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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 04/24/15

Guests: Eleanor Holmes Norton, Cecelia Kang, Robert Costa, SabrinaSiddiqui, Ezra Klein, Debbie Wasserman Schultz

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from Washington, D.C. I`m Chris Hayes. Lots to get to tonight, including the farewell to Eric Holder and the challenges facing his successor. Plus, the unexpectedly sudden collapse of the deal to create the biggest cable company in America. And from attending a reception hosted by two gay hoteliers, to proposing two anti-gay marriage bills, how Ted Cruz is trying to have it all. But we begin tonight with Eric Holder, the nation`s top law enforcement official, the first black man to serve as attorney general, bringing his tenure in that office to a close today. On the very day Holder bid farewell to his colleagues, protest continues just 40 miles north, in Baltimore, Maryland, as police revealed that 25-year-old Freddie Gray who died after suffering a the fatal spine injury in police custody was not properly buckled while in the police transport van. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANTHONY BATTS, BALTIMORE POLICE COMMISSIONER: We know he was not buckled in the transportation wagon as he should have been. No excuses for that, period. We know our police employees failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner multiple times. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: And in Palm Beach, Florida, there is outrage over newly released dash cam video from 2013, showing a police officer firing at an unarmed man paralyzing him from the waist down, appearing to shoot as he fled. While in Dallas, Texas, a grand jury decided not to indict two police officers in the fatal shooting of a 39-year-old schizophrenic man after his mother called the police. Those three stories just a snapshot of one single day in the continuing crisis around racial justice and policing in this country. And there`s been arguably no more prominent national figure actively engaged in a debate than Attorney General Eric Holder. In August of last year, after more than a week of protests following the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Holder himself traveled to the city to speak with law enforcement and community leaders. Months later, he spoke passionately about the need to confront the often challenging relationship between African-American communities and police. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The struggle goes on. And it`s not only Ferguson. There are other communities around our country where we are dealing with relationships that are not what they should be, be they official communities that they are supposed to serve or whether it`s kind of a more personal level. There is enduring legacy that Emmitt Till has left with us that we have to still confront as a nation. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: And this year, Holder followed those remarks of what he called a searing Department of Justice report that found a pattern of abuse in Ferguson`s police and courts that disproportionately harmed African- Americans. His department also opened a civil rights investigation into the death of Eric Garner, the unarmed African-American man killed while being taken into custody by the NYPD in 2014. Most recently, they also opened investigation into the death of one Freddie Gray, who died in Baltimore police custody over the weekend. The final year of Eric Holder`s tenure, the death of African-American men during interactions with police have become a source of national outrage and calls for reform, as well as backlash and a new a social movement organized around the phrase "black lives matter." The question now is, how his successor Loretta Lynch will respond to that same movement? Early reports are that Lynch aims to set a new tone for the department, including, quote, "improving police morale and the finding common ground between law enforcement and minority communities." Joining me now, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, delegate representing Washington, D.C. Congresswoman, you actually introduced Eric Holder at his confirmation hearing. He, of course, served in Washington D.C., was a Washington D.C. resident. You vouched for him from day one, and your reaction to his tenure ending today against the backdrop of what`s happening just 40 miles north of where we`re sitting. REP. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), WASHINGTON, D.C.: Well, first, I feel truly vindicated because of his entire record. I think that with these police matters, he has set Loretta Lynch who just got confirmed up and just the right way. Loretta Lynch like Eric Holder was a U.S. attorney. And she developed a relationship with police that gives her a lot of credibility to take these police matters and reconcile communities with their police. I`ve written the Justice Department because the president had a task force on 2 1st century policing to say, hey, look. Don`t let that lion on the shelf. Take that, give it to local communities because that is where police are, and they will form their own task forces at the local level. You should have police, community and elected officials at the local level. I think you are likely to see her take that kind of approach or something typical -- or something like it, rather than going around to various communities. HAYES: Well, what`s clear to me and I`m curious to hear if you feel is same way is this is not going to away. NORTON: Well, it`s getting worse. It`s coming -- HAYES: Yes. I mean, we just saw reports as it was going to air that an e-mail had gone to the Baltimore Police Department to have officers bring riot gear for the weekend. There`s possibility of other folks being brought in -- state folks being brought in. The funeral is on Monday. I mean, this is not going away. We are living in an era kin which the combination of both video, increased awareness about this, and the fact that America just has a very different situation than any other comparable country in terms of the amount of people that die at the hands of police. There is a complicated reason for that. What role do you want to see the attorney general play in that debate? NORTON: I think it is time for an attorney general to get cities, county counties and their police and their public officials together. And isn`t it interesting that she say this is summer, she is going to in fact visit with communities to try to reconcile communities with their police. HAYES: Did you interpret that report about morale, police morale as an implicit rebuke of the tone that Eric Holder has taken? That perhaps he`s taken too harsh a tone against law enforcement and she feels the need to course correct? NORTON: It has nothing to do with him. It has to do with morale all over the country. I mean, if you were a cop, you can`t look at television in an evening without seeing your fellow police, you know, under siege. So, I don`t think -- yes he went around but that was mostly after Ferguson. This other stuff really has to do with what`s happening at the local level, and the fact that it keeps coming up. And, Chris, I think the reason we know about it is these things weren`t covered as much as they are covered now. Now, when press see that -- and it`s often a black man is shot they run to the scene. And we know about what has been happening all along, what has been happening frankly for centuries. HAYES: Well, and one other thing brought into light by this, particular as we look to Baltimore, where there might be more press this weekend, is in Ferguson, there was a lot of focus on the racial make up of the city council, the mayor of the power structure. You know, Baltimore obviously is African American mayor, African American police chief, and we`re seeing what looks like some pretty -- at least at first glance pretty bad police behavior. NORTON: Terrible. Baltimore is horrible. For sure, she`s dealing with what had been horrible -- the mayor -- had been horrible for decades, but it does how legitimate an issue this is with African-Americans. They don`t care who`s in charge, who`s in charge who`s also directed. And he`s getting the same demonstrations that everybody else got. HAYES: Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, thank you for being here. It`s good to be in your city. NORTON: My pleasure. Welcome to D.C. HAYES: All right. The Eric Holder tour has been going on for a lot longer than planned. Until yesterday, Republicans refused to confirm Loretta Lynch to the position, leaving Holder attorney general for a full five months longer than planned. In a nod to the GOP obstruction holding their boss hostage, Holder and Justice Department staffers started wearing free Eric Holder bracelets. Today, he let his go. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Now, I want to do something here. We have these bands we`ve been wearing for the last whatever number of whatevers. I think I can officially take this off now. (APPLAUSE) I think we can officially say now that Eric Holder is free. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: While Holder may be finally free, he leaves a lasting legacy under his watch. The Justice Department began an effort that may just be the beginning of the end of the war on drugs. After several states legalize marijuana, the DOJ declined to challenge the law, decline to prosecute for the most part people that were selling marijuana in those states. He`s also urged changes to federal sentencing guidelines. Today on his way out, Holder, the highest law enforcement official in the land said plainly, too many people are in prison. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HOLDER: We are a nation that incarcerates too many people for too long and for no good law enforcement reason. It is time -- it is time to change the approaches that we have been using these past 30, 40 years. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Joining me now, Ari Melber, MSNBC`s chief legal correspondent. Ari, you`ve been covering this beat. You talked to Eric Holder. And my question to you is, will we look back 30 years from now into the trajectory of American criminal justice policy and see the Holder era at DOJ as a kind of key inflection point? ARI MELBER, MSNBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: I think certainly, Chris. And, you know, prosecutors do something that is different than other parts of government. They focus explicitly on the past. That`s why it`s so silly when people say it is a time for locking forward, not backwards. Whether that`s about prosecuting torture in financial climbs or the meltdown or anything else, because what prosecutors do day in and day out is look at crimes that have occurred, past tense, and they focus on that. And as you just heard that coming from the chief law enforcement officer, that would understandably be their focus. What was different about Eric Holder here in the context of a failed war on drugs in his view was that while they continue to obviously prosecute a great range of cases, including some drug cases and gang cases and federal enforcement actions, they took time out to have a larger policy about the excesses of that program. And as you mentioned in area of the marijuana and the state reforms, in the area of the mandatory minimums, in the area of prosecutorial discretion and nonviolent offenses, they tried to step away from a punitive incarceration only model, and it`s fair to say he was the first attorney general to do that in this war on drugs era. HAYES: And these are, I think, you know, obviously baby steps in the context of how massive the American criminal justice system is. Two questions come to mind. One is, are we going to see that momentum continue legislatively, which is ultimately where the changes need to be made as opposed to enforcement. And two, Loretta Lynch has been described by everyone as a prosecutor`s prosecutor. Rudy Giuliani came out for her. Do you anticipate seeing that trajectory continued under her. MELBER: I think she will hold the line on a lot of reforms. I would not expect from what we know about her that she would be rolling this back. And at policy, of course, this is part of the larger Obama administration. So, we should expect some continuity there. Having said, yes, her reputation, look, they`re both former prosecutors. Here reputation in Brooklyn, as you know, Chris, is a very tough, very focused prosecutor, on gang crime, on sex trafficking, on ISIS where she`s prosecuted what are alleged would be joiners of the ISIS right out of the eastern district there. So, she is tough on all that and clear on that. But I do think having the chief law enforcement officer make some of these changes and have it under a period where we haven`t had any return of what some right wingers might have once warned, well, if you dial back mandatory minimums at all, you`ll have gang crime spree all across the country. We haven`t seen that in states like Washington and Colorado that have gone far on pot. So, I do think that itself, at a reality level, to the extent that reality affects what Congress, will help some of the legislative proposals, like the Safety Valve Act and the Smarter Sentencing Act that are bipartisan and would further deal with this at a criminal level. HAYES: You know, you make a key point there about the way in which policy experiments we can sort of view them now how they cache out in the real world. There is so much fear, frankly racialized fear that dominated the conversation for so long. And crime was historically very high for a large part of the period these policies are in place. In cases and states legalizing marijuana or even in changes at the local level, I wonder how much you would think crime continuing to stay low is the necessary precondition to creating the space for this trend to continue. MELBER: Well, it`s a great question because I do think we are in a different era where on the one hand, the crop in this crime rate is important and plays into it. On the other hand, if you look at the flipside, something you have covered a lot, the role of video evidence and citizen-created evidence in these law enforcement clashes right, that also has changed the conversation. Not because police-related killings are necessarily widely up, although in certain areas, clearly it is a serious problem, as bad as other periods, but because the evidence is there and that changes the equation. So I think the question can drugs is not only what is the evidence, because not everyone is an amateur criminologist. But how does the media and social media, or what I call also called citizen media relate to that. But again, yes, look at places like Colorado, there is not a large increase in gang bang related violence which isn`t a surprise because you are bringing part of the black market out of the shadows and into the regulated place. Doesn`t mean we aren`t going to have heroin on demand and it doesn`t mean that drugs aren`t still wrapped up in serious social epidemics which include, you know, violence driving while inebriated and other issues that we care about as society, right? But it does mean that if people see that evidence and they see as a part of this progress, then yes, I do think it changes some of the politics of crimes. HAYES: Ari Melber, thanks for being here. Appreciate it. MELBER: Thanks for having me. HAYES: Lots more still to come. The Comcast/Time Warner merger deal is off. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRIAN ROBERTS, COMCAST CHAIRMAN & CEO: Obviously, we wanted to bring the product we`ve got that we`re proud of to new markets, but it`s not going to happen. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Plus, our political round table is gathered here in D.C., ready to talk all things 2016. And amazing, terrifying pictures from Chile, where a volcano that`s been quiet more than 42 years erupts. Shooting ash six miles into the sky and blanketing a town in dust. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Much more ahead on the show tonight, including congresswoman and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, will be here right here to talk about what a Democratic primary, if there is one, is going to look like. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: Obviously, we wanted to bring the products we`ve got that we`re very proud of to new markets but it`s not going to happen. So we reached that conclusion. We always structured this deal in a way that will allow us to walk away if it looked like it wasn`t going to happen and that`s where wire at. We thought we could get the deal approved. We thought we should make a good case. I think our team did. But in the end, we got to move on. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: That was Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts this morning in our sister network, CNBC, which is a Comcast company, as are we. Comcast announced today it is withdrawing its bid to merge with Time Warner Cable. It would have meant the biggest cable provider in the country acquiring the second biggest cable provider. According to "Washington Post", quote, "Few companies have more success in persuading regulators to allow them to grow than Comcast, which evolved from a small cable television operator in rural Mississippi, into a global media and telecommunications juggernaut." So what happened this time? And how did we get to today`s result? Joining me now, Cecelia Kang, a reporter of business of media for "The Washington Post". Her latest piece today detailed exactly how this deal was undone. Cecelia, great to see you. CECELIA KANG, WASHINGTON POST: Great to be here. HAYES: When this was announced, there was a widespread sense I feel that Comcast had won these regulatory battles before. They got NBC Universal and there are some people who thought that was a bad idea. Here we are. KANG: Absolutely. HAYES: That they`re going to win this one again. And it also seemed like that was the operating assumption until a month or two ago and then boom, all of a sudden, it`s done. How did that happen? KANG: Completely imploded, at least publicly. But behind the scenes, regulators have been watching and looking at this with a lot of very hard scrutiny. Ultimately, it was very simple. They thought Comcast asked too much. They wanted to become too big, particularly on the broadband side of the business, the high speed Internet. This deal would have 50 percent of the all high speed Internet connections the number of subscribers to one kind in one company. HAYES: So half of all high speed broadband. So, I mean, here is what`s interesting. Comcast is making the case where they said, look, the way the regional monopolies work is this. Time Warner and us don`t compete. We have -- we`re at different areas of the map. So, if you combine us there is no net difference in amount of choice consumers have, right? In New York City, where I`m a Time Warner subscriber, I`ve basically got two options. If it was Time Warner, and it became Comcast, I`d still have go options, right? That was the argument they were making to regulators. Why did that argument not work? KANG: That`s exactly right. And it`s very tidy too. HAYES: Right. KANG: But the thing that ultimately ignores is it is a very complicated and fast-changing space, the media world. HAYES: Right. KANG: And so many companies like Netflix, like Amazon, like Facebook depend on the access to the internet. And one company essentially becoming a national company, even though as you said, Chris, they do not compete on regions. They don`t have the same zip codes. That would put too much power in the hands of that company over many other businesses in the ecosystem. HAYES: Right. So, that`s where the real -- I mean, there was obviously some organizing by consumers and other public interests against this deal. But a lot of the push came from other businesses. Netflix`s CEO Reed Hastings basically said in earnings call, killing this deal is our number one priority. Why was Netflix so intent on that? KANG: Netflix depends tremendously on these cable companies to deliver their videos flawlessly. And they have to pay charges in the behind the scenes of the Internet that nobody really sees. It`s called the backend of the internet. This is a really wonky thing called interconnection fees. Netflix says, if you let one company have too much control of the whole Internet in the United States, those companies can abuse their power and make us pay more. HAYES: Right, because you have the situation Netflix is both dependent on the broadband providers and also competing with the broadband provider at the same time, right? KANG: Right. HAYES: Netflix needs you to have broadband, and I have to communicate with that company to pipe my, you know, TV shows through, right? But every time I put a new original series on Netflix, I`m trying to page a bite of the business the cable subscription, that same company, in this case Comcast, is also selling you. KANG: And, Chris, this is exactly why Netflix is trying to show how Comcast has become such a hugely diverse company that`s actually complicated its own interests in a way. It`s built itself over the years. In 2011, when its merger with NBC Universal was approved, it became a huge entertainment and media company. So, in a way, Comcast actually competes with everything. If you are entertainment, telecom or tech, you are competing against Comcast in one way or another. And what the FCC -- HAYES: So, you have also created a situation in which you have created enough enemies essentially. I mean, enemies is a strong term. You created enough people in a vast array of the American marketplace who have their own lobbyists and own interests to fight back in these regulatory battles. KANG: And they were vocal. Reed Hastings was just one person. A lot of the programmers, like the owners of the networks, also complained. They complained of past behavior by Comcast and the regulators heard that. Antitrust and FCC regulators heard that, and said, you know what, if Comcast has a record of breaking rules in the past, how can we trust that if they had 50 percent of the broadband market, they wouldn`t do it again? HAYES: The underlying issue here also is the fact that we have seen in FCC -- I mean, we should be clear. Both Department of Justice and FCC were going to bring regulatory action. KANG: Straight out block it. HAYES: They were going to block it. They basically said, I mean, that is -- that`s the biggest antitrust enforcement action since what, the Microsoft? I mean, a generation, right? KANG: T-Mobile, AT&T. But no company is as diversified like Comcast, that`s come before these regulators. It would have been really bad politically, and the same administration, under the Obama administration, for them to approve two huge Comcast mergers. That potentially was in the thinking as well. HAYES: We`re moving to a media world in which it does seem broadband will dominate everything, right? KANG: Yes. HAYES: And also towards a new regulatory environment with net neutrality provisions that have been put in by the FCC. I mean, this seems to be the beginning of a new era in a regulatory sense. KANG: It is. And I think Comcast underestimated. They misjudged the way that regulators were going to approach this merger. They thought they were just going to look at this with the same argument of antitrust they have in the past. Regulators have sort of woken up. They educated themselves on the marketplace. They`ve educated themselves on the fact that Netflix and Amazon competes with the Facebook and competes with Comcast, and they`re looking at the totality of this ecosystem that`s really evolving quickly. HAYES: Well, fascinating. Thank you very much. KANG: Thank you. HAYES: Cecelia Kang. All right. The amazing pictures from Chile`s Calbuco Volcano which has erupted for the first time in over 40 years. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Chile`s Calbuco volcano sprang into life without warning and in spectacular fashion. A red mushroom shaped column billowed in the sky with occasional lightning bolts shooting through. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: It was as if somebody had detonated an atomic bomb. That`s how one witness described a blast coming from southern Chile`s Calbuco Volcano this week -- a volcano that had been dormant over 40 years but on Wednesday, Calbuco erupted, shooting a column of ash nine miles into the air. It was an eruption so massive, it could be seen 100 miles away in Argentina. The initial blast was caught on camera by a tourist, at a Chilean National Park. A second blast came early Thursday, creating a series of lightning storms. These remarkable pictures captured at the event. Thankfully, there had been no report of the death or injuries, but the reactions have wrecked havoc across the region. A state of emergency has been declared. Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes. Schools have been close and flights have been canceled. Tonight, the streets of nearby towns are blanketed with ash, raising health concerns and officials are warning residents to prepare for a potential third blast. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Republican presidential aspirants are heading to the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition`s spring kickoff this weekend, just one stop on a seemingly endless series of pre-primary events lined up on the GOP calendar. Now, it is a very different story on the democratic side, however, Hillary Clinton has been campaigning virtually solo in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two primary states, while several potential candidates are considering a run. One of the only people who seems determined to challenge her is Martin O`Malley, former governor of Maryland, former mayor of Baltimore. His organization is ramping up for a formal campaign launch in late May. And that will present a new challenge for the Democratic Party infrastructure already dominated by Clinton fans and loyalists. How do you structure an actual contested primary? Joining me now is the person charged with overseeing that process, Florida Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I remember when the RNC to great fanfare came out with their debate schedule and they said we have this many debates. I think it`s nine debates. And here are the rules for the debates. And you get punished if you go to nonofficial debates, and these are the (inaudible) and these are the people who are going to host. And there was nothing from the Democratic Party because it was kind of like, well, I don`t know are we going to have debates? Is anyone going to run? Eventually someone has to step in and create a process for the party to have a primary, right? REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, (D) FLORIDA: Yes. That would be us, the Democratic National Committee. And we are, and have been, busily preparing to put together the mechanics that you need to run a primary. We will be in the next -- probably the next several days or so announcing a debate framework for the primary debate season that we expect to have. We do expect other candidates to get in the race, whether it`s Martin O`Malley or Lincoln Chafee or others. And we have very specific steps in our rules that have to be taken. We need delegate selection plans. We need to know whether a state is going to have a primary or a caucus. I mean, those thigns are all happening. And they happen whether we have candidates officially declared or not. And we will eventually have multiple candidates declared. HAYES: OK. So if I`m -- let`s say I am Martin O`Malley or Bernie Sanders. What faith can I possibly have in the impartiality of the Democratic Party, given how dominated it is by people that are -- either have worked for Hillary Clinton or vowed supporters of Hillary Clinton. I mean, is there any plausible way in which the official infrastructure of the Democratic Party can have a pretense of neutrality in this process? SCHULTZ: Oh, of course. And I have made it very clear all the way through as have my -- I`ve made it clear to my staff. My staff has made it very clear that we will this primary absolutely neutrally, that every candidate will be treated equally and fairly and I believe that every candidate and potential candidate has the absolute expectation that that would be the case. HAYES: Are people from the different possible contenders in contact with your staff about for instance the debate schedule? SCHULTZ: Not only are they in contact with us, but we reach out to them, because... HAYES: So there are conversations being had that are negotiations around, say, what the debates will look like. SCHULTZ: Well there are discussions being had about what we`re thinking and we are making sure that we are keeping each of the potential presidential candidates and the one that we have informed about our thinking and getting feedback from them. HAYES: Are you -- you said that you are confident there will absolutely be more than one person. I guess Lincoln Chafee has already declared. SCHULTZ: He`s already -- well, he has an exploratory, but he`s.. HAYES: As of now Hillary Clinton is the only one who has officially declared that she is actually running for president. SCHULTZ: Yes. HAYES: But you are 100 percent confident there will be multiple participants in. SCHULTZ: Yes. HAYES: Do you think from your perch as the head of the Democratic Party that a contested primary, a competitive primary, is a good thing for the party? SCHULTZ: I do. Absolutely. I mean... HAYES: Do you really think that? SCHULTZ: No I really think that. I mean, I will tell you. I mean, I`ve been on the ballot 11 times and there have been a couple times in which I didn`t have an opponent. In Florida, you are not even on the ballot when you don`t have an opponent. And you are not as running as robust outreach program. You get a little sedentary and maybe think that you don`t have to work as hard and you don`t think about it as much. And so I think the process of going through a primary will provide that political exercise that I think each campaign needs and each candidate needs to be able to hone their message, figure the best way to reach out to the voters and put together the combination of voters that they need to actually be successful on election day -- on the general election day. HAYES: There is an ideological distinction, at least in the sort of public pronouncements of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party as regards Citizens United and the role of big, unregulated money. Democratic Party has by and large opposed the Citizens United decision, found it to be wrongly decided. A lot of Democratic lawmakers have either expressed support for or openness to a constitutional amendment perhaps to address it. SCHULTZ: As has Hillary Clinton. HAYES: Hillary Clinton has, Harry Reid, others. At the same time, the Democratic Party is a political party that exists in the world of these actual rules. SCHULTZ: Definitely. HAYES: I just -- I don`t know. I guess I want some first person account of like how is life different for you in this era where you know this is this huge amount of money that is out there but can`t be given directly to the party, but you know people are working on it -- like how does that change your role day to day? SCHULTZ: Well, it actually for us and same is true for the RNC, and I`ve actually talked to Reince Preibus about this, with the law changing in December, even though our position is that there is too much money in politics. With the law changing in December, it actually gives those donors that wish to give larger contributions the opportunity to give us several hundred thousand dollars, which is more they could before. So those are donors that may have given to a super PAC first, because they really wanted to have a more outsized impact, and now we`re able to encourage them to give that... HAYES: So wait, what changed in December. SCHULTZ: Because we tripled the maximums in the Cromnibus for -- yeah, for the convention... HAYES: It went from 30 whatever, right? SCHULTZ: It went from $32,400 to now it`s about $324,000, something like that. HAYES: Wow. That`s a lot of money. SCHULTZ: It`s triple maxouts. Well, it is some restrictions on it, on what it can -- it`s a max out for the convention. It is a max out for construction of headquarters and other things. HAYES: Do you feel that because there is a donor right now that can write $10 million to super PAC allied with a candidate that that has diminished the relative importance that you and the DNC actually have in this process? SCHULTZ: Well, it makes it so that we have a smaller footprint over what it is that we are going to have an impact on. That is also part of why I think that Citizens United was -- I agree with President Obama, one of the worst decisions, because for us and the reason we`ll encourage those donors to give us to first is because our donations -- our party believes in transparency. Our party believes we should have an open process with full reporting. And you contribute to us first and that`s what happens. And we do believe that there`s way too much money in politics, but we need to change... HAYES: It`s fascinating for me to imagine just a fly on the wall with a donor being like give to us and don`t give to us X because, you know, there is only so much money, right. SCHULTZ: The key thing is, is what we do have is the ability for make sure donors understand if they want to have the most direct impact on the outcome of an election and make a difference for their candidate, no matter what amount their contributing, contributing to a party first is the best way to do that, because we are the only organization that can directly coordinate with a candidate. Those super PACs and other organizations can`t and that makes a difference. HAYES: That can`t is increasingly in quotes. Congresswoman... SCHULTZ: Well, not nearly as directly... HAYES: Thank you very much. All right, a few days after two prominent gay businessman hosted Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz for a reception at their apartment, Ted Cruz introduces two bills to stop same-sex marriage. More on that ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: You know how sometimes people use A phrase "in bed with" as a metaphor, colorful metaphor, for someone being improperly in cahoots with someone else. Well a story that makes that quite literal ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Ted Cruz is pushing back on a report from the New York Times about an event in Manhattan that the candidate attended this week hosted by two gay businessmen where he reportedly did not mention his opposition to same-sex marriage saying only that marriage is an issue that should be left to the states. In a statement, Cruz denied this signaled any change in his position and if there were still any doubt, he has now introduced two bills in the senate which would protect states that bar same sex-sex couples from marrying. Joining me now, Sabrina Siddiqui, political reporter for The Guardian U.S., Robert Costa, national political reporter for the Washington Post and Ezra Klein, MSNBC policy analyst and editor-in-chief of Fox. All right, here is why I love this story. (LAUGHTER) HAYES: Well there is a lot to love in this story, particularly like just the notion of Ted Cruz at this small intimate gathering in Central Park South where a month earlier a 26-year-old had died of a drug overdose in a bathtub with these two gentlemen who are gay hoteliers. Like , it`s just like something out of like a Tom Wolff novel or something. But also just this idea of trying to talk to a donor class that is I think by and large overwhelmingly in favor of marriage equality, and a base that by and large is overwhelmingly opposed to it and trying to sort of speak in these two registers. And we know, right, we know the data says that like there is just a systematic difference between how donors see the world and how voters do, and particularly the base, and this is a perfect example. EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC POLICY ANALYST: And this is a ton of what you are going to see throughout the campaign. This -- in some ways was a problem last campaign too where as it becomes easier and easier for things that candidates say in small gathers to become highly public. There has long been in politics this kind of two-step where what is said to the crowd is not what is said to the donor. And in increasingly it becomes much, much harder to say something to the donor that doesn`t get in front of the crowd. And Cruz is in a particularly difficult spot here. He is somebody who runs against the establishment. He is loathed by his fellow Senate conservatives. And he`s going to have a fair amount of trouble raising money, so he is going to have to shade some of that a bit in order to get some, frankly, elites on his side. But in order to get some of those elites on his side, they may be with him on Obamacare. They may be with him on executive overreach, but a lot of them are not going to be with him on some of the more socially conservative dimensions of his campaign. SABRINA SIDDIQUI, THE GUARDIAN US: And Ted Cruz is obviously vying if for evangelical vote. He`s competing with the Mike Huckabees and Rick Santorums of the world. And to an extent, though, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul obviously are his main competitors in a primary . And they`ve struck a somewhat more conciliatory tone. Rand Paul noticeably didn`t comment on the religious freedom controversy in Indiana. Marco Rubio is out there saying I`d go to a gay wedding and being gay is not a choice, it`s something you`re born with. And Ted Cruz, however, is the chief defender of religious liberty. He`s not in a position where he can really soften his tone. And I think that is what you see here is this struggle to say, well, of course I would love my daughter if I found out she was gay, but I still vehemently oppose same-sex marriage. HAYES: What`s also interesting is here is Ted Cruz, though I think in some ways is sort of and at the right edge of the Republican policy, and even he did not introduce today a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage. He introduces a constitutional amendment that protect bans on gay marriage in states from a possible SCOTUS ruling and would remove federal jurisdiction of state marriage law, which is a massively radical thing. But that says something even to me about where the kind of right most plank of the Republican party is. ROBERT COSTA, WASHINGTON POST: And what`s fascinating to watch is because there is near uniformity in the Republican Party on these social issues, it now comes down to a competition about posture, about attitude, about how you frame things in your rhetoric. And so Cruz, you are right he`s proposing his legislation. But he`s not really different from any other conservative in the field. He`s trying to find some way to get oxygen. HAYES: This is the key point, right. There is actually not a ton -- like even though there is a million different candidates there is actually not a huge amount of substantive space between them. KLEIN: But it is insane that that is true. It is an incredible thing that we are here in 2015 and it is difficult to find a Republican running for president whose outrightly opposed to gay marriage and will actually do something constitutional about it. I mean, it was not a hundred years ago or 50 years ago or 20 years ago that you were having George W. Bush in serious consideration of constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The speed with which this issue has shifted and so the contortions folks are having to go through to try to deal with a part of the base, a part of the Republican base that has not shifted that quickly is hard. It`s actually a tricky line to walk. HAYES: And Huckabee -- I think Huckabee probably is the one person. I mean, I think my understanding of official position is that he is opposed to it. But what`s also fascinating is here is an issue the Republicans have gone from being the right side of public opinion to the wrong side in a whiplash inducing fashion. They are now entering into a presidential election and are going to have their bacon saved by a Supreme Court that very likely is going to come in and remove the issue as an active issue . COSTA: The donor class feels great about the Supreme Court`s decision. HAYES: Yes, there`s -- the donor class is so excited because they are like no one will have to talk about it. SIDDIQUI: I think it the most complicated thing for Republicans is also right now a lot have of them have said we want to leave it to the states. And if the Supreme Court eliminates that as an excuse, then it will be really really interesting to see how they come down on this issue. They won`t be able to say it`s a state level issue COSTA: There are two theories out there when I speak to top Republican strategists. One, is this Supreme Court ruling going to be a grenade? Is it going to ignite the Republican primary and set off a culture war. HAYES: Competition... COSTA: A competition to go further to the right? Or is it battle, people are opposed to it but they move on. KLEIN: And this is what I thought was so interesting about the religious liberty fight out of Indiana. What I read into that fight, what I thought was going on there, was that that was finally a place where top Republican politicians could ally with social conservative base on this issue. The religious liberty laws were not going to aggressively going to discriminate against LGBT Americans in Indiana, it was a fairly niche set of situations where that might happen. But what it did was in an issue where a lot of folks in the base really do not like the trend that these where these cultural issues are going into, and they have been completely abandoned by their politicians who are not even going to make an issue out of the Supreme Court ruling that give them a proxy fight where they could reknit some of that coalition. HAYES: 100 percent correct. And in terms of your point. I mean, the question about this case before the Supreme Court arguments on Tuesday is if and when it`s decided in the way people anticipate, which you know would be surprising if it weren`t, does it end up as Loving v Virginia, right, which says that you can`t ban interracial marriage, or does it end up as Roe v. Wade which doesn`t set off some sort of glide path to consensus, in fact triggers massive 30, 40 years of apocalyptic social struggle. COSTA: Well, who thinks it`s going to be Roe v. Wade is Bobby Jindal. He writes this article in The New York Times. He thinks he can run against the leftists and their allies and the corporations. Mike Huckabee thinks it`s going to be Roe v. Wade. But most of the top tier contenders don`t. HAYES: Yeah, OK, stay with us. We`re talk about why basically all of modern politics is one big gigantic conflict of interest, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Lots of talk about conflicts of interest, or possible conflicts of interest, circling around Hillary and Bill Clinton. It`s worthwhile to remember the background context which is that basically all of modern American politics is one gigantic conflict of interest. Look no further than the case of Pennsylvania congressman Bill Schuster, Republican chairman of the House transportation infrastructure committee. Politico reports that last year Schuster muscled a beleaguered transportation bill through the house, a bill promoted by his girlfriend who is an airline industry lobbyist. And that is just another day in Washington. Still with me, Sabrina Siddiqui, Robert Costa and Ezra Klein. I mean, this is the thing about the discussion of the Clinton issue, which is yes, like it does appear that there was more care should have been taken to flag things that appear as conflicts of interest. I think the strong case that there is quid pro quo is very, very far from being demonstrated. But it is also the case that, like yeah, this whole world of people on both sides of the aisle are functioning in places where like people are getting money for speaking engagements and then they`re going on TV to advocate for those people and people are hanging out with lobbyists. Like there are so many conflicts it just seems slightly insane to me, or slightly like fake naive to be outraged by these in particular. KLEIN: I think it is reasonable as a normal human being to be upset that foreign governments were donating large amounts of money to the Clinton Global Foundation when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. What I don`t think is reasonable is if you are a human being who has a super PAC that is getting anonymous money in the multiple tens of millions of dollars to you and nobody knows where that money is coming to then be upset about that and pretend that you have some kind of moral indignation about people taking charitable donations, not for a campaign, that are transparent against your completely untransparent donations from people who are definitely going to want things after the campaign. HAYES: This is a great point... KLEIN: There is a tremendous amount of ridiculous hypocrisy in this conversation. HAYES: I mean, Ted Cruz has -- one of his big backers, a guy by the name of Robert Mercer, I believe, who has a hedge fund. It`s fighting the IRS over a huge multibillion dollar tax bill. They`re -- Mercer is going to give Cruz millions of dollars. Cruz says he wants to abolish the IRS. Like, that is as plain as you get as a conflict, right. But that`s so just baked into American politics that that doesn`t rise to the level of scandal, because that`s just how we understand the system working. COSTA: I agree with your point about it -- it`s baked in. There is a web of relationships in both parties that would raise eyebrows from any kind of scrutiny. I think the difficulty for Cruz or for Clinton is that if you have all this money coming at you, whether from foreign governments for a foundation, or whether it`s for a super PAC, can you really running a convincing populist campaign? Can you be the champion of everyday Americans? HAYES: Yeah, that is -- that applies broadly across the board. SIDDIQUI: Well, I think this is what`s kind of baffling about some of the revelations that are coming out about Clinton, and of course there is not enough evidence right now that to really establish that favors were being done by the State Department for foreign governments that donated. That`s not... HAYES: At all. SIDDIQUI: That`s not established at all. Having said that, clearly you know they underreported donations, or didn`t report donations to the IRA. They also have not -- didn`t even disclose to the Obama administration as they promised to do, which foreign governments were donating to their foundation. And for someone who is already struggling to position herself as an everyday American, as Rob said, she`s trying to -- she`s going on this tour and trying to combat this image that she`s out of touch, that she`s elitist, that the Clinton world that this vaunted Clinton team... HAYES: But that`s the thing that I want to say is like American voter, listen to me. They are not like you. None of them are everyday Americans at all. Who are we kidding? And not only is that true, the system is created in such a way that they cannot be like you. If they were look you, they wouldn`t be plausible presidential candidates because they would not know enough people with money -- frankly. KLEIN: Presidential candidates aren`t like us. They have -- they need to raise millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars. This is something I think is fascinating about sort of political theater coverage of all kinds. This idea that we will wander around criticizing people for being inauthentic while doing the least authentic things that human beings (inaudible). That it`s strange that you human being seem a little bit stilted when you get up on a stage and talk in front of 30,000 people. Or when you are in front of a barrage of press questions about something that you don`t want to talk about. We want people to seem authentic doing highly artificial, superficial things. HAYES: The other thing to me -- this piece from -- David Sarota (ph) write this piece for International Business Times where he just went through and he said, look "government documents show that Jeb Bush oversaw Florida directing at least 1.7 billion dollars of state worker`s retirement money to financial firms of his elder brother`s major donors. Now at first you`re like well that looks kind of damning. I mean, what that is, that is a fact about two social groups. The social group of people that run funds that are going to manage state money and the social group of people that donate to George W. Bush. And that seems to me a very similar analog to what we`re getting in some of the Clinton stories, right. It`s like the group of people that might have business before the State Department and the group of people that are giving money to the Clinton Foundation, like there is a lot of Venn diagramming. COSTA: I was just in New Hampshire and I was struck when I spoke with activists about their reservations with Bush, because they see him as tied to corporate America in the same way many progressive feel uncomfortable about Clinton`s ties to corporate America. HAYES: Yeah, there`s that same issue. SIDDIQUI: And Americans polling shows that they think Clinton capable of doing an effective job as a leader, but that when you ask about trustworthiness and honesty suddenly her numbers plummet. And that`s what`s very really concerning for her. HAYES: I`m really -- it is going to be fascinating to watch the way this plays out in terms of are we going to have more Foster Freeze moments. are we going to have more moments where these folks who are behind the scene, these gay hoteliers become front and center. I hope so, because that`s the only modicum of transparency we have. Sabrina Siddiqui, Robert Costa and Ezra Klein, great to have you here. That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END