MTP Daily, Transcript 7/21/2017

Guests:
Ruth Marcus, Matthew Continetti, Dan Balz, Joshua Green, Peter Alexander, Peter Baker, Rosalind Helderman, Nathaniel Persily
Transcript:

Show: MTP DAILY
Date: July 21, 2017
Guest: Ruth Marcus, Matthew Continetti, Dan Balz, Joshua Green, Peter
Alexander, Peter Baker, Rosalind Helderman, Nathaniel Persily

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: That does it for this hour. I`m Nichole
Wallace. “MTP DAILY” starts right now with Katy Tur in for Chuck. Hi,
Katy. You`ve had a long day.

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nichole. I`m ready for my vacation which starts

WALLACE: I`m sure.

TUR: – in one hour. But until then, if it is Friday, what we`ve got here
is a failure to communicate.

(voice-over): Tonight, Sean Spicer steps down as White House press
secretary as Sarah Huckabee Sanders officially steps in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, U.S. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He understood
that the president wanted to bring in and add new people to the team.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: And another long time Trump ally steps up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, DIRECTOR, U.S. WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS: If you want
to eat an elephant, you`ve got to eat it one bite at a time, and Sarah and
I are going to do that together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: How will Anthony Scaramucci change the messaging out of the Oval
Office?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCARAMUCCI: It has been a very successful life experience for President
Trump to be President Trump. Let`s let him do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Plus, the palace intrigue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCARAMUCCI: I don`t have any friction with Sean. I don`t have any
friction are Reince.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: How is it all shaking out across the borders of the west wing?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCARAMUCCI: We are a little bit like brothers where we rough each other
one once in a while which is totally normal for brothers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: And pardon me, does the president believe he has the power to pardon
himself?

This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.

(on camera): Good evening, I`m Katy Tur in New York in for Chuck Todd.
Welcome to MTP DAILY.

We begin tonight with chaos at the White House. Press Secretary Sean
Spicer had has quit so has the spokesman for Mr. Trump`s personal legal
team.

The president said yesterday that he maybe should never have hired his
attorney general.

And a constitutional crisis may be brewing as the president looks for ways
to potentially discredit or block Bob Mueller`s metastasizing
investigation.

This afternoon, the White House`s brand-new communications director,
Anthony Scaramucci, tried to pull off a reset of epic proportions on his
first day at the podium.

When he spoke with reporters today on camera, he made it clear that his
mission is to let Trump be Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCARAMUCCI: I think we`re – I think we`re doing an amazing job. The
president, himself, is always going to be the president.

I was in the Oval Office with him earlier today, and we were talking about
letting him be himself, letting him express his full identity. I think
he`s got some of the best political instincts in the world, and perhaps in
history.

When you think about it, he started his political assent two and two – two
years and two months ago, and he`s act – he`s done a phenomenal job for
the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: This White House arguably need today`s reset because no one there has
been able to effectively restrain this president`s impulses.

Scaramucci insisted that the White House is on course. It isn`t. He said
the president is beloved. He`s not. He said there`s truth to the
president`s claims of massive voter fraud. There are not.

And he claimed there`s no friction between him and Sean Spicer. Even
though our reporting indicates his hire is why Spicer is leaving.

But with answers like those and like this, it isn`t hard to see why the
president likes this guy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCARAMUCCI: I`ve seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire. I`ve
seen him at Madison Square Garden with a top coat on. He`s standing in the
key and he`s hitting foul shots and swishing them. OK, he sinks three-foot
putts.

I don`t see this guy as a guy that`s ever under siege. This is a very,
very competitive person. Obviously, there`s a lot of incoming that comes
into the White House.

But the president`s a winner, OK, and what we`re going to do is we`re going
to do a lot of winning.

TUR: Scaramucci would not answer questions about the president`s
escalating attacks on Special Counsel Bob Mueller. This comes after “The
New York Times” and “The Washington Post” had separate reports that the
White House has begun to investigate the investigators.

They`re looking for potential conflicts of interest to use against Special
Counsel Robert Mueller and his team to sully their work or, perhaps, build
the case to have Mueller fired.

“The Washington Post” reports that President Trump asked his advisers about
his power to pardon aides, family members and, potentially, himself in
connection with the probe.

Today, the president`s outside counsel, John Dowd, called “The Post”
reporting, quote, “nonsense.” He also insisted that his legal team is not
trying to discredit Mueller`s work. But in some White House – but some in
the White House, they sure seem like they are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELER, PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: A lot of conflicts.
And, look, I think that`s in – that`s information that the public should
have, Maria.

MARIA BARTIROMO, ANCHOR, FOX BUSINESS NEWS: Yes.

CONWAY: They should at least know transparency, accountability, who are
these folks, the money they donated, the conflicts they may have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Newly named White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said
today that she has no reason to doubt that the president has confidence in
Mueller and his investigation – has lost confidence, I should say.

[17:05:10] Even though the president, just two days ago, attacked Mueller`s
credibility in an interview with “The New York Times.”

But here we are, once again, in totally uncharted waters.

If, and, yes, it is a big if, but if the president is serious about
threatening Mueller`s investigation, and if he`s serious about rendering
Mueller powerless by pardoning anyone implicated, and if his communications
chief is going to encourage this president`s brash impulses, then what real
consequences will he face? What would the Republican Congress do, if
anything?

And if we`re veering towards a constitutional crisis that pits Mueller
against Trump, whose side are they going to be on?

Let`s bring in some people who have been following all of the developments,
NBC`s Peter Alexander from the White House, Peter Baker; Chief White House
Correspondent for “The New York Times,” he interviewed the president this
week; and Rosalind Helderman, Political Investigations Reporter at “The
Washington Post.”

Peter, let us start with you. How did we get up to this point? Bring us
behind the scenes of the White House.

PETER ALEXANDER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Assuming Peter means
Peter Alexander versus Peter Baker, –

TUR: Yes, it does, it does, it does.

ALEXANDER: I`ll take this one and defer to my colleague at the New York
Times in just a moment.

I think the bottom line here is that today, sort of, punctuated what was an
escalating feud that existed between different factions associated and
around this president.

Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus, frankly, were very upset. They have, for
weeks, expressed their dissatisfaction with the idea of Anthony Scaramucci
even joining this team.

It, sort of, came to a conclusion today with Spicer basically at that 10:00
meeting that took place in the Oval Office where Scaramucci was there. And
he offered the job, accepted the job.

Sean Spicer had said it was a job he didn`t think Scaramucci, in effect,
was ready for. He had no communications experience.

And Spicer was, frankly, concerned about what his own status would be in
this system going forward.

So, what it does, though, is it quickly shifts the narrative here, in terms
of the wrapping paper, who`s, sort of, delivering the message of the day.

But what it`s unable to fix, Katy, is their ability to, sort of, come up
with a singular message and the stick to it which has been the challenge
that has existed. It`s a fundamental challenge for this White House, which
is coming up with the product that the messaging team, the communications
team is supposed to be delivering.

So, while today a lot of the focus will be on the smoothness, –

TUR: Yes.

ALEXANDER: – the capability (ph), as it were, of Anthony Scaramucci, the
bottom line here is the fundamentals did not change. And what remains to
be seen is how truthful Anthony Scaramucci and his teammates will be, as
they try to represent the president going forward. And, frankly, whether
he`ll allow them to speak on his own behalf.

TUR: Peter Alexander at the White House. Peter, thank you very much.

Let`s go to Peter Baker and Rosalind. Peter Baker, talk about whether or
not this president realizes that even the idea of floating around whether
he could pardon himself could be potentially extraordinarily problematic
for his reception for his – for his dealings with the Congress?

Even there were some Republicans today that said, you know, if he tries to
fire Bob Mueller, he`s going to have a serious problem on Capitol Hill, and
that`s not just with the Democrats.

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: Yes, I
know, that`s exactly right. I think Mike McCaul, the Republican
Congressman, was on Andrea Mitchell earlier today –

TUR: Yes, exactly.

BAKER: – on your – on your channel saying exactly that. That`s a pretty
stark message from a sitting Republican member of Congress.

And I think that is one of the red lines right now that many members in
Congress have set, at least in their own minds. Whether they would do
something in that eventuality, we don`t know.

There have been a lot of lines crossed, I think, in this administration so
far, things that have been done that aren`t normally done by most
presidents.

But, you know, whether he would pardon himself, I mean, you know, we don`t
know whether this – how serious this was.

TUR: Yes.

BAKER: You know, he`s been characterized as just, sort of, out loud
thinking, what are – what are the rules? How did it work? You know,
curiosity.

What President Trump doesn`t understand it seems like is that when a
president asks questions, it is seen as being serious whether it is or not.
We can sit around the water cooler and say, hey, how does that work?
What`s the deal with that? What`s the – what`s the limit of a pardon
power? And it doesn`t really matter very much.

When a president asks, even in a casual way, it`s taken as a signal. It`s
taken as a sign. And it is, in fact, sending a message across town right
now that`s not being well received.

TUR: Rosalind, the installation of Anthony Scaramucci, how much does that
change the dynamic and does it affect how the White House deals with this
ballooning Russia problem?

ROSALIND HELDERMAN, POLITICAL INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER, “THE WASHINGTON
POST”: Well, you heard Scaramucci get asked a question about that in his
first briefing today. And he said, you know, I haven`t been briefed yet by
the White House counsel`s office about how to handle questions like that,
and so I`m not going to answer that.

And I think that is, in fact, the answer the lawyers would probably advice
that he give from that podium. They have been trying and trying over the
last few weeks to divide the whole Russia investigation out into the – you
know, give it to – full responsibility to the president`s personal legal
team and take it out of the White House.

[17:10:09] And the reason they have not been able to do that, so far, is
the president, himself, who keeps talking about it again and again,
including in that amazing interview with Peter earlier this week.

TUR: Yes. And, Peter, let`s talk about that interview. When you were
talking to him in the Oval Office what was your sense of him, at that time?
Is this a man who feels like he`s under siege? Is he a man that feels like
his message is not getting out there? Does he understand the darkening
cloud above him?

BAKER: No, this is not a person who seemed like he had a dark cloud over
him. He – when we saw him in the Oval Office, he had just come from lunch
with the Republican senators. He talked about how to revive a health care
bill that most everybody else thinks is dead.

But he seemed in a very relaxed, upbeat mood. He talked about the economy
doing well, the markets doing well. He did not look like a person who was
at 36 percent in the polls and he did not seem beleaguered.

However, once we raised the Russia question, and, of course, we`re going to
do that, you know, he had some very sharp things to say. It wasn`t like
some of the public statements that are very fiery.

But what he did talk about with his attorney general, with the former FBI
director, with the current acting FBI director, the deputy attorney general
and, most importantly, perhaps, Robert Mueller were very sharp things to
say. And I can`t remember any president saying them quite as starkly as
this one has.

TUR: And so, the president, himself, always feels like he`s his best
messenger. And Anthony felt – said today that, ultimately, Donald Trump`s
instincts politically have been right on the mark. Donald Trump knew what
he was doing in the campaign when he was trying to discredit anybody who
criticized him.

Rosalind, is this the same thing that he`s doing with Robert Mueller, just
trying to at the very least say that no conflicts of interest are found,
conflicts that would, you know, necessitate the need to oust him? At the
very least is all – is what he is trying to do, does it boil down to,
let`s discredit him so my base won`t believe him if he comes back with
negative findings?

HELDERMAN: It certainly does feel like that and as well as laying a
groundwork for, sort of, leaving options open for the future, including
potentially making a move against him.

Now, I know he has said many times, I think he said it to Peter this week,
that he does not plan to ask for Mueller to be relieved of his duties. But
it`s worth noting that in the Department of Justice regulations that set up
the special counsel, one of the reasons – one of the only reasons a
special counsel can be dismissed under those regulations is conflict of
interest.

So, all of this research they`re doing about possible conflicts by Bob
Mueller or his team, you know, one way to look at it is potentially laying
the groundwork for making a move against him.

TUR: So, Peter, what`s next? Anthony Scaramucci is in. Sean Spicer
resigns. He doesn`t say it`s in protest, but our reporting says he resigns
because Scaramucci was brought in. Who`s the next to go?

BAKER: Yes, that`s a great question. A lot of eyes today on Reince
Priebus for the very reasons you`ve already talked about. He didn`t
particularly like this appointment. And it`s now been made over his
objection that that`s a pretty untenable position for a chief of staff to
be in.

But, you know, look, people have been writing Reince Priebus` political
obituary for months and they`ve been wrong. So, I – you know, be careful
about making any predictions, especially in this White House.

But it does feel like it`s a staff right now that`s on edge. You know,
people we`ve talked to inside talk about, sort of, the poisonous
atmosphere, the tribes that exist inside the west wing, how surprised and
even disappointed that they are that a team that they felt had been pretty
unified, to some extent at least during the campaign, now is so driven
apart like this.

So, I would expect there`ll be – more shoes will drop.

TUR: Peter baker, Rosalind Helderman, guys, thank you very much. I`m
joined now –

HELDERMAN: Thank you.

TUR: – by Nate Persily. He`s a professor at Stanford Law School. He was
the research director at the White House`s election integrity commission
under Obama. He`s also an expert on constitutional crisis and public
opinion.

What better voice to have today than you, my friend. So, Donald Trump is
talking about a red line for Robert Mueller. And it would be a huge
violation for him to look into his finances. People point out that his
finances are pretty closely – could be pretty closely tied to whether or
not Russia meddled in – whether or not Russia meant to meddle in the
election in the favor of Donald Trump, why they that would do that.

So, if Donald Trump tries to push back on Mueller or tries to fire him,
walk us through the consequences of that.

NATHANIEL PERSILY, PROFESSOR, STANFORD LAW SCHOOL: Well, there are several
steps that the president could take in order to curb this investigation.
The regulations in the Department of Justice say that the attorney general
is the one that would fire the special counsel. In this case, it would be
the acting attorney general or his subordinate, Rod Rosenstein.

And so, in theory, the president could fire the attorney general, fire the
assistant attorney general, in order to get someone in charge who would
then fire the special counsel.

[17:15:05] Now, that is reminiscent of what happened during the Watergate
Saturday night massacre, but it is within his constitutional power, in
order to do that.

In the event that happens, then the real check on the president is
impeachment, and the question is whether Congress, particularly the House
of Representatives, –

TUR: Yes.

PERSILY: – would stand up to the task.

TUR: Well, on that, will Republicans draw a red line? And if they do,
where is it? Is it pardoning an aide or a family member or is it something
like trying to fire like Bob Mueller?

PERSILY: Well, it`s very hard to read the tea leaves, in part because
they`re changing every day. And so, we have no idea what`s coming down the
pike.

But, you know, it`s perfectly conceivable that he might end up pardoning
either his family members or other people who are involved in the – and
subject to the investigation.

When he does that, however, then those folks are not able to claim the
Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

So, that if, for example, Don Jr. or Jared Kushner or any of the other
people in the administration or campaign are pardoned, then the special
prosecutor could force them to testify and get information from them
because they won`t be threatened, say, with going to jail.

TUR: So, if he pardons them before any results are found and before he
comes to any conclusions, he can – Donald Trump does that before Bob
Mueller comes to his conclusions. Bob Mueller can say, hey, listen, Don
Jr. or Jared Kushner, whomever, I want to know everything you know about
your father, and they would have to be compelled to testify honestly?

PERSILY: That`s right. I mean, because they`re not going to face legal
jeopardy, at that point. Because, essentially, they can`t incriminate
themselves because they won`t be subject to any –

TUR: Got it.

PERSILY: – kind of punishment as a result.

TUR: OK. So, the Republicans are not necessarily sending a lot of signals
right now that they feel like he needs to back off. We did hear from one
Republican Congressman today but that`s about it.

So, there`s talk about what that – why that is. What is Donald Trump`s
magic power here, and ultimately people come back to his base and how his
base never moves against him.

So, is this the issue? Are you seeing Republicans potentially putting
party over country, at this point, in order to maintain a Republican
president?

PERSILY: Well, right now, we are living in extremely polarized times. And
so, Democrats and Republicans have completely different views of this
president and the presidency and how it`s performed.

So, you get somewhere in the range of 80 to 85 five percent approval among
Republicans, even though the aggregate opinion is only in the high 30s for
presidential approval. He still has a considerable number of Republicans
in the mass public and he still has Republicans in Congress behind him.

And, really, the thing to look for is to see if there are mass defections
among members of the House of Representatives who are Republicans and to
see what Paul Ryan may draw as his red line in the sand, depending on what
happens with the Mueller investigation.

TUR: In a peer battle, who wins, Donald Trump or Robert Mueller?

PERSILY: Well, they`re going to win with different people. There are
people who are supporting the president and I would expect them to continue
to do so. And those who oppose the president are going to side with
Director Mueller.

TUR: Nate Persily, thank you very much for joining us.

PERSILY: Thank you.

TUR: And will there be more aftershocks from the shake up? Our panel
weighs in as the new communications head takes aim at reports of west wing
chaos.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCARAMUCCI: We are committed, as true professionals, to the team (ph) and
the process of getting the administration`s message out.

[17:18:32]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back. In his first appearance in the White House briefing
room, the new White House communications director was effusive in his
affection for, well, seemingly everyone.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCARAMUCCI: The president has really good karma, OK, and the world turns
back to him. I think there`s been, at times, a disconnect between the way
we see the president and how much we love the president. I love the
president. I love the president. I obviously love the country. I do
appreciate that about Sean and I love him for it. And I love the guy and I
love these guys. I respect these guys. I like the team. Let me rephrase
that. I love the team.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Welcome back.

What a day at the White House. So, let`s go to our panel. Dan Balz, Chief
Correspondent at “The Washington Post,” Ruth Marcus, Deputy Editorial Page
Editor and Columnist at “The Washington Post,” and Matthew Continetti,
Editor-in-Chief of “The Washington Free Beacon.”

Dan, I want to start with you. I want to – I want to – just tell me what
you think of this past week. Give me the big picture.

DAN BALZ, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, I mean, we`ve
said it every week. But, you know, it`s hard to top this week for the kind
of news that came out. I mean, we thought we had a huge week a week ago
with the Don Jr. meeting.

This week, we`ve had the collapse of health care, a remarkable public
interview with “The New York Times” in which the president has said things
about his attorney general and the special counsel that you would never
have expected a president to say.

And now, we have a serious shakeup in the White House staff operation and
who knows what more to come.

So, I mean, I think the takeaway from the week, Katy, is that this is a
president who, in one way or another, still does not have, what I would
call, respect for the constitutional structures of government and who is
constantly prepared to up end everything around him in the hope that that
will change it. And that if he can put loyal people in the right
positions, that that will, in one way or another, keep all these problems
that so obsess him at bay.

That may be a fundamental misunderstanding of the way government works, but
it`s clearly the way the president approaches these issues.

TUR: Ruth, if he can put loyalists in those key rolls, loyalists who know
his voice and know his thinking and maybe a little bit better than folks
like Sean Spicer did, do you think that we can see something of a change
coming out of this White House? Does this ultimately matter?

RUTH MARCUS, DEPUTY EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, “THE WASHINGTON
POST”: I don`t think that`s the solution. I think the Scaramucci all you
need is love approach is probably not what this president needs. I don`t
think he needs another person who is going to tell him how wonderful he is,
not tell him when he`s wrong.

I thought, you know, Anthony Scaramucci did a nice job of setting a less
combative tone with the press than Sean Spicer.

But you do need a – Sean Spicer is right in the sense that you do need a
communications professional in that role which doesn`t just mean somebody
who`s going to go out and be combative and assertive on behalf of the
president, but somebody who understands how to marshal the forces that you
need of surrogates out there and validators making the president`s case.

The president – and, fundamentally, this president wants to be his own
communications director, and as long as he insists on filling that role
himself, we`re going to see this kind of careening car that we saw this
week and last week as the administration can`t really stick to its message.

[17:25:06] TUR: Matthew, with Sean Spicer out now, that is, many believe,
really undercutting Reince Priebus. And that Reince Priebus might not have
a tenable position in the White House any longer.

Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, those are the liaisons mostly between this
White House and Capitol Hill.

What does this mean for Republicans on Capitol Hill? Does this mean that
they`re losing influence or losing allies in the White House? And their
goals, their agenda might be more at risk without them there?

MATTHEW CONTINETTI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, “THE WASHINGTON FREE BEACON”: Well,
remember, you still have Mike Pence, the Vice President and Mark Short, who
is really a –

TUR: Do you think Mike Pence is really in the loop on things?

CONTINETTI: In terms of the legislating, lobbying –

TUR: Yes.

CONTINETTI: – for the president`s agenda on Capitol Hill? I do. I think
Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer were more of the RNC apparatus, definitely a
tie to Republican donors and some involvement on Capitol Hill.

I was struck by Scaramucci really talking about the relationship he`s had
with Priebus going back to before the 2012 presidential election. I was
also struck about the answer he gave when asked about his relationship with
Steve Bannon. It was – didn`t strike me as quite as friendly as his
remarks about Priebus. So, that`d be another White House staff member I`d
be watching.

TUR: Yes. So, that`s a reporting I had out of the White – out of the
White House last night which is Reince Priebus is really pushing back on
this, Dan, but so was Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon didn`t think he was
qualified for this job.

There was also – there is rumors and whispers about whether if Reince
leaves, is chief of staff ultimately what Anthony Scaramucci is eyeing?
What`s the significance of that?

BALZ: Katy, you`re several chess moves ahead of me on some of these
things.

I think that there`s no doubt that even though Scaramucci and Priebus have
a friendship and have gone back awhile, that his arrival does, in some way
or another, undercut Reince Priebus as the chief of staff.

I mean, Priebus has now lost two key allies that he brought into the White
House with him, Sean Spicer today and earlier Katie Walsh, who served as
the deputy chief of staff and who was Priebus`s chief of staff at the – at
the Republican National Committee. So, he is – he has fewer strong allies
in that operation than before.

And one thing we know is that this is a White House of fierce rivalries
different camps and shifting alliances. It`s not that on one day, people
who are rivals are not – you know, are going to be rivals forever.

But it does put Priebus in a more precarious position. I think Peter Baker
made a good point early which is that there`s been talk about Reince
Priebus being pushed out or forced out or resigning for months and he`s
still there. So, I think you have to –

TUR: That`s a good point.

BALZ: – you know, have to – have to keep that in mind also.

But this is a volatile White House and I don`t think what happened today
makes it any less so.

TUR: And so, it`s also a White House that doesn`t necessarily like playing
by the norms of politics, the political rules. But, ultimately, politics
in Washington will run the same way it always has, especially when is it
comes to an investigation of the president.

So, if the president is going out and he`s trying to tarnish the special
counsel, Ruth, what are the consequences of that? And what about those who
say that this special counsel, Robert Mueller, is running amuck in the same
way that Ken Starr did during the Clinton administration?

MARCUS: Well, I lived through Ken Starr and the Clinton administration, as
did my friend Dan who is always many chess moves ahead of me. And let me
just say this and I – Judge Starr just wrote an op-ed for us.

But Bob Mueller is no Ken Starr. Ken Starr came to that job without the
kind of prosecutorial in-the-trenches experience that Bob Mueller has.

Bob Mueller is also operating under a different statute than Ken Starr did.
But it`s still – not statute. He`s operating under Justice Department
regulations. He has done nothing, so far, that I am aware of that, in any
way, calls into question his legitimacy. But you see this case starting to
be built by the president and his allies, his lawyer, Jay Sekulow, on
Sunday, the sort of glimmerings of a case against Mueller and against –

TUR: Yes.

MARCUS: – his legitimacy because of Comey. And that makes me very
nervous. I think it should make Republicans on the Hill very nervous.
Because they know Bob Mueller is a reasonable person who is going to do a
reasonable investigation.

And I wonder when the president fired Jim Comey, it had more of an effect
than he expected, more of a firestorm. But I`m wondering if he`s under
estimating, really, seriously, the impact of firing of Bob Mueller.

TUR: Well, Matthew, what would Republicans do if he did try to fire Robert
Mueller?

CONTINETTI: Well, I think a lot of Republicans would protest very
strongly. The question is what they would do after they registered their
protests.

TUR: Yes.

CONTINETTI: And the truth is they don`t really have many tools at their
disposal to check the president.

TUR: They have impeachment.

CONTINETTI: Right. And I don`t think that`s the tool they`re going to use
in this case.

TUR: What would be the line for impeachment, Matthew? What do you think?

CONTINETTI: For Republicans?

TUR: Yes.

CONTINETTI: It`s very hard to say. As long as they`re in charge of the
congress, you know, I mean, as one of your earlier guests was saying in
these polarized times and Republicans are sticking together, they also
agree with Trump in some respects in the sense that the Russia
investigation is a distraction.

So he has kind of support among Republicans, and certainly his voters on
that case. So, I think there would be major protests. I think a lot of
Republicans would caution the president not to fire Bob Mueller. But after
that, I don`t think they have many tools at their disposal.

TUR: Dan, last question to you. If they don`t do anything if the president
tries to fire the special counsel, where does that leave this democracy?

DAN BALZ, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I mean, it
depends on when and what circumstances would provoke that. I mean, if it
were to happen today, there would be one reaction. If it happens in six
months, there might be another reaction, depending on what more we know
about what has come out through the investigation, not just Bob Mueller`s,
but what`s come out through the Senate Intelligence Committee
investigation.

You know, I think that the issue really then begins to fall on the
political impact on the country, what kind of reaction there is
particularly among Republicans that could affect the 2018 elections. If
Republicans were to lose the house of representatives, then you`ve got an
entirely different situation here politically that the president would have
to face. So, you know, there`s so many unknowns, Katy, it`s just – I`m
loath to jump too far ahead.

TUR: Yes.

BALZ: But he would be certainly playing with fire in all sorts of ways if
in one way or another he tried to provoke a clash with Mueller in what
looked like a way to shut down the investigation.

TUR: Bathing himself in fire maybe. Dan Balz, Ruth, and Matthew. Stay with
us, guys. Still ahead, we`re going behind the scenes at the White House.
How will today`s White House shake-up impact Steve Bannon`s influence?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Next on “MTP Daily,” Bloomberg`s Joshua Green joins us with an inside
look at what`s happening behind the scenes at the White House, and where
things stand with chief strategist Steve Bannon. But first, Hampton Pearson
has the “CNBC Market Wrap.” Hi, Hampton.

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Katy, thanks.
Markets finished the day mostly flat. The Dow down 31 points, the S&P off
by a single point, the Nasdaq losing two. Exxon Mobil is suing the U.S.
government over a $2 million fine levied by the treasury department. The
treasury says the company`s joint venture with Rosneft shows reckless
disregard of U.S. sanctions on Russia.

Exxon Mobil calls the fine unlawful. And Delta customers can now use their
fingerprint as a boarding pass at Reagan National Airport. Biometric
verification system is open to SkyMiles members who are enrolled in the
CLEAR program. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back to “MTP Daily.” Today`s sudden resignation of White House
Press Secretary Sean Spicer is only the latest breaking news headline out
of a west wing in near constant turmoil. Over the last six months we`ve
become accustomed to leaks, back stabbing, and high profile exits. One of
the names that`s off in a topic of intrigue is Steve Bannon. Some days he`s
hailed as the wizard behind the curtain. Other days sources swear he`s been
cut of the president`s orbit and is bracing for an ouster.

Just take a look at this headline from Politico today. Steve Bannon`s
disappearing act, while he`s stepping back in an effort to save his job in
the White House. Joining me now is the Bannon expert, Joshua Green. He`s a
senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Business Week and also the
author of the new book “Devil`s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and
the Storming of the Presidency.” You laughed, Josh, but that`s why you`re
the expert on Steve Bannon right there.

(LAUGHTER)

TUR: Great book, first off. Congratulations. I know how hard it is to crash
something like that and get it out as quickly as you did. Talking about
today`s headlines first, Spicer`s resignation, is this good news or bad
news for Steve Bannon?

JOSHUA GREEN, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK: I
think it`s bad news for Steve Bannon, because Bannon had fostered –
despite all the early drama and headlines, Bannon had fostered a pretty
good working relationship with the RNC crowd of Sean Spicer and Reince
Priebus who he was supposedly battling early on. So the fact that this move
was made apparently over his objections, I think is definitely bad news for
him.

TUR: So is he in jeopardy right now?

GREEN: Everybody is always in jeopardy in Trump`s inner circle.

TUR: That`s a good point.

GREEN: It seems like to me. But I don`t think he`s directly in jeopardy.
And the odd irony of this move as the news started to break last night and
I thought about it, Scaramucci is actually more of a Bannon guy than you
might think. He`s an outsider with a chip on his shoulder. He`s not a
Washington figure. Evidently Bannon didn`t want him coming in, but he seems
like the kind of guy that Steve Bannon would click with eventually so –

TUR: Hold on, Josh. He`s also a Wall Street guy and a bit of a globalist.

GREEN: Well, he`s a globalist, though, who has morphed into like a Trumpist
and there`s a difference there, that`s an important difference. And as we
saw on the podium today, he made this elaborate show of obeisance to Trump
and kind of took his punishment and ribbing for having called Trump names
in the past. So he is a guy who is very much with the Trump agenda despite
the fact that he has Wall Street background, which by the way Steve Bannon
does too.

TUR: Family, so the family was behind the ushering in of Anthony
Scaramucci. He`s really close with Ivanka. He`s close with Jared. He`s
close with folks that have been in Trump orbit for a long time. Bannon`s
relationship with the family, where does that stand right now?

GREEN: I never know for sure. It`s been hot and cold. It was pretty
wonderful during the campaign when Trump was under attack and I tell all
the stories of the various ways that Bannon allied with them to help defend
and help him win the race. But after the election, once Trump got
inaugurated and things went off the rail a bit, I think Jared Kushner in
particular held Bannon to blame for the misfortunes that befell Trump early
on in his presidency and kind of turned against him.

But the fact that Kushner and Ivanka were pushing this move and were
successful in making it happen over Bannon`s objections show that they`re
the ones very much back in power right now, and at least today Steve Bannon
isn`t.

TUR: Let`s talk about your book. You really lay out why Donald Trump was
drawn to Steve Bannon, why Steve Bannon was drawn to Donald Trump. Give me
a brief explainer for our audience.

GREEN: Well, Bannon basically was this outsider, populist. He worked at
Breitbart News. Very passionate taker of sides who was never taken
seriously by anybody in Washington because as chairman of Breitbart, he
attacked politicians in both parties and nobody really liked him. But for
Trump, who was this outsider and a punchline early on in this campaign
cycle, he didn`t really have a lot of people to choose from when it came to
political advisers, but Bannon was more than willing to do it.

And every time Trump got in trouble during the campaign, even before Bannon
was his manager, Steve Bannon was the guy who kind of ran to his rescue and
fought his battles. So, after Trump made his announcement speech in which
he called Mexican rapists and drug dealers and came under all sorts of
attack, Bannon was the guy who helped organize a trip to Laredo, Texas, to
the Mexican border –

TUR: I remember that well.

GREEN: – so that Trump could double down. And Bannon`s advice in the
campaign always was keep going further, don`t ever apologize, don`t listen
to the establishment, and that was a winning formula for Trump as a
candidate, if not Trump as a president.

TUR: Don`t back down. Josh Green, the book is incredible. I suggest anyone
who wants to understand Donald Trump and what`s going on in this White
House right now, in this relationship, pick it up. It`s certainly worth a
read. Congratulations, buddy.

GREEN: Thanks so much, Katy. I appreciate it.

TUR: And coming up, there`s Republican chaos on both ends of Pennsylvania
Avenue today. We`ll explain next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back. As chaos and confusion grip the west wing, there`s not
much more clarity at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Senate
Republicans are scrambling to reach a consensus on health care, but without
really knowing what they`re supposed to be agreeing on. Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell says a vote will happen next week, maybe as early as
Tuesday.

But it`s unclear if they will be voting on a straight repeal of Obamacare
or a repeal with a replacement or something else entirely. But no matter
what they`re voting on, it doesn`t seem like Republicans have the 50 votes
they need to pass anything.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: You know, it`s a little bit dynamic. And
frankly, the story has changed over the last 24 hours as things have
changed. And so I can`t comment on that because we haven`t had our group
meeting. I would just have to wait until then to sort it out.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I`m prepared to vote for a vote to repeal.
I`m prepared to vote for a bill to repeal and replace.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We`ve probably got I would say 45 or 46 yeses
now. We`re close. And it`s just – it`s a handful of nose right now who I
think that they`re going to get to yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MIKE MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: I think if he fired Bob Mueller, I think he`d
see a tremendous backlash response from Democrats but also house
Republicans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Welcome back. Time now for “The Lid.” The panel is back. Dan Balz,
Ruth Marcus, and Matthew Continetti. That was Congressman McCaul talking to
Andrea Mitchell a little bit earlier today. So, Dan, do you think he`s a
bellwether for Republicans?

BALZ: Well, he could well be. I mean, he`s a prominent member of the house
and, you know, (INAUDIBLE) the national security issues that formed at
least part of this Russia investigation. He is well aware of the
consequences of trying to shut that thing down.

If he is right, there would be that kind of a backlash. But I think it goes
back to what Matthew said earlier which is once the protest occurrs, then
what`s the next step? What tools do they try to employ to do something in
reaction? I think That`s the larger question that is still unanswerable.

TUR: Matthew, we were talking a moment ago, you said the Republicans didn`t
really have anything that they could do, I brought up impeachment, but they
could pass a law that would reinstate the special counsel.

CONTINETTI: And I think the chances of them doing that are approximately
zero mainly because they just don`t want this – they don`t want to do
anything to jeopardize the president as the Republican Party. They think
that the Russian investigation is a distraction. They think that special
counsel, much less an independent counsel with broad authority could get
into areas not directly related to Russian interference in the 2016
election.

The Democrats, however, and this gets back to something Dan was saying
earlier, should Russia issue in combination with other issues lead to a
democratic takeover of one or both houses of congress in 2018, then you`re
absolutely right, Katy, the democratic congress –

TUR: Yes.

CONTINETTI: – could move immediately to reinstate the independent counsel.

TUR: The chess board completely changes if that were to happen. Ruth, just
touching on health care real fast, you just heard Ted Cruz a moment ago
saying that there`s only a handful of people, Republican senators who are
hold out on voting for a repeal or a repeal and a replace. How likely is
it? Cruz is optimistic. How likely is it that those Republicans that
handful move over and say yes to passing something?

MARCUS: I think that the pathway is getting narrower and narrower. The fact
that we have not seen movement in that direction and fact probably movement
away from it suggests how difficult it`s going to be to get there. Since we
can only talk about Bob Mueller and the investigation, can I make one point
about this?

TUR: Yes, of course, go ahead.

MARCUS: If the president were to fire Bob Mueller, that`s not necessarily
the end of the investigation. I`ve been wallowing in Watergate. When
Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox was fired on the famous Saturday
night massacre on Monday morning, the prosecutors in his office came in to
work as justice department employees. There had been an investigation going
on previously.

They continued that investigation. And then a new prosecutor was named.
You`d have to kill off really more than just Bob Mueller. You would have to
kill off a criminal investigation that actually proceeded Bob Mueller`s
appointment. That would be a very extraordinary thing for a president to do
especially investigation involving himself. He might have the power to do
it but it`s never happened before.

TUR: Not to mention the investigations that are going on Capitol Hill right
now. There are number of investigations going on there. I like that you
said wallowing in Watergate, Ruth. You know how us TV people love
alliterations. Thank you for that. Dan, I do want to end on health care
though. Mitch McConnell calling a vote. What does that say about Mitch
McConnell`s influence at the moment?

BALZ: Well, it may say something more about Mitch MccConnell`s sensibility
at this moment. He may simply be kind of at the end of his rope with his
own members. I mean, he`s done everything he thought he knew how to do to
try to get this to a positive outcome. So far has not been able to do it. I
think he wants to put people on the record.

That would give people who want to vote for a repeal or repeal and replace
whichever the opportunity to say they were able to do that. It would in
other ways bring some finality to this chapter of it in the senate. Again,
it could be revived, but I think he just wants some sense of closure,
positive or negative right now on this whole matter.

TUR: What a remarkable turn of events. Seven years of promising to repeal
and replace only to have it potentially not go through on the floor if he
does call for a vote. Dan Balz, Ruth Marcus, Matthew Continetti. Guys,
thank you very much. Happy Friday. And after the break, another reason to
hate bringing all of that sand from the beach home with you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: In case you missed it, like sand to the hourglass, so are the days of
our lives. And time is running out for one of the world`s most precious
natural resources. It`s no daytime TV drama. In case you missed it, the
world is running out of sand. We first heard about this from freelance
journalist Vince Spicer (ph) on NPR this morning. And it will affect more
than your beach vacation. Stick with us here.

Sand is used in a lot more than you think. It`s the basis for cement.
Roads, bridges, and buildings. Glass is made from liquid sand and so are
the silicon chips in your phone. Where does all that sand come from? It`s
actually mined. And soon all the sand in the U.S. will have to be imported.
Last week, the California Coastal Commission approved the closure of the
last sand mine in the mainland U.S. by the end of 2020 for environmental
concerns.

Here is why it matters. We`re using more sand than ever before with major
construction booming in places like China and India. We`re using it faster
than it can be created. If you`re going to the beach this weekend,
appreciate the wonder of the sand in your toes and then do us all a favor,
leave it where you found it. That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back on
Monday with more “MTP Daily.” Have a great weekend.

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

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