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Soon: Kushner To Make Statement After Senate Intel Meeting; Scaramucci: Election Meddling Is "Too Amateur" To Blame The Russians, Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 24, 2017 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: That source, flies around in Air Force one.


KING: Remind you, we're standing by. That's just outside the West Wing at the White House. You see the marine at the door. The podium set up there for Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law. He's on his way back to the White House from Capitol Hill. He's just given question and answer session with the Senate Intelligence Committee staff.

We are told he will make a rare public statement. We're going to keep our eye right there as we continue the conversation here about related issues.

Forget that ironclad conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community or the certainty voice by every leading member of Congress. The new White House communications chief, Anthony Scaramucci disclosed just yesterday to CNN's Jake Tapper that he has a secret source.

All those hacks and other election meddling, well, this big source says, it was too amateur to have been orchestrated by the Kremlin.


ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Somebody said to me yesterday, I won't tell you who, that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those, those e-mails, you would have never seen it. You would have never had any evidence of them. Meaning that they're super confidence in their deception skills in hacking.


[12:35:09] KING: Wow. Oh, never mind.


SCARAMUCCI: How about it was the president, Jake?


SCARAMUCCI: I talked to him yesterday. He called me from Air Force One and he basically said to me, hey, you know, this is -- maybe they did it, maybe they didn't do it.


KING: Today is Mr. Scaramucci's first full day so maybe we can help. These guys run the big U.S. intelligence agencies and the first two hand-picked political appointees by the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.


MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: I am confident that the Russians meddled in this election as is the entire intelligence community.

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: There is no descent and I stated that publicly. And I stated that to the president.

ADM. MIKE ROGERS, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY DIRECTOR: No doubt at all and I stand behind the intelligence. The intelligence community assessment that we produced in January.


KING: Why?


KING: I mean, just, why? Look, I understand, he has an audience of one especially in these early days. I'm not going to be contrarian and say maybe he's going to use this platform, maybe this early appearances to impress the president. I'm out there fighting for you Mr. President, (INAUDIBLE) the Oval Office and say, Mr. President, I need you to dial back this, I need you to do this differently.

I'm going to hold out hope and see that that happens. However, why? Why would you enable the president's refusal to say, Russia did it, period? When, again -- you know, Mike Pompeo is a Trump guy, Dan Coats is a Trump guy. Admiral Rogers has worn the uniform for decades. They say there's no "if" here?

LAURA MECKLER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, (INAUDIBLE) why would he do that. I mean, he was just named to the job presumably because he was willing to go out and say things like that. So I don't know it's all that puzzling.

I mean, he was chosen by the president, not the chief of staff, and presumably it was because he was willing to say this sort of thing, right

MICHAEL BENDER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: And Anthony Scaramucci is definitely confident in his own abilities. And you're right John, we'll give him some time to see if that plays out and that can affect this White House. The fact is he's a brand new to government, coming in from business, and he's going to have the same problems that Kushner and that Donald Trump has seen as well here.

You know, he's made his mark. He's made his sort of first mandate here to get rid of the leakers. You saw on the Jake Tapper show, he just blurted out what he and the president talked about on Air Force One. To say nothing of what we saw all day long on Sunday of the mixed messages coming from his shop, including him. I mean, he was asked about the Russia sanctions bill, say the president wasn't ready to sign it.

Almost the same time Sarah Sanders was just saying that the White House favors it. You know that -- and there are several examples of this throughout the day.

KING: And that -- I was going to get to that early in program and the chaos on Capitol Hill took time away from us. That's important though. There was as -- whether -- you know, you could say, Anthony Scaramucci not fully up to speed yet. He said he wasn't sure, he would have to talk to the president.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president will sign a very important bill. He may have no choice in the sense that Congress is going to pass a sanctions bill this week. Looks like overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate, veto approved majorities in the House and the Senate. The president could have picked this fight.

It appears, we'll see if the story changes. Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggesting he will sign it. On that issue of leaks, the president just complained repeatedly about leaks and a lot of times the Team Trump has suggested they come from holdovers or they come from people in that so-called deep state. People out in the agencies.

A lot of leaks come from people who work for the president. Anthony Scaramucci seems to understand that. Listen to this about day one on the job today.


SCARAMUCCI: (INAUDIBLE) a meeting with the communications staff and say, hey, I don't like these leaks. And so we're going to stop the leaks. If we don't stop the leaks I'm going to stop you. It's just really that simple.

JOHN DICKERSON, FACE THE NATION HOST: What happens to leakers on your watch?

SCARAMUCCI: They're going to get fired. We're as strong as our weakest leak. So if you guys want to keep leaking, why don't you guys all get together and make a decision as a team that you're going to stop leaking. But if you're going to keep leaking, I'm going to fire everybody. It's just very binary.


KING: That is his right and it's one of the reason that president brought him up. But again, we are six months and a week into this administration.

Yes, they've done some things through executive power. Yes, the economy is going at a pretty good pace but no ObamaCare repeal and replace. Tax reform is nowhere, at least sitting at the starting line. Infrastructure, and you still have an administration that appears to be trying to figure out how to manage itself.


MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: One, I'm curious to know whether Anthony Scaramucci spoke with the president on full record or on background because he certainly give away the source.

Look you know, he spent the weekend, you know, walking back some of his earlier criticism of the president from during the campaign. And he did that because he clearly is now working for the president. But I think he's about to find out that that awkwardness is going to be nothing compared to how impossible this job is to be a spokesperson for the president.

The president is constantly off message. He's constantly veering from one thing to another and sometimes even erratic and, you know, going back and forth in what he wants, and what he's expressing.

[12:50:00] So what he has faced this weekend in trying to explain his earlier criticism of the president is not going to be anything. And I think the Jeff Sessions thing was a perfect example that as the president said today that the attorney general is beleaguered.

Remember, a couple of days ago, Sarah Huckabee Sanders went out there and told the press, look, the president clearly has confidence in the A.G. These two things do not go hand in hand.

BACON: I'm not sure if Scaramucci was lying or clueless, but the idea that leaks are from (INAUDIBLE) so he can fire very easily. It's probably a misunderstanding of where the leaks are coming from.

The leaks are from senior staffers fighting with each other, fighting over the agenda. And he's not closing that down because the leaks are symptom of a larger problem as the White House is divided internally.

MECKLER: You know, one thing that President Trump and President Obama have in common, not a lot in common. One thing they have in common when things weren't going well, blaming the communications. That's the problem.

As how we're talking about is the leak. It's the messaging. As opposed to the actual policy itself, or actually in the case of --

BACON: Lack of policy.

MECKLER: -- Trump's lack of policy or the congressional investigation. I mean, this is not a communications problem primarily.

KING: And consistency in the sense that the president -- candidate Trump then President Trump, President-elect Trump (INAUDIBLE) no contacts, so no contacts. Jared Kushner who we're waiting to speak at that podium, just told Congress, yes, I had some contacts. Now he says, there's nothing wrong but contacts but they were contacts. They were contacts and if there is something wrong with them, they can put this behind them weeks and months ago, and that goes for several other people too including the attorney general's meetings with Russians.

Another issue, he last out the leakers. He said he had a secret source that turned out to be the president. Who said that, you know, I still don't believe that the Russians did this even though just about everybody else who breathes believes the Russians did this.

And then on mixed message on the question. Last week, the president was tweeting about I have power to pardon. And everyone said, what is this rumination? What is he thinking about? Again, in the context of the Russia meddling investigation.

So, is the president actively considering pardoning somebody? Here's one of his attorneys and Mr. Scaramucci.


JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: We have not and continued to not have conversations with the president of the United States regarding pardons. Pardons have not been discussed and pardons are not on the table.

SCARAMUCCI: I'm in the Oval Office of the president last week, we're talking about that. He says he brought that up, he said, but he doesn't have to be pardoned. There's nobody around him that has to be pardoned.


KING: Depends on your definition of "we."

BACON: It looked like (INAUDIBLE) was good for us. If only he (INAUDIBLE) because he seems to be blurting out everything he tells -- that he and the president talked about. I mean, we are learning things we didn't know.

The White House has denied this issue of pardons. Anthony is like, no, no, no. We discussed it. (INAUDIBLE) Useful thing to think about. And this guy seem at this point as right now to be so eager to brag about his contacts with the president, and he's sort of like reading out his conversations.

KING: But one of the things that was troubling and I don't think you can put the idea that he considered the president, the president told him still, maybe when it comes to the issue of Russia meddling. If you work for the president of the United States you want to help him through that. You don't want to enable that because look at every -- again, every intelligence agency, every leading member of Congress, people appointed by President Trump who have access to this intelligence believe it to be true.

The other was in his debut performance at the White House last Friday, he was asked, does he agree with the president that the president would have won the popular vote if there were for 3 million to 5 million undocumented in this country illegally voting?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- 3 million people voted illegally and --

SCARAMUCCI: OK. So, if the president says it, OK, let me do more research. My guess is that there's probably some level of truth to that.


KING: I mean, if you say 3 million to 5 million and you can find a couple thousands, there's some level of truth to that. But again, why?

BENDER: Yes, this is the -- he's speaking from the White House here. This is the podium. He's speaking for the White House, for the president here. And it's going to come back here quickly that this is not, you know, this sort of -- the sort of P.R. that Anthony is used to and he's going to have to -- he's responsible for what he says here.

And if the issues at the White House, leaking is one of them. Among -- but a bigger one I believe is credibility and Anthony, I'm not sure he did much to sort of solve that this weekend.

KING: We'll give him some time to get settled. This is his first full day at the White House. We'll see if things change going forward.

Again, we're showing you that live picture just outside the West Wing because Jared Kushner due to make a statement after his return from Capitol Hill. Key Q&A with the Senate Intelligence Committee about the Russian election meddling. We'll bring you that as soon as that happens.

And, when we come back, Democrats hitting the reset button, rolling out what they call a better deal for America. Their plan for winning back crucial blue collar worlers who voted for Donald Trump.


[12:47:12] KING: Welcome back. They call it a better deal and are hoping it's the first big step towards putting a painful 2016 in the rearview mirror.

A new Democratic Party economic platform is being released today. It calls for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Tax credits for job training, lowering the cost to prescription drugs, and a reform of corporate America.

Now in trying to turn the page and in trying to appeal to those blue collar voters who left the Democrats to support Donald Trump, top Democrats are acknowledging Hillary Clinton did a pretty lousy job connecting on the economy.


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: When you lose an electio with someone who has, say, 40% popularity, you look in the mirror and say what did we do wrong? And the number one thing that we did wrong is, we didn't have -- we didn't tell people what we stood for. They know we're standing up to Trump. They like that but they want to know, what do you stand for?


KING: That's a fair diagnosis that, you know, in the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton made no doubt, made no secret, she didn't like Donald Trump. Didn't trust Donald Trump, didn't think Donald Trump was qualified to be president. But I think it is more than fair to say, you know, that the president won Pennsylvania, he won Wisconsin, he won Michigan because of his appeal to voters who had anxiety about globalization, anxiety about the economy and she did thought speak to it in a compelling way.

So you diagnosed the problem. Did they have a solution?

LEE: Well, you know, I think there's a real temptation for Democrats and critics of President Trump to often just sort of sit back, lean back with a bucket of popcorn and watch the drama. Watch the controversy that is constantly swirling around the president. But, yes, this is an indication that Democrats, national Democrats are sort of recognizing with some urgency that you can't always have your message be, look at the other guy, look at the other party that's failing. You need a message that is your own.

And I remember, you know, seeing this during the campaign when I was traveling with Hillary Clinton. There were often days and weeks when they were supposed to be sort of a policy theme, a theme to what she was supposed to be talking about, but that, you know, often got overshadowed by the latest sort of Trump misspeak or Trump drama. And I think Democrats are trying to make sure they don't repeat that mistake.

MECKLER: But -- and we should say though that most of the specific policy ideas (INAUDIBLE) are things that actually worked part of the Hillary Clinton agenda. So isn't really -- I mean, she had policy from, you know, Alzheimer's to Zika. I mean, she had so much policy that you couldn't even absorb all.

The question is, what did she talk about, what did she emphasized, what kind of message did she send? And I think that the question for Democrats going forward is going to be, yes, they have a basket of ideas. How are they able to frame them a positive agenda or do they get sucked into just responding to Trump, because he is the sun in our political universe.

KING: It's the connection challenge. It's the connection challenge. You're right about the policy ideas and those are familiar Democratic ideas. Trump ran on some ideas that were not familiar Republican ideas especially on trade. [12:50:02] One of the reasons he won the White House was his views on trade. But you got the impression, Trump voters got the impression this guy's going to fight for me. He's going to fight for me, he's going to remember me. I will be relevant to his presidency which Hillary Clinton for all her strengths was a more detached person who made no connection with people.

How do the Democrats, when you have a Republican president, a Republican Congress, both House and the Senate, 30 Republican governors, how? How do you break through and say give us another -- even if you're still with Trump at least study us, give us a look?

BENDER: You know, I think that Democrats have -- the risk here for Democrats is over thinking this. You know, Schumer is talking about, we didn't say enough about what we believe in. That's a fair point, but I think the bigger point is, who they had saying it.

Now the Wall Street Journal and NBC had a poll out last week. We got looked at counties Trump won. In those counties, Hillary Clinton's approval among independents was like 12% or 14%, above normal.

And then we also asked Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders' approval in those same counties was 41%, 42% which is higher than Trump's. And I think the takeaway there is that -- in these counties, that Clinton may have lost the election as much if not more than Trump won it.

KING: I have to say -- let me jump in because one of the things we don't do enough because a program based in Washington is actually listen to voters and I like to get in trouble (INAUDIBLE). But our Gary Tuchman went on and talked to some Trump voters last week.

And an area Trump has suffered some, if you look at the polling, there's a lot of independents who came to Donald Trump. Some of them, some of them are having second thoughts. Here's one.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like I'm Alice in Wonderland down the rabbit hole. It has been a disaster.

Where is him bringing together Republicans and Democrats, and working his deal with them? Where is it? It ain't there. He's golfing.


KING: On the flip side, and the president's standing among independents who vote for him has done that. On the flip side though, there are a lot of Trump voters out there who, yes, they say the president might be having problems getting thing done but they don't blame him. They blame the atmosphere here in Washington, a lot of them also particularly blame the Republican leadership in Congress not the president. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He can't speak without getting ripped apart. If you just leave him alone, let him do his job. He's a hell of a businessman. Let him run the business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In fact, Vietnam, he's being stopped before, every time he gets to this line he's being stopped.


KING: As the Democrats tried to spit up of a re-branding, one of the interesting dynamics out there is, yes, the president's overall poll numbers are lousy but he's held his base pretty and that's a credit to the president.

MECKLER: Well, true. Of course, base isn't enough to win an election. The question I think, the biggest question for the Democrats is, their candidates.

I mean, there's these ideas that are all well and good, but the biggest problem that they need, they need good candidates. Now is the problem arguably in the special elections that they lost because that the candidates were not that great.

KING: Interesting to watch these folks come forward. We're going to sneak in one more quick break. We're showing you those pictures just outside the White House because we are waiting for a statement, a rare public statement from the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner. He's just back from an important question and answer session on Capitol Hill. We'll be back in just a second.


[12:55:50] KING: Welcome back. Getting closer to the top of the hour. You're seeing outside the West Wing there awaiting for Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law. He just testified on Capitol Hill before staffers in the Senate Intelligence Committee answering their questions. Asked by CNN on the way out if he answered all their questions? He said, quote, as many as they had. He also said, quote, it went very well.

Again, a rare public statement from Jared Kushner coming any minute at the White House. That's where CNN's Sara Murray is standing by.

Sara, a big day for the president's son-in-law to the behind closed door and answer these questions and only once before at a technology event, have we even heard Jared Kushner speak.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's very rare to see him speaking in front of the press. They have the mike set up here, they have a podium with the White House emblem, all set up for Jared Kushner to speak.

This will give him an opportunity to perhaps give us a more detailed readout of what he had to say in his meeting with Senate staffers today. Now of course, he released a statement earlier today insisting that he did not collude, detailing four different meetings with Russian officials.

Now, Kushner said it went well. It will be fascinating to watch the reaction from senators after he speaks publicly. There were certainly senators on Capitol Hill who would like an opportunity to question Jared Kushner in public, under oath.

So far no indication yet that that is going to happen. We'll see if they continue to call for that after he speaks here at the White House.

KING: Part of the dynamics in Washington. A private session today but you're right. (INAUDIBLE) back for the House Intelligence Committee tomorrow. Some calls for a public session as well. You know, a little White House 101.

(INAUDIBLE) just outside the West Wing as Sara noted, the White House emblem on the podium. There Jared Kushner to speak any minute. The marines standing outside of the West Wing tells you the president is in the West Wing.

We continue to watch for Jared Kushner to come out. Thanks for joining us here on the INSIDE POLITICS. I'll see you right back here tomorrow. Wolf Blitzer picks up our live breaking news coverage after a quick break.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1 p.m. here in Washington, 8 p.m. in Moscow, 9:30 p.m. in Kabul, Afghanistan. Wherever you're watching from around the world --