NYT: Trump sought to fire Mueller in December. TRANSCRIPT: 04/10/2018. All In with Chris Hayes
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: April 10, 2018
Guest: Michael Schmidt, Mark Warner, Adam Davidson, Barbara McQuade
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: – guys riding around in their Benzes. And
that’s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. “ALL IN” with Chris
Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a pure and simple
HAYES: One day after the raid, the White House takes aim at the Special
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: We’ve been advised
that the President certainly has the power to make that decision.
HAYES: Tonight, new reporting on the Trump appointee who signed off on the
Cohen raid and new details about what investigators were looking for as we
learned Stormy Daniels is cooperating with Federal Investigators. Plus the
eerie silence from the Republican National Committee over the raid of its
Deputy Finance Chair. And as we learn that Facebook is cooperating with
the Mueller Probe, what happened when Mark Zuckerberg met the Senate?
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Would you be comfortable sharing with us
the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York, I’m Chris Hayes. On a day in which the
White House claims the President has the power to fire Special Counsel
Robert Mueller, tonight we’ve learned of yet another previously unreported
occasion this past December when the President tried to do just that. Fire
the man conducting the criminal investigation into his campaign, his
personal business, members of his family and the President himself. It’s
an investigation that yesterday led to coordinated FBI raids on the office
and residences of one of the President’s closest and longest serving
associates, his Attorney Michael Cohen. And now today multiple reports
coming in from nearly every direction the President is once again mulling
the option of firing Mueller or perhaps someone else at the Justice
Department. According to Federal regulations the Special Counsel may be
disciplined or removed from office only by the personal action of the
Attorney General. But according to The White House, the President has been
advised he, he can terminate Robert Mueller all by himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the President believe he has the power to fire
Special Counsel Robert Mueller (INAUDIBLE) his power?
SANDERS: Certainly believes he has the power to do so.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most legal experts believe that he would have to
order Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller and Rosenstein
of course refuse.
SANDERS: I know a number of individuals in the Legal Community and
including at the Department of Justice said he has the power to do so but I
don’t have any further announcements.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They told me, I’ve asked. They said that it’s Rod
Rosenstein oversees is the Special Counsel and only he has the power to
fire the Special Counsel.
SANDERS: Again, we’ve been advised that the President certainly has the
power to make that decision. I can’t go anything beyond that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: We’ve been advised the President certainly has the power to make
the decision. And to be clear, the warrants that were executed against
Michael Cohen yesterday were not as far as we can tell from the available
reporting related directly to the Russia Probe this is as far as we know
now. They appear to be part of a separate investigation referred by the
Special Counsel to Federal Prosecutors in New York. But if it the raid
provoked the President to take some kind of action to stop Mueller, it
would not be the first time he’s tried to do so. Remember a few months ago
The New York Times reported the President gave the order directly to fire
Mueller last June and he backed off only after his White House Counsel Don
McGahn apparently threatened to quit rather than carry out the order.
Tonight, a new report from The Times, again, that he tried to do it just in
December telling advisers that Mueller’s Investigation “have to be shut
down following reports that a bank he did business with had been
subpoenaed. The President once again backed down after it became clear
that those reports were misleading.” But last night during a public
(INAUDIBLE) in response to the Cohen raid, he did not rule out giving it
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don’t you just fire Mueller?
TRUMP: Why don’t I just fire Mueller? Well, I think it’s a disgrace
what’s going on. We’ll see what happens. But I think it’s really a sad
situation. Again, they found nothing. And in finding nothing, that’s a
big statement. If you know, the person who is in charge of the
investigation, you know all about that, Deputy Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein,
as you know, he also signs the FISA warrant. So Rod Rosenstein who is in
charge of this signed a FISA warrant and he also he also signed a letter
that was essentially saying to fire James Comey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, according to the Fox News radio producer who asked that
question, you heard shouted about Mueller, the President mouthed thank you
at him as he was ushered out the press pool. And in the same clip, we just
played you, you may have noticed the President quickly pivoted from Mueller
to the man overseeing him. That would be of course Deputy Attorney General
Rod Rosenstein. Now, nobody asked about Rosenstein, the President just
brought him up. And that was no coincidence. According to The New York
Times reporting the President’s tirade last night continue to private at
The White House as he fumed about whether he should fire Rosenstein and
that was even before the Times broke the news today it was Rosenstein
himself who was the one who personally signed off on the FBI decision to
raid Cohen’s office. New York Times Michael Schmidt is one of the
reporters who’s broke that story as well as tonight’s breaking news, the
President sought to fire Mueller a second time in December. Let’s begin on
that. Michael, I’m trying to get a clearer sense of what exactly happened
in December as far your reporting indicates?
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: There were several reports
at the time that a there was a Mueller subpoena that had been sent to
Deutsche Bank for records directly related to Trump. Now, if you remember,
Trump talked last summer about a so-called red line, an area that he said
Mueller should not be looking at. That’s finances outside of Russia. So
Trump sees this, sees this report and he really loses it. He gets very
angry. I know we talk a lot about how angry the President gets but he got
angry again this time and he really wanted to get rid of Mueller. He was
very serious about it he said it was time to end the investigation. What
happened was that his lawyers who know where his bank accounts are and know
where his things are realized that the report was wrong that there was
nothing to it. The reports were actually ultimately corrected. But this
was this instance and as we know, firing Mueller is not just something that
is front of mind for the President just now. This is something he has
thought about as far as back as May when Mueller was appointed. He’s
obviously also thought since then about firing Sessions and firing
Rosenstein. The other big incident that we know about where Trump really
walked up to the line of firing Mueller was last June asking the White
House Counsel Don McGahn to call the Justice Department to tell Rod
Rosenstein that it was time for Mueller to go because had he several
conflict of interest issues. It was only after McGahn threatened to resign
that the President backed down on that.
HAYES: I want to go back to this red line. It’s something that we that
I’ve wrestled with about how seriously to take that red line. That was
your phrase in an interview with the President an audio interview we have
audio of. You said the word red line and the President says, yes! It
didn’t sound definitive to me. Are you convinced that he does consider
that a red line?
SCHMIDT: I think like probably a lot of red lines this one may be a bit
faulty but I don’t know. Look, we were trying to get the President to give
us a sense how he saw this investigation. How he saw Mueller. What was
Mueller’s mandate? And we pushed him on it. We pushed him really hard on
it if you could hear in the audio. We basically tried to pin him down
about what was OK and what wasn’t OK because we wanted to have a guide as
we looked at this and as we moved along to see where Mueller sort of fell
in if the President’s thoughts. Now, we knew at the time that this – we
knew where the investigation was going to go but we knew that there would
probably be subpoenas at some point, there would probably be requests for
documents and interviews and that other issues would come up and we’re
trying to figure out OK, what in the President’s mind would be OK and what
wouldn’t be OK.
HAYES: Yes and I just want to be clear on this that determination of what
is and isn’t OK ultimately is something that is answered in a more profound
and global sense than what the President does or does not allow although
we’ll see how this plays out as he considers what he is going to do next
Michael Schmidt, great reporting as always. Thank you.
SCHMIDT: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: Back in December, Senator Mark Warner, the Vice Chair of the Senate
Intelligence Committee gave this barn-burner of a speech of the Senate
floor that seemed to sort to come out of nowhere in which he warned the
President not to the cross a so-called red line by firing Mueller. Moments
ago, the top aide to that Senator tweeted when Mark Warner delivered his
red line speech to warn against firing Mueller back in December, a lot of
people asked why now, this is why. And she linked to the story breaking
from the New York Times that we just discussed with Michael Schmidt. I
happened to speak to Senator Warner tonight just before that story broke.
HAYES: Senator, what do you think about Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying the
White House has made the determination the President himself has the power
to fire Robert Mueller?
WARNER: Well, this White House and this President seem to think he can in
effect support some laws and ignore other laws. I’m not the legal expert
here. But I would actually agree with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham
that if Mr. Trump tried to fire Mr. Mueller, that will be the beginning of
the end of the Trump Presidency.
HAYES: The president also said this yesterday about the raid where he
called it an attack on this country. I want you to take a listen and get
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now.
And actually much more than that you could say it was right after the won
the nomination it started. That it’s a disgrace. It’s frankly a real
disgrace. It’s a – an attack on our country in a true sense. It’s an
attack on what we all stand for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Do you think the raid was an attack on our country?
WARNER: Absolutely not. What this President doesn’t seem to understand is
it that there’s no one that is above the law, including the President of
United States. And I would remind the President that Mr. Rosenstein who
his Deputy Attorney General, long-term Republican, Mr. Wray , the FBI
Director a Trump appointee, throughout this whole investigation, Mr.
Mueller, a lifelong Republican somehow the notion that it is being caused
by political purposes, it is being caused because there are serious
questions that need to be answered about Trump Campaign and affiliates –
affiliation or collusion with Russians and I think this investigation has
to finish. I believe our Senate Intelligence Committee investigation has
to finish. And the American public deserves the truth and what scares the
dickens out of me is when the President basically depending on his mood
wakes up and makes these in effect add whom and in broad-based attacks
against the whole integrity of the Justice Department and the whole
integrity of the FBI. That gets into very scary territory that would might
give license to some to say will consequently they could then choose which
laws they want to follow and which laws they don’t want to follow. My fear
is that Mr. Trump is trying to undermine not only the Mueller investigation
but many ways the integrity of our whole Justice Department system.
HAYES: Is he succeeding?
WARNER: I believe amongst some and amongst some of his allies who
reinforce this message. We’re getting into uncharted territory here. I
worry. We’re a nation – I’ve never seen anything like this in my whole
life. I know a lot of my Republican colleagues have privately expressed
real concern and consternation. My hope is for the sake of the country
that someone would rein this President back in and that he would not take
the kind of inappropriate action as firing Rosenstein or firing Mueller
which I believe would put us into a constitutional crisis.
HAYES: You just said the word privately to describe the reservations or
concerns of your Republican colleagues. I’ve been monitoring closely
public pronouncements today and largely from Republicans they’ve been
essentially equivocal or we don’t need to do anything because they’re –
I’m confident they’ll say he won’t fire Mueller. It won’t happen. Don’t
worry about it. Do you think that’s good enough?
WARNER: You know, I went out before the holidays before Christmas and gave
what I hoped was my red line speech that firing Mueller, firing Rosenstein,
going off and pardoning family members or others would be a bridge too far.
Most Republican who been on – gone on the record have said yes, they
thought that would go too far, as well. But we seem to be fast approaching
that point. And my colleagues are going to need, God forbid if we have
this event to move past private conversations and take a public stand. I
think all of us will as Americans have to take a public stand and decide
whether we’re going to continue to be a nation of laws and that no one
including the President of the United States is above the law and he cannot
arbitrarily stop a duly constituted investigation. But I can tell you from
at least where I stand as a as Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence
Committee there are a lot of questions that still need to be answered.
HAYES: Your counterparts over in the House Intelligence Committee who some
critics have said are sort of conducting a counter investigation of the
investigation, they’re – this comes from Robert Costa of the Washington
Post who says the following, that House Intel Chair Devin Nunes, privately
told several colleagues today it’s time for House GOP to hold Rosenstein
and Wray in contempt of Congress, should they refuse to hand over docs
according to two people familiar with the discussions. What do you think
WARNER: Well I think I think – I think it’s fairly typical of the way the
House Majority has operated. Frankly, outside the boundaries of what most
of us would view would be appropriate, obviously, not in any sense
bipartisan, and I’m going to continue to say – simply grace over what
we’re trying to do on the Senate side which is we’ve got to follow the
facts, we’ve got to keep this effort bipartisan. And at the end of the
day, this is about what happened or didn’t happen not only in 2016 but in
some of the aftermath and also how we make sure the American public gets
the truth because they deserve the truth.
HAYES: Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, thanks for your time tonight.
WARNER: Thank you.
HAYES: Jill Wine-Banks, former Watergate Prosecutor now an MSNBC
Contributor, MSNBC Justice Analyst Matt Miller, who was Chief Spokesperson
at the Justice Department over – under President Obama. And I’ll start
with you, Matt. I mean I guess I want to sort of zoom out for a second and
just note or ask you how you feel about a news cycle that’s driven about
will the President act to interfere in the investigation into himself and
into his allies.
MATT MILLER, MSNBC JUSTICE ANALYST: Yes, it’s odd because in a way it gets
framed as if there’s some legitimate choice the President is facing here as
opposed to you know there being one acceptable choice which allows this
investigation to proceed, to allow the rule of law to stand. And one which
is to totally try to commit a crime and obstruct the investigation which is
what he’s trying to do. And I think for people – see I think for people
at the Department of Justice who are looking at this, you know, none of
them are stupid. They see what the President is trying to do. If he fires
the Rod Rosenstein and tries to go down the chain, they know exactly what
he’s trying to do. And I think for him to try to you fire Mueller, he may
eventually be able to do it but he will essentially have to burn that
building to the ground, I think before he finds someone willing to carry
out that kind of order.
HAYES: Jill, do you agree with that.
JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I do. And I’ve seen this play out
BANKS: And it didn’t work out so well for President Nixon. And I don’t
think it will work very well for him. I do think he has the authority to
fire Mueller and he certainly does not have cause. So no one should be
able to fire Mueller unless he has done something that is cause. And there
isn’t any cause as of now so he should not be fired. And if the President
is not guilty, he certainly is doing his very best to make us think he is
by trying to shut this investigation down.
HAYES: So here’s what seems more likely to me. And this is a tweet from
John Harwood who is quoting Roger Stone on the record. Long-time associate
Roger Stone tells me he doesn’t think Trump will fire Mueller, recommends
and said he fire Sessions and Rosenstein and then instruct new Acting A.G.
would rewrite, limit Mueller’s authority on the Russia collusion probe.
Moving against Rosenstein who he unambiguously does have the authority to
fire, right, whether it would be correct or proper or not, that seems more
likely. Jill, do you view that as essentially the same as firing Mueller?
BANKS: I do see it as the same. And yet, it does have a slight
difference. But the result would end up being exactly the same and I think
the American public would react the same way. I think they will be
outraged by this action. And again, if there’s nothing to hide why is he
trying to stop this investigation? Let it go forward, let us find out and
I do think the American people have a need to know what the President did
or did not know. And when he did something, what he had in mind. So I
think at some point we need to have a public disclosure of evidence whether
that’s through an indictment or through a report is up to the prosecutor to
determine. But I do think it’s important before we vote to know what has
exactly happened here. And I really think that firing the attorney general
or the deputy attorney general in order to get rid of Mueller is the same
thing because Mueller still is appointed under a law that says he can only
be fired for cause. So tell me what the cause is. There is none.
HAYES: Matt, Rosenstein, when you see burn the building to the ground, I
take it you view Rosenstein as sort of equivalent position and what would
that actually? What do that look like? I’m thinking about the
institutional players here and how they can gird themselves and prepare or
act in advance of something as drastic and dramatic and crisis-inducing as
it moves against say, Rosenstein.
MILLER: Yes, it depends on the President would try to do. If he – the
easiest, actually cleanest way for him to do would be to remove Jeff
Sessions, appoint a new acting attorney general, someone like Scott Pruitt
who would have immediate jurisdiction and could either fire Mueller or shut
the investigation down slowly. And I think you might see mass resignations
in that instance. But if he were to fire Rosenstein, it’s actually more
complicated because an Acting Deputy Attorney General, just because of the
way the rules are written couldn’t actually fire Mueller. What happens is
it moves down the line succession. It goes next to the solicitor general.
I don’t know Noel Francisco. With everything I know about him, I don’t
think he would carry out such an order where he knows the President is
trying to commit a crime by obstructing justice. And then it goes to the
U.S. Attorneys. And if you find – if you look at those U.S. Attorneys,
you know, a lot of them are long-time career prosecutors, some are people
who are respected partners at law firms. I – he may find someone
eventually but I don’t think these are people who are going to want their
legacy for the rest of history being at a moment – you know, real critical
moment in our history, when they could stand up for the rule of law or help
Donald Trump obstruct justice. I don’t think they’re going to want to be
remembered in history as the person who helped Donald Trump break the law
to cover up crimes that he committed.
HAYES: Jill, here’s the other question I have. If the President were to
say and I know we’re sort of kind of gaming out the future. But we’re in
the situation where we’re getting multiple reports the President is sitting
there and stewing and thinking about how to move against this. If the
President were to take to Twitter like he has in other determinations and
said I am firing Robert Mueller, it seems to me there’s like an open
question of what holds. What the truth of the matter is and what the law
is and who gets to say.
BANKS: Well, I think it would end up in court. Someone is going to have
standing to bringing it to court. It would be like his tweet about not
allowing gays to serve in the military.
BANKS: And the military saying that’s not how it’s done. We won’t follow
that. And I think that it might be that no one is going to say OK, he’s
fired. And the other thing is that anybody who replaces the attorney
general may be asked by Congress before being confirmed, would you fire
Mueller without cause. And that’s exactly why neither the attorney general
nor the deputy attorney general would fire Nixon during Watergate because
they had promised Congress in their confirmation that they would not fire
Cox except for cause.
BANKS: So I think that’s an important role that Congress has to play.
HAYES: All right, Jill Wine-Banks and Matt Miller, thank you for being
here. Tonight Michael Cohen, you remember him, from such FBI raids as
yesterday at three places that he tends to occupy, is responding to
yesterday’s FBI raids on his home office and hotel room telling Vanity
Fair’s Emily Jane Fox the feds were respectful. Cohen also said he has not
spoken to Trump since the raids. We’re getting a clearer pictures of what
FBI agents were looking for that records of payments top women including
Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal who both alleged affair with Donald
Trump. They also searched for records related to Mr. Cohen’s taxicab
business. And as we learn more about the leads they’re following, remember
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is not involved in this investigation, at
least not directly. He handed it off. Mueller filed a memo in court last
week that states that a special counsel may conclude that investigating
otherwise unrelated allegations against a central witness in the matter is
necessary to obtain cooperation. With me now Barbara McQuade, a former
U.S. Attorney and Adam Davidson Staff Writer for the New Yorker. So I want
to talk about what picture we’re getting about what happened yesterday.
But I want to follow up first on something you said on Twitter that I
thought was very smart. What precipitated the President’s second outburst
and attempt at least to sort of you know, talking about removing Mueller
was what proved to be an erroneous report about subpoenas to Deutsche Bank.
And you said what about that?
ADAM DAVIDSON, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: I really want to know what he
thinks Deutsche Bank has on him and why it freaks him out so much that
Mueller might be looking into Deutsche Bank.
HAYES: Yes, it seemed to me like – when you put it that way, like here’s
someone drawing a big red arrow like no crimes in here kind of –
DAVIDSON: It’s like his attorney Jay Sekulow telling me as publish him in
New Yorker, I don’t want anyone looking at the Georgia deal. That I think
any prosecutor hearing a lawyer or someone under investigation saying
please don’t look at this one deal, you’re going to look at that deal.
HAYES: So Barbara, what do you make – I’m having a hard time sort of
sifting through the various reports we’re getting about what the feds were
or were not looking for in the case of Michael Cohen yesterday. And we’ve
seen a bunch of different things. The taxicab medallion business,
possibilities of bank fraud, items pertaining to Stormy Daniels or Karen
McDougal, the payments thereof, campaign finance. What would this search
warrant look like and would it have or could it plausibly have a variety of
different areas all listed together?
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: So, you know, there’s a lot we
don’t know but what we do know is that a magistrate judge made a finding of
probable cause that evidence of a crime would be found at these premises.
And you have to articulate what the crime is and the facts in support of
that probable cause determination. So they’d have to specify. So I
imagine that in Robert Mueller’s investigation he has come across some
evidence that supports this finding of probable cause. So he would have to
articulate those things. It could list several different schemes in that
affidavit, so there could be the taxi medallion scheme and there could be
another scheme relating to Stormy Daniels. So it could be a number of
things in the same affidavit. Remember, it’s just probable cause. This is
not a charge, it’s not an indictment, it’s not proof beyond a reasonable
doubt, but still sufficient to go in and search for these things. So it is
something that had to be articulated and found by a judge.
HAYES: So, but just to be clear here, there would have to be sort of, if
you had – if you had different domains like taxicab business, payments
related to Stormy Daniels, et cetera, you would have to furnish probable
cause for each of the sort of like portfolios of things you were searching
MCQUADE: Yes, absolutely. So every – you know, every scheme that you
described, every crime that you described would have to have a description.
Plus you also have to be able to articulate their basis to look for that
thing. So if you find a file that says taxi medallions, and that’s what
you’re looking for, you’re allowed to take it. But if you find a file
unrelated to those things, you can’t. And so, you would want to specify
all the schemes for which you have probable cause.
HAYES: Now, you’ve written a lot about Michael Cohen. And I think there’s
a sort of connection between the Deutsche Bank thing and Michael Cohen and
why it might freak the President out which is the centrality of Michael
Cohen to the entire universe of Trump Org.
DAVIDSON: Yes, if you’re looking as Mueller must be or we know he is at
international deals that brought the Trump Organization and Donald Trump
himself in the orbit of the Kremlin, of the former soviet union, you’re
really talking about three people at the Trump Organization who were
central to those deals, who handled those deals, Ivanka, Don Junior and
Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen is really the most important non-Trump Trump
– non-Trump person involved in the Trump Organization. He was central to
many, many, many of the deals that brought the Trump Organization into the
Kremlin orbit. So I think many people who are sort of Trump watchers,
Trump Organization watchers have been waiting for this moment. This has
always seemed like something – like an end game because this is the guy.
This is – this is – he has all the information we might want to know
because he’s the person who would have told Trump, here’s the partners
we’re dealing with, here’s the money laundering they did or I id research
and they’re not money launders. They’re perfectly innocent. We also –
HAYES: Don’t worry, boss, I’ve done the due diligence, everything is on
the up and up.
DAVIDSON: Everything is on the up and up. That doesn’t seem – based on
my reporting and lots of others to be the case. Also, we know that he was
actively pursuing contact with the Kremlin for Donald Trump. So if you
want to study collusion specifically and not these broader issues which I
still think are crucial to any collusion case, you have to look at Michael
HAYES: And so then the question becomes, Barbara, the sort of vector by
which we have the SDNY carrying this out, executing it, the degree to which
it relates or does not relate to Mueller, whether this is an attempt to
sort of pressure someone who could be a key witness. What do you make of
MCQUADE: Well, I think you know, it was handed off to the Southern
District of New York to handle it because Robert Mueller or Rod Rosenstein,
someone believed it was not within the scope of Mueller’s investigation.
But that does not mean that Michael Cohen could not be a cooperator for
Robert Mueller. It does happen from time to time that someone is
prosecuted in one district and pleads guilty and agrees to cooperate and
could actually cooperate in the Mueller investigation even though he’s
being – he may be prosecuted in the Southern District of New York. So
there’s still that possibility of cooperation.
HAYES: All right, Barbara McQuade and Adam Davidson, that was really
illuminating. Thank you for joining us. Coming up, why Michael Cohen’s
raid is a big scandal for the entire Republican Party that goes beyond his
connection to just the President. I will explain that ahead.
HAYES: Yesterday, the FBI raided the office and the residence and the
hotel room of the RNC’s National Deputy Finance Chairman. Because
remember, Michael Cohen isn’t just Donald Trump’s fixer he’s also currently
a major Republican fund-raiser and hes hardly the only RNC official mired
in scandal. Elliott Broidy, another National Deputy Finance Chairman is
accused of dangling access to Trump in exchange for business and then of
course there casino magnate Steve Wynn, the former RNC Finance Chairman and
alleged serial sexual harasser whose donations of yet to be returned. Now
the RNC has been silent about all of this even as we have called and e-
mailed several times today for any kind of comment. Washington Post
Opinion Writer and MSNBC Political Analyst Jennifer Rubin, MSNBC
Contributor, and Business Insider Senior Editor Josh Barro and former
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maya Wiley now join me.
Jennifer, there is an attempt by the Republicans on The Hill, and in the
party more generally, to
just sort of cordon this off like Trump is – the way a Trump tweet
happens, right, it’s like, oh, he tweeted about Steph Curry and everyone
spends their day going I didn’t read the tweet or that’s the president,
that just seems so preposterous. You know, FBI raid on the party’s deputy
national finance chairman.
JENNIFER RUBIN, WASHINGTON POST: It is. You have to pinch yourself
because it is so outlandish. You’re exactly right, Chris. Not only that,
but you know, the number of plots and the number of areas in which there is
abject corruption, you have $150,000 payment from a Ukrainian oligarch to
Trump Foundation. We have instances of his lawyers trying to put the
screws on the
Panamanian government for Trump’s benefit. All of this is a scheme of
corruption and personal manipulation and self-enrichment that we have
that, really does exceed Watergate.
And the Republicans are just whistling through the graveyard here thinking
that they can just keep their heads down. Maybe they’re get away with
that. But I suspect if they are still there and Trump is still there in
November, it’s going to be a bloodbath, because the Republicans are very,
vulnerable to the charge that they are not exercising any oversight. They
are complicit in this corruption, not just in Russia but in all these other
financial schemes, they have no interest in
fulfilling their obligations under their oaths. And if you want real
oversight, you got to the elect Democrats, that’s a compelling argument.
HAYES: And I think – I think we’re going to hit – I believe there’s
going to be some crisis point, right, there’s some standoff between which
institutions hold, which I think will happen before
the midterms, frankly.
JOSH BARRO, BUSINESS INSIDER: Oh, we’ve gotten, what, 65 percent of the
way to the midterms. I mean, a year ago, I would have bet on it happening
by now. So, I don’t know.
HAYES: Well, that’s true.
BARRO: There’s not that much time left to run out on the clock. We might
get there before the
HAYES: Well, the idea of sort of like that members of congress,
Republicans, they all had this line today today about, like, well, don’t –
he fire Mueller so don’t worry about it. Like, I want to play this
montage, because this is sort what you heard from Capitol Hill today. Take
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R) IOWA: I have confidence in Mueller. The ought to
have confidence in Mueller. And I think to answer your question, it would
be suicide for the president to want to talk about firing Mueller.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I’m not concerned that he’ll fire
Mueller. I don’t think he’ll fire Rosenstein. I can’t think of any reason
to do it. I’m confident that would be the beginning to the end of his
presidency and he’s not going to do that.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY, (R) LOUISIANA: I think the president’s too smart to
fire Mr. Mueller. If he did, it wouldn’t end the investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAYA WILEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yeah it, wouldn’t end the investigation,
that’s it in a nutshell. That doesn’t mean he want to fire him.
HAYES: Well, that’s the thing. I’m sure he do does.
WILEY: I’m sure he does. But I also think this is – the way I read these
statements was this is the Republicans’ way of saying don’t do it, like
we’re going to publicly tell you not to do it.
HAYES: Well, too smart to do is a real audience of one kind of comment.
BARRO: But I mean, this has been the Republicans’ line for months. And
we’ve kind of been making fun of them, but so far they’ve been right in
that he has not done it yet. And so I think, you know, I think they’re
hoping that he will run out the clock to the midterms on this.
HAYES: But that lets him off the hook a little too easily, because what he
has done is he has pressured them. And this is like he’s committed the sin
in the sense that he tells the Justice Department to prosecute his
political enemies. He warns his Justice Department to back off. Like,
itself, is an infraction.
RUBIN: And he complains when his appointed attorney general recuses
himself from the very
investigation he thinks he should protect him from.
BARRO: It’s remarkable how it hasn’t worked, though. I mean, look at what
happened with this raid yesterday. This raid, it wasn’t ordered by
Mueller, this was this very formal process where there was referral that
went to the southern district of New York. Rod Rosenstein signed off off
the idea that they were going to raid the offices of the president’s
lawyer, which I’m sure Rosenstein realized was going to cause the president
to react in exactly the way that he had.
And this is another reason for the president not to fire these people, that
it’s basically – a lot of this has just been the bureaucracy operating in
the way that it is supposed to that when they can get a valid warrant they
execute it and he fires a few of these people and by and large, that
still be there doing the same thing, I think.
WILEY: Well, I think that’s absolutely right in the sense it will still be
there doing the same thing, that doesn’t make he can’t make them it more
difficult for them to do it if actually were to go the nuclear option,
which would be deeply, deeply inadvisable to say the least. But that
doesn’t mean he couldn’t find ways to make it more difficult for it to
RUBIN: Chris, one of the issues here is that if he now has his eye on
firing Rod Rosenstein, which apparently he does, that’s almost a bigger
challenge than firing Mueller because the deputy attorney general, so long
as Jeff Sessions is there, has the ability to curtail this investigation.
And I think that’s what we should keep our eye on. Because if he fires
Rosenstein, then he can put in whoever, and that person can say you’re not
going to look at Michael Cohen, you’re not going to look at all of these
business deals, all you’re going to look for is direct evidence of
collusion. And if Mr. Trump didn’t pick up the phone and call Vladimir
Putin, well I guess we’re done with that.
And that’s, I think, the next play, and something I think Congress had
better be wise to.
I would like to have them frankly, if anybody is interested in doing any
oversight, call Mr. Rosenstein up to testify, ask him whether the president
has the authority to fire Mr. Mueller directly, and what his attitude would
be if he was told to go fire Mueller.
HAYES: Although, you’d ended up getting him fired, Jennifer. I mean, the
whole weird thing about this entire Inception-like post-modern through the
looking glass environment is the president sits there watches cable news.
And I can’t tell where the circle begins and where it ends of like is he
getting the idea from cable news? Are they getting it from him? Is he
just sitting there watching and absorbing it all?
BARRO: There’s another crazy aspect of this, though, that goes back to why
the RNC doesn’t feel the need to distance itself from any of these people
is that basically it’s stipulated here implicitly even by the president’s
defenders, that he’s some sort of criminal, that basically….
HAYES: You’re exactly right.
BARRO: They’re not trying to make the argument that he’s not corrupt. And
part of the argument about, you know, why Mueller needs to be kept in the
box is that the idea is that if Mueller is allowed to get too far out and
investigate too many things, he’s going to find criminal activity. It’s
like everyone has stipulated to the idea that there is some unrelated to –
the dispute is was there a crime related to Russia, people are sort of
implicitly police are admitting that there is a bunch of criminal activity
that has nothing do with the election.
WILEY: I think what’s problematic from a public standpoint is that 40
percent of Trump voters get all their news from Fox News, which has
actively been driving the narrative that this is a witch hunt, Sean Hannity
just to name a few. And actually what we saw is that the disapproval
Mueller have actually gone down since January, and I think it’s as a result
of this kind of news bubble echo chamber that has been actually pushing a
false narrative, what is clearly a false narrative.
And I think from a political standpoint, one of the things that I think the
GOP is looking at is how much is this going to hurt us really and trying to
figure that out.
HAYES: And can they wiggle out of it? I mean, we saw polling – the Q
poll still shows people
widely support Mueller, that they really disapprove of his firing. The
question is how strong is that if and when push comes to shove?
Jennifer Rubin, Josh Barro, Maya Wiley, thank you for your time.
Coming up, Mark Zuckerberg testifies in front of congress and says Facebook
is cooperating with the Mueller investigation, among other things, that
Plus, tonight’s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, President Trump’s new national economic council
director Larry Kudlow who was a TV/radio host for years, but now he’s on
the other side of the table and it’s an adjustment. Kudlow appeared on
Hugh Hewitt’s conservative radio show this morning where he found out from
Hewitt that his own deputy at the NEC is apparently considering leaving.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HUGH HEWITT, RADIO SHOW HOST: It’s reported in Playbook this morning that
Shahira Knight is leaning the NEC, is that correct?
LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: If she is, she hasn’t
told me. It’s a possibility. I’ll ask her. I don’t know.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: OK. Well, he’s new here.
Later when he was asked if he thought Trump could put aside anger at
special counsel Mueller and the DOJ and focus on other issues, he went for
the tried and true tactic of praising his boss.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KUDLOW: Yes, of course he can compartmentalize. I’m going to bet you he
holds his regular schedule today. I’ll bet you he gets stuff done through
meeting and decisions. I’ll be traveling with him with the group going to
Latin America. I don’t think it’s going to stop him. It never stops him.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: That’s right, nothing is going to stop him. He’s going to stick
with the schedule, go on the trip. Do what he was going to do. Just one
small problem with that assessment of his new boss. And that’s Thing 2 in
HAYES: Larry Kudlow has been on the job as director of the NEC for seven
days. Today, he jumped at the chance to praise his new boss, Donald Trump.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HEWITT: If he’s furious with Rod Rosenstein for sending the agents in to
seize Cohen, can he
compartmentalize and focus, Larry Kudlow, on other issues?
KUDLOW: Yes, of course he can compartmentalize. I’m going to bet you he
holds his regular schedule today and I’ll bet you he gets stuff done
through meetings and decisions. I’ll be traveling with him, with a group
going to Latin America. I don’t think it’s going to stop him. It never
stops him. He’s a tough guy. He’s a tough guy and he’s a smart guy. And
this place, Washington, D.C., aka swamp, they underestimate him.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: A solid defense of the president, but about that Latin America
trip, it’s not happening. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
announcing barely 30 minutes after Kudlow confidently
predicted would happen, that Trump was canceling his trip citing the crisis
And it’s a tough lesson for Larry Kudlow, but one everyone in Trump’s orbit
has to learn eventually, the president does not care if his decisions leave
his own people looking like fools. Welcome to the White House, Larry.
HAYES: The person in Washington who is perhaps happiest that President
lawyer was raided by the FBI is the astoundingly corrupt head of the EPA,
oil and gas industry favorite, Scott Pruitt, who has seen his string of
cartoonishly over the top ethical violations fade from the headlines.
So, let me bring you up to speed. We’ll begin with Pruitt’s first class
travel on the public dime, which Pruitt justifies by saying he can’t fly
coach because he gets too many security threats, the same defense he uses
for his 24/7 security detail, which is composed of at least 18 full-time
Today, two Senate Democrats said the Secret Service has not identified a
single threat to
justify Pruitt’s lavish travel and security detail, and additionally, that
an internal EPA report disputes the administrator’s claims that the nature
of the threats against him justify his expenditures.
That, of course, totally undermines Pruitt’s justification for all his
spending, but instead of addressing the issue, the EPA responded by
reportedly removing the career staffer who had OKed that report.
And this if is a pattern. Last week, The New York Times reported at least
five EPA officials were sidelined over the past year after questioning
Pruitt. In another corner of the Pruitt scandal universe bypassed the
White House to give big raises to two of his favorite aides, aides that
Pruitt brought with him from Oklahoma where he repeatedly sued the EPA as
And in a, frankly, disastrous interview on Trump TV last week, Pruitt
claimed he had
known nothing about those raises.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you’re committed to the Trump agenda, why did you go
around the president and the White House and give pay raises to two
SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: I did not. My staff did, and I found
about it and for that yesterday and I changed it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: …being fired for that?
PRUITT: That should not have been done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who did it?
PRUITT: There will be some accountability for that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A career person or a political person.
PRUITT: I’ll have to – I don’t know. I don’t know…
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don’t know? You run the agency. You don’t know
who did this?
PRUITT: I found out about this yesterday and I corrected the action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: OK. So I didn’t do it, staff did it and I found out about it
Well, it sure looks like that was a lie and Pruitt has been caught red-
handed, because yesterday The Atlantic reported that one of those aides,
the one who got the raise, one of the two, had written an email to HR in
which she, quote, definitively stated that Pruitt approves and was
supportive of her getting a raise.
And despite these ballooning scandals, and we didn’t even get into the
sweetheart deal that Pruitt got to live in a lobbyist condo, which
continues to play out, Trump has stood by his EPA chief who one imagines is
now hoping everyone gets distracted by today’s headlines and forget all
about his cascade of ethical lapses.
But those ethical lapses are not going anywhere, and something tells me
there will be more
stories about Scott Pruitt to come.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D) ILLINOIS: Would you be comfortable sharing with us
the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?
MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: Um, no.
DURBIN: If you’ve messaged anybody this week, would you share with us the
names of the people you’ve messaged?
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, No, I would probably not choose to do that publicly
DURBIN: I think that may be what this is all about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Today for the first time ever, Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire CEO
of the social
media giant Facebook, went before congress after a succession of scandals
that have called into question a business model in which that company
essentially monetized its users’ very private information. And so
Zuckerberg faced questions from 43 different senators over five hours. One
of those senators was Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a member of the judiciary
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D) MINNESOTA: Thank you.
HAYES: What did you learn today?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, first of all, we learned that Facebook has admitted that
this is a major breach of trust and that Mark Zuckerberg believes that we
should have some privacy rules in place. I think there were a lot of
questions still out there. He said he would follow up with me about
whether any of the information from Cambridge Analytica was housed in
Russia. It was something that the
whistleblower at Cambridge Analytica raised on Meet the Press this weekend.
He said he would follow up as to whether or not there’s a disproportionate
number of records from certain states, I asked for a state-by-state
breakdown. Obviously, we know how close this election is and we want to
how much the Russians were meddling in certain states.
But one significant thing that you and I have talked about before is they
are now supporting the Honest Ads Act. Go figure. And Twitter is as well
today. And Facebook has agreed to voluntarily put every single paid
political ad, issue or candidate, up in an archive so you can see it,
Chris, so opponents can see it in campaigns, and that is a major shift from
the last election in 2016.
HAYES: Yeah, you sponsored legislation that would essentially regulate ads
on Facebook and other social media platforms in a manner similar to how
they are in broadcast. They have to be identified as such. You know
you’re viewing an ad, et cetera, and they’re now supporting that as of
HAYES: I want to get your reaction to the reaction to the hearing. I saw
a lot of this that basically it was like, oh, these – you know, these
senators don’t really understand how the internet works and they’re median
age is high, not you particularly, and again it’s no one’s fault…
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: That they’re a senior, good for them. But there was this kind of -
- it was interesting to me to watch the dynamic of people sort of watching
this being like, you guys don’t get it, I don’t like
Mark Zuckerberg, but I don’t trust the members of the U.S. Senate that they
actually have a grasp here. What’s your response to that?
KLOBUCHAR: I think, first of all, no matter how old someone is, you need
to have some rules in place. He’s admitted that. The senators believe
that. Republicans are starting to say it. And I thought, you know, maybe
Senator Durbin has been in congress for a while, but no one could have said
it better than that question to Mark Zuckerberg. Do you want your private
information revealed? No, he doesn’t. And that is the basic question that
we have to answer. and our laws have to be as sophisticated as the people
who are breaking them and the products they are putting out there.
And it’s not as hard, some of this stuff, it’s a simple bill of rights for
users. You have to be able to make sure that your information is private
in a simple way, not in 30 links on a website, one place. Do I want to
give out my information or don’t I? You have to have the right to have a
breach, be notified so that if you’re a user and your information has
gotten out, you shouldn’t have to finding out
after a TV station notices it. You should be able to know, say, within 72
hours, which is a question I asked him.
So we need to put those things in law, and they certainly need to get their
act together with taking on the bots and verifying political ads for truth.
And I think we could have a whole new world here. But you can’t just have
one platform saying they’re going to do it, it has to apply to all of them.
HAYES: Is there a deeper question here about just the very basis of this
business model? I mean, this is the largest entity sort of ever
constructed, I think, outside the Catholic Church or empires, right? I
mean, you’ve got a billion users. It’s hard to come up with an analogy for
something else that has that.
Are they too big to regulate? Like, is there something sort of profoundly
difficult about getting your arms around this company and what they do?
KLOBUCHAR: I think that they wanted to act at the beginning that no one
could regulate them. They’re just simply a marketplace for ideas and
democracy and cat videos and happy stuff. And what has happened as time
has gone on, is they have gotten more and more complex in how they are
putting their information out there, how it’s being analyzed and the way
they’re targeting these ads. But the bottom line is they’re a media
company. They’re selling ads to make money. And they took information
that, for instance, your station wouldn’t have been allowed to put out
there and gave it to
people, to bad guys that shouldn’t have had it.
So, yes, we could step in and put rules in place. Now, we have to get
through the House. We have to deal with the administration. There’s all
kinds of things. But I think that this can be done.
And by the way, Senator Schatz, he’s a pretty young guy on the committee.
There’s a lot of people – Mark Warner, you know, made his fortune in this
area with telecom. He’s not on this committee, but he’s ranking on
intelligence. There’s a number of us who have been in law or been in
business who I think will be able to navigate this. And we’ve had some
Republicans interested in working with us. And I’m going to be putting out
some bipartisan legislation tomorrow.
HAYES: All right, Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you for taking some time
KLOBUCHAR: It was great to be on, Chris, thank you.
HAYES: All right. That does it for All In for this evening. The Rachel
Maddow Show starts right now with some news being broken, as I understand
it. Good evening, Rachel.
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