Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 24, 2017 Guest: Keith Ellison, Jeff Merkley, Philip Rucker, Brian Schatz
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Oscar nominees. That`s good. What`s really good are the movies they`re in. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was a comment that he made on a longstanding belief.
HAYES: President Trump`s first conspiracy theory.
SPICER: I think he stated his concerns of voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign and he continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him.
HAYES: Tonight, why Donald Trump`s voting delusion matters and why, as the executive orders fly, republicans are cheering. Democrats keep up the fight on nominees.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know why you won`t be willing to answer whether or not you`re in favor of block granting Medicaid. That`s not complicated.
HAYES: The latest alternative fact checking from the briefing room.
SPICER: The President`s actions today will create tens of thousands of new jobs.
HAYES: Are the national parks back to sub-tweeting the President? And inside the Washington Post report of fury and tumble already boiling over inside the Trump White House.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And they said Donald Trump did not draw well. I said it was almost raining.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. We are now five days into the Presidency of Donald Trump, although we should note the White House considers this to be only President Trump`s second "working day." And already it`s easy to imagine republican leaders in Washington behind closed doors rolling their eyes at the new President at his obsession with the size of his inauguration crowd, his boasting about magazine cover appearances in front of the CIA memorial wall, his ridiculous and obviously false claim, which we`ll discuss later on, that he only lost the popular vote because millions of "illegals" voted for Hillary Clinton.
But you haven`t seen republican leaders speaking out against the new President for one very simple reason -- it has been a great few days for the Republican Party. President Trump is giving them just what they always hoped for. This was Trump today signing a series of executive orders designed to revive efforts to build the Dakota access and Keystone XL oil pipelines, a big priority for Republican Party that receives millions in donations each year from the oil and gas industry but have never been able to get it done on their own.
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TRUMP: The regulatory process in this country has become a tangled up mess and very unfair to people. That`s a big one.
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HAYES: That`s a big one right there. Just the latest example of Trump doing exactly what you would expect from a republican President. Yesterday surrounded entirely by men, President Trump signed an executive order reinstating a rule barring foreign aid or federal funding for any international programs that provide abortions or crucially any information about the procedure. President Trump has also signed executive orders to ease the quote, "regulatory burdens of ObamaCare" to freeze hiring for federal workers, to begin the U.S. withdrawal from the Transpacific Partnership trade deal. With the exception of that last one, TPP, all of this very likely would have happened under a President Rubio or a President Cruz. So far at least, Trump has been exactly the sort of President that republican political activist Grover Norquist called for during his speech to conservatives four years ago when he said he just wanted a President who could hold a pen.
GROVER NORQUIST, AMERICAN TAX REFORM FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT: We just need a President to sign this stuff. We don`t need someone to think it up or design it. We have a house and a senate -- the leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the house and the senate, so focus on electing the most conservative republican who can win in each house seat and the most conservative republican who can win in each senate seat and then pick a republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become President of the United States.
HAYES: President Trump will be signing more than just executive orders, of course, and House Speaker Paul Ryan has long sought to -- sought to cut social insurance programs that are widely and wildly popular among Americans, including the republican base. During the campaign, Trump said that he would protect those programs, unlike other republicans.
TRUMP: I`m not going to cut Social Security like every other republican and I`m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid. Every other republican is going to cut. And even if they wouldn`t, they don`t know what to do because they don`t know where the money is. I do.
HAYES: Now, that Trump is President, republicans seem to think he`ll come around. At the senate confirmation hearing today for Representative Mick Mulvaney, that`s President Trump`s pick to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Senator Lindsey Graham asked Mulvaney to get President Trump to change his mind, and Mulvaney made it clear, he is very amenable.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Will you tell him that the promise you made about Medicare and Social Security is going to lead to their demise if you don`t change that promise?
MICK MULVANEY, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET NOMINEE: Yes, sir.
HAYES: We should note that`s not quite true factually in terms of the actuarial projections. Later, Senator Bob Corker said President Trump`s positions on those programs is quote, "totally unrealistic" and asked if Mulvaney -- asked if Trump understands that.
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MULVANEY: I have to imagine that the President knew what he was getting when he asked me to fill this role so I look forward --
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: So you think he understands that we have to deal with all of these issues?
MULVANEY: I`d like to think it`s why he hired me.
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HAYES: Trump ran a candidate who would shake up the Republican Party, bend it to his will but so far, and clearly, it is very early. We`ve seen the reverse with Trump channeling the priorities, vision, even the granular policy obsessions at the core of the contemporary GOP. The President might seem different, so far the old Republican Party remains very much intact.
Joining me now, democratic Representative Keith Ellison in Minnesota, Co- chair of Congressional Progressive Caucus, candidate for Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Do you agree, congressman, that you could have expected everything we`ve seen these first few days with the exception of TPP from anyone that won that nomination were they to be elected President for the Republican Party?
REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Yes, I do. And as a matter of fact, you know, they got more in store, Chris. They got plans -- but we`re going to fight them every step of the way, but we`re also going to remind the American people, particularly the ones who voted for him, that he`s the one who said he would not do this. He`s going to break a promise and we`re going to expose him as a liar.
HAYES: When you say "break a promise," you`re -- are you speaking specifically about Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security which are all entities that he said he would not cut?
ELLISON: Yes. And I believe we should play the quote back to people because when he finally gets bent over to Mick Mulvaney`s point of view and the republicans in the senate, he`s going to have some real explaining to do. He will not be able to deny that he made that promise to the American people.
HAYES: OK. So, there`s two ways to understand this from the democratic perspective. One is that the distance between the President`s stated position on these big social insurance programs and the core belief of the Republican Party, something Paul Ryan has been trying to do for literally decades in his -- in his career in public life, which is to cut them or privatize them. You -- do you view that as a wedge in which you could partner with the President against his own party or do you view this as inevitable he will come around to the Mulvaney/Ryan view?
ELLISON: I view it as a situation in which we will demonstrate to the American people that he is either going to be standing with them as he said he was or he is going to fail them spectacularly but he will do it all in front of the watching eyes of the American people. We`re going to make sure of it.
HAYES: There`s some reporting tonight about new executive orders happening tomorrow. And they concern immigration. One of them, and again, this is a Reuters report and this is unconfirmed as of now, but "Trump`s orders expected to involve restricting access to the U.S. for refugees and some Visa holders from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Obviously, we will -- if it happens tomorrow, get the details on that. Do you have a reaction on that?
ELLISON: Well, it looks like this Muslim ban that he inaugurated his campaign with. And he started his whole campaign with is something that he`s sticking to, and that is of great concern to me. Basically, he`s trying to use these countries as a surrogate for religion, it appears, which I believe is unconstitutional. But I have faith that the civil rights community is not going to let this stand. I believe people are going to step up, sue and make sure that this kind of thing is not going to go unchallenged.
HAYES: We should note, again, we don`t have the language were it to be the case that it`s country-based rather than religious based, it also would have the effect of stopping refugees who are Christians, say, in places like Syria and Iraq, which is something that the President himself expressed a great deal of concern over specifically during the campaign.
ELLISON: Well, we share that concern with the Christian community, we absolutely do. We think that the terrorists who are harming the people of the countries that you mentioned are all precious and important no matter what religion they may have. If they happen to be of a particular religious minority, we are in solidarity with them but the answer is not to shut fleeing people down from running away from the worst that humanity has to offer. America has always been a place that helped people who were refugees fleeing tyranny and now Trump is saying that we`re no longer that nation, and that`s a shame. And, again, as you say, the reports may be unconfirmed, but I`ve been hearing it in so many different places, I got the feeling that there is something there. HAYES: Finally, I want to ask you this. Are you confident that there is not a single democratic vote in the house or the senate for cut for Medicaid block granting, which would be a way of essentially cutting Medicaid and might be the point of the spear that many people were talking about was the topic of some hearings that I will play for you in just a bit. Are you confident there`s not a single democratic vote for that? And if there is a democratic vote, is it your job to call out those democrats?
ELLISON: Yes, I believe that as a member of congress, which I am right now, and the chair of the -- co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, I am going to stand for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and I am going to urge each and every one of my colleagues to stand firm with the American people. These are critical programs. You know, the Social Security is a earned benefit. It can be changed. It could be -- first of all, it`s fine, it`s a good program. But if anybody wants to approve it, let`s just lift the cap. I mean, there are -- there are plenty of ways to move forward in a progressive way but to try to take people`s retirement security away, we simply won`t tolerate it. We don`t know matter -- we don`t care who it is.
HAYES: All right.
ELLISON: But I want to mention one more thing Chris.
HAYES: Yes, please.
ELLISON: You know, these two executive orders regarding the pipelines, you know, we filed and confirmed reports that Trump has a financial interest in the energy transfer of partners which is the Dakota Access Pipeline and Trans-Canada. Financial -- and Trans-Canada stock went up when news about this executive order came out. So I think that they -- here again, the monetization of the American Presidency is something that everybody in the United States needs to pay close attention to.
HAYES: I should note that Sean Spicer was asked about that today and essentially acknowledged it, and said it`s a few thousand dollars for a billionaire but he made no attempts to deny the fact that actually this action would probably increase the value of the holdings of the President of the United States who has not divested as we know well. Representative Keith Ellison, thanks for your time tonight. I appreciate it.
ELLISON: Thank you, sir.
HAYES: Joining me now, MSNBC Contributor Sam Seder host of the "MAJORITY REPORT", MSNBC Contributor Katie Packer, former Deputy Campaign Manager for Mitt Romney`s 2012 Presidential Campaign. And Katie, I want to start with you. Because I remember Mitt Romney saying he was going to build keystone with his bare hands, I believe were the line, if that`s what it took. And it does strike me, but do you agree the first few days when you take away the behavior of the President of the United States, which we`ll talk about in a bit, the thing that he is putting pen to paper on are all things you could have imagined in another republican presidency?
KATIE PACKER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. I mean, there have been some moments that are a little bit cringe worthy, no doubt, but the official things that President Trump has done in these last couple days are things that conservatives and republicans are very, very enthusiastic about and feel like have been a long-time coming. And so, these are things that are only going to serve to sort of energize and excite the republican base and conservatives all across the country, and the folks that will vote for Trump. HAYES: Yes, this is a thesis that you have had from the very beginning, Sam. Which is -- and there`s been different views on this. Trump is aberrant or his taking over the Republican Party or he is distinct from it or he is the apotheosis of it. He is the Republican Party, the Republican Party is him. The first four days to me seem to lend credence five days of -- to that theory.
SAM SEDER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Oh, he is -- I mean, everything he is doing is purely republican and conservative in terms of the actual actions, there`s this other sideshow, the fact his own advisors think that he might be stark raving mad, which is very possible. But the other thing I would add, just to correct Katie to a certain extent, there`s no evidence that there`s broad-based support for any of this because remember, during the election --
PACKER: Not so sure about that.
SEDER: Well, I know you wouldn`t be. But during the election, Donald Trump was not running on nearly half of this stuff. He wasn`t talking about cutting Social Security, he wasn`t talking about cutting Medicare, he wasn`t talking about a whole litany of shutting down the EPA. I mean, there is no indication that the average republican voter cares about any of this stuff.
PACKER: Well, I`ve seen -- I`ve seen plenty of research that tells me otherwise.
SEDER: No. I mean, but --
SEDER: -- wait a second -- hold on for one second, Kate. Let me ask you this. Then when you started your PAC, our principles, which ostensibly were to defend republican principles, why was it against Donald Trump the person who ended up winning your primary? It was because you thought there was a difference in what he was running on and what you stood for, and so did the people who made him the republican primary winner.
PACKER: Well, I mean, these two things -- these two things have nothing to do with each other. What I`m telling you is after many, many years of researching republican primary voters, that there`s very, very broad support for the Keystone Pipeline. There`s very, very broad support for eliminating funding to foreign agencies that support abortion. There`s very broad support for many of these things that President Trump has done in the last 48 hours, and I can tell you if you -- if you look at my Facebook feed, republicans are enthusiastic about these actions.
HAYES: Right. And the point is that this is -- this is the Republican Party, right? So, what we`re seeing right now is the idea that Donald Trump is something -- this is -- the Republican Party is Donald Trump, Donald Trump is the Republican Party, they are married, they are wedded, and I think indissolubly. I mean, meaning -- what I mean by that is, there is to me -- there is no going back from that. Right?
So the question then becomes if he starts to move out towards things that aren`t in the things that Pence would do or even Mitt Romney, I mean, I think Mitt Romney in 2012 would have signed something on the Dakota Access Pipeline, Katie, and would have reinstated the global gag rule though we should say this is even more sort of sweeping than George W. Bush. The question, though is, was that -- are you confident that`s what the election was litigated on?
PACKER: No, absolutely not. I don`t think that that`s what it was litigated on. I`m not sure that these issues that he has delved into these last 48 hours are even things that he personally feels very, very strongly about. I don`t think we`ve gotten to that point.
HAYES: A total three of that. I do not think that Donald Trump thought to himself "I want to be the President of the United States so I can sign that global gag rule back into effect." I mean, there are people in republican politics who would feel that way, genuinely and down into their cell structure that they want to do that. Donald Trump I think --
PACKER: But republicans don`t care. They`re just happy he`s signing them.
HAYES: That`s right.
SEDER: Yes. I mean, I think I would -- I`m in total agreement. I don`t think that he could go three minutes into a conversation with what was actually in half the things he signed over the past few days.
HAYES: So, here comes -- here comes Katie the question then, and because of that, right? Because of the sort of working hand, it seems to me that the political incentive and political lesson learned from that "Access Hollywood" moment when people started to run away from Donald Trump and also the way that senate candidates tried to manage him was that you just - - you were yoked to him whether you want to or not which means they just need to overlook whatever he does otherwise. No, seriously, because the political incentives are whatever he says, whatever comes out of Sean Spicer`s mouth or the President`s mouth or whatever story comes out about the fact they can`t pull him away from the cable news that`s on in his office, you`re married to this guy, you overlook everything to get more stuff signed.
PACKER: Yes. Well, and I think that if you -- if you were to -- you know, climb inside the hearts and minds of voters on election day, many, many republicans would say, look, I`m not really crazy about and in spited about this guy but he`s going to do things that I know Hillary Clinton will never do, and these are some examples of those things. So, they`re very happy with what they`ve gotten so far.
HAYES: This is a thing that -- but this is the -- this is the thing that got lost in the election. And it`s -- is that you are electing a -- not a person -- you`re electing person but a coalition and a group of pictures to be in power of the country.
SEDER: Yes. And look. And I bemoan the fact that Hillary Clinton during the election never tied Donald Trump to Paul Ryan and vice versa. And I`ll tell you something --
HAYES: In fact, they have strategic decision --
SEDER: The democrats are not doing that now.
HAYES: Right. This is true.
SEDER: And they are not doing that now. They`re talking about how, you know, Trump -- this Trump that. They should be looking at what Paul Ryan is doing, because Paul Ryan is deciding the agenda of this Presidency as much as any other individual in the entire country. And that`s where they should start criticizing and they should start understanding they are running against republicans not Donald Trump.
HAYES: This is a really key point. I think the fundamental gravity of things is that party politics and party coalition still matter. We`ll see how long that endures, Sam Seder, Katie Packer, thanks for you both. Appreciate it.
Still to come, a President who holds his beliefs over facts and what his leadership might look like when faced with a national crisis. We`ll talk about that after this break.
HAYES: The President Trump met with congressional leaders last night. He reportedly spent about the first 10 minutes reliving the election -- as he`s want to do. According to multiple sources in the room, Trump asserted that the votes of three to five million, quote -- and I`m quoting here "illegals" deprived him of the popular vote. It is a preposterous and baseless claim Trump has made before. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was down to get a question on this today and he was ready. Spicer, having been burned Saturday attempting in vain to defend Trump`s false claim about the inauguration attendance, took a very different approach today.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the President believe that millions voted illegally in this election and what evidence do you have of widespread voter fraud in this election if that`s the case?
SPICER: The President does believe that. He has stated that before. I think he`s stated his concerns of voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign. He continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But exactly what evidence? Speaker Ryan today said there`s no evidence. The National Association of Secretaries of State say that they don`t agree with the President`s assessment. What evidence do you have?
SPICER: As I said, I think the President has believed that for a while based on studies and information he has.
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HAYES: See what he did there? The President believes it. Not what the President believes is true. Spicer used that again and again and again.
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SPICER: Which has been a long standing belief that he`s maintained. It`s a belief he maintains. He`s believed this for a long time. It was a comment that he made on a long standing belief.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe there was widespread voter fraud?
SPICER: Listen, my job is not -- look -- this --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can he be comfortable with his win if he believes - -
SPICER: He`s very comfortable with his win. He believes what he believes based on the information he`s provided.
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HAYES: He believes, he believes, he believes. Now, this is what happens when the President`s staff try to adapt to a President who hold beliefs that are not simply untrue but manifestly ludicrous and widely under suit by people across the entire ideological and political spectrum as such. Eventually, Spicer was hounded about Trump`s so-called "evidence", finally offering this.
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SPICER: I think there`s been studies that modern day came out of pew in 2008 that showed 14 percent of people who voted were non-citizens. There`s other studies that have been presented to him.
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HAYES: First of all, think about that stat for a second. 14 percent of people who voted were non-citizens. Of course, I mean, that`s ridiculous. The pew study found no such thing. The author of the study tweeting today "zero evidence of fraud in this election," but Spicer`s strategy leads to other problems. Namely, if the President believes it, should he take action?
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m asking you why not investigate something that --
SPICER: Maybe we will.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The biggest scandal in American electoral history, three to five million people voting illegally?
SPICER: I -- and I think -- we`ll see where we go from here.
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HAYES: Joining me now, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Senator, what do you make of the fact the President adheres to this false conspiracy theory and that he wanted to share it with members of congress? What does that say to you about how the President forms beliefs about the world?
JEFF MERKLEY, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM OREGON: Well, it`s really profoundly disturbing because what we see is that the President wants something to be true and so he decides it must be true and his staff isn`t able to even talk to him about the fact that his fantasy land is not reality. And so that`s extremely troubling for decisions that the President will be making over time.
HAYES: You had an interesting exchange with Mick Mulvaney who was before you today in confirmation hearings who wants to be head of OMB, he`s nominated for that, about the importance of -- this is sort of simple reality. I couldn`t tell if you -- well, I`ll play the clip and then ask you about it. Take a listen.
MERKLEY: All right.
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MERKLEY: I have behind me two pictures that were taken at about the same time of day in 2009 and 2017. Which crowd is larger, the 2009 crowd or the 2017 crowd?
MULVANEY: Senator, if you allow me to give the disclaimer that I`m not really sure how this ties to OMB. I`ll be happy to answer your question which was from that picture it does appear that the crowd on the left-hand side is bigger than the crowd on the right-hand side.
MERKLEY: Thank you. The President disagreed about this in his news report. He said "it`s a lie. We caught them. We caught them in a beauty.
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HAYES: What was the -- what -- was the point of that exercise to humiliate the man who wants to be the head of the OMB or the President or what was the point you were making?
MERKLEY: No. There`s a very important point here and this has been kind of, one of the most prominent examples of the President`s detachment from reality. So much so that Kellyanne Conway had to -- had to say, well, it`s not a falsehood, it`s an alternate truth or an alternate fact and that is just a big problem. And my point here is as budget director you are going to have to be able to put the President`s feet on the ground of reality and say we`re not going to fill our budget full of what are referred to as magical asterisks and false assumptions, it has to be grounded reality. Are you going to be able to do that? That was the question I was putting forward.
HAYES: Are you confident there are people right now who are able to say that to the President of the United States, "You`re wrong about this. That belief, sir, is not true, that is not grounded in reality." Are there people around him -- are there people that he`s nominated that you`re confident can say that -- those very important words for President of the United States "That`s not true, sir."
MERKLEY: Well, I`m not confident that`s going to be the case with Mick Mulvaney but I do feel that "Mad Dog" Mattis is probably able to do that. And I must say when the sanest member of the cabinet is nicknamed "Mad Dog" you know you have some kind of significant problem.
HAYES: I want to ask one final question and I`m going to ask this of another colleague of yours later in the show, when I ask him. Do you think democrats should be voting for any nominee from this President given what he represents to democratic priorities, to Democratic Party, and given the mood right now of the base of the Democratic Party?
MERKLEY: Well, I do believe that we are given the responsibility under the constitution to determine if we feel someone is of fit character. That was the -- that was kind of the standard put forward by Hamilton. Are they of fit character? Are they unfit? And, you know, it`s a -- it`s challenging to apply that. I do not feel it should be a situation where even before we have a hearing, before we have testimony, we have a floor debate that we`re just going to say we`re going to vote against everyone. I think that is unfair. I think we have to take each nominee and ask if they are in reasonable experience, reasonably grounded in reality to be able to take on this the specific job.
HAYES: All right. Senator Jeff Merkley, thanks for articulating that. Appreciate it.
MERKLEY: You`re welcome.
HAYES: Still to come, Tom Price, Trump`s nominee to lead HHS faces new questions about ethics as he`s grilled by senate democrats. We will play that tape after this short break.
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RON WYDEN, UNITED STATE SENATOR FROM OREGON: Your stake in the nape it`s more than five times larger than the figure you reported to ethics officials when you became a nominee.
TOM PRICE, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICE DIRECTOR NOMINEE: Our belief is that that was a clerical error at the time that the 278-E was filed?
WYDEN: Congressman, you also reported it in the questionnaire to the committee and you had to revise it yesterday because it was wrong.
PRICE: And the reason for that is because I -- when I asked about the value, I thought it meant the value at the time that I purchased the stock.
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HAYES: Democratic Senator Ron Wyden pressing Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price over the revelation that he misrepresented his holdings in an Australian biotech company on ethics disclosure form. Price initially reported the value of his stake to be up to $50,000. It turns out to be closer to 250,000 which is, well, a lot more.
This is the latest story to raise questions about whether Price may have been using his position as a U.S. congressman, writing legislation on health care to benefit directly financially from the health care industry. Keiser Health News reported recently Price brought shares in that same Australian firm, Innate Immunotherapeutics, at a steep discount offered only to quote "sophisticated U.S. investors." It turns out Price`s colleague Congressman Chris Collins just so happens to sit on the company`s board. While Price insists he never received a direct stock tip from Collins, he`s admitted to discussing the company with Collins before making the purchase.
Add to that, a growing number of reports, it seems we get on every day or so, indicating that Price repeatedly invested in health-related companies then pushed bills that could benefit those companies directly. Price insists it was all on the up and up.
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PRICE: Everything that I did was ethical, above board, legal and transparent. The reason that you know about these things is because we have made that information available in real time.
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HAYES: Now, he may or may not have broken the law which bars lawmakers from trading on information not available to the public, but Richard Painter, who is Chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush told The Washington Post, quote, "I haven`t seen anything like this before and I`ve been practicing and teaching about securities law for 30 years." Price has also received a disproportionate number of campaign donations from individuals, companies, and other entities involved in health care. Over $670,000 during his 2016 campaign, according to the center for responsive politics. Just today Kaiser Health News reported that in 2013, Price lobbied Medicare against changing its pricing for a specific medical product. Six months after that, the company started contributing to the congressman`s campaign, the fund-raising committee, more than $40,000 in the years since Price directed the letter to Medicare officials.
Now, in any other political environment Price probably, probably, would already have withdrawn his nomination, but we`re in a brave new world. Republicans have a president who ethics lawyers say is violating the most basic norms of conflict of interest and they seem prepared to vote for literally any nominee the president puts forward.
So what can democrats do and are they doing enough? That`s next.
HAYES: If we learned anything from Mitch McConnell during the eight years of Barack Obama`s presidency it`s that obstruction works. Total opposition under our current polarized electorate often makes for very good politics. The shoe, now on the other foot, Democrats are stopping short of that kind of rigid strategy.
The full Senate has now confirmed four of Donald Trump`s nominees, all with some Democratic votes -- Mike Pompeo, his pick for CIA director, won support from 15 Democrats, almost a third of the caucus, including my next guest.
I`m joined by Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat from Hawaii. And senator, there`s a lot of consternation about Pompeo, particularly because they felt that he essentially left the door open to reinstating torture during the CIA. Why did you vote for him?
SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ, (D) HAWAII: Well, I find his views objectionable, but my criteria specifically for the national security team is different than for any of these other cabinet positions because of the unique position we are in as a country in terms of having such an inexperienced commander-in-chief. My goal is to get as many sane, rational, lawful people in the room surrounding him as possible. That`s why I voted for Mattis and Kelly and Pompeo, even though especially with Pompeo I had a tough time, because I disagree with him incredibly strongly, not just on torture, but on his views regarding metadata.
But in the end, he doesn`t make policy, the United States congress makes policy and I was persuaded by Adam Schiff`s support for him and other Democrats` support for him in terms of him discharging his duties and following the law.
I would never vote for him as a lawmaker, but in the end I came down on the side of making sure we had sane lawful rational people surrounding the commander-in-chief.
HAYES: So the possibility of entertaining -- the possibility of returning to a torture regime in some form is not disqualifying for you?
SCHATZ: Well, I don`t think he gets to decide that. I think that`s the important thing. This is a matter for the United States Congress to decide. The executive branch doesn`t decide that.
HAYES: It wasn`t the first time around.
SCHATZ: Well, that`s a fair enough point, Chris.
HAYES: I mean, OLC decided, John Yew decided, and then executive branch began to implement it, there was hardly a congressional vote on that implementation, and the people that were in that administration making the decisions that it was legal and not a violation of Geneva convention or U.s. law were responsible ultimately.
SCHATZ: Right. And we talked a lot about that among my staff and among my colleagues, the John Yew memo, and all of that. In the end we now have a statutory ban on torture and I can`t tell you that I`m totally comfortable, but I was even more uncomfortable leaving these key national security positions unfilled. So, the same went with Kelly. I didn`t think he went far enough on DACA, and you know even General Mattis, who`s an extraordinary public servant, would not have been my first choice for secretary of defense. But I wanted to make sure we had rational human beings around a person who has occasionally, not even occasionally, frequently shown himself to be unstable and unaware of what the law even says.
HAYES: I want to ask you a political question, and it has to do with the Democratic base. I`ll show you some pictures. There`s been people visiting offices of senators urging them to block nominees, to make sure that they block the Trump agenda.
There is a very significant part of the Democratic base that -- a la I think the Tea Party in 2009, the Republican base wants total obstruction. They want no, absolutely no collaboration or collusion. They don`t want anyone on the Democratic side to work with anything this new administration does even if that means voting for nominees. Why are they wrong?
SCHATZ: Well, I think the important thing -- and you were talking about Mitch McConnell`s total obstruction. But, remember, even Mitch McConnell gave Barack Obama his cabinet. And so as Jeff Merkley said earlier in the show, you know, it`s just not reasonable to vote against people like Elaine Chao who was the CEO of the United Way and ran the Peace Corps and was the deputy secretary of the Department of Transportation. And so we`re going to have to get to yes on some of the more moderate, sane, and competent nominees.
But on Pudzer, on Mnuchin, on Pruitt, on many, many others, on DeVos, on Tom Price, there are going to be plenty of opportunities for us to try to block these nominations.
We`re going to need a few Republicans to recognize that these people aren`t qualified for the job and in many cases they are exactly the wrong fit. They want to destroy the agency that they`re being charged to run.
HAYES: And I ask you for a prediction now, will there be a single Republican vote against any single Trump nominee?
SCHATZ: Oh, I think we`ll get several no votes. I don`t know whether any nominee will go down.
HAYES: You do think there will be at least one no vote from at least one Republican on at least one nominee?
SCHATZ: Oh, yeah. I`m quite confident in that. And I also think that we`re going to have historic levels of no votes for instance on the nominee for EPA, whether or not we`ll be able to block his nomination totally, the highest no vote total for any EPA nominee ever was 40. I think we will exceed that, which is an important marker.
But you know to your point about the base, I mean, I was as inspired as anybody. My wife was out there marching on the island of Oahu and there were 5,000 or 10,000 people out there, people on every island. People in Antarctica. We are feeling strength. We like the pressure. We want our base to demand action.
And I think they want to see the ferocity from us. And I think over the last couple of weeks many of us have found that sort of fighting spirit.
HAYES: If you like pressure, I can tell you, senator, you`re going to be getting a lot of it. I appreciate your time tonight.
SCHATZ: Thank you.
HAYES: Still, new behind the scenes reporting on Trump`s tumultuous White House. What got the president visibly enraged coming up.
Plus, resisting the president in 140 characters. That`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two. It`s a good one, starting right after this break.
HAYES: Thing One tonight. When the National Park Service`s Twitter account went rogue on inauguration day, retweeting a photo showing the noticeably smaller crowds at Trump`s inauguration in 2009. As well as an article claiming civil rights, climate change, and health care were all scrubbed from the White House website.
Well, the new president was not please. And the perfuctory retweets do not equal endorsements in the Twitter bio wasn`t going to cut it this time.
A short time after those messages appeared online, park employees got an email ordering all Department of Interior bureaus to immediately cease use of government Twitter accounts until further notice.
To be clear, the expectation is that there will be absolutely no posts to Twitter.
The National Park Service deleted those and a spokesperson for the Department of the Interior said "it was important to stand down Twitter activity across the department temporarily."
On Saturday morning, it was back with an apology for mistaken retweets from our account. And since then, all accounts appeared to have fallen in line, until today. For an all too brief moment, a tweet of resistance. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: The Twitter account for Badlands National Park in South Dakota isn`t one for subversion. Typically, the tweets highlight local wildlife like turkey vultures or a big goat standing on a small goat.
But today, the Badlands National Park Twitter account started tweeting a series of messages that are, well, decidedly political, because facts are political under an alternative facts administration.
The first few tweets were direct quotes from the National Wildlife Federation`s guide on climate change pointing out there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than in any time in the last 650,000 years, and the level has risen sharply since the industrial revolution.
The next two tweets pointed out the rise in ocean acidity, and the amount of carbon dioxide one gallon of gas adds to the atmosphere.
Just actual established facts.
For some reason, those tweet have now all been deleted.
Then, a short time later, NASA`s climate Twitter account appeared to pick up the baton, tweeting out details on the historic levels of carbon dioxide. This is all happening on the same day reports surfaced of multiple federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, clamping down on public information and social media, limiting employees` ability to issue news releases, tweet or otherwise communicate with the outside world.
Rachel Maddow will have much more on this story up next, but until then, the resistance may be alive. Look for the tweet of two goats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president started by signing a memorandum fulfilling a major promise to secure swift approval for the Keystone Pipeline. The president`s actions today will create tens of thousands of new jobs for the American workers and move us greater towards energy independence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: On his first day on the job, Press Secretary Sean Spicer put us on full alert that not everything he says from that podium is going to be true. And that caution has remained necessary throughout the week. Take what Spicer said today on the Keystone pipeline, the divisive infrastructure project that would transport dirty carbon pollution laden tar sands oil from Canada across the U.S. It is a well-worn talking point that building Keystone XL will create tens of thousands of new jobs.
Important to note, a State Department analysis from 2014 found that while building the pipeline will require bringing in more than 10,000 workers, the total number of permanent jobs created by Keystone would be about 35 permanent employees.
It turns out, once you build the pipeline it doesn`t require a lot of people to make it work.
Also worth pointing out that assisting a foreign oil company in transporting foreign oil on to a global market does not, as Sean Spicer said, move our country closer to energy independence.
Now, Keystone is just one of many alternative facts that may have gone mostly unchallenged amid the myriad distractions. Take what he said about President Trump`s federal hiring freeze at the beginning of yesterday`s press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: The president issued a memorandum outlining executive branch hiring. This memorandum counters the dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years. It is actually widely held belief I think among liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans that the federal workforce expanded through Barack Obama`s presidency and even before that.
It`s just not true. The number of federal employees today is basically the same as it was when Barack Obama took office, and has actually stayed the same around the same place since the mid-1960s.
The number of federal employees as a percentage of the total workforce has decreased dramatically over the past 70 years. See the title of that graph, a shrinking Federal workforce. It would be wrong to title this graph dramatic expansion of the federal workforce, unless, perhaps, you believe in alternative facts.
As we learned on the campaign trail and are now acclimating to in this administration, the fact that these things are wrong does not mean that we won`t hear them again and again, nor does it mean the president of the United States, the powerful man in the world will bother to integrate any new knowledge into his worldview.
In fact, a new report out from The Washington Post suggests the president might not even be willing to walk up a flight of stairs to meet with his closest advisers. That story, along with some other shocking new revelations about life inside the White House is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration period both in person and around the globe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Sean Spicer`s rant about crowd sizes at Trump`s inauguration sparked a lot of intrigue about how this administration is going to conduct itself over the next four years. Thanks to a new report from The Washington Post based on interviews with nearly a dozen senior Trump officials we now have some insight into exactly what led up to that unusual moment. They write, "over the objections of his aides and advisers the president issued a decree he wanted a fiery public response and he wanted it to come from his press secretary."
Now, to most observer`s, Spicer`s performance in that moment had been clearly detatched from reality and over the top but as The Post reports that Trump thought Spicer`s performance was, and I quote "not forceful enough." And he was upset that his press secretary had to read from a printed statement.
The report also details a number of internal feuds between top-level Trump staffers. Joining me is one of the authors of that report, Philip Rucker, White House bureau chief for The Washington Post.
Philip, what I got in that was that there isn`t anyone right now, as of now, who can tell the president no, that`s a bad idea.
PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think that`s pretty much right. The president, as our reporting shows, was furious over the weekend with the media reports about his crowd size, with the Twitter images with that National Park Service tweet that you mentioned in your earlier segment and he demanded this sort of response.
A lot of his advisers said, look, why don`t you just issue a tweet about the crowd sizes? Why don`t you put out a simple statement? You don`t need to make a big deal out of this. But the president said no, I want my press secretary, I want Sean Spicer to get out there and excoriate the media.
HAYES: What -- one of the things that comes across in your account and comes across in numerous behind-the-scenes account -- there`s an AP account out that`s also sort of behind the scenes look, the president is obsessed with media coverage of himself, obsessed with criticism and feels slighted and insecure despite having become the most powerful person in the world.
RUCKER: That`s right. And this is no different than how he was in the course of his campaign and even during his business career before that. He`s obsessed with how he`s portrayed in the public with his image, with his brand. He`s a brander. And, you know, he`s taken it really personally that there are people out there, critics in the Democratic Party and some in the media who are suggesting that he`s somehow illegitimate, because he didn`t win the popular vote or because of other issues and he just -- he wants to feel respected and he wants people to admire the size of his crowds and admire how big his numbers are and how many people voted for him. And a lot of his advisers feel like, look, he needs to move past that and focus on the really kind of serious substantive issues that he wants to define the opening days of his presidency.
HAYES: Do you -- from your reporting, one of the things that appeared to me is that the president thought that part of becoming the president is once you -- if you win the presidency then everyone has to stop criticizing you. It`s like you win and you get to tell everyone, like, I won.
RUCKER: We`re not that kind of country.
HAYES: No, in fact, it`s the opposite. Even the most popular presidents in any time or place are loathed by tens of millions of people at any particular moment no matter how good a job they`re doing.
RUCKER: That`s right. And you know, this is not to take away from the huge momentum and enthusiasm Trump has within his support base.
HAYES: No, that`s the point. It doesn`t matter, you could be beloved by tens of millions of people, tens of millions of people are also going to loathe you. It doesn`t matter.
RUCKER: And he is historically unpopular right now. I mean, the polls show a majority of Americans do not approve of his performance in this transition period and right as he took office he was at the lowest point in his approval ratings for four decades. So, you know, he needs to build more support, not try to push people away.
HAYES: Well, but here`s the thing, why is that the case? And here`s what I will say, these obsessions with slights, pursuing feuds, we saw him pursue it with the federal judge who he said was unqualified to stand in judgment of him because of his Mexican heritage. We saw him go after the gold star mother because he said she didn`t speak, a sort of veiled reference to her Islamic faith.
He`s done all these things, he`s pursued these kind of vendettas, he`s also had staff shakeups and staff running and leaking to the press and he became president of the United States. Why should he stop now?
RUCKER: Well, that may be what he`s asking himself. Clearly he`s still thinking about these issues. He`s tweeting about them from time to time. He`s certainly talking to his friends and some of his advisers about them. And the White House team right now, they just need to try to move him past this. They`re trying to get him to focus.
HAYES: Who are his friends?
RUCKER: You know, he has a lot of friends that he talks to. He has family members certainly, but there are people in his businesses. There are people that he worked on at television with. There are figures like Roger Stone who have been political advisers to him for many, many years who are not in the White House, but have a line into him who are talking to him.
HAYES: Is he in contact with Roger Stone?
RUCKER: He had been before coming -- before the inauguration.
HAYES: That`s very interesting. Roger Stone, one of the people who in one of the reports about the target of the counterintelligence investigation happening into contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, Stone was one of three people named in that one report along with Carter Page (ph) and Paul Manafort, so that`s interesting.
Thank you, Philip Rucker, appreciate it.
RUCKER: Thank you.
HAYES: All right, that is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END