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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 1/27/2016

Guests: Sabrina Siddiqui, McKay Coppins, Gabe Sherman

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 27, 2016 Guest: Sabrina Siddiqui, McKay Coppins, Gabe Sherman


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

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re not seeing a lot of courage here, are we?

HAYES: Donald Trump escalates with FOX News.

TRUMP: I don`t know what games Roger Ailes is playing but what`s wrong over there.

HAYES: Tonight, new questions about the RNC`s role in the FOX News debate.

SEAN SPICER, RNC: You know, that`s not for us to second guess.

HAYES: And the one reporter who knows whether any of this is real or not.

Plus, why Republicans are beginning to blame Jeb Bush for the rise of Trump. Why Hillary is suddenly in favor of another debate and Bernie is suddenly not.

And tonight, Steve Kornacki reveals the Bernie Sanders path to victory -- when ALL IN starts right now.


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

Over the course of his campaign, Donald Trump has managed to undermine just about every institution in Republican politics. And now, he`s going to war with the party`s one real remaining center of power, FOX News and its chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.

Five days until the Iowa caucuses, Trump who`s speaking right now in South Carolina, is still insisting he will not attend tomorrow night`s FOX News debate, actually adding another event to his schedule at the exact same time, an unprecedented escalation in his longtime feud with the network over debate co-moderator Megyn Kelly.

Trump and Ailes have both gotten to where they are through a rough combination of bombast, media savvy and ruthlessness. And now locked in a battle of egos, both are trying to paint what is essentially a fight for attention and power as a question of principle.

It`s a WWE cage match, something with which Trump has a bit of experience dressed up in the prestige of the race for the White House.

With the high stakes of the most powerful office in the world actually up for grabs. This all started the first FOX News debate in August where Megyn Kelly asked Trump a pointed question about his language towards women.


MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS MODERATOR: Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women`s looks. You once told a contestant on "Celebrity Apprentice" it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton who is likely to be the Democratic nominee that you are part of the war on women?


HAYES: Trump was furious, spent the days after the debate attacking Kelly.


TRUMP: She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions, and, you know, you can see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.


HAYES: Roger Ailes eventually managed to smooth things over, but this week as the second FOX News debate approached, Trump began demanding that Kelly be relieved of her moderating duties and when the network refused, that`s when the threats escalated.

Yesterday, Trump tweeted a poll to his followers "should I do the GOP debate?" Side note, 56 percent ultimately said he should.

The, FOX responded with a goading statement, "We learned from a secret back channel that the ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet him if he becomes president. A nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should go to the meetings."

For Trump, that just about did it.


TRUMP: I don`t know what games Roger Ailes is playing, but what`s wrong over there, something`s wrong. With me, they`re dealing with somebody that`s a little bit different. They can`t toy with me like they toy with everybody else. When they sent out the wise-guy press releases a little while ago, done by some PR person along with Roger Ailes, I said, bye-bye.


HAYES: He later tweeted, "It was the childishly written and taunting PR statement that made him back out more" so than the, quote, "lightweight reporter Megyn Kelly."

We should note that Donald Trump hasn`t always held the same opinion about skipping debates or about Megyn Kelly`s moderating skills. Here he is in 2012, an interview with Kelly discussing some of the 2012 presidential candidates who declined to attend, this takes us back a debate, a "Newsmax" debate that Trump was co-hosting.


TRUMP: We`re not seeing a lot of courage here, are we?

KELLY: Not so far.

TRUMP: Not lots of courage.

KELLY: Are you still going to do it?

TRUMP: Supposed to be brave.

KELLY: Do you really think you`re a better moderator than I am?

TRUMP: No, I could never beat you. That wouldn`t even be close. There would be no contest. You have done a great job, by the way, and I mean it.


HAYES: According to reports, Ailes repeatedly reached out to Trump through various channels to patch things up but Trump says he`ll only talk to Ailes` boss Rupert Murdoch.

All along, the Republican front-runner has been trying to claim the moral high ground by calling on FOX to donate its profits from the debate to help military veterans.


TRUMP: I told them. I said, give money to the wounded warriors, give money to the veterans. They`re going to make a fortune with the debate.

Now, let`s see how many people watch. We`ll have our own event. We`ll raise some money for the Wounded Warriors. We`ll raise money for the vets.


HAYES: FOX News has been pulling a similar trick, insisting on their own steadfast righteousness in the face of Trump`s cajoling. A spokesperson staid in a statement last night, "Capitulating the politicians` ultimatums about a debate moderator violates all journalistic standards. Trump is still welcome at Thursday night`s debate and will be treated fairly but he can`t dictate the moderators or the questions."

A high-minded principle no doubt, but it didn`t stop FOX from joining the pile-on after the CNBC debate in October where the moderators were raked over the coals by the candidates and the conservative media who didn`t like their questions. It certainly didn`t stop FOX from using the backlash to debate their own debate on -- to promote their own debate on FOX Business a couple weeks later.


ANNOUNCER: CNBC never asked the real questions, never covered the real issues. That`s why on November 10th, the real debate about our economy and our future is only on FOX Business Network.


HAYES: Now after everyone threw a fit about CNBC, the RNC felt compelled to disinvite NBC News, a separate entity, from co-hosting a later debate. Now, the Trump camp is calling on them to repeat the precedent. A top adviser tweeted, "RNC pulls out of the NBC debate over the conduct of the CNBC moderators during the third GOP debate in Colorado. Megyn Kelly`s conduct far worse."

I`m joined by Gabe Sherman, the national affairs editor from "New York Magazine", quite literally wrote the book on Roger Ailes, "The Loudest Voice in the Room", probably the best sources journalist reporting on FOX News organization.

Here`s the question that`s driving me crazy: Are we all being played? Is this essentially -- is this WWE-style hype? They`re going to two at each other ten minutes before the debate, Donald Trump comes on stage and break the records and ratings?

GABE SHERMAN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Short answer, no. Long answer, he could still show up.

HAYES: Right.

SHERMAN: But this is not some grand conspiracy where everyone is in on the joke. Roger Ailes legitimately sent out that statement last night, Trump reacted in the moment.

HAYES: When you say Roger Ailes sent that out, was that Roger Ailes?

SHERMAN: Yes. Roger Ailes as I reported today, Roger Ailes and his personal attorney, a man named Peter Johnson Jr., sat together, drafted the statement and sent it out to the objections of some of his most senior producers who said this is a crazy idea. Basically, why are you going after the Republican front-runner with a childish, as Trump says, childish statement?

HAYES: So you`ve got a situation now, here`s the thing -- both these people, I mean, they deserve each other in every possible way, right? I mean, they both have sort of gotten to where they are through the same --

SHERMAN: Well, it`s important to point out, Trump would not be where he is without the promotion he got on FOX News all throughout the run-up to this campaign. So, it`s --

HAYES: You`re saying before the campaign. That`s the key thing to remember.

SHERMAN: They built him up in the wake of the whole birther, you know, controversy that he stirred. They gave him a call-in segment on "FOX & Friends" once a week. They promoted him. Now they`ve kind of created this monster that has devoured the network. I mean, you could not make this up, it`s such an incredible story.

HAYES: And now, it really is this question about, you know, there`s a Trump line about he can stand on 5th Avenue and shoot people, right? There`s this real question of Trump is basically calling FOX out and saying, it`s him or me.


HAYES: It`s Ailes or me. To whom do you have more loyalty? Something that no one really anywhere inside the sort of conservative ecosystem has the power --

SHERMAN: Never has happened in the past. To me, just let`s flash back to 2012. Mitt Romney was running for president. He did a kind of a contentious interview with Bret Baier and Mitt Romney said this is a very unusual interview, Bret. Then after that you never really heard anything more about it.

Now, fast forward to Donald Trump, he doesn`t like an interview question, debate question from Megyn Kelly, he goes on the attack. I mean, Republican candidates never publicly challenge FOX News until now. And that is why I wrote that Donald Trump has exploded the myth that you can challenge FOX News as a Republican and not see your political fortunes blow up.

HAYES: I mean, they are also -- this is -- they are escalating in a way that they always escalate on everyone which is -- this is the way -- just be clear, this is how Roger Ailes deals with everyone, right? If you cross FOX, they go zero to 1,000. They try to metaphorically bash your head in, right?

SHERMAN: Make it so uncomfortable that you just at the end of the day say, enough, cry uncle and you`re done.

HAYES: So, yesterday, you`ve got a senior Trump adviser showing the donations from the FOX corporate entity, Murdoch`s company, to the Clintons.

SHERMAN: I mean, this is basically -- Donald Trump is running Roger Ailes` playbook against Roger Ailes.

HAYES: Exactly.

SHERMAN: And he`s doing it at a higher level. It`s incredible.

HAYES: And what I think also is fascinating is they have created this story for their viewers about media bias. You can`t trust anyone.

SHERMAN: Exactly.

HAYES: You can only trust us, right? Trump is now taking that precise same story --

SHERMAN: And using it against them.

HAYES: Right. He`s saying you guys are biased, look, everyone was fine with them moving the debate NBC, why can`t you do this here, why can`t you do -- is it really fair? They`ve more gotten rid of "The National Review."

SHERMAN: Yes, and the central issue in this whole debate is immigration. Trump`s audience feels that FOX has been overly solicited of the Marco Rubio gang of eight, comprehensive reform wing of the party and Donald Trump is basically saying, FOX, you cannot be trusted on the issue of immigration. I was in Iowa and that is the fault line that he has drawn.

HAYES: That is fascinating. Murdoch we also know has been supportive of it. (INAUDIBLE)

Gabe Sherman, that was extremely illuminating. Thank you.

SHERMAN: Thank you.

HAYES: Joining me now, my MSNBC colleague and dear friend Alex Wagner, and former RNC chair, Michael Steele, MSNBC political analyst.

Alex, I just want to be real clear on this as everyone sort of clouds themselves in principle, like there`s no principle here, right?


HAYES: Is there a principle that people --


HAYES: -- who aren`t in this fight should be defending?

WAGNER: Can we just take a moment to pause and recognize the twilight zone we are in in which Megyn Kelly and Roger Ailes are part of, like, the presumed liberal mainstream, lamestream media? I mean, the goalposts have moved so far to the right that they are no longer in the same stadium.

The second thing that I think is worth pointing out here, Chris, is that Donald Trump has played all of the media, right? I mean, to his own --


WAGNER: -- to his own advantage.


WAGNER: It is now commonplace for Donald Trump to call in to heralded media shows which will go unnamed.

HAYES: Right.

WAGNER: That is OK for him to do, lest anyone else do that. I mean, to think that Mike Huckabee could ever call into a radio program or Jeb Bush, it would be unacceptable. He`s kicking reporters out of rallies. He`s blacklisting reporters.

HAYES: He kicked "The New York Times" reporter out of a rally.

WAGNER: Exactly.

HAYES: And there was no great cry for solidarity.

WAGNER: He operates with complete and total immunity.

HAYES: Right.

WAGNER: And impunity. I think that, you know, as much as this is a question for the Republican Party, and it is a major question for the Republican Party in terms of what their identity is, it`s also a question for the media, in terms of what he`s gotten away with.

HAYES: Michael, what is your reaction watching this happen? And do you buy this idea that FOX is the central repository of whatever institutional power there is in what we call the Republican Party?

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I don`t buy that. I think -- I think what FOX does is FOX has been able to create and lend a voice to a lot of conservatives who for many years felt they had no voice when it came to conservative expression of ideas and principles in the media. FOX has created that space for them.

It began, as we all know, in talk radio, with the Rush Limbaughs, the Mark Levins of the world. Roger was able to take that and give it a visual, to actually put it on air in a very credible way.

So, what you have now is reality television catching up to this traditional conservative mainstream media and twisting it and twisting it into a new medium that we all partake in, reality television --

HAYES: Let me say this, in terms of the twisting of it, here`s one thing that struck me as I`ve watched this play out. You see people -- and I`ve been following this sort of intra-right debate over Trump for quite adequately. You see people today talking about all the disgusting invective being hurled at Megyn Kelly. And there`s a lot of disgusting invective being hurled at Megyn Kelly, which is disgusting, right?

You`ve seen Trump use derogatory terms, he had this stupid comment today about I`m not going to call her a bimbo, right?

Now, the response from all the Trump supporters, what, you want political correctness? To me, it`s a sort of perfect Frankenstein`s monster moment where FOX has been saying forever when liberals complain about the words used being offensive, they`re being politically correct. Well, that`s good for the goose, that`s good for the gander, right? That`s precisely the argument FOX has been using against liberals forever. Trump`s just throwing it back at them.

STEELE: Well, absolutely. In one sense, you have a situation where you have this sort of Frankenstein monster in the political sphere that`s been created, and he`s gone into the village and he`s wreaking havoc in the village only to find out that the villagers are taking their torches and their broom sticks and they`re joining up with the monster to go up the hill --

HAYES: Exactly right. --

STEELE: -- to go back to the castle and take it down. That`s the new reality right now. And Trump knows that. He`s playing it magnificently.

And, again, an asymmetrical political game in a conventional political environment.


WAGNER: It`s not just -- I mean, so it`s not just about FOX. It`s about the Republican Party, right?

I mean, look at the finger pointing that`s happening today. People are blaming Roger Ailes` goading press release. They`re blaming Jeb Bush`s Right to Rise super PAC. The problem is Republicans made a bed with angry nativists and invited them into the party and now they`re the dominant force in the base.

It`s Donald Trump this year and it`s Roger Ailes` press release, or it`s Jeb Bush`s super PAC. Until the Republican Party deals with the largest part of their base and figures out where they want to go, it will be this in the next cycle, the one after that and the one after that.

HAYES: The one person who`s been vying for that base is Ted Cruz and they`ve had this sort of increasingly ideological fight. They keep saying he`s not a real conservative. He`s challenging Trump`s debate. Trump saying even though I beat him the last six debate, especially the last one, Ted Cruz wants to debate again. Can we do it in Canada?" Which he`s just hammering on this Canada --

WAGNER: I`m not calling him a bimbo, but --

HAYES: Exactly. People say, oh, God, what has become of conservatism? Go listen to Rush Limbaugh every day.

I mean, like, this is not -- all of this -- all this sort of rhetorical invective, the bombast, the performance of it, it`s not new. The sort of scandalize that we are --

WAGNER: Well, the scandal and the finger pointing and the surprise, this is the harvest. You sow the seeds.

HAYES: Michael?

STEELE: Well, those seeds have been sown for a long time. We have to be clear about the history and pathway of this. This is not something that generated in 2009 with the emergence of Tea Party. This is something that goes back really to the early days of Roe v. Wade. To the promises made to conservatives about, you know, we`re going to fight back and repeal this law.

You talk about on marriage issues, on other economic issues, on taxes, a lot of disaffected GOP activists have --

HAYES: Michael --

STEELE: -- feel like they`ve been, you know, set aside. This is their response.

HAYES: I completely agree with you on that. If you look at this Republican Congress and the era of Obama, they have delivered nothing for their base except austerity which did nothing for anyone.

Alex Wagner, Michael Steele -- thank you both.

Still to come, Democrats dealing with their own debate drama. I`ll explain the unexpected response from Hillary Clinton.

Plus, is it possible that after all this, we end up with Jeb Bush as the Republican nominee?

And later, a call to stand down after the armed occupation in Oregon takes a deadly turn. We`ll have the latest on that and more ahead. Don`t go anywhere.


HAYES: All right. So, last week Ted Cruz told a New Hampshire town hall audience a harrowing story, even someone as powerful as Ted Cruz, Ivy League educated lawyer, with a wife on leave from Goldman Sachs, had lost his health insurance because of the dread Obamacare.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`ll tell you, you know who want one of millions of Americans is who lost their health care because of Obamacare? That would be me. I don`t have health care right now. By the way, when you let your health insurance policy lapse, your wife gets really ticked at you. It`s not a good -- I`ve had, shall we say, some intense conversations with Heidi on that.


HAYES: OK. So I had a few thoughts when I heard those comments. The first is it is true. It`s a real pain to shop for health insurance on an open market exchange. That`s what lefties who critiqued Obamacare from the beginning were saying.

But consider this: while Cruz`s health care plan was, indeed, discontinued on December 31st, Blue Cross/Blue Shield announced plans to phase out the plan all the way back in July. Right?

So as Michael Hiltzik points out, five months is normally enough for an educated adult to arrange health insurance, particularly among the party of personal responsibility, particularly one who thinks he can handle the job of being president.

And my next thought is, no, there`s no way this is true, there`s no way this is true that Ted Cruz and Heidi Cruz and their adorable kids are walking around this great green earth without health insurance. I do not believe it.

Well guess what? As the Cruz campaign had to eventually admit, the Cruz family does have health insurance. They never lost it. That wasn`t true what Ted Cruz said.

Blue Cross had automatically enrolled Cruz and anyone else who failed to act into a new policy on January 1st. The Cruz campaign blamed an insurance broker -- again, personal responsibility -- for not making Cruz aware of that fact. And with that, yet another Obamacare scare story down the drain.


HAYES: If you thought there was debate drama on the Republican side, tonight the long-simmering debate about debates within the Democratic Party has exploded. The debate schedule which has been a constant source of tension for the party has morphed into an open standoff involving "The New Hampshire Union Leader," this network, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and the DNC, where all the sides are scrambled.

On Tuesday "The New Hampshire Union Leader" announced it will partner with MSNBC to host a Democratic debate next week five days before the New Hampshire primary. The only issue is that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the head of the DNC, which controls the schedule, has not sanctioned that debate. And the DNC reiterated today it has no plans to sanction it.

In theory, that means anyone who participates would not be able to attend future debates that are sanctioned by the DNC. Now, this dustup follows months of complaints over the number of Democratic debates and the timing of them which has been decidedly odd. For the Republicans, will have had eight debates before the New Hampshire primary, the Democrats have had just four -- three of them on week ended nights.

Martin O`Malley said the DNC is limiting debates to elect Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders issued a petition asking people to tell Secretary Clinton to encourage the Democratic National Committee to schedule more debates before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

But that was before. The sort of iron rule of politics is the front-runner has less need for debates whereas more debates were in favor of the candidate who was behind. And what has played out in this campaign season is that Hillary Clinton has done quite well in debates that have been held.

But now, she`s behind by 13 points against Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. And so, suddenly, she is up for more debates, telling Chris Matthews she would attend a "New Hampshire Union Leader"/MSNBC debate.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC`S "HARDBALL" HOST: Would you like the chairman, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, to approve the MSNBC/NBC debate next week?

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone): I would like the chairman of the party and the campaigns to agree that we can debate in New Hampshire next week.


HAYES: Bernie Sanders, who met with President Obama today, has not yet agreed to participate in the debate. The danger, of course, for Sanders, is that one more debate could give Hillary Clinton a chance to shine should he slip up. One only has to look back in 2008 to see how it can happen when just days after then-Senator Obama won in Iowa, shocking the political world, a moment in the debate on the eve of the New Hampshire primary fundamentally changed the race.


MODERATOR: What can you say to the voters of New Hampshire on this stage tonight who see a resume and like it but are hesitating on the likability issue where they seem to like Barack Obama more?

CLINTON: Well, that hurts my feelings.


MODERATOR: I`m sorry, Senator. I`m sorry.

CLINTON: But I`ll try to go on.


CLINTON: He`s very likable. I agree with that. I don`t think I`m that bad.

BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You`re likable enough, Hillary, no doubt.

CLINTON: Thank you so much.



HAYES: Ooh. Just three days after that, Hillary Clinton who was projected to lose by every major poll came back and handed Obama a stunning defeat in New Hampshire. Precisely a scenario you imagine Bernie Sanders would like to avoid.

Joining me now, Sam Seder, MSNBC contributor, host of "The Majority Report."

I mean, first, OK, what is your reaction to all of this?



SEDER: No, you know, look -- I think to a certain extent, the DNC and the Clinton campaign is hoisted by their own petard here. I mean, because -- look, everybody knew that the DNC had shut down the debate process and it was quite clear who it was going to benefit, right? It`s the presumptive leader. I mean, that`s quite obvious.

HAYES: Yes. Let`s just say, this iron law I talked about, no one has actual principles about debates in campaigns. Everyone should understand this. The person behind wants more debates, the person ahead doesn`t want more debates.

SEDER: Absolutely. I mean, the issue is what the DNC was doing in the midst of it.

HAYES: That`s right.

SEDER: Because they`ve done some unprecedented things in terms of the DNC`s history, in terms of saying if you participate in an unsanctioned debate, we`re going to lock you out. And so, now, you have this problem where the Clinton campaign is sort of tacitly admitting that they were the ones preventing more debates, right, because they`re saying, well, we`re agreeing to a debate, so, obviously we should be able to have one. I think a Clinton spokesperson said that.

Well, now Bernie Sanders is saying, well, we`re just going to go by the rules as they`ve been and the head of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, has got this problem because she can`t be seen to be waffling.

HAYES: Completely.

SEDER: Because she`s pretending this is just the principle and shouldn`t have anything to do with the Clintons.

HAYES: Well, it also exposes the ridiculousness of the whole thing, because I think it was Nick Confessore, a "New York Times" reporter, said, I look forward to seeing the DNC bar Hillary Clinton from future debates if she participates in this one.

SEDER: Right.

HAYES: We all know that`s ridiculous. Ergo, we all know the rules that were created don`t really exist in any meaningful sense because ultimately it`s all power, right?

SEDER: Well, they have worked up until this moment as a fig leaf for the Clinton campaign to sort of do a four-corners type of slightly let`s slow this thing down.

HAYES: And yet the irony is she -- every time that Hillary Clinton has extended periods in front of big audiences whether it`s been the debates or the Benghazi committee hearing, she`s acquitted herself quite well.

SEDER: And I`d argue for the extended period of time when she wasn`t in front of people, it was hurting her.

HAYES: That`s right. I agree.

SEDER: This is a tactical mistake by the Clinton campaign and now it`s coming back to basically hurt them because --

HAYES: But then isn`t Sanders also on the same -- I mean, Sanders was saying there should be more debates. You know, he`s now -- he is sort of boxed in now, right? I mean --

SEDER: Well, he is to a certain extent. I mean, he`s dragging his feet a little bit. He`s simply deferring to the rules he`s always been deferring to.

HAYES: Bernie Sanders and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz over here.

SEDER: Right. The real problem is for the DNC. How do they shift at this point at this late date without looking like they are sort of, their principles were a little bit less than rigid?

HAYES: The other thing now is if the dam breaks here, then there`s going to be a flood, right?

SEDER: Right.

HAYES: If the dam breaks here, if they do this, let`s say, you know, if Sanders wins one of those first few state, we`re going to talk about this in a second, if he were to win both, two states, all of a sudden --

SEDER: Right, we`re ready for more debates. Let`s do a couple in South Carolina.

HAYES: That`s right.

SEDER: So, this is a real problem, I think, for the DNC in particular and, you know, to a certain extent for the Clinton campaign because, again, if they come back and Sanders says, OK, we`re going to do the same thing, we want another debate, and the Clinton campaign says, well, you know, we`re a little bit -- I mean, it`s a real problem. It was a miscalculation, a big miscalculation from the very beginning. I think, you know, anti-democratic in some ways, small D.

HAYES: All right. Sam Seder, thank you.

SEDER: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Up next, we`ll look at just what it would take for Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination in tonight`s "Path to Victory". Stay with us.


HAYES: All this week, ahead of Monday`s Iowa caucuses, MSNBC host and political correspondent Steve Kornacki is joining me to look at the potential path to victory for five of the presidential candidates.

Tonight, Bernie Sanders. The Democratic Socialist Vermont senator who has challenged Hillary Clinton has turned out to be much more serious than many people predicted including, perhaps, some members of the Clinton campaign team.


HAYES: If you go back in time a year ago and say, we`re going to be having this conversation on the eve of the Iowa caucus, people would say you`re crazy. The path to victory for Bernie Sanders. Is there a path to victory for Bernie Sanders?

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: Well, there might be.

Look at it this way, it starts with this, I think. If there is, it`s this: I think he`s got to win Iowa and New Hampshire. His campaign will tell you, no, we think we can do well in Iowa, we could do New Hampshire. But, look, Hillary Clinton has so many advantages beyond Iowa and New Hampshire that if you`re Bernie Sanders you need something that`s going to rock the world. And the only thing that really would do that is you win both Iowa and New Hampshire. The only one on the Democratic side in modern history to pull that off was Al Gore. Al Gore won Iowa in 2000 over Bill Bradley. He won New Hampshire. He didn`t lose a single state after that.

You need some kind of an event like that if you`re Bernie Sanders to call every other assumption we have into question.

HAYES: And remember, the way the political media is, if he were to win Iowa, just Iowa, people are going to go crazy about that. That`s a huge upset. And there`s a lot of people that have a rooted interest against Hillary Clinton for various reasons.

There are lefties who don`t like Clintonism. There`s righties who hate her because she`s a Clinton. There`s the beltway media that wants to see drama and a race.

So, if he wins one and two, the kind of crescendo that would create is something that is very hard to prediict.

KORNACKI: That`s exactly.

There`s panic about Hillary Clinton and there`s could this actually be true about Bernie if he wins Iowa? Then New Hampshire is sort of -- does it confirm it or do we say, no, everything was wrong there?

If you pull both of them off and you`re Sanders, though, that takes you to the second step here which is...

HAYES: The firewall in South Carolina.

KORNACKI: South Carolina -- and it`s not just South Carolina, it`s black voters in South Carolina and it`s black voters across the country.

Bernie Sanders has tried for six months to make real inroads there. He`s made very, very minimal inroads.

The theory of his campaign is essentially we win Iowa, New Hampshire, and it`s that sort of world-changing event you`re describing and that is what causes black voters to say, you know what, I`m going to give him a second look and then he makes those inroads that have been elusive and he can ac tually compete and win South Carolina and southern states.

HAYES: And even then Hillary Clinton has advantages, right? I mean, even if he were to win those first three, Hillary Clinton is not at all knocked out. She`s got money, she`s got organization. There`s still going to be a lot of people trying very hard to take out Bernie Sanders at that point.

KORNACKI: And here`s the other thing she has. This does not exist on the Republican side. On the Democratic side, there are nearly 1,000 super delegates. They automatically get votes at the Democratic convention: governors, senators, members of congress, elected officials. They are overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly going to be with Hillary Clinton because they do not like the idea of the Democratic Party nominating somebody who calls himself a socialist.

And so Bernie Sanders, the ultimate obstacle for him even if everything else is breaking his way, is he`s got to win some of them over or he`s got to be so strong that he makes them have no choice but to come to his side because there`s going to be so much resistance from them to the idea of putting up Bernie Sanders for president.

HAYES: Ultimately what I think we are seeing is a Democratic Party that is much stronger as an entity in this race than the Republican Party is as an entity, not in terms of their electoral strength. And that`s in some ways Bernie Sanders has an obstacle that someone like Ted Cruz or Donald Trump doesn`t on the Republican side, because that Democratic Party has heft in a way the Republicans don`t.

KORNACKI: There are a lot more fail safes for the Democratic establishment.

HAYES: Steve Kornacki, thanks so much.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they come here and try to arrest you, they point a gun at you, try to put cuffs on you, how far are you willing to take this?

LAVOY FINICUM, OREGON PROTESTER: Well, don`t point a gun at me. You don`t point a gun at someone unless you`re going to shoot them. That`s the first thing you`re taught as a kid, don`t point guns at people.

And so I`m telling them right now, don`t point guns at me.

UNIDENIFIED MALE: So, you`re prepared to die. Better dead than in a cell?

FINICUM: Absolutely. Dude, would you like to be in a cell? Nobody wants to live their life in a cell.


HAYES: Three weeks ago the start of the standoff between armed protesters and law enforcement at a remote wildlife refuge in Oregon, rancher Lavoy Finicum told MSNBC that he was prepared to die rather than go to jail. Late yesterday afternoon, he was killed in a confrontation with law enforcement.

Eight other protesters are now in custody and now at least one of the remaining armed protesters still barricaded in the wildlife refuge is calling for armed violence against any law enforcement who stands in their way.

Ever since the occupation began on January 2, many have viewed it as faintly ridiculous. Armed protesters taking over a deserted bird sanctuary.

But our next guest has been warning these protesters were backing themselves into a corner and that violence was growing increasingly likely. The situation came to a head in Harney County, Oregon late yesterday afternoon when authorities set up a road block in anticipation of protest leaders traveling to a community meeting in another town.

This purported witness photo shows a standoff on that highway according to KOIN news in Portland.

Authorities tell NBC News that one of the vehicles carrying protesters did not stop and ran into a snowbank and Lavoy Finicum emerged with a firearm.

Officials say he was shot and killed.

Five people, including Ryan Bundy, who reportedly suffered a minor gunshot wound and his brother Ammon Bundy, were arrested at that scene.

Two others were later arrested at the refuge in Burns, Oregon. And an eighth turned himself into police in Peoria, Arizona, according to authorities.

All eight have been charged with conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties with the use of force, intimidation or threats. A felony.

An unknown number of protesters remain at that wildlife refuge. Authorities say the refuge has now been contained by additional road blocks, but in a live stream feed from the compound, and unidentified protesters called for anyone sympathetic to their cause to join them and, quote, if they stop you from getting here, kill them.

Tonight local news is reporting that Ammon Bundy, through his attorney is asking the remaining protesters to go home.

Joining me now, John Sepulvado, the weekend edition host of Oregon Public Broadcasting. He`s been covering this since the beginning and covered the Bundies since 2014.

John, why was it that as you covered this you started warning people that this was headed in a bad and possibly violent direction?

JOHN SEPULVADO, OREGON PUBLIC BROADCASTING: Well, I think a lot of people looked at what was happening and they looked at the militants baring their souls, in many ways, to a lot of Americans who don`t have their views, these militants might seem as cartoonish. And that wasn`t it at all. They were, in many ways I believe and still are, we should be very, very cognizant, there are still people there, they were letting people know about a deeper world view and we should say that this is not a world view that is that extreme in the west. This is something that many others agree with and that there have been some points made and there`s legislation in many statehouses about it.

But it was clear from the onset that these were not folks to be taken lightly. And they said it clearly. When I spoke to Ryan Bundy, he said that the guns make us serious.

HAYES: Those guns, of course, have been looming over this entire thing. Law enforcement officials have taken a pretty laissez-faire approach. They`ve been hands off.

What do you think changed that brought this to a head last night?

SEPULVADO: You know, we`ve been reporting, and I want to be the first to say, that we have been reporting that the FBI took a laissez-faire kind of attitude and a lot of the common perception is since Waco and Ruby Ridge the federal government doesn`t want to engage with people and have a bloody massacre as they did in Waco or Ruby Ridge.

I`m starting to hear from other experts this is starting to look more like a rope-a-dope strategy, that they were allowing the Bundy, and the leadership -- the Bundys and the leadership, to believe that they could do anything, to believe that they could go anywhere. And in this particular case, they became so confident in their ability that no one was going to stop them that they decided to get into this convoy and go on a very desolate, isolated road which, you know, if any of us put some thought into it, we would have seen this coming.

And I don`t think any of us expected this, myself included. I was not anticipating this happening. In fact, I only got a call from a source maybe about 15 minutes before it was announced that this was going on. So, you know, there`s been a lot of criticism towards law enforcement for their strategy. We`re going to have to wait and see and see, perhaps, that perhaps they took a very active strategy and that it worked.

We don`t know that. But that`s something that we`re going to have to examine.

HAYES: Well, then quickly, John, can you tell me what happens next? Because there`s still folks there and they`re now threatening violence.

SEPULVADO: And we should be very clear that the folks who are there are the folks who couldn`t make it into that convoy of leadership. So these are folks who are on the edges of this extremist movement already. And we`re starting to see some of them threaten, you know, extreme violence that they will continue to feel very violent -- or act very violently if need be.

We are hearing reports, and I have not confirmed these, but there are reports surfacing that one of the key leaders who`s left there is considering taking Ammon Bundy`s advice. During his criminal proceedings today -- after it, I should say, his attorney urged everyone to basically get out of the refuge while they can. And it looks like at least one person is taking that advice.

We haven`t confirmed that, but if this leader was to step down basically from the refuge, that would be a significant deescalation.

HAYES: All right, John Sepulvado, thank you for your reporting and for being here tonight. Appreciate it.

Still to come, no one wants to take credit for the rise of Donald Trump. But why are some people blaming Jeb Bush? That`s ahead.


HAYES: Right now, America is coming to grips with the fact that a city of 100,000 people, Flint, Michigan, has had its water supply poisoned, its children`s lives put at risk, and the perpetrators weren`t some foreign entity but the people that were supposed to represent the people of Flint, Michigan.

Rachel Maddow has been at the forefront of uncovering just what happened there. And tonight she hosting a special town hall from Flint to discuss exactly how this happened, what the city`s residents still need, and where the city goes from here.

"American Disaster: The Crisis in Flint" it airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern time right after our show. It is an absolutely do-not-miss television event. Stay right here.


HAYES: As Donald trump gets closer to possible wins in both Iowa and New Hampshire, giving him the momentum to possibly run the table through Super Tuesday on March 1, wrapping up the Republican nomination before anyone even understands what happened, the GOP establishment is in the beginning stages of already pointing fingers of who let this happen, trying to figure out who`s to blame for Trump`s rise. No one`s even cast a vote yet.

Now the early nominee for that position, the person to blame is Jeb Bush and the Right to Rise super PAC supporting him. Because you see, in the first six months of last year the pro-Jeb Bush super PAC raised a staggering $103 million.

But as Politico pointed out this morning, quote, "to date the group has spent about $5 million on TV commercial going after Trump." Ads like this.


JEB BUSH, 2016 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald, you know, is great at the one-liners, but he`s a chaos candidate and he`d be a chaos president.


HAYES: but they`ve dropped far more, four times as much, $20 million attacking fellow Floridian Marco Rubio.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These boots are made for flipping and that`s just what they`ll do one of these days young Marco`s going to flip-flop flip on you.


HAYES: the apparent strategy from Right to Rise is to take out Rubio first, believing him to be the biggest threat to Bush securing the nomination not Donald Trump.

And Mike Murphy, who`s the chief strategist for Right to Rise, said as much back in August when all this began telling The Washington Post, quote, "if other campaigns wish that we`re going to uncork money on Donald Trump, they`ll be disappointed. Trump is frankly other people`s problem. We`d be happy to have a two-way race with Trump in the end."

While polling for months suggest that Right to Rise efforts have failed to move the needle for Bush, much less secure a two-way race between him and Trump, there is a new poll today indicating it could still happen. We will show you that poll after the break.


HAYES: Don`t call it a comeback, but a new poll in New Hampshire has Jeb Bush in second place.

Bush is at 18 percent, still well behind Donald Trump at 35 percent, a few points above Ohio Governor John Kasich and double Marco Rubio`s support. Now, that is just one poll.

Joining me now from Iowa, Sabrina Siddiqui, political reporter for The Guardian; McKay Coppins, senior political writer for Buzzfeed.

All right, Sabrina, first of all, let me make my case for Mike Murphy and Right to Rise, it is not their job to take out Donald Trump. Their calculation that their best way to get the nomination is to bring it down to a Jeb Bush/Donald Trump race is correct, right?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, THE GUARDIAN: Well, here`s the issue. I think -- it`s hard to imagine that what happens in Iowa is not going to have significant bearing on New Hampshire. And in Iowa, Marco Rubio is polling in a strong third, Jeb Bush and the other candidates in most of the polling don`t even break 7 percent here.

So going into New Hampshire if it`s clear that Marco Rubio at least this state, in Iowa, is the clear alternative to Trump and Cruz, it`s hard to imagine that Jeb Bush stands to be a great beneficiary in the long run and that, you know, as other candidates even if they were to drop out of the race, there isn`t any indication in a lot of the polling that`s been done that voters, for example, who support Marco Rubio or who support Ted Cruz or who support Ben Carson or any of the other candidates that we`ve seen in the top of the polls would go to Jeb Bush. There just isn`t any polling to back that up. And I think that`s what people are questioning is how do they see this race eventually coming down to Donald Trump and Jeb Bush?

HAYES: McKay, what I`m struck by in all this, it`s like they moved through the grieving process fairly quickly, where now it`s like well, who do we blame for nominee Trump?

You know, you guys haven`t voted yet, like -- who, honestly, if there`s one group -- there`s no group that has come out worse over the last six months of this campaign than the, quote, Republican establishment and Republican donor class who just look like a bunch of amateur idiots at every possible turn.

MCKAY COPPINS, BUZZFEED: Well, and just so gutless and so, you know, easily scared and panicked.

I mean, one thing I will say is you said, you know, Right to Rise`s job -- and Mike Murphy, the strategist in charge of Right to Rise, his job is not necessarily to take out Trump, his job is to advance the interests of his candidate. In this case, Jeb Bush.

I think that there`s some truth to that. B ut there`s also a line -- there`s an argument to be made that if from the very beginning Right to Rise had been running what they call contrast ads, essentially attack ads, against Donald Trump, if from the very beginning Jeb Bush had been contrasting himself, taking on Donald Trump, you could see at this point the race being a two-way race. You could see it being Jeb versus Trump already, right? Because you would see it as he`s the establishment standard bearer and Trump is the other guy.

Instead you have the establishment standard bearer, the guy who thinks he`s supposed to be, you know, taking on every other establishment candidate including his former protege, including people who the donors who gave money to his super PAC really like as a second choice.

HAYES: McKay, this is...

COPPINS: So, this is kind of the argument.

HAYES: But it`s business, you know what i mean? Like, who -- like, you don`t -- his former protege. We`re in a campaign here. There`s no...


HAYES: All is fair...

COPPINS: That`s fair. All`s fair in love and campaign attack ads.

I mean, that`s fair. What I will say, though, is I have a piece coming out tomorrow about Mike Murphy. And he`s a veteran Republican strategist, this guy running Right to Rise. And he has been talking for years about big tent Republicanism and making a more inclusive party and the consulting class needs to be willing to take on the far right and the crazies in their party.

And I mean, look, zoom out a little bit. If Jeb Bush ends up winning the nomination, this guy`s going to look like a genius and he`s going to be a hero to the Republican Party, but, like, if he doesn`t, and especially if Donald Trump ends up winning, there`s going be a lot of people who are like where were these grand ideals when running a $100 million war chest.

HAYES: And Sabrina, McKay makes this point about if they run contrast ads earlier -- it was striking to me that those Ted Cruz ads that are up in Iowa right now -- when I saw, you know, Trump saying I`m very pro-choice, I`m very pro-choice five times in a row. When I saw that ad, I was like that`s a strong ad in a Republican primary or a caucus.

But then at the same time it doesn`t seem to actually be working in Iowa. So who the heck knows?

SIDDIQUI: Well, yes.

I think that Ted Cruz is seen as a better messenger when it comes to highlighting Trump`s inconsistency because Ted Cruz has the credibility among grassroots conservatives that Jeb Bush didn`t have when he tried to make that same argument last summer.

You know, Jeb Bush represented at least in this time, represents everything that frustrates the base, you know, the kind of cherry picked establishment standard bearer for the party.

So, it`s hard for Jeb Bush to say Donald Trump is not a consistent conservative. It comes out entirely different when it`s Ted Cruz who says that.

So, I do want to say one more thing, though, I think that -- you know, again, no one is saying Right to Rise has to keep its money away from attacking other candidates. I just -- I think one of the other issues is that Jeb Bush specifically said he was going to run this joyful campaign.

HAYES: Yeah.

SIDDIQUI: So now that, you know, at least his super PAC is being increasingly negative, it`s certainly raised eyebrows.

But again, I think that you see that`s the one way they feel they can salvage Jeb Bush.

HAYES: Sabrina Siddiqui, McKay Coppins, thank you very much.

That is All In for this evening.