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The Communications Director Goes on Tirade with Explicit Language; The First Step to Repealing Obamacare. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired July 27, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN: That's it for us. Thanks for watch. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon. CNN Tonight starts right now. See you tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: Breaking news. Open warfare in the White House. A vulgar war of words. Apparently with at least tacit approval from the president, himself.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
Remember when what was shocking in Washington was President Obama wearing a tan suit, my gosh, the president wore a tan suit.
Yes, well, no, this is shocking. The president's new communications director's scorched earth attack on the chief of staff and language that's so terrible, it's so explicit I can't repeat most of it on TV which is probably good because there are no words. Really no words. This is not politics as usual. This is not usual at all.
This is a brutal campaign against anybody perceived to be the president's enemy, no matter whether they're inside or outside the White House. Exhibit a, tomorrow's front page of the New York Post, a paper that has been traditionally sympathetic, to Trump, to this president, but clearly knows a tabloid where they mess when it sees one. A hot mess of that.
Meanwhile, live on the Senate floor, vote-a-rama main event, the so- called skinny repeal of Obamacare. A last-ditch effort to repeal and replace Obamacare after seven years and multiple, multiple failed attempts.
Lot to get to. So let's discuss the literally unspeakable war of words in the White House. CNN politics editor at large, Chris Cillizza. And CNN politics commentators, Ryan Lizza, Ana Navarro, and Mike Shields. Good evening to all of you. So, Ryan, less than 24 hours ago we were discussing this. We were on, you know...
RYAN LIZZA, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: It's like a long time ago. LEMON: Yes. When Anthony Scaramucci's tweet about Reince Priebus and
leaks blew up. We're all astonished. I mean, that is nothing compared to what we learned from your article out today. This is out of control.
LIZZA: Yes, I've never had the spokesperson for the White House, the senior-most person for the White House call me up and conduct an interview like that. It was, you know -- and I apologize last night for not getting into the details of that conversation on your show. You know, I love you but I had to save it for my magazine today.
LEMON: So you're holding back on me. That's OK.
LIZZA: A little bit. I had to do some additional reporting, I had to reach out to some of the people who were involved and you know, to do the due diligence, but, yes, it was -- you know, at the end of the day, this is about President Trump.
Because a week ago what he did, is that he inserted, you know, he basically rolled a grenade into the West Wing, into sort an area that was already a war zone and, you know, he just, he added this new element, this new level of friction, that everyone including the president knew about.
LEMON: Is this Scaramucci that grenade? Is this what you're talking about?
LIZZA: Sorry, I should be more specific, yes, this is the new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, who everyone knew was a, had a very, very tense relationship with the chief of staff. And so, you know, over the last week, I think we've seen the sort of facade that the chief of staff and the communications director that they could work things out and have a productive relationship.
We've sort of seen that fall and sort of culminated last night with the sort of really, really sharp unprecedented remarks that the communications director had for his rivals in the White House, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus.
LEMON: You have recordings of this?
LIZZA: Yes, those were recorded, that was a recorded interview. Absolutely.
LEMON: You do.
LEMON: I'd like to hear it.
LIZZA: Not like -- yes, I know. A lot of people have asked me about that.
LEMON: Are you going to release it?
LIZZA: You know, that's something I'd have to talk to my editors at the New Yorker about, and see if there's a reason to do that.
LIZZA: But as of right now, no.
LEMON: OK. So, I'm going to give you, this is a taste of what Scaramucci told you about, what told you about his foes in the White House. OK. Listen, the language is pretty rough here.
It says, "Reince is a 'f-ing' paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac," Scaramucci said. He channeled Priebus as he spoke, "Bill shine is coming in, let me leak the 'f-ing' thing and see if I can c block him." I can probably say that word but I just won't. "These people the way I c-blocked Scaramucci for six months."
So he's been -- I think yesterday was what, his first official day, so officially two days and is this do you think what he had in mind by all of this stuff that he said he was going to do with leaks? Is this what the president wanted?
[22:04:59] LIZZA: Is that for me, Don?
LIZZA: Yes, look, by the end of that conversation, you know, I was convinced of a couple of things. One, that Scaramucci believed there had been and has been a campaign, a very coordinated campaign against him, and he believed it was all coming from the chief of staff, Reince Priebus.
Now, the evidence for that was a little bit thin, if we get into the details of what he thought was being leaked. The two examples he was really worked up about last night that turned out just not to be true. We know definitively that Reince Priebus did not leak those stories that he thought he did.
But also that he for some reason he's convinced himself that the problem at the White House is that people in America don't see Trump the way that he personally sees Trump. And that the way to change that is to stop anyone in the White House from talking to a reporter in an unauthorized way. So he's just absolutely seized and obsessed with doing that.
Now, I think we could have a whole conversation about whether that's right or good strategy politically, but.
LEMON: I think it's interesting considering the way he spoke to you, is just the example he's setting or -- listen, to me...
LIZZA: Yes, some other people have mentioned that today, yes.
LEMON: Yes, yes. Chris, listen, President Trump hired Scaramucci because he liked that he would, his TV presence, right, he'd seen him on CNN and other places. CHRIS CILLIZZA, POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE, CNN: Yes.
LEMON: I think he was on fox business for a while. He liked that he would go to bat for him. Is this what he had in mind, do you think?
CILLIZZA: So, the -- my initial thought is to say no, Don, but I'm not sure that's right, actually. I think Scaramucci is the anti-Sean Spicer. You know, he's got the nice suits, he's a New York guy. He's smoother.
LEMON: He wears rings. He talks with his hands.
CILLIZZA: He's -- right. I mean, Sean Spicer was very Washington and Anthony Scaramucci is very New York.
LEMON: There you go.
CILLIZZA: I'm from Connecticut so I feel comfortable making those huge generalizations about two massive cities. But in Donald Trump's mind, I think that's how it works. I mean, you would think that Donald Trump can't be happy about this because one thing we know about him is he does not like when people who work for him get him negative press. Whether that's someone related to him, Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, all these folks, Jeff Sessions, all these folks have seen their fortunes rise and fall based on what kind of press they're able to get for him.
At the same time, I'm not sure Trump, you know, is totally abandoned Scaramucci, brought him in for a reason. They're personal friends. Scaramucci made very clear to Chris Cuomo this morning, which feels like four days ago, but clear to Chris Cuomo this morning that he had talked to the president, the president was 100 percent behind all this.
CILLIZZA: So, I think the natural political calculus would be to say, wow, this is terrible for Scaramucci. I don't - I just don't know. I think the natural political calculus has been so thrown off by President Donald Trump that we shouldn't jump to that conclusion.
LEMON: When you think about what happened on the campaign trail, and what the president tweets out, what the president says, himself, I mean, why would it be bad? The president...
CILLIZZA: Right. Exactly. Exactly.
LEMON: Yes. When you -- you know...
CILLIZZA: He was doing -- look, he was doing...
LEMON: He was doing. CILLIZZA: He did last night with the tweet exactly what the president has been doing for a week now with his attorney general, right?
CILLIZZA: He was taking an internal fight public. I assume he had some goal with doing that, but he was taking it public. That has been a pattern with the Trump campaign and administration.
LEMON: I think -- I know Mike wants to get in, but Ana, looks like you're going to jump through the screen if I don't let you talk. Go ahead.
ANA NAVARRO, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Honey, what can I possibly say? I mean, just when I think there is nothing.
LEMON: I mean, Ana, what is going on here? Why are people more upset -- maybe people are upset by this, but this is the highest office in the land. Not only in the American land but in the world. Why bring this office down like this with this sort of gutter language? Like you're on the streets of Queens or whatever and you're having some sort of bro fight? I mean, it's gross.
NAVARRO: The why is because they can. And, you know, the drama that's going on here, it's almost amusing, right? You almost want to say to yourself, I mean, who needs to watch "House of Cards" anymore? I mean, I'm so hold, I remember when "House of Cards" seemed like far-fetched fiction.
This "House of Cards" today pales in comparison. But here's the problem. The problem is, Scaramucci is Donald Trump's mini me. He is Donald Trump with less money and more hair and he's being able to do these things, bring these fights, go public with them, say these things that are so horrible, because Donald Trump is not only allowing it, he might actually be blessing it.
We don't know. I think it's no coincidence that when he called Ryan, he was coming out of a dinner with Donald Trump and a couple other people who must have been ginned up talking about this.
[22:10:02] But just think about this for a moment. If we have a terrorist attack right now, if we have a major national crisis, if we're hit with a major natural disaster, these clowns in this White House who are shooting each other down daily are the ones that are going to be in charge of a rescue effort. So this is scary.
We are heading right to a constitutional crisis and I was very disappointed in Peter King who I really like, the congressman from New York. For trying to system how rationalize this response from Scaramucci. Every single person has got to look in the mirror, has got put country first right now, have to stop making excuses and rationalizing it. This is not normal. It is not acceptable. It is scary behavior by the people in this administration and this White House. LEMON: OK. Mike, I know you want to get in. Let me read this, OK. So,
this is, again, the president's communications director talking about the president's chief strategist. "I'm not Steve Bannon. I'm not trying to suck my own you know what. I'm trying to build my own brand. I'm not trying to build my own brand off the 'f-ing' strength of the president. I'm here to serve the country." How is that serving the country, sir?
MIKE SHIELDS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, you know, Don, when I was coming on here, and I was thinking about what I would say about this, I'm obviously close to Reince, I used to work for him, I was his chief of staff at the RNC and I heard some people talking earlier about how Anthony Scaramucci is learning some lessons today. And I think that's right.
He's obviously a talented person. So I thought, well, there's probably, there's two -- I don't know him but there's two pieces of advice that I would give him. The first one is he should apologize because it's been shown that Reince didn't leak anything. And when you're the chief of staff, you actually don't have to leak things because you can just go talk to the president.
But also Reince, using that kind of language with him, Reince is a Christian, he's a good father, he's a loving husband, he's someone who served his party and his country and serves the president incredibly loyally every single day. I've never heard him use a curse word.
I think to build a relationship, it should start with an apology. The second piece of advice I give him is, and indulge me here, the president has cut 680 regulations which resulted in $180 million of economic activity. There's $4 trillion of wealth that's been built on Wall Street in people's pension accounts. He actually got a cease-fire in Syria.
Five hundred people at the V.A. have been fired keeping a campaign promise for whistleblowers and people that weren't treating our veterans right. I could go on and on. The president is doing a magnificent job. And first lesson of a communications director, don't be the story. Talk about that stuff every single day.
You can do internal stuff and have a meeting in the office about things that you don't like that's happening at work. But the president's story needs to get out there. He's doing an amazing job. National Association of Manufacturers say that manufacturer's confidence is at a 20-year high. Let's talk about that.
LEMON: OK. I understand that. You want to talk -- I understand you want to -- yes. Agree. But my initial question was, how is this good for the country? He said that is serving the country. I'm here to serve the country. How is that serving the country?
SHIELDS: Yes. I'm trying to give him some advice on how to serve the president which serves the country, that's what Reince is doing every single day. They're in the White House right now working on getting a Senate bill passed. That's what we should be talking about today. And I think new person on the job he wants to serve the country, he said he's a patriot, he wants to serve the president, I'm saying that's the way do it.
NAVARRO: But Mike, can you answer Don's question?
NAVARRO: Because I think every republican need to stand together tight now. The bottom line, and the answer to Don's question is, this is not serving the country, this is a disservice to the country. This is a continuation of the continuous...
SHIELDS: Well I just said that what I think he should do to serve the country so that means I don't think it's the good thing to do.
LEMON: But you didn't say it explicitly.
SHIELDS: You want me to say explicitly that using curse words and cursing out the chief of staff is a bad idea, not good for the country?
NAVARRO: No, yes.
SHIELDS: I think we're kind of past that conversation. I'm talking about what we should do moving forward which is talk about the president's agenda and the amazing things he's doing.
LEMON: Well, why don't you -- we're not past that conversation. That's the question. And that's a question. And that's a question I would ask any supporter of the president or anyone who comes on.
How is this serving the country? What do you think about this particular story? Mike, I mean, listen, with all due are respect, I know that you want to gloss over it, you want to talk about the president's accomplishments and all of that and I could have fought you back on some of the things that you said because they're not exactly true, the real accomplishment, according to John McCain, is Gorsuch.
And that's really the only achievement that the president can directly link to him. The stock market, as you said, the stock market has for months and months and months, the former president was in office, the stock market was on the rise, the economy was rising.
Yes, this president has continued that trend but it's not all his doing. I mean, for this particular thing in the White House, would you want -- can you imagine if Barack Obama had done something like this?
SHIELDS: No, look, I...
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: No, answer my question. Can you imagine if Barack Obama's
White House had done something like this, what would you be saying tonight?
SHIELDS: I would be saying the communications director in Barack Obama's White House shouldn't say that and they shouldn't do that. They should serve the president and they serve the country and that's what I'm telling you right now, I'm saying the exact same thing.
[22:15:06] LEMON: So, Ana, you mentioned Peter King. And I just play what he said. You said, you know, republicans should stand up. And you were disappointed with what we said, how he's trying to make sense of what Anthony Scaramucci said. Here's what he said when President Barack Obama wore a tan suit, and what he said about Anthony Scaramucci today. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you take issue with the suit?
PETER KING, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: Because you know the image makers in the White House, he's a president coming out in a serious moment, where he should be addressing the country on a serious matter. And he looked like he was on his way to a party at the Hamptons which would have been fine if he addressed the issue with Hamptons.
But instead he started talking about the economy saying that was more important than Syria. And I just thought it detracted from the seriousness in the moment.
Scaramucci is a tough, smart guy. He has his own style of doing things. He has come to the White House with a purpose in mind. We'll see how it works out. I mean, this is an unorthodox administration, it was an unorthodox campaign. President Trump was elected and he's -- the White House is being run in an unorthodox way. We'll have to see.
I mean, Scaramucci is a tough guy and I think Reince Priebus and Bannon are pretty tough, too. So we'll see how this works out. Maybe it will be like a cage match or something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What -- what the hell, Ana? I mean, what's happening with the...
NAVARRO: We see this...
LEMON: ... some of the members of your party? What is going on here?
NAVARRO: They're being apologetic. I think they're almost afraid to take on Donald Trump. Peter King is a tough guy. He's honest. He's blunt. He doesn't mince words. So I couldn't understand this because nobody can rationalize this. I mean, come on, guys. This is the White House. This is the Oval
Office. This week we have seen the President of the United States deliver a speech to the boy scouts that was so crass and political the head of the boy scouts have had to apologize.
We've seen the President of the United States turn the attorney general into a human pinata and whack him over and over again. We've seen the President of the United States tweet out a change of policy on transgenders serving in the military without even his secretary of defense or joint chiefs knowing about it.
And now we see this new communications director completely tarnishing and belittling and making even less of the White House and the Oval Office. And my question to republicans is, until when are you going to look the other way and try to normalize this because he gave you a Supreme Court justice you like or because he gives you a bone here or there on Cuba policy, this policy, whatever policy may be important?
This is more important than that. We cannot even start talking about policy when we have got this crazy train, this derailment, this chaos, this drama, this crisis, going on daily in this White House. And if republicans don't stand up to it today, they are going to regret it because where this is heading is Donald Trump firing Bob Mueller. And when that happens, they're going to have to deal with that in their hands.
So let me tell you, Lindsey Graham has got a bill to try to prevent Trump from doing exactly that. And they better mark it up and they better pass it because if not, they are going to have to deal with the result.
LEMON: You know what just hit me, Ana, when you gave off that list? Everything that you said happened within the last two days, this is two days. Go ahead, Ryan Lizza. I know -- I'm sorry, Chris Cillizza.
CILLIZZA: No, I think you're absolutely right.
LEMON: Was it Chris who wanted to say something?
CILLIZZA: Yes. I always defer to Ryan.
LEMON: OK, go ahead, Ryan.
LIZZA: I was just going to say -- I'm just going to agree with that, the crush of events is dizzying. Stuff that we thought -- stuff that we think is explosive in the morning, you know, seems a week old by the evening.
And I think -- you know, sometimes I think that's part of -- part strategic by the White House and by especially by President Trump is to make sure that there's always some new fight. Some new chaotic situation that we all, frankly, and the public, can chew on.
SHIELDS: But Ryan, you and I...
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: Hey, Chris, hold on.
CILLIZZA: Yes, sure, of course, Don.
LEMON: Hold on. Hold on. I -- you know, Ryan, you have been highly regarded as a reporter, as a writer. Anthony Scaramucci tweeted this tonight saying "I made a mistake in trusting a reporter. It won't happen again." What do you say to that, Ryan? What did you do wrong? You just reported what he said.
LIZZA: Yes. Look, I think he's making a big mistake if that's his take away from this lesson -- excuse me -- if that's his lesson from this episode that when -- here are the facts.
He called me, we did an on the record interview. The next day I followed up with him this afternoon, talked to him about the interview and about what I was going to publish and we published. There's no mystery in what happened.
[22:20:00] So, I don't know what -- I don't know what he's referring to there. So I think it's a little unfortunate that he would put that out. But I think he -- you know, he's a big boy in a big role.
Being the communications director, as I told him this afternoon, for the most important and powerful institution in the world, the White House, means that when you call a reporter, have an on-the-record conversation, say things that are newsworthy and in the public interest, you should have an expectation that that reporter is going to report those things.
LEMON: Report those things.
LIZZA: And let me -- let me -- it's no different than when someone...
LEMON: Hold on. Hold on.
LEMON: I want to ask, you are called a reporter. But the interesting thing to me is, wasn't he upset, he said who leaked to you I was at dinner and who was at dinner with the president?
LIZZA: The conversation started with him pressing me, you know, fairly aggressively but nothing that was, you know, I couldn't take, about who my sources were about this tiny little scoop about who the president had dinner with last night.
LEMON: But I mean, that's not -- that's not a leak. I mean, it's -- everything is documented in the White House.
LIZZA: Yes. LEMON: When President Bush had dinner with someone, when President Obama had dinner with someone, when President Clinton. That's not -- it's not leaks.
LIZZA: You're absolutely right about that. And I said that to him. And frankly, you know, the people at the White House are very routinely -- you know, a lot of information this White House does not give out to us if we call them up or if we text people.
But who the president has dinner with, it's very standard for a few people there to say, yes, you're right about that, he's having dinner with this person. It's no secret. It almost always gets out, anyway. It's documented.
LIZZA: So, this gets back to -- you know, I was going to say, this gets back to what Mike was talking about. You know, and I was going to defend Scaramucci a little bit just so you understand where he's coming from. Remember what happened here. He got a job offer at the White House. He sold a very valuable company and then Reince Priebus seemed to put a stop to it.
LEMON: He thought it was Reince.
LIZZA: And so he really.
LEMON: Reince was behind it, he thought he should have gotten the job at the White House a lot sooner than he did as communications director.
LIZZA: Yes. He's very, very frustrated.
LIZZA: So that's what was behind all of the anger and the comments about Reince. As he basically believes...
SHIELDS: Can I...
LIZZA: Yes. Mike, go ahead. I know you know a lot about this. And you can respond. But I just want to say from Scaramucci's perspective, that's what all the built-up tension and anger is about.
LEMON: Go ahead.
SHIELDS: Yes. Look, two quick points. One is, Reince and Bannon and other people that didn't think he was a good fit for this job, I think we just saw in the last 24 hours what their apprehension was about having him come to the communications director. He's a very skilled spokesman. But this is a really big job in the government that has really important responsibilities.
The thing that I will say that I will give Scaramucci a compliment on is, at least he took a named position. And I think anyone who is a republican or democrat who has worked for principle, I know that there are a lot of people that come and set fires and then leave and have no accountability or no responsibility for the complaint.
You know, this isn't working well, the message isn't working well. At least he's the communications director. He's now responsible for all communications that come out of the White House, he's responsible for the president's message, how he's perceived in the country.
At one point Reince was -- you know, there was Reince people in the press shop and he was, you know, being asked about it. Now he's going to say, look, this is Anthony Scaramucci's job, and so good or bad, if things go great, he's going to get the credit for it. And if they don't, at least he's taking on the responsibility and accountability and saying I'm the communications director as opposed to shooting from the sidelines.
So I'll say that for him. But you know, I think we're seeing a little bit of why some people have apprehension about him having this big of a job in the White House.
LEMON: Say what you want about Reince Priebus, he took the high road. Not many people in this White House have done that. He's done that, he handled himself with class. He said I'm not going to respond to this garbage because it really is.
LEMON: It really is garbage.
LIZZA: Look, I reached out -- I reached out to him last night. He didn't respond. I reached out to Steve Bannon today. He said he did not want to respond. You know, I went over the sort of salty quote. But, you know, I think it would help Reince if he kind of went public and explained some of this stuff. He's the one person in this whole drama who hasn't sort of said his side of the story.
SHIELDS: I think I disagree with that, Ryan.
CILLIZZA: Michael will probably tell us why that's not a good idea for him.
SHIELDS: No, because it's a -- he never makes it about Reince. He's making it about the President of the United States. They're trying to get a Senate bill passed and he's the loyal chief of staff of the president until the day that the president doesn't want him to be the chief of staff anymore. Up to that point, he's going to work with the team to get things done for him. And so this is all stuff that, you know, you should take of behind closed doors.
LEMON: Why not keep...
(CROSSTALK) CILLIZZA: I think Mike is right by the way, I think Mike is right
about that. I think the more you get in that swamp, the dirtier you get, but with Trump, so much of it is he sort of wants this combat. I mean, that's the thing you always have to come back to, he built this system with Reince and Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, now we got Scaramucci in there for them to fight.
Remember today, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, healthy, he likes healthy competition. This I would argue is not healthy competition. But, you know, if you're not out there, I think he kind of likes the gladiator model. If he's sitting up in the stands and he's watching these folks stab each other left and right.
[22:25:06] I'm with Mike. I think the more you're making it about process, the more you're making it about yourself, the more you're making about this one doesn't like this one, the less you talk about healthcare and jobs and the economy.
But if the boss man is the one who is yelling for you to stab the other guy because he likes to watch the spectacle, you know, I don't know if that's the White House you want to be a part of if you're Reince Priebus.
LEMON: Here's what happens.
CILLIZZA: But that seems to be what he likes to watch.
LEMON: If that's what the boss man wants, you know what most people with dignity and sense would do, they'd quit and find another job.
NAVARRO: Dancing with the stars.
LEMON: We've got much more -- amen, sister. We have much more to come on. Thank you, by the way -- on Anthony Scaramucci's unprecedented attack on Reince Priebus. Is the West Wing out of control?
And when we come right back, Senate republicans making a last-ditch effort to roll back Obamacare tonight. The debate is underway. And we're going to bring it to you live the very latest. Don't go anywhere.
LEMON: Live pictures now, this is the Senate floor, you're looking at democrat Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and they are discussing the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, the so-called skinny repeal and replacement. And they're expecting a vote, the vote should happen around midnight. We'll carry it live for you right here on CNN. So make sure you stay tuned.
The Senate is trying for a Hail Mary on this healthcare bill tonight after seven years of trying to repeal Obamacare.
[22:30:00] The debate is underway and the vote is expected soon, as I said, around midnight. So let's go to CNN Ryan -- CNN's Ryan Nobles. He's live tonight for us
in the Russell Rotunda. Also with me, CNN's senior political reporter, Nia- Malika Henderson, and political analyst, David Drucker. Hello. So, Ryan, the latest on this skinny repeal effort.
RYAN NOBLES, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, well for the first time, Don, we actually have a look at exactly what this bill is. The Senate GOP budget committee releasing the details of the bill about 20 minutes ago, and they -- this is still the skinny repeal that they were talking about but there are some aspects of this that are not all that skinny.
It does completely repeal the individual mandate that forces Americans to buy insurance, that's kind of a central tenet of Obamacare. It also has in place that 1332 amendment which I understand is legislatives, but this is a controversial amendment designed with conservative legislators in mind, and essentially it would give more flexibility to the states as to how they implement provisions of healthcare reform.
And that would include, perhaps, not forcing insurance companies to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions. And another big aspect of this, it is a repeal of Planned Parenthood funding but that funding would be shifted over to community health centers.
So that's the bill that's on the floor right now. We're in the middle now of two hours of debate. The democrats will get an hour and then the republicans will get an hour and then we assume, Don, that the actual vote will take place at about midnight and, Don, what's amazing, even at this late hour, we still don't know if there are 50 republican votes to pass this version of healthcare reform.
LEMON: As always the case -- as it's always been the case with this. And I'm seeing here they're saying that they've got a title for it, the act may be cited as the healthcare freedom act. And we have a copy of it here as well, Ryan.
Nia, I want to bring you in. Some republicans don't want this so- called skinny repeal. And they're warning House republicans not to pass the bill that they might vote for. What exactly is the strategy on healthcare tonight? How are they working this thing?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, CNN: Well, you know, I think they're working it by getting folks on the House side, Paul Ryan, to essentially say the goal is to get it to conference then they would hash it out. The goal isn't to ultimately make the skinny repeal bill the actual law of the land.
So you're going to have these republican senators, ideally, if you're republican, to get to 50. We don't know yet if Murkowski is going to vote for it. She's playing coy on this. Hasn't revealed what she's going to do. Capito as well. McCain also hasn't said what he's going to do. Graham, Lindsey Graham of course held that press conference today with John McCain. You know, really calling out the skinny bill. But he's come out and said he's going to vote for it.
So we just don't know. I mean, ultimately, again, the goal is to get to 50 and get the tie-breaking vote. And this is sort of just a shell or skeleton bill, right? And then they in some ways really start all over.
I think part of this is just theater to get something done, to move forward even if moving forward is kind of, you know, going to get them back to the same place where they were before without a real bill but that I think is what's happening here. They don't want to be seen as not doing something to make good on this promise that they've been making for seven years. Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
LEMON: As I read it, the healthcare freedom act. When you say the skinny repeal, makes it sound like a diet plan that everybody...
LEMON: Everybody is going to be skinny.
HENDERSON: I mean, they want to be free from this bill. I mean, that's sort of the freedom.
LEMON: Yes. They want to drop the weight of this bill. Yes. So, listen, David, Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and others, they're saying that they won't vote for this repeal unless they can be guaranteed that the House will take this to conference.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan saying, "It is now obvious that the only path ahead is for the Senate to pass...
DAVID DRUCKER, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Hey, somebody -- I can't hear. I'm on the wrong feed.
LEMON: You can't hear me? David, can you hear me? We cannot hear David. All right. So we'll go back to Nia.
So, Nia, the speaker of the House says, "It is now obvious that the only pat path ahead is for the Senate to pass the narrow legislation that is -- that it is currently considering. Senators have made clear that this is an effort to keep the process alive, not to make -- not to make law. If moving forward requires a conference committee, that is something the House is willing to do."
So, Nia, senator John McCain says it is not sufficient. What does that tell you?
HENDERSON: Right. I mean, John McCain who is the one standing today next to Lindsey Graham calling for this, calling for assurances around this bill that this wouldn't be the final bill. He's waiting to hear from the governor, the governor of Arizona to figure out whether or not this is something that should move forward.
And we don't know what John McCain is going to do and when we do know that a lot of these senators, republican senators, have been in close consultation with their governors. Dean Heller who of course is up in 2018, probably the toughest race that the GOP is going to face on 2018. He's been in touch with Brian -- with his -- with the governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval. Another state that expanded Medicaid.
[22:35:01] So, there are many things that are going on behind closed doors. We'll see what happens at midnight. But, my goodness.
HENDERSON: We know that the GOP is not proud of this moment because this is going to happen in the dead of night and you remember republicans really made fun of democrats...
HENDERSON: ... for you know, passing a...
LEMON: You got to go what's in the bill.
HENDERSON: Yes, exactly.
LEMON: You got to pass it to know what's in it. They're doing the same darn thing. It's unbelievable.
HENDERSON: Yes. Yes, but they're really doing that.
HENDERSON: I mean, democrats at least, you know.
LEMON: In the middle of the night.
LEMON: So, listen, I got a small tiny dorm room sized TV, dorm room televisions are probably bigger now when I was -- and I can tell you. Is that Bernie Sanders now speaking?
LEMON: Bernie Sanders is now speaking on the Senate floor. But David, I want to hear what -- this is what Senator Lindsey Graham said earlier and then I want to get your reaction. Can we play that?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: The skinny bill is policy is a disaster. The skinny bill as a replacement for Obamacare is a fraud. The skinny bill is a vehicle to getting conference to find a replacement. It is not a replacement in and of itself. Not only did we not replace Obamacare, we politically own the collapse of healthcare. I'd rather get out of the way and let it collapse than have a half-ass approach where it is now our problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: David Drucker, what do you say?
DRUCKER: Well, it's their problem whether they like it or not no matter what they do. But Senator Graham makes a good point. And let's step back for a minute.
Normally a conference committee is where the Senate and the House go in and fight for their bill then kind of hash out a compromise between the two of them. What Mitch McConnell here is doing here in a sense is jamming his own members because if he didn't force them to vote, they wouldn't want to vote because they can't reach consensus.
And what he's saying is I'm calling a vote no matter what. He's trying to get them to vote for anything to keep this process alive, and so the conference committee, instead of being a traditional negotiation between the House and the Senate, where they're both fighting for their bills, it's just another format for the negotiating to continue to try and get Senate republicans to a place where they have 50 votes plus Mike Pence, the Vice President, breaking the tie, for a replacement to the repeal of Obamacare and that's the difficult thing that they have been trying to do.
This skinny bill, it gets rid of some of the onerous parts of Obamacare that republicans don't like but it doesn't do the number one thing republicans is been demanding. It does not institute a structure that they can say is going to radically reduce premiums. In fact, premiums would go up under this, which is why I don't really think there's any danger in the House actually passing it because it's horrible policy. I don't think they want any part of it.
LEMON: Yes. OK. Since you mentioned that, please stand by, Ryan, Nia, and David. Because guess what, we've just gotten the CBO score. We're going to come back. We want a chance to sort of digest it here and then we'll come back to you guys and get your take on it.
In the meantime, let's talk more about Anthony Scaramucci's blistering attacks on Reince Priebus. It's just the latest example of the Trump White House in turmoil mired in crisis and infighting.
Here to discuss is Chris Whipple, he's the author of "Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency." And CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The Truth About Trump." Chief of staff, it looks like the communications director is doing most of it here, right? Were you shocked by this, before I read --
CHRIS WHIPPLE, AUTHOR, GATEKEEPERS: HOW THE WHITE HOUSE CHIEFS OF STAFF DEFINE EVERY PRESIDENCY: Well, yes. I mean, it boggles the mind. We counted the ways in which this White House is the most dysfunctional in modern history and that's certainly been true, but in the last 24 hours, I mean, we've gone into another realm. I mean, you wonder -- you wonder if these guys are going to start poisoning each other.
LEMON: Is he gunning to be chief of staff, do you think?
WHIPPLE: I don't know. I don't know. LEMON: Yes.
WHIPPLE: But, you know, what I do know is we've seen nothing like this to this extent. In some previous White House, we've had interesting warfare, you know, the Reagan White House. Reagan hated this stuff. He really hated it when his aides were at each other's throats.
The scary thing here is that Trump appears to enjoy it. I mean, this is a guy who's been unable to govern, who can't even get executive orders executed. And we're seeing the chaos on the House floor tonight. This is a guy who only knows chaos and that's what...
LEMON: Fun for him.
LEMON: But not fun for everybody else especially the American people.
WHIPPLE: It's dangerous.
LEMON: And especially the lawmakers. I mean, the lawmakers must be sitting back going, my gosh, what is -- what is happening? It's like quicksand every day.
So let me read a little bit of Scaramucci and what he told in the White House. He said, "OK, the mooch showed up a week ago. The mooch showed up a week ago. This is going it to get cleaned up very shortly, OK? Because I nail these guys. I got digital footprints on everything they've done through the FBI. And the 'f-ing' Department of Justice."
The language, the tone, the fact that he -- this is on the record. It's incredible. He talks about the FBI as if he can just tell the FBI, give me this information.
WHIPPLE: You know, the only precedent I can think of for this, and even that's a stretch, was the Clinton White House when Dick Morris, the political gun for hire, came in and was whispering in Clinton's ear and undercutting the White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta. And Morris was a reviled human being.
[22:40:07] Scaramucci seems to be trying to give him a run for his money.
LEMON: Yes. But you said that's a stretch. Wasn't to this level.
WHIPPLE: But, you know, it was a stretch because Panetta unlike Reince Priebus was an empowered White House chief of staff, he was able to assert his authority. He demanded that Morris go through him and so, you know, the Clinton White House was able to get through it.
That's not happening here. Reince Priebus has no authority, he has no credibility and he's shown time and time again that there's no red line that he won't happily watch Donald Trump cross, a presidential misconduct, failing to tell the truth. In every way, Priebus has failed to hold Trump accountable and to tell him what he doesn't want to hear.
LEMON: OK. Imagine in -- if they had made that public, I mean, there's no social media then, but they could have gone to any number of reporters and if they made that public, used that kind of language even in the Clinton White House, what do you think would have happened?
WHIPPLE: Well, look, I don't know. There was plenty of tough language going around the Clinton White House, but nothing...
LEMON: On the record to a reporter?
WHIPPLE: Nothing on this scale.
WHIPPLE: And it just goes to show as well that Scaramucci is in way over his head and doesn't know how to operate in this league.
LEMON: Michael, thank you for sitting by patiently. Chris Cuomo, as he calls himself, the mooch, this morning. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: If you want to talk about the chief of staff, we have had odds, we have had differences. When I said we were brothers from the podium, that's because we're rough on each other. Some brothers are like Cain and Abel. Other brothers can fight with each other and get along. I don't know if this is reparable or not. That will be up to the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
One ended up murdering the other one, I mean, is this what the president wants?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: Well, Don, let me tell you a few things before I get to that point. I have a brother. I don't treat him the way that Cain treated Abel. I'm Italian. I don't talk the way Scaramucci talks. I'm from Long Island. I don't behave like he behaves.
So there are a lot of things that us who have brothers and are from Long Island and are Italian are being smeared with these days. I don't own any of it.
LEMON: Amen, brother.
D'ANTONIO: Put that aside, I do think that this is what the president wants. His style in the past in business was to identify a problem and then go to some guy, he thought the toughest guy, and tell him to go fix it. And I think that's what Scaramucci is trying to do. Neither one of them have experience in this realm, in politics.
Neither one of them has actually served the American people before. And I actually have a bone to pick with people who think that serving the president and serving the American people are the same thing. They're not.
D'ANTONIO: But all that said, this is what the president has done in the past. I think he's set this up and he's probably enjoying himself.
LEMON: It's -- you know, I sat -- I sit my office sometimes and I watch what's on, you know, the cable shows before me and I've seen so many people, especially conservative media, making excuses for this sort of behavior, trying to -- I mean, just twisting themselves in pretzels.
Are you shocked by this kind of language? Well, it's not shocking that an adult uses that kind of language, but the fact that someone would be so less than smart, let's put it that way, I won't use that kind of language, so less than smart as a communications director, to go on record with a reporter, or to not start the conversation with this is all off the record on background, is just mind blowing, Michael.
D'ANTONIO: Well, and then he blames the reporter. I mean, Ryan did what all of us do. He did an on-the-record interview. He then went a step further. He went back to the guy and said, OK, I'm warning you, this is what's coming and Scaramucci affirmed that this interview was on the record and he affirmed what Ryan was reporting had transpired.
So, he doesn't have a leg to stand on where there is concern, but, again, he's playing to this one audience. It's an audience of one man. The president. And I think right now, his star is risen and I think Bannon and Priebus ought to watch out.
LEMON: Yes. I wish we had more time. But before -- I want to leave you with this. The audience and you, too, gentlemen. Here's what he told Ryan Lizza. "What I want to do is I want to 'f-ing' kill all the leakers and I want to get the president's agenda on track so we can succeed for the American people." How is this succeeding for the American people? We'll talk.
Plus we have that vote for you happening soon on the Senate floor. They're trying to repeal and replace Obamacare. Dick Durbin there of Illinois on the Senate floor. Democratic senator. We'll be right back in moments.
[22:45:02] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Can Anthony Scaramucci's job be in jeopardy after his blistering attack on the Chief of Staff Reince Priebus?
Tara Setmayer is here, she is a former communications director for Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. CNN political commentator Scott Jennings, CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers, and CNN political commentator, Robby Mook. Robby, welcome, I didn't know you were a CNN -- where have I been?
Tara, it's good to have you back. I haven't seen you in a while. So thanks for coming on, everyone.
I'm going to start with you, Tara. Anthony Scaramucci has come, I mean, come in like a category five hurricane in the job less than a week. I think his official starting day was yesterday. So, you think he's going to make it through the week?
TARA SETMAYER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, he'll certainly make it through the week because obviously Donald Trump has empowered him to be this bulldog to come out there, not be a traditional White House communications director. I mean, I was a communications director on Capitol Hill. Not in the White House but on Capitol Hill. The tenets are basically the same. This is not how you behave.
LEMON: Would you have done that?
SETMAYER: If anyone had done that, they'd be fired. There's no way that that type of behavior, that type of language, on the record, this very bombastic in your face antagonistic relationship would ever -- would ever fly. That's just not appropriate.
[22:50:01] But this is something curious about Scaramucci, as much as everyone is saying that he's a mini me, he's Donald Trump 2.0, Trump likes that, you know, the pugnacious aspect of him, he needs to be careful because he's -- because if it starts to become about him too much, Donald Trump is not going to like that because he needs to be number one all the time.
But this is completely inappropriate and it's very curious where are all of the Evangelicals and the conservative moral values folks that I used to have that would complain about what democrats and progressives would do. Where are they, they're often silent about this guy's behavior.
LEMON: Are you reading my mind? Because I kept thinking where are the religious rights saying this kind of language and behavior is appropriate talk about? I'm not going to -- you know...
SETMAYER: What happens to the values voters, where are they.
LEMON: What is -- what's happening here?
SETMAYER: Often quite.
LEMON: I mean, you're shaking your head. That's what he -- did he not say that?
SCOTT JENNINGS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: That's why he said.
JENNINGS: Still I'm shaking my head because it is still amazing to me that these phrases are being said on national television tonight. I mean, I'm still sort of stunned by. But I've been thinking today about the titles. You know, we've been talking about Scaramucci is a coms director and Reince is a chief of staff.
And I'm wondering if these titles mean anything anymore. I mean, you know, traditionally, traditionally -- well, think about this.
JENNINGS: Traditionally, if I say hey, you're in charge of communications, you're in charge of this. We have a historical framework for what that means.
JENNINGS: These titles don't mean anything because Scaramucci clearly may have a lane that's much broader than communications. And Mr. Priebus may have a lane that's much narrower than chief of staff as the historical framework would point out. So, I'm actually wondering right now if the titles in the West Wing mean much and I'm actually wondering if the president sort of, doesn't think these titles mean much. It's just a slot to put someone is in as an advisor.
SETMAYER: I think he does.
LEMON: Robby Mood, Robby, you have the floor. I mean, does anything work? Does anything matter anymore? What is going -- what do you think of this?
ROBBY MOOK, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, it's an interesting question. And I agree with everything that's been said. I think, you know, the line that Scaramucci needs to be careful not to cross here in terms of staying in Trump's good graces is he doesn't become the story. You know, we may actually watch him go back stage a little bit after this because I can't imagine Trump is happy that he's getting this much attention.
But to your question, you know, I think a lot sadly, and I don't mean to be too cynical. A lot of this has to do with the fact that the economy is doing well right now and we haven't seen the kind of natural disaster or national security situation where American's lives are directly at stake.
I would say this healthcare debate tonight which we are not talking about because of Mr. Scaramucci there lies the stake. But, you know, the problem with all this for the White House is they have no credibility left and if there's a hurricane and if there's an arm conflict and they're trying to talk to the public about what they're doing, people won't believe them.
That's where you're going to see the rubber meet the road, and particularly if the economy starts to tank and this kind of drama continues, people's patience with ran out. So we're on thin ice right now. I don't know how long it will last but this could get dangerous at some point? LEMON: And Robby, you're exactly right. The picture just happens to
be right under -- that's Cory Booker, a New Jersey Senator on the floor now. We're expecting this vote at midnight and an important topic. The White House should be talking about and pushing and pressing but yet they're in the middle of this.
So, I've got to ask you, Kirsten. I almost called you Kir, I don't know why. Kirsten, this paints a picture of a massive dysfunction within the White House. Do you think that -- what do you think voters think about the top administration officials in the White House settling personal grudges publicly with such terrible language. These are people working for the president's agenda. What do you think the supporters and voters out there in America think about this?
KIRSTEN POWERS, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: I mean, I obviously can't speak for all Americans. But I certainly can say that I think it's pretty objectively true that this is not how most grownups behave. It's often -- it's very reminiscent of how maybe middle school, you know, teenagers behave or something like that. This idea of, you know, really being -- they're really drama queens. I mean, when you really get down to it.
But they have this kind of infighting so publicly that the president's going to have to come in because of this fight between Ryan and between Scaramucci and, you know, the president's going to have to decide. I mean, it's extremely juvenile at best.
And there are serious issues going on, as Robby was talking about. This healthcare vote that it's going on right now in the background where people are possibly going to lose their health insurance. And meanwhile, the most important thing for the communications director in the White House is this little spat with Reince Priebus which again, grownups would work it out.
People have disagreements. Particularly in politics and they would work it out in private. They would not have this kind of...
SETMAYER: That's right.
POWERS: ... public hissy fit. There's no other way to put it.
SETMAYER: And let's not forget, this is supposed to be American hero's week. Remember the theme week that they were trying to put out there? That was supposed to be the theme this week.
[22:55:03] Yesterday, they had an announcement of that, you know, a major electronic company was bringing manufacturing to Wisconsin to create thousands of jobs. That's what people elected Donald Trump to do.
And no one knows about that because the communications director who's supposed to come up with a strategy and how to communicate the message to the president to the American people, not throw hissy fits on Twitter and on cable news, he should have been there making sure that message got out and what's going on, having a cohesive message surrounding healthcare.
That's not happening. They say this is Trump's management style. He enjoys it. This isn't like vying for the starting quarterback in high school varsity. This is insane.
LEMON: Robby, is this great management style? Because, you know, many people said I think he's going to be a great manager, he's a businessman. Is this great management style?
MOOK: No. And I think the president chose him because he is to some extent a mini me. He's pugilistic. You know he's unafraid. The thing that I noted the first day that he started this job was he had been in with the president and he was telling the president how the White House needed to let him be himself more.
And it's the president being himself that's gotten us where we are right now. And so, I think we're going to see this thing unwind even more probably. You know, the Boy Scout speech this week and so on.
So this wasn't a change for the best. I really am fascinated to see if he suffers the same consequences that some other White House staffers have when they become the story. If he's pulled back and we don't see him for a while but this will go on. This will go on. It won't end until the republicans around him insist that it stops and sit him down and say there's going to be real consequences. I don't when that will be.
SETMAYER: They need to pay attention to the Skybridge Capital, his company and that sale and the Chinese company is very shady. The foreign business going on there. There is another reason why there's a certain amount of emotion involved here because his financial disclosure which is a public document is outlining that and that was something that flying under the radar and it's not and it's questionable. Because partly why Reince Priebus and Bannon and folks like that didn't want him to be in the White House.
LEMON: Kirsten, I know you didn't -- you wanted to weigh in but I'm sorry. We got to run. So we'll get you in next time.
Thank you very much. When we come right back, how the White House is responding to Scaramucci's shocking attacks on the chief of staff.
And the Senate set to vote tonight on the so-called skinny bill to roll back Obamacare. Corey Booker of New Jersey, a democrat speaking now. Also the CBO score, we're going to get it moments away.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)