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All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 2/22/2017

Guests: Michael Moore, Julie Fernandes

Show: All in with Chris Hayes Date: February 22, 2017 Guest: Michael Moore, Julie Fernandes


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN" (voice-over): Tonight on "ALL IN" --

DEMONSTRATORS: Do you job! Do your job!

HAYES: Welcome to the winter of voter discontent.


HAYES: As the resistance grows to a fever pitch, the White House resorts to alternative facts.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Just because they`re loud, it doesn`t necessarily mean that there are many.

HAYES: In one of the first major acts of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department has just an hour ago rescinded anti-discrimination protections for transgender students, protections that had been advanced by the Obama administration. This comes after a little-noticed court filing by the Justice Department just one day after Sessions became attorney general in which the DOJ withdrew a challenge to the Texas judge who had temporarily blocked the Obama administration transgender guidelines nationwide.

Given Jeff Sessions` record, this is perhaps not surprising. What is interesting is that newly confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was opposed, apparently, to the administration withdrawing these protections from transgender students. At least according to The New York Times reporting, Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off on the order and told President Trump she was uncomfortable with it, according to three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions.

Mr. Sessions pressed her to relent because he could not go forward without her consent since the order must come from the Justice and Education Departments.

It`s important to remember that the rhetoric of candidate Trump was notably muted on the subject saying the issue of transrights, and particularly the legislation in North Carolina, should be left to the states. And he certainly never expressed it as anything close to a priority.

But President Trump sided with his attorney general, according to The Times, telling Ms. DeVos in a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday that he wanted her to drop her objections.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer today claimed that Betsy DeVos was on board with the new guidance coming from the Justice Department 100 percent.

Joining me now, Julie Fernandes, former deputy assistant attorney general in the civil rights division of the Justice Department, now a senior policy analyst to Open Society Foundations.

First, let`s talk about this -- the Justice Department rescinding this. This was -- the administration giving schools guidelines basically to what they said was obey the law, Title IX, which protects against discrimination for students. This - Title IX is still there. So they don`t - this is ultimately going to be decided by the courts, right?

JULIE FERNANDES, OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATION: Yes. There`s a case in Virginia now, as you know, Chris, where the issue is whether or not a student who is -- presents as male, a male student, who was born not a male, but now presents as a male should be allowed to use the male bathroom.

This whole issue is about children and about whether children are going to be protected against discrimination in schools. And Jeff Sessions was siding against children.

HAYES: What is striking to me is the amount of power the DOJ has, and it`s something that the people whowere opposing Jeff Sessions`s nomination were talking a lot about, obviously the people that were supporting him also recognized the power of it.

I mean, you work there in the civil rights division, how much latitude, how much power does an attorney general have in terms of what civil rights laws actually get enforced?

FERNANDES: It has a ton of power, Chris. And certainly in the Title IX context, which is where this issue is,and in Title VI, the DOJ has authority to advise all the agencies what about the law is, what their obligations are, what they`re required to do.

They -- on some statutes, the DOJ enforces, they`re the only people who can really do the enforcement. In the voting rights context, in the police misconduct context, in suing states to meet their obligations under Olmsted, the disability rights case we`re about community placement. DOJ has tons of discretion and tons of power that is sometimes exclusive to ensure the protection of civil rights laws.

HAYES: And this situation you have, it`s just striking to me, I mean, this is the first thing that this attorney general is doing, essentially. It`s the first big action by this Justice Department is to essentially rescind civil rights protections for children.

FERNANDES: It completely fits, though, I have to say, Chris. And it fits sessions and his world view because it`s interesting that Spicer and the executive order talking about the executive order was talking about this is a state`s rights matter, that this should be left to the states.

What we decided at the time of the civil war and then had to redecide again at the time of the civil rights movement in the `60s is that the federal government has a role to define what civil rights are and how we protect them. And this whole idea that this should be up to the states is just really anathema to the way we`ve understood what our country is about and how we protect civil rights.

HAYES: And in fact, the Department of Justice as the unique tool of the government, the place, the locus of power by which the federal government reaches down sometimes into the states to force compliance with federal civil rights law.

FERNANDES: Absolutely. It is our -- it is their core role to ensure that the states are complying with the 13th Amendment, the 14th Amendment. Look, the states were defined - when we had the constitutional amendments, states spent a lot of time defying compliance, and it was only when we had federal laws and federal enforcement that we really had uniform application about what this protection means. Without that, really, students, other groups, are left really vulnerable to not being able to be adequately protected against all of this discrimination.

It`s a new world. It`s a new world for us.

HAYES: Do you worry about, say, the Supreme Court, say, finding in favor of the plaintiff here in the upcoming case and then the DOJ essentially not enforcing it?

FERNANDES: Well, look, we have two big sets of concerns around DOJ. One is what they`re going to do, one is what they`re not going to do.

So, yes, I`m very concerned about their doing bad things with some of the power that they have, the enormous power, as you said, but also their not enforcing things, not requiring these states and municipalities, localities - and again, in a range of issues. This is the out of the box, letting us know where they`re coming from, but this is going to be applied in the voting context, in the policing context, disability rights, housing, lending discrimination, going after banks. It`s huge.

HAYES: Yeah, Julie Fernandes, thank you for your time. Appreciate your time.

FERNANDES: Thank you.

HAYES: Still ahead, the great Michael Moore is here to talk about the resistance. You don`t want to mis it.

Plus, why it doesn`t hurt to have a backup plan. That`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two after the break.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, a man who sued that agency 14 times, often in coordination with the energy industry, used his first day at the office to lay out his priorities.


SCOTT PRUITT, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE EPA: I really believe that we can be better as a country. I believe that we as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and pro-environment, that we don`t have to choose between the two.


HAYES: Scott Pruitt knows all about being pro-energy. Today, a judge released thousands of emails showing that Pruitt, while he was attorney general of Oklahoma, closely coordinated with major oil and gas producers, electric utilities and political groups to roll back environmental regulations. The collusion was first revealed in a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times report more than two years ago.

And now Scott Pruitt is in charge of enforcing the rules he tried so hard to weaken and in charge of regulating the same fossil fuel industries he so closely supported.

If you`re feeling a little pessimistic about the future of the planet, there is good news tonight, new planets. And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: A huge announcement from NASA today. Astronomers have found seven previously undiscovered rocky Earth-sized planets all orbiting an ultra cool dwarf star in the Aquarius constellations. That`s a hell of a setnence.

The star, called Trapist 1 (ph), is about the size of Jupiter, smaller and colder than our own sun. Three of its planets are firmly in the so-called Goldilocks zone, like Earth, orbiting a safe distance from the sun, neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist.

But astronomers say all seven planets are potentially habitable, which makes this the largest batch of possibly livable planets ever found in another solar system. Only one little tiny catch for any would-be human colonists, they`re far away, 39 light years, to be exact, 12 parsecs. And I know of no ship that can make that run.


HAYES: If there is one story in the Democratic Party and center left politics more broadly right now in this country it is this -- the unprecedented levels of opposition and mobilization against this president. Massive crowds have taken the streets since Donald Trump took office starting the day after he took the oath and not just in major metropolitans like New York and Washington, D.C. You`re seeing anxious constituents showing up at town halls across the country, pressing lawmakers on things like immigration policies, cabinet selections and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Recently, congressman Tom McClintock, Republican from California, told The Hill that he`s never seen anything like it. And if there`s one lesson from the first month of Trump`s presidency, it`s that all of this opposition and resistance is working, which brings us to Michael Moore who has launched a resistance calendar where people can get information and post news about events happening in their community and also published his own ten-point plan on how to stop Trump.

We`ll walk through some of those points with Michael Moore himself next.





HAYES: That was the scene from a town hall earlier tonight with Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton. The mood is indicative of what we`re seeing at town halls all across the country.

Joining me now, Michael Moore, activist, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, muckraker, troublemaker.

Let me ask you in the first question, I said it`s working. Is it working?

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: I`ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime. And of course I go back to the anti-Vietnam War days in my youth. This is an incredible, incredible turnout. You just said the word Arkansas. That footage that`s back up on the screen right now, Arkansas.

This is going on -- two days after the women`s march, 2,000 people in the state capital in Salt Lake City, in Utah, this is the most massive incredible really unorganized, because there was no time, there was only a few of us who thought what would happen would happen on election day so everybody else thought Hillary was going to win and this was going to -- everything was going to be okay. So everybody has had to come outside the bubble, organize, and get busy.

And whatever despair people felt on November 9th is gone, the despair is gone. The despair is gone. I mean, there`s a lot of justifiable fear.

HAYES: Yeah.

MOORE: But people are active and mobilized. There are so many things going on on the internet, so many -- and people, when I was on the stage of the women`s march, and I asked the crowd, how many of you are at your first demonstration, I`d say 80 percent raised their hand.


MOORE: This is a first time and I`m telling you folks, who are younger, this hasn`t happened since 1970. You`d have to go back that far. You have to back before before Kent State, before where you saw crowds like this. And even then you didn`t see middle class. You didn`t see grandmas.

HAYES: Right.

MOORE: You didn`t see -- you see everything at this. It`s just the most amazing thing.

HAYES: It is very striking. I mean, it`s very striking to you to hear this kind of terminology the paid protests, the yadda yadda, but then you look at the - you know these are just, it`s just Arkansas voters basically. Im ean, obviously we shouldn`t fool ourselves, they have the certain politics they have I think by and large.

MOORE: Right.

HAYES: But it`s not - this but you know, these are the people that live and work in Fayetteville or wherever.

MOORE: You can see just watching the footage there that nobody`s being paid. They are there because they love this country. And they are coming out. And you know what? You`re just seeing really the first week of these town halls.

HAYES: That`s what`s crazy to me. I mean, when you look at - you know we were going back and looking at footage, we were talking about this today, the big town hall thing was August in 2009, because - that was the August recess and that`s when those town halls happened, people getting yelled at and there was a bill that was about to be passed. This is only a month in.

MOORE: Right.

HAYES: So, this is way...

MOORE: No, no, this makes the Tea Party look like preschool. I mean, seriously. And when you had on Congressman Sanford from South Carolina, last night -- it.

HAYES; two nights ago.

MOORE: Two nights ago. And he had to listen to that for three hours. And you said to him, you know what do you think. And he says, well - I`m paraphrasing. You know, they`ve - the Obamacare people have sort of won. They`re going to get their main - everything`s going to be. And I was like, I`m sitting here watching your show I`mgoing whoa, he just admitted.

HAYES: It was a big concession. He basically said you`ve already won on a bunch of stuff. And you can see this in terms of where the rubber hits the road on this, you can see they`re moving the line on what they think they can do away with and not do away with because of this mobilization.

MOORE: But when he says you`ve already won on a lot of this I`m thinking yeah, that`s right, we have. And we have no power. We don`t control a single branch of government.

HAYES: Right.

MOORE: And yet they know the power because we are the majority. That`s the key factor here. We are the majority. We`re the majority at the voting booth. We`re the majority of this country, and that`s why they know they aren`t going to get away with this.

HAYES: One of the things you have this ten-point plan about a sort of Trump resistance. And one of the things I really like, you talked about running for office yourself.

MOORE: Not myself but everybody.

HAYES: Everyone - right.

So, there`s the is a site I`ve seen put up that is trying to recruit people to do exactly this. I mean, one of the things, there`s big news out of the Democratic Party of Virginia, they were going to field a candidate - this was the news. We`re going to field a candidate for every race.

It is shocking the degree of races that happen in this country at the local level, state rep. state senate, city council, they are just unopposed. There`s just no one to run.

MOORE: I live in one of the areas up in northern Michigan. I go into the voting booth and there`s a Democrat for congress that`s running and then that`s it. There was a Green running for county commission, in one of the seats, that`s it. It was all Republican, and I came out of there and I said this feels like a Soviet style election. There`s like, we only need one candidate. Why do you need two candidates?

But these Soviet style elections occur...

HAYES: And they happened in New York - the happen in the other direction. I mean, you have the Republicans not contesting huge swathes of the country...

MOORE: When I had my show here on NBC - well, you know, real NBC, over there.

HAYES: Thanks, Michael.

MOORE: No, this is like spring training. You`ll be doing Nightly News in five years. Lester , you know, when he retires.

HAYES: That was a great show.

MOORE: When I had my show here, we did congressman (inaudible) out in New Jersey had not only not had been primaried ever, never a Democrat running against him in like I don`t know how many years. So, we - I went out there and got on the ballot a Ficas plant and we ran the plant, the literal plant that you see in a doctor`s office against the congressmen. And they wouldn`t let us put the thing, so we had to do a write-in campaign. We went down to Trenton the night, the capitol when they counted the votes. And they had to - they wouldn`t let us. They stopped. They took all the cameras off because the ficas tree was getting some precincts as many votes as the congressman.

HAYES: Well, that`s the thing is, you know, even in a district people running unopposed, right, contesting an election makes a huge difference in terms of what issues gets discussed.

MOORE: So, this is my point, that people watching this, you got to think about running for office. Don`t leave it up to somebody else. This is why we`re in the state we`re in, because the genetic gene pool of political politicians...

HAYES: Look at that-- talk about an ace in the phone room, can we just give a shout out to All In producers here?

MOORE: Oh, my god, how did they do that that quick? I never mentioned that to anybody. Yes, there I am, there I am running and I`m actually in the state capitol signing up - she`s like you`re going to run this against the congressman? Yes, I believe this plant can win.

HAYES: The take away here is if you`re watching this you are probably better qualified than the ficas.

MOORE: You are. And you need to run not for congress necessarily, think of school board, city council, county commissioner. If you don`t want to do any of those, run for precinct delegate, precinct delegate. You can go to the county convention. It`s a commitment of three hours once a year.

HAYES: So, I want to talk about one of the interesting things about this mobilization that we watch is certain things I feel like I`m not surprised people mobilized around, certain things have been sort of surprising. So one of the things I think that was really interesting, and not surprising but the level of mobilization against Betsy DeVos and the way that the secretary of education is generally not a super high well-known position.

MOORE: Now, everybody knows her name.

HAYES: Everyone knows her name, huge amounts of interest.

MOORE: I to play a quick name that secretary of education in George W. Bush. I can`t either, don`t worry.

HAYES: Heather whatshername.

MORE: All right, you went to college. Not fair, you have a degree.

HAYES: Ding, yes.

MOORE: But you know what I`m saying you`re right. Nobody knew - now everybody knows we have a secretary of education that has never entered a public school.

HAYES: The wise acres in the control room were telling me it was the ficas plant.

So, watch this - watch Tom Cotton here get a question about Betsy DeVos, because it`s interesting - people just because that fight has ended it hasn`t gone away.

MOORE: It hasn`t gone away. Wow. Wow. Where do we look?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question deals with education. In your Facebook post supporting Betsy DeVos you stated...


SEN. TOM COTTON, (R) ARKANSAS: It seems like you have uncovered that Betsy DeVos may not be the most popular secretary of education.

So I would -- if you feel that strongly about the secretary of education, maybe the department of education has too much power.


MOORE: So yeah, Tom, that`s the wrong takeaway from those jeers in the crowd.

HAYES: Well, ideological fidelity there, because I think that`s - the sort of...

MOORE: But he knew how to read the room. He clearly got it.

HAYES: Well, he got it early on in that town hall, but it is - but there`s a situation where you know, there was real mobilization around her, it is sustained now and you know it seems to me this is something if they try to do anything with education, the capital accrues from previous fights to future ones.

MOORE: Right, right. And that`s why this mobilization is just beginning, as huge as it is, it`s going to get bigger and bigger and this thing you mentioned that I put online today and yesterday that there are some very simple quick easy things for people to do. You don`t have to give up your day job. Just make that daily call to congress. There`s this app now called five calls. Get it at the app store. It`s free. And you get it and it will actually, it pulls up all the numbers, it pulls up the issues of today that you should talk to them, it will give you some talking points, five calls.

It will dial your member of congress just like typing in your zip code, it will dial it for you.

HAYES: That`s cool.

MOORE: It`s so cool. There`s so many other things like that that people should be doing, though. You know, join groups, form regions of resistance. You know, justwhat Cuomo is gdoing here in New York. He announced free universal college for everyone. That`s what he`s going to push for.

California is going to push for universal health care.

There`s - blue states. Don`t say you live in a blue state and I can`t do anything. No, you can show the rest of the country, just like New York and California did with Roe V. Wade, three years before Roe V Wade, these two states made abortion legal and made it the new normal and got the rest of the country used to it. That`s what you can do in Massachusettsand these other blue states.

HAYES: I want to ask you a final question about the DNC race. I know you support Keith Ellison.


HAYES: The vote is going to happen soon, it seems very contested between Tom Perez and Keith Ellison. What are the stakes here to you?

MOORE: They`re huge. They`re absolutely huge. The Democratic Party, and god love Tom Perez and all the old guard, unfortunately it`s the old guard that is going to be doing a lot of voting on Saturday for the DNC chair, but we need Keith Ellison. We need somebody from the Midwest, grew up in Detroit. We lost this by 77,000 votes - Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania. We need...

HAYES: Narrowly eked out Minnesota, as we should note.

MOORE: Got Minnesota, but Keith Ellison, he was now a congressman from Minnesota, went there, help turn Minnesota from a red state to a blue state. He`s got the organizing ability to do this. He needs to be the DNC chair.

If the party is just going to go the same old way, losing twice in the last 16 years when we`ve won the popular vote, but the Republicans got the - I`m done with that. Everybody else has to be done with it.

DNC people, come on, do the right thing here. You`ve got to do this. And I know we`re out of time, and we don`t want to go in Rachel`s time like you did last night. I wrote you up.

HAYES: Please continue.

MOORE: Let me just say that I got this sweater at Nordstrom.

HAYES: All right, Michael Moore, thank you for joining us.

That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now, right on time.