Michael Flynn changes his story TRANSCRIPT: 7/9/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guest: Julie Brown, David Corn, Michael Isikoff, Nicholas Bagley, Maura Healey

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  So an hour-long speech for the President

should hardly persuade Americans that Trump is suddenly interested in

saving the planet from what practically every scientist in the world says

it`s coming all the faster because of the man we have in the White House. 

And that`s HARDBALL for now.  “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes starts right now.







a long time ago.  I don`t think I`ve spoken to him for 15 years.  I wasn`t

a fan.


HAYES:  From terrific guy to not a fan.  Trump backs away from Jeffrey



TRUMP:  I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you.  I was not a fan of



HAYES:  Tonight, new scrutiny for the former friends of the indicted sex



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We looked at President Clinton, we looked at President



HAYES:  And growing calls for the man who agreed not to prosecute him to

step down as labor secretary.  Then –


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  Today the Trump administration is demanding that

the court strikes down every last provision of the ACA.


HAYES:  The latest on the court case that threatens to destroy American

healthcare as we know it.  Plus –


TRUMP:  Michael Flynn, General Flynn is a wonderful man.


HAYES:  Trump`s former National Security Adviser stops cooperating with

prosecutors and the President starts feuding with the British Ambassador.


TRUMP:  We`re not big fans of that man.


HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.




HAYES:  Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes.  Tonight there`s

mounting pressure on Labor Secretary Alex Acosta to resign over his past

treatment of wealthy sex predator Jeffrey Epstein.  And there`s a new focus

on Epstein`s ties to Donald Trump which are far more extensive than the

President wants you to think.


Epstein was of course indicted in New York yesterday charged with

conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and sex trafficking of underage girls. 

Prosecutors allege he abused dozens of victims, some as young as 14 he

faces up to 45 years in prison and has pled not guilty.


Now, Epstein faced similar charges in Florida more than a decade ago but

was able to cut a lenient non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney

for the Southern District of Florida that protected him from federal

prosecution, allowed him to plead to state charges and spend just 13 months

in jail with work release privileges.


The U.S. Attorney who oversaw and signed off on that deal was none other

than Alex Acosta who is now Donald Trump`s Labor Secretary.  In the wake of

the new charges against Epstein, more than a dozen Democratic presidential

candidates along with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have said Acosta has

to go.


For his part, Acosta maintains the deal was the best he could get at the

time.  On Twitter today he said he is “pleased that New York prosecutors

are moving forward with a case based on new evidence.  Meanwhile, his boss

offered some tepid support.




TRUMP:  I can only say this from what I know and what I do know is that

he`s been a great, really great Secretary of Labor.  The rest of it we`ll

have to look at, we`ll have to look at it very carefully.




HAYES:  Epstein has ties to some of the most powerful people in the country

including former President Bill Clinton who took multiple trips on

Epstein`s airplane and who put out a statement yesterday saying he knew

nothing about Epstein`s crimes.


Legal scholar Alan Dershowitz who represented Epstein in the Florida case

is being sued for defamation by a woman who said that Epstein groomed her

when she was underage and then lent her to Dershowitz for sex.


Dershowitz denies the allegation and said today that “part of this is

clearly motivated by the fact that I`ve defended Trump on constitutional

grounds.  And then there is, of course, the President himself.  Epstein`s

personal address book contained multiple private numbers for contacting the

future president who said in 2002 they had known up steam for 15 years and

described him as a “terrific guy.”


I`ll read more of the quote.  “He`s a lot of fun to be with.  It is even

said he likes beautiful women as much as I do and many of them are on the

younger side.”  Trump flew on Epstein`s private jet at least once and

Epstein attended parties at Mar-a-Lago though court documents say Trump

eventually barred Epstein from Mar-a-Lago because Epstein sexually

assaulted an underage girl at the club, but not before then 16-year-old

Virginia Roberts was she says, recruited by Epstein from the Mar-a-Lago





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Virginia Roberts was working in the spa at Donald

Trump`s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach when British socialite Keely Maxwell

introduced her to multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You`re just thrown into a world that you don`t

understand and you don`t know how to – you`re screaming on the inside and

you don`t know how to let it come out and you just become this numb figure

who refuses to feel and refuses to speak and refuses – all you do is obey. 

That`s it.




HAYES:  Back in 2010, Epstein was asked in a sworn deposition “Have you

ever socialized with Donald Trump in the presence of females under the age

of 18.”  Epstein`s response, though I`d like to answer that question, at

least today I`m going to have to assert my Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth

Amendment rights, sir.


It`s also worth remembering generally the president`s history.  He once

told to 14-year girls – 14-year-old girls in a couple of years I`ll be

dating you and five women who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty

pageant told BuzzFeed news that Trump walked into the dressing room while

contestants some as young as 15 were changing.


And while it was not specifically in reference to that Miss Teen USA

pageant, Trump has of course openly bragged about barging into women`s

dressing rooms in his role as owner of the beauty pageants.




TRUMP:  I`ll go backstage before a show yes and everyone`s getting dressed

and ready and everything else and you know no man are anywhere, and I`m

allowed to go in because I`m the owner of the pageant and therefore I`m

inspecting it.




HAYES:  Trump was asked today in the wake of the new charges that he still

views Epstein as a “terrific guy.”




TRUMP:  Well, I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew.  I mean, people

in Palm Beach knew him.  He was a picture in Palm Beach.  I had a falling-

out with him a long time ago.  I don`t think I`ve spoken to him for 15

years.  I wasn`t a fan.  I was not – you know, a long time ago.  I`d say

maybe 15 years.  I was not a fan of his that I can tell you.  I was not a

fan of his.




HAYES:  Joining me now the investigative journalist whose dogged reporting

helped expose Epstein`s abuse as well as his secret plea deal with Alex

Acosta that would be Julie Brown of the Miami Herald, great – pleasure to

have you here.  Thank you.




HAYES:  I want to do – sort of start on the president and then talk about

Alex Acosta.  In terms of the president, this was clearly – I mean, you

can find pictures of Epstein with lots of people because he cultivated a

lot of powerful people.  How do you characterize his relationship to the

current President of the United States?


BROWN:  Well, I think that their relationship goes back a long time.  They

obviously had a lot in common.  Both powerful wealthy men who enjoyed the

company of beautiful women, and they moved in the same social circles, and

they also both had experience with models and modeling agencies.


Epstein reportedly invested in a modeling agency and there are court

documents that said that at the time and he invested in this modeling

agency, he told the people that he was working within this company that he

wanted to set up this particular modeling agency just like Donald Trump`s.


So he admired some of the business arrangements that Trump had made in his

modeling company and I think that in part they had similar interests,

business interests and also with models.


HAYES:  Is there evidence to back up or verify the idea that Trump threw

him out of Mar-a-Lago or had a falling out over the fact that Epstein

assaulted someone at Mar-a-Lago or was cruising for underage girls at Mar-



BROWN:  No.  I haven`t seen any evidence of it.  My understanding is that

this is something that`s pretty hard to verify because it involved the

father of a young girl and they – I`m sure that he doesn`t want to go

public and admit that you know, Jeffrey Epstein had hit on his daughter so

that`s something that`s pretty hard to verify unless a person would

voluntarily come forward.


HAYES:  Let`s talk about Acosta.  You know, the sort of line from Acosta

both today in the tweets and generally when he has been forced to talk

about this and hasn`t been much is we did the best we could with the

evidence we had.  We couldn`t make the case.  What – is that an accurate

characterization into your mind?


BROWN:  Well, let`s put it this way.  If you don`t feel like you have

enough evidence in a case, you go find the evidence in the case.  And I

know for a fact that the FBI was working toward that and that they had a

lot of good leads including leads in New York that he was likely doing the

same kind of sex pyramid scheme involving young girls in New York and

possibly even overseas.


So they were – the investigators in the FBI were certainly aware that this

case was moving forward and going places.  In fact, my sources tell me that

the FBI was very upset that Acosta made this deal because they felt very

close to being able to really seal this case and really get further

witnesses beyond the girls.


You know, some of the argument is the girls might have been reluctant

witnesses for obvious reasons.  They were very scared.


HAYES:  Of course.


BROWN:  But there were other people involved in this operation.  There were

recruiters, there were schedulers, they were pilots, there were houseman

who helped – who paid the girls.  There were drivers who drove them back

and forth.  There were plenty of people that they could have squeezed if

they really wanted to.  They could have looked at his finances.  He was

paying lots of cash to these – to these girls.


I mean, the computers, they never went after his computers.  That doesn`t

make any sense at all.  So were they really trying to get him, were they

really trying to investigate?  I mean, to me there`s a lot of questions

there about whether they were really serious about the case to begin with.


HAYES:  How much pushback pressure was brought to bear on that U.S.

Attorney`s Office from people connected to Epstein and his attorneys were

very high-powered, high-priced attorneys when this case was before that

U.S. attorney Alex Acosta?


BROWN:  Well, you know, obviously you know they – I think that they were

pretty bowled over quite frankly by these big attorneys Kenneth Starr, Alan

Dershowitz, Jay Lefkowitz.  These were big-name attorneys and I think that

as some of them all had some common links through the law firm of Kirkland

and Ellis.  Acosta went – was an alumna of Kirkland.  Kenneth Starr was at

Kirkland.  Jay Lefkowitz was at Kirkland.  By the way, Bill Barr is from

Kirkland so they had a lot of connections.


As far as the pressure you know, Acosta says that they really delved into

some of these lawyers, these prosecutors backgrounds, but I think as a

federal prosecutor your job – you`re supposed to withstand that kind of

pressure.  That`s what your job is.


And I think that you know you shouldn`t be swayed by a big star power

attorney, defense attorney.  You should be still advocating for these

girls.  These were you know, young 13, 14, 15-year-old girls here.  I mean,

you know, that that`s who you`re – you should be protecting, not a child



HAYES:  And just to be clear, I mean, these girls, these teenage girls,

they and their parents wanted to go forward right?


BROWN:  Yes.


HAYES:  I mean, they wanted it – oftentimes in these cases, you have

extremely reluctant witnesses for very good reason, ambivalent about it.


BROWN:  Right.


HAYES:  In this case, these individuals wanted the charges to be pursued.


BROWN:  There were several women that were very strong about it and in

fact, they were calling the prosecutor`s office repeatedly and they weren`t

getting any callbacks.  And so what they did was they hired an attorney

Brad Edwards to help them communicate with the prosecutor`s office because

they weren`t getting any calls back.


And the police chief too was getting calls from the – from the girls and

their parents saying what`s happening.  We`re calling the FBI, we`re

calling the prosecutor`s office, we want to know where the case stands. 

Nobody is calling us back.


HAYES:  Well, Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr appear to have done a pretty

good job for their client in this case.  Julie Brown, thanks for being with

me tonight.


BROWN:  Thanks for having me.


HAYES:  I want to turn now to Cynthia Alksne who`s a former Federal

Prosecutor whose extensive experience prosecuting sex crimes also an MSNBC

Legal Analyst and Senator Claire McCaskill former Democratic Senator from

Missouri, now an MSNBC Political Analyst.


And Senator, let me start with you.  You were in the Senate when Acosta was

brought before the Senate.  He – you were one of eight Democrats to vote

yes along with 52 Republicans.  There was some concern at the time about

this case but it wasn`t front and center.  What`s your feeling now watching

all this develop?



back.  I`m embarrassed about that vote.  And there`s some context.  The guy

who`d been nominated before him was from St. Louis –


HAYES:  And accused of spousal abuse.


MCCASKILL:  And a crusader against Roe v Wade, and against the minimum

wage, and against working people.  So when a nominee came along that the

Firefighters Union supported and the Laborers Union supported, I think as

somebody from a state where Trump had done very well, I was going OK, maybe

this guy – now do I regret that vote?  You bet I do.  Because I spent

years in the courtroom prosecuting sex offenders.  I know the dynamic

between the federal prosecutors and state prosecutors on these crimes.


And that`s why now that we`re looking carefully at this, it makes no sense

to me.  And I really think they need to have a hearing and hear from the

state`s attorney as to what actually happened here because typically the

federal government doesn`t do sex crimes.  That`s a state prosecution 99

percent of the time.


So the fact that the feds had it and then gave it back for sentencing is

incredibly unusual and something that doesn`t happen very often.  I never

saw it and I was in the courtroom and prosecuting for many, many years.


HAYES:  You know, Cynthia, there so much this anomalous – a friend of mine

as a lawyer referred to the non-prosecution agreement I think he said is

one of the sloppiest and most corrupt documents that he had ever seen. 

Does it strike you as it does Senator McCaskill and others as a truly

bizarre agreement?


CYNTHIA ALKSNE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  It`s not just bizarre, it`s a scam. 

I mean, they hid this from the girls.  The girls were calling and they were

deceiving them.  And Acosta was meeting off-site secretly with the defense

attorneys.  Let me just tell you what, when I was a federal prosecutor

prosecuting sex crimes or police officers or any – I didn`t defer to any

defense counsel and I don`t know anybody who did.


And these guys were deferential and – would this be OK with you.  It was -

- it was a bizarre relationship that they had.  But it`s more than just

sloppy, this is intentionally helping this rich white man over these young

girls who didn`t have the kind of representation that the Department of

Justice is ethically responsible and morally responsible to advocate for,


HAYES:  You know, part of the issue to me is that there`s nothing – we

still not have the full story.  Julie Brown did amazing reporting.


ALKSNE:  Yes, absolutely.  I mean Acosta should answer questions.


HAYES:  Yes.


ALKSNE:  I mean, I`m all for the state`s attorney answering questions but

we don`t have an answer on why he was meeting off-site, why did he lie to

the girls, why did he give immunity to these other four women plus persons

known and unknown?  Why didn`t he get anything in return for this deal? 

Why didn`t he research up in New York?


I mean, I can give you a list of 30 things that he should have to respond

to right away.  And this business about well, you know, I think justice was

done is a completely – is A, not true and B, an unacceptable response from

him at this time.


HAYES:  You know, it strikes me that – here`s a guy currently sitting the

cabinet, right.  This is something that doesn`t pertain to what he has done

as the Secretary of Labor is putting aside, but it also strikes me that

like, you may be the cost of keeping his job as he should answer these

questions.  You think – I mean –


MCCASKILL:  You know, and it`s so disingenuous for him to tweet on new

evidence.  I mean, you can read the indictment and clearly, it`s on conduct


HAYES:  The same –


MCCASKILL:  It was under his jurisdiction that he clearly reviewed and he

clearly knew was going on.  So his tweet is B.S.  And it seems to me that

if he called me and asked me for advice, I`d say you should quit tonight

and move on with your life because I don`t think this is going to get



You know, the Judiciary Committee in the House is pretty busy right now yes

so the notion that they would pull up a hearing on this right now – but

there are other Committees of jurisdiction on both sides of the Capitol,

both of the Senate and the House.


Some committee of jurisdiction whether it`s health and labor over in the

Senate or whether it`s an appropriations committee, I don`t care who it is. 

They need to call people in and find out what exactly happened here and

hear from these young women.  What were they willing to testify to because

Acosta keeps referring to that they didn`t have the evidence, that he

wasn`t going to get jail time under the federal law.


Well the federal law that he was just indicted under, there`s a significant

amount of jail time and no statute of limitations.


HAYES:  And to your point, Cynthia, one of the remarkable things about the

Miami Herald and Julie Browns reporting but primarily about the individuals

involved is that these now women then girls are on – they`re on-camera. 

Their names – I mean, they`re on the record making the accusations now. 

This isn`t some difficult to chase down group of individuals.  They can

come and talk to you.


ALKSNE:  Right.  And you know, when you do prosecute sex crimes, there are

women who don`t want to come forward.


MCCASKILL:  Of course.


ALKSNE:  There are people that it would – they are too fragile to be able

to testify.  But they had dozens of victims and they hadn`t even finished

their investigation, dozens.  What was the last time you saw a case like

that?  Dozens.  They could have done that.  And like Julie Brown said,

somebody was driving them, somebody was paying them, somebody was cleaning

up after these encounters.  There was a host of witnesses who should have

been in the grand jury.


This case was provable in 2005 and Alex Acosta needs to explain to us what

really the reason.  Is it just you know, rich white men hanging out at

Kirkland and Ellis or was there some other nefarious thing.  But we need to

know the answer to that.  And if he had any shame he would resign.  But

even if he resigns, he needs to answer these questions.


HAYES:  All right, Cynthia Alksne and Claire McCaskill, thank you both for

being with me.


MCCASKILL:  You bet.


HAYES:  A quick programming note, an important one.  Tomorrow on the “TODAY

SHOW” Savannah Guthrie will sit down for an exclusive interview with a new

Jeffrey Epstein accuser who is telling her story for the very first time. 

No one missed that.


And next Michael Flynn and his new legal team stop cooperating potentially

landing the President`s former National Security Advisor with a longer

sentence.  The pardon play in two minutes.




HAES:  Just one week before Robert Mueller testify before Congress and the

American public, there are new developments in the case of Michael Flynn. 

He`s the only member of the Trump administration to be charged in the

Russia investigation.


Tonight it appears that Flynn is reneging on part of his plea agreement. 

According to a new court filing, former National Security Adviser Michael

Flynn walked back a previous admission that he had lied on foreign lobbying

disclosure forms which is a federal crime.


Now his lawyers say that his old lawyers filed the inaccurate forms without

Flynn`s knowledge.  Just last month, Flynn fired his old legal team.  He

then hired a new lawyer, a guy who had previously written on Twitter

“General Flynn should withdraw his guilty plea.”  Just to give you a sense

of where it`s coming from.


And now federal prosecutors say they no longer believe that Flynn is

telling the truth.  So instead of calling him as a witness in a trial

against his former business partner next week, they will designate him as a

co-conspirator instead.


Now, all this comes after a judge already warned Flynn he would need to

show more cooperation to receive a lighter sentence.  He sure looks like

someone who has an opted to angle for a presidential pardon instead.


Meanwhile, the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee will vote on

Thursday about whether to subpoena a dozen of Trump associates in there

obstruction of justice probe and Michael Flynn`s name is number two on that



Joining me now someone who`s been covering the Russian investigation from

the very beginning Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn, Co-

Author of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin`s War on America and

the Election of Donald Trump.  David, what is Michael Flynn doing?



guest earlier tonight walked out this deal and said to me what the F is

going on here.  And the only logical explanation with the information that

we have is that Michael Flynn is going for pardon from Trump.


Either he has an assurance that it`s coming or he`s delusional in thinking

that Trump is actually going to stick out of his neck and help him some

point down the road.  Because as you noted, it was just a few months ago

that he appeared before a federal judge, Judge Emmet Sullivan about the

case that he`s pleaded guilty to and he was about to be sentenced, and he

was trying to backtrack from his guilty plea saying that he was tricked

into lying to the FBI.


And the judge said, you know what, you should just withdraw your plea then. 

If you want me to sentence you right now, I`m ready to do it.  And it

seemed like he would get some jail time.  At that point, Flynn said, no,

no, no, I`m not really saying that and I will be cooperating with the feds

in this other case and so let`s come back and revisit my sentencing down

the road when I`ve shown you that I`ve cooperated.


Well, now he`s not correct cooperating.  The feds are saying that he`s

lying in this new case about his information and they`re calling him a co-

conspirator, not a witness, so when he goes back to the other judge the

judge, the judge, if we take the starting point where we left off, has no

reason to not lock him up.  So why would Flynn do this other than if he

thinks the don`t right might come riding to his rescue.


HAYES:  Well, and we should say there`s a bit of a pattern here which is

somewhat striking to me.  Three individuals who struck cooperation deals

and then essentially tried to back off and see if Michael Flynn is doing

that now.  George Papadopoulos who had a plea and an agreement and then

toyed with the idea withdrawing his plea, enquired about it, and then said

he had been sort of trapped into talking about it and the whole thing was a

deep state plot, and then you have Paul Manafort.


I mean, Manafort, you know, the Special Counsel`s Office struck him on

cooperation, Manafort intentionally lied to the Special Counsel and in the

Mueller report, it says that he stopped them from actually getting to the

truth of the matter.


CORN:  Yes.  And so, what – we haven`t seen any pardons, we haven`t seen -

- we`ve seen a few public signs from Trump saying that he might consider

it, but I don`t know.  I mean, I don`t know how to – how to look at this. 

Do you think that Donald Trump would go out there and pardon Paul Manafort

if unless Paul Manafort was doing something to actually help Trump and

needed to keep doing that?


It`s unclear at this point if Manafort, Flynn or you know, have not fully

cooperated, they`re sitting on information that wouldn`t it be bad – worse

for Donald Trump than what`s already out there.  So we do know that Flynn

has these new lawyers, Sidney Powell, who is a Fox you know news

commentator who believes Mueller has destroyed evidence, who believe this

is an Obama deep state plot against Flynn, and all the crazy conspiracy

stuff that her and Sean Hannity, she`s down with that.


And so maybe I don`t know if she`s leading Flynn on or Flynn is trying to

use her to rally the Fox forces.


HAYES:  Speaking of the Obama deep state conspiracy and I –


CORN:  Speaking of that, yes.


HAYES:  I incorrectly gendered Sidney Powell for it`s a woman.  There`s

this piece of news today about Christopher Steele whose story you were the

first to break in 2016.  He`s the author of the infamous dossier then. 

Basically, the I.G. went to talk to him and one of the two sources said DOJ

and Inspector General Horowitz`s investigators appeared to have found

Steele`s information sufficiently credible to have to extend the

investigation, its completion date is now unclear.


These that people were looking into the charges of the origins of the

investigation who have apparently spent 16 hours now with Steele.  What do

you think of that?


CORN:  Well, you know, the deep state conspiracy on the other channel is

that the Steele dossier was somehow cooked up by the Democrats and used by

the FBI as a way to get this Russian investigation going so they could stop

Donald Trump from becoming elected president which of course they didn`t

do.  They didn`t try to – and they never use the dossier against Trump in

this time period.


And of course, we know that Steele himself did not give this as Isikoff and

I report in our book give this information to the FBI really into the fall

of 2016, months into the Russian investigation, so none of it holds up. 


Yet we hear this time and time again and you got the Breitbart crowd, and

Daily Caller and everybody else out there you know, baking on this

investigation by the you know, the inspector general but also baking on yet

another investigation that Bill Barr who`s a little bit more politically

minded here, is also trying to mount in the same way.


All to prove that somehow this Russian investigation was cooked up from the

beginning and distracting us from the key issue Russia attacked the

election and Donald Trump in his campaign you know helped him  along –


HAYES:  Encouraged –


CORN:  Encourage him and benefited from it.


HAYES:  All right, David Corn, thank you – David Corn, thank you very



CORN:  Thank you, Chris.


HAYES:  Coming up, the Trump administration`s latest attempt to destroy the

ACA at the expense of health care for millions of Americans, what happened

inside the courtroom today`s next.




HAYES:  Today, the Trump administration, along with a group of Republican

governors and state attorneys general, pressed their argument before a

federal appeals court to nuke the Affordable Care Act.  The court also

heard oral arguments from representatives of a group of 21 Democratic

attorneys general as well as the House of Representatives there defending

the law.


And depending on where the court lands, those arguments could be the end of

all of Obamacare,  though it will likely go to the Supreme Court, the end

of protections for people with preexisting conditions, the end of young

adults staying on their parents` insurance until the age of 26, the end of

standards of what insurers must include in their coverage, it would be the

end of an entire regulatory structure that has been built up since the law

passed in 2010.


The regulatory structure of American`s health care system, which counts for

one-sixth of the nation`s economy, just blown up, thrown into chaos.


And it`s worth highlighting the extraordinary steps taken here by Donald

Trump and his Department of Justice, which not only, in a very rare move,

opted not to defend Obamacare in the

courts but this spring agreed the entire law, all of it, should be struck



And some people call Medicare for all a radical and disruptive proposal on

the left, but on the right Republicans are pushing something that is as

radical as those critics say in the opposite direction right now at this

very moment.


Here to explain what`s going on, Massachusetts attorney general Maura

Healey, one of the Democratic attorneys general defending the law; and Nick

Bagley, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, who was part

of an amicus brief last year in support of the ACA.


Nick, let me start with you just to try to set the context, and then I`ll

come to you, attorney general.  The argument today happened in an appellate

– there were three judges in appellate court in New Orleans.  You, and a

lot of people, thought the first argument, the first decision by a district

judge, was pretty judge. 


These are some of the quotes about it: “he went too far in rejecting the

entire law.  This is a crackpot argument.  It makes a mockery of the rule

of law and basic principles of democracy.  Pretty bananas, assault on the

rule of law.”


What was the argument – what was the argument of that judge?  And how did

that go over today?



is that when congress passed its tax bill it zeroed out the penalty for

going without insurance.  And everybody understood that what congress was

doing w as repealing the individual mandate.  The president said so

himself.  But the red state attorneys general say, a ha, congress left on

the books a naked, meaningless command to buy insurance, one that can`t be

enforced at all.  And they say that command is unconstitutional.  And

because that command, which is backed up by no penalties at all, is

unconstitutional, the entire act has to fall.


HAYES:  What is the position of the state of Massachusetts, attorney

general, on this?




with you, though I`m really sad to be here, because frankly, this issue

should have been and was settled long ago.  You know, the Supreme Court

already upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.  And then

congress went on to try to repeal it no less than 70 times.  It`s really

sad that we are back

in court today, and especially so because the U.S. Department of Justice

isn`t doing its job. 


The Justice Department has a constitutional duty, obligation, to defend the

law, the Affordable Care Act.  Because they are not doing that, because

Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump actually ordered the lawyers at the

Department of Justice to no longer defend the ACA, and in fact removed

those lawyers from the case, we as Democratic AGs have had to step in to

defend the constitutionality of the law.


And fundamentally, this is about people.  We talk about the law, and it`s

important in the cases in court, but Chris, I`m here and my colleagues are

here, because this is about people`s lives.


You know, through the ACA, hundreds of millions of Americans have access to

health care coverage.  In the state of Massachusetts alone, more than

300,000 have access through expanded

Medicaid, another 2.5 million folks are covered here with preexisting

conditions.  All of that is now at risk, and it is my hope that this court

rules the right way, but certainly it`s a matter that`s probably going to

head to the Supreme Court, and we will be there the whole way.


HAYES:  Here is the thing, Nick, everyone remembers the mandate and the

Medicaid expansion  challenge, it`s the first challenge to the Supreme

Court.  There was s another one that I think is a little forgotten, which

was a question about whether the exchanges had – basically who could run

the exchanges and pay for them.  It was a weird statutory interpretation

question that started off as kooky – I remember everyone in the beginning

being like this is pretty nuts, clearly congress didn`t mean this – and

then lo and behold it was before the Supreme Court.


And I feel like I`m watching the movie again.  I watched, you and everyone

else, legal observer, being like the theory of this case is insane.  And

yet today it sounds like they got a receptive hearing from the two

Republican appointed judges on that appellate court.


BAGLEY:  Yeah.  It didn`t go well today in court for the defenders of the

Affordable Care Act, I  think that`s safe to say. 


The arguments on display in this case, though, are an order of magnitude

more kooky than the

arguments in the last go-around when we were fighting about the Affordable

Care Act.  This is another set of arguments that no principled legal

observer has on the left or right has taken seriously, has said yes, these

arguments have merit.  So it was really a surprise to see the two

Republican appointed judges on the court today really seem to embrace an

argument that  almost everybody would have put well beyond the pale.


So I think Attorney General Healey is right, I think this is likely headed

to the Supreme Court.  We`re going to have to see if they bite on a case

that is frankly much stupider than the previous two court challenges

they`ve heard.


HAYES:  Well, what`s your plan, attorney general, about how this goes



HEALEY:  Well, to win the case.  I mean, we were in court today.  I`m not

going to read anything into the questions asked by the judges.  We`ll await

a ruling.


But I can assure you this, Chris, we will be there to fight to make sure

that Americans have

access to the health care that I think they`re entitled to in this country. 

And what we see from Republicans, this is a political game, you know, this

isn`t serious about policy.  All this is about is trying to take away

something that was done during the Obama era, simply because they don`t

like President Obama.  This is about sabotaging access to health care.  It

will destabilize and destroy health care markets.  It will shut down

community health centers in our states.  It`s going to keep young people

from getting access to health care insurance after they turn the age of 26. 

And for the more than 130

million Americans, a third of this country with preexisting conditions,

it`s going to put into risk their ability to become insurable in the



This is serious business.  The stakes could not be higher.  I sat with a

woman today whose

son had a congenital heart defect, three open heart surgeries.  Now she has

to worry, as parents across this country have to worry, about whether her

child as he gets older will have access to the coverage that he needs. 

It`s about saving lives.


HAYES:  All right, Maura Healey and Nick Bagley, thank you for sharing your



BAGLEY:  Thank you.


HEALEY:  Good to be with you.


HAYES:  Ahead, Michael Isikoff is here with shocking new reporting on the

origins of one of the ugliest conspiracy theories of the 2016 election. 

What we now know about where the Seth Rich conspiracy theory came from



And the president`s newest feud in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two, next.




HAYES:  Thing One tonight, there is a pretty big international incident

brewing in Washington this week after a British tabloid published leaked

cables written by the UK ambassador to the U.S.  Ambassador Sir Kim Darroch

seems like a rather perceptive chap, perceptive observer of American

politics.  He calls the White House, quote, “uniquely dysfunctional,”

describes Trump as “inept, incompetent,” and my personal favorite,

“radiating insecurity.”


Of course, it didn`t take long for that report to start making waves on

this side of the pond.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. President, do you have a reaction to the British

ambassador`s comments that we reported about today?


TRUMP:  No, I haven`t seen it.  But, you know, we`ve had our little ins and

outs with a couple of countries.  And I would say that the UK and the

ambassador has not served the UK well, I can tell you that.  We`re not big

fans of that man.  And he has not served the UK well.  So I can understand

it. And I can say things about him, but I won`t bother.




HAYES:  Oh, I can say things about him, but I won`t bother.  For sure,



How long do you think our completely and totally thick-skinned president

could keep that promise?  That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.




HAYES:  So after it was reported that the British ambassador referred to

Donald Trump as insecure in cables, the president held out nearly a whole

48 whole hours before unleashing a totally secure and composed series of

insults, saying he didn`t know the ambassador, but he is not liked

or well thought of, calling him wacky, a very stupid guy and a pompous



He sure has a lot to say about a guy he supposedly doesn`t know.


President Trump also disinvited Ambassador Darroch to a dinner with the

emir of Qatar last night, which was a whole other weird scene.  But he did

make sure that his good friend Robert Kraft was there.


And for some reason, the UK trade minister told the BCC that he would

apologize to Ivanka

Trump for the whole mess at a previously scheduled meeting in Washington,

but there was no mention of an apology in the White House`s read-out of

that event.


Regardless, this has got to be the end of the road for the ambassador,

right?  Considering the president himself said we will no longer deal with





UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will the State Department deal with the ambassador?



with all accredited individuals until we get any further guidance from the

White House or the president, which we will of course abide by the

president`s direction.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So you have not received any instruction from the

White House to cut contacts with the embassy or with the ambassador?






HAYES:  Maybe check your phone?




Well, we`ll just have to wait I guess for the next set of tweets.




TRUMP:  Well, first of all, I don`t have thin skin.  I have very strong,

very thick skin.


I have a very strong temperament, and it`s a very good temperament, and

it`s very in control temperament.








TRUMP:  Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a

socialist country.




HAYES:  It`s a wild thing that in the year of our lord 2019, socialism is

the front and center of our political debates.  Presidential candidate

Senator Bernie Sanders is once again running on a democratic socialist

platform, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most

recognizable members of congress, identifies as a democratic socialist, and

30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall,

there seems to be a resurgent debate about what socialism means.


In this week`s podcast, Why is This Happening, I have a conversation about

the past, present and future of socialism with Bhaskar Sunkara.  He`s the

founder of the socialist magazine Jacobin. 


I learned a ton from it.  I think you will too.  You can find it wherever

you get your podcasts.




HAYES:  The 2016 election was a banner year for disingenuous and despicable

disinformation.  And one of the most disgusting examples was a specific

conspiracy theory that sullied the memory of a man who had been murdered. 

Seth Rich worked for the Democratic National Committee in the voter

protection division.  And he was, by the accounts of his family and

friends, a great guy a loyal member of the DNC.


But after his murder, which remains three years later unsolved, conspiracy

theorists started floating the false and totally baseless idea that the

hack of the DNC emails was not, in fact, a hack but was actually an inside

job, a leak, and that Seth Rich was the source.


It was a theory that, of course, conveniently provided an exculpatory story

for the Russians who were, of course, actually behind the DNC hack. 


But there was no evidence to support the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, and

it slandered the name of the man who had been murdered.  But it started in

the bowels of the Internet and worked its way up to the high profile

outlets and to the White House itself.




SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS:  Let`s start with the Seth Rich issue, Jay, and the

timeline here.  Is it possible that this whole Russian narrative was – and

the leaks – really came from a DNC staffer, and that the media has been

wrong for almost a year?


JAY SEKULOW, TRUMP  LAWYER:  Well, Sean, the media has not been right yet.


JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS:  As a 27-year-old, who worked for the

DNC.  He was shot in the back, murdered, just a few weeks ago, for unknown

reasons as he was walking down the street in Washington.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What are you suggesting?


ASSANGE: I am suggesting that our sources are – take risks.


UNIDENITIFIED FEMALE: We are just one year shy of the one year anniversary

of Seth Rich`s murder.  And ever since we learned  Rich was a DNC staffer,

the conspiracy theories online have taken a life of their own, but today

Fox 5 has learned there is new information that could prove these theorists

are in fact right.



story now, this young man who worked for the Democratic National Committee,

who apparently was assassinated at 4:00 in the morning having given

WikiLeaks something like 23,000 – I`m sorry, 53,000 emails and 17,000

attachments. Nobody`s investigating that.




HAYES:  OK.  That`s, just to be clear, that`s false and baseless.  And that

is dragging the name of this murdered individual through the mud and re-

traumatizing his family and friends, that`s what Newt Gingrich is doing



And now there is new exclusive reporting about the actual origins of the

Seth Rich conspiracy theory.  And maybe you can guess where it is. 


That reporting was broken by Michael Isikoff, chief investigative

correspondent for Yahoo! News, host of the new podcast from Yahoo! News

“Conspiraciland.”  One of the first episodes is all about the origin of the

Seth Rich conspiracy theory.


Great to have you here, and great reporting.


MICHAEL ISIKOFF, YAHOO! NEWS:  Great to be with you, Chris.


HAYES:  What is the origin of this?


ISIKOFF:  Well, as you suggested, it`s not that big of a surprise, although

nobody knew it, the Russian intelligence agency, the SVR, their version of

the CIA, circulates a bulletin three days after Seth Rich`s death saying he

was gunned down by a squad of assassins hired by Hillary Clinton while

walking home at 4:00 in the morning on a Sunday morning.


There was absolutely no evidence for this.




ISIKOFF:  Whatsoever.


That – the same day that the SVR circulates this, it pops up on this

obscure website whatdoesitmean.com that is a vehicle for Russian

propaganda.  And from there it migrants to 4chan and Reddit and soon within

a few weeks Roger Stone is on it, tweeting a picture of Seth Rich saying,

you know, another dead body in the Clintons` wake.


From there Julian Assange that same day picks up on it, throws that –

suggests that Seth Rich was his source.


HAYES:  Which, by the way, I just want to be clear, that is a particularly

despicable thing to do.


ISIKOFF:  Absolutely.


HAYES:  Because the whole thing that they always say, WikiLeaks, we don`t

say anything about  sources.  And that`s what everyone says, every reporter

says that.


To imply a guy who has been killed was your source, I mean, that is really



ISIKOFF:  We talked to the Dutch TV reporter who interviewed Assange for

that interview, and he was astounded by what Assange was saying.  He

couldn`t grasp it.  This is episode two in our podcast.  You`ve got to

listen to the exchange he has with Assange, and his reaction to what

Assange is saying.


And you know what was really particularly cynical about what Assange was

doing?  Seth Rich was killed on July 10th.  We know from the Mueller report

and the indictment when the GRU online persona Guccifer 2.0 sends that

archive of emails, it was July 14th.  It was four days after Seth Rich was



So Assange knew from the get-go that…


HAYES:  He was lying.


ISIKOFF:  …Seth Rich could not have been his source.


HAYES:  And it`s – it`s this – I mean, I should also say that my beloved

magazine, The Nation,

that I worked at for years and on the masthead ran – also ran stories

dabbling in this.  Like, this got to lots of places.  There were left

venues that adopted it, there were conservative venues, all the way up to

Sean Hannity and local news stations.  I mean, this was everywhere.


ISIKOFF:  And we should point out, the Trump White House.  We have text

messages from Steve Bannon.


HAYES:  This is crazy.


ISIKOFF:  Huge story.  It was a contract kill, obviously.


HAYES:  He`s texting a CBS journalist saying this was a contract killing.




HAYES:  Like, this becomes – this hearkens back to the Whitewater years

when, you know, the head of the oversight committee Dan Burton is shooting

a melon in his backyard.


No, seriously.


ISIKOFF:  It`s very similar.


HAYES:  This idea that like the Clintons are on this, like, murder spree.


ISIKOFF:  Right, right, right.


Look, I mean, this was in many ways the cruelest conspiracy theory to arise

out of the 2016 election.  We talked to the parents.  And it`s heart

rendering when you listen to them.  You know, Mary

Rich, the mother of Seth Rich, says this is like losing my son all over

again, which she has been subjected to, to see her son`s reputation and

name sullied in this, you know, bizarre crazed conspiracy  theory.


HAYES:  And they`ve had to fight tooth and nail.  I mean, I think they

filed lawsuits and eventually got Sean Hannity to apologize and essentially

stop promulgating this.


ISIKOFF:  I don`t know if you can call it an apology.  He did say…


HAYES:  He was walking away from it.


ISIKOFF:  …Seth Rich – out of respect for the family, he was not going

to continue to promote it.


HAYES:  And the entire thing was a seed planted by Russian intelligence?


ISIKOFF:  Yes.  Yes.  And that is the astounding thing about this.


HAYES:  It is wild.  It is wild.


I mean, because sometimes you think, look, we`ve got enough – we don`t

need the Russian to like cede us with nutty ideas.  There is enough just

organically.  And we don`t need them to cede us  with divisions online,

there is enough organically.


But here is like a concrete example, it was them.  They started it.


ISIKOFF:  It was them.  It`s an old tradition.  It goes back to Cold War

days, active measures promoting conspiracy theories.


HAYES:  All right, Michael Isikoff, great reporting.  Check out the

podcast.  Thank you.


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

now.  Good evening, Rachel.







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