IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 1/10/2017

Guests: Stephanie Cutter, Sheldon Whitehouse

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 10, 2017 Guest: Stephanie Cutter, Sheldon Whitehouse

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: President Obama is set to deliver his farewell address to the nation from Chicago on an absolutely explosive day of news for the man who will succeed him. We`ll talk about it all when this special edition of ALL IN starts right now.

Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes, welcome to our special coverage this evening of President Barack Obama`s farewell address for the nation with 10 days until his successor takes the oath of office. There was no night the President could have scheduled this speech that wouldn`t be competing with a ton of news and that is, of course, exactly the case this evening. With the controversial Senator Jeff Sessions sitting for his first confirmation hearing to become Trump`s attorney General, a confirmation hearing that lasted over 10 hours and is still going, as I understand, and republican plans to repeal ObamaCare, facing new hurdles and new directives from the President-elect.

But tonight, just as President Obama is preparing to take that stage in Chicago, an explosive new report concerning Trump`s briefing last week on Russian hacking. Two U.S. officials with direct knowledge tell NBC News that briefing materials prepared for the President-elect included information, which initially circulated among Trump opponents and was passed to U.S. Intelligence Agencies making damaging allegations about his dealings with Russians. The sources would not comment on the nature of the allegations. Neither of the officials said the FBI was actively investigating the investigation which has not been verified by U.S. agencies.

This comes on the heels of another report, claiming that intelligence chiefs who briefed the President-elect presented him with allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Trump. On top of that, according to that report, the intelligence chiefs shared allegations there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government. NBC News has not verified the details of that report. We have yet to receive response from Trump`s transition team, but tomorrow morning, the President-elect himself is scheduled to hold a press conference, his first in about six months.

And I`m joined now by Ken Dilanian, he`s NBC News intelligence and National Security reporter. And Ken, was this both explosive and confusing? So walk me through this. What we know is that some essentially third-party intelligence or third-party information with certain allegations about the President-elect, his campaigns or dealings with Russia, was prepared to be briefed directly to the President-elect?

KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: That`s right, Chris. And that is the significant thing and that is why we are reporting it. Because it was included, a two-page addendum, our understanding, was included in the highly-classified compartmented version of the intelligence report on Russian hacking and Russian interference in the election that was prepared for President-elect Trump, President Obama and the leaders of Congress, so really highly classified stuff. And we`re told that it contains damaging even explosive information about Trump that hasn`t necessarily been verified by U.S. Intelligence Agencies, but that they wanted him to know that this was out there and that ostensibly the Russians have it and others have it, and it`s circulating.

HAYES: OK, you just said something, though, that added to my store of knowledge on this topic which I`ve been trying to work my way through all afternoon. The addendum to which we`re referring which is a summary of allegations about the dealing between the Trump campaign and Donald Trump, and the possibility of compromising information, you`re saying that was part of that highly-classified report that was circulated to the President -- the current President, the President-elect, and the congressional intelligence leaders?

DILANIAN: Yes, that`s our understanding, Chris.

HAYES: OK. So, this was not just given the President-elect. This was part of essentially what would be the kind of classified record for U.S. officials being briefed on this incredibly explosive and sensitive subject?

DILANIAN: Yes. And in a hearing today about the Russian interference in the election, several democrats asked very pointed questions of James Comey about whether the FBI was investigating connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Obviously, this subject didn`t come up at all, but you know, this was -- this is leading to questions about why the lawmakers were asking those questions of James Comey, and he said he could neither confirm nor deny that the FBI was conducting any investigation around this. Our sources are telling us that the FBI is not necessarily investigating many of these uncorroborated unsubstantiated claims.

HAYES: Ron Wyden, I believe, who, of course, has been a very active senator on intelligence issues with a series of questions to James Comey on precisely that particular subject and, of course, this summer there was an -- there was a letter on the record from Harry Reid who was then the senate major -- senate minority leader saying basically to James Comey, "We believe that you have in your possession explosive allegations?"

DILANIAN: That is right. And Harry Reid has not commented tonight on whether these two things are connected. And so, we just don`t know.

HAYES: OK. Ken Dilanian, thank you for joining me. I want to bring in now, Andrea Mitchell, she`s NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent. Andrea, you know, this is -- this is hard to know what to do with. I mean, at one level, we`re dealing with what are by all accounts uncorroborated or unsubstantiated allegations at the same time they have been included by the highest levels of the U.S. Intelligence Community in an official classified report, which would seem to give some kind of imprimatur or credibility.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well it`s raw intelligence. It`s unverified raw intelligence. And it`s a very controversial and damaging stuff, potentially, but no one knows if these underlying charges are true. Yes, I can understand why they wanted to include it in the report. For one thing, they wanted to show that the Russians were, according to the best intelligence, gathering information on both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, on both republicans and democrats, but only leaked the information about Hillary Clinton. So that shows the motive. That shows what they were up to according to the U.S. intelligence report that they are standing by and testified till today in both open and closed session.

HAYES: You have -- you have reported on intelligence and the world of congressional interface with that and foreign policy for some time, Andrea, and I trust you on this stuff. I mean, I have a question I guess, about how common it would be to include essentially third party or raw intelligence in this sort of thing or maybe this is kind of not that surprising in terms of the protocol?

MITCHELL: It is, to me, a little surprising, frankly, because it`s not corroborated, it also had some roots in opposition research that was allegedly started by republican opponents or at least one republican opponent of Mr. Trump`s, and then embraced later by democrats as well. It`s been floating around Washington, I talked to a White House official -- senior official tonight who said that he had seen it weeks and weeks ago. I talked to a top State Department official -- I was only just came from the State Department, where they said, you know, this has just been passed around. It did involve at one point a firm that was started by apparently some former Wall Street Journal reporters who employed a former MI6 agent and that some of the sourcing came through him. Him or her, I should say, not knowing the gender. So it`s so explosive that one wonders why they would put it up there and include it in the classified version of this report.

HAYES: OK. So, to that end -- I mean, there`s a subtext here, a sort of broader context here, right, which is, A, that intelligence is a difficult business and often raw intelligence is later disproven or doesn`t pan out. But there`s also, of course, the context of the incoming President-elect -- the President-elect and the intelligence agencies with whom he has essentially been waging public war, has basically denigrated them, because these are the same people that got Iraq wrong, rejected in some senses, outright, although maybe reluctantly accepted. I mean, do you think that context is important here?

MITCHELL: I do think it`s important and I think that this must also be contributing to the tension between Donald Trump and the intelligence agencies. If they`re giving him this kind of raw unverified information to give him an example of what`s been circulating against both him and Hillary Clinton. I mean, a lot of the information about Hillary Clinton was not correct and what WikiLeaks leaked were e-mails, some were apparently correct, were not confirmed by John Podesta or others, but we believe that some of those e-mails -- many of those e-mails were correct, but we don`t know what information was also altered, and there was a lot of fake and bad information also circulated on RT and through, you know, dark web sites.

HAYES: Right.

MITCHELL: So, this has been the most incredibly difficult campaign to cover, and we don`t know what is true, what is not true, and what`s verified and not verified. In this case, it is so explosive, we`re talking about a week away from the inauguration of the President of the United States.

HAYES: That`s right. And that exactly -- that through the looking glass feel. What we do know is that this addendum was attached to a report that was the official classified report, at least that`s where the reporting suggests, through the sourcing of NBC News that was given to the President and the President-elect and the members of congress, and that is -- that itself is a sort of remarkable development in this whole thing. Andrea Mitchell, thanks for joining me, I appreciate it.

MITCHELL: You bet.

HAYES: All right, I want to bring in Stephanie Cutter, former Deputy Senior Adviser of President Obama who is attending his speech in Chicago. And Stephanie, I know you`re there in Chicago preparing for this. I guess, I personally like to get your reaction to this. I don`t know if you`ve seen the news on this, and obviously, there has been this sort of frustration and pall cast over so much of what happened in this election, from the Comey letter a week before the ultimate results, to the WikiLeaks hacking, to this classified briefing suggesting that intelligence chiefs presented to Donald Trump, allegations that he had sort of unsavory collaboration with the Russians.

STEPHANIE CUTTER, FORMER DEPUTY SENIOR ADVISER OF PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Chris, nice to be joining you. I am here in Chicago. We`re anxiously awaiting the President`s speech. I`m just hearing many of the details on my ear -- headset right now, so it will be interesting to see if the -- if President-elect Trump will address this in his press conference tomorrow, but I think there are a couple of conclusions that we can take from this regardless of the facts. Number one, you mess with the Intelligence Agencies, they`re going to mess with you.

HAYES: Right.

CUTTER: And they have the information. Number two, it`s pretty clear now that Russians were trying to influence the election because they had information on both Clinton and Trump but they only used the Clinton information. And if the American people should think long and hard about that, a Russian President trying to influence an American election and a President-elect who doesn`t seem to care about that. So, I think President-elect Trump has a lot to answer for and we`ll see how he handles it. Hopefully, more than a tweet. It deserves more than a tweet.

HAYES: Stephanie, you`re in that room right now, you`re there with a lot of folks that have worked for this President. This is a farewell address and I think the big question on everyone`s mind, given -- just almost incomprehensible distance between this President and the man who`s going to succeed him, just what he will say and how squarely he will address precisely that kind of elephant in the room, what is coming after him?

CUTTER: Well, I have not seen the President`s speech but knowing him I think he will address it, but he will talk about the need for us to come together, work together, and then the need for all of us. You know, where it`s -- there`s a reason why we`re here in Chicago, the President`s adopted hometown, this is where he started community organizing, started affecting change. And the message is that we can all bring about change in our communities and our states and national office and we have -- but we have to work together to do it. And there are very particular principles that we need to work towards, a more fair and just country, for instance. I think that`s the message that you`re going to hear from the President. This is not a time to stop our work, to give up, it`s a time to come together and continue the change that we`ve already started.

HAYES: You know, that sort of, come-together message, which of course, there`s this sort of unifying aspect that runs through the entire arc, I think, of Barack Obama`s public rhetoric as a -- as a politician even before he was a politician in his excellent first book, his memoir. Does that feel like it fits ill with the time given what we`ve gone through politically and what we may be looking at politically now?

CUTTER: I`m sorry, Chris, I didn`t hear that. I`m listening to Eddie Vedder.

HAYES: Just the idea of unifying, of coming together, which has been a central theme for this President. Does that seem to fit awkwardly with what the political time is right now and what we may be about entering into?

CUTTER: Well, it -- I think it skews awkwardly with how President-elect Trump won the election. It wasn`t about coming together, it was about stoking fear. However, I think the overwhelming majority of the American people don`t want to continue that type of politics. They do want to figure out how we can heal, move the country forward and the President -- you know, don`t mistake the -- what the President will say tonight. He will say that we need to come together, we need to work together, but he will also get a message across that there are certain things that we shouldn`t allow. Like disparaging our Americans, rolling back rights, targeting individuals based on religion, taking away people`s health care, the need to continue progress rather than score political points. That`s an important message to the person who`s about to take office.

HAYES: All right. Stephanie Cutter --

CUTTER: And that`s what I think, you know --

HAYES: Please.

CUTTER: Go ahead.

HAYES: No, no, you finish, I`m sorry.

CUTTER: I think regardless how this election was won, that`s what most Americans believe and I think it would be smart for President-elect Trump to better understand that than he has shown so far.

HAYES: All right, Stephanie Cutter, thank you so much for making some time there in the site of the President`s farewell address, Eddie Vedder singing in the background, folks crowding in. I know there are people who have been online for hours and hours and hours to try to get into this event. It`s really anticipated by folks in Chicago and the sort of broader Obama world.

I`m joined now by Reverend Al Sharpton, host of course of MSNBC`s "POLITICS NATION", Founder President of National Action Network. As we listen to Eddie Vedder there in the background and people start to filter into that hall where the President will be giving his final address, this is a chance for a kind of historic marker. This is what these addresses have been in the past. We have this news today about the incoming President, there are so many people feeling fearful or feeling that he`s in some sense as illegitimate. What are you looking for? What marker are you looking for the President right now?

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, " POLITICS NATION": I think that I would expect the President to, yes, be the same kind of united. He`s always has been. But united around certain principles. I think that people confuse unity with uniformity, you can say we must unite around health care, and we must, and we must unite around preserving and protecting voting rights, like many of us that were in D.C. the day of the session hearings, or you can unite around civil rights but then we need to unite in protecting them by confronting those that would break that unity.

HAYES: And do you think that second part of that, I mean, you know, there`s a few ways this speech can go, there can be a broad call for unity, there can be a kind of, very sort of abstract, look at what the future might bring and the importance of Americans use of democracy and there can be a very specific kind of call to protect the gains that have been made from the President`s perspective and from his supporters` perspective over the last eight years.

SHARPTON: I think that there will be the call to protect it. The President was a professor, a scholar, an organizer and a legislator, so he`s not going to call for a march like I`m calling for Saturday in Washington. He`s not going to call for direct action in offices of senators, but I believe he will say that people must protect what`s in the best interest of American people. Otherwise, he makes mockery out of his own service for the last eight years as President and of the movement that led to him becoming President, even the possibility of him becoming President.

HAYES: This is a President who right now has historically high approval ratings. He`s up there in that sort of top tier of folks as he goes at 57 percent approval, I think. Donald Trump has historically low approval ratings. He`s essentially reversed, he`s about 30, you know, below 30s, mid-30s, in terms of approval. How do you make sense of that? How do you make sense of the fact that here`s this man who`s very popular, his party which was running on essentially continuation of his agenda lost, this person who`s wildly unpopular by historical standards, won, and now he`s going to go and give this speech and he`s sort of, broadly beloved as a figure, a totemic American historical figure, he`s going to hand it off to Donald Trump.

SHARPTON: I think that what we have to deal with is not only the poll numbers, but when you look at the fact that this man lost the popular vote by 2.8 million, what the Electoral College puts him in. I think that the worst thing that President Obama could do is to get down in the mud and become like Trump. I think that the most intelligent and strategic thing is to put the clean glass next to Mr. Trump`s glass and let America see what the contrast is, but also what is in that glass is voting rights, and civil rights, and rights for women, and rights for the disabled, and I think that Americans will gravitate, whether do you march with those of us that march, whether you put pressure on legislators, we met after the sessions monitor breaks today, civil rights leaders met with Senator Schumer, we`ve agreed to quarterly meetings. We`re not going anywhere.

HAYES: Right.

SHARPTON: And we are going to press this from the legislative to the demonstration level because we fought to get these things, we`re not going to walk away quietly.

HAYES: Reverend Al Sharpton, thanks for your time tonight. You are looking at a live picture in Chicago where the President of the United States, Barack Obama, I think it`s fair to say a unique and historic figure in the 240-plus year history of this republic, will be giving his final address as Eddie Vedder playing to the crowd as they assemble in. We`ll take a listen as we bump out.


EDDIE VEDDER, SINGER: People shuffling their feet, people sleeping` in their shoes. There`s a warning` sign on the road ahead. There`s a lot of people saying` we`d be better off dead..



HAYES: All right, welcome back to our special coverage of President Barack Obama`s farewell address to the nation. We are looking at the scene right now from McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, where President Obama is expected to deliver a call to action. It was, of course, a very different scene earlier today in Washington, D.C. -- the senate judiciary committee hearing for Senator Jeff Sessions, President-elect Trump`s nominee for Attorney General. Sessions was testifying for senate colleagues which would often make for a kind of clubby atmosphere, but that was, by no means, the case today. The room was packed with protesters, and Sessions, whose racial politics were deemed too retrograde in 1986, to serve on the federal bench, answered questions on a number of important and controversial topics, and one of the people on that day today was Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island who served in the Judiciary Committee.

And Senator Sheldon Whitehouse joins me now. Senator, your broad impressions of watching your colleague today go through -- I think it ended up being around ten hours of questions?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Well, he gave good answers on a lot of questions that we weren`t sure he would. He conceded that waterboarding was torture. He conceded the prosecutors should not release derogatory investigative information that they haven`t charged which is the Comey problem. He agreed to protect the firewall between the White House and the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. And he said he would be willing to prosecute Trump, his family, and his associates, if they were found who have broken the law.

So, there were a lot of areas where I think he gave good answers but as you pointed out, he`s got a very, very long history and he comes to this hearing as the nominee of a man who ran an extraordinarily divisive, bitter, and angry campaign, and despite saying that he wanted to unite the nation, has created a cabinet, aside from the military folks, of basically right wingers, billionaires and right wing billionaires. And so, a lot of the people who are very frightened of what the Trump nomination teed up in this country, now look at this cabinet and say, oh, my god, here we actually go. And that I think is going to be a problem for Senator Sessions.

HAYES: There was a really -- there was an interesting exchange you had with the senator. Because if Senator Sessions has been one of the most influential voices driving the immigration policy of Donald Trump, was the case during the campaign, and is a real restrictionist, I think it`s fair to say, and doesn`t like the current system, and had some sort of disparaging remarks to say about Dominican immigrants, particularly in the past, basically saying these are not people who are bringing skills America needs. You had an interesting exchange with him on that. I want you to take a listen and tell me what you thought.


WHITEHOUSE: We have a vibrant Dominican community who look at Big Papi, David Ortiz, swinging his bats for the Red Sox and wonder why you said, quote, "Almost no one coming from the Dominican Republic to the United States is coming here because they have a provable skill that would benefit us".

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL), NOMINEE FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL: Immigration flow is not on a basis of skills. Immigration flow from almost all of our countries, frankly, is based on a family connection and other VISAs rather than a skilled-based program, more like Canada has today. And that`s all I intended to be saying there.


HAYES: Were you satisfied with that response?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, it was true of a lot of his responses. He tried to walk things back. Clearly, what he said originally was an across-the-board disparagement of Dominican Americans and, you know, I`m a Red Sox fan and David Ortiz is our hero and the idea that Dominicans don`t bring anything to the United States of America is preposterous. So, he tried to walk that back and recast it as a policy disagreement about the roll to which skills should drive our immigration selection process, but I don`t think that`s a fair characterization of what he originally said. He constantly says these things that are pretty concerning. His other thing was a concern that many of the career attorneys in the Department of Justice were secular and that that was a problem, and so, we explored that a little bit, but why an Attorney General would care whether his attorneys, the career staff, are secular or religious, as long as they`re doing their jobs and are capable, it`s just kind of a strange place to go.

HAYES: Senator, while I have you, I do want to get your response to the report that we led the show with tonight that is -- that is now being reported in a number of multiple outlets about this, the fact the intelligence chiefs, in their classified report, attached an addendum that contained unverified allegations about the President-elect`s campaign, the President-elect himself having essentially some kind of collusion with Russia. What do you make of that? What do you do with that as a United States Senator?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, the President clearly has -- the President-elect in his private capacity has clearly traveled to Russia. We know that Russia and the Soviet Union before that, historically, have surveilled, recorded, and taped people who come to their country. There was the famous story of Joe Alsop, and we`ll see where this goes. We`ll get a briefing tomorrow from the leaders of the Intelligence Community, and this may very well come up but the buzz about this, anyway, is that during the course of Mr. Trump`s visits to Russia, the Russian security services or intelligence services were able to get surveillance or other information on him that is very compromising. I don`t know that to be true. That`s what the -- I think we need to explore.

HAYES: So we should say that -- I should say that the President-elect has responded to this. And there was -- we were waiting for a statement from him. "Fake news, a total political witch-hunt." All caps. So his lawyer also on the record denying that. I imagine this will come up tomorrow on the Hill and also in the President-elect`s press conference tomorrow.

WHITEHOUSE: Well, I don`t know that anything happened, but it`s certainly consistent with a long, long Russian tradition to surveil people while they`re in the country and to try to find them and get a -- make a record of them in embarrassing circumstances in order to take advantage. Again, in Washington, the famous example was Joe Alsop many years ago.

HAYES: Senator, let me ask you this, just to zoom out for a moment as we await President Barack Obama to give his farewell address tonight, and you were in hearings all day for Jeff Sessions. I think there is a sense, I think, of a lot of people having political whiplash over the last eight years and now in terms of that happening, obviously. Donald Trump is unprecedented, he`s very, very sort of strict in basic sense that no one who`s ever not served in public office or in the military before has ever held this office. You have an experience as a politician. Do you feel whiplash? Do you feel like we`re on some strange uncharted world right now?

WHITEHOUSE: I think a lot of people feel strange and I share that sentiment. Part of it, is the things that are kind of unspeakable that the President-elect keeps saying and the flagrant denial of reality, whether it`s consensus, highest level of certainty and confidence, conclusions of the Intelligence Community or the virtually unanimous conclusions of the scientific community about climate change, this business of a President who doesn`t care what the facts are, but just bulls ahead, making up his own facts as he go along, and surrounding himself with the media bubble that tends to protect that fact-free behavior, it`s dangerous because reality ends up winning, always. That`s reality`s trump card.

HAYES: All right. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, I appreciate you taking the time tonight, Sir. Thank you.

All right, as I mentioned, we are looking at a live shot there of President Barack Obama`s farewell address venue in Chicago at the McCormack Center. We will, of course, bringking that speech to you live. Folks filing in. They`ve been flying in from all over the country. People that worked for him, volunteered for him, fans, devoted supporters will be there for the final address from one of the most important figures in the history of the American Republic, I think it`s fair to say. We`ll be bringing you that address in just a bit. Lots more for you. Don`t go anywhere.


HAYES: All right, joining me now, MSNBC political analyst Robert Costa. He`s the national political reporter of The Washington Post. And Robert, of course, we`re looking at the venue there in Chicago where the president of the United States will give his farewell address in just a little bit as it is packed with supporters. You`ve been reporting on Capitol Hill.

We were going to talk about the Affordable Care Act, but let`s talk about the news that has just crossed late in this day about this addendum to the classified intelligence report that contains damaging allegations against the president-elect that he was himself briefed on. How is that reverberating on Capitol Hill?

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL REPORTER: I`m here just steps away from the capital, and it`s reverberating in a negative way, especially among Republicans. There`s a lot of caution tonight, uncertainty about the specifics of this report, waiting to see what President-elect Trump has to say, but there`s a lot of anxiety tonight, because tomorrow is supposed to be another big day of confirmation hearings about Trump`s first news conference in months and now it could be, likely to be, all about Russia.

HAYES: we`re going to have the news conference tomorrow. I imagine this will probably be the first question if I had to guess what the first question. We should say, there`s an on-the-record denial from Michael Cohn, his lawyer, who was reached on the phone by Mike. There`s also the president-elect himself tweeting out basically just "fake news. Political witch-hunt" in all caps.

Here`s the broader context, I would like to know. You know, one of the remarkable things about phenomenon of Donald Trump as a political entity is his ability to defy political gravity, which is to say he has high negatives and low favorability ratings throughout almost the duration of his entire campaign, continues to be the case now, that has not appeared to hurt him, he`s going to be the next president of the United States but my sense of the Republicans on Capitol Hill don`t feel the same sense of insulation. Is that an appropriate judgment?

COSTA: What they`re looking for tonight, Chris, are answers from the president-elect. I was at votes outside of the House and the Senate and as the news started to break later in the evening from other networks and people have confirmed it, what I heard is they need to hear more from Trump, not just a tweet. It has to be answers throughout a press conference so they feel comfortable when they`re asked questions on Capitol Hill.

HAYES: Do you think that the mood on Capitol Hill -- how would you characterize it in terms of Republicans posture towards this administration? There was a lot of happy talk. A lot of talking on the same page. We have seen some defections on some key issues. We`ve seen them postpone four hearings that were scheduled before the requisite documentation and FBI background checks have been done. We have seen several prominent senators basically breaking with leadership over the time line for possible repeal and replace. Where are things right now?

COSTA: There are in essence two mindsets. Many Republicans believe on domestic policy, especially with tax reform, health care, the conservative side of the party is going to get what it wants. It`s going to get sweeping changes, so they`re comfortable with Trump in that way. They don`t see Trump trying to roll them on some of the things at the top of their agenda.

What they don`t have is a relationship with Trump. They`re trying to build at the speaker, Paul Ryan had Trump`s team in this week to have some dinner to go over taxes but there`s not a close relationship with many members. And so when these things flair up like this intelligence report and new allegations about Trump and Russia, they don`t really know how to react because Trump`s not really a party man nor is he coordinating a message with congressional leaders on these issues.

HAYES: All right, Robert Costa from the capital, thanks for that update. I appreciate it. We are, of course, just about a half hour away from the final farewell address from the president of the United States, President Barack Obama, the first Democrat since FDR to put together two successive 50 percent majority coalitions, a towering figure in American history, whether you are a supporter or opponent of him. And he will be giving a farewell address tonight, one of the most gifted orators in recent memory. It`s going to be a remarkable evening. Stick around for that and much more after the break.



LESTER HOLT, NBC HOST, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS": Tonight you`re going to talk to the American people. Is this a hard one? Do you know what you`re going say?

OBAMA: I know what I`m going to say. I have got to make sure I get through it properly. You know, when you reflect back on eight years for all the highs and the lows the one thing that is a constant is the incredible dedication of the people who got you there and who helped you do your job. Everybody from the staff at the White House to the folks who made sure those airplanes fly to supporters who would write me notes when things weren`t going well to the people who would say that the work we did made a supporters who would write me notes when things weren`t going well to the people who would say that the work we did made a difference.

And so I think that that sense of gratitude that I feel for those folks, I just hope I`m able to express that.


HAYES: That`s President Barack Obama with an exclusive interview with our own Lester Holt aboard Air Force One as he was traveling to that location you see on your screen there, McCormick center in Chicago, Illinois, where the president will, in just a few minutes, be giving his farewell address. And joining me now to talk about it, Chris Matthews, host of Hardball on every day, 7:00 p.m. Eastern right before this program. And Joy Reid, host of A.M. Joy which is on at 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, although sometimes on at night again, too. It`s all over the place.

Author of "We Are the Change We Seek: The Speeches of Barack Obama."

So you know, here`s what I`m struck by when you look at Barack Obama in Air Force One and then the news that we`re getting todayabout -- I don`t -- it`s hard, and Chris you`ve written a number of books about history and presidential history. It`s hard to think of a good precedent for a whiplash as extreme, a difference just in temperament, politics, everything.

MATTHEWS: We`ve had good ones. 1932 was pretty good.

HAYES: That`s one of them.


HAYES: That`s the other one, Eisenhower to Kennedy.

MATTHEWS: Let`s get this country moving again. You had a young guy taking over, a World War II vet taking over for the old general.

And of course, the hapless Hoover being taken over by the great FDR. So we`ve had good ones.

But the interesting thing is like Bill Clinton was very popular at the end, but Al Gore lost. You know, we do have cases where the outgoing president is popular -- this one -- and the candidate of the party of the president did not do so well. She won the popular vote, but she lost the election, of coruse. That`s how the history books will be written.

Look, I have to tell you, you didn`t ask me this, but I go back, and did a show on Hardball tonight, I went back and my feelings watching him in those little high school assembly halls back in 2007 and `08, when he was just a nobody. In fact, a guy from Illinois giving a good speech, I was overwhelmed. I felt something I hadn`t felt since the Gene McCarthy campaign against the Vietnam War. That here was this young guy coming in with guts, standing up to a terrible presidency, a stupid war, a bad war and just saying, damn it, I`m here and this is going to work. And I`m going to make something happen here. And nobody thought he would win.

Hillary was going to beat him the first time. It wasn`t until the end, around Labor Day and it was clear he was going to bash John McCain, bash anybody that got in his way.

So I did see him in 2004 up in Boston giving a speech and I was a skeptic before that speech. I said Barack Hussein Obama, president of the United States, you know, that doesn`t seem like it`s going to sell in Peoria. But boy he changed all the rules.

HAYES: His first line in that speech is like the plains of Peoria actually. I think he worked Peoria into the opening paragraph of that speech.

MATTHEWS: He said only in this country is my story possible. Only now is my story possible he should have said. Now is my time.

HAYES: Well, that`s -- Joy, I mean, that , to me how do you -- Chris`s point about this popularity, I think in some ways that`s part of the thing that`s so hard to get your head around, right. I mean, here is someone who has been a controversial president. He`s overseen one of the most polarized eras since the Civil War if you look at different political science metrics for it, and yet is going out as one of the more popular politicians of the country, one of the more popular exiting politicians in recent memory, and yet is going to turn this office over to a man who is in every way a kind of repudiation, a rejection of him.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, "AM JOY": Yeah, it`s incredible. I can recall interviewing people during the campaign who really liked Barack Obama, who voted for him twice. You know, he wears very well as a president. You get to live with a president over time. And he wears well. He`s a congenial guy. He has got a beautiful family. He`s not scandal prone. He`s funny. He`s very disarming. And he has a charm about him so that even if people think he`s a monster when they actually see him talk they say, oh, he`s an urbane, very friendly guy who constantly expresses his belief in the American experiment, belief in the system. So he wears really well.

But it is possible -- and I`ve met these people -- who really liked Barack Obama and felt that he represented fundamental change, but then liked the idea of fundamental change just as much. So they`re happy with the change whether the change is to Obama or from Obama. So, they want an outsider and he was an outsider and so was Trump.

HAYES: No, I talked to the same voters.

REID: So for a lot of Americans, believe it or not, they don`t -- we think it`s this incredible bizarre U-turn, but there are voters out there...

HAYES: Consistency is change.

REID: We just want change every time and we don`t want establishment. And that whatever that change to an anti-establishment person is they think that they`ve done the country a service.

HAYES: How much do you think -- if you -- obviously you were a speech writer back in -- once upon a time. How -- what`s the vision here? I mean, how much do you talk about the elephant in the room? That`s the thing I want to see, right. I mean, how much do you say, yeah, I can`t believe we ended up here.

MATTHEWS: You know, there is a fate as there always is in the presidency. There`s a splash with their rival, even Reagan, except he had the big break with Gorbachev at the end and he exploited it brilliantly. But there`s the fade. I mean, look at the two presidents we`ve had in the last 16 years, both have had reelections that weren`t as good as their first elections. They start to fade. And I think that it`s very hard to get reelected with pizazz anymore. So the fade...

HAYES: Part of that is the polarization.

MATTHEWS: I`m looking at Trump and whenever we think about his legislative program, if he even has one yet, is it`s all going to have to happen before August. And I`m talking before -- in the future, there`s only one real year you get anything done. LBJ had that experience in `64 and a little bit in `65. And Reagan only in `81.

You really only -- so then I`ve always said, you know, Washington is going to be where the action is in the next six months. But, you know, the fade -- the amount of political capital you have begins to erode so quickly.

And by the way, the unemployment rate starts going up again, and we have a bad trade deficit again -- but I`ve said this before, the rules are unfair. If Donald Trump had won the popular vote by 3 million votes, there would have been problems in this country. And this would not have been a smooth transition.

On the other hand, if the Republicans had tripled the Dow in a presidency, tripled the Dow -- talking about a guy who had 7,000 all of a sudden he owns 20,000, you know, that`s a good return on a presidency.

If that had happened under a Republican president, they would never let anybody forget it. They`d be dancing in the end zone forever. But they don`t give this guy any credit.

There`s an interesting fellow right there.

HAYES: Rahm Emanuel.

MATTHEWS: Rahm Emanuel.

REID: Isn`t it important, though, at that point at the very point that Chris just left it at is we do have to mention race, because by the way a black man in America cannot be as braggadocios about his presidency and his accomplishments and get away with it and not be seen as arrogant. I think one of the things that we cannot undercut -- I don`t. I think that he had to be constantly calm, he had to be constantly understated, he had to be as Ta-Nehisi Coates said, the least angry black man in America.

That said, his accomplishments speak for themselves, but I have to say that we cannot discount the -- this is in a sense a third reconstruction, the election of Barack Obama. This is a slave Republic that elected a black man to be president of the United States in less than 400 years of history, and the idea of backlash is baked into each of our reconstructions. So we have this incredible Civil War where we kill 600,000 American citizens and free the slaves and then you have this sort of golden era of reconstruction that is destroyed by a backlash that is vicious and horrifying.

Then you have the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, all of these advances, these incredible social upheavals and advancements that is followed by an intense backlash, the sense of "those people" taking away my America and impeding on it, intruding on it.

And I think with Obama the advances in gay rights, the focus on gay rights, the advances for African-Americans, the kind of visibility of the advancements of these other Americans I think it produced a backlash so that a lot of Trump voters, this is what they wanted. They just wanted the change to a more traditional -- what they see as a traditional president. They feel they`ve gotten what they wanted already.

HAYES: I think the enduring question, and maybe something the president will address tonight is, how much the backlash subsumes what came before it, in the real substantive sense, right. I mean, does the Affordable Care Act survive? Those are the sort of -- because what happened after reconstruction and what happened after the civil rights movement were very different in terms of the enduring nature.

MATTHEWS: The smart Republicans and smart conservatives, like Eisenhower came in, he didn`t get rid of the New Deal. George Will once said favorably, very positively, he said Americans are conservatives, they want to conserve the New deal. And Churchill came in the early `50s and didn`t get rid of national health in Britain.

HAYES: And that`s where the rubber is going to hit the road.

REID: And Paul Ryan wants to come for all of LBJ and the New Deal.

MATTHEWS: He will try, but I don`t think they`re going to succeed.

HAYES: Chris Matthews and Joy Reid, thanks for joining us tonight.

MATTHEWS: Appreciate it.

All right, don`t go anywhere. My friend and colleague Rachel Maddow will be joining me in just a moment and she will when I am done pick up live coverage of this historic evening and the president`s farewell address. Don`t go anywhere.


HAYES: All right, we are just moments away from President Obama`s farewell address, the last big speech he will give as president of the United States.

Joining me now for our coverage of that speech, MSNBC`s own Rachel Maddow who, fun fact, launched her TV show on this network just days after Barack Obama accepted the democratic nomination for president in 2008 and has been covering his administration ever since.

You know, Rachel, I wanted to talk to you -- I was thinking about you today, because your show, your position hosting the show that you host sort of perfectly aligns with the arc of basically the Obama presidency, just a little before.

You`ve watched American politics transform, you`ve watched American politics go crazy sometimes. What is your takeaway? What is your characterization? How will history understand the Obama era?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": You know, Chris, it is -- thank you for putting it that way, that makes me feel more important than I am, it has to be said. But I remember picking out the graphic treatments, what the backgrounds would look like and stuff for this show off my Blackberry while I was at the convention that eventually nominated him to be the Democratic nominee for president. And I remember at that convention one of the controversies was that he was too small "p" popular, that he gave that big nomination speech, accepting the nomination on a stage that people felt was too grand, that there was too big a crowd, that the stadium was too large, that the event made too big a deal of him.

And there`s been this question over his presidency about whether he is almost too transcendent a figure, you know, but we just went through the process of picking his successor and the two phenomenons of that were Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. They were the two big surprises, right, in part because of the ginormous crowds they were able to conjure whenever they spoke, crowds that other Americans didn`t seem to understand, but people who were absolutely motivated by their physical presence who turned out by the tens of thousands.

Seeing Barack Obama leave this way, this is so unlike the way other presidents end their terms in office. This isn`t what farewell addresses usually look like. Nobody speaks in front of 20,000 people. Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office speaking for seven and a half minutes, you know, that`s kind of more typical.

He`s going out in a big way. He came in in a big way, and that was part of what people had a hard time with about him. But I think he`s made us redefine the way we connect to politicians. It`s not always good, and when you see in the visage of other people who also move people in these similar ways, these very populist ways, you see sort of its power and the way that it can be scary.

But it`s -- you know, he`s a different type of presence. He`s a different type of connector between people and to people in a way that I think none of us will forget covering him.

HAYES: You know, I think that`s an important point, because I think it was easy in some ways at points during his presidency to lose sight of that fact to lose sight of, for lack of a better word, just his sheer political talent, his sheer communicative talent, which is -- I think independent of his politics or substantive achievement I think ranks at the very top of the list of American political figures in our nation`s history. I think that`s not even that controversial an assessment.

And it was easy to lose sight of that at various moments, and in some ways I found myself thinking about that in these final days because what he was able to pull off politically is remarkable and the election of Donald Trump is a reminder that there was not a fundamental structural change in some ways that happened in America. In some ways, this particular unique figure was able to pull off things that maybe someone else could not have.

MADDOW: That`s right. And I think one of the things that you and I have talked a lot about and covered a lot about in terms of the Obama era is the distance between his success as a national-level politician and the success of the Democratic Party.

HAYES: That`s right.

MADDOW: I mean, when he came in in 2008, my god did he have coattails, you know, and we`re seeing all these parallels to it now, and lack of parallels, right. We`ve got -- he was so incredibly popular when he came in. He came in with 60 Democratic senators and that big Democratic majority in the House just barnstormed into Washington with an incredible, incredible political power.

HAYES: Rachel, I`m going to interject for just one moment because I want to let the viewers see that is the first family of course, the first grandmother of the United States, the Obama girls are coming in, the vice president and his wife Jill Biden and the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. They`ve just got a round of applause.

It`s my understanding the president of the United States is now in that building and momentarily we are anticipating the national anthem, sorry. But yes, there was such a broad expanse that grew up between the fates of this individual politician and the party that he was the head of.

MADDOW: That`s right. He got reelected in 2012, but meanwhile over the course of his presidency Democrats lost the House, lost the Senate, lost state legislatures all across the country, got absolutely outmaneuvered in terms of all other levels of political power while he stayed not only in office, but now is leaving office with an incredibly positive approval rating and is the most respected man in America,if you believe the polling.

So his journey in so many ways, for better and for worse, but I think that he`ll go down in history as both a consequential and excellent president viewed from the very beginning of the country until now. I think his economic record alone in terms of saving us from the great depression, if that`s the only thing you knew about him, even if he hadn`t been the first African-American president doing it, that along will put him in the top 10 presidents in U.S. history, and nothing else that anybody says about him, or nothing else that happens via successor will ever change that.

HAYES: We`ll now take the national anthem and Rachel Maddow, my friend and colleague will pick up coverage on the other side.