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State of the Union
Interview With Incoming White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci; Interview With Minnesota Senator Al Franken; Interview With Kentucky Senator Rand Paul; Arizona Senate Candidate Says McCain Should Step Down; Trump's Version Of History In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET
Aired July 23, 2017 - 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): Staff shakeup. Sean Spicer is out, a fresh face is in.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: The president is a winner. And what we're going to do is, we're going to do a lot of winning.
TAPPER: Can Anthony Scaramucci right the ship? He will be here with me in minutes.
And Trump team under fire. A new report says Jeff Sessions maybe did discuss Trump campaign matters with the Russian ambassador.
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I never had meetings with Russian operatives about the Trump campaign.
TAPPER: As the president's inner circle prepares to talk to Congress, one of the senators set to grill them, Al Franken, joins me ahead.
Plus, health care in the balance? Another effort to repeal Obamacare fails.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: It's pretty obvious we have had difficulty. But Republican leaders still say they're dead set on voting this week.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I intend to keep my promise, and I know you will too.
TAPPER: Do you have the votes?
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is defiance, Congress ignoring the White House's appeals and reaching an agreement to slap new, sweeping sanctions on Russia for meddling in the presidential election, this now the first real test for President Trump on this issue. Is he willing to punish Vladimir Putin for that election interference,
even though the White House has said it wants to move on from it? Is really contemplating his first ever veto of this bill, siding with Putin over the overwhelming sentiment of the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress?
The White House specifically says it objects to a provision in the sanction bill that gives Congress the power to override the president, should he choose to ease the sanctions. The House plans to vote on the bill Tuesday. It could reach President Trump's desk before the end of the month.
Joining me now to discuss this and much more is the incoming White House communication director, Anthony Scaramucci.
First of all, Anthony, congratulations on the new job.
SCARAMUCCI: Hey, it's a pleasure to be here. And thank you for that, Jake.
TAPPER: So, you come to the White House at a time when President Trump historically low approval ratings. He has signed into law zero major pieces of legislation. Health care is on life support. Multiple investigations are under way.
I guess the big question is, is President Trump facing a communications problem, or is it a substance problem?
SCARAMUCCI: Did you -- did you leave anything out? I mean, you were doing pretty well there.
TAPPER: I gave you a short version.
Listen, there's obviously a communications problem, because there's a lot of things that we have done as it relates to executive orders, bills that have been signed, economic progress.
I don't want to cite all the economic data. But the economy is super strong. Business optimism is way up. And over the next six months, we're going to have phenomenal achievements from the president.
I still think we're going to get the health care situation done. One of my closest friends is the secretary of treasury. Very confident on tax reform. If the president gets those two pillars done, which I predict he will over the next six months, you and I hopefully will sit down around Christmastime and be having a different conversation about the presidency, the communication coming out of the White House, and our achievements.
And so these things, they go up and down, Jake, as you know. The president is an experienced businessperson. He is a very effective politician. And I just think we need to deliver the messaging a little bit differently than we have been doing it in the past.
And my prediction is, is that this stuff is going to start to come to fruition quite quickly.
TAPPER: Well, as you know, one of the -- one of the problems that Sean Spicer and others in the White House have faced is President Trump undermining his own message.
You said on Friday that the nation needs to see more of the authentic Trump.
But, just this week, President Trump set up an interview with "The New York Times" in which he attacked the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, the special counsel, the former FBI director, the acting FBI director. He then went on a tweetstorm Saturday that additionally distracted from his agenda.
I guess another question is, is it more authenticity that President Trump needs, or is it more restraint?
SCARAMUCCI: Listen, I don't want to be a career guidance counselor for those people that he's talking about. But let me give some advice to those people on your show.
That's the president. The president likes speaking from the heart. He likes telling what he likes and he dislikes. He's the type of coach that I worked very well with in high school football.
It's OK with me if the president doesn't like certain things that I'm doing. We're all on the same team. I would prefer that direct and immediate feedback, as opposed to anything else.
What I don't like about Washington, if we say one syllable or one sentence, or this guy said something bad about me, then, all of a sudden, they have to be my mortal enemy. I don't think that's how it works in American business.
I can sit across the table from somebody that worked with me and my company that I founded and say, here are five things I don't like about what you're doing, and we have to fix it.
And, by the way, tomorrow, I'm going to be having a meeting with the communications staff and say, hey, I don't like these leaks. And so we're going to stop the leaks. And, if we don't stop the leaks, I'm going to stop you. It's just really that simple.
SCARAMUCCI: So, for me -- let me just finish, Jake.
So for me, I would tell people that that's the president. He is 71 years old. We're not going to change him. By the way, the last time I checked, he won the presidency quite handily. He's going to win it again in 2020. He's our guy. And so how to learn to work with and operate with him.
TAPPER: Congressional leaders have reached an agreement on sanctions to punish Russia for its election meddling and aggression towards its neighbors.
Is President Trump going to sign the Russian sanctions bill?
SCARAMUCCI: We got to ask President Trump that.
You know, it's my second or third day on the job. My guess is, is that he's going to make that decision shortly. But, you know, there is a lot of questions out there, Jake, you know, and this is another thing I don't like about the process.
This man, our president, he has phenomenal instincts. A lot of the stuff that people have said in the mainstream media that was supposedly true turned out that it wasn't true. I think it was three or four weeks ago there were 17 intelligence agency that were saying something.
Then we realized that there was only four intelligence agencies. And I'm not saying four intelligence agencies is insignificant. I'm just saying there's a lot of disinformation out there.
You know, somebody said to me yesterday -- I won't tell you who -- that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those e-mails, you would have never seen it. You would have never had any evidence of them, meaning that they're super confident in their deception skills and hacking.
My point is, all of the information isn't on the table yet. But here's what I know about the president.
TAPPER: Well, wait, wait, wait. Anthony, Anthony, Anthony...
SCARAMUCCI: Let me finish. Let me finish.
All right, go ahead.
TAPPER: Well, you're making a lot of assertions here.
I don't know who this anonymous person is that said, if the Russians had actually done it, we wouldn't have been able to detect it, but it is the unanimous...
SCARAMUCCI: How about it was -- how about it was the president, Jake?
TAPPER: OK. It's the consensus of the intelligence community.
SCARAMUCCI: I talked to you yesterday. He called me from Air Force One.
SCARAMUCCI: And he basically said to me, hey, you know, this is -- maybe they did it. Maybe they didn't do it. And I'm going to maintain for you -- hold on a second.
TAPPER: OK. This is -- but this is exactly the issue here.
We have experts, the U.S. intelligence agencies, unanimous, both Obama appointees and Trump appointees, the director of national intelligence, the head of the National Security Agency, the head of the FBI, I mean, all of these intelligence experts saying Russia hacked the intelligence -- Russia hacked the election, they tried to interfere in the election. No votes were changed, but there was this information and misinformation campaign.
President Trump is contradicting it, and you're siding with President Trump.
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I didn't say that I was siding with President Trump.
He -- he -- he hasn't made the decision yet to sign that bill one way or the other. And so, when he makes that decision, I will 100 percent side with him, because I -- I am his communications director. And I'm -- I'm his advocate on a show like this.
Last time I checked, the way the founding fathers put the Constitution together, they made one person the commander in chief. It happens to be President Donald J. Trump. He will make that decision when he makes it. And then you -- I will come back on the show and I will explain it to you and I will explain to you why he made the decision that way.
But what I'm -- what I'm saying to you -- and you may not want to agree with me, but -- and we can litigate this -- there's a lot of disinformation out there, Jake.
And so one of the things I'm going try to do is speak very transparently to you and the American people, get the president's message out there.
I have found, in my life experience with President Trump, when he's out there himself and he's being his fresh, authentic self, it's very appealing to the people of the United States.
And we don't need to closet him up or coach him on certain things. What we need to do is allow him to be himself, so that we can get these policies out there that would be very good for the American people.
TAPPER: But this is -- this is exactly the point, because here you have a bill, legislation that was passed 98-2 in the U.S. Senate. The House is about to pass it. It will probably also be an overwhelming vote to sanction Russia.
And President Trump told you that he still doesn't believe that Russia was trying to interfere in the election, even though the overwhelming body of the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, and his own intelligence experts are telling him the opposite.
You're saying you're going to side with the president. Don't you owe a duty to the truth?
SCARAMUCCI: What about the conversation are you missing, Jake?
There are checks and balances in the system for a reason. OK? The president will make that decision when he makes a decision. You're telling me that something is true that, in fact, could in fact be true.
I don't have the information in front of me. Once -- once I have cleared my security clearances and I have looked at the stuff, if I think it's true, behind closed doors, I will turn to the president very directly and say, sir, I think this stuff is true.
But I don't have it in front of me right now.
Here's what I know about the president. You may not like it. He has got phenomenal instincts. You may not like it. He's got great judgment on people. You may not like it, but he is a phenomenal politician. He started two short years ago, and he's already six months into his presidency.
How many people can do that, Jake, be an American successful businessperson and television personality, hit a button on June 16, 2015, and race his way to the presidency, clearing out 18 people?
You know a lot of people that can do that? I don't know a lot of people that can do that.
TAPPER: It was -- there's no question it was a phenomenal victory.
TAPPER: It was a huge surprise. It shocked the system. He proved all the pundits wrong. All of that is true. And it was true as of November 8.
My question right now is about the fact that a geopolitical foe of the United States, Russia, interfered in the U.S. election, according to every intelligence expert, both under the Obama administration and under the Trump administration.
SCARAMUCCI: OK, so...
TAPPER: The one person in the government who says it's not true is President Trump. SCARAMUCCI: Well, I have got -- I have got -- I -- again, one of the reasons why he's upset about it is that this sort -- this sort of -- the mainstream media position on this, that they interfered in the election, it actually, in his mind, what are you guys suggesting? You are going to delegitimize his victory?
SCARAMUCCI: Is that going to make his victory illegitimate?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, you know what? He legitimately won the presidency.
TAPPER: Yes, absolutely.
SCARAMUCCI: Right? Do -- are -- do we both agree on that?
TAPPER: He legitimately won the president (sic), absolutely.
SCARAMUCCI: OK? And that -- OK.
So -- so -- so, at the end of the day, let him make the decision. And, as I said to you, once I have got a security clearance and I meet with those people myself, if -- if -- if I think it's true, I'm going to turn to the president very honestly -- we have a great relationship -- and say, sir, I think this is true.
TAPPER: Well, that's good that you will do that, Anthony.
But the point is kind of like, it doesn't...
SCARAMUCCI: But I'm not going to do that right now on the show.
TAPPER: But it's almost irrelevant whether you think it's true and what President Trump says, because it's the unanimous consensus of the intelligence community -- community that this happened.
SCARAMUCCI: OK. OK. Jake...
TAPPER: And it is a threat to the United States because Russia is going to try to do it again. That is also the consensus.
SCARAMUCCI: I -- I got -- I got all that.
But let me tell you something. A person that's going to be super, super tough on Russia is President Donald J. Trump. If he believes that we're in an...
TAPPER: But he doesn't. But he doesn't. That's the problem. That's the problem.
(CROSSTALK) SCARAMUCCI: But you know -- you know -- you know -- you know what the problem is? You know what the problem is? Let him run the presidency the way he wants to run the presidency.
TAPPER: He is.
SCARAMUCCI: He's -- he's representing the American people. The people voted him in.
And so he will make the judgment. He will make the decision when the time is right. What I -- what I don't like about the whole direction of this stuff in the mainstream media and the whole narrative is that you're saying that this thing is 100 percent true.
If, in fact, he makes a decision that it's 100 percent true, he is going to be super tough on Russia. But let him -- let him -- let him do it at his own time and pace.
SCARAMUCCI: He's not hurting any -- he's not hurting -- he's not hurting -- he's not hurting anybody by doing it at his own time and pace, Jake. He's not hurting anybody.
TAPPER: I -- I think that the issue is that the intelligence -- I didn't say it was 100 percent true. I said it's the consensus of the intelligence community that it is true.
And the issue is that President Trump, as you raise the subject, is so worried, it seems, based on things that you have said and he has said, that people are trying to delegitimize his presidency based on what the intelligence community has said it's a fact -- is a fact....
SCARAMUCCI: I don't like -- I don't -- I don't like it.
TAPPER: ... he is so focused on that, that he's not focused on protecting the United States from another hack.
SCARAMUCCI: He's -- he's actually really not that focused on it. He just happens to not like it.
He is super focused on his agenda. OK? He is super focused on getting the health care reform passed. He's super focused on working on tax reform, the two main pillars of what we're going to do this year.
He's super focused cleaning out all the deregulation -- unnecessary regulation in the United States. He's super focused on manufacturing jobs, 50,000 new manufacturing jobs, and getting people back to work in the United States. That's the stuff he's super focused on. The media...
TAPPER: But he's not tweeting about those things. He's tweeting about Russia and Hillary Clinton. (CROSSTALK)
SCARAMUCCI: Because he doesn't feel -- he doesn't feel that he's being effectively defended in the mainstream media with the nonsensical narratives that are out there.
And we're going to change that for him. We're going to -- we're going to defend him very, very aggressively when there's nonsensical stuff being said about him. And he will probably dial back some of those tweets. That's the way it works.
TAPPER: President Trump -- President Trump asserted this weekend in a tweet that he has the complete power to pardon.
This is what he wrote -- quote -- "While all agree the U.S. president has the complete power to pardon, why think of that, when only crime so far is leaks against U.S.? Fake news."
Anthony, who is the president thinking about pardoning?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, he doesn't -- he just -- read the tweet again. You want to go over the tweet one more time? Because I'm a pretty good proofreader. He is basically saying he doesn't have to pardon anybody.
TAPPER: So far.
SCARAMUCCI: That's what he's saying.
TAPPER: So far. He said...
SCARAMUCCI: No, no.
TAPPER: I will read the tweet again.
TAPPER: Let's read it again. I will read it again. That's fine.
SCARAMUCCI: Let's put the tweet back up. You and I will proofread it together.
TAPPER: "While all agree the U.S. president has the complete power to pardon, why think of that, when only crime so far" -- which is also an interesting phrase, "only crime so far" -- is leaks against us? Fake news."
(CROSSTALK) TAPPER: So, he's talking about pardoning, so he's thinking of pardoning?
SCARAMUCCI: So -- but Jake, Jake, let's cut through it all, OK?
You and I right here, let's cut through it all.
TAPPER: Do it.
SCARAMUCCI: You're basically saying that tweet is suggesting that the president is going to pardon himself and every one of his family members.
TAPPER: No. I ask you...
SCARAMUCCI: Or what you are -- what you are suggesting?
TAPPER: I'm -- I'm saying...
SCARAMUCCI: He's not -- he's not going to do that. I sat in the Oval...
TAPPER: No, no, Anthony, I'm suggesting one thing.
SCARAMUCCI: Yes, go ahead.
TAPPER: The president tweeted about pardons. And I'm asking you, who is he thinking about pardoning?
TAPPER: That's all I'm suggesting.
So, why raise it?
SCARAMUCCI: The president -- the president is thinking about pardoning nobody, because it has been coming up a lot. There's an undercurrent of nonsensical stuff.
TAPPER: Because he has asked advisers about it.
SCARAMUCCI: No, come -- come on, Jake. He's not allowed to -- this is the problem with the whole system.
He's the president of the United States. If I turn to one of my staff members at SkyBridge, I ask them a question, they run out to the news media and tell everything that I'm thinking about, is that fair to the president?
TAPPER: If you turn to one of your partners at SkyBridge and say, hey, do you have $100,000 for bail money in case I need it...
TAPPER: ... then people are going to say, why is he talking about bail money? So, the question...
SCARAMUCCI: Jake, that's ridiculous -- Jake, Jake, that's like a -- one -- that's a super ridiculous hypothetical. And I appreciate you're on the fly trying to think of them.
But the truth of the matter is, is that the president's not going to have to pardon anybody because the Russian thing is a nonsensical thing.
I was there early on in the campaign. I didn't have any interactivity with the Russians. I didn't see anybody have any interactivity with Russians. It is a complete bogus and nonsensical thing. And this is the stuff that happens in Washington I honestly don't like.
TAPPER: Anthony, we...
SCARAMUCCI: It's scandals, incorporated.
TAPPER: But we know -- we know...
SCARAMUCCI: You guys have to manufacture these scandals to take the president off of his agenda. We are going to put the president right back on his agenda.
TAPPER: Anthony, there is an FBI investigation.
SCARAMUCCI: And we're going to present them the way he needs to be presented to the American people.
TAPPER: There is an FBI investigation.
SCARAMUCCI: Of course.
TAPPER: There is a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation. Republicans control the Senate.
SCARAMUCCI: Of course.
TAPPER: There is a House Intelligence Committee investigation. Republicans control the House.
None of that is manufactured, none of that.
SCARAMUCCI: Have they found any -- Jake, have they found any evidence that the president or anybody in the campaign has colluded with the Russians, Jake?
TAPPER: I don't know.
SCARAMUCCI: OK. Well, you know what? A lot of people have said that.
You know, like you're saying with 100 percent certainty that they have affected the election or they turned over the e-mails, there's a lot of people that are saying with 100 percent certainty that there was not one person in the Trump campaign that colluded with the Russians.
Paul Manafort is going to testify this week.
SCARAMUCCI: My very close friend Jared Kushner is going to testify tomorrow.
I predict that will be the last time Jared Kushner talks about the Russians. OK?
TAPPER: Well, here's the thing.
SCARAMUCCI: He is a very honest guy, Jake.
TAPPER: You said that there was -- you just said a couple minutes -- you said -- I have no reason to think Jared is not honest.
SCARAMUCCI: Yes, he's very honest.
TAPPER: There's -- there's no...
SCARAMUCCI: So, he will be done testifying. There is nothing to the story. And we will be moving on.
TAPPER: You said just a few minutes ago that nobody in the campaign met with anybody -- with any Russians.
SCARAMUCCI: That I saw, sir, that I saw.
TAPPER: That you saw, OK. But we know...
SCARAMUCCI: I didn't -- I didn't attend every single meeting, but I will tell you something. I was very early in the campaign.
TAPPER: But you didn't attend the one -- you didn't -- did you know about the meeting that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort had with a number of Russians, including that woman Natalia Veselnitskaya?
SCARAMUCCI: I didn't -- I didn't know -- I didn't -- I didn't -- I didn't know about the meeting.
But what I don't like about the way the thing was handled, from a communications and strategy perspective, I think Donald Trump Jr. got bad -- got bad advice. They told him to put out a small statement. Donald Trump Jr. is a
very honest, very high-integrity person. I have known him for a long time. I have an enormous amount of respect for him.
You know, on other shows, there were guys on Wall Street people said were criminals or bad guys, and everyone in the cabal said that they were. I want out there, Jake, and said that they weren't, and I was proven right.
And I'm telling you, Donald J. Trump Jr. is a great guy. He didn't do anything wrong. I just think the mistake was in the way it was communicated.
We started with one person, and now we have an auditorium of Russians that he was speaking to or whatever the hell it was. And it's ridiculous. OK, it was a...
TAPPER: Well, Anthony...
SCARAMUCCI: Let me finish, Jake.
It was a non-event meeting. And he's a political neophyte in June of 2016.
Someone from the Clinton organization would have probably put an Arkansas lawyer in that meeting.
But if you're trying to suggest and tell me that people on the other side wouldn't have taken a meeting like that, that's -- that's ridiculous, Jake.
TAPPER: I don't know. It's hypothetical.
SCARAMUCCI: It's hypo -- it's hypothetical. It's ridiculous, Jake.
TAPPER: But I can tell you, there are a lot -- there are -- there are a lot of Republicans, a lot of Republicans -- and I have asked, if you, like Donald Trump Jr., were told that a Russian government attorney wants to meet with you to provide incriminating evidence about your political opponent directly coming from the Russian government to help you and hurt your opponent, would you take that meeting?
I have asked Republican after Republican, and every single one of them says, absolutely no.
SCARAMUCCI: OK. Time-out. Time-out. Time-out.
TAPPER: So, when you say Donald Trump Jr. didn't do anything wrong, when you say he didn't do anything wrong...
SCARAMUCCI: I got to stop you. TAPPER: ... a lot of people would call what he did wrong.
SCARAMUCCI: Jake, Jake, I got to stop you. OK?
You're talking to Republican experienced political people, politicians and political operatives, OK? And I'm sure...
TAPPER: I'm talking to people who know that Russians are a geopolitical foe of the United States, and you don't take dirt from their foreign government intelligence service on your political opponent.
Jake, Jake, I stand -- I stand by the president's tweet, which your production people will find, that a lot of people would have taken that meeting.
Donald J. Trump Jr. loves his father. He was an unbelievable campaigner. He was one of the reasons -- you can ask David Urban, who is one of your friends. He's one of the reasons why we won the state of Pennsylvania.
This guy, my friend Donald J. Trump Jr. and I, we traveled all over the state of Pennsylvania. It's the first time the Republicans won it in 32 years.
TAPPER: Big win.
SCARAMUCCI: We should be talking -- we should be talking about that or we should be talking about the president's agenda.
The kid took a nothing meeting. I think Reince Priebus called it a nothing burger.
TAPPER: Would you take that meeting?
SCARAMUCCI: Since that -- since that has been overused...
Would I have taken that meeting? I don't -- I'm not sure. How is that? I'm going to answer it honestly and tell that you I'm not sure.
Since I went to Harvard Law School, I probably would have asked a few people. And somebody probably would have said to me, you know, get a cutout to go take the meeting and see if there is any legitimacy to it.
Once they realized there was no legitimacy it to, people were walking out or they were on their iPhones. It was a non-event, Jake.
We want to make that into a two-week, a four-week news cycle. That's fine. But it was a non-event. And it had no impact -- it had no impact on the campaign.
TAPPER: The only -- the only reason I brought it up is because you said nobody from the campaign met with anybody from Russia.
Let me ask you this, this question about the pardon, and then we will move on.
SCARAMUCCI: OK, but -- but...
TAPPER: Does the White House believe...
SCARAMUCCI: OK, time -- time -- time-out a second. Let me restate that.
I said no -- I didn't see anybody do that, and nobody in my knowledge for the last year. Now, we discover that they're...
TAPPER: OK, but it's -- so, that's -- but my point is just because you didn't see it doesn't mean it didn't happen. You didn't see that one, and that one happened.
SCARAMUCCI: I -- I agree with that. But that was a ridiculous, nothing meeting.
Does the White House believe that the president has the power to pardon himself?
SCARAMUCCI: I don't know. I don't think I -- we haven't even really looked into that. I -- I don't know.
I have talked to Jay Sekulow about that because he's a scholar. And I -- you know, I took constitutional law from Larry Tribe.
And if professor Tribe is listening, I know he doesn't like the president, but I did get an A-minus in your course.
I'm not sure if he has the right to power (sic) himself or not. But it doesn't matter anyway, because that is another one of those stupid hypotheticals. He's not going to have to pardon himself, because he's done absolutely nothing wrong. So, we don't even have to worry about it.
Let's -- let's let the next president answer that question for you. I don't think we even need to be discussing it.
TAPPER: My colleague Andrew Kaczynski noted that, back in January 2016, you wrote a rather scathing op-ed for FOXBusiness.com clearly directed at Donald Trump, saying, among many things -- quote -- "Unbridled demagoguery has driven the GOP to an inflection point from which there is no turning back" -- unquote.
A lot of people, Anthony, will read that op-ed, they will read the tweets that you spent the weekend deleting that were pro-gun control...
TAPPER: ... pro-action on climate change, and they will think, wow, this guy is willing to suppress everything he believes in order to get close to power.
SCARAMUCCI: Totally not true.
TAPPER: What is your answer -- what is your answer to that?
SCARAMUCCI: That's totally -- that's -- see, that's a -- that's a ridiculous Washington sort of narrative. Right?
That is -- number one, it's totally not true. Number two, all -- all I'm doing by deleting the tweets is sending people a message.
What I hate -- here's what I hate about Washington. I hate a lot of things about Washington, but we only have a one-hour show. But let me tell you one of the things I really hate about Washington.
We have this political purity test on policy. And so, if I'm for something, and then I'm against something, then, all of a sudden, I'm a hypocrite.
Yet some of the greatest leaders known to mankind, Winston Churchill started out as a liberal, and then he became a conservative. Ronald Reagan started out as a Democrat under FDR, and then he became a conservative.
And so some of the smartest minds and some of the smartest political leaders have changed and evolved and adapted their opinions.
TAPPER: Yes, but you adapted, you evolved -- you evolved from thinking Donald Trump was a demagogue to thinking he wasn't a demagogue.
SCARAMUCCI: Let me finish. Let me finish, Jake. -- when I -- I didn't say -- I didn't -- I didn't say that Donald Trump was a demagogue.
Where does it say in that article that Donald Trump is a demagogue?
TAPPER: You were very -- you were referring to demagoguery. The whole article...
SCARAMUCCI: You know -- you know what? You know...
(CROSSTALK) SCARAMUCCI: Let me tell you something about demagoguery that I don't like, OK?
Demagoguery, OK, creates a lot of nonsense like this. OK? So, we're going to dial back all of that stuff, and we're going to focus on the -- on the agenda. OK?
TAPPER: People should read the op-ed.
SCARAMUCCI: Read the op-ed. Read the op-ed. You know why?
TAPPER: And it is -- you're very clearly referring to Donald Trump.
SCARAMUCCI: Jake, Jake, Jake, let me...
TAPPER: You refer to this person who is going to win the primaries who is a populist who experienced several bankruptcies. And you tied moral bankruptcy to Donald Trump.
SCARAMUCCI: OK, Jake, you're doing a really good job on this. And so you're -- you're trying to nail me. You're going to play the gotcha thing with me right now.
TAPPER: No. I'm...
SCARAMUCCI: But it's fine.
Jake, I don't care. You know who doesn't care? The president doesn't care.
When I was with -- first of all, I tried to back him early. He -- he tweeted about that yesterday. He called me from Air Force One to remind me about that. He said he wasn't running at that time. I told him I had to back somebody. And then he's like, what you are, like a horse race, a horse race play here?
I said, look, I'm involved in the political establishment. I'm going to back somebody.
I chose Scott Walker. I actually met Scott Walker through Reince Priebus and Paul Ryan.
TAPPER: But this is back in January 2016, when Trump was in the race. This is right before the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucus.
SCARAMUCCI: Let me -- let me -- let me finish.
I was supporting -- I was supporting Scott Walker at the time. I'm a very competitive person. I have no problem being combative. OK?
When Mr. Trump, then the candidate, the president, went after the hedge fund industry, that's when I hit back on him on Maria Bartiromo's show. We were laughing about it yesterday. If you guys want to bring up the fact that I was supporting another
person in politics, and then switched to the eventual Republican nominee, and now I'm working for the Republican nominee, and that makes me a hypocrite or dishonest or...
TAPPER: I didn't call you a name.
SCARAMUCCI: ... I'm -- I'm -- whatever it is, whatever -- whatever you're trying to suggest by bringing this story up, I actually do not care.
I love the president. I have gotten to know him unbelievably well over the last 18 months. He's a phenomenal fighter for the American people.
I grew up in a middle-class family, where we had a tight budget. And I have seen people come up to the president that are now struggling. And I will say something to you on national TV that is embarrassing to me.
I should have seen the economic desperation in the neighborhoods like the one I grew up in. I did not see it.
Mr. Trump, then the candidate, saw it. He now has the opportunity and the mantle of the presidency to change it. And I'm going to be there with him trying to change it every step of the way.
If I said some things about him when I was working for another candidate, Mr. Trump, Mr. President, I apologize for that. Can we move on off of that? I know you and I have moved on off of that.
Jake hasn't moved on off of that, obviously.
SCARAMUCCI: And that's OK, Jake. I don't care.
SCARAMUCCI: But I'm going to be working for you. And I'm going to serve the American people. And we're going to get your agenda out into the heartland, where it belongs. And we're going to turn this thing into a movement, a bigger movement than we have already.
TAPPER: I -- I -- I love how you're talking to one specific viewer right now, the -- the -- the most -- the most important audience that there is.
SCARAMUCCI: I like talking to him. But you know who else I'm talking to? The people I grew up with.
TAPPER: I get it. SCARAMUCCI: And they get -- they get me and they get him. And he's
TAPPER: I grew up in a very similar neighborhood in Philadelphia.
SCARAMUCCI: And he's going to -- he's going to win again. He's going to win again, Jake. He's going to win again. I will bring a box of Kleenex over here to CNN in 2020.
TAPPER: We don't -- we don't need Kleenex. We don't need any Kleenex.
SCARAMUCCI: He is going to win again, Jake.
TAPPER: Last question.
SCARAMUCCI: We're going to get this agenda prosecuted, and he's going to win again.
TAPPER: Last question for you, Anthony.
TAPPER: And you have been a good sport. You have been here all this morning.
There are reports this weekend that President Trump loved your performance on Friday. I'm -- I haven't checked my Twitter since we've been talking, but maybe he is talking about how much you're killing it right now.
Are the cameras going to come back to the briefing? Will we see you more at that podium?
SCARAMUCCI: OK, so let's talk about that. OK?
So, Sarah Huckabee is the president secretary. If you're asking me for my personal opinion -- and maybe the president will be upset for giving my personal -- we should put the cameras on. That's no problem. I don't think we need to have the cameras off.
But if the president doesn't want the cameras on, guess what? We're not going to have the cameras on. It's going to really be up to him. But I think we should put the cameras on.
I think Sarah does a great job. She's an incredibly warm person. She's incredibly authentic.
And what I told Sarah on Friday, you get the big office. I will take the small communications office. You deserve the big office because you're taking the hits from the press. And bring the press into the office.
Let's soften up our relationship with the press. They're tough on us. But let's be tough on them. I have no problem with. And my job, as I see it, Jake, is that these people work with me, and I'm there to serve them.
If you think about the American military, the leaders eat last. If you think about the American military, the leaders' job is to serve the people that are working alongside of them.
And so, me, for Sarah Huckabee, I want to do everything I can to make her better at that podium. I think she is phenomenal there now. But like every athlete that is training for the Olympics, every day, we have got to make ourselves incrementally better.
The only thing I ask Sarah -- Sarah, if you're watching, I loved the hair and makeup person that we had on Friday. So, I would like to continue to use the hair and makeup person.
TAPPER: All right, Anthony, you can always swing by CNN. We have hair and makeup here, if you ever need it. Thanks.
SCARAMUCCI: Yes, you got -- you got a lot on today. And you look very tan, Jake.
SCARAMUCCI: You look tan and refreshed.
TAPPER: Anthony Scaramucci, thanks so much for being here.
SCARAMUCCI: All right, nice to see you. Thanks.
TAPPER: We really appreciate it.
SCARAMUCCI: Thanks for having me.
TAPPER: Welcome to Washington.
SCARAMUCCI: Thank you.
TAPPER: We have lots to talk about, the incoming White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci there saying that the president told him just yesterday that, if the Russians actually had hacked and released e-mails during the election, we would have never seen it.
Senator Al Franken is here to respond to everything you just heard next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
Just hours before Friday night deadline, leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee struck a deal with Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. They no long will have to testify in a public hearing this coming week. In exchange the two will turn over records and they'll be interviewed privately.
The deal comes just days after Donald Trump Jr. said he would testify under oath. Joining me now is Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. He's a key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator, thanks so much for being here this morning. We appreciate it.
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D-MN), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thank you for having me.
TAPPER: I want to actually start with something that incoming White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci just told me. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Somebody said to me yesterday, I won't tell who you, that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those e-mails, you would have never seen it. You would have never had any evidence of them. Meaning, that they're super confident in their deception skills in hacking.
My point is all of the information isn't on the table yet. But here's what I know (ph) about (ph) the president.
TAPPER: Wait, wait, wait. Anthony -- Anthony -- Anthony --
SCARAMUCCI: Let me finish. Let me finish.
TAPPER: You're making a lot of assertions here. I don't know who this anonymous person is that said that if the Russians had actually done it we wouldn't have been able to detect it. But it is -- but it is the anonymous --
SCARAMUCCI: How about -- how about -- how about it was the -- how about it was the president, Jake.
TAPPER: OK. It's the consensus of the intelligence community --
SCARAMUCCI: I talked to him yesterday. He called me -- he called me from Air Force One.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKEN: I thought -- when he brought it up, I thought it was a disinterested intelligence expert who brought that (INAUDIBLE).
TAPPER: Originally. But actually --
FRANKEN: You asked a good question.
TAPPER: But then I said, I don't know who this person is and he said it was the president of the United States.
TAPPER: So here we have the consensus of both Obama administration and Trump administration intelligence community leaders. People that Trump appointed Dan Coats, Mike Rogers et cetera -- and Mike Pompeo, the CIA, and President Trump still doesn't believe it.
FRANKEN: That's -- what can you say? It's just bizarre.
I mean, it's clear that we're seeing now that members of his campaign met with Russians even though they were testifying before oh, say the Judiciary Committee answering a question from oh, say me.
TAPPER: It (INAUDIBLE) like a Jeff Sessions.
FRANKEN: Saying that he had not met with Russians during the campaign. Now it turns out, it sound like that Kislyak at least said they met in April which is a meeting that we -- that he hasn't said that he had. And in which they talked about subjects regarding the campaign and about Russia, about sanctions and --
TAPPER: Yes. So you're talking about a "Washington Post" report that quotes former and current government officials saying that there were intercepts of Ambassador Kislyak talking with back (ph) presumably the Kremlin or people back in Moscow --
TAPPER: -- about his meetings with Sessions. Do you know anything about the intercepts?
FRANKEN: I don't. I mean, what I do know is what I read which is that I guess someone in Kislyak's position can sometimes distort what he says when he is reporting back to say -- to build himself up.
I also saw in those reports that Kislyak isn't that type. And it seems to me that since Attorney General Sessions hasn't been terribly truthful regarding these things that it's more likely this -- that what Kislyak was saying was the case.
TAPPER: Do you want Sessions to come back to the Senate judiciary?
FRANKEN: Absolutely. That's what --
TAPPER: Are the Republicans -- do they agree with you?
FRANKEN: I think the Chairman Grassley does want him to come back. I'm not sure there is some order involved in terms of I thought we were going to get Donald Trump Jr. and Manafort in.
We're going to have them behind closed doors. And I intend to be asking them questions.
TAPPER: Well, let's talk about that because Donald Trump Jr. said very clearly to Sean Hannity that he was willing to testify under oath. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": You said in a tweet you would fully cooperate with any investigation --
DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: Of course.
HANNITY: -- completely.
DONALD TRUMP JR.: Hundred percent.
HANNITY: Turn over everything you want and you feel you already have?
DONALD TRUMP JR.: Yes.
HANNITY: Yes. And you have nothing to hide? You want to be -- that means you'll testify under oath all of that?
DONALD TRUMP JR.: All of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Nothing to hide. You're willing to testify under oath, all of that. Except we're being told now that they're going to testify behind closed doors and not under oath.
Is that good enough?
FRANKEN: No. That's not good enough. They should be under oath.
And I did not know it would be not under oath. It should be under oath. I'll be talking to --
TAPPER: That's our -- that's our understanding.
FRANKEN: OK. Well, that's the first I've heard of that. You may be right. I don't know.
TAPPER: Are you disappointed -- is it -- are you disappointed that it's -- the very least we know that it's going to be behind closed doors. Are you very -- are you disappointed that Grassley cut that deal?
FRANKEN: If it's not under oath I am.
Yes. I think that they need to be under oath. And they need to release all the documents. I mean he didn't say he would testify publicly so -- but under oath he said. So he should -- he should definitely do that. And I have a lot of questions for him.
TAPPER: Should the transcripts be released? Should the transcripts be released?
FRANKEN: I think they should be.
TAPPER: Can you give us an idea of some of the questions or do you want to not (INAUDIBLE)?
FRANKEN: I -- I would like to ask some questions that had he had other meetings with Russians?
TAPPER: Do you know of any?
FRANKEN: No. But he seems like if you ask -- you're a really a good questioner.
Like you asked him who that authority was on Russian hacking. And it turned out to be the president.
TAPPER: The president.
FRANKEN: Who isn't actually very authoritative on all of that.
TAPPER: Well, he definitely has a take that is at odds with his own intelligence community.
TAPPER: The White House has been questioning the credibility of Robert Mueller's investigation by noting some of the people that he has brought onboard to conduct the investigation and have given money to Democrats in the past.
TAPPER: If people were leading an investigation into you or one of your friends, one of your colleagues and it turned out, one of your Democratic colleagues, and turned out that they had given a lot of money to Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, wouldn't you think that that was a fair question to ask?
FRANKEN: Well, why don't we ask the lawyers for Donald Trump where they gave money.
TAPPER: No. But you see my point. Isn't it a fair thing to raise -- isn't it a fair question to raise about the investigators?
FRANKEN: Yes. So, for example, Trump gave money to Hillary Clinton --
TAPPER: And Chuck Schumer.
FRANKEN: -- to Chuck Schumer.
TAPPER: I think he was Chuck Schumer's biggest donor at one point.
FRANKEN: Probably. And Ty Cobb, who is his lead attorney now, gave money to Obama. He gave money to the current junior senator from the state of Minnesota.
TAPPER: He gave -- Ty (ph) Cobb (ph) money to you?
TAPPER: He did?
FRANKEN: Yes. So that's very suspicious.
TAPPER: So I --
FRANKEN: So I think he should leave, frankly.
TAPPER: You think --
TAPPER: -- giving money to you?
FRANKEN: Yes. Under that logic (ph) --
TAPPER: Disqualifying (ph)?
FRANKEN: I think it would be, yes.
TAPPER: Last question. Your fellow Democratic senator Debbie Stabenow in the state of Michigan --
TAPPER: -- which is close to your home state of Minnesota --
FRANKEN: It depends what you call close. It's a great lake state.
TAPPER: Yes. Geographically.
TAPPER: I don't mean emotionally. That she might face a challenge from Kid Rock, the performer.
There is a long list of celebrities starting with the president but also Arnold Schwarzenegger, your former governor, Jesse Ventura, who were dismissed when they first talked about running for office.
FRANKEN: Right. TAPPER: What's your take on the challenge that Kid Rock might pose?
FRANKEN: Well, you know, I ran, of course. And had been a comedian. So --
TAPPER: Yes. You're one -- you're one of these celebrity folks.
FRANKEN: I'm familiar with that being discounted but look Debbie Stabenow is a great senator. She has done an incredibly great job on the ad committee, both as chairman and as a ranking member.
She is great on mental health. She's been a leader on that. That is something I care a lot about.
I'm going to be supporting her against whom ever that nominee is. And I think that Kid Rock will have to make his case.
TAPPER: All right. Senator Al Franken, thank you so much. Good to see you.
FRANKEN: You bet.
TAPPER: We'll have you back soon. Appreciate it.
Joining me now, the man President Trump called out at a private dinner for holding up a health care vote, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Senator, thank you so much for joining us.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Thank you.
TAPPER: So you played a key role in the collapse of the Senate Republican health care bill.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to revive it. He is looking to hold a critical vote as early as Tuesday to begin debate over that health care bill. Will you vote yes to begin debate on the bill?
PAUL: Well, the real question is what are we moving to? What are we opening debate to?
Last week Senate leadership said it would be a clean repeal. Like the 2015 bill. In fact, the 2015 bill that we all voted for.
And I think that's a good idea. The other alternative is the Senate leadership bill that doesn't repeal Obamacare, is Obamacare light and is loaded with pork? It's become a pork fest where they're dumping billions of dollars into pet projects for individual senators.
I'm not for that because I'm just not for taxpayer money going to rich insurance executives and uber wealthy insurance industry. I just don't think the taxpayer should be funding that.
So it depends on what we go to. I have told them I will vote for a motion to proceed if we're proceeding to the clean repeal vote if it fails, they can put up the monstrosity that they want to put forward but I'm not for that. Because I'm just not for the taxpayer subsidizing private industry.
TAPPER: You've talked up the idea of repealing Obamacare first and then worrying about a replacement down the road.
Back in January you said something different. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: We need to think through how we do this and it's a huge mistake for Republicans if they do not vote for replacement on the same day as we vote for repeal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So that was your take in January. A huge mistake then. Why do you have a different opinion today?
PAUL: Actually, I still like that guy from January. I still agree with him because really I've always been talking about replace at the same time.
The problem is Republicans can't seem to agree on what replacement means. To me, replacement is legalizing inexpensive insurance. Which means the federal government doesn't regulate it and we will allow the sale of inexpensive insurance again, legalizing the ability to join an association across state lines.
I thought that is what we as Republicans believed in. But it turns out many Republicans actually believe in this giant insurance bailout super fund. Nearly $200 billion that they're going to give to the rich insurance executives and rich insurance companies.
So I'm not for that. And so if we can do both at the same time, absolutely, I'm still for that. I could even say you could do it in separate bills.
And that's the other thing I've been saying. I'm looking for a way to get this done. If you divide it into a cleaner repeal and then you take the pork fest and big government spending and put that into another bill, I think they probably get Democrats. Because I don't know a Democrat that won't vote for a big spending bill.
They could work with Democrats if they want bigger government and let conservative vote for a repeal of Obamacare.
TAPPER: You're clearly disappointed in the fellow Senate Republicans who voted to -- for just a clean repeal in the past but have said that they are not willing to do so now.
I guess the question is how disappointed are you? Will you be comfortable with conservative groups targeting those senators? Should they face primary challenges?
PAUL: I think disappointed is the right way to put it. You know, I think what is really occurred to me is so many of these Republicans in Washington, not out in the hinterland (ph) when you go home you find that most Republicans still want full repeal.
But what disappoints me about Senate Republicans, they seem to have insufficient confidence in what made America great. What made America great were not insurance regulations, insurance stabilization funds. What made us great is leaving people free to trade with each other, not regulating trade, getting the government out of it.
There has to be regulations (INAUDIBLE) done at the state level. But having this -- they're going to keep in place the Obamacare regulatory structure that causes the death spiral. The death spiral will continue under the Republican plan.
They're just going to subsidize it by giving billions and billions of dollars to insurance companies. And it's just really not what we're for. This isn't what we ever were for.
TAPPER: Should there be primary? Should there be primary?
PAUL: I don't know how we got there.
TAPPER: Should there be primary?
PAUL: That's for somebody else to decide. But the thing is that I am disappointed. We'll continue to express disappointment and wish we could be what we said we were.
We won four (ph) elections. We owe it to the voters to do what we said. And that we should have confidence that we can present market alternatives.
Twenty-seven million people don't have insurance under Obamacare. Half of them can't get it because it's too expensive because of Obamacare regulations.
We should be for repealing all of the regulations and saying we're going to get those people insurance. We're not going to have people losing insurance like CBO says. We're going to actually have people insured that never could get insurance under Obamacare.
But we can't make the argument because these people don't believe in the marketplace like they ought to.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about Made in America week. President Trump, of course, when he took the oath of office he made a very clear promise. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will follow two simple rules. Buy American and hire American.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I'm not going to go through the litany of Trump clothing products that are made in China and other parts of the world that are not America. But we learned this week in addition that Trump's businesses have once again taken steps to hire foreign workers.
Trump's Mar-a-Lago club and his golf course in Jupiter, Florida have filed documents to bring in additional foreign workers under the H-2B visa program.
Is this a problem for the president saying one strong thing about buying and hiring American while his businesses do the complete opposite?
PAUL: You know, I think all of us have this goal to buy American. But we have to think this thing through. Trade is a little bit -- you got to go beneath the surface to get and scratch beneath the surface.
For example, I get shirts at Wal-Mart. I get them for $7.00 sometimes. Amazing deal.
Target, the same way. And the thing is is that that money that you save for ordinary working people is an enormous amount. It is between $800 to $1,000 a year the ordinary person saves.
And a lot of that stuff unfortunately isn't made here. But those people are richer because they got their shirts a lot cheaper.
Used to be a shirt just a regular button up shirt might be $20.00, $25.00. And still might be in places. And at Wal-Mart, it's $7.00.
And so that savings though allows working class people to have savings to get a television set, to go on vacation, to buy gas for their truck. So trade is really a good thing.
And we can't get too caught up in exactly where it's made. But we want our country to be strong by lowering regulations and taxes so we can compete.
TAPPER: It's an interesting point about helping low income individuals who shop at Target and Wal-Mart. But, of course, Mar-a- Lago the membership fee is $200,000 a year so it's not really relevant when it comes to those foreign workers that they're trying to hire.
PAUL: Yes, it's a different situation. But I think for arguing whether trade is good or bad and trying to figure it out -- and I think we all want American jobs and I think it's important to know that we have a corporate income tax of 35 percent.
I talked to a lot of businesses in Kentucky. And I try to make sure that the workers know that if we think oh, we're going to tax those evil corporations, they'll be less American jobs and less, you know, profit to be spread around the American economy.
You have got to lower the corporate income tax. You also got to lower the regulatory burden.
This is what the previous administration was killing America with. So there is a way to get towards the buy America philosophy if we will try to get rid of the regulations, excessive regulations and taxes that make us less competitive with the world.
TAPPER: As somebody who cites the constitution all the time, holds it up as an important document, I'm wondering about your view, "The Washington Post" reported this week President Trump has asked his advisors about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself.
As an amateur constitutional scholar, if I can call you that, in your opinion does the president have the authority to pardon himself?
PAUL: I think in all likelihood he does. I think that some of this hasn't been adjudicated.
I think what the courts typically find is when something happens politically between separation of powers or between a power of one particular body, a lot of times they kind of say it's up to the electors to decide this. And so a lot of things get kicked back in to political sphere.
I think in a political sphere I would caution someone to think about pardoning themselves or family members or et cetera. But I also understand his frustration.
Because, you know, what's going on here and I think the person who put it best say guy named Herbert Butterfield, who wrote "The Whig Interpretation of History." And he said if you look back at something in history, even recent history and say, well, there must be collusion, you find it everywhere you look because every time someone met with the Russian you think, oh, it's part of the master conspiracy plan. When in reality it's your mind creating some sort of linearity to history or meaning to history that is actually much more random.
TAPPER: The dulcet tones of Herbert Butterfield.
Thank you so much, Senator Rand Paul. It's always good to have you on. Appreciate it.
PAUL: Thank you.
TAPPER: You could feel the love at the White House podium this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCARAMUCCI: I love the president and I'm very, very loyal to the president. I want to serve the president.
I love the mission of that the president has. I think he has some of the best political instincts in the world and perhaps in history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That was new White House Communication Director Anthony Scaramucci.
We are here with our panel now and David Urban who won Pennsylvania for Trump and, boy, Scaramucci also doing double duty but you're a press guy today as well, said a lot of very forceful and (INAUDIBLE) things.
Mike Allen of "Axios" wrote that Trump is building a wartime cabinet. That's part of what's going on right now in terms of the shuffling. Is Scaramucci part of that?
DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: I think Anthony is a guy that the president likes, has a great deal of confidence in. Was on the team early, is a great defender, very articulate, great-looking guy, a big head of hair and engages with you Jake very nicely for a half hour. It was a pleasure to watch as a smart guy.
The president trusts him, likes him. And I think -- I don't think he's building a war-type guy. I think he's putting in some new players.
I think Sean Spicer, a great patriot. I like the guy. I've known him for a long time.
Anthony just brings a different skill set to the table.
TAPPER: What do you think?
JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: I love that interview as well. He's a happy warrior. I did have to note, though, the tweets that he had before.
I mean, if you told me that the president was going to point head of communications who was pro-choice, anti-gun, pro gay marriage who praised Hillary Clinton, who called Trump a hack, who is pro climate -- or believes in climate change, who is anti-wall, you know, I'd say, that's my kind of guy.
TAPPER: Doesn't hold those positions any more though (ph).
URBAN: No, no. That's not necessarily true. He's there.
GRANHOLM: Trump (ph) (INAUDIBLE).
URBAN: So, I would say that, you know, as a communications director you are there, you represent your client. Anthony represents the client, the president of the United States.
Anthony's views are not material here, the president use a material.
GRANHOLM: No. I totally agree. But don't you think that inside of the base there will be some like, what is this?
URBAN: I think the base will judge performance by performance not by Anthony's views.
TAPPER: What did you think?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's clear that the RNC faction's marriage with the Trump group was rocking and this is another part of that. He's from the more New York crowd.
I think as a result he doesn't have to reach out all the time to Trump and say, look, I'm proving myself. I'm proving myself. And you see that in a more relaxed demeanor.
But there is love there. There's a fuse (ph) of love there. The question is is that love for a purpose which is to bolster himself with the president in such a way that he can go in there and say, look, here's what I think we can do.
And I think he could bring a plan for communications that it doesn't seem to me that the White House has right now. It's just personalities instead of a portfolio and a plan.
If he can bring a plan and convince the president that would do him well, I think they would be moving in a better direction.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISER, MOVEON.ORG: Look, Donald Trump continues to treat his life as if it's a reality T.V. And it's not a -- to me it's not a communication's problem here. That's not what the issue is.
You have an unpopular president who's pursuing unpopular policies and who also is getting worsening and deepening with legal problems. That is -- that is where we are with this president right now.
And the things that he has been able to pass because he hasn't been able to pass any major pieces of legislation, has been divisive and unpopular as well. The Muslim ban, if you look at the Paris accord, pulling us out of that deal, trying to get rid of Obamacare.
That's what he's trying to do. And that is the problem is Donald Trump, not who the communication director is.
URBAN: I would say there's other (ph) communications issues and that unemployment, right, we've heard, low unemployment here, 4.4 percent. Stock market through the roof.
Regulations, cut. Defense spending up. I mean, this president is doing a lots that is not being communicated effectively. I think you heard Anthony talk about -- I think you heard John King talk about it earlier this morning.
I think you'll hear a lot more of that. So I do think -- I disagree with that. I think there's a communications issue.
JEAN-PIERRE: But here's the thing, so, he has these themes of the week.
Last week was Made in America, which is ironic because you're talking about a campaign that was made in Russia. But anyway, with that, he blows it up.
Donald Trump blows it up every week. So, he cannot keep on message.
TAPPER: That was something I tried to get at with him. But Anthony basically seemed to send a message that there is no getting -- the president can't step on himself because he's the president, we all work for him.
HAM: I think there's some truth in the fact. Like he's equal parts disease and remedy sometimes. Because he is --
TAPPER: The president?
HAM: Yes. He is the reason that he's in the White House and because he did things drastically differently that he got there.
So there's a reason that he thinks that he should keep doing this. If there is somebody on something like an infrastructure week who has the authority and no one has thus far to say, look, this is how we should do things and you shouldn't blow it up. They could be on a slightly better path than they are on now.
The question is is he that person? Is anyone that person?
GRANHOLM: Yes. I mean, you've got a president though that is now talking about this issue of pardoning.
There is -- there's a reason why there is no -- there is no precedent for can a president pardon himself? It's because no president in the history of the republic has had the audacity or the moral depravity to think that he is above the law.
If he did, let's just assume that he does something dramatic like that. He would throw the country into a constitutional crisis.
You would have that going up to the Supreme Court. He has appointed the fifth vote on the Supreme Court. Anthony Kennedy, please stay on.
If he did that, Congress would step -- you'd see the crack in rise up. Congress would step in. If he decided he was going to fire Mueller, you'd have state attorney's (ph) general stepping in. You would have the Congress putting -- doing those things.
URBAN: I just think it's a long, long way, Governor, the tweet -- what the president tweeted out wasn't, I'm looking to pardoning myself. He said, the president's authority to pardon is complete.
That's (ph) what it said. So let's not read -- (CROSSTALK)
TAPPER: No. Why would he tweet that?
HAM: Yes. Why would he tweet that?
URBAN: The president, as you heard, I watched your show last night with Michael Smerconish, good lawyer.
URBAN: (INAUDIBLE) a good lawyer would do you'll get all your options, they're on the table.
He's not saying --
GRANHOLM: They're saying to Mueller. They are saying to Mueller, you are going to reign in or I am going to be -- fire him.
URBAN: No, I disagree. Governor, I disagree with you. I disagree completely.
I think the president was simply saying my ability to pardon is complete. Don't read that more expansively. I'm not.
JEAN-PIERRE: Usually there's always -- there's a lot of noise coming out of the White House and you're not really, it's not really clear what signal to pay attention to.
He made it real clear last week. It was his intensions on what he wanted to do, which is, if he wants to either obstruct or derail this investigation. And if he doesn't do that, he wants to get Sessions out of the way and to make sure that Mueller is fired.
He made that very, very clear.
TAPPER: You disagree with --
URBAN: I disagree. Listen -- I disagree.
TAPPER: I mean, he said if I had known that Sessions was going to recuse himself, I would have never given him the job.
URBAN: Because I think the president was entitled to that information before you appoint somebody. If you say, I'm going to step down as soon as I get appointed, I think you should probably know that before being appointed.
TAPPER: The chronology of that doesn't work out, David. He was named in November, his testimony for confirmation hearing was January and then he recused himself in March. How was he supposed to know in November that any of this stuff was going to happen?
URBAN: Yes, I understand. But I think -- to your point, Jake, but I understand I think the president, he would have gone to the president beforehand and said, no, before he did. I think he should have had a discussion with the president is my point.
TAPPER: Can I just -- I just want to bring up one thing that doesn't have to do this. We were all unanimous at this table thinking about John McCain and looking at the picture that his daughter, Meghan, tweeted this weekend of them going for a walk. Praying for John McCain.
There is one person who -- Kelli Ward who challenged John McCain in the primary in 2016 is now going to run against Senator Jeff Flake. Here's what -- she wants the governor of Arizona to appoint her to McCain's seat. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DR. KELLI WARD, GOP SENATE CANDIDATE IN ARIZONA: I hope that Senator McCain is going to look long and hard at this that his family and his advisers are going to look at this and they're going to advise him to step away as quickly as possible.
You probably realize that with John McCain out of commission, we don't have 51 votes.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: And on Friday afternoon she put out a written statement in which she said -- quote -- "These end of life choices are never easy."
David, this is pretty awful.
URBAN: That's -- Kelli Ward -- I think in this table Kelli Ward should step away as quickly as possible. That's a horrific thing to say.
She should apologize. It's a terrible thing to say. Senator McCain is a patriot, great American and shame on her.
TAPPER: Thanks, everyone, for being here. Really appreciate it.
As President Trump now six months on the job gets a crash course in leading the free world. He's also boning up on the past and that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."
TAPPER (voice-over): Comedy central has drunk history and the White House has Trump history. This week's episode, "French history."
TRUMP: France is America's first and oldest ally. A lot of people don't know that.
TAPPER: Fresh off his Paris trip, the president shared his new-found knowledge suggesting Paris' grand landmarks were designed by Napoleon the emperor and conqueror, actually they were designed by a different Napoleon, his nephew.
But who can keep it all straight it is French history, after all. Perhaps Professor Trump is more comfortable with American politics.
TRUMP: Why was there a civil war?
TAPPER: Such as this comment about his political hero Andrew Jackson.
TRUMP: He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the civil war. He said there is no reason for this.
TAPPER: Jackson, of course, died 16 years before the civil war even started.
President Trump said he's a big fan of history, just sometimes seems like it's his own version of history. But he's the biggest fan of it.
TRUMP: Abraham Lincoln, great president. Most people don't even know he was a Republican, right? Does anyone know?
TAPPER: Thanks for watching.
"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts right now.