Trump cancels congressional trip. TRANSCRIPT: 1/17/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: – in grounding the speaker`s plane is the
same chief executive power he showed in grounding the American government.
He is the one getting blamed. He is the one the buck stops with. And
that`s HARDBALL for now. “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: I think I will do a better
job than anybody because I`m really a great negotiator.
HAYES: The Trump shutdown continues.
TRUMP: I am proud to shut down the government.
HAYES: As the President cancels the Democrats` trip to visit troops in a
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: The President`s decision to disclose a
trip that the Speaker`s making to a war zone was completely and utterly
HAYES: Tonight, the Democrats respond.
REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: This is the President essentially being a
HAYES: As suffering from the Trump shutdown continues.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Maybe he thinks it`s OK
not to pay people who do work. I don`t.
HAYES: Then –
RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: I never said there was no collusion
between the campaign or between people in the campaign.
HAYES: Former White House Counsel Bob Bauer on the stunning admission from
Trump`s lawyer. Plus the President`s fixer admits to rigging polls for
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: I`ll do anything to protect
HAYES: Shocking new details about the scale and scope of the Trump child
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s not a policy.
HAYES: When All IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. Even two full years
into the presidency of Donald J. Trump, there are still days where you just
cannot believe that this guy is running the country. Today was one of
those days. At first, Trump had been uncharacteristically restrained in
response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi telling him not to deliver his State
of the Union address to Congress until he agrees to reopen the government.
There were no personal attacks, no pointed tweets, just his normal lashing
out in the style of a Breitbart commenter without a spellcheck.
You know, “The left has become totally unhinged. They no longer care what
is Right for our countrty.” Just typical Donald Trump stuff. And then
came this afternoon an Air Force bus had pulled up to Capitol Hill to take
Pelosi and a small group of lawmakers on an unannounced trip for security
reasons to visit U.S. service members in Afghanistan. Some of those
lawmakers were already in their seats when Trump released what he seems to
have thought was an absolute knockout punch, a letter telling Pelosi that
he was canceling her trip to visit the troops until after the shutdown
Trump definitely appears to have written the letter himself. For one thing
he told Pelosi she could still fly commercial if she wanted to into a war
zone. And he also referred to the trip as a public relations event that
would be inappropriate during the shutdown. Which is really rather
revealing not about the nature of this congressional delegation but about
how the President views his own actions and those around him. Because he
views a trip like that as a photo op, he assumes everyone else does as
He literally cannot conceive of anyone behaving out of some sense of
substantive duty to public service. Pelosi`s spokesperson noted that “the
purpose of the trip was to express appreciation and thanks to our men and
women in uniform for their service and dedication and to obtain critical
national security and intelligence briefings from those in the front
By the way, on the fifth day of the shutdown, you may remember, Trump
himself went to Iraq to visit U.S. troops in a war zone. You know, the
exact same thing that Pelosi was planning on doing. Asked about Trump`s
decision, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer summed up the Democratic
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: – and demeans the
presidency as almost a daily occurrence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: This is now the 27th day of an extraordinarily damaging shutdown,
the longest ever, the one that Trump proudly proclaimed belong to him and
him alone. And here`s the thing. He is for all the world to see utterly
boxed in. His approval rating is down considerably even among his base.
57 percent of registered voters now say they would definitely vote against
Trump in 2020. And amid reports that his shutdown could nudge the U.S.
towards an actual recession, the President is stewing in the White House
watching coverage of what he has wrought and complaining that “we are
getting crushed according to the New York Times.”
Meanwhile, Pelosi is watching her numbers go up as she passes bill after
bill to reopen the government sitting for Mitch McConnell to take up and
humiliates Trump over and over again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: Maybe he thinks it`s OK not to pay people who do work. I don`t
and my caucus doesn`t either.
He thinks maybe they could just ask their father for more money, but they
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, one of the leaders of the Democrats in the House,
Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline. Congressman is it not unfair to
cancel congressional delegations given the state of things in the country
in the shutdown?
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Well, good evening. Chris. This
was a trip that the Speaker of the House is taking to a war zone not only
to express gratitude for the – for the work the troops are doing but also
to get very critical national security briefings from the military leaders
on the ground. I think the President`s cancellation of that trip shows
that this is a very thin-skinned, petty and insecure president who sees and
perceives everything as a personal sleight to him.
The Speaker of the House said look, it does not make sense to do a State of
the Union while the government is partially shut down. We need to reopen
govern first because the State of the Union is shut down. I think that
makes perfect sense. It wouldn`t have been appropriate to do a State of
the Union as if everything was operating fine. She does that apparently in
response to that very responsible decision, he cancels a trip to visit U.S.
troops, American heroes who are fighting in a war zone to protect the
national security interest of our country. It`s disgraceful.
HAYES: Kevin Baron who is a Defense One`s Executive Editor, has covered
the Pentagon for a long time. He said Trump just caused an unfathomable
amount of disruption and cost the U.S. Air Force and other services by his
last-minute refusal to the codel`s travel. Truly immeasurably but enormous
man-hours, intelligence assets, vehicle and air allocations, prep,
security. Stunning. What do you think of that?
CICILLINE: Yes. I think there`s no question. This is a president who has
shown tremendous disrespect for the men and women in uniform, for our
military, for their operations. As you said, even in the letter, he
describes it as a photo-op or a P.R. excursion which really is how he
perceives apparently those kinds of exchanges, all those kinds of events.
This was an important trip. It was one in which the Speaker of the House
would learn important information as well as other members of the Congress.
And the fact that the President doesn`t even understand the disruption he
caused is very, very sad.
HAYES: You know, every day I come to work and even before work I read
headlines about what`s going on. That there is food not being inspected,
the air traffic controllers are working without paychecks, that there are
people – the absentee rate at TSA airports is twice what it should be one
wonders what that would do to security. And I get an increasing sense of
dread in the pit of my stomach. Do your fellow lawmaker share that? Do
you understand and is it understood across in both parties that you are –
you are rolling the dice and firing the trigger on Russian roulette every
day this goes on.
CICILLINE: Absolutely. Look, I met with TSA workers and air traffic
control is at my airport here in Rhode Island and heard it firsthand. This
is causing incredible heartache and anguish for federal employees. Imagine
being told to come to work every day, to show up, to work hard but you`re
not going to be paid. It is causing – you know, and in the name of
keeping America safe, Donald Trump is making us less safe both in terms of
air travel, in terms of security at the border, in terms of food safety.
So you know, in this effort to – this claim that he`s actually doing this
to keep America safe, he`s making us less safe. But the impact is having
on real people`s lives is hard to describe. These are heartbreaking
stories of people who are doing their work, expect to get paid, and can`t
pay their rent, can`t pay their mortgage, can`t buy food. It`s a disgrace.
And the important thing is we should open the government immediately. We
have voted nine times to fund the government.
It is never appropriate to shut the government down if you have a policy
disagreement. This is the only place in the world that happens. And
Donald Trump has done it. He should open the government. We can have lots
of debate about the best way to secure our border. But it`s never right to
shut the government down. It`s not fair to the people who are doing the
work who aren`t getting paid.
HAYES: All right, Congressman David Cicilline, thanks for being with me.
For more on Trump, Pelosi, and the shutdown, I`m joined by MSNBC
Contributor Jennifer Rubin, Conservative Columnist for the Washington Post
and Joy Reid, Host of MSNBC`s “AM JOY.” The President – one of the
interesting things happening is the President`s polling is going down. And
the reason that`s interesting is it`s rather stable. I mean, all sorts of
crazy stuff happens in the news and it doesn`t really move.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Right.
HAYES: This is moving it, they`re watching it tick down day after day, and
you got to think that does start to get in their heads.
REID: Right. Because you know, I think that Donald Trump had this
conception that you know, federal employees means a bunch of Democrats who
work in D.C., but it also means people in Oregon and Colorado and Kansas
and Texas and some of them are civilian military employees, people who are
employed either as contractors or in that kind of work who may have a
relative in Afghanistan, who you know what might have like to have a
congressional delegation come and show them some appreciation as they`re in
an America`s longest war.
So the idea that his petty a tit for tat which he thought was so clever
he`s harming those troops in a way as well, right? They don`t get to have
you know, this visit that was first of all supposed to be secret. So he
also compromised operational security by what he did. But he doesn`t care
just like he clearly doesn`t care about the pain he`s causing including to
probably a lot of people who voted for him.
HAYES: I thought, Jennifer, the public relations line in the letter was so
revealing and it made me think of this. When the President had a bunch of
T.V. anchors in to talk before his Oval Office address which can anyone
remember that even what a single thing that happened in that. No. He said
he`s talking about his border visit. He told them – he tells the reporter
sitting in the room, it`s not going to change a damn thing but I`m still
doing it. The trip was merely a photo opportunity he said.
Because this how he views it, he literally doesn`t understand that other –
and this is not a partisan point. I`m talking about Republicans,
Democrats, all kinds of people, all kinds of ideological you know,
dispositions, want to go to such a place to find out what`s going on there.
JENNIFER RUBIN, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Right. You know, he thinks
that someone took something away from me so I`m going to take something
away from her as if this is like what Nancy Pelosi longs to do is to go to
war zones in her time off. Of course, that`s not what`s going on. It`s
disrespectful to the troops. And we haven`t talked about the stop that she
was going to make on the way which there`s in Brussels to reassure our
allies who are scared out of their wits given that the president keeps
talking about pulling out of NATO.
So I don`t think we have ever seen quite so clearly how self-absorbed
narcissistic this president is that he literally does not care about anyone
other than himself. And perhaps he`s right to be concerned because his
presidency is at this point kind of going down the tubes. And we haven`t
even talked about the Russian stuff yet which is also swirling around his
head. So you got to sense the wheels are coming off the bus, the
windshield wipers are flying, you know, the steering wheel is going –
HAYES: OK, but here`s the thing. That`s been happening for years since.
It`s been literally happening since he came down the escalator.
RUBIN: Right. And I`ll tell you what`s different. What`s different is
just as Joy said. Those people in Colorado, those people in Missouri that
have big for example IRS processing centers, those are people who are not
getting paid. And I think it`s a little different when it`s their family,
it`s their contractor, it`s their store that usually feeds the people that
come out of the government buildings at lunchtime. Oh well, it`s in our
backyard, well, that`s a completely different problem.
HAYES: Well, here`s also I think what`s different. This strikes me as
maybe the most dangerous moment of the presidency so far for this reason
which is he kind of just wants to be a pundit. He just wants to – he
really does. He doesn`t want to be President. He wants to – he wants to
give us his takes on Twitter. He wants to look at the T.V. in yellow Fox
News. That`s what he wants to be.
But right now – and a lot of times that is the saving grace that he
doesn`t have the actual ambition to get into the guts of the government to
change that. The problem is the status quo now that he has locked himself
and the Democrats into he`s a failure point.
REID: And the Republicans because –
HAYES: They`re all locked in, right? He has locked them all in.
REID: Everyone is trapped, right? So the way that you could read Mitch
McConnell, either Mitch McConnell is trying to teach him the way that you
teach a child and you just let them keep crying, right? You can`t keep
picking them up. Sometimes you have to let them keep crying.
REID: Is he letting him keep crying by saying I`m not going to reopen the
governor make you come to a realization yourself that you are more powerful
than Ann Coulter. I`m going to let you do that or he`s afraid of him and
afraid I don`t know maybe Matt Bevin might look at his – at the poll
numbers for Mitch McConnell and run against him and so he`s terrified right
so he won`t act.
If you look at Donald Trump, you can think, well, maybe he`s just so afraid
of Ann Coulter. He`s so afraid of Rush Limbaugh that he feels paralyzed
and can`t act or he`s so narcissistic that he somehow thinks if he just
hurts enough people, harms enough people, makes enough people broke and
lose their apartments, maybe somehow he`ll make Nancy Pelosi cave in.
But the one person that you cannot misread, that is very clear, that Nancy
Pelosi is teaching Donald Trump about the Constitution every day. She`s
saying my office is powerful. I, unlike Mitch McConnell, are using my
power. It`s my prerogative if I let you speak in a chamber the House. But
you Donald Trump now have responsibility for these millions of people and
you are hurting them.
HAYES: But he also – Jennifer, I mean, like we used this quote last night
but I think it`s really important to understand the dynamic here. This is
a Democratic Senator talking to me. We won`t move. We cannot. If this
worked for Trump, the country will border on governor. This is the reason
that he is locked. He has – he has foreclosed the possibility of
negotiation by his actions with the Democrats who cannot reward the
behavior else they create an incentive structure that is completely
RUBIN: That`s right. We`ll never have another budget again.
HAYES: Right, exactly.
RUBIN: We`ll never have Congress again. This is like prom, well be gone
you know, the to the Parliament. So he does this in so many different
instances. Because he doesn`t know what he`s doing and he lashes out and
he thinks he`s smarter than everybody, get the troops out of Syria. Well,
we had four brave Americans who died this week because of his rash
decision. Shut down the government. Well, how was plan to eventually
reopen it? He doesn`t have one. He doesn`t have a plan and he doesn`t
really understand how to operate in the presidency.
But Joy is right. Nancy Pelosi does. And it`s like Lucy and the football.
And Donald Trump goes flying up in the air every time and splat lands on
his backside because she understands that at this point she`s on the side
of the people, the poor people who aren`t getting their jobs, aren`t
getting their paychecks. And what is he for? He`s for a wall that no one
wants. So she has completely boxed him or he`s boxed himself into this
position. And the people around him now are of such low quality and such
incompetent they can`t really even suggest anything. Not that he would
HAYES: No, this is – this is a perfect point because honestly what has to
happen now is someone needs to come up with a creative magical solution
that allows the president out to say –
REID: Take it out.
HAYES: That is literally the only way out.
REID: It`s correct. That`s right.
HAYES: And so someone smart around him has to – and I don`t care who it
is, but literally that`s what has to happen.
REID: Well, somebody either has to go and convince Ann Coulter to let
Donald Trump do his job right. This used to give him permission,
affirmative permission to reopen the government, or somebody has to go to
Mitch McConnell and say we Senators are going to bail on you if you don`t -
- you know, Cory Gardner, and say I`m done. I can`t get reelected if my
state is in peril.
But the problem that the Democrat – and I think it`s absolutely right.
The Democrats cannot give in here. You see what happens in March, debt
ceiling. If you allow Donald Trump to keep millions of hostages and
destroy the economy and do all of this just to get one-fifteenth of what it
would cost to build an unbuildable border wall that is never going to
happen, the debt ceiling will be the next hostage taking and Democrats
cannot allow not only Trump but Mitch McConnell to learn that lesson.
HAYES: That would be – that would be truly insane. The President
sabotage on debt ceiling, not putting it past him, but yes. I mean, really
the – out here is that Mick Mulvaney needs to get on Photoshop or just
take a picture of a wall somewhere and come in to the morning briefing and
throw it on the President`s desk and say it`s been built, sir, we built it
last night, reopen the government.
REID: Absolutely. And you know what`s so insane? Donald Trump as much as
he thinks – as highly as he thinks of himself, he underestimates his own
power. He honestly believes Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Tucker Carlson
are more powerful than he yes. Rather than taking a chance –
HAYES: Terrified of his base.
REID: – and saying – the base loves him. If he told them –
HAYES: Just tell them the wall is –
REID: Just tell them there`s a wall.
HAYES: I could not agree with you more on this. I think this idea that if
he doesn`t get the wall built, it`s kudos for Donald Trump.
REID: He`s done.
HAYES: It`s nonsense.
REID: It`s not.
HAYES: And a con that they have sold him himself a con artists. Jennifer
Rubin and Joy Reid, thank you both for being with me. Next, the collusion
rewrite from the President`s lawyer Rudy Giuliani now admitting he can`t
rule out some potential collusion with Russians during the campaign.
There`s even more hedging by Trumps lawyer that needs scrutiny and we`ll
talk about that in two minutes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or
between people in the campaign –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes you`ve had.
GIULIANI: I have no idea – I have not. I said the President of the
United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the President United
States Committed – the only crime that you commit here, conspired with the
Russians to hack the DNC.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: OK. There`s been a lot of reaction to Rudy Giuliani`s refusal to
rule out collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. But did you
notice how he phrased the second part of those comments. “There is not a
single bit of evidence the President of the United States committed the
only crime you could commit here conspired with the Russians to hack the
DNC. A lot of weird stuff in there.
First of all, I don`t think I`ve heard anyone claimed the President was
actually conspiring ahead of time with Russia to plan and execute the DNC
hack though Giuliani mentioned it makes me think maybe he did. Second,
that is by no means the only crime you could commit here as Giuliani put
it. Trump associates have already been convicted of were pleaded guilty to
a bunch of other crimes including fraud and conspiracy against the United
And third, note that Giuliani doesn`t state definitively that the President
did not conspire with Russia. Instead, he hedges claiming only that there
is not a single bit of evidence the President did so. Nothing whatsoever
about the underlying facts. Just think how far we`ve come over the course
of Giuliani`s tenure as a President`s lawyer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: There was no Russian collusion. We`re now a year and a half,
two years into this, no Russian collision, case over.
They never used it. That`s the main thing. They never use it. They
rejected it. If there was collusion with the Russians, they would have
I`ve been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion
as a crime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not.
GIULIANI: Collusion is not a crime.
There is not a single bit of evidence the President United States
committed. The only crime you could commit here conspired with the
Russians to hack the DNC.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: For more on the evolution of Giuliani`s defense, I`m joined by
Natasha Bertrand, Staff Writer at the Atlantic covering national security
and the Mueller probe and Bob Bauer, former White House Counsel to
President Obama and a Professor at NYU School of Law. Bob, let me start
with you as a lawyer who knows a thing or two and you were in the White
House. Do you have a sense of what Giuliani is doing? Is this just a kind
of classic tactical retreat as the facts come in that you back up further
and further away to defensible positions?
BOB BAUER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: He certainly
seems to be trying to redefine what he thinks the President`s vulnerability
could be. I thought he did it in an exceptionally clumsy way. He probably
went on the program to build the case against impeachment by attacking the
press as he did by attacking Mueller as he did. And then he was asked
about the poll that Mr. Manafort gave to Mr. Kilimnik to the Russians. And
at that point, he got all tangled up in this denial that he had ever said
there was no collusion between the campaign and the Russians only that the
President had been colluded.
And by the way, I should mention at the end after having been repeatedly
challenged about the President himself had said, Mr. Giuliani rather
extraordinary said for a lawyer representing his client, well, I never said
HAYES: Natasha, the Kilimnik piece of information that that came up in
that interview that prompted that response as Bob just said, that was a big
deal because it does show this sort of two sides touching for the first
time confirmed aside from the Trump Tower meeting and we`re getting a sense
that that figure Kilimnik is at the heart of this maybe more than we even
NATASHA BERTRAND, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Yes. It does seem that way.
I mean, I think the biggest question now is to what extent was Paul
Manafort freelancing because he owed an extreme amount of money to the
Russians and to the Ukrainians and he was trying to perhaps prove himself
and show that he could still run a campaign and show that he could still
have a campaign and be ahead in the polls. Or was this something that was
directed by the President.
Now, that might be a distinction without a difference the campaign you know
colluding with Russia is what`s at issue here. But I do think you know,
it`s really interesting that we`re seeing Rudy present this as a
possibility. I mean, he`s done this before right, where he tries to kind
of get ahead of the news. He did it with Stormy Daniels, the payment that
Michael Cohen made to her during the election. He essentially said on Sean
Hannity, look this was something that the President repaid Michael Cohen
for. That was new. But then of course –
HAYES: Yes, let me – I just want to – I want to play that clip since you
bring it up. It`s a great clip. It`s him doing that basically saying let
me let you let you in on a little secret. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: That money was not campaign money. Sorry, I`m giving you a fact
now that you don`t know. It`s not campaign money. No campaign finance
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So they funneled it through the law firm?
GIULIANI: Funneled through a law firm and then the President repaid it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I didn`t know that he did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So yes, and then it turned out that`s exactly what happened.
BERTRAND: Right. So another thing also is that Giuliani is now shifting
the goalposts even further saying that the only crime that is possible to
be committed here is that the – is the hacking. Well, look, if he wants
to play that game we can play that game because right around the time that
the DNC was hacked by the GRU which was in April 2016, George Papadopoulos
was in London being told by a professor that the Russians had dirt on
Hillary Clinton. So if there was any kind of coordination that happened
here, then it might have been in that area. Paul Manafort is not the be-
all end-all here.
HAYES: That`s a good point. Bob, you wrote a piece back in January 3rd.
You said coming to terms with the impeachment process, the case for
starting a formal inquiry. Starting a formal inquiry which I thought was a
key part of that. And it drives as something that`s in this new cover
story in the Atlantic. It`s time for Congress to judge the President`s
fitness to serve. Impeach by Yoni Appelbaum. And the point both of you
make is that impeachment is a process not a product and starting the
process itself is important from a constitutional perspective. What do you
mean by that?
BAUER: We have this or at least in some quarters you hear this horror
expressed about impeachment. But the impeachment process is as you say a
process. It`s a constitutional mechanism to prevent – to protect the
country against abuse of power. It`s not a punitive measure, it`s a self-
protective measure on a point of a democracy.
And so the notion here is that we have a president who both in his
treatment of the law and the treatment of his powers and his behavior
toward the public with the incessant lying, after all we recently had his
former Secretary of State saying it`s his instinct to continually push
against the law and to complain what he can`t do with the law prohibits in
And given – by the way since we seem to have all forgotten it, that he`s
already been named as Individual Number One in a criminal prosecution. It
seems that there`s a fundamental constitutional obligation here to at least
begin the inquiry, to have a dialogue, to produce evidence, and then to let
a discussion begin that the public is very much a part of about whether he
is fit and should continue to hold this office.
HAYES: That point Bob, about the publicness, Natasha, strikes me as so
central. It`s to something we`ve been very keen on here particularly
since Democrats took the House. Because the problem of course with the
Mueller probe which you know it should be doing this keeping things in a
black box is that we all watch it from the outside and there`s no this sort
of buzz around Capitol Hill that it`ll be happening soon but we don`t know
if it will, Natasha.
HAYES: Right, exactly. I mean, and one of the issues that was brought up
during the Bill Barr confirmation hearing earlier this week is whether or
not he would even allow such a report to be made public as whether he would
even allow Mueller`s findings to go to Congress and then you know, be
released to the American people.
Another question about what Mueller is going to you know, produce to the
public is whether or not these are just going to be fruits of a crime that
he includes in this report because that, of course, is his mandate. I
mean, it`s a criminal investigation. Or whether he`s going to be able to
include a lot of the counterintelligence stuff in there including things
like was Trump compromised?
Has he been targeted by Russia? You know, we`re there conversations that
were not necessarily illegal but that were perhaps compromising? I mean,
these are all really important issues that might not rise to the level of a
crime but that would be really important for Congress to determine whether
or not this person is fit to serve.
HAYES: Yes. A defense from the Constitution and public for a public that
desperately needs more information in a democratic republic. Natasha
Bertrand and Bob Bauer, great to have you both. Still to come, it turns
out the President was right. Someone was trying to rig some of the polls
around the election and that person was his own lawyer Michael Cohen. The
HAYES: Michael Cohen is many things – he`s a fixer, he`s a felon, a liar.
He`s a man who`s going to testify before the whole country about his work
for his erstwhile boss Donald Trump.
But is he a sex symbol? Well, he very much was according to this rather
strange Twitter fan account @womenforcohen which was we now know, created
by, drum roll please, Michael Cohen.
This is in this crazy Wall Street Journal Article about all the hi-jinx Mr.
Cohen got up to working for Donald Trump paying people a Walmart bag of
cash in a used boxing glove, and trying and failing to rig online polls for
Donald Trump, one of which led then reality show host Donald Trump to tweet
in 2014, quote, the CNBC 25 poll is a joke. I was in ninth place and taken
off politics. No wonder @CNBC ratings are going down the tubes.
Beyond the ridiculous nature of some of these stories, there is also
theoretically legal exposure for the president and his lawyer.
Former federal elections commission chairman Trevor Potter told NBC News
that a Cohen payment to a tech firm should have been disclosed once Trump
announced he was running for president. An NBC News search of NBC records
showed no such disclosure.
Joining me now are the authors of that Cohen article, Michael Rothfeld,
investigative reporter at The Wall Street Journal. This is a great piece.
MICHAEL ROTHFELD, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Love the details.
So, I guess let`s start with like what – so one of the things this gives
you a window is they`re planning this in 2014/2015. They`re trying to lay
the groundwork. Cohen is the one doing it. What kind of stuff was he up
ROTHFELD: Well, he got this John Gogger (ph), who is a tech consultant who
also works at Liberty University, which is run by Jerry Fallwell Jr. who
had a relationship with Cohen and been doing like minor tech tasks for him
for several years. And so in 2014, Cohen says, hey, I want you to
help the boss, Donald Trump, win this CNBC poll of the most influential
business people. And can you write a computer script to just vote for him
a ton of times and, you know, make him win. And Gogger (ph) tries to do it
but he can`t do it…
ROTHFELD: Fails. Trump doesn`t make – he`s in the first 200, but he
doesn`t make the second cut to the top 100. And then as you`ve read, he
complains about it.
HAYES: He also tries to rig other polls, right? This is a thing of like
essentially trying to con your way into creating a the sense of a
groundswell of grassroots love for Donald Trump.
ROTHFELD: That`s right. Just manipulate these online opinion polls, make
it look like Trump is more popular than he actually is at the time. He did
later did a bunch of – he got – did well in the polls, but in this first
Drudge Report poll in February 2015, which Michael Cohen also tried to
manipulated, he asks John Gogger (ph) again just write this script and just
vote for him, and he gets 24,000 votes. He comes in fifth place, 5
percent, loses that too. And so it didn`t work.
HAYES: There`s this detail about him paying dash is he paying Gogger (ph)
with the bag full of Walmart cash.
ROTHFELD: That`s right, yeah. So, after the second poll Gogger (ph) says,
you know, this $50,000 for the work that I did.
HAYES: So, right. So, he says $50,000 bucks for this poll rigging, shows
up in Trump Tower, right, to Michael Cohen`s office. And Michael Cohen
proceeds to try to pay him how?
ROTHFELD: He gives him the blue Walmart bag full of cash with $12,000 to
$13,000 in cash…
HAYES: 12 to 13, just doing the math here, yeah.
ROTHFELD: And then he hands him a boxing glove, which was worn by a mixed
martial art – he says was worn by Victor Belfort (ph), a Brazilian mixed
martial arts fighter who had once been affiliated with Affliction, which
was an MMA venture Trump and Cohen were involved in like eight years
HAYES: And that was worth $38,000?
ROTHFELD: I don`t know if that was in lieu of the remaining. He never
paid the remaining
HAYES: Oh, he stiffed him? I`m shocked.
HAYES: Oh, so he stiffed – he paid him 12 of $50,000?
ROTHFELD: Yeah, but he did get reimbursed for…
HAYES: This story is amazing. They try to rig the polls, they hire the
tech guy at Liberty University. They fail to rig the polls, the thing they
were doing was failing. He promises $50,000. He stiffs him on the
payment, like none of this worked, basically. Yet they got him elected
What`s the deal with women for Cohen?
ROTHFELD: So, in 2016, as we know, Michael Cohen was a surrogate for
Trump. He`s on TV all the time, and he says to Gogger (ph), John Gogger
(ph), hey, please elevate my profile. I want you to create this Twitter
account @womenforcohen, and it`s, hey, it run by women who love me and
think I`m a sex symbol so that – Gogger (ph) creates it and has his friend
populate the Twitter account with tweets basically saying how sexy Michael
HAYES: Snazzy looking and ready to MAGA us.
HAYES: And this – I mean, is this – what is your understanding of where
this fits in the Michael Cohen portfolio? Like what does this tell us
about what Michael Cohen is going to tell us if and when he comes before
ROTHFELD: Well, I mean, he`s going to say that Donald Trump told me to do
all these things.
HAYES: Yeah, he says today, as to that article, what I did was at the
direction, the benefit of Donald Trump. I truly regret blind loyalty to a
man who doesn`t deserve it.
ROTHFELD: Right, so he`s going to take all these things – the hush money
payments, the poll rigging, you know, all of it and say all of this kind of
underhanded secret stuff, this was what Trump had me doing. He wanted me
to do it, and so, you know, I was the bag man and, you know, it was all his
HAYES: I mean, it`s just such incompetent clownish nonsense.
HAYES: You`re a reporter, you can`t pass judgment.
ROTHFELD: It certainly, you know, appears that way.
HAYES: But it also shows you – I mean, the Trevor Potter (ph) quote to me
is that they didn`t really – no one was running this through the
compliance office or like checking with a lawyer to see, oh, should we
report these payments. Is this stuff legal or illegal. And that`s been
very clear from the beginning that no one has ever worried about breaking
ROTHFELD: Well, you don`t pay – first, Cohen denies paying cash. That`s
the one thing he did deny in our story, but, you know, you don`t pay
vendors in cash, so that would suggest that you don`t really want anybody
to know what you`re doing.
HAYES: Yeah, or an MMA used boxing gloves. Michael Rothfeld, great
reporting, thank you.
ROTHFELD: Thank you.
HAYES: Ahead, breaking news on the Trump administration`s family
separation policy tonight, we are learning that it was much worse than we
thought. There may have been thousands of more victims than was originally
reported. Details ahead.
Plus, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, if you think things are crazy in the U.S.
Capitol building these days, you should check in on British Parliament and
the total mess that is Brexit.
But even as the UK hurdles towards potential catastrophe, Parliament found
10 minutes for a timeout yesterday for a very important issue facing the
people: the letter boxes are too damn low.
Vicky Ford, a conservative MP representing Chelmsford (ph) is proposing a
ban on mail slots in new buildings being placed indoors below a certain
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICKY FORD, CONSERVATIVE MP: I met communications workers union. They
told me the key issue for their members and it`s not Brexit, it is low-
level mail boxes and dangerous dogs.
Now I am not asking homeowners to retrospectively change their existing
letter boxes or
replace their front doors, when it comes to front doors, Mr. Speaker, a lot
of people are very fond of their knockers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: If you`re wondering how Parliament manages to keep order enough to
get from Brexit to mail boxes and then back to Brexit again, well, they
have got a guy. And he`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Out of the chaos of the Brexit debate in British Parliament has
emerged a new
international star: the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. Our
friends at CNBC News put together this little highlight reel of the man who
keeps the order.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERCOW, HOUSE OF COMMONS SPEAKER (UK): Order! Order! Order. Order!
Order! Order! I (inaudible) what I`m doing with keep point is persistent.
If the honorable – order! Order! If the honorable gentleman wishes to
press his amendment, he is entitled to do so – yes, he is. Oh, yes he is.
I`ll be the judge of that.
Order. The house must calm itself. Zen. Restraint. Patience.
Order. People talk about respect in this house, but there`s a minister of
the crown shouting. Stop it. You`re capable of much better than that.
This matter – order – I`m not interested in people (inaudible) for a
secondary position today for obvious benefit or purpose. I`m ruling on a
matter and I require no assistance in the process in doing so.
Order! Clear the lobby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at a
the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and
you look at what happened here with really what really a storm that was
just totally overpowering, nobody`s ever seen anything like this.
What is your death count as of this moment? 17.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 16 certified.
TRUMP: 16 people certified, 16 people verses in the thousands. You can be
very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together, 16
verses literally thousands of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It was clear at the time, even when he made that glib cringe-
inducing boast that he
was tragically wrong about the death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto
Rico, that has long since been confirmed by a study commissioned by the
Puerto Rican government, which estimated in August of last year that
Hurricane Maria and his gruesome and desperate aftermath caused the deaths
of nearly 3,000 people, and yet here we are, almost a year-and-a-half since
the hurricane and there has been no sustained formal U.S. government
inquiry into what happened to lead to the deaths of as many Americans as
died in 9/11.
Seems fairly clear the reason for that is the president doesn`t very much
care for Puerto Ricans. Not content to simply throw paper towels at their
suffering, he`s been working actively from the White House to make things
The Washington Post reporting yesterday that Trump told then White House
chief of staff John F. Kelly and then office of management and budget
director Mick Mulvaney that he did not want a single dollar going to Puerto
Rico, because he thought the island was misusing the money and taking
advantage of the government.
And then, just today, the White House issued an official statement of
policy, objecting to the House-passed bill with $600 million for nutrition
assistance on the island, calling it, quote, excessive. That is, by the
way, only 1/9th the cost of his wall.
If there`s a silver lining here in the cloud that is the president`s
evident contempt for his own constituents. It is the fact that American
civil society is far more decent than the man in the White House.
Just this week, The Tonight Show was in Puerto Rico to cover and celebrate
Lin-Manuel Miranda`s return as Hamilton in a production on the island to
raise funds and draw tourists for a place that still needs help, compassion
Americans have a duty, it seems to me, to prove every single day that we
are a better people than you might conclude from simply looking at the
words and the actions of our president.
HAYES: We`re learning more today about the scope of the Trump
separation policy, the policy, you might remember, that Homeland Security
Secretary Kirsten Nielsen said multiple times did not exist, but we know
Today, the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general
released a report finding that even more migrant children were taken from
their parents than previously reported. And the administration still
doesn`t know exactly how many kids they took, quote, “thousands of children
may have been separated during an influx that began in 2017 before the
accounting required by the court that HHS has faced challenges in
identifying separated children.
The Department of Homeland Security disputed the thousands reported by the
HHS inspector general, claiming the inspector general did not have evidence
to back up the claim.
This comes as new documents surfaced, sent from a government whistle-blower
to Senator Jeff Merkley. Those papers list a draft of immigration, quote,
policy options, some of which were ultimately implemented, and others even
more severe and shocking that were contemplated, but not implemented, like
expediting the deportation of children without their parents.
DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman responded to news of the documents with a
statement which reads in part, “the Trump administration has made clear
that all legal options are on the table to enforce the rule of law. In
part we were predicting and trying to prevent the exact humanitarian and
security crisis we are confronted by now.”
Joining me now is Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon who has made exhaustive
efforts to bring the administration`s child separation policy to light from
Senator, what have you learned from these documents about the nature of the
policy they followed and what they contemplated?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY, (D) OREGON: Well, what these documents show, Chris, is
there was extensive planning to implement a strategy of criminalizing,
families crossing the border at the same time the administration said it`s
all about criminals, they were plotting to stop families from arriving.
And they said not only are they going to criminalize that, we`re going to
separate the kids from the parents.
Now, many of us will remember that the Homeland Security Secretary said
there`s no such thing as a family separation policy or a child separation
policy, but this document says exactly the opposite.
HAYES: I want to be clear about this, because it drove me absolutely nuts
covering this story. Time and time again, the White House and Kirsten
Nielsen got up and said you are out of your mind, no policy exists. And
what you`re saying is this document is literally a policy document in which
one of the policies they contemplated and ultimately implement is child
MERKLEY: Yes, a very first policy on that list, the document, is the one
of criminalizing crossing the border. And the second is to separate
children from their parents.
And so it`s all laid out here, it`s a discussion, this document represents
and discussion taking place between the attorney generals office and the
homeland security office at the highest levels.
So, this is very much the road map has been laid out for what was later
done. The administration was absolutely lying to the American people when
they said there was no such plan.
HAYES: So did Kirsten Nielsen lie?
HAYES: Then how can you trust them? I mean, honestly, how can you trust
anything – I mean, we just read a DHS statement, and I see the DHS
spokespeople quoted all the time, but I have to say, ever since covering
that story, it`s very difficult to take anything they say at face value.
MERKLEY: Well, that`s right because when it was absolutely clear that item
after item was true
and they said it`s not true. For example, Jeff Sessions in his initial
presentation over the strategy over child separation said it`s about
deterring families from coming, it`s a deterrent strategy. That is in this
document, it lays it out very clearly. But when Kirsten Nielsen was asked
about it, she said – I`m not sure what she said. I`m embarrassed or
that`s ridiculous or she – it basically disclaimed it completely.
HAYES: There is another way they are caught here. And I think this is
important, and we`ll talk about things they consider. You were in the
Tornillo Tent camp that had been (inaudible) and quickly expanded under
sort of dubious regulatory oversight to put a ton, thousands of migrant
children, minors, in it.
And one of the things you told me on this program was that the head of that
said this place can be cleared out of here basically in a few days if they
would get rid of the backlog of sponsors that want to take these kids. And
that ended up happening, but the backlog at the time was caused by a
background check process for the sponsors that the DHS said was for
security and safety, right?
Here – reading from the report for Julie Ainsley, HHS adopted a policy to
require anyone in a household who agreed to sponsor an unaccompanied
migrant child to undergo an extensive background check. Publicly, DHS and
HHS said that this was to ensure the safety of children, but the draft
shows administrators knew the potential for creating a backlog of children
in migrant detention which later became reality and led to the creation of
Tornillo tent city last year.
MERKLEY: That`s right. So much of this humanitarian crisis, it was
created by the very policies of the administration being implemented. They
said there is a crisis, but the crisis was what they created with these
And what we learned down there at Tornillo was that of the 2,700 children,
1,300 of them already had sponsors who had cleared the background check,
including the fingerprints, and so we held a press conference. We called
for those children to be released. We called for Tornillo to be shut down,
and shockingly to me, the administration a few days later, because it was
just approaching Christmas so maybe they felt especially vulnerable about
the awful things they are doing, they did release those children who had
already cleared the background checks. They did stop the full
fingerprinting of every member of the family and they did proceed to start
to shut down Tornillo and it`s now shut down.
HAYES: Well – go ahead.
MERKLEY: There is another piece of this, which is they are taking the
information they get on the background sponsors and giving it to ICE. And
as far as I can tell so far, I haven`t been able to get a definitive
answer, it appears that they`re still doing that.
So, there is still basically deterring people from coming forward to be
sponsors, have concerns about extended family members who could be affected
by the connection to ICE.
HAYES: Final thing, they considered – they did not implement, but one of
the policy options was basically separating the kids from the parents and
then just deporting the kids, just literally without a parent back on a
plane to, like, I don`t know, you just shuffle them off, a 4-year-old off a
plane and back in Guatemala.
MERKLEY: Yes, it appears that they were trying to find a way to
essentially bypass the ability of children to apply for asylum, a right
that`s well entrenched in international law that we are part of, and in our
national law, but it was – maybe we can quickly maneuver and kick these
kids out. And it`s not at all clear there was any plan to connect them
back with the parents.
And so piece after piece of this comes from a very dark place in the heart
of this administration. The core is abusing children to send a message of
deterrence to families overseas. Just wrong.
HAYES: Senator Jeff Merkley, thank you very much.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the