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All In With Chris Hayes, Transcript 5/12/2016

Guests: Blake Farenthold, Luis Gutierrez, Keith Ellison, Sidney Blumenthal, Tammy Duckworth, David Corn

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: May 12, 2016 Guest: Blake Farenthold, Luis Gutierrez, Keith Ellison, Sidney Blumenthal, Tammy Duckworth, David Corn


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

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It`s very important that we don`t fake unifying.

HAYES: Two men enter, one message leaves.

RYAN: I heard a lot of good things from our presumptive nominee.

HAYES: The Trump takeover of the Republican Party plays out on Capitol Hill. Tonight, what we know about what happened behind the closed doors, how the rank and file are falling in line, and how the Democrats are responding.

Then, why Mitt Romney is siding with Hillary Clinton on Trump`s taxes.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You got to ask yourself, why couldn`t he want to release them?

HAYES: How the Clinton camp is preparing for a return to the ugly attacks of the `90s with Clinton confidant Sydney Blumenthal.

And Donald Trump is forced to disavow his former butler after the man calls for the killing of President Obama -- when ALL IN starts right now.


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

Today, Donald Trump made the rounds in Washington and the elites of his party tried desperately to come to terms with the reality that, yes, Donald Trump is their presumptive presidential nominee.

Trump arrived at the Republican National Committee just before 9:00 a.m. to meet first with, of course, House Speaker Paul Ryan, the most powerful Republican in the country, who in an unprecedented move last week announced he was not ready to back Trump for president. It was a chaotic scene outside the meeting with protesters at one point trying to deliver a cardboard coffin to the RNC. Inside the Trump/Ryan meeting chaperoned by RNC head Ryan Priebus, the man with the unenviable job of trying to hold the party together.

After about an hour, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Trump delegate, and the rest of the Trump GOP House leadership joined the Trump meeting, which ramped up around 11:00. Trump then travel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee where he get with GOP Senate leaders.

Pretty much every Republican involved in today`s meetings offered up a similar take, at least publicly. It was a good, constructive meeting with Trump, according to this tweet from Senator John Cornyn. Trump himself tweeted, it was a great day in D.C. with Speaker Ryan and the Republican leadership, adding things working out really well.

In a joint statement, Trump and Ryan why upbeat saying, "While we were honest about our few differences, we recognize there are important areas of common ground."

Ryan struck a similar tone in remarks to the reporters though he stopped short of offering Trump his endorsement.


RYAN: I was very encouraged with what I heard from Donald Trump today. I do believe that we are now planting the seeds to get ourselves unified, to bridge the gaps in differences. And so, from here, we`re going to go deeper into the policy areas to see where that common ground is and how we can make sure that we are operating off the same core principles.

So, yes, I am -- this is our first meeting. I was very encouraged with this meeting. But this is a process. It takes a little time. You don`t put it together in 45 minutes.


HAYES: And it`s not just a matter of time, however, as NBC`s Katy Tur pointed out to Reince Priebus after today`s meeting.


KATY TUR, NBC NEWS: A lot of reporting though that there is concern about Donald Trump flip-flopping on issues, being unpredictable. Just yesterday, he talked about enforcing this Muslim ban, calling it a worldwide problem. Paul Ryan has not supported that idea. Was that discussed and did they come to an agreement on it? Is he going to back off of it?

RIENCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: Again, I`m not going to get into the specifics of what was discussed. Only to say that it only can be described as very positive and I think a first step toward the speaker and Donald Trump working together in unifying the party but getting to know each other too.


HAYES: Joining me now is NBC News correspondent Katy Tur who was talking to Reince Priebus in that clip.

What role is -- Priebus seems to be the designated go-between. He`s the guy that`s sort of trying to put these two together.

TUR: Absolutely. And he was the one that moderated or officiated or chaperoned, whatever you want to say, this meeting between Paul Ryan and Donald Trump. Ryan and Donald Trump only had about a 30-second meeting with each other before this. They had one phone call. It`s well- documented the two didn`t have very much personal contact.

And the Trump campaign was hoping to get that one-on-one time because they believe that Donald Trump one on one in a room is an extraordinarily convincing and charming person. And they believe that once Paul Ryan got in to talk with him, he`d be convinced.

Now, do they believe that Paul Ryan was going to walk out of that meeting and give Donald Trump his endorsement? No, they didn`t necessarily believe that. But they believe this is the first step to doing that.

Meanwhile, Paul Ryan came in trying to convince Trump of the Republican platform, trying to educate him on what they`ve done for the past decades and what Paul Ryan has been trying to do while he`s been in Congress.

I`m also told that he walked in with charts, charts that outlined the national debt, charts that outlined entitlement reforms, trying to convince Donald Trump of those, trying to get him on his side. Anyone that`s covered Paul Ryan, be it Alex Moe, one of our producers on the Hill, or Luke Russert, they`ll tell you he likes his charts. It`s unclear, though, how much Donald Trump was convince by those charts.

And although this was a conciliatory meeting, although everybody called this encouraging meeting, the thing with Donald Trump is he is unpredictable in his nature and he could change his rhetoric at any moment and go against maybe the promises or the assurances that he made today to the Republican Party.

HAYES: All right. Katy Tur, thanks as always, appreciate it.

Joining me now is Republican Representative Blake Farenthold of Texas, who voted for Ted Cruz but now supports Donald Trump.

And, Congressman, we`ve been mapping you and your colleagues on a 1 to 5 ratio, from never Trump meaning you`re never going to vote for the guy, to always Trump, enthusiastic. Where do you place yourself on that 1 to 5 right now?

REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD (R), TEXAS: I`m probably about a 3.5.

HAYES: OK, I wasn`t expecting that. Someone else from your caucus yesterday, Michael burgess, seemed more enthusiastic. You`re sort of cautiously optimistic?

FARENTHOLD: I am. I don`t think we`ve gotten enough into the weeds on policy with Donald Trump. He`s got such a dynamic personality. He`s brought in so many people. It`s just a momentum going there where we haven`t gotten into the weeds on the issues. That`s where Paul Ryan is. He`s at heart a policy wonk.

HAYES: Yes, I keep hearing that.

What are the issues, what are the policies that you like of Donald Trump that you`ve seen so far?

FARENTHOLD: I think we`re going to see some conservative motion in the country. And the thing I`m really most excited about is Donald Trump is a deal maker. I spent my six years in Congress with a "my way or the highway" president. I want a dealmaker who will come in and will get some stuff done and I think that`s what the American people want. They`re tired of gridlock in Washington.

HAYES: I just want to reask the question, though. In terms of what Donald Trump`s policies are, and he`s elaborated a number on his way to this nomination, which are the ones you are most enthusiastic about or support?

FARENTHOLD: I think one of the things that came out of the meeting is he supports deregulation and getting the government out of people`s hair. I think he`s also strong on border security. We disagree on some of the details. But as a Texan, I see the real damage that happens, both on a human level and on a crime level, as a result of a wide-open border.

HAYES: Do you support a wall being built with Mexico somehow paying for it?

FARENTHOLD: I don`t think it makes sense. I grew up in Texas. What we learned from Israel is in securing a border, what matters is vanishing time. How long it takes somebody who`s crossed illegally to disappear into the population. So, in cities, yes, maybe a wall makes sense. But in Big Ben National Park, it`s a huge waste of money.

HAYES: But then here`s my question to you. So this is an area that you have politics that would seemingly be aligned with Donald Trump. A concern with border security. You have a special expertise, because you`re from Texas. You`re hearing him say things that get huge applause that you yourself know are not practicable.

Doesn`t that concern you?

FARENTHOLD: Listen, he`s a big bold idea guy. And you lay out the -- your big one and you negotiate down. What I think Donald Trump is saying is, we need a secure border and we`ll do what it takes to get it.

HAYES: So if he is a dealmaker, do you fundamentally envision a future in which he ultimately ends up embracing the full panoply of Republican orthodoxy on everything from Medicare to Medicaid to abortion?

FARENTHOLD: I don`t think there`s any Republican that we have that is 100 percent in agreement with the platform. We`re a broad, big-tent party that welcomes all comers.

But we are all conservative. We all believe in smaller government and more freedom. And obviously we get into some disagreements.

You report on it all the time about the House freedom caucus versus the northeastern, more liberal Republicans. We are used to hashing things out in our family.

HAYES: All right. Representative Blake Farenthold, thanks for your time tonight. Appreciate that.

FARENTHOLD: My pleasure.

HAYES: Joining me now is former Republican Congressman Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma, served 16 years of the house, was chair of the House Republican Policy Committee who opposes Donald Trump.

What do you make of this meeting today?

MICKEY EDWARDS, FORMER GOP CONGRESSMAN: Yes. Hi, Chris. You know, the thing that they focus on, of course, is policy. And there are going to be differences in policy, sometimes some agreements.

But what really matters here, if we`re talking about president of the United States, is temperament. It`s judgment. It`s a willingness. Paul Ryan said this, a willingness to understand and abide by the Constitution - - the constitution`s limits on the president, the Bill of Rights. And that`s where Trump just simply falls short.

So I don`t have any problem with somebody who agrees with Trump, who thinks he would be great, he`s got good judgment, good temperament, all of that, sure, vote for him.

But I think there`s a moral question here. The moral question is, if you don`t agree with that, if you think this is not somebody we can be comfortable with having the launch codes, you know, who is not going to necessarily abide by the limits on the presidency in the Constitution, you know, you shouldn`t support him. If this is somebody you think is not going to be a good president, not fit for presidency, as many of these people have said, you know, then to vote for him, to support him, just because he belongs to your same club, is just outrageous.

HAYES: You`re pointing out something crucial, it seems to me, on the interplay between people`s judgment of his temperament and character and policy. It seems to me that it`s very unclear to see why any commitments he would make to adhere to whatever Paul Ryan`s vision of policy would ever be carried through on.

EDWARDS: Yes. You know, he has been on almost every side of every issue. And sometimes within the same speech he contradicts himself and takes no notice of it and thinks that`s just fine.

So, if I were Paul Ryan or if I were Reince Priebus or Blake Farenthold, and have the position where I`m sitting there and I`m listening to him say, I`m for this, I`m for that, why would you believe it? You know, he changes his mind constantly about everything.

HAYES: How much of this is -- you were 16 years in the House. You know a thing or two how this works. Right now, you`re not a sitting politician anymore, you don`t have to worry about your voters. How much of this are members of the House caucus looking at the votes in their districts, the mail and e-mail they`re getting and saying, the people that I want to re- elect me like this guy.

EDWARDS: I think that`s true. Some of them have primaries and they`re worried about getting primaried if they say what they really think. So, that`s part of the problem. And then the people who turn out and vote, as we saw in the primaries, are not really the bulk of the population.

You know, it`s the smaller numbers, the most activists, the most ideological. That`s who they`re afraid of. That they don`t want to get taken out in the primary, they don`t want to lose because a lot of the people who might have voted for them otherwise are disgusted and stay home.

And so, they`re trying to navigate here about how do they get the people who are actually going to vote to support them? And they`re in a tough spot. I know that.

But I think at some point, you have to listen to what your heart and head tell you is the right thing to do. If you think that what he says can be trusted, if you think that he has got the right temperament to be the president of the United States and can launch nuclear weapons, if you think all that and you`re comfortable with it -- fine, that`s great.

But if you don`t, and a lot of these people have been saying all through this, whether it`s about the Muslim issue as Paul Ryan has been, about other issues, if you think that he`s so wrong, so seriously, fundamentally wrong on these major questions, that you shouldn`t vote for him because you`re -- this is not a game.

This is not about whether my club scores more points than your club. It`s about who`s the president of the United States. And I think you have to take that pretty seriously.

HAYES: Do you see this moment as a moral test for your party?

EDWARDS: I see it as a moral test not in policy terms. I see it as a moral test in terms of whether people who believe that this person is not suited to be president will support him.

Now, those who do think -- look at his temperament, look at his judgment, say, wow, that`s great, I feel the same way, I trust him to be what he`s saying, you know, they support him, that`s what people do.

But I see a lot of people now who are saying -- who have been saying for months, my gosh, this guy`s a disaster, how can you say something like that that goes against our basic values, our basic principles? But I`m going to support him. That`s the problem, that`s the moral question.

HAYES: Seeing a lot of that.

Former Congressman Mickey Edwards, always a pleasure to have you on, sir. Thank you.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

HAYES: Still to come, another day, another shocking story of an unapologetic racist support for Trump the campaign is trying to distance himself from. I`ll give you a hint, it involves a butler, Facebook, and calling for presidential assassination. It`s a doozy and we`ll have the story ahead.

But, first, Republicans weren`t the only ones keeping their eye on Trump today. Democrats got their first real glimpse of what it will look like to have Donald Trump as a nominee. Their reactions right after this break. You see in two minutes.


HAYES: As Donald Trump traveled around Washington, D.C. meeting Republicans today, Democrats on Capitol Hill also got a good look at the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. One of them joins me right now, Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois.

Congressman, how did -- how did you greet Trump`s arrival today in terms of how you assess the new world in which you as a member of the opposition party are living in Congress with this as the titular head of the Republican Party?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Look, the Republicans have to simply accept that this is the party of Trump, as much as they don`t want to accept the consequences of their electoral process and what they have been stewing for so long. So I gave my five-minute speech talking about the importance and how they have even taco salads in the Senate dining room today. Kind of so that we all understand when Trump arrives here, the Hispanics like I and others are being well-received.

Look, it`s their party. A couple of things very quickly it just seems to me. Paul Ryan met with him today. Paul Ryan endorsed comprehensive immigration reform in the 2005 bill, when it was Kennedy-McCain and I and Blake in the House. He was a sponsor of that bill.

So, it seems to me they have huge differences philosophically on that issue and so many other issues. And at the same time the kind of thing -- remember when the speaker stood up and said, we can`t show hatred towards Muslims and condemn?

Look, they have irreconcilable differences. And today, I think they did the best they could to kind of say they`re fixing it up. But this is the party of Trump. And it`s the man they`re going to have to live with.

Every Republican in the House of Representatives, their new leader, the new president of their party, the chief spokesperson, is now Donald Trump. A lot of them are uncomfortable.

HAYES: Congressman Ellison of Minnesota also joins us here in the House.

Congressman, you know, I`m really curious about your views of him in terms of -- they talk about policy. So, he has called for a temporary ban of all Muslims entering the U.S. this has been blasted by a lot of people, including basically Paul Ryan tacitly as fundamentally tyrannical, un- American, et cetera. It`s over 60 percent support in poll after poll, state after state among Republican voters -- is that the kind of thing you`re going to see your colleagues embrace?

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Well, it looks like it. From what the news reports have been from seeing Paul Ryan and Trump come together. They`re saying nice things about each other. It`s shocking because one thing after Trump`s ugly Muslim ban comments came out is that Paul Ryan said that this was despicable, un-American, and wrong.

So, now, all of a sudden, is he taking that back? I mean, integrity is important. Character counts. And if you`re going to unify with somebody who has views antithetical to what you`ve expressed, it means either he`s changed or you`ve changed. My question is which one?

HAYES: Right.

ELLISON: I think Paul Ryan showed real character, but this particular thing is -- I would expect he would never unify with Trump after what Trump has said and done.

HAYES: Congressman Ellison, I want to give you an opportunity for a victory lap. Many people discounted the chances we would get to this moment we are on. You`re nodding your head because you know what I`m about to play, a clip that`s been going around a bit of you on a Sunday show talking about that possibility. July 16th, 2015, take a listen, right after he declared. Take a listen.


ELLISON: Anybody from the Democratic side of the fence who thinks that -- who`s terrified of the possibility of president Trump better vote, better get active, better get involved, because this man has got some momentum. And we better be ready for the fact that he might be reading the Republican ticket.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you don`t believe that but I want to go on.


ELLISON: We had Jesse Ventura in Minnesota win the governorship, nobody thought he was going to win. I`m telling you, stranger things have happened.


HAYES: Congressman, you are not laughing as you`re watching that clip. Your response to watching that prediction in the rear-view mirror?

ELLISON: Well, let me tell you, I don`t take any joy out of it. I wish I was wrong, quite frankly.

But let me make another prediction. If we do not mobilize and organize the vote, we could see him be president. Now, I`m going to tell you something, I don`t believe he will be because I believe the people who believe in equality and inclusion will rise to the occasion. But he should not be discounted because the level of fear, anxiety, bigotry, and prejudice that he is trying to cultivate is a potent, ugly force that has expressed itself in this country before.

I mean, the fact is that George Wallace had supporters. And there`s a lot of pain out there and he`s trying to feed on it and nurse it, and he could whip it into a frenzy, and I don`t think people should discount the possibility of Trump winning the presidency if we do not rise to the occasion and truly reach out, reach out to every single progressive voter, independent, on all sides.

HAYES: Congressman Gutierrez, you have been probably one of the most stalwart, vocal advocates of comprehensive immigration reform. Two things in the news today, I want to ask you how they relate. There`s a "Reuters" piece that crossed saying this administration plans a deportation push focusing on women and children in May and June. I would imagine you have some strong feelings on that. That, of course, relates to what the politics of immigration are at this moment and what the stakes are having someone like Donald Trump now is going to be on the ballot this fall.

ELLISON: Look, you remember when Barack Obama in 2012 went to the "The Des Moines Register" and said to the editorial board, yes, Latinos are going to vote for me because the Republican party is pushing them my way. He said that in September. He was right in November.

But how long can you expect that to continue to be a nurturing base of the Democratic Party when you take a community for granted? I think that is very detrimental, both because of the human rights aspects. Look, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador are dangerous places.

We are a nation that welcomes people. We stand up to the world, in Syria, and in Africa. We challenge everybody to live up to the highest moral and human standards. And yet in our own hemisphere, we are sending people back to certain death? That`s not something we should be doing.

Look, what we should be doing is setting up procedures in those countries to allow it, because what we know, Chris, is the following. Nine of 10 of those that come seeking refuge actually win their asylum cases. Why do we make them go through that dangerous travail to reach here when we know that the past has told us they have a case to be in this country?

HAYES: Yes, important point from the congressman. Beneath the rhetoric from Trump, there`s real lives at stake, right now with the Democratic administration, thank you for addressing that.

Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, he`s a supporter of Bernie Sanders, Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois who supports Hillary Clinton -- gentlemen, thank you both, appreciate it.

ELLISON: Thank you, Chris.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Still to come, how having Trump at the top of the ticket could hurt Republicans seeking re-election. I`ll talk with a Democrat running against one of those Republican incumbents, perhaps the most vulnerable, just ahead.

But, first, why is the Trump campaign disavowing Trump`s former butler. That truly insane story starts right after this break.


HAYES: Over the past decade, "The New York Times" has developed a bit of a beat on presidential candidates and their so-called butlers. The series started in 2004 when "The Times" looked at one of John Kerry`s staffers in a piece headlined "Part Butler and Part Buddy: Aide Keeps Kerry Running." A profile told the story of Marvin Nicholson Jr., the man ready with an uncapped bottle of water whenever Mr. Kerry`s throat runs dry.

Over a decade later, the paper came out with an eye-opening profile of Donald Trump`s butler at this Mar-a-Lago estate. Although we should be more specific, Anthony Secenal resigned as Butler in 2009 and now functions, according to "The New York Times", as, quote, "a kind of unofficial historian of Mar-a-Lago."

The 74-year-old told the paper he worked for Trump nearly 30 years and he shared several interesting tidbits like how the staff came to view Trump`s choice of hats as a mood ring of sorts. "If the cap was white, the boss was in a good mood. If it was red, it was best to stay away."

The piece describes how over the decades, Senecal had grown close to the Trump family. The man who understands Mr. Trump`s sleeping patterns and how he likes his stake -- well done.

That profile certainly shows you one side of the man. But if you were Facebook friends with Trump`s butler, you were treated to another side. And that`s now a problem for the presumptive nominee. Do not go anywhere. We will bring you that after this break.


HAYES: OK, so today we learned 74-year-old Anthony Senecal, the man previously known to the world as the former butler and affable house historian of Trump`s Miralago estate, who says he`s worked with Trump for nearly 30 years, also kept a Facebook page filled with hateful and threatening statements about President Obama.

Mother Jones, who first broke the story, revealed dozens and dozens of unbelievably disturbing quotes written by Anthony Senecal. Two such comments from May 23, 2015, less than a month before Trump declared his candidacy, read, quote, "Joseph, I hate to say it again, but I feel it is time for the second American revolution. The only way we will change this crooked government is to bleep it. This might be the time with this Kenyan fraud in power."

Another one, "not me, Terry, with the last breath I draw I will help rid America of the scum infested in its government and if that means dragging that bleepless bleephead from the White Mosque and hanging his scrawny bleep from the portico, count me in."

Today, NBC News spoke to Senecal and when asked on the record with a reporter about issues he has with President Obama that led him to say the military should take him out, he restated his explicit threat.


ANTHONY SENECAL, FORMER TRUMP BUTLER: There`s more than some issues with him. He`s a (EXPLETIVE DELTED) damn traitor. Traitor, period, that`s the way I feel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you think that that`s I guess what should be done with traitors?

SENECAL: I think he ought to be hung. I think he should be hung. I think he should be hung next to hillary Clinton. And I think it should be public. I think it should be televised. I think it ought to be done from the portico of the White Mosque.

It used to be the White House.


HAYES: Senecal then went on to say that we should bomb cities like Detroit and Milwaukee, which have been, quote, "totally disgraced" by Muslims.


SENECAL: And I actually think that we should designate those as nuclear bomb sites.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you mean?

SENECAL: We need to bomb them out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even though they`re in the U.S..

SENECAL: I could care less if they`re in the U.S. I don`t want them in the u.S. They don`t belong here. They belong in the sand dunes where they came from.


HAYES: Senecal noted to NBC News that he had not shared his views on President Obama with Trump.

Today, the Trump campaign said in a statement he does not work at Miralago, hasn`t in many years. We totally disavow and condemn these horrible statements.

But we should point out that Senecal was interviewed and photographed by The New York Times and NBC News at the Miralago estate earlier this year.

The Secret Service, meanwhile, put out a statement saying the U.S. Secret Service is aware of this matter and will conduct the appropriate investigation.

Joining me now is David Corn, MSNBC political analyst, Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones, where he broke the story of Trump`s one-time butler`s threatening Facebook message about the president, not a sentence I was suspecting to utter.

Who tipped you off? How did you find this?

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: I have somebody who basically stumbled across one of his posts on Facebook and sent it to me and said you should look further into this. And I did. I spent more hours than I care to admit scrolling back through Tony Senecal`s timeline yesterday and found a host of remarks. The first one I was tipped off to was the recent one in which he said the military in Obama`s first term should have taken Obama out and shot him as an enemy agent.

And as I went back through his timeline, I found other remarks in which he called for the president to be killed and lots of other extreme, hateful remarks about Obama, his wife, Hillary Clinton, and even Republican leaders. A lot of remarks that some people consider racist and really a host of statements that are anti-muslim.

I wish I could recite some of them for you. They are in the piece. People can read them at But I don`t want get in trouble here with standards and practices.

HAYES: Well, so -- okay, so -- who cares, right? I mean, that`s the question here. People have associates or employees.

CORN: Right.

HAYES: If this was a guy who was a caddie at one of Trump`s golf courses, who knows -- there`s all sorts of people who have all sorts of politics. Why do you think this is a story?

CORN: Well, he is at this moment the in-house historian at Miralago. I mean, Hope Hicks and others have said he has nothing to do with them, but he claims -- and this was in The New York Times Story that came out a couple of months ago, and it wasn`t contradicted, that when he gave up his duties at butler in 2009, actually as he told me he wanted to resign at the time and Donald Trump said, no, no, don`t resign, stop acting as butler and be our in-house historian.

And he tells me he still works at Miralago. He`s not on the payroll, but he conducts tours there and he`s paid by the people who go on the tours for that activity.

So in some ways he`s still a contractor for Trump at the estate. And so that`s kind of important. And I think it`s just interesting to note the type of support and the type of people that Donald Trump surrounds himself with, or probably in a more psychological sense, Chris, the type of activity and sentiment that he seems to be enabling. He`s really letting people come forward with their full resentments and hatreds and they are not feeling shy about voicing them in the aftermath of Donald Trump`s announcement.

HAYES: Well, I will say this, Mr. Senecal to his credit said those statements on the record and owned them. So, you have them there. David Corn, thanks so much for joining me. Appreciate it.

CORN: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Up next, amidst calls for Donald Trump to release his taxes you might be surprised by one of the names chiming in. Stick around.


HAYES: In the heat of the presidential campaign of 2012, then-senate majority leader Harry Reid went to the floor of the senate and did this to mitt Romney.


SEN. HARRY REID, (D) NEVADA: He`s refused to release his tax returns as we know. So the word`s out he hasn`t paid any taxes for ten years. Let them prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn`t.


HAYES: The word`s out. Harry Reid didn`t offer any evidence that Romney paid no taxes for ten years, only claiming in a statement "I was told by an extremely credible source" that Romney has not paid taxes in ten years.

Romney had released at that point some recent returns, but was under tremendous pressure to release tax returns prior to 2010. Reid`s bombshell accusations only increased that pressure. And when Romney did finally release summary information on his taxes going back 20 years, he was able to prove he did actually pay taxes, just at a sometimes ridiculously low rate of about 14 percent, which is probably what he was hoping to avoid everyone seeing.

Now, it is under Donald Trump -- it is Donald Trump under pressure to release tax returns and you`ll never believe who is using the Harry Reid move on him. I`ll tell you in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: After suffering through a humiliating battle with his own tax returns it is Matt Romney who now seems to be using the tactics of Senator Harry Reid by dangling the idea that Donald Trump is hiding a bombshell in his tax returns. And not just any bombshell, the bombshell of unusual size.

Romney issued a Facebook post saying it would be disqualifying for Trump to not release his returns and he went on to very helpfully explain why, quote, "tax returns provide the public with its sole confirmation of the veracity of a candidate`s pepresentations regarding charities, priorities, wealth, tax conformance, and conflicts of interest. Further, while not a likely circumstance, the potential for hidden, inappropriate associations with foreign entities, criminal organizations, or other unsavory groups is simply too great a risk to ignore for someone who`s seeking to become commander-in-chief. There`s only one logical explanation for Mr. Trump`s refusal to release his returns: there is a bombshell in them. Given Mr. Trump`s equanimity with other flaws in his history, we can only assume it`s a bombshell of unusual size."


HAYES: One of the big issues that`s probably in the back of House Speaker Paul Ryan`s mind when it comes to his relationship with Donald Trump is how to preserve the Republican Party`s congressional majority.

There have been suggestions that Trump on the ticket could be harmful for down-ballot races and there`s certainly concern on the Senate side.

One of the vulnerable incumbent Republicans running for re-election is Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. Back in July last year, just a month after Trump announced his run for the presidency, Senator Kirk had a message for the candidate.


SEN. MARK KIRK, (R) ILLINOIS: I would say one thing in the Spanish, and there`s a good Spanish word for it -- callate to Trump, which is shut up. In a typical Chicago way to my Mexican-American friends I would say, Donald Trump callate, shut up.


HAYES: kirk later said he would support the Republican nominee even if it is Trump. However, since Trump has become the presumptive nominee, Kirk and his staff have been avoiding the subject, quote, "we`re not doing any Trump questions today," said a Kirk aide earlier this week, nor were they answering any questions about Trump`s visit to the Hill today.

Joining me now, a person looking to unseat Senator Kirk in November, congresswoman Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Democratic candidate for Senate.

Well, I guess my first question to you is how does it -- what does it mean to you that Trump is the presumptive nominee? Are you running against Donald Trump or are you running against Mark Kirk?

REP. TAMMY DUCKWORTH, D-IL, CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: Well, what Trump does for the down ballot races like Mark Kirk is that he forces them to answer for many of the misogynist, sexist, racist comments that he`s made. And he also highlights their own sexist, misogynist, and racist comments that they`ve made.

You know, -- yeah, mark Kirk has said that he`ll support Donald Trump. He actually said that he would be a net positive. At the same time he`s running away from him and says he won`t go to the Republican convention because he`ll be doing his hair that week.

But, you know. When Donald Trump says that he thinks that women would make equal pay as men if they would just perform as well, it reminds the voters on down-ballot races that Mark kirk actually said that the equal pay legislation was the most sexist piece of legislation that he`d ever seen.

So, I think that Donald Trump is not good news for those down-ballot races on the Republican side. And it actually exposes how extreme much of the rhetoric is beyond Donald Trump himself and among these very candidates.

HAYES: I want to ask you a question about something that Donald Trump has brought up on the trail a lot. And it`s played in your race with Mark Kirk.

You, of course, are a veteran. You served in Iraq. You also worked in the Department of Veteran Affairs. Donald Trump has these sweeping statement saying, we`re going to be so good to the vets, just so good to them. There`s been nothing as far as I can tell substantively around that.

As someone who really knows this issue pretty well, what do you make of that?

DUCKWORTH: Well, remember, this man wants to become commander-in-chief of the greatest military on the face of the effort. But this is also the man who said that John McCain was not a hero. And as a veteran I am deeply offended that he would question John McCain`s heroism simply because he was a prisoner of war.

In fact, John McCain is a hero precisely because of how he conducted himself -- the courage, the tenacity, the leadership he showed as a prisoner of war. And to be leading the greatest military in the face of the worth Earth and look at the men and women who will be put into harm`s way, who may potentially become POWs, and say sorry, you become a POW, you`re not a real hero, that`s a problem.

He`s also said things like military sexual trauma is to be expected. Really? You know, our women in uniform are some of the most heroic women that our nation have. And to tell them to expect military sexual trauma, that is not acceptable.

You know, this is not acceptable behavior for a commander-in-chief. I don`t see how a man who claims that he feels like he`s a veteran because he spent time at a military prep school can really have any legitimacy.

And you know, Chris, you can look this up, I`m not someone who tolerates people who claim veteran status from military prep school attendance.

HAYES: Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, appreciate your time. Thank you.

DUCKWORTH: Thank you.

HAYES: Still ahead, as the Clinton camp prepares to fight some of the same battles they faced in the `90s I`ll talk with a man who quite literally wrote the book on it. Clinton confidante Sidney Blumenthal joins me right after this break.


HAYES: In the paranoid imaginings of those who imagine a nefarious cabal surrounding Hillary Clinton, few figures loom as large as personal friend and one-time aid Sidney Blumenthal whose private emails to then secretary of state became a focal point in the politically motivated furor over Benghazi.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have an ambassador and three other Americans who died while waiting for help, when she is emailing Sidney Blumenthal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Secretary, he had unfettered access to you, and he used that access to ask you to intervene on behalf of a business venture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This man upon who provided you so much information on Libya had access to you in ways that were very different than the access that a very senior diplomat had.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blumenthal, by the way, he her Yago. If she`s Othello, he`s Yago. He`s the one that is whispering in her ear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I`ll tell you what, if you think you have heard about Sidney Blumenthal so far, wait until the next round.


HAYES: Blumenthal started his career as a journalist working the Washington Post and The Republic and The New Yorker where he was Washington editor eventually going to work inside the Clinton White House in his second term.

His reputation as a D.C. operator and a master of the dark political arts would earn him the nickname Sid Vicious. And the distinction of being one of just three people, including Monica Lewinsky and Vernon Jordan to give a videotaped deposition in Bill Clinton`s impeachment trial.

After working on Hillary Clinton`s 2008 campaign and taking a job at the Clinton Foundation, Blumenthal became the kind of freelance adviser and intelligence provider to Clinton while she was at the State Department.

Much of their personal correspondence turning up in the batches of emails released from Clinton`s private server.

Sidney Blumenthal joins me now. He`s the author of the new book a "Self- Made Man: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln," just out this week, which I`ve just been told is the first of four volumes. SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL, AUTHOR: It is.

HAYES: All right, let me ask you a question about Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln created the Republican Party and it was one of these moments where one party dies and a new one is born. He left the Whigs and he created the Republican Party.

Is that what we`re seeing right now?

BLUMENTHAL: We are seeing the Republican Party go the way of the Whigs.

HAYES: You really think so?

BLUMENTHAL: Over the same issues -- race and immigration.

This isn`t slavery, but Donald Trump bears the original sin of birtherism. And he hasn`t repudiated it. And, his anti-immigration nativism is exactly what broke about the old Whig Party, and led to the creation of the know- nothings which then assumed the identity of a he political party that called itself The Americans, as in make America great again.

HAYES: That`s right, they spun off themselves. They were sort of short- lived and would eventually become extinct.

I want to ask you about -- I know that you have said in other interviews you`re not going to talk about emails specifically, because there`s an FBI investigation. But here`s what I do want to ask you, when you were emailing with Secretary Clinton at that time and you were emailing her on that address, was there any part of you that noted it, that thought to yourself that this was not the .gov address, maybe I should be doing that?

BLUENTHAL: No, I didn`t give it any thought.

HAYES: No thought at all. This just was where you emailed the secretary.

BLUMENTHAL: That was the email address I had. That`s where I emailed her.

HAYES: You have spent a lot of time with the Clintons. You have spent a lot of time with the Clintons in what I would say is the bunker, meaning at moments when they are receiving a lot of incoming -- impeachment, particularly, 2008, of course, which was hotly contested.

What do you think about how these next six months are going to play out, given the fact that three days into being to presumptive nominee, Donald Trump seems intent on centering Bill Clinton`s actions in the 90s as the center of this campaign.

BLUMENTHAL: Well, if you`re going to start, you know, dredging the gutters of the past, it`s hard to imagine where you are going to wind up. Maybe we all ought to get raincoats to get through the next six months.

But, let`s think about this, Trump is completely inconsistent on policy day-to-day. And the only thing that is consistent is his smears and bigotry. He also is having a difficult time right now pivoting to creating a national campaign. Forget about the ephemeral polls, the whole Paul Ryan thing is about something much larger.

He has run a campaign in which he expresses the Republican party leadership, that`s what`s fueled him. Now he`s got to create a national campaign. He has no real campaign organization. He has a bunch of yes men around him, some family members. He has never created an enterprise, despite what some people think, that is larger than that.

So how does he do that? How does he scale up? That is a really difficult problem that Reince Priebus faces, that Paul Ryan faces as well as the problem of his repudiation of not only every one of the party of Lincoln, but virtually every one of the party of Reagan except large tax cuts for the wealthy.

HAYES: And yet he is now going to probably, it appears, to face Hillary Clinton who has a few things going for her. She is -- obviously has probably one of the most impressive resumes of anyone that`s run for president in terms of just the variety of experience she brings to the table. She also has very high negatives. Those favorability ratings are low historically. In fact, they would be historically low were it not for Donald Trump.

How do you understand that? And how movable is that?

BLUMENTHAL: I think that some of the negatives will move once the Democratic primary process ends and the party unifies.

HAYES: So, you think part of that is ephemeral?

BLUMENTHAL: i think part of it has to do with the contentiousness between Bernie Sanders and Hillary, and that when the party comes together, which I believe it will, then I think a good deal of that, or some of it will end.

Obviously, the hostility to Hillary from a lot of Republicans and from Trump is not going to end.

And I also think that a lot of the problems that have arisen from the email controversy and eventually Benghazi committee will file its report, but I think that`s a real aftermath of I think the whole Benghazi committee belongs to the past of the campaign.

But once the email business is resolved, then I think some of that will fall off, but not all of it. And then I think the question is what are the stakes?

And I think that is the essential presentation of the campaign. And it is to get back to Lincoln, a house divided against itself cannot stand. And then he said, the country will be all one thing or the other. And those are the real stakes here in this election, which is one of our decisive historical elections.

HAYES: Do you still email with Hillary Clinton?

BLUMENTHAL: Do I still email with Hillary Clinton? We`re friends.

HAYES: You can answer that.

BLUMENTHAL: No, no, we`re -- we have been friends for 30 years.

HAYES: All right, Sidney Blumenthal. The book is "A Self-Made Man." Abraham lincoln is the first of a four-volume biography you have been working on for quite sometime.

BLUMENTHAL: nearly a decade.

HAYES: Nearly a decade.

All right a great time to meet you in person. And finally have you on.

BLUMENTHAL: Nice to be here, Chris.

HAYES: That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.