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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 2/23/2016

Guests: Rick Wilson, Philip Rucker. Cliff Sloan; Rosie Gray, Javier Palomarez

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: February 23, 2016 Guest: Rick Wilson, Philip Rucker. Cliff Sloan; Rosie Gray, Javier Palomarez


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

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re going to build a wall and who`s going to pay for that wall in.

HAYES: Culture wars heat up in Nevada as we get preliminary reports of massive turnout for Republicans.

TRUMP: Dishonesty can knock out a poll very quickly. That`s the only way we lose.

HAYES: Tonight, Donald Trump goes for three in a row. We`ll go live to the caucuses.

Then, Republicans sign their names on the plot to stop Obama`s Supreme Court pick. The unprecedented letter signed by Republican senators, and why this move has presidential politics written all over it.

And the president`s pitch to close Gitmo.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t want to pass this problem on to the next president.

HAYES: Setting up another 2016 fight.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don`t shut down Gitmo, expand it and let`s have some new terrorists there.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from Las Vegas. I`m Chris Hayes.

At this very hour, doors are opening at caucus sites across the state of Nevada for the fourth contest in the GOP primary battle. We`ll be bringing you live coverage of the caucuses throughout the evening and in this hour.

Donald Trump has now had two victories back to back. He is, it appears, a clear favorite tonight. Recent poll showing him up to a 26-point lead over his next challenger.

Now, polling the Republican caucus in Nevada is notoriously difficult. A CNN poll just one week before the 2008 Nevada caucus gave Rudy Giuliani the lead. The Real Clear Politics Average of Nevada in 2008 gave Romney the lead. The actual results, Romney won with 51 percent, twice as much support as predicted by the polling average, and Giuliani, predicted to win in that CNN poll picked up just 4.3 percent.

As for Trump`s challengers, Marco Rubio left Nevada, holding rallies today in Minnesota and Michigan, trying to lay the ground work for Super Tuesday and beyond. And perhaps that is an indication of how he views his chances tonight in this state. There are some predicting a possible surprise. Obama (INAUDIBLE) Dan Pfeiffer tweets, "It`s very possible Rubio wins Nevada. Trump has no political organization in a low turnout contest and a state without a long caucus tradition."

NBC political analyst and Nevada veteran reporter Jon Ralston has cited signs of a high turnout.


JON RALSTON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Could there be an upset? Yes. But I think it`s much more likely to be an upset if the turnout is really low than if the turnout is higher. The higher the turnout gets, I think the worst for Cruz and Rubio.


HAYES: Last night, Donald Trump held a big election eve rally here in Las Vegas. There were multiple protesters escorted out as usual for a Trump rally. Here is how Trump reacted to one of them.


TRUMP: Bye, bye. Good job, fella. Bye, bye.

See, he`s smiling. See, he`s having a good time.

I love the old days, you know? You know what I hate, there`s a guy totally disruptive, throwing punches. We`re not allowed to punch back anymore.

I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in place like this, they`d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.

The guards are very gentle with him. He`s walking out with big high fives, smiling, laughing. I`d like to punch him in the face, I`ll tell you.



HAYES: The camera redirected to that protesters and captured a portion of his exit.


TRUMP: Into China. No matter what he does, he can. They send their product of -- bye bye. Good job, fella.


HAYES: As you can plainly see, there`s no evidence the protester was throwing punches as claimed by Trump.

Joining me now, NBC News correspondent Katy Tur.

Katy, you`ve been in a lot of these rallies and I think it`s people who are not Trump supporters find most unnerving about the Trump dynamic with the crowd, particularly the sort of call and response, and particularly what happens with protesters.

KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: He really riles up the crowds and it can feel different watching it from a monitor or watching it on television than it feels in the room sometimes. There is an entertaining atmosphere, a jokey atmosphere. A lot of times, if you see what he says written in print, it seems a lot harsher than it played in that room.

But certainly, the call to violence, the talking about violence at a lot of his events lately, or over the past few months, is a lot more concerning than some of the name-calling or the joking. I mean, I believe this is the first time in modern presidential politics that we`ve had a candidate talk about wanting to throw a punch at a protester, somebody who disagreed with him. A candidate who said he could murder somebody and his supporters would still be supporting him. That was clearly in some amount of jest, but at the same time, it`s unnerving what the suggestion is behind that.

He joked about killing journalists. He talked about shooting somebody on Fifth Avenue. There`s a lot of violent rhetoric in his rallies.

HAYES: There`s also a moment that happens in almost every rally as far as I can tell that I watched, and the one that I was at where he has everyone turn and essentially jeer the press. And sort of gets that, it`s a very kind of element we`ve seen it throughout history in different context, getting the crowd to do their three-minute hate at you.

TUR: The press is the ultimate GOP scapegoat, even on the Democratic side as well.


TUR: If something is not going your way, calling out the press and blaming them for it, it`s easy to turn it around and making it so that you`re not getting the full brunt of your failure. And so, what he does -- and not to say that he`s failing in what he`s doing -- but what he does is he uses the press to his advantage. He knows what can get him on television.

He also knows that these crowds, that these Republican-leaning crowds, these conservative crowds, do not like the media. They don`t -- I mean, he`s turning them on FOX News as well. So, they`ll turn everybody around, they will jeer at the press, they will swear at you and now, you know, raise the bird and other things.

HAYES: All right. Katy Tur, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

Joining me now from caucus side of the Palo Verde High School here in Las Vegas and MSNBC, is MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff.

And, Jacob, give me a quick run down of the process. It`s not like the very complicated Democratic process you and I were covering on Saturday. It`s a bit more straightforward, at least in the beginning, is that right?


I`ll walk you inside to show you that, Chris. We`re talking about how turn out has been historically low for the last two cycles for the Republican caucus process here. But as you can see from this long line, it`s anything but. And it looks like it`s anything but right now.

This is the largest caucus location in Clark County, which is where the Las Vegas area is in Nevada. All these people are coming in right now, and instead of dividing into preference groups, like they did at the Democratic caucus -- come with me -- they`re going to divide into their precincts, and that`s what those all different tables are, and go at actually fill out ballot, just like a regular election.

The big challenge here tonight is going to be in the counting of those votes and having them reported and tabulated in time. These people are already into the process as well.

What`s going to happen is they need to actually take a photograph of a tally card and then send that back to a central party location. That`s where they`re going to finally be counted. Four years ago, it took two or three days to actually count those results. We`re hoping that`s going to get done tonight.

HAYES: All right. Jacob Soboroff, live at a caucus site where again, we are getting initial reports at from registering of quite a bit of turnout. We will be checking back with you later on.

Joining me now MSNBC host and political correspondent, Steve Kornacki.

And, Steve, as we head into tonight, the fourth contest, give us a look at the score. By the score, I mean the actual score, right? Because there`s all this expectation setting. There`s all this talk about momentum. There`s all this talk about cash on hand.

Ultimately, it`s going to come down to delegates. There`s an actual score that we know right now of what those delegates are.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST AND POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, I think we can put this up. Right now, Donald Trump has jumped out to a big lead. She`s got 67 delegates on the Republican side. Next closest is Ted Cruz with 11.

The reason that`s so lopsided, South Carolina just voted, 50 delegates up for grabs in South Carolina. He won every congressional district. Therefore, Donald Trump won every delegate in South Carolina. So, he`s got a big lead now.

But we`re getting to the point in this race where the momentum you talk about starts to match up with the delegates because next week, we have Super Tuesday. You`re going to have basically a dozen states voting next week on the Republican side. You`ve got a boatload of delegates at stake.

If you take a lot of momentum in those states, you can walk out with a massive lead in the delegate race.

HAYES: We`re going to have about, you know, you got 600 delegates up for grabs on March 1st. I mean, keep in mind, the magic number, if I`m not mistaken, is 1,237. Is that right?


HAYES: So, they got to get to 1,237. You know, everyone is a long way from that. He`s in the lead with 60 plus. But even a 50-delegate lead is actually a pretty big lead when you`re talking about most of the states doing representation, right? Winning a 50-0 win in one state when you`re going to be competing in state after state even if you`re winning or losing, that already gives you a significant lead.

KORNACKI: Well, here`s the thing for Trump, and the reason why it`s especially true for Trump is next week on Super Tuesday, we`re not at the winner take all phase of this yet. They do it by congressional district. So, if you`re scoring in congressional districts, even if you`re not winning you could be picking up delegates across each state.

Trump`s support is broad, we`re seeing. He`s winning moderates. He`s winning rural evangelical Christians. We haven`t seen candidates who can win both of those groups simultaneously.

So, that means Trump is going to be very competitive in Massachusetts next week, of Vermont next week. He`s also going to be very competitive in an Alabama or a Georgia. So, it`s not like he`s going to get a bunch of delegates from one state and get shut out in other big states. He`s going to be collecting delegates across the board.

HAYES: And in a state like tonight, in Nevada, where right now, he`s looking at going in what appears to be a large polling lead, big blowouts can transfer into this sort of sizable legs up in delegates even when the raw number of delegates at stake in this state aren`t that many.

KORNACKI: Right. South Carolina is just the ultimate example. Some of those districts were very close. He was beating Cruz and Rubio by a point, two points. He wins all from that district. And again, nobody thought. That was a lesson Saturday night because the Rubio and Cruz were saying we were going to get delegates and they both got zero.

HAYES: All right. I want to bring to the conversation, "BuzzFeed Politics" reporter, Rosie Gray, who`s been on the trail covering the candidates.

There`s all this like crazy fecklessness It`s like the old cartoon in Tammany Hall where like who stole the people`s money. It`s like who`s job is it to bring out Trump and it`s like not us. Not us. That appears to be still the case as the guy is poised on his third victory out of four, possibly, you know, winning 10 states on Super Tuesday.

ROSIE GRAY, BUZZFEED POLITICS: Right. I mean, I think the whole time with Trump there`s been this denial among other factions of the party, oh, this can`t be happening. Oh, somebody will stop him.

But nobody has stopped him and nobody is really making moves towards doing so. So, nobody is really changing his momentum.

HAYES: And no one still, as far as I can tell, is really up in the air in a big way with negative ad buys against Trump. The only place where we saw concerted air ad buys against Trump, as far as I can tell, was in those last days of Iowa, which were pretty effective.

GRAY: You`re right. That`s something not happened on a large scale. I mean, I think it`s possible we can say. I mean, look, like Right to Rise still has that money in the bank, like may be they should do something with it. Maybe they could.

There`s all kinds of things that could happen to those big donors who have not gotten involved yet. So, we could see something happen, but at this point, it`s possible that they`re kind of holding their fire for March 1st.

HAYES: The Trump skeptics make this selling argument all the time, right? So, their argument about Trump is high floor, low ceiling. You`re nodding your head --


KORNACKI: I hate this argument, but yes, I hear it.

HAYES: So, that`s the argument they make. It`s a third of the party are against him and two-thirds are against him, and that`s the path to victory that Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz can carve out thinking get it down to just the two of them. John Kasich doesn`t appear to be going anywhere. Ben Carson doesn`t appear to be going anywhere. Do you buy that?

KORNACKI: Here`s why I don`t -- it`s in our own polling, our NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" polling. We`ve been asking the question since the start --

HAYES: Who`s your number two?

KORNACKI: No, we`ve been asking, could you -- not "do you" -- could you support this candidate as the Republican presidential candidate? Donald Trump when he first got in the race, that number was 23 percent. I bought the argument when he first got in the race that most of the party was against him. After a year of being exposed to Donald Trump, that number is well into the 60s now.

So, that tells me he starts putting a few wins on the board, he`s going to have no problem moving that support up substantially.

HAYES: I don`t do this often like look into the camera but let me put it on the record. But let me tell something to put on the record. All these people in "The National Review", all these people who are like, oh, I will never concede conservatism to Donald Trump, if he`s the nominee, we will be singing his praises on October. I guarantee you. Please preserve this tape because that is absolutely going to happen.

Don`t you think so?

GRAY: I don`t know if I agree with that. I mean, I just think that at this point, it will be such a tough wall to climb down for a lot of these people who have come out and said, no, absolutely, I would never vote for him. I would sit it out, et cetera.

HAYES: The partisan motivated reasoning is one of the most powerful psychological factors in human life.

GRAY: Right, if you think that if this scenario does come to pass, he is the nominee. I do think you`ll see some people doing that. I just think that, you know, if you`re actually a principled conservative, how could you possibly actually support Donald Trump as the nominee? It`s just too much of a stretch I think.

HAYES: There`s a graph today that sort of showed how high his negatives are. These are the argument people make. And it`s an argument they make, I think it`s a little divided, about how far he can go in the primary and how far if he could if he`s ultimately the nominee.

I mean, when you see him shouting at protesters, the build the wall thing, it`s like, that`s playing well in the room and that`s playing well among a certain portion of the Republican base. But, you know, he`s got high negatives for a reason once you get into the general population.

KORNACKI: Except -- yes. But here`s the thing I would look at with Trump. We all said when he got in, he has no chance of ever winning the Republican nomination. He understood clearly now, better than any of us understood, what it took to win the Republican nomination and he went out or -- he`s on track right now at least to do that. He went out and he did it.

We`ve also seen if that means completely disavowing things he said a year ago, five years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, he`s willing to do it. So, I`m not sure Donald Trump, if he wins the Republican nomination, doesn`t turnaround and understand how to pivot to the general election.

HAYES: That`s possible. But there`s another way to understand it, right? Which is that, it was just, the idiosyncrasies of a certain kind of person, with a certain kind of personality, meeting a certain moment, like, he`s the virus and we`re all the host, right? So, we were all just sitting around as host and the virus entered into this little microbial world where it was perfect for it to flourish, right?

The question is, does that continue after the primary or do the primaries create a certain set of circumstances he can`t transcend?

GRAY: I mean, I think like he will have to sort of shift on a few things in the general election.

HAYES: Of course, he`ll shift because he doesn`t care.

GRAY: And there`s never been a consequence for him when he does walk back a position or shift a position. So, I think he`ll be pretty seamlessly able to move to the center or otherwise sort of climb down from positions that he`s held previously.

HAYES: One of the big lessons so far is just the comparative advantage conferred on people who have no shame, in certain kinds of theoretical situation which is what this primary has been so far.

Steve Kornacki, Rosie Gray, thank you both.

GRAY: Thanks.

HAYES: All right. Still to come, we`ll have continuing coverage of Nevada caucus happening now.

Plus, the GOP`s mass deportation strategy. What the steady marks the right on the immigration means to the Republican Party.

And President Obama`s final year is marked with big battles in Congress. Why Mitch McConnell`s obstruction may have a lot to do with Marco Rubio.

Those stories and more, ahead.


HAYES: At his rally in Sparks, Nevada, today, Donald Trump suggested his supporters will remain loyal no matter what.


TRUMP: Even the really dishonest press says Trump`s people are the most incredible. I mean, I had already -- 68 percent would not leave under any circumstances. I think that means murder. I think it means anything, OK?


HAYES: Trump appears to have been references a poll from December that found that 68 percent of his supporters would support for him even if he bolts the GOP. And today was not the first time Trump boasted he could kill someone and remain at the top of the polls.


TRUMP: They say I have the most loyal people. I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn`t lose any voters, OK? It`s like incredible.


HAYES: Trump`s not wrong about his supporters. A recent academic survey of voters in South Carolina shows what the biggest single predictor of people voting for him were called authoritarian inclinations. And Trump`s strong man routine was on full display last night. What it might just kill his party`s chances to win in November and for a long time to come, when we come back.



TRUMP: We`re going to build that wall. Don`t worry about it. We`re going to build that wall. We`re going to build the wall and who`s going to pay for that wall? Who?

CROWD: Mexico.


HAYES: In his rally here in Las Vegas last night, Donald Trump was introduced by notorious Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who in 2013 was found guilty of racial profiling of Latinos.

Then, when Trump took the stage, the enthusiastic crowd burst into a spontaneous chant of "build that wall", illustrating the degree to which Trump`s maximalist stance on immigration is a core component of his appeal.

Trump has said he would institute a deportation force to go door to door and round up the roughly 12 million people living in the U.S. without documentation, a stance that even Ted Cruz has cast as too extreme.


CRUZ: No, I don`t intend to send jackboots to knock on your door and every door in America. That`s not how we enforce the law for any crime.


HAYES: That was in January. But, last night, Cruz suggested he would deploy those jackboots.


BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: Mr. Trump would look for them to get them out. Would you do that if you were president?

CRUZ: Look, Bill, of course you would. That`s what ICE exists for. We have law enforcement that looks for people who are violating the laws that apprehends them and deports them.

O`REILLY: And you, President Cruz, are going to send the feds to his house, take him out and put him on a plane back to Ireland?

CRUZ: You better believe it.


HAYES: Here in Nevada, the state Republican Party knows that how politically toxic that kind of proposal is. The state leads the nation with the highest rate of people living in the country illegally, according to Pew Hispanic Center. And it`s population overall is 28 percent Latino.

So, it is perhaps not surprising the state`s very popular governor, Brian Sandoval, supports comprehensive immigration reform. In 2013, the Nevada Republican Party endorsed a path to citizenship for immigrants living here without authorization.

Yet even as Republicans here in Nevada moderate their immigration rhetoric in an effort to make inroads among Latino voters, they are watching the lending contenders, the GOP presidential nomination pull their party in the opposite direction, riling the base by endorsing what would amount to essentially the largest, most expensive, and surely brutal forced migration in recent American history.

Joining me now, Javier Palomarez. He`s president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Palomarez, your thoughts as you watch that chanting happening in that rally, "Build the wall, build the wall, who`s going to pay for it? Mexico."

JAVIER PALOMAREZ, U.S. HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: You know, Chris, I think it plays well inside that room. But the remainder of America understands very clearly that there is no feasible way to mask, remove and deport some 12 million people living in this country right now. That simply isn`t feasible.

And I think it`s irresponsible of Donald Trump to get that down the line. The bill to the average American would be astronomical. It simply wouldn`t make sense. It`s just not doable.

HAYES: So, then, if it`s not doable, then why do you see Ted Cruz, a United States senator, who said in January that that was not the way we enforce the law for anyone to send jackboots, apparently now having a road to Damascus moment and now embracing that position?

PALOMAREZ: You know, I think we`re going to see in this particular season is historic highs and lows. We`re going to see historic highs in terms of Hispanic voter turnout and we`re going to see historic lows in terms of campaign tactics and people saying and doing whatever it takes to get to the proverbial next level.

But the reality of it is, I think any reasonable individual would understand, and I think the bulk of the Republican Party understands that that simply will not happen.

HAYES: Marco Rubio said he wouldn`t send out a deportation force although Rubio has been, I have to say, rather difficult to pin down in any direction on immigration policy. He obviously co-sponsored the gang of eight bill. He fought for it. He talked about it, he then abandoned it. It`s unclear what he would do if he was president.

Do you feel like you know what Marco Rubio`s immigration policy actually is?

PALOMAREZ: You know, I think that Marco has yet room to clarify his position. Obviously, we all know his role in the "gang of eight" bill. It made sense at the time. I think Marco has evolved.

You know we`ve got a situation where he would have to work with the Congress that is not interested in moving that bill. So, what you`re seeing, I think, in Marco is an evolving, maturing candidate. I`m very intrigued and encouraged by the fact that in Marco, you`re seeing hope yet for the Republican Party. Just last week, he was endorsed by Governor Nikki Haley. You saw a wide array of individuals now signing up in support of Marco in the absence of Jeb Bush.

He`s becoming the candidate for the Republican Party that will do battle against Donald Trump, a divisive approach versus one that`s much more much inclusive, and I think can illustrate there`s hope yet for American`s Republican Party to illustrate a closer view, a more accurate view of the changing face of America.

HAYES: I`m not quite sold on the inclusiveness because I don`t know what the policy is, but you seem confident, I suppose it couldn`t be worst than people chanting to build a wall.

Javier Palomarez, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.

PALOMAREZ: Yes, absolutely. Thanks so much, Chris. Have a great night.

HAYES: Still ahead, President Obama with a new push to close the American prison in Guantanamo Bay as the Republican campaign to restart and expand the torture of the recent past.



OBAMA: For many years it`s been clear that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security, it undermines it.


HAYES: President Barack Obama inviting another election year showdown with Republicans by trying to make good on a campaign that has long been stymied.

Today, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, defense secretary Ash Carter, the president presented a plan to congress to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The prison was first opened in January, 2002 by the Bush administration to house detainees, some never charged with a crime, many who had literally nothing to do with terrorism but were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For years, interrogators used interrogation techniques, including torture to force those detainees to talk.

By 2008, the presidential nominees in both parties were in agreement on closing the facility. After her left office, George W. Bush wrote in his memoir, "While I believe opening Guantanamo after 9/11 was necessary, the detention facility had become a propaganda tool for our enemies and a distraction for our allies."

In one of his first acts as president, Barack Obama issued an executive order instructing the government to shut down the facility in a year.

But Republicans in congress balked at the appropriating funds, and Democrats caved.

Seven years later, Guantanamo is still open. Its so-called legal process in absolute shambles. As The Atlantic points out, current law prohibits the use of government funds to transfer prisoners to American soil and the construction of facilities to house them.

And the Republican controlled congress has shown no interest in relenting on that matter.

It`s an issue not lost on the president.


OBAMA: I am very clear-eyed about the hurdles to finally closing Guantanamo. The politics of this are tough. I don`t want to pass this problem on to the next president, whoever it is. And, if, as a nation we don`t deal with this now, when will we deal with it?


HAYES: If the Republicans on the campaign trail have their way, not any time soon.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: Not only are we not going to close Guantanamo, when I`m president, if we capture a terrorist alive, they`re not getting a court hearing in Manhattan. They`re going to sent to Nevada, they`re going to Guantanamo and we`re going to find out everything they know.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: You know, just today President Obama announced his plans to try to try to shut down Guantanamo terrorist detention facilities. Let me set this, Mr. President, don`t shut down GITMO, expand it, and let`s have some new terrorists there.

DONALD TRUMP, 2016 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This morning I watched President Obama talking about GITMO, right, Guantanamo Bay, which by the way we are keeping open. We are keeping open.

And we`re going to load it up with some bad dudes, believe me. We`re going to load it up.


HAYES: Republican front-runner not only wants to keep Guantanamo open, for months he`s campaigned on what amounts to a pro-torture, pro-war crimes platform.


TRUMP: When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don`t kid yourself. But they say they don`t, you have the take out their family.

In the Middle East, we have people chopping the heads off Christians. We have people chopping the heads off many other people. I would bring back water boarding and I`d bring back a hell of a lot worse than water boarding.

Earlier in the century, last century, General Pershing, did you ever hear, rough guy, rough guy, he took 50 bullets and he dipped them in pigs blood and had his men load his rifles and he lined up the 50 people and they shot 49 of those people and the 50th person he said you go back to your people and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn`t a problem. Okay.


HAYES: We should note that last story from Trump of General John Pershing executing dozens of Muslim prisoners in the Philippines and allegedly dipping bullets in pig`s blood has been roundly debunked as a myth.

Next, for the last seven years, one of the toughest jobs in Washington has been the person in charge of closing Guantanamo. And I`m going to talk to someone who had that job.



OBAMA: Keeping this facility open is contrary to our values. It undermines our standing in the world. It is viewed as a stain on the our broader record of upholding the highest standards of rule of law.


HAYES: President Obama making one last appeal to congress to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba earlier today.

Joining me now, Cliff Sloan, the former special envoy for Guantanamo closer at the U.S. State Department.

Cliff, I saw you when you had that job. And I joked that it was like the drummer in Spinal Tap. It was like the worst job in Washington was the dude who was supposed to close Guantanamo.

Why is it so hard?

CLIFF SLOAN, FRM. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR GUANTANAMO CLOSURE: Well, it`s hard for a number of reasons. First, you`ve had congress pass completely irrational and unnecessary restriction that have tended to tie the president`s hands and you also have had the fact that the issue erupted politically. There are tremendous misunderstandings about it. And the issue got seriously off course.

But that doesn`t change the fact it`s extremely important to close Guantanamo. It poses real national security problems as the president was just saying.

HAYES: There are -- just to be clear about the population there. There`s a whole bunch of people, I think about 35 people there who are sitting there who, we, the United States government, have no claim they have done anything wrong. They have been cleared for transfer. They are just sitting there. They`ve been sitting there sometimes 12, 13 years in what is an endless hell, frankly, for a person who has just been picked up off the street by a bounty hunter.

There`s a bunch of people who are going through a legal process and then there`s the people in this sort of legal limbo. Why is it so hard to get the 35 out of there?

SLOAN: Well, Chris, you put your finger on something very important with those 35. Many of them have been approved for transfer for more than six years. They`ve been at Guantanamo for 14 years. It is absolutely urgent that they be transferred as soon as possible.

Now, it`s not quite right that the U.S. government has said they did nothing wrong, but the U.S. government has emphatically said that it`s in the national interest to transfer them, and that they should be transferred to other countries.

Now, a big problem is that a very significant number of these are from countries like Yemen. There`s a big majority from Yemen where the security conditions don`t allow returning them to Yemen. And so you have to find other countries. That can be done, but that has been a serious problem.

But it is absolutely the case that we need to move forward with urgency on them.

HAYES: Just to be clear. I mean, you hear Marco Rubio talking about we`re not going to be trying terrorists in Manhattan courts. I mean, obviously we have done that as a matter of course, Tsarnaev was tried in a federal court in Boston. No big deal. He goes to a Boston detention facility.

Are we now looking at indefinite detention whether in Guantanamo or somewhere else as a permanent feature of American law?

SLOAN: No, I don`t think so. You have got 91 people left at Guantanamo. You`ve got 35 who are approved for transfer who should be transferred as soon as possible. You have got ten that are facing proceedings in the military commissions which have had problems but those are formal proceedings.

Now, these other 46 are going through an administrative process right now which needs to be expedited but 18 of the 21 who have gone through that process have been approved for transfer.

So, the goal here is to get the number down absolutely as low as possible. Those ten maybe a small number of additional ones.

But one thing that is very important in the president`s policy is that even those who are not approved for transfer now are getting reviewed every six months and as I said, many of those are now getting approved for transfer.

HAYES: All right, Cliff Sloan, great thanks for your time tonight. Appreciate it.

SLOAN: Thank you.

HAYES: Still to come, Republican caucus goers are currently casting their votes around Nevada. We will take you live inside one of those locations, ahead.


HAYES: We learned today that one of the top guys in the Koch brothers political empire, Marco Short, is leaving the organization to join Marco Rubio`s presidential campaign. Well, he`ll be a senior adviser effectively immediately.

The Kochs have yet to spend any money on the Republican primary. And although there were rumblings as recently as a few weeks ago they were possibly gearing up to do it, it now looks unlikely, according to new reporting published just about an hour ago by Politico.

The network helmed by billionaires Charles and David Koch had said seriously debated launching an aggressive assault on Trump but sources familiar with the network`s planning tell Politico that`s now highly unlikely.

According to Politico, Republican donors don`t think their money can stop Trumpentum, and are worried if they spend it, it might backfire.

So, it actually makes a lot of sense. Marco Short has left Koch`s freedom partners, taking up with Rubio as NBC News reported earlier today.

Signs indicate the Koch`s prefer Marco Rubio and are doing things short of directly spending money to help him.

Up next, the fight for second place and why Marco Rubio isn`t here in Nevada tonight. Stay with us.


HAYES: All right, folks are caucusing right now in Nevada. And for an update on tonight`s Republican contest here in the state where 30 delegates are at stake, let`s go do MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff who is live at a caucus site at Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas.

And Jacob, this caucus is a bit infamous for some crazy logistical snafus that have happened in the past. I`ve been seeing reports on Twitter throughout the evening that it`s kind of chaotic logistically. What are you seeing firsthand?

JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC: Chris, kind of would be an understatement. If you`re in the camp that you thought that the Republican caucus in Nevada was organized, in my humble opinion, you would be very wrong.

Come with me. So, what`s going -- these are essentially ballot booths, right, because people are voting right now. But -- and I don`t want to get too close. And I want to show you exactly people`s preferential ballots. But they`re all voting with each other at the same table. These are precincts. They are ballot boxes, but they`re all sitting around tables together.

This is a precinct. That`s a precinct. I don`t know if you guys have our bird`s eye view camera, but we`re under this giant American flag where people are just in clusters of people moving together. I`m walking through people here. Some people are in line. Some people are voting.

And don`t forget, this is not -- certainly not an official function of the government, the secretary of state and Nevada. This is a function of the state Republican Party of Nevada who is putting this together and doing this entire process.

Have you caucused yet?


SOBOROFF: How do you feel, organized?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel organized. And I feel like we are going to win.

SOBOROFF: Wwho is we?


SOBOROFF: And who are you caucusing for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump all the way.

SOBOROFF: Donald Trump all the way.

There you go.

All right, so Chris, Trump all the way. She feels organized. I don`t feel as organized, but somehow this is going to get done here.

HAYES: Jacob Soboroff, live in that caucus location.

Now, we should note that the Republican parties had some problems controlling their own process in the past, right. So, people are voting and after they vote there`s going to be some kind of like independent delegate meetings that might elect some people.

But the thing that we`re going to count tonight are those ballots?

SOBOROFF: Come with me, I`m going to show you exactly what`s going to happen.

So, all these are going to be collected by the precinct chairs. So, each table has a precinct chair.

Not right now, I`m on the air.

The precinct chair.

Everybody wants to talk.

And they are going to up to here, Chris. And they`re going to take what are called tally cards and they`re going to take photos of these tally cards at this location, send them back to a central location where they are all going to be tabulated by the Republican Party. And then ideally the Republican Party says released tonight.

But again I want to reiterate, four years ago it took somewhere between two and three days to make this all happen.

HAYES: Two or three days. 21st Century democracy in America.

MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff, thank you very much.

All right. When we come back, the presidential politicking behind today`s announcement, unprecedented by the Senate Republicans in the judiciary committee to block and not even hold any hearings, not even consider, not even meet with the Supreme Court nominee from the president of the United States. That`s next.


HAYES: As we`ve been discussing it`s Republican caucus day here in Nevada.

But Senator Marco Rubio spent most of his time today campaigning in Minnesota and Michigan. It appears Rubio`s campaign is looking ahead to states where he might actually be able to pull off a win on Super Tuesday and beyond. And with Jeb Bush out of the race, Rubio is also trying to solidify the backing of Republican voters who are fed up with Donald Trump`s campaign.

Which is why, according to Politico, the Republican establishment, so- called, has a message for John Kasich, get out of the race and get out of Marco Rubio`s way.

But the Republican so-called establishment came together today to do something that only Ted Cruz, perceived as the most conservative member of the Senate, would have done a few years ago, which is to engage in maximum obstruction.

The Senate Republican judiciary committee members announced today they are unanimously against an Obama nominated Supreme Court replacement to Antonin Scalia. They even released a letter addressed to senate majority leader Mitch McConnell outlying their plan for obstruction.

Quote, given the particular circumstances under which this vacancy arises, we wish to inform you of your intention to exercise our constitutional authority to withhold consent on any nominee to the Supreme Court submitted by this president to fill Justice Scalia`s vacancy.

It`s signed by all 11 Republican members of the judiciary committee and that includes presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz.

Joining me now, Rick Wilson, Republican media consultant who supports Marco Rubio; and Philip Rucker, national political correspondent of The Washington Post.

And Rick, let me start with you. I have a theory on this, and there`s a bunch of reasons that I think the Republicans are doing this. I think they don`t want the ball to get rolling at all because it will be harder when there`s actually a nominee. I think they are trying to anchor the negotiating position. I think they don`t want to confirm an Obama justice. But I also think part of this is about maintaining a relationship with the base that doesn`t trust them, thinks they will be betrayed and think they`ll get sold out that if there`s any inkling of any sellout that could destroy the chances of Marco Rubio actually winning this nomination, because the last thing he could endure would be one more perceived betrayal by the establishment.

RICK WILSON, INTREPID MEDIA: Well, look, you have got a situation here where Senator McConnell and Senator Cornyn came out today laid down a marker that they`re not going to back off from. And although a lot of folks believe there`s a second layer of politics here, the first layer is the actual truth. They don`t want to confirm an Obama nominee. They don`t want to confirm somebody that will be a permanent fifth liberal vote on the Supreme Court that will haunt them for 30-plus years.

There`s a side benefit to it sending a signal that the overton window has moved to the right in the Senate and in situation like this, they understand the stakes in the national election. They understand they have to stay committed to this and I mean, look, Senator McConnell`s messaging today was straight gangster on this thing. The guy was not fooling around. He laid down the marker. He`s not going to budge.

And you know Mitch McConnell, you know, a lot of poeple don`t like Mitch McConnell in the conservative side of the movement, but the fact is the guy is a wiley brilliant operator in the Senate when he wants to be. And he`s going to hold the line on this.

HAYES: You know, Philip, here`s the thing. And I don`t know if he will or won`t, but we should note here that this is -- there`s been a lot of back and forth of accusations of hypocrisy on process, which everyone in Washington is hypocritical on process. This action taken today is unprecedented. We`ve never had the judiciary committee saying we will not consider a nominee.

They also said a number of people interviewed said we won`t even meet with the person. So, at a certain point you`re going to have the optics of this person walking through the halls of congress.


HAYES: I mean, literally with the doors shut of trying to meet with Jon Cornyn or trying to meet Mitch McConnell. It is going to be -- this is not the end of this.

RUCKER: Well, if you`re Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, this is exactly what you want. I mean, it`s just going to help mobilize the Democratic base in general election especially if Obama puts forward some sort of historic nominee whether it`s Loretta Lynch who would be the first African- American woman on the court, or some other diverse pick.

The Democrats in the election can basically say the Republicans are obstructing progress. And I think it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

HAYES: And I think it puts the core on the front burner for both sides I think to the extent that there isn`t a confirmation.

Although, I`m still -- I think possibly there is -- but Rick, here`s my question to you. And I`m glad you said what you said, because I think there`s been a lot of talking around the actual issue. I mean, the issue is conservatives don`t want a fifth liberal justice on the court.

But that would pertain after the election. I mean, my question is, shouldn`t McConnell just say this is in perpetuity? Why is there anymore legitimacy? Why was there any more reason to budge or cave after an election in the fall. It`s still the same problem. If Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders were to win, conservatives sill looking at the same bad outcome

If the outcome is the problem, shouldn`t they hold the line even after the election?

WILSON: Well, look, I believe that the danger of an Obama nominee is particularly high, because he has nothing political to moderate his behavior at any point. He has nothing to lose by trying to put in -- you mentioned Loretta Lynch. I think they would almost welcome that fight, because she`s so obviously and lavishly corrupt in obstructing the investigation of Hillary Clinton at every turn. They would welcome that fight...

HAYES: She won two-thirds of the nomination battle.

WILSON: Yeah, she`s also now spent the last year and a half serving as the roadblock to investigating Hillary Clinton`s private email server that was basically an open door to foreign intelligence services. So, she would have a very rough ride no matter how you play it.

But an Obama nominee, in particular, is something right now that is intolerable to the Republican majority in the senate. And right now is a Republican majority in the Senate. And they`re exercising their constitutional prerogatives.

HAYES: Would that not pertain to a Hillary Clinton nominee? I mean, why - - I just don`t see the limiting principle.

WILSON: If Hillary Clinton is elected...

HAYES: If the point is that controlling that majority is really important from the first order political commitments that you and other conservatives share, then they should just keep that thing as long there is a Democratic president, they should make sure that nominee is not evaluated and is not confirmed.

WILSON: Well, look, I think that because there`s no political break on Barack Obama`s ambitions for who he would put on the court right now, and there is no downside for him to appoint the most liberal possible person, he doesn`t have to look at how he deals with the senate going forward.

If it`s Hillary Clinton, she is going to have to deal with a Republican majority in the House and Senate. And that`s going to be a very difficult equation for her if she tries to put somebody out there that is completely unacceptable.

She might have been -- she might be able to negotiate somebody who is more tempered than the type of people that Barack Obama would inevitably put forward.

But, look, I think you`re going to find there`s going to be a lot of Senate resistance no matter who the president is to anybody that is going to be a lock step, hard core liberal reflexive justice on this court.

HAYES: Yeah. I mean, the point here is we have a one way ratchet, right. And the obstruction that we have seen accelerate whether numerically in the filibuster or whether with this unprecedented action today, there`s no way to think that that is going to be unwound.

RUCKER: I don`t think so. And what`s so exciting is it`s a clarifying moment in the presidential campaign. I mean, the voters are going to make a choice this year and you`re going to go one way on the court or the other way on the court. And the choice could not be clear.

HAYES: Not exciting for 4-4 decisions and possible consequence of that. Rick Wilson, Philip Rucker, thanks for your time tonight.

That is All In for this evening. Stay tuned to MSNBC all night tonight for continuing coverage of those Nevada Republican caucuses happening all around us here in the city of Las Vegas. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.