Former Pence spokesman: Russia probe 'not coming up in the day-to-day operations' at the White House

The Powerhouse Roundtable debates this week in politics.
10:06 | 11/05/17

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Transcript for Former Pence spokesman: Russia probe 'not coming up in the day-to-day operations' at the White House
We have great hopes that it wraps up. It is very distracting to the president, as it would be to any citizen to be investigated for something while at the same time, trying to carry the weight of what being president of the United States means. General Kelly after the indictments came out on Monday. Let talk about wit "The roundtable." Julie pace. Sara Fagen, Republican strategist and CNBC critter. Marc lotter, former press secretary for vice president Mike pence. And Charles, I want to start with you. Amazing. No regrets. No backing down. At all from Donna Brazile. He says her critics can go to hell. Okay, so full disclosure. I know Donna. Known her for a long time. I saw her this summer. She let me read the first page. I knew it was going to be disruptive. She felt like her story had not been told fully. I think everybody has the right to do it. It's a political memoir. That said, it's horrible for the democratic party because it confirms a lot of what people who were cleaving apart from the party believed already. That it's -- that it -- that it's -- didn't function well. That there was some -- weirdness. About treatment of Bernie Sanders. And if cow talk to young liberals now, there's incredible energy. They're there's a lot of direct member okay si kind of work. People showing up to rallies. They're almost completely separate from the democratic party apparatus. You do see a real division. Two days ahead of a big election in the state of Virginia for governor. Absolutely. You think Donald Trump's challenges in his favorability depressed northern is a have a population of moderate Republicans? But Ed Gillespie is tied. In Virginia, there's a good chance he'll win. That would be a huge blow to the Democrats. It would. Absolutely. Democrats haven't had a lot to cheer about this year. They look at is a have a. They see a state they look at as less of a swing state and more of a blue state. To lose a gubernatorial race at this point. All the party stars, Barack Obama has been down there. To lose this would be a huge blow. It would underscore that this year for Democrats has been a wasted year in terms of figuring out the direction that the party goes in after the shocking loss that they had in 2016. President trump treated this like it was the best gift he got all week. One of the surprising things was when the Hillary Clinton team signed the letter for Donna Brazile. It's like a child with a blang kooe that everything they do revolves around Russia. Not taking a critical look at the party apparatus. Julie, they want to talk about Russia. The week began with the big news. From Robert Mueller. You cover the white house. Washington. Every day. The white house was braced for the manafort indictments. They didn't see this P papadopoulos thing coming. It was a total surprise to the white house that this was someone who would face charges. Two, if you talk about Mueller sending a message, the recall message is through papadopoulos. He's going to go from the bottom on of the campaign to the top and he'll take lying to his prosecutor as a criminal offense. Multiple people in the trump administration, who left in the first couple of months and who are currently there. One of them Sam Clovis. If you go through the indictments and the plea agreements. He's the campaign staffer who said it was okay in an e-mail for. A dop on on loss to go the Russia. The day after this comes out, he pulls back from his nomination for the agriculture department. That's right. There will be consequences across the board here because of this. To me, there's no -- evidence yet that there's any collusion. No evidence yet that the president or anybody in the current white house had conducted thechlss in any way improper. But, this does get to a wider judgment question. Particularly in the early days of the campaign formation. That too many of his staffers had no idea that engages in this behavior was wrong and inappropriate. And Marc lotter, one of the things it shows, we have heard president trump, his entire team, no contact with Russia at all during the campaign. I mean, these indictments and the papadopoulos plea agreement show that is not even close to true. You're seeing a young guy trying to build a portfolio for himself. Whether it was dealing with getting dirt or trying to build a relationship with, from a foreign policy standpoint. That's what we were king at. Where we stand right now is that the only proof where we have of actually a campaign organization working in collusion with the Russians is on the Clinton side and through the hiring of fusion gps and getting into the Russian dossier. How can you say that? They hired a British agent who interviewed Russians? Up with of the things we have seen, Charles blow is papadopoulos talking to a Russian about gaining dirt on Hillary Clinton? Sharing it with higher ups in the Clinton campaign? Pop D papadopoulos being encouraged to go to Russia. That's the thing. You have the buy into the concept that there was an epidemic of amnesia. Even forgot all of the contacts they were having with the Russians. Came out, saying no contacts whatsoever. Everybody said no contacts whatsoever. Now what we're finding is that one after another, these were all lice. Maybe they all forgot. If you believe that, as a journalist. Been in journalism for 25 years. I can't believe that. There's to way that happens. There may not be collusion or criminal criminality. Collusion is not a legal term. It's not. But we're using it. It appears this is not going to be the last perjury charge we see out of this investigation. How worried are the people inside the white house? They're worried. You have staffers who are having to pay high-priced lawyers right now, who are having to go in, talk to Mueller's prosecutors. And, talk to folks who worked in the Clinton administration when they were facing similar situations, part of the problem is that people don't know who to trust right now. They know that day after day, they're colleagues sitting in meetings with are going the to talk about what they know. I lived through this in the bush white house. That's the challenge. Once everybody lawyers up. No one is allowed to speak to anyone else about what conversation I that is may or may not be having with whom. It has a dampening effect. In most white house, this happens late. We're nine months in. Not only do you not know what you're colleagues are saying. You don't know what the prosecutors a have. That is one of the biggest lessons we take away there Robert Mueller this week. In revealing what George papadopoulos has, he shows he ha has a lot more information than any of us knew. If you just tell the truth, it doesn't matter. Right? That's fair. My mother always said, you tell the truth, you don't have to remember what you said. Tell the truth. Unless the truth is damning. Well, that's the problem. If you're having sympathy for somebody because they have to hire lawyer, it's because they are getting caught up in something. If you're telling the truth, that should not matter. I was in the white house earlier in week talking to the communications team. H is very focusing. They're focused on the the president's trip to air Asia. On tax reform. This has the opportunity of making sure you are focused on the things you -- You think they compartmentalized the Russia questions outside the day-to-day operations? It's not coming up in the day-to-day operations. It was focused on tax reform. The president's trip to Asia. That's not entirely true. The staffers may be trying to compartmentalize. The person at the top of the organization, he was spending hours in the residence on Monday morning when he could have been focused on the Asia trip, tax reform, he was focused on the investigation. Let's talk taxes. Sara, you heard the two congressmen. Senator James Lankford saying he can't vote for a tax increase that increases the deficit, increases the the debt. This is bill on track to pass by Christmas or more trouble than that? I think it will be tough to get it passed by Christmas. I think it will ultimately pass. This is a one in a generation opportunity for Republicans. There's an undering across the board that, that if Republicans blow this opportunity, it's going to be an ugly November 2018. And, most importantly, though, you know, I have worked around politics in the advocacy community for 20 years. I have never seen Washington as organized. In terms of people moving in one direction. There are some groups, group that are opposed to this. The business community, the broader conservative movement is coming together in way I have not seen in decades. We don't have more time. Thank you all very much. That's all for us today. Check out "World news" tonight.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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