All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 1/3/2017
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: January 3, 2017
Guest: Eric Lipton, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Dean Baker, Jamie Harrison,
Harry Hurt, Larry Cohen
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. Republicans back down from
their first vote in the new congress.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is this the most important thing for congress to
be focused on right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It isn`t. That`s the whole thing, it`s not.
MELBER: Tonight, the emergency meeting republicans held to reverse their
plan to curb ethics oversight.
Then, 17 days from inauguration, why the President-elect is attacking one
American carmaker and applauding another.
Plus, Washington`s top democrat draws a line in the sand
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: With all due respect, America
cannot afford a Twitter presidency.
MELBER: And the Trump biographer kicked off Donald Trump`s golf course by
the President-elect – joins me live tonight. ALL IN starts now.
MELBER: Good evening from New York. I`m Ari Melber in for Chris Hayes.
Our top story tonight involves some good news in Washington or at least the
defeat of potential bad news.
There are still 17 days until Donald Trump becomes president but November`s
election kicked off today on Capitol Hill and the consequences with the
115th Congress, they have the ceremony swearing in members, pictures with
family, it`s supposed to be a time of symbolism and pageantry, a layup for
the new party to welcome everyone into town before any big fights or hard
decisions have to really begin. But it got difficult right away for
republican leaders. That`s because House Republicans held a conference
vote last night to dilute ethics investigations into members of congress.
Their plan was to quickly pass that diluted rule today. But they weren`t
Here`s some of the highlights of what happened, which may offer a roadmap
of opposition for the Trump era. House Republicans held their closed-door
meeting last night, stripping the ethics office of its independence. The
plan was watering down the investigative powers set up in 2006 after
several ethics scandals landed three members of congress in jail. The new
rule would end anonymous tips which are obviously a key protection when
congress is basically investigating itself and people worry about payback
and it would also end public reports which were supposed to offer some
transparency even when no greater punishment against a member was ordered.
Last night`s vote was taken without advanced warning, it was over the
objections of some republican leaders and while it was a federal holiday
and many people may have taken a break from the news yesterday, if so, I
congratulate you, the New York Times was not on a break. Investigative
reporter Eric Lipton filed a big story on this quote, “With no warning,
House Republicans vote to gut independent ethics office.” Word spread
quickly outrage pouring in from all sides. Now this morning, Paul Ryan was
still trying to justify that planned vote against criticism. He cited his
member`s belief that “The Office of Congressional Ethics is in need of
reform to protect due process.”
Meanwhile, Trump aide, Kellyanne Conway, was on four different morning
shows today and she said republicans did have a mandate for exactly this
kind of change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP ADVISOR: The republicans have been given the
majority in the house and the senate, all the governor – most of the
governorships, they`ve won over 1,000 state legislative seats under
President Obama`s watch. So, there`s a mandate there for them to make
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So this morning, a casual observer might think this looked like
any other story in this new era. Sure the New York Times can expose a
problematic approach to ethics, people can complain, sure, but republicans
have the votes, right? They could do what they want. Or can they? Anti-
corruption groups criticized this move vehemently from the left, right, and
center, including conservative group judicial watch and according to some
observers, angry phone calls were pouring in this morning to congressional
Now we checked on this and there is data that matches this. Take a look at
the Google search trends today. The number of searches for who is my
congressman, a first spike last night after the New York Times story broke
and a second this morning right around the time people might be watching
the news on TV or reading it online. And that was around the time someone
else was reading news.
President-elect Donald Trump weighing in, tweeting, quote, “With all the
congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the
Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act
in priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of
far greater importance. #DTS”, which is, is his really cool way of saying
“drain the swamp”. Now, Trump brought attention to this dispute which
certainly made the republicans` lives harder.
We`ll also note, though he was supporting their argument for narrowing the
office`s powers, because he was saying it was still unfair, that`s why they
wanted to change it. So, he`s not objecting to the substance of curbing
the ethics board, they`re just to the timing or you might say even the
branding. But anyway, House Republicans ultimately backed down from this
plan to hamstring the Office of Congressional Ethics. That`s a win for
people who want independent ethics oversight for this congress, which may
not be everyone, but I feel like it`s probably close to everyone in the
country who`s not a member of congress.
And politically, some republicans are now mad that they did choose to make
this their opening argument. Take a look, one republican house member
saying anonymously, “A circular firing squad – our first day here and
we`re passing around the handgun.”
Put aside the politics though, and this lightning fast story shows that
investigative reporting does still matter. Then not every issue boils down
to if the republicans have the vote, some issues may boil down to whether
some of these votes are too embarrassing or too brazen to even be taken in
Joining me now, New York Times Investigative Reporter, Eric Lipton, who
broke the story on that vote as it shaped up last night. Good evening to
you. I will ask you and start a process question. When you filed that
last night, would you have said you`d expected it to be reversed by
ERIC LIPTON, NEW YORK TIMES INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Not at all. I did not
expect it there to be that kind of a turnaround and the extent of outrage
was surprising and pretty extraordinary, the mobilization of phone calls
and I do have to say that, I mean, I reported this before it was probably
announced but there were quite a number of other reporters that were
working on it and publishing on it yesterday as well, so I don`t want to –
there were - there were quite a number of reporters who worked on the
federal holiday to, you know, make sure that the public knew about this.
MELBER: Hey, man, I work on television where there`s one person in front
of the camera and then hundreds more, all working throughout the building,
so, I know what you mean, appreciate your nod, the fact that, yes, many
investigative reports are on this. Having said that, it does look like the
New York Times` piece did sparked incredible reaction. What do you make of
what that tells us about where the lines are in this era? Obviously, last
night, republican leaders thought they could get away with this.
LIPTON: I think that there`s a lot of sensitivity in the public right now.
There`s an energized, you know, concern about what`s going on in Washington
and potential conflicts of interest be it with the White House or with
congress. Among, you know, even among democrats and you saw mobilization
by the left, the right, you know, and groups of all kinds, more than a
dozen of them wrote in, they complaining to the house speaker and the
minority leader. And there are thousands of phone calls, phone lines were
flooded and house members offices with people calling to complain, and I
think that it really – they were, like, why would we take up this issue
that`s going to distract the public and distract us when, you know, there`s
so many other important issues and they caved.
MELBER: Is there an irony, if we want to call it that, the that the “drain
the swamp” language has now done one finite real thing, right, to keep up
some ethics oversight in the house, while the originator of that language,
Donald Trump appears to continue completely unabated with a host of
LIPTON: It certainly, you know, put the House Republicans in the spot and
it was easy for Trump to say because the Office of Congressional Ethics has
no jurisdiction at all over the White House, so he could do anything he
wants to prop up an agency that can`t investigate him and it costs him
nothing and it only put the republican house members in an embarrassing
spot. So, it was – it was a quite a maneuver for him to sort of, you
know, push this in their faces and I`m a little surprised that he chose to
do this as one of his opening acts to, with the republicans that he needs
to work with in congress.
MELBER: Eric Lipton, one of the many investigative reporters on the case,
thanks for your time tonight.
LIPTON: Thank you.
MELBER: I`m joined now by Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher of
The Nation Magazine and MSNBC Contributor, Sam Seder, Host of the Majority
Report. Picking up on that Katrina, what do you take from this incident?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, THE NATION EDITOR AND PUBLISHER: Well, I take that
quality investigative reporting still matters. It can, in this politicized
moment, lead to a transpartisan campaign of mobilization which shamed this
moronic – mind-bendingly moronic republican caucus from taking action that
we`ve got transparency in ethics. I also take that I don`t think the media
should reflexively credit Donald Trump and his tweets with creating action.
It took thousands of people, thousands of calls and organizing and
resistance to move forward on this. And I think, you know, as Eric said,
Donald Trump continues to sell the presidency, not his business as he
should, and I think we need to keep a laser like focus on his own conflicts
of interest, which he doesn`t seem to feel any shame about.
MELBER: Well, to your point, I don`t want to be unfair to the legislative
knowledge in a Donald Trump tweet, but he seemed to not even understand
that the reason this was coming up now is because the parliamentary
procedure sets the rules once the beginning of the two-year term.
SAM SEDER, THE MAJORITY REPORT HOST AND MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Right.
The conference has to vote on it, it gets into this sort of omnibus setting
of the rules. I mean, look, you know, I think Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy
knew this was a bad idea. And they didn`t want it.
MELBER: Because they were against it to begin with.
SEDER: They were against it in the beginning, because this is – this is
really – this is sort of bunting and catching. I mean, this is basic
stuff. You don`t start your new congress by saying “We`re going to get rid
of the ethics or its essentials.”
MELBER: Sounds bad.
SEDER: I don`t, you know, look, I would like to think that this is an
indication and a roadmap for the future, but this is – this is a process
issue that, literally, I think this type of overreach is almost impossible
to imagine again, except for some very major issues. So, you know, it`s
good that they didn`t get away with this. I think Donald Trump is getting
too much credit for actually understanding what was going on in some ways.
Maybe he wants to be the only – wants to have the monopoly on all the lack
of ethics in Washington, but the real game is starting after this and that
is when they start to pass legislation that has a political salience and
does not resonate with the – even the right wing in the way this did.
HEUVEL: Well, I take some issue with what Sam said because I think there
is a template here. I think that you`re going to find the importance of
democrats at the national level driving this message of overreach, of
gutting ethics, of billionaires, generals, and ideologues, not draining the
swamp, feeding it, filling it with bottom feeders. Take that out to the
country and I think you could have an ongoing mobilization. It may not
defeat legislation but it will hasten the view that this GOP congress at a
time when millions voted for jobs for, you know, healthcare, not a sham
populism, a shameless plutocracy, but really addressing the condition of
their lives. I think if you can drive that message forward, you`ll get
some real traction.
SEDER: Yeah, I think that`s true, but I think, I think one of the lessons
from the election was that you really need to engage in politics, and
saying that Donald Trump lacks ethics, I mean, I think it`s possible that
the reaction to this in congress was because Donald Trump has gotten away
with so many conflicts of interest and so many seemingly brazen ignoring of
ethics that they took it out on congress where they could actually get some
impact. But down the road it has to be about politics. It has to be about
the politics of health care -
HEUVEL: And jobs.
SEDER: – politics, about jobs, about social security, about the EPA, about
the FDA, about the gutting of regulations, I mean, the democrats have to
start talking about politics and policy. It`s going to be fine to talk
about Donald Trump as all of his ethical lapses, but the bottom line is
they`re going to have to start selling –
MELBER: Katrina, isn`t part of the connective tissue there though that a
criticism of a rigged system as Donald Trump put it, or one where bankers
make all decision as Bernie put it, is the politics?
HEUVEL: Yes. Is the politics and I think you can drive that out into the
country coming off of the first day. Just think of what the first day of
the house, the republican – what – their first order of business was to
self-enrich themselves, in a way, so I do think Sam is right. This is –
we – the democrats can`t just do “Trump is unfit”. We saw where that led
in the election. I think you need to connect the rigged system and the
fact that you have a lot of billionaires about to come forward without
their disclosing of their financial reports and Donald Trump is conflict of
interest walking. So, I think you need to do the politics but connect it
to the issues as they try to roll back the civilizing reforms of our time.
WELBER: And if it – if it walks like a duck and then quacks like a duck,
it`s a conflict of interest. We`re out of time, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Sam
Seder, thank you both very much.
Still to come, the biographer who says the President-elect had him kicked
off a Trump golf course. I`ll talk with him about what happened and why
David Koch was there.
Plus, why Donald Trump is bashing one carmaker, and celebrating another.
The truth, the numbers behind Trump trying to take credit for bringing jobs
to the U.S. after a two-minute break. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED CRUZ, UNITED STATES SENATOR: I don`t believe that Washington should be
picking winners and losers.
HERMAN CAIN, FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The government should
not be in the business of picking winners and losers because most of the
time they pick the losers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s time to end the government`s ability to pick
winners and losers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not government`s role to pick the winners and
TOM PRICE, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FOR GEORGIA: It`s time to end having
Washington pick winners and losers in the marketplace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shouldn`t be picking winners and losers in
Washington. We should be setting the conditions for economic growth so
that the private sector can create jobs. Washington`s not good at picking
winners and losers so we shouldn`t try.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WELBER: Republicans have long said they are big believers in the free
market economy where Washington doesn`t pick, quote, “winners and losers”.
But boy, things are changing.
This morning, President-elect Donald Trump threatening General Motors,
tweeting, “General Motors is sending Mexican-made model of Chevy Cruze to
U.S. car dealers tax free across border. Make in USA or pay big border
tax.” Four hours later, Trump celebrated one of GM`s competitors, along
with himself, triumphantly tweeting out an article “Ford to scrap Mexico
plant, invest in Michigan due to Trump policies.” As it turns out, we can
tell you tonight, neither of those claims hold up well to scrutiny.
The Chevy claim about half true. Chevy does, in fact, send a small number
of Cruze hatchbacks, which is built in Mexico to dealers in the U.S., but
it is less than 5,000 vehicles – that`s out of 190,000 sold. As GM noted
after Trump`s attack, quote, “All Chevrolet Cruze sedan sold in the U.S.
are built in GM`s assembly plant in Lordstown Ohio.” Kind of a, important
thing there, that fact.
And the Ford claim looks even more problematic. Ford did announce today
that it`s canceling a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico in order to invest 700
million in its Michigan operation. A deal the automaker said would add 700
jobs, which is great. But in remarks to reporters, Ford CEO Mark Fields
was suggesting the decision did have sort of something to do with Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK FIELDS, FORD CEO: We`re also encouraged by the pro-growth policies
that President-elect Trump and the new congress have indicated that they
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s a fine forward-looking statement. Fields, of course, has
plenty of reason to want to get in on the President-elect`s good side. But
there is more to this story. Surprise, in an interview with CNBC, he
conceded it was a decline in demand for those small cars that were set to
be built at the Mexico plant, not Donald Trump, which drove this decision
about the Mexico plant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FIELDS: Over the last couple of years, we`ve seen small cars marketly
decline. So, every year, we`re looking our capacity, we`re looking our
forecast for demand, and it became very clear that we didn`t need this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That fact, publicly stated, didn`t stop Trump who hammered Ford
during the election - the campaign, of course, for plans to expand in
Mexico, now he`s claiming credit. Trump today tweeting out a story
declaring “Trump already delivering the jobs he promised America.” The
story including a claim that Trump quote, “brokered the deal” for Sprint to
add 5,000 jobs in America, even though funding for those jobs was long
announced back in October, literally, before Trump was elected as part of a
plan to fund 50,000 jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President-elect, Sprint tells us that the 5,000
jobs that you announced today were part of the 50,000 –
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, Sprint will give
you – Sprint will give you, I just spoke with the head person. He said
because of me they`re going 5,000 jobs in the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So, the veracity of Trump`s claims about job creation, that`s one
issue. The other issue is the entire impact of this whole thing. While,
of course, saving any job in America is a celebration worthy event.
Trump`s efforts, so far, amount to a very tiny drop in the bucket. Take a
look at this chart. The auto bailout alone, under President Obama, saved
an estimated one and a half million jobs. By comparison, if you add up all
the jobs that Trump has even claimed credit for, the total is just 7,300.
And that`s for the actual verified jobs, what we just broke down, the gap
in between, well, Trump has help save arguably about 800 all from the
actual carrier deal with the Indiana State Government.
Joining me now to unpack further is economist Dean Baker, Co-Director of
the Center for Economic and Policy Research. So, on the one hand, you have
the false exaggerated claims of his role. On the other hand, even if his
role were saving these jobs, they are a tiny, tiny drop in the bucket by
any national standard.
DEAN BAKER, CENTER FOR ECONOMIC AND POLICY RESEARCH CO-DIRECTOR: That`s
right, I mean, I joke about this, we`re getting carrier shows, what we
really need is policy. And you know, again, you have the chart there, just
to put in further context. We have over 12 million manufacturing jobs in
the country, so, what Donald Trump`s talking about is somewhere on the
order of 0.01 of 1 percent of those jobs. And what we care about is the
policy. You know, over the last six month, the dollar has risen about 10
percent against the euro, the British pound, the Japanese yen, other major
currencies. That`s going to swamp the impact of, you know, these
individualized deals. So, this is, you know, I joke about it-
MELBER: I wonder if you`re speaking in different language, though. When
you just said, we care about the policy, right, someone listening at home
could think “No, don`t we care about the jobs?” I mean, isn`t the point,
we can put up on the screen the number of jobs under President Obama, yes
through these federal policies, but you look at that private sector job
creation, 15.6 million jobs, right? I mean, isn`t the message here that
policy leads to jobs and what Donald Trump`s doing is not good for jobs
because he`s just taking phone calls and there`s no replicable scalable
BAKER: But, well, exactly. That`s what I`m saying. Obviously, we care
about the jobs and we care – that what will matter are the policies that
produce jobs, and, you know, President Obama in that score, you know, not
as successful as some of us might have liked. But yeah, that was a pretty
good record, and, you know, when you stack up the millions of jobs, you
know, that you`ve seen in the Obama administration, compared to with what
you`re getting, you know, again, we don`t know, I mean Donald Trump`s
indicated, this is a guy who will take credit for the sun coming up
tomorrow. I mean, we don`t know what actually went on. Obviously, these
businesses have great incentive to say that, “Oh, yeah, of course, we`re
doing this because of Donald Trump.”, but we don`t really know. And I`m
actually pointing out – go a step further, because this goes beyond just
picking winners as we ordinarily talk about. So, what the republicans were
yelling about with President Obama was that he wants to promote solar
energy. He wants to promote clean energy, he`s picking winners – that was
picking industries. Donald Trump is picking companies. That is much more
pernicious. This is, you know, when you associate with authoritarian
regimes and I`m being polite here. We don`t want to see a president that
rewards individual companies for being nice to him. That`s a very, very
MELBER: Well, I wonder about that. Because you know, congress cannot
legislate for a single company or person. That`s called “the bill of
attainder” – it`s illegal. What you`re referring to is the fact that –
maybe the first time in history we have a President who seems to want to
wield his power against individual companies. If he picks on smaller
companies, he could risk their business for the year, right? He could
technically bankrupt smaller companies if he picks on them.
BAKER: Absolutely. And, you know, this is not the way we want to see the
United States. This is not the way we`ve conducted business. It`s not the
way you want to see us conducting business. One more thing about picking
winners that`s kind of ironic in this story, because the jobs at the plant
in Michigan, that Ford was referring to, those are jobs in factories that
are going to be producing hybrid and electric cars. Guess what? Those
were the winners picked by President Obama. Those jobs would not be there
were it not for President Obama`s policy of picking winners that apparently
Trump thinks is good now.
MELBER: Right. You almost get the impression of the last President was
sort of working on all of those policies and bills, maybe spending less
time on the phone with the CEO`s. Dean Baker, thanks for your time
BAKER: Thanks for having me on.
MELBER: Democrats laying out their plans to now deal with the President
Trump, coming up, as we`ll show you what the new leader in the senate had
to say in his very first floor speech today, including what he calls a
dangerous Twitter presidency.
MELBER: By gaveling in a new congress today, republicans are beginning the
countdown on January 20th to Washington`s first one-party government in six
years. I think there`s probably no single policy, where one party
government matters more than Obamacare for the simple reason that
republicans have long enjoyed the political benefits of deriding the
healthcare law, without ever having to worry about actually doing anything
about it. They had found a veto-proof grievance, if you will, until now.
Today, republicans must actually offer a plan for what happens if they
actually end Obamacare. They`ve begun with a resolution to halt the
financing through a bare majority and then there are various proposals to
delay the actual repeal until they can figure out some kind of replacement.
Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway says there`s no plan ready and she
suggested the administration wants its health secretary confirmed first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONWAY: Some experts say that it could take years to actually complete the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And right now, do you or do you not have a replacement
plan ready to go, ramped up, ready to go, say, tomorrow?
CONWAY: We have pieces of it that we need to discuss.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is it?
CONWAY: Well, we don`t have an HHS secretary confirmed yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: If republicans actually gut Obamacare and throw millions off the
plans, it could be the largest self-inflicted political wound in a
generation, to say nothing of the humanitarian cost. Which is why the
conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board is even warning fellow
conservatives, the move could lead many to blame republicans quote “for any
turmoil in insurance market” and adding quote “Republicans will own health
care, like it or not.” Alternatively, though, if republicans vote to
repeal Obamacare, while basically leaving it all in place until the next
election or even the next administration, nobody even knows what to call
that kind of stunt. Should democrats then rejoice that millions would keep
their health care even as millions of people claim that reality is
changing? An exercise in what we might call the “politics of Obamacare
truthiness” or maybe just “Trumpiness”? President Obama is going to
Capitol Hill tomorrow to meet with House Democrats about this very dilemma
and crafting a strategy for a post-Obama administration era. Now, one
person essential to this debate is Jamie Harris. He was a legislative
strategist for the house democratic leadership and he`s a man who also
happens to be running for DNC chair right now. He`s our guest to talk
about this. Next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: Many Americans are afraid, Mr.
President-elect, that instead of rolling up your sleeves and forging
serious policies, for you Twitter suffices. But these issues are complex
and demand both careful consideration and action.
We cannot tweet them away. So, Mr. president-elect, if there`s one part of
my speech that I hope you listen to and take to heart, it`s this one – and
I mean it with the best intentions – if you abandon
change and simply embrace the shop-worn hard right pro-corporate pro-elite
policies diametrically opposed to the many campaign themes that helpedyou
win working class votes and get you elected, your presidency will not
We Democrats will hold you accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer there gearing up to
lead a united Democratic opposition fighting against large parts of
congressional Republicans` agenda, which includes, of course, swift repeal
Joining me now, as promised, to discuss what it all looks like is Jamie
Harrison, chair of the
South Carolina Democratic Party, a candidate for DNC chair, and as I
mentioned, someone who has worked on Capitol Hill and intimately knows
parliamentary procedure when you were with Clyburn.
JAMIE HARRISON, CHAIR, SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: So, let`s start
there. What are Democrats going to two in this meeting tomorrow with the
president as they try to prep for the Obamacare onslaught in a time when
they`re in the minority?
Listen, Ari, it`s good to see you. You know, the Republicans are going to
use a budget reconciliation process here in order to try to dismantle the
Affordable Care Act. It`s the only way that they can get past the
filibuster rule in the Senate in order to get something to President Trump.
But even using that process, it`s going to be a sticky process to do that,
because then they can only target pieces of the Affordable Care Act that
can have to do with spending or taxes. And so they will have to send that
legislative to the parliamentarian of the Senate and then go through a long
and – elongated process there as well.
So in the House of Representatives really what they have to do is they have
to be the voice of
resistance. They have to utilize all of the things in their power,
including the motion to recommit, which is a tool that the minority party
can use for any legislation that comes on the House floor. It`s going to
be a hard fight, but this isn`t Star Trek where folks say “resistance is
futile.” Resistance is going to be necessary for Democrats in order to
protect the health care that 20 million Americans now enjoy.
MELBER: Well, when you talk about motion to recommit, you have all of our
C-SPAN fans out there, their hearts fluttering, but there will be a lot of
that parliamentary shell game.
The other piece of this is if you do win your race for DNC chair, you know,
when you`re with the White House, your client would be the president on
down running the party. Here, your first client beyond the Democrats
around the country will be Chuck Schumer. What did you think of what he
said today? How would you want to work with him on this? He clearly
thinks there is a benefit to casting Donald Trump as abandoning working
He put it in the the future tense. Some folks are pointing to the Goldman
cabinet, the richest net
worth cabinet in American history and saying it`s already happening.
HARRISON: Listen, if I`m in the DNC, I will work with Chuck Schumer. I
will work with Nancy Pelosi, but what we`re going to do is – the focus on
D.C. is good. But focus – real focus of this party has to be on the
grass-roots level. We saw today – it wasn`t because of what Chuck Schumer
said or what Nancy Pelosi said in terms of the Republicans trying to repeal
a or go back on ethics, it was the grass-roots that mobilized, thousands of
people calling on Capitol Hill.
MELBER: That`s important. So Jamie you`re saying you believe it was all
about the people out there. If anything, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi
weren`t holding big meetings on this, they weren`t make that big a deal out
of it, you`re saying itwas more the people than D.C. Democrats?
HARRISON: That`s exactly right, Ari. And it shows us what can happen when
the people mobilize.
I think if you look at the pipeline situation, the Dakota pipeline
situation, it was about the grass-roots mobilizing and causing that to end,
and we – that`s what we need to focus on as a party. We have to build our
grassroots. We have to activate them so that they can be that resistance.
I want to change – Speaker Ryan said today that it`s been his dream to
unify – to have a unified government. We are going to turn that dream
into a nightmare, and it`s doing that through resistance.
MELBER: Through resistance. It`s interesting you mentioned that. I mean,
programming notes, Chuck Schumer will be on with Rachel next hour, which
will be interesting. Later in our hour, we`re going to be looking at some
other direct action, the sit-ins at Jeff Sessions office. There were
arrests within the last hour.
Jamie Harrison, thank you for your time.
On that story, we`re going to bring you, the breaking news from Alabama,
there was a day of protests and a sit-in, now these arrests. You`re
looking at brand-new footage here. This is inside the government office of
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions who is Donald Trump`s nominee for attorney
general. A lot of expectations about this fight, what you`re looking at,
these new pictures, these arrests part of the resistance and the opposition
to his nomination.
We`re going to show you that story with this breaking news after the break.
MELBER: Thing One tonight, when President Obama and his family vacate the
White House, they reportedly are heading for a rental in northwest D.C.
until Sasha completes high school. When the Obama`s plans first became
public last May, Eric Owens wrote for the conservative website Daily Caller
that that house was, quote, a ten-minute drive from Sasha Obama`s school,
relevant to the story.
But here`s how The Daily Caller actually headlined that story, quote,
“Obama`s fancy new mansion is located a thousand feet from the Islamic
Center of Washington, D.C.” They even wrote that it was 1,906 feet from
the Islamic Center, one of the largest mosques in the western hemisphere
adding the embassy of Oman and the former embassy of Iran are very close to
Obama`s new mansion.
Here`s a hot tip for The Daily Caller, there are a lot of embassies nearby
when you move into embassy row, that`s an area known as a fancy part of
Washington and whose residents have included Hillary Clinton, Donald
Rumsfeld and the late Ted Kennedy.
But you`ll never guess who bought a house in that very same neighborhood?
And that is thing two back in 60 seconds.
MELBER: Tonight, NBC News confirms Donald Trump`s daughter Ivanka and her
husband Jared Kushner are moving into a house in Northwest D.C. As I was
just mentioning, this is in the wealthy Kalorama neighborhood where
numerous embassies are and it`s blocks away from where the
Obamas are reportedly moving, so they will be neighbors.
It is also, we`ve been told, a three-minute walk from – The Daily Caller
as a report – a report by Thomas Phippen (ph), I was mentioning this
earlier, now he notes the house is, quote, near several embassies and the
expansive Rock Creek Park area. And buried in the middle of this story, he
adds, quote, “incidentally, Ivanka`s new home will be about the same
distance or slightly closer to the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. than
This is what we were talking about earlier, notably that nugget about the
Islamic Center, not in the headline or the priority for The Daily Caller
now that this story involves the Trumps as it was for the story on Obama`s
house, an irrelevant detail dominating The Daily Caller`s report there with
writer Eric Owens naming the Islamic Center in that Obama housing story
And before he added the former embassy of Iran is in the neighborhood, too,
another irrelevant detail The Daily Caller just happened to leave out
oftheir Ivanka Trump housing report.
Meanwhile, what`s another residence less than a mile down the road from the
of D.C.? Well, the Naval Observatory, the future home of Vice President-
elect Mike Pence.
MELBER: And now to some breaking news that I mentioned earlier in our
broadcast of Donald Trump`s cabinet appointments to date, only one has been
rejected by the Senate before, attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions
passed over for a federal judgeship in 1986.
Now today, activists led by the NAACP have been taking what they call a
direct action urging
Sessions to withdraw his name from consideration for the post.
Now, throughout the day, members of the NAACP held a sit-in at Alabama
Senator Jeff Sessions` Mobile office, this is his government office, the
footage you`re looking at is of that sit-in today. The country`s oldest
civil rights group saying they want to continue to protest Sessions until
he removes himself as the nominee or, they were saying, up until this
evening until they got arrested.
Well, within the last hour, police officers arrived at the – excuse me,
police officers arrived and the NAACP members, including President Cornell
Brooks, were arrested for continuing their sit-in
A Sessions confirmation hearing begin just one week from today. A key
question facing the senator is whether he would put his political views
aside and basically be able to enforce the law equally for all Americans if
he was confirmed as attorney general. Those arrests here within the last
hour and we`ll keep you posted on developments in this story.
Now coming up, kicked out by the president-elect, I`m going to talk with
the Trump biographer who says Trump had him removed from his golf course
this weekend. He`ll tell us exactly what happened and why David Koch was
there. That`s next.
MELBER: All right. Our next story is about something very small, which
could also be very big. It is about Donald Trump`s petty payback, but also
about the prospects for free speech in a Trump era. On Friday, Harry Hurt,
a writer went golfing with billionaire industrialist David Koch and a few
friends at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. And Hurt
ran into Donald Trump himself.
Hurt says Trump kicked him off of the property because of a grudge over
Hurt`s 1993 biography of Trump “Lost Tycoon: the Many Lives of Donald J.
Hurt says several security guards escorted him off the property after he
spoke directly to Trump. Now, it is legal for a private citizen to remove
someone from private property, but it is not legal to eject someone to
eject someone from government property for their views, and it`s not
usually legal for government law enforcement to target or escort anyone
based on their views.
That is called viewpoint discrimination and the Supreme Court has held the
government may not pick and choose the speakers that it likes, so if Donald
Trump took this same golf approach on government property or with his
government security detail, it would be a real problem.
And even if you view this incident as just some kind of petty sideshow from
over the weekend, the fact is that in 17 days from now, if Trump did this
on government property, or with government security, it would be illegal.
The Secret service`s mission is to protect the president`s safety, not
patrol protesters or biographers or whatever.
But keep this incident in mind as you look at the reports here from
Politico that unlike past presidents, Trump is planning to continue
employing some of his private security detail while president. A Trump
spokesperson described that report as complete nonsense and blowing it all
out of proportion.
Now, many Trump voters saw his lack of government experience as an asset,
but since he has never served before, we don`t know whether he even
realizes that while the president has many extra power, the president also
has strong limitations. The First Amendment does not apply to the openers
of the Trump International Golf Club, the First Amendment is a limit on the
government. And starting January 20, that means the First Amendment will
apply to a lot of things Donald Trump does. Is he ready?
Joining me now is Harry Hurt, author of “The Lost Tycoon: the Many Lives of
Donald J. Trump.” Tell us what exactly happened. You went up to Donald
Trump on that golf course on Friday and then what happened?
HARRY HURT, TRUMP BIOGRAPHER: Well, I went up to him out of courtesy and
respect for the office of the president of the United States. I had played
there several times before and recently in 2015, the day before Easter, the
Saturday before Easter had actually seen Donald Trump there with my golfing
buddy David Koch,
Anyway, I went up to him and I simply said “congratulations, sir.” I
tipped mid-hat, I extended my hand. We shook hands. And then he went into
an expletive-filled diatribe about the content of my book. He then said
that he thought it was inappropriate for me to be playing at the golf
course and he asked me to leave and I said that I would.
MELBER: So you said you would, then you go away and then what did security
say to you when they approached you?
HURT: Well it was actually kind of comical because a security fellow who
was very polite, he identified himself as Orlando, as in the city in
Florida, told me that he was head of security and he asked me if i was Mr.
Koch. And I said, no, Mr. Koch is standing over there, I`m Mr. Hurt, I`m
the one that Mr. Trump doesn`t want to play here but I`ve spoke within Mr.
Koch and our other playing partners and we`re going to leave.
First, we need to fetch our shoes from the locker rooms, our street shoes,
and we`ll fetch our clubs and we`ve already called for the car to come up
from the parking lot.
Orlando and a couple of his cohorts shadowed me as I was doing what I just
then I left.
MELBER: So they walk you and Mr. Koch, as you say, off the golf course.
You look at Donald Trump in this interaction. In your view, does he have
an understanding of why this kind of conduct, while legal on a private golf
course, would be illegal if he did it on government property or when he is
president? Is he ready to take on those limitations?
HURT: Well, I don`t think that he is, Ari. And here`s why. You, as a
legal scholar, of course, remember the McCarthy hearings back in the `50s,
and the lead attorney for Joe McCarthy was a fellow named Roy Cohn. One of
the biggest influences, besides his own father, Fred Trump, when Donald
Trump was coming up, was his attorney Roy Cohn.
So I think that there`s probably some gaps in understanding about what he
legally may do and may not do, but I also think that he learned smear
tactics and bill of rights violation tactics from a master who was Roy
MELBER: And briefly, finally, in your post about this on Facebook you
wrote that David Koch was appalled. He branded Trump petty and vulgar.
Did he say anything else to you?
HURT: Well, I`m going to let David Koch speak for himself. He`s a dear
friend and a golfing buddy. I think that Donald`s behavior certainly
speaks for itself.
MELBER: Do you think he`d ever been booted from a course before, though?
HURT: Have I?
MELBER: No, do you David Koch had ever been booted off a golf course?
HURT: Well, it was really not David who was booted, I was the one who was
I offered to taken an Uber so David and our other playing companions could
stay there, but they said, all of them together, the other three said, no,
no, we came as a foursome, we shall leave as a foursome and we went to play
Emerald Dunes which, in my view, is a much, much better golf course.
MELBER: All right. Well, we got your views on all that and it sounds like
Mr. Koch felt you danced with the one who brung ya and you all left
together. An interesting story, small or large depending on where it all
goes. Harry Hurt, thanks for your time tonight.
HURT: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Appreciate it.
Now, we are continuing to follow those protests and arrests we reported on
earlier in the hour at the Alabama office of Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump`s
nominee for attorney general.
Joining me now by phone is Larry Cohn. He`s the chair of the Democracy
Initiative, which is a coalition that has opposed Session`s nomination and
the NAACP is a participating organization. What can you tell us?
LARRY COHEN, DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE: Our board meets tomorrow night.
Cornell Brooks is actually on that board. We`re joined by phone. We will
escalate the opposition that we saw tonight from the Alabama NAACP and the
national president, Cornell Brooks sitting in there.
Jeff Sessions may be the worst attorney general nomination ever, which is
saying a lot. He has made racist comments, he has attacked civil rights
groups, he`s created voter fraud that didn`t exist. This is as a U.S.
attorney, as the attorney general of Alabama, and this is not somebody who
deserves a rushed confirmation with a hearing next week before he`s even
nominated and a voice vote.
We are going to demand – and there`s 30 million members of the Democracy
Initiative groups – labor, green, civil rights, women`s organizations,
that there are full hearings, that he`s totally vetted and that the Senate
– the opponents to people like Jeff Sessions in the Senate need to speak
up and use the 30 hours of debate time that are there for every nominee.
MELBER: Do you think democrats are on the same page as you in your
protesters, or is this an effort to, as you say, escalate attention on this
COHEN: This is to bring attention to the nomination. These are
nominations that the president-elect is trying to ram through with his
supporters in the Senate before he`s even the president of the United
States. Again, they`re anticipating a voice vote of the Judiciary
committee right after the inauguration.
And what the Democracy Initiative will be saying, and our member
organizations is wait a minute here. This guy does not deserve a voice
vote and does not deserve to be rushed through as the next attorney general
of the United States at a time when people are in fear about their rights,
at a time when the whole world is looking to see what will it be like in
the United States with Donald Trump as president?
MELBER: And, Larry, last night on this program, we had a spokesperson for
Jeff Sessions on who said that a lot of this in their view is an effort to
smear him as a racist without facts. What is your response to that,
COHEN: That`s why there should be a full hearing where people can testify,
where we look at the record of Jeff Sessions and the record should speak
MELBER: Anything else that you want people to know from here? What
happens tomorrow given the arrests tonight?
COHEN: Tomorrow, organizations across this country are going to take up
this opposition inspired by the NAACP and we would hope that people across
this country would stand up and shout out no to Jeff Sessions and no to a
rush jam job confirming him.
MELBER: All right, Larry Cohen, I know this is a busy night given
everything happening there. Appreciate your time.
I am Ari Melber, and appreciate your time at home for watching ALL IN this
evening. “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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