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All In With Chris Hayes, Transcript, 5/26/2016

Guests: Robert Cavnar, AJ Delgado, Rick Wilson, Bob Garfield

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: May 26, 2016 Guest: Robert Cavnar, AJ Delgado, Rick Wilson, Bob Garfield


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

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This man, who is an unqualified loose cannon, is within reach of the most important job of the world.

HAYES: Donald Trump crosses the threshold with his trademark grace and dignity.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who? Pocahontas? Look. She is offensive.

REPORTER: Is that offensive?

REPORTER: That`s very offensive.

TRUMP: You tell me. Oh, I`m sorry about that. Pocahontas?

HAYES: Trump`s response to President Obama --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The world pays attention to the U.S. elections. They`re rattled by them, and for good reason.

HAYES: And his promise to Bernie Sanders.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump has agreed to debate me, and I look forward to that.

TRUMP: I`d love to debate Bernie. He`s a dream.

HAYES: Plus, we`ll analyze Trump`s deep dive on energy policy.

TRUMP: The windmills are killing hundreds and hundreds of eagles.

HAYES: And why he`s desperate to reach Chris Christie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disability pension. I met all the criteria except --

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


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

And Donald Trump crossed the threshold today, hitting the magic number of delegates required for the GOP presidential nomination in our own NBC delegate count. Trump has now secured the majority of the Republican delegates up for grabs, thanks to a group of unbound delegates newly pledging their support to them.

Trump won`t be the party`s official nominee until the convention in July but his once unthinkable ascent to the nomination is now all but assured.

And Hillary Clinton offered a warning this afternoon in a phone interview with our own Chuck Todd.


CLINTON (via telephone): I know Donald Trump says outrageous things all the time, but today he has officially clinched the Republican nomination, so this is now as real as it gets, and this man, who is an unqualified loose cannon, is within reach of the most important job of the world.


HAYES: Trump celebrated today by posting a picture of himself with a meal from McDonald`s on his private jet. No word on whether he actually ate that burger.

He also held a press conference in Bismarck, North Dakota, where he addressed reporters against a backdrop of Republican delegates and shortly before giving a speech on energy. The first question at Trump concern comments that President Obama made in Japan early this morning about how world leaders view the presumptive GOP nominee.


OBAMA: They are not sure how seriously to take some of his pronouncements, but they`re rattled by him and for good reason, because a lot of the proposals that he`s made display either ignorance of world affairs or a cavalier attitude or an interest in getting tweets and headlines instead of actually thinking through what it is that is required to keep America safe and secure and prosperous and what`s required to keep the world on an even keel.


HAYES: Asked about the president`s comments, Trump casts a notion that world leaders are rattled as a positive.


TRUMP: That`s good. Is that right? That`s good. I love that word. He used a bad word because he doesn`t know nothing about business. When you rattle someone, that`s a good thing. If they`re rattled in a friendly way, that`s a good thing, John, not a bad thing.


HAYES: World leaders aren`t the only one who are rattled. A new poll finds that 78 percent of citizens in France, Germany, the U.K., Mexico, Canada and Japan believe Trump`s political views makes the world less safe. Later in his conference, Trump showed off his signature diplomatic grace when he was asked about Senator Elizabeth Warren who has been sharply critical of Trump.


REPORTER: Elizabeth Warren, she seems to have made it her job --

TRUMP: Who? Pocahontas? Look.

REPORTER: Is that offensive?

REPORTER: That`s a very offensive.

TRUMP: I`m sorry about that. Pocahontas? What did you say?


HAYES: Trump was also pressed in an interview that his campaign chairman and chief strategist Paul Manafort gave to "The Huffington Post", in which Manafort said not to take Trump`s proposed Muslim ban seriously. He`s already started moderating on that, Manafort said. He operates by starting the conversation at the outer edges and brings it back towards the middle, within his comfort zone he`ll soften it some more.

Asked about Manafort`s comments and the Muslim, Trump said, quote, "We`re going to look at a lot of different things, so who knows?"

Manafort was also quoted saying for his running mate, Trump probably wouldn`t pick a woman or person of color, quote, "in fact, that would be viewed as pandering, I think."

Asked if that was indeed his view, Trump offered up this word salad.


TRUMP: No, I think it`s likely that we would have somebody but we don`t do it for any specific reason. We`re looking for absolute competence. I fully expect we`ll have many women involved with not only -- I mean, I`ve had it with the campaign, but we`re going to have many women involved and I think you`re going to see that and you`re going to see that very strongly.


HAYES: Manafort`s off-message comments reflect what sure looks like a genuinely chaotic campaign, one struggling a deal with the candidate that appears simply cannot be managed. Last night, the Trump campaign announced that national political director Rick Wiley, a seasoned GOP hand, was no longer with the campaign. He worked for Trump for all of six weeks.

And joining me now, MSNBC political analyst Robert Costa, national political reporter for "The Washington Post".

And, Robert, here you`ve got the guy within a span of 24 hours, he`s clinched it officially, and he fired the one sort of real genuine veteran political professional who had been brought in the organization to build a 21st century political organization.

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: But, Chris, as we all know at the center of this campaign is one strategist, Donald Trump. And he has a warring campaign in some ways with Paul Manafort, and Corey Lewandowski, each having their own camps. Rick Riley didn`t have a relationship with the candidate. He found himself vulnerable. But we see this campaign continuing to barreling forward, Trump at the center being the key player and the decision-maker.

HAYES: What`s the deal? It seems like "Game of Thrones" over that campaign. Let me say covering a lot of campaigns, they`re all "Game of Thrones." It is classic campaigns, they`re the office politics and campaigns are legendarily brutal. This one seems more brutal than usual.

COSTA: It`s a different kind of campaign because it`s very small in size. If you compare Trump to Secretary Clinton`s operation in Brooklyn, it`s just a shrunken operation in Trump Tower, comparatively from most national campaigns.

In Manafort, you have someone who`s of Trump`s generation, who`s building relationships in Washington, doesn`t have as close a rapport with Trump as Lewandowski, who`s been at Trump`s side each and every month for the past year. But they`re both useful to Trump in different ways. They don`t get along for the most part, however, but they seem to be operating for a moment in a way that`s somewhat peaceful.

HAYES: All right. You want -- Paul Ryan is continuing as a sort of consolidation map, you saw those delegates smiling in North Dakota today, some of them interviewed later weren`t particularly big Donald Trump fans but, hey, this is the way things are going. Paul Ryan continues his will he or won`t he routine. He had a phone call with Trump last night.

Take a listen to what he had to say.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It was a productive phone call. Like I said, we`ve had these conversations. Our staffs have been meeting and we had a very good and very productive phone call. I`ll leave it at that.

We`ve had a very productive phone call. I`ll leave it at that.

What I`m most concerned about is making sure we actually have real party unity, not pretend party unity. Real party unity because we need to win this election in the fall. There`s too much at stake, the Supreme Court, on and on and on I could go.

The point is, I want real party and that`s what I`m most concerned about.


HAYES: What`s the exit strategy for Ryan here?

COSTA: I mean, it`s played out before. Ryan comes out of the conservative movement. There`s a group on the right that`s never going to come to Trump, never going to embrace him should they decide to, quote, "support the nominee."

I think Trump, though, he`s not making overtures in trying to win over parties. He`s not a partisan figure. He`s barely an ideological figure. He`s a populist and when you look at the interactions behind the scenes between a lot of Trump and Ryan people, there`s a sense they would like to see party unity but both sides don`t really care if it actually happens.

HAYES: When you say that, do you think we`ll actually go into Cleveland with Ryan not actually endorsing him?

COSTA: I think that`s very possible. There may be a semiformal endorsement once he gets the nomination, but this is not going to be something that`s done with gusto.

HAYES: All right. Robert Costa, thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

COSTA: Thank you.

HAYES: Three days ago, Hillary Clinton campaign said Clinton would not debate Bernie Sanders in California, before that state`s primary on June 7th. But that does not necessarily mean the debates are over. Donald Trump is now saying he would, quote, "love to debate Sanders under the right circumstances."

Trump was asked about the possibility of debating Sanders last night by Jimmy Kimmel and suggested he was open to it. Sanders then tweeted, "Game on. I look forward to debating Donald Trump in California before the June 7th primary." Trump`s campaign told reporters that Trump was only joking.

But it sure didn`t sound that way when Trump was asked about the possible debate today.


TRUMP: What we`ll do is if we can raise for maybe women`s health issues or something, if we can raise $10 million or $15 million for charity, which would be a very appropriate amount. I understand that television business very well, I think we would get very high ratings. It should be in a big arena somewhere and we could have a lot of fun with it.

The biggest problem I have is Bernie is not going to win. But I would debate him anyway if they wanted to put up money for charity. So, we`ll see. We`ve actually had a couple of calls from the networks already.


HAYES: Sanders responded by saying he`s delighted at the prospect of debating Trump and that he wants to do it in the biggest stadium as possible.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary Clinton has not agreed to debate me here in California so I look forward to debating Mr. Trump on that, because I think it`s important that somebody hold him to task for his outrageously bigoted remarks against Mexicans, and Latinos, against Muslims, against women, against veterans, against African- Americans and tell him to his face that the strength of our country is our diversity, is our coming together.


HAYES: Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst, Howard Dean, former Vermont governor, former chair of the DNC, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton.

A lot of Clinton supporters really did not like this idea. They felt it was exclusionary, that it was a stunt, that it was Bernie Sanders going off the rails and who know as what will happen. What is your take on this?

HOWARD DEAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it`s spectacular. It certainly is exclusionary and it certainly is going off the rails. I think that wacko Donald as I now call him because we`re all taking of Trump`s tradition, wacko Donald is going to chicken out. I think he`s afraid to debasement Sanders will clean his clock. It`s not going to change the outcome of the race at all.

The risk is substantial. That`s why you saw Sanders campaign, people trying to run away -- excuse me, Trump`s campaign, people trying to run away from this as fast as possible. I think it would be a great spectacle. And I guarantee you, I`d get up at 3:00 in the morning just to watch it.

HAYES: Well, the point you made there is a key one, because Sanders, the Sanders folks are serious. I mean, they want to debate.

DEAN: I know they are.

HAYES: Yes. And they want the air time right now, particularly as they head down the stretch to this. They`re not going to get a debate against the primary opponent of Hillary Clinton. And to a certain extent, you can understand Trump folks wanting to inflate Bernie Sanders as a way to sort of needling Hillary Clinton.

But you could tell Donald Trump when he raised the price today, he said $10 million, then $15 million, trying to name a price that was going to be insurmountable so that he wouldn`t have to actually do it.

DEAN: Right. This is so typical of wacko Donald. He gets out there with his proposal, somebody calls his bluff, and then he finesses and dissembles and backs away.

The only problem is you shouldn`t have a guy like that as president of the United States who`s going to back away from tough people. And I guarantee, no matter how tough Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are, Vladimir Putin is plenty tough too. I don`t think the country can risk having Donald Trump as president.

But this is going to be a lot of fun. I hope it happens. I don`t think there`s any downside risk for Hillary Clinton. I think there`s an upside possibility for Bernie. I think Bernie Sanders would clean wacko Donald`s absolute clock.

HAYES: Well, here`s the thing. I also thought that it would be, when people talk about what is the Sanders -- what happens, you know, after the primaries are finished, after we sort of go to, you know, maybe before we go to Philadelphia, certainly after Philadelphia, what is Bernie Sanders` role? What is his role in this campaign should he not be the nominee, which looks exceedingly likely at this point?

This to me would be a sort of fascinating moment in viewing what that could look like.

DEAN: Sure. I mean, Bernie could do what Elizabeth Warren is doing, which is fry Trump every day. Elizabeth Warren has gotten under Trump`s skin, which is incredibly thin.

And so, that would be a great role for Bernie. I actually think Bernie is going have a huge movement at his back after this is all done with. I thought it was a very, very good thing that they came to an agreement on the platform, with a couple of exceptions. Those are very solid people on both sides who understand politics, understand issues. I was very pleased by the coming together of the Hillary camp and the Bernie camp on a platform committee agreement.

HAYES: Do you want to name who those exceptions are?

DEAN: No. And they`re not bad people. I know them. I know almost everybody on there. Some are a little less political than others.

But people like Keith Ellison are just outstanding. Jim Zogby, you know, I know the press plays him up as a Palestinian advocate. I`ve known this guy for years. He`s an Arab American. He`s a very thoughtful guy.

Hillary`s got some incredibly smart thoughtful people on her side. Barbara Lee is probably the left of Bernie Sanders. So, I think it`s a great group and I give both sides a lot of credit for putting this together and making this happen.

That`s a big deal, a big step toward what has to be unity in order to beat Trump. Trump is a real candidate. He may be a nut, as wacko Donald as we call him. But he`s a real candidate, and he could win. And we have to take this seriously.

HAYES: Finally this. One of the challenges, I think, is Trump makes himself always accessible. I mean, he`s constantly getting interviews. He`s constantly on TV.

The Clinton campaign has not had that same instinct. And today, it was notable to me that the secretary called Chuck Todd`s show, she called on Wolf Blitzer.

Do you think that the secretary and the Clinton campaign will need to be more accessible with the candidate down the stretch of this campaign if Trump remains as accessible as he is?

DEAN: I don`t think so. Look. Every candidate is different and every candidate relates to the press differently and the press always wants as much accessibility as possible and sometimes that gets counterproductive.


DEAN: So, each candidate is going to do their own thing. I think Trump is getting himself in trouble. He won the nomination because he was so accessible to the press. The problem is he doesn`t make any sense.

When you get closer and closer to the election, it`s very hard to vote for someone as you very aptly said in the program talked word salad most of the time.

HAYES: All right. Howard Dean, thanks for being with me. Appreciate it.

DEAN: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Still to come, just how much damage did Chris Christie`s failed run and the subsequent Trump backing due to the governor`s approval rating? New polling is out and it is brutal.

But, first, Donald Trump makes a rare scripted policy speech today addressing energy. Although there might be more to learn from his unscripted comments before the speech. Those remarks are just two minutes away.



TRUMP: But largely, we can eliminate the Department of Education. Department of Environmental -- I mean, DEP is killing us environmentally. It`s just killing our businesses.


HAYES: That was Donald Trump last month apparently trying to refer to the environmental protection agency.

Today in Bismarck, North Dakota, Trump gave a speech devoted to energy and the environment -- one of those rare so-called policy addresses in which he employs a teleprompter and borrows heavily from Republican orthodoxy. The news conference prior to the speech and teleprompter, Trump was asked questions about his energy policy. And perhaps it was there we got a better idea of the grasp of the subject, whether he was in favor of the Upland pipeline that would run from North Dakota to Canada, a pipeline that TransCanada, that`s the same company behind the Keystone XL Pipeline will seek approval for.

Trump hadn`t heard of the pipeline, eventually admitted as much. But his rambling and his approach to that and other questions is a reminder of where he is most comfortable.


TRUMP: Do you like the idea?

REPORTER: I agree.

TRUMP: No, no, do you like the idea as a reporter? You`re not supposed to say this, but that`s OK.

My basic bias would be to approve. I want to approve for jobs. The concept of pipelines is okay if they`re going from the right place to right place, OK?

Bernie is going to ban fracking. Hillary is going to ban fracking. Hillary is going to abolish the Second Amendment, OK, just in case you have any questions.

We`re going to have all sorts of energy. We`re going to have everything you can think of, including solar. And there are places maybe for wind. But if you go to various places in California, wind is killing all the eagles. If you shoot an eagle, you`ll kill an eagle, they`ll put you in jail for five years and yet the windmills are killing hundreds and hundreds of eagles, one of the most beautiful, one of the most treasured birds.


HAYES: OK, for the record, while Sanders believes in banning fracking, Hillary definitely does not, nor that she wants to abolish the Second Amendment. And while there are avian related fatalities from wind turbine, a 2014 review found wind turbines killed fewer birds than cats and cell towers. It`s unclear if Trump is against cats or cell towers.

Trump later delivered his policy speech in the annual Williston Basin Petroleum Conference. And make no mistake, he was there to serve up a wish list for the Republican establishment, for oil and coal and fracking interests and the kind of agenda that might come from any sort of generic, run-of-the-mill Republican politician when it comes to energy policy.


TRUMP: Here is my 100-day action plan. We`re going to rescind all the job-destroying, Obama executive actions.

We`re going to save the coal industry. We`re going to save that coal industry, believe.

I`m going to ask TransCanada to renew its permit application for the Keystone pipeline. We`re going to lift moratoriums on energy production in federal areas.

We`re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop all payments of the United States tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.

My America first energy plan will do for American people what Hillary Clinton will never do.


HAYES: Joining me now, oil and gas industry expert, Bob Cavnar, also contributor to "The Huffington Post," author of "Disaster on the Horizon."

Bob, you spent your life and career in this industry. What did you make of the speech today?

ROBERT CAVNAR, OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY EXPERT/HUFFINGTON POST: Well, after listening to the whole speech and frankly this is the first one I was able to sit all the way through. I was getting a nervous twitch at the end. Just all the slogan strung together.

No one in the industry believes the things that he`s saying and no serious person actually thinks this is an energy policy. Basically, Trump did what he always does in front of a crowd. He panders to that particular crowd, and this was an oil and gas conference in North Dakota for the Williston Basin. So, of course, he was pandering to that crowd.

So, stringing all those slogans together didn`t form any kind of policy at all.

HAYES: You know, it struck me also how detached it was from the reality of what`s happening in the energy industry, which is fascinating on its own right. He talks about coal. He`s going to bring the coal jobs back, you know, and there`s this idea of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama together have destroyed coal.

I mean, coal is getting crushed not by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama but by the price of natural gas and those jobs are not coming back.

CAVNAR: That`s exactly right, Chris, because now coal is actually falling behind natural gas in world electrical generation. Natural gas is the fuel that`s being used for all the new plants. Coal is dirty, coal is tough to transport. It`s kind of the bottom of the food chain for fuels.

So, coal has gone down and declined in demand because natural gas is a much better fuel than coal. It had nothing to do with the regulations. As a matter of fact, in Wyoming, where almost half of our subbituminous coals is mined is essentially controlled by the coal industry. It`s a very friendly state to coal and those companies in Wyoming now are going bankrupt because there`s just no demand for their fuel.

HAYES: It also was striking to me that this speech barely did not talk about climate at all except to say he`s going to renege on Paris, he`s going to stop any contributions to the U.N. there wasn`t a huge run of denialism. But I mean if you`re talking about energy in the future. You cannot have that conversation unless you`re talking about climate.

CAVNAR: You can`t have that conversation about energy without talking about climate and you can`t talk about an energy without a comprehensive energy policy. We`re the only country in the world who doesn`t have a comprehensive energy policy, which includes conservation and deficiencies of renewables, and all those things reduce the carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

Trump didn`t address those today and no serious person can have a conversation about policy without talking about those very things. His slogan shouldn`t be, "let`s make America great again". His slogan should be "let`s take America back to 1940", because that`s what he`s proposing.

HAYES: All right. Bob Cavnar, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

CAVNAR: Good to be with you.

HAYES: Coming up, while Trump attempts to resurrect old Clinton scandals, today, shocking news about the man who led the investigation into Bill Clinton, resulting in Bill Clinton`s impeachment. That`s right after this short break.


HAYES: Donald Trump reviving the Clinton era scandal mongering of the 1990s, specifically going after Bill Clinton`s alleged behavior towards women, it was amusing to see this "New York Times" headline a couple of days ago about Kenneth Starr, who`s relentless pursuit of the Clintons helped fuel the paranoid culture of the era and led ultimately to the president`s impeachment.

Now, according to "The Times", Starr is full of praise for Bill Clinton, expressing regret over what he euphemistically terms, quote, "the unpleasantness". If nothing else, the timing seemed a little bit curious.

Then today came another headline, Baylor University where Starr was appointed president in 2010 has now demoted him and fired its champion football coach after an independent investigation found systemic, institutional failure to address repeated accusations and sexual assaults against football players.

It`s quite the coda to Ken Starr`s legacy. The man made famous for his years-long inquisition into the consensual sexual affair between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

Now, back in the news, presiding over an institution that according to the findings, ignored or hushed up allegations of misconduct, failed to hold players accountable, and at least one case actually retaliated against an accuser. Starr will keep his job as university chancellor and professor at the law school.

Still ahead, regardless of Starr`s feelings about `90s era Clinton hysteria, Donald Trump clearly believes those decades-old scandals are fertile ground for new attacks on Hillary Clinton, his likely opponent to the general election. He`s not the first Republican to think so. Back when Clinton first ran for Senate in New York, a GOP consultant did some research on how voters would respond to those kinds of attacks and he joins me next.



TRUMP: I really know nothing about the Vince Foster situation. Somebody asked me the question about it the other day and I said that a lot of people are skeptical as to what happened and how he died. I don`t think it`s something that, frankly -- unless some evidence to the contrary of what I`ve seen comes up, I don`t think it`s something that should really be part of the campaign.

But, again, if you people reveal something to me, I`ll answer it the appropriate way.


HAYES: Donald Trump at his press conference today continuing to flirt with some nasty and long debunked conspiracy theories seeming to implicate Bill and Hillary Clinton in the 1993 suicide of their very close friend Vince Foster, a White House aide and personal friend of the Clintons.

Trump sounded off on the subject, calling theories of possible foul play very serious and the circumstance of Foster`s death very fishy.

Citing, quote, people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. Foster`s sister, Sheila Foster Anthony, responded today in a heartbreaking op-ed in The Washington Post describing her brother`s battle with depression and his plea for help just before his death calling it, quote, beyond contempt that a politician would use a family tragedy to further his candidacy.

Now, we`re barely into the general election race and already Trump is resurrecting the culture of paranoia swirling around the Clintons in the 90s, much of it thoroughly discredited to raise questions about Hillary Clinton.

Just yesterday, Politico obtained an email from the Trump campaign intended for the RNC asking for dirt on the Whitewater investigation. Republicans have already been down this road. Back in 2000, strategist Rick Wilson was working on Rudy Giuliani`s senate campaign, a race Giuliani eventually dropped out of. And he conducted extensive polling, a focus groups testing attacks over the Clintons scandals in the 90s. What he found should not encourage the Trump campaign.

Rick Wilson joins me now.

And, Rick, Giuliani of course dropped out of the race. Rick Lazio ran. He was a congressman from New York. Hillary Clinton beat him and became the senator elected twice. What did you find back then, when all that stuff was much fresher in people`s minds?

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: We went out and had our pollster do -- focus groups and testing on a lot of these messages. And the sad or happy fact -- even though this was the time when he was -- Bill Clinton was two years outside of the scandal, he had been impeached, the whole thing -- and, frankly, all of it was in New York at least a complete blowback.

When you went into a focus group, or asked the voters in New York, hey, what do you think about us bringing up Bill Clinton having -- you know, the fact he`s chronic horn dog and would chase -- have sex with a couch if it slowed down long enough, but they pushed back on it immediately. They hated the fact that we were talking about Hillary`s personal his life. They had a directly opposite response to what you would think.

And it was not, oh, that woman, you know, she facilitated this. It was, oh, my god, that`s horrible. She practically deserves it now just because he`s been so bad to her.

And our pollster kept coming back to us with that kind of data over the course of this thing. And it was really something that was sort of an early lesson in this is that there`s a degree to which you can push that button but there`s also a degree to which people will start to reject it.

Again, those are the results from New York state. But you notice that Barack Obama didn`t run in 2008 based on pushing those buttons. You`ll notice that when she`s been tested before, people who have looked at the numbers and looked at these things in focus groups realize that you can`t make that argument as a centerpiece of your campaign and you certainly can`t go back and make all of this other stuff about real estate deals from the 1970s and `80s -- and, yes, all the Whitewater stuff, it`s all that gritty little sleazy hillbilly grift that they`re famous for, but no one cares about it at this point in the day.

HAYES: Without agreeing with the last sentence that you just uttered, let me ask you this. I mean, my instinct has been that this lesson was actually learned by Republicans and it was learned in 1998 and quite powerfully.


HAYES: I mean, the reason impeachment happened was because there was a sense that these folks were vulnerable and that a bunch of scandals in the Republican mind, a bunch of scandals had accrued. They had balled up into this gigantic unignorable sort of monstrosity and it was the polling of the impeachment itself that first, I thought, showed a sort of an entire generation of Republicans that there was a real backlash effect.

WILSON: Well, look. Here`s the thing. The minute it went from being something that was viewed as the appropriate response to Bill Clinton`s sexual predation in the White House and became...

HAYES: Again, that was a consensual affair, let me just say.

WILSON: It became viewed as a political lever against him, that`s when it started to blow back in the minds of the public.

And look, I have no beef with the Clintons, either one of them. But the fact is I`m into the utility of the actual political messaging and tools and strategies that work and that`s not one that worked. It frankly blew us out in `96. It was a contributing factor, you know, after the `94 revolution. We thought we were going to be in an upward arc for an awful long time. And we got into this whole discussion about Monica Lewinsky for half a decade and it did not help us in direct communication against the Clintons.

I mean George Bush learned a lesson when he basically said I am going to bring honor and dignity back to the White House. He stayed away from all the details. That message tested beautifully and he followed it almost rigidly in the course of the campaign because they knew it worked. They knew it was the appropriate way to do it.

You could short hand it for people. You didn`t have to beat them over the head with the fact, the story of the blue dress and all the other hoo-ha.

HAYES: You know, you`re also putting to a procedural issue here, which is that you`re talking about testing messages, you`re talking about focus group, you`re talking about stools people used. Trump very famously issues that -- and he`s been able I think to sort of put his finger on the pulse of a certain kind of voter in the Republican primary and it seems to me like he still has his finger on that particular pulse when he`s doing this kind of stuff.

WILSON: Yeah. If he doesn`t have the conspiracy theory Mena, Arkansas, Whitewater blue dress voter already, then we`re missing something. Those are his people already.

HAYES: Yeah.

WILSON: But, you know, beyond that group, not as much. Not as much of an effective message.

HAYES: All right, Rick Wilson. Thank you very much.

Coming up, what happens when you miss your moment. The long steep fall of Chris Christie. That story after this break.


HAYES: Cast your mind back to a different time almost five years ago. It was the fall of 2011 and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was in demand. Republicans across the country seeing him as their last great hope, lobbying him to enter the 2012 presidential race.

The pressure became so intense Christie addressed the issue at a press conference in Trenton.

By November of the next year, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, his approval ratings in the blue state of New Jersey were a whopping 67 percent -- 77 percent.

A year later, he rode that wave of popularity to a second term winning by a landslide and cementing his reputation as a Republican star.

Now two-and-a-half years and one bridge scandal later, Chris Christie a different space in the Republican Party and in his home state of new Jersey.

After dropping out of the GOP primary race without winning a single state, Christie went on to endorse Donald Trump. The event had a very distinct I`m here against my will feel to it all, which lead Chris Christie to announce that, no, in fact, he was not being held hostage by Donald Trump.


CHRIS CHRISTIE, GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: So, no, I wasn`t being held hostage. No, I wasn`t up there thinking, oh, my god, what have I done. I was sitting up there -- standing up there supporting the person who I believe is the the best person to beat Hillary Clinton of the remaining Republican candidates.


HAYES: And yesterday we got the latest window into the at times confusing relationship between Donald Trump and Chris Christie.


CHRISTIE: In far less time. So, yeah.


HAYES: What that call was about and what the voters of New Jersey now think about Chris Christie in 60 seconds.


HAYES: Last night, Chris Christie did what he often does in New Jersey. He went on the radio and answered questions from residents, only this time his interview was interrupted not once, but twice.


DAVID JONES, CALLER: My name is David Jones. I work for Ocean County government and about a couple of years ago I talked to you on the radio about a pension issue.


JONES: I applied for my accidental disability pension. I met all the criteria except for being totally and permanently disabled from doing my job. I`m 100 percent disabled through Social Security Administration, motor vehicle commission took my license away because of my medical problems.


HAYES: Just moments later the governor`s phone rings again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got that permit.

CHRISTIE: Yep, yep. In far less time. Yeah. We got the permit. So, you know...


HAYES: Now, from the video it certainly looks like it`s Donald Trump calling who Chris Christie is clearly has saved into his phone with a picture of him so that he shows up.

The radio station said they were under the impression that Donald Trump was calling. Chris Christie`s office did not, however, respond to multiple requests for confirmation.

Could that possibly have something to do with the way the people of New Jersey currently feel about their governor and his relationship with Donald Trump? Who knows.

But right now Christie approval rating is hovering at a historic low of 26 percent, down 51 points from its high point.

A new polls asked New jersey voter whether they feel that Christie`s work on behalf of Trump has hurt their opinion of the governor. 46 percent said, yes. And moreover, this might be the most brutal poll finding I`ve ever heard. Nearly half of those polled say they don`t just dislike his policies, they dislike everything about him.

Good thing there`s always a Trump administration to fall back on.


HAYES: A bombshell in The New York Times today. Billionaire PayPal founder, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, libertarian and Trump delegate Peter Thiel admitted to being behind a secret effort to fund several different lawsuits aimed at putting a media company, Gawker, out of business.

This includes the most high-profile lawsuit of Hulk Hogan against Gawker for publishing a secret sex tape. A jury recently awarded Hogan $150 million though they had no way of knowing that it was Thiel who was posting the money for the suit to the tune of $10 million.

In 2007, Gawker Media published an item informing readers Thiel was gay.

It`s less about revenge and more about specific deterrence, Thiel said. I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest.

Now Thiel`s tactics raise all kinds of ethical questions. Here to discuss those with me, Bob Garfield, co-host of NPR`s On the Media.

This was an incredible caper. Because there was this item sort of floated in the New York Times with Andrew Ross Sorkin saying Nick Denton, who is the head of Gawker, thinks there might be someone behind this. And then lo and behold two days later here`s Thiel basically copping to it.

What do you make of this?

BOB GARFIELD, NPR: Well, it`s amazing on many levels.

You know, Chris, they used to say about the powerful taking on the media, you don`t ever want to get in a dispute with someone who buys ink by the barrelful. But that`s been turned on its head. Now I would say the media don`t want to get in a dispute with anybody who can buy litigation in bulk and that`s exactly what Thiel has done.

In fact, the Hogan suit and apparently two others, in order to wreck some revenge against Gawker for its various outrages over the years, and there`s plenty of those.

This is -- this is like the Iran/Iraq War or an episode of Seinfeld. It`s hard to find a sympathetic character.

HAYES: It`s interesting to me you feel that way. I find something troubling about this, not necessarily illegal anyway. I mean, this was all done essentially legally as far as I know, but troubling about the idea. And I think it`s the secrecy that gets me.

I mean, people bring lawsuits all the time and people sue things for other things and you kind of know who the parties are and what they`re up to.

It`s the idea of someone specifically backing suits secretly with the intent of putting a place out of business, which seems to be what`s going on here. That seems different than the other kinds of litigation that any media outlet might face for things they might run and have to be able to account for.

GARFIELD: There are things called slap suits. And these are -- this is litigation that is pressed not because the plaintiff has any expectation of winning but they know they can bleed the defendant dry in the process. And a number of jurisdictions, including California, by the way, where I believe Peter Thiel lives it`s illegal to file a slap suit.

This is not quite what has happened here, because what he`s does has gone shopping for cases that apparently have some sort of merit. And he`s bank- rolled them from behind a curtain.

The question is whether the law has any provision for this. There are a lot of law suits that are backed by third parties. Whenever a law firm takes a case on contingency, in effect becomes an investor in the suit. And public interest law is based on third parties, usually nonprofits, backing the suit with money.

But this is a case where the Wizard of Oz is -- has suddenly been revealed to be behind the curtain and the question is, I think, if the judge knew that, would this case have been thrown out, let`s say the Hogan case, would have been thrown out from the get go if this information that was improperly denied along the it was improperly denied along the path of the jurisprudence.

HAYES: Yeah, it seem to me like it would be an interesting thing for the jury to know.

Bob Garfield, thanks for your time as always. Appreciate it.

GARGIELD: My pleasure.

HAYES: Up next, Donald Trump saying he would debate Bernie Sanders wasn`t the only big story out that Jimmy Kimmel interview. What Kimmel gets Trump to admit for the first time next.



JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: In 2008, I want to get this right, you thought Hillary Clinton would make an excellent president. And as recently as 2012 you said you thought she was terrific.

What did she do?

TRUMP: well, let me explain to you. I will tell you.

When I am a businessman -- I had a beautiful story recently where they said Trump is a worldclass businessman, all over the world we`re doing jobs. I speak well of everybody. If -- people ask me about politicians, I speak well.

So, when they ask me about Hillary, she`s wonderful, the husband, everybody`s wonderful, and that`s the way it is -- and including contributions. They ask me for contributions...

KIMMEL: So you were full of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) when you said that.


HAYES: Last night Donald Trump appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live where he confirmed something even the most casual observer can see. He is often, as he openly acknowledged, full of it. Will say and do basically whatever he needs to whenever he needs to. It`s a spirit that has infused every level of his campaign.

Trump is himself often talked about evolving on issues and yesterday his campaign chairman reaffirmed that ethos saying of Trump`s proposed foreign Muslim ban, quote, "he`s already started moderating on that. He operated by starting on the conversation at the outer edges and then brings them back toward the middle."

And the GOP`s presumptive nominee`s willingness to change his tune was on the fullest of displays last night. When asked about his previously held position that transgender people should be able to use whatever bathroom they want.


TRUMP: What really I`m saying is -- and I think it`s pretty simple, let the states decide. And you know we have to protect everybody. It`s a very, very small group -- right now, it`s a very small group, perhaps...

KIMMEL: But when you say -- even though if you were voting personally or pattern in New York state that you would vote for that right?

TRUMP: Well, the party generally believes that whatever your born, that`s the bathroom you use.

KIMMEL: But what about you?

TRUMP: Me? i say let the states decide.

KIMMEL: And would you personally support it?

TRUMP: No, what I support -- no, what I support is let the states decide. And I think the states will do hopefully the right thing.

KIMMEL: And what`s the right thing?

TRUMP: I don`t know yet. I mean, I don`t. Honestly I don`t know.


HAYES: Joining me now, conservative columnist, Trump supporter A.J. Delgado.

So, here`s my question for you. I remember -- I follow you on Twitter and you were tweeting about when his initial response to some of the controversy over these bathroom bills in different states, North Carolina and Indiana was to be pretty tolerant, right, to say basically look, I don`t think it`s that big of a deal and then he sort of said let the states decide.

My question to you is are you confident in any different policy arena that what he says on any given day isn`t going to change the next day?

AJ DELGADO, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: Yeah, absolutely, because I don`t think he has contradicted himself. The bathroom issue was a perfect one. He was asked in that initial how would you feel about it, would you let Caitlyn Jenner use your bathroom? And he said, sure, I`d let her use my bathroom.

That`s a personal question.

Then when you move it into what would you do as president if you had some sort of power over this, you do answer as a conservative would and say and I believe this as well, well let the states decide, especially because ever since he made those remarks we receive news stories about men who aren`t transgender who are sneaking into bathrooms and so forth. So it`s given people cold feet.

So, his position is completely consistent and not at all contradictory.

HAYES: All right -- but by the way, I think those stories have largely been myths. And also it`s a country of 300 million people.

But let me say this, I just -- here`s my feeling. For Trump supporters, I can understand a Trump supporter says I like these policies. I want to build the wall. I want a deportation force. I want to ban Muslims. I want to get rid of NAFTA and trade deals like that. All of those things, right.

And then I can understand someone who says, I don`t really know if he`s telling about this, but I like the guy. I just like him and I trust his judgment and he`s going do whatever it takes once he gets in there.

But I don`t see how you can believe in both, right, because it really does seem to me his whole thing is I`m flexible, I`m a businessman, I`ll get him there. I`m, quote, full of it when I have to be, which of those two are you?

DELGADO: Somebody who -- I want him to be someone flexible. I do like what Manafort said, for instance, that he`s willing to maybe perhaps moderate the Muslim ban and his position on that.

Remember, that was just a suggest he made. He never said he was going to temporarily ban Muslims definitely. So, again, he`s not contradicting himself there. He`s just being flexible.

HAYES: He called for it.

DELGADO: No, he said he suggested a possible ban on Muslim immigration that would be temporary and it kind of blew into this huge story that it really was.

HAYES: He said we have to do it. We have no choice. I`m quoting him directly. But continue.

DELGADO: But my point is -- the bigger one you should be concerned with here isn`t a candid who is flexible and rightly so and answers to the reaction of the public, what you should be concerned about is a flip- flopper like Hillary Clinton.

I`ll give you a great example. She`s now a Ms. Pro Illegal Immigrant. In 2003 she, quote, that she was adamantly against illegal immigration. In 2006, she was in favor of more fencing and a wall, a wall. She mentioned the wall.

HAYES: But she voted for...

DELGADO: That`s way worse.

HAYES: Right, but voted for McCain/Kennedy back in 2006 and border security was part of that 2006 package, right?

DELGADO: But she mentioned a wall and now she goes around saying Donald Trump is intolerant, because he wants a wall.

That`s a 180. That`s a 180.

HAYES: AJ, you can do this chapter and verse with Donald Trump all the way through from the fact that he said said he was very pro-choice to what he said about the Clintons himself.

DELGADO: No. No, because e said he was pro-choice 17 years ago. I don`t even know what I thought 17 years ago.

HAYES: AJ, my question is to you is do think this guy fundamentally is just an incredibly good salesman who will say what he has to say in that moment or do you think he actually has some core set of beliefs?

DELGADO: He`s not been a salesman. I`ll give you a perfect example. When you get on the stage in a GOP debate and said the Iraq War was a mistake, that is proof positive that man is nothing at all a salesman and does not pander to the people, but just calls it like it is and tells us his honest opinion.

HAYES: That is true, although he didn`t say that at the time.

DELGADO: Chris, come on.

HAYES: A.J. Delgado, thank you very much for coming on. It is true.

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