June 20, 2010 — -- JAKE TAPPER, HOST: Hello, and happy Father's Day. Joining me this morning, the president's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.
Mr. Emanuel, happy Father's Day.
RAHN EMANUEL, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: Before we start the questions, I'm interested in your reactions to photographs from Saturday's BP CEO Tony Hayward at a yacht race off the Isle of Wight in the clean waters off southern England. What goes through your mind when you see those pictures?
EMANUEL: Well, to quote Tony Hayward, he has got his life back, he would say. And I think we can all conclude that Tony Hayward is not going to have a second career in PR consulting. This has just been part of a long line of PR gaffes and mistakes.
But beyond that photo is really the substance here that matters. That's clearly a PR mistake and he has made a number of those mistakes. What's important is, are we capping the well? Are we capturing the oil? Are we containing the clean-up? Are we filing the claims? Are we also cleaning up the mess? That's what's important.
Now this is a mistake and it's a big mistake, like others he has done in the sense when he said himself, he has got his life back. Well, that's what's more important is, do the people down there in that area have their life back? Do they have their livelihood back?
So this is just another PR mistake in a long line of PR mistakes. What I think you've got to really measure is, what are we doing to deal with this problem? What is BP being forced to do to deal with this problem, both contain the well, even getting the $20 billion for the escrow account.
That's the measure here. This will be fodder, as you would obviously ask this question. People will chew over this. But don't take your eye off the major priorities and the key goals, that is dealing with the problem down in the well, and dealing with the problems of the region as it makes as important the people getting the resources they need to restore their lives and restoring that coastline to it environmental purity that it had at one point.
TAPPER: Well, let's talk about that. Are you satisfied with what BP has done so far in terms of capping the well?
EMANUEL: Well, as you know, there is a test here. OK? BP originally was going to do one relief well. We forced them to do a second relief well. They weren't going to do that. BP originally had a plan on capturing a certain amount of oil. We forced that, as you know, today's reports, they're up to 25,000. By the end of June, we forced them by making them do different things to get up to 50,000 barrels a day.
And by mid-July we think we'll be -- and be able to get them to a point capturing 90 percent of that.
TAPPER: And those relief well...
EMANUEL: And originally...
TAPPER: ... by August, do you think they're going to be working?
EMANUEL: And by -- wait a second, and also, Jake, is they originally weren't thinking about $20 billion. And they originally weren't thinking about an escrow account and forcing them to do that. There are certain things that they had to be pushed -- not certain things, like a lot of things that they had to be pushed to do. And pushed to do faster, more of.
And so when you asked me, do we think the wells will work? Their original plan was only one. We forced them to take a step and have a redundancy in the system, which is what you're also seeing in the capturing of the oil that's spewing right now.
They had a system in place, not extensive enough. Not fast enough. So we've made them go from 25,000 to 50,000 barrels by the end of this month. And we think by mid-July force -- basically making them pick up their game. They can get to 90 percent.
TAPPER: I've been down to the Gulf three times since the crisis. The president has been down there four times. One of the big complaints I hear that I'm sure the president has heard as well is the government bureaucracy and red tape stand in the way of a quicker response.
Here's a phone interview with Alabama Governor Bob Riley.
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GOV. BOB RILEY (R), ALABAMA: If this is truly a war, then we need to begin to treat it like that. As long as you're having decisions made by committees, it's very difficult to do.
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TAPPER: Are you concerned at all that bureaucracies and red tape are standing in the way of the governors and the Coast Guard being able to stop the environment damage as soon as possible?
EMANUEL: First of all, this is, as you know, and everybody knows by now, the worst environmental disaster in recent memory. Second, it's being met by the largest response ever organized by the United States government.
There are over 6,000 ships in that area, over 25,000 workers dealing with containment and capture and clean-up. And there's also 17,000 National Guard on-call for any governor that needs them and wants them at any time that they need.
Now there is -- as president said in the Oval Address Tuesday night, there is -- given the size and the magnitude of what we're dealing with, there are going to be problems, there are going to be bottlenecks. We want to know about them immediately, and respond to them immediately. So when you're organizing something like this, there are going to be mess-ups. There is no doubt about it.
There are going to be -- because it's changing it all the time because given weather patterns, et cetera. You're going to have move and be flexible. What's happening in Louisiana is not the same thing that's happening in Florida. And you're going to have design a different response.
This has never been done before, basically. And are there going to be mess-ups? Like every other massive major operation, yes. Are you going to be flexible enough to -- smart enough to be able to be responsive and also realize when something is not working to change it and find what is? That is also being done.
TAPPER: During BP hearings this week, you were give what Democrats see as a political gift by Texas Congressman Joe Barton, the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Here he is.
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REP. JOE BARTON (R-TX), RANKING MEMBER, ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE: I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporate can be subjected to what I would characterize as a "shakedown." In this case a $20 billion shakedown
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