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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  January 3, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PST

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or former secretary of state were actually home at the time. keep you posted. i'm brooke baldwin. thank you so much for being with me here. reminder, check out "american woman." "the lead" with jake tapper starts right now. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we're going to begin with breaking news in the politics lead. and for the yupoungsters out there, it's impossible to overstate just how bizarre today's news is. president trump issued a statement like no presidential statement ever before in american history, lambasting his former campaign and white house senior strategist steve bannon in no uncertain terms. this comes after the release of explosive excerpts from a new book claiming to reveal the interworkings of the trump campaign and white house. what could be the most
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consequential revelation, bannon seeming to tell the book's author he thinks that meeting between jared kushner and paul manafort with others who were billed as being from the russian government, that that meeting was unpatriotic and treasonous. the president apparently being told about that excerpt unloaded today. in an official white house statement blasting his former consignifica associate saying, quote, steve bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. when he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. and then the president got nasty. all these bomb shells and trump world an ick details are in the upcoming book "fire and fury" by michael wolff. wolff conducted more than 200 interviews and this was all made possible, he claims, because he was able to take a semipermanent seat on a couch in the west wing. that idea was encouraged by president trump himself, wolff
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says. my political panel is here with me to comb through all the details. let's begin with cnn's jeff zeleny at the white house. and, jeff, in this statement, the likes of which we've never seen before from a president about an aide, going after bannon. he says that bannon was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with president trump and really didn't have much influence. is that true? >> reporter: jake, that simply does not comport with what we saw here during the first eight months of the trump administration. just to set the scene a little bit here, the west wing is actually a small place, as you know. steve bannon's office was just steps away from the oval office. he had walk-in privileges. that means he could walk in whenever the president wanted to see him. one official i talked to just a few minutes ago said he met privately with the president all the time, more than many of his advisers. of course that is normal because he was the chief strategist. so the fact that the president today is trying to distance himself from steve bannon obviously in advance of this book does not comport with what
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actually happened during the eight months of the presidency. during the brooefg, a contentious briefing, no question. the press secretary, sarah sanders, dismissed this as tabloid trash. she said the president was furious. she also said these allegations are simply ridiculous. >> reporter: president trump firing back today at his former chief strategist steve bannon for calling a 2016 meeting in trump tower between campaign officials and a russian lawyer treasonous and unpatriotic. in a blistering statement, the president said, steve bannon had nothing to do with me or my presidency. when he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. the extraordinary war of wards broke out over a new book, "fire and fury: inside the trump white house." part of which were reported today by "the guardian" and "new york" magazine. bannon taking direct aim at donald trump jr., jared kushner and paul manafort, all of whom met with a russian lawyer offering dirt on hillary clinton's campaign. the three senior guys in the
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campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside trump tower in the conference room on the 25th floor. with no lawyers. bannon reportedly says in the book. even if you thought this was not treasonous or on patriotic or bad expletive, and i happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the fbi immediately. bannon went on to say, they're going to crack don jr. like an egg on national tv. white house press secretary sarah sanders dismissed the book as trashy tabloid fiction and described the president's reaction like this. >> i think furious, disgusted would probably certainly fit when you make such outrageous claims and completely false claims against the president, his administration and his family. >> reporter: the explosive comments from bannon undermine a white house effort to downplay and discredit the investigation into election meddling and potential russian collusion with the trump campaign. you realize where this is going, this is all about money laundering bannon reportedly says in the book.
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their path to expletive trump goes right through paul manafort, don jr. and jared kushner. it's as plain on the hair on your face. the president blasted bannon, his former adviser, saying he's only in it for himself. the book written by journalist michael wolff also has strong words for the president's daughter ivanka and her husband jared. they accepted roles in the west wing over the advice of almost everyone they knew. if some time in the future the opportunity arose, she'd be the one to run for president. the first woman president, ivanka entertained, would not be hillary clinton, it would be ivanka trump. >> and that right there is summarizing what is bad blood to put it mildly between steve bannon and ivanka and jared kushner. no question about that. it was obvious here during all of steve bannon's time at the white house. now one lingering question here is did michael wolff interview the president directly or not? he says he had inside access,
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and, in fact, we have seen michael wolff here repeatedly over the first year of the presidency. he is here as often as some white house reporters are. sarah sanders said in the briefing today he did not sit down with the president. he had a brief phone call on a different matter. so, jake, when this book is actually released later this month, we will see other revlations about this, including what the president made have said or the observations michael wolff saw. he clearly was a fly on the wall. >> all right. jeff zeleny at the white house for us. thanks so much. let's get to my panel. there is so much to talk about in these excerpts. first of all, josh green, as our resident bannon expert, he is clearly all over these excerpts, on the record saying things that were not particularly flattering about the president's children, about jared kushner, about the president himself. why? what's the motivation? >> well, wolff had been interviewing bannon all the way
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back during the transition. he did an article in "hollywood reporter" and bannon at his time was at the height of his powers, thought he was politically bulletproof. whether or not trump wants to admit it now, bannon was instrumental in helping him win his presidential victory over hillary clinton. he was the chief strategist. the most important official in that white house. so i think he thought he was untouchable. >> i remember that piece. it was very flattering to steve bannon. >> darth vader. >> here's the other thing, wolff is a masterful manipulator of important men with large egos and i think this book is a product of that. you can see he was able to get not just bannon but other trump officials on the record, had a front-row seat as the first year of the white house was unfolding and obviously writing a lot of this in his notebook. >> he did a biography of rupert murdoch, and murdoch's all over this book saying disparaging things about the president. what's your take on this? >> the most important, there is a lot of interesting back and
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forth between steve bannon and the white house. the most interesting part of this, the most consequential part of this is the fact that steve bannon, who was a member of the white house, says the actions of the trump campaign were traitorous, treasonous. he basically says that the campaign was in bed with a foreign adversary and they should have called the fbi. he has a window seat into everything and he itself, you know, republicans have gone after everybody on this issue and now steve bannon is the one saying that the trump campaign acted against the interests of the american people, on behalf of a foreign adversary, calling it treason himself. >> it is pretty stark. >> i mean, to your earlier question, too, as a former campaign staffer and administration staffer, nothing worries me more than a staffer who thinks they're more than a staffer. i think that's what we have here. proximity has a way of diluting many people near power to thinking that they wield it. this is clearly one of those cases. you know, one of the things that i think is interesting, though,
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to neera's point, as much as we love to watch the mud wrestling of an article like this that comes out, there are legal implications to what was reported in this book. the big worry i would have right now inside the white house is how do i contain the news that is coming out of this that is going to get the special counsel's attention? >> right. beyond the back and forth, you call it mud wrestling. it reminds me of the last scene of "reservoir dogs." whatever it is, it is the point that neera is making, there is a criminal investigation going on. >> one of the reasons i think bannon felt so free to call that meeting treasonous, he wasn't part of that meeting when it happened. >> he joined in august. >> from his standpoint, he is not complicit in what happened. he objectively he's write. if a meeting like this were to happen, of course the first thing you should do is call the fbi and the trump campaign didn't. i think his criticisms are valid. he's able to lob them because he knows the special counsel isn't going to be looking at him.
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he wasn't part of the campaign. >> of course he doesn't say anything until leaving the white house. he's actually speaking. look, think it's important that everybody in washington deal with the fact that a conservative or arch conservative and person behind breitbart and saying this is treasonous. >> it's interesting. let's fact check one part of this. president trump today saying steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool people with no access and no clue whom he helped write phony books. that might be you. >> i think it is. i appreciate the plug. >> by the way, what's the name of the book? "devil's bargain." by josh green. it's on amazon. it's an excellent book. >> thank you. >> just for the record, i think that you have a clue and you obviously had access to steve bannon. but, boy, that book really bothered the president. >> you know what was funny, this came out at the time, but what i was told what bothered him the most was actually the cover of the book which shows steve bannon and donald trump together.
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and trump, i'm told by reliable sources, was incensed that the picture wasn't trump alone. >> and the "time" magazine cover which said "president bannon." that really got to him, too. >> there is a whole part of this interview that says how little the president likes to read. >> he didn't say he didn't like reading the book, he didn't like the cover of the book. >> perhaps he didn't read the book and only looked at the cover and that was it. you have his own staff attacking his analyst to digest information. >> i found the most interesting part of the president's statement today the part where he talked about how he has ownership -- staked ownership over his own base and tried to disabuse anybody of that saying this was somehow the workings or his popularity was due to steve bannon. i think that's the fallout in the next few days is, how does steve bannon return fire or does he even? i think that the steve bannon/breitbart world will tend to hold their fire on this and actually start to put more
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pressure on the white house to hold the two biggest positions that they care about, which are coming up in this january legislative session, which is daca and the wall. >> d.r.e.a.m.ers and the wall. right. >> if there is any sort of abandonment on that. you'll see that base and bannon start to -- >> i want to talk about the legal point you brought up a second ago. congressman ted liu tweeted today based on the statements by steve bannon congressional committees need to subpoena him to testify on the trump/russia investigation. as you point out, he wasn't part of the campaign during that meeting, but there is other stuff in the book suggesting that he suspects that president trump had been told. >> yeah, you know, it's not clear from the excerpt if this was bannon just speculating that don jr. ran up and told the president, in which case there may be nothing there for investigators. or if he knows that something happened. of course once he joined the campaign, bannon was instrumental in crafting a lot of the statements given to the press, many of which were false or misleading by the white house surrounding the russia
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investigation. bannon certainliy knows something. whether or not he has direct knowledge of that particular meeting, i'm not sure. >> he was part of the a.p. ara tuesday that happened with mike flynn. he was there when there was a defense of the meeting when it came out in june or july of this year. i think he actually has a lot of information. >> all right. go ahead. >> the ceo of the campaign and chief strategist, it's hard to distance yourself. >> he was a huge part of the trump victory. everyone stick around. we're just getting started. we probably wouldn't be having this conversation if what trump reportedly really wanted to happen in the 2016 race had actually happened. the claim that trump wanted to lose the election. that's next. as you get older.hanges but prevagen helps your brain with an ingredient originally discovered... in jellyfish. in clinical trials, prevagen has been shown to improve short-term memory. prevagen. the name to remember. discover card. i justis this for real?match, yep. we match all the cash back new cardmembers earn at the end of their first year,
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♪ keep it comin' love. if you keep on eating, we'll keep it comin'. all you can eat riblets and tenders at applebee's. now that's eatin' good in the neighborhood. is this a direct response to steve bannon calling the president's son unpatriotic and saying he committed treason? skbli think there are a number of factors that played in. i certainly think going after the president's son in an absolutely outrageous and unprecedented way is probably not the best way to curry favor with anybody. >> that's fair to say, not a good way to curry favor with the president, calling his son treasonous and unpatriotic. we're back with the breaking news. the white house and specifically president trump slamming the explosive accounts out in the new book called "fire and fury." particularly quotes apparently from the president's former chief strategist quoted calling donald trump jr.'s infamous trump tower meeting treasonous and unpatriotic. excerpts were released today. first in "the guardian" and then
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in "new york" magazine. both describing chaotic beginnings of the trump administration and a candidate who did not want to be president. back with my panel. bannon says he thinks this russia investigation is ultimately going to be about money laundering. he believes jared kushner, the president's son-in-law, could be convinced to cooperate if mueller probes the kushner financial records saying, quote, it goes through deutsche bank and all the kushner blank. the kushner blank is greasy. they're going to go right through that, roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me. that's obviously bannon's fear, that there is all of this financial stuff that has nothing to do with the russia investigation that they're going to use to get don jr. and kushner to cooperate. >> i read it dirmt. i think what he was referencing and the investigation is headed this way is russian money laundering through kushner assets, which is i think the -- deutsche bank is actually being investigated for not just money
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laundering in general and its ties to the kushner family and their businesses but for russian assets. so i think there is a connection between those things, but i do think it's interesting it's not that steve bannon is saying, oh, something could have happened, he's actually pointing out potential illegalities, which i think is another reason investigators and congressional investigators should call him to testify. >> although, we should point out that bannon has been very clear on the record over and over that he thinks the russia collusion investigation is a witch-hunt and there is nothing there and concocted by democrats. when he talks about whatever money laundering stuff there might be with the russians, bannon's opinion was whatever that was or was not, there is no relation to the election. >> that's right. but i think that opinion is based on supposition on bannon's part. i don't think he had any kind of access to the kushner family's, you know, banking relationships, but he did say consistently during his time in the white house and afterwards that the fact that kushner was a senior
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official in the west wing, that trump was meeting with russian bankers in the oval office, was a byproduct of kushner's business dealings and could be politically and potentially legal problematic for the president. >> i don't even know how to defend or ex-plane some of the charges that are levelled, but what i find interesting is just how -- we've heard of staff tensions before but we've never seen open warfare like this between, you know, the alleged nationalists and the establishment figures in a white house like this. so open and out in the open. and i think what we're seeing right now we're witnessing is just how paralyzing that can be for an administration. if you look at so many of the missed opportunities of this year, a lot of these tensions that were going on behind closed doors had to be driving it. >> there have been white houses with tensions. i would add here, you have an added dimension which is essentially steve bannon is providing information that a special prosecutor, who has the ability to prosecute jared kushner or even donald trump, he has the ability to look into
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these facts and he's laying it out for a book. it's not just they're disagreeing, he's welding -- wielding the power of a special prosecutor in soms of this. >> and we should point out, this is not the whole book, this is just a couple excerpts. "the guardian" got an excerpt about the treason and unpatriotic behavior of donald trump jr. according to steve bannon. "new york" magazine published an excerpt and other media organizations are getting excerpts. so i mean this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as we know. "the wall street journal" just got a copy and in the journal excerpt bannon is described as describing ivanka trump, the president's beloved daughter and senior white house adviser, quote, dumb as a brick. a spokeswoman for ms. trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment. i mean, that's not nice. >> no, it's mean. it's very mean. it's a very mean statement. it is, it's just mean. >> it's not necessarily even true. but the idea that he would go
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after the president's kids like this is really staggering. >> can't speak to the truthfulness of that statement. wouldn't presume to. but there is a hatfields and mccoys kind of war that's been going on pretty much from the outset of the administration between bannon and his allies and ivanka trump and jared kushner. i think that's what's driving a lot of these comments. if you look at the treason stuff, the meeting, kushner helped to arrange that, he was in that. part of the reason that bannon is so eager to share that with a reporter is because it impugns his enemy jared kushner and his wife also. >> my question for you, josh, given there is one place you can't go with this president is in any way cross his family or family members, particularly ivanka, is anyone allied with steve bannon start running for the hills? i cannot be any longer associated with him given that now the president is about to turn his attention to anybody who is part of that?
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>> the only thing i would add. i totally appreciate the president's word about his ability to control the primary voters. i would note the record here, which is he was -- donald trump was for luther strange, steve bannon was for roy moore. roy moore won that primary. roy moore lost the general election but with donald trump endorsing him. steve bannon and donald trump endorsing him and we have statements in the press that steve bannon and donald trump spoke about this regularly just a month or two ago. so, you know, i leave the republican party to you all. i certainly don't know. but it's not clear to me just because donald trump says steve bannon has no voice in the party. steve bannon actually has no voice. he still is a large scale force. >> let's talk about election night because there is this very vivid scene in the "new york" magazine excerpt, the book's author writing, quote, once he lost, that was the assumption that trump would lose, trump would be insanely famous and a martyr to crooked hillary.
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his daughter and son-in-law would be international celebrities. kellyanne conway would be a cable news star. melania trump who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn't become president could return to inconspicuously lunching, losing would work out for everybody. losing was winning. the white house, of course, call the book trashy tabloid fiction. and the first lady's communications director denying that he did not think that her husband would win. who do you believe, josh? >> i certainly believe that most of the people in the trump campaign thought that trump was going to lose that election. you know, wolff says in his excerpts that kellyanne conway was going around and telling people and basically auditioning for a job on cable news. in my own book i have a scene where sean spicer is going around to the heads of the networks saying, listen, he's not going to lose. it's not our fault, the rnc's fault, it's trump's fault. most people thought he was going to lose. wolff's contention that they wanted to lose, i don't know that i'd agree with that. certainly there wasn't a lot of
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positive tif positivity in the trump campaign. >> stick around. including what did the president know and not know about the country's government, according to this reporting. stick around. we'll be right back.
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we're back with my panel. an extraordinary behind the scenes look at the trump campaign and the trump white house from the new book by michael wolff "fire and fury." and wasn't of the thrusts of the book is how much president trump
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did not know about basic governance. let me read you an excerpt. early in the campaign, trump adviser sam noneberg was sent to explain the constitution to the candidate, quote, i got as far as the fourth amendment, he recalled, before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head. and then, you know, there are other excerpts in which the president, as you mentioned, is described as not being a reader, not even a skimmer. not even willing to look at a page. >> well, i think all of that comports with what we've heard previously. he's not somebody who ran as a policy ex-peppermint. he's not somebody who run as really -- >> that's not what i said, though. you're putting a nice spin on it. he doesn't read. he doesn't read. >> oh, my god. policy expert. >> he's not an intellectually curious person. >> you're being nice about it. >> but we knew that, right? >> i didn't know that he didn't read anything.
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>> you knew that. come on. there have been newspaper stories saying literally they have to crunch things down to a bullet pointed list in order to keep him focused. i don't think that is -- >> this is different than a short one-pager is different from like i don't read the briefings that i get every morning -- >> during the health care debate when mark meadows came in and had a problem with the essential benefits portion of the bill, he said don't worry about the small stuff. he doesn't have a command about the specifics of policy and, quite frankly, i don't think he cares about it. what he cares about what his strengths are, connecting with people and selling. he's a salesman at the end of the day. >> okay. i would just say an important part of being president, i've worked for two presidents, an important part of being president is reading briefing materials on policy decisions. so i don't think it's good to -- i don't think it's legitimate to say a president, like it's okay if he has other talents -- >> i don't think it's okay either, but, i mean, i believe the excerpts from the book.
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>> one other thing going on right now is the big effort by the trump team to go after steve bannon. to discredit steve bannon. to undermine steve bannon. donald trump jr. tweeted today, wow, just looked at the comments section on breitbart. wow. when bannon has lost breitbart, he's left with, um, nothing. former white house communications director anthony scaramucci said, i said what i said in 9 summer, take out the expletives and -- by the way, donald trump is doing a great job. two supporters of the president. just to remind people in the profanity-laced interview that scaramucci did with ryan lizza then of "the new yorker," he said some rather distasteful things about steve bannon and an tomically impossible feats that he would have performed upon himself, would he able. >> well-done. >> were he able. but this is the point. also, donald trump jr. is saying, wow, just read the comments section on breitbart, which, by the way, i never
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recommend. >> that itself is weird. >> he's saying even bannon's own house organ, the "o" magazine f steve bannon is going after him. >> he's pretty ensconced at breitbart. >> i don't think breitbart is going to turn on bannon. what's interesting to me after trump's statement essentially curb stomping ban, will breitbart turn on the president? especially with the issues coming down the pike, daca, the need to build the wall. if he's forced to cut some kind of a deal with democrats, does trump really have control of his base as his statement asserted or will that base stick with the likes of bannon and breitbart and turn on the president? >> i think another question also is how does steve bannon go forward now that he's been completely repudiated by the president? how does he go forward and interact with a special counsel
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or a congressional investigators who he has clearly given a lot of crumbs to. >> one other interesting excerpt from the book, the president was going to pick jared kushner to be his chief of staff. and the book claims that none other than ann coulter was the voice of reason and said you just can't hire your own children. >> i don't think -- he seemed to imagine that the position was sort of analogous to being the white house bell hop or something like that. >> or his body guy. >> yeah, which i think kushner essentially was during the campaign. but, yeah, the fact that ann coulter is the one standing up and speaking truth to power i think gives an indication of the level of dysfunction in the white house, especially in the early days. >> one of the other things that you see in the excerpts, especially the one in "new york" magazine, is how little they knew about governing. basic governing. and it's -- in the rollout of the travel ban, the initial one, in which it's done on a friday,
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the government agencies that have to enforce it are not brought in the loop at all. there is complete chaos. but steve bannon is quoted as saying that that was on purpose. they wanted all the liberals to go to the airports and protest and push the democratic party to the left. do you buy it? >> he was telling me -- i did a bloomberg story at the time he was saying the same thing. whether that's true and he was kind of rubbing his hands together and hoping that, you know, this would galvanize trump's base, seeing all these liberals protesting in airports or whether he was trying to put a good spin on a terrible political situation for the president and the white house, i'm not really sure, but this has been his line consistently throughout. >> kevin, you've worked to elect republican presidents for a long time. i want to ask you about something in a book about a potential future presidential candidate. the book says that jared kushner and ivanka made a deal if the opportunity presented itself, ivanka would be the one to run for president.
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she thought she would become the first woman president, not hillary clinton, when steve bannon was told about this he was like, you've got to be kidding me. but that's where according to this book the mindset is of jared and ivanka, she's on the road to the white house perhaps herself. >> people are very quick to dismiss that. she has no history of involvement on politics. i think most people would say that while she works for her father who is a republican that previously she had very left-leaning or democratic views. so we don't really know where she is on the political spectrum. but you can't dismiss it for the simple fact in american history we have seen the sort of heirs of political leaders, whether it was the kennedys or the bushes or the -- you name it, they have sort of passed down that mantle. so it is not a -- it is not sort of something as quickly dismiss as many might. > and if donald trump can be president, why can't ivanka trump be president? i mean, you know, you're not going to -- everyone stick around. everyone stick around. what are democrats saying about
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trump v. bannon? we're going to talk to a top democratic senator next. vo: gopi's found a way to keep her receipts tidy, even when nothing else is. brand vo: snap and sort your expenses with quickbooks and find, on average, $4,340 in tax savings.
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we're back with our politics lead. the explosive comment miss former trump white house adviser steve bannon, the chairman of breitbart news says the now inif plus june 2016 meeting with donald trump jr., paul manafort and jared kushner and a russian lawyer was, quote, treasonous and unpatriotic. joining me now to talk about this and much more, the top
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democrat on the senate foreign relations committee, senator ben cardin of maryland. senator, thanks for joining us. do you agree with bannon that the meeting was unpatriotic and treasonous? >> well, jake, first, it's good to be with you. it's interesting to see this play out as far as what's in the book, as far as what steve bannon has said and what the president is saying. mr. mueller is going to have to sort all of this out. i'm sure he is sorting all of this out. exactly why that meeting took place, what took place in that meeting, was there cooperation between the trump campaign and the russians? all of that is part of the investigation being done by mr. mueller. and despite the president's comments about that investigation, i have confidence that mr. mueller will get to the bottom of what happened there. >> the general argument that bannon was making i think in this excerpt was that having this meeting, being promised dirt and then not going to the fbi, which are established facts, we don't need to wait for mueller on that, that that in itself was unpatriotic and
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treasonous. do you agree with that? >> it's clearly wrong to have contacts with foreign agents in order to get information for a domestic campaign in the united states. and that's what we've been told to date. the circumstances surrounding it and how much cooperation there was between the russians and the trump campaign is something that we really do need the independent investigation. >> bannon was also asked about the president and vladimir putin. he said he went to russia and he thought he was going to meet putin but putin couldn't give a bleep about him so he's kept trying. the basic idea is that he -- there is no collusion there according to bannon, it's just president trump has tried to get in putin's good graces. >> there have been so many contacts made between representatives of the trump campaign and representatives of russia. before the campaign and even after the campaign. and one has to wonder why all of those attempts were made and
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whether there was some coordination here. and, again, i don't want to draw the conclusion. i can tell you each one of these contacts are very, very difficult to understand. why would you even go down that road as an american, to contact russians for information for our campaign? that's hard to understand why that would even be contemplated in any type of campaign, but particularly a campaign for the presidency of the united states. >> well, we're in a historic time i guess, senator. we're in a time of many first and another one is just what's playing out today in front of the cameras and online, bannon saying what he did about donald trump jr. in that meeting, president trump saying that bannon lost his job and then lost his mind. what do you make of this all? >> well, you know, president trump was building up mr. bannon before he tries to tear him down. he was president trump's number one political adviser. so it's hard to understand how the president could change his views on an individual so
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quickly. i think we understand why but it's a -- it lacks a lot of credibility, the president's comments. >> i must ask you, sir, the president tweeted last night that his nuclear button as opposed to kim jong-un's is bigger and more powerful and his works. i want you to take a listen to white house press secretary sarah sanders responding today to questions about that provocative tweet. >> i don't think that it's taunting to stand up for the people of this country. i think what's dangerous is to ignore the continued threats. if the previous administration had done anything and dealt with north korea, dealt with iran, instead of sitting by and doing nothing, we wouldn't have to clean up their mess now. >> what's your response to what she said? and what's your response to the tweet last night? >> well, first of all, the -- for the president of the united states to use that type of language in a tweet is unacceptable. it's not the first time. i'm sure it's not going to be the last time but we should
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always challenge that type of conduct from the president of the united states. what we need is serious diplomacy. and serious diplomacy means the united states leads by working with not just our allies in the region, the republic of korea and japan, but also with china in developing an off-ramp to end this crisis in negotiating with north korea. president trump has made that all much more difficult. this is not a mess created by one administration, this is a mess that north korea has created but president trump has made it more difficult to deal with. >> senator ben cardin, always good to see you. happy new year, sir. thank you for your time. so much to discuss in the michael wolff book, including the report there was a warning for michael flynn accepting a check for a speech he delivered in russia and he dismissed it. . i'm not really a wall street guy. what's the hesitation? eh, it just feels too complicated, you know? well sure, at first, but jj can help you with that. jj, will you break it down for this gentleman? hey, ian. you know, at td ameritrade, we can walk you through your options trades step by step
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we have some breaking news in the russia investigation this afternoon. paul manafort, the former trump campaign chairman, indicted on money laundering and other charges, today filed a lawsuit channelling the broad authority of special counsel robert mueller. manafort ladies and gentlemen of the juries that the justice department violated the law in appointing mueller and says his alleged crimes have nothing to do with the 2016 campaign. a justice department spokesperson called the lawsuit frivolous. some breaking news. the russia investigation is, of course, relevant to the book "fire and fury: inside the trump white house" by michael wolff
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because there is this really very stark excerpt in which steve bannon calls this meeting unpatriotic, the meeting at trump tower. unpatriotic and treasonous. and also goes on later in the book, saying he was convinced that donald trump jr. did tell his father about the meeting, even though trump has said that he didn't. now we don't know if this is because bannon knows something or just suspected, as you note, speculated. but if that were true, that would mean that president trump had not told the truth about it. >> that's exactly why i think he should be called to testify. i think he should -- >> steve bannon? >> steve bannon. because he's saying this if it's just based on some theory or doesn't know it to be true, but if he knowto be true, if donald trump jr. told him it was true, trump himself told him or mike flynn told him, you know, i think that's really important information because then we would know that the president himself was part of an effort to collude with the russians. >> speaking of michael flynn, the book describes friends of michael flynn warning him that the $45,000 he made off a speech
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in russia might be a problem. this is before the election. and flynn responds, it would only be a problem if we won. therefore, according to this excerpt, flynn not thinking that they were going to win either, and that's one of the reasons he was involved in so many of these business dealings that have since come out and really damaged his standing. >> sure. i mean, and those lack of skruples and willingness to take money from russians is one of the reasons he's wound up pleading guilty to charges from the special counsel. but i also think it goes to a general mindset in the trump campaign during those final months. these were not seasoned political professionals. these were by and large not people who expected they were going to win and essentially saw this as a launching off point for future business opportunities, whether it was a trump television that i believe jared kushner was getting ready to launch or steve bannon might have been willing to launch. whether it was some new season of a trump reality show.
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not a lot of people in that campaign were giving serious thought to how are we going to govern. the one person who was, chris christie, dubbed to be transition director, was fired pretty early on. >> you know, as you talk about these people not being the most seasoned political operatives, i thought to myself, and you could tell because they cooperated with michael wolff with this book. there is a difference between cooperating with a reporter who is definitely going to be favorable and shares your point of view and has 15 books behind him or a reporter like bob woodward who is definitely looking for juicy bits but also a very respected, you know, centerpiece of american journalism at "the washington post" and michael wolff who has a reputation for writing buzzy books. i don't truly understand why they would cooperate. >> yeah, and think the best approach is to always ask yourself when you're considering whether or not to cooperate with a documentary or a book, is this
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going to fit into the larger blueprint that we have for the campaign or this white house? and does it serve the president and his agenda? or if i think what happened here was this was a consideration about whether or not it was a vanity play for a bunch of staffers. they were going to, you know, puff themselves up and that's where it went terribly wrong. >> i mean, but let's just look at the first year. i mean, it's not that they just, you know, went after each other in this book, they went after each other in "the washington post" and "the new york times." >> and breitbart. >> there was a lot of leaking of different factions against each other. leakings of meetings where they were trying to resolve the different factions. i look at this book as an extension between the war of different factions of the white house who obviously didn't see the interests of the president ahead of their own personal interests. >> if you have a dysfunctional family, don't invite a social work tore write a report. everyone stick around. one report on why president trump has an affinity for
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mcdonald's. stick around.
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and back with my political panel. we're discussing this new book that claims to reveal the inner workings of the trump campaign and trump administration. endless anecdotes. let me share one, a very interesting excerpt. president trump getting used to his new home at the white house and the housekeeping staff. quote, he imposed a set of rules, nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush. then it says in parenthetical, he had a longtime fear of being poisoned. one reason he liked to eat at mcdonald's. nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade. i don't know if that's true. >> that sounds like a convenient excuse to say you like mcdonald's. >> i think it's a 3d chess that gets you into the white house. >> i mean mcdonald's food does poison you, it takes decades to do it, to kill you.
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but odd -- again, we're talking about the reason why the white house would give michael wolff such access, knowing that this is a president who has some eccentricities, is it fair to say? why would you invite a report tore have a berth for six months? i don't fault the reporter at all. >> this is what's so interesting about this. donald trump actually publicly humiliates his staff, right? >> all the time. >> he publicly humiliated sean spicer. he publicly humiliated reince priebus. >> we don't have all day. don't do everybody. >> steve bannon. >> no, no, no, we can't do them all. >> i'm just saying then they leave the white house and they can all be sources for a book. it's like obviously one of the downsides of attacking your staff is that they're probably less loyal to you and keep fewer of your secrets. now sounds like some of the people who actually stayed were
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also attacking him as well. >> these sources were sources in the white house. bannon was in the white house. >> while this was going on. >> i wonder if a lot of this isn't like an abused child thing where they get criticize by the boss, want a little credit and essentially think, oh, i'll cozy up to this nice-seeming writing here and tell him all my secrets. i don't know. i wouldn't have done it. >> i really do -- i'm really at a loss for words on why they would allow this type of unfetterred access. >> mitt romney allowed in a documentary crew and it ended up being a lovely documentary about him that showed a real human side of him. he already lost the presidential election. that decision must have been difficult as well. >> we had in total control of that documentary. -- real documentaries show the raw, untouched footage. this was a documentary much more like a home movie. >> oh, okay. you controlled it more. >> look at the beautiful sunsets on the beach. all the wonderful staff meetings. they don't see all the fighting. >> i see.
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very interesting. that's the way to do it. everyone, thank you so much. that's it for "the lead." i'm going to be back for a special prime time edition of "the lead" at 10:00 p.m. eastern. my guest will be ohio governor john kasich. i turn you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." thanks for watching. happening now, breaking news. bannon fired. in a new book, former white house chief strategist steve bannon unloads a canny volley of vitreal on president trump and his family, call the donald trump jr. meeting with russians in trump tower treasonous and unpatriotic and saying that the russia investigation is all about money laundering. lost his mind. president trump let's loose saying when bannon lost his job, quote, he lost his mind. the president dismisses bannon's role in the campaign and the white house, saying he only pretends to have had influence. suing mueller. former t