Return to Transcripts main page
Shakeup and Drama in the White House. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired July 29, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:30:00] PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Don Lemon.
Reince Priebus is out, General John Kelly is in. The president accepting the resignation of his chief-of-staff. And CNN learning that Priebus resigned privately yesterday but the writing had been on the wall for some time now. President Trump making the announcement, of course, on Twitter and going on to say this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Reince Priebus was a good man, John Kelly will do a fantastic job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And Reince Priebus, for his part, tells our Wolf Blitzer that he's just fine with all of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: He intuitively determined that it was time to do something differently and I think he's right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: We have breaking news tonight on the Russia investigation and the question that's been looming over this administration during a week of chaos and upheaval.
President Trump will sign the Russian sanctions bill we've learned tonight. In a statement the White House said, "President Donald J. Trump read early drafts of the bill and negotiated regarding critical elements of it. He has now reviewed the final version and based on its responsiveness to his negotiations, approves the bill and intends to sign it."
The legislation which was sent to the White House today would sanction Russia while sharply limiting the president's ability to ease penalties against Moscow independently.
So lot to discuss tonight. Let's get right to CNN global affairs analyst David Rohde. We also have counterterrorism analyst, Philip Mudd joining us, along with political analyst, April Ryan, and political commentator, David Swerdlick.
David, I want to start with you on this breaking news about the sanctions bill. Did the president really have a choice here?
DAVID ROHDE, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CNN: No, and this was the right move politically. If he had vetoed this bill against Russia it just adds even more fuel to the whole Russia fire. So, smart political move for the White House. Let's give them credit tonight for doing the thing I think was, you know, the clear correct choice politically.
BROWN: And of course, all of this is happening amid the shake-up with his chief-of-staff, Reince Priebus is out, chief of staff -- Secretary John Kelly, formally of DHS is now in. Reince sat down with Wolf Blitzer tonight for his very first interview right after his resignation. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRIEBUS: Well, look, I think the president wanted to go a different direction. I support him in that and like I said a couple of 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 -- it was something that I think the White House needs. I think it's healthy and I support him in it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And David, Reince he was really a loyal soldier right there to the very end but this must have been tremendously difficult, if not humiliating for him.
ROHDE: Yes. You know, it's amazing. This New Yorker story I work as an editor, and my colleague Ryan Lizza broke it yesterday. It was just extraordinary what, you know, Scaramucci, the new communications director said about Reince Priebus 24 hours later, Priebus is fired, Scaramucci is still there.
So it's got to be humiliating. This is the way the president runs his White House. You know, it's a tough operation. The question is can he sustain this, this turnover of staff, can he treat people this way? If you treat people this way will it lead to better performance or poorer performance and it's again not a very good track record.
BROWN: So it's been a lot of turnover thus far.
BROWN: And I want to play more from Wolf's interview with Reince. Take a listen.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN: 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 accusations--
BLITZER: Why not? Why not respond to him?
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 I'm going to honor our country and I'm not going to get into all of this personal stuff.
BROWN: So, April, I want to bring you in on this because people are commenting on how well Reince handled himself in that interview. But if you'll notice he did not hit back against Scaramucci despite his interview with the New Yorker that David and I were just talking about.
Doesn't that epitomize why he may be out at the White House because President Trump wants a fighter and doesn't that epitomize why perhaps Scaramucci is still in and why Reince is out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, I think--
APRIL RYAN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, you know.
BROWN: This is for April. Go ahead.
RYAN: I'm sorry. I thought you called April. I'm sorry.
BROWN: I did. I did. Go ahead, April.
RYAN: OK. OK. Yes, I believe that Reince did slap back. I believe Reince did slap back at Scaramucci because he said, you know, he's going to be professional and that was a slap because he basically said Scaramucci had not been professional in the way he's been handling this, telling the family business publicly via Twitter, via the interview where he used profane language, you know.
Reince did slap back in a very subtle way, but a poignant way at the same time, but the next question is what's next?
[22:05:00] You know, what's next for Reince and then what's next for this administration? Reince kept talking about this reset button that this White House is looking at I think about Mitt Romney with the etch as ketch moment, the other republican who tried for the White House didn't win but this seems almost like that reset moment to me, you know?
Who's next? Is it Steve Bannon? Jeff Sessions? Is it General McMaster? I mean, who is it? So could it be Rex Tillerson, we don't know. We want to see how far this reset goes but I believe that Reince did slap back not only for himself but maybe even also his friend Sean Spicer as well.
BROWN: I mean, it does raise a question too, how many more people can he afford to fire then you have to fill those positions. And I just to look over the turnover thus far, in this administration just a little bit more over six months in.
You have national security advisor Michael Flynn, FBI Director James Comey, the former communications director press secretary Sean Spicer, now chief-of-staff Reince Priebus, deputy chief-of-staff Katie Walsh, deputy national security advisor, K.T. McFarland.
So, Phil Mudd, what does this say to you?
PHILIP MUDD, COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST, CNN: I think you're painting the story, believe it or not, Pam, to narrowly. The story is bigger than that. It's not just about relieving people of duty in the White House, it's about the administration and the executive branch of government, which typically follows the lead of the president, starting to say no.
If you look for example, in the past couple of days you have the Pentagon saying no on the new policy on transgenders. Let's take you inside Washington when the secretary of defense and the Defense Department says we're not implementing until we get implementing policy from the White House, that's a no.
You've had Secretary of State Tillerson behind the scenes, if you look at the language out of the United Nations and the State Department say no on sanctions on Russia, the language has been pretty tough. From the director of national intelligence and the CIA director, the language on Russian meddling has been tough, the language out of the deputy attorney general on appointing a special counsel, Robert Mueller, has been we don't care what you think the special counsel is being appointed.
The attorney general is saying we are not reopening the Hillary Clinton case. So we keep talking about the White House in this mini drama soap opera in the White House. And I as a formal executive branch official, I'm saying, I've never seen this before. Typically the Congress says no and now it's the administration who theoretically works the president time after time saying six months in, no, you're done.
BROWN: And David, how do you think that's impacting the president and the decisions he's making?
DAVID SWERDLICK, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: So, over the last couple of days, Pamela, like I see that, you know, the White House may be OK with the results of the last couple of days, Priebus is out, Scaramucci is in. As April said, the president likes a fighter or maybe it was David who said that.
But I think long-term this does not bode well for them on two levels. For one thing, the president campaigned in part on this idea that maybe he wasn't a career politician but he was a CEO who would always hire the best and the smartest and the most prepared people. You show that graphic of all the people who have already been shown the door in the first six, seven months, that does not suggest that the president did a good job of hiring up based on whatever the agenda was that he wanted to follow.
The second thing is that I actually think -- I just want to touch on what April said, I'm not so sure that Reince Priebus did not miss an opportunity to sort of stick up for himself when he spoke to Wolf Blitzer today, because look, he's now going to have to transition to figure out his way. That was his one opportunity not to use foul language, obviously, not to betray the confidence of the president but show that he did have a little fight in him and I'm not sure that he did that.
The other day on BBC, Steve -- excuse me -- Anthony Scaramucci said, look, you know, where I come from, we don't stab people in the back, we stab people in the front, and I think the lesson of this week is that Reince Priebus was not quite ready for the stab people in the front game.
BROWN: And you know, you brought up the fact of this whole game of whose in, whose out.
BROWN: Sources are telling CNN that chief strategist Steve Bannon is staying put, at least for now. In your view, David Rohde, is this because he's more dangerous to the administration outside of the White House?
ROHDE: Yes. I think if Bannon were to go it would be a major threat to President Trump's base. But I agree with what Phil was saying. This is -- there are different elements of the federal government that are saying no to the president and the biggest no was on Capitol Hill last night.
You know, republicans in Congress are not taking risk for this president. He is not, you know, motivating them to back his bills. This was a colossal failure on healthcare, and so John Kelly's coming in as the new chief-of-staff, he has virtually no political experience. This is not going to help the president.
I mean, one small step is having a more orderly White House but how does it help him work on the Hill his legislation, his whole agenda of legislatively has stalled and I agree with Phil, more and more pushback -- this tough guy image, these fighters, we like fighters, it's not working.
[22:10:02] People in Washington whether they are, you know, government servants or members of Congress are not afraid of this president. That's why they're pushing back.
BROWN: And the question is, what is his new chief-of-staff going to do differently that he wasn't happy with Reince Priebus? We'll talk about all of this in the next break. So stay with me everyone.
When we come back, this huge shake-up concluding an entire week of chaos. Can General Kelly bring calm to the White House or is more confusion ahead? We'll discuss.
BROWN: I'm Pamela Brown, in for Don Lemon. And this has been a week of chaos for President Trump. So much is happened you made need a refresher. So let's go through it here. Let's go back to Monday, the president begins his day attacking his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions, tweeting that Sessions is beleaguered. That night President Trump says this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I'm in front of the Boy Scouts, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So then he proceeds to talk about politics and his election win and then Tuesday, President Trump bashes the attorney general again on Twitter and rounds out the day saying he's more presidential than any other president except Abraham Lincoln.
All right. Wednesday, the president drops a bomb tweeting that he wants to roll back the clock and ban transgender troops. That night, new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci implies in a tweet that Reince Priebus is behind leaks and says he'll contact the FBI and justice department.
[22:15:07] Thursday, republicans warn the president not to fire A.G. Sessions. Senator Lindsey Graham vowing they'll be, quote, "holy hell to pay." Ryan Lizza post, "Anthony Scaramucci's profane on the record attacks on Priebus setting off an absolute firestorm."
Also Thursday, CNN reports that national security advisor H.R. McMaster is at odds with the president. And that brings us to the early morning hours today. Senator Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain sink the GOP's Obamacare repeal bill. And the White House spins into chaos again as the president accepts the resignation of Reince Priebus naming General John Kelly his new chief-of-staff.
That was just in a week. Back with our panel to discuss. So much to go over here. April, is there anything typical about this week in Washington?
RYAN: Not at all. Not at all. I've been doing this for 20 years and it feels like it's been 20 years just in seven months, almost seven months.
RYAN: But you know, what's really interesting about this, it makes you wonder, is this what the president -- when he was a businessman, how he handled his business? Is this how he ruled his empire? How he's ruled his empire is I guess how he's ruling or governing this country and it's chaotic what we know for sure is that there was not cohesion within his staff.
What we know is what we see. If he's given this to us, this is just a glimpse of what is inside that White House. We would hear dribs and drabs. You know, some people say leakers, other people say whistle- blowers. There was not cohesion within the staff and now with the shake-up of the chief-of-staff, we wonder, if General McMaster can, one, withstand the chaos as he is a general who believes in control and controlling situations.
Two, you know, we know this president would look to General Kelly -- excuse me, General Kelly on other issues, not just on homeland security or what have you. He's bringing General Kelly in to be chief- of-staff and it makes you wonder if he's upset with McMaster, the national Security Council advisor, if he would be talking with General Kelly about issues like McMaster would give.
So, I believe Kelly would be bringing a whole new dynamic to the table as chief-of-staff to bring order as well as more information, intelligence that's needed or the president wants from another voice.
BROWN: And so given his background, do you think former Secretary John Kelly retired four-star general will bring order to this White House?
MUDD: No, that's a simple answer.
MUDD: Let's step through this.
BROWN: That sums it up.
MUDD: Let's look at a couple basic characteristics here. Number one, let's look at generals who have served in this lengthy period of a presidency that goes six to seven months. General Flynn, gone within weeks. General McMaster side lined. General Mattis, not even consulted as far as we could tell here in Washington on a significant policy on transgenders and then we sit here Pollyanna, I should say, wow, another general is going to change the way this world operates, is not going to happen.
Second and final issue, Pam, if you want to control the White House as the chief-of-staff, if you walk into a restaurant and say whose the manager, because I want to complain and somebody says well, the manager's here, but the owners brother's the bartender. The owner's sister is the head waitress, the owner's son is the chief chef here nobody's running that kitchen.
If you walk in the White House and say, well, the owner's son-in-law has direct access to the White House as does his daughter. Steve Bannon has direct access to the White House. Other people including Anthony Scaramucci has direct access, I don't care whether the general is a great leader, if you have that many people with direct access to the White House, he can't run the railroad just like you can't run a restaurant.
BROWN: And then the backdrop of all of this is that the president--
RYAN: But the point is to rein them in.
BROWN: Well, but can you rein him in? I mean, I think is the question here.
BROWN: Because he ultimately sets the tone with his tweets as we have seen this week, with him, you know, talking about Jeff Sessions and with the transgender in the military policy.
SWERDLICK: But typically--
BROWN: So I just want to -- go ahead.
SWERDLICK: If there's a model that works, you had someone like Jim Baker for President Reagan who President Reagan saw as almost a peer or an equal, right, and he, that was one model. You have the sort of Andy Kroll and George W. Bush model like the uppermost person among the loyal foot soldiers. You have the Denis McDonough, Barack Obama model which is like the silent enforcer model, right?
[22:20:00] What is the model? I tend to agree with Phil. Even though General Kelly brings a lot of personal stature, he brings bipartisan support, he brings organizational experience, what model is going to work between him not a political animal and President Trump who is unlike any president we've ever seen?
BROWN: Go, April.
RYAN: Well, what you have to -- what you have to remember is the chief-of-staff is in charge or in control of day-to-day operations. Everyone is supposed to fall in line under him. Right now, Scaramucci answers to the president. We'll see how that dynamic because General Kelly and Scaramucci, I wonder how that will work how that will play.
Too strong person, one strong military, the other very strong New Yorkish, but then who says he doesn't mind stabbing you in the front, but at the same time you have to remember, with all of these chiefs of staff, they are overtop the director of -- they bring them together, national security, domestic policy, senior advisors, when those people have skirmishes, he talks to them and he works with them.
If they're working on policies and they're marking on things, he deals with that before it goes to the president so what this could be is to stop all the confusion, the backbiting, the tattling, the I don't like this Mr. President and letting the president be like daddy of sorts over top of the children watching the day care of the children and instead letting the general, General Kelly deal with it as typical chiefs of staff for many years have done. BROWN: As typical chiefs of staff, but this no sort of typical set up
in the White House given what Phil Mudd was pointing out. All these people who are now reporting directly to the president.
I was listening to Leon Panetta, he was on CNN earlier, the former chief-of-staff. He said, the only way that this can work that it can be a successful strong White House is that the chief-of-staff can walk into the Oval Office and really speak his mind and be courageous enough to disagree with the president and share his opinions. Do you see that happening here?
ROHDE: I don't, on the one criticism I've heard General Kelly is that, you know, General Mattis, General McMaster will sort of speak truth to power. Kelly is seen sort of more of a political general.
But, you know, I go back to this. I don't always agree with Phil but I certainly do tonight. It's the president himself. The president whose tweeting things without advising his staff, he is changing, you know, brand new policies without letting the Department of Defense know, he is publicly humiliating Jeff Sessions to try to force him to quit.
You don't treat people that way. Everyone knows that and he didn't and I love April, he didn't run an empire. He ran a very small real estate development firm that struggled and, you know, he had a thousand employees total. There's many much larger organizations in the United States, businesses and it was a private company.
RYAN: You're absolutely right but he is branded his name. He's branded this company into the highest office in the land. So, I understand what you're saying, but he is not only a business mogul, he is also an entertainment personality, he has branded in all of the ball cap, kept snow balling upward to the office, the highest office in the land.
ROHDE: Well, we shouldn't say he's so great at running this great business organization and frankly, he is not doing a good--
RYAN: I didn't say -- I didn't say he was great.
ROHDE: -- job running the United States the government at all. He's a good salesman.
RYAN: I never said he was great. I never said he was great.
SWERDLICK: So far the results aren't there. So far the results from the president on down are just not there.
BROWN: All right. So much to discuss. When we come back we're going to hear more from Reince Priebus and his first interview since resigning. And I'll speak to a friend and former colleague of his and get his take on how Priebus was treated. We'll be back.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: A word that Reince Priebus was out as chief-of-staff came in shortly after Air Force One landed near Washington. President Trump was still on board announcing the news on Twitter, of course. And Priebus was already off of the plane on the tarmac climbing into a Secret Service van as we see in the video here.
Ashleigh Parker, a Washington Post reporter tweeted what happened next, calling it a sad final call into a turbulent run. She writes, "When Air Force One touched down Friday afternoon at Andrews Air Force Base, Priebus, senior policy adviser Steven Miller and social media director Dan Scavino all loaded into a suburban.
But moments later, Miller and Scavino hopped out of this vehicle and as word trickled out about the chief-of-staff ouster, reporters inched close to snap photos to Priebus who sat alone on the rain soaked tarmac. Priebus' vehicle then pulled out of the presidential motorcade which proceeded along to the White House without him."
I want to bring in Mike Shields. He knows Reince Priebus personally having served as the chief of staff at the RNC. Also with me, presidential historian, Allan Lichtman. Let's listen more to what Priebus told Wolf Blitzer tonight and then I'll talk to you on the other side.
BLITZER: What was the impact that the new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, you saw the interview he granted 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 he saw that interview?
PRIEBUS: No reaction because I'm not going to respond to it, I'm not going to get into the mud and 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: But why were you opposed to Anthony Scaramucci even getting a job in the White House? You saw how bitter, how bitter he was, how angry he was at you in that interview?
PRIEBUS: I'm not -- I'm not getting into that, Wolf. Look, it's over. I'm moving on. Support the president and I support John Kelly and the president's agenda. So, that's all you're going to get from me on that. I'm not going to get into the individual personal stuff.
[22:30:00] BLITZER He was also very angry at Steve Bannon, the White House chief strategist. I can't even read the words he uttered to Ryan Lizza about Steve Bannon, but you think he can stay in the White House with Scaramucci now the communications director?
PRIEBUS: That's going to be up to John Kelly but I will say that Steve is doing a great job. He is a brilliant guy, who only cares about the president's agenda. He thinks about it 24 hours a day, never quits. He's a great asset to this president and so and a dear friend. So, my hats off to Steve Bannon.
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 accusations 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? Why not respond to him?
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 I'm going to honor our country. 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: Scaramucci suggesting the FBI should get involved in that investigation. You agree with him on that?
PRIEBUS: I'm not going to respond to that. 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.
BROWN: All right. So there you heard it. Mike, I want to start with you. You know Reince Priebus, you were his chief-of-staff. What do you want to say tonight about how this went down and how he was treated?
MIKE SHIELDS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, first of all, I'm really proud of Reince not only in the way that he's conducted himself through all of this but the way that he's handled everything that he's done since he became chairman of the RNC.
Look, politics is not beanbag and Reince knew that the president likes to have a team of rivals that comes in and sort of argues over policy in front of him and throws elbows and Reince was up for that and served the president incredibly loyally and will continue to serve the president incredibly loyally.
But Reince, look, he came in and basically redefined what the modern political party does at the RNC and not enough credit is given to Reince for what he was able to do after 2012 to build the RNC into a machine that could work with President Trump to get him elected, then he was the chief-of-staff all through the transition working alongside the president to build out a superb cabinet and to put everything into place and then as he leaves the White House, we have more Americans that are working now than any time in history, home sales are at a huge high, the stock markets added $4 trillion of wealth for people's retirement funds.
And so, I think that, I'm very proud of Reince and very proud of the way he's conducted himself and I think that he's been loyal to the president. He'll continue to be loyal to the president of the United States.
BROWN: All right. Allan, I want to go to you because he was at the White House 189 days as chief-of-staff. This is the shortest in modern presidential history. What does that say about this administration? What do you make of that?
ALLAN LICHTMAN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, it says a lot about this administration. Look, in my book "The Case for Impeachment," I do some comparisons between Trump and Richard Nixon and what's going on here is very Nixonian. If you study the Nixon tapes, you see they almost never talk about the substance of the policies that are good for the country. It's all about whose got the power, whose in, whose out, whose feuding with whom and that's exactly what you see in what's going on right now in the White House.
Secondly, history teaches us that you can't save a failing or flailing presidency by an administrative shake-up. Shaking up his administration didn't help Jimmy Carter way back in 1979. What really matters is the guy at the top, his values, his leadership and his policies.
For example, the healthcare bill failed. Not because of chaos at the White House, but because it was a highly deficient legislation in all its forms opposed by virtually every stakeholder from the patients to the insurance companies to the hospitals to the doctors and to the American people.
Finally, this team of rivals, you know, something that's derived from Nixon. You don't fight out the team of rivals in public by demeaning and defaming your cabinet and your staff. And I would give some advice to President Trump to the new chief-of-staff and to Mr. Scaramucci from Abraham Lincoln himself and I'm paraphrasing.
Abraham Lincoln said, if I paid attention much less tried to answer all of the criticisms that come into this office and that are directed against me, I might as well close down this shop and stop doing any other business. You just got to ignore that stuff. [22:35:13] BROWN: Easier said than done, but I want to talk about the
new chief-of-staff, John Kelly. He was a marine, he served in the military for nearly five decades. He's entering a very top heavy West Wing.
There are at least 23 assistants to the president, the highest ranking title, of course, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, and Anthony Scaramucci, they all report directly to the president. Hope Hicks, Dan Scavino, and Kellyanne Conway also have direct lines of communication to the president.
So my question to you, Mike, is how can Kelly effectively serve as chief-of-staff if so many people have a direct line to the president?
SHIELDS: Look, I mean, it's interesting being on with a historians, all these comparisons being made. I think Trump is unique. And I think his management style is unique. It served him very well. And I think you have a strong leader coming in John Kelly, General Kelly. I think he's going to be a superb chief-of-staff.
And look, working as a team, there's lots of different ways to operate a team, right? And there's a lot -- there are flat structures and all kinds of organizations that function correctly. You always have to have a chief-of-staff. You have to have a leader who spends a lot of time with the president helping him make decisions and helping direct that team and that's what General Kelly's job is going to be.
He's got a tremendous background in leadership obviously. And so, he's stepping in at a time when, as Reince said, the president wants to go in a little bit of different direction and do a reset and I think he's going to do a great job.
BROWN: OK. Mike, Allan, thank you so much for coming on, gentlemen. I really appreciate it.
LICHTMAN: Thank you.
SHIELDS: Thank you.
BROWN: And when we come back, two men newly appointed to top positions in the White House, will there be a power struggle or can they work together? I'll speak to friends of theirs to find out. We'll be back.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BROWN: A week ago, Anthony Scaramucci brought his swagger to the White House and within one week his foe, Reince Priebus is out and General John Kelly takes over. So how will they matchup? That is the big question tonight.
And my next two guests know these power players all too well. CNN military analyst, Major General James Spider Marks, and William Cohan, author of "Why Wall Street Matters."
Thank you so much for coming on, gentlemen. General Marks, I want to start with you. You know John Kelly well, you served with him in Iraq. What do you think is the first thing he will do on Monday as the White House chief-of-staff?
JAMES SPIDER MARKS, MILITARY ANALYST, CNN: Well, John Kelly is a man in full. I mean, his life experiences are quite magnificent, he's a spoke leader, very measured, very focused.
I would suggest the first thing he does when he gets in there on Monday morning is he gathers two people together, he gets Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared, he brings them in and he says, look, I'm going to need your help with your dad and there are certain things I'd love to be able to routinely share with you because let's be frank, even as the chief-of-staff, he's going to make it very clear that everybody's going to need to come through him in order to be an effective chief and to ensure effective communications and alignment of policy, priorities and communications and the subordinate efforts that need to take place to meet those policy priorities, but there will be exceptions.
And the president's daughter, his son-in-law, maybe even Steve Bannon, there will be exceptions to that rule that everybody needs to come through the chief, and I think he should talk to those two, and said, look, I need some help to make sure that if someone is going to do an end run around me as the chief, at least the first place you stop when you come out of that office is my office or at least invite me in subsequently so I can at least be a part of this discussion.
Because I, as the chief, I'm the one who's going to lay on all the resources in order to make this policy, or this decision or this idea a reality.
BROWN: And someone else who has a direct line to the president is of course Anthony Scaramucci. William, I have to ask you your reaction first off to his pugnacious and profane really behavior this week, particularly with that interview with the New Yorker?
WILLIAM COHAN, AUTHOR, WHY WALL STREET MATTERS: Well, Pamela, what can you say, I mean, it's indefensible, it's inappropriate, it's inarticulate, it's not who I thought Anthony Scaramucci was. I don't think it's who he is. I think he was on a mission this week and he succeeded in that mission today by getting Reince Priebus fired.
Don't forget Reince Priebus, was the guy who blocked Anthony's ability to get the job he wanted in the White House for the past six plus months and so I think this was payback. I think this was of interesting warfare. He accomplished his mission, but I think that's obviously an indefensible series of statements that he made and I'm sure he regrets it except that it got to him, he got to the place that I think he and the president wanted to get to, which was that Reince Priebus left.
BROWN: So just for context here, how do you know him and why do you say that this is unlike him?
COHAN: I've known Anthony seven years or so from Wall Street days. I wrote a book about Goldman Sachs called "Money and Power," and Anthony worked at Goldman Sachs. He shared with me a great anecdote about his time there that I used in my book. I gave him credit for that and we got to know each other as a result of that.
He invited me to the SALT conference out in Las Vegas, a big hedge fund conference where I acted as interviewer of people like Oliver Stone and Michael Lewis and Magic Johnson. So, we've had beers and we've talked to each other. We shared our thoughts. I mean, obviously my political views are very different than his. But one thing I liked about Anthony, he always said we can disagree without being disagreeable.
[22:44:58] BROWN: I want to go to you, General Marks, about the question of Kelly's role in this job and whether he can handle it. Obviously, he's had a lot of experience in the military, he's been the secretary of DHS now for little over six months, but there are already people coming out saying that he doesn't have the political experience to do this job. What do you have to say to that?
MARKS: John Kelly is going to be able to do this job exceptionally well, and certainly there will be limitations. Look, I'm not Pollyannaish to assume that he's going to waltz in and everything will be perfectly fine simply because he arrived. John Kelly's got a very tough mission ahead of him and he'll embrace it.
But when you look at his body of work during his career, I mean he's been inside the Pentagon, he's been in this town, he was the legislative liaison lead for the Marine Corps also and all general officers during their period in service will go to the Hill on a number of occasions and they'll testify and so these existing relationships will be to his great -- relationships with those in Congress will be to his great advantage and certainly his knowledge of the staffers both personal and professional staffers that are on the Hill. This will work very, very well and John will tap into that.
But the key is, it is the strength of his character that he brings to the table and the veracity of the positions that he'll -- that he will embrace for this president, that's what's going to win the day. It's not being bombastic, it's not being a pugilist, it's truly been able to step up and have your position win the day.
BROWN: And just quickly, William, you know, considering the dynamic, chief-of-staff, the typical way it happens is people in the White House, staffers are supposed to go through the chief-of-staff to get through the president as the major general was saying, but when you have people like Anthony Scaramucci whose really come in and asserted himself, he has a direct line to the president, did you see him sort of take it a step back in letting the new chief-of-staff come in and take charge? How do you see this dynamic playing out?
COHAN: Well, I mean, I'd like to think it will work as smoothly as the major general outlines it. I have a feeling this White House is defined by chaos, thrives on chaos, that's what the president of the United States wants. He likes chaos. He likes people going at each other.
I will say this, though, for Anthony. He's got a lot of respect for the military. He's proven that again and again through the people he invites to the SALT conference. I think his mission was to search and destroy Reince Priebus. He succeeded in that and I think he's going to give John Kelly a chance and he's going to be respectful. And I think you'll see Anthony Scaramucci begin to take a lower profile as John Kelly steps up here and takes the role of chief-of-staff.
BROWN: All right. William Cohan and General Marks, thank you very much for that perspective.
MARKS: You bet, Pamela.
COHAN: Thank you.
BROWN: And when we come back, Washington is on edge from the big shake-up but what do people across the country think of all of this. We have two radio hosts from the right and the left, what they're hearing over of the air waves?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, everybody. I'm Anthony Scaramucci. The mooch. I'm a front stabber. I'm here to fire everybody. Be nice to me. OK? A little bit. Be a little bit nice to me, OK?
I'm somebody's little boy. And the mooch said, he was doing this for all the right reasons. I'm not trying to build my own brand off the (muted) strength of the president, I'm here to serve the country and added, I'm not Steve Bannon, I'm not trying to suck my own (muted).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BROWN: Reince Priebus out tonight as White House chief of staff but could this be part of a bigger West Wing shake up?
Here to discuss, Bill Press, host of radio's Bill Press show, and syndicated talk radio host John Fredericks.
Thank you both for coming on late on this Friday evening.
BILL PRESS, RADIO HOST: Hi, Pamela.
BROWN: Hi, there. John, I want to start with you. Do you think Anthony Scaramucci is behind the ousting of Reince Priebus just a week after coming on board?
JOHN FREDERICKS, SYNDICATED TALK RADIO HOST: Well, look obviously he didn't do anything to help him but I have to get to the comments he made in this on-the-record interview with the New Yorker which was just beyond the scope of human decency. I mean, at some point all of us that are Trump supporters have to draw a line in the sand that you simply have to have some common senses and element of the decorum. Anthony Scaramucci -- Anthony Scaramucci he took the title of
communications director. He's the spokesperson of the leader of the free world and to do that interview and throw those f-bombs around and what he said about Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon and God knows what else, it doesn't matter whether you -- what you think of any of these people, there has to be a level of maturity in this White House staff for them to get anything done.
And that was just -- that was just an episode that is beyond anything normal. And until people say look, we've had enough, we need some adults in the room and this nonsense has got to stop, which is distracting from the agenda and the message of the president.
I thought that interview, on the record, with the New Yorker was one of the most despicable things I'd ever witnessed in my entire journalism career and he should apologize for that and get the job of the president's agenda moving and stop this insane in fighting which is all about their own egos.
BROWN: OK. So on that note--
FREDERICKS: Absolutely ridiculous.
BROWN: I mean, that's the perfect opening to talk about the new chief of staff, General Kelly. In your view, Bill, do you think he will bring the maturity that he's talking about to the White House and be able to rein in the White House or is he taking on an impossible task?
PRESS: Well, first I have to say John's ire, as passionate as it is, is directed at the wrong person. Look, the problem is not what Scaramucci said. He's a scum bag, he's a snake oil salesman. The problem is the President of the United States gave him that job in the first place and the president of the United States had 24 hours to condemn those remarks, to say that's not dignified, that's not worthy of the White House. He did not.
He said nothing. In fact, what he did was carry out what Scaramucci wanted, which was to fire Reince Priebus. Let's put the blame where it belongs, it belongs on Donald Trump.
As to General Kelly, look, he's a good man. I think he's one of the best people in the cabinate. He's proven that. He's a good soldier, he's a good American, he's a good patriot. But he's got an impossible job and you know why?
Because, Pamela, you pointed out so far tonight already. He's not in charge. Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Steve Bannon and now, Anthony Scaramucci all report directly to the president not to the chief of staff. He is undermined the same way that Reince Priebus will have been undermine.
So the problem with the White House, it is a White House in free fall. It's not the problem, it's not with the staff, I'm sorry. The problem is with the guy at the top. That's the loose cannon and as long as Donald Trump is there with his tweeting and his bullying and his announcing policies without even telling his cabinet members, nothing's going to change.
[22:55:10] BROWN: And he had this event going on, he had this event in Long Island today where he delivered a speech to law enforcement officers and appeared to publicly endorse police brutality. Take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And when you see these towns and thugs being thrown into the back of the paddy wagon, you just see them thrown 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)
BROWN: So, John, is this president promoting more violence by police?
FREDERICKS: No. That's a ridiculous assertion, Pamela. I appreciate the question but look, the president does these things, he said these things. There's a lot of the rhetoric that goes in, but at the republican convention in Cleveland he said I'm the law and order candidate. I will be a law and order president. He's simply trying to enact the policies that he promised he would do, which gets us back to the ridiculous--
BROWN: But there is a difference between a law and order candidate and saying rough him up and so forth.
PRESS: John, John, John.
FREDERICKS: He didn't say anything in the world. He was making --he was making a character at a specific audience he has, and to try to extrapolate this and say somehow the president is inciting police brutality is really, Pamela, beyond the pale of a ridiculous thing.
BROWN: Well, there is a statement--
PRESS: Well, Pamela, may I jump in, Pamela?
BROWN: -- from the county's police on this. So this is what they said. The Suffolk County Police Department tweeted after this, "The SCPD has strict rules and procedures relating to the handling of prisoners. Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously. As the department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up prisoners, roughing up of prisoners."
So, Bill, I think I know what you're going to say. You think the president went too far.
PRESS: Well, I'm just going to say, of course the president went too far and the Suffolk County Police Department realized it. They realized this is not their policy. This is not appropriate. This was way over the line.
I would just like to point out in this week, the president was scolded by the Boy Scouts of America for some of the language he used and some of the things that he said at a Boy Scout jamboree and now today, the president is scolded by the Suffolk's County Long Island Police Department for encouraging police brutality.
I think that is sad, I think it's despicable, I think it's shameful and, John, you of all people should say this is not worthy of the President of the United States.
BROWN: John, these are esteemed nonpartisan groups. What is your reaction to this?
FREDERICKS: The president made a speech and had a rally and was making a caricature.
PRESS: It wasn't a rally. It wasn't a rally.
FREDERICKS: He was trying to say he had to -- it was one of his speeches--
PRESS: No, it was not a rally, John.
FREDERICKS: -- it was one of the speeches where he was talking about law and order, and you know what? Again, instead of talking about the substance of the president's address today and the magnificent progress he's made with gangs like MS13 and other things he's getting done, here we are talking about we're taking one thing he said and extrapolating it into something that had nothing to do with.
FREDERICKS: Which takes away the success he's had.
PRESS: Yes. Hey John, we would not -- we would not be talking about it if he didn't say it.
BROWN: All right. We also leave a very lively segment for a late Friday night. And I do appreciate it.
PRESS: Thanks, Pamela.
BROWN: Thank you so much. Good night to you both and that's it for us tonight. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Don Lemon. Thank you so much for watching. Have a great night.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)