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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 10/22/15

Guests: Adam Smith, Kurt Eichenwald, Michael McFaul, Linda Sanchez, JerroldNadler, Matt Taibbi

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN -- REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: There are people frankly in both parties who have suggested that this investigation is about you. HAYES: The Benghazi hearings, filled with sound and fury, but did we learn anything? REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Republicans are squandering millions of taxpayer dollars on this abusive effort to derail Secretary Clinton`s presidential campaign. HAYES: Republicans go at Hillary Clinton in a marathon session. REP. PETER ROSKAM (R), ILLINOIS: We came, we saw, he died. Is that the Clinton doctrine? HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m sorry that it doesn`t fit your narrative, Congressman. HAYES: Tonight, are we witnessing yet another example of Clinton inspired overreach? Will today`s hearing have any bearing on Hillary Clinton`s presidential hopes? And why are Republicans so obsessed with Sidney Blumenthal. GOWDY: And I`ll tell you what? If you think you`ve heard about Sidney Blumenthal so far, wait until the next round. HAYES: All that plus why the Trump campaign is apologizing to Republican volunteers in Iowa when ALL IN starts rights right now. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Today in the longest running special committee in the history of the nation, presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took the stage as the witness of the House Select Committee on Benghazi and as the object, many would say, of the GOP obsession with tarnishing Clinton as much as possible. No matter how hard Republicans tried, image and optics, not substance, were very much the center piece of long proceedings which went into the night. The committee`s chairman, Congressman Trey Gowdy, spoke to reporters after the 9:00 p.m. adjournment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOWDY: She stayed to the end and I didn`t hear a single word of complaint for her. Heard a little bit from some of the other folks on the dais, but not from her. She`s an important witness. You can`t investigate Benghazi without talking to the secretary of state at that time. But as I said this morning, she`s one important witness out of what`s now more than 50 important witnesses and there are a couple dozen left to go. So, in terms of conclusions, I don`t draw conclusions until the end, and there are more witnesses to talk to. So, from standpoint, we keep going on until we`re able to interview all the witnesses that we think have access to relevant information. I don`t know that she testified that much differently today than she has previous times she`s testified. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: The lines of questioning ranged from the most high stakes to the most mundane without ever exposing anything that could plausibly be accused of wrongdoing. One congressman even questioned whether Clinton showed enough concern for the families of the victims after the attack. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. MARTHA ROBY (R), ALABAMA: How would it have harmed the case that was -- that they were trying to build for you, secretary of state, just to check in on their well-being? CLINTON: I did check in on their well-being. ROBY: Personally. CLINTON: Well, I did personally talk to the people that were taking care of them, transporting them -- ROBY: Them, the survivors, when did you talk to the survivors? CLINTON: I talked to the survivors when they came back to the United States and one who was from many months in Walter Reed on the telephone. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Clinton`s demeanor was one of composed, tolerant, patience, with just a little hint of disgust. A particular Republican fascination with former Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal came to a head earlier in the day when Chairman Gowdy and the committee`s ranking member, Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings, argued at length. Here`s just a part of that exchange. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOWDY: We just heard e-mail after e-mail after e-mail about Libya and Benghazi that Sidney Blumenthal sent to the secretary of state. I don`t care if he sent it by Morse code, carrier pigeon, smoke signals, the fact that he sent it by e-mail is irrelevant. What is relevant is he was sending information to the secretary of state. REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I move we put into the word the entire transcript of Sidney Blumenthal. We`re going to release the emails, let`s do the transcript, that way the world can see it. (CROSSTALK) CUMMINGS: I`ve consulted with the parliamentarian and they have informed us that we have a right to a recorded vote on that motion. GOWDY: I`ll tell you what, let`s do that. CUMMINGS: If you want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, let`s see the -- let`s let the world see it. GOWDY: Why is it that you only want Mr. Blumenthal`s transcript released? Why don`t you have the survivors -- CUMMINGS: I like to have all of them released. GOWDY: And I`ll tell you what, if you think you`ve heard about Sidney Blumenthal so far, wait until the next round. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: More on Blumenthal later on the show. As for one point the Republicans trying to make that Blumenthal had better access to Clinton than the now deceased Ambassador Chris Stevens, that was rebutted many times over. Democratic Congressman Adam Smith referenced this tweet from the former American ambassador to Russia, quote, "As an ambassador in Russia, I enjoyed multiple ways of communicating with Secretary Clinton. E-mail was never one of them." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: The ambassador said he always had constant communication with you but never had your e-mail address. I would hope that ambassadors would have more direct and immediate lines of communication, and Ambassador Stevens certainly did, correct? CLINTON: Yes. SMITH: The information that we found out, as you pointed out, was not always flattering. There was no question that mistakes were made and we hopefully learned from them. But that was investigated. So what is the purpose of this committee? (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: We`ll speak with that former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, in the next segment. The Democrats dismantling of this GOP line of questioning did not stop the Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo from taking the subject of Ambassador Stevens` access to Clinton to absurd extremes. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. MIKE POMPEO (R), KANSAS: Did he have your fax number? CLINTON: He had the fax number of the State Department. POMPEO: Did he have your home address? CLINTON: No, I don`t think any ambassador has ever asked me for that. POMPEO: Did he ever stop by your House? CLINTON: No, he did not, Congressman. (END VIDEO CLP) HAYES: Keep in mind, the congressman was referring to the ambassador to Libya, who lived in Libya, where Hillary Clinton did not live. Towards the end of the 11-hour hearing, Congressman Cummings launched into a critique of the committee`s work. Here is part of that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CUMMINGS: I think you have said this has not been done perfectly. You wished you could do it another way. And then the statement you made a few minutes ago when you said, you know, I have given more thought to this than all of you combined. So I don`t know what we want from you. Do we want to badger you over and over again until we do get the gotcha moment that he`s talking about? We`re better than that. We are so much better. We are a better country, and we`re better than using taxpayer dollars to try to destroy a campaign. That`s not what America is all about. And so you can comment if you like. I just had to get that off my chest. (LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: After the applause and room died down, Secretary Clinton responded with this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: The answers have changed not at all since I appeared two years ago before the House and the Senate. And I recognize that there are many currents at work in this committee, but I can only hope that the statesmanship overcomes the partisanship. At some point, we have to do this, and I`m hoping that we can move forward together. We can start working together. We can start listening to each other. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Earlier this evening, I spoke with Congressman Adam Smith who serves on the Benghazi committee, a portion who`s participation we showed you earlier. And I asked him his thoughts on the day`s proceedings. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SMITH: It`s frankly embarrassing the way the Republicans have conducted this hearing. At this point, they`re just asking the same questions over and over again. And literally in the entire time we`ve been here, they have revealed nothing new. They -- you know, I guess the most damning thing they do is they point to the ARB report and other reports that have already been done to point out the parts of those reports that were critical of the secretary. But that`s no reason to have this committee. They are selectively pulling out bits of information from testimony, which we then have to read the full transcript that makes it obvious what they were saying is not the actual facts. Now, it is clearly a partisan attack on Secretary Clinton. It`s not a good day for the United States. HAYES: Anything that particularly stuck out to you today as you were listening to the questioning, both from your colleagues on the Democratic and Republican side? SMITH: Well, the main thing that stuck out to me was Representative Roskam who went after Secretary Clinton on both of his lines of questioning for -- he was trying to basically say she was responsible for the Libya policy, for basically the decision to join the coalition to remove Gadhafi from power. The first time he did that, it`s like, well, OK, what does that have to do with Benghazi? That is a direct political criticism of Secretary Clinton, and that`s debatable. But that`s got nothing to do with Benghazi. The second time that Representative Roskam did it was even more insulting. He went after her, trying to claim she was trying to take political credit for the policies, citing random e-mails and stuff -- again, nothing whatsoever to do with Benghazi. HAYES: Wouldn`t the congressman say that of course it was the decision to enter into the coalition with NATO to launch airstrikes and ultimately depose Gadhafi that brought about the situation that would lead to ultimately the attack on that embassy? SMITH: Yes, but that`s not the point. I guess you could go back and say, you know, let`s never get involved in foreign policy decisions and that`s the way to prevent attacks, but that`s not Benghazi. That`s not the attack. That`s not what could we have done to protect the embassy. So I`m really struck, like I said, number one, by the fact that literally no new information has been brought to light by this committee and also by the incredibly aggressive prosecutorial approach that they`ve taken to Secretary Clinton. Even while claiming that that`s not their intent. If you watch the video, if you watch what`s going on in there, you would absolutely be certain that their mission was to take down Secretary Clinton. HAYES: Congressman, obviously we`ve seen a tremendous amount of polarization in Congress over the last 20 years, and it`s very polarized right now. Even with that, your report on the Hill and your report on committees, you know, committees have to work together, majority and minority staff. There is a certain amount of collegiality. There is a certain amount of inter-staff just process work that has to be done. I am struck from the outside, and I would like your perspective on this, this seems as bad a relationship between the majority and the minority as I`ve ever seen on any committee that I`ve ever covered or watched. SMITH: I think that is a very fair assessment. Adam Schiff said it best, the only way this committee was ever going to have any relevance is if we reached a bipartisan conclusion. And the Republican majority made no effort whatsoever from the beginning to try and attempt to do that. So, I would agree with you, this is as bad -- Secretary Clinton herself pointed out when the Beirut bombings happened in 1983, a Democratic Congress investigated it with a Republican president in a very professional manner. She even cited the embassy bombings in 1998 when that Republican Congress investigated a Democratic president did it in a responsible way. So, in the past, we`ve been able to do this in a bipartisan way, and now, I mean, this committee has just, you know, totally destroyed that approach. I think it`s a shame. HAYES: All right. Congressman Adam Smith, I thank you for your time on this busy day. SMITH: Thank you, Chris. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Joining me now, Kurt Eichenwald, senior writer for "Newsweek" and author of "Newsweek`s" "Comprehensive Guide to Benghazi." Kurt, you`ve been following this quite a bit. And the congressman mentioned the bombing in Beirut in 1983. And my understanding is you actually got a survivor of that bombing today as they watched this hearing, is that right? KURT EICHENWALD, NEWSWEEK: After the hearing actually. And it really summed up everything here, because the hearings today were easily the most embarrassing I have ever seen. And this is somebody who was serving overseas. This was somebody serving in one of the most dangerous places in the world at this point. This is somebody who stood by -- who was in the building when the car bomb blew up and destroyed the building. And what she wrote is, we were patriotic and respectful. We never viewed what happened through a partisan lens. These oversight Republicans have been contemptible. I think that speaks volumes. HAYES: You know, I think they would say, you know, they keep saying we`re trying to get to the bottom of this. This is important, four Americans died. One of the things that struck me is after 11 hours, I still don`t understand what the charge is, what the allegation is. What is the thing that they say is the site of the wrong doing? Obviously, there was insufficient security, obviously things didn`t pass properly through the channels to perhaps beef up security or find a more reliable contractor. But I still don`t get the wrongdoing that we`re supposed to know about is. EICHENWALD: Well, something you have to understand is that, I`m sure you do, is that the Republicans started politicizing the events in Cairo and Benghazi from the night it started. I mean, you had Romney running out in front of the cameras to condemn what the diplomats in Cairo were doing while they were trying to save their lives. So, this has been despicable from the get-go. In terms of what has come up since then, I have read all the reports. The House intelligence report was great, done by Republicans. The Senate intelligence report was great, done by Republicans. The ARB was great, done by an independent group that was appointed. And, basically, though, you have an obsession on the right wing. You have buttons going out with blood stains on Hillary Clinton`s face. You have -- you know, the beast of Benghazi. These are people who see this through a political lens and simply do not care about what actually happened, about keeping our diplomats safe or about the fact that they are telling terrorists, hey, you have a small attack and maybe you can affect the presidential election. I`m sorry, the Republican Party is working hand and fist with the terrorists overseas by giving them far more power than they should have. HAYES: That`s a strong claim, right? I mean, they would -- if I were Trey Gowdy, I would say, look, you know, we have to investigate attacks. When the 9/11 attacks happened, obviously, there was a commission, et cetera. EICHENWALD: No question. No question that should happen. And that`s why it`s happened nine times. HAYES: Right, right. EICHENWALD: Just when you got to number five, it was enough. (CROSSTALK) HAYES: You could feel the string running out today. It was like we were watching it in real time as someone who isn`t even -- and I read the ARB report and not the other two reports in their entirety, I`ve read summaries of them. But it felt like it didn`t take very long to get to a tremendous amount of repetition. EICHENWALD: Well, there was a tremendous amount of repetition. All the questions had been answered before except the really silly ones. And what was amazing to me was the number of times that a -- either a falsehood was trotted out or truly the members of Congress didn`t know what had been resolved before. You know, the issue of the cable. That was dealt with by the House Intelligence Committee. The issue of what was happening with the security e-mails. That was dealt with by the ARB. HAYES: Yes. EICHENWALD: You know, you sort of stand back and my favorite being, they start talking about Sidney Blumenthal`s business interests, which, you know, I spoke to the guy who ran the company. They`re saying he had nothing to do with it. So, it`s just lies or ignorance. HAYES: All right. Kurt Eichenwald, thank you very much for your time tonight. Appreciate it. Still ahead, much more coverage of today`s hearing, including a breakdown of the Republican strategy. A look at the often referenced Sidney Blumenthal, who he is and why it`s relevant and how Hillary Clinton seemed to handle the day-long interrogation. All that and more, ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: One of the most telling aspects of today`s very long and very partisan Benghazi hearings is what sure seemed like a preplanned effort to draw attention any time Hillary Clinton was handed a note from her staff, presumably in an attempt to make her look bad. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROSKAM: I can pause while you`re reading your notes from your staff. Go ahead and read the note if you need to. (LAUGHTER) CLINTON: I have to -- I have to -- ROSKAM: I`m not done with my question, I`m just giving you the courtesy of reading your notes. GOWDY: If you need to take time to read your note, I`m happy to pause. ROSKAM: If you finish reading, and I`ll start talking. GOWDY: If you need to read a note from your lawyer, you`re welcome to, Madam Secretary. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: For her part, Clinton seemed pretty unfazed by the whole thing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can pause while you`re reading your notes from your staff. CLINTON: One thing at a time, Congressman. Thanks. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: So you can hear all that as Clinton initially turn on her mike. But what she said was that she can, quote, "do more than one thing at a time, Congressman. Thank." I`m good, Congressman. Thanks. It reminded us from later in the hearing when Clinton looked down and ever so casually brushed some lint right off her shoulder. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SMITH: The ambassador to Russia said that, you know, he always had access to you, always had constant communication with you, never had your e-mail address. I would hope that ambassadors would have more direct and immediate lines of communication, and Ambassador Stevens certainly did, correct? CLINTON: Yes. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: GOP obsession was whether Ambassador Chris Stevens could reach Secretary Clinton by e-mail was batted down by my next guest, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul. And, Ambassador, you basically said today as this was going on, look, I had a lot of ways of interacting with the secretary during my time as ambassador. They weren`t e-mail. What do you mean by that? MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, I was just watching the -- I was on a plane actually and listening to the back and forth about e-mail. It just struck me that maybe people don`t understand how communications work in the State Department or in the U.S. government. The main way of communicating with the secretary is through a system of cables. Now, that`s an ancient word, but it`s actually electronic and it works kind of like e-mail, by the way. And you communicate to your assistant secretary or to the undersecretary or when very urgent to the secretary of state. And if it`s something that you want to do classified, it`s all classified, but if you want to do something sensitive directly to the secretary, you have a channel to do that, as well. And then, in addition, there`s phone calls, there`s these videoconferences. And in a case of emergency, and this happened to me a couple of times when I was ambassador, you can also reach out directly to some of her closest assistants. So, one of those gentleman sitting behind her was Jake Sullivan. Jake was the guy I always went to when I needed to get something urgent to the secretary. And you can see from all these e- mails that he was in constant communication with her. HAYES: Did the question from particularly the Republican members today evince to you a good understand of how the State Department functions? MCFAUL: No, quite frankly, no. I mean, one, there`s all those things I just described. Two, I want to remind your viewers, ambassadors are appointed by the president of the United States. And so, you also have a channel to the president and to the national security staff. But, third, remember, the state department and the U.S. government is a giant bureaucracy, and it wouldn`t work if every ambassador was e-mailing the secretary every day. So, instead what you have is an interagency policy process. It starts with -- I`m going to use a lot of acronyms here now, the ICP, the Interagency Policy Committee. For me, that was Russia, then the deputy`s committee, the principal`s committee. And you interact with your colleagues to formulate policy and to deal with issues, including, if I may so, diplomatic security issues, which were an issue for me as ambassador out in Moscow. And that`s a chain of command, if you will, that then goes up to the secretary, up to the president ultimately for them to make decisions. That`s the way the system works. Maybe it should be changed. But then we should have a debate about the system of communication in the U.S. government, because I`m sure it worked this way when I was in government for five years, and I know it probably worked the same way when Secretary Rice was there. That`s just the way it works. I`ll bet you Secretary Rice didn`t send one e-mail to one ambassador. HAYES: Yes, it struck me that perhaps members of Congress were mistaking their own operation where they have several dozen staff for running the State Department with 70,000 employees and massively complicated set of procedures and bureaucracy. How do you think the secretary did today? MCFAUL: Well, I only caught part of it. I have -- I was on a plane and I have a day job here at Stanford, so I couldn`t watch at all. The pieces I did, I just -- you know, I respected her answers and I just wished that, you know, we were talking about more of the substance and not just e- mail communications. But, you know, this is a process. HAYES: All right. Ambassador Michael McFaul, great. Thanks for your time. Appreciate it. MCFAUL: Thank you. HAYES: Up next, my interview with a Democratic congresswoman on the Benghazi committee who compared Republicans to her son, asking to have ice cream for breakfast. We`ll explain after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBY: Who else was at your home? Were you alone? CLINTON: I was alone, yes. ROBY: The whole night? CLINTON: Well, yes, the whole night. (LAUGHTER) ROBY: I don`t know why that`s funny. Did you have any in-person briefings? I don`t find it funny at all. CLINTON: I`m sorry. A little note of levity at 7:15. ROBY: Well -- (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Early, I spoke with Democratic Representative Linda Sanchez of California, a member of the Benghazi Committee and vocal participant in today`s marathon hearing. I asked if anything she saw today surprised her. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) REP. LINDA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: I`m a little surprised by the tone some of the Republicans took in questioning Secretary Clinton and the sort of wild goose chases they ran around on. Again, nothing really related to the events of the evening of September 11th, 2012. No new information that sheds any light on what that evening or that contradicts what is already contained in the eight previous reports on Benghazi. HAYES: Some of the questions seem to me to indicate perhaps a less than full understanding of the mechanics of the State Department. Are you confident that your colleagues are sufficiently briefed, sufficiently read up to kind of get their arms around this? SANCHEZ: You know, it was kind of bizarre this there today, because I think either they didn`t read the eight previous reports or they don`t have a fundamental understanding of how the different agencies work. Or they do know and they just, you know, chose to ask ridiculous questions any way. I -- it was a little bizarre that even questioning Secretary Clinton when she gave very clear answers, they tried to change what her testimony was or assume, as we say as lawyers, assume facts not in evidence. But they weren`t really listening to the testimony. And I -- it just reminded me very much, I have a 6-year-old son, every morning I ask him what would you like for breakfast? He tells me ice cream. I tell him we don`t eat ice cream for breakfast yet he`ll ask me five or six different times. That`s kind of what they were doing. They were asking the questions over and over again. The facts don`t change, and so, their narrative, you know, doesn`t change. I mean, it`s the same information that we`ve heard over the last 17 months over and over and over again. HAYES: You, if I`m not mistaken, co-wrote with one of your colleagues, Adam Schiff, on the committee, about the possibility of Democrats yourself leaving the committee after today`s testimony. Given what you saw today, are you considering just throwing in the towel on this enterprise? SANCHEZ: Well, again, if we`re going to spend ridiculous amounts of taxpayer money, I mean, to the tune of $5 million in now to uncover no new evidence, again, that changes anything in the conclusions of the eight prior reports, I don`t really see the value in continuing to participate. There`s just -- again, there`s this belief on the Republican side that when they get new documents or information, they have these revelations that there`s this new information out there, none of the new information sheds anymore light on what happened. It`s all in the record that we have currently. HAYES: Congressman Linda Sanchez of the Benghazi Select Committee from California, thank you very much. SANCHEZ: Thank you for having me. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: We`ll have more coverage of today`s marathon epic hearing ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROSKAM: Let me tell you what I think the Clinton doctrine is. I think it`s where an opportunity is seized to turn progress in Libya into a political win for Hillary Rodham Clinton, and at the precise moment when things look good, take a victory lap on all the Sunday shows three times that year before Gadhafi was killed and then turn your attention to other things. I yield back. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: One of the things that were clear is the Republicans on the Benghazi Committee focused their animus on Hillary Clinton today is that they appear to be either unable or unwilling to perceive how they looked to the outside world, and was incapable of delivering a performance that resonates with the general public. Members seem to live in the universe with #Benghazi Twitter trolls and breathless articles and the Rush Limbaugh echo chamber, where nasty attacks on Clinton are the whole point. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: There`s no evidence for a video inspired protest, then where did the false narrative start? It started with you, Madam Secretary. ROSKAM: You`re familiar with that clip, we came, we saw, he died. Is that the Clinton doctrine? POMPEO: It`s just hard to comprehend of why you would give us that blow by blow in something that we`re not investigating here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ma`am, leaders lead. JORDAN: Why didn`t you just speak plain to the American people? ROSKAM: Why is the White House uptight that you`re taking the credit? JORDAN: State Department experts knew the truth. You knew the truth, but that`s not what the American people got. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: It also recalls the classic moment of GOP Clinton overreach which is the impeachment hearings of Bill Clinton, where the Republicans thought they had Clinton totally dead to rights and then somehow improbably managed to turn the fact that the president had an affair in the Oval Office with an intern into a net political positive for the president. Joining me now, Representative Jerrod Nadler, Democrat of New York, who was in Congress for those impeachment hearings back in 1998. And, Congressman Nadler, do you feel any sense of deja vu watching this today? REP. JERROD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Oh, yes, I feel a great sense of deja vu. It`s in many ways similar. It`s a total fixation on either ridiculous or off-stated charges, anything to make a Clinton look bad. In that case Bill, in this case Hillary. You had travel-gate and file-gate and Whitewater, all of which were nonsense. And then you had the Starr Report, a great public expense, to publish huge volumes of pornographic material in the public record, for irrelevancies. I mean, after all these investigations, they found the president had an affair and they tried to make an impeachment out of -- what ought to have been a private sexual affair and ultimately, people said, enough of this. HAYES: Yes, that was -- the sense I got today was, there was no point at which the shovel in the ground was going to hit some kind of bottom. I mean, there`s -- the hearing going known hours or however it ultimately goes. You know, this is a very -- there is no end to this. The process itself is the point. NADLER: Yes, and there`s also no beginning. What you had here was an attack on an American embassy. Similar to the attack on the American embassy in other places at other times, similar to when 240 marines died in Beirut in 1983. Each of those had one investigation, one congressional hearing. Here, we`ve had eight so far, and all to try to pin the blame, and to pin the blame for what? Either, it`s unclear -- either for not preparing properly or for the natural confusion of what happened for a few days afterwards and try to bring down Hillary Clinton politically. And when you really look into it, there`s no there there. And there was no there there for the impeachment of a president based on a private sexual affair. HAYES: The big question here, is there some turning point that happened today? Is there a recognition of this being perhaps not -- you know, this is not a fruitful line of inquiry, and I`m just talking factually in terms of pieces of information that had been turned up today which it was very hard to find any, given that there had been quite, a set of quite thorough reviews of what happened that led to those four deaths. NADLER: This is the eighth, I think, congressional investigation. Two of them were joint Democratic Republican investigations of the Senate. Five were Republican-led investigations in the House. They all tried to find embarrassing information. None succeeded. And you`re not likely to find any new information at this point that didn`t come out then. And that`s clear. So, this is a great waste of time and public money, and nothing we didn`t know has come out today so far. And I think people are going to be very turned off by this. HAYES: You know, this Congress has had a kind of record for its lack of action in terms of the days it has worked, bills passed, et cetera. What do you think about the kind of -- you know, the fact that side by side, you have this hearing and the amount of effort being put into this and some of the more normal courses of business don`t appear to be getting done? NADLER: Well, I think there`s an inordinate amount of misuse -- this is a terrible misuse of the taxpayer`s money and of the congressional process for a political end, a political end that I don`t think they`ll succeed in obtaining, but it`s offered a political end namely to, as Majority Leader McCarthy said, bring down Hillary`s poll numbers, that is what this is all about, and taking up all this money and all this time in accomplishing probably nothing. And compare the fact that we haven`t passed the budget, we haven`t passed a transportation bill, all federal highway funding is going to come to a stop in a couple of weeks if we don`t pass a bill. We haven`t raised the debt ceiling with just a few days to go before the country defaults. And Congress has been following in the past couple of years following a very relaxed schedule of meetings and hearings. It`s quite a contrast to the fact that the majority in this Congress, the Republicans, don`t seem to be interested in actually doing things that Congress should do opposed to making political points. HAYES: All right. Representative Jerrold Nadler, thank you. Still ahead, a look at a name that popped up often today. Sidney Blumenthal, a look at who he is and how he`s related, ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: As the nation`s attention was transfixed on Capitol Hill today, elsewhere in Washington, during a criminal justice panel discussion, President Obama took on the all lives matter reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the reason that the organizers used the phrase "Black Lives Matter" was not because they were suggesting nobody else`s lives matter, rather what they were suggesting was, there is a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that`s not happening in other communities. And that is a legitimate issue that we`ve got to address. The African-American community is not just making this up. And then it`s not just something being politicized. It`s real. And then there`s a history mind it and we have to take it seriously. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOWDY: I think it is imminently fair to ask why Sidney Blumenthal had unfettered access to you, Madam Secretary, with whatever he wanted to talk about, and there`s not a single solitary e-mail to or from you, to or from Ambassador Stevens. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: There is a villain in the GOP version of the Benghazi story. It was Sidney Blumenthal, longtime friend of both Clintons, who frequently exchanged emails to the secretary on her private account, including many discussing politics and the situation in Libya. The Republican majority seems to have been particularly troubled that Blumenthal, a private citizen with a personal relationship to Hillary Clinton may have had better access to the secretary of state than Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was part of the State Department infrastructure with long established systems for secured communication. Clinton herself told the committee, most of her communications on official matters were not conducted by e-mail, a point corroborated on Twitter by former Ambassador Michael McFaul. "As ambassador in Russia, I enjoyed multiple ways to communicate with Secretary Clinton. E-mail was never one of them." Nevertheless, at least one Republican in the committee remained concerned, that Clinton would have more contact with an old friend that with an ambassador in the field. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) POMPEO: Ambassador Stevens did not have your personal e-mail address, we established that. CLINTON: Yes, that`s right. POMPEO: Did he have your cell phone number? CLINTON: No, but he had the 24-hour number of the state operations in the State Department that can reach me 24/7. POMPEO: Yes, ma`am. Did he have your fax number? CLINTON: He had the fax number of the State Department. POMPEO: Did he have your home address? CLINTON: No, I don`t think any ambassador has ever asked me for that. POMPEO: Did he ever stop by your House? CLINTON: No, he did not, Congressman. POMPEO: Mr. Blumenthal had each of those and did each of those things. This man upon who provided you so much information on Libya had access to you in ways that were very different than the access that a very senior diplomat had. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Joining me now, Sam Stein, political editor and White House correspondent for "Huffington Post". Well, Sam, they seem focused on Sidney Blumenthal for a long period. We should say that Sidney Blumenthal, I think, on its face, has nothing to do with the attack on Benghazi, the response to it, that deteriorating security, literally nothing. Am I missing something? SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: They were trying to tie the strategic advice that he was giving her on Libya to some sort of use of resources by her and her staff that could have been diverted, but it was tangential and I`m not sure they made the case, and it sort of devolved into this, did he Snapchat you? Did Chris Stevens Snapchat? Did they LinkedIn with you? And it became this kind of farce about why Sidney Blumenthal was so important but Chris Stevens wasn`t. HAYES: Well, it also to me emits this tremendous -- when she mentions the operation center, I mean, anyone who is around the State Department talks about ops all the time. Ops is a 24-hour control room. They`re monitoring the entire world. There just seemed to me a complete absence of the State Department is and how it works. STEIN: Which is ironic considering how long they`ve been investigating this. You would think with all the email access that they now have, and all the people they`ve talked to, that they would have come to this hearing with a fairly steady understanding of how the system works, what the chains of commands are. But that was sort of laid bare as not true by this hearing. The idea, the notion that 200 ambassadors all around the globe would be personally e- mailing Hillary Clinton with their security needs is just sort of ridiculous on its face. But I think the bigger problem here is they stepped into a strategic trap, which is Democrats on the committee have long been saying, listen, you brought in Sidney Blumenthal for this testimony, let`s release this transcript, because it was all about Media Matters, it was all about Correct the Record, and David Brock, and nothing to do with Benghazi. And as soon as Trey Gowdy started talking about Sidney Blumenthal, focusing on the role he played, it was obvious that Elijah Cummings, the ranking member on this committee, was going to be making that case. And it`s exactly what happened. They closed out the first session of the hearing, and that`s sort of the moment that even is going to remember from this hearing, that spat over this sort of tangential figure on the hearing that was supposed about to be on Benghazi. HAYES: And also this refusal to release the transcript, but there`s been numerous times in the course of this investigation where witnesses have asked their transcripts be made public, and the majority on the committee, the Republicans have refused it. And it`s very hard watching this to think why -- if the people want to make their testimony public, why would you not want to make it public? STEIN: It`s true. The line that Gowdy has used is if we make this transcript public, it will improperly influence future witnesses, as if they will know the questions we want to ask, they`ll be able to tailor their answers to those questions. Therefore, we shouldn`t make it public. But I have to say, there were conservatives very supportive of the Benghazi inquiry on Twitter in column saying this is silly, make the transcript public. Get rid of this issue. Blumenthal is the sort of weird figure, we don`t need to harp on him. HAYES: Right. STEIN: Make it public and move it to the side. HAYES: There was an amazing moment which there was a motion whether to make it public and Representative -- STEIN: Westmoreland, yes. HAYES: -- Westmoreland I believe it was, said, aye, and looked at Gowdy and Gowdy said, no. And he said, oh, no, right. Sam Stein, always a pleasure. Thank you. STEIN: Chris, thanks so much. HAYES: All right. Coming next, a check -- coming up next, a check-in on Iowa where Donald Trump has been dethroned. New polling shows him in second behind Ben Carson. The latest, ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: For the second straight day, we have a statewide poll in the GOP that has Ben Carson leading all other candidates, including Donald Trump. Yesterday, it was Wisconsin survey that had Carson at the top. Today`s Quinnipiac poll comes from the all-important first state in the presidential, Iowa. Those results from Ben Carson ahead of Donald Trump by eight percentage points. That lead is in large part among his support among women who overwhelmingly backed Carson over Trump. Now, following the release of that poll, Donald Trump`s Twitter account shared a bizarre tweet from a supporter that seemed to insinuate that the good people of Iowa had problems with their mental state. The retweet read, quote, "Ben Carson is now leading the polls in Iowa. Too much Monsanto in the corn creates issues in the brain?" This apparent swipe in Iowa voters did not go unnoticed, you`ll be shocked to find out, by the state`s largest newspaper, "The Des Moines Register" which asked, "Donald Trump just tweeted what about Iowa corn?" The tweet was deleted a short time later, with Trump seemingly throwing an intern out of the bus, and I`m quoting here, "The young intern who accidently did a retweet apologizes." Joining me now, journalist and author, Matt Taibbi, contributor editor of "Rolling Stone". His latest book is called, "The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of Wealth Gap" and who spent some time in Iowa as he does every four years. I have long thought that the police that you can see Trump`s support ebbing the first is Iowa, because of how important social conservatives, particularly evangelical Christians are to the voters there. MATT TAIBBI, ROLLING STONE: Yes, to me, the surprise was Trump was the front runner in that state until now. I think -- you know, he`s always going to have an uphill climb because he does poorly with women and evangelicals, which, you know, two huge groups that you have to overcome. And there`s only so many angry dudes that you can get to go to the polls. And Iowa is certainly a place where conservatives, religious conservatives traditionally do well. HAYES: Yes. And there`s also some precedent here. You know, I think, I believe Huckabee won there, Santorum won there. TAIBBI: Yes, exactly. HAYES: People that are essentially viewed as religious conservatives. I think people watching this race unfold who aren`t immersed in that world can underestimate how much Ben Carson really connects with that audience. TAIBBI: Absolutely. He`s -- out of all the candidates who remain in the race, and are still substantive candidates left in the race, he`s the one most unapologetically evangelical, maybe Huckabee still, if you consider him still part of the race. But he`s the one out of the rest of them who is going to get the lion`s share of that vote. HAYES: I thought, today, well, if you have an interesting, if you`re Jeb Bush campaign and the Marco Rubio campaign, you want Ben Carson to win Iowa. TAIBBI: Absolutely. HAYES: Right? Because a Donald Trump win in Iowa threatens a Donald Trump win in New Hampshire, and threatens a real, like a genuine moment of panic and reckoning in the GOP that if Ben Carson wins, all of a sudden that completely changes. TAIBBI: Right. I`m sure that they feel less threatened, and this is to take nothing away from Ben Carson, but I`m sure the Rubios and Bushes in the world feel less threatened by Ben Carson than they do by Donald Trump. Carson is going to get a lot of support now among other things because people just don`t know who he is, and there`s going to be that moment where they learn more about the candidate and his support ebbs and wanes. Whereas Trump, he has absolutely 100 percent name recognition already and his support is pretty static. It`s not going to go anywhere. So, if he wins, he`s going to be there to stay. I don`t think that`s the case with Carson. HAYES: When the, quote, "young intern" retweeted the thing about Iowa people, I have this moment where I thought, well, maybe this is the way it will go down is that if he starts to climb the polls, he`ll turn his insult comic shtick from his fellow candidates to the voters of the states, in which he`s polling poorly. TAIBBI: It`s amazing. When you see that, that`s typically something you see with college athletes do, right? You know, they go on a bender after a game and they tweet something dumb. And then the next day they say their account got hacked. But Trump is doing that. It`s a first for a presidential candidate to pull that stunner. It`s hilarious. HAYES: And this is a thing that the Trump account does, is he will retweet saying really gnarly things as long as it`s in support of him, as if to raise up, like yes, these are my supporters. TAIBBI: He`s like Trump the insult comic dog. That`s his whole shtick on Twitter. It`s pretty funny. As Twitter accounts go, he does have a sense of humor. Yes, you know, on its own merits, he`s a really good tweeter. But, you know, you cannot insult corn in Iowa and expect to win. HAYES: Well, and in some ways, what today showed was that even Donald Trump won`t do that. TAIBBI: Right. HAYES: Like all these moments where people said he crossed the line, he crossed the line, you know, Mexicans are rapist, John McCain, I like people that don`t get captured, this was the line. They found it out today. TAIBBI: Right. HAYES: Corn, like Monsanto, and Iowan`s intelligence is the thing you can say. TAIBBI: Wasn`t that a thank you for smoking where you can`t insult Vermont`s cheese or whatever it was? This is exactly the same thing. You just can`t go there. Even Donald Trump can`t go there. That`s the funny thing. HAYES: Thanks so much. TAIBBI: Thanks so much for having me. HAYES: That`s 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