All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 7/20/17 The Story of OJ; 6 Months

Richard Blumenthal, David Cay Johnston, McKay Coppins

Date: July 20, 2017
Guest: Richard Blumenthal, David Cay Johnston, McKay Coppins

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: It`s what he`s tempting to do with his
outrageous threat to the Special Prosecutor. And that`s HARDBALL for now,
thanks for being with us. “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes starts right now.



job and then recuse yourself.

REID: New fallout from the New York Times bombshell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mueller was looking at your finances and your family
finances unrelated to Russia, is that a red line?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?

TRUMP: I would say yes. I would say yes.

REID: Tonight the White House responds to a report that the Special
Counsel is following Trump`s money.

TRUMP: I sell a lot of condo units and somebody from Russia buys a condo,
who knows?

REID: Plus -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How seriously are you considering possibly resigning?

REID: As the President turns on his own, new details inside a White House
in crisis. Then, the alarming implications from Trump`s version of that
undisclosed meeting.

TRUMP: Actually, it was very interesting. We talked about adoption.

REID: A new subpoena threats for Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr.

TRUMP: I was just with a lot of people, they said, who wouldn`t have taken
a meeting like that?

REID: ALL IN starts now.


REID: Good evening from New York, I`m Joy Reed in for Chris Hayes. Last
night Donald Trump said his family`s finances were off limits to Special
Counsel Robert Mueller. Today, new reporting suggests Robert Mueller is
going there anyway. And the White House says there are no plans to fire
him, “at this time.” First, the New York Time has posted audio of what was
the most shocking exchange in their latest interview with the 45th

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Mueller was looking at your finances and your family
finances unrelated to Russia, is that a red line?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?

TRUMP: I would say yes. I would say yes. By the way, I would say, I
don`t - I don`t - I mean, it`s possible there`s a condo or something, you
know, I sell a lot of condo units and somebody from Russia buys a condo,
who knows? I don`t make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter
saying that I don`t make - from one of the most highly respected law firms,
accounting firms. I don`t have buildings in Russia. They said I own
buildings in Russia. I don`t. They said I made money from Russia. I
don`t. It`s not my thing. I don`t - I don`t do that. Over the years,
I`ve looked at maybe doing a deal in Russia, but I never did one. You
know, other than I held the Miss Universe Pageant there eight, nine years

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But if he was outside that lane, would that mean he`d
have to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you consider -

TRUMP: No, I think that`s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.


REID: But a full investigation of the Trump-Russia relationship would
almost have to look at the finances. Let`s take a look at the record. The
rights to host the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow were secured by
none other than Vladimir Putin aligned oligarch Aras Agalarov and his son
Emin who arrange the 2016 Trump Tower meeting offering Donald Trump Jr.
dirt on Hillary Clinton. For the Miss Universe deal, Trump Sr. was paid an
estimated $7 million license fee. After the pageant, the Washington Post
reported the Agalarov signed a preliminary deal with Trump to build a Trump
tower in Moscow. Aras Agalarov telling Forbes, “If he hadn`t run for
President he would probably be in the construction face today.”

Reporter James Dodson recalled that Eric Trump, the President`s son once
told him that Trump`s finances financed their golf courses with Russian
money, “He said, well, we don`t rely on American banks. We have all the
funding we need out of Russia.” Eric Trump denied the claim. Donald Trump
Jr. meanwhile in 2008 touted the Trump Organization`s ties to Russia at a
real estate conference saying that Russians make up a disproportionate
cross-section of a lot of our assets. And adding, we see a lot of money
pouring in from Russia. Then there`s Trump`s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The Post reports that Mueller is now investigating Kushner`s finances.

Although we don`t know the focus, we do know that Kushner secretly met with
the head of a sanctioned Russian bank as Kushner`s company was seeking
financing for its troubled $1.8 billion purchase of an office building at
666 Fifth Avenue in New York. The Wall Street Journal reports tonight that
Mueller is also investing possible money laundering by Trump`s former
Campaign Chairman Paul Manaport who is reportedly in debt to pro-Kremlin
interests by as much as $17 million before he joined Trump`s Presidential

NBC News is reporting tonight that multiple U.S. officials familiar with
the ongoing probe being led by Mueller say that he`s “finding the strike
zone” and is continuing to gather documents which may be relevant to his
inquiry. Those documents include financial records and business dealings
of those close to the Trump campaign. Now again, we don`t know exactly
what is happening in Mueller`s investigation but according to a new report
from Bloomberg, which we should note is based on an unnamed source and has
not been confirmed by NBC News, Mueller has now expanded his probe to look
directly at Trump`s business transactions. And that would seem to cross
the red line laid out by the President yesterday but the White House claims
that Trump`s comments should not be viewed as a threat.


trying to make is that the clear purpose of the Russia investigation is to
review Russia`s meddling in the election and that that should be the focus
of the investigation, nothing beyond that. The President is making clear
that the Special Counsel should not move outside the scope of the


REID: Joining me now is Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of
Connecticut, a Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee which has pre-
approved subpoenas to force Trump Jr. and Manafort to appear before the
Committee next week if they do not agree to testify. So, Senator
Blumenthal, I`ll start with that. Do you have any reason to believe that
they will refuse to testify, that you`ll have to use those subpoenas?

reason right now Joy, to believe they`ll refuse to appear. They said they
have nothing to hide. And we`ll take them at their word but certainly,
having talked personally to the Chairman of the Committee, Senator
Grassley, he is intently serious on a bipartisan investigation and
uncovering all the truth. And I think clearly subpoena is necessary.

REID: And why specifically do you want to talk to those two? What
elements of Russia - of the Russia investigation do you want to probe with
them, would you personally want to?

BLUMENTHAL: What I want to know from them is the background of the meeting
that occurred in early June. One of the really shocking revelations in
that New York Times interview was the President acknowledging that he saw
the e-mails offering - in fact, promising dirt on Hillary Clinton before
that June meeting.

REID: Right.

BLUMENTHAL: Although he claims he didn`t know anything about the meeting,
I want to know what he knew and when he knew it and they can begin to
describe it, what`s more. What happened after that meeting? What kinds of
documents were exchanged? What kind of e-mails and what kind of additional
meetings producing dirt on Hillary Clinton and possible promises to lift
sanctions, which was really at the height of Putin`s agenda.

REID: And now, in terms of Donald Trump, in his interview with the New
York Times. He essentially drew a red line saying that any investigation
into his personal finances would be a step too far and would not be related
in his view. And there was an implicit threat there that he could fire
Mueller, essentially get rid of him if he crossed that red line. Can you
imagine and can you envision doing a thorough investigation of the Russia
affair without looking at Donald Trump`s finances?

BLUMENTHAL: Absolutely not. And Robert Mueller is absolutely right to be
pursuing those financial dealings. They are integral to this investigation
because one of the standard Russian tactics and we heard about it in the
Judiciary Committee in our testimony recently, is to, in fact, cultivate
financial ties as a first step and here they were offering those ties and -
they, in the form of dirt on Hillary Clinton. So this kind of tactic is
standard operating procedure for Russian intelligence and Robert Mueller is
absolutely right to be exploring it. And what`s more, the President
drawing a red line, these threats are powerful evidence of obstruction of
justice, more evidence.

REID: And I mean, if Donald Trump were to follow through on that threat,
what might happen on Capitol Hill? What would be the reaction of your
Republican colleagues if Donald Trump would have find a way to oust Robert

BLUMENTHAL: As much as he`s saying that Robert Mueller might be crossing a
line, I think President Trump would be crossing a clear line and would
provoke a fire storm, bipartisan, my Republican colleagues I think would be
outraged, along with the country. And what we`d see, and frankly, I would
help to lead it, is legislation creating a Special Prosecutor, much as
happened in Watergate, appointed by a three-judge panel that would be
independent of the President of the United States for him to draw any
lines, establish any boundaries, say anything as off limits is absolutely
improper (INAUDIBLE) and probably illegal.

REID: So you really think that you know, if Donald Trump would find a way
to fire Mueller which would probably involve either forcing the recusal of
Rod Rosenstein or firing him too if that would have happened, Republicans
would join Democrats in creating a Special Counsel law, do you really think

BLUMENTHAL: I certainly would hope it and my conversations with my
Republican colleagues certainly lead me to think there would be a
substantial number if he fired Robert Mueller who would join in this effort
because after all, we`re one country, we want the rule of law. For Donald
Trump to in fact implicitly threaten to fire a Special Counsel appointed to
uncover the truth, a consummate professional like Robert Mueller,
experienced expert, dedicated to the rule of law, I think would provoke
them to joins us.

REID: Now, you also, you wrote a pretty extensive Twitter rant about the
Jeff Sessions threat that was also in that New York Times interview, where
he essentially regretted having hired Jeff Sessions and then saying, had he
known he would recuse himself from the Russian investigation, he wouldn`t
hired him. What would be the reaction if Jeff Sessions would be pushed out
and how do you - you know, what is your response to Donald Trump`s
statements about Jeff Sessions?

BLUMENTHAL: I opposed Jeff Sessions. In fact, I was the first member of
the Judiciary Committee to speak against him as the nominee for Attorney
General but I believe that firing him for doing the right thing, which was
to recuse himself, really would be wrong. In other words, he had no choice
but to recuse himself having, in effect, told an untruth to the Judiciary
Committee about his meeting with Russians implicating himself in the
investigation. And there`s some question about whether Rod Rosenstein
should recuse himself as well. So I think that the President, in effect
threatening the present Attorney General, as much as I opposed him is
absolutely wrong. And maybe there`s no legal recourse to it, but I was
interested to see that the Attorney General said he`s staying.

REID: Yes. And I want you to just really quickly answer this as a
prosecutorial matter. Donald Trump sort of established his own red line of
what`s too far to go into when it comes to Russian investigation. In your
view, how deep would you expect Mueller to go and how deep will the
Committees go into Donald Trump`s finances? How much - is there a red line
for you and what you wouldn`t look at in terms of his own business dealings
in the past?

BLUMENTHAL: As a former prosecutor, Joy, I can tell you, there are no red
lines. Follow the evidence, follow the money. That`s what Rob Mueller is
doing and the same is true of our investigation. He is looking at possible
criminal charges which we cannot bring. We are looking at ways to improve
the Department of Justice and prevent the kind of firing that occurred with
Jim Comey Among other factors and he can`t do that. So we both have our
separate independent purposes and neither of us should be drawing lines or
setting off limits facts that we need to do our jobs.

REID: All right. Well, Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you so much for
being here. Really appreciate it.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you, Joy.

REID: Thank you very much. And joining me now on the phone is NBC
Intelligence and National Security Reporter Ken Dilanian who has a new
report that Robert Mueller is “finding the strike zone.” Ken, what does
that mean?

Joy, it just means that there`s been some reporting out today that the
investigation is widening to include Trump financial transactions and our
reporting at NBC News is that it`s always been in part about that. And
that, you know, from day one in this inquiry, Robert Mueller and his - and
his team have been looking at financial transaction by Donald Trump and his
associates, and by Paul Manafort. And you know, for example, we know that
the Senate is pouring through thousands of records from the Treasury
Department, from its FinCEN money laundering agency regarding transactions
of Donald Trump and his - and his associates. So - and the investigation
is building steam and Mueller is gathering records but we`re not sure that
there`s anything subsequently new today that wasn`t true yesterday.

REID: And now, when we did learn yesterday it was - from the Wall Street
Journal and this from the story they did about Paul Manafort and what`s
being looked at in terms of him, it says the Senate Committee - Senate
Intelligence assuming has received reports from the Treasury Department`s
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network which tracks illicit money flows to
learn of any of Donald Trump`s businesses may have financial ties to
Russian interests. And this is according to people who spoke with the Wall
Street Journal. Trump has claimed he has no such ties. Do we have any
update in reporting on that?

DILANIAN: Yes, well, the request has sent - happened maybe four or more
weeks ago. So that - this is not a new thing that they were - they were
going after his records. Now they`ve gotten them, they`re going through
them. FinCEN is a money laundering agency so that`s what they do. They
track financial transactions. And investigators are looking to see whether
there`s anything untoward with transactions of you know, between Trump and
his associates and Russia. But you know, and that`s sort of what you would
expect him to do.

After all, you know, this whole thing got started in part with a dossier by
that British`s Intelligence Officer and that dossier alleged that one of
the ways that the Russia government tried to (INAUDIBLE) itself with Donald
Trump was to offer sweetheart business deals. And we know that that
dossier is one of the reasons that the FBI investigation got started. We
know that the FBI deemed parts of it to be credible, unproven and they`re
looking into this stuff and nothing has been proven in this regard yet but
it`s not a surprise they`re looking into it.

REID: Yes indeed. NBC`s Ken Dilanian, thank you very much. Appreciate

DILANIAN: Thanks, Joy.

REID: Thank you. And joining me now is full of surprises Investigative
Journalist David Kay Johnston, author of The Making of Donald Trump and
MSNBC Contributor and former Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor Jill
Wine-Banks. Thank you, both for being here. David Cay Johnston, I`m going
to start with you. Just on some of the elements that we`ve learned in the
last 24 hours about what Bob Mueller may be looking into - I empathize May
when it comes to this Bloomberg report. That report in Bloomberg points to
three transactions that may be of interest to prosecutors.

One is the Trump SoHo development in New York which you`ve talked about a
lot that was done with Russian associates. The second was the 2013 Ms.
Universe Pageant in Moscow for which Donald Trump was paid a $7 million
license fee. And the third was a sale of a mansion to a Russian oligarch
in2008 which Donald Trump bought for 40 million, sold for 90 million, a
mansion that was never lived in. Are any of those three transactions in
your view relatable to the fact that we know about Russiagate?

vulnerable about his financial dealings with the Russians going back to the
1980s. and that`s the reason he said what he did yesterday. Now, you don`t
get to pick your prosecutor and you certainly don`t get to tell your
prosecutor what he can and cannot do. But back in May when Mueller was
appointed, I wrote a column at the Daily Beast warning that Trump would do
exactly what he`s done. Suggest that it`s improper to look beyond into the
financing the Russians have put into the Trump family and businesses, even
though it`s - are intimately connected, they are, in fact, Russian meddling
in the election.

And Trump has now made it clear in the interview with the New York Times
that he thinks that`s a line that shouldn`t be crossed and boy I hope it
gets crossed and I hope that Mueller if anything digs even deeper. It
would be very informing if Mueller would dig into Donald`s very
inexplicable relationship with a major international drug trafficker who he
tried to get lenient treatment for in the 1980s.

REID: And Jill, you know, I think on this question of Donald Trump
essentially, implicitly saying stay away from my money. It seems pretty
clear now that Mueller is not staying away from the money. In your view,
how likely are we heading towards a sort of Nixon moment where he attempted
to fire the Special Prosecutor in that - in that instance back in the
1970s. And if Donald Trump did fire Mueller, what do you expect to happen

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: First of all one would hope that
Donald Trump learns something from history and the reaction to the firing
of Archibald Cox was a ginormous outpouring of support for the Special
Prosecutor. It was that that that led Nixon being forced to appointment a
second Special Prosecutor and to turn over the tapes that ended up being
his doom. And so if Donald Trump learns anything, my advice to him is
don`t fire the Special Prosecutor. But it`s really ridiculous because
there are so many parallels to Watergate that he needs to be aware of and
he seems to be completely unaware of them.

REID: And David Cay Johnston, as somebody who has gotten ahold of part of
Donald Trump`s tax returns, do you (INAUDIBLE) in Donald Trump`s reaction
to Bob Mueller potentially straying into his money and to his finances and
his businesses, a fear that Bob Mueller might actually subpoena the tax
returns that you might start to see inside the Trump organization in a way
that might embarrass him? Is that what we`re seeing here, a President
who`s actually afraid of what will be found?

JOHNSTON: Yes. I would be very surprised if Mueller` crew hasn`t or won`t
soon obtain the tax returns. Now the tax returns are only the beginning
point. You require to keep books and records. Donald has been found in
the past to have kept two sets of books in order to trick governments and
not pay them properly and not have books and records you`re supposed to
have. But I`m sure that Mueller`s people will look deeply into the
financial transactions and FinCEN which is mostly IRS people does a very
good of sifting through, when given a target to look for, they know how to
find needles in hay stacks.

REID: And Jill, you know, we`re now hearing the word money laundering
being used in connection with this probe, not just with Paul Manafort but
the questions of what happened with Deutsche bank. The big German bank who
was the last lender, the only lender left that would lend to Donald Trump
that`s been implicated in potential money laundering through Cyprus. How
wide and extensive do you expect this to go because we`re now talking about
Trump associates but also a pretty major global bank?

BANKS: When you start an investigation, you follow it wherever it leads.
And it seems obvious that the finances are an integral part of finding the
truth in this matter. And that the investigation will have to cover all of
this, his tax returns, his books and records, all of his dealings with
foreign banks. The money laundering right now is targeting mostly Mr.
Manafort but it could easily expand because once you start, you don`t know
where it`s going to end and you have to follow the road. So I think that`s
what needs to happen. And we need to know what did the President know and
when did he know it? And I`ve said from the very beginning that following
the money may be the thing that will really lead to the downfall of this

REID: And I`m going to give you the last word to say David Cay Johnston
who`ve been covering Donald Trump for so long. How likely is it in your
view that Donald Trump actually makes good on these threats to fire Mueller
and how likely it is and how - and how much jeopardy is Jeff Sessions about
losing his job, in your view?

JOHNSTON: Well, Donald is always out for Donald. Donald will throw
fundamentally if he has to members of his own family under the bus for his
own benefit. He can`t directly fire Mueller. He`s going to have to find
somebody to be his Robert Bork. And of course, Robert Bork probably would
have become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice if he had said to Richard Nixon,
no, fire me, I won`t fire Archibald Cox. This - if Donald tries to fire
Mueller, even tries to do so, I think you will see Republicans who in
private are uncomfortable with Trump begin to move to being publically
uncomfortable with Donald Trump.

REID: Yes. Well, we shall see. David Cay Johnston, Jill Wine-Banks,
thank you, both for being here. Appreciate it.

BANKS: Thank you.

REID: And coming up, Donald Trump turns on his own cabinet, disparaging
his Attorney General. Tonight Jeff Sessions is responding and we`ll go
inside a White House in crisis in two short minutes.



TRUMP: We have a great politician here. We have a man here who really
helped me. He was the one person I sought his council because he`s been so
spot on. He`s so highly respected. Has anybody ever heard of Senator Jeff
Sessions? Jeff come up. Where`s Jeff? Get over here, Jeff.


REID: Nearly two years ago Jeff Sessions was a sitting Republican Senator
from the state of Alabama when he stood next to Donald Trump at a Campaign
rally sporting a make America great again hat. Five months later, Sessions
became the first U.S. Senator to endorse Trump. In February of this year,
as Sessions swearing in as Attorney General, Trump called him “A man of
Integrity, principal and of total utter resolve.” Fast forward to
yesterday when in an interview with the New York Times, Trump questioned
Sessions` judgment and basically said he wished he had a different Attorney


TRUMP: 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.


REID: The White House`s Deputy Press Secretary insisted today Mr.
President still has confidence in Sessions (INAUDIBLE) the Attorney General
said in a rather awkward press availability that he or maybe they have no
plans to resign, at least not yet.


as Attorney General, it`s something that goes beyond any thought I would
have ever had for myself. We love this job, we love this Department and I
plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate.


REID: And joining me now is MSNBC Political Analyst Robert Costa and
National Political Reporter for the Washington Post and McKay Coppins,
Staff Writer for the Atlantic. And Robert, I`m going to start with you.
How much jeopardy is Jeff Sessions really in?

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: We`ve seen the Attorney General
move from being a close ally of the President to an ally at a distance. He
is still in step with the President when it comes to his agenda, to his
priorities. He has this populous streak that Trump also has. But at the
same time, ever since that recusal has happened my sources inside the west
wing tell me that the relationship has truly frayed. The President`s
frustrations in the New York Times interview are revealing about the
reality that`s been ongoing for week.

REID: And Robert, is that frustration because Donald Trump expected Jeff
Sessions to cover him on Russiagate, to essentially be his shield against
any real movement or investigation of Russiangate?

COSTA: Well Joy, know that some of my sources have told me the President
does feel more vulnerable to attack because Sessions recuse himself.
Whether he expected Sessions to operate as a shield, I`m not entirely sure
of that based on my reporting. But he does feel Sessions was a loyalist to
him during the campaign, Trump functions and always as throughout his
career thought as loyal - of loyalty as the core quality he wants in some
of his lieutenants. And the recusal, to the President seemed, as he said,
unfair and it leaves his administration, in his mind, under siege on
Russia-related matters.

REID: You know, and McKay, you know, I think many commentators including
myself have used the word supine to describe the sort of general reaction
to Donald Trump. People may internally or privately say, this is odd, but
people don`t really do much about it. That in some ways - you did a very
interesting report on members of Capitol Hill and their sort of attitude of
you know, what can we do? But Jeff Sessions also has seemed to sort of
take this in stride, although he`s gotten this vote of no confidence. Ben
Wittes says -writes for the very popular Lawfare blog. Benjamin Wittes
said - this of Jeff Sessions, “if Attorney General Jeff Sessions does not
resign this morning, it will reflect nothing more or less than a lack of
self-respect on his part. How do you explain the sort of capitulation that
this sort of disloyalty being shown to him by the - shown to him by the

MCKAY COPPINS, ATLANTIC STAFF WRITER: Yes, there`s a general sense among
the people that I talked to in Trump`s administration and this includes
people in the Justice Dependent who say, look, we knew what we were getting
into when we took this job when we join the administration. We knew what
Trump was like. Now, they obviously didn`t predict that he would be you
know, actively throwing the Attorney General under the bus and you know,
musing about wishing that he could have hired somebody else. That said, I
think the general response is look, Trump is Trump, and he acts the way he
does and he`s a known quantity. What we have to do is figure out how to
just survive and move the ball inch by inch in the direction that we want
to while kind of dealing with this constant hurricane coming out of the
west wing.

REID: And you know, we just had Senator Richard Blumenthal on earlier who
said that he believes that if Mueller were to be fired, that Republicans
might actually change from being privately uncomfortable to publically
uncomfortable. Do you agree with that?

COPPINS: Well, that`s an interesting point. I don`t know. I will say, as
you said, I wrote about this in the Atlantic. Over the past week and a
half or so, I`ve been talking to Republicans on the Hill and asking them,
you know, where is this investigation going? Is there a point at which you
will break with the President? What would that look like? What would that
take? Overwhelmingly, the response was, look, we feel like we`re doing all
we can reasonably to hold the President accountable. That might seem
remarkable to a lot of people but that is what I heard.

But the one thing I will say is that all of them, everyone I talked to
brought up the Mueller investigation as kind of a rhetorical shield. They
would say, look, we can do only do so much until that investigation is
completed. We have to find out what comes out of that investigation. All
of them kind of pointed to it as the defense for them not taking a more
aggressive stance. I think if Mueller is fired, there are going to be a
lot of extremely unhappy people on Capitol Hill. If only because it shifts
political pressure back on to them to take this seriously. And frankly,
the Republicans in Congress don`t want this. They want the Special Counsel
to be in-charge of this.

REID: Yes, clearly. OK, Robert Costa, after that interview came out, what
has been the response inside the west wing? Give us the state of play over

COSTA: This is a west wing that does not want drama and that there was no
strategy, I`m told, for the President to make this kind of declaration in
the New York Times interview. It`s really just the President himself
operating as his loan strategist, his loan advisor, and his spokesman.
There was some triage today and last night inside of the White House who
tries to deal with this situation. If Sessions was isolated perhaps, would
he stay on? Will he not stay on? Was the President actually calling for
his resignation or was he just venting? You have people in the orbit in
the White House trying to figure out in real time what the president`s
statements really mean in terms of consequences and personnel.

REID: And really quickly, to stay with you on this, Robert Costa, is there
anyone inside the White House who knows Donald Trump`s thinking not just
regarding what he`ll do with Mueller, but what he`d do with Sessions? Is
he taking any advice or bouncing the ideas off people regarding Sessions
and Mueller and now there`s even these statements about Rod Rosenstein,
Andrew McCabe? Is he talking to anybody about this, or are they just
finding out with the rest of us?

COSTA: Well, my reporting bears out the top people still remain, Chief of
Staff Reince Priebus, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and chief strategist Steve
Bannon. And they`ve known for months that the president has been unhappy
with Sessions` recusal, that Sessions has not had the same kind of rapport
he`s had in the past with President Trump.

And there`s always this sense within the White House that the president
could erupt at a moment`s notice and decide to fire Sessions or make a
decision to engage with Mueller or get rid of Mueller even. These are the
kind of questions that hover over this White House even if they haven`t
actually been acted upon.

REID: Yeah, well, we continue to watch.

McKay Coppins, Robert Costa, thank you very much for joining us.
Appreciate it.

And up next, Donald Trump`s undisclosed meeting with Vladimir Putin, what
does it have
in common with Don Junior`s undisclosed meeting with a Russian lawyer?
You`ll want to hear what Trump told The New York Times about that next.


REID: We learned this week of a previously undisclosed second meeting
between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the evening of
July 7th at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

In Trump`s interview with The New York Times, he gives his version how it
came to be.

Trump`s wife Melania was sitting beside Putin at that dinner and walked
over to talk to her and boom instant pull aside. Trump also offers his
account of what he and Putin discussed.


TRUMP: She is sitting next to Putin and somebody else, and that`s the way
it is. So, that Melania is going to – and toward dessert I went down to
just say hello to Melania and while I was there I said hello to Putin,
really pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long
conversation, but it was – it could be 15 minutes, just talked about

We actually – it was very interesting, we talked about adoption. Russia
adoption. I always found that interesting because, you know, he ended that
years ago,

And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting
because that was part of a conversation that Don had in the meeting that I
think as I said most other people – you know, when they call up and say by
the way we have information on your opponent I think most politicians – I
was just with a lot of people they said who wouldn`t have taken a meeting
like that?


REID: Interesting nonsequitor. Or whether or not you`re convinced by
Trump`s story you just heard, if you`re actually talking about Russian
adoption with Vladimir Putin, then what you`re talking about is only one
thing: the Magnitsky Act, which means you`re talking about sanctions.

The Magnitsky Act was signed by President Barack Obama in 2012 after a
Russian lawyer who was investigating Russian government corruption died in
a Russian prison. The law imposes sanctions
against individuals in Russia, certain government officials and
businessmen, who committed human rights violations.

And it`s the worst sanctions if you happen to be running a kleptocracy,
because it`s sanctions against wealthy businessmen who are beholden to
Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin hates the Magnitsky Act. Ask any Russian expert and they`ll
tell you getting rid of it may be his top priority.

It was Putin`s retaliation to the Magnitsky Act to ban American families
from adopting Russian children.

And joining me now is MSNBC contributor Naveed Jamali, former FBI double
agent and the author of “How to Catch a Russian Spy.”

So, how surprised were you, my friend Naveed Jamali, to hear Donald Trump
openly admit
what he was talking to Vladimir Putin about was adoptions, which means

NAVEED JAMALI, FRM. FBI DOUBLE AGENT: I mean, the first thing that`s
probably the most disturbing part is that gesture. I don`t know where that
came from or what that means.

REID: The come hither gesture to get himself a meeting.

JAMALI: The second thing is you`re absolutely right. I mean, the act goes
back to what I believe was a dangle that the Russians put in front of Don
Junior, so clearly it`s a narrative that they want to push. The adoptions
are directly – the Russians reciprocated when we signed this law into
effect by suspending adoptions. So, clearly there`s the potential for a
quid pro quo here.

But again, Joy, at the end of the day why are we discussing offering
anything to Russia, whether it`s the compound, whether it`s easing of
sanctions or getting into conversations of adoptions? Look, the Russians
clearly had an involvement in the elections and our president should be
taking a strong line not casually strolling into having pleasantries for 15
minutes and then not disclosing it to the American public.

REID: From the Russian point of view, the American president coming over
and according to Donald Trump just striking up a casual conversation about
adoptions, what does that get Vladimir Putin?

JAMALI: Well, look, even if it was at President Trump said, a casual
conversation, there was nothing of substance discussed although he did…

REID: For an hour.

JAMALI: Right, exactly. Even if there wasn`t anything of substance, that
it really was just light-hearted banter, again this is something – this is
optics, this is basically saying to the Russians you have leverage over me.
I am – you know, the fact that he walked over, that he initiated it, that
is a clear
signal to the Russians that he is interested in starting a dialogue. And
they`re going to pick up on that.

So, at the very least if you`re going to negotiate with the Russians, you
ceded a high ground just by doing that.

REID: And Donald Trump has said that he considered it – and we`ve been
talking about it throughout the show that they had a red line if it was a
red line if Robert Mueller was to go into his finances. Just sort of
explain to us how these lures work when Russian agents want to influence an
American, or make them an agent of influence, how is money used to do that?

JAMALI: Yeah, so there`s these four pillars of recruitment in the spy
world that is often referred to. Money, ideology, coercion, ego . And
essentially those are viewed as the cornerstones of why someone would,
well, commit treason and voluntarily spy for another country. Money can be
used to – look, it`s a great door opener. Someone is – that`s why when
you fill out this SF-86, this simple form 86, one of the things that they
often look for is if you are in severe debt, because that
is viewed as something that a foreign intelligence agency can build on, can
approach you with money.

So, it`s – look money in many cases is the easiest way to recruit someone.
We do it, the Russians do it, and it`s probably the easiest way to recruit
an asset.

REID: And so I guess it`s not surprising that Mueller is following the
money, both Manafort`s, Kushner`s, and et cetera, and Donald Trump.

JAMALI: Absolutely. And, you know, look Joy, the crazy thing about this
the investigation
started with Russia. But what if Bob Mueller discoveries another crime
that has nothing to do with Russia through innocent investigation here,
whether it`s money laundering, whatever it might be, is he going to turn a
blind eye? Absolutely not. He has got a legal obligation to refer that

So it`s very likely that if there other instances of criminality in Trump`s
background or anyone else under investigation, that it`s not necessarily
directly related to Russia, that that may come up. And I think that`s
potentially the likely course. I mean, we`re hearing the Mueller is
expanding it to that, but that`s probably the likely course for, you know,
charges and things like that. I have to say that dealing with espionage
and things with intelligence, it`s so hard to prove these cases if you look
at the history of it, that in many instances what ends up happening is the
federal government just basically keeps, you
know, putting these cases out and eventually they have got to plea bargain.

I think that`s why it`s going to focus on money and things like that.

REID: To quote Ben Whitty (ph), tick, tick, tick. Thank you very much.
Appreciate it.

JAMALI: And coming up, how does the president`s six-month report card
look? Here`s a hint, it doesn`t include any major legislation victory.

Plus, some awkward opposition to Trump`s latest policy push in Thing one,
Thing Two.


HAYES: Thing One tonight certainly one significant take away from a Made
in America week has been plenty of great photo opportunities for the
president. He climbed into a truck parked at the White House and he
examined the lawn mower. He tried on hats in the East Room and inspected
bats in the Blue Room.


TRUMP: It`s beautiful. That`s really nice.

So these are wood?


TRUMP: And you do the aluminums or no?

UNIDNETIFIED MALE: We do make some aluminums as well.

TRUMP: How are they doing? Because I read where there was problems. Too
much, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re doing well.


HAYES: And today, even after he was told it is not a test of manhood, he
passionately tried to crush a glass vile and the vial held strong.

But after days of televised product displays, how well did Made in America
week convince businesses to actually manufacture in the U.S. and hire
Americans? Well, maybe not so much, especially when those businesses are
owned by the Trumps. And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: It`s been well documented that Donald Trump`s companies manufacture
a lot of their
products outside of America. The Daily Beast went into the gift shop at
the Trump Hotel in D.C. to find many of the items were made in China,
Vietnam and Peru.

A wide ranging Washington Post investigation revealed the extent to which
Ivanka Trump`s company relies exclusive on foreign factories in countries
such a Bangladesh, Indonesia and China.

But when pressed this week, the White House would not say if Trump`s
companies would adhere to the Made in America week push.

Meanwhile, we learned today that one of Trump`s most cherished businesses
certainly won`t follow the hire American challenge. In the middle of Made
in America week, Trump`s Mar-a-Lago club applied to hire 70 foreign workers
for the upcoming fall season.


TRUMP: Clearly, it`s time for a new policy, one defined by two simple
rules. We will buy American and we will hire American.



REID: Major milestones today for he famous Americans of the `80s and `90s.
In Nevada, former football star O.J. Simpson was granted parole after
serving nine years on 2008 charges, including armed robbery, the second
most famous criminal trial of his career.


O.J. SIMPSON, FRM. FOOTBALL STAR: I`ve come here and spent nine years
making no excuses about anything. I am sorry that things turned out the
way they did. I had no intent to commit a


REID: Simpson could leave prison as early as October 1. And in a very
different landmark, Donald Trump, who had O.J. Simpson on his guest list at
his wedding to second wife Marla Maples in 1993, celebrated six months in
the White House, well, celebrate is kind of a relative term.

So how has he spent that time? So far the 45th president has no major
legislative accomplishments, many of the 42 or so bills he`s signed were
filler, things like naming buildings, routine spending bills, et cetera.
His vow to repeal and replace Obamacare has stalled to the great relief of
many presidential pleas and even threats not withstanding.

He hasn`t even started on two other major legislative priorities, big tax
cuts and infrastructure, not even during infrastructure week.

He`s reportedly had 54 meetings with foreign leaders with varying degrees
of awkwardness. And here at home he`s visited 16 states, often to
campaign, to hold campaign style rallies and tout the manufacturing jobs
he`s saving that then get outsourced anyway.

Trump has done one thing very consistently, though, he`s spent 40 days at
golf courses. That includes 14 days at his Bedminster Golf Course, and he
spent 25 days at his Mar-a-Lago $200,000 a year membership club in Florida.

Now, that`s not to say that Trump hasn`t made a mark on the government and
the presidency. Just ask any undocumented immigrant or State Department

And he did deliver Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, keeping a major
promise to the religious right.

So, six months down, 42 to go, how do you think it`s going? Don`t go away.


REID: Trump spoke often on the campaign trail about how easy governing
would be. But now six months into his presidency, well his tune is
changing. Here`s Trump talking with reporters at The New York Times about
his faltering effort to reform health care.


TRUMP: I am not in here six months. And they`ll say Trump hasn`t
fulfilled his agenda. You know what I say to myself, wait a minute, I`m
only here a very short period of time. It`s a very narrow path winding
this way. You get – you think you have it, and then you lose four on the
other side because you gave. It is a brutal process. And it was for the
Democrats, in all fairness.


REID: With me now are Jason Johnson, politics editor at The Root and MSNBC
contributor. And Karl Luebsdorf, the former Washington bureau chief for
the Dallas Morning News, who laid out a devastating appraisal of Trump`s
first six months in a Dallas Morning News op-ed earlier this week.

And Mr. Luebsdorf, I`m going with you on this first. Give us your very
quick assessment of
Donald Trump`s first six months in office.

CARL LEUBSDORF, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Well, you know, you mentioned all of
the issues that make it seem that Washington is gridlocked and not much is
going on.

But, in fact, a lot is going on. The agencies are doing a lot of thing.
And to my mind, most of them bad. You have got the Justice Department
reversing itself on voter rights, and the EPA letting people dump sludge
into streams and all sorts of things like that.

REID: And what, of all of those that sort of potpourri of things do you
think is the most alarming?

LEUBSDORF: Well, actually I think the most alarming is the way the
president has demeaned the presidency and is trying to demean government

REID: And, you – you wrote this piece for the Dallas news, do people in
Texas think that? Because there`s a sense when you look at the polls that
there are sort of two worlds that look at Donald Trump from sort of across
the street from each other and have nothing in common and that in the world
of Trump supports, this is all great.

LEUBSDORF: Well, the two worlds in Texas – also our paper, which is
traditionally conservative paper, endorsed Hillary Clinton, the first
Democrat they endorsed since 1936. And the response to my column has
really been interesting. I would have expect to get about a 50/50
response, especially on the response from Texas, and it`s been
overwhelmingly favorable. The emails are running about 10-1, and virtually
everything on Twitter has been positive.

The Trump supporters are – have either stopped reading the Dallas Morning
News or are just holding their breath at this point.

REID: And not watching Shakespeare and all the other things that upset

Jason Johnson, you know, Donald Trump one of the things that he has done
more than any president is use social media in a very unique way. His
tweeting, Mashable talked about how many times Trump has tweet in office
and essentially he`s down to – he`s fired off 1,002 tweets at the time of
writing that article, which is about 5.5 tweets a day. He tweets more than
– he tweets as much as I do, and I tweet a lot. Do you think that that
has, in a sense, sort of made this president sort of an open book in a way
that presidents maybe should be a little more or is it alarming to you?

JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT: Well, you know, Joy, it depends on who you ask.
You know, I would pass up all of this wonderful tweeting by President Trump
if he actually, say opened up press conferences again so we could actually
see his spokesperson communicate.

But if you`re a Trump supporter, then he`s talking to you constantly. If
you`re a Trump critic, it`s not all that beneficial, because we`ve noticed
what he tends to tweet about is not always what`s of the greatest
importance to the country, it`s people he`s angry at, it`s people he wants
to attack personally. It`s certain attacks he wants to complain and attack
about Muslims, but ignore when white supremacists murder people in the
United States, not to mention the fact that his tweets have constantly
driven his lawyers crazy, because he keeps saying things that are going to
make it easier to be investigating him.

You know, is this the future of the presidency? It may be the future of
this one. But most other presidents would choose to speak to the American
people and not just have a one-way conversation on social media.

REID: Well, I wonder about that, because, you know, Carl did mention the
fact that in his view, Trump has undermined the presidency. He sort of
denigrated it. Do you think that Donald Trump has
done that, and has he made a permanent change to the presidency, for better
or worse?

JOHNSON: You know, I don`t think anything is permanent yet. It`s only
been six months. I mean, if I were to grade him, I would say, hey, he`s
got a B+ on the economy, he hasn`t managed to screw things up. I give him
an A in gym. He spends a lot of time on the golf course, you know, a D in
African-American studies, because he clearly didn`t know who Frederick
Douglass was.

I mean, we don`t have a full view of what this presidency will be yet.

But I will say this, if we go into the Fall and some of these governor`s
elections and things like that are happening in this country, and he still
does not have a health care plan, if he has still not figured out how he`s
going to improve infrastructure, if he keeps having these rally weeks, but
no policy to go with them, then we can start saying this is a failed
presidency, because with the amount of power that he has in every branch of
government, there`s no excuse to be as ineffective as Donald Trump has

LEUBSDORF: One thing we should remember, Joy, is that the presidency is
four years. It
takes a long time for things to develop. I`ve been here since 1963 and
I`ve seen Democrats in control, I`ve seen the Republicans in control. I
was here for the Nixon impeachment. It took forever for that to unfold.
So, nothing is permanent.

REID: Yeah, absolutely.

And Jason, one of the other things, of course, that Donald Trump has done
is move the country
much closer to the Putin view of the way that the U.S. foreign policy, et
cetera is to be run, sort of dismantled much of the State Department`s

You know, how does that change strike you? Because a lot of the country
actually doesn`t mind that, doesn`t care about it?

JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, the disturbing thing is that the most recent poll
show that fewer Republicans actually believe the Russians meddled in our
election now than in April. They seem to be rallying around him more.

Look, I think this is the single most problematic thing in this extremely
problematic administration. Anyone who loves the United States of America,
I don`t care if you`re a Republican or Democrat, should be concerned about
a president who does not care about the integrity of elections, should be
concerned about a president who seems fundamentally incapable of
establishing good relationships with foreign leaders, a president who
desperate to be part of the cool kids in the honeycomb hideout with
Vladimir Putin and other dictators and is less concerned with long-term
economic and military allies.

I think that is the long-term damage that has been done by this presidency.
It took George Bush eight years to do something this bad, Donald Trump`s
been doing a terrible job in the first six months.

REID: And, Carl, I guess what we`re waiting to find out is whether red
state voters will eventually care about it.

But we don`t have time – unfortunately we`re out of time. We`ll have to
bring you back to
talk about that. Carl Leubsdorf, Jason Johnson, thank you both very much.
Appreciate you both.

Thank you. And that is all for All In this evening.


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