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STATE OF THE UNION
Olympic Diplomacy?; John Kelly Under Fire; White House Turmoil; Interview With Trump Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway; Interview With Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson; Interview with Author Joshua Green; Biden Blasts Trump For Defending Accused Abuser; White House Aide Resigns Over Domestic Abuse Allegations; Reality TV White House Edition In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9- 10p ET
Aired February 11, 2018 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): White House turmoil. President Trump defends a former White House official accused of domestic violence.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He says he's innocent. We certainly wish him well.
TAPPER: Despite evidence of abuse from the man's two ex-wives.
JENNIFER WILLOUGHBY, EX-WIFE OF ROB PORTER: He grabbed me by the shoulders here and pulled me out of the shower in a rage.
TAPPER: Why does the president continue to support men accused of abusing women? I will ask White House counselor Kellyanne Conway next.
And under fire. Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly discusses resigning over his role in handling the domestic abuse allegations against Rob Porter. Will Kelly hold onto his job?
We will talk to a friend of John Kelly, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, in moments.
Plus, diplomatic move. Vice President Mike Pence stands just feet from Kim Jong-un's sister at the Olympics.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Trump wanted me to be here.
TAPPER: Now a meeting between North and South Korea could be in the works. Is Kim Jong-un ready to negotiate, or is he playing his own games?
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is very troubled by that photograph of Colbie Holderness with a black eye.
As the Trump White House deals with fallout from the way it handled domestic violence allegations against now former Staff Secretary Rob Porter, President Trump appeared to directly take on the broader MeToo movement, tweeting Saturday -- quote -- "People's lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused. Life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as due process?"
In a case that has shaken the White House, the mere allegations that forced Porter out of his job consisted of harrowing accounts by two former wives, Jenny Willoughby and Colbie Holderness, told to journalists and to the FBI under threat of perjury, plus a former girlfriend, with a police restraining order by Willoughby, and photographic evidence of Holderness with a black eye that she says she got from Porter.
Still, when the president chose to address the matter on camera Friday, he offered no condolences to the women or to victims of domestic violence. He instead said it was a sad and tough day for Porter. He pointed to Porter's claims of innocent -- innocence, and he wished him a wonderful career.
Here with me is counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway.
Kellyanne, thanks so much for being here.
Look, I know that you have been outspoken on the subject of domestic violence and other topics for a long time, long before you and President Trump hooked up.
You found out this week about the allegations against Rob Porter by his two ex-wives. What was your reaction when you first heard?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: Well, I was horrified and I was also very shocked.
It's -- as many people have noted, Jake, this is not the Rob Porter we worked with in the White House, and -- but once you see the allegations as put forth, once you see the photographic evidence, the contemporaneous police reports, as you say, speaking to the FBI, it was very clear that Rob resigned very swiftly and was out the very next day, out of the White House the very next day.
And I think people should look at the result as to how this is handled. What is the result here? The result is that, one week ago, Rob Porter was a top aide to President Trump, and, today, he is out of the White House.
TAPPER: But the initial reaction from the White House was to stand by Porter.
The chief of staff put out a statement calling Porter -- quote -- "a man of true integrity and honor." Sarah Sanders put out a statement supporting him. Sarah Sanders
originally said -- well, listen. Take a listen to what John Kelly, after -- after he ousted Porter, what Sarah Sanders said after Porter resigned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that was a personal decision that Rob made and one that he was not pressured to do, but one that he made on his own.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, I guess some of the confusion is, initially, there seemed to be this impulse to protect Porter and also to say that he only resigned over the objections of people in the White House.
So, let me back up one second. There were different two stories that came out. And there was one on Tuesday night and then one, I believe, Wednesday morning.
And so the weight of the two stories together I think compelled Rob to do the right thing and to resign. What the president is pointing out is that, all the while -- and Sarah said this from the podium too, read a statement from Rob Porter -- that he is denying these -- quote -- "vile allegations," but that he doesn't want to further engage in this orchestrated public smear campaign.
That said, when you are confronted...
TAPPER: But do you think it is a smear campaign?
CONWAY: I think I have seen the -- when -- when the president is saying -- talking about due process, he is right in this way.
We're a country of laws. There is due process. That's absolutely correct.
But we, as individuals, have a duty to assess every -- everybody on a case-by-case basis. And in this case, you have contemporaneous police reports. You have women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury. You have police reports. You have photographs.
And when you look at all of that pulled together, you realize that Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning.
TAPPER: It sounds like you believe the women.
CONWAY: I -- I have no reason not to believe the women. And a week ago, I had no reason to believe that that had ever happened.
So, again, we're processing -- I have every reason to believe -- you and I disagree on issues, Jake. Respectfully, I have every reason to believe that you're a loving, supportive husband. And it would be very hard for me to see otherwise, but if I saw it, I would have to realize this is not the Jake Tapper I had known.
So, we do give people the benefit of the doubt. I don't walk around the White House wondering, who is this person really? And we work in very close quarters together. And we're trying, as just small pieces of this, to do good for the country, believe me. That's why people are there in this White House.
And so it does shock the conscience. And you try to process it. And you try to compare it against the person you have worked with.
I believe I saw one of his ex-wives saying that as well, that she thinks he is brilliant and he's -- probably does a great job at...
TAPPER: Professionally, sure.
And that is who we also saw. But when you see all this, let me make very clear, when you read all this and you see all this, I think Rob did the right thing by resigning.
TAPPER: But I guess one of the questions is, people in the White House, senior level, knew about these allegations. Maybe they hadn't seen the photograph of the black eye, but they knew about these allegations.
They knew that the two ex-wives had given statements to the FBI, which, as you note, is under threat of perjury. You can't -- you're not allowed to lie to the FBI.
Don McGahn knew about it. And Chief of Staff Kelly knew about it, at least in -- as recently as November. And yet they didn't act. In fact, Rob Porter, his star continued to rise.
CONWAY: Well, there is no way for me to know what those two men knew, because I'm not in that line, and nor should I be. As counselor to the president, I'm not privy to yours or anybody else's FBI investigation as it goes on.
We rely on a process. And we respect that process. That process is put forth by the FBI, Jake. It has existed for many decades. Every White House goes through it.
TAPPER: But it doesn't sound like the White House was respecting it, because the White House was saying -- the FBI was saying: We can't complete Rob Porter's FBI security clearance, and there are these allegations from these two ex-wives.
And just on its face, he would be subject -- subject to blackmail, theoretically, if there are two women who...
CONWAY: But, again, I don't know that to be true. And I don't how you know could it to be true.
TAPPER: But he -- I know that he had interim security clearance.
CONWAY: He did.
TAPPER: And that's a long time to have interim security clearance.
CONWAY: Interim security clearance. There are others who do.
And I can tell you, when a new administration comes in -- and this was the case with us last January -- everyone is getting -- trying to get that security clearance at the same time. You have a flood of new documents.
And some are processed more quickly than others. I can tell you that the fastest were done within four or five months, so that doesn't even seem very speedy, I'm sure, to the public.
But that's the thoroughness with which the FBI completes its investigation.
TAPPER: But I'm saying it didn't sound like it was taken seriously.
CONWAY: It never shut this one down.
But -- but you're -- you're presuming that what you have heard is all true. I don't know that.
And what I do know from the White House Counsel's Office is that they are privy to information that people who are out there running around as sources are not. And they see a lot misinformation being peddled. And they can't comment on investigations.
We do know that the investigation continued. It was not ceased by the FBI. It continued. And that's what they do, as I understand it.
They will go back and try to corroborate with this and this and try to square different statements together. You know how it is.
TAPPER: But, surely, you see...
CONWAY: They talk to your roommates. They talk to your spouses.
Surely, you see that Rob Porter having this out there and having his security clearance not completed put him in a precarious position. And it was not good for President Trump. And it was not good for the Trump White House for this issue to be remaining out there.
CONWAY: Are you -- is the issue the clearance? Is that what you're talking about?
TAPPER: The issue is that he had two ex-wives who told the FBI that he abused them, and there was...
CONWAY: But I would have never known that.
TAPPER: And there was evidence of it.
But people at the FBI knew. And Don McGahn had to have known. Chief of Staff Kelly knew as...
CONWAY: I'm not willing to make that leap. I think that is an unfair leap. I see it all over the news.
TAPPER: Well, when is the White House going to clear it up?
CONWAY: I see it all on the news.
The only two people who can answer that question are the two people you just mentioned. And it is -- what Raj Shah said from the podium on Thursday is that the -- the chief of staff became fully aware when the rest of us did, when he saw the articles, when they were presented to him and he had that conversation with Rob Porter.
I have had a similar conversation with the chief. But we should not jump to everything that is being said and thinly sourced and being screened on the Chyrons as being true.
CONWAY: We see all the time things are not true.
TAPPER: Well, I'm happy to have people come...
CONWAY: And some don't matter. They're harmless. They're silly. They're ridiculous. But this is serious.
TAPPER: Right. But I'm happy to have the White House clear this up.
Is Chief of Staff Kelly's job in jeopardy?
I spoke to the president last night. I told him I would be with you today. And he said, please tell Jake that I have full faith in Chief of Staff John Kelly and that I'm not actively searching for replacements. He said, I saw that all over the news today. I have faith in him.
And he does.
You know we all serve at the pleasure of the president. And it is a privilege and a blessing, and nothing short of it, to be there every single day to serve the country that we all love.
And anybody who doesn't feel they way really shouldn't be there. I will just say this.
But he says that General Kelly is doing a -- a great job and that he has full faith in him. And -- and he looks at the -- I think he looks at the full measure of all of us.
TAPPER: Does President Trump believe the women? Does he believe the two women who have accused Rob Porter of abusing them?
CONWAY: The president is very disturbed by what he sees, absolutely.
And you can feel -- look, you can feel that somebody did a great job for you. You can talk about somebody's competence and work product and the person you worked with and you knew. And that's what the president did the other -- Friday in his statement.
And you could still feel horrified when you -- you see pictures and -- and contemporaneous reports. The president's tweet yesterday was more generic.
TAPPER: About the MeToo movement.
CONWAY: It was talking about -- well, no, he never said the MeToo movement, and he never said Rob Porter's name.
He is saying that some are old, some are new. Some are...
CONWAY: Excuse me.
Some are, to use my words now, done contemporaneously. Some are done retrospectively. That probably wouldn't fit in a tweet.
But that is different from what we see in the Porter situation, and that is different than the entire MeToo movement. And those trying to conflate the two -- I see these Democrats out there criticizing and preening.
Let me remind them that this president is responsible for 800,000 women taking new jobs in 2017. He is responsible, he and his party, without a single Democratic vote to help, Jake, are responsible for over 300 companies now helping over three million workers, including a lot of women, get bonuses and raises and job security and other benefits and making capital investment, repatriating billions of dollars of wealth to this country.
CONWAY: This matters to people. He has been a great president for men and for women.
TAPPER: Unemployment has gone down, absolutely.
CONWAY: Including among women.
TAPPER: But -- for women, for African-Americans, for a number of groups.
CONWAY: Eighteen-year low. TAPPER: But I -- there does seem to be this blind spot when President Trump -- when a man who the president suspects is accused of a horrific crime, whether it is Roy Moore, or Bill O'Reilly, or Roger Ailes, or Mike Tyson, or Bill Clinton, back when he liked Bill Clinton, the president sides with the man and against the women.
He didn't say anything expressing any sympathy to victims of domestic violence in his statement on Friday.
CONWAY: He is sympathetic towards women -- towards women and men who are victims of domestic violence.
He was asked that -- I was in the Oval Office when he was asked the question by the press pool. He was asked, do you have a comment on Rob Porter? He made a comment on Rob Porter.
He also can have sympathy and respect and compassion for the millions of victims of domestic violence of child abuse, of drug abuse. These are scourges on our society of decades, Jake.
And if CNN or anyone else wants to have a serious conversation about them and use our respective considerable platforms to really take a bite out of these societal scourges, give me a call. You know I work first and foremost on the front lines on the opioid crisis.
CONWAY: The budget that will be released tomorrow has $6 billion for that.
TAPPER: Is that enough, $6 billion?
CONWAY: That is more than -- than we have ever seen in any administration.
And what we want to do with that is invest it in three big things, treatment and recovery, interdiction and law enforcement, and certainly...
CONWAY: Excuse me -- education and prevention, because we need to tackle all three at once. We need to get those drugs, keep those illicit drugs out of our -- out of our country, out of our communities.
But we also have to help the people who are already addicted and in need of medicated -- medication-assisted treatment. And we also have to educate everyone, not just youth, but everyone, that the trickiness is what is in that little bottle in mom and dad's medicine cabinet that bears a label with the family doctor and local pharmacy is meant to help somebody else, and it can hurt you.
And I'm officially inviting you right now to come back, and you and I -- I do want to do something on opioids on with this.
CONWAY: Great. My pleasure.
TAPPER: But I do want to ask you about White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who apparently is dating Robert Porter.
Porter's second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, said she is worried about Hope Hicks. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLOUGHBY: It worries me for a lot of reasons. I mean, it definitely worries me, because, if I'm being frank with you, if he has not already been abusive with Hope, he will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Are you worried at all about Hope Hicks?
CONWAY: Well, I'm very close to Hope Hicks. And I don't worry about her in that -- in that respect. I'm sorry for any suffering that this woman has endured.
But in the case of Hope, I have rarely met somebody so strong with such excellent -- excellent instincts and loyalty and smarts. I didn't have the presence of mind and the professional capabilities at her age that I see in her every single day.
TAPPER: She's definitely strong, but strong women get abused too. It's just not weak women.
CONWAY: Oh, many women get abused, no question. And let me agree with you on that.
There's a stigma of silence surrounding all of these issues, again, whether it's drug abuse, child abuse, certainly intimate partner and spousal abuse. There's no question that it knows no demographic or geographic bounds.
CONWAY: No question, Jake. So, let's put that there.
But in the case of Hope, Hope -- Hope carried on this week. She was at work every single day. She is doing her job as beautifully as she always does it. You saw the president's very strong statements in support of Hope.
TAPPER: Yes, absolutely.
CONWAY: That she's fantastic.
And we all feel that way about Hope, and that she -- respectfully, she has got a great support system around her. And she's got a beautiful family, wonderful friends, colleagues, and a boss who respects and relies upon her tremendously.
TAPPER: Well, we care about her too.
CONWAY: But I hope those who are suffering silently...
CONWAY: ... come forward locally and -- and -- and come out, because, again, these are societal scourges that preceded this White House, that will follow this White House.
But those who are in a position to do something about it ought to, and not just, you know, once or twice a month in -- in some scintillating story.
TAPPER: Kellyanne Conway, always good to have you here.
CONWAY: Thank you. It's a pleasure.
TAPPER: Thank you so much for being here.
And I meant what I said about the opioid story that we're going to work on together.
CONWAY: Thank you, sir. We will be back.
TAPPER: Thanks for being here.
And congratulations on the Eagles.
CONWAY: Right back at you.
TAPPER: John Kelly was supposed to clean up the White House after months of dysfunction. Now he is the one under fire for defending a staffer accused of domestic violence. Can Kelly survive this?
You just heard Kellyanne Conway.
Now we're going to talk to one of John Kelly's friends, President Obama's DHS secretary, Jeh Johnson, a friend of Kelly's. He is here next.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
Retired Four-Star General John Kelly was hired to bring order to President Trump's White House.
Now the chief of staff is under fire for allegedly mishandling the domestic abuse allegations against White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter. The scrutiny reached such a fever pitch that, according to a source, Kelly made clear he would resign if that's what President Trump wants.
Kellyanne Conway, you just heard, just told me that the president has full faith in Kelly. But a source tells CNN the president has been asking friends about other potential chief of staff replacements.
Joining us now to discuss this and other issues is someone who has worked with General Kelly, the man who preceded him as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, under the Obama administration.
Secretary Johnson, good to see you. Thanks for being here.
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Thanks for having me, Jake.
TAPPER: So, I have to ask you, you have described Chief of Staff Kelly as a friend of yours.
TAPPER: Obviously, we all respect his service to this country, the great sacrifices he and his family have made.
Reports are emerging that key figures in the West Wing were aware of the allegations about Rob Porter, including Kelly, and did nothing about them for months until they became public.
You have worked with General Kelly. You said he is a man of character and integrity. Are you surprised by how Kelly has handled this situation?
JOHNSON: You're correct that John is a friend of mine. We got to know each other at the Pentagon when he was the military aide to the secretary of defense and I was the department's general counsel. When I was secretary of homeland security, he was commander of U.S. Southern Command.
We have both been to Robert's grave site together at Arlington.
TAPPER: His son who died in Afghanistan.
JOHNSON: His son. And I hope John continues to be a friend.
I think -- my friendly advice to him is less press -- that may be contrary to the interest of people in the press -- fewer public statements. Leon Panetta once said that the chief of staff is someone who should not be the issue.
And so I encourage John to hunker down and do his job, fewer public statements.
Now, this issue with Porter...
TAPPER: You think he should stay in the job, though?
JOHNSON: I think, as long as Donald Trump is president, our government is best served if John Kelly is in the job of chief of staff. That is my view. It may be a minority view among my Democratic friends, but that is my view.
TAPPER: You were talking about Porter.
This issue should have surfaced in the initial background check, in the initial security clearance process. I have been through it a number of times. And so there had to be a reckoning of this issue sooner or later, and, apparently, he was sitting there with an interim security clearance.
That's not an ideal situation in national security, to have people with access to very sensitive documents and information who are operating on an interim security clearance. So, in that respect, it is quite surprising and disconcerting.
TAPPER: So, to play devil's advocate, if you were a chief of staff or secretary of a department, and you had a very trusted, close, and efficient aide, top aide, who did an excellent job -- and let's, in this hypothetical, say that perhaps it is a somewhat chaotic environment -- and it came out in the FBI background check that he had two ex-wives, two ex-wives accusing him of domestic abuse, what would you do?
JOHNSON: Well, it's -- I don't know Mr. Porter, so it's hard to say. I don't know his strengths. I have heard others describe his strengths.
TAPPER: Let's assume he is the best staff secretary in the history of staff secretaries.
JOHNSON: When you're in public office, you have to assume, sooner or later, everything is going to get out, whether it's tomorrow or the next year.
And you have to balance the blowback from something like this that has not come out, that should have come out much earlier, against the strengths of the person who is in the job.
And some sort of calculation was made there, and we're seeing the effects of that right now.
TAPPER: But you wouldn't necessarily say, you need to go?
JOHNSON: An issue like this, you have to realize that it is going to be a big deal when it becomes public news. It's going to become...
TAPPER: And it will come -- and it will become public news.
JOHNSON: And sooner or later, something like this always comes out.
And in this particular environment, this was going to be big news. And, sometimes, you have to make the hard choice to move on and try to find somebody else. TAPPER: I want to ask you about the president's decision to send back
the Democratic memo from the House Intelligence Committee which is rebutting the Republican Nunes memo...
TAPPER: ... alleging FISA abuses by the Justice Department and the FBI.
TAPPER: The president -- President Trump OKed the Republican memo,, over the objections of the FBI and the Justice Department, which said it was misleading. He released it anyway.
The Democratic memo, he has said has too many sources and methods, and he sent it back.
What is your take on all of this?
JOHNSON: Well, I do think that the full story should come out. Apparently, the Democrats feel that the Nunes memo is misleading by omission in a number of respects.
So, I do believe the full story should come out.
TAPPER: Not just the Democrats. The FBI and the Justice Department think so as well.
JOHNSON: Very definitely.
If -- taken on face value, what the president is saying is, rewrite the memo and then we will declassify it. So, there ought to be ways in which the Democrats, the House Intel Committee, can rewrite the memo without compromising sources and methods, and get the full story out about what they feel is misleading about the Nunes memo.
And it should not be an issue. I hope it is not an issue.
TAPPER: I want to turn to North Korea.
The Winter Olympics began in South Korea on Friday and featured South and North Korea marching under a unified flag. Kim Jong-un's sister is attending the Games. She met with the South Korean president. She's even invited him to visit North Korea, Kim Yo-jong.
The sister is the first member of the North Korean ruling family to set foot in South Korea since the Korean War.
Do you give any credit to President Trump's North Korea's policy? Maybe it's working? Maybe it's driving the North Koreans to some sort of rapprochement with South Korea?
JOHNSON: I think time will tell. I don't believe that the rhetoric between the two leaders has been
helpful. And if you know history, you know that great nations can stumble into armed conflict. Great nations can miscommunicate, misunderstand each other, and, in an overheated environment, stumble into armed conflict.
And that is my great concern here.
TAPPER: Do you have any concern with the fawning coverage that the North Korean -- the sister of Kim Jong-un is getting and the fact that maybe she is actually managing to score a propaganda coup here, not just with some people in the press in this country, but also with people around the world, including the South Koreans?
JOHNSON: Well, I find the overture from the North Koreans to South Korea to be interesting. It's an interesting dynamic in this whole issue.
And you're correct. She has captured a lot of attention. Who knows? We will have to see.
Again, my concern is that we not stumble into something that is not necessary.
TAPPER: That's an eye on the bigger picture.
Secretary Johnson, thanks so much for being here.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
TAPPER: We really appreciate it.
He helped lead the movement behind Trump's election victor. Now former Trump insider Steve Bannon says there is a movement -- quote -- "even more powerful than populism" that might be able to bring President Trump down. What is it? It might surprise you.
That is next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to the STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
President Trump put himself in the middle of the backlash surrounding the handling of domestic abuse allegations against now former White House staffer Rob Porter, defending Porter in an Oval Office meeting and appearing to take issue with the broader MeToo movement perhaps by saying -- quote -- "People's lives are being shattered by a mere allegation" -- unquote.
It all plays right into new comments from ousted Trump aide Steve Bannon, who is now predicting that the MeToo movement might be powerful enough to bring down President Trump. Journalist Joshua Green is out with a brand-new edition of his book
"Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency."
And Green is here now to discuss the new items he has in the preface.
And before we get to your book, Joshua, I just want to ask you about the current turmoil in the West Wing.
You have Chief of Staff John Kelly making it clear that he's willing to resign if President Trump wants him to. Kelly hired to come in and, you know, restore order or create order for the first time, and yet that has not necessarily happened in every case.
One of the things he did first -- one of the first things he did was try to get Steve Bannon out the door.
It doesn't seem like the White House is in as full control as they had hoped. What is going on?
JOSHUA GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, it doesn't.
And what is worrisome about this recent episode is, it really hearkens back to the early days of the administration, when there was a kind of unchecked chaos in the West Wing. And Kelly was coming in supposedly to fix that.
Now, when he came in, there were really two things he had to think about. One, how do you manage Trump? And he essentially decided, I'm not going to try and do that. What I'm going to do instead is try and manage the White House staff.
And for a time, it seemed as though that was working, although we can see from the recent allegations against Rob Porter, others against -- spousal abuse -- others against David Sorensen, another senior White House official, that clearly the staff is not being managed properly.
And you can see, from all the drama in the contradictory statements last week surrounding what happened, who knew, why they didn't do something further, and even Trump's own unwillingness to express any kind of sympathy with these victims, that things are still in a state of chaos.
TAPPER: In the wake of all the turmoil, the president has been reaching out to confidants, including former fired White House staffers.
What has the relationship between Steve Bannon and President Trump been since Bannon was pushed out the door?
GREEN: Well, initially, it was -- it was pretty good publicly.
One of the stories I tell in my book is the day that Bannon was pushed out. And this wasn't public at the time, but he was very angry about it, refused to take Trump's phone calls, and said at one point, I'm sick of being a wet nurse to a 71-year-old man. He had as many doubts and frustrations, I think, about Trump's fitness
to be president as a lot of other advisers around Trump did. And so Bannon also recognized, though, that if he were going to continue to have a voice in national politics, if he were to be able to lead this nationalist movement, which has been his project all along, he had to be seen as a Trump ally.
And so he positioned himself as this outside resistance leader supposedly fighting on Trump's behalf.
TAPPER: In the paperback release of the new book, you talk about watching the Golden Globe Awards with Steve Bannon. And you got his reaction to the red carpet protest supporting the MeToo movement.
He said -- quote -- "The anti-patriarchy is going to undo 10,000 years of recorded history. You watch. The time has come. Women are going to take charge of society. And they couldn't juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch. This is a definitional moment in the culture. It will never be the same going forward."
GREEN: I think Bannon, despite all his flaws, is a pretty shrewd analyst of American politics and particularly American political anxieties, our national anxieties.
And he recognized, in those Golden Globe Awards, that this was a movement that could potentially be an existential threat to Republicans, not just their majority in the House, but also to President Trump.
And there is a wonderful, revealing moment of Freudian angst in the scene as I describe Bannon watching Oprah where he says, look, if they were roll out a guillotine right now, these ladies would chop off every set of balls in the room, which is a blunt Bannon a way of saying, essentially, this MeToo movement, they're coming for our manhood.
And I think that expressed a lot of the anxieties that Bannon, that Trump, that people of that political persuasion have about this new rising movement of women, which is really a backlash to the man that -- that Bannon calls the patriarch, Trump himself.
TAPPER: I didn't know that they made guillotines that size, but OK.
TAPPER: One quick thing.
What are his thoughts on Oprah herself?
GREEN: Bannon thinks that Oprah could actually tilt the House to Democrats in 2018 if she were to get out there on the campaign trail, that, essentially, she is such a galvanizing figure, as we saw at the Golden Globe Awards, that, if she were to get out there, she would draw women to the polls. That's the real threat to Republicans in the short-term. And Bannon fears that, if they do win back the House, that they could turn around and impeach Trump. So, maybe Oprah holds the key to Trump's political...
TAPPER: Or at least the key to the guillotine.
GREEN: Or at least...
TAPPER: Josh Green, thank you so much for being here. Appreciate it.
Don't forget to check out his -- the paperback release of "The Devil's Bargain" by Joshua Green.
Vice President Biden taking a swipe at President Trump for defending a man accused of domestic violence.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just read as I -- before I walked on stage a statement from the president saying he wishes him luck, he has so much talent. That is like saying that ax murder out there, he is a great painter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Our panel will be here to discuss that, next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I just read as I -- before I walked on stage a statement from the president saying he wishes him luck, he has so much talent. That is like saying that ax murder out there, he is a great painter.
Is there any other crime as a crime where there would be an explanation of the reason why we should not pay attention to the transgression is because they're good at something?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Former Vice President Joe Biden going after President Trump for his handling of the Rob Porter domestic abuse scandal. My panel is also here with me.
Linda Chavez, I want to start with you. You were the highest ranking women in Ronald Reagan's White House serving as director of the Office of Public Liaison. How do you think President Reagan would have handled the situation similarly if he found out that his staff secretary or some top staffer had two ex-wives accusing him of domestic abuse?
LINDA CHAVEZ, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: Well, by the time it got to President Reagan, that person would have already been out the door because it would have been handled at a lower level, the White House Counsel.
First of all when you have these kinds of background checks, if the FBI finds something that they think is untoward -- they did with me when I was nominated to be secretary of Labor I had taken any illegal immigrant into my home a decade earlier and she by the way was a victim of domestic abuse which is how is ended up in my home -- they picked up the phone. They called the transition and immediately, I mean, they tracked me down at Tysons' Mall where I was busy buying my inaugural gown and I had to sit down again with the FBI.
And was asked about it and obviously was truthful about it, because if you are not you can end up being prosecuted. So Porter have to have been called back by the FBI. There would have been a phone call into the White House Counsel's office.
And in a normal White House, that would have been it. If he could not give a really good evidence that this was wrong and fabricated, he would have been out the door, it would have been handled quietly and that would have been the end of it --
TAPPER: And you -- Jen, you were communications director for President Obama. You probably saw and guessing people that wanted to work in the Obama White House who didn't get through the FBI vetting process.
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I did. Certain. And that happens in every White House.
And there are infractions seemingly minor in comparison like having smoked marijuana. Where I remember an individual who wanted to hire to be a press assistant could not come in for several weeks because we had to check through that and make a decision about whether we could hire her.
So you were just saying it is just not believable that this is something that took months and months and months to reach people. Because it is not that you don't get the conclusion until the end it is actually information that is typically shared with the counsel's office throughout a background check, and just having a security clearance that is on an interim basis, as they have many beyond this individual, is also a big red flag.
And if it is a very senior member of the president's team, is handling classified information, you're going to ask some questions even if you're just wondering why isn't he getting the security clearance. So there are a lot of holes in this. I'm not even sure -- I don't think that is the most troubling part of the story, but certainly I think there's going to be more details and more truth that will come out about how this actually transpired over the last year.
TAPPER: One of the things this does is it obviously puts the president -- exposes the president to this kind of scrutiny for crimes he did not commit which makes you wonder why they let this happen.
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think this is a failure of the president's staff. I mean, whether it was the FBI not doing their job and letting the people know this information or whether it's the people who got the information within the administration that didn't share it with their higher ups.
Someone let the president down on this. Because you have a man working there for months and months with the assumption that, you know -- yes, interim clearance, but as you mentioned lots of people have been issued (ph) clearance (ph).
It's not like oh, gee, it is going to come tomorrow. I mean, this takes a long time, it's not a big deal, and I don't think the president looked at it.
And now you someone who has been working with the president, he assumed is pretty good, and all of the sudden this comes up. It's like, come on, this can't be true. And that's how I think the president probably reacted to this and it is a normal reaction because you would think if it was something this obvious, this bad, someone would have known early on.
TAPPER: What's so odd about this also is on Friday morning, this was a scandal but it really had actually not touched President Trump himself.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISER, MOVEON.ORG: That's right.
TAPPER: He had not weighed in. There was questions about who around President Trump knew and who didn't do him the service the way that Senator Santorum was just saying.
But then President Trump called the press in to give the statement of full support for Rob Porter even as he was going out the door with no comments about the victims, the survivors of this domestic abuse.
JEAN-PIERRE: Right, and we're talking about someone who has more than a dozen victims who have accused him of sexual harassment or sexual assault, and he continues to not be for, not speak up for the victims or the people who have been abused, but for the abusers. And it is incredibly troubling coming from the president of the United States, but also not very surprising because we are talking about Donald Trump.
And this is from Roy Moore to Porter. He continues to stand on the wrong side of history on this. And it just tells you everything that you need to know about Donald Trump and the man that he is.
Senator Gillibrand weighed in. President Trump had talked about the need for due process and obviously due process is a value that we all honor and respect. The due process is a -- is a court room term not a morality term in real life.
Kirsten Gillibrand is a senator from New York, a Democrat, tweeted, "The lives of survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse are being shattered every day. If he wants due process for the over dozen sexual assault allegations against him, let's have Congressional hearings tomorrow. I would support that and my colleagues should too."
CHAVEZ: Well, I think that is the problem. And of course Donald Trump's rule in these kinds of cases is threefold. Deny, deny, deny.
And so that is what he is assuming everyone else is going to do and I think they are, still. I mean, this is -- this is one of Trump's big problems.
And by the way, if he has any idea of running for election again, he's going to need female votes and he is already showing slippage in the poll among his base, among white women who do not have a college degree. Their numbers have slipped recently and this is part of the reason why.
TAPPER: What do you think of what Steve Bannon told Josh Green about the idea that the #MeToo movement is galvanizing and so strong it could potentially really hurting President Trump in the midterms and in the next election 2020?
SANTORUM: I have no doubt that that is part of the real energy out there. I mean, there is an incredible amount of energy and stories like this feed that.
I'm disappointed that the president reacted this way. I think it was not right from a substantive point of view but from a political point of view it was a -- it was devastating.
I mean, he can't continue to make these kinds of statements without at least putting it in context. I don't disagree with his point that people are entitled to due process and you shouldn't automatically believe any charge that's out there.
TAPPER: Of course not.
SANTORUM: I agree with that.
SANTORUM: But there's a lot of evidence to support this charge, number one. And, number two, even if -- even if there wasn't, you have to put it into context so you let people know, look, I am concerned about this and he is not doing that.
PSAKI: The most infuriating thing, I think, to women is not necessarily just the charges against Porter. I mean, no one knew who Porter was.
PSAKI: It has really been their handling since then. As you've touched on Trump, but even as they have spokespeople and senior members of the administration come out what they have done is they validated misconceptions about domestic abuse over and over and over again.
Women are paying attention to that. It is not (ph) like (ph) it's a very small percentage of women who come out and falsely accuse people of domestic abuse. It is not true that domestic abusers look a certain way and they continue to validate that.
That this is somebody who is -- who was good at his job and therefore how could this have been possible? You know?
And so these are -- the issues that -- this continues to be their explanation, that is as troubling to women if not more troubling than Rob Porter's indiscretions.
JEAN-PIERRE: I was just going to say, I mean, to your point the energy that's out there among women they're watching this and they know, they're aware of what is going on.
Just -- I want to touch about EMILY'S List who said that 26,000 women reached out to them last year interested in running. People -- women are paying attention and they're coming out. We saw that in Virginia, we saw that in New Jersey, we saw that in Alabama, and this is -- if I were a Republican, I would be really concerned right now for November.
TAPPER: Thank one and all for being here. Appreciate it.
He's the first reality TV president, and now a former staff Omarosa is on a reality TV show gossiping about him. Only in America folks and that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."
TAPPER: Welcome back. Reality TV propelled President Trump to super stardom. So it might be only fitting that a former White House staffer is now on reality TV whispering about him that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."
TAPPER (voice-over): She brought even more reality TV to the White House. But now Omarosa Manigault Newman is bringing her memories of the White House back to reality TV. Omarosa is appearing on this season's "Celebrity Big Brother."
OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: The people around him attacked me.
It was like, keep her away. Don't let her talk to him. It's like Ivanka there, Jared's there.
TAPPER: And with the reality star sitting in the Oval Office the whole White House is almost like a TV show lineup.
TRUMP: You know I'm a ratings person.
TAPPER: This week on "The Bachelor White House Edition" communications director Hope Hicks seems to have given the wrong guy a rose. Former Trump campaign aide turned FBI informant George Papadopoulos would be a perfect fit on the mole.
Meanwhile, on "Keeping Up With The Kushners" forgotten flame music legend Quincy Jones this week claims he once dated the power daughter Ivanka.
IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: My father values talent.
TAPPER And, of course, this is all like an episode of "Survivor." This week White House chief of staff John Kelly is hanging on by a tread.
Who will stay and who will go? Stay tuned.
TRUMP: You're fired.
TAPPER: A show of solidarity between North and South Korea at the Olympics, but is Kim Jong-un really interested in playing nice, or is this all just a game to him?