All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 8/3/17 WSJ: Mueller impanels new Grand Jury in Russia Probe
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: August 3, 2017
Guest: Elizabeth Holtzman, David Jolly, Betsy Woodruff
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: pointing to its mysteries and darkened side
streets. We now know what looms now before us in all its vastness, Russia,
Russia itself. That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. “ALL
IN” with Chris Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Russia is fake
news. Russia - this is fake news put out by the media.
HAYES: A new phase for the Mueller probe.
TRUMP: The entire thing has been a witch hunt.
HAYES: The Special Counsel investigating Trump and the Russians, impanels
a Grand Jury in Washington, D.C.
TRUMP: Believe me, there is no collusion. Russia is fine.
HAYES: Tonight, what we`re learning about where this investigation is
TRUMP: This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.
HAYES: The new bipartisan push to prevent the President from firing Robert
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Any effort to go after Mueller
could be the beginning of the end of the Trump Presidency.
HAYES: And how the President is responding tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, are you considering firing Robert
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. We now have multiple
reports tonight that indicate significant forward movement in Special
Counsel Robert Mueller`s criminal investigation into potential collusion
between Trump campaign and Russia. First to the Wall Street Journal which
reports said Mueller has now impaneled a Grand Jury in Washington, D.C. and
a sign that his inquiry is growing in intensity and entering a new phase.
NBC News has not independently confirmed that report.
Before Mueller took over the investigation in May, federal prosecutors had
been using a grand in Alexandria Virginia which law enforcement officials
told NBC News was focused on two men, Paul Manafort, Trump`s former
Campaign Chairman and Michael Flynn, the President`s former National
Security Adviser, both of whom are key figures in the investigation. The
apparent move to D.C. suggests the probe may well be expanding. Law
Professor Stephen Vladeck characterizing it this way, “a sign there is a
long-term, large scale series of prosecutions being contemplated and being
pursued by the Special Counsel.” And the President`s attorney tonight
responded on FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you have any advance notice this was coming?
JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP LAWYER: No but it`s - this is not a surprise
because the impaneling of a Grand Jury in situations like this when you got
an investigation, this is typically how they move forward. That - it is
really very much the standard operating procedure when you got a situation
like this. But with respect to the impaneling of the grand jury, we have
no reason to believe that the President is under investigation here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: This is just the start of the potential bad news for the President.
CNN reporting tonight that Mueller has seized on Trump and his associates`
financial ties to Russia as one of the most fertile avenues for moving the
probe forward which squares with Tuesday`s Reuters` report that Mueller has
hired Greg Andres who oversaw the fraud unit and management program that
targeted illegal foreign bribery in the Justice Department`s Criminal
Division. CNN also reporting the potentially explosive news that - and I
quote here, investigators turned up intercepted communications appearing to
show efforts by Russian operatives to coordinate with Trump associates on
damaging Hillary Clinton`s election prospects.
Those communications reportedly including specific references to Paul
Manafort. Meanwhile, Vox reporting that former FBI Director James Comey is
far from the only FBI official likely to be questioned as part of Mueller`s
probe with ten or more of the nation`s most senior law enforcement
officials likely to be questioned. What you`re going to have is a
potential for a powerful obstruction case a senior law enforcement official
said, you`re going to have the former FBI Director testify and the Acting
Director, the Chief of Staff to the FBI Director, the FBI`s General
Counsel, and then others one right after the another. This has never been
the word of Trump against Comey. This is more like the Federal Bureau of
Investigation versus Donald Trump. Leaving the White House en route to his
rally in West Virginia tonight, the President did not respond to shouted
questions about whether he planned to fire Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, are you considering firing Robert
Mueller? Will you hold a news conference again? Are you going to fire
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: A short time ago during his campaign style speech to enthusiastic
supporters in West Virginia, the President again denied any ties to Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The Russia story is a total fabrication. It`s just an excuse for
the greatest loss in the history of American politics. That`s all it is.
Most people know, there were no Russians in our campaign. There never
were. We didn`t win because of Russia, we won because of you. That I can
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now on the phone, MSNBC Justice and Security Analyst,
former Justice Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller. Matthew, your
reaction to the news.
MATTHEW MILLER, MSNBC JUSTICE AND SECURITY ANALYST (via telephone): I
think it`s obviously that - it`s obvious that this is a serious
investigation that is expanding and accelerating. I think it`s right.
(INAUDIBLE) that it`s not going to go away soon. And I think what it does
for the White House, it takes what it up to now, been a theoretical
investigation and makes it very real, very personal. It`s one thing to
know that Bob Mueller is conducting this investigation. It`s another thing
to have White House staff subpoenaed to the Grand Jury asked about
conversations they had, asked about things they said in meetings, asked
about things they said in e-mails and put in legal jeopardy if they don`t
tell truth. It makes this investigation much more real and much more
threatening for the President and for everyone around him.
HAYES: Do you anticipate on that score that we`re going to start seeing
folks from the White House, associates to the campaign, sort of being
summoned before the Grand Jury, that we`re going to start getting reports
about who is showing up and why?
MILLER: I think without a doubt, we will. I think the timing is still up
in the air. It just - it seems he`s just convened this Grand Jury.
Usually, what you`ll do is use the Grand Jury first to subpoena documents.
You want have every document available before you start bringing witnesses
in so you can ask them about those documents. We don`t know what he has
already of course. We only know that did - that managed to be reported,
that` managed to leak out. But I think it is inevitable before this
investigation is over, you will see Jared Kushner go to the Grand Jury, you
will see Donald Trump Jr. subpoenaed to the Grand Jury, Paul Manafort, and
a number of people both from the campaign, people that no longer work for
the President and people who are current White House Staffers.
HAYES: There`s a geographic element to this in so far as there was a Grand
Jury that was working out of Alexandria, Virginia, reportedly focused on
Flynn at the beginning, made Flynn and Manafort and has moved to
Washington, D.C. Is there any significance in that move to your - to your
MILLER: I think there is. Part of it is probably convenient for Mueller
and his team were all there. They`re all blocks away from that Court House
as were many of the witnesses. But it`s also I think a key indication to
what he`s looking at. Under federal law, you have to charge crimes in the
venue, the judicial venue in which they occurred and all the obstruction of
justice crimes that would have occurred in this case, of course, happened
after the campaign, they happened once Donald Trump became President. His
conversation with Jim Comey asking him to back off, the Michael Flynn
investigation happened in the White House, his calls to Mike Rogers, his
call to Dan Coats, asking them to intervene with the FBI, and of course,
when he fired Comey. Those are all events that took place in the White
House, in Washington D.C. I think it`s a clear sign that he`s looking at
obstruction of justice, that`s the - and D.C. is the appropriate venue to
look at that and potentially bring charges down the road.
HAYES: What do you think about the possibility of Mueller being terminated
in some way, giving the fact that the President has already expressed his
frustration with it, he`s already fired the FBI Director, he made noises
about getting rid of Jeff Sessions last week, although he seems to have
backed off that and how safe do you think Mueller is?
MILLER: I think we are on - I think the President and Bob Mueller are on a
collision course. I don`t - I don`t - it`s hard to say which will blink
first. Whether Mueller will complete this investigation and wrap it up
with charges or refer to Congress before the President can fire him. But
every time this investigation has gotten closer to the President in the
past, every time it`s escalated, he`s lashed out by trying to intervene to
stop it, at works by firing someone or by publicly trying to undermine the
Justice Department. I think, you know, as - with these reports, and if you
do see his family subpoenaed to come testify, I think Bob Mueller`s job is
potentially in jeopardy and it`s up to people in Congress, Democrats and
especially Republicans to say to the President, that would be a red line
you cannot cross and make it clear now before he crosses it.
HAYES: All right, Mathew Miller, thank you for your time tonight.
MILLER: Thank you.
HAYES: Joining me now, Carrie Cordero, the former Attorney with the
Justice Department`s National Security Division and Nick Akerman, former
U.S. Attorney, and Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor. Carrie, let me
start with you. What does a Grand Jury do in this context?
CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ATTORNEY: Sure. So a Grand Jury
is not like a trial jury. A Grand Jury assists the Prosecutor in actually
conducting the investigation. It`s an investigative body. And what it
does is it enables the prosecutor, in this case, the Special Counsel,
former FBI Director Mueller to bring evidence before the Grand Jury. And
if it got to the point where the facts were developed to be able to bring
an indictment, the Grand Jury would approve the indictment. And so, what
it do is it gives him a venue to be able to - as Matt was just describing,
request documents, subpoena documents and call witnesses who the might be
called to testified under oath to the Grand Jury.
CORDERO: And that`s what`s really significant fact because the fact that
these individuals - it`s very different when people are going in media or
they`re making statements on TV, big difference in being in a closed
session secret proceeding Grand Jury under oath.
HAYES: Nick, you worked on the Watergate Prosecution and there was a Grand
Jury from the beginning of that because there was the burglary but then
there were others as well. What role did they play in that investigation?
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: They play the
role in every one of those investigations. I mean, if we didn`t have the
Grand Jury, we wouldn`t be able to subpoena people, we wouldn`t be able to
subpoena documents. It provided an opportunity to put that investigation
in a context where everything was secret, that - it`s not like a Senate
Committee where people are testifying out in public. It`s all done in
secret. It doesn`t mean that the person who is a witness can`t go and tell
everybody else what they`re saying but they don`t really know. And so -
HAYES: Why is that important?
AKERMAN: It`s important for two reasons. One is to protect innocent
people, is to protect people so they`re not smeared with allegations of
wrong doing when there`s no finding of probable cause which is what a Grand
Jury does. And it`s also important to protect the integrity of an
investigation. You want to be able to go ahead and investigate without
people knowing what everybody else is saying so that they can put their
stories together. I mean, you`ve seen Donald Trump put the stories of his
son-in-law and his son together in a very surgical way. Now, the Grand
Jury is going to break through that story because they`re going to be able
to subpoena other evidence, other computers, other e-mails.
They`re going to be able to follow the e-mails string, the documents that
were supposedly brought to for the Trump campaign by Rob Goldstone.
They`re going to be able to follow rubles going way back to when Donald
Trump was first doing the Miss Universe contest. All of these things are
going to come together and all of these dots that are out there to be
connected is what they`re going to be able to do in private so that the
public isn`t going to see this but it gives the prosecutor the ability to
dig into this without people being able to get their stories together and
being able to come up with a story that makes sense, that obstructs the
HAYES: Right. Carrie, the documents, and the records here, there`s a
reporting CBS News that investigators want phone records related to Trump
Jr. in the Russia meeting we had identified on this - on this program and
some others have also identified that fact that if you read that e-mail
chain, it does appear that Emin Agalarov and Donald Jr. had a phone call to
broker meeting. I mean, that does seem to me a lot of - that e-mail, as
the tip of the iceberg, indicates, there are - seems to be a lot of records
out there that would be very helpful to investigators if they can get their
hands on them.
CORDERO: Sure. And in some ways, I mean, this is a standard criminal
prosecution. And federal investigators and prosecutors have a lot of tools
at their disposal under the federal statutes to be able to request
documents concerning communications records, other types of records, text
messages, e-mails, phone logs, all sort of things like that, records that
might exist and the prosecutors will be able to request that. The other
issue is with respect to people being able to testify secretly into the
It`s an important point because we saw earlier this summer when individuals
- current government officials were testifying before Congress, we could
see particularly with DNI Coats and maybe Admiral Rogers, that they had
discomfort describing communications that they had with the President about
whether he asked them to try to shut down the investigation or try to you
know, say something publicly that would undercut the investigation. And so
if current government officials are called before the Grand Jury to be - to
testify with respect to any potential obstruction charge, they will be
under oath and it won`t be in a public setting. And so they will answer
truthfully in that particular setting.
HAYES: Obstruction, which Carrie mentioned were - and the Vox reporting
indicates it`s - in some ways it seems that that case is almost further
along because it all happened so quickly and so publicly.
AKERMAN: And Trump has admitted most of it.
HAYES: Essentially, yes, right. I mean, it`s sort of a question - it`s
not even a question about the facts at this point so much we would seem
fairly established but the interpretation thereof and whether it`s
something you could even bring charges against a President for.
AKERMAN: Of course you could. I mean, Trump has already given us the
interpretation of the facts. He`s admitted to the Russian Ambassador that
the reason he fired Comey was to get rid of Russia investigation. He
admitted to Lester Holt on national TV. I have never seen anybody in a
criminal investigation make such wide ranging admissions on intent. I
mean, the whole issue in obstruction of justice is whether or not the
perpetrator had the corrupt intent. Did he intend to stop the
investigation? He`s admitted in it spades.
HAYES: Well, then the question becomes, Carrie, I mean, this really deep
sort of constitutional question. And we`ve seen people wrestling with it.
There was a memo that was commissioned back when Ken Starr under the
Independent Counsel Statute was pursuing President Clinton at that time
about whether there`s a sort of judicial remedy for presidential wrongdoing
through regular courts like an indictment. Would that be something this
Grand Jury would or would not do? Do we know?
CORDERO: Well, the question would be whether the prosecutors thought that
they could bring that type of evidence before the Grand Jury. It does seem
that Special Counsel has brought on some people who have expertise. People
who used to work in the office of legal counsel for example who might be in
a position to analyze that issue for him and help him determine whether or
not those are appropriate matters to bring before the Grand Jury. I do
think that the - if the reporting is correct, that the Grand Jury is here
in Washington, D.C., I do think the location is relevant because the Grand
Jury is supposed to be impaneled in a location where the offense likely
took place. And so that does speak to, what are the particular issues or
offense that`s took place here in Washington that would justify bringing
the Grand Jury together here. It wouldn`t just be a matter of convenience
for the Prosecutors in the office of the Special Counsel.
HAYES: All right, Carrie Cordero and Nick Akerman, thank you both for
AKERMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: Next, as the investigation continues to accelerate, a new priority
emerging protecting Robert Mueller, the conservative bipartisan effort to
preventing the President from firing the Special Counsel after this two-
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The Russia story is a total fabrication. It`s just an excuse for
the greatest loss in the history of American politics. Democrat Lawmakers
will have to decide. They can continue their opposition with the Russian
hopes or they can serve the interests of the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: This President moments ago calling the Russian investigation led by
Special Counsel Robert Mueller a hoax. There are now two bipartisan
efforts to protect the Special Counsel from any action by President Trump
or his subordinates to fire him. A new Senate bill cosponsored by
Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Democratic Senator Chris
Coons of Delaware which would be retroactive to Mueller`s appointment,
would give the Special Counsel the ability to challenge in court their
termination. A three-judge panel would be impaneled to determined good
cause for the firing. Otherwise, the Special Counsel would be reinstated.
The bill`s co-sponsor Senator Tillis stressed the need for true
independence in all the key Justice Department decisions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. THOM TILLIS (R) NORTH CAROLINA: So this is an opportunity to show to
the American people we`re serious about independence, we`re serious about
being held to a higher standard, and the Department of Justice is unique
among cabinet positions because on the one hand, the President nominates
the FBI Director or the A.G. but just after they`re confirmed, I want them
to be very independent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: This arrives just a week after another bipartisan effort to protect
the independence of the Special Counsel one co-sponsored by Senators
Lindsey Graham and Corey Booker that would block the President from firing
the Special Counsel without any judge`s approval when that Special Counsel
is investigating the President as is now the case. Congressman Adam Schiff
of House Intel Committee tweeting, “If true that Mueller has impaneled a
Grand Jury suggests his work is proceeding, all the more important that
Congress protect his independence. Joining me now is Senator Richard
Blumenthal of Connecticut, a Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. How
concerned are you about the President attempting to fire Robert Mueller as
the investigation takes off?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D) CONNECTICUT: I`m very deeply concerned because
the ominous threats that the President has made about firing Jeff Sessions
as a means to fire Bob Mueller and his direct threats about calling Mueller
calling the investigation a hoax and a witch hunt, attacking the integrity
and credibility of the team, an excellent team of 16 prosecutors that Bob
Mueller has assembled and that`s why I have joined with Lindsey Graham as a
co-sponsor of that measure that would provide judicial review and stop that
firing if it is done without good cause.
And I am also heartened by the empanelment of a Grand Jury because
remember, Chris, that a Grand Jury is an arm of the court. It`s not the
just a tool of the prosecutor, it actually has a legal status under the
court`s authority. And so a threat against Bob Mueller is less weighty
because the Grand Jury has a degree of permanency and protection that Bob
Mueller alone might not have. But this legislation is very important also
because it indicates the level of outrage and opposition that would follow
any attempt by Donald Trump to fire Bob Mueller.
HAYES: Something significant happened today. The Senate went into the a
five-week recess if I`m not mistaken but Senator Lisa Murkowski locked in
what is essentially what is called a pro forma session which is to
essentially make sure that there is - for constitutional purposes, not a
recess that the President could recess appoint someone, meaning that were
the President to say fire Jeff Sessions, he wouldn`t be able to put a
recess appointment and how significant and important is that step?
BLUMENTHAL: What`s really significant is not only that step but I think
the very strong determination that there be no recess appointment in the
Attorney General position. And I think again, the firestorm and potential
constitutional crisis that would greet this step by Donald Trump is
reflected in that in step by Lisa Murkowski, Senator from Alaska. So I
think it`s important but what`s even more important is the sense, it`s a
clear sense, and it is tangible that there is going to be strong opposition
both sides of the aisle to this kind of abusive use of power.
And obviously, to go back to your first question, the threat is even more
ominous because clearly, the Special Counsel is following the money. He`s
going after financial dealing, those financial dealings are extremely
relevant because the Russian play book is to enlist or engage foreign
officials and create monetary incentives for them to cooperate. That is
exactly what may have happened here, Bob Mueller knows it, he`s going to
follow the money.
HAYES: Yes, there is reporting about those money trails and there`s also
been some significant pushback from the White House on that. The President
in an interview with the New York Times saying that a pursuit of financial
deals prior to his campaign would be out of bounds, it would violate
essentially the portfolio of the Special Counsel. Jay Sekulow sort of
repeating that same notion that he would object and the lawyers for the
President would object to following the trail of say, real estate deals
that happened six or seven years ago. What`s your response to that?
BLUMENTHAL: They have no legal power and no moral case to try to constrain
a Grand Jury. The Grand Jury has an authority that is part of the rule of
law. By the way, as a prosecutor, as the United States Attorney for
Connecticut for four and a half years, I`ve seen Grand Juries often develop
their own questions and want to know about financial transactions. They
are composed of ordinary citizens who often have very good questions. And
the other reason I think this Grand Jury is going to be important to the
Special Counsel is that we are dealing here with a potential indictment of
the highest ranking official in the United States of America.
So Bob Mueller is wanting - going to want to know how the average citizen
reacts to this evidence. It`s going to be a very good sign for him of what
a jury, a regular jury at trial might react to. We`re a bit ahead of
ourselves. There`s no conclusive proof of any crime here but very
importantly, that Grand Jury can ask its own questions so for the President
or any part of his staff to say, they`re going to draw lines is completely
HAYES: So simply, I want you to just clarify. When you say we`re dealing
with the potential of indictment of the highest ranking official in the
U.S., you mean you believe it is a possibility that - for an indictment of
the President of the United States?
BLUMENTHAL: It is certainly a possibility. There`s a lot of authority
that there cannot be an indictment of the President. When I say authority,
there`s no real legal case law but they`re pretty good legal arguments
against it. Still, if he is out of office, there could be indictments and
there could be indictments of lower level officials and members of his
HAYES: All right, Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
HAYES: Ahead, President Trump blasts Congress the day after he signed the
new sanctions bill, blaming America Lawmakers for strained relations with
Russia. Some heated reactions from the Hill next.
HAYES: Hours before the breaking developments in the investigation of
potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, the day began
with a statement from President Trump about Russia. The President of the
United States once again went out of his way to publicly side with Russia
over American institutions. President Trump who yesterday released both
assigning statement and a press statement criticizing the veto proof
bipartisan package of sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea, took to
Twitter today to again complain about the thing he had just signed and to
go one step further in his criticism, “Our relationship with Russia is at
an all-time and very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same
people that can`t even give us Hcare.”
Pushback from Republicans particular in congress was swift. Senator John
McCain tweeting, “Our relationship with Russia is at a dangerous low. You
can thank Putin for attacking our democracy and invading neighbors and
threatening our allies.” Senator Richard Shelby, Republican from Alabama
telling Talking Points Memo, “I think our strained relationship with Russia
started in 1917, didn`t it? With the Communist Revolution? It`s ebbed and
flowed since, but don`t see hot it`s Congress` fault. And Senator Tim
Scott, Republican of South Carolina saying, “I think he signed it, didn`t
he? The bottom line is that Russia is to blame for the relations with
Russia deteriorating. But It was South Carolina`s other Republican Senator
Lindsey Graham who asked the question, I think any fair minded person is
forced to ask when it comes to President Trump and his behavior with regard
to Russia. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: The bottom line is that our
relationship with Russia is defined by Russian aggression against us and
our allies. And this suggests otherwise means that you`re disconnected
from the threat Russia presents.
And President Trump`s problem with Russia is most Americans are scratching
their head, why does he see Russia so differently than the congress?
You know, Putin has done something no American politician could ever hope
to do, unite the congress. Why does President Trump have a different view
of Russia? And that is going to keep people asking questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina edging closer to a
question many in his party might want an answer to.
Joining me now, former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman who served on House
Judiciary Committee during the Watergate scandal; and MSNBC analyst Josh
Earnest, former White House press secretary.
Josh, I want you to talk about the closest analog that President Obama
faced in his term, which was the Iran deal. And the Iran deal was with a
nation the U.S. doesn`t have diplomatic relations with or a nation that has
taken actions contrary to U.S interests, and a huge opposition in congress
to a lot of parts of it.
And the way that it struck me as interesting to compare the way President
Obama talked about that deal and the relationship with Iran, and the way
this president talks about Russia. What do you think?
JOSH EARNEST, MSNBC ANALYST: Chris, I think it is an entirely relevant
metaphor – or connection to draw here, primarily because much of our
discussions with congress as we are trying to bring Iran to the negotiating
table and as we were trying to complete our negotiations with Iran were
about what role congress was going to have in lifting sanctions.
So it is not unique for there to be a dispute between the executive branch
and the legislative branch about how most effectively to implement
sanctions and when to relieve them.
And there`s always a sense in the executive branch that congress may be
back seat driving when it comes to foreign policy.
In this case, while we may have had our differences with Democrats – with
Republicans and even some Democrats when it came to executing the Iran
deal, there is one who doubted in a very
fundamental way, President Obama`s commitment to pursuing America`s
When it comes to Trump`s dealings with Russia, there is a concern that he
frankly may have
conflict of interest.
HAYES: Yeah, the statement of the president this morning was sort of –
again, the thing at the core of this is if he were to acknowledge the fact,
or he would to accept the findings of the intelligence community and other
people that Russia did this fairly brazen thing, then you can have a
that sort of started with this saying yes, they did this, but we need to
work with them on these different things and we can`t – but to blame the
U.S. congress for relations with Russia is a pretty remarkable thing for
the U.S. president to say given what Russia did during the election.
ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Right, given what Russia did and
given his reaction to it, as you pointed out. I mean, Russia interfered
with our democracy, wanted to interfere. We don`t really even at this
point know the full extent of that.
And for us – for the president not to acknowledge that and not to say, OK,
happened here. We`re going to stop it from happening again. We`re going
to find out how it really worked. And we`re going to create mechanisms to
assure the safety of our election process. He`s done none of those things.
Instead, he says it`s a hoax, it`s a witch hunt, it`s nonsense, fake news,
and by the way, congress, you`re responsible if the Russians don`t like us
or we`re in bad odor with them, or whatever it is. It`s you`re fault.
I mean, he has to acknowledge the reality of what happened. He has to
accept the findings of
our intelligence agencies. They are unanimous in this. Nobody has
disputed it. And he has to come up with a solution to protect our
democracy. He`s walked away from all of those issues.
So, the question is why?
I mean, let me follow up on this. And I`ll come back to you in a second,
Josh, but you were there for Watergate. And one of the things that happens
in Watergate is the investigation starts going in all sorts of different
directions. At the end of it, we have this picture of the Nixon White
House, which is remarkable, and it shows all sorts of wrongdoing in a
million different directions.
I mean, there`s violation of what little campaign finance law there was.
There`s essentially you know slush funds being paid. There`s break-ins, et
HOLTZMAN: Illegal wiretaps.
HAYES: Yeah, how did you – I mean, I guess my question is, what is your
feeling about the belief on the part of the president and others that this
is a witch hunt and it is just going to sprawl out
endlessly and there`s something unfair about that?
HOLTZMAN: Well, I think he is completely wrong. He`s – I mean, you have
to ask yourself, why is this president fighting the reality so hard? We
understand he`s worried about people not believing he was validly elected,
of course he was validly elected as far as we know at this point. But the
fact of the matter is we have to protect the U.S. and he`s not ready to go
HAYES: Josh, I thought it was very interest the president tonight goes to
West Virginia. It`s a state that he has the highest approval rating, a
state he won by 42 points. It`s a state I would assume that should he
stand for reelection in 2020, he will win once again. And he did something
I wasn`t expecting. The last time there was big news about Mueller and the
investigation he was doing a rally, which I believe was in Ohio, in
Youngstown a week or two ago, he basically ignored it.
Tonight, went right at, went right at it saying this is a distraction.
Democrats are selling this
because they don`t have a message. What do you make of him changing his
tactic about how he`s speaking about this?
EARNEST: He is clearly in a position where he`s feeling much more on the
defensive than he was even before. And, you know, there is a palpable
sense, I think, that the sound bite that you pulled
from Senator Graham is a pretty good indication that it is not just
Democrats, this is no longer a situation in which it is partisans who are
disputing Trump`s handling of the Russia situation. There are Republicans
on Capitol Hill and other places that are genuinely concerned, not all of
them, unfortunately, but some are.
And Chris, it`s troubling because we want to be in a position where we can
count on the person
who is entrusted with representing the United States at the negotiating
table, to have our best interests at heart. We want to count on that
person who is making those fateful decisions to not be conflicted by
something that they have yet to disclose.
And it is a troubling thing. Even sort of setting aside my own preference
in the outcome of the
previous presidential election, it is troubling that we can`t put faith in
the president of the United States to make sure that he is looking out for
our interests when it comes to interacting with our adversaries.
HAYES: Finally to you, do you see real signs of congress sort of moving to
sort of reassert itself in a sort of constitutional sense as co-equal to
HOLTZMAN: Yes. They haven`t gotten there yet. And it make take them some
time, and that`s OK, because we`re talking about really how to control the
president and how to reassert power, so better to do it in a careful,
But I think congress is very disturbed at his failure to recognize the
reality of the Russian interference, for his failure to protect us against
that, of his attacks on legitimate investigations. This is completely
wrong for a president and it could be even seen – his attacks on Mueller
could be seen as possible obstruction of justice, a crime itself.
It`s an abuse of power for a president to do that. Let the investigation
HAYES: Elizabeth Holtzman and Josh Earnest, thank you both.
HOLTZMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: Still to come, the president`s secret service moves out of their
base in Trump Tower
because of a lease dispute with the president`s company. An amazing report
from the Washington Post ahead.
And baptized by the presient, a political conversion in Thing One, Thing
HAYES: Thing One tonight, ahead of the president`s trip to West Virginia
this evening, the West Virginia Republican Party sent out a tweet mocking
the state`s Democratic Governor Jim Justice, quote, “low energy West
Virginia governor refuses to stop millions of dollars in contracts to
companies who cheated West Virginia taxpayers. Sad!”
Very Trumpian tweet, but President Trump himself expressed a very different
view of the so-called low energy governor tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I would like to invite my good friend and your governor, Jim
Justice, up to the stage to share this news with all of you.
Jim, come on up. Come on up, Jim. Look at this guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Why was the West Virginia Republican Party mocking the president`s
good friend? That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Democratic West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has a few things in
common with Donald Trump: both men are billionaires. In fact, Justice is
reportedly West Virginia`s only billionaire, richest guy in the state. And
after tonight, both men will be members of the same political party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JIM JUSTICE, (R) WEST VIRGINIA: Today, I tell you as West Virginians,
I can`t help you anymore being a Democrat governor. So tomorrow, I will be
changing my registration to Republican.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That came just hours after the West Virginia Republican Party
attacked Governor Justice, calling him low energy and sad. The executive
director of the West Virginia Republican Party explained in a statement
later this afternoon, Jim Justice`s past differences with our party and our
party`s platform came while he was a Democrat.
So if you`re following along, the state Republican Party eagerly mocked him
a few hours ago, but now they have a friend in Jim.
(BEIGN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Having Big Jim as Republican is such an honor. I will tell you.
Such an honor. Fantastic man, a fantastic guy. And thank you, Jim, very
All over the nation, they`re watching. And they really appreciate that.
HAYES: Another story breaking tonight, Te Washington Post reporting the
Secret Service is out
of its Trump Tower command post because apparently they can`t afford it.
Noting that, quote, in early July, The Post was relocated to a trailer on
the sidewalk more than 50 floors below.
A Trump organization spokeswoman told the paper, it would be, quote, more
cost effective and
logistically practical for the Secret Service to find space elsewhere.
The Post reported that, quote, two people familiar with the discussions
said the sticking points included were the price and other conditions of
Basically the Secret Service charged with protecting the safety of the
president and his family have to work from a trailer on the sidewalk
because President Trump`s business apparently wants to squeeze more money
from the service.
The story is just the latest example of agencies and individuals around
Donald Trump struggling to deal with the chaos and uncertainty that`s
becoming something of his hallmark, all of which, of course, comes on top
of the steady string of news about investigations into Russian interference
in the 2016 election and potential collusion by the Trump campaign. Like
the Grand Jury Robert Mueller has now impaneled.
All those revelations only make it that much harder for congress to focus
on its actual legislating. How congress deals with the president`s once
they return from the August recess, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JACK REED, (D) RHODE ISLAND: Has the confidence of many, many people
here on both sides of the aisle. And again, on behalf of the American
people, we have to get answers. And we have to get answers that will be
accepted. They won`t be dismissed as partisan. They won`t be dismissed as
being just convenient, they have to be conclusive. And I think Bob Mueller
can do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island reacting to the
breaking news reported by the Wall Street Journal that Special Counsel
Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington, D.C. to
investigate potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russian
interference in the 2016 election.
NBC News has not independently confirmed that report, but if true, it would
federal probe may be accelerating into a crucial new phase.
Now that story broke just as the Senate was wrapping up its business before
the August recess. Tonight, many lawmakers are headed home for the five-
week vacation where they may face new questions from constituents about the
advancing Russia probe as well as other items.
I`m joined now by Betsy Woodruff, political reporter for The Daily Beast;
Congressman David Jolly of Florida.
Betsy, what do you think – how do you characterize the mood on Capitol
Hill as theyhead into this August recess?
BETSY WOODRUFF, THE DAILY BEAST: I think there`s a sense of resignation.
The reality is lawmakers have been dealing with Russia questions for quite
some time now and my understanding is that these questions are only going
to get more acute.
The strange thing is that the president being part of an investigation
that`s currently being run by a former FBI director is actually the new
normal., that`s the world that we live in.
I spoke with some federal prosecutors earlier in the evening – former
federal prosecutors, who said they expect it to take Mueller several more
months to get this probe wrapped up. They expect it to be potentially a
month or two at least before he indicts anyone, which means the Russia
questions are not going to go away when recess is over, and the lawmakers
have to make peace with that.
HAYES: Yeah, what do you think, David, about – you know, you`re going
back for August recess, it`s seven months and there`s no big legislative
accomplishment to show for it other than the sanctions bill passed over the
objections of the president?
DAVID JOLLY, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: Sure, look, it`s an
embarrassing time to be a Republican having to defend your record.
But there are a couple of things that occurred. Listen, when the Senate
left today, on their way out the door they handcuffed the president of the
United States through some procedural moves to make sure the president
could not make recess appointments while they`re gone.
And the reason that`s significant is because Senators know what the
American people are feeling today. Today was a marker in history. Rarely
do you see it in the administration the subject of a
grand jury investigation.
And while it is not a jury, a trial jury, it is one that can ultimately
issue an indictment. And it is a forum in which we could see this
president or people in his administration commit perjury, it`s a forum in
which we could see the president`s taxes unveiled, and frankly, it`s a form
for history. This is not a light matter that occurred today. Senators
know that, and they will cast a cloud over the month of
September where they have critical decisions to make.
HAYES: Betsy, I`m going to ask you a little bit to play mind reader, but I
know that you talk to a lot of people on Capitol Hill. You have good
sources. So, I wonder what the thinking of the Republicans on Capitol Hill
is about their own judgment about what might come out? You`ve got to
imagine that that has shifted and changed and grown as they`ve watched the
evidence like other people watching this, or people reporting it out, and I
would imagine that also effects how they think about what they`re going to
have to do or not do vis-a-vis the president.
WOODRUFF: Right, I think that`s a fair assessment to make over the course
of the last 12 months, 18 months even. A lot of Republicans are having
second thoughts about all sorts of conclusions that they`ve come to when it
comes to politics.
I think one of the things that`s most important here is that over the
course of the campaign, talking to Republican operatives, members one thing
they would constantly bring up as an argument for
Donald Trump was look at his kids, look at his family. He raised a good
The fact that Don Jr. is now at the center of this Russia investigation is
something that just kind of undermines that entire argument.
HAYES: That`s interesting.
WOODRUFF: That case to be made for him, right.
And if there`s one thing we know about grand juries it`s that they bring
out the dumbest sides of people. We know this grand jury is likely to
have a lot of serious questions about the meeting that Don Jr. had with
some Russian operatives over the summer of 2016 and the fact that the
president`s son has now become a key part of this only raises I think
broader concerns about what it means to be a Trump.
HAYES: David, do you imagine that Republican lawmakers are going to be
fielding questions about this? There`s a sort of…
JOLLY: Of course.
HAYES: The story I keep seeing that no one cares about the Russia
investigation, which I don`t
think is true; although I also do think that people probably care more
about things they feel directly affect them from a day-to-day basis,
whether that`s health care or jobs. What would you anticipating if you
were going back to your district right now?
JOLLY: So, look, there is some polling evidence that suggests Russia is
not the most important issue to the American public, but what is is trust
and the ability to know that the president is being an honest broker.
Chris, you hit on a brilliant point with your last question, and it`s this:
United States Senators, Republican Senators tonight, do not do not see the
president of the United States as a trusted partner. They might articulate
similar policy perspectives, Republican, conservative policy perspectives,
but that is now coincidence, not coordination, with this president.
They cannot trust this president as an honest broker. First, because he`s
shown he`s willing to throw them under the bus, but second, they don`t know
the next shoe to drop. So they might talk about similar policy agendas and
policy goals, but it is not in coordination with this president, nor will
it be going forward when they get back in September.
HAYES: Well, that`s a point and it raises something I`ve noticed, Betsy,
which is a difference between how the Senate and the House are behaving.
The Senate has been – I think Senate Republicans have been more
independent. They`ve sort of separated themselves more from the president
I thought very notable that someone like Tom Tillis, who doesn`t have some
reputation for being some party bucking maverick, would be someone to
introduce this legislation that the Senate majority leadership is going to
keep a pro forma session.
We haven`t seen the same thing in the House. What do you make of that,
WOODRUFF: I think part of the reason for that is just the difference in
the nature of the two chambers of congress. In the Senate, the Senators
have a much stronger sense of their power. Each individual Senator has a
lot more influence, has a lot more clout, has much more leverage to sort of
gum up the workings of Washington than the members of House do.
And, of course, House members are constantly freaking out about their
reelections. You ask any House member what they`ve been doing earlier in
the day, there`s a very good chance they`ve been on the phone fundraising.
And that just affects the way that you think about law making and that you
think about the White House.
Senators just have more breathing room. They have stronger senses of self,
if you will. Plenty of them aren`t running for reelection and that makes
it easier for them to buck their parties when they feel like they need to.
HAYES: That scan to you, David?
JOLLY: Chris, Betsy is right, it is power, it is independence, but
fundamentally it`s courage. We`re seeing courage among Republican
senators. We have not seen courage among Republican House
members. That`s just the reality we`re living in right now.
HAYES: Yeah. And Paul Ryan I think at some poine, he sort of has a date
with destiny because he has almost more than anyone else, high profile sort
of managed to kind of deflect and evade and – I don`t want to talk about
JOLLY: He`s dancing with the devil. He`s dancing with the devil. And he
knows it. And he made that decision to do so.
HAYES: He sure does.
Betsy Woodruff and David Jolly, thank you both.
WOODRUFF: Sure thing.
HAYES: That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts
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