All In With Chris Hayes, Transcript 12/15/2016

Guests: Ken Dilanian, Tommy Vietor, Mickey Edwards, Charlie Pierce

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: December 15, 2016 Guest: Ken Dilanian, Tommy Vietor, Mickey Edwards, Charlie Pierce


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Then, the future leaders of Trump`s business at the president-elect`s official business meeting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not going to discuss those things. We`re just - - it doesn`t matter. He`s -- trust me.


HAYES: Today, Democrats escalate the fight on his business conflicts. Plus, North Carolina Republicans move to strip power from the new democratic governor.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is happening now is unprecedented.


HAYES: And Trump`s new war with "Vanity Fair" and the editor who first dubbed him short-fingered.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I`d buy a slightly smaller than large glove, OK?


HAYES: When "All In" starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. In 36 days, Donald Trump becomes the president of the United States.

Today, Trump continues to contest the U.S. intelligence community`s near- unanimous conclusion that Russia directed cyber espionage against Democrats during the presidential campaign. Last night, we reported that two senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally involved in what the intelligence community concludes was a covert campaign to influence the U.S. election.

According to those officials, who could belong to any one of the 17 different U.S. intelligence agencies, we don`t know, intelligence community now believes with a, quote, "high level of confidence" that Putin, himself, directed the use of hacked material from the DNC -- Clinton Campaign Chair, John Podesta, and almost a dozen democratic House candidates. Now, while the Kremlin calls the report, and I`m quoting here, "laughable nonsense," NBC News reporting intelligence officials ascribing a high-level of confidence to their conclusions, which is about as definitive as intelligence analysts get.

And yet, this morning, the president-elect tweeted, "If Russia or some other entity was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?" In fact, the president-elect is mistaken.

The Obama administration did act before the election. In fact, on October 7, the office of the director of national intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security, both part of the executive branch, released a pretty remarkable joint statement declaring formally in writing that "The U.S. intelligence community, including all 17 military and civilian intelligence agencies, are confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions."

That conclusion, in other words, was effectively unanimous. The Kremlin`s specific intent is what remains somewhat less certain.

Last week, the "Washington Post" reported on a secret CIA assessment that Russia was actively trying to help Trump win the White House. That`s still a matter of dispute within the intelligence community.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who now says his presidential campaign was also hacked by the Russians, is among those convinced by the evidence of Russian involvement.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I`m a hundred percent certain that the Russians hacked into Podesta`s e-mails, the DNC and other political organizations. I have been briefed.

I don`t think anybody who`s heard these briefings doubt that the Russians were interfering in our election.


HAYES: President-elect has been receiving intelligence briefings. Until now, they`ve been weekly instead of the usual daily session.

According to his transition team, as of now, Trump is getting the briefings three times a week. Nevertheless, Trump continues to dispute the intelligence community`s determination that Russia was responsible for the hacks, blamed Democrats for trying to delegitimize the election.


TRUMP: They have no idea if it`s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed someplace. I mean, they have no idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So why would the CIA put out the story that the Russians wanted you to win?

TRUMP: Well, I`m not sure they put it out. I think the Democrats are putting it out because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country.

Personally, it could be Russia. It -- I don`t really think it is. But who knows? I don`t know either.

They don`t know and I don`t know.


HAYES: President Obama has ordered a full review of Russia`s role in the hacks and the director of national intelligence. An investigation is already lined up in two different senate committees.

On top of that, the issue will very likely come up in Senate confirmation hearings for Exxon Mobil CEO, Rex Tillerson, Trump`s nominee for secretary of state, a man who reportedly knows Putin well, personally, and because of his interests in the region, has opposed sanctions against Russia over its aggression in Ukraine. Republican senators, including John McCain and Marco Rubio have raised questions about Tillerson`s nomination.

And Lindsey Graham says he has a few questions ready for his confirmation hearing.


GRAHAM: Do you realize what Russia`s up to here and all over the world? And are you willing to do something about it?

Do you support new sanctions? And if he doesn`t, I`d be very hard for me to vote for him because you`re giving a green light to this behavior.


HAYES: We go now to Ken Dilanian, national security reporter for NBC News.

And Ken, what`s the latest on this line of reporting that you and -- and NBC News have been pursuing?

KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, Chris, the latest is that it`s now turned into a political dispute between the White House and Trump. And we also detect that Trump is pivoting a bit, even though you rightly pointed out that he wasn`t accurate in his tweet this morning.

He also didn`t deny this time that it was Russia. And a top transition aide gave an interview with MSNBC`s Brian Williams last night, where he seemed to acknowledge that the intelligence is pointing to Russia.

And he said, hey, we`re upset about this. And we`re just taking time to decide how we`re going to respond. So our understanding, our -- we presume that Donald Trump and/or Mike Flynn are being briefed on this intelligence about Russia--


DILANIAN: --being behind the hacks.

HAYES: That`s part of the issue here, right. Of course, this is something that, you know, whether the intelligence community has made the correct determination or not, it is clearly the determination they`ve made.

And they are clearly the people that are channeling that determination presumably three times a week, day after day, to Mike Pence and to Donald Trump and to General Flynn because that`s the conduit for their -- their intelligence briefings.

DILANIAN: Right. So it`s going it be really difficult presumably for Donald Trump to continue to say, it wasn`t Russia. And -- and it`s going to be even harder if there is a public document which we believe there will be at the end of the Obama administration, summing up the intelligence, saying this was Russia.

HAYES: Yes, that`s -- that`s the key to me that -- that hangs over all, is (ph) that -- that, well, the president ordering that document to be made public, to be compiled and made public before January 20 means that at a certain point, we won`t be relying on intelligence officials. So we will be -- we will have a public document that everyone can look at.

DILANIAN: Yes, it`s not going to satisfy people who are looking for court of law proof because you can`t do that in intelligence. I mean, you -- if you do that, you`re giving up sensitive sources of methods.

But it`ll be -- presumably, it`ll -- it`ll go much further than the October statement, which was pretty definitive and -- and will (ph) talk a little bit in more detail about what exactly happened here.

HAYES: All right, Ken Dilanian, thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

DILANIAN: Thanks (ph).

HAYES: And I`m joined now by Reesh appreciate it. Joined by Tommy Vietor, former national security spokesman under President Obama.

Tommy, this whole thing is -- is -- is remarkable for -- for a million different reasons. What -- what do you, as someone who worked inside the national security process in the White House, which is a very rigorous and complicated process, what do you make of this kind of geyser of -- of information we`re now getting about what determinations the intelligence community has made about this?

TOMMY VIETOR, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY SPOKESMAN FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: Sure, I mean, it seems like they`ve been gathering information over time as the story has unraveled. Ken`s reporting leads me to believe that the source for the Putin anecdote was a liaison source, a friendly intelligence service who had a source in the Russian government, who`s able to tell us that Putin -- Putin personally signed off on this operation.

That`s a -- that`s a big deal. But it doesn`t necessarily surprise me. So I`m sure there have been ongoing deliberations throughout about how to respond.

It`s been reported that President Obama directly confronted Vladimir Putin during the election. We don`t know whether or not there were other covert responses.

But there is, you know, a question of what a response against Russia would have done during the election could have stopped Wikileaks from dripping out these e-mails once they had them. I don`t know that there is one.

HAYES: Yes, to -- to folks that say that people that are focusing on this or attempting to delegitimize a Donald Trump victory, what`s your response to that? Is that what you`re trying to do?

VIETOR: My response to that is that -- that Russia attempted to delegitimatize our elections. And we should be worried about that as a country, regardless of party.

And when you see a president like Donald Trump who is skipping his intelligence briefings, where he has the opportunity, unlike the rest of us to go to the briefers and say, who was the source. How do we know this?

Give me every detail. Show me every document. Prove this to me. And then he could know with greater confidence than almost anyone else in the world.

HAYES: That`s a great point, right? Like we all have to sort of sift through this from the outside. And it`s sort of maddening, right, because- -


HAYES: --the amount of evidence we have is -- is -- is relatively sparse. There`s some stuff in CrowdStrike, which is employee (ph) of the DNC. But- -

VIETOR: Right.

HAYES: --but he`s the one person who can say, I am skeptical of your claims. I want you to show me every bit of work. I want every "I" dotted and every "T" crossed.

Take me through it as long as it takes. He is the person that could do that.

VIETOR: He could do it tomorrow. And I`m glad that as a country, we have -- we treat intelligence reports or anonymous ones with some skepticism. But Ken is a great reporter.

And I believe what he`s reporting out here -- and there`s only certain countries with the capability and the motives to undertake such an action. And I think we need to take this deadly seriously and get to the bottom of it (ph).

HAYES: You know, one of the things that strikes me, I mean, people are viewing this, I think, in the -- in the prism of rearview, right? What happened--

VIETOR: Right.

HAYES: --in the election, how definitive and determinative it was of the outcome and -- and what will happen now. But the scope of what could be done again and again and again if this sort of penetration becomes routine is staggering to consider.

I mean, there is 535 members of Congress, many of whom use private e-mails. Who knows--

VIETOR: Right.

HAYES: --which of those have been penetrated, which compromising details are now being held by foreign operatives or whoever to be used for whatever purposes when the need arises.

VIETOR: Right. I mean, there`s long been a concern that someone could collect information on an individual and use that to blackmail them, to turn them as a source. Now, it`s just that we`re at a point where we -- they`ve been collecting information on people in the government.

And they just release it to humiliate them or to get involved in our elections or our political process. And that is a precedent that, you know, Putin has done this in countries that are his neighbors, in places where we thinks he has a claim to territory.

For them to meddle at this level in our election is an enormous escalation of his cyber activities. And we need to figure out a response that I think is overt as well as covert, to send a message that they can`t get away with this.

HAYES: You know, this -- this -- this point about the escalation, I want you -- I want -- I want to sort of elaborate that because it does strike me that there were some -- there was some sort of wink and nod about this early on. Vladimir Putin, the first time, was confronted and said, well, I think what`s in them is more interesting than how they were obtained--

VIETOR: Right.

HAYES: --right? No direct denial. There is a Russian official who I think at one point even said, well, we may have had something to do with that sort of (ph) cheekily (ph). Today, it`s gotten much more hard-edged denials.

What do you make of that? Is that them recognizing just what an escalation it would be if they were to say, yes, we did this?

VIETOR: Yes, I think part that and it`s also just their M.O. They deny everything. They`re serial liars.

And they want to be able to go to the international community and get their allies on board if we respond and say, this is an unprecedented action on the Americas. I mean, there`s some theories that Putin views this as a response to the Panama papers, which leaked all sorts of documents about his cronies who were sitting on billions of dollars.

HAYES: Right.

VIETOR: Literally a cellist worth $2 billion who happens to be buddies with him -- wonder how that happened. But you know, so they`re probably trying to prevent further action by the United States.

But it`s also, you know, been well-reported that he had a vendetta against Hillary Clinton. So this could have been the completion of that.

I mean, we don`t entirely know. But it seems like they want to spread this information in response to their disinformation.

HAYES: All right, Tommy Vietor, thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

VIETOR: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: Joining me now, former Congressman Mickey Edwards, Republican from Oklahoma.

Mickey, I`m curious what you make of the Republican Party response to this. I think a lot of partisan lines have been scrambled.

You got the -- the fallout from this has been sort of fascinating to track. What`s -- what`s your sense of -- how would you like to see the Republican Party respond?

FORMER REP. MICKEY EDWRADS (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, you know, Chris, so far, this has been Donald Trump and the Kremlin against the American government. And Republicans -- this is not a partisan issue.

This is a major problem when another country, whether it`s Russia, China, anybody else, interferes with American elections. That is one of the most important attacks on our system that we`ve ever seen.

And there is no place here for partisan politics. So it can`t be just Lindsey Graham. It can`t be just John McCain.

The Republicans generally, the Republican leadership in the party, in -- in the House and the Senate, need to speak out and say, this is unacceptable. And we`re going to act against it to try to make this just something where Democrats have sour grapes is really an abandonment of their duty.

HAYES: So you think the -- you think Republicans in Congress, who are essentially saying, we`re not that interested in this, or this is -- this is just democratic sour grapes are abandoning their duty, you`re saying?

EDWARDS: Yes, look, this is not an attack on a particular facility or an attack on some other kind of temporary thing. This is an attack on the American political system, the American governing system.

That is one of the most important issues we have faced in decades and decades. This is something that anybody who treats this in a partisan way -- that includes Democrats--

HAYES: Right.

EDWARDS: --if Democrats use it, you know, as an anti-Trump sour grapes thing, that doesn`t count. This is totally beyond partisanship.

This requires united action by all Americans and especially all members of the administration, the Congress, you know, saying, we -- we won`t put up with this. We`re going to find a way to retaliate.

We`re not going to let this happen again.

HAYES: You know, Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland has called for a -- a select committee. Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois, Democrat, also, was on my show yesterday and called for a select committee, something akin to the 9/11 commission, although--


HAYES: --maybe it would just be appointed with -- with regular members of the Senate. Is that appropriate, some sort of select committee that -- that has the task of getting to the bottom of this as much as practicable and that publishes findings?

EDWARDS: It has to be a select committee with high-ranking members on it. You can`t go through the normal -- I know Paul Ryan and others have -- and Mitch McConnell, well, we can use our regular intelligence committees.

And, yes, they are capable of doing it. But we -- we need more of a united front on this.

We need something, you know, big and powerful like a select committee that has most of the more senior members of Congress on it, treating this as the serious issue that it is.

HAYES: Rex Tillerson obviously has a -- has a close relationship with Vladimir Putin in -- in a relative sense and -- and a very close business relationship. There`s a half-a-trillion-dollar deal signed with Russian companies in the Kremlin.

How much do you anticipate these questions about this will factor in his confirmation hearings?

EDWARDS: Oh, I think they`re going to come in. I think he`s helped by the fact that both Bob Gates and -- and Kondi Rice (ph), who I -- I respect both--


EDWARDS: --have -- have spoken well of him. But it`s a legitimate question. It`s a legitimate question for how anybody, including the president, the president-elect, how they are going to deal with Russia.

You know, personal business relationships, personal friendships inside Russia, they don`t count here. It`s a matter of can you stand up for American interests, American policy?

Forget (ph) -- this is not about how you can be friends with anybody in any foreign government. It`s how you can stand up for the -- the security and the interests of this country, period.

And he needs to be questioned about that.

HAYES: All right. I should note that Mr. Gates and Ms. Rice (ph) both receive payments from Exxon for work they did at -- at various points.

EDWARDS: Yes, I do.

At various points.


HAYES: Congressman, do you think there is anything, there is (ph) -- if this sort of partisan moment, is there anything you could imagine that would sort of satisfy folks to come to the conclusion to sort of come to some sort of bipartisan consensus about what actually transpired?

EDWARDS: Well, you know, you have to hope that when the Republicans and the Democrats standing together side by side on the House floor, and in the Senate, taking the oath of office, will pay close attention to what they have just said, the oath they have just taken and will say, today, we`re not just Democrats, we`re not just Republicans. We`re Americans.

We have been attacked by another government. We`re going to do something about it.

HAYES: All right. Former Congressman Mickey Edwards, Republican of Oklahoma, thanks for your time tonight. Appreciate it, sir.

EDWARDS: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Up next, Senator Elizabeth Warren ramps up the fight on Donald Trump`s business conflicts, trying to force the president-elect to put his company into a blind trust. The democratic escalation after this break.


HAYES: Senator Elizabeth Warren threw down the gauntlet today on the issue of the president-elect`s conflicts of interest, tweeting, "Americans deserve to know the president is doing what`s best for the country, not using his office to do what`s best for himself." The only way for Donald Trump to eliminate conflicts of interest is to divest his financial interests and place them in a blind trust.

Senator Ben Cardin, Senator Chris Coons, Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Jeff Merkley and I will introduce a bill in January to implement the emoluments clause, placing assets and a true blind trust has been the standard for our previous presidents. Our bill makes clear, we expect Trump to do the same."

And this comes just one day after the president-elect met in his official capacity with tech leaders and in attendance, three of Trump`s adult children, including the two, Don, Jr. and Eric, that Trump has claimed will run the Trump businesses. In the same week, he tweeted, "Two of my children, Don and Eric plus executives, will manage the businesses."

The president-elect canceled the news conference he had scheduled to hold today to reveal just how he plans to wall himself off from his business empire after tweeting back on November 30, "I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total." In a series of tweets at the (ph) time, Trump added, "I feel it is visually important as president to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses."

But here we are, on December 15, and this is the visual that we have. Joining me now, Charlie Pierce, writer at large at "Esquire."

Charlie, you`ve been covering politics a long time. I -- it`s amazing how quickly things sort of seem not so crazy.

But I had to remind myself that it was bizarre that the people that run the president-elect`s businesses are sitting in a meeting with other tech executives that`s punitively official business of the president-elect in his capacity as the incoming representative of the American people.

CHARLIE PIERCE, WRITER AT LARGE, ESQUIRE: And they are his children.

HAYES: Right.

PIERCE: This is the reality show version of King Lear. You know, we`re -- we`re one of the two sons to say something untoward.

In theory, the president-elect could disown him, cast him into the outer darkness, make him play public golf courses. The whole thing is a circus.

Elizabeth Warren and -- and her two friends are going to -- to -- to propose legislations to implement the emoluments clause? There`s only one way to implement the emoluments clause.

That`s to impeach the president.

HAYES: Well--

PIERCE: And if he`s in violation of that, that`s the only remedy.

HAYES: Well, that (ph)--

PIERCE: That`s like -- that`s like saying you`re going to -- you`re going to -- you`re going to pass legislation to implement the fact that he shouldn`t -- to implement the laws against him, peddling national security material, you know, to the Belgians.

HAYES: Right, right. Well, so here`s the question, right? I mean, the -- the -- it seems to me a legislative tactic that announces that the Democrats are going to find ways to escalate on this as much as possible and to keep pressure on the administration. And I think the fact that the president-elect has now kicked the can down the road, obfuscated, tweeted about, canceled the press conference, did a whole bunch of different things, shows that they are, at some level, defensive about this.

PIERCE: Well, yes, because there -- there is -- there is no way around the emoluments clause in this -- in this case. I mean, there just -- there just isn`t.

And handing your businesses to two people whose livelihoods depend on you that you happen to be related to is not the way to do it, all right? That -- that -- no one`s going to buy that.

I`ve spent five years covering the Massachusetts state legislature. None of those people would try this.

HAYES: Here is -- I actually thought this quote today was amazing. I wanted to read it to you immediately.

Sean Spicer (ph), defending -- defending the conflicts of interest and explaining why they`re not conflicts of interest. Take a listen to this. All right.

"You tell everyone here is what`s going on. Here is the process. Here are the people that are playing a role.

That`s being transparent. Conflicts of interest arise when you`re not, when you`re sneaky about it, when you`re shady about it, when you`re not transparent about it."

So what he`s saying is if we -- if we do this in broad daylight and we say, yes, the president`s kids are running his businesses, the -- the interests conflict with the United States government at certain times in unspecified ways, as long as they say that, then it`s not a conflict.

PIERCE: That`s right. And if we want to sell Yellowstone to Gazprom, as long as it`s an open auction, we`re OK with it.

HAYES: I think this is crazy. I mean--

PIERCE: This is completely nuts.

HAYES: Well, and -- and -- and it`s funny you make that -- that example, right, the sell Yellowstone to Gazprom because part of the problem here is, you know, so much of this is behind the cloak of the corporate structure that they have, that it`s -- it`s -- it is from the outside, going to be very hard to penetrate and know exactly what`s happening, which is precisely why Spicer`s own standard is -- is there`s no way they`re going to meet even the standard that Spicer is laying out.

PIERCE: Yes, that`s a -- that`s a very good point, actually. They`re not going to do that either. He has decided, and I think he decided this.

And -- and, you know, there`s no reason why he shouldn`t have decided this, when he was allowed to run for president without releasing his tax returns, there`s nobody out there who can make me do anything. And there are limited things you can do to -- there are limited vehicles for which you can make any president, once he`s sworn in, do something.

HAYES: It`s funny that you said King Lear because I keep having this thought, I mean (ph), look at those photos of the -- of the meeting in Trump Tower and the -- and the camera that`s in the -- in the lobby of Trump Tower, that what has been set up in a month is something that looks much more like a king`s court than anything I`ve seen in sort of democratic culture. It`s -- the whole idea that you come, you get an audience with the king, you kind of come before him and then you flatter him and you try to find your way to his heart and maybe he`s mercurial one day or he`s merciful the next, or maybe through the, you know, through the -- the affection of his daughter, you can get him to care about climate change.

It`s -- it has this sort of monarchial quality to it already. Do you -- does it strike you the same way?

PIERCE: Absolutely. He`s created -- he`s created his own royal court around himself. And it`s -- it`s what authoritarians do, whether they want to wear a crown or not, that`s what they do.

Everyday, you know, the presidency is uniquely vulnerable to the impulse of the cordier (ph) -- of the cordiers (ph). And this guy has spent most of his adult life surrounded by cordiers (ph), including the ones he, himself, has bred.

So yes, that looks very similar to me. I would point out if we`re going to extend the King Lear analogy, that this week, there is absolutely no question that Mitt Romney is the fool (ph).

HAYES: Charlie Pierce, bring the Shakespeare. Thank you very much.

PIERCE: Thank you.

HAYES: Still to come, facing an incoming democratic governor, Republican lawmakers in North Carolina are moving to strip the power of the governor`s office before he`s sworn in. That absolutely unbelievable story is coming up.


HAYES: A verdict today in one of the most heartbreaking and horrifying acts we`ve seen in this country, a jury taking just two hours to find 22- year-old white supremacist, Dylann Roof, guilty on all 33 counts for opening fire and killing nine African-Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina during a weekly -- weekly bible study last June. Roof will now face the same jury next month during the sentencing phase of the trial with jurors deciding if he will spend life in prison without parole or face the death penalty.

Roof who stood motionless as the verdict was read aloud today plans to defend himself. We traveled to South Carolina last year to speak to community leaders in the wake of Roof`s horrific attack, which set (ph) off shockwaves nationwide and eventually led South Carolina lawmakers to remove the confederate flag from the capitol grounds.

The funeral last June for South Carolina State Center, Clementa Pinckney, was killed in the attack, an emotional President Obama broke into song.


BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.



HAYES: It is being called legislative coup in North Carolina. The GOP- controlled legislature making a brazen push to sharply reduce the power of the new Governor Democrat Roy Cooper before he even takes office.

A move comes after Republicans spent weeks contesting Cooper`s narrow victory over Republican Pat McCrory with McCrory baselessly claiming widespread voter fraud. And once McCrory finally conceded, Republicans then took a new tack. After calling a surprise special session, Republican lawmakers introducing measures to end the governor`s control over election boards, to

require state senate approval of the new governor`s cabinet members and to strip his power to appoint university of North Carolina trustees among many other measures.


ROY COOPER, (D) NORTH CAROLINA: I believe that laws passed by the legislature hurt working families and are unconstitutional, they will see me in court. And they don`t have a very good track record there.


HAYES: Well, that is certainly true. Republicans only have the power to push the changes through because they have a super majority in both houses which they`ve been able to hold onto because of the way they drew the state`s legislative districts. Earlier this year, a court ruled that North Carolina`s districts are, quote, "racially gerrymandered and unconstitutional as such."

And while the districts are being redrawn, new elections won`t come until next year.

Earlier this year, the courts also struck down North Carolina`s GOP-imposed voting restrictions as racially discriminatory, concluding the new measures "target African-Americans with almost surgical precision," that`s the court writing.

Republican-controlled county election boards implemented much of the law, anyway, but things were about to change because under new Governor Roy Cooper, those county election boards, which

Republicans had used to push their agenda, were set to turn Democratic. And so in their special session yesterday in just one example of their unprecedented power grab, Republicans put forth legislation to prevent those boards from falling under Democratic control.

Joining me now, North Carolina Democratic Congressman David Price.

And congressman, I was seeing folks in North Carolina tweeting about this last night. I was reading some of the coverage and reporters I follow, this was -- this was shockingly brazen by the Republicans in your state.

REP. DAVID PRICE, (D) NORTH CAROLINA: Brazen is the right word. I have never seen anything like it in my political lifetime. This is a power grab that is just unbelievable, and it`s really an attempt to reverse an election that they lost. The last time we talked, we were fearful that Republicans might find a way to take the governor`s election into the general assembly. Now they`re attempting something like that result with an attempt to deny the governor, the duly elected governor, a whole range of powers.

It`s just one thing after another. It`s audacious and we`ve just never seen anything like it.

HAYES: Yeah, just so folks are sort of familiar with the timeline here, your state has been under essentially one-party rule with super majorities in both houses. It`s given Republicans essentially cart blanche. they have passed a raft of legislation, much of it unpopular, in fact that`s probably the reason that McCrory lost, some of it struck down by the courts including the way they drew their districts.

And then after losing the gubernatorial election, they called a special session. Now, what is a special session?

PRICE: A special session is pretty much like a lame duck session in the U.S. congress. It`s called for the outgoing legislature to meet in the interim period between the election and the inauguration of the new governor and the swearing in of the new legislature.

Now, there was a reason for a special session to be called in we needed to vote for disaster relief, state-level disaster relief to complement what we got at the federal level. What is unprecedented, though, is tacking onto that this additional special session, which no notice was given. I mean, it was a very, very quick thing, a matter of a few hours.

The legislature announced they`d be having an additional special session and that this one was

going to be aimed at a whole raft of efforts to reduce the governor`s powers.

HAYES: Wait, I`m sorry, did I hear that correct, you said a couple of hours? They held a special session, everyone knew there was going to be this disaster relief and then they said in a few hours we`re going to vote on a bunch of stuff to essentially strip huge swaths of power away from the governor?

PRICE: Absolutely. All -- everything we`re talking about here has happened in the last 48 hours, to be generous.

And this is a pattern. The -- the decision to deny Medicaid to half a million people early on in this legislature`s history, the voter suppression laws that you`re talking about. the extreme gerrymandering that you`re talking about. All of these things were done with very, very little, if any,

public notice, no hearings, no deliberation. And in the middle of the night, all of a sudden you have this massive legislation and the most recent example is the notorious HB2, which as you say the voters very strongly reacted against.

In fact, you can argue that the reason McCrory lost where Republicans were winning elsewhere on the ticket, Governor McCrory lost because I think people did see it as a referendum, see the election as a referendum on this state`s sharp right turn.

So here they do it again. There`s been no discussion of this, no deliberation, no consideration of the consequences, no hearing from the affected parties. We`re just presented with, I don`t know, something like 20 bills. Who knows which ones they`re going to take seriously, and you know you`d say this is like a banana republic except that would insult banana republics.

HAYES: You`ve got, I mean, to me, what`s so striking is there`s all these powers that adhere to the governor of the state of North Carolina, theyr`e part of what the governor has the power to do,

and they`re not some sort of broad dictatorial powers, it just he appoints seats on the election boards and the counties. He appoints trustees to the university. Those were, I just want to be clear, those were powers that the Republican governor, Pat McCrory, had, and there was no debate in the state those were

ridiculous powers for the governor to have, right?

PRICE: No, we`re talking about the trustees for the components of the state university system, we`re talking about the state board of education. And I tell you, it`s even worse than that because four years ago when Pat McCrory came in, this legislature increased the number of positions subject to his

appointment. That is outside of--

HAYES: Wait, when they come in, they say, you know what, we need -- we Republicans believe this governor, the governor should have more power and they increased the number of positions he can appoint and then after he loses and a Democrat is going to come in, they call a special session within a matter of hours to restrict the number of people he can appoint?

PRICE: Yeah, that`s exactly right. They increase from about 500 to 1,500 the number of appointments he could make on a political basis. Now in this special session, they cut that back to 300.

which, is the lowest it`s been in modern time.

And they expect, I guess, voters to accept that.

HAYES: That--

PRICE: Plus, all these other appointments you`re talking about, plus the distorting of the boards of elections. They`re going to -- that, I think, you can safely see as an attempt to continue to give Republicans a veto power on voter suppression.

HAYES: That`s right. And I think that will probably end up with a pretty good case in

court. Representative David Price, thanks for your time tonight. Appreciate it.

PRICE: Thanks so much.

HAYES: Still ahead, Democratic resistance in the Trump era. Why some are calling for the

party to, and I`m quoting, fight like Republicans. I`ll talk to two people making that argument coming up.

Plus Trump gets baited by a bad review. That`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two which starts right after this break.


HAYES: Thing One in the Twitter feed of president-elect today, nestled between pretty standard tweets about visitors to Trump Tower and his Person of the Year awards, was a tweet that read "has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of Vanity Fair magazine? Way down. Big trouble. Dead. Graydon Carter, no talent. Will be out."

So what would have possibly prompted that sudden ad hominem attack on a member of the media? That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: So, what could have prompted the president-elect to attack Vanity Fair on Twitter this

morning? Well, apart from despite his decades` long feud with editor Graydon Carter, who nicknamed Trump the short-fingered vulgarian more than 25 years ago, there`s a brand new article in Vanity Fair titled "Trump Grill could be the worst restaurant in America"which notes that "the allure of Trump`s restaurant, like the candidate, is that it seems like a cheap version of rich." The review is, well, brutal.

While Trump Grill is in the lobby of Trump Tower says it offers classic American cuisine in an

elegant and relaxed setting, when Vanity Fair reporter Tina Wynn (ph) visited she says she was offered flaccid gray Szechuan dumplings with their flaccid gray innards.

The dumplings come with soy sauce topped with truffle oil and the crustini is served with both hummus and ricotta, two exotic ingredients that should still never be combined.

The steak came out overcooked and mealy, with an ugly strain of pure fat running through it. The cheeseburger tastes like an MSG flavored flavored kitchen sponge lodged between two other sponges. And dessert was cake, still frozen in the center, that tasted like Tums.

As for the taco bowl, made famous by Trump in his Cinco de Mayo tweet, it was the best thing Vanity Fair found on the menu, rating it perfectly adequate.


HAYES; Big news today in the increasingly high-stakes battle to run the Democratic Party in

the age of Trump. On the weekend of February 24th of next year, a month into Trump`s presidency, members of the Democratic National Committee will choose a new chairperson. And the latest person to announce he`s running for that position is U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez saying today "I`m in this

race because I really believe that this is one of those where were you moments in our nation`s journey."

Perez, the son of Dominican immigrants who helped work his way through college as a garbage collector is well liked within the Democratic Party. At one time he was viewed as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton when he was a Clinton surrogate during the campaign.

According to reporting by the Associated Press, Perez was encouraged to mount a bid for DNC chair by the White House. And the reason that is so important is because the early odds-on favorite for DNC chair has been up until now representative Keith Ellison who said he would resign from congress should he win.

And Ellison endorsed Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, one of very few members of

congress to do so. Sanders, in turn, has thrown his support behind Ellison for the DNC position. Ellison has also received the backing of incoming Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer.

While South Carolina`s party leader Jamie Harrison and New Hampshire`s party leader Ray

Buckley have both announced their respective bids to run for DNC chair, Ellison and Perez are the front-runners meaning the race to head the DNC could shape up as a kind of proxy battle between Democrats loyal to Bernie Sanders to those loyal to President Obama.

Coming up, two people who agree that Democrats need a fight, just not one that seems to be a continuation of the primaries.


HAYES: On one level, Democrats are in their weakest position nationally in recent memory. They lost the White House, failed to capture either chamber of congress. And local parties out in the states are in terrible shape as well with just 17 Democratic governors nationwide.

But what makes this moment so odd politically is that on the other level the incoming Rrepublican president is extremely weak himself. Donald Trump`s favorability is lower than any president in modern polling. He lost the popular vote by 3 million votes, and 2 percentage points, and is currently embroiled in the CIA`s conclusion that Russia used hackers to intervene into the election to help him win.

And it has a lot of Democrats thinking, how would Republicans be acting if the shoe was on the other foot? Former Hillary Clinton adviser Peter Daou suggested that if Trump had won by 3 million votes, lost the electoral college by 80,000 and ?Russia had hacked RNC, Republicans would have shut down America.

And in a piece in the New York Times, Dahlia Lithwick and David Cohen wrote that "Buck up and fight like Republicans."

Joining me now, Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate, and David Cohen, a law professor at Drexel University.

And Dahlia, what do you mean by that?

DAHLIA LITHWICK, SLATE: Pretty much just what you said, Chris. I mean, I think that what we`ve learned in this election is that, when Republicans win, they act like they won, and when Republicans lose they act like they won, and Democrats kind of vice versa.

And this is an astonishing moment. I think you have to preface it by saying this is an existential

crisis. And Democrats have shown very little leadership in terms of fighting, just taking to the streets, filing lawsuits, suiting up and, you know, bringing even crazy, wacky claims.

We`re just not seeing it from the leadership.

HAYES: Yeah, so David, you and Dahlia wrote this together. And part of the approach here that you suggest is legal. Like how would you operationalize this?

DAVID COHEN, DREXEL UNIVERSITY: There are a lot of different theories that have been put out there about winner take all in the states violating basic constitutional protections, but also just attempts to try to get the electors to switch their vote. They don`t vote until Monday, and that`s what really matters.

And when the Founding Fathers created the electoral college, they put in it place as a failsafe against a demagogue like Donald Trump. So the electors could be doing their patriotic duty on Monday by voting against Trump. And we could have the Democratic Party leaders out there urging them to do so but they`ve been silent.

HAYES: Right.

So this is clear that the AP just did a canvas a bunch of them and the vast majority are going to vote for the person they`re pledged to.

But here`s my concern with this, so let`s say you took the approach that, look, this is fundamentally not a legitimate result, fundamentally this man is an authoritarian demagogue, he`s a threat to liberal democracy, he has to be stopped.

Dahlia, you know, you have reported on the courts, you reported on politics. You saw what happened with Merrick Garland who sat there for 300 days and was never confirmed in what was a sort of brazen violation of previous norms.

If Democrats were to act like you want them to, wouldn`t they just be complicit in a kind of

institutional race to the bottom in which we start tugging even more violently at whatever remaining strands there are holding the whole thing together?

LITHWICK: Nobody disputes that, Chris. Nobody disputes that this is, at this point, a race to the bottom.

But I just want to suggest that we on the left in this country do feel like we`re constrained by law, we`re constrained by norms, that the law is a sort of system that helps all of us be our best and I think when the other side is radically unconstrained, things like what you`re seeing in North Carolina

where the law is just something to be sort of delicately stepped over and ignored, then to not engage at that level is, you know, to basically just, you know, hold out a cupcake in a knife fight. We`re just not for that.

HAYES: Right, but this is an argument for like almost Nietzschian level of legal realism coming from you.

And David, this just sounds like something approaching nihilism, like basically the law is just a fancy way of exercising will to power, it`s the way that we dress up the eternal struggle over resources between different political tribes and Democrats have to understand they need to use the law that way, too.

COHEN: Well, I mean, you have to keep in mind here, we wouldn`t be making this argument if Mitt Romney won in 2012 or John McCain had won in 2008. This is a particular threat to our democracy, our constitutional democracy that Donald Trump poses. And right now Democrats are engaged in a game where Republicans are engaged in a war, and it`s not a symmetrical battle. They`re against all norms, they`re against all basic precepts of good government. And the Democrats are trying to shake their hand and compromise.

They need to be fighting. And I`m not saying they need to go to the bottom, but they need to get in the trenches and really think about wacky theories that might not work. I mean, back in 2000, the theory that the Supreme Court adopted to anoint George Bush the president, no one even thought that was going to win. And the Supreme Court itself said you can`t use this again because it`s so preposterous. The Democrats would be trying like that right now.

HAYES: That line in Bush V. Gore is the one of the all-time most amazing acts of judicial bad faith in the history of legal reasoning where they say that our equal protection finding is only good for one time only and the ticket has just been punched.

But Dahlia, I mean, that -- so that`s an interesting idea, right, David, that David`s saying about, you look, there`s nothing saying what legal theories are constraining and in some ways Democrats have to sort of step out of the kind of conceptual blinders they have and say, oh, that`s ridiculous, no one will ever go for that. Like, who knows, maybe they will? Maybe you should bring a lawsuit saying winner take all in the states on electoral college is a violation of the constitution and we should see if the courts agree?

LITHWICK: Chris, that`s how we`ve been living for eight years. I mean, I covered the Supreme Court. We have seen some of the strangest, most off the wall legal theories coughted up like a hairball to challenge Obamacare. These suits sometimes prevail.

Nobody is arguing, certainly I think David and I are not arguing for lawlessness or nihilism, we`re saying you know what, let`s just try, let`s just fight and try.

HAYES: And it`s interesting to think about how this could be operationalized throughout the Trump presidency, right, that the law should be a tool in the arsenal and that Democrats, liberals, other folks who are resistant to Donald Trump, David, should be thinking as expansively as possible about

how to use that as a tool to resist.

COHEN: Right. Absolutely.

One of the great things President Obama has done to the extent that he`s been able to is fill the courts with some good liberals who will push the law in that direction. And that`s not going to change immediately when Trump becomes president.

So there`s going to be courts out there in this country who are going to be willing to accept progressive legal ideas and we need to be battling in the courts and using those new judges to accomplish that.

HAYES: All right. Dahlia Lithwick and David Cohen, thank you for your time tonight. I really found the op-ed fascinating. Thank you.


COHEN: Thank you.

HAYES: All right, that is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts right now.