The Beat with Ari Melber, Transcript 7/28/17 Ethics Report: Bannon operating “shadow press”

Guests:
Howard Fineman, Rick Tyler, Erin Gloria Ryan, Erin Gloria Ryan, Andy Card, Kurt Bardella, Ben Smith, Michael Isikoff, Richard Painter
Transcript:

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER
Date: July 28, 2017
Guest: Howard Fineman, Rick Tyler, Erin Gloria Ryan, Erin Gloria Ryan,
Andy Card, Kurt Bardella, Ben Smith, Michael Isikoff, Richard Painter

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, MTP DAIL: That`s all we have for tonight. If it`s
Sunday, we`ll have much more on the White House shakeup and all of this
chaotic week on “Meet the Press”. Be sure to check out our 1947, the “Meet
the Press” podcast because my guest this week, Ari Melber. And Ari picks
things up right now for us on THE BEAT.

Mr. Melber, good evening. I hope we have enough news for you to cover.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE BEAT: I think we have a lot of news, a
breaking news shows. And I enjoyed the podcast. Thanks again, Chuck.

TODD: You got it, brother.

MELBER: A big show here. This round goes to Anthony Scaramucci. He now
reports directly to the president and Reince Priebus does not. Trump
removing Priebus today and naming a new Chief of Staff.

Today, Friday, July 28, 2017, is the day President Donald Trump formally
admitted there is something wrong with the Trump White House. Something is
not working and someone is getting canned.

Reince Priebus was the most high-ranking establishment Republican in
Trump`s White House. And he was not just fired tonight. He has been
attacked, humiliated, derided and dissed in the most personal terms before
now being shown the door.

And it would be easy to fixate on all that dramatic treatment, but that
would obscure the deeper reasons that Donald Trump is shaking up his White
House staff so early in his tenure tonight.

Russia consuming this presidency. Congress overriding Trump on sanctions.
Just this week, Republicans losing that big healthcare vote early this
morning as White House staff spent their time infighting in the lead up to
the vote instead of helping out.

Trump reportedly calling John McCain with a last-ditch plea and he gave it
a thumbs down, along with the entire bill.

And that is part of why Trump has now announced just within these past 90
minutes that Reince is out and John Kelly will take over leading the White
House staff.

And he`ll have his hands full because this move also clearly and publicly
reinforces the power Mr. Anthony Scaramucci who reports directly to the
president.

Think about this here on this blockbuster Friday evening. Almost everyone,
across all party lines, all over this country, this week thought Scaramucci
had a terrible, even embarrassing time.

But according to his boss, it was a good time, it was a great week. And
for now, apparently, at the Trump White House, that`s all that matters.

I want to get right to the breaking news. Howard Fineman is global
editorial director for “The Huffington Post;” Rick Tyler, Republican
strategist, former advisor to Sen. Ted Cruz; and Erin Gloria Ryan, a
senior editor at “The Daily Beast”.

Rick, why is Reince out and why did it go down like this?

RICK TYLER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Reince has been isolated for a long
time. Effectively, there has been no chief of staff for quite a long time.

Look, I think I`m beginning to believe that Scaramucci was brought in for a
purpose and it was to humiliate Reince.

And unlike Sessions, who people rallied around and had support, nobody came
to Reince`s defense. There was no one left in the West Wing to support him
and it became untenable and he had to leave. My guess is he probably read
it on Twitter along with the rest of us.

MELBER: Although “NBC News” reporting that - from Peter Alexander, there
were sources saying he may had the resignation as soon as yesterday.

But what he read before that on Twitter and “The New Yorker” magazine and
everywhere else was a kind of shaming and a kind of disgusting level of
personal attacks that is really unbecoming.

ERIN GLORIA RYAN, SENIOR EDITOR, “THE DAILY BEAST”: Right. But this isn`t
the first time Donald Trump has done this, is it?

Marla Maples found out that she was getting a divorce from the “New York
Post.” Donald Trump has always used the medium at his disposal to
communicate to people that he wants to humiliate that they`re out of his
way.

Sessions was somebody that he confronted not in person, but on Twitter.
And Marla was somebody he confronted through the tabloids.

Donald Trump is using Twitter now the way that he used tabloids in the 80s
and 90s, except this time there`s no gatekeepers. There`s no editors
between him and the headline he wants. He can just write the headlines and
we have to chase the headlines and report on them.

MELBER: We`re getting a lot of updates into our newsroom as check the
story. Stay with me, Rick. Stay with me, everyone. I`m being told that
we have now Andy Card, a fitting guest as a former chief of staff to George
W. Bush.

Can you hear, Andy?

ANDY CARD, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I can.
It`s great to be with you. Obviously, this will be a very memorable day.

MELBER: It is a memorable day. And it`s the first day that Donald Trump
has taken action with regard to his own view of failures or problems in the
White House. Have you ever seen a chief of staff remove like this and what
does is it mean?

CARD: I`m sure this is the first chief of staff removed in the way that he
was removed and it was kind of tawdry, awkward, uncomfortable, unfair, but
it`s reality.

And now, we have to all rally to make sure that Gen. Kelly, the new Chief
of Staff, is in a position to help the president do his job. And that is a
major responsibility.

Wouldn`t it be hard - to say nothing of Gen. Kelly`s background, which is
widely respected, but wouldn`t it be hard, in your view, in a political
climate like this to have someone with no political experience be chief of
staff. Does that mean effectively that role will be played by other Trump
loyalists in the White House?

CARD: A general, first of all, has to understand politics and has been
part of it for a very long time. I know that he did work on Capitol Hill.
He was a congressional aide when he was a junior officer and I know he
worked at the Pentagon. And I know that he did a great job in the field,
in the tough role as commanding troops during a highly politicized effort
to discuss what was going on in the war.

So, I think he is wary of the needs and the way Washington DC works. So,
he`s not a neophyte.

He is also from Boston. So, I kind of celebrate that because (INAUDIBLE),
so does he. At least we know how to speak the Boston accent. And I think
that he`s a good choice. He`s an adult. He has the courage to speak truth
to power. He`s demonstrated that.

And he understands the consequence - he really understands the
consequential policy, and that`s something that`s very, very important.
So, it`s not just about understanding what policy is and how it should be
implemented, but he understands the consequence of policy.

MELBER: Right. I take your point that he`s operated in the climate. That
would mean, Howard Fineman, that he also understands the shelf life or
half-life of a loyal Trump aide can be very short indeed.

Howard, listen to Donald Trump speaking about Reince Priebus on election
night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I`ll tell you Reince is
really a star. And he is the hardest working guy. And in a certain way, I
did this. Reince, come up here. When is Reince? It`s about you did this,
Reince? My God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: There is the embrace, Howard. What happened?

HOWARD FINEMAN, GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”: Well,
first of all, don`t forget that during the campaign when the whole bus
incident happened with Billy Bush comments and so forth that shocked so
many people about what the then candidate Trump had said earlier on, Reince
Priebus suggested that the candidate Donald Trump might want to consider
dropping out of the race.

I don`t think Reince ever recovered from that, to begin with. He was on
borrowed time from the moment he became chief of staff. He was never given
the authority to really run the White House. He was never highly regarded
by other people. He was called Reincey by the president as though he were
a pet and not the chief of staff.

The good news for Anthony Scaramucci is that he got his man. He got Reince
Priebus. Priebus is out.

The bad news for Scaramucci is that the new chief of staff is a Marine
Corps general retired. And I`m wondering how long Kelly is going to put up
with the idea that Scaramucci can talk to Donald Trump anytime he wants
without going through the Marine Corps chain of command. That will be
interesting to see.

And I`ve also got to say that the way this was - I know there`s a word
that`s out today supposedly that Reince Priebus knew all about this
yesterday and they`re going through the motions. I don`t buy it for a
second.

I think this was executed gangland style. They flew for this event, at
which the president widely - lavishly praised Kelly, who was about to take
over. Then when they get back to Joint Base Andrews, the Trump stays on
the plane.

The president asks Reince to stay behind. They have a discussion. Then
Reince Priebus gets off the plane, gets in - according to the (INAUDIBLE)
report, then gets in a car with two other Trump aides, who then after a few
seconds or so, get out of the car and leave Reince Priebus alone in the car
to read the tweets announcing his own dismissal.

That`s the way I put the tick-tock together. That is remarkable and a
humiliation that indicates to me that they must`ve actually gotten Priebus
on some leaks - he and his people on some leaks. Scaramucci showed them to
Trump and that was it.

By the way, the only other reason why Priebus was staying around was to try
to work on the healthcare bill. Once the healthcare bill went down at 1
o`clock in the morning last night, Priebus` alleged close relationship with
Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, no longer mattered -

MELBER: Is it alleged?

FINEMAN: You know what I mean? Because nobody was taking Priebus
seriously. That`s my point.

MELBER: No, I think your point stands. I want to bring in Rick Tyler, who
has advised senators.

Howard makes a couple of important points. One, the gangland style nature
of this. I mean, it is rough and tumble.

TYLER: And classless.

MELBER: And ugly. But two, this is the context of healthcare. In other
words, it`s not just that Scaramucci calls up magazines to do, as Buzzfeed
put it, a Mean Girls style take down of people. It`s also that they
couldn`t get the job done on healthcare this week, although I don`t know
that Priebus would be the one to blame.

TYLER: No. I mean, he was the chief of staff, but he wasn`t chief
legislative liaison. And even though he has a very close relationship with
the speaker, he`s not a legislative policy person. He`s a political guy.

But the question is going to be, who does Scaramucci now report to.

MELBER: The president. It says in the written statement that he reports
to the president.

TYLER: That`s what it was before, but is it now, with Kelly on as chief of
staff. Because if Kelly doesn`t have absolute - I don`t know if Andy Card
is still on - would comment on that.

CARD: I would love to comment on that.

TYLER: He needs absolute authority and it cannot be unclear.

MELBER: Andy, go ahead.

CARD: Gen. Kelly understands what leadership responsibility is. He`s
demonstrated - he`s respected it. He`s respected a chain of command. And
I do believe that he will bring important leadership discipline to the
organization at the White House. And I hope that it includes the reality
that you can`t really serve the president well as a chief of staff if you
are not all informed.

So, people should respect the chief of staff`s responsibilities and role.
And my rule was that the chief of staff should know before, during or after
when a meeting with the president has taken place. Preferably before.
You`d like it to be during because you`d like to be there for many of the
meetings.

But at a minimum, respect the chief of staff`s burden enough to tell the
chief of staff you talked to the president and this is what we talked
about. Then the chief of staff can get on and talk to the president about
whatever it was that that person said to the president.

And I was fortunate to work in a White House, with the president backed me
up on that kind of discipline. He was wonderful at making sure that - it
wasn`t that I was “the gatekeeper” or wouldn`t let people see the
president.

I said if you`re working for the president and you need to see the
president, go see the president. If you want to see the president, you
better not go. It`s got be a real need. And I want to know about it
before, during or after. I`d prefer to know about it before.

RYAN: Well, I think that it`s a nice idea that one, like, disciplined and
kind of order oriented person could right this ship.

I think imagining that somehow Kelly could turn this White House into a
functioning machine is like thinking that you can throw a non-rotten banana
into a pile of rotten bananas and then all of the other bananas are
suddenly not going to be rotten anymore.

I think this White House is not in any -

CARD: That`s a little cruel.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: So, Andy, I`m going to come back to you in a second. Go ahead.

RYAN: At no turn has this White House demonstrated functionality. And I
don`t think that sort of introducing one competent person is going to
change that.

MELBER: Let me bring Andy back in. Andy, Erin Gloria Ryan making the
point that even a very disciplined general can`t personally train someone
if they`re not willing to go to the gym.

So, you may hire the personal trainer and he may be a great personal
trainer, but if you`re still going to tweet at 4 in the morning and not go
to the gym, how does that leave him in a position to bring discipline to
the White House, Andy?

CARD: Well, I`m hoping that - first of all, remember probably the most
disciplined that Donald Trump had in his life was when he went to military
school. So, he may have had a little taste of that as a very young student
and maybe to reflect on the discipline that was at military school and
respect the general that will now be right down the hall, who`ll be
responsible for what happens in the White House and listen to him.

And I hope that Gen. Kelly will introduce him to discipline in a nice way.
Obviously, you want to be the chief of staff that works the way the
president works best. So, you have to accommodate the president`s style,
but that doesn`t mean that you should allow him to be, I`m going to say, so
undisciplined that the impulsive nature of his activities is the norm. You
want that to be the exception.

MELBER: Howard, go ahead.

FINEMAN: All right. Listen to what we`re saying here. We`re now treating
the president of the United States, perhaps appropriately, as a 15-year-old
boy at military school.

And don`t forget that the military mind goes in both directions. Gen.
Kelly (retired) knows who is the commander-in-chief is. And the commander-
in-chief is the president of the United States. And if the president of
the United States says, you know, I want to be able to talk to Anthony
Scaramucci anytime I want to, maybe I`ll let you know, maybe I won`t, he`s
going to go ahead and do that.

I would also say that Kelly has been around the president enough to know
how Donald Trump operates. And I don`t think he`s under any illusions that
that`s going to change.

MELBER: Absolutely. I mean, one more point that I want to place when Paul
Ryan is down here - hold on, hold on, hold on. Andy, I know it`s hard
because he`s on the phone. Andy, hold on one sec.

The issue you raise, Howard, was tested, in that they rolled out a travel
man under this DHS secretary. And it was so fast and so unprofessional and
so unclear with regard to Green Card holders and veterans and foreigners
and Iraqi translators that the whole thing had to be blown up and started
over.

So, there are some test points here where the Donald Trump style has
superseded. Rick Tyler, take a listen, though, to Paul Ryan talking about
his very good friend Reince Priebus and what he hoped would happen earlier
this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I only heard about this. I`m not
sure what the whole interplay is. All I would say is, as you know, Reince
is a very close friend of mine. Reince is doing a fantastic job at the
White House. And I believe he has the president`s confidence.

So, if those two gentlemen have differences, my advice would be to sit down
and settle your differences.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: …remain as chief of staff?

RYAN: I think Reince is doing a great job as chief of staff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TYLER: I don`t think that Reince and the speaker were either talking or he
was protecting him. Reince hasn`t been effectively the chief of staff -
but the - I mean, the whole point I think that Andy was trying to say, and
I won`t put words in his mouth, in a very nice way is hopeless because this
president is not going to change.

He is not going to run on the chain of command. He`s not going to be
disciplined. He`s not going to change the way he does things. And your
example of the rollout on the travel ban was an excellent point to that.
And then the transgender tweet is another point. I mean, it goes on and
on.

MELBER: Let`s look, Erin, at the context. There is the drama. There is
the hate tweets. There is the wannabe fake macho rivalries in this
administration, which clearly look like classic studio gangster behavior.

There`s a distinction here between real gangsters who are tough and studio
gangsters who basically go into the music studio and pretend to be tough.
And there`s all this.

So, if you`re still tough, why don`t you call up Steve Bannon yourself and
say what you have to say instead of calling “The New Yorker” magazine.

TYLER: I would watch this.

FINEMAN: This would be great stuff.

RYAN: We can`t get out of it. And the thing is like, Scaramucci has
actually written a few self-help books, which I have read. Not
recommended.

A couple of them, he mentions that - he kind of positions himself as this
person that learns to be what he wants to be from watching movies and TV
about things.

It`s like a derivative of a derivative of a derivative. So, it`s a guy
trying to be a Wall Street guy that he saw on TV.

MELBER: It sounds like you`re saying he is a synthetic mortgage-backed
security derivative.

RYAN: Right, right.

MELBER: But I was told not to make any derivative jokes.

Howard, I want to put one thing up on the screen and have you respond to
it. So, my point being, there`s all that fake drama and all of that
supposed tough talk. And then there`s the policy failures.

Take a look, the Obamacare votes. This was the whole point in the
strategy. There is the sanctions votes, which are telling the president on
a bipartisan basis, we don`t trust you on Russia.

There is the GOP pushback on all of this. And then you think about Jeff
Sessions, Howard, and Donald Trump being told, you don`t get to name your
own attorney general if you want to replace him. That`s how much
Republicans have stopped trusting him. That`s the policy context for this
week, right?

FINEMAN: Yes. And there`s almost a complete disconnect between actual
legislating and administrating and getting things achieved in the country
and the unbelievable show that we are watching at the White House.

And by the way, Anthony Scaramucci, as you say, studio gangster, is a
mirror image of the man who now seems to be so enamored with him, the
president of the United States.

They`re both on the same reality show wavelength. And I think that`s why
Trump and Scaramucci are currently getting along.

But the question I would ask about healthcare, about sanctions, about tax
policy, about all the things that the president supposedly wants to do, is
John Kelly really going to be the guy to do that? Is John Kelly going to
really be the guy who can get the Hill going, who can really reach out to
leaders on the Hill, not just in the Republican Party, but even in the
Democratic Party.

Maybe he`s got some native skills from Boston, as Andy would probably put
it, that will help him. But you`ve got at the White House now generals who
don`t have - who are political within the context of the military, but
aren`t political.
And you`ve got a bunch of business people, including a bunch of hedge fund
managers - you`ve got hedge fund managers and generals and no political
people to actually run the government and get policy done.

And I`m not sure that this is going to solve any of that. How do they
connect to the Washington that the president either calls the swamp or the
sewer depending on the day. He`s got to find a way to do that.

RYAN: Well, I think what`s really interesting about this whole studio
gangster thing is like, to build on the point that the last guest was
making, that is not the same as making policy.

Like, a studio gangster win might be like an interesting tweet that
everyone responds to. People are crazy about this thing he`s said about
Steve Bannon. But the reality is, that doesn`t accomplish anything, except
this very temporary feeling of victory that is completely hollow and
doesn`t do anything for the American people or this administration.

TYLER: You have to put the failure of this - I think this week is
different. People say Trump said that. But this is the worst week for the
very reasons that the healthcare bill failed because he was supposed to be
the chief persuader of the country to get it done and he squandered that
opportunity.

And the sanctions bill, don`t underestimate, that is the entire US Congress
saying we don`t trust you because they`re taking away a tool that he should
have to negotiate with Putin about whatever he wants to accomplish with
Russia vis-a-vis Crimea, Ukraine, trade, et cetera, and they`ve taken it
off the table.

Putin knows that. It`s a humiliation, yet they had to do it because they
don`t trust him with it.

MELBER: It`s extraordinary, Howard, and it goes to a shift - a shift that
started clearly in the Congress with Republicans on these issues, on
sanctions and on the pushback to the notion of replacing Grassley - excuse
me, replacing sessions and judiciary chairman Grassley saying, we won`t
hold a vote this year.

You`ll be stuck with Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is his
worst nightmare from Russia. And a little later in the hour, we`re going
to talk about the Russia angle of all of this. That was a real rebuke.

And then, Scaramucci comes in and actually those reports today, Trump
“loves what he said” in the vulgar, profane interviews.

FINEMAN: Sure.

MELBER: But how can you score this as anything other than Trump conceding
something is not working when he has to replace the chief, and yet is he
doubling down as he did in the campaign. We`ve seen this cycle before. He
turns to the uber-loyalists.

I mean, he`s not exactly known for having a team of intellectual rivals to
begin with. But when pressed, he turns to the uber-loyalists, the original
people and they go into his deepest instincts.

FINEMAN: Right. He turns either to long-time friends from New York, Gary
Cohn or, in this case that we`ve been talking about, Anthony Scaramucci
because he`s familiar with those New York people.

Or he goes to the military. Don`t forget H.R. McMaster, the national
security advisor, is active duty military. He`s literally in the chain of
command under the commander-in-chief, the president of the United States.

So, sure, Trump looks for those kinds of reassurances, looks for the
loyalty that goes in his direction unquestioningly.

I`ll tell you, the number one thing that any real chief of staff would do
would be to either limit or take away or supervise the president`s
relationship with his most important thing in life, which is his phone and
his Twitter account.

Could that ever happen? Could anybody conceive of that happening? If you
can`t conceive of that happening, then this is going to continue the way it
is.

And I spent most of my time on the Hill this week. The Republicans,
senators and - especially the senators, who view themselves as independent
any way, are getting pretty darn tired of Donald Trump.

They don`t like the way he attacked their former colleague Jeff Sessions.
They`re going to now watch, as I`m sure, Trump is going to distance himself
from and maybe start berating Mitch McConnell.

They`re not going to like it, but they better get used to it because that`s
what the president is going to do.

MELBER: Stay with me. Our breaking coverage is continuing. We are not
going to take a break, but we do have a brand-new statement and the first
official statement from Reince Priebus, who has been ousted as chief of
staff, announced via Twitter.
I want to read to you, our viewers here what Reince Priebus is saying about
this very tumultous day in the Trump White House.

“It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve this president
and our country. I want to thank the president for giving me this very
special opportunity. I`ll continue to serve as a strong support of the
president`s agenda and policies.

And then he continues - and this is a very gracious note of departure - “I
can`t think of a better person than Gen. John Kelly to succeed me and I
wish him God`s blessings and great success.”

Reince Priebus - if you`re just joining us, we`ve been reporting on this
blockbuster news - the most significant staff change in the Trump White
House to date, just over six months in and the chief of staff is out.

President Trump ousting him, announcing it by Twitter, just about 110
minutes ago. My panel stays with me. And joining me now, in addition, is
Kurt Bardella, he`s a former Breitbart new spokesman. He`s worked closely
with Steve Bannon and advised conservative causes.

Kurt, we can definitely benefit from some of your expertise here and we
wanted to bring you in specifically on the question of Steve Bannon`s fate
because Anthony Scaramucci didn`t just say Reince was on the way out and he
didn`t just say he would have a lot of power reporting directly to the
president, he also said really objectionable things about Steve Bannon that
we`re not going to give airtime to.

And basically implied that he had the upper hand. And then, in Breitbart
today, there was interesting pushback. That`s the site that you, of
course, advised that it is sympathetic to Steve Bannon and he used to run,
where they started arguing that this is all becoming the Anthony Scaramucci
show and that that President Trump will be out of the news. That`s the
kind of thing that might upset him.

Walk us through what Breitbart is doing and the future of Steve Bannon in
this context.

KURT BARDELLA, FORMER BREITBART NEWS SPOKESMAN: Well, I think Breitbart is
trying to illustrate really what got Steve in trouble.

Remember, when Steve was on the cover of “Time Magazine,” that`s kind of
when this tension between him and Donald Trump started. Trump was very
vocal and visibly vocal and kind of smacking down Steve, and there was
speculation that Steve may not survive at that point in time just a few
months ago.

And now, Breitbart is trying to illustrate for the president that, hey,
this guy is doing the same thing that got you so upset at Steve, hoping
that that either creates a situation where Trump comes down on Scaramucci
or Scaramucci maybe backed off a little bit in his public attacks of Steve
Bannon.

I think at the end of the day, the reality is, whether it`s Jeff Sessions
or Steve Bannon and, obviously, Reince Priebus, these are people who were
very publicly humiliated by one of their own colleagues, who reports
directly to the president, doesn`t even report directly to the new White
House chief of staff.

This isn`t going to stop. I think Scaramucci is trying to really remove
anybody that he thinks could be an obstacle to his power base. I mean,
it`s very - we`ve heard the analogy of this is so Game of Thrones like, and
these people within the White House build their own fiefdoms, their center
of power.

And when they have the upper hand and they`re kind of the new shiny toy on
the shelf for Donald Trump, they try to use that moment to neutralize
anybody that could be a possible threat to them.

MELBER: And based on your knowledge of Bannon, will he find a way to
wriggle out of this?

BARDELLA: Well, Bannon is a - if anything, he`s a survivor. He`s someone
who will scratch and claw. He`s a street fighter. And we saw already how
he was resilient enough to overcome the previous attempt to try to have him
removed.

And I think - again, the one thing to keep in mind is, while all this is
going on, there`s still this big Russia investigation being conducted. And
as long as that`s the case, Steve made himself instrumental to the
president in leading the messaging, leading the fight back, the pushback,
the aggressive style against that.

And I think the one thing the president is going to keep in mind is that,
as he tries to carve out people - he needs as many people in his boat as he
could possibly keep while this Russia situation is still unfolding.

Kurt, stay with us. For folks who are just joining us here as we approach
6:30 p.m. on the East Coast, I`m Ari Melber. This is THE BEAT.

And we have a breaking news story here, the most significant staff change
in the Trump White House. Six months in, Reince Priebus, the chief of
staff, ousted, replaced by Gen. John Kelly on a week that was really a
parade of horribles for this administration by any outside estimation,
although Donald Trump clearly doubling down with the ones (INAUDIBLE), with
the originals, with the loyalists.

Here, on THE BEAT, we had a very special one-on-one conversation planned
with Ben Smith, a special guest and editor-in-chief of “BuzzFeed” who
recently wrote “the swamp is getting tired of winning,” where a source told
him the establishment has ruled Washington for so long, it`s entrenched and
powerful, it`s proving harder to kill than we envisioned.

But Ben has been a good sport about joining our breaking news panel.

BEN SMITH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BUZZFEED: Nothing like breaking news.

MELBER: Something we both are ruled by. Did you see this coming and what
does it mean to have John Kelly as the chief of staff, but Anthony
Scaramucci acting like a chief of staff?

SMITH: I mean, I think everybody saw this coming. We`ve all seen that
Trump humiliates and berates people for a while until they leave. That
seems like that`s the pattern.

I mean, Kelly is someone he doesn`t know as well and who comes from a
military background and is going to be - I think at least try to operate
totally differently than this sort of inexperienced, freewheeling White
House, although he`s totally inexperienced in running a White House.

MELBER: Andy Card earlier was saying, well, he`s been around Washington.
But your view is that this is a very special role.

SMITH: It`s, obviously, a difficult role for very sophisticated political
operators. But I think you know what Trump has been doing over the last
few weeks is sort of switching from trying to run the government or the
country or even the White House to sort of staging a show and casting and
Anthony Scaramucci is a great - is somebody who I think was working on
getting his own show, maybe head his own show for a little while. And I
think was cast in a role and he`s playing it.

But I think - I saw your previous guest referred to a Game of Thrones, but
this is really like much more the Bachelorette. I mean, this is a reality
show.

Is Reince doing “Hannity” tonight? Usually, like as on the Bachelorette
and ends with sort of the exit interview. But I mean - yes, but I think
the drama has sort of replaced governing.

MELBER: Well, and that goes to a larger question here and I`ll bring back
in the panel with Ben first. Does Donald Trump at this point having
struggled so mightily with creating policy in reality - and we just went
through it - on Russia sanctions, on ObamaCare, on this transgender policy
that he proposed by tweet and then it was announced the military is not
going to take it as policy until they get a lawful order and we haven`t
heard yet any lawful order. Has he moved from giving up on trying to be
America`s Chief Executive and instead is only going to be America`s chief
content officer?

SMITH: I mean, yes. I think - I think right. He`s failing as President,
succeeding in the production of reality show. I mean, it`s incredible
television. I mean, you know, it even supplanted what was going to be a
really fascinating interview with me. But like you know, like - you know,
I mean, it`s totally riveting. Like all your ratings are up. Everybody`s
ratings are up. It`s an incredible show. Now I guess the question is
like, you know, this is the country that wants the bachelorette. Maybe
that`s - maybe that`s what people voted for and want to get reelected on.

MELBER: Well, and this (INAUDIBLE) was saying earlier. And I watch TV, I
participate in TV sometimes. I`m not against TV but speaking, if I may be
so idealistic, speaking as a citizen, if Ben is right about that theory,
that makes me really sad.

ERIN GLORIA RYAN, SENIOR EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, and also, you know,
to your bachelorette point, disagree, I think it`s definitely Game of
Thrones but not in a macho way. It`s like Game of Thrones because like
that show is about a bunch of people fighting over stupid garbage while
this massive existential threat looms over them and threatens to eliminate
all of them. That they could unite and take on together but that they`re
actually going to be overcome by because they`re so focused on grappling
for individual power. That seems a lot more analogous to what we`re seeing
right now than like, oh you get a rose and you cry in the car but then
you`re fine and you come back and gets (INAUDIBLE) on the reunion show.

MELBER: Howard, go ahead.

FINEMAN: Well, I was just going to say that to try to put a little
possible substance into the reality show theme that we`re focusing on right
here. I think substantively by picking General Kelly who comes from the
Department of Homeland Security, don`t forget. Donald Trump is going to
double down on both the theater and the reality of his anti-them campaign.
The immigrants, the terrorist threat, I think in terms of what happens on
the streets of America, it`s quite possible that what Donald Trump is
saying, yes, we`ll have this theater back in Washington but the way I`m
going to make myself popular, the way I`m going to get things done is I`m
going to be the tough cop on the street when it comes to immigration and
terrorism.

That they`re really going to focus on that because that`s something that as
Commander in Chief and as the Head of the government, he can do a lot with
executive power and not even worry about or even think about the normal
process of legislating and so forth. This is what autocratic - this is
what people with an autocratic mentality do. They focus on law
enforcement. They focus on invaders, they focused on foreigners. And that
is substantive, that`s not a laughing matter in part of what`s going to
happen here.

MELBER: No it`s not a laughing matter and it`s easy to forget in the news
cycles Ben, but this Scaramucci tear began with him his falsely accusing
Reince of a felony. I should note as a lawyer that the false accusation of
a crime is itself per say slander. So when you total it all up, the only
person who came close to breaking the law this week based on the public
evidence was Scaramucci, not Reince. But he immediately echoed the boss to
Howard`s point with the idea that Justice Department is there to go after
leakers and anyone who disagrees with them.

SMITH: Right. And I think you know, when things - there is a way for
things and the leak investigation could, to cross from the non-sense
theater into ruining people`s lives. I do think that as Howard said, the
one - Trump has been unable to predict power apparently because he doesn`t
stand for anything. He doesn`t know what his views are and has no core
principles on things like health care. And so, nobody - so when he says go
do my bidding, nobody knows what that means. The one exception to that is
immigration where he clearly - where he`s basically said to ICE take off
the gloves. They know where he`s coming from, they know he -

RYAN: Yes but he`s antagonizing Session who is like always been such a
tough voice in line with Donald Trump`s anti-immigration stance. So that
also kind of contributes to the (INAUDIBLE) of all of this. It doesn`t
make any sense what`s happening right now, it doesn`t make any sense. And
I think, you know, talking about substance versus like kind of a humorous
like removal from this situation. So then the only way to deal with this
is to take a step back and not see how horrible it is for like a second.
But this is really serious and people`s lives are hanging in the balance
and the future of the American Democracy.

MELBER: Right, and this all comes at an inflection point for the ongoing
investigation. Our panel stays with me as part of our breaking coverage
though. We have Richard Painter, a former White House Ethics Lawyer for
Bush 43, Michael Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent from Yahoo!
News. Michael, do you see the staff shakeup and the pressures on the Trump
White House as relating to the ongoing Russia inquiry?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: Well,
certainly to some extent, it`s the Russia inquiry that has inflamed
President Trump, has caused him to lash out at members of his staff. So to
some extent, you know, Priebus has gotten the brunt of it. Although I
suspect the failure to pass a health care bill is probably part of that,
probably a bigger part of it. I should say also, you know, this is a day
after Congress pass this Russia Sanctions legislation which is really
ironic because - I mean, first of all, it`s the one major piece of
legislation that Congress has passed and it`s the one thing President Trump
did not want to have on his desk. So there`s an irony there. And then if
you go back to the Russia investigation, what started it all at least as
far as White House conduct is concerned, it was the firing of Mike Flynn
because he had assured the Russian Ambassador Kislyak that sanctions would
be revisited and possibly lifted once President Trump took office and then
he misled Vice President Pence about it. So what`s the major thing that
get accomplished in the Trump Presidency, Congress passes a legislation
that locks in those very sanctions that Flynn was talking about lifting?

MELBER: Right. I mean, you capture perfectly because we`ve been doing a
lot of theatrical comparisons here to help us understand it. I mean,
Michael, what you`re describing is the Trump administration trying to tell
the Russians, we can ease up on you and the collective bipartisan power of
the United States Government because this is still a multi-prong Democracy
saying no which is like the scene in the wire when he says, you want it to
be one way and it`s the other way. And that`s what the Congress basically
told President Trump. He doesn`t get to exercise as much foreign policy
power as every other President has. Talk about humiliating, in some way
that`s more humiliating than all of the mean tweets but it`s only
substantively humiliating. Richard Painter, you have been an outspoken
critic of the way this White House has run from the beginning. You have
suggested at times that there is an ethics cloud and potential at times a
criminal question hanging over this White House, your views, Sir, of this
rather dramatic Friday afternoon ousting of Donald Trump`s Chief of Staff?

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER: Well, I think that
Kelly is a serious person. The problem that he`s dealing with is there a
lot of people in the White House who are not taking their jobs seriously.
People who are lying publicly in the most ridiculous manner and the
President himself is tweeting all sorts of things. And quite frankly, he
doesn`t know what policy he wants. He just want a health care bill with
his name on it. I suggest that the Democrats ought to propose - put a bill
through with a universal health care single payer and call it the Donald
Trump Makes America Great Act and he`d probably sign it. It`s about the
President`s ego rather than the clear plan for moving forward. And that is
not the way to run a White House. Now you know, I think that General Kelly
is a man with experience and understands rules and importance of rules and
obeying the rules, so I hope there`s a new attitude here. And with respect
to the Russia investigation, what they ought to let it alone. Let Bob
Mueller do his job, stop tweeting about it, stop commenting about it, stop
insulting Muller and his staff, let them do their job, stop lying about
contacts with the Russians and -

MELBER: Well, let me ask you this Richard, do you - Richard, do you think
that General Kelly can get the President to stop tweeting about the ongoing
investigation?

PAINTER: Well, I think he ought to give it - give it a good try because
that has just makes it worse and worse every time the President jumps into
this Russia thing and starts tweeting about it and calling it fake news.
It`s making it much worse. It, of course, puts it in the news cycle. It`s
the President himself who puts the Russia investigation in the news cycle.
If he just climb up about it and the rest of the White House Staff, it
would probably the next story when Bob Mueller has an announcement to make.
But no, he keeps tweeting and we keep talking about it in news. So, I
think that General Kelly ought to give it a shot at least to persuade the
President to act professionally, focus on his policy priorities I he has
any policy priorities and do his job and the others in the White House too.
I think there`s a lot of people that might have to get fired to make this a
professional White House.

MELBER: I`m being told here in our news room - this is developing story -
I`m being told that the White House has now put forward a brand new
statement we`re about to air for the first time which has a rather
remarkable factual claim. This is Sarah Huckabee Sanders moments ago, take
a listen. Can I get a -

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: - about this started
with the President and Reince about two weeks ago in terms of timing. I
know everybody has a lot of questions on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Let`s - you know what, let`s just play that if we can one more
time because I think the context is her saying this entire firing occur or
began occurring weeks ago. But I want to make sure we have that right.
Let`s listen again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: The conversations about this started with the President and
Reince about two weeks ago in terms of timing. I know everybody has a lot
of questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This has nothing to do with Anthony Scaramucci?

SANDERS: No, it doesn`t.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any change for Steve Bannon?

SANDERS: I`m sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When did you find out about the decision?

SANDERS: Guys we`re not going into all of the processes. I`ve given you
all I have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I want to make sure we get that right in fairness to the White
House and to our viewers. Howard Fineman, that is an assertion there,
brand new that the conversation is about this with Reince began two weeks
ago.

FINEMAN: It was all part of the orderly, slow stately march of events at
the White House. I agree with what Ben said which is that - you know,
Reince Priebus has been on a short timer for months, if not from the day he
was sworn in. He didn`t have the President`s confidence this part because
of what happened with the campaign. He was seen as a Washington insider
and by the way, not that effective one anyway. So this - do they - I think
there`s been times all through the first six months where the President has
been on the verge of telling Reincey to get lost, to get out. It didn`t
happen. Whether they broach the topic a few weeks ago, it`s quite possible
but I don`t think it was final and for sure, and impossible to avoid
anymore or now is the time to do it when the - when the health care bill
came down. Because as long as the health care bill was still a
possibility, there was some, perhaps, residual value in having Priebus
around because of his relationship to Paul Ryan, because the bill would
have to go back to the House, he have to massage the House and Ryan would
be important to that. Once the bill went down, there was no reason left to
keep him, none whatsoever and there have been very little before that.

TYLER: Well, the President had been asking donors and advisors about you
know, do you like Reince? Should we place him - that`s been going on since
the very beginning. But here`s the - here`s the things that the new Chief
of Staff I don`t think is going to be able to solve. One is, we were told
through the campaign that Donald Trump had a set of skills, that he was a
deal maker, that he can make deals with Congress and everybody believed
that, and he can make the foreign policy deals. It turns out revealed this
week, he doesn`t have those skills. He literally does not have the skills
to bring people on board to get behind a piece of legislation and the whole
process bores him.

MELBER: Do you think he knew he didn`t have those skills or thought -

TYLER: I think Donald Trump thinks he`s the best at everything. The
second thing that was revealed hits week is Donald Trump`s base was absent.
Where were the rallies, you know, repeal and replace healthcare? Where
were the marches? Where were all the calls to the members of Congress that
you got to repeal healthcare? They didn`t exist. And finally, it reveals
how dysfunctional Donald Trump is as a CEO or a manager.

MELBER: Ben Smith, I want to read to you a Donald Trump tweet.

SMITH: Oh, please.

MELBER: But curveball.

SMITH: That`s why we watch television, Ari.

MELBER: Curveball -

SMITH: Tweet speaks aloud.

MELBER: Curveball it`s an old one. Donald Trump, 2012. Three Chiefs of
Staff in less than three years of being President part of the reason Obama
can`t pass his agenda.

SMITH: It is - I mean, one of the wonders of 2017 that there`s no hold
Donald Trump tweet for every moment. There ought to be like a calendar.
The - I mean, I think you know, one thing I would say is that this is - I
mean, this was also how he ran his campaign. There was constant
infighting, constant leaks, (INAUDIBLE) you know, constant turnover of
senior staff and then fighting and drama. And I think it was way to - I
mean, really maybe the apprentice is the right analogy. But I think Donald
Trump is incredibly good at monopolizing attention. And that that has been
the goal and it just not turn out to be a good way to get things done.

MELBER: As part of our breaking coverage, I`m happy to say my colleague,
Chuck Todd, managing out of “MEET THE PRESS” and host of “MEET THE PRESS
DAILY” joins our special coverage. Chuck, what have we learned both about
what Donald Trump thinks, of how things are going given this change, and
what is now (INAUDIBLE) out of the White House which is a suggestion that
they had been at work at this for some time.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Look, this is acknowledgement that he knew it
wasn`t working. That he knew that for whatever reason and, you know, you
can make an argument that it was President Trump that was preventing Reince
Priebus from being – from being able to actually be Chief of Staff. I
mean – and, you know, there has always been some question, did he ever
actually get empowered to do the job that he was appointed to? But look,
you`ve got to say on paper, this is a very traditional Washington way to
react to a bad period. I think you can look at it in this way, it`s an
acknowledge that it wasn`t working. He`s on his second Chief of Staff,
second Communications Director, second Press Secretary, second National
Security Adviser, second Deputy White House Chief of Staff and it`s day
189.

MELBER: Wow.

TODD: So, that is an acknowledgement that what – it wasn`t working. But
let`s give him credit here. If you think about Donald Trump`s orbit of
people – and at the end of the day, he`s got to appoint somebody he`s
familiar with. I – somebody addressed this question to me about three
weeks ago, who is the – who is sort of the calming big name, gravitas,
Washington man or woman that could calm things down? You know, Bill
Clinton, after the Mack McLarty, brought in Leon Panetta, I believe. It
was that and then Erskine Bowles sort of people that were there to sort of
reassure Washington at that moment in time. After things were going south
with George W. Bush, he brought in both Josh Bolten and Ed Gillespie, and
it sort of calmed the waters, at least, a little bit with some in Congress.

And it wasn`t obvious who Donald Trump could turn to. We know he wasn`t
enamored with the – with the – with the Republican establishment. John
Kelly makes a lot of sense. And the President clearly does listen more to
generals than any other political entity in this town. But ultimately,
whether John Kelly succeeds is going to be based on whether the President
empowers him to succeed. You know, does Jared Kushner report to the
President or to John Kelly? Does Anthony Scaramucci report to the
President or John Kelly? And does Gary Cohen report to the President or
John Kelly? You know, does H.R. McMaster report to the President or John
Kelly?

And ultimately, I think that`s going to be the test of whether can – did
John Kelly get those assurances going in? Can he bring his own staffers
with him? That`s also another thing we don`t know yet. So, I think on
paper, this is the right potential call for him in order to sort of turn
the page but it only will work if he empowers him.

MELBER: And I hate to boil it down too much. But when you look at this
week, did Reince Priebus lose or did Anthony Scaramucci win?

TODD: I guess – look, Reince – I never thought – I never figured out
how Reince Priebus was ever going to win in any of these situations. I
mean, the President was almost, I mean, my gosh, there`s a – I`m sure you
guys have been discussing this but there was a – there`s already been one
source, The Wall Street Journal was reporting that apparently the President
was disappointed that Reince didn`t even fight back with Scaramucci during
this bizarre feud, public feud that went this week, which is as one for –
in some ways, very Trumpian, right? You know, that it`s something that we
know this President – he respects somebody who`s willing to fight back
sometimes more than somebody who wants to sweep stuff under the rug. But I
guess you could say Scaramucci won, but did he? I mean, I think he wanted
to be Chief of Staff, ultimately.

MELBER: Right. He did.

TODD: So, you know – so, let`s just say, yes, Priebus lost but, you know,
Scaramucci survived. How about that?

MELBER: What is what I want to do, Chuck, stay with me. Panel, stay with
me. I want to bring in Kristen Welker to talk to me in short for a moment
here about what we`re hearing at the White House.

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I think
this is a moment of discord and division here and there`s a hope that this
is going to be a reset, to some extent, in talking to officials here behind
the scenes. There has been a sense for some time that Reince Priebus was
on his way out, that the President was not satisfied with not only his
fighting sense this week but his leadership abilities more broadly,
particularly when it comes to some of the President`s legislative goals
like health care. And that health care defeat last night, I am told, was
really the death nail for Reince Priebus.

But I think that there is still a lot of concern here about, well, what
happens next to the point that Chuck was making, who will effectively be
answering to the Chief of Staff? Will Anthony Scaramucci be answering to
him or to the President? Right now, it seems like he has a direct line to
the President. And there is a lot of frustration about Anthony
Scaramucci`s comments this week about, the extent to which he targeted the
President`s top officials. And what you have are a lot of other people
here watching their back, which is not a productive way to work.

MELBER: Targeted? I mean, Kirsten – Kirsten, I`m not putting you on the
spot for your own view, but do people within the White House feel that this
complete decorum busting set of attacks is being rewarded? How else could
one interpret it?

WELKER: Right. There`s no doubt about that. There are some here who feel
as though that type of language, that type of behavior, those type of
tactics shouldn`t be tolerated. The question is, how does the President
feel? It is my sense that he`s OK with it. And that there are some people
here who are sort of brushing aside what we saw from Anthony Scaramucci,
others who are laughing it off. But there is a group of people here that`s
quite concerned about the fact that it`s being tolerated, and to some
extent, endorsed. And so, will John Kelly be able to put a lid on that
type of behavior?

I think the other thing to watch moving forward, Ari, is this, the
President likes the type of bravado that we`ve seen in Anthony Scaramucci
but he doesn`t like it when someone gets out ahead of him, becomes too big
of a star, if you will. And so, I think that could potentially be a
challenge for the new Communications Director to walk that fine line
between being outspoken but at the same time, not overshadow him when it
comes to making headlines. He has been in the headlines a lot this week,
he headlines have been about him and not necessarily the President. I
think that`s going to be a challenge for him moving forward, and certainly,
something that we`ll be paying close attention to, Ari.

MELBER: Fascinating and another busy Friday night at the White House,
Kirsten Welker. Thanks for joining us here on THE BEAT. Erin Gloria Ryan,
you were – you were nodding your head.

RYAN: Well, I was just, you know, agreeing with what Kristen was saying.
We don`t know what`s going to happen, none of us know what`s going to
happen. We`re all just trying to guess based on the past. But here`s what
we know about the way that Trump has run the White House in the past, we`re
using words like street fighting, Game of Thrones, brawling, gangsters.
These people are focusing on this very pugnacious interaction. Like this
idea that Reince didn`t fight back hard enough and that`s somehow made
Donald Trump mad, it`s ridiculous. If you ran a clothing store like that,
your clothing store would go out of business, much less the world`s biggest
super power like that. It`s really disconcerting, just as an American,
even removed from my place in the media, to see this happening. It`s
horrifying.

MELBER: Ben, do you buy that?

SMITH: There`s a broad disconnect, though, between the (INAUDIBLE)
machismo playing out inside the White House. And really, just the weakness
of the administration, like, they are not able to project power. And they
did the – you know, they have no foreign policy, they can`t get basic
things through Congress.

RYAN: They`re costplaying power, that`s what they`re doing.

SMITH: Yes. But meanwhile, Congress spits on their – in their face
yesterday on the most importantly, you know, piece of foreign policy
legislation, the Russia sanctions. And I think, like, there`s a strange
gap between like their anger and all their bravado, that`s all directed
inward and just the total inability to get things done.

MELBER: Well, it`s in order. Michael Isikoff, it`s inward and it`s always
about them. People can debate whether it is a reprieve or not that the
health care bill was voted so dramatically down by John McCain early this
morning. But it certainly was not pushed over the line by a White House
Communications Director who could only talk about himself and other people
who work in the White House. To say nothing of the fact that he is worth
$40 million, trying to figure out, you know, his sale of his company, and
he`s attacking Bannon who`s worth between $20 and $50 million and they`re
all talking about each other, and not about health care.

ISIKOFF: Yes. Look, I mean, there are core questions about just the
functioning of the government here, just to state the obvious. The
President now doesn`t have a Homeland Security Secretary. In fact, it`s
not even clear who the acting secretary is going to be. There`s no issue
more central to his agendas than immigration. DHS is the department in
charge of implementing that agenda. He has already got a beleaguered
Attorney General in limbo. So, I mean, just in terms of central questions
about having a functional government, you know, it seems to me, if
anything, those are even amplified this evening.

MELBER: On that, some news updates here that I will share and we can
digest, Michae Isikoff, you mentioned DHS, reporter Shane Harris saying he
spoke with DHS spokesperson who says the department has “no guidance on who
is now the acting Secretary of Homeland Security.” A discussion earlier in
the hour about law and order and domestic security. It seems at this hour,
five minutes to 7:00 p.m., that is an unknowable, which is an issue if, god
forbid, something of a national security disaster level incident occurred
and you didn`t have that acting person.

Number two, reporter Tara Palmeri quoting an anonymous White House
official, and I`m not sure why, what I`m about to read you should
necessitate anonymity. But Anthony Scaramucci still reports directly to
POTUS, not new Chief of Staff Kelly. Now, because there`s so much White
House talk about leaks, Richard Painter, maybe you can walk us through how
that works because that would seem to be an anonymous leak. We don`t know
whether that`s Anthony Scaramucci saying that or not, Richard.

PAINTER: That`s probably him making it very clear that he has a direct
report to the President, which is unusual. Usually the Chief of Staff,
people report to the Chief of Staff. And this sets us up for a situation.
We`re going to have warring camps inside the White House once again. It`s
a very disorderly situation. They also need to stop talking like
gangsters. I mean, the language they`re using, you know, belongs on the
Sopranos or something like that. This is a professional operation; it`s
supposed to be in the White House.

There should be a command structure, where people are reporting to the
Chief of Staff and they`re coordinating their policy. They`re focusing on
communications when they need to make communications, telling the truth,
not repeatedly lying to the American people on the White House lawn. I`m
going to say once again, I think that Kelly – if General Kelly is going to
do a good job here, he`s got to fire a lot of people, or at least get a lot
of people to stop talking to the media because they`re making fools of
themselves. And we`re not just talking about the President himself.

MELBER: Right. And Kurt Bardella, I just want to – as we digest all of
this here, as the hour comes to a close, look at all of the people who have
been ousted within these first six months, National Security Adviser,
Michael Flynn, FBI Director, Jim Comey, Press Secretary, Sean Spicer,
although, in an awkward twist, he was still working today, helping get out
the word about all of this stuff including Reince Priebus, his former boss
and a long-time ally from the RNC, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and
privately counsel Marc Kasowitz, the very dramatic lawyer who was brought
in and brought out of Russia. Kurt, from your time around Breitbart in the
conservative ecosystem, was this the expectation for how Donald Trump would
manage?

BARDELLA: No. I think that they believed that upon taking office that
they would be able to go gangbusters and be wildly successful, and all the
things that they`ve tried to do and have failed miserably on, they thought
that they would happen very quickly and very easily. And now, I think that
can serve as circles. I mean, really, the most, I think, important thing
that happened this week really in that world was to fight with Jeff
Sessions, where it put them squarely in the middle. Where for the first
time, you had conservatives and conservative publications and commentators
having to criticize the President, who they have bent over backwards to try
to defend every single thing that he has done that`s been awful. They were
actually put in the middle and had to criticize the President for the first
time.

Breitbart was putting up stories talking about how Jeff Sessions has been a
hero and an ally. It was an unusual dynamic that might have represented
the first real splintering. And I think everything that`s happened in the
last 72 hours shows that there are also that Donald Trump might just start
turning on everybody. And that for people in Congress, they are very
concerned that now Trump is just going to go gangbusters and attack them
because the one thing, the one person was standing in between the House
Republican Conference and the Senate Republican Congress was Reince
Priebus, and now, that`s been removed. And slowly over time, we`re seeing
Donald Trump remove people that might have been willing to walk into the
Oval Office and saying no to him and he`s fired them all or (INAUDIBLE)

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Right. And give some context, Erin Gloria Ryan, I want to get
your final thoughts as you look at this rather telling comparison for first
chief of staff in other administrations than Donald Trump, 842 days for
Rahm was considered fast at the time, far more for Bush there, 1900. This
change at the top coming this fast, 190 days.

RYAN: Yes. Well, for, you know, Donald Trump is a person who`s obsessed
with size. He loves to talk about things being big crowd size, number
size, whatever. And those numbers don`t lie. They`re just – his numbers
are smaller than the other numbers and that is indicative of some very deep
problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reince just never fit in culturally with this – with
this White House. And I suspect you`re going to see more mini-mes like
Scaramucci than you will Reince Priebuses in the future.

MELBER: It is a – it is a striking day after a striking week. The big
stories, health care, Russia, a boy scout appearance that was unrivaled, an
attempted ban on the men and women who served the Armed Service who
happened to be transgender and apparently, it withdrawn after the tweet or
at least not acted upon, and we close with the report we had in our hour
that there is no information on who is the acting head of the DHS. But
that does it for THE BEAT. I hope you have a great weekend. I`ll be back
Monday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern if you want to rejoin. And keep it locked at
MSNBC because “HARDBALL” starts right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump to Priebus, you`re fired. Let`s play HARDBALL.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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