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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 1/15/2016

Guests: Steve King, A.J. Delgado, Ed Cox

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 15, 2016 Guest: Steve King, A.J. Delgado, Ed Cox


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


HAYES: The sum of all fears.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Americans are feeling frustrated and scared and angry.

HAYES: Trump and Cruz dominate as the Republican establishment shutters.

HOLLAND REDFIELD, RNC COMMITTEEMAN, VIRGIN ISLANDS: We`re almost terrorized as members of our party.

HAYES: Today`s fallout from the first debate of 2016.

Plus, hurt feelings over New York values.

TRUMP: That was a very insulting statement that Ted made.

HAYES: But, is it an effective attack anyway?

Then, the Clinton campaign keeps the attack up on Bernie.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Sanders has said he wants to do, which is basically to start all over again.

HAYES: Both campaigns respond tonight.

And return of the birthers.

CRUZ: I`m not going to be taking legal advice from Donald Trump.

TRUMP: You don`t have to.

HAYES: Why Ted Cruz may have an actual legal problem now that Orly Taitz is on the case.

ORLY TAITZ: He said he had a birth certificate. So why wouldn`t you provide it?

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


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

Last night`s debate made painfully clear what has slowly been dawning on the Republican Party. Just over two weeks until the Iowa caucuses, Donald Trump is setting the terms of the race. He is the man to beat. And to the extent that anyone else in the field can stop him, the only one putting up a real fight is the one candidate the establishment seems to like even less than Donald Trump.

Ted Cruz, who last night went head to head with Trump for the very first time. New polling out yesterday shows exactly what the stewards of the GOP`s electoral chances have to be worried about. In a three-way race between Trump, Cruz, and establishment favorite Marco Rubio, Rubio finishes third while Trump and Cruz get a combined 71 percent of Republican support.

That was pretty much the dynamic on stage last night, with Trump and Cruz trading shots and dominating the debate and the rest of the field struggling to make an impact. In one of the testiest exchanges of the evening they tangled over Trump`s suggestion that Cruz might not be eligible to run for president because he was born in Canada.


CRUZ: Back in September, my friend Donald said that he had had his lawyers look at this from every which way and there was no issue there. There was nothing to this birther issue. Now, since September, the Constitution hasn`t changed. But the poll numbers have.

TRUMP: The fact is there is a big overhang. There`s a big question mark on your head. And you can`t do that to the party. You really can`t. You can`t do that to the party.


HAYES: Likewise, the two front-runners got into it over recent comments by Cruz that Trump`s "New York values" put him out of step with the Republican electorate.


CRUZ: Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal, or pro abortion or pro gay marriage, focus around money and the media.

TRUMP: New York is a great place. It`s got great people. It`s got loving people, wonderful people. When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York.


HAYES: While Marco Rubio succeeded at interrupting the duo, his rehearsed talking points failed to make much of a splash.

And later on a devastating jab from Chris Christie seemed to sum up Rubio`s performance.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hate to interrupt this episode of Court TV, but the real -- I think we have to get back to what this election has to be about. This is the greatest country in the history of mankind. But in 2008, we elected a president that didn`t want to fix America, he wants to change America.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You already had your chance, Marco. You blew it.


HAYES: Perhaps the most telling exchange was one between Trump and Jeb Bush on the subject of Trump`s proposed ban of all Muslims from coming into the country. Now, though Bush had proposed his own religious test for refugees, Bush also did come out strongly against the Trump proposed ban on all Muslims, and one of his own top advisers publicly called it fascism.

But last night, this was all the outrage bush could muster against the GOP front-runner.


JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re running for presidency of the United States here. This isn`t -- this isn`t a different kind of job. You have to lead. You cannot make rash statements and expect the rest of the world to respond as though -- well, it`s just politics. Every time we send signals like this, we send a signal of weakness, not strength. And so, it was in indignant (ph) statement, which is why I`m asking him to consider changing his views.


HAYES: Asking him to consider changing his views. If he would just, you know, maybe think about it.

Jeb Bush is not the only Republican who appears however belatedly to be coming to terms with Donald Trump`s ascendance. For as long as Donald Trump has led the polls, the Republican Party seemed to be in a state of denial clinging to a belief that he`d eventually implode on his own. BuzzFeed reported this week that, quote, "major Republican donors and well- funded political groups have failed to fund a robust anti-Trump campaign despite increasingly desperate pleas from some quarters of the GOP."

Now with Iowa looming, it`s clear that Trump and the political current he has unleashed are not going anywhere. And as their denial fades, the party`s desperation is growing.

Earlier this week, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley used her State of the Union response to publicly warn fellow Republicans against the kind of politics Trump and Cruz are exploiting. And today, according to "Politico" at a closed-door session of the RNC`s winter meeting, one committee member got up out of the blue and pleaded with Chairman Reince Priebus to take a stand against Trumpism.


HOLLAND REDFIELD, RNC COMMITTEEMAN, VIRGIN ISLANDS: You get this energy in the nation right now that is angry, frustrated, and they want to hit anybody. So we have certain candidates that are sucking that up and changing our label. As a party, we owe it to ourselves to speak out and not have the tail wag the dog.


HAYES: Joining me now, Congressman Steve King, Republican from Iowa, who has endorsed Ted Cruz.

And, Congressman, let me start with this. I have to say I think you`re due a victory lap after last night`s debate. It is pretty clear that you have waged a battle against the Republican establishment for years, particularly on the issue of immigration, but on a bunch of issues, but particularly on that issue.

And it`s your party now. I mean, it`s very clear if one thing came across last night between Trump and Cruz, it is the Steve King party, particularly on immigration.

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Well, Chris, I just -- I thank you for seeing that and saying so. For me, the center of this has always been about restoring the rule of law, and it goes all the way back to 1986 when Ronald Reagan signed the Amnesty Act. I kicked a dent in my filing cabinet I was so frustrated. I thought he would protect that principle, the rule of law, and I knew he would be spending -- I wasn`t in public policy then, but I knew all of us would try to restore respect for the rule of law once we rewarded people for breaking it.

That seems to have emerged here in the debate and the presidential debate and those that are leading in the polls in a substantial way have embraced the rule of law. Secure our borders and let this American immigration policy be designed to enhance the economic, the social and the cultural well-being of America.

HAYES: Cultural well-being.

Speak of culture and cultural well-being, the candidate you`ve endorsed, Ted Cruz, has taken some heat for his attacks on New York values. I think you said this morning you thought it was maybe not a great line of attack. He has definitely doubled down on it today.

Here`s my question for you. Everyone in New York is all upset about it, obviously. I`m a lifelong New Yorker. So, you know, no one likes your place being insulted.

I`ve got to say I have nothing but love for Iowa. I love Iowans. Love the Hawkeyes. You guys are great. Love Iowa values.

Does this play in Iowa? Do you guys really hate us so much that this is a smart thing to do?

KING: You know, Chris, we don`t. There was a distance --

HAYES: Well, thank you, Congressman.

KING: There was a distance between Iowa and New York, but September 11th changed all of that. And I remember seeing the face of a New York man, an African-American, covered with ashes and soot, and the tears going down his cheek, and at that moment I knew we`re tied in this together, we`re in this together completely and all the way.

And all across America, people descended upon New York to do all they could to help that American crisis that happened there. And I don`t have any doubt Ted Cruz sees it the same way --

HAYES: Congressman, can I just say that it`s a little perverse to say that we really did kind of hate and you then 3,000 of you were murdered and then we realized you were part of the country? There`s something a little perverse about that.

KING: There`s something perverse about the question, Chris.

HAYES: I`m not the one running around -- I`m not the one -- could you imagine if I got here on my television show every night and railed against Iowa values? I mean, that would be a jerky thing to do.

KING: OK. Here`s the case, is that --

HAYES: But wouldn`t that be true?

KING: I`m trying to express to you the affection, the bond that pulled all America together. It wasn`t just Iowa and New York. When we saw what happened in New York -- and by the way, don`t forget the attack on the Pentagon and Shanksville as well. All of that pulled America together. And the tragedy that New York suffered more greatly than anyone else was spread across this country.

And, by the way, we have lost more than twice as many Americans in uniform in reaction to the strike on September 11th.


KING: So, we`ve all suffered across this and other countries have suffered too.

HAYES: So let me ask you this.

Did Ted Cruz make a mistake when he used this phrase to attack Donald Trump?

KING: No, I don`t think it was a mistake, Chris. But what I saw Donald Trump turn that into an emotional argument, I knew it was going to be in the news today. I didn`t know I`d be sitting here talking about it.

But the point is this: Donald Trump himself has characterized New York values, his values, and contrasted them with Iowa, and I`m thinking of, what, October 24th, 1999 interview with Tim Russert where he said that if he had come from Iowa, he might think differently but he has supported -- he said I`m very pro-choice. No, he wouldn`t ban partial birth abortion and he would support same-sex marriage.

Those -- and he characterized them as New York values. So, I`m confident that that`s what Ted Cruz was referring to.

HAYES: I see.

KING: And, by the way, the tragedy of September 11th didn`t change the politics of New York. Barack Obama carried Manhattan 84 percent.

HAYES: Oh, yes. I`m well aware. Congressman Steve King, thank you very much.

KING: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Joining me now, conservative columnist A.J. Delgado and Josh Barro, correspondent for "The Upshot" at "The New York Times" and an MSNBC contributor.

A.J., I know you are a Trump supporter, which I can`t quite believe but you are. I say that because I genuinely enjoy you on Twitter and your writing.

What did -- what did you think of last night`s Trump and Cruz exchanges?

A.J. DELGADO, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: I thought it was -- I thought Trump did brilliantly. Really all he needed was a B-minus performance to maintain this incredible lead that he has, but he really delivered an A- plus one.

What I couldn`t believe when Ted Cruz made those comments about New York, just how perfectly, not only was it a huge error and a huge mistake, unlike what Congressman King noted, it was a huge mistake, it was a huge insult to the entire state of New York. But then to set it up, to tee it up so perfectly for Donald Trump to deliver what is probably the most emotional, beautiful answer that we`ve seen in this entire primary season, where he really had a chance to connect emotionally with everybody watching was just an ideal situation for Trump to really shine.

And it really showed who he is as a person. It was a really interesting situation to see him kind of get personal. And he did. He was almost choking speaking about it.

HAYES: It shows he`s actually a New Yorker, which if you know one thing about Donald Trump the guy is a New Yorker. And I think -- I mean, we`ll talk more about New York values later in the show.


HAYES: But to me, it`s like why are you running around -- I just can`t imagine a similar line of attack flying anywhere else.

BARRO: Yes. Well, also Donald Trump is not just a New Yorker. He`s a guy who was building luxury condos in Manhattan in 1982 at a time when people thought the city was dying. He really kind of built his career on a core belief in New York at a time when that was going out on a limb.

So, I think this is, you know, Donald Trump changes a lot with the fashions. He says what people want to hear. But I think that`s real, that Donald Trump has passion about New York.

I`d compare it to Carly Fiorina, who had this tweet saying, well, I went to Stanford but I`m rooting for Iowa to win the football game today against Stanford -- which everyone thought was ridiculous pandering. You`re supposed to rep the place you`re from.

So, Donald Trump, even though a lot of these people do have real policy disagreements with people from New York, I think people respect the fact that he is proud of where he comes from and stands for it.

HAYES: A.J., the other thing to me --

DELGADO: Well, Josh --

HAYES: Yes, please?

DELGADO: Let me jump in a second. I have to reject that notion that Trump kind of changes with the fashions. Really on that stage you had true flip- floppers. Ted Cruz is a flip-flopper. Marco Rubio --


HAYES: Wait a second. Say whatever the heck you want about Trump. And there`s a lot of things to be said about him. I find many of his positions in this campaign --

DELGADO: Many great things.

HAYES: -- truly odious. But the guy has been all over the place. He said Hillary Clinton was great. He said --

DELGADO: How many years ago?


HAYES: He said Jeb Bush would make a great president. He said he was pro choice.

DELGADO: He was. Anybody on that stage would say that Jeb Bush would make a great president. He would. And Hillary Clinton you could say she`s an accomplished woman. That doesn`t mean you want her to be president in 2016. And yes, he was pro choice --

HAYES: But here`s the thing.

DELGADO: -- 17 years ago. Who cares? It was 17 years ago.

HAYES: But the whole thing is a con. The moment he were to win this nomination, we`re all -- I mean, he is going to run to whatever he thinks is going to be the position --

DELGADO: Why would he be pulling a con? Why? He doesn`t need this. He`s a billionaire with a great family, a great life. He doesn`t need --

BARRO: He wants to be president of the United States.

HAYES: And he wants to be the most powerful person in the world.

BARRO: I mean, Donald Trump said we should have a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods and then he said he didn`t say we should have a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods and someone made that up and the "New York Times" quoted him. And then we released audio of it. I mean, day to day, he will change his mind.

HAYES: He literally said that he never said that and there --

DELGADO: Chris Christie supported Sotomayor and then didn`t. Everybody on that stage flip-flops.

And you and I would too if what we say has been dissected and every day, everything we say is dissected. It happens. Everybody on that stage, politicians do. Hillary does. Everybody does.

HAYES: Look, I think everyone changes their mind. And I do think people are all over the place.

I just think that the current persona -- the persona that Donald Trump -- this is actually one of the questions here. The persona that Donald Trump has managed to channel since his birther phase in which he was obsessed with the discredited conspiracy theory about the birthplace of the president of the United States and spent a lot of money and time and the nation`s energy on it, that the persona that he has channeled since that is kind of this like channeling of the Steve King wing of the party, right?

And the question is like, it`s been very effective. It`s been a disaster for the Republican Party in certain ways. But that is what the party is now.

BARRO: Yes. Well, and it`s also -- it`s reflecting this division between else in the party and the base.

HAYES: Exploited it.

BARRO: Right. Donald Trump is running this outsider campaign but it is not a uniformly conservative campaign. He has far right positions on things like immigration but on entitlements, he says I won`t touch Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid because I`ll make us so rich we won`t have to.

He`s identified the things that people in the Republican base care about that haven`t been served. And he`s also identified the things that elites want that are unpopular and he`s thrown overboard.

HAYES: And there is no -- there is no coming back. After you watch that debate, the one thing I don`t think anyone from any political persuasion can come back and be like, well, there`s going to be some energy really flowing into Rubio and Kasich and Jeb and Christie. I mean, I just don`t see where that --

DELGADO: God, no.

HAYES: A.J. Delgado, Josh Barro, thank you both.

BARRO: Thank you.

DELGADO: Thank you.

HAYES: Still ahead, how Hillary Clinton found herself agreeing with Donald Trump at least about one thing.

Plus, Ted Cruz has a case of the birthers. But how much damage can they really do?

And later, Clinton and Sanders continue to battle over health care. Representatives from each campaign will join me.

Those stories and more ahead.



CHRISTIE: We need to rebuild our military, and this president has let it diminish to a point where tin pot dictators like the mullahs in Iran are taking our navy ships.


HAYES: There`s a great deal of consternation shown in last night`s debate over the incident in which two U.S. Navy boats were detained by Iran for 16 hours. And here`s what we`re learning today about what might have started this incident and how it possibly could have grown far worse. This is according to the "L.A. Times" citing U.S. officials.

Navy speed boats were off course in the Persian Gulf, possibly taking a shortcut through Iranian waters. When Iranian naval vessels approached the ten U.S. sailors aboard the two 50-foot-long riverine boats tried to make a run for it. The situation became only more complicate when a U.S. aircraft carrier task force led by the Harry S. Truman on patrol in the gulf quickly launched search helicopters into Iranian air space. That served to further alarm Tehran.

So, while Iran`s decision to videotape and broadcast the soldiers with their hands on their head for propaganda purposes is gross and possibly a violation of international law, if this reporting holds up it is very hard to call this an Iranian provocation.



MARIA BARTIROMO, MODERATOR: Senator Cruz, you`ve suggested Mr. Trump, quote, "embodies New York values". Could you explain what you mean by that?

CRUZ: I think most people know exactly what New York values are.

BARTIROMO: I am from New York. I don`t.

CRUZ: You`re from New York. So you might not. But I promise you in the state of South Carolina, they do.


HAYES: Senator Ted Cruz was at the ready last night when asked to explain what he means when he says that Donald Trump embodies New York values, defending the apparently poll-tested line he used to attack Trump.


CRUZ: You know, the concept of New York values is not that complicated to figure out. Not too many years ago Donald did a long interview with Tim Russert. And in that interview, he explained his views on a whole host of issues that were very, very different from the views he`s describing now. And in his explanation he said, "Look, I`m from New York. That`s what we believe in New York. Those aren`t Iowa values but this is what we believe in New York." So that was his explanation.


HAYES: Donald Trump also came prepared, delivering a response that even had Ted Cruz applauding.


TRUMP: When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than work. You had two 100 --


You had two 110-story buildings come crashing down. I saw them come down. And the people in New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death and even the smell of death, and we rebuilt downtown Manhattan.

And everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers.

And I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made.


HAYES: It`s fair to say "The New York Daily News" also found Cruz`s statement insulting. Before we show you their front page from today, I guess I have to warn you that some viewers may find it offensive. It reads "Drop dead, Ted" with a picture of the statue of liberty giving the middle finger and the subtitle, "Hey, Cruz, you don`t like New York values, go back to Canada."

Cruz`s comments also led to an unlikely showing of support for Donald Trump. Democratic front-runner, former New York Senator Hillary Clinton tweeted, quote, "Just this once Trump`s right." Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio tweeted he agrees with Trump on this issue and asked, "Think Ted Cruz criticized New York values when he asked Goldman for massive loans or when he comes here to gobble up cash?"

Today, Cruz was asked by NBC if he wanted to apologize for comments on New York values to which he gave this response.


CRUZ: I apologize to all of the African-American children who Mayor de Blasio tried to throw out of their charter schools that were providing a lifeline to the American dream. And I apologize to all the cops and the firefighters and 9/11 heroes who had no choice but to stand and turn their backs on Mayor de Blasio because Mayor de Blasio over and over again stands with the looters and criminals rather than the brave men and women of blue.


HAYES: Joining me now, Ed Cox, chairman of the New York Republican State Committee.

Mr. Cox, what`s your response --


HAYES: What`s your response to Ted Cruz`s apparent doubling down this evening?

COX: Well, look, there`s a back and forth going here, and that`s part of politics. I went to school in New York and I`ve worked in New York as a corporate and financial lawyer for my entire career. And it is indeed the greatest city in the world.

And, look, you talk about the values in New York City, they`re the values of America -- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But in New York City, they`re carried to a different degree -- a different degree of sophisticated energy that`s unmatched by any city in the world. That`s why Pope John Paul II called New York City the capital of the world.

HAYES: But, you know, with due respect, Mr. Cox, you were there. Am I mistaken? You were there in that debate last night.

COX: I sure was.

HAYES: So, you know there`s an appetite for this. I mean, people in your party, South Carolina, they don`t like New York. They think it is -- I don`t know what they think it is. But they think it doesn`t share their values.

COX: A lot of them came from New York down to South Carolina.

HAYES: That`s true. There are a lot of expats.


COX: My driver down here was taking me around. He said, we had a great time. He came from Queens, New York.

And 55 million tourists, mostly from the United States but also around -- from around the world, come to New York because from the Statue of Liberty to Sylvia`s up in Harlem, from St. Patrick`s to Prometheus unbound on the other side of the street, New York City is a fascinating, energy-driven city, and it`s always been that way ever since it was New Amsterdam at its very start.

HAYES: So, do you think it`s insulting to go -- to essentially make political hay by just attacking a somewhat random -- it`s very weird. Now, Ted Cruz is apparently now condemning Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, who he`s not running against, which you know, do whatever you want in that.

But there`s something a little weird about making political hay out of just insulting one part of the country.

COX: I have to agree. When you have Andrew Cuomo saying that conservatives should leave New York, have no place in New York, I`d have to agree with that, that that`s something you certainly should condemn. And the way Mayor de Blasio, the way he`s undoing every good conservative policy that was put in place and that brought New York City back from being a city of prime and grime in the late `80s as Rudy Giuliani did and Mayor Bloomberg did with respect to schools and charter schools. And Mayor de Blasio`s undoing every one of those. And I think it`s right to condemn him for that.

HAYES: What is he undoing?

COX: He undid the welfare reforms. His administration`s taking workfare out of welfare and you see the welfare rolls going up again. With respect --

HAYES: Can I insert something? Just because you mentioned the charter school. I just want to be clear on the facts here and because Ted Cruz said.

What the mayor proposed that charter schools, which are currently using physical buildings of the New York public school system for free, actually pay fair market rent for those spaces. So, that was the actual substantive proposal there.

He wasn`t throwing them out. He wasn`t shutting them down. He was asking them to contribute to the overhead of those buildings, just so people know what policy he`s referring to.

Ed Cox --

COX: Chris?


COX: Chris, for ten years I authorized half the charter schools in New York City as chairman of the Charter School Institute of the State University of New York. The law provides that the city of New York and other cities have to make access to public school space and other space that they might have available to charter schools. And that`s the simple fact.

HAYES: Ed Cox, thanks so much.

COX: My pleasure.

HAYES: Coming up, I need you to do something. Take a look at this tape. Remember it. Because everything is not as it appears.

ALL IN on your side, next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it was terrible in every way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are so many elderlies here. Why do they have to pick him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You thought it was in poor taste?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In very poor taste.


HAYES: At this hour, a scandal is rocking the city of Cranston, Rhode Island. It all started last week at the local senior center where a press conference was held to roll out a new Snow Angels program. Cranston teens are being called upon to help shovel the driveways of home-bound senior citizens.

Some of those teens were brought in for the press conference, so was the snow, hauled in from the local ice rink.

And as for the senior citizens, well, one of them was on hand and she stood right next to the organizer of the news conference and head of the senior enrichment center, Sue Stenhouse.


SUE STENHOUSE: This is one of my most favorite projects and it`s because it`s intergenerational, and it`s about great youth coming together and helping out our neighbors.


HAYES: But some digging by the Eye-team at WJAR in Providence revealed that the elderly woman standing next to Miss Stenhouse at the press conference just mere steps away from Cranston mayor Alan Feng wasn`t exactly who she was purporting to be.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a she that now turns out was really a he. NBC 10 has learned a bus driver was dressed up as an elderly woman for this press conference we covered last week at the Cranston senior center.


HAYES: A man named David Roberts drives a van that transports senior citizens around Cranston. As WJAR discovered, a decision was made to have Roberts pose as an elderly woman at the press conference by wearing an elaborate get-up. Roberts donned a dress, earrings, lipstick, and a wig. Most damning of all, the nametag Roberts wore that read Cranston senior home resident.

Mr. Roberts could not be reached for comment by WJAR, but according to local reports Miss Stenhouse, the organizer of the news conference, did not have a senior citizen present at the event so she asked Roberts to step in.

She has since resigned from her position as director of the city`s senior services. And while the mayor`s office isn`t commenting on the matter, the owner of the hair salon where Mr. Roberts allegedly obtained his wig had plenty to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FAMEL: Dave usually drives the senior citizens in to the salon. So he said to me, Lane, do you have a wig that I could borrow? He said I have to get dressed as a senior.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you saw the story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I saw the story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: and what did you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I went, oh, my god, I can`t believe that, you know, he wanted it for that.

I probably would have given him a better wig.



HAYES: Everyone went into last night`s GOP presidential debate wondering how Texas Senator Ted Cruz would parry the so-called birther question, the notion raised repeatedly by Donald Trump is that Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother, is not a so-called natural-born citizen and thus is constitutionally ineligible to be president.


SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: The facts and the law here are really quite clear. Under long-standing U.S. law the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural-born citizen. The chances of any litigation proceeding and succeeding on this are zero.


HAYES: This is Ted Cruz`s argument. The law is settled, I`m a natural- born citizen, case closed.

Now, Cruz`s argument got pretty high marks from commentators. But the problem for Cruz is that the issue is simply not going to go away.

John McCain, Rand Paul, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad are among the elected Republican officials who have joined Trump in questioning Cruz`s eligibility. A number of prominent legal scholars say the law is not clear.

Plus, as Buzzfeed reports, Cruz has now inherited President Obama`s birther true believers, including Soviet-born dentist and lawyer Orly Taitz (ph) who filed multiple lawsuits seeking to have President Obama removed from office and who was once fined $20,000 by a judge who said Taitz, quote, "abuses her privilege to practice law."


DR. ORLY TAITZ: Obama is completely illegitimate for U.S. presidency for two reasons, not only because he did not provide the place of his birth, but also because both parents have to be U.S. citizens. His father was never U.S. citizen.


HAYES: Yesterday, an 85-year-old Houston lawyer reportedly filed the first lawsuit over Cruz`s eligibility. And as TPM points out it`s a doozy, a rambling 28-page complaint that brings all sorts of seemingly unrelated issues into the case.

It is not clear who has standing to bring a suit against Cruz, but there is no doubt that Ccruz is poised to face more legal challenges, including from Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson, who said on this show last night he plans to file suit if Cruz is the nominee.


HAYES: 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.

REP. ALAN GRAYSON, (D) FLORIDA: Yes. That`s exactly what makes America so great. Anybody can sue anybody for anything.


HAYES: Joining me now, Charlie Pierce, writer at large for Esquire.

Charlie, my evolution on this is I still think on the merits this is ridiculous. I do think the precedent is pretty clear, although the court hasn`t ruled on it. But I have now become convinced that if he`s a nominee someone`s going to sue and not just some kook, you know, who`s filing some nutty pro se claim but some lawyer, some really good lawyer somewhere is going to actually put this before a court.

CHARLIE PIERCE, ESQUIRE: I mean, I think you`ve got -- first of all, you`ve got to warn me when there`s an Orly Taitz sound bite coming up. I think someone should -- someone just drove a railroad spike into my right ear.

But I think you`re seeing a couple of things going on here.

Number one, the Republican establishment may not be sure Donald Trump can win the election, but the Republican establishment really doesn`t like Ted Cruz.

I mean, you`ve got Terry Branstad, who is probably the blandest of bland Midwest Republicans, saying, well, geez, I`m not really sure. And the other thing is this is one of those things. If you accept that the members of the constitutional convention in the 1780s were the intellectual creme de la creme of their time, this is one of those things that makes me think they`re just messing with the rest of us. To leave this as ambiguous as they did. This is almost as funny a piece of comedy gold as the electoral college.

HAYES: Well, and here`s the thing. When I listen to that Orly Taitz bite, it reminded me -- I mean, again, the whole birther thing was so preposterous because the facts of it were untrue. The president was born in the United States, ergo he`s a citizen under the 14th amendment. But the theory of the case I had forgotten, right? The theory of the Obama birther case was that he was born secretly in Kenya and the fact that he wasn`t a citizen automatically because his mother was one.

So actually, they were making a version of the argument with the wrong facts that people are now making against Ted Cruz with the correct facts.

PIERCE: Well, yeah. I mean, the correct fact being that Ted Cruz actually was born in Canada.

But I -- this is fascinating to me. The idea that this story has had legs beyond a day or two, because I`m convinced Trump just threw it out there because that`s the way he does things.

HAYES: Right.

PIERCE: But the idea that -- we have Lawrence Tribe chipping in and the woman whose name unfortunately I can`t remember who wrote the piece in USA Today, that there`s actual constitutional ambiguity on who can run for president and what the citizenship qualifications are, this to me is a fascinating sidelight to this campaign.

HAYES: And it will be something. I mean, I -- it`s going to be something that is going to show up in court in a lot of places. And the delicious irony here, talking to some legal experts about who would have standing to sue, the best person to have standing to sue would be someone that lost the nomination to Ted Cruz. And if Ted Cruz were to win the nomination, I can name someone who is pretty good with lawsuits and would have standing.

And Donald Trump suing Ted Cruz to kick him out would be quite a spectacle.

PIERCE: And is there any doubt in anybody`s mind that he would do that?

HAYES: Zero doubt.

PIERCE: Usually, you`d say, you know, a guy wants a future in politics...

HAYES: Exactly.

PIERCE: ...he doesn`t want to rock the boat. Donald Trump simply does not care about that.

Now, I`m not saying he will. But he`s the most likely of all.

HAYES: Charlie Pierce, thank you very much.

Still to come, going into this weekend`s Democratic debate the race has gotten a lot closer and the two leading candidates are no longer holding back. Stay with us.


HAYES: Today we saw the latest example of President Obama attempting to define his legacy in his last year. A huge announcement, one that flew under the radar and one that climate activists have been lobbying for: halting new coal mining leases on public lands. At first blush that might not sound like much. You don`t think of anecdotes of running into coal miners in Yosemite National Park.

But actually, according to the Times, about 40 percent of this country`s coal is mined on public land, primarily in Wyoming. And why this order only pertains to new leases, this action comes as the administration seeks to overhaul the entire federal coal program.

It`s an issue the president did not shy away from in his State of the Union speech. And follow-up in a way to last year`s action to limit carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.

I`m anxious to see what else this final year of his administration brings on our most pressing global crisis.


HAYES: This Sunday Hillary Clinton will share a debate stage with rival Bernie Sanders after a contentious week in which her campaign hammered Sanders on health care.


CLINTON: I`m a little surprised to be having this debate, and it`s really a very general debate when it comes to Senator Sanders, about no, we need to have a single payer system. Well, what does that mean?

Now, the only clue that I can find, because he hasn`t laid out a plan, is to go back and look at the bills that he`s introduced nine different times. And it`s a bit concerning to me, because it would basically end all the kinds of health care we know: Medicare, Medicaid, the CHIP program, children`s health insurance, Tricare for the national guard, military, Affordable Care Act, exchange policies, employer-based policies. It would take all that and hand it over to the states.


HAYES: That was Clinton last night speaking with our own Rachel Maddow going after the senator from Vermont repeatedly for not yet releasing the details of his single payer health care policy.

As polls in Iowa have tightened, the latest showing Clinton up by just two points, well within the margin of error. The Clinton campaign has sought to portray Sanders` plan, what he calls Medicare for all, as expensive, unrealistic, and possibly imperiling the health care of millions of people.

Joining me to defend that position, press secretary for the Clinton campaign.

How are you, Brian?


HAYES: Thank you for being here.

FALLON: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: All right, let`s talk price tag. I understand your beef with the campaign, that the Sanders campaign has not put out a specific plan.

FALLON: Right, that`s right.

HAYES: So the Wall Street Journal writes this article.


HAYES: Where they use an estimate from an economist at UMass-Amherst saying $15 trillion. Now, that`s over ten years. But the economist himself wrote an open letter saying that misses the fact that there would be $5 trillion in savings squeezed out of the health care system, right?


HAYES: So you`ve been using this $15 trillion number. Like, is that a legitimate number to be using?

FALLON: Sure. That`s how CBO would score it.

So, there`s a couple points here. The first is a point just about transparency. If you`re a candidate running for president and one of your main proposals is a single payer plan that could cost potentially as much as $15 trillion, putting aside how much it may actually save, but if it`s going to cost $15 trillion I think you owe it to the electorate whose votes you`re seeking to put the out. And he said he would and then waffled on that.

So just from a pure process matter of running for president and doing right by the folks whose votes you`re seeking I think it makes sense to put the details out so we can assess the details of the plan.

But secondly on the substance of the matter, the details matter because Senator Sanders may well want to argue after he puts the details out of his plan that notwithstanding the tax increase that middle-class households could potentially face or did face at least under that analysis of HR-676.

HAYES: Right. And we should be clear about that bill, that John Conyers bill in the House, it is not Bernie Sanders` bill.

FALLON: Correct. But it was similar enough that...

HAYES: It`s a Medicare for all bill.

FALLON: That`s right.

And so at least by the analysis that was conducted of that very similar proposal, Middle-class households` taxes would rise. And Senator Sanders may very well argue that their premiums...

HAYES: That`s right.

FALLON: ...are going to be reduced, and the reduction in those premiums will eclipse the tax increase.

HAYES: That is the argument.

FALLON: Put the details out and let`s see if that`s true, because what we would conclude potentially when we see the details, but we can`t make this point until we know...

HAYES: Or are ready to contend.

FALLON: What we`re ready to potentially contend is that while a lot of those middle class households may do better in a pre-ACA world, it may be the case that post-ACA it`s a bad bargain for a lot of middle class households.

HAYES: So this gets to a deeper question about this idea of taking away from health care or dismantling existing health care, right? I mean, Chelsea Clinton I think used the word dismantle when she was talking about CHIP and these other things.

I mean, you know, I remember -- Hillary Clinton when she worked on President Bill Clinton`s health care healthcare plan, right, she was Harry and Louise, right. The infamous ads where they came out and they said they`re going to take away our health care. And then when Barack Obama tried to do that to her in 2008, she got up and she said in a famous moment, shame on you, Barack Obama, since when do Democrats do this to each -- how is this not Harrying and Louising Bernie Sanders?

FALLON: Because she went through those battles, because she went through the so-called Hillarycare saga in 1993, because she campaigned on a universal health care plan in 2008 that included, by the way, a very strong public option that would have increased the amount of people that would be covered by a government plan, quote unquote...

HAYES: Does she support that now?

FALLON: Sure. Public option, sure.

So, at this -- look, as an aside, the difference between Democrats and Republicans on this issue is vast. The difference here is meaningful but put it in perspective.

HAYES: Right.

FALLON: So she absolutely is not against the principle of expanding the number of people that are covered by government insurance, that`s what the public option would do.

But I think it`s because she went through the crucible of those experiences that she realized that the ACA is no small thing. And so it`s one small thing to put out a white paper and suggest that single payer might be a good idea, but if you`re running for president and you`re actually going to propose to get certain things done with potentially a Republican congress you ought to put out the details and admit to people whose votes you`re seeking how practical it really is.

And so to the point about whether the taxes and the premium savings would actually add up, there are all kinds of people, people under age 26 who right now are getting insurance through their parents.

HAYES: Right.

FALLON: They would not benefit that markedly from...

HAYES: The point is that...

FALLON: But the tax increases would be felt...

HAYES: That`s right. So, the point is...

FALLON: ...folks that are on expanded Medicaid thanks to the ACA would not benefit that markedly from the move to single payer, but they would be hit by the tax increase.

Folks that are being subsidized almost fully on the exchanges would not benefit that much from a switch to single payer but they would get the 9 percent tax increase.

So let`s have that discussion. But we can`t have it until Senator Sanders puts out the details.

HAYES: OK. As the final point let me just say the form of that argument is the form that conservatives use to argue against all progressive health care, right? Because someone`s going to lose.

FALLON: ACA is progressive health care.

HAYES: Right, no, I know that, but I mean...

FALLON: I mean, Hillary Clinton is standing with President Obama to say the ACA was no small feat. That`s a pretty progressive argument, actually.

HAYES: Brian Fallon, thank you so much.

Bernie Sanders` campaign manager joins me next to respond. Stay with us.


HAYES: Joining me now, Jeff Weaver, campaign manager for Bernie Sanders.

And Jeff, let me start with this question of details. I mean, it really does seem to me entirely fair to say look, how the math of this works out, who benefits, who loses under this plan is going to matter on the details and we can`t argue with a thing we haven`t seen.


But look, Senator Sanders said he would put out his proposal by the time of the Iowa caucuses. That`s February 1st. If you look at your calendar today, it is not February 1st yet.

So why this process argument about the plan isn`t out before the date you that said you would put it out when that date hasn`t gotten here yet.

HAYES: So guys are going to put it out.

WEAVER: Of course we`re putting it out, yes.

The real issue here is is the Democratic Party going to stand for universal health care or not? The ACA was a tremendous accomplishment. There`s no doubt about that. Senator Sanders supported it. He was on the committee that helped write it. It was a huge step forward. But it is true that there are still millions of people who are not covered by health insurance, many people have high co-payments and deductibles.

The Democratic Party, since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, has stood for universal health care and Senator Sanders is advocating for universal health care for every American as a right. Secretary Clinton apparently no longer supports that.

When -- you know what happened in 2008 when she rather viciously attacked Senator Obama saying that attacking another Democrat on the issue of supporting universal health care undermined core Democratic values. Those are her words. And gave aid and comfort to the very special interests and their allies in the Republican Party, also her words, who want to defeat universal health care.

HAYES: So what about this? The argument that if you go back and open up health care, you are opening a Pandora`s box. If you particularly -- if you had a Republican senate in congress and President Bernie Sanders comes to a Republican Senate in congress and says, hey, let`s do a health care bill that the net effect of that would be net destructive.

That doesn`t strike me as a crazy argument.

WEAVER: Well, it is crazy. And it`s crazy for this reason. Senator Sanders has been a strong advocate for universal health care for years and expanding health care to people who don`t have it. Do you think for a second that he is going to put in danger existing health care programs if there`s no confidence that he`s going to get to move forward on a single payer plan?

Look, as he has said, this isn`t going to happen overnight. This is the vision. It has been the vision of the Democratic Party.

Secretary Clinton apparently is abandoning that vision, which has been a vision of the great leaders of this party for decades. Senator Sanders is carrying on the legacy of FDR, of Truman, of LBJ, who all have pushed to expand health care to people who don`t have it.

Believe me, Bernie Sanders is a strong supporter of people having health care. And he`s not going to do anything tone danger the health care people already have. And it`s really a disingenuous attack on their part to suggest he`s going to dismantle all these programs when in fact what he`s trying to do is expand health care to all Americans as a right.

WEAVER: Last night Senator Clinton, quickly, she said -- talking about Democrats taking money from Wall Street and then telling them what to do also included Barack Obama, who took a lot of money from the finance industry. Is that fair?

WEAVER: No, it`s not fair.

Look, this election is between Bernie Sanders and Secretary Clinton and Barack Obama, last night was not running for president. We`ve seen Barack Obama in office. Barack Obama has been a great president. It`s not a surprise Secretary Clinton is trying to cozy up to the president as much as humanly possible.

But we all know that the truth of the matter is that if Secretary Clinton had her way that in 2008 there would not have been any President Barack Obama.

HAYES: But it is true that Senator Barack Obama -- the substantive point is that Senator Barack Obama did take a lot of money from finance and did pass a Wall Street regulatory bill.

WEAVER: Well, it was very different in 2008 than it is in 2016 and the ability to raise money. Now, obviously, the president raised a lot of money online. That`s for sure. But the technology now is far superior in terms of being able to raise money online.

Bernie Sanders` message is reaching out to people across this country. He`s being funded with a grassroots campaign. It is not entirely clear that that magnitude of fund-raising could have been accomplished in 2008.

HAYES: All right. Jeff Weaver, thanks a lot for joining me tonight. Really appreciate it.

WEAVER: Thank you.

HAYES: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.