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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 3/29/2016

Guests: Bradford Cohen, Charlie Pierce, Tony Kushner, Nick Confessore, Molly Ball, Jeff Weaver

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: March 29, 2016 Guest: Bradford Cohen, Charlie Pierce, Tony Kushner, Nick Confessore, Molly Ball, Jeff Weaver


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


HAYES: The campaign manager for the Republican front-runner has been arrested.

TRUMP: Criminal situation over that?

HAYES: New video of the incident is out.

TRUMP: How do you know those bruises weren`t there before?

HAYES: And Donald Trump vows to stand by his man.

TRUMP: If you look at that tape, he was very, very seriously maligned. She was grabbing me. Does that mean I`m supposed to file charges against her?

HAYES: Tonight, the responses from both sides, what this means for the race and a member of Corey Lewandowski`s legal team joins me live.

Plus, the political fire storm that started last night on this show.

SUSAN SARANDON, ACTRESSS: Some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in.

HAYES: Tonight, the Clinton campaign responds to Sanders surrogate Susan Sarandon.

All that, plus a Supreme Court breakthrough on the Hill and why Marco Rubio is making plans for the convention.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I brought my own water.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


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

Tonight, Donald Trump is standing squarely behind his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski who was arrested today and charged with one count of simple battery, a misdemeanor, for an incident caught on security footage earlier this month, which police say shows Lewandowski grabbing the arm of conservative reporter Michelle Fields as she simply tries to ask Donald Trump a question.

Lewandowski today turned himself in to police in Jupiter, Florida, where the allegedly battery occurred and issued a notice to appear in court. His attorney says he is innocent.

Speaking with reporters on his plane a short time ago before a rally in Wisconsin, Trump came to his campaign manager`s defense.


TRUMP: I told him, I said, you should never settle. You should go all the way. I think they really hurt a very good person and I know it would be very easy for me to discard people. I don`t discard people. I stay with people. That`s why I stay with this country.

He`s got a family. He`s got four beautiful children. I think it`s very, very unfair to man with a wonderful family back in New Hampshire who gets, what, a criminal situation over that. I know Piers Morgan and many, many people saw that tape and said, you got to be kidding, you got to be kidding.

I think that you as a reporter and all of you get treated a lot rougher than that on a daily basis. I have never seen anything like it. I can`t imagine how they did it. He`s got a very good lawyer. They will fight it.

REPORTER: She did get bruises on her.

TRUMP: I don`t know if they were bruises from that. Why? Who said there were bruises from that? How do you know they weren`t there before?

REPORTER: That`s what the police said.

TRUMP: I don`t know what the police said. How do you know those bruises weren`t there before? I`m not lawyer. She said she had a bruise on her arm. I mean, to me, if you`re going to get squeezed, wouldn`t you think she would have yelled out a scream or something she has bruises and all?


HAYES: Lewandowski`s alleged battery occurred on March 8th, three weeks ago. Trump won three states that night. How a celebratory speech and press conference at the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida.

After Trump left the stage, he worked the crowd and took questions from reporters on the floor. You can see Lewandowski just behind Trump and a second or two later, Fields appears on Trump`s right hand side to ask him a question, right?

Now, behind Fields is "Washington Post" reporter Ben Terris who would later write an article identifying Lewandowski as the person who grabbed Fields when she got near Trump. As word of the incident spread, the Trump campaign initially didn`t respond request for comment.

But on March 10th, Trump`s press secretary Hope Hicks called the acquisition, quote, "entirely false", said, not a single camera or reporter of more than 100 in attendance captured the alleged incident. Fields tweeted out a picture of bruises on her arm, "I guess these just magically appeared on me, so weird."

Trump then speculated to reporters that Fields simply made up the alleged assault. That same night, NBC News correspondent Katy Tur asked Trump about the incident as Lewandowski, who had derided Fields as a, quote, attention seeker stood nearby.


TRUMP: I`ve spoken to secret service agents. They said nothing happened.

KAY TUR, NBC NEWS: She posted a photo of bruises on her arm.

TRUMP: How did they get, huh? Do you know how they got there?

TUR: I`m just saying what`s being reported and what`s being alleged right now.

TRUMP: You tell me how they got there. I have Secret Service agents all over. I have cameras all over. Nobody saw it happen. Nobody complained.

And I know this guy. He`s a fantastic guy.

TUR: If it comes to light that something did happen, are you going to do something about it? Will there be some sort of punishment?

TRUMP: Supposing it comes to light that nothing happened, are you going to apologize to him for what you`re doing?

TUR: I`m not reporting anything that I saw personally. I`m reporting what Michelle Fields is reporting.

TRUMP: Will you apologize to him if it turns out that nothing happened?

TUR: I won`t apologize but I`ll report that nothing happened, certainly.


HAYES: The following day, before Fields filed a police report, Lewandowski tweeted, quote, "Michelle Fields, you are totally delusional. I never touched you. As a matter of fact I have never met you."

Fields defended herself on FOX News.


MICHELLE FIELDS, REPORTER: I didn`t want to make a big deal of it. This wasn`t going to be a big deal. They`re going to apologize. We would move on.

But I never got that apology. And instead, yesterday, they released a statement calling me a liar. They have basically done a character assassination on me. They are linking to blogs with conspiracies about me.

And they`re not telling the truth. There`s videos. There`s pictures. There`s an eyewitness of a "Washington Post" reporter who is very credible. And no -- they seem to not understand that.


HAYES: Trump, meanwhile, was steadfast in his support of Lewandowski, even calling him on stage and hailing him by name during a March 15th press conference.


TRUMP: Corey, good job. Good job.


HAYES: Today, after Lewandowski was charged, Trump first suggested nothing happened, writing, quote, "Look at tapes. Nothing there. Then accuse Fields of lying," telling people to look at her earlier statements. That`s before she found out the episode was on tape, prompting Fields to respond, "Because my story never changed, seriously just stop lying."

Trump started tweeting screen grabs of Fields standing against to him and perhaps brushing against his hand, writing, "Why is she allowed to grab me and shout questions? Can I press charges?"

At his rally in Wisconsin just a short time ago, Trump took some time to mock Fields to the predictable delight of his audience.


TRUMP: Her statement changed big league because she said go to the ground. You know all this. I could read it to you. Does anybody want to hear it?

"I was jolted backwards. Someone grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. Campaign managers aren`t supposed to forcefully throw reporters to the ground."

Except, she never went to the ground. She never even came -- she never flinched.


HAYES: Joining me now from Jamesville, Wisconsin, where Trump just wrapped up his rally, NBC News correspondent Katy Tur.

Katy, what is the Trump camp`s posture today towards it? Seems like they are doubling down, circling the wagons, et cetera.

TUR: The Trump campaign has a motto essentially of never backing down. They`re doing exactly that today. They are not backing down in the face of criticism, even know police charge against their campaign manager. Donald Trump is, as you said, standing by Corey Lewandowski pretty forcefully.

One thing to note about that, that reading you just, the moment you just showed, with Donald Trump reading Michelle Fields` initial statement. He`s reading it in the same dramatic voice that he reads "The Snake", the lyrics of "The Snake" which he often recites to his crowds as a -- he was reading it in a dramatic voice, let`s put it that way.

Corey Lewandowski, though, has been with the campaign a little over a year. He was with the campaign before Donald Trump announced his candidacy. At the time, he was seen as a lightweight operative who was heading or with a campaign that didn`t have a very good chance of making it to the nomination. Now, he`s on the verge of getting the nomination and Corey Lewandowski is being credited with a lot of that for simply doing what a lot of campaign managers would not do, letting Donald Trump be Donald Trump even in the face of controversy after controversy after controversy.

I think you laid it out really well, though, the campaign said he did not touch Michelle Fields. Then Donald Trump said, if he did touch her, there would be video, and now, today, he`s blaming Michelle Fields saying she started it. So, even though the campaign said there was no video. Even though I asked Donald Trump whether there would be consequences, it does not seem like there will be consequences now that there`s video and a police charge -- Chris.

HAYES: All right. NBC`s Katy Tur, thanks so much for joining me. Appreciate it.

After news of the Lewandowski`s arrest broke today, Trump`s rivals suggested they would have handled the situation very differently.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is not complicated. Physically assaulting a reporter is a fireable offense. And that ought to be the case in any campaign that is maintaining a standard of integrity.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We probably would suspend somebody. You know, it would depend what it is and what the evidence was. But when we see things that we think are inappropriate, we take action.


HAYES: Joining me now, Bradford Cohen, a Trump supporter and an attorney for Corey Lewandowski.

Mr. Cohen, this tweet, "You are totally delusional, Ms. Fields. I never touched you. As a matter of fact, I never even met you." You have to concede that that is not true.

BRADFORD COHEN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, what I concede is, when I looked at the video, is that, it occurred over half a second. If you`re at a baseball game and you brush against someone and someone the next day says, "I was thrown to the ground" or "I was almost thrown to the ground", you`re going to say that person is delusional because certainly, it is delusional.


HAYES: Just to be clear, "I never -- I never touched you" is not true, right? We`re looking at the tape right now of him touching her.

COHEN: It certainly looks like he brushes by her and like I said before, he doesn`t even know who she is at the time.

HAYES: Do you realize that denying these basic things make you guys seem crazy. It makes you guys delusional if you won`t just concede the thing that we`re all looking at.

COHEN: No, it doesn`t actually.

HAYES: We`re all looking at this video.

COHEN: No. Yes, let me explain something to you. If he knew who she was, it would be a different situation. He had no idea who she is. He brushes up against someone and he keeps walking.

HAYES: Do you --

COHEN: The next day someone says she was thrown to the ground, which is a complete not true statement.

HAYES: She doesn`t say that. She said almost, she said almost --

COHEN: She says that she stumbled, she was pulled forward.


HAYES: Almost thrown to the ground.

COHEN: Right.

HAYES: Do you guys think that she`s making up the bruises?

COHEN: I have no idea where the bruises came from. We have no idea where those bruises came from. It certainly doesn`t appear that those bruises came from something that occurred on that video. If everybody looks at that video, it is extremely at the best inconclusive.

HAYES: Mr. Cohen --

COHEN: That video shows him brushing by her.

HAYES: Mr. Cohen, it does not show him brushing by her. It shows him grabbing her.

But second of all, do you understand how it sounds? When you say that a woman who shows bruises after being grabbed by a man who is the campaign manager from Donald Trump, quote, "We don`t know where those bruises came from", do you understand how that registers to people`s ears?

COHEN: It registers the same way any other case would register. We don`t know where the bruises came from.

If someone was to grab you that hard, wouldn`t you say something? She was miked up.

HAYES: Do you think --


COHEN: She was miked up. She doesn`t say oww. She doesn`t say, hey, stop.

HAYES: You think "The Washington Post" reporter who felt moved to write this up in "The Washington Post", is he also fabricating this?

COHEN: I`m not saying anyone is fabricating it. I`m saying what we`re seeing on that video is inconclusive. What I`m saying on that video is it does not look like what she described. She described someone pulling her to the point where she`s almost falling down.

May I just continue for a minute?

There were police officers on the scene that she did not go and discuss this with.


COHEN: She did not report it.

HAYES: Of course.

COHEN: She talked to no one.

HAYES: Mr. Cohen, that is true. And she is on the record saying all she thought would happen was that there would be an apology saying, hey, look, I`m sorry I grabbed you harder than I meant to, but instead what the campaign does --

COHEN: Why won`t (ph) she say that?

HAYES: Instead, what the campaign does is malign her integrity, say she`s delusional, call her a liar, say that there are tapes of the room and none of the tapes caught it despite the fact there are tapes that caught it, that we`re now showing on our air. So, yes, people said, unless you file a police report, no one will take this seriously.

She then filed a police report. It then produced the videotape we`re all watching which shows what she said happened, actually happened.

COHEN: It didn`t produce that videotape. Do you think that`s a police officer videotape?

HAYES: No, it came from --

COHEN: Where do you think that video came from?

HAYES: It came from the property owned by Donald Trump.

COHEN: Right, we turned that videotape over.

HAYES: That`s excellent.

COHEN: We turned that videotape over to prove that she was not telling the truth. That didn`t happen because she filed the police report. That happened because Mr. Trump is showing transparency and wants that videotape out in the public to show exactly what happened.

This is a ridiculous case.

HAYES: Mr. Cohen --

COHEN: This is case where someone was brushed by and in any other situation and anyone else this would never have happened.

HAYES: Mr. Cohen, "I never touched you." I just want to come back to this.

COHEN: Sure.

HAYES: Corey Lewandowski said, "I never touched you". That is not true. Just concede the obvious thing which is that him saying "I never touched you" is not true. That`s fact about the world.

COHEN: You don`t understand what I`m saying. I am conceding that it`s not true that he brushed by her or that he touched her.

HAYES: That he touched here. Thank you.

COHEN: Yes, let me finish my sentence. My sentence is that if I brush by someone at a heat game, if I brush somebody at a different game --

HAYES: That I understand.

COHEN: -- I would have never thought about it. He doesn`t know who this individual is.

HAYES: That`s right.

COHEN: So, when she comes out and says this happened and this happened, he says you`re delusional. It never happened. He doesn`t remember anything like that.

HAYES: I want to read the Florida statute for battery. Offense of battery occurs when a person --


COHEN: You don`t need to. I know it by heart.

HAYES: -- actually intentionally touches or touches or strikes a person against the will of the other. Intentionally touches another person against the will of the other -- there seems to be a facial, there certainly enough case that the police department thought there was enough cause for an arrest.

COHEN: Yes. We saw how often the police are correct. So, the point is, is this, number it`s a very low threshold --


HAYES: Oh, you think the police are often not correct?

COHEN: It`s a very low threshold. If I brush up against someone intentionally in the elevator, could they charge me with a battery? Sure, they could try and charge with the battery.


COHEN: Whether or not that case sticks is a whole another case. The fact is, is that this was not something that what she described. What she described was that she said she was assaulted, essentially almost pulled back down to the ground. That`s nowhere on that videotape.

Why does anyone -- why does no one --


HAYES: Between what she described and "I never touched you" is closer to what she described. I think a lot of people watching this videotape --

COHEN: It`s closer to that she described that she was pulled to the ground, that she almost pulled to ground?

HAYES: Almost to the ground, she said.

Bradford Cohen, thank you for joining me. Appreciate it.

COHEN: Thanks for having me.

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

This is amazing. They are trying to gaslight the entire nation. They are attempting a Jedi mind trick, a bad, a poor Jedi mind trick. We see what`s going on. They`ve done this on a million things.

You know, Donald Trump goes and talks to "The New York Times" editorial board. He says, I was to tariff on Chinese goods, and he says I never said that and the tape is released of him saying it. There`s only so long I have to think that they could do this.

CHARLIE PIERCE, ESQUIRE: Chris, this isn`t the campaign you`re looking for.

HAYES: That`s exactly right.

PIERCE: First of all, Chris, if I ever get arrested and charged with capital murder, and you`re my only phone call and I tell you to get me lawyer, don`t get me him.

Yes, this is an astonishing. I mean, it`s not an astonishing turn of events. It`s indicative that police are starting to get a little fed up with having to deal with a lunatic campaign.

HAYES: That is a (INAUDIBLE) point.

PIERCE: They`re the ones way out on the edge of this and expected to keep order in campaign that`s found itself to be in the campaign`s interest to have disorder at its rallies.

HAYES: There`s a degree to which, again, what Mr. Cohen was saying. I mean, Michelle Fields is pretty clear. I thought they would just say, I mean, you could imagine it`s being dealt with, hey, look, it was a scrum, I wanted to get him out of there. I grabbed you too hard. I`m sorry about that.

You can imagine that being said. And it seems clear she wouldn`t file a police report. It`s this almost sort of Stalinist insistence on sort of creating reality in the face of contrary evidence that I think ultimately provoked her to say I am not crazy person. You did grab me.

PIERCE: Well, another way that 30 years of conservative politics has produced Donald Trump, the creation of your own reality, the creation of your own science, the creation of your own law. The creation of as allegedly Karl Rove said to Ron Suskind. We are an empire. We create our own reality.

And here in the reality-based community, you see somebody`s arm get grabbed. I`ve covered enough football. I know what that looks like.

HAYES: Do you think -- my sense, again, everyone has been so wrong for so long. This is peak Trump, that`s peak Trump, this will be his undoing. I think this idea it`s the housing bubble and there will be a crash ala the great recession where everybody bottoms out has been disproven is never going to happen. There`s a certain percentage of the population that likes what he has to say, like his moxie or whatever it is. You saw it on the rally today.

But it does seem to me that there`s only so much of this that both the Republican Party and the general public is willing to put up with.

PIERCE: Well, the general public, I won`t speak to. But the Republican Party, I think was mentioned earlier, has a real problem in that the only plausible alternative at the moment is Ted Cruz who nobody likes.

HAYES: Right. Well, they have not assaulted anyone as far as I know.

PIERCE: That`s a good point. We`re setting the bar at shoe top level. So, nobody in the Cruz campaign has yet assaulted anybody.

HAYES: I`m hoping for Donald Trump to call his own bluff and file charges against Michelle Fields, because I think that would be pretty interesting.

Charlie Pierce, always a pleasure. Thanks so much.

PIERCE: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Still ahead tonight, President Obama has some strong words about the atmosphere of the 2016 campaign. We`ll play you the remarks and trust me, you don`t want to miss them.

But, first, our interview with Sanders backer Susan Sarandon is blowing up after her comments about whether or not she`d vote for Clinton over Trump. I`ll get reaction from Clinton supporter and award-winning playwright Tony Kushner, as well as from the Bernie Sanders campaign manager. That`s after this break.

We`re back in two minutes.


HAYES: In my interview last night with Susan Sarandon, prominent supporter of Bernie Sanders, a fixture in the campaign trail. The actor refused to say whether she would vote for Hillary Clinton if, in fact, Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination. Even said there are some Sanders supporters who think Donald Trump might be a better pick to hasten the revolution.


HAYES: Isn`t the question always in an election about choices, right? I mean, I think a lot of people think to themselves, well, if it`s Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and I think Bernie Sanders would probably think this.

SARANDON: I think Bernie would encourage people because he doesn`t have any ego in this thing. But I think a lot of people are sorry I can`t bring myself to do this.

HAYES: How about you personally?

SARANDON: I don`t know. I`m going to see what happens.

HAYES: Really?


HAYES: I cannot believe it as you`re watching the --

SARANDON: Some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in and things will really, you know --

HAYES: You`re saying the Leninist model of heighten the contradictions.

SARANDON: Yes, yes, some people feel that.


HAYES: That response caused the Internet`s collective jaw to hit the floor, prompting some thoughtful analysis on what`s behind Sarandon`s stance, and drawing comparisons to the iconic finale from the 1991 film "Thelma and Louise".

A left wing progressive openly saying that electing Donald Trump to the White House might be better in some convoluted way for the country than electing Hillary Clinton, that was a pretty big story. Now, today, responding to an article that quoted her as saying she would rather vote for Trump than Clinton, Sarandon tweeted, "LOL, that I would ever vote Trump", which I have to say was pretty clear in the interview itself I though.

In an interview with MSNBC`s Andrea Mitchell earlier today, Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon responded to Sarandon`s remarks last night.


BRIAN FALLON, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Look, I thought those comments were peculiar. I give the Sanders campaign a benefit of the doubt. Not every surrogate that goes out and speaks on behalf of the campaign actually reflects the views of the candidate.

So, I think I`ll give Senator Sanders the opportunity to address those comments that Susan Sarandon made last night. It did remind me of some of the comments we have seen over the years from Senator Sanders that perhaps Barack Obama has been a disappointment or that he should be primaried in 2012.


HAYES: I`ll speak with Bernie Sanders campaign manager shortly to get you his response. You don`t want to miss that.

First, I`m going to talk to another eminent progressive in the art, someone with a different read on the 2016 election.

Joining me now, Oscar nominated screenwriter, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, one of the greatest writers of our time, if I can editorialize, and a Hillary Clinton supporter, Tony Kushner.

Great to have you here, Tony.


HAYES: I think you have as having pretty radical politics. I think you have described yourself as a socialist.


HAYES: Your work contains pretty intense critiques of American power structure. Where are you on this election?

KUSHNER: I support Hillary Clinton. I think she would make an extraordinary president. I think she`s going to be nominated and elected.

HAYES: This is not that, you know, you`ve left behind your leftie past or something. You`re no longer the radical idealist you once were?

KUSHNER: I mean, like Secretary Clinton, I think that you -- as you move through time, you consider views you`ve had in the past and perhaps reconsider them and amend them. I believe that as a person on the left, I believe in electoral democracy as a way of affecting progress and even radical change. There`s a lot of evidence in American history that`s the case. And it starts with action in the communities and on the streets.

It has to, that kind of action has to find some kind of response or a group in the halls of power. I think that when there are people that are elected and people in the streets working for change, enormous changes can happen.

HAYES: Are you supporting Hillary Clinton? There`s two ways I hear people talk about this. I think she`s the best shot to win or I think she would make the best president. Which of those two?

KUSHNER: I think she`s absolutely the best shot to win, and I think she would make a wonderful president. I`m excited about the idea of Hillary Clinton presidency. I don`t understand why more people aren`t. I think a lot of people are.

I don`t quite understand why people who with political views that I share aren`t more excited about her. The sort I couldn`t possibly vote for Hillary Clinton thing from someone like Susan Sarandon, who I respect enormously, baffles me as I think it baffled you last night.

It`s -- she -- there are things that one may or may not like about her. She`s been in public office and in public eye for a really long time. She`s lived a long record of accomplishments and also times failures. But she`s been champion of everything that I care about for a very long time and I --

HAYES: Even things like foreign policy? Like, you`re someone who I know, who I think of you as being quite outspoken on Palestinian self- determination particularly and this sort of immorality of occupation in Israel and she gave that speech to AIPAC, which was quite a hawkish.

KUSHNER: Yes, I mean, it was pretty much the speech that I would expect Democratic serious nominee for the presidency to give to AIPAC. Might have not shown up as Sanders did, but I think it`s enormously important I believe for the Jewish American vote to stay 75 percent Democrat as it has for many, many decades.

And I think this is fraught issue and she`s avoiding getting caught up in a debate that might do damage to her candidacy. I think that she believes in diplomacy and I think that she`ll pursue diplomatic solution to the crisis in the Middle East.

HAYES: Let me ask you the same question, if Sanders were the nominee, would you vote for Bernie Sanders?

KUSHNER: Of course. I mean, I don`t know what`s going to be nominated or who will be nominated on the other side of things, but it`s terrifying. I mean, I don`t think there`s been anything this frightening coming from the Republicans in ever. And that`s saying a lot.

So, I don`t see anyone who cares, not only about this country but about the world at this point about climate change, about immigration reform or any issue of any significance, health care, LGBT rights, how could you not vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is going to be?

And there`s a lot that I admire about Sanders. I just think Hillary Clinton has more impressive record and a more skillful politician, which I think is more important ultimately than fantasies about how moral or immoral a person might be.

HAYES: People on the Internet are going to have things to say about that.

Tony Kushner, thank you so much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.

KUSHNER: Great to see you.

HAYES: Just ahead, the campaign manager of the Bernie Sanders campaign will join me to respond. Don`t go anywhere.


HAYES: Within hours of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the Republicans made it clear they would obstruct any and all attempts by the president of the United States to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Since then, the specter of divided 4-4 Supreme Court has hung over the entire process and Republicans` refusal to let it go forward.

Today came the first really big decision of that divided court. In case about public sectors unions which Republicans have been salivating over, which would have likely been a five-four decision striking down public sector unions compulsory dues, the Scalia on the court. Instead came back 4-4. The tie meant the lower court ruling this favor of the unions now stands. The unions were essentially saved, thanks to a divided court.

But that may be the least of the GOP`s problems. A larger one looms in November when it is looking like the obstruction could have real implications for Republicans at the ballot box. We`ll tell you about that ahead.

Up next, Bernie Sanders campaign manager, Jeff Weaver. Stay with us.


HAYES: So, Susan Sarandon ignited a bit of a firestorm with her comments on this show last night about why she may not vote for Hillary Clinton in a general election race against Donald Trump. And why Trump, in some senses, might be a better choice.


SUSAN SARANDON, ACTRESS: I think a lot of people are, sorry, I just can`t bring myself to do that.

HAYES: What about you personally?

SARANDON: I don`t know. I`m going to see what happens.

HAYES: Really?


HAYES: I cannot believe that as you`re watching -- Donald Trump.

SARANDON: You know some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in then things will really, you know, explode.


HAYES: Today, the Clinton campaign called on Bernie Sanders to address Sarandon`s remarks.

I`m joined now by Jeff Weaver, campaign manger for Bernie Sanders, one of the four presidential campaign managers who was not arrested today. Congratulations on that, Jeff.

JEFF WEAVER, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I try to make sure that`s the case every day.

HAYES: That`s a great thing at the top of the to do list.

What is your response to this?

WEAVER: Well, look, Senator Sanders has been very clear that he`s going to support the nominee of the Democratic Party in this process. We, of course, anticipate that it will be him who will be the Democratic nominee. But he has said quite clearly that he is running for the Democratic nomination in the event that he should not receive it, he would support the Democratic nominee and obviously were he to become the Democratic nominee, we would expect that Secretary Clinton would support him.

HAYES: Are you at all concerned that the longer this goes, the more kind of image of Hillary Clinton is cultivated among the people that support Bernie Sanders that makes her fundamentally toxic to them?

WEAVER: Well, it`s not about creating an image, it`s about having campaign where you talk about real issues. I mean, the truth of the matter is that Hillary Clinton claims she`s going to take on the big banks but takes money big banks, claims she is going to take on fossile fuel industry, takes money from the fossil fuel industry, says she`s going to take on the gun lobby and takes money from the gun lobby.

So, this is not about creating an image. And if she is going to be damaged by this process, what`s going to happen in a general election? Do you think Donald Trump is going to go easy on Secretary Clinton?

HAYES: are you guys confident that it will be Donald Trump as the nominee?

WEAVER: OK. Do you think Ted Cruz is going to go easy on Secretary Clinton?

HAYES: No, I mean, no one is going to go easy on Secretary Clinton. I think as her career has shown.

There was back and forth about an extra debate in April in New York. I want to play what Brian Fallon said a little earlier about the possibility of a debate here in New York City. Take a listen.


BRIAN FALLON, NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: There have been back channel conversations throughout the day today. Our campaign indicated to the Sanders campaign through the DNC that we`re perfectly willing to debate in April and we`ve provided some options, including here in New York.


HAYES: So, are we going to get a New York debate here?

WEAVER: Well, I sure hope so.

Look, back in February when Secretary Clinton was under water in New Hampshire, they wanted a debate in New Hampshire that was outside the regular process. We said sure, let`s do it. But we want three more debates, one many March, one in April, one in May.

So, this debate that`s happening in April is a debate actually that they already bargained for and that they were supposed to do. It would have been very dishonest for them not to have it.

We are gratified that in fact it appears that they are going to be willing to have that debate in New York, which will be a pivotal state this month in April. The last month they have absolutely resisted any attempt to have a debate in New York. I believe the word nonstarter was used by the Clinton campaign. We`re certainly happy that they had a turnabout today.

HAYES: Jeff, you guys have done very well in caucus states. I think you`ve won 9 of 12 or something like that of the caucus states. If you really believe in democracy and as many people participating as possible, aren`t caucuses a terrible idea? They create this high barrier to entry, people have to take lots of time off. They can`t just go at the time of the day that`s convenient to them.

Shouldn`t we just have primaries for every one?

WEAVER: Well, look, Chris, this is a process that we engaged in. We don`t set the rules. The Democratic Party sets the rules. And we are trying to play by the rules.

The truth of the matter is Senator Sanders does well in primaries as well. It certainly won the New Hampshire primary by 22 points. He won the Michigan primary, a large diverse state in perhaps what was the largest comeback in Democratic primary history coming from over 20 points down to winning by two points.

So, I think he has done well in caucuses, that`s for sure, but i think he`s also demonstrated he can do well in primaries as well and that`s going to continue.

HAYES: All right, Jeff Weaver, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

WEAVER: Thank you.

HAYES: All right, so last night we asked you who is to blame for the rise of Donald Trump. Well, President Obama weighed in on just that. We will play you those remarks ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s been a lot of chatter in the past 48 hours about a contested convention. Paul Ryan even said today that he was boning up on the rules in case it gets to that. Do you think that that...

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: Well, I don`t know guys. My campaign barely ended 48 hours ago. So, I haven`t thought through that. It`s certainly not anything we`re planning on.


HAYES: OK, it`s been just 14 days since Marco Rubio suspended his campaign, and while he may be gone from the campaign trail, there are signs that Rubio has no intention of being forgotten.

As we`ve been chronicling on the show, there are two races going on right now. One for voters and the other for delegates. If you look at the delegate race, right now Donald Trump leads with 749. Cruz is next with 468. And look who is there in third place with 172, Marco Rubio. He still has those delegates. Almost 30 more than John Kasich who is actually still running for president.

Carson and Bush also still have eight between them.

Now, you may be wondering what happens to all those delegates pledged to candidates who are no longer running for president. Well, it turns out it all depends. And Marco Rubio hasn`t just been kicking back for the last two weeks, he reportedly has a plan. And his plan is to be a major player at the Republican convention in Cleveland.

I`ll explain in 60 seconds.


HAYES: So, despite suspending his campaign for president, Marco Rubio still has 172 pledge delegates. According to a bombshell new Associated Press report, he`s doing everything he can to keep them. That can position him as a power broker of sorts at July`s potentially contested convention with enough delegates in his back pocket to perhaps swing things towards one candidate or another.

According to the AP, Rubio wants to keep his options open and has been working behind the scenes with the help of unpaid staffers sending letters to Republican officials in states where he has won delegates charging that he wants to keep his delegates.

At least one state party has already obliged him. Alaska Republicans this week decided to let Marco Rubio keep the five delegates he won in the state`s presidential preference poll this month, this after they`d already divvied up those delegates between Trump and Cruz.

Now, five delegates may seem like nothing, but 172, as Marco Rubio knows, that`s a whole different story. If he can hold onto a significant number of those, he could just walk into July`s convention a king maker.


HAYES: In this era, everyone is both a maker of media and a media critic, and that includes the president of the United States. President Obama, who has several different channels of media distribution himself from Twitter to SnapChat to Facebook to Instagram, also has some strong feelings about journalism in the American media. And last night the president, who`s administration we have to point out has relentlessly prosecuted leaks, subpoenaed journalists and set a new record for denying FOIA requests delivered the keynote address to the awards dinner for the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting.

And while he congratulated the winner of this year`s award, Pro Publica`s Alex McGinnis, we`ve had on this very show. The president also had strong some words about the current political climate.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When our elected officials and our political campaigns become entirely unteethered to reason and facts and analysis, when it doesn`t matter what`s true and what`s not, that makes it all but impossible for us to make good decisions on behalf of future generations.

A job well done is about more than just handing someone a microphone, it`s to probe and to question and to dig deeper and demand more. The electorate would be better served if that happened. It would be better served if billions of dollars in free media came with serious accountability especially when politicians issue unworkable plans or make promises they can`t keep. And there are reporters here who know they can`t keep them. I know that`s a shocking concept that politicians would do that, but without a press that asks tough questions, voters take them at their word.

Ultimately, I recognize that the news industry is an industry. It`s a business. And there`s no escaping the pressures of the industry and all its constraints. But I also know that journalism at its best is indispensible, not in some abstract sense of nobility, but in the very concrete sense that real people depend on you to uncover the truth.


HAYES: After the break, this should have been a routine meeting on Capitol Hill today, and I will tell you why it was exceptional, next.


HAYES: Something remarkable and truly newsworthy happened today that in any other circumstance would not be news, which is this: the president`s nominee to fill a Supreme Court vacancy met with a Republican senator.

This is something that senators from both parties routinely do as a matter of a course for a Supreme Court nominee. And the reason such a meeting is now so exceptional is that within hours of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia`s death, the Republican line was don`t send us a nominee.

Led by Senator Mitch McConnell they vowed not to vote on an Obama nominee, not to hold hearings on that nominee, not even to meet with said nominee.

That was the GOP`s historically unprecedented position. But significant cracks are forming in the wall of obstruction and quickly. Just two weeks after President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland of the U.s. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, 16 Republican senators say they are now open to meeting with that nominee.

Today, Garland met with the Republican senator from Illinois, Mark Kirk, who is, and this is quite key, up for re-election in a very blue state and who is also said the senate should hold hearings on Garland`s nomination.


SEN. MARK KIRK, (R) ILLINOIS: We need for a rational, adult, open-minded consideration of the constitutional process which Judge Garland is a part of. He`s been duly nominated by the elected president of the United States to fill a vacancy in which we know exists on the court that we need open- minded rational responsible people to keep an open mind to make sure the process works.


HAYES: There`s renewed pressure on the Republican chair of the judiciary committee Senator Chuck Grassley. This is what he woke up to on the front page of his hometown newspaper in Iowa, Grassley takes flak for stance on top court.

Kirk and other Republican senators breaking ranks with their GOP colleagues over the Supreme Court strategy may be in microcosm of a larger problem posed by Republican lawmakers in competitive down ballot races.

As the election gets closer, it`s going to be harder to keep party unity particularly if the nominee is Donald Trump.

Joining me now, Molly Ball for The Atlantic; Nick Confessore political reporter for The New York Times.

And Molly, you`ve done some reporting on this. I mean, it strikes me that one of defining features of the Republican congress, House and Senate in the Obama era is the unity. I mean, there`s been some infighting about the shut down and things like that, but they have been pretty good at keeping them together, not letting people defect. Do you think they can hold that together as we come barreling toward November?

MOLLY BALL, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I mean, as you said I would not say that unity has been -- as you eluded to, I would not say that unity has been a defining feature of this Republican congress at all. But Mitch McConnell a defining feature of this Republican congress at all. But Mitch McConnell has been very good at holding his caucus together in the senate. We`re already seeing that unravel. But at the same time, I think in way they feel the their strategy is almost vindicated by what`s happening, because when they`ve set the goal posts the way that they have, just agreeing to meet with the nominee now looks like a concession, looks like being magnanimous, much less going the extra step of holding hearings which I think they would see as total defeat.

So, in a way, by putting the goal posts where they have, they have allowed this very minor and as I said routine gesture of just meeting with Judge Garland to be a concession.

HAYES: Yeah, I should be clear on the unity point, right. So, it`s been incredibly not -- there`s been very little unity, right, lots of acrimony. What they have been good at is preventing defections, right. So, they don`t get Republicans crossing over a lot to vote on big pieces of Democratic priority legislation like perhaps we might have seen in the past.

The other sort of physical force or not physical, but sort of political force that`s pushing on this process is the president`s approval rating is now 53 percent.

If I`m not mistaken it was 28 percent I think for George W. Bush at this point. I mean, that is a political reality they`re going to have to be thinking about as they head towards the election.

NICK CONFESSORE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yeah, he`s not down in the dumps the way he was before. So, I think Merrick Garland is the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man of this process. They tried to pick the one candidate they can think of who was the least offensive for a Democratic president to nominate, to take away all the reasons to oppose him. And so what we`re seeing now is of course -- of course we have to meet with the guy. We can`t just not meet with him. He`s like the head of the D.C. circuit.

But I do think, as Molly points out, I think they actually have an advantage here. I think Hillary Clinton sort of unboxed the Senate Republicans this week when she said look at the stakes for this. All these decisions will be decided by this court. And she`s saying, yeah, it is about raw power and who has the majority on the court. And the president is there trying to say it`s not about that, it`s about procedure and deference and blah, blah, blah. So, I think, look it is what it is about. And we saw today with today`s decision, the four (inaudible) on labor. There are huge stakes here for both parties.

HAYES: Molly, one of the trends that`s happened as we think about the sort of way that congressional behavior will be impacted by the election is, it`s become much harder and harder to keep races local. We saw Democrats in 2014 saying yes, particularly in red states, or in districts that were swing districts, yes, the president might be unpopular here. We`re going to keep it local. We saw Alison Lundergan Grimes trying to do that in Kentucky. And it didn`t work. It hardly worked anywhere. I mean, Republicans successfully nationalized the election.

It looks like it`s going to be happening no matter what anyone says about it in November as well.

BALL: Well, Republicans are tremendously worried about down ballot effects in this election. And if you`re Mark Kirk, you`re worried about your reelection even if the top of your ticket is I don`t know, Marco Rubio much less if it`s Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.

And so, you know, I`ve talked to a lot of Republicans about what`s the best strategy for their senate nominees in blue states and purple states. And, you know, because every single one of these candidates, particularly if Donald Trump is the nominee, every question they get from a reporter is going to be, what do you think of the latest crazy thing Donald Trump said. Do you support him? How can you support him? They are going to -- they`re going to have to come -- and they have choices to make about that. Are they going to say, are they going to distance themselves and say, no, I don`t support him? Are they going to do this little dance about, oh, I`m running my own race and I don`t have anything to do with that.

Because they`re going to have to find some way to differentiate themselves if and when this turns into a land slide loss for the man at the top of the ticket.

HAYES: McConnell basically said very early on we`re going to release you to say whatever you want. And I almost think that they probably have gotten the message to people like Mark Kirk or Ron Johnson, whoever else, the sort of purple and blue state senators who are in cycle even on the Merrick Garland thing. Like do your thing. Whatever you`ve got to say, like throw us overboard. We want you to prove your independence to your voters.

CONFESSORE: They can try.

But Donald J. Trump is the brand right now. He`s going to be...

HAYES: The person at the top of the ticket is the brand.

CONFESSORE: But not just that, he is going to suck up all the oxygen in the room from now to November if he`s the nominee, and he probably will be. And it`s going to be hard to be anything else besides a Donald Trump Republican if he`s the guy at the top. It`s just the way he is. He takes up all the room.

HAYES: And we`ve also seen over the last 16 years at least right that partisan polarization is one of the strongest forces in American political life, in American political life, right. People don`t split tickets. They flow with the party. So, having someone at the top of the party that a lot of people find toxic, or whatever vote for, people are going to have to rediscover a kind of voting behavior that has basically been lost in the last few years.

CONFESSORE: Yeah, it`s hard to imagine this as a non-nationalized election.

I think he`s a single handed force to nationalize the election.

HAYES: Molly Ball and Nic Confessore, thank you both.

That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.