All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 1/27/2017
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: January 27, 2017
Guest: Jeff Merkley, Ilhan Omar, Jennifer Rubin, Sarah Kliff
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: It sure beats losing the battle of objective
truth by a shutout. That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES”, starts right now.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What`s crucial for me is for
the public to understand that Obamacare`s a disaster, OK?
HAYES: President Trump takes action to undercut healthcare enrollment.
TRUMP: I do believe we`ll going to have a much better plan.
HAYES: But a new leaked audio, Republicans wonder if their repeal will
pull the rug out from under people. Then –
TRUMP: That goes to the promise of extreme vetting, totally extreme.
HAYES: The President`s totally extreme moves to restrict immigration and
refugees. Plus, Masha Gessen on the reality of living among alternative
DAVID MUIR, ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT ANCHOR: What you have presented so far
has been debunked. It`s been called false –
TRUMP: No, it hasn`t.
HAYES: What Van Halen has to do with the British Prime Minister`s visit.
And the Vice President attends a D.C. demonstration.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Trump actually
asked me to be here with you today.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts, right now.
HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. There is a lot going
on tonight. Just over a year and a month since candidate Trump called for
and I quote here, “a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering United
States.” President Trump, today, signed an executive order aimed at
fulfilling at least part of that goal. Hewing closely to the rhetoric of
banning entry to the United States based on country of origin and possibly
even religion, here is the President today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic
terrorists out of the United States of America. We don`t want them here.
We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very
threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. And this is the protection of
the nation from foreign terrorist entities into the United States. We all
know what that means, protection of the nation from foreign terrorist`s
entry into the United States. Big stuff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The administration did not release the lengthy, complicated
executive order until hours after the signing, but it suspends the issuance
of visas and other immigration benefits to people from “countries of
particular concern.” Countries designated in a prior law by Congress as
Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The executive order
also stops the refugee program all together for all refugees from anywhere
for four months pending review, and installs an indefinite ban on Syrian
refugees. But, it makes special allowances for victims of persecution who
are part of a minority religion in that country, a carve-out that would
apply to, for instance, Christian refugees in Muslim-majority countries.
The State Department in a statement said, it is working with the
Departments of Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services to put the
executive order into effect. Reaction from lawmakers has already been
harsh. Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer tweeting, “there are tears
running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty tonight.” Congressman
Seth Moulton of Massachusetts saying in this statement, “President Trump is
leading our country out of fear instead of facts. His executive orders
banning refugees and immigrants from some Muslim-majority countries in the
United States, plays right into the hands of our enemies. I am ashamed he
is our President.”
Refugee centered organizations like; Amnesty International, Capital Release
Services, and the International Rescue Committee have expressed grave
concern with the executive order. Amnesty International USA saying in a
statement, “This puts anti-Muslim bigotry into policy and is eerily
reminiscent of the kinds of religious discrimination we`ve documented in
countries like China and Iran. The executive order President Trump issued
today is cruel, inhumane, and violates international law.”
Joining me now MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent, Ari Melber, and it`s great
to have you here because all of us have been franticly attempting to work
our way through what is very complicated – let me just say immigration law
like the craziest, most complicated area of law.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Swiss cheese.
HAYES: Let`s just break it down quickly. There`s one component which is
visas. Right? What`s going on in the visa front?
MELBER: This is suspending visas in the way that people would normally be
cleared to come in, based on a host of considerations. So, the main thing
here, the biggest power here is that it`s completely temporarily suspending
immigration from that list of countries you mentioned.
HAYES: And that means grad students, med students, doctors, engineers in
an oil field in Houston who`s coming over from, say, Iraq.
HAYES: All of it.
MELBER: So, as a first step it`s not vetting of any kind extreme or lax.
It`s shutting the door to those countries. This has been pointed out by
others and I`ll stress it here, the opening provisions. The starting
language of this thing says, we have to worry about immigration given 9/11.
And this doesn`t do anything with regard to the home countries of the
attackers on 9/11 of Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Egypt. Doesn`t touch those
countries in any way. What it does go on to do is, as you mentioned, take
down those seven countries. What is a clever legal strategy here that
might actually really matter is those countries are based on a law that
cited them in a different context but cited them as dangerous, it`s a law
that Congress passed and the President Obama signed. It was a law that
basically said, you could have a waiver of the normal the visa requirements
if you were from a favored country like, say, England, but if you stopped
in a dangerous place like Syria or Iraq you don`t get your waiver anymore.
HAYES: I see.
MELBER: And they`ve taken that list – that sort of a danger list. And
now, they`re saying, hey, if you come from that country, you don`t get in
HAYES: So, I want to be, like, really clear here, right? Because this is
not, you know, what the President when he`s running, called for, is a
temporary ban on all Muslims coming into the country. This is not that.
HAYES: And almost certainly, would not have been held up in court, I
think. There`s a general feeling.
MELBER: We heard from many constitutional experts who said it probably
would not, but that`s unknown and there have been times if you go back far
enough, not President; that are popular. If you go back far enough, there
were restrictions on Catholics and on Jews if you go back far enough.
HAYES: OK. And finally, here, refugees. Indefinite ban on all Syrian
refugees which is the place that is producing the most refugees in the
world right now. It`s a maelstrom of unceasing horror, and a ban – form
of a ban on all refugees everywhere.
MELBER: Correct. This is a suspension of the entire refugee program. So,
it`s saying, even people who are the facing discrimination, the type of
people the United States usually prioritize to some degree, because of what
they were up against. Nothing for a while, while they put this review on
and nothing from Syria at all. That is – that again, that`s a slam door.
And so, what you see in this as well is opening the door to further bans,
because it says in this new order, that the DHS and the Secretary of State
can then propose new countries.
OK. Donald Trump, if you`re watching, because I know sometimes you watch.
What he may decide is, Oh! Wait, I can add to that. As I understand this
helps me so, if I heard; Oh, maybe I should ban Saudi Arabia. Well, the
DHS can do that. I`m not suggesting that, I`m not making a policy
recommendation one way or the other to the President. But this is an order
MELBER: – That basically gives a lot of power in the executive to do
this. The reason why I thought that a religious ban which is important is,
as I mentioned, it uses other criteria.
MELBER: It does mention things like honor killings in its preamble.
MELBER: But we have to be fair, this is not a religious test as written.
HAYES: All right, Ari Melber, thank you very much.
MELBER: Thank you.
HAYES: Joining me now, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. And Senator, the
argument that the preamble of the text of this executive order made by
proponents of the President`s policy is that basically better safe than
sorry. We care about America and American lives and you just don`t know.
You got to be careful with these folks. What do you say to that?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Well Chris, Lady Liberty is crying tonight.
They – she didn`t say give me your poor, and your tired, and your huddled
masses yearning to be free. Only if they are this religion or that
religion, or this ethnicity or that ethnicity, and we really know that the
most vetted group coming to the United States are our refugees. They go
through a two-year process, and blocking out women, and children, and
interpreters, who have enhanced our National Security abroad is really a
mistaken direction to go.
Meanwhile, it`s going to throw into chaos the visa waiver program with
Europe. All these European nations, all the five of the European Union
come here under the visa waiver. They only can come under that program
with the highest passport requirements, including a biometric information
and coded into a chip in the – in the visa or in the passport. So, it`s a
– it`s been a very successful system that has allowed the flow of
individuals from Europe to the United States and some other nations as
well. That`s kind of going through chaos, and that`s before we get to this
– basically, this assault on Muslims.
HAYES: What do you say to those who`ve Ari Melber said that, you know,
this is very carefully crafted to not specify a religion. In fact, there`s
two things going on: one is that it`s a set of countries, all the countries
are Muslim majority. Another portion of the executive order says, there
will be preference given on the religious people – victims of religious
persecution, if those people are minorities – religious minorities in a
country that`s a majority other religion. You can imagine, say, Coptic
Christians or Syrian Christians. What do you say to those who say, look,
this was crafted so it doesn`t actually use Islam or religion as a test?
MERKLEY: Clearly, those who are lawyers have gone through this, to try to
find a foundation on which they can pass a constitutional test. But
understand this, this ban on folks coming from the seven Islamic countries.
Primarily, Islamic countries is going to be perceived much as the NSEERS
program was previously, as a previous program that didn`t result in a
single prosecution. It was terribly ineffective, in terms of detecting
anyone who wanted to do our country harm. But what it did very well was
offend the entire Islamic world and feed in to the ISIS rhetoric, in which
they are essentially saying the United States wants to conduct a war on
Islam. So, we`re going to conduct a war on them. So, this really feeds
those fires and dangers our National Security.
HAYES: There is a bunch of people noting today, that today is Holocaust
Memorial Day. I saw the Czech – former Czech Ambassador, Andy Shapiro,
tweeting his I believe mother`s visa into this country that saved her from
mass murder in Germany when she was a Jew. Do you think you have the
better side of the political argument when you are making a moral case for
why America has some moral responsibility to take in people fleeing the
ravages of war?
MERKLEY: I`ll tell you, it`s been so fundamental in our history. We are a
nation of immigrants, unless, you`re 100 percent Native American. We all
came through the process of immigration, our parents, grandparents, etc.
And it`s been that mixture that has really been a tremendous strength of
America, and so, for us to now say we`re not going to look at the problems
of the world and admit those who are troubled. Well none of – virtually,
none of us would be here if that were the case, so, when our ancestors
And so, I feel it really grates of all from the religious side, non-
discrimination, freedom of religion of the United States. And it also goes
against the grain of what has made America very strong, and so, all of that
and then you throw in the fact that this strategy is going to be a major
source of recruitment for terrorists around the world. So, it`s a complete
set. You asked me about the politics of it, I don`t know about the
politics of it. But I know it goes against our fundamental principles and
makes us in a more dangerous place.
HAYES: All right. Senator Jeff Merkley, thanks for your time tonight.
MERKLEY: Thank you.
HAYES: Joining me now, Representative – State Representative, Ilhan Omar.
Representative, first I want to just ground this in you and your story.
You, yourself are refugee. Can you just explain to us the circumstances
under which you came to this country?
REP. ILHAN OMAR (DFL), MINNESOTA: Hi, Chris. Yes, I am a refugee. My
family arrived here from Somalia, via Kenya in 1995. After spending four
years in the refugee camp and going through an extensive vetting process to
HAYES: What – I guess the context that I wonder if you could illuminate
is, what would push a family to leave the place that they live in and love
and go into, say, a camp and try to come to this country?
OMAR: Yes, I mean, the circumstances my family ended up leaving our home
country was because there was a civil war, and it was no longer safe for us
to be in that country. And so, we fled and seek refuge in Kenya and
entered a refugee camp in Mombasa. And after a long time in the refugee
camp we were fortunate enough to get the opportunity to resettle here in
the United States through the refugee resettlement program that the
Lutheran services provided.
HAYES: That all refugees entered the country, if I`m reading this order
correctly has been suspended immediately for four months. All Syrian
refugees from the sort of worst civil war in the world happening right now,
has been suspended indefinitely. What`s your response to those actions?
OMAR: It`s really sad and disappointing. And it`s – you know, it goes
against the fundamentals of, I think, what our nation stands for, for us to
create a Muslim ban, essentially, for refugees coming from Muslim-dominated
countries. I think would go against what we believe to be our foundations
of being a welcoming country, where we allow strangers to come seek new
opportunities and to see themselves as part of the American foundation and
to seek their American dream.
It`s also, you know, important for us to note that many of the people that
this particular executive order bans are coming from countries that the
United States foreign policy has contributed in destabilizing their
countries. And they`re living under a civil war that we`ve aided in
helping them seek a democratic nation. And for us to turn their back on
them right now, I think it`s sad, disappointing, and every American who
believes that furthering democracy in the world is a value we all believe
and should stand up and voice their opposition and concern to this
It is really important for us to recognize that extremism does not have a
religion. It doesn`t have a nation, it doesn`t live in one continent.
Here in the United States, we face extremism every single day and we are
facing more of a threat from a lone gunman that goes into a school and
shoots up young children. We face more of a threat from a lone gunman who
goes into a movie theater and shoots up people enjoying an evening,
watching movies. And so, we have to realize that what this executive ban
does is to create a divide, exploit the fear that we have, and the
ignorance that we have of people of a different faith, of different
nationality and that is un-American to me.
I came here because my dad and grandfather believed in the American
exceptionalism of coming to a country that was very welcoming and that`s a
country of immigrants unless you are a native American. We all have a
history of being immigrants to this country and that is sort of the
founding principles. You know, there`s a saying that America is a place
that is supposed to welcome everyone.
HAYES: All right, Representative Omar. I appreciate your time tonight,
thank you very much.
OMAR: Thank you so much.
HAYES: Up next from behind closed doors, Republicans worry, even freak out
a little bit, about their promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare.
Leaked audio gives a fascinating look, to how the right is trying to
grabble with their next steps. That story after this two-minute break.
HAYES: Tonight, two major setbacks for Republican efforts to repeal and
replace the Affordable Care Act, a key priority of the new administration;
certainly, the new congress. First, the Trump administration had planned
to pull the plug on all Obamacare outreach and advertising in the crucial
final days of the 2017 enrollment season. Sources at HHS and on the Hill,
told political, even if ads had already been paid for. But after outcry
from supporters of Obamacare patient advocates, and insurers; they`re
reversing course. Deciding to continue public outreach for the last few
days of open enrollment.
We should note this is the first big win, really, for Obamacare supporters
in the early days of the new administration. This comes after the
“Washington Post” obtained an audio recording of a closed-door planning
session at the GOP`s retreat. Revealing a party in chaos behind the scenes
plagued by doubts about the way forward, “we better be sure that we`re
prepared to live with the market we`ve created with repeals” said
Congressman, Tom McClintock of California. “That`s going to be called Trump
care, Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel and will be judged
in the election two years away.”
Another Congressman raised concerns about using the ACA repeal, to defund
planned parenthood. “We are just walking into a giant political trap if we
go down this path of sticking planned parenthood in the health insurance
bill” said, John Faso, a freshman Congressman from New York. “If you want
to do it somewhere else, I have no problem but I think we are creating a
political minefield for ourselves” - House and Senate.
Republicans in Congress are now learning the same lessons their Democratic
counterparts learned eight years ago; governing is hard, especially when it
comes to health policy. Though, Donald Trump has managed to rewrite many
of the rules previously governing the political universe, at least on this
subject, gravity still exists.
Joining me now, Sara Cliff, Senior Policy Correspondent at “Vox”; Jennifer
Rubin, Columnist on “Washington Post” who writes “The Right Turn” blog.
And Jennifer, let me start with you. What I – what I – it was
fascinating, this is great get by, I should say, by Mike DeBonis over the
“Washington Post”. It sounds like that, you know, the proverbial dog that
caught the car, right? It`s like, what do we do now? And it has been, I
have to know, seven years to work on a replacement plan and just waking up
to the thicket of the politics, it`s sort of astonishing.
JENNIFER RUBIN, WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Yes, I have been one of the
lone voices that said, that Republicans were digging themselves a big hole.
First of all, they have overpromised to the moon. They were going to make
it cheaper, and better, and more choices. This is not dish soap this is
health care, and there`s only so many things you can do.
Then Donald Trump doubled down and said, he was going to give health care
coverage to everyone. That sounds like universal coverage not just access,
so they set the bar high and they really have not thought this through.
You`re exactly right, Chris. They never thought they were going to win the
presidency. They`ve been at this for seven years. They don`t have a
single plan. I was like, kind of, reassured by hearing them behind closed
doors because they`re saner in private than in public.
And Paul Ryan, has essentially been lying to the American people and lying
to his members saying, oh, we`re all on the same page – we`re on the same
page with Trump. Trump doesn`t have a page, he doesn`t have a book, he
doesn`t have a library. Poor Paul Ryan, you know, he has to fake it and
this blows the cover on the fact that these people are all over the map.
Of course, they are, there is no perfect solution and what`s more? At the
end of the day they`ll have to get eight Democratic Senators? They can`t
even get themselves on the same page.
HAYES: Well, that`s – that`s a great point about the filibuster. If
there`re certain things they can do in reconciliation, but they can`t –
they can`t create a new healthcare system through reconciliation. And
Sarah, you know, there`s the politics of this also. Is there any policy
consensus? I mean, you got Ryan Paul says, look, we got to come out with
something, he comes out with his own bill. It is, you know, it`s what you
would expect from a sort of, let the market decide kind of Republican.
It`s bare bones, a lot of people would probably lose their health
insurance. But it is ideologically honest. The problem is, it probably
wouldn`t be a political winner.
SARAH KLIFF, VOX SENIOR POLICY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it probably wouldn`t.
Every one of those bills that would be quite bad if there`s someone who is
sick, someone who has low income, if you`re using Obamacare right now. The
Paul plan, really, doesn`t offer you a lot. You know, to your question,
Chris, there really isn`t consensus right now. You`re seeing a lot of
different Republican plans get introduced, there`s another plan that came
out this week from two more – a more centrist plan from two Republican
Senators; the Cassidy-Collins plan. That actually let some states keep
Obamacare if they like it, and lets other states move to a different
program if they don`t. You have the Paul plan, really different from the
Cassidy-Collins plan. You have this disarray behind closed doors. So, it
reminds me like you`re saying, I have a bit of Deja vu to covering the
2009, 2010 Obamacare effort. I think the difference here is Democrats had
a clear goal in mind, they wanted to cover more people with health
KLIFF: It`s not really clear what Republicans are groping towards aside
from getting rid of the Affordable Care Act.
HAYES: Well. That is the great point. Yes, what is the plan? And
Jennifer`s point about promising the moon. I mean, you even have Sean
Spicer, I think he said, “we have a mandate to provide more – care to more
people at lower deductibles.” I thought – well, if that`s the mandate,
that`s a tough mandate to live up to. And then you have – you have also,
Sarah, to the point about sort of Deja vu, right? Status quo bias is
intense in health care, right? People, like, change is scary. It - which
ever direction. Here`s one - this is Tom McArthur in that audio, Jennifer,
saying, “we`re telling people – those people we`re not going to pull the
rug out from under them, and if we do this too fast we are in fact going to
pull the rug out from under them.”
RUBIN: Well, I think their honesty is at least refreshing and you make
another good point, Chris, which is one of the complaints about Obamacare
and the complaint that Donald Trump touted, was that the deductibles and
co-pays were too high. What are they suggesting? They`re suggesting a tax
credit that will buy you, get this, a bare bones catastrophic plan. That
is exactly what people have said they don`t want. So, I don`t know what
problem they are trying to solve.
Listen, there are problems with Obamacare and they could be addressing
them. There`re a lot of problems, and there`s a lot of questions as to
whether even these high-risk pools which they keep venerating and have
never worked, are the way to go. So, there are real problems. They
probably could sit down with Democrats and fix some of these, but
politically for them, they have painted themselves into such a tight
corner. They can`t do anything rational so that they`re going to be
irrational, and they`ll fun-fur around for I think the better part of a
year. And it may never come to anything.
HAYES: Well, Matt Lewis wrote a piece that lose concern in “The Daily
Caller” basically saying, “look, I looked into this, you should punt.”
But, let me say this, again, go back to 2009. That effort was pronounced
dead more times than I can count. So, people should be clear. Sarah, what
is your sense of how much will there is to navigate what will be very
KLIFF: So, I think there is a lot of will, as Jennifer was saying,
Republicans have really put themselves in a corner here, right? They`ve
spent seven years promising to repeal and replace Obamacare. So, I think
this punt option is quite difficult to pull off –
KLIFF: After you spent so much time talking about it. That being said, I
think this incident with the Obamacare ads was actually quite instructive
to me, that this is a relatively small thing. It was small, it`s political
but there was such a backlash to taking away ads.
Imagine the backlash to taking away health insurance for millions of
people. Like you were saying, it`s so hard to rip anything out by the
roots and we`re just talking about advertisements, we`re not talking about
people`s health coverage.
HAYES: It`s a great – It`s a great – but I remember when I covered the
ACA fight when I was in D.C., as a Washington of the nation. It was
amazingly how powerful that was. Just change, is terrifying when you`re
talking about people`s doctors, and their care, and their grandparents, and
things like that. And that`s true for anyone who has even the greatest
plan in the world, terribly true if you don`t have a plan. Sarah Kliff and
Jennifer Rubin, thank you very much.
KLIFF: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, President Donald Trump repeatedly making claims that are
factually inaccurate in order to support his own narrative. A prime
example of that, right after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Right now, too many families don`t feel secure. Just look at the
30 largest cities. In the last year alone, the murder rate has increased
by an estimated 14 percent. Here in Philadelphia, the murder rate has been
steady – I mean, just terribly increasing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Over the past 24 hours, the President has gotten a lot of flak,
from the city of Philadelphia for that statement because it`s not true.
The murder rate in the City of Brotherly Love, has not been “terribly
increasing.” In fact, about four years ago, Philly`s murder rate fell to
its lowest level in 30 years, pretty much steady ever since then. And if
you listen closely, it really almost sounds like Trump`s teleprompter
wanted him to say the truth, that the murder rate had been steady before he
just decided to take some creative license.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Here in Philadelphia the murder rate has been steady – I mean,
just terribly increasing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: By now, we`ve all become accustomed to assuming that any statement
by the President – to not assuming that any statement by the President is
factual. But his view of life in America`s cities fits a particularly
Consider his tweets about John Lewis`s district in Atlanta, saying it was,
“In horrible shape and falling apart, not to mention crime infested.”
Georgia`s fifth Congressional district is not crime infested. In fact, the
Atlanta Journal Constitution captured with this front-page. Or how about
the White House web site where on day one of his presidency, Trump`s team
wrote that “In our nation`s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent.”
That was also not really true. A homicide rate in D.C. had risen 50
percent. That was also not really true. The homicide rate in D.C. had
risen 50 percent two years ago, but actually fell last year by about 17
The language on the White House website has since been changed.
And perhaps the greatest examples of Trump`s urban crime exaggerations and
over-simplifications is the city of Chicago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It`s horrible carnage. This is Afghanistan is not like what`s
happening in Chicago. People are being shot left and right. Thousands of
people over a short period of time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Chicago has become a kind of short hand both for the president and
for many people who share his world view for a kind of urban war zone. The
reality of that is much, much more complicated. And so we`re headed there
next week to hear from the people of Chicago in a special town hall event.
That`s next Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you have presented so far has been debunked. It`s
been called false.
TRUMP: No, it hasn`t. Take a look at the Pew reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I called the author of the Pew report last night and he
told me they found no evidence of voter fraud.
TRUMP: Really? Then why did he write the report?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said no evidence of voter fraud.
TRUMP: Excuse me, then why did he write the report? According to Pew
report, then he`s groveling again. You know, I always talk about the
reporters that grovel when they want to write something that you want to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The country is slowly adjusting to the reality that the new
president often says things that are not true. And when he`s corrected he
continues to say things that are not true. When he`s corrected again, he
cites sources that are widely debunked or widely discredited.
From things as small as what the like what the weather was like on election
day and how big the crowds were, to things as large as whether or not there
was a massive voter fraud conspiracy to try and stop him from being
It is truly uncharted territory for American democracy. But other
countries have been dealing with both passive and active disinformation
campaigns for years. It just so happens one of those countries is none
other than Vladimir Putin`s Russia. And someone who has seen Putin use
firsthand, Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen, author of The Man
Without a Face: the Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.
What do you make of this first week? This is something he did do as a
candidate, but I think there`s something different when it`s, like, the
authority of the state behind it at some level.
MASHA GESSEN, JOURNALIST: Well, what I make of this. First, if I can just
mention that the biggest thing to me is when I came to this country on a
refugee visa 35 years ago and I feel sick.
HAYES: You came here as a refugee?
GESSEN: I came here as a refugee from the Soviet Union 35 years ago. You
know, I wouldn`t have happened if I hadn`t been give a visa.
HAYES: Some of the most incredible people I know – actually that`s true -
- have came as refugees from the Soviet Union.
GESSEN: So – but getting to your question, it`s – yeah, it`s familiar.
And it`s disorienting. Because what he`s doing is he is first of all, he`s
using language to assert power. He`s basically saying “I`m going to say
whatever I want to say and it is going to be what I want it to be whether
you like it or not.”
And we`re not equipped for dealing with that because what do you say to a
person who will insist on saying that blue is red? After you have
demonstrated it is still blue.
But he`s also stripping words of their meaning. It`s like nothing is
anymore and we`re living in it.
HAYES: So, how do you deal with it? I mean I think that there`s – people
– there`s the fact check thing. And we just did it. And I will say this,
like, this is a small thing. It`s a small thing, but the White House got
the statistics on Washington, D.C. wrong on the first day. It was pointed
out. They did change it to make it a plausibly fact checkable claim. And
there`s some small part of me that thinks okay, well good, that`s how it
GESSEN: Well, it`s a small part of how it should go. I mean, fact
checking doesn`t go far enough. We really have to learn to tell this
story of what this man is and what he`s doing.
And just fact checking everything he says doesn`t quite go far enough. I
mean, I think we have to understand sort of the power play. We have to
understand the aesthetics of using language so that it turns into mush. We
have to keep writing the bigger story and keep trying to understand the
HAYES: Can I ask you this? I have you on. You`re one of my favorite
guests. You`re a phenomenal writer for anyone that has not read Masha`s
work, it`s – you`re an exceptional writer.
Is there any chance that you`re overreading the Putin analogy, right, like
that you have this experience. It`s very intense, very profound and very
distinct and there`s so many analogies that you`re importing it in places
where it doesn`t work.
GESSEN: Maybe I should just write another story about all the differences
between them, because the differences between them are huge. And they`re
not men who are alike.
One is hugely emotional. He`s raw. He`s forceful. The other one actually
prides himself on never expressing an emotion.
HAYES; One of them also is a hard man who has probably killed people, many
people. The other is a soft man who has almost certainly not.
GESSEN: Well, that`s probably about to change with the refugee ban he`s
just put in place.
HAYES: Fair point.
GESSEN: But you`re right. I mean, emotionally their makeup is very
And certainly historically their legacy is completely different. So I
don`t mean to say that they are alike, what I mean to say is that they`re
kindred spirits. And there`s some ways, some things that he`s doing that
many autocrats have done all over the world. I happen to know this one
very well, so I can–
HAYES: It is a broader tool of using power as the means to create the
terms of reality.
GESSEN: Right, it`s gaslighting is probably one of the best terms for it.
And you no longer feel like you`re on solid ground. And another thing, and
this is something that actually we need to start sort
of waking up to, it creates this state that I think we`ve all been living
in for the last week, the state of constant low-level dread. And you
can`t really function in that state.
You know, you can just barely manage to go to work and pick up your
children from day care, but you can`t plan for the future.
HAYES: I`m laughing because it`s such an accurate characterization.
GESSEN: And this is something that places ranging from interment camps to
totalitarian countries to people traffickers have done all over the world
for years. We know how this stuff works. We`ve just never seen somebody
become the American president and use it.
HAYES: All right, Masha Gessen, as I said, you should always check out our
work. Thank you for your time tonight, appreciate it.
Still ahead, the annual March for Life draws its highest ranking official
in its history today. Who that was ahead.
But, first, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Van Halen, that`s
tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starting right after this break.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, the lesson from Van Halen`s infamous brown M&M`s
contract writer by way of the British Prime Minister`s visit. To the White
As you may know, big time touring acts are notorious for making ridiculous
backstage requests at concert venues. But in the case of Van Halen`s 1982
Diver Down, Hide Your Sheep Tour, the band was running with the devil in
This is page 40 of Van Halen`s rider, that concern tour. In the food
requirement section you`ll see there`s an area titled munchies. And the
band asked for M&Ms but includes in all caps underline warning “absolutely
no brown ones.”
Now the story is a legendary tale of spoiled rock star prima donnas at
their worst. Nso brown M&Ms. But there`s more to it than that. Lead
singer David Lee Roth explained years later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LEE ROTH, SINGER: I had them place a clause that just out of the
middle of nowhere it would say, for example, there will be 12 amper high
voltage sockets placed at 15 foot intervals not to exceed the load bearing
et cetera et cetera and then just out of the middle of nowhere said there
will be no brown M&Ms in the backstage area or the promoter will forfeit
the show at full price.
What was the point? If I came backstage having been one of the architects
of this lighting and staging design and I saw brown M&Ms on the catering
table then guaranteed the promoter had not read the contract rider and we
had to do a serious line check, because frequently we had danger issues or
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The brown M&Ms were a ruse to make sure promoters were paying
careful attention because if they don`t pay attention to the small stuff
you better expect they`ll screw up the big stuff.
So what does all this have to do with the prime minister`s visit to the
White House? That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Rock Band Van Halen is notorious for making a very specific snack
food request on tour, M&Ms but no brown ones. And it was actually just a
ploy designed by the band`s lead singer to make sure promoters read all the
important safety and technical instructions in the rider. If he saw brown
M&Ms he knew they hadn`t read it carefully and they`d better find out what
other important stuff they`d missed, too.
So, what can this teach us about the new White House? Well, UK Prime
May went to the White House today, President Trump`s first visit for from a
foreign leader. As is customary, the administration released an official
schedule ahead of her arrival.
There was one small problem with the document, Prime Minister May`s first
name was spelled wrong, leaving out the “h.” No big deal except that
Theresa May without the “h” is famous in the UK. She`s a former adult film
star and model who was certainly/probably not visiting Donald Trump at the
White House this week.
And this is Theresa May with an “h”, prime minister of the United Kingdom.
It`s just a typo. I`ve made them myself, of course, you could say, but
like the brown M&Ms it`s also a signal, somebody isn`t paying enough
attention. And the White House is dealing with issues much, much more
important than the lighting at a rock concert.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you hear the voices from the Women`s March here
in Washington? We know there were more than a million people who turned
out and you are their president now, too.
TRUMP: That`s true.
UNIDENTIIFED MALE: Could you hear them from the White House?
TRUMP: No, I couldn`t hear them but the crowds were large but you`re going
to have a large crowd on Friday, too, which is mostly pro-life people.
(END VIDEO CLP)
HAYES: When asked about last week`s Women`s March on Washington, President
Trump was quick to point out that, quote, “a lot of people”would be
attending today`s annual March for Life, which is widely considered the
biggest anti-abortion event of the year.
And while tens of thousands of people showed up to march, there was one
attendee who made history becoming the highest ranking official to ever
address the rally in person in its 44 year history.
We`ll tell you who that is next.
HAYES: For the first time the history of the March for Life, a sitting
vice president addressed the crowd. And while the thousands of abortion
protesters gathered in the mall agreed with Mike Pence`s position, the
majority of the country at this point does not appear to.
According to recent polling, nearly 60 percent of the country says abortion
should be legal in all or most cases, 70 percent of Americans polled
support Roe V. Wade, the very law today`s marchers were protesting.
And now, the sitting vice president is an ardent abortion foe, a man who
when he was in congress began the push to defund Planned Parenthood and
who, as governor of Indiana, signed every anti-abortion bill that crossed
his desk, including one that was so restrictive a federal judge blocked it.
A man who today who promised the new administration will appoint an anti-
abortion Supreme Court Justice. An anti-abortion march that has for
decades largely been symbolic may finally be on the precipice of its
Joining me now, Charlie Sykes, MSNBC contributor, editor of Write
Wisconsin; Jess McIntosh, Democratic strategic.
Charlie, I`ll begin with you. I mean, one of the things that`s so bizarre
about this is that I don`t think anyone believes that Donald Trump believes
that Roe V. Wade should be overturned or opposes abortion. Do you?
CHARLIE SYKES, WRITE WISCONSIN: No. And by the way, I was very, very
skeptical of his position. I have got to lay it out right here that I`m a
pro-life Catholic, so I`m pleasantly surprised by some of this. However, I
did not think during the campaign that he was going to take this aggressive
pro-life position., but he certainly has.
Having said that, this is going to be a very problematic alliance for the
pro-life movement. I am not sure that they really expect or ought to
expect that Roe V. Wade is going to be overturned any time soon. So
they`re going to have to take their victories, but I don`t think that that
is really within reach.
HAYES: That`s an interesting question, because I think Jess probably
disagrees with that.
JESS MCINTOSH, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I mean, their agenda has been
to overturn Roe V. Wade and ban abortion for as long as they have been –
for the last 40 years.
HAYES: Yeah, since Roe V. Wade basically.
MCINTOSH: Since Roe V. Wade since 1973.
So now they find themselves in control with with the ability to do that, a
president who – I mean, he`s been on the wrong side of both – he`s been
on both wrong sides of this issue for the Republican base. He went too far
saying that women ought to be punished if they were going to have
abortions. And, of course, he said that he was pro choice long ago.
HAYES: Yeah, let me just – can I just play that for a second just so
people can ground it in the
the fact that like – it`s remarkable, because this is such an important
issue. It`s so central. It`s so fought over for deeply passionate
reasons. And the president of the United States, this is him in 1999.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would President Trump ban partial-birth abortion?
TRUMP: Well, look, I`m very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion.
I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to
people debating the subject.
But you still – I just believe in choice. And, again, it may be a little
bit of a New York background because there is some different attitude in
different parts of the country and I was raised in
New York and grew up and work and everything else in New York City. But I
am strongly for choice and yet I hate the concept of abortion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: He`s going to appoint a Supreme Court Justice who almost certainly
will be opposed to Roe V. Wade.
MCINTOSH: The man made very few concrete promises during his campaign,
that was one of them.
I expect – I think that we ought to be taking him at his word wherever he
says a thing. So, I take him at his word on this.
This is going to be really interesting, because the Republican Party has
been using this issue to rile its base up without worrying about what it
does to moderates and to non-Republicans, non-base
voters. Seven in 10 Americans do not want Roe V. Wade overturned. They
believe that abortion should be legal and up to a woman and her doctor.
When they take that away, those numbers are going to mean something.
HAYES: I had a – Charlie, I had a prominent – back when I was reporting
in D.C. during the final years of the Bush years, I had a prominent
Republican strategist say if you got Karl Rove in a room and gave him truth
serum and said do you want a Republican president to appoint a justice who
overturns Roe V. Wade he would tell you no, I do not want that because of
precisely Jess`s point about what the political ramifications could be.
SYKES: Oh, absolutely. I completely agree with that, which is why I think
there are a lot of people in the pro-life movement who understand that the
future ought to be changing people`s hearts and minds. Let`s – let us not
take away people`s rights because that, of course, would be about the most
divisive thing you can possibly can.
By the way, I would also hope that you realize a lot of these people who
are out there might be campaigning for the right to life, but they`re not
necessarily going to be all in on this Trump agenda. They`re going to be a
lot of contradictions. And I think it is worth focusing on the full
continuum of life.
So, you know, how many of the people there who are campaigning for the
right to life are going to be all in, for example, on the ban of refugees
or on various things that might make health care less pro parent, pro
family? Those are contradictions that are worth talking about and dealing
HAYES: I should note this. The March for Life, my grandparents would go
every year. My grandparents, who you would not think of – conservative
Catholics, you would not think of them as protesters in any way. They
would go every year. It was – their church group would go. It is a
and tradition for a lot – particularly for a Catholic churches that have
views that don`t support Donald Trump in a lot of areas.
But to me it`s also a question of there`s also, Jess, a suspicion on the
part of Republicans that they will be screwed when it comes to Supreme
Court Justices. And because Donald Trump doesn`t
have any trust to bank on, it makes me think he needs to choose someone
whose bona fides are totally unquestionable that will be the most obvious
anti-Roe vote imaginable.
MCINTOSH: I think he will go too far. I think that he will pick the most
obvious anti-Roe vote. He doesn`t understand the anti-choice movement. He
doesn`t have those principles. So he gets it wrong.
A lot of the women marching at the March for Life, like Charlie was saying,
I agree completely believe in life across the board. They are pro-
immigrant. They are not going to like the fact that if we have a global
gag rule, women who have been raped as a tool of war, will die because they
are going to
self-induce an abortion.
That`s not what the anti-choice movement in America is about. They are
going to view that with
a lot more sympathy than I think Donald Trump would assume that they would
or than somebody that
that he would put on the Supreme Court because he thinks they want.
HAYES: Thursday is going to be the day that it`s announced. And I`m
predicting the fear, Charlie, the fear of being suitored again means it`s
going to be someone who is rock solid. Charlie Sykes and Jess McIntosh,
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