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