Rob Reiner recruits celebrities to share Mueller report. TRANSCRIPT: 6/20/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests:
Mazie Hirono, Mehdi Hasan, Rob Reiner, Ta-Nehisi Coates
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.

 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  Here`s what Iran needs to get ready for,

severe pain.

 

HAYES:  The usual suspects bang the drums of war as the President says the

Iranian downing of an American drone was an error.

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I have a feeling that it was

a mistake.

 

HAYES:  Tonight, the potentially catastrophic implications of war with Iran

that no one is talking about.  Then –

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There are some other specific examples from the Mueller

report.

 

HAYES:  Filmmaker Rob Reiner on his high-profile push to get Americans to

read the Mueller report.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That`s collusion.

 

HAYES:  Plus, the Justice Department`s push to deny beds and soap at

migrant detention camps.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you`re really going to stand up and tell us that

that being able to sleep isn`t a question of safe and sanitary conditions?

 

HAYES:  And my exclusive interview Ta-Nehisi Coates on the movement for

reparation.

 

TA-NEHISI COATES, WRITER:  The real dilemma posed by reparations is just

that, a dilemma of inheritance.  When ALL IN starts right now.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  From day one, in

fact, stretching back before day one of the campaign, forces within the

Trump administration, and the Trump campaign, and the Republican Party, and

the conservative movement have been pushing for war with Iran.

 

Now, that has at times included the President himself depending on which

side of the bed he woke up on and which cable news hosts he`s been

listening to.  And at every turn, the Trump administration has taken

concrete steps using its power and authority to heighten tensions with Iran

starting famously with pulling the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal and

reimposing sanctions even though Iran was in compliance according to Donald

Trump`s own government.

 

And now that they`ve managed to provoke Iran into what seems to be an

endless cycle of escalation, they`re on the brink of getting what they

always wanted.  And I have to say the idea that a war with Iran is now on

the table is utterly deranged.

 

We`re going to get to the latest developments in the news in just a second

but just – let`s take a step back and consider the context.  Iran is a

country of 83 million people, much larger geographically than either Iraq

or Afghanistan where the U.S. still has boots on the ground after years and

years and years of grinding war.

 

We have up to 15,000 troops in Afghanistan today, 18 years, 18 years after

U.S. forces first invaded, the longest war in the Republic`s history. 

We`ve got some 5,000 servicemembers in Iraq, another 2,000 in Syria, and

then on top of that, the Trump administration has ordered another 2,500

troops to the Middle East in just the last month.

 

All of those American servicemembers would be directly in harm`s way if we

went to war with Iran and yet war with Iran is now a possibility

apparently, the Washington is somehow taking seriously.  After Iran shot

down an American surveillance drone last night, the U.S. says the drone was

over international waters, Iran says it had ventured into Iranian airspace.

 

And after this latest incident, Senator Lindsey Graham took to every

available microphone on Capitol Hill to share the advice he gave the

president.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GRAHAM:  So I talked to the president this morning.  You need to tell the

Iranians that if they increase their enrichment program for uranium, that

would be a provocative act toward the United States and Israel and all bets

are off.

 

I think the target list should include the naval vessels that have created

the problem in the Straits of Hormuz, the Iranian naval vessels.  That`s

what Reagan did in the 80s.  And if you want to break this regimes back and

make them stop being provocative, take them out of the oil business.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

GRAHAM:  We`re a lot closer today than we were yesterday and only God knows

what tomorrow brings.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  This afternoon the White House summons national security officials,

congressional leaders in the Situation Room for a briefing where Democrats

warned the president against bumbling into war by accident.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY):  We told the room that the Democratic position

is that congressional approval must be required before funding any conflict

in Iran.  One of the best ways to avoid bumbling into war, a war that

nobody wants is to have a robust open debate and for Congress to have a

real say.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  This weekend, National Security Advisor John Bolton, a longtime

proponent of attacking Iran will travel to meetings in Israel, a country

whose Prime Minister is also a longtime proponent of attacking Iran.  And I

should note that both Bolton and Netanyahu also pushed very hard and

successfully for the war in Iraq which ended up strengthening and expanding

the influence of none other than the Iranian regime they want to go to war

with again.

 

As to the president who is theoretically, constitutionally, technically in

charge of the whole situation, he started the day with what sounded like a

threatening message tweeting Iran made a very big mistake but later

clarified that he meant it literally.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I think probably Iran made a mistake.  I would imagine it was a

general or somebody that made a mistake in shooting that drone down.  I

have a feeling that it was a mistake made by somebody that shouldn`t have

been doing what they did.  I find it hard to believe it was intentional if

you want to know the truth.  I think that it could have been somebody who

was loose and stupid that did it.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  Asked about the possibility of military conflict, the president

answered with all the gravity of a reality show star teasing the season

finale.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How you respond, Mr. President?  How will you

respond?

 

TRUMP:  You`ll find out.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you willing to go to war with Iran over this?

 

TRUMP:  You`ll find out.  You`ll find out.  Obviously, obviously, you know,

we`re not going to be talking too much about it.  You`re going to find out. 

They made a very big mistake.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  I`m joined now by Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat from Hawaii, a

member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  The president says you`ll

find out as if he alone has the inherent and unilateral authority to make

decisions about a military attack on Iran.  Do you agree with that?

 

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI):  Of course not.  And this is why you know, you

just have to scratch your head as to who`s running this show.  And with the

president, a lot of it is a lot of show.  So this is serious business.  We

have escalating tensions now with Iran.  And when you have a situation for

example where the Iranians are saying that they shot down the drone in

their airspace, we`re saying it was international airspace, this is a kind

of situation that leads to miscalculations.

 

Which is why at this point, Congress needs to be – to do what its supposed

to do which is to I tell the President you cannot go to war with Iran in an

unauthorized way.  So we have an amendment that I hope will be the subject

of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act if Mitch

McConnell will let it come to the floor and so far he hasn`t said it will,

that will prevent unauthorized military operations against Iran.

 

We need to be that specific to tell the president what`s what.  But you

know, as you say, he`s acting as though this is some sort of individual

thing that he can just run on his own.  It`s just terribly disturbing.

 

HAYES:  Is the United States Senate getting fully – do you feel like

you`re getting good information, fully briefed, being consulted with

throughout this process?

 

HIRONO:  Of course not.  So yes, we did get a briefing yesterday but it is

very disconcerting when one must question whether or not you can believe

what`s coming out of the mouth of the representatives of this

administration.  And I`m not the only one who has those kinds of thoughts,

disconcerting as they are.  But when the information came forth that

possibly the Iran had attacked some ships, even our allies in Europe and

Japan said they`d like more information.

 

When our country`s credibility is questioned in a situation as serious as

this, I think that it is ever more important for Congress to say to the

president through this amendment that I just mentioned that you are not

going to take military action against Iran without congressional approval.

 

HAYES:  This is sort of a mood question but I`ll ask it.  I mean, I feel

like I`m watching this and thinking this is insane.  This is utterly

insane.  We`re going to go to war with Iran?  We`ve got 15,000 troops in

Afghanistan, we got another several thousand in Iraq who of course would be

directly in harm`s way because of the Iraqi government`s relationship to

Iran and Iranian backed militias there.   Is – do people on Capitol Hill

feel that sense that they cannot believe what they`re watching?

 

HIRONO:  I cannot believe what I`m watching and hearing.  And one would

think that even the president who said that the Iraq war was one of the

stupidest things that could have happened, and here he sits playing –

being very flippant from what I can gather.  And so when you don`t have a

Jim Mattis there at the Department of Defense, for example, who`s running

this place, is it Bolton?

 

As you mentioned, you know, Bolton was right there during the lead-up and

the attack on Iraq.  Have we not learned a thing?  The last thing we need

is another ground war in Iran and in the Middle East because it`s already a

very unstable area and we`ll have further instability.

 

And when will you do something like this, one would hope that we would be

thinking about the unintended consequences and we obviously did not when we

went into Iraq.  So you can count on it that if there`s something untoward

that happens such as our country unilaterally without congressional

approval attacking Iran, you`re going to have some consequences that will

probably haunt us for a long, long time because we`re still in Afghanistan,

we`re still in Iraq.

 

HAYES:  All right, Senator Mazie Hirono, thank you for making some time

tonight.

 

HIRONO:  Thank you.

 

HAYES:  For more on the Trump ministrations illogical escalation I`m joined

by Mehdi Hasan Columnist for the Intercept and Presenter for Al Jazeera

English.  You know, Mehdi, I just saw someone saying that inside the

administration it`s Trump versus Bolton and a bunch of different swing

votes.

 

And I think to myself – here it is, senior White House official tells me

it`s Bolton versus Trump on how to proceed on Iran.  Trump does not want

conflict, Pompeo, Pence, Esper are swing votes, etcetera.  What a

remarkable thing to say.  That`s what struck me.  The entire thing here is

that the president seems to be essentially a kind of pundit commentator

sitting at a bar on his own administration as it moves almost inexorably

towards actual military confrontation.

 

MEHDI HASAN, COLUMNIST, THE INTERCEPT:  Yes.  And it`s – what`s so absurd

as you said in your intro, it depends what side of bed he got out on when

you know, he makes hawkish noises one moment saying watch out Iran.  Iran

will regret it.  Next minute he`s like oh it`s just a small thing.  These

tanker attacks are not a big deal.

 

And you have people on left and right trying to give Trump cover saying

well, he doesn`t want a war and I just don`t buy that.  I don`t think you

can give him a get-out-of-jail-free card on this because he`s the one who

appointed all those hawks to his cabinet.  He`s appointed John Bolton

knowing that Bolton`s lifelong mission has been to start a war with Iran. 

He appointed Mike Pompeo who said when he was a member of Congress that we

shouldn`t have a deal with Iran, we should just have 2,000 sorties, that

was Pompeo`s phrase, air strikes.

 

So he`s a point of these people.  You know he could talk about swing vote

or you know being on the fence but this is his administration.  This will

be his war if god forbid happens and what a catastrophe will be as Senator

Hirono says.  This is a guy who claimed that Iraq was a mistake and Libya

was a mistake, but Iran will make Iraq and Libya look like a walk in the

park.

 

HAYES:  As someone who has covered the region for a while, what do you –

what is your response to people like Lindsey Graham and others who are now

saying oh the Reagan recipe, we`ll just – we`ll just drop a bunch of bombs

on Iranian naval ships.  What do you think of that?

 

HASAN:  Lindsey Graham a man who`s never met a Middle-East nation he didn`t

want to bomb, invade, or occupy.  The Reagan analogy is silly because that

was in the middle of an Iran-Iraq war which America was already involved in

on the side of Iraq which led to a million deaths, not the same principle

at all today.

 

The idea that you could just drop a few bombs, Chris, is absurd.  It is

this kind of – the Hawks want to have their cake and eat it.  On the one

hand, Iran is this mad, messianic, theocratic regime that can`t be reasoned

with.  You can`t do a deal with them.  You can`t negotiate with them. 

They`re crazy they want to take over the Middle East.

 

On the other hand, we`ll drop a few bombs on their ships and they`ll go

quiet and bow down to us.  You can`t have it both ways.  And this is just -

- this is a re-tread of the Iraq war.  It`s the same people who pushed for

the Iraq war.  You mentioned John Bolton, Benjamin Netanyahu, and it`s not

just the same people it`s the same absurd arguments.

 

You have Mike Pompeo claiming that Iran is working with al Qaeda which any

expert on terrorism will laugh at that idea.  They said the same thing

about Saddam, Chris.  Remember Saddam Hussein is harboring al-Qaeda when in

fact the invasion of Iraq gave us ISIS.  So what the hell will the invasion

of Iran give us?

 

HAYES:  What`s also striking to me is that the problem that those who want

to confront Iran put their finger on and it – and this aspect of it is not

completely wrong which is that the Iranians have had a kind of expansionist

push outwards particularly in the last ten years in terms of influence is

largely borne of the fact that we bombed Iraq and invaded Iraq and that the

Iranian influence has landed enormously due to listening to people like

John Bolton the last time around.

 

HASAN:  Indeed.  John Bolton and Benjamin Netanyahu who testified in

Congress, yes, they`re the ones that complaining about the fact that Iran

controls Iraq allegedly.  Well, who allowed them to do that?  And you know,

knocking out the Taliban which was a good thing but nobody likes the

Taliban but Iran benefited from that too.  They`ve benefited from many U.S.

military interventions in that part of the world.

 

And now you have this situation where Lindsey Graham talking about you

know, retaliation.  One important point, Chris.  The way this is being

framed that the United States has to decide whether or not to retaliate to

a drone being shot down or a tanker being attacked, in fact, U.S.

intelligence says it`s Iran that`s retaliating.

 

Senator Tim Kaine had a briefing with intelligence officials yesterday and

U.S. intelligence officials told him that all of the Iranian action so far,

all of them, are a response to Trump`s “maximum pressure campaign.”  So

let`s get our framing right here.  It`s Iran that`s been subjected to

massive sanctions, Iran that`s had the nuclear deal undermined and

violated.

 

You know, I`m not defending Iranian actions but who`s brought us to this

point?  It`s the Trump administration.

 

HAYES:  Yes.  Can you imagine what the reaction would be if the Iranians

happen to hack a U.S. columnist to death in an embassy.  I mean, imagine

what people would say.  Mehdi Hasan, thank you for joining me.

 

HASAN:  Thanks, Chris.

 

HAYES:  We have a packed show tonight.  Ta-Nehisi Coates is here to talk

about his case for reparations, plus filmmaker Rob Reiner and his campaign

to get people to read the Mueller report.  And next, if you`re still

worried about what to call the places that we keep migrant families

rounding up, you might want to pay attention what`s happening inside of

them.  That new reporting in two minutes.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  Amidst the debate about what to call the government-run migrant

detention facilities comes a horrifying news story from the AP today. 

Lawyers interviewed more than 60 children and a border patrol station, some

place they should be held for a maximum seventy-two hours and what they

heard was truly awful.

 

“Three girls ages ten to 15 said they had been taking turns keeping watch

over a sick two-year-old boy because there was no one else to look after

him.  When the lawyer saw the two-year-old boy, he wasn`t wearing a diaper

and wet his pants and his shirt was smeared with mucus.

 

Children told lawyers they were fed uncooked frozen food or rice and had

gone weeks without bathing or clean change of clothes at the facility. 

Yes, you may think one facility just fell through the cracks but it`s

actually worse than that because in fact, the government, our government,

is now arguing that it doesn`t need to provide things like toothbrushes or

even soap.

 

Right now detention of migrant children is guided by a legal agreement

called the Flores Settlement and Donald Trump has been railing against that

agreement and trying to get out of it because it requires minimal standards

of care for children in U.S. custody.

 

Tuesday, a government lawyer argued before a three-judge panel over the

level of care that was required and shocked judges by suggesting what was

not needed.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you`re really going to stand up and tell us that

that being able to sleep isn`t a question of safe and sanitary conditions? 

You can`t be safe and sanitary or safe as a human being if you can`t sleep.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well –

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And you said in your brief, suggesting anything about

sleeping so, therefore, there`s nothing in here about being able to sleep.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think the concern there is, your honor, the court

finding that sleep for example falls is relevant to a finding of no safe

and sanitary conditions is one thing, but the ultimate conclusion is safe

and sanitary is a singular category in the agreement and it was – it was -

- one has to assume left that way and not enumerated by the parties because

either the parties couldn`t reach agreement on how to enumerate that or

that it was left to the agencies to determine – to determine –

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Or it was relatively obvious and is least obvious

enough so that if you`re putting two peoples into a crowded room to sleep

on a concrete floor with an aluminum foil blanket on top of them, that

doesn`t comply with the agreement.  I mean, it may be that they don`t get

super thread-count Egyptian linens, I get that.

 

But the testimony that the district judge believed was it`s really cold. 

In fact, it gets colder when we complain about is being cold, we`re

supposed to sleep crowded with the lights on all night long and all you

have to put us on is the concrete floor with and aluminum blanket.

 

I mean, I understand that some outer boundary, there may be some

definitional difficulty, but no one would argue that this is secure and

sanitary – safe and sanitary.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Which is your strongest argument then?

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, I mean, I think what I would go to is that when

you start in numerating for example specific hygiene items and the way that

was done is that the court sort of enumerated these and say these fall

under the rubric, these following the category of what can be required –

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, it can be – again, it wasn`t perfume soap, it

was so.  It wasn`t you know, high-class milled soap, it was soap.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It`s within everybody`s common understanding that you

know, if you don`t have a toothbrush, if you don`t have soap, if you don`t

have a blanket, it`s not safe and sanitary.   wouldn`t everybody agree to

that?  Do you agree to that?

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, I think it`s – I think those are – there`s

fair reason to find that those things may be part of safe and sanitary –

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not “maybe,” “are a part.”  Why do you say maybe?  You

mean, there are circumstances where a person doesn`t need to have a

toothbrush, toothpaste and soap for days?

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, I think in CBP custody, there`s frequent –

it`s frequently intended to be much shorter term so it may be that for a

shorter term stay in CBP custody, that`s those things may not be required.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, but I don`t think that was the situation over the

court was confront.  I mean it wasn`t as though those people were there for

12 hours and then moved on to the Hilton Hotel.  No, they were there for a

very – fairly sustained period.  And at least according to the evidence

that the judge believed, they weren`t getting these things for a fairly

sustained period.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  All right, so call the facilities where this is happening whatever

you want, but arguing that children don`t need to be provided beds or soap

is well, nothing short of deplorable.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D-IL):  Hi!  I`m Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.  Today

I am announcing that I believed that the House of Representatives should

begin an impeachment inquiry officially because President Trump certainly

has committed all kinds of offenses that meet the standard of impeachment.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  The list of House Democrats calling for the impeachment of

President Trump continues to grow.  As it stands right now, 72 Democrats

and one lonely a Republican have publicly taken that position.

 

This comes as new Politico morning consult poll found that 65 percent of

self-identified Democrats support impeachment up from 59 percent just after

the Mueller report was released in April.  Meanwhile, legendary filmmaker

Rob Reiner has produced a video, for now, this explaining some of the more

dramatic findings of the Mueller report for those who have not read it.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  On August 2nd, 2016, Trump campaign managers Paul

Manafort and Rick Gates met with a Russian agent in a cigar bar in New York

City.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This was one of many meetings where they share the

campaign`s internal polling data and their electoral strategy specifically

the targeting of Midwestern states,.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Let me say that again.  Trump`s campaign manager

shared Trump`s election strategy with Russia.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That`s the textbook definition of collusion.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  And Rob Reiner joins me now.  Rob, this is the second video.  I

think I`ve seen them both.  What is the goal here?

 

ROB REINER, ACTOR:  The goal is to educate the public.  You know, virtually

nobody has read the Mueller report.  And if you do read it you will see

that there is more criminality in that relating to President Trump than any

other sitting president in American history and most people just don`t know

about it. 

 

So we`re trying to educate the public.  It`s kind of like a weird catch-22

where if you don`t know about what he has done in terms of not only

collusion which it`s loaded with, but obstruction of justice, then how else

can you start an impeachment proceedings.

 

HAYES:  Right.  I mean, here`s the tricky thing.  In the days of Nixon,

they had hearings, bipartisan hearings in the Senate which educated the

public.  They had actual witnesses come in public under oath and you heard

what Nixon had done.  The American public has no idea what President Trump

has done, no idea.

 

HAYES:  You know, it`s funny you say that because I generally think that

that`s largely true although it is interesting to me, the polling indicates

that the public opinion has moved in the direction of impeachment, that as

many as 50 percent of people think that he should be impeached.  I think

around half of folks think that he actually coordinated with Russia.

 

So what`s sort of striking to me is that despite the fact that those

hearings aren`t really happening, if they`re happening they`re not having

it in public, some messages are getting through, maybe through Rob Reiner

effect.

 

REINER:  Well, I don`t know if it`s that.  But I think people are reacting

to the fact that they see a president who is clearly a criminal, and they

see his behavior, and they see how you know, his policies of putting kids

in cages and not giving them blankets and then soap and all these things,

and they`re appalled and they abhor that, but they don`t know specifically

what`s in report which is totally loaded with criminality.

 

HAYES:  Well, what was most striking to you?  Obviously, you`ve gone

through the report you and you`ve been sort of building these segments,

right, around what`s in there.  Like what was striking to you when you went

through it?

 

REINER:  Nothing.  Nothing to be honest with you, Chris.  Because you know,

when President Trump first came on the scene, I knew a lot about him.  I

knew who he was and I was – my hair was on fire.  You can see I don`t have

any hair anymore.  It all went away.  But I mean I had been apoplectic from

the get-go.

 

And I launched the committee to investigate Russia knowing full well that

these connections were there.  But I also was real realizing that the

public, it`s complicated for them.  They don`t really understand it.  But

in the Mueller report, it`s very clearly laid out.  Criminality, there are

ten instances of obstruction of justice.

 

Over a thousand federal prosecutors that serve both Republicans and

Democrats have said that this is a slam-dunk case for obstruction.  So it`s

this weird thing now where you know, Nancy Pelosi wants to make sure that

there`s going to be a guarantee of a conviction in the Senate.  We know

that`s probably not going to happen.

 

But you pointed out just now, we`re at around 50 percent thinking that the

president should be impeached.  When the hearings in Watergate started,

they were only at 19 percent.  By the time the public was made aware of

everything, they moved and moved very quickly.  And I believe that will

happen here.

 

You know, you remember when Mueller came on television for eight minutes,

that`s all anybody talked about for two days.

 

HAYES:  It`s true, yes.

 

REINER:  That`s it!  Hope Hicks did not testify.  Nobody knows about Hope

Hicks.  It didn`t happen.

 

HAYES:  Because it didn`t happen in front of the cameras.

 

REINER:  And that means it didn`t happen, because…

 

HAYES:  Spoken like a true Hollywood man.

 

REINER:  Well, no, but in terms of the public, in terms of the public. 

they need to see people on television telling the story.  If Hope Hicks,

for instance, did what she did in closed session on camera, it would be

shocking and people would be talking about that for days.

 

HAYES:  I one hundred percent agree with that.  Very good point about what

we`re seeing and what we`re not seeing, the book version and the movie

version, which is sort of the key part of this whole thing.

 

Rob Reiner, thanks so much for making time.

 

REINER:  Thanks for having me, Chris.

 

HAYES:  All right, still ahead, my exclusive interview with Ta-Nehisi

Coates on his congressional testimony on the case for reparations.

 

Plus, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  Thing One tonight, we now know the Trump tax cuts were a scam. 

They did not deliver on any of the benefits they promised, except for

wealthy people and corporations. 

 

Now, that`s not exactly a surprise, all Republican tax cuts going back to

the Reagan area are

basically designed to do this.  All of them, based on the same economic

model from the 1970s, the so-called Laffer Curve.  It`s the idea that

basically says, you can increase revenue by cutting taxes, and it`s been

proven not to work over and over and over again. 

 

But that did not stop Donald Trump from giving Art Laffer, creator of the

Laffer Curve, the

presidential Medal of Freedom yesterday.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  The now-famous Laffer Curve, still a very, very highly respected

economic curve.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES;  Really one of the best curves, just a legendary curve.

 

But did Laffer get that medal because Trump really respects his curve, or

was it maybe for something a bit more recent?  That`s Thing Two in 60

seconds.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  Economist Art Laffer came up with his famous Laffer Curve back in

1974, but it was  something he did a lot more recently that may have been

his greatest achievement, because it is perhaps the thing that really

brought him to this moment when a presidential Medal of Freedom was placed

around his neck.  “Trumponomics,” a book he wrote with Kudlow and Steven

Moore about how smart Trump`s policies are, which are, of course, their

policies.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I`ve heard and studied the Laffer Curve for many years.  The

Wharton School of Finance, it`s very important thing that you`ve done, Art,

very important.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  Very important, though I don`t think Trump studied it at the

Wharton School of Finance.  Trump was a student there in the `60s, Laffer

came up with the curve in `70s.

 

Maybe he heard about it from the Ferris Bueller movie in the` 80s?

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  Art drew on his napkin a series of lines and a curve that changed

history with the

now-famous Laffer Curve still a very, very highly respected economic curve.

 

BEN STEIN, LAWYER/ACTOR:  Does anyone know what Vice President Bush called

this in 1980?  Anyone?  Something d-o-o economics.  Voodoo economics.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  Right now there`s a national conversation going on about whether

this nation should be paying reparations to its African-American citizens. 

Recently, reporter Trymaine Lee visited Georgetown University in

Washington, D.C., where students are pushing for their school to repair the

sins of its past.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Georgetown is one of the most

prestigious universities in the United States.  It was founded by Jesuits

in 1789 on the backs of slave labor.  The university owned plantations in

Maryland and even enslaved people on campus, but it wasn`t until 2015 that

a student researcher discovered that the university sold off 272 people to

stay a float in 1838.  Those people ended up in Louisiana on some of the

worst plantations in the U.S.  One of their descendants is Melisande Short-

Colomb, a current student at Georgetown.

 

MELISANDE SHORT-COLOMB, GEORGETOWN STUDENT:  My ancestors were here until

members of their families were sold in 1838.  So my family and who I am as

an American actually goes back 11 generations.

 

LEE:  Melisande is among a group of student activists pushing to make the

university the first in the country to pay reparations for slavery. 

Recently, they got one big step closer to their goal, an overwhelming

majority of students voted to increase their own tuition by $27.20 a

semester, that`s 10 cents for each of the people the university sold.

 

The administration still has to approve it.

 

Money and the field will go to a Louisiana community where many of the

descendants live, a community that lacks basic services like a hospital and

secondary school.

 

MILE BLASS, GEORGETOWN STUDENT:  We`re not making a gift to these people. 

Their, like, quality of life is directly tied to the actions of the

university, even just geographically, being put in communities in Louisiana

and Maryland.  If

you`re put in a community that doesn`t have a lot of social mobility and

resource, that`s directly the result of Georgetown selling you – your

ancestors to individuals in this location.

 

LEE:  Shepard Thomas is one of the many descendants of those 272 people. 

He still has relatives in that community in Louisiana.

 

SHEPARD THOMAS, GEORGETOWN STUDENT:  I treat this as justice.  So even

though like you can say justice is victory, I just feel like it`s fairness

for all, you know.  Equality is one thing, but equity is another.  And I

would hope for that to  come from this.

 

LEE:  What do you hope for, when you think about the what the university

could do?

 

THOMAS:  I hope for the university fully acknowledging us by providing

things which could forward the lives of others, like education, medical

help, or other ways that people can go further in life, because they

weren`t granted certain opportunities that students who go to Georgetown

University have.

 

LEE:  Georgetown is just one of countless American institutions with its

foundation and

buildings built with slave labor.  Many of the most iconic buildings in the

nation`s capital were built in part or whole by enslaved people.

 

There are buildings all around this city that were at least built by slave

labor or funded by the sale, I`m sure, including this building right here.

 

MARCIA CHATLAIN, GEORGETOWN PROFESSOR:  Absolutely.  I think the White

House is the quintessential American building – its exterior signals

purity and grace and grandeur, and behind the scenes, at its very

foundations, is the work of  enslaved people.

 

I think the thing that people need to understand about the issue of

reparations, it`s an attempt to settle a debt that can never be settled.

 

LEE:  And it sounds like you`re talking about justice, but sometimes in

America, justice is hard to come by.

 

CHATLAIN:  Justice is incredibly hard to come by.  And in these little

glimmers, when we see young people invested in the possibilities of

justice, it reminds us that even in our darkest hours, that there is hope

and that when we show that to other people, that they see the possibilities

in their life, that they didn`t know were there the day before.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  Yesterday, in of those buildings you saw there, built with slave

labor, congress held

its first hearings on reparations in more than a decade.  Among those

testifying was journalist and author, Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose 2014 article

entitled “The Case for Reparations” helped renew the

reparations debate.  I`ll talk to him about the case for reparations and

the push-back from Republicans who say they don`t want to relitigate the

past right after this break.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

HAYES:  It was a rare sight in congress, a hearing on reparations held

yesterday in one of the many buildings in Washington built on slave labor. 

Ta-Nehisi Coates helped kick start this round of the

reparations debate.

 

Joining me now is Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of three best-selling books,

recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, current author of the Marvel comics

The Black Panther” and Captain America, and his debut novel The Water

Dancer, which is exceptional and I finished a night ago, will be published

in September.  Good to have you here.

 

TA-NEHISI COATES, AUTHOR:  Thanks for having me, Chris.

 

HAYES:  Well, you`ve never testified at a congressional hearing before.

 

COATES:  No.

 

HAYES:  What was it like?

 

COATES:  There was no possible way to prepare for it.  It was completely,

completely dizzying.  I think the particular intensity – I mean, as I was

joking, you see I still have the same suit on, so I mean, that`s a

statement.  I apologize, Black Twitter.

 

But it was dizzying.  I mean, and I think the particular energy around this

was just like, I mean, unlike anything I`d ever seen.

 

You know, I`m a writer, I`m a journalist.  I`m used to writing things and

then, you know what I mean, going ahead and doing whatever I`m doing.  But

this is proving to be quite different.

 

HAYES:  Well, it`s interesting to me, the moment for this particular issue. 

I mean, this is not – you know, the issue did not arise with your Atlantic

article.  It`s a long-standing, and as you say in that article and say at

every opportunity, it`s built upon decades and decades of scholarship and

other folks. 

 

But it does feel like there`s a moment now where it has achieved degree of

mainstream legitimacy that is new.

 

COATES:  Right.  I think two things are responsible for that.  The first is

– and this is not fair – but I think The Atlantic enjoys a kind of space

among quote, unquote, very serious people.  So, I just have to be frank. 

And I actually knew this at the time. 

 

Look, people can be right up on one side and down the other about

something, but when an outlet with a kind of cachet among certain people

says it, it becomes a little different.  Again, that`s not fair. 

 

And the second part of that I think, Trump – and Trump particularly

following Barack Obama has had a kind of radicalizing effect on a lot of

people I think.

 

HAYES:  You know, one of the things that we hear a lot about, and you

talked about yesterday, and I want to play the sound of Mitch McConnell and

Lindsey Graham, sort of the big argument against it always – there is a

bunch of arguments, but the big one is, look, this was a long time ago and

no one alive today is responsible for it.  Take a listen to what they had

to say.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA:  I just think we are so far

removed from the event.  It was the original sin of the country.  And I

think let`s just make it a more perfect union rather than looking backward,

because I don`t know where it stops when you do that.

 

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY:  No one currently alive was responsible

for that.  And I don`t think we should be trying to figure out how to

compensate for it.  First of all, it would be hard to figure out who to

compensate.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

HAYES:  You addressed that directly yesterday in the testimony.

 

COATES:  I did.  I think that`s an opportunistic notion of citizenship.  As

I said yesterday, we obviously have ties and debts and credits that we

acknowledge that go far back beyond the time of the last slave holder and

the last enslaved person. 

 

I mean, you can just look at the building in which these people work.  You

work in a capital that was built by enslaved people.  You are there

enjoying the benefits of their labor.  If we don`t want to acknowledge our

ties to that, how about you go work on the Anacostia River, you know,

somewhere or something like that.

 

You know, and I`m being flip about that, but this is true.  I was doing the

research for that testimony, as latest as 2017, we were paying pensions to

the last heir of a civil war veteran.  We are at this very moment still

paying pensions to the veterans from Spanish-American war, World War I, I

mean, things that happened long before, you know, I was alive and you were

alive and yet we don`t have a problem with that.

 

HAYES:  You know, and one of the points that struck me about the Georgetown

story – and I think Georgetown is fascinating, right, because here is like

– this isn`t the whole country, it`s one university.  It`s a laboratory. 

It`s a little pilot program.  But in that case, it`s like there are records

of this stuff.

 

COATES:  Oh, sure.

 

HAYES:  They have the 272 names.  They have the amount of money that they

are going to spend.  And they have a community where they can track the

descendants.

 

COATES:  I mean, listen, the first thing is, you know, as I said yesterday,

a, this isn`t just about enslavement, right.  So, yes, you can actually

track enslavement, but Jim Crow, I mean, that`s easy.  I went and found

them.

 

HAYES:  The first – the opening of that article in The Atlantic is an

interview with a homeowner from Chicago – west side of Chicago.

 

COATES:  Right.  It`s not actually hard to find people that were victimize,

that suffered, you know, that lost wealth or had wealth stolen from them

underneath it.  And as far as I`m concerned, people who feel like the

problem here is we can`t identify who it is, why don`t you support HR 40

and

then let`s find out, because HR 40 is just a study.  Why don`t we find out? 

That`s my challenge.

 

OK, you feel like that?  Possibly you are right.  Support the study and

then let`s find out.

 

HAYES:  Right, the legislation that you were testifying on tomorrow, right

– I`m sorry, yesterday – is essentially to commission a study for – to

look into all of these different sort of particularities about the

logistics of it.

 

COATES:  Right.  And so if your objection is procedural, I don`t know, you

know, if we can find these people, let`s have the study.  That`s what the

study is for.  You know, how much are we going to pay.  Who are we are

going to pay it to.  That`s why we need a study.  Let`s have a study.

 

You know, the other thing I have to add, Chris, is we did this before. 

This is not unprecedented.  We did this with Japanese-Americans who were

interned rightfully during the period of World War II.  You know, so it`s

not like we`ve never done this before. 

 

The city of Chicago has done reparations for the victims of John Bird.  The

state of North Carolina has actually done reparations for the victims of

what was basically a state-wide eugenics policy practiced against black

women and poor women.  So, this is not unfounded territory here.

 

HAYES:  You know, I want to ask you a little about the politics of this

issue.  It`s very interesting to me.  So, you`re getting – you have

candidate get asked about it.  Mitch McConnell gets asked about it.  It is

in the blood stream of the American political body politic.

 

But here`s the polling on it, four different polls, Marist, Data for

Progress, which leans left, Fox News, Rasmussen, they`re all with about 25,

26 percent.  And big majorities saying no, 68, 40, 60, 66.  My feeling

about reparations is that the case substantively is basically ironclad. 

I`m 100 percent persuaded.  And I think it`s political suicide for a

national politician to run on it on a national campaign.

 

COATES:  Yeah, I mean, first of all, that`s not my problem.

 

HAYES:  Yeah, right.

 

COATES:  That`s actually not my problem.  I would not – I don`t think any

of us would say during a period where, for instance, marriage equality

enjoyed terrible, terrible poll numbers that people should have given up

the pressure on politicians, that we should have let up on Barack Obama,

for instance, or, you know, the Clintons for signing the Defense of

Marriage Act.

 

If I as a writer, and to the extent that – god I can`t believe I`m going

to use this word – advocate to the extent that I – if I say, well, you

know, if it polls well, you know what i mean, that`s what I will be writing

about, then I`m dead.

 

But the other thing in, I think part of that polling is the result of the

fact that we haven`t had serious discussions.  I think like that polling is

not an abstract figure that is not connected to other things.  The fact of

the matter is we haven`t had the kind of discussions that we actually had

yesterday.  So, I think to the extent that we can push this forward, have

serious substantive conversations like we

did yesterday, you know, I would expect that polling to change actually.

 

HAYES:  Yeah, do you think that the sort of – do you think the one thing

that would change that polling is actually talking about some of the nitty-

gritty of it?

 

COATES:  Listen, there will be – when I wrote The Case for Reparations in

2014, one of the most shocked – one of the things that shocked me the most

was the sheer number of white people throughout the country who either came

up to me or wrote me and said I didn`t know about red lining.  I just legit

didn`t know.

 

I mean, because as a writer, my perspective is – listen, my job is to tell

you the truth.  I have no idea what comes after that.  At that point I

probably did not view myself – I would have askance, for instance, at the

possibility of me testifying before congress.  And so one of the things

that shocked me was the sheer ignorance. 

 

So, there`s a group of people who legit don`t want to know.  They don`t –

you can lay out the facts for them and they just care.  You are never going

to convince them.

 

But at the same time, there is also, you know, a large number of people who

literally don`t know.

They just don`t know.  They have never given reparations a serious

consideration.

 

HAYES:  You and I discussed this all the time in our private conversations

about reconstruction particularly, and about the birth of Jim Crow, no one

knows.  No one knows the history of it.

 

COATES:  No one knows.

 

HAYES:  That chapter is lost – it`s memory hold in American history about

what happened.

 

COATES:  No one knows.

 

HAYES:  There is a comment I wanted to ask you about Joe Biden made,

because it relates directly, right, about the sort of ways that we

configure our memory of the past, particularly vis-a-vis white supremacy

and segregation, talking about the fact that there were white supremacist

segregationists, Democratic senators, that he was elected to sort of

oppose, and he did oppose – I mean, he had different views than then, but

that he was able to work with them.

 

And, you know, he`s talking about this old model of how the senate worked. 

He has come under criticism for that, and other people – Cory Booker,

among others, have asked him to apologize.  Just curious what you made of

that.

 

COATES:  So, listen, the problem here is not that he had polite

relationships with people who  had deeply, deeply deplorable views, the

problem is those very polite relationships were premised on the fact that

those people`s deeply deplorable views actually disenfranchised an entire

sector of the electorate.

 

There is a reason why those polite relationships went away.  And part of

the reason they went  away was because black people are now a voting force

in the south, you know, much to the chagrin of some other people.

 

And so I think there is a lack of acknowledgment.

 

HAYES:  The price of that cold peace.

 

COATES:  Yes, yes, yes, yes.

 

HAYES:  Was that you didn`t cross them on race.  You could deal with all

sorts of different things.  You can trade horses on a million different

things.

 

COATES:  and I don`t think he – you know, to the extent that I can credit

him, I don`t think he realizes that.  Maybe he doesn`t want to realize

that.  But there is a reason why those people were able to be polite with

him.

 

And so I think for a lot of black people when we hit it, it`s actually a

kind a secondary endorsement, as crazy as this sounds, of Jim Crow, because

Jim Crow was the basis on which that

peace was in fact constructed.

 

And so…

 

HAYES:  but you don`t think Joe Biden…

 

COATES:  That`s not the point, that`s not the point.  Like you can – and

that`s why I said secondary endorsement.  Like what he`s endorsing is the

peace, right.  But the peace is actually built on

something quite horrible.  And without that horrible thing, there never

would have been that civility in the first place.

 

HAYES:  I mean, the peace built atop horror is the story of American

politics.

 

COATES:  It`s the story of reconstruction, redemption, you know, and that

extends right up to him having that great relationship with Herman…

 

HAYES:  Well, I should this, yeah – in the year 2019, it`s remarkable how

much untold there is about, I mean, – or needs to be retold time and time

again which brings me to your novel, which comes out in September, which I

just finished.

 

COATES:  Are we talking about this?

 

HAYES:  We are not talking it.  I`m just going to give it – I`m just going

to say Water Dancer and it`s remarkable and it`s really a beautiful piece

of work and people should check it out.  Ta-Nehisi Coates, thanks so much

for bringing me here.

 

COATES:  Thanks for having me. 

 

HAYES:  All right, man.

 

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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