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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 1/14/2016

Guests: Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Rebecca Traister, McKay Coppins, David Dayen, Alan Grayson

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 14, 2016 Guest: Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Rebecca Traister, McKay Coppins, David Dayen, Alan Grayson


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN --

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Stupid mike keeps popping.

HAYES: The next big thing is here.

TRUMP: Well, I heard it`s a big thing.

HAYES: Donald Trump`s new attack.

TRUMP: I know nothing about it, but I hear it`s a very big thing.

HAYES: Tonight, new polling sends chills down Republicans` spines as talk of a brokered convention heats up.

Then, the Republican birther fight and the Democratic congressman threatening to sue.

Plus, the single biggest endorsement since Kennedy backed Obama, tonight, as Democrats push to pick who should win the Elizabeth Warren primary.

And, first, the president challenged the NRA --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You`d think they`d be prepared to have a debate with the president.

HAYES: Today, a response.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA: I`ll meet you for a one-on-one one-hour debate.

HAYES: But should the president accept?

ALL IN starts right now.


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

An hour from now on a stage in North Charleston, South Carolina, the two GOP candidates duking it out for victory in Iowa will come face to face for the first time in 2016.

For most of the campaign Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have been reluctant to take each other on. Trump waiting until provoked, although poking the bear a bit. Cruz hoping to curry favor with his rival supporters, a strategy he`s referred to as bear hugging Trump.

But now, with the Iowa caucuses less than three weeks away, all that starting to change. Tonight`s debate is hosted by Fox Business. It`s the first one to feature just seven candidates on the main stage with Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina having been bumped thanks to low poll numbers. And all eyes on Trump on center stage and the man to his left.

At a campaign rally last night in Florida, Trump remarked on the new dynamic between Cruz and himself.


TRUMP: Ted`s been really nice until the last couple of days, Ted Cruz. He`s been really, really nice, other than the last couple of days, getting a little testy. I`ve been waiting. I`ve been waiting.


HAYES: As Iowa comes down to the wire, things have started to get a bit testy between the two front-runners and with a conservative electorate motivated largely it appears by identity politics, and demographic fears, each selling the same negative story about his opponent, he`s just not one of us.

That was the subtext of a somewhat bizarre comment Trump made a few weeks about Cruz`s religion.


TRUMP: You got to remember in all fairness, to the best of my knowledge, not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba, OK? Just remember that, OK, just remember.


HAYES: It seems to underlie Trump`s claim that because Cruz was born in Canada, there may be questions about his eligibility to run for president. Meanwhile, Cruz has countered Trump`s birther attacks by tying him to liberal east coast elites, all that`s opposed to what Sarah Palin once called the real America.

After a Harvard law professor, Lawrence Tribe, who actually taught Ted Cruz, penned an op-ed questioning Cruz`s eligibility. This was the candidate`s response.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is a little strange to see Donald relying on as authoritative a liberal, left wing judicial activist Harvard law professor, who`s a huge Hillary supporter. It starts to make you think, gosh, why are Hillary`s strongest supporters backing Donald Trump?


HAYES: Then, there was Cruz`s comment about New York values, another culture war dog whistle.


CRUZ: I think he may shift in his new rallies to playing "New York, New York", because, you know, Donald comes from New York and he embodies New York values, and, listen, Donald seems to be a bit rattled.


HAYES: Despite Ted Cruz`s decidedly elite credentials, Princeton undergrad, Harvard law school, Supreme Court clerkship, white shoe law firm, he`s managed to forge a very different political identity.

Yesterday, Cruz scored the ultimate validation of that creative identity, an endorsement from "Duck Dynasty`s" Phil Robertson.


PHIL ROBERTSON, DUCK DYNASTY: He`s godly. He loves us. He`s the man for the job and he will go duck hunting.

The reason we`re going to vote for you, all of us, is because you`re one of us, my man.


HAYES: Unfortunately for Cruz, on the same day "The New York Times" published a report telling a different kind of story about who Ted Cruz is. A loan he took out from New York-based Goldman Sachs, his wife`s employer, to help finance his Senate campaign, which he later failed to disclose in presidential filings.

Cruz chalked it up to an inadvertent error, but Donald Trump now seems pretty concerned.


TRUMP: Well, I heard it`s a big thing, I know nothing about it, but I hear it`s a very big thing. I hope he solves it. I think he`s a nice guy and I hope he gets it solved.


HAYES: In a new national poll from NBC News and "The Wall Street Journal", Trump and Cruz are leading the pack at 33 and 20 percent respectively. Between them, they have more than half of all Republican support.

And while many pundits argued the glut of establishment candidates is splitting the anti-Trump and Cruz vote, that does not seem to be the case as of now. According to this poll, in a three-way race between Trump, Cruz and Marco Rubio, Trump still finishes first and Rubio comes in distant third, all of which makes it less likely that a single candidate will be able to win enough primaries to lock up the nomination and more likely, the Republican Party is headed towards a contested convention this summer, something for which the RNC is now preparing.

Joining me now from the debate hall in South Carolina, McKay Coppins, senior political writer for "BuzzFeed News".

So, let`s start with this dynamic, first time Cruz and Trump, the gloves are coming off. Sort of took a little while, somewhat inevitable, Cruz was drafting behind Donald Trump. He`s now kind of making his move. What do you expect with the two standing next to each other tonight?

MCKAY COPPINS, BUZZFEED NEWS: Well, I think that we`re now, I think, 18 days out from the Iowa caucuses. If there are moves to be made, they are going to have to make them.

We actually saw a report earlier this week that Ted Cruz`s campaign or backers had actually been testing lines against Donald Trump. The New York values was, I believe, one of them or something like that. Apparently that one tested well because Cruz is using it.

I will say, though, the fascinating dynamic there, and you got a bit in that intro, is that both Trump and Cruz are trying to cast each other as exotic or different or not one of us, right? Ted Cruz has been doing it by pointing to, you know, Donald Trump`s past liberal positions a little bit, adjusting to the fact that he`s from New York, which is apparently very exotic to the rest of the world.

But also, I can tell you Donald Trump, of course, has been raising this issue, the birther issue and saying, you know, is Ted Cruz even eligible to be president? And I can say it`s amazing how Trump when he first came out with that, that was something a lot of people kind of laughed at, even in the party, even in the Republican presidential field.

Just a few minutes ago, right before I came on here, I was on the floor there and I interviewed Mike Huckabee briefly. I asked him what he thought of this eligibility issue and he actually said that he has evolved on this. He`s changed his mind. He said, at first, I thought it was ridiculous, but I`ve been reading some constitutional scholars now and actually I`m not sure. It seems like maybe it is a real issue.

I mean, what I think that shows is the ability that Trump has to take literally any issue, any idea as, you know, wacko or farfetched as it seems and kind of insert it into the middle of the race and make it something that`s actually mainstream in the primary. And I think that`s what Cruz is contending with.

HAYES: You know, this is going to be the first time tonight that you`ve got the three people in the middle who are polling at the top right now, which is Rubio, Trump, and Cruz, right, and that`s who that national poll.

Now, again, a theoretical three-way race national poll is -- doesn`t mean anything per se, but that number has to be giving people heart burn. I mean, you wrote a great piece today in "BuzzFeed" about the sort of anti- Trump cavalry that never came. The idea was we`re going to come after this guy and it hasn`t happened yet.

COPPINS: It`s -- remember, and I was one of the people who had been convinced of this idea. I thought that if Trump`s campaign didn`t naturally organically meltdown, before things got too serious, before we got anywhere close to Iowa, you know, the coalition of super PACs and opposing campaigns would come in and carpet bomb the swing states with -- or the early primary states with attack ads and Trump would be exposed as a charlatan and be chased out of the race.

Not only did that dynamic not end up playing out, nobody has spent any money to attack Trump. We have a ridiculous kind of unreal situation right now where literally a couple weeks out from Iowa and people are spending millions of dollars to bludgeon each other, these candidates in the single digits while the front-runner is facing virtually no attack ads, no money sent in.

HAYES: As far as I can tell, zero dollars of paid negative advertising on Donald Trump where if you look through his record, there`s stuff you can cut negative ads. \


HAYES: I mean, it`s not hard to cut a 30-second negative ad against Donald Trump. There`s none, there`s not a single one.


HAYES: So, he and Cruz are going to fight.

Meanwhile, the convention has to start -- the Republican party has to start thinking about if you go far with Cruz and Trump each maintaining a sizable base of support and some establishment candidate emerging, you know, you`re looking at a very, very messy spring and summer. So, we`ll see how that all plays out tonight.

COPPINS: Yes, I think you`re right, I think you`re right.

HAYES: Thank you, McKay Coppins.

COPPINS: Thank you.

HAYES: I`m joined now David Dayen. He`s contributing writer for "The New Republic".

And, David, you had a great piece today about the sort of meaning of the Goldman Sachs loan for Ted Cruz, which Cruz in some ways has been so successful at so minutely crafting his positions and persona to match perfectly the base`s positions and persona. I think it`s been hard for opponents to find ways to outflank him. This strikes me as actually possibly a problem for him politically.

DAVID DAYEN, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Yes, this certainly could be it. There are just waves of hypocrisy here. First of all, Cruz said in sort of his biographical information that he risked his net worth, he put all his chips in to become a senator. And, in fact, what he did was he risked -- didn`t even risk, Goldman Sachs money, he got a loan to actually, you know, put that money into his race.

You know, he`s been banging crony capitalism and banging that drum on the campaign trail and then taking money from large banks, not just Goldman Sachs, but Citi, as well. So, yes, there`s a lot there.

But I really think this is more of an inequality issue, an issue about the kind of candidates we get to run for office. They are usually the kind that can afford to, you know, get a million dollar loan, to have the collateral to back that up, rather than the ordinary person who has no means of getting that kind of support.

HAYES: And, in fact, this is one of the things I found fascinating about some of the stories about Marco Rubio. I mean, Marco Rubio has not been someone who has a ton of money. I mean, Ted Cruz and his wife -- Ted Cruz worked at a well compensated law firm. His wife worked at Goldman, they had a lot of money.

Rubio did not have money like the other people standing up there on that stage and you see these stories about him trying to sort of put together the money, cashing out his IRA and things like that, and people don`t realize how much personal money goes in as essentially seed dough for candidates when they are trying to run for office.

DAYEN: Right. It`s all perfectly legal. You can self fund to the tune of unlimited amounts if you want to run for office. You can take out loans. You can take out a second mortgage. You can get a loan backed by a brokerage account, which is what Ted Cruz did, and I`m sure the fact that he was a multimillionaire in his law practice and his wife worked for Goldman Sachs, they didn`t blink an eye when they underwrote that.

The only way there`d be any risk of him not paying it back is if he`d won because he`d learn less of a salary in the Senate than what he was earning at the law firm.

HAYES: David Dayen, thank you very much.

DAYEN: Thanks.

HAYES: Still to come, Donald Trump`s power of not so subtle suggestions showing signs of chipping away at another candidate.

Plus, the NRA had to think about it for a week, but now they are totally, completely ready to debate President Obama.

And later, the big endorsement Democrats are waiting for. Why it`s taking so long, why it might never come.

Those stories and more ahead.


HAYES: As Republican candidates prepare to face off with the seemingly unsinkable Donald Trump tonight in South Carolina, last night Mr. Trump battled a different kind of opponent at a rally in Pensacola, Florida.


TRUMP: Five hundred and five billion, and by the way, I don`t like this mike. Whoever brought this mike system, don`t pay the son of a bitch who put it in, I`ll tell you. Now, this mike is terrible. Stupid mike keeps popping. Hear that, George? Don`t pay them. Don`t pay them.

You know, I believe in paying, but when somebody does a bad job like this stupid mike, you shouldn`t pay. Terrible. Terrible. It`s true.

You got to be tough with your people because they`ll pay, they don`t care, they`ll pay. So we`re not going to pay. I guarantee I`m not paying for this mike.




TRUMP: Ted Cruz has a problem, because the question is, is he a natural born citizen? Look, doesn`t matter what he does. You can`t have a nominee who`s going to be subject to be thrown out as a nominee. Just can`t do it.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think without question he is qualified and would make the cut, you know, to be prime minister of Canada, absolutely, without question he`s qualified and he meets qualification.

I think the Democrats will challenge it at the very least and I think it will have to be decided by the Supreme Court.


HAYES: Donald Trump`s birther attacks on Senator Ted Cruz are not just becoming fodder for other Republican candidates, as McKay talked about with Mike Huckabee. They very well may be taking a toll, a very telling anecdote. An undecided caucus-goer in Iowa talking to "The Weekly Standard" after he went to a Trump rally. I`m quoting here, "I was kind on the fence before coming down, and now I`m pretty much 100 percent for Trump," he said after the rally Tuesday night. "I liked Ted Cruz, as well, but now there`s questions about his citizenship. I don`t want to wait to see what`s going to happen with that."

Kicking up dust about whether Cruz qualifies as a natural born citizens seems to be working. Since Cruz`s peak in Iowa around January 7, his lead over Trump has decreased, now Trump is a slight lead in the "Real Clear Politics" polling average.

That lead is statistically insignificant, the fact remains Cruz has dropped. Well, there is broad legal consensus that Cruz would, in fact, be deemed a natural born citizen, it certainly could be challenged. It`s also true the Supreme Court has never actually ruled on the issue.

This law professor wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" that Cruz is not eligible for president, so there are some consenting voices. The only question remaining is, who would file such a legal challenge? This man says he would.

Joining me now, Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida, also candidate for the U.S. Senate, the seat being vacated by Senator Marco Rubio.

All right, Congressman. You`re going to sue about Ted Cruz`s qualifications to be president of the United States?

REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: Sure, if he`s the nominee, I will do that.


GRAYSON: Because the constitution means what it says and says what it means. That`s why. I don`t agree with you that there`s any sort of consensus about this at all. Larry Tribe seems to be on my side of the argument.

HAYES: Well, let`s just be clear here. This naturalized at birth is something that`s been implemented by statute, Constitution says natural born citizen, most people interpret the naturalized by birth essentially now in this modern era means a natural born citizen. And that`s a sort of important principle, right, if you`re outside of the country and your kid is born, you want them to be an American citizen, right?

GRAYSON: Look, there`s a legal argument which you just addressed and a factual argument. Let`s start with the legal argument. You seem to think that natural born citizen means somebody born to an American parent, right?

There is not much legal authority to support that and the Supreme Court has, in fact, never addressed that. A better argument can be made that it means you`re simply born in the United States. One of the words connote natural born citizen, may be somebody born in the United States. Certainly, no reason to think it for sure means anything other than that.

Now, with regard to the facts, there`s another problem that he has, which is that his mother was a registered voter, he relies upon his mother for his American citizenship. His mother was a registered voter in Canada. That just came out this week.

If she was a registered voter in Canada, safe to say she was a citizen of Canada, like his father was. And if both parents were Canadian citizens, how can he claim American citizenship?

HAYES: What -- OK, in any real sense, what standing would you have to sue? What would the suit look like? What injury have you, Alan Grayson, sustained by him being nominee to be president of the United States?

GRAYSON: I heard the argument. It`s a fake issue. Say the Republican Party nominated an elephant for president and the Democrats nominated a donkey, do you really think that nobody could raise an issue about that, that we`d just basically have to choose between the elephant and donkey? Of course, we wouldn`t.

HAYES: Well, but you also are going to have -- someone is going to have to grant -- look, we went through this. We went through with the President Obama birther stuff, right, the idea there was that he was obfuscating about where his place of birth was, that the obfuscation that he was actually born in Kenya, which is not true, but because he was born there, he was illegitimate, right? There were all sorts of wackos suing all over the place that couldn`t get into a courtroom for standing.

GRAYSON: That case is not this case, OK? That case is about someone who was born in the United States. This is about someone who was born in Canada.

I`m not going to get into legal strategies here. I`m pretty confident that the standing is not a problem.

And, by the way, the whole standing document comes from our friend Justice Scalia, who I worked with for a year. So I know a thing or two about standing.

HAYES: You actually bring this suit and you actually think if he is the nominee that -- I mean, I guess it`s America, right? So, at some level, what Trump is saying is true, which is anything like this is going to be litigated by someone, I imagine.

GRAYSON: Yes. That`s exactly what makes America so great. Anybody can sue anybody for anything.

HAYES: Says the man who was once a lawyer doing his own.

GRAYSON: And prosecuted war profiteers in Iraq with a great deal of success.

HAYES: So, then, what is it would be possible legally, right? So, this idea -- I think you`re a little bit persuading me in the moment, although maybe I`m just --

GRAYSON: So, you`re evolving.

HAYES: Well, I just think you`re a good lawyer. I`m sure as soon as the interview is over I`ll come back to my senses.

GRAYSON: A damn good congressman, hopefully a good senator next year.

HAYES: Here`s the question, is it possible -- I guess is it possible to resolve -- is there some legal means, you know, Trump has been talking about declaratory judgment or something. You wouldn`t want it resolved after the guy`s elected. Let`s just say that.

GRAYSON: Well, you know, look, if the Republicans are foolish enough to nominate somebody who`s ineligible for the job, that`s really not my problem. I`m a Democrat. Remember what they did in Bush v. Gore, how beleaguered us over nonsense? That was a very bad piece of litigation there and knocked out President Gore.

HAYES: All right. Congressman --

GRAYSON: What am I suppose -- to give them a free pass? I don`t think so.

HAYES: Congressman Alan Grayson, thanks for your time, appreciate it.

GRAYSON: You`re welcome.

HAYES: Up next, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is facing new questions about the timeline he initially gave about when he knew about the dash cam footage of the death of Laquan McDonald. That report ahead.


HAYES: A damning new report out today called into question exactly what Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel knew about the fatal police shooting of an African-American teenager. Perhaps even more importantly, when he knew it. Seventeen-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot and killed October 2014. At the time police say he lunged at an officer, who then shot him in the chest.

The autopsy report, however, showed McDonald was shot 16 times. The video of the shooting showed that he was shot as he was walking away, and shot multiple times while already on the ground. The officer who shot him has now been arrested and charged with murder.

The shooting happened four months before Chicago`s hotly contested mayoral election. The video of the shooting wasn`t made public until a court ordered it released late last year, but that video was crucial, according to the city`s top lawyer, in the city`s decision to settle with Laquan McDonald`s family. That settlement came down eight days after Mayor Rahm Emanuel won his run-off election.

Now, according to "Chicago Tribune," Emanuel maintained he didn`t understand the gravity of the Laquan McDonald shooting death until before the city reached the settlement with the family, and B, he wasn`t aware other officers may have falsified reports about the shooting until just after the video was released to the public. Now, "The Tribune" reports Emanuel`s top staffers became keenly aware the McDonald shooting could become a legal and political quagmire in December 2014, more than three months before the mayor said he was fully briefed on the issue.

And lawyers for McDonald`s family informed Emanuel`s law department in March that police officers` version of what happened differed dramatically from the infamous shooting video, more than eight months after he agreed to settle the case for $5 million. "Tribune" reporter John Byrne pressed Mayor Rahm Emanuel on that point earlier today.


REPORTER: Mr. Mayor, documents show Patton and others in your administration knew for months about the fact that police reports didn`t match what happened in the McDonald case. How is it that you could possibly not know that, given that you settled the case, until after the video was released?

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO: John, the answer, which is consistent also what I`ve said before, at that point the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. attorney and the state`s attorney are looking into it and that`s exactly where it should be so they can get to the bottom to it.


REPORTER: But your top advisers did know about it.


REPORTER: And they weren`t telling you about it this whole time?

EMANUEL: No, the answer to it, because if you`re going to get to the bottom of something and get justice is exactly what the U.S. attorney, FBI, and state`s attorney.


HAYES: A short time after that press conference on the orders of a federal judge, a video was released showing another deadly police shooting, this one from 2013.

Now, if the city of Chicago had been, like in the case of the McDonald shooting, trying to prevent the footage from being released, but yesterday the city`s top lawyers changed course and dropped the city`s objection. The video was recorded from a surveillance camera and is not exactly clear what`s happening, but you can make out what appears to be two plain-clothed officers approaching a car that had been reported stolen. 17-year-old Cedric Chapman can be seen running away from the car and an officer can be seen drawing his gun.

And the next image, it appears that an officer is standing over Chapman`s body. The officer who pulled his gun told investigators he thought Chapman was holding a gun and he feared for the safety of himself and his partner. Chapman turned out to be just holding a box for an iPhone.

Lorenzo Davis, a former supervisor for Chicago`s independent police review authority, said he investigated the shooting and said, quote, "he was running away, so why kill him?"

He also recommended the officer lose his job. But his decision was overruled. We had Davis on the show last summer. He told us he was fired because he would not change his findings about police shootings he considered unjustified. The city of Chicago maintains Chapman was shot justifiably.

Meanwhile, the latest polls of Chicagoans show that 51 percent want Rahm Emmanuel to resign.



OBAMA: There`s a reason why the NRA is not here. They are just down the street. And since this is the main reason they exist, you`d think that they`d be prepared to have a debate.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So, just so I`m clear, tonight you are saying you would welcome to meet with the NRA?

OBAMA: Anderson, I`ve said this repeatedly. I`m happy to meet with them. I`m happy to talk with them.


HAYES: Today, a full week after refusing to attend a town hall on guns with the president, the National Rifle Association says they are ready to talk, or rather debate, one on one.

NRA head Wayne LaPierre versus President Obama.

Today, the group released a video telling gun owners they could face arrest, prosecution and prison as a result of the president`s executive action on guns and ending with an offer.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA PRESIDENT: I`ll tell you what, I`ll meet you for a one on one one-hour debate with a mutually agreed upon moderator on any network that will take it. No prescreened questions, and no gas bag answers.

Let`s see if you`re game for a fair debate. It`s your chance to show the American people you`re not afraid to meet the NRA on neutral ground.


HAYES: Now, it`s important to keep in mind that the man in that video, that`s Wayne LaPierre, is the same man who seven days after 20 children and six adults were murdered by guns in Connecticut, gave one of the most unnerving and bizarre speeches in American politics. At one point even deflect attention away to how guns contribute to violence by highlighting the impact of video games.

LAPIERRE: Here`s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal. There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt, and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people through vicious, violent video games with names like...

HAYES: Now, if the president of the United States does decide to debate Wayne LaPierre, I want to say right now, I would be more than happy to host it right here on this hour on MSNBC.

But, should Obama debate Wayne LaPierre, that`s a different thing entirely. Joining me now, David Corn, MSNBC political analyst, Washington, D.C., editor of Mother Jones.

What do you think, David?

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Well, I think it`s good for you to make that offer, Chris, because I don`t know anyone else who might.

HAYES: I can`t imagine anyone would want to broadcast that.

CORN: No. No. It`s a little farcical. It kind of like makes me think of President Assad in Syria saying I`ll debate the president of the United States if he`s brave enough to debate me. And I can`t wait for all the conservatives out there on Twitter to say I compared Wayne LaPierre to a dictator. But then again, I think I can take that.

The NRA and Wayne had a chance at CNN to come in and be part of a communal discussion with the president. And they chose not to take it. That even itself I know was on another network, I thought was done rather well. There were a lot of questioners there who actually had a different view on gun safety and gun control than the president and they did give him some them very sharp questions.

So nobody on CNN certainly was not in the can or in the tank on this. And the NRA decided not to participate. They often go dark after mass shootings and then as you just showed they come up with some of the most ludicrous responses, they have done everything they can to handcuff the ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and then they complain that the federal government doesn`t enforce gun laws.

The list goes on and on.

Years ago Wayne LaPierre made headlines when he called federal agents black -- what was it?

HAYES: Jack-booted thugs.

CORN: Jack-booted.

HAYES: That led to President George H.W. Bush sending his resignation letter to the NRA. This was a moment during a lot of the kind of militia - - militia hysteria that happened in the mid `90s.

CORN: So, I think the president is right to kind of giggle at this phoney invitation. The NRA can act like any other, you know, interest group in this country and participate in the appropriate forums and to demand that they only do so if the president debates Wayne LaPierre, you know, is a little ridiculous.

HAYES: OK. So you have just given the argument, which I think is generally a persuasive one about why the president of the United States would not essentially stoop to the level of the NRA, you know, respond to this somewhat preposterous video, which let me just say as someone who is looking into a camera right now, there`s nothing less tough than looking into a camera and reading something, particularly when it`s not live.

So, this idea that you are showing how tough you are by reading into a camera, like, give me a break.

That said, I actually think that would be amazing, frankly, Wayne LaPierre versus President Obama. And I think the gun debate in this country has become so impacted and intractable and so in need of some kind of disruption, that I think they should do it.

CORN: That`s an interesting point. I would say maybe when the president doesn`t have his day job.

HAYES: Right.

CORN: You know, he can come up with an hour for Wayne LaPierre. But for now, I mean, I do think that Wayne LaPierre is not an honest or reasonable actor in the debate, and if he wants to join a panel discussion that the White House is participating in, if he wants to accept one of the White House invitations to join those sort of discussions there, he`s been free to do that.

But this is a guy who has behaved pretty reprehensibly on a lot of fronts. And so for that reason alone I don`t think the president should have a stage mano a mano with him.

HAYES: Well -- and here`s what is so striking to me. I mean, what the president is really trying to do, I think, in good faith -- and whether he`s effective or not, is trying to persuade people on these issues. I mean, he really is trying persuade people.

Wayne LaPierre is not in the persuasion business.

I mean, I remember watching that press conference, that speech after Sandyhook and thinking, oh, this is clearly the end of this guy`s political career and possibly the end of the NRA. This is so bizarre and so offensive in its tone and so sort of disrespectful, and it wasn`t, because it wasn`t aimed at anyone but basically the hard core of their membership.

CORN: Well, they`ve become very good at fearmongering aimed at that hard core -- whether it`s 10 percent or 20 percent of people who support their general policies. And then again -- and remember, the line for the last seven years has been, and you reported on this a lot, Chris, from the NRA is that the president is coming to take your guns.

HAYES: Right.

CORN; It`s not true. They have -- he may want gun safety measures, he may want some limitation on gun ownership, but he`s not coming to take your guns. And by, you know, sticking to that point, I think Wayne LaPierre and the NRA has proven that they are not good faith actors in any sort of policy debate here, although if Obama decided to take your advice rather than mine on this, I would not be upset about that.

HAYES: Yes. It would be amazing, and David Corn, you would watch.

CORN: And I would certainly watch, particularly if you were hosting.

HAYES: All right, David Corn, thank you for joining me.

CORN: my pleasure.

HAYES: Coming up, could one endorsement outweigh the power of hundreds? The Warren factor ahead.



HAYES: So, I have had two different Republican consultants email me in the last week who basically say the Carson campaign is adrift. This is a consultant grift in which money is being raised from small dollar donors. Ben Carson is a beloved figure, charismatic, raises money. The money then goes back out the door to people hired to do the fundraising and mailers.

And when you look at the numbers, I mean, $14 million spent, $11 million on fundraising, there`s no other campaign in the field that has numbers like that.

DEAN PARKER, BEN CARSON ADVISER: Dr. Carson didn`t have a political fundraising list. We started this campaign with zero donors on the list.

Number two, when you go to it, it`s the people in the pundit status that have the list that charge so much money to speak to the voters that want to talk to us. And number three, people are interested in raising money and giving to Dr. Carson. So, as we go through this process, we`re continuing to do what we need to do.


HAYES: Now, there`s been some talk for some time now that Ben Carson`s campaign is essentially, as I said there, grift -- a list buildint, money raising enterprise to enrich consultants at the expense of the small dollar donors who are rushing to give money to aid Carson`s presidential ambitions.

And evidence supporting that theory just keeps pouring in. Politico reported today on Carson`s financier, Dean Parker, that man who I spoke with just last week.

As Carson cmapaign insiders tell it, Parker`s operation has piled up unnecessary expenses and paid hefty consulting fees to an inexperienced staff. To top it all off, Parker recently began earning $20,000 a month salary for a position that is typically an honorary one, that is a volunteer job.

As Chris Christie`s finance chair put it, if they think I`m getting a scrape on the money as a finance chairman you lose all your credibility.

Just hours after that Politico report was published, parker resigned from his post. He defended his earnings earlier, noting he was on the job 24/7.


PARKER: What national finance chairman travels 26 to 28 days a month, is not home with wife and four kids and gives his whole heart to everything to raise money for a candidate that has no history? Most finance chairmen pick up the phone and do it from their office.


HAYES: As the Wall Street Journal reports, Carson`s campaign spent more than it raised in the month of October when Carson was peaking in the polls. Almost all the money the campaign was raising was being poured back into efforts to raise more cash from small donors.

A Carson spokesman now tells the journal the campaign is carefully determining who will fill the finance chairman role on a volunteer basis going forward. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Bernie Sanders has a new ad out today, one the Clinton campaign says violates a crucial Sanders promise.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: There are two Democratic visions for regulating Wall Street. One says it`s okay to take millions from big banks and then tell them what to do. My plan, break up the big banks, close the tax loopholes, and make them pay their fair share.


HAYES: Well, the ad doesn`t mention Clinton by name. On a conference call today, the Clinton camp claimed the spot violates Sanders pledge not to run negative ads. In an interview today with Rachel Maddow that will air right after this show, Clinton said the ad was not just an attack on her.


HILLARY CLINTON, FRM. U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I mean, basically, it`s also a very direct criticism of President Obama, who, as you might recall, took a lot of money from the financial industry when he ran in 2008. That didn`t stop him from fighting for the hardest regulations on Wall Street since The Great Depression, signing Dodd-Frank, getting everything he could get out of congress at that time.


HAYES: Polls show Clinton and Sanders in a tight race in Iowa and New Hampshire. but when it comes to endorsements. Hillary Clinton has a whopping 457 endorsements from governors and members of congress, according to the website 538, compared to just two for Sanders and one for Martin O`Malley.

But there`s still one Democrat yet to weigh in, whose endorsement could have a bigger impact than all those folks put together, a person with the power to fundamentally change the race. I`m not talking about President Obama, who the White House says is unlikely to back a candidate while there is still a primary fight, I`m talking about progressive hero Elizabeth Warren, who happens to be the only female Democratic Senator who`s not thrown her support behind Clinton.

Warren, whose office did not respond for a request for comment, is in a difficult spot. She would seem to be more aligned with Sanders, certainly on the issues of inequality, the shrinking middle class, and reining in bank power that she has her career on.

But Warren is reportedly concerned Sanders is less likely to win the general election.

A close Warren associate told Bloomberg politics, quote, "her prime directive is not to damage the party`s chances in November."

If there`s growing pressure on Warren to choose a side, including from her fellow Democratic senators, at least one of whom has reportedly pushed Warren to back Clinton. And if Sanders manages to win both Iowa and New Hampshire, that pressure will increase dramatically.

Coming up, I`ll speak with the editor of The Nation magazine, which made its endorsement today about the Warren primary and her potential to change the game. That`s next.


HAYES: Joining me now to discuss the potential impact of an Elizabeth Warren endorsement in the Democratic presidential race, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, she`s editor and publisher of The Nation, which today endorsed, drumroll, Bernie Sanders for president, and Rebecca Traister, writer at large for New York magazine.

Rebecca, as someone who has written an entire book about Hillary Clinton and the 2008 election, a Warren endorsement would be massively game changing wrenching, particularly if it went against Hillary Clinton, but in either direction, right, don`t you think?

REBECCA TRAISTER, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: No. In either direction. I`m serious when I say I personally would be totally heartbroken if she endorsed either one of them. I think that it`s not in her best interests. I don`t actually think it`s in the best interest of the voters to have Elizabeth Warren come in and weigh in. I know it`s all the game of who endorses who and everything, so it doesn`t matter that I don`t think it`s in the best interest of the voters, but to me there are real arguments for her supporting either or both of them.

Fundamentally, they`re two very strong candidates, which we tend to forget, especially in this ugly season. And they`re candidates, even Hillary, who Warren has had a tough relationship with in the past is now moving closer - - not close enough for many people`s taste -- to Warren`s ideas.

So, I don`t think it`s in anyone`s best interest for Elizabeth Warren to give an endorsement.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, THE NATION: So, The Nation endorsed Bernie Sanders on the Warren principle, which is essentially that here you have someone who is telling the truth to the American people about a rigged system that benefits the few not the many. And if there is a watch word for Elizabeth Warren, it`s been we`re living under a rigged system, an oligarchy, inequality.

But I agree with Rebecca, I think Elizabeth Warren is the defender of the Warren wing of the party. You do have Bernie Sanders as the representative of the Warren wing of the party...

HAYES: But actually husbanding that is important.

VANDEN HEUVEL: And her power to to lift up issues that Bernie Sanders has taken on to the campaign trail.

But I think Elizabeth Sanders wants to...

HAYES: Elizabeth Warren. That is a funny Freudian slip, but continue.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Elizabeth Warren wants to ensure that there is a Democrat senate, which would be critical for any Democrat as president. And she knows it`ll be a more progressive senate. And she will have Sherrod Brown as chair of the banking committee.

HAYES: So, this gets to the question, right? So, abstract into Elizabeth Warren, put yourself in a position of someone who has her politics, OK, the Warren wing of the party, right?

Describing the system as an oligarchy was great and I think accurate, but what are you going to do about it? I mean, I think to me that is the part of the Sanders vision, which is a bit of an eclipses. It`s like elect Bernie Sanders, ellipses.

VANDEN HEUVEL: He`s very clear. He`s not going enact Medicare for all tomorrow, but he`s -- and he`s not going to enact Glass-Steagel.

By the way, a piece of legislation that Elizabeth Warren has sponsored, which is to restore Glass-Steagel...

HAYES: He is going to day one, most likely, walk into...


HAYES: Yes, exactly.

VANDEN HEUVEL: He needs an ally in Elizabeth Warren.

TRAISTER: they both are going to walk into a morass. Either one of them is going to walk into a morass. So then there is an issue of pragmatism, which comes down to a lot of the conversation about practicality and electability. And...

VANDEN HEUVEL: But I don`t think practicality works in our system anymore. I really don`t. I think that is what...

HAYES: What do you mean by that, though?

VANDEN HEUVEL: I mean that -- you need this -- I`m not sure I love political revolution, it`s a term Bernie Sanders has used, but it essentially means that you have to mobilize people. You don`t do what President Obama did after he got elected and demobilize Organizing for America. You keep people at your back, you engage with the movements of our time, which he is doing.

HAYES: But that`s easier said than done.

VANDEN HEUVEL: But it`s also the ability, forgive me, to bring in different kinds of people, to appoint different kinds of people, to fill agencies with different kinds of people. And if you have a Democratic Senate -- you know, but Bernie Sanders would have a different kind of team both in domestic and foreign policy.

HAYES: That I totally agree with, right?

But, Rebecca, here is one of the things that I think -- and when you saw this quote about -- her prime directive is not to hurt the party, right. What`s sort of remarkable about the state of this race is that I think the most brutal way to attack Bernie Sanders is an attack they can`t use, which is do you really think America is going to elect a 74-year-old Democratic Socialist to be president of the United States? What planet are you living on?

Now, they can`t say that, right?

TRAISTER: No, they certainly can`t. And they shouldn`t.

HAYES: Right. They shouldn`t. But that is also the bar that Sanders has to get over.

VANDEN HEUVEL: But look at where we are. Who would have imagined a year ago that we would -- that Bernie Sanders is competing with Hillary Clinton? Admittedly in Iowa and New Hampshire. There`s a long stretch ahead, The Nation endorsement admits the road is steep, but a younger generation which lived through the financial crisis is open to the idea of Democratic Socialism.

Millions of people are looking beyond the labels and meeting Bernie Sanders, more important his issues, which have been marginalized, forgive me I`m talking so quickly, by a corporate media. And that I think is a moment to open a space for progressive movements and possible continuation of this campaign, even if he doesn`t make it.

TRAISTER: Right, but I agree with that and I agree he`s done all of that. And I admire him tremendously. And I think he is mobilizing people.

But I don`t think the only way that that story ends well is with him getting the nomination and the presidency. Do you know what I mean? And in fact I think there is a way in which that mobilization of people if it actually met the presidency and was stopped completely short would be actually really detrimental to the larger cause.

HAYES: Well, the other thing is -- here`s a question that you can ask people, you know, let`s say -- in all likelihood, you never know what`s going to happen in elections, who knows. But Senate and House in Republican hands, OK, and Democratic president. So the question is, who do you want to be grinding out in this toxic dysfunctional swamp for the next four years of just endless venomous marginal brutal little fights around...

VENDEN HEUVEL: But Chris, you forget you`re not...

HAYES: Most likely.

VANDEN HEUVEL: You forget your 2008 endorsement of Obama for the nation.

HAYES: No, I don`t.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, in a sense you don`t.

HAYES: Barack Obama had -- wait a second. Barack Obama had the largest majority since LBJ, who had the largest majority since FDR.

You tell me Bernie Sanders has a filibuster proof majority in the Senate and the House in his hands?

VANDEN HEUVEL: But it becomes even more important to outside of that venomous Beltway toxic atmosphere and rally the country, because he`s not going to get legislative accomplishments, but there are other ways of making change in this country that Hillary Clinton who is more transactional, I think she`s moved to meet the populist moment, I agree with Rebecca, and I think think she`s make some good moves, but I think she`s still fundamentally a transactional politician.

HAYES: And you think Bernie Sanders could be elected president of the United States?


TRAISTER: I hope so.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Thank you. I hope so.

HAYES: Rebecca is always honest. Rebecca never plays the role of pundit.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Never say never.

HAYES: Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Rebecca Traister, thank you both.

That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show and Rachel`s exclusive interview with Hillary Clinton starts right now.