Show: All in with Chris Hayes Date: February 27, 2017 Guest: Adam Schiff, Dick Durbin, Rick Wilson, Xeni Jardin, Charlie Sykes, Jason Johnson
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HARDBALL HOST: Right now we`re going to have lots to say. That`s why we`ll be there at midnight Eastern time to hear them. So get a good night sleep tonight and stay up with us tomorrow night for our HARDBALL late night special. Lots of attitude in that hour. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ALL IN HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you support a Special Prosecutor on Russia?
HAYES: Calls for a Special Prosecutor get louder as the White House tries to kill investigations before they start.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I guess my question would be, a special prosecutor for what?
HAYES: Tonight, Congressman Adam Schiff and Senator Dick Durbin on the growing bipartisan push to investigate and the Russians.
GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES FORMER PRESIDENT: I think we all need answers.
HAYES: Plus, at the republican investigators work with the White House,
DEVIN NUNES, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM CALIFORNIA: What I`ve been told is by many - by many folks is that there`s nothing there.
HAYES: Why others are breaking ranks.
DARRELL ISSA, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM CALIFORNIA: You`re going to need to use the special prosecutor`s statutes.
HAYES: Then, new reports of a high-stakes ObamaCare repeal as the President has an ACA epiphany.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.
HAYES: And protests at a Joint Session. We`ll look at what Democrats maybe planning for tomorrow`s big address when ALL IN starts right now.
Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. With President Trump set to deliver his first address to a Joint Session of Congress tomorrow night, republicans are trying desperately to bury a story that just will not go away. The ongoing mounting questions over whether there was contact or coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the Presidential campaign when according to U.S. Intelligence Agencies, Russia was working to boost Trump`s chances of being elected. To make their case, Republicans have been doing something remarkable. Effectively clearing the President and his allies of wrongdoing before the investigations have really even begun. This is Republican Devin Nunes who leads the House Intelligence Committee which is currently conducting the House investigation into Russian influence into the campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NUNES: We still have not seen any evidence of anyone that from the Trump campaign or any other campaign for that matter that`s communicating with the Russian government. At this point, here at the committee we still don`t have any evidence of them talking to Russia. As of right now, the initial inquiries I`ve made to the appropriate agencies, I don`t have any evidence. What I`ve been told is by many - by many folks is that there`s nothing there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Nothing there. Nunes, who is a member of the Trump Transition Team, made those claims despite the fact that the Intelligence Committee has yet to review evidence or hear testimony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NUNES: We can`t have McCarthyism back in this place. We can`t have the Government -- the U.S. Government and or the Congress, legislative branch of government chasing down American citizens, hauling them before the Congress as if there`s some secret Russian agents. And that`s what I`m concerned about here that we don`t go on some witch hunt against American citizens just because they appear in a press story somewhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Nunes is leading the House Investigation. The Senate Investigation is being led by Republican Senator Richard Burr, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Now in Friday, the Washington Post reported that both Nunes and Burr at the behest of the White House called reporters to challenge stories alleging contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian Intelligence Officials. Now, remember, these two gentlemen are the individuals who are supposed to be leading investigations that Republicans claimed are impartial. Senator Charles Schumer stated the obvious today, pointing out that Burr`s conduct quote "Certainly gives the appearance if not the reality of a lack of impartiality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES SCHUMER: Senator Burr is on notice because what he did was wrong and this is not the way to conduct a fair, impartial investigation that goes wherever the facts lead. (END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The phone calls to reporters were reportedly orchestrated by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer who today falsely suggested that the investigations were complete and that the Trump campaign has been cleared.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: I mean, Chairman Nunes spoke very clearly today when asked over and over and over again about all of this and said that, he has seen nothing that leads him to believe that there`s there. You`ve had the Intelligence Community look at Russia`s involvement in the election. You`ve had the House and the Senate both do the same. And so what I`m trying to ascertain is at what point, how many people have to say that there`s nothing there before you realize there`s nothing there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Again, no one can credibly claim at this point that there`s nothing there. Yesterday, former CIA Director John Brennan forcibly rebutted the White House claim. The FBI (INAUDIBLE) Director James Comey had privately knocked down stories linking Trump campaign associates to Russian Intelligence Officials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, CIA FORMER DIRECTOR: I have tremendous respect for Jim Comey`s competence and integrity and it`s been my experience working with Jim that he wouldn`t do anything that was going to in any way compromise the integrity of an ongoing investigation. And that`s why anybody who claims that the facts are already known in terms of what did or didn`t happen between Russian officials and U.S. persons during the election, I think it`s speaking very prematurely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Late Friday, the GOP effort to (INAUDIBLE) the Russia story had a bit snag when Republican Congressman Darrell Issa broke with party leaders and called for a special prosecutor to investigate much - to investigate much more on his political calculation in a bit. As for President Trump, he was asked about Russia again today as reporters were being led out of a meeting with Health Care CEO`s. And as the cameras left the room, the President offered up a response that was both overly-specific and essentially - well meaningless.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you support a special prosecutor on Russia?
TRUMP: Thank you press. Thank you press. Thank you. Appreciate it. I haven`t called Russia in ten years.
HAYES: President claimed he hasn`t called Russia in ten years is pretty odd and led to the fact that he visited Russia a less than four years ago. There he is right there in the flesh. Meanwhile, in an interview on the Today`s Show this morning, a previous Republican President George W. Bush pointedly undercut the White House suggestion the Russia matter has effectively been resolved.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I think we all need answers. Now, whether or not the special prosecutor is the right way to go tonight, you`re talking at the wrong guy. I`m not sure the right avenue to take. I am sure though, that that question needs to be answered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff who is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, your colleague, the Chair of the Committee Devin Nunes said to the press conference today in which he basically said repeatedly there is nothing to see here. I have been told that there is nothing here. Is he right?
ADAM SCHIFF, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM CALIFORNIA: I don`t think that any of us on the Intelligence Committee should reach any conclusions about the evidence yet because frankly we have heard from no witnesses. We have only started reviewing documents since the very beginning of the investigation. So we shouldn`t be reaching any conclusions about what we`re going to find and it concerns me that you have the White House talking to the FBI and potentially the CIA and asking them to push back on stories. It`s appropriate for the White House to reach out to republican or democratic members of the House but not on the subject of the investigation and I don`t think that we ought to draw any conclusion before frankly we`ve seen any of the evidence.
HAYES: Is it irresponsible in your view for the Chair of the Committee to be as categorical as he was today?
SCHIFF: Well, I don`t think we can be categorical at all. And certainly not on the basis of any private conversations with Intel Officials. The Committee is doing the investigation, the Committee has yet to begin its work in earnest. We`re still in the document-gathering phase and we need to follow the evidence wherever it leads. Now, we have agreed on a bipartisan basis to a scope of investigation that includes the issue, a potential Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. And we can`t start that if it`s going to be thorough and objective by concluding that there`s no there, there. First of all, because we don`t know that and second, because the investigation is only getting underway. So, I am concerned when I hear statements like that because this needs to be done on a bipartisan basis where it`s simply not going to have value for the American people.
HAYES: You said something today about needing the full cooperation of the FBI, which is a big question mark right now. What did you mean by that?
SCHIFF: What I mean by that is that, we can`t become the FBI ourselves as a House Committee. We`re going to need to know what has the FBI investigated, what leads have they chased down, what information have they obtained, what leads are yet to be investigated so that we can oversee whether they are doing a thorough job and whether there are other areas they haven`t explored that we need to. We won`t be able to do that if the FBI comes back and says we won`t talk to you about that, that`s a pending matter. That`s unsustainable in my view, and thus far, I don`t know whether we`ll get the full cooperation of the FBI. I`ve raised this issue with the Director but we`re going to need it to be able to do our jobs.
HAYES: Chairman Nunes invoked the spectrum of McCarthyism today, basically saying that there was an air similar to McCarthyism hanging around this, that people are being tarred as guilty before they have an opportunity to defend themselves. He says American citizens, "you can`t go running around calling them Russian agents." Is there an era - air of hysteria here? Are people getting out ahead of the facts in a way that`s dangerous?
SCHIFF: Well, first of all, I don`t think there`s any comparison here to the McCarthy era. We`re conducting - I hope a thorough investigation. We`re not prejudging the conclusions. We shouldn`t be. In terms of General Flynn and I think a lot of his comments went to General Flynn, this is someone who lied to the Vice President and caused the Vice President to mislead the country. That`s a serious business. That`s not McCarthyism, in my view, to call him out on it and what`s more, to call out the President. Because the President of the United States knew Mike Flynn had misled the Vice President and through that the entire country and what concerns me more than anything else about that, the President was OK with that, he was OK with the country being misled until it became public and he was forced to fire Flynn.
Well, that`s just a lot about this President`s willingness to tolerate dishonestly in his administration and misleading the public. That ought to be a very substantial concern and I don`t consider that McCarthyism in any way, shape or form. In fact, in my view, it`s quite the opposite.
HAYES: All right. Congressman Adam Schiff, thanks for joining me. Appreciate it.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
HAYES: Just moments ago, on Capitol Hill, our cameras caught up with Republican Senator Richard Burr, the Chairman of Senate Intelligence Committee and asked him about his coordination with the White House ahead of an investigation of the Trump campaign`s alleged ties with Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s your reaction to the concerns of the Vice Chair of the Intelligence Committee?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it appropriate for you to talk to reporters about this?
RICHARD BURR, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM NORTH CAROLINA: You just have (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I`m joined now by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois who`s member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And since your colleague wouldn`t answer the question, maybe I`ll pose it to you. Was it appropriate for him to talk to reporters on background, it appears, to knock down stories when he is the person charged with leading the investigation?
DICK DURBIN, UNITED STATE SENATOR FROM ILLINOIS: Absolutely not. You wouldn`t expect that of a judge, would you, or an investigator who`s trying to be impartial. And what Congressman Nunes said disqualifies himself - disqualifies him from heading up an investigation in this area. He`s already reached a conclusion and his conclusion is nothing wrong at all. The - center of crime was the leak itself. Let`s get to the beginning here. Why did they choose the Intelligence Committees? Why did the Republicans choose the Intelligence Committee for this investigation?
There`s a lot of reasons but one of the reasons is, they meet behind closed doors, the public can`t see what is happening, you don`t know what witnesses are being called, there`s no effort or opportunity to test credibility and if they ever produce a report in some distant time, it`s going to be classified. How do you declassify such a report? With the permission of White House, which is not going to happen. So I am really skeptical as to this being the venue for an investigation.
HAYES: So I`ve heard of a - there`s a sort of variety of different alternatives to the two standing investigations happening in the Committee is their chaired by this two individuals, Devin Nunes and Richard Burr. One of which floated somewhat surprisingly - I would say by Darrell Issa, Friday night, Republican Congressman in the House from California, a special prosecutor. Your thoughts on that?
DURBIN: Isn`t it interesting that Darrell Issa who couldn`t hold himself back from having weeks and months and years of public investigations of the Obama administration now doesn`t believe in Congressional Investigations but wants to have a special prosecutor. Well, certainly we don`t want to see Attorney General Sessions who should recuse himself being the prosecutor. A special prosecutor may be in order, but why have the Republicans, who couldn`t quit on e-mails in Benghazi decided now that no public hearing on this Russian involvement in our election is really warranted. What a hoot.
HAYES: Let me ask you of - the follow-up to the special prosecutor because, you know, .my sense was there was a kind of consensus in the wake of Ken Starr when the - when that statute to empower the special prosecutor was allowed to lapse. A bipartisan consensus that essentially that had created a fundamentally dangerously unaccountable office. Is that still the position of you and your colleagues or is this something that is being kicked around by folks on Capitol Hill?
DURBIN: We`re trying to get to an independent transparent investigation. I`m co-sponsoring a bill with the number of my colleagues for an independent commission. I`ve suggested General Colin Powell, a Justice from the Supreme Court, former Justice to the Supreme Court that would be part of this. And that`s the way to go. But in the alternative, if we`re going to look to the Department of Justice, I think we ought to have someone independent. Clearly, Jeff Sessions is not that person.
HAYES: I want to ask you about something Jeff Sessions said today. He was asked to be - if he knew about contacts in advance. He said no at a brief walk-in session. He said the FBI and the Justice Department have to remain independent and they will do so but not every contact is improper. What do you make of that?
DURBIN: Well, I may commit that General Flynn took a trip to Moscow and got paid another (INAUDIBLE), I understand it, and have some contacts with the Russians prior to the inauguration of this new President that could have been perfectly innocent. I don`t know. I think, let`s follow the facts wherever they take us without fair or favorites -
HAYES: We should be clear Senator, my understanding is that actual trip happened in 2015, if I`m not mistaken. I just want to make sure people understand the timeline there.
DURBIN: Yes, of course. That`s far in advance of any aspirations of Donald Trump to be President perhaps. But the point I`m getting to is this. The contact in and of itself is not damning or criminal but it`s worth asking questions during the basic investigation. Of course, you`d do that about a person who ends up residing as National Security Adviser to the President of the United States.
HAYES: Is there a - it seems to me that part of the issue here is just there`s a sort of breakdown in some basic levels of credibility to you and your colleagues with respect to things that emanate from the White House. It seems to me the Flynn moment was sort of a watershed in that respect in which you know, numerous people say on the record, including the Vice President of the United States, a sort of categorical denial that`s revealed to be not true. Have they repaired that breach of credibility, to your mind?
DURBIN: No. And I think the problem we have is that less than six weeks into this Presidency - I ought to repeat that - less than six weeks into this Presidency, this President and this White House have set out to discredit the Judiciary, the Intelligence Agencies of the United States of America, the media, I don`t know where to go next. The long list of people that they`ve attacked just in the first 5 1/2 weeks is an indication that anyone who raises a question about their conduct is in for a tough tweet.
HAYES: Do you think that`s the motivation - there some I`ve seen that`s essentially have speculated that these attacks and the series of attacks at the various institutions that you just listed have to do with producing doubt against those institutions that might be the ones that produce evidence vis-…-vis the Russia story.
DURBIN: And add to that, an effort to intimidate, try to put pressure on these agencies, trying to put pressure on the media, exclude them from the press conferences. All of this is part of a calculated strategy. Put that pressure and intimidation on them in the hopes that they will lay off.
HAYES: All right. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. Thank you sir. I appreciate it.
DURBIN: Good to be with you.
HAYES: Coming up, top Republican Darrell Issa`s real time moment going further than just about any other republican calling for a special prosecutor to investigate possible contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Why he`s going out on that limb and will anyone else join him, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISSA: We`re going to ask the Intelligence Committees of the House and Senate to investigate within the special areas that -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we need independent prosecutor.
ISSA: You cannot have somebody, a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and who was an appointee. You`re going to need to use the special prosecutor`s statute and office to take - not just to recuse, that`s - you can`t just give it to your deputy that`s another political appointee. You do have to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Speaking of remarkable moment Friday night, when California Republican Darrell Issa, yes that Darren Issa called for a special prosecutor to investigate possible ties between President Trump`s campaign and the Russian government. Tonight he`s softening his language a bit saying in a statement that he recommended a quote "independent review." The Congressman is still going further on this issue than most republicans right now, which to anyone familiar with Darrell Issa is pretty shocking. I mean, Issa has earned his reputation as a hard-right partisan warrior. Coming to national attention back 2003 for spearheading the recall of Democratic Governor of California Gray Davis and during his four-year reign as Chair of the House Oversight Committee, Issa launched a slew of investigations into right-wing conspiracy theories about the Obama administration. But if you take a look at how Congressman Issa`s district voted last year, his new found willingness to cross party lines isn`t quite a surprising. After all, he eked out a win in his race for re-election beating his opponent by just over 1,600 votes and crucially he`s one of 23 house republicans whose districts went for Hillary Clinton. During last week`s recess, the first since the President Trump took office, the congressman avoided meeting with his constituents, skipping a Town Hall organized by voters who wanted to talk about ObamaCare. But he won`t be able to dodge them forever. And he knows he`ll be facing an even tougher race for re-election next year. Joining me now, Rick Wilson. Republican Political and Media Strategist. And Rick, I thought that moment was fascinating for Issa. I mean, he`s a fascinating figure. I find him actually quite dynamic -
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL AND MEDIA STRATEGIST: Sure.
HAYES: - and compelling in his own way. This is a guy who six years ago, eight years ago, even four years ago, you would think of is the kind of hardest of a hardcore. And here he is sounding not the way I thought or expected him to sound.
WILSON: Well, I like Darrell Issa a lot. I think he`s one of the brightest guys in congress and I think he is not - I don`t think this was simply him reading the tea leaves. I think this reflects what`s going on in the minds of a lot of members that won`t come out and say it. They are petrified right now that leadership is going to lose their minds if they upset the apple cart on the most important thing on the universe, which is the tax cut bill. And if they - if they - if they cross that line, they`re afraid that a lot of the check list items they`ve wanted to accomplish for a very long time will go away. But - you know, I think Darrell Issa was probably having a little more historical memory than a lot of the guys right now in congress who look back at 1974 and realize that a lot of republicans, over 40 of them, I think almost 49, I think it was, lost their seats because the perception was they were defending Nixon`s corruption. There were democrats in 1994 who were whistling past the graveyard where - no, don`t worry about this White House, on this house check scandal. Nothing is wrong, it`s OK, it`s cool. And then you know, when republicans in `06 and `08, with Mark Foley and Jack Abramoff, they ignored these things until it was too late. They placed a big bet that the - that the public had a higher tolerance for corruption and the public does. And if these things go south, a lot of these guys are going to be holding the dirty end of the stick and Darrell Issa was doing - I think he was walking toward doing the right thing on this, although I`m sure it sounds at awful at like somebody from leadership got a hold of him and said, hey, now.
HAYES: Well that - it`s funny you say that because I thought to myself, we were - we were having a debate about was this - did he go out with this is a sort of - he wanted to say this strategically. Did he end up kind of saying this and then wanting it back and the sort of partial walk-back strikes me as part of what you`re saying. And I like you to elaborate on that thinking. Because my sense is exactly - it`s exactly the way you lay it out, which is the thinking around the House republican leadership is, we`ve got a once in a generation chance to go through this punch list, particularly on taxes, which frankly I think is the real priority here. And anything you do to distract from that -
WILSON: It`s the only priority, Chris.
HAYES: It`s the only priority. Exactly. Anything you do from that will take away the political capital we need to get that done.
WILSON: That is exactly what I`m hearing from folks inside the organization. And they are petrified that Trump will collapse before this - before this is accomplished. They really look at this as a singular moment. They dread the ObamaCare question right now, that the dog is caught in the bumper of the car and is being dragged pretty hard by that one.
WILSON: And so, they`re looking at the tax - the tax bill as a single moment where republicans can have a giant take home and say, we did this and it set the economy - you know, in the right direction, et cetera. We can argue about that all day but that`s certainly what they believe inside. And the fear of crossing this White House is another element here. They don`t want the proverbial - you know, capital M, capital T, mean tweet from Donald Trump.
HAYES: Well, and here`s the part about the political calculation I`m fascinated by. One - on one side you`ve got the class of 23 House republicans that I have like a file on my desk that I`m always looking at, right? Because they are - they are in some ways, the most fascinating political creatures in Washington right now. That - who`s districts won by Hillary Clinton. But then you`ve also got the lesson of 2016 which was the people that tried to distance themselves from Donald Trump by and large , fell by the wayside, the ones that stuck with them did OK and you`ve got to think they`re torn between those two impulses as they`re navigating the politics of it right now.
WILSON: You know, I`ve used this analogy before. It`s kind of a grizzly one. But you know, when IRA try to blow up Margaret Thatcher, she said, you know, we were very lucky today. And that their response essentially was you know, you have to be lucky every time. We only have to be lucky once. These guys have to be lucky every time but if it turns out that the Intelligence Community does know things about Trump`s contacts with Russia, does know things about the communications between his staff and Russia, these things are going to end up redounding to the - to the detriment of a lot these members of congress right now who have really breezily say, "don`t worry about that, no big deal, it`s cool,
WILSON: We`re good. It`s fine. No Russia. Less of it.
HAYES: And they`re - and they`re also - they`re also hanging themselves on stuff they can`t possibly know which seems to be the larger danger here of the bat.
WILSON: Yes. If you want to make a bet against the Intelligence Community right now on this, it may not be the - it may now be the wisest political play because at any moment there are things that have yet to come to light, there are elements of the Trump people - the Trump team`s communications and relationships with the Russians that - not just in the intelligence side but also in the business relationships, et cetera, that could come out in ways that with more granularity than they have so far and these guys are going to be stuck holding the stick on it. But, you know, they`ve made that decision, they`ve made that calculus right now. They`re going to try to ride the lightning on this thing up through and until the moment that transcripts are coming out.
HAYES: Rick Wilson. All right. Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
WILSON: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Up next, the GOP is considering drastic measures to make good on their year`s long promise to repeal ObamaCare but is President Trump on board? That`s right after this quick break.
HAYES: Lawmakers are back in Washington today after getting an earful from their constituents in Town Halls last week. House Speaker Paul Ryan had said this would be the week republicans introduce legislation to repeal ObamaCare. But there is still, somewhat remarkably, no sign of a consensus plan for what comes next. One draft proposal leaked to Politico last week would shrink insurance subsidies and the Medicaid expansion making health care less accessible and more expensive for poor, sicker and crucially older people.
And here`s the thing, House Conservatives have already come out against that bill for not going far enough. According to an analysis to republican proposals obtained by Vox, millions of people could lose their coverage. And things are getting so desperate for the GOP according to Wall Street Journal that republican leaders are betting the only way for congress to actually repeal the Affordable Care Act is to set a bill in motion and gamble the fellow GOP lawmakers won`t dare to block it. But if they`re looking to the White House for support, they may not have much luck.
On Friday, the President met with his one-time primary rival John Kasich who expanded Medicaid as Governor of Ohio, and opposes the drastic changes favored by hard liners in his party. Kasich views on health care apparently made an impression on President Trump. According to the Washington Post, the governor made his pitch while the President eagerly called in several top aides and then got Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on the phone. At one point, Senior Adviser Jared Kushner reminded his father-in-law that House Republicans are sketching out a different approach to providing access to coverage quote "Well, I like this better," Trump replied, according to a Kasich adviser.
A month into his term, the President is still climbing a very steep learning curve. As he revealed himself in remarks this morning, he`s just now discovering what everyone knows who knows anything about health care already takes for granted. The policy is hard. The politics are even harder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have come up with a solution that`s really, really, I think, very good. Now, I have to tell you, it`s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated. The biggest obstacle of a republican seeking to repeal ObamaCare are the millions of Americans continuing to benefit from the law. As we saw last week, they`re not going to let it go quietly. And one of them joins me next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could tell you three members of my family, including me, that would be dead, dead and homeless if it was not for ACA.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: One of many angry constituents who confronted their lawmaker last week over Republican plans to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. That was at a town hall with Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton.
Today, President Trump dismissed the people who say they`ve benefited from the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: People hate it. But now they see that the end is coming and they`re saying, oh, maybe we love it. There`s nothing to love. It`s a disaster, folks. OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I`m joined now by Xeni Jardins. She`s co-editor of Boing Boing and a survive of breast cancer. And Jenny, I thought of you when I saw that clip. I follow your writing about surviving breast cancer and about the role the ACA has played. And I wanted to know when he says, oh, maybe they love it, there`s nothing to love, what do you say?
XENI JARDIN, BOING BOING: There`s nothing to love about cancer and the experience of going through cancer, if we`re lucky to survive it, it`s brutal.
But the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, for me meant that I was able to get the life-saving treatment that I needed.
You know, it`s funny. I actually - here`s where I just got a blood draw today at my oncologist. I actually came from my cancer doctor to talk to you about this. And before leaving, I asked my wonderful cancer doctor, who was an NIH researcher and chose to go into clinical practice what she would say if she could talk to President Trump right now. This woman who has saved so many men and women`s lives in the clinic. And she said two things. It`s really important that, for instance, Planned Parenthood, other kinds of clinics that offer low cost and no cost cancer screening. If that gets wiped away, we`re going to see a lot of people who don`t get diagnosed until much later stage when the treatment options are brutal and limited.
The second thing she said, and it was so funny, I remember this vividly: drug costs. When I was receiving cancer treatment, I remember there was one very important drug that kept me from vomiting. And when you`re going through cancer, if you aren`t able to keep down food, it`s not a good thing. That drug costs 800 bucks a pill before the Affordable Care Act, and right now those kinds of prescriptions cost something that I can afford.
Look, the bottom line is this: this is an imperfect system, the Affordable Care Act was a compromise, as everything in politics is. But this is better than no protections at all. I know men and women who died early, who died bankrupt and whose quality of life was destroyed by the fact that they did not have access to affordable care.
When you have to choose between your rent, your food, your children`s food and your cancer treatment, you`re not living in a civilized nation.
I remember in America where we cared about the lives of our people. It`s not OK to turn cancer into a political football.
HAYES: Do you think -- two things. One is, do you feel that -- I feel like I`ve watched an activation happen among the folks who have interfaced with the law who, before this election in some ways, didn`t have reason to mobilize. I mean, the law was the law and they had to navigate it and they might have found it frustrating, because lord knows dealing with health care is always frustrating.
Do you feel like there`s a change in the posture folks like yourself have towards their political engagement on this?
JARDIN: You know, what President Trump said about, well, nobody knew, nobody knew that health care was so complicated, I don`t want to mock him for that, because frankly I felt the same way before I was diagnosed December 1, 2011. I was tweeting the whole experience to the world like I do with everything. Don`t be afraid, I`m a little bit too young for a mammogram, but I thought I would go ahead and do this since two of my other friends, you know, in their late 30s, early 40s were diagnosed around right that same time. And I was diagnosed that same day.
I had no idea how complicated it was. I had no idea how brutal the costs before the Affordable Care Act would be, but I learned.
So, I`ve had the experience of cancer before and after ACA and there`s a very big difference.
I no longer wonder when I show up to the clinic if somebody is going to have to come out and say from billing, and say, you know what, your insurance company thinks that you might be engaged in fraud, that maybe you had a pre-existing condition that you didn`t tell us about because guess what they did that within the first couple of months after my diagnosis.
I just had no idea that somebody like me, a good, clean living vegetarian yoga doing health nut could get cancer. But that`s part of why it`s so important that everybody have equal access to health care. It is dehumanizing. The idea of taking away to access to health care. And it doesn`t just affect people with cancer now, many of your viewers will be affected by it. Some of the people watching now who thinks that this will never touch them will be diagnosed with cancer.
I want there to be care for them, too, not just me.
HAYES: This is, I think, such a key point to think about, because part of what I find really worrisome but on moral and political levels, this idea that, well, if we can just put the sick people into their own sort of system, the high risk pools or whatever, then all the rest of us, the healthy ones, or the relatively healthy ones, we can pay lower premiums, but of course, those are not fixed categories. People move between them which is the entire point.
JARDIN: Yes, it certainly is.
I mean, I don`t know what they want to do, have leper colonies for people who are too poor to afford chemo? We`re not going back. We`re just not going back.
And I`m so grateful that because - you know, thanks, Obama, for helping me live. Thank you to all of the politician who is decided that political expediency was less valuable than American lives. I believe in America. And I beelieve there are enough sane, compassionate people around - ACA is not about a handout for lazy people. I work hard. And I worked hard to survive this. And I didn`t go through chemo to have this all taken away.
HAYES: Xeni Jardin, thanks for your time tonight. I really appreciate it.
JARDIN: Thank you, Chris.
All right, still to come, what will it be like in the room during President Trump`s first joint address to congress? What we can expect from the president. How Democrats might react in real-time. That`s ahead.
Plus, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two with some fantastic photography starts right after this break.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, President Trump clearly still smarting over the sheer number of people who keep turning out to protest his presidency, tweeting out over the weekend, "maybe the millions of people who voted to make America great again should have their own rally. It would be the biggest of them all."
To which Senator Bernie Sanders reply, somewhat icily, "they did. It wasn`t," pointing out side-by-side pictures of Trump`s and Obama`s inauguration crowds.
But today, Trump fans had a do-over called the spirit of America. It was billed by its leaders as massive, pro-Trump demonstrations nationwide.
So just how massive were they? Looking at some of the footage, it turns out, maybe not so much.
That`s Thing Two is in 60 seconds.
HAYES: It was meant to be a rallies nationwide organized by conservative groups and billed as a massive show of support from fans of President Trump.
But as documented by Daniel Dale (ph) of the Toronto Star and others on Twitter, the rallies may have been nationwide but massive? Not so much.
These are photos from sunny Stewart, Florida, and a wet Bellingham, Washington, and a cloudy Atlanta, from South Carolina to North Carolina to Illinois, none of which appeared to show that many people.
Organizers say a couple hundred people did show up in Denver. The New York Times puts the total number of rally goers across the country in the quote, hundreds.
To put that in context, the day after Donald Trump took office, an estimated 3 million plus people took to the streets across the country.
HAYES: Tomorrow night, the president will go before congress not with a State of the Union Address, he won`t actually make another one of those for another year, but with a joint address to congress. Such an address is sometimes made in special circumstances as when President Barack Obama, not yet eight months into his term after the town hall craziness of that summer, went before congress to present his health care plan and this moment ensued.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: They`re also those who claim that our reform efforts would ensure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms I`m proposing would not apply to those who here illegally.
REP JOE WILSON, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie.
OBAMA: It`s not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Not only was Congressman Joe Wilson wrong on the substance, in other words, the president was telling the truth, and Wilson, was, well, lying, that moment was widely condemned by both parties as an unprecedented breach of decorum.
Congressman Wilson issued an apology to the president. But the House, controlled by Democrats at the time, approved a resolution of disapproval after Wilson refused to apologize to his colleagues from the House floor.
But here`s the thing, that moment also made Wilson a star on the right. He ended up fundraising off that uncivil act.
Now, in a sense, Democrats are facing a somewhat similar situation to Republicans in the fall of 2009. But it`s fair to say this president is unlike any in modern history as is the grassroots opposition to him.
How Democrats deal with that reality, and a constituency strongly opposed to this president next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you know, more than 60 Democrats either boycotted or skipped the president`s inauguration. What kind of reception do you think the president will get tomorrow evening from Democrats in the House and the Senate when he gives this joint address?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I hope a very robust and applause-filled reception.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: President Trump`s address to congress tomorrow night is being billed by the White House as optimistic, but the president`s dark inauguration speech is still fresh in everyone`s mind.
Joining me now, MSNBC contributor Charlie Sykes, edidtor of Right Wisconsin, and Jason Johnson ,politics editor of The Root, author of Political Consultatnts and Campaigns.
Jason, let me start with you, you know, I forgot who said this. Someone said that there`s going to be a huge amount of actual political incentive for some house Democrat to have their own Joe Wilson moment tomorrow night, because fevers are very pitched. There is tremendous desire on the part of the Democratic base for outward signs of resistance. What are you expecting?
JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT: Well, here`s the thing, Chris, if someone on the Democratic side decides they`re going to go at Trump, this is not Barack Obama. This is not George Bush. Trump is likely to respond and go all Remy Ma (ph) on them and just like attack the person for seven minutes, like you have got to be really careful if you go after Donald Trump. He can spit.
So, I think the Democrats will be wiser to just make sure that they boo when necessary, that they don`t stand when he says certain things, and leave their comments to afterwards, because I don`t think you want to get into a battle with Trump when he`s in his element on national television.
HAYES: Charlie, this is going to be a speech - I continue to be fascinated by the weird hybrid of sort of Paul Ryan, Mike Pence Republicanism and the Bannon, Steven Miller stuff. What ratio are you expecting in this speech tomorrow?
CHARLIE SYKES, RIGHT WISCONSIN: I don`t know. By the way, your first question, Steven Bannon right now is hanging upside down in a close somewhere hoping that some Democrat is going to go too far, because Trump feeds on overreaction. I remember about a year ago talking to some members of congress who had met with then nominee Donald Trump and they were amazed by how little he understood the whole concept of Article 1 of the Constitution and the specific powers of congress. I think a lot of them are going to be sitting there wanting to know, OK, is Donald Trump actually going to be talking to us, is he going to be working with us, is he looking to provide us guidance, is he going to cut our tires, is he going to kneecap us on all of this? Because right now we`re in this very interesting moment where, you know, the president is going to try to showcase all the things he`s done, except there`s no legislation. There`s no Obamacare repeal. There`s no infrastructure package. There is no tax reform. Not just not passed, not even propose.
And you can really sense the uneasy...
HAYES: We should just be clear, there`s not a one-sheeter. There`s not an index card. There`s not three bullets to put on a full screen on my show to say this is what the White House is proposing.
And as a result, all of these congressional Republicans are kind of holding their fire. Now, they`re being pounded at the town hall meetings but they can`t turn around and say, well, this is what we plan to do because apparently they haven`t gotten the call from the White House yet.
HAYES: Yeah, and that, Jason, so there`s two things I wonder about here, right. Is how programmatic this is. Do they have the wherewithal. I mean, there`s something sort of vaguely comical about the idea of a - you know, Bill Clinton was obviously famous for these sort of long and involved granular wonky speeches, like some Donald Trump version of that about risk corridors and high-risk pools, and I mean, that just seems like completely off the table, right?
JOHNSON: Yeah. Yeah. It`s not likely.
Look, Trump is at sort of a school house rock level whereas Clinton and Obama were sort of at a dissertation level.
I mean, I believe the 11 points that the Republicans have put out now, he`s going to talk about America. He`s going to talk about making the nation safe. He`s going to talk about, you know, revitalizing jobs and infrastructure. I think it`s going to be a general campaign speech.
Because as of right now, it doesn`t appear that Donald Trump can give anything other than a campaign speech. And I think at some point, maybe not tomorrow night, maybe not in a week, but at some point, congress is going to get tired of that, Republicans and Democrats, because they need an actual plan, not just more commercials.
HAYES: well, that`s the point.
SYKES: But nobody knew. This is hard, right? I mean...
HAYES: Here`s the things, Charlie, right. Like, there`s - most speeches are performance. They`re not really acts, right? So usually it`s rhetoric. So, even when President Obama got up in that speech back in 2009, he was defending a legislative process that had been ongoing for six months. There`s actually some thing that has to be done tomorrow night it seems programmatically from me from the president if he wants to kickstart any kind of legislative agenda.
SYKES: Yes. And he wants to kick start it but the problem is there`s no indication that he`s about to roll something out. I mean, the fact that today he`s saying nobody had any idea how complicated health care. Really? Nobody? Here`s a guy who has been saying how easy it was going to be and any minute now. Well, you can imagine how that played with the Mike Pences and the Paul Ryans on this date to hear the president saying, whoa, who knew this was going to be this complicated?
So, he`s got to make up his mind on all of this because, again, the theme is going to be the time for rhetoric is done. We now need to act. OK, Mr. President, where is the beef? Where are the details? Have you actually made up your mind? And there are these reports that Steve Bannon is now somewhat reluctant, concerned about the political price of actually doing something meaningful with Obamacare, which has got to really, you know, wrap up the anxiety among House and Senate Republicans.
HAYESa: Plus I want to play this clip of Richard Burr. We played it earlier in the show, but I think it`s so indicative of a certain kind of thing that`s happening in congress. Take a look at Richard Burr not answering questions about the Russia investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s your reaction to the concerns from the vice chair of the intelligence committee?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it appropriate for me to talk to reporters about this?
SEN. RICHARD BURR, (R) NORTH CAROLINA: You guys have a great night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Jason, they are taking politically bullets for him right now and that`s the other subtext of tomorrow night.
JOHNSON: Yeah. And I think a lot of this -- you know, look, every Republican member of congress right now is saying nothing to see here, like the Naked Gun where there`s fireworks and e everything going on in the background when it comes to Russia. And what they really need tomorrow, if there`s one thing the president can do, he can say I will have your back. I will not take advantage of you. I won`t attack you and I will understand this process because they`re defending him on the wall.
JOHNSON: They`re defending him on the immigration. They`re defending him on Russia. And at some point they`re the ones facing the consequences. They are not hiding out in Washington. He needs to show Republicans he supports them.
HAYES: Because he`s figured out how to be successful while 40 percent of people like him. That`s not true for anyone else.
Charlie Sykes and Jason Johnson, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2017 NBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2017 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.