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All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 1/27/2017

Guests: Jeff Merkley, Ilhan Omar, Jennifer Rubin, Sarah Kliff

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 27, 2017 Guest: Jeff Merkley, Ilhan Omar, Jennifer Rubin, Sarah Kliff CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  It sure beats losing the battle of objective truth by a shutout.  That`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES", starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  What`s crucial for me is for the public to understand that Obamacare`s a disaster, OK?

HAYES:  President Trump takes action to undercut healthcare enrollment. 

TRUMP:  I do believe we`ll going to have a much better plan. 

HAYES:  But a new leaked audio, Republicans wonder if their repeal will pull the rug out from under people.  Then --

TRUMP:  That goes to the promise of extreme vetting, totally extreme. 

HAYES:  The President`s totally extreme moves to restrict immigration and refugees.  Plus, Masha Gessen on the reality of living among alternative facts. 

DAVID MUIR, ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT ANCHOR:  What you have presented so far has been debunked.  It`s been called false --

TRUMP:  No, it hasn`t. 

HAYES:  What Van Halen has to do with the British Prime Minister`s visit.  And the Vice President attends a D.C. demonstration. 

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  President Trump actually asked me to be here with you today. 

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts, right now. 


HAYES:  Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  There is a lot going on tonight.  Just over a year and a month since candidate Trump called for and I quote here, "a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering United States."  President Trump, today, signed an executive order aimed at fulfilling at least part of that goal.  Hewing closely to the rhetoric of banning entry to the United States based on country of origin and possibly even religion, here is the President today. 


TRUMP:  I`m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America.  We don`t want them here.  We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.  And this is the protection of the nation from foreign terrorist entities into the United States.  We all know what that means, protection of the nation from foreign terrorist`s entry into the United States.  Big stuff.


HAYES:  The administration did not release the lengthy, complicated executive order until hours after the signing, but it suspends the issuance of visas and other immigration benefits to people from "countries of particular concern." Countries designated in a prior law by Congress as Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.  The executive order also stops the refugee program all together for all refugees from anywhere for four months pending review, and installs an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.  But, it makes special allowances for victims of persecution who are part of a minority religion in that country, a carve-out that would apply to, for instance, Christian refugees in Muslim-majority countries. 

The State Department in a statement said, it is working with the Departments of Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services to put the executive order into effect.  Reaction from lawmakers has already been harsh.  Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer tweeting, "there are tears running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty tonight."  Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts saying in this statement, "President Trump is leading our country out of fear instead of facts.  His executive orders banning refugees and immigrants from some Muslim-majority countries in the United States, plays right into the hands of our enemies.  I am ashamed he is our President." 

Refugee centered organizations like; Amnesty International, Capital Release Services, and the International Rescue Committee have expressed grave concern with the executive order.  Amnesty International USA saying in a statement, "This puts anti-Muslim bigotry into policy and is eerily reminiscent of the kinds of religious discrimination we`ve documented in countries like China and Iran.  The executive order President Trump issued today is cruel, inhumane, and violates international law."

Joining me now MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent, Ari Melber, and it`s great to have you here because all of us have been franticly attempting to work our way through what is very complicated -- let me just say immigration law like the craziest, most complicated area of law. 


HAYES:  Let`s just break it down quickly.  There`s one component which is visas.  Right?  What`s going on in the visa front?

MELBER:  This is suspending visas in the way that people would normally be cleared to come in, based on a host of considerations.  So, the main thing here, the biggest power here is that it`s completely temporarily suspending immigration from that list of countries you mentioned. 

HAYES:  And that means grad students, med students, doctors, engineers in an oil field in Houston who`s coming over from, say, Iraq. 

MELBER:  Right.

HAYES:  All of it. 

MELBER:  So, as a first step it`s not vetting of any kind extreme or lax.  It`s shutting the door to those countries.  This has been pointed out by others and I`ll stress it here, the opening provisions.  The starting language of this thing says, we have to worry about immigration given 9/11.  And this doesn`t do anything with regard to the home countries of the attackers on 9/11 of Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Egypt.  Doesn`t touch those countries in any way.  What it does go on to do is, as you mentioned, take down those seven countries.  What is a clever legal strategy here that might actually really matter is those countries are based on a law that cited them in a different context but cited them as dangerous, it`s a law that Congress passed and the President Obama signed.  It was a law that basically said, you could have a waiver of the normal the visa requirements if you were from a favored country like, say, England, but if you stopped in a dangerous place like Syria or Iraq you don`t get your waiver anymore. 

HAYES:  I see. 

MELBER:  And they`ve taken that list -- that sort of a danger list.  And now, they`re saying, hey, if you come from that country, you don`t get in at all. 

HAYES:  So, I want to be, like, really clear here, right?  Because this is not, you know, what the President when he`s running, called for, is a temporary ban on all Muslims coming into the country.  This is not that. 


HAYES:  And almost certainly, would not have been held up in court, I think.  There`s a general feeling. 

MELBER:  We heard from many constitutional experts who said it probably would not, but that`s unknown and there have been times if you go back far enough, not President; that are popular.  If you go back far enough, there were restrictions on Catholics and on Jews if you go back far enough. 

HAYES:  OK.  And finally, here, refugees.  Indefinite ban on all Syrian refugees which is the place that is producing the most refugees in the world right now.  It`s a maelstrom of unceasing horror, and a ban -- form of a ban on all refugees everywhere. 

MELBER:  Correct.  This is a suspension of the entire refugee program.  So, it`s saying, even people who are the facing discrimination, the type of people the United States usually prioritize to some degree, because of what they were up against.  Nothing for a while, while they put this review on and nothing from Syria at all.  That is -- that again, that`s a slam door.  And so, what you see in this as well is opening the door to further bans, because it says in this new order, that the DHS and the Secretary of State can then propose new countries. 

OK.  Donald Trump, if you`re watching, because I know sometimes you watch.  What he may decide is, Oh!  Wait, I can add to that.  As I understand this helps me so, if I heard; Oh, maybe I should ban Saudi Arabia.  Well, the DHS can do that.  I`m not suggesting that, I`m not making a policy recommendation one way or the other to the President.  But this is an order --

HAYES:  Right.

MELBER:  -- That basically gives a lot of power in the executive to do this.  The reason why I thought that a religious ban which is important is, as I mentioned, it uses other criteria. 

HAYES:  Right.

MELBER:  It does mention things like honor killings in its preamble.

HAYES:  Right.

MELBER:  But we have to be fair, this is not a religious test as written. 

HAYES:  All right, Ari Melber, thank you very much. 

MELBER:  Thank you. 

HAYES:  Joining me now, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon.  And Senator, the argument that the preamble of the text of this executive order made by proponents of the President`s policy is that basically better safe than sorry.  We care about America and American lives and you just don`t know.  You got to be careful with these folks.  What do you say to that?

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON:  Well Chris, Lady Liberty is crying tonight.  They -- she didn`t say give me your poor, and your tired, and your huddled masses yearning to be free.  Only if they are this religion or that religion, or this ethnicity or that ethnicity, and we really know that the most vetted group coming to the United States are our refugees.  They go through a two-year process, and blocking out women, and children, and interpreters, who have enhanced our National Security abroad is really a mistaken direction to go. 

Meanwhile, it`s going to throw into chaos the visa waiver program with Europe.  All these European nations, all the five of the European Union come here under the visa waiver.  They only can come under that program with the highest passport requirements, including a biometric information and coded into a chip in the -- in the visa or in the passport.  So, it`s a -- it`s been a very successful system that has allowed the flow of individuals from Europe to the United States and some other nations as well.  That`s kind of going through chaos, and that`s before we get to this -- basically, this assault on Muslims. 

HAYES:  What do you say to those who`ve Ari Melber said that, you know, this is very carefully crafted to not specify a religion.  In fact, there`s two things going on: one is that it`s a set of countries, all the countries are Muslim majority.  Another portion of the executive order says, there will be preference given on the religious people -- victims of religious persecution, if those people are minorities -- religious minorities in a country that`s a majority other religion.  You can imagine, say, Coptic Christians or Syrian Christians.  What do you say to those who say, look, this was crafted so it doesn`t actually use Islam or religion as a test?

MERKLEY:  Clearly, those who are lawyers have gone through this, to try to find a foundation on which they can pass a constitutional test.  But understand this, this ban on folks coming from the seven Islamic countries.  Primarily, Islamic countries is going to be perceived much as the NSEERS program was previously, as a previous program that didn`t result in a single prosecution.  It was terribly ineffective, in terms of detecting anyone who wanted to do our country harm.  But what it did very well was offend the entire Islamic world and feed in to the ISIS rhetoric, in which they are essentially saying the United States wants to conduct a war on Islam.  So, we`re going to conduct a war on them.  So, this really feeds those fires and dangers our National Security. 

HAYES:  There is a bunch of people noting today, that today is Holocaust Memorial Day.  I saw the Czech -- former Czech Ambassador, Andy Shapiro, tweeting his I believe mother`s visa into this country that saved her from mass murder in Germany when she was a Jew.  Do you think you have the better side of the political argument when you are making a moral case for why America has some moral responsibility to take in people fleeing the ravages of war?

MERKLEY:  I`ll tell you, it`s been so fundamental in our history.  We are a nation of immigrants, unless, you`re 100 percent Native American.  We all came through the process of immigration, our parents, grandparents, etc.  And it`s been that mixture that has really been a tremendous strength of America, and so, for us to now say we`re not going to look at the problems of the world and admit those who are troubled.  Well none of -- virtually, none of us would be here if that were the case, so, when our ancestors arrived. 

And so, I feel it really grates of all from the religious side, non- discrimination, freedom of religion of the United States.  And it also goes against the grain of what has made America very strong, and so, all of that and then you throw in the fact that this strategy is going to be a major source of recruitment for terrorists around the world.  So, it`s a complete set.  You asked me about the politics of it, I don`t know about the politics of it.  But I know it goes against our fundamental principles and makes us in a more dangerous place. 

HAYES:  All right.  Senator Jeff Merkley, thanks for your time tonight. 

MERKLEY:  Thank you. 

HAYES:  Joining me now, Representative -- State Representative, Ilhan Omar.  Representative, first I want to just ground this in you and your story.  You, yourself are refugee.  Can you just explain to us the circumstances under which you came to this country? 

REP. ILHAN OMAR (DFL), MINNESOTA:  Hi, Chris.  Yes, I am a refugee.  My family arrived here from Somalia, via Kenya in 1995.  After spending four years in the refugee camp and going through an extensive vetting process to come here. 

HAYES:  What -- I guess the context that I wonder if you could illuminate is, what would push a family to leave the place that they live in and love and go into, say, a camp and try to come to this country?

OMAR:  Yes, I mean, the circumstances my family ended up leaving our home country was because there was a civil war, and it was no longer safe for us to be in that country.  And so, we fled and seek refuge in Kenya and entered a refugee camp in Mombasa.  And after a long time in the refugee camp we were fortunate enough to get the opportunity to resettle here in the United States through the refugee resettlement program that the Lutheran services provided. 

HAYES:  That all refugees entered the country, if I`m reading this order correctly has been suspended immediately for four months.  All Syrian refugees from the sort of worst civil war in the world happening right now, has been suspended indefinitely.  What`s your response to those actions?

OMAR:  It`s really sad and disappointing.  And it`s -- you know, it goes against the fundamentals of, I think, what our nation stands for, for us to create a Muslim ban, essentially, for refugees coming from Muslim-dominated countries.  I think would go against what we believe to be our foundations of being a welcoming country, where we allow strangers to come seek new opportunities and to see themselves as part of the American foundation and to seek their American dream. 

It`s also, you know, important for us to note that many of the people that this particular executive order bans are coming from countries that the United States foreign policy has contributed in destabilizing their countries.  And they`re living under a civil war that we`ve aided in helping them seek a democratic nation.  And for us to turn their back on them right now, I think it`s sad, disappointing, and every American who believes that furthering democracy in the world is a value we all believe and should stand up and voice their opposition and concern to this executive order. 

It is really important for us to recognize that extremism does not have a religion.  It doesn`t have a nation, it doesn`t live in one continent.  Here in the United States, we face extremism every single day and we are facing more of a threat from a lone gunman that goes into a school and shoots up young children.  We face more of a threat from a lone gunman who goes into a movie theater and shoots up people enjoying an evening, watching movies.  And so, we have to realize that what this executive ban does is to create a divide, exploit the fear that we have, and the ignorance that we have of people of a different faith, of different nationality and that is un-American to me. 

I came here because my dad and grandfather believed in the American exceptionalism of coming to a country that was very welcoming and that`s a country of immigrants unless you are a native American.  We all have a history of being immigrants to this country and that is sort of the founding principles.  You know, there`s a saying that America is a place that is supposed to welcome everyone. 

HAYES:  All right, Representative Omar.  I appreciate your time tonight, thank you very much. 

OMAR:  Thank you so much. 

HAYES:  Up next from behind closed doors, Republicans worry, even freak out a little bit, about their promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare.  Leaked audio gives a fascinating look, to how the right is trying to grabble with their next steps.  That story after this two-minute break. 


HAYES:  Tonight, two major setbacks for Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a key priority of the new administration; certainly, the new congress.  First, the Trump administration had planned to pull the plug on all Obamacare outreach and advertising in the crucial final days of the 2017 enrollment season.  Sources at HHS and on the Hill, told political, even if ads had already been paid for.  But after outcry from supporters of Obamacare patient advocates, and insurers; they`re reversing course.  Deciding to continue public outreach for the last few days of open enrollment. 

We should note this is the first big win, really, for Obamacare supporters in the early days of the new administration.  This comes after the "Washington Post" obtained an audio recording of a closed-door planning session at the GOP`s retreat.  Revealing a party in chaos behind the scenes plagued by doubts about the way forward, "we better be sure that we`re prepared to live with the market we`ve created with repeals" said Congressman, Tom McClintock of California. "That`s going to be called Trump care, Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel and will be judged in the election two years away." 

Another Congressman raised concerns about using the ACA repeal, to defund planned parenthood. "We are just walking into a giant political trap if we go down this path of sticking planned parenthood in the health insurance bill" said, John Faso, a freshman Congressman from New York.  "If you want to do it somewhere else, I have no problem but I think we are creating a political minefield for ourselves" - House and Senate.

Republicans in Congress are now learning the same lessons their Democratic counterparts learned eight years ago; governing is hard, especially when it comes to health policy.  Though, Donald Trump has managed to rewrite many of the rules previously governing the political universe, at least on this subject, gravity still exists.

Joining me now, Sara Cliff, Senior Policy Correspondent at "Vox"; Jennifer Rubin, Columnist on "Washington Post" who writes "The Right Turn" blog.  And Jennifer, let me start with you.  What I -- what I -- it was fascinating, this is great get by, I should say, by Mike DeBonis over the "Washington Post".  It sounds like that, you know, the proverbial dog that caught the car, right?  It`s like, what do we do now?  And it has been, I have to know, seven years to work on a replacement plan and just waking up to the thicket of the politics, it`s sort of astonishing. 

JENNIFER RUBIN, WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST:  Yes, I have been one of the lone voices that said, that Republicans were digging themselves a big hole.  First of all, they have overpromised to the moon.  They were going to make it cheaper, and better, and more choices.  This is not dish soap this is health care, and there`s only so many things you can do. 

Then Donald Trump doubled down and said, he was going to give health care coverage to everyone.  That sounds like universal coverage not just access, so they set the bar high and they really have not thought this through.  You`re exactly right, Chris.  They never thought they were going to win the presidency.  They`ve been at this for seven years.  They don`t have a single plan.  I was like, kind of, reassured by hearing them behind closed doors because they`re saner in private than in public. 

And Paul Ryan, has essentially been lying to the American people and lying to his members saying, oh, we`re all on the same page -- we`re on the same page with Trump.  Trump doesn`t have a page, he doesn`t have a book, he doesn`t have a library.  Poor Paul Ryan, you know, he has to fake it and this blows the cover on the fact that these people are all over the map.  Of course, they are, there is no perfect solution and what`s more?  At the end of the day they`ll have to get eight Democratic Senators?  They can`t even get themselves on the same page. 

HAYES:  Well, that`s -- that`s a great point about the filibuster.  If there`re certain things they can do in reconciliation, but they can`t -- they can`t create a new healthcare system through reconciliation.  And Sarah, you know, there`s the politics of this also.  Is there any policy consensus?  I mean, you got Ryan Paul says, look, we got to come out with something, he comes out with his own bill.  It is, you know, it`s what you would expect from a sort of, let the market decide kind of Republican.  It`s bare bones, a lot of people would probably lose their health insurance.  But it is ideologically honest.  The problem is, it probably wouldn`t be a political winner. 

SARAH KLIFF, VOX SENIOR POLICY CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, it probably wouldn`t.  Every one of those bills that would be quite bad if there`s someone who is sick, someone who has low income, if you`re using Obamacare right now.  The Paul plan, really, doesn`t offer you a lot.  You know, to your question, Chris, there really isn`t consensus right now.  You`re seeing a lot of different Republican plans get introduced, there`s another plan that came out this week from two more -- a more centrist plan from two Republican Senators; the Cassidy-Collins plan.  That actually let some states keep Obamacare if they like it, and lets other states move to a different program if they don`t.  You have the Paul plan, really different from the Cassidy-Collins plan.  You have this disarray behind closed doors.  So, it reminds me like you`re saying, I have a bit of Deja vu to covering the 2009, 2010 Obamacare effort.  I think the difference here is Democrats had a clear goal in mind, they wanted to cover more people with health insurance.

HAYES:  Right.

KLIFF:  It`s not really clear what Republicans are groping towards aside from getting rid of the Affordable Care Act. 

HAYES:  Well.  That is the great point.  Yes, what is the plan?  And Jennifer`s point about promising the moon.  I mean, you even have Sean Spicer, I think he said, "we have a mandate to provide more -- care to more people at lower deductibles."  I thought -- well, if that`s the mandate, that`s a tough mandate to live up to.  And then you have -- you have also, Sarah, to the point about sort of Deja vu, right?  Status quo bias is intense in health care, right?  People, like, change is scary.  It - which ever direction.  Here`s one - this is Tom McArthur in that audio, Jennifer, saying, "we`re telling people -- those people we`re not going to pull the rug out from under them, and if we do this too fast we are in fact going to pull the rug out from under them."

RUBIN:  Well, I think their honesty is at least refreshing and you make another good point, Chris, which is one of the complaints about Obamacare and the complaint that Donald Trump touted, was that the deductibles and co-pays were too high.  What are they suggesting?  They`re suggesting a tax credit that will buy you, get this, a bare bones catastrophic plan.  That is exactly what people have said they don`t want.  So, I don`t know what problem they are trying to solve. 

Listen, there are problems with Obamacare and they could be addressing them.  There`re a lot of problems, and there`s a lot of questions as to whether even these high-risk pools which they keep venerating and have never worked, are the way to go.  So, there are real problems.  They probably could sit down with Democrats and fix some of these, but politically for them, they have painted themselves into such a tight corner.  They can`t do anything rational so that they`re going to be irrational, and they`ll fun-fur around for I think the better part of a year.  And it may never come to anything. 

HAYES:  Well, Matt Lewis wrote a piece that lose concern in "The Daily Caller" basically saying, "look, I looked into this, you should punt."  But, let me say this, again, go back to 2009.  That effort was pronounced dead more times than I can count.  So, people should be clear.  Sarah, what is your sense of how much will there is to navigate what will be very difficult. 

KLIFF:  So, I think there is a lot of will, as Jennifer was saying, Republicans have really put themselves in a corner here, right?  They`ve spent seven years promising to repeal and replace Obamacare.  So, I think this punt option is quite difficult to pull off --

HAYES:  Right.

KLIFF:  After you spent so much time talking about it.  That being said, I think this incident with the Obamacare ads was actually quite instructive to me, that this is a relatively small thing.  It was small, it`s political but there was such a backlash to taking away ads.

Imagine the backlash to taking away health insurance for millions of people.  Like you were saying, it`s so hard to rip anything out by the roots and we`re just talking about advertisements, we`re not talking about people`s health coverage. 

HAYES:  It`s a great -- It`s a great -- but I remember when I covered the ACA fight when I was in D.C., as a Washington of the nation.  It was amazingly how powerful that was.  Just change, is terrifying when you`re talking about people`s doctors, and their care, and their grandparents, and things like that.  And that`s true for anyone who has even the greatest plan in the world, terribly true if you don`t have a plan.  Sarah Kliff and Jennifer Rubin, thank you very much. 

KLIFF:  Thank you. 

HAYES:  Coming up, President Donald Trump repeatedly making claims that are factually inaccurate in order to support his own narrative.  A prime example of that, right after the break. 



TRUMP:  Right now, too many families don`t feel secure.  Just look at the 30 largest cities.  In the last year alone, the murder rate has increased by an estimated 14 percent.  Here in Philadelphia, the murder rate has been steady -- I mean, just terribly increasing. 


HAYES:  Over the past 24 hours, the President has gotten a lot of flak, from the city of Philadelphia for that statement because it`s not true.  The murder rate in the City of Brotherly Love, has not been "terribly increasing."  In fact, about four years ago, Philly`s murder rate fell to its lowest level in 30 years, pretty much steady ever since then.  And if you listen closely, it really almost sounds like Trump`s teleprompter wanted him to say the truth, that the murder rate had been steady before he just decided to take some creative license. 


TRUMP:  Here in Philadelphia the murder rate has been steady -- I mean, just terribly increasing. 


HAYES:  By now, we`ve all become accustomed to assuming that any statement by the President -- to not assuming that any statement by the President is factual.  But his view of life in America`s cities fits a particularly troubling pattern. 

Consider his tweets about John Lewis`s district in Atlanta, saying it was, "In horrible shape and falling apart, not to mention crime infested."  Georgia`s fifth Congressional district is not crime infested.  In fact, the Atlanta Journal Constitution captured with this front-page.  Or how about the White House web site where on day one of his presidency, Trump`s team wrote that "In our nation`s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent."  That was also not really true.  A homicide rate in D.C. had risen 50 percent.  That was also not really true.  The homicide rate in D.C. had risen 50 percent two years ago, but actually fell last year by about 17 percent. 

The language on the White House website has since been changed.

And perhaps the greatest examples of Trump`s urban crime exaggerations and over-simplifications is the city of Chicago.


TRUMP:  It`s horrible carnage.  This is Afghanistan is not like what`s happening in Chicago.  People are being shot left and right.  Thousands of people over a short period of time.


HAYES:  Chicago has become a kind of short hand both for the president and for many people who share his world view for a kind of urban war zone.  The reality of that is much, much more complicated.  And so we`re headed there next week to hear from the people of Chicago in a special town hall event.  That`s next Wednesday.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What you have presented so far has been debunked.  It`s been called false.

TRUMP:  No, it hasn`t.  Take a look at the Pew reports.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I called the author of the Pew report last night and he told me they found no evidence of voter fraud.

TRUMP:  Really?  Then why did he write the report?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He said no evidence of voter fraud.

TRUMP:  Excuse me, then why did he write the report?  According to Pew report, then he`s groveling again.  You know, I always talk about the reporters that grovel when they want to write something that you want to hear.


HAYES:  The country is slowly adjusting to the reality that the new president often says things that are not true.  And when he`s corrected he continues to say things that are not true.  When he`s corrected again, he cites sources that are widely debunked or widely discredited.

From things as small as what the like what the weather was like on election day and how big the crowds were, to things as large as whether or not there was a massive voter fraud conspiracy to try and stop him from being elected.

It is  truly uncharted territory for American democracy.  But other countries have been dealing with both passive and active disinformation campaigns for years.  It just so happens one of those countries is none other than Vladimir Putin`s Russia.  And someone who has seen Putin use that tactic firsthand, Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen, author of The Man Without a Face: the Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.

What do you make of this first week?  This is something he did do as a candidate, but I think there`s something different when it`s, like, the authority of the state behind it at some level.

MASHA GESSEN, JOURNALIST:  Well, what I make of this.  First, if I can just mention that the biggest thing to me is when I came to this country on a refugee visa 35 years ago and I feel sick.

HAYES:  You came here as a refugee?

GESSEN:  I came here as a refugee from the Soviet Union 35 years ago.  You know, I wouldn`t have happened if I hadn`t been give a visa.

HAYES:  Some of the most incredible people I know -- actually that`s true - - have came as refugees from the Soviet Union.

GESSEN:  So -- but getting to your question, it`s -- yeah, it`s familiar.  And it`s disorienting.  Because what he`s doing is he is first of all, he`s using language to assert power.  He`s basically saying "I`m going to say whatever I want to say and it is going to be what I want it to be whether you like it or  not."

And we`re not equipped for dealing with that because what do you say to a person who will  insist on saying that blue is red?  After you have demonstrated it is still blue.

But he`s also stripping words of their meaning. It`s like nothing is anymore and we`re living in it.

HAYES:  So, how do you deal with it?  I mean I think that there`s -- people -- there`s the fact check thing.  And we just did it.  And I will say this, like, this is a small thing.  It`s a small thing, but the White House got the statistics on Washington, D.C. wrong on the first day.  It was pointed out.  They did change it to make it a plausibly fact checkable claim.  And there`s some small part of me that thinks okay, well good, that`s how it should go.

GESSEN:  Well, it`s a small part of how it should go.  I mean, fact checking doesn`t go far  enough.  We really have to learn to tell this story of what this man is and what he`s doing.

And just fact checking everything he says doesn`t quite go far enough.  I mean, I think we have to understand sort of the power play.  We have to understand the aesthetics of using language so that it turns into mush.  We have to keep writing the bigger story and keep trying to understand the truth.

HAYES:  Can I ask you this?  I have you on.  You`re one of my favorite guests.  You`re a phenomenal writer for anyone that has not read Masha`s work, it`s -- you`re an exceptional writer.

Is there any chance that you`re overreading the Putin analogy, right, like that you have this experience.  It`s very intense, very profound and very distinct and there`s so many analogies that you`re importing it in places where it doesn`t work.

GESSEN:  Maybe I should just write another story about all the differences between them, because the differences between them are huge.  And they`re not men who are alike.

One is hugely emotional.  He`s raw.  He`s forceful.  The other one actually prides himself on never expressing an emotion.

HAYES;  One of them also is a hard man who has probably killed people, many people.  The other is a soft man who has almost certainly not.

GESSEN:  Well, that`s probably about to change with the refugee ban he`s just put in place.

HAYES:  Fair point.

GESSEN:  But you`re right.  I mean, emotionally their makeup is very different.

And certainly historically their legacy is completely different.  So I don`t mean to say that they are alike, what I mean to say is that they`re kindred spirits.  And there`s some ways, some things that he`s doing that many autocrats have done all over the world.  I happen to know this one very well, so I can--

HAYES:  It is a broader tool of using power as the means to create the terms of reality.

GESSEN:  Right, it`s gaslighting is probably one of the best terms for it.  And you no longer feel like you`re on solid ground.  And another thing, and this is something that actually we need to start sort of waking up to, it creates this state that I think we`ve all been living in for the last week, the state of  constant low-level dread.  And you can`t really function in that state.

You know, you can just barely manage to go to work and pick up your children from day care, but you can`t plan for the future.

HAYES:  I`m laughing because it`s such an accurate characterization.

GESSEN:  And this is something that places ranging from interment camps to totalitarian countries to people traffickers have done all over the world for years.  We know how this stuff works.  We`ve just never seen somebody become the American president and use it.

HAYES:  All right, Masha Gessen, as I said, you should always check out our work.  Thank you for your time tonight, appreciate it.

Still ahead, the annual March for Life draws its highest ranking official in its history today. Who that was ahead.

But, first, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Van Halen, that`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starting right after this break.


HAYES:  Thing One tonight, the lesson from Van Halen`s infamous brown M&M`s contract writer by way of the British Prime Minister`s visit.  To the White House today. 

As you may know, big time touring acts are notorious for making ridiculous backstage requests at concert venues.  But in the case of Van Halen`s 1982 Diver Down, Hide Your Sheep Tour, the band was running with the devil in the details.

This is page 40 of Van Halen`s rider, that concern tour.  In the food requirement section you`ll see there`s an area titled munchies.  And the band asked for M&Ms but includes in all caps underline warning "absolutely no brown ones."

Now the story is a legendary tale of spoiled rock star prima donnas at their worst.  Nso brown M&Ms.  But there`s more to it than that.  Lead singer David Lee Roth explained years later.


DAVID LEE ROTH, SINGER:  I had them place a clause that just out of the middle of  nowhere it would say, for example, there will be 12 amper high voltage sockets placed at 15 foot intervals not to exceed the load bearing et cetera et cetera and then just out of the middle of nowhere said there will be no brown M&Ms in the backstage area or the promoter will forfeit the show at full price.

What was the point?  If I came backstage having been one of the architects of this lighting and staging design and I saw brown M&Ms on the catering table then guaranteed the promoter had not read the contract rider and we had to do a serious line check, because frequently we had danger issues or accidental issues.


HAYES:  The brown M&Ms were a ruse to make sure promoters were paying careful attention because if they don`t pay attention to the small stuff you better expect they`ll screw up the big stuff. 

So what does all this have to do with the prime minister`s visit to the White House?  That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES:  Rock Band Van Halen is notorious for making a very specific snack food request on tour, M&Ms but no brown ones.  And it was actually just a ploy designed by the band`s lead singer to make sure promoters read all the important safety and technical instructions in the rider.  If he saw brown M&Ms he knew they hadn`t read it carefully and they`d better find out what other important stuff they`d missed, too.

So, what can this teach us about the new White House?  Well, UK Prime Minister Theresa May went to the White House today, President Trump`s first visit for from a foreign leader.  As is customary, the administration released an official schedule ahead of her arrival.

There was one small problem with the document, Prime Minister May`s first name was spelled wrong, leaving out the "h."  No big deal except that Theresa May without the "h" is famous in the UK.  She`s a former adult film star and model who was certainly/probably not visiting Donald Trump at the White House this week.

And this is Theresa May with an "h", prime minister of the United Kingdom.  It`s just a typo.  I`ve made them myself, of course, you could say, but like the brown M&Ms it`s also a signal, somebody isn`t paying enough attention.  And the White House is dealing with issues much, much more important than the lighting at a rock concert.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Could you hear the voices from the Women`s March here in Washington?  We know there were more than a million people who turned out and you are their president now, too.

TRUMP:  That`s true.

UNIDENTIIFED MALE:  Could you hear them from the White House?

TRUMP:  No, I couldn`t hear them but the crowds were large but you`re going to have a large crowd on Friday, too, which is mostly pro-life people.


HAYES:  When asked about last week`s Women`s March on Washington, President Trump was quick to point out that, quote, "a lot of people"would be attending today`s annual March for Life, which is widely considered the biggest anti-abortion event of the year.

And while tens of thousands of people showed up to march, there was one attendee who made history becoming the highest ranking official to ever address the rally in person in its 44 year history.

We`ll tell you who that is next.


HAYES:  For the first time the history of the March for Life, a sitting vice president addressed the crowd.  And while the thousands of abortion protesters gathered in the mall agreed with Mike Pence`s position, the majority of the country at this point does not appear to.

According to recent polling, nearly 60 percent of the country says abortion should be legal in all or most cases, 70 percent of Americans polled support Roe V. Wade, the very law today`s marchers were protesting.

And now, the sitting vice president is an ardent abortion foe, a man who when he was in congress began the push to defund Planned Parenthood and who, as governor of Indiana, signed every anti-abortion bill that crossed his desk, including one that was so restrictive a federal judge blocked it.  A man who today who promised the new administration will appoint an anti- abortion Supreme Court Justice.  An anti-abortion march that has for decades largely been symbolic may finally be on the precipice of its ultimate victory.

Joining me now, Charlie Sykes, MSNBC contributor, editor of Write Wisconsin; Jess McIntosh, Democratic strategic.

Charlie, I`ll begin with you.  I mean, one of the things that`s so bizarre about this is that I don`t think anyone believes that Donald Trump believes that Roe V. Wade should be overturned or opposes abortion.  Do you?

CHARLIE SYKES, WRITE WISCONSIN:  No.  And by the way, I was very, very skeptical of his position.  I have got to lay it out right here that I`m a pro-life Catholic, so I`m pleasantly surprised by some of this.  However, I did not think during the campaign that he was going to take this aggressive pro-life position., but he certainly has.

Having said that, this is going to be a very problematic alliance for the pro-life movement.  I am not sure that they really expect or ought to expect that Roe V. Wade is going to be overturned any time soon.  So they`re going to have to take their victories, but I don`t think that that is really within reach.

HAYES:  That`s an interesting question, because I think Jess probably disagrees with that.

JESS MCINTOSH, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, I mean, their agenda has been to overturn Roe V. Wade and ban abortion for as long as they have been -- for the last 40 years.

HAYES:  Yeah, since Roe V. Wade basically.

MCINTOSH:  Since Roe V. Wade since 1973.

So now they find themselves in control with with the ability to do that, a president who -- I  mean, he`s been on the wrong side of both -- he`s been on both wrong sides of this issue for the Republican base.  He went too far saying that women ought to be punished if they were going to have abortions.  And, of course, he said that he was pro choice long ago.

HAYES:  Yeah, let me just -- can I just play that for a second just so people can ground it in the the fact that like -- it`s remarkable, because this is such an important issue.  It`s so central.  It`s so fought over for deeply passionate reasons.  And the president of the United States, this is him in 1999.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would President Trump ban partial-birth abortion?

TRUMP:  Well, look, I`m very pro-choice.  I hate the concept of abortion.  I hate it.  I hate everything it stands for.  I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject.

But you still -- I just believe in choice.  And, again, it may be a little bit of a New York background because there is some different attitude in different parts of the country and I was raised in New York and grew up and work and everything else in New York City.  But I am strongly for choice and yet I hate the concept of abortion.


HAYES:  He`s going to appoint a Supreme Court Justice who almost certainly will be opposed to Roe V. Wade.

MCINTOSH:  The man made very few concrete promises during his campaign, that was one of them.

I expect -- I think that we ought to be taking him at his word wherever he says a thing.  So, I take him at his word on this.

This is going to be really interesting, because the Republican Party has been using this issue to rile its base up without worrying about what it does to moderates and to non-Republicans, non-base voters.  Seven in 10 Americans do not want Roe V. Wade overturned.  They believe that abortion  should be legal and up to a woman and her doctor.

When they take that away, those numbers are going to mean something.

HAYES:  I had a -- Charlie, I had a prominent -- back when I was reporting in D.C. during the final years of the Bush years, I had a prominent Republican strategist say if you got Karl Rove in a room and gave him truth serum and said do you want a Republican president to appoint a justice who overturns Roe V. Wade he would tell you no, I do not want that because of precisely Jess`s point about  what the political ramifications could be.

SYKES:  Oh, absolutely.  I completely agree with that, which is why I think there are a lot of people in the pro-life movement who understand that the future ought to be changing people`s hearts and minds.  Let`s -- let us not take away people`s rights because that, of course, would be about the most divisive thing you can possibly can.

By the way, I would also hope that you realize a lot of these people who are out there might  be campaigning for the right to life, but they`re not necessarily going to be all in on this Trump agenda.  They`re going to be a lot of contradictions.  And I think it is worth focusing on the full continuum of life.

So, you know, how many of the people there who are campaigning for the right to life are going to be all in, for example, on the ban of refugees or on various things that might make health care less pro parent, pro family?  Those are contradictions that are worth talking about and dealing with.

HAYES:  I should note this.  The March for Life, my grandparents would go every year.  My grandparents, who you would not think of -- conservative Catholics, you would not think of them as protesters in any way.  They would go every year.  It was -- their church group would go.  It is a ritual and tradition for a lot -- particularly for a Catholic churches that have views that don`t support Donald Trump in a lot of areas.

But to me it`s also a question of there`s also, Jess, a suspicion on the part of Republicans that they will be screwed when it comes to Supreme Court Justices.  And because Donald Trump doesn`t have any trust to bank on, it makes me think he needs to choose someone whose bona fides are totally unquestionable that will be the most obvious anti-Roe vote imaginable.

MCINTOSH:  I think he will go too far.  I think that he will pick the most obvious anti-Roe vote.  He doesn`t understand the anti-choice movement.  He doesn`t have those principles.  So he gets it wrong. 

A lot of the women marching at the March for Life, like Charlie was saying, I agree completely  believe in life across the board.  They are pro- immigrant.  They are not going to like the fact that if we have a global gag rule, women who have been raped as a tool of war, will die because they are going to self-induce an abortion.

That`s not what the anti-choice movement in America is about.  They are going to view that with a lot more sympathy than I think Donald Trump would assume that they would or than somebody that that he would put on the Supreme Court because he thinks they want.

HAYES:  Thursday is going to be the day that it`s announced.  And I`m predicting the fear, Charlie, the fear of being suitored again means it`s going to be someone who is rock solid.  Charlie Sykes and Jess McIntosh, thanks.