Priebus out: Is Steve Bannon next?
This is a rush transcript from "The Fox News Specialists," July 28, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
EBONI K. WILLIAMS, CO-HOST: Hey, everybody. I'm Eboni K. Williams along with Kat Timpf and Brian Kilmeade, in for Eric Bolling. And this is the Fox News Specialists. Breaking news right now, it's being reported that Reince Priebus is out as White House chief of staff. President Trump tweeting just moments ago, I'm pleased to inform you that I named General Secretary John F. Kelly as the White House chief of staff. He's a great American. We're now going to Fox News chief political anchor, Bret Baier, who's in Washington with much, much more. Bret, your take.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL ANCHOR: Well, Eboni, we kind of saw some of this in the cards as you saw the back and forth between Anthony Scaramucci and Reince Priebus, and privately senior officials are saying that Priebus' days maybe numbered, they have been numbered to one. Now you have General John Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, will leave that post at DHS and will take on perhaps a more tumultuous job at the moment, chief of staff at the White House, trying to see who can get in to see the president, and try to steer the White House in a way that the president wants.
Obviously, President Trump has been a proponent of pulling in generals and using former military men as key figures in his administration. Kelly is top on the list, the former commander of U.S. southern command, and then a secretary of homeland security who is not shied away from using blunt language in pursuing immigration policies that President Donald Trump has wanted along the border. It will be interested to see what happens at DHS as they move forward. But this is a major shakeup. Reince Priebus, the former head of the RNC turned chief of staff has now left, and General John Kelly will now be the new White House chief of staff.
WILLIAMS: My goodness, Bret, so much happening so quickly, just that instantaneous naming of the replacement for Priebus. Let me ask you this, have you heard anything so far in Washington in terms of remarks that the president made around Priebus himself or his exit?
BAIER: No. You know, Reince Priebus was on this trip today to Long Island, where the president talked about MS-13 and fighting that dangerous gang. He was on Air Force One as was Anthony Scaramucci, the incoming communications director. There was no talk, no comments, and the White House was staying away from publicly commenting about any of that dust-up. Privately, you heard senior officials saying that the president didn't have a problem with some of the salty language that was caught on the record by Scaramucci in that New Yorker piece, and taking aim at Reince Priebus. So when you heard that, obviously, it signals that perhaps Priebus' days were numbered.
His term here has been obviously pretty up and down when you look at what the chief of staff is trying to do. But this, to Reince Priebus' defense, is a tough presidency to kind of steer and keep all the cats herded, if you will. There're a lot of cooks in the Donald Trump kitchen, and now you will have a general at the helm who's going to try to straighten out the White House behind the scenes.
BRIAN KILMEADE, CO-HOST: Speaking of Kat.
KATHERINE TIMPF, CO-HOST: Yes. Hi, Bret. I want to ask you--
BAIER: Hi, Kat.
TIMPF: -- the president just tweeted out thanking Reince Priebus for his service. It doesn't seem to be -- I mean, every time a switch like this happens, people try to paint it as turmoil, turmoil, is there more excitement around this or are people freaking out?
BAIER: Well, any time there's a chief of staff who doesn't make it a full year that is a big deal for a White House that is trying to get its sea legs under it, and just lost a major legislative battle up on Capitol Hill with the healthcare loss early this morning. So I don't think you can diminish the big news of this. And the fact that you're going to have to find a department of homeland security secretary is another big challenge up against a legislative agenda that is already packed.
WILLIAMS: Bret, let me ask you this, we are saying that we know that Reince is out, but do we know how he's out? Meaning, do we know it was a resignation from Reince Priebus or it was a termination from President Trump?
BAIER: Just guessing that since we didn't hear anything from Reince Priebus himself, and that he was on that Air Force One trip to Long Island, and that the first indication was a tweet from the president announcing the new chief of staff, I think that this probably was the White House telling him that he was out. The first indication we had was that tweet that John Kelly is taking over.
KILMEADE: Pretty amazing to see a general take over as chief of staff. Bret, how much is it going to be a challenge for the general, if at all, without the political experience, just the leadership experience? His resume looks great. Border crossing is down 74 percent. The border patrol feels reinvigorated. We know what's happening at the border and around the country with sanctuary cities, but does he have a big adjustment to learn inside Washington?
BAIER: Yes. I mean 100 percent. Look at the roll-out of the effort to kind of crack down on, remember, the Muslim nations that -- the nations that were on the list, that they wanted to do the first executive order. When all that happens, the way it was handled, John Kelly was learning as he was going about the intricacies of Washington. He's very accomplished. He had to be on Capitol Hill many times testifying as the southern commander, the U.S. Southern Command -- head of the U.S. Southern Command, obviously, now as department of homeland security. But he's not as far as we can tell had a lot of experience dealing with all of the ways to get around this town. As you know, the James Bakers, the Leon Panetta's, the people who know where the skeletons are buried up on Capitol Hill. Sometimes they are in the best positions for those chief of staff positions. But what's most important is to have the trust of the president, and that is what General Kelly has clearly. This president really, really likes him.
WILLIAMS: Bret Baier, thank you so much. We will be right back with you shortly. But let's now meet today's specialist. He's the managing partner for the Logan Circle Group, also the founder of Democrats for Trump, and on the advisory board of Donald J. Trump for president, he specializes though in all things politics, Harlan Hill is here. He is a Fox News contributor, an army veteran serving tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gitmo, he's also the author of The Arena, and he specializes in fidget spinning, Pete Hegseth is here. We'll get to that later. But I'll start with this, Pete. With the ouster now of Reince Priebus, this almost seems to be the end of anyone in the inner circle of President Trump from the GOP establishment.
PETE HEGSETH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: These are the establishment going out, and these are Trump loyalists coming in. This is a White House closing ranks, under siege, wants to get things done. They're sick of the leaks of the self-promotion and self-preservation of the agendas of others. They want people that are supportive of this president and what he needs to get done. If you can't close ranks inside the White House, you can't beat the swamp. You can't beat the deep state. You can't beat the fake news media. So in this particular case, General Kelly strikes me as a perfect pick because he's loyal to the president, he pursued the policy agenda the president wants, but he also maintain a low key, well talking bluntly. He's not trying to overshadow the president and aggressively pursue his agenda. So if anybody can knock skulls and say, hey, guys, cut it out, cut out the leaking, get in line, put the country first and serve your president, it's a general.
WILLIAMS: All right. Kat?
TIMPF: I mean, I just don't know if this signal that President Trump agrees with Scaramucci that Priebus was a leaker or this is a larger issue of wanting to drain the swamp. They continually blaming the establishment for all the problems of the administration, which, of course, President Trump won as an anti-establishment candidate. I lot of people who weren't Republican, like I know your mom, Eboni, voted for President Trump for that reason. But it's -- really, really, really, like you said, almost a complete flop.
WILLIAMS: Harlan, this is astonishing.
HARLAN HILL, LOGAN CIRCLE GROUP MANAGING PARTNER: It is. Well, here's my problem, is that Priebus was there in the formative months of the Trump White House. He was there for the period of time when the staff was filled out. And so, if we're really going to drain the White House of the RNC-GOP establishment, people that were, frankly, never Trumpers throughout much of the campaign, they cannot stop -- they cannot stop with Priebus. This needs to go further down because I know--
HILL: I'm not going to name -- it's inappropriate to name names.
HILL: It is.
HILL: But this is something that Anthony Scaramucci highlighted just a week ago saying that this would be his priority, is rooting out the leakers, rooting out people that are disloyal to the president, and rooting out people that are more interested in their self-interests than protecting the president.
KILMEADE: One of the reasons why Reince Priebus was there, he did an incredible job revitalizing the RNC, which was buried in debt, flat on its back. Next thing you know, you've got all these state houses filled, these governorship filled, and you have a White House filled with Republicans, as well as the house and senate. We know about that record. But in terms of -- he was the first to get a hug on the stage on the night of the win. However, in the big picture, he was brought in because of his legislative relationships, with his relationships with Paul Ryan. What happened yesterday? At least for now, healthcare is dead. And what was Reince Priebus supposed to do? Deliver healthcare. You think that's part of the reason, Pete?
HEGSETH: Absolutely. When you win, everything gets better. When you lose, someone usually takes the fall for it. In this case, it is GOP senators that are the problem. That are unable to get out of their way.
WILLIAMS: It's Mitch McConnell--
HEGSETH: It's Mitch McConnell. It's Paul Ryan--
KILMEADE: It was one senator.
HEGSETH: It's John McCain. I mean, ultimately, there was a vote that it came down to, so nothing happened. But this is a lot more about, to your point Kat, I think the president sided with Anthony Scaramucci.
HEGSETH: He's siding with the fighter. No, he wants fighter. He doesn't want apologizers, he doesn't want appeasers. He doesn't want leakers. That is exactly right.
TIMPF: Think about how amazing this is with that story that came out with Scaramucci and President Trump saying, OK, well, let's look at what he's saying, let's not worry about the language, and I forget what he's saying. I don't necessarily have a problem with that at all. If there is this turmoil in the White House, and that what should be addressed in whatever way he sees appropriate. I just think it's very interesting it happened one day after, it is almost -- whether or not it's true that he was the leaker, everyone is going to be least thinking that President Trump at least believes that he was.
HILL: The president is putting everyone in notice in Washington. That business as usual is over. And if you don't start delivering on the make America Great Again platform, that they all ran on, that they were all the beneficiaries of in 2016, then we're going to clean house. I'm serious about this. In 2010, all of these Republicans were running for congress and they said give us the house and we will repeal Obamacare. They said in 2014, give us the senate and we'll repeal Obamacare. They said in 2016, give us the White House and we'll do it. And the president is there he said I have a pen in my hand. Send me a bill and I'll sign it. And Mitch McConnell and the rest of these jokers on the hill cannot deliver despite the fact that they passed, what, 60 something repeals of Obamacare in the previous years? Enough is enough. No excuses. Don't go on to recess. If you do, we're going to have a real problem, and we're going to start firing these Republicans in Washington.
WILLIAMS: Harlan, I want you to develop an opinion on this.
TIMPF: We need more passion--
HILL: You asked for it. I'm here.
WILLIAMS: We're now going to Washington D.C. We've got Kevin Corke who is there in Washington D.C., who's got more for us on these -- just out -- you know, breaking, as we speak, news, General Kelly, now in as chief of staff. Kevin?
KEVIN CORKE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Listen, Eboni, I'm just reading some of the read out. The president, actually, had a chance to speak with the pool upon making his way back here to Washington, D.C. There was just a bit of reporting, apparently, Reince Priebus, and leaving the motorcade there, in his own vehicle. There were some people who began to receive word that he has actually been replaced as chief of staff. Went up, tried to get quick shots with their cell phones, and then, of course, his vehicle peeled off after that point.
Let me just share a bit of what the president told the pool. He said look, I want to congratulate John Kelly who's done an incredible job, one of our real stars. He's one of our great stars. You know the border is down 78 percent under past administrations, it didn't go down. And so, basically, in this conversation with the pool, the president is saying what he essentially said on twitter, which is here's a man who's gotten the job done in the position he's been placed.
Now, what can he do now to elevate this White House, which -- and I think I'm being generous when I say this, has had a rocky start. Granted, we're several months in, but things have certainly not been smooth by any stretch of the imagination, in particular when you talk about the leaking problem. Will General Kelly make a big difference? That's certainly the president's bet. And if his performance over at DHS is any indication, you would have to believe, at a bare minimum, he will run a fairly tight ship over here at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Eboni?
WILLIAMS: Kevin, let me ask you this, you make reference to General Kelly being successful around, pretty much the signature issue of President Trump's presidency, immigration being down -- 78 percent at the border. What type of award do you think we'll continue to see around people that have had positive results around the Trump administration? My question is -- next up, health care we see as dead as of yesterday. What do you think the president will do and who do you think will be in charge of that effort moving forward?
CORKE: Good questions. I think two things have to happen. First of all, they want to move forward on tax reform, I mean, this is such a critical issue. You've heard Eric talk about this. You all talked about this at great length. If you're going to get a pelt, if you will, here in year one, immigration, fine. The wall, you can still come up with funding for that. We just saw that. But you have to get something of substance done especially ahead of the mid-term. Can General Kelly in running this team really get them on point, on focus for the president's agenda, and get their messaging out there? I think by all accounts, Sarah Huckabee Sanders has done yeoman's work in her new capacity, but they'll have to do even more as they welcome General Kelly here to the White House.
TIMPF: Yeah. It's interesting, though, because -- is there a message? It seems the GOP people don't really know they're not unified around one message. Does it matter how much who is in charge?
CORKE: I'm going to be delicate as I put this to you. The GOP, for lack of a better description, is essentially a Hatfield's and the McCoy's. I mean, they may wear the same jersey, but let me tell you, these -- there are so many factions inside Washington within the GOP. It does make it very difficult to sort of coalesce and get major items over the finish line.
You saw the house getting its repeal effort over the finish line. And that was a herculean task, which is really interesting when you consider their numbers. The fact that senate couldn't get it done doesn't surprise me. It will not be an easy 18 months as we look forward to the mid-terms. But if nothing else, they know what their marching orders are now, and they have a president who's willing to pull trigger on change if that's what it takes.
By the way, last thing I want to say is that I've been sort of telling my colleagues here, President Trump reminds me a bit of George Steinbrenner. If you're a big baseball fan from back to the 70's, you might remember all the times that he fired Billy Martin and bring him back, and fire Billy Martin, this is the kind of leadership I think we're seeing on President Trump. He's willing to make change for change's sake, and sometimes it does have a major impact, we'll see.
KILMEADE: I just hope he doesn't try to get sign Jesse Barfield.
CORKE: Well done.
KILMEADE: Kevin, I have to ask you one more question. I know you said that was the last thing you're going to say. Please don't give me the silent treatment. It happens usually when I'm not on the show. I can't read much from the Anthony Scaramucci story that Ryan Liza wrote because it's a lot of expletives. It's beyond salty. But I will say this, the other person that he called out was Steve Bannon. And he talked about Steve Bannon in his own -- in a different way looking to forward his own brand instead of the president's. And I'm wondering if Bannon is next. What do you hear?
CORKE: I got to tell you, I was really hoping that I might be able to reach out -- and just maybe even off the cuff make a little contact with the chief strategist. Haven't been able to do it, but I will tell you this, he doesn't suffer foolishness lightly. He is a very strong and opinionated personality, one who has the president's ear. How that will ultimately play out remains to be seen. But I will say this if I was advising Anthony Scaramucci, a person that I don't know personally, I would certainly say this, pick your battles carefully, because sometimes you poke the bear and that's not necessarily a good idea.
WILLIAMS: Kevin Corke, thank you so much. We'll be back with you, as well, later in the hour. We're now going to take this conversation around the table. I'll start with you, Pete. I love that you brought this up, Brian. Bannon was named heavily in that kind of Scaramucci rant that we all know about. He's not the establishment. Do you think he's on ice?
HEGSETH: I don't think so. I think he floats pretty well between factions. He really does. He learns -- and he also -- has more or less a mind meld with the president. He stepped back from the spotlight, because we know the president doesn't necessarily always appreciate that. But one of the things Kevin Corke highlighted I think is really important, the amount of factions in the White House. Tell me what faction General Kelly represents?
HEGSETH: Zero. A political, the constitution, the country and the president of the United States. He's going to be that referee inside that room saying I don't care about your political games, I don't care about your -- I understand -- in the military we talked about operational security and maintaining classified information. No more of that because you will get prosecuted the way that Anthony Scaramucci has talked about. He's not going to be a maneuver. He's not looking for another job, or a TV show, or this, or that, he is there to stir--
WILLIAMS: You know about that. That's not the culture of the military.
HEGSETH: That's not the culture of the military at all, especially the reputation of this general. A very straight shooter, who's led troops in combat. The president respects that. And I think that will help reign in some of this faction fighting inside the White House.
WILLIAMS: Now Kat, we know that -- you know, personally, I was surprised to see President Trump, as you point out accurately, ran a very kind of, almost, nonpartisan campaign, bring in these very GOP establishment elite types like Reince and like Spicer. Now that he got rid of those, do you think that we will see the president govern from even a less kind of partisan way?
TIMPF: Perhaps. Although, I don't necessarily -- when people say GOP these days, I don't really even know what that means. Does that mean a freedom caucus member of the Republican Party, does that mean one of the more so-called moderates, which I think are more like Democrats, really, than moderates Republicans. And I think that the leadership style can change and they can do -- and Kelly might be able to do everything that he can, or try anything he can to get people to get it together and stop at -- the same time, congress is full of people who has special interests. And even on ideological levels believe different things. You can't lead somebody into believing different things.
WILLIAMS: OK. In this moment, we're going to bring back Bret Baier, who's still in Washington D.C., and really just filling that energy, which -- Bret, I can only imagine what this is like in the moment in Washington D.C. What is it feeling like, are people shocked, are they in awe? Was this anticipated?
BAIER: I think there was an anticipation that it's going to happen over a number of days. I'm just getting a lot of messages from different sources. Some saying that Kelly has a lot of D.C. experience. He was a former marine legislative liaison, a senior military aide to Secretary Gates and Panetta. Obviously, testified as the commander of southern command. He's a battle hardened veteran as you just heard. He's had three tours in Iraq, his son, Dodd, serving the country in Afghanistan. He knows the military back and forth. And he does know Washington and how that works. The question is how he'll work in this White House. And maybe, just maybe, Reince Priebus -- let me rewind.
This week started, Monday, with Sean Spicer leaving, Anthony Scaramucci coming in as being announced. He's not even officially White House communications director yet. Sean Spicer leaves. Then we have a couple days where Sessions, the attorney general is under fire. He stays in. Tells Tucker last night, he's going to stick in. Then you have the healthcare vote. You have North Korea launching another ballistic missile. The health care vote happens. It is a major loss. A loss for the inside game people. As you were just talking about, maybe this is the signal that they're going to try to shake this up and do it a different way to try to drain the swamp not from the inside but from the outside.
KILMEADE: So Bret, one of those messages, true or false, was about a tee time for Saturday. And one more breaking story, and that tee time is gone because Bret Baier is going to have to work this weekend. So we've got our fingers crossed for you because you need some free time.
KILMEADE: This is also good news, I imagine, for a guy you know well, H.R. McMaster, because he and Kelly get along very well. He evidently has been clashing with the president in a respectful way, maybe not getting his point across. But if you have Kelly as chief of staff, McMaster, and advisors, and the secretary of defense Mattis, you do have a mind meld there of maybe people that President Trump looks at on an equal level, to best you can imagine, to maybe move in the right direction, if these was all like guy's guys, where the guy likes to be a guy. So he went with the inside game and he lost. He wanted to go tax reform. He didn't. He went with what his advisers told him, and now his advisors are out. I think this is going to be a brand new presidency starting today.
BAIER: It's possible. Obviously, he has an inclination towards generals, because the people who are not generals have not done too well in the eyes of this president, as of yet. There's a little dust-up between the secretary of state that seems like it's being ironed out. The attorney general is sticking in there, even though he was the first senator to endorse candidate Donald Trump. And clearly, the generals are well- positioned in this administration. It was always previous presidents there was a bit of a red flag when you brought generals that close into the oval office. General Eisenhower, the President Eisenhower didn't want to do it at all because he worried about the image. This president is not worried about that image. He respects the service, and thinks that perhaps it's that military mind-set that can straighten out his White House.
TIMPF: And you mention the beginning of the week, Sean Spicer and also Jeff Sessions. Do you think Jeff Sessions is kind of taking a sigh of relief? Do you think he's going to go easy on him a little bit now?
BAIER: He got out of a few tweet at least, and the focus has shifted. Think about the week again. I mean, it has gone like this. And we in the media have, you know, chased the light on the wall for a number of days. And these are big stories, these are big things that affect people because it is your government at work, and it's changing before your eyes.
WILLIAMS: Bret Baier, thank you so very much for bringing this to us straight from Washington D.C. We're going to say good-bye to you and, obviously, you'll have much more when you come back at 6:00 for Special Report. Bringing this around the table, Harlan, let me go with you. You were one of the first -- I remember this, well over a year ago, first Democrat when Bernie got out. You did not back Hillary Clinton. You went total opposite direction. You supported candidate Trump. Lots of people like you, my mother one of them, because they like the leadership style of President Trump. They like the business acronym. They like the almost apprentice style that says results equals -- if you don't have results, that equals termination. Is there something that plays in to that for you?
HILL: Yeah. Well, I think that President Trump has a unique management style. He's not afraid to fire someone if they're not performing for the American people and for him. And he really values loyalty. And one of the most concerning trends that I found and people that have surrounded President Donald Trump is that they're all trying -- not all of them, but many of them are trying to change him. They want him to tweet less. They want to refine his communications style. And that really concerns me, because it's often the same people that opposed him in the primary. President Donald Trump should be unleashed. He should be himself. The American people voted for this guy. And they didn't vote for this like modified candidate that we got with Hillary Clinton. That was so overly tested and refined that no one believed her or trusted them. People love his authenticity.
HEGSETH: Embrace the chaos. The voters elected someone they wanted to disrupt Washington D.C. They did not want business as usual. They did not want the same guys in the same roles, the chief of staff, and all the leaks, and the way things are done. And it clearly hasn't worked, and the Republicans can't get out of their own way. They want Anthony Scaramucci, they want General Kelly, they want Donald Trump, they want a fight, and they want a fighter.
So for these Republicans that are running for the hills, the never Trumpers that was never really with them, they're showing themselves to be this spineless folks that they are, unwilling to embrace the fact that fighting Washington will be messy, inevitably messy. Own it. Bring in a general to make it more effective, seriously, because I don't think there're many voters out there at all who voted for President Trump and say, oh, I don't like this.
HEGSETH: Look what happened in the senate floor last night.
HEGSETH: That's why they sent him to Washington.
WILLIAMS: I want to ask you this, Brian, because you have callers from all over America calling in to your radio show here at Fox News Radio. And I want to ask you, do you get any feedback from Trump voters that are confused or alarmed by what they see as a constant White House shakeup, or is it what Pete says, are they empowered by it and say this is the president they elected?
KILMEADE: Well, I mean, the latest study said that Trump voters, 82 percent are still in his corner. The question is where is the other 18 percent. And would that be there if he wasn't treating maybe about transgender one minute and about homeland security the next. Maybe there could be -- you're one of the few that I knew who says unleash Donald Trump.
KILMEADE: But I will say this. They are very protective of President Trump. He's got more approval rating, 41 percent approval rating, people think he has. Number one, I think you see the beginning and it's going to get people a little bit aggravated, the beginning of the end of the traditional like the Republican Party and Donald Trump. I think I would not be surprised over the next couple days he picks up the phone and talks to Joe Manchin, not -- or Chuck Schumer, Joe Manchin, John Tester, some of the moderate because he wants to win. He doesn't care what party wins because his party has been up and down with him.
HEGSETH: He's been chasing the unicorn for six months, as if there is some Democrat that's going to cross the aisle and not resist him. Their whole campaign premise is on resisting -- at what point you say--
TIMPF: We're going to bring in Kevin Corke again. He says he has some more information on Reince Priebus. Kevin?
CORKE: Yeah. I just got this from my colleague here at the White House, - - Gomez. Fox News can confirm that Reince Priebus secretly resigned yesterday. So while most of the world learned by way of twitter as did the rest of us, pretty much, we can now confirmed that Reince Priebus actually submitted his resignation yesterday before that announcement came out today. Now that would seem to back the previous assertion by Anthony Scaramucci who seemed to suggest in that now infamous and profanity laced interview with a reporter from the New Yorker that Reince Priebus was in fact about to resign.
So again, Fox News can confirm, I got this from -- Gomez, our White House producer here, that the White House says -- this is a source now that Reince Priebus actually secretly resigned yesterday. Only the rest of us are just learning about that today. By the way, I can also tell you -- and this, by the way, is now two White House sources telling us. So this has been confirmed by Fox. Elaine Duke, I want to bring up this new in case you haven't heard this already. The new acting DHS secretary then would now be Elaine Duke. In case you have not heard her name before, she was a deputy, actually, and she has a long and distinguished career in government service, some three decades we are told, so that would be Elaine Duke, at least temporarily, at the head now of the Department of Homeland Security. Guys?
WILLIAMS: Kevin Corke, oh, my gosh, this is fascinating. I asked Bret Baier, and then I think that Bret answered it in a way that most people would naturally think, that when President Trump tweets out that he's replaced Priebus, then that's a termination. It looked like now we're finding out that before the healthcare vote, probably, there was actually a resignation from Reince Priebus. My goodness.
TIMPF: I wouldn't been surprised to hear that Priebus found out with all of us from the tweet. I don't know what to think anymore.
KILMEADE: A lot of times, too. And Kevin, on top of that, you just have to wonder, too, if Reince didn't know he was out the minute Scaramucci was in, because by all reports he wanted Scaramucci out. He was supposed to be liaison, the -- of the administration. He had a little bit of a hang up with the sale of SkyBridge. Reince basically said just withdraw it. Don't embarrass the president. Withdraw. Scaramucci stayed on the outside, worked his way back in when he saw some vulnerability on the inside. And when the minute that Spicer left, because you knew that Reince Priebus was probably right behind him.
CORKE: Well, I agree with you completely on that, because keep this in mind, Anthony Scaramucci made it very plain in the announcement that he would be joining the White House staff, that he would be reporting directly to the president. Do you remember that? I mean, basically now you're talking about two big guns in the office operating on parallel tracks. Typically you'd have a top down structure, right? Everybody reporting up to the chief of staff. Not so in that announcement by Anthony Scaramucci. That to me was a clear indication that there was certainly a separation. These two men were obviously not going to follow one another.
And when you pointed out, when we saw that Sean Spicer was leaving his post as press secretary, sensibly in protest, maybe not, I mean, I haven't got the full scoop from Sean, personally. But he did tell the White House, listen, you guys can have a fresh start with Sarah and now with Anthony, and obviously he moved on and I think that was a pretty clear indication that in fact Reince Priebus' days may in fact have been numbered. And I should also point this out, too. If you think about where Reince was coming in from the RNC, he's the guy that pushed this campaign all the way over the top. But you may remember it was back in, I think, October of 2016 after the infamous tape came out, apparently Reince Priebus suggested to the president he should hang up his spurs, get out. Walk away. And I don't think he ever forgot -- I know he didn't forget it. I'm not sure if he ever forgave him for that either.
TIMPF: Interesting, though, because Anthony Scaramucci himself obviously wasn't the biggest fan of the president back at the beginning.
CORKE: Great point.
TIMPF: So I just don't know what the standard is here.
CORKE: Yes, great point indeed.
WILLIAMS: Let me ask you this, Kevin. Many people -- and let me say what I've heard. You tell me how it meshes with what you've heard.
That there was a lot of political capital spent by both Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus around really preventing Scaramucci to get in this White House any which way possible. And so certainly, when Trump announced on Monday, President Trump announces that Scaramucci is, in fact, coming in, like you said, in an equal parallel strong leadership position, I mean, clearly spending a very clear message of defeat to Reince Priebus. Maybe that leading to the resignation.
CORKE: Well, and I think that's a good way to look at it, too, especially when you consider this White House has done what it can do to try to advance the president's agenda. But he lacks message discipline, which means they're usually trying to clean up or chase his independent tweets and/or messaging. That never helped Sean Spicer.
So when you have that, the criticism coming from the top; you bring in this new player on the team who has, as you pointed out, a parallel track to the very top, an open direct line, in fact, to the president, I think the writing was clearly on the wall.
I don't think, however, we should read too much into this idea that somehow Reince Priebus didn't do what he could do in his position. He worked very hard for this president. He did succeed. I will never forget election night, the president, in fact, brought Reince over and he said, you know, "You did it." And I think he really had an appreciation for what he was able to accomplish.
But again, as you pointed out, I think it may have been you, Eboni or perhaps someone else among "The Specialists." When the healthcare vote goes down, I think you do start looking for people who may walk the plank. And I'm not saying that that's all it was, but certainly, I think that might be a consideration to keep in mind.
WILLIAMS: OK, but we're going to come back to you in just a little bit. But first, here's President Trump just moments ago making comments on the former -- now former -- White House chief of the staff, Reince Priebus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Reince is a good man. John Kelly will do a fantastic job. General Kelly has been a star, done an incredible job thus far. Respected by everybody. A great, great American. Reince Priebus a good man. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TIMPF: That's a great little clip there.
HEGSETH: I think he -- I think he means it. I mean, if you -- I don't think anyone should have to dance on the grave of Reince Priebus at this point. The guy put in a lot of work for this country and for this candidate and helped get him elected.
And a lot of Republicans didn't -- he helped turn the corner for a lot of Republicans that were not on board with Trump. And he backed him at a lot of important public moments. And but it is, I think, interesting to note that about the only thing that hasn't leaked in this White House so far is his resignation for 24 hours.
WILLIAMS: That's true.
HEGSETH: And now we--
BOLLING: Great point.
HEGSETH: So it could be a little bit a piece of evidence.
WILLIAMS: I see what you did there, Pete, and I like it. I like it.
Let me say this, and I know that Brian brought this up, and then he didn't want to look in your direction, because you're giving him the eye around this.
But one of the criticisms that I often heard from my Democratic friends around President Obama, is that he was, President Obama, not really caring or overly concerning himself with the well-being of the Democratic Party, which is why we saw their governorships, state houses and all that decrease.
I would think that President Trump is very concerned with President Trump's agenda and not overly concerning himself -- and this is not a criticism, by the way, Pete -- not overly concerning himself with the well-being of the GOP.
BOLLING: Not at all.
WILLIAMS: And perhaps that's some of the -- I don't know -- disconnect there.
HEGSETH: I think so. I think so. But his future is -- it's staked to theirs. Imagine if Democrats get a majority in the House in 2018. They're going to impeachment hearings. I mean, this is what he's dealing with, as far as the depth to resist. I'm not saying it will happen, but that's where a lot of them would want to go and where their grass roots would try to lead them. You've got to maintain these majorities to have any chance of getting his agenda done.
HILL: We did talk about how the Democrats are more divided. I give you that. But the Democrats are more divided.
KILMEADE: Bernie Sanders has the bulk of them to the left. Guess what? Senator Schumer's agenda is more to the middle, more of the rational middle. Good luck fighting that out.
HILL: Absolutely. And what we've witnessed in the last few years is the wholesale destruction of the Democratic Party. There's just 17 Democratic governors in this country. There are 33 Republican governors. The Republicans control the House, the Senate, two-thirds of the state legislatures in this country, the White House. The Democratic Party can't even pay its bills. They're in debt.
I mean, it is really remarkable that the media focuses so much on this drama that they create around the White House, and meanwhile, you have a major American political party that is irrelevant in terms of governing in this country. And that's the Democratic Party. It's remarkable.
HEGSETH: They stayed together for health care, though.
TIMPF: Absolutely. There's been drama. It's not the media inventing the drama. We're months into this administration.
KILMEADE: How dare you, Harlan? I'm on your side on this.
HILL: Not you. Not you.
KILMEADE: That's why he has a swivel chair.
WILLIAMS: Yes, exactly. Well, you know, I agree. Obviously, the Dems, I mean, they're very much in disarray. I don't think anybody was impressed by legislation they came out with? A better deal? I mean, even the messaging is like, come on!
KILMEADE: It's horrible.
TIMPF: It's better.
HILL: It's like somebody lobotomized Democratic consultants over there. What they've come up in terms of messaging, even predating Hillary Clinton, has been so bad. They're saying -- they're trying to appeal to everyone. And in the process, they're saying nothing.
KILMEADE: Can I just share with you what Senator Lindsey Graham just tweeted out, sent out? He said, "Reince Priebus has been a great friend. Very long time. Terrific job with the RNC. Devoted Chief of Staff to the president."
But he says, "Secretary Kelly is one of the strongest and most natural leaders I've ever known. As a Marine Corps officer, he installed loyalty, respect and admiration for all who served under him. As homeland security, he's been very effective engaging members of Congress and communicating a coherent message from this president. Secretary Kelly has earned respect and admiration from both sides of the aisle. He does not know politics.
WILLIAMS: Yes, and I think that might be good, and I think that might make this leadership different. Again, this is probably going to be about President Trump's policy agenda instead of just the best interests of the party. As an independent, that makes me happy.
Let me go to you on this, Pete. I was hearing moments ago that next up will be tax reform and that the intention off jump is really to do that without bipartisan buy-in. But do you think with now Secretary Kelly, now going to be chief of staff, it might look different?
HEGSETH: Maybe. But you heard what I think about it earlier. I'm just not buying the fact that Democrats are going to cross this aisle and work with this president, not with how invested they are in their entire narrative being resisting him. They're literally running nothing but anti- Trump, and the grass-roots respond to that.
I think you're going to have to -- if Republicans can't do tax reform, if Republicans can't cut taxes and simplify the tax code, then they stand for literally nothing. I don't know why they don't understand that their political fortunes are tied to this White House, whether they like it or not. This guy wants to cut taxes, wanted to repeal Obamacare, wants to crush ISIS and close the border, deal with the threats in our world.
KILMEADE: That's the Republican agenda.
HEGSETH: These are Republican ideas and a Republican agenda. You've got to have the courage and the willingness to set aside whatever uncomfortability you might have with the disruption of the process, set that aside, do what you said you were going to do, and you're going to get re-elected. If you run from this president, I think it's going to be bad news for Republicans.
TIMPF: All right. Well, Anthony Scaramucci also has his sights set on the Obama holdovers remaining at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: One of the things we're going to do next, we -- is I'm bringing all the communications people to the White House to sit down with them to have a uniform message and strategy so that we can curtail leaks on their side. Now, you and I both know that there are political holdovers from the Obama administration that want to put a hurt on the Trump administration, so we have to sort of move quickly there, as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TIMPF: Well, there certainly are these trust issues in the White House.
WILLIAMS: Little bit.
TIMPF: It seems that they're -- and that does make it hard to do your job if you don't know who you're talking to is leaking things. That would obviously make it more difficult.
KILMEADE: Right. One thing about Scaramucci that came out in Lizza's story, is that he says that, of all the people that have talked to him, he has never said one word bad about President Trump.
And what he also talked about in this sober rant, which seemed as if he was off-key, but he was really passionate, Anthony Scaramucci, because I happened to be with him that night. He actually was calm and direct and saying that "I'll bring out a lie detector test if I have to, because we can't get anywhere without loyalty." And the thing is, if you get one guy, or one women cheating, the message for all the other people leaking is "My job's not worth it. He's for real." That's the message at the border, and it could be the message at -- on the West Wing.
TIMPF: If they do that, I'd love to watch. I'd love that to be a TV show, them all taking lie detector tests.
TIMPF: Great TV, great TV.
WILLIAMS: We hear the word "loyalty" a lot. Right? We've been hearing it since the campaign trail, frankly, and I want to use a different word, Harlan, and that is intentionality. And I think when we go back and we look at the facts, Kevin Corke was absolutely right.
KILMEADE: One more time. What was that word?
WILLIAMS: That's a $5 word, Kilmeade.
KILMEADE: I'm at a loss here. OK.
WILLIAMS: but Kevin Corke's right. It was just as recent as October, that October surprise, the "Access Hollywood" tape. And Priebus and many others said, "You know what, candidate Trump, maybe you don't need to be our nominee." And I don't think he forgot that. And so maybe there's still questions around the intentionality of that type of leadership--
WILLIAMS: -- being close to him. Maybe with less question around that, this president can move in a more forward direction.
HILL: Yes. President Trump's chief of staff was a "never Trumper" in the final days of the campaign. Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, is a "never Trumper." These are people that do not believe in the president's agenda. They think that he's executed a hostile takeover of the Republican Party, and it's not the Republican Party that they want.
WILLIAMS: Do you think they're trying to undermine him? Do you think they're trying to undermine him?
HILL: Absolutely. No question.
KILMEADE: I believe that Paul Ryan is loyal to the president the best he can. When it comes to the personality and the things he does, a Wisconsin guy is much different than an Upper West Side Phillyian.
HEGSETH: They don't relate to each other at all. Remember when Pau Ryan - - they don't hang out, but they do have the same agenda.
KILMEADE: I hope.
HEGSETH: But they have totally different views of looking at the world.
Think about when the House bill failed the first time. Remember when Paul Ryan walked out to the podium and was like, "Aw, shucks, we tried so hard. We did so great. Thanks, guys." I know that's Wisconsin. People don't want that in a commander-in-chief.
WILLIAMS: I know.
HEGSETH: They want someone who's like, "You guys are losers. It's time you passed this bill. You all ran on repeal and replace, and you couldn't even repeal a skinny bill? That's a skinny bill. You said you were going to repeal it. Do it."
That's the way that folks in Minnesota and Wisconsin actually feel about it. We're sick of the Republicans that lose. They're nice, and they do PowerPoints and tax reform white papers and all. That's all crap if you can't get it passed. And he's the kind of guy that will get it across the fence. He--
KILMEADE: Did he get it passed?
HEGSETH: He can if he has Republicans--
KILMEADE: He got it passed!
HEGSETH: -- supporting him.
TIMPF: Paul Ryan.
HEGSETH: I'm talking about in the Senate. Yes, he eventually got it passed. Good on him. But ultimately, it's a disposition difference. It's a Scaramucci-Trump win, fight, don't ever give up or apologize, versus "Oh, man, we tried so hard."
TIMPF: And I also think there's something to be said for the "what the heck is a skinny bill" thing, though? I think that that had something to do with people -- nobody really wanted it to become law. They really didn't. They needed something better than just that.
WILLIAMS: I was going to say, Pete, I think you're making an incredible point, which is there is this difference in temperament and tone and texture. And while that seems like a superficial difference, I don't think it is. I think it is so powerful but different from the way Donald Trump and Scaramucci do business, from the way that Paul Ryan and kind of more an elite Republican type of leadership does business, that it actually undermines what you think is an easy common political agenda.
HEGSETH: No, I think you're absolutely right.
HILL: The president is tenacious. He's not a quitter. And mark my words, this is not the end of healthcare. I believe that he's going to -- now with new leadership in the White House.
WILLIAMS: When does he pick this back up?
HILL: I don't -- I don't know if they're going to stop.
KILMEADE: Trey Gowdy said today, absolutely, we have to go back. And Mark Meadows said today we have to go back.
And by the way, the Freedom Caucus is pretty loyal to the president.
KILMEADE: You may think he was being disloyal. But they -- four of them stood on "FOX and Friends" and said -- yes, I'm plugging my show. On "FOX and Friends" this morning, and they basically said, "We called the president before we came out here today. We're going to try to rescue this. And we would have -- It's too bad John McCain did not believe that we were really going to work on something in conference," which is really surreal. He got a personal call from the president, Paul Ryan, all these people, to say, "We'll work this out in conference." And he said no.
HEGSETH: Absolutely. He gave the country Obamacare. And I don't understand on a guy who's run on a repeal, how you could -- if you've got Ted Cruz, and you've got Mike Lee, and Rand Paul finally for a bill like that, and then you can't be for it? That's not maverick. That's undermining your president and the opportunity to walk back.
HILL: If you vote against that bill, you're voting for Obamacare. It's plain and simple.
WILLIAMS: Well, that's what President Trump said.
HILL: Absolutely. All the cards on the table, you have everything that you need before you to finally fulfill this promise.
KILMEADE: Just for the record, are you yelling at Pete?
HILL: I love Pete. I love Pete. No, he's the best.
KILMEADE: So he should apologize.
HEGSETH: We don't apologize on this show.
HILL: We're cool.
WILLIAMS: We're an unapologetic program here, Kilmeade.
We're now going right back to Kevin Corke, who's still in Washington, D.C., on the ground. Kevin, any more updates that you're hearing in terms of reaction from this really stunning news coming out of the White House?
CORKE: Yes, stunning indeed. I know inside the Beltway, we sort of like the intrigue game. But it's not every day that you have a chief of staff not make it a full year on the job. And that's certainly the case. For those of you just joining us, Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff no more. He has been replaced by Homeland Security Secretary General John Kelly. That news coming out of the White House today.
FOX News can confirm that Priebus himself secretly tendered his resignation sometime yesterday. But it was only announced today by way of Twitter.
By the way, he did travel with the president in his trip to the Empire State of New York today.
Now, we do expect to hear by way of statement from the White House here in just moments. Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling us that she will actually have a statement to pass our way here pretty quickly. And once we get that, I'll certainly share that with you.
In the meantime, we're also hearing from other lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum talking about Reince Priebus. Lindsey Graham, I just want to share this. He said that "Reince Priebus should be very proud of his service, but if the past is any indication of the future, the president and, indeed, the White House are in good hands with General Kelly at the helm." That from Lindsey Graham.
We're also hearing from Finn Gomez, our White House producer here. He says that FOX has learned that General Kelly will, in fact, officially begin his new position here as the chief of staff of the White House on Monday.
I'm bummed. I'm not -- I'm going to be out of the office. I actually want to be here now to see all the excitement.
KILMEADE: If you want, I'll call human resources for you. It's right here in New York.
CORKE: No, no.
KILMEADE: Tell Mike Emanuel--
WILLIAMS: Be careful, Kevin. Be careful what you wish for, Kevin.
CORKE: That's right.
KILMEADE: Let's also update one thing, if I can. Catherine Herridge just kind of straightened me out in saying this. In terms of General Kelly not having experience, is reportedly totally versed in ways of D.C. He was senior military aide to Gates and Panetta at DOD and at one time head of legislative affairs for at least one Marine Corps commandant. Very comfortable both side of the aisle. So I stand corrected.
WILLIAMS: That was going to be my point, Kevin, is that the thing, you know, whether you like or don't like how this whole thing is going, consensus around complete support and delight around General Kelly being in this role.
CORKE: Yes. Let me just add this really quick nugget. Whenever you're dealing with a general staff officer, you know two things for certain. One, they're going to be organized, and two, they will not have a shortage of opinions. Strong opinions. They know what they want to do. I'm sure General Kelly will assess the strengths and weaknesses fairly quickly.
And when he walks in Monday, you're going to see a whole new White House team. I don't mean as in clearing House or sweeping everyone out. But I do think you'll see a new tone, a new tenor, and that's certainly what the White House and, in particular, the president is looking for.
KILMEADE: All right. Thanks, Kev. Appreciate it. We'll check back with you again. We hate to say good-bye for good, because every time we say good-bye, you pop up with some great information. For a few more minutes.
If you don't mind, I'd like to ask you a question. The biggest thing, one of the biggest things facing the administration that nobody is talking about is the war you fought in Afghanistan. And what does that mean, do you think, that General Kelly is now chief of staff? H.R. McMaster, formally in favor of some type of plan there. General Mattis, some type of plan there. The president is very wary about continuing there. With him as chief of staff, does this mean anything?
HEGSETH: Well, I think it means that, on the national security side, we continues to have the best of the best inside the White House. It's going to have renewed attention there.
KILMEADE: What about advice?
HEGSETH: I think he's probably getting the same advice he got when Secretary Kelly was at DHS, as well. You know, he's respected that voice along with others.
I don't anticipate a massive policy change there, precisely because the president doesn't want to get further bogged down, I believe, in Afghanistan. You mentioned deployments as well. It's interesting. He starts on Monday. He's a general. A special skill that generals in the military have is, you do rotations in war zones. You show up, and you're in charge for a year. And you had no previous information before you got there.
He's going to show up in that White House, and he's in charge as the chief of staff. This is a guy who's done that, who knows how to build staffs, how to gather intelligence and information quickly so you can assess a battlefield and make decisions in real time. That's effectively what he's walking into inside that White House. And I think that's a skill set you don't automatically get elsewhere. And it's pretty applicable to politics.
TIMPF: That's how this administration does things, though. You remember Scaramucci was in, and then he was giving a press conference like hours later. You only get a little time to prepare.
WILLIAMS: That's true. I was going to say, you know, one of the things we know, Harlan, that President Trump's White House has struggled with is filling the vacancies with Brian reading from Catherine Herridge, just of the level of leadership that is going to now be in this chief of staff position. Do you think that will be assistive in terms of getting people in this White House effectively in their roles?
HILL: Certainly. I expect it to be a priority. But isn't this the most Trumpian thing that he could have done, to pick a general to go into this role as chief of staff? You know, has it been done before? I can't think of another example.
HEGSETH: I don't know.
HILL: At least in recent memory. So he's really reinventing what this role is within the White House.
And I think that it's going to be less of a political role and more about managing the ship that is the White House and keeping that a really tight operation. I would be shocked if these leaks continue under his leadership.
HEGSETH: And Brian, your question was a brilliant one. I have to compliment you. But my answer--
WILLIAMS: Just like we rehearsed. Good job, Pete.
KILMEADE: He was the first specialist ever to say "I don't know," Kat. Correct? You keep score of that.
WILLIAMS: I do. Right here.
TIMPF: Well, we're going to bring back Kevin. He's got some information from Huckabee Sanders, I understand.
CORKE: Yes, I sure do. I just want to share -- this was off-camera. But I just want to share for the folks at home this from Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaking to reporters in what I'm sure is a very crowded press room right now.
She says, "The president thanks Reince Priebus for his service. They accomplished a lot together." I don't think there's any question about that. She goes on to say, "He was loyal in his service to the president." I think that's a very interesting statement. I'll tell you more about that in just a moment. "The president thanks him and his family."
And there is now a little bit more I can share. I'm getting this from my - - Finn Gomez, my producer. "Kelly," speaking of the general, "has helped seal the border and reduced illegal immigration by 70 percent. He is respected by everyone and especially the people at DHS. The entire administration loves him. He will start Monday morning and will be at the cabinet meeting Monday following his swearing in."
Again, that just moments ago to reporters, off-camera, from Sarah Huckabee Sanders here at the White House.
As I get more, I'll certainly pass it along. But I think it was interesting, what she said that Reince Priebus was loyal to the president. That may or may not be. And maybe I'm reading more into it than I ought, but I don't think so. I think that may be a preemptive strike to sort of tamp down the suggestion that Reince Priebus somehow was a leaker and otherwise was disloyal to this president or this White House team -- guys.
TIMPF: Too late. Everyone was already thinking it.
KILMEADE: Nice try, Kevin.
Can I just say one thing about Reince Priebus? As I mentioned before, I mean, he came in. You know what he was raising money for? To get out of the debt that Michael Steele left the Republicans in. He was a good guy, but he left them in debt. He was asking people for donations to pay off overdraft. And that was so bad. And little by little, they regained it. And we know what happened. Scott Brown was the first victory.
He deserves a lot of credit for his organization.
Then Donald Trump had no ground game. Like most -- Jeb Bush would have had a ground game. Almost everybody else in that stage would have had a ground game. He had to make the RNC the ground game.
KILMEADE: So he deserves a lot of operative credit. Also, when the rifts started with your nemesis, Paul Ryan, he was the one that kept jumping out there, saying, "Listen, he's a good guy. The Billy Bush tape not his best moment. Calm down."
HILL: Good point.
WILLIAMS: Everybody is doing it. Just like we rehearsed.
Good job, team.
HILL: Ultimately, I mean, here's what it comes down to. It was time for a change. There's a season for everything. And Reince was really important for putting together this ground game that you've described.
And yes, as I laid out, the Democratic Party has fallen apart. And under Reince's leadership, the Republican Party has dominated. And so he deserves credit for that. But--
HEGSETH: And Brian, you mentioned Afghanistan. But what -- what General Kelly -- you know, we never know what the next chapter is going to look like. Look at North Korea; look at Iran; look at China.
HEGSETH: Last week. I mean, missile launches and buzzing our ships, all of those things. General Kelly is the chief of staff. You're going to have a guy that understands all these things implicitly and can lead the charge in how we respond to them. Because it can't be "You're on notice." You can't be on notice forever. Something has to change. And action would need to be taken.
KILMEADE: Reporting General Flynn.
HEGSETH: To have somebody like that, you're going to -- in that position, could be very advantageous.
WILLIAMS: And I think that, you know, people -- this is just happening as, of course, we're sitting here. And some narratives are going to come out about this over the weekend, it's just a continuation of a kind of hysteria in the Trump White House and some of it's going to be negative. But I think that's the wrong take-away here. I think there's such a thing as a relationship running its course. When you talk about the good work that Priebus did around the GOP, getting them out of debt, getting ground game, I think that's excellent.
But I think when it came to where that's really truly beneficial for Donald J. Trump's White House agenda, I just think maybe it ran its course.
TIMPF: I think they need a legislative win, though. And I don't know how much it's going to have to do with that.
WILLIAMS: I don't think Priebus could be helpful with that.
KILMEADE: I just feel -- I feel like I know what it's like when Eboni breaks up with me. I feel like that.
Now what you were saying, Kat, this news cycle now is not about healthcare failing. It's about Reince Priebus out. So that helps the president. I'm sure he thought about that a little ahead of time. MS-13 gets a little bit of traction. Good speech in Brentwood. That's kind of interesting. Healthcare failed. Well, now this is the No. 1 story.
TIMPF: Yes. Absolutely. But that doesn't change the fact that when 2018 comes around, they really need a legislative win. And I'm not sure that whoever the chief of staff is is going to really make that much of a difference when you look at how much of a mess Congress is right now.
HILL: Well, no, it is important. Because if the White House is leaking and undermining the president and people are actively working against him--
TIMPF: What does that have to do with them not having a healthcare plan?
HILL: No. It does.
HILL: No, the president has clearly articulated a framework for a bill that he would sign. And--
WILLIAMS: Kat's talking about their inability to deliver that.
HILL: The president -- the president can't go to Capitol Hill and start writing the bill--
TIMPF: Exactly. That's my point, is that the executive branch can't really make that much of a different if Congress is this kind of a mess.
HILL: Well, at least he's not going to be undermining the president.
KILMEADE: One person who was extremely loyal was Mike Pence, who did a lot of great work. But he just fell -- did fall at least one vote short.
Meanwhile, for those who missed it, here's President Trump, moments ago, making comments about his former White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Reince is a good man. John Kelly will do a fantastic job. General Kelly has been a star, done an incredible job thus far, respected by everybody. A great, great American. Reince Priebus, a good man. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KILMEADE: You know, I was able to go to dinner, be invited to dinner on Wednesday night and saw the president. And he -- and he looked like the same as when he was hosting "The Apprentice." It looks like it's going well. You might think this is chaos for us, but there's a reason why I'm not a billionaire. There's a reason why I don't have international properties and able to go to sleep at night and not carry a book or a wallet. Because he's able to -- he's able to run his family, run his business and run the country. He feels pretty good about the way things are going. That's prior to all this.
WILLIAMS: Yes. I was going to say, I'm not been shy around critiquing President Trump on policy and other things that I take issue with. However, this is, I think, one of those things that people did vote for President Trump for. Because people look at Washington and say, you know, that's a place where, if you want to be lazy and rest on your laurels and not be productive and keep your job, go to D.C. That's been the narrative for years. And he's kind of showing that that's going to work, at least not in his administration.
TIMPF: Yes. You could be fired at any time, apparently. And it doesn't matter whether or not someone was fired on Monday. It's not like there's a one-a-week limit. And I mean, of course, resigned. But you know. Probably with some--
HEGSETH: You're right. Most people can't handle that type of environment. You know who can? Military generals who have been in combat. Guys -- real estate moguls in the toughest city in the world.
Everclear is my favorite band. Don't ask me about that. Anyway, there's a song--
TIMPF: The most offensive thing I've heard this entire show.
HEGSETH: There's a song they had recently where the lyric is "I feel safe inside the violence." And I feel like that -- President Trump feels safe inside the chaos. He understands it and knows how to leverage it. When everybody else gets flustered and afraid and they run or they hide or they apologize, he wins. In this case, I think he's bringing somebody else in that can be steady and calm when everyone else thinks it's chaos, when it really isn't. And get things done inside that White House.
TIMPF: That's far more offensive than anything I heard Scaramucci say in New York.
KILMEADE: We got a hint of the president feeling a little bit of restless when he said, "I always said let Obamacare implode. I always said I wanted to do tax reform first." He's saying, "I listened to others, once. I listened to you once. Not again."
KILMEADE: Game on.
TIMPF: I never would understand that. I mean, I know that they wanted the money from it. But if they don't have a plan, then how is it going to work? Of course it wasn't going to work.
WILLIAMS: I think, Harlan, that they started that way not thinking that it was going to work. Couldn't have been. I think they were trying to deliver on this big, huge, splashy campaign promise. Repeal, replace. It has a nice ring to it.
But when it came down to brass tacks and putting together actual legislation that's going to relieve these just inflated premiums and all of the stress that many people agree Obamacare and, really, pre-Obamacare, just a failed healthcare system in general, caused, that just was not feasible.
HILL: Well, our failed speaker of the House told the president that--
WILLIAMS: Who's that again?
HILL: Paul Ryan. He told the president that, in order to get health -- in order to get tax reform done, we have to get healthcare reform done. He predicated that very important landmark piece of legislation on getting healthcare done. And he told the president, "I have the votes. My caucus is one. And I can get this done."
KILMEADE: He did.
WILLIAMS: Well, this--
HILL: After a lot of pain. And it took -- it took quite some time. And the problem is -- and I give Paul Ryan the fact that he was finally able to hammer it through. But the problem now is that Mitch needs to fall on his sword or come up with an alternative. Because if tax reform is truly predicated on getting healthcare reform done, then we've got to get it done now.
WILLIAMS: Pete, let me ask you this. Those failures from Mitch McConnell, which I think is a blatant failure and I think, really, still a shortcoming from Paul Ryan, is that's going to create trust issues between those two and President Trump?
HEGSETH: It could. You know, where the trust should lie is with Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who call themselves Republicans and vote more often with the Democrats. And the chumminess you saw with John McCain, who I -- I've had a lot of good words to say for a long time, because I respect so much of what he's done -- but the chumminess with Democrats is the kind of inside baseball Washington establishment stuff that people reject that they're sick of.
So I don't know what the path is to get to 50 in the Senate. But I do think they probably stay -- they try to do it one more time.
KILMEADE: I think they go -- I think they've got to go at it again. But somebody else has got to be working on healthcare. Keep Mnuchin's door closed on -- not health care, excuse me, tax reform.
WILLIAMS: Tax reform.
KILMEADE: Let him keep working and then introduce something that might be effective. Because that's what Wall Street is waiting on. If that happens, all good stuff breaks loose.
HILL: Well, and this brings me to a really important point. Something that the mainstream media doesn't cover at all or the successes in the six months, the first six months of the president's administration.
I mean, he's cut over $22 billion in regulations in just six months. You know, we have $4 trillion worth of new American wealth created by the stock market. I mean, this president has nominated a Supreme Court justice within the first few months of his -- his administration. He's done a lot.
HEGSETH: The V.A. is another one.
HILL: If he does nothing else but withdraws from TPP, he has saved millions.
HEGSETH: And the Paris Climate Accord.
HILL: The Paris Climate Accord, thank you.
TIMPF: It was all the Republicans that campaigned on repeal and replace. They were the ones that themselves put the focus there. So that's why we're focusing on it now so much.
KILMEADE: Are we going to run any commercials?
KILMEADE: Pay the bills, man.
WILLIAMS: The whole hour.
KILMEADE: Keep the lights on.
WILLIAMS: Oh, my goodness. Well, that is all the time that we have for today. "Kat on the Street" was supposed be today but instead, it's going to be Monday.
Thank you so much, Brian Kilmeade, for filling in for Eric Bolling today.
KILMEADE: It was my pleasure.
WILLIAMS: I want to give a shout-out to Bolling. We said "swamp" at least seven times here today. We're so glad you're out there, helping drain the swamp with, of course, your book store.
Want to thank you all for watching. Thank you to our specialists today, Mr. Harlan Hill and Pete Hegseth.
Make sure to follow us on social media, on both Twitter and Facebook, @SpecialistsFNC at Twitter and Facebook. And remember, 5 o'clock will never be the same. Stay right here with Bret Baier on "Special Report," up next.
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TRUMP: Reince is a good man. John Kelly will do a fantastic job. General Kelly has been a star, done an incredible job thus far.
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