Panel on covering Trump in the media. TRANSCRIPT: 8/30/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

David Farenthold, Jelani Cobb, Danielle Moodie-Mills, Josh Marshall

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  That`s HARDBALL for the week.  Have a nice

three-day weekend.  Up next, the special edition of ALL-IN with Chris Hayes

in front of a live studio audience that starts right now.




ANNOUNCER:  Tonight in a special edition of ALL IN, the fight to change the

system that elected Donald Trump, the Pulitzer Prize-Winning reporter who

uncovered the scope of Trump`s corruption, retiring Republican Congressman

Will Hurd, and what if the news media just stopped covering this guy.



to happen.


ANNOUNCER:  Now, live from Studio 6A in Rockefeller Plaza, here`s Chris





CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  How are you?  How are you doing, buddy?  Good to

see you.   All right, we are – we are back here live in 30 Rock second

week in a row, a little summer Fridays situation we`re doing.  It`s great

to have you all here.  Thank you.


So the Republicans this week were attacking Democratic Congresswoman-elect

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and in their defense, they do that every week.  I

don`t know why she drives them nuts for some reason.  This week they were

attacking her because she went after an institution that has become kind of

sacred I think to Republicans and that`s the Electoral College.


AOC`s argument was basically that the Electoral College unfairly diminishes

the voting power of some Americans and therefore is incompatible with our

basic democratic commitments.  That was the argument.  Republicans flipped

out, all right.  They went after her very hard.


Trump T.V. did a bunch of segments about it.  The Trump campaign – there`s

a freshman Republican, a guy by the name of Dan Crenshaw from Texas, he

tweeted her that we live in a republic not a democracy.  You probably heard

that before and that – and this is a “51 percent doesn`t get to boss

around 49 percent.


We`ll talk a bit of (INAUDIBLE).  And then the President`s campaign took it

to a totally new level.  They set this totally insane e-mail, a fundraising

e-mail out to their list basically accusing AOC because she was advocating

for majority rule of attempting a coup to disenfranchise Republican



They explicitly say in this e-mail.  This is our country, not theirs.  Yes,

questionable.  Democrats would – what`s called rather change the rules so

they`re elite friends in New York and California can regain their power. 

And this I think actually has become a major fault line.  In fact, one of

the most profound fault lines in our – in the history of American



And it`s basically this, do we actually really believe in democracy, right? 

The question before us now in the Electoral College question is, are we

going to actually live up to the promise of one person one vote.


Now, to be fair, it is not surprising the Republicans are defending the

Electoral College, right.  There`s a very obvious reason for that.  Since

1992 we have had seven presidential elections.  Republicans have won the

popular vote one time but they`ve gotten three presidents out of it which

is a very sweet deal if you`re the Republican Party, right.


You can see why on just basic tactical grounds why the Republican Party

would want to continue a system in which they can lose a majority of votes

and still get all the powers the presidency appointing the Supreme Court

justices and judges and signing legislation, vetoing legislation,

commanding the army, everything, right.  All of that with less votes than

the Democrat got.


No wonder they like.  But I think there`s actually a deeper philosophical

thing happening which is the question of what exactly American democracy is

for.  And the weirdest thing about the Electoral College is the fact that

it wasn`t specifically in the Constitution for the presidency, it would be



Here`s what I mean by that.  Starting the 1960s, 1961 particularly, the

Supreme Court started developing a jurisprudence of one-person one-vote,

right.  The idea is that each individual vote has to carry roughly the same

amount of weight as each other individual vote which is a pretty intuitive

concept but it was not a reality.


There are all sorts of crazy representational systems that were created

that would not give one-person-one-vote and would disenfranchise certain

minorities.  You can guess which ones.  Here`s an example.  Let`s say you

got a city, it`s 60 percent black and it`s 40 percent white, OK.  Here`s

how you ensure white people stay in charge.


Divided the city into four voting districts, right, but you put the entire

black population in one district 60 percent of the people.  And then each

district elects one City Council member and voila, now the city council for

a majority black city is run by a majority white government.  This kind of

thing they did all over the south and all over the country, right.


And finally, the Supreme Court says no, you can`t do that.  You cannot just

come up with crazy systems of representation to essentially stymie the

basic principle of majority rule.  And over the course of decades, they

strike down representation system after representation system because it

doesn`t meet the standard they have articulated.


Even this city, New York City`s long-standing system of government got

struck down in 1989 because we had this borough president system where like

200 – two million people in the Bronx and 5,000 people in Staten Island

each had a borough president.  The court is like, you can`t do it.


So the basic principle of one person one vote, the candidate with the most

votes wins, those are the basic principles that are applied everywhere in

the United States every single election from dog catcher, to state senator,

to governor, up to two institutions, the two most powerful, United States

Senate, right.  And this might be for another show but you may have noticed

the same number of senators represent the 40 million people of California

and the half a million people of Wyoming, not really one-person-one-vote,

and then, of course, the other institution, the presidency.


Now take a step back for a second and just ponder how preposterous it is

that for the most powerful office that`s the case, right.  Like if you run

for class president in the fourth grade, you are elected if and only if you

get the most votes.  Every election.  If you run for sheriff or mayor or

governor or senator, you win if you get the most votes.  That`s it.  That`s

the principle.  There`s one exception, the President of the United States.


Now, there are all kinds of people who will tell you this is good for all

sorts of reasons and they are all wrong.  A few things to note, one the

idea that historically this had anything to do with like the representation

of the rural areas against the urban elites is bunk.  America was as you

might recall, pretty darn rural at the time of the Constitution is

drafting, right.


The real genesis of the Electoral College was the belief shared by a lot of

the founders that ordinary people were dumb and couldn`t be trusted to

elect a president.  So instead, people would elect electors who would, in

turn, convene and pick like a wise man.


Alexander Hamilton among others did not want normal people choosing the

president.  He was very clear about this.  They wanted a “small number of

persons to do it.”  But the whole idea of the Electoral College is some

kind of delivered body where they would meet, they`d come up with his wise

person, it collapsed very quickly.  We`ve never even really had that

system.  It has been outdated since basically the third election the

country had.


And the other thing you hear all the time – and this is what Dan Crenshaw

says is that what they do is they look at this map, Trump says this too. 

They look at how this map is and they say to you, how else can we get

presidents to listen to these vast swaths of the country, right.  You see

this map?  You`ve seen this map before?  This is a map that Donald Trump



It is, in fact, a map that is up in the White House.  No seriously.  It`s

like the first thing they put up, OK.  But here`s the thing.  This is a map

of land not of human beings.  And it is true, here`s the worst part, it is

true that in the United States Constitution, thanks to the Senate and the

Electoral College, land gets to vote like, the actual soil Wyoming, the

acreage of South Dakota, the square plots of the vast expanse of Utah, they

get votes because they are land.


It`s weird when you think about it but that`s the way it works.  And that`s

why you get these maps, and that`s why the president likes these maps.  He

thinks it shows how much American loves him.  In reality, this is a map of

a minority of the country.  There are way, way, way more people in the blue

areas than in the red areas right.


In this map, this exact map, right, Hillary Clinton got three more –

million more votes than Donald Trump.  That is what protecting the

Electoral College has become all about.  It`s about the fact that one of

the major political collisions in American life doesn`t want Americans a

majority of them to run the country because they fear, they know, they

suspect deep down that they are in the minority.


And that brings us back to Dan Crenshaw who says that the nature of

American constitutional government is because we are republic not a

democracy, the 51 percent can`t boss around the 49 percent.  But what he

and his party are advocating is a world in which the 49 percent boss around

the 51 percent.  And that that is both anti-democratic and perverse.


America is a democracy and if one person one vote means anything at all,

it`s time to do something totally radical, and that is this.  Run the

presidential election the way we run every other election.  The person with

the most votes wins.


I should say that democracy relies on more than just one person one vote,

it relies also on free and fair elections.  Joining me now is someone whose

job it is to make that happen, the Head of the Federal Election Commission

Ellen Weintraub.  Hi Ellen!  Come on in.  Have a seat.


I think if you opine too openly about the Electoral College you probably

get fired or removed.  But let me ask you this.  I imagine that the FEC,

you have as a regulatory body of interactions with other country`s

regulatory bodies.  You talk about power system and other systems.  What do

people say from other countries when you`re talking about the Electoral




a lot of folks from other countries particularly developing democracies who

come here to learn and come here to find out how our democracy works.  And

when I have to explain the Electoral College, I always get this kind of

perplexed look.


HAYES:  It`s like a tennis match, and if you win a set, then you get all

the points.


WEINTRAUB:  And then they say, but why do people accept that?  And what I

have historically said is well, in the end, it usually doesn`t matter. 

Historically, most elections, the person who wins the Electoral College is

also the person who wins the popular vote so everybody is happy.


But of course, more recently, that hasn`t been happening all the time.  And

I worry that just like these other countries were – the people from other

countries were confused about it, that people in our own country will come

to feel that the result is not legitimate.


HAYES:  Or just.  You run a body that has to essentially play the role of

watchdog of American Federal Elections, right?  So what do you see is the

kind of big challenges or threats for this baseline we talked about in

other parts of the world where we`re doing election monitoring free and

fair elections in the United States?


WEINTRAUB:  Well, people have to feel like they are represented, like they

have a voice in their government.  And that is I think the most important

part of our election.  Of course, I worry about a lot of things in

connection with our election.


Right now, we have a lot of serious threats to our election like what`s

going on abroad.  We saw this in 2016, the entire Intelligence Community

has been very clear on this that there were folks in Russia in particular,

malign foreign actors who are trying to influence our election, and our

elections really are for American citizens.  So that is I would say my

biggest concern right now.


HAYES:  You know, there`s – that relates to the first thing you said to me

which is that the kind of fundamental thing that a democratic system rests

upon is psychological almost, right?  That it`s a sense of the people that

the results are legitimate.  It`s legitimate – you know, there`s

transparency there`s rules, but there`s some deep sense legitimacy.


What do you think – you sort of quite famously came out and not by name

but kind of refuted the president multiple times.  You wrote him a letter. 

You went on T.V. when he has talked about widespread voter fraud, people

voting twice, stolen votes.  What does that do to that kind of core sense

of legitimacy?


WEINTRAUB:  Well, I think it really challenges it.  And I think that this

is a canard that`s been out there for a long time.  It`s not unique to the

president.  It`s not – and it shouldn`t be a partisan issue.  We need to

know, American citizens need to know that their elections are fair and that

the government represents them.  That`s the most important piece of this.


And when these stories are promulgated that there are people who are voting

who shouldn`t be voting, then people really question whether the results

are right, whether it – not only are they fair but are they accurate?


And people have looked into this.  There have been study after study about

this.  And after the 2014 election, one scholar looked at the data.  He

looked at the data from 2000 to 2014, over a billion votes.  And out of

that billion votes, he was able to find 31 instances of potential voter

fraud.  This is infinitesimal.


The nonpartisan Brennan Center here in New York has estimated that you are

more likely to be struck by lightning than to engage in in-person voter

fraud.  It just doesn`t happen.  And indeed why would it, because it makes

no sense.  You would have to convince millions of people – millions of

people would have to risk going to jail every single one of them to change

one vote.


HAYES:  This is exactly right.  You – if you`ve ever worked – if you`ve

been around organizers, people trying to get people to vote for real.  Like

it`s hard enough to get people to actually vote.  It`s very hard for people

to vote.  The idea that you can run some scheme where you got people to

fake vote or pretend to vote is just preposterous.


Your body, the FEC is in the news today.  And I`m glad that we have you

here on what`s the last day for the FEC?




HAYES:  This is – OK, so I`m going to show you the headlines where people

caught up on this.  It`s going to be a crisis turning out the lights at the

undermanned FEC –


WEINTRAUB:  Underperson –


HAYES:  Underperson, I`m sorry, that was – I was reading for the record. 

But what is going on the FEC that you are now essentially short a quorum

and can`t do anything, explain.


WEINTRAUB:  OK.  So the FEC by law is supposed to have six members by law

and no more than three of them can be of any one political party, and it

takes four to make a quorum, to make most decisions at the agency.  For the

last couple of years, we`ve been down bodies.  We lost one a couple of

years ago, we lost another one a year and a half ago, and they haven`t been



And this week on Monday, actually I was just about to leave town for an FEC

conference and I got the news that one of my colleagues was resigning as of

this weekend, and that will leave us with only three.


HAYES:  So four goes down to three.  You don`t have a quorum.


WEINTRAUB:  We don`t have a quorum.


HAYES:  So does that just mean like we don`t have election monitor in



WEINTRAUB:  Not – well, not entirely.  So first of all, I want to say that

we have a terrific staff of dedicated public servants who will continue to

come to work every day.  The core mission of the FEC is to make sure that

we have disclosure of who`s behind the money.


We are the original follow the money agency that was created after

Watergate, and we track all the money, put it up on the web, and make sure

that every American citizen can find out who is supporting which candidate

and what they`re spending their money on.  And that will go on.  However,

there are rules and laws about all of this.


HAYES:  That gets interpreted by you and your colleagues if you have a

quorum and you don`t have that.


WEINTRAUB:  Right.  And people can file complaints, any citizen can file a

complaint and our staff will analyze, it and then it will be teed up for a

decision by the Commission, and the Commission won`t be able to make that



HAYES:  Probably a good idea if we get that up and running in the event in



WEINTRAUB:  That would be good.


HAYES:  Ellen Weintraub, everybody.  Thank you very much.  I appreciate it.


WEINTRAUB:  Thank you.


HAYES:  Coming up, a Republican member of Congress who is calling it quits. 

Will Hurd of Texas is here next.  Don`t go anywhere.




HAYES:  We`re watching closely on a big story this week about the border

wall and the President being so obsessed with the wall that Mexico was

going to pay for and Congress wouldn`t pay for, that he`s been telling

subordinates to just break the law in order to get it done.  That even

includes just basically just stealing land from ranchers.


He`s quoted in the articles saying take the land, also suggesting he would

pardon anyone who followed his directions to break the law which the White

House was quick to say was a joke.  Trump is joking when he makes such

statements about pardons.


But if you want to know how popular this obsessive lawless wall building

agenda is along the actual southern border where it`s supposed to be built,

here`s one data point.  The only Republican to represent a district along

the southwest border who squeaked out a narrow victory in 2018 has decided

to retire.  Joining me now is that Republican, Congressman Will Hurd

Republican from Texas.


REP. WILL HURD (R-TX):  Just for the record, those two things don`t have to

be connected, right?


HAYES:  Yes.




HAYES:  Well, I`m going to say that`s why you leave.  You can tell me later

whether that`s the case.  But when I read that up that that quote “take the

land,” I thought that doesn`t seem like it would play really well in the

Texas border area you represent.  Am I wrong about that?


HURD:  Look, there`s a little thing that we care about in the great state

of Texas and that`s called Private Property Rights.  And there`s going to

be a couple of people – there`s going to be a few ranchers that have an

opinion on this topic.


And look, I represent 828 miles of the border.  I represent 29 counties,

two-time stones.  It takes ten and a half hours for me to drive from one

district – one part of my district to the other at 80 miles an hour which

is actually the speed limit and most of the district.  I found out recently

it`s not the speed limit in all of the districts.


And I spent almost a decade, nine and a half years as an undercover officer

in the CIA.  I was the dude in the back alleys at 4:00 in the morning

collecting intelligence on threats in our homeland, stopping terrorists,

preventing Russians from stealing our secrets, putting nuclear weapon

proliferators out of business.


So I know a few things about stopping bad guys, all right.  And building a

wall from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and least effective way

to do border security.


HAYES:  I mean, it`s very clear the wall – and there`s even reporting on

this, right?  The wall was created almost as a mnemonic device the

president would remember to talk about the border and immigration, and then

he turned it into this real obsession.  Like have you tried to communicate

the basic factual case about the not – the lack of need for an 800-mile

wall to the White House?


HURD:  I have when John Kelly was the head of DHS and then ultimately Chief

of Staff, we`ve had a number of conversations.  And there are some parts of

the border where a physical barrier actually makes sense.  But there`s also

a lot of parts of the border where Border Patrol`s response time to a

threat is measured in hours to days.


So if you`re trying to respond to a threat and it takes you hours or days,

that`s – that wall is not going to be a physical barrier.  Now, there`s a

problem.  You have you know, $35 billion with the B, worth of drugs coming

into our country illegally.  We know that the humanitarian crisis that`s

going along the border.


We should be able to defend our borders and we should know what`s going

back and forth across our border.  And the way we do that is technology. 

The way we do that is additional manpower.


HAYES:  So – but let me just sort of on those two points, right?  So drugs

and people coming.  We know that most drugs comes from ports of entry,



HURD:  That`s correct.


HAYES:  So it`s not – people are not driving to some part of the desert

and bringing – the cartels are sophisticated enough.  They have enough

people they can bribe and get over on to actually drive them through the

ports of entry.


HURD:  So here`s what I would say.  A lot of the drugs are coming, indeed

coming through our ports of entry and we should be plussing up the

technology that we use in there because we can`t facilitate the movement of

goods and services at the same time and stop bad guys and prevent

contraband from coming in.


But we also don`t know what the denominator is in the amount of drugs that

are coming in because we have no clue what`s happening in other parts of

these areas.  You can see – and you made a point about the Narco

Traficante`s, the drug cartels, they have – they`re making $35 billion in

the United States.  That means they`re larger than McDonald`s and



And so they have the technology – you`re seeing them fly things in with

drones.  You`re seeing them bringing in with – through our sea.  Here`s

another problem, Coast Guard.  Coast Guard is only able to action 25

percent of the known intelligence on drugs coming into our coast.  So that

means 75 percent where they know something is not happening.  So let`s pay

the money on those kinds of things that are going to stop this –


HAYES:  So let me – but even the logic of more enforcement, right, more

manpower, we have seen that over time.  I mean, it`s gone up every year. 

And I`ve talked to people a lot of times.  You know, we used to have

migration in this country that was seasonal, that people move back and

forth.  And one of the things that happened is when you up border

enforcement, you don`t just keep people out, you keep people in, right?


We have seen – actually, there`s a direct correlation.  The more you

enforce that border, the harder you make it to get across that border, the

more that people who used to come for six months and then go back, come for

a year and go back, they stopped doing that.  And my question to you is the

president clearly sees the border in this almost neurotic way of like a

place where like germs get in.


And so he`s like, well when I breathe I might get germs so I`m going to

stop breathing.  But it`s like the border is a good thing.  The things that

come into the border aren`t just bad things.


HURD:  They`re not.  You`re – look, we should be you know, defending our

border, but also we should be facilitating legal immigration, right.


HAYES:  Expanding it, do think it`s –


HURD:  Absolutely.  The United States of America has benefited from the

brain drain of every other country for the last couple of decades.  Let`s

continue that.  It`s a great crowd by the way.


HAYES:  You got them – you got them applauding private property and the

CIA in the first minute.  You`re a pretty good politician.  Why are you



HURD:  I`m retiring because I`m looking to help my country in a different



HAYES:  I know that`s what you say, but why are you really retiring?


HURD:  I want to help – I want to make sure there`s 15, 20 folks like me

that are in Washington D.C. and the only way to do that –


HAYES:  What do you mean by that?


HURD:  – is to go help Republicans and Republican primaries, right.  And

so we know how to do that.  That`s what I`ve been doing for the last three

election cycles.  Also, my background and passion is national security,

it`s technology, to be able to continue working at that nexus in a number

of different ways, I`m looking forward to do that.


And I – look, I left the CIA in order to help my country in a different

way.  In addition to collecting intelligence, I had two brief members of

Congress and I was pretty shocked by the caliber of our elected officials. 

And my mama said you`re part of the problem, part of the solution so I

decided to run then.


And so now I think I can help my country in a different way, politically

working on these – on these issues because we have some generational

challenges that we have to deal.


HAYES:  I want to end with this quote that you talked to Log Cabin

Republicans, it`s a conservative GOP group.  You said, this is a party that

is shrinking.  The party is not growing is for the largest parts for a

country.  Why is that?  I`ll tell you, it`s really simple.  Don`t be an A-

hole, don`t be racist, don`t be a misogynist, don`t be a homophobe.  These

are real basic things, the things we should all learn when we were in

kindergarten.  Is that directed at anyone?


HURD:  I was – I was just speaking my mind, right.  And we look at in

Texas.  I always tell my colleagues in Texas, if the Republican Party in

Texas doesn`t start looking like Texas, there`s not going to be a

Republican Party in Texas.


HAYES:  That`s right.


HURD:  And that can – that can apply for the – to the rest of the

country.  And so my goal is to go in – and look, I go to communities.  I

consistently win – I`m a black Republican representing a 71 percent Latino

district, right.


And so you know, what I`ve learned crisscrossing a district that`s actually

50-50, 50 percent Republican, 50 percent Democrat is that the way more

unites us than divides us.  And if we focus on those things that we agree

on we can solve real problems.


HAYES:  All right, Congressman Will Hurd of Texas, thank you very much.  I

appreciate it.  Next, there`s been a president – there never been more

corrupt president in our lifetime.  The reason we know that is because

there`s one reporter just never stops digging.  He is here with us.  Don`t

go away.




HAYES:  You remember that weird moment back in January 2016, it was during

the primaries, when Donald Trump was in a fight with Fox News, and he

decided to skip their debate, and instead held a fund-raiser for veterans,

and he bragged that he raised $6 million for the vets, including a million

from his own pocket, and then started handing out these huge novelty checks

on the campaign trail.


But here is the thing, he stiffed veterans.  He didn`t – it was the

craziest thing.  So one reporter at The Washington Post just started

running around trying to find out exactly where the money went.  And what

he found out was that Donald Trump hadn`t donated all that at all.  The

reporter basically shamed him into giving the money, and then we – pretty

good.  And then we went on to elect that guy president, and the one who

reported it got a Pulitzer.  And he has now become the foremost reporter on

the scope of the president`s corruption and his conflicts of interest,

David Farenthold joins me now.




HAYES:  So you start on this journey where the president says I gave a

million dollars.  And you think where is that?  You start calling up





HAYEDS:  At a certain point, the president calls you.  He is candidate at

that point.  Is that right?


FARENTHOLD:  Yeah, he called me.  And so at this point, his campaign had

said he had given a million dollars to veterans, but I couldn`t find any

evidence that he had.  I spent all this time looking,  calling every

veterans organization I could think of, every person who knew a veteran I

could think of, I couldn`t find any evidence he had given the money out.


And so Trump called me.  And Trump said then, OK, you know, 10 minutes ago

I gave a million dollars away to this…


HAYES:  Happy now?


FARENTHOLD:  Yeah, right.


And it was one of the strangest conversations I`ve ever had, because it

didn`t end there.  There was a bunch of other people`s money that other

people had given him that he was still sitting on that he said he would

give to veterans.  And so while I had him on the phone, I would say, well,

OK, you know, where is that money?  And he would – it`s this weird

interaction where he would say, instead of

answering the question, he would say “you`re a nasty person.”  Your the

worst person ever.  Like, what`s the point in arguing about that?


First of all, I can`t be the worst person ever.  But also, what`s the point

in arguing a bout that.  So, I would say OK, thank you, Mr. Candidate. 

Let`s go back to the subject of these donations.  And he would sort of

briefly reset and answer the question sort of semi-factually or address it

factually, but then devolve into insults again.


We did that five or six times before the interview was over.


HAYES:  And so then – so, after this big kind of – you discovered this. 

He said he gave a million dollars, he didn`t, and then he has to give it. 

And then your editor Marty Baron has a conversation with you about how to

make this a beat.


FARENTHOLD:  Right.  This had been sort of a one-off kind of a hobby for

me.  It was not like somebody said go write about Donald Trump`s charitable

giving.  But Marty said that.  And said, OK, well, under the microscope of

a presidential campaign, this is the brightest spotlight we have in

American journalism.  This guy tried to stiff veterans, the most honored

group in our society.  And if he is willing to try that under the

microscope we have on him now, what was he doing before when it was just

Entertainment Tonight keeping him honest, you know?


HAYES:  Right.  Right.




HAYES:  You – so, you do this great reporting on the foundation throughout

the campaign.  There is this great – there is all these amazing colorful

details, one of them is he keeps buying big

portraits of himself with – we have the portrait of foundation money.  He

uses foundation money to buy big portraits of himself and then puts him in

his property, and there is no money that ever goes to – there is not real

charity there.


FARENTHOLD:  Well, so this is what happened.  People, often at Mar-a-Lago,

this sort of as a side entertainment, they`ll have like an auction of

paintings or whatever.  And I think the artists had learned that if you

paint a picture of Donald Trump, he has to buy it, because no one else will

buy it, and then it`s just sitting there unsold.  And so he would buy these

paintings of himself. 


And this is a charity auction, right, so if he wants to spend $20,000,

which is what it was in one  case, to buy a giant picture of himself, the

money goes to charity.  The problem is that he didn`t use his own money, he

used his charity`s money to buy, to save him money, OK.  And now you do

that, if your  charity buys the painting, that painting is now a charitable

asset and must be used for charitable purposes.


So that became an important question.  Where is this painting?  Is it

hanging on the wall of a  children`s hospital some place?  Not that you

would endorse that, but that would at least  be…


HAYES:  That`s not very charitable.  I mean…


FARENTHOLD:  In a legal sense it would be.


HAYES:  Children`s oncology ward, like.


FARENTHOLD:  Right, right.


So we needed to know where it was, what purpose is it serving.  And so

after a long search using Twitter, one of my Twitter followers found it

hanging on the wall of his golf resort at Doral, future site of the Group

of Seven summit.


HAYES:  We`re going to talk it.


Well, so you do this, and basically now the foundation has been shut down

by the state authorities.


FARENTHOLD:  The New York attorney general has basically shuddered it.




FARENTHOLD:  They`re going to shut it down as soon as they can figure out

how to distribute it`s – the court will supervise the distribution of its



HAYES:  What is – you then move into a different sort of part of this

beat, which is the foundation`s relatively small.  And it`s a small world. 

And you can kind of track down – they both have to have public filings,

and you can track down some other folks that are involved in it.


Now we have a president who has a vast business empire that he is not

really that disconnected  from.  What have you been able to find out about

that part of his finances?


FARENTHOLD:  You`re right that that`s been a much more difficult task,

because it`s unlike the charity, a lot of its assets and details are much

better hidden.


But we spend a lot of time on it now.  And what we know is a lot of it is

not doing very well.  And we spend a lot of time trying to identify on the

logic that if his business does worse, he could become more desperate for

favors or other people seeking to help him through his business, right?


You`d rather have a president – as bad as it sounds, you maybe would

rather have a president getting rich off his business than a president

losing money and needing help with his business.


HAYES:  You know, I have never heard you articulate that as the – so your

theory of the case is a desperate in debt spiraling downward president

would be dangerous from a corruption perspective or a foreign influence

perspective because they might be desperate to do whatever they can to get

loans or gifts or money to stay afloat.


FARENTHOLD:  Right.  You at least – as an American, you would want to know

that, right?


HAYES:  Yes.  Yes.  I think that`s fair to say.  Sure, yeah.


FARENTHOLD:  Is the president trying to, you know, pay off a loan on

Friday?  You know, w hat will he do if he`s in that kind of desperation?


So, we`ve looked a at lot of his businesses.  And I still can`t tell you if

the whole business is making money or losing money, but a lot of his

businesses are doing poorly.  Some of them have shut down.  He has lost

hotels.  So we`ve spent a lot of time trying to understand that piece of it

as well as who is putting money in.


HAYES:  Well, that part has been really interesting.  So you`ve had a few

stories that – and we`ve covered on the show.  And I think, you know,

almost ipso facto merit, if not impeachment, real, real scrutiny, right,

pose real constitutional threats.


I mean, I think you have two stories, at least one and maybe two stories

about Saudis just dumping a ton of money into his hotels.


FARENTHOLD:  That`s right, there are at least two instances of that.  One

Saudi lobbyists, right after he gets elected, they`re running this sort of

bogus lobbying campaign where they would fly  American veterans into

Washington and have them lobby congress for a bill that the Saudis secretly

opposed – against a bill – they were doing the Saudis` bidding without

knowing it.


HAYES:  Right, it`s this weird thing where you have got veterans who get

flown out to lobby against a bill the Saudis want to kill.  They don`t know

they`re doing it at the behest of the Saudis.  The Saudis are putting the

money and putting them up in the Trump Hotel.


FARENTHOLD:  500 hotel rooms.


HAYES:  500 hotel rooms.


FARENTHOLD:  500 hotel rooms over the course of three months at the Trump

Hotel, plus banquet halls, meals, all kinds of things.  It was at least



HAYES:  I mean, just to put it in context, if we found out that MBS had

written a check to Donald Trump for $270,000, which is not obviously there

is some expenses here, but if we found out that the Saudi prince had

written the president a check for $270,000, that would obviously be…




HAYES:  The biggest story in the world, right?




And I think we are just trying to – like we`re just starting to understand

how it works with

Trump, right.  I mean, maybe somebody is writing him checks, I don`t know. 

I`ve never seen that.  But there are ways that people get money to him

through his businesses.  His businesses are 100 percent owned by him, so

you pay his business $270,000, that`s a personal asset of his.


And you`re right, there is expenses, it`s not $270,000 of pure profit, but

that`s money that goes to a pot that he controls.


HAYES:  It`s not just that, too, it`s the fact that when you do 500 rooms

of business, or in the case of the Trump Hotel here in New York, when the

Saudi family came through and I think you reported that they put them in

the black for the quarter, right?


FARENTHOLD:  Yeah, so the Trump Hotel in New York on Central Park West has

not been doing very well.  It`s been losing a lot of business.  But they

wrote this letter to their investors at the beginning of last year saying

great news, for once we made a profit for the quarter.  And the reason was

one group of Saudi travelers traveling with the crown prince.  They stayed

for five days.  They spent so much, the whole hotel made money for the



HAYES:  So, there are two things about that that are problematic.  One, the

constitution`s emoluments clause, the idea of – but, two, in both the

cases you can imagine the information getting back to the president, right. 

I mean, it would be one thing if this was happening and he was blind to

it all.  He doesn`t know where the money is coming from, but when they

write an investment letter to investors saying we had a great quarter

because the Saudis came through or 500 rooms get booked, there is a

plausible case that it gets back to him.


FARENTHOLD:  Right.  That`s one thing we`ve really been interested in.  And

I can`t tell you that much about is what information gets to him and how it

gets to him, right.  So, if the Saudis spend that much money and they tell

their investors about it, does that go to him?  Who tells him.  That

communication between the business and Trump is something I still don`t

understand very well.


HAYES:  In both those cases, you got scoops.  You got tips.  There is –

correct me if I`m wrong, there is no real way to look into the president`s

finances right now?


FARENTHOLD:  No.  I mean, not in any sort of holistic way.  I can tell you

how this business is doing or that business is doing, but the whole

shebang, no.


HAYES:  You mentioned this earlier, the president started the week by

getting up in front of a

microphone and promoting Doral, which is his property in Florida, as the

site of the next G7.  How is Doral doing?


FARENTHOLD:  Not well.  Really poorly, actually.  Doral, it`s important to

know at the start, Doral is a huge part of his finances.  It`s a big hotel. 

But unlike other hotels, he owns it directly, so all the revenue goes to



HAYES:  It`s not a franchise.


FARENTHOLD:  Exactly.  And so it`s the biggest source of revenue of all of

his hotels.  It has one of the biggest loans.  And since 2015, it has been,

in the words of Trump`s own representatives, severely under-performing. 

Profits have gone down 69 percent since 2015.  And the reason, it was

actually great, we got this video of Trump`s representative talking to

Miami-Dade County in search of a

lower tax valuation, but she was explaining why the hotel was doing so

poorly.  And she basically, the reason is Trump.  The reason is the brand. 

There is a negative connotation on the brand.


So this is a hotel that needs help.




FARENTHOLD:  This is a hotel that could use a big influx of revenue.  I

mean, even if it didn`t push into profitability, just a bunch of revenue to

keep the lights on would be hugely welcome there.


HAYES:  Final question, the investigative reporting genie pops out of the

lamp and he comes to you, David Farenthold.  And he says David, I grant you

one wish.  You get to look at any set of documents you want.


FARENTHOLD:  We`re limiting to Trump Org, I guess. 


HAYES:  Yeah, yeah. 


FARENTHOLD:  Are there UFOs or not.


I mean, I guess what I`d want to know is how is the business doing overall

and if it needs financial help, where does that financial help come from. 

Have they ever gone to anybody outside their company, outside of the

sources of money that we know about which are Deutsche Bank and other

public lenders.  Have they ever reached out beyond that for financial help,

either during the presidency and the years preceding the presidency?


HAYES:  Great question.  Maybe we`ll get an answer some day.  David

Farenthold, thanks for  being with us.




HAYES:  Next up, what if we all just ignore the president?  That`s our

discussion when we  return.




HAYES:  We recently had a kind of unicorn day in the Trump era.  These are

the front pages of

today`s three major newspapers, OK.  Look at them.  You notice anything? 

None of these paper have Donald Trump on them.  He is in none of the

headlines.  That is exceedingly rare in the era of the ubiquitous



And guess what, he wasn`t on the front of yesterday`s papers either.  Look,

same three papers. 


Here is a question I think for both Democratic candidates, Democratic

strategists who are thinking about how to beat Donald Trump and the media

thinking about how to cover him, particularly during the campaign and when

it wraps up, is all the attention good for Donald Trump or bad for Donald

Trump?  Is it good for him not to be on the front page or bad for him not

to be on the front page?  I think it`s incredibly intense debate in terms

of how it all sorts out.  The actors in the media and political system and

how they relate to the president.


Here to talk about it, Josh Marshall, editor and publisher of  Talking

Points memo; Danielle Moodie-Mills, host of SiriusXM`s weekly political

show Woke AF; and Jelani Cobb, staff writer at The New Yorker.  Give them a





HAYES:  So, let me just first stipulate that when he`s not – it`s bad for

him psychologically when he`s not the source of attention, like that we

know.  Politically, less attention paid on Donald Trump, is that good or

bad for Donald Trump, Danielle?

it`s good for country but


DANIELLE MOODIE-MILLS, HOST, WOKE AF:  It`s – I mean, it`s good for the

country, but it`s bad for Donald Trump.  I mean, Donald Trump has a very

fragile ego.  And so when he is not in the press, he does his best to make

news, which is when he goes on his Twitter rants.


HAYES:  Right, but I mean, politically, like if you are looking at – if

you were advising him as a political strategist and he was a person who was



MOODIE-MILLS:  And I was not a reality TV show producer.


HAYES:  Yes.  Exactly, if it wasn`t reality TV, if you are trying to get

his approval rating up as high as possible, is your advice to him, stay off

the headlines or always be in the headlines?


MOODIE-MILLS:  Stay off of the headlines unless you are executing policy

that is going to benefit the American people, because when he is in the

headlines, it`s generally bad.


HAYES:  Yeah, what do you think? 


JOSH MARSHALL, TALKING POINTS MEMO:  Yeah, I think there`s actually pretty

consistent polling data that Trump, not that often, but he goes through

periods of being relatively normal, right?  And over time, his poll number

go up.  And if you just over the last few weeks with all these different

things happen, notwithstanding the last couple days, he is trending down.


So, all of the antics and stuff, it makes him less popular.  It`s in a

pretty tight bound, but basically, up until now – look the economy during

his presidency, even if it`s not his doing, has

been pretty good.  So, as long as he is just – you are not hearing from

him, the incumbent is popular because the economy is doing well.


I think it`s good for him when he shuts up.


HAYES:  The argument on the other side, right, is that the attention is the

most important commodity of our time, it`s the reason that Facebook is

worth billions of dollars, right, because they get eyeballs and people look

at it, and that even if the polling doesn`t reflect this, there`s a kind of

superpower, and there`s a kind of power conferred on him by all the




malignant charisma to him from the get go and, you know, people have

trafficked on it.  But it`s also – I think there`s a particular democratic

for whom him saying things that are outrageous, him insulting people, him

getting into feuds with people who have comparatively less power than him,

which is everyone in the country, these people really feel that he is

championing them.


But on the other side of it, those of us who are in the actual reality are

more concerned about what this says about policy, like about stability of

the person who has his hand on the control of the economy and military and

so on.


HAYES:  But there`s also a kind of – I feel like there`s a dark, also

compulsive emotional attachment to the villainy.


COBB:  Sure.


HAYES:  Right, like the way that he is – the way he he kind of excavates

for his supporters a sense that they`re embattled and he`s fighting for

them – there`s also a sense, Danielle, for the folks that listen to your

radio or call into it, right, it`s hard for everyone to break the habit of

paying attention.


MOODIE-MILLS:  It is really hard, because you want to be in the know,

because the fear is that when you are not paying attention, that that one

minute that you decide to, I don`t know, walk your dog or take a nap, that

the world is going to end and you will have found out about it on

Twitter.  So, like – so that`s a real fear and anxiety that people say on

a regular basis to me when they call int.  And so they want to be tapped

in, but they`re so tapped out.  It is exhausting following Donald Trump on

a regular basis.




HAYES:  How much – how do you think that – I think that exhaustion is –

I think it`s felt across the political spectrum.  I wonder how you think

that ends up playing politically, right, because the media has to figure

out what`s newsworthy and how do we deal with this person lying all the



Democratic campaign strategists have to figure out, how do you extricate

yourself from the  vortex?  And what do you do, or what do you deliver as a

message to people that are exhausted?


MARSHALL:  Right.  It`s tough.  And we have seen this even with – in the

ways that we interact with our readers and stuff.  There are a lot of

people out there who are very political, very concerned, and a lot of them

saying, I got to turn off a bit.  I feel like I`m drinking poison,



But as people who cover the news, fundamentally we are about the reality of

the situation.  And the reality of the situation is this man is president

of the United States.  He controls the biggest military that has ever

existed in the history of the world.  So I think there is a – there is a

certain strain of thinking of – you know, the sort of higher thinking

journalism, which is, if we just…


HAYES:  He is a sideshow.


MARSHALL:  …ignore this stuff, we`re going to take away the oxygen.  And

it kind of won`t exist.  And I have always thought, kind of before there

was Trump, when there was sort of the subterranean Trumpness that was

everywhere in our politics.  Ignoring that stuff does not make it go away,

it just makes you surprised when it kind of comes up.


So, fundamentally, I don`t think we can ignore it, because it is the

reality of the situation.  And I think that applies to Democrat candidates,

too.  The situation in the country right now is that Donald Trump is the

president of the United States, and that is a crisis.  And if you try to

run a campaign

ignoring that fact…




MARSHALL:  …you are going to seem stupid and irrelevant.


COBB:  So, I mean, the fundamental conflict here is about what you are

doing for ratings or what you are doing as a responsibility.  And our

responsibility is to cover what`s going on at this  extraordinary moment in

our history.  And there`s a temptation – and lots of American institutions


displayed it since November of 2016 – there`s this temptation to just

stick your head in the sand and

pretend that this is all just a regular, normal event.  It is not.  And it

is terrifying.  And people don`t want to tune in to something where they

will be terrified.


But the fact is, we have a responsibility of saying that this is what`s

happening on any  given day.


HAYES:  Right, but the problem with that, right, is that normalcy is almost

– it`s a phenomenon created by repetition.  The phrase I always use is,

you know, the dial only goes to ten, right.  And once you put it up to 10

for long enough, it starts to sound like five.  Like you can only modulate

so much.  And this is the kind of – if everything is a crisis, nothing is

a crisis.  Which is a challenge, right. 


People say, don`t normalize.  But then you don`t want to be histrionic and

constantly being like this is nuts.  This is nuts.


COBB:  Except that given the level of insanity that we have seen just in

his demeanor, in his

rhetoric, we have not seen a corresponding catastrophe in foreign affairs

or in the economy or any other things that we know are super sensitive,

delicate things that require a really fundamentally sane person

at the wheel.


What happens when something like that does happen?  What happens when his

policy toward Iran is driven more by his whim that particular morning or

what someone has said on Fox News that day?


MOODIE-MILLS:  This is actually what – this is Donald Trump`s fundamental

strategy, and it`s the strategy of the Republican Party – when he came

into office, the day after inauguration day, Psychology Today magazine put

out an article called the 11 warning signs of gaslighting.  One of the 11

signs are to lie about everything, because then you believe nothing, right. 

You lie about everything.  You believe nothing.  You discredit agencies. 

You discredit people.  You say, don`t believe your lying eyes, believe the

words coming out of my mouth.  That is fundamentally Donald Trump`s



So, it`s not just the normalization, it is actually the breakdown of

everything that we have come to understand as what makes us a fundamental



HAYES:  And then that becomes the issue for – you know, right now you

talked about this, Josh, in terms of the campaign.  So, you know, they had

this strategy in the midterms.  If you look at the ads, and say the 40

districts they flipped, they are about health – they`re not about Donald

Trump.  They are certainly not about impeachment, they`re certainly not

about the Russia investigation, they are about health care, kitchen table

issues.  Can you do that when you are running for president and he is the

one who is on the ballot?


MARSHALL:  You know, I think you can actually do both.  And I would

actually say, yes, the  messaging down in those districts is going to be

about health care, because that was – that has been the big thing that was

on the table in the first two years.  We can talk about all these more

general issues, but whether you are going to lose your health care, whether

we are going to go back to pre-existing conditions, all that, that was on

the table. 


I think at a basic level, though, everybody knows Trump is president.  And

so it is so overpowering.  And he is overpowering that at a certain level,

you don`t always have to say it, but I do think that you – ignoring

something doesn`t make it go away.


HAYES:  Yeah, you can`t ignore it – you can`t ignore it, but what you have

to do is stand your ground and talk – amidst the vortex, and while the

winds whip, you have to sort of stand in there.  That`s going to be a very

hard thing to do.  It was in 2016. 


Jelani Cobb, Danielle Moodie-Mills, and Josh Marshall, thank you so much

for being here.


That does it for our second ever All In Live here in Studio Six today.  Our

last studio show is next Friday, September 6.  So come, please come be part

of the audience for that.  Tickets are free, you can find them at our

website,  They are available now.  I hope to see you right

here live in New York next Friday.


That`s All In for this evening.  Thank you so much to everyone here.  Thank

you everyone watching at home.  The  Rachel Maddow Show starts right now

with Joy Reid in for Rachel.  Good evening, Joy.








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