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Anthony Scaramucci Versus Reince Priebus; Obamacare Repeal Fails in the Senate; Jeff Sessions Breaks His Silence on Trump Attacks. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 28, 2017 - 06:30   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: [06:30:05] Yesterday we had an exclusive interview with Anthony Scaramucci. He came on to explain what was going on, the frustration about leaks, the disorder. That's why he was brought in. "The New Yorker's" Ryan Lizza was on yesterday, on today, had a big interview with Scaramucci where Scaramucci went off in the interview with him about what was going on, how he felt about it, he used coarse language.

So, let's talk about this, the interplay of what's going on. You've got Ryan there. You see him on your screen.

There are a couple things we want to discuss. One, let's deal with the substance and then we'll deal with the reporting issues that the interview brings up. In terms of what you now know about what's going on in that White House, what do we know?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We know Anthony Scaramucci was not wanted in that role, that the chief of staff, Reince Priebus, in most White House, the chief of staff -- obviously the president has the final word, but most White House, the chief of staff is extremely influential and makes most of the big staffing decisions, or at least the president listens to him.

And Reince Priebus did not want Anthony Scaramucci to come to the White House and that was going on for about six months. He blocked Scaramucci from meeting privately with the president, but, finally, Scaramucci got the president's attention and he got the job despite Reince's objections.

We saw a press conference a week ago where they tried to -- where Scaramucci tried to say things were papered over. And since then, since that week, there were a number of stories that came out that were critical of Scaramucci, and Scaramucci believed they all came from Reince. So, when he saw me Wednesday night report about a dinner, a private dinner that Scaramucci and others had with President Trump, for whatever reason, Scaramucci believed that that information came from Reince Priebus, and he called me to ask me about it.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And all hell broke loose, I think it's fair to say.

LIZZA: That's where the interview started. That's where the interview started. He called me. Yes. CAMEROTA: And for people who may have been in a hermetically sealed cave yesterday and somehow missed the news of your incredibly -- well, whatever, a lot of fireworks. I mean, I'm struggling for the words --

CUOMO: And she's an author. You don't know how to say this in a nice way.

CAMEROTA: I will attempt to read a portion of the phone call --

CUOMO: Careful. One of our --


LIZZA: I tried this on air yesterday. It's not as easy as it looks.

CAMEROTA: I'm going to try it. Here is just a portion of what Scaramucci told you. Reince is a blanking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac, Scaramucci said. He channeled Priebus, as he spoke, oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the blanking thing and see if I can blank block these people the way I blank Scaramucci for six months.

Chris is doing an excellent job of being my sensor.

Look, the point here is, Scaramucci appears to be volatile person. I don't know if you would agree with that assessment or if you think that's fair.

He also doesn't seem to understand the rules of journalism. He wanted you to reveal your sources to him, and he told you that you would be a patriotic American if you would. He also doesn't seem to understand the rules of off the record.

So, tell us where today your impressions are of this phone conversation you had with Scaramucci.

LIZZA: Yes, I mean, that's how the interview started. He called me and started asking me about how I knew about this dinner. And started -- basically, as he worked himself up, started talking about it as if it was a fact that Reince had leaked it to me, I said it publicly now a couple of times yesterday, Reince did not leak that to me. He was not the source.

And I know this -- privately, I know Scaramucci now knows one of my sources about that dinner, because that source actually went to Scaramucci and told him this person was a confirming source. It's not very interesting to confirm to journalists who the president is having dinner with. It happens all the time. It's frankly one of the things that the White House is fairly open about when you go to them.

So, it's a little strange that the dinner itself set him off. But the back story is he had been increasingly upset, paranoid that negative stories in the press were being -- were coming from the chief of staff. And so, that's how the conversation started, then just launched into a series of questions. He's the White House communications director, the communication director spokesman for one of the most powerful institutions in the world.


LIZZA: As a reporter, when you get them on the line, just as when you get them on TV, guys, you want to ask some tough questions, I then started asking him a lot of questions and that's how the interview --

[06:35:07] CAMEROTA: Right, and it's not off the record.


CUOMO: Let's talk about that. Obviously there's a dispute. Anthony Scaramucci put up a tweet, if you want to put it up there, I apologized for his language. He said, I was passionate. I use language like that, but he didn't apologize for what the context was about the two other gentlemen that he talked about in the air.

LIZZA: No, he didn't apologize to Steve Bannon or Reince Priebus.

CUOMO: There's probably good reason for that because in his mind, and as we both heard from plenty of sources, he's got a two-headed dog that's trying to bite him in that White House. And it's Bannon and Priebus. So, he's got a reason for paranoia and to be upset. We know that. How he handles it, that's a matter of dispute.

But there's a different issue here, Ryan, which is he says he made a mistake trusting you. That he thought this was off the record, off the record is often referred to as the talismanic phrase.

LIZZA: He didn't say.

CUOMO: But you say you had it all recorded. In the recordings which you haven't released yet, does it ever come up whether or not this is on the record?

LIZZA: So, the entire -- so, I had a conversation with Anthony yesterday afternoon. I didn't want to post the piece until I had a chance to talk to him and walk him through what was going to be in the piece and explain it. I will say in that conversation, Anthony made 100 percent clear to me, look, I understand that interview was not off the record, totally within your rights to publish it. I don't want to say anything more about that conversation, but that was the takeaway from that conversation.

So, he talked --

CUOMO: He said he knows that it is on the record? I just want to stop you, Ryan, because, you know, I want to be represent yourself --

LIZZA: That's right.

CUOMO: -- because it wasn't that he felt it should be off the record and that you were burning him if you wrote on it?

LIZZA: We had a conversation yesterday where we both agreed that the conversation was 100 percent on the record, right? Now, did he want me to publish it? No. After the fact, the morning after, he was not very excited about the fact that it would be published.


LIZZA: But the key question that you asked about being on the record, we were in agreement and we had a conversation -- in fact, that conversation was recorded as well. So, there was no ambiguity about this, Chris. The communications director at the White House called me and we conducted an interview without setting any ground rules at the top.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for clarifying.

LIZZA: Just like Anthony Scaramucci called into your show -- just as if he called into your show right now and started talking and later says, oh, wait a second, I wish I hadn't said that.

CUOMO: But when somebody calls in, it's different because you know, de facto, it's on the record because you're on television.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but as the communications director, he should know the rules about off the record --

LIZZA: Well, you know, as a print, not really, it's no different --


CUOMO: That's why I'm asking how the conversation went, Ryan, because as we know, guys don't -- you now, people don't call you and say off the record or on the record all the time. It's about the relationship you have with them. That's why I'm asking for you the context, and you say the key point. You have a recording of Anthony Scaramucci saying to you I know this was on the record.

LIZZA: Yes. We talked about it before the piece was posted. The interview -- the communications director at the White House called the reporter, started talking and I conducted an interview with him and then I reported on the interview. And that's as clear as day.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it is. We are happy that you published that interview so that we could all see, this is not just a team of rivals in the White House. It is the Hadfields and McCoys at the moment. I think your interview captured the mood there.

So, anyway, Ryan, thank you very much for being on with us for these past two days and explaining all the reporting.

CUOMO: Appreciate it, Ryan.

LIZZA: Thanks, guys. See you soon.

CUOMO: So, back to the policy at the heart of the matter. The ACA, Obamacare, is here to stay, for now at least. It's the law of the land, but there are problems, there are cost issues.

So, will the people come first? And if they do, if they have the political courage to work together, what does need to be addressed? We have one of the architects of the ACA who has those answers next.


[06:42:21] CUOMO: John McCain, he's the face on your screen because he cast the decisive vote that ended the debate on whether or not the skinny repeal would become the bill out of the Senate. It didn't pass. The question is, now what?

So, let's bring in Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. He's one of the architects of Obamacare. He's the chair of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of "Prescription for the Future: The 12 Transformational Practices of Highly Effective Medical Organizations."

Doc, good to have you.


CUOMO: All right. So, let's check the main boxes. The first one, why was the skinny repeal insufficient even for some Republican senators to vote for? Why?

EMANUEL: Well, it was just bad policy. I mean, look at Lindsey Graham who called it a pig and a poke, a disaster. I mean, everyone knew it wasn't policy. It was there as a face saving device to get into negotiations with the House. I think that Senator McCain realized that it really was a trap because, if they couldn't come to agreement on a big bill with the House, then the fallback was this terrible pig in a poke bill --

CUOMO: Why terrible -- the operative notion was this, the ACA doesn't work, it's too expensive for people, deductibles are too high, you've got insurers fleeing too many markets. So, we're going to fix that by healthy people getting one kind of bill and not mandating all these things that makes it too expensive. What do you say?

EMANUEL: Well, look, the bill -- the skinny bill would have basically completely eliminated the individual insurance market. Fifteen million people would have been thrown off of coverage. Insurers would have fled that market, much, much worse than anything that's happened under the current Affordable Care Act.

I mean, the real thing we need to do, Chris, is to move on to cost control and to change how we deliver care. That's what I address in my book. The real issue, as Americans have said over and over again now, is affordability. And they need more affordable care.

The only way over the long term to make care more affordable is to change how we care for patients, especially patients with chronic illness. And why I try to document in my book are 12 different things that doctors and hospitals and home health agencies can do to change that care and to make it much more effective, much more affordable and improve the quality.

[06:45:01] And that in the long run is going to bring the premiums down, make the deductibles more affordable.

That's the direction we have to go. Hopefully, the Republicans are open for it.

CUOMO: Well, OK, help us understand, because so, are you saying that the solution lies with the providers or the policymakers or a combination of both?

EMANUEL: It's a combination of both. You need providers to provide the right playing field, mainly changing how they pay hospitals and doctors. There are a few other things they need to do. They need to change policies. And then doctors and hospitals with new incentives need to change how they care for patients.

Just to give you one example, we know that chronic illness accounts for about 84 percent of all the spending in the health care system, and there are lots of places that have done better at keeping patients with diabetes or heart disease out of the hospital, at home and healthier by actually hiring chronic care coordinators, reaching out to patients, not waiting till they get sick, changing how they schedule their appointments so that they can come in any time, things are sliding down a little bit.

And those kind of changes can make a huge difference. Decrease hospitalization 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent, reduce the amount of other resources people use like home care. It can be very, very cost saving as well as improving the health of people. That's where we need to be today.

CUOMO: So, if people want to know where do we go from here, there's a book they should read, "Prescription for the Future." You've got a dozen ideas in there literally about what can be done on the provider level and how our policy makers can make that into the standard for the country. That will bring costs down and that makes it better for people.

Do I have it right, Doc?

EMANUEL: You got it perfectly. You can do the PR for the book there, Chris.

CUOMO: Well, you've only been telling me this for about five years now. So, I'm glad I finally figured it out.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, I appreciate you being on.

EMANUEL: Well, hopefully -- look, hopefully, the political system will figure it out because that's where the American public wants us to do. Get the costs under control so we can afford it and we can get good quality care. It's doable.

CUOMO: Well, that's the good news.

EMANUEL: Thank you.

CUOMO: That's the most hopeful thing I've heard in about 42 hours. Thank you very much.

EMANUEL: I'm an optimist.

CUOMO: All right. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Very good note on which to end. Meanwhile, Jeff Sessions breaking his silence last night over President Trump's relentless attacks. What's next for Sessions?

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez shares his thoughts, next.



[06:50:54] JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it's kind of hurtful, but the president of the United States is a strong leader. If he wants to make a change, he certainly can do so. I will be glad to yield in that circumstance, no doubt about it.


CAMEROTA: All right. That's Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaking out about President Trump's repeated public criticism of him. He says he stands by his decision to recuse himself from the FBI's Russia investigation.

Joining us now is former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. He served in President George W. Bush's administration. He is now the dean at Belmont University Law School and the author of "True Faith and Allegiance."

Mr. Gonzales, thanks so much for being here.


CAMEROTA: Do you think Jeff Sessions will be in his job one month from now or do you think President Trump will fire him and make an August recess appointment?

GONZALES: I think this is very unpredictable. I will say this. I really admire the way Jeff Sessions has handled himself. He has, you know, said very little about this as is appropriate and I think he's put his head down and is working hard on behalf of the American people.

But at the end of the day, we all must remember the cabinet secretary serve at the pleasure of the president. And when the president no longer has the pleasure of your service, then you leave and --

CAMEROTA: Well, hold on a second, because the president no longer has the pleasure of his service. I think it's fair to assess it that way, given the president's tweets.

GONZALES: Well, again, I think the correct response is, of course, that you could be upset at the performance of the cabinet secretary and not make a decision to remove him. And so, the president will make a decision on his own based upon whatever factors he believes are appropriate, in deciding whether he wants to have Jeff Sessions continue. As I said, I think Jeff Sessions is doing the absolute right thing which is to say very little about this and just continue to work hard on behalf of the American people.

CAMEROTA: Jeff Sessions did go on last night. He did say a little bit more about this, and how he feels about his own decision to recuse himself. So, listen to this.


SESSIONS: I'm confident I made the right decision, the decision that's consistent for rule of law. An attorney general who doesn't follow the law is not very effective in leading the Department of Justice. So, I think as with 15 years in that department, having served in that great department, knowing the integrity that's required of the attorney general, I believe I made the right decision.


CAMEROTA: Do you think Jeff Sessions made the right decision?

GONZALES: I think based on the reporting, if, in fact, his ethics advisers are telling him this was the right course of action both under the law and under the regulations of the Department of Justice, yes, I do believe it. And, you know, it's hard for me to second-guess his decision based upon the public reporting. I stand behind the decision by Jeff Sessions.

I think it's the benefit of the Department of Justice. And I think strengthens his position as the attorney general.

CAMEROTA: So, in that case, what do you think of President Trump dressing him down so publicly?

GONZALES: Listen, I don't know President Trump, and people have different management styles, different ways in which they express frustration or deal with subordinates. And so, I'm not going to criticize the president's manner in the way he deals with his cabinet secretary.

It's certainly different than what I experienced when I was attorney general for the United States working for President George W. Bush. But that's the way things are. Again, you serve at the pleasure of the president.

CAMEROTA: Well, then, what do you think -- do you think that this shows a pattern of some kind, of the president publicly going after our law enforcement leaders? I mean, I'll just give you the most recent list. There was James Comey, as you know, former FBI director, now Jeff Sessions, Robert Mueller, he's quite disenchanted with, even FBI Director Andrew McCabe. Are you comfortable with the president of the United States seeming not to respect the independence of our law enforcement and judicial leaders? GONZALES: Well, of the cower individuals you mentioned, I know three

quite well, of course, Mueller, Comey and Jeff Sessions. These are people that are not going to be intimidated.

[06:55:03] And, you know, these are tough jobs, and you make tough decisions and you're going to be criticized. And you know that, but you continue to do your job.

And so, I -- listen, I don't believe that they're going to be affected in any way from moving forward and enforcing the rule of law in this country, based upon -- just based upon the criticism of the president of the United States.

CAMEROTA: I hear you, but why do you seem reluctant to tell the president to knock it off?

GONZALES: Well, I -- listen, I will say this, I don't think it's helpful, quite frankly, to attack the attorney general because the attorney general above every other cabinet official must be seen as strong and enjoying the full support of the president of the United States because it's the attorney general who's going to be telling the other cabinet secretaries, no, you can't do that under the rule of law. And so, having the full public support of the president can be very, very effective and helpful for the attorney general to be effective in doing his or her job. And so, to that extent, I am worried about the public criticism.

CAMEROTA: Alberto Gonzales, we appreciate you coming on NEW DAY as always. Thanks so much for being here.

GONZALES: Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: All right. The Republican effort to repeal Obamacare went down in stunning defeat last night. What happens next? We have it all covered for you.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The motion is not agreed to.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: This is clearly a disappointing moment.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: We are relieved not for ourselves, but for the American people.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: There are going to be a great many Americans who tonight feel a sense of betrayal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator John McCain voted no. He has made his career out of being a maverick. This is a moment that he understands is going to help cement that.