All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 2/14/2017

Chris Murphy, Mike Coffman, Tom Udall, Jerrold Nadler, Philip Rucker, Eli Lake, Julia Ioffe, Chris Lu


Date: February 14, 2017

Guest: Chris Murphy, Mike Coffman, Tom Udall, Jerrold Nadler, Philip Rucker, Eli Lake, Julia Ioffe, Chris Lu


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HARDBALL HOST:  If they`re connected, don`t you

think?  Anyway, Happy Valentine`s Day.  And that`s HARDBALL for now.  And

thanks for being with us.  “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes starts right now.





Lock her up.


HAYES:  General Michael Flynn is out.



that.  I`ll look into that.


HAYES:  And President Trump is under fire.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What did the President know and when did he know it?


HAYES:  Tonight, three and a half weeks into Donald Trump`s Presidency, a

full-blown scandal in the White House.



should be where was the Department of Justice in this?


HAYES:  Tonight, new bipartisan calls for investigations.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did he just do this as a rogue General Flynn, or did it

come from somebody else in the White House?


HAYES:  Major new questions about the White House version of events.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP`S COUNSELOR:  I think misleading the Vice President

really was the key here.


HAYES:  And the same cold questions about just what happened during the



TRUMP:  Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000



HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.


Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  We are not even one month

into the Trump administration and already a major scandal exploding in

Washington, D.C.  Last night, President Trump`s National Security Advisor

Michael Flynn, who even before this scandal was intensely controversial

figure, known for his bigoted views of Islam and Muslims, handed in his

resignation after just 24 days on the job.  Today, we got the Trump

administration`s version of events.  The President asked Flynn to resign

not because of what Flynn did, which the White House says it has no problem

with, but because he had lied about it to members of the administration.




SPICER:  The level of trust between the President and General Flynn had

eroded to the point where he felt he had to make a change.  The President

was very concerned that General Flynn had misled the Vice President and





HAYES:  Here`s what happened.  On December 29th, then President Obama

announced sanctions against Russia for Russia`s alleged hacking of

democratic e-mail accounts in the Presidential Election in order to boost

President Trump`s candidacy.  That very same day, General Flynn in a move

seen at best as irregular and somewhat suspicious had multiple phone

conversations with Russia`s Ambassador to the United States.  Now, Flynn

insisted he did not discuss the sanctions with the Russian Ambassador. 

That was a claim that members of the Trump administration dutifully

repeated on television.  Among them, Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Chief of

Staff Reince Priebus and Vice President Mike Pence.





sanctions or the actions taken by the Obama administration did not come up

in the conversation.


MIKE PENCE, UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT:  They did not discuss anything

having to do with the United States` decision to expel diplomats or impose

a censure against Russia.




HAYES:  That was all false.  Those statements made to the American public,

those statements were false.  Flynn, did in fact, discuss the sanctions

with Russian Ambassador which we know due to leaks, it appears from members

of the Intelligence Community, which wiretaps foreign diplomats and which

reportedly reviewed transcripts from at least one of Flynn`s calls with the

Russian Ambassador.  The White House insists that it was Flynn`s lying that

did him in, not his decision to discuss the sanctions with the Russians in

the first place.  That story only raises more questions. 


It was over a month ago, before President Trump even took office, that the

allegations of Flynn had discussed the sanctions first surfaced.  A senior

official told the New Yorker that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

began a fact-finding exercise that same day.  The FBI soon after

interviewed Flynn himself about his conversations with the Russian

Ambassador, then, in late January, again, last month, acting Attorney

General Sally Yates who President Trump would later fire for refusing to

defend his travel ban, informed the Trump White House that Flynn had not

been truthful in his accounts of those phone calls.  Yates even reportedly

warning that the National Security Advisor to the United States was

potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail. 


So why on earth would the White House allow Flynn to remain in his job with

access to top-secret classified information until last night?  That is

question one.  Question two, why, if the White House was warned about Flynn

in January, did President Trump on Friday act as though he was completely

and totally unaware of the whole situation?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The Washington Post is reporting that he talked to

the Ambassador from Russia before you were inaugurated about sanctions,

maybe trying to -


HAYES:  Actually I haven`t seen that.  I`ll look into that.




HAYES:  That gets to our next question.  Did Flynn really act alone, as the

White House claims?  Or was he being directed by the President?  Consider

the timeline, the Obama administration announces sanctions on December

29th.  Almost immediately, the Russians vow their own countermeasures,

sanctions of their own.  Meanwhile, Flynn is discussing the sanctions with

the Russian Ambassador, and then the very next day, the Russians say,

actually, we take it back, we won`t retaliate.  And then just a few hours

later, Trump tweets out quote “Great move on delay by V. Putin.  I always

knew he was very smart.” 


The White House is currently insisting the President did not know Flynn was

discussing sanctions.  That Flynn was essentially freelancing on this

massive policy issue.  But given all we know, how credible should we find

that contention?  And that brings us to the ultimate question here.  From

the very beginning, the most scandalous allegation made against a Trump

campaign regarding Russian election interference isn`t simply the Trump

campaign gladly but tacitly accepted Russian assistance.  It`s that the

Trump campaign actively and secretly collaborated with the Russians in

their efforts.  And that allegation appears in that infamous and unverified

dossier on Trump, and it is one that people, including myself, have

rightfully been very skeptical of. 


But, the mounting evidence makes it harder and harder to dismiss out of

hand.  Flynn reportedly didn`t just talk to the Russian Ambassador after

the election.  In a little noticed but crucial detail, the Washington Post

reported the talks were part of a series of contacts between Flynn and

Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that began before the November 8th

election, which means, it is essential that someone get Flynn under oath

and figure out what exactly was going on.  I asked Senator Chris Murphy

what happens next.





need congressional investigation because the questions keep on multiplying. 

The most immediate questions are - were these communications with the

Russian Ambassador done with the blessing or at the direction of the

President?  And was Flynn in communication with the Russians during the

campaign?  And if he was, was that done with the blessing or at the

direction of the President?  The questions are multiplying, and well, it

may be that the CIA and the FBI and the Intelligence Committee are looking

at some of these things.  We have to ask these questions and get answers in

the light of day.  So republicans need to come to the table here,

recognizing that this is a threat to democracy as we know it, if we leave

these questions unanswered and convene a bipartisan process.


HAYES:  So when you talk about a bipartisan process, as of now, there are

investigations that are called through the respective standing committees

on the House and Senate side and the Intelligence Committees.  Do you think

that there`s a need for some kind of special committee, some sort of

special vehicle created particularly to investigate this?


MURPHY:  I think we do need a special vehicle.  My worry with the

intelligence committee is multi-fold.  One, Senator Burr of the Senate

Intelligence Committee has already said that they don`t have the

jurisdiction to look into the connections that Flynn had with the Russians,

so that`s already a compromised investigation.  And second, the

intelligence committee really can`t release a lot of their findings

publicly because of the way in which they solicit and glean information. 

So, a process that happens between the Armed Services Committee, the

Intelligence Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee is one that`s

going to much more likely have the results available for the public.  Now,

some of the way in which it gets information have to - might have to remain

classified, but at least the hearings will be done in the light of day. 

That`s not going to happen in the Intelligence Committee.


HAYES:  So, I want to talk about two things you mentioned.  So there are

two aspects to what`s unfolded in the last 36 hours with General Flynn. 

One of the underlying infraction which is a conversation with the Russian

Ambassador that touched on the sanctions being put in place by the U.S.

government in response to the alleged hacking as concluded by our

intelligence agencies.  The second there are - is the dissembling about

that.  Let`s start with that first phone call.  Why is it not OK for the

incoming National Security Advisor designate to have a contact with the

Russian official on this day to say, “Hey, listen, don`t do anything crazy,

we`re going to be in power in a little bit and we`ll deal with things



MURPHY:  Well, because we have one administration at a time.  And we have

certainly had circumstances in which important crises were playing out

during that interregnum period.  Think back to 2009, when the economic

crisis was unfolding.  And while President Obama was preparing to inherit

the reins of the economy, he was not laying down plans, he was not making

policy at the time.  This is very dangerous to have the Obama

administration continuing its policy of sanctioning Russia for their

activity in the United States and around the world, and then having that

undermined at the very same time by the Trump administration, even though

it`s a short period of time between the election and the inauguration. 

That was a very important period of time in which something could have gone

very wrong if our allies and our adversaries were getting mixed signals.


HAYES:  Let me ask you this final question.  If a constituent came to you

and said, “Senator, can you assure me, are you positive, secure that there

was no collaboration or collusion between the Trump campaign and the

Russian government during the campaign?”  Can you give them that assurance?


MURPHY:  I absolutely cannot give them that assurance.  And I think, what

is most disturbing about this new (AUDIO GAP) is that Michael Flynn, one of

the closest advisers to the President of the United States was lying to the

American public and to the White House about his conversations with Russia

during the period between the election and the inauguration.  So it stands

to reason that he might also be lying about the extent of his conversations

with the Russians during the elections.  Clearly, the White House was

trying to keep this under wraps.  They knew that Flynn had lied weeks

before they divulged it.  So it stands to reason that perhaps they also

know about conversations that happened during the election, and they are

trying to keep that quiet as well.  I cannot give that level of confidence

to my constituents, which is why republicans and democrats have to - have

to understand the threat that this is to our democratic norms and convene

this bipartisan process.  Do it in the light of day, not bury it in the

clandestine operations of the Intelligence Committee.


HAYES:  All right.  Senator Chris Murphy, thanks for your time tonight.  I

appreciate it.


MURPHY:  Thanks a lot.




HAYES:  All right.  Joining me now, Republican Congressman Mike Coffman of

Colorado, member of the House Armed Services Committee, who called on

Michael Flynn to resign yesterday if quote - I`m quoting here, “He

purposely misled the President.”  Congressman, I would imagine you agree

that there are a lot more questions that need to be answered even after

this resignation.



absolutely are.  I think that this administration ran on holding itself to

a higher standard than the prior administration.  And so, in doing so, I

think they ought to take a look at one of the things that certainly is, did

he mislead the FBI when he was being interviewed?  Did Mr. Flynn mislead

the FBI?  And if he, in fact, did, then that ought to be something that the

Justice Department looks at in terms of whether there ought to be criminal



HAYES:  Do you find it at all suspicious that the White House was informed

of this, the fact that he misled the Vice President of the United States. 

That they were informed of this three weeks ago - three and a half weeks

ago, and are only acting now after it was reported and became public?


COFFMAN:  You know, it seems pretty strange.  This is clearly - this whole

incident is an embarrassment to this administration.  There`s no - there`s

no question about that.  But let me - let me just say, I am relieved at the

decision by Michael Flynn to resign.  I mean, merely on the fact that at

the end of the day he mislead the American people. 


HAYES:  Right.


COFFMAN:  Let alone the administration.  But the fact that he first said

that he did not have a conversation concerning the sanctions then only

after he was - he became aware of the transcript that, in fact, his

conversation was in fact tapped into.  Then he said, “Well, maybe I did.” 

That in itself - I mean, as somebody who had 21 years in the military, I

believe that those who are elevated to a roll in the administration based

on their military back ground ought to beheld to the same standards that

they were in the military.  And anybody who did that in the military would

have been relieved for cause and disciplined in accordance 


HAYES:  Speaking of that standard of truthfulness.  You`re an interesting

case because you`re one of those rare members of congress who represents

lots of democrats and republicans.  You have the swing district.  You ran a

very hard race.  What do you say to a constituent that comes to you and

says, this White House has lied about everything from when the sun came out

on inauguration day, to attendance on inauguration day, to massive voter

fraud they say is taking place with no evidence, to Vice President Mike

Pence telling me that there was no contact with the Russian Ambassador? 

What do you say to a constituent that says “Why should I believe anything

that comes from this White House?”


COFFMAN:  I think - you know, of course we have the - you know, alternative

facts.  But I - but I think that this issue - there are issues that - that

there are issues of –


HAYES:  But congressman, what do you tell - what do you tell a constituent

that said that?  Why should I trust the information that comes from the

most powerful office in the land when they have routinely, demonstrably

been shown to not be telling the truth about things?


COFFMAN:  Well, this is a real issue.  This is a real issue with Mr. Flynn. 

And it becomes a real issue when you`re interviewed by the FBI, and there

are issues of National Security involved, and you mislead the FBI.  It is

politics, albeit bad politics, albeit embarrassing politics, when you -

when you do - when you say things -


HAYES:  Yes.


COFFMAN:  – that are not true.  But it becomes an issue - a question of

actually criminal prosecution when you are interviewed by the FBI -


HAYES:  By the FBI.  Yes.


COFFMAN:  – and you mislead it.  And this administration promised a higher

standard than the - than the prior administration.  And if this

administration wants to deliver on that promise, and be transparent then

they need to get down to the bottom of that interview.  In fact, that if

they misled the FBI, the Justice Department is going to move forward.


HAYES:  All right.  Congressman Mike Coffman, I appreciate you time

tonight, Sir.  Come back anytime.


COFFMAN:  Thank you.  I appreciate it


HAYES:  Joining me now, Democratic Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, also

member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 




HAYES:  Your colleague in the Senate, the Republicans seem to have a

variety of different views.  Devin Nunes in the House - the House

Intelligence Committee says he wants to invest the leakers and not the

underlying possible relationship with Russia or the material misinformation

that was given by General Flynn.  Roy Blunt is even hinting he might

actually call General Flynn for the Senate version of this.  What is your

position on how to investigate this going forward?


UDALL:  Well, I think the first thing that needs to happen is we need a

special prosecutor appointed by the Attorney General to move forward with

an investigation.  You know, I was a Federal Prosecutor and also a State

Attorney General, and I think we have at least two serious criminal issues

going on here.  The first one is lying to the FBI, and the second one has

to do with a private citizen, maybe under the direction of the President of

the United States, interfering in the foreign policy of the United States

of America -


HAYES:  But Senator, you know -


UDALL: – on a very critical, on a very critical National Security issue.


HAYES:  I imagine you`re referring to the 1799 Logan Act, but you do know

there`s no prosecution that`s ever been brought under that act and that -


UDALL:  Well, maybe there`s been nothing so blatant as this.


HAYES:  You really think that?  You think there`s possible criminal

exposure here?


UDALL:  I think on these two areas and then we - there are a lot of other

things that we don`t know right now.


HAYES:  Let me ask you this.  You call first -


UDALL:  And the reason - hold it. 


HAYES:  Yes.


UDALL:  The reason on a special prosecutor is because we know that Attorney

General Sessions was a key adviser all the way through the campaign, gave

legal advice a number of times and he may well have been giving legal

advice to Michael Flynn on these issues. 


HAYES:  Yes.


UDALL:  So how can he independently investigate it?


HAYES:  Your colleague Chuck Schumer today called for Jeff Sessions to

recuse himself precisely for that reason.  He was an adviser to the

campaign along with General Flynn.  I want to ask you the same question

that I asked Mike Coffman and that I asked to your colleague Chris Murphy. 

Which is, can you look - can you have any confidence at this point, as a

Senator of the United States, talking to the White House, that you are

getting truthful information from the President of the United States and

from his staff on any issue, given what we`ve seen over not just the last

36 hours but the first 24 days of this administration.


UDALL:  I have no confidence that we`re getting truthful information.  And

that`s why we need a criminal investigation here of the criminal activity. 

And I would like to see a 9/11 type commission which we`ve already called

for dealing with the hacking of the Russians, this particular incident, and

all the election issues that are out there.  And the American public has a

right to know what happened, how it happened, and how do we prevent it in

the future.


HAYES:  All right.  Senator Tom Udall, thanks for joining us.  Appreciate



UDALL:  Thank you.  Thank you.  It`s great to be with you.  Thank you.


HAYES:  Still ahead, will Michael Flynn face an investigation like the

Senator called for, for his discussion with the Russian Ambassador.  A look

at the unfolding politics in the aftermath of Flynn`s exit and how Rand

Paul showed his hand after a two-minute break.




HAYES:  Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, as I just mentioned, called

for an independent investigation today, pointing to potential criminal

violations by Michael Flynn and possibly others.  A call echoed just now by

Democratic Senator Tom Udall on this show, but Republicans are not quite

there yet.





useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your

own party.  We`ll never even get started with doing the things we need to

do like repealing ObamaCare, if we`re spending our whole time having

Republicans investigate Republicans.  I think it makes no sense.




HAYES:  Joining me now, Congressman Jerry Nadler, Democrat from New York. 

And Congressman, that was an admirably honest articulation by Senator Rand

Paul.  What do you make of that?



admirably honest.  And the fact is, the republicans have stonewalled any

kind of investigation, and of course, all the questions that we`ve seen

about General Flynn, his lying, his talking to the Russians, his talking to

the Russians apparently during the campaign, when they were trying to

influence the election in favor of President Trump, are the tip of the

iceberg.  And the iceberg is all the President`s conflicts, his working

with the Russians, and of course, the elephant in the room is the fact that

while this President is truculent, even belligerent with everybody else,

with our NATO allies, with France, with China, with Mexico, even with

Australia.  With Russia, he`s fawning.  He`s fawning over them.


And the question is why?  Do they have - what do they have over him?  Does

he have business interests that they are holding at bay in Russia?  We have

to know these questions.  To know if we have an American President who`s

working in our interest or the Russian interest.  And that`s why I

introduced the Resolution of Inquiry, which is a way of getting around the

Republican refusal to investigate.  We`ve written letters to the Republican

Chairman of various committees who have ignored them. 


The Resolution of Inquiry is a way of forcing the Republicans either to

have a public hearing on asking the Department of Justice to give - to give

to the Congress all relevant documents on the - on the business interests

of the President, the emoluments clause, his dealings with the Russians, or

to force a vote on it.  That`s the only way we can force a vote on the

Republicans` refusal to have an open inquiry for the American people.


HAYES:  Yes.  We should say that Devin Nunes, as I said, basically says,

he`ll be investigating the leaks.  Jason Chaffetz of the Oversight

Committee saying, the situation has taken care of itself.  The Intel

committee has looked at hacking issue previously.  One question I have for

you.  The representation of the White House at this point is the President

did not direct General Flynn to have the conversation with the Ambassador. 

Do you believe that?


NADLER:  Well, I don`t know.  But the point is, you can`t believe anything

they say because a number of them have been shown to be lies already.  We

now know that it was a lie that General Flynn did not speak to the Russians

about the sanctions.  We now know it was a lie that he did not speak to the

Russians during the election campaign when they were trying to influence

the election campaign.  We now know that it was a lie when the President

said during the campaign that he would release his tax returns as soon as

the non-existent audit was over.  So we can`t believe anything.


HAYES:  All right, Congressman Jerry Nadler, thank you for your time

tonight.  I appreciate it.


NADLER:  Thank you.


HAYES:  Joining me now, Philip Rucker, the White House Bureau Chief for the

Washington Post, Eli Lake, columnist for Bloomberg View.  And Phillip,

you`ve been at the center of the reporting for this.  And when we think

about where this goes next, one of the key dynamics it seems to me is,

whether or not there`s going to be an investigations, it has been

essentially the leaks that have driven this story, whether officialdom

wants to investigate it or not.



exactly right.  And there are couple things that are going to be key if

they ever were to emerge, including the transcripts of the actual

conversations that Flynn had with the Russian Ambassador and with any other

officials who might be involved.  We simply don`t know the specific details

that were exchanged there.  We also don`t know what role Trump had.  We

obviously know what Sean Spicer said at the podium today at the White

House, but it`s unclear whether Flynn ever - even got into any kind of

detail with the President-elect at that time, about his conversations with

the Ambassador.


HAYES:  Eli, you wrote a piece today about the sort of - what you find some

of the troubling aspects of these leaks.  Isn`t it the case, though, that

there`s a material misrepresentation made to the American people about a

key point of policy here, a fact of the matter, whether this man was having

this conversation with the Russian Ambassador?  Isn`t it good that America

knows that?


ELI LAKE, BLOOMBERG VIEW COLUMNIST:  I`m always for more information but

I`m not entirely sure we know what all this is yet.  I think Philip is

absolutely right, we should see these transcripts.  And we may find out

that there was a substantive conversation and it`s impossible to believe

that Flynn would have forgotten talking about the sanctions with the

Ambassador, or we could find that it was an incidental part of the

conversation where the Ambassador brings it up, Flynn said, “All right, you

know, we`re coming in soon, we`re going to look at all Russia policy.”  And

I think that that would have been a very different sort of thing.  So

there`s a lot we don`t know and I sort of, can`t help but notice a lot of

your guests tonight have been rushing to a lot of judgment.


HAYES:  Well, but don`t you think part of that has to do with the fact that

it does seem like the actions taken around the supposed infraction have

been -there`s been a lot of dissembling about them, right?  I mean, even if

Sean Spicer giving a timeline, it seems to me that, if what happened was

the Ambassador - even at the direction of the President-elect, called

Russia and said “Look, just wait to make up your mind about responding,

we`ll be in power in January 20th.”  That would be not so terrible.  But

that`s not the way they`ve acted, is it?


LAKE:  No, I mean, I can`t defend a lot of the dissembling, as you say. 

And we`re getting all these different versions of events and it`s unclear

if he`s resigning and everything like that.  But I think it`s very

important to not lose sight of the fact that some of the most closely held

information about an American citizen and a senior official, intercepted

communications, incidentally caught up, were disclosed to the press. 

That`s something we associate with police states because it can ruin

someone`s reputation and we entrust the Intelligence Community to make sure

that sort of thing is not selectively leaked and disclosed to the public to

affect our politics.  And just as it was wrong for the FBI to leak before

the election affecting politics regarding investigations into Hillary

Clinton`s foundation, I think this is also a kind of interference from the

National Security State and our politics and we should be very troubled by



HAYES:  Do you agree with that, Philip?


RUCKER:  Well, it`s an interesting thought.  You know, I`m not going to

speak to the motivations of the sources.  I would point out to defend

myself and my colleagues at the Washington Post, these were not sort of

handouts that were just handed to that.


LAKE:  I wasn`t saying that.  And I - and I -


RUCKER:  I know.  I know.


LAKE:  Yes.


RUCKER:  But the reports were the product of very dogged and hard reporting

over many days to try to get this information from officials in the U.S.



HAYES:  Philip, where does this go next?  I mean, part of the - it`s hard

to sometimes to take stock of all the moving pieces because what appears if

you sort of step back is that there is an active possibly cross agency

investigation that`s happening about the kind of core issue here, which is,

was the Trump campaign or Trump surrogates interacting with Russia in some

fashion?  That there`s an ongoing investigation about that, the size,

scope, and details of which we don`t know but seems to be at the center of

what we`re all trying to get at.


RUCKER:  I think so and that`s why this is such an important issue for the

White House right now.  It`s not just the credibility of Michael Flynn.


HAYES:  Right.


RUCKER:  Whether he may or may not have lied to the Vice President.  It`s a

much bigger issue of Russian interference with the election and the extent

to which anybody affiliated with Donald Trump and his campaign over the

course of the campaign was involved in some of the activities that the

Russians were doing.  And I think that`s what a lot of the Congressional

Democrats want to get to the bottom of and it`s going to take time to get

those answers.


HAYES:  Yes.  We should note there`s Paul Manafort and Carter Page and now

Flynn, all of them are figures involved in the campaign and or the

transition administration that have had ties to Russia.  Philip Rucker and

Eli Lake, thanks for joining us, appreciate it.


RUCKER:  Thank you.


LAKE:  Thank you.


HAYES:  Just ahead, coming to the defense of Michael Flynn but not exactly

helping the situation.  What Russia and Russian media are saying after this

quick break.


HAYES:  If Michael Flynn felt yesterday like no one was taking his side, he

should have turned  his attention to the news from Russia.  First, state

sponsored Russia Today tweeted out the news of his

ousting as, quote, “General Michael Flynn retires as national security

adviser.”  RT later deleted - corrected that tweet.


Then there was the support from key members of the Russian parliament who

claimed today

that Flynn was forced out by a climate of Russophobia.


While the Kremlin has no official comment on his resignation, the response

from other Russian politicians and state sponsored media doesn`t exactly

tamp down speculation about Flynn`s relationship with the Putin government.


Joining me now, Julia Yoffi, national security foreign policy reporter at

The Atlantic.  And Julia, how has this played in Russia?


JULIA IOFFE, THE ATLANTIC:  Well, it`s been mixed.  On one hand, people are

kind of gobsmacked by this.  They did not see this coming and they think

that this is – that Trump is the next target, that the Russian-American

reset is the next target.  But they`re also hanging back and saying, you

know what, this is all you guys.  This is an internal matter.  You fix



Because what the Russians and the rest of the world are seeing on one hand,

you know, President Trump during the campaign didn`t even know that Russia

was in Crimea.  Then Nikki Haley comes out with a speech saying, you know,

Crimea is part of Ukraine.  Period.  The White House says something else. 

Today, Sean Spicer says something else entirely.


I think the Russians are kind of just hanging back and waiting to see what



HAYES:  You know, this is an important perspective because I think there is

a tendency in the

American press to project this sort of like master chessmaster projection

on to Putin and the

Kremlin and Russia and it – in many ways it`s a vestige of the Cold War. 

But, you know, they`re surprised by events as much as anyone else is.


I mean, it seems to me there`s a little bit of what exactly have we gotten

ourselves into that is

emanating from Russia as it is from many parts of the world.


IOFFE:  Well, in some ways this is similar to what happens in Russia.  In

Russia, you know, this narrative to me never felt right, that Russia is

this well-oiled machine with these hackers in the galley rowing in tune

with the guy with the drum.  You know, it`s a very - it`s also full of

haphazard actions and incompetent people.


They didn`t expect Trump to win.  And they would have done just fine with

Hillary Clinton as

president, too.  They like having, you know, an anti-Russian foil in the

White House that people can rally around the flag, around Putin.


So, they`ll be fine either way.  They didn`t expect Trump.  And they didn`t

expect this level of



They knew that he`s unpredictable.  I don`t think they knew the extent to

which he`s unpredictable and the extent to which he doesn`t have a singular

message and the extent to which all of this internal fighting would be made

public because, for example, when the Kremlin has infighting you don`t see

much of it.


HAYES:  That`s a really good point.  Julia Ioffe, thanks for your time

tonight.  Appreciate it.


The uncertainty and upheaval in the White House, which Julia was just

talking about compounded by Michael Flynn`s ouster is, as we said, rippling

out across the globe.  One European intelligence official telling BuzzFeed

News in what I have to say is the quote of the day, and I read a lot of

them “I was hoping you could tell me what the blank is going on over



Adding “I have to counsel my policymakers as best I can and right now it`s

prepare to handle

some crises without U.S. support.”


Joining me now, Colonel Laurence Wilkerson, former chief of staff at the

State Department, currently a distinguished visiting professor of

government and public policy at the college of William & Mary.


And I want to talk about the dynamics of international policy, what it

means to the world, to the world order, to watch the U.S. enmeshed in what,

frankly, must look – looks to us domestically, like chaos.


COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, WILLIAM & MARY:  You`re right, Chris.  I was just

in Paris.  And in Paris, I was meeting with Germans, French, British,

Belgians.  And I got to tell you, the degree of concern in their minds

about where America is going, where it`s headed, who it`s being led by,

what its policies are, is as deep as I`ve seen it in some 45 years of

working with European allies.  It`s serious.


ANDERSON:  What does it mean as – you know, the national security council

is in some ways for people inside the government it`s so central and so

important.  To people outside the government it seems obscure.  What does

it mean for America - for American security and preparedness to have this

level of just tumult, turnover, dysfunction in that core function of the

White House?


WILKERSON:  Since World War II, the National Security Council has become

the central place where presidential decision making with regard to foreign

and security policy takes place.  It`s that simple, and its staff,

sometimes as many as 300 or so, are the people who actually direct the

information going to the president for these decisions to include people

from the intelligence community and so  forth.


So, it`s central to this sort of decision-making.  And to have it in chaos

like this.  To have it in disarray, to have its National Security Adviser,

its titular head, if you will, leave in the middle of already deep concern

about where this presidency is going amounts to something I`ve never seen

before nor did I think I would see it in my lifetime.  It`s a disaster in



HAYES:  You predicted that General Michael Flynn would be out in fairly

short order.  And I have to say, I talked to a senior official, former

official, who told me he thought it would either be Flynn or Mattis out in

the first year.


Why did you – why were you confident that was the case?  And how did you

get it right?


WILKERSON:  I would say Mattis, too, because I think Mattis will be the one

who, with sane and sober forethought, will stand up to this ridiculous

administration in a way that will force him to  have to leave.


Flynn was a very different matter.  He had neither the temperament, the

character, or, more  importantly, the experience to be National Security

Adviser.  This is a position that is appointed, it`s not subject to advice

and consent in the Senate, but it is one of the most powerful positions in

the White



Just look back on Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski or Brent Scowcroft

to understand why.


In this case, Flynn I feel somewhat sorry for him because he was completely

out of his element.  He`s not leaving because of some objection to what the

administration is doing, which is what will be why Jim Mattis leaves, he`s

leaving because he simply couldn`t do the job.  And some other things that 

you`ve talked about already on your show that we need to get to the bottom



HAYES:  Yeah, there is this quote from current General Tony Thomas, head of

the military  special operations command that jumped out at me in The New

York Times piece today on the turmoil of this first month: “our government

continues to be in unbelievable turmoil.  I hope they sort it out soon

because we`re a nation at war.  As a commander, I`m concerned our

government be as stable as



It struck me as a remarkable thing for a sitting general to say.


WILKERSON:  Yes.  And I must tell you that I was just up at the army war

college talking

with a number of colonels there.  I talked with a number of other flag

officers in the last week or two.  I have to tell you that there is some

concern about exactly where we`re going, whether it`s the budget and

Trump`s promises to plus it up majorly in the face of 20 plus trillion

dollars of debt and recruiting costs that are off the charts.  Two security

policy in general.


What is our policy towards China?  What is our policy towards Russia?  What

is our policy towards North Korea and other issues of great conern?


We`ve heard all about how he`s going to destroy ISIS and he`s going to get

rid of terrorism, which most military people think is farcical, because

you`re never get rid of terrorism, it`ll always be with us.  You just want

to bring it to a manageable level.


So, yes, there`s great concern amongst military officers as to what this



HAYES:  Are you confident that we have the institutions in place to

definitively make findings a fact about the connection to Russia.  It seems

to me massively important that the sort of suspicion be removed, to have

some sort of definitive public record of what is and is not true with

regards to that?


WILKERSON:  I`m coming to believe that we don`t have that capacity, Chris. 

And that`s a big shortcoming.  I harken back to Truman and his

investigative committee in the senate that looked into so many acts of

malfeasance and corruption and outright boondoggling during World War II. 

It was a very effective committee.  And it did a lot of good for the war



We don`t seem to have that anymore.  Look at the Senate intelligence

committee, which has a lot of responsibility here.  We have got a chairman

from North Carolina in Senator Burr who seems to want to bury things under

the table like he did the torture report, for example.


I`m not confident that this legislature has the political will or the skill

to do this kind of investigation.


HAYES:  all right, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, thank you for your time

tonight, sir.  Appreciate it.


WILKERSON:  Thanks for having me, Chris.


HAYES:  Still to come, the campaign that promised non-stop wins, now an

administration struggling to get through the day.  The first three weeks



Plus, Kellyanne Conway stars in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two.  You don`t

want to miss it.  It starts right after this break.




HAYES:  Thing One tonight, it was a rough morning for White House counselor

Kellyanne Conway how was grilled on the timing of Michael Flynn`s






misled by General Flynn or General Flynn could not completely recall what

his conversations had been.


GEORGE STPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS:  But you knew that – but Kellyanne, the

White House knew that almost three weeks ago.


CONWAY:  As time wore on, obviously the situation became unsustainable and




MATT LAUER, TODAY SHOW:  Kellyanne, that makes no sense.  Last month the


Department warned the White House that General Flynn had misled them.  And

that as a result he was

vulnerable to blackmail and at that moment he still had the complete trust

of the president?


CONWAY:  Matt, I`m telling you what the president has said.




HAYW:  This afternoon, Conway showed up to the White House press briefing

to watch Sean Spicer take a swing at similar questions and throughout the

briefing she was on her phone, which, no harm there.  We`re all doing that

all the time.


Now, we don`t know what she was doing on her phone.  We do know midway

through that

briefing, 1:43 p.m., it appears she saw a Twitter user post “Kellyanne

Conway, your strength and resiliency is a daily inspiration.  Love you,”

which she apparently re-tweeted adding “love you back.”


It is Valentine`s Day after all.


So, why just a few hours later did Conway say she never sent that tweet and

claims someone else must have gotten access to her account?  That`s Thing

Two in 60 seconds.




HAYES:  While sitting in the White House press briefing today, Kellyanne

Conway apparently

re-tweeted a user named @libhypocrisy.


As BuzzFeed first reported, the user seems to be a white nationalist. 

Their bio includes the hashtags #whiteidentity #nationalist far right Dutch

politician #GeertWilders and #SteveBannon.


Oh, also, a frog imagine, which just might be a reference to the alt-right

icon Pepe the Frog.


When presented with that information, Conway had an interesting response

telling BuzzFeed, “I don`t know had access to my account.  Let me see who

tweeted that.  That`s terrible.”  Adding, “it will be immediately deleted. 

Everybody makes mistakes.”






TRUMP:  We`re going to win so much you`re going to get tired of winning. 

You`re going to say “this guy is winning too much,” because you`re not used

to winning.  Because we never win.  We don`t win with war.  We don`t win

with trade.  We don`t win on the borders.  You`re going to win so much,

you`re going to love it.




HAYES:  Three and a half weeks into his administration, Donald Trump isn`t

doing much winning.  In fact, he`s taking a lot of “Ls.”  His latest loss,

the resignation of Michael Flynn amid an escalating scandal over his

contact with Russia.  That`s just the tip of the iceberg.  Today, Office of

Government Ethics officially recommended disciplinary action against senior

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway for her on-air plug of Ivanka Trump`s

clothing line.


In Virginia, yesterday, yet another federal judge ruled against President

Trump`s travel ban in the strongest his latest language to date citing,

quote, “the impermissible motive of disfavoring one  religious group.”


On top of that, House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, who`s not so into

investigating the

White House in general, is now looking into possible security violations at

Mar-a-Lago this weekend where the president was photographed in public

discussing response to North Korea`s missile launch.


So, three-and-a-half weeks in, we want to ask how are things going?  The

answer from someone who knows a thing or two about working in the White

House next.






STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER:  I think to say that we here in


would be a substantial understatement.  The president of the United States

has accomplished more in  just a few weeks than many presidents accomplish

in an entire administration.




HAYES:  I`m joined by Chris Lou, who is assistant to the president and

White House cabinet secretary for former President Barack Obama.


And, first, Mr. Miller`s contention that more in three weeks – you`re

already laughing.  Is that a fair assessment?


CHRIS LU, FRM. WHITE HOUSE CABINET SECRETARY:  Chris, there`s no comparison 

between what we went through in 2009 and what the Trump folks are doing at

this point.  It is amateur hour right now.


And let`s not forget, we were dealing with the greatest recession of our

lifetime in 2009 as well as two wars at that time. 


You did an impressive job before the commercial in listing a series of

mistakes that have  happened.  I would add a couple others.  I`d add the

DeVos nomination.  I`d add strained relations with Mexico, Australia.  And

what do these things have in common?  They`re all unforced errors.  These

are problems of their own making. 


They haven`t even gotten to the hard stuff yet.  They haven`t even started

on repealing Obamacare or tax reform.  So, it`s any wonder how they`re

going to accomplish those things.


HAYES:  Or – and this is why I wanted to talk – I`ve known you for a

while, because I met you - my wife worked with you when she worked in the

administration in the White House.  And I know that you were there for a

long time.  You got to see the inside of how a White House operates. 


And what happens when a White House that is this apparently disorganized

and scattered reaches its first crisis, its Katrina or Deepwater Horizon or

something that comes out of the blue?  Like, what is it like to be in a

White House when that happens?  And how important is it to have processes

in place that are working in normal times?


LU:  Well, you`re right, Chris. it`s not only having processes in place,

it`s having people in

place.  This is a White House right now that does not even have a

communications director.  They don`t even have anywhere to a full cabinet. 

Below that, they don`t have most of their deputy secretaries,

none of their assistant secretaries.


The one thing you know is that there will be a crisis.  You always need to

anticipate the thing that can`t be anticipated and whether it`s a

hurricane, whether it`s Deepwater Horizon, whether it`s a Katrina, you know

that`s going to happen.


HAYES:  This was something that really caught my eye.  I`ve been talking

about this brown M&Ms theory, which is the famous story about a contract

rider of Van Halen where, you know, they

said no brown M&Ms and it was a way of sort of immediately when the band

came into the green room.  If they saw brown M&Ms they knew they didn`t

read the contract rider carefully enough and that small mistake meant there

were bigger mistakes.  And I saw this piece today in USA Today on the wrong

executive order text, that the White House is posting wrong versions of

Trump`s orders on its web site.


What does that say about just the basic level of confidence, rigor, and



LU:  You know, Chris, it`s not only the wrong executive order, it`s the

number of typos, it`s foreign leaders` names that have been misspelled.


I agree with you completely.  If you can`t do the little things well,

there`s no way you can do the big things well.


And I don`t know if that`s lack of process.  I don`t know if lack of

experience, but I can tell you, we double and triple-checked everything

that we did in the White House back in 2009.


HAYES:  This is another thing that caught my eye.  I know that the

Presidential Records Act is a real bear for folks in the White House

because it – it`s a pain.  It means that everything you do, you, Chris Lu,

anyone in that White House is actually property of the United States

citizens, not of you.  It has to be preserved.  And this is something that

comes from The Washington Post, staffers are so fearful of being accused of

talking to the media, some have resorted to a secret chat app, Confide,

that erases messages as soon as they`re read.


That is, on its face, a violation of the Presidential Records Act.


LU:  It`s absolutely a violation.  In 2014, congress passed an amendment to

the presidential Record Act that specifically included electronic text

messages.  And if you text you have to keep a record of that or forward to

that to some other system where it can be track.


So, a system that automatically deletes it, absolutely violates the

Presidential Records Act.


HAYES:  And I mean I think people are probably watching this and thinking,

well, giving what we`re dealing with, the Presidential Records Act, but it

is the law.  I mean, it is the law for the White House staffers and there

has to be some culture and compliance in which you obey the law.


LU:  Well, Chris, why would this surprise you?  You have Kellyanne Conway

standing in the White House press briefing room hawking Ivanka Trump`s

products when she is apparently counseled you then read stories indicating

that the president was not happy with the use of the that term.


As you pointed out today, the Office of Government Ethics is calling for

disciplinary action  to be taken.  But given the tone and culture of this

White House, none of us have any confidence that will actually happen.


HAYES:  How much do you put this at the feet of the White House counsel,

Don McGahn.  I mean, it seems to me White House counsels can vary

tremendously in power, but they are the kind of check, they are the lawyers

saying you can`t do this, you can`t do that, you have got to preserve your

records.  How important is it that that person be essentially policing what

goes on in the White House?


LU:  You know, the White House counsel has an important function.  There is

an old expression about the job of a White House counsel is to prevent

brushfires from becoming infernos.  We`ve already now seen three infernos

with the travel ban, the ethics issues, conflict of interest issues as well

as Flynn and all fingers point to the head fireman, Don McGahn.


HAYES:  Do you think there`s a learning curve they can ascend?  You must

have some sympathy of how hard the job is?


LU:  Oh, absolutely.  I mean, I`m not going to say we were perfect in what

we did in 2009.  There are always bumps in the road.  But what is - and

obviously with experience, with more people in place, some of these things

will iron out.


But ultimately it all goes back to the tone that is set at the top.  We had

an organization that was

run by no drama Obama and this organization is run by all chaos Trump.


HAYES:  All right, that`s Chris Lu.  Thank you for your time tonight. 

Appreciate it.


And that is All In for this evening.  The Rachel Maddow show starts right

now.  Good evening, Rachel.






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