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Interview with Representative Stephanie Murphy; John Kelly Says Things at White House Right Now are Pretty Good. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 1, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D), FLORIDA: There are a lot of commonsense gun safety measures that we can implement without violating an American's right to due process. And I think we have to work really hard together trying to find a way to keep dangerous battlefield weapons out of the hands of people who intend to do harm without violating law-abiding American citizen's right.

BERMAN: I think it's interesting that you're encouraged by the president's statements yesterday. Being encouraged is one thing but do you trust them?

MURPHY: You know, we all are public servants and so we have to take each other at our word. And he gave us his word that he's committed to seeing some commonsense gun safety measures advanced in this country. And I think it is incumbent on us as elected officials to enact on that.

BERMAN: It seems to me that you're choosing your language carefully. And I can understand that because you care about this and you want to see something done. I can understand not wanting to muck up the process by partisanship right now. But I will note, again, you are choosing your words very, very carefully.

A lot of what's happening may not be up to the government, right? We're seeing businesses begin to act. We saw Dick's Sporting Goods say they will no longer sell AR-15 style rifles at any of their stores and that they would -- stop selling guns to people under 21. Now Wal- Mart has done the same. Kroger came out with an announcement not unlike it this morning.

Do you see this as something that will spread in private industry?

MURPHY: I think we have reached a sea change moment because you are seeing corporations put people over profits, and I think it's well past time that elected officials put people over their politics.

This issue isn't a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. It's an American issue. It is a public health crisis. And so I think everybody, whether they're corporations or elected officials, need to do their part to keep Americans safe.

BERMAN: Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House right now, not to mention Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the Whip Steve Scalise, they've talked about the face that the House has passed gun control measures. The "Fix NICS" bill as it was. It was tied to the concealed carry reciprocity bill which the president says he doesn't want tied to anymore. But if Paul Ryan brought back the "Fix NICS" thing for a vote, an exclusive vote on just that subject, will you support that measure?

MURPHY: Yes, I would support "Fix NICS" because I think we do need to make changes to our system so that they're talking to each other, so that we can better identify through the federal, state and local level people who are potential hazards to our communities. And, you know, I don't think that we need to put poison pills into these bills. We need to just get on with it and start passing commonsense gun safety measures.

BERMAN: Representative Stephanie Murphy from Florida, thanks so much for being with us. Good luck in the days ahead.

MURPHY: Thank you. Thanks for having me on.

BERMAN: All right. A chaotic few days in the West Wing. So how does Chief of Staff John Kelly think things are going? He just told us moments ago. We'll bring you those remarks next.


[10:37:07] BERMAN: OK. The White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in the middle of a political firestorm, frankly for some time. It's been about a month of turmoil inside the White House. He's been right in the middle of it. This morning, the chief of staff is at an event honoring the 15th anniversary of the Department of Homeland Security and he made comments that frankly got a chuckle a few moments ago. Let's listen to what he said.


JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I miss every one of you every day. I went --


KELLY: Truly, six months, the last thing I wanted to do is walk away from one of the great honors of my life, being the secretary of Homeland Security, but I did something wrong and God punished me, I guess.


KELLY: But, you know, I've said --


BERMAN: "God punished me" is how the White House chief of staff explains how he ended up in the White House.

Joining me now, Margaret Talev, CNN political analyst, Michael Nutter, a CNN political contributor and Jack Kingston, CNN political commentator. Margaret, I want to start with you right there. Look, John Kelly

really is in the middle of it all right now. He was asked going into this event how he thinks things are in the White House this morning and his answer was, I think pretty good, too much work, too hard. We're all doing the Lord's work, though.

Pretty good? Is that the atmosphere that you get the sense is within the White House this morning?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, things are great. I mean, look, on the one hand, John Kelly knew what he was signing up for when he took this job. He didn't seek it out. He sort of said, no, a bunch of times until he couldn't say no anymore and he came in at a time of chaos and he got a honeymoon for a little while, and then things went back to where they were.

But when you look at where we are right now, you do have the accomplishment of the tax cut plan, you do have the theoretical prospect of the president actually breaking the mold on gun control, but you have an incredible amount of concern and fear and frustration because of the nature and place of the Mueller probe at this time. And because of the fallout of the Rob Porter scandal and the "Fire and Fury" book.

And that is what John Kelly has inherited as well as this real cultural falloff between the way the president's campaigned and family operated, open-door policy, you know, come in, say what you want to say, let's make some stuff happen, and the desire to kind of professionalize or I don't want to say normalize but go hugely a more traditional model of control.

And that has always been the tension, it certainly, certainly is exposed now with some of Jared Kushner's issues over security clearance.

BERMAN: So, Mayor Nutter, let's review the last 24 hours, if we can. And it will be difficult. Hope Hicks, the communications director, one of president's closest aides, announces she is leaving. The "Washington Post" reports that the special counsel is investigating events from last July when the president seemed to be trying to get Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, to resign.

[10:40:02] The president himself called the attorney general disgraceful and then "New York Times" reporting overnight that Jared Kushner held White House meetings with financial executives, then their firms lent the Kushner Companies more than $500 million. This morning, Chief of Staff John Kelly says things are going pretty good. I guess my question would be relative to what?

MICHAEL NUTTER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. With every respect to General Kelly, you know, I don't know what he's drinking in the morning, but, you know, we might want to check that out.

This is, John, a bit of a cross between a ship of incompetence and the "Caine Mutiny" being led by, you know, a paranoid megalomaniac president, Captain Queeg-like figure. That place is a mess. It is a total mess and has been pretty much from the start. 24 plus folks have left. Eight Cabinet secretaries under investigation or have been under investigation.

The Mueller investigation. A number of House and-or Senate investigations. And basically the president has no ability to really manage or govern because of all the stuff going on just with the regular government people, and then now family members caught up in their own individual messes, whether it's a security clearance being yanked, $500 million coming from, you know, meetings in the White House while your company is somehow doing business on the side.

He really needs to get a grip on what is going on and try to provide some leadership for this country.

BERMAN: Congressman Kingston, you know, we heard from Anthony Scaramucci, who was briefly the White House communications director for 10 minutes last -- 11 days, I was off by a few minutes, but not many. Anthony Scaramucci says that morale is low. We heard morale has never been this low inside the White House. Why?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm not sure that he actually knows. I can say this, there are a lot of people who want to work in the White House. I think there is a lot of excitement. These are very, very tough jobs. These are 18-hour a day jobs, they're not 12-hour a day, a lot of stress, a lot of strain. But what I would say and where I would disagree with Mayor Nutter, although he did quote my favorite book, "mutiny on the bounty," but --

BERMAN: "Caine Mutiny." Small point difference.

KINGSTON: OK. You're right. But I have read the book. It's a great book. Let me just say this, look what they're getting done. I mean, the economy is doing great. Unemployment at a 17-year low, consumer confidence, I think, is at a 16 or 17-year high. In terms of trade negotiations. Absolutely sitting down at the table with other countries for better trade agreements, getting judicial nominations through, passing the budget, which will include the wall and some form or the other. Interfacing with Congress in a very bold way on both DACA reform and on guns.

We haven't seen this kind of leadership and I served in Congress during 9/11, during the impeachment trials, during some other chaotic times, and I can tell you they are stressful. When you're getting things done in this town, it is very burn out, it is very chaotic, but I also served in Congress during some mundane times and you just didn't get much done. So I think when you're pedal to the metal the way this administration is, you're going to have some spin-off issues, and I think it's unfortunately the nature of Washington as much as anything else.

BERMAN: Well --

NUTTER: John --

BERMAN: Go ahead, Mayor. NUTTER: Yes, come on, Congressman. I mean, that was a nice try.

First of all, the Congress has done nothing on DACA. Nor has the president. They haven't done anything on guns. And to claim all of this --

KINGSTON: Well, technically --

NUTTER: Wait a minute, Congressman.


KINGSTON: Actually none of them call a bill in the House.

NUTTER: Wait. Congressman. Congressman, let me finish. That gets you a third of the way there. And claiming all of this credit for whether it's unemployment or the economy, you know, that would be like me tomorrow becoming head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and, you know, if they went to the Super Bowl next year claiming that I actually had something to do with it. President Obama handed Donald Trump the best economy in modern times and now he's just kind of hanging out.

KINGSTON: Mayor, that is absolutely not true. I actually have a degree in economics and all the --

NUTTER: So do I.

KINGSTON: -- the leading economists in the country will say this is because of the Trump deregulation. Certainly --

BERMAN: Well, hang on. Hang on.

KINGSTON: Obama --

BERMAN: Hang on one second. Hang on one second.

NUTTER: Come on.

BERMAN: Between the three of us -- between the three of us, we have two degrees in economics. So I'm going to trust you on this matter. Let's give credit to both presidents on the economy

NUTTER: That's right.

BERMAN: Margaret, the fact of the matter is that one issue the president has not talked about in the last day is the economy. Hasn't mentioned consumer confidence as far as I know. He hasn't mentioned appointing all the judges that Congressman Kingston was talking about. Instead he's called the attorney general disgraceful.

TALEV: Yes. What is happening right now with Jeff Sessions is a situation that I think a lot of people inside the White House were hoping they had moved beyond. Even the notion of flirting with removing Jeff Sessions at this point.

[10:45:02] And the rebuke, the very public rebuke on Twitter yesterday, inserting yourself into a situation that, you know, breaches that wall between the tradition of independence has completely predictably created a situation where the president has now been called out and created the situation of the optics of this amazing dinner last night.

So I don't know what's in the president's heart or what the president is going to do but I think Jeff Sessions as much as he can is pretty forcefully standing up for himself now and trying to send a very clear signal that he intends, if he's going to stay in that job, to actually do the job.

BERMAN: You know, Congressman Kingston, would you stand for this if you're Jeff Sessions? You know, if you had an administration job and the president called you disgraceful and bullied you like the way the president has bullied Jeff Sessions?

KINGSTON: I agree with Margaret that I think he's actually reacting in a proper way saying, heck no, I'm doing a damn good job and here's what I'm doing. I think, for example, one of the frustrations in Congress has been that he's not investigating some of the allegations that are coming out of the Mueller investigation, one of them is what actually went on in the FISA courts, I think that --

BERMAN: But he is. The irony is --

TALEV: He's investigating.

BERMAN: The irony is that that's exactly what he announced. That's what so upset the president.


KINGSTON: Yes. And so that's what I'm saying, we're getting a new, improved kind of a guy who's actually maybe in the eyes of many base conservatives is stepping up more. I mean, he's always -- he's been doing all kinds of good stuff that people don't really know about. And opioids would be one example. But, you know, and I tell you, like on the marijuana laws, that's a tricky area and he has boldly stepped in to the state enforcement. And --

BERMAN: Well --

KINGSTON: I mean, it's a difficult situation where you have states that have different laws in the federal government.

BERMAN: Let me just move on very quickly, Mayor Nutter. If I can --


NUTTER: The president is disrespectful to his own people.

BERMAN: Well, there is no question he called the attorney general disgraceful yesterday. It just happened.

Mayor Nutter, quickly on Jared Kushner, someone who he has never -- the president has never publicly rebuked in any way, you know, what do you think his standing is or what would you like to see happen, this "New York Times" story that he had meetings inside the White House with these financial executives and then these giant multi-hundred million dollar loans go to Kushner Companies?

NUTTER: Well, I mean, first of all, you can read the tea leaves from last week when asked about Jared Kushner's security clearance, the president suddenly said, I'm going to leave that to Chief of Staff Kelly. Well, I mean, you know that -- you know what decision is getting ready to be made. So he's been stripped of the top secret security clearance, he's having meetings with the White House with, you know, investment people, that's fine. But then suddenly gets, you know, $500 million in loans.

I mean, the president must recognize, A, there is some serious ethics issues at hand here and it is one of a million reasons why you generally should not hire your family members and certainly put them in huge jobs with great responsibility for which quite honestly -- I don't know him, but, you know, you can read people's backgrounds and see what they do, clearly unqualified to be in many of those positions and now has no security clearance. So, you know, I think that balloon is slowly leaking air.

BERMAN: All right. Mayor Nutter, Congressman Kingston, Senator Talev, thanks so much for being with us. Let's go watch the "Mutiny on the Bounty" right now. My favorite is the Marlon Brando version. Not the Mel Gibson or Charles Nordhoff version.

Houston Rockets star James Harden breaking ankles and subsequently breaking the Internet. This is one of the most amazing plays I have seen in years. We'll show it to you in the "Bleacher Report" next.


[10:53:00] BERMAN: A hopeful high school baseball player turned down by a Texas university because he comes from a state where recreational marijuana is legal.

Hines Ward has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Hines.

HINES WARD, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. I mean, this "Bleacher Report" brought to you by the new 2018 Ford F-150.

Now Gavin Bell is a high school player in Colorado hoping to play college baseball. Now he e-mailed a coach at Texas Western University to see if he would be recruited. This is the response he received from Coach Mike Jeffcoat.

"Thanks for the interest in our program. Unfortunately we are not recruiting players from the state of Colorado. In the past, players have had trouble passing our drug tests so we made a decision not to take a chance on student athletes from your state. You can thank your liberal politician. Best of luck wherever you decide to play ball."

Just crazy. That's wild. Now Bell was surprised to hear that his state's marijuana policy was keeping him from a scholarship.


GAVIN BELL, HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL PLAYER: That's not what I am about. I'm about playing baseball and getting good grades in school. Back then I wasn't even 18 to have any say with this and now this is being brought upon me.


WARD: Now the school released the statement that reads, in part, "The comments made are in no way a reflection of Texas Wesleyan University, its values and its recruiting practices."

Now the red hot Rockets beating the Clippers last night, 105-92 for their 14th straight win. Now Wesley Johnson's ankles may never be the same after this move by James Harden. Harden staring at Johnson for what seemed like an eternity before draining the three. Now The Beard saying afterward he crossed over Johnson so bad that he almost didn't know what to do.


JAMES HARDEN: I was looking at him, he was looking at me. And I just shot it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You look like you didn't want to shoot the three at first and then --

HARDEN: I was going to shoot it but I was trying to figure out what was going on. I was confused.


WARD: But, John, I can't help but feel bad for Wesley Johnson. But he will always be known as that guy.

[10:55:05] And John, you never want to be known as that guy that gets crossed over.

BERMAN: It was as if time stood still. It looks like a week.

WARD: Yes.

BERMAN: James Harden was standing there for a week before he shot.

WARD: Exactly.

BERMAN: Never seen anything like it.

Hines Ward, great to have you with us. Thank you so much.

WARD: No problem.

BERMAN: All right. This morning, there is turmoil in the West Wing, one of the president's key advisers is out. The attorney general is still in despite the president's insults. We're told the president, though, fuming this morning for a new reason at the attorney general. All the new developments next.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Erica Hill, in today for Kate Bolduan.