All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 8/8/17 “Fire & Fury”
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: August 8, 2017
Guest: STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: That is 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: North Korea best
not make any more threats to the United States.
HAYES: An unprecedented threat from the President.
TRUMP: They`ll be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.
HAYES: Tonight President Trump`s rhetorical escalation, following reports
that North Korea now has its own nuclear warheads and how a White House
rife with infighting will respond to a nuclear threat. Then -
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Rosenstein should be ashamed of
HAYES: Congressman Eric Swalwell on the ongoing efforts to upend the
Muller investigation. Dan Rather on the latest leak from a government
trying to protect a country form its president. And why this man may be on
the verge of winning a Senate seat in Trump`s America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This country was not founded on Mohammed.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Today, our President
speaking from the golf course he owns in New Jersey, appeared to threaten
nuclear war with the country of North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States.
They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has
been very threatening beyond a normal state and as I said, they will be met
with fire, fury and frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Taken literally, that would be an extraordinary red line to draw,
promising nuclear retaliation for mere threats against the U.S. North
Korea is already ignoring the President`s warning announcing it`s
considering a plan to strike the American territory of Guam. The
President`s remarks today came after a news broke that U.S. intelligence
now believes North Korea has successfully produced a nuclear warhead small
enough to fit on a ballistic missile, a key milestone on the path to
becoming a full pledged nuclear power. According to the Washington Post,
which broke - first broke the story, many analysts believed it would be
years before North Korea could construct that particular type warhead, a
goal they now appear at least according to intelligence to have reached
ahead of schedule. North Korea has conducted a dozen missile tests so far
Last month, launching two the intercontinental ballistic missiles, or
ICBMs, that could potentially have been capable of reaching the U.S. In
response, United States passed a new package of sanctions on North Korea
which the President signed last week. It`s successfully pushed another
round of international sanctions through the U.N. Security Council earning
votes even from Russia and China. The North Korean government blasted
those efforts in a statement, “The U.S. is acting absurd by resorting to
the anachronistic sanctions and pressure campaign against the DPRK - the
Democratic Republic of Korea, the country`s official name - instead of
appreciating the strategic status of DPRK and paying proper attention to
its repeated warnings. The unwise conduct of the U.S. will only speed up
its own extinction. I`m joined now by Senator Ed Markey, Democrat from
Massachusetts, Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator,
your reaction to the President`s statement earlier today?
SEN. ED MARKEY (D-MA), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: The President has to
tone it down. We`re dealing with a very dangerous situation. The North
Koreans already have nuclear weapons, we have nuclear weapons. When he is
talking about unleashing a fury, unleashing a power that has never been
seen before, well, that brings us back to August of 1945. When nuclear
weapons were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and if he intends on
exceeding that level of power, then I`m afraid that we could see a
confrontation here that slips quickly out of control as the President
continues to talk about a military option which would never be successful.
Instead of urgent diplomacy, which he`s been avoiding for six months, and
which absolutely has to be engaged in right now and immediately in order to
de-escalate this confrontation.
HAYES: What do you say to this who say that the six-party talks in the
latter years of the Bush administration, didn`t significantly arrest or at
least stop the development of these weapons, that the Obama administration
posture strategic patience didn`t stop it either? So, this kind of
escalation, or at least rhetorically might have some effect where others
MARKEY: Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and I have introduced bipartisan
legislation which would tighten the sanctions on North Korea to an extent
that a do not do business sign would be on their country`s back. We need
to do that. Pass even tougher sanctions and go to the table at the same
time saying to China, and Russia that if you do business with North Korea,
if you do help their economy at all, then we`re going to sanction you as
well because this is an existential threat to the United States and we want
to find a diplomatic resolution of it and not a military resolution of it
and we need to tighten the economic sanctions in order to get North Korea
to respond in a way that it has not done so yet.
HAYES: Is it your understanding that the President`s message today was
sort of vetted and developed as an intentional signal or do you interpret
it as essentially improvised?
MARKEY: I hope that there is a plan behind it but you can never tell with
a man who tweets incessantly and thoughtlessly. But nonetheless, the
response from North Korea is not one which seems to indicate that they`re
afraid. And that I think what our greatest concern should be because that
is what was happening during Cuban missile crisis in 1962. It was just
slipping slowly but surely out of control until both sides he began to
talk. That is how that issue got resolved. Talking is not weakness,
talking is strength. And the President must come to realize that because a
military option is not something that can be used because would it lead to
hundreds of thousands or millions of deaths.
HAYES: A lot of people are trying to assess where we are right now. If
ten is actual nuclear war and the Cuban missile crisis was say nine, which
was probably about as close as the world came off some other close calls,
where do you think we are right now?
MARKEY: I think we`re inside of the modern day Cuban missile crisis. I
HAYES: You think that right now?
MARKEY: We have a country with nuclear weapons that can be aimed at our
29,000 troops in the demilitarized zone. It can be aimed at 25 million
South Koreans with a 30-mile radius of the demilitarized zone, absolutely.
If this is not handled properly and it escalates out of control, we can
cross a trip wire that we can`t even see right now and begin an engagement
that turns military and then escalates out of control very quickly.
HAYES: All right, Senator Ed Markey, thanks for your time.
MARKEY: Thank you. You`re welcome.
HAYES: Joining me now is Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff
to then Secretary of State Colin Powell. And of course, when you served in
that capacity, North Korea was an issue then. It was labeled as part of
axis of evil quite famously by George W. Bush. Do you agree with the
Senator in how he compared this to a modern Cuban missile crisis?
LAWRENCE WILKERSON, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN
POWELL: I think we need to calm this down a little bit Chris. This is not
an existential crisis. It`s not something that we can`t handle, that the
North Koreans in fact, and the South Koreans, our allies on the Peninsula,
can`t handle. But we do need to get away from this kind of grandiose
rhetoric that Donald Trump used today. This is like Donald Trump looking
in the mirror in the morning and seeing Kim Jong-un and Kim Jong-un looking
to the mirror and seeing Donald Trump. And the problem there is one of
them is the dictator of a basket case country in Northeast Asia and the
other is the President of the most powerful country in the world. In other
words, this is not the way to conduct U.S. Foreign Security Policy.
HAYES: You know, you said that at Noah Rothman (INAUDIBLE) at the
conservative commentary magazine said no joke, I read Trump`s statement on
North Korea and thought it was a North Korean statement on Trump.
HAYES: The rhetoric seems to be (INAUDIBLE) back. Let`s talk about the
North Korean regime. You mentioned something interesting there that sort
of putting some onus on them or at least projecting their actions. There
is a caricature of the regime as essentially run by a madman and
fundamentally irrational. Do you think that`s an accurate
WILKERSON: Absolutely not. It hasn`t been true for any of the Kim
Dynasty, Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il or Kim Jong-un. They`re very rational
people. Their singular objective in this world is to maintain themselves
in power. To keep drinking their Hennesseys, they`re (INAUDIBLE) and
continue to be the only power that matters in North Korea. That is a
reality. And that`s why it`s not existential because they know if they
were to attack the south in any blatant way, or anyone else of our allies
in the region, they would disappear from the earth. It would be fire and
No American President could escape that. We had this same crisis in 1994.
I was on the Peninsula in 1994. I was there with the Commander in Korea.
I was there with Bill Perry when he was over there. Clinton`s middle
Secretary of Defense. We negotiated and it led to the agreed framework and
we froze their most dangerous nuclear program at the time, the reprocessing
plant at Yongbyon. That`s what we need to do again. We need to talk and
we need to be able as Bill Perry has appointed out, and willing to offer
something. Like the exercises in August. We can offer that we would
cancel those exercises or postpone them in exchange for a cancellation of
ballistic missile testing or nuclear testing or both. This is the way we
need to deal with this. Both sides need to calm down and we need to talk.
HAYES: You know, it`s interesting you say that about negotiations, success
in the negotiation because I feel the images projected often is that
everything has failed, every approach, that you can`t get anywhere
negotiating with North Korea. It sounds like you`re saying you don`t
believe that`s true.
WILKERSON: I don`t believe it at all and my whole life has been since 1953
when I was about 9 years old, has been proof of that because we haven`t had
a war on the Peninsula. We had a peace treaty in `53 and - not a peace
treaty but we had a cease fire in `53 and an armistice and we had the DMZ
ever since. And now we have a situation once again that looks like it
might - could bring war back. The way we`ve solved that in the past is by
talking. People say we can`t talk with a criminal regime. Those are the
regimes you need to talk to. John Kennedy said it best. You should never
negotiate out of fear but you should never fear to negotiate. Tillerson
has said that more or less, as has Mattis. We need to get to it and we
need to curb this President who seems to think that he`s negotiating the
Taj Mahal or some other casino with Steve Wynn.
HAYES: There`s infrastructure on the President of the United States, a
chain of command of massive national security apparatus that we think of
this kind of constraining or binding the power of the President of the
United States and yet at the same time, he does have the unilateral power
to fire a nuclear weapon to initiate a strike. How confident are you in
the basic supporting structure around the President to navigate this
WILKERSON: Not until about the last three weeks, I was fairly confident.
I was confident that the institutional fabric we developed since 1947
would, in fact, encumber this President to the point where he couldn`t do
anything insane. I`m no longer that comfortable. I think we`re in
trouble. I think we`re in big trouble and I think the kind of rhetoric
we`ve seen out of Donald Trump in the last few weeks indicates that
trouble. I`m really worried.
HAYES: You`ve witnessed, worked for different administrations, watched
different presidents and diplomats operate. How out of the - how anomalous
were - was the tenure of the President`s comments today?
WILKERSON: Incredibly out of character for the greatest power in the
world. And let`s look at something else, Chris. Right now our tacit ally,
India, and China, the second greatest power in the world right now, are on
the border ready to go to war, 100 meters apart. Not only that, China has
built a corridor through Kashmir making Kashmir as if it`s more amenable to
Pakistan`s sovereignty if you will than India`s. We have a real problem
there. In 2002 Colin Powell had to go deal with Musharraf in Islamabad and
the Indian President in Delhi and have to talk to in order to avert a
nuclear exchange between those two powers. We`re not even looking at that
right now. We`re letting so much go by the way because we`re concentrating
on Trump`s rhetoric.
HAYES: All right. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, it`s a great pleasure.
WILKERSON: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: I`m joined now by Evelyn Farkas, MSNBC National Security Analyst,
former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. How typically would a
process be run inside a White House to determine who should make what kind
of statement in this context?
EVELYN FARKAS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right, Chris, well, first,
I just want to associate myself with everything the Colonel said because he
made very excellent comments there. I mean, normally you have an
interagency process. It sounds like they have he had one actually and they
do have a North Korea strategy, although it the hasn`t been articulated
publicly. And then you get the sense that the President rhetorically is
probably not doing what they scripted for this strategy because what he is
doing runs counter to a sober strategy that puts pressure first. We need
to really look at very clearly at what the North Korean regime wants. As
some of the other guests said before, Kim Jong-un, he wants to make sure,
number one, that he consolidates power internally. He`s done it since he
took power in 2011 when his father died.
Second thing was to make sure nobody tries regime change. Remember, North
Korea is one of the three original members of the axis of evil. We`ve
dealt with Iraq and we`re still dealing Iran and North Korea and he hasn`t
forgotten that. So, he`s trying to make sure that we don`t come in there
and change his regime. There`s a third thing that is - doesn`t get a lot
of attention but he`s also been conducting a little bit of economic reform.
Sort of a-la-China in the 1970s. Not a full bore privatization, but a
little bit privatization, a little bit of market economics there. And I
think it`s important to note all of that because this regime is not
interested in attacking the United States unless it looks like the United
States is going to attack it. And I think they`ve done that analysis
inside the government, inside the NSC process that you mentioned Chris.
It`s just that the President now is speaking out in a way that doesn`t seem
to bolster a soberly minded approach.
And if I could just really quickly give what I think the approach should
be, it should be first of all deterrence, military deterrence,
conventional, nuclear, everything we`re doing across the border with our
allies in the region. Second of all is got to be putting pressure.
Pressure through the sanctions first and foremost and we`ve got to really
enforce them. And by the way, we have had great experience in the - in the
Bush administration. We put on a really good set of sanctions. After the
agreed framework fell apart, which was kind of a mistake on our part I
believe because we probably should have found a way to keep North Korea in
the agreed framework.
Anyway, we used the sanctions, it worked. The last part is, of course,
diplomacy. That`s where you say, OK, we put the pressure on and we`re
deterring you but here`s why we`re doing it, because we don`t want you to
attack us, we want you to freeze your program. We want you to stop being a
threat to international peace and security. And then finally, on the
inducement side, that`s where I think we can work China to say, hey, you
want to do some economic reform internally? We`ll help you if you do all
these other things.
HAYES: We`ve seen parts of the American domestic political structure begin
to discount the words of the President, even the Pentagon essentially more
or less ignoring the tweets about transgender service members. Do you
think there`s a similar effect internationally where world leaders have
learned to discount what the President says?
FARKAS: Probably because I think instinctively we`re all saying, what is
this? He sounds like a North Korean leader. I said that earlier today.
He sounds like Kim Jong-un or Kim Jong-il you know, talking about - those
guys were always talking see a fire and going to get the imperialist and
they (INAUDIBLE). And essentially I feel like our President forgets. I
mean, I don`t even know if he knows, he realizes we`re the number one
political economic military power. When you`re the number one guy on the
block, you don`t talk like that. The North Koreans talk like that because
they`re the little guy. So I think that the international committee is
looking at the President scratching their heads and saying, OK, let`s
forget about what he says. Let`s see what he does.
HAYES: Yes. It thinks in some ways there`s some hope to that. Evelyn
Farkas, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
FARKAS: Yes. Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Next, the growing efforts coming out of Trump world to derail the
Mueller investigation. This time the target is the Deputy Attorney
General. Congressman Eric Swalwell joins me to talk about it in two
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I can say that the people that have been hired were all Hillary
Clinton supporters. Some of them work for Hillary Clinton. I mean, the
whole thing is ridiculous if you want to know the truth.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: His first four attorneys are all
Democrats. One of them worked for the Clinton Foundation. Apparently, he
couldn`t find a single pro-Trump attorney to hire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The very appointment of a Special Counsel was
manipulated by former Director Comey who was specifically trying to get a
Special Counsel appointed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: From the day he was appointed, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has
been attacked over and over by the President and his allies. Breitbart
previously run by the President`s Chief Strategist Steve Bannon claimed
that Mueller was too close to fired FBI Chief James Comey. The AP reported
the President`s lawyers were looking for conflicts of interest among
Mueller`s staff. And Donald Trump himself tweeted that “you are witnessing
a single greatest witch hunt in American political history led by some very
bad and conflicted people.” But tonight, the ire of Trump world is
returning to another target.
That`s Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the man who hired Mueller
and who currently has the power to fire Mueller. In a rare public
appearance this week, Rosenstein defended Mueller`s investigation saying
the Special Counsel can investigate any crime he uncovers and that the
Department of Justice doesn`t do “fishing expeditions.” Last night, Sean
Hannity on Fox went after Rosenstein using some of the same arguments used
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: The Russia investigation, which is being overseen by the Deputy
Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is beyond corrupt, beyond political, and
has now turned into an open ended fishing expedition. And just like Robert
Mueller, Rod Rosenstein has glaring inexcusable conflicts of interest that
we can no longer ignore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, one of the Democrats leading the Russia
investigation in Congress, Representative Eric Swalwell of California.
Congressman, are you confident that Rod Rosenstein`s job is safe?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: I hope so. It better be. Good
evening Chris. It`s just so maddening to see individuals like Sean Hannity
and the President trying to undermine people like Bob Mueller and Mr.
Rosenstein. I mean, you have to stoop pretty low to go after Bob Mueller
and someone who`s appointed by a Republican kept on by a Democratic
President because of his independence. It really is just chipping away at
the faith that the people have in our justice system.
HAYES: Are you taking in the - in the House of Representatives to protect
the Special Counsel from possible termination by the President? They`re
doing that in the Senate, two different bipartisan bills. Is there any
activity like that in the House?
SWALWELL: We`re in the House Judiciary Committee, believe it or not,
Chris, we tried a couple weeks ago. Pramila Jayapal from Washington wanted
to get some oversight on the investigation and her effort was hijacked by
the Republicans and they took her legislation to just have more oversight
and put more guardrails in place. And what was reported out of the
Committee was that the Special Counsel should be set up to investigate
Hillary Clinton and the e-mail incident. I mean, it`s just remarkable,
what they take away as being important. And so, no, we have not -
HAYES: So there`s no movements? There`s no one - no one over there - I
mean, you have Tom Tillis, who`s a Republican from North Carolina, not
normally associated I think with a kind of any sort of never Trump fashion
in United States politics. He`s on board for this. I think Lindsey Graham
as well. You`re not seeing anything like that in the House?
SWALWELL: We`re still waiting you know, for someone with the white hat to
come riding in on our side to save us. But actually Chris, I tell
constituents at home, we have to save ourselves because we can`t count on
patriots right now across the aisle in the House to step up. They just
keep looking the other way. And so, we must continue to make sure that the
American people understand that we were attacked, that we were just - we
were just as vulnerable going into the next election and if anything comes
out of this, the criminal probe aside Chris, we must make sure the next
election is secure. And that`s why I wrote the independent commission
legislation to take this out of Congress and put bipartisan independent
appointed experts on the case.
HAYES: The USA Today reporting late today that the President has sent
private messages to the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He appreciates
what Mueller is doing. It`s what Trump`s chief counsel John Dowd told USA
Today in an interview Tuesday. He asked me to share that with him and
that`s what I`ve done. Do you think that`s appropriate?
SWALWELL: It`s so odd. It`s kind of the same check-in calls that he would
make with Comey and asking Comey to make the Russia case go away, to shoot
down New York Times stories, to make the case against Flynn go away. He
should just cooperate with the investigation and get to the business of
putting to work the people who he promised jobs are coming their way and
that is what`s so frustrating. The cost of this has been an economic
agenda that is not seen in anyone`s paycheck grow.
HAYES: So I want to ask you about some bizarre high jinx in your own
Committee, the House Intelligence Committee where one of the Congressional
Investigations is headquartered. Devin Nunez, who`s the Chair, had to
essentially recuse himself more or less. There is, of course, this
infamous dossier prepared by a former British Intelligence officer named
Steele, the Steele dossier and this is a bizarre story. The GOP sent
Committee staffers to look for Steele in England. Hunt for Trump dossier
author enflames Russia probe and it appears like the - essentially we`re
going perhaps to discredit the dossier, and they did it without checking
with anyone on your Committee? Do I have that correct?
SWALWELL: I heard the ranking member Schiff addressed this over the
weekend. And to his knowledge, the chair person overseeing the Russia
investigation Mike Conaway said that he didn`t even know about it. And so,
if that`s true, that would be inappropriate. You know, when I was a
prosecutor Chris, you were always worried that witnesses would be contacted
in an inappropriate way. And some sort of chilling effect would come over
to them and prevent them from coming forward. We want to hear from
Christopher Steele. He is certainly a relevant witness in what happened
and I hope that my Republican colleagues would agree that we should do
everything to make him feel comfortable to come forward and shouldn`t do
anything that would deter him.
HAYES: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks for your time.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
HAYES: Ahead, Dan Rather joins me to talk about a White House plague with
leaks including the one today that earned a re-tweets from the President
himself. That story next.
HAYES: Amidst of a flurry of North Korean news this morning, President
Trump re-tweeted this. U.S. spy satellites detect North Korea moving anti-
ship cruise missiles to patrol boat. One small problem, that scoop from
foxnews.com was based on information coming from unnamed U.S. officials
with knowledge of the latest intelligence in the region. In other words,
the story was based on a leak and it just so happens that about 50 minutes
later on Fox and Friends, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, a
member of his administration Nikki Haley was asked about that exact same
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What can you tell us about that?
NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I can`t - I
can`t talk about anything that classified and if that`s in the newspaper,
that`s a shame. I have no reason to comment on that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That shouldn`t be on the newspaper, is that another
leak I guess?
HALEY: You know, it`s one of these things. I don`t know what`s going on
but I will tell you, it`s incredibly dangerous when things get out into the
press like that. You`re not only just getting a scoop on something, you`re
playing with people`s lives and this has got to stop. All you`re doing is
putting Americans in danger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Putting Americans in danger. Now it`s unclear if the President
knew he was posting a story based on a leak to his 20 million Twitter
followers. But whatever the case, that story was just one of many leaking
out of the government right now. Most of which definitely do not carry a
Presidential tweet of approval. Like for instance, a major report from 13
federal agencies saying that climate change is real. Its effects are
already being felt and it`s caused primarily by carbon emissions. The good
leaks and the bad leaks and Dan Rather, next.
HAYES: The Trump administration of late has become obsessed with leaks,
but it appears that sometimes the leaker is motivated by concern that vital
information will otherwise never never see the light of day. Case in
point, this New York Times headline, “scientists fear Trump will dismiss
blunt climate report.” And the paper published a draft of a report from 13
federal agencies which reads in part, quote, many lines of evidence
demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse, heat
trapping gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climb change.
The congressionally mandated report still has to be approved by the heads
of 13 federal agencies, like, for instance, climb changer denier Scott
Pruitt who is the EPA administrator, which is presumably why someone
brought the draft report to the attention of the New York Times.
Joining me now, Dan Rather, former anchor of the CBS Evening News, host of
Access TV`s The Big Interview.
This strikes me as a kind of classic leak in terms of people in the civil
service, or in a level of the government, leaking something because they
want it made public before it can be killed.
How common is that?
DAN RATHER, HOST, THE BIG INTERVIEW: Well, fairly common, not nearly
common enough for journalists. But more and more for the public.
Look, news so often is what the public needs to know that someone,
particularly someone in power, doesn`t want them to know. Everything else
is pretty much advertising and propaganda. And it is true that on some
rare occasions, very rare occasions, a matter of national security
involved, but most of the time leaks and whistle blowers, sources who don`t
want to be identified, feel so strongly about something, they say listen,
the public has to know this. And this is a good case in point with the
Obviously, President Trump and those in his administration, didn`t want
this information out. But somebody, somewhere said you know what the
public really needs to know this. And they did a public service by letting
somebody in journalism, in this case, The New York Times, know it. But
that`s often the way it works.
HAYES: I should be clear about this – this draft report, it has not yet
been quashed by anyone, just so the folks are clear about where it is in
the process, it is being reviewed by the agencies. I actually spoke to a
government scientist who is familiar with the report who said there had
been no political interference yet.
Here`s the next question. What do you say to people who say, the leaking,
particularly on the national security side, from anonymous leakers, is
agenda driven and can give people a very partial vision of what the actual
RATHER: Well, I think it is something to be seriously considered. In some
cases, that may be true. But the option of shutting down all leaks and all
whistle blowers, as opposed to saying, you have to be skeptical about the
information, make your own decision about it, that`s for the journalists
the news consumers as a whole.
But in our system of government it is absolutely essential, it`s
imperative, that you have an informed citizenry.
Now every president, some more than others, but every president, wants to
control the flow of information, because they want to accentuate the
positive for themselves.
HAYES: Do you feel this administration is leaking more than others?
RATHER: I do. I can`t remember an administration where you had this many
leaks, this early in a presidency. With two-term presidents, and President
Nixon who didn`t quite finish his two terms, when you got to the worst of
the Watergate period there would began to be leaks.
But I don`t think anywhere in our history, certainly not in the modern
presidency, has this early in a presidency administration been this many
Now, one reading of that, it would be my own reading, my own opinion, is
that one reason you`ve had so many leaks is the White House itself has been
in chaos, one could say, dysfunctional, if
you will. So that`s one reason. The second is, I think that many people who
are inside the administration are appalled by what they see going on on the
inside and saying, for the good of the country, the public has to know
HAYES: You know, the lies of the Trump administration that are essentially
kind of enemies of the administration in the government itself, that`s
their line. Another way of understanding is there are a lot of people in
the civil service, the folks working on this report for instance, whoever
leaked this, opposed the administration.
Is there something about – is there a culture clash happening between the
folks working the
mid levels of the governance and the people at the top?
RATHER: Absolutely. I think it is a factor in seeing so many leaks out.
Look, by any reasonable analysis, the Trump administration and many people
like this, they have taken the Executive Branch of the government and
yanked it pretty far to the right.
If any Democratic administration had yanked their administration as far to
the left, has this one
has to the right, they would have been an extreme reaction.
HAYES: So you think there`s something similar. You think that these folks
function as a kind of keel, to say they keep from the administration
yanking in either direction.
RATHER: Yes. It is part of what we used to call a (inaudible), part of the
system of checks and balances. And that people in the administration, many
of them left over from the previous administration, and many have been
through several administrations, say to themselves, I`ve been at this a
long time. I know a few things, and I know that some of the what they`re
trying to do at the presidential level are not in the national best
interests. That leads to leaks and whistle blowing.
HAYES: Jeff Sessions made an announcement that they have tripled the
number of leak
investigations. There is some thought of reviewing Department of Justice
policy, whether they will subpoena reporters.
Do you think that`s a good idea?
HAYES: No, and I will say that just as a journalist.
It is not a good idea for the country as a whole, it`s not a good idea for
There is no desire to pick on Attorney General Sessions, but let`s face it,
he is carrying out what he thinks are the desires of his president.
HAYES: As explicitly stated by said president.
RATHER: Yeah, and while he said, the president is important, but in some
cases, these leaks
endanger lives. There is no leak that I know of thus far in the early
stages of the Trump administration that has endangered lives.
What it has endangered is President Trump`s reputation. But that`s a whole
different thing. When he talks about subpoenaing press people to get to the
root of the leaks, we do have a First Amendment that doesn`t mean that
reporters are absolutely excluded from the process of justice, but that`s a
dangerous thing in a society such as ours. And I think people who say to
themselves, that`s just Dan
Rather talking on behalf of reporters should think about the country as a
HAYES: Dan Rather, thanks.
RATHER: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, is Roy Moore, the Ten Commandments crusader about to go
the United States Senate? The incredible story of a very special election
in Trump`s America ahead.
And how to keep the President`s attention in tonight`s Thing 1, Thing 2,
HAYES: Thing one tonight, nicknames inside the White House. We learned of
one for the
president from a Washington Post report on advisers struggling to keep his
attention when briefing him on the war in Afghanistan.
I call the president the two-minute man, said one Trump confidante, the
president has patience for a half page.
This is not the first time we`ve heard about the attention span of the
president, two days before inauguration, Trump told Axios, he likes his
briefings short, ideally one page if it`s in writing. “I like bullets or I
like as little as possible.”
In February, The New York Times reported council staff members are now
being told to keep papers to a single page with lots of graphics and maps.
“The president likes maps,” one official said.
CIA director Micheal Pompeo said in May Trump likes “killer graphics” in
But there`s one exception to the brevity rule. A briefing packet that is
more than 20 pages long and it is nicknamed is the propaganda document.
That`s Thing 2 in 60 seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t have to be told –
you know, I`m like a smart person. I don`t have to be told the same thing
and the same words every single day for the next eight years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The president wasn`t shy about his aversion to daily intel
briefings, but there`s one
briefing he apparently seems the relish.
According to Vice News, Trump gets a folder full of positive news about
himself twice a day.
Citing three current White House officials, the so-called propaganda
document is 20 to 25 pages long
filled with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons those lower-third
headlines and crawls, admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV
interviews. The first document is prepared around 9:30 a.m. The follow-up,
according to the reporting, around 4:30 p.m.
The RNC helps the White House compile a packet and on days when there are
aren`t enough positive chyrons, communication staffers will ask the RNC
staffers for flattering photos of the president.
Maybe it`s good for the country that the president is in a good mood in the
morning, one RNC official said.
Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the VICE report not accurate but
declined to say
what was wrong it. One White House official said the only feedback the
White House communications shop, which prepares the folder, has ever gotten
in all the months is: “It needs to be more f****** positive.”
HAYES: There is a decent chance the U.S. Senate will soon count Roy Moore
as a member.
You remember Roy Moore, last year he was suspended as Alabama chief justice
for refusing to comply with the Supreme Court decision legalizing same sex
marriage, and back in 2003 he was ousted as chief justice for defying a
federal court order to remove a giant Ten Commandments monument from the
state judicial building.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY MOORE, ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: See, it wasn`t about the Ten
Commandments, it wasn`t about a monument. It was about the recognition of a
sovereign God. They said that`s unfair to the people. That`s unfair to
other religions. I`m sorry, but this country was not founded on Muhammad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: New polls show Moore, who was once dubbed the ayatollah of Alabama
by the Southern Poverty of Law Center, leading a three-man race for the GOP
nomination to the Senate seat left open when Jeff Sessions became attorney
The first round of voting is next Tuesday with a likely run-off between
the top two finishers in
Moore`s Republican primary rivals are not exactly crusading liberals.
Representative Mo Brooks is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, who has
accused Democrats of staging a quote, war on whites, and Senator Luther
Strange, who was appointed to fill Sessions seat until the election, last
month called President Trump`s election victory a biblical miracle.
All three have been desperate to tie themselves to the president including
Brooks, who faced
attack ads over his criticism of Trump before the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MO BROOKS, SENATE CANDIDATE: So who are you going to believe? Mitch
McConnell and Luther Strange or conservative thought leaders like Sean
Hannity, Laura Ingram, Ann Coulter and Mark Levin? They have all endorsed
me for Senate because I support President Trump`s America First Agenda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Much more on this absolutely fascinating race and what it tells us
about the state of the Republican party under President Trump, right after
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ryan Moore is honest. Moore is his own man. Moore fears
stands for the Constitution, fights for what`s right and believes what we
believe. Drain the swamp. Send McConnell a message. Send them all a
Roy Moore, Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Republican primary in Alabama is in the race for Jeff Sessions old
Senate seat is providing a fascinating window into the state GOP base
voters 200 days into the Trump presidency.
Two of the top three candidates have repeatedly attacked the Republican
leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, and despite polls that President
Trump is losing support nationally even among his core supporters, all
three GOP candidates have been battling over who is the most pro-Trump.
Leading the pack according to a new poll is Roy Moore, who as the Alabama
chief justice refused to remove a giant Ten Commandments monument for the
state judicial meeting, and last year defied the Supreme Court decision to
allow same-sex marriages, leading to his suspension from the bench.
Joining me now, Morgan State University professor Jason Johnson, politics
head of The Root, Betsy Woodruff, politics reporter at The Daily Beast.
My sense, Betsy, is that the conservative – that there is a lot of energy
putting into Luther Strange coming from Mitch McConnell, a lot of energy
from Mo Brooks coming from the conservative media, and they all don`t want
Roy Moore, but that may be what the voters want.
BETSY WOODRUFF, THE DAILY BEAST: Right. Roy Moore has had national and
state level name ID for decades almost I think. The interesting thing about
this is that Donald Trump has
become the Washington establishment. That`s weird thing about looking some
of the campaign adds that are getting run in this primary.
You have Mitch McConnell basically trying to connect Trump to his preferred
candidate, something that would have been laughable a year and a half ago.
The other interesting thing is that Roy Moore and Mo Brooks have a really
fascinating commonality, which is that both of them are conservative
Christians, and both of them during the presidential campaign were really
uncomfortable with being closely associated with President Trump.
Mo Brooks called Trump a serial adulterer, I think that`s the term that he
used. Roy Moore also throughout much of the campaign really stiff armed
Trump, and now you have Luther Strange, the establishment candidate,
criticizing these two conservative, as conservative as possible Christian
men for not being close enough to Trump.
It shows how much Trump has really made conservative evangelical Christians
HAYES: He`s sort of taken over. I thought these numbers were fascinating,
Jason, of approval
ratings. Moore is at 53.34, Strange at 35.50 underwater. Brooks is at
31.43. Mo Brooks is as conservative as you can get in the United States
House of Representatives. That appears to not overcome the fact that he is
tainted in Washington in the eyes of the primary voter.
JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT: So much of this is about cultural arguments. I
feel sorry for main line Republicans in Alabama who want a free market
conservative who wants to shrink the government and make sure that the
markets look fine.
They`re getting these cultural warriors. It`s like all these guys are
pretty terrible when it comes to
the core issues of governing, but instead they want to get into these
larger war on facts, war on culture sort of arguments.
And I`ll be honest with you – and it looks like right now the polls are
going well for Roy Moore, if Roy Moore gets into the Senate, he will be the
loud fire brand that the Republican party
needs to be concerned about.
This is a guy who – it`s not just the anti gay rights, it`s not just that
he didn`t support changing
anti-gay desegregation language in the Alabama Constitution. He is someone
who has basically said my personal belief in God supersedes the laws of the
That`s not somebody a true Republican party, including Reince Priebus
HAYES: That`s precisely why I find this so fascinating Betsy. There was a
sense that Donald
Trump was a perfect storm, there are all of these reasons that he won the
primary. But Roy Moore is that right now in this primary. And to me his
popularity shows that the base hasn`t lost its appetite for that kind of
WOODRUFF: It also shows how much Republican party politics are just
And how hard it is to make wide spread national generalizations about what
the Trump base looks like and what those voters want. Your typical Trump
voter in central Pennsylvania or in northeast Wisconsin is going to think
about politics very differently than one of your Trump voters in Alabama.
And that`s why some of these candidates there seems to be a real dissidence
in terms of the way Trump acts versus the way your Roy Moore types act.
Trump really is unusual in that brought a New York Republican style of
politics into the Republican party. For most of the last 20 years or so,
New York Republicans have not been particularly powerful. Right?
Socially moderate types, folks who are not very open or very aggressive
about their religious
faith. That`s the antithesis of your George W. Bush, it`s also the
antithesis of your Roy Moore types.
And it`s interesting seeing the resurrection almost of the Bible Belt
Republican in the era of the a-religious Republican.
HAYES: There`s more news today that I thought was related to this. Dean
Heller, the one Republican Senator representing a state Hillary won who is
up in 2018 in Nevada. He got a primary challenger, this is Danny Tarkanian
who is the son of the very famous former UNLV coach, who`s run six times I
think and hasn`t won yet.
But that is part of the mechanism of ideological enforcement that produces
the politics that we
have is, Jason it seems to me, precisely that kind of primary challenge
which is always waiting in the wings.
JOHNSON: Right. And you have to be careful because you know who is inside,
who`s outside and who is considered ideological pure, that goal post is
getting a speeding ticket. It just seems to keep moving depending on who
happens to be running.
When you think about it, Mo Brooks is out there defending Jeff Sessions. At
one point Jeff Sessions was a favorite son of the state and now that`s got
him in third place. So, I think Alabama, you can`t derive too much from it
because that is pure distilled you know Trump supporters.
I don`t know that necessarily reflective of how his supporters are going to
be in other states heading into 2018.
HAYES: It does seem to me Betsy that Republican politicians are watching
all of this very
carefully as they make their calculations.
WOODRUFF: Without a doubt. I think what`s interesting about Mo Brooks is
he`s very much the Alabama version of Ted Cruz. And in a way this initial
primary contest is going to be to an extent a referendum on whether or not
Ted Cruz Republicans can compete in Donald Trump`s world.
There`s zero daylight between what Moe Brooks pushes for in the house and
what Ted Cruz pushes for in the Senate.
If Alabama Republicans reject him, that would be more broadly a repudiation
of the action Cruz project.
HAYES: And mark my words, if it`s Luther Strange and Roy Moore in a
runoff, Roy Moore
could be a United States Senator. Jason Johnson and Betsy Woodruff, thank
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts right now
with the one and only Rachel Maddow. Welcome back.
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