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INSIDE POLITICS

White House Asked to Save Don Jr. Documents; Sean Spicer Resigns; Anthony Scaramucci Hired. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 21, 2017 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:00:21] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us. And a busy breaking news Friday it is.

Senate Republicans and what was supposed to be a big Obamacare repeal week, but they're in a state of confusion. If your health care is in flux and you need answers from Washington, do not expect them anytime soon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: You can't have your central promise for seven years be we'll repeal Obamacare and then you show up and vote not even to take up the bill to consider repealing Obamacare. That's doesn't make any sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Plus, we know President Trump wants a new chapter with Vladimir Putin, but his hand-picked CIA director has a message for the boss -- proceed with caution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: They'll have a warm-water naval port and they love to stick it to America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Up first, though, some exclusive CNN reporting. The special counsel, Robert Mueller, now asking the White House to save all records related to Donald Trump Jr.'s campaign year meeting with Kremlin connected Russians. In a letter to the White House, the special counsel makes clear, that meeting is now part of his investigation into whether there was any improper coordination or collusion between team Trump and the Kremlin.

CNN's Dana Bash broke that story. She's live with us now for more.

Dana, a big deal that the special counsel puts this on the record. What is he asking? DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're right, CNN

has learned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller sent a letter to White House counsel asking that White House staff save all documents relating to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, as well as a Russian lawyer.

Now, according to a source I spoke with who read the letter, the request pertains to any subjects discussed in the course of the meeting, and, also, any decisions made regarding recent disclosures about the June 2016 meeting. Now, Mueller's letter clearly connects this request to the larger Russia investigation. I want to read you part of what was read to me.

"As you are aware, the special counsel's office is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump. Information concerning the June 2016 meeting between Donald J. Trump Jr. and Natalia Vselnitskaya is relevant to the investigation."

The preservation request includes text messages, John, e-mails, notes, voicemails, other communications and documentation related to the June 2016 meeting, as well as any related communications since then.

Now, I should note that requests like this are not uncommon and are often sent in the early stages of an investigation to ensure documents that could be relevant are not destroyed.

Now, this is also significant, John, because it is one of the first clear actions that we know about from the special counsel on this investigation, particularly as it relates to the White House. Now, a White House spokeswoman told me that they don't comment on internal communications, and the special counsel's office declined to comment.

John.

KING: Important as well, Dana, in the sense that this was the June 2016 meeting. But as the news broke in recent weeks, we know, among other things, the president of the United States has talked about this, so those records would be relevant to this request. And there was a meeting on Air Force One as the president came back from Europe about a White House statement. What issue -- what statement should the White House issue in response to all this. I assume that, too, the Trump presidency, not just documents about what happened in 2016, subject to this?

BASH: That's exactly right. It certainly sounds this way from the way that Robert Mueller phrased his request. The preservation request seems to apply to all communications about the response, as you said, to the meeting. Now, you may remember "The New York Times" first reported that the initial response to media inquiries about the Trump Jr. meeting was crafted by some of the president's closest White House aides who were traveling back with him from Europe.

Now our colleagues Evan Perez and Sara Murray reported last week that being involved in crafting a response may have exposed those White House aides to special counsel scrutiny. Now usually it's a legal matter like this and it would be handled by attorneys given that it is a Russia investigation. But if they were communications people or other senior White House aides, they could get caught up in this.

KING: They could get caught up, or at least have to turn over those records, have at least a brief conversation with the special council's investigators.

Dana Bash with the breaking news.

Dana, thank you very much.

Now, that big development comes amid several big changes at the Trump White House. Number one, we are told the job offer has been made to a potential new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci. He's a Wall Street investor. He's a fan of the president. He was due for another job in the administration. That one was pulled back. Anthony Scaramucci could be coming in to help the White House communication shop. We're tracking some reporting on that.

[12:05:01] Also a big shake-up in the president's legal team because of his mounting frustration with his own lawyers and, as Dana just noted, there's a blossoming special counsel investigation and the president is mad about that.

Now, in addition to bringing on new, experienced D.C. help, the president's team is said to be investigating the investigators, hoping to undermine the credibility of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team. The president hinted at that in that Oval Office interview on Wednesday with "The New York Times." Reporter Peter Baker asked this, "what would cause you -- what would be the line beyond which if Mueller went you would say, 'that's too far, we would need to dismiss him'?" To which the president replies, "look, there are so many conflicts that everybody has."

With us to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson, Jeff Mason of Reuters, Jonathan Lemire of "The Associated Press," and Karoun Demirjian of "The Washington Post."

Let's start with what we just heard from Dana. The special -- we knew the special counsel was going to look into this meeting, but we're never quite sure of the parameters. Here we go on the record with this.

I also want to -- before I get to the question, I want to report to you, CNN has now confirmed another big, dramatic change at the Trump White House. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, has submitted his resignation. Sean Spicer has been in hot water almost from day one of the administration. We know the president has repeatedly voiced his dissatisfaction internally with Sean Spicer.

You can connect the dots here. The president reaching out and hiring a new communications director. Anthony Scaramucci coming in. Sean Spicer now on the way out. So let's stop the conversation I was about to have about the president's attorney and let's start right here. It's all connected. This is a White House that has been in turmoil, in

chaos, in staff in-fighting since day one, that Sean Spicer is leaving, to the American people, the face of this president, less so in recent weeks because of the less -- fewer on-camera briefings and because his deputy had been put up into a higher role, but what does this tell us about the internal workings, the internal frustration of this White House right now?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean I think it confirms what we've known for a long time, which is, there is a great deal of turmoil and there are all of these separate camps, right? There's sort of the Priebus and the Spicer wing, the former Spicer wing. He was in that wing. And then there's also the president's family. And if you look at Scaramucci, Priebus and Spicer didn't necessarily like that appointment. But if you look at Scaramucci, he does sort of fit the Trumpian mold. They like the fact that he's good on TV. He's a hedge fund guy. He's often been a pretty eloquent defender of this president.

And I think, you know, if you look at Spicer's tenure, I think he probably became the most famous press secretary that we've ever seen in this country. The president didn't like that in many ways because part of that was that he also had a starring role on "SNL" in the form of Melissa McCarthy.

KING: Right.

HENDERSON: So, in some ways, this, I think, for a lot of people, was a long time coming. You could see his role recede. But then this finally came.

KING: Right. And to your point, and I want to welcome our viewers around the world who are joining us as well, CNN International picking up on our breaking news coverage. Again, the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, resigning today amid a broader White House shakeup. A new communications director being brought in. we know the president is also shaking up his legal team because of his frustration with the special counsel investigation and his frustration with advice and help he has been getting from his own team.

I believe CNN's Dana Bash is still with us as well on this breaking news story. Dana, we know, again, Sean Spicer's been -- we don't have Dana at the moment. OK, we'll get back to her as necessary.

You gentlemen covered the White House. The -- Sean Spicer has been in the president's fires, you know, since day one. Now, in part, it may be because the president doesn't like his high profile and part maybe because the president disagrees with how he handed this issue or that issue. But let's be honest, in part it's because of the president's -- a mess of the president's own making. Sean Spicer says, a, the president tweeds, z, within a day. What does this tell us?

JONATHAN LEMIRE, "ASSOCIATED PRESS": Right. Liberally on day one of the administration Sean Spicer stepped behind the podium in the briefing room and berated the media about the crowd size of the president's inauguration the day before. He took no questions and he stormed off. Right from there the template was set. This is someone who was going to have a contemptuous (ph) relationship with the press. Someone who is put in a difficult position sometimes to defend policies, or pronouncements, from this president. We all heard so many times that the tweet speaks for itself. He's put in a difficult position. And sometimes he didn't defend the president to the president's liking. He was up there sort of serving an audience of one, the president, who many days would structure this structure so he could watch the press briefing.

: But he has been a loyal soldier to Donald Trump.

LEMIRE: Yes.

HENDERSON: Yes.

JEFF MASON, "REUTERS": And that started with that first briefing that John is talking about. And he has done what the president wanted. And even in times when there have been reports that he was on the outs, the president has said, I like Sean Spicer. He just gets beaten up in the press. I think this Scaramucci move was clearly a slap to Sean and it looks like, although I haven't spoken to Sean since this just now broke --

KING: Right.

MASON: That Sean himself just couldn't accept that.

KING: Well, there's been the two competing lines out of the White House during the past couple of months in that Sean Spicer was going to step into a different role. He is very close with Reince Priebus, the chief of staff. Reince Priebus himself has been in trouble with the president from time to time. The president has looked for a new chief of staff, decided to keep Reince Priebus in part because they can't get the caliber of candidates they wanted to come in.

[12:10:03] I know at least three people whose senior officials at the White House reached out to asking them to be the next press secretary.

HENDERSON: Right and --

KING: And Mr. Scaramucci not among them.

HENDERSON: Yes.

KING: Three others people who said they were not interested. But at the same time those conversations were happening, Sean Spicer was -- the word out of the White House of the Spicer wing was that he was going to pick his successor. So we have these competing factions in the Trump White House, again, six months mark was yesterday.

MASON: And I think he was comfortable moving out of that limelight. He had that six-month period where he was sort of the center stage for briefings, for better or worse, but he was interested in doing sort of more strategic communications. And that opportunity apparently has been taken away. KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": It's also, when you're in

that job, that is potentially in most line of -- in the line of fire job that there is at the White House because every single time something has gone wrong with -- for the White House, they have blame that on it being a communications problem, before they start to actually look and see, is there a substantive issue here, is there a legal issue. It's a communications problem, blame the front man. So it's --

LEMIRE: And it points -- it points to different factions within the West Wing that, you know, Scaramucci is someone who's tight with Jared Kushner, he's tight with some of the Trump sons, the loyalists back in New York.

KING: Right.

LEMIRE: You know, Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus were vehemently opposed to him coming into this position and we -- that's what prompted the resignation today.

KING: Right. And, again, six months into the administration, you see these competing factions. There's the Republican Washington establishment, Republican National Committee establishment, which is Reince Priebus, the chief of staff, his longtime loyalist deputy Sean Spicer. The deputy chief of staff, Katie Walsh, left earlier. She was part of that wing.

Now you have the Steve Bannon, sort of the populist wing, which has receded from public attention but is still there. Don't count Steve Bannon out. He's gone up and down in power. And now you have what you would call the New York wing --

HENDERSON: Yes.

KING: Or Jevanka (ph) as Bannon refers to it. That --

DEMIRJIAN: Right.

KING: Not in a -- not in a nice way, shall we say.

The Wall Street faction, which as late, though, the word has been that they've at least found detente, that they're trying to figure this out, that they all understand it's been a disservice to the president that they have all this in-fighting, although the president self- stokes it sometimes.

I want to bring in CNN's Jessica Schneider, who I'm told has more on this dramatic breaking news.

Again, the fact of the Trump White House -- the president of the United States is the face of the Trump White House. He has made that clear. But Sean Spicer, known to many people in the United States and around the world as the face of the Trump White House, the spokesman for the administration.

Jessica Schneider, this is a big, dramatic day. JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A big morning -- a big, dramatic morning here at the White House, John, that's for sure.

You know, Sean Spicer's resignation coming really just minutes after it was announced that Anthony Scaramucci would be White House communications director. We know that Sean Spicer has essentially been filling that role of communications director in tangent with his press secretary role since Mike Dubke resigned at the end of May.

But, of course, it really has been a rocky road for Sean Spicer since this administration began on January 20th. Of course, there was that first press conference that Sean Spicer did on inauguration day where he went out there at the request of the president to dispute the media's reports of the crowd size at the inauguration itself.

And, of course, we've seen in recent weeks really the sidelining of Sean Spicer. He has no -- he has not been present for that press briefing very often, in fact. Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, she has been front and center on those audio only briefings that we have not been airing the video of. But Sean Spicer, he really has taken that step back, at least in the public eye. And we know that President Trump has continually expressed displeasure with the communications team, with Sean Spicer as well.

But we do know that this resignation taking effect just a few minutes ago. He has resigned as press secretary here at the White House. And, again, it's interesting to note that this resignation coming really minutes after the White House has named and asked Anthony Scaramucci to be communications director. We understand that, of course, there could be some sort of rift between Sean Spicer and Scaramucci. We know that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus was not pleased with the possible appointment of Scaramucci as White House communications director. So really a seismic shift for this White House at a time where they've come under siege with this Russia investigation.

So today coming out of the White House, Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigning. He will no longer be at that podium that he's become so famous for being behind.

John.

KING: Jessica Schneider, we'll get back to you at the White House. Continue your reporting. We'll come back to you as developments warrant.

Let's come back into the room.

And, again, let's try to put this in a bit of context in the sense that Sean Spicer is one person who serves the president. The president has a big staff. But as you listening to Jessica go through the anatomy of how this plays out, the president's chief of staff did not want this to happen.

HENDERSON: Right. Yes.

KING: The president's chief of staff. The gatekeeper to the president. In most White Houses, and this White House functions differently -- I covered the White House for ten years. This White House functions differently than any White House I'm familiar with in almost 30 years here in Washington.

But the chief of staff is the gatekeeper. If the chief of staff can't get his way -- and I'm going to bring Dana Bash back into the conversation as well -- if the chief of staff can't get his way on a major personnel issue, Dana, what does it tell us about the continuing internal in-fighting in Trumpland?

BASH: Well, I think it's in-fighting, but I think it's also something much more prominent that this reminds us of, that the president of the United States is very much in charge of his communications strategy. And let's just face it, if he could get the title of communications director, maybe that would be the most appropriate title for him to share with the president -- with also being president of the United States.

[12:15:15] I just got off the phone with somebody who's familiar with Sean Spicer's thinking who told me that when it became clear that Scaramucci was going to be the communications director, Sean said, wait a second, if that is the case, if his title is communications director, then that effectively means that I, Sean, will probably be doing two jobs, both spokesperson and communications director. For those who, you know, out there who may not understand, communications director is supposed to be more strategic thinking, looking ahead, crafting the message, as opposed to just delivering the message.

And the reason he kind of settled on that realization is because Scaramucci has no experience in communications. He has no experience in Washington. He has no experience in that kind of strategy. And so Sean said, you know what, this is the last straw. You know, he made the decision I think today when it became official, and he said, I'm out of here.

The other thing, John, that this also -- it underscores and underlines and highlights is how important the television presence is to President Trump. The representation that he has on camera, on TV, is so, so critical that he, the president, wanted Scaramucci out there because he loves him on TV. He's a "killer," which is what he calls him behind the scenes, and he's always wanted Scaramucci, who he's been close with since the New York days, in the administration and has been trying to figure out a way to do it. Communications director, the title was open. He, the president, likes Scaramucci on TV. So he brought those two together. And this after everything that we have seen, the topsy-turvy world of Sean Spicer as White House press secretary, it was this that was the final straw.

KING: Dana Bash, appreciate that. Stick around and continue your reporting.

As we do, let's come back into the room.

Again, to this point, it's a very different president and a very different structure in the White House in the sense that the communications director, in most administrations, is behind the scenes. They're looking at the calendar and says, Mr. President, you hit the six-month mark on Friday. We're going to have you do this event. We're going to have Republican governors do this event. And the cabinet's going to fan out do this. You're going to go do a big speech on this. Boom, boom, boom. It's more of a strategic planning behind the scenes role.

But the president -- you were making this point, we were having the conversation earlier as this was breaking -- the president watches cable news in the morning.

HENDERSON: Right.

KING: Anthony Scaramucci is a frequent guest on CNN's "NEW DAY" and he's a very effective --

HENDERSON: He's very good, yes.

KING: He's a very, very effective spokesman for this president. And I say this as a compliment. He does combat with the news anchors when he thinks he should do combat. He talks about -- he has also been, at times, candidly critical of the team at the president's side up until today, which includes Sean Spicer.

LEMIRE: That's right. And the president values that. That's why he likes Kellyanne Conway so much because she's willing to go on camera and joust with who -- whatever -- whoever is trying to criticize the White House, and more particularly the president. This is also a moment, though, isn't this the time when this White House needs to be the most sort of unified with all the oars rowing in the same direction with the Russia probe growing exponentially? And yet this is highlighting just how -- the schism that's in there. This is a president who loves chaos. He elects tumult. He did in the business world. He did in the campaign. He likes having rival factions underneath him. But this might be a moment where he's not well served by that strategy.

HENDERSON: Yes.

KING: And that's a great point. The question is, is this a reset --

HENDERSON: Right.

KING: Six months in? New administration. The president had no experience in politics. None of the people around him had ever worked in a White House before. The senior people in the administration. Is this a reset where the president realizes, OK, we haven't been getting this right and we have a new team, or is -- or --

HENDERSON: Is this more --

KING: Or is Mr. Scaramucci about to become the latest person the president gets mad at?

HENDERSON: Right. Well --

KING: We were going to start the show with that he's been mad at his outside attorney, Marc Kasowitz, so he shakes up the legal team. He's been mad at Sean Spicer, so he puts Sarah Huckabee Sanders more in the forefront and pull Sean Spicer back. He was mad at Reince Priebus. He was at tone time made at Steve Bannon.

HENDERSON: Yes.

KING: Is this just Scaramucci's turn to have the president be mad at him, or is this part of a more strategic reset for an administration that, six months in, Obamacare is the law of the land. They're nowhere on tax reform. They're nowhere on infrastructure. And you have a special counsel investigation that is blossoming.

HENDERSON: Yes, does he essentially just enable the president in his essentially flawed communications strategy. I mean you think about what he did this week. It's supposed to be about health care. He gives this very long interview to "The New York Times" where he trashes Jeff Sessions. I mean is -- is Scaramucci going to be the person who can say, no, Mr. President, you're not going to sit in an interview alone, right?

KING: The answer's, no.

HENDERSON: And the --

KING: The evidence -- the evidence is that the answer is no.

HENDERSON: And the evidence is -- yes. Yes.

KING: That the president would go into the Oval Office with Hope Hicks and "The New York Times" reporting team and the rest of the senior White House staff, including his outside legal team would have to find out what he said by listening to a tape recording. He has not said so publicly, but I believe with everything I've based on from conversations with friends that that's one of the reasons another key player, Mark Corala (ph), who was a communications guru helping the president's legal team resigned yesterday.

I understand our senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny is on the phone with us.

[12:20:04] Jeff, just help put into context. You've been covering this story from day one. Sean Spicer's up, Sean Spicer's down, Sean Spicer's on the outs. This -- the day is finally here. There have been many for some time, including a lot of Sean's friends who have said, how much can he take? How much will he take, being undermined by the president and pushed aside inside the White House? Well, today, he resigned.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): No question, John.

And I think a key point here is, as we're talking to our sources in the White House, as well as Republicans close to the White House who want this president to succeed, they say that Sean Spicer believed this morning, really for one of the first times, that the president was doing something that would not allow him to succeed. Sean is a creature of Washington. Sean believes deeply in, you know,

the -- the process and how things work and he thought that he could be the most helpful to the president in this way. But by hiring Anthony Scaramucci, it essentially, you know, makes the point clear, which has been sort of emerging, that the president wants to be his own communications director. The president wants to be his own press secretary. And he does not want help from those in Washington. This is now more of an outside game. This is now more of a fight. This is about the Russia investigation. This is much less about the agenda here.

So I think, you know, the writing has been on the wall, John, in so many different respects. I remember being at the Vatican just at the end of May when Sean Spicer was slighted by not being invited. He was hoping to be there that day. He was not invited on the -- the trip to Paris last week. He has -- he's been disinvited from the briefing room. So in so many different slights.

But I am told today the final straw was when he was effectively said he wasn't needed here because it became less of a, you know, of what do you know about Washington game than an outside Trump game. So the walls are essentially tightening in a little bit and it's more -- people from Trump Tower, the New York world, who are here for this president.

KING: Well, at that one -- and Jeff stand by if you can as we continue the conversation.

If that -- to that point, it's interesting. If you're watching out there in America, you're watching around the world, a single staff change at the White House may mean nothing to your life. The question is, what does it do to the operation and the functioning of the presidency, the type of people who have access to the president, the strategy he takes on these big issues, whether it's, how much do you cooperate? Do you continue to have people investigate and try to undermine a special counsel investigation? That's dangerous.

Do you -- how much do you try to bang heads and try to figure out this Republican health care mess on Capitol Hill? Or do you way, forget about it. You can't solve that. Let's move on to tax reform?

This is important, who's in the room to try to advise the president. But I think one of the lessons Jeff Zeleny hit on and Jessica Schneider hit on it, Dana Bash hit on it, everybody at this table has hit on it, is that they make plans often but -- and the president of the United States is in on those plans, signs off on those plans, but then he wakes up one day, sees something on televisions, picks up the phone and starts tweeting and, kaboom. Is this again -- is this a reset moment or is this a continuation of the chaos moment?

MASON: This White House just functions completely differently from other White Houses and it has taken us six months to see that and it keeps happening on things like this today, on interviews that you mentioned. I mean there are sometimes interviews that happen in the Oval Office that the communications shop doesn't know are going to happen. I mean that -- it's just a completely different style of governing and of running a White House.

And I think it's important also to note, you're talking about Scaramucci being good on television and sparring with reporters, but the communications job is a lot more than that.

HENDERSON: Right.

MASON: You have to work with the press. You have to work with the White House Correspondents Association. You have to deal with overall strategy on messaging, on who you -- who you reach out to, how you present the president's message in a very difficult environment.

HENDERSON: And you have to have, I think, a vision, right, and --

KING: Plus, plus, in a better -- in a perfect world with the state Republican parties, with the Republican governors, with the Republican membership in Congress, with the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of --

HENDERSON: It would help to know those pieces, right.

KING: All the pieces of the Republican coalition, which six months into this administration has happened almost none.

DEMIRJIAN: And if the idea is that -- I mean, again, that's the traditional way of doing things and the way that makes, you know, strategic sense if you want to work with people. But if -- they've basically decided at this point the president does not want to go that way, wants to push out the influence of everyone who's a Washington insider, wants to bring in other people that are going to serve a limited role in what they do because it's all they can do. That, I mean, is a strange decision but it may be the way he's deciding to go about things because he's pretty unorthodox.

LEMIRE: He also values over anything the idea of loyalty.

DEMIRJIAN: Yes.

LEMIRE: And Scaramucci is someone who has been an ardent backer -- although it was not an initial supporter but has since become an ardent backer.

DEMIRJIAN: Right.

LEMIRE: But he's also always sort of held it against the RNC wing, which includes his chief of staff, for not fully believing in him for a while. For waffling at moments during the campaign whether Trump would be the nominee. He has teased his chief of staff repeatedly about being late to the Trump party.

DEMIRJIAN: Look, this also depends in large part on how much Scaramucci is able to -- how much he wants to do this job and how well he can manage up. Because as we've seen, you know, it all depends on if you are in Trump's good graces, if he feels like you're on his side, on his team. And that hasn't worked for other people who are used to basically saying, OK, we're, you know, trying to help you here by being a little antagonistic behind the scenes. That doesn't sit well with him. So does (INAUDIBLE) --

[12:25:08] MASON: (INAUDIBLE) pro-loyalty, though, I think it's important to emphasize, Sean Spicer was loyal.

HENDERSON: Very, very loyal.

KING: Right.

MASON: And he --

KING: To a fault.

HENDERSON: Yes. Yes.

MASON: If they had -- if they had disagreements about strategy, we didn't see them, from the podium or behind the scenes.

HENDERSON: Yes. In some ways damaging --

KING: Right.

HENDERSON: Yes, and in some ways damaging his own standing in credibility --

MASON: Yes.

HENDERSON: Over these last six months in service of this president.

KING: Damages --

MASON: Right.

KING: No question damages --

MASON: (INAUDIBLE) the president see (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Yes, damage his standing with reporters and long-term relationships with reporters in town to defend the president, at times saying things that we all knew were not factual and not defensible, but he did it out of loyalty to the president. You're absolutely right there.

We can show you the Briefing Room. I believe we have some live pictures inside the White House Briefing Room. And I hope I haven't kept her waiting too long. I think we still have our Kaitlan Collins at the White House. Do we?

Kaitlan, if we do, I've been at the White House on days of big staff shake-ups and Sean Spicer is gone. He is one senior official at the White House, but there tends to be a domino effect either in people who work closely with him, who go with him, or just in the mood of the people in the building, because if somebody as senior as Sean Spicer is on shaky ground, everybody gets a little jittery.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, it's been a tumultuous morning here at the White House. Sean Spicer has made it six months and one day as press secretary, but he has resigned today after Anthony Scaramucci was named as the new White House communications director. We're told Sean was unhappy with that decision and he was kept out of the loop last night, as was Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon about Scaramucci's hiring today. So today, after the -- after it was announced that he would be hired and before they announced it to the communications team, we are told that Sean Spicer has resigned.

Now, it's unclear, the White House says a statement is coming regarding Sean Spicer any minute now. And we are waiting to hear from that and we'll certainly let you know once we have it.

The White House has also said there will be a press briefing today, but we're not sure who will be briefing. We are told that Donald Trump wanted Sean Spicer to stay on as press secretary. He asked him to stay on in some role. But it's unclear what role Sean Spice would have fulfilled here because Sarah Sanders, as you know, has been handling most of the press briefings lately. And with Anthony Scaramucci taking on the communications job, he would be in charge of the messaging strategy coming out of the West Wing. So we're not sure what Sean Spice would have left to do.

So we are told he has resigned. He was in the room as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus welcomed Scaramucci in. We're told that though Sean Spicer is really upset, from a White House official, that he was there and said he was willing to help Scaramucci transition into the role and gave him a round of applause.

KING: Kaitlan Collins at the White House. Keep in touch ad developments warrant.

To that point, Sean Spicer and I have had a few exchanges during the Trump presidency over issues, but he has always been a pro. And to Jeff Mason's point, a loyal pro, the fact that he would help with the transition, no surprise there.

Just a little White House 101. For those of you watching, the picture on the right side of your screen there , the reporters gathered in the Briefing Room. It's a little chaotic at times.

HENDERSON: wow.

KING: That door -- that door you see there, they're all trying to point their cameras through or get a gaze through. If you step in that door and turn to the right, you're in the lower press office, where the press secretary's deputies work. There are a couple of small offices there. There's a desk where -- that's one of the places where you get the sense of the mood at the White House. The kid at that desk, right inside that door, often gives you a sense of what the mood is in the White House.

If you turn left and go up the stairs, if you keep going straight, you head into the West Wing and past the Oval Office. If you go up the stairs and hook to the right, then you get to the press secretary's traditional prime real estate in the West Wing. Will Anthony Scaramucci take that? Will Anthony Scaramucci take some other office in the West Wing? The communications director tends to get one without the windows, or not as prime real estate there.

LEMIRE: Smaller office.

KING: Yes, a smaller office.

You know, we're making some light about this as we watch it, but the, you know, White House geography, White House real estate is important.

As we watch Sean Spicer go and Anthony Scaramucci come in, it is just an unmistakable fact that this is also a blow to the power of the White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

HENDERSON: Right.

KING: What message is the president sending his chief of staff?

HENDERSON: That you don't matter as much, in many ways. So, I mean, there was this sort of watch for Spicer and how long he stays on. And in some ways there has been a constant watch for Reince Priebus as well. And this, I think, is one of the biggest indications of how disempowered he is in that White House and how this president is doubling down on that inner circle of Javanka (ph) and now Scaramucci is apparently probably in that inner circle. I imagine if he wants a big office with windows, he might just get one.

KING: All right, do we still have Jeff Zeleny or did we lose him to reporting?

Jeff Zeleny --

ZELENY: I'm still here.

KING: Jump in to this conversation because you have been part of this drama from day one, as well as the people sitting here at the table with me. And this was always the -- I'll call it creative tension. Some people call it creative chaos within the Trump White House. You had a president of the United States who had a chief of staff and a press secretary, Sean Spicer, who were the Washington Republican establishment. You had Steve Bannon, who was the nationalist, the America first pitchfork wing who was going to tell the president from time to time, no, sir, don't become hostage of that establishment. Then you have the Manhattan, Gary Cohen came in as the chief economic adviser, Jared Kushner, the son-in-law, is an ambassador with broad portfolio, daughter Ivanka Trump representing more of the Manhattan wing. And truth be told, some of them, in the past, have been Democrats and they're much more moderate when it comes to Republican policy.

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