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President Trump Chaotic First Six Month; Heads Of Military Caught Off Guard By Trump's Ban; Potus Bars Transgender Americans From Military. Aired 11 - Midnight ET
Aired July 26, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[23:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of the hateful, foreign ideology.
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DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: But when it comes to protecting brave transgender citizens who risk their lives serving in America's armed forces, hey, you're on your own. President announcing today on twitter, of course, that he will not allow transgender individuals, quote to serve in any capacity in the military. Apparently leaving the Pentagon in the dark until the last minute and scrambling to figure out what to do now.
So, let get right to CNN Global Affairs Analyst David Rhode, Max Boot Senior fellow at a counsel of foreign relations and author of Invisible armies, and CNN Senior Economic Analyst Steven Moore, former Senior Economic advisor to the Trump campaign. We have a lot to talk about tonight. We've just passed President Trump six month in office, the six month mark. And you write this. You say Trump would have a lot more success if he acted a little more Presidential in the old- fashioned sense, but that is something he is evidently incapable of doing no matter how long he stays in office. So Max what pushed you to write those words this week and do you think the White House is in chaos?
MAX BOOT, COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN RELATIONS: It's pretty obvious the White House has been in chaos since day one and it remains that way. I wrote those words Don, in reaction to trump's incredibly inappropriate speech this week to the Boy Scouts. And remember how he began his presidency with an incredibly inappropriate speech to the CIA where he was delivering this campaign rhetoric in front of the wall honoring CIA officers who have died in the line of duty. People are saying that is just Trump beginning his presidency he doesn't know what he is doing, but he going to learn. It's six months in and he gave that incredibly inappropriate speech to the boy scouts, where he was trashing Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, he was bragging about his political victory. I mean this was just a terribly bad taste. This is not what the President of the United States should be saying to impressionable youngsters. That to me is an indication to the fact that he is basically un-teachable. In six months Trump is just as bad as he was when he began his presidency on January 20th. In some ways he is even gotten worse. He has gone, you could arguably crazy and more erratic in the last few weeks as he is felt the pressure of the Bob Mueller investigation. This is a very bad sign considering that we still have years to go in the Trump presidency. He is not improving despite six months of Trump in office.
LEMON: he certainly thinks he is presidential. He said it much in Ohio last night. Listen to this.
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TRUMP: With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln I can be more Presidential than any President that is ever held this office that I can tell you.
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LEMON: Steve, you worked on the Trump campaign. What does that even mean?
STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST, CNN: I'm not exactly sure, but it is very typical Trump. Let's face it. He does have a flam buoyant style and its lines like that actually his followers and voters really like. They like that about him. I would make this case that I agree that he has to act much more Presidential and I've been following his health care debate which obviously has become a bit of a fiasco for Republicans. If I make the case to the White House and to you Don that if Donald Trump had a 60 percent approval rating, I don't think Republicans would have this done. But it's hard to govern and you know as they said I've made this case to my friends at the White House. It's hard to govern this country with a 40 percent approval rating, because you just don't have the weight of the office behind you and you can't rally the party behind you. Trump needs to figure out a way that he can lure more people in to his movement.
LEMON: Can you say that again, please. Because as someone who work on the Trump campaign, it's very hard for some people to understand some of the Trump surrogates who come on. Can you please repeat that, Steve?
MOORE: Sorry, repeat what?
LEMON: You said - at the lower approval rating it's hard to get the government behind you.
MOORE: Yeah. You've got to have at least half the country behind you to be able to move a legislative agenda. Now look, Trump has had some important victories and it is not insignificant by the way today that today Don, the stock market hit an all time high, but in terms of legislative victories, there haven't been a whole lot. And as I said earlier that, I think one of the reasons that health care bill has not move is he doesn't have a very high approval rating. I've always had a great deal of admiration for Donald Trump. I've worked for him. I like the man quite a bit. I'm extremely troubled as you know I just listen to your previous conversation about what he is saying about Jeff Sessions, because in my opinion Donald Trump would not be President today if it were not for Jeff Sessions.
[23:05:02] LEMON: And the point of having you say that again is you have to -- he is the President of everyone and he has to start reaching out beyond his base and realizing that --
MOORE: I think he can do it. I think he can. I hope he does.
LEMON: It's not just the tweets. Gloria Borger and this is for you, David. Gloria Borger wrote this today about Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Steve just mentioned Jeff Sessions just imagine you are a key member of the President's cabinet. Maybe you were a completely loyal to him during the campaign, maybe you came around late in the game or maybe you are a political. Whatever your history you are on the thick of it now and you are in the job to serve the country, but as you watch the president publicly troll, trash and torment Attorney General Jeff Sessions every day, the man who was first to endorse him who gave up a 20-year senate career to serve. You have to understand this could happen to you." Why do you say this is an example of the President running the government like a real estate company?
DAVID ROHDE, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CNN: Because that is what he did for years as a private company. He sort of called the shots, this is completely different. The announcement today about transgender people, apparently Secretary Mattis was on vacation. He was blind side about this. There were reports in Politico last week that McMaster national Security Adviser is more and more isolated. Reports of Tillerson wanting to quit, Tillerson ran one of the largest countries in the world and I think this is taking a toll. He doesn't seem to have their backs. It is the public nature to humiliation. You know, President calls people in the oval office and rip their heads off. That is part of their authority and their job. It is just so unusual this is being done publicly.
LEMON: And not know -- you don't know about it.
ROHDE: These people are making -- they're devoting their lives and reputations to his presidency and Donald Trump has time to turn this around but I think it's taking a toll.
LEMON: I think he gave up a 20-year senate career to serve.
ROHDE: And you see it on The Hill too, I agree to what was said earlier that more and more Republicans on the hill are taking a step away.
LEMON: I want to play this Max and this is for you. this General Michael Hayden, he was on with me last night and this is what he said.
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MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER NSA DIRECTOR: This is probably the most important point. You have the President attacking his Attorney General. Because in the eyes of most people, the Attorney General did what was expected of him for the ethical demands of his profession. Now, Don, if I'm the Director of national intelligence, the Director of the central intelligence agency, I'm going to school on this episode. And trying to figure out what it means for me when I got to go in and tell the President something he definitely doesn't want to hear.
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LEMON: And again that was last night. Max, is General Hayden right? Is this management style sustainable?
BOOT: It's not sustainable. And General Hayden is absolutely right. What's happening with Jeff Sessions is appalling on so many levels and the least of them is the lack of personal considerations for a loyalist like Jeff Sessions. What really, really troubles me here is that Trump has no respect for the rule of law. He doesn't even recognize that there is a rule of law. We should have seen this coming, because he fired FBI Director Comey specifically to stop the Russia investigation. Now he wants to fire former FBI Director, Mueller to stop the Russia investigation and he is willing, apparently, to contemplate getting rid of Jeff Sessions, if that is what it will take to stop the Russia investigation.
Even though everybody admits that Jeff Sessions did absolutely the right thing by recusing himself from an investigation of the Trump campaign. Its clear what's going on is the only thing Trump believes in is personal loyalty. This is a carryover from his business career, where he valued personal loyalty. He has no notion that office holders like the Attorney General are supposed to be loyal above all to the constitution, to the rule of law and not to the President and they're not there to protect the President from the consequences of his own misconduct. And yet that seems to be Donald Trump making and that is what's revealed here. It's pretty obvious for a lot of us for quite a while now and I hope the rest of the country, including the supporters who are waking up to this. And I would hope they would make it clear to Trump whether he keeps Sessions in place or not, he could not get rid of special counsel, Mueller. He could not short circuit this investigation into his own campaign conduct. That is -- would be further obstruction of justice and further grounds for impeachment. Republican needs to make clear that he can't get away with this.
LEMON: I'm sorry our time is short. What do men and women actually serve in the military think of the ban on transgender troops? And we're going to speak to former officers who have pretty strong opinions and that is next.
[23:13:29] LEMON: President Trump shocking his own military commanders today with a series of tweets barring transgender people from serving their country in the military. Quote after consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical cost and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. That is what the president says, so this is the truth and this is from a 2016 rank operation study commissioned by the defense department and it says out of a 1.3 million member force, the number of transgender people in the military is between 1,320 and 6,630. The study estimated that treatment for transgender - treatment for gender transition could cost military up to $8.4 million annually. Meanwhile the military reportedly spends 41.6 million a year on Viagra and 22.8 million on Cialis.
So this is not about the cost of treatment. It's about politics. Appealing to the conservative base, the directive won't change who people are or were born to be. It's nothing but a return to the dark ages of don't ask, don't tell, but hasn't America move beyond that? Here to discuss now Lieutenant Commander Steven Rogers who was a senior military intelligence officer with the Navy, he was a member of trump's campaign committee, also with me, Senior Military Diplomatic Analyst Admiral John Kirby and military analyst Lt General Mark Hertling. Good evening. Thank you all for coming on. Thank you your service. General Hertling, the President tweeted this major policy change, apparently with little warning to the military and you and Admiral Kirby wrote an oped just tonight. And let me just read a bit of it, ok? "First of all it's an affront to the very ideals of the all volunteer force, the force we both joined and served in for a combined 68 years. The central tenant is that young men and women from across the spectrum of American society can choose to wear the cloth of the country in service to the nation." So General Hertling, why do you think the President decided to make such a big change right out of the blue?
[23:15:53] MARK HERTLING, RETIRED ARMY FORMER COMMANDING GENERAL: I don't know Don, to be honest with you. I mean there were probably several reasons for doing it, but it was confusing to both admiral Kirby and I as we talked about it today. We had a lot of discussions about military matters and this one just came out of the blue. We both knew that Secretary Mattis was actually studying this and about two or three weeks ago the secretary sent a letter, because he was suppose to have this complete by the first of July, he asked for a six-month extension. They wanted to study it more. And they said they had more input to provide and some more research. So this coming out today this morning truthfully floored both John Kirby and myself.
LEMON: And Admiral Kirby what about the argument that this hurts military cohesion?
JOHN KIRBY, MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST, CNN: I just don't buy that. I mean we've heard this before with racial integration in the military, with the roles of women and in don't ask, don't tell in recent years and it just doesn't bear out. I mean the young men and women of the military, they're a leap ahead of everybody these days and they're so sophisticated. They're so accepting and I just don't think that there's any legitimate argument to make for unit cohesion. If you take the upper estimate of 6,000 transgender in the military, those are 6,000 men and women with unique skills. They are doing incredible things for the military and why would your deprive yourself of that talent? It makes no sense at all.
LEMON: Commander Rogers, you served in the military for 25 years. You say the President is absolutely right. Why do you say that? STEVEN ROGERS, SENIOR MILITARY INTELLIGENCE OFFICER, U.S. NAVY: I
believe it has everything to do with combat readiness. You know Don, in December of 2015 President Obama, to his credit had opened up the doors for women to take combat roles and I asked myself the question why did it take so long? And you know what President Obama was concerned about? Combat readiness. A lot of questions need to be answered before you throw a policy into the military. The military is certainly not a place to experiment. What about bathroom facilities, showering facilities. In the navy we were talking about what bunks will they be in etc., etc. So when the President says he is concerned about the combat readiness, I believe that and we have cost factors that we have to consider. I don't think it has anything to do with the ability of transgender people to fight. I think it is a cultural change. We're seeing this all over the nation on all levels and once this change in the civilian society is accepted and we know it isn't and it should be, that is when we start --
LEMON: You don't think there are transgender people who serve with distinction in the military?
ROGERS: I'm sure they do. I would never say they don't. I don't know many who are in the military. But I would say this that the president decision I really truly believe as a result of his concern about combat readiness. That is so important, my colleague here in the air know that. I know that everyone in the military knows that.
LEMON: But just because you don't know them doesn't mean they don't exist?
ROGERS: No. And I think the President knows they exist.
LEMON: Admiral Kirby, is that right?
KIRBY: Look, Don. Let's remember, the policy of allowing transgender members to serve openly has been in place for about a year. There's been no detriment to the operations the military conducts all around the world. What we are talking about before this tweet storm this morning. It was simply a six month extension so the Secretary of Defense could study the recruiting aspect of transgender members. Not whether they could serve or not, just the recruiting aspect of it. And now we've gone from that to a leap ahead, to abandoning them all throughout service. I don't think there's any question that combat readiness is a factor here. They're serving now.
LEMON: General Hertling?
HERTLING: What I was going to say too. The commander mentioned something about waiting to see what happens before continuing on with this. What I'd comment in response to that is the military has always led in these types of issues. Whether it would be race, women, and homosexuals, in every single category the military has been asked to go force and prove that it works. It shows how people come into the military. I commanded basic training across the country when I was first promoted lieutenant general. Everybody says we're trying to make social change here. The truth of the matter is we make social change every day, we always have in the military. As on a as that young man or woman enters the service, they learn how to be part of the team, they learn how cohort with people and work together. And what I've seen in my 38 years in the military, what's interesting is all the minor stuff goes away and I would consider this a minor thing. We have people serving in the military right now who are transgender and they are serving exceeding well and there hasn't been that many indicators of any kind of morale issues or team issues related to this.
[23:26:09] ROGERS: I agree to the point that yes, the military has led the way in many things but this is not a policy change that has to be done overnight. The President is being very, very careful --
HERTLING: It hasn't been done overnight. It actually started last summer, last June.
ROGERS: This is a social experiment. This is a culture change and you don't throw a policy that is going to have a dramatic effect -- and when you talk about unit cohesiveness. I've learned one thing from marines is there is disruption and basic training today has become apologetic and you know that.
HERTLING: I don't know that in fact I would say -- I don't know that and I know basic training pretty dam well and what I would tell you is basic training today is harder and tougher than --
ROGERS: The drill sergeants today are concerned about offending people and when I was trained they could use every name in the book, tear me up, tear me down and they wanted you to learn from that.
HERTLING: That is not good leadership, actually.
ROGERS: Well no, it isn't, but those are the policies we were left with and these are the policies he is going to change.
KIRBY: Those are not the policies in the army. Positive leadership and using character and intellect --
ROGERS: After 25 years. My point is this. There are cultural changes across the board. Speak to some of the troops, the drill sergeants. You can laugh but the fact of the matter. --
KIRBY: In fact I was just at Fort Jackson last week. I'm with the troops all the time.
ROGERS: President Barack Obama did the right thing in waiting before all of these questions were answered. President Donald Trump is doing the same thing.
KIRBY: I beg to differ. He is not studying anything. He is just killing it.
ROGERS: How do you know he is doing it?
KIRBY: Without talking to the Secretary of Defense. They wanted to study this. They wanted to give it more time and they weren't even given that opportunity. He just outright killed it and don't talk to me about basic training, sir. My son just went through it in the navy. I can tell you it's just as rigorous, just as tough. Yes, there are more intellectual underpinnings that they have to go through, but I don't buy that argument.
ROGERS: And more sensitivity training. That is a waste of time. We need combat ready troops. The President of the United States I believe his motive is to do what's best for this country and best for the military. No other motive other than that.
KIRBY: Then why didn't he consult his Secretary of Defense?
HERTLING: Would it surprise you to learn that the army has been training for transgender for the last six months. This actually disrupted classes in terms of how to treat other people who are transgender. The military has been preparing for this since last June. It was supposed to be put into place in July and as admiral Kirby just said, the secretary asked for a six month delay, because they said they wanted to do a little bit more analysis of how people are being treated. That was the issue with the service chiefs. So now the President comes out without telling the Pentagon, completely shook the department of defense today when he made the announcement. They have to now take a look at how are you going to address this with how many -- we don't know how many numbers are in the force and say we're really sorry we gave you a contract and many of you have been serving for multiple years, but now the President has said you're banned. How do you deal with that on a personal standpoint? You might need a little bit of sensitivity training to address those kinds of issues with the soldiers who had been in combat who are transgender.
[23:25:03] LEMON: When I hear social experiment and I hear cultural change with all due respect, commander, we heard that about diversity in the military, about desegregation, about the military being segregated. We heard that about gays and lesbians. That is a social experiment. It is not a social experiment. This is America. And this is nothing to do with combat readiness. If a transgender person isn't up to the task, they won't be accepted just like anybody else.
ROGERS: It's a culture change. We are having this discussion regarding high schools students, the culture changes though.
KIRBY: It takes education, it takes time, it doesn't take just six months.
ROGERS: You have a President in office six months. This happened before the President was in office for six months.
KIRBY: And the ban's been lifted for over a year and there have been no incidents.
LEMON: Transgender people have been in the military since the military existence of this country. There are other countries who have transgender people in their military and if they're not seeing any harmful effects.
ROGERS: But after the President has discussed with his general, he concluded as commander and chief he had to take this action for combat readiness.
LEMON: He said it was because of the expenses.
ROGERS: As well, as well.
LEMON: That is not true.
ROGERS: It is true, Don. I talked to a transgender person just this morning and they talked to me about the costs. There's going to be an impact on a lot of things. There will be therapy, after healing of the physical and emotional wounds. Transgender people, they go through pretty much of a tough time, I think and I am not just saying--
LEMON: But so do our men and women who are heterosexual in the military.
ROGERS: We come from different parts of the country and there are people who still discriminate and still persecute.
LEMON: But that doesn't make it right. We shouldn't allow that to fester. Why are you allowing discrimination to fester just because someone else is uncomfortable with it, someone may be uncomfortable with my blackness in America but that doesn't make me less of an American or less fit to serve in the military if I choose to do so.
ROGERS: He is talking about combat readiness. It's not discrimination. It's costing money and time.
LEMON: But if a transgender person is not up to the task, they should not serve in the military. If they go to basic training and they cannot pass basic training, then they should not be allowed to serve in the military like everyone else, but the qualifications should not be on one's gender.
ROGERS: Don, it goes back to what the president said, he spoke to the experts. We weren't in the meeting room. He was. He is going by what he is --
LEMON: You just said the experts were caught off guard.
ROGERS: This is what they're saying.
KIRBY: This is what the Pentagon is saying.
ROGERS: Bottom line is he is the President of the United States. He made a decision and I believe and I know a lot of Americans believe that he did this in the best interest of the country and the military. And fellows, we're going to have to fall down on one side or the other. That is my side. Thank you for your service.
LEMON: Thank you all for your service. I appreciate it. When we come back, more on the President's ban on transgender troops and he certainly changes tune since the campaign and an all day debate today in the senate on health care. Did we get any closer to making it better for the American people? What do you think? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[23:32:28] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: So you just heard in a very interesting conversation and somewhat heated from our military men, what they had to say about the President's ban on transgender troops. Here to discuss more now, CNN Political Commentator Keith Boykin, a Democratic strategist, Margaret Hoover, Republican Consultant and Scott Jennings, a former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush. Thank you all for coming on. 69 years ago President Truman desegregated the military. And today President Trump did what he did, what is your reaction?
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That is the irony Don that Trump chose this day, this historic day when President Truman made his decision about integrating African Americans to the armed services. I wrote my first book about this the comparisons is that the exact same arguments, Don, that were used to justify discrimination is African American in the military had been recycled now, to justify discrimination against --
LEMON: Social experiment.
BOYKIN: Morality, religion, health issues, all those same things. They're recycling discredited arguments, racist arguments to justify (inaudible) policy.
LEMON: The President promised to help transgender community on the campaign trail, Scott. Here is what he said throughout the campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ask yourself who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community? Donald Trump with actions or Hillary Clinton with her words?
You leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is. People use the bathroom that they think is appropriate. There has been so little trouble.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if Caitlyn Jenner would walk in to Trump tower and want to use the bathroom, you would be fine with her using any bathroom she chooses?
TRUMP: That is correct. LGBT community, the gay community, the lesbian community they are so much in favor of what I've been saying. As your President I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And then in June last year tweeted, thank you to the LGBT community. I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and belief. The T in LGBT stands for transgender. How are the President's actions today fighting for the transgender community? It sounds like he is having trouble saying LGBT. I'm sure he had never said that before, but go on.
[23:25:06] SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm sure, I think in the days, you know following his decision, the White House is going to hear from a lot of people who heard the President's message and now wondering hey, you're not really following up on what you said. I would like to say and I am a military strategist, you had on the brightest military minds. I view these things through the prism of politics. I am a political analyst, I think these issues about transgender rights, in the military the transgender bathroom issue, I view it through the prism of what are the most defining political issues in our country right now and that is the chasm between how people view this things in urban America and rural America. Because today, I think the reaction is here and the reaction from say the people at the President's rally last night is well over here and I'm going to say there were probably a lot of Democrats that rally last night and he would say yeah, you made it right call. I think the military strategist should have a better perspective but as a political matter, we have to analyze these things through that lens but it helps explain so much about our politics.
LEMON: Quick answer.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's a lot of Republicans from rural districts that came out against the president policy and Orrin Hatch represents a lot of rural Utah's. He came out and said this is a bad policy. Senator Richard Shelby represents a lot of rural Alabamans. You have Texas going back in special session trying to pass a bathroom bill and a lot of rural Texans people are saying this is a bad policy.
LEMON: I know this is a passion of yours. I didn't want to be disrespectful because we have breaking news. This is breaking news and I'm just getting it in from my producers now. This is from Anthony Scaramucci. He just tweeted out that he is going to contact the FBI and the Justice Department about the leak of my financial disclosure and he tags Reince Priebus, is he sending a message to Reince Priebus. What is he saying here? Does anyone have any idea?
BOYKIN: I think this is hypocritical when Trump administration complaining about leaks when Trump made his political career off of leaks, against John Podesta, against Hillary Clinton. That was his bread and butter for the political campaign. Now all the sudden he wants to investigate the leaks going on. I think it's very troubling this pattern of hypocrisy that we see in the Trans in the military. We're going to continue to see it with this President.
LEMON: So here is what he said in light of the leak with my financial disclosure info which is a felony, I will be contacting the FBI and the Justice Department and he added #swamp and added Reince 45. And again so, that is the information and I am getting a little bit more on the story, Sorry it's breaking as we're getting it now, more information now. let me read this. This is from Ryan Lizza. He says in case there are any ambiguities in this tweet. I can confirm that Scaramucci wants the FBI to investigate Reince for leaking.
JENNINGS: This would be an unprecedented senior staffer on senior staffer violence you don't typically see in a White House setting like this. I don't want to comment. I would say this anybody who goes to work for the White House has to fill out a tremendous amount of very, very personal information. You answer a lot of personal questions and you should have some comfort and security in believing that your personal information isn't going to be publicized or leaked. I don't know where it is leaked or how it was leaked, but I will tell you this, those SF86, those documents, you answer a lot of personal questions and I am sure a lot of folks wouldn't want them leak and shouldn't have them leak.
HOOVER: Besides the fact the White House that you and I work for, were we both filled out SF86 forms and China has them, by the way, because all that intelligence has been breach. This would never have been ok in George W. Bush's White House, this idea that the Chief of Staff could be leaking private financial information about a communications Director. I mean that elevates the palace intrigue to a level that is so unhealthy and it means these guys aren't looking out for the country in the best interest of the American people. They're spending their time pulling knives at each other.
LEMON: Ryan is on the phone. Ryan Lizza is on the phone for us now. Ryan what can you tell us about this. You just tweeted -- can we put it back up? Ryan Lizza says "in case there's any ambiguity in his tweet, I can confirm that Scaramucci wants the FBI to investigate Reince for leaking." Go ahead Ryan, what do you know?
[23:40:09] RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think I'm saying anything that Scaramucci didn't say publicly, but I did talk to a senior White House official today, before that tweet was posted. This is what Anthony Scaramucci believes. I'm told that he wants the FBI to look into Reince, whether it is anything illegal that Reince Priebus did with respect to leaks of financial disclosure information. I'm so flabbergasted at this whole thing. I've never seen a White House where someone even privately calls the FBI on someone, but to tweet about it is astonishing. And remember last week Anthony Scaramucci was talking about how he and Reince Priebus were going to get along just well. And a lot of reporters, who know a little about this relationship, were sort of laughing about that because they had just been so at odds for the last six months.
LEMON: Can you talk about that more. Listen, I don't work NDC. And I know there's tension between the two, because Anthony Scaramucci believes that he should have gotten the position at the White House earlier on and he did and blamed Reince Priebus for torpedoing it.
LIZZA: That is right. He was essentially offered a job, public liaison. It never actually went through and he blamed Reince for blocking him at every turn. There was some talk that he would get another job, there is some talk that he would become ambassador to the OSCE, that didn't happen and before he became communications Director, basically what Scaramucci did, he tried to go directly to Trump, go around Reince to get a meeting with Trump, to figure out what was happening with his job. And he blamed Reince for canceling three scheduled meetings with the president before he eventually became communications Director. I actually reported that last week. So these guys have been at odds for six months with Scaramucci trying
to get a job in the administration and Reince blocking it and Scaramucci getting increasingly angry and he was very frustrated for that until he finally was able to convince Trump personally to hire him as Communications Director. But we basically have an all-out public war in the White House by two of Trump's most senior advisors.
LEMON: Listen I want to read this. This is a statement from the Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Flores. She says we have seen an astonishing increase in the number of leaks of classified national security information in recent months. We agree with Anthony that the staggering number of leaks is undermining the ability of our government to function and protect this country. Like the Attorney General has said whenever a case can be made we will seek to put some people in jail and we will aggressively pursue leak cases whenever or wherever they may lead and that is from DOJ spokeswoman. Listen, he is --
LIZZA: It's my understanding that statement came out because of Scaramucci going to the Justice Department on this issue. That is the back story of why Sarah took that statement.
LEMON: Wait a second, this is an accusation now? This is just an accusation. But the interesting thing we have to talk about here is that this administration has been talking about leaks so much and there are leaks, leaks, leaks and the people who have been leaked to have been saying the calls are coming from inside the house. So you may be prosecuting at some point your own people.
LIZZA: That is right. We should also say this is a really serious accusation and just as far as I understand these forms the SF 86 -- I don't know exactly what form he is talking about. But if it's a standard financial disclosure, a lot of this information becomes public anyway.
LEMON: How many people have access to this because a lot of this is online too, right?
LIZZA: That is right. The final version does go online. I don't know the law well enough to know if before that process happens if that is what the law says about that and maybe that is what Scaramucci is accusing him of here. It's not totally clear what the accusation is. We have this tweet by the communications Director tagging rights. We don't know exactly what he is accusing him of.
LEMON: Standby Ryan, some folks here want to get in.
JENNINGS: Hi Ryan, its Scott Jennings. I have a question about your reporting. Do you believe Mr. Scaramucci suspects Reince Priebus or do you think he believe he knows it was Reince Priebus? Do you have any inside suspects versus things he knows?
[23:45:04] LIZZA: That is a great question. I assume -- let's see. Does he know or -- I would say suspect. I don't know if he knows.
LEMON: That is a strong accusation against a Chief of Staff in the White House, don't you think? And to be tweeting this out, that is certainly indicates something.
HOOVER: I think it's interesting that there's a real rush on the Justice Department to show they can be strong and prosecute leaks. This is something Donald Trump has said we want a strong department of justice and for an embattled Attorney General proving he can be strong for the president of United States, maybe this is Jeff Sessions' opportunity to fall back into favor with his boss.
LEMON: And the financial disclosure forms are filed with the OGE and they're not classified, just so you know.
LIZZA: One of things we need to figure out is, is the accusation here about information that would eventually end up on a financial disclosure form and is that -- is there anything problematic about that?
LEMON: And the statement that I read from the DOJ spokesperson needs to clarify it's from the department of justice, was about national security leaks, not specifically about Reince Priebus but it shows how big a focus leaks continue to be for this administration going.
JENNINGS: Couple things, Ryan I would be interested in your perspective on.
LEMON: Wait, hold on. Ryan?
LIZZA: I was going to say to get out of the leads of the accusation. I mean the bigger thing is a lot of people have noted Anthony Scaramucci is very similar to Trump. He is been attacking someone in his administration that he is not happy with obviously, Jeff Sessions and we're seeing Scaramucci take a page out of Trump's play book and you know attacking the Chief of Staff at the White House. One thing is clear. I don't see any way that these two people, Scaramucci and Reince Priebus could actually continue working --
LEMON: To coexist together in the White House.
BOYKIN: I think the reality is that Trump has created this culture that everyone else is operating in. So when Scott says earlier this is unprecedented, it's not for the same reason Ryan points out. This is exactly what Donald Trump is doing. He is attacking his Attorney General publicly through twitter and now Scaramucci is attacking his boss essentially the White House Chief of Staff publicly through twitter.
LEMON: Here's what he said about his relationship with Reince Priebus very early on when he took this job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY SCARAMUCCI, TRUMP'S TRANSITION TEAM MEMBER: I have no problem working for Reince. The president said, I report to him directly. You're going to be very surprised about the relationship that I have with Reince and the closeness we're going to have in terms of working with the President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: One of the things that are believed to have upset Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus is that Anthony Scaramucci reports directly to the President. Doesn't report to either of them, go on.
LIZZA: That is unusual you have the Chief of Staff, you have a number of people at the top who don't report through the Chief of Staff, including Scaramucci. Trump has already added a new faction to a Trump already riddled with factions. I want to mentioned Don, I reported this earlier, Scaramucci had dinner with the President tonight and it consisted of Scaramucci, Sean Hannity, and Melania. So there's lot of intrigue in the White House today about that was all about and some folks from the rival camp sort of wondering what was going on there with Scaramucci taking Hannity and Bill Sean into dinner with the President, just another minor layer to the soap opera over there.
JENNINGS: Here are things we have to look for. Number one does the White House Chief of Staff issue his own statement? Number two, I think we have to hear from the White House counsel. He may have to make a statement about -- look he is the President's lawyer. What are the implications of one assistant to the President on one side of an investigation verses another assistant to the President. Can they even interact? If you and I were opposing each other like that, could we interact in our jobs? What are the legal implications in that? Over the next few hours, these are the kind of questions the White House would have to answers.
LEMON: If one of my colleagues accused me either I would have to respond myself or my place of employment would have to.
[23:50:07] HOOVER: This is just utterly appalling, because these individuals are appointed and serve at the pleasure of the President on behalf of the American people. They need to be doing the business of governing this country, of passing health care, of doing all of the things they were elected to do and not spending all of their time and energy pulling their knives out of each other. It is an utter waste of their time, of their appointment, of the American people's tax dollars. This is deplorable behavior at the highest levels of the White House government. These people would be fired immediately. George W. Bush the president that we had the pleasure of serving would never have tolerated this kind of dysfunction at the highest levels of the White House. This is utterly dysfunctional.
LEMON: Hold on a second, even if he believed it to be true, he should not be putting it out there on social media?
HOOVER: Yes, absolutely.
LEMON: A quick point.
BOYKIN: The same thing we were talking about earlier.
JENNINGS: I was going to say something about, when you go to work for the White House and you become a commissioned officer, a lot of people don't know you actually get sworn in. You take an oath of office. When I became the commissioned officer, I was sworn in by the White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card. I wondered who swore Mr. Scaramucci in. Was it the President? Was it the Vice President? Was it Reince? Not that that necessarily legally matters. I just wonder, you know, in their inner personal relationship if --
LEMON: Got it.
BOYKIN: I thought you were going to make a point what we were talking about in the green room, which is, Donald Trump came in selling himself as a business man, but in reality, he was never the traditional type of businessman. He ran a family business. He was not the President or CEO of a publicly traded company. He had no board of Directors to respond to, he had no shareholders to be accountable to and that is the way the White House is functioning, as though Donald Trump is running a family-owned business. It's almost like it's a criminal enterprise going on, the way that the President is behaving. And the staff people are behaving is not a professional businessman. Any CEO of any company would be ashamed of the behavior.
LEMON: As I said early this is an accusation, this is a very serious accusation. I think we need some clarification from Scaramucci and from the White House to put that out there. Very serious accusation against anyone especially the Chief of Staff, but just in case you're joining us, here's what we're talking about. The tweet sent out just moments ago from Anthony Scaramucci, the new Director of Communications at the White House and he wrote, in light of the leak of my financial disclosure information, which is a felony, I will be contacting the FBI, and the Justice Department. And then he added #swamp and Reince Priebus and Reince 45.
JENNINGS: Something else as a staffing matter you should consider, there are a number of people who work in the communications department that came in through the Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. So Scaramucci is now the boss of a bunch of people who may be loyal to Reince Priebus. Reince Priebus has his own staff in the West Wing. Scaramucci has a staff so tomorrow morning when they all show up for work, not only Scaramucci and Priebus, how do members interact with each other in the hallway, isn't that a little bit weird?
LEMON: Is there another interpretation of this tweet? Ryan Lizza, maybe he just wants Reince to be aware of it.
LIZZA: No, there's no other interpretation. I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that Anthony Scaramucci believes this, and that was exactly the intention when he tweeted this.
LEMON: Again, this White House has been particularly sensitive to leaks. And, you know, every White House leaks, but this one -- do you think the leaks in this White House have been unprecedented or are it just that the reactions to the leaks are unprecedented?
HOOVER: Yes because they are leaking against each other. They're spending all their time and energy leaking against each other. Try to one-up each other in front of the camera so the President sees them. They're not doing the work of the American people.
LEMON: Is that a failure on whose part?
HOOVER: Frankly, tone comes from the top. He is got it right. He said, look, Anthony Scaramucci is just doing what Donald Trump did to Jeff Sessions, right? He is kicking around somebody that he works with publicly, because that is the tone and tenor that the President has done. The President is allowing his staff to spend all their time in a circular firing squad instead of pointing out on an agenda that Donald Trump cares about for the American people. Your job is to be there. You say you're a commissioned officer. Being a commissioned officer to the President is the equivalent of being a one star general. If you're the assistant to the President, like Jared Kushner, he has the equivalent commission of a three-star general. That is really a significant responsibility in the West Wing. You are serving the American people. You are not there to serve your own political ambitions, your own -- to enhance your own profile. To do anything else other than serves the American people.
[23:55:03] LEMON: How do you think this will play out tomorrow especially with conservatives and supporters of the President?
JENNINGS: Right now, it feels like the people who strongly support President Trump are excited about the appointment of Scaramucci. So right now, I would say his word to the Trump base means a lot. I was going to say, you know, how is this going to affect tomorrow? Whatever they had planned for tomorrow, I don't know what they're doing tomorrow, whatever they had planned is now out the window.
LEMON: You say what?
HOOVER: Whatever was printed on the front page of the paper you get in the morning is obsolete now. This is what happens when, frankly, twitter is controlling the agenda of this presidency.
BOYKIN: This issue again playing to the base, at what point does the President become the President of the United States of America and not just the President of Trump America?
JENNINGS: He was asking about how people are going to react to this. Number one, it's not that many people who know who the White House communications Director is usually.
LEMON: That was our point.
JENNINGS: This person is a little more, higher profile. If you're a strong supporter of the President, you're part of the people who really follow this on a day-to-day basis. Most people I've talked to are in that world are excited about Scaramucci. They like his style, they like what he is doing. So I would say they are inclined to believe what he has to say.
LEMON: And the reason people know is because Scaramucci, he is been in front of the cameras and also because of the way it happened. That Sean Spicer resigned over that is such a big deal. Otherwise, who knows -- most people don't know who the communication Director is at the White House. Anthony Scaramucci talking more about how he feels about leaks and what he plans to do with leakers, watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCARAMUCCI: Tomorrow I'm going to have a meeting with the communications staff and say, hey, I don't like these leaks. We're going to stop the leaks. If we don't stop the leaks, I'm going to stop you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Evan Perez is our Justice Correspondent, he joins us now. Evan, what do you know about this story?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, that is the appearance on Hannity that Scaramucci was talking about leaks, that that is what prompted the -- his appearance on Hannity's show on Fox News is what prompted the Justice Department to issue that statement tonight, which is potentially endorsing his condemnation now for several months of Jeff Sessions pushing the idea that the FBI needs to crack down on leaks. So a lot of this is already happening. The President, as you know, has been very unsatisfied, and expressed his disappointment with Jeff Sessions. But he believes that Sessions has not been forceful enough on leaks. But I can tell you as one of the journalists who are covering the Justice Department and covering the Trump-Russia story, we all see it. We all can feel it that there's been a crackdown on leaks.
It's not gone unnoticed, certainly by the Attorney General, because he is been pushing it. What the President doesn't seem to understand is that a lot of the leaks are coming from elsewhere. They're coming from inside his own building, from inside the West Wing, from inside the White House complex. Like tonight, for instance, Scaramucci is tweeting about the -- what he says is a leak of his financial disclosure. That actually is not classified information. It's not classified information of a leak, information that is filed with the office of government ethics. And that is not compromised. There's a lot of mixing up of what is happening here. Everybody's calling it leaks. And not really differentiating from what is a real classified leak and what is a national security issue from just gossip, which is what happens in Washington.
LEMON: Is this to sort of -- is this to send a message, because you're saying this is not classified information, a lot of this can be found online, is this to change really the narrative and to get people maybe in the White House to understand, or to frighten people in the White House possibly, Evan?
PEREZ: Absolutely. I mean, this is -- look, a lot of what we've learned in the past six months, Don, about this Trump-Russia story has happened because people have come forward to tell journalists what is happening. We would never have known what happened in the meeting with Don Jr. and Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort if it wasn't for the fact that people came forward.
LEMON: Right. I think people understand that. But why mention Reince Priebus then in the tweet? PEREZ: They're trying to scare people. They're trying to get people
to shut up, because the only thing that they believe is going to put some order to the White House. The problem is that a lot of this disorder is coming from the top, from the President.
LEMON: Go on.
HOOVER: I think what we're seeing here is, Anthony Scaramucci, like Scott said has come in really and been very well received, both by the Trump base, and by the President, and by a core group of supporters in the White House. I think what he is doing right now, Anthony Scaramucci, is he is leveraging his capital, to maybe clear the way so that he can be more effective in his job.