Michael Cohen to testify February 27th. TRANSCRIPT: 02/20/2019, All In w. Chris Hayes.
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: February 20, 2019
Guest: Andrew McCabe, Jennifer Rubin, Carol Lam, David Cay Johnston
STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That`s HARDBALL
for now. Thanks for being with us. “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes starts right
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should the Mueller report be released while you`re
abroad next week?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That`ll be totally up to the
new Attorney General.
HAYES: A special council fire drill.
TRUMP: That will be totally up to the Attorney General.
HAYES: Making sense of the latest reporting that Mueller time is near.
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: We had good reason to open
HAYES: What do you do with a president who obstructs justice? Can the new
Attorney General keep the Mueller report away from the public, and is
Donald Trump a Russian asset?
TRUMP: I`d never work for Russia.
HAYES: Tonight, I`ll ask all of those questions and more to the man who
began the investigations into Donald Trump former acting FBI chief Andrew
McCabe. Then, America on alert in the age of Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To cut a crew stockpiling, trying to gather targets.
HAYES: What prosecutors say was a foiled mass terror plot by a right-wing
extremist targeting Democrats and MSNBC hosts when ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening coming to you from Los Angeles California all this
week, I`m Chris Hayes. Breaking news tonight, House Oversight Chair Elijah
Cummings announced that Michael Cohen`s public testimony is back on. It
was on, then it was off, now it`s back again. Cohen will appear in front
of the committee next Wednesday, February 27th right in the middle of
President Trump`s trip to Vietnam to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong-
According to a memo released by the Oversight Committee, Cohen will address
a variety of topics including the President`s debts and payments relating
to efforts to influence the 2016 election, the President`s compliance with
financial disclosure requirements, the President`s compliance with tax
laws, and public efforts by the President and his attorney to intimidate
Mr. Cohen or others not to testify.
We also have new reporting tonight bolstering the possibility that the
Mueller investigation is ending very soon. As NBC News first reported last
year, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is nearing the end of his historic
investigation into Russian election interference and is expected to submit
a confidential report to the Attorney General as early as mid-February.
Tonight, we have further confirmation of that timeline. CNN and the
Washington Post both reporting that Mueller could end his investigation in
the next few days. CNN points out Special Counsel office employees have
been moving boxes and files out of their office. Four of Mueller 17
prosecutors have already ended their tenures with the special counsel. And
the grand jury that Mueller has used to bring charges against Roger Stone,
Paul Manafort, and several Russians hasn`t convened in almost a month.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports “an advisor of President Trump said
there is palpable concern among the president`s inner circle the report
might contain information about Trump and his team that is politically
damaging but not criminal conduct. We`ll see, I guess.
Despite all this, we think we might know about the Mueller investigation.
Some very basic questions remain including what is it, what is in it, who
gets to see it. The only thing the guidelines say is that Mueller should
submit a confidential report to the Attorney General. Then it is the
discretion of the newly confirmed hand-picked Attorney General William Barr
what if anything he shares with Congress.
In his confirmation hearing last month, Barr definitely did not make any
commitments about what he would make public. Today, the President seemed
rather confident to the man that he just installed in the job, the guy who
auditioned with a long memo about how the President can`t commit a crime if
he is exercising executive power will reach a conclusion Trump doesn`t need
to worry about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should the Mueller report be released while you`re
abroad next week?
TRUMP: That`ll be totally up to the new Attorney General. He`s a
tremendous man, a tremendous person who really respects this country and
respects the Justice Department. So that`ll be totally up to him, the new
attorney – the new attorney general.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should the report become public, you think?
TRUMP: Now, I guess from what I understand that will be totally up to the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now as part of our team has been reporting this story
NBC News Intelligence and National Security Reporter Ken Dilanian. All
right, Ken, what is wrapping up mean and what are the sort of details of
how this ends up getting given to the Attorney General?
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Great
question, Chris. And first, I want to make clear that this isn`t just
about reading tea leaves. Although you read some interesting tea leaves
that CNN mentioned in their report because they`re staking out the grand
jury and Mueller`s office, but we have solid reporting, law enforcement
officials and congressional officials have been telling us for weeks that
the Mueller investigation is wrapping up and that they expected a report to
be filed as soon as mid-February.
And what that means as you said, it`s a confidential report by regulation.
This is in reaction to the Independent Counsel law when Ken Starr as we all
remember release this massive public salacious report. It hit Congress and
the public at the same time but practically broke the internet back then.
That is not going to happen. This is a confidential report that will go to
the Attorney General.
Now the rules do call for a report from the Attorney General to Congress, a
brief notification is the term used in the regulations about what`s in the
Mueller report. But you and I both know there`s a huge public demand to
know what Robert Mueller has found. I think William Barr understands that.
People the Justice Department understand that. They know.
They have to in some form whether it`s a news conference or a report a
summary, they have to explain what Robert Mueller found and particularly
because the regulations really say that Mueller has to explain why he
decided not to prosecute. But in the case of the President who can`t be
indicted under Justice Department policy, it`s possible that Mueller has
found what would be crimes against another defendant but he can`t indict
the president so he`s got to explain what those are.
He could – he could very well accused the president of impeachable
offenses, obstruction of justice, but we do think that it is – there are
signs that the Stone indictment may well have been the last indictment. A
lot of people were waiting for a big conspiracy case that was going to
sweep up. Jared Kushner and the President`s children and other people
around the president, look we can`t say for sure but it does not – there
are no signs that that is imminent, Chris.
HAYES: It does seem to me insane from just a standpoint of sort of an open
democracy and self-governance for the document not to make its way to the
public. I mean, given the interest, given what we`re talking about. And I
guess the question is like does Congress have it within its power to shake
that document loose?
DILANIAN: Well, I would say yes but there`s going to be a fight over it
because right as you know, you know there are secrecy rules about grand
jury material and Robert Mueller has gathered a lot of documents and
testimony through the grand jury. And that`s supposed to be secret and
normally Congress does not get access to grand jury material.
But there`s a precedent there was a grand jury report in Watergate, Leon
Jaworski had the investigation and Judge Sirica wrote opinion where he said
look, this great – I know this is grand jury material, it`s secret but
it`s very important. It`s
pertinent to a House of Representatives impeachment investigation and so
we`re going to send it over.
And so I think you`re going to see the same kinds of arguments made by the
House Democrats in particular. They will subpoena this document if they
need to. They will negotiate redactions if they have to, but they want to
see the full document.
HAYES: All right, Ken Delanian, thank you so much.
DILANIAN: You bet.
HAYES: While the Mueller probe could be about to end, my next guest is
there when the entire investigation got started. Andrew McCain served as a
senior FBI official when the bureau began examining the Trump campaign`s
links to Russia and later as acting FBI director, he oversaw the formal
opening of investigations into the president himself.
He now has a new book, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age
of Trump. Andrew McCabe, welcome to ALL IN. It`s very good to have you
MCCABE: Thanks, Chris. It`s good to be here.
HAYES: First, let`s start with your reaction to this report that the
Mueller – the Mueller report is wrapping up. As someone who was sort of
intimately involved in the beginnings of the investigation, who knows the
building over at DOJ and the FBI well, how do you conceive of or mentally
model what this document is and what its function is?
MCCABE: Right. So first, I want to say make it clear that I am not in the
prediction business. So although that I`ve heard Ken`s report on how solid
we believe the reporting is that this is – this document is imminent, I
think we still need to wait and see when that shows up. But I am confident
that the product that Director Mueller and his team will deliver to the
Attorney General will be thorough, it will be fair, it will be objective,
and it will include the results of all the work that they`ve done.
HAYES: What are the – what is it like to navigate – I mean, this is
something you had first-person experience with at a particularly chaotic
moment in the bureau and the Justice Department`s history. But are you
confident that this has been done without political pressure and that the
pressure that we know the President has applied because he`s applied it in
public has not tainted the investigation?
MCCABE: Yes. So has it been done without political pressure? I think the
answer to that question is clearly no. We`ve seen the President and his
supporters try to pressure this investigation from many different
directions over the last year and a half.
However, I am absolutely confident in Director Mueller and a team that he`s
put together that they have charged forward and done their work regardless
of the pressure or the interest or the media coverage or the talk about
what they`re doing. And I think the results they`ve delivered to date
speak for themselves.
HAYES: Why do you have trust in Mueller?
MCCABE: You know, Chris, I worked for director Mueller for about 12 years.
I learned a lot about how the FBI conducts major, sensitive, complex
investigations from working on cases that we interacted very closely with
Director Mueller on. I`m familiar with not just his integrity – the
integrity, and honesty, and the independence that he brings to that work,
but also with the granular way that he approaches his tasking.
Director Mueller is a guy who is most happy when his hands are deeply
enmeshed in a complex investigation. He is a true investigator. He likes
to know all the facts. He likes to know all the people. He likes to talk
directly to the investigators on a daily basis to keep track of things as
they`re developing, to participate in those conversations about strategy,
about direction, about plans for the investigation.
So from my own experiences with him through the course of many
investigations over the years, I`m quite confident that he brought that
same approach to this task.
HAYES: Do you think that the report should be made public?
MCCABE: I do. I do. I think the report should first, of course, be
shared with Congress and then I think it should be made public as broadly
as it possibly can be made public, understanding that parts of it may be
classified, parts of it may be sensitive, there`s all kinds of other
concerns around releasing information of this kind, particularly if there`s
a decision not to – not to charge someone. But the team is well-
positioned and DOJ is well-positioned to go through that report and come up
with a summary, or a document, or a version that can be shared with the
You know, I think back to our own experiences with the Intelligence
Community assessment which is the document we prepared that put together
all the intelligence that we had, all the indicators from across the board,
multiple agencies about Russian interference in the 2016 election. That
document in its original form was one of the most highly classified you
know, most compartmentalized documents I`ve ever seen.
It`s very, very closely protected and we were still able at the end of the
day to take that document and distill it down into an unclassified version
that we were able to share with the public that carried the sum and
substance of the very important conclusions that we had drawn. So I see no
reason why the folks at DOJ couldn`t do the same thing likely with the
HAYES: You know, part of what you`re alluding to and others have as well
can write that it`s a strange situation right? You`re talking about
investigations you`ve done with Robert Mueller, investigations the bureau
does all the time 99.9999 percent of those investigations are not of the
sitting president of the United States and they`re of citizens or non-
citizens who can be indicted who go through a normal – the normal course
of the law`s treatment. This is a special individual constitutionally who
(INAUDIBLE) says can`t be indicted.
How do you think about what facts and what the bar is for an individual
that is the most powerful person in the world and also can`t be indicted so
doesn`t – there`s not the same kind of bar of beyond a reasonable doubt
you would if you were bringing a criminal case.
MCCABE: Sure, sure. So it`s a – you know, this is an incredibly complex
situation. So in the FBI. we have a lexicon for what we refer to as
sensitive investigative matters, right? So that`s a special class of
investigations that are so sensitive for any number of reasons that they
require additional levels of oversight both within the bureau and across
the street at the Department of Justice.
You can only imagine that this is maybe one of the most sensitive matters
that`s ever been investigated simply because of the involvement of the
president and the people around him in his campaign. So they have a lot of
hard decisions to make. If and I don`t know that this will be the case,
but if the results of the report indicate that a that a charge cannot be
brought, you know, that`s a very easy end to an investigation.
If you`ve determined that you`re going to pursue an indictment, that`s
exactly what you do. And there`s – we have processes in place to share so
that the public finds out who`s been charged and what they`ve been charged
with that sort of thing. It`s a much trickier situation as we found out
with the Clinton e-mail case when you are not bringing charges. Whether
that`s because of DOJ policy or simply because you don`t have the evidence
that you feel that you need to go forward with a charge.
HAYES: Well, but just to talk about those two branches, right? Not having
the evidence to go far with the charge which falls into a bucket that
happens fairly frequently and I think a strong case right, for the fact
that in a free society the tools of law enforcement don`t come out and say,
here`s all some nasty stuff about this person that we couldn`t charge
right? That makes sense this policy. It`s that other bucket which is that
the person happens to be the president. That`s the tough one to wrestle
with this case.
MCCABE: Right, right, that`s absolutely right. And you know, there`s a –
there`s a very delicate and you know, complicated, challenging balancing I
would imagine that goes on there within the department and ultimately on
the Attorney General`s desk to make that determination. But we have – we
are in a very unique situation here with a compelling public interest to
understand exactly what the Mueller team has come across in the time that
they`ve had this investigation. I`m sure those are all things that the
Attorney General will consider.
HAYES: You know, I want to talk to you a bit more about your experience at
the bureau and sort of the culture and actually go back a little bit and
talk about what happened during the campaign if you will stick around.
HAYES: Andrew McCabe is going to be my guest right after we take this
quick two-minute break. Do not go anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: People came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said
they think it`s Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it`s not
Russia. I will say this. I don`t see any reason why it would be. I will
tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The President`s oddly deferential even obsequious attitude towards
Vladimir Putin is just one of the reasons that the FBI opened
counterintelligence investigation of the President in the Spring 2017.
We`re back with the man who led that effort former Acting FBI Director
OK, so there`s a bunch of facts that have been discovered by Mueller that
have been put into indictments and then there`s just the public record of
the President. What is your theory of the case of why the President
behaves the way he does towards Vladimir Putin and Russia?
MCCABE: Yes. Great question, Chris. And that`s the one i think we`re all
hoping to get ultimately. One day you`ll get an answer to that.
HAYES: No, I`m asking you, Andrew McCabe, a man who worked at the FBI for
decades, who knows a thing or two around investigations, and has some
mental framework for how he thinks about cause and effect.
MCCABE: Some mental framework – I think that`s probably the only way I
could describe it at this point. Chris, what I can tell you is that we
were very confident in May of 2017 that we had facts and information in our
possession that clearly put us at the threshold that required that we open
a case. And that threshold is, of course, having an articulable, factual
basis to indicate that a federal crime may have been committed, in this
case, obstruction of justice, or that a threat to national security
It was our belief at that time that we had indicators to believe that both
factors might be present. What Director Mueller has added to that – to
that compendium of facts that complete understanding of what`s been going
on, we can only guess that, but we can pull at those threads that you`ve
mentioned right, the things that we`ve all observed over the last year, the
president`s own conduct like in the clip that you showed from his really
inexplicable statements in Helsinki. The things that we`ve learned about
the President attending meetings with Vladimir Putin and insisting that no
one else be present and trying to destroy the notes the translator`s notes
of those meetings after fact.
I mean, these are very concerning and curious behaviors. These are
behaviors that cause counterintelligence investigators to step back and ask
themselves why. Why would a president act that way? Why would anyone act
HAYES: What`s the answer.
MCCABE: I don`t know the answer to that, Chris. I`m not investigating it
HAYES: Right. Do you think he`s compromised? I mean –
MCCABE: I think it`s certainly possible. I mean, that was our concern in
May of 2017. I haven`t seen anything since May of 2017 that would warn me
off that possibility.
HAYES: What would that mean, I guess? I mean you know, there`s all this
talk about an asset and then it`s been interesting to sort of immerse
oneself in the literature and the sort of history of how assets are
recruited and how they could be either witting or unwitting.
What is – what is – if he were compromised, I`m not saying you say he is
right? You`re saying that`s an open question but you have concerns about
it. What would that mean? What does that word mean in this context?
MCCABE: You know, we talked about people being compromised but actually
the relationships that individuals develop with intelligence services
generally are far more nuanced than that. There`s a broad spectrum of
interactions that people – that people enter into, relationships they
develop with intelligence services, sometimes it`s completely unwitting if
you`re someone who just – you know, if you have an occupation with access
to classified material and you have the unfortunate habit of you know,
drinking too much and talking too much, you might all of a sudden find that
you have a new friend who`s really interested in hearing all those stories
that you talk about work.
You could end up being an unwitting or unintentional asset to a foreign
intelligence service all the way to the other end of the spectrum where
people actually offer themselves to foreign services for the purpose of you
know financial remuneration or they are trying to accomplish some sort of
I`m not suggesting that the President or anybody else has a relationship
like one or the other of those two spectrums but those are all the kinds of
possibilities the counterintelligence investigators consider. Is this
someone who is interacting either intentionally or unintentionally with a
foreign intelligence service and are they providing information to the
detriment of the United States?
HAYES: You had – you recount a number of interactions you have with the
president directly in the book and they`re sort of striking insofar as they
kind of look like how he is on Twitter and in public. It`s not – there`s
not a huge difference in how you would imagine him being. When he`s sort
of going off about his North Carolina victory or talking about your wife`s
unsuccessful race, what was going through your head? What are you thinking
about the individual who is the president of the United States?
MCCABE: You know, it`s hard to describe and I feel like I`ve really
overused the term shock and surprise and I couldn`t believe it. But
honestly, that`s what you`re – that`s what I was thinking in those
moments. You know, you enter – I entered the Oval Office for the first
time in my life on the evening of May 9th after finding out an hour or two
hours earlier that Jim Comey had been fired.
I was summoned to the Oval Office by the president to meet with him that
night. I stepped into that office. And I`ll tell you, Chris, you really -
- that is an impactful moment in the life of any government professional.
You are standing in the office of the presidency of the United States, the
decisions that have taken place within those walls, the people that have
that have worked there, the contributions to our society, it`s just – it`s
hard to describe so it really impacts you and it impacted me as I stepped
But then very quickly, you know, the President you know, stepped up from
behind the resolute desk, came around the desk, stuck his hand out, shook
my hand vigorously and began talking kind of at a mile a minute. It was an
HAYES: But what – I mean, I`ve been in situations with people, I`ve been
with – especially with politicians where they sit and they`re talking for
a really long time. They sound kind of unhinged. I`ve been – you know,
everyone has been unpleasant conversations they want to extricate
themselves in. People have been with their bosses saying ideas they think
are bad ideas and they`re trying to figure out how they`re going to massage
their way out of the conversation.
What is your impression of the human being who is the most powerful person
in the world talking to you the way that he is talking to you?
MCCABE: Well, in my case, he immediately launched into a conversation that
was really not a conversation at all. It was a suggestion. It was the
presentation of a narrative, of a version of facts that did not exist. And
what I came to realize was this was a narrative that the President was kind
of pulsing me to adopt. He wanted to see if I was willing to get on board
with his version of these events you know, claiming that the FBI was
ecstatic about the fact that Jim Comey had been fired and people were happy
to have him go and nobody liked Jim Comey and the FBI.
These were all things that I knew not to be true so it was from the very
beginning a perilous and really, really concerning interaction. I was
trying to navigate that interaction by telling the President the truth but
trying to do so in a way that I didn`t provoke an all-out confrontation
with him right there in the Oval Office. A confrontation that may have
been a more satisfying way to have that conversation but one that I thought
would alternately be a distraction to my ability to lead the FBI.
HAYES: So you`ve been the target of the president for criticism since
before he became the president on the campaign trail. There`s clips of him
going after you. You`ve been a target of his allies in Congress and in the
media over on Trump T.V. There is a narrative right, that essentially
there was a conspiracy of people that hated the president inside the FBI
including you. They cite the fact the I.G. found you lacked candor in its
I.G. report and that you were fired because of that to question your
version events and integrity.
What do you say to the basic idea that there`s these people inside the FBI,
you among them who just don`t like the guy, didn`t like the guy from the
jump, and were animated by animus essentially in the actions you took
throughout that campaign and up into him being president?
MCCABE: Yes. That is just absolutely and completely false. I understand
how that narrative may you know, the president and his supporters find that
narrative to be helpful in their quest to defend and protect the president.
But the fact is that narrative is not true. It`s not true as applied to me
and it`s not true as applied to anyone that I work with in the FBI.
FBI people go to work every day, they put their personal lives aside, they
put their personal beliefs aside, their political beliefs aside and they do
their jobs. And I think if you look back over the course of the decisions
that we made, the steps that we took at that time, each one of those has
made for the right reasons. We don`t always get everything right. We make
mistakes like any people and like any organization, but we honestly try to
live up to the responsibilities that we have in a fair and unpolitical way.
The FBI people are very, very wary about even the perception that politics
might be influencing the work they do. So this narrative of a persistent
deep state that`s out to get the president, we wanted to overturn the
results of the election is just absolutely false.
HAYES: Well, I would – I would also say to you and this is the argument I
made on air before which is that if the FBI was out to get the president,
they could have leaked some details about what was going on before he was
MCCABE: And that is a great point.
HAYES: The fact that all that stayed top secret while we learned every
stroke of the Hillary Clinton investigation I think mitigates against the
idea that you guys were out to get him. That`s just my own personal –
MCCABE: Well, I mean that`s absolutely right, Chris. And I would say you
know, even more generally from having served within it for 21 years, the
FBI not – is not a place known to be a hotbed of kind of liberal leanings
and anti-Republican politics.
HAYES: No, it is not.
MCCABE: And I think a lot of people could say and for good reason that our
– the decisions we made in the Clinton case likely had the effect of
helping the candidacy – the candidacy of Donald Trump. So when you put
those things together, this narrative that there were people in the FBI,
they were out to get the president is just absolutely makes no sense.
HAYES: All right, I want – we have some breaking news tonight, a really
disturbing case that has been cracked and there`s a charging document,
someone plotting a terrorist attack essentially stockpiling weapons and is
the former acting director at the FBI, I want to get your sort of response
to it and also sort of the rhetorical conditions created in this country
when the President sets his sight on people. So if you`ll stick around,
we`ll be back with that breaking news and Andrew McCabe just after this.
HAYES: We are back with former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, but
first some breaking news, a court filing in Maryland tonight has revealed
the arrest of a man being held on gun and weapons charges, a man
prosecutors describe as a domestic terrorist who intended to carry out a
Prosecutors say U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Paul Hason had
stockpiled 15 firearms and over 1,000 rounds of mixed ammunition with
intent to, quote, murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this
Court documents describe Hason as a man obsessed with white nationalist and
Neo-Nazi views, wrote in a draft email that, quote, liberalist, globalist
ideology is destroying traditional peoples, especially white. No way to
counteract without violence.
Court documents also say Hason stockpiled performance enhancing drugs he
believed would help him in his attack, and that he appeared to abuse the
pain medication, Tramadol.
A spreadsheet listing his apparent targets included prominent Democrats and
media figures, including me, and some of my colleagues here at MSNBC as
well as at CNN.
NBC News correspondent Gabe Gutierrez joins me now with the latest – Gabe.
GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Documents say that Christopher
Paul Hason had worked at the Coast Guard`s D.C. Headquarters since 2016.
He had also served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late `80s and early
`90s. But in those newly released court documents, prosecutors say that
the lieutenant was a self-described white nationalist who called for
focused violence and dreamed of ways to kill almost every last person on
Now, he`s charged with illegal weapons and drug charges, but prosecutors
say, quote, that that is the proverbial tip of the iceberg, and that the
defendant is a domestic terrorist.
Now, in draft emails, Hason had allegedly contemplated biological attacks
and contaminating the food supply. And prosecutors say he also had drawn
up a spreadsheet of targets, as you mentioned, Chris, that included
prominent politicians including Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck
Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as media figures, including
himself, Chris, and other
hosts at this network as well as others on CNN.
Now, his Internet search history allegedly included most liberal senators.
Where do most senators live in D.C.? And where and are Supreme Court
Now, the court documents also say that he stockpiled steroids in order to
potentially one day
carry out these attacks. And law enforcement sources tell NBC News that
they discovered all this
when the Coast Guard looked through his search history.
Prosecutors are now arguing that he should stay in jail while he awaits
trial. He was arrested due in court tomorrow for a detention hearing –
HAYES: All right, Gabe Gutierrez, thank you for that reporting.
I want to bring back Andrew McCabe, former acting director of the FBI.
Mr. McCabe, does the FBI and federal law enforcement take seriously enough
the threat of Neo-Nazi, white nationalist, extremist, right-wing violence?
MCCABE: The FBI takes the threat posed by domestic terrorism in all its
forms very seriously. Does it take it seriously enough? That`s a
As this threat continues and develops and becomes more violent and more
intense, the FBI, I`m sure, is going through a process of constantly
reevaluating how their intelligence collection and their investigative
resources are positioned against this threat. But I can tell you from my
own experience, it is one of the most concerning and closely watched
threats that we have in the counterterrorism division at the FBI.
HAYES: You`re someone – it`s hard to separate this from the way the
president, say, talks about the press, particularly. He talked this
morning about enemy of the people. And I should be clear, I don`t think a
violent Neo-Nazi needs the president`s OK to drop a list of people they
want to kill. But there is an atmosphere in which the president is
constantly targeting the press, constantly talking about his political
enemies in these very loaded terms. What do you think that does to the
country and to people out there who might already have dispositions?
MCCABE: You know, Chris, I worry greatly that rhetoric along those lines,
like we`ve heard from the president that talks about the press is the enemy
of the people, that constantly vilifies and undermines the work that our
free press does and they cannot have a beneficial impact on extremists and
people who are prone to violence. And, quite frankly, we expect more from
the chief executive of the greatest country on Earth.
So, these are comments that concern me much in the same way that the
vilification of people in law enforcement, people in the Justice
Department, people in the intelligence agencies, constantly undermining the
work they do – you know, it`s not – it doesn`t help, it doesn`t make the
hard and dangerous and stressful work that they do any easier, doesn`t make
it any easier to protect America.
HAYES: You`re someone who was anonymous essentially two years ago. I
mean, no one knew who Andrew McCabe was outside of the people in the
government and in the the senior levels of the FBI and Department of
Justice. You were not a household name. Your face was not plaster
anywhere. And you became famous first as an enemy of the president. I
mean, the president sort of calling you out. Fox News focusing its fire on
you. What is the first-person experience of that been like?
MCCABE: Well, Chris, and my heart goes out to you to see – to listen to
your report and
understand that your name was included on this list. I think you`re
unfortunately having your
own experience as I have, as my family has. These are very concerning
times. And to find out that you are discussed in that way or even just
thought about, talked about, maybe searched on the Internet by one person
is incredibly – you know, it`s scary.
Nobody wants to think that they might, by virtue of the work that you do,
by virtue of the service that you perform either for government, or in
private industry or in the media, can become the focus of one violent
I mean it`s scary.
HAYES: Is that something you`ve had to worry about?
MCCABE: You know, it`s something that I`ve been concerned with. I had
security arrangements while I was serving in the FBI for obvious reasons.
It`s something that concerns me
to this day. You know, I can`t – I`m not going to lie to you, when I sit
there and listen to the president shout out lies and kind of slanderous
comments about me and my wife to rallies of thousands of people and hear
them all chanting back, I mean, it`s chilling. There`s no other way to
HAYES: All right, Andrew McCabe, the book again is The Threat: How FBI
Protects America in the age of Terror and Trump. Thank you very much for
taking quite a bit of time tonight. I really, really, really appreciate
MCCABE: Sure. Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: And we`ll hear more of the arrest of that Coast Guard lieutenant
authorities say was planning a mass casualty attack, targeting prominent
Democrats and journalists next.
HAYES: As we mentioned earlier this morning, the president of the United
States once again referred to the New York Times as, quote, a true enemy of
the people. Let us not forget the kinds of
people who are listening when the president says things like that, people
like, for stance, Cesar Sayac (ph). You remember him? That was the Trump
super fan who covered his van in pro-Trump anti-media stickers and who is
charge with sending more than a dozen pipe bombs to prominent Trump critics
shortly before the mid-term election. And people like the man we learned
about today, Coast Guard lieutenant, self-identified white nationalist,
Christopher Paul Hason, who officials say was a domestic terrorist who
stockpiled an arsenal of weapons with a plan to target prominent Democrats
and members of the media.
Court documents say Hason have targeted one of my colleagues here at MSNBC
after he viewed a headline claiming the colleague had referred to Trump as
the worst president ever. He then – his Internet searches included what
if Trump illegally impeached, and civil war if Trump impeached .
Here to talk about the president`s words and their consequences, Jennifer
Rubin, an opinion
writer at The Washington Post and an MSNBC political contributor, and
Pulitzer Prize winner David Cay Johnston, the founder of D.C. Report and
the author of “It`s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump
Administration is Doing to America.”
Jennifer, pretty chilling stuff in the documents prepared by the Department
of Justice in this case.
JENNIFER RUBIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: It is. Just as the bomber that you
referenced in Florida, it was pretty chilling. And that`s not to say that
the president causes crazy people to be crazy, it`s to say that his words
have impact and they have particular impact on people who are mentally
unbalanced or who have an inclination to violence.
There is also a problem here that Trump personally has lied over and over
again trying to
convince us that Muslims from outside the United States are the greatest
threat to Americans, and in fact it is domestic terrorism. He has lied
about this. He has lied about it to congress, and it`s about time I think
we have some oversight hearings from Jerry Nadler and others in the House
to really explore why we have not taken this more seriously and whether we
need more resources or direction from
the White House on this.
HAYES: You know to that end, David, it`s striking to me, this is a case
with extremely lurid details as contained in the filing that we`ve talked
about. It`s the kind of case that the government would often usually put a
press release out about or there would be some kind of either U.S.
attorney`s office or the DOJ. We found out about this because of a
professor, actually, who sort of follows this
and grabbed the court filings, and then that turned into this case. Strange
to me, David, that this is not a
case that the Justice Department is putting out a press release on.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, FOUNDER, D.C. REPORT: Well, the Justice Department
right after Jeff Sessions became Donald Trump`s attorney general,
downgraded domestic terrorism and groups like the KKK and others who
promote white supremacy. Big surprise given both Jeff Sessions
background and Donald Trump`s race baiting throughout the campaign.
Donald Trump`s been giving aid and comfort to these people, and those who,
as Jennifer noted, mentally unbalanced or already tend toward violence, are
being encouraged by Donald to act on their
impulses, not just fantasize about them.
HAYES: Yeah, there is a feeling, Jennifer, when I talk to other
journalists, there is a general feeling, and you know, there was that
awful, awful shooting in Annapolis at the newspaper, which was not – was
related to something not having to do with the president of the United
States, it was a sort of preexisting obsession and beef that this
individual had, but there is a sense to people like someone is going to get
killed eventually, that the rhetoric and the temperature and the way – and
we saw that guy
jump into the camera well at a recent Trump rally and essentially try to
assault a BBC cameraman, like there there is a palpable sense among
journalists when they are out at bars and they`re drinking or they are at a
cocktail party and they`re talking with their friends that like there is an
environment in which something terrible is going to happen.
RUBIN: Exactly. And you`re right to reference the individual was at Trump
rally who jumped in, and attacked a BBC journalist. Unfortunately, I think
that didn`t get enough coverage in the America media. I would like to
think it wasn`t because we are provincial, but because we were probably
following some other Trump atrocity of the day.
But when he baits his crowd, when he tells them to turn and point fingers
and scream at journalists, when he isolates a journalist as he did during
the campaign, a single journalist and points them out, he is essentially
giving people all the impetus they might need to commit violence, to act in
ways that are illegal and that are threatening to journalists.
And I think this is a concern in every news room, I think it`s a concern in
every network. I think the degree of security they provide is greater than
it has been in the past, and it`s because of this president.
HAYES: You know, David, every politician in some way has their critiques
of the press. They argue with the press. They berate the press
occasionally. I came up in Chicago politics where Mayor Daly (ph) was –
would be quite tough on reporters. What makes this different? Is it
different the way this president talks about it, the language he uses, the
atmosphere he`s created?
JOHNSTON: Oh, this is absolutely different. I mean, none of us went into
this business to be liked, especially those of us doing investigative
reporting. We understand that a lot of people don`t want to hear things.
But when previous administrations, when American correspondents were
traveling with the
secretary of state and were roughed up or troubled by local thugs working
for whatever the dictator in power at the moment was, the U.S. State
Department personnel would step in about this and they would speak about
Previous presidents have talked about how valuable having a free press is,
even if – when the minute they get in the residence of the White House
they scream and yell and holler that they`re unhappy about what`s being
Donald Trump is not at all like this. He is in a unique category by
himself. And whenever
he is out of office, under – doesn`t matter what the circumstances are, he
will continue, I believe, to call for violence, to promote the idea that we
really don`t have a legitimate government, which is fundamentally what he`s
been doing, and particularly violence against journalists, people of color,
and people whose religion he doesn`t like.
HAYES: Jennifer Rubin and David Cay Johnston, thanks for being here.
A lot to get through in this breaking news tonight. Now amidst growing
reports about the
potential end of the Robert Mueller investigations as early as next week, a
new day for Republican and what the president`s former personal lawyer,
Michael Cohen. We`ll talk about that next.
HAYES: It`s been an extraordinary day of breaking news with a U.S. Coast
Guard officer arrested in what prosecutors are calling a domestic terror
plot. We also learned from House investigators that Donald Trump`s
personal attorney Michael Cohen will testify in public next week, and there
are now multiple news outlets, including NBC, CNN and The Washington Post
with special counsel Robert Mueller may soon release his report on the
Russia investigation, which
we discussed with former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe earlier this
Joining me now to discuss Mueller and McCabe, Carol Lam, former U.S.
attorney for the Southern District of California, who also served as a
superior court judge in San Diego; and MSNBC national security analyst
Clint Watts, a former FBI special agent.
Carol, let me start with you, as someone who ran a U.S. attorney`s office,
I want to ask a question about this breaking news, and something I raised
with Jennifer and David, is it strange there was no press release, no
official statement for something – a fact pattern that is as lurid as this
CAROL LAM, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I do find that very strange, Chris, I
have to say. Normally something like this where they`re members of the
media being targeted, members of congress being targeted, I would have
expected the Department of Justice come out with a press release.
HAYES: That would be fairly standard operating procedure?
LAM: It certainly would have been while I was U.S. attorney, yes.
HAYES: Clint, I want to talk about Michael Cohen being back on – back on
after being off. What do you make of the fact that he was scheduled, he
canceled, he talked about intimidation with the president of the United
Elijah Cummings said he will get him on. And now it appears he is going to
be testifying in public under oath next week.
CLINT WATTS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I just don`t know. It keeps
me in a delay, and that makes me think it`s more than just surgery or
I think there has been lots of negotiations going on behind the scenes. I
imagine Capitol Hill is part of it. I wouldn`t be surprised if the Mueller
investigation is part of it too, and you have got a new
attorney general, you know, that has just taking over. Lots of things are
in the mix. And I just find these constant delays all too curious based on
all the other circumstances we see swirling around right now.
HAYES: Yeah, it does look like we are finally going to hear the man`s
testimony, which is the first time, you know, we`ve talked about this
before, Carol, that the Mueller investigation is a black box. It doesn`t
leak, there is all this stuff. There is a lot that the public wants to
know just as citizens that this is going to be one of the first
opportunities basically since Comey came before congress to have an open
airing under oath.
LAM: That`s absolutely right. But I think what we have to prepare
ourselves for is at first it`s
going to take a little bit longer perhaps than the public is hoping and
expecting, because like a house renovation, it always takes a little bit
longer than we think.
But, you know, Mueller, unlike many of the previous special counsel, he is
a lot of people. Those are already in the public domain. The part that it
might be interesting that will be reserved for the special counsel`s
report, I think, might be parts of his investigation where he thinks that
one of two things, either he is concerned that he cannot meet the very high
bar, and I think he`s probably as a good prosecutor putting extra
requirements on himself, because what he doesn`t want to do is bring a
criminal case against very, very high levels of governmental officials and
then lose the case before a jury that would be a destabilizing factor for
the government. And I think somebody as god as Bob Mueller is probably
taking that into account; or he is concerned that perhaps if things
really do involve people at very high levels of government, he wants to
have a discussion and a deliberation with the attorney general as to where
the appropriate place is for such prosecutions to be brought.
HAYES: You know, Clint, one of the things people have noted that is a
little strange, I didn`t get a chance to ask Ken Dilanian this, there are
still sort of these open threads. There is a guy named Andrew Miller who
is an associate of Roger Stone who has fought his subpoena. Mueller`s team
has been fighting him. There is a subpoena for an unnamed corporation that
is owned by an unnamed foreign government that`s gone up to the Supreme
Court and back down. They are fighting that. That is not resolved.
There is this seizures of Roger Stone`s material. None that of is
resolved. What do you make of the fact that there appear to be loose
threads just right there, and it also looks like he`s headed towards some
kind of conclusion?
WATTS: I think there are some things that we may never know, and that has
to do with national security. One of the big gaps that we`ve talked about
before, and we still don`t know about is WikiLeaks.
Look, if you want to push a collusion conspiracy, WikiLeaks sets between
Stone, Stone`s associates and everybody in between. You have to put to put
that Russia connection together. And the same thing with Kilimnik. You
know, when they went to the Vanders One (ph) filing, they said person A in
2016 is acting as an agent on behalf of the Russian intelligence services,
that has not been closed out either.
And this will go into national security deliberation. How much do we push?
Is there a sealed indictment maybe with WikiLeaks somewhere in there? And
will we ever know about it?
There is a lot of negotiations I think that happen at the classified level
behind the scenes.
HAYES: That`s interesting.
WATTS: Where decisions have to be made. I mean, the belief has always
been that should WikiLeaks ever go down, that day or the next day there
would be an unbelievable release of additional material. It`s always
thought they`ve been an information time bomb, so to speak.
So, I`m not sure that it`s this straight forward as yes, no, collusion, or
not. I think there is a lot of things we probably don`t know they have to
HAYES: Well, there is also just a complete uncharted territory question,
which you`re sort of alluding to, when you talking about what the nature of
the Mueller report is. There is no – there is no
perfect analog for what he`s supposed to do, what his work product, right,
LAM: That`s absolutely right there. There is no model for him except for
the limited instances in the past where we`ve had reports from independent
counsel or special counsel.
But, again, this is so different. This case is so different. It`s so huge
in terms of the scope and the time period and the number of people they`re
looking at, and not to mention the complications with
international aspects of the case that really didn`t exist in prior
HAYES: All right, Carol Lam here in Los Angeles, it`s great to have you;
and Clint Watts,
That is ALL IN for this evening. “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right
now. Good evening, Rachel.
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