Cohen to tell all. TRANSCRIPT: 1/10/2019, All In w. Chris Hayes.
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: January 10, 2019
Guest: Mazie Hirono, Pramila Jayapal, Elizabeth Holtzman
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, back in Washington there`s some big
news about Michael Cohen.
HAYES: The President`s fixer will face the public.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m not worried about it at
HAYES: Tonight, Michael Cohen agrees to testify to Congress in public.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: He directed me to make the
HAYES: What he may say –
COHEN: The man doesn`t tell the truth.
HAYES: What questions will be asked.
COHEN: It`s said that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.
HAYES: Why this could be a John Dean moment for the President.
JOHN DEAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I began by telling the President
that there was a cancer growing on the presidency.
HAYES: And what it all means for Donald Trump.
TRUMP: Michael Cohen is a very talented lawyer.
HAYES: And as the President prepares to stage an emergency –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the buck stops with you over this shutdown?
TRUMP: The buck stops with everybody.
HAYES: Why Donald Trump`s shut down over a wall isn`t about a wall at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s what we`ve got to restore is Western
civilization for the world, Tucker.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. It is a new era and
that will become very evident on February 7th just four weeks from today.
Because that is the day that Michael Cohen will appear before a Democratic-
led House Oversight Committee and testify under oath in public in front of
the American people about what the President of the United States and his
former boss asked him to do.
Keep in mind,1 we have not had anything like this basically from most of
the Trump era since fired FBI Director James Comey testified before the
Senate Intelligence Committee back in June 2017. In truly gripping
testimony, Comey said that the President told him he needed his loyalty,
that the President directed him to let go of Michael Flynn`s investigation.
But the President fired him over the Russia investigation and that the
President was untrustworthy, that the President lied quote plain and
Since then and probably not coincidentally, Republicans have kept testimony
behind closed doors or in the case of the House GOP completely failed to
provide any true oversight of this President. With Democrats now in
charge, that all changes. Michael Cohen will testify under oath about the
man identified in court documents as Individual One, Donald Trump, who
Cohen says told him to make criminal hush money payments to two women,
campaign finance law violations, felonies, a conspiracy to evade campaign
finance law in order to win the election.
“In particular and as Cohen has now admitted with respect to both payments,
he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual One. That
would be the president showing up in that court filing there. Cohen will
testify under oath before the House Oversight Committee publicly on camera
and answer questions about the nature of Individual One, his former boss,
the President. This is the beginning in a whole new chapter in this story.
And let`s bring in NBC News National Political Reporter Heidi Przybyla and
MSNBC Political Analyst Tim O`Brien, executive director of Bloomberg
Opinion. Heidi how did this come about?
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, apparently
according to his lawyer who spoke earlier today on NBC, Michael Cohen is in
fact looking and hoping that you know, when he goes to prison which is
going to happen either way in March, that at some point through the legal
process perhaps you can come back and get a shorter sentence somehow. And
so it is in his interest to cooperate and to provide as much information as
possible and to look like he`s providing – he`s being helpful.
Now, it`s – you know, we don`t know if that`s actually going to be
successful but he`s got a strong, a very powerful motivation to be as
helpful as he can. And by the way it`s not just going to be this one
appearance. This is just going to be the opening curtain here. There are
many other committees that want to also talk to Michael Cohen before he
does go to jail in March.
HAYES: The President today Tim O`Brien appearing to be unperturbed by this
news. Take a listen what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Back in Washington there`s some big news about
Michael Cohen. He`s agreed to testify before the House Democrats next
month. What do you think of that? Are you worried?
TRUMP: I`m not worried about it at all. No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What do you think of that?
TIM O`BRIEN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Cool as a cucumber, not, right?
He`s been tweeting at Michael Cohen over the past year. Anytime he`s been
worried that Michael Cohen might offer Robert Mueller`s investigators or
the Southern District of New York information that creates problems for the
President. So the idea that he`s calm and collected about this is absurd.
I think he`s got to be profoundly worried about it.
And in fact I think his Cohen`s testimony starts to roll nearer as we get
closer to February 7th, I imagine you`re going to see the President on
Twitter inveighing against Michael Cohen.
HAYES: Yes. One of the things, Heidi, that we know is that Michael Cohen
has some evidence. He`s already supplied that infamous tape and then
discussing it. And we also know that he`s wrapped up in a lot of different
things. What is – what is House Oversight – what is Elijah Cummings
interested in as far as we know?
PRZYBYLA: So the rules, the ground rules for this are that he cannot
reveal anything that would be related to Mueller`s investigation. Of
course, the investigation may be at a different stage by that point. We`re
not talking about February. But for right now, that still leaves a lot of
other areas that they`re going to probe, right? Just that issue alone of
the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal is going to be very
revealing because it will be on the record in front of the American people.
Many lawmakers are I have a piece of that issue. And then it`s possible
that he could also be cleared, this will all be negotiated in advanced with
Mueller, but he could be cleared to talk about some things like the Trump
Tower in Moscow.
PRZYBYLA: He could be cleared to talk about some aspects for example of
the Trump Tower meeting. And so that will all be a negotiation between
Mueller and Congress. But there`s a lot that they can get into. And by
the way Chris, if all else fails, I`ll bet you, he knows a lot about what`s
in David Peckers vault. David Pecker, of course, is the owner of the
National Enquirer who is said to have a secret vault of secrets. And you
know, Michael Cohen worked for Donald Trump for 10 years so he may know a
lot about what`s in there.
HAYES: It`s a great point, Heidi. And he`s going to be under oath and
he`s at the core of this. I mean, one of the things that we lose sight of
I think because of all the craziness of Trump is that the President has
already been implicated in the commission of a felony and being a part of a
conspiracy ordering the commission of felony that was in furtherance of his
own election that criminally violated a lot to get him elected.
O`BRIEN: And not only involved with orchestrating it giving direction to
the people who were in it. You know, the sentencing members that came out
just before Christmas, and the issue the prosecutors focus not about
Michael Cohen lied to Congress. And that that was among the more offensive
things that he had done. They indicate that what he said in Congress came
at the direction of another person whom they didn`t identify.
HAYES: That`s a great point. Right. He consulted essentially about what
to tell the truth and what to lie about.
O`BRIEN: And he was sort of practicing the story spreading around getting
coached. There`s nothing to prevent members of Congress while Michael
Cohen goes now there is a who gave you guidance before you came and
testified to us and lied, and can you be specific about that guidance. And
if that gets back to the President, that that ends up contributing to a
fact pattern on the President`s behavior.
He`s the one who dictated the memo in the summer of 2017 about the cover-up
of the Trump Tower meeting. He`s the one who we have on tape talking about
the payments of Stormy Daniels, telling Michael Cohen to speak to his
accountant Allen Weisselberg. And then you have perhaps this third episode
where Michael Cohen goes down to Congress and lies to them possibly the
direction of the President.
HAYES: And we should note, Heidi, the President has lied flatly about all
this from the beginning. Here he is. This is as recently as August 22nd,
2018 talking about whether he knew beforehand about what Michael Cohen was
up to. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know about the payments?
TRUMP: Later on I knew. Later on. But you have to understand, what he
did and they weren`t taken out of campaign finance, that`s a big thing,
that`s a much bigger thing. Did they come out of the campaign. They
didn`t come out of the campaign. They came from me. And I tweeted about
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s just one of many lies along the path. There will probably
be many more. Heidi Przybyla –
PRZYBYLA: Well, remember where we started as well which was the lie on Air
Force One that he don`t even knew anything about it in the first place.
HAYES: Exactly. And he says no. Heidi Przybyla, Tim O`Brien, thank you
both. For more on the potentially massive legal implications, I`m joined
by MSNBC Legal Analyst Danny Cevallos, a Criminal Defense Attorney and
MSNBC Legal Analyst Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern
District of Michigan. Picking up on something that Heidi was talking
about, the kind of deconfliction between Mueller`s folks and Congress, how
do you imagine or see that working, Barbara?
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I would imagine that counsel
to the committee would be talking with a member of Mueller`s team to try to
find out areas that are off-limits. You know, I imagine that Michael Cohen
has shared with Robert Mueller everything he knows of value in an effort to
get a substantial assistance reduction in his sentencing. We don`t know
all that stuff yet and I think the public is very hungry to hear all of
But if by doing so it would damage Robert Mueller`s investigation by
tipping off other witnesses or helping people get their stories straight,
that would not be a good thing for our country. And so I imagine that the
counsel to the committee will meet with members of Mueller`s team to talk
about some areas that may be off-limits so as not to damage that
HAYES: You know, Danny I wanted to have you here because you`re a defense
attorney and I was thinking about what the thinking for someone who`s
representing Michael Cohen from a legal perspective would be walking into
this because he is someone who he`s already pleaded to five evasions
attacks – five counts of tax evasion, two counts of campaign finance
violations, making false – he`s already pled once to making a false state
to – statement of Congress. They are going to – the Republicans on that
committee are licking their chops I think a little bit about how they can
go after him and impeach him.
DANNY CEVALLOS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: There`s a mechanism under the federal
rules that allows a defendant to cooperate before his sentencing but also
after his sentencing. It`s much more rare and you don`t get the same
reduction as you do for that pre-sentence corroboration, but that is
clearly what Michael Cohen has in mind. And it means subjecting himself to
the withering cross-examination of Congress.
And Chris, this is why this is so exciting. You just asked Barbara about
compromising potentially the Mueller investigation. OK, so we carve that
out. He doesn`t talk about that so as not to anger the Mueller team. What
remains is the entire universe of bad things that Michael Cohen has ever
done. He does not have any Fifth Amendment privilege concerns because he`s
already been convicted and sentenced on all those crimes. He was never
part of the executive branch so he`s not going to claim hey these are
executive secrets, there`s an executive privilege. No, he`s a private
So – and then thirdly, the rules of evidence don`t apply at Congress.
They can ask about anything in the world they want to ask about and no
one`s going to stand up, no defense attorney and shout objection relevance.
HAYES: So there`s this one more thing to about him, Barbara, which is the
degree to which he`s been entirely truthful, and there`s two sort of data
points here. So Michael Avenatti of course who sued Michael Cohen and got
some of the ball rolling on what would eventually unravel here says Michael
Cohen will never be John Dean. Cohen is trying to act like a hero in
reality. His crimes are significant reason why Trump was elected. He
continues to refuse to fully cooperate with prosecutors with SDNY at the
same time he helps Trump in Stormy`s case fraud.
And then there`s this item about the fact that Cohen having denied he was
in Prague and the possibility according to McClatchy that there`s some
cellphone data indicating otherwise. All of which I guess adds up to the
question of do we know that Cohen is telling the full truth at this point
even as he heads to Congress?
MCQUADE: Yes. I think it`s very difficult. He has a lot of baggage with
him. What a prosecutor would do in that scenario is sort of the old Reagan
line of trust but verify. Ask a question but only use that testimony if
you can corroborate it with independent evidence.
In a Congressional hearing, it`s a little different. You`ll listen to his
testimony but I don`t know that they perceive that there`ll be any action
taken on it unless that can also be corroborated. I think everyone will
take with a grain of salt that which Michael Cohen has to say. But at this
point after he has been convicted of various crimes. He may feel that he
has no reason to continue to lie if he has lied in the past but nonetheless
I do think that his credibility is in question.
HAYES: When you`ve got folks going before a congressional committee
nominee particularly or others, they do a kind of a lot of intensive prep
murder boards. They you know, they have folks play various members the
committee. Would that be what you were undertaking at this with your
client about to go before Congress?
CEVALLOS: Absolutely because the crimes that Michael Cohen can still
commit are lying in Congress.
CEVALLOS: He`s already been –
HAYES: Don`t do it again, buddy.
CEVALLOS: On all the bad things he did before but now he can create new
bad things every time he raises his hand before whatever committee he
testifies in front of because there will likely be more than just this one.
So he has to be prepared exhaustively. He met for over around 70 hours
with the Special Counsel, with federal investigators so he has been
questioned for a long time.
He`s left a long trail of facts. His attorneys have to sit down with him
and make sure that he`s going to get the facts straight in Congress because
people are going to study his words for potential lies and he needs to know
what is truth, what is fact, and what he does not know.
HAYES: It`s interesting because this is someone Michael Cohen and the
President I think who have both operated in a very factual grey zone for a
very long time are now sort of in a – in a whole new world. Danny
Cevallos and Barra McQuade, thank you both. Next, what it means to finally
have public accounting of facts about the President`s alleged crimes.
Former Congresswoman Liz Holtzman, a veteran in Watergate hearings on why a
public hearing is such a big deal next.
HAYES: For nearly two years of the Trump era, we`ve essentially had two
kinds of investigations into Donald Trump. There`s been of course the
Mueller investigation. A black box with few leaks if any, I`d say probably
none. Occasionally we get a blockbuster publicly legal filing from them
and occasionally we will hear wild speculation sometimes from lawyers
sitting across from Mueller and his group. But Mueller himself appears to
have his team locked down. So that`s the Mueller folks.
Then there`s the second kind of investigation by a GOP controlled Congress
with what appeared to be a legitimate but very non-public probe in the
Senate and a largely non-public and largely illegitimate sham undertaking
in the House.
Here`s what`s been missing so far. Any kind of real sustained public
accounting of the facts of what Donald Trump is alleged to have done until
now. Now the Democrats controlled the House and are starting to hold
public hearings that could matter tremendously. Remember, a lot of the
details about Watergate weren`t known pretty clearly even very early on,
but it was not until the public televised Watergate hearings began in the
Senate in May 1973 that Nixon`s approval ratings started to really plummet
until he finally resigned.
Here with me now Elizabeth Holtzman, a former Democratic Congresswoman from
New York who served on the Judiciary Committee in the House that voted to
impeach Richard Nixon. She`s also the author of The Case for Impeaching
Trump. How do you see this? How significant important is it to have
Michael Cohen come testify publicly?
ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN (D), FORMER REPRESENTATIVE, NEW YORK: I think it`s
huge. And I want to go back to Watergate to help explain that. As you
said, the American people really didn`t understand the facts until they saw
the televised hearings at the Senate Watergate committee held. John Dean
came before that committee, other top aides of Nixon came before the
John Dean testified that the President – that he told the President there
was a cancer on the presidency and that hush money was being paid, pardons
were being offered, and people could see his testimony, judge his demeanor,
judge whether he was lying or telling the truth. But the most important
thing was that they could see what the arguments were, what the contentions
Here, Dean was saying the President was told about a cover-up and he did
nothing. The President said, oh he`s lying. Well, then, of course, you
knew that there was this contradiction but you didn`t know the parties, you
didn`t see the testimony. He didn`t get the granularity, the detail. And
that`s what`s going to happen and this is going to unfold the way you peel
an onion. You`re going to peel the facts away and Michael Cohen is
particularly important because he knows the whole range of misconduct
fraud, deceit, criminality that Donald Trump has been involved in for a
very long time.
HAYES: You know, it strikes me that even when you look at the (INAUDIBLE)
transcripts and you think about the quite traumatic two moments in which
Michael Cohen has gotten up in federal court there`s a very big difference
in public perception between that with courtroom sketches and transcripts
and actually watching the man say it.
HOLTZMAN: Right. Because he`s also going to be questioned not only by
friendly questioners but by hostile questions. The public is going to get
a sense is this guy really telling the truth? And it may bring out some
details that we haven`t heard that give more credibility to what he`s been
saying. He`s going to be asked about Donald Trump`s reactions, those
haven`t come out in the press, those haven`t come out really fully in court
hearings. So the testimony about Donald Trump, the kind of person he is,
the kind of what he was telling his fixer to do in private, that`s what`s
going to come out.
HAYES: There`s so much we don`t know about what – even just when you take
the little – the relatively thin slice of the story of what he was doing
with those hush money payments and what he knew and whether there were
other payments that were made etcetera, it would be useful to know that
just to get that part of the story nailed out.
HOLTZMAN: Correct. That`s one part of the story that`s surely going to
come out and come out in much more detail. What Donald Trump said? Was
Donald Trump in the room? Where there were various other conversations for
example with the publisher of the – of the magazine that was going to took
the story and squelched it. I mean, there`s going to be a lot of that`s
coming out, but they`re also going to be other facts.
For example, did Donald Trump know beforehand about the Trump Tower meeting
and did he approve it? What did he know? It won`t be just did he know
beforehand. What exact – how do you know that that was the case of you –
if he`s going to allege that and what exactly happened. So it`s going to
be detailed in a way that the American people get a much better
understanding of what has gone on here.
HAYES: Here`s the Pew polling on Nixon which I think is really interesting
if we take a look at what happens. He starts to go down sort of early in
in 70 you know, three after the inauguration, right? So that always
happens. You get inaugurated, you go down. But where he surely starts to
plummet is after those hearings happen as he dives towards that 24 percent
he ends up with. what is it about the publicness that allows people to fix
Because I think right now we`re in a moment where people even make jokes,
people I know make jokes to me about like I can`t keep all these names
straight. There`s – you`re giving me two more Ukrainians. Like what am I
supposed to do with all this?
HOLTZMAN: Right. Well, I mean ultimately, sitting in front of the members
of Congress who are asking tough questions is a way of getting to the
American people what the facts are. And it`s not just the facts, it`s his
sincerity, it`s his credibility. Those are vital things to know. And the
American people are good judges of that. And that was one of the things –
that`s why those hearings was so important. Because Nixon said I never
said those things and then when the special prosecutor wanted to get the
tapes to prove whether Nixon was telling the truth or Dean was telling the
truth, that`s why the public understood those tapes are so important.
HAYES: Well, there`s a tantalizing possibility of other tapes here as
well. Elizabeth Holtzman, thank you very much for your time.
HOLTZMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: Still ahead, the President is already flailing under the pressure
of a Democratic House. What to expect as he starts facing escalating
congressional oversight after this.
HAYES: Well, the President was at the border today, a trip that he himself
reportedly called just a “photo-op.” His Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin
was on Capitol Hill briefing lawmakers about the Trump administration`s
plan to lift sanctions on companies linked to Russian oligarch and friend
of Vladimir Putin Oleg Deripaska. And Speaker Nancy Pelosi was not pleased
with his performance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This perceived competition
mind you was one of the worst classified briefings we`ve received from the
Trump administration. The Secretary barely testified, answer some
questions, but he didn`t give testimony. They had an intelligence briefing
which I won`t go into, and then they read a document which was unclassified
wasting the time of the members of Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, Mnuchin`s testimony was the first of what promises to be many
escalating oversight actions by the newly empowered House Democrats as we
saw today with the news that Michael Cohen will testify next month leaving
the President ever more desperate to change the subject.
Joining me now to talk about this dynamic, Matt Miller MSNBC Justice and
Security Analyst, former Chief Spokesman for the Justice Department and
Wajahat Ali Contributing Op-Ed Writer for The New York Times. Matt, let`s
start on the Mnuchin testimony which I think was probably one of the bigger
stories on Capitol Hill today other than the shutdown and other than
Michael Cohen. That you`ve got the Treasury Secretary coming to justify
why in the world they`re lifting sanctions on this guy who is at the center
of much of what has been investigated by Mueller.
This is – I want to play you Mnuchin`s reaction and to get your sense of
what you think transpired. Take a listen to what Mnuchin had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN MNUCHIN, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, UNITED STATES: I was somewhat
surprised to see the Speaker`s comment. I was available and not only did
we accommodate them and waited while they were voting, but we sat through
and gave them close to an hour and a half and answered all their questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What do you think?
MATT MILLER, MSNBC JUSTICE AND SECURITY ANALYST: I think Secretary Mnuchin
is about to find out that if he didn`t satisfy them in private, he`s going
to satisfy them in public. Next time he had to explain himself in public
and that`s a much more difficult, much more awkward setting because
obviously the cameras are on, the lights are on. And instead of being able
to deflect some of these questions in private, you`re going to be doing it
in front of the full glare of the spotlight and the American people. and I
think that`s something that all of the Trump administration officials are
going to have to get used to over the next two years.
They have gotten used to being able to go up to the Hill and basically blow
off requests from members of Congress. They don`t respond to letters for
the most part. When they do go up they face friendly audience from
Republicans. They refuse to answer questions knowing that the Republican
chairman would not follow up with a subpoena. They would oftentimes you
know, make this kind of phony executive privilege claim where they`ve
refused to discuss any conversations with the President and then not have
the Chairman actually try to force them to do so. And all that has changed
And I think what you`ll see our Democratic committees which now bring –
can bring two things to the table. One, evidence that they can gather in
the form of subpoenas and witness interviews, and two eyeballs in the forms
of very dramatic public hearings. And we`re going to see the first big one
on February 7 when Michael Cohen takes the Hill.
HAYES: You know, Waj, as the president was down doing this sort of stunty
border trip today, which he himself characterizes as a stunty photo op.
But Rachel Maddow said this to me the other night as we were covering the,
I think, somewhat stunty Oval Office address, which is that a lot of this
may just revolve around the fact that he is desperate for the attention to
be on him now when he, for the first time, has like a kind of attentional
competition in the city of Washington, D.C.
ALI: Yeah, I think he`s fond of Game of Thrones. So, in honor of
President Trump, and let me do a new meme, subpoenas are coming. And now
that we have a blue wave/tsunami, we`re going to have, as Matt said, a lot
of hearings, a lot of subpoenas. Adam Schiff, House Intelligence
Committee, we`re going to have Elijah Cummings who, with bipartisan support
by the way, filed 51 letters. But now that Democrats have actually taken
over and actually care about oversight, they`re going to issue those
And so Donald Trump goes back to what he knows best, which a kind of a
white nationalist, white racial anxiety, right, sorry, economic anxiety, my
bad. And he doubles down on this manufactured border crisis. And I always
want to say that when I get on television that there`s no crisis. It`s
And he`s desperately trying right now, especially with Michael Cohen now
coming up February 7, right, the Mueller investigation, plummeting approval
ratings, the fact that the trade war is not going that well. All of this
is going against him, and tomorrow he`s going to break the record or he`s
going to tie the record, sorry, 21 days of the government being shutdown.
That last record was held in 1995, under the Clinton administration. He`s
most likely going to break that record, 800,000 federal employees are going
to miss their paycheck.
And guess what, it doesn`t matter if you are a Republican or Democrat, you
like to eat food and pay your bills. And unfortunately it`s going to take
some immense pain and suffering. And what we`ve already seen from this
great New York Times article that came out where they interviewed a
officer in Florida. She said I`m still supporting Trump, but he`s hurting
me now and he`s not the right people.
So now Americans are going to get hurt. And some of those Americans,
Chris, are Republicans who voted for Trump. And guess what, when they miss
that paycheck, that`s going to be
pain, and they don`t want a wall. I guarantee they would want a paycheck
over a wall. So, that`s what I`m hoping for.
HAYES: Well, but it`s also the case, Matt, that this is a fight that he`s
in now on the shutdown fight that is a fight that`s a different fight than
fighting with congress over whether they`re going to comply with subpoenas.
And in a weird way, as bad as the shutdown fight is going for him, and I do
not think it has been a political winner, it is preferable to lots of
protracted fights over your cabinet members being subpoenaed and having to
turn over documents or witnesses.
MILLER: You know, it`s one of the weird things about this administration.
So, I was in the Obama administration when the House changed hands in 2010.
And all of a sudden we had to deal
with a bunch of aggressive investigations by the Republican House. You
might remember fast and
furious, which what it ides, it not only – not only does it drag
information out of you and it`s a distraction to you, but it prevents you
from focusing on what your agenda is for the country.
Now, one of the weird things about this administration is, they don`t
really have much of an agenda for this country. I mean, what is the
housing agenda at HUD that Ben Carson is going to be tied
up and not to focus on because he`s going to be responding to subpoenas
from members of congress? I have no idea.
I mean, the president`s agenda some days it seems like it`s to tweet and to
go on Fox and Friends. And there`s not a big policy agenda that he has
left other than the wall, really. So the wall is it. We`re going to deal
with that one way or another it seems in the next month or so, probably by
this emergency declaration, if he does pull the trigger on that.
But after that`s over, there`s not much left on the table for him, so there
really is, I think, you know – there`s not going to be a lot going on…
HAYES: It`s a vacuum.
MILLER: …other than these investigations. That`s exactly right.
HAYES: Matt Mill – and Wajahat, what did you want to say?
ALI: You know, I know it`s not sexy when you hear about subpoenas and
hearings, but I do think that these hearings are going to cripple Donald
Trump in the next two years, especially when they investigate the financial
trail to Russia, to Saudi Arabia, to UAE. I know it`s not sexy, but I
think that`s what`s ultimately going to cripple him going up to the 2020
HAYES: Matt Miller and Wajahat Ali, thank you both for joining me.
Why the president`s fight over the wall has nothing to do with the actual
wall. Making sense of Steve King, his defense of western civilization and
Trump`s wall next.
HAYES: The president was down at the border today for just the latest in a
series of stunts. He is trying to work himself out of this political
Now, last night we reported that the ratings for Chuck and Nancy part of
the show, the response to Trump`s Oval Office speech, actually got higher
ratings than Trump`s speech itself, but those were just the preliminary
overnight ratings. It`s the top markets.
When it was all said and done, the president did manage to eke out a
national ratings victory over his rivals, although not on the cable
The speech has not, however, achieved any sort of political win for the
president. And it`s hard to imagine any photo op today that is going to
top this. Exclusively – this one exclusively obtained by MSNBC`s Jacob
Soboroff and Julia Ainsley, it`s one of Trump`s steel slat prototype border
walls with a
gaping hole in it, the result of a DHS test that found that steel could,
indeed, be cut through with a commonly available saw.
The 2017 test showed all eight of President Trump`s prototypes were
vulnerable to breaching, that`s according to an internal CBP report.
But the reason that we are in the 20th day of a government shutdown is not
because of anything
actually happening at the southern border. It is certainly not about an
actual policy to build an actual wall. Remember, the wall originated as a
device to jog the president`s memory to make sure to remind him to cater to
the most xenophobic part of the base of the Republican Party, because,
there is a cluster of people in the Republican Party who catapulted Trump
to his win in the primaries who hate and/or fear immigrants. And not only
that, these are people who define their political life by stemming and
stopping the invasion of people who do not look like them. The wall is
just a symbol to tell those people who feel that way I am on your side.
And if you think this is overstating things, consider this, 500 miles away
from the border in Tarrant County, Texas, there is a vote happening right
now. It is a vote about whether county Republicans will remove their
party`s vice chairman, a Republican, for no other reason than he is a
Muslim. That`s it. He`s the vice chairman for the party. They want to
get rid of him because he`s a Muslim. That`s the only reason.
Now, prominent elected Republicans officials in Texas have come out against
this, and that`s fine, but the deeper issue is that there are people in the
base of the Republican Party, we`re talking about activists who attend
county party meetings, who want that, who want to get rid of a guy just
because he`s Muslim. And Donald Trump knows that`s his rocket fuel. Those
are his people. And they
are what has propelled political career.
Now, the person who best figured this out before Donald Trump, the guy who
is the original wall fetishist, that`s this guy, Congressman Steve King of
Iowa. Here he is with then DHS secretary nominee John Kelly the week
before President Trump was sworn in.
King brought that same model wall to the House floor way back in 2006.
This is a guy who says he told Trump, quote, “I market tested your
immigration policy for 14 years.” He`s quoted in that same New York Times
article today saying, quote, “white nationalist, white supremacist, western
civilization. How did that language become offensive?”
How did it become offensive? King latter realized I think what he had
said, or that he had
said it out loud, released a statement denouncing white supremacism. But
this is hardly the first time he shared similar views.
And this brings us to the crux of the problem. Donald Trump is at the
border and shutting down
the government over this entirely ridiculous enterprise, because he almost
most certainly correctly thinks his political fortunes are dependent on the
Steve Kings of the world and the people who love him, people animated by
bigotry and fear, people who have come to view their identity as
existentially under threat from desperate Honduran moms in flip-flops.
Those people cannot be appeased, because what they want is not policy, what
they want is an ethically pure America, and that`s why this impasse can`t
be solved in any normal deal making terms.
Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington who
was at the southern border last month helping migrants seek asylum and who
worked in – with immigrants and immigrant rights before she came to
Do you think a deal can be made, or do you think this is fundamentally
existential and cannot be made?
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL, (D) WASHINGTON: It is fundamentally existential if
he continues to insist on a wall. And, you know, you just said it so
beautifully, Chris, this has never been about a wall. He actually could
have gotten funding a couple of years ago, or a year ago, for a wall. It
was part of a deal that was proposed. Not all of us agreed with that deal,
but it was proposed to him and he turned it down because his ultimate goal
is, as you said, to make America pure in the sense of not having
immigrants, not having folks of color here and shutting down every form of
legal immigration, all to throw a bone to those people.
And the only thing I can hope is that the people that he`s throwing the
bone to are actually a minority of people. What`s interesting, Chris, is
if you look at where immigration fared in the 2018 elections, we actually
found people turning away from this view that it was too racist, too
And, you know, people coming over because, you know, most people in
America, I think, do remember that they are one generation, two
generations, just a little bit removed. And they
were uncomfortable to the level with which this has gone. And so I hope
that this can backfire on him, and I hope it continue to backfire on him,
because he has never been interested in being a president for the whole
country, he`s only interested in throwing out red meat.
And I just have to say as an immigrant myself, it is so deeply offensive to
see the harm that he`s causing to people across the country, people who are
terrified, who don`t feel that they belong, the people who are seeking
asylum who no longer can get in, even though it`s legal to seek asylum, and
not just at a legal port of entry.
You know, all the people who have come to this country because of what we
represent, the deep harm that is being done, and the violence that`s being
committed against Muslims through hate crimes, against Latinos, against
folks of color, there is real damage, not only to real people but also to
soul and our psyche.
HAYES: You made the point about the deal he rejected. I`m glad you
brought that up, because it strikes me as key. There was a deal that was
worked out, it was basically to give legal stat to the folks in DACA who
are in a sort of strange legal limbo because the president took away
essentially the authority, and there was a trade for some money for the
wall or border security. And the response was that, yes, but you also have
to reduce legal immigration to 1920s levels, which struck me as the tell,
because when they talk about the border, they`re talking about unauthorized
immigration, but what they really want – I mean, is it your understanding
and is it the understanding of your colleagues and everyone in that
congress that what they really want is a reduction of all immigration?
JAYAPAL: No question about it. The proposal that they would have put
forward would have dramatically cut legal immigration, would have ended
family migration as we know it, would have ended – you know, we`ve already
seen refugee levels go down tremendously, now he`s shutting off asylum, he
tried to ban asylum seeking at the border.
So, every single place he is cutting legal immigration. This has never
been about undocumented immigrants coming across the border, it has always
been about limiting legal immigration, unless, of course, Chris, you happen
to be a housekeeper that`s working in Mar-a-Lago on his grounds and then
maybe that`s different, but for the vast majority of the country what he
wants to do is say that we`re not going to allow people into this country
That`s been the agenda of Steve Miller. It is a long-time agenda of these
white supremacists who are fueling him at the base. And that is what is so
That`s why it`s not about a wall, not about security, it`s actually – it`s
not even about undocumented immigration or comprehensive immigration
reform, it is about the character and the
nature of this country and who makes it up and what they`re trying to get
HAYES: All right, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, thank you so much for
Coming up, the hostages of the Trump shutdown: hundreds of thousands of
federal workers will not get their paychecks tomorrow. We`ll show you how
this is playing out around the country, and we`ll try and figure out where
the heck Mitch McConnell is hiding next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Personally, I want the wall, but not at our expense.
We`re not the ones that come up with the decision. They should be the ones
paying the consequences, not us. We shouldn`t have to not pay our bills
because they can`t be grown up, mature enough to come to a decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Unpaid workers hit the streets around the country today to protest
the government shutdown over the president`s border wall. Tomorrow,
hundreds of thousands of government employees will not get their paychecks.
And the longer the shutdown drags on the worse the fallout will get. It`s
already reverberating far beyond Washington, D.C. all across the country
where local news outlets have been covering the shutdown`s impact on their
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Effects of the government shutdown are weighing
heavily on employees of the federal prison here in Beaumont.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right, they have not seen a paycheck in more
than two weeks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The non-profit Light of Hope living up to its name,
providing food to families affected by the government shutdown.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are people that have to work. There are
hospitals. There are air traffic controllers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The TSOs are supposed to get paid on the 11th, but if
the shutdown continues they`ll get nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s going to affect us when it comes to mortgages,
paying rent, day care, even food, gas, everything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am a basket case. I literally don`t know how I`m
going to provide for my kids.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kim Mask (ph) of Millington has worked for the IRS
for six years. The weekend before Christmas, she says employees were told
to go home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There has been 18 government shutdowns in his time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s wrong, it`s just absolutely wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But Whorley says there is something different about
DAVID WHORLEY: I`m starting to get scared. I`ve been a Trump supporter.
I think he`s done a lot of wonderful things, but this is not one of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Covers like that poses a growing threat to the president as the
shutdown drags on with no apparent end in sight, how political gravity may
be catching up with him right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER, (R) TENNESSEE: I think it`s very important for the
people of Tennessee to know that I believe a government shutdown is always
the wrong thing to do. I was opposed to it under President Obama, I`m
opposed to it under President Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Republican Senator Lamar Alexander today making it clear to his
constituents, he wants nothing to do with the president`s government
shutdown. Earlier, the senate had the opportunity to vote on reopening the
government with Democrats asking for unanimous consent to bring up a
package of spending bills, knowing they would pass, but that request was
shot down by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
For more on where things stand on day 20 of the shutdown, I`m joined by
Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.
Senator, I want to read you something the senate majority leader had to
say. He says the Democratic leaders who have to find compromise with Trump
and then deliver their colleague`s vote
for that accord. I haven`t been sidelined. There is just no particular
role for me when you
have this setup. Do you think that is true?
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO, (D) HAWAII: That`s one of the lamest excuses I`ve heard
from somebody who has the power to bring the House passed bills to keep
government open and who had no reluctancy to use those powers to force a
vote on eliminating the Affordable Care Act for millions of people or to
change the requirement for how many people it would take to put a Supreme
Court justice on the court starting with with Neil Gorsuch and then
Kavanaugh. He had no problems using his power to prevent Merrick Garland
from being considered, and yet, and yet, he will say I have no power to
bring these bills to the floor. That is so lame and that is the excuse he
So, we are a separate branch of government. I don`t think I need to remind
Mitch McConnell that the congress is a separate branch of government and
what we should do and what he should do, because there are two people to
stop the shut down right now, one is the president, who is a hostage taker,
having taken 800,000 people hostage, not to mention the thousands and
thousands of contractors. He is a hostage taker. We do not negotiate with
The other person who can end this shutdown right now is Mitch McConnell,
because he has the power. He won`t do it.
So, everyone should be asking why aren`t you going to use the power that
you had no problems using to force $1.5 trillion tax cut for the richest
people in our country and basically screwing the middle class. Why don`t
you do it? And he says, oh, because the president won`t sign it.
There is thing called overriding of a veto.
So, Chris, I know you have a lot of people who watch your show all over the
country. I would say to every one of your viewers who live in districts
represented by Republican senators, they should call up their senators and
say go and tell Mitch McConnell to do his job, bring these bills on the
floor, because we already in the Senate passed these last year and make
sure that everyone gets paid. He won`t do it.
So it`s very clear to me who can end this shutdown. I do not rely on the
president who is amoral, makes no distinction between right or wrong, nor
does he care. So I`m not going to rely on this guy whose word is no good.
But Mitch McConnell can do something about this.
HAYES: There seems to be, the president has been sort of, you know,
running this up the flag
pole that maybe he`ll declare a national emergency.
HAYES: There is reporting indicating they are getting closer to doing
that. It`s very unclear if that`s legal. Here is what they appear to be
looking at. And I want to get your reaction to it. That Fox confirmed the
White House has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to see if they can
divert money to the border wall from disaster funding bill to cover
wildfires in California, hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
What do you think of that idea?
HIRONO: You know, how much lower can you go? So, it`s bad enough that
he`s preventing 800,000 people from getting their paychecks tomorrow. You
know what, most of us live in a world where we actually need our paychecks,
and now that is bad enough. But now, he wants to take money from victims
See, there seems to be no depth to the cruelty of this president, the
cruelty that he will impose on innocent people so that he can get his
vanity wall. The person who can stop it is Mitch McConnell.
HAYES: Well, what`s the – I mean, you got Lindsey Graham who basically is
now urging the president to go the emergency route because I think he, like
Lamar Alexander, doesn`t want to deal with it. It`s sort of a strange
What is your plan? What`s the Democratic Party`s plan if tomorrow the
president says I`m declaring an emergency and we`re going to order them to
build the wall?
HIRONO: The only reason that he`s going to declare an emergency is that
the president figures that since he can`t deal with the issue of the wall
separately, he has to take people hostage is to declare an emergency and
that he thinks is going to get him out of this corner that he`s in.
The rest of us do not have to buy into that. I think we should continue to
focus like a laser beam and there will be legal challenges to him declaring
an emergency and grabbing money from victims of disasters. There will be
challenges. But the rest of us don`t have to wait around for this court
challenge to wind it`s way. We can get Mitch McConnell to bring these
bills to the floor.
And what I don`t get is why more Republicans are not finding their votes
and consciences to
do that. Because we already voted for these bills.
HAYES: You – I think you sound confident you have the votes, and I think
that Mitch McConnell is confident you would have the votes, which is why
you`re not getting the votes. Senator Mazie…
HIRONO: That is exactly right. You`ve got it.
HAYES: Senator Mazie Hirono, thanks for your time tonight.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
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