Some investigators unhappy with Barr. TRANSCRIPT: 4/4/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests:
Caitlin Ostroff, Ron Wyden, Mazie Hirono
Transcript:

CHRIS MATTHEWS, ANCHOR, MSNBC:  That`s HARDBALL for now.  “ALL IN” with

Chris Hayes starts right now. 

 

CHRIS HAYES, ANCHOR, MSNBC (voice over):  Tonight on ALL IN. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: 

 

  Release the Mueller report as soon as possible. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

HAYES (voice over):  A torrent of complaints from the Mueller team. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES:  My Mueller report was great. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

HAYES (voice over):  Against the Attorney General. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  Barr is

an agent of the President.  He was put there for that purpose. 

 

 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

HAYES (voice over):  Tonight, the latest issues with the Barr summary. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

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

not come into this with clean hands. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

HAYES (voice over):  And renewed urgency to release the Mueller report. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE`S JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: 

Yes, I want the report to come out publicly. 

 

 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

HAYES (voice over):  Then, the national security nightmare of Mar-a-Lago. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

TRUMP:  Many of the world`s great leaders request to come to Mar-a-Lago in

Palm Beach.  They like it.  I like it. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

HAYES (voice over):  New evidence spies may be trying to infiltrate the

Winter White House. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

TRUMP (video clip):  No, I think it`s just a fluke. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

HAYES (voice over):  Plus, a Congressional rebuke to the gun lobby. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER:  The NRA is becoming a toothless tiger. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

HAYES (voice over):  And meet the President`s latest picks. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER:  Trump is a big guy, too.  I mean, he looks like

a football player. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

HAYES (voice over):  For the Federal Reserve. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER:  Do you back-y, back-y; stand, stand? 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

HAYES (voice over):  When ALL IN starts right now. 

 

HAYES (on camera):  Good evening from New York.  I`m Chris Hayes.  After

two years of total silence from Special Counsel, Robert Mueller`s

investigators.  The dam has now broken open.  It`s been about 24 hours

since “The New York Times” broke the story that members of Mueller`s team

believe that Attorney General, William Barr, downplayed some of the

findings in their report.  And in that time, the main thrust of “The New

York Times” reporting has been matched in quick succession by other

outlets, including NBC News. 

 

Some of the details differ, and there are conflicting accounts of what went

on behind the scenes leading up to the speedy release of the Attorney

General`s now-infamous four-page synopsis.  One thing is clear: The simple

fact that all of these stories and all of these outlets are coming out

right now at the same time after two years without a single anonymous peep

from inside the Special Counsel`s Office shows that people involved in the

investigation are deeply frustrated with Barr`s characterization of their

work, and they want the public to know about it. 

 

We now know that Special Counsel`s team prepared summaries for each section

of the more-than-300-page report though it is not clear whether those

summaries were ready to be released straight to the public.  According to

“The Washington Post,” quoting an unnamed U.S. official, “The report was

prepared `so that the front matter from each section could have been

released immediately or very quickly.`  It was done in a way that minimum

redactions, if any, would have been necessary, and the work would have

spoken for itself.” 

 

Now, other sources dispute that account, claiming the summaries contained

sensitive information that required redaction by the Justice Department. 

According to a department spokesperson, every page of the report was

flagged for material potentially protected by grand jury secrecy. 

 

In a new letter to the Attorney General, House Judiciary Chairman, Jerry

Nadler, is demanding that Mueller`s summaries, which we now know about,

thanks for this reporting, be made public and that Barr turn over all his

communications with the Special Counsel`s Office about the final report. 

 

“The Post” and NBC News both report that some investigators are unhappy

about Barr`s specific handling of the question of obstruction of justice

after Mueller himself declined to reach a conclusion about the President`s

conduct.  Well, Barr found the evidence insufficient to prove that the

President obstructed justice.  “It was much more acute than Barr

suggested,” one source told “The Post.” 

 

According to the U.S. officials who spoke to NBC News, at least one faction

with the Special Counsel`s Office says their intent was to leave the legal

question of obstruction open for Congress and the public to examine the

evidence. 

 

And then there`s the question of whether the Trump campaign colluded with

Russia, which Mueller found insufficient evidence to prove or establish a

criminal conspiracy according to Barr`s synopsis.  A senior law enforcement

official told NBC News that while that part is accurate, some team members

say Mueller`s findings paint a picture of a campaign whose members were

manipulated by a sophisticated Russian intelligence operation. 

 

Of course, there`s only one way to resolve all these discrepancies: to get

to the truth of what actually happened, and that is to release the report

as soon as possible, as much as possible without jeopardizing ongoing

cases, national security, or grand jury secrecy. 

 

Tonight, protesters all over the country are demanding just that, hitting

the streets to call the Attorney General to disclose all of Mueller`s

findings. While much of the public wants that to happen, the same cannot be

said for the President`s allies in Congress. 

 

Today, for the fifth time, Senate Republicans blocked a call for unanimous

consent, calling for the report to be released. 

 

To help understand what all this means, I`m joined by two people with lots

of experience running Federal investigations, Joyce Vance, former U.S.

attorney for the Eastern District of Alabama, and Chuck Rosenberg, former

U.S. attorney, former senior FBI official who worked for Robert Mueller. 

Both are MSNBC contributors. 

 

Joyce is someone who ran a U.S. attorney`s office and who`s been on

prosecuting and investigating teams.  What is going on in the last 24

hours? 

 

JOYCE VANCE, CONTRIBUTOR, MSNBC:  I think we`ll have to read the Mueller

report to get the ultimate answer to that.  Look, it`s not unusual, Chris,

for teams to disagree about what the evidence says and whether or not there

should be indictments and, if so, what for.  What`s irregular here is that

we have a decision-maker, Robert Mueller, who was entrusted with resolving

those conflicts and making a decision. 

 

He chose not to make a decision about obstruction.  Whether that`s because

he believed he shouldn`t make one in a situation where a sitting President

couldn`t be indicted, which seems very likely or whether there`s a

different answer, the only way to restore public confidence is for all of

this to come out now. 

 

HAYES:  You know, it was always clear, Chuck, that there was, in the full

report, more derogatory information about the President than there was in

the synopsis offered by Barr, and we know that because Barr chose to

include the quote from Robert Mueller saying, expressly, this is not an

exoneration.  What do you make of the reporting around that question on

obstruction? 

 

CHUCK ROSENBERG, CONTRIBUTOR, MSNBC:  Yes, you`re right, Chris.  It`s not

at all surprising that there would be more in the report.  I mean, it`s 300

or 400 pages, right?  And you don`t take 400 pages to say, “Nothing

happened.  Move on,” so that`s interesting to me.  What Joyce said is

really important.  Prosecutors disagree with one another.  Prosecutors

disagree with agents.  Agents disagree with prosecutors. 

 

HAYES:  Yes, all the time. 

 

ROSENBERG:  All the time, and that`s because this is art, not science.  And

two well-intentioned people could look at the same set of facts and come up

with a different answer.  That happens all the time so I`m not surprised

that there`s more.  What I think will be interesting will be the armchair

quarterbacking after we see what that is because, inevitably, whether Bill

Barr is right or wrong, he will be second-guessed. 

 

And he will be second-guessed vociferously, particularly given the fact

that so much of the obstruction stuff is public facing stuff.  We`ve

already seen it. 

 

HAYES:  Right. 

 

ROSENBERG:  Right.  Recusals or calls for recusals and non-recusals, and

pardons, and firings, all of which seem to me to be obstructive behavior. 

Whether or not it constitutes a crime remains to be seen. 

 

HAYES:  NBC News is reporting that three government officials said that a

dispute within the Special Counsel`s Office on the facts and the law was

one factor behind Mueller`s decision not to make a question on obstruction

to the point you and Joyce just made.  Then, there`s this question, Joyce,

of the summaries, which is really interesting to me.  And, in some ways, we

have a kind of factual dispute in the reporting, which is worthy, sort of

ready to go and ship out publicly or did they need to be redacted? 

 

I want to read to you what Jerry Nadler has written to the Department of

Justice about those summaries and grand jury material. 

 

He says, “It is notable that the Department`s press statement this morning

does not deny the existence of these summaries.  The Department merely

indicated that every page of the confidential report was marked `May

Contain Material Protected` under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure,

Section 6(e).  If these summaries were, in fact, produced for public

consumption by experienced prosecutors, then a precautionary marking should

not be an impediment to public production in a very short period of time.” 

 

Nadler is sort of zeroing on in on the lawyerly pushback from the

Department of Justice, basically saying, “Well, there was something stamped

on every page.” 

 

VANCE:  Yes, that`s not particularly unusual.  I`m focused on this `in a

very short time` language because what that seems to mean is that

prosecutors, out of an abundance of caution, should go to a Federal

District Court Judge, should get an order permitting them to release grand

jury and then should make this available to Congress and perhaps even to

the public, depending on what`s contained in it, but this seems to me to be

an excused put forth by DOJ where one really doesn`t exist. 

 

If they had said there`s national security information or other types of

information they need to screen, that would have been one thing, but the

pushback from DOJ was grand jury material, and that`s easy to take care of. 

 

HAYES:  Right.  You know, there`s also the counterintelligence part of

this.  NBC News is sort of the only ones with the reporting on that part of

it, and I`ve always thought, look, the whole point of this was we know that

there was a criminal sabotaging enterprise undertaken by an adversarial

foreign intelligence apparatus to tip the election in one direction. 

That`s pretty well-established at this point. 

 

ROSENBERG:  Unanimity among the intelligence. 

 

HAYES:  Right, and we`ve seen indictments to that effect that show some of

the facts backing that up at least asserted by prosecutors.  You know,

there`s always been this question of – look, let`s say they were clean as

daisies.  They were innocent of anything.  They didn`t realize what they

were doing.  What exactly was going on with all the contacts?  That, in and

of itself, is something the President doesn`t like to talk about and his

defenders don`t like to talk about but apparently is contained within the

report. 

 

ROSENBERG:  Right, and not every – to your point, Chris, not every

counterintelligence investigation yields a criminal indictment, criminal

charges.  Many, if not most, counterintelligence investigations are

designed so we understand what our adversaries are trying to do to us. 

 

Russia is an adversary – make no mistake – and we saw what they were

trying to do to us so even if Mueller is done – and he appears to be quite

done – I imagine the Counterintelligence piece will be carried on by the

FBI for years. 

 

HAYES:  What do you mean by that? 

 

ROSENBERG:  What I mean is that Russia hasn`t gone away.  Russia hasn`t

closed up shop.  Russia`s work is not done. 

 

HAYES:  Right.  I see what you`re saying. 

 

ROSENBERG:  And so whether it`s an interference in the 2016 Election, or

the 2020 Election, or economic espionage, or it attempts to eavesdrop on

our public officials, the Counterintelligence work of the FBI will continue

because Russia is an adversary. 

 

HAYES:  Joyce Vance and Chuck Rosenberg, it was great to have both of you

for your perspectives.  I appreciate it. 

 

I`m joined now by a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who`s been a

vocal critic of the Attorney General, Democratic Senator, Mazie Hirono of

Hawaii.  Senator, your reaction now to 24 hours` worth of reporting across

multiple outlets that there is some unease on the part of Mueller`s team

about the characterization of the report from Barr? 

 

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII:  I think these concerns that are being

expressed that the Barr four-page letter did not accurately characterize

the 400-page report makes it even more important and more critical that

that report is made public. 

 

HAYES:  Are there conversations – we know what`s happening on the House,

which is under Democratic control and Jerry Nadler running a letter,

pursuing it.  Lindsey Graham has taken a fairly laissez-faire approach to

this entire thing.  Are there conversations on the Senate judiciary side

about how to deal with all of this? 

 

HIRONO:  Well, of course, the Democrats of that committee as well as other

Democrats are very much focused on the need for the Mueller report and the

underlying materials to be made public.  So we have a President who started

off by saying, “Sure, let`s make it all public,” you have the House that

voted unanimously to make it all public and, suddenly, there`s all this,

“Oh, well, the four-page letter is good enough.”  What are they trying to

hide? 

 

If I were the President and I thought that I was solely exonerated, I would

want everything to be laid out for the public, and that`s what he said. 

And now, they`re backing off that so they`re hiding the ball.  What`s going

on?  That`s why the report has to be made public. 

 

HAYES:  You voted against Barr to be Attorney General.  Obviously, he

passed nonetheless.  How do you feel about that vote in the light of his

actions in the past week and a half? 

 

HIRONO:  Well, we all know that he auditioned for the Attorney General`s

position with a 19-page unsolicited memo about how the President cannot be

accused of obstruction of justice, and when the Mueller investigation did

not draw a conclusion on that very issue, lo and behold, Barr steps in and

says, “There is no obstruction of justice.” 

 

Well, we all know what we saw and heard.  We heard the President fire.  We

saw him firing Comey, wanting to fire Mueller, continuously calling this a

witch hunt, which he still calls.  And, in fact, I think it`s astounding

that the President is now calling for an investigation into how this

investigation began. 

 

Well, it began because the Russians tried to interfere with our elections,

and don`t you think it`s the least we can expect from our President that he

did not collude or conspire with a foreign country out to interfere with

our elections?  That`s the least we can expect, but, my goodness, what does

he have to hide?  Why doesn`t he just go with what he originally said,

which is, “Let it all come out.” 

 

HAYES:  Is there anything that William Barr can do now to demonstrate to

you that he does have integrity and that he is acting properly? 

 

HIRONO:  By releasing the report.  And when you start hearing from the very

people who worked for two years on this investigation, expressing the kind

of concerns that his four-pager did not accurately reflect this

investigation, I think that`s cause for concern.  And the way that he can

remedy that is to make the report available and open. 

 

HAYES:  Do you imagine a universe in which – I mean, I think the House is

obviously going to issue subpoenas for it.  There`s going to be back and

forth now to Jerry Nadler, asking for those summaries that we know have

been prepared.  Do you envision a universe in which the Senate Judiciary

Committee hears witnesses, hears from people about this, talk to Barr about

all this? 

 

HIRONO:  Well, Barr has offered to testify before the Senate Judiciary

Committee in May so that`s good.  We`ll be able to question him although,

well, I hope that we`ll have time to review their, I hope, as un-redacted a

version of the Mueller report as possible, but it`s not as though Lindsey

Graham, the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, is jumping up and down,

wanting to go down the path of full disclosure so I`m very disappointed in

that. 

 

But the American people can, thank goodness, that the House, at least in

terms of a number of the Chairs, are investigating various aspects of the

Trump organization so, thank goodness, they think that`s good for our

country that we have some level of checks and balances at least on the

House`s side in particular. 

 

HAYES:  Final question: Do you view these three stories or four stories

coming out about the unease of the Mueller folks as effectively a warning,

as effectively them saying that there will be further disclosures unless,

in fact, the report comes out? 

 

HIRONO:  I think that that kind of question will always hang in the air

unless the report is made public.  And I think for the good of the public

interest, that report needs to be totally transparent.  Otherwise, these

kinds of questions will always linger.  And for the President to run around

saying that he`s been totally exonerated, we already know that that is not

true.  When you think about a foreign country interfering with our

elections – and they`re still doing it, by the way – I think that we need

to know what`s in that report so that we can draw our own conclusions. 

 

HAYES:  Right.  Senator Mazie Hirono, thank you for your time. 

 

HIRONO:  Thank you. 

 

HAYES:  Next, the Barr-shaped cloud hanging over the Department of Justice

and why one former DOJ official is saying tonight that the Attorney General

is now in open warfare with the Special Counsel`s Office.  That`s in two

minutes. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

 

HAYES:  Attorney General William Barr came into the job with a fairly

decent reputation in Washington from his first time around as AG that,

despite the fact that during that time when he was AG, he recommended

pardons for six Reagan Administration officials involved in the Iran-Contra

scandal in 1992, later saying, interestingly enough, that he thought they

had been “unjustly treated” by a special counsel who charged them with

offenses including lying to Congress. 

 

Okay.  It`s now been nearly two weeks since Special Counsel Mueller

completed his 300-plus-page report, and all we have to show for it, of

course, is Barr`s four-page summary characterizing it.  It increasingly

looks like Barr is either whitewashing here or, worst-case scenario,

engaged in covering something up.  As former Justice Department

spokesperson, Matt Miller, wrote in an op-ed today in Politico, “The

Attorney General`s actions raise suspicions about whether he`s acting

primarily to benefit the President because they don`t make sense when

viewed through any other lens.” 

 

Matt Miller joins me now along with former assistant special Watergate

prosecutor, Jill Wine-Banks.  Matt, what`s your case here about how Barr`s

behavior is impacting the integrity of the Department as a whole? 

 

MATT MILLER, JUSTICE & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, MSNBC:  Well, if you look

at the Attorney General`s actions over the last couple of weeks, every time

he`s had a decision to make about how he would handle the conclusion of

this investigation, he`s chosen an option that would benefit the President. 

 

And instead of taking other options like – say, for example – releasing

the summaries that we now know that Mueller`s team had wrote or, say, not

releasing anything until they`d had a chance to go through and make full

redactions, or, say, going to the grand jury or going to the district judge

and asking for grand jury material to be released, things that would be in

the typical practices of the Department in investigations like this, he has

instead inserted himself and chosen the path that would not only favor the

President but would do it at the risk of bringing controversy upon himself,

which is something attorneys general don`t usually try to do. 

 

You aren`t usually trying to choose controversy, and if you put yourself in

his shoes and ask, “Why are you choosing the path of most resistance?” when

it goes against what would usually be the best practices of previous

presidents or the Department and you say the only reason he`s doing this is

because it`s an option that benefits the President, it means it puts a

taint on his actions and, I think, puts a cloud over him and over the

Department at a time where the Department really has been suffering under

politicization and accusations of politicization that they can`t afford for

going on three years now. 

 

HAYES:  Do you agree, Jill? 

 

JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR:  I

completely agree with everything Matt said.  I would go even a little

further because nothing that has happened makes me trust Barr.  He wrote a

memo to audition for the job in which he made an argument that made no

legal or factual sense.  He basically made up facts that he didn`t know to

support an argument that didn`t seem to be legally supportable. 

 

He also, in his four-page letter, refers to the fact that there needed to

be an underlying crime in order to have any obstruction, and we know from

the Watergate case that that is simply not true.  There`s no evidence that

Richard Nixon knew about the break-in until after it happened, but he

certainly immediately got into the obstruction and was impeached for that. 

 

HAYES:  Right. 

 

WINE-BANKS:  He would have been indicted and was named an unindicted co-

conspirator for his role in that, and there is no doubt in my mind that

that was completely legal so it just doesn`t make sense and it also doesn`t

make sense to me from the moment I read his summary that that could be

true.  I cannot believe that Mueller would have given to him the power to

make a decision where Mueller knew what the decision would be based on his

original memo so it just doesn`t make sense. 

 

And it`s really fish that we`ve allowed this to happen and that he`s gotten

away with it.  He`s definitely helping the President because it`s hard to

overcome a first impression, and the first impression was him saying that

he was exonerated for one and, while he wasn`t exonerated, he wasn`t

convicted or indicted for the other either.  And that`s the impression that

people have, and it may not be true.  We need to see the full report. 

 

HAYES:  Right.  Matt, there`s another theory here, right?  One is that he`s

acting in bad faith, fundamentally; he`s acting as an agent of the

President as opposed to an independent arbiter.  But, you know, one thing

that you talked about during Jeff Sessions` tenure that always stuck with

me is the President`s haranguing, and belittling, and sort of public

bullying of his own AG was ineffective in the short run in the sense that

he didn`t un-recuse himself. 

 

But it did create a set of incentives in a context in which the next AG

operates, which is that Barr knows if he crosses the President, he will be

subject to harangues, and to bullying, and to insults, and to Trump being

mad at him.  And you do wonder how much that affects him even if he tells

himself he`s acting in good faith. 

 

MILLER:  That is exactly right, and that is the worry you have to have

about any senior appointee at the Justice Department under this President. 

 

HAYES:  Right.  Exactly. 

 

MILLER:  But Barr made the exact opposite case about himself in his

confirmation hearing.  He said that, “Look, I`ve been an Attorney General

already.  I don`t need this job.  I`m at the end of my career.  I`m at a

place where I don`t need to be bullied by anybody.  I can be independent,”

and I think that`s the case he made to convince senators that he wouldn`t

be pushed around by the President, but then when you look at his actions,

they don`t make sense through any other lens. 

 

And the point that Jill made, I think, is a key one.  When you look at his

actions, the reason he got picked for the job – most attorneys general, if

they came into office with that kind of already question of whether they

could be impartial hanging over their heads, would bend over backwards to

go the other direction.  And when you have a special counsel like Bob

Mueller who is one of the most respected prosecutors of his generation,

known for his integrity, the smartest, easiest, least-controversial thing

would have been to just defer to him. 

 

Barr hasn`t only deferred to him; he`s inserted himself into the process to

make his own conclusions and we now know has kind of released the report in

a way that at least some of Mueller`s prosecutors find misleading. 

 

HAYES:  What do you think, Jill?  One more question on this, which is one

of the things that appear in “The Times” – and it seemed clear if you`ve

sort of read through the lines of the Department of Justice officials

talking to “The Times” yesterday, sort of giving their version of events

although not with their name on it or on the record – that he didn`t want

to release derogatory information and repeat the kind of sin of James Comey

with his big announcement Hillary Clinton in which he passed judgment on

her behavior.  Does that scan to you? 

 

WINE-BANKS:  Well, I think it does in a way you don`t want to make the same

mistake twice. 

 

HAYES:  Yes. 

 

WINE-BANKS:  But we`ve learned from the episode with Comey that it only

took a very short few days to go through everything and to determine that

there was really nothing there so instead of Comey announcing that there

was a reopening of the investigation, he should have done that first and

never opened his mouth.  And that`s what should have happened here. 

 

HAYES:  Right.  That`s a good point. 

 

WINE-BANKS:  Barr has the resources at his fingertips.  He could have done

any redaction that was necessary.  And I want to point out – and Matt

mentioned this – going to the judge and asking that the release of the

grand jury testimony be done in the public interest is an easy thing to do,

and if he was serious, that`s what he would have done.  That`s what

should`ve happened.  Americans have a right to know.  Certainly, Congress

has a need to know.  They must get this. 

 

And the only thing that throws me off a little is that I don`t think that

Barr is stupid.  I think he may be politically motivated, but it would be

stupid to say something in that four-page document that is 180 degrees from

what Mueller intended, and that throws me off a little bit. 

 

HAYES:  Yes, and I don`t anticipate, for that reason, that we will see

something 180 degrees.  It`s a question of the shades of the degrees in

between.  Matt Miller and Jill Wine-Banks, thanks for joining us. 

 

HAYES (voice over):  Ahead, how a woman carrying a malware-infected thumb

drive managed to get onto Donald Trump`s Mar-a-Lago property.  And just how

big are the security breaches of the President`s Florida estate?  Next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  Part of what makes Donald Trump`s continued ownership and

maintenance at Mar-a-Lago so obviously corrupt is that anyone can pay a

quarter million dollars to become a member and then go saddle up to the

president at the omelet bar and put a bug in his ear about, say, some

regulation that`s hurting their business.

 

Then, of course, there`s also the national security problem at the club,

where Trump regularly conducts open air diplomacy.  For example, back in

2017,  Trump ordered missile strikes on Syria from Mar-a-Lago, which

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross later classily described as the, quote,

after dinner entertainment.

 

The club is quite obviously a massive target for foreign intelligence

operations, and anyone who wants relatively cheap access to the most

powerful man in the world.

 

Cindy Yang, the former of the spa named in a prostitution operation in

February has been accused of selling access to Trump to Chinese executives

via events at the club.  She denies the allegations.

 

And then this weekend, a Chinese citizen tried to enter Mar-a-Lago carrying

a thumb drive containing malicious software.  She now faces federal

charges.

 

It appears this maybe, may be part of a broader trend.  The Miami Herald

reports that, quote, since Trump became president, longtime Mar-a-Lago

members have noted the increased presence of foreigners at charity events

and galas, in particular large contingents of Chinese people who spoke

little English.

 

It`s a circus, one longtime employee told The Miami Herald on the condition

of anonymity for

fear of repercussions at work.

 

The employ said Chinese guests would bring gifts of cheap electronics and

constantly ask staff to help them get face time with Trump or his family.

 

And joining me now, one of the reporters who brought us that news, Caitlin

Ostroff of The Miami Herald.

 

Caitlin, what have you learned about how things have changed at Mar-a-Lago

since Trump became president?

 

CAITLIN OSTROFF, MIAMI HERALD:  I mean, we know from speaking with

employees and people who work there and who have worked there that, you

know, Mar-a-Largo is essentially very hard to secure logistically, that,

you know, Secret Service said that they don`t screen the people, they don`t

decide who gets to come into Mar-a-Lago, because it is a private club, and

so people can bring guests, people can purchase tickets, and so getting

into Mar-a-Lago is still relatively easier than most events that the

president would ordinarily be at.  And it does kind of pose a security

challenge for the intelligence services to kind of make sure that that area

is completely secure.

 

And so, you know, there has been this influx of Chinese nationals that

staff have said they`ve noticed at the club, and that`s raised concerns

among experts of who is getting access.

 

HAYES:  Just to go back to a point you made there, so it`s the president`s

club, and Secret Service put out a statement the other day after this woman

was apprehended, right, as she was attempting to talk herself in,

essentially, that they don`t control who goes in and out of Mar-a-Lago

because it is a club.  They just make sure that I guess there`s probably

mags and stuff like that, but anyone who is invited can go there and get

next to the president, more or less?

 

OSTROFF:  Right.  I mean, there`s – the club has its own security that

checks people into the

entryways of the club, but that`s really up to the club`s discretion.

 

HAYES:  How often – I mean one thing it seems to be the case is that when

the president is down there he`s not sort of sequestered, he kind of gets a

kick out of mingling with people down in Mar-a-Lago.  So, it is not outside

the realm  of possibility that if you`re there for an event or you`re a

club member you can get a little face time with the president, which is an

unbelievably valuable commodity.

 

OSTROFF:  Right, and that was being marketed by Cindy Yang and others on

Chinese social media of, you know, we can get you access to the president

and the people within his family and his orbit and, you know, Mar-a-Lago

was one of the main ways in which they pitched that was, you know, this is

a place where you can get access to the president.

 

HAYES:  What do we know about the woman who was apprehended and now facing

charges that was arrested the other day?

 

OSTROFF:  So, we know from audio of her first court appearance that she

said she was an investor and a consultant with a Chinese asset management

company.

 

But aside from that, we still really don`t know that much about her.  She

is still something of a mystery to federal investigators as far as we know. 

As to how she got there exactly she said that she saw the – that she heard

about the event through a message from one of the bundlers of Cindy Yang`s 

events, Charles Lee, she said that, yeah, she was there go swimming and

then said she was there for a United Nations friendship event.  And so we

really don`t know that much about this woman just yet.

 

HAYES:  All right, Caitlin Ostroff, thank you so much for being with me

tonight.

 

OSTROFF:  Thanks.

 

HAYES:  Coming up,  Herman Cain, Steven Moore, and how Donald Trump`s

remaking of the

Federal Reserve in his image is actually a reelection plan.

 

Plus, why the vice president is demanding we return to the moon, quote, by

any means necessary, that`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starting next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  Thing One tonight, we are coming up on the 50th anniversary this

summer of the U.S. sending men to walk on the moon, and Vice President Mike

Pence is already making big plans.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Now has come the time for

us

to make the next giant leap and return American astronauts to the moon.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  Wait.  Another giant leap?  No, no, no.  The last thing, that was

the giant leap when we went to the moon the first time.  We already leaped. 

Remember?

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

NEIL ARMSTRONG, NASA ASTRONAUT:  That`s one small step for man, one giant

leap for mankind.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  Now that was almost a half century ago, but for some reason Mike

Pence seems to want to go back to that time.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PENCE:  The president has directed NASA and Administrator Jim Bridenstine

to accomplish this goal by any means necessary.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  That`s a weird phrase to use there.  And that`s Thing Two in 60

seconds.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  So Mike Pence has been among the voices on the right beating up on

the idea of a Green New Deal, a moonshot to do something about climate

change before it`s too late.  At the same time, he is pushing a different

moonshot to go to the actual moon, which of course we already did, that`s

why it`s called the moonshot.

 

But going to the moon was hard and expensive when we can did it a half

century ago, and it`s proving hard and expensive now.  NASA is struggling

with its moon rocket, and the NASA administrator said this week that

they`re going to need additional means.

 

And while there are practical reasons for space exploration to go back to

the moon, we`re not so sure why it`s such a national emergency all of a

sudden that we have to go now by any means necessary.

 

Maybe Mike Pence just wants to go back and live like it`s 50 years ago.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PENCE:  It is the stated policy of this administration and the United

States of America to return American astronauts to the moon within the next

five years.

 

(APPLAUSE)

 

PENCE:  Some will say it`s too hard, it`s too risky, it`s too expensive. 

History is written by those who dare to dream big and do the impossible.

 

(APPLAUSE)

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  A big bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives today

voted to reauthorize the lapsed Violence Against Women Act.  Big deal.

 

Most notably, the bill included a new provision that expands restrictions

on gun purchases and ownership for people convicted of domestic abuse and

stalking.

 

Unlike a lot of votes in the House, it was not party line.  33 Republicans,

which is a lot these days, voting with every Democrats, except for Colin

Peterson of Minnesota, to pass it, though the opposition the GOP side was

energetic and rather hyperbolic.  Mo Brooks going so far as to call the

bill an assault on, quote, biology. 

 

But mostly Republicans were just standing for square with the NRA, which,

not surprisingly lobbied desperately behind the scenes against the bill

because it would apply some fairly common sense restrictions to gun

ownership.

 

Now, we already know that abused women are five times more likely to be

killed if their abusers owns a gun.  A recent analysis found that a

majority of mass shootings from 2009 to 2017 were related to domestic or

family violence.

 

And keep in mind – I think this is important – unlike the proposals to

ban those on, say, the no fly list from access to  firearms, the due

process complaints here are essentially moot, since the people in question

are all people with convictions or pleas.

 

Now, that said, it is a big loss for an NRA that is, slowly but surely,

losing its aura of invincibility on big political battles, although luckily

for the gun lobby there`s a Republican majority just waiting in the Senate

that will be much, much more friendly to the idea that violent and abusive

romantic partners should be able to continue to get their hands on guns.

 

But, if today`s vote shows anything, it is that the forces for gun sense

are stronger than they have been in years.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  There is one man who most threatens Donald Trump`s re-election

chances, and it`s not

Robert Mueller or any Democratic candidate, it is Jerome Powell, the chair

of the Federal Reserve, that`s a man that Trump nominated for that

position, because he literally thought the last Fed chair, who by the way

was the first woman to ever have the job, was too short, like physically

too short, literally, that`s why he fired her.

 

But ever since Powell took office, Trump has repeatedly berated and

harangued him for raising interest rates.  Axios reports Trump regards

Powell as one of the greatest mistakes of his administration, and that`s

saying something. 

 

The Feds decision to try to put the breaks on the economy in an election

year particularly probably has more to do with whether Trump is re-elected

than almost any single factor, so clearly worried about that, the president

has decided to try to stuff the board with preposterous cronies.

 

First, Stephen Moore who is not an economist, has been wrong about almost

all of his predictions, has $75,000 in unpaid taxes, was found in contempt

of court of shorting his ex-wife more than $300,000 of alimony, child

support and the balance of their divorce settlement, and also has said

he`s going to have to learn about the Fed on the job.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

STEPHEN MOORE, FEDERAL RESERVE NOMINEE:  I`m kind of new to this game,

frankly, so I`m going to be on a steep learning curve myself about how the

Fed operates, how the Federal Reserve makes its decisions, and this is real

exciting opportunity for me.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  Well, it`ll be exciting to learn, won`t it, while you`re doing the

job?

 

Now today, Trump said he has made another recommendation for the Fed board,

former CEO of Godfather`s Pizza, and Republican presidential candidate,

Herman Cain.  Maybe you remember him.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So do you agree with President Obama on Libya or not?

 

HERMAN CAIN, FORMER CEO GODFATHER`S PIZZA:  OK, Libya.  I`m ready for the

gotcha questions.  And they`re already starting to come.  And when they

asked me who`s the president  of Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan – I`m going to

say, you know, I don`t know, do you know?

 

President Obama supported the uprising, correct?

 

Aw, shucky ducky, as the man would say.

 

But I believe these words came from the Pokemon movie.  The media pointed

that out.  I`m not sure who the original author is, so don`t go write an

article about the poem. 

 

I do not agree with the way he handles it for the following reasons.

 

No, that`s a different one.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  Oh, dammit, I hate when that happens.

 

Now both of Trump`s Fed board picks are drawing scrutiny and criticism from

Republicans and Democrats alike.  And Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and

Sherrod Brown sent a letter to Stephen Moore requesting more information on

his outstanding debts.  Senator Ron Wyden, the ranking member of the Senate

Finance Committee, joins me now.

 

Senator, what are your concerns about Mr. Moore?

 

SEN. RON WYDEN, (D) OREGON:  Well, first of all, Chris, the Fed is

responsible for bringing us stability and competence with respect to our

economy.  And you name some unqualified  individual who in effect brings in

a bunch of economic quackery, and you can really put our economy at risk.

 

Now, with respect to Mr. Moore, you have somebody like George W. Bush`s top

economics man saying he was for a bunch of snake oil economics; for Mr.

Cain, nobody can forget his 9-9-9 economic

proposal which was just laughed out of any kind of debate at all.  And

certainly what Senator Brown and I are going to do is make sure, for

example, if somebody like Mr. Moore isn`t paying his taxes, he`s got other

problems with respect to child support, we want the record to be clear on

that point.

 

HAYES:  You mentioned George W. Bush`s economic adviser, that`s Greg

Mankiw, he`s a Harvard professor, who said of Stephen Moore he does not

have the intellectual gravitas for this important job. 

 

Do you think that fundamentally the president is trying to sort of build a

board around Powell that can push him, that he knows are essentially loyal

soldiers for him on rate decisions and the like, so they can sort of bully

Powell a bit?

 

WYDEN:  It sure looks like it.  And I think the president just resents

Powell`s independence.  I voted for Powell.  By the way, Powell had a

history of working with Janet Yellen.  But let`s stick again to the facts.

 

Stephen Moore, for example, was one of the architects of the horrendous

Trump tax cut, that`s one that the Trump people said would pay for itself,

and there were billions and billions of dollars off on that.

 

So this is really a crucial time to recognize that the Fed is independent. 

We want capable, competent people.  And we certainly don`t want people who

are just going to carry water politically as we move into an election

cycle.

 

HAYES:  You know, there seems to me to be a similarity between the

Department of Justice and the Fed, both are part of the federal government. 

DOJ is actually within the executive, the Fed is  independent.  But there`s

traditions of independence and arms length from the president for important

reasons in both cases.  And the president hated Jeff Sessions, because he

felt he was not obedient enough, and now he hates Jerome Powell for exactly

the same reasons.

 

Are you worried fundamentally about the Feds independence?  The president

will be able to

successfully harangue, to bully, to get his cronies on the board to steer

the economy in a way that`s most favorable to him for reelection chances?

 

WYDEN:  Well, let`s put it this way.  I think that Mr. Powell is showing a

lot more political independence, which is key for the Fed, than Bill Barr

is showing at the Justice Department.

 

HAYES:  Interesting.

 

WYDEN:  But we`re at a crucial time.  As we know in the trade area, my part

of the world, what we like to do is innovate.  We like to make things.  We

like to grow things.  We`re looking at trying to tap Asian markets. 

Essentially China has stepped in and really exploited the fact that the

Trump people are AWOL there.  We can`t walk away from these growth areas

for our economy where we can get value-added jobs that, for example, that

are export driven and the Trump people don`t seem to get that.

 

HAYES:  Another qualification question, this one on Herman Cain, you just

talked about Moore – you know, there`s a sort of national conversation

right now, obviously in the era of #metoo about sexual harassments,

groping, unwanted sexual advances.  In 2011, Cain admitted to a settlement

was made over sexual harassment claims.  I believe there have been four on

the record, if I`m not mistaken.  Is that disqualifying in this era or any

era?

 

WYDEN:  It certainly is a serious issues.  In other words, we just heard

about the Cain appointment tonight, so it`s something that in my view is

very, very serious and has to be thoroughly vetted.

 

HAYES:  I want to switch gears for a moment just because I have you here

and you`re a member of the United States Senate and you have talked about

and voted on the issue of war powers in

Yemen.  Historic today in the White House – I`m sorry, in the House of

Representatives was passed a

war powers resolution to end U.S. involvement and aid for the Saudi war in

Yemen.  It passed out of the Senate already.  You voted for that, if I am

not mistaken.  It now, for the first time, a war powers resolution will go

to the president`s desk.  How significant is this?  What happens next?

 

WYDEN:  This is enormous.  This is making a statement that the congress is

not just going to duck and sit on its hands with respect to our

constitutional responsibilities as it relates to conflict and

war.  And for too long the congress has done it.

 

The Saudis, of course, have singularly walked all over so many of our

interests.  For example, in the state of Oregon we`re particularly troubled

about some Saudi nationals who came in, they engaged in some really

reprehensible behavior, seemed to have been involved in manslaughter, and

we have real questions about whether the Saudi government was involved in

actually whisking them out of  the country before trials.

 

So we are pushing back.  We are sticking up for American interests.  That`s

what the president said he was all about.  Now the congress is actually

doing it when the president isn`t.

 

HAYES:  All right, Senator Ron Wyden, always a pleasure, thank you, sir.

 

WYDEN:  Thank you.

 

HAYES:  For you at home, don`t forget to check out our podcast Why is This

Happening?  We`ve had a lot of great guests recently, including this week`s

interview with film maker Astra Taylor, who has a captivating documentary

out now called simply What is Democracy?  Which, as she shows, is a much

harder question to answer than you might think.

 

You can find that and all of our other episodes wherever you get your

podcasts.

 

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