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Report: Scaramucci Declares War on White House West Wing; As Trump Weighs Sanctions Bill, Moscow Expels Diplomats, Trump's Wild Week from Boy Scouts to Chaos to Cursing; Scientist Saving Malaysian Sun Bear
Aired July 28, 2017 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] HENSON MOORE, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR GEORGE H. W. BUSH: And therefore, you limit the amount of people involved in something and you therefore limit the ability for any kind of meaningful leak to the press. And that's one way you get it done and that's the way I saw it done.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Mr. President, are you watching? Are you watching? Yes, Alex, quickly, go ahead.
ALEX CONANT, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON: I largely agree with what he just said. You need to have one person who's in charge. You can't have a communications director who reports directly to the president and a chief of staff. You need to have clear chains of command. Otherwise, you're going to have all sorts of factions forming and they're going to leak against each other as we've seen and the infighting will continue.
BALDWIN: Alex Conant, Henson Moore, thank you both so much.
President Trump facing a huge decision about whether to sign a new Russia sanctions bill, but as he decides, Russia today is retaliating. Hear what Vladimir Putin did to the U.S. diplomats and properties.
[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Russia retaliating today after congress passed a new sanctions bill against Moscow, a bill that is right now sitting on the president's desk. Vladimir Putin taking control of several U.S. diplomatic properties and ordering many U.S. diplomats and staff out of the country. But here's the question. Will president Trump sign this bill that cracks down on Russia for meddling in last year's election? The White House has been reluctant, saying it will hurt the president's chances to cooperate with Russia. Ben Judah, author of "Fragile Empire" is back with us today. Ben, nice to see you.
BEN JUDAH, AUTHOR OF "FRAGILE EMPIRE: HOW RUSSIA FELL IN AND OUT OF LOVE WITH PUTIN": Thank you.
BALDWIN: Let me just begin with a retaliation. Can you explain the significance of these moves, these sudden moves by the Kremlin?
JUDAH: The Kremlin's classic playbook is mirroring retaliation, any sanctions that the United States puts on Russia, it wants to be able to mirror them, to show that it too is a superpower that can bite at what matters to the United States. The problem for Russia is that whilst Russian money and Russian kleptocrats and Russian banks have lots of reasons and lots of interests in the United States, there isn't so much that the U.S. has in Russia that makes it vulnerable to leverage. So, what Putin has done is try and hit on U.S. diplomats and U.S. diplomatic services here. Is it comparable to the effects of the sanctions hitting banks, these sanctions hitting really the funding networks of Russian kleptocrats? Not really.
BALDWIN: But if the president goes on and signs this bill, how will Vladimir Putin react to that?
JUDAH: What it will mean if the president goes on to sign this bill is that hopes of a reset, hopes of a deal between Trump and Putin are dead. Because the core of this has always been Putin trying to lift sanctions. Why is Putin so desperate to lift sanctions? That's because Russia is a kleptocracy. They will take their money out of Russia and put it abroad and launder it through the wests and what the sanctions have done is limit and freeze a lot of their financial flows so he's desperate to lift them because it harms his partnership with the people around him.
Now, this bill, if passed, cements those sanctions. And it means that what Russia's meddling would have given it over the last election cycle in the U.S. is really very little, and it will be fitting in with what I see as a historical pattern of Russian overextension, of overplaying its hand, that we see in the 19th century and we see in actions that precipitated the Cold War.
BALDWIN: Well, it's a piece of legislation that is waiting for the president's autograph that had so much support within congress it is veto-proof. Ben Judah, we'll see what the fallout is either way.
Coming up next, if your head isn't entirely spinning from this crazy week in Washington, you have not been paying close enough attention. We'll discuss where the Trump administration goes from here.
[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Just in, we have Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski explaining her no vote on her party's bill to replace Obamacare. It reads, in part, "I voted no on health care last night because both sides must do better on process and substance. The affordable care act remains a flawed law that I am committed to reforming with a structure that works better for all Americans."
In case you missed the memo here, this was supposed to be American Heroes week at the White House, but instead, we saw White House cursing, White House infighting, presidential attacks on the attorney general, and even wild presidential speech to the Boy Scouts. The week that was. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I'm in front of the Boy Scouts? JARED KUSHNER, ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: Let me be very clear. I did
not collude with Russia.
TRUMP: A scout is trustworthy, loyal -- we could use some more loyalty.
TUCKER CARLSON, REPORTER, FOX NEWS: You've seen the president's criticism of you. Do you think it's fair?
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it's kind of hurtful.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Reince wants to explain that he's not a leaker, let him do that. Let me tell you something about myself. I am a straight shooter.
TRUMP: With the exception of the late great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that's ever held this office.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking overnight, the thumb heard around the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator John McCain gave this skinny repeal the thumbs down.
[15:45:00] MITCH MCCONNELL: So now, Mr. President, it's time to move on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: And that was just this week. Gloria Borger is with me from Washington, in the thick of things. Our chief political analyst here. And Gloria, my goodness, where to begin? How about just looking at the week that was, and do you foresee, as a result of all of the above, a major shake-up coming?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, the way things are progressing are kind of unsustainable. I would have to say to you. And I think the president of the United States has to make some decisions. He's got open warfare among his top staffers in the White House. And you had Anthony Scaramucci, as you know, openly speaking to Ryan Lizza, saying some pretty awful things, very awful things about the White House chief of staff, and the question is, was he channeling Trump himself? And Scaramucci seems emboldened. Reince Priebus has not been supported by people inside this White House.
And so, I think some, you know, some decisions have to be made by the president of the United States about the operation of his White House and how that impacts his agenda. And you know, you've got the sessions problem swirling out there. You've got the special counsel investigation. You've got a legislative agenda that is stalled. You have a president that announced transgender policy that was not cleared by the military. You have bullying that went on of Senator Murkowski that did not work. So, you know, there are a lot of issues here, and I think somebody needs to take stock about what's going on and how to try and right the ship. BALDWIN: So much attention has been paid to the new guy and of course
with the Lizza piece in "The New Yorker," you know, much ado about Scaramucci, but I just want to know more about Reince Priebus, the chief of staff, and what's his next move? I mean, is he just sort of head down, keep fighting the good fight or what?
BORGER: Well, it depends who you talk to, quite honestly. I've done some reporting along with my colleagues who cover the White House and it really does depend on who you talk to. Some people say, look, he's been looking for an elegant way to leave for a while and one hasn't appeared. Others are saying, the president is ready to say good-bye. Others are saying that Scaramucci's bad behavior this week gives Reince a new lease on life. So, it really depends on which faction you're talking to. And again, the only person who really actually knows what is going to occur is the president. Because he's the one who has to make the decisions here about personnel inside this White House, and I am sure the president himself, while to blame for many of these problems, does not believe that this is smooth sailing inside the White House.
BALDWIN: Let me share with you this quote from Sally Yates, an op-ed that was in today's "The New York Times," former attorney general issued this new warning. "The president is attempting to dismantle the rule of law, destroy the time-honored independence of the justice department and undermine the career of men and women who are devoted to seeking justice day in and day out regardless of which political party is in power. If we are not careful, when we wake up from the Trump presidency, our justice system may be broken beyond recognition."
Now, again, check the source. This is a woman who the president fired, so obviously she's critical. But we've also seen a number of Republican lawmakers this week openly critical. It was Lindsey Graham saying the bit about there will be holy hell if Sessions is fired in that White House. Is this a trend of more and more people, both left, right, and center standing up to the White House?
BORGER: I do. I think the sessions issue has inspired sort of bipartisan messages to the president that you can't do this. You can't -- you can't fire Jeff Sessions, whose job it is to be independent, and you have Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the senate judiciary committee, saying, Mr. President, if you fire Sessions, we don't have time to schedule a hearing on his replacement. How about that one.
[15:50:00] So, you know, Republicans who, by the way, like Jeff Sessions because he is conservative, and there are Democrats who don't like Jeff Sessions but believe in the independence of the justice department who say, this is a nonstarter, Mr. President. Be careful. Think about this. Because it will have repercussions for you.
BALDWIN: Gloria, thank you as always.
BALDWIN: Thank you. And let's take a moment now to honor this week's CNN hero.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIEW TE WONG, WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST IN MALAYSIA: When I first started 20 years ago, no one has ever studied sun bears. The more I learned about them, the more I cared. The more I care, the more I worry. I have to help them. And this is why I want to be the voice for the sun bear, to fight for the sun bear, to ensure the survival of the sun bear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: If you'd like to see the full story or nominate someone you know, go to CNNheroes.com.
[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: This week the series "History of Comedy" looks at how genius often has a dark side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD LEWIS, ACTOR, COMEDIAN: I despise myself from pretty much close to getting out of the womb. I was always wrong, let's start with that. When you're always wrong, you seek an audience to disprove that theory. I was just hell-bent on having to prove myself. I know I'm right. I can't be always wrong, you know, I was the victim.
My father was a very strange man. He was kind of a performance artist that was fueled by beer.
Over-shy and at home I was always quiet and didn't get to speak very often just because other people were jibber-jabbering a lot. When I would do voices, people would say, that's weird, or shut up. There was a fear of seeming crazy.
A lot of comedians are people who are very introverted, very shy, sensitive to humiliation, a little narcissistic, a little damaged. So, the only way to survive is go to a place where you are stripped bare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I had a chance to speak to Richard Lewis. Here he is. We know we love you from HBO. This whole series is about comedy and the darker side and drug addiction, alcohol and drugs and whatnot. You wrote a book about this. You had your own battle. What's different about your come by being sober versus not?
LEWIS: Well, I've been sober almost 23 years a day at a time, which is true, and sometimes a minute at a time. I was hell-bent on being honest as a comedian from the get-go, and I was. But it wasn't until I admitted that I was a drunk and an alcoholic and a sex addict -- you name it, you could be addicted to anything, really. When I got clean and sober is when my comedy really took off for me personally, because then I was really myself on stage. I always thought I was myself. I mean, I had success and I usually tried to watch myself, which was my rationalization.
Like I did Carnegie Hall, I did two and a half hours. It was so loud and it was a great night, but I would have maybe half a glass of wine at noon before the show, so I was sober, but then after the show to celebrate the success, I got hammered and when I went down to the party of like 300 friends from childhood on, I made a complete fool of myself. So, in real life, I was a total mess.
BALDWIN: What about, though, your humor and people think of you and your appearances with Larry David. It's that similar comedic style which we love, which is self-deprecating making your fears and anxieties funny. Why do you think doing that was become so popular?
I don't know why it's become popular. I did it from the get-go. My dad died before I became a performer. I have a sister that moved out when I was 12 and I have an older brother who was basically living in Manhattan. So, I was alone, and my mother, unfortunately, had a lot of problems, you know. I love her, I loved her, but we didn't get along. And she didn't get me. So, I really felt -- my father didn't know anything about my career. My mother didn't get me, and my siblings were way older. So, I thought I was tethered to, like, nothing. That's why it's sort of weird --
BALDWIN: That's where it came from?
LEWIS: The need for approval. My mother was proud of me, but I wouldn't have known it, you know. I remember if we were watching like Jackie Gleason, she would say, now, that's talent!
BALDWIN: You're like, thanks, thanks.
LEWIS: But I get it. I'm glad that not everybody understands me. You know, it's like -- I feel like an independent film. It's not for everybody.
BALDWIN: Let's talk more about you just lastly, Richard. "Curb Your Enthusiasm." So many fans coming back. Tell me about it.
LEWIS: Larry David and I were born three days apart in the same ward.
BALDWIN: I thought you were going to say the same womb.
LEWIS: No. We would have had a fight in the womb, believe me. He tried to strangle me with my mother's umbilical cord. That was my umbilical cord. My mother brought a second one, she didn't trust my own. Larry and I have known each other since birth. He's a genius. To me he's the Norman Lear of the last 30 years without question.
He's a genius. And we love each other. And we fight all the time. In the nine seasons, every scene I have is with him and every scene is a fight. I would call home and my wife would say, how did it go? I would say, what's the difference? I put makeup on. I screamed at him like I did yesterday. He screamed at me. He edits the show. I don't know what he's going to use. Don't ask me. He always watches my back and I just love the relationship.
BALDWIN: I know there are a lot of people around here who can't wait to see more of it, more of you. Richard Lewis, thank you so much.
BALDWIN: It's a great special. I'm glad CNN did it, and I think this one this Sunday is maybe, for a lot of reasons, the most profound, because it's comedy, it's about human behavior and alcoholism.
Sunday night, 10:00 eastern right here on CNN. It was a pleasure. Richard Lewis, thank you for coming on and talking to me about this. Thank you for being with me on a Friday afternoon. Don't move a muscle, though.