A.G. Sessions testifies in front of the House Transcript 11/14/17 All In with Chris Hayes

Ted Lieu, Ned Price, Frank Figliuzzi

Date: November 14, 2017
Guest: Ted Lieu, Ned Price, Frank Figliuzzi

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being
with us. “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes starts right now.



March 2016 meeting at the Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended –

HAYES: Jeff Sessions returns, but his memory does not.

SESSIONS: I do not recall such a conversation.

HAYES: Tonight, the House interrogates the Attorney General on Trump and
the Russians.

SESSIONS: He`s not Russian either, you know.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: You understand, Sir, that I get to ask
the questions –

HAYES: And Congressman Ted Lieu on whether Jeff Sessions perjured himself.

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: So I`m going to ask you, Mr. Sessions, were
you lying then when you filled out the form or are you lying now?

HAYES: Plus –

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: He`s obviously not fit to be
in the United States Senate.

HAYES: Roy Moore vows to stick it out as even Steve Bannon has second
thoughts. And why Democrats are ringing alarm bells as tax reform turns
into a sneaks attack to repeal ObamaCare.

SEN. RON WYDEN (R), OREGON: This just flew in literally out of nowhere in
the last 20 minutes.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. There is a lot Jeff
Sessions doesn`t remember about the Trump campaign and its various contacts
with Russian agents. But the one thing he does remember beyond a doubt was
his own attempt to head off anything improper. Today the Attorney General
returned to testify on Capitol Hill, this time before the House Judiciary
Committee, where he was once again compelled to correct the record about
his own role in the Trump campaign`s interactions with Russian officials.
With Sessions first time testifying under oath since newly unsealed court
documents revealed that he was informed during the campaign of efforts by
George Papadopoulos, a Campaign Foreign Policy Adviser to connect with
senior members of the Russian government.

Both Sessions and the President attended a March 2016 meeting of the
campaign`s National Security Committee, which was chaired by Sessions,
where, according to those documents, when Papadopoulos introduced himself
to the group, he stated, and I`m quoting here in sum and substance, that he
had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate
Trump and President Putin. But in previous appearances on Capitol Hill, as
recently as last month, the Attorney General denied any knowledge
whatsoever of contacts between Russian proxies and members of the Trump


SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: You don`t believe that surrogates from the
Trump campaign had communications with the Russians. Is that what you`re

SESSIONS: I did not and I`m not aware of anyone else that did.


HAYES: OK. Undergoing a fierce grilling today by Democratic lawmakers,
Sessions explained he didn`t remember Papadopoulos` comments until he read
about them in the press. And while the Attorney General`s memory remained
hazy on the specifics of what was proposed, it was crystal clear on
Sessions` own response.


SESSIONS: I do now recall that the March 2016 meeting at the Trump Hotel,
that Mr. Papadopoulos attended but I have no clear recollection of the
details of what he said at that meeting.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Did anyone else at that meeting,
including then-candidate Trump, react in any way to what Mr. Papadopoulos
had presented?

SESSIONS: I don`t recall.

NADLER: OK. So your testimony is that neither Donald Trump nor anyone
else at the meeting expressed any interest in meeting the Russian President
or any concerns about communications between the campaign and the Russians.

SESSIONS: I don`t recall it. I remember the pushback. I remember that he
suggested an ability to negotiate with Russians or others, and I thought he
had no ability or it would not be appropriate for him to do so.


HAYES: Sessions` appearance today follows a long-standing pattern among
members of the Trump orbit. Over and over again they`ve outlined a
thoroughly exculpatory version of events only to have new information come
out directly contradicting the initial account. And still, they insist
there`s a new perfectly innocent explanation. Just last night, for
instance, the Atlantic broke the story that Donald Trump Jr. was secretly
corresponding with WikiLeaks in the run-up to the election, refuting the
strong denial by then-Vice Presidential Candidate Mike Pence that WikiLeaks
and the Trump campaign were in cahoots.

It`s the same pattern we saw that Don Jr.`s shifting stories on his meeting
with the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower, with Carter Page`s evolving account
of meeting with government – Russian government officials during his
summer 2016 trip to Moscow and with the Attorney General`s own
inconsistencies about meetings with the Russian Ambassador. Recall that
Sessions testified under oath at his confirmation hearing. He did not have
communications with Russians during the campaign. Only for the Washington
Post to reveal later that, well, he had, in fact, met with the Russian
Ambassador twice, meetings he failed to disclose on security clearance
forms. He was asked about that discrepancy today by Democratic
Congressman, Ted Lieu.


LIEU: You did have communications with the Russians last year, is that
right? Just yes or no?

SESSIONS: I had a meeting with the Russian Ambassador, yes.

LIEU: Great. That`s exactly the opposite answer you gave under oath to
U.S. Senate, so again, either you`re lying to the U.S. Senate or lying to
the U.S. House of Representatives.


time of the gentleman has expired. The witness can answer any further if
he chooses to.

SESSIONS: I won`t repeat it, Mr. Chairman, but I hope the Congressman
knows, and I hope all of you know, that my answer to that question I did
not meet with the Russians was explicitly responding to the shocking
suggestion that I, as a surrogate, was meeting on a continuing basis with
Russian officials and the implication was to impact the campaign in some
sort of nefarious way. And all I did was meet in my office with the
Ambassador, which we didn`t discuss anything like that. So I just want to
say, I appreciate the Congressman`s right. I guess he can say his free
speech. He can`t be sued here. So I just – my response. I`m sorry that
– that`s my response.


HAYES: Congressman Ted Lieu joins me now. What is your belief? You asked
the question. Do you believe Jeff Sessions was forthright and truthful
today before your Committee?

LIEU: Thank you, Chris, for your question. Absolutely not. And what`s
remarkable is the American public is watching in plain view the Attorney
General of the United States lie under oath. He made several statements
today that were different than the statements he made under oath to the
U.S. Senate just a few weeks ago. That`s not acceptable.

HAYES: What do you mean? What specifically?

LIEU: So before the U.S. Senate, he said he was unaware of any Trump
surrogate having communications with the Russians. Today he admitted under
oath that George Papadopoulos, who, by the way, worked under him for the
National Security Team under the Trump campaign, had communications with
the Russians, and, in fact, he shot down a proposal that George wanted for
Trump and Putin to meet. That is very different than what he told the U.S.

HAYES: Well, let me give his version, right? The version that the
Attorney General has entered into evidence is, that he didn`t remember that
when asked by the Senate that when he read the press reports, he did
remember the one detail that he was the one that pushed back against the

LIEU: You know, if this was the only time that happened, maybe it might be
somewhat believable but it`s not. We`ve seen this pattern happen before.
So before the U.S. Senate earlier this year, he said he had no
communications with the Russians, just a flat-out statement. That was
wrong because as you noted, the free press showed he had multiple
communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The reason that`s
so important is because Ambassador Kislyak was known in the U.S.
Intelligence Committee as a master spy and a recruiter of spies. That
would be a very important fact for people to know. And today was also seen
that Jeff Sessions lied on a security clearance form, again denying any
contacts with Russian foreign government officials.

HAYES: Again, though, he is saying these are omissions. I mean, the – I
know you are saying he`s lying. And I take that from you but the account
that he`s giving, which is this sort of rolling account of a very, very
spotty memory. What I`m hearing from you is, you simply do not believe the
Attorney General of the United States. You think he came before your
Committee today and lied under oath.

LIEU: Yes. It`s not just one statement. If it was just one statement,
maybe, but on a security clearance form, he made a false statement about
not having any contacts for the last seven years with a foreign government
official. He gave his response to that he interpreted differently. Fine.
But then he had another false statement before the Senate and then another
false statement before the Senate and today he gave different (INAUDIBLE)
elements of that.

HAYES: What do you make of his lying? I mean, he took great umbrage when
he came before a Senate Committee that anyone would impugn his motivations
or his integrity. He took umbrage today at you and said because you`re
where you are you can`t be sued, which is – which is true, in a technical
sense. What do you make of that? Do you think that`s sincere?

LIEU: I don`t. And by the way, I do have an advice for the Attorney
General. He said I don`t recall so many times that I think he should go
see a doctor because he has severe memory loss.

HAYES: All right, Congressman Ted Lieu, thanks for your time tonight.

Ned Price was Spokesman for the National Security Council under President
Obama and Analyst at the CIA. Vivian Salama was – reports on Politics and
National Security for the NBC News. Vivian, let me start with you.
Sessions knows what he`s doing in a general sense at these committee
meetings, at these hearings. And still, it seemed like a pretty rough go
up there.

ultimately, the question here that we`re dealing with is credibility.
Let`s just say that he didn`t remember what was going on. It really raises
serious questions about the type of operation they were running during the
campaign. That someone in his position of authority did not document and
keep track of these meetings, which had very serious implications for the
campaign. This is not, you know –

HAYES: This is a really good point.

SALAMA: This is a really – these are really important issues. And when
we`re talking about meetings with foreign dignitaries, there`s always a
fine line that you walk between appropriate meetings that campaigns
generally carry out to, you know, for fact-finding when they`re doing that
and crossing the line. And someone like in Jeff Sessions` position at that
time should have been keeping very close tabs. You can`t dismiss someone
like Papadopoulos who is sitting in those meetings and –

HAYES: Show the picture.

SALAMA: – a junior staffer. He`s there. Even if he is a junior staffer,
he`s still a member of that campaign. And he – and there`s still
accountability for his actions and for what everybody else knew at that

HAYES: It`s a really good point because it dovetails something that
Sessions said today, Ned which is basically – and this is – Steve Bannon
said I think a week ago, you know, our campaign could barely collude with
the RNC. And then you saw Sessions today basically saying, it was so
chaotic, that it`s inconceivable. We were such amateurs. We were so
bumbling. It was so all over the place, it`s inconceivable that we could
have colluded with the Russians.

Well, Chris, I`d say a couple of things there. First of all, this March
31st meeting that we`re talking about, it really strains credulity that
Attorney General Jeff Sessions doesn`t recall it or at least didn`t recall
it before he was reminded. This was the first meeting of the National
Security and Foreign Policy Committee that he chaired. He built this
committee. He built much of President – then-Candidate Donald Trump`s
foreign policy vision. So it really seems improbable that he didn`t
recognize this meeting before the picture surfaced and he was reminded of

But second of all, you know, they`ve used this defense that the campaign
was chaotic. It was fly by the seat of your pants, that there were some
amateurs involved. Well, my response there would be that collusion can
have all of those flavors, as well. It could be amateurish, it could be
chaotic, it could be fly by the seat of your pants. And frankly, when you
put the pieces together, that`s exactly what we have seen, a real hand-
handed effort, it seems, to collude with the Russians.

HAYES: You know, one of the other things that Sessions did today that I
thought was interesting was a sort of kind of frustration, resentment that
he`s being asked to recall these very specific things from over a year ago.
And it occurred to me like you run Department of Justice. Assistant U.S.
Attorneys are doing this all across the country every day and every
interview they do with people, asking them very specific questions about
what were you doing a year ago.

SALAMA: Sure. (INAUDIBLE) what I actually remembered when we were
thinking about this is Comey going to testify earlier this year and talking
about the meticulous notes he would take after every single meeting because
that`s what a prosecutor does, that`s what attorneys do is just to document
and have any proof if later on any of this is thrown back at them, they
have –

HAYES: It`s a really good – it`s a great point about the sort of culture
of compliance or not, right? Because one of the things we have seen,
whether or not they colluded or not, Ned, is that whenever someone said,
hey, are you interested in something sketchy, there`s a kind of like, well,
maybe they mentioned something sketchy from the Trump folks. There`s not a
– like, well, no, I certainly shouldn`t do that and now I will write a
memo about why I said no. And that gets me to this WikiLeaks disclosure
yesterday which I want to get your thoughts on that Don Jr. is DM-ing with
Julian Assange during the campaign.

PRICE: Well, exactly. And so, I think what we learned yesterday really
brings this WikiLeaks connection much closer and actually to the center of
the campaign. Previously you know, we were aware of Roger Stone`s, whether
it was a premonition, whether someone within WikiLeaks had told him that
John Podesta`s time in the barrel would be coming, however, he knew, he
knew it. But Roger Stone was always this character who was out in the far-
flung Netherworld of the Trump Campaign.

Of course, that is not the case with Don Jr. Don Jr. corresponding with
WikiLeaks really brings this to the center. And to my mind, this is one of
those key smoking guns, along with the Trump Tower meeting from June of
last year. This really shows that the Trump campaign was amenable to an
approach by WikiLeaks, and it also really destroys any notion that
WikiLeaks was this impartial truth-teller and not an instrument of the
Russian government an instrument of the Russian government that Don Jr. was
all too happy to cooperate with.

HAYES: Eric Swalwell had a question for Jeff Sessions, do you love
WikiLeaks, quoting the President. He said no. It seems there – as much
as Sessions was close to the President, it increasingly into the case there
are – there`s a fair amount of daylight between the two men as time goes

SALAMA: The President called him beleaguered a couple months ago. I mean,
he really doesn`t beat around the bush. They have been definitely growing
further apart. The President has not disguised that he is very
disappointed in Jeff Sessions for a number of reasons. A., because he
didn`t – because he recused himself in the Russian investigation.
President Trump wanted to see him sort of full-fledged fighting the good
fight for him and the Justice Department. But there`s a number of other
things too. So many executive orders that the President wanted to see
carried through, you know, basically the ball was in Jeff Sessions` court.
The travel ban, immigration, so many things that he wanted to hit hard on
that the justice system basically has made it difficult to do and he blames
Jeff Sessions for so much of that. So it`s all snowballing now.

HAYES: Yes, it will be interesting to see how that relationship continues.
Ned Price and Vivian Salama, thank you, both.

Next, Jeff Sessions, as Vivian was just saying, faces pressure from
Republicans in Congress, and the President to appoint a special prosecutor
to investigate Hillary Clinton. Sessions` fiery response to tough
questions, in just two minutes.



Attorney General to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation
because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. People have
been – their lives have been destroyed for doing one-fifth of what you`ve
done and it`s a disgrace.


HAYES: On Capitol Hill today, Congressman Luis Gutierrez reminded Trump`s
Attorney General Jeff Sessions about that campaign promise.


REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: He said he as the Attorney General, you
to set a special prosecutor. That`s what he said. It`s a quote. I didn`t
make it up. What do you say? Are you going to keep that campaign promise?

SESSIONS: I will fulfill my responsibilities.

GUTIERREZ: Are going to – are you going to keep that campaign promise?
It`s just yes or no. It`s a promise that your boss – he hired you to
fulfill. Are you going to –

SESSIONS: We will comply with the law with regard to special prosecutor

GUTIERREZ: Are you going to appoint one as he promised during the
campaign? He`s reminded you a couple of times in a few of his tweets, that
that`s what he wants you to do.

SESSIONS: I will fulfill my duty as Attorney General.


HAYES: It`s a good question because there is now a concerted effort on the
right involving Congressional Republicans, Trump T.V. and the President
himself to pressure Sessions to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate
Hillary Clinton. Thereby, I think they think, distracting from the Mueller


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s time, folks. It`s time to shut it down, turn
the tables and lock her up. That`s what I said. I actually said it. Lock
her up.


HAYES: The President has been publicly pressing Sessions to investigate
Clinton, tweeting, everybody is asking why the Justice Department, FBI,
isn`t looking to do all the dishonesty going on with crooked Hillary and
the Dems. And at some point, the Justice Department and the FBI must do
what is right and proper. Yesterday, the DOJ replied to reputed letters
from Congressional Republicans on that very matter, saying, the Attorney
General has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues,
raised in your letters and then advise Sessions about whether a special
counsel was needed. Today, Sessions battled members of his own party, over
whether appointing a prosecutor to investigate the President`s chief
political rival, based on right-wing conspiracy theories, was a good idea.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: What`s it going to take to actually get a
special counsel?

SESSION: It would take a factual basis that meets the standards of the
appointment of a special counsel. We will use the proper standards, and
that`s what the only thing I can tell you, Mr. Jordan.

JORDAN: Well, I appreciate –

SESSIONS: You can have your idea, but sometimes we have to study what the
facts are and to evaluate whether it meets the standard it requires a
special counsel.

JORDAN: Well said. So let me ask you this. If in fact – it sure looks
like a major political party was working with the federal government to
then turn an opposition research document, equivalent of some National
Enquirer story into an intelligence document, take that to the FISA Court
so that they could then get a warrant to spy on American associate of
President Trump`s campaign. That`s what it looks like. And I`m asking
you, doesn`t that warrant, in addition to all the things we know about
James Comey in 2016, doesn`t that warrant – naming a second special
counsel as 20 members of this Committee wrote you three-and-a-half months
ago, asking you to do.

SESSIONS: I would say “looks like” is not enough basis to appoint a
special counsel.


HAYES: Joining me now, Frank Figliuzzi who is Assistant Director for
Counterintelligence at the FBI under then-Director Robert Mueller. Let me
start with this. What would it mean to the FBI and Department of Justice
if the Attorney General under pressure from the President and his allies
were to appoint a special counsel specifically to investigate his chief
political rival, as had been promised and as the President said he was
going to do.

Listen, it would be a complete distortion of how you appoint a special
counsel and why you appoint a special counsel. Let me give three reasons
why we`re unlikely to see a special counsel appointed here. And if we do,
something really will smell badly. Number one, the purchase of the – from
the Russian – by the Russian firm of Uranium One was thoroughly vetted,
analyzed and approved lawfully by the Committee on Foreign Investment in
the United States, CFIUS. I used to actually back bench the CFIUS meetings
for DOJ when I was the Assistant Director at FBI. There`s a unit at FBI
Headquarters that does nothing but vet national security issues in foreign
purchases. They`re career professionals. Nobody is politically appointed.

Number two, the money that allegedly flowed that we keep hearing about
through the Clinton Foundation as some kind of quid pro quo actually flowed
prior to Hillary Clinton becoming Secretary of State. In fact, the major
donor that we`re hearing about divested his interest in Uranium One three
years before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state. And then thirdly,
that all-important conflict that you need to see somewhere to appoint a
special counsel simply doesn`t exist. Nine agencies approved it. In 2015,
several FBI field offices opened cases on the Clinton Foundation, because
they read a book called The Clinton Cache. FBI Headquarters consolidated
all those cases, gave them to federal – career federal prosecutors at DOJ
and determined conclusively that there was no evidence of a quid pro quo.

HAYES: That is – OK, so this is a great point. I`m glad you spelled it
out and it can be a little dizzying what the actual story is. So the point
here is that the factual bases just do not merit a special counsel, A. B,
an excellent point –

FIGLIUZZI: There`s no there, there.

HAYES: Yes, an excellent point you just made, which I had almost forgotten
about, the sort of Mercer-backed Clinton cash book which is the same people
that fund Breitbart and Bannon paid for this book. That was investigated
by the FBI already. They have already been through that.

FIGLIUZZI: Yes, been there, done that. DOJ and FBI career professionals
said it`s not there.

HAYES: Do you trust – I mean, there was a lot of interpretation yesterday
about that Sessions letter. At first, I think people thought – Fox News
ran with a headline that Department of Justice doesn`t rule out special
prosecutor as if like, well, it`s just around the corner. I read the
letter and others read the letter as Sessions essentially between the lines
saying there is nothing for us to do here but thank you, Congressman, for
your input. Which of those two did you read it as?

FIGLIUZZI: Yes, I read it the same way. He`s doing what you do when you
get multiple members of Congress requesting you to review something.
You`ve got to review it. And he`s telling them, I`m going to review it,
I`m going to give it to the career professionals. But I have to tell you,
based on my experience, it`s not there. And the ultimate outcome is going
to be that there`s no special counsel necessary.

HAYES: It`s hard to answer this question because we`ve so detached, I
think, from precedent in how we think about the role between the President
and Department of Justice and how the President comports himself. But when
you were working at the FBI, I mean, what would it meant if the President
was publicly hectoring his Attorney General to open an investigation of his
chief political rival?

FIGLIUZZI: Well, I can tell you this. 25 years in counterintelligence, I
used to work against countries whose leaders actually intervened in
judicial and investigative decisions. And we don`t want to be those
countries. It would be a complete distortion of how justice is supposed to
work and the checks and balances that exist in our government.

HAYES: What I hear from you though is, as someone who did work there and
was a career person that you have – you have sort of confidence that as we
watch – because we`re watching right now a tremendous amount of pressure
being put institutionally on that – on main justice. I mean, it`s very
obvious. I mean, you`ve got, you know, Jeanine Pirro who we just showed
you a clip of advising the President, going to the White House, the
President himself, all his allies on Congress. What I`m hearing from you,
you`re confident of the institutional heft of that place, even under the
President`s ally and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resist that

FIGLIUZZI: I know these people. I know the career professionals who
investigate national security conflicts within foreign purchases. And I –
and I know they`re doing the right thing. Now, the big question is, will
the leadership of DOJ, will the Attorney General do the right thing with
regard to the appointment of a special counsel. And I`m telling you, the
right thing, based on facts, is that there`s no need for one.

HAYES: All right, Frank Figliuzzi, thank you for being with me tonight. I
appreciate it.


HAYES: Meanwhile in the U.S. Capitol tonight, Republicans are literally
running away from questions about Roy Moore.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe Roy Moore?

REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: I believe that the Democrats will do great
damage to our country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you still believe Roy Moore?

BROOKS: I believe that the Democrats will do great damage to our country
on a myriad of issues.


HAYES: Our old friend Mo Brooks stuck in an (INAUDIBLE) or a nightmare in
Washington. Wait until he hears the insanely anti-Semitic robocall
floating around Alabama today. The latest in the Roy Moore saga, next.



REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Leigh Corfman, Wendy Miller, Debbie
Wesson Gibson, Gloria Thacker. These young women have accused this
individual, Judge Moore, who is running for a federal office, the United
States Senate, of child sexual activity. Do you believe these young women?

SESSIONS: I am – have no reason to doubt these young women.


HAYES: Jeff Sessions is part of what seems to be a growing consensus among
Capitol Hill Republicans that child molestation, sexual assault allegations
against Roy Moore, their party`s nominee for the Alabama Senate Race, are
credible. The question now is, what do Republicans do? Today Speaker of
the House, Paul Ryan called for Moore to step aside, which he knows he
won`t do, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he`s seeking
all of the options to prevent Moore from becoming a Senator while still
holding on to that seat for the Republican Party.

But here`s the thing. If you don`t think Roy Moore should be in the U.S.
Senate, you can simply not vote for a man accused of molesting a 14-year-
old girl or assaulting a 16-year-old girl, and of pursuing other teenagers
as a grown man. Moore, has, of course, denied the allegations of sexual
misconduct, first reported in the Washington Post last week, calling them
false. And so far, Jeff Flake remains among the few Republicans willing to
say Republicans should not vote for him. In fact, they should
affirmatively vote for his opponent.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Well, I think there`s still hope that there
could be a write-in candidate or someone who might you know, (INAUDIBLE).
And I said all along, I would favor that if we could get another
Republican. But if the choice is between a Democrat and Roy Moore, I would
choose the Democrat.


HAYES: Moore`s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, is now making a direct pitch
to wary Republican voters in Alabama with a new T.V. ad.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t decency and integrity matter anymore?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a Republican but Roy Moore, no way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m for Doug Jones.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m another Republican for Doug Jones.


HAYES: Of the dirty tricks have already begun in this race, up next, the
stunning Alabama robocall that you have to hear to believe.


HAYES: So here`s a weird story out of Alabama. A mysterious robocall
claiming to be from a Washington Post reporter.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, this is Lenny Bernstein. I`m a reporter for The
Washington Post. I`m calling to find out is anyone at this address is a
female between the ages of 54 to 57 years old, willing to make damaging
remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward between $5,000 and $7,000.
We will not be fully investigating these claims, however we will make a
written report.


HAYES: The call is fake, as you can probably tell by the accent that
fluctuates between an
anti-Semitic stereotype and some weird kind of Boston amalgam.

The Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron confirmed it is fake,
adding the call`s description of our reporting methods bears no
relationship to reality. We are shocked and appalled that
anyone would stoop to this level to discredit real journalism.

Despite apparent efforts like that robocall to discredit the allegations
against Roy Moore, Republicans continue to back away, at least at the
national level.

Politico reporting tonight the Republican National Committee has pulled out
of its fundraising pact with Moore.

Haley Byrd is a congressional reporter for Independent Journal Review;
Lanhee Chen, former
adviser to Senator Marco Rubio`s presidential campaign.

Lanhee, I`ll start with you. It seems to me there is a consensus forming
largely on Capitol Hill among national Republicans, at least in the Senate,
not Mo Brooks, seen running down the stairs there,
to distance themselves from Moore. But the question then becomes, then

think that is the big question. I mean, at this point, I think the
strategy, certainly amongst Republican leaders, is to figure out can there
be any alternative? Is there anybody else that folks can vote for? You
know, the challenges you have, though, is first of all the idea of a write-
in candidate. Very difficult for write-ins to win unless they already have
universal name identification. And then there`s really not a whole lot
else the governor could do. She could push the election date, but that`s
going to create all sorts of political problems.

So really they`re stuck between a rock and a hard place. For a lot of
Republicans, though, Chris, this is very reminiscent of the 2016
presidential election. You had a lot of people who didn`t want to vote for
Donald Trump, who had to figure out what they were going to do. You`re in
a very similar situation now for the voters of Alabama.

HAYES: Well, and Haley, you saw Mo Brooks who is a member of congress
you`ve reported on. We should say, the new Alabama poll has Moore up six
points even after the first revelations – so not after that Monday
allegation of sexual assault. And there`s a – you know, to Lanhee`s
point, there has to be some calculation on Capitol Hill like this guy might
pull out and bull through the way the president did.

HALEY BYRD, INDEPNDENT JOURNAL REVIEW: But the people I talked to you know
before (inaudible) tonight, actually, still seem sort of convinced that Roy
Moore is either going to drop out, you know, maybe reconsider, or
Republicans on Capitol Hill could pressure him enough to drop out.

But at this point, it doesn`t look like he`s going to do that. And, you
know, there are others who, you know, truly believe that he`s not going to
win after this. But their record of predicting who is going to win after
scandals like this is, in fact, good after 2016, like you said.

So, you know, the question does remain, what are they going to do if he
does win? And I don`t think Republicans have an answer to that yet.

HAYES: They seem to be – let me follow up on that, Haley. You`re saying
that people you talk to on Capitol Hill still retaining hope that they can
get him to actually bow out?

BYRD: Yes. Yes.

And, you know, just a quick trip through Roy Moore`s Twitter feed will show
you, like he is – you know, Mitch McConnell says, Roy Moore should step
aside. And Roy Moore says Mitch McConnell should step aside.

HAYES: Exactly.

BYRD: So he`s using this like anti-establishment campaign rhetoric that
Republicans have used themselves for years to sort of push back against
something that most Republicans on Capitol Hill agree is not normal
behavior after that Washington Post report.

So it`s interesting to see that dichotomy of that campaign rhetoric, which
pretty much all Republicans use in this interesting circumstance.

HAYES: I think that`s – I mean, I`ve got to say, Lanhee, anyone that
thinks a Roy Moore is going to be forced out is wishful thinking. I mean,
they are going to – it seems to me the Republcian Party ends up with two
possibilities. Number one, a Democrat wins a seat. Doug Jones is the
Democratic opponent. Wins a Senate seat in one of the most Republican
states in the union. And you have a sort of reverse Scott Brown effect
that reverberates and freaks everyone out.

Number two, Roy Moore is the Republican Senator from Alabama with possibly
more credible accusations to come about his conduct, and every question of
all their colleagues all of the time is about what are you doing about Roy
Moore. Aren`t those the two scenarios?

CHEN: Yeah, I mean, neither scenario is particularly good. The one thing
I will say, Chris,is I do think there is one person that has the potential
to force Roy Moore from this race and that`s Donald Trump. If the
president of the United States were to weigh in and to say, look, I`m not
supporting this guy any more. It`s not going to happen. That is something
that could change the calculus.

But so far, there is no indication that`s going to happen. Republicans
don`t have a whole
lot of good options. The idea of not seating Roy Moore, by the way, is
much more complicated than people realize, because there has to be some
form of due process according to Senate rules for that to happen. So the
options are very, very limited at this point.

HAYES: Also, Roy Moore is going to fight it. Haley, what do you think
about that? I mean, it is very notable that everyone seems to come to
their conclusions about the credibility of these allegations, and the
fitness of Roy Moore, except the man at the top, the president of the
United States, who does have internet and cable news access, even while on
his trip, but who is now landing in the U.S. and it`s going to be hard for
him to avoid this.

BYRD: And I think you should be expecting maybe the president will address
this in some way, shape or form. And I`m sure Republicans are waiting for
him to make some sort of statement.

But, you know, you do have to think that Republicans are concerned about
losing that seat. And if they do the margin for, like, disagreement in the
Republican conference in the Senate right now, it`s so slim, it`s only two
votes. And so if you lose that seat, it is like this constant pressure for
Republicans right now to think about losing Alabama, especially when you`re
trying to push tax reform, all kinds of
other stuff, too.

HAYES: Yes. That`s why you`ve got Mo Brooks running down the stairs,
basically saying, I will take the accused child molester, the man accused
by a tearful woman of attempting to rape her. I will take him over the
Democrats, because I don`t like the Democratic Party.

Haley Byrd and Lanhee Chen, thanks for joining me.

BYRD: Thank you.

HAYES: Ahead, the vice president caught in yet another falsehood, raising
a question of whether he has no idea what is going on with the
administration he serves or whether he`s lying. We`ll look at that, ahead.

Plus, some fiery moments from Jeff Sessions` testimony you probably haven`t
seen in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two. Next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, during Attorney General Jeff Sessions`
confirmation in January, Representative Cedric Richmond, one of the
delegation of Congressional Black Caucus members who spoke out against his
appointment, claiming that Sessions had advanced an agenda that will do
great harm to black citizens and communities.

Today, Louisiana congressman had the opportunity to confront Sessions face-
to-face before the House Judiciary Committee.


REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND, (D) LOUSIANA: How many African-Americans do you have
on your senior staff?

SESSIONS: I do not have a senior staff member at this time that`s an

RICHMOND: Of all of the U.S. attorneys that have been nominated or
confirmed, how many have been African-American?

SESSIONS: One in Alabama.

RICHMOND: Out of all of the special agents in charge of FBI bureaus around
the country, how many are African-American?

SESSIONS: I do not know.


HAYES: Last question about the FBI comes on the heels of recent report
released by the bureau
assessing what they call black identity extremists as a possible terror
threat to U.S. law enforcement agencies.


REP. KAREN BASS, (D) CALIFORNIA: You are familiar with the term “black
identity extremists?”

SESSIONS: Well, I think so, yes.

BASS: So could you tell me what that term means to you? Do you believe
that there is a movement of African-Americans that identify themselves as
black identity extremists, and what does that movement do?


HGAYES: That answer is Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: On August 3 of this year, a little more than a week before the
White supremacist rally in Charlesville turned deadly, the FBI released a
report called black identity extremists likely motivated to target law

California congresswoman Karen Bass asked Jeff Sessions today about that
report and whether
there is any equivalent white movement.


BASS: Do you believe that there is a movement of African-Americans that
identify themselves as black identity extremists, and what does that
movement do?

SESSIONS: Well, it will be interesting to see the conclusions of that

BASS: Are you aware of white organizations that do this, as well? Given
that white supremacy is well-documented, well-researched movement, such as
the Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, et cetera, are they white identity

SESSIONS: I didn`t follow that question. Please, again?

BASS: Is there a term or a report on white identity extremists.

SESSIONS: Yes. But it`s not coming to me at this moment.

BASS: Not coming to you?


BASS: Certainly, a group such as the Ku Klux Klan.

SESSIONS: And then the Skinhead movement.

BASS: And by the way, would you consider Black Lives Matter a black
identity extremist group?

SESSIONS: I`m not able to comment on that. I`m not a – I have not so
declared it.



HAYES: Once again, a public statement by Vice President Mike Pence has
proven to be false. After the report that Donald Trump Jr. communicated
with WikiLeaks in the run up to the presidential election, Pence`s press
secretary released a statement, quote, “the vice president was never aware
of anyone associated with the campaign being in contact with WikiLeaks.
He first learned of this news from a published report earlier tonight.”

Now, a year ago, sitting on the curvy couch on October 14th, 2016, Pence
offered a very similar emphatic denial.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some have suggested on the left, all this bad stuff
Hillary, nothing bad about Trump, that your campaign is in cahoots with

PENCE: Nothing could be further from the truth. I think all of us have –
you know, have had concerns about WikiLeaks over the years.


HAYES: Nothing could be further from the truth. That obviously turned out
not to be true. In fact, according to The Atlantic on September 20th,
2016, the day Trump Jr. first received a message from WikiLeaks, quote, “he
emailed other senior officials of the Trump campaign, including Steve
Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Brad Parscale, and Trump`s son-in-law Jared
Kushner, telling them WikiLeaks had made contact. Kushner then forwarded
the email to campaign communication staffer
Hope Hicks.”

Yet we`re supposed to believe that Pence was kept in the dark and no one
tried to correct him.

It is amazing how many times Mike Pence has been sent out to make
categorical denials that were later proven to be untrue.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Did Mike Flynn ever discuss lifting sanctions in
any of those conversations? Do you know?

PENCE: I talked to General Flynn yesterday. And the conversations that
took place at that time were not in any way related to new U.S. sanctions
against Russia or the expulsion of diplomats.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS: Just to button up one question, did any adviser
or anyone in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were
trying to meddle in the election?

PENCE: Oh, of course not.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: The story today that former national security
adviser Michael Flynn has filed with the Department of Justice did any
adviser or anyone in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians
who were trying to meddle in the election?

PENCE: Well, let me say, hearing that story today was the first I heard of

BAIER: You`re disappointed about the story?

PENCE: It`s the first I heard of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the president fire Director Comey to impede the

PENCE: Well, as you know, very clearly, as has been stated repeatedly and
the president has been told, he`s not under investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But intelligence officials have said there`s
investigation into potential ties between campaign officials and Russian

PENCE; That`s not what this is about.


HAYES: In each of those cases, the man who is Donald Trump`s vice
president was either
fantastically out of the loop or lying.



SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI: So the people this is going to hit
are middle class people. So the way I get it is we`re going to make their
insurance more expensive, create 13
million uninsured people.


HAYES: Today, Democrats were blindsided at a Senate Finance Committee
hearing on the GOP tax plan, suddenly learning that the Senate version of
the tax bill would repeal a major part of the Affordable Care Act, the
individual mandate.

Senator Ron Wyden, the ranking member of that committee, spelled out the
impact of that.

SEN. RON WYDEN, (D) OREGON: We were never told that health care was going
to be part of it. And this just flew in, literally out of nowhere in the
last 20 minutes.

This is partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And that`s why the
Congressional Budget Office scored it with such ominous consequences.
Millions of people losing coverage, millions of people having their
premiums go up.


HAYES: Joining me now, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, ranking member of the
Finance Committee.

So Senator, are they really going to – is it official that they are
including essentially a major part of Obamacare repeal in this tax bill


And clearly, Chris, what they`re doing is they`re turning a tax bill into a
health care bill. And they had a very clear problem. They`ve made
trillions of dollars worth of promises to the multi-nationals and their
political donors. They weren`t able to stuff them up into the budget. So
they thought, well, let`s get a twofer. Let`s gut health care for working
people and then we can have big tax cuts for multi-nationals that ship jobs
overseas. It`s a double standard in economics – big breaks for the people
at the top and the powerful hurting the working people.

HAYES: So my understanding, I just want to be clear about this, is that
they`ve crafted this bill that still raises the deficit too much. And so
they`re desperate to find ways to claw back some money. And the CBO
analysis is that you`d have 13 million people or fewer insured, insurance
premiums would rise, but the government, because fewer people are being
insured, saves money on subsidies, so they get $338 billion they get to use
for the corporate tax breaks. Is that the idea?

WYDEN: That`s the idea. And they had the gall today to say they were
going to use those
hundreds of billions of dollars to help the middle class. That`s just
absurd. What they have been doing from the very beginning is trying to
find every possible loophole for the powerful, for the multi-nationals, and
they do it by taking away from the middle class.

HAYES: So, can they do this? I mean, the Obamacare repeal ran quite
legendarily, into problems in the Senate. If you take a complicated tax
bill that already has a lot of political resistance among various factions,
you add on something that would destabilize insurance markets across the
country, does – are your Republican colleagues going to go for that?

WYDEN: Well, with we`re going to certainly point out that a lot of them
have indicated in the past they don`t want to unravel the Affordable Care
Act. They don`t want to go back, for example, to the days when health care
was for the healthy and wealthy. A key part of this is protecting people
who have pre-existing conditions. That`s linked to the individual mandate.
And I think a lot of
Republicans, when they hear about this, they might have thought it was
going to be some sort of freebie to roll this back, but they`re going to
hurt a lot of people. They won`t be able to explain it to their
constituents and we`d be able to – we`re going to try and win them over.

HAYES: So, here`s the argument they`re making. I want you to respond to
it. They say, look, the individual mandate is the least popular part of
the Affordable Care Act. You, Democrats were extremely critical of our
cuts to Medicaid. You kept saying, why are you cutting Medicare in our
Obamacare repeal. So, if we just do this, we don`t touch Medicaid on one
end and we get rid of this tax that people don`t like anyway, how can you
stand opposed to that?

WYDEN: What this does is it harms dramatically the Affordable Care Act.
The reality is the individual mandate is an integral part of making sure
that working class people have coverage and it`s
affordable. As I just mentioned, it`s directly linked to protecting the
millions who suffer from pre-existing conditions.

This is a backdoor strategy to repeal affordable coverage for millions of
Americans. It`s a double whammy. Some will get higher premiums, many will
have less coverage. We`re going to make sure the American people know
this. And that`s why we appreciate your show to get the facts out.

HAYES: Well, so, they also seem to be really hustling here. I mean, the
clip at which they are trying to move this through both houses is very
fast. Can you slow it down in the Senate?

WYDEN: We are sure going to try.

Look, I understand why they`re desperate. I mean, these folks have had
more losses than some of Trump`s casinos. They`ve gone a whole year
without a win, so they are just desperate to put points on the board.

But you don`t make $10 trillion worth of tax policy on the fly. You`ve got
to do it, as we saw
in 1986, when Democrats and Republicans got together. And by the way, what
they were talking about was much more dramatic. They wanted to have the
same tax rate for people with wages, for people with investments. So I
understand why they`re desperate, we`re going to fight them.

HAYES: All right, Senator Ron Wyden, thank you.

WYDEN: Thank you.

HAYES: That does it for All In this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show
starts now, early for a change. Good evening, Rachel.


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