All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 1/10/2017
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: January 10, 2017
Guest: Stephanie Cutter, Sheldon Whitehouse
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for being with us. “ALL IN” with Chris
Hayes starts right now.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: President Obama is set to deliver his farewell
address to the nation from Chicago on an absolutely explosive day of news
for the man who will succeed him. We`ll talk about it all when this
special edition of ALL IN starts right now.
Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes, welcome to our special
coverage this evening of President Barack Obama`s farewell address for the
nation with 10 days until his successor takes the oath of office. There
was no night the President could have scheduled this speech that wouldn`t
be competing with a ton of news and that is, of course, exactly the case
this evening. With the controversial Senator Jeff Sessions sitting for his
first confirmation hearing to become Trump`s attorney General, a
confirmation hearing that lasted over 10 hours and is still going, as I
understand, and republican plans to repeal ObamaCare, facing new hurdles
and new directives from the President-elect.
But tonight, just as President Obama is preparing to take that stage in
Chicago, an explosive new report concerning Trump`s briefing last week on
Russian hacking. Two U.S. officials with direct knowledge tell NBC News
that briefing materials prepared for the President-elect included
information, which initially circulated among Trump opponents and was
passed to U.S. Intelligence Agencies making damaging allegations about his
dealings with Russians. The sources would not comment on the nature of the
allegations. Neither of the officials said the FBI was actively
investigating the investigation which has not been verified by U.S.
This comes on the heels of another report, claiming that intelligence
chiefs who briefed the President-elect presented him with allegations that
Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial
information about Trump. On top of that, according to that report, the
intelligence chiefs shared allegations there was a continuing exchange of
information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries
for the Russian government. NBC News has not verified the details of that
report. We have yet to receive response from Trump`s transition team, but
tomorrow morning, the President-elect himself is scheduled to hold a press
conference, his first in about six months.
And I`m joined now by Ken Dilanian, he`s NBC News intelligence and National
Security reporter. And Ken, was this both explosive and confusing? So
walk me through this. What we know is that some essentially third-party
intelligence or third-party information with certain allegations about the
President-elect, his campaigns or dealings with Russia, was prepared to be
briefed directly to the President-elect?
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: That`s
right, Chris. And that is the significant thing and that is why we are
reporting it. Because it was included, a two-page addendum, our
understanding, was included in the highly-classified compartmented version
of the intelligence report on Russian hacking and Russian interference in
the election that was prepared for President-elect Trump, President Obama
and the leaders of Congress, so really highly classified stuff. And we`re
told that it contains damaging even explosive information about Trump that
hasn`t necessarily been verified by U.S. Intelligence Agencies, but that
they wanted him to know that this was out there and that ostensibly the
Russians have it and others have it, and it`s circulating.
HAYES: OK, you just said something, though, that added to my store of
knowledge on this topic which I`ve been trying to work my way through all
afternoon. The addendum to which we`re referring which is a summary of
allegations about the dealing between the Trump campaign and Donald Trump,
and the possibility of compromising information, you`re saying that was
part of that highly-classified report that was circulated to the President
– the current President, the President-elect, and the congressional
DILANIAN: Yes, that`s our understanding, Chris.
HAYES: OK. So, this was not just given the President-elect. This was
part of essentially what would be the kind of classified record for U.S.
officials being briefed on this incredibly explosive and sensitive subject?
DILANIAN: Yes. And in a hearing today about the Russian interference in
the election, several democrats asked very pointed questions of James Comey
about whether the FBI was investigating connections between the Trump
campaign and Russia. Obviously, this subject didn`t come up at all, but
you know, this was – this is leading to questions about why the lawmakers
were asking those questions of James Comey, and he said he could neither
confirm nor deny that the FBI was conducting any investigation around this.
Our sources are telling us that the FBI is not necessarily investigating
many of these uncorroborated unsubstantiated claims.
HAYES: Ron Wyden, I believe, who, of course, has been a very active
senator on intelligence issues with a series of questions to James Comey on
precisely that particular subject and, of course, this summer there was an
– there was a letter on the record from Harry Reid who was then the senate
major – senate minority leader saying basically to James Comey, “We
believe that you have in your possession explosive allegations?”
DILANIAN: That is right. And Harry Reid has not commented tonight on
whether these two things are connected. And so, we just don`t know.
HAYES: OK. Ken Dilanian, thank you for joining me. I want to bring in
now, Andrea Mitchell, she`s NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent.
Andrea, you know, this is – this is hard to know what to do with. I mean,
at one level, we`re dealing with what are by all accounts uncorroborated or
unsubstantiated allegations at the same time they have been included by the
highest levels of the U.S. Intelligence Community in an official classified
report, which would seem to give some kind of imprimatur or credibility.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well it`s
raw intelligence. It`s unverified raw intelligence. And it`s a very
controversial and damaging stuff, potentially, but no one knows if these
underlying charges are true. Yes, I can understand why they wanted to
include it in the report. For one thing, they wanted to show that the
Russians were, according to the best intelligence, gathering information on
both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, on both republicans and democrats,
but only leaked the information about Hillary Clinton. So that shows the
motive. That shows what they were up to according to the U.S. intelligence
report that they are standing by and testified till today in both open and
HAYES: You have – you have reported on intelligence and the world of
congressional interface with that and foreign policy for some time, Andrea,
and I trust you on this stuff. I mean, I have a question I guess, about
how common it would be to include essentially third party or raw
intelligence in this sort of thing or maybe this is kind of not that
surprising in terms of the protocol?
MITCHELL: It is, to me, a little surprising, frankly, because it`s not
corroborated, it also had some roots in opposition research that was
allegedly started by republican opponents or at least one republican
opponent of Mr. Trump`s, and then embraced later by democrats as well.
It`s been floating around Washington, I talked to a White House official –
senior official tonight who said that he had seen it weeks and weeks ago.
I talked to a top State Department official – I was only just came from
the State Department, where they said, you know, this has just been passed
around. It did involve at one point a firm that was started by apparently
some former Wall Street Journal reporters who employed a former MI6 agent
and that some of the sourcing came through him. Him or her, I should say,
not knowing the gender. So it`s so explosive that one wonders why they
would put it up there and include it in the classified version of this
HAYES: OK. So, to that end – I mean, there`s a subtext here, a sort of
broader context here, right, which is, A, that intelligence is a difficult
business and often raw intelligence is later disproven or doesn`t pan out.
But there`s also, of course, the context of the incoming President-elect –
the President-elect and the intelligence agencies with whom he has
essentially been waging public war, has basically denigrated them, because
these are the same people that got Iraq wrong, rejected in some senses,
outright, although maybe reluctantly accepted. I mean, do you think that
context is important here?
MITCHELL: I do think it`s important and I think that this must also be
contributing to the tension between Donald Trump and the intelligence
agencies. If they`re giving him this kind of raw unverified information to
give him an example of what`s been circulating against both him and Hillary
Clinton. I mean, a lot of the information about Hillary Clinton was not
correct and what WikiLeaks leaked were e-mails, some were apparently
correct, were not confirmed by John Podesta or others, but we believe that
some of those e-mails – many of those e-mails were correct, but we don`t
know what information was also altered, and there was a lot of fake and bad
information also circulated on RT and through, you know, dark web sites.
MITCHELL: So, this has been the most incredibly difficult campaign to
cover, and we don`t know what is true, what is not true, and what`s
verified and not verified. In this case, it is so explosive, we`re talking
about a week away from the inauguration of the President of the United
HAYES: That`s right. And that exactly – that through the looking glass
feel. What we do know is that this addendum was attached to a report that
was the official classified report, at least that`s where the reporting
suggests, through the sourcing of NBC News that was given to the President
and the President-elect and the members of congress, and that is – that
itself is a sort of remarkable development in this whole thing. Andrea
Mitchell, thanks for joining me, I appreciate it.
MITCHELL: You bet.
HAYES: All right, I want to bring in Stephanie Cutter, former Deputy
Senior Adviser of President Obama who is attending his speech in Chicago.
And Stephanie, I know you`re there in Chicago preparing for this. I guess,
I personally like to get your reaction to this. I don`t know if you`ve
seen the news on this, and obviously, there has been this sort of
frustration and pall cast over so much of what happened in this election,
from the Comey letter a week before the ultimate results, to the WikiLeaks
hacking, to this classified briefing suggesting that intelligence chiefs
presented to Donald Trump, allegations that he had sort of unsavory
collaboration with the Russians.
STEPHANIE CUTTER, FORMER DEPUTY SENIOR ADVISER OF PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well,
Chris, nice to be joining you. I am here in Chicago. We`re anxiously
awaiting the President`s speech. I`m just hearing many of the details on
my ear – headset right now, so it will be interesting to see if the – if
President-elect Trump will address this in his press conference tomorrow,
but I think there are a couple of conclusions that we can take from this
regardless of the facts. Number one, you mess with the Intelligence
Agencies, they`re going to mess with you.
CUTTER: And they have the information. Number two, it`s pretty clear now
that Russians were trying to influence the election because they had
information on both Clinton and Trump but they only used the Clinton
information. And if the American people should think long and hard about
that, a Russian President trying to influence an American election and a
President-elect who doesn`t seem to care about that. So, I think
President-elect Trump has a lot to answer for and we`ll see how he handles
it. Hopefully, more than a tweet. It deserves more than a tweet.
HAYES: Stephanie, you`re in that room right now, you`re there with a lot
of folks that have worked for this President. This is a farewell address
and I think the big question on everyone`s mind, given – just almost
incomprehensible distance between this President and the man who`s going to
succeed him, just what he will say and how squarely he will address
precisely that kind of elephant in the room, what is coming after him?
CUTTER: Well, I have not seen the President`s speech but knowing him I
think he will address it, but he will talk about the need for us to come
together, work together, and then the need for all of us. You know, where
it`s – there`s a reason why we`re here in Chicago, the President`s adopted
hometown, this is where he started community organizing, started affecting
change. And the message is that we can all bring about change in our
communities and our states and national office and we have – but we have
to work together to do it. And there are very particular principles that
we need to work towards, a more fair and just country, for instance. I
think that`s the message that you`re going to hear from the President.
This is not a time to stop our work, to give up, it`s a time to come
together and continue the change that we`ve already started.
HAYES: You know, that sort of, come-together message, which of course,
there`s this sort of unifying aspect that runs through the entire arc, I
think, of Barack Obama`s public rhetoric as a – as a politician even
before he was a politician in his excellent first book, his memoir. Does
that feel like it fits ill with the time given what we`ve gone through
politically and what we may be looking at politically now?
CUTTER: I`m sorry, Chris, I didn`t hear that. I`m listening to Eddie
HAYES: Just the idea of unifying, of coming together, which has been a
central theme for this President. Does that seem to fit awkwardly with
what the political time is right now and what we may be about entering
CUTTER: Well, it – I think it skews awkwardly with how President-elect
Trump won the election. It wasn`t about coming together, it was about
stoking fear. However, I think the overwhelming majority of the American
people don`t want to continue that type of politics. They do want to
figure out how we can heal, move the country forward and the President –
you know, don`t mistake the – what the President will say tonight. He
will say that we need to come together, we need to work together, but he
will also get a message across that there are certain things that we
shouldn`t allow. Like disparaging our Americans, rolling back rights,
targeting individuals based on religion, taking away people`s health care,
the need to continue progress rather than score political points. That`s
an important message to the person who`s about to take office.
HAYES: All right. Stephanie Cutter –
CUTTER: And that`s what I think, you know –
CUTTER: Go ahead.
HAYES: No, no, you finish, I`m sorry.
CUTTER: I think regardless how this election was won, that`s what most
Americans believe and I think it would be smart for President-elect Trump
to better understand that than he has shown so far.
HAYES: All right, Stephanie Cutter, thank you so much for making some time
there in the site of the President`s farewell address, Eddie Vedder singing
in the background, folks crowding in. I know there are people who have
been online for hours and hours and hours to try to get into this event.
It`s really anticipated by folks in Chicago and the sort of broader Obama
I`m joined now by Reverend Al Sharpton, host of course of MSNBC`s “POLITICS
NATION”, Founder President of National Action Network. As we listen to
Eddie Vedder there in the background and people start to filter into that
hall where the President will be giving his final address, this is a chance
for a kind of historic marker. This is what these addresses have been in
the past. We have this news today about the incoming President, there are
so many people feeling fearful or feeling that he`s in some sense as
illegitimate. What are you looking for? What marker are you looking for
the President right now?
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, ” POLITICS NATION”: I think that I would expect
the President to, yes, be the same kind of united. He`s always has been.
But united around certain principles. I think that people confuse unity
with uniformity, you can say we must unite around health care, and we must,
and we must unite around preserving and protecting voting rights, like many
of us that were in D.C. the day of the session hearings, or you can unite
around civil rights but then we need to unite in protecting them by
confronting those that would break that unity.
HAYES: And do you think that second part of that, I mean, you know,
there`s a few ways this speech can go, there can be a broad call for unity,
there can be a kind of, very sort of abstract, look at what the future
might bring and the importance of Americans use of democracy and there can
be a very specific kind of call to protect the gains that have been made
from the President`s perspective and from his supporters` perspective over
the last eight years.
SHARPTON: I think that there will be the call to protect it. The
President was a professor, a scholar, an organizer and a legislator, so
he`s not going to call for a march like I`m calling for Saturday in
Washington. He`s not going to call for direct action in offices of
senators, but I believe he will say that people must protect what`s in the
best interest of American people. Otherwise, he makes mockery out of his
own service for the last eight years as President and of the movement that
led to him becoming President, even the possibility of him becoming
HAYES: This is a President who right now has historically high approval
ratings. He`s up there in that sort of top tier of folks as he goes at 57
percent approval, I think. Donald Trump has historically low approval
ratings. He`s essentially reversed, he`s about 30, you know, below 30s,
mid-30s, in terms of approval. How do you make sense of that? How do you
make sense of the fact that here`s this man who`s very popular, his party
which was running on essentially continuation of his agenda lost, this
person who`s wildly unpopular by historical standards, won, and now he`s
going to go and give this speech and he`s sort of, broadly beloved as a
figure, a totemic American historical figure, he`s going to hand it off to
SHARPTON: I think that what we have to deal with is not only the poll
numbers, but when you look at the fact that this man lost the popular vote
by 2.8 million, what the Electoral College puts him in. I think that the
worst thing that President Obama could do is to get down in the mud and
become like Trump. I think that the most intelligent and strategic thing
is to put the clean glass next to Mr. Trump`s glass and let America see
what the contrast is, but also what is in that glass is voting rights, and
civil rights, and rights for women, and rights for the disabled, and I
think that Americans will gravitate, whether do you march with those of us
that march, whether you put pressure on legislators, we met after the
sessions monitor breaks today, civil rights leaders met with Senator
Schumer, we`ve agreed to quarterly meetings. We`re not going anywhere.
SHARPTON: And we are going to press this from the legislative to the
demonstration level because we fought to get these things, we`re not going
to walk away quietly.
HAYES: Reverend Al Sharpton, thanks for your time tonight. You are
looking at a live picture in Chicago where the President of the United
States, Barack Obama, I think it`s fair to say a unique and historic figure
in the 240-plus year history of this republic, will be giving his final
address as Eddie Vedder playing to the crowd as they assemble in. We`ll
take a listen as we bump out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDDIE VEDDER, SINGER: People shuffling their feet, people sleeping` in
their shoes. There`s a warning` sign on the road ahead. There`s a lot of
people saying` we`d be better off dead..
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right, welcome back to our special coverage of President Barack
Obama`s farewell address to the nation. We are looking at the scene right
now from McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, where President
Obama is expected to deliver a call to action. It was, of course, a very
different scene earlier today in Washington, D.C. – the senate judiciary
committee hearing for Senator Jeff Sessions, President-elect Trump`s
nominee for Attorney General. Sessions was testifying for senate
colleagues which would often make for a kind of clubby atmosphere, but that
was, by no means, the case today. The room was packed with protesters, and
Sessions, whose racial politics were deemed too retrograde in 1986, to
serve on the federal bench, answered questions on a number of important and
controversial topics, and one of the people on that day today was Senator
Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island who served in the Judiciary Committee.
And Senator Sheldon Whitehouse joins me now. Senator, your broad
impressions of watching your colleague today go through – I think it ended
up being around ten hours of questions?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Well, he gave good answers on a
lot of questions that we weren`t sure he would. He conceded that
waterboarding was torture. He conceded the prosecutors should not release
derogatory investigative information that they haven`t charged which is the
Comey problem. He agreed to protect the firewall between the White House
and the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. And he said he
would be willing to prosecute Trump, his family, and his associates, if
they were found who have broken the law.
So, there were a lot of areas where I think he gave good answers but as you
pointed out, he`s got a very, very long history and he comes to this
hearing as the nominee of a man who ran an extraordinarily divisive,
bitter, and angry campaign, and despite saying that he wanted to unite the
nation, has created a cabinet, aside from the military folks, of basically
right wingers, billionaires and right wing billionaires. And so, a lot of
the people who are very frightened of what the Trump nomination teed up in
this country, now look at this cabinet and say, oh, my god, here we
actually go. And that I think is going to be a problem for Senator
HAYES: There was a really – there was an interesting exchange you had
with the senator. Because if Senator Sessions has been one of the most
influential voices driving the immigration policy of Donald Trump, was the
case during the campaign, and is a real restrictionist, I think it`s fair
to say, and doesn`t like the current system, and had some sort of
disparaging remarks to say about Dominican immigrants, particularly in the
past, basically saying these are not people who are bringing skills America
needs. You had an interesting exchange with him on that. I want you to
take a listen and tell me what you thought.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITEHOUSE: We have a vibrant Dominican community who look at Big Papi,
David Ortiz, swinging his bats for the Red Sox and wonder why you said,
quote, “Almost no one coming from the Dominican Republic to the United
States is coming here because they have a provable skill that would benefit
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL), NOMINEE FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL: Immigration flow
is not on a basis of skills. Immigration flow from almost all of our
countries, frankly, is based on a family connection and other VISAs rather
than a skilled-based program, more like Canada has today. And that`s all I
intended to be saying there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Were you satisfied with that response?
WHITEHOUSE: Well, it was true of a lot of his responses. He tried to walk
things back. Clearly, what he said originally was an across-the-board
disparagement of Dominican Americans and, you know, I`m a Red Sox fan and
David Ortiz is our hero and the idea that Dominicans don`t bring anything
to the United States of America is preposterous. So, he tried to walk that
back and recast it as a policy disagreement about the roll to which skills
should drive our immigration selection process, but I don`t think that`s a
fair characterization of what he originally said. He constantly says these
things that are pretty concerning. His other thing was a concern that many
of the career attorneys in the Department of Justice were secular and that
that was a problem, and so, we explored that a little bit, but why an
Attorney General would care whether his attorneys, the career staff, are
secular or religious, as long as they`re doing their jobs and are capable,
it`s just kind of a strange place to go.
HAYES: Senator, while I have you, I do want to get your response to the
report that we led the show with tonight that is – that is now being
reported in a number of multiple outlets about this, the fact the
intelligence chiefs, in their classified report, attached an addendum that
contained unverified allegations about the President-elect`s campaign, the
President-elect himself having essentially some kind of collusion with
Russia. What do you make of that? What do you do with that as a United
WHITEHOUSE: Well, the President clearly has – the President-elect in his
private capacity has clearly traveled to Russia. We know that Russia and
the Soviet Union before that, historically, have surveilled, recorded, and
taped people who come to their country. There was the famous story of Joe
Alsop, and we`ll see where this goes. We`ll get a briefing tomorrow from
the leaders of the Intelligence Community, and this may very well come up
but the buzz about this, anyway, is that during the course of Mr. Trump`s
visits to Russia, the Russian security services or intelligence services
were able to get surveillance or other information on him that is very
compromising. I don`t know that to be true. That`s what the – I think we
need to explore.
HAYES: So we should say that – I should say that the President-elect has
responded to this. And there was – we were waiting for a statement from
him. “Fake news, a total political witch-hunt.” All caps. So his lawyer
also on the record denying that. I imagine this will come up tomorrow on
the Hill and also in the President-elect`s press conference tomorrow.
WHITEHOUSE: Well, I don`t know that anything happened, but it`s certainly
consistent with a long, long Russian tradition to surveil people while
they`re in the country and to try to find them and get a – make a record
of them in embarrassing circumstances in order to take advantage. Again,
in Washington, the famous example was Joe Alsop many years ago.
HAYES: Senator, let me ask you this, just to zoom out for a moment as we
await President Barack Obama to give his farewell address tonight, and you
were in hearings all day for Jeff Sessions. I think there is a sense, I
think, of a lot of people having political whiplash over the last eight
years and now in terms of that happening, obviously. Donald Trump is
unprecedented, he`s very, very sort of strict in basic sense that no one
who`s ever not served in public office or in the military before has ever
held this office. You have an experience as a politician. Do you feel
whiplash? Do you feel like we`re on some strange uncharted world right
WHITEHOUSE: I think a lot of people feel strange and I share that
sentiment. Part of it, is the things that are kind of unspeakable that the
President-elect keeps saying and the flagrant denial of reality, whether
it`s consensus, highest level of certainty and confidence, conclusions of
the Intelligence Community or the virtually unanimous conclusions of the
scientific community about climate change, this business of a President who
doesn`t care what the facts are, but just bulls ahead, making up his own
facts as he go along, and surrounding himself with the media bubble that
tends to protect that fact-free behavior, it`s dangerous because reality
ends up winning, always. That`s reality`s trump card.
HAYES: All right. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, I appreciate you taking the
time tonight, Sir. Thank you.
All right, as I mentioned, we are looking at a live shot there of President
Barack Obama`s farewell address venue in Chicago at the McCormack Center.
We will, of course, bringking that speech to you live. Folks filing in.
They`ve been flying in from all over the country. People that worked for
him, volunteered for him, fans, devoted supporters will be there for the
final address from one of the most important figures in the history of the
American Republic, I think it`s fair to say. We`ll be bringing you that
address in just a bit. Lots more for you. Don`t go anywhere.
HAYES: All right, joining me now, MSNBC political analyst Robert Costa.
He`s the national political reporter of The Washington Post. And Robert,
of course, we`re looking at the venue there in Chicago where the president
of the United States will give his farewell address in just a little bit as
it is packed with supporters. You`ve been reporting on Capitol Hill.
We were going to talk about the Affordable Care Act, but let`s talk about
the news that has just crossed late in this day about this addendum to the
classified intelligence report that contains damaging allegations against
the president-elect that he was himself briefed on. How is that
reverberating on Capitol Hill?
ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL REPORTER: I`m here just steps away from the
capital, and it`s reverberating in a negative way, especially among
Republicans. There`s a lot of caution tonight, uncertainty about the
specifics of this report, waiting to see what President-elect Trump has to
say, but there`s a lot of anxiety tonight, because tomorrow is supposed to
be another big day of confirmation hearings about Trump`s first news
conference in months and now it could be, likely to be, all about Russia.
HAYES: we`re going to have the news conference tomorrow. I imagine this
will probably be the first question if I had to guess what the first
question. We should say, there`s an on-the-record denial from Michael
Cohn, his lawyer, who was reached on the phone by Mike. There`s also the
president-elect himself tweeting out basically just “fake news. Political
witch-hunt” in all caps.
Here`s the broader context, I would like to know. You know, one of the
about phenomenon of Donald Trump as a political entity is his ability to
defy political gravity, which is to say he has high negatives and low
favorability ratings throughout almost the duration of his entire
campaign, continues to be the case now, that has not appeared to hurt him,
he`s going to be the next president of the United States but my sense of
the Republicans on Capitol Hill don`t feel the same sense of insulation.
Is that an appropriate judgment?
COSTA: What they`re looking for tonight, Chris, are answers from the
president-elect. I was at votes outside of the House and the Senate and as
the news started to break later in the evening from other networks and
people have confirmed it, what I heard is they need to hear more from
Trump, not just a tweet. It has to be answers throughout a press
conference so they feel comfortable when they`re asked questions on Capitol
HAYES: Do you think that the mood on Capitol Hill – how would you
characterize it in terms of Republicans posture towards this
administration? There was a lot of happy talk. A lot of talking on the
same page. We have seen some defections on some key issues. We`ve seen
them postpone four
hearings that were scheduled before the requisite documentation and FBI
background checks have been
done. We have seen several prominent senators basically breaking with
leadership over the time line for possible repeal and replace. Where are
things right now?
COSTA: There are in essence two mindsets. Many Republicans believe on
domestic policy, especially with tax reform, health care, the conservative
side of the party is going to get what it wants. It`s going to get
sweeping changes, so they`re comfortable with Trump in that way. They
don`t see Trump trying to roll them on some of the things at the top of
What they don`t have is a relationship with Trump. They`re trying to build
at the speaker, Paul Ryan had Trump`s team in this week to have some dinner
to go over taxes but there`s not a close relationship with many members.
And so when these things flair up like this intelligence report and new
allegations about Trump and Russia, they don`t really know how to react
because Trump`s not really a party man nor is he coordinating a message
with congressional leaders on these issues.
HAYES: All right, Robert Costa from the capital, thanks for that update.
I appreciate it. We are, of course, just about a half hour away from the
final farewell address from the president of the United States, President
Barack Obama, the first Democrat since FDR to put together two successive
50 percent majority coalitions, a towering figure in American history,
whether you are a supporter or
opponent of him. And he will be giving a farewell address tonight, one of
the most gifted orators in recent memory. It`s going to be a remarkable
evening. Stick around for that and much more after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESTER HOLT, NBC HOST, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”: Tonight you`re going to talk to
the American people. Is this a hard one? Do you know what you`re going
OBAMA: I know what I`m going to say. I have got to make sure I get
through it properly. You know, when you reflect back on eight years for
all the highs and the lows the one thing that is a constant is the
incredible dedication of the people who got you there and who helped you do
job. Everybody from the staff at the White House to the folks who made
sure those airplanes fly to
supporters who would write me notes when things weren`t going well to the
people who would say
that the work we did made a supporters who would write me notes when things
weren`t going well to the people who would say that the work we did made a
And so I think that that sense of gratitude that I feel for those folks, I
just hope I`m able to express that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s President Barack Obama with an exclusive interview with our
own Lester Holt aboard Air Force One as he was traveling to that location
you see on your screen there, McCormick center in Chicago, Illinois, where
the president will, in just a few minutes, be giving his farewell
address. And joining me now to talk about it, Chris Matthews, host of
Hardball on every day, 7:00
p.m. Eastern right before this program. And Joy Reid, host of A.M. Joy
which is on at 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, although sometimes on
at night again, too. It`s all over the place.
Author of “We Are the Change We Seek: The Speeches of Barack Obama.”
So you know, here`s what I`m struck by when you look at Barack Obama in Air
Force One and then the news that we`re getting todayabout – I don`t –
it`s hard, and Chris you`ve written a number of books about history and
presidential history. It`s hard to think of a good precedent for a
whiplash as extreme, a difference just in temperament, politics,
MATTHEWS: We`ve had good ones. 1932 was pretty good.
HAYES: That`s one of them.
HAYES: That`s the other one, Eisenhower to Kennedy.
MATTHEWS: Let`s get this country moving again. You had a young guy taking
over, a World War II vet taking over for the old general.
And of course, the hapless Hoover being taken over by the great FDR. So
we`ve had good ones.
But the interesting thing is like Bill Clinton was very popular at the end,
but Al Gore lost. You know, we do have cases where the outgoing president
is popular – this one – and the candidate of the party of the president
did not do so well. She won the popular vote, but she lost the election,
of coruse. That`s how the history books will be written.
Look, I have to tell you, you didn`t ask me this, but I go back, and did a
show on Hardball tonight, I went back and my feelings watching him in those
little high school assembly halls back in 2007 and `08, when he was just a
nobody. In fact, a guy from Illinois giving a good speech, I was
overwhelmed. I felt something I hadn`t felt since the Gene McCarthy
campaign against the Vietnam War. That here was this young guy coming in
with guts, standing up to a terrible presidency, a stupid war, a bad war
and just saying, damn it, I`m here and this is going to work. And I`m
going to make something happen here. And nobody thought he would win.
Hillary was going to beat him the first time. It wasn`t until the end,
around Labor Day and it was clear he was going to bash John McCain, bash
anybody that got in his way.
So I did see him in 2004 up in Boston giving a speech and I was a skeptic
before that speech. I said Barack Hussein Obama, president of the United
States, you know, that doesn`t seem like it`s going to sell in Peoria. But
boy he changed all the rules.
HAYES: His first line in that speech is like the plains of Peoria
actually. I think he worked Peoria into the opening paragraph of that
MATTHEWS: He said only in this country is my story possible. Only now is
my story possible he should have said. Now is my time.
HAYES: Well, that`s – Joy, I mean, that , to me how do you – Chris`s
point about this popularity, I think in some ways that`s part of the thing
that`s so hard to get your head around, right. I mean, here is someone who
has been a controversial president. He`s overseen one of the most
polarized eras since the Civil War if you look at different political
science metrics for it, and yet is going out as one of the more popular
politicians of the country, one of the more popular exiting politicians in
recent memory, and yet is going to turn this office over to a man who is in
every way a kind of repudiation, a rejection of him.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, “AM JOY”: Yeah, it`s incredible. I can recall
interviewing people during the campaign who really liked Barack Obama, who
voted for him twice. You know, he wears very well as a president. You get
to live with a president over time. And he wears well. He`s a congenial
has got a beautiful family. He`s not scandal prone. He`s funny. He`s very
disarming. And he has a charm about him so that even if people think he`s
a monster when they actually see him talk they say, oh, he`s an urbane,
very friendly guy who constantly expresses his belief in the American
experiment, belief in the system. So he wears really well.
But it is possible – and I`ve met these people – who really liked Barack
Obama and felt that he
represented fundamental change, but then liked the idea of fundamental
change just as much. So they`re happy with the change whether the change
is to Obama or from Obama. So, they want an outsider and he was an
outsider and so was Trump.
HAYES: No, I talked to the same voters.
REID: So for a lot of Americans, believe it or not, they don`t – we think
it`s this incredible bizarre U-turn, but there are voters out there…
HAYES: Consistency is change.
REID: We just want change every time and we don`t want establishment. And
that whatever that change to an anti-establishment person is they think
that they`ve done the country a service.
HAYES: How much do you think – if you – obviously you were a speech
writer back in – once upon a time. How – what`s the vision here? I
mean, how much do you talk about the elephant in the room? That`s the
thing I want to see, right. I mean, how much do you say, yeah, I can`t
believe we ended up here.
MATTHEWS: You know, there is a fate as there always is in the presidency.
There`s a splash with their rival, even Reagan, except he had the big break
with Gorbachev at the end and he exploited it brilliantly. But there`s the
fade. I mean, look at the two presidents we`ve had in the last 16 years,
both have had reelections that weren`t as good as their first elections.
They start to fade. And I think
that it`s very hard to get reelected with pizazz anymore. So the fade…
HAYES: Part of that is the polarization.
MATTHEWS: I`m looking at Trump and whenever we think about his legislative
he even has one yet, is it`s all going to have to happen before August.
And I`m talking before – in the future, there`s only one real year you get
anything done. LBJ had that experience in `64 and a little bit in `65.
And Reagan only in `81.
You really only – so then I`ve always said, you know, Washington is going
to be where the action is in the next six months. But, you know, the fade
– the amount of political capital you have begins to erode so quickly.
And by the way, the unemployment rate starts going up again, and we have a
bad trade deficit again – but I`ve said this before, the rules are unfair.
If Donald Trump had won the popular vote by 3 million votes, there would
have been problems in this country. And this would not have been a smooth
On the other hand, if the Republicans had tripled the Dow in a presidency,
tripled the Dow – talking about a guy who had 7,000 all of a sudden he
owns 20,000, you know, that`s a good return on a presidency.
If that had happened under a Republican president, they would never let
anybody forget it. They`d be dancing in the end zone forever. But they
don`t give this guy any credit.
There`s an interesting fellow right there.
HAYES: Rahm Emanuel.
MATTHEWS: Rahm Emanuel.
REID: Isn`t it important, though, at that point at the very point that
Chris just left it at is we do have to mention race, because by the way a
black man in America cannot be as braggadocios about his presidency and
his accomplishments and get away with it and not be seen as arrogant. I
think one of the things that we cannot undercut – I don`t. I think that
he had to be constantly calm, he had to be constantly understated, he had
to be as Ta-Nehisi Coates said, the least angry black man in America.
That said, his accomplishments speak for themselves, but I have to say that
we cannot discount the – this is in a sense a third reconstruction, the
election of Barack Obama. This is a slave Republic that elected a black
man to be president of the United States in less than 400 years of history,
and the idea of backlash is baked into each of our reconstructions. So we
have this incredible Civil War where we kill 600,000 American citizens and
free the slaves and then you have this sort of golden era of
reconstruction that is destroyed by a backlash that is vicious and
Then you have the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, all of these
advances, these incredible social upheavals and advancements that is
followed by an intense backlash, the sense of “those people” taking away my
America and impeding on it, intruding on it.
And I think with Obama the advances in gay rights, the focus on gay rights,
the advances for
African-Americans, the kind of visibility of the advancements of these
other Americans I think it produced a backlash so that a lot of Trump
voters, this is what they wanted. They just wanted the change to a more
traditional – what they see as a traditional president. They feel they`ve
gotten what they wanted already.
HAYES: I think the enduring question, and maybe something the president
will address tonight is, how much the backlash subsumes what came before
it, in the real substantive sense, right. I mean, does the Affordable Care
Act survive? Those are the sort of – because what happened after
reconstruction and what happened after the civil rights movement were very
different in terms of the enduring nature.
MATTHEWS: The smart Republicans and smart conservatives, like Eisenhower
came in, he didn`t get rid of the New Deal. George Will once said
favorably, very positively, he said Americans are conservatives, they want
to conserve the New deal. And Churchill came in the early `50s and didn`t
get rid of national health in Britain.
HAYES: And that`s where the rubber is going to hit the road.
REID: And Paul Ryan wants to come for all of LBJ and the New Deal.
MATTHEWS: He will try, but I don`t think they`re going to succeed.
HAYES: Chris Matthews and Joy Reid, thanks for joining us tonight.
MATTHEWS: Appreciate it.
All right, don`t go anywhere. My friend and colleague Rachel Maddow will
be joining me in just a moment and she will when I am done pick up live
coverage of this historic evening and the
president`s farewell address. Don`t go anywhere.
HAYES: All right, we are just moments away from President Obama`s farewell
address, the last big speech he will give as president of the United
Joining me now for our coverage of that speech, MSNBC`s own Rachel Maddow
who, fun fact,
launched her TV show on this network just days after Barack Obama accepted
the democratic nomination for president in 2008 and has been covering his
administration ever since.
You know, Rachel, I wanted to talk to you – I was thinking about you
today, because your show, your position hosting the show that you host sort
of perfectly aligns with the arc of basically the Obama presidency, just a
You`ve watched American politics transform, you`ve watched American
politics go crazy sometimes. What is your takeaway? What is your
characterization? How will history understand the Obama era?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW”: You know, Chris, it
is – thank
you for putting it that way, that makes me feel more important than I am,
it has to be said. But I remember picking out the graphic treatments, what
the backgrounds would look like and stuff for this show off my Blackberry
while I was at the convention that eventually nominated him to be the
Democratic nominee for president. And I remember at that convention one of
the controversies was that he was too small “p” popular, that he gave that
big nomination speech, accepting the nomination on a stage that people felt
was too grand, that there was too big a crowd, that the stadium was too
large, that the event made too big a deal of him.
And there`s been this question over his presidency about whether he is
almost too transcendent a figure, you know, but we just went through the
process of picking his successor and the two phenomenons of that were
Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. They were the two big surprises, right,
in part because of the ginormous crowds they were able to conjure whenever
they spoke, crowds that other Americans didn`t seem to understand, but
people who were absolutely motivated by their physical presence who turned
out by the tens of thousands.
Seeing Barack Obama leave this way, this is so unlike the way other
presidents end their terms in office. This isn`t what farewell addresses
usually look like. Nobody speaks in front of 20,000 people. Bill Clinton
was in the Oval Office speaking for seven and a half minutes, you know,
that`s kind of more typical.
He`s going out in a big way. He came in in a big way, and that was part of
what people had a hard time with about him. But I think he`s made us
redefine the way we connect to politicians. It`s not always good, and when
you see in the visage of other people who also move people in these similar
ways, these very populist ways, you see sort of its power and the way that
it can be scary.
But it`s – you know, he`s a different type of presence. He`s a different
type of connector between people and to people in a way that I think none
of us will forget covering him.
HAYES: You know, I think that`s an important point, because I think it was
easy in some ways at points during his presidency to lose sight of that
fact to lose sight of, for lack of a better word, just his sheer political
talent, his sheer communicative talent, which is – I think independent of
his politics or substantive achievement I think ranks at the very top of
the list of American political figures in our nation`s history. I think
that`s not even that controversial an assessment.
And it was easy to lose sight of that at various moments, and in some ways
I found myself thinking about that in these final days because what he was
able to pull off politically is remarkable and the election of Donald Trump
is a reminder that there was not a fundamental structural change in some
ways that happened in America. In some ways, this particular unique figure
was able to pull off things that maybe someone else could not have.
MADDOW: That`s right. And I think one of the things that you and I have
talked a lot about and covered a lot about in terms of the Obama era is the
distance between his success as a national-level politician and the success
of the Democratic Party.
HAYES: That`s right.
MADDOW: I mean, when he came in in 2008, my god did he have coattails, you
know, and we`re seeing all these parallels to it now, and lack of
parallels, right. We`ve got – he was so incredibly popular when he came
in. He came in with 60 Democratic senators and that big Democratic majority
in the House just barnstormed into Washington with an incredible,
incredible political power.
HAYES: Rachel, I`m going to interject for just one moment because I want
to let the viewers see that is the first family of course, the first
grandmother of the United States, the Obama girls are
coming in, the vice president and his wife Jill Biden and the first lady of
the United States, Michelle Obama. They`ve just got a round of applause.
It`s my understanding the president of the United States is now in that
building and momentarily we are anticipating the national anthem, sorry.
But yes, there was such a broad expanse that grew up between the fates of
this individual politician and the party that he was the head of.
MADDOW: That`s right. He got reelected in 2012, but meanwhile over the
course of his presidency Democrats lost the House, lost the Senate, lost
state legislatures all across the country, got absolutely outmaneuvered in
terms of all other levels of political power while he stayed not only in
office, but now is leaving office with an incredibly positive approval
rating and is the most respected
man in America,if you believe the polling.
So his journey in so many ways, for better and for worse, but I think that
he`ll go down in history as both a consequential and excellent president
viewed from the very beginning of the country until now. I think his
economic record alone in terms of saving us from the great depression, if
that`s the only thing you knew about him, even if he hadn`t been the first
African-American president doing it, that along will put him in the top 10
presidents in U.S. history, and nothing else that anybody says about him,
or nothing else that happens via successor will ever change that.
HAYES: We`ll now take the national anthem and Rachel Maddow, my friend
and colleague will pick up coverage on the other side.
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