All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 7/19/17 The Trump Effect

Michael McFaul

Date: July 19, 2017
Guest: Michael McFaul

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: He thinks only of how or somehow show up with
a political score card. He doesn`t care of millions get hurt as long as
the other side gets the blame. I say we should follow the Wisdom of
Solomon. And that`s HARDBALL for now, “ALL IN” starts right now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York, I`m Joy Reid in for
Chris Hayes. We have some pretty big breaking news to start with tonight.
In an interview with the New York Times, President Donald Trump said that
he never would have appointed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General had he
known that Sessions would recuse himself. “How do you take a job and then
recuse yourself if he would have recused himself before the job, I would
have said, thanks, Jeff, but I`m not going to take you.” He continued, “it
is extremely unfair and that`s a mild word to the President.”

Now, remarkably, Donald Trump also spoke of conditions under which the
investigation would in his view go too far. Asked if Mr. Mueller`s
investigation would cross a red line if it expands to look into his family
finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Trump said, I would say yes.
He would not say what he would do about it, however but he added, “I think
that`s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.” Also today, the eldest
son of the President, his name sake, Donald Trump Jr., and Trump`s former
Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, have been invited to testify before the
Senate Judiciary Committee one week from today, this following more than
ten days of rolling disclosures and reported revelations of Donald Trump
Jr.`s meeting with Russian nationals in June of last year after e-mails
promising the Russian government help in discrediting Hillary Clinton. The
New York Times tonight also reports that Paul Manafort who was at that
meeting in Trump Tower was in serious debt to pro-Russian interest before
he joined the Trump campaign.

And then there`s Jared Kushner. Today we learn that had Donald Trump`s
son-in-law and Senior Adviser will be interviewed by the Senate
Intelligence Committee in a closed session. Kushner`s lawyer said in a
statement, “As Mr. Kushner has been saying since March, he has been - he
has been and is prepared to voluntarily cooperate and provide whatever
information he has on the investigation to Congress.” Joining me now,
MSNBC National Security Contributor Michael Schmidt, who is a Reporter for
the New York Times, who interviewed Donald Trump tonight. So Michael
Schmidt, let`s go into that meeting a couple of beats. The headline of
course out of it saying, Donald Trump saying he never would have appointed
Jeff Sessions to be the Attorney General had he known he would recuse
himself. Did you get sense that he is saying that because he didn`t
understand that Jeff Sessions had involvement in the Russian issue or that
he thought that Jeff Sessions would be in a position to cover his back
essentially in that job?

CONTRIBUTOR: I`m not sure. He did not explain exactly why he felt that
way. But he`s clearly very disappointed in Sessions. He clearly sees this
somewhat as -

REID: And we`ve heard reports before that Donald Trump was disappointed in
Sessions. That it seems that disappointment does stem down to just that
one thing.

SCHMIDT: Correct.

REID: That Jeff Sessions is not in a position to weigh in on this Russia
investigation. I got to ask you, were there any follow-up questions that
went to the question of why would it matter if he recused himself unless he
thought that Jeff Sessions could provide him some cover?

SCHMIDT: Well, we did follow up with questions. I mean, it is - it is
difficult sometimes with the President when he`s taking because he speaks
very quickly and he says a lot of things in the conversation can meander.
We had reported a few weeks ago that Sessions - that Trump was upset with
Sessions about his decision to recuse and the appointment of Mueller. But
what`s different here today is that publicly the President is doing this.
Now he has an Attorney General who is not necessarily had the legs cut out
from underneath him but is clearly on the bad side of the President. And
it will be interesting to see what the fallout from that. Is there really
any impact on Sessions and Sessions` ability to do his job or is this just
something that Sessions just sort of shrugs off and continues going
forward. But Trump is clearly upset about the fact that Mueller has been
appointed and that he is looking at these different issues and that Mueller
has the ability to sort of take his investigation where it may.

REID: We`re going to get to Mueller just the kind of wanting to let the
audience listen to the Sessions` portion of that New York Times Interview.
Take a listen.


job. Right after gets job, he recuses himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was that a mistake?

TRUMP: Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was
going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and
I would have picked somebody else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He gave you no heads up at all, in any sense?

TRUMP: Zero. So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses
himself. I then have?-?which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the
president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would
have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but
I can`t, you know, I`m not going to take you.” It is extremely unfair and
that`s a mild word to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up
with a second man who is a deputy.


REID: You know, and I want to stay with this just for a minute Michael
because the sort of crux of Donald Trump`s anger about the ongoing Russia
investigation really sort of has consumed his presidency. And I want to
move on to Robert Mueller who you did mention. Now, in this investigation,
according to an (INAUDIBLE) of folks watching the show, this entire
interview is on the New York Times Web site. He gets into the question of
Mueller and whether or not he thinks his investigation could conceivably go
too far. Did he then get into whether or not, if he thought Mueller
strayed into areas he thought were unfair, whether or not he would fire

SCHMIDT: So he wouldn`t commit to firing Mueller if he goes beyond a
certain line. But he did say that there`s a red line that if Mueller is
looking at things related to his finances, related to things outside the
Russian investigations, that would be what he called a violation. He
didn`t define what he meant by a violation. But he clearly sees Mueller`s
purview as one to look at Russian meddling in the election and any ties
between folks around him, the president, and folks in Russia. But he
doesn`t see the Mueller`s mandate is going any further than that. And the
question is, is that what will happen with Mueller`s investigations? As
we`ve seen with Special Counsels or Special Prosecutors in the past is that
they tend to turnover a lot of different rocks and tend to look at a lot of
different things often things that are different from what they start.

If you remember under the Clinton administration, it was a Whitewater
investigation that eventually led to Monica Lewinsky. So this is clearly
something that in a reporting has shown us in recent days that folks in
Trump world are very concerned about where Mueller may go and what Mueller
may do and whether this becomes an unwieldy thing that casts a shadow over
his Presidency. I think that if he had his way considering - I mean,
obviously Mueller wouldn`t be there but if he had his way going forward, it
would be a Russian investigation that wraps up pretty quickly, it - you
know, gets to some conclusions and allows him to move on with his
Presidency and I think their afraid that that`s going to happen.

REID: But isn`t it the case though that rock that Mueller might turn over
that has to do with Trump family and associate`s financials are directly
related to Russia. I wonder if you asked him whether or not he understands
that part of the reasons that the finance is irrelevant is because it`s
thought that that might have been an inducement to the Russians or
something they could use as an inducement to some members of the Trump

SCHMIDT: We did talk to him about his finances and he did say what he has
said before, is that he has no real ties to Russian money. He says you
know, maybe Russian folks may have bought a condo in one of his buildings
and that he did have the Miss Universe Pageant in Russia several years ago
but he said look, there`s nothing - there`s nothing really there. There`s
nothing more to it than that. And he basically says, that you know, this
is - there`s nothing there on any of this stuff related to him. He said no
indication that he himself is under investigation and that you know, he`s
deeply skeptical of all these accusations about Russia.

REID: Did you take his comments about Mueller as essentially a threat to
Mueller to back down or else?

SCHMIDT: Well, it certainly – it certainly puts Mueller on notice that
he`s going to be watching him closely. That he did - they`re going to be
looking at Mueller and seeing if he steps outside the Russia lane. And if
he does that, you know, the President does have the power to get rid of
Mueller because the President does control the Justice Department. So that
will be the question. If Mueller steps out, what will Trump do? Could
Trump politically survive getting rid of Mueller? I don`t - most people
would say that he wouldn`t been able to survive politically getting rid of
Comey. He did get rid of Comey, he paid an enormous price for that but he
has continued on obviously. So would he get rid of Mueller? That`s - you
know, that`s not something we really got a definitive answer about.

REID: Yes, and the Comey firing is the subject of the Senate Judiciary
Committee`s hearings which is the reason that Paul Manafort and some of the
other associates were being called in to talk to that Committee. I want to
talk to you a little bit about Comey. You guys did talk to Donald Trump
about Jim Comey and apparently, he made some additional allegations about
the former FBI Director, if could you could expand on that.

SCHMIDT: Yes. He - so, on January 6, Comey someone - other senior
intelligence officials went up to Trump Tower to brief Trump on the Russian
Meddling in the Election. Afterward, Comey pulled Trump aside and told him
about the dossier. This is this collection of reports by a former British
Spy about information that the Russians may have on Trump. Sort of
blackmail information and different weird business ties between Trump
associates and Russia. Now, what Trump says is that in hindsight, looking
back on that, when Comey pulls him aside, he thought Comey was trying to
get leverage on him, that this was Comey - you know, as Comey was
maneuvering to try and keep his job. It was - it was sort of a play for
leverage. What Comey has testified about, and if you talk to folks at the
FBI, what they would say is that Comey was trying to tell Trump, look,
there`s this information out there about you. The media may be publishing
it, and we have it and you have a right - you know, you should know about
To sort of put him on notice about it but that it was not trying to
compromise the President.

REID: Yes. I`ve got to talk you about Vladimir Putin. I don`t know how
much of your interview involved on Vladimir Putin. But Donald Trump had
seemed to express a lot of trusts, I guess in the word of Vladimir Putin.
When Putin said that he didn`t interfere in the election, Trump seemed the
take his word for it. Did you talk to him about the Russian President and
what did he say?

SCHMIDT: We talked a little bit to him about this second meeting he had
with Putin at the NATO conference several days ago - more than a week ago.
And he talked about it and said that actually when he went and spoke with -
it was after this dinner with Putin that they discussed adoption. Now the
interesting thing about the issue of adoption is that was the initial
answer provided by Don Junior when it came out about ten days ago that he
had had these meetings with Russian officials promising information about
Hillary Clinton, that what Don Junior had said, that the meeting was about
adoption and about lobbying about adoption. That was an interesting
coincidence but we weren`t able to really make sense if whether it was
anything more than that and the conversation veered off in other

REID: All right, Michael Schmidt, thank you so much for joining us to the
last minute of this breaking news. Thank you very much for your reporting
and of course, everybody can read your interview, the interview you were a
part of on the New York Times Webs site. Thank you, Sir. Really
appreciate your time.

SCHMIDT: Thanks for having me.

REID: Thank you. And joining me now, MSNBC Legal Analyst Paul Butler, a
Professor, and Former Federal Prosecutor. All right, Paul, I`m going to go
through this point by point and start with Sessions. Donald Trump telling
The New York Times that had he known Sessions would recuse himself, he
never would have appointed him. What does that say to you?

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: He wants a loyalty pledge. He
misunderstands the way that the Department of Justice works, which means
that it`s supposed to be independent of political interference even from
the President of the United States. So again, this is vintage Trump
wanting everyone who works for him to pledge allegiance but that simply
isn`t the way that our process works.

REID: And you know, I`m wondering if it strikes you as a prosecutor the
way it struck me, when I read that and heard that from Michael Schmidt,
that it sounds as if he`s saying that he specifically intended or wanted
Sessions to be available to kind of take care of things on Russiagate. Am
I hearing that wrong?

BUTLER: Yes, Joy, that`s the way that I think Special Counsel Mueller will
consider that. And when I -you know, we think about the law here,
obstruction of justice comes to mind. And this would be make him guilty of
that. But it does go to a state of mind. The statute says you`re guilty
of obstruction if you attempt to impede an investigation. And it seems
like a lot of Trump`s motives including hiring people to work in law
enforcement centers around his concerns about Russia and his concerns about
an investigation.

REID: And let`s go to Mueller because speaking of an investigation,
Mueller is the one leading it. What did you make of this statement by
Donald Trump to the New York Times in his interview that essentially he
would consider it to be out of bounds and for Mueller to have gone too far
if his investigation strays into the family finances? Does that sound like
threat to you to fire Mueller if he gets beyond what Trump believes is
related to Russia?

BUTLER: It certainly sounds like a threat. And again, it`s going to sound
like a threat to Special Counsel Mueller. The last thing you want to do,
if you`re the subject of an investigation, is to issue a threat either
veiled or explicit to one of the best prosecutors in the country who has an
ace team of FBI agents and other fantastic prosecutors who are looking at
Trump`s actions, the actions of his members of his family and campaign
operatives. And again, it`s not so much personal as he`s creating the
impression, the President is, that he has something to hide, that he`s
fearful of what an investigation might uncover. Typically, the political
line here would be, I welcome the investigation. It will exonerate me.
But that`s not what we`re hearing from this President.

REID: And it`s interesting because the fact that Donald Trump seems to be
very skittish about any investigations starting to look into his finances
but can you explain from a prosecutor`s point of view, the relationship
that the finances have to the case in chief? I mean, don`t the prosecutors
have to look into what potential inducements were there for Trump and his
team to cooperate with the Russians including financial?

BUTLER: Absolutely. So this is an investigation about national security,
about whether the campaign colluded with the Russians to subvert our
democracy. And one issue is, why would they do it or what`s in it for
them? So there might be a political motive if they thought that President
Trump would be better for Russia than President Hillary Clinton but there
also might be a financial motive. When we look at some of the tools that
were used in the election by the Russians, they`re sophisticated. Russian
organized crime now is very into cyber terrorism and hacking and that`s
expensive. You have to pay for that. So one question that Special Counsel
Mueller is investigating is what the deal was. Was there a quid pro quo?
And if so, how did the finances go down? So you have to think about money
laundering and have to look at the finances. But again, if you have
nothing to hide, what you do is welcome that investigation because you know
it will exonerate you. You`re typically, especially concerned if you do
think that you have criminal exposure.

REID: Yes. All right, well, Paul Butler, thank you very much. We really
appreciate your time as always tonight. Thank you.

And now let`s go to MSNBC`s Garrett Haake, he`s coming to us with - OK,
we`re going to Garret Haake in just a moment with some breaking news just
now. Let me get some guidance from my producers on what we want to do. Do
you want to go to break? We`ll take a break and we`ll be right back.


REID: We have yet more breaking news tonight. The office of Senator John
McCain has announced tonight that the Arizona Senator has been diagnosed
with a brain tumor. Joining me now on the phone is NBC`s Garret Haake.
Garret, give us what we know.

GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Sure. Well, we know
from the Senator`s office in a joint statement with the Mayo Clinic in
Arizona that treated him that this comes after this surgery that he had on
Friday night to remove a blood clot over his left eye. The pathology test
was sort of the outstanding piece of the puzzle here. That test came back
today and the Senator has been diagnosed with what they say is the primary
brain tumor known Angioblastoma associated with the blood clot. Now, I`m
not a doctor, I`m not an expert. The statement goes on to say that he`s
recovering well, that you know, he`s doing fine. He`s resting comfortably,
talking to his friends and family.

We`ve already started to hear statements from some of his fellow Senators,
including Jeff Flake, his fellow Arizonan talking about how tough he is
including the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, talking about how
tough he is. If you`re starting to notice a pattern here, that`s because
there is no question, John McCain is the toughest man in the Senate. This
is someone was shot down over Vietnam and tortured. He had that melanoma
in the past. He has been through a lot. And I don`t think it`s an
overstatement to say he`s probably one the of most widely respected figures
in the camber on both sides of the aisle, so a lot of folks pulling for him
tonight. No timetable yet on his return, that`s something that`s going to
come from his doctors down the line. But a lot of anxious people in the
U.S. Senate tonight thinking about and praying for John McCain.

REID: All right. Garrett Haake, NBC`s Garrett Haake, thank you very much.
We really appreciate that reporting. And joining us now, MSNBC Medical
Correspondent, Dr. John Torres, so Dr. Torres, Haake made a comment that
he`s not a doctor and cannot explain what Angioblastoma is so we would
really appreciate if you would so for us now Sir.

brain tumor, unfortunately, it`s very, very aggressive. That brain tumor
is malignant tumor and the problem with it is it has arms that spread out
from the tumor center itself. And so, they say in the report they gave us
that they got most of the tumor, at least they think they did. It`s very
difficult to do that. Unfortunately, it has a low survival rate. Most
people with Angioblastoma diagnosed, their survival rate is 14 months to
three years. This is the average time, so this is - this is not good news.

REID: And we know that John McCain, he`s born at 1936. Let`s do the quick
calculations, he is 80 years old. Just give us sort of the factors there
because John McCain obviously have had many, many health problems. With
the blood clot that he was treated for have been a signal that that is
indeed what he was suffering from?

TORRES: That sounds like what happened because these tumors can bleed
quite well. And so (INAUDIBLE) of blood, you know, they`ve (INAUDIBLE) the
blood, they did the samples on it, they looked at it under the micro scope
and found out it was Angioblastoma. At his age, you have to worry with
health concern but he does have other ones. And so, that`s going to make
his recovery a little tougher as well. Typically though, they`ll try
radiation treatment initially and if that doesn`t work, a some type of
chemotherapy they can use. But the main thing was getting out most of that
tumor and they said they did. That`s good news. He still has a long road
ahead of him though.

REID: And talk about the long road. What would be involved? I mean after
you said, getting out as much of the tumor as they could. How long until
doctors might be able to know whether or not they got it all?

TORRES: So they scan them and they say most of it. Unfortunately, that
doesn`t highlight every little piece and every little cell is important
when it comes to tumors like this. So in his case, they`ll probably do
radiation therapy. That`s typically what they do. And then they`ll look
and see what they do with the radiation therapy and how much is still left
if any, then they`ll decide whether to go to chemotherapy or not. That`s
tougher on the body and given his age and health conditions, they might say
we don`t want to do it. At this time, let`s see what happens. But it`s a
very, very fast growing tumor and it`s a very aggressive and can spread
rapidly. So they have to be very cautious with this. And I guess, the
medium of survival is a matter of just a few years in cases like this.

REID: Well, we really appreciate the information, Dr. John Torres. And of
course, we`re all pulling for Senator John McCain. Thank you so much, Dr.
Torres, we really appreciate it.

TORRES: You bet.

REID: Thank you very much. Just ahead, more on the breaking news from
Donald Trump`s interview with The New York Times, warning Special Counsel
Robert Mueller not to delve into his family finance that he says are not
related to Russia and saying he wouldn`t have appointed Jeff Sessions if he
knew Sessions would have recused himself. That`s next.


REID: Welcome back. The New York Times conducting a wide ranging
interview with Donald Trump tonight and among other things that we learned
from that interview, Donald Trump said he would not have hired Jeff
Sessions had he known he would recuse himself. He essentially said that
Robert Mueller`s investigation has a leash on it if Donald Trump feels it
goes too far or delves into his family finances, there could be some
consequences unspecified. And he also talked about that extra meeting that
he had with Vladimir Putin. And we want to discuss that aspect of the
interview now. And joining me is Ambassador Michael McFaul, former U.S.
Ambassador to the Russian Federation and MSNBC Terrorism Analyst Malcolm
Nance, author of the Plot To Hack America. And Ambassador McFaul, I`ve
seen you on this air over the last few nights talking about that extra
pull-aside meeting which I guess isn`t technically what a pull-aside is.
In your view, what do you think are the primary dangers of having that kind
of a meeting without any other Americans beside the President in

it is a good thing in diplomacy when heads of state have conversations,
have informal conversations. I work for President Obama for five years.
He most certainly did that at gatherings like this one. What was peculiar
about this particular meeting, in my opinion, number one, that it went on
for so long. There are a lot of other heads of state there, there`s our
ally who is the host and President Trump chose to focus on President Putin.
We have a lot of other issues and a lot of other guests there. That`s just
not good manners.

But it`s also not good diplomacy. And number two, you don`t just chat
about the weather and your kids with President Putin for an hour. I`ve
been in meetings with President Putin and Prime Minister Putin, he`s a
serious guy with an agenda. And that`s what he would be pushing and to
have the President there without his talking points, without his officials
with him, without his advisers, and to go one-on-one with Putin for an hour
suggests to me that something might come up that might not be in America`s
national interests. And once Trump - President Trump says something to
President Putin, that is really tough to walk back in terms of policy.

REID: And you know, Malcolm, in addition to all the other sort of strange
things about this, you had Putin`s translator there, no American
translator. How would Donald Trump even be sure he was being told what
Vladimir Putin was really saying? It does seem to be a security - not a
good idea. Let`s put it that way.

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it`s not a good idea. And
Mike McFaul made this point earlier in the day that the only people who had
any idea of what was said was Vladimir Putin and his translator and that
said translator who have you know, said something completely different.
This is why you have your own. Most notable is that Donald Trump brought a
Japanese translator with him which means he intended to speak to Prime
Minister Abe who was sitting next to him when this conversation started.
He just completely ignored him and went on to speak to Vladimir Putin.
It`s a national security imperative that we have a President of the United
States who will actually work within the norms of foreign policy so that we
are defending. As Josh Marshall, a talking points memo put it today,
Donald Trump clearly had something he needed to speak with Vladimir Putin
about that he wanted no other American to know about and that`s dangerous
for all of us.

REID: And I want to ask both of you this question but I want to go first
to Ambassador McFaul on this because when Donald Trump told The New York
Times tonight in the interview, we had Michael Schmidt earlier from the
Times, that what he talked and chatted with Vladimir Putin about was
adoption. Thanks to one Rachel Maddow, when I hear adoption, I think
Magnitsky Act. And this, of course, is the law that sanctioned individual
Russians for human rights violations. If that is what they are talking
about, are you concerned - I`ll start with you Ambassador McFaul - that
what that conversation revolved around was repealing or rolling back the
Magnitsky Act?

MCFAUL: Absolutely. What other - what other topic could there be? And
let`s just be clear to remind everybody, after our administration signed
into law the Magnistsky Act which sanctioned human rights abusers in
Russia, including those responsible for the wrongful death of this lawyer
Sergei Magnitsky, President Putin then signed into law the Dima Yakovlev
law which banned adoptions from American citizens. So they`re directly
linked to each other and there`s no way that Vladimir Putin is talking
about some repeal of that adoptions ban unless lifting sanctions are on the
table. Either the Magnitsky sanctions or some of the others that were put
in place including ones for what Russia did when they invaded Ukraine or
what they did when they did when they interfered in our elections. So
those two things are intertwined, there`s no doubt on my mind.

REID: (INAUDIBLE) I`ve interview Vladimir Kara-Murza who`s very clear that
the Magnitsky Act is of the top of Vladimir Putin`s agenda. It`s something
that he wants gone (INAUDIBLE) getting a spy compound back. But Malcolm,
you know, if you could just explain to the audience, just walk us through,
let`s say the Magnitsky Act was rolled back. Let`s say Donald Trump gave
Vladimir Putin what he wants and that`s what he committed to. What would
that enable Vladimir Putin and his (INAUDIBLE) would actually do in the
United States if that sanction were gone?

NANCE: Well, I think Rachel Maddow did a very good expose last flight on
explaining how the eighth person in the room was a gentleman associated
with Russia creating companies, front companies in the United States, who
had money laundered perhaps for thousands of Russian interests. Illicit
money that`s could have come into the United States. The Magnitsky Act is
punishment as Ambassador McFaul said so eloquently a little earlier. This
is actually hurting the Russian oligarchy and personally hurting Vladimir
Putin. These sanctions are personal. They are obviously the tops of his
priorities. And so for them to leverage everything and including hacking
the American election, and you know, getting rid of Hillary Clinton and
pressuring Donald Trump, it is absolutely extraordinary. This is a
question of money and I think Vladimir Putin knows Donald Trump responds to

And he went directly to him and Donald quite possibly, responded in a way
which will harm the United States in the future to come.

REID: And, Michael McFaul, it is interesting that when you talk about
Russian – these sort of oligarchs who are sort of quasi oligarchs because
Putin stripped them of all their actual political power, they just have a
lot of money, you find a lot of these nexuses with the investments in real
estate. We know now Paul Manafort, according to The New York Times was in
heavy debt to some pro-Russian interests, including one who had sued him,
Mr. Deripaska. We`ve also heard about a lot on Rachel`s show and on this

And you find – and there`s also reporting in The Times that one of the
things that Manafort was doing was stashing money in very lucrative and
very expensive real estate deals, often cash real estate deals. How
integral is real estate investment to what the oligarchs sort of do
financially around the

MCFAUL: Well, lots of Russians want to invest in the United States. It is
a safe place to invest. And where they invested, in whose companies, and
whose buildings they invest in is something we need to know in terms of
these ties, in terms of the investigation.

And I want to make one thing clear, I think it is very unlikely that
President Trump could lift the Magnitsky Act. Afterall, that`s a law that
was signed into – support from Democrats and Republicans. I don`t see
that being able to be lifted any time soon.

But I do think he needs an excuse to lift the sanctions on some of these
people we`re talking
about, the ones that are done by executive order. And the excuse,
therefore, might be the lifting of adoptions. So, he can say, I got a
deal. I didn`t just give away these concessions. I got something in

I, myself, think that`s a really bad deal, but trying to piece together
these bits of information we have, I could easily see, OK, we`re going to
give back those properties. We`re going to lift sanctions on some of these
businessmen in Russia, but in return, I got the lift on the adoption ban
that are against
American citizens.

REID: That does not sound like an equal trade to me.

MCFAUL: An unequal trade.

Michael McFaul, Malcolm Nance, thank you both. Really appreciate it.

All right, more on the News York Times blockbuster interview with the
President Donald Trump ahead.

Plus, the president`s new effort to sell health care. Stay with us.


REID: With Republicans facing the prospect of a humiliating defeat on one
of their signature
campaign promises, the repeal of Obamacare, Donald Trump today convened a
lunch at the White House where he aggressively pressured GOP senators to
get something, anything to his desk.


TRUMP: I`ve been here just six months. I`m ready to act. I have pen in
hand, believe me. I`m sitting in that office. I have pen in hand.
Frankly, I don`t think we should leave town unless we have a health
insurance plan, unless we can give great health care.

My message today is really simple, we have to stay here. We should
shouldn`t leave town. And we should hammer this out and get it done.


REID: Trump pivoted in the meeting from pleading to playing the heavy. At
one point even
threatening a Nevada Senator Dean Heller who opposed the most recent
version of the bill to get on board or something just might happen to that
senate seat you`ve got there.


TRUMP: This was the one we were worried about. You weren`t there. But
you`re going to be. You`re going to be. Look, he wants to remain a
senator, doesn`t he? OK. And I think the people of your state, which I
know very well, I think they`re going to appreciate what you hopefully will


REID: I think Trump lost that state.

Before today, the president of the United States had done relatively little
to help push the plan through the Senate and at times actually undermined
the effort, most notably when he told GOP Senators that the House version
of the bill, upon which their bill was based and for which he threw a big
premature party in the White House Rose Garden was, quote, mean, mean,

Today, however, Trump blamed his fellow Republicans for not talking up
their plan enough.


TRUMP: So they`re selling their plan, and we don`t sell our plan. If
we`re weak on anything, it is on letting people know how good it was.


REID: So, how good is it? Well, after the meeting, Senate Republicans
released a new health care bill, sort of. Having failed to agree on a
repeal and replace plan, they release ad straight out
repeal bill modeled on one from 2015. And it is a doozy. The
Congressional Budget Office tonight reports that the bill would leave 32
million people without health care and double American`s premiums by 2026.

Majority leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate will vote next week on
whether to bring that health care bill to the floor for debate and
amendments, even if he doesn`t have the votes.

And while there are signs McConnell may, in fact, not have the votes,
opponents of the bill remain engaged. At the Capitol today, 155 people,
many with preexisting conditions, were arrested while protesting the GOP
effort to dismantle Obamacare`s protections.

Meanwhile, at this very hour, Republican Senators are meeting on Capitol
Hill in a seemingly last-ditch effort to work out a compromise and get 50
votes to move forward.

Not present at that meeting? Repeal only opponent, Republican Senator
Susan Collins of Maine who was apparently only told of the meeting this
afternoon and who said she had a previously scheduled engagement.

I`m joined now by Republican congressman Mark Amodei of Nevada.

And Congressman, I`m sure that you, like up with the show, are thinking
about John McCain. I want to give you an opportunity if there`s anything
you would like the say on that matter now that we know his condition is
quite serious.

REP. MARK AMODEI, (R) NEVADA: Yeah, thanks, Joy.

Godspeed to the navy flyer in Arizona, the straight talk express guy.

REID: Yeah, the western members of congress I`m sure all stick together in
a lot of ways.

So, let`s talk a little bit about this bill. We know that it`s the
Senate`s baby at this point, and they`re meeting with the White House
tonight. Mitch McConnell in the other – body across the transom from you,
has moved to repeal only, away from what had been repeal and replace. Do
you, sir, support the idea of straight repeal?

AMODEI: Well, here`s where I`m at, speaking just for me, Joy, and that is
– listen, when the Senate does something, I would be happy to talk about
it in detail, but as you yourself put in the lead-in, it`s like – hey,
they`ve been everywhere from breakfast to dinner and dessert and back, so
let`s see what they do. And then see what it means.

I mean, health care. There`s not a political sweet spot, so if they`re
looking for one, good luck with that. The ACA had problems. Our bill had
problems. But it`s like you`ve got to start somewhere. I think the idea
we`re just going to let it sit there and kind of blow up, it`s like I`ve
got news for everybody, after the election the Republicans own health care
now, so we ought to take a shot at it. We`re at the plate. The pitcher is
on the mount. And we`ve got to bat. Let`s take a swing.

REID: Well, let me ask you this, because let`s say that the – the Senate
took a swing and what they were able to get, all they were able to get is
full repeal, which we now know, according to the CBO, means really back to
status quo anti and worse, 35 million people losing health care, premiums

That catastrophe would then be on people like you. You`d have to go home
and explain to your constituents why you let that happen. Do you oppose
going down that path?

AMODEI: Well, I can tell you this, whatever they do comes back over to us,
and much of the reporting has been, well, what the Senate does is going to
be the deal. With all due respect to people who got a C in government,
it`s like the House still gets a say on whatever they do, and I would
expect to have a full say.

I can tell you this, that nobody is going to be happy, but nobody is going
to be really excited about things until we focus on the two primary issues,
which is what are the overall cost drivers that we can affect in this deal?
And the second part is, what do you do about people who are on exchanges in
the private market and what do you do about Medicaid expansion. And so
until the discussion focuses on that, no wonder people are frustrated.

REID: I`m glad you said that, because you`re maybe the first person, a
Republican I`ve interviewed that actually It is not just one bill. It`s
the private market, which has some serious issues that need to be fixed.
And then there`s Medicaid on the other side. Very quickly, do you support
cutting a trillion dollars almost out of Medicaid?

AMODEI: I would have to see which context it was done in, Joy. I don`t
want to get into the
general overall stuff, because what this issues needs is focus.

REID: But you vote to cut Medicaid.

AMODEI: I absolutely did. And, guess what the way it did it in terms of
it costs the states no money in reimbursement. They were still getting
reimbursed at 90 percent. They got people – they were allowed to get
folks on Medicaid expansion signed up for two more years. People that were
on there that didn`t make too much money or take their employer job, got to
stay on it until they are Medicare eligible. Those are specifics, which
quite frankly, are reasonable.

The challenge for the House bill was, when 2020 passed, if it were the law,
what do you do with those expansion people? And I don`t think a subsidy
saying good luck in the market is going to work. That needs more work to
be completely honest.

REID: Well, we will see what happens. And we will see if eventually
Donald Trump weighs in and figures out what he thinks about all of this as
well. Congressman, Mark Amodei, thank you very much for joining me.

AMODEI: Thanks, Joy.

REID: Thank you.

And joining me now is Adam Jentleson, former deputy chief of staff to
Senate minority leader Harry Reid. Now, senior strategic adviser at the
Center for American Progress Action Fund war room.

So, you just heard the congressman say that, you know, in order for him to
even figure out where he is on the bill, the Senate actually has to do
something. They don`t appear to have the votes to do much of anything.

What do you make of Mitch McConnell`s strategy, which is to essentially
say, OK, fine, caucus, you can`t agree on the BCRA, or Trumpcare, or
whatever we`re calling it, so we`re going back to 2015, back to full
repeal. What does that say you about Mitch McConnell and where he is sort
of strategically at this point?

me that Mitch McConnell is flailing. It is strangely punitive approach to
his caucus. You know, you can employ carrots and different measures at
different times, but to basically tell them that if they don`t along with
his plan he`s going to punish them by forcing them to take a vote on a bill
that is a career defining bill that could put a lot of the members who are
up for reelection like Senator Heller in Nevada, in a very difficult spot,
to make them essentially walk the plank because they won`t go along with
his plan is not typically how you achieve success as a Senate leader.

REID: You know, you said his plan. And it`s interesting, because you know
when you talk about Obamacare, everybody understood that was definitely his
plane. It was what Obama wanted to do. It was – he was joined by Senator
Harry Reid and by of course Nancy Pelosi who shoved it through and, god
bless them, they actually managed to get it through, but it had really
Barack Obama`s stamp on it, President Obama`s stamp on it.

With Donald Trump, he`s been all over the place. Garrett Haake, of NBC, is
reported Trump has been for, on Monday morning repeal and replace, on
Monday afternoon repeal now, replace later, on Wednesday morning let
Obamacare fail, and on Wednesday afternoon, repeal and replace.

Trump is meeting with most of the Senators tonight sans one who wasn`t
really 100 percent invited. What is it that you think he is telling them
he wants them to do?

JENTLESON: I think what he`s telling them he wants to do is he wants them
to deliver a win, but he is not showing that he is going to stand by them.
And the different positions that you just highlighted doesn`t give Senators
any confidence that he is going to stick with them.

If you`re going to take a tough vote like this as the United States
Senator, you want to have confidence that the president is going to use his
bully pulpit to defend you, to support you, to help explain and sell the
bill to the public.

And when Trump changes his positions day to day, it undercuts his ability
to get Republicans to do what he wants them to do, because they have no
confidence that he is going to be in the same position Saturday as he was
today or even tomorrow.

REID: Yeah, do you recall ever seeing a president threaten a member a way
– openly Trump did with Dean Heller today?

JENTLESON: I mean, President Trump is literally manufacturing content for
Senator Heller`s opposition. And I`ve never seen anything like that in my

REID: A lot that we`ve never seen before in our lives in this
administration in these last six months.

Adam Jentleson, thank you very much for being here. Appreciate it.

And after the break, the remarkable interview that Donald Trump gave to The
New York Times tonight, issuing a warning to special counsel Robert Mueller
and talking aboutthe second discussion he had with Vladimir Putin. More on
that after the break.


REID: Returning to the big breaking news tonight, in a wide ranging
interview with The New York Times, Donald Trump said he never would have
appointed Jeff Sessions as his attorney general had he known that Sessions
would recuse himself. The Times has posted the audio on their website.
Let`s take a listen.


TRUMP: Sessions gets the job. Right after he gets the job, he recuses
himself. Was that a mistake? Well, Sessions should have never recused
himself. And if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me
before he took job and I would have picked somebodyelse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He gave you no heads up at all?

TRUMP: Zero.

So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which
frankly, I then have – which frankly I think is very unfair to the
president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would
have recused himself before the job, I would have said thanks, Jeff, but I
can`t – you konw, I`m not going to take you. It is extremely unfair, and
that`s a mild word, to the president.

So, he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man who is a deputy.


REID: And there`s a lot more in that interview, including what could be
perceived as threat to
special counsel Robert Mueller. And we`ll talk about all of that after
this break.


REID: The top story on a very full day of breaking news, there`s a
remarkable interview with The New York Times in which Donald Trump spoke of
conditions under which the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller
might in his view go too far.

Quote, asked if Mueller`s investigation would cross a red line if it
expands to look at his family
finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Mr. Trump said, I would say
yes. He would not say what he would do about it. I think that`s a
violation. Look, this is about Russia, unquote.

And joining me now, Charlie Pierce, writer at-large for Esquire, and Leon
Wolf, managing editor at The Blaze.

Welcome, both of you.

I want to start with you, Leon, what did you make with this, what sure
sounds like a threat to
Robert Mueller?

LEON WOLF, THE BLAZE: Well, you know, it`s interesting, it`s not something
that an ordinary president would do. But of course, Trump does things very
differently from any other president before him. But, yeah, it certainly
is something that sends up a lot of red flags.

Look, I don`t know what the end result of all this Russia investigation is
going to be. I tend to think that the Russians were more interested in
sowing chaos than they were in actually tipping the election one way or the
other. But he sure does have a knack for making himself look guilty.

And that`s kind of the – I mean, he`s done it throughout all this entire
time. He`s acted in such a way that makes it difficult for people like me
who find the whole scenario of Russia actually changing the election
implausible to say that it`s plausible, just because of the way he acts.
It just seems shady.

REID: And doesn`t it include – I mean, this sort of weird extra meeting
with Vladimir Putin is on. You know, if you`re somebody who is concerned
that Russiagate is making you look bad, is there some innocent explanation,
I haven`t thought of, as to why you would take a side meeting without your
interpreter, Leon?

WOLF: Yeah, no, I don`t – you know, again, Donald Trump just doesn`t seem
to have that little
trigger in the back of his brain that says, you know, regardless of whether
this is bad, it might look bad and so I`m not going to do it. That little
thing that most politicians have that they`ve kind of grown up with, it
doesn`t seem to be present at all with him.

So, yeah, no, I definitely don`t know what the explanation is. And I think
that`s likely we`ll
probably never know.

REID: And Charlie, you know, if he doesn`t have that little trigger in his
head, neither does Paul Manafort, neither does Michael Flynn, neither does
Jared Kushner, neither does his son. And I could go on.

He seemed to surround himself with people who have all these curious ties
to Russia. In this interview, he also said that his conversation with
Vladimir Putin was about adoption, which sends off the Magnitsky Act, you
know, alarm in everyone`s head who is paying attention.

Why would he make that kind of admission?

CHARLIE PIERCE, ESQUIRE: Well, because he doesn`t know any better.

I have thought right from the beginning that all this is about the money.
And I don`t mean, you know, whatever – however he may be monetizing the
presidency now. He needed money to keep his business enterprises afloat
long before he ran for president. I think he went and got it with
Russia. And I think Donald Trump Jr. has pretty much said that prior to
the campaign.

And I think that not releasing the tax returns, and all of this has to do
with how much he owes certain financial interests in Russia.

I mean that, to me, that seems to be the way to cut the Gordian knot of why
he does these things that he does.

Yeah, that would explain why he wouldn`t want his businesses looked into,
right? Because of the way Russians sort of induce sort of western, you
know, people to become agents of influence is if they have need or greed.
Greed is usually a pretty serious inducement.

WOLF: Yeah, it`s definitely a plausible scenario. I think it`s one of the
more plausible Russia related scenarios that I think people are looking

Look, if organized crime elements in Russia could compromise Deutsche Bank,
which is one of the largest financial institutions in the world, who`s to
say that they couldn`t also get to Donald Trump. Again, it`s difficult to
know without the records that, of course, we can`t get because Trump hasn`t
released his tax returns.

Exactly. And, Charlie, you know, in one of the ways that we`ve now seen is
this nexus between, you know, the sort of corrupt activities of the gang
that`s around Vladimir Putin, and real estate. Real estate investment
seems to be a big part of it. What did Donald Trump do for a living
before he was president of the United States, real estate, other than the
TV show.

PIERCE: Yeah, and I think that it`s significant also that the other figure
– I guess we`ve settled on a number on the meeting with Donald Trump Jr.,
right? I mean, we aren`t waiting for someone to…

REID: As we know. As far as we know…

PIERCE: Yeah. I mean, we haven`t got a leak now that the Bolshoi was
performing in the living room while they were having this meeting.

That guy was a money – I mean, the guy was looked into for money
laundering. And if I were a Russian – and I don`t know that there`s any
real distinction anymore between Russian government officials and Russian
organized crime, but if I were working in that nether world, and, you know,
I was
looking for somebody who wanted – who needed a lot of money, and I had
some rubles I need cleaned, I know where I`d look.

REID: And Leon, at what point does the sort of cumulative effect of all
these Russiagate pronouncements and leaks and discoveries start to
penetrate the right? At what point do conservatives,
Republicans start to care?

WOLF: You know, it`s difficult for me to say. I think most of the people
that I talked to on the right have mostly totally tuned this issue out, to
be a 100 percent honest. There`s been so much of it, there comes a point
people stop listening.

REID: Does that surprise you? I mean, I don`t know how old you are, but
you may not – didn`t grown up with sort of the Cold War mentality that was
really, you know, endemic to the Reagonesque Republican Party…

WOLF: Oh, I grew up with it.

REID: Does it surprise you that people don`t care?

WOLF: Yeah, no, it does. It does. I mean, – there are many things that
have happened in the last year and a half, though, that I haven`t been able
to fully explain that are consistent with the movement that I kind of grew
up in, and that`s probably number one among them.

You know, look, again, I find it implausible that the Russians actually
were capable of tipping the election, because it`s much more their speed to
get somebody within the inner orbit of somebody who`s high in power who`s
compromised, who gives that person advice. I think that`s a very likely
and plausible scenario, and it disturbs me that more people aren`t more
interested in it.

But I think that people at this point are just saying, look, there`s been
enough. We want to talk about other things.

So, you know, he`s been persistent. He maintains probably 35 percent, 40
percent approval rating despite all this other stuff. And I don`t know
that his is the issue that`s going to penetrate that.

REID: Yeah, it is pretty remarkable.

Meanwhile, there is yet another New York Times report out tonight, this is
that kind of night, that in fact Trump`s finances, specifically loans from
the financial institution Deutsche Bank, the aforementioned Deutsche Bank,
are in fact under scrutiny by banking regulators, in that the bank is
expected to eventually have to provide information to Robert Mueller`s

And joining me now on the phone is Pulitzer Prize-winning David Cay
Johnston, author of “The Making of Donald Trump.”

All right, David Cay Johnston, unpack that for us. Explain.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR: Well, Donald absolutely does not want any
inquiry into his financial dealings that will trace back to the Russians.
There`s an active lawsuit going on right now about the Trump Soho and how
the profits disappeared into an Icelandic bank under the thumb of one of
the oligarchs. Donald has sold properties at points when he was in
financial trouble for outrageously overpriced figures to Russians.

And I`m not the least bit surprised that the – we`re going to see a deep
inquiry now into Deutsche Bank which was fined over $600 million just for
laundering money for the Russians.

REID: And why Deutsche Bank? How did Deutsche Bank get caught up in this
sort of nexus of money laundering?

JOHNSTON: Well, Deutsche Bank has been engaged in all sorts of nefarious
activities. It was one of the biggest promoters of the tax shelters I was
exposing in The New York Times around the turn of the century.

It has been deeply involved in helping Russians and others move their money
around. And it`s the only major bank that would directly loan money to

When American banks that weren`t going to loan you money anymore after he
said I borrowed money knowing I wouldn`t have to pay it back, so what is
astonish is Trump telling The New York Times in this half-hour interview
today basically, you better not start looking into my family`s finances.

You`re kidding. Really? That`s exactly where this is going to go. And
everybody who`s been paying attention should have known that a long time
ago, including, of course, Donald.

REID: And as somebody who has covered him for a long time. David Cay
Johnson, how would Donald Trump react if this investigation starts to
uncover real wrongdoing, or really sort of shady, embarrassing stuff that
has to do with the Trump family businesses? Do you think he would fire
Robert Mueller?

JOHNSTON: He might fire Robert Mueller. He`s going to have difficulty
reaching down to find somebody to do it, who will be his Robert Bork. It`s
entirely possible he may decide to preemptively pardon himself and others.
That, of course, covers criminal matters, it would not protect him from the
issue of impeachment and removal from office, which is a political act.

But what – at the end of the day, you can always count on Donald will look
out for Donald, and the person to watch here now is Jared Kushner. Jared
Kushner is the member of the family most subject to pressure from Mueller`s
office and to leverage, and Jared Kushner is going to face some very
difficult choices down the road as this investigation goes forward.

REID: I would imagine Manafort would as well, right, Manafort now – we
know he was in deep debt to Russian interests.

JOHNSTON: The other two people who are most subject to leverage by saying,
you know, cooperate or face the music, are Paul Manafort, longtime
representative of many dictatorial regimes, and close connections here with
the Russians and the Ukrainian – the pro-Russian Ukrainians and
General Michael Flynn who has already said, I`ve got a story it tell.

REID: And I`m going to tell it.

JOHNSTON: Please – yeah, I want to tell it, but I want immunity.

REID: But he wants immunity. And of course he once said that that means
you`re guilty.

Charlie Pierce, Leon Wolf, David CAy Johnston, thank you so much for
joining me.

Our coverage continues. The Rachel Maddow Show starts now.


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