Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Scaramucci Threatens To Fire Entire White House Communications Team; Senators Want Guarantee House Won't Pass "Skinny" Bill; Senate Sends Russia Sanctions To Trump's Desk. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired July 27, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:01] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: -- an excellent reporting. Thanks very much. That's it for me. Thanks for watching.
Erin Burnett "OUTFRONT" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, OUTFRONT HOST: OutFront next, breaking news, President Trump's new Communications Director in a profanity on vulgarity lace (ph) war of words going after top aids in the White House. Who will be the last man standing? Plus, after seven years of broken promises, could Republicans repeal parts of Obamacare tonight. We're live on Capitol Hill for this crucial vote. Senator Bernie Sanders will be my guest.
And a bill with punishing new sanctions on Russia headed to the President's desk. Can he afford to veto it? Let's go OutFront.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett OutFront tonight, the breaking news, White House war. The White House in total turmoil and chaos in a sense tonight, thanks to Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci.
Scaramucci, according to the New Yorker magazine, threatening to fire the entire White House Communications team. His reason, well, a reporter at the magazine found out that Scaramucci had dinner with the President and some Fox News employees last night. Scaramucci was upset about the leak. He called that reporter demanding to know the source for that story.
And then, in a profanity-laden tirade, Scaramucci accused the Chief of Staff Reince Priebus of being the leaker. Scaramucci telling the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza that Priebus is "an f-ing paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac." And frankly, that was the least foul and offensive thing Scaramucci said in this conversation.
Scaramucci then imagined how Priebus might have schemed against him. "Let me leak the f-ing thing and see if I can blank block those people the way I blank blocked Scaramucci for six months." That sounds like war.
And look at this photo released today. Scaramucci and Priebus on opposite sides of the Oval Office. Can you get the sense there? But then let's just look more closely at their faces. That photo surely says 1,000 words. And then listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Now, 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. Others can fight with each other and get along. I don't know if this is repairable or not. That will be up to the President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Up to daddy, I guess. Remember, Cain killed Abel and lied about it. In fact, Scaramucci threatened to "f-ing kill all the leakers." Later turning his attention to Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. And this was the most disgusting thing he said. Let me try to summarize it.
You may need to go look at the New Yorker if you don't understand what I'm been saying here. "I'm not Steve Bannon. I'm not going to blank my own blank. I'm not going to build my own brand off the f-ing strength of the President. I'm here to serve the country." Asked about the feud here, the feud between Scaramucci and Priebus, first and foremost, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't know if he has an opinion on what they should do between the two of them. I think the President, as always, enjoys healthy competition and conversation and he sees that as such.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: He sees this is how the competition. OK. How can this go on? Because this is all happening as we're following major breaking news on Capitol Hill. Senators right now in the verge of voting on a bill to repeal parts of Obamacare seven years in the making. Bernie Sanders is going to be my guest in just a couple of moments on this.
I want to begin though with the war in the White House and Jeff Zeleny who is OutFront there tonight. And Jeff, I don't think even at this point anybody could have made this up and yet here we are. This is really happening. What's going on?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, for all the unusual fights, for all the, you know, infighting, the discussions that have happened over the last six months, today was a different day entirely. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus I guess has been on the ropes for a while. He's been unsure of his standing inside the White House. But that has been largely a private conversation.
Today that spilled out in public view with apparent blessing from the President himself. Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House Communications Director, less than a week in the job, is more than a communications director. That became clear today by making these statements. And you were just reading them there, the expletives.
We got just got a tweet a short time ago from Anthony Scaramucci himself who explained it like this. Let's take a look at this. He said, "I sometimes use colorful language. I will refrain in this arena, but not give up the passionate fight for real Donald Trump's agenda #MakeAmericaGreatAgain."
Erin, what is not included in the tweet there, even though there would have been room, I think, was an apology either to Steve Bannon, to Reince Priebus, people who would outrank Communications Director in a normal flow of the White House. So it is unclear at this hour, this evening going into tomorrow where Reince Priebus stands on this.
We talked to allies of his who say, you know, he is simply trying to do his job. He's not trying to pick a fight. He chose today, Erin, not to respond to any of this. He was in the east room of the White House. He was other places.
[19:05:07] But where this sits, Erin, this is a different case. The New Yorkers versus the Washington split we have been seeing for a while. This changed. Anthony Scaramucci is more in charge here. We'll see if the President agrees with this new line of language. He just may, Erin.
BURNETT: He just may. And of course the question will be then how long does he? Is that indefinitely or not?
OutFront now, Chris Cillizza, reporter and editor-in-large for CNN politics. Jen Psaki, former White House Communications Director for President Obama. Bill Kristol, editor-at-large for the Weekly Standard who also served as chief of staff for Vice President, and Paris Dennard who served in the George W. Bush White House. None of you have seen anything like this. I think we can stay there.
I mean, Bill, paranoid schizophrenic paranoid, let's start with that because I am not going to keep just saying blanking, blanking. I mean, these things were vulgar and foul. Paranoid schizophrenic, the least offensive thing that he said.
BILL KRISTOL, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT DAN QUAYLE: Right. And he does this right up to having dinner with the President. So, this reflecting the President's views about this (INAUDIBLE) stuff. For me, the one sentence I want to add to all the ones you read so well without questioning, that was impressive, really, Erin.
He also says he's complaining about the leaks. He's going to shutdown the leakers. I've got digital fingerprints on everything they have done through the FBI and the blanking Department of Justice. (INAUDIBLE), I assume he's making this up or boasting or lying. I believe it would be illegal for a White House aid to go to the FBI and the Department of Justice and say I'd like you to tap or report to me the phone calls made by other people at the White House.
KRISTOL: Did he discuss this? But he probably didn't do it, but he probably thought of doing it. He didn't discuss with the President at dinner right before. Did the President say, hey, that's a good idea. Find out who those leakers are. I mean, what was Nixon -- incidentally for the impeachment counts against Nixon. Using the FBI and the Department of Justice to tap individuals outside of the normal legal process.
You can't just -- Anthony Scaramucci honestly believes that he has the right as the senior White House aides take it, to call up the FBI and the Department of Justice.
BURNETT: And say tell me who did it.
KRISTOL: Yes. And tap these phones, get me the phone records of other people at White House, of other individuals maybe aren't at the White House. And Donald Trump I suspect thinks that's fine, too.
BURNETT: And of course it isn't.
KRISTOL: It is not because it is illegal. Yes.
BURNETT: Illegal. All right. Jen, look, you did Anthony Scaramucci's job. You were White House Communications Director. So can he be doing his job if he's out there ranting expletives and saying these foul things about the chief of staff and other senior advisers including Steve Bannon??
JEN PSAKI, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I don't think he was hired to be the communications director. He was hired to be a mini me of Donald Trump. And that's clearly what Donald Trump was looking for, given he approved of and supported the comments he went out and made about a number of senior aids.
But, yes, I think there's an important point. The Communications Director is actually a role that is an important role and not just because I had it, I'm I saying not, in the White House. It's somebody who is developing the strategy and telling the story of the President. It's helping further the agenda, get legislation passed, shape the public perception. Clearly that's not happening and clearly he wasn't hired to do that. He might even say he's a mini me of Donald Trump. Who knows.
BURNETT: Well, I mean, he seems to be proud of that. I mean, you know, himself re-tweeting the Daily Show mimic (ph), you know, that showed all of their mannerisms being the same, right? I mean --
BURNETT: -- light of it and certainly with pride. I mean, Paris, look, what I just said was foul and too foul to read out loud. But here's what one Republican senator said about all of this that's going on and that is before Scaramucci's vulgarity become public. Here's Senator Kennedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: He have all these aids that work for the President, and they want daddy to love them best. And so they fight over turf and they try to hurt each other. It looks to me like this is, in this White House, it is out of control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Paris, is there anybody to argue this White House is not out of control right now?
PARIS DENNARD, FORMER WHITE HOUSE BLACK OUTREACH DIRECTOR UNDER PRESIDENT GW BUSH: I mean, I don't certainly think that this White House is out of control. I think what's out of control in the White House could possibly be all of the leaks. And it's about time that somebody took this seriously inside of the west wing.
I know it's a priority of the President. He thinks these leaks are out of control. And I know that Scaramucci is now the White House Communications Director, but he is taking these leaks very seriously because they are illegal, they are not helping deliver the message of the President, of the White House, the mission and the mandate that he has
to make America great again.
And so, it's about time somebody is coming in there and says, you know what? We've got to get to the bottom of this and do it very quickly. This is day one on the job and he's very crystal clear about what he's going to do within the confines of the communications shop. He's going to fix it.
BURNETT: So Chris, Scaramucci came in like a cat five hurricane, right? He's been in the White House for a few days and every single story since he came in has been about him, except for transgender, OK? Not exactly good when you're trying to get health care and other things, OK? You just heard what he said about Steve Bannon.
Now, we all know what happened to Steve Bannon when all the press stories started being about Steve Bannon and he became sort of a puppeteer in the guy on the cover of TIME Magazine. Is Scaramucci at risk? Right now the President may love it, but how long?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, what's amazing, Erin, is unless something has changed, I believe his formal start date is August 15th.
[19:10:06] So he's not technically a member of the White House staff yet. You have two competing things that we know about Donald Trump. On the one hand, we know Donald Trump is personal friends with Anthony Scaramucci. Likes Anthony Scaramucci as sort a TV presence and views him a sort of, of that world, of the New York world. He likes the suit he wears, he likes how he presents himself, right. He's the anti-Sean Spicer. So that's on the other hand.
On the other hand, to your point, we know that Donald Trump hates when people who work for him get bad press for him, right? Steve Bannon, even Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, all these people have found themselves -- Jeff Sessions, all these people have found themselves on the outs with Donald Trump. So, those two things will come into collision.
The tweet that Jeff Zeleny read from Scaramucci is very Trumpian. It is not an apology. It is not, I shouldn't have said these things. It's hey, sometimes I get a little bit passionate, and don't use right words, but it's all in support of making America great again. So, that is not a repentant tweet.
CILLIZZA: And remember this morning he told Chris Cuomo that he had just got off the phone with the President and in his words, I've got nothing to worry about. I'm doing fine.
BURNETT: I mean, you know, Bill, is that true? I mean, this is a President who has -- manages this way. He loves to have the fighting and the chaos, right? You heard Sarah Huckabee Sanders referred to that. The President's long-time friend Tom Barrack was even more blunt. He talked to me a couple months ago about this and here's how he put it, why the President is actually may love this moment. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BARRACK, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LONGTIME FRIEND: There's only one president, and there is only one point of view. What happens is he curates different points of view and he encourages confusion against them. You are going to have fights inside of the sand box that are on purpose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So he likes this? You have been in the White House. Is there any -- is it effective to have your top advisors talking like this about each other publically?
KRISTOL: Of course not. And I don't know if he really likes it. You know, he likes a lot of people bickering as long as the subordinate role (ph). Scaramucci being a mini me that's now exceeding the maxi me, exceeding Trump, you know, in terms of press coverage and being even bolder than anything Trump has said I suppose. You have to give him credit for being bolder than Donald Trump.
I don't what the Trump does. But I think it's also more than a press and media thing. I mean, will Scaramucci get an FBI security clearance? You know, they do consider people's emotional stability. If this guy has dinner with the President of the United States and says what he said to Ryan last night and boost about seeking the FBI and the Justice Department and other people at the White House? Is he really the kind of person you want having access -- I'm serious about this.
So I think people are underestimating how bad this is for Scaramucci and I think they're also underestimating how much Trump will dislike it. And I, myself, wouldn't be surprised to see him back at the Exxon Bank in a couple of weeks. He cannot be -- he can't do -- you can't have this. I mean, whatever you think of Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon is, it's slightly madly (ph) crew at the Trump White House, this is on a scale different from anything at the Trump White House or anything I've really seen. And it is so much like Nixon thing, right? I'm going to sick the FBI on you?
BURNETT: Yes. All right. You all going to stay with me for this hour.
Next, after seven years of talk about repealing Obamacare, will it all come down to tonight? Senator Bernie Sanders is up to the plate next.
Plus, the head of the boy scouts apologizes to parents after Trump get scouts to boo Clinton and Obama. Should Trump apologize? If they should not will. And Trump's interpretation of the New York skyline is on the auction block tonight. How much will this sketch fetch?
[19:17:10] BURNETT: Breaking news on health care. The Senate is moments away from voting on a bill to roll back parts of Obamacare. But three top Republican senators are now demanding assurances over the so-called skinny version of the bill.
Any, by the way, you are totally forgiven if you are like what's going on here, skinny thought, whatever. They don't seem to know either. Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Ron Johnson have said this, though. They said they will not vote yes without a guarantee that the House won't pass their version. How is that for a vote of confidence in their own legislation? Here they are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I'm not going to vote for a bill that is terrible policy and horrible politics just because we have to get something done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, it's an incredible thing to say, right? But yet -- I mean, let's bring Ryan Nobles in now. Because, Ryan, it does seem completely chaotic here. Nobody seems to know what they are voting for. People who are voting for it hate it. I don't get it.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You're not the only one, Erin. I think there were a lot of us that went into this press conference with Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Ron Johnson and Bill Cassidy and left even more confused than we were when we went in.
But to your point about those four senators saying that they're not going to vote for this skinny repeal unless they can get assurances from House Republicans that they will go to conference and not pass the bill outright, they're not the only ones. In fact, every Republican senator that I talked to today, and I talked to a fair amount, all said the same exact thing, that they do not want this bill to become law. So they are willing to vote for it, but only as a vehicle to get into a conference which would allow members of the House and members of the Senate to come together to come up with some sort of a broad repeal and replace plan.
And there is a development with this tonight, Erin. We are told that the House Republican conference is going to meet tomorrow morning to discuss health care and at this point, Speaker Paul Ryan has been very vague about this potential assurance that these senators are looking for. That is perhaps because he wants to get the temperature from his rank and file members essentially once the Senate passes this bill, they are handing it over to the House. It will be the responsibility of the House to take it into conference. And that's likely what they'll discuss tomorrow morning.
BURNETT: I'm sorry. One of these things that makes people hate Congress is gross and depressing, the whole process here. I hope I speak for some watching the show tonight.
There is, though, something that just happened, that was a big achievement. A big accomplishment there where you are, Ryan, the sanctions bill that just passed the Senate now going to the President's desk on Russia. How significant is that?
NOBLES: Yes. Erin, at least tonight we can officially say that Congress did get something done by an overwhelming margin, 98 to 2 vote. The Senate finally passed the bill that would put much tougher sanctions on Russia and even more importantly would give Congress more authority over keeping those sanctions in place, taking some of that responsibility away from the White House.
It also includes tougher sanctions on Iran and North Korea. The big question, though, Erin is will President Trump sign this into law. So far the White House has not said definitively that he will.
[19:20:11] BURNETT: All right. That is the big question tonight. Thank you very much, Ryan.
And I want to go now to Senator Bernie Sanders. So, Senator, I guess I made my sentiment clear on how watching the sausage looks to me -- and I believe to a lot of people. But I want to ask you about the sanctions but I want to start with health care. Have you even seen this bill, this so-called skinny repeal bill, whatever the heck that means, whatever bill it is, that you are expected to vote on tonight. Have you seen it?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Erin, by the way, I think you did a good job in expressing exactly not only how the people of the United States feel about this insane process, but about how most members of the United States Senate feel. No, I have not seen the bill. I don't think most members of the Senate have seen the bill.
There has not been one public hearing on a bill that impacts one-sixth of the American economy and every single American. You have a process in which the bills brought forth are opposed by the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the AARP, every major health care organization in America and they're trying to push this through.
So you're quite right in saying this whole process has been totally bananas. And the answer to it, and McCain made this point the other day in his speech, which I'm sure you heard, is you've got to go back to what we call normal order, regular order. And that means you have the committees discuss this bill in a bipartisan manner. We try to improve the Affordable Care Act, not destroy it. That's what the American people want.
BURNETT: OK. So, from what we understand, the bill as it is, which by the way I think is worth discussing on some level because it is very possible it passes the Senate and then even though senators are voting for it saying that it stinks and should never become law the House decides to pass it and send to the President does not put it into conference. This is possible. So this could become the law of the land.
BURNETT: From what we understand, though, this bill would roll back the mandates, right, so people would not be forced to buy insurance anymore. But it wouldn't touch Medicaid. OK, so on principal, is there something in here, I'm talking specifically about Medicaid, that you, Senator Sanders, can get behind?
SANDERS: No. What this bill does, and you heard Lindsey Graham make this point, not me, Lindsey Graham, according to the Congressional Budget Office, it would raise premium rates by 20% the first year, another 20% the next year and also 16 million people would be removed from the ranks of the -- there's nothing I can support there. What we need to do is improve the Affordable Care Act, not throw millions of people off of health insurance. And there are ways to do that.
We could have a public option for every state in this country. We can lower the cost of prescription drugs. We can lower Medicare eligible age. There are things that we can do that the American people support.
BURNETT: All right. So in that press conference, McCain, Graham, Johnson, senators saying they need assurances because they think this bill is so bad as Republicans, they want -- they'll vote for it as long as they are assured by Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, that it will not pass the House. It will go to conference, all right?
So he won't just take it and send it to the House. He will put it in discussion and supposedly something good will come out of it, even though that has failed for seven years to happen. Now, his spokesperson, Paul Ryan, spokesperson just told us that he will not make any kind of a guarantee. You heard Ryan Nobles report that.
My question for you, Senator, is when you talk about things that John McCain said the other night and working together and turning to order, have you talked to any of those three senators, Johnson, McCain, Graham to try to work something out?
SANDERS: Well, I have, you know, in passing. But there is a lot of discussion going on between, you know, Democrats and Republicans to see how we could go forward. But I would just say to you, Erin, this idea of just going to conference is no magical solution. You can literally go to conference for 15 minutes, pass something and take it out. What needs to happen is the return to regular order, serious committee discussion, serious hearings about how we go forward.
BURNETT: Senator, I want to ask you about that sanctions bill that just passed 98 to2. There is a lot of discussion because you voted against it. You said before, you have been very blunt. You said Russian President Putin is holding something over Trump's head. You said in your words it's no "great secret" that the Russians meddled in the U.S. election.
Look, this bill gives Congress powers to block the President easing sanctions against Moscow. It would seem to be exactly what you think needs to be done. Why were you one of the two, you and Rand Paul, to vote against it?
SANDERS: Good. I absolutely and strongly support the Russian sanctions for all the reasons that you gave. We have got to hold Putin accountable for trying to wreck with the elections here that we've held doing the same in other countries, et cetera, et cetera. Support the sanctions against North Korea.
What worries me very much, Erin, is that we have a President who I think does not want us to have -- and even create an even playing field in the Middle East. I think the tilt is very, very much on the side of the authoritarian Saudi government. I worry very much about a war with Iran. And that concerns me very much. So I think we have to talk a new look at --
[19:25:12] BURNETT: So this was a vote on principal. You wanted to make a point. Obviously, you went up to. So, you knew you were going to get the sanctions.
SANDERS: Yes, I knew that.
BURNETT: It's not making a point about sanctions here is what you're trying to say. This is about something else.
SANDERS: Yes. Well, it is about the fact that I think we need to have a level playing field and be even handed in the Middle East, not simply side with Saudi Arabia and always be against Iran. We need to bring these people together and the United States can be an important power broker in that process.
BURNETT: Senator Sanders, thank you for your time.
SANDES: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next breaking news, Jeff Sessions speaks out on Trump's tweets and his future as attorney general of the United States. And a Putin critic who testified to Congress today on what he believes happened in that controversial Trump Tower meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL BROWDER, CEO, HERMITAGE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: Nobody was talking about adoption. They were talking about the repeal of sanctions so that Russian tortures and murders could freely travel and keep their money in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Bill Browder is OutFront this hour.
BURNETT: New tonight, the leader of the boy scouts apologizing for subjecting his scouts, most of them are teenagers, to President Trump's political speech at the group's gathering this week.
Now, just to remind you what is prompting this apology, this is to some of what the President said to the scouts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I'm in front of the boy scouts, right? We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that. By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?
And, you know, we have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College. Popular vote is much easier.
We ought to change to it from the word swamp to the word cesspool or perhaps to the word sewer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: After that speech, the Scouts released a statement saying they don't promote any one political position or candidate. But that did little to quell the dispute.
So, today, a much sharper statement came from the scout executive and he writes, quote, I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our scouting family who are offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. That was never our intent.
So, let's just be clear, because, by the way, there was some people the other night who were saying that the president was not being political and it wasn't political rhetoric, and I think -- I just want to make it clear here that the Scout chief is saying that it was. So, whether you agree or not, he is saying it was political rhetoric.
I want to bring back my panel.
Chris Cillizza, you wrote about some of those cringe-worthy lines from Trump speech I just played a couple of them. Did the Scouts get boxed into a corner here? I mean, you know, when you hear the booing, it was pretty loud.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes, they did. Look, the speech that was written for Donald Trump to deliver, which he did, was probably fine. But this is like all Donald Trump's speeches.
BURNETT: This was the (INAUDIBLE) I would presume, right?
CILLIZZA: Right. In between the written speech that he's reading from the prompter like every president, not unique to him, he ad-libs. And the ad-libbing is this again is true for almost all of Donald Trump speeches where he gets into trouble. This is where he veers off into the Barack Obama never spoke to this group and the stuff about Michigan and Wisconsin and everybody said we couldn't win.
So, that -- he -- the story of the Trump presidency. He is his own worst enemy. He does this stuff to himself. He has pretty good to very good natural instincts as a communicator, but he doesn't realize and stop himself when he should. And as a result, it gets in his own way a lot of the time. This was an incident -- a case of that.
BURNETT: And, Paris, it sounds like he treated it like a rally -- we with the Electoral College. We. And, right, I mean, look, the cheers were loud. I'll give you that. But there were clearly people there who didn't agree and they didn't feel they were part of that we.
PARIS DENNARD, FORMER WHITE HOUSE BLACK OUTREACH DIRECTOR UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: And I think that was the minority in the 45,000 plus Boy Scouts that were there. I think we can mix and slice and dice six or seven lines that we didn't like that might have been considered political in an entire speech, which actually was a very good positive speech.
But I will tell you this, Erin, in 10, 15 years, those Boy Scouts are not going to remember every line or any line that the president gave. They're going to remember the fact the president of the United States and two sitting cabinet members came to the jamboree. They're going to remember the fact that the previous president didn't come.
It is just like our graduation speakers. You may not remember every word that they say, but you remember the fact that that person came and spoke to you. So, it's -- the bigger issue is the president came to the jamboree and they cheered him and they cheered him loudly.
BURNETT: I will -- I will say, though, I don't remember who didn't come or who rejected coming to my college to speak. I do remember who -- it's a positive thing.
DENNARD: Well, Mrs. Bush was supposed to my graduation speaker. She didn't come.
BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I remember a good address by a president that didn't serve out his term, you know? I mean, what a jackass you have to be to speak to the Boy Scouts and attack your predecessors as president of the United States. Here you are all American civic thing. Don't say a word if you can't say something nice about Barack Obama. Previous presidents I would say would probably have cited their
predecessors. Dwight Eisenhower spoke there. Barack Obama treated Boy Scout in the White House, you know? You say something about the presidency as a whole.
BURNETT: The honor of the office.
KRISTOL: Yes. But, God forbid, Donald Trump, of course he wouldn't say anything nice about any of his predecessors, whether it's Barack Obama or George W. Bush or Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan. But he really has to attack Barack Obama, his predecessor as president of the United States, who behaved with some dignity in office?
I wrote eight years of editorials criticizing Barack Obama, but Barack Obama behaved in a way that is a much better example for Boy Scouts than Donald Trump. (INAUDIBLE) about this.
BURNETT: Paris, did you agree with that, Paris?
DENNARD: Why can't --
BURNETT: Also this point, when it comes to personal behavior, are you OK with the model that Donald Trump is setting for Boy Scouts?
DENNARD: I think evident by the 45,000 Boy Scouts that cheered this man when he came out on that stage. They applauded him and they loved every minute of it.
I think when you look at personal people who should be your mentors or your heroes, you should look to your family. You should look towards people that you are close to.
But I will say this, for Bill Kristol not to get one segment and calling the president a jackass totally flies in the face of his current statements about the president. How about you follow suit but what you want the president to do and show him a little bit of respect? And do what the Boy Scouts, what you should -- what you think that they should do? That's inappropriate. Let's set the standards.
KRISTOL: Oh, I'm so sorry.
DENNARD: No, you're not. Don't patronize me. All I'm saying --
KRISTOL: People like you who have been rationalizing Donald Trump and defending him in and everything about him. I hope you are pleased with his behavior in the White House and pleased with Anthony Scaramucci saying what he said.
[19:35:03] I said the word jackass. What did Anthony Scaramucci say?
DENNARD: He didn't say anything to you and the president hadn't said anything to you specifically on air like this. But what I will say is, we should elevate it. We're talking about the Boy Scouts. If you have a problem with the president, let's reflect on what you just said. You can get through a segment without personally attacking the president and tell him out of his name. It's ridiculous and you know it is.
KRISTOL: I don't think it's ridiculous. He's a jackass, I'm just going to say it.
DENNARD: Here's the question. Here's the question. Erin, here's the question. Should the boy scouts go around calling the president and other people jackasses because they disagree with them politically? I don't think so.
KRISTOL: No, not because they disagree with him politically, but they think he's behaving very badly and inappropriately.
DENNARD: This is ridiculous. No, they didn't. They applauded him. They cheered him. Read the entire speech. It's a very good speech. I'll tweet it tonight and I'll tag in it so you can read it.
BURNETT: All right. Let me ask you a question, Jen, about the president here though because you've got the head of the Boy Scouts, right, who had come out and sort of tepidly apologized and then came out, as we said, with a very sharp apology, right? The response though from the White House so far is far from an apology, right? The president himself has said absolutely nothing.
The press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is the one who weighed in, and here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I was at that event and heard nothing but a lot of cheering and probably one of the most energetic crowds I've seen in front of the president. And so, I don't have anything to add. I haven't seen a statement from the Boy Scouts, so I can't comment any further than what I saw firsthand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, obviously, Jen, there will be no apology from the White House from the president?
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. And I think we should take a step back here for a second. I'm a mom. I know a lot of people on this panel are parents. These are kids in this audience with their parents. And they're more concerned probably about video games and camping and fishing.
He didn't know his audience. But more importantly, he was offensive to his audience. Yes, there was cheering, but this isn't political analysis about a rally. This is about speaking to a bunch of kids and being the commander-in-chief and the president and not the leader of a political party.
And when you're president, a lot of the things on your schedule are ceremonial. You are meeting with kids. You're meeting with students. You're meeting with teachers. You're meeting with sports teams.
And he really has not found a way to adapt to that and really find a way to bring the country together. You can do that through opportunities like the Boy Scouts speech.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. Well said. I appreciate it.
And next, my guest says there was a lot more to that controversial Donald Trump Jr. meeting with the Russians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BROWDER, TESTIFIED BEFORE THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE TODAY: I can guarantee you this was something discussed at an extremely high level in Russia before and after.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Before and after.
And Jeff Sessions breaking his silence for the first time about being denigrated by the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it's kind of hurtful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:41:42] BURNETT: Breaking news, a new bill punishing Russia for meddling in the 2016 election is now on its way to the president's desk. It has just passed the Senate. The White House refusing to say, though, if the president will actually sign the bill.
But it comes as we're hearing new and gripping testimony from a key witness in the Russia investigation, Bill Browder, a long time Russia critic, you may have seen last night. Today, he testified before the Senates. He spoke about the controversial meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROWDER: This was a big ask, to go and ask the possible future next president of the United States to repeal a major piece of human rights legislation. They wouldn't have gone in and say, please, can you repeal this for us without having something to offer in return.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT now, Bill Browder.
Now, Bill, today, you talked a lot about the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer in your testimony. You spoke a lot about other very powerful, very wealthy Russians who would have had serious interest in this meeting. Who are they?
BROWDER: Well, I think it starts out with the number one Russian and the wealthiest Russian, which is Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin was a -- is the wealthiest man in the world with $200 billion. Vladimir Putin is also, based on our evidence, somebody who benefitted from the crime that Sergei Magnitsky exposed and was killed over and therefore subject to the Magnitsky Act.
And so, Vladimir Putin's own money that he holds in the West could potentially be frozen. And then we go down below Vladimir Putin and there's many other oligarchs who have a lot of money in the West who are involved in all sorts of terrible things in Russia.
BURNETT: So, obviously, they would all have a lot at stake with the sanctions that are under discussion here. Today, you were very clear that Russian intelligence knew about this meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROWDER: Well, I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that the Russian intelligence services would have been aware of that meeting in advance as they were plotting it out. There would have been weeks spent studying how to best achieve the results in that meeting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, Bill, you have also told me the Russian lawyer without a doubt was working on behalf of the Russian government. So, do you think that there was a follow-up to this meeting or even more meetings?
BROWDER: I don't know whether there was any follow ups. I don't know whether any of the offers they made were accepted. But I can guarantee you that this was something discussed at an extremely high level in Russia before and after.
BURNETT: So, you know, they -- everyone in the meeting, Donald Trump, Jr. has said, look, it was a waste of my time. It was 20 minutes I wish I could get back. The response we've heard from the president, as well as his son, is that the meeting was actually about adoption of Russian children. Here they are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRES. TRUMP: It was sort of nonsensical and garbled, and quickly went on to, you know, a story about Russian adoption and how we could possibly help.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I guess they talked about -- as I see it, they talked about adoption and some things. Adoption wasn't even a part of the campaign.
SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And there was nothing as far as we know that would lead anything to believe that there was anything except for discussion about adoption and the Magnitsky Act. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You made it very clear in today's hearing that you do not believe that they were talking about the adoption of children, right?
BROWDER: That's correct. Whenever anyone mentions adoption in relation to Russians, they're talking about Magnitsky sanctions, sanctions against Russian torturers and murderers.
[19:45:01] Adoption is effectively a code word.
It's -- basically what happened was that when the Magnitsky sanctions were put in place, Vladimir Putin got so mad that he then banned the adoption of orphans, Russian orphans by American families. There was no talk about adoption. It's a talk about allowing Russian torturers and murderers to freely spend their money and come to the U.S.
BURNETT: So, you know, Donald Trump himself spoke to Vladimir Putin, of course, as we know at the G20, and there was an undisclosed conversation that they had. We now know about it. Donald Trump spoke to "The New York Times" about it and the president says that this meeting with Vladimir Putin was also about adoption. Here he is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: Actually, it was very interesting. We talked about adoption.
REPORTER: You did?
TRUMP: Russian adoption. Yes, I always found that interesting because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because that was a part of the conversation that Don had.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Does the president not know adoption is a code word for Russian sanctions and the Magnitsky Act to Vladimir Putin or what?
BROWDER: I don't know what the president knows or he doesn't know.
But I guarantee you that Vladimir Putin wasn't talking about adoptions. He was talking about repealing this piece of legislation, which is the single largest foreign policy priority he has. He hates the Magnitsky Act. And if he's linking it to adoptions, the main purpose of this conversation was trying to get this sanctions legislation repealed.
BURNETT: So, he actually weighed in on this today, taking questions from the press. President Putin was asked about the investigation into Russian meddling in the United States and about possible new sanctions, of course, that Congress seems eager to impose. And here is what he said about the whole situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): What we see is merely a growth of anti-Russian hysteria and utilization of Russophobia for domestic politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Anti-Russian hysteria and Russophobia?
BROWDER: That's his stock answer any time he gets caught doing anything. He basically blames it on the West and then tries to create this image in Russia so he could tell his people, look, we're surrounded, everybody hates us, I'm you're strong leader, I'm going to stand up to them, when, in fact, it's all about him stealing money from people, killing people and then trying to hide behind this nationalism.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Bill Browder. I appreciate your time as always. Thanks, sir.
BROWDER: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, we now know what Jeff Sessions thinks about the president's attacks on him. You'll hear the attorney general surprising response.
And drawings by Donald Trump, drawings from critical reviews as they are about to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Jeanne Moos asks, what is this worth?
BURNETT: New tonight, Sessions speaking out. For the first time, the attorney general talking about the near daily attacks he has withstood from President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:50:05] SESSIONS: Well, it's kind of hurtful, but the president of the United States is a strong leader. He is determined to move this country in the direction he believes it needs to go to make us great again, and he has had a lot of criticisms, and he's steadfastly determined to get his job done and he wants all of us to do our jobs. And that's what I intend to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, while many Trump supporters would like the president to lay off Sessions, by the way, for them, it doesn't mean they're ready to give up on the president. You heard those things he had to say about him, very positive things. And even in the attorney general's home state, voters seem to be -- well, picking Trump.
Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Alabama, it's not political, it's personal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm extremely disappointed with what's going on here lately.
SAVIDGE: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is from Alabama. Voters electing him four times to the U.S. Senate. The last time, he was unopposed.
(on camera): He's pretty well-liked here.
ADAM STRANGE, MOBILE CITY, REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIR: Yes, he is.
SAVIDGE: Loved maybe even.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Sessions was the first senator to endorse candidate Trump and political insiders here say that turned millions of conservative skeptics into Trump voters.
SESSIONS: Make America great again.
STRANGE: His endorsement of Donald Trump, it kind of make me take pause and step back and say, hey, do I need to give this guy another look.
SESSIONS: Alabama voted overwhelmingly 62.7 percent for Trump. That's the highest percentage of any Southern state.
SAVIDGE: So, Trump naming Sessions attorney general wasn't just seen here as reward, but right.
BUZZ JORDAN, LOCAL ATTORNEY: As attorney general of the United States, you want integrity. That's bottom line.
TRUMP: I'm very disappointed with the attorney general.
SAVIDGE: The president's sudden about-face and unprecedented public attacks on their native son has many Trump voters here shocked.
KELLY PAUL, TRUMP VOTER: I don't think it's right. It's more like kid play, kid drama. He can do better. I mean, there's more things to be worried about than little things like this.
SAVIDGE (on camera): Is it turning people away from the president in any way, support-wise?
TERRY LATHAN, ALABAMA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIR: I mean, there's going to be some people that probably will, yes. I have no polling data that shows me that.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Some in Alabama have heard enough. Congressman Mo Brooks, who's running for Jeff Sessions' old Senate seat, issued a statement, saying in part, I support President Trump's policies, but this public waterboarding of one of the greatest people Alabama has ever produced is inappropriate and insulting to the people of Alabama.
But despite the anger or insult, nothing here suggests that Trump voters are abandoning the president in large numbers.
LATHAN: President Trump, he is so popular in the state.
SAVIDGE (on camera): Still?
LATHAN: Still. Very much still so.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): At Dick Russell's barbecue in Sessions' hometown of Mobile, breakfast and politics both come in generous portions, and Matt Waltman is struggling.
MATT WALTMAN, TRUMP VOTER: I'm not trying to jump off the Trump train.
SAVIDGE: He's torn between his support of the president and the attorney general home-state hero.
WALTMAN: I'm extremely discouraged with it. I hope that these two -- I hope that these two offices can squash this and move forward. And you especially don't need it being put all over damn Twitter.
SAVIDGE: The president has put many of his Alabama supporters in a political quandary, unsure of which side to choose, hoping they won't have to.
SAVIDGE: You know, with all this talk of displeasure on the part of the president, you've got to wondering, if Jeff Sessions were suddenly unemployed, could he get his old job back here in Alabama, senator, because it turns out, next month, there is a special election for that very seat. Now, a lot would have to happen in a short amount of time. But I asked Republican voters, would you take sessions back as your senator? Everyone had the same answer, in a heartbeat -- Erin.
BURNETT: Jeff Sessions is going to say the president needs to make a decision quickly.
All right. Thanks very much, Martin Savidge.
And OUTFRONT next, the bidding ends in just moments for an original sketch by Donald Trump. Jeanne Moos examines the work of art.
[19:57:37] BURNETT: So, everyone knows about Trump's art of the deal. But what about a deal on Trump's art? The Trump original just moments away from being auctioned off. Bidding started at $9,000. And there are currently 11 bids.
This is breaking news, folks. And here's Jeanne Moos.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We see him sign executive orders. We see him sign autographs that look like seismographs. But have we ever seen President Trump draw?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's in fantastic condition.
MOOS: Up for auction online, New York City skyline drawn by Donald Trump for a charity event back in 2005. Of course, that's Trump Tower center stage.
(on camera): I think "The Washington Post" said the Trump Tower is really 64th in height in New York. And it kind of looks like it's right up there among the tallest in this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he's shoulder to shoulder with the big boys there in the skyscrapers in this drawing.
MOOS (voice-over): And with what did the artiste draw?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is sort of like a golden magic marker.
MOOS: The drawing is up for bid at Nate D. Sanders Auction, along with items ranging from JFK's driver's license application to a ticket for Bill Clinton's Senate impeachment trial.
But Trump's drawing is getting five times as many views as anything else, even this autographed photo of Einstein sticking out his tongue with a minimum reserve bid of $100,000.
It's not the only Trump drawing up for bid. Another auctioneer, Golden Auctions, is offering another Trump skyline created for a different charity event.
The Twitter account Trump Draws has been mocking the president by showing him holding up childish drawings with childish misspellings. An online posters are taking shots at the president's skyline.
I think this needs to go back on the refrigerator that it once graced.
But the auction manager disagreed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not bad.
MOOS: He calls the lines assured, bold.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's not a lot of hesitation in the skyline.
MOOS: Some don't hesitate to find hidden meaning. It looks like a bunch of middle finger salutes. Somebody should trim those fingernails.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: And as I said, this is breaking news. Where is our banner? The bidding ends in just seconds. The current bid is right now $23,347. The initial was only $9,000. So people want it.
Thanks for joining us. Anderson's next.