All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 2/23/2016
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: February 23, 2016
Guest: Rick Wilson, Philip Rucker. Cliff Sloan; Rosie Gray, Javier
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN –
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re going to build a wall and
who`s going to pay for that wall in.
HAYES: Culture wars heat up in Nevada as we get preliminary reports of
massive turnout for Republicans.
TRUMP: Dishonesty can knock out a poll very quickly. That`s the only way
HAYES: Tonight, Donald Trump goes for three in a row. We`ll go live to
Then, Republicans sign their names on the plot to stop Obama`s Supreme
Court pick. The unprecedented letter signed by Republican senators, and
why this move has presidential politics written all over it.
And the president`s pitch to close Gitmo.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t want to pass this
problem on to the next president.
HAYES: Setting up another 2016 fight.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don`t shut down Gitmo,
expand it and let`s have some new terrorists there.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
HAYES: Good evening from Las Vegas. I`m Chris Hayes.
At this very hour, doors are opening at caucus sites across the state of
Nevada for the fourth contest in the GOP primary battle. We`ll be bringing
you live coverage of the caucuses throughout the evening and in this hour.
Donald Trump has now had two victories back to back. He is, it appears, a
clear favorite tonight. Recent poll showing him up to a 26-point lead over
his next challenger.
Now, polling the Republican caucus in Nevada is notoriously difficult. A
CNN poll just one week before the 2008 Nevada caucus gave Rudy Giuliani the
lead. The Real Clear Politics Average of Nevada in 2008 gave Romney the
lead. The actual results, Romney won with 51 percent, twice as much
support as predicted by the polling average, and Giuliani, predicted to win
in that CNN poll picked up just 4.3 percent.
As for Trump`s challengers, Marco Rubio left Nevada, holding rallies today
in Minnesota and Michigan, trying to lay the ground work for Super Tuesday
and beyond. And perhaps that is an indication of how he views his chances
tonight in this state. There are some predicting a possible surprise.
Obama (INAUDIBLE) Dan Pfeiffer tweets, “It`s very possible Rubio wins
Nevada. Trump has no political organization in a low turnout contest and a
state without a long caucus tradition.”
NBC political analyst and Nevada veteran reporter Jon Ralston has cited
signs of a high turnout.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON RALSTON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Could there be an upset? Yes. But
I think it`s much more likely to be an upset if the turnout is really low
than if the turnout is higher. The higher the turnout gets, I think the
worst for Cruz and Rubio.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Last night, Donald Trump held a big election eve rally here in Las
Vegas. There were multiple protesters escorted out as usual for a Trump
rally. Here is how Trump reacted to one of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Bye, bye. Good job, fella. Bye, bye.
See, he`s smiling. See, he`s having a good time.
I love the old days, you know? You know what I hate, there`s a guy totally
disruptive, throwing punches. We`re not allowed to punch back anymore.
I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when
they were in place like this, they`d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.
The guards are very gentle with him. He`s walking out with big high fives,
smiling, laughing. I`d like to punch him in the face, I`ll tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The camera redirected to that protesters and captured a portion of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Into China. No matter what he does, he can. They send their
product of – bye bye. Good job, fella.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: As you can plainly see, there`s no evidence the protester was
throwing punches as claimed by Trump.
Joining me now, NBC News correspondent Katy Tur.
Katy, you`ve been in a lot of these rallies and I think it`s people who are
not Trump supporters find most unnerving about the Trump dynamic with the
crowd, particularly the sort of call and response, and particularly what
happens with protesters.
KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: He really riles up the crowds and it can
feel different watching it from a monitor or watching it on television than
it feels in the room sometimes. There is an entertaining atmosphere, a
jokey atmosphere. A lot of times, if you see what he says written in
print, it seems a lot harsher than it played in that room.
But certainly, the call to violence, the talking about violence at a lot of
his events lately, or over the past few months, is a lot more concerning
than some of the name-calling or the joking. I mean, I believe this is the
first time in modern presidential politics that we`ve had a candidate talk
about wanting to throw a punch at a protester, somebody who disagreed with
him. A candidate who said he could murder somebody and his supporters
would still be supporting him. That was clearly in some amount of jest,
but at the same time, it`s unnerving what the suggestion is behind that.
He joked about killing journalists. He talked about shooting somebody on
Fifth Avenue. There`s a lot of violent rhetoric in his rallies.
HAYES: There`s also a moment that happens in almost every rally as far as
I can tell that I watched, and the one that I was at where he has everyone
turn and essentially jeer the press. And sort of gets that, it`s a very
kind of element we`ve seen it throughout history in different context,
getting the crowd to do their three-minute hate at you.
TUR: The press is the ultimate GOP scapegoat, even on the Democratic side
TUR: If something is not going your way, calling out the press and blaming
them for it, it`s easy to turn it around and making it so that you`re not
getting the full brunt of your failure. And so, what he does – and not to
say that he`s failing in what he`s doing – but what he does is he uses the
press to his advantage. He knows what can get him on television.
He also knows that these crowds, that these Republican-leaning crowds,
these conservative crowds, do not like the media. They don`t – I mean,
he`s turning them on FOX News as well. So, they`ll turn everybody around,
they will jeer at the press, they will swear at you and now, you know,
raise the bird and other things.
HAYES: All right. Katy Tur, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Joining me now from caucus side of the Palo Verde High School here in Las
Vegas and MSNBC, is MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff.
And, Jacob, give me a quick run down of the process. It`s not like the
very complicated Democratic process you and I were covering on Saturday.
It`s a bit more straightforward, at least in the beginning, is that right?
JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: That`s right.
I`ll walk you inside to show you that, Chris. We`re talking about how turn
out has been historically low for the last two cycles for the Republican
caucus process here. But as you can see from this long line, it`s anything
but. And it looks like it`s anything but right now.
This is the largest caucus location in Clark County, which is where the Las
Vegas area is in Nevada. All these people are coming in right now, and
instead of dividing into preference groups, like they did at the Democratic
caucus – come with me – they`re going to divide into their precincts, and
that`s what those all different tables are, and go at actually fill out
ballot, just like a regular election.
The big challenge here tonight is going to be in the counting of those
votes and having them reported and tabulated in time. These people are
already into the process as well.
What`s going to happen is they need to actually take a photograph of a
tally card and then send that back to a central party location. That`s
where they`re going to finally be counted. Four years ago, it took two or
three days to actually count those results. We`re hoping that`s going to
get done tonight.
HAYES: All right. Jacob Soboroff, live at a caucus site where again, we
are getting initial reports at from registering of quite a bit of turnout.
We will be checking back with you later on.
Joining me now MSNBC host and political correspondent, Steve Kornacki.
And, Steve, as we head into tonight, the fourth contest, give us a look at
the score. By the score, I mean the actual score, right? Because there`s
all this expectation setting. There`s all this talk about momentum.
There`s all this talk about cash on hand.
Ultimately, it`s going to come down to delegates. There`s an actual score
that we know right now of what those delegates are.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST AND POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, I
think we can put this up. Right now, Donald Trump has jumped out to a big
lead. She`s got 67 delegates on the Republican side. Next closest is Ted
Cruz with 11.
The reason that`s so lopsided, South Carolina just voted, 50 delegates up
for grabs in South Carolina. He won every congressional district.
Therefore, Donald Trump won every delegate in South Carolina. So, he`s got
a big lead now.
But we`re getting to the point in this race where the momentum you talk
about starts to match up with the delegates because next week, we have
Super Tuesday. You`re going to have basically a dozen states voting next
week on the Republican side. You`ve got a boatload of delegates at stake.
If you take a lot of momentum in those states, you can walk out with a
massive lead in the delegate race.
HAYES: We`re going to have about, you know, you got 600 delegates up for
grabs on March 1st. I mean, keep in mind, the magic number, if I`m not
mistaken, is 1,237. Is that right?
HAYES: So, they got to get to 1,237. You know, everyone is a long way
from that. He`s in the lead with 60 plus. But even a 50-delegate lead is
actually a pretty big lead when you`re talking about most of the states
doing representation, right? Winning a 50-0 win in one state when you`re
going to be competing in state after state even if you`re winning or
losing, that already gives you a significant lead.
KORNACKI: Well, here`s the thing for Trump, and the reason why it`s
especially true for Trump is next week on Super Tuesday, we`re not at the
winner take all phase of this yet. They do it by congressional district.
So, if you`re scoring in congressional districts, even if you`re not
winning you could be picking up delegates across each state.
Trump`s support is broad, we`re seeing. He`s winning moderates. He`s
winning rural evangelical Christians. We haven`t seen candidates who can
win both of those groups simultaneously.
So, that means Trump is going to be very competitive in Massachusetts next
week, of Vermont next week. He`s also going to be very competitive in an
Alabama or a Georgia. So, it`s not like he`s going to get a bunch of
delegates from one state and get shut out in other big states. He`s going
to be collecting delegates across the board.
HAYES: And in a state like tonight, in Nevada, where right now, he`s
looking at going in what appears to be a large polling lead, big blowouts
can transfer into this sort of sizable legs up in delegates even when the
raw number of delegates at stake in this state aren`t that many.
KORNACKI: Right. South Carolina is just the ultimate example. Some of
those districts were very close. He was beating Cruz and Rubio by a point,
two points. He wins all from that district. And again, nobody thought.
That was a lesson Saturday night because the Rubio and Cruz were saying we
were going to get delegates and they both got zero.
HAYES: All right. I want to bring to the conversation, “BuzzFeed
Politics” reporter, Rosie Gray, who`s been on the trail covering the
There`s all this like crazy fecklessness It`s like the old cartoon in
Tammany Hall where like who stole the people`s money. It`s like who`s job
is it to bring out Trump and it`s like not us. Not us. That appears to be
still the case as the guy is poised on his third victory out of four,
possibly, you know, winning 10 states on Super Tuesday.
ROSIE GRAY, BUZZFEED POLITICS: Right. I mean, I think the whole time with
Trump there`s been this denial among other factions of the party, oh, this
can`t be happening. Oh, somebody will stop him.
But nobody has stopped him and nobody is really making moves towards doing
so. So, nobody is really changing his momentum.
HAYES: And no one still, as far as I can tell, is really up in the air in
a big way with negative ad buys against Trump. The only place where we saw
concerted air ad buys against Trump, as far as I can tell, was in those
last days of Iowa, which were pretty effective.
GRAY: You`re right. That`s something not happened on a large scale. I
mean, I think it`s possible we can say. I mean, look, like Right to Rise
still has that money in the bank, like may be they should do something with
it. Maybe they could.
There`s all kinds of things that could happen to those big donors who have
not gotten involved yet. So, we could see something happen, but at this
point, it`s possible that they`re kind of holding their fire for March 1st.
HAYES: The Trump skeptics make this selling argument all the time, right?
So, their argument about Trump is high floor, low ceiling. You`re nodding
your head –
KORNACKI: I hate this argument, but yes, I hear it.
HAYES: So, that`s the argument they make. It`s a third of the party are
against him and two-thirds are against him, and that`s the path to victory
that Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz can carve out thinking get it down to just the
two of them. John Kasich doesn`t appear to be going anywhere. Ben Carson
doesn`t appear to be going anywhere. Do you buy that?
KORNACKI: Here`s why I don`t – it`s in our own polling, our NBC
News/”Wall Street Journal” polling. We`ve been asking the question since
the start –
HAYES: Who`s your number two?
KORNACKI: No, we`ve been asking, could you – not “do you” – could you
support this candidate as the Republican presidential candidate? Donald
Trump when he first got in the race, that number was 23 percent. I bought
the argument when he first got in the race that most of the party was
against him. After a year of being exposed to Donald Trump, that number is
well into the 60s now.
So, that tells me he starts putting a few wins on the board, he`s going to
have no problem moving that support up substantially.
HAYES: I don`t do this often like look into the camera but let me put it
on the record. But let me tell something to put on the record. All these
people in “The National Review”, all these people who are like, oh, I will
never concede conservatism to Donald Trump, if he`s the nominee, we will be
singing his praises on October. I guarantee you. Please preserve this
tape because that is absolutely going to happen.
Don`t you think so?
GRAY: I don`t know if I agree with that. I mean, I just think that at
this point, it will be such a tough wall to climb down for a lot of these
people who have come out and said, no, absolutely, I would never vote for
him. I would sit it out, et cetera.
HAYES: The partisan motivated reasoning is one of the most powerful
psychological factors in human life.
GRAY: Right, if you think that if this scenario does come to pass, he is
the nominee. I do think you`ll see some people doing that. I just think
that, you know, if you`re actually a principled conservative, how could you
possibly actually support Donald Trump as the nominee? It`s just too much
of a stretch I think.
HAYES: There`s a graph today that sort of showed how high his negatives
are. These are the argument people make. And it`s an argument they make,
I think it`s a little divided, about how far he can go in the primary and
how far if he could if he`s ultimately the nominee.
I mean, when you see him shouting at protesters, the build the wall thing,
it`s like, that`s playing well in the room and that`s playing well among a
certain portion of the Republican base. But, you know, he`s got high
negatives for a reason once you get into the general population.
KORNACKI: Except – yes. But here`s the thing I would look at with Trump.
We all said when he got in, he has no chance of ever winning the Republican
nomination. He understood clearly now, better than any of us understood,
what it took to win the Republican nomination and he went out or – he`s on
track right now at least to do that. He went out and he did it.
We`ve also seen if that means completely disavowing things he said a year
ago, five years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, he`s willing to do it.
So, I`m not sure Donald Trump, if he wins the Republican nomination,
doesn`t turnaround and understand how to pivot to the general election.
HAYES: That`s possible. But there`s another way to understand it, right?
Which is that, it was just, the idiosyncrasies of a certain kind of person,
with a certain kind of personality, meeting a certain moment, like, he`s
the virus and we`re all the host, right? So, we were all just sitting
around as host and the virus entered into this little microbial world where
it was perfect for it to flourish, right?
The question is, does that continue after the primary or do the primaries
create a certain set of circumstances he can`t transcend?
GRAY: I mean, I think like he will have to sort of shift on a few things
in the general election.
HAYES: Of course, he`ll shift because he doesn`t care.
GRAY: And there`s never been a consequence for him when he does walk back
a position or shift a position. So, I think he`ll be pretty seamlessly
able to move to the center or otherwise sort of climb down from positions
that he`s held previously.
HAYES: One of the big lessons so far is just the comparative advantage
conferred on people who have no shame, in certain kinds of theoretical
situation which is what this primary has been so far.
Steve Kornacki, Rosie Gray, thank you both.
HAYES: All right. Still to come, we`ll have continuing coverage of Nevada
caucus happening now.
Plus, the GOP`s mass deportation strategy. What the steady marks the right
on the immigration means to the Republican Party.
And President Obama`s final year is marked with big battles in Congress.
Why Mitch McConnell`s obstruction may have a lot to do with Marco Rubio.
Those stories and more, ahead.
HAYES: At his rally in Sparks, Nevada, today, Donald Trump suggested his
supporters will remain loyal no matter what.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Even the really dishonest press says Trump`s people are the most
incredible. I mean, I had already – 68 percent would not leave under any
circumstances. I think that means murder. I think it means anything, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Trump appears to have been references a poll from December that
found that 68 percent of his supporters would support for him even if he
bolts the GOP. And today was not the first time Trump boasted he could
kill someone and remain at the top of the polls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They say I have the most loyal people. I could stand in the middle
of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn`t lose any voters, OK?
It`s like incredible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Trump`s not wrong about his supporters. A recent academic survey
of voters in South Carolina shows what the biggest single predictor of
people voting for him were called authoritarian inclinations. And Trump`s
strong man routine was on full display last night. What it might just kill
his party`s chances to win in November and for a long time to come, when we
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We`re going to build that wall. Don`t worry about it. We`re going
to build that wall. We`re going to build the wall and who`s going to pay
for that wall? Who?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: In his rally here in Las Vegas last night, Donald Trump was
introduced by notorious Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who in
2013 was found guilty of racial profiling of Latinos.
Then, when Trump took the stage, the enthusiastic crowd burst into a
spontaneous chant of “build that wall”, illustrating the degree to which
Trump`s maximalist stance on immigration is a core component of his appeal.
Trump has said he would institute a deportation force to go door to door
and round up the roughly 12 million people living in the U.S. without
documentation, a stance that even Ted Cruz has cast as too extreme.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: No, I don`t intend to send jackboots to knock on your door and every
door in America. That`s not how we enforce the law for any crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was in January. But, last night, Cruz suggested he would
deploy those jackboots.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: Mr. Trump would look for them to get them out.
Would you do that if you were president?
CRUZ: Look, Bill, of course you would. That`s what ICE exists for. We
have law enforcement that looks for people who are violating the laws that
apprehends them and deports them.
O`REILLY: And you, President Cruz, are going to send the feds to his
house, take him out and put him on a plane back to Ireland?
CRUZ: You better believe it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Here in Nevada, the state Republican Party knows that how
politically toxic that kind of proposal is. The state leads the nation
with the highest rate of people living in the country illegally, according
to Pew Hispanic Center. And it`s population overall is 28 percent Latino.
So, it is perhaps not surprising the state`s very popular governor, Brian
Sandoval, supports comprehensive immigration reform. In 2013, the Nevada
Republican Party endorsed a path to citizenship for immigrants living here
Yet even as Republicans here in Nevada moderate their immigration rhetoric
in an effort to make inroads among Latino voters, they are watching the
lending contenders, the GOP presidential nomination pull their party in the
opposite direction, riling the base by endorsing what would amount to
essentially the largest, most expensive, and surely brutal forced migration
in recent American history.
Joining me now, Javier Palomarez. He`s president and CEO of the U.S.
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Palomarez, your thoughts as you watch that chanting happening in that
rally, “Build the wall, build the wall, who`s going to pay for it?
JAVIER PALOMAREZ, U.S. HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: You know, Chris, I
think it plays well inside that room. But the remainder of America
understands very clearly that there is no feasible way to mask, remove and
deport some 12 million people living in this country right now. That
simply isn`t feasible.
And I think it`s irresponsible of Donald Trump to get that down the line.
The bill to the average American would be astronomical. It simply wouldn`t
make sense. It`s just not doable.
HAYES: So, then, if it`s not doable, then why do you see Ted Cruz, a
United States senator, who said in January that that was not the way we
enforce the law for anyone to send jackboots, apparently now having a road
to Damascus moment and now embracing that position?
PALOMAREZ: You know, I think we`re going to see in this particular season
is historic highs and lows. We`re going to see historic highs in terms of
Hispanic voter turnout and we`re going to see historic lows in terms of
campaign tactics and people saying and doing whatever it takes to get to
the proverbial next level.
But the reality of it is, I think any reasonable individual would
understand, and I think the bulk of the Republican Party understands that
that simply will not happen.
HAYES: Marco Rubio said he wouldn`t send out a deportation force although
Rubio has been, I have to say, rather difficult to pin down in any
direction on immigration policy. He obviously co-sponsored the gang of
eight bill. He fought for it. He talked about it, he then abandoned it.
It`s unclear what he would do if he was president.
Do you feel like you know what Marco Rubio`s immigration policy actually
PALOMAREZ: You know, I think that Marco has yet room to clarify his
position. Obviously, we all know his role in the “gang of eight” bill. It
made sense at the time. I think Marco has evolved.
You know we`ve got a situation where he would have to work with the
Congress that is not interested in moving that bill. So, what you`re
seeing, I think, in Marco is an evolving, maturing candidate. I`m very
intrigued and encouraged by the fact that in Marco, you`re seeing hope yet
for the Republican Party. Just last week, he was endorsed by Governor
Nikki Haley. You saw a wide array of individuals now signing up in support
of Marco in the absence of Jeb Bush.
He`s becoming the candidate for the Republican Party that will do battle
against Donald Trump, a divisive approach versus one that`s much more much
inclusive, and I think can illustrate there`s hope yet for American`s
Republican Party to illustrate a closer view, a more accurate view of the
changing face of America.
HAYES: I`m not quite sold on the inclusiveness because I don`t know what
the policy is, but you seem confident, I suppose it couldn`t be worst than
people chanting to build a wall.
Javier Palomarez, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.
PALOMAREZ: Yes, absolutely. Thanks so much, Chris. Have a great night.
HAYES: Still ahead, President Obama with a new push to close the American
prison in Guantanamo Bay as the Republican campaign to restart and expand
the torture of the recent past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: For many years it`s been clear that the detention facility at
Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security, it undermines it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: President Barack Obama inviting another election year showdown with
Republicans by trying to make good on a campaign that has long been
Today, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, defense secretary Ash Carter,
the president presented a plan to congress to close the detention facility
in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The prison was first opened in January, 2002 by the Bush administration to
house detainees, some never charged with a crime, many who had literally
nothing to do with terrorism but were simply in the wrong place at the
For years, interrogators used interrogation techniques, including torture
to force those detainees to talk.
By 2008, the presidential nominees in both parties were in agreement on
closing the facility. After her left office, George W. Bush wrote in his
memoir, “While I believe opening Guantanamo after 9/11 was necessary, the
detention facility had become a propaganda tool for our enemies and a
distraction for our allies.”
In one of his first acts as president, Barack Obama issued an executive
order instructing the government to shut down the facility in a year.
But Republicans in congress balked at the appropriating funds, and
Seven years later, Guantanamo is still open. Its so-called legal process
absolute shambles. As The Atlantic points out, current law prohibits the
government funds to transfer prisoners to American soil and the
construction of facilities to house them.
And the Republican controlled congress has shown no interest in relenting
on that matter.
It`s an issue not lost on the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I am very clear-eyed about the hurdles to finally closing
Guantanamo. The politics of this are tough. I don`t want to pass this
problem on to the next
president, whoever it is. And, if, as a nation we don`t deal with this
now, when will we deal with it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: If the Republicans on the campaign trail have their way, not any
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: Not only are we not going to close
Guantanamo, when I`m president, if we capture a terrorist alive, they`re
not getting a court hearing in Manhattan. They`re going to sent to Nevada,
they`re going to Guantanamo and we`re going to find out everything they
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: You know, just today President Obama announced
his plans to try to try to shut down Guantanamo terrorist detention
facilities. Let me set this, Mr. President, don`t shut down GITMO, expand
it, and let`s have some new terrorists there.
DONALD TRUMP, 2016 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This morning I
watched President Obama talking about GITMO, right, Guantanamo Bay, which
by the way we are keeping open. We are keeping open.
And we`re going to load it up with some bad dudes, believe me. We`re going
to load it up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Republican front-runner not only wants to keep Guantanamo open, for
months he`s campaigned on what amounts to a pro-torture, pro-war crimes
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families.
They care about their lives, don`t kid yourself. But they say they don`t,
you have the take out their family.
In the Middle East, we have people chopping the heads off Christians. We
have people chopping the heads off many other people. I would bring back
water boarding and I`d bring back a hell of a lot worse than water
Earlier in the century, last century, General Pershing, did you ever hear,
rough guy, rough guy, he took 50 bullets and he dipped them in pigs blood
and had his men load his rifles and he lined up the 50 people and they shot
49 of those people and the 50th person he said you go back to your people
and you tell them
what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn`t a problem. Okay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: We should note that last story from Trump of General John Pershing
executing dozens of Muslim prisoners in the Philippines and allegedly
dipping bullets in pig`s blood has been roundly debunked as a myth.
Next, for the last seven years, one of the toughest jobs in Washington has
been the person in charge of closing Guantanamo. And I`m going to talk to
someone who had that job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Keeping this facility open is contrary to our values. It
undermines our standing in the world. It is viewed as a stain on the our
broader record of upholding the highest standards of rule of law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: President Obama making one last appeal to congress to close the
detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba earlier today.
Joining me now, Cliff Sloan, the former special envoy for Guantanamo closer
at the U.S. State Department.
Cliff, I saw you when you had that job. And I joked that it was like the
drummer in Spinal Tap. It was like the worst job in Washington was the
dude who was supposed to close Guantanamo.
Why is it so hard?
CLIFF SLOAN, FRM. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR GUANTANAMO CLOSURE: Well, it`s hard
for a number of reasons. First, you`ve had congress pass completely
irrational and unnecessary restriction that have tended to tie the
president`s hands and you also have had the fact that the issue erupted
politically. There are tremendous misunderstandings about it. And the
issue got seriously off course.
But that doesn`t change the fact it`s extremely important to close
Guantanamo. It poses real national security problems as the president was
HAYES: There are – just to be clear about the population there. There`s
a whole bunch of people, I think about 35 people there who are sitting
there who, we, the United States government, have no claim they have done
anything wrong. They have been cleared for transfer. They are just
sitting there. They`ve been sitting there sometimes 12, 13 years in what
is an endless hell, frankly, for a person who has just been picked up off
the street by a bounty hunter.
There`s a bunch of people who are going through a legal process and then
there`s the people in this sort of legal limbo. Why is it so hard to get
the 35 out of there?
SLOAN: Well, Chris, you put your finger on something very important with
those 35. Many of them have been approved for transfer for more than six
years. They`ve been at Guantanamo for 14 years. It is absolutely urgent
that they be transferred as soon as possible.
Now, it`s not quite right that the U.S. government has said they did
nothing wrong, but the U.S. government has emphatically said that it`s in
the national interest to transfer them, and that they should be transferred
to other countries.
Now, a big problem is that a very significant number of these are from
countries like Yemen. There`s a big majority from Yemen where the security
conditions don`t allow returning them to Yemen. And so you have to find
other countries. That can be done, but that has been a serious problem.
But it is absolutely the case that we need to move forward with urgency on
HAYES: Just to be clear. I mean, you hear Marco Rubio talking about we`re
not going to be trying terrorists in Manhattan courts. I mean, obviously
we have done that as a matter of course, Tsarnaev was tried in a federal
court in Boston. No big deal. He goes to a Boston detention facility.
Are we now looking at indefinite detention whether in Guantanamo or
somewhere else as a permanent feature of American law?
SLOAN: No, I don`t think so. You have got 91 people left at Guantanamo.
You`ve got 35 who are approved for transfer who should be transferred as
soon as possible. You have got ten that are facing proceedings in the
military commissions which have had problems but those are formal
Now, these other 46 are going through an administrative process right now
which needs to be expedited but 18 of the 21 who have gone through that
process have been approved for transfer.
So, the goal here is to get the number down absolutely as low as possible.
Those ten maybe a small number of additional ones.
But one thing that is very important in the president`s policy is that even
those who are not approved for transfer now are getting reviewed every six
months and as I said, many of those are now getting approved for transfer.
HAYES: All right, Cliff Sloan, great thanks for your time tonight.
SLOAN: Thank you.
HAYES: Still to come, Republican caucus goers are currently casting their
votes around Nevada. We will take you live inside one of those locations,
HAYES: We learned today that one of the top guys in the Koch brothers
political empire, Marco Short, is leaving the organization to join Marco
Rubio`s presidential campaign. Well, he`ll be a senior adviser effectively
The Kochs have yet to spend any money on the Republican primary. And
although there were rumblings as recently as a few weeks ago they were
possibly gearing up to do it, it now looks unlikely, according to new
reporting published just about an hour ago by Politico.
The network helmed by billionaires Charles and David Koch had said
seriously debated launching an aggressive assault on Trump but sources
familiar with the network`s planning tell Politico that`s now highly
According to Politico, Republican donors don`t think their money can stop
Trumpentum, and are worried if they spend it, it might backfire.
So, it actually makes a lot of sense. Marco Short has left Koch`s freedom
partners, taking up with Rubio as NBC News reported earlier today.
Signs indicate the Koch`s prefer Marco Rubio and are doing things short of
directly spending money to help him.
Up next, the fight for second place and why Marco Rubio isn`t here in
Nevada tonight. Stay with us.
HAYES: All right, folks are caucusing right now in Nevada. And for an
update on tonight`s Republican contest here in the state where 30 delegates
are at stake, let`s go do MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff who is live at
a caucus site at Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas.
And Jacob, this caucus is a bit infamous for some crazy logistical snafus
that have happened in the past. I`ve been seeing reports on Twitter
throughout the evening that it`s kind of chaotic logistically. What are
you seeing firsthand?
JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC: Chris, kind of would be an understatement. If
you`re in the camp that you thought that the Republican caucus in Nevada
was organized, in my humble opinion, you would be very wrong.
Come with me. So, what`s going – these are essentially ballot booths,
right, because people are voting right now. But – and I don`t want to get
too close. And I want to show you exactly people`s preferential ballots.
But they`re all voting with each other at the same table. These are
precincts. They are ballot boxes, but they`re all sitting around tables
This is a precinct. That`s a precinct. I don`t know if you guys have our
bird`s eye view camera, but we`re under this giant American flag where
people are just in clusters of people moving together. I`m walking through
people here. Some people are in line. Some people are voting.
And don`t forget, this is not – certainly not an official function of the
government, the secretary of state and Nevada. This is a function of the
state Republican Party of Nevada who is putting this together and doing
this entire process.
Have you caucused yet?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I have.
SOBOROFF: How do you feel, organized?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel organized. And I feel like we are going to
SOBOROFF: Wwho is we?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My people here.
SOBOROFF: And who are you caucusing for?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump all the way.
SOBOROFF: Donald Trump all the way.
There you go.
All right, so Chris, Trump all the way. She feels organized. I don`t feel
as organized, but somehow this is going to get done here.
HAYES: Jacob Soboroff, live in that caucus location.
Now, we should note that the Republican parties had some problems
controlling their own process in the past, right. So, people are voting
and after they vote there`s going to be some kind of like independent
delegate meetings that might elect some people.
But the thing that we`re going to count tonight are those ballots?
SOBOROFF: Come with me, I`m going to show you exactly what`s going to
So, all these are going to be collected by the precinct chairs. So, each
table has a precinct chair.
Not right now, I`m on the air.
The precinct chair.
Everybody wants to talk.
And they are going to up to here, Chris. And they`re going to take what
are called tally cards and they`re going to take photos of these tally
cards at this location, send them back to a central location where they are
all going to be tabulated by the Republican Party. And then ideally the
Republican Party says released tonight.
But again I want to reiterate, four years ago it took somewhere between two
and three days to make this all happen.
HAYES: Two or three days. 21st Century democracy in America.
MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff, thank you very much.
All right. When we come back, the presidential politicking behind today`s
announcement, unprecedented by the Senate Republicans in the judiciary
committee to block and not even hold any hearings, not even consider, not
even meet with the Supreme Court nominee from the president of the United
States. That`s next.
HAYES: As we`ve been discussing it`s Republican caucus day here in Nevada.
But Senator Marco Rubio spent most of his time today campaigning in
Minnesota and Michigan. It appears Rubio`s campaign is looking ahead to
states where he might actually be able to pull off a win on Super Tuesday
and beyond. And with Jeb Bush out of the race, Rubio is also trying to
solidify the backing of Republican voters who are fed up with Donald
Which is why, according to Politico, the Republican establishment, so-
called, has a message for John Kasich, get out of the race and get out of
Marco Rubio`s way.
But the Republican so-called establishment came together today to do
something that only Ted Cruz, perceived as the most conservative member of
the Senate, would have done a few years ago, which is to engage in maximum
The Senate Republican judiciary committee members announced today they are
unanimously against an Obama nominated Supreme Court replacement to Antonin
Scalia. They even released a letter addressed to senate majority leader
Mitch McConnell outlying their plan for obstruction.
Quote, given the particular circumstances under which this vacancy arises,
we wish to inform you of your intention to exercise our constitutional
authority to withhold consent on any nominee to the Supreme Court submitted
by this president to fill Justice Scalia`s vacancy.
It`s signed by all 11 Republican members of the judiciary committee and
that includes presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz.
Joining me now, Rick Wilson, Republican media consultant who supports Marco
Rubio; and Philip Rucker, national political correspondent of The
And Rick, let me start with you. I have a theory on this, and there`s a
bunch of reasons that I think the Republicans are doing this. I think they
don`t want the ball to get rolling at all because it will be harder when
there`s actually a nominee. I think they are trying to anchor the
negotiating position. I think they don`t want to confirm an Obama justice.
But I also think part of this is about maintaining a relationship with the
base that doesn`t trust them, thinks they will be betrayed and think
they`ll get sold out that if there`s any inkling of any sellout that could
destroy the chances of Marco Rubio actually winning this nomination,
because the last thing he could endure would be one more perceived betrayal
by the establishment.
RICK WILSON, INTREPID MEDIA: Well, look, you have got a situation here
where Senator McConnell and Senator Cornyn came out today laid down a
marker that they`re not going to back off from. And although a lot of
folks believe there`s a second layer of politics here, the first layer is
the actual truth. They don`t want to confirm an Obama nominee. They don`t
want to confirm somebody that will be a permanent fifth liberal vote on the
Supreme Court that will haunt them for 30-plus years.
There`s a side benefit to it sending a signal that the overton window has
moved to the right in the Senate and in situation like this, they
understand the stakes in the national election. They understand they have
to stay committed to this and I mean, look, Senator McConnell`s messaging
today was straight gangster on this thing. The guy was not fooling around.
He laid down the marker. He`s not going to budge.
And you know Mitch McConnell, you know, a lot of poeple don`t like Mitch
McConnell in the conservative side of the movement, but the fact is the guy
is a wiley brilliant operator in the Senate when he wants to be. And he`s
going to hold the line on this.
HAYES: You know, Philip, here`s the thing. And I don`t know if he will or
won`t, but we should note here that this is – there`s been a lot of back
and forth of accusations of hypocrisy on process, which everyone in
Washington is hypocritical on process. This action taken today is
unprecedented. We`ve never had the judiciary committee saying we will not
consider a nominee.
They also said a number of people interviewed said we won`t even meet with
the person. So, at a certain point you`re going to have the optics of this
person walking through the halls of congress.
PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST: With the door shut.
HAYES: I mean, literally with the doors shut of trying to meet with Jon
Cornyn or trying to meet Mitch McConnell. It is going to be – this is not
the end of this.
RUCKER: Well, if you`re Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, this is exactly
what you want. I mean, it`s just going to help mobilize the Democratic
base in general election especially if Obama puts forward some sort of
historic nominee whether it`s Loretta Lynch who would be the first African-
American woman on the court, or some other diverse pick.
The Democrats in the election can basically say the Republicans are
obstructing progress. And I think it will be interesting to see how that
HAYES: And I think it puts the core on the front burner for both sides I
think to the extent that there isn`t a confirmation.
Although, I`m still – I think possibly there is – but Rick, here`s my
question to you. And I`m glad you said what you said, because I think
there`s been a lot of talking around the actual issue. I mean, the issue
is conservatives don`t want a fifth liberal justice on the court.
But that would pertain after the election. I mean, my question is,
shouldn`t McConnell just say this is in perpetuity? Why is there anymore
legitimacy? Why was there any more reason to budge or cave after an
election in the fall. It`s still the same problem. If Hillary Clinton or
Bernie Sanders were to win, conservatives sill looking at the same bad
If the outcome is the problem, shouldn`t they hold the line even after the
WILSON: Well, look, I believe that the danger of an Obama nominee is
particularly high, because he has nothing political to moderate his
behavior at any point. He has nothing to lose by trying to put in – you
mentioned Loretta Lynch. I think they would almost welcome that fight,
because she`s so obviously and lavishly corrupt in obstructing the
investigation of Hillary Clinton at every turn. They would welcome that
HAYES: She won two-thirds of the nomination battle.
WILSON: Yeah, she`s also now spent the last year and a half serving as the
roadblock to investigating Hillary Clinton`s private email server that was
basically an open door to foreign intelligence services. So, she would
have a very rough ride no matter how you play it.
But an Obama nominee, in particular, is something right now that is
intolerable to the Republican majority in the senate. And right now is a
Republican majority in the Senate. And they`re exercising their
HAYES: Would that not pertain to a Hillary Clinton nominee? I mean, why -
- I just don`t see the limiting principle.
WILSON: If Hillary Clinton is elected…
HAYES: If the point is that controlling that majority is really important
from the first order political commitments that you and other conservatives
share, then they should just keep that thing as long there is a Democratic
president, they should make sure that nominee is not evaluated and is not
WILSON: Well, look, I think that because there`s no political break on
Barack Obama`s ambitions for who he would put on the court right now, and
there is no downside for him to appoint the most liberal possible person,
he doesn`t have to look at how he deals with the senate going forward.
If it`s Hillary Clinton, she is going to have to deal with a Republican
majority in the House and Senate. And that`s going to be a very difficult
equation for her if she tries to put somebody out there that is completely
She might have been – she might be able to negotiate somebody who is more
tempered than the type of people that Barack Obama would inevitably put
But, look, I think you`re going to find there`s going to be a lot of Senate
resistance no matter who the president is to anybody that is going to be a
lock step, hard core liberal reflexive justice on this court.
HAYES: Yeah. I mean, the point here is we have a one way ratchet, right.
And the obstruction that we have seen accelerate whether numerically in the
filibuster or whether with this unprecedented action today, there`s no way
to think that that is going to be unwound.
RUCKER: I don`t think so. And what`s so exciting is it`s a clarifying
moment in the presidential campaign. I mean, the voters are going to make
a choice this year and you`re going to go one way on the court or the other
way on the court. And the choice could not be clear.
HAYES: Not exciting for 4-4 decisions and possible consequence of that.
Rick Wilson, Philip Rucker, thanks for your time tonight.
That is All In for this evening. Stay tuned to MSNBC all night tonight for
continuing coverage of those Nevada Republican caucuses happening all
around us here in the city of Las Vegas. The Rachel Maddow Show starts
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