tv Washington Journal Chris Whipple CSPAN March 9, 2018 11:42pm-12:27am EST
continues. .ost: and we are back to >> we are back to winning is from new york this morning the author of gatekeepers howis the white house staff defines every presidency your book is out in paperback talking to the president's first chief of staff writes previous and steve benton. what did you learn? >> the most whites house modern it is well. we imagine when i sat down with reince priebus the first
time he set off the t record later i persuaded him to put it on the record take everything you have heard and multiply it times 50. that gives you an idea what it was like during the first six months and the chapter begins with a phone call from president trumped to his chief of staff january 21 and trump was livid and. about the picture of his compared to obama's in the washington post demanding that reince priebus fix it but he thought to himself do i want to go to war with the president on day number one? it was that kind of six months for reince priebus. >> how did prepare for the job? >> that is a good question.
he was invited to the white house the outgoing chief of staff ten former white house chief came and gathered around a table to give the best advice and they all told him and agreed he needed to be empowered to be effective and of course donald trump have no intention of empowering him as we found out but most of those chiefs came away not feeling very optimistic for his chances and he had not prepared seriously. one former white house said he had the attitude of a personal aide and a cruise director. >> what did he mean by that? >> i thank you meant that 18
hadn't done any serious preparation for the job of white house staff it is enormously important that requires an extraordinary skill set and the infrastructure deputy chief that you have to know to run the white house and his former chief's opinion he had not done any of that preparation but he would argue donald trump wass a unique president and is who he is he would run the white house like the 26th floor of trump tower not empower anyone in the traditional way is white house chief. >> at that lunch reince priebus was given advice but what did the president barack obama tell him? >> correct he walked in the middle of the meeting everybodyar stood up and he
them then obama looked at his former chiefs who were all there and turned to reince priebus and said everyone of these guys told me that this me off. they were not always right but that is the most important thing that chief of staff canor do to tell the president not what he wants to hear but what he here. i hope you will do that for president trumped heo said. over the next six months i'm afraid he did not really distinguish himself to speak a hard truth to donald trump to make a caller said earlier if i was the chief of staff i would have smashed his phone and prevented him from tweeting and said if that were to happen the president's approval rating would be 80% -
i don't know about that but it is true almost any chief of staff will tell you that tweeting has been destructive and a way to keep the administration off message and off-balance and in his defense he tried to take his phone away even had the secret service conspire with him but it turned out trump had another and they had family intervention. milania tried but then he stopped for a few days and went right back at it it was mission impossible. >> chief of staff and reince priebus said you need to be number one what was his relationship light with steve bannon?
interestingly they got along pretty well. there are always factions is the white house this was like game of thrones. but i think what happened is jared ivanka were not happy with him wanting to push him out and bannon and reince priebus formed an alliance i think they like each other and act actually worked reasonably well to gather. >> what about that structure with steve bannon in that position with reince priebus as chief of staff? >> it was unworkable maybe that three headed beast with
reince priebus chief of staff title but not the authority and then defendant as a political strategist then you have jared kushner who was family so it was divided among the three of them. one of the things i learned from my book that every president learns the hardware you cannot govern effectively without empowering a chief of staff first among equals to execute your agenda and tell you what you don't want to hear. donaldng f trump failed to do tt during the first six months and he paid thete price history is littered with presidencies that don't get it but you have to do that effectively jimmy carter took him to a half years bill clinton took a year and a half before he really empowered leon pannetta to do the job that needed to be done.
it was an unworkable structure and the most dysfunctional white house in modern history to make here to take your questions of the role of the chief of staff inside the white house now your thought about current chief of staff in the global inside the white house so what was reince priebus, how was he treated at the end he really was subjected to a lot of humiliation as you may recall during the first month donald trump can sense weakness and
take advantage of it you remember the famoust incident where he was reportedly asked if he could swat a fly. he wasn't always treated with the most of respect and his and came very abruptly he actually submitted his resignation after the communications director insulted him and basically accused him of leaking confidentialki information. reince priebus said when i was accused of a felony i have had it and went to donald trump and said he was resigning hoping there would be a g graceful exit but shortly thereafter sat on the tarmac atat andrews air force base in the rain donald trump tweeted
he was out and in general kelly was in. >> republican line. >> caller: now going off to general kelly and what trump has beenti up against still carrying the 63% may be more sitting down with north korea if it doesn't work out at least it is a first step that general kelly said you better get youred questions straight he said he is light on point and doing fine 63% of the conservatives but he pushed in the first year even with the fbi d -- just like barack did with the blm like clive and bundy were let go and the irs had to pay out a weapon eyes everything and relearn everything now and it will
come out everybody say don't tweet that is technology. >> is is a question or speech? >> i am the united states coast guard captain. >> so his point is that general kelly said he's doing fine this is been the most functional white house in modern history for a year it has been broken unable to do anything right. first of all unable to pass legislation with executive orders that were not enforceablece and blocked in the court they couldn't prioritize the president's agenda, nobody knew what was nobody on the same page the only way tax through by keeping donald trump 100 miles away
from it. so by any measure this has been the most dysfunctional and least accomplished in modern history he is not the first president to come into office full of hubris thinking he has all the answers most get over that and figure out their is a difference betweener campaigning and demonizing and dividing and governing donald trump still hasn't figured that out and i'm afraid general kelly has reinforced his partisan instincts and a lot of people expected more from general kelly frankly. >> independent line before teen i would like to make a comment. it seems you look at this from a negative point of view i would like to let you know o
that us people out here i know we are termed thene flyover state we elected president trump because we knew he would be different. we overlook some of the things we may consider negative that we look atlt results and today is a very historic moment if you look at what happened yesterday we have a long way to go but there is another point of view. >> are you referring to tara mom -- tara? >> i think the tariff will be worked t out but with north korea ist. a historic moment. >> we will see about that. if you read my book i thank you will see that i try to be very evenhanded and honest
chronicler of how the chief of staff has performed over history republicans or democrats. again i would say baker was the gold standard. leon pannetta perhaps a close second with effectiveness. so what i am talking about not whether you like him or not i'm looking at results and the white house chief and his ability to perform and deliver and if i were for donald trump i would be disappointed or furious about the fact this white house has been so dysfunctional and unable to deliver any results. the reality is by any measure looking at the record over the first year it could not get anything accomplished unless
you consider ripping up executive orders and abolishing regulation and getting a justice on the supreme court if that is great governance, so be it but by every other measure this white house has been a failure to let me -- what made them the gold standard? >> in baker to begin with is the smooth as silk texas lawyer comfortable in his own skin and confident he knew capitol hill and understood the white house at the end of the day could walk into the oval office close the door and tell ronald reagan what he didn't want to hear. starting with leon pannetta and clinton. reagan was determined right out of the gate to tackle
social security reform jim baker had been around the block and then listen. social security reform is the third rail of politics if you touch it you will be electrocuted. try something else so he visited two tax cuts and the economy and the rest is history there would not have been a reagan resolution without jim baker to speak a hard truth to reagan i see no evidence that is happening in this white house and john kelly is out of his depth politically. >> how can they run the white house on a daily basis versus how it ist: run now? >> in a functioning white house firing on every cylinder everything flows from the empowered chief of staff to execute thee president's agenda cannot overestimate how
important the job is not only famously the gatekeeper that create time and space also the honest broker of information to make sure every decision is to get on every side and making sure the toughest decision in charge of communication and the heat shield taking the flack aimed at the president and to execute the president's agenda and at the end of the day tells him what he does not want to hear and in the functioning white house that translates into result. >> democratic line las vegas before teen hello. i feel the chief of staff is just like the president.
instincts and the remarks about nine example of that. another example was when john kelly walked to the podium and the white house press briefing room and told the full story about representative wilson. that is the kind of partisanship that don't't really want to see from your white house chief. white house chief is supposed to be the honest broker, the above the political fray and supposed to be the person who executed the president's agenda. you know, even really partisan characters like dick cheney or rob emanuel, for they were whit house chiefs they were honest brokers and they weren't people who through their weight around ideologically in that role. >> i want to get your reaction to the president during these
news conference earlier this week asked about personal changes at the white house and this is how he responded. >> the white house has tremendous energy and for the spirit. it is a great place to be working. many, many people want receive a job. i read that maybe people don't want to work with, but believe me, everybody wants to work in the white house. they all want a piece of that oval office and want a piece of the west wing. not only in terms of it looks great onvi the resume but it's a great place to work. it has been his energy. it is tough. i like complex and i like having two people with different points of view and i certainly have that and then i make a decision but i like watching it and seeing it and i think it's the best way to go. i like different point of view but th' white house has a tremendous energy and we have tremendous talent. there will be people, i'm not to be specific, but there will be change. sometimes they want to go out and do something else but they all want to be in the white house.
so many people want to come in. i have a choice of anybody. i could take any position in the white house and all have a choice of the ten top people having to do with that position. everyone wants to be there. and they love the white house because we have energy like rarely before. >> host: chris, what you make of thise president? look, you have to agree with what he said about energy. look, there is a lot of energy in a burning building or nuclear down, too. this white house is really in a freefall. we've never seen anything like this chaos and dysfunction. the trouble is the only model trump knows his the 26th floor of the top tower. you can't run the white house the way you run a manhattan family real estate firm with people coming and going and no one in powered and no chain of command. as i said before, history is littered with records of presidencies that did not understand that. not yet figured
that out until he does he won't be able to govern effectively. let's take an example, jimmy carter and ronald reagan. jimmy carter was arguably the smartest person elected in the 20th century. he was trained as a nuclear engineer. ronald reagan, not so much. but reagan understood somethingt that jimmy carter never grasped and that donald trump has yet to grasp. that is that an outsider present above all needs a consummate insider like jim baker, chief of staff the reagan had who knows capitol hill and also comfortable telling the president hard truths in until donald trump figures that out he won't be able to govern effectively, in my view one
washington post headlinest this morning, trump turnover breaks white house record. 42% of staffers have left or changed jobs. jack in buckeye arizona, republican. your next speaker he first of all, thank you for taking my call. i'd like to methodically make a few comments before i ask your guest a question. let's look at what he says. number one, he's been there one mr. whipple went all negative on saying what his accomplishment are. getting rid of all regulation, executive orders and if you consider all of this great, it is great for all the people about 35 states on the map that i saw the voted for him being a g republican going to the supree court and also all the executive orders that you said obama signed were all desperately change the regulations and the economy is great. the stock market is at its highest it's ever been and he got rid of isis and all these
other a couple spots. if you consider those negative according to obama, obvious to you like. let's keep this in mind. okay mark you said someone coming from the 26th floor, we have had that for years what you mean by your comparing the 26th floor of a politicians. people don't want that. we want someone to run this country very, very much like it needs to be a business otherwise look at obama. 10 trillion to the debt, 10 trillion. >> host: that come up and take your point. mr. whipple, his evidence is -- >> guest: i don't disagree with you that donald trump has eliminated regulations and certainly gotten and change the judiciary and put supreme court justice on the court. you know, i'm not arguing with
that. not sure what you mean by my going all negative. not talking about donald trump's ideology and whether i like it or not. i'm talking about how he has served by his white house chief of staff and if i were a donald trump voter i would be frustrated that he hasn't been able to get more done. obama was criticized by republicans and presumably by you for governing by executive order. well, that is the only thing that trumpo has been able to do. he hasn't been able to pass any legislation. the only bill that has gone through of any consequence was tax reform and only because he stayed 100 miles away from it. legislatively this white house has beenac the least accomplishd in modern history. if you look at bill clinton's first term or even jimmy
carter's first term there is not even any comparison. they vastly are performed this way. so if i were a trump supporter i'd be looking at the white house and looking at the chief of staff and i'd be asking myself why isn't he delivering more? would you write in this new chapter ofs your book based on your interviews with the band and about to repeal and replace efforts of the affordable care act and when that dramatic moment came on the house floor when john mccain voted no, what was steve balance reaction? >> guest: that is a good question. i don't specifically knoww what steve balance reaction was. i know that well, i do note that bannon felt at that moment that it was probably the last straw for right on. rinse previous. that's what he told me and i think he would argue that there
was no way to really see mccain coming down and that was a surprise. it was a to b.g according to bannon for donald trumpum losing his confidence in reince pribus. aho white house chief of staff s to be able to deliver. you have to -- jim baker under ronald reagan had the legislative strategy group. he had a small group of really smart, savvy operators like ten duberstein who could count both and they never went out there unless they knew they coulde deliver. the trouble with this white house is that it has just been broken. one of the things that it hasn't been able to do is count both on capitol hill. >> host: neil, silver spring, maryland, democrat. >> caller: pick you for taking my call.e
i like the guest to comment on the role of steven muller and how does this relate to reince pribus and how does he relate to general kellyanne does he have the president's ear and is he on the side of kushner and yvonne and how to set up layout? >> guest: that is a good question and frankly, i'm not an expert on steven muller and i didn't talk extensively about him with reince pribus or with bannon, for that matter. reince pribus is obviously a hard-line ideologue and he certainly, donaldna trump has seems to have a soft spot for him. he has been influential among the ideologues in this white house and i think that would put him really up against the more moderate faction of ivanka trump
andru jared kushner and certain, gary cohen who is on his way out at this point. i think that is where he is among the factions in the white house but i think he still has donald trump suspect. >> host: mike, houston, texas, republican. >> caller: good morning. mr. whipple i want you to know that 500 americans in 500 americans could name who robert porter was before that scandal broke i would mow your lawn with him clippers. we didn't even know who he was. >> guest: i am sure you are right.ou >> caller: yeah, but the instrumental value he might be instrumental but no one who he was. regarding something like daca for example, you may not get solved but the reason it will get solved is that democrats do not want it to be salt the democrats require victims in order to win reelection and the
dreamers are there victims and they will be victims of donald trump and that's the way it will be couched going into the election. it will not happen because democrats won't let it happen and solving problems is not what democrats want too do becauseo they require the voters to be dependent on democrats, dependent on them. daca members, dreamers, would not be dependent on them if they get citizenship or a pathway to it what might, to your point lem me get a question out of his commentary. the president has said in the meetings before cameras final work with you and chuck and nancy, referring to charles schumer in nancy pelosiriri in t oval office meeting where he said i will strike a deal with you and you can get the ball too do this. where is the role of the chief of staff to make bipartisan
deals and how important is that. >> guest: the role of the chief of staff is critical. it is absolutely essential. you saw it under reagan where jim baker was able to crawl up to the speaker and have him come over and they would drink whiskey in the residence with ronald reagan and they would get stuff done. they would achieve compromises. some people may say that is a lost art and it will never happen again but i don't believe that. i'm more optimistic than that. i think it's a capablet. white house chief can help the president to govern. as i said before, donald trump has not learned that there is a difference between campaigning and governing. he knows how to do one thing and one thing only and that is to divide and demonize and disrupt. that is not governing, that is campaigning. unfortunatelyat you know, john
kelly has really just doubled down on all those partisan instincts. this is not the art of the deal and almost everything this president touches turns to dust including and it's not even clear what he is for and what he is against. if you listen to what he said ouabout gun control and about terrorists there is no consistency and he says one thing one day and the opposite the next and it's the chief ofto staff's job to help the president figure out how to get beyond campaigning and get real results. >> host: previous chief of staff had to dealf with family and roles as advisor to the present. if so, how? >> guest: it is never easy. the delicate issue and again i go back to james baker under reagan. you have not only nancy reagan who was famously described as
the quote, unquote, personnel director and that white house and she had to sign off on every senior appointment but you had mike dever who was not familyn but like a son to ronald reagan and they were very powerful in the reagan white house and james baker was politically savvy enough to realize that he needed to form an alliance with them so when the hard right ideologues came after baker was considered the pragmatist he prevailed because he had those alliances with nancy and dever and others. it requires a deft political touch which i don't think john kelly has and i don't think there's anyone in the west wing at this point with any real political savvy. >> host: charlottesville, virginia, democrat. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. quick question.
jack earlier said that white house needs to be iran like a business and you said earlier that general kelly was wishy-washy on g issues. it was also stated -- >> guest: i said he doubled down on his partisan instincts. i never said he wasr wishy-was. >> caller: okay but you characterizedze him as saying oe thing and then another thing and contradictory himself. >> guest: yeah, i don't think donald trump knows what he believes in one color, your points. my question is with the pentagon is there any comments on the audits of the amendment by senator paul? >> guest: i have no opinion on that, sorry. >> host: don, kalamazoo, michigan, republican. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. i'm glad that people are
knocking trump but i'd like to say that if you think trump is bad. to clinton. before clinton was in office six months we had bombed baghdad, he bombedl of iraq, iraq in 98, december 16, i believe it is. after it was all over there was no way of knowing what it happened in the said that in his own book and after that there was no inspections in iraq never sold the police got in and it took a while for bush to get out. here's a question. if clinton had forced saddam husseinon to follow the cease-fe in kuwait would push ever have gotten the vote from the senate and from the house from the un to go to war in iraq? >> host: will leave that question out there for mr.
whipple. >> guest: i'm not here to talk about bill clinton and saddam hussein but i will tell you since you are talking about the of force i'll tell you something that both reince pribus and steve bannon told me in the new chapter of the paperback which is out now. you might find surprising and that is steve bannon, i asked him what would surprise me and tell me something i don't know about donald trump and bannon said to me that trump is the farthest thing from the mad bomber that he's a guy who never met anyone who is more judicious about the use of force. you can believe that or not but reince pribus told me the same interestingi found and again, i think we are a long way from knowing the answer to that but i just found it interesting that each of them
mentioned that independently. >> host: you said that reince pribus was one of the more challenging interviews you've ever done and why is that? >> guest: he was extremely nervous and cautious and i think he still respects donald trump and he wishes him well and he didn't want to say anything that would jeopardize trump's agenda and he didn't want to say anything that would reflect badly on him and so he was cautious. we began off the record and frankly we had two long sessions that were completely off the record and then went for a painstaking process of getting things on the record and in that sense it was a very challenging process. >> host: do you still have a relationship with president do talk?
>> guest: , a drink they do. i think they talk regularly. trump has a phone that is not monitored by john kellyanne he calls at least until recently as far as i know, he called corey lewandowski, his former campaign manager quite a lot in calls reince pribus regularly for some political advice and i think if you ask anyone at the west wing at the moment with much political savvy he doesn't have a david axelrod or a karl roveit for a quote on quote political strategist in the white house so i think he likes to call people like reince pribus and get his advice.in >> host: john, independent. >> caller: hello, how are you. >> host: good morning. >> caller: chris, i don't understand where you get your information from but you are right on the head. you know donald trump like i know donald trump and believe me i have experienced working for state service for 40 years and
this guy is not going to accomplish anything because he doesn't have a clue on how it is done and it used to be that people that work was moved up and then they went to the hierarchy of government in today it is anybody that it doesn'the pan out what experience they have or don't have. you are right on the money. >> host: mr. whipple, what you think? >> caller: let m >> guest: one of the things i have learned in researching this book is that in hollywood they say nobody knows anything? in washington, no one learns anything. as i say donald trump is not the first president to come into office thinking that he was the smartest guy in the room and had all the answers. it's taking him longer than most presidents to figure out if he ever figures it out that you
have to do certain things to be able to govern effectively. it has happened with some other presidents and it took jimmy carter to enough years to appoint a white house chief and empower one to get anything done and it took bill clinton a year and half to empowerle leon panea to advance his agenda and so, trump is not the only guy who comes in thinking he can run the place his way and the result has been the least accomplished in modern history so far. >> host: chris whipple is in with this quote from the peace in your book that is featured in an excerpt in vanity fair. trump is a man who fears no one and nothing continued reince pribus and there is absolutely nothing he is intimidated by and that is very rare in politics but most people in politics are
people who have an approval addiction. granted, president does too but he's willing to whether one storm after the next to get to an end result the most people are not willing to weather. he doesn't mind the craziness, the drama or the difficulty as long aszi an end goal is in sig. he will interact. mr. whipple, what you make of that? what does that say about the president? >> guest: he may interrupt the craziness and drama is no way to get to the end result. the other day reince pribus said on some network that tried to look beyond the craziness and the turmoil look at the result. the trouble is that craziness and drama rarely, if ever, get results. way history shows the way you get results is by empowering a white house chief to execute your agenda and you have to be able to do more than just demonize and divide in disrupt. if your definition is to be a human wrecking ball then that is what we have got right now.
donald trump has, failed to len the lesson ronald reagan learned which is you have to to govern and not just campaign. >> host: the book, gatekeepers: how the wife health chief of staff to find every presidency. chris whipple, thank you for the conversation. appreciate it to thank you for having me speak this weekend on the tv, live coverage from the tenth annual tucson civil of books featuring author discussions in if you are calling segments from the university of arizona.
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