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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Reince Priebus Out, Gen. John Kelly In As WH Chief Of Staff; Sources: Trump Considered Getting Rid Of Bannon But Conservatives Convinced Him It Would Hurt Him With His Base; White House Says Trump Will Sign Russia Sanctions Bill; Senate GOP Obamacare Repeal Fails: What's Next?; Encouraging Excessive Force During Arrests. Aired 9-10p ET.
Aired July 28, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:03] PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Number two, you got to get off Twitter, period. You're done. Your twittering days are done. Twitter goes through me or through staff.
And number three, you got to stop attacking a decorated combat marine named Robert Mueller. I cannot believe -- I don't believe for a minute, that a man like John Kelly who has give his life, who lost his son in the marine corps, who's life has been the marine crop, he's going to -- these kind of attacks on a decorated combat marine like Robert Mueller.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Shortly after the word came in that Priebus is out, he spoke with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, in his first interview. Take a look at some of what he said.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Why did you resign? I'm still trying to understand that you told the president you wanted to resign. He accepted your resignation yesterday. But why, were there a series of issues or is there one thing that came up --
REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No, I don't. listen --
BLITZER: -- and you decided, you know what, I no longer can do this?
PRIEBUS: No. Look, I think the president wanted to go a different direction. I support him in that. And like I said a couple weeks ago, I said the president has a right to change directions. The president has a right to hit a reset button. I think it's a good time to hit the reset button. I think he was right to hit the reset button, and I think that it was something that I think the White House needs. I think it's healthy. And I support him in it.
BLITZER: Was he not happy with the direction you were setting?
PRIEBUS: No, but look, I mean, I think bringing fresh face, I think, brining fresh people is a good thing. So, look, he has the best political instincts. He's -- hang on a second. He knows, I think, intuitively when things need to change. I've seen it now for a year and half on this wild ride with the president that I loved being a part of, but he intuitively determined that it was time to do something differently. And I think he's right.
BLITZER: But it's only been six months, not very long when you say he wanted to do things differently, tell us precisely what he said to you, why he wants to do things differently and why you concluded that didn't include you.
PRIEBUS: No, look, I'm not going to get into that personal stuff. The president is a professional, and I'm a professional, and professional people don't discuss private conversations in public.
BLITZER: When was the first inkling that you had -- that your time as the White House Chief of Staff was over?
PRIEBUS: I'm not going to get into that, Wolf. Look, I have a very close relationship with the president. I'm going to continue to have a close relationship with the president, and out of respect for him, you know, I'm not going to get into our own private conversations. Well, I'll just put it at this. I think change is good. He wanted to go a different direction. I support him in that. And I look forward to working with General Kelly over the next couple of weeks.
BLITZER: What was the impact of the new White House Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci. You know, you saw the interview he (INAUDIBLE) Ryan Lizza in the "New Yorker" magazine. He called you some awful things including a paranoid, schizophrenic. He said your days were numbered. He said you were about to leave. At one point he said Priebus -- Reince Priebus would resign soon, and that he expected Priebus to launch a campaign against him. What was your reaction when you saw that interview?
PRIEBUS: No reaction, because -- I'm not going to respond to it. I'm not going to get into the mud on those sorts of things.
Look, the president and I had an understanding. We've talked about this many times. And we ultimately decided that yesterday was a good day and that we would work together. And I think that General Kelly is a great pick. So, I'm not going to get into the weeds on that. I support what the president did, and obviously, I think it's a good thing for the White House.
BLITZER: Can you just clear up the other charge? It was a very bitter charge that Scaramucci leveled against you, that you're a leaker, and that you're really not that loyal to the president. You've got your own agenda. He makes a bitter accusation against you, specifically the leaking. Are you the leaker in the White House?
PRIEBUS: That's ridiculous, Wolf. Come on. Give me a break. I'm not going to get into his --
BLITZER: Why not respond to him this. PRIEBUS: Because I'm not going to, because it doesn't honor the
president. I'm going to honor the president every day. I'm going to honor his agenda and honor our country. And I'm not going to get into all of this personal stuff. So --
BLITZER: Is there a leaking problem in the White House based on what you've seen?
PRIEBUS: Yes, I think that General Kelly should see if he can get to the bottom of it and figure it out. But obviously unnamed sources are something that's been problematic, and I wish him well, and I'm going to try to help him. But, obviously that's going to be on his plate. And I hope he can get to the bottom of it.
BLITZER: Because Scaramucci is suggesting the FBI should get involved in that investigation. You agree with him on that?
PRIEBUS: I'm not going to respond to that. Look, this is about the president, Wolf. I've answered your questions. I support his decision to hire John Kelly, and I'm looking forward to the future.
[21:05:02] COOPER: Zeleny and Sara Murray at the White House reporting for us tonight. Let's start with Jeff.
So, Priebus clearly has his version of events saying the president wants to go in a different direction. How much of that is in sync with what you're hearing from your sources and others?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the broad outlines are largely the same, at least to the point where Reince Priebus said that he, you know, gave his resignation, the president accepted it. But, this was not Reince Priebus' first choice. He wanted to stay in this job for a year. And he wanted to try and get, you know, things back on track. The agenda back on track to try to unite the Republican Party. He had a goal and a vision of trying to do that under this president, but the reality here is that the president over the last week, perhaps longer, sent signals that he did not want Reince Priebus around.
So for the chief of staff, Reince Priebus to say that, you know, there was -- he submitted his resignation privately last evening and it was accepted. That's not exactly how a lot of other White House officials are describing it. They' are saying that, look, Reince started this morning out thinking he could hold on, so he think he could weather the storm here, and thinking that Anthony Scaramucci's, you know, vulgar language would actually do him in and he could outlast this. That didn't happen, obviously.
So, look, at the end of the day, I think Reince Priebus knew he would not be a chief of staff, you know, for the, obviously, the whole four years of this presidency. The first term, but he hoped he would be it for a little bit longer.
But, Anderson, right before that interview we're told he had another meeting with the president inside the Oval Office, so one on one meeting. So it looks like they still had some discussing to do. So for someone who said he resigned last night, it still seemed to be pretty fresh and raw and surprising to many people here at the White House.
COOPER: The people you spoke to at the White House, what do they say about why Reince Priebus didn't succeed?
ZELENY: Anderson, I think first and foremost is that the president lost confidence in him and saw him as weak. He did not see him as a strong leader. He did not see him as someone who was in his mold, if you will, and I think that, you know, if you talk to people on the Priebus side and other White House chiefs of staff who he has talked to and they offered advice, this is a difficult president to be the chief of staff to. He talks to so many people late at night. He's up at all hours, he's watching television, he's tweeting. That's not a normal thing for a president.
So I think at the end of the day, one of the reasons he didn't succeed is because Reince Priebus was more of a traditional model. He was more of a, you know, a mainstream establishment model, if you will. And he didn't end up gelling with the president, and at, you know, for the last several weeks, maybe even months, the president viewed him as staff, not chief at all, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thanks. Let's get more from Sara Murray. Sara, you know, Priebus is saying he resigned yesterday. He also made a public appearance with the president today. Was that always the plan?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that was one of the bizarre things about this story, if you resigned as chief of staff yesterday, why would you then get on Air Force One, why would you then accompany the president be photographed getting on Air Force One and joining him, and we actually were told that originally Reince Priebus was not planning on going on this trip today.
And then as there were questions brewing about what his future would be as chief of staff, whether he was on the way out the door, his allies jumped to his defense and said look, of course Reince Priebus isn't going anywhere. In fact, he's even going to be accompanying the president on his trip to New York. That's an indication they're still doing work that Priebus is still safe in his job. Obviously, that was not the case. The first indication from the president we got that Priebus was officially out was when he was headed back to Washington D.C. The president sent a number of tweets. He landed at Joint Base Andrews. And then eventually he and reince Priebus got in separate cars and Priebus slipped off from the motorcade. Ultimately they ended both at here at the White Hour, or yet another meeting behind closed door.
COOPER: Sara, the very fact that Reince Priebus traveled with the president so much is sort of unusual. My understanding is usually often chiefs of staff if the president is going overseas, he would often stay at home to continue try and to move forward the president's agenda. But clearly for Priebus, he felt it was important to try to be in the room as much as possible with the president.
MURRAY: It is unusual for a chief of staff to travel that often, but it was not unusual for this president's inner circle. And one of the things that Jeff just mentioned is this is a president who talks to a lot of people. He gets a lot of opinions. And when we say that, we don't just mean he gets a lot of opinions from his staffers and friends, but he gets a lot of opinions from the bus boys at the restaurants he's dinning at, from the waiters. He will ask anyone their opinion about anything on any given time. And in many cases that will actually shapes his decision making process of major, major decisions he's about to make. And that's part of the reason that so many staffers stuck so close to this president. They wanted to know who he was talking to. They wanted to know who is shaping his world view, and frankly, as we've seen for a White House where there is so much back stabbing so much back fighting. They wanted to make sure that they were protecting their own identities, their own turf within this White House.
[21:10:15] But guess, in speaking to previous chiefs of staff and speaking to people who studied the way, you know, a White House would normally work, they have said from the outside it was very bizarre to see the of chief along side the president as many times for long stretches when he may be could have been more effective or more productive back here in the West Wing.
COOPER: Yes. Sara Murray, appreciate the update. With me now, Philip Bump, Margaret Hoover, Scott Jennings, Tara Setmayer, and Maria Cardona.
Phillip, what do you make of -- I mean, not just this week, but just the last couple of hours?
PHILIP BUMP, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, you know, that's always there the time (INAUDIBLE) people by now. I mean, I think it's fascinating to watch the fact that the Senate failed to pass a critical measure, something that Donald Trump expressed repeatedly that he wanted to see passed, twisted arms, you know. Apparently had his secretary of the interior call the senator from Alaska and trying, you know, potentially threaten her. He did that work -- that bill failed, and then we see the next day that one of the last links to the Republican establishment that was left in the White House is on his way out. I mean, we had the vice president on the floor last night. It sort of -- it's going to be fascinating to watch how a guy who sort of took over the Republican party, got the nomination, ended up in the White House, and now is pushing the Republican Party away, thinks he's going to be successful working with Congress despite having basically no ties to anyone there and no experience in doing it.
COOPER: Scott, does that concern you?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think, ultimately, the president has to feel comfortable with the staff that's around him. And he had gotten to a point where he didn't feel comfortable with the chief of staff, he obviously didn't feel comfortable with the communications apparatus either. He's moved on it. And so, what you hope is once you get comfortable with the people that are around you, you start to refocus on the things that matter. Something no one really is talking about today, the quarter two economic growth numbers came out today, 2.6 percent economic growth in quarter two. So we've spend all week talking about a fialed health care bill and staff and fighting. Next week, I want to see these new people show up on work and say, what are we going to do to talk about the things that would help improve this presidency such as something that came up today like the economic growth. So that's where I want to see them go. And being comfortable with your staff is a way to hopefully get there.
TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITCAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the reason why they're not talking about that today, because the White House communications director whose job it is to come up with the communications strategy, to make sure that information gets out there is too busy going off on his busy feet rants, ranting about Reince Priebus and leaks, and all this palace entry going on. This has got to stop.
You know, I understand that for Trump supporters and a lot of us, we want to see the country do well. We want to see the agenda as a Republican, things that we stand for being moved forward in Congress, but you can't do it when you have captain chaos in the White House sitting back, watching things go on with his chief of staff that would be the President Trump, like it's the hunger games.
Hopefully now that he's brought in a general, a marine general where discipline and honor and integrity are tenets of how marines conduct themselves, that he will be allowed to actually perform his duties as the chief of staff and reign this in. It's not good for the country, it's not food for the White House, and this level of dysfunction is no one's fault but the president.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But that's exactly the problem. Look, clearly a lot of us understand General Kelly is extremely well respected, and he's got a lot of fans everywhere on both sides of the aisle. He's not a miracle worker. And in order for the White House to become a well-oiled streamlined machine that focuses on the messages that you would like to see focused on, Scott, and other Republicans as well, you would have to change Trump at his core. You would have to make sure that he doesn't tweet. So is General Kelly going to wrap up his fingers, bandage up his hand so he can't tweet? No, that's not going to happen. If that doesn't change, none of this will.
MARGARET HOOVER, REPUBLICAN COLUMNIST: Yes. I don't disagree with that. There's another ting about General Kelly. He's a general, right? And if you're a general, four-star general, nobody is higher than you than the president of the United States of America. You' are used to giving orders in a very rigid structured environment and you're also used to taking orders, OK? He got his way up through the chain of command by listening to his commanders do when they told them. And this is one of the things that has been very -- reviewed positively about his behavior in the Department of Homeland Security. And he's been very stoic about implementing Trump's immigration procedures, OK? So I don't know -- COOPER: And to point out, the, you know, numbers of people crossing
over has dropped dramatically since Trump took office.
HOOVER: Si, he's been effective in his post. He respects the commander in chief. And he doesn't come from an environment that is used to bucking the boss or challenging the boss in any way, which by the way will suit Trump just well, but isn't the same set of skill sets, political skill sets that has been honed over a lifetime that may be necessary for the West Wing.
And the other point is, you know, I think he probably comes into this assuming a set of -- a chain of command, and what he's going to have to figure out really quickly is that there are no chains of command. He's going to have to figure out how Ivanka and Jared don't just go around him and do their own thing. There are different -- there are no processes that he is used. He's going to have to set them up. And the president doesn't like them.
[21:15:26] BUMP: And there's no loyalty. He's used to being in the military where you give an order and it's carried out. That's not the way that works.
SETMAYER: But that was also part of what dooms Reince Priebus from the beginning. There was no chain of command. The chief of staff position was basically ceremonial for Reince, I mean, he was e masklated from the beginning because of Ivanka, because of Jared Kushner, because of Kellyanne Conway, because of Steve Bannon. It was like chief of staff by committee. You can't run a White House like that.
CARDONA: And don't you actually need somebody, though, Margaret, that does have the ability to buck the boss, as you say? I mean, here is somebody who is the chief of staff of a president of the United States who has zero discipline. And so, if you have a chief of staff who's going to in there and it's going to be afraid to sit down with him and say Mr. President, you cannot do this, this is bad for you, this is bad for the country, then, again, none of this is going to change.
COOPER: Scott, is that one of the jobs of the chief of staff?
JENNINGS: The job of the chief of staff is to run the White House in a way that most efficiently implements the president's agenda. Look, here's what I know about marines. In addition to kicking the, you know of what our enemies, they find ways to solve problems. The problem right now is, the president does have an agenda that's off track. We saw that with the health care bill this week, but he also has a set of things that are going correctly, the Wisconsin jobs issue, the economic growth from Q2, the border crossings we just brought up, there are things going right.
CARDONA: But nobody is talking about it?
JENNINGS: Here's the thing. The problem to be solved is how do we get the White House rowing in the same direction so that people know about that and we grow what's in that canoe? That's what a marine is going to do. I have confidence in Kelly. He has credibility --
BUMP: -- Donald Trump he's on Twitter all the time. That's the problem.
COOPER: But, yet, I mean, Scott, don't you believe that it's really the president who often steps on his own message? I mean, you know, we're starting out a week as --
SETMAYER: American hero week.
CARDONA: American hero.
SETMAYER: -- he got a general as a chief of staff. That was it.
JENNINGS: Yes. Look, we all understand the president sometimes tweets things that aren't on the message of the day. I get it. But that doesn't change the fact that the White House and the entirety of the federal government apparatus is enormously powerful. If you can harness it, you can communicate, and you can tell people, here are the good things that are happening and here's how we're achieving the things that we said we would do. Look at what they did this week, jobs, going after gangs. I mean, these are core things Trump ran on.
JENNINGS: So they can harness that --
CARDONA: -- nobody is talking about it.
SETMAYER: -- right, because the other things that went on this week, Jared Kushner testified in front of --
JENNINGS: And did fine. And did fine.
SETMAYER: Yes because of Russia. And then you had Scaramucci and his antics.
CARDONA: The transgender ban.
SETMAYER: The transgender ban that came out of nowhere.
CARDONA: He did on his own on Twitter.
SETMAYER: Right. This is all Trump take that's going on and doing things --
JENNINGS: How's the transgender -- SETMAYER: Maybe they need to hire you to be communications director.
You know what you're doing, and you're doing a better job than Scaramucci is.
JENNINGS: Listen, I think ultimately a president of the United States who feels uncomfortable with the apparatus around him is prone to lashing out about it. If they're more comfortable, then we may see a more discipline and more strategy.
HOOVER: And that is the point, is that, the president of the United States has to have confidence in his right hand --
HOOVER: -- or the people who are around him. And this is where General Kelly comes in with the possibility of having more influence, because he is respected by the president.
COOPER: We got to take a quick. We're going to continue the conversation next. Also hear from the former Clinton chief of staff, Leon Panetta. Also still to come, less than 24 hours ago, in the dead of night, the Senate voted down the bill to repeal parts of Obamacare, a victory for Democrats a failure for the president. But more importantly, what happens next and with health care in the balance, where does the debate now stand?
[21:22:36] COOPER: Well, Reince Priebus is out. General John Kelly is in. The president announced on Twitter that John Kelly is the new White House chief of staff replacing Priebus, who says he resigned yesterday. Joining me on the phone is former White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, Leon Panetta. I spoke to him early.
COOPER: So Leon Panetta, you know Secretary Kelly well. He served as one of your senior military advisers while you were defense secretary. What do you make of this news?
LEON PANETTA, FORMER WHTIE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, you know, if John Kelly who is a tough marine and somebody who, like a tough marine, strongly believes in discipline and a strong chain of command and has little tolerance for chaos, if they're willing to allow John Kelly to establish a greater discipline, and greater order in the way this White House operates, then I think it could be a good thing not only for the White House but for the country.
COOPER: Given, though, that some many people -- I mean, the president's family, apparently Anthony Scaramucci, report directly to the president can go into the Oval Office and have the president's ear in pretty unique ways, I imagine establishing at least a traditional kind of chief of staff position and organization is difficult even for somebody like General Kelly.
PANETTA: Well, you know, obviously, that's going to be a first challenge that faces General Kelly going into the White House is whether he is going to be the chief of staff, or whether he's going to be one of several power centers within the White House, so which I think is a prescription for the kind of chaos that we've seen over these last six months.
So I'm a believer that if you're going to be a chief of staff, you have to be a strong chief of staff. There can only be one chief of staff, and other people on the staff, frankly, have to report through you as chief of staff. You know, I hope that if John Kelly is going to be successful in the White House, the only way he can be successful is by establishing that kind of chain of command.
COOPER: David Gergen just a little bit ago tweeted the best chiefs of staff and you named you and Jim Baker, were not only good organizers but masters in politics. Do you need to be in his words a master at politics to be effective as a chief of staff? But it goes beyond organization.
[21:24:57] PANETTA: Well, obviously, having a good sense of politics in dealing particularly with Capitol Hill because as chief of staff in many ways, you have to speak on behalf of the president. People will call you to ask you on issues and taking steps on behalf of the president. So you do have to have that side of you.
John Kelly, you know, did work with the Congress, you know, when he was my military aide. He's familiar with the Congress. I think that kind of political experience is something that John is going to have to develop as part of his role as chiefs of staff.
COOPER: Back in 2016, as a candidate Donald Trump told Maggie Haberman from "The Times" about Priebus that he quote, "Knows better than to lecture me," adding, "We're not dealing with a five star army general." Does a chief of staff have to be able to not lecture the president but at least be able to very least steer him? I mean, does the president, clearly, this president, you know, is kind of running his own -- I don't know what you call, I mean, he's steering the ship rightly or wrongly. Does the chief of staff have to be able to say to the president, what you're going is not right?
PANETTA: I think it is very important in any White House to be able to have someone like a chief of staff be able to look the president in the eye and tell him when he's wrong, and tell him when he's going to make a mistake. If you don't have that kind of trusting relationship where you can speak honestly to the president, then, frankly, the president is not going to have the benefit of the kind of support system that he needs in order to be able to have a strong White House. So that's going to be one of the first challenges, I think, facing John Kelly, who, you know, I know will not hesitate to tell people the truth. The real test is going to be whether he can develop that kind of relationship with Donald Trump.
COOPER: Secretary Panetta, I appreciate your time. Thanks.
PANETTA: You bet.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Back now with the panel. You know, Phillip, what's so fascinating, I mean, it's going to be fascinating to watch what happens, doesn't mean you cannot have more different people than General John Kelly, President Trump, and a lot of the folks on his, you know, on the inner staff of the White House, and to see how these two worlds sort of collide is going to be fascinating.
BUMP: It is. Yes. I mean, the real question is going to be can General Kelly get the staff to be like the sorts of people he's used to working with, or are they so spoiled by six months of Trumpiness that he's not going to be able to (INAUDIBLE) and get them to be disciplined and get them to stay on the same page. I think that it's true that what has been said here that Trump will be responsive to him. We've seen several times over the course of the campaign, someone who comes he's responsive to them. It doesn't stick. We'll see if it sticks here. But I think the real question is can Kelly actually get the troops in line to use a very apt metaphor here, and I don't know that it's going to --
COOPER: You know, earlier, General Hurtling who knows General Kelly very well, obviously, said that he'll, "Melt Anthony Scaramucci with his eyes in meetings." I mean, just seeing that combination will be interesting.
CARDONA: And, in fact, I had a conversation with another general friend of mine who is very well respected that knows Kelly. And he said that if Scaramucci tried that crap on him, he would punch him in the mouth.
So I think that the glimmer of hope here is we know how Trump loves his generals. We know how Trump loves strong men. And I don't think that Priebus ever fit that mold. I don't think he ever really respected Priebus. I think that during the campaign when he tried to get him to drop out aft access Hollywood tape, that stuck in Trump's mind in terms of acts on loyalty --
COOPER: Understand --
COOPER: The chief of staff previously told you to drop out of the race.
SETMAYER: You know, --
CARDONA: Exactly. But I also take -- let's go back to the core of what a lot of people believe which is, it doesn't matter how great the people are around you. If the president does not change his own behavior, does not change his core values, nothing will change. And I agree with Scaramucci on the saying that he told Cuomo, but I'll say it right, "The fish rots from the head, and the head is still Donald Trump."
COOPER: But, I mean, you know, this White House has brought -- I mean, you have Rex Tillerson over at State Department. Obviously, you know, from the corporate world, highly respected. You have General Mattis. You have McMaster. But it's not clear -- I mean, Rex Tillerson, it's Jared Kushner who's, you know, supposedly in charge of Middle East peace. It's not clear that Rex Tillerson has been able to hire the people he wants to hire, that, you know, what his roles --
SETMAYER: He hasn't. That's been an area of frustration that Tillerson has expressed. And it's been reported this week actually which is kind of gotten lost and all the other drama of the week, but that Tillerson is very unhappy, and that he may not make it to the end of the year because of things like this, because of the ever evolving Trump doctrine. You don't really know what, where he stands on certain positions, in foreign policy, because he cannot get the people he needs in the State department. I mean, the vacancy is going on right now and for schedule C political appointees across the cabinet agency is insane. That level of vacancy is ridiculous.
[21:30:09] COOPER: Yes.
SETMAYER: And, you know, judges, U.S. attorneys, I mean, there are a lot of things that the government is not functioning well. And the cabinet secretaries aren't happy.
JENNINGS: Couple of issues he's got to tackle right out of the gate, internally staffing, I totally agree.
JENNINGS: And if he can streamline and make a more efficient the process by which they staff the government, I think the cabinet secretaries with more help in their agencies could do more.
Number two, the first external political problem, he's going to -- we'll see how he navigates politics here when they figure out how to implement the transgender ban. Because the president has made his intention clear, the Pentagon is not ready to move on without clear guidance. With Kelly as the chief of staff, when Mattis comes back, that is not just a military issue they have to deal with but it's an external political problem. Maybe he's the right person to navigate that for the president.
COOPER: We have more breaking news in a busy Friday night. We're just getting word on the fate of a bill that Congress passed overwhelmingly imposing new sanctions on Russia over its interference in the election. Among other issue, Jeff Zeleny is at the White House with the latest on that. Jeff?
ZELENY: Right, Anderson, the White House just released a statement a few moments ago saying the president will indeed sign that Russian sanctions bill. Now this is coming about 9:30 on a Friday evening here in the east. Something the White House was not necessarily eager to do because effectively this bill ties the hands of this president.
But even though the White House hear had been discussing, you know, he's going to review it. He might consider vetoing it. The reality here is this is one of the first pieces of major bipartisan legislation. It passed this week in the Senate 98-2. It passed in the House 419-3, Anderson. That's unheard of in this time of divided Washington.
So, the president accepted the political reality here. Said he would sign this bill. It does tie his hands and weaken his hands in terms of Russian sanctions. If he wants to change any of this, Congress has to give it its blessing here. But the president obviously knowing he cannot override the veto. So tonight he'll sign the bill, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. It's a big change from a lot of talk he had about Russia during the campaign. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much for that update.
Coming up, we're going to talk about the other news out of Washington, the vote that tanked the Republican Obamacare health care repeal plan. What is next for the GOP and the health plan?
[21:36:11] COOPER: To the other big news tonight. How do Republicans move forward on health care reform after the so-called "skinny repeal" was tanked by a few of their own over night. Here is that moment, take a look. That's Senator John McCain in the circle about to cast a deciding vote with a hands down, thumbs down to the Senate clerk. Mitch McConnell standing there with his arms crossed. Quite a moment. Let's bring back in the panel. Is there any way for Republicans to move forward, or how do Republicans move forward on this?
SETMAYER: They should -- go ahead.
HOOVER: Health care has to be addressed. I mean, regardless of whether Republicans do it alone or they do it like. The insurance markets need to be stabilized. I mean, Chuck Schumer starts --
COOPER: -- Well the president says to let it fail.
COOPER: And he says that's what he's always said, which is not what he's always said. He's talking about repeal and replacing but.
HOOVER: You know, there's -- potentially, look at the Cassidy Collins Bill, you know, is there a possibility to sort -- this federalism, right, let the states opt into Obamacare that want to have it. Let the states opt out that but don't want to have it. It doesn't feel -- I mean, today felt like a funeral on Capitol Hill. Nobody can look straight there --
COOPER: Not among the Democrats.
COOPER: Not among the Democrats. I'm sorry. I am a Republican. A Republican who rallied against -- and for reform of the Affordable Care Acts along the lines that -- of which there were many ideas but one that could be call a less around. You know, it was a funeral. I don't know if Lazarus is coming back from the dead.
COOPER: Scott, after how many years of running on this, and all these Republicans running on president running on it, it's incredible. JENNINGS: Yes. It sucks the momentum out of -- look, the Republicans have been on offense basically since Trump won, you know. The Democrats tried to get the momentum back in all these special elections this year and they failed every single time. They've been seeking a moment to regain the political momentum in Washington. They finally got it last night. So the Republicans cannot (INAUDIBLE) days and kick dirt, they have to now get up and move on something. Is it tax reform? Is it some creative idea to restart health care? They've got to think about what are we selling in 2018? So, if it's not going to be that we fixed health care, is it going to be the economy, jobs, safety and security? If it fits in those buckets, then they've got to get on it and get back on offense here, because I feel like the Democrats are last night are feeling emboldened.
JENNINGS: And Republicans need to take it away.
CARDONA: But, let's take a step back. Democrats felt relieved, and I will quote Schumer here, because this was not a win for Democrats. It was actually something great that happened for the country. It saved millions of Americans from losing their health care. What Republicans need to do now is to take Schumer up on his offer to work with them on actually fixing the Obamacare bill which is what the majority of Americans want. What was so interesting about McCain is that -- and he was one of the heroes that helped topple this horrible bill. That when he went over there, his thumbs down was actually a middle finger up to Donald Trump, and I saw the bubble, the thought bubble saying, hero enough for you now, Donald? I mean, that was a beautiful moment.
SETMAYER: Well, with all due respect to my Democrat friend, Marie, here, this is not good for anyone. It's not good for America.
JENNINGS: That's right.
SETMAYER: You know, it's not good for the middle class and families that are worrying about their health care. Their insurance premium is going up. Where you have, you know, a 30 percent of counties will have only one insurer. Major companies are -- health insurance companies are pulling out.
COOPER: So should Republicans work with Democrats on this to shore up --
COOPER: One at a time. One at a time. One at a time.
SETMAYER: Because the individual mandate --
BUMP: Let me just intervene here.
BUMP: That's not what this bill did.
SETMAYER: No, I'm not --
BUMP: This is important, because this is --
SETMAYER: Right --
BUMP: Donald Trump came out -- you're defending the bill.
SETMAYER: No, no, no, I'm saying --
COOPER: Let him finish.
BUMP: Donald Trump came out and said we need to sell what this bill does. There was no bill. The bill came out two hours before the actual vote.
[21:40:02] SETMAYER: Thank you.
BUMP: All that bill tried to do was get something -- which the House probably would have left on and actually passed. But here's the thing. Seven years --
BUMP: -- of trying to put together a bill.
BUMP: -- to answer the question, what needs to happen is they need to figure out what an actually solution to the problem.
BUMP: This bill was not an attempt.
BUMP: It was not sincere attempt find an actual solution.
SETMAYER: It wasn't. And if you let me finish before you accuse me doing something I wasn't doing. I was getting to that. That Republicans put forth something they didn't believe in the "skinny bill." Whoever came up with that should be fired, by the way. It's horrible name. They tried to rebrand it the freedom bill. And that didn't work. But that wasn't the solution either.
So, now that it's completely defunked, they do have to start over and possibly do it bipartisan. I know a lot of Republicans will say, well, the Democrats didn't do that. They huddled together in back rooms and pushed through Obamacare, but they did that --
SETMAYER: -- and Republicans should have -- they started planting the seeds to the credit of the Democrats in 2006. They stacked the CBO with people that would give them the numbers they wanted so when it was time for the CBO to score the Obamacare stuff, they got what they wanted. And Republicans never change those folks out --
COOPER: For all the talk about Democrats about wanting to work together, I mean, Chuck Schumer said the door is open, but he also had a number of preconditions for stepping through the door.
COOPER: So, I mean, Democrat are not going to let go of this and just --
SETMAYER: Oh no.
COOPER: -- suddenly work with Republicans.
SETMAYER: Why should they?
CARDONA: As long as it's not repealed. That was his condition. That they would not work with Republicans if it was going to be a complete repeal. And then starting over, why? Because, again, the majority of Americans agree that the Obamacare law should be fixed, should be made better. Not completely destroyed. Because right now this bill is the most popular health care legislation --
JENNINGS: As a political matter, though, and I hear --
CARDONA: No one has given them one.
JENNINGS: I hear Democrats saying this today. We had this argument in 2016, and one candidate ran on fix it, and one candidate ran on repeal it. And it wasn't just the president. It was the majority of the U.S. Senate, the majority of the U.S. House, and state legislative chambers and governors across the country, and Republicans won at every level. And so, if a majority of Americans believe that, why didn't it manifest itself politically? I don't think they do believe it. I think the Republicans who reelected this government are going to be enormously frustrated so -- when they realize their party --
JENNINGS: -- doesn't fulfill the promise.
COOPER: Can the Republicans bring this back?
BUMP: Yes, of course, I mean they control the House and Senate. They can do whatever they want -- they come up with a solution, I mean, Mitch McConnell could reintroduce a bill tomorrow. I mean, there were all sort of admins (ph) that can take to actually address this thing. But, I want to address to that last point, just because -- first of all, I mean, not to be this guy, but nationally Hillary Clinton got more votes if you're going to make that argument. But secondarily --
BUMP: And what happen is, once people saw Donald Trump win the election, they got worried about their health care, and the favorability of Obamacre spiked. That's what happened.
JENNINGS: So you think people only worried about health care after the results?
JENNINGS: You don't think people thought about health care when you were casting your ballots?
BUMP: No, I don't think that people went to the ballots office and say --
BUMP: Of course, Republicans won some races because --
BUMP: -- worry about Obamacare.
BUMP: But what I'm saying is people after they saw that Obamacare could be lost, that's when they started to rally to Obamacare.
JENNINGS: I give voters more credit than that.
CARDONA: And the majority of voters chose the Democratic agenda on health care and everything else over the Republican one.
SETMAYER: Well, because the Republicans didn't do -- because Republicans they have not done a good job of explaining why the Obamacare system is going to collapse, how it's going to do it, because they're too busy infighting --
COOPER: So this idea of just letting it fail, which the president is talking about, and that's going to bring Democrats --
HOOVER: That's actually --
COOPER: What does that look like?
HOOVER: You know what.
SETMAYER: It's ugly. HOOVER: It is ugly and it is painful. But this bill is still Obamacare, all right?
HOOVER: This actually is still branded to the Democrats. And so the Democrats now have some owness (ph) on them to come to the table. And Donald Trump is going to continue to say Obamacare is failing, Obamcare is failing, Obamacre is failing, and showing examples of Obamacare failing.
BUMP: And helping push it.
HOOVER: And helping to push. Yes. But here's probably --
CARDONA: But here the problem with that. Insurance companies CEOS are the ones who are saying that it's because of Trump and the administration injecting instability and indecision. The reason why they are not just getting out of the counties but the reason why some of the premiums are going up, because there is this indecision and in -- they are saying it.
SETMAYER: That's because they don't want to lose --
CARDONA: They are saying it.
SETMAYER: -- the federal government subsidies. That's why they're saying that.
CARDONA: In addition to that, when you take away the money to be able to tell people to sign up for Obamacare --
SETMAYER: You mean taxpayer money to push people to sign up --
CARDONA: You're killing it.
SETMAYER: -- forcing them on something they don't want.
CARDONA: When you take away the money for insurers to be able to offer some of the --
SETMAYER: Taxpayer money, subsidizing health insurance?
CARDONA: Yes. Well, that is --
COOPER: So Tara --
COOPER: Nobody can hear you when you talk over each other.
CARDONA: That what has had made Obamacare more popular --
COOPER: Tara, for you, OK, insurance markets, there's, you know, failing in some places, there's only one option for people.
[21:45:04] SETMAYER: A lot.
CARDONA: A lot.
COOPER: What does failing look like? Do you want Republicans to just let this fail and --
SETMAYER: No. I mean, this was like the worst possible case scenario as a Republican watching this. And I was on Capitol Hill for seven years during the majority of the time that Obamacare was being crafted and then watching it being implemented and the gnashing of teeth over what was to come and the prognostications about how Obamacare would eventually collapse on itself, which is what we're seeing. The fact that the Republicans were not able to coalesce around just basic things with getting rid of the individual mandate, but finding an affordable way. You know, Ronald Reagan, he said that no one should be without health care because of finances. That was a Ronald Reagan thing. So you're telling me that Republicans couldn't figure out a way to work together to come up with a plan to do this? It's very frustrating we're at that point.
JENNINGS: Here's what failure looks like to the average family. You're sitting here with a supposed insurance policy. My premiums have gone up every year. My deductibles have gone up to the point where it doesn't feel like I have insurance at all. That's what failure -- to me to talk about national political failure on this micro issue to the average family, --
JENNINGS: And it's already happening and it's going to continue to happen which -- Margaret is right. Whether we fix health care today or tomorrow, the circumstances aren't changing. It has to be fixed sometime in the future.
COOPER: Right. I want to get everyone's take on something else. The president did say today a speech in front of a lot of police officers in at the Long Island, New York. He seemed to encourage officers not to worry about using excessive force during arrest and that's not suiting well with the local police department. That's ahead.
[21:50:29] COOPER: Before the president announced his new chief of staff this afternoon, he delivered a speech on Long Island, New York about his administration to crack down on violent gangs, to a crowded police officers, many standing behind him. The president seemed to offer some advice on how to treat suspects.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a patty wagon you just seen them throw in, rough, I said please don't be too nice. Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you're protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand -- like, don't hit their head and they've just killed somebody, don't hit their head. I said you can take the hand away, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It didn't go over well with the brass from the police agency and the crowd who posted these tweets, "The Southern County Police Department has strict rules and procedures relating to the handling of prisoners and violations of those rules and procedures are treated extremely seriously. As a department we do not and will not tolerate roughing up prisoners."
Back now with the panel. I mean, it was interesting because you didn't see it in that clip, but in a number of instances the police officers behind the president were applauding what were either political statements or statements that were later disavowed by the authorities?
BUMP: I think there are a lot of people paying very close eye to how Donald Trump is reacting to the military and law enforcement. I think for people who are concerned about his relationship there and the way he addresses them or speaks to them that's a concerning scene to see police officers, you know, the thing -- I mean, that comment obviously stands on its own. But when he said the thing about Obamacare and how he was going to repeal Obamacare and the police officers were clapping behind him, that was unusual. That's not the sort of thing you see. And it echoed back to last week when he was commissioning an aircraft carrier and he encouraged the people in the audience -- the military to lobby their senators and congressman on the health care bill. These are not normal things for a president to do and I think it's -- will strike a lot of critics of Donald Trump in a very bad way.
COOPER: The Suffolk County Police Department was suggest on the international association of chiefs of police issued a statement tonight that said in part, "Law enforcement officers are trained to treat all individuals whether they're complainant, suspect or defendant with dignity and respect."
SETMAYER: Now, given the environment that we're in, in this country, where police officers the good ones are under attack because of what some incidents that have happened. And, you know, the dynamics between police and communities. The discussion has been going on for a couple of years since Ferguson really set that off. This is so disrespectful to the men and women who go out there every day and conduct themselves with character, integrity and dignity and take their job very seriously.
So if the president of the United States encouraging them to basically engage in police brutality, you know, I mean, that is just -- it's un- American. It's very dictatorial, very -- something you see in, you know, place like Venezuela where you have these dictators that rough people up. I mean, that's not America.
And I was sad to see those officers, I mean, I think maybe they were caught up in the moment and stuff but they should not have been clapping there. That's not a good representation and given Donald Trump's history on this issue of -- at rallies rough up protesters and things, this is really awful. I think this would probably get more attention if there hadn't been other things going on. He should apologize to the men and women who do their job well and don't do that kind of stuff.
JENNINGS: Regarding the clapping, I think it's true, I think most police officers supported Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. So there's no question they personally support the president.
I also think that -- to agree with the tension between police and the citizenry that exists is one of the most worrisome civil problems we have. And I agree, the police feel, like right now, in their interactions that go wrong they are guilty until they're proven innocent. You hear that if you talk to individual cop.
However, we as conservatives have to be very worried about a government that would feel like it's fine to rough people up --
JENNINGS: -- that aren't yet convicted of anything.
SETMAYER: That's right.
JENNINGS: And --
COOPER: -- I mean, it's one thing to say, yes, somebody's committed, when you are actually, you know, the one being put in the police car, rightly or wrongly, and --
SETMAYER: Prejudging them at that point.
CARDONA: But here's the thing. You're right. It is completely appalling because what he essentially did was endorse police brutality. But this is par for the course for this president. For somebody who endorses violence and has does so at rallies. And for also, somebody who calls himself the law enforcement president and who talks about -- and, you know, this is great, how great our police officers are and that they need to be protected and all of that, which is absolutely true, but he has never, ever talked about the other side of the equation, which are the people who are roughed up by police and that's why you see these kinds of conversations will never move toward helping Donald Trump in communities of color where people have felt abused by police in thinking that this is a president who has their back.
[21:55:27] COOPER: Margaret?
HOOVER: Yes. And sort of -- communities of color and what we need to worry about. And, you know, he was there to highlight the existence of criminal gangs and what he was actually doing is he was highlighting the existence of a criminal gang that is South American, El Salvadorion, that absolutely has victimized --
COOPER: It actually started in the United States --
HOOVER: -- started in the United States, started in L.A., but has spread, frankly, through the incarceration system, all throughout Central and South America. And many most of these -- most of the victims of these crimes are actually affinity crimes. They are individuals from other countries, sometimes there are citizens of the country, sometimes they're not, of course Americans citizens get caught up and every violent criminal who is here should be deported, and they are on borrowed time. But there is a political move here to highlight people who aren't -- people who aren't white, I think minorities, and to feed part of this really white nationalist, political support of Donald Trump. And if this overstates, I think, what the real problem is, we have violent crimes and criminal gangs here in the United States as well full of white people, they've been talking about. This really wasn't a law and order speech in that sense, this was really had a political undertone.
COOPER: It's interesting what the president's use of the term law and order, I think in many communities, particularly communities of color wonder law for who? What is the exact order?
BUMP: And this is a guy who came out in favor of stop and frisk people in the campaign trail. It's a bit of fine point. And what Margaret is saying is, this rally was intended to tie immigrants to crime, --
BUMP: That's why this thing existed. He singled out this particular gang. He repeatedly inflated numbers. He said there were x number of people that committed these crimes, however there were 4,000 people that moved from Suffolk County from this area. There are 150,000 young people that came into the country. He directly tied 150,000 kids that came from Central America to people that murdered people. And he told these really grotesque tales that he told last week in Ohio as well, about -- caught up with knives and beautiful young girls. I mean, the rhetoric -- that rhetoric to me was much more disconcerting --
SETMAYER: Can I just talk about -- not to minimize the brutality that MS13 is. And I worked on immigration reform. I worked on National Security and Border Security when I was on the Hill and I can tell you that these gangs are brutal and these things do happen and there was a problem in Suffolk County going on that is now, you know, the tough law enforcement is helping to root out and it happens all along the border, awful stories, and, you know, so that is real.
CARDONA: No one is arguing that.
SETMAYER: Well, some people are, but he unfortunately inflates things, makes things up --
CARDONA: It's even worse.
SETMAYER: It's legitimate.
CARDONA: But it's even worse than that in just inflating it and making it look like people of color are all criminals. I know a lot of people from these communities. CNN did a reported to that came out that talked about how Donald Trump's focus and his administration's focus on trying to root out these awful horrendous gangs has actually had the opposite impact, because now undocumented immigrants given his immigration stance in general, undocumented immigrants who are brutally attacked by these gangs are not going to the police. So this is where his policies have absolutely -- have had a pernicious effect on a lot of the communities of color, who from the beginning of Donald Trump's campaign have felt targeted by this president, do not feel that this president has their back and he has done nothing from the moment he stepped into the Oval Office except make that feeling worse.
COOPER: We should point out, though, I mean, you know, his use of the bully pulpit and you can emphasize bully or not his use if bully pulpit has contributed to a dramatic reduction in the number of people crossing over illegally.
COOPER: I mean not even through any direct policy but just --
SETMAYER: That's right.
COOPER: -- early on people believing this is not the time to try to enter the United States.
SETMAYER: And that should be a good thing. I mean, we should not be encouraging illegal immigration.
COOPER: No, I'm saying that's --
SETMAYER: -- in general.
COOPER: -- something the White House could be --
SETMAYER: They should be --
COOPER: -- Trumpeting and intended but could be speaking about a lot more.
JENNINGS: I think it's a political matter. I read this week that Republicans were thinking of making a push into going after mayors' offices in big cities. This law and order issue was a core driver of Trump in 2016. If Republicans do end up going for these mayor races this issue right now in a lot of cities it could be the vehicle.
COOPER: We got to leave it there. Thanks everybody for watching 360. I hope you have a great weekend. I'll see you on Monday night. "CNN Tonight" starts right now.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Another bomb shell from the White House caps off a week of chaos.
This is "CNN Tonight". I'm Pamela Brown in for Don Lemon. Reince Priebus is out, General John Kelly is in.