Reince Priebus’ interview with Wolf Blitzer (full transcript and video)

(CNN) Previous White House chief of personnel Reince Priebus was interviewed upon CNN’s “The Situation Room along with Wolf Blitzer” on Friday night time.

HAIR BLITZER, CNN’S LEAD POLITICAL POINT AND HOST OF THE SITUATION SPACE: Joining us now is the i guess former White House key of staff, Reince Priebus.
Reince, thank you so much for joining us.


BLITZER: I am glad you’re joining us in the White House. First of all, I’ve obtained a lot of questions for you. But how is your day doing right now?
PRIEBUS: I’m doing excellent. I just had a good conversation along with General Kelly and the president, and i believe you may know I have been obviously speaking with the president for a few days concerning this and ultimately I formally retired yesterday.
And, you know, the president has been great. He wanted to include me personally in figuring out how and would you be a great successor and a great chief of staff. I think Common Kelly is a brilliant pick. I simply, like I said, talked in order to him, talked to the president. We’re going be working on a transition in charge of a couple of weeks together with General Kelly beginning on Monday morning.
So , this isn’t — this is not like a situation where there is really a bunch of ill will feelings. This really is, I think, good for the president. I believe it’s smart for him to choose General Kelly, and I think that factors are going to be run very well.
BLITZER: You state you resigned yesterday. Tell us exactly why. Why did you make that will important decision to resign?
PRIEBUS: Nicely, it wasn’t — it was something which I have always talked to the chief executive about, which is — and I have got always said to him, and he at all times agreed with me. Any time either one people think that we need to make a change or even move in a different direction, let’s simply talk about it and get it carried out. And, so , I think the leader thought about that and we talked about this yesterday. And I resigned and he approved my resignation.
But this is about the chief executive. It is about moving his plan forward. I think he made a good decision with General Kelly, and i believe he’s going to do a great job. And Now i’m looking forward to the future.
One other thing, I’m always likely to be a Trump fan. I’m upon Team Trump, and I look forward to assisting him achieve his goals great agenda for the American people.
BLITZER: Yet why did you resign? I am still trying to understand. I understand that you simply told the president you wished to resign. He accepted your resignation yesterday.
But why? Were there a series of problems? Was there one thing that emerged up —
PRIEBUS: No, I don’t — listen —
BLITZER: — and you decided, do you know what, I no longer can do this?
PRIEBUS: Simply no, look, I think the president desired to go a different direction. I assistance him in that. And like We said a couple weeks ago, I mentioned the president has a right to alter directions. A president has a directly to hit a reset button.
I think that is a good time to hit the totally reset button. I think he was directly to hit the reset button, and i believe it was something that I think the White-colored House needs. I think it’s healthful. And I support him in it.
BLITZER: Has been he not happy with the direction you had been setting?
PRIEBUS: Well, but , look, After all, I think bringing in fresh face, I believe bringing in fresh people is a good factor. So , look, he has the best politics instincts. He’s — hang on another.
PRIEBUS: He knows, I think, without effort when things need to change. I have seen it now for a yr and a half on this wild ride with the chief executive that I loved being a part of. Yet he intuitively determined that it was time for you to do something differently. And I think he’s correct.
BLITZER: But it’s only been 6 months, not very long. When you say this individual wanted to do things differently, tell us exactly what he said to you, why he or she wants to do things differently and las vegas dui attorney concluded that didn’t include you.
PRIEBUS: Simply no, look, I’m not going to get into that will personal stuff. The president is really a professional, and I’m a professional plus professional people don’t discuss personal conversations in public.
But what I will tell you is president has American — the particular hearts of all Americans at the top of their mind at all times. He wants to perform what’s right for the American individuals. And I think making changes in the White Home is common. But I also think they could be very important.
And I think that this is a good appointment for that White House. And I think the general is going to do a great job.
BLITZER: When was the initial inking that you had that your time since the White House chief of staff members was over?
PRIEBUS: I’m not going to enter into that, Wolf. Look, I have a really close relationship with the president. I’ll continue to have a close relationship with all the president. And out of respect regarding him, you know, I’m not going to enter our own private conversations.
But I just create this — I think change excellent. He wanted to go a different path. I support him in that. And am look forward to working with General Kelly on the next couple weeks.
BLITZER: I know you fulfilled with your staff, your senior staff members earlier this morning before you went plan the president up to Long Isle. Did you tell your staff that you simply were leaving?
PRIEBUS: No . We were carrying out a business meeting in the morning. Everyone offered their reports, and then we were away to Long Island in Ny to talk about MS-13.
BLITZER: What was the influence — the new White House marketing communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, you noticed the interview he granted Thomas Lizza in “The New Yorker” magazine. He called you several awful things, including a weird schizophrenic and he said your times were numbers. He said you had been about to leave.
At one point, he or she said Reince Priebus would step down soon and that he expected Priebus to launch a campaign towards him.
What was your reaction when you noticed that interview?
PRIEBUS: No reaction due to the fact — I’m not going to respond to this. I’m not going to get into the dirt on those sorts of things.
Look, the chief executive and I had an understanding. We’ve discussed this many times. And we ultimately determined that yesterday was a good time and that we would work together. And I think that will General Kelly is a great pick.
So , I’m never going to get into the weeds on that will. I support what the president do. And obviously I think it’s a a valuable thing for the White House.
BLITZER: But precisely why were you opposed to Anthony Scaramucci even getting a job in the Whitened House? You saw how sour — bitter he was, exactly how angry he was at a person in that interview?
PRIEBUS: I’m not — I’m not getting into that, Hair. Look, it’s over. I’m moving forward. Support the president, and I assistance John Kelly and the president’s plan.
Therefore , that’s all you’re going to get from myself on that. I’m not going to enter the individual personal stuff.
BLITZER: He seemed to be very angry at Steve Bannon, the White House chief strategist. I can’t even read the words he or she uttered to Ryan Lizza regarding Steve Bannon. But do you think can stay in the White House along with Scaramucci now the communications movie director?
PRIEBUS: That’s going to be up to John Kelly. Yet I will say that Steve is doing an excellent job. He is a brilliant guy who also only cares about the president’s plan. He thinks about it 24 hours a day. In no way quits.
He’s a great asset to this leader. And, so — and a beloved friend. My hat is away from to Steve Bannon.
BLITZER: Can you simply clear up the other charge? It was an extremely bitter charge that Scaramucci flattened against you, that you are a leaker and that you’re really not that will loyal to the president. You’ve got your personal agenda. He made some sour accusations against you, specifically the particular leaking.
Are you the leaker in the White-colored House?
PRIEBUS: That’s ridiculous, Wolf. Occur. Give me a break. I’m not going to enter his acquisitions —
BLITZER: Why not? Why not react to him?
PRIEBUS: Because I’m not going to since it doesn’t honor the president. I’ll honor the president every day. I’ll honor his agenda and I’ll honor our country, and Now i am not going to get into all of this personal things. So —
BLITZER: Is there a leaking issue in the White House based on exactly what you’ve seen?
PRIEBUS: Yes, I think that will General Kelly should see if can get to the bottom of it and amount it out. But obviously un-named sources are something that’s been difficult and I wish him well plus I’m going to try to help him. Yet obviously that’s going to be on his dish and I hope he can get to the underside of it.
BLITZER: Because Scaramucci is recommending the FBI should get involved in that will investigation. Do you agree with him upon that?
PRIEBUS: I’m not going to respond to that will. Look, this is about the president, Hair. I have answered your questions. I assistance his decision to hire John Kelly, and I’m looking forward to the future.
BLITZER: What exactly is — what is your future? I want to reach that, but I also want to get your particular advice for John Kelly, who may be the incoming White House main of staff.
PRIEBUS: Well, look, Our god is good and everything works to great in the end. I believe that. I’m not really worried about that. I care about my partner and my kids. That’s what I worry about most. And that’s what I live just for.
And so i live for God, my family, my children, and I know everything is going to be great.
So that as far as John Kelly, he will be great. Keeping things structured, keeping everyone in their lane, managing — controlling flow of information out and in of the Oval Office, those are challenges to a chief of personnel. And I think he’s going to do a wonderful work.
BLITZER: I know you must be very let down. You really wanted to see repeal plus replace of Obamacare.
BLITZER: You might be going out now without having succeed in that will. We all saw what happened overnight. Just how disappointing is that to you?
PRIEBUS: Well, it really is disappointing, but I don’t think it could over yet, Wolf. So , I am hopeful that the Republicans can still get together before reconciliation is over and I desire them well to do it and Soon we will be a part of trying to help make that take place if I can. And again, I will always be on the team.
BLITZER: What about the particular criticism that the president has flattened against the attorney general of the United States, Shaun sessions? How uncomfortable did which make you?
PRIEBUS: Look, you know, Jeff is a good guy. But the president is unhappy, and I’m not going to get into that certain either.
So , I’m only here to inform you that it’s been a great opportunity to be chief of staff. We support the president in selecting John Kelly and I wish your pet well and I wish everyone on the western part of the country Wing all of God’s blessings.
BLITZER: Elaborate your proudest accomplishment over these previous six months as the White House main of staff?
PRIEBUS: I think getting everybody together. I think that moving this particular West Wing I think in the correct direction. I think obviously, accomplishing all the executive orders, the TPP, the particular V. A. accomplishments, the things that the particular president talks about all the time. The most expenses in six months, the executive purchases, the agenda of this president. It could something that I think everyone can be happy with.
BLITZER: What’s your biggest disappointment?
PRIEBUS: Properly, look, I mean, I wish healthcare would have passed, but I don’t believe it’s over yet, Wolf. I believe we could still get there.
BLITZER: Well, speak a little bit about that. How do you get there? Since you don’t have the votes. It’s 52-48 majority, the Republicans have within the Senate. Clearly not enough.
PRIEBUS: Well, they have perhaps — they have to keep working, Hair. I mean, they have to roll up their masturbator sleeves and keep working. They have to come up with an additional amendment. I think that Lindsey Graham has got an amendment. I think they need to work on Lisa Murkowski and see whenever we can get her on the right part of the health care debate.
I don’t think this really is over. I think they can get this accomplished and obviously coming together as being a party is something that I think we have had too much difficulty doing plus having a governing majority is some thing that’s been problematic. You can have a majority, in case you don’t have a governing majority, weight loss get things done.
BLITZER: Why not work together with the Democrats and come up with a affected work with some moderate Democrats, function to try to fix, improve the problems from the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare and never necessarily completely repeal it?
PRIEBUS: Appear, I don’t think the Democrats wish to work with us on anything.
BLITZER: It is said they want to work with you.
PRIEBUS: They spend — right, and you look at the delays from the cabinet appointments, you look at all the delays of the nominations, they’re discussing our cabinet secretaries for thirty hours and then voting for them 90-10. This is not a party — and regrettably, Senator Schumer hasn’t been the type of chief to want to compromise on the simplest things.
And thus, I think the idea that somehow Democrats are likely to just come together and give us a couple of votes on something here or even there I think it’s fantasy.
Now, it doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s important to test. So , I’ll give you that. However obviously — obviously, the Conservatives have to try harder.
BLITZER: I want to end up being very fair to you, Reince. Both you and I have known each other for a long time. I simply want to be clear for our viewers. Do the president formally ask you to step down?
PRIEBUS: No . I resigned and he approved it.
BLITZER: And that conversation was simply like that? He didn’t try to speak you out of it?
PRIEBUS: We talked about this. You know, we — you’re complicated something. We talk all the time relating to this subject. Anytime — anytime we would like to go a different direction, either one people, we talk about it.
So , look, this individual deserves credit for all of these achievements that he’s had over the last 6 months. I don’t think anyone realizes just how much he’s gotten done. I assistance him in making sure that the United states people see and realize the job that he’s done.
I think we could do better within making sure that people realize that and see this. He deserves it. He’s already been a great president and I look forward to ongoing to help him.
BLITZER: I just want to be accurate to you. You spoke often using the president about possibly resigning?
PRIEBUS: Number We just talk about the fact that each of us — both of us need to be happy with where we’re at and obviously wanted to make a change and am offered my resignation and he decided and we moved on. He accepted this.
BLITZER: And that was that. And did a person recommend John Kelly or do he throw out that name for you?
PRIEBUS: No . We talked about a few each person together, and he thought John Kelly would be the number one pick. I thought it had been a fantastic choice. I look forward to working with your pet.
BLITZER: So what about next for you? I recall there was some speculation you might turn out to be ambassador to Greece or some thing along those lines. Any consideration of that? Any kind of thought of that
PRIEBUS: No . That’s not likely to happen. I think I’m going to take a small vacation, spend some time with my wife plus kids and enjoy the future and continue being supportive.
BLITZER: Last question to you once we go forward. And you have been very, quite kind and you’re very ample in spending some time with this 1st interview. Was there one preferred moment that you want to look back upon on these last six months which will always stay with you and be reflecting of your time as the White House key of staff?
PRIEBUS: Well, look, you understand, quite frankly, the first day we walked into the West Wing on business and walked into the Oval Office and signed the first executive order and walking in that door and just sensation the majesty of the Oval Workplace and seeing the president sit down at his desk and indication that document, it’s a feeling that will first feeling, that first uncooked feeling that you get that’s so particular.
It was the privilege. It was an honor. And am look forward to continuing to help.
BLITZER: Reince Priebus, the now former White Home — soon to be former White-colored House chief of staff. Thank you so much for joining us. You aren’t always welcome to join us within THE SITUATION ROOM.
PRIEBUS: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thanks a lot, Reince Priebus. Appreciate it very much.