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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Shames Sessions, Says "Time Will Tell" On His Fate; Trump "Disappointed" In Sessions, Won't Say If He Should Go; Fear Grows On Capitol Hill As Trump Refuses To Back Sessions; Trump Intensifies Attacks On Sessions, Won't Rule Out Firing Him; McCain Makes Dramatic Return After Brain Cancer Diagnosis. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired July 25, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin Burnett "OUTFRONT" stars right now.
ERIN BURNETT, OUTFRONT HOST: OutFront next, breaking news, the President won't say whether he'll fire his Attorney General. His only answer, time will tell. What game is President Trump playing? And top Trump adviser, Jared Kushner, behind close doors on Capitol Hill for about three hours. I'm going to talk to one of the House investigators who ask the questions.
Plus, the senators blunt comments caught on tape, pajamas, a playboy bunny, all on a hot mike. Let's go OutFront.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett: OutFront tonight, the breaking news, time will tell. President Trump playing coy when it comes to the fate of his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump's fur error building as the Russia investigation gains steam. The President blames the Russia situation on Sessions who, of course, recused himself from anything related to the Trump campaign and Russia in March, any investigations.
Now the President is ramping up the attacks tweeting today that Sessions has taken, "a very weak position on Hillary Clinton." And then, at a Rose Garden press conference today, when asked twice about Sessions, Trump slammed his Attorney General, but refused to discuss his immediate future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARGARET TALEV, REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Whether you want him to resign on his own, whether you're prepared to fire him if he doesn't, and why you're sort of letting him twist in the wind.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am disappointed in the Attorney General. He should not have recused himself almost immediately after he took office. I told you before, I'm very disappointed with the Attorney General but we will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: His words are stunning and unprecedented. Look, it's clear. Trump is denigrating Sessions. There's no other word for it. It's clear he wants him gone, right? But he is playing a game The President of the United States won't say whether he'll fire the nation's top law enforcement official.
And Trump, again, upping the ante in his war or words against Sessions today even later on telling the Wall Street Journal that Sessions only endorsed him because of Trump's crowds. Not out of through loyalty or belief.
In the interview the Wall Street Journal, the President said, "When they say he enforced me, I went to Alabama. I had 40,000 people. He was the a senator from Alabama. He looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, "What do I have to lose?" And he enforced me. So it's not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement."
Not a loyal thing. Well let's be clear about one thing that it was. Jeff Sessions took great political risk when he became the first sitting senator to endorsed candidate Trump. In fact, he was ridiculed by many for doing so.
Sessions, a Tea Party favored, gave his endorsement two days before the Super Tuesday primary. Remember then? That's when so many, even within the heart of the GOP, Trump was a joke. They weren't taking him seriously. Sessions did. And he has a lot of defenders against the President's attack.
Tonight, Republicans choosing, and they are choosing Sessions, not Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: I think the Attorney General is doing a fine job, and I think he made the right decision to recuse himself from the Russia matter.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: He made the right decision to recuse himself. I happen to agree with him. I think Jeff Sessions did the right thing.
REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If there's any person on Capitol Hill that has been loyal to the President of the United States, it's Jeff Sessions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Sara Murray is OutFront tonight, traveling with the President in Youngstown, Ohio. He and Melania Trump will be appearing live at any moment at one of those rallies that he loves to do. Sara, what is the thinking right now inside the White House on what Trump is doing by denigrating his Attorney General so publically and mercilessly?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are many insider (ph) who are in the White House who are watching Donald Trump leaving Jeff Sessions in the wind and they are trying convince President Trump to keep him on. They are (INAUDIBLE) saying look, this is someone who's executing your agenda.
BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you very much. And, obviously, you could hear that. Very hard to hear. So much the background noise right there.
Jeffrey Toobin is with me, our senior legal analyst. Gloria Borger, our chief political analyst and Michael Bender, the White House supporter for the Wall Street Journal who interviewed the President today. He's also a new CNN political analyst. So welcome, we appreciate you being with us, Michael. And I want to start with you, because you spoke with the President today. You interviewed him, you talked about the Attorney General and I read part of the quote there a moment ago. He told you, Senator Sessions support was about crowd size, not loyalty. Really?
MICHAEL BENDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
BURNETT: Does he really believe this?
BENDER: I think so. Well, what does he really believe? I'm not sure. I know it was stunning to sit this across from him at the desk in the Oval Office this morning and hear that come out of his mouth. We had tried a few times to talk to him about Sessions, and we're trying to push him specifically -- I mean, obviously, he's been going after Sessions really tormenting him for the last couple of weeks now and trying to push him to say why won't you just fire him?
[19:05:12] At what point is enough, enough here? And time -- and again he just say he wouldn't bite on that, just kept repeating that he was disappointed. And then offered up this anecdote about how his endorsement wasn't really a show of loyalty.
Interestingly, he couched that just before he started talking about Sessions is a non-loyal, disloyal endorsement. He spoke -- he praised Anthony, Scaramucci, his new Communications Director, which everyone remembers endorsed Scott Walker first and then -- and Jed Bush second and then went to Trump after he was pretty much out of options.
Trump sort of shrugged that off this morning saying --
BENDER: -- that Scaramucci came to him earlier. He wanted to endorse me, but I wasn't ready to run, and then almost immediately contrasted that with Sessions who -- you know, you ran all the tape on Sessions and all these Republicans supporting him. Sessions was the only Republican senator --
BENDER: -- to endorse Trump during the primary. BURNETT: And -- I mean, lone and as I said, ridiculed by many. I mean, let's just be honest here. You know, if we look back at that moment -- I mean, you know, there was another quote in Michael's interview with the President. Michael, as you had indicated, you were pushing him, why don't you just fire him? Why don't you just fire him? And he said to you, "I'm just looking at it. I'll just see. It's a very important thing."
And then, of course -- let me play again, Gloria, a brief clip of what he said when he was asked in press at the press conference today about whether he'll fire Jeff Sessions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm very disappointed with the Attorney General, but we will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, Gloria, this is the usual, right? This is the tease before the commercial break. Somehow he thinks that, you know, dangling this out there is funny or good for him, right? But this is the top law enforcement official in this country. This is serious. This isn't reality TV. Why is he doing it?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Because this is the way Donald Trump has operated for decades. When you talk to people who have worked for Donald Trump 10, 20, 30 years ago, what they will tell you is that when he didn't like somebody, he would just make their lives a misery and keep, you know, keep just, you know, throwing things in their way, insulting them, making life miserable for them until they up and quit. And that may be what he's trying to do with Jeff Sessions.
I think from the other point of view, the question you have to ask is why doesn't Jeff Sessions just quit? And I think that, you know, there is a sense that he carries the President's agenda, unlike a lot of people in the administration. He was loyal, as you were pointing out, and he agrees with him and is pushing his most important issues, not the least of which is immigration.
BURNETT: Right. I mean, Jeffrey Toobin, it is pretty stunning here. And, by the way, one would call this in another format abuse of people.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. But there's also a larger issue here about the American legal system, which is conflicts of interest are something that are real and the system is designed to try to address those. And one way -- the United States Department of Justice, the Attorney General is a cabinet member, but he is also the chief law enforcement officer who cannot investigate a campaign in which he was a principal participant.
So, it's quite obvious that Sessions was right to recuse himself. He had to recuse himself. That's what all the senators, Democrats and Republicans are saying. BURNETT: Yes.
TOOBIN: And what the President is saying is that even in law enforcement, where you are supposed to have a measure of objectivity, I expect loyalty rather than impartiality and that's a kind of scary thought.
BURNETT: And then Gloria, does it matter, you know, politically how this ends, right? As in quitting versus being fired, right, in terms of just the stability of things.
BORGER: Well, I think it does matter in a lot of ways. Well, let me just say. If Jeff Sessions is gone, then the dominos can start to fall and maybe it matters because the President can still continue to blame Jeff Sessions rather than himself for any of this.
BURNETT: When you say dominos, you mean --
BORGER: Well --
BURNETT: -- this issue or others quitting?
BORGER: Well, what I mean is if Jeff Sessions is gone, there is a question of who becomes the next attorney general, and that would be very difficult. And this is all about firing the special counsel. So, then the President would presumably want Rod Rosenstein to take some action against the special counsel. If he doesn't, he'll quit or he'll be fired, right? Or he'll be fired.
[19:10:06] And then you down to Rachel Brand who is the number three. What happens there? What happens in Congress? You know, then everything else comes to a halt because the President can't get his mind around the fact that somebody who works for him might actually be independent. I mean, that's a very difficult circle for Donald Trump to square there. He can't.
BURNETT: And, Jeff, what is the significance, though, if this is the road that we end up going down? I mean, who is the attorney general work for? He's a nominee by the President, appointed by the President. Does he work for him? Or does he work for us, the people?
TOOBIN: I mean, this is the thing about the Attorney General, is that he is different from the Secretary of Commerce. He's different from the Secretary of State. Those people are as responsible solely for executing the policies of the President of the United States.
But the Department of the Justice is different. It is expected to, from administration to administration, have a certain degree of independence and objectivity when it comes to investigating its own. And Donald Trump has utterly no understanding of that. No appreciation for this tradition in the department. And the question is -- the question here has always been, when will any Republicans call him on it? And the answer is probably not soon and maybe not ever.
BURNETT: I mean, here's the thing, Michael. You do have -- I mean, in terms of just defending Sessions, you heard a few of them right there, Richard Shelby also on that list. Two huge Trump supporters also saying he did the right thing. Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich standing by Jeff Sessions, all right, saying that he is in Sessions' corner.
BURNETT: How bad is it for the President now that you have Republicans saying that? You have people like Rudy Giuliani, you have people like Newt Gingrich, they're all saying it. Does it matter to him at all?
BENDER: I don't know. I mean, we're going to see. This is a big one here for the President. No question about it. I mean, we have been wondering about when the dam is going to break Trump's base for a year and a half, right? And he won the primary. He tore through all these other Republican presidential candidates, the cream (ph) of the field without any help from Senate Republicans other than Jeff Sessions, of course.
So, you know, I don't think their criticism of him is going to mean a whole lot. But there are -- but Sessions represents something different here, right? I mean, Sessions is the core of the Trump base.
I will say, you know, he went after Steve Bannon about -- when was that -- a month ago, couple of months ago. Bannon didn't quit and survived that and we're sort of in a similar situation, where Trump can really afford to get rid of someone who is such an avatar of the base. If that was true for Bannon, it's certainly true for Sessions and it will be interesting in the next few hours here, next 12 to 24 hours to see if any of these, you know, crucial voices in the arch conservative media in Trump base world start pushing back on this.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all.
And next, you're the President, start acting like it. Those words from a top senator to Trump about his obsession with Hillary Clinton. And on boy scouts, the CIA, the military, all audiences right now, subject to Trump's political mud slinging. And Senator John McCain making a dramatical and emotional return to Capitol Hill. Sanjay Gupta is OutFront.
[19:17:14] BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump unclear on Attorney General Jeff Sessions' fate. Fear going on Capitol Hill as a growing number of Republicans are worried about Trump's attack on Sessions. One of his earliest and most loyal supporters. Trump, of course, says, we will see what happens. Time will tell when it comes to the fate of Sessions.
Dana Bash is OutFront. And Dana, why are Republicans so concerned about this? It actually seems like it's not necessarily about Sessions anymore. It is getting personal. DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. Look -- I mean, first and foremost, Jeff Sessions was one of their own. He was a senator until seven months ago, six months ago, and he was in their caucus. So there is that.
I will say that, you know, he certainly wasn't, you know, part of the establishment. He was somebody who kind of chafed against some of the things that Republican leaders did and he was, you know, certainly part of the conservative wing, which is why it was such a big deal for him to endorse Donald Trump back in the campaign, and why that endorsement and bringing along the base that went with the Jeff Sessions, you know, approval was important to Donald Trump.
But where we are right now has been fascinating just to watch it unfold today, Erin, because, you know, despite the fact that he wasn't always sort of, you know, buddy, buddy with the whole crowd, the Republican senators one by one came out starting with Lindsey Graham in the morning to say, you know what, this is wrong. He was right to recuse himself and, you know, basically cut it out.
Now, not every senator as we've seen statements come out throughout the day has been very focussed on the recusal. It's more like, you know, some of them have said like Tom Cotton, for example, put out a statement to his Senator from Arkansas saying, you know, he's going the right thing at the Justice Department. He is fighting crime. He is dealing with the immigration. He should stay there.
But I think the notion, Erin, that these senators are being asked and I had two senior Republican senators say this to me in the hallways today, are being asked to walk the plank and do what the President wants them to do on health care and at the same time they're seeing the President go after in a really unprecedented way his own Attorney General, their former colleague after they believe he was unbelievable loyal to Donald Trump, they're saying, wait a second, how do I know that he's going to have my back. So there's a very real dynamic kind of connecting the health care and the legislative priorities of the President and what they're saying he's doing to their former colleague.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Dana Bash. And, of course, if that pans out, obviously, that's the price the President cannot afford to pay, if he wants to get anything pass, right, whether it's health care or his budget reform, the wall.
[19:20:06] OutFront now, Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, Ed Markey, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And Senator, I appreciate your time tonight.
Look, it is the sixth day in the row the President has bullied his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, denigrated him twice today in the Rose Garden obviously. And the President says we'll see what happens. Time will tell, right? Not going to say whether he's going to keep him or not. What is your reaction, Senator?
SEN. ED MARKEY (D), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, you don't have to be Dick Tracy to figure out what's going on. First Donald Trump fires Jim Comey. Now he is asking Jeff Sessions essentially to resign and with kind of academically threat that if you don't, you'll be fired and it's all heading towards Robert Mueller and his investigation. That's what this is all about. That's what it's always been about. It is about the Russian investigation and these footsteps that keep getting closer to the Oval Office.
So, what the President is doing is basically setting the stage for a constitutional crisis. He is setting the stage for this entire city and country to head into a political twilight zone, where he is repeating the history of Richard Nixon on his Saturday Night Massacre or Archibald Cox and Elliot Richardson and unfortunately we know how that ended. And, so, this is playing out not exactly but very closely down the line with the Nixon years and it is really going to be an issue that brings Democrats and Republicans together.
BURNETT: OK. So, I understand that you and Donald Trump have very different reasons for thinking what may be the same thing. But I must ask you this. Look, you -- Senator Markey, you've been so critical of Attorney General Sessions. You voted against his nomination, you called on him to resign when he admitted he failed to disclose those meetings with the Russian ambassador. You demand he be investigated over his role in the firing of Jim Comey. I mean, look this is a guy it would seem you would be happy to see go.
MARKEY: Listen, I make no bones about it. I voted against Jeff Sessions as the Attorney General of the United States. But this is not about that. This is about rule of law, not the rule of Trump.
If he decides that he's unhappy with Jeff Sessions because the investigation of his campaigns connection to Russia is getting too close and he's unhappy that Jeff Sessions obeyed the rule of law and recused himself, well, that creates a real problem because, ultimately, we have to be able to say to the American people that the Attorney General, the Justice Department is not cowled by a president when an investigation is getting too close to him.
BURNETT: So you said getting too close to him and that echoes what you said just a moment ago to me, you said, that the footsteps are getting closer to the Oval Office. Look, the President's son-in-law, his senior adviser Jared Kushner right there, he met with the House Intelligence Committee today and he insists then, as he insisted in his statement here that he did not collude with Russia. Here is Mr. Kushner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: Let me be very clear. I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Do you believe him, or do you think he went, stood outside the White House and lied?
MARKEY: I think that we don't know the truth yet. Jared Kushner basically has belatedly (ph) revealed four times when he met with Russian officials that had not been previously disclosed. Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., each and every one of these individuals who are in his family or in his campaign who knew what was going on with the Russians trying to insinuate themselves into the presidential campaign should testify in public under oath before the United States Congress and the American public so that we can know everything that happened. And then we could begin to piece it altogether and understand what exactly happened to our presidential election.
BURNETT: Before we go, of course, the emotional moment of the day. The powerful moment was your colleague Senator John McCain returning to the Senate 11 days after having a tumor removed, being diagnosed with brain cancer. He made a passionate plea to both parties. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: -- wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That's an approach that's been employed by both sides. I don't think any of us feels very proud of our incapacity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It was an emotional moment. It was a powerful statement that he made. But when he says, I don't think any of us feels proud of our incapacity, Senator, do you share that feeling? Do you feel shame at what Congress does not do for the American people?
[19:25:13] MARKEY: John McCain is a friend of mine. He's an American hero. I went over to give him a hug on the Senate floor. But the reality is that the process that Mitch McConnell is using right now, that Speaker Ryan is using completely eliminates any democratic participation. No hearings, no witnesses, no bipartisanship whatsoever.
That's what John McCain was railing about, and it is shameful. I agree with him. It is shameful that we do not have a process in public where the American people can see what's going to happen to our health care system that is going to affect them and one-sixth of the American economy. It is all being done in secret. I agree with John McCain. There is something fundamentally wrong with a political system that cannot have this debate in public.
BURNETT: All right. Senator Markey, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
MARKEY: Thank you.
BURNETT: And OutFront next, why President Trump just can't quit Hillary Clinton. And Senator Susan Collins caught on a hot mike.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Well, he's huge. And he -- I don't mean to be unkind, but he's so unattractive it's unbelievable. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Who is she talking about, and why?
BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump told to cut it out after repeatedly attacking Hillary Clinton, including not one but two tweets about Clinton today.
The Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein tweeting just a short time ago, "I'm appalled you keep going after Hillary. She can't be the reason for your every vendetta. You are the President --
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: -- told to cut it out after repeatedly attacking Hillary Clinton, including not one but two tweets about Clinton today.
[19:30:07] The Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein tweeting just a short time ago, I'm appalled you keep going after Hillary. She can't be the reason for your every vendetta. You're the president. Start acting like it.
Since Trump was elected, the president has repeatedly attacked Clinton, including at yesterday's speech to the Boy Scouts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, my opponent didn't work hard there because she was told -- she was told she was going to win Michigan.
Hillary Clinton got the questions to the debate and didn't report it? That's a horrible thing.
People are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Paul Begala, former counselor to President Clinton, and Jason Miller, former senior communications advisor for the Trump campaign.
Jason, let me start with you. Why can't he let it go? I mean, it would be one thing to slam Barack Obama all the time and blame him for things. That would seem natural.
But Hillary Clinton lost. She's gone. Why the obsession?
JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Erin, I'll agree with you that the president probably talks about Secretary Clinton a little bit too much. But I'll tell you where it does make sense, and that's in the fact
that I do believe that there is a large group of partisan opponents who I would put them in the category where I call them the election deniers. They're the folks who just can't get over the fact that President Trump won. He won fair and square. He got 306 electoral votes. And they're looking for any possible way they can to try to tear down this president ever since last November.
But I think there is another point that the president has been coming back to the last couple of days where I do think that he's spot on, and that's the double standard, which the way that he's been treated in this administration and the way that Secretary Clinton was treated. I mean, we're talking about the secret server where things just magically got dropped. We're talking about -- remember they took the hammer and they broke the BlackBerrys and then they acid washed all the e-mails. And so, it's -- Secretary Clinton --
BURNETT: Those things, though, Jason, may have cost her the election. He is now a sitting president, right? I mean, you know, it would seem fair that they're focusing on a sitting president versus someone who lost, right?
MILLER: But the point being is that folks just can't let this entire Russia cloud go. And so, let's take Jared Kushner, example, where we had this build up for weeks and months, and again, the Democrats on the other side of the aisle kept -- you know, we have to see what's there. We have to see what's there.
And Jared Kushner comes up and he answers the questions and even -- I'd say even the most objective people would say that he did a very good job in answering folks questions and that thing turned out to be the single biggest waste of time since Michael Phelps versus the shark. But still, that is never going to quench the thirst from the opponents who want to tear down this president and the people around him.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think somebody needs a hug. And I don't mean it's Jason. I think it's our president.
I mean, clearly, his mama didn't hug him enough. He has this bizarre fixation on winning generally and Hillary Clinton particularly.
You make a good point. Fair is fair. Every president attacks their predecessor because, oh, I inherited such a mess. Except for George Washington, they all do that. So, I cut him a lot of slack for attacking President Obama frankly.
But this is weird. And it's kind of a banana republic, a banana Republican thing, right? Threatening to prosecute your political opponent? That's -- that's really sick. And what it is, we know what's going on here. Three million more Americans voted for Hillary, OK? Now, the president was able to sneak through customs via the Electoral College with the help of Vladimir Putin, a hostile foreign power. (CROSSTALK)
BURNETT: Let's get Jason in this. It was fair and square. We run by the Electoral College, right?
BEGALA: Yes, we do.
BURNETT: I mean, I'm just saying the word sneak doesn't really --
BEGALA: We don't run by Vladimir Putin's rules. And the Russian government attacked America.
MILLER: You mean the Constitution?
BEGALA: John McCain called it an act of war. Senator McCain, no Democrat, he called it an act of war, and it was.
Mr. Trump is trying to block an investigation of that act of war, which taints his election. If I were a Trump supporter, I would want to punish Russia. I would want to get the facts out.
Somehow Mr. Trump is trying to distract from that, perhaps because he has guilty knowledge of what the Russians were doing, maybe perhaps because he just needs a hug and he hates women and he hates Hillary. I don't know which, but the guy has definitely got issues and I really think it's more about Russia, mother Russia than it is about Mrs. Clinton.
BURNETT: So, Jason, you know, here's the thing -- when you hear about the Hillary Clinton comments, right? He made one last night. Obviously, he's at those rally now. He has -- he's facing some criticism because he spoke to the Boy Scouts yesterday and there was obviously politics in that.
But, look, he's done this before. He's gone to a place that people don't feel should be political, whether it is the CIA or the military or the Boy Scouts and he has made it political. Here he is at the Coast Guard, at the CIA, and with the Boy Scouts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You can't let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams. I guess that's why I won. Thank you. I guess that's why we won.
Honestly, it looked like a million and a half people, whatever it was, it was. But it went all the way back to the Washington Monument.
We ought to change it from the word swamp to the word cesspool or perhaps to the word sewer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:35:07] BURNETT: Maybe, Jason, in the final one, he was trying to appeal to Boy Scouts potty humor with the age group, I don't know. But the point is, do you think that it is appropriate that he talks like this to these audiences?
MILLER: Look, President Trump is going to communicate the way he's going to communicate. And I think that's part of his appeal. The fact that he doesn't have these canned sound bites and he's not going to sound like a typical politician.
And, you know, but let's take last night's speech to the Boy Scouts, for example. You know, President Trump did have some very strong messages about faith and resilience that were in those remarks. Yes, did President Trump make the speech fun? Did he not sound like a typical politician? Did he work in a little bit of jabbing the previous opponents or the previous administration? Absolutely.
But you know what? At least President Trump went and spoke to the Boy Scouts. It had been since 2005 since a sitting president had gone and spoke to them. So, good for him for doing that.
You know what? As they showed the visuals across the crowd of all these kids, these kids were excited. They were pumping their fists. They were excited they have their president there. And I think he was making fun and I think the people who were there watching viewed it as fun as well.
BURNETT: As, of course, we should all hope any child should be. They should be proud of their president. He should be someone they should look up to.
Paul, Jason got the first word, you should have the last.
BEGALA: Yes, I think the headline is 70-year-old adolescent boy speaks to 14-year-old adolescent boys. I think it's great. Jason is right. It's terrific the president went to the Boy Scouts.
It's shameful that he was so political. But there is nothing, there is nothing, nothing that Donald Trump won't drag down and besmirch. The commissioning of the Gerald R. Ford, our great aircraft carrier, which he had nothing to do with, right? His predecessors in the White House and Congress paid for that carrier, he made that political.
Everything he does, he brings down. And he communicates the way he does, Jason. But as you know, when you worked for him, you got him 46 percent of the vote, second place, but not bad. He's now down to like 39. He's losing altitude with this very unpresidential behavior.
And so, it is not helping him at all. I'm glad, frankly, you are with CNN and not with the Trump White House, or maybe he back up at 46 where you had him.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks --
MILLER: But he did get 306 electorals. So, I'll take it.
BEGALA: And 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. I don't know if I mentioned that, but he lost. The will of the people is that Hillary Clinton be their president.
BURNETT: And this -- and this I think is the crux of what Jason was saying at the beginning. Thank you both.
And OUTFRONT next, Senator Collins on a hot mic.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: He's so unattractive, it's unbelievable.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Who was she talking about? And Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Senator John McCain's dramatic return this afternoon to Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I have every intention of returning here and giving many of you pause to regret all the nice things you said about me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:41:20] BURNETT: New tonight, Jared Kushner back on the Hill for a second day. The president's senior advisor went before lawmakers. Three hours of answering questions about his meetings with Russians during the presidential campaign, this time it was before the House Intelligence Committee.
And OUTFRONT now, a Republican who was there questioning Kushner. Congressman Chris Stewart of Utah.
Good to talk to you again, Congressman. I appreciate your time.
REP. CHRIS STEWART (R-UT), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good to be with you.
BURNETT: Look, you had time to ask questions today leading into this, of course. You had said it was troubling that Donald Trump Jr., along with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with that Russian lawyer who said she had dirt on Hillary Clinton from high levels of the Russian government. After hearing from Kushner asking questions today in that room for three hours, what do you say? Does the meeting still worry you?
STEWART: You know, I think he was actually a great witness. He came across as very honest, very sincere. And I just have to say this -- I know that some people will go tonight dreaming of Donald Trump being impeached but Jared Kushner is just not the vehicle to get them there.
He appeared to be very honest. He had great explanations for these things that were concerning to some of us. And I think thought it was actually a very good -- a very good interview.
BURNETT: Now, that's important to hear. Of course, I just want to get your take on the bottom line here, though. We do know Kushner admitted this particular meeting, right, through three revisions of his security clearance form.
STEWART: Yes, yes.
BURNETT: The meeting invitation and the email came into his inbox with the subject line, quote, Russia-Clinton, private and confidential. Yesterday, though, in his public statement, Kushner said the e-mail was on top of a long back and forth that I didn't read at the time as I did with most e-mails when I was working remotely. I quickly reviewed on my iPhone the relevant message that the meeting would occur at 4:00 p.m. at his office.
Are you comfortable now? You buy his excuses and his reasons at this time?
STEWART: Yes, yes. I mean, you call them excuses, but they really are I think reasonable explanations. And I think you brought up two things. One is the SF86, this very, very long form that anyone who gets a security clearance is required to fill out.
And, you know, as a former Air Force B-1 pilot, I had to do that. You go back 10 years, sometimes longer. Some of these are hundreds of pages for people. It's not unusual at all for someone to fill out the FS86 and then add or to do revisions. I think that's what happened to him.
And again, that's not unusual. In fact, that's more common than uncommon.
In regards to the meeting and some of the subject lines, look, he's already said and I already said to you, it was -- it was dumb to take this meeting. It was dumb to take it under the kind of the guise that it was presented.
But I actually don't think that Jared knew what the meeting was about. It was down in the chain. I think the subject line he saw was meeting with his brother-in-law. But, you know, once you dive down and really ask questions about this, he only stayed for three minutes.
BURNETT: So, he says he saw a different subject line?
STEWART: He did. And he only stayed for a few minutes. While he was there, he realized there wasn't anything of real interest and he called one of his assistants and said call me so that I could leave and leave graciously.
STEWART: And that really was all he had to say about that meeting.
BURNETT: All right. So, I understand that you feel confident there. I do just want to play something for you. Just moments ago, the president is speaking at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio. And I just want to play something for you that he just said, Congressman. Here's the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can be more presidential than any president that's ever held this office -- that I can tell you. It's really easy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, Congressman, I want to make sure I give the full context. The beginning of that sound byte was, I said with the exception of the late great Lincoln, I could be more presidential than any president who has ever held this office.
STEWART: Yes. I don't know what you want me to say about that. I mean, that's one of the things about this president. He's unpredictable. He says things that, you know, we don't hear in political dialogue very often and that was endearing to a lot of Americans.
[19:45:04] And, frankly, it was part of the reason that he won.
Are there some of us who wish that he would in some ways, you know, maybe tone down the tweets, for example, or maybe temper some of his comments? Absolutely. It detracts for us.
I mean, here we are, we're talking about this rather than talking about the very important sanctions bill we passed today against Iran and North Korea and Russia. We're talking about this rather than, you know, the important health care debate that we're taking -- you know, that was going on today and that just makes it harder for those of us who are trying to do the work for the American people. But on the other hand, you've got to admit one thing, the president says what's on his mind and the American people, whether they agree or disagree, they do know what he's thinking.
BURNETT: So, he's thinking he's presidential.
All right. I want to ask you before you go, if I could, Congressman. I have some comments made by some of your colleagues.
BURNETT: All right? I want to start with Republican Congressman Blake Farenthold, your colleague, yesterday who was attacking some Republicans for this situation here with budget health care. Here he is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD (R), TEXAS: Some of the people that are opposed to this, there are female senators from the Northeast. If it was a guy from South Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, Susan Collins was one of those female senators who voted no. And here she is caught on tape speaking to the Democratic Senator Jack Reed. We're going to have subtitles, but I'll make sure you know the operative terms as we come out here, Senator Collins.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Did you see the one that challenged me to a duel?
SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLANS: I know. Trust me, do you know why he challenged you to a duel? Because you could beat the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of him.
COLLINS: Well, he's huge. And he -- I don't mean to be unkind, but he's so unattractive, it's unbelievable. Did you see the picture of him in his pajamas next to this Playboy bunny?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, Congressman, you know, she said he's a fat guy. He's huge. He's so unattractive. It's unbelievable -- if you couldn't hear him.
Now, look, Collins and Farenthold now apologized to each other. I mean, what do you think? Was Farenthold out of line to start this in the first place? Is what she said worse? How do you see it?
STEWART: Well, look, I'm not here to justify or to try to explain what some of my colleagues say, and frankly you could play Republicans, you could play Democrats, you could play some of the people that we interact with, you know, at town halls and others. And the reality is, is that that stuff isn't helpful and frankly doesn't reflect I think the best will of the American people.
I think they expect us to ask with a little more dignity and a little more decorum than that. And I tried to do that, but I'm not perfect. And I suppose some of these others aren't as well. But I can't -- again, I can't explain and I'm not here to answer to other people and the comments they make. I'm just saying, I think it's better for all of us if we try to treat each other with a little more respect and maybe some of those -- some of those did.
BURNETT: Maybe like some of those words from John McCain today.
All right. Congressman Stewart, I appreciate your time. Good to have you back.
STEWART: Yes. All right. Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, the top Republican senator under massive pressure at home casts a deciding vote on health care. Did comments like this sway Dean Heller?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republican turncoat, and Dean should have an RT next to his name. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And Sanjay Gupta on John McCain's return to the Senate floor, just days after major surgery on a brain tumor.
[19:51:36] BURNETT: New tonight, Senate Republicans clearing their first major hurdle to repeal and replace Obamacare, squeaking out a 51-50 vote to begin debate on their latest plan. Vice President Pence cast the tiebreaking vote. One big reasons for the victory was Senator Dean Heller.
Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.
MEGAN BARTH, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We're broadcasting live out of Las Vegas, Sin City, 790 talk now.
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Want to understand what kind of pressure Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller is under? Just turn on talk radio.
BARTH: So, let's talk about the consequences that Senator Dean Heller is facing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to get blown out of office.
WAYNE ALLYN ROOT, USA RADIO TALK HOST: Republican turncoat. And Dean Should have an RT next to his name.
LAH: A seething base that heard the threats from President Trump loud and clear.
TRUMP: We as a party must fulfill that solemn promise to the voters of this country to repeal and replace, what they've been saying for the last seven years.
LAH: The president made that threat intimately before, delivering it personally and publicly to Senator Heller.
TRUMP: Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn't he? OK. And I think the people of your state, which I know very well. I think they're going to appreciate what you hopefully will do.
LAH: Red meat to Nevada's Republican base, because of repeated promises Heller made. Candidate Heller in 2012.
SEN. DEAN HELLER (R), NEVADA: We also have to repeal this new health care bill, Obamacare, 21 new taxes. It's killing the middle class.
LAH: Senator Heller, 2017.
HELLER: I'm telling you right now, I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans.
ROOT: The entire Republican Party promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, and they got elected based on that promise. And now, they're all liars. And they've either got to do their job, of we've got to primary every one of them and knock them out. One and done Dean Heller, one and done everyone.
LAH: We heard the same call for Republican voters looking ahead to next year's Nevada Republican primary.
GENE LANGWORTHY, NEVADA REGISTERED REPUBLICAN: I hope he has a strong contender within the Republican Party.
LAH (on camera): Today, if you had to vote for him?
TODD HOWELL, NEVADA REGISTERED REPUBLICAN: I'd probably reluctantly vote for him just for lack of better options. But then again, it depends on who is running against him.
JON RALSTON, EDITOR, THE NEVADA INDEPENDENT: I'd say this is cannibalism going on, right? They're eating their own.
LAH: Political commentator Jon Ralston says Heller needs Nevada's conservative Republican conservative base to survive next year's primary.
GOV. BRIAN SANDOVAL (R), NEVADA: I want to compliment Senator Heller.
LAH: But he also needs moderates who support Nevada's popular Republican Governor Brian Sandoval. They stood side by side as they rejected the initial Senate health care bill -- a difficult dance that Ralston says has tripped up Heller.
RALSTON: What's Dean Heller are we going to see? So, one side doesn't trust him, and the other side is mad at him. That's tough to thread that needle and won a race.
LAH: So, today, Heller went with the GOP base. He decided not to cross Trump. But in a statement, he did leave a window open. He said that he will not vote for a repeal or a new plan where people in his state, the state of Nevada who rely on Medicaid, are left out in the cold -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Kyung, thank you very much. Pretty stunning there. The president certainly getting what he wants.
And next, Senator John McCain, back in business on the Senate floor today. Should he have been there less than two weeks after brain surgery?
[19:56:24] BURNETT: An emotional moment on the Senate floor today. Senator John McCain returning to Washington for the first time since his brain cancer diagnosis. McCain has been at home recovering from surgery on his skull. But he wanted to be there, to cast his vote on health care and address his friends and colleagues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I stand here today, looking a little worse for wear, I'm sure. I have a refreshed appreciation for the protocols and customs of this body and for the other 99 privileged souls who have been elected to this Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now is Dr. Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon and our chief medical correspondent.
And, Sanjay, thank you.
I know you've spoken to John McCain's doctors, of course, with the permission of the senator. How do you think he looked and sounded today?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think he looked -- he looked really good. You know, we saw him, even his walking, getting off the plane, and then speaking. You know, he was -- his speech was fluent. He's got no evidence of weakness. His energy was good. He looked really good.
You can obviously see the scar over the eyebrow, extending over the forehead a bit. He's got what we call raccoon's eye, or a black eye, which is pretty common after surgery like this. But he looked good, Erin. It's -- he had a quick recovery from the start, but 11 days out, he looked really good.
BURNETT: I mean, it's incredible. You know, I know he went straight to the Senate floor from the airport. He voted. He spoke for about 15 minutes. I mean, that's exhausting, right, for anyone?
But after that, I know he did cancel a press conference he was planning on doing. What do you make of that?
GUPTA: Well, you know, I think that -- we clearly have -- we see how he's doing on the floor of the Senate, able to speak fluently and have that energy. Sometimes people do get very tired when they've had an operation like this. Their window of time when you have good energy can be diminished.
So, you have times when you suddenly get very tired or I just don't know that I can read anything into it more from a medical standpoint. But what we saw there was this particular part of the brain where this tumor was affected, there's certain things I would look for. I would like to see if he has weakness on the right side of his body. I would like to see if his expression of his speech was somehow affected. I would like to see if his judgment seemed off.
Those are the areas -- that's the area of the brain that controls those things, and he just looked really solid there, Erin. BURNETT: So, Sanjay, I know he said he was going to back to work for
a few days and then return home for a while. What is next for him medically, given the operation he just went through, and given, of course, the prognosis of the tumor that he has?
GUPTA: Well, with this particular type of tumor, known as glioblastoma, which is a tumor that comes from the brain, as supposed to starting elsewhere from the body and spreading to the brain, the surgeons who I talked to said they believe they were able to remove everything that they saw, but you always have to expect there are some microscopic cells left behind. So, usually, after someone has fully recovered from surgery and fully -- their incisions are well-healed, they can start additional therapy, which is usually in the form of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Senator McCain, as you point out, that he's going to go home. He's going to be starting more treatments. He didn't say specifically what they were. But those are the types of treatments that are very associated with this -- the treatment of glioblastoma.
BURNET: All right. Thank you very much, Sanjay.
GUPTA: Yes, thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And thanks to all of you for joining us. Don't forget. You can watch OUTFRONT any time, anywhere on CNN Go.
"AC360" starts right now.