All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 7/18/2017 The Trump Effect

Guests:
Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Rosalind Helderman, Renato Mariotti, Jennifer Rubin, Jim Manley
Transcript:

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: July 18, 2017
Guest: Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Rosalind Helderman, Renato Mariotti,
Jennifer Rubin, Jim Manley

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: - told by Donald Trump Jr. that he had told us
everything about that meeting, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but
the truth. This is everything he said on Hannity. This is everything.
Right. This is HARDBALL, for now, thanks for being with us. “ALL IN” with
Chris Hayes starts right now.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening from New York,
I`m Ari Melber in for Chris Hayes. We have breaking news on Russia
tonight. We also have a report on the spectacular failure of the
President`s health care push and Senator Bernie Sanders will be here on
that. Our top breaking story though, there was another Putin-Trump meeting
and the President of United States attended it all by himself. The White
House did not disclose this meeting when it occurred, a breach of
diplomatic practice as we`ll explain. And the meeting looks even more odd
because the two leaders had already met, quite famously for two hours at
the G20 summit in Germany.

The Washington Post breaking this rather explosive story this evening
noting this second meeting unreported at the time took place at a dinner
for G20 leaders, a senior administration official confirming that. And
halfway through the meal, Trump left his own seat to occupy a chair next to
Putin. Continuing in the article, “Trump was alone and Putin was attended
only by his official interpreter. The New York Times also reporting on
this today saying, “The intimate dinner conversation of which there`s no
official U.S. government record is the latest to raise eyebrows. Foreign
leaders who witnessed it later commented privately on the oddity of an
American President flaunting such a close rapport with his Russian
counterpart.

Now, we can tell you a formal readout would be difficult to write because
while Putin had that staffer with him, Donald Trump attended alone. That
means President Trump was entirely reliant on Putin`s staff translator in
the meeting and that he had no backup or expertise present to represent
America`s interests. It`s hard to imagine Donald Trump who prides himself
on negotiations showing up alone say, and blindly relying on only the
competitor`s lawyer at a key business meeting. If the White House has a
good reason for why he would do that with a foreign adversary, they have
not yet offered it tonight and they have been asked. Now, this story first
broke into the open after something else interesting happened. The foreign
affairs expert you may have seen on TV, Ian Bremmer was racing this. He
said that basically there was “a meeting that no one`s heard of.” And this
was this was in a discussion on Charlie Rose.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IAN BREMMER, Then he has a meeting with a lot of people not in it, only
Tillerson, the translators, Lavrov, the Foreign Minister, Russian Foreign
Minister and Putin last over two hours, don`t have a clear read out on
exactly what was said from either side. Then on top of that, you have an
hour that evening that no one`s even heard of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That no one`s even heard of until now. Joining me is White House
Correspondent for the New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis who reported
this story out for the Times. How did we learn about this?

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, THE NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:
Well, Ian Bremmer is one of the ways. And also there were a lot of foreign
leaders in that room who witnessed this exchange and who have privately
commented on it and you know, that tends to leak out and it was witnessed
by a lot of people. And then after really hours in which I - you know,
pressed the White House for answers on this, we finally got some
confirmation from senior White House officials, who did acknowledge that,
in fact, the meeting took place. That it pretty much unfolded the way it`s
been described by people who were in the room. And that, you know, they`re
basically describing this as a routine thing. This was leaders and their
spouse`s event, that dinner.

MELBER: But it`s not routine.

DAVIS: And you know, it`s nothing unusual, but it`s not routine for one
leader to approach another leader and have an hour-long conversation,
something this significant, particularly after they just met for the first
time formally on the sides of this Summit and to have no other American
official and not even a Russian - an American translator present for this
meeting. It was-it was very unusual and all of the other leaders around
that table recognized that even if President Trump didn`t.

MELBER: In your reporting, have you seen a high-level meeting like this
where a U.S. President would enter it alone when a foreign leader had his
own staff?

DAVIS: I`ve never seen anything like this. I mean, it`s not unusual
necessarily for an American President to decide that one of these private
dinners is the place where he wants to buttonhole another leader on an
important issue, but when that`s the case, he prepares for that meeting
he`ll take the translator that speaks that language. We now know from the
White House that President Trump had taken a translator who spoke Japanese
to this dinner. So he clearly - if he had - if he planned this this
encounter with President Putin, he didn`t tell any of his staff or if he
did, they did him a disservice by not sending with him someone who spoke
the language, who could be in on that conversation and at the very least, I
mean, put aside note taker, if you`re going to have an hour long
conversation with another leader, particularly in a sensitive context like
this one and they know their questions about this.

MELBER: Right. And Julie, these two men here were meeting for the first
time in this high profile environment amidst the ongoing questions about
whether on the Trump side there was cooperation in illicit criminal
activity for what the U.S. intelligence agency say was an international
criminal conspiracy to meddle in the election. We know that came up in the
two hours, do we have any idea whether any of that came back up in this
extra hour?

DAVIS: There`s no - there`s no way of knowing. There`s - I mean, the
Kremlin may know. The Kremlin does know. The translator obviously
overheard whatever the conversation was and interpreted both sides of it.
There is no official U.S. account. There can`t be because there wasn`t
another official present. It`s possible the President read it out to one
of his top officials, maybe he`s talked to Rex Tillerson about it, maybe he
talked to General McMaster who was on the trip, but we certainly haven`t
heard any of that from senior officials. At the White House, they`re
characterizing this as a brief private conversation and they`re not going
to about what was said because it was private conversation. But also
because they have no real way of reading something like that out. And
that`s the problem here. They knew going into this meeting - the formal
meeting with President Putin that all of the atmosphere surrounding about
possible collusion were going to make it very difficult for them to come
out of that meeting with anything other than a public relations nightmare
and this just makes it a little bit -

MELBER: And last question, did they admit to you, the staff that they just
don`t know for the reasons you state?

DAVIS: Yes, they do. I mean, they say there was no way to know what was
discussed because we weren`t there.

MELBER: Right, which is - which is not good. Julie Hirschfeld Davis
taking a break from your reporting and tell us about it. We appreciate it.
I want to move on because I got a couple other guests here raring to go.
This extra Putin meeting, of course, is just the latest Russia story
tonight, not the only big one. There was also a new report today that
states Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating the
controversial Summit there between Donald Trump Jr., Trump Campaign
Leadership and Russian nationals. Now, of course, up until today, that was
widely believed to raise potential criminal issues from investigators, but
there was no actual indication whether the DOJ had gotten to it yet.

And let`s remember, Mueller`s original assignment appointed in May was to
look at crimes related to Russian meddling and the potential involvement of
Trump officials. After the firing of FBI Director Comey, Mueller`s aide
made it clear would review that as potential obstruction. So those are
really two broad topics relating to the hacks and Trump management
decisions. Now there is this third topic and it is quite specific, did any
crimes mature out of that June 9th meeting at Trump Tower. One element of
the crime is present in the writing that led up to the meeting intent. As
we saw, “official documents and information offered to incriminate Hillary
and her dealings with Russia which would be useful,” they wrote, to your
father and stating succinctly it is “part of Russia and its government
support of Mr. Trump.”

Today as well, The Washington Post identified the eighth person at that now
infamous meeting Ike Kaveladze, an American based employee of a Russian
real estate company and NBC News confirming the attendance as well. The
lawyer for that eighth attendee telling The Washington Post, he received a
phone call from a representative of Special Counsel Robert Mueller over the
weekend asking if Kaveladze would agree to be interviewed. That is pretty
clear and that`s how we know that the Special Counsel is now looking at
that very controversial meeting. And so for more on all this, I want to go
to the coauthor of that Washington Post piece Rosalind Helderman, Political
Enterprise and Investigation who reported there at the Post, also joined by
a Renato Mariotti, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of
Illinois. Rosalind, you look at this, it`s not as I say surprising, but
what does it tell you that Mueller is not wasting any time trying to talk
to people at the meeting?

ROSALIND HELDERMAN, THE WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL ENTERPRISE AND
INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER: Yes. I mean, we learned about this meeting just
a week ago, and by the weekend, he already had people calling asking for
interviews. Clearly, this is of keen interest to them and they want to get
on it as soon as possible before people lose their memories, before people
have a chance to talk to each other potentially. You know, his interest in
it is obviously quite high.

MELBER: And do you infer in any way whether he knew about this previously?
Because it all grew initially out of Jared Kushner revising his
documentation, but this timeline might suggest that it spill in the public,
they then start scheduling interviews.

HELDERMAN: Yes, I think the time line suggests that they did not know
about this previously and they certainly didn`t know the identities of the
people but they clearly were very interested in it as soon as they heard.

MELBER: Renato, from an investigative perspective, I want you to put this
very hot recent story of the last week and a half in the context of the
other hot recent story of the last hour and a half because would a federal
investigator look at the ongoing contacts between say the President and
Russia if the theory of the case could include activity after the
inauguration, government activity?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY OF NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS:
Well, it certainly would be something that they would look at, and
regardless of what was said between the President and Mr. Putin, what I
think is, you know, he made a major mistake by meeting alone with Putin
with literally no other American present. The implication that could be
drawn from that is that he did not want the United States government to be
aware of what he was telling Putin. It reminds me of Jared Kushner early
on, being - that was reportedly a back channel being created between Jared
Kushner and the Russians.

And the difference there was at the time Kushner didn`t know he was going
to be investigated for dealing with the Russians. Here, the President is
aware that he and his team is being investigated for collusion with the
Russians and so he decides to have a meeting with the Russian President
with literally no American present to verify what was said or not said
during that meeting.

MELBER: Yes, you`re suggesting these reports of a private Putin-Trump
meeting that the White House never disclosed is the ultimate back channel?

MARIOTTI: Well, it certainly that implication can be drawn. I mean, no
one will know - will probably ever know in the United States at least, what
was said during that meeting but an implication can be drawn that there was
something that the President wanted to talk to Mr. Putin about that he did
not want an American to know. And maybe they talked about the New York
Yankees the whole time or something else that`s innocuous but you know, an
implication can be drawn that it was something he didn`t want the U.S.
government to know. And I think, if you know, combined with a lot of
evidence that could be - other evidence that could be used against him.

MELBER: So, walk us through how that works as an investigator. If you had
an individual - I mean, Jim Comey testified under oath that he thought
Donald Trump cleared the room before they talked about Michael Flynn and
that was a signal, piece of evidence that Donald Trump knew what he was
doing was wrong and didn`t want extra witnesses. Walk us through how
investigators think that through in the context of someone who Donald Trump
has welcomed an audience his entire life on just about everything and then
all of a sudden we`re led to believe that he`s become very private and shy
when he has certain kind of meetings about Flynn, Comey, and apparently as
of tonight, meetings with Putin.

MARIOTTI: Well, if I was a prosecutor looking at the evidence, what I
would do is look at Mr. Trump`s meeting with other world leaders and see
whether or not he brought staff to those meetings. Did he have another one
on one with another leader that an another American wasn`t present for?
And if there wasn`t, I think you know, combined with other evidence it
provides an implication that he had special interest in meeting alone with
the Russians. Now, in and of itself, like I said, it could be meeting with
them to discuss baseball, or hockey, or something else.

The question is, you know if there`s other evidence out there that shows
his concerns about Russia, or dealings with Russia, that could you know,
provide evidence of his intent that ultimately could be used against him.
And so, if I was representing the President and he asked me if this sort of
meeting was a good idea, I would say absolutely not, and that he should
never meet with President Putin or anyone else from the Russian government
without others present who could you know, corroborate his account and
ensure that there is another person who could testify that nothing unusual
or concerning happened during that meeting.

MELBER: Rosalind, this was, of course, the pledge made by Donald Trump Jr.
in his first big interview after all this, that we had all the info we
need.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT`S SON: Here it is. I`m more than happy to be
transparent about it and I`m more than happy to cooperate with everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So far as you know, as far as this incident concerns,
this is all of it.

TRUMP JR.: This is everything. This is everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Was that everything?

HELDERMAN: It was not at all everything. Since that interview happened,
there`s been sort of this clown car effect of additional people who have
been identified to be in the room. First, we had this Russian-American
lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin who had - that was a Soviet army veteran who when
he was in the army, his duties included counterintelligence. So that was
very interesting. We learned that last week, it turns out the lawyer
brought a translator, so that`s yet another person. And then today, of
course, we have Ike Kaveladze, who`s just yet another person who has a
quite interesting back story of his own who was in the room.

MELBER: Final question Rosalind, you talked to White House officials and
sometimes they say give us a break. This is not the only story that
matters to Americans or Washington. Why can`t you get off Russia? And
then you look at a night like tonight and the drip, drip, drip of them
holding back this information and we didn`t pick one country. If it was a
one-off meeting with Brazil we`d be reporting that. But it always seems,
often seems to be Russia. Your view of that.

HELDERMAN: Yes, I mean, I think if that was their attitude, they should
release all of the information themselves at once and then we report it
once and we move on. They should have told us about this Putin meeting at
the time of the meeting when the President was in Germany and there was all
the reporting about his interactions with Putin, it would have become a
part of that story that story. That would have been it. They should have
told us everything, everything they knew about who was in the room, and how
this meeting came about and why it was held, this Don Junior meeting at
Trump Tower initially just pull the Band-Aid off.

MELBER: Yes. Well, the Band-Aid is not all the way off from what we can
tell. Rosalind Helderman, thank you for your reporting. Renato Mariotti,
as always, I appreciate your expertise. Now, coming up, the President who
guaranteed nothing but victory has been dealt by his own account a major
loss on health care. He`s now advocating for “a failure of health care
while proclaiming I`m not going to own it.” There`s a lot of fallout to
unpack on Trumpcare we`ll be back in two minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Six months after taking office, a President who promised on the
campaign trail we are going to be tired of winning, well he has a new
message, it`s time to let one sixth of the U.S. economy, in his words,
fail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Let ObamaCare
fail. It`ll be a lot easier and I think we`re probably in that position
where we`ll just let ObamaCare fail. We`re not going to own it. I`m not
going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The President today responding to the Republicans led Senate`s
failure to pass that bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, news that broke
here in this hour last night. This is is the same president though who
made this promise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You`re going to have such great health care at a tiny fraction of
the cost. And it`s going to be so easy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So easy. Now Trump`s party controls both political branches. You
might call it full control as Trump once tweeted about his predecessor.
Obama`s complaints about Republicans stopping his agenda are “BS since he
had full control for two years. He can never take responsibility.” Today
the President not taking his own responsibility for his own party`s failure
here on repeal and this was after of course, seven years of promising this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It would be nice to have Democrat support but really they`re
obstructionists. They have no ideas, they have no thought processes, all
they want to to do is obstruct government and obstruct period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: A little history here. After the House its version of the health
care bill in May, that same President held a widely premature celebration
in the Rose Garden and basked in the applause of those same House
Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Your premiums, they`re going to start to come down. We`re going to
get this passed through the Senate. I feel so confident. This has really
brought the Republican Party together. As much as we`ve come up with a
really incredible health care plan, this has brought the Republican Party
together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, that was not a lie. It was just a prediction that proved to
not be true. The President followed on that statement perhaps by making it
untrue because he threw basically those 217 House Republicans right under
the bus for voting for that same bill. That sound you just heard, the deal
maker told Republican Senators the House version of the bill he was
celebrating was “mean, mean, mean, and cold hearted and a son of a B.”
Now, depending on what you think of that bill, you might agree with some of
that but it certainly didn`t make it easier to get to the Republican unity
that he was celebrating there. And a lot of Republicans are in the Senate
and that`s where this all ran into trouble.

Leader McConnell there now vowing to hold a straight ObamaCare repeal vote
after the other thing, of course, fell apart. But it would not be that
straight. It actually, when you look at it, has a two-year delay for
Lawmakers to then try to get to the thing they couldn`t do yesterday, the
replacement part. And three Republican there have already come out against
that new repeal delay plan which suggests it`s got a rocky road. The White
House still vowing to fight on, the President inviting Senators tomorrow to
talk health care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: The debate and
the battle over health care isn`t over. We`re continuing to push forward
to repeal and replace ObamaCare and we`re going to continue fighting for
that every single day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: They can keep fighting for it. The question that some Republican
Senators have begun answering is how do you fight for something if people
don`t like it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like to see more from the President on this?

LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You know, I`d like to see a bill that
people actually liked. I got to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I got to go. I got to go. Joining me now, people who don`t have
to go just yet, Conservative Washington Post Columnist Jennifer Rubin, and
Senator Harry Reid`s former Chief Aide Jim Manly. Jim, what are we
witnessing here, a master tactician in McConnell having to make up the
mistakes of a political neophyte like Donald Trump?

JIM MANLY, SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR FOR SENATOR HARRY REID: No. It`s
a stunning rebuke of both Leader McConnell and the President. The fact of
the matter is that this has been an amazing display of incompetence
anywhere you look at it. When I worked for Senator Reid, he and Obama and
Pelosi sat down and they sketched out a strategy - shocking - a strategy to
try and do some ball items to try and build some legislative momentum.
These guys just swung for the fences and of course, they failed
spectacularly. And I`ll beat you to the punch Ari, this vote is not going
to pass next week. This thing is dead.

MELBER: Dead, Jennifer?

JENNIFER RUBIN, WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Yes, it absolutely is dead.
And Jim (INAUDIBLE) want this days and I actually agree on this. They did
not do the job that Pelosi and Reid and President Obama did, which was
legislate. They took months and months of hearings of drawing people from
various stake holder groups into the White House, into Congress, coming up
with a bill that they thought would work. At the end, they did not have
Republican support but they had Democratic support. The Republicans
refused to do that. I think they were caught flat-footed when President
Trump actually won. They never knew what they actually wanted to replace
ObamaCare with. And as Senator Graham said, who is in favor of this, very
few people.

MELBER: Well, Jennifer, I have a quick and then a longer question for you.
From a conservative perspective would you describe the vote they did have,
the vote count the Republicans have on this as impressive?

RUBIN: I`m sorry, the Democrats had as impressive?

MELBER: The Republicans yesterday, was that impressive for conservatives?
Is that a word you would use?

RUBIN: No, it would not be impressive.

MELBER: All right. My follow up question is take a listen to the
President`s score card of it and then we`ll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have 52 people, we had four noes. Now, we might have had
another one somewhere in there but essentially the vote would have been
pretty close to, if you look at it, 48-4. That`s a pretty impressive vote
by any standard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Pretty impressive by any standard, Jennifer.

RUBIN: First of all, I don`t think it would have been four noes. I think
as Susan Collins said over the weekend, you probably would have had eight
or ten. And listen, all that counts is if you can get to 51 or in this
case even 50 and they never had that. You know, what`s strikes me every
time I hear the President is you`re absolutely convinced he has no idea
what he`s talking about. He doesn`t know what`s in the legislation, he
doesn`t know what`s popular, he doesn`t know what`s possible. And I think
it`s really hard for a party in power when the White House is not only
unhelpful but is completely dysfunctional and obviously out to lunch. So
Mitch McConnell certainly had his hands full. I don`t defend how he dealt
with this but at least with the Democrats they had a White House that was
engaged and knowledgeable about the topic.

MELBER: Right. Well, to be fair though, I mean, Jim, just reading back
the Trump statement here, when he says 48-4. Obviously, everyone knows
there are 52 total members of the U.S. Senate so - I mean, it`s a fair
count.

MANLEY: Well, horseshoe - close only counts in horseshoes and hand
grenades as the old saying goes. Yes, I had no idea. This must be the new
math that people are focusing on because I have no idea of what he`s
talking about there. And to Jennifer`s point, it just demonstrates the
utter lack of understanding of how the Hill operates. Again they seriously
miscalculated. They overreached, tried to put too much into this bill,
including repealing ObamaCare, gutting Medicaid, and, you know, it was
destined to fail.

And then, of course, you throw in the process that Leader McConnell used
where he tried to put together the bill in secret, the exact opposite by
the way of what Senator Reid did and President Obama, and he tried to jam
it through the Senate. And finally his caucus — his own caucus said no,
this is too much. We are not going to go for this. And so, what is going
to happen? Next week, Senator McConnell is going to force a vote in the
Senate where - that is going to allow his colleagues to be tagged as voting
to take away health care for 32 million Americans.

MELBER: And does Trump own it? He says he doesn`t own it.

MANLEY: He owns it lock, stock and barrel and as does McConnell and the
rest of his caucus. I`ve never seen anything like it. The job of a Leader
in the Senate is protect his caucus. All McConnell was going to do here is
force his folks to take a vote that they are going to own from here on out.
It`s just an amazing lack - utter lack of regard from the Senate and a
debasement of the legislative process.

MELBER: Jennifer, does he own it or are we witnessing something that
Donald Trump knew a lot about in his business life as well which is a kind
of a slow motion political bankruptcy?

RUBIN: Well, it probably is a bankruptcy. He is going to own this and the
other person who screwed up big time, of course, was Speaker Ryan. He had
those people take a vote on a bill that was even probably less popular than
the one that here. He had a lot of moderates walk the plank and those
people are going to be very vulnerable in 2018. So if Republicans are mad
at people, they might be mad at their leadership in each house who
apparently have no regard as Jim said for protecting their members from
hard votes.

MELBER: Well, we had a Conservative here and a Democratic Insider and it`s
what we would call a hot panel or a hot bench. I appreciate all your
energy and enthusiasm, both of you.

RUBIN: Thank you.

MELBER: Still to come, Senator Bernie Sanders calling last night`s defeat
of Trumpcare and the Senate a victory for the people of this country. He`s
going to join me to talk about that and I`m going to ask him, of course,
about the Russian hacking including at the DNC. That`s ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Republican Jerry Moran of Kansas was one of the two Senators who
killed officially that latest version of health care bill and he may have
been influenced it turns out by an outpouring of opposition in his home
state. Moran was one of the few Republicans who held public town halls
during the most recent July fourth recess and he got an earful from his
constituents including many apparent Republicans saying don`t support this
bill. Another Senator across the aisle, Bernie Sanders has actually been
working on all of that, whipping up what is commonly called the resistance.
I`m going to speak with Senator Sanders about the latest Trumpcare fail
right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Senator Bernie Sanders has been traveling the country for the last
several weeks speaking to people in many states, including West Virginia
about this Republican health care proposal. Today, I asked Senator Sanders
if today did mark a victory for him in defending Obamacare?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: It is a victory for the American people
who stood up by the millions, Ari, in town meetings and rallies, who
bombarded Capitol Hill with emails and phone call and said that you know
what, we`re not going to allow 22 million Smericans to be thrown off of
health insurance. We`re not going to see premiums for older workers
doubling. We`re not going to defund Planned Parenthood. We`re not going
to cut Medicaid by $800 billion. We`re not going to make it almost
impossible for people with preexisting conditions to get affordable health
care.

It`s a victory for the American people, and all of those – all of us who
believe that we have got to move to what a health care for all system,
that health care is a right of all people, not a privilege.

MELBER: And President Trump, as you know, had this to say today about the
road ahead.

TRUMP: Let Obamacare fail. It`ll be a lot easier. And I think we`re
probably in that position where we`ll just let Obamacare fail. We`re not
going to own it. I`m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans
are not going to own it.

MELBER: What`s your response to the president?

SANDERS: Well, my response is last I heard, Trump was the president of the
United States, the leader of our country, Republicans control the House and
the Senate. And it is beyond comprehension,
although i know it`s – you know, we keep saying this about Donald Trump,
but it is beyond comprehension that you have a president who basically
wants millions of people to suffer so he thinks he can win some political
points.

The truth is, as everybody knows, the Affordable Care Act is far from
perfect. What we need to improve it, not destroy it. What we need to is,
among other things in my view, lower the cost of prescription drugs, save
consumers, save the government substantial sums of money. And what we need
to do is provide for a public option in every state in this country. What
we need to do is lower the cost – lower Medicare eligibility from 65 to 55
and then begin the process of doing what every other major country on Earth
is doing, and that is guaranteeing health care for all people and as a
right through a Medicare for all single payer program.

MELBER: Well, Senator, one thing that you and Mitch McConnell have had in
common here
is you have both maintained pretty consistent positions on the policy. The
president has not. He has been all over the map as you know. Do you think
that has helped or hurt the Republicans to have a
president who says he`s for this and then against it, that the health care
bill the House had was great and he held a whole reception for it and then
said it was mean. Has that helped or hurt them?

SANDERS: I think it`s hurt them a whole lot. You have a president who as
a candidate says I`m going to provide great health care to everybody, to
everybody, who then tells us, as you just mentioned, after supporting the
passage of the House bill says it`s kind of a mean bill and then gives
different signals to the Republican leadership. I think it is not easy to
be a Republican in the United States
congress with Donald Trump as the president.

But, having said that, look, our job is to get beyond the politics of this,
our job is to do what every other country does, guarantee, major country,
guarantee health care to all people, to ask simple questions why is it that
under our dysfunctional system we are spending far more per capita on
health care than any other nation. Why do we pay by far the highest prices
in the world for prescription drugs, why are our health care outcomes in
terms of life expectancy, in terms of infant mortality, in many cases, not
as good as other countries.

So, we`ve got a lot of work to do, and I look forward to getting actively
involved in that.

MELBER: Senator, I want to turn to Russia, the hacks, 2016, as you know
often in the news. But look at it on the Democratic primary side. As you
know, some of the hacks helped Donald Trump and some also involved a debate
between you and Hillary Clinton. There was a hacked email, for example,
that exposed that the DNC chair, Wasserman-Shultz, in response to you
saying that if you
were president you`d remove her, she said, well, quote, he isn`t going to
be president.

And then you, among others, called for her to resign, in part, after those
leaks. When you look back at that, which happened, after the leaks she did
ultimately get ousted right before the convention, what we didn`t fully
know then that is so understood now is that those were partly operations of
Russia, according to to U.S. intelligence.

Did you, in a way, benefit from that and would you do it different then
knowing what we know now?

SANDERS: Well, knowing what we know now doesn`t help me figure out what I
would have done back then. All I can say is a couple of things. Number
one, Russian hacking in the United States and their cyber warfare in
France, Estonia, the Ukraine, is very, very, very dangerous stuff. It is
unacceptable. And the Russians cannot be allowed to get away with that
stuff. This is cyber warfare. And the Russian effort very clearly is to
destabilize our democracy, destabilize other democracies around the world.
And they are going to have to pay a price for that. That cannot be allowed
to continue.

MELBER: But at the time, I mean, it does look different in hindsight. Did
you know then that this might have been part of their design was to leak
these emails so there would be more rifts in the Democratic Party?

SANDERS: What we knew – well, of course we knew that. And of crouse we
knew they were trying to cause divisiveness within the Democratic Party.
That`s no great secret.

MELBER: And final question, when you hear the president say that any
politician would take meetings with foreign nationals offering dirt on
their opponents, do you agree with that? Does that strike you as absurd or
even him potentially saying any politician would open themselves up to
criminal activity?

SANDERS: Of course it is absurd. We meet often, with ambassadors and
representatives of countries all over the world. Of course, that`s what
you should do. But that is very different from breaking the law and
meeting about campaign matters with representatives of foreign governments.
That just simply happens to be against the law. Most politicians,
President Trump, do not do that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MELBER: Thanks to Senator Sanders for joining us.

Now coming up, a new low, how this president just notched the worst
approval rating six months into any presidency in the history of modern
polling.

And, Trump hearts trucks as Thing One, Thing Two right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Thing One tonight, President Trump hearts trucks, and not just
because he wore a
button saying I heart trucks, although that was one indicator, but because
he really seems to enjoy having trucks at the White House. Wouldn`t you?

There was a slew of big trucks yesterday, you can see, including a shiny
red fire truck he couldn`t help but climb up into the cab for some hands on
inspection, much like he did it earlier this year when there was a big rig
parked outside taking the driver`s seat as a tough king of the road.

But there`s another trend developing, each time the president has hoped
behind the wheel of a big rig truck, it has been, been it turns out, as a
major policy priority was crashing on Capitol Hill. That`s Thing Two in 60
seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Where`s the fire? Put it out fast.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: They have fun. President Trump inspecting a fire truck at the
White House. This was part of that made in America product tour just
yesterday. But over on Capitol Hill it was less fun, Republicans` latest
attempt to pass health care was about to go up in flames. One Republican
lawmaker reportedly telling White House reporter Jeff Zeleny, Trump was
playing with a fire truck and trying on a cowboy hat as the bill was
collapsing and he had no clue.

This is not the first time the president was busy with big rigs while the
GOP health care push was actually veering off course. As the president was
doing that on March 23, within that actually the same minute there was news
breaking on Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, breaking news coming in to MSNBC. Per a
top GOP leadership source, the vote on health care not happening today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: You can`t make it up, and you don`t need to, because that really
happened.

What we`re telling you is that every time the president climbs into a truck
in front of the cameras, a Republican health care bill dies.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: This 45th president of the United States has been in office just
about six months this week and his approval rating is hitting new lows,
especially compared to the other 44. Bill Clinton`s job approval rating
was about 43 percent six months into his presidency in Gallup. It did
rebound. George W. Bush was at 57 percent. Obama, 57 percent, that was
leading into the summer of his own big health care battles, although more
victorious then this president thus far.

And then Trump`s job approval, six months into the term, 39 percent in
Gallup, the weakest out of those four past presidents. And another new
poll has Trump`s job approval down lower at just 36 percent, which as a
matter of math is lowest of any president at this point in the presidency
of the last 70 years, basically since the advent of modern polling.

This was disturbing, or at least notable enough that President Trump
decided to address it explicitly. He tweeted that this poll from
ABC/Washington Post basically 40 percent is not bad, he argued, and it was
about the most inaccurate poll around election time.

So not true, but even if it were it`s OK seems to be the line there.

Now, there is one segment of the population, to be fair, that has remained
very strong in public approval for President Trump: registered Republican
voters.

So, what would it take for his own party to potentially turn against him?
Some reporting on that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFEID FEMALE: I think it`s the congress, because they – President
Trump has only
been in six months. I mean, how can it be his fault?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I can say something to the president, I would say
stay strong and face both the Democrats and the establishment Republicans,
because regular Americans like myself are behind you and we will help you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Some good news there in our reporting on President Trump`s
supporters. The general poll numbers slipping but his supporters are with
him.

The poll I was just telling you about, that Washington Post/ABC with that
record low rating of 36, but 82 percent of Republicans approve of Donald
Trump. And a poll today from public policy polling finds 32 percent of
Trump voters don`t believe Donald Trump Junior even met with a Russian
lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton even though our source for that is
Donald Trump Junior and his transparent Twitter account.

On the trail, Trump used foils like the media, Hillary Clinton and the deep
state to rally supporters against any perceived enemies and hold on to what
is obviously some very strong approval, and it`s still working for him in
many ways in the White House.

Look at this tweet today: totally obstruct, he says of the Democrats
strategy, and explained Republican failure on health care.

Joining me now, we have by phone out in the field from Colorado Peter
Hessler who wrote a big piece about this in The New Yorker, “How Trump is
transforming rural America,” and that`s not all.

We`re also joined by Jess McIntosh, executive editor of Share Blue and a
former senior adviser to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Peter, what did you find out there?

PETER HESSLER, THE NEW YORKER: Yeah, I`ve been coming out here to a city
called Grand Junction in western Colorado since October of last year.

You know, this was a county where Trump won almost 65 percent of the vote,
and I have found what the polls sort of indicate which is that there`s no
change in the support. You know, I have never met a single person who
voted for President Trump who expressed any regret at this point.

MELBER: Why?

HESSLER: You know, I think part of this is that they see the opposition to
him as being unfair. And they believe that, you know, like the Russia
investigation is not legitimate and that that saps him and that that has
prevented him from accomplishing the things that he`s said he`s going to
do.

Also, it`s probably just human behavior. You know, when people make a
commitment to
something, I think it takes them time to change their mind if they do
change their mind.

MALBER: Right. You`re talking about the deeper desire that humans have to
be right.

Jess, we have three minutes. So, I`d like you to unpack where that comes
from, the heart, the mind, the spirit. I think that`s a fair place to
start.

JESS MCINTOSH, SHARE BLUE: That`s an absolutely fair question.

MELBER: But I`d like you to also acknowledge the fact that Donald Trump is
really good at politics. And there was the idea that he was a neophyte,
and he was new. And he may not be good at government, but in terms of
politics here is a guy who has won, who is power, and is still by what I
can tell benefiting from one of the most powerful forces in politics, which
is the idea that you are
against something, that you`re the opposition and that`s when you have to
fight the hardest and stay unified.

MCINTOSH: He has commodified that. He has made that an entire brand for
himself and I believe that there will always be a certain minority, and I
do want to stress that not only are Trump voters the minority, Trump
supporters are the minority. We spend a lot of time, and Peter`s piece is
excellent, deep diving into who these people are, where they feel wronged,
why they do what they do but they are the minority of our country.

There are a number of them that will believe that the Russian meeting
didn`t happen despite the fact that Donald Senior and Junior say that it
did, that the media institutions are colluding with our liberal colleges to
make sure that conservative values can`t be taken seriously in this
country. They will believe what Alex Jones says. They will believe that
nothing is true in The New York Times or The Washington Post. I`m not sure
how to reach those people except with family conversations and neighbors
talking to neighbors.

But this is – what`s happening with Donald Trump now is that he is losing
not just the establishment Republicans, but we saw folks in small towns in
Kansas show up, half the population of a tiny town in Kansas showed up to
protest Trumpcare. That wasn`t just liberal elites on the coast.

This is a red state rural resistance, and we are seeing – that is the
reason why the vote to repeal isn`t going to happen the way Trump would
want it to. It`s not about the coastal elites at this point.

MELBER: So, Peter, you look at that level of loyalty and it reminds me of
something I covered a lot during the campaign, which was people who love
Donald Trump so much, they spent money to go
to Trump University, which was a business to give out business advice that
went out of business and the customer who sued it went from originally
loving him so much that they were paying for it to suing him because they
decided he was actually a con.

Is that any kind of example or predicate for what some plurality of Trump
voters might ultimately feel from your reporting?

HESSLER: Well, I think there are always two sides of Trump that appeal to
people. One was the pragmatic. They saw him as a businessman. He gets
things done. If he goes into office, he`s not going to behave like other
politicians. He`s going to drain the swamp and so on.

The other side was the emotional side, that somehow he spoke to people who
feel alienated from our political discourse, people who feel ignored by the
coastal media and the coastal elites, and so both of these dynamics were
there before he came into office.

What I have noticed is that since he`s been in office, of course there
hasn`t been a lot of pragmatic progress. He hasn`t really behaved like a
businessman who just wants to get things done. And so what ends up
happening is that the supporters I find are more likely now to connect to
the emotional side of it and his attacks.

And so I think this – and those attacks, of course, also make it even less
likely for him to get things done, because those attacks don`t work with
institutions, they don`t work with professional politicians.

MELBER: And life is made of feelings.

Jess, in a sentence, what`s the best argument to those voters?

MCINTOSH: I think it`s going to be the substance of what he can or can`t
get down as he goes
forward. They voted for him for a reason and he`s not going to be able to
deliver on any of them except for those who just want to watch it all burn.

MELBER: Jess, appreciate you being here. And Peter, fitting that you
called in because that`s what Donald Trump does for a lot of interviews.
So, thank you very much.

That`s All In.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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