All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 7/17/17 The Russian Government Attorney
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: July 17, 2017
Guest: Jim Himes, Julia Ioffe
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort and what this
band of (INAUDIBLE) men were up to last summer when they invited the
Russians into Trump Tower to help them win the election. Just think again
for a lonely second precisely what your reaction would be if young Chelsea
had been the happy host of that affair. This is HARDBALL for now, “ALL IN”
with Chris Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI MELBER, MSNBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don`t like
those - I don`t like Pinocchios.
MELBER: Donald Trump tries to turn the page but the Russia questions keep
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There was nothing as far as we
know that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for
discussion about adoption.
MELBER: Tonight, new White House spin and a new defense by the President
of attempted collusion with Russia.
Then Julia Ioffe with new reporting on the Kremlin connections of the
Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr. And as the resistance takes the Hill
and the President cheers on John McCain -
TRUMP: He`s a crusty voice in Washington, plus we need his vote.
MELBER: The very latest on the fate of Trumpcare in the Senate when ALL IN
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Good evening from New York. I am Ari Melber in for Chris Hayes.
The White House is trying to turn the page on the Russia scandal by using a
pretty traditional Washington strategy. They are now branding this made in
America week an irony not lost on anyone familiar with the products the
President`s companies have sold. But even as the Trump administration
tries to spotlight American manufacturing, it still cannot get its story
straight about whether the strategies used by the Trump campaign were
actually made in Russia. Today White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer
returned to the briefing room, as you may know, this is the first time he`s
done that in three weeks. There`s no video of the event because the White
House barred media from broadcasting any of this briefing on air.
Reporters though were able to put forward their questions, they pressed
Spicer on Trump Jr.`s meeting during this campaign with the Kremlin linked
lawyer who`d been built as offering dirt in writing in that now infamous e-
mail about Hillary Clinton and stating that it would be courtesy of the
Russian government. Spicer, however, claimed that Trump Jr. just wanted to
find out what the meeting would be about and added this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SPICER: There`s nothing, as far as we know, that would lead anyone to
believe that there was anything except for discussion about adoption and
the Magnitsky Act. But I would refer you back to counsel on that one.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MELBER: That is not true and it is not what Trump Jr. himself has already
publicly confessed by releasing that e-mail about the meeting. We`ll quote
from it directly where he says or it was, of course, presented to him that
he was offered official documents and information that would incriminate
Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your
father and here`s the kicker, as you heard by now “part of Russia and its
government support for Mr. Trump.” Trump Jr. then wrote something that he
certainly regrets by now, saying “if it`s what you say, I love it.”
Meanwhile, for his part, President Trump who has long denied any type of
collusion now seems to be admitting that if any attempted collusion did
take place, it was not a big deal and his son would actually have been,
yes, crazy not to try to take a meeting for potential collusion with
Russia. Let me read you the quote. “Most politicians would have gone to a
meeting like the one Don Junior attended in order to get info on an
opponent. That`s politics.”
Of course, the question isn`t whether this is politics. The question is
whether it involved espionage. Now, then you have - beyond the Twitter`s
sphere - you have the President`s own criminal defense lawyer, Jay Sekulow,
making the rounds on the Sunday shows and arguing something pretty
remarkable in a season of remarkable claims. We`re going to play this for
you in some depth so you can hear it straight from him. The argument now,
Monday night coming out of Sunday, appears to be from the White House that
even if this type of foreign collusion took place, it doesn`t mean laws
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S LAWYER: If there`s investigation you`re
looking at, what law may have been violated here? And again the meeting
and what took place at the meeting, based on all the information that you
just said is not a violation of any law, statute or code.
I would say the vast majority of lawyers that you`ve interviewed and others
have interviewed in your network and other networks have acknowledged that
the meetings itself and those proposed discussions would not have been a
violation of the law. When you talk about Russian collusion, colluding to
do what? What - colluding to violate what law? Everyone is acting as if
there`s this massive collusion statute that only applies here. The fact is
there is no collusion statute.
I keep going back to this fundamental issue. What is the legal statute
that has been violated here or alleged to be violated here? What would be
in other words the subject of that questioning under oath?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What is the legal statute? Well, Sekulow`s job, of course, is to
defend his client, President Trump. He`s going to find ways to argue this
was all legal. But what is the statute, that question? Well, there are
actually several statutes implicated. That includes the federal election
laws, felonies related to computer hacking, statutes on conspiracy, and
being an as accessory after the fact to a crime. We already know some laws
were broken during all of this in 2016, hacking being the most blatant.
The question is not whether statutes are implicated but rather whether
people like Trump Jr. were witnesses to those crimes or accomplices. I
turn to Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut, a Member of the
House Intel Committee, which investigates a lot of these Russia issues.
Now, put aside whether the meeting itself was legal or a potential element
of a crime. Even if Robert Mueller`s folks don`t ultimately find that this
meeting was the predicate to a crime, does your Committee have an interest
in whether it is evidence of foreign interference that would itself be a
problem for the United States?
REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: Of course we do, Ari. And you know, that
is no longer a question. Obviously, the Intelligence Community told us
long ago that there was a concerted effort on the part of the Russians to
work - to attack our election and to do it on behalf of Donald Trump. Of
course, the White House denied that right up until the very moment that the
President`s own son released e-mails indicating that he - not only he but
all of the key people in the campaign sat down for the express purpose Sean
Spicer`s statement not withstanding to get compromising information. And
the reason that really matters are, first of all, anyone who tells you that
no crimes were broken is spinning because we don`t know exactly what
happened in that meeting and more importantly, we don`t know what happened
after that meeting. But here`s what really worries me this standpoint
apart from the complete destruction of the White House`s credibility, that
in and of itself is a pretty serious thing. But look, what`s happening
right now is we are defining acceptable behavior, not just down, but deep
into the cesspool. And what I mean by that is, first of all, the President
is wrong. I don`t know any politicians who would take a meeting with
Russians knowing the Russia government was behind it for the purpose of
getting incriminating information on their opponent. But now, you know,
people all over this country thinking about running for Congress, running
for Senate, just heard what the President of the United States say, that`s
just same old, same old. And that`s you know, that is sort of taking what
used to be a set of norms and ethics and values that everybody of both
parties used to agree to and just dumping it deep, deep into the cesspool.
MELBER: Well, you talk about looking into that cesspool. What does it
tell you as someone on the relevant investigative body that the White House
defense went from, we didn`t do it, to if we did it, it`s actually OK.
HIMES: Well, Ari, look, I mean, from the standpoint of serious people, and
I`m not quite sure how that`s defined anymore. But from the standpoint f
serious people, what the White House says no longer matters. I mean, this
White House and Sean Spicer, in particular, kicked off this administration
by marching out into the White House press room and explaining how this was
the largest inaugural crowd ever, all evidence to the contrary. And then
the President would have won but for those, three or four million
fraudulent vote that nobody believes occurred. So you know - and you got
the President`s lawyer saying this - if the secret service let this meeting
happen, it must have been OK. First of all the Secret Service was not
covering Donald Trump Jr. at the time and secondly, that`s actually not the
Secret Service`s job to be a moral arbiter of the of the people whose lives
they protect. So sadly Ari, the answer to your question is that what the
White House says does not matter and in fact, can probably be assumed to be
MELBER: So, what does that tell you though when they`re putting out
defenses that are factually false that they either don`t care or they want
to see that if the trial balloon somehow worked, then it would be good
enough for them, the Secret Service example?
HIMES: I guess, look, we`re in an uncharted territory here. I mean, you
know, crisis management 101, which this White House threw overboard you
know, five months ago is that when you have a problem - and Ari, this will
be studied in communications and PR and crisis management classes for
decades to come - you know, the conventional wisdom which is conventional
for a reason is that when you have something that`s an irritant like this,
get it all out. You know, just make everybody in the administration list
with great and exquisite detail. All of the meetings they had with the
Russians, if that happened maybe you take a couple weeks of bad press,
maybe a few people who did some bad stuff get told to go away. But they
have managed to through their obfuscation, through their persistent lies,
through their fantastical generations of alibis that make no sense, assure
that tomorrow and the next day and months to come, we will once again be
consuming time and energy not on transportation, not on health care, but on
the bizarre antics of the White House.
MELBER: Congressman Jim Himes, strong words about an issue, undermines
many Americans, I think it`s fair to say thanks for your time tonight.
HIMES: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: Now, I want to turn for more analysis to MSNBC Terrorism Expert
Malcolm Nance and Matt Miller, NBC Security Analyst and also a former Aide
to Eric Holder. Matt Miller, you know how defenses work. Your view of the
shift from a denial or alibi posture, as I was talking to the Congressman,
the argument that we didn`t do it, to actually we were there and if we did
it, it`s no biggie.
MATT MILLER, NBC NEWS SECURITY ANALYST: I think, two things are at work.
One, obviously, to use a famous Watergate phrase, the previous statement
was no longer operative. They can now longer claim that it didn`t happen
despite Sean Spicer`s kind of crazy statement today. They could no longer
claim it didn`t happen when e-mails were leased that it very clearly did.
And so now they have to move to claim that this behavior is acceptable.
And then there`s a second much more pernicious thing that I think is
happening which is that the President is trying to condition the American
people and if not all of them, condition his base, to believe that you
know, no matter what I did, even if I did the worst thing my opponents have
said about me, something I denied all the way back to the campaign, that we
were willing to include with the Russian government that`s acceptable
behavior. I think it`s a way to defend what his son and what his son-in-
law and what his Campaign Manager did in taking this meeting and it`s a
potentially a way to defend something much worse that could come out to
say, you know what, it`s OK to act this way in a campaign.
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, he is absolutely right. The
Trump campaign is framing this as this giant massive conspiracy that`s
coming from the left. And that first initially it was we didn`t do
anything and now it`s yes we may have colluded but collusion is not
illegal. You know, your earlier - you were speaking to the Congressman
earlier. There are laws that are being broken here. The first one falls
under the RICO Act, Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organizations,
conspiracy to commit election fraud. Conspiracy, quite possibly we don`t
know what they`ve said in these meetings. It could even reach as high as
the espionage act. Everyone should be upset over these meetings. And to
use another Watergate phrase, we really need to know what did they know,
when did they know it and was Donald Trump present at any of discussions
before or after this meeting?
MELBER: Right. And to update the Watergate phrase as you put it, Malcolm,
also, who did they know? Because election law is very clear that all
people are created equal unless they are foreigners, in which case they are
not equal and do not have standing and are not allowed to vote or donate
money. And that is clear election (INAUDIBLE) that if anything the
Congress has tightened in a bipartisan basis. So with that in mind, I want
to play for you, what is again, I don`t know if people have the capacity to
be shocked but what is a rather shocking statement of demeaning the bar
down from Fox News` Jeanine Pirro talking about how it`s OK to meet with
anyone if they have something you want which is of course as you would
know, as the judge is actually contrary to the law. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANINE PIRO, FOX NEWS HOST: If the devil called me and said he wanted to
set up a meeting to give me opposition research on my opponent, I`d be on
the first trolley to hell to get it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Malcolm, I`m not going to ask you to comment on the sulfur coming
out of that clip about the devil but insert foreigner for devil and tell me
whether from a security or legal standpoint that is the proper approach.
NANCE: If this is the strategy that they`re going to go to. If we start
seeing a solid shift to Judge Piro`s strategy, and they`re going to start
positively saying that foreign operatives or foreign intelligence officers
are legitimate, then we have got a crisis in national security going on.
That means, you know, these people do not care about the laws regarding
this national security of the United States. And at that point, that means
that they`re probably covering up something very bad. And that`s why we
have a spy hunt going on with the Special Counsel using the national
security apparatus and the spy hunters of the FBI to determine what was the
status of these foreign individuals. This is not good in any optics but
like you said, they`re playing the 25 percent and they`re trying to show
that this activity was actually patriotic. And that anything that anyone
else says, whether it`s the FBI or the Special Prosecutor or Congress, that
they`re a bunch of fools. We`ve got a very serious propaganda problem
going on if this is the case.
MELBER: Matt Miller speak to that and this illegal and security notion of
who is giving up the goods because it is certainly true that campaigns try
to lawfully collect negative information on their opponent but they can`t
buy it from felons if they know that it`s the fruit of a crime. They
cannot - as I just said – legally try to collaborate with or get money or
assistance from foreigners. And yet, it seems like, I don`t want to be
unfair to the defenses being offered but it does seem like we`re hearing a
predicate for the open defense of that kind of illegal - potentially
MILLER: Yes, that`s right. What they`re saying is the campaign financed
laws that accepting a thing of value from a foreign national just don`t
apply and potentially other laws that could be implicated don`t apply. But
there`s one very important thing from this memo that I think as somewhat
been underreported. We know, according to interviews that Rinat
Akhmetshin, the Russian-American lobbyist has conducted in the last few
days, that when they had that meeting, they left a memo with the Trump
campaign. They brought a memo, potentially we - if you look at the e-mails
you have to believe it was derogatory information about Hillary Clinton
that they left behind. That would appear to be a thing of value under
campaign finance laws and what we need to know is what happened with that
memo. Did the president see it? We know that Donald Trump in the days
after that promised a major speech where he would reveal new information
about Hillary Clinton. I think those questions are the kind that Robert
Mueller is going to be investigating. Who knew what about the meeting,
when did they know it, and what did they do with that information?
MELBER: And finally Matt Miller, when you read those e-mails, do they
strike you as a one-off out of the blue as the Trump folks suggested or do
they read to you like an ongoing conversation and the e-mail is one of
several potential beats.
MILLER: It looks to me like that e-mail was a first outreach from the
Russia government to find out whether the Trump campaign would be
interested in collaboration and they got a clear signal back they - well,
would be. And I think as Chris pointed out on the show last night, it
appears there was a phone call between Don Junior and Rod Goldstone where
they talked about that information. And then, you know, you have to ask
yourself if Donald Trump Jr. was so excited about this information and he
said I love it and I love it more later this summer is that the end of it?
We know that there were ongoing contacts between the senior Trump official
and the Russian government that`s been reported extensively. And -
MELBER: Let me be clear, I said last question but - I said last question
but you`re making me think of something else. Are you suggesting that when
he said I love it later this summer, that he was potentially already
beginning a type of discussion or brainstorming about how to release
MILLER: Well, you just have to look at what happened. So this
conversation was in early June, Donald Trump Jr. say, I love it later this
summer. What happened later this summer? Well, in late July, right before
the Democratic Convention, the first batch of e-mails leaked. We know the
Russians hacked those e-mails in the spring, they held onto them and when
did they released them, later in the summer right before the Democratic
MELBER: Wow. Matt Miller and Malcolm Nance, your expertise very valuable
and are very big story. I appreciate it.
Up next, the Russian lawyer at the center of this Trump, Kushner, Manafort
meeting, what we know about her and the Kremlin ties. This is all thanks
to some very original reporting in the Atlantic and the author Julie Ioffe
joins me next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT TRUMP`S SON: There is nothing there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So she is saying that she had no information to
provide. Do you remember what she`s suggesting that you were pressing her
a little bit for information?
TRUMP JR.: I image I did. I mean, I was probably pressing because the
pretext of the meeting was hey, I have information about your opponent. It
was this - you know, hey, some DNC donors may have done something in Russia
and they didn`t pay taxes. I was like, what does this have to do with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Good question, Donald Trump Jr. knew why he was meeting with
someone advertised in writing as a Russian government attorney from that e-
mail. “The crown prosecutor of Russia offered to provide official
documents and information that would incriminate Hillary in her dealings
with Russia and would be useful to your father,” they wrote, as yes, “part
of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump.” That is what Donald
Trump Jr. and his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and Campaign Manager Paul
Manafort, a veritable suite of VIPs gathered and were hoping to get out of
what is now this infamous meeting, a meeting that has been lied about that
occurred at Trump Tower about a year ago. As for that so called or at
least in writing described as, “Russia government attorney,” well, we
should report for you, she says she has no connection to the Russia
government. She did serve of course as a prosecutor but told NBC News she
never even had any compromising material on Trump`s opponent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA, RUSSIAN LAWYER (through translator): Donald, he was
the only one I spoke to.
MELBER: She said she was there to lobby against a law she said was
affecting her client, a well-connected Russia, a law that also imposed
sanctions on Russia. But she says he was interested in information about
possible illegal donations to Democrats.
VESELNITSKAYA (through translator): I can tell you right now, I have never
referred to any compromising information about Mrs. Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So some discrepancies there. How did this self-proclaimed
adoption lawyer lobbyist end up at the center of what is now looking like
one of the biggest political scandals in American history? It`s a question
a lot of people have been pursuing but one at the Atlantic`s Julia Ioffe
has pursued more doggedly. She asked in this new report who is Natalia
Veselnitskaya, and what does she want? I`m happy to say Julia Ioffe is
here on ALL IN. What did you find out about her and how she ended up in
JULIA IOFFE, THE ATLANTIC STAFF WRITER: She is a very interesting person
and as one longtime Russia watcher told me, it`s analogous to a real estate
lawyer from Hoboken ending up at the center of a massive international
scandal. You know, she comes from the Moscow region, which is very
suburban, very rural, and very rich and corrupt and rife with organized
crime. And that`s where she cut her teeth first as a prosecutor, then as a
private attorney working at the intersection between the government,
private business and organized crime. So that`s where she got her kind of
battle-ax, you know, super tough manner from. I should say, though, that
when a Russian says - somebody like Veselnitskaya who has admitted that she
knows Yury Chaika, this is the General Prosecutor of Russia. He`s the one
alluded to as the crown prosecutor of Russia, which is not a real position
but it`s referring to Chaika, a Putin loyalist, very close to Putin. She -
people who know her told me that she`s very close with that family. So she
might not have a technical you know - position with the Russian government
but you don`t just end up friends with Yury Chaika and then say, you know,
I have no connection to the Russian government.
MELBER: Well, right. And also -
IOFFE: And every - and every Russian doing business at law at this level
like her is connected to the government.
MELBER: And being a prosecutor means at one point you work for the
IOFFE: That`s right. And that`s how she met the Chaika family. Yes.
MELBER: I appreciate the nuance you`re providing because it`s relevant and
as you say it`s also the fact that the business connected elites, do the
bidding of the Kremlin when asked most typically but that sort of the
second step. The first step is the majority of people in Russia, like the
majority of people in most countries don`t ever work for the government,
she did, so that`s already close. And then I also want to ask you, you
have this reporting here, you spoke to Bill Browder, an investor who`s
caught - who`s fought with her in court and says quote - he tells you, “she
was probably the most aggressive person I`ve ever encountered in Russia.”
IOFFE: Yes, she is known as a very, very tough attorney. In one case,
when she first gained prominence in Russia, although it`s relative
prominence, people don`t know who she is. They were as surprised as we
were to find out about Natalia Veselnitskaya. She not only put away a
crime boss for 17 years but got arrest warrants - international arrest
warrants for the family of the business owner that had turned to the
organized crime boss for help.
MELBER: And then you write about her establishment of something called the
Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation, which she passed,
got created in 2016. Of course, the prime period we`re talking about. And
it was advertised as, “to helping to restart American adoption of Russian
children.” There`s been of course a lot of attention on this, but again,
in regard to the investigations going on, what is the significance that she
is someone whos`s going to these levels to do whatever you want to call it,
advocacy or lobbying in the U.S.
IOFFE: Well, she was - she didn`t create this NGO, just to be clear. She
was a representative of it. It`s strange that she was lobbying in the U.S.
so hard for this, given that she didn`t speak English. That said, let`s
get the topics of adoption off the table. This was not in any way about
adoptions. The adoption ban was a retaliatory measure by Vladimir Putin, a
very weird one, to punish his own people for something that the U.S. did to
the Russia. So it`s like a double (INAUDIBLE). What really upset
Veselnitskaya and her client and Vladimir Putin and the Russian elite was
the Magnitsky Act, which was pushed through by Bill Browder, a not
uncontroversial figure I must say, sanctioning a list of Russian officials
who were allegedly involved in the death of his lawyer and auditor Sergei
Magnitsky. And this gets at the very heart - the reason it angered them so
much it gets at the very heart of what the Russian elite do. The
government elite, nongovernment elite, the gray area in between, they steal
money at home, and then they have to get it out of the country because if
they leave it in the country, it will get stolen again by somebody else.
And the Magnitsky Act basically cut that pipeline and it was - that was
crucial to them. Otherwise -
MELBER: Right. And in carrot - in carrot and stick diplomacy, this was a
stick designed to hurt Russia so it`s obviously as we say not only about
adoption. Last question, having learned all this, what is your view of the
likelihood that she was connected to a real Kremlin operation here in this
IOFFE: I think we still need more facts about that. The one thing I want
to add to that Malcolm and Matt were talking about in the previous segment,
the question all along for Russia watchers has been, when Russia stood
accused of meddling in the American elections, we were all puzzled because
if you look at the lobbying effort mounted by Natalia Veselnitskaya and her
cohort, it was laughable. They didn`t - they barely knew how the American
political system worked. They couldn`t prevent it from getting passed.
They certainly didn`t know what the DNC was or the DCCC was. They didn`t
know how to - you know, what Florida 17, that district looked like in 2016.
Like how did they know where to aim their fire? Did they have local help?
And I think that`s the big red flag to people who know Russia.
IOFFE: And maybe - and maybe she was helping or looking for guidance on
where to guide those missiles.
MELBER: Right. You`re saying this was a tour through very complex terrain
and they landed an exact right spot. The question is did they have a local
IOFFE: That`s right.
MELBER: Julia Ioffe, thank you so much. Still, to come, protests return
to Capitol Hill and the other big story which Chris has been reporting on a
lot, now a delayed Trumpcare vote and the President`s pretty odd public
appeal to in-ailing John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We hope John McCain gets better very soon because we miss him.
He`s a crusty voice in Washington, plus we need his vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Crusty and you need him. President Donald Trump there implicitly
acknowledging what many reporters have said, the Senate cannot appear to
pass the health care overhaul down one with Senator McCain recovering from
this blood clot surgery and everyone wishing him well. Meanwhile, Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had of course said, they would hold this
delayed ones vote by this week and now delayed again with the McCain
situation. He is reportedly recovering at home in Arizona, which leaves
McConnell down this crucial third Republican vote on the bill.
Republicans vowing, though, to push ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) TEXAS: We all wish John McCain a speedy recovery.
And we need him in more ways than one, but, yes, I believe we have a full
contingent of Senators that we`ll have that vote. It`s important we do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The word is out about all this. You can see the protests kicking
back into gear. There have been weeks of them in the halls and offices of
Capitol Hill, constituents wanting to press senators with all of their
concerns about where this ends.
Opponents vowing to keep up the pressure during the delayed vote. And at
least 33 people arrested on Capitol Hill, this was by mid-afternoon today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Kill the bill, don`t kill us. Kill the bill, don`t kill us. Kill
the bill, don`t kill us. Kill the bill, don`t kill us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That is the lobby of the Heart senate Republican office building.
So what is the Republican response to all of this grassroots pressure?
Well, I`m about to speak to a Republican congressman who backs this health
care bill and says it is past time for repeal. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The Republican senators are great people, but they have a lot of
different states. Some states need this, some states need that, but we`re
getting it together and it`s going to happen. Right, Mike?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, sir.
TRUMP: I think.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: President Trump today pushing Republicans to get health care
through the Senate. With Mitch McConnell already two votes down the
majority leader can`t lose a single more senator, basically. He`s got down
to one. That makes the willingness of Maine Senator Susan Collins speaking
out against the bill all the more striking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: This bill would impose fundamental be
sweeping changes in the Medicaid program and those include very deep cuts
that would effect some of the most vulnerable people in our society,
including disabled children, poor seniors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining me now, Republican Congressman Roger Marshall of Kansas.
REP. ROGER MARSHALL, (R) KANSAS: Hey, good evening, Ari. Thanks for
having me on tonight.
MELBER: Absolutely, happy to have you here.
What`s your response there to the senator saying that these bills, both
versions, have these cuts to Medicaid that would hit the disabled and
people in nursing homes?
MARSHALL: Yeah, I certainly respect the senator. I think having worked
with thousands of Medicaid patients is that I would say Medicaid is broken.
One out of three physicians no longer accept Medicaid. Medicaid is so
broken and throwing money at it is not going to fix it.
MELBER: And so what does this bill do to fix it?
MARSHALL: Not enough. There`s so many things that need to go beyond this
bill to fix the people that have low coverage. Right now Medicaid is not
working. We need to get this bill finished so we can doing more things to
help those people.
Number one by helping get the economy stronger. Moving people from welfare
to work would be one simple solution so people would truly have good jobs
and they could more access to health care.
MELBER: But just to be clear, you`re on record saying that these cuts
might save money, but don`t fix Medicaid. So, you`re sort of saying cut
first, fix later.
MARSHALL: Oh, not at all.
I`m just saying that throwing money at this is not going to fix the
problem. And there`s some growth inequities right now between the Medicaid
expansion states and those that are not on Medicaid expansion, and throwing
billions of dollars has not fixed it or helped health care. So throwing
more dollars that this country can`t afford is not going to fix this
either. Instead, it`ll break the country and
nobody will have health care.
MELBER: Let me read a new tweet here that is a statement that has some
political significance. I`m sure you`ll grasp it immediately. This is
from Senator Jerry Moran, your Senator, you know. He says that he and his
colleague Mike Lee will not support this version. The motion to proceed –
meaning they`re not going to – as you know, and most our viewers know, the
process, they`re not going to go even go forward to consider this thing
because, and he says, because it`s twitter #healthcarebill. That`s
breaking here just in the past five minutes. Your response?
MARSHALL: Well, certainly those are two senators that I greatly respect
and have friendships with both. But doing nothing is not an option. So I
encourage both of those senators to work towards yes, to find something
that would get them to yes, to find a solution so we can start fixing
Doing nothing is not an option, and I have confidence in Senator Moran and
Senator Lee that they`re going to bring solutions to the table to get us to
MELBER: Why do you think this has been so hard in the senate where they
have majority? And again we`re putting this back on the screen because
this is some significant breaking news. I would call it procedural, but
it`s more than procedural, it`s going to make all the difference over
whether there`s even a vote on this thing.
Why has it been so hard in the Senate? I mean, it seems – and you tell me
if you have a
different view of it, but it seems like the longer these bills are out in
public, even without hearings, and I don`t know why – maybe you can
explain why don`t they want to hold hearings, the longer they`re out the
more opposition they face including from the insurers, including from
doctor community, including from a lot of folks in your home state.
MARSHALL: Yeah. I think, first of all, health care is very emotional.
And when emotions are involved everyone is not necessarily very clear
thinking. So, I think that`s one issue.
And I think number two, there`s a lot of inequity right now. This health
care bill is about Medicaid and it`s about people purchasing health care
through the exchange, both of those systems are desperately broken and need
to be fixed. And unfortunately, this bill cannot fix all the problems, but
it`ll be the first step towards fixing it. And I can`t wait to get this
bill done so we can move forward.
MELBER: And respectfully, I understand you support the bill, but
respectfully the question I`m asking, do you also have the perception and
the read that this is getting less popular as it gets more exposure and why
MARSHALL: No, I don`t think it`s getting loss popular. I think the senate
is right where the House was when we almost came to our first vote. And I
think the Senate is going to realize that if they don`t support this bill
that they`re going to lose their base.
Every day that goes by our base is supporting us more and more. Our base
is supporting President Trump more and more. When I go back to Kansas and
do town halls, the base that elected me support President Trump and they
support this bill and that tidal wave is starting to come up. those people
are starting to make their voice known as well.
We all ran on repealing Obamacare. And it`s time that the Senate does
their share of the job.
MELBER: So, if these votes – and this is the breaking news here in the
last few minutes, if these votes continue to crumble, plus McCain is out,
and there isn`t a health care vote by August, what are you asking folks to
do? Is there any point at which you reset and move on? Or what do you do
if there`s no health care vote in the Senate in August?
MARSHALL: They`re going to do it. I understand where everybody is at
right now. They have to work through it. They have to find a way to
repeal Obamacare. They have to find a way to fix this bill so we can get
to this next step, so that we can get on to do an even more important
things like starting to drive the costs of health care down, which is the
number one concern of small businesses across America right now.
MELBER: And congressman, appreciate you on this, on a breaking news night
for health care. Before I let you go, I`ve got to ask you as well about
all these disclosures about Russia. If, indeed, in this or in any other
situation a foreign government was in writing offering help to meet with a
campaign, do you take the position that`s a meeting that should be turned
MARSHALL: No, I have not really stayed up with the details of this. I`m
very focused on the House Ag committee meeting tomorrow. I`ve only read
bits and pieces of it. I`ve watched less than an hour`s worth of news in
the past several days. Focused on the Ag committee right now.
MELBER: Appreciate the focus. I guess the question is, even putting aside
what may be known or disputed, as a general matter – I mean, you yourself
run campaigns and they`re governed, as you know, by federal election law,
in that general situation if a foreign government is stating in writing
to offer help to a campaign and saying let`s meet about it, is that a
meeting that a candidate should take? Would you tell your campaign manager
to take that meeting?
MARSHALL: You know, I think there`s always varying circumstances. I think
we`re trying to examine everything retrospectively here. I really truly
don`t know all the details. I`m very interested in getting to the bottom
of the truth as efficiently as possible. We have people on those
committees to take care of that. And I`m focussed on my Ag committee
MELBER: Understood, congressman, I do know it`s a busy night there on the
Hill. Busy times in general. Appreciate your time tonight.
MARSHALL: Thanks for having me. Wish everybody a big happy hello back to
my friends in
MELBER: Great. I hope they`re watching. I`ll say hello to Kansas as
well. Congressman Roger Marshall joining us. We`re going to have more on
this breaking news here. It`s 8:42 p.m. on the east coast and we are 7
minutes past an earthquake, of sorts, Republican senators saying no, they
want to move forward on a health care vote on Trumpcare. More after this.
MELBER: You`re watching All In with Chris Hayes. And we are in breaking
coverage. When we came on the air at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, the standing vote
count for the Senate version of Trumpcare, which would in part repeal
Obamacare, was at 50 votes. We can now report it has dropped to 48 votes
apparently dooming the measure. This is a breaking and unfolding story.
The no votes now at 48 reflect a brand new statement from conservative
Senators Mike Lee and Jerry Moran.
For more on this breaking story, I want to bring in Ben Howe. He`s a
senior contributing editor at Red State and an expert on conservative
politics. And Cornell Belcher, president of Brilliant Corners Research
Strategies and the former DNC pollster.
Where to begin. Cornell, what does this mean?
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: I think it means that they have a –
they have to go back to the drawing board. And, look, I think there`s a
lot of polling out there right now that shows – in a Post poll you saw
this measure was down double digit points on the negative side.
Clearly – look, I don`t give Democrats a lot of kudos for staying on
message, but clearly they`ve stayed on message and you saw Susan Collins
moving away saying this is really going to hurt vulnerable and older and
rural voters. And I think that is setting in.
And a lot of these states whether you`re talking about Arkansas, whether
you`re talking about Kentucky, whether you are talking about Maine where
you will see a real impact with rural voters. And I think Republicans are
rightly a little afraid of that, and rightly for paying the consequences of
Look, I saw what happened in 2010 when Democrats tried to do something big
and bold on health care. I think Republicans do something big and bold on
health care they kind of politically own it for better or for worse.
MELBER: Ben, as I said, started this evening with two Republican no votes
on record in Senators Collins and Paul, for different reasons. And now,
less than an hour later, they`re four votes down with Senators Lee and
Moran, which means John McCain, who is out in surgery is no longer relevant
to the whip count here. This is Mike Lee`s brand new tweet tonight,
moments ago: “my colleague, Jerry Moran and I, will not support the motion
to proceed in this version.”
And I can to you just in the news room and the commercial break, we got the
fuller, written statements because it`s not just a Twitter world. And the
written statements go into more details saying they oppose this version,
meaning not just the motion to proceed, they are no votes, which brings the
Republicans down to 48.
Walk us through from a conservative perspective why this is happening and
what you could tell us about these two particular senators.
BEN HOWE, RED STATE: Well, what`s going on mostly, and this started I
think a little bit with Rand Paul writing an op-ed, unfortunately at
Breitbart News, but there was a message that he was trying to send by doing
that. That this isn`t really a repeal of Obamacare.
For a long time, this has been the rallying cry and the battle cry of
conservatives, the Tea Party was all about Obamacare for years. And it was
what they were promised, it was what the base was
promised. They were told if we get the Senate, if we get the House, and
then especially if we get the presidency.
Well, now they have all three. And the way that a lot of conservatives
look at it is, this isn`t a big enough departure from Obamacare, from
subsidies as it relates to it, from Medicaid expansion, and so on.
So I think a lot of people just – they`re not afraid of the effects of
Trumpcare in the same sense that Democrats are concerned about it. I think
it`s really that they don`t believe that it`s conservative enough. And
the senators are reacting to that.
I think I`ve heard Ron Johnson is more on the fence now than he was
earlier. And now obviously Mike Lee has come out hard against it. And I
expect Ben Sasse and others to follow suit.
MELBER: I`m looking at Senator Moran`s statement. I want to read from
that for a second. But what you just said peaked my interest as well,
which is you`re talking about the argument that you can be against this
from the right rather than from the left.
MELBER: In your view, is that 100 percent the motivation or does the deep
unpopularity of this bill also reflect a political calculus by some
Republicans they don`t want to pass it and obviously if
you`re in a Republican primary you want to come up with a reason for that
from the right rather than the left?
HOWE: Well, I think most of the – especially Mike Lee and if Ben Sasse,
for instance, is to come out and say he`s against it – he`s been on the
fence. I think they are going to approach it from the right. And they`re
going to say that this is not a bill that moves in the correct direction.
It doesn`t address the issues that we had in terms of health care.
Cruz and others have said that this is the right steps to get to a point
where we can work on it. Your last guest said something similar.
But, yeah, I think approaching it from the right is their best shot at
keeping their conservative base happy.
What`s going to be interesting to me is to see how President Trump
responds. He tends to cheerlead whatever he thinks has any chance of
passing. And the base expects more out of him than that. And I`m
wondering if they`ll hold him accountable to that.
MELBER: Right. And now I`m going to – as promised, read you briefly from
what Senator Moran said. Now, this is Kansas, pretty red states. And he
doesn`t mince words about the policy here regarding the Senate proposal on
He says I cannot support this. Quote, “we should not put our stamp of
approval on bad policy.” That doesn`t leave him a lot of room to get back
I want you both to stay with me, because it`s a breaking story. Joining me
on the phone is
NBC`s Garrett Haake. What are you hearing there on The Hill right now?
GARRATE HAAKE, NBC NEWS: Well, hi, Ari. I mean, this is the concern for
Republicans all week long was this idea that maybe not one, but multiple
people would break through. Nobody wanted to be the one person to
potentially be responsible for killing this bill. But you`ve got now two
senators who have banded together with this joint statement, if you will.
And while their statements are different, they announced it together at the
same time in a coordinated effort here.
So, neither one of them gets to be, or has to be the one who is singularly
responsible for the
death of this bill, at least in this current format. And that`s what I
take away from reading both of their statements. I mean, both of these men
say they want to get to a point where they can still repeal and replace
Obamacare, but that`s sort of where their statements diverge. And you`ll
note, you know, you`ve seen Mike Lee who is one of the sort of doctinaire
conservatives on the Hill wants to see this be done
in a way that lowers premiums, and then gets rid of the taxes that were in
Remember, that was one of the changes in this draft that they were going to
keep some of those Obamacare taxes in here.
Jerry Moran says the process didn`t work here. And we need to go back to
the drawing board. He talked about having an open and inclusive process in
whatever Republicans decide to do next.
So, while it`s clear these two senators I think teamed up maybe from a
practical political standpoint so that neither one had to be the guy
responsible for this, there`s still not agreement on
what to do next.
MELBER: Garrett makes a great point. Stay with us. Because obviously
we`re getting all we can on The Hill here on this breaking story.
But Ben, it`s not as if Kansas and Utah are always collaborating on
interstate health care policy
announcements. OK? I mean, this is in a land where obviously a lot of
things are not normal. This is not itself normal. Garrett is putting
forth the fairly straight forward explanation at linking arms and not
being the one person that conservatives can seize on is helpful to them.
Of course, it`s not like they linked arms with five people. There are
still just two of them. You could put a target on both of their be backs
if, as promised, Trump is going to seek primaries and all the rest.
Tell us about the politics of these two rather conservative states.
HOWE: Well, I mean, Mike Lee specifically has, for a long time, been one
of the best voices against a lot of the hedging that Trump does in terms of
how he tries to laud supposedly conservative politics while not necessarily
pushing that as policy.
And all the way back when during the campaigns and during the RNC
convention, he was one of the loudest voices addressing concerns about
this. He did not get on the bandwagon. He still has not gotten on the
And I`m – at times I curious if he`s got some type of special permission
to oppose the president, or at the very least to not cheerlead for him.
So, I think that this is in line with how he`s been for a long time. And
I`m hoping that it starts a momentum, because I, too, believe that this
bill does not move away from Obamacare in any substantial sense.
MELBER: Cornell, all of this happened, as many have pointing out, without
hearings. And yet, in politics as we all know, where there is action,
there is reaction, and where there is void, it is often filled. And I
wonder if you, as someone who is studying the grass roots and the
Democratic and progressive side of this, can speak to the fact that by
denying hearings in a public forum to discuss these issues, did the
Republicans actually create more of a void that was filled by these grass
roots events that may have actually been more helpful to Obamacare?
BELCHER: Well, you know, I think it is damned if you do, damned if you
don`t. I think the problem is, look, you know, campaigning is different
from governing. And I understand from a campaign standpoint the idea that
we`re going to repeal every single word of Obamacare, every single word,
right, I understand that from a campaign standpoint, especially when you
want to, you know, fire up your base.
But from a legislative and policy standpoint, it`s a whole different thing.
You`ve now expanded health care to several millions of people and now
you`re going to take it away. And by the way, let`s remember for one
moment here, the fundamentals of Obamacare are in fact fundamentals from
health care on the right. Most Democrats, including the guy I once worked
for in Governor Dean, would have much rather had a single payer, right.
This was a Republican idea put in place by Mitt Romney. And there some
markets, you know, factors at work here where we don`t like the idea of a
mandate, but if we don`t expand the pool of people in health care, we can`t
drive down costs and we can`t give people with preexisting conditions some
So I agree with the Republican senator here, this is not necessarily good
policy. And I think Republicans are between a rock and a hard place,
because they say they`re going to repeal every word of it and their base is
going the make them pay a price for it. But from a legislative standpoint,
it`s hard to repeal every word of Obamacare and replace it with something
that`s going to give millions of people insurance and it`s still going to
cover preexisting conditions.
I want to add to our breaking coverage here, the congressional reporter for
the conservative Independent Journal Review, Haley Byrd.
For conservatives, Haley, what does this mean?
HALEY BYRD, INDEPENDENT JOURNAL REVIEW: Well, something to watch for with
conservatives right now, I`m looking at the Freedom Caucus chairman Mark
Meadow`s Twitter account, he just tweeted it`s time for a full repeal of
Obamacare. Let`s put the same thing on Trump`s desk that we put on Obama`s
And Meadows helped negotiate the changes to the bill that helped it, you
know, get out of the House and made a more conservative, caused some of the
problems in the Senate for its passage, and to have these conservatives
returning to that more hand line stance of let`s go back to that 2015 bill
of more of a full repeal is something to be watching out for, I think.
MELBER: Interesting. And, Ben, this is something that Donald Trump
suggested that he`s
willing to sign by virtue of the fact that he`s suggested he`s willing to
HOWE: Yeah. And, you know, it is interesting. They put forth much
stronger bills when they knew it wouldn`t be signed by President Obama, and
now that they have everything and they have got absolutely no reason not to
do exactly what they promised to do for years, they can`t seem to pull it
off, and that tells me that while President Trump may be wanting to sign
anything that gets put in front of him, I think Mitch McConnell and Paul
Ryan and others are the reason that it`s not getting there.
MELBER: Ben, at what point does President Trump have to engage this with
details instead of the kind of I`ll take anything approach?
HOWE: Look, what he needs to do and what he will do are – they continue
to be two very, very different things. I mean this is a man who, when he
was asked during the campaigns and during the primaries, what his bill was
going to be and what his policy proposals were going to be, he said state
lines and it`s going to be fantastic.
He had no specifics. He still has no specifics. He`s just selling Trump
steaks and that`s all he ever does.
So, you know, he`s not going to get on the ground and get in specifics with
this. And as a result it`s going to be left up to Paul Ryan and Mitch
McConnell and I think that`s why there`s going to continue to be this
MELBER: Haley, do you think at this point in time, from what you`re
seeing, that however unpopular Obamacare was with the base, this is a sign
that it`s actually quite difficult to hold the Republican coalition for a
specific written alternative?
BYRD: Absolutely. That`s been a challenge all along. And during the
campaign it was alot easier to say, oh we`re going to repeal and replace.
But it turns out they didn`t really have a full agreement on what that
replacement or repeal was going to look like. And so yeah, there still is
lot of contention and disagreement within the conference on how they`re
going to move forward.
MELBER: Ben Howe, Cornell Belcher, and Haley, thank you for joining All In
here on a
very busy breaking news night. I want to reset and give everyone a little
context before I hand off to Rachel. We began the hour at 50 votes in the
rough whip count and we end the hour with Republicans at 48 votes, which
means, as of this hour, the Senate Trumpcare proposal would appear
procedurally dead. And those new statements, which I reported here on our
show from Senators Moran and
Mike Lee, closed the door by saying this was bad policy and they won`t vote
So, it was more than procedural.
That is our show All In for this evening.
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