Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: October 31, 2016 Guest: Sheldon Whitehouse, Richard Painter, Jennifer Granholm, Jason Johnson, Michael Steele, Benjy Sarlin, Harry Enten, Christina Greer
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
HAYES: Tonight on "ALL IN" --
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why in the world the FBI would decide to jump into an election with no evidence of any wrongdoing with just days to go.
HAYES: FBI Director James Comey under fire.
WILLIAM WELD, (Lib) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ten days to go? I think it`s disgraceful.
HAYES: Criticism coming from across the political spectrum.
REP. JIM JORDAN, (R) OHIO (through phone): I think this is probably not the right thing for Comey to do.
HAYES: But is the FBI decision actually impacting voters? We`ll breakdown the state of the race with over 23 million votes already cast.
Plus, from lock her up to --
GEORGE LINDELL, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Jew-S-A! Jew-S-A!
HAYES: A look at who makes up the Trump coalition.
BOBBY KNIGHT, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: In a Donald Trump administration, there will be no bull (bleep).
HAYES: And what`s wrong with this picture? A Halloween tricks and treats.
HAYES: "ALL IN" starts right now. Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Happy Halloween.
Breaking news tonight. New revelations about the role of political considerations in decision making at the FBI.
Our colleagues on NBC News report the FBI has been conducting a preliminary inquiry, not yet a full-blown investigation, into former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort`s foreign business ties. Manafort denies any connections to Putin or the Russian government, telling NBC there is no investigation.
Also today, a report from CNBC sourced to a former FBI official that Director James Comey kept the FBI from signing on to an interagency statement blaming Russia for recent political hackings. Comey reportedly felt it was too close to the election. A second source later confirmed that same story to "The Huffington Post."
Now, this all comes as Comey faces growing backlash for his decision three days ago to announce that the Bureau had discovered a new trove of e-mails belonging to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, e-mails discovered during an investigation into Abedin`s estranged husband, Anthony Weiner, for allegedly sending elicit texts to an underaged girl.
Eight days until the election, a week and a day, we still have no idea what`s in those new e-mails. We don`t even know if they have anything whatsoever to do with the original investigation of potential classified information on Hillary Clinton`s private e-mail server.
According to "The New York Times," the FBI has now began to review Abedin`s e-mails after obtaining a search warrant last night, but it remains unclear if they are finished before Election Day.
What little we do know about the e-mails and about the decisions to make them public 11 days before the election has come largely from leaks to the press.
On Saturday, Fox News obtained an internal memo from Comey to the FBI in which he explains his thinking and acknowledges potential consequences, quote, "Given we do not know the significance of this newly discovered collection of e-mails, I don`t want to create a misleading impression. In trying to strike that balance in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it."
Anonymous sources told "The Washington Post" Comey had two main reasons for making the disclosure, a sense of obligation to lawmakers he testified before this summer and a concern that word of the new e-mail discovery would leak to the media and race questions of a cover-up.
According to a reporting by "The Wall Street Journal," and others, the Clinton probe has been the subject of an internal feud at the FBI, some investigators pushing for a more aggressive approach. And it`s been widely reported that, in disclosing the new e-mails, Comey acted against the guidance of his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and against Justice Department policy.
Earlier today, Clinton addressed the controversy during a campaign stop in Cleveland, Ohio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I`m sure a lot of you may be asking what this new e-mail story is about and why in the world the FBI would decide to jump in to an election with no evidence of any wrongdoing with just days to go.
CLINTON: That`s a good question. And I am sure they will reach the same conclusion they did when they looked at my e-mails for the last year. There is no case here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Meanwhile, Comey`s prediction about the, quote, "risk of being misunderstood" has already come true, with Donald Trump out on the campaign trail wildly distorting the little that is known about Abedin`s e-mails.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the biggest scandal since Watergate. 650,000, you know what I call that? That`s the mother load. That`s some -- I think you`re going to find the 33,000 that are missing, the 15,000 that are missing, the backs that are missing two weeks ago. You know, they had boxes of e-mails missing two weeks ago. I think we hit the mother load, as they say, in the good old mining industry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: To clarify, it`s been wildly reported investigators found a total of 650,000 e-mails belonging to Weiner and Abedin going back years, their e-mail accounts. What is not known at all is how many of those, if any, if a single one, have to do with Clinton or the State Department, much less if any of them came from Clinton herself.
While Trump is praising the FBI Director saying it took guts to come forward, there`s been a growing backlash against Comey from Democrats, fellow law enforcement officials, even Trump`s own political allies.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder published a column in "The Washington Post" calling Comey a man of integrity and honor but saying he has committed a serious error with potentially severe implications. Former Justice Department and White House officials from both sides of the aisle have offered similarly damning assessments of Comey`s conduct, as has no less a figure than Karl Rove. Current Fox News Host Bill Hemmer is saying Comey was wrong in July and was wrong on Friday.
It`s been everyone from Libertarian V.P. candidate Bill Weld, formerly Republican governor of Massachusetts to Alberto Gonzalez, the A.G. under George W. Bush, to Fox Host Jeanine Pirro, an ardent Trump supporter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WELD: I think it`s disgraceful. Ten days to go? I think it`s disgraceful. And I`m outraged by what`s going on here because it`s such a violation of Justice Department policies, procedures, whatever.
ALBERTO GONZALES, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: It was probably inconsistent with protocol. And so, in that sense, you have to question the decision. The protocols are put in place for a reason. It ensures more consistent decision making. It ensures that you take politics out of the decision making. And so, in that sense, you`d have to question this decision.
JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: Comey`s actions violate not only long- standing Justice Department policy; the directive of a person that he works under, the Attorney General; but even more important, the most fundamental rules of fairness and impartiality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Even some of the GOP`s most notorious flame throwers have been critical of Comey. Former Congressman Joe Walsh recently tweeted about grabbing his musket if Trump loses the election sent this tweet last night, "Look, I think Comey should have prosecuted her back in July, but what he did 11 days before the election is wrong and unfair to Hillary."
And then there`s sitting Congressman Jim Jordan, a member of the outspoken House Freedom Caucus who`s been floated as a possible replacement for Paul Ryan, in the case of a post-election leadership coup.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO (through phone): From the get-go, they`ve messed this up. So I actually agree. I think this is probably not the right thing for Comey to do, the protocol here, to come out this close to an election. But it`s consistent. This whole case, I think, they`ve mishandled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I`m joined now by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat, from Rhode Island, a former federal prosecutor. He`s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
And, Senator, let me make the case on behalf of Comey, which was, basically, this would leak. So instead of the Director of the FBI writing a letter, you would have reports popping up from unnamed anonymous officials saying, we found a whole bunch of new e-mails. And then it would look like a cover-up, so he had to do something. What do you think?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Well, if the Director of the FBI is saying that the FBI is not a safe place for classified information to go or confidential investigative information to go, that`s a problem that he needs to address in a very, very serious way.
There`s a very important public right at stake behind all of this, which is that prosecutors and investigative agencies, like the FBI, get incredible power to look through our personal lives, to look through our papers, to look through our e-mails, and they get that power at the price that they are not allowed to disclose it unless they`re bringing charges.
When I was the Attorney General of my state with broad criminal jurisdiction, when I was the United States Attorney, we had a very clear rule. Any derogatory information that we developed in an investigation had to be listed in the charging document, in the indictment or in the criminal information, or else we didn`t talk about it. And if there were no charges, then we would never divulge derogatory investigative information, least of all opinion about the suspect who had never been charged.
So Director Comey broke that rule right off the bat with his first press conference.
The second bright red flag is that you don`t engage with the legislature. He had no obligation to Congress to clarify anything. Once a prosecutor goes down the rat hole of trying to make sure that Congress thinks that what he`s doing is fair, there`s no going back. And Congress is perfectly able to manipulate that by denying its approval, by false criticism.
And so Comey is caught in a terrible trap now of his own making, and it`s stunning to people who are prosecutors if someone as experienced and honorable as him would`ve fallen into this trap.
HAYES: It`s fascinating to hear that from a member of the Article 1 branch, a U.S. Senator to say that this idea of sort of bending the Congress or being worried that he was misleading the Congress, you don`t think that`s a legitimate concern in this case?
WHITEHOUSE: That`s totally not a legitimate concern. Of all of the people that investigators involved in a criminal investigation should be concerned about, they have no obligation to Congress. What they have an obligation to is to the integrity of their investigation. And the integrity of their investigation includes keeping information confidential --
WHITEHOUSE: -- and within the investigation until it`s charged. You don`t get to be a smearer at large with derogatory information, and that`s what that rule is designed to protect against and that`s the trap that Director Comey fell into. And it`s astonishing.
HAYES: What`s so insane to me, and I`ve got to give kudos to the reporting team at NBC News that reported this Paul Manafort inquiry, but it`s the same problem there, right? I mean, this stuff should not be leaking. I mean, we`re journalists. We want to get information so it`s our job to go get it but from this sort of ethical standpoint about the sort of solemn duty.
I mean, what was crazy to me was, after the Comey letter, you then have three straight news days of articles still with nothing but warring factions of the FBI leaking info without an investigation anonymously and essentially prosecuting this in the court of public opinion and shredding any sort of presumption of innocence that might have existed.
WHITEHOUSE: This is a terrible week for the FBI. I have never seen the agency with such indiscipline, with such disregard for these basic prosecutorial principles. And ultimately, when the dust settles, whether it`s Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, the institution that`s going to suffer the most will be the Federal Bureau of Investigation for having broken these very, very basic principles of fairness and of prosecutorial conduct.
HAYES: All right. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, very strong words. Thank you for making the time, and I appreciate it.
I`m joined now by former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, co-chair of Hillary Clinton`s transition team, and Richard Painter, Chief White House Ethics lawyer under George W. Bush, who published a "New York Times" op-ed yesterday on Comey`s potential abuse of power.
And Mr. Painter, let me start with you. I mean, I read your op-ed. It was somewhat surprising to me, but there does seem to be a kind of collective gasp happening about what we have seen played out in the last three or four days.
RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER: Well, absolutely. The FBI`s job is to investigate, not to play politics. And the FBI not only doesn`t have an obligation to report to Congress but should not be reporting to Congress. And the members of the House Oversight Committee have no business pressuring the FBI to deliver to them information on their political enemies. In this case, Hillary Clinton.
Now, in this situation, it appears that the FBI did not have any derogatory information about Secretary Clinton because they hadn`t even gotten a warrant to look at the laptop. So they didn`t even know what was in there, and yet they are firing this letter up to the Hill telling the members of Congress that they have all these e-mails. That was inappropriate. And not only that, it was a violation of the Hatch Act because the only use of that letter, only conceivable use, is political.
And that`s exactly what was done with it. And it went up on the internet and then they passed the torch to Donald Trump and this is a tragedy for the FBI.
HAYES: I mean, I want to ask you a question, Jennifer, in a second, but let me just follow up on that. I mean, the Hatch Act, of course, is the federal statute that guides essentially that bars political activity essentially while on the federal dollar. It creates bright lines between essentially civil service activity and political activity. It`s a very important part of the kind of civil service architecture of the country. You`re accusing Comey of violating that. That`s a very serious thing to say.
PAINTER: No, I -- well, he did violate it. The members of Congress, they are not subject to the Hatch Act.
PAINTER: Neither is the President. But the President can`t order the FBI or pressure the FBI to investigate his political enemies. Neither can members of Congress. And that`s what`s been going on here, and we`ve had it going on for a year.
And the FBI`s conducted its investigation. They closed the investigation and, by the way, they did not reopen the investigation. I don`t know where that came from. But once this letter was sent, it`s been blown out of proportion in the media. It`s being used for politics, and the Hatch Act prohibits the use of official position to influence an election. And I can`t imagine a worse violation of the Hatch Act than the FBI getting involved in partisan politics in trying to influence elections.
HAYES: Jennifer, the Clinton campaign has been very aggressive on this. You know, they`ve organized several phone calls. They have been public in their frustration and condemnation of James Comey. They have accused him in the wake of the report about him keeping the FBI out of that letter about Russia of a double standard, that he was careful about that, not here.
Is the Clinton campaign sort of taking a sledgehammer to an important American institution in precisely the way that they`ve attacked Donald Trump for doing?
JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF MICHIGAN: Well, it certainly not just the Clinton campaign. You`ve got 50 state attorney generals who signed a letter. You`ve got 100 bipartisan investigation officials, people who are not affiliated with either camp, who have long spent their careers as professional investigators or prosecutors signing on saying this, as Mr. Painter has said, this is unprecedented.
I do think, though, Chris, the double standard issue is a really important one. Because, tonight, you`ve got this allegation, this acknowledgement that the FBI has opened an inquiry into Paul Manafort and his ties to Russia. And about a month ago, there was another report by "Yahoo" that the FBI and intelligence officials were investigating another official tied to the Trump campaign named Carter Page --
GRANHOLM: -- and who was supposed to have ties to Russia. Those things are really explosive, and if Comey came out and sent a letter to Congress saying, yes, I`m investigating the FBI for this, there would be incredible outrage. But you don`t hear any of that happening. So there is really --
HAYES: But let me stop you right there because the only way that we have that reporting is someone`s leaking it, which itself is improper.
GRANHOLM: Yes. Well, that is definitely true. But my point is, you don`t have the Director of the FBI coming out and confirming that.
HAYES: Right, on the record, signing his name.
GRANHOLM: And he is the face of the FBI, which is why this is such a pickle and which is why only he, now that he has gone halfway through this door, he needs to step through and tell us what he has. I know that it may be -- you know, we don`t know how big the universe is, we don`t know if it`s just, you know, e-mails that Huma sent saying print this or something like that or your car`s outside.
GRANHOLM: We have no idea what they are. But if it is an innocuous as I know the Clinton campaign believes it to be, then he has a duty to let the citizens know that there`s nothing here, if he can.
HAYES: Yes. This entire episode is a reminder of what a thin line it is between the FBI is independent and FBI is rogue, and we should, of course, remember that for much of his life, it was in the latter category. That`s something to keep in mind.
Jennifer Granholm and Richard Painter, thank you so much.
GRANHOLM: You bet.
HAYES: Still to come, from the shocking anti-Semitism shouted at the press during a Trump rally, the new unbelievable pro-Trump ad from White nationalists. We`ll talk about the emboldened Trump coalition or at least part of it, after this two-minute break.
HAYES: A disturbing scene at a Donald Trump rally in phoenix this weekend as a man turned to the media and chanted, quote, "Jew-S-A."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDELL: You`re going down. You`re the enemy. You`re the ones working for the devil. Maybe. Jew-S-A! Jew-S-A! Jew-S-A! Jew-S-A! Jew-S-A! Jew-S-A! Jew-S-A! We`re worried about the Jews, OK? No. Yes. Jew-S-A!
TRUMP: -- society will be a very, very high priority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That man has been identified as 51-year-old George Lindell, and he told BuzzFeed News we all just misheard him. "That`s the way I say USA," he said, adding, "I`m around Mexican people all the time. I speak a lot of Spanish. That`s just the way I say it." Not making it up. The claim is somewhat less plausible seeing as Lindell ended his rant by telling reporters, "We`re worried about the Jews, OK?"
Trump Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway described Lindell`s conduct as deplorable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We have seen a lot of anti-Semites and racists and misogynists who support the Trump candidacy. Do you --
KELLYANNE CONWAY, DONALD TRUMP`S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Wow.
TAPPER: Would you call that man deplorable?
CONWAY: Well, yes, I would. He`s conduct is completely unacceptable and does not reflect our campaign or candidate. Wow, I have to push back on some of the adjectives you just used to describe. I hope you`ve been to Trump rallies. These are USA-loving Americans who just want their country --
CONWAY: -- to be prosperous and safe again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It`s certainly true, the vast majority of Trump supporters are not people who chant "Jew-S-A." But it`s also true an awful lot of bigots have been drawn to Trump, one of them, self-proclaimed White nationalist William Johnson, who leaves a, quote, "The White race is dying out;" today, released a homophobic robocall attacking independent conservative candidate Evan McMullin who is threatening to defeat Trump in Utah, polling neck and neck.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAM JOHNSON, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN FREEDOM PARTY: Evan has two mommies. His mother is a lesbian married to another woman. Evan is OK with that. Indeed, Evan supports the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. Evan is over 40 years old and is not married and doesn`t even have a girlfriend. I believe Evan is a closet homosexual. Don`t vote for Evan McMullin. Vote for Donald Trump.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: Bigots who support Trump seem to have been particularly energized by policies like the Muslim ban and Trump`s characterization of many immigrants as rapists and criminals.
In New Mexico yesterday, Trump falsely claimed Hillary advocates, quote, "open borders" and certainly suggested she would allow 650 million people to, quote, "pour in," twice the current population, in just one week. He also cited a baseless claim from a union representing a fraction of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers who suggest immigrants will murder thousands of Americans if Clinton is elected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The immigration officers also warned that Hillary`s radical plan would result in the loss -- think of this -- of thousands of innocent American lives and an uncontrollable flood of illegal immigrants across the border taking jobs and crime would be rampant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Morgan State University Professor Jason Johnson, who`s a politics editor at "The Root."
And, Jason, I mean, I guess that, you know, it`s one of these things where you have this conversation, you point to all of these various people, and you say, look, it`s really a thing that these folks are supporting Trump, and the Trump folks say -- and I understand why they do -- look, you`re painting with a broad brush and the overwhelming majority are not like that. But I`ve been covering -- I mean, people don`t stand at the rally of a major party nominee chanting "Jew-S-A."
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: Right. Right. Look, Donald Trump is a racist and he gets support by racists. And this has not been a question for a long time. He started his campaign by saying there are rapist Mexicans and there are good Mexicans.
And this is a problem. And it`s not because we haven`t had racist presidents before. We definitely have throughout American history. But because he has mainstream --
HAYES: Yes, I would say that would be the norm, actually.
JOHNSON: Exactly. It`s like he`s not going to be the first, but he has mainstreamed it. Even the term "alt-right." Now, we have got like hipster neo-Nazis and that`s considered fine and sexy. He has made being an open, hostile bigot perfectly OK for a major party nominee and that is something dangerous, no matter if he loses next week.
HAYES: You know, and part of this also, I think, is the atmosphere that is driven by the campaign, right? So they`re not, you know --
HAYES: Campaigns are not responsible for everything their supporters do. That`s just a blanket, important rule. But they do not -- they have been slow to condemn certain things and there`s a way that those crowds are geared up.
Here`s Wayne Allyn Root who`s at a Trump rally as a sort of opening act talking about Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE ALLYN ROOT, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: I have a name for the future T.V. movie. It`s called "Driving Miss Hillary."
ROOT: And the ending, if we all get our wish, the ending is like "Thelma & Louise."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s a guy who is wishing, you know, on the record, at the podium that the candidate will speak of, the major party nominee, saying we all get our wish that these two people will die. That other party`s nominee will die. That`s --
HAYES: That is sort of par for the course rhetoric.
JOHNSON: Yes, and it`s become normal. And I don`t know, maybe that Hillary -- maybe that`s his new Trump T.V. show, I don`t know.
But what we`ve seen here is that, whether it`s Bill Burr, whether it`s a candidate in Senate in North Carolina, whether it`s Donald Trump, the idea of sparking direct violence against your political opponents is a degradation of public discourse in this country. It`s the suggestion that I will jail my political opponent once I`m elected is a degradation of public discourse in this country.
And here`s what happens. The reason that we usually have peaceful transfers of power is because people don`t worry that if they lose an election, they`re going to end up in a gulag. So when you start saying those kinds of things, it makes everyone much more concerned. I would not be surprised if we see violence after this election next week, and that`s not something anyone wants to see.
HAYES: Yes, I`m praying that that`s not the case.
HAYES: Richard Burr, the incumbent Senator in North Carolina, who is in a neck-and-neck battle, has some audio coming out of him addressing, as you referenced -- I want to play that audio -- you know, making a joke about Hillary Clinton and a gun magazine. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Nothing made me feel any better than I walked into a gun shop, I think, yesterday in Oxford. There was a copy of "Rifleman" on the counter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really.
BURR: It`s got a picture of Hillary Clinton on the front of it. I was a little bit shocked that that didn`t have a bulls-eye on it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: You know, and he says, look, that was a joke. He has since apologized, saying, I shouldn`t have said that, I apologize. But, you know, you cannot go to any event anymore where the range about the feeling about Hillary Clinton is either she should be in a jail or she should be dead.
JOHNSON: Right. And here`s what I see is ultimately the problem with this. You know, Kellyanne can say, look, the Trump campaign is trying to distance itself from it. This has been the problem in the Republican Party for years. This is what Reince Priebus tried to fix by saying, look, we need to open up the Party and make it a bigger tent. But instead, they have gone full bore and they embraced racists, they have embraced terrorist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan.
And, again, and the long-term consequences of this is, if you have sitting Senators who can make jokes about killing someone who may become President, what that does is embolden less stable, less intelligent, less invested people in this country --
JOHNSON: -- to attack, to shoot, to possibly try to capture a voting location and that`s a problem. And Trump is responsible for it.
HAYES: Yes. Let`s all remember, it didn`t start with Trump. Jesse Helms, former Senator from North Carolina --
HAYES: -- joked about the President being assassinated if he came to North Carolina back when Bill Clinton was President. Jason Johnson, thanks for being with me tonight. Appreciate it.
JOHNSON: It`s nothing (ph), Chris.
HAYES: Still ahead, over 23 million ballots have already been cast this election. The state of the race just eight days out, coming up.
HAYES: The legality of the actions of North Carolina elected Republican officials has once again been called into question, this time in a lawsuit alleging the state`s Board of Elections in three individual county election boards are purging voter rolls in a manner meant to disproportionately target African-Americans.
A lawsuit by the NAACP charges, quote, "canceling the voter registrations of thousands of North Carolina who have been targeted." The purge is based on so-called challenges to voter registrations. The lawsuit offers details on the disproportionate impact on Black voters. For example, in Beaufort County, Black voters make up 65 percent of the challenges even though the county is 26 percent African-American. There`s an emergency hearing on that lawsuit on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Winston, Salem.
All of this may sound very familiar because it was past this past July that a Federal Appeals Court struck down a North Carolina voter I.D. law saying its provisions deliberately target African-Americans with almost surgical precision in an effort to depress and suppress Black turnout at the polls.
And it was only a week ago that an analysis by the Elect Project, a leading authority on voting rates, showed that, low and behold, the reduction in early voting sites in North Carolina, again, pushed through by the state`s Republican Governor, reduced the number of early votes. For example, Guilford County, home to the predominately African-American city of Greensboro cut early voting locations from 16 to just one. It saw in- person voting decline roughly 85 percent.
The picture is one of Republican-controlled state and local government making it harder for African-Americans to vote sometimes targeting the means of voting that they know will be disproportionately used by black voters.
Nationwide, there have now been 23 million early votes already cast in this election, nearly 12 million in battleground states and that early voting acts as a kind of hedge against wild fluctuations in the dynamics of the race in the final days.
What effect is James Comey`s October surprise having on those polls? We`ll talk about that, next.
HAYES: One of the big questions at the moment is whether the FBI email review will affect the state of the race. In a newly released NBC News/Survey Monkey poll, Hillary Cslinton maintains her 6 point lead over Donald Trump. The week-long poll was conducting four days before and three days after the FBI news with no apparent movement in this particular poll.
Clinton maintained a similar lead in a two-way matchup, although surveyed over the weekend, 55 percent said the FBI email review was an important issue to discuss, while 44 percent said it was a distraction in the campaign. I can probably guess the partisan ID there.
Joining me now Harry Enten, senior political writer and analyst at FiveThirtyEight, and Christina Greer, associate professor at political science at Forham University.
So, let`s start with this -- the idea of how much this is going to affect the race, right, which a lot of people are thinking about. What`s your sort of general working theory right now?
HARRY ENTEN, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: You know, we`ve looked back at October -- quote/unquote October surprises in the past, right, some of them move the polls, some of them don`t. And if they do move the polls, it`s one or two points. You go back to July when Comey initially made his announcement there would be no criminal charges and Hillary Clinton dropped two points in the polls.
So it`s possible we get slight movement but no movement works perfectly well.
HAYES: You know, one of the reasons, Christina, I wanted to have you here is because I feel like there`s sort of way the political scientist models look at these elections and there`s the way that the sort of stats folks and the modelers do, and then there`s a way that the sort of cable news does.
CHRISTINA GREER, FORHAM UNIVERSITY: Right.
HAYES: And so, you konw, the political science idea I think if you had to sum it up is like the fundamentals are the fundamentals and most of this stuff is noise.
HAYES: Is that your general working theory?
GREER: If you would have asked me any other political year, I would have said yes. And so this is the only caveat to this is that this year and this particular candidate, in DJT, I try not to say his name, he`s so peculiar and so unique in a lot of because he is a celebrity, because he has dominated the media, because he`s essentially created in some ways a party within a party.
HAYES: Yep. And because he has no record in public office at all, which is weird.
GREER: Not a drop. Not a drop. And so some of our theories right now are on hold.
We don`t know if essentially, they are out of the window in some ways.
HAYES: I mean, the basic dynamics of the race, as I`ve sort of understood it.
So, we should say right now that the polling average has Clinton up in the three or four-point...
ENTEN: We have her by five, but, yes.
HAYES: Somewhere around there, that with 300 plus electoral votes if the election were held today. My general feeling about the election has been that a lot of the moving up and down, particularly with Trump has been whether he`s getting 75 or 92 percent of self-identified Republicans. And that they`ve tended to sort of drift away when he goes for a week attacking a judge as a Mexican who can`t judge him, despite the fact the man was born in Indiana. Or he has a feud with a gold-star family or he boasts about sexual assault, which is later confirmed by 12 women saying on the record alleging he did similar things.
But that that number -- it`s like a rubber band, that like they want to come back because they are partisan force a reason and he`s the Republican nominee. That`s the basic dynamic.
ENTEN: That`s exactly right.
And before this Friday, October surprise ever broke, we did see Trump was moving up slightly in the polls before then. So, even if he does rise, we can`t necessarily say it was because of this. It was because he was getting more Republicans than he was before after he shut his mouth.
HAYES: Right. And this -- but this is the key dynamic, right, is that even when he comes up to that sort of ceiling, right, that is not -- and the thing that has is so fascinating, and if you talk to the sort of data folks on the Clinton side, particularly, or the Democratic world, right, who think about this a lot, is like they just think they have more votes. They think the Obama coalition is a bigger coalition and if they do what they`re supposed to do from a technical standpoint, which is identify those voters, turn them out, that they have the bigger slice of the pie.
GREER: So, I`m of multiple minds on this and this keeps me up at night. I do think that Hillary Clinton, if we look at the electoral math, if we look at the states that she needs, I think my political science brain says she has them. If people sort of turn out, not even at Obama levels, but you know if we`ve taken the average, say, essentially from 1992 to the present, I think that she`s pretty solid.
The issue is, I wonder if some of these Trump people, who are first-time voters, who have never been polled.
GREER: I wonder if they will turn out and they are the noise that we actually haven`t been listening to.
HAYES: And there`s a lot of uncertainty here, right.
GREER: And with Hillary Clinton in a lot of ways, less is more. So the less Democrats see of her and the less independents see of her, the more they like her. And so in some ways that`s been a strategy, to sort of keep her...
HAYES: Although, I would disagree in this way. I think the less coverage they see of her, the more they like her. The more they see her, the more they like her.
GREER: She`s great one on one and with crowds, but it is the coverage of her, because...
HAYES: That`s the point.
GREER: We have scandal, we have drama. We have sort of sort of this throwback to 1992 and it`s all of the baggage that the Clintons bring. So, it`s the coverage -- I agree...
HAYES: That`s what`s so fascinating, really, is that when you look at the polling charts, right, the two biggest things that have happened from a polling perspective are the conventions, which was...
ENTEN: Great for her.
HAYES: Here`s Hillary Clinton talking to you and the first debate, which is here`s Hillary Clinton -- so the best things for her have been her actually out there with sustained attention on her as a person and her candidacy and then then as soon as that sort of ebbs then we see that sort of moving back in the direction.
GREER: The emails are a proxy for distrust.
HAYES: That`s right, yeah.
GREER: And unfortunately, you know, the more stories we get about these emails, the more -- especially independents are sort of struck with the fact that...
HAYES: But then the question about that is one of the things I think we`re seeing is how strong the partisan fundamentals are even in parsing the email story at this late stage of the race.
ENTEN: It was -- you asked them about this whole thing, the October surprise and you see in fact the Clinton voters are saying, no, we actually like her more.
HAYES: Right. Yes, right. It`s like -- and that`s the question is the big uncertainty is how many persuadables are left, and how much this stuff affects them, and how much uncertainty is introduced by the sort of Johnson...
ENTEN: The only reason that Donald Trump has closed the gap over the past few weeks isn`t because Hillary Clinton dropped, it was because Donald Trump went up and as long as...
HAYES: That`s always the number to look at, you see -- if he`s consolidating the Republican base. The point, though, is if he consolidates it to the levels that he`s at his highest...
ENTEN: It`s not enough.
HAYES: It still has not been enough.
Harry Enten, Christina Greer, thank you for that.
HAYES: Still to come, candid new accounts from those who working closely with Donald Trump, including how they coax him away from angry tweets. More on that ahead, but first, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts right after this break. Special Halloween theme.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, the president and first lady celebrated their final Halloween in the White House today when a group of kids started performing a dance to the Michael Jackson hit Thriller, they just couldn`t help themselves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The Obamas exit the White House. It`s no surprise this year, a lot of people based their Halloween costumes on two people who want to move in. Take this kid who is dressed as Donald Trump`s hair, that seems to stare at you no matter which way you look at it.
Katy Perry enlisted a whole makeup team to transform herself into pants suit wearing Hillary Clinton. And there`s my favorite so far, a woman this year who says she dressed up as 2016 in general with an amazing recreation of the this is fine dog based off this comic, which a lot of people have been sharing throughout the election. That is very well done.
There`s this costume, which has become a common theme at Trump rallies with Hillary Clinton -- haha, in a prison jumpsuit is getting arrested by two police officers, except not everyone in that picture is wearing a Halloween costume. That`s story is tonight`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Even Halloween isn`t providing a reprieve of the all consuming nature of the 2016 election. Take, for instance, this costume from a fall festival in Medford, Massachusetts where someone dressed as Hillary Clinton wearing a bright orange jumpsuit with the word inmate on it is getting arrested by two police officers. There`s just one thing about that, those are real police officers in uniform pretending to arrest Hillary Clinton, and that guy on the right is also president of a Medford Police Union.
The pictures were originally posted to the union`s Facebook along with the caption, look who NPD grabbed at the fall festive in Haynes Square (ph) today.
Now, Hillary wasn`t the only nominee they posed with. There`s also this picture of police officers hanging out with someone dressed as Donald Trump, the caption reading, "making America great again in West Medford Square" with a flag emoji, which is sort of a different feeling than the other one.
Both posts have since been removed and the president of the police union apologized saying in an email with the Boston Globe, "these were Halloween costumes. It was meant totally as a joke. I apologize if this offended anyone in any way. I never expected this sort of reaction. It was poor judgment on my part."
In his defense, nothing quite brings out poor judgment like Halloween and our long national nightmare of an election.
HAYES: The people closest to Donald Trump, the ones being paid to defend him whose main goal was to get him elected the most powerful office on the planet are the same people who have delivered some of the most damning assessments of his character.
In a piece our Saturday in New York Magazine, reporter Gabriel Sherman detailed the final days of the Trump campaign partly through the lens of campaign manager Kellyanne Conway. Sherman writes, "to hear Kellyanne Conway talk about managing her boss is to listen to a mother of four who has had ample experience with unruly toddlers. Instead of criticizing Trump`s angry tweets, for instance, she suggested he also include a few positive ones. I would say, here are a couple of cool things we should tweet today. It`s like saying to someone, how about having two brownies and not six."
This theme that Trump lacks self-control and discipline and is both easily manipulated but also wildly stubborn was illustrated again on Sunday when the New York Post first reported that Trump offered Chris Christie his vice presidential slot then rescinded it, something a Christie aid is denying.
According to that report, though, after tentatively deciding on Christie for the job, then campaign manager Paul Manafort tricked Trump into giving Indiana Governor Mike Pence a second look. Manafort reportedly concocted a story and told Trump his plane had a mechanical problem, campaign sources said, forcing Trump to spend another night in Indiana.
Pence then made his case to be Trump`s number two. Trump agreed to name Pence the next day.
If the petulance described by these advisers is one aspect of Trump`s profile, another is his very apparent obsession with revenge. We`ll tell you what his favorite bible verse is, and we`re not joking, next.
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TRUMP: If somebody hits me, i have to hit them back. I have to. I`m not going to be standing there like, oh, I`m wonderful, I`m a president.
What happens is, they hit me and I hit them back harder and usually in all cases they do it first but they hit me and I hit them back harder and they disappear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Donald Trump back in April describing what NBC reporter Benjy Sarlin called a strict code of vengeance that seems to be borne from pride for Trump. Same month, Trump told a radio host the bible verse that influenced him most, an eye for an eye.
Joining me now, Benjy Sarlin, political reporter for NBC News and MSNBC, and Michael Steele former RNC chairman and MSNBC political analyst.
And Benjy, this is a really good piece, because it`s -- there`s such a through line here. And it`s also not like hidden. I mean, he is very much explicit about the role that vengeance, retribution, you hit me, I hit you, he has a whole thing about counter puncher, like, that is central both to the way that he`s conducted his campaign and his world view.
BENJY SARLIN, NBC NEWS: Yeah, this is part of what people like about Donald Trump and what Donald Trump thinks himself as his guiding principle. You`ve heard him say so many times things like the clip you showed. Iou know, I`m a counterpuncher, he`ll say. You have to fight fire with fire, he`ll say. And he applies this to so many different things that I thought it would be good to take a piece that looks at who this explains Trump`s campaign and his world view. And you see it politically where he`ll really attack opponents viciously, often waiting until they attack him first or coming up with some excuse saying they attacked him.
But you also see it on a policy level in the way he talks about things like torture, or taking out families of suspected terrorists. There`s there`s this very strong element of retribution that often can sometimes skirt the bounds of the law in certain cases in terms of, you know, how far he`s talking about here.
HAYES: Yeah, killing terrorist family members is quite illegal.
SARLIN: ...war crime, yes.
HAYES: Michael, I mean, the thing I keep thinking about this is, you know, there`s this sort of creation myth of Donald Trump`s campaign about how he went to the last Correspondents` Dinner, the president, you know, dressed him down and poked fun at him and I`ll get you back. And you wonder how that`s going to be directed at the Republican Party should he fall short or even if he doesn`t fall short, if he wins, either way, you know, we saw Kellyanne Conway when Mark Kirk said that, you know, very unfortunate thing about Tammy Duckworth throwing dirt on the grave, you know, this is the guy that didn`t like -- you`ve got to think retribution is going to be on the mind after this election, win or loss, against the people he feels wronged him.
MICHAEL STEELE, FRM. RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, I think you`ve already seen some of that. I think we can gather, from Benjy`s piece, that Donald T is an old testament guy. So, we kind of established that. And because he`s an Old Testament guy, it really is coming out of the world of an eye for an eye and sometimes that extends into a lot of things that it shouldn`t. And for example, you`ve already seen just in the last few weeks where the Trump campaign is like, you know, we`re not raising any more money for the party. We`re just not. And that`s just not what you do.
STEELE: You know, with two or three weeks left in a presidential campaign.
So there`s some aspects of this where Donald Trump has had enough of the GOP. He`s been fed up with this as he would look at them sort of elitists, weak-minded leadership and sort of taking a strike out on his own to finish his campaign up on his terms in the way he wants to. And that, again, is a slap in the face to the party.
HAYES: You know, part of it, also, this other sort of aspect of his personality pretty well documented, the way that people who work for him talk about him. Let me say that, for the record, that there`s a sort of common theme like staffers on Capitol Hill tend to sort of infantalize their bosses sometimes, like you have to sort of manipulate them, moe them, producers in cable news think talent are idiots that need to be like led to water.
This is sort of a common sort of trope among people who have to staff folks, particularly if those people have big egos or can be difficult. But it`s another level with the way that Trump staff talks about him. I mean, everyone around him is always talking about trying to kind of get this completely unruly undisciplined person to do these like seemingly simple things. And Michael, it just seems like a tremendous condemnation of the temperament of a person that you want to give the nuclear codes to, like you need to cajole him with brownies. Like, we`re talking about the most powerful job in the world.
STEELE: Well, look, every president can use a few brownies.
HAYES: That`s true.
STEELE: It`s not like this hasn`t happened in other administrations.
HAYES: That`s true. There`s a baseline to that...
STEELE: Yeah, there is. But I take your point this way because there is something about the difference that has been a stark one for Donald Trump. Here`s a guy who`s basically done a lot in business and in the private sector on his own against the odds without a lot of people telling him how to do it and, quite frankly, not giving a damn what they thought about how he was doing it from the very beginning when his dad said don`t go to Manhattan. He was like, yeah right, I`m going to Manhattan.
So, it should not surprise us that you take this sort of asymmetrical out of the box person who has never had to account to anyone other than himself and bring him into politics and we`re asking why aren`t you doing what we tell you to do? It just doesn`t work like that. And the expectation that it ever would is basically a shame on us for thinking it.
HAYES: Right. Although, discipline, I think matters in the White House.
STEELE: Oh, it does. No, it does.
SARLIN: It`s not like he`s being wild and out of control, though, right? It goes back to this theme. One of the things they`ve had to fight with him to stop him from? It was Judge Curiel...
HAYES: It`s retribution.
SARLIN: It was Machado, it was the Kahns and then Paul Ryan.
HAYES: It`s like don`t fight with people other than Hillary Clinton.
SARLIN: Exactly. It`s been consistent every time, and it`s because he knows that, look, it`s like you just showed up in my life a minute ago. I`ve been living by this code my entire adult life. And it fits in perfectly, and that`s why they have trouble with him.
HAYES: Benjy Sarlin, Michael Steel, thanks for joining us. That is All In for this evening.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END