and can shepherd everything through the Hill.
But the reality is, he actually doesn`t have that many relationships on
Capitol Hill in Congress, certainly has a great relationship with Paul
Ryan. But I think that that was a little bit oversold.
REID: Yes, clearly.
Moments ago, Reince Priebus responded to the charges from Anthony
Scaramucci that he is a leaker. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No reaction, because
I`m not going to respond to it. I`m not going to get into the mud on those
sorts of things.
Look, the president and I had an understanding. We have talked about this
many times. And we ultimately decided that yesterday was a good day and
that we would work together. And I think that General Kelly is a great
pick. So, I`m not going on get into the weeds on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Michael Steele, you know Reince Priebus. He is not an operator on
the Hill. He`s not somebody with deep relationships on the Hill that would
have made him sort of a legislative force.
What is it that he was expected to provide in the White House, given the
fact that he didn`t – he wasn`t very connected on the Hill?
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, picking up on the last
point, Reince brought to the table the kind of support that the president
needed at a very critical moment during the campaign. Namely, when the
“Access Hollywood” tape came out, and Republicans started to bail, Reince
held it together.
So, payoff for that was part of this job – part of the payoff was this
job at the White House. It was a combination of others that Reince that
was able to do for the president at a time when a lot of Republicans were
heading for the hills.
And the president appreciated Reince sort of sticking his neck out for him
in that regard. But to the broader point, there was never really a
connection. It was never really an affinity.
He saw Reince as someone who was part of the establishment. And this was
all for purposes of transition. This was never going to be a permanent
Donald Trump wants his own team around him who get him, who reflect him,
who respond back to the public the terms that he likes. Scaramucci going
off the rails does not happen unless Donald Trump signs off on it, period.
REID: Yes, absolutely.
REID: Yes, no, I think you`re absolutely right.
Go on, finish.
STEELE: Well, I was going to say, so if anyone thinks that Scaramucci just
kind of went off on his own here, no. This was all part of the reality TV
presidency and the story line that Donald Trump wants out there that he is
now getting control of the things he wants to get control of.
And, Eli Stokols, OK, so Donald Trump wants to surround himself with rich
guys. He likes to be surrounded by millionaires and billionaires. He
likes to be surrounded by the generals. He wants reality TV guys. He has
got some people from the sort of Breitbart blogging world.
He wants ideologues. What he doesn`t seem to want around him are people
that can help him get legislation through Congress. It`s kind of sort of
perplexing, what it is he thinks that the presidency is for. Is it clear
to you what it is that Donald Trump wants his staff to do, other than
engage in cage matches and fight each other for his amusement?
ELI STOKOLS, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Well, the simplest way to put it
is, he wants to win. He`s always talking about winning. Right?
And it`s sort of become a joke, all the winning that has taken place in the
first six months. But, look, he sees Kelly as a winner. He sees that
because of his military record, and because of his ability, he believes, to
get things done.
One of the things that has impressed this president about Kelly is in
Cabinet meetings, this comes prepared with presentations showing what the
DHS has been doing.
And that really likes – Trump really loves that. He refers to him as a
killer because of the way he commands, the way he presents in these
Scaramucci, as Michael said, he is there because this is also a big rolling
reality show. This is the drama. And Scaramucci is great on TV. And this
is a televised presidency, almost every second of it. And so they`re both
there for different reasons.
And I think the question is, Donald Trump has to decide what winning is.
Is it winning in the ratings or is it accomplishing things? He would like
to be able to do both. The question is, which one of these guys survives
longer? How do they get along?
Scaramucci tonight, word is that he will still be reporting to the
president directly. And then you have Kelly coming in. Supposedly, he has
gotten free rein to sort of run the West Wing, shut down that revolving
door of walk-in privileges into the Oval Office.
And it really – but if Scaramucci doesn`t think he has to report to Kelly,
there is going to be some tension there, these two sort of number twos in
the White House. And it is going to be very he interesting to see how that
And how does that, Ken Vogel, play out if you`re in the staff, if you have
two guys, they both report directly to the president? Technically, you
would think the com director would report to the chief of staff. But he
They each have their own power centers. And that`s not even to talk about
the children, the Ivanka and Jared Kushner faction. Who is it that the
White House staff thinks that they need to – how should we say, who should
they please in the White House between Scaramucci and Kelly, if they want
VOGEL: Well, I think, right now, there`s a lot of soul-searching and a lot
of feeling out going on within the White House staff about that very
question, because you correctly described it as sort of two competing
fiefdoms, or certainly the potential for two competing fiefdoms, very
evocative of during the campaign, when Paul Manafort was brought in while
Corey Lewandowski was still there.
That ended up evolving into two parallel campaigns that were running at the
same time, sometimes giving conflicting instructions to the staff in the
states. It was very amusing and provided a lot of fodder for the press,
and created this sort of Hunger Games-like environment, as Eli and I
described it when were at Politico together.
And you potentially have the same sort of set of circumstances here, not
just because you have two parallel structures with the top of both having
direct reporting privileges, but two very different folks at the top.
John Kelly, very regimented, military background, gets stuff done, comes
prepared to the presentations. Anthony Scaramucci, very off-the-cuff, kind
of free-wheeling we saw from both his first press conference and the now
infamous interview with Ryan Lizza at “The New Yorker.”
So,some personality clashes there, in addition to some potential structural
REID: Yes, a coms director who doesn`t know when he is on the record.
That`s always a very helpful thing.
But, Kurtis, it is sort of perplexing, because General Kelly, obviously a
very able guy, Donald Trump has been impressed with what he`s done at
Homeland Security. But that doesn`t mean that he knows anything more than
Reince Priebus does, and maybe less, about doing sort of the functions of
government, getting bills through, going and dealing with the Hill.
REID: So, is this war? We talked about it being sort of Hollywood. It`s
not even well-orchestrated. Even from sort of the just cosmetic point of
view, this is so sloppy.
And so does it surprise that you somebody who does come from a background
where he does have some experience just in the entertainment industry, he
is not even sort of orchestrating the presidency in a way that seems – I
don`t know. It doesn`t even seem planned. It does seem to be just pure
LEE: It is one of those things where we saw Donald Trump as this – he is
this true outsider. He`s never won for political office.
And it one thing to run for office and then get into office and govern.
And through all these staff shakeups, we`re seeing the back and fourths
between Scaramucci and Priebus, Sessions, and all this stuff.
What`s being lost is the fact that there`s a number of policy issues that
the president and this administration is just not winning on or they`re
having trouble with.
REID: At what point do they wear out their welcome then?
Their Republicans are obviously die-hards; 83 percent of Republicans
support Donald Trump really no matter what he does. But at some point,
doesn`t this administration have to actually decide that it has some things
it wants to do and then try to do them?
LEE: It`s one of those where we just passed the six-month mark. And the
president has had trouble with his immigration ban. And that`s been
stalled in courts. That kind of gone back and forth.
He has created this voter fraud commission that Democrats and Republicans
alike have assailed as just nonsense and not needed. And we see it on
health care. This is for seven years that Republicans have talked about,
getting rid of Obamacare.
We – it came down to the vote earlier this morning. We saw Mike Pence on
Capitol Hill trying to meet with senators to get this passed. That
ultimately did not.
And it is just one of those things where we`re six months in, and this
administration isn`t racking up too many victories, although out front they
are saying they`re doing a lot. But it just remains to be seen.
And I`m wondering, Kelly, if the chief of staff would somebody who would
theoretically be advising on some strategy. Who advised Donald Trump on
the strategy of having Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary, threaten Lisa
Murkowski? Who was advising on the strategy of not befriending John
McCain, knowing that you need these people`s votes?
Donald Trump has done nothing but antagonize the people he needs.
Obviously, Reince Priebus wasn`t up to the task. Do you see evidence that
John Kelly is going to have a more subtle hand at that kind of advising of
O`DONNELL: Well, I would offer this.
If you are a four-star Marine general – and that is the rank at which John
Kelly left his service to the United States military – that is a very
political accomplishment. It is an accomplishment with a lot of
And there`s a lot of management experience when you are a general. So it`s
not in the policy and politics world. But anyone who reaches that level of
being a general has had to deal with a lot of internal conflicts with staff
having to execute a plan. And he had done work as a liaison to Congress
while he was in uniform.
So there are a couple of building blocks there that are areas where the
president can look for just new structure. I think the president also
wants this decision to be well-received publicly. And he has found, when
he makes decisions with people who are broadly respected, like people in
both parties respect someone of John Kelly`s stature, that that`s something
the president likes.
He wants to hear that this was a good decision. The president was also
very frustrated, from all the reporting we have done, that, in the early
days of going from campaign to transition and finally taking office, that
he was given a lot of counsel from Priebus and that team about in what
order to do various steps, from the travel ban to beginning with health
care, the different sort of building blocks of how they would roll out this
And many of those things sort of blew up on them and didn`t work as he was
told they would. And so that has been a part of the simmering frustration,
that the guidance he thought he was getting from the political experts kept
And one thing he seems to have enormous confidence in is people who have
gone through military and have a measurable record of results to show for
it. And so I think don`t underestimate the management skills of a four-
star Marine general as something – something new for this White House –
REID: Very interesting.
All right, let`s bring in Ali Velshi, Ali Velshi,my friend and one of our
very favorite people here MSNBC.
And you know Anthony Scaramucci.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
REID: So, I want to ask you think this winds up working. You now have two
power centers. There`s essentially two number twos. You have got
Scaramucci, who reports directly to the president, and you have got the
chief of staff, who, in theory, Scaramucci should be reporting to.
REID: But he doesn`t.
How does that end up working out?
VELSHI: Well, I think one has to look at the motivations that Anthony
Scaramucci has in this thing.
He expected a big job in the administration earlier on, arranged to sell
his fund of funds, as it is called, SkyBridge Capital, to a Chinese firm
that has a very murky ownership structure, some suggest might be tied the
to Chinese government. That hasn`t been established.
But the U.S. regulators have not approved this sale. There`s about $90
million hanging in the balance here for Anthony Scaramucci. And Donald
Trump and Steve Mnuchin can override any regulatory approval or disapproval
So the bottom line is, Anthony Scaramucci had remarkable motivation to
being in the president`s good graces and being near him. And Reince
Priebus had kept him away from that prize for a long time.
So, this isn`t just about ambition. This isn`t just about what the country
needs. This is about what Anthony Scaramucci needed to happen. If you`re
Anthony Scaramucci, you`re probably not all that concerned that John Kelly
is going to be the chief of staff, because your problem was Reince Priebus.
Anthony Scaramucci is – I don`t mean this in a critical way. He is a
chameleon. He can fit in. He can figure it out. Right? He learned all
of Donald Trump`s gesticulations and hand movements and all of that stuff
to do very well.
So, Anthony Scaramucci will figure it all out. I have heard that Anthony
Scaramucci would have liked that job himself, but the bottom line is, John
Kelly and Anthony Scaramucci apparently both have said that they think
leaks are the absolute worst thing that can happen to this administration.
So if they can get a handle on that, they will have considered it a
success. I don`t think they are going to get a handle on it. They`re
reasons administrations leak. But they`re both going toward that goal.
REID: And if he has now – staying with you just for a second, Ali, OK,
he`s achieved his goal of getting his main rival out of the way.
Other than trying to figure when he`s on the record and when he`s not on
the record with reporters, what is it that his mission is now? Because
clearly communications and sort of streamlining it and making it smooth and
adult-seeming is not his strength.
VELSHI: So, I`m of that group who doesn`t actually think that this is the
priority, that Anthony Scaramucci came in for different reasons.
The president really likes him. He sticks up for the president and his
family. He is a strong guy to have on the president`s side of a divide
that sometimes might see Steve Bannon and/or the Republican, both of whom
don`t form the same group normally, on the other side.
I don`t think this is about communications skill, necessarily. Anthony
Scaramucci is a good guest to have on a TV show, but he is not particularly
expert at it.
And, remember, I don`t know that I or a lot of people believe that Anthony
Scaramucci thought he was talking off the record. He never made any
mention of this. He has a history having done this, spoken to the press,
and then saying he thought it was off the record.
If he was supposed to be off the record, and he didn`t make that clear,
that makes him the worst communications director possibly ever.
VELSHI: And if he intended it to be the way it went down, that sort of
makes him a vulgar, profane individual.
So, this is not about the communications strategy. This is about getting
Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer and the RNC folks out of the White House.
REID: Yes. Actually, I have heard the idea that he would want to be chief
of staff. It`s amazing. You think of James Baker and sort of the august
personages that have been in that position. It`s interesting the choices
that are being made here.
I want to let the viewers listen to a little more of Reince Priebus from
his, I guess what you would call it, an exit interview tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Can you just clear up the other charge? It was a very
bitter charge that Scaramucci leveled against you, that you`re a leaker,
and that you`re really not that loyal to the president, you have got your
He makes bitter accusations against you, specifically the leaking in the
PRIEBUS: Well, it`s ridiculous. Wolf, come on. Give me a break. I`m not
going to get into his accusations.
BLITZER: Why not? Why not respond to him?
PRIEBUS: Because I`m not going to, because it didn`t honor the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Ken Vogel, this idea of leaks, obviously, journalists love them.
The media loves to get them. And there`s a limited, there`s a finite
number of people who could be talking inside of the White House.
Do you expect now sort of the leak well to begin to run dry, if people are
now afraid that even being named or accused by Scaramucci could get you
VOGEL: Because there`s still the sort of dissent that we talk about and
the feuding and the fiefdoms. That`s what lead to the leaks, is people
trying to sell out rivals and embarrass rivals within the administration.
And I should point out the idea that Anthony Scaramucci is some kind of
disciplined communicator who is going to be able to crack down on leaks is
sort of laughable. This is a guy who developed a reputation in politics
since he got involved in Republican politics way back in 2012, which,
remember, he supported Barack Obama in 2008.
So this is not – he doesn`t have a long history there. But since he`s
been involved in Republican politics, he`s had a reputation as a huge
leaker, to the point where the Bush campaign, Jeb Bush campaign, which he
was an early backer of in 2016, actually kept him off of donor conference
calls because they were anxious, they were nervous.
They believe that they had reason to believe that, once he got off the
calls, he would share the contents of them. In 2012, he would tweet from
Romney campaign finance meetings sensitive information about how much money
they had raised that the campaign would prefer to keep close to the vest,
at least until the FEC reports came out.
So this is not a guy who has a history of – he has a history of leaking,
not of cracking down on leaks.
REID: Yes, not to mention the guy in the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania
Avenue used to be – pretend to be John Barron. He was his own publicist
used to leak things about himself.
Michael Steele, if we still have you…
STEELE: Yes, I`m here.
REID: If Chris Matthews were here – if Chris Matthews were here today, I
think – I feel that I can channel him. And he would say, at the end of
the day, at a certain point, governing is supposed to be about doing
things. It`s supposed to be about having an agenda of things you want to
do, and then doing them.
It feels like 80, 90 percent of this White House`s time and energy is
consumed with infighting, backbiting, backstabbing, or, as Scaramucci said,
At some point, who is the person in the administration that knows anything
about actually getting bills passed, bills written, dealing with Capitol
Hill, and governing? Is there anyone who can do it? Because General Kelly
may be a brilliant guy, but he doesn`t have a background in that either.
STEELE: You assume that that`s the goal here.
I`m not wholly convinced that it is. I think, when you`re creating reality
TV presidencies, it is not about those types of objectives, which have been
fairly traditional. It is about the moment. And this president has been
consistently about creating moments, whether they serve as a distract or
whether they serve as an opportunity to further another narrative.
And that`s the – that`s our new reality. This is a presidency that is
going to be continually transitioning towards whatever Donald Trump is
feeling or thinking or tweeting at that moment.
So the policy and the agenda on legislation, you`re talking big stuff like
infrastructure and tax reform. That is going to have to rest with
Republican leaders on the Hill. They are going to have to get their
collective acts together and really be the driver and bring the president
along to that.
And even that is not a guarantee, as we saw on health care, because, one
minute, he could like your bill, and the next minute, he could call it
STEELE: So, you`re going to have to do this in a measured way. And so I
would not expect a whole lot of policy getting done for the rest of this
year at this point.
REID: Yes. He`s already said he doesn`t want skinny tax reform. He wants
big tax reform.
STEELE: Yes. There you go.
REID: So, great. That`s excellent. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Let`s bring in Francesca Chambers, White House correspondent for
DailyMail.com, at Sahil Kapur, national political reporter at Bloomberg
All right, where to go first?
Francesca, I will start with you.
The Republican Party is obviously having a frustrating week, as is Donald
Trump. Who do people on the Hill think that they ought to call? If they
pick up the phone and they want to get answers from the White House, who is
it that is the person that they call that they think is knowledgeable about
what the president wants?
FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, “THE DAILY MAIL”: Well, you asked who the person is in
the White House who is the liaison to Capitol Hill at this point.
And the answer is Vice President Mike Pence. He`s the one who the White
House has been sending to the Capitol Hill, to these policy luncheons to
work with lawmakers. He is a former legislator. And so he does have that
experience when it comes to that.
But when you`re talking about whether or not we`re going to get anything
done, we`re going to see Congress get anything done the rest of this year,
certainly, Reince Priebus, while he wasn`t someone who had been a lawmaker
or had worked Capitol Hill, per se, he had been the Republican National
So, he worked with a lot of these lawmakers, and, of course, he was very
close to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was going to be critical to getting
tax reform passed this year if that`s still going to happen.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: And, Sahil, you know, we now also are going to be
facing confirmation hearings for a replacement for General Kelly coming in
the midst of all this chaos. How`s that going to work?
SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: It`s a good question
because, Joy, the Senate is around for another two weeks. They already
have an agenda in place. They want to do the National Defense
Authorization Act, and there are several nominations that are going to be
coming up on the floor. Now, after that, the Senate is gone for three
So, it`s highly unlikely they`re going to be able to confirm a nominee. We
don`t even have one yet, through a committee, do the hearing, do a
committee vote and send to the floor in the next two weeks. So, we`re
looking at least fall or so before the Department of Homeland Security has
a new permanent secretary.
This seems to be a pretty abrupt impulsive decision by a very mercurial
president. But it`s almost poetic that it came on the day that his
signature legislative accomplishments crashed into a brick wall.
REID: But, Kurtis, this was a president who was so emphasized the Homeland
Security function, so emphasized things leak the ban on travelers from
seven Muslim countries. And now, he`s vacated the office of the Department
of Homeland Security, and to the point we just heard from Sahil, they may
not be able to replace him until the fall. How does that work out?
KURTIS LEE, LOS ANGELES TIMES: It`s one of those things where, you know,
maybe the president was just not thinking ahead, not thinking two steps
ahead, and just making this decision on the fly, without thinking, hey, you
know, John Kelly is in this position I put him in to do things like the
travel ban and also things with the border wall, that the – that President
Trump was a key pill larger of this campaign. So, now, they`re expecting
this position of having to figure out who`s next to fill up that position
and where do we go from here?
And when you look at all these other situations, what, you know, Jeff
Session and the president attacking him, well, now who`s in line for
possibly be A.G. if next Friday, Jeff Sessions is there.
REID: That`s right.
LEE: So, it`s one of these things where it`s just like, you know, are they
thinking things through and kind of what`s the process?
REID: Yes. I mean, they`re barely established in the State Department.
And it does feel to be a completely chaotic administration.
I want to bring In Erica Martinson. And Erica is the Washington reporter
for “The Alaska Dispatch News”.
Thank you for being here, Erica. I want to talk to you about one of the
sort of weird strategies that was employed by the White House this week in
an attempt to force through the repeal of Obamacare. This threat that was
made to Lisa Murkowski, to Senator Murkowski, and to the state of Alaska,
both senators, if she didn`t go along with it, that, you know, maybe
Alaska`s economy would suffer or be attacked. How did that wind going over
with the two senators and with the people in the state?
ERICA MARTINSON, WASHINGTON REPORTER, ALASKA DISPATCH NEWS: Obviously, it
didn`t go very well. It didn`t manage to convince Lisa Murkowski to change
her vote. And, in fact, you know, I guess you could say it back fired a
Obviously, she, you know, urged for power a little bit and showed that
she`s chairman of the Senate Energy Committee. She runs appropriations for
the Interior Department, and, you know, she made it clear soon after that
she wasn`t bothered. So they might have to try a different tactic next
REID: And, obviously, senators have a role to play in doing things like
confirming new members of the president`s cabinet. He`s now vacated a
pretty important cabinet seat. And now, he has a chief of staff that has
not exactly have experience on the Hill. Talk a little just about how any
of this is going to work? I mean, who was going to liaison with the
senators and try to repair the relationships? Is that going to end up
being Secretary Kelly?
MARTINSON: You know, that`s an excellent question. I mean, I think it`s
been clear throughout this week that the White House has focused or at
least President Trump is focused on politics as a negotiating tactic
instead of policy. And when it comes down to things like health care, you
know, senators care very much about the details of the policy and how
things impact their state and they`re not necessarily willing to play ball
on, you know, elections, or other things like that all the time. They got
particular concerns. And they want the president to be able to speak to
those. And he hasn`t shown much of a willingness to do that.
REID: And have you in your reporting detected any desire by the White
House to try to reach out to Senator Murkowski, maybe to walk back what was
done, the kind of sort of negative contact that they had with her?
MARTINSON: I haven`t we heard anything of that yet, no. Not of the sort.
REID: Yes. Interesting time.
I want to go really quickly to Michael Steele before we go to the panelists
who are sitting here because, Michael Steele, obviously, one of the wings
that is shrinking now in the orbit of Donald Trump is the RNC wing and
everyone associated with it. As former chairman of the RNC, where does
that leave the organization now? I mean, you already have donors that I
assume are wondering why their donations are going to Donald Trump`s legal
bills and other sort of issues like that? Where is the RNC at this point?
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN (via telephone): A good question. I
think a lot of people are asking themselves that and trying to figure out
exactly what it means. Certainly, this is a disruption in the party flow.
I don`t think it will impact money. I don`t think it will impact
organizations or things that the chairwoman is doing at the moment. But it
does lead to a broader disruption that the party has to face in dealing
with, you know, just grassroots activists, how they feel about what`s going
on, whether they`re pro-Trump or, you know, not pro-Trump and that`s going
to be a very delicate thing.
This instability in the West Wing makes it very difficult for the party
organize itself and to begin to sort of put in place the building blocks
they`re going to need for next year.
REID: Yes. And, Ali Velshi, when you say the word instability, you know
who hates instability? Wall Street, the kind of financial sort of titan
that likes the idea of Donald Trump, because they thought they`d get big
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
REID: How are people reacting to this – what looks utter chaos or an
endless game of survivor in the White House?
VELSHI: It`s kind of interesting that the markets have decoupled
themselves from this administration. Strangely, we`ve seen some records
being set this week. So, they sort of decided that under the Obama
administration, they felt like they lived under constant threat of new
regulation. With that not the case, with the chief regulator or the person
who had her eye on Wall Street, Elizabeth Warren, now in a minority Senate
position, and not in a – you know, not with the ear of the president,
they`re not all that worried about that.
So, the general feeling is that while President Trump may not succeed in
his massive tax reform and he may not succeed in active deregulation, there
is not a threat of more regulation. And in the meantime, for whatever
reason, wages have been going up a little as unemployment goes down,
consumers are feeling a little more confident they`re actually out there
shopping, and the economy is chugging along on its own.
Now, Donald Trump will remind you as many times as you asked him that it`s
all because of him that the stock markets at record levels and consumer
confidence is high and unemployment is low. These are all things that were
trending in that direction for a while. I guess Donald Trump gets some of
the credit for the stock market, but Janet Yellen gets most of it.
So, the markets aren`t really worrying too much. I will say, the moments
when the market has worried a little bit is when it looks like we might be
headed toward a constitutional crisis. So, the Jeff Sessions stuff has
become of concern, when Russia stuff ramps up, it becomes a concern.
REID: Yes, absolutely.
And, you know, Ken Vogel, when I hear sort of in what Ali Velshi is
describing, it`s almost sort of a White House-free world, where the White
House almost becomes irrelevant. You know, that the president tweets about
changing the policy on trans service members and the Pentagon essentially
sort of dismisses it. Donald Trump, appears to be melting down personally
over Russian-gate. You know, he fired his chief of staff after 189 days,
and the world just goes chugging merely along.
I mean, are we sort of reaching a point where Donald Trump`s, you know,
sort of White House is becoming irrelevant?
KEN VOGEL, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, certainly not on the
legislative front. I mean, he has – as you alluded to earlier, he`s
hamstrung through Congress. I think it was Chairman Steele who mentioned
the mean quote that he had about the Senate health care bill and him
calling out Republicans by name for not supporting the bill, that`s sort of
the opposite of what we have seen from White House that had been successful
at pushing legislation through Congress, and that`s really what you are
I mean, there are some things around the edges that his administration can
do at the agency level, that do have an impact. In fact, it`s notable that
General Kelly coming from DHS was one of those agencies that had really
implemented this hard line on immigration, had created this new office for
the victims of crimes perpetrated undocumented immigrants. So, this is an
example of how things can occur and this administration can make progress
sort of in spite of Donald Trump.
But the big ticket items still rely on him and he is doing himself no
REID: All right. Well, after the Senate`s failure to pass the Obamacare
repeal, Donald Trump tweeted: 3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the
American people down, as I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode,
then deal. Watch.
He delivered a similarly aggressive message this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They should have approved
health care last night, but you can`t have everything. Boy, oh, boy.
They`ve been working on that one for seven years, can you believe that?
But we`ll get it done. We`re going to get it done. You know, I said from
the beginning, let Obamacare implode and then do it. I turned out to be
right. Let Obamacare implode.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: OK. Well, Sahil, that is not exactly what he said. He was going
around saying he was going to repeal and replace Obamacare I think in like
the first 100 days and made it a priority of his own not just the
Republicans. But now, having to thrown his Senate Republican colleagues
under the bus, how does Donald Trump go back to them on things like tax
reform, go back to them and ask them to help him get his vaunted wins?
KAPUR: Well, it`s easy to go back to him because they both need each
other. You know, they all want big tax cuts. They all want big tax
reform. And, you know, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Mitch
McConnell are not simply going to stop talking to him because of health
care and he can`t afford to same of them.
In terms of the president`s position on health care, as you alluded, he`s
been in a number of different places, sometimes simultaneously. Sometimes
he says, let`s let the law implode, which is what, you know, he just said
in that video clip you played. Sometimes he says we need to repeal it, and
then, you know, look down the road and replace it later. And sometimes he
says it needs to be repealed and replaced at the same time.
That lack of focus, that lack of discipline and clarity has muddied things
up a lot on Capitol Hill. Now, I`m not letting anybody there off the hook.
It was – it`s up to Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell to know what the
politics are in their conferences, and I think McConnell in particular
really misjudged it, which is why we had this spectacular vote late last
night, early this morning where Senator McCain diagnosed just days ago with
brain cancer unexpectedly became the deciding vote to essentially kill this
effort and it`s not clear it`s coming back.
So, yes, Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell want to move next to tax reform,
but that whole process is still in its infancy. Republicans are no further
along, I would say on tax reform than they were on health care when this
started, and that is not clearly been an easy effort.
REID: And, Francesca, who are Paul Ryan`s allies now inside of the White
House? I mean, obviously, his closest allies were his fellow members of
Michael Steele coined it, so I can repeat it, the Wisco mafia, the
Wisconsin guys. Who does he talk to now? Because the vice president
didn`t do such a bang-up job of getting John McCain to go along.
CHAMBERS: Well, you`re right about that, and that is the answer. The vice
president is the one person that he could look to in this instance.
It`s clear that the president is ready to move on from the health care
fiasco. You mentioned already earlier this week he started to distance
himself from what was going on in Capitol Hill. He was saying they, the
Republicans should. Not really mentioning himself in that, saying it was
their last chance even.
And so, it`s very clear when the White House put out a tax policy, a joint
statement on tax policy with House Speaker Ryan, with the Senate majority
leader yesterday, before those votes had finished with Obamacare repeal,
that they were already ready to start moving on to something else.
And remember, they have to raise the debt ceiling, they have a bunch of
spending bills they also have to pass. And that would be before they could
even start voting on a tax reform package, and, of course, they also want
to get to infrastructure this year. The president just wants a win, and
whether that`s on health care or taxes or something else, it`s clear that
he is willing to take what he can get.
REID: That is sort of a sad statement of affairs.
Jonathan Swan, I want to ask because you talked earlier a little bit about
the factionalism inside the White House. If now the vice president becomes
the focus of members of Congress, of the speaker of the house, maybe Mitch
McConnell, if that`s the person they`re negotiating with, how fast before
he becomes the object of the derision and hatred, you know, of these
various factors that are squabbling for power? And, then, you know, where
does that leave Donald Trump?
JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Well, I just make a few
points on that. One is this is how it`s envisaged. I mean, General Kelly
was putting this role knowing full well that he doesn`t have the
relationships on the Hill. Mike Pence is going to be elevated and his
operation, including his chief of staff, Nick Ayers, and Marc Short, who`s
currently the legislative director but he`s on a personal level very close
to Mike Pence, used to be his chief of staff. That will be the team mostly
leading the interactions with Capitol Hill.
So, yes, his profile is going to be raised. Ultimately, who knows what
that will do? It`s going to cause more scrutiny from the media. He is
going to be a more high profile V.P. than he has been so far. Maybe it
will arouse people`s jealousies internally. But these are all
The other point I would just make is I don`t think we know yet. I was just
thinking to a senior administration official in the car on the way here,
and they said don`t be so sure that Anthony Scaramucci will definitely be
reporting directly to the president. This will be sorted out on Monday.
And just remember, that one sentence in the press release that the
president put out saying that Scaramucci was going to report directly him,
that was really just a huge middle finger to Reince Priebus. That was the
purpose of that sentence. It wasn`t because Anthony refuses to work under
anyone else. It was really saying to Reince Priebus, you know, go jump in
SWAN: Anthony would use more profane language.
REID: Yes, he would. Thank you for not doing it.
Even though we are on cable. Thank you for not doing that.
Ali Velshi, I mean, so is it a possibility now that you wind up seeing Mike
Pence become Donald Trump`s Dick Cheney, as Chris would say?
VELSHI: No, because it didn`t work yesterday. And I think last night was
historic in that, you have Donald Trump, the deal maker president. You
have Mitch McConnell, the guy everybody thought was such as deal maker, who
can keep his conference in line, and they couldn`t pass a bill that they
had all campaigned on for seven years and four elections, and they have the
majority in every piece of legislative – every legislative body that
So, no. It couldn`t be done that way. It`s not going to get done. So, we
talk about tax reform. You remember that I have long referred to the
repeal of Obamacare as a tax bill. Not a health care bill.
VELSHI: Even President Trump in his speech today, he doesn`t even know how
to refer to it. In that speech he gave, he talked about they couldn`t even
pass health care last night.
There was no health care on the table to pass. There was the repeal of a
bill that also involved tax incentives. The earlier bill was all about
tax. They can`t do tax reform now because a lot of the revenue that they
were going to save was in this health bill.
So, no, I don`t see – Mike Pence couldn`t get it done last night. Nothing
actually mattered more than getting it done last night. So, this is a
remarkable failure. Early in the week, John McCain said to one of our
reporters that – I don`t know what the expression was, but I think he said
something like a teenager, an intern, could do a better job leading this
conference than Mitch McConnell could. So, this has been a bad 24 hours
for Donald Trump and for Mitch McConnell.
REID: Yes, well, for the White House`s point of view, a teenager might
have known better than to threaten one of the senators whose vote you need
and not make nice with the other who said do you like people better when
they weren`t caught, and you were never made to be friends with them again.
And those are the two people who end up hurting you.
I want to just get through one more thing because I have to let the
audience listen to this extraordinary piece of sound. This is Donald Trump
today, and this was a speech he was giving about combating gang violence.
And in that speech he encouraged police – wait for it – to rough up
suspects. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy
wagon, you just see them thrown in, roughed, I said, please don`t be too
nice. Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you are protecting
their head, you know, the way you put their hand. Like don`t hit their
head, and they`ve just killed somebody. Don`t hit their head. I said you
can take the hand away, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Late today, the police department in Suffolk County, New York, where
Trump was speaking pushed back, but with pretty good sub-tweet, tweeting:
The SCPD has strict rules and procedures relating to the handling of
prisoners. Those violating those rules are treated extremely seriously or
violations are treated extremely seriously. As a department, we do not and
will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.
Kurtis, you know, the LAPD has its own history obviously with police abuse
and with, you know, periods in which their relationship with the
communities were terrible. What kind of a message does it send when the
commander-in-chief and the president of the United States is essentially
encouraging, so encouraging roughing up of suspects that the police
department has to push back?
LEE: Before I came over here, I was on the phone with some immigrants
rights groups, and people were just, like, what`s going on? Some were just
saying, hey, this is continued rhetoric from the president that goes back
years, and with this, I mean – yes, I mean, we saw Freddie Gray in
Baltimore and that case, and him being thrown in the back of that paddy
wagon and all the issues that had surrounded it.
And I talked to some lawyers before I came here at civil rights groups, and
people are just concerned and saying that, hey, if you`re a black or Latino
walking around on the streets, you can – this language is emboldening
police, and there`s a concern for that. And some are reassured when they
see the police – the Suffolk County Police Department pushing back against
Trump, but others are very concerned that this is emboldening police to act
violently towards specifically blacks and Latinos out here on the streets.
REID: And, Jonathan Swan, when have an administration full of people who
if anything, now seem to be down to only those who have the philosophy to
let Donald Trump be Donald Trump, you know, you have Anthony Scaramucci who
has his own issues, the sort of colorful odd language, maybe he will listen
to General Kelly. Who knows? I guess the factions and the Bannon world
love this kind of rhetoric, right. But does it help Donald Trump?
SWAN: Well, it helps him with the people who already love him. It doesn`t
help him with, you know, the more than half the country that don`t love him
or, you know, much stronger that that, despise him.
And, you know, as far as the let Trump be Trump thing, I would say one
thing, which is that General Kelly does not strike me as a let Trump be
Trump kind of guy. So, I do think that there will be some pushback there.
Whether it`s successful is a whole other question.
But, yes, this is very much base first, raw meat kind of language that
Bannon loves and does nothing to reach out to the 54 percent or whatever it
is that are not supporting him.
REID: Go on.
VOGEL: That it`s similar to, you know, the rhetoric that he used during
the campaign at rallies when there were protesters. And he would encourage
his supporters to rough them up. He would say, get them out. Even at one
point, or a couple of points, offered to pay the legal bills of supporters.
And I would point out that there are cases right now working their way
through federal courts in Kentucky and Alabama, I believe, from protesters
who were roughed up, who were suing not just the supporters who were the
ones sort of laying hands on them, but also Donald Trump and Donald Trump`s
campaign, and there was a real possibility in one of these cases that he
could end or certainly people around him maybe even President Trump could
end up having to answer questions for the lawyers – for the protesters`
lawyers. So, it`s not like a harmless thing.
REID: No, not wise.
Thank you so much, Kurtis Lee, Jonathan Swan, Francesca Chambers, Sahil
Kapur, Ken Vogel, Ali Velshi, Erica Martinson and Michael Steele, a super
panel. Thank you all for sticking around.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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