All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 2/24/2017

John Dean, Karen Bass, Evan McMullin, Matt Miller


Date: February 24, 2017

Guest: John Dean, Karen Bass, Evan McMullin, Matt Miller



CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Not enough time for you, we can do a whole

show with you, brother.  And thank you, we`re always reading your stuff.


JOHNSON:  OK.  Thank you for having me.


MATTHEWS:  And thank you Ann Hornaday my favorite.  Anyway that`s HARDBALL

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






people.  Because they have no sources, they just make them up when there

are none.


HAYES:  It`s Trump against the truth as the White House lashes out at the

media and blocks news orgs from briefings after being forced to admit

Reince Priebus asked the FBI to push back Trump Russia stories.




HAYES:  What we now know about White House efforts to influence the FBI. 

And the central question, can the Bureau be trusted to investigate the



Plus, as Town Halls continue around the country, the President divides.


TRUMP:  The people that you`re watching, they`re not you.


HAYES:  New fears from the right that the resistance is winning.


REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA:  I don`t know if we`re going to be able to

repeal ObamaCare now.


HAYES:  And speaking of Obama, a sighting.  When ALL IN starts right now.


TRUMP:  Sequester, sequester.


Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  In the wake of an explosive

story that`s been unfolding over the past 24 hours, involving improper

communication between the White House and an FBI that is investigating the

President and on a day that President Trump again called the media the

enemy of the people, the White House did something news organizations are

describing as an unprecedented retaliation.  Barring reporters from five

prominent media outlets from entering an off-camera briefing while inviting

in Breitbart News and other conservative outlets. 


Now, this action came after the Trump administration confirmed key details

of the reporting of that remarkable breach of protocol and propriety,

acknowledging that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus did in fact

ask a top FBI official to push back against news reports of contact between

Trump aides and Russians during the Presidential campaign, prompting House

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to call for a Department of Justice

investigation.  Keep in mind what`s at issue here.  U.S. Intelligence

Agencies have determined the Russians intervened to boost then-candidate

Trump during the Presidential campaign. 


The open question is whether the President or his allies or campaign

colluded at all with the Russians in such an effort.  There is – and we

should be very clear here, no proof that that happened.  But that`s

precisely why last week`s explosive report that Trump campaign aides had

repeated contacts with Russian intelligence during the campaign was such a

blockbuster.  It was the first reporting to establish contact between Trump

associates and Russian intelligence during the campaign, and that`s the

claim that Reince Priebus wanted the FBI to publicly dispute.  The thing

is, a lot of news outlets have already confirmed much of the story.  Law

enforcement and intelligence officials tell NBC News there is in fact

evidence of contacts between Trump aides and Russians, though they say they

have not determined whether the Russians in question were intelligence

officials, as they`ve been described by the Times. 


The White House today laid out its version of what took place.  It says FBI

Deputy Director Andrew McCabe pulled Priebus aside last Wednesday to tell

him that that New York Times report was “garbage.”  In response, Priebus

asked McCabe to go public with that claim.  A request that McCabe

ultimately declined.  In an off-camera briefing, that same briefing in

which many major news outlets were barred from attending including the New

York Times, Sean Spicer explained the White House version of events.




SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  When presented with a story that

we were told was not accurate, our answer was could you go tell other

people that it`s not accurate or correct it or whatever you see fit?  We`re

just not going to sit back and let – you know, false narratives, false

stories, inaccurate facts get out there.




HAYES:  Now tonight, the Washington Post is reporting it wasn`t just the

FBI but that the Trump administration has enlisted senior members of the

Intelligence Community and Congress in efforts to counter news stories

about Trump`s associate`s ties to Russia.  We don`t know if the White House

version of events which we just presented is true.  But here`s the thing,

even if it is, it doesn`t exactly absolve the White House or, for that

matter, the FBI, which, according to the White House, offered information

from an ongoing criminal investigation to potential witnesses or subjects

of that investigation.  To put all this in context for a moment, when Bill

Clinton – you`ll remember, met with then Attorney General Loretta Lynch

last year on Loretta Lynch`s plane for a conversation that both parties say

largely concerned golf and grandchildren, Republicans went, well, crazy,

speculating that Bill Clinton was trying to intervene to quash

investigations into his wife.




TRUMP:  So give the grandchildren two minutes, give golf three and a half

minutes.  That`s a long time to be sitting there twiddling your thumbs. 

What else are we going to talk about?  Let`s talk about Hillary.  Let`s

talk about Hillary.




HAYES:  Now, imagine if the Obama White House had asked the FBI to knock

down stories about Hillary Clinton`s e-mails.  If that had gotten out, it

would have been a huge scandal.  And yet, that`s analogous to what the

White House today admitted and confirmed to having done.  President Trump

spoke today at the Conservative Political Action Conference where he

suggested, falsely, that negative news reports are simply made up.




TRUMP:  A few days ago, I called the fake news, “the enemy of the people”,

and they are.  They are the enemy of the people.  Because they have no

sources, they just make them up when there are none.  They shouldn`t be

allowed to use sources unless they use somebody`s name.




HAYES:  For the record, that comment came after White House officials

anonymously – that is to say without using their name, pushed back on the

FBI report and didn`t allow their names to be used.  And then, the Trump

administration barred five news outlets that we said that have reported

aggressively in the Trump White House from Spicer`s off-camera briefing

today prompting widespread anger and claims of retaliation.  But the

unanswered questions about alleged links between Trump`s allies and the

Russians are not going away.  New polling shows that 53 percent of

Americans want congress to investigate ties between the Russian government

and the Trump campaign and at CPAC today a rather brilliant troll handed

out Russian flags with Trump written on them, which oblivious supporters

waved during the President`s speech until CPAC Staffers figured out what

had happened and confiscated them. 


Joining me now, John Dean, former White House Counsel to President Richard

Nixon.  John, lets – let us bracket for a moment the underlying substance

of the – of the reporting and the claims about the degree of contact

between Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence officials, which

is being disputed, right?




HAYES:  Let`s just talk about this communication that is now been

established on the record between the White House talking to the FBI about

an ongoing investigation.  As someone who served the White House Council

under Richard Nixon, how does that strike you?


DEAN:  Well, as somebody who was in that role during the Nixon Presidency,

it`s because of the activities between the Nixon White House and the FBI

that the Justice Department later wrote regulations to prohibit that kind

of activity.  This is exactly the way you influence – try to influence an

investigation.  If they were playing it straight, if they really wanted to

say we have – there`s nothing to see here, they`d do what Hillary Clinton

did.  They`ll provide all of her staff and herself to the FBI for very open

inquiry, and that leaked very quickly, if you recall, as well.  And there

was no complaint by the Trump people when that information leaked.


HAYES:  Right.  So you`re saying that the way to push back against the –

you know, against false reports is essentially make yourself open to the

investigation –


DEAN:  Exactly, exactly.


HAYES:  – and get to the bottom of it, and have some kind of clearing

which is essentially in its own way what happened when James Comey famously

delivered that speech about the investigation to Hillary Clinton`s e-mails.


DEAN:  That`s exactly what did happen.  While it is not a criminal offense

to push back or to try to get them to correct what they perceive as a bad

story nor to even push them about where they`re investigating.  It is

certainly against the regulations of the Department and the norms of the

Department post-Watergate.  But this administration has been busting norms

from the – from the beginning of the Presidency, not to mention throughout

the campaign.


HAYES:  And these norms – I mean, the regulations, the norms that were

then enshrined in department regulation post-Watergate are precisely

because at a certain point, the breaking point of Watergate was precisely

in some ways an analogous situation in so far as the FBI was actively

investigating the President of the United States and the President of the

United States actively tried to intervene to quash that investigation?


HAYES:  What happened is, Nixon got caught in the lie of saying he knew

nothing about the cover-up, yet it showed on the tapes when they were

finally surfaced that he indeed had instructed Haldeman to use the CIA to

block the FBI.


HAYES:  Right.


DEAN:  Now, that wasn`t the crime itself, it was the lie.  And you – and

the fact also by then there was a grand jury sitting because the grand jury

couldn`t – changes the whole complexion of FBI investigations. 

Particularly when they`re doing something on behalf of the grand jury. 

That`s where you get into the obstruction of justice.


HAYES:  Knowing what you know over the last 24 hours and what has been now

essentially confirmed by the White House, although, again, the contours of

that we only have the White House to trust here, we don`t have Mr. McCabe

or Mr. Comey or anyone else.  So I – we should take all that with a grain

of salt.  Do you have confidence in the integrity of whatever existing

investigation is happening in that FBI?


DEAN:  Well, the recent story that broke tonight by the Post, that other

intelligence agencies have been in play in this also, looks like they`re

overlooking and watching what the FBI is doing.  So the FBI is not exactly

acting alone in this while they`re conducting the investigation.  They

really can`t do it without the other intelligence agencies possibly being

involved in this.  So this is going to make it very hard to play any games

with the FBI.  And I don`t think the FBI in the sense is inclined to do so. 

They have nothing to really benefit by it – you know, particularly down

into the rank and file.  While we`ve heard stories about the New York

office and various offices, we know there`s three phases of this FBI

investigation and two of them are outside of Washington while the

Counterintelligence Operation is out of Washington, there`s a Pittsburgh

office and a – and a San Francisco office that are doing different phases

of this investigation.


HAYES:  Right


DEAN:  So it`s very hard to make a go anything other than right down the



HAYES:  All right.  John Dean, thanks for being with me tonight.  I

appreciate it.


DEAN:  Thank you.


HAYES:  Joining me now, Democratic Representative Karen Bass of California,

member of the House Judiciary Committee.  And your colleague, the

Democratic Leader in the House calling for Department of Justice

Investigation.  Do you agree with that?


REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA:  Absolutely.  I think that`s very

important to have happen.


HAYES:  What do you think needs to happen given the fact that we now know

there`s all this behind-the-scenes jockeying.  We know that the White House

is at least trampled on this sort of protective sphere, this norm about

what communication you have with the FBI about an ongoing investigation. 

What do you think needs to happen now?


BASS:  Well, I mean, I definitely think that there needs to be a thorough

investigation.  I think that the White House needs to consider you know,

sending Reince Priebus the way of Flynn but there`s so much more that`s

happening here and you know, to me, I don`t see this disconnected from

Trump`s attack on the press because to me he seems like he`s laying the

basis for that when the truth finally comes out about the Russian

connection that at least his base will no longer believe what comes out –

you know, in the press.  Because anything that`s negative is fake news.  So

to me I see it as all interconnected but I believe that there absolutely

should be an investigation and that they have to understand, we`re only 30

days into this Presidency.  They have to understand that the FBI and that

the intelligence agencies are not the propaganda arm of the White House.


HAYES:  You know, you – I just want to go back to something you said.  You

said Reince Priebus should be sent the way of Michael Flynn.  You believe

he should be fired over this?


BASS:  Right.  I absolutely do. 


HAYES:  And – yes.


BASS:  Because it`s not the only thing.  I mean, you know, again, trying to

pressure the Department of Justice, the Intelligence Agencies to speak on

your behalf, I understand what Mr. Dean said in terms of it not being –

breaking the law but certainly violating regulations but what does this say

about this White House?  You know, I remember when President Obama was

giving his farewell speech and he said that we need to protect our

democracy.  I actually thought about that statement as a little rhetorical. 

I was thinking about the voting rights acts specifically.  But I feel like

over the last 30 days, so many aspects of our democracy have been trampled

upon.  And I think that for the White House to get its act together, I

think it would send the right message just as the dismissal of Flynn did. 

But they didn`t dismiss him until they absolutely had to.


HAYES:  Right.  And, in fact, the President has said essentially they made

a mistake in doing so. 


BASS:  Right.


HAYES:  That it was the fault – the fault of the media.  There`s – I`m

curious this polling which I found a little surprising, I have to say. 

“Should congress investigate Trump/Russia connection?”  53 percent yes, 25

percent saying no, no opinion 21 percent.  Is that square with what you

hear from your constituents?


BASS:  Oh, my goodness, no.  I mean, I had Town Halls over the weekend, 500

the first day, 800 the second day and I will tell you that the anxiety

level is so high.  And one of the main things that people want to have

happen is an investigation because there again they`re concerned.  People

are afraid about a war being launched by this President.  And so, they see

all of this as being intertwined.  And this is just so much, you know, out

of the ordinary in terms of our tradition and our allies that demanding an

investigation.  Well, I tell you one thing, in terms of the audience at my

Town Halls, it was a lot more than 53 percent.


HAYES:  All right.  Representative Karen Bass, thanks for your time this

evening.  I appreciate it.


BASS:  Thanks for having me on.


HAYES:  Joining me now, former CIA Operative and House Republican

Conference Chief Policy Director Evan McMullin who ran for president in

2016 as an Independent.  I want to read to you what the President was

tweeting this morning about the leakers.




HAYES:  “The FBI is totally unable to stop the National Security Leakers

that have permeated our government for a long time, they can`t find the

leakers within the FBI itself.  Classified Information is being given to

the media that could have devastating effect on the U.S. find now.”  What`s

your reading of that?


MCMULLIN:  Well, there`s always been a problem with leaks, and there always

will be a problem with leaks.  That`s just the reality.  But what I find

interesting about this is that Donald Trump refuses, really, to deny in a

full-throated way and repeatedly that his campaign had contact with Russian

officials, possibly as we have read in the New York Times, Russian

Intelligence Officers.  That`s what he should be talking about.  That`s

what he should be refuting if it`s not true.  But instead, he goes after

the leaks over and over again and I think that`s – it`s very telling that

that`s where he focuses.


HAYES:  What about this?  As someone who worked in the CIA, I`ve seen a

sort of broad range of opinions on this and some say, look, the White House

has a point, people are – you know, they`re leaking information that

should be closely held, it`s unfair to the President, it`s unfair to people

in his campaign that this is – that this is getting out and as someone who

has taken an oath to keep classified information, what`s your view?


MCMULLIN:  Well, there`s a lot going on here.  But, first of all I would

say that we don`t know for sure the leaks are coming from the intelligence

organizations.  That`s a Trump construct.  That`s what his claim is.


HAYES:  That`s fair point.


MCMULLIN:  That`s why – that`s why his claims – his lies are so

dangerous.  They seep into what we accept as truth without there being

validation of them and I think that`s an example of that.  But I will say

that when you have a President who pits his own senior staff against its –

others in his senior staff, when you have a President that has a

destructive vision for leadership in the country, as does his key

strategist, and then you`re going to have more leaks because people are

going to have disagreements that lead them to want to get back at –


HAYES:  Right.


MCMULLIN:  – other staffers and they`re concerned about the direction of

this Presidency so it`s really Donald Trump has himself to blame mostly for

these leaks.


HAYES:  Let me ask you about the Washington Post reporting that Trump

administration sought to enlist intelligence officials and key lawmakers to

counter some of these Russia stories.  You know, there`s always concern

about – there`s always as complicated relationship between intelligence

officials and the political arm and obviously they work for the elected

government of the United States but there`s some degree you want them

independent.  We saw what can happen in Iraq and another circumstances when

politics sort of drives the intelligence.  Is this dangerous to you that

they`re going to intelligence officials trying to get them to knock this

story down?


MCMULLIN:  Of course it`s dangerous.  And it calls into question the

investigations that are happening.  The FBI is conducting an investigation,

probably with the contribution of the Intelligence Community.  And then you

have the House and Senate Select Intelligence Committees also conducting

investigations.  But the White House has gone to all of those players and

then tried to enlist their help in claiming that the campaign did not have

contact with Russian officials.  That`s part of what the investigation is

all about so if they actually did these things then we have to ask, is

there really – are there really investigations happening?  And if there

are not – and I think this whole episode calls in into question these

alleged investigations, I think that all of this tells us that we`ve got to

have an independent prosecutor or independent prosecutor named by the DOJ

or we`ve got to have an independent commission established by Congress. 

But the American people deserve transparency and they deserve

accountability in this process.  This is a matter of grave importance and

we just don`t have enough of either of those right now.


HAYES:  All right.  Evan McMullin, thanks for being with me.  I appreciate



MCMULLIN:  Thank you.


HAYES:  These jarring admissions about FBI conversations to the White House

is just the latest in a series of very questionable moves by the Bureau

when it comes to Donald Trump.  We`re going to take a closer look at that





HAYES:  After news broke last night of contact between the White House and

the FBI, this morning President Trump attacked the FBI in that series of

tweets.  The irony is, there`s decent evidence – at least a sort of

plausible case, the FBI has really helped Donald Trump and continues to do

so.  Most notably, of course, on October 28, the unprecedented act just 11

days before the election, arguably in violation of Department of Justice

policy, FBI Director James Comey`s letter informing congress the FBI would

review new Clinton e-mails.  That review turned up nothing, as you`ll

recall, but according to many pollsters, it turned the election tide

against Hillary Clinton.  There`s more.  On October 31, just eight days

before the election, this headline in the New York Times, “Investigating

Donald Trump, FBI sees no clear links to Russia.” 


That based on FBI sources talking to the New York Times.  It does not seem

to hold up very well right now, that headline, at least, but it was

probably pretty helpful to the Trump campaign then.  Then, just six days

before the election, the report of an Internal FBI battle over whether to

investigate the Clinton foundation, which never materialized.  After the

election, after Trump`s victory, the focus sharpened on Russian

interference, but it was the FBI that wouldn`t initially sign on to the

consensus of the other intelligence agencies that Russian interference into

the election was intended to help elect Donald Trump.  Today, the latest,

the White House defending Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asking the FBI to

publicly knock down stories of investigations into contacts with Russia. 


Their defense, that both FBI Director James Comey and FBI director –

Deputy Director Andrew McCabe had knocked down such reports in private

conversations.  Joining me again tonight, Matt Miller, former Aide to

Attorney General Eric Holder, former Justice Department Spokesperson.  Now,

I want to be clear here, this is the White House`s account that essentially

just emanated (INAUDIBLE) from the FBI.  They wanted to say, “hey look,

that`s not true in New York Times.”  So I don`t know if that`s true or not. 

If it is true is that proper.



It`s always dangerous to assume that what Sean Spicer said is a fair and

accurate rendering of what actually happened.  But if it is what happened,

no, it`s not proper.  The – this investigation is into the President`s

campaign, into the campaign associates, people like Paul Manafort, people

like Carter Page and you know, Reince Priebus was involved in that

campaign.  He of course was the Chairman of the RNC.  He was in Trump tower

all the time.  Multiple other, people in the White House, obviously

including the President himself were involved in the campaign so in no way

should the FBI ever be talking to the subjects of an investigation about

where that investigation stands.  I can think of no other case, I you were

investigating a bank, if you were investigating – you know, someone for

fraud, you would never, ever come to them and say “Oh, yes, there was a

story that ran and by the way, we don`t think that story is true.”  It just

– it just does not happen and it`s completely inappropriate.


HAYES:  Right.  I mean, so the point here as I understand it is, even if –

let`s say – let`s assume the set of facts most charitable to the White

House.  The reports were wrong and that, you know, and that this did

emanate from the FBI.  It still strikes me even in the most charitable set

of circumstances as a totally improper communication.


MILLER:  Yes.  That`s right.  There is no other way to look at it.  I –

it`s hard to know what McCabe was thinking when he had that conversation

with Priebus.  And then it`s hard to know what he was thinking when he had

the – I mean, the follow-up call – I mean when Comey had the follow-up

call where he apparently confirmed the same thing, if that indeed is what

they did.  And part of the problem here is, so, you know, the FBI is – you

know, Senior FBI Officials, people like Comey, people like McCabe are

constantly at the White House, they`re involved in intelligence matters,

you know, the President referees disputes between the FBI and other

agencies, so they have a lot of equities in play at the White House which

goes to show how awkward it is for them to also be investigating the

President and now, given what they`ve done, how compromised.  I mean, if it

is – if this is true, how compromised they are.  You know, they have now

gone and because they briefed him, I think they did very difficult for them

to continue to oversee this investigation.


HAYES:  Well, and then you also have something that you and I have talked

about now for months.  And again, I don`t want to impugn the FBI as a

massive organization that has thousands of people who do incredibly

important work every day.  So I don`t want to sort of paint with a broad

brush here but what has appeared to be the case, based on some of the leaks

that happened both before the election particularly in the run up of the

election was a kind of – things coming out of the FBI that really seemed

to be putting the thumb on the scale frankly against Hillary Clinton and

for Donald Trump.


MILLER:  Yes.  There`s no other way to look at it.  I think look, most

people in the FBI do lean conservative.  I think that if you look at the

broad population of the FBI, they do.  But that doesn`t mean that most of

them aren`t not fair and their job`s fair, and I think they do.  But

without a – without question some of the stories during the campaign –

you know, I think Comey did what he did for a lot of reasons, I don`t think

they were partisan – they were partisan reasons but the Wall Street

Journal story that you flashed on the screen a minute ago, leaks from the

New York Field Office were clearly done to hurt Hillary Clinton.  Those

were leaks from field agents that clearly were done to target her to try to

make it harder for her to be elected President and it`s a sign that there

is a – you know a problem and that makes it surprising that Comey, you

know, isn`t more sensitive to that –


HAYES:  Right.


MILLER:  – given what happened in the campaign that he then would have

this type of conversation with Priebus and that McCabe would have this type

of conversation.  You think if anything they would be bending over

backwards to make it clear that they are going to be independent and

accountable to the facts and the law and not to the President.


HAYES:  All right.  Matt Miller, thanks for your time again.  Appreciate



MILLER:  Thanks.


HAYES:  Coming up, President Trump`s speech today divided the country into

the side that won, and the side that lost and made it clear exactly which

side he is President of.  We`ll talk about that ahead.




HAYES:  The President of the United States used his appearance at CPAC this

morning to paint his by now standard vision of a dystrophic world rife with

violence and danger.




TRUMP:  I mean, can you believe what`s happening in Chicago as an example? 

Two days ago, seven people were shot and I believe killed.  Seven people,

seven people.  Chicago.  A great American city.


By the way, take a look at what`s happening in Europe folks.  Take a look

at what`s happening in Europe.  Take a look at what happened in Sweden. 

Take a look at what`s happening in Sweden.  Take a look at what`s happening

in Germany.  Take a look at what`s happened in France.  Take a look at Nice

and Paris.  Take a look at what`s happening to our world, folks.




HAYES:  But, for all of that, the President was noticeably silent on

several other recent examples of political violence.  He said nothing about

the arson fire set at a Tampa, Florida mosque early this morning.  Nor did

he mention the hate crime investigation currently under way in Kansas after

Adam Purinton, a navy veteran, reportedly opened fire on two engineers from

India at a bar killing one of them, wounding the other as well as a

bystander who tried to intervene.  According to the Kansas Star, at least

one witness reportedly heard him say “Get out of my country” before the

shooting.  He was later arrested at another bar when the bartender called

police after the suspect allegedly said he killed two Middle Eastern men. 

The father of the surviving Indian engineer is now urging his son to come

home telling the local paper “The situation seems to be pretty bad after

Trump took over as the U.S. President.  I appeal to all the parents in

India not to send their children to the U.S. in the present circumstances.” 

According to Reuters, White House Press Secretary said it was too early to

guess a motive for the attack and quote “It would be absurd to link the

action to President Donald Trump`s rhetoric.”  There`s a reason Trump

brought up Chicago and Paris and Sweden this morning and not Kansas or

Tampa.  He was telling his base what they want to hear.  What it looks like

when the President of the United States is actually the President of his

base.  Next.






REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) WISCONSIN:  Today, I am inviting President Trump to

address a joint session of congress on February 28.  This will be an

opportunity for the people and their representatives to hear directly from

our new president about his vision and our shared agenda.




HAYES:  On Tuesday night, Donald Trump will deliver his first address to a

joint session of

congress.  It will be the first time he stands before both chambers in what

amounts to a version of the State of the Union Addressed reserved for newly

inaugurated presidents.


And it will be the president`s first opportunity to lay out his extended

vision for the country since his rather brief inaugural address.


But today, the president gave a speech at the Conservative Political Action

Conference and

whether it was his promise to throw, quote, “criminal aliens the hell out

of the country” or when he was discussing the ubiquitous protests against

the repeal of the ACA, it seemed to be very clear he was not speaking as

president of all the American people, just his base, the winners.




TRUMP:  Obamacare doesn`t work, folks, I mean, I could say, I could talk,

it doesn`t work.  And now people are starting to develop a little warm

heart, but the people that you`re watching, they`re not you.  They`re

largely – many of them are the side that lost.  They lost the election. 

It`s like how many elections do we have to have?  They lost the election.




HAYES:  Joining me now Michelle Goldberg, columnist for Slate who recently

today got back from CPAC.


I thought that was such a perfect indication of the president`s world view,

genuinely held.  They`re not you.  The people that I represented – I am

the president of the people that voted for me.


MICHELLE GOLDBERG, SLATE:  Right, to the victor goes the spoils.


HAYES:  Exactly.  And we won, they lost.  And so they don`t matter.


And he almost seems offended that they still want to have a say in the



GOLDBERG:  I mean, he said the same thing during his press conference when

he was talking about the town halls and saying, but they`re not the

Republican people who our Republican representatives are representing,

right, so they don`t get to be represented. 


And there`s a kind of mystification when Trump talks about quote/unquote

the people.  You know, when he talks about the people, he really means the

small minority or – not small–


HAYES: Sizable minority, a huge minority.


GOLDBERG:  The minority of America that elected him, and either he`s

convinced himself that they really are synonymous with the American people

or else he just believes that they`re the people who matter.


HAYES:  And there`s this thing that`s happening, right, where he`s talking

about the – he`s presenting the nationalist vision.  And you had a

dispatch there that I thought was fascinating where

you just were sort of bumping into people who were just sort of avowedly

white nationalists.




HAYES:  Someone saying to you “people think alt-right is simply about being

mean to other people.  It`s really not.  Alt-right is identity politics for

white people.”  That`s the line of Richard

Spencer who is a white supremacist.


GOLDBERG:  And keep in mind, he`s saying that as a good thing, right.  I

mean, there`s other people who said alt-right is identity politics for

white people as a criticism.  He didn`t mean it that way.  And let`s be

clear, this is somebody, a president of his college Republican chapter

speaking to me with his name.  You know, I`ve been covering CPAC on and

off, you know, for longer than I`d like to admit, certainly since the

administration of George W. Bush.  It has not, in the past, you can always

find somebody at CPAC to say something outrageous.  You don`t – I`ve never

seen before kind of young people under their own names so eager to

associate themselves with white nationalism.


HAYES:  just walking around willing to talk to a reporter and say, yes,

that`s my game.


GOLDBERG:  Right, so one of the big shows on Thursday was the white

nationalist Richard Spencer crashed CPAC and kind of held a little

impromptu gaggle in the hallway and they eventually after a couple hours

threw him out.  But what was really interesting was seeing all the college

kids coming up to him and taking selfies and, you know, being, like, one of

them was like that`s the coolest guy.


HAYES:  And like flashing his journal at him.


GOLDBERG:  Yeah, not his journal, he picks up out of his bag a t-shirt with

the name of Richard Spencer`s white supremacist journal like flashing it at

him like he just had this on him.  He didn`t know Richard Spencer was going

to be there.


HAYES:  And let`s be clear, this is the crowd that the president of the

United States addressed today.  Those are the same people that the

president of the United States addressed today.


GOLDBERG:  Right.  And there are – I mean, I`m not using white nationalist

here as a slur, that`s how they would describe themselves.  Their goal is a

white ethnostate in America., And that was – even though CPAC – CPAC is

now in this weird position because on the one hand they`re riding this

energy.  They obviously want to celebrate their Republican president.  At

the same time, they want to  distance themselves from the alt-right.  And

so they`ve now kind of created this bizarre alternative alternative history

of the alt-right in which it`s really a left wing movement.


It`s so weird and demented.


But because the base at this thing are now people who celebrate not just

hyper-nationalism in the United States but you got, you know, crazy

applause for Nigel Farrage, the British–


HAYES:  Architect of Brexit.


GOLDBERG:  Right, who then, you know, he kind of gave a shoutout to Marine

Le Pen, you know, again wild applause.


HAYES:  The far right xenophobic Front National movement in France.


GOLDBERG;  Right.  You did not used to – these kind of ideas it`s very new

for them to have a foothold at CPAC, much less–


HAYES:  Dominate. 


GOLDBERG:  I shouldn`t say – they`ve always been maybe around the fringe

of CPAC, now they are CPAC.


HAYES:  Michelle Goldberg, thanks for joining us.  Appreciate it.


Still to come, after a week of passionate and fiery town halls all across

the country, what will next week look like when congress is back in

session?  Charlie Pierce, Jesse McIntosh join me to talk about that ahead.


Plus, a new Obama sighting today in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two after

this break.




HAYES:  Thing One tonight.  As President Trump sought to portray the media

as fake news

and proclaim the journalists the, quote, “enemy of the people” at CPAC

today, he said this.




TRUMP:  By the way, you folks are in here. The place is packed.  There are

lines that go back six blocks, and I tell you about that because you won`t

read about it, okay?  But there are lines that go back six blocks.




HAYES:  That was a pretty easily checkable claim.  All you need to do is go

outside and look.


And no, you won`t be reading about it, because it was, of course, not true. 

Minutes after that comment, a reporter from Jezebel shared these two photos

from outside the convention center and hotel.  There was, we should note, a

small group gathered across from the convention center.  They were anti-

Trump protesters.


And a reporter from Refinery 29 noted “didn`t see lines personally, but

lots of space here in the back of the ballroom.”


Now, it so happens we did find a crowd of enthusiastic supporters waiting

outside for a U.S. president today, it just wasn`t anywhere close to CPAC.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  More people – he`s coming!  He`s coming!  He`s







HAYES:  Barack Obama`s surprise appearance in New York City is Thick Two in

60 seconds.






UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No, don`t be disappointed, there`s more people –

he`s coming!  He`s coming!  He`s coming!








UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Obama, you rock.  You rock.






HAYES:  Obama exited an office building in Manhattan holding a coffee as

throngs of people

packed the street and even climbed scaffolding to see him. 


It`s not clear what the former president was doing in the city, but after

flying under the radar

since inauguration, these folks were pretty psyched to catch a few seconds

of 44.














UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Three members of my family, including me, that would

be dead, dead and homeless if it was not for ACA.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I`m an angry constituent.  You work for us!






UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I`m on Obamacare.  If it wasn`t for Obamacare, we

wouldn`t be able to afford insurance.


Don`t repeal Obamacare.  Improve it, for god`s sake.






HAYES:  As this week of incredible mobilization and protests at town halls

nationwide, draws to a close, it seems like the odds of the Affordable Care

Act being repealed today are lower than they were just one week ago.  And

that`s not only my assessment, it`s also the assessment of a man who wants

to repeal the ACA, conservative Republican Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama

who dispairingly had this to say in a radio interview yesterday.




BROOKS:  I`ll tell you, Toni, there are a, in my opinion, a significant

number of congressmen who are being impacted by these kinds of protests a

their spine is a  little bit weak and I don`t know if we`re going to be

able to repeal Obamacare now because these folks who support Obamacare are

very active, they`re putting pressure on congressmen, and there`s not a

counter effort to steel the spine of some of these congressmen in tossup

districts around the country.




HAYES:  Now, keep in mind, this is just the first recess after the first

month of Donald Trump`s

presidency.  Republicans haven`t even proposed a bill on Obamacare yet. 

Congress will be back in session on Monday, though, and Democrats will be

electing a new party chair over the weekend.


So, the question is, where does all the anger, intensity, mobilization and

organizing that we saw this week go next?  We`ll discuss after the break.







left, they`ve turned protesting into what seems like a full-time

profession.  I mean, seriously.  I mean, you`d think that for $1,500 a week

they`d at least know what they`re protesting.  But – and you`ve seen it. 

I mean, half of them, they can`t even tell you.




HAYES:  At CPAC this afternoon, CEO of the National Rifle Association and

well known troll

Wayne Lapierre resorted to the same fiction many conservatives have been

peddling about paid protesters at town halls, $1500 a week.  Imagine.


They don`t want to believe it, but there really is real energy on the left,

so how does it get channeled now?


Joining me now, Jess McIntosh, former Clinton campaign adviser, executive

editor at Shareblue, an anti-Trump media company; and Charlie Pierce,

writer at large with Esquire.


So, how do you understand what happened this week and then what happens

going forward?



incredible to see the organic response at these town halls.


HAYES:  well, all these people are being paid $1500.


MCINTOSH:  It`s a very, very lucrative thing to do.


HAYES:  Like the 62-year-old pig farmer who talked to Chuck Grassley.


MCINTOSH:  Entirely in the pocket of George Soros.  That`s where he`s

getting his money.  It`s not the pigs.  No.


Obviously, these are real people.  And watching them wave their state IDs

and putting their zip

codes on their name tags, they do not want to be labeled paid protesters of

the left.  They are mad about that. 


I mean, the Democratic infrastructure is rushing to catch up to the

groundswell of actual organic grass-roots support for this stuff.  We are

trying to put together where do you find your town halls?  Everybody is

asking how do we make sure that we don`t miss anything and organizations

are scrambling to put out links to make sure that they`ve got – it`s not

being driven the other way.


HAYES:  Charlie, this is a great point, because I think there`s a – the

idea I think on the right is that this is a top-down, that, you know,

people are being told what to do.  And it really is the opposite and I

think it relates to what`s happening this weekend where the DNC is going to

have its election to see who runs the DNC, the top two candidates as of

now, Tom Perez, former secretary of labor, Keith

Ellison, current congressman from Minnesota.  And it`s sort of viewed in

some ways as a kind of proxy war between the sort of Bernie Sanders wing of

the party, because Ellison was a prominent Sanders surrogate and the sort

of the Obama/Clinton wing, because Perez is more associated with them.


Do you think – I guess the question is how does that intersect with what

we`re seeing as this groundswell of activism?


CHARLIE PIERCE, ESQUIRE:  Well, first of all, $1,500 a week and I`ll march

against puppies and rainbows.  I`m just putting that out right now.  I am

for sale at that price.


No, I think the most important thing that`s going on down here is what you

and Jess were just discussing, which is how is the structure of the

Democratic Party take advantage of all this creative tumult going on on

that side of the political spectrum and how does that side of the political

spectrum integrate itself, if that is, in fact, what it wants to do, with

the structure of the Democratic Party?  To me, that`s a much more

interesting story and a much more important story than who is eventually

the Democratic National Chairman, which, frankly, having been around it for

a couple days, looks like the

world`s biggest student council election.


HAYES:  And what do you think – one thing I think is key here is how this

gets channeled and

diverted.  So, one place people are looking at is starting to think about

electoral consequences.  And we saw – remember, I`ll never forget walking

– I will never forget walking around Capitol Hill the day after Scott

Brown won and I ran into a member of congress, a Democratic member of

congress who looked like he had just been told that his family had perished

in an accident.  He looked so forlorn.  He said to me “it`s over, it`s



Now, it wasn`t done.  There are opportunities for Democrats to put points

on the board.  There`s the Kansas fourth special election replacing Mike

Pompeo April 11, that is an incredibly difficult district.  It`s very red

rock Republican.


But Georgia sixth, Tom Price, that was a very close district.  That is a –

that`s going to happen.  So there are – you don`t to wait until 2018 until

you start to see.


MCINTOSH:  No.  And these are low turnout election, which is means that

with a lot of highly motivated folks, even if you`re in the minority, you

can pull one out.  So I want to make sure that we`re

looking as Democrats at 2017 and all of these options so that we`re not

telling people in 2018 for the first time, hey, turn some of this activist

energy into an electoral victory.


We need to be doing it now.  There are state legislative elections

tomorrow.  In Delaware, there`s a special election that could decide

control of the state legislature.  We need to see if Democrats–


HAYES:  Which we have learned matters a tremendous amount, whatever your

politics are.


MCINTOSH:  And progressives have consistently lagged behind Republicans in

our organizing

around those things.  This is the year we have to correct that.


HAYES:  Charlie, since you`ve been covering this DNC race and what you said

about the student council race, it does strike me, though, that there is

this real question, right, about the sort of Sanders wing of the party,

people that activated around Bernie Sanders, that have sort of activated

around Keith Ellison, the message it will send to them if Ellison loses.


Ellison, I saw just now sort of talking about the need for unity.  Do you

think that`s a real a danger from what you`ve reported?


PIERCE;  Yeah, I think that there are people who are seeing this as an

opportunity to re-litigate the 2016 primaries, and that`s incredibly



But I also went to a panel today that was put together by all these kind of

organizations that have sprung up in the last few years – Black Lives

Matter, the women`s march, a couple of other ones I

hadn`t heard of including one very interesting thing called the Sista

Precinct Project which is about taking people in areas and precincts and

congressional districts that Democrats can`t lose and channeling them, or

partnering them up with tough races in redder states.


HAYES:  Interesting.


PIERCE:  Which I think is a great idea.


But I hope – the other thing – the thing about these organizations,

Chris, is that they`re not necessarily attached to Bernie Sanders, either.


HAYES:  right.


PIERCE:  I mean, these people are free-floating activists on their own hook

asking to essentially be included in whatever comes out of here.


HAYES:  And on the sort of electoral part of this, one of the things I

think that to sort of keep in mind is as gerrymandered as things are, there

are 23 house Republicans who hold seats in districts that voted for Hillary

Clinton and when you heard Mo Brooks said – there are people, I had one of

them last night, Leonard Lance, on this show, pressure is going – that`s

the point of the spear.


MCINTOSH:  Oh, absolutely.  I mean, you had a Republican freshman come out

today and agree with his town hall crowd that Donald Trump ought to release

his tax returns.  And this is a guy who had previously ended town halls by

chanting “make America great again.”  This is not somebody who would

typically be caving like that.


So there`s pressure to be applied and we`re seeing it this week.


PIERCE;  This is also the guy who wants to eliminate the EPA.


HAYES:  Right, well, universal law, pressure works.  Jess McIntosh, Charlie

Pierce, in all endeavors in life.


That is All In for this evening.  Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. 

Good evening, Rachel.







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