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Leaks Escalate Rift Inside Trump White House; Sen. Chris Coons Questions Sessions' Role In Comey's Firing. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 27, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR (via telephone): -- in class and kindness in their pursuit.

I get the fourth estate and I understand why the First Amendment is embedded in the constitution.

I'm not -- I'm not -- I'm just talking about the spectrum of journalists that come into the White House compound. We're going to treat them with respect, and dignity, and kindness.


SCARAMUCCI: We're going to hope that they do the same to us. They have to be fair and tough like you are, there's no question about that.

I'm making a different point. I'm a crystal clear, transparent person.

CUOMO: Good.

SCARAMUCCI: I'm far from in trouble. I don't like what's going on.

I know the financial form -- it came available 13 seconds ago -- and I understand the sausage factory and the process of the way it was leaked. It's dishonest --

CUOMO: I get you.

SCARAMUCCI: -- it's shady, it's dirty pool.

Pick another neighborhood expression from Queens, OK? You know it's not right.

CUOMO: I understand.

SCARAMUCCI: But what it's done to do, it's done to weaken me and undermine me with the president and my teammates. But my teammates know me. My teammates know that I'm there to support them and help them, and all of us have got to ban together to support the president.


SCARAMUCCI: I speak with the right pronouns. It's we and our, it's never me or I, Chris. CUOMO: It's important. When you are in government you have to surrender --


CUOMO: You have to surrender the me to the we when you're in government, you're right.

SCARAMUCCI: He's our leader and he's one of the smartest people that I've ever met, if not the smartest. Just smart in a different way than maybe some of the people in the journalist community don't like.

But I'm super happy that he's our president and so will the American people. Whatever that approval rating is now, it's going up --

CUOMO: Look --

SCARAMUCCI: -- because we're going to execute the agenda, OK, and he's going to get reelected.

I told Tapper I'll send him a box of Kleenex.

CUOMO: Yes. I don't know why you said that, by the way.

SCARAMUCCI: I'll send him a box of Kleenex, and he will be elected in --

CUOMO: Jake Tapper is one of the most straight down the middle guys. It's insulting when you say that. It's insulting when you say that.

SCARAMUCCI: -- was removed. What's that?

CUOMO: It's insulting when you say something like that to Jake Tapper, by the way.

SCARAMUCCI: All right. I'm teasing him. You guys are unbelievable.

CUOMO: But that's not a nice thing to tease a journalist about.

SCARAMUCCI: You're allowed to hit me --

CUOMO: It's like teasing us about being Italian. It's not nice, it's offensive.


When you say to a journalist I'll bring you Kleenex because you'll be upset if the president gets reelected, you are suggesting that they're biased. It's not nice.

SCARAMUCCI: I'll tell you what. Send me toilet paper if he loses. How's that? I'll send you, Chris -- I'm being -- I'm making a joke.

I love it about you guys. You hit me three times hard, I say something teasing, and you guys get upset.

CUOMO: You think this is hard? I'm giving you pats on the head like you were a puppy. These are just regular questions.

SCARAMUCCI: And finally, we're having a real straight-up conversation. Just relax.

CUOMO: Let me ask you something straight up, all right?


CUOMO: One of the reasons that people from "Politico" wanted the disclosure form, and other journalists did, is that there's a question about what happens with your relationship with SkyBridge and whether or not you'll still benefit or profit from SkyBridge while working at the White House.

What is your response?

SCARAMUCCI: Oh, I'm not benefitting from SkyBridge. I don't understand how I could be benefitting from SkyBridge.

I'm entitled to some -- because of my ownership in SkyBridge I'm entitled -- I'm entitled to some residual profits. I'm happy to fully disclose that, you know.

Because they're releasing all this information -- trying to hit me and eject me. They tried to stop me from coming into the West Wing. Now that I'm there they're trying to figure out a way to eject me from the West Wing.

My official start date got moved up by friends of mine in the White House counsel's office because they know what's going on. I was supposed to start on August 15th --

CUOMO: Right.

SCARAMUCCI: -- and they got me effective yesterday to try to protect me. I appreciate those guys very much. People know what's going on.

So for now, they're going to say how is he making money? I sold SkyBridge. I don't work there anymore.

There's residual profits that once the sale occurs I'm going to receive. But I'm not on salary, I don't have a W-2 there. What do you want me to tell you?

CUOMO: Just the truth, and that's what the disclosure form --

SCARAMUCCI: That's wrong.

CUOMO: -- was false (ph).

SCARAMUCCI: That's what I'm telling you.

And by the way, you know, I went through that disclosure form with a fine-tooth comb. Guess what? There could be a typo or an error there. Someone will maybe find that.

I'm sure there's 400 journalists pouring over it. Why don't you guys --

CUOMO: As they should.

SCARAMUCCI: You have my cell phone. Give me a call if there's a mistake --

CUOMO: I always will.

SCARAMUCCI: -- and I'll -- and I'll resubmit it.

CUOMO: I always will.

SCARAMUCCI: I didn't make the mistake -- I didn't make the mistake out of dishonesty or fallaciousness. I'm a very transparent guy.

CUOMO: I understand. And look, it's unusual that, you know, we've been dealing with a lack of transparency when it comes to finances in the administration. It's good to get information on a disclosure form that we can discuss because we should know about the financial integrity of the people who are running --

SCARAMUCCI: Hey, hey, hey, hey, Chris. From the neighborhood I grew up in I'm never going to dishonor my parents by doing something wrong.

These guys have oppo'd me for six months. They're scratching their heads. They can't find anything, OK?

Twenty-nine years on Wall Street and an Italian last name, not one trading violation, not one U4 violation, not one ADB part one or part two violation.

They can't find anything because I would never dishonor my dad by hurting my last name by doing something stupid for money or for power. I'm not doing it. It's not my personality.

So, 29 years on Wall Street, you guys can't find anything. Keep looking. OK, go ahead.

CUOMO: Look, last question here.

[07:35:00] You suggested in the tweet that -- or it was suggested in the reporting by Ryan Lizza that you had gone to the FBI. If this is about dirty pool politics, should the FBI be involved in that?

SCARAMUCCI: I talked to Attorney General Sessions. He's on his way to El Salvador right now to talk about MS-13. It's a little early. I've got buddies of mine in the FBI that I'll be calling.

CUOMO: That's interesting timing that at the same time the president's beating up Sessions he's out of the country in El Salvador, huh?

SCARAMUCCI: He's out of the -- El Salvador. He's out of the country doing his job. He's doing his job. Let him do his job.

CUOMO: So, should the FBI or the DOJ be investigating who leaked your disclosure form?

SCARAMUCCI: I don't -- I don't -- I don't know. I don't know.

CUOMO: Well, you talked to them about it, right?

SCARAMUCCI: I want to just process -- I want to cut to the process and the illegality.

But, you know why I like bringing up the Department of Justice and the FBI, because people that have done things that are wrong, it makes them nervous, Chris. I haven't done anything wrong so I am not nervous at all. When people do things wrong and you mention the FBI and the Department of Justice, you watch.

I told the president this morning when the iceberg hits the boat, the rats are flying up from steerage, right, because the water comes in in steerage, OK? So when you mention the FBI and the Department of Justice you watch how the rats lift in the boat.

CUOMO: Yes, I understand. But you know what the problem is, is that you're putting -- the boat gets put into the iceberg. The iceberg does not hit the boat. And my point of the analogy correction is if you --

SCARAMUCCI: OK, that's really cute. You're doing a good job this morning. That's like a really cute way to -- that's a really cute way to --

CUOMO: If you bring in the FBI --

SCARAMUCCI: That's a really cute way -- that's a really cute way to spin my metaphor but you get the point that I'm making.

CUOMO: And I'm making it --

SCARAMUCCI: But go ahead. Keep going.

CUOMO: And I'm making a point as well, which is if you have the FBI chasing down stuff like dirty politics, is that the best use of their time?

SCARAMUCCI: No, no, no, no, no. That's what I just said. But remember what I said. I'm really trying to be careful this morning.

If there is illegality or impropriety --

CUOMO: OK, that's something different.

SCARAMUCCI: -- in the process --

CUOMO: That's something different.

SCARAMUCCI: -- then I'm not asking them to do dirty politics and all that nonsense. Here are the laws. Have any laws been broken? No laws have been broken, no FBI, no Department of Justice.

But I like mentioning them because I know knee knockers when I see them and their knees will start knocking.

OK, go ahead.

CUOMO: And you don't want to call people out but obviously Reince Priebus is out there and do you have concerns about him?

SCARAMUCCI: Say that again?

CUOMO: Reince Priebus' name is connected to this every time it comes out in the last 24 hours.

SCARAMUCCI:Reince Priebus --

CUOMO: Do you have concerns about him?

SCARAMUCCI: -- can speak to you about that and he can address that himself, OK?

CUOMO: All right. We will ask him.

SCARAMUCCI: Because people know my history between me and Reince, OK?


SCARAMUCCI: I can speak for my own actions. He's going to need to speak for his own actions.

But I think we're going on too long now so I'm going to take one last question and then I'm going to hang up.

CUOMO: That's it.

SCARAMUCCI: But I'm committed -- I'm committed, as is the president, to building as clean of a shop as possible. No more dirty pool. No more dishonesty. No more ha ha ha to your face and then stab you in the back.

OK, we're New Yorkers. I don't want to run the place like that. I want to run an honest and clean shop so that we can affect the president's agenda.

CUOMO: Good. When --

SCARAMUCCI: With that, I'll say -- with that, I'll say goodbye and I appreciate the opportunity of being on. And someday you will let Alisyn interview me, at least once.

CUOMO: Alisyn has interviewed you.

SCARAMUCCI: OK, and that's -- and that's -- that's actually a joke, Chris, just so you know.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I hope it's not a joke. I look forward to interviewing you, Anthony.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, all right. CUOMO: You know, she actually sits right here. I know you're on the


SCARAMUCCI: I'm just throwing that in there Alisyn because he dominates all these segments.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, Anthony. I appreciate that.

But I know that you guys had your own agreement and I honor that, that you guys had an agreement that you guys worked out. But I look forward to the next time you come on interviewing you.

SCARAMUCCI: OK, that's a deal.

CUOMO: Thank you for honoring it and if anybody can measure this conversation you did most of the talking, as you should because this is about you making your case.

And I'll tell you what. I respect the intentions that you state, Anthony, which is you're going to treat people with civility and decency. It would be a welcomed changed of the dynamic.

SCARAMUCCI: I think you can -- I can -- think you can ask your journalists there from your shop that's exactly what we're trying to do.

CUOMO: It will be a welcomed change.

SCARAMUCCI: I appreciate it, sir.

CUOMO: A welcomed change.

SCARAMUCCI: Have a good day.

CAMEROTA: You, too.

CUOMO: You, too

CAMEROTA: You, too, Anthony.

OK, fascinating stuff to dive into.

On the phone with us still is Ryan Lizza who, of course, was the reporter that we were talking to when we got the call from Anthony Scaramucci. And Ryan, he started talking to you directly first --


CAMEROTA: -- when we first went to him on the phone call and, I mean, I want your impression of that.

But my impression, he seemed to confirm that he spoke to you last night and that it was his impression that you somehow took something seriously that he meant in jest.

How did you interpret those first words that he was saying to you? RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORKER" (via telephone): Yes, that was a little surreal this morning. It's like that movie "ANNIE HALL" when they're talking about Marshall McLuhan and Woody Allen --

CAMEROTA: And there he is in line.

LIZZA: -- actually produces Marshall McLuhan.

I mean, a couple of things about the interview and then I'll answer that question.

You know, he's very -- he's very clearly trying to straddle this line between not publicly going after Reince but at the same time saying things like, quote, "You know, they weakened me and undermined me with the president. They tried to stop me and now they're trying to eject me, right? These guys have oppo'd me for six months."

[07:40:08] So, you know, he's clearly still at war with folks in the West Wing who have been trying to make sure that he didn't come into the West Wing originally and now, he believes, trying to get him out.

I want to be careful about what I say.

You're right. At the top of the interview he did -- he did say that we talked last night. I want to be careful about what I say about that but that is -- that is true. We did talk last night.

And what he was referring to, it's a little complicated but --

CAMEROTA: And, you know, Ryan, I appreciate what you're doing. I mean, you -- there are rules, obviously, that we follow in journalism --


CAMEROTA: -- and I appreciate that you are following those rules.

LIZZA: Yes. We should publicly confirm that we talked last night and I'll just speak specifically to what he said -- what he was referring to. Just the part of our conversation that he talked about on your air.

What happened was I -- as he mentioned, last night I reported that Anthony and Hannity -- Sean Hannity of Fox News and Bill Shine, a former Fox News executive were all having dinner with President Trump, right?


LIZZA: So, in Scaramucci's attempts to battle leaks he called me after the dinner when he realized I reported that and that was -- that's what he was referring to at the top of the show there. He was referring to the conversation we had when he called me when he was essentially trying to figure out how I knew that he and Hannity and Bill were all -- and Bill Shine were all having dinner. CAMEROTA: I see.

And, you know, he was very worked up and wanted to know who leaked that to me.

CUOMO: Right.

LIZZA: So the call was sort of in the context of his war against leaks. That's what he was referring to.

CUOMO: Look, we all get phone calls -- we get phone calls like that all the time. We're getting more of them these days because, Ryan, I'm sure it's true in your experience as well, we never had a White House leak as much as this one does and why they do it is worthy of discussion.

But, Ryan --


CUOMO: -- thank you for the reporting. Appreciate it this morning. Always good to have you on. Get back to the kids.

LIZZA: You've got it, guys.

CAMEROTA: All right. Also joining us now is our panel.

We have David Chalian, CNN political director; A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of "RealClearPolitics"; and Josh Green, senior national correspondent for "Bloomberg Businessweek." Josh is also the author of the new book, "Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency."

Great to have all of you. I know you've been listening along.

David Chalian, what jumps out at you?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, a few things jump out at me.

First, I just want to make clear for everyone this is sort of breaking the cardinal rule of what being the White House communications director is about, in many ways.

This was just a half hour about Anthony Scaramucci, about -- I know he couched it all in protecting the president and the presidency from these leaks -- but about him and a battle he's having internally in the West Wing for a half an hour.

Not really about the president's agenda at all, which is usually what a White House communications director comes on television to talk about. So we should just take note of how different that is.

CAMEROTA: Well, certainly, except that, I mean, he would say that one of the president's top agendas is stopping the leaks. I mean, he seemed very fixated on that and that that's what the president wants him to talk about and wants him to do. So that is their agenda that they're telling us right now.

CHALIAN: But he also -- but he also categorized some of those leaks, especially the ones we're talking about from last night that Ryan was just talking about, as small potatoes. So the idea that they get so worked up over what they themselves characterize as small potatoes is worth noting as well.

The other thing that I thought was very interesting. While he refused to name names and didn't want to name names -- and we -- as he said, we all know the history of the relationship between him and Reince -- he did go on to say that if Reince wants to come on and say he's not the leaker, he should do that.

Well, that -- I don't know. I know he deleted the tweet. I know he said it was a reference to that they were all working together.

But it seems to me if you say -- that's a challenge. If Reince wants to come on and say he's not the leaker, he can do that. It seemed to me he's throwing down a challenge to Reince Priebus --

CUOMO: Yes, of course, he is.

CHALIAN: And not one that's like working together, which is the excuse he gave both this morning and last night.

CUOMO: Of course, he is. Look, there's so many different layers to this, A.B. Stoddard.

And look, we thank Anthony Scaramucci for coming on. Access is critical to covering the White House and it's one of the things that gives the show an advantage.

And what do we learn there? There is stuff learned about transparency of finances. That's why it's good to have brother Joshua here this morning to talk about how Scaramucci's putting stuff out on his disclosure form that we're still waiting to get from the president, in some respects.

This is the -- this is a tale of two cities that's going on here. You have palace intrigue, and that's what it is. When Reince Priebus is jealous, slash, doesn't like, slash, doesn't want Anthony Scaramucci in the shop, that's palace intrigue.

You then have something else that was what I was trying to get to with Anthony, which is do you want the FBI and the DOJ chasing after bad political behavior? Do you want leaks -- the source of information to dominate the discussion of the substance of that information with the Russia probe?

[07:45:07] And let's be honest, A.B., that's where this started for President Trump, was to use the leaks as a distraction from the substance of what was coming out about the Russian contacts.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: I think that this whole discussion about the leaks and having Scaramucci come on for half an hour talking about it is a way to distract away from the disarray that was caused yesterday by the president's tweet about the transgender ban in the middle of a firestorm over his abuse of his attorney general, which brought out a huge cavalry of Republican senators rushing to the television cameras, some of whom have not been on in years, to actually say not only was the recusal the right thing to do but that Sessions should stay in the job and should be left alone by the president and you should stop insulting him.

And so, sometime during the day, in order to sort of quell this conservative revolt -- something you were referring to earlier, Chris -- he decided to sort of please the people that were angry about Sessions by announcing what people -- what went beyond what people were expecting in the military, which was let's stop paying for these transgender treatments, and medications, and surgeries, but let them serve.

And so he -- you know, he went further. He shocked everybody and now he wants Anthony to come on and do a Scaramucci show for half an hour, which is a direct attack at Reince Priebus. He admitted he wants to intimidate him by raising the specter of an FBI investigation even thoughthis is purportedly a public document.

And it was all about Anthony Scaramucci, which is interesting because normally the president does not want -- I mean, it was part Trump infomercial as well and how great the president is and how much support he has, especially from Anthony.

But normally, aides get in trouble when they make -- when they come under the spotlight and make it about them. And so far, in the last few days, we've heard a lot about how Anthony Scaramucci's going to run this, what he's mad about, what's raised his peak. He doesn't like to have a private dinner leaked out to the public with the president.

But it's not about the president's agenda. It's a total distraction designed, I think, to get us to stop talking about the disarray and disruption of that transgender ban and what he's doing to Sessions and the fact that several cabinet secretaries are really, you know, tempted to leave this administration.

CAMEROTA: Josh, you've been taking notes along with us.

JOSHUA GREEN, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK," AUTHOR, "DEVIL'S BARGAIN: STEVE BANNON, DONALD TRUMP, AND THE STORMING OF THE PRESIDENCY": I have been taking notes and doing reporting and it's been -- it's been very interesting to have a front row seat to that episode.

I think it's important to step back and let viewers know how bizarre and unusual what just transpired is. The White House communications director live on CNN, revealing conversations with reporters, calling reporters unpatriotic.

CUOMO: And which he said was a joke.

GREEN: OK. Well, even as a joke, it's weird. The whole jocular, towel-snapping live on-air thing, I think it shows Scaramucci's inexperience in politics, but I think it also does a couple of other things.

I was texting and e-mailing with White House officials during this interview to say what does it look like on the inside? I had one adviser message back to me. He said this is a car crash. So the idea that stunts like this are going to lock down the leaks, shut them off, I think is probably wrong.

Now --

CAMEROTA: As evidenced by the communication you had during this.

GREEN: As of two and a half seconds. But during the interview --


GREEN: -- and I think we're going to see a lot more of that from White House --

CUOMO: But why is this White House leaking more than others? And again, I challenge -- any journalist can come out and say oh, no, no, this one's not bad -- the Obama one was. I'm saying I've been around several of them and I've never seen anything like that.

And it seems to me, Josh, that the reason they're doing it is they are insecure about the leadership from the top. That's what's going on. That they either don't like the tone, they're worried that they're being embarrassed, or they're worried that what matters is being lost.

GREEN: There are a number of reasons.

One, this is unprecedented. This president, the behavior, the kind of chaos in the White House, so some are leaking out of frustration. Some are leaking to take out a rival, which seemed to be the point of Scaramucci's tweet last night, although he tells us on the air live that it wasn't.

Other --

CAMEROTA: It's Cain and Abel.

GREEN: Right, Cain and Abel.

CAMEROTA: Not all in the family.

GREEN: One of them getting -- yes, wound up getting murdered.

Another reason is they're trying to affect policy.

Another reason is that it becomes a cable news story and they know that the president watches cables news. And there are some advisers -- this is true during the campaign, it's true now -- who believe that the best way to get their message in front of Trump is to go through cable news. CAMEROTA: Well, that certainly seemed to be, David, what Scaramucci was doing for part of that interview. I mean, he was, you know, praising the president, saying that he's not sick of fans (ph). That he, himself, is not sick of fans (ph), he just feels this strongly about this man and his style.

I mean, he does seem to be telegraphing directly into the Oval Office, his loyalty.

CHALIAN: Well, yes. He also indicated -- again, in a bit of a role reversal -- that it seemed that President Trump was his briefer in advance of this interview. That President Trump was prepping him for this interview. He said he had a 15-minute conversation with him before he got on here.

[07:50:08] So not only is he talking directly to him and allowing President Trump to watch on cable news the adulation coming his way from his staffer, but it's what they cooked up just before he got on. So --

CUOMO: So, look -- yes. David, you're 100 percent right.

So let's bounce it to A.B. on this. I don't know that that's a problem. I don't know -- you know, that the president is involved in the messaging and Anthony Scaramucci is very deferential to him and personally has a strong affinity and affection.

You know, I grew up in a political shop and those are things that people want. They like to have people around them who love them and are dedicated. That's fine. The question is, is how does it reflect the work?

And, A.B., the one thing that I wanted to come back to you on is I would be surprised if this were clever enough to be a distraction from the LGBTQ and what happened with Sessions. I would be surprised if that's the process.

I think they care about this leak dynamic and how it's perceived and they wanted to jump on top of this because Anthony Scaramucci does not want to be seen as the bad guy when he is -- he believes, and maybe objectively, the victim of what's going on inside that house.

And I don't think it gets the president around from that LGBTQ. We were hammering it this morning because it is way out of step with what he said and almost indefensible from a fact perspective.

STODDARD: I just think if you look at the conflict he's created on Capitol Hill with Senate Republicans and House Republicans over the transgender --

CUOMO: Right.

STODDARD: -- and the military issue combined with his abuse and his bullying --

CUOMO: Yes. STODDARD: -- of Sen. Sessions --

CUOMO: The timing is curious. I think you're dead on.

STODDARD: -- it's really coming to blows.

But I also think that that's even a sadder statement if he wants Anthony Scaramucci to talk about himself on T.V. for half an hour.

And directly, you know, pretending he's not attacking Reince Priebus is laughable. I mean, it was a direct attack at Reince Priebus. He's saying you can ask Reince to say he's not the leaker.

CUOMO: Anthony would say it's a counter attack.

STODDARD: You know what? They don't even need to worry -- they don't need to worry about leaks or palace intrigue if they don't have palace intrigue.

CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead.

GREEN: Can I just say --

STODDARD: So what you do is you get rid of the people who are fighting with each other. But that's not what happens. He keeps people fighting with each other.

CUOMO: That's right.

GREEN: Can I just say the fixation on leaks is a real fixation of the president. I hear that from advisers again and again. I was asking about Sessions, why he was getting hazed, what he could do to get back in Trump's good graces. The answer was go after leakers.

So I think that Scaramucci's being entirely earnest in coming on the air and stomping all over White House leakers.

The problem is his performance is creating more leaks live in real time. My phone is blowing up. I have a Trump adviser saying dude, how bad was that? How is this thing playing live on the air? Call me when you get off the air.

I mean, this is amplifying precisely the problem that Scaramucci is trying to shut down. I don't think this is going to be very effective.

CAMEROTA: Let's call that person right now, live on the air.

GREEN: No, let's not. Unlike the White House comms director, I don't like to reveal who I'm talking to.

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you all very much for all of your perspectives on this highly unusual morning.

And we have a new one to bring in right now. Joining us now is Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware. Senator, I know you also were listening along with that Anthony

Scaramucci interview. What do you hear from the director of White House communications?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE), MEMBER, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, MEMBER, APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: I thought that was a striking exchange and I almost don't know what to say in response. I mean, embedded in that very long exchange with Chris Cuomo were a couple of pretty striking suggestions.

To me, the one that jumped out was that President Trump might veto a very strong bipartisan Russia sanctions bill. It came out of the Senate 98 to two and that -- if that's not a veto-proof majority I don't know what is.

It came out of the House with an even greater margin and it would impose new sanctions on Russia, on Iran, and on North Korea. I think there's no doubt that all three of those countries are adversaries of the United States and pose a threat to the United States, and the idea that the president wouldn't embrace that leadership from the Congress is pretty striking.


COONS: Of all the things that Anthony Scaramucci had to say, that one sort of jumped off the page at me.

CAMEROTA: OK, so there's the sanctions bill.

There's also what the president is going to do about his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions --


CAMEROTA: -- whom he has publicly dressed down for three days in a row.

If he -- I mean, look, it is been speculated that what he may be angling for is a recess appointment. That he would fire the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and then while you all are off on recess he would make a recess appointment to avoid what would be predicted to be a very tough confirmation process.

If that happens what do you, in Congress, do?

COONS: Well first, I think before we go out on recess we're going to take steps to make sure that the president doesn't have the ability to make a recess appointment.

[07:55:07] This was an issue that was litigated when President Obama was in office. The Supreme Court's made it clear that only if we recess for 10 days or more does the president have the ability to make a recess appointment. And one of the few powers the minority has is to set the terms of adjournment in negotiation with the majority.

I think there were very strong statements by conservative Republican senators that they would be upset by the abrupt firing of the attorney general.

The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said that we're not likely to be taking up a new attorney general confirmation.

So I think there's been some strong pushback both in defense of Attorney General Sessions by his friends and former colleagues here, and I think you will see some tough work by Democrats to make sure that the president doesn't have a window to make a recess appointment.

And I think that's a good thing that we're working in a bipartisan way to make sure that we're following the regular order and that the Senate isn't cut out of its constitutional role of advice and consent.

CAMEROTA: Look, meanwhile, you have your own issues with Attorney General --


CAMEROTA: -- Jeff Sessions. And, in fact, I believe you have drafted a letter to the Department of Justice because you believe that Attorney General Sessions has somehow violated his recusal by being involved in the firing and giving advice about the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Here is what your letter -- a piece of it says -- that we've gotten.

"I am concerned that Attorney General Sessions has not honored the scope of these recusals. His involvement in the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey is especially troubling."

What do you want out of the DOJ?

COONS: Well, what I'd like the attorney general to do is to honor his recusal. He did the right thing in his confirmation hearing and in the days afterwards in saying that he would step back from any ongoing investigation involving the presidential campaign.

He was one of President Trump's earliest supporters and advisers -- strongest advisers. He campaigned with him across the country.

And when some concerns were raised in his confirmation hearing about how independent he might be if there were an investigation ongoing into either the Trump campaign and potential collusion with Russia or a revisiting of the Hillary Clinton e-mail issue, he voluntarily recused himself, which is the right thing to do in terms of DOJ policy. I want him to respect that.

If he has stepped back from matters involved in the presidential campaign, then why was he directly involved in firing FBI Director Jim Comey, where the publicly-given reasons for why he was fired were either because of his handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation -- that's what Rod Rosenstein said -- or because of the Russia investigation and trying to get it, quote-unquote, "off my back," which is what I believe President Trump said. So I just want to make sure that he's doing his job. He's doing his job in compliance with his recusal and he's continuing to direct the Department of Justice in a way that keeps faith with the commitments he made to those of us in the Senate who had some real concerns about his unreported meetings with the Russian ambassador.

CAMEROTA: OK, Senator.

Next big topic. I mean, there is so much news coming out --

COONS: It's a lot going on, yes.

CAMEROTA: -- of Capitol Hill and the White House.

Health care -- what is the plan today for the Senate with health care?

COONS: Well, the first big question, Alisyn, is what's the bill? Remember, 50 Republican senators voted to go into debate on a bill without having a bill.

So, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, last night, said we're going to stop moving forward on Democratic amendments until we see the actual bill.

They are calling it a 'Skinny Repeal.' What we think the Republicans are ultimately going to go toa so-called 'Skinny Repeal' but from what we understand about it, it will be a big fat problem for about 16 million Americans who will get thrown off of health care.

If they repeal the individual mandate, the employer mandate, the medical device tax and the Public Health Improvement Fund of the ACA, which is what we are guessing will be in the final sort of thinned down repeal approach, it will actually have a huge and negative impact on millions of Americans.

To do this with no substantive hearings on this bill -- with no bill, right now -- and with no opportunity for the folks who care for us -- for nurses, and doctors, health care providers, hospital leaders --


COONS: -- to testify about it is just malpractice in public health.

CAMEROTA: Senator Chris Coons, thank you. You have a very busy day ahead.

COONS: I do.

CAMEROTA: Obviously, we will be watching on all of these fronts. Thanks so much for taking time with us.

COONS: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right. We're following a lot of news, as we've said. Let's get right to it.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. It is Thursday, July 27th, 8:00 here in the East.

And we do begin with breaking news.

A growing rift inside the White House over leaks exposed in a series of late-night tweets and a delete.

Moments ago, we spoke with the White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci to explain his tweets. It seemed to implicate White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus as a leaker.