Trump declares opioid health emergency Transcrip 10/26/17 All In with Chris Hayes

Natasha Bertrand, Renato Mariotti, Asawin Suebsaeng, David Weigel

Date: October 26, 2017


Guest: Natasha Bertrand, Renato Mariotti, Asawin Suebsaeng, David Weigel

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Who`s next? Who`s the next Republican Senator
to race for the doors rather than be replaced by the body snatcher? And
that`s HARDBALL for now and it`s all true. Thanks for being with us. “ALL
IN” with Chris Hayes starts right now.



and the way it was done so underhanded.

REID: The plot to stop Robert Mueller.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: There`s no way the American people
can trust Robert Mueller.

REID: Tonight as the Mueller investigation closes in, new signs that Trump
is getting desperate. Then –

TRUMP: They are trying to take away our history and our heritage.

REID: Shades of Charlottesville as the Virginia Governor`s Race becomes a
referendum on Confederate statues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m for keeping them up.

REID: And what to make of the President`s opioid announcement.

TRUMP: If we can teach young people and people generally not to start,
it`s really, really easy not to take them.

REID: When ALL IN starts now.


REID: Good evening from New York, I`m Joy Reid in for Chris Hayes.
Tonight amid signs of Robert Mueller`s investigation could be closing in,
the White House is scrambling to discredit the messenger with a big assist
from his partners on Fox News.


HANNITY: There`s no way the American people can trust Robert Mueller to
investigate anything Russian related.

GREGG JARRETT, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: What really stinks here is
Mueller, Rosenstein, Andrew Weissmann and James Comey appear to have
covered it all up, the Uranium One deal.

have Mueller – Mueller has to be fired.

HANNITY: And yes, Robert Mueller, I hope you`re watching.

Oh Robert Mueller, are you awake tonight?

And Robert Mueller is now investigating anything involved with Russia, how
is that possible?

To be fair and impartial, it`s impossible because of his past role in this.
He should resign immediately tonight.


REID: Fox News has been relentlessly hyping a claim that Hillary Clinton
sold out our national security by supposedly personally approving a 7-year-
old uranium deal with Russia in exchange for a big donation to the Clinton
Foundation. It`s a claimed that`s been debunked for years. Note that
giant false graphic on But the truth hasn`t stopped the
President and his rear guard from pushing the story as the new Watergate
and the real Russia scandal. With White House water-carrier Devin Nunes
still the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee announcing his own
parallel investigation to the real Russia-gate probe – take that,
Democrats – and Fox News hyping the supposed conspiracy so Defcon One as
evidence that just about every Trump antagonist needs to be locked up.


JARRETT: Somebody`s got to go to jail over this and not just the one who`s
been convicted –

HANNITY: Who are the top people that are in jeopardy?

JARRETT: Well, I think Hillary Clinton, anybody at the DNC.

HANNITY: Eric Holder?

JARRETT: James Comey in particular because he may have abused his office,
and he could have done it for –

HANNITY: Mueller? Mueller knew.

JARRETT: Covering it up to Congress –

HANNITY: He should have recused himself.

JARRETT: (INAUDIBLE) he should recuse himself.

HANNITY: Same with Rosenstein?

JARRETT: Absolutely. And Jeff Sessions needs to get off his duff and
appoint a Special Counsel investigate –

HANNITY: Immediately.

JARRETT: Hillary Clinton, Comey, Loretta Lynch –

HANNITY: Everybody.

JARRETT: Everybody.


REID: Tonight – everybody. Tonight, a new Fox News reported development
that the President himself personally intervened to lift a gag order on
someone with knowledge of the supposed deal in an apparent effort to give
the debunked story even more oxygen. The uranium claim is not the only
line of attack. Conservative media is also using the news that the Clinton
campaign help paid for the Steele dossier Alleging trump ties to Russia to
both discredit the claims in the dossier and undermine Mueller.

The news means the FBI`s role in the Russian interference must now be
investigated writes the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, the
sibling to Rupert Murdoch`s Fox News, adding with great umbridge that
Mueller could best serve the country by resigning to prevent further
political turmoil. So why is this counter-offensive happening now? Well,
for starters, both Sarah Huckabee Sanders and National Security Expert
Juliette Kayyem are predicting that Mueller could go public soon. Kayyem
predicting that something could drop before Thanksgiving and claiming this
is more than an obstruction charge. There is something big underlying the

Meanwhile, each day seems to bring new material for Mueller to work with.
Last night the Journal added new details to the bombshell revelation that
Trump linked data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica reached out to
WikiLeaks with its CEO contacting WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange to offer
help organizing the Clinton related e-mails the Web site was releasing.
Now, remember, these are the e-mails that our government says were stolen
by Russian aligned hackers during the campaign. So if this is true, it
means that the Trump campaign`s data firm was trying to help the Russians
disseminate anti-Clinton documents stolen by agents of a foreign

The Trump campaign is trying to play down its connection to Cambridge
Analytica, claiming in a statement that it relied only on data from the
RNC, “Any claims that voter data from any other source played a key role in
the victory are false.” But according to the campaign`s own FEC filings,
the Trump campaign paid Cambridge Analytica $5.9 million. And there were
dozens of profiles of the Mercer-funded Cambridge Analytica as the beating
heart of the Trump campaign`s data operation, including this BBC tour of
where the operation had been housed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cambridge Analytica was here, and so it was just a
line of computers, right? This is where their operation was and this is
kind of the brain of you know, the data. This was the data center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the data –this is the data center – this is
the center of the data center.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, that exactly right. Yes, it was. Yes, it was.


REID: I`m joined now by Business Insider Political Correspondent Natasha
Bertrand who`s been covering the Trump camp`s effort to distance itself
from Cambridge Analytica and MSNBC Contributor and former FBI Double Agent
Naveed Jamali, author of How To Catch A Russian Spy. Natasha, I`ll start
with you from where we ended. What`s the significance of this apparent tip
to contact WikiLeaks by Cambridge Analytica?

the first known instance that we`ve seen where the Trump campaign directly
reached out to WikiLeaks during the election. We saw that Trump throughout
the entire election was praising WikiLeaks, was telling Russia to please
find these 33,000 missing e-mails. And if true, which Julian Assange has
said that this was accurate, that the CEO of Cambridge Analytica did reach
out to him and then WikiLeaks basically denied their overtures. Then that
indicates that someone with a very, very important prominent role in the
Trump campaign, really the beating heart of the entire data operation was
trying to essentially conclude with Julian Assange who has been
characterized as a tool of the Kremlin.

REID: And give us a timeline of when this outreach was taking place, what
point in the campaign was it taking place?

BERTRAND: So, we don`t know exactly when exactly this happened. Cambridge
Analytica was hired in June 2016 and the e-mail was supposedly sent in late
July right after the Republican National Convention. And it was right
around the time I would note that you know, the DNC e-mails were released
by WikiLeaks. It was just before the kickoff of the DNC, the Democratic
National Convention, that WikiLeaks did this huge data dump of all the DNC
e-mails and that was right around the time allegedly Alexander Nix, the CEO
sent this e-mail to Julian Assange.

REID: Yes and so, Naveed, do you get the sense that revelations like that
that what Natasha was just describing might be the reason that you see this
almost sort of hysteria to get some other Russia related story that targets
Democrats? I mean, they`ve listed literally every Democrat they can think
of. Eric Holder should go down, James Comey should go down, Hillary
Clinton and even Bob Mueller. Do you think that those two things are

NAVEED JAMALI, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think they are. I mean, this – Joy,
this isn`t Watergate. This is stupid Watergate. The sheer grip of this
people is only countered by their incompetence. The fact – you`re
absolutely right. I think that there is something big coming. I think
that these people are worried and I think that the best thing they can do
is do a preemptive attack on whatever it is that`s coming. We don`t know
what that thing is. But the fact that these things are coming out now is
when there`s no reason to rebut anything is for lack of a better word just
curious. And I think it is exactly what you`re – what you`re leaning
towards, which is there is something coming, they know about this, and
they`re preemptively trying to distract the American public from something
fairly big that`s coming down the pike.

REID: And it`s actually – you get the sense that because you do have – I
mean, there`s – there were two different, sort of, lines of attack.
There`s the, we don`t have anything to do with Cambridge Analytica so
that`s not us. But then you have not only the Trump White House but also
people in and around the Donald Trump campaign saying, no, no, look at the
connections between these uranium deals and everyone from Eric Holder to
Robert Mueller. Do you get the sense that their ultimate target is

BERTRAND: So Trump last week said that he has no intention of firing
Robert Mueller. He kind of, you know, came out and said, no, let the
Russia investigation take its course in so many words. He basically said
that he doesn`t have any plans to impede the investigation because if he
gave any indication now that he was going to go after Mueller, then that
would be bad. That said, his allies around him have been working overtime
to really discredit Mueller. And you know, I was also thinking that you
know, the Trump administration kind of blew past this October 1st deadline
to implement the sanctions on Russia. So perhaps it`s not so much
something that they`re looking to preempt that`s happening in the future
but something that they`re trying to distract from that they didn`t do

REID: And that`s a good point Naveed because you do have an administration
that despite its sort of desperation to distance itself from the Russia
investigation, it`s been ostentatiously doing things like not implementing
the Russia sanctions. Do you get the sense that the– that this is a White
House that is nervous about his ties to Russia or that it sort of
flagrantly flaunting the fact that they don`t even feel that they need the
sanction in Russia?

JAMALI: I think – I think it`s both. And look, I went down to HPSCI and
I briefed the members HPSCI back in the Spring. I have to tell you, no
Republican showed –

REID: Tell us what HPSCI is. Explain what HPSCI is before –

JAMALI: Sorry. The House Intelligence Committee of which you know, Adam
Schiff and of course Nunes is part of who supposedly recused himself. From
that day forward, the fact that no Republican showed – this was a
nonpartisan brief on the dangers of Russia from a national security
standpoint. I was double agent under from under the George W. – under
Bush. There`s nothing partisan about that. The fact that none of them
could come or even send a staffer, from that day forward should have told
everyone they weren`t serious about actually considering that Russia is a
threat. Somehow this has become politicized. Somehow because it`s become
politicized, they`ve actually refused to acknowledge that there`s a Russian

Look, this wasn`t – Joy, this wasn`t Russian meddling in our election.
This was a Russian campaign against the United States. Meddling you know
minimizes what happened. And at the end of the day, they`re distracting
us, they`re throwing shots, they`re throwing flares to try to take away
from the fact that there was something significant that happened. It needs
to be fixed and there are most likely Americans who in some part aided the
Russians in that activity. And I think that that is very disturbing and
should be disturbing and should be given the full and honest treatment that
it – the severity of what is being alleged deserves.

REID: Yes, indeed. Natasha Bertrand and Naveed Jamali, thank you, both
for your time tonight. I appreciate it.

JAMALI: Thank you.

REID: Thank you. I`m now joined by former Federal Prosecutor Renato
Mariotti and MSNBC Justice and Security Analyst Matt Miller, former Chief
Spokesman at the U.S. Department of Justice. And Matt I`ll start with you.
Your take on what does seem to be an attempt by the White House and its
allies to create a parallel Russia-gate sort of the Russia-gate 2.0 that
targets literally every prominent Democrat that they can think of.

to the campaign when in the debate Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump a
puppet of Vladimir Putin. His answer was no puppet, you`re the puppet.
That`s basically the answer here. And I think there are two things that
work. One, Republicans in Congress basically have to get through every
news cycle. You know, there continue to be new revelations about the
President`s campaign and their interactions with Russia, interactions –
new revelations about what`s happened in the White House, and they don`t
have good answers for why they`re not aggressively investigating that.

So instead, they come up with these conspiracy theories that you know, get
them onto Fox News and repeated on Fox News. That`s the first thing. The
second thing and I think the much more strategic long-term plan they have
is to completely try to undermine the Mueller investigation so when it
ends, if the President – if Mueller finds that the President either knew
about something criminal that happened during the campaign or obstructed
justice in the White House, when that referral comes back from Mueller to
Congress in the form of an impeachment referral, they have done everything
they can to undermine his credibility with their base when it happens.

REID: Yes, and you know, Renato, that suggests that they think that there
might be something fairly serious coming out of the Mueller probe. What
would you guess that sort of that could be?

allegation that impacts the President that we know about right now is
obstruction. I mean, the – clearly he was the one who made the decision
to fire James Comey. And you notice, you know, you were talking about all
of the cast of characters that Fox News is trying to throw into this years
old story, and one of them was James Comey and he`s sort of out of place.
All these other people were prominent Democrats, James Comey is a career
law enforcement guy, but he`s thrown in there because they also have to
smear his name because you know, he is the person who was fired by the
President and that conduct is at the center of what probably is going to be
the most serious charge against the President of the United States.

REID: And Matt, they also through in Eric Holder. It`s not clear really
what his connection to their conspiracy theory might be and of course
Hillary Clinton. So they do seem to be sort of naming an all-star list of
people that – base that watches Fox News dislikes.

MILLER: Yes, that`s right. look, I think Eric Holder like Hillary
Clinton, you know, Republicans just can`t quit either of them. Hillary
Clinton, they`ve been going after for 25 years. Look, they – there`s this
crazy thing on the right now where all of the incentive structure is wrong.
Fox News raises a conspiracy theory. Sean Hannity is been going about this
for weeks. Republicans in Congress answer – you know, answer that
conspiracy theory, answer the Fox News coverage by then ginning up
subpoenas, by opening up investigations. They`re rewarded with more
coverage on Fox News. And there is really no incentive for them to
actually investigate the President when they live in this complete parallel
world that is really disconnected from reality. And so, if you turn on Fox
or you turn and look at Breitbart, you would think that Loretta Lynch and
Eric Holder were the ones that hacked the election, that helped steer it
towards Russia. It is – it is absolutely absurd.

REID: And you know, yes, I`ve – you know, I`ve taken to calling it Earth
2 sometimes. It`s sort of a completely different world. And Renato, I`m
wondering then as a legal matter if this kind of obfuscation where you`re
trying to sort of blur the lines between really who was talking to Russia,
who was really colluding with Russia, does that have any impact on the

MARIOTTI: I don`t think it does. I will tell you it`s actually a fairly
common technique by people who are subjects of a criminal investigation.
When I was a Federal Prosecutor, they always tried to go after me, they
tried to go after the investigation, they tried to create distractions and
it didn`t work. I think the difference here, unfortunately, is we`re
talking about The president of the United States and as you pointed out,
there`s this sort of propaganda machine behind him. I mean, I will tell
you, you know, I have – you know, I have family members who voted for
Donald Trump and watch Fox News and they do live in that parallel universe
and it`s a problem for us as Americans because we can`t come together and
deal with the same set of facts. And so, I think as Matt said, I think the
setup here is for a political process in Congress if there is, for example,
an impeachment referral you know, giving them cover not to act.

REID: Yes, absolutely. Well, Matt Miller, thank you for being here
tonight. We really appreciate it. Renato Mariotti, former Federal
Prosecutor who I understand may be getting back into the game. Tell us a
little bit about you. You got a future career change in mind.

MARIOTTI: I am. I guess I should tell you, Joy, I am going to be running
for Illinois Attorney General and I just made that decision. I`m making it
now. You know, it is definitely a big change for me but I feel like I
can`t sit on the sidelines. Donald Trump is doing too much to frankly you
know, trample on our rights and he`s you know, he is somebody that can only
be stopped by state`s Attorney General. And frankly, I think what we just
heard about today is part of that. Congress can`t be counted on to check
him. And so I don`t want to sit on the sidelines. So I`m going to be
running for that and I`m not a millionaire or insider so I do need people`s
support. My Web site is and you can check out my thread
on Twitter that`s being posted now.

REID: All right, Renato Mariotti, making news making the announcement
right here on ALL IN. Thank you very much, Sir. Good luck.

MARIOTTI: Thank you, Joy.

REID: Tonight Republicans talk of waging a GOP civil war, a fight for the
soul of the party. But if there was a war, it`s over and the victor is
Donald Trump. That`s in two minutes.


REID: Despite all you`ve heard about a Republican civil war raging in
Washington and around the country, all evidence points to the fact that
whatever war there was is already over and Donald Trump has won. Now he
and his allies are purging the last holdouts among Republicans who disagree
with his style. Few ever really disagreed with him on policy, leaving
behind only those in the GOP who are willing to publicly fall in line,
swear undying loyalty to Trump and look the other way at his abuses of the
norms that used to define the Presidency. Take John Cornyn of Texas. Here
he is justifying his endorsement of disgraced former Alabama Chief Justice
Roy Moore who`s running for Jeff Sessions` old Senate Seat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you see any of these comments when he said that
homosexual comments should be illegal. Do you agree with that?

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R0, TEXAS: I don`t have to – I don`t have to agree with
somebody to support them over the Democratic nominee. So this is a – I
support the nominee of my party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s also said that he didn`t think Keith Ellison
should be able to be sworn in because he`s a Muslim.

CORNYN: I`ve – you know, I have disagreements within my own family,
doesn`t mean I care for them less, or – so that`s – I support the nominee
of my party.


REID: There you go. No matter how outrageous a Republican might be, how
bigoted or ignorant, as long as they can win and if they vote with the
party, if they let Trump build his wall, get extravagant tax cuts to the
rich and take away health care from those who aren`t rich, they`re family.
David Weigel of the Washington Post recently wrote about McConnell allies,
declaring war on Steve Bannon, Asawin Suebsaeng of the Daily Beast wrote
that establishment Republicans agree Steve Bannon is kicking our bleep.
Thank you guys for being here. Dave, I will start with you. And I want to
– I want to play Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, the latter having been very
critical of Donald Trump during the campaign right before he said he would
be honored to help him win election. This is the two of them today doing a


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You know what the American
people want to see us do? Solve their problems. I don`t think the
American people want to see us up here yelling at each other. They want to
see us fighting for them.

REP. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: He was elected President. I`m going to
work with him for the good of our country and we`re going to try to get
good things done.


REID: You know, David, there is a civil war in the Republican Party. One
would think that Steve Bannon and friends would want guys like those to be
defeated, but they are not fighting Donald Trump. Those guys are absolute
utter loyalists to Donald Trump.

and one side keeps surrendering like that. What our story was about in
part was the Republican groups that do exist are trying to protect
incumbents like the Senate leadership fund which is Mitch McConnell`s
organization. They are trying to make Bannon toxic personally. They`re
sort of acknowledging that he is a famous figure with more clout than
frankly most of them when it comes to the Republican base in large part
because of conservative media. So they`re trying to make him toxic with
the moderate voters who still can decide Republican primaries in some
states. But that`s it. I mean, within the Senate there`s not much of that
going on. There are not people – Jeff Flake did not make his announcement
and then go down to campaign for a candidate of his liking in Alabama.
There`s just a bit of carping and then wishful thinking as you saw in those

REID: Yes, Asawin, you know, Tim Miller who I believe used to work for
Mitch McConnell tweeted out today. He`s a former – I`m sorry, the former
spokesperson for Jeb Bush. He says there`s a war for the future of the GOP
and the only person who seems to be fighting it is Steve Bannon. It`s
really dispiriting. You know, I`m sort of amused by the fact that in the
media you keep hearing that there`s this great war, but I think Dave is
right. If there`s a war, it`s sort of a rhetorical war against Steve
Bannon and just there`s utter obedience to Donald Trump.

look at this in terms of who has the President`s ear, the ear of the most
powerful man on the face of the planet, people who align themselves more
with folks like Mitch McConnell, so-called establishment figures, are in
open war with the President and having public feuds back and forth all the
time. Whereas Steve Bannon, even though he no longer works within Trump`s
west wing still speaks to the President on the phone fairly regularly to
give him advice and counsel.

My sources in the White House in and outside of the White House tell me
that in the past two or three weeks the frequency of the calls between
Steve Bannon and President Donald Trump has actually increased. So if
we`re looking at which side is winning and which side is losing, at least
for now and this could change, we`ll see how the 2018 race is turn out, but
it appears that Steve Bannon`s side is ascendant and even people on the
establishment side both in and out of Congress are starting to take note.

REID: Yes, and you know, Dave, it strikes me that you know, rather than
this being a war or a real purge, what you really basically have is Steve
Bannon just issuing a blanket threat. You will either be obedient in
public to Donald Trump, you can complain about him on background or
reporters if you want, but you will be publicly obedient or we`ll just
threaten you with the primaries. He doesn`t have to actually win any,
right, for that threat to have salient.

WEIGEL: Well, he`s already – he`s already won one. Although Bannon did
kind of jump to the front of the parade in Alabama, Roy Moore won that
primary for a number of reasons. He had been famous in the state for about
two decades. He`s starting another – he`s also very smartly I think
endorsed Republican candidates who are fairly well supported by the
establishment. In Breitbart, they`re taking credit for Josh Hawley IN
Missouri who was recruited by people like John Danforth, one of the most
prominent never Trump critics, the former Senator. Bannon and him are on
the same side.

What Bannon takes credit for and What Breitbart takes credit for is Hawley
coming out and saying maybe he won`t vote for McConnell for Majority
Leader. There`s just a constant marling state of argument about what the
party stands for. And in Bannon`s mind, this party stands for whatever
Donald Trump stands for at that moment. It stands for populism. When it
comes to the economic issues and when it comes to a lot of individual
candidate positions, they`re really negotiable. All that`s needed is for
these guys to be pro Trump and anti-McConnell. That`s how the
establishment is defined by somebody who was in the White House until
pretty recently.

REID: Yes, and Asawin, have you been able to find substantive differences
in terms of policy. You know, Jeff Flake and Cornyn may not like the style
of Donald Trump but do you see very many substantive differences between
then and him on policy?

SUEBSAENG: Well, between those guys and people like Donald Trump and Steve
Bannon, there certainly are substantive differences on hot-button issues
such as immigration. People like Trump and Bannon would like something far
more restrictive than people like Jeff Flake.

REID: But they`ll vote for it if it`s put in front of them, right?
They`ll vote for Trump`s version of it if it`s put in front of them?

SUEBSAENG: Well, we`ll see. We`ll see if Jeff Flake votes for a wall in
one form or another. But in terms of people like Mitch McConnell and Jeff
Flake, in terms of weaponizing the so-called Republican base for the 2018
races, I think what Steve Bannon and people of his ilk are counting on is
that Mitch McConnell is becoming a name synonymous with people like John
Boehner and even Barack Obama in terms of what people that the Republican
and Conservative base finds anathema. So we`ll see.

REID: Yes, there`s – using him as an electoral weapon. They`re all on
the same side. Dave Weigel, Asawin Suebsaeng, thank you very much for
being here. I appreciate you both. And coming up –

SUEBSAENG: Thank you.

REID: Thank you. The President finally addresses the opioid crises by
allocating no new money and telling people to simply not do drugs. What it
looks like when the President tries to fulfill a campaign promise, ahead.


REID: During the election candidate Trump talked a lot about the opioid
crisis. When he became President, he continue to use the tough talk in
addressing the epidemic referring to it as a national emergency.


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

But this is a national emergency and we are drawing documents now too so

Next week I`m going to be declaring an emergency, a national emergency on
drugs. The opioid is a tremendous emergency.

We`re going to be doing a very, very important meeting sometime in the very
short, very near future on opioids. In terms of declaring a national
emergency which gives us power to do things that you can`t do right now.


REID: So today when Donald Trump stepped forward to Present his
administration`s battle plan on a crises that last year alone took the
lives of 60,000 Americans, do you suppose he went ahead and declared it a
national emergency? We`ll give you the answer, next.


REID: Today, Donald Trump did not declare a national emergency on the
opioid crises, a technical term that would have immediately freed up
federal funds to fight a problem that experts say could cost billions of
dollars. Instead, he declared the opioid crises a public health emergency,
a different technical term, which basically makes it a little easier for
states to shift some very limited funds dedicated to other problems.

But Trump did use his press availability today to tell a personal story
designed to demonstrate his empathy for those facing addiction.


TRUMP: I had a brother, Fred, great guy, best looking guy, best
personality, much better than mine, but he had a problem. He had a problem
with alcohol, and he would tell me, don`t drink. And to this day I`ve
never had a drink. And I have no longing for it. I have no interest in
it. To this day I`ve never had a cigarette. Don`t worry, those are only
two of my good things. I don`t want to tell you about the bad things.

The fact is, if we can teach young people and people generally not to
start, it`s really, really easy not to take them. And I think that`s going
to end up being our most important thing.

Really tough, really big, really great advertising.


REID: Advertising.

Now, if that sounds exactly like First Lady Nancy Reagan`s Just Say No
campaign launched back when President Ronald Reagan declared a war on
drugs, that`s because it is exactly the same.

Trump today also announced that this Saturday is national prescription drug
take back day,
meaning on Saturday you can personally solve the opioid crises by simply
throwing away your pills at a designated collection site.


TRUMP: When you can safely turn in these dangerous and horrible drugs for
disposal, that will be a wonderful, wonderful period of time for you.


REID: Republican Congressman James Comber of Kentucky joins me now.

And Congressman Comber, thank you very much for being here. I want to
start with what you make of the fact that the president, despite having
said that the opioid crises is a national emergency, that he didn`t
actually declare it a national emergency, he declared a lower designation,
public health emergency. Is that good enough for you, sir?

REP. JAMES COMBER, (R) KENTUCKY: It is good enough. I think it`s a great
start. I applaud him for bringing attention to this. With his declaration
today, it accomplishes many things. I represent a rural area. It makes it
more accessible for telehealth to get access to be able to treat this
addiction in the rural areas. It frees up federal funds that can be
shifted from one agency into the fight against the drug epidemic, and the
president is using the bully pulpit to bring attention to this.

It`s great that we`re talking about this tonight

Everybody in America is talking about this. No one has a real clear answer
as to how to solve this, but we have to take a scientific approach and let
the metrics determine the best way to solve this and I think the president
did a great job today bringing this to the forefront.

REID: Well, you know, the bully pulpit is important and it is part of the
sort of ceremonial duties of the president. But as I`m sure taht you
understand fighting something like the opioid also epidemic takes money.
Federal data actually show, indeed, that Medicaid currently pays for about
one-fourth of all substance abuse treatment, that`s up from about one-
fourth in 1986. And this is from the Atlantic, “losing expanded Medicaid
coverage would absolutely hastring our operation to address
opioid addiction in eastern Kentucky,” that`s according to Cumberland
Valley district public health director Christie Green (ph). She said we`re
critically dependent on that.

And despite the dependence on Medicaid as a way that people who are the
grips of opioid addiction treat themselves, you, sir, just voted for a
budget that The Hill reports the following about: “there is a lot of
unjustifiable provisions in this budget, according to Democrats, on top of
massive tax cuts for the rich, it cuts vital national investments,
according to John Yarmuth, ranking member of the House Budget Committee and
your colleague from Kentucky, citing more than $4 trillion in mandatory
spending cuts including almost $2 trillion in cuts to Medicare and

How can you justify voting for a budget that cuts the very Medicaid funds
needed to treat the opioid addicted in your state?

COMBER: Well, there are people that are addicted to opioids that aren`t on
Medicaid, so this
affects a large group of people.

REID: But the majority of those who are addicted utilize Medicaid in their
treatment. How can you justify cutting those funds?

COMBER: And we`re still going to have Medicaid. In Kentucky, we have a
Medicaid problem where we have too many people on Medicaid, but that`s
another story.

With respect to this, I supported the 21st Century cures act. I came to
congress last November during the lame duck session. That was the first
major bill I voted for. That provided $1 billion worth of funding that
would be sent to the states to battle the opioid crises, $1 billion over
two years. So I have supported increased drug funding.

But you know, it`s going to take more than money. We`ve spent a lot of
money in America to fight this problem. It`s only getting worse. I think
we have to step back. And I think that the president can lead this as far
as trying to bring the federal government in line with the state government
and local governments. We have to have everybody working together – the
hospitals, the courts, law enforcement, everybody`s going to have to work
together on this and we can do this without continually increasing

REID: Well, hospitals actually rely on federal money, Medicaid money, in
part of what they do. In Kentucky, 17 of the counties in your state tie
for the highest rate of overdose death. Medicaid covers two-fifths of the
population in five of your counties. You have over 215,000 people on
Medicaid. Do you believe that these folks can be treated without Medicaid

You`re saying it takes more than money, but if you take the money away, how
will those people be treated?

COMBER: Well, we`re not taking the money away.

REID: You voted for a budget that cuts it.

COMBER: It`s cuts – the Medicaid budget is a very large budget, and what
the president did today would allow transferring more money. We have a
money issue in America. We have a $20 trillion debt. We have to tighten our
belts. It`s unfortunate, but there are other avenues to fight drug abuse.

I`m a big believer in faith-based initiatives for recovery to help combat
drug abuse.

REID: But doesn`t, really quickly, I know we`re out of time, but doesn`t
the budget that was just passed increase the debt? My understanding is the
debt will go up because of this budget.

COMBER: This budget will lead to tax reform.

REID: How does that help the deficit? That increases the deficit. If you -

COMBER: It increases the deficit if you assume there`s not going to be
growth. I believe that there`s going to be growth. I believe that we`re
going to allow every American to have more money, every businesses to have
more money.

In my district 80% of the people do not itemize on their tax returns. We
are going to double the
standard deduction with tax reform in my poor district and I believe that`s
going to help lead to more money in the economy, to more growth, to more
jobs being created.

And one of the issues with the drug epidemic is it`s a direct correlation
to poverty. Most people that are on Medicaid –

REID: Are poor and need Medicaid funding and if you cut it they`ll have
less help. We`re out of time. We`ll debate this another time. Thank you
very much. I really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you Congressman
James Comber.

COMBER: Thank you very much.

REID: Coming up, shades of Charlottesville as the president frames
Virginia`s race for
governor about preserving heritage. We`ll discuss that ahead.

Plus, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.


REID: Thing One tonight, this is supposed to be the day, the deadline set
25 years ago by
congress to unseal the final documents related to the assassination of
President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

But late tonight, Donald Trump delayed the release of thousands of those
files. Of the 35,000 documents expected to be posted, the president
approved just 2800 pages for release. The remainder will undergo a six-
month review process after intelligence agencies called for selected

Which leads to the burning question that will continue to occupy the minds
of historians and conspiracy theorists alike. What will we learn from the
last batch of unreleased documents, and does it
relate to this?


TED CRUZ, SENATOR: Donald Trump alleges that my dad was involved in
assassinating JFK.


REID: Ted Cruz`s prediction is Thing Two in 60 seconds.


REID: Remember this moment in U.S. political history?


father. I met him once. I think he`s a lovely guy. I think he`s a lovely
guy. All I did is point out the fact
that on the cover of the National Enquirer there`s a picture of him and
crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast.

CRUZ: This is nuts.

TRUMP: His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald`s being, you
know, shot.

CRUZ: Donald`s source for this is the National Enquirer.

TRUMP: I`ve always said why didn`t the National Enquirer get the Pulitzer
Prize for Edwards and O.J. Simpson and all of these things?

The picture was taken of him and Lee Harvey Oswald and they didn`t deny the

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cruz denied it.

TRUMP: I don`t think they denied it.

It`s a little hard to do. It looks like him. There was a picture on the
front page of the National Enquirer, which does have credibility, and
that`s the only thing I know.


REID: Yeah. That happened. And then he became president.

Well, today Senator Cruz was asked by NBC if he hopes the new JFK documents
might help clear up this matter.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you confident that the release of the JFK files
vindicate your father?

CRUZ: I look forward to seeing what`s in the files, and you know, politics
is a strange process.
There are ludicrous claims and then there are claims that go beyond
ludicrous, and this one falls into the latter category.



TRUMP: Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the
statue of Robert R. Lee. So, this week it`s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that
Stone Wall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it
George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You
really do have to ask yourself where does this stop?

You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that
were very fine people on both sides.


REID: It was just over two months ago that Donald Trump set off a
firestorm with those comments, defending and even identifying with the
white nationalist marchers in Charlottesville who clashed with counter-
protesters and chanted Nazi slogans.


[ chanting ]


REID: Trump stood by those demonstrators even after one of their ranks
plowed his car into
a crowd of people, injuring dozens and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Amid the uproar over those comments by the President of the United States,
few would have expected his coddling of the Nazi
curious far-right would become a Republican rallying cry, particularly not
in the very same state where the violence took place. But that`s precisely
what`s happening in the race for governor of Virginia. And we`ll tell you
about it right after this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ralph Northam wants to take down Virginia`s Civil War

RALPH NORTHAM, VIRGINIA STATE SENATOR: I will do everything that I can to
remove the statues at the state level.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ralph Northam will take our statues down. Ed Gillespie
will preserve them.

and he`s for taking them down. And that`s a big difference in November.


REID: There`s an important detail that you might have missed in that ad
for Republican Ed
Gillespie`s Virginia gubernatorial campaign. That statue in the ad, the one
he`s talking about preserving,
is almost identical to the statue of Robert E. Lee that drew all those
white nationalist protesters to Charlottesville in August, resulting in
violent clashes and the death of one young woman.

Gillespie is now running on the white nationalist`s message and he`s doing
it with the full
backing of the White House, with the President of the United States
tweeting today, “Ed Gillespie will turn the really bad Virginia economy
numbers around and fast, strong on crime, he might even save our
great statue/heritage.”

Gillespie might not seem like the most obvious advocate for the confederacy
or its alt-right defenders, born and raised in New Jersey, he`s the
ultimate Washington insider. A former RNC chairman and White House adviser
to George W. Bush, and a pall who went on to found his own
corporate lobbying firm.

Once the architect of Bush`s pro-immigration and compassionate conservative
platform, Gillespie is now running menacing ads, tying his Democratic
opponent to what are portrayed as violent, Latin American criminals. The
old scary brown people gamut.

It might be working. The overall polling average has Gillespie running 4
points behind Democrat Ralph Northam. The most recent poll has him up by

Jason Johnson is politics editor at The Root and MSNBC contributor, and
Sarah Rumpf, who is a Republican strategist opposed to Donald Trump.

So Sarah, I`m going to start with you, it was a tweet by a former Romney
adviser, Mitt Romney adviser, Gabe Schoenfeld that said, “I worked with Ed
Gillespie on the Romney campaign, a great guy now covering himself in
filth.” What does it say about the Republican party that one must cover
themselves in that alt-right filth, as Schoenfeld put it, in order to run
for governor of Virginia, of all

SARAH RUMPH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I do want to draw an important
distinction, because Donald Trump is rightfully getting criticized for his
“fine people” comment, because what happened in Charlottesville was not a
bunch of history buffs and Confederate War reenactors showing up. It was an
alt-right, white supremacist rally, it was organized by those groups, the
National Policy Institute, which is Richard Spencer`s group, the Daily
Stormer, a white supremacist website, and other groups like that. That`s
what that was. So when Trump called them “fine people,” that`s why everyone
got mad and criticized it.

Now, that does not mean that everyone who is hesitant to take down the
statues is a white
supremacist. That`s – I don`t think that`s fair to say. And…

REID: Go on.

RUMPH: When I`m looking at this, I honestly – because we have this same
issue in my hometown. My middle school was Robert E. Lee middle school and
our mascot was the Rebels, and our local community decided and they renamed
the school, it`s College Park middle, it`s the Bulldogs now. That`s great.

This is something I think both the Democrats and Republicans are wrong.
Whether you support taking the statues down, the majority of people who
want the statues taken down want it done orderly,
lawfully. They don`t want vandals in the middle of the night blowing them
up. And if you`re someone who wants to preserve them, you`re going to feel
better about it if it`s something that is discussed,
transparently and openly. If it`s local referendums and local initiatives,
as much as possible. And having a fair discussion in the local communities.
Have the colleges where these things are hosted, the local
parks, the cities, ecetera.

REID: All right, we`re not going into a whole fight, though. We`re talking
about this particular thing and I think Jason wants in.

JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT: Joy, this is the thing, this is what`s
entertaining to me about this. The ad says, Ralph Northam is going to take
down our statues. He`s not talking about me! He`s not talking about you. He
says “our.” He`s talking about racists and bigots. People who see these
things as
symbolically important, not history buffs.

And what Ed Gillespie is doing, which is extremely problematic, is he`s
decided, look, since I
can`t seem to win this race, since I`m still four to five points behind by
focusing on policy, I`m going to throw all of this red meat out there for
the racists and the demagogues. I`m going to talk about MS-13,
I`m going to talk about sanctuary cities, when there are no sanctuary
cities in Virginia and I`m going to use all of these distractions other
than focusing on the fact that you have two mainstream center-right
Democrats and Republicans running against each other and he wants to cloak
himself in Trumpness.

And that, you know, anyone who is running for governor who wants to use a
terrorist attack
symbolism in order to get elected is not somebody I would want to vote for.

REID: And to that point, Sarah, you do have a situation where this is
where Charlottesville took
place. Virginia is, you know, a particularly, you know, sort of fraught
place to have this kind of message. The Virginia Republican party tweeted
and then took down a tweet and apologized for
tweeting, “Ralph Northam has turned his back on his own family`s heritage
in demanding monument removal.”

This is a pointed attack, because of Charlottesville. Isn`t it clear that
Ed Gillespie is trying to ride that Charlottesville negative wave into

RUMPH: I mean, I think that it is a bit of a stretch to say that he is
trying to ally with these
alt-right people…

REID: Then why`s he doing it? He`s from New Jersey.

RUMPH: He lives in Virginia. He`s lived in Virginia for a very long time.
He`s been active in Virginia Republican politics.

REID: Has he been active in pro-confederate politics. Pro-confederacy,
sort of defense
of the confederate flag and that kind of thing? I don`t remember that in
his history.

RUMPH: You know, I`m not an expert on the intricacies of Virginia
politics, but I do want to talk about this MS-13 angle because I do find
that very disappointing. Ed Gillespie on criminal justice
reform has an excellent record and his positions are very good. They`re
very much in line with the conservative criminal justice reform that has
been successful in Texas and other places.

REID: Right.

RUMPH: Policies that are directing people to –

REID: We`re running out of time. Let me give Jason –

RUMPH: So we`re taking this angry MS-13 ad is the wrong message.

JOHNSON: At the end of the day, if you actually want to get elected
governor in a state, it`s not
going to be about Trump, it`s going to be about what you can do. You have
to run on policy. And when you can`t win on policy, you see candidates
doing what like Ed Gillespie is doing. I`m going to use race, I`m going to
use dog whistles, I`m going to use whatever I can because I can`t win on
substance. And that`s a disturbing thing too many Republicans are falling
for. Stick to policy. You can win that way.

REID: Well, we`ll see. Jason Johnson, Sarah Rumph, thank you very much.
Sorry we were truncated on time.

That is All In for this evening. And of course, you can always catch me
here at 10:00 a.m. eastern for my show, A.M. Joy.

The Rachel Maddow Show starts right this second. Good evening Rachel.


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