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Role of Bill Shine Rises as John Kelly's Diminishes at White House; Journalists Unite After White House Bans CNN Reporter from Event; Max Boot: Trump Would Not Have Won Election without Russian Help; Trump Administration to Miss Deadline to Reunite Immigrant Families. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 26, 2018 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. A big development in the investigation into the president's long-time fixer, former lawyer, Michael Cohen. We're now getting word that the man in charge of the Trump Organization's finances has been subpoenaed by the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York.

Plus, the former FOX executive, Bill Shine, on the rise over at the White House amid reports of the shrinking role of the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. We're getting new details on the West Wing dynamic.


[13:35:02] BLITZER: The White House chief of staff, General John Kelly, was supposed to bring order to a chaotic West Wing, but Kelly has been marginalized as he nears his one-year anniversary on the job. He no longer enjoys the respect he once did, according to multiple sources. Kelly's stature has diminished, though the influence of other staffers in the West Wing is clearly rising.

Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, and CNN political analyst, April Ryan.

Give us a sense, Jeff, of Kelly's role right now because we certainly don't see him all that often or hear from him often.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He's still on the job at 363 days. That's pretty remarkable in this White House, almost a year. On Saturday, he hits that one-year mark.

But so much has changed in his role. He came in, in a very chaotic West Wing. He brought discipline in. He did for a time, no question. He was trying to control who was seeing the president, who was talking to the president. Bit by bit, month by month, that has slipped away. We have a news story on this afternoon that our team has been reporting for several days, hitting this one-year anniversary. It shows his sweeping authority that he had has really slipped into a shadow-like role. There's a new emergence of someone who's just arrived, Bill Shine, the former FOX News executive, who's really at the president's side most of the time. He's playing a leading role in this, not replacing John Kelly, but certainly a fresh face. John Kelly has run into some headwinds, particularly from Ivanka Trump

and Jared Kushner. They've been at odds for a while. The question is, how long will he stay in his role. All of our reporting is indicating not incredibly long, but perhaps up until the fall elections. But that decision is left to the president, and he has not yet made it. He's not yet told John Kelly what that position is. But all the talk of is he going to be fired, that's out the window now. One official told me, if that was going to happen, it would have happened already. Right now, the president looking for a replacement but not in an urgent need to do so.

BLITZER: What are you hearing, April?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: My Republican sources are telling me that folks in the White House have told John Kelly it's time for him to go. John Kelly says, I'm not leaving, the president is going to have to make me go. Leading up into this one-year anniversary Saturday.

And I remember -- in my new book that I'm writing that's coming out in September, I talk about how John Kelly agonized about going over to the White House from Homeland Security, and how he went to his son's grave site at Arlington National Cemetery and stood there with the former Homeland Security head, Jeh Johnson. Jeh Johnson wanted him to take the position as chief of staff. Well, first, as Homeland Security head, but then he moved over to chief of staff. He agonized about this position.

What's crazy about this is that John Kelly did bring a sense of decorum, a sense of peace and civility and statesmanship for a moment. And now the president doesn't seem to like that. It all depends on who the president feels is leading him in the path that he wants to go. Kelly was too much of a military force. He was regimented. The president is not someone who's regimented. He cannot handle this.

BLITZER: I want to get your opinion from both of you because you're both White House correspondents, on Kaitlan Collins, one of our White House correspondents, yesterday. She was a pool reporter representing the five television networks at an event in the Oval Office. ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and CNN, she was representing all of the networks. At the end of the event, very politely -- she didn't interrupt the president while he was speaking with the European Commission president. At the end, she did what all political reporters do, ask a question or two. That's the president's right, he can answer or not answer. This particular time, he decided not to answer. Although, you saw he was irritated by the nature of the question, sensitive subjects involving Michael Cohen, for example. That was that. She was then called in by Bill Shine, the deputy White House chief of staff, the former FOX News executive, and Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, and told she was not allowed to go to an open event in the Rose Garden later that afternoon, that the president had just organized with the European Commission president.

That's really unheard of. I spent seven years as a White House correspondent. If you're an accredited White House correspondent, you're allowed to go to an open event like that. (CROSSTALK)

ZELENY: And this was not out of the ordinary at all, except the banning of her from that event. She was asking questions, news of the day questions. Of course, the president decided not to answer. He often decides to answer. Some of the aides, the shouting you often hear, the shouting is from the aides saying, thank you, thank you, trying to move reporters out. The president is often interested in answering the questions. Yesterday, he was not. But clearly, the topic of Michael Cohen was something that set him off, so they tried to ban her from this. I asked the same questions of the president at the Rose Garden event. He didn't answer either. The thought of banning someone has backfired on this White House.

[13:40:05] RYAN: A credentialed media person.

BLITZER: Let me play this clip of Bill Shine, the deputy chief of staff, in charge of communications, a former FOX News executive, he was asked about this earlier today. Watch this.



BILL SHINE, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: Did you ask her if we ever used the word "ban?" I've seen it on lower thirds.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What word did you say, Bill?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What word would you use?

SHINE: When you ask her if we ever use the word "ban," then I will answer that question.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What's the word you would use?

SHINE: If you ask her -- focus now. You ask her if we ever used the word "ban."


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why don't you tell us what you said?

SHINE: Have a great day.



BLITZER: So that's a silly answer. He's saying, did you use the word "ban?" What is it, prohibit, prevent, order her not to be allowed in.

RYAN: Is she allowed in? No.


BLITZER: She was told she could not attend.


BLITZER: Whether or not the use of the word "ban" is irrelevant.

RYAN: They play these word games to try to insult our intelligence. The bottom line, Kaitlan is not allowed in. I'm trying not to be angry about this because I've been on this job for 21 years. Wolf, we were together at the White House during the Clinton years. What you do is when you bring the press into an open availability, and the president is there, we are allowed to lob questions at the president. You don't just have us come just to see. Sometimes we lob questions. And you cannot, at this moment in history, in time, think that we're not going to ask. You don't have to answer.


RYAN: Do not think we're not going to ask a question.

What's curious to me is, one, Bill Shine was in that room standing. A picture was posted on Twitter how Bill Shine was standing there in a very intimidating manner in the door. That's one thing right there. Intimidation. There's always some kind of retaliation. This is over the top. I'm thinking about this, because this is strategic what they did. Kaitlan was in that room, the last press briefing, asking strategic and good, tough questions that needed to be answered.

BLITZER: Very politely.

RYAN: Very politely --


BLITZER: Didn't interrupt the president.

RYAN: Right. But I'm talking about in the briefing room. Then they didn't bother her there. Then CNN had that exclusive with those Cohen/Trump tapes. They were angry. They were angry. Now this. There's retaliation. This administration doesn't look good. This president was sworn in, taking the oath of office to support the Constitution. In the very First Amendment, it's freedom of the press. He is violating his oath. This is just -- this is not good.

ZELENY: Kaitlan conducted herself extremely professionally.

BLITZER: She was extremely polite -


RYAN: Great question.

ZELENY: She went on and covered the news --

RYAN: Great question.

ZELENY: -- as we will without fear or favor. BLITZER: It's one thing to interrupt and to heckle. She didn't do

any of that.


BLITZER: She waited until the president completed all of his statements. It was over with. It's been going on for years and years, reporters then have an opportunity --

ZELENY: Donald Trump likes to talk.

BLITZER: Very often he answers those questions. This time he decided not to.

RYAN: And he's also upset that Mrs. Trump is watching CNN. That all plays into this. It's the truth.

BLITZER: I'm still waiting -- might be a long time -- for Bill Shine, Sarah Sanders, to call up Kaitlan and formally apologize --


BLITZER: -- for the way they treated her --


BLITZER: -- which was very disgusting.

BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much.

One conservative out with a new provocative argument. He says, quote, "Without Russia, Trump would not have won." That's Max Boot. Take a look. He's standing by live. We'll discuss his take, his reasons when we come back.


[13:47:55] BLITZER: Could President Trump have won the election without the help of Russia? A new provocative piece from a well-known conservative says most likely, no, he couldn't have.

In his latest piece, Max Boot points to Trump's incredibly slim margin of victory in three key battleground states, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the three states that essentially won Trump the White House, gave him enough electoral votes to capture the White House. Now compare that to Russia's enormous social media campaign on sites like Twitter and Facebook, reaching more than 125 million people in all. Could that campaign have swayed just enough votes to make a difference?

Max Boot is behind this new piece raising these points. He's joining us right now.

So explain your argument that these three states basically went for Trump with the help of Russia. MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANAYST: Well, thank you for putting the

graphic up, Wolf, emphasizing how close that election was. Fewer than 80,000 votes in three states. A lot of things certainly contributed to the outcome. I'm not saying Russia was the only thing that contributed to Trump's victory, but it was a significant factor. You have to look at how extensive the Russian campaign was. It wasn't just the social media hitting 126 million people on Facebook alone, as the graphic showed. It was also the hacking of voter rolls. And the most significant part was stealing Democratic e-mails and releasing them through WikiLeaks. One statistic for you, Wolf, in the last month of the campaign, Donald Trump mentioned WikiLeaks 164 times, more than five times a day. He said, "Boy, I love WikiLeaks." He said, "WikiLeaks has really done a job on her, hasn't it?" That's what he was saying at the time. He was making use of these WikiLeaks revelations, which fed into his own campaign narrative and knocked Hillary Clinton off her game. And now Trump will have you believe that that had no impact whatsoever on the outcome. That just beggers believe.

BLITZER: Which raises the question of collusion. Because you have a separate argument on collusion. The president said there's no collusion, no proof of collusion. And his supporters say that. You say?

[13:50:00] BOOT: There's growing evidence of collusion. You certainly can't prove it. At the moment, that's up to Robert Mueller. There's a lot of evidence of collusion in plain sight, and there's been more developed in the last few months --

BLITZER: Give us an example.

BOOT: -- because of the work of Robert Mueller.

For example, we know, in his recent indictment of the 12 military intelligence officers who hacked into the Democratic e-mails, we know that they began hacking Hillary Clinton's e-mails the very day that Donald Trump invited them to do so. He said, "Russia, if you're listening." That indictment also revealed that the Russians stole data analytics from the Democratic Party in September of 2016. A few weeks later, the Trump campaign reoriented it campaign based on what they said was a new data-driven strategy. So that leads to suspicions that the Russians fed the Democratic data analytics to the Trump campaign.

And even in the Carter Page surveillance warrant that was just released recently, there was further evidence in there about how the Russians were conspiring with Carter Page when he was a Clinton foreign policy adviser. So there's copious evidence of collusion.

BLITZER: And, as you point out, the three states, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, when he won by about 80,000 in all three --

BOOT: Right.

BLITZER: -- of those states. We showed the numbers on the screen. Thanks so much for that analysis --

BOOT: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: -- Max Boot.

There's a big development, meanwhile, in the investigation of the president's fixer, Michael Cohen. We're now getting word that the man in charge of the Trump Organization's finances for many, many years has been subpoenaed as a witness to testify before a grand jury.

Also, the breaking news, the Special Counsel Robert Mueller looking at the president's tweets for evidence of obstruction of justice. New information coming in.


[13:56:26] BLITZER: A deadline the Trump administration will miss again. A federal judge ordered by 6:00 p.m. Eastern today hundreds of eligible families separated at the southern border should be reunited. That is not the case for more than 900 parents. Some of the reasons, the government deemed them dangerous or they may not even be in the United States any longer.

Joining us now from Capitol Hill is Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining us.

What's your reaction to another missed deadline?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL, (D), WASHINGTON: It's absolutely outrageous. The government has continued to try to expand the pool of parents that they say is ineligible. Last week, when we had a closed-door briefing, we heard there were 180 parents deported. Today, we're hearing it's 463, plus almost over 1,000 parents they deem ineligible.

But the stories are troubling, Wolf. They are coming out saying these families did not even get consent forms to sign to say that they were going to voluntarily give up their children. We don't believe these parents have given up their children, that they knew what they were doing. Now, once again, the court is stepping in and saying, first of all, you can't deport people. It may be too late. We have so many deported. On top of that, the court is saying you must continue to reunify the families.

I went to the border. I just came back from the border. I led a trip with Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, of the Women's Working Group on Immigration, that I co-chair, six other members of Congress as well as Lucille and I, and we say that family separations is still happening. Kids are in cages. If you're over 10, you're separated from your parents. We also heard from children who told us that the government agents had told this 8-year-old girl that she had been abandoned by her mother and she would never see her mother again, at least until she was 18 years old. Can you imagine, as a parent, what that means, and as a child? It was outrageous. I think these people are victims of state-sponsored, government-sponsored violence, and I'm ashamed of our government.

BLITZER: The government acknowledges they didn't even know where some of the parents are. The kids are here. They're young kids. Some of these parents clearly have been deported. Their kids remain in the United States. How is all this possible?

JAYAPAL: It is so unbelievable. When we talked to HHS and to DHS and to ICE, a couple things. One, they had no plan in place. They planned to do this and thought they could get away with it without anybody paying attention. Number two, they have no plan to reunite the families right now. By the way, this is being done at enormous taxpayer expense. The just has said now the government has to pay the expenses of trying to reunite the families. Number three, the fact that they are not immediately trying to do something to say we are sorry to these families. I, frankly, think every one of these people should be given what we call victim visas because they are the victim of state-sponsored kidnapping and child abuse. That's what the Pediatrics Association says. It's true. The trauma we've done to these kids is just crazy. It's beyond politics, Wolf. It's about right and wrong. Kids in cages and separating families is just wrong, no matter what side of the aisle you're on.

BLITZER: Just hard to believe this is still going on. They haven't figured it out yet. That it's still happening here in the United States.

Congresswoman, thank you for joining us.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: I'll be back at 5:00 p.m. Eastern in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

In the meantime, the news continues right now.

[14:00:11] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Wolf.

Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Brooke Baldwin.