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W.H.: Personnel Security Office Was Still Checking Porter; Fallout Scandal; Omarosa Warns: Pence Would Be Much Worse Than Trump. Aired 3:30-4pm ET
Aired February 13, 2018 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:33:57] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Moments ago the White House standing by its handling of the Rob Porter scandal despite the FBI painting a different picture of what happened and when. Here is White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This one have dealt out on one important fact because you and Raj, and you said this again, that the investigation was ongoing. Christopher Wray said it was closed in January. Who is telling the truth?
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Both. As I said, the FBI portion was closed. The white house personnel security office, who is the one that makes the recommendation for adjudication had not made their process and therefore not made a recommendation yet to the white house.
BALDWIN: Joining me more to talk about. This CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd, former FBI. He is also former FBI, former CIA Phil Mudd. I mean when you hear Sarah Sanders citing that, you know -- OK, I hear the laughter when or we're going to go.
PHILIP MUDD, FMR FBI SENIOR INTELLIGENCE ADVISER: Yes.
BALDWIN: The White House personnel office multiple times, what do you think?
MUDD: There's some -- I haven't see dodgeball like this in six grade. Let me tell you what's going on here. What's happening here is the FBI is going to conduct an investigation for a lot of agencies. Not every federal agency is going out there reviewing criminal records, interviewing people.
[13:35:11] So the White House says expedite a file review on this guy. Go out and do your thing and pass it along to the White House security office.
BALDWIN: Yes. MUDD: They'll take in what you gather and determine what to do. Here's the two questions you'd asked, Brooke. Number one, are you telling me the FBI didn't advise the White House last July when they gave them the final file, didn't advise them there were domestic abuse allegations out there, that beggars believe.
And the second thing more significant that I can't most the audience will miss. Seven months in adjudication? That is seven months after the file initially closed in July and they couldn't figure out whether to give him clearance? That is a long time. And there's only one reason why and that's -- I assume there was a problem in the file.
BALDWIN: OK. So I take it that's not a legit excuse. Let me move on and ask you about how Porter was only issued into room clearance before his resignation. He was among this group we've learn 30 to 40 staffers still don't have this full clearance, including the president son-in-law who was a senior adviser Jared Kushner, who by the way handles highly classified information. And, you know, you have the White House saying that they are using the same quote "protocol" we just heard them say this past administrations. Dan Coats today the director of national intelligence said that the clearance process is broken.
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I think sometimes it is necessary to have some type of preliminary clearance in order to fill a slot. But I have publicly stated if that is the case, access has to be limited in terms of the kind of information they can be in a position to receive or not receive, the process is broke at risk its needs to be reformed. It doesn't as -- Senator Warner has previously said, it's not evolution. It's revolution.
BALDWIN: So Phil explain why these people, why they wouldn't have this full clearance.
MUDD: Well, the White House is again sort of right unless you start digging into the details. Let met tell what's going on here. It is a common practice especially if you have a senior official going to the White House to give them preliminary clearance. You're moving very quickly and you're going to say we'll expedite your full clearance. But in the interim you can move along.
The problem with that White House explanation is you've got to presume when they went -- when they decided they needed to go to a lengthy adjudication last July that they had information that led them to that conclusion. At that point why didn't they say should this guy be still having access to information while we go through this process? The question is not whether you got an interim clearance. The question is why he was allowed to keep that clearance once they got the damning information.
BALDWIN: But what about even Kushner, as an example? Who as we've been people have been reporting is the one -- not the president but its Kushner who's, you know, reading these Intel briefings and he doesn't have his full clearance.
MUDD: I can't figure out how that works long term. If you get interim clearance you cannot look at the most sensitive information that's provided to the White House. And maybe the president can give him clearance on the fly. The president can clear anybody in.
But to get access to the most sensitive information, for example, intercepted communications of foreign official, you've got to go through the full process. My question is, why aren't you going through the full process? Do you not want to pass over your financial records? People like me had to do that.
MUSS: Are you too lazy to fill in the forms? There's not too many reasons you want -- you don't have your clearance. First one I can come up with, they don't want to pass over the information to get the clearance.
BALDWIN: OK. Phil, thank you. I also want to bring in --
BALDWIN: -- Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, Senior Fellow of Government Studies at the Brookings Institute and author of this report for the Brookings institute "Why is Trump's staff turnover higher than the five most recent presidents?" So, Kathryn, I mean in the number we all what we're reading today was 34%. It's a 34% turnover rate in year one. You've been studying all these previous administrations. So, is this -- this is the highest number you've seen in modern presidencies?
KATHRYN DUNN TENPAS, SENIOR FELLOW, GOVERNMENT STUDIES AT BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: Absolutely. It's off the charts. It's not just high. The lowest was President George W. Bush at 6% and highest was Ronald Reagan at 17%. So you can see it's clearly doubled than the highest president who had the most first-year turnover, which was Ronald Reagan.
BALDWIN: To what do you attribute this?
TENPAS: I think there's two things. I think one is that he ran kind of an insurgency campaign in which it was rather small. He didn't hire the typical politicos. And I think as a result he limited the pool of applicants that could be good for working in the White House.
The second aspect is he prizes loyalty overall else. And so he therefore eliminated a lot of candidates that were highly experienced.
BALDWIN: He also ran the whole, you know, drain the swamp, injecting Washington with outsider blood. I mean might this just be a result of that?
TENPAS: I don't really think so. I mean every president has some missteps at the beginning of their administration. They make mistakes. The skills you need to run a good campaign are not the skills you need to run a good government. [15:40:06] But, you know, when you get above, say, 17% to 20%, then you're questioning why is there so much turnover. And I would sort attribute that to the fact that there seems to be an error of chaos within the White House, whether it's the Mueller investigation, whether it was a quick resignation under a cloud of suspicion of Michael Flynn, what have you. There's just been so many issues and so many stories and scandals of things happening that it just creates a whirlwind of chaos.
BALDWIN: Phil, I just want to ask you about this because if we're talking about 34% turnover rate. I mean you have all these White House staffers who are there, who are left to basically pick up the slack, right, left behind by all these vacancies, what's happening behind the scenes?
MUDD: Well, I think when you look at this kind of turnover -- I served at the White House for a year. There's a brotherhood when you serve these positions. You don't serve because you make a lot of money. You serve because you think there's a greater cause and that the people around got your back. If you look at the elimination of personnel around the White House, communications director spokesman, the White House chief of staff, and others attacks on the FBI, attacks on the Department of Justice.
I'm sure people are sitting back and saying, man this is Groundhog Day every day. I can't -- at some point, even though it's a great job with a great title you look in the mirror and say I'm not seeing my friends. I'm not have a lot of fun. I'm not getting paid. Is it worth it? I think that's probably what's going on here lot of stress.
TENPAS: Yes, Brooke?
BALDWIN: Go ahead.
TENPAS: I would also point out that amongst the most senior people that apart there's been 7 out of 12 major departures. And when they leave it creates a domino effect because in junior staffers leave as well. So my numbers actually sort of in a sense are understating the amount of turnover. I'm only looking at a very small data set of the most senior people.
BALDWIN: Wow. Kathryn and Phil, thank you both.
TENPAS: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up here on CNN my next guest who once praised the president's chief of staff is now asking quite bluntly, what the hell happened to John Kelly? Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe, up next.
[15:46:22] BALDWIN: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is now defending how he handled the exit of Staff Secretary Rob Porter. The chief of staff tells the Wall Street Journal it was "All done right." The former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci tweeted "Kelly almost certainly knew about the credible allegations of domestic abuse against Rob Porter at least six month ago than recent force others to lie about that timeline in excusable Kelly must resign," which just to remind everyone that it was Kelly who came in last July and fired Scaramucci.
My next guest and friend, a columnist for the Boston Globe, Kevin Cullen, has an opinion piece out with the headline "What the hell happened to John Kelly?" Kevin Cullen, you begin this piece talking about how you met him twice briefly in the past and how you had this great admiration for these four-star general. What happened?
KEVIN CULLEN, COLUMNIST, BOSTON GLOBE: Well, its not one thing, Brooke, I think there's accumulative effect. Frankly, I was one of the people who -- in fact that I know is the only columnist at the Boston Globe that welcomed John Kelly's appointment to the Trump administration.
I certain having seen him in as a military person and the leadership qualities he had as you mentioned and not only he's a four-star general but also as the commander of the U.S. Southern Command. I base a lot of my opinion on John Kelly from friends who are marines that served with and under him. And they can't say a bad word about him and I heard stories about him and just admired him.
I really believed that he would be that adult in the room. But, frankly, from a very early point when he was the head of Homeland Security, I specifically, in a column when he was appointing, saying, he was just the right person for that job because if anybody knows anything about security borders and particular southern borders I think John Kelly is, you know, somebody that fits that bill. And yet under him the Immigration Customs Enforcement Agency really began targeting not criminal undocumented people or illegal aliens if you have.
They began going after what I would call low-lying fruit or low- hanging fruit. And they were arresting undocumented workers, people that kept their nose clean who committed no crimes other than entering the country illegally or overstaying the visas. Now I know there are some people will say what part of illegal don't you understand, Kevin? I -- My response to that is what part of our economy do you not understand?
Undocumented workers form that they are the people who pick our food, the people who prepare our food. They're the people who clean our hospitals, our hotel rooms, and our homes. And, frankly, if they -- if everybody here in America wants to change our economic system and pay people a living wage then, yes, I guess we can have a talk about that. But the reality is --
BALDWIN: So --
CULLEN: -- having government resources go out and ruin families and break up families needlessly when there are plenty of criminals to round up. I just think is nonsense.
BALDWIN: Sure. I mean I've got you for two more minutes and, you know, here you pose this isn't big question and you wrote towards the end, we all grow up terrified of becoming our parents. What has happened to John Kelly as far worse? He has become his boss. What happened?
CULLEN: No question. I mean I think what I was driving at Brooke is that a lot of what made John Kelly a very good military man does not work in the political arena, particularly when you're aligning yourself with somebody like Mr. Trump, who is not presidential. And the idea that he was some high depresidential and the idea that Mr. Kelly as his chief of staff than within industry, I just don't think it's the same thing.
[15:50:17] I think once he entered this, this political arena and hitched his trailer to Mr. Trump, I think it was inevitable that Mr. Kelly would end up where he is. The moral company that guided -- the moral compass that guided John Kelly, the military man, has given way to the situational expediency of a political man. And I find that tragic.
BALDWIN: You think just briefly, quickly, he should, he being John Kelly, should resign?
CULLEN: I've been a columnist for 10 years. I am paid to offer my opinion. I don't think I've ever recommended or suggested in any previous call that somebody lose their job or leave their job. But yes, in particularly light of the Rob Porter case and particularly in light of what the FBI director Mr. Wray said today, I do believe that Mr. Kelly should resign.
BALDWIN: Kevin Cullen --
CULLEN: And it pains me to say that.
BALDWIN: I know, I know, but you've said it. And there you have it, pay for your opinions. Kevin Cullen of Boston Globe thank you so much for lending in your voice matters.
CULLEN: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
Coming up next, Omarosa, she's back. She's spilling the beans on Celebrity Big Brother about her time at the White House. The latest warning, a President Pence would be worse than Trump.
[15:55:38] BALDWIN: Former White House Adviser Omarosa taking shots at the Trump administration. This time she's telling her house mates on Celebrity Big Brother that Vice President Mike Pence is actually worse than the idea of President Trump.
Omarosa who is an ordained minister and is also married to a Christian pastor, warned her fellow contestants to be careful about hoping for a Trump impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OMAROSA MANIGAULT, CELEBRETY BIG BROTHER CONTESTANT: Can I just say this this? As bad as you think Trump is, you would be worried about Pence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know.
MANIGAULT: So everybody that's wishing for impeachment might want to reconsider their life (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
MANIGAULT: We would be begging for days of Trump back if Pence became president. That's all what I'm saying.
He is extreme. I'm Christian. I love Jesus. But he thinks Jesus tells him to say things. And I know Jesus didn't say that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: And remember, she's made news previously telling her cast mates that she wouldn't vote for Trump again in, quote, a million years and said she was haunted every day by the President's tweets.
Let's discuss with Entertainment Journalist, Jawn Murray , he's the editor-in-chief of Always A-list.com. Jawn Murray, great to see you again. It is my understanding you have known Omarosa for more than 10 years. Why is she talking so much? What is her motivation here?
JAWN MURRAY, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: Listen, we've been friends for a actually little more than 12 years but we're kind of like reality show right now. We're a commercial break. We'll see what happens when she comes out of the Celebrity Big Brother house.
I'll tell you this. Omarosa is one of the most strategic people I know. She was probably more prepared for her return to reality TV than Donald Trump has been for any speech that he has given in the White House. And so, you know, in this business when you typically try to aline a book deal, you usually write a manuscript, you hire a book -- negotiator that goes into the publishing companies and find you a deal.
What she is doing is giving you the audio book presentation. She is show casing the clip notes of things that she would clean book for publishers every time she steps in front of a camera. She's strategic. She knows what she's doing. And I don't think there was a lot of interest in a book from Omarosa prior to her going into the Celebrity Big Brother house. But I would not be surprised that one of the publishers come calling with some of these nuggets (ph) that she's been talking on the show.
BALDWIN: I mean, maybe it's a book deal because, Jawn, normally a person who leaves the White House and talks and talks and talks like she is, would never be able to work in D.C again.
MURRAY: Yes. And she sent a warning shot. You know, when she did a Good Morning America interview with Michael Strahan, she said that she had a story to tell. And here is the thing. Omarosa is also trying to reengage with her core base which is African-Americans. Even though she was hired to be an African-American liaison, she's not quite thought of very well by most African-Americans. So her wearing the African print clothes and the head wrap, all of that on this TV show during black history month. She is like to reengage with her base.
BALDWIN: Is that sincere? Is that -- How is this working out for her?
MURRAY: I am telling you, she is the most strategic, some might say calculating woman I know. And this is all being done with intent.
BALDWIN: Let's remind everyone what the White House said about her when they were asked last week in the briefing, it was Raj Shah, listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Not very seriously. Omarosa was fired three times on The Apprentice. And this is the fourth time we let her go. She had limited contact with the President while here. She has no contact now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I mean, that was, that was a bit of a zinger as far as zingers go from the White House.
MURRAY: Absolutely. They know that Omarosa is out to get revenge. She did not want to be fired from the White House. You know, the reports of how she was fired are controversial in themselves.
And I believe that the White House is also developing alliances outside the White House. Piers Morgan has a scathing interview in today's Daily Mail where he claims that Omarosa offered him sex while they were on Celebrity Apprentice so that she could win the Celebrity Apprentice.
And, you know, I happen to see him come up to her with his children and take a photo with her in a WWE party. So, I think the gloves are off. People are fighting back. They realize what she is up to and they have to use their alliances to push back.
BALDWIN: OK. Let me just say, I don't have independent conversation and I haven't talked to Piers Morgan in a couple of years. And I can't really say whether or not that is in fact true. But there you have it, add it to paper there.
Jawn Murray, we're out of time. Thank you for all things Omarosa and getting the skinny from you. I appreciate it, wish you luck with your on again, off again, I guess, friendship with her.
In the meantime, I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me. Listen in to Jake, The Lead With Jake Tapper starts now.