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Interview With California Congressman Ted Lieu; Trump Considering Pardons in Russia Probe?; Sean Spicer Resigns; Trump Jr., Manafort to Negotiate Over Docs, Private Testimony. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired July 21, 2017 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And pondering pardons. The president's team is firing back at reports that Mr. Trump is exploring his power to grant pardons. New questions tonight about how far the Trump camp will go to defend against the special counsel's investigation.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is on assignment. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: Breaking news tonight, one of the most controversial and combative White House press secretaries in modern history resigns,as President Trump shakes up his communications office in a West Wing reeling from shock and turmoil, Sean Spicer calling it quits after Mr. Trump hired New York financier and staunch supporter Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.
Scaramucci, appearing at the White House briefing, he revealed Spicer's deputy, Sarah Sanders, is going to replace Spicer. Scaramucci says he will report directly to Mr. Trump. We are told top White House officials Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus were opposed to Scaramucci's hiring, as was Spicer.
Also breaking, no official confirmation yet from Donald Trump Jr. or Paul Manafort on whether they will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week, as asked. The panel set tonight as a deadline to hear from the president's son and his former campaign chairman, or face the threat of subpoenas.
A third witness just responded to the committee. Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of the firm behind the Russian dossier on Mr. Trump, is refusing to testify. And, tonight, CNN has learned that special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the White House to preserve all documents related to a 2016 meeting that included Trump Jr., Manafort, a Russian lawyer and five other people.
A source who has seen the letter say the request for information is broad. It includes text messages, e-mails as well as voice-mails.
This hour, I will discuss those stories and more with Congressman Ted Lieu. He is a Democrat on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees, and our correspondents and specialists are also standing by to talk with us.
First, I want to get to CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray. She has more on this major shakeup in the president's communications team.
Sara, after months of speculation about Sean Spicer's fate, he's now actually calling it quits.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Brianna. Rumors of a staff shakeup, particularly in the communications department, have been swirling for months, but the speed at which this happened, seemingly overnight, President Trump picking a new communications director and Sean Spicer deciding he's had enough.
MURRAY (voice-over): President Trump's high-profile Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigning in protest today, objecting to the president's decision to hire New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.
Today, Sarah Huckabee Sanders relayed a statement from the president, predicting the future staffer has a bright future ahead.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: "I wish him continued success as he moves on to pursue new opportunities. Just look at his great television's ratings."
MURRAY: The new communications director worked closely with Trump on his transition. He's seen as a strong television personality and a fierce defender of Trump at a time when his presidency is under siege.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: 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.
MURRAY: And he will report directly to the president.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He did a good job. He's a terrific guy.
MURRAY: In his debut at the podium today, Scaramucci defended the president's baseless claim that three million votes were cast illegally for Hillary Clinton.
SCARAMUCCI: If the president says it, OK, let me do more research on it. But my guess is that there is probably some level of truth to that.
MURRAY: Scaramucci's hire is welcome by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump. But other top officials, including chief strategist Steve Bannon and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, objected to the move.
Scaramucci downplayed the differences with Priebus.
SCARAMUCCI: We are a little like brothers, where we rough each other up once in while.
MURRAY: And insisted a little friction was no problem.
SCARAMUCCI: We serve his interest.
And so if we have a little bit of friction inside the White House as a result of that, it's OK.
MURRAY: Spicer was so firmly opposed to the move that he tendered his resignation. He told CNN today: "I'm going to give the president and the new team a clean slate" and tweeted he will stay on at the White House through August.
Today, Scaramucci had only warm words for his predecessor.
SCARAMUCCI: I love the guy, and I wish him well and I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money.
MURRAY: From Spicer's first briefing at the White House podium, he adopted a combative tone and played it fast and loose with the facts. He turned to faulty statistics to defend the president's inauguration crowd size.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.
MURRAY: Struggled to defend the president's Twitter-happy habit.
SPICER: I'm going to let the tweet speak for itself.
MURRAY: Downplayed an ongoing investigation into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
SPICER: If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow, that's a Russia connection.
MURRAY: And sparred with the press.
SPICER: Please stop shaking your head again.
MURRAY: As Spicer prepares to depart after just six months on the job, Sarah Huckabee Sanders stepping up to the Briefing Room podium, leading the first on-camera briefing in nearly a month, as she accepts her new title as White House press secretary.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Thank you.
MURRAY: Now, this Briefing Room has been a pretty combative place under Sean Spicer's tenure. Today, Anthony Scaramucci showed up with his New York swagger, seemingly at ease, and taking a much softer tone when it comes to the press. Will that hold? Will that be the style? Stay tuned.
We will see -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, we will, Sara Murray at the White House. Thank you so much.
Let's get more now on Sean Spicer's thinking in all of this as he decided to step down.
We have CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.
You spoke with Sean Spicer. What did he tell you?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He sounded surprisingly upbeat, considering what had just happened, that he resigned from a job that those of us who have known him for a while know that it was his dream job, maybe not under President Trump, but to be at the White House podium.
But I asked him the obvious question, which is why now and why was this the moment and this the change at the White House, or the event at the White House that finally made you say, I'm out? And his answer was, I wanted to give the president and his new team a clean slate.
He did say, Brianna, that the president tried to get him to stay. He said, no, it's not the right time for the White House to be here -- for me to be here and it's not right time for me personally to be here. But it's no secret, as Sara just illustrated in her piece, it has not been easy for this press secretary and the press, but, most importantly, at the end of the day, for the press secretary and the president sometimes.
KEILAR: So, you said he sounded surprisingly upbeat. I wonder if there could have been some relief after what has been an insane six months.
BASH: Listen, you and I have known Sean Spicer as a press secretary in and around Washington a really long time, and worked with him in various roles and capacities pre-Trump.
And he was a traditional Republican press secretary before he became a Trump press secretary. And, so, I did hear some of that old Sean Spicer in his voice when we talked. But, look, at the end of the day, I'm not sure if that will ever fully come back, because he has had such a high profile, such a tumultuous time with the press, but also, again, in trying to kind of find his way in being a traditional press secretary for a guy, a president who clearly sent him out to say things that were not true, starting literally on day one, going out there and saying in the Briefing Room that the crowd size was bigger than in President Obama's inauguration. And it just was not true.
KEILAR: We also saw the spokesperson for the outside legal team exit the picture.
Are these things connected at all?
BASH: You know, I think they're connected in the sense that you are seeing at six months in a White House and a president trying to sort of find the right footing.
But you're also seeing a White House in crisis, and a constant state of crisis. And it is in large part because of the guy who is in the oval Office. When I say crisis, I mean just from the communications standpoint.
BASH: We're talking about coms people in Washington.
And that is the thing to keep in mind. No matter how good a communications operative one can be, when you have a principal, the president of the United States, sending a tweet or giving an interview or doing whatever that you don't know about, or that sends whatever plans you have for the day, never mind the next 15 minutes, into complete chaos, you know, it's pretty hard to do the job.
KEILAR: No, it certainly is. Dana Bash, thank you so much for that report.
BASH: Thank you.
KEILAR: Now, this new White House shake up comes amid escalating tension between the president's team and the special counsel's office, Robert Mueller issuing a new warning to the administration about preserving evidence in the Russia investigation.
And CNN's Dianne Gallagher is following all the new developments.
What is the latest, Dianne?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
Well, Brianna, this is really one of the first clear actions we know from the special counsel when it comes to his investigation. That is basically the Robert Mueller is turning some of his focus at least to the first family, as the White House ramps up its defensive strategy against his team of investigators.
GALLAGHER (voice-over): CNN has learned that special counsel Robert Mueller sent a letter this week telling the White House to preserve all documents relating to the 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and a Russian attorney, among others.
Staff members received notice on Wednesday from White House counsel informing them to preserve text messages, e-mails, notes, voice-mails, and any other communications related to meeting.
According to a source who read the letter to CNN's Dana Bash, Mueller wrote in part: "Information concerning the June 2016 meeting between Donald J. Trump Jr. and Natalia Veselnitskaya is relevant to the investigation."
Russian court records obtained by CNN show Veselnitskaya represented a military unit tied to one of the country's intelligence agencies in a Moscow property dispute from 2005 to 2013. Veselnitskaya has previously denied that she was linked to the Kremlin.
The special counsel's office declined to comment and a White House spokeswoman told CNN they do not comment on internal communications. This comes as the Trump administration appears to be looking for ways to undercut the investigation.
TRUMP: The entire thing has been a witch-hunt.
GALLAGHER: "The New York Times" reports the Trump legal team is conducting a wide-ranging search for conflicts of interest as the president's people publicly question investigators' possible political biases.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: These significant donations by members of that team, they clearly wanted the other person to win. Now, whether that prejudices them one way or the other in the investigation remains to be seen, but it is relevant information for people to have.
GALLAGHER: Justice Department rules allow employees to contribute to political parties and campaigns. So, that would not be seen as a conflict of interest.
The president went so far in Wednesday's interview with "The New York Times" as to question Robert Mueller himself, who Trump interviewed as a possible replacement for fired FBI director James Comey before he was appointed special counsel.
TRUMP: What the hell is this all about? Talk about conflicts. He was interviewing for the job.
GALLAGHER: According to Bloomberg, Mueller is reportedly investigating potentially Russia-related business transactions of the president and his associates. Trump has suggested that Mueller doesn't have the authority to look into Trump family finances.
QUESTION: Mueller was looking at your finances, your family's finances unrelated to Russia. Is that a red line?
QUESTION: Well, that be a breach of what his actual charge is? TRUMP: I would say yes. I would say yes.
By the way, I don't -- it's possible there's a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units. Somebody from Russia buys a condo. Who knows? I don't make money from Russia.
GALLAGHER: "The Washington Post" reports the president's team is looking into whether he can grant pardon to aides, family members, even himself.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: The president maintains pardon powers like any president would, but there are no announcements or planned announcements on that front whatsoever.
GALLAGHER: The attorney representing Mr. Trump in matters related to the Russia investigation called "The Washington Post" report nonsense and insists the president's lawyers are cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller on behalf of the president.
GALLAGHER: And that statement there from John Dowd, in a shift, he has taken the lead on outside counsel's team amid some of the shuffling in the past 24 hours or so.
President Trump's longtime personal attorney Marc Kasowitz who had been the lead on that up front, he's going to see his role reduced just a little bit. And, yesterday, Brianna, as you mentioned, the team spokesperson, communications strategist, Mark Corallo, resigned.
Brianna, really, it's not just the communications team we're seeing that shakeup in this week around the White House.
KEILAR: No, it certainly isn't. Dianne Gallagher, thank you for that.
Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort are up against a deadline as Senate investigators demand to know whether or not they will testify under oath next week.
Let's check in with CNN senior congressional reporter Manu Raju.
So, Manu, has the Senate Judiciary Committee heard from Trump Jr. or Manafort and are they expected to make good on these subpoena threats?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, we are expecting an announcement soon from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
I am told to expect an announcement about what will happen with Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort next week. What we do know is that the two men have undergone some significant discussions behind the scenes with Judiciary Committee staff members, staff members Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the committee, ahead of that public hearing next week in which Grassley has threatened to subpoena for their appearance if they do not attend. Of course, this all stems from that recently revealed meeting that
those two men, along with Jared Kushner, had with Russian officials during the campaign season. Now, what we also have learned is that Glenn Simpson, who is the head of the research firm Fusion GPS, the same firm that hired the British spy Christopher Steele to compile information about alleged Trump ties with Russians, that gentleman, Glenn Simpson, will not appear at that hearing next week, criticizing the committee for what his representatives say is a partisan attempt to try to cast doubt on the issue of collusion.
So, watch for a subpoena to be issued for his appearance. But if he does appear, Glenn Simpson, expect him to take the Fifth. We will wait to hear what Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. say in just a matter of moments here, Brianna.
KEILAR: Former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice was up on Capitol Hill meeting privately with Senate Intel Committee members today.
Did you learn anything about those meetings?
RAJU: Yes, this is the first time she has appeared since the House Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee accused her of essentially unmasking the names of Trump officials in intelligence reports and saying that she did something improper, something that she has vigorously denied.
That whole controversy prompted Devin Nunes, the chairman of the committee, to step aside. She did appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee today as part of their investigation into Russian meddling in the elections. That's the issue that they discussed. Uncertain about whether or not they discussed the issue of unmasking.
But earlier this week when I had a chance to talk to Richard Burr whether he had concerns with Susan Rice and that issue of unmasking, if he's going to ask her about it, he seemed to suggest it is an issue for House Republicans, not necessarily his committee. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Are you concerned anybody was improperly unmasked by officials in the last administration?
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Well, I'm not going to get into the unmasking thing. It was all created by Devin Nunes. And I will wait to go through our full evaluation to see whether there was anything improper that happened. But clearly there were individuals unmasked. Some of that became public, which it's not supposed to and our business is to understand that and explain it.
(END VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: Now, Brianna, on Monday, that same committee, the Intelligence Committee on the Senate side, will interview Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, behind closed doors.
This is going to be a staff level meeting. It is uncertain when and if he will actually talk to senators and if he will go under oath when he talks to senators. But that's one of the next big developments as this committee interviews some big names, Susan Rice today, Jared Kushner next week, other Trump associates also on their witness list as well, Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes. It's going to be some kind of week. All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill for us.
Let's get more now on all of this with Congressman Ted Lieu. He's a Democrat on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees in the House.
Sir, thank you so much for being with us today.
I want to remind our viewers, as Manu reported there, we are waiting for an announcement from the Senate Judiciary Committee about Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort. Days have gone by now where they have been asked to testify before the committee. We are expecting a major announcement. Are they going to do it? Maybe they are going to refuse to testify under oath next week.
Congressman, if that's the case, if they do refuse to testify under oath, what would your reaction to that be?
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Brianna.
If they refuse to testify under oath, it shows, again, that they have something to hide from the American people. And whether they voluntarily testify or not, Congress has subpoena power. So, they are going to have to testify at some point. I hope that they do it voluntarily. It makes everything go much smoother.
KEILAR: But what if they take the Fifth Amendment, essentially, getting away with not answering any questions, even if they do show up in person?
LIEU: They have a right to take the Fifth Amendment, and then we have the right publicly to say that they are trying to hide by taking the Fifth Amendment.
And let me just say, we no longer have smoke here with the Trump- Russia investigation. We have fire and the Trump administration is feeling the heat. And I think that is why they are so resistant to testifying in front of the committees.
KEILAR: "The Washington Post" is reporting that President Trump and his legal team are strategizing how to undercut the special counsel investigation, even going as far as to look at the specific investigators in this, look at perhaps their political donations, look at things in their past. What's your response to that?
LIEU: They have to be careful because at some point it could constitute obstruction of justice.
And also keep in mind, Donald Trump and Jared Kushner gave to Democrats. It really doesn't matter. What matters is the results of the investigation and these are high-quality, top-notch professionals in the Justice Department. They're going to do the right thing.
KEILAR: "The Post," I'm sure you saw, is also reporting that the president has asked about his pardoning powers. This is something that the White House denies. But you have "The Post" and you also have "The Times" saying that this is the case, that he is inquiring about this.
Would you see any pardons as -- the reports say could be at least in his inquiries to aides or family or even to himself -- would you see that as an admission of guilt?
It already shows consciousness of guilt that they are looking at this issue. Look at how rapidly they went from Russia is a hoax to now, oh, let's look at pardons. And keep in mind you only give a pardon if someone does something wrong. So to me this shows a lot of consciousness of guilt.
And here's a fun fact for you. The president cannot pardon himself against an impeachment.
KEILAR: Do you think that there may be a possibility that the president could ultimately fire special counsel Bob Mueller? And if that were the case, what do you think your Republican colleagues would do?
LIEU: Every Republican needs to be asked what their red line is and what would happen if the president got Robert Mueller fired.
The Democrats will impeach. I hope the Republicans join us, because at that point we need to uphold the rule of law. That is what makes our democracy strong. That is why we have a Constitution. We cannot have a president act like the way Nixon did.
KEILAR: All right, Congressman, stay with me. We're going to talk to you a little bit more out of the break.
We are standing by, because we are expecting this announcement any minute now from the Senate Judiciary Committee about Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort. Are they going to testify next week? Are subpoenas going to be issued if they say they won't?
We will be right back.
KEILAR: And we're back with Congressman Ted Lieu and our breaking news.
A major shakeup in the White House, as Sean Spicer resigning as press secretary after the president hired financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.
We are also following new developments in the Russia investigation.
And, Congressman, that's what I want to talk to you, about because Wolf Blitzer is at the Aspen Security Forum. He just spoke moments ago to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Let's listen to this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The Russian lawyer who was at that meeting, a woman by the name of Natalia Veselnitskaya, she met with Donald Trump Jr., with Jared Kushner, with Paul Manafort. We are now learning, thanks to Reuters, that she has represented a military unit founded by the FSB.
That's the successor Russian agency to the KGB for a number of years. Here's the question from an intelligence perspective, General. How risky was it for these three Trump associates to meet with this woman during the campaign?
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: Well, understanding -- I guess I'm an old-school Cold War warrior and all that. So, I have this, truth in advertising, great suspicions about the Russians and what they do.
And a lot of this to me had kind of the standard textbook tradecraft long employed by the Russians and -- or the Soviet and now into the Russians.
So, I don't find it surprising that these connections are trying to -- are coming out. It would have been a really good idea maybe to have vetted whoever they were meeting with.
I think the Russian objective here was, one, to explore, reconnoiter to see if there was interest in having such a discussion on offering up, of course, dirt on Hillary Clinton, and somehow, you know, at least create the optic or the image of at least ostensibly plausible deniability.
This is typical Soviet, Russian tradecraft approach, the soft approach and, if possible, to co-opt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: That is the former director of national intelligence, Congressman. What is your reaction to an assessment like that of Trump Tower meeting?
LIEU: It is very alarming.
Not only did you have a Russian-connected lawyer. You had a former Soviet spy in that same room. And we have the e-mails in black and white. And those e-mails very specifically say that the Russian government is helping Donald Trump.
So, the Trump campaign was made aware that the Russian government was helping the Trump campaign, and Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. all had access and saw that e-mail.
KEILAR: When will House and Senate leaders give us an update on the Russia sanctions bill?
LIEU: The Senate passed their Iran-Russia sanctions bill 98-2. House leadership and the Republican side is holding it up. That is wrong. We need to pass the Russia-Iran sanctions bill immediately out of House of Representatives and put it on the president's desk. We need to make sure the president does not give back those two compounds to the Russians.
KEILAR: Do you think that the speaker can put a stop on that indefinitely, or do you think this is just something that is getting slowed down and ultimately we will see this come through?
LIEU: The speaker of the House could pass this bill next week. The Republicans control the House of Representatives. They could pass the bill if they choose to. I don't know why they're holding it up.
KEILAR: Do you think that ultimately this is going to come through the House?
LIEU: I do. Having sat on their Foreign Affairs Committee at various meetings about Russia, it is very clear there is bipartisan support for the Iran-Russia sanctions bill.
There is also acknowledgment that Russia hacked America last year and that they cannot get away with this. And if we don't do anything, it's going to incentivize Russia to hack us again.
KEILAR: All right, Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you so much. Have a wonderful weekend.
And just ahead, we have more on the White House, the new White House communications director and his similarities to President Trump. Does his glowing phrase of the president sound familiar?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCARAMUCCI: He's the most competitive person I have ever met. I have seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire. I have seen him at Madison Square Garden with a topcoat on. He's standing in the key. He's hitting foul shots and swishing them. He sinks three-foot putts. I don't see this guy as a guy that is ever under siege.
This is a very, very competitive person. Obviously, there is a lot of incoming that comes into the White House, but the president is a winner. OK?
And what we're going to do is, we're going to do a lot of winning. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: We have breaking news. We are standing by to hear if Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The deadline is tonight, and there is a lot to discuss with our correspondents, analysts and specialists here.
[18:35:03] Jeff Zeleny, to you first, and then I want everyone to weigh in. Let's take a look back at some of, let's call them Sean Spicer's greatest hits.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration period, both in person and around the globe.
When we use words like "travel ban," that misrepresents what it is.
I've said it from the day that I got here until whatever, that there is no connection. You've got Russia. If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection. But every single person -- no -- well, no, that's -- I appreciate your agenda here. But the reality is -- no, no, hold on. No, at some point report the facts. Let me...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am just reporting...
SPICER: You're asking me a question, and I'm going to answer, which is the president -- I'm sorry, please stop shaking your head again.
We didn't use chemical weapons in World War II, you know. You had a -- someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to the -- to using chemical weapons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sean, can I ask another question, please? Sean?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sean?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sean?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: My goodness. All right, Jeff, so he was loyal through all of this, and there were many moments where people wondered, might this be the end of this for Sean Spicer? Maybe he'll resign in protest or something. But why was this, the hiring of Anthony Scaramucci, the step too far for him?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, that certainly was a walk down memory lane there. Sitting in the front row of the briefing room during a lot of those moments. You know, it certainly was contentious, but it also, at the end, did not serve the president very well. But at the end of the day here, the reason that Sean Spicer tendered
his resignation this morning, there simply was no job left for him. He had been essentially removed from the main job of the press secretary, giving those on-camera briefings. He hadn't done one in quite some time. And then he had essentially not gotten the job that he thought he was going to get, the communications director. Sort of being the strategist heading all this up.
So you know, despite his loyalty -- and he was loyal to this president, no question -- he was not able to please him. He was not able to satisfy him.
And it's the second example in this week where loyalty is often a one- way street with this president. Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, saw that earlier this week, as well. But you know, at the end of the day, Sean Spicer was simply not able to do an effective job for this president.
You know, this is very controversial. He did not think this was going to happen. The president and a small circle of advisors of his son- in-law, his daughter, were very much supportive of Anthony Scaramucci coming in, but several were not. Steve Bannon was not supportive of this, I'm told. Reince Priebus was not, and certainly Sean Spicer was not.
But I talked to several friends of Sean Spicer's today. And they said he just saw this as a bridge too far. He did not think that this is, you know, the right answer here.
But I think if you boil it down, Brianna, there's been divisions between the Washington set, the New York set. Today the New York set won.
KEILAR: Yes, they certainly did. In studio with me here, Jackie Kucinich, Jeremy Diamond and Kaitlan Collins.
Kaitlan, having spent the last several months at the White House and talking to your sources, are other people worried as they see Sean Spicer's firing? Did they worry: look, this is someone who was so loyal. And even he's out of here. Are those concerns?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think people definitely realize that the president is loyal to no one except maybe his family members that are in the White House and the ones that are outside, the whole Don Jr. scandal that's happened over the last few weeks.
But I definitely think no one should feel comfortable. Like Jeff was just saying, look at what happened to Jeff Sessions this week. He gave up a safe Senate seat in Alabama to take this job, was the first senator to endorse Donald Trump, put on the "Make America Great Again" hat on stage and has never left his side. And Donald Trump publicly bashed him multiple times in an interview. So I think people in the White House realize there is no loyalty unless you're in Trump's close, close group.
KEILAR: Yes, that's right. We've definitely seen it. We have some video of Anthony Scaramucci that we would like to play.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCARAMUCCI: It's unnecessary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: He blows a little kiss to the press as he's leaving. I think didn't Donald Trump do that once to Mike Pence or something on stage somewhere? I remember something like that.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sounds right.
KEILAR: Right? It's just -- is this going to be a more agreeable relationship, Jeremy Diamond, do you think? I mean, we've got the blown kiss there. He's trying to get along.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think we saw -- I think we saw one side of Anthony Scaramucci today.
KEILAR: Good point, very nice.
DIAMOND: We saw the one side where he's very genial. You know, he's a charming character. You know, he's got this kind of New York allure about him, right?
But I think that there's another side to that, which is kind of the more braggadocios, the more combative side that we see from a lot of these Wall Street types.
[18:40:06] You know, let's not forget, Anthony Scaramucci made a killing on Wall Street and in the hedge fund sector, which is not a, you know, cozy and kind business. So, he certainly can fight back.
And we've seen him on TV. You know, when he's defending the president, he's not only, you know, trying to charm the reporter in front of them; he's also fighting back. And I think that we'll definitively see a lot of that. The question is how long will it take for him to start showing that side, rather than simply the, you know, "I'm new to this job, and I'm just going to try and charm your socks off"?
KUCINICH: And how he does it matters. How he fights back against the press, the kind of language he uses, how -- if he gets all red-faced like you saw at times Sean Spicer do.
DIAMOND: We saw him screaming at us sometimes, right? It was not...
KUCINICH: Exactly. And there's a way to do it where, you know -- I'm sure he's going to get frustrated with the media, because that is the nature of the job.
KEILAR: Because we're frustrating. Let's be honest. KUCINICH: We can be frustrating humans. But -- but it's how it's done that is going to be -- he's going to be judged by, how he deals with that frustration.
COLLINS: That's true. And he fielded some tough questions today, like when he called Donald Trump a hack. Someone brought that up. And he played it off really well, said Trump...
KEILAR: Actually, can we -- let's play that. We have it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCARAMUCCI: He's a hack politician. He's probably going to make Elizabeth Warren his vice-presidential nominee with comments like that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think he's...
SCARAMUCCI: It's anti-American. It's very, very divisive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Donald's a...
SCARAMUCCI: I'll tell you who he's going to be president of. You can tell Donald I said this. The Queens County Bullies Association. You've got to cut it out now and stop all this crazy rhetoric, spinning everybody...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: OK. He apologized for that, Kaitlan. I'm glad you brought that up. Is that -- is that enough, you know?
COLLINS: That's a great question. He said that Trump brings it up. Because as we know, Donald Trump might forgive, but he does not forget when he has been slighted by someone. That's been a topic of senators who are up for reelection soon, those who did not stand by Donald Trump during the election last year. And I'm sure that, if Scaramucci does something that Donald Trump doesn't like, he will bring it up.
KEILAR: Actually, we have some breaking news, so stay with me. Let's go to Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill. We've been awaiting an announcement about Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort. What can you tell us, Manu?
RAJU: Yes, that's right. It looks like Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort have reached a deal with the Senate Judiciary Committee to not appear at that Wednesday hearing, at least not be subpoenaed to appear at that Wednesday hearing, to instead negotiate privately with the committee members, with the staff and to provide records and to be interviewed by the committee staff and by the members.
And it sounds like the statement, released by Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the committee, that that would be done in a private session before any public testimony.
Now, in this statement that Chuck Grassley has just released, he said that they -- said that they have not ruled out the idea of issuing the subpoena and compelling their appearance at a public hearing in the future. But this is what he says. He says, "Both Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort, through their attorneys, have agreed to negotiate to provide the committee with documents and be interviewed by committee members and staff prior to a public hearing."
So, they say, therefore, they will not be issuing subpoenas tonight to compel their appearance at the Wednesday hearing. This is issued by both Grassley and the ranking Democrat on the committee, Dianne Feinstein.
Now, they did issue a subpoena for the other person who's expected to testify next Wednesday, who was asked to testify. That was Glenn Simpson, head of that research firm Fusion GPS, behind that Russian dossier. They have issued a subpoena for his appearance. He has declined to appear.
But in a very key development, Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort at least have staved off the prospects of appearing publicly, at least for now, as they negotiate privately with the committee and with the members about communications they had with Russian officials...
RAJU: ... and about that very controversial and recently-revealed Trump Tower meeting that they had with the Russian officials during the campaign season, Brianna.
KEILAR: OK. So now just -- we also realize, they're -- we assume as they negotiate it, will be testify testifying behind closed doors. Jared Kushner is going to be testifying behind closed doors, both of them before different committees.
Would this be different if Democrats were in control of the Senate, if they were the ones heading up these committees?
RAJU: I think that's very possible that they could -- Democrats would want to hear from them in public. We heard, actually, one Democratic senator on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Ron Wyden, saying earlier today that he wants to see some of this testimony happen in public when he was asked specifically about Jared Kushner. Democrats have asked for that, as well.
But it appears that there is an effort for some bipartisanship on the Senate Judiciary Committee which is one reason why Senator Dianne Feinstein is working very closely with Chuck Grassley in moving forward in this hearing, at least willing to have these discussions behind the scenes with Paul Manafort and Donald Trump, Jr.
[18:45:08] We'll see if they ever get to the point of hearing from them publicly. But interesting also, Brianna, that Donald Trump, Jr. said publicly last week he'd be willing to testify under oath, but clearly, this invite for him to appear in a public session prompted some concerns, prompted his negotiations behind the scenes and prompted him to cut this deal to be interviewed, at least, by the committee not outside the public view. We'll see if he does it in public, but clearly some concern after this
committee actually put that request in writing, Brianna.
KEILAR: Manu Raju on the Hill, thank you so much.
Back to our panel now to talk about this.
OK, for now, at least, it appears Paul Manafort, Donald Trump, Jr. as well as Jared Kushner avoid a public hearing. That eliminates the side show kind of spectacle element of this. But at the same time, Jeff Zeleny, I wonder what you think about this.
At the same time, does that prevent the American people from knowing really what's going on and actually afford these guys some protections?
ZELENY: I think it does in some respect, Brianna. I think you hit the nail on the head there. If the Senate was controlled by Democrats, I think this would be an entirely different situation.
You know, Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, has been very strong and forceful saying he wants them to appear, but they also was willing to cut the deal here. As Manu said, it is possible they might testify in a public setting later on. But this is an example of the benefits of the majority here, really being able to help the White House out. That would have been an extraordinary show, having the president's oldest son testify publicly about this.
I can't recall a hearing that would have been as potentially explosive or dramatic here. So, by having them do it in closed session, it takes so much attention and pressure off this here. I think this is a incredible win for the White House, at least in the short term, as they try and get back on their game here, Brianna.
KEILAR: Jackie, I think it's fair to say, we're talking about the Senate side on these committees. The Intel Committee, the Judiciary Committee, I think it's pretty fair to say that when you look at these various investigations going on on Capitol Hill, the Senate is the less bipartisan. You're seeing much more cooperation between Republicans and Democrats in the committee.
With that in mind, knowing these committees are affording them this kind of protection of not being in public, I mean, what do you think about this?
KUCINICH: You know, well, the House Committee kind of stumbled out of the gate with the whole issue with Devin Nunes, having to recuse himself, and now there is a new head for the Russia part of this. So, it will fall to the Senate to sort of be the adults in the room right now. That has seemed to play out.
But it sounds to me like the lawyers have taken over. It's one thing to go on Twitter and say, yes, I'll give them whatever they need. I'm happy to talk to the committee. It's another thing entirely to have it kind of sink in, to realize if Donald Trump, Jr. and Paul Manafort testified in a public hearing, their words would be parsed. They would have -- I mean, just the margin of error would be so slim that they could put themselves in real jeopardy legally and otherwise.
DIAMOND: There is a flip side here, though, that I think is important to point out which is the fact that when these hearings are in private, we saw this with Michael Caputo who testified behind closed doors, and he actually complained after and said that he would have preferred for it to be out in the public. And the reason why --
KEILAR: Because stuff leaks, the non-classified stuff leaks.
DIAMOND: -- is because you can have different interpretations. Congresswoman Jackie Speier came out after that hearing and talked about -- suggesting that he may have lied before the committee, and Caputo said I wish we had a transcript of this. I wish this was out in the public so my side could have been seen by the American people.
We have obviously a different dynamic with Paul Manafort and Donald Trump, Jr. because they are so much higher profile, and that's not something the White House would have wanted to see in public. But, again, there is this danger that for them, at least, Democrats could come out and have a totally different version of the story than they might like to have out there.
KEILAR: I want to play a sound bite that we have from Aspen where the Aspen Security Forum, this is where Wolf Blitzer is. He moderated a panel between CIA Director John Brennan as well as the former DNI Clapper, and this is what they said about the special counsel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You have confidence in this special counsel?
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Absolutely.
BLITZER: You both worked with him for a long time when he was head of the FBI.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DNI: Absolutely. It was an inspired choice.
BRENNAN: They don't come any better, Bob Mueller.
CLAPPER: Nobody better than Bob Mueller who is a straight shooter and will not be intimidated by any --
BRENNAN: And if he's fired Mr. Trump or attempted to be fired by Mr. Trump, I hope, I really hope our members of Congress, our elected representatives are going to stand up and say enough is enough and stop making apologies and excuses for things that are happening that really flout I think our system of laws and government here.
BLITZER: When you say enough is enough --
[18:50:03] BLITZER: -- if he is fired, and he is president of the United States, he can tell Rosenstein to fire him if he wants, but if he's fired, what would you want Congress to do? BRENNAN: First of all, I think it's the obligation of some of the executive branch officials to refuse to carry out some of these orders that again are inconsistent with what this country is all about. But I would just hope that this is not going to be a partisan issue that Republicans, Democrats are going to see that the future of this country is at stake, and there needs to be some things done for the good of the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Jeff Zeleny, what is the prospect, especially in light of the fallout from the Comey firing that this special counsel could be fired?
ZELENY: I think it is very limited at this point. I think that the White House, the president knows that that would be opening up a hornet's nest more than anything we've seen so far. We have seen the president this week say that he believes this should stay strictly focused to election meddling. It should not go into his finances.
But we've seen reports and we have our own reporting that suggests that the investigation is indeed expanding beyond that. We will have to see if the president believes if it crosses a red line. Clearly, what the White House and the president are trying to do first is discredit this investigation from top to bottom by questioning the lawyers and other things. But, Brianna, I think that moving Bob Mueller out of this would be explosive for this president.
KEILAR: Yes, it certainly would be. Jeff, thank you so much. Jackie, Jeremy and Kaitlin, appreciate you guys being here tonight.
And much more news ahead.
[18:56:22] KEILAR: Tonight, just hours after O.J. Simpson was granted parole on a 2007 robbery case, CNN is taking a fresh look at Simpson's infamous murder trial two decades ago. Specifically, we have an exclusive look at a crucial piece of evidence that was a big factor in Simpson's controversial acquittal.
CNN's Kyra Phillips is here with a preview of "After O.J.: The Fuhrman Tapes Revealed."
This is fascinating, Kyra.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, thanks so much.
And, you know, we've talked about this a lot and the evidence that O.J. Simpson killed Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, it was simply overwhelming. So the best way to get him off of a murder rap was cast doubt on the evidence.
Well, O.J.'s legal team was handed a huge gift. And it was these tapes of detective Mark Fuhrman made by an up and coming screenwriter by the name of Laura Hart McKinny. And the tapes were vulgar. They were astonishing. And they were also the linchpin in Johnnie Cochran's defense that Simpson was framed by a racist L.A. Department willing to plant evidence to frame a black man.
Well, as we know, these tapes changed history, and many people felt that race trumped justice, and that has truly haunted Laura Hart McKinny for decades.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): She is Laura Hart McKinny, the writer who recorded conversations with Mark Fuhrman.
MARK FUHRMAN: Anything out of a nigger's mouth for the first, six sentences is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) lie.
PHILLIPS: And she has remained mostly silent until now.
(on camera): Why did you decide to come forward now and talk to us?
LAURA HART MCKINNY, WRITER: I trust you.
PHILLIPS: Does it feel good to talk about this?
MCKINNY: Yes. It's time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Ms. McKinny, would you come forward please?
MCKINNY: There were parts of the puzzle I was unable to reveal at the time and I was unable to be as truthful as I really wanted to be.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): So, she is telling her story, her truth. And for the first time, excerpts from the Fuhrman tapes you've never heard. Vulgar.
FUHRMAN: And then Weinstein, she's a little five-foot Jew, we call her the "Wandering Jew" (INAUDIBLE). She had a big nose.
FUHRMAN: How do you arrest a violent suspect? And I yell out, have a man do it!
FUHRMAN: You got to be a borderline sociopath. You got to be violent.
KEILAR: Ii mean, what did you think, Kyra, when you heard these tapes?
PHILLIPS: I was blown away when I heard those recordings 20 years ago, just a few clips of Mark Fuhrman saying the "N" word. And as I started listening to the rest of the tapes and hearing more comments with the "N" word, and then came all the sexist comments. I mean, we thought what we heard in the past was bad.
What he says about women, how he refers to women, I'm not even going to say it on television, Brianna, because it's so offensive. I'm going to save that for everybody to see tonight. But I realized after talking to Laura and working on this documentary, that this -- these tapes didn't just impact the trial of the century and sway a jury with regard to a verdict. They created a lot of change within the LAPD when it came to how women were treated on the force.
KEILAR: Yes, it certainly did. Kyra Phillips, thank you so much. We'll be tuning in tonight.
You can check this out. Kyra's special report "After O.J.: The Fuhrman Tapes Revealed". That will be on tonight at 11:00 Eastern, 8:00 Pacific, only on CNN.
I'm Brianna Keilar.
And "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.