tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN January 4, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PST
there's word smithing that could be a more benevolent interpretation of this. but no matter what, this speaks to how afraid the administration and president particularly is of the mueller investigation. >> thanks to all of you. ac "360" begins right now. good evening, more on the breaking news shortly. "times" new reporting. first the book, cnn has the book that anyone inside the white house or anyone outside is talking about, worried about, laughing about for furious about. fire a"fire and fury," michael s expose. trying to block it and publisher advanced the release date. sourced heavily to fired white house chief strategist steve bannon is rocking 1600
pennsylvania avenue for portrayal of. bannon's feud with him, james comey. some of his reporting has been kra corroborated, some verified. one woman says didn't say that to him, another verifies account to the word. wolff doesn't directly quote anyone in some claims and sourcing at times is vague. here's what he says in the preface. it is worth noting some of the journalistic conundrums i faced dealing with the trump administration. many the result of white house's absence of official procedures and lack of experience of its principals. including dealing with off-the-record or deep background material later casually put on the record. sources who provided accounts
and shared them widely as though liberated by first u.s. ranss, frequent -- setting of parameters on conversation. source's views so well-known and shared, not to. wolff also notes, everywhere in this story is the president's own constant, tireless and uncontrolled voice, public and private, shared by others on daily pacis, sometimes virtually as he utters it. bear that in mind as we bring you passages that don't contain direct quotations but do appear to make news. direct quotes, steve bannon not disputed any attributed to him. attempted to get them in other names. air force one. president returning from germany
trip. meeting with russians claiming to have dirt on hillary clinton. quote, president insisted that meeting in trump tower was purely and simply about russia adoption policy. that's what was discussed period, period. even though it was likely if not certain that the "times" had the incriminating e-mail chain. in fact it was possible that jared and ivanka and lawyers knew it. president let on no one should let on about the hillary clinton. denial and coverup. remains to be seen. jim acosta from the white house, sara sanders took aim at book. >> you heard sarah sanders describe the book as book full of lies. but asked about the claim considering the fact that white house gave michael wolff what
appears for unprecedented access to multiple officials inside the white house. here's what she had to say. >> calling the michael wolff book a book full of lies. didn't this white house give michael wolff all the access that he wanted? >> absolutely not. in fact there are probably more than 30 requests for access to information from michael wolff repeatedly denied. including within that at least two dozen requests of him asking to have an interview with the president, which he never did. never discussed this book with the president. and to me that would be the most important voice that you could have, looking to write a book about an individual, would be to have some time with him. never did. repeatedly denied that, i think because we saw him for what he was and no reason to waste the president of the united states's
time. >> the white house continued to be in blame bannon mode for all of this. one official said that bannon was responsible for clearing wolff into the white house for most of the visits but when you read what wolff is saying, basically all he had to do was call somebody over here and invited in, does appear he had extraordinary access to officials over here anderson. kind of access we've never seen anybody have over here before for the production of a book. at least during this administration. >> and talked in the hollywood reporter today about the atmosphere inside and near the oval office. sitting in the hall and seeing the comings and goings of kellyanne conway and steve bannon and gary kohn and all these people. >> that's right. and like i was saying, we in the press corps have seen michael wolff come and go at white house. so sounded a bit incredulous
when the press secretary was saying earlier this is a book full of lies, tabloid trash and so on, yet the white house was allowing michael wolff dom in and talk to officials time and again. apparently talking to steve bannon time and again, and was not obstructed by anybody inside this administration. only when these revelations came out they really turned on this book and steve bannon. up until this point really didn't hear much of a peep out of this white house in terms of condemnation of this book. of course you saw the white house trying to put the kieb orb on this book, sending out threatening letters to steve bannon and publisher of the book. served to accelerate interest in the book and rushed to release. coming out tomorrow morning. extraordinary to see how the white house has handled fallout from all of this but typical of how they deal with damage control, tend to deal with it after the fact when really they
could have dealt with it months ago, not giving him the access they have. >> and given the book more attention -- would have got ebb attention, i guess they had to respond but president tweeting or making statement he did, certainly gave it front page -- >> and make no mistake, they're reading it behind-the-scenes at white house. they know what's in this book and when it comes out to the public, they'll be responding to more allegations than we've seen so far. >> mentioned top of the broadcast new report in "new york times." obstruction inquiry shows that trump struggled to keep grip of the investigation. maggie haberman, what have you learned in this? >> this is primarily mike schmidt, my colleague's reporting. he came up with detailed reporting about how don mcgahn
went at urging of the president to attorney general and asked him not to recuse from the russia probe. which we know jeff sessions did that without letting the president know in advantage. made him angry, angry at him ever since. chain reaction ever since. idea that mcgahn would do this knowing it was potentially problematic is strike. told that he would still recuse himself, president was angry. wanted to be personally protected, a relationship between himself and ag the way he believed that bobby kennedy had protected john f. kennedy is what he cited. and before comey was fired, sessions went to capitol hill looking for quote/unquote dirt on comey. >> repeat that. four days before comey was fired
an aide of sessions'? >> yes. looking for dirt, quote/unquote, capitol hill, looking for negative information on james comey. >> do we know on whose behest? >> we don't. somebody working for sessions, whether he knew or directly -- but from the department of justice. >> and mcgahn, he was doing that according to reporting at order of president trump. >> correct. president wanted to be personally protected by attorney general with regard to the russia probe. this is about -- this is the clearest, most substantial reporting we have seen about what the president demanded and what he wanted of the attorney general with regard to this probe. >> maiggie haberman from the "nw york times" talking about
reporting from herself and mostly michael schmitt. jeff toobin, kerry cad arrow. what is the significance of this jeff? >> potentially more evidence that the president was obstructing justice in connection with the comey investigation. here you have -- the whole reason jeff sessions recused himself from the russia investigation is that he knew he was part of what the russia investigation was going to be investigating. it was appropriate for him to recuse himself. by trying to undo that decision through his counsel, don mcgahn, the president is showing that he wanted to be protected from that investigation. that is what obstruction of justice is. now this alone i don't think would amount to a crime in and
of itself but when you look at pattern of behavior, whether firing james comey for conducting this investigation, whether it is telling lester holt and russian visitors he fired james comey because of the russia investigation, all of it adds up to the potential for a charge of obstruction of justice against the president. and "times" reporting today is another brick in that wall. >> kerry? >> well, donald trump as a candidate and now as president has a fundamentally flawed understanding of the role of the attorney general and the role of the justice department. and he thought on the campaign, apparently still thought that throughout his first year as president that the department of justice and prosecutors and investigators, are an arm of the white house. and he doesn't understand the independence that the attorney
general needs to have. jeff sessions, whether people disagree with his politics, policy positions or whether -- with the policy direction he's taken the justice department, in probably the most important decision he had to make, recusing himself in the russia investigation, he did the right thing. and he adhered to the ethics advice from the professional ethics lawyers in the department that the right thing to do was to recuse from that investigation. and if this new "new york times" is correct, the report that's coming out is correct, then he did so under tremendous political pressure from the white house counsel which was coming from the president. >> jeff, the idea that someone who works for an aide to jeff sessions went to capitol hill to according to "new york times" find dirt on comey four days
before comey was fired, how significant is that? >> well, it suggests that the president was determined to fire james comey for whatever reason. why it's significant that he's looking for dirt is that it suggests that he made up -- he made the decision to fire him, and after the fact, tried to find a justification for it. that's the implication of this reporting in the "times." that contrary to the original explanation for firing james comey, that the president disapproved of how mean he was to hillary clinton, preposterous explanation from the beginning, it suggests that there was a different reason, and the president was looking for justifications to support firing him. but the decision to fire him had already been made.
>> any conflict, the fact this person was aide to jeff sessions who had recused himself from anything to do with russia, where comey obviously was dealing with the russia investigation? >> it's just an odd thing to think about, an aide to the attorney general would be going to capitol hill to look for, quote, dirt, i don't know what that means, looking for dirt on jim comey. would seem a little bit more likely they would go to capitol hill if this happened to look for political support for firing james comey. in other words knew there were perhaps democrats on the hill unhappy with the way he handled the clinton matter, so maybe looking for support. i don't understand at all why anybody, let alone adviser to the attorney general would go to capitol hill looking for derogatory information on him. but if true just supports the
understanding that the reason for firing the fbi director was concocted and was not based on any merit-related reason or related to his performance in his role as fbi director. >> go ahead jeff. >> one thing this report really does is it cries out for don mcgahn to give public testimony before congress about what he did. >> but could he do that? acting at behest of the president, isn't that covered by attorney/client privilege or presidential -- >> not attorney/client, argument perhaps, executive privilege. but remember the key moment in the watergate congressional hearings was the testimony of john dean, who held the exact same job as don mcgahn holds
now. he testified at great length and in incriminating way about his conversations with president nixon. seems incumbent upon don mcgahn given the questionable nature of this exchange, he should be arrow required to tell congress and the american people what the heck was going on. >> number of people from the white house invoked not executive privilege because not white house, but inventd form of that, i just don't want to tell you my conversations with the president because i don't think i should, seems like everyone else has done it, why not don mcgahn? >> we might. congress never knows until it asks. fundamental fact of the congressional investigations is that republicans are in charge, republicans in charge of the
house and senate and these investigations seem much more designed to protect president trump than to investigate him. but that doesn't mean those of us following it from the outside shouldn't say that congress should do its job and get these people under oath, find out what they know and did. >> joined by david gergen and david axelrod. what is the significance of the "new york times" reporting? >> i agree with what jeff toobin has been saying. adds to the pattern. not sure sending mcgahn to the justice department is in and of itself would qualify as act of obstruction, but seeing it within that pattern, i think has a lot more weight. i do believe there is a question, in any impeachment proceedings, obstruction of justice, is there underlying
crime? can you have obstruction if there's not a crime? that depends heavily on what mueller comes up with in regard to the collusion issue, possibly the money laundering issue. we have to wait and see exactly where this goes. one of the curious things i find here, sending someone from the justice department to find dirt on comey. never heard of anything like that except for nixon days. does raise questions. who was this person and who sent him? attorney general who already recused himself? number two in the justice department now running things? where did that order come from? peculiar and odd circumstance and i do think represents skull dothry. >> having worked in the obama white house, is this just odd sequence of events? >> odd would be polite way to describe it. it is so foreign to me, having
worked in the white house and knowing how scrupulously people dealt with the justice department, the fbi, the notion of a president sending his white house counsel over to persuade the attorney general not to recuse himself -- we knew that trump wasn't happy with that decision. but now this act of actually involving himself through his counsel and trying to persuade him is new information. and what's particularly disturbing is this description of trump's reasoning. attorney general so protect him. where is my roy kohn, a despicable figure in american history, right hand of joe mccarthy and early mentor by the way of donald trump and notorious fixer. notion that attorney general's job is protect the president --
and protect him from what? what is it that the president feared? i do think this is going to add momentum to whatever already a roaring fire here. >> it is fascinating, given jeff sessions' early sign-on to the trump campaign, traveling with the president, it is fascinating that president believes he appoints him attorney general and he's going to continue being his roy kohn or bobby kennedy. >> there is no doubt that's what he believed, that this was his role, to protect the president. irony of all of this, comes on a day when two members of congress called for sessions to be dismissed. of course that's exactly what the president would want now because if he had an attorney general who wasn't involved in the campaign and wasn't involved in this russia matter, then that attorney general would then take
control of the investigation and mueller would have to respond to that attorney general. so it's quite a tangled web here. >> david gergen, do you agree with jeff that don mcgahn should be called to testify? >> i do. but think what we have to rely on is far more serious investigation under way by bob mueller. and i would assume he's been called and testified or will soon. because he's an absolutely essential piece now of this puzzle. and it's essential for the investigations. what has been disheartening is the way the investigations are stalling out on capitol hill. look more and more like partisan bickering within the investigatetory bodies than serious investigations they were proclaimed to be starting down the path. almost entirely reliant on the
bob mueller team. >> to you this doesn't necessarily point out obstruction? >> no in and of itself obstruction of justice. but if you have a theory that the president's actions, you know, during the period of the first several months of his presidency represented a pattern, a conspiracy to obstruct justice, stop or interfere with the investigation of his campaign and russia, this is another piece of evidence that supports that theory. reason it supports that theory is that jeff sessions was trying to do the right thing. he was recognizing that he was too involved with the trump campaign in order to lead an investigation of the trump campaign. i mean, it's just basic legal ethics that jeff sessions was reflecting. and by interfering at that
decision or trying to interfere with that decision through his white house counsel, don mcgahn, that suggests that the president didn't want an independent investigation of the trump campaign. he wanted to control that investigation. and that could be seen as part of a conspiracy to obstruct justice. >> anderson, just as clear as it can be now that president feels there are things to be hidden. doesn't want out in the public. now the publication of this book is beginning to give us an understanding of why. >> kerry, from legal standpoint, if don mcgahn has talked to bob mueller or been asked to interview, is executive privilege something he could cite to not answer questions? >> i think he probably would because the white house seems to be -- although not really clear about doing it in the public testimonies we've seen, seem to
be asserting variations of executivive privilege. but i would just add even before this report tonight there is reason to think that white house counsel is already in position of being a witness to obstruction. to the extent he was knowledgeable about the president's intent to fire the fbi director, do other things that the president did last spring, early summer to try to shut down the russia investigation, both before the special counsel was appointed and after, i think when we look at obstruction, if we ever see a case brought through special counsel's office or political arena, will see a pattern of obstruction that brought together makes a case of obstruction, not going to be one specific act. but white house counsel has been there for many different
conversations and certainly i think at this point it's a question regarding his continued effectiveness in the position of white house counsel if in fact he is a witness in an obstruction investigation. >> and can i just address something david mentioned earlier? the legal question of can you have obstruction of justice if you don't have underlying crime. the courts have dealt with that question many times and always said yes, you can, you can charge someone with obstruction of justice without charging them much less convicting them of underlying crime. as legal matter in the courts, no question that's settled. however, talking about impeachment, congress can decide whatever they want in terms of legal standards there. if congress decides you can't have obstruction without underlying crime, that's the end of that story.
dealing in two different worlds here. courts have strict rules, congress operates very much by its own rules. >> can i -- >> let me ask just quickly, carrie made a point that don mcgahn is epicenter of a lot of things. where does the loyalty of the white house counsel lie, president as individual or white house as institution? >> i think his loyalty is to the president. i believe and the white house. but just pick up one other point and repurpose your question anderson. earlier it was mentioned that mcgahn could answer important questions. one goes to the question of whether there was cover-up of a crime. he knows what the acting attorney general told him about what general flynn had done. was he told and did he tell the
president that general flynn had lied to the fbi? which he's pled guilty to. if the president knew that and then asked fbi director to drop the matter, it seems to me that advances the case. >> also don mcgahn is the person sally yates came to and met at white house to explain what she had learned about michael flynn, he was point of contact. jeff, carrie, davids, we'll be back to the legal heat on the president that michael wolff's book may document. turn up your swagger game with one a day men's. a complete multivitamin with key nutrients plus b vitamins for heart health. your one a day is showing. save up to $8 on one a day. see sunday's paper.
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in a night of blockbusters, more on michael wolff's blockbuster. book that cnn has obtained, described a dinner party. passage came out, how so precise? he hosted dinner and another tweeted about it. i was one of the six guests at bannon/ailes dinner party and every word from the book i've seen is accurate. it was astonishing night. >> she's here now. >> michael wolff, contributing
editor to the hollywood reporter sent me a note. if you're in new york, having a casual dinner with the aileses, roger and his wife. can you make it? two days before, believe it or not, i think steve bannon might be joining us. as editor, i find this intriguing. we show up to michael's house in new york city. his partner victoria has made dinner. and in come roger and elizabeth. and night begins. >> i understand steve bannon showed up three hours late from trump tower? >> yes. so it was incredible. i talked to roger ailes, who i knew him slightly. he was amazingly a big fan of the "hollywood reporter" as
someone who grew up in entertainment, and he and his wife, had a spirited discussion about the accusations levelled against him at fox news. spoke quite candidly about rupert murdoch and a lot of personal discussion about the impact the news was having on his son. one of the fascinating things about the conversation with roger and his wife. in his heart he truly believed he had done nothing wrong. >> interesting. >> and elizabeth -- they were a couple, if you didn't know the backstory and clouds around him, would think it's very nice older couple in love -- >> i want to ask. sorry. ask you about a few quotes from the book, that dinner. roger ailes asked steve bannon quote, what has he gotten himself into with the russians?
then president elect trump. >> he went to russia, thought he would meet putin but putin didn't give a -- word -- about him. did you hear that? is that accurate? >> i heard a discussion, couldn't say verbatim word for word, wasn't taking notes. but sounds accurate to me. i was at dinner, just six people, seated between steve bannon and roger ailes. there was this frantic back and forth between them. unbelievable, like republican agenda being laid out for next four years. one of the things very clear from steve bannon, and -- so interesting, steve bannon walks in quite late. he's offered a drink right away, and very demonstrably says no, i'm not going to drink. then he sits down, has dinner and really goes into it. he and roger ailes, two of them
basically plotting future of the republican party in the trump administration. so many interesting things said, started out talking about -- they were building the cabinet together. and one of the things they started talking about, imminent subject right then, rudy giuliani and his disappointment over not being named secretary of state. ailes is so funny, you know what, sort of casual, just tell rudy, get him photographed once or twice coming out of air force one and rudy is all good. then started talking about john -- >> sorry, other questions to talk to you about. roger ailes says i wouldn't give donald too much to think about. bannon says too much, too little
doesn't necessarily change things. is that something you heard? how did you interpret it? >> ongoing theme. to be clear bannon had a fondness for donald trump but can't say -- almost paternal role to donald trump. >> like he saw himself above -- >> one of the first things -- saw himself in control of donald trump or the situation. >> interesting. >> consistent theme that donald -- the president, called him donald or mr. trump occasionally -- doesn't have the patience to go through details. laughed about how donald trump thought john bolton's mustache was unattractive. those things were absolutely said. >> want to read that directly from the book because again, it includes the author's context. quote, actually it asks --
sorry. i want to read the bolton one. regarding former u.n. ambassador john bolton. well he got in trouble because got in fight in hotel one night and chased some woman according to ailes. bannon responded, if i told trump that, he might have the job. did you hear that? >> yes. yes. there was a lot of -- sort of a lot of i guess you would call it unpolitically correct stuff going back and forth. i think that was one of the things mind blowing to me was the level of trust they had in michael wolff, saying all of this in front of two people with the ability to put this out in the world. >> and no talk of this being off the record? >> ground rules at this meal, when it started, nothing could be used at that moment. until later, michael wolff upon roger ailes' death was granted permission by wife, widow, to
use the night. and later steve bannon told him he could put it on the record. >> fascinating. janice, i appreciate you coming to talk to us. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> we're now from the book and wolff says from the president's mouth, his position, watergate and his position. comey was a rat repeated trump. there were rats everywhere and you had to get rid of them. john dean, john dean he repeated, do you know what john dean did to nixon? we have john dean, former nixon white house counsel with us tonight. john, do you know what john dean did to nixon? >> i do. >> what do you make of the president citing that? according to wolff. >> delighted he reacts that way. i think it's a badge of honor with this president.
hit the top of nixon's enemies list. i think it's good that presidents are aware of watergate, consequences of watergate, and maybe he has some crude understanding of watergate. >> wolff also described president as quote john dean freak, would go quote bananas when you would go on tv comparing the russia investigation to watergate and talking about loyalty and what people would do for media attention. does this sound like properly functioning president of the united states? >> i've had problems with functioning of this president since the beginning. one of the reasons i was interested in being a cnn contributor when i accepted the post. i thought somebody needed to speak truth to this man and let him hear it, historical comparisons in particular.
>> jeff toobin. >> we have this "new york times" story about don mcgahn at president's insistence talking to jeff sessions, trying to get him not to recuse himself. don mcgahn is one of your successors as white house counsel. do you think there's any problem, legal impediment, reason why don mcgahn couldn't testify about this incident in front of a congressional committee the way you testified about your conversations with president nixon? >> in front of a congressional committee it's open question, if the president invoked executive privilege, he might be able to impose it. if you recall, during watergate that was unresolved element of executive privilege. grand jury clearly had access to the tapes, senate watergate committee never got access.
judge stopped it, didn't rule on it, thought it was political question. that's unresolved issue. as far as attorney/client privilege, that's pretty well resolved by ken starr case. >> why were you allowed to testify about conversations with the president? why wasn't executive privilege invoked about that? >> i don't know why they didn't. how do you invoke executive privilege? there's no such thing as injunction to not testify. they did waive attorney/client privilege. they knew we were going to blow through it anyway because of the exceptions to the privilege even then. >> so the real issue is does president trump tell don mcgahn i forbid you from talking to congress about these conversations. >> that's right. and sanction is to fire him.
glad you clarified the issue of his responsibility. today that's been clarified post-watergate, rule 1.13 of the model code of professional ethics put out by american bar association in representing an organization, it's the organization that he owes the loyalty to. >> that was my question. repeat that. don mcgahn, loyalty should not be to donald trump, president trump, but should be to the executive branch, the white house? >> it is to the office of the president in his case. that's what he represents. as does ty cobb. when they're on the payroll of the white house, they represent the office of the president, not the man who occupies it. >> so if they're aware of wrongdoing for attempts at obstruction or whatever it may be, they -- do they have a duty to discuss that with somebody
like robert mueller? >> they have to take it to the highest authority if they're aware of a crime. and with the president it's probably congress. >> that's an absolutely critical point, anderson, don mcgahn is not donald trump's personal lawyer. he does have personal lawyers, john dowd, jay s.e.c.lo, they represent donald trump the human being. if they know of wrongdoing, under absolutely no obligation to tell anybody, their loyalty to donald trump the person. don mcgahn is in a very different circumstance. paid by taxpayers. works for the taxpayers. and his obligation is to the executive office of the president, which happens to be occupied today by donald trump, but his obligations are very different from personal lawyers for donald trump. >> glad we got that cleared up. john dean, thank you. jeff toobin stay with us.
book passage i read, disclaimers about michael wolff and sourcing. president on air force one talking about characterizing the trump tower meeting. president insisted that meeting in trump tower was purely and simply by russian adoption policy. that's what was discussed period. even tho it was likely if not certain that the "times" had the incriminating e-mail chain. president ordered that no one should let on to the more problematic discussion about hillary clinton. jeff, if this part of the book proves to be true that president of the united states ordered people to essentially lie about this meeting in trump tower, saying it was about adoption or not tell the full story, does that put him in some legal jeopardy? >> this is obviously something mueller has looked into and continues to carefully. we know that not from mueller
but witnesses who have talked to his office. when the "new york times" story broke about the june 20th meeting in trump tower with jared kushner and the russian lawyers and donald trump jr., the initial report was that this was only about adoption. clearly false from the get-go. the question that mueller is investigating, who instigated this false story. if the wolff book is accurate, it suggests that the president was putting out a false story. that's potentially obstruction of justice. also puts the lie to the fact that the president claimed he didn't even know about this meeting. how could he be giving directions about how to describe a meeting he later said he knew nothing about. >> what do we know about how interested mueller's team is in the trip on air force one?
>> mueller's team has been interested in it since basically news broke about the crafting of this statement. early on cnn reported that president was involved in the crafting of this statement along with others including hope hicks, the communications director. so as jeffrey pointed out, mueller's team has interviewed some of the witnesses on that plane, including hope, looking at intent to provide a false statement like this. whether they were trying to conceal information as part of the obstruction of justice probe. as we know, it's not crime to lie to the media, but they're looking at this we're told as one piece in the puzzle of the obstruction probe given that first statement that president was involved in was misleading and false. >> boggles my mind why the president would insist this was about adoption if he and other people in the plane knew that "times" probably had e-mail
chain and donald trump jr. had it and knew what was in it. another excerpt from the book. bannon's veered to despairation. why not, let's do it. let's get it on. why not, what am i going to do, save him? he's donald trump. do you think impeachment proceedings would be inevitable on this. >> i think many people on both sides of the aisle view the firing of the special counsel as red line. more tenuous in the house, maybe more true for the senate than the house. particularly on the house intelligence committee the last month or so, really seen republican members coming more to the defense of the white house and trying to tamp down and discredit the special counsel's investigation.
but i think that if that quote represents steve bannon's advice, think at time it was given -- or his sentiment, that is a well-accepted thought that firing the special counsel would certainly agitate the hill if not immediately cause impeachment proceedings. >> one more excerpt about comey. most of the west wing staff, courtesy of erroneous report from fox news was briefly under impression that comey resigned. then throughout the west wing became clear what actually happened. next is special prosecutor said priebus in disbelief to no one in particular when he learned what is happening. now priebus is denying saying this. but idea that white house staff could have been blindsided by
president firing comey, is that surprising? >> no it's not. as you recall that night, comey learned it watching the news, thought it was joke because fox news. but sean spicer, press secretary didn't know about it. trying to talk to reporters by the bushes outside the white house in awkward gathering because he was also trying to piece together what was going on. so close hold, not even the key people in charge of communicating this information to the media were looped in, extraordinary and goes to theme of pure chaos. coming up, more on wolff's book. nick was born to move.
michael wolf's book underscores one of the ongoing power wars was between jared kushner and ivanka trump and steve bannon. sergei kiss lee ago discussed having a private communications channel. the jared and ivanka faction thought steve ban ing was the source for that information. as wolf says in the book, he faced a number of journalistic conundrums for setting parameters for conversations, with that in mind, here's what wolf wrote. part of the indemnity between the first family and brannon was the jarvanka conviction that bannon had played a part in many
of the reports of kushner's interactions with the russians. for bannon to live, kushner would have to be wholly discreditedp with me now is christopher ruddy and friend of president trump. chris, good to have you back on. the rivalry was not a secret, why would the president allow this kind of multiple city states or some would call dysfunction to not only come about, but to continue on for months. >> it's very common that you have divisions. some presidents thrive on it. some people like a cohesive administration, i think we saw that with obama and george w. bush. i don't think the rivalry between steve bannon and jared kushner. if you read the book, the
rivalry is between steve bannon and donald trump. steve felt he was smarter, better and brighter than the president, and this book really brings home that he had disdain for the president. i've always liked steve, i've known him for a long time, he's a fun guy to be with, some of his opinions of the president, to accuse don jr. of treason or saying that the family was engaging in money laundering. if he thought the family was engaging in money laundering, why did he continue working for the president and his family? you start looking at some of these issues and you wonder, he was fire d when he was fired, h told the new york times the trump presidency is over. usually when someone leaves an administration, they don't announce, the president is over. steve has an exaggerated vision of himself. >> what do you think of that?
i mean, you spent a lot of time in conversations with bannon. does he have -- she got the sense that steve bannon felt he was above the president or could control the president? >> i don't think that he thought he was above or could control. what janice said, i thought was right, he had a kind of a paternal fondsness for trump, respected his political talents, but thought he needed guidance. bannon's role, he thought, was to be the architect of trump's campaign, and then his president den cy. to put meat on the bones and craft them into a governing agenda. that went haywire almost from day one. kushner, ivanka, other people in the west wing recognized that
bannon was responsible for all a lot of this, and tried to push him out. which is it a bit ironic, no one was closer than jared and steve bannon, they were an oscar and felix quality to them. thick as thieves yet they had this falling out, as soon as they got in the west wing. >> do you think bannon made a huge mistake here? there was talk that he floated running for president if president trump doesn't run again? whatever support he had or interests he had by people outside who may have liked him, season the it because of his association with president trump that he had that? >> yeah, absolutely, i mean, he -- who really knew outside of media circles knew about steve bannon before he joined the trump campaign? let's not forget, josh knows about this from the book, all the critical primary states, he
had opposed donald trump, he supported ted cruz. >> no, bannon -- >> mercer supported cruz. bannon was behind trump all along. >> he called me in the fall of 2015, asking if newsmax would join with breitbart for donald trump to withdraw from the race. he was opposing the president -- it was after with a wash after new hampshire when it was clear trump was going to win the nomination. the truth was, steve bannon was chief strategist for the president, when he left, the president had an approval rating of 34%. that was not because of jared kushner, that was because of steve bannon doing things like the muslim ban, the transgender bathroom thing. >> well, i think -- >> all an ineptitude of the trump white house.
i don't think you can -- >> all we loss was, we got lost, all the president's great accomplishments. closing the border by staging the immigration laws. the most successful stock market we've had in history. nobody talks about this, because we're getting into these side shows, a lot of it comes out of the breitbart agenda. steve is an isolationist, he's a slow back on a lot of issues, where the president needs to go forward in a bipartisan approach if he wants to bring those approval numbers up in the near future. >> josh, could you argue the president -- i mean, i think chris makes a valid point a lot of that stuff hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. you could also point to the president as being responsible for that, because every time they have an infrastructure week, you know, he seems to
ignore that, and just send out some rockets -- twitter rockets that grab people's attention. >> i think the twitter feed has a lot to do with that. to chris's point, absolutely, steve bannon was probably the chief of chaos. one irony of this flairup over wolf's book is that trump managed to achieve something in tax reform. now he seems to be busy burying bann bannon, and now we're talking about something else. >> who brought michael wolf into the white house, it was steve bannon, gave him unlimited access. saying, you can trust this guy, this book is not only unflattering -- i think it's filled with malicious untruths.
you know, steve does not drink, but when you read some of the things he said there, it makes you wonder. by saying don jr. committed treason by taking a meeting is ridiculous. >> another story that's breaking, rocking the white house tonight that could be another key focus of the russia probe, ahead. like yucatan shrimp covered in chili-lime butter and caramelized pineapple. and if you like hot, buttery maine lobster, get your hands on this petite red lobster roll. for new entrees, explore globally-inspired dishes like dragon shrimp with a spicy soy-ginger sauce. with so many new dishes and all the classics you crave, what are you waiting for? come taste what's new at red lobster.