Investigating the President. TRANSCRIPT: 3/20/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests:
Jimmy Gomez, Natasha Bertrand, Katie Porter, Ruth Conniff, Desmond Meade
Transcript:

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being

with us.  “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes starts right now.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight on ALL IN.

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I gave them the kind of

funeral that he wanted.

 

HAYES:  A president bracing for impact.

 

TRUMP:  I didn`t get thank you.  That`s OK.

 

HAYES:  Takes aim at a dead senator and the spouse of his top advisor.

 

TRUMP:  He`s a whack job, there`s no question about it.

 

HAYES:  As he calls for the full public release of the Mueller report.

 

TRUMP:  Let it come out.  Let people see it.

 

HAYES:  Tonight, the status of the Special Counsel`s investigation and all

the other inquiries into the President`s behavior.  Plus, new calls to

investigate Trump`s biggest financial backer –

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  The

concern about Deutsche Bank is that they have a history of laundering

Russian money.

 

HAYES:  What a Joe Biden candidacy would mean in the Democratic field.

 

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I`m the most

progressive record of anybody running for the – anybody who would run.

 

HAYES:  And are Republicans in Florida about to pass a modern-day poll tax

when ALL IN starts right now.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes.  The President wants

everyone to know that he is cool as a cucumber about the looming Mueller

report.  He`s totally chill, wants everyone to see it, doesn`t have a care

in the world.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Does the American public have the right to see the

Mueller report?

 

TRUMP:  I don`t mind.  I mean, frankly, I told the House, if you want, let

him see it.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  President Trump is so relaxed he was able to rise above Twitter

criticisms from George Conway, husband of a counselor to the president

Kellyanne Conway and give a totally measured response.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How do you fell about George Conway?  How does he fit

the standard of –

 

TRUMP:  Well, I don`t know him.  Yes, I don`t know him.  He`s a whack job. 

There`s no question about it, but I really don`t know him.  He – I think

he`s doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife.  Kellyanne is a

wonderful woman and I called him Mr. Kellyanne.  The fact is that he`s

doing a tremendous disservice to a wife and family.  She`s a wonderful

woman.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  And president Trump is cool and unperturbed about Mueller the same

way that he`s completely over his feud with the seven-month deceased

Senator John McCain.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  A lot of people are asking because they love me and they asked me

about a man named John McCain.  And if you want that to tell you about it,

should I or not?  Yes?  So I have to be honest, I`ve never liked them much,

hasn`t been for me.  I`ve really probably never will.  But there are

certain reasons for it and I`ll tell you.  And I do this to save a little

time with the press later on.

 

I endorsed him at his request and I gave him the kind of funeral that he

wanted which as president I had to approve.  I don`t care about this.  I

didn`t get thank you.  That`s OK.  We sent him on the way but I wasn`t a

fan of John McCain.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  Now, because we fact-checked the President often, we should note

that he is correct that John McCain did not thank him for the funeral that

he signed off on.  That`s the feeling you see there when you`re definitely

not mad.

 

Now, while Trump says it if the public wants to see the Mueller report then

they should see it, the White House has hired 17 additional lawyers to deal

with whatever Robert Mueller sends their way.  And well the president says

he welcomes the transparency on that report, Democrats say the White House

is right now at this very moment stonewalling their congressional

investigations to an unprecedented degree.

 

They have ignored 15 different requests from the House Oversight and

Judiciary Committees.  They`re basically blowing off a co-equal branch of

government which gives a strong indication of how they plan to bulrush

their way through anything damning from the Mueller report if and when it

comes.

 

Remember here are just some of the investigations we still have questions

about.  The Russian government`s election sabotage, what was up with the

Trump Tower Moscow project which Michael Cohen lied about under oath in

terms of the duration, did the president commit obstruction of justice,

what don`t we know about campaign conspiracy by members of the Trump

campaign, was there additional wrongdoing by the Trump inauguration,

something that the subject of a criminal probe in the Southern District,

was the president hiding something in his taxes?

 

In fact, there is such a swarm of criminality, prosecution, and pleas

around the president in this sort of ever moving dynamic vortex that the

former RNC deputy finance chair, you remember him, the disgraced venture

capitalist who got Michael Cohen to pay off his own lover to run the same

play that Cohen ran with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

 

The guy who is accused of pressuring the said lover to have an abortion. 

Of course, this is the party of anti-abortion zealotry, so buried are we

and all the criminal investigations surrounding the president it barely

made a blip that this guy Elliott Brody was also rated by the FBI.  I mean,

who can keep track anymore?

 

Meanwhile, the special counsel`s investigation, the inquiry that led to all

these other investigations well, that just continues to hang over the Trump

White House.

 

Joining me now, Julia Ainsley, NBC News National Security and Justice

Reporter.  On that front, Julia, what do we know there`s constant sort of

chatter and scuttlebutt and this sort of rumor wire about the Mueller

report you can feel sort of how anxiously everyone Washington is waiting

for it?  What do we know?

 

JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY & JUSTICE REPORTER:  You know,

Chris, I don`t mean to be laughing.  It`s just been that kind of day, that

kind of week.  We are all on pins and needles down at the Justice

Department trying to read tea leaves, what everything means.

 

Just yesterday we found out Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would be

staying a little bit longer, what does a little mean?  Is he not leaving

until the report comes?  An official declined to comment on that.  So then

how do we read into that piece?

What is clear is that it is not up to the president how much of this report

we will see.  What he said today that he`s OK with the public seeing it,

that doesn`t matter much because it`s not up to him.  It is up to the

Attorney General William Barr to decide to what he releases to Congress.

 

He will have to send some kind of briefing based on that report to Congress

but it can be heavily redacted, it could be just a tiny fraction of what he

actually gets from Robert Mueller.  So we`re waiting on that, of course.

 

Another thing as you pointed out starting out is talking about kind of how

not relaxed the president was today, I can tell you who was relaxed which

was the Attorney General.  While the President was talking on T.V., there`s

a great image, if you can put this in your mind, the Attorney General was

in  the cafeteria that Justice Department having lunch with his staff while

all of that played out on the T.V. above his head. 

 

HAYES:  Let me ask you this.  What part – what do we know about what

official communication there will be when and if I suppose the Mueller

report is transmitted to the Attorney General which I suppose is like what

its filing would be.  Do we have an indication there will be some

notification that this has happened?

 

AINSLEY:  Yes.  I mean, well, OK, let`s take this in two steps.  So when

this comes to the Justice Department, we can expect to know that William

Barr has it but we won`t necessarily know the contents.  But then the

Attorney General does have to provide a report to Congress.

 

He doesn`t have to tell them the moment he gets it.  He just has to tell

them what is in it added another date.  And he doesn`t have a deadline.  He

could take as much time as he wants with it.

 

HAYES:  Right.  But do we have – is there some transparency with the

Department of Justice that they will tell the public when the Attorney

General the United States has it?

 

AINSLEY:  No.  No such promises.  I wish there were. 

 

HAYES:  Really? 

 

AINSLEY:  Yes.  I mean –

 

HAYES:  That seems wild to me.

 

AINSLEY:  It does seem to seem wild.  I mean, there`s a reason what we`re

betting on the fact that we will find out.  There`s a reason I`m spending

12 hours a day in the Justice Department right now.  But there is no

guarantee that it`s not anywhere written that they have tell us.  And I

don`t think he wants that pressure necessarily –

 

HAYES:  Of course not.  Of course, he doesn`t want the pressure.  I guess

the question is then the special counsel`s office can speak for itself

right?  I mean, presumably, the special counsel`s office or a spokesperson

could say like we`ve sent it in.

 

AINSLEY:  Well, that`s an interesting way to see it.  The way were we`re

framing this, the way we`re expecting it, of course, you know, there`s

always the unexpected especially in this probe that the communication would

come from the Justice Department.

 

HAYES:  I see.

 

AINSLEY:  Because Barr is ultimately the spokesperson for this report once

it leaves Mueller`s hands.  Mueller`s job is done.  It is then up to Barr

what happens next, and then ultimately up to Congress what they do with

these findings.

 

HAYES:  All right, Julie Ainsley who is camped out of the Justice

Department 12 hours a day, thank you.

 

AINSLEY:  Thank you.

 

HAYES:  Joining me now Congressman Jimmy Gomez, Democrat from California. 

He sits on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  I want to

read to you this headline from Elijah Cummings.  He says the White House

hasn`t turned over a single piece of paper to my committee.  Is that true?

 

REP. JIMMY GOMEZ (D), CALIFORNIA:  Yes, no, Chris, that`s absolutely true. 

They haven`t handed over one piece of paper from 12 different letters.  And

you know what, I`ve actually sit on Ways and Means and Oversight.  I got to

questions Steve Mnuchin and I got to question Wilbur Ross, and there`s one

thing they have in common.  They`re not going to Congress to answer any

questions.

 

Mnuchin even got mad.  He said, why are you trying to get me to answer 20

questions.  And it`s like that`s our job.  Our job is to answer questions

to lead to the truth.  So the American people deserve that and that`s what

we`re going to fight for.

 

HAYES:  Well, here`s the thing right?  There`s – so there`s – this

navigating document production and discovery and solicitation of

information by Congress of the White House is always a tricky process to

navigate, right?

 

And when the shoes on the other foot, Darrell Issa asks for a bunch of

stuff from the White House, the White House did produce some documents but

not everything he wanted.  I guess the question is like, where does this –

where does this fall in the normal tension and back-and-forth between a

Congress controlled by one party in a White House of the other?

 

GOMEZ:  Actually history shows that other White House`s and the other

administrations have been a lot more forthcoming.  You know, George W Bush

handed over 20,000 pages regarding the response to Katrina.  The Obama

administration handed over documents regarding e-mails and regarding

Benghazi.

 

So this administration is outside the norm.  They don`t want to answer any

question.  They don`t want to be on the hook as a co-equal branch of

government.  They just want to – they hope that we`re going to go away and

we`re not.

 

HAYES:  Is it you`re – do you think – do you take the President at his

word when he said today he want the Mueller report to be made public and

all of this sort of revolves around a question of transparency?  Like what

are the facts in the world what is known to the public?  How do we reckon

with whatever the facts are whether they are inculpatory or exculpatory for

the president and his associates?  Do you take him at his word that he

wants it to be made public or is that spin?

 

GOMEZ:  I don`t take him at his word at all.  I mean, remember, he was

supposed to be under audit when it comes to his tax returns and that as

soon as they were supposed to be done he was going to release them.  We`re

still waiting for his tax returns so what makes people think that he`s

actually being truthful when it comes to the report?  I don`t believe it. 

I think that he`s going to delay that as well.

 

HAYES:  You know, William Barr, as you just heard from Julia Ainsley, who`s

our – one of our Justice Reporters, you know, the kind of regulation at

issue here that creates the Special Counsel gives William Barr a lot of

power over what happens.  It`s not absolute power.  Do you trust him with

that power and do you – do you foresee a kind of head-to-head

confrontation like the one you`re currently having with the White House

with Barr?

 

GOMEZ:  I think we`re going to have to push and request and make sure that

he complies, that he would releases a full report and he releases the

report that Mueller writes.  And we`re going to keep pushing.

 

You know what, they`re – they know that they`re going to try to fight.  We

know that they`re going to try to fight every step of the way when it comes

to every single issue and that we could probably end up in the courts.  But

you know what, if that`s the way they want to go, then that`s the direction

we`re going to head in.

 

HAYES:  Final question and this piggyback itself over something I saw Adam

Schiff say.  Do you trust this report and here`s why I asked which is to

say, let`s say Mueller says look, all these things happen.  The president

acted in all these ways, but fundamentally there was no actual explicit

collusion or even goes further and says you know, the president we

exonerate the president.  I don`t know if you can really do that.  But do

you trust whatever the outcome of this thing is whatever it says?

 

GOMEZ:  I think we have to trust the report.  That means that we have to

see the whole thing.  We have to be able to read it for ourselves.  They

can redact it.  They can`t hold it back.  They can`t say OK, you guys get

this piece but not this piece.

 

You know if they really want to show the American people that they`re being

forthcoming and transparent, they need to see – they need to release the

full report.  At the same time, this is not the only issue.  Remember, the

tax returns.  Did Trump cheat on his taxes?  Who is actually leveraging

him?  Deutsche Bank, all that, we get a better understanding of his

finances.  We get a better understanding of what motivates him and if he`s

actually fighting for the American people or first somebody else.

 

So I think we`re not going to go away.  We`re not going to disappear.  You

know, every single committee is going to fight to make sure that the

American people hold this president accountable and we get to the truth.

 

HAYES:  All right, Congressman Jimmy Gomez, thank you for making some time

tonight.

 

GOMEZ:  Thanks, Chris.

 

HAYES:  Joining me now Barbara McQuade.  She`s a former U.S. Attorney for

the Eastern District of Michigan and an MSNBC Legal Analyst and Natasha

Bertrand Staff Writer at The Atlantic covering national security and the

Russia investigation.

 

Barbara, you had an op-ed in USA Today that said the – it`s called the

bread crumb papers.  Why Cohen document dump should worry Trump and others. 

What is your current thinking about where things are headed?

 

BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  I know there is some speculation

about a report dropping tomorrow but I`d be surprised in light of some of

the things we`ve seen in recent days.  I mean, one is these Cohen

documents.  A judge just the other day found that large portions of them

may remain redacted because they continue to be the subjects of ongoing

investigation by Robert Mueller.

 

There were 18-1/2 pages redacted there.  And when asked how much longer

they need to be redacted, the answer was 60 days.  You know judges want to

release information to the public.  You can only seal them for certain

limited purposes.  And the fact that they continued to keep them sealed for

another 60 days suggests to me that maybe not tomorrow, maybe more like

sometime within the next 60 days.

 

Similarly, we saw that Rick Gates had a status conference set for his

sentencing and update within 60 days.  We`re hearing that Rod Rosenstein

it`s going to stick around a little longer than anticipated.  And so my

thinking is sometime within the next 60 days seems more like tomorrow.

 

HAYES:  Interesting.  That`s very interesting based on the sort of public

filings that we have.  Natasha, it is striking to me that right now

everyone in both political parties and I think in the White House does not

know what is going on.  And despite the fact there`s something looming over

them that will probably affect people`s political fortunes, the decisions

they`re going to have to make, and yet they just continue to sort of go

along waiting for it like everyone else.

 

NATASHA BERTRAND, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC:  Yes.  It`s really amazing. 

I mean, the President`s tweets last weekend really made everyone believe

that there must be something coming this week.  And experts were telling me

that if the Mueller report were to already have been given to Bill Barr

which is a theory that the former CIA Director John Brennan had, then the

White House would probably know that which might explain some of Trump`s

bizarre behavior over the weekend, his kind of freak outs.

 

But you know, the reality is that we just don`t know and the President

himself has been going back and forth on this.  I mean, on Twitter last

weekend he was saying there should be no report at all.  Now he`s saying

that he`s completely fine with the report being released.  And we don`t

even know whether there is going to be a report, right?  We still don`t

even know whether such a report actually exists or whether it will just be

a sheet of paper or whether Mueller has told his entire story via

indictments and will continue to do so.

 

So we just have not a single clue and you know, my colleagues who cover the

White House today we`re talking to Trump`s lawyers and they also said yes,

we`re hearing rumblings about a possible report but we`re hearing that from

reporters.  So it`s kind of like this echo chamber that`s going on in

Washington right now.

 

And I think Barbara is absolutely right.  I think that you know, I think we

should be ahead of the prediction business by now but it`s most likely that

Mueller has not completed his work just because of all of the unanswered

questions that are still lingering out there.  I mean let you know, just

Rick Gates alone is probably the star witness in this whole thing and we

have no idea what the extent of his cooperation has been or what he`s

answered questions about.

 

HAYES:  It`s also striking to me to return to Elliott Broidy, Barbara, who

I mentioned in the top.  I mean, you know, in a – in another setting, the

revelation that the Deputy Finance chair of the RNC had been raided by the

FBI would be an explosive story, right?  I mean, everybody would be out

camped outside the RNC, people would be wanting you know, maybe wanting

comment.

 

Of course, he`s already been disgraced and he`s already been through this

scandal but that`s also someone – the only thing that has anything to do

with Mueller, and this is a person who some judge found probable cause to

go search.

 

MCQUADE:  Yes.  It really does show how extraordinary the times are that we

live in when we`ve seen so many individuals under investigation, so many

searches, so much process serve that we barely flinch when we hear about

some of these kinds of things.  But I think the Cohen documents that were

released yesterday, you know, something like 800 pages, does show you that

there`s a lot more out there that we don`t know about yet that is yet to

come.

 

They were up on his phones, they were up on his Gmail accounts, they even

used location data to pinpoint his location.  If they were doing that with

Michael Cohen going all the way back to 2017, who else were they

scrutinizing at that level, and I think that remains to be seen.

 

HAYES:  On Capitol Hill, you know, I just talked to Congressman Gomez there

about the sort of this back and forth between the White House and the House

in terms of document production, Natasha.  You do wonder if the refusal to

hand over documents is essentially a trial run right, the warm-up innings

for what is to come?

 

BERTRAND:  Right, absolutely.  I think the White House is just saying what

it can get away with.  And I know that there were reports recently that

they want to review any kind of Mueller report before it comes out to

determine whether or not certain things are covered by executive privilege.

 

So it seems like they`re kind of developing a strategy as they go seeing

what they can and can`t push back on before the report actually comes out

or what they can and can`t get away with in terms of turning over documents

to Congress.

 

You know, a lot of people who I speak to are very surprised by the fact

that Mueller hasn`t actually pressed for sit-down interview with the

President and then that would actually be the final step in any kind of you

know, investigation if it was to be ending soon.

 

You know, other people say that the written answers are probably enough. 

But regardless it seems like the White House clearly is not as you know,

open to all of the information being out there as they say they are because

they`re still trying to stonewall a co-equal branch of government and

they`re still reluctant to just allow the Mueller report to come out kind

of unfettered.

 

HAYES:  Yes.  Barbara McQuade and Natasha Bertrand, thank you both.

 

MCQUADE:  Thanks, Chris.

 

HAYES:  Next, the mounting investigations into the ties between the

president and his biggest financial bank are Deutsche Bank.  The renewed

scrutiny with Congressman Katie Porter in two minutes.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen is now calling for a bipartisan probe

of Deutsche Bank after the New York Times published a major investigation

of the lender`s long history with the President early this week.  For

years, Deutsche Bank has been the only large financial firm willing to do

business with Donald Trump who companies have declared bankruptcy at least

five times, scared away a lot of creditors.

 

According to The Times, Deutsche Bank just continued to do it.  Did lend

him money more than $2.5 billion over the years in spite of all the risks

they knew he posed because he had not paid back basically anyone who`d ever

lend money before.

 

The bank knew the President was lying to them about his net worth.  He

defaulted twice on hundreds of millions of dollars.  He even took the bank

to court and yet the money kept flowing right up until he ran for

president.

 

New York`s Attorney General is already investigating several projects

financed by Deutsche Bank.  Two House committees Financial Services and

Intelligence are jointly probing the bank`s relationship with the

President.  Their main question whether there`s any link between the

president`s business and some of Deutsche Bank`s shadier activities around

the world.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SCHIFF:  Well, the concerned about Deutsche Bank is that they have a

history of laundering Russian money.  They paid hundreds of millions of

dollars in fines to the State of New York because they were laundering

Russian money.  And this apparently was the one bank that was willing to do

business with the Trump Organization.  Now is that a coincidence?  If this

is a form of compromise, it needs to be exposed.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  For more on Deutsche Bank and the President, I`m joined by a

freshman Democrat who`s already making a splash on the House Financial

Services Committee, Congresswoman Katie Porter of California.  Congressman,

good to have you.  What are your concerns as someone who has spent your

career thinking about the finance – the financial system and banks, your

concerns about Deutsche Bank.

 

REP. KATIE PORTER (D), CALIFORNIA:  I think what`s going on with Deutsche

Bank is we have a repeat offender.  This is a bank that has violated laws

over and over again even since the financial crisis.  They`ve evaded taxes. 

They`ve manipulated interest rates, and they have engaged in money

laundering for to the tune of $10 billion for Russian oligarchs.

 

So this is a corporate recidivist.  This is a bank that has clearly not

learned it`s lessons from the financial crisis.  And their willingness to

continue to loan money to Mr. Trump even when he was not creditworthy

should really raise eyebrows.  What would be the reason that a bank would

continue to do that?

 

HAYES:  Yes.  That`s my – that`s my question looking at it.  I`m sort of a

two minds right?  I mean, having covered finance a fair amount myself as a

journalist, there`s always someone around willing to take some risk that`s

lying around that others aren`t.  And a lot of times those folks get into

trouble and they crash and burn, and then there`s the sort of darker reason

that there`s something untoward going on there.

 

But it seems like the first one is a plausible explanation.  I mean,

Deutsche Bank seems like a fairly risk seeking operation.

 

PORTER:  Oh, it definitely is a risk-seeking operation.  They have a

voracious appetite for risk.  This is the only institution that has been

fined by the Federal Reserve for violating the Volcker Rule.  When you look

at their track record, they really do stand out in terms of their

willingness to make loans, break rules, ignore compliance.

 

This is a bank that has not come to terms and not shown a willingness to

comply with the rules that Congress enacted in Dodd-Frank.  I think this

episode with Mr. Trump tells us as much about Deutsche Bank and about

what`s going on in Wall Street as it does about Mr. Trump.

 

What we see here is a bank that simply is willing to serve a handful of

elites when it`s not doing its job making the Main Street economy go

forward.

 

HAYES:  You know, our eagle-eyed producer pointed out that back in April

2018 that The Times report about Trump is attempting to fire Mueller which

Don McGahn who is then-White House Counsel scotched.  That the President`s

anger was fueled by the reports the subpoenas were obtaining information

about his business dealings with Deutsche Bank according to interviews with

eight White House officials.

 

His lawyers and advisers were quickly to learn about the subpoenas and

ultimately we`re told by Mr. Mueller`s office reports were not accurate

leading the President to back down.  What does that say to you?

 

PORTER:  I think the president doesn`t want this investigation to go

forward.  He`s made clear that he doesn`t think that this Special Counsel

will find anything.  But the American people deserve to know exactly what

the special counsel has found.

 

And given Deutsche Bank`s long history of wrongdoing, of cheating

consumers, of engaging in shell game trades to launder money for Russian

oligarchs, there is a legitimate possible nexus here between foreign

interference in the election and Mr. Trump`s election and what Deutsche

Bank has been doing.

 

So I think this is a very appropriate topic for congressional oversight and

in addition to Special Counsel Mueller`s report.

 

HAYES:  You know, I want ask you.  You`re on House Financial Services

Committee.  You study with Elizabeth Warren at Harvard.  You`re a law

professor who`s written textbooks on finance and financial regulation.  I

used to read you when you were blogging back in the day at TPMCafe which

where Elizabeth Warren used to blog as well.

 

You`re a real expert in the world of bank regulation that you are now

sitting on a committee on.  You`re now a freshman member of Congress.  What

is your experience of it been like?

 

PORTER:  It`s been fabulous.  I feel like this is an area where I can make

a real contribution to the work of the committee and frankly to the work of

both sides of the aisle.  Asking the right questions can help us figure out

where we need to do more oversight, where there are areas that we can

improve.

 

So I do my homework.  I really try to dig into the issues, try to make sure

that we`re getting the answers that we need.  And the point of hearings is

not for politicians to talk, it`s for the American people to get answers.

 

HAYES:  All right, Congresswoman Katie Porter, freshman out of California,

really great pleasure to have you on.

 

PORTER:  Thank you so much.

 

HAYES:  Coming up, are Republicans about to initiate a kind of modern-day

poll tax in Florida?  An important update to a story we brought to you

during the Midterms.  That`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

(CHEERING)

 

CROWD:  Yes on four.  Yes on four.  Yes on four.  Yes on four..

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  One of the big stories of election night last year was a huge

victory in Florida to restore voting rights to about one-and-a-half million

people.  Amendment four.  They were chanting yes on four passed with almost

65 percent of the vote on a night when people elected a Republican

governor, no less.  Now, quietly, Republicans in the Florida House are

trying to gut passage of that amendment, or at least one of its sort of key

and central provisions.

 

They passed a bill out of committee that would require payment of all court

costs and fines before those who have been reenfranchised, felons, can get

their voting rights back.  Critics call it a modern day poll tax.

 

Desmond Meade was one of the organizers of the campaign to pass amendment

four.  He, himself, a former felon, but has since received a law degree,

now advocates for voting rights and civic engagement, and he joins me

tonight.

 

Mr. Meade, what do you think about this legislation?  Describe to me what

it would do.

 

DESMOND MEADE, FLORIDA RIGHTS RESTORATION COALITION PRESIDENT: Thank you so

much for having me back on the show.  I don`t think first and foremost what

we`re seeing is select group of politicians that have shown that they`ve

had little to no regard for the will of Florida voters, many of whom are

even in their own district.  And we`ve seen these same politicians that

have really thumbed their nose at our judicial system.

 

HAYES:  So you put together a sort pf amazing bipartisan coalition.  This

was something that I had to be if you passed something by 65 percent, there

are Republicans working on this, and liberals and conservatives, black and

white.  Why is this happening?  Who are the politicians?  And what is your

understanding of what they`re trying to do?

 

MEADE:  Well, when you look at the language, not only do you see that

they`re trying to expand what completion of sentence means, but they`re

also allowing other governmental and private agencies outside of the court

to determine an person`s sentence and to determine whether or not an

American citizen would be able to register to vote.

 

HAYES:  So that means that this legislation that`s being considered in

committee, the amendment says that someone gets their voting voting rights

back when completing the sentence, and they`re saying completing the

sentence means paying back fines.  What else?

 

MEADE:  So, they`re try to add court costs and any other type of monetary

obligations that can somehow or another be attached to a sentence when it`s

really not.

 

You know, at its core, you know, what we`re looking at is that we went

through a phase where when we submitted the language before our Florida

Supreme Court and with a unanimous opinion, the Florida Supreme Court

agreed that our language was clear, it was not ambiguous, it was not

misleading to the voters, and that the voters knew exactly what they were

voting for, which is once a person completes term of incarceration, terms

of probation, and in a case where a judge orders restoration, pays

restitution, their sentence is complete.

 

What these specific legislators are trying to do is to try to add on top of

what Florida voter have

already agreed on.

 

HAYES:  So that`s already – sorry, I just wanted to make sure, so that`s

already – that meaning of what amendment four means, which is

incarceration, probation and restitution, that is said and understood as

the term and they are now trying to tack atop that other fees and fines?

 

MEADE:  Yes.  But you know what it`s a bigger issue that they`re toying

with.  What we`ve seen, what this country has seen when we passed amendment

four was that people from all walks of life and all political persuasions

came together and said when the debt is paid it`s paid.

 

They came together and they gave us over 5.1 million votes of love.  And we

did it without engaging in partisan politics.

 

What this world seen was how much we can accomplish when politicians keep

their hands out of the people`s business.  Now what they`re doing is

they`re trying to drag this momentous win, they`re trying to drag this

moment where we brought people together, unifying moment,  where people

from all walks of life and political persuasions came together.  And

they`re trying to divide us along some partisan lines.

 

And that is totally unacceptable.  To me, that`s unpatriotic, that`s

undemocratic, because the people have already spoken.  The courts have

already spoken.  And they should not be engaging in legislative overreach,

right, to try to thwart the will of the people or thumb their noses at the

courts.

 

HAYES:  Final question for you, since it passed out of committee, now I

imagine it matters what the state legislative leadership and the governor

make of it.  Had they given indications of whether they support or oppose

the legislation?

 

MEADE:  Well, one of the things I can say is that the governor, one of his

tag lines that he says so often, is about operating under the rule of law,

you know, and I do believe that if folks would just operate under the rule

of law, and respect the decisions of the courts, and respect the will of

its voters, that everything will be OK.

 

I don`t believe that every legislator out there is seeking to harm people,

because at the heart of all of this – we`re talking about people`s lives. 

You know, they had elections here in Jacksonville the other day, and to

hear the stories of people who haven`t voted in 20, 30 years with tears

rolling down their eyes, feeling like they`re an American citizen again, to

have a select group of politicians try to thwart that, you know, it`s

insane, it really is.  And we`re expecting leadership in our senate and in

the House and in the governor`s mansion and speak out against that and tell

these select group of legislators that they must respect the will of the

voters, because at the end of the day it`s our will that counts more than

their own personal agenda.

 

HAYES:  All right, Desmond Meade, one of the co-founders of Amendment 4

push, the successful Amendment 4 push.  Thanks for your  time.

 

MEADE:  Thank you.

 

HAYES:  Still to come, why Joe Biden is polling at the top of the

Democratic field for now, and what his candidacy would do to the 2020

primary.

 

Plus, the president and Twitter in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  Thing One tonight, the ongoing concern about the president`s media

diet.  Take, for example, this Twitter video of a TSA officer patting down

a 13-year-old after the laptop of the 13-year-old set off an alarm for

traces of explosives.

 

The president tweeted that video today saying, quote, “not a good

situation.”

 

That incident, which prompted widespread outrage, happened a full two years

ago.   The TSA at the time said this was normal procedure.

 

So, how did that old news item get into the president`s feed today and then

to all the followers?  Well, guess what, two days ago a Q Anon conspiracy

theorist posted the clip talking about the perverts at TSA, which was then

reposted by actor turned right-wing activist James Woods, and then re-re-

posted by comedian Larry the Cable Guy.

 

QAnon to Woods to Cable Guy and finally re-re-reposted by Donald “the Cable

Guy” aka the president.

 

That wasn`t even the most unusual thing that happened in the president`s

Twitter feed today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. President, how do you feel about George Conway? 

How does he fit the standard of…

 

TRUMP:  Well, I don`t know him.  He`s a whack job, there`s no question

about it.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  It is of course not unusual for Donald Trump to lash out at his

critics on Twitter, but usually those critics aren`t married to his top

advisor.  George Conway, conservative lawyer and husband to the counselor

to the president, Kellyanne Conway, has been trolling his wife`s boss on

Twitter in increasingly brash ways, most recently repeatedly suggesting

that Trump has narcissistic personality disorder.

 

Today, Trump took the bait, calling Conway stone cold loser and a husband

from hell, which OK, in a tweet this morning, and he went further outside

the White House today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  He`s a whack job, there`s no question about it.  But I really don`t

know him.  I think he`s doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife. 

Kellyanne is a wonderful woman, and I call him Mr. Kellyanne.  The fact is

that he`s doing a tremendous disservice to a wife and family.  She`s a

wonderful woman.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  OK, Mr. Melania.

 

Now, if you`re Kellyanne Conway, you`re in a pretty awkward situation, but

of course I mean, you`ve got to defend your spouse, right? 

 

No.  Kellyanne took the president`s side, telling Politico, quote quote,

“you think he should

respond when somebody, a non-medical professional, accuses him of having a

mental disorder?  You think think he should take that sitting down?”

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I have – by the way, the most loyal people in the world.  They`re

the smartest people.  They`re the toughest people.  They`re the greatest

people in the world.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  Today marks the 16th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. 

It is the single biggest tragedy of my political lifetime and an incredibly

formative experience. I was 23-years-old when we set out to invade Iraq,

and I watched as in an atmosphere of fear after 9/11, leaders in power

manipulated the public to forge an incredibly robust, elite consensus that

we had to undertake something that seemed to me, and many at the time, and

seems ever more so now as indefensibly

wrong.  But so many smart experts told us we had to do it, that Saddam was

a threat, that he had weapons of mass destruction.  And the Bush

administration more than any other single entity, of course, used its power

to manipulate and cherry pick intelligence to scare the public into war.

 

Of course, millions of people dissented and took the streets.  I was among

them.  And we were right.  And the so-called experts, and politicians, and

editorial boards, and columnists, they were all wrong.  The cost of that

war was nearly 5,000 American service members` lives, trillions of U.S.

dollars and the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, hundred of of

thousands of fellow human beings off men, women and children dead because

of the events that our nation set in motion.

 

Prisoners tortured in Abu Ghraib, children shot dead in front of their

parents in the city square by mercenaries, and 16 years later, we still

live with the consequences, though not as much as Iraqis do.

 

And yet remarkably, with some notable exceptions, the many individuals

responsible never really paid any kind of price, reputationally,

politically.  The influential people who advocated for the war and voted

for it, still have prominent positions, some have recanted and apologized,

recognized the error of their ways, and that really does matter.

 

But the broader lesson here is when you don`t really confront the past, you

create conditions that lead to something like the current administration

where Iraq War cheerleader and uber-Hawk, John Bolton, is advising the

president.  He is the national security adviser, and as we speak banging

the drums of war against both Iran and Venezuela.

 

And unless we deal with this era, the Trump era, differently than we did

the era of the Bush administration, history will repeat itself again.  In

fact, it sort of has already.

 

Right now, you can go to the Worldwide Speakers Group website to book for a

fee John Kelly, who oversaw a department while they were developing a

policy to tear children away from their parents, a man who lied about when

he found out that a trusted staffer had been accused of domestic violence

by two ex-wives, and then defended said staffer, who lied about, again, in

public, about a member of congress in a desperate attempt to protect the

president.  And you can now pay to hear that man`s wisdom.

 

You know, one of the main lessons of the Trump era is that shamelessness is

a kind of political super power.  But the more I think about it on this day

of all days, I realized they learned that from the Iraq War crew.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  After months of speculation and weighing of options, all signs now

point to Joe Biden

entering the presidential race. 

 

The Wall Street Journal is reporting the former vice president has told

supporters he plans to run for president.  He`s asked for their help in

lining up contributions from major donors so he can quickly

raise several million dollars.

 

If he indeed makes it official, there is good reason to believe that he

will begin, at least, in the

beginning, as the front-runner in the field.  According to a new CNN poll,

Biden is the candidate Democratic voters say they would most likely

support.  At this point, though, many are undecided.

 

A six-term U.S. senator who chaired both the Judiciary Committee and the

Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden has deep ties to world leaders and

the entirety of the Democratic establishment and the highest name

recognition among likely candidates, in large part because his last job was

this

guy`s vice president for eight years.

 

But the question for Biden is can a man whose political identity and

ideology was forge in a different era, whose habits and ways of thinking

are the product of a different time, can he convince Democrats today he is

the right man for this moment?

 

To discuss what a Biden candidacy will do to the race, I`m joined by Alex

Seitz-Wald, political reporter for NBC News; and Ruth Conniff, an editor

at-large for The Progressive Magazine.

 

Alex, you`ve been covering the race really well.  And, you know, someone

pointed it out to me – I`ve been thinking about it – that there is no

like online Biden stans, like there is no one like dying online for Joe

Biden, and it`s a place where the gap between like the Democratic primary

voter and the world of political conversation might be its widest, because

there are a lot of people out there among

Democratic voters who are really looking for Joe Biden.

 

ALEX SEITZ-WALD, NBC NEW:  Yeah, absolutely, Chris.  The extremely online

set is not crying for Joe Biden to get in.  But as we all know, Twitter is

not real life.  A fraction of Americans use Twitter.  And when you talk to

people out in Iowa and New Hampshire as I have, you do hear that there is

absolutely an opening for somebody more in the middle, for somebody like

Joe Biden who most Democrats have a very fond image of.  They like him. 

They like his association with Barack Obama.

 

I think the question for him is whether he can translate that into being a

candidate.

 

HAYES:  Right.

 

SEITZ-WALD:  We know from Hillary Clinton, from countless candidates, that

your poll numbers almost always drop once you leave the nonpolitical world

and you enter the political world being a candidate.  And he is no longer

the guy with the aviators and the ice cream cone that we remember from the

Obama years, but he is a real person with actual policies running against

all these other candidates who are going to have – him be their target,

number one, because he be the front-runner.

 

HAYES:  Yeah, Ruth, I mean, there is sort of a stylistic issue and

substantive one.  I mean, he has run for president twice and didn`t do

particularly well.  And substantively there is the fact that he said this -

- I thought it was interesting – he said this to Delaware voters, which I

want you to respond to, about getting criticized by the  new left, which I

think shows how he`s thinking about the race

substantively.  Take a listen.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I`m told I get

criticized by the new left.  I have the most progressive record of anybody

running for the – anybody who would run.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  I mean do you think that`s true?

 

RUTH CONNIFF, THE PROGRESSIVE MAGAZINE:  I think it`s an astounding claim. 

I think as you pointed out that Joe Biden`s politics –  I mean, let`s face

it, he`s had a long, long, long

political career, but a lot of the stands he has taken and the record that

he has built over the years include super predators, crime bill, creating

mass incarceration of African-American young men.  You know, he was taunted

Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings.  This is the

#metoo era that we`re running in here.

 

He was a supporter of the 2005 bankruptcy bill, which made it easier for

credit card companies

to hound people and harder for consumers to get bankruptcy protection

during the recession.  So, no, I do not think that Joe Biden in this

Democratic field has the most progressive record.

 

But I do agree he is a likable guy and people like him.  And I like that

image of him in the

aviators with the ice cream cone.  And my personal favorite imagine is the

one the Onion Photoshopped of him washing his Camaro in the driveway of the

White House.  So, I think that kind of regular guy, kind of goofy regular

guy image is in some ways a welcome relief from the anger of the Trump era

and the nastiness of the Trump era.

 

But fundamentally, Joe Biden`s message in that speech in Delaware was we

need to all get along, bipartisanship is a really good thing.

 

HAYES:  Yep.

 

CONNIFF:  And this kind of old boys network that he was a part of is a

positive.  We want to go back to those civilized days.   And that is kind

of missing the major energy on the left in America right now, which is from

Black Lives Matter and #metoo, and a lot of people who want radical,

radical rescue from climate change, a Green New Deal. 

 

I mean, the energy is not about let`s put the old white guys back in

charge, in spite of the fact

that Biden now makes the top three polling candidates for polling, Trump,

Sanders, and Biden, all white men over the age of 75, which is really out

of sync with the country.

 

HAYES:  Well, then there is a question, Ruth, about like who do you mean? 

I mean, I completely agree about like activists in the Democratic Party,

some of the most mobilized and most organized folks.  But, you know, there

is this – Alex, I thought this was interesting, this was – someone who

was working for one campaign didn`t disclose it, but who does focus groups

was doing the focus group of African-American women in South Carolina,

which of course a crucial state, testing different

messages on Biden.  And one woman says it`s the closest we can get to a

third term for Obama without electing Michelle.  Lots of chuckles, also

lots of heads nodding in agreement.

 

I mean, there`s a reason when Democrats are asked to describe themselves,

and the biggest descriptor they used was Obama Democrat.  And that I think

is sort of the subtext here for the Biden

phenomenon, Alex.

 

SEITZ-WALD:  Right.

 

But I`m not sure that he can count on having the Obama mantle, or at least

not entirely to himself.  You would think he would as the former vice

president, but could it also be Beto O`Rourke, who a lot of Obama aides

really like, who is young, who is charismatic, who is kind of filling that

catch fire mold that Obama did in 2008.

 

Or could it be an African-American candidate like Cory Booker or Kamala

Harris or another path-breaking candidate.

 

So I don`t even know that Joe Biden can necessarily count on that coming

around to him.  And he can`t even really count on the establishment being

behind him, because they would already be

behind him if he could count on it.  Everybody knows about everything you

can know about Joe Biden if you wanted to, if you`re an insider.  And I

think the danger that that 28 percent, whatever he is at in the polls, that

that is a ceiling and not a floor.

 

HAYES:  Yeah, totally agree.

 

SEITZ-WALD:  And his first day in the race could be his best day.

 

HAYES:  All rig ht, Alex Seitz-Wald and Ruth Conniff, thank you both for

joining us.

 

That is ALL IN  for this evening.  “THE  RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right

now.  Good evening, Rachel.

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END   

 

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