Trump’s drug czar choice withdraws Transcript 10/17/17 All In with Chris Hayes

Guests:
Renato Mariotti, Naveed Jamali, Jennifer Rubin, Michelle Goldberg
Transcript:

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: October 17, 2017
Guest: Renato Mariotti, Naveed Jamali, Jennifer Rubin, Michelle Goldberg


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: been more outraged at anything in my life. Everyone
should be outraged.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: An opioid epidemic bombshell.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as Tom Marino, so he
was a very early supporter of mine.

HAYES: Tonight as Trump`s pick for Drug Czar pulls out –

TRUMP: The opioid crisis is an emergency.

HAYES: How the President who promised to help solve the opioid crisis
could be making it worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about declaring a written national emergency for
this crisis?

HAYES: Then –

TRUMP: ObamaCare is finished, it`s dead, it`s gone.

HAYES: The new bipartisan fix for ObamaCare sabotage.

TRUMP: We shouldn`t mention. It`s gone.

HAYES: Plus the President`s pushback to John McCain –

TRUMP: People have to be careful because at some point I fight back.

HAYES: And the man who says he was recruited to collude with the Russians
talks to Robert Mueller.

TRUMP: Russia is fake news.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The President`s
nominee for Drug Czar is out. After an investigation by 60 Minutes and the
Washington Post uncovered his role in fueling the deadly opioid crisis.
The president chose Republican Congressman Tom Marino from Pennsylvania to
lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy at a time when drug
overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. But
according to that investigation by 60 Minutes and the Post, Marino pushed a
bill through Congress written by the pharmaceutical industry that prevented
federal officials from cracking down on drug distributors at the very
height of the crisis. To the DEA agent in charge of monitoring those
prescription drugs, it was an outrage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH RANNAZZISI, FORMER DEA OFFICIAL: I just don`t understand why
Congress would pass a bill that strips us of our authority in the height of
an opioid epidemic in places like Congressman Marino`s District. Why are
these people sponsoring bills when people in their backyards are dying from
drugs that are coming from the same people that these bills are protecting?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: After that story broke, the President said he`d take another look
at Marino`s nomination.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUM: So he was a very early supporter of mine, the great state of
Pennsylvania. He`s a great guy. I did see the report. We`re going to
look into the report. We`re going to take it very seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: And this morning, the President tweeted, “Rep. Tom Marino has
informed me he is withdrawing his name from consideration as Drug Czar.
Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman.” But nominating Marino in the
first place exemplifies the President`s broader approach to the epidemic of
opioid overdose deaths which killed roughly 64,000 Americans last year
alone. More Americans dead in one year than over the course of the entire
Vietnam war. During his campaign, the President portrayed himself as a
champion for the communities devastated by this crisis, many white, rural,
and working class.

On a post-election call with the President of Mexico, a transcript of which
was leaked to the Washington Post, the President claimed: “I won New
Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den.” But since taking
office he has put no real effort into curbing the staggering rate of
overdoses in this country. After launching a commission on the opioid
crisis headed up by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, months later, the
President held a meeting about the commission at his New Jersey golf course
during his summer vacation when Christie was out of the country. The first
lady and Jared Kushner, however, were present. The President was asked why
he had declined to take up the commission`s main recommendation that he
officially declare the crisis a national emergency, unlocking funding for a
federal response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The opioid crisis is an emergency and I`m saying officially right
now, it is an emergency, it`s a national emergency. We`re going to spend a
lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But do you need emergency powers to address it?

TRUMP: We`re going to draw it up and we`re going to make it a national
emergency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: He said that August 10th, we`re going to draw it up. Now, 68 days
later, according to our count, the President has yet to draw anything up.
He has still not made an official declaration. In the meantime, hundreds,
more likely thousands, more Americans have died. The President said
yesterday he plans to act soon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We`re going to have a major announcement, probably next week, on
the drug crisis and on the opioid massive problem. And I want to get that
absolutely right. This country and frankly, the world has a drug problem.
The world has a drug problem, but we have and if we`re going to do
something about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Meanwhile his Health and Human Services Secretary was forced to
resign over a private jet scandal. The Head of the Drug Enforcement Agency
decided to leave citing his dismay and frustration with the President`s
administration. And the President`s pick for Drug Czar, that would be
Congressman Marino, was revealed to have been in league with the very drug
companies that stoked the crisis. Leonard Bernstein is a Health and
Medicine Reporter for the Washington Post, one of the Reporters who broke
that story. First of all, congratulations on great reporting.

LEONARD BERNSTEIN, HEALTH AND MEDICINE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST:
Thank you.

HAYES: What was Marino`s role in Congress in this piece of legislation and
what did the piece of legislation do?

BERNSTEIN: So Marino carried the bill through the House. It took him
about two years. And it`s important to point out that his version was even
worse. It was even tougher on the DEA than the one that eventually passed,
the compromise version that went through the Senate. So his role was in
shepherding this legislation through the House, holding the hearings and we
do know from e-mails that we obtained that this bill was partially crafted
by an industry lawyer, a drug industry lawyer.

HAYES: Just to be clear here, you`ve got these distributors, there`s only
about three companies that make up 85 percent of the market. They`re kind
of the middlemen so to speak. There are millions of pills going out and
the DEA at a certain point start saying, wait a second, there`s federal law
saying if this is going to dodgy circumstances or what you think are pain
mills or fraudulent purposes, you`ve got to obey federal law and not just
ship it out no questions asked. They start impounding them. The pharma
companies distributors basically say, oh, no, no, no, and do an end-run
around the DEA by going to Congress. Is that more or less it?

BERNSTEIN: You know, I couldn`t put it any better than that. There are
billions of opioids in circulation legally in this country. Hundreds of
millions of them spill out of legitimate supply chain and end up in the
hands of users and dealers. When the DEA cracked down on those wholesale
distributors, that big three that you mentioned, they got very unhappy.
And they didn`t like that law and they went to Congress and they got that
law changed.

HAYES: I want to be really clear here because Marino was a key, perhaps
one of the most key figures in this. But there are very few good guys on
Capitol Hill in this story. This essentially passed by a voice vote, it`s
signed by President Obama. And you`ve got ex-Obama officials like Jamie
Gorelick at WilmerHale, who`s at the Department of Justice who goes over to
be a lawyer for the drug distributors when they`re fighting this law?

BERNSTEIN: She did. She went actually to a law firm, WilmerHale, where
she represented Cardinal, one of the big three distributors. I think that
as you said, nobody has covered themselves in glory here. You know, we
still have questions. The DEA says it was steamrolled by Senator Hatch`s
office. Senator Hatch`s office said, nonsense, the DEA collaborated with
us and compromised on the language. The Justice Department has been more
or less silent about its role. We don`t really know what President Obama
knew when he signed the bill. So the end result has not been great for the
American public and I think that`s why everyone is so outraged. And it`s
sort of hard to find someone other than Joe Rannazzisi who blew the
whistle, who turned out to be a good guy in this story.

HAYES: You know, the whistle-blower there, and I think it`s important
point, he basically says, look, if these weren`t corporate CEOs, these are
folks that would be looking at jail time. We would treat these people, if
they were on the corner in urban communities across this country, we`d look
at them as dealers.

BERNSTEIN: Many people have said, not just Joe, but other people have
said, when are we going to actually arrest a corporate executive in
connection with the opioid crisis? That would send a message that a lot of
people think would chill the neglectful release of these opioids into the
black market.

HAYES: All right, Lenny Bernstein, great reporting again, thank you for
it.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you for having me.

HAYES: Senator Maggie Hassen, Democrat from New Hampshire, cosponsoring
legislation to repeal Tom Marino`s law reining in the DEA. Senator, first
your reaction to Marino withdrawing his name?

SEN. MAGGIE HASSEN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I think Chris, – first of all,
thanks for having me on – but I think it`s important for everybody just to
start by taking a step back here and realizing that we are losing hundreds
if not thousands of people a day in the United States to this opioid crisis
in large part because we have seen literally millions of opioid pills
flooding our country. Sometimes literally millions more pills than there
are people in a particular region where a shipment of opioids is sent. And
so as we confront this crisis, I am very concerned that the Trump
administration would have nominated Representative Marino in the first
place, somebody with significant ties to the pharmaceutical industry. I`m
encouraged and glad that he withdrew his name from consideration.

But at the end of the day, this administration, every now and then, seems
to pay attention to this crisis, an epidemic that is costing us lives every
day, but then really doesn`t follow up with any action. And we know that
we have a great deal to do on the prevention, treatment, and recovery side
of things, on the law enforcement side of things. We know we need more
resources on the front lines and is absolutely essential that the
administration give us a nominee who is qualified, who doesn`t have
connections to the pharmaceutical industry, and who is really interested in
focusing on this problem and helping us save lives.

HAYES: To that point, I mean, I find myself astounded that there are
60,000 Americans dying a year. There are more Americans dying from opioids
right now than car crashes and from guns. It has become the leading cause
of death for many age categories and in many communities and basically,
Washington is doing nothing. And when they`re doing nothing, when they`re
not doing nothing, they`re doing things that could possibly make it worse.
Like, I just don`t understand how you don`t run through the halls of the
Senate every day pounding on the marble.

HASSEN: Well, I have been pushing as hard as I can in committees and
everywhere else I can think of to insist that we stay focused on the nature
of this epidemic, to point out just what you did, which we are losing
thousands of people a year to this epidemic. And frankly, if this were
another kind of epidemic that didn`t bring with it the stigma of addiction,
I think we would be focused more on what we know we can do to stop this.
We know what we need to do, there have been recommendations. You know,
when I was a Governor, the National Governors Association came together,
put bipartisan recommendations on a sheet of paper, began to work at the
state level on the number of these issues.

HAYES: But nothing happens.

HASSEN: And at the state level we did things like Medicaid expansion,
began to get more treatment. But in Washington, what we are seeing from
this President is the appointment of a commission. The commission gives
interim recommendations and then there`s no follow-through. We see the
President say back in August, weeks ago, that he wanted to declare a
national emergency and I`m very interested in what kind of emergency he
would declare and what resources that would help us marshall. And then he
doesn`t follow through on it. Then he nominates somebody who clearly is
not qualified to take on the industry the way it needs to be dealt with
here.

And again, doesn`t have nominees for Health and Human Services or for
permanent leadership at the DEA at a time when it desperately needs it. So
I`ll continue to push, I continue to be incredibly grateful to the people
of my state who have stood up and talked about the nature of this terrible
disease, the loved ones they have lost, and the possibility of getting
better at building a better future. That`s what we should be focused on
and that is why this lack of action by the administration is so concerning.

HAYES: Final quick question. Has anyone from the White House been in
contact with you about this problem?

HASSEN: Not recently, no. And it`s very concerning.

HAYES: Senator Maggie Hassen, thanks for being here tonight.

HASSEN: Thank you very much, Chris.

HAYES: Charlie Sykes is an MSNBC Contributor, Author of the new book How
The Right Lost Its Mind. Christina Greer is an Associate Professor of
Political Science at Fordham University. And Charlie, what I`m really –
I`m genuinely galled here by the fact that the White House really just does
not seem to care. The President talked about it on the campaign trail. He
attributes his primary win in New Hampshire from the bleeped phone call.
And they have this commission, they appoint this guy who is in the pocket
of big pharma and nothing.

CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, absolutely nothing which is really
odd because you have to give him credit for raising the – raising the
issue during the campaign. But I just want to comment, though, that in the
last week we have really seen the transformative power of good journalism,
you know, with this story. The fact that they under-covered – they
uncovered something that nobody in Congress, Democrats or Republicans,
seemed to know what was going on. So you know, what you`re seeing here is
not just the inaction of the Trump administration. You are really seeing
the swamp in action.

When you think about how this legislation went through that nobody – that
nobody you know, raised a flare about this. You had to do over $100
million in lobbying. This whole culture in Washington where you have
industries, including bad actors like some of these pharmaceutical
companies having a veto power over this legislation, I mean, this really
opens the door to how this happened. This opioid crisis didn`t just
happen. It is a manmade crisis but what we learned over the weekend about
the legislative process, both Democrats and Republicans is pretty horrific.

HAYES: And yet, I mean, this was the drain the swamp idea, right? And you
get – you got Scott Pruitt of the EPA who says that he`s going to
outsource more to the industry that`s polluting. And then he has Marino,
this is the guy that he chooses. I thought it was so revealing to when
he`s asked yesterday about Marino, Christina, he says, the first thing,
what is the first thing he say? He knows the issues as well. He was an
early supporter of mine. It was such a tip-off about what this is about.

CHRISTINA GREER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, FORDHAM
UNIVERSITY: Well, first of all, there are a few things we have to discuss.
One, this President is so incompetent and has absolutely no idea what`s
going. That`s one. Two –

HAYES: Right. If you said to him, like what are the top-line
recommendations of your opioid commission, do you think he could answer?

GREER: He would not. I mean, we know that Obama went across the country
for a fuel year answering questions about anything and everything in the
health care bill. Donald Trump can`t do more than five minutes of
superlatives, right? Everything`s great, kids don`t do drugs. That was
like, that`s beyond Nancy Reagan –

HAYES: Literally, he basically said that at the commission meeting.

GREER: That is the policy. Kids, don`t start, don`t do it. But here`s
another thing that we have to remind the American public, two things. One,
we have the power as American citizens to get rid of these members of
Congress who are not doing their jobs. The framers have set it up so that
we could ostensibly get rid of all 435 members of the House in November
2018 –

HAYES: Every two years.

GREER: If we want to and one-third of the Senators. If we`re unhappy and
we look at the records of people in our state and they aren`t doing their
jobs, we can actually vote them out of office. It is possible.

HAYES: Which is to remain because it appears that Marino is going to keep
his seat in Congress and up for reelection.

GREER: Of course.

HAYES: And part of – part of it too here Charlie is the dynamic here is
like, I`ve watched this President tweet about 100 times now or talk about
or tweet about whether players take the knee during an anthem, right? And
it`s like, that`s the kind thing when you program your Presidency like a
talk radio show, that`s going to keep the phone – the phone boards lit up
but there`s nothing in it. There`s no red meat in the opioid crisis,
there`s no like, it`s a complicated, sad, bad story that needs serious
policy-making and what`s striking to me is it`s not something he`s spending
a lot of rhetorical energy on because it doesn`t afford him the opportunity
to beat the stuffing out of some villain.

SYKES: Yes. It doesn`t match that narrative, it doesn`t play the culture
wars, you know. But as you – as you said a little bit earlier, you`re
talking about an epidemic that kills 60,000 Americans. You know, the
question is not just, again, you know, why the President is not talking
about this on a regular basis. It`s, how did the federal government
actually make it harder to solve this problem? I`m not trying to shift
away from you know, Donald Trump. As I agree, Donald Trump is so
disconnected with policy, so uninterested in policy. You know, the way
that he basically has done this is to say, hey, the opioid issue won me,
New Hampshire won me this state. Look how many votes I got.

And therefore you know, you go through the motions, you know, the virtual
motions. But you`re absolutely right, he`s not tweeting about it. He`s
not tweeting about a lot of things that are actually affecting people`s
lives, like the wildfires in the state of California. But this one, and I
do think you raise the question, where is the outrage in Congress? Where
is the outrage about a crisis that is killing this many Americans, and no
one is doing anything about it?

GREER: But I think it`s really complicated for this President because he
is also trying to get rid of Medicaid. And Medicaid is the system that is
actually helping a lot of people get off of this –

HAYES: Well, it`s covering a lot of people. Although the capacity is
nowhere near what`s needed. Just to be clear.

GREER: It`s nowhere near what`s needed. But he`s trying to strip it so
that you have nothing, right? No mental – no mental health services, no
physical health services. And so, this is a situation where this President
can`t also blame Mexicans as rapists, he can`t blame (INAUDIBLE), he can`t
blame Muslims and ISIS. This is actually a much more complicated problem
and he can`t race bait with this one.

HAYES: Well, and I should say this as a final note, that at the meetings
he`s had about this – he keeps talking about the border wall. But you
know, it`s like the calls coming from inside the House with American
pharmaceutical companies putting billions of pills and he wants to build a
border wall to stop it. Charlie Sykes and Christina Greer, thank you,
both.

SYKES: Thank you.

HAYES: Ahead, late word tonight that Sean Spicer spent part of his Monday
with the Mueller investigation. And up next, minutes after the President
declared ObamaCare dead, he found out on live T.V. there was a bipartisan
fix to save it. We`ll show you how that went along in two minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: ObamaCare is a disaster. It`s virtually dead. As far as I`m
concerned, it really is dead. And I predicted that a long time ago. It`s
a concept that doesn`t work. ObamaCare is everything but dead. The people
aren`t going to take it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: President Trump once again today pronouncing the ACA dead, tweeting
just a few hours ago, “Any increase in ObamaCare premiums is the fault of
the Democrats for giving us a “product” that never had a chance of
working.” What he neglected to mention of course was his own recent
decision to unilaterally, by himself, cut subsidies for lower-income
ObamaCare enrollees, a decision that is already raising premiums
nationwide.

Just one example, according to philly.com, 2018 premiums are jumping 23
percent more than expected in Pennsylvania, a jump that the Acting
Insurance Commissioner in the State attributed to the President`s actions.
In contrast, Democratic Senator Patty Murray and Republican Senator Lamar
Alexander today announced a preliminary deal to restore those same
subsidies if they can get the votes in Congress. The kind of bipartisan
deal the President reportedly had been urging Senator Alexander to hammer
out in a call this weekend. And when news broke about the deal, the
President first appeared to support it as a “short-term solution.”
Afterwards, the White House declared they couldn`t accept the current deal.
Then the President pivoted once again just moments ago, commending the deal
and painting it not as a bipartisan compromise but as a Republican triumph.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I`m pleased that Democrats are finally responding to my call for
them to take responsibility for their ObamaCare disaster and work with
Republicans to provide much-needed relief to the American people. While I
commend the bipartisan work done by Senators Alexander and Murray, and I do
commend it, I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the
ObamaCare mess, instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Are you confused? You`re not alone. The confusion isn`t
surprising. The President has sabotaged ObamaCare for months while failing
to deliver on his own health care promises. In fact, the President`s
efforts to undermine the wall were what helped inspire the Alexander-Murray
bill in the first place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: Chairman Alexander and I were able to
find common ground on a number of steps to stabilize the markets and to
help protect families from premium spikes as a result of the sabotage we
have seen from this administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois says the President`s
actions on health care are hurting American families and she joins me now.
Senator, first let me start with the deal or tentative deal announced by
Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray. I`ve seen general enthusiasm from
Democrats. John McCain has tweeted in support of it, do you support it?

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: I do support it. Most importantly, it
undo – it undoes a lot of the sabotage the President has been trying to
wreak havoc on our health care system. So I look forward to seeing the
full deal, but for everything from what I`ve seen, it looks good.

HAYES: Do you have any faith or confidence that McConnell will move this
through, the President would sign it, that you could possibly ameliorate
the sabotage as you called it from the White House?

DUCKWORTH: I certainly hope so. You know, Senator McConnell, certainly
I`m sure played a part in Senator Alexander walking away from the
negotiation table when we got into the last health care fight. And for him
to be back in negotiating with Patty Murray is a sign that perhaps we`re
going to be able to have a shot at this. And really you know, the people
across Illinois and this country desperately need this deal so they can
make sure that they can continue to afford their health insurance.

HAYES: What do you say if the President says, look, this is exactly –
this is how it worked, I cut the CSRs, I forced Congress to negotiate, and
I made this happen.

DUCKWORTH: Well, what I have to say is, he`s done everything to sabotage
health care in this country to include cutting the budget for the office
that signs people up for health care. And he certainly hasn`t changed any
of those actions. The people who made this deal happen were Lamar
Alexander and Patty Murray and they are the ones who should get the full
benefits of any type of accolade that happen. But let`s make sure we get
this thing passed and signed first. We still have to get this passed both
in the Senate and the House and the President has to sign it. There`s a
lot of sabotage the White House can still pull.

HAYES: Senator, since I have you here, I wanted to ask you a question
about some news that happened yesterday and today which is about the
President`s reaction to the four slain service members in Niger. The
President hadn`t spoken about them publicly. He was sort of forced to
yesterday. He kind of casually mentioned that previous Presidents didn`t
call of family of those who are killed in action. Today the White House on
a sort of offensive that Barack Obama never called John Kelly when his son
was killed in action, I believe in 2010, in Afghanistan. And as someone
who is a veteran yourself, what do you make of this?

DUCKWORTH: Well, the President casually says all sorts of things that are
not true. I was there in 2009 when President Obama visited Section 60 at
Arlington National Cemetery and personally embraced the families of our
fallen heroes there at Arlington. He was back multiple times. He called,
he met with, he certainly remained in contact through multiple channels
with families of the fallen. You know, there`s only one person here that
is – who has a record of using gold star families as political ploys, and
that`s Donald Trump.

HAYES: Do you think that the nation is owed a further explanation of what
exactly the circumstances were under which those four green berets were
killed?

DUCKWORTH: Certainly. I think what happened with those four special
forces troops is a great example of the fact that Americans don`t even know
where our troops are around the world right now. If you talk to Americans
just a month ago, most of them would probably not know that we have troops
in Niger, that we have troops in Djibouti, that we have troops all around
the world who everyday sacrifice and protect and defend our nation on
foreign soil. And yet we don`t even know where these folks are. And to
have the President of the United States use the deaths of these heroes for
political gain is simply unacceptable.

HAYES: All right, Senator Tammy Duckworth, thanks for joining me.

DUCKWORTH: Thank you.

HAYES: Tonight, why the White House is stonewalling House investigators on
their own use of personal e-mail and late developments in the Russia
investigations, those stories ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Close your eyes and imagine for a minute that we were nine months
into the Hillary Clinton Presidency and the Chairman of the House Oversight
Committee Trey Gowdy requested information on whether Clinton White House
officials had used private personal e-mail since the election. Now imagine
the response the Clinton White House just stonewalled. What do you think
we would be talking about today? Well, that`s exactly what is happening in
this White House right now. Following a political report that Trump`s son-
in-law and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, as well as other White House
officials, have used personal e-mail for official business. The House
Oversight Committee requested the White House specify who exactly had ever
done so. But the President`s Congressionally on march short responded with
a (INAUDIBLE) two page none answer with recent part, “the White House and
covered employees endeavor to comply with all relevant laws.”

I like that, endeavor, their trying to comply with the law. That prompted
the Democratic member of the Oversight Committee to say, the White House
has completely blown off the Committee. If the White House won`t provide
documents of basic oversight the Chairman should send subpoenas. And aid
to Chairman Gowdy said lawmakers “are currently evaluating whether there
has been compliance, partial compliance, or noncompliance by the White
House.” Meanwhile, in the investigation the White House cannot stonewall,
the Russia investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has now
interviewed a cyber-security expert who wrote an article entitled, and I
quote, “The Time I Got Recruited to Collude with the Russians.” That`s
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Special Counsel Robert Mueller has now reportedly interviewed a
figure who may be key in unraveling the collusion side of the Russia
investigation, if that is what bears out. And it has to do with a very
strange story that was first reported in The Wall Street Journal. You may
remember this, it was about a GOP operative named Peter Smith who sought
Clinton emails, presumably the ones that she had deleted, from hackers
before the election. He also sought help from a cyber security expert
named Matt Tate who was so alarmed by the scheme he came out with his side
of the story after it was all over, provocatively entitled “The time I got
recruited to collude with the Russians.”

Tate wrote that Smith, quote, “never expressed any discomfort with the
possibility the emails he was seeking were potentially from a Russian
front, a likelihood he was happy to acknowledge. If they were genuine,
they would hurt Clinton`s chances and therefore help Trump.”

Now Tate has talked to Mueller, according to Business Insider, the first
confirmation that Mueller is following this particular and peculiar thread
of the story.

Meanwhile, there`s news on the obstruction of justice side of the Russia
investigation today as well. Former White House Press Secretary Sean
Spicer met with Mueller`s team for much of today, according to Politico,
and was grilled about the firing of James Comey.

MSNBC intelligence analyst Naveed Jamali, former FBI agent; and Renato
Mariotti, former federal prosecutor joined me now.

Renato, I have always been intrigued by this story, the Smith story. It`s
strange for many reasons. After Smith basically talked to a reporter, he
committed suicide just a few weeks later. And it was an effort, a very
clear effort, to try to get those deleted emails from Russian hackers.
There`s a question about how related it is to the campaign.

What is the significance of Tate being interviewed by Mueller?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it tells us a couple of
things. First of all, it tells us that Mueller is interested in this whole
line of inquiry. So Mueller is not interviewing Tate because he has
something to say about obstruction of justice, regarding the Comey firing,
or what happened in Trump Tower, Tate specifically knows about this
specific set of facts.

And you know, if you read that story, one piece of it I thought was very
interesting, Chris, is where he talks about this nonprofit that was set up
with a number – with the names of many bigwigs in the Trump camp,
including Kellyanne Conway and Manafort and others, that was set up to sort
of disguise the campaign`s involvement with this information. I suspect
that Mueller is interested in finding out what Tate knew about that, what
Smith told Tate before he mysteriously passed away.

And, you know, I would expect that Mueller is going to be following up when
he questions some of those other individuals.

HAYES: Naveed, what`s going on here is this – I think one of the things
we`ve sort of gotten to in the investigation is the idea of cutouts. So
if anyone was doing anything, sort of hand in glove, it was being done
through sort of plausibly deniable, quasi third parties. Is that your
understanding of where we are in the investigation now?

NAVEED JAMALI, FORMER FBI DOUBLE AGENT: I think that`s exactly right. And
whether it was the folks who met with Don Junior, or Gucifer who spoke to
Roger Stone allegedly, or perhaps some of these people that were speaking
to Peter Smith offering what I would call a dangle, opposition research, or
information that`s detrimental to Hillary Clinton, what you`re seeing is
exactly that, the sort of targeting using cutouts, using people that if
they are traced, if they are identified, are very difficult to trace
exactly back to the Kremlin.

Even though a layperson can look at this and say, it`s pretty likely this
was a directed action. But that`s the point is whether this is illegal or
not, what you are seeing here on the national security side is much more,
not dotted lines, but much more solid lines, tracing back to the Kremlin.

HAYES: There`s another person that Mueller`s team has talked to, Renato,
and I wanted to ask about him, Keith Kellogg, who served as the interim
national security adviser after Michael Flynn was fired. He was, I
believe, a kind of – played a somewhat role as a deputy to Flynn himself.
What do you make of that?

MARIOTTI: Well, certainly I think that Mueller`s going to be interested in
whatever Flynn told him. But also I think that we already know from other
reports that Mueller is interested in Flynn`s firing and the circumstances
around it, not because that was meant to obstruct Mueller`s investigation -
- excuse me, the FBI investigation in the way that the Comey firing was,
but because I imagine that
Mueller is interested in hearing what everyone had to say about what Flynn
knew and what the
downsides were of firing Flynn.

Because Flynn knew where the bodies were buried potentially and his
knowledge and what he has to say could potentially be useful given that
Mueller appears to be going after Flynn.

HAYES: I haven`t, Naveed, gotten to talk to you until – since NBC broke
the story about Paul Manafort, who of course, was campaign chair, and a
Russian oligarch by the name of Oleg Deripaska, who we knew Manafort had
been in business with. There was – in fact, he had been sued by
Deripaska. We knew he sent an email to Deripaska when he got the job – to
his subordinate about Deripaska, basically saying, has Oleg seen this? And
can we be made whole?

But NBC uncovered 30 million more dollars that changed hands between these
two men. As someone who worked in counter intelligence like what crosses
your mind when you see that?

JAMALI: Motive? I mean, I don`t know any more simple way to put it, but
it really is true. You know, in counter intelligence, there`s four pillars
of motivation that are the cornerstone of spies. And it`s an acronym known
as MICE – money, ideology, coercion, and ego. And money always plays a
role when it comes to these things. It`s the easiest way to get people to
do what you want them to do.

And, look, unfortunately for a lot of these players, there`s a trail when
you start dealing with money at that level.

HAYES: As a prosecutor, Renato, that story on Oleg Deripaska, that NBC
News reporting on Manafort, what did you make of it?

MARIOTTI: Well, I`ll tell you, I actually can verify that a prosecutor
would look at it in a similar way in terms of motive. Certainly it
provides a motive for Manafort to be offering those private
briefings that we heard about that Manafort allegedly offered that same
oligarch in an email.

You know, why would the chair of a presidential campaign in the United
States give special
access to a Russian oligarch? Well, we now have 30 million additional
reasons why.

HAYES: Yeah, I mean, the way I sort of think of where we are right now,
you`ve got all these – we`ve revealed these moments of the two sides, if
you think of them, right, the Trump campaign and Russians or Russian-
affiliated agents or actors or those aligned with the Kremlin, sort of
feeling each other out in all kinds of ways – emails, approaches, dangles.
And there`s this question of, like, is that where it got? And it just sort
of stopped there and everyone just thought to themselves, well, I kind of
see what you`re doing, you kind of see what I`m doing? Or whether we got
further? Is that sort of where we`re at, Naveed?

JAMALI: I think that`s right. And I think, you know, Chris, there`s a lot
of actor that we know about, but there very well may be some that we don`t.
The Peter Smith, for example, is a perfect example of that.

And, you know, look, it`s very clear the Russians were up to their eyeballs
in trying to do something here. They did it with Facebook. They did it
with Twitter. They did it in this wide swathe. That doesn`t mean they
didn`t target individuals for recruitment. That doesn`t mean that they
hadn`t targeted people well before the election that we`re now starting to
see kind of pop their heads up.

HAYES: All right. Naveed Jamali and Renato Mariotti, thank you very much.

Still to come, what Senator John McCain said that earned him rousing
applause and the warning President Trump issued in response.

Plus, many people are saying Thing One, Thing Two is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Thing One tonight, it`s one of President Trump`s favorite fictions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We`re going to reduce taxes tremendously because we have the
highest tax rate anywhere in the world. We`re the highest taxed major
country anywhere in the world by far. We`re the highest-taxed nation in
the developed world.

Highest-taxed nation in the world.

The highest-taxed nation in the world.

We`re the highest-taxed nation in the world.

And I think in the undeveloped world too.

Highest-taxed nation.

Highest-taxed nation.

But I have to be very accurate with these people, because they`ll start
claiming all sorts of things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Right, because that`s not at all in any way, shape or form true,
not true at all, demonstrably false. And I just pointed out as
demonstrably false so often you`d think maybe the president would just stop
saying it at some point.

Even as far back as May of last year, Politifact was already writing
headlines like, “For the third time, Donald Trump, the U.S. is not the
highest-taxed nation in the world.”

We haven`t kept the count through today, but one reporter from Scripps News
Service was ready for it this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`ve repeatedly said that we`re the highest-taxed
nation in the world. When that`s been seen as objectively false. How,
with the credibility you need to pass tax
reform…

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The president did respond to that reporter. Do you think his
response was a true thing or a false thing? That`s Thing Two in 60
seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: The president was finally called to account today for constantly
repeating his false
claim that the U.S. is the highest-taxed nation in the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Some people say it differently, and they`ll say we`re the highest
developed nation taxed in the world…

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then why don`t you say that it way?

TRUMP: Because a lot of people know exactly what I`m talking about. And
in many cases they think I`m right when I say the highest.

As far as I`m concerned, I think we`re really essentially the highest. But
if you`d like to add the
developed nation, you can say that too.

But a lot of people agree that the way I`m saying it is exactly correct.
Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: OK, so first off, nope. Despite having a high corporate tax rate,
at least on the books,
the U.S. is actually among the lowest-taxed developed nations, that`s the
OECD. In fact, we`re almost the lowest-taxed nation.

But the president has his own concept of truth. To him, the question isn`t
whether he`s right, it`s whether many people are saying it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You know what`s important? Millions of people agree with me when I
say that. If you would have looked on one of the other networks and all
the people that were calling in, they`re saying, we agree with Mr. Trump.
We agree. They`re very smart people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that talking about millions of illegal
votes is dangerous to this country?

TRUMP: No, not at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: …with presenting the evidence?

TRUMP: Not at all, because many people feel the same way that I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: To fear the world we have organized and led
for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced
around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and
our duty to remain the last, best hope of earth, for the sake of some
half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find
scapegoats than solve problems…

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Blistering speech from Senator John McCain last night after he was
awarded the National Constitution Center`s Liberty Medal, calling out many
of the current administration`s policies and some of their supporters, the
ones who march with Tiki torches.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the
custodians of those
ideals at home and their champion abroad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Blood and soil there.

Not once throughout his entire acceptance speech did the Arizona Republican
mention the
president by name, but during a radio interview this morning, the president
was quick to take exception.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIIFED MALE: You heard what he said yesterday, Senator McCain?

TRUMP: Yeah, well, I hear it. And people have to be careful because at
some point I fight back. You know, I`m being very nice. I`m being very,
very nice. But at some point I fight back, and it won`t be pretty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The president of the United States talking about fighting back
against an 81-year-old diagnosed with possibly terminal brain cancer,
Senator John McCain`s response to Mr. Trump next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Trump said on the radio, “I heard and people have
to be careful, because at some point I fight back, at some point I will
fight back, and it won`t be pretty” talking about you.

MCCAIN: I don`t comment on what the president says, I comment on what he
does. And I will say that I have, I have faced some pretty tough
adversaries in the past. I`m not interested in confronting the president,
I`m interested in working with the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Well, Senator McCain managed to side step Donald Trump`s comments,
hard to ignore the frustration the president has openly shown for
Republicans in the Senate as he continues to blame and sometimes berate
lawmakers in his own party for his own failing agenda.

And that`s a sentiment shared by White House budget director Mick Mulvaney,
who said, “you ask me if the Republican-controlled Senate is an impediment
to the administration`s agenda. All I can tell you is so far, the answer
is yes.”

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, Michelle
Goldberg, columnist for The New York Times who have both been following the
fractured state of the GOP, join me now.

Jennifer, I`ll start with you. So, the whole big – the sort of idea here
that Bannon and others have is that the agenda stalled and the reason is
the establishment and Mitch McConnell and the incumbents in the Republican
Senate.

I want to play what you Bannon said about McConnell which is almost
comical, actually, over the weekend. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, BREITBART NEWS: Now, Mitch, I don`t know if you are watching
today. I don`t know if
you are watching valued voters.

Up on Capitol Hill, because I have been getting calls, it`s like before the
ides of March. Right?
The only question, and this is an analogy or metaphor or whatever you want
to call it, they`re just looking to find out who is going to be Brutus to
your Julius Caesar.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Like most high schools students in America, he`s read Julius
Caesar. But this is the idea, it`s like McConnell and the incumbents in the
Senate, they`re the ones to blame?

JENNIFER RUBIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, there is a truth to that and
that is that none of them have an idea what they want to do –

HAYES: That`s exactly correct.

RUBIN: None of them have a health care plan that they were able to come up
with as a reasonable alternative to Obamacare. They are floundering around
on tax cuts or tax reform. There is a modicum of truth.

But the fact we all know of course that the best set, the most disciplined
Senate, the most noble Senate could not possibly work with a president like
this who is in a space of 24 hours, changes his mind in something as
fundamental as Obamacare is dead, I want to kill it, to, oh, Alexander and
Murray seem to have come up with a great compromise.

HAYES: I think they were on three different positions just on that
particular issue today and to
me, the key moment here, Michelle, the Roy Moore moment. I think people are
losing sight of how –

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Of how wild he is. Because so much
is wild right now. Right?

HAYES: That was, I think it scared the White House, because they put their
chips behind Luther Strange. I think everyone in the GOP is like, oh, we
can`t control any of this. Like, this is what our voters want.

GOLDBERG: Right. But I also think it`s created an illusion that Steve
Bannon is controlling all this.

HAYES: Which is ridiculous. Steve Bannon is not the reason Roy Moore won
that race.

GOLDBERG: Right. But now there is this whole mystic around Steve Bannon.
He tried to unseat Paul Ryan. I`m certainly no fan of Paul Ryan, but I
believe that the challenger lost by 68 points. And so the idea that Steve
Bannon is going to singlehandedly unmake the Senate or remake the Senate is
ridiculous.

But the other thing –

HAYES: It`s the voters. I just want to be clear. It`s not Bannon and his
two-shirted swagger. It`s the voters.

GOLDBERG: So I think that it will be in some districts, they will rebel
and in other districts, they won`t. Alabama is pretty specific. I think
that`s what`s happening is that the Republicans are reaping decades of
lying to people. You know, they`ve lied to people about Obamacare. They`ve
lied to people about the way the economy works. They`ve lied to people
about basically every facet of
American governance, so now people, rightfully, don`t understand well, now
you are in office and why haven`t you fixed it.

Why haven`t you enacted all these policies that you told us will fix
everything.
Because those policies never have been, in as much as they`ve existed, they
have always been
fantastical.

HAYES: What`s remarkable about this, Jennifer, is that they`re fighting,
the thing they`re trying to do is slash the corporate tax rate right now.
That`s the perfect like give away on the con.

You have all this power. You control the government. Whatever you want to
do. You can control the government. Whatever you want to do for the
American people, for your voters. Heck, go try to build a wall, if that`s
what you want to do?

No, they`re focused like a laser on slashing the cooperate tax rate.

RUBIN: Yeah. My favorite gimmick is the 25% pass through rate, which is a
direct gift to Donald Trump and the inherent members of the cabinet. That
one is a classic.

I do think this is reaping the whirlwind. I think a lot has to do with this
nonsense that they have
perpetrated. That the problems of white rural and white urban America are
traceable to foreigners, whether they`re immigrants, whether they`re trade
partners, and this whole theory of trade is complete
utter nonsense.

And so now they have an expectation that gosh, if you just round up all
illegal aliens, get rid
of them, times will be good again.

So it`s this false premise and these false demons that they`ve created. And
now they`re stuck with the problem of what are you going to do?

HAYES: And I think there will be more Roy Moores. You have Kelli Ward who
is called `Chemtrails Kelly` by the Republican Jeff Flake in Arizona, she
has a shot.

GOLDBERG: I think she has more than a shot. I would be shocked if she
didn`t prevail. Although then I would think the Democrats have a real
chance to pick up the seats.

It`s such chaos and it`s not even chaos that`s graspable on ideological
lines. Right? It`s all kind of aspects and clusters of resentment and
hatred.

HAYES: That`s why you have Michael Grimm, Staten Island ex-con, and Roy
Moore, Mr. Ten Commandments on the same sort of Bannon wing of this thing.

Jennifer Rubin, Michelle Goldberg, thanks for joining us tonight.

That is All In. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.

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