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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 9/9/2016

Guests: Masha Gessen, Michael Daly, Jamil Smith, Sam Nunberg, Stephen Stromberg

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: September 9, 2016 Guest: Masha Gessen, Michael Daly, Jamil Smith, Sam Nunberg, Stephen Stromberg

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


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In that system, he`s been a leader far more than our president has been a leader.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES (voice-over): From Vlad to worse.




HAYES (voice-over): Donald Trump`s appearance on Russian TV sets off a political firestorm.




HAYES (voice-over): Tonight, why Trump`s proclivity for Putin puts Republicans in a serious bind. Then, a dark turn for the Clinton conspiracies.


REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TX: There`s special needs there. There`s mental impairment.


HAYES (voice-over): Why the Washington Post is suddenly taking the Bernie Sanders position on Hillary`s email.


JUNIOR SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VT.: The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES (voice-over): And is Donald Trump really cured of his birtherism?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He was born in the United States. Do you confirm that? Do you agree with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I confirm that.


HAYES (voice-over): Tonight the evidence of the contrary, and a reminder of how Donald Trump launched his political career with an Obama conspiracy theory.


TRUMP: The fact is, he doesn`t have a birth certificate. Why doesn`t he show his birth certificate?


TRUMP: I`m starting to think that he was not born here.


HAYES (voice-over): When ALL IN starts right now.

HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. As U.S.-Russia relations have taken center stage in the presidential race, tonight we have breaking news. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have announced a breakthrough agreement on Syria that includes a ceasefire beginning Monday, unhindered humanitarian access to areas like Aleppo, which have been under siege and devastated, and eventually plans for U.S.-Russian cooperation to defeat ISIS and Al-Nusra. These appear to be concrete steps taken by the Obama administration and Russia to work together to end the Syrian civil war and to combat ISIS, although Assad`s fate remains undetermined. The announcement comes as Donald Trump`s continued praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin has become somehow the dominant issue of the campaign. Now just under two months to election day, Republicans face an unlikely new test of their loyalty to the GOP standard-bearer, whether they prefer Vladimir Putin`s leadership of Russia to Barack Obama`s leadership of the United States of America. While Trump has long had praise for Putin, he took it a step further at Wednesday night`s "COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF FORUM", co-hosted by NBC News.


TRUMP: I`ve already said he is really very much of a leader. I mean, you can say, oh, isn`t that a terrible thing he called him -- the man has very strong control over a country. Now it`s a very different system and I don`t happen to like the system. But certainly in that system he`s been a leader far more than our president has been a leader. We have a divided country.


HAYES: It appears to be the campaign`s official position. Running mate Mike Pence defending the comparison to President Obama in an interview yesterday.


MIKE PENCE, REPUBLICAN VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it`s inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country. And that`s going to change the day that Donald Trump becomes president of the United States of America.


HAYES: Trump and Pence aren`t alone in favoring Putin`s leadership style. In a highly unscientific Twitter poll by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, 64 percent of almost 7,500 respondents said they would rather have Vladimir Putin as their president than Barack Obama. Just yesterday, Trump gave an interview to Larry King on RT, the Russian government run TV channel. According to his campaign, Trump did the interview as a personal favor intended for King`s podcast. The production company says Trump was always booked for King`s political talk show on RT. Hillary Clinton was asked about Trump`s RT appearance at a short press conference earlier today.


CLINTON: Every day that goes by, it just becomes more and more of a reality television show. It`s not a serious presidential campaign. And it is beyond one`s imagination to have a candidate for president praising a Russian autocrat like Vladimir Putin. Can I say I was surprised? I`m not sure anything surprises us anymore. But I was certainly disappointed.


HAYES: This is not the first time Trump has courted questions about connections to and surprising sympathy for Russian`s government and leader. There was his repeated criticism of the NATO alliance and threats to undo it, his hiring of Paul Manafort, close ally of Ukraine`s Former Russia- backed dictator who recently resigned under scrutiny for his work for that client, and his suggestion that Russia hack Hillary Clinton`s emails, to name just a few. He`s been comparing Putin favorably to President Obama since the GOP primaries.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He also is a person that kills journalists, political opponents --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Invades countries.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: -- and invades countries. Obviously, it would be a concern, would it not?

TRUMP: He`s running his country. And at least he`s a leader, you know, unlike what we have in this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But again, he kills journalists that don`t agree with him.

TRUMP: Well, I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe.


HAYES: Trump was even singing Putin`s praises back in 2014 right in the middle of Russia`s semi-covert invasion of Ukraine against all international norms. ALL IN turned up an interview he gave FOX News on April 12th of that year less than a month after Russia formally annexed Crimea, drawing condemnation from around the world, and literally days after armed men raise Russian flags over occupied government buildings in Eastern Ukraine.


TRUMP: He`s done an amazing job of taking the mantle. And he`s taken it away from the president. And you look at what he`s doing -- and so smart. When you see the riots in a country because they`re hurting the Russians, OK, we`ll go and take it over. He really goes step by step by step, and you have to give him a lot of credit. Interestingly, I own the Miss Universe pageant. We just left Moscow. He could not have been nicer. He was so nice and so everything. But you have to give him credit that what he`s doing for that country in terms of their world prestige is very strong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last thought. Who`s the better leader, President Obama or President Putin?

TRUMP: Well, it`s not even a contest at this point to say -- now, Obama can maybe come back and maybe something happens. But so far he has played Obama like a fiddle.


HAYES (voice-over): Who knows, maybe Obama invades Alberta to even up the score. Of course, in an interview last month, Trump seemed wholly unaware the Ukraine invasion had ever taken place. All this fits into a pattern of admiration for authoritarian rulers, including Saddam Hussein who Trump has hailed for being good at killing terrorists and Kim Jong-un who just yesterday sparked international outrage and a near crisis with yet another nuclear test.


TRUMP: If you look at North Korea, this guy, this -- I mean, he`s like a maniac, OK. And you got to give him credit. How many young guys -- he was, like, 26 or 25 when his father died -- take over these tough generals and then all of the sudden -- you know, it`s pretty amazing when you think of it. How does he do that?


HAYES: How does he do it indeed? Amid palpable discomfort with Trump`s Putin comments among certain Republicans, this morning his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, went into damage control mode.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: They`re not praising them. He`s not praising him so much as saying that we`ll work with people -- anybody who wants to help stop the advance of ISIS will be welcome in a Trump-Pence administration to do so. But --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, to say that he`s a stronger leader than Barack Obama seems to be praising Vladimir Putin for a lot of people.

CONWAY: What he said was he`s seen as stronger in his country. And he also said -- if you`d pull the whole quote, he said he doesn`t agree with that form of government.


HAYES: On Twitter, conservative commentator and Trump backer Hugh Hewitt sought to translate Trump`s remarks into something a little more palatable. "Putin`s an evil man, POTUS a good but incompetent man. Putin has served his country`s national interests better." But it is worth considering for a moment just how well Vladimir Putin has served his country`s national interests. Thanks to his invasion of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, and lest we forget the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 which killed 298 passengers and crew, the international community imposed extensive sanctions on Russia, crippling its economy. For the past several years, Russia has systematically dismantled its independent media consolidating news and information under state-controlled organs. On top of that, 34 journalists have been murdered in Russia since the year 2000, according to PolitiFact. Likewise, political opposition leaders and dissenters, most famously Boris Nemtsov, gunned down last year in the shadow of Moscow`s Red Square, and Alexander Litvinenko who died in 2006 after drinking tea poisoned with a radioactive isotope. On his death bed, Litvinenko accused Vladimir Putin of wording him killed. And then there`s a seminal 1999 event that precipitated a war in Chechnya, a brutal, bloody, destructive, deadly war, and first ushered Putin into power. That was three apartment bombings that killed 243 people and wounded almost 2,000, blamed on Islamic extremists but widely believed to actually have been orchestrated by Putin himself. Joining me now, Masha Gessen, who wrote a fantastic biography of Putin, The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. She has a new book out, Where the Jews Aren`t. Masha, you are the one person I wanted to talk to over the last 48 hours --

MASHA GESSEN, AUTHOR: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: -- as I watch this bizarre news cycle develop. What is your reaction to seeing Mike Pence and Donald Trump praise the strength of Vladimir Putin?

GESSEN: Well, it`s frightening. I think I understand what they`re saying. And what they`re saying is that they want to be that kind of leader, right. They want Trump to control the country, as he said. The only way you get to be that kind of leader is by monopolizing the media, by killing your opponents, by throwing your opponents in jail, by eliminating freedom of assembly, by dismantling the electoral system, and it really helps -- it really, really helps -- to start several wars and to grab other countries` land, which is what Putin has done. So I think this is -- you know, I`m a great believer at taking politicians at their word. Because I think a lot of the time we`ll look for a subtext when actually they`re saying exactly what they mean to be saying. And I think that Donald Trump and Mike Pence now are saying exactly what they mean to be saying. They want to be that kind of leader. That seems perfectly believable.

HAYES: What does it mean -- I mean, one of the things -- the other odd thing about this is they will oscillate between Kellyanne Conway and say, well, we just want to work with Russia on things where we agree. And today we have an announcement the U.S. government and the Russian government reached an agreement on Syria on a ceasefire. The U.S. relationship to Russia is this very strange relationship at this point in which it`s strained on one hand and collaborative in other spheres. How do you understand the context of this?

GESSEN: Well, I think that you have to understand that Russia believes itself to be at war with the United States. When Putin and his propagandists talk about the war in Ukraine, they talk about it as a proxy war against the United States. At the end of 2014, the year that the war in Ukraine started, Russia adopted a new military doctrine that makes it very clear that it perceives the United States as its main strategic and military enemy, right. So that doesn`t preclude the kinds of negotiations that John Kerry has been having with Sergey Laurov, the Russian foreign minister. I think it throws some doubt on how much of a good-faith partner --

HAYES: Right.

GESSEN: -- Russia can be. It so far has shown itself to be a consistently bad-faith partner. But I think that, you know, the kind of talk that we`re hearing from Trump really needs to be put in that context. Russia thinks it`s at war with the United States.

HAYES: Is it surprising to you to watch the sort of head-snapping speed with which the American political axis of debate seems to have spun around when in 2010 Republicans were saying, don`t ratify the START treaty, in 2012, Mitt Romney identified Russia as the number one geopolitical foe, and in 2016 it`s now, well, he`s actually better than Barack Obama?

GESSEN: Well, actually unfortunately it doesn`t surprise me that much because I have seen this sort of thing. When you see a Populist movement take root, whether it`s in a democratic country or a non-democratic country, what tends to impress you the first couple of times is how fast people seem to start believing the exact opposite of what they believed yesterday.


GESSEN: And then the sudden shift in what seem to be core beliefs, and even sometimes in the perception of national identity. I mean, that has marked Putinism, but it`s also marked the Populist movements in European countries. You know, the far-right movements -- like in Sweden which went from being a country that grew a lot of its national identity from being open to refugees to suddenly becoming a country that`s obsessed with how to keep --


GESSEN: -- what they call migrants now at bay. That sort of thing happens. It`s a really frightening thing to watch because it`s a hallmark of a Populist movement.

HAYES: All right, Masha Gessen, thank you. Her new book, Where the Jews Aren`t, I have not read yet, but it looks phenomenal. And all of your work is great, so people should check that out. Thank you very much.

GESSEN: Thank you so much for having me.

HAYES: All right, joining me now, MSNBC political analyst Joan Walsh, national affairs correspondent for The Nation magazine. She`s a Hillary Clinton supporter. So, OK, Masha`s point there is a fascinating one.


HAYES: The reversal of views is -- but let me hop on the other side and say, well, look, the Democrats in 2012 were mocking Mitt Romney for identifying Russia as the number one --

WALSH: Right.

HAYES: -- geopolitical foe. And now all the sudden it`s Democrats and Hillary Clinton saying this is, you know, this is the greatest enemy the U.S. faces. So why is it not the case that both sides have flipped?

WALSH: I don`t think both sides -- yes, I can`t go there with you. I mean, I think that Putin has shown himself to be more and more the type of leader he is, a bad-faith partner, even though he`s sometimes the only partner we have. I think that they have seriously evolved in their thinking about the threat Russia poses and Putin poses. So I don`t feel like there was --

HAYES: You don`t think it`s a flip-flop or --

WALSH: I don`t think -- no.

HAYES: -- convenient politically right now?

WALSH: No, I genuinely don`t think that.


WALSH: And, you know, the problem we always have talking about Trump is kind of what do we think Trump really believes, and we don`t know. So I really enjoyed Masha saying, look at what they say, pay attention to what they say. I think the other thing she eluded to at the end of that conversation is that Putin has cozied up to the far-right, white nationalist leaders --


WALSH: -- in Europe. And so I don`t -- again, I don`t know. Trump may just be saying this guy likes me, he said nice things about me. It might be that juvenile. You never know what his dog whistle is aimed towards or what he`s heard. But the white nationalist movement in this country, which loves Trump, they love Putin, too.

HAYES: They love Putin. And, yes, there is a sort of international arch of alliance --

WALSH: White --

HAYES: -- between sort of ethno-nationalists, white ethno-nationalists backlash, whether it`s in Britain, whether it`s in other parts of the continental Europe --

WALSH: Right.

HAYES: -- connected to Russia. But there`s also -- the point that you`re saying about Masha Gessen, if there`s a single view that Trump has, it is admiration for, quote, strong leaders.


HAYES: That`s consistent. I mean, he praised the Chinese dealing with Tiananmen Square --

WALSH: Right.

HAYES: -- for its strength. He praised Kim Jong-un for being at 26 --

WALSH: Taking down the generals --

HAYES: -- got to hand it to the guy.


HAYES: It`s a tough job.

WALSH: Tough. You know, he would do that.

HAYES: You know, that even to me, if you can identify a genuine belief, a non-fake belief and a consistent belief, it`s admiration for that kind of style of leadership.

WALSH: Right. And I think there are other people on the right who share that.


WALSH: I mean, remember this came out, Sarah Palin, like, praising Putin and saying Obama walks around in mom jeans, he`s not a real man. This cult of masculinity, of strength, of authoritarianism, it has deep roots and it`s a very real thing. If you believe that Donald Trump could tell the companies, don`t move our jobs --

HAYES: Right.

WALSH: -- overseas, you know, and can immediately bring manufacturing back, I mean, that`s the most harmless thing he says.

HAYES: Right, along the authoritarian spectrum.

WALSH: Right.


WALSH: But there is this kind of magical thinking and belief in a strong leader. Dictator, leader, who --

HAYES: Right.

WALSH: -- you know, po-tay-toes, po-tah-toes, that --

HAYES: The point about Sarah Palin`s well taken. It was Pat Buchanan, I believe, a few years ago --


HAYES: -- who wrote a column praising Putin as essentially now the ostensible leader of traditional values --

WALSH: Right.

HAYES: -- particularly during his sort of onslaught on Russia`s LGBT community.

WALSH: Right.

HAYES: Buchanan wrote, you know, that this would -- look, this is the person who was upholding actually the, quote, conservative worldview.

WALSH: The white family, the primacy --

HAYES: Right.

WALSH: -- of the white family, which is under threat in -- you know, globally, apparently. Yes, there are some deep roots here. It`s like part of me wants to mock it and make jokes, but part of me wants to point out this sort of wellspring that it comes from. And I think it`s really important to do that.

HAYES: I would tell -- there`s a Frontline documentary on Putin that if folks have not watched, they should watch, particularly the part that goes into that apartment bombing in 1999, the story of which is just remarkable and horrifying. Joan Walsh, thank you very much.

WALSH: Thank you.

HAYES: Still to come, the headlines were blaring today. Donald Trump is no longer a birther. Ahead, a fact check of that dubious claim. And I will talk to the man who was advising Trump when he chose to base his political career on a conspiracy theory. And as both candidates prepare to mark the anniversary of September 11th, a look at some of the questionable remarks Donald Trump has made when talking about that day. That story in just two minutes.


HAYES: In two days, Americans will mark the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks against a backdrop of a presidential campaign that features two New Yorkers who discuss the attacks and their aftermath on the campaign trail, often in personal terms. Hillary Clinton was the junior senator from New York when the attacks took place and fought for treatment for first responders whose health was compromised by the toxic air at Ground Zero. On Sunday, an aide tells NBC News Clinton will attend the 9/11 memorial service as a private citizen. The aide said Clinton will have no speaking role and will be present simply to pay her respects. Following a precedent set by George W. Bush and John Kerry, both the Clinton and Donald Trump campaign say they will not hold campaign events or air ads on that day. Trump, whose campaign has yet to publicly announce his plans for Sunday, was a prominent New York real estate developer when the attacks took place. And during the Republican primary fight, he cited the resilience of New Yorkers in the wake of the attacks in response to Ted Cruz`s sneering indication of, quote, New York values.


TRUMP: New York values were on display for all to see in the aftermath of 9/11, a strike at the heart of our city and our nation. In our darkest moments, as a city, we showed the world the very, very best in terms of bravery and heart and soul that we have in America.


HAYES: New York-based journalist, Michael Daly, has long covered both candidates as well as the aftermath of the attacks, and he`s out with a blistering piece on The Daily Beast today discussing what the headline calls, quote, 50 years of Donald Trump`s 9/11 Lies, Insults, and Slights. And Michael Daly joins me now. You`re a lifelong crime reporter, basically. You --

MICHAEL DALY, CORRESPONDENT, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, when I started there were 2,000 murders a year in this town, so, I mean, I covered crime the way you`d cover war.


DALY: We were in the middle of one.

HAYES: And you`ve been a New York reporter at The Daily News for years. What prompted you to write this piece for The Daily Beast?

DALY: What got me going was back in February during the Republican debates, Trump said, I lost hundreds of friends on 9/11. Hundreds, right. And I`m thinking that of all the funerals I went to after that, I never saw him. I never heard anybody talk about him. I never heard of anybody saying, oh, yes, that guy was a friend of Donald`s, or I saw Donald at the wake or Donald gave a call and asked her if she needed anything. I didn`t hear his name once. So I`m thinking how could that be? So I reached out to his organization, I said, can you name just one? I mean, because I thought it also might be interesting to -- you know, this person was a friend of Donald and --

HAYES: Report it out. Yes.

DALY: -- you know -- nothing. And it just kind of stayed with me. You know, I mean -- there are a lot of things you don`t do. And one of them is you don`t lie about people who died on that day. And particularly if you`re a person who`s living in the city of New York, particularly if you lived just up the street from Saint Catherine`s Cathedral when they had one great fireman after another getting buried out of there. And so that kind of stayed with me. And there`s some other things he was saying that -- you know, that he saw news footage of thousands of Muslims cheering in New Jersey --

HAYES: Right.

DALY: -- at the attack on the World Trade Center. And I never heard any of that. What I did hear, I remember, there was a Muslim police cadet who was on his way to his day job at Rockefeller University. He was driving a car with a license plate saying young Jedi, and he heard there was the attack and he drove down there to try to see what he could do, and he was killed. I remember that. I don`t remember the cheering Muslims. And then he talked about how he watched the people jump from his window at Trump Tower four miles away. And I`m thinking -- and I was down there that day in the -- even when you`re right by the tower when they`re up there, you know, they`re very small.


DALY: And unfortunately they became bigger. And that stayed with me. And then I also was trying to see if he`d ever given any money to anybody in 9/11. I came across one report in the New York Post that he had promised - - this was right after the Trade Center -- that he`d promised to donate $10,000 when he called into the Howard Stern show to Rudy`s --


DALY: -- Twin Towers Fund. And I thought, well, OK. But I didn`t see any trace of that.

HAYES: You haven`t been able to track down that donation or haven`t --

DALY: No, I haven`t. I mean, the Twin Towers Fund, that`s closed, so it`s hard to go back --

HAYES: Right.

DALY: -- the other way. But all the donations I know that he`s made to anybody are through the Trump Foundation.

HAYES: There should be records of that.

DALY: By the way, it`s -- yes. Yes, and I went through the Trump Foundation records for that year and the next year and the next year and the next year and the next year. I saw no 9/11 donations whatsoever. So that`s staying with me. And then he finally did go down to the memorial --


DALY: -- museum when he`s finally in the midst of this campaign. The people down at the museum said they had never seen him there before, that he had never made a donation there before. But he did -- he arrives, he gives $100,000 check. And I called them later, and they said, well, yes, it`s drawn on his foundation, which he hasn`t contributed to for at least six years. So even that`s not his money.

HAYES: Right.

DALY: And then I was talking to somebody else who was kind of with him as he walked through the museum. And they were kind of surprised that almost everybody is -- you know, stops, is moved, can`t believe what they saw, this, and you`d think particularly a guy who says that he watched jumpers from the building facing him that he would at least stop and look. I mean, there`s one photo in the museum of a woman standing at that huge hole in the North Tower. It`s the Uptown face of it --


DALY: -- so it`s what would have faced Trump`s apartment, if he really had been able to see this. You would think that he would, like, oh, that`s the building that was facing where I was looking, that`s what I saw. There`s that woman. Who was she? You know, she was Edna Cintron, and she was working as a receptionist because she needed to add to the income from the family florist. She`s up there. So you`d think he`d look at that. Corey Lewandowski, who everybody knocks -- you know, is the former campaign manager --

HAYES: Right.

DALY: -- everybody thinks is an attack dog. One of the people in the museum noted that he actually did stop and was moved by a picture, and it turned out it was one of his best friends.

HAYES: Yes. Let me ask you this, because I want to be fair here in the sense that you have two candidates, each New York, they each talked about 9/11 in personal terms, they`ve each used it, frankly, in their campaign. Hillary Clinton ran videos about it --

DALY: Right.

HAYES: -- at the DNC. You`re a New York reporter and I know you`ve reported on first responders. I mean, what is her record like?

DALY: Well, I mean, for me -- my personal encounters?


DALY: I mean, on the good side, she really did lose a good friend --


DALY: -- at 9/11. That was Father Mychal Judge who was the fire chaplain --


DALY: -- who was killed in the North Tower. She happened to become friends with him because at the White House prayer breakfast back in September of, I think, 1998, The Star report`s coming out and they say, who are we going to put next to the First Lady when they`re talking about Monaco, right? So they call up Brian O`Dwyer in New York. He says, don`t worry, I got just the priest for you, so --

HAYES: So they had started a --

DALY: -- Mychal goes down there.


DALY: He sits next to her, right. And Bill Clinton starts talking about forgiveness and the power of, you know, all this and this, and everybody`s saying, oh, I hope this priest don`t talk to her about forgiveness, right. Mychal starts talking about, what a great place to be, how exciting this must be, I hope you don`t mind I stole some towels out of the bathroom because I want to bring them back to the homeless people up in New York. And next thing you know, he`s got the First Lady laughing. And he`s saying to her how wonderful it is to be here and how wonderful it must be for her to be there. And we have (INAUDIBLE) --

HAYES: We should know, this chaplain is famous and there`s a famous photo of him actually of his body coming out --

DALY: Yes, it`s like the (INAUDIBLE) he was carried --

HAYES: -- yes, coming out of the rubble. I mean, and then politically there was a fight to get funding afterwards, right? I mean, there was --

DALY: There was. I mean, the other positive thing for her -- if Jimmy Boyle who was head of the fire union --


DALY: -- who lost his son -- I mean, I saw him right after the North Tower came -- his son got killed a couple hundred feet from where Jimmy was standing. And he will tell you that she was always there for the families --


DALY: -- and that she was always there for the votes they needed in Congress. The negative side you might -- I mean, if you want to --


DALY: -- look around to be as balanced as you possibly can, as the Democratic convention was approaching, Jimmy Boyle got a call saying, what do you think about her? And he said, well, she was great. He said, would you make a video? He said sure. Would you come down and appear at the convention? He said sure. And then he said, but you`d have to fly me down. And they said, wait a minute, you know, your cell phone`s a New York number. He said, well, actually I moved up to Rochester, you`d have to fly me down. Oh, we`ll get back to you, and no one ever called him back. don`t slight Jimmy Boyle.


DALY: You do not do that in the city of New York. He is a sainted man. You don`t do that.

HAYES: Michael Daly, what a pleasure it is to have you here and listen to your recollections.

DALY: Thank you (INAUDIBLE).

HAYES: We really appreciate it. Thanks. Coming up, the Washington Post drops a bombshell editorial warning other newspapers to stop obsessing over Hillary Clinton`s email. The author of that editorial will join me to explain ahead.


HAYES: I`m going to take you behind the curtain here, oh, we went a little long with Michael Daly there, because that was so remarkable to me. We have a lot coming up including the original sin and the launch of Donald Trump`s political career, a Birther of a Nation retrospective you do not want to miss. Stick around.


(Begin Video Clip)

BERNIE SANDERS, SENATOR, VERMONT: I`m going to say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.


(End Video Clip)

HAYES: Back when Bernie Sanders made that statement onstage with Hillary Clinton last fall, his view was definitely not widely shared by a lot of folks in the media. Now, 11 months later, one of the leading newspapers in the country writes that Hillary Clinton email story is out of control.

The editorial board of the Washington Post claimed in recent news items to make their case, for example a memo from FBI Director, James Comey sent to his staff saying, "Despite all the chest beating, there really wasn`t a prosecutable case."

The paper also noted the recently released email exchange between Ms. Clinton and former Secretary of State, Colin Powell suggesting that now it seems Mr. Powell engaged in similar behavior. The paper notes that of the 30 Benghazi related emails recovered during the FBI investigation, only one in fact was previously undisclosed and it contained nothing but a compliment from a diplomat. The Post editorial and by noting, "Imagine how history would judge these Americans if looking back at this election, the records show that voters empowered a dangerous man because of a minor email scandal. There`s no equivalence between Ms. Clinton`s wrongs and Mr. Trump`s manifest unfitness for office."

Joining me now, the person who wrote those words, Stephen Stromberg, editorial writer at the Washington Post. I guess - let me start with that last quote, I mean, is this you just not liking Donald Trump and essentially reverse engineering your way to a position on the email scandal to convince yourself that it`s not that big a deal?

STEPHEN STROMBERG, WASHINGTON POST, EDITORIAL WRITER: Well that`s - it`s a very good question. Look, I think that the story really of this election is that the Republican primary process failed and produced a man who is manifestly unfit for office as the nominee.

And you have the Democrats who nominated somebody who`s essentially a conventional presidential candidate, you know, broadly speaking falls on the broad mainstream, that sort of thing. She has some of the foibles that a lot of the politicians have, you know, as an editorial writer, as an opinion writer and I`m sure other journalist feel this too, it can be difficult sometimes, I feel difficult to cover the raise without drawing false equivalencies between the two. That said, you know, we called in the editorial, the email scandal, a minor scandal. We laid out some reasons why, you know, we don`t think it`s illegitimate. We think there are reasons for people to be concerned.

But, you know what? There`s a narrative that`s developing. There`s a shorthand for the election that`s developing that`s wrong, and that shorthand is Donald Trump is, you know, maybe he`s a racist or he - you know, however you want to phrase that, you know, maybe he`s a know-nothing but you kind of - you know, what you hear is basically what he`s thinking.

Hillary Clinton on the other hand, she`s sort of corrupt, she lies, you can`t trust anything she says, you know, she belongs in prison because email. And not only does that draw false equivalence that doesn`t belong, it`s also factually inaccurate.

So, yes, relative to Trump, yes. OK. She`s a lot - you know, she doesn`t even inhabit the same moral universe relative to Trump. But even on its own terms, the email scandal is not, you know, an imprisonable offense or, you know, all this other nonsense you keep hearing about it.

HAYES: Yes. That to me I think I thought the part about - you know, there`s this question of what would it take for this to be something that people felt like the book was closed on, right? I mean, what is the - and one of the things you get with Clintons is always like raises more questions or there are more - there`s some more threads to tug at.

I mean, what to you - what about the timing of this? I mean, what is the Comey memo that you felt sort of definitively laid out like, "Look, this is what it is, it is what we have seen it to be and it is of the scale and scope that has been described by the FBI."

STROMBERG: Yes, good question. Look, the - actually, I would say, the original Comey findings before his testimony, what, five and a half hours, four and a half hours, whatever it was, of testimony on this was - that was actually definite already.

So you already had the sense that, you know, no prosecutor in his or her right mind would have brought the case, we already knew that. And to sort of dismiss that and to say Hillary Clinton belongs in prison, well, you know, that you`re basically accusing the FBI director and his staff of either corruption or flagrant, you know, incompetence. So sort of choose one, stick with it, admit to it.

HAYES: Yes. That - this is a very important point, either Comey is corrupt and in on it or incompetent or he made the right decision. Stephen Stromberg, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

STROMBERG: Thank you Chris.

HAYES: We`ll be right back with Thing One and Thing Two. Don`t go anywhere.


HAYES: Thing One: Tonight, Donald Trump made an appearance at the Annual Value Voter Summit in Washington D.C. today and appealed to evangelical voters. Religion has not been a prominent part of his campaign, but he has talked about it here and there.

(Begin Video Clip)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever asked God for forgiveness?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not sure I have. I just go and try and do a better job from there, I don`t think so.

Now, when I take - you know, when we go in church and when I drink my little wine which is about the only wine I drink and have my little cracker, I guess that`s a form of asking for forgiveness and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed, okay?

I wrote the "Art of the Deal," has anybody read the "Art of the Deal?" That`s my second favorite book of all time. You know what my first is? The Bible. Nothing beats the Bible. Nothing beats the Bible, not even the "Art of the Deal," not even close, okay?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m wondering what one or two of your most favorite Bible verses are and why.

TRUMP: Well I wouldn`t want to get into it because to me that`s very personal. The Bible means a lot to me but I don`t want to get into specifics.

2 Corinthians, right? 2 Corinthians 3:17, that`s the whole ball game.

(End Video Clip)

HAYES: But what about the big picture? What does Trump think about God? It turns out that question has been asked.

(Begin Video Clip)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me about God. When I say God, tell me about God, what do you - who is God to you? What are some of your thoughts on this?

Clearly, you`re a smart man, you`re a smart business man, have you contemplated this before?

(End Video Clip)

HAYES: His answer? That Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: So the biggest question that could ever be asked to Donald Trump, what about God? Well, that question has been asked, and it has been answered.

(Begin Video Clip)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is God to you? What are some of your thoughts in this? Clearly, you`re a smart man, you`re a smart business man, you contemplated this before or how do you contemplate with it?

TRUMP: Well I say God is the ultimate. You know, you look at this, you look at this incredible - here we are in the Pacific Ocean, how did I ever own this?

I bought it 15 years ago, I made one of the great deals I say ever at this piece of land, I have no mortgage on it as you - I will certify and represent to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll see that.

TRUMP: And I was able to, you know, buy this and make a great deal. This is what I want to do for the country, make great deals. We have to, we have to bring it back.

But God is the ultimate. I mean God, created this and, you know, he`s the Pacific Ocean, right behind us. So nobody, no thing, no - there`s nothing like God.

(End Video Clip)


HAYES: This is an actual headline from earlier today about what`s currently happening in the 2016 presidential campaign news cycle.

Birther no more, Trump campaign concedes that Obama is U.S.-born. Apparently, the Republican nominee has come to believe that the president of the United States was actually born in the United States, but that conclusion didn`t come from the candidate, it came from a pair of surrogates.

The first, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaking with my colleague Chris Matthews last night.

(Begin Video Clip)

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Donald Trump believes now that he was born in the United States. But that issue was raised.

MATTHEWS: When is he going to say it?

GIULIANI: .originally - that issue was raised originally by Hillary Clinton.

MATTHEWS: When is he going to say that this president is legitimate? This is a fundamental question Mr. Mayor, is the president of the United States legitimate or not?

GIULIANI: He believes.

MATTHEWS: Do you believe it? If you believe it, why doesn`t your candidate state it?

GIULIANI: I believe it, he believes it, we all believe it.

(End Video Clip)

HAYES: Today, Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, echoed Giuliani`s sentiment, but when asked why her candidate does not come out and actually say whether he believes the president was born here, Conway responded, "You`ll have to ask him."

That`s good advice for journalists. Thing is, he has been asked about his birtherism recently, he just refuses to talk about it.

(Begin Video Clip)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t talk about the birth certificate anymore, do you regret even bringing it up?

TRUMP: I don`t talk about it anymore. I don`t talk about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret bringing it up back then?

TRUMP: I told you, I don`t talk about it anymore.

(End Video Clip)

HAYES: Yet, his prominent role in the birther movement is what launched Trump`s current political career in the first place.

Back in 2011 when Trump was considering a presidential run, raising questions about Barack Obama`s birth certificate was how the reality TV star made his mark.

(Begin Video Clip)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you a birther, Donald?

TRUMP: OK. Let me just say that I was a really good student at the best school, I`m not like a smart guy, okay?

They make these birthers into the worst it is. Why doesn`t he show his birth certificate?

I would like to have him to show his birth certificate. And can I be honest with you? I hope he can, because if he can`t, if he can`t, and if he wasn`t born in this country which is a real possibility.

I want him to show his birth certificate. There`s something on that birth certificate that he doesn`t like.

A man and a woman with no money to have a baby, there`s announcements in the newspaper.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their grandparents did.

TRUMP: Excuse me, the grandparents. Nelson Rockefeller doesn`t put announcements.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. There are birth announcements all the time.

TRUMP: I`ve never seen one.


TRUMP: No. I`ve never seen one. I have people that actually have been studying it and they cannot believe what they`re finding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have people now down there searching.

TRUMP: Absolutely.


TRUMP: Absolutely. And they cannot believe what they`re finding.

He spent millions of dollars trying to get away from this issue. Millions of dollars of legal fees trying to get away from this issue. And I`ll tell you what, I brought it up just routinely and all of a sudden, a lot of facts are emerging and I`m starting to wonder myself whether or not he was born in this country.

And his family is arguing over which hospital he was born in. The family doesn`t even know the name of the hospital. No nurses, no doctors, nobody ever came forward. His grandmother in Kenya said, "Oh no, he was born in Kenya and I was there and I witnessed the birth."

Now, she`s on tape and I think that tape is going to be produced fairly soon. Somebody`s coming out with a book in about two weeks, it`s going to be very interesting.

People have birth certificates, he doesn`t have a birth certificate. Now, he may have one, but there`s something on that birth, maybe religion, maybe it says he`s a Muslim, I don`t know. Or there`s something on the birth certificate that he doesn`t want people to see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you suspect it to be?

TRUMP: I don`t know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it his religion?

TRUMP: I mean, maybe it says he`s Muslim which wouldn`t bother me. I mean, if it`s that thing - you know, if that`s it, it`s it. It`s what it is.

(End Video Clip)

HAYES: You cannot understand Donald Trump as a political figure without going back to the origins of his birtherism. And we`ll talk with someone who advised him on that strategy. Next.


(Begin Video Clip)

KATY TUR, MSNBC, CORRESPONDENT: A few years ago you led the birther movement, you sent investigators out to Hawaii to find out whether or not Obama as you said was not born here. It turned out to not be true, so why should they believe you now?

TRUMP: Well according to you it`s not true, I don`t know.

TUR: He released his birth certificate.

TRUMP: You know, if you believe that that`s fine. I don`t care, it`s an old subject. I`m about jobs, I`m about security, I`m about fixing the military, I`m about taking care of our vets, I`m about things that you don`t have to bring up old subjects.

Whether he did or not, who knows. A lot of people don`t agree with you on that, by the way.

(End Video Clip)

HAYES: That`s not definitive. Just to be clear, that was in his campaign. Our own Katy Tur asking that question at the start of his campaign.

Joining me now is Jamil Smith, Senior National Correspondent for MTV news and former Trump campaign aide, Sam Nunberg was one of Trump`s advisers when he first latched on to the birther movement, helped advise Trump on strategy.

I should say you have parted ways with Trump as of this point. What was the thinking that made this - he went from Donald Trump reality TV figure to possible Republican presidential candidate based on this issue.

SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: Well, the idea was is that we needed somebody who could be this iconoclastic, larger than life figure, like the president, by the way, like Obama, who was going to take him on, hurt his favorability. It was also going to be the guy that said if you gave us the nomination and the primary as opposed to Mitt Romney or New Gingrich, I`m here to play, I`m here to win.

HAYES: So was it to show that he could take down Obama? I mean, was that basically the thinking here?

NUNBERG: Well look, here`s the thing, he had the president talk - you know, communicate with him. He had the president flat out have to send advisers to Hawaii to get a copy of the birth certificate and he had - and the issue became Donald Trump against Barack Obama.

HAYES: Right. But, you know - but in some ways, that issue - I mean, when we look at the polling, I mean that issue, that - in some ways it`s sort of the unforgivable sin. I think - not just for black voters but for a lot of voters but particularly I think for black voters, it is the unforgivable sin.

SMITH: I think a lot of black voters were already hip to his housing discrimination and also the Central Park Five ad in 1989 but this only took the cake. I mean you have the first black president being, you know, delegitimized effectively by somebody who`s not qualified really making any kind of comment in that regard.

And then also his recent, you know, denial of this is trying to skate around this, the effect of it is really to say like, "Hey, these black voters who were upset by this, they`re kind of crying wolf on this. They`re really not actually offended, they`re just wanting to - you know, strike at me."

NUNBERG: Well look, we certainly wanted to deflect from this and not talk about it, this cycle, even in the primary.

HAYES: Why? Why? Did you realize that he looked ridiculous when the president of the United States was forced to show his papers and they showed exactly what he said?

NUNBERG: We were worried that this - that if he could be categorized simply as a birther as opposed to Donald Trump the entrepreneur, the outsider, the - you know, the guy who`s going to come take back Washington for the people which was what he ran on, that populist message in the primary, he would be a loser.

HAYES: So this was a strategic choice not to talk about anymore?

NUNBERG: Right. And he did that by the.

HAYES: But wait - but wait a second, does he still believe it? Did he ever believe it?

NUNBERG: I - you know, I do have a confidentiality agreement with him - he has said - he has - but he has said.

HAYES: Oh my Lord.

NUNBERG: I will say this, I will say this, this was certainly news to me that the campaign is now saying that he believes that the president was born in America, because we are - we were - we simply said that we weren`t going to talk about the issue. That was our answer.

HAYES: So let me just ask you, you seem like a perfectly nice dude.

NUNBERG: Yes. I`m not a birther.


NUNBERG: OK. I`m not a birther.

HAYES: OK. No. OK, I`m glad - I am glad to hear that.

NUNBERG: OK. The president was born in Hawaii.

HAYES: But what was do you - yes. Good, I`m glad we`re all on the same page then. Do you recognize how destructive this was?

I mean, do you understand when Jamil talks about this sort of - you get - do you get what people found this unbelievably insulting and offensive and racist?

NUNBERG: Racist, there were some - I do understand why people found this insulting, I could see why some people could think it was racist but I also think it was a strategically smart move for Trump to use initially when he introduces into the cycle.

HAYES: Do you think that`s true?

NUNBERG: We`re talking about for the Republican primary.

SMITH: It sets the stage for what`s happening now. He got - he said - he signals to the constituency that he has now that A, I`m one of you, I`m going to articulate your message.

So look, there are a lot of people out there who wanted to delegitimize the president, who wanted to make sure that not only they paint him as an outsider but as a Muslim outsider. And so "Hey, here`s a guy who`s willing to do it, now he`s running for president? Oh, I`m going to vote for him."

HAYES: Do you think there`s a connection between that (inaudible) you`re saying we wanted him to sort of win despite that, we wanted to put that in the past. Do you think that that was what paved the way for him to do that?

SMITH: Well when you talk to voters on the trail they are - you know, focused on this issue. It is a primary motivation for a lot of people to vote for Trump.

NUNBERG: Barack Obama by the way is - I mean he`s Hillary Clinton`s number one asset right now.

HAYES: Yes, he clearly is. But the point that Jamil made there is important. Donald Trump may have turned away from it but I`ve had voters when I was covering the Republican primary say, "Of course I don`t think he was born in the U.S." or "Yes, I think he`s a Muslim."

There`s polling on this. I mean, this belief.

NUNBERG: By the way, independents have thought this too remember?


HAYES: All right. Jamil Smith, Sam Nunberg, good to have you here.

NUNBERG: Thank you very much.

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