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Chaos in West Wing as Hope Hicks Resigns; NYT: Kushner's Business Got $500M in Loans after White House Meetings. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 1, 2018 - 07:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has undermined Attorney General Sessions from the very beginning.

[07:00:07] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now we know he tried to oust Jeff Sessions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't stay at all. I wouldn't be anybody's whipping boy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president can fire the attorney general, but he do it for corruption

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what I think Mueller is trying to get at.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Take the guns first. Go through due process second.

DANA LOESCH, NRA SPOKESPERSON: Due process must be respected. And we stressed this to the president.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: There is no other issue out there like background checks. It works. People want it, and we can't do it.



ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. The chaos unraveling in the West Wing. One of the president's most trusted, longest serving aides, Hope Hicks, abruptly announcing she is resigning.

CNN has learned President Trump did berate his communications director after she admitted to congressional investigators that she tells, quote, "white lies" on his behalf.

Also this morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is fighting back after another very public attack by the president. It comes as "The Washington Post" reports Special Counsel Bob Mueller is investigating whether the president's efforts to push out Sessions last summer plays into a pattern that could be construed as obstruction of justice.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And there's another explosive headline about the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. "New York Times" is reporting that Kushner received hundreds of millions of dollars in loans for his own family business after meeting with financial executives inside the White House who may have wanted jobs.

This raises new concerns about conflicts of interest.

And President Trump stunning Republicans after saying that he supports comprehensive gun control to the dismay of many of the GOP and of course the NRA.

So we've got all of this covered for you. Let's begin with Abby Phillip. She is live at the White House. What's the latest, Abby?


Well, the stunning departure of Hope Hicks, one of the president's closest aides, the White House communications director, is just one of many things happening this week that have left the White House reeling, including this Mueller investigation that seems to be closing in on the president's inner circle.


PHILLIP (voice-over): President Trump growing increasingly isolated after the abrupt resignation of one of his closest advisors, White House communications director Hope Hicks. Hicks is the fourth in that post to step down since Mr. Trump took office a year ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hope was one of the people he really, really trusted. So with her leaving, there's only a handful left. And he's going to feel like he's on an island.

PHILLIP: The White House attempting to downplay the shocking announcement, insisting that Hicks has been thinking about leaving for weeks, but Hicks' departure came one day after she testified before a House committee as part of their Russia probe, conceding that at times, she's told white lies for President Trump.

A source tells CNN's Erin Burnett that this admission upset the president, who berated Hicks after her nearly nine hours of testimony.

A former Trump campaign aide telling CNN that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has been inquiring about Hicks's remarks to "The New York Times" shortly after the election, denying any contact between the campaign and Russian officials, a statement that has proven to be false.

Only a handful of President Trump's original inner circle are now left in the White House as scrutiny over the president's son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, continues to grow. "The New York Times" reporting the two companies loaned Kushner's family real-estate business more than $500 million after meeting with Kushner at the White House. JESSE DRUCKER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" (via phone): You're seeing Jared

Kushner meeting with executives in the White House. And then sometime after those meetings, the companies that those executives work for, run or help to run are giving very sizable mortgages to his company.

PHILLIP: The "Times" reports that Kushner still owns the vast majority of his interest in his company. But a spokesman for his attorney insists that Kushner has taken no part in any business, loans or projects with and for the Kushner companies since joining the White House.

Sources tell CNN that Kushner is worried that everyone in the West Wing is out to get him after having his top-secret clearance stripped by chief of staff John Kelly.

All of this as the Mueller probe intensifies. "The Washington Post" reporting that Mueller's team is looking into whether President Trump's efforts to oust and intimidate Attorney General Jeff Sessions last summer amounts to obstruction of justice.

TRUMP: I am disappointed in the attorney general. He should not have recused himself almost immediately after he took office.

PHILLIP: "The Post" adding that the president has privately refers to Sessions as "Mr. Magoo," a cartoon character who is "elderly, myopic and bumbling."

President Trump lashing out at Sessions again, calling his approach to investigating alleged surveillance abuses "disgraceful."

Sessions dining publicly with the other top members of the Justice Department Wednesday night after firing back at the president's latest attack in a rare statement: "As long as I am the attorney general, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner."


[07:05:10] PHILLIP: Well, just a few minutes ago, President Trump responded on Twitter to the National Rifle Association after the back and forth over his extraordinary meeting with bipartisan lawmakers yesterday.

The president wrote, "Many ideas, some good and some not so good, emerged from our bipartisan meeting on school safety yesterday at the White House. Background checks a big part of the conversation. Gun- free zones are proven targets of killers. After many years, a bill should emerge. Respect Second Amendment."

Now, the reason the president is saying this is because last night the NRA sent out a statement calling yesterday's meeting in which the president said take away the guns first and respect rights later, they said it was good TV but bad policy. Republicans are also pushing back hard on that proposal. It came from the president's own mouth. So we'll see where this goes today, Alisyn. CUOMO: Do I look like Alisyn to you? Abby, thank you very much.

Appreciate it.

All right. Let's talk about all the turmoil in the West Wing with Anthony Scaramucci. He was the White House communications director for 10 days, replaced by Hope Hicks, but knows very well what the dynamic with Hope Hicks meant to President Trump.

How big is this?


CUOMO: Eleven days. Fake news.

SCARAMUCCI: Finally. Finally with 11 days.

CUOMO: Eleven days, but you were relevant before that period. You're relevant after. You know the man. You know the vibe. How big is this?

SCARAMUCCI: I worked on the campaign a long time.

CUOMO: Right.

SCARAMUCCI: And I was also on the executive transition team.

CUOMO: Absolutely. I remember it well. How big is this?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think it's a big departure in the sense that this is one of the president's closest friends, aides, loyalists, somebody that understands the heartbeat of the president, understands his personality and also is -- she's incredibly good at guiding people.

And I will tell you this about Hope. I mean, Washington is a rough place. We both know that. There's not a malicious bone in Hope's body. I mean, she's just a wonderful person, always trying to do the right thing, cares about everybody, not interested in the conflict, not interested in the ego rub and the Internet bashing that I experienced and other people have experienced.

CUOMO: Now on the plus side --

SCARAMUCCI: It's a big loss for the president.

CUOMO: People close to the president say the untold value of Hope Hicks wasn't about communications. It was about external communications. It was internal. Her ability to say to people, "Do not come at the president this way on this. He's angry about this. He doesn't want to be told about that." And that that was very valuable for people trying to negotiate his mood around her.

SCARAMUCCI: I think some of that is probably true. But here's the other thing. The other thing is that, you know, people always felt that she was very fair and very honest. So if you went to her with something and said, "OK, what do you think of this," she would give a very honest interpretation. There was none of that political nonsense or trying to, you know, sense the tea leaves of the situation.

So I have an enormous amount of respect for her. She's going to have a phenomenal career. You know, my agent called me last night and said, "You've got to help me get Hope as a client." You know, that sort of thing.

CUOMO: I'm sure that all of you guys will find avenues to success after being part of this situation.

But on the negative side, it's, well, she says that she did tell some lies for the president. She said that there was no communications between anyone from Trump and Russians. She underplayed the situation with that meeting and the drafting of the response thereto. The Rob Porter thing was a debacle of epic proportion.

SCARAMUCCI: Let's -- let's unpack each one of those things. But let's start with the white lies. So I would submit to your viewers or anybody in America around the world, tell me the person that hasn't told a white lie. I will identify that person as the biggest liar in the room. And so here's what happens, which she like, absolutely can't stand. She's in a closed-door session. They're asking her stuff. It's under oath. You know how important that is. So do I. The integrity of every sentence, every syllable.

They asked her if she told any white lies. She said yes, probably. I don't know. I wasn't there. I assume. I don't know. And then they pick up the phone and -- I'm sorry, Chris -- drop the dime on her. OK, it's just totally unfair. It's a closed session in strict confidence. It's -- now they're trying to colorize this woman, who's an extremely gifted professional, as a liar.

So I submit it back to everybody else. Hold a mirror to your face and tell me that you haven't told a white lie. Because I don't believe --

CUOMO: Let's go to the next position. Qualifying your critique of that is the idea that she said nobody on this team met with any Russians. We know that's untrue. And she should have known it was untrue when she said it.

SCARAMUCCI: OK, well, I don't know --

CUOMO: I don't count that as a white lie.

SCARAMUCCI: OK. So I don't know the exact facts of that situation, whether she knew it or she didn't know it. So I can't really address that. What I can address is her integrity.

CUOMO: According to "The Times," two days after the election. She knew.

SCARAMUCCI: And Maggie's here. Maggie will be able to address that. She'll be able to call a ball and strike on that.

What I can do, though, is I can step back, after working with her for two and a half years and a pretty good evaluator of talent. Now sometimes I am colorful about my evaluation of these people. But I've been mostly right about these people. Just take a look at what's gone on.

CUOMO: And you think she was one of the good ones? I get it. Great.

SCARAMUCCI: High integrity. Very good person.

CUOMO: But what about the Rob Porter situation? She should have known. "I'm involved with this guy. I can't be involved."

SCARAMUCCI: I hold the White House chief of staff accountable for that.

CUOMO: Kelly, you hold accountable?

SCARAMUCCI: Because he had the information related to Porter. And I don't understand why he would allow Hope to date Porter if he's got that information.

CUOMO: How can they keep her from dating him?

SCARAMUCCI: My point is, come on. He had the information. He tried to cover up the information. He tried to get other people inside the White House to cover up the information for him.

CUOMO: You believe Kelly covered up the information about the -- ?


CUOMO: That's not what the White House says. The White House says as soon as he found out, he acted on it.

SCARAMUCCI: right. Well, I don't believe that.

CUOMO: Is that another white lie?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, you've got to ask him. Have him sit in the white chair and ask him if it's a white lie or not. You'll be able to figure it on out quickly.

But, you know, the Rob Porter situation for me, I like Rob. You know, I've been asked even by the president did I see any of that indication of Rob. I didn't. But there was an FBI dossier on Rob. So you know, look --

CUOMO: How does Kelly survive then? Why was he allowed -- why didn't he get the berating that Hope Hicks got?

SCARAMUCCI: That's how it works, OK? It's going to be up to the president to decide that, OK? He -- you know, I guess he's an honorable Marine. And so he's got to look at himself in the mirror and say what he knew and when he knew it.

But I'll tell you what I like about it, OK? I talked a little bit of smack about two guys that we were trying to get rid of. He fires me in five seconds. These guys are smacking up their wives, and he's trying to figure out a way to keep them inside the White House.

So it's very dishonest to me.

CUOMO: Is it personal grievance that's motivating you or do you think as an act of honor, that Kelly needs to go?

SCARAMUCCI: It's a cultural grievance, because I've sat in this white chair with you over the six months after he fired me and said nothing but good things about him.

I have no problem with him firing me. Everybody has an opportunity and the right to change their staff, particularly when they're the chief of staff.

But this is a cultural thing. OK? The morale inside the White House -- you're a great reporter. You've got great reporters on staff. The morale is terrible. And the reason why the morale is terrible is that the rule by fear and intimidation does not work in a civilian environment.

So here we are. It's messed up. And it will be up to the president to figure out if he wants to fix it or not. And if he doesn't --

CUOMO: The question is whether or not the president is contributing to the turmoil.

SCARAMUCCI: I predict more departures.

CUOMO: More departures. So you are subscribing to something that s bubbling up here. And I want to hear Maggie's take on this, as well.

There is an Ides of March theory going on now. You know, obviously, we're in March, Ides of March. Right? Beware the Ides of March? That's when Caesar got taken out. We all know what that means. That's when Caesar got taken on out. But it's about trouble in the middle of the month. That's what the ides were.

Do you believe that that's what we're looking as here, that there's going to be more trouble?

SCARAMUCCI: I don't know. I don't know. But here's what I know, is that when you're running an organization, particularly a civilian organization, there has to be esprit decor that's very different from the military and the order and structure of the military.

And so to me I look at the morale. I see the departures. I see the departures of Trump loyalists and people that are close to the president. I see the fact that John has denied access to the White House or the president's strongest loyalists, myself included. I get invited to go to the White House. He's got me blocked on the wave system.

CUOMO: What does that mean, bad morale? Because by the way --

SCARAMUCCI: I think it's a mistake going into a midterm election, and into another presidential election, where you've got Trump loyalists that want to help the president. I could care less that I got fired. OK? I'm not going to move off of my friendship with the president or my support of the president and his agenda.

But now what are you going to do? Are you going to block me from getting in -- if someone wants to see me inside the White house, we're going to --

CUOMO: I get it. When you talk about morale, what does -- what does that mean? What do you think is going on?

SCARAMUCCI: Morale, there's a fear, culture of fear, culture of intimidation. People are afraid to talk to each other.

CUOMO: Coming from the president? They're afraid of the president?

SCARAMUCCI: No. I think it's the chief of staff. I think there's a -- there's a culture of fear inside the White House. People are afraid to talk to each other. There's a -- there's a --

CUOMO: Kelly is supposed to bring order, is supposed to be a calming influence. You say no?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, when you say order, there's a martial order. There's a martial order. And then there's order where there's, like, a good harmony. OK? There's two different types of harmony. There's a lot of different ways you can describe order. But sometimes order is actually not a good word.

CUOMO: Do you think that Kushner and Kelly can exist in the same White House for long?

SCARAMUCCI: I hope so. Because Jared is a very valuable contributor to that White House. He had a broad portfolio. He's a very smart guy. You know, I have an enormous amount of respect for him.

And by the way, here's the other thing. He's worked on this campaign/transition/presidency for a very long period of time. He knows the president very well. Obviously, he's a family member. We don't have to state that, but I'll state it. But he's a very good guy.

[07:15:04] And so the notion of knocking him down a peg and then the way they're treating him in the press, you know, I don't like it.

CUOMO: Kelly is the one who knocked him down a peg. He's the one who pulled the clearance.

SCARAMUCCI: I'm not a big fan of it, OK? My impression --

CUOMO: You don't think they should have pulled his clearance?

SCARAMUCCI: I don't know. But my impression is, from having talked to people very close to Jared, that he believes that he has the ability to get that clearance. But I think there needs to be an examination as to why he's not getting it.

CUOMO: Would you take that meeting with Apollo Capital? If on the outside you were working to get a loan of that kind of money? SCARAMUCCI: I'm going to answer it in two ways. OK? I probably wouldn't have taken the meeting, but I understand why Jared took the meeting. Let me just explain.

Here's the problem now for business people that go into the White House. The system is set up, really, to block business people. I had to sell my company to get the OPL job. OK, a $228 million company, which has now been tied up in CFIUS for 15 months. OK? So that's --

CUOMO: CFIUS is the vetting administration that looks at those kinds of things?

SCARAMUCCI: I sold it to a large=cap global company that happens to be based in China. So now I have to wait 15 months for regulatory approval or disapproval. OK? Never asked for a favor. I just wanted the process to start.

But as it relates to being a businessperson, Jared had, probably loans outstanding from those companies prior to his arrival inside the White House. And so now you're in a very tough spot because of the way the rules and ethics are made. They're literally designed for us to block entrepreneurs and business leaders from entering the system. Lawyers, academics, people that don't have strong intertwined business ties, it's a very different situation.

CUOMO: But one, you know that --

SCARAMUCCI: There's the -- a military general.

CUOMO: Well, you know there's good reason for that.

SCARAMUCCI: -- or any business --

CUOMO: There's good reason for that, Anthony. It's exactly what we're seeing. A hundred and eighty-four -- look, you know Apollo Capital very well. That is an unusual bridge loan, $184 billion to put out.

SCARAMUCCI: I don't --

CUOMO: The guy wanted to work -- by the reporting on their own portfolio, it's -- that's an unusual one. It's a healthy one.

The guy had interest in working in the administration. You come and you meet in your capacity as a representative of the United States government, and then you allow that to happen? Citicorp, same deal. You allow that to happen.

SCARAMUCCI: When you -- when you analyze these things away, when you characterize it in the way you just did, OK, I understand.

CUOMO: Semblance of impropriety is the standard.

SCARAMUCCI: I understand the point that you're making. I understand the issues around conflict. And I'm saying something is way broader that even Jared Kushner or -- CUOMO: Tons of business people work in there before. You can put

your shares in things. You can divest. You can do different things if you want to serve the public. Paulson, when he came in, took us through the entire depression.

SCARAMUCCI: OK. Well, hold on a second. Paulson is in a publicly traded company.

CUOMO: Right.

SCARAMUCCI: Very liquid, very deep liquidity in that stock. And you can let go of that thing without, quote unquote, CFIUS approval, none of the other nonsenses. Jared and his family.

CUOMO: Barry Cohen.

SCARAMUCCI: Goldman Sachs.

CUOMO: Mnuchin.

SCARAMUCCI: Very deep liquid stock.

CUOMO: Trump.

SCARAMUCCI: He's -- he's on a different standard.

CUOMO: He hasn't been transparent at all about it. If the rest of you acted the way the president did and everything given --

SCARAMUCCI: But he's at a different standard. Look at with the lies. That he is the one exception in that whole system. He could literally run the Trump organization and the Oval Office at the same time and be above the ethical fray.

CUOMO: No. He wouldn't be above the ethical fray. He'd be above the legal fray.

SCARAMUCCI: He wouldn't be above your ethical fray. But at the end of the day --

CUOMO: You want the president running a private business?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, the American people have had to decide that. Right? They voted him in. They did recognize --

CUOMO: He said he would have nothing to do with his private business.

SCARAMUCCI: He really hasn't.

CUOMO: Come on. How can you say that? He spends most of his time at Trump properties.

SCARAMUCCI: He spends most of his time in Trump properties because he owns the properties.

CUOMO: What I'm saying, he's -- the idea that he has nothing to do with his brand. All of this is an extension of brand for him. Come on. You know that.

SCARAMUCCI: OK, OK. You know that because of the way you're insinuating it. OK? I know the kids very well.

CUOMO: Won't show his taxes. He won't open his books of any of his transactions.

SCARAMUCCI: He look at the situation of Governor Romney, when Governor Romney showed his taxes. Poor Mitt Romney had a small Cayman Islands account. He built his career, made himself unbelievably financially independent. And they railed on him for his Cayman Islands account.

And then they started these negative campaign advertisements about that he gave a woman cancer in the middle of Michigan.

So -- so this is what happens in our society; this happens in our politics. You can dislike the president. But he's a very good campaign strategist. The decision not to put out his very complicated tax structure and system was probably a good one, because it took off the table all of that negativity.

CUOMO: Yes. But what about truth and transparency to people? Do you think we're too dumb to figure out his taxes?

SCARAMUCCI: You've got his taxes?

CUOMO: No. If I had them, I wouldn't be having this conversation. I would have had a bunch of experts go over it and outline any issues.

SCARAMUCCI: OK. You know, the people voted. They looked at the president.

CUOMO: They didn't have full information.

SCARAMUCCI: Warts and all. But they had full information.

CUOMO: Now, we're steep in an investigation largely looking at exactly what we don't know --

SCARAMUCCI: They had full information that they didn't have full information.

CUOMO: They had full information that they didn't have full information?

SCARAMUCCI: That's exactly right.

CUOMO: No, I don't think that's the way it works. I don't think people voted saying I don't know the truth about this guy, but I'll vote for him.

SCARAMUCCI: -- four years, people divulge your taxes, 40 years prior, they didn't. This candidate made a decision not to. Am I going to vote for him? Yes or no? Oh, I'm going to vote for him. He's the 45th president. CUOMO: But it's just not fair to assume that they -- you can't know what you don't know, Anthony. So when --

SCARAMUCCI: You're missing my point. They knew that they didn't know that. And if that's a red-letter item for them, then they didn't vote for them.

CUOMO: Right. It's just an unfair standard.

SCARAMUCCI: If they are willing to overlook that and take the entire package. The American people want reform first. They don't like this --

CUOMO: But I know, but they're getting more of the same and worse. He was supposed to drain the swamp. He was supposed to bring in the best. And look at what we're dealing with. He sweats talent. I mean, he just calms directors --

SCARAMUCCI: Maybe -- maybe it's not drainable.

CUOMO: Ethical problems.

CUOMO: It's a gold-plated hot tub. Maybe it is not drainable. OK? We'll have to figure that out.

But the system the way it is right now, the American people don't like it. OK? And so the reason why he's going to win reelection is that he represents a change and a possible disruption to that system.

I mean, that system can't be disrupted, OK, because we've evacuated most of the Trump loyalists out of the White House. We don't allow access to most of the Trump loyalists that come into the White House. And so maybe the system itself is so powerful, maybe the immunological system around the swamp is so powerful that it will reject a disruptive move to change the system and make the system fairer and more accountable to the American public.

CUOMO: Or maybe adding a virus into that system --

SCARAMUCCI: We'll have to see.

CUOMO: -- wasn't the change -- appropriate change mechanism. Maybe he'll have to try something else. But last word on this. You do believe --

SCARAMUCCI: He's doing well. He's done a good job on the economic policies.

CUOMO: Wall Street is doing well. Time will tell.

SCARAMUCCI: Wages are up, brother. They are.

CUOMO: There are some indications of it. We'll see the reports.

SCARAMUCCI: Everybody talks about my 11-day short stint. OK? I was trained in economy. CUOMO: I know you were.

SCARAMUCCI: Look at the wages, the real wages. Data represents real economic activity for the average American person.

CUOMO: I just want to end on this word. You do believe that we should be more open to people leaving the administration?

SCARAMUCCI: If the current situation and the current culture inside the administration stays exactly the way it is, there's literally no change. There will be a lot more departures. Yes. The morale is at an all-time low, and it's trending lower.

CUOMO: Anthony Scaramucci, thank you for coming on on short notice. Appreciate your perspective, as always -- Alisyn.


Joining us now is CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent Maggie Haberman. She broke the news of Hope Hicks's resignation.

Maggie, great to have you here on set with us. Let's just start there. Give us a reality check in terms of what we just heard Anthony Scaramucci say. Is morale at an all-time low in the White House?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Reality check is yes, it is really, really bad there. In some ways, if you talk to staffers, they will say there are things that John Kelly made better.

But in a lot of other ways, things were vastly unimproved. The factionalization and hearings at the White House got better. The mood did not improve. They are not very well staffed. They still can't hire a lot of people.

Kelly forgets what he says to one person and says something entirely different to somebody else. We saw that a lot around the Rob Porter issue.

He does not entirely empower people. He very much guards sort of the area around the Oval Office and views a lot of people who have their own relationships with the president as an imperiling factor in his command and control structure, which he favors.

CAMEROTA: So is there, as Anthony Scaramucci just said, a culture of fear and intimidation because of General Kelly?

HABERMAN: I mean, I don't know that I would use the word "intimidation," because I'm not really sure what that's referring to. There is certainly a culture of fear about getting in trouble, getting on someone's bad side. I just think right now, you had this moment for basically two months after last year where the White House sort of was united, for the most part, people against Steve Bannon. And they were able to tell themselves that was the problem. Prior to that, they were able to say Reince Priebus, he's the problem.

In fact, you know, the problem is the person who sets the tone, and that is the president.

And so I heard again last night from some advisers who said -- had departed the White House said they think that without -- without sort of people who can whisper in the president's ear very effectively, that maybe they'll all be rowing in the same direction in a new way. That's just never what happens.

CUOMO: Hope Hicks, did she jump or was she pushed?

HABERMAN: She jumped. I'm sorry. She jumped. I know that is not a popular thing to say.

CUOMO: Only to --

HABERMAN: Well, I'm only apologizing because Twitter seems very upset with that. But look, she -- we go over all of the things that she's enmeshed in. Right? In the last several weeks. Because of her proximity to the president. She knows all kinds of things about certain meetings. She has attracted attention from congressional investigators and the special counsel, Robert Mueller.

[07:25:08] They want to know what she knew about the firing of James Comey. They want to know what she knew about drafting a statement aboard Air Force One in response to our story in the "Times" about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russian lawyers promising a clump of dirt on Hillary Clinton.

She is constantly having to manage his moods. She's constantly having to protect other staffers from his moods. And then her personal life became a spectacle, because she was dating Rob Porter, the staff secretary who did resign under pressure over allegations of spousal abuse.

When you add all of that up and you think about that, why would somebody want to stay in that job?

CAMEROTA: Well, except that there are 365 days in a year. And so she had always tended to leave in 2018. Why yesterday?

HABERMAN: I don't know that she always intended to leave in 2018 but I know that she had been talking about leaving for a very long time. And she had been planning it ahead of Tuesday's hearing.

CAMEROTA: Yesterday was just coincidental or was yesterday the final straw?

HABERMAN: Yesterday was coincidental. I mean, the fact that it was yesterday -- let me rephrase that. Yesterday had nothing to do with the hearing the day before, if that is what you are asking.

CUOMO: Correlation is not causation.

HABERMAN: Correct. Thank you, counsel.

CUOMO: That was -- look, that was a tough day for her.

HABERMAN: Yes, it was.

CUOMO: She had to meet with counsel for about 20 minutes after she gave the "white lies" thing. And people have to understand. It's one thing when you're talking to us, as scrutinizing as you can be. But when -- when I'm holding the power to punish you, in a way, for what you say, those are hard moments. Those are hard moments for someone who's new to this.

HABERMAN: That's right.

CUOMO: This is -- you know, Hope Hicks had a very elevated position with Trump. And her loyalty to him helped garner that. But this is not a battle-tested person who knows how to weather storms.

HABERMAN: Very few people know how to weather this kind of storm. If you think about how many White Houses we have seen that we've seen go through this kind of thing, the only, again, spectacle nature of it with the legal underlay, the Clinton White House is the only one that I can think of with respect to something this big that had proximity to the president.

I don't think that that was an easy day for her, based on everything that I have heard. But that does not mean that that was the reason that it happened yesterday. Again, I realize I'm saying you're going to have to trust me on it, but it really is not why it happened. She -- only she can know if there was some final straw, but the final straw was not that hearing.

CAMEROTA: OK. Next reality check of Anthony Scaramucci. Is Washington a gold-plated hot tub?

HABERMAN: Well, I don't know that it's gold-plated or a hot tub.

CAMEROTA: I guess what I'm referring to is Jared Kushner. And so Jared Kushner --

HABERMAN: I don't know if he has a gold-plated hot tub either.

CAMEROTA: I think he does. Because he did get a huge loan from a private equity -- two huge loans from a private equity firm that had had several meetings in the White House after the president was already in the Oval Office.


CAMEROTA: Look, you know, who we are told wanted a job. This seems like a quid pro quo of some kind. And so what do you -- what are you hearing about Jared Kushner's future?

HABERMAN: Well, just to answer the questions about the loans first. What people who like Jared Kushner say is these are some of the major firms in the country. Of course they were coming in for meetings. You know, these are not personal loans. This is his company that he's technically not at anymore.

However, to your point about the quid pro quo appearance, we have no way of knowing what took place in those conversations. But this is why elected officials are always cautioned to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

CUOMO: Yes, the appearance.

HABERMAN: In previous White Houses, you have had people make more of an effort to try to be careful to not look as if they are in the middle of something. And this is why, generally speaking, it is best practice not to bring your -- your fidelity into positions like this, especially when there are all of these business entanglements.

In terms of his future, my understanding is that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are sending out pretty strong signals that they do not plan on going anywhere. The tension between them and Kelly is very, very real. You know, the president is always going to side with family. The president does not want to deal with the security clearance issue. He punted on it very clearly to John Kelly. Jared Kushner's security reportedly was downgraded.

The question remains what that means. Can he sort of hang on and still be effective in his job? Will he have to leave the way other far more junior aides had to leave because they could not get to- secret clearance.

CUOMO: That's part of the Ides of March theory that's starting to bubble up. That you can't have Kushner and Kelly --

HABERMAN: That's right.

CUOMO: -- in the same House if Kelly really believes that there are legitimate questions about Kushner's conflicts --


CUOMO: -- and whether or not he's compromised. Because I have to tell you, Anthony is part right. It's tough to be someone who's in private capital and then come into public service. Divesting isn't simple.

But it has been done before. You don't take meetings like that. You don't do it.

HABERMAN: You avoid it. Even if there wasn't an issue. That's right. You just avoid it, because we are now having this conversation.

CUOMO: It was even more egregious, you could argue, than what Trump Jr. did with the meeting in Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer. Because he wasn't working for the government. He was in a campaign. He's trying to get dirt just like everybody in campaigns are. This guy's working for the government. He's installed in the White House. And he's taking a meeting like this.

If John Kelly allows that to survive, you know, that is a corrosive dynamic for someone like Kelly who's all about the order of the system. CAMEROTA: I think that's right.