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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks Resigns. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired February 28, 2018 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:30:04]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: John Kelly, who was the target of a lot of criticism, has said, I'm going to fix this. Anybody with temporary security clearance from such and such a date, it ends on this date.

And Jared Kushner feels kind of victimized and picked on.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Woe is little Jared, because he can't take a little bit of well-placed heat.

Look, the fact of the matter is, Jared Kushner is still very much a danger to national security. And, frankly, I don't care how he feels, because, OK, they have downgraded his security clearance. And now folks are saying, oh, well, perhaps we don't discuss this in front of Jared Kushner here.

We know that this White House and this president has deemed that any -- he can declassify anything at will at any time.

TAPPER: The president can.

SANDERS: The president can.

And so what happens when he decides to declassify information just so Jared Kushner can have access to it, even though the United States national security apparatus has deemed he is not qualified, trustworthy to have a security clearance?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Can I raise one point?

This is significant because this is the first time the Trump White House has faced any consequences for its nepotism. Jared Kushner is the ultimate in privilege. He is only there because he won the marriage lottery.

Let's be clear on that. And so I don't feel very bad that he claims victimhood on this front. But the other angle of this that's sort of stunning is that Donald Trump refuses to take action himself. He keeps saying I will let John Kelly make the decision. His hands are out of this.

What kind of commander in chief are you that you can't make a decision about your staff, let alone your son-in-law? SANDERS: And what about the Republicans in Congress? If this were

the Obama White House, kid you not, folks would be on this air, on every single air everywhere. There would be petitions out there. There would protests.

TAPPER: I have some breaking news.

SANDERS: What is really going on?

TAPPER: Pardon me. I have some breaking news. You hear the breaking news.

"The New York Times" is reporting that Communications Director Hope Hicks will resign from the White House in coming weeks. Hope Hicks is going to resign from the White House in coming weeks. We are going to bring you more information on that as we learn it.

But obviously this comes with the disclosure yesterday before the House Intelligence Committee that sometimes she was not always truthful. She said there were white lies.

Here's Maggie Haberman, our colleague, who writes for "The New York Times."

"Scoop: Hope Hicks resigning White House in coming weeks."

And Hope Hicks, obviously, we know that she had, she was facing a lot of questions about her role with President Trump on Air Force One that time, when whomever, President Trump and others, were coming up with what we now know to be a false story about why Donald Trump Jr. met with the Russians in that 2016 Trump Tower meeting. She's been the president since 2015 at least.

She's been one of his closest and most trusted advisers. This is pretty significant. And I have to say, I did not see this plot twist coming.

CARPENTER: Well, here's the thing.

She didn't just tell white lies. She told one giant whopper lie. She told the press that it never happens. No communications between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.

She issued that statement, saying blanket denial, that members of the campaign never talked to any Russians. We knew that was proven false as soon as we learned about the Trump Tower meeting. Another lie. The legal counsel resigned reportedly because she said that Don Jr's e-mails would never come out.

Those are not little white lies about scheduling conflicts. Those are giant white lies that can get you in legal trouble, that lead to potentially obstruction of justice.

TAPPER: You're talking about the spokesman for his legal team resigned.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: Because he was telling people the e-mails will never come out.

TAPPER: And that's a really interesting point you bring up.

Mark Corallo, who used to work in Bush Justice Department, was a spokesman for President Trump's legal team. He resigned and he thought, according to reporting, that what Hope Hicks was saying there was basically talking about committing a crime. Hope Hicks denies that.

But the idea that those e-mails are never going to come forward, because, in Corallo's opinion, we won't let them see the light of day. That's obviously not what Hope Hicks says.

SANDERS: Yes. As a communications person -- Amanda, you know this -- one of the first rules is, you do not lie. You can spin, you can fudge, but you should not lie.

And so the moment that Hope Hicks admitted that she told white lies on a regular basis, I knew she was done here as the White House communications director. So take a criminality out of it for a moment.

Just you cannot be the White House communications director and creditably to go work every single day if you are admitting that you are in fact a liar.

TAPPER: This is pretty significant, though, Phil. And I wonder if I wouldn't if there's more to it, obviously, than we know.

Why exactly would she resign from this job? She's been through a whole lot with Donald Trump. She has been through the "Access Hollywood" tape, all the fights on the campaign trail, the firing of Jim Comey. What is about exactly about this moment?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I will read to you into what I think is going on here.

Sean Spicer says, I lied, essentially about the size of the inauguration crowd. That's not a federal crime. That's wrong, but you're not going to jail for that.

As soon as I saw her say that, my question is sort of riffing on what Amanda said. What is your definition of white lie?

[16:35:02]

There's a couple people in the Mueller investigation who have gotten what we call in the business a 1001 violation, lying to a federal officer.

George Papadopoulos got one. General Flynn got one. My question is, is your definition of a white lie what the federal government would define as lying to a federal officer during an investigation? That's a federal crime. That's the concern.

TAPPER: I want to bring in CNN's senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, who is at the White House.

Jim, what can tell us about Hope Hicks?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

Jake, we were just told by a White House official in the last several minutes this is happening in the next few weeks. The White House, as you might have expect in one of these departures -- it doesn't get perhaps more high-profile than this. Perhaps the chief of staff or a Cabinet-level position would be higher-profile than this or the presidents' family.

But Hope Hicks has almost been the president's family for the last several years, serving with him during the campaign and here at the White House.

But has put out a statement saying: "There are no words to adequately express my gratitude to President Trump. I wish the president and his administration the very best as he continues to lead our country."

There's also a quote here from the president, Jake: "Hope is outstanding and has done great work for the last three years. She is as smart and thoughtful as they come. A truly great person."

Chief of Staff John Kelly: "When I became chief of staff, I quickly realized what so many have learned about Hope. She is strategic, poised and wise beyond her years."

Obviously, some of those glowing statements do sort of fight against what we heard reported yesterday by our Manu Raju and others, that Hope Hicks essentially revealed to lawmakers behind closed doors when she was testifying yesterday that she had told little white lies on behalf of the president during her work for him.

But make no mistake. When you talk to anybody here around White House in Trump world, there's really no adviser who is closer to the president, closer to Donald Trump than Hope Hicks. It is not an overstatement to say she is essentially part of his family and she has functioned that way for some time. This is going to be a big role for somebody to fill here in the coming days.

Keep in mind she was the communications director here, but she was so much more than that because she was so close to the president -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jim Acosta, thank you so much.

Let me bring in Maggie Haberman by phone now. She broke the story for "The New York Times." She joins me now.

Maggie, I guess the first question, why? Why is Hope Hicks leaving?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's funny. I was actually listening to you talking about everything she had been through with him. And it really reminds you this is a grueling and in many ways terrible job for almost everyone who is working in the White House right now.

So I think if you go to that, that's the main reason. Look, Hope Hicks has been thinking about leaving for a really long time. I realize that there's going to be a lot of assumptions that this all is from yesterday and her time on the Hill. All of my reporting indicates that it is not, that this had been something that had been in discussion for a while.

And essentially she decided there was no perfect moment to leave. She had done what she wanted to do. She had conceived of this gun forum last week. She had worked on tax reform. She had sort of accomplished what she could.

She never became of Washington of a denizen of Washington, was never part of it. She's I think interested in moving on. Most people, as you know very well, don't last in these jobs under normal circumstances for endless amounts of times. These have been like dog years.

TAPPER: I can see that. Certainly, it's a tough time. The timing is curious, of course, coming one day after we learned that she told House investigators with the House Intelligence Committee that she had said things that weren't true on behalf of President Trump, which is an admission that a lot of people do it, but not a lot of people admit it.

What about her role...

HABERMAN: I don't think the president considers that a disqualifier.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: No. No. I agree with you. I don't think telling lies on the president's behalf gets any black marks against you.

HABERMAN: Not with him, right.

TAPPER: No, loyalty is important to him. And she is loyal. She remains loyal.

HABERMAN: That's right.

TAPPER: I do wonder, though. The role that she played with President Trump in enabling that lie to get out there when President Trump and whomever else were coming up with the false reason why Donald Trump Jr. and others met with those Russians in Trump Tower during the campaign in 2016, that has made her somebody that Mueller and the FBI have wanted to know more about in terms of her role and also what she witnessed, perhaps even more so.

HABERMAN: I actually think it's funny. I think if you look at what she said yesterday on the Hill, I think you can take from that that I think there had been a big question about how she would handle these questions.

Would she tell truth or would she choose to sort of choose loyalty, which is what the president prizes?

[16:40:08]

And what you can surmise from the comments, as we understand them, is that she told the truth. And I think that the longer that one stays in this White House, given everything that is going on, I think it becomes more and more challenging both in terms the political climate and in terms of everything else.

TAPPER: Maggie, let me just read this statement from President Trump that we -- quote -- "Hope is outstanding and has done great work for the last three years. She is as smart and thoughtful as they come. A truly great person. I will miss having her by my side. But when she approached me about pursuing other opportunities, I totally understood. I am sure we will work together again in the future."

Maggie, do have any idea what these other opportunities are, why somebody would go from being the communications director for the president of the United States, a man that she had had unfailing loyalty to for three years?

She is going to work for a P.R. firm? What exactly is the plan?

HABERMAN: My understanding is that she has had some outreach from a couple of different places. What she ultimately does, I'm not clear on all.

But I think it will -- I think it will be an interesting moment in terms of what White House advisers at senior levels are able to move on to after working there. We saw Dina Powell, who had been the deputy national security adviser, is likely to return to Goldman Sachs in some form.

She had obviously come from there. I think that the -- what happens to people when they leave is obviously an open question. We don't know yet. We don't know her departure date yet. She's not quitting today. She is not leaving the White House today and tomorrow.

TAPPER: Do you have any idea as to how her departure is being received internally?

I am sure President Trump protested. He values her quite a bit.

HABERMAN: Staff is very upset, from all the people I have spoken to.

People are very, very upset.

TAPPER: Because she is somebody who had the ability to talk to President Trump and nudge him in the direction that they all wanted him to go? Because she is a person who people regard highly when it comes to just her fundamental decency?

What are the reasons?

HABERMAN: She understood him very well. People felt as if she generally fought for them, that she was loyal to people who worked with her.

She protected a lot of other staffers from all kind of things from him. As you and I know, he has quite a temper. She was seen as a positive presence.

Look, the press shop there is never going to be Disneyland in terms of the happiest place on earth. But it had -- they had become more of a team in the last couple of months. Ultimately, it is going to reflect the president, and he has a certain metric, which is very different than almost everyone else's.

TAPPER: And one last question, Maggie.

And that is during the Rob Porter affair, when it became clear that the White House was in the middle of a scandal because the staff secretary was somebody who did not have the proper security clearance and it was precisely because he had two ex-wives, both of whom had accused him of domestic abuse, plus an ex-girlfriend out there also reaching out, it'd been reported that President Trump was distressed not only with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly for not nipping this in the bud months ago, when people in the White House learned about this issue, but also because of Hope, who at least at the time was said to be romantically involved with Rob Porter and involved in the initial statements from the White House that backed him 100 percent.

And they had to back away from within 24 hours after the picture of one of the ex-wives with a horrific black eye was published. Does that have anything to do with that with Hope Hicks leaving, the president being upset with her, the president expressing that displeasure?

HABERMAN: No, not as far as I know. And I would be surprised to learn that it did. But I don't think so.

TAPPER: All right. Well, I just thought I would throw it out there.

(CROSSTALK)

HABERMAN: Worth asking. I don't think so.

TAPPER: Maggie Haberman, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Always good to have you. Thanks for coming in.

HABERMAN: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Amanda, your response to all this?

CARPENTER: I just find it very hard to believe that after facing a nine-hour, grilling session on the Hill yesterday, she just by chance resigns today because it was in the works for a long time.

That just doesn't seem like a natural thing to me. Perhaps she just reached a breaking point. And I do feel for the other staffers in that press shop on. By all appearances, Hope was stoic. Hope was professional.

You lose somebody who is at the head of the ship, it can feel like things are coming apart and that my sense of what is happening.

MUDD: Let me give you one way to interpret this as someone who watched people leave.

Two four-letter words. Be careful.

TAPPER: Yes, you watch out.

MUDD: Push and pull.

Was she pushed because this is such a difficult environment? I had to go get grilled on the Hill. I had a problem with Rob Porter thing. Or was she pulled because she said a lot of people I saw, 55-plus at the FBI -- she's not in that category -- I have got two kids in college, and I can make three times as much on the outside?

I look at this and say, this looks like a push. That is, she said, I can't take this anymore. I got to get out.

Push or pull. You make a choice.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And (INAUDIBLE) it could be a combination thereof although she doesn't -- she's unmarried. She doesn't have kids to worry about but obviously, she wants to have a nice life.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, look, I'm a young person that got started in politics early. And I used -- I like to always say that I was 25 or I'm 28, I'm not 40 and I do have some other things I'd like to do. But the fact of the matter here is that Hope Hicks resigning from the White House does not mean she gets away from the Mueller investigation. It doesn't mean she is abdicated from her participation in kerfuffle that is, in my opinion, this White House. And Hope Hicks admitted on the record to someone that she told lies. White lies are still lies. And so I want to know what Hope Hicks lied about. How many times was she lying about it? And how do those lies impact the American people? So I hope that Hope is not rewarded for her time in the White House. I don't think folks who lie to the American people who participate in the things that folks who at the highest levels of this Trump White House have participated in should be rewarded with anything.

TAPPER: Six years -- six years ago -- I'm sorry, 20 minutes ago, when I did -- when I did the commentaries just about all the crazy things going on, President Trump attacking Jeff Sessions for abiding by protocols, Hope Hicks admitting she lied, everything with Jared Kushner, you know, that was -- that was -- those were the three things, three huge storiesm but we just call that Wednesday and now we have Hope Hicks resigning, again, it does seem like there is more chaos in this news cycle every day than any other period I can recall because of the Trump White House. I mean, look, there are events that intervene, the horrific Florida shooting, you know, war abroad, thing that have nothing to do with the White House, but day after day after day after day, this White House is making news, often bad for themselves, often self-inflicted wounds.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But this does explain the tweets President Trump wrote against Sessions today. I do think to some extent --

TAPPER: You think it's (INAUDIBLE)

CARPENTER: A little bit but listen, let's pretend that we knew that Trump knew that Hope is going to leave. Trump is losing his team. What Trump really wants in Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a John Mitchell, Nixon's Attorney General who later managed his campaign and covered up for Nixon, and later you know, went to jail and became the first attorney general ever to go to prison. But I do think that Trump wants a protector, someone to stop the Russia investigation because now he is losing people, the indictments are mounting up, there's a tout set for Manafort in September, the tide is turning against him on this front and he is rapidly losing control.

TAPPER: I want to go through just to take a moment to go through all the White House Communication Directors we've had in the 13 months of the Trump administration. Jason Miller who was named to the job but withdrew his name, Sean Spicer, of course, Mike Dubke came after Spicer. Spicer again for an interim basis, then Scaramucci, of course, came in, and I think that was 11 days long. Hope Hicks filled in after Scaramucci after his departure, and now she's resigning. That is a lot of communications directors in one-year plus.

SANDERS: It a whole lot and it's truly unfortunate. Look, I think the job of the White House Communications Director is kind of help set the overall communications strategy for this White House. The Press Secretary is the person who responds in real-time to the press, like kind of takes a lot of heat, but the White House Communications Director sets out a strategy, help shape the image, if you will of the White House. This is something that this White House has not been able to do because of these self-inflicted wounds. So I don't know who is going to come in and what to take the job as a White House Communications Director, OK. The qualified people don't want to be there.

CARPENTER: Jared.

TAPPER: Jared Kushner.

CARPENTER: He needs a new title.

TAPPER: He needs a new job. Perhaps you don't need to have top secret security clearance to be White House Communications Director. It's a helpful idea, Amanda Carpenter. I'm sure they appreciate it at the White House. CNN's Jeff Zeleny is at the White House right now. Jeff, tell us more. How is this playing? What are -- how are staffers reacting? JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This certainly is the latest as you all been saying in the waves of resignations. They've kind of gotten used to how to deal with sudden resignations here. We have lost track of the number of not only Communications Directors but Chief of Staff, senior advisers, members of the Cabinet and others. I mean, so the reality here is though Hope Hicks is someone different. Hope Hicks is in proximity the closest to the Oval Office. And just in you know, the role of her being adviser is the closest to this President. What this is, a reflection of, Jake, I talked on an aide who's in this building right here behind me who said this is an example of the pressure cooker that this west wing has become. It is an example of how complicated the job has become. She spent yesterday, as we've been talking about, you know, for some eight, nine hours on Capitol Hill. That is not exactly what she signed up for.

So it's the -- just the realization that this is far more about the President, far more about President Trump. At this point, it's about people's individual lives and futures and there are people making the decision that it's better to not be here even though they are supportive. She, of course, is very supportive of this President as are most people who leave. But Jake, I would say of all the resignations we've sat here and talked about on the north lawn, this is I would certainly say the biggest at least in terms of the President. How will he function on a day by day basis? She's the one out of the Oval Office. He says Hope, bring me this, Hope bring me that. To me, that is my question. How does the President do without someone this close to him? That something we'll have to keep an eye on. She's been a -- she's cooled his temper at some times, she's reasoned with him, this is a very big resignation today, Jake.

[16:50:49] TAPPER: It is. And Jeff, you and I remember with the early days of the Trump campaign in 2015 when it was basically just Donald Trump, Keith Schiller, his security guy, Corey Lewandowski, his Campaign Manager, and Hope Hicks. And that would pretty much be it quite often.

ZELENY: No doubt about it. In those early days, those earlier rallies in Iowa and New Hampshire, back when President Obama was in the White House, when the Trump Candidacy was largely viewed as something that was just happening and it would have a shelf life and expiration date well before those Iowa (INAUDIBLE), Hope Hicks was there and she was at the President's side. She helped shape him into the candidate he was or certainly you know, was at his side for all of that. So again, this is just a realization that this has gotten so much bigger with the Special Counsel, with the House and Senate Committees underway. But one person also told me just a couple of weeks ago, Jake, I'm just remembering it right now that the conversation that Hope Hicks had with Bob Mueller's team that lasted hours upon hours, that was something that actually weighed on her much more so I believe than the Capitol Hill testimony, so again an example. This is tough work and it is much harder than its early campaign rallies, Jake.

TAPPER: And Jeff, Kaitlan Collins, our colleague who works at the White House also for CNN reporting that Hicks first considered resigning several weeks ago during Rob Porter scandal. Obviously, she's been romantically linked with Rob Porter and led the initial defense of Rob Porter that they quickly had to walk away from when it became clear that there was at least photographic evidence and many on the record testimony that attests to Rob Porter being a domestic abuser.

ZELENY: Indeed, Jake. That was a critical period and it's one of the only times I can recall that the President at least privately we heard had some questions about Hope Hicks' judgment. She, of course, was having a relationship with Rob Porter and that appeared to color how the White House reacted to that. And that scandal, of course, had far-reaching effects. You can argue that that scandal actually has led to the whole situation of the security clearances and Jared Kushner.

TAPPER: Yes, absolutely.

ZELENY: So Hope Hicks is rolling that getting the White House Chief of Staff to come out and defend Rob Porter. Interesting that we had an on the record comment from the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly praising Hope Hicks. But Jake, the reality is behind the scenes, those two clash somewhat but it was that period potentially a lack of judgment. One of -- you know, again, the few times the President was asking about that and probably one of the few mistakes she made at least visible in terms of the Commutations Director. She was you know, compromised in this that certainly led to this. So as Kaitlan Collins, our colleague is reporting, she did consider it at the time. Again, the President certainly wanted Hope Hicks around but she came to this decision today and we're told she'll be leaving at some point in the coming weeks, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much. I want to go through the rise of Hope Hicks. Just to inform you all as to how indebted she has been with the Trump family. From 2012 to 2014, she met Ivanka Trump while working at a public relations firm and then she worked for Ivanka Trump's brand. In 2014, Hicks joined the Trump organization. The very next year she joined the Trump campaign as Press Secretary when the then Candidate Donald Trump started. When Trump was inaugurated, she joined the White House as Director of Strategic Communications. She was promoted to White House Communications Director last August after the Departure of Anthony Scaramucci. Let's talk about what this might mean for President Trump. First of all, on the law enforcement Mueller investigation front, what might this mean for Hope Hicks to no longer be in orbit? Does that necessarily have an impact on how somebody cooperates or shares information?

MUDD: Heck no. If she's been in conversation as we know she has been with the Mueller team, if she was truthful with that team, fine. If she went into that team and said something different in that conversation than, for example, she said during the Congressional conversation, she's in trouble regardless of whether you're a regular Joe citizen or whether you're a communications official at the White House. That's lying to a federal officer violation. I would like to say one thing before anybody attacks her, I hope she does great. She served the American people. I'm sure she served them as well as she could. I would say before people judge her, when you're in these positions, if you think it is a great White House position, I watched West Wing on T.V., I served for General Hayden, I served for George Tenet who was a great CIA Director, I serve four and a half years under Robert Mueller, regardless of what you think of the magnitude of these positions, I'd love to have that position, it is a great position in the White House. If life every day is difficult, if life is miserable, occasionally you'll look in the mirror and say do I really want to do this? I'm going to guess this is as much a personal decision as it is about what's happened with Mueller or the Congressional hearing yesterday. It's got to be tough.

[16:55:45] TAPPER: It has. And when you look at the list, the graphic we just put up a little bit ago, of all the people who had left the White House and look at this right now, look at his picture, we have there Reince Priebus, the former White House Chief of Staff, Sean Spicer, the former Press Secretary, Hope Hicks, the soon to be --

SANDERS: All the men who have left the White House.

TAPPER: -- or yes, former -- you guys is correct there -- and then also Steve Bannon was there too. So many departures looks like one of those departure chart that you have at the airport with the 300 airlines taking off for different cities. This is a tough job under the best of circumstances. And in the Trump White House, whether you want to blame it on the liberal media and the witch hunt of the Robert Mueller investigation, or the chaos created by a man who clearly thrives in chaos, Donald Trump, whoever you blame, this is a tough, tough job to do that job with President Trump.

SANDERS: Yes, it is a hard job. I would never sign up to a coms person for a principal like Donald Trump because I just -- I think the emotional attacks and personal attacks it would take him every single day is not a price I'm willing to pay. So it's a tough job to have but it is a job she did, in fact, sign up for. And today we found that she no longer wants to do it.

TAPPER: And Amanda, one of the things about her and I think I'm not speaking on this (INAUDIBLE) when I say this is -- she is someone who really believes in the goodness of Donald Trump and believes that he is unfairly characterized by the press and by his opponents who has unfairly maligned, and she really did, and I am assuming continues to until she leaves, work to bring out the best that is Donald Trump. If she put together that gun town hall that we saw at the White House last week which I think was very well received. It was interesting he listened to a lot of people. There are a lot of different kinds of voices there. That was interesting. She really did try to serve him the best she could.

CARPENTER: Yes, I do think there are a lot of people in the administration who do feel called to serve Trump in the name of serving the country, believe he can accomplish many good things if he has a little guidance. And I do -- you know, people who go into the administration with those goals in mind do deserve some credit. That said, I do think it is particularly difficult. The people in communications jobs who are front facing with the press, given that Donald Trump tells so many falsehoods on such a frequent basis to be in that position. I think it is far easier to go into the administration sort of burrow in, keep their heads down and accomplish goals below the radar than any of this front facing jobs, which is why you see so many people resigning from the Communications Director position or even declining to take it like in the case of Jason Miller.

SANDERS: Yes, Hope Hicks got tripped up the moment she started going on the record. If you'll know, she lasted this entire time. But once she became the White House Communications Director, she -- we saw a little bit more of her. She went on the record in terms of what was happening on Air Force One and talking about the meeting with Don Jr. So these are all things I think that eventually led to the demise from the White House if you will.

TAPPER: Demise, she's alive, she's alive. And she --

CARPENTER: And listen, there's a chance that -- listen, there are significant legal bills that go in terms of when you talk to Robert Mueller 0--

TAPPER: That's true. Yes.

CARPENTER: -- when you talk to the Hill, maybe she said, listen, I have to go but make money so I can pay these bills. That is a very legitimate thing if that happen to be the case. People that go into the administration, they'll all tell you they had to rack up you know, a quarter million, million dollars very quickly to just getting practical legal counsel. So let's reserve that possibility.

TAPPER: That happened a lot during the Clinton years actually. People who worked in the Bill Clinton White House ended up having a lot of legal bills because you're not -- you don't really -- I mean, we all think that we would, but you don't go into a meeting with FBI agents or Ken Starr or Robert Mueller or House investigators with the Intelligence Committee, you don't go there without a lawyer and you don't get to bring the White House Counsel. You have to have your own private attorney.

MUDD: That's true. Let me be clear here. I mean, I quit in 2010. I didn't retire. I get all these -- when I go to do a speech, somebody says, you know, he retired in 2010, that's not true. Occasionally, you do look in the mirror and say, I'm just not doing this anymore. It's too tough.

TAPPER: You're exhausted. That's it for THE LEAD. Thanks one and all for being here. I appreciate it and working with this on the breaking news. Over to Wolf Blitzer now in "THE SITUATION ROOM," he's got more on this. Thanks for watching.