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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 12/17/2015

Guests: Betsy Woodruff, Suzanne Barakat, Eugene Robinson, McKay Coppins, Sam Biddle

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: December 17, 2015 Guest: Betsy Woodruff, Suzanne Barakat, Eugene Robinson, McKay Coppins, Sam Biddle (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC GUEST HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN -- SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I oppose legalization for illegal aliens. I always have, and I always will. WAGNER: Ted Cruz under fire, accused of flip-flopping on immigration. Then, the CEO who jacked up the price of an AIDS drug by 5,000 percent -- MARTIN SHKRELI, PHARMA CEO: For us to try to exist and make any profit I think is pretty reasonable. WAGNER: He`s now been arrested for securities fraud. ROBERT CAPERS, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NY: Shkreli essentially ran his companies like a Ponzi scheme. WAGNER: Plus, Carly Fiorina gets caught in a big lie. Bernie Sanders picks up a big union endorsement. And Donald Trump gets a big shout out from this guy. ALL IN starts right now. (END VIDEOTAPE) WAGNER: Good evening from New York. I`m Alex Wagner, in for Chris Hayes. Senator Ted Cruz is having a moment. One month ago, Cruz was in fourth place in the GOP presidential race. But he has now surged to second. Cruz presently has the support of 16 percent of Republican primary voters, putting him ahead of every candidate not named Donald Trump. Among the Republican establishment a Trump nomination is widely seen as a potential disaster for their party. And while Cruz is seen as a far from ideal candidate, he is increasingly viewed as perhaps the only candidate who could beat Trump. But who exactly is Ted Cruz? A far right conservative with a reputation for putting his ambition before the interests of his party, Cruz has been dubbed the most hated man in the Senate, with a surplus of stories detailing just how many people, especially his colleagues, simply can`t stand him. The hatred for Ted Cruz even extends to his college roommate, who told "The Daily Beast", "I would rather have anybody else be president of the United States. Anyone. I would rather pick somebody from the phone book." Cruz has cast himself as utterly ideologically pure, a straight- talking conservative who won`t abandon his core beliefs, a man who will never lie to the American people. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You should be elected president because just one sentence. CRUZ: Because I`ll tell the truth and I`ll do what I said I would do. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: I`ll tell the truth and I`ll do what I said I would do. In 2013, Ted Cruz offered an amendment to the comprehensive immigration reform bill that offered a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Cruz`s amendment stripped that path to citizenship out of the bill, but very notably it did not prevent undocumented immigrants from gaining legal status as Cruz himself pointed out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRUZ: If this amendment is adopted to the current bill, the effect would be that those 11 million under this current bill would still be eligible for RPI status. They would still be eligible for legal status. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: So that was Ted Cruz in 2013 pushing legalization for undocumented immigrants. But in 2015, in the throes of a hot presidential race senator Cruz is saying something very different. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Does Ted Cruz rule out ever legalizing people that are in this country illegally now? DANA BASH, CNN MODERATOR: Senator Cruz? CRUZ: I have never supported legalization -- RUBIO: Do you rule it out? CRUZ: I have never supported legalization and I do not intend to support legalization. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Cruz and his campaign now say his 2013 amendment pushing legal status was never meant to pass and was a so-called poison pill to kill immigration reform. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRUZ: All of Washington was saying this cannot be stopped, that they had the votes to ram it through the Senate and that Republican leadership in the House was going to take it up and pass it. This was a done deal. And by revealing the truth, calling their bluff, we were able to mobilize and energize the American people and defeat it. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Yet in 2013 Cruz was adamant that, quote, "if this amendment were to pass, the chances of the immigration bill passing into law would increase dramatically," a case he also made in the Senate. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRUZ: I don`t want immigration reform to fail. I want immigration reform to pass. And so, I would urge people of good faith on both sides of the aisle, if the objective is to pass common sense immigration reform that secures the borders, that improves legal immigration, and that allows those who are here illegally to come in out of the shadows, then we should look for areas of bipartisan agreement and compromise to come together. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: So Ted Cruz`s position today is this: better the American public understand that I was playing a slimy Washington game, lying through my teeth in the U.S. Senate during that impassioned speech than the American public believe I truly wanted to help undocumented immigrants gain legal status. Joining me now from Ted Cruz`s campaign rally tonight in St. Paul, Minnesota, is NBC News correspondent Hallie Jackson. Hallie, thanks for joining me. How worried is the Cruz campaign about the issue of legalization? HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s certainly something that Cruz has been very strongly coming out and talking about at campaign events like this one. He spoke with the press, members of the media just before this rally began. And as you can tell by the noise behind me, the rally`s just wrapping up right now. But Cruz came out very strongly and said he opposes citizenship, he opposes legalization, he opposes amnesty, and he took some shots at Senator Marco Rubio as he`s been doing for really the last four weeks or so. Obviously, the debate is the first time that we heard him challenge Senator Rubio, challenge on his position, Senator Cruz challenge on his. This is a fight between the two that really shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. WAGNER: Hallie, how familiar are the crowds and Cruz supporters with Senator Cruz`s position in 2014 and some of the statements he made around immigration reform? JACKSON: You know, I think there`s a sense, it`s not quite as clear to me that people know as much about Senator Cruz`s position on immigration as they may have about for example Senator Rubio`s support of that comprehensive immigration reform bill, something that was very high-profile at the time back in 2013. But Cruz, remember, he`s doing this tour right now, Alex, this fly- around of the so-called SEC primary states, the Super Tuesday states that vote on March 1st, and in a lot of these particularly southern states and a lot of places where there are very strong -- there is a very strong conservative base, you`ve got folks that do not support any kind of legalization for undocumented immigrants, people living in this country here legally. And in fact, this is an issue when you look at the polling that Ted Cruz beats Senator Rubio in. WAGNER: Hallie Jackson with NBC News -- thanks for the update, Hallie. Joining me now are Sam Stein, senior politics editor of "The Huffington Post", and Betsy Woodruff, politics reporter at "The Daily Beast". Sam, let me ask you a question. Is this the moment where Ted Cruz`s Senate history and his Senate career comes and catches back up with him? SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: It`s tough to tell because on the one hand, you know, if you look at it from the lens of a Republican primary voter, Marco Rubio`s fingerprints are all over the gang of eight bill. He literally wrote the bill. And so, if there was a heresy within Republican Party, you would argue that Marco Rubio has the greater heresy. But I think you kind of nailed it in the opening. Ted Cruz is caught here in that he`s exposing himself as a conniving politician and one he laments all the time in interviews like the one you played he did with CBS. And so, he`s in a tough spot here. From the reporting that my colleague Liz Foley did and she was on top of this debate back in 2013 and has stayed on top of it ever since, the truth of the matter is that Ted Cruz likely was trying to derail the bill. I mean, everyone who was on the Democratic side viewed this as a poison pill amendment, a transparent one at that, and that`s why the voted it down. But to your point again, if that is the case, then he`s just saying to himself that yes, I was a conniving politician at the time and yes, I shouldn`t have been trusted then. WAGNER: OK. So, Betsy, Marco Rubio has not let this go by unnoticed. I want to play a little bit of sound from Marco Rubio suggesting that Ted Cruz is weak on the question of amnesty. Let`s take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUBIO: Well, he`s going to have a hard time because he`s not told the truth about his position in the past on legalization. And up until the other night at the debate, he had never said what he said. And even there at the debate, he said he didn`t intend to legalize people in the future. Again, I think very crafty language. What`s happening here is pretty clear. I think Ted wanted to leave the option of legalization open. He wanted to get through a primary without having to discuss it. I know he never brings up his support of legalization in Iowa or in the stump speeches, but he supports legalization. And I think his hope was, once he got into the general election, to then start talking about legalization as a way to attract more voters. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: I mean, Betsy, he brings up a good point, which was Cruz`s language on the subject of legalization during that debate where he did seem to leave the door open. BETSY WOODRUFF, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes. Absolutely. Cruz said that he was open to the idea of giving legal status but not citizenship to folks living in the United States without papers undocumented. Now, what`s really interesting and important about this I think is how politically savvy Marco Rubio is being. The fact is, ever since the Republican debate, the conversation has been dominated by basically hair- splitting about Ted Cruz`s -- this one amendment Ted Cruz pushed in 2013 when the reality is that Rubio has a way bigger immigration problem at least in this primary than Cruz possibly does. But Rubio and his team have very effectively shifted the focus to Cruz, a valid focus, an interesting focus, and that`s been quite effective for them and I think it`s going to pay dividends for Rubio going forward. WAGNER: The other weird dynamic that`s playing out here, Sam, is if there is one guy on the Republican debate stage that Republican establishment would like to see to be the nominee it`s Marco Rubio, who is a sitting senator. If there`s one guy they don`t want to see other than Donald Trump, it`s Ted Cruz. And now, you have an interesting sort of quiet coalescing around Rubio, but there is the tacit acknowledgment that nobody can come out and say outright deeply critical things of Ted Cruz precisely because he`s so strong. And come 2016 as Johnny Isaacson says, they may be on the same ballot. STEIN: I suppose. Also, Ted Cruz has a very robust and well-funded super PAC sitting in his corner that who knows, they could just go completely nuclear on Marco Rubio. So, this is a difficult one. But, you know, if he`s not going to be a presidential candidate, Marco Rubio should be a pundit because his analysis of what Ted Cruz is trying to do was spot on. I mean, the inclusion of that word "intend to" was very -- or those two words -- is very, very telling. I mean, Ted Cruz is no dummy. He realizes that he needs, if he wins this thing in the primary to shift his focus on immigration in the general election. And that`s the unfortunate reality that he`s facing. Marco Rubio is in a bit of a better spot because, you know, he can say that the waters were muddied by Obama and he`s always supported a pathway to citizenship. So, I think in this debate, you know, yes, Marco Rubio`s doing a very tactful job in putting the onus on Ted Cruz, but he also starts out from a very interesting position himself. WAGNER: Betsy, I guess I just wonder how much you can even etch-a- sketch, to borrow a Mitt Romney phrase from 2012. This primary process has been such a public bloodletting that I guess I wonder, is -- Ted Cruz, can he legitimately think that he can pivot to a more general election-friendly position on immigration come the summer? WOODRUFF: It`s going to be extraordinarily tough. And here`s why -- there`s basically two schools of thought in the Republican Party on immigration. One school of thought is the establishment folks, the chamber of commerce. They believe immigration is good for the economy, but it needs to be legal. The other school of thought is Jeff Sessions, the Tea Party, Donald Trump, they believe immigration is inherently bad, especially large numbers of immigration. Ted Cruz is trying to appeal to both camps. He`s trying to simultaneously say, yes, I support legal immigration, I think it`s helpful. But also at the same time in his immigration policy platform dramatically reduce the number of visas for high school workers, go after undocumented immigrants living here illegally right now. You can`t have it both ways. And the Republican primary vote is very concerned about immigration, while general election voters have a much more favorable view of what immigration does for the country. Those views are diametrically opposed. Cruz is trying to have it both ways. And it looks like it`s making his life pretty complicated. WAGNER: I mean, call me old-fashioned too, Sam, but I just feel like you don`t want people like your college roommate coming out saying I would rather have literally any random person in the phone book president over Ted Cruz. I mean, does that stuff matter? Does the character assessment from non-political people matter at this point in American politics? STEIN: You`re old-fashioned, Alex. OK? (CROSSTALK) STEIN: Did you really have better -- you had better roommates than that? Geez. You lucked out. No, obviously -- WAGNER: Your college experience is different than mine, Sam. STEIN: Clearly. Obviously, it sucks to have your college roommate come out and say you`re the worst person in the world. Not just on a political level but on a personal one. That`s got to be very humiliating for Ted. WAGNER: We shall see how it all plays out and whether or not a phone book is called upon at the Republican convention. Sam Stein and Betsy Woodruff, thanks to you both. STEIN: Bye, Alex. WOODRUFF: Sure thing. WAGNER: Still ahead, a big week for Bernie Sanders, who picks up a much-needed endorsement. Plus, the face of evil pharma. Martin Shkreli, who famously marked up the price of a life-saving drug by over 5,000 percent. He is arrested for securities fraud. And later, the unwavering strength Republican candidates are showing by maintaining lies in the face of the truth. Those stories and more, just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) WAGNER: Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders got a huge endorsement today from the Communication Workers of America Union, representing 700,000 workers nationally. The executive board voted unanimously for Sanders after a grassroots poll of its members voted decisively in his favor according to CWA President Chris Shelton. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS SHELTON, CWA PRESIDENT: So, Bernie Sanders just won the first election that`s happened in this country for president. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT) (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And you and I know that the middle class does well when trade unionism does well. And you and I know how difficult it is for workers across this country to come together and try form a union because they are attacked illegally, unfairly, by employers who are making it so difficult for workers to exercise their constitutional rights. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Hillary Clinton has received more than a dozen endorsements from national labor unions outpacing Sanders` three endorsements. But the CWA nod is Sanders` biggest union endorsement so far. Sanders also won the endorsement of Democracy for America, a group that was behind an effort to draft Senator Elizabeth Warren. And Donald Trump also got a big stamp of approval today. That story is coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) WAGNER: Tonight, Enrique Marquez, a friend of Syed Farook, one of the San Bernardino shooters, is in federal custody. Within the last hour, he made his first appearance in court where he was asked if he understood the charges against him, which include conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. He has yet to plead. According to the FBI, the 25 -- the 24-year-old former neighbor of Farook purchased the two semi-automatic rifles used in the deadly attack that killed 14 people. Prosecutors allege that Marquez bought the rifles in late 2011 and early 2012 when the two friends were plotting attacks on a freeway and at Riverside Community College where they had both been students. Martinez -- Marquez is the first person charged in connection with the San Bernardino shooting, an attack that came less than a month after gunmen and suicide bombers coordinated attacks in Paris, instantly changing the contours of the 2016 presidential campaign. The back-to-back attacks put an intense focus on foreign policy and specifically terrorism. And the two political parties have reacted to that shift in radically different ways. Last night on "Jimmy Kimmel", Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner, once again defended his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN/TV HOST: Do you think there`s any truth to the argument that when you do something like this, when you say something like this, it helps recruiting, it helps ISIS because it makes people angry? You know, somebody who`s Muslim and who`s never had any of these thoughts goes why am I -- why can`t I go to Disneyland? DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I really didn`t - - this has come up two days ago, a couple of people brought this up. I don`t buy it. We need -- KIMMEL: You don`t? Really? TRUMP: I don`t buy that, no. I don`t buy that argument. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Meanwhile, the White House hosted its second event this week with members of the Muslim community. And yesterday, Bernie Sanders became the second Democratic candidate to visit a mosque, where he denounced hate speech from the right. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANDERS: They want us to believe that the average Muslim is a terrorist, and they want us to stop Muslims from coming into this country. And unbelievably, in defiance of the basic tenets of our Constitution, there are some who are even talking about shutting down mosques like the one we are in. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: The partisan divide on views toward Muslims, a group we should note of over a billion people, is not just limited to presidential candidates. The latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll finds that 43 percent of Republicans hold a favorable view of Muslims compared to 75 percent of Democrats, and 48 percent of Republicans say they have an unfavorable view of Muslims, compared to just 14 percent of Democrats. Joining me now is Dr. Suzanne Barakat. She is the sister of Deah Barakat, a victim in the Chapel Hill shooting earlier this year. She attended an interfaith panel at the White House earlier. Thanks so much for joining me, doctor. SUZANNE BARAKAT, SISTER OF CHAPEL HILL SHOOTING VICTIM: Thank you for having me on. WAGNER: Once again, we express our collective condolences for the tragedy that befell your family earlier this year. And I guess I wonder looking as we are at the conclusion of 2015, how do you make sense of what has happened, and where do you see Muslim-American relations at this point? BARAKAT: I don`t make sense of anything, honestly. It`s pretty confusing. Back in February, Deah, his wife of six weeks and her younger sister Roseanne were murdered in their home from what we believe to be a hate crime, murdered by their neighbor in their own home. And with the increasing anti-Muslim rhetoric we`re hearing today from presidential candidates like Trump it`s only increasing the amount of hate crimes that we are seeing just in the last month alone. I believe at least 30 hate crimes have been reported. I would imagine, or I would have hoped that in the aftermath of February, we would be coming together to address these issues to better know our neighbors. But instead, we are inciting this hate, we are fueling the hate to continue to cause this kind of damage. And before long, Mr. Trump, you are going to have blood on your hands, and it`s all going to be because of what you say. WAGNER: Well, to be fair, I think there are folks who would say even if people were coming together, what happened in San Bernardino splintered any unity that might have been. And what was your reaction to that when you heard about that? You`re a resident of California, is that correct? BARAKAT: I am a resident of California. What happened in San Bernardino was a tremendous tragedy. But I think just like what we have done, you know, the FBI released a report today just saying that we have rushed so quickly, the media rushed so quickly to say that they pledged their allegiance to is. You know, with any other mass shooting in the U.S. Take the Planned Parenthood shooting, for example, we don`t attribute it to his white Christian faith. But if it`s a Muslim then all of a sudden the entire Muslim-American population is responsible. And if I`m honest, I`m exhausted, I`m drained, I`m -- it`s not fair that when one Muslim does something that define themselves as a Muslim, that the entire faith has to try and defend it, defend themselves. But on the contrary when you have a white Christian man who commits a mass murder, we`re not holding everyone else responsible for that. This double standard I think needs to end. WAGNER: Tell me a little bit about the conversation that`s happening inside the Muslim community. Because it feels often like a one-way conversation, which is non-Muslims talking about or to Muslims. You are a Muslim. What is the conversation? BARAKAT: I mean, I think there are many conversations that are happening, obviously, between Muslims and non-Muslims and also within the Muslim community. But I think it`s important to recognize that with Islam being the second largest religion in the world, Muslims make up the fabric of this country just as any other faith does and there are different fragments within the Muslim community, there are different opinions. But to hold -- to identify everyone and to fit them into one stereotype of one Muslim is also inadequate. There are conversations that need to be had for sure, but with regards to -- let me rephrase that by saying, it has felt like an undue burden to try and anytime anyone has said anything about Islam to be the face and to be -- WAGNER: Let me ask you, how would you -- because you are Muslim and we`re talking about an issue where 1 billion people, you know, have been implicated in many folks` eyes wrongly in this, but are nonetheless Islam is at the center of this discussion, how would you like folks to talk about this? I mean, who are not Muslim and who don`t perhaps understand. BARAKAT: I think raising awareness about who Muslims are and just recognizing -- and I think a perfect exemplary way to do that is to just look at who Deah and Rezan were. We are contributing members to this society. I am as much American as I am as you are. And it is very offensive when I am hearing someone like Trump attack me personally and other people of my faith to say that we don`t belong here and that we need IDs and that there needs to be a ban on us, contributing American citizens who have -- who are physicians, lawyers, engineers, teachers, in law enforcement. It`s kind of absurd to me that we`re putting -- let`s put Muslims into this bucket and let`s -- you know, it`s the fear of the unknown. And as long as we continue to spew this hate and ignorance it`s only going to bring on more hate and ignorance and hate and violence. WAGNER: And you point out rightly that Muslims are professionals, all over. They contribute to the fabric of American society. You`re a doctor. And I guess I wonder from your personal experience, in the halls of the hospital wearing a head scarf, what has that been like for you in this moment, serving the general public? BARAKAT: I have always been proud of my faith growing up. I grew up in the South and I have encountered many instances where whether patients or faculty alike who at times are racist in what they say. And after February, it became much more acute of the anti-Muslim rhetoric or the certain questions that would be asked because of my hijab. At the same time, I do want to say that there have been so many people who have been outpouring in their support and love, but unfortunately, those voices get drowned in the hate. I have had people approach me in the middle of the hallway saying, you know -- and I work at San Francisco General Hospital serving an underserved patient population, the majority of whom are homeless. And I have people coming down who are working at the hospital who will say, oh, she mustn`t be a terrorist because she has a badge on. And these are words that we hear, that I hear in the halls of my working environment. So, this exists in all places. I was almost run over the other day by a patient leaving the hospital who stuck out his middle finger and called me you f-ing B because I was a Muslim. And that`s very hurtful to me that despite me being a contributory model citizen of my country that I am being attacked and being unwelcomed. And I`d like to also add that with Donald Trump addressing Syrian refugees as if they are this third-class citizen, I have worked with Syrian refugees on the Syrian-Turkish border. I have family members who are now Syrian refugees. And to also dehumanize them and otherize them is beyond despicable and inhumane, and as long as we continue dehumanizing and otherizing people, whoever they may be, then we are at risk of a lot of violence and hate and misunderstandings within our country. WAGNER: Dr. Suzanne Barakat, thanks so much for joining me tonight. BARAKAT: Thank you. WAGNER: Still ahead, how lying seems to be the new normal among certain Republican candidates. Why they are getting away with it, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


MIKE MYERS, ACTOR: Okay. Let me guess. The floss is garrote wire, he toothpaste is plastic explosives, and the toothbrush is the detonation device.

HURLEY: No, actually. Since you`ve been frozen, there have been fabulous advances in the field of dentistry.

MYERS: What do you mean?

HURLEY: Nothing. Oh, look, here`s Basel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, exposition.

MYERS: Austin.


WAGNER: The joke was always on them, so much so that a dental professional in London, sick and tired of British dental hygiene jokes, teamed up with researchers to compare dental health in England and the U.S.

Their findings -- Americans have more missing teeth than the Brits, and poor Americans have worse dental health than their English counterparts.

According to the New York Times, the British Medical Journal determined that American adults have more missing teeth than their English counterparts, 7.31, compared with 6.97.

To be fair, according to The Washington Post, while the BMJ study said Americans` teeth are no better than the British teeth, it stopped short of saying they were worse.

While different practices on -- different practices on tooth extraction might account for some of the discrepancy, one of the other reasons cited in the study is the difference in health care systems.

In the U.S. people are dependent on dental insurance, whereas Britain has a national health service, which is probably why people on the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder in America reported worse dental health than their counterparts in England.

While Americans who have achieved the highest educational and income levels generally reported better dental health than the same group in Britain.

That leaves poor Americans with one more thing to worry about. Teeth that are worse than even those of the English. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WAGNER: Martin Shkreli, aka Pharma Bro, the young drug company entrepreneur and former hedge fund manager who eagerly jacked up the price of a life-saving aids drug 5,000%, a move that earned him widespread condemnation with even Donald Trump saying, "Shkreli ought to be ashamed of himself." That guy was arrested at his Manhattan apartment this morning on charges of securities fraud.

So in a few short months, the 32-year-old Brooklyn native has gone from this to this. The charges stem not from the price gouging controversy, but from Shkreli`s time as a hedge fund manager.

According to Bloomberg, prosecutors in Brooklyn charged him with illegally taking stock from a biotechnology firm he started in 2011 and using it to pay off debts from unrelated business dealings. Kind of a ponzi scheme.

Federal officials summed up the charges as, quote, "a security fraud trifecta of lies, deceit, and greed." Greed is a word that has become synonymous with Shkreli`s public persona.

In a recent interview, Shkreli suggested he hadn`t gone far enough in raising the price of the life-saving aids medication Daraprim.


KYM WHITE, HEALTH: If you could rewind the clock a few months, I wonder if you would do anything differently.

MARTIN SHKRELI, ENTREPRENUER: Raise the price higher is probably what I would have done.


SHKRELI: I think health care prices are inelastic. I could have it raised higher and made more profits for shareholders.


WAGNER: In addition to defending his price hikes, Shkreli recently made news as the guy who paid $2 million for the sole copy the of the Wu- Tang Clan album, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin.

At least conference earlier today, at least one reporter seemed to be imagining a situation in which Shkreli`s arrest could lead somehow, some way to the release of that album.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m glad I`m not the only one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Wu-Tang Clan album.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wondered how long it was going to take for that. I can`t comment on that. As I said, this investigation centers on his conduct as manager of these funds. We`re not aware of where he got the funds that he raised for the Wu-Tang Clan album.


WAGNER: Shkreli has been freed on $5 million bond, and in a statement just released, Shkreli`s representative says, Shkreli is confident that he will be cleared of all charges.

Joining me now is Sam Biddle, senior writer at Gawker.

Sam, I would say this seems like karma except that Shkreli has seemed to relish every step of his descent into the whatever circle of, you know, villainess.

SAM BIDDLE, GAWKER: I think he considers himself just another viral star.

He`s hated instead of loved but yeah, I think he`s been having a blast.

WAGNER: Did he -- do you think at any point -- I mean, we just played that presser where his public statement saying that he would have raised the price of the drug even more.

Has he tried to ameliorate his -- or rehabilitate his image at all through the course of this?

BIDDLE: No. And in fact, he`s done everything to instigate further criticism, to drag his -- he`s dragged his own name through the mud, which is hard to do.

I mean, the one thing that he`s done to maybe try to humanize himself is these weird marathon YouTube Livestream sessions where he`ll just answer fan questions in the middle of the night and play guitar and sleep and it`s a bizarre thing on top of --

WAGNER: Perhaps sad and lonely behavior.

BIDDLE: Perhaps a little -- yeah, maybe he just wanted attention, even bad attention, which no one ever told him that was --

WAGNER: Well, it`s up for debate whether any attention is necessarily bad attention.

Let me ask you, though, this is bigger than just one guy who seems to maybe not be a particularly guy. This is also a story about big pharma, right?

I want to quote something from The Atlantic, which analyzes sort of the importance of Shkreli, or the fact this is more insidious.

"He may just as well be an imagined manifestation of national guilt over a broken health care system, broken largely because of the costs of medications. In mocking his hubris, we mock a person for operating within a system that we created and continue to subsidize."

The greed thing. He is that sort of Gordon gekkoish figure for this part of of the, you know, millennium.

BIDDLE: I think it`s important to have a villain for big pharma. Wall Street is well covered, we don`t need more. But to have someone say, oh, yeah, did you hear about that Shkreli guy? What did he do? He was a pharmaceutical CEO. Well, why do we hate him?

WAGNER: Because the hedge fund piece is also part of this. It`s not quite the trifecta, although the withholding of the Wu-Tang Clan puts him in another -- what`s going to go on with that? If you had to predict.

Are we going to ever hear that album?

BIDDLE: I predicted some superfan will find their way into his apartment, legally or illegally, and get that album. How could they not?

WAGNER: He has taunted the public with this album, right?

BIDDLE: I mean, he bought it basically just to gloat about it and bury it from anyone else listening to it.

So, I mean, that is like James Bond supervillain level.

WAGNER: What has happened and is there a hairless cat on his lap that he strokes? Because the evilness knows no bounds. It is almost comedic if it wasn`t so tragic.


WAGNER: Sam Biddle from Gawker, thanks for your time.

BIDDLE: My pleasure.

WAGNER: Still ahead, Donald Trump gets some international appreciation from a man who would give trump the shirt off his own back if only because that man is often not wearing a shirt.

I`ll explain just ahead.


WAGNER: Donald Trump just got a huge stamp of approval today from Russian president Vladimir Putin, who, when asked about Trump after his annual news conference told reporters, "He is a very flamboyant man, very talented, no doubt about that. He is an absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it today."

Flamboyant, which is high praise coming from this guy, who posts videos of his workouts and shows up shirtless pretty much as often as possible.

Trump welcomed those comments from the Russian strongman, saying, "It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond."

Putin`s effusive praise for Trump drew the attention of Senator John McCain, who said the two are a match made in heaven, which reminded us of this little love song. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA: I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill, on Blueberry Hill, when I found you.




CARLY FIORINA, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the things I would immediately do, in addition to defeating them here at home, is bring back the warrior class. Petraeus, McChrystal, Mattus, Keane, Flynn. Every single one of these generals I know, every one was retired early because they told President Obama things that he didn`t want to hear.


WAGNER: At Tuesday night`s debate, Carly Fiorina made a forceful case as for why she should be the next commander in chief.

Unfortunately, a lot of the facts supporting her case weren`t actually facts.

One of the generals she mentioned, Stanley McChrystal, didn`t lose his job because of a disagreement with President Obama. He lost it thanks to a now infamous Rolling Stone article that quoted him and his staff insulting the vice president and other top officials.

David Petraeus, meanwhile, then the director of the CIA, was forced to resign after it was discovered that he had leaked classified information to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.

As for retired general Jack Keane, another general mentioned by Fiorina, this was his response.


JACK KEANE, RETIRED GENERAL: No, I`ve never spoken to the president. That`s not accurate. And I never served this administration. I served the previous administration.


WAGNER: Keane retired from the military in the year 2003, nearly six years before President Obama took office. But even after being presented with that information, which is to say the truth, Fiorina insisted, quote, "no, I didn`t misspeak. He has been someone of great experience who has been highly critical of the way this administration has not taken threats seriously and unfortunately he hasn`t been listened to and I would listen to him."

This is not the first time Carly Fiorina has refused to let the facts stand in her way. There was of course her false account of the Planned Parenthood sting videos.


FIORINA: Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you acknowledge what every fact checker has found, that as horrific as that scene is, it was only described on the video by someone who claimed to have seen it, there is not -- no actual footage of the incident that you just mentioned?

FIORINA: No, I don`t accept that at all. I`ve seen the footage.


WAGNER: The truth can be sometimes elusive in a campaign season. But between Carly Fiorina`s lies, Ben Carson`s fabricated biographical details, Donald Trump`s claims about Muslims, Mexicans, and refugees, this presidential race seems to have hit a new low in distortion and outright mendacity.

In a ranking from Politifact of both parties` presidential contenders, as well as some current and former office holders, Carson, Trump and Ted Cruz came in dead last with a vast majority of all their fact check statements rated mostly false or worse.

Up next, the lies, damned lies and statistics driving the Republican race for president.


WAGNER: Joining me now, McKay Coppins, senior political writer for Buzzfeed News and author of the new book, The Wilderness. And Eugene Robinson, MSNBC political analyst and Pulitzer prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post.

McKay, I want to read a quote from Erick Erickson. He says, via Twitter, "the media -- that the media still thinks it has a standing with the public to play fact checker is cute."

Please respond to that, McKay.

MCKAY COPPINS, BUZZFEED: Well, he`s actually right in terms of how much impact we can actually have.

Here`s the reality, and this has been shown not just with Carly Fiorina. It`s been shown across the presidential race, particularly on the Republican side because there are so many candidates. They`re talking more -- they`re saying more words every day, which means that if you`re a politician that probably means you`re going to say more lies every day, or say more inaccurate things every day.

WAGNER: That sort of depends on the politician too.

COPPINS: But my point is that, you know, the media -- our media, it`s not a surprise that our media`s become very segmented and fractured, and if you`re a conservative there`s a lot of conservative options now for your media consumption on TV, online, on radio, and you know, if you don`t want to hear that your candidate, your favorite Republican candidate is lying to you or saying things that are at least false, you don`t have to. Right?

And, for a lot of candidates, particularly Donald Trump I think, you actually run into a situation where the more fact checks that the mainstream media does his rhetoric...

WAGNER: The more it reinforces...

COPPINS: The more it helps him because it only strengthens his whole narrative that he sells to his voters, which is that I`m the one like true outsider taking -- telling the truth and everyone else is scared of me. Right? And that`s why they`re trying to take me down.

WAGNER: Eugene, when you look at the statistics, the president who is fact-checked more than anybody else, I believe Politifact fact-checked him 569 statements, he comes out as being a mostly truthful guy, and most of the folks who are up there with the false statements are Republicans, which is this sort of vicious circle, right?

The Republicans say that this is further confirmation of leftist media bias.

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: Exactly. It`s a self-reinforcing narrative.

First of all, Alex, I think we in the media are pretty cute, actually. I think Erick Erickson is right, and I take that as a compliment.

And look, all we can do is put what we believe to be the truth or what we find to be the truth out there. And sometimes it actually does make a difference.

One of the clips we saw was Chris Wallace of Fox News, generally thought to be a pretty conservative media outlet, you know, pressing on the question of those videos which did not exist.

And so, you know, if people choose to believe what they want to believe, see the world as they wish it were or they think it might be, rather than what we find, I don`t know what we can do about that.

WAGNER: Well, I think there are repercussions, too, beyond just kind of narrative. It`s legislating.

If you have one group of people who do not believe in the agreed-upon facts, legislating on things like oh, I don`t know, climate change for which there should be some scientific agreement becomes almost impossible.

COPPINS: And I think that there`s something to this idea that -- it`s true that people can believe what they want to and there is a certain segment of the population on both sides or all sides of the various political ideologies that will always just believe whatever they want to believe, but I also think that there`s kind of a supply and demand thing going on here, which is we`re at a moment now where you can -- these debates you can be instantly fact- checked.

And if you`re following along on Twitter when it`s happening, people, you can easily grab the information, find out if what they`re saying is true, fact-check them, put it out there.

But because there`s such a flood of information and such a flood of fact checkers, it almost makes it so each individual piece of information or fact check is less valuable, and people just don`t care as much.

WAGNER: Yeah, I guess. Eugene is there repercussions to being called a mendacious liar?

Carly Fiorina basically gave the hand, the rhetorical hand to the suggestion that she was wrong. Donald Trump has staked his career on basically being wrong.

ROBINSON: Well, it seems to depend on who you really are. I mean, Carly Fiorina`s numbers, as you`ve seen, her poll numbers have gone down. And she`s really way back in the pack now. For a moment there she had her head above water and looked like she could do something in this race. And that doesn`t appear to be the case now.

On the other hand, Donald Trump kind of creates his own reality. He`s very good at what he does. And that is part of what he does. And his supporters seem to be so loyal, and so fed up with traditional politics and politicians, that they`re willing to say, oh, sure, you know, maybe it`s -- maybe it`s true, maybe it`s not, but we`re with Donald.

WAGNER: I guess I wonder if this moment feels different, McKay. Obviously, technology has sped up the speed of information and fact checking and so forth.

But I wonder if the depth of the lies and the harm that they can cause, whether it is in inaction on the pressing existential issues of our day, whether it is furthering a bigoted narrative about certain segments of our population, certain Americans, whether it is more harmful and more insidious, the mendacity, than it has been in previous cycles.

MCKAY: I think that it can spread faster, a lie can spread much faster than ever before. And I think that -- so for example, I think that one of the things you see a lot with Donald Trump`s followers, his fans online, is that they will often start a -- Trump will say something that`s untrue. And they will grab on to it.

And some of the people, his fans will know that it`s not true, what he`s saying. But they`ll spread it anyway. Right?

And then you -- there`s a feedback loop where they say it so many times and tweet about it, write about it. Talk about it on the radio. Where they start to believe it`s true.

And, in the meantime, they`ve spread it so far to people who don`t have as much information or aren`t consuming as much news and they believe it. And sometimes I wonder, we throw around the term liar a lot, lying, and they`re saying inaccurate things, false things. Sometimes, though, I wonder if people like -- I mean, Trump is a sociopathic cynic.

But aside from Trump, a lot of people, they have just convinced themselves of an untrue thing and just decided that they`re going to go with it.

And I think a lot of these people have started to believe these false, not just narratives but factual inaccuracies, internalized them and decided they`re never going to check it again.

WAGNER: Saying something often enough and loudly enough does still not make it true. Memo to everyone out there.

McKay Coppins and Eugene Robinson, gentlemen, thank you both for your time.

That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.