Return to Transcripts main page
Anthony Scaramucci Resigns After 11 Days; President Trump Awards Medal of Honor. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired July 31, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And this outsourcing of the -- being the person in charge, I think, is something very new to Donald Trump.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: But to get the best people, does chaos enable that?
I was just thinking, Brooke, about how it took months to find a new communications director.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Right.
CHALIAN: This was a vacant job for a long time.
Spicer was filling in, in the job. Then Scaramucci is finally named communications director. Trump had been trying to bring him in for a while. Reince had been apparently trying to block him. Anyway, finally Scaramucci was hired.
Who's going to get that job now? There were a lot of people in the conservative media world who talked about that job, who turned that job down. I wonder who, if anyone, if going to be coms director now.
BALDWIN: Let me hit pause on this conversation.
If you're joining us, let me just bring you all up to speed. Let me welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
It's not a dull Monday afternoon here in New York beyond. Here's the news. After being in his position as the communications chief at the White House, Anthony Scaramucci has resigned, 11 days later. He's resigned.
Now, keep in mind, the timing of this resignation also happening on day one of the new chief of staff, General John Kelly, who had come over from homeland security.
He's now in this new job. Questions are swirling as to the timing, as to whether or not this was perhaps a condition of General Kelly taking this chief of staff position? Was it so long as Scaramucci left?
We remember the story that will be one of the stories of the year, this interview in "The New Yorker" with Ryan Lizza and the profanity- laced language that the White House communications director used. Yet four days later, that was when he tendered his resignation, and now everyone is feeling the reverberations of this.
We're getting more reporting.
Let me just begin at the White House with Kaitlan Collins, who is a reporter there.
Kaitlan, we're waiting a statement from the White House on this resignation. Have we gotten it yet? What more do we know as far as the why?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We're still waiting on a lot of details as for all of this right now.
We're told that the press secretary -- or that most people upstairs in the press shop at the White House are huddled in a office right now. We are told we can expect a statement any minute now.
We're supposed to see Sara Sanders at the podium for the briefing here at 3:45. But right now we're being told by White House officials that Anthony Scaramucci was removed from this position because John Kelly did not think he was disciplined enough and thought he had burned his credibility.
As you know, in that interview with "The New Yorker" writer last week, Anthony Scaramucci went on this vulgar rant against Reince Priebus when he was the chief of staff at the time. And we're told that that played a factor into that, that he didn't think he was disciplined enough to take on this role in this White House.
We've seen a lot of that. There's been a lot of speculation about John Kelly coming into this position as chief of staff is how he would impose discipline on a West Wing that's filled with fighting from different factions of staffers.
BALDWIN: Kaitlan, thank you.
Let me just bring in my panel, because what you just reported is significant. We don't know if this was a condition of his resignation, but the fact we're learning that General Kelly wanted Scaramucci out because he didn't think he was disciplined and had burned his credibility, David Chalian, thoughts on that?
CHALIAN: My thoughts on that is that John Kelly I'm sure believed that, and this wouldn't have happened unless the president agreed with him.
I believe it's the president who also thinks that Scaramucci clearly took on too much water, got too far out in front, no doubt, but really blew himself up in this role in a way that was no longer going to be helpful and gets the added benefit of giving John Kelly a fresh start on day one.
BALDWIN: Gloria? BORGER: I agree. I would like to be a fly on the wall in the conversation before Kelly took this job about what it is he would want to do as the White House chief of staff.
I am sure, since this didn't happen weeks and weeks ago, I'm sure that the Scaramucci outburst, the vulgarity, the fact that he said he reported directly to the president, and by the way threatened publicly to fire everyone, everyone, which, if you're running the White House, who is this guy over there?
BORGER: If you're the chief of staff, who is this guy over there threatening to fire your staff? That's unacceptable if you're coming in to run things.
So I'm sure it became a topic of conversation. I'm also sure -- I don't know this -- but the president has some loyalty to Scaramucci. He was trying to get him a job over and over again. Scaramucci felt he had been blocked by Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon.
CHALIAN: And we don't know yet if he will have another post in this administration.
BORGER: And we don't know. So, right.
CHALIAN: And he may have another post in this administration.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's why this statement we just received is careful.
It only says he's leaving his communications director role.
BALDWIN: Let me read it. Let me read it. We have it here.
This is the statement we just got from the White House. It's short and sweet. Thank you very much.
"Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House communications director. Mr. Scaramucci felt is was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best."
STELTER: It doesn't rule out a job elsewhere in the administration.
Remember, he had been at the Export/Import Bank in a brand-new role before moving over to the White House. This was such a huge moment for Scaramucci. As Gloria was saying, he had wanted this for months. He had been seeking this for a long time.
He had sold his firm in preparation for this. And to lose it all, to see it crumble in...
BALDWIN: In 11 days.
STELTER: Eleven days, so less than two weeks.
BALDWIN: My executive producer just jumped in my ear and said this is the same language that Sean Spicer used. Do you remember that?
STELTER: That's right, clean slate, build his own team, right, turn the page.
As the president said on Twitter this morning, no White House chaos, but look at the banner. The banner on screen says it all. This is chaos at the White House.
And it does speak to the president's choices about hiring. This is ultimately about the president and who he decides to hire. And he's getting praise for hiring Kelly. And it's Kelly's first day. But Scaramucci, that was a big, big addition to the team 11 days ago.
BORGER: And also if you want to get the news out, the controversy, I think the feeling is just do it, get it done.
And that's what this is.
BALDWIN: Jeff Zeleny was saying from the White House, he was saying this feels like more than a reset.
And you had said earlier almost like a house cleaning in these major role changes. Do we think, though, that will be enough? Last week, we all had whiplash. And now it's just Monday. Do you think with General Kelly as chief of staff, David, and Scaramucci being gone, and maybe that is a harbinger of things to come as far as how General Kelly will be able to rule?
Is this a good thing, effective, effective thing?
CHALIAN: This is not the end of staff changes in the White House. I can pretty much assure that.
I think Kelly clearly is going to have the latitude to do exactly what the statement says and be able to build his own team. And so I think we probably will see some other staff changes.
But I think what -- this Scaramucci thing is -- even forget John Kelly starting today. I have never seen a 10-day trajectory like this at all. This was the dominant person from the Trump White House last week in the news media and every story was Anthony Scaramucci.
CHALIAN: He came onto the screen like a rocket, and the announcement that Spicer was leaving, the fact that Priebus and Bannon were not part of it really and trying to -- not part of the discussions, and last minute trying to stop it from happening, holds the first briefing and does it all himself, names Sarah Huckabee Sanders press secretary, and then goes into this tirade with "The New Yorker" about Reince on CNN's "NEW DAY" sort of with guns blazing.
I have just never seen a star burn so bright, so quickly and flame out in this way.
BALDWIN: What's the moral of the story? Don't get ahead of the president?
CHALIAN: Don't become the star of the show, when there's only one star allowed.
BORGER: And another moral of the story is, there's another star, actually four stars, four stars, right there.
BALDWIN: Good one. Good one, Gloria.
BALDWIN: And if you're a four-star general, you might think that somebody who was threatening to fire people publicly, who was getting out ahead of the president and the chief of staff, no matter how tenuous Reince Priebus's tenure was, and threatening to fire him, was not playing within the chain of command.
He might have thought, you know what? This guy has damaged himself so much internally, because he's threatened people's jobs, and it's not the way I want to run this White House, and that it was completely untenable.
And I think that we will have to see, if said it to the president, if the president understood that himself.
BALDWIN: Let me just explain to all of you what you have been watching on the right side of your screen in the box.
These are live pictures from within the White House. We are waiting for this Medal of Honor ceremony with this Vietnam War veteran who will be the Medal of Honor recipient here momentarily. And we will take that live.
But just to tell you, a lot of these people we're talking about, including I spied General Kelly, the new day one chief of staff there sitting in a row at the White House, just to give you perspective on what we're discussing.
And then after this -- there's Ivanka Trump. Then, after the ceremony, we are supposed to have, Stelter, correct me if they have changed it, at 3:45 Eastern time, this on-camera press briefing.
What does this Scaramucci resignation say for any sort of press strategy moving forward?
STELTER: That, right now, there isn't one, that Sarah Huckabee Sanders is still scheduled to have a 3:45 briefing on camera.
BALDWIN: She is?
STELTER: It may get delayed, partly because of this ceremony and partly because of all this breaking news.
I wonder if Sarah Sanders, when she came into work this morning, knew this was going to happen. She has become the only steadying force in the press operation, with Spicer out. One of the other assistant press secretaries was also pushed out last week by Scaramucci.
Remember, it was just a few days ago Scaramucci vowed fire all the leakers. He said, I'm going to fire everyone if I have to.
Instead, he's the one out. "SNL" didn't even have enough time to cast him. It lasted only 11 days. I think a lot of folks wondered. There was even online chatter about this.
STELTER: That's right. That's right. He played him on the president's show.
BALDWIN: Just looking at Ivanka Trump, we knew that -- to the two of you, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, top advisers and son-in-law, they were fans of Scaramucci, were they not, but also of General Kelly and this move? No? Yes?
They were fans of what they hoped Scaramucci was going to be able to do.
CHALIAN: I don't think they were fans of the way in which he went about performing his functions at the end of this week.
And I think that they are very hopeful, because they realized there are problems. And I think they are very hopeful and supportive of John Kelly getting order, the ability to make order inside this...
BORGER: And John Kelly, if anything, is the closest thing to appear -- or someone the president would regard as a peer of anyone we have seen in the White House.
The president did not regard Reince Priebus as a peer. He regarded him as just another staffer, didn't go to him for advice, et cetera, et cetera.
It's very clear to me, from seeing how this sort of worked out today, that while the president made this decision, I totally agree with David, it seems to me that Kelly is setting down some rules here about order and about the way things ought to operate and who goes through who, and what is acceptable behavior, and what is not acceptable behavior.
That may go to leaking as well. My whole thing about leaking is, you're always going to have leaking if the White House is at war with itself. But I think that this also sends a signal to the staff that what Scaramucci did was not OK, and it wasn't OK, even though the president didn't talk about it.
But it sends a signal to everybody else working there. And I think some of them are probably relieved.
BALDWIN: But it's interesting to look at the -- just even looking at the inner circle of the president.
You had Jared and Ivanka, who have liberal roots, and Gary Cohn, liberal roots. You had Scaramucci, who had given to Obama and Clinton.
STELTER: Like the president.
BALDWIN: Like the president of United States.
And then you have, of course, the vice president, who is an establishment Republican, Reince Priebus, sort of further severing ties with establishment Republicans.
I was reading a piece today referencing how the president is using pronouns like they when referring to Republicans. How does that, I don't know, speak to how he's feeling party-wise maybe now, direction of what he's looking to do?
CHALIAN: He just experienced a week where he witnessed more cracks in his own coalition, in his own support structure.
I'm not talking about the base core voters we hear when we go out in the country and talk to Trump voters who are still totally with I'm. I'm talking about Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain who broke ranks to vote down his first major legislative push that consumed the legislative agenda for the first six months of his presidency.
I'm talking about hearing from conservative media like Breitbart and others and some Republican senators about the way he was letting Jeff Sessions twist in the wind.
He experienced something that I don't think he has experienced to date as president, which was really people on his own side being very public about pushing back on him.
BALDWIN: Let's go to this Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let us gather in these sacred words. No one has greater love that this to lay down one's life for one's friends.
Let us pray. Oh, mighty God, we thank you for the gift of this day, of this time, and for all living, lives devoted in service to you and to our country.
Our hearts are especially grateful today for the courage, honor and extraordinary service of specialist James McCloughan, whose repeated acts of bravery conveyed to us a true understanding of the value of life.
As his service demonstrates your faithfulness and unconditional love for all humanity, we ask you, lord, continue to inspire and guide others to their own acts of selfless service, and grant us all now hearts eager to seek your will and all acts that serve to preserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.
Please, be seated.
Thank you, Chaplain Hurley.
Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Mattis, Secretary Shulkin, Senator Stabenow, Congressman Upton, and members of the armed forces, thank you for joining us as we award our nation's highest military honor to Specialist 5 James C. McCloughan.
Today, we pay tribute to a veteran who went above and beyond the call of duty to protect our comrades, our country and our freedom.
Joining Jim today is his wife, Cherie, his brothers Mike and Tom, his sons, Jamie and Matt, and many other members of his very large and beautiful family.
We're also gratified to be joined by eight previous Medal of Honor recipients.
Now Jim's name will stand forever alongside theirs in our history and in our hearts.
I want to take a few minutes to tell you about Jim and how he earned this place among legends. Jim was raised in Bangor, Michigan. His father built their house from scratch and worked 40 years at a piano factory.
Jim's dad taught him a simple, but powerful lesson. Never do anything halfway. Always do your best. Jim took that lesson very much to heart.
He played for four varsity sports in high school and three in college. In August of 1968, Jim was drafted into the Army. Within six months, he was trained as a medic and arrived in Vietnam.
Right away, Jim poured all of himself into his duties, treating the sick and the wounded. Before long, all his fellow soldiers called him Doc.
On May 13, 1969, less than three months after he arrived, Jim was one of 89 men in Charlie Company to embark on a mission to secure a transportation route near Nui Yon Hill.
As Jim and his men jumped out of the helicopter, it quickly became clear that they were surrounded by enemy troops. Within minutes, two choppers were shot down, and one of his men was badly wounded in the middle of an open field.
Jim did not hesitate. He blazed through 100 meters of enemy fire to carry the wounded and the soldier to safety. But this was only the first of many heroic deeds Jim would perform over the next 48 hours.
After tending to the first wounded soldier, Jim joined a mission to advance toward the enemy. And advance, they did. Before long, they were ambushed. Again, he ran into danger to rescue his men.
As he cared for two soldiers, shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade slashed open the back of Jim's body from head to foot. Yet, that terrible wound didn't stop Jim from pulling those two men to safety, nor did it stop him from answering the plea of another wounded comrade and carrying him to safety atop his own badly injured body.
He was badly injured. And so it went, shot after shot, blast upon blast. As one of his comrades recalled, whoever called medic could immediately count on McCloughan. He's a brave guy.
As day turned to dusk, nearly all of those who could, and really, really had to make it back, they were finally within -- in night defensive position, except for one soldier, whose plea Jim could not ignore.
Again, Doc did not hesitate. He crawled through a rice paddy thick with steel rain. That means bullets all over the place. As soldiers watched him, they were sure that was the last time they would see Doc. They thought that was the end of their friend Jim.
But after several minutes passed, Jim emerged from the smoke and fire carrying yet another soldier. He immediately bandaged him, fixed and worked, but he got the wounds fixed and lifted the soldier to a medevac helicopter. His lieutenant ordered Jim to get into get in, too. "Get in," he
said. "Get in." But Jim refused. He said, "You're going to need me here."
As Jim now says, "I would have rather died on the battlefield than know that men died because they did not have a medic."
Over the next 24 hours, Jim fired at enemy solders, suffered a bullet wound to his arm, and continued to race into gunfire to save more and more lives. And yet, as night approached again, after nearly two days of no food, no water and no rest, Jim volunteered to hold a blinking light in an open field to signal for a supply drop.
He would not yield. He would not rest. He would not stop. And he would not flinch in the face of sure death and definite danger.
Though he was thousands of miles from home, it was as if the strength and pride of our whole nation was beating inside of Jim's heart. Jim did what his father had taught him. He gave it his all, and then he just kept giving.
In those 48 hours, Jim rescued 10 American soldiers and tended to countless others. He was one of 32 men who fought until the end. They held their ground against more than 2,000 enemy troops.
Jim, I know I speak for every person here when I say that we are in awe of your actions and your bravery.
But let me tell you one thing and one more story about Jim. On the second day of that bloody fight, Jim found a few soldiers and a fellow soldier who had been shot badly in the stomach. He knew the soldier wouldn't make it if he flung him on the back, so he lifted him up and carried him in his arms.
As Jim was carrying the soldier, a thought flashed through his mind. Although Jim had always been very close to his father, he realized that it was not since he had been a young boy that he had told his dad those three very simple but beautiful words, "I love you."
In that moment, Jim offered up a prayer. He asked God: "If you get me out of this hell on earth, so I can tell my dad I love him, I will be the best coach and the best father you could ever ask for."
As he prayed, a great peace came over him. And if it was God's will for him to live, he'd keep his promise to God as soon as he had the chance.
Jim made it out of that hell on earth. He made it. Here he is. And the first thing he did when he arrived back on American soil was to say those beautiful words: "I love you, dad. I love you."
Jim said those words over and over again for the next 22 years, until the last time he saw his father the night before his dad passed on.
Today, I'd venture to say his dad is the proudest father in heaven. Jim fought with all of the love and courage in his soul. He was prepared to lay down his life so his brothers in arms could live theirs.
With us today are 10 of the men who fought alongside Jim and five of those he saved.
To Bill, Randy, Mike, Joe, Kent, Robert, John, Charles, Michael, Orestes (ph), thank you for your service and your sacrifice.
Stand up, wherever you may be. Where are you? Where are you?
TRUMP: Thank you, fellows. That's great.
For over two centuries, our brave men and women in uniform have overcome tyranny, fascism, communism and every threat to our freedom. Every single threat, they have overcome.
And we have overcome these threats because of titans like Jim, whose spirit could never be conquered. That's what this award is and Jim's life represents so well, America's unbreakable spirit.
It's been 48 years since Jim's battle in Vietnam. He is now a husband, a father, and a grandfather. He coached high school football, wrestling and baseball for 38 years, just like he said he would. And he brought together every member he could find of his beloved Charlie Company.
To many people in this room, Specialist Five McCloughan has always been their friend Jim. To others, he's been coach. To those who bravely served with him in Vietnam, he's still called their Doc.
To his parents, Scotty (ph) and Margaret, both watching from heaven, he will always be their son. But, today, 320 million grateful American hearts, Private McCloughan carries one immortal title, and that title is hero.
Special 5 McCloughan, we honor you, we salute you, and with God as your witness, we thank you for what you did for all of us.
Now I would like the military aide to come forward and read the citation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president of the United States of America, authorized by act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Private 1st Class James C. McCloughan, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty.
Private 1st Class C. McCloughan distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity, at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty from May 13 through 15, 1969, while serving as a combat medic with Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. The company air-assaulted into an area near Tam Ky and Nui Yon Hill.
On May 13, with complete disregard for his life, he ran 100 meters in an open field through heavy fire to rescue a comrade too injured to move and carried him to safety.
That same day, 2nd Platoon was ordered to search the area near Nui Yon Hill, when the platoon was ambushed by a large North Vietnamese army force and sustained heavy casualties.
With complete disregard for his life and personal safety, Private 1st Class McCloughan led two Americans into the safety of a trench while being wounded from shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade.
He ignored a direct order to stay back and braved the enemy assault while moving into the kill zone on four more occasions to extract wounded comrades. He treated the injured, prepared the evacuation, and, though bleeding heavily from shrapnel wounds on his head and entire body, refused evacuation to safety, in order to remain at the --