"Is the focus on his staff keeping President Trump from making policy?" PBS NewsHour 2/13/2017
SUMMARY: In recent weeks, several members of President Trump's administration have come under scrutiny for potentially not measuring up in their new roles. Judy Woodruff sits down with NPR's Tamara Keith and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report to discuss the latest on Michael Flynn, if the President likes keeping his staff on edge and whether the focus on personnel is obstructing policy progress.
JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour): Just over three weeks into the Trump administration, and, as you heard earlier, reports aren't going away of disarray inside the White House.
For more, we turn to our Politics Monday team, Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.
Thank you both for being here.
So, Tam and Amy, we did talk earlier about what is happening to General Flynn, the President himself weighing in.
So, Tam, you were at the White House this afternoon. What is the latest on that?
TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Yes.
So I was at the White House waiting to hopefully talk to Sean Spicer, the press secretary, when the President walked by an area where there were about a dozen, maybe 10 reporters waiting to see Spicer. The President shows up. And reporters asked the President, do you have confidence in General Flynn? What is General Flynn's status?
And he said, “Oh, there's a statement coming.”
Then someone else shouted, how about Reince Priebus, the chief of staff? Do you have confidence in Reince Priebus?
And he says (President): “Reince is doing great. Reince is doing great.”
So there is a real contrast there between saying, oh, there is a statement coming, a statement that says that the President is evaluating the situation, and saying that the chief of staff is doing great.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A contrast between what he says about General Flynn and what he says about Reince Priebus.
TAMARA KEITH: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But also, Amy, a contrast about what they are saying just an hour after Kellyanne Conway, the President's counselor, said that the President had full confidence in General Flynn.
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Although, Judy, you know this. That is a classic line that folks in Washington use, like they use the, he's taking time off to spend time with his family.
So, they use — they throw that line out there. It's really not very definitive. But, look, the issue with Flynn is as much about the frustration within the White House about the fact that he made at least two very high-ranking members of that administration, the vice President and the chief of staff, look like they lied.
They gave information out on television that wasn't truthful. And it came directly from Michael Flynn. That seems like the bigger question here than whether or not we can talk about a specific law being broken about the fact that he talked to the Russians before he was officially in his position.