Trump poised to kill Iran deal amid Korea talks. TRANSCRIPT: 04/30/2018. All In with Chris Hayes
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: April 30, 2018
Guest: Chris Lu, Dara Lind, Elie Mystal, Megan Twohey, Matt Welch
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: - says is acceptable. So mark the date,
Saturday, April 28th. It`s when Donald Trump got his critics down in the
mud with him. 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: John Kelly is one of the
best people I`ve ever worked with.
HAYES: Multiple White House staffers tell NBC News that John Kelly calls
Trump an idiot, and he believes he is saving America from the President.
TRUMP: Where is General Kelly? Get him out here.
HAYES: Tonight, one of the reporters who broke that explosive story joins
me on Kelly`s future and the chaos inside the West Wing. Then, Stormy
Daniels sues President Trump for defamation.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER, STORMY DANIELS: If he continues to lie about my
client, there`s going to be consequences for that, period.
HAYES: As Michael Cohen faces new scrutiny about why the Trump campaign
paid his legal bills.
TRUMP: He represents me like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.
HAYES: Plus, have foreign leaders figured out the key to influencing our
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m sure he`ll do the right thing.
HAYES: And the case of the missing tree, when ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The President is an
idiot. That`s what his own Chief of Staff said on many occasions,
according to multiple current and former White House officials in a
blockbuster report from NBC News. John Kelly said Chief of Staff, is
denying it but four current and former White House officials have heard
Kelly call Trump an idiot and a total of eight officials have described
Kelly has repeatedly insulting the President`s intelligence and casting
himself as the savior of the country. He says stuff you can`t believe said
one senior White House official. He`ll say it and you think that is not
what you should be saying. Two official said that Kelly is particularly
contemptuous the President`s knowledge about immigration policy, told aides
he prevented Trump from signing a deal on DACA that was insufficiently
hard-line, quoting again. “He doesn`t even understand what DACA is. He`s
an idiot, Kelly said in one meeting. We`ve got to save him from himself.
The officials also said that Kelly, who told a patently false story last
year to smear Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson has made multiple
remarks that have rattled female staffers in the White House, including
repeatedly telling aides that women are more emotional than men. You`re
going to want to stick around to hear out the White House defended him on
that front. But the White House and Kelly declined to offer an on the
record response before the story is published, although three White House
spokesperson said on background they never personally heard Kelly called
Trump an idiot. In a statement late this afternoon, Kelly said, “I spend
more time with the President than anyone else and we have an incredibly
candid and strong relationship, note, not a denial. He always knows where
I stand, also not a denial, and he and I both know this story is total B.S.
I`m committed to the President, his agenda, and our country. This is
another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and
distract from the administration`s many successes. Joining me now, MSNBC
Host and NBC News Correspondent Stephanie Ruhle who broke this story.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Maybe it`s pathetic that people on your team
are that willing to be sources on the story. Being pathetic is out there
but I don`t think it`s pathetic that this story exists because there was
plenty of sourcing on it.
HAYES: Well, here`s the thing about this, right? The White House seems to
be saying two things. One, they`re trying deny that he never said it. And
then they`re also saying, well, there are people out to get Kelly. But
even if it`s the later, that doesn`t seem to me to reflect particularly
well on the White House.
RUHLE: No. And there could be people out to get Kelly within the White
House. Those things can both be true and it speaks to the White House in
chaos that the President regularly, including today, denies. And the
relationship John Kelly had with President Trump several months ago has
simply deteriorated. A couple of months ago, he was with the President at
all times, doing everything he could to sort of be hanging around the hoop.
That`s not the case. He has retreated. And to say that he`s a man of his
honor, a man of honor, he always speaks the truth, to the Federica Wilson
point, you`re correct. John Kelly has denied in the past that he wants
Jared and Ivanka far outside the White House. But we know he wants that to
be true. So there are so many cases that we know of, put this story aside,
that`s just not the case.
HAYES: Well, there`s also the Rod Porter situation, and I want to you know
because that`s a place where he was at most charitably less forthcoming and
less charitably lying about the Rob Porter situation. Here`s part from
your reporting along with your NBC colleagues, “during a firestorm in
February over accusations of domestic abuse against then-White House Staff
Rob Porter, Kelly wondered allow how more Porter would have to endure
before his honor can be restored, according to three officials who are
present with the comments. He also questioned why porter`s ex-wives
wouldn`t just move on based on the information he said he had about his
marriages, the official said.”
RUHLE: So at best, why is John Kelly opining on what Rob Porter`s wives,
ex-wives should or should not be doing? It`s John Kelly`s job to take that
information and then make decisions about staff. Absolutely not be openly
discussing what he thinks they should do. And the more we reported on how
John Kelly handled the Rob Porter situation, the more it points to that
Kelly is the one who blew this up. Rob Porter, given his past, maybe
shouldn`t have had a job in the White House to begin it. But did he
deserve it to become an international incident that ruined his life, point
to John Kelly and how John Kelly handled?
HAYES: That`s interesting. We do have reporting that the White House`s
Counsel`s Office was made aware of those allegations as early as March
RUHLE: So the White House in general, when you say how did you handle
this, and this speaks to John Kelly`s sensibility of we`ll handle this.
Well, no. In 2018, in a safe workplace, this isn`t something that you boys
can handle on the side and we`ll deal with the girls over here. No, sir.
HAYES: The you boys thing, it`s really, you know, it`s striking when you
watch this White House how many events consist of 20 men sitting around a
table, 18 men and two women sitting around the table. You can just sort of
feel what the gender dynamics of the White House are just from looking at
it. Here`s more reporting I would like you to elaborate on. The White
House spokespeople said they haven`t seen Kelly have a negative effect on
the morale of women staffers. If anything, they said, during meetings
Kelly is the bigger gentleman who steps in when aides use foul language to
note, and I`m quoting here, this is White House spokespeople defending him,
a lady is present, similarly says you shouldn`t use foul language in front
of a lady if he`s used on expletive. The spokespeople who would not speak
for the record said it`s possible Kelly may have said women are more
emotional than men with one of them remembering that general speaking,
women are more emotional than men.
RUHLE: (INAUDIBLE) I`m going to speak for women at large. We have a much
less problem with people who are cursing than we do saying women are simply
too emotional. You know, us mothers out there, how could we possibly
handle life in the tough workplace. And if this is – if the issue is
you`re too emotional to be successful, I turn you to President Donald J.
Trump`s Twitter feeds. What do you think that is filled with? Emotion.
HAYES: I mean, the funny thing is that Twitter feed would be a fireable
offense for just about anyone working anywhere except for the President of
the United States.
HAYES: Except for the President of the United States. And this issue
really that people throughout the White House, to say that John Kelly
hasn`t hurt morale, this is a guy who regularly is telling staff how lucky
they are that he is there. And if it wasn`t for him, the situation the
President would be in, possibly impeached, maybe we would be at war. And
those people in the White House are scratching their heads saying, are you
kidding me that this guy regularly says things like that? But he does.
HAYES: It`s one thing to think that, it`s another to say them out loud in
front of everyone in the White House.
RUHLE: You know, that`s exactly what we keep hearing. People saying,
listen, the President may say or do some outlandish things and our internal
voices may say oh, my gosh, is this what is happen here? But nobody but
nobody is articulating things out loud quite like John Kelly did.
HAYES: Right. And he who is not thought of their boss as an idiot cast
the first stone, right? Stephanie Ruhle, thanks. With me now for more on
the John Kelly fallout, Dara Lind, Senior Reporter at Vox, MSNBC Justice
and Security Analyst Matt Miller, former spokesman at the DOJ, and Chris
Lu, former White House Cabinet Secretary and Assistant to President Obama.
Chris, let me start with you. You know, when – I worked through kitchens,
waiting tables all through high school and college and there`s this idea of
like the thing that things said in kitchens don`t count, right? Like you
call people idiots, you call them jerks, you curse at them. The White
House is a high-stress situation. Is there some argument you made that
this is just kind of par for the course?
CHRIS LU, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CABINET SECRETARY: You know, look, people
obviously say things in frustration but you know, I worked for Rahm
Emanuel. Rahm Emanuel was not one to mince words and I never heard him
come anywhere close to this in his remarks about President Obama. Here`s
the thing. For the relationship between the President and the Chief of
Staff to work, there needs to be mutual trust and mutual respect. Whether
or not John Kelly called the President an idiot or not, it`s very clear
there`s no mutual trust and mutual respect. And the fact that you have
other White House staffers that are putting out these allegations suggest
that people who work for Kelly don`t respect him. There`s no way that a
White House can function in that climate.
HAYES: You know, Dara, I wanted to ask you about the DACA part of this
reporting because we – how does that jibe the idea that he said the
President is an idiot who doesn`t know anything about DACA. We have to
save him from himself. How does that jibe with what you reported on and
saw play out during the various attempts of a DACA deal?
DARA LIND, SENIOR REPORTER, VOX: I`m not at all surprised that this – any
of this happened or that Kelly was taking credit for it. It seems very
apparent at the time that you know, the President said as much that if
there were a deal, he would sign it and he wasn`t particularly concerned
about what was in it. And time after time his staff would come forward and
say actually we have three pages of demands, eight pages of demands, the
things that President says are important like the wall are not the things
that we think are important, like changing asylum policy, like cutting
legal immigration. So I think a lot of us intuited that John Kelly was one
of the staffers who was really pulling that back, and it`s good to see that
confirmed. But it absolutely does seem accurate that had John Kelly not
been in the room, Donald Trump might have gotten something like an $18
billion for the wall and in exchange will give permanent legal status to
DACA recipients and that did not happened.
HAYES: I`ll never forget the detail but it was Kelly who called Chuck
Schumer to say the deal is off. And that, I mean, that leaves you with
this question about this White House which is like, who speaks for the
President? What is the administration policy? These very simple things
about what the administration does or says, whether they can be trusted,
which really, really matter now as they do high stakes nuclear diplomacy.
MATT MILLER, MSNBC JUSTICE AND SECURITY ANALYST: The President speaks for
the President and no one else does. And sometimes the President will
change his mind as we talk about immigration. The president was you know,
for an immigration deal on the record in front of T.V. cameras in the Oval
Office with Senators sitting in the room and a day later was against it.
So it creates real problems for international diplomacy, but for
everything, for dealing with Congress when you don`t have anyone whose word
can be trusted because you know, no one really has the permanent faith and
confidence of this President. Because you know, one of the things that we
heard Stephanie talking about this the last thing she said in the report,
it`s fairly common knowledge it seems a lot of people in this White House
think the President is an idiot. I mean, how could they not? But they`re
not supposed to say it. So if you have all these people that are acting
like this in this you know, kind of snake pit where they don`t think highly
of the President, they don`t think highly of each other, they`re at each
other`s throats leaking all the time, it makes it impossible for anyone in
the press, on the Hill or internationally to have confidence that anything
they say can actually be counted on.
HAYES: Chris, I want to ask you about this one sort of remarkable moment
in the story in which according to the reporting John Kelly basically
apparently persuade as President not to withdraw all U.S. troops off the
Korean Peninsula unilaterally. For Kelly, the exchange underscored the
reasoning behind one of his common refrains which multiple officials
described as some version of I`m the one saving the country. The strong
implication being if we weren`t here we would have entered World War III or
the President would have been impeached, one former senior White House
official said that. What do you think of that?
LU: Well, look, there`s certainly the irony of that comment, true or not
true. And now the President is taking credit for what is happening in the
Korean Peninsula. You know, as frightening as I find so many aspects of
the story, I`m also frightened about what happens when Kelly leaves the
White House. And to be clear, his days are numbered at the White House at
this point. We already know that Donald Trump has said he doesn`t want a
chief of staff. So imagine an already chaotic Presidency completely
unleashed at that point. And the question really comes, if that happens,
will Congress, the Republican Congress start to act like a coequal branch
and put some guardrails around this President?
HAYES: Narrator voice, no. Dara, do you agree – do you agree with that
concern of Chris Lu?
LIND: I`m not sure. I think that because Kelly has always been a little
bit public about his disdain for politics and the work he is doing, even if
he hasn`t been telling the public he thinks Trump is an idiot, we know
Trump has started working around Kelly in a lot of ways, that he is not
looping him into his conversations, his phone calls. So I think it`s easy
to overstate how controlled things are now. We don`t know where the
ceiling is on how uncontrolled things can be.
HAYES: Well, part of what I think I find somewhat infuriating about all
this, Matt, is all the reporting suggests people inside the White House –
I mean, Reince Priebus is on the record saying imagine how it was 50 times
worse than what you imagined about how chaotic the White House is. All the
people inside talk to reporters every day off the record saying it`s
totally crazy. The highest level principles apparently call the President
an idiot and a moron and yet the White House turns around and says you
terrible people, bad people in the press, it`s all you. You`re the crazy
ones who want to bring the President down.
MILLER: Yes, of course. Look, I think it`s possible that the version of
the Donald Trump that we see in public, as hard as it is to believe is
actually the best version of him. And the version that they see every day
behind closed doors is much, much worse. Like I said, as hard as that is
to imagine. So, you know, it is just so chaotic there. You know, and to
your point about them blaming the press. One of the things about this
story, there is no reason to take John Kelly`s word for any of this – any
denials. He has a track record here both in the Rob Porter situation when
he not only lied personally but directed others to lie for him to the press
and blamed it on the President but also with the Frederica Wilson incident
MILLER: – where not only did he lie, but then when there was video
evidence that what he was saying wasn`t true, he didn`t back down. There
are lots of times that chief of staff – staffers will make a mistake and
if it comes out that what they said wasn`t accurate, they`ll come clean it
up. They`ll apologize or will say what it was they were really trying to
get across. He never did that and it kind of as par for course with this
White House that whenever problems they have internally, as you said, they
always blame it on someone else.
HAYES: Why do you this he can`t survive, Chris?
LU: Well, I think it`s about the credibility at this point. I mean, he
clearly doesn`t have the respect of the President. The President`s cutting
him out of conversations, nominations. You clearly have at least eight
staffers now who are bad-mouthing him. And at that point, the Chief of
Staff doesn`t function if he doesn`t have the respect above and below. I
mean, it really is one of the most important relationships between the
President and the Chief of Staff. In many ways, more important than the
one between the President and the Vice President and it seems frayed beyond
repair at this point.
HAYES: All right, Dara Lind, Matthew Miller, and Chris Lu, thank you all
for your time tonight. Next, Stormy Daniels is suing the President again,
this time over something he tweeted. I`ll explain in two minutes.
HAYES: Stormy Daniels is suing the President for a second time, filing a
defamation lawsuit over a single tweet. It involves the sketch released by
Daniels` lawyer a few weeks ago showing the man that Stormy Daniels says
threatened her in 2011 after she told her story about her sexual
relationship with Donald Trump. After that artist rendering was released,
President Trump tweeted, “A sketch years later about a non-existent man. A
total con job playing the fake news media for fools, but they know it.”
Daniels said that tweet falsely asserts that she is lying about being
threatened. Elie Mystal is the Executive Editor of the must-read legal
blog Above the Law, what do you make of the case?
ELIE MYSTAL, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ABOVE THE LAW: Donald Trump is going to
learn today, right, that if he so much as thinks about Stormy Daniels,
Michael Avenatti is prepared to sue his brain stem, OK? Trump is – thinks
that he can kind of say anything about anybody to anybody and Michael
Avenatti is doggedly pursuing him at every opportunity. And so, you know,
it`s kind of an officer and a gentleman. He is using every means fair and
unfair to get Donald Trump into a deposition at which point Avenatti wins.
HAYES: Right, but I mean, it this – I don`t know, there is two things
about this case I thought. One is can you sue the President?
MYSTAL: Yes, you can. They`re suing him in his personal capacity so
they`re able to sue him. Look, the case is light on the ground.
HAYES: What does that mean?
MYSTAL: We had had a few defamation cases based on Twitter. But that is
still a relatively new and novel way to go about defamation because Twitter
is so fleeting that it tends to be more like an opinion. And opinions,
generally speaking, are protected from defamation suits. You know, all –
you know, the kind of people who said, I don`t like that P.C. talk, there
is a reason why people do, right? There is a reason why you say in my
opinion, this is a con job. If Trump had said that, he might actually be
much more safe. The fact that he refuses to use these allegedly, it
doesn`t seem to me, like I can say right now I`m not sure if Tom Brady
assaulted Stormy Daniels because that`s what the picture looks like but you
see how I couched that, right?
MYSTAL: Trump refuses to couch things and that`s kind – that could get
him in trouble.
HAYES: There`s a broader question about the way that Twitter has created
legal headaches for him. I mean, if you were his lawyer, what would you
tell him about his use of Twitter?
MYSTAL: Stop! Just stop, man. There is nothing good that happens to him
legally on Twitter and that`s I think the other way that we kind of get
back into Avenatti`s case. I`m going give Avenatti credit for being very
smart and for understanding that his case, as alleged right now, is not the
strongest thing in the world. But we`re talking about President Snowflake
here. He is easily triggered.
MYSTAL: And if Trump takes this lawsuit as the reason to get back on
Twitter and go off on a whole another Stormy Daniels rant, we`ve already
seen that`s very easy to amend the complaint to include further
HAYES: Oh, so you think this is partly laying a trap?
MYSTAL: I think it`s a little bit – he`s poking the barrel a little bit.
And Trump so far has proved completely – like he is too stupid to follow
the legal plan, right? So if you poke him a little bit, and his lawyer
says OK, don`t say anything else, that doesn`t mean that Trump is not going
to say anything else.
HAYES: Here`s what Avenatti said about how much he likes it when the
President talks. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AVENATTI: The more they talk, the better our case gets. And that`s really
one of the reasons why we brought this suit over this tweet. I mean, that
tweet should have never been sent. It was irresponsible. It`s
undisciplined. And if the President wants to be undisciplined in politics,
that`s one thing but if you`re undisciplined in litigation, that`s when you
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MYSTAL: Exactly. Look, con job, that could be an opinion that could be a
statement offered a fact. But the next time he tweets, the next time he
calls her a liar, the next time he says something untoward about Stormy
Daniels, we have a readymade defamation suit for just – for the next tweet
to just slide right on in.
HAYES: I have a theory that one of the reasons that they keep the
President relatively locked down is because of precisely this problem
precisely with this case.
MYSTAL: Look, again, it`s really – and I know so many people don`t like
this about the law and lawyers and whatever. But there is a reason why
lawyers have to be cautious and there`s a reason why – there`s a reason
why when you talk to somebody, if you interview somebody who is in the
middle of litigation, they`ll say, well, Chris, I can`t answer you, it`s
part of pending litigation. That`s not nothing. If you talk during
pending litigation, you open yourself up to get in more trouble. Trump
doesn`t understand that these P.C .rules are not there – they`re not
trying to rob him, they`re trying to protect him.
HAYES: Do you think ultimately – there is a 90-day stay. Do you think
Avenatti can get him into a deposition?
MYSTAL: I really do. I don`t know that this case wins. But in the other
Twitter lawsuits that we have about defamation, we have seen it go through
discovery. The case against Cohen, that is almost certainly going to go
through discovery. And the whole thing about the 90 days right now, this
is the – this is the other Stormy Daniels NDA lawsuit, I don`t know that
the court did Trump any favors by delaying it 90 days because if you think
about it, 90 days from now is right in the middle of the midterms when
Avenatti can start having more discovery.
HAYES: They`re also waiting for an indictment shoe to drop on Michael
Cohen which might change everything.
MYSTAL: Exactly. So I definitely –
HAYES: You know you`re in bad shape when you`re waiting for the indictment
because that might bail you out of the civil suit. Elie Mystal, thank you.
MYSTAL: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, a (INAUDIBLE) of Trump world attacks. Michael Cohen,
why the National Enquirer may be trying to discredit the President`s lawyer
after this break.
HAYES: As Trump learned, Michael Cohen braces for a possible indictment,
what might have crossed his mind when he saw this? The extremely Trump
friendly National Enquirer which has squashed stories damaging to Trump in
the past, now explicitly attacking Michael Cohen on this front page. The
headline touts Cohen`s secrets and lies, and the story claims some are
questioning Cohen`s role, alleging blackmail, threats, hush money payoffs
and even collusion with Russia. And just in case there was any doubt about
the Enquirer`s loyalty, is it also features this story. Trump passed
polygraph proving no Russia collusion, spoiler alert no, no he did not.
It`s not true. All of this as ABC News suggests the Trump Campaign is
footing some of Cohen`s legal bills. Here to help me understand what this
means for Cohen and for Trump Megan Twohey who`s reporting help the New
York Times win the Pulitzer for Public Services this year, MSNBC Legal
Analyst Paul Butler whose a former Federal Prosecutor, and Matt Welch
Editor at Large of Reason Magazine. Megan, you reported on AMI and David
Pecker at the National Enquirer. What is that relationship between Trump
world and that publication?
MEGAN TWOHEY, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it`s been very
close. In fact, several months ago when my colleague and I we reporting on
the relationship and zooming in on Michael Cohen and some of the various
things that he`s done with AMI related to Trump during the campaign, AMI
released a statement acknowledging owning close – the close personal
relationship that David Pecker, the head of AMI had with not just with
trump, but also Cohen.
HAYES: That`s what is so crazy about this. It`s not just Trump. Michael
Cohen has – knows Pecker and has been involved in some of these sort of
what`s called catch and kill stories, right?
TWOHEY: Yes, absolutely. So this was a real turn-about. I mean, this
was a very – the AMI is completely changing its tune in terms of now not
just going on the attack, but going on the attack viciously against Cohen.
HAYES: How do you interpret that?
MATT WELCH, EDITOR AT LARGE, REASON MAGAZINE: They`re in the same
business, right? I mean, they`re in the same the print version of Michael
WELCH: They have been running interference for Donald Trump. I mean, to
the extent of paying six-figure sums to sexy time ladies so that they don`t
have their story. So them flipping, that`s it. I mean, it`s not just the
dead fish on the doorstep, it`s the horsehead in the bed at this point.
HAYES: Although it seems to me like a miscalculation. Like, don`t you
want to keep him in the tent?
WELCH: Well, here`s the thing. He`s being prosecuted on the state level.
HAYES: Not yet.
WELCH: Well, I mean, he`s being investigated, he`s being search warranted.
His life got real bad and so did President Trump`s when that search warrant
came and started looking at attorney-client stuff on the state level. The
President has no impact on that. He can`t pardon his way out of that. And
so I think the most significant phrase in the whole National Enquirer story
is they brought up collusion with Russia. So they know Michael Cohen
really well. What does it say that they thought as a firewall here we`re
going to talk about collusion with Russia? That`s very indicative about
HAYES: I should not, it was a federal – it was a federal search warrant
with the FBI. It`s unclear yet how the criminal prosecution of it might
unspool. What do you think as someone who is a former federal prosecutor
thinking about the psychology, which at this point that`s the most
important thing, right? What does Michael Cohen do?
PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: And he is scared to death because
prosecutors are going after him like he is a gangster with a law degree. I
think it`s possible that he`s being triple-teamed. One by Mueller, who is
interested in collusion, did he go to Prague? Did he not go to Prague?
The federal New York prosecutors were interested in bank fraud and possibly
illegal campaign contributions. And maybe even the New York State Attorney
General taxi medallions. I mean, come on. Again, 16 cell phones were
recovered in this search warrant.
HAYES: That`s a hell of a detail, isn`t it?
BUTLER: And they share everything. So all three sets of each prosecutor
can share information and again, it`s not looking really good for Michael
TWOHEY: I would point out actually that part of the – when the feds went
in and gathered all
these records from Cohen`s – well, the hotel where he has been staying and
from his office, some of the records that they collected were related to
AMI. I mean, there have been allegations that AMI actually
colluded with Michael Cohen in silencing Karen McDougal when it purchased
There has been evidence that Cohen was actually McDougal was in contact
with AMI as it was working to catch and kill her story there are questions
here not just about Michael Cohen, but also AMI that may now be under
HAYES: Well, that`s a great point about whether – I mean, AMI is – do
they function essentially as a first amendment protected media entity,
which would be my strong bias to view them that way for criminal purposes,
or essentially like another adjunct of Trump?
WELCH: I mean, if money is changing hands so that stories get quashed and
activities happen, that`s just a different category under the law.
TWOHEY: Well, and there is an active complaint that it actually is an end
of itself, a separate campaign finance violation.
HAYES: Oh, is there really?
TWOHEY: There is, yeah.
HAYES: Did you teach Michael Avenatti law?
BUTLER: I`m actually very proud to say that I did, taught him everything
HAYES: Yeah, you did a good job, because he obviously has set a lot of
this, it seems to me set a lot of this into motion.
BUTLER: Yeah, you know, he did. And earlier, you were talking in the
previous segment about
defamation. Another way that we know Michael Cohen might be flipping is he
dropped his defamation suit. He was concerned about allegations in the
dossier that were about him. And he said oh, that`s not true. He has
changed his tune.
And so, you know, prosecutors look for signs that someone has that
psychology where they want to turn into a snitch. And he is showing –
Cohen is showing – all of those signs.
HAYES: Jonathan Chait in a piece today sort of floating the idea of Cohen
already flipping. But you can imagine that the panic that would inspire.
WELCH: Oh my god. But Rick Wilson, the Republican consultant who is very
anti-Trump is fond of saying that Trump kind of ruins everything that he
touches. And I think what we`re seeing is the broader circle around the
president right now just kind of one by one, whether it`s just like staff
in the John Kelly case at the top of the show or specifically his lawyers,
his bag mens, his intimates, that
circle is just getting closer. And each time someone is hived off, they
are turned against with a certain ferocity. That has a bad place to be at
the center of.
BUTLER: Yeah. Ask Michael Flynn, ask George Padopoulos, ask Rick Gates,
these were all the president`s boys and they all turned on him.
TWOHEY: Right, and nobody is a bigger boy of Donald Trump than Michael
Cohen. I mean of all the people, of all the associates you`ve just
mentioned, I mean, Michael Cohen was the one who was by his side for 10
years. And not just handling sort of high profile litigation or some of
the big business deals, but we have now seen growing evidence that his job
was to cover up damaging information about Trump.
So if there is somebody – if there is somebody who is a danger of
flipping, he`s your guy.
HAYES: I mean, the fascinating thing is to consider that both David Pecker
at AMI and Michael Cohen probably know derogatory things about each other
from the things that they have done together.
WELCH: Let`s also keep in mind, let`s throw in a little civil libertarian
bone in all of this. If a highly motivated federal prosecutor wants to
shake someone down, and Trump world has a lot of people involved in a lot
of stretchy things.
WELCH: Michael Cohen, the ProPublica piece about him leads you to indicate
that if you – a motivated prosecutor wants to make him turn on anybody in
the country about anything, he probably can be turned in that sense.
So we should be hopefully at the end of the rainbow. When someone is
turned it`s for a good reason.
HAYES: Yeah – well, or that it`s truthful.
BUTLER: Yeah, let`s right. Just like innocent people take the Fifth
Amendment. So, it doesn`t mean that he is actually guilty that he took the
fifth in the lawsuit about defamation, but in this case it
actually could., because again has got mad exposure on any number of
federal and state levels. And just to be clear, the state exposure means
that the president cannot pardon him, the president is not able to pardon
anyone for a state crime.
HAYES: Final question about the money. There is $200,000 plus in legal
fees apparently being paid by the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign says
it`s all Russia-related stuff, right, so it`s by the boards that this was -
- you know, he was exposed to it because of his relationship with the Trump
campaign. We`re not paying for anything else because that would be a
BUTLER: Yeah, so if it is campaign-related, then the president`s campaign
is able to reimburse Cohen for his expenses. If it`s not, for example, if
it`s about Stormy Daniels or hush money, that doesn`t count. Another
reason he might be going to jail.
HAYES: Last thing I`ll say is that you can`t take any of these
declarations at face value. So, like we`ll see. I mean, right, they`re
saying it`s campaign-related. Who knows.
BUTLER: But it`s in the Enquirer.
Megan Twohey, Paul Butler, and Matt Welsh, thanks for your time.
Still to come, have foreign leaders figured out the secret to influencing
the president? From props to flattery, what the Trump playbook looks like
Plus, missing tree, last seen here on the White House south lawn. That`s
tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, when French President Emmanuel Macron visited
the White House last week, he arrived bearing a special gift: an oak
sapling from the site of a World War I battle in northeast France that took
place 100 years ago this June.
And so of course there was a ceremonial planting of the tree on the first
day of Macron`s visit. The Trumps and the Macrons traipsed out to the
south lawn wearing some frankly fairly impractical outfits for yard work,
then the men picked up their golden shovels and proceeded to dump, well,
five shovelfuls of dirt around the tree. The still photos somehow
captured the awkwardness of the moment even better than the video, sparking
all sorts of memes like this one from Twitter user Matthew Von Roar (ph),
“the new Sopranos season is the best.”
Or this Hunter Lurie (ph) who asked, “which Pink Floyd album is this?”
So, with their landscaping duties completed, the first couples headed off
to Mt. Vernon for dinner, but that`s not where the story ends. Because
over the weekend, the photographers of the White House noticed something
was missing. And all that remains is a patch of yellow grass. The mystery
of the disappearing French oak tree is Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: A mystery on the White House south lawn. The oak tree planted just
last week by President Trump and French President Macron went missing over
the weekend with nothing left but a faint patch of yellow turf.
Well, tonight I`m happy to report we have good news about the tree. It is
alive and well in an undisclosed location waiting out a quarantine period
that is mandatory for all living organisms imported to the U.S., more
regulatory red tape, if you will.
The French ambassador to the United States confirmed on Twitter the roots
in a plastic protection during a ceremonial planting last week so that no
potential disease could
spread to other White House plants in the short time the tree was in the
An official from President Macron`s office explained to Reuters that this
was the plan all along, quote, “it was actually a special favor from Trump
to France to be able to plant the tree the day of the
president`s visit. Since then, it has returned to quarantine and will soon
be replanted in the White House gardens. Don`t worry, the tree is doing
HAYES: As the U.S. faces monumental decisions about nuclear diplomacy on
two continents, with the potential to reshape the world for years to come,
world leaders are scrambling to influence the president of the United
States using the best way to his heart: extravagant flattery. Call it the
audience of one doctrine of international diplomacy on full display today
from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who of course opposes the
Iran deal, nuclear deal, knows the joint comprehensive plan of action, or
JCPOA. He gave a presentation to the press in English using giant texts
and plenty of pictures, even a big display of props to try and persuade the
president to kill the deal before an upcoming May 12 deadline.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: The Iran deal, a nuclear
deal, is based on lies. It`s based on Iranian lies and Iranian deception.
President Trump will decide, will make his decision, on what to do with the
nuclear deal. I`m sure he`ll do the right thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, never mind the material Netanyahu presented appears to come
from before the deal was put in place, much of it reviewed years ago by the
UN`s nuclear watchdog. That agency`s former chief inspector told The
Guardian, quote, “I just saw a lot of pictures I had seen before.”
And never mind that Iran`s dishonesty about its nuclear program was a major
reason for doing the deal in the first place, as the president`s own
defense secretary told congress last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I will say that it is written
almost with an assumption that Iran would try to cheat. So the
verification, what is in there is actually pretty robust.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: None of that matters, all that matters is that a certain person
caught a few minutes of Netanyahu`s performance on TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What Israel has done today with the news conference and Prime
Minister Netanyahu just gave a very – I don`t know if everybody has seen
it, but I got to see a little bit of it, and that is just not an acceptable
situation. I think if anything, what`s happening today and what`s happened
over the last little while and what we have learned has really shown that
I`ve been 100 percent right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right. Mission accomplished, Netanyahu.
Now, Netanyahu is allied against the Iran deal with, of course, Saudi
Arabia, which went above and beyond to massage the president`s ego during
his visit to the kingdom last year. The Saudis have a kind of inside track
on this as they are pretty used to public displays of monarchial flattery.
They`re pitted against European leaders who support the nuclear deal and
who have been trying to mount a charm offensive of their own. We, of
course, saw French President Emmanuel Macron`s lovefest with the president
just last week followed by an unusually friendly visit from German
Chancellor Angela Merkel. And just as the president is poised to undue a
verified accord that has thus far prevented Iran from developing nuclear
weapons, he is also simultaneously plunging head long into face-to-face
talks with a regime whose record of lying about its nuclear program and
defying international norms is arguably as bad, if not worse, than Iran`s.
The only real difference seems to be that one of those regimes already
signed a deal with the president`s predecessor.
South Korea President Joon Jae-in, who wants diplomacy with the north, has
been as adept as
anyone at playing to the president`s vanity, praising Trump for bringing
North Korea to the negotiating
table and letting him take credit for saving the Olympics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`ll tell you, we did a great job on the Olympics. President Moon
of South Korea said without Donald Trump the Olympics would have been a
total failure. It`s true. True. You know? Might as well say it, nobody
else is going to say it, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, the South Korean leader has a new ploy about the president of
the United States. What it is and how it`s being received by the audience
of one next.
HAYES: Following last week`s historic summit between the leaders of North
and South Korea, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is making sure to share
the credit, saying today that if anyone wins the Nobel prize for the talks
it should be Donald J. Trump.
And it`s hard to imagine a more powerful motivator for this president to
pursue nuclear diplomacy than the sheer thrill of hearing rallygoers chant
the name of the world`s most famous peace prize.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Nobel! Nobel! Nobel! Nobel! Nobel! Nobel!
TRUMP: That`s very nice. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Lawrence Wilkerson is a retired army colonel, served as chief of
staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell; Trita Parsi is president
of the National Iranian American Council, author of “Losing an Enemy:
Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy.”
Colonel Wilkerson, let me start with you. How do you make sense of this
president and this White House`s different approach, as it appears, to the
nuclear issue with respect to Iran and North Korea?
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): I have to look at North Korea
first and I have to say that I`m stunned by two things: one is amateur hour
in the White House is still going on and it`s added to and augmented by the
musical chairs with some of the critical positions like the secretary of
state and national security adviser.
But the thing that worries me most is the utter void of history, the utter
void of reading, the utter void of knowing what`s happened in the past.
Kim Dae-jung, president of South Korea, got the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000
for this very same thing, for sitting down with the north and talking and
negotiating and coming very close to a peace treaty.
We forget that Madeleine Albright, the Secretary of State, was in Pyongyang
three hours with Kim Jong-un`s father, Kim Jong-il. This has happened
The difference is that we now have amateur hour in the White House to deal
with it. That`s my profound concern about North Korea.
HAYES: Trita, I wonder as someone who has been very invested in this Iran
deal, written a book about it, been a very active participant in the debate
over it and in favor of it, the way that it gets talked about is the hawks,
the military – you know, the people that want war are fighting the deal.
But then what does it say to you when you watch the president at a rally in
Michigan being cheered by his adoring fans who I think probably hate the
Iran deal cheering “Nobel, Nobel” about the possibility of sitting down
with Kim Jong-un?
TRITA PARSI, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL IRANIAN AMERICAN COUNCIL: Well, this is
what we get when we have a president who`s far more concerned about optics
than he is about substance. Even if he were to get a nuclear deal with the
North Koreans, it is impossible for it to be anywhere close as tight and as
restrictive as the deal that Obama negotiated with the Iranians.
The problem, though, was that Obama had his name on that deal and Trump
doesn`t care about the substance, he just wants to make sure that he has
his own deal with his name on it. And as a result he`s really gambling
with U.S. national security, because this Iran deal is critical. Without
it, the United States and Iran will start drifting toward war once more.
HAYES: Brian Schatz, senator from Hawaii, tweeted making your point saying
the reason they
want to undo the Iran deal is Barack Obama.
Do you think, Colonel Wilkerson, world leaders have figured out essentially
how to cater to the
ego of this president when dealing with these weighty international issues?
WILKERSON: I think they have. And I think it`s very dangerous. I watched
Macron. I watched Merkel. I watched Theresa May. And I watch other
leaders like Moon Jae-in, and I see how they are exploiting the amateur
hour in the White House. I see how they`re exploiting the narcissism, the
egotism, the arrogance in the White House.
And I understand they`re not exploiting it to the credit of the United
States, they`re exploiting it to the credit of their own countries. And it
worries me, because what it`s turning out to be is the U.S. isolated, the
U.S. increasingly alone, and the U.S. having to stand up for itself making
America great again, if you will, in the sense that we`re really making
America weak again and divorcing ourselves
from all the things post World War II – policies, both security and
foreign, that made us strong in the first place.
HAYES: Trita, Netanyahu`s presentation today centered on the basic idea –
that it went like
this – the Iran regime has been deceptive and lied about the intents of
their nuclear program in the past about what they were doing with it.
They`ve always maintained it was purely peaceful. There`s evidence that`s
not the case, and ergo, because they are deceptive and because we can
document this, they are not a regime with whom one can have a deal.
What is your response to that?
PARSI: Well, it`s actually the argument the Israelis have been making for
quite some time, because if you can`t make a deal with them, what are you
left with? Well, then you have to go to war. And that`s what the
Netanyahu government has been pushing the United States to do, quite
unsuccessfully, but nevertheless that`s been what his agenda has been
consisting of for quite some time now.
And I think what we see with what is taking place right now is that if the
North Koreans are – some people are arguing that the North Koreans are
not, you know, affected by what the Iranians will do. But the Iranians are
following the North Korean case very, very closely, because they`re going
to draw the conclusion I fear that they will say, well, look, Iran made a
mistake by only having enrichment. If they had gone further and actually
tested a bomb and tested missiles that could reach
the American mainland, then they would get a deal with the United States
that the United States also would be adhering to.
This is a very, very dangerous development, not to say that we shouldn`t
have a deal with the North Koreans, but not at the expense of killing the
existing deal that actually is working.
HAYES: What do you think about that, colonel, about what incentive
messages the current sort of dual track sends?
WILKERSON: Well, I agree with Trita. If I were sitting in Tehran right
now, whether I were
leading the RGC or I were the Ayatollah or indeed President Rouhani, I
would come to the same conclusion: the way to beat the United States is to
build a nuclear weapon and then negotiate. And I would start forthwith.
HAYES: Colonel, what do you see as the consequences if the U.S. were to
pull out of this deal
given that it`s negotiated with a bunch of other countries, including
Russia, China, and some of our closest allies?
WILKERSON: I think we continue to put real ruptures in the Transatlantic
link. I think we continue to send signals to our allies in the Pacific
like Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, that
we`re no longer trustworthy. And I think we start a situation that will
fold, as Trita indicated, right into Bibi Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman`s
plans, and that is for the United States to take Iran on and change the
regime there and keep the region destabilized, because as long as it`s
destabilized then neither the Persians nor the Arabs can get together
HAYES: Trita, where do you think Mattis is on this?
PARSI: I think Mattis came in – I mean, Mattis has a history of being
quite hawkish on Iran. He got fired from the Obama administration, because
he actually wanted to have a small confrontation with Iran. He believed
that a small war would actually be necessary to push back the Iranians.
I think he has kind of changed his mind, not in the sense that he`s a fan
of the nuclear deal or that he`s changed his mind about the Iranians. I
think he`s changed his mind, because he`s fearful of the
United States being at war with a country like Iran when the commander-in-
chief is named Donald Trump.
HAYES: So you think that`s what`s flipped him.
PARSI: I think so. I think he`s just seeing that this is a reckless
president that doesn`t understand international politics and it would be as
bad as it is right now, imagine how bad it would be
if the United States was at war with Donald Trump at its helm.
HAYES: Colonel, you`re nodding your head.
WILKERSON: I think Trita`s right, and I think there`s another dimension to
it too. I think Mattis has learned just how much trouble the all-volunteer
force is. It`s in physical trouble, ethical and moral trouble. It`s in
real trouble. And he does not want to take on an enemy as big, as
strategically deep and as ultimately guerrilla warfare powerful as Iran
could prove to be.
HAYES: That`s an excellent point. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson and Trita
Parsi, good to have you both.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
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