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All in with Chris Hayes, transcript 2/7/2017

Guests: Farhana Khera, Jeff Merkley, David Jolly, Cornell Belcher, Jamal Simmons, Dan Kildee

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: February 7, 2017 Guest: Farhana Khera, Jeff Merkley, David Jolly, Cornell Belcher, Jamal Simmons, Dan Kildee CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HARDBALL HOST:  I want to thank Michael Steele, Susan Page and Eugene Robinson.  That`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes right now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  You know, this is a very dangerous period of time.

REID:  The fear factor.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  What we need to do is to remind people that the earth is a very dangerous place these days.

REID:  Tonight, President Trump`s latest effort to save his immigration ban.  And the latest dark, dangerous sales pitch coming from the White House.

TRUMP:  A lot of bad people are thinking about, hey, let`s go in right now.

REID:  Then,

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  For the sake of our children let`s do our job.

REID:  After a knock down drag out fight, republicans break the democratic blockade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The Vice President votes in the affirmative.

REID:  Tonight, what Betsy DeVos will mean for public education in America and where the energy from the massive movement to stop her goes next.

CROWD:  Get them out!  Get them out!  Get them out!

REID:  ALL IN start now.

Good evening from New York, I`m Joy Reid in for Chris Hayes.  At this hour, the fate of President Donald Trump`s signature executive order born out of his campaign promise to ban Muslim immigrants hangs in the balance.  Just an hour ago an unusual conference call hearing concluded before a three- judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on whether a district judge`s temporary restraining order of Trump`s travel ban will remain in effect, as this case works its way through the legal system.  The decision could be handed down at any moment and if the temporary restraining order is lifted, that would allow the Trump administration to reinstate its travel ban immediately.  Lawyers representing the State of Washington, who are victorious last Friday before a lower court argued through its solicitor - its solicitor general that there could be an irreparable harm if the Trump administration`s travel ban went back into effect.

NOAH PURCELL, STATE OF WASHINGTON SOLICITOR GENERAL:  We had students and faculty in our state universities who are stranded overseas, we had families that were separated, we had - we had long time residents who could not travel overseas to visit their family without knowing that they would be - they would come back.  We have lost tax revenue.

REID:  The justice department`s special counsel arguing on behalf of the Trump administration was asked repeatedly if the administration had shown any evidence of federal offenses in the United States committed by people from the seven affected countries.  The justice department still had not presented any hard evidence but the special counsel tried to offer this.


AUGUST FLENTJE, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPECIAL COUNSEL:  Well, I was just about to at least mention a few examples.  There have been a number of people from Somalia connected to Al-Shabaab who have been convicted in the United States.

MICHELLE FRIEDLAND, UNITED STATES CIRCUIT JUDGE:  Is that in the record?  Can you point us to where in the record you`re referring?

FLENTJE:  It is not in the record.


REID:  And joining me now is Ari Melber, MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent.  All right, Ari, it`s difficult as a layperson to listen to these kinds of hearings as we did, and get a sense of whether one side or the other got the better of the argument.  Yourself as a lawyer when you listen to it, did it seem that one side had an argument that seems to draw more of those judges affirmation?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  On the lawyering, meaning how good a job they did, the DOJ had a harder time.  There were times when they couldn`t answer the question, there were times as you just showed where they made assertions that weren`t in the record, that means the evidence wasn`t put before the court.  This is an appeals hearing, which means if it`s not in the lower record, generally, it`s not going to be used to make the decision, at least technically speaking.  So they had a harder time.  They still have a lot of President and law on their sides because as we emphasized in our reporting, there`s just a huge amount of Presidential power in the immigration context.  I thought the Washington Attorney General side represented by the solicitor general, they made a lot of strong points, and in the beginning it was a big discussion and debate over standing, can you even bring this case. 

REID:  Right.

MELBER:  And what Washington State is saying backed up by, you know, 97 plus companies is, sure, this harms our economy, and harms the people who work here, it harms the people who live here, it harms people who have families here. 

REID:  Right.

MELBER:  Even the judge in Boston who ruled for the Trump administration recognized that and basically saying, we are a nation with a rich immigrant history we are interconnected and the pain that comes in breaking up or separating families is severe. 

REID:  Yes.

MELBER:  In other words, even judges who are skeptical of this have found that to be a strong case.

REID:  And does the government - does the Trump administration have to prove that this was not, per se, a Muslim ban?  Because that did seem to come up.  There were even questions about whether there had been evidence submitted, previous articles or previous quotations from the President from Rudy Giuliani, his adviser and friend, saying it was a Muslim ban.  Do they have to prove it`s not per se a Muslim ban to prevail?

MELBER:  It`s a great question.  So this came up in two ways in the hearing.  First it came up over whether this is even reviewable, that is just legal jargon for do you get into court or not?  There are certain things, by the way, that the President does, drone attacks being an example, where the courts don`t really consider that reviewable in the normal course.  You could imagine a bad faith use of drones that might make it to court but generally no.  And so, part of what DOJ was arguing is this isn`t reviewable, you don`t even get to the look at this.

REID:  Right.

MELBER:  And the judges were somewhat incredulous in their own judgy way of saying, well, what would we get to look at?  What if this were a Muslim ban?  This (INAUDIBLE) would we get in to be able to review that?

REID:  Yes.

MELBER:  And they got a concession from Trump`s DOJ that basically said if that were the case, yes, but we continue to maintain it`s not.  So that`s just on getting in the door.  Now once you`re in court, the second way it came up was, of course, Rudy.  OK.  Rudy might be the card carrying member of the ACLU that we never knew about because he has helped the challenge, the ACLU.  You challenge this challenge, his comments were brought up Friday in the Seattle courtroom and brought up again tonight basically as evidence, public evidence, that there is an effort to discriminate against Muslims, the challengers say, and that Donald Trump`s senior advisers basically took that goal and then found a way to sort of whitewash it for lack of a better term through some legal jargon, some lifts on the books and that`s what is going on.  So I don`t know whether there are conversations between Rudy Giuliani and President Trump and the DOJ but it`s such a key part of this, because the question here is, is this a lawful use of the authority you have, or are you taking an authority you might otherwise have?  Yes, you can suspend immigration all sorts of ways, but you`ve done it the wrong way.

REID:  Yes.  Me thinks the former Mayor might have said too much because he`s becoming an issue in this case.  Ari Melber, you are going to be sitting in for Lawrence O`Donnell in "THE LAST WORD" tonight.  And I understand that you have the Washington Attorney General, Bob Ferguson on tonight.

MELBER:  That`s right.  It will be his first interview since tonight`s hearing.  So, I`m looking forward to having him on.

REID:  Excellent, all right, we will all be turning in - we will all be tuning into that.  Thank you very much Ari, appreciate it.

All right.  And joining me now, our Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim advocates and former Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Thank you very much for being here.  So let`s talk a little bit about, Farhana, about whether or not the Trump administration in your view in this hearing managed to convince -- in your view, managed to make a convincing case that this was just part of Presidential discretion and that it was not per se a Muslim ban because it didn`t apply to every Muslim in every country around the world.

FARHANA KHERA, MUSLIM ADVOCATES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:  Yes.  Well, good evening, Joy, and thanks for having me.  Let me first say that today was a good day for democracy regardless of the outcome of this case and I know the judges said they wouldn`t be ruling today but they will be ruling very soon.  And the reason I say that is because I think during the hearing, it became very clear that the judges were probably not going to buy the government`s argument that the court should defer to the President when it comes to matters of immigration in this context.  It seems like they were quite dismissive of that.  And I think that`s crucially important because of what`s at stake here for people`s lives and because, unfortunately, we have a President who seems to think that he can run the United States like he has his own personal business, and not be accountable to anyone.

REID:  One of the arguments that was interesting, one of the questions that was posed by the conservative judge, by one of the - I think he was a George W. Bush appointee was whether or not the fact that the government can make specific policy about, let`s say, Cuba or North Korea, and make country-specific policy, does that not permit the Trump administration to make country-specific policy and just pick these seven countries?

KHERA:  So I think this kind of - your question, Joy, gets to the question of when courts are reviewing a President`s decision, what should be the standard for that review and I think there are two crucial things here.  One is a President`s decision should be rooted in the facts, it should have a rational basis.  And number two, it cannot be discriminatory.  And I think in both regards, the judges certainly displayed a lot of cynicism, and I think even just broadly from the pleadings that were submitted, there`s a lot of concern about whether this truly was a rationally-based policy.  Especially given the fact that it was issued just one week after the President was inaugurated and by, you know, published accounts, it`s clear that this policy was created basically by Steve Bannon and a small group of people immediately around the President, there was not a consultation process with key cabinet officials and agencies.  In fact, there`s a - there`s a report that Homeland Security Secretary Kelly was being asked for his input on the order as the President was signing the order.  The - yes go ahead.

REID:  No, I was going to say, does the fact that Donald Trump during the campaign said that he was calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country`s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on, the fact that he said that.  The fact that Rudy Giuliani did call it a Muslim ban and said that Trump called him up and asked how to make it legal, will that wind up being in your view a big factor in how this decision comes down?

KHERA:  I think that`s going to be a big factor, Joy.  And the reason is because context matters.  It`s clear that the judges are going beyond just reading the literal words on that executive order.  And they understand that there`s a context involved here.  And that includes the President calling repeatedly for a Muslim ban and for those people around him, especially Steve Bannon, you know, who had a heavy role in this policy and his long record of anti-Muslim animist.  So that is clear that that`s part of the court`s consideration.

REID:  All right.  Well, Farhana Khera, thank you so much for joining us.  Appreciate it.

KHERA:  Thanks for having me.

REID:  Thank you.  And joining me now, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon.  All right, Senator Merkley, I want to actually play for the audience some of the sound that we`re talking about.  Because we`re talking about what Trump has said in the past.  Let`s listen to Donald Trump during the campaign talking about what he wanted to do regarding a Muslim ban.


TRUMP:  Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country`s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.


REID:  On Capitol Hill while the political reports suggests there was some confusion as to when this executive order was coming down and what would be in it, is there any doubt among senators such as yourself that this was intended to be a Muslim ban?

JEFF MERKLEY, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM OREGON:  None at all.  Not at all.  Everything that President Trump said during the campaign was about a Muslim ban.  Everything that Steve Bannon pursued was a Muslim ban, Rudy Giuliani called it correctly.  And it`s not rooted in the facts of National Security.  The individuals from the seven countries have not conducted fatal attacks inside the United States while others from countries that were not included have been involved in terrorist attacks, fatal terrorist attacks inside the United States.  So, it`s not rooted in the facts and it has a discriminatory element.  It flows right out of the campaign.  It`s a pretty clear picture.

REID:  I want to play you a little bit of the Homeland Security Secretary, John Kelly, today testifying before congress about what in his view he should have done differently regarding this executive order.  Take a listen.


JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY:  In retrospect I should have - this is all on me, by the way - I should have delayed it just a bit so that I could talk to members of congress, particularly the leadership of committees like this to prepare them for what was coming.


REID:  Senator, do you buy that, that the fault lies with Homeland Security Secretary Kelly?

MERKLEY:  Well, no, he came into this picture quite a long ways into it after the political team had crafted it.  I did think that it was appropriate for him to say, yes, I should have consulted.  He also should have consulted lawyers, National Security specialists and pursued this from a policy foundation about National Security, not a campaign strategy of conducting a Muslim ban.

REID:  I want to just for a moment - the producer is letting me know that Donald Trump is once again live tweeting his thoughts and he apparently has sent out this tweet regarding your body of government, first branch of government.  He says, "It is a disgrace that my full cabinet is still not in place, the longest such delay in the history of our country.  Obstruction by democrats."  Any response to that?  We do know there was a 50-50 vote just - to just barely get Betsy DeVos in, what do you make that?

MERKLEY:  Absolutely.  Hamilton`s charge for the role of the senate in terms of advice and content was to determine if a nominee from the President was of fit character.  Well, many of these candidates are not of fit character, they`re not submitting their forms on time, they have complex lives, they`ve gone over the bounds in a number of ways, they don`t have the experience appropriate to the office, or they want to tear down the institution that they`re being nominated to run.  And so, I messaged back to the President a point capable individuals who understand the mission of the departments and you`ll get a much easier process in the confirmation of the nominees.

REID:  Yes.  Are democrats going to stay united?  And that includes your red state colleagues, people like Jon Tester, Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin?

MERKLEY:  Well, every senator or is a force unto him or herself and so - but I think in large - speaking largely, not about any one specific individual, there`s a profound understanding that there`s a lot of problems with these nominees, it`s different with each specific case that comes before us.  But look at Scott Pruitt who will be coming before the senate just shortly or Tom Price, Scott Pruitt who wants to tear down the EPA and who`s voted against environmental controls that save children lives.  Tom Price, you know the story, it`s been reviewed on the program so much, but these are deeply flawed individuals.

REID:  And very quickly, are you going to filibuster the Supreme Court nominee, Mr. Gorsuch?

MERKLEY:  60 vote standard.  It`s what Obama`s team met with his nominees, and it`s absolutely what the nominees should meet coming from President Trump.

REID:  And you`re not worried about a nuclear option on the part of your colleagues across the Isle?

MERKLEY:  Well, there`s already been a nuclear option, and that`s when the republican majority decided to steal the Supreme Court seat from President Obama and deliver it to President Trump.  Unprecedented in our history, deeply jeopardizes the integrity of the Supreme Court.  Sets a precedent that will cause problems for decades to come.  So I`m concerned about the entire process, and I hope my senators across the aisle decide they`re going to defend and fight for our key institutions in America instead of tearing them down.

REID:  All right.  Well, Senator Jeff Merkley, thank you very much for your time, sir, appreciate it.

MERKLEY:  You`re welcome.

REID:  Thank you.  And still ahead, the White House message to America amounts to "be afraid, be very afraid."  We`ll discuss the campaign of fear after this two-minute break.



TRUMP:  The crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.  This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.


REID:  President Donald Trump`s campaign - Donald Trump I should say presidential campaign, now his Presidency, have been built largely around one overarching theme.  "The world is terrifying, you should be afraid and only I can save you."  It`s not morning in America, it`s midnight and there`s not a light to be seen.

Yesterday the President suggested, absurdly, by the way, that the media ignores terrorist attacks to further an agenda.  And then the White House released a list of supposedly under-covered attack to back him up.  Only many of the incidents that were on the list, which included, for example, the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, were, in fact, widely covered.

It should also be noted that the White House list did not include attacks on U.S. soil perpetrated by non-Muslims and people not aligned with ISIS.  Despite the fact that a 2015 study found that since the 9/11 attacks, white right-wing terrorists have killed almost twice as many Americans in homegrown attacks than radical Islamists have.  Asked about their list of allegedly un-undercovered terrorist attacks, today the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the Trump administration needs to remind Americans to be frightened.


SPICER:  I think what we need to do is to remind people that the earth is a very dangerous place these days.  That ISIS is trying to do us harm.  And that the President`s commitment is to keep this country safe.  And I think part of this is to make sure that the American people are reminded how prevalent some of these attacks are and how much time and attention they have or have not gotten.


REID:  At a listening session with sheriffs today, Trump himself echoed that idea and argued that the legal fight over his travel ban is putting Americans at risk of an attack.


TRUMP:  You know, this is a very dangerous period of time because while everybody`s talking and dealing, a lot of bad people are thinking about, "hey, let`s go in right now."

REID:  And joining me now, MSNBC contributor Sam Seder, host of The Majority Report, and David Jolly, former republican congressman from Florida.  Thanks to both of you, gentleman.  Well Sam, I have to tell you.  The earth is a very dangerous place, first of all.  And second of all, this sounds and feels a bit familiar.  This idea of the federal government, of the administration scaring bejesus out of everyone and saying you should be terrified all the time.  There are dark forces lurking.  I want to play one that Dick Cheney on September 7th, 2004, talking about the stakes in the 2004 election.  Take a listen.


DICK CHENEY, FORMER UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT:  It`s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today on November 2nd, we make the right choice.  Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we`ll get hit again, that we`ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States.


REID:  Now, keeping in mind that that was the administration that presided over the time we were hit in 9/11.  That was set in the context of trying to get people to vote in a campaign.  Can you imagine, and sort of use your imagination to figure out what is the purpose of the scare mongering by the Trump administration?

SAM SEDER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  I mean, I think the idea is that they want to -- I hope maybe get Donald Trump`s numbers up to at least to the 46 percent that he got during the election.  I mean, I - look, to see Sean Spicer up there saying that we`ve got to remind the American public to be scared of the world, I think is, it`s bizarre.  I mean, on some level - look, Donald Trump was always delivering the subtext.  His subtext - his text was the subtext of the republican races.

To continue to do that now and in such a ham fisted way I think is - I think - I don`t think it`s going to be terribly effective, frankly.  And I think - listen, there are definitely problems in this country, but rising crime is not one of them.  Carnage is not one of them.  It is for - there are people who are living in areas where they are dealing with a lot of difficulties, but broadly speaking I don`t think that`s the experience of the American public.  So I think it rings hollow.

REID:  Well, I mean, David Jolly, you know that - we know that Richard Nixon used the specter of crime in the streets and riots.


REID:  In the context, though, of actual, you know, violence and also anti- war demonstrations happening, we saw the Bush-Cheney administration used the specter of violence in the wake of 9/11.  Donald Trump when he`s talking about American carnage doesn`t have the stats to back it up.  I want to - I want to listen - have you listen to him talking about the murder rate --

JOLLY:  Sure.

REID: -- for just a moment.  Take a listen.


TRUMP:  The murder rate in our country is the highest it`s been in 47 years, right?  Did you know that?  47 years.  I used to use that - I`d say that in a speech and everybody was surprised.


REID:  Well David Jolly, they might have been surprised because it`s actually isn`t true.  The high point of the murder rate was 10.2 per 100,000 people in 1980.  It went -- it went down to 4.4 in 2014 and 4.9 in 2015.  It`s actually at something like an all-time low.  So without real world events --

JOLLY:  Sure.

REID: -- and real things to scare people, just as a politician, how long can this work?

JOLLY:  Well, look, Joy, the purveyor of fake news sits in the oval office and we know that.  He`s doing two things.  He is trying to promote a narrative that is false about the insecurity - preying on the insecurity of Americans.  You know, after San Bernardino, congress received a classified brief.  And one of the unclassified facts was that of the last 75 to 80,000 refugees who came to the United States, only about 12 were later determined to be a security threat.  That`s a lower crime rate than anywhere else in the United States.

But it`s not only trying to create a false narrative, it`s also delegitimizing the press.  Understanding past Presidents, politicians, they engage in policy fights.  Trump`s doing something we`ve never seen in U.S. history.  He is demanding loyalty by delegitimizing the fake news, so- called "judges", saying "I alone can fix this."  Yesterday at Centcom saying, "If you didn`t endorse me, I`m not going to listen to you."  He is delegitimizing the institutions we believe in, to create a loyalty to the President of the United States.  We have never seen this political leadership style succeed anywhere else except in very dark histories of world history.

REID:  I mean - and the thing is, Sam, that - you know, I think that a lot of people who study authoritarian regimes would say that`s true, it`s creating a personal loyalty.  But how long can that stand up against like actual facts?  The great producers here at ALL IN pulled some pretty interesting statistics, your odds of being killed, right.  A motor vehicle accident, 1 in 113.  A lightning strike, 1 in 174,000.  You get down to a terrorist attack perpetrated by a refugee, it`s 1 in 46 million.  At a certain point, do these facts begin to penetrate and break that loyalty that Trump is trying to build?

SEDER:  Well, you know, when you talk about authoritarians, and the research shows that somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of north Americans are considered right wing authoritarians.  And these are - these are just - these are -- these are citizens.  These are fellow citizens.  When you`re talking on that level, there is no convincing them.  The facts are wholly irrelevant.  So when Donald Trump says the highest crime rate in 47 years, that`s heard by a significant portion of the population and they will believe it.

REID:  Yes.

SEDER:  Short, there`s no real way of convincing them.  I mean, the experts on authoritarians say there really is no way to convert these people.  You simply have to make sure they don`t get power.  And we sort of failed that first test.

REID:  Yes, clearly.  And David Jolly, very quickly.

JOLLY:  Sure.

REID:  Donald Trump made a comment today when he was speaking with some sheriffs.  One of the sheriffs mentioned that there was a state senator that was giving them some problems, and he said "Who`s the state senator?  Want to give his name?  We`ll destroy his career."  Now even if he laughed afterwards, what do you make of that kind of a statement coming from the President of the United States?

JOLLY:  Listen, that is how he is presiding right now, which is if you oppose him he`s going to destroy you and unfortunately he has the ability to do so.  Listen, the security test is real and we need to make sure that we respond to the Americans` concerns about Orlando, San Bernardino, Paris and so forth.  We can do that with a security test without a religious test and that is where the President is pushing the narrative that is false and emboldening the dark angels among the American people when he should be leading us to a better place.

REID:  Indeed.  Not what a President normally does in the United States.  Sam Seder and David Jolly, thanks to you both.  Appreciate it.

All right.  While we`re talking about Trump and crime in America, don`t forget that Chris Hayes will be in Chicago this Thursday for a special town hall on violence in our cities and the new President`s threats to quote "send in the feds."  That`s right here at 8:00 Eastern on Thursday night.  You don`t want to miss it.



BILL HEMMER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR:  Betsy DeVos, will she be confirmed today to be the next Education Secretary or not, Kellyanne?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP`S COUNSELOR:  We expect that she will, Bill, and maybe history will be made.  You`ll have a sitting Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote.  If there`s a 50-50 split, then he as the Vice President has the vote in the senate and she can be confirmed in short order and sworn in in short order.


REID:  This morning, Kellyanne Conway was touting the historic nature of Vice President Mike Pence`s tie-breaking vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.  But it`s only historic because no other cabinet member in history has ever needed the Vice President`s vote to win confirmation until today.  When it did come down to a 50-50 split in the senate with just two republicans voting no and the Vice President casting that tie-breaking vote to confirm DeVos.  So, yes, history was made, but not the kind you`d want to go around bragging about.  Now, the question is what will the confirmation of Betsy DeVos mean for public education, and is the fight really over?  That`s next, don`t go away.


REID:  Betsy DeVos was confirmed as education secretary today - barely.  The final tally was 51-50 with all of the Democratic senators voting against her, two Republicans crossing the aisle to join them and the tie- breaking ballot cast by Vice President Mike Pence.

DeVos has zero experience in public education.  She`s a billionaire Republican fund-raiser and donor, including to some of the senators who donated for her, and a lobbyist best known as a driving force behind the, quote, "school choice movement" and the spread of charter schools in her home state of Michigan.

DeVos will bring that ideology to the federal government when she takes the helm at the Department of Education privatizing schools, increasing voucher programs and spreading charter schools are a few of the ideas that we know DeVos supports.

She`s also said she wants to, quote "advance god`s kingdom" through school reform.

At her confirmation hearing last month, DeVos gave vague answers that left critics concerned about her lack of knowledge on several subjects, including the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act and the debate over measuring proficiency or growth among students.

She also made the following case for allowing guns in schools.


BETSY DEVOS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION:  I will refer back to Senator Enzi and the school that he was talking about in Wyoming.  I think probably there I would imagine that there`s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.


REID:  With concerned protesters rallying nationwide and 1.5 million calls a day flooding into senate offices, senate Democrats spent 24 hours before today`s vote holding the floor, protesting DeVos.

But tonight she was sworn in as Donald Trump`s pick for education secretary.

So what are the practical realities of what she can do to America`s schools?

Joining me now, Democratic Representative Dan Kildee of Michigan, Betsy DeVos`s home state.

And Congressman Kildee, let`s start with that - thank you for joining me, first of all.


REID:  Thank you.

So, let`s talk about Betsy DeVos in Michigan.  Did you as a Michiganer get a sense of what she meant by advancing god`s kingdom through the schools?

KILDEE:  Well, I mean, I`m not quite sure what her motivation is, I just know that the results have been disastrous.  So if she thinks somehow she`s going to be able to bring her faith to the public square, she should consult the document that she just swore an oath to, the U.S. constitution.

But really the issue is the terrible failed experiment that she is the chief architect of, and that`s Michigan`s charter movement.

REID:  And what specifically has gone wrong with it?  Because a lot of people think of charter schools and they think of "Waiting for Superman."  They think of good schools poor kids can go to.  What`s wrong with what she did in Michigan?

KILDEE:  Well, one of the things I discovered when I got here to Washington is that there are charter schools that really work, and mostly in other states and that`s Michigan`s charter system, which, again, she has continued to push to maintain in its current form, has been an unmitigated disaster.

For example, 38 percent of Michigan`s charters are in the bottom performing schools, so they`re supposed to be the answer.  They`re supposed to be that superman that we talk about and that we saw in that incredible documentary, but they have been a big failure.

So not only have charters failed, but the impact that the charter movement, these unregulated charters that have no transparency, the impact that they have had on the traditionalpublic schools, taking funding from those schools, has also caused problems.  Michigan went from being one of the top states in the nation in terms of educational performance to near the bottom just during this short period of time that Betsy DeVos`s experiment on Michigan school children has been in place.

We spend a billion dollars on charters in Michigan and they`re among the worst-performing  schools.  She wants to take this idea across the country?  It`s bizarre.

REID:  And just give folks an idea of what the secretary of education potentially touches.  Like what kinds of things could she mettle with in this job?

KILDEE:  Well, I mean, certainly support for compensatory education, reading programs, school nutrition, which they have a piece of, special education.

Interestingly enough, the idea that Betsy DeVos did not know anything about special education when she was asked in her Senate confirmation hearing, it`s obvious to those of us from Michigan why she doesn`t understand it, because under herconcept of charters, they don`t have to provide special  education.  They leave that to the traditional public school.  And so these charters not only do they underperform, but they don`t have to deal with kids who have learning difficulties.  They send them back to the traditional public school.

So what the federal government typically does is to try to sort of equalize the playing field -- supply extra support for communities that have high percentages of poverty for reading programs, special education, those are the sorts of initiatives that the federal government has traditionally been involved in.

She not only is demonstrating a lack of knowledge of those, but she doesn`t seem to understand the role of the federal government in public education except to promote more charters.

REID:  And privatization.  Well, this should be a very interesting experiment.  We`ll be watching.  Somebody who know who knows Betsy DeVos and her policies well.  Congressman Dan Kildee, thank you very much for joining me.

KILDEE:  Thank you very much.

REID:  All right.  And still ahead, while some officials have taken to avoiding their constituents, how some voters could voice their opinions at the ballot box, and sooner than you think.  Coming up.

Plus, some first lady business to attend to in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two which starts after this break.


REID:  Thing One tonight, Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz was summoned to the White House admitting this morning that he had no idea what the president wanted to see him about.

Following the meeting, Chaffetz was adamant that he and Donald Trump did not discuss anything related to Chaffetz`s role as chair of the House Oversight Committee.


REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, (R) UTAH:  Before my bum even hit the chair, the president said no oversight.  You can`t talk about anything that has to do with oversight.

And I said, fair enough.  I actually - what I really wanted to talk him about is a reform agenda.


REID:  Well, we can only rely on his word, though, because the White House didn`t release a tick tock or any recordings of the meeting.  But there would have been a lot to talk about with regards to oversight.  Since today, we learned that Donald Trump has officially taken over, Donald Trump Jr. has officially taken over Trump`s D.C. Hotel at the old post office, which is being leased by the government.

But President Donald Trump Sr. is still a majority owner of the company.

Democrats argue that that puts Trump in violation of his lease, since conflict of interest laws bar elected federal officials from leasing federal land.

One of the most outspoken lawmakers on this issue is Congressman Elijah Cummings, the ranking member on the oversight committee.  But whether the committee launches an investigation into the D.C. hotel is up in the air since the aforementioned Jason Chaffetz is the chair.

Last week, Chaffetz requested an unredacted copy of the hotel`s leasing contract, a potentially hopeful sign, however we don`t know if he`ll follow through with a good- faith investigation.

But we do know the D.C. hotel is not the only major conflict of interest for the current president and what if I were to tell you one member of the first family put in writing their intention to cash in on the presidency.  That is Thing Two in 60 seconds.


REID:  Today, a settlement was reached between First Lady Melania Trump and a Maryland blogger in a defamation suit over an article the blogger published last summer.

The first lady`s also suing the British tabloid The Daily Mail for defamation over a similar article they published.  And according to the lawsuit filed yesterday, her lawyers made this remarkable statement about damages to America`s first lady.

"As a result of defendant`s publication of defamatory statements about plaintiff Melania Trump, her brand has lost significant value and major business opportunities that were otherwise available to her have been lost and/or substantially impacted.  Plaintiff," the first lady, "had the unique once in a lifetime opportunity as an extremely famous and well-known person as well as a former professional model and brand spokesperson and successful businesswoman to launch a broad-based commercial  brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which plaintiff," the first lady, "is one of the most photographed women in the world.  These product categories would have included among other things apparel, accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance."

Late tonight Melania Trump`s lawyer released a statement saying the first lady has no intention of using her position for profit and will not do so.  It is not a possibility.  Any statements to the contrary are being misinterpreted.

So despite suing over potential lost profits during this once in a lifetime opportunity as one of the most photographed women in the world and any suggestion that the first lady would, for instance, launch a broad-based commercial brand in clothing, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, skin care, fragrance, et cetera, well, that would just be a misinterpretation.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you sense instead of being an organic disruption, do you sense there`s an organized pushback and people are being paid to protest?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  Oh, absolutely.  I mean, protesting has become a profession now.

They have every right to do that, don`t get me wrong, but I think we need to call it what it is.  It`s not these organic uprisings we`ve seen through the last several decades.  The Tea Party was a very organic movement.  This has become a very paid astro-turf type movement.


REID:  The White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer seems to want to dismiss opposition to Republican policies, particularly a desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act as some kind of top-down concoction of lobbyists and think tanks, but the mobilization tactics that we`ve seen over the last couple weeks come straight from the playbook of the conservative activists who brought us the Tea Party.  And you know what?  They`re working.  So much so, in fact, that Republicans seem to be overwhelmed by what`s happening at town halls across the country.

Hundreds of people showed up to an event last weekend held by Republican congressman Tom McClintock.  He wound up leaving with a police escort after he said he was advised by his staff that  the situation outside was, quote, "deteriorating."

Tennessee Congressman Jimmy Duncan Jr. told his constituents straight no chaser he was having no town hall meetings.  He had no intention of having any at all, saying in a letter it would turn into, quote, "shouting opportunities for extremists, kooks and radicals."

Now mind you those theoretical kooks and radicals are his constituents.

And when Virginia Republican Barbara Comstock invited people to a town hall last Saturday she never showed up, angering dozens of constituents who wanted clarity on the GOP`s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The first real test as to whether any of this opposition will have a lasting effect come at the polls and sooner than you think.  The first primaries are in June, this June, just four months away.

More on that next. 

Plus, breaking news of a skirmish on the Senate floor between Elizabeth Warren and Mitch McConnell.  Now this you`ve got to see.  Don`t go away.


REID:  Breaking news from the Senate floor tonight where Democrats are once again in the  middle of holding the floor in advance of the vote for attorney general.  Moments ago, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King written in opposition to Jeff Sessions` 1986 nomination to be a federal judge.  King suggested that making Sessions a judge would make have, quote, "a devastating affect on the progress we have made toward fulfilling my husband`s dream."

This letter that was entered into the record during this year`s confirmation hearing - was entered into the record during this year`s confirmation hearing, but Senate Republicans tonight objected to Warren`s reading of the letter on the floor.  And this is the scene that unfolded just moments ago.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY:  Mr. president -- Mr. president...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The majority leader.

MICCONNELL:  The senator is impugning the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama as warned by the chair.

Senator Warren, quote, said Senator Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.  I call the senator to order under the provisions of rule 19.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator from Massachusetts.

WARREN:  Mr. President, I am surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate.  I ask leave of the Senate to continue my remarks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is there objection?

MCCONNELL:  I object.

WARREN:  I appeal the ruling...

UNIDNETIFIED MALE:  Objection is heard.  The senator will take her seat.

WARREN:  Mr. President, I appeal the ruling of the chair and I suggest.

REID:  Wow, joining me now is Jamal Simmons, Democratic strategist, and Cornell Belcher, former pollster for Barack Obama`s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. 



REID:  That was extraordinary.

I`ll start with you, Cornell,   Your reaction to that?

BELCHER:  My reaction to that is the optics for that feeds into the narrative that Republicans are struggling with women voters and it also probably makes Senator Warren the front-runner for Democrat primary for president as of this moment.

REID:  You know, it`s extraordinary, Jamal, to hear, you have Elizabeth Warren, a woman of Massachusetts, with that northern accent, that sort of Braman (ph) accent trying to read Coretta Scott King`s words and then have Mitch McConnell, the southerner object and say that it isn`t fitting and then for her to say how can the words of Coretta Scott King be out of ordinary.  Extraordinary.  Your thoughts.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  It is extraordinary.  In fact, what we know is that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions who is from Alabama who we know people like Deval Patrick wrote a letter saying that he tried to deny voting rights for some black citizens in Alabama.  This is a letter from Coretta Scott King saying the same thing from 30 years ago, it`s like a letter from the grave. 

And then we know that he`s made jokes that were inappropriate about the Ku Klux Klan and her referred to staff members, black staff members, calling them boy.  I mean, when people think you`re a racist or you harbor racist intentions, and then you go out and vote to deny voting rights and other rights to people of different backgrounds, you would think that you would try to extend yourself to prove that you`re not a racist.  Instead, he seemed to continue to deny other people rights every time that came up before the United States Senate.

REID:  Yeah, I was wondering when the Jefferson Sessions moment would heat up the way the Betsy DeVos one has.

Very quickly, Cornell, the election where Democrats can start to claw back some state power, in particular, they start this year.  You have gubernatorial and lieutenant governor races in Virginia and New Jersey.  You have a superintendent of schools race in Wisconsin.

Are Democrats prepared to meet this test and start to win some state races starting this year?

BELCHER:  Well, not only state races, but also look at the mayoral races that are happening across the country.  And if I were to answer this I would probably say no, because, look, the Democratic Party -- and I was a pollster for the Governor Dean, we built the 50-state strategy, and one of the first things we did coming in is to build up infrastructure.

We started -- we laid out four big organizing programs that we took out into the states.  We started neighbor to neighbor programs.  We gave the states and the people on the local and grass-roots level the infrastructure and the ability to organize and to build.  And right now the Democratic Party doesn`t have that.

So whoever comes in as chair what they have to do is rebuild the party not out of Washington, but the state level so we can - so these people who want to run for city council, want to run for mayor, want to run for state legislative bodies they have the infrastructure and the ability to do so.  And right now that is wanting in the Democratic Party.

REID:  Yeah, absolutely.

But, you know, Jamal, there`s that side, right, that you have to have the state infrastructure.  You have got to be ready at the local level.

There`s also the idea of nationalizing a race around a set of themes.

Elizabeth Warren may have kick starting themes that could be very effective at mobilizing not just African-American voters, but anyone who objects to the civil rights office as being gutted at t he Justice Department.  This is what Elizabeth Warren has tweeted tonight.

She tweeted, "tonight senate majority leaders silenced Mrs. King`s voice on the Senate floor and million who was are afraid and appalled by what`s happening in our country.  I will not be silent while the Republicans rubber stamp an AG who will never stand up to the POTUS when he breaks the law.  I will not be silent about a nominee for an AG who has made derogatory and racist comments that have no place in our justice system."

Jamal, has Elizabeth Warren begun to write the template for how to nationalize the 2017 and 2018 elections?

SIMMONS;  She is writing that template.  And you know who else helped start to write that template was Sally Yates who was the acting attorney general who got fired by Donald Trump for not wanting to enforce his Muslim ban that he tried to come out with, the executive order.

So I`m particualr struck at this moment after the Hillary Clinton race at the women who are leading this, the people who are leading this are women, whether it`s Senator Warren, it`s Sally Yates, it`s the millions of women who are on the streets during the Women`s March.  There are - there`s an incredible amount of energy, and it is going to be up to the Democratic Party to figure out how to harness that energy, how to channel it into elections.  And that means that they have got to have really strong progressive voices who can do that.

REID:  Yeah, indeed.  And more breaking news here.  The Senate just voted that Elizabeth Warren did impugn a senator, which is a rule breaker.  She is not going to be able to speak any further.  Extraordinary night.

Jamal Simmons and Cornell Belcher, thank you both for your time tonight.

Thank you.  And that is all for All In this evening.