Show: All in with Chris Hayes Date: March 21, 2017 Guest: Eric Stalwell, Susan Hennessey, Robby Mook, Hannah Smith, Jeffrey Rosen, Mo Brooks
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HARDBALL HOST: - dancing and Mr. Nice Guy is not going to change it. It`s not about Gorsuch or even Trump, it`s about Mitch McConnell and the brand of low-level politics he stands for. Get it? That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ALL IN HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: They wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her, help him.
HAYES: A cloud around the White House gets thicker.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There`s been discussion of Paul Manafort who played a very limited role.
HAYES: New reports of money laundering and Donald Trump`s Campaign Manager.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Paul Manafort has done an amazing job.
HAYES: Tonight, what we`re learning about Paul Manafort as democrats call for him to testify.
PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP`S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: That`s what he said, I - that`s what i - that`s obviously what our position is.
HAYES: Plus, 2016 flashback, what we now know about how the FBI helped tip the election to Trump.
ROBBY MOOK, CLINTON`S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Experts are now saying that they are - the Russians are releasing these e-mails for the purpose of actually helping Donald Trump.
HAYES: Then, two days from the Trumpcare vote -
TRUMP: We had a great meeting and I think we`re going to get a winner vote.
HAYES: As the President starts threatening jobs over a wildly unpopular bill, will the Freedom Caucus fall in line?
TRUMP: We`re going to negotiate and it`s going to go to the Senate and back and forth. The end result is going to be wonderful.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
Good evening from Washington, D.C., I`m Chris Hayes. And we have a lot of news to get to tonight. From the fate of President Trump`s signature Healthcare Bill, which is hanging in the balance as House Republican leaders scramble for votes to the President`s Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, facing a grilling on Capitol Hill. Much more on that shortly. But tonight, the Leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, is calling for Gorsuch`s confirmation hearing to be put on hold due to the big gray cloud of an FBI investigation now hanging over the Presidency.
Amid new developments in a story with the potential to consume the Trump agenda, the probe into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and a foreign adversary of the Russian government as the Russians work to boost Trump`s chances in the 2016 Presidential campaign. Yesterday in historic testimony before congress, FBI Director James Comey confirmed the existence of an FBI investigation into possible coordination. And today, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to contain the damage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: At some point there`s a distinction between an investigation that it goes into Russia`s involvement in 2016 and this continued narrative that falsely tries to link the Trump - the President or the White House into any of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Speaking this morning on Fox News, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway also denied any such links and suggested it is time to move on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP`S COUNSEL: This investigation`s been going on for eight months, we know very little about it, no connection, no fruits, Donald Trump`s been President for two months and he has a lot more to show for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: To be clear, we do not yet know if there was conclusion or coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians and even if there is smoke, there may be no fire. But there continues to be a whole lot of smoke, including what we learned today. A Ukrainian Lawmaker alleging that Trump`s former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort attempted to hide a $750,000 payment from a pro-Russia political party. Manafort allegedly laundering payments using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan. A Manafort spokesman dismisses the allegations as baseless and the documents upon which they are based have not been independently verified.
But, Manafort is now wanted for questioning in Ukraine where he worked for more than a decade for pro-Russian political groups before becoming Trump`s Campaign Manager last April. A job that Manafort lost four months later amid revelations he may have accepted millions in undisclosed cash payments from that pro-Russian political party. Despite Manafort having been Trump`s Campaign Manager, Spicer yesterday dismissed him as having played and I quote here "a very limited role in the campaign." Last month, the President suggested Manafort`s ties to pro-Russian individuals in Ukraine are irrelevant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does. Now, Manafort has totally denied it. He denied it. Now, people knew that he was a consultant over in that part of a world for a while but not for Russia. I think he represented Ukraine or people having to do with Ukraine or people that - whoever. But people knew that, everybody knew that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Also now facing renewed scrutiny is self-described, dirty trickster, Trump ally, confidante, Roger Stone who appears to have had advanced warnings of the alleged Russian leak of DNC e-mails. Stone thing came up repeatedly at yesterday`s Comey hearing and democratic lawmakers say, they want to hear directly from both Stone and Manafort, both of whom emphatically deny wrongdoing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, TRUMP CONFIDANTE: I assume that I have been under surveillance now for some time. What probable cause there is or what evidence that would dictate that, I don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Amazingly, the republican leading the house investigation into the Trump camp`s possible links to Russia, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes told reporters yesterday, he had never heard of Stone or another major player in the Trump-Russia drama, former Trump Foreign Policy Adviser Carter Page.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You haven`t heard of Carter Page and all these other people. I mean, did you hear about five names mentioned by the democrats.
DEVIN NUNES, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM CALIFORNIA: I don`t know these people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have not heard of Carter Page or Roger Stone?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve never heard -
NUNES: I`ve heard of Manafort.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve never heard any stories about any of these people?
NUNES: I`ve heard lots of stories but there was more names than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell of California, member the Democratic Leadership as well as the House Intelligence Committee where Comey testified yesterday. First, can you just react to the Chair of your Committee saying he has never heard of Roger Stone?
ERIC SWALWELL, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM CALIFORNIA: The evidence shows the contrary. The world knows who Roger Stone is, the world knows who Carter Page and Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn are. They are individuals, a part of this Trump orbit, who had deep personal political and financial ties to Russia. And now we are starting to learn that there may have been a convergence of those ties with Russia`s interference campaign.
HAYES: Was the Chair of your Committee - I just want to be clear on this. Was the Chair of your committee Devin Nunes, when he answered that question yesterday negatively, he had not heard of Roger Stone, was he lying?
SWALWELL: I don`t know how he could not have heard of Roger Stone. We told the world yesterday who Roger Stone was and over the last few months, we have put out evidence that Roger Stone knew that these attacks against the democratic candidate was coming because he was intimating on Twitter that John Podesta was going to spend his time in the barrel. So it`s contrary to what all of the evidence shows.
HAYES: I want to ask your reaction to the move by the Secretary of State to skip a NATO meeting and visit Russia instead. Rex Tillerson will go to Russia but skip the NATO meeting next month. Now, state is saying this is a logistical scheduling issue; they`re trying to arrange it so he can go to a NATO meeting. The President may go as well. But do you think there are signals being sent by this administration to this day of a kind of almost public, if tacit, quid pro quo?
SWALWELL: Yes, Chris. And what we tried to show yesterday was first, Russia is a foreign adversary. That`s why having such deep ties to Russia is concerning. And these deep ties not only may have extended to their interference campaign, we are now seeing a dramatic change in U.S. policy. That ranges from the change in the Republican Party platform at the convention that ranges from Jeff Sessions going from being anti-Russia to saying we should embrace Russia and now our Secretary of State is skipping a meeting of foreign ministers with NATO to go and meet with Russia later on in the month. So I think the President should suspend any policy changes toward Russia until we get to the bottom of what happened during the election.
HAYES: On that note, there`s been a call from Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, for a suspension of the hearing process for Neil Gorsuch while the investigation is happening. Do you agree with that?
SWALWELL: I`m going to respect what the Senate is doing and I believe that we should suspend anything significant under this Presidency right now with respect to foreign policy. I think - I think Senator Schumer is correct that this is a Supreme Court vacancy that does not come up very often and in light of this investigation we should put on the brakes.
HAYES: Well, it seems to me, the logic of what the Senator from New York is saying is essentially a cloud of illegitimacy currently taints the Presidency. The entire thing has to be put on pause. And if you thought that were the case for Neil Gorsuch, I imagine you would think the same thing for the entirety of the agenda. I mean, do you think the presence of this ongoing investigation looms so large that the President cannot conduct being President of the United States?
SWALWELL: Well, he certainly doesn`t act like the President of the United States when he is tweeting what has turned out to be just falsities throughout the hearing yesterday. Again, I think it`s really remarkable that he`s not even doing the job of President. He`s watching a hearing about lies he made about President Obama and then tweeting further lies. We need him to be a President. But right now, there are too many questions about his involvement, his team`s involvement with Russia as this interference campaign went on that I think at the very least, Chris, we should suspend any changes in policy toward Russia. I think, let`s just put on the brakes with respect to the Supreme Court`s nomination but that`s the Senate`s business and I`m going to do what we have to do on the House Intelligence Committee.
HAYES: Finally, do you have confidence in Devin Nunes` ability to steer this investigation into any kind of impartial manner whatsoever?
SWALWELL: Right now we have heard from what I think are the easy consensus witnesses, U.S. government officials. The harder ones - and the tests will be when we want to hear from individuals like Roger Stone and Carter Page and Paul Manafort and perhaps if the evidence takes us there, the President himself, and also, the documents we want to review. This investigation would not be complete if we are not able to see the President`s tax returns. And so, that going to be the task as to whether we are truly going to follow the evidence or not. So I`m going to wait and see on that one.
HAYES: All right. Representative Eric Swalwell, thanks for your time tonight. Appreciate it.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
HAYES: Joining me now, Brookings Institution Fellow, Susan Hennessey. Formerly of the National Security Agency`s Office of General Council and MSNBC Terrorism Analyst Malcolm Nance. Malcolm, I want to start with you on a really - I think, deceptively simple question.
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Sure.
HAYES: What is an investigation. I`ve been turning this over in my head because at some level I felt like bombshell. There is an investigation, but I don`t know what the scope of that could mean. Like, there`s someone, somewhere running a Google search or we`ve got 80 agents on the case working round the clock?
NANCE: Well, I think that was addressed towards the end of the session yesterday afternoon, when I believe one of the Republican Congressmen asked Director Comey, what are the standards for this for - to be an investigation. And he spelled out - and Admiral Rogers as well - but that the standard of them starting an investigation is extremely high. They just won`t go out and say OK, well let`s just open up a folder and see what incidental things that we have here. I think a they have a body of evidence. Now, let`s not confuse intelligence as we collect in the intelligence community being evidentiary standard, right? But they have to have something before the FBI will stop what they`re doing, task out their National Counterintelligence Officers who are spy hunters, by the way, they`re not just normal FBI officers, and then bring them into the process.
HAYES: This is something else. What is the significance of it being a counterintelligence investigation?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION FELLOW: Well, the fact that it`s a counterintelligence investigation means that it`s probably less likely that there are criminal charges, right? It`s really about understanding what foreign intelligence activity has occurred so it was a specially notable that Director Comey indicated that that might include inquiry into criminal conduct, right? He made a point of actually flagging that extra step to indicate that they`re looking at a collusion of criminal conduct that sort of the behavior of people within the United States as well.
HAYES: You were in an event today with Adam Schiff of that committee. He`s played a very interesting role in all this. And because these committees are not controlled by democrats and there`s a clear kind of partisan valance in how they`re approaching it. How much control does he have or the minority of the committee have to actually steer this investigation?
HENNESSEY: Well, so they have a limited number of cards to play but relatively powerful ones. So, we`ve seen thus far that Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have resisted calls for an investigations. The formation of a Select Committee or a Bipartisan Commission by saying no, no, no, there`s an ongoing investigation. Let`s just let that happen instead of having these more robust and independent investigations. I think as soon as people like Representative Schiff or Congressman Mark Warner over the Senate withdraw their support, right? Say they no longer think that these are serious inquiries, that`s going to put a tremendous amount of pressure.
HAYES: So, that`s a really key point about this. You think that card, if they were publicly to declare that and withdraw their support from the committee`s work that would produce pressure for some special impaneling?
NANCE: Well, sure. I mean, it`s like a - it`s a red stoplight going off in the middle of an expressway.
NANCE: So what you have to do is you have to decide what - how exactly are you going to play this thing from the republicans` perspective. Are you going to just go along with the red stoplight and just - you know, or blow right through traffic, to use that analogy. They have to determine where their loyalty lies here on the republican side. Yesterday they were hounding everyone for the leakers.
NANCE: The democrats laid out a powerful systematic case that the United States was attacked by a foreign agency. And -
HAYES: I heard people use that word. That word strikes me as controversial. Attack - I mean, I`m sure we`ve compromised the systems of foreign parties in our intelligence activities before, shouldn`t we draw a distinction between being attacked and being hacked in that fashion?
NANCE: Well, within the cyber - within the cyber realm, what they did was carry out a systematic intelligence collection operation. I like what Adam Schiff called it the other day, the weaponization of information then tied that to a political warfare strategy and then married that all together in one giant hybrid warfare strategy which further the goals of their state. But to do that, they had to directly target the democratic processes of America and damage them. That is an attack on the constitution itself.
HENNESSEY: Right. I think the really other question of line drawing as well, right? So, maybe the more accurate or artful term is an active measures campaign. But because of what it was aimed at, because of its impact from the United States, I think it`s important that we use rhetoric that explains exactly how important it is (INAUDIBLE)
HAYES: OK. As people who are frontline members of the Intelligence Community in different capacity is. What is it like to work right now if you are associated with this investigation? I mean, I just keep thinking about the person who wakes up today in Northern Virginia to drive to the Bureau. Who is working on investigating the President`s campaign was colluding with a foreign adversary.
HENNESSEY: Well, like - I`m sure there`s an element of surrealism to it. That`s what every confidence of the men and women of the Intelligence Community. The FBI are going to wake up every day and sort of do their jobs to the best of their ability.
HAYES: Do you have that - that it won`t be compromised? That they could do this independently?
HENNESSEY: So, I think that there will be warning signs, right? I think that if those career staff starts to feel as if they are not able to conduct their work with integrity, we`re going to see more leaks. We`re going to see more signals to public that, hey, there`s something wrong here.
NANCE: Sure. But on the field operative level, right? The counterintelligence officer - and I know some of these people. These guys are caught all (INAUDIBLE) you know, some of them great spies in American history. These guys are bloodhounds. They are not regular FBI agents at all. They are a hybrid of super investigator and rigid ruthless loyalists who root out people who work for foreign intelligence in the United States. And they`re very jealous of their job. I think they`ll come in, they don`t care whether it`s the President or whether it`s the Senior Staffer. If they find malfeasance, they`ll going to run it to the ground.
HAYES: All right. Susan Henessey and Malcolm Nance, thank you for your time.
Still to come, the President lays it all on the line to get Trumpcare pass in the House, visiting the Hill today to call out fellow republicans. We`ll talk to one of the holdouts ahead.
And next, former Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook joins me to respond to what we know about how the FBI double - had a double standard and how it may have helped tip the election. That`s after this two-minute break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government`s efforts to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election. And that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia`s efforts. We`ve been doing this - this investigation began in late July so for counterintelligence investigation that`s a fairly short period of time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: July. The FBI has been investigating whether or not Trump`s campaign coordinated with a foreign adversary to influence the election since July of 2016 and yet the FBI never publicly talked about that investigation we now know existed until yesterday. The investigation they did talk about was the one into Hillary Clinton`s e-mails. In July, that same Director, James Comey, publicly announced his recommendation not to prosecute Hillary Clinton and then just 11 days before the election, he told Congress the FBI was reviewing a new batch of e-mails only to conclude on November 6, two days before the election, the new e-mails did not change anything. And during all of that, it now turns out the FBI was also out of the public eye investigating Donald Trump`s campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH, FLORIDA FORMER GOVERNOR: All I`m saying is that she`s under investigation by the FBI. Just pause and think about that. That`s not - that`s a pretty uncommon thing for a presidential candidate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This disqualifies her from being the Commander-in-Chief of the United States.
CONWAY: It`s not normal to be under not one but two FBI investigations.
TRUMP: The FBI has reopened its criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: He won`t release the tax returns so you can`t guarantee anything.
CONWAY: Is he under FBI investigation?
TAPPER: Is he under FBI investigation?
CONWAY: Is he under FBI investigation? Did he ask his housekeeper to print out National Security classified e-mails?
MARCO RUBIO, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM FLORIDA: Can this country afford to have a president under investigation by the FBI?
CONWAY: If you have people who are already questioning your veracity, questioning your fitness to lead, if you`re under your second FBI investigation in the same year, then you do have a problem, a corruption and ethics problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Hillary Clinton`s former Campaign Manager Robbie Mook. Your reaction?
MOOK: You know, look. It is really easy to jump into a big vat of sour grapes here and have a field day. I don`t want to do that. I think the -
HAYES: You want to do that a little bit.
MOOK: I want - you know, it is tempting. It is tempting. I will admit it but, look, and actually the part that you didn`t talk about there, was that we were out there in July also saying that this might have taken place.
HAYES: Yes. Let me play that. This is - this is you on July 24, 2016. This is right after - people forget sort of the timeline of this, right? The DNC gets hacked and it doesn`t show up on WikiLeaks first, it shows up this DC Leaks -
MOOK: Guccifer, yes.
HAYES: - Guccifer, and it`s actually really hard to read and sort and all these things and here`s you talking July 24, 2016. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOOK: What`s disturbing to us is that we - experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these e-mails and other experts are now saying that they are - the Russians are releasing these e- mails for the purpose of actually helping Donald Trump. I don`t think it`s coincidental that these e-mails were released on the eve of our convention here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That holds up pretty well, I will say.
MOOK: Yes. It does, it does. Look, this happened. You know, what all the evidence was telling us, what the campaign said for many, many months happens. The Russians did break in, steal this information to hurt Hillary Clinton. I think the other piece that`s not getting talked about, it`s not so much that it was to help Donald Trump, they were punishing Hillary Clinton. She was outspoken against Vladimir Putin for his terrible record on human rights so that`s why -
HAYES: In fact, he thought that - he accused her of meddling in the Russian election -
HAYES: - based on comments he made in the run up to an election that happened there.
MOOK: That`s absolutely right. He blamed her for the protests that happened after that election which everybody thinks was rigged. And the reason why that`s important is that if we allow foreign powers, whenever a politician speaks out against them, to come into our election process and punish them, think about the consequence.
HAYES: Right. But I want to stay on Comey here for a second because this strikes me as not just in the past sour grapes. This is the same individual, OK? So the same individual who was overseeing a - knew he was overseeing a counterintelligence investigation. I mean, the Director of the FBI sure as heck knew a counterintelligence investigation had been opened into one of the two campaigns. What does it say about his judgment and whether he can be trusted right now the fact that not only did he get - write that letter but nothing - felt no need to inform the public about what was happening there?
MOOK: I think Comey was in a very difficult situation. He had been instructed by Congress to come back and update if anything in the case changed. He had somebody come to him and say "there`s some new e-mails." I think he sat there in his office and said, "well, gosh, if I keep this hidden after the election somebody may come back and say I was trying to help Hillary Clinton." Now -
HAYES: Well, he had to go before a hearing yesterday and essentially do - functionally the same.
MOOK: Right. And he was given permission to do that. I think the point here is you`ve got to be consistent. If you sent the letter on Hillary, you should have sent a letter on Trump. I would argue he shouldn`t have sent a letter on anyone. That would have hurt him. That would have hurt him. But this is the point -
HAYES: For the record, I think that`s the correct answer, right?
MOOK: Yes. I obviously do as well. But here`s the point, when you become Director of the FBI, sometimes you got to take a hit for justice to be carried out. I don`t think justice was carried out. I think he made the wrong choice and I think that protocol on this has got to be tightened up in the future so this never happens again.
HAYES: So Harry Reid actually in October 30th tried to basically - tried to even the scales. He wrote this letter saying, you know, "it became clear you possess explosive information about ties between in coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers and the Russian government. Public has the right to know. A lot of people thought, "oh, Harry Reid -
HAYES: - you know what he said about Mitt Romney`s tax returns," that holds up well too. Here`s my final question to you. As you - there are people on the left, there are people in the democratic party who feel that the Russia stuff has become an obsession, it has become a distraction and it has become an excuse. That voters care about things like Healthcare, they care what`s happening in their lives, they don`t care about all this and that the Clinton people are obsessed with it because it exculpates them for their own failures in the campaign. What do you say to those people?
MOOK: Well, what matters is the future and what we need to do is get to the bottom of what happens so that we put safeguards in place such that it never happens again. That does matter.
HAYES: That was my conversation with Robby Mook. Still to come, republicans may get the Supreme Court Justice they wanted but having backed a White House that`s now under FBI investigation, do they have regrets?
And ahead of the high-stakes vote on Trumpcare, the GOP`s last-ditch effort to throw money at the problem. More on that, coming up.
HAYES: When the Affordable Care Act was wending its way towards approval, Republicans took a great delight and umbrage in attacking the back room deals - most notably the one that came to be known as the cornhusker kick back which gave special treatment for Medicaid payments to Nebraska to get the vote of one democratic Senator Ben Nelson. Now republicans are once again outdoing democrats with a provision that will quite literally apply only to smaller upstate New York Counties in order to get the votes of some upstate New York Republican Congressmen. Those counties aren`t happy the New York State Funds medicate partially through property taxes. The new provision in the GOP Healthcare plan would exempt these counties from such a Medicaid-related property tax.
As Vox notes "the amendment would only apply to counties with fewer than five million people so the democrats in New York City would have to keep paying." Never mind the arguments about back room deals and never mind the GOP`s interest in allowing states to administer Medicaid with the maximal degree of latitude as they see fit. In this instance it`s the GOP reaching into a state and telling it what to do for the specific benefit of republican-controlled counties and for the specific purpose of getting the votes of a few republican lawmakers. As the bill marches forward, there`s a real question about whether this thing will pass and the stakes get bigger by the minute. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, will you call healthcare, Trumpcare? Is your name on it?
TRUMP: It could happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: President Trump at a bill-signing ceremony for NASA today indicating a willingness to have his name associated with the still-emerging GOP health care bill.
One thing is certain, the president is selling it hard, meeting with House Republican lawmakers today and reportedly telling them "I honestly think many of you, you will lose your seats in 2018 if you don`t get this done."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We had a great meeting. And I think we`re going to get a winner vote. We`re going to be - we`re going to have a real winner. It was a great meeting. They`re terrific people. They want a tremendous health care plan. That`s what we have. And there are going to be adjustments madebut we`ll get the vote on Thursday.
The speaker of the house is effusive about the president`s effectiveness in getting yes votes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) WISCONSIN: The president just came here and knocked the ball out of the park. He knocked the cover off the ball in explaining to our members how it`s important to unify. This is our chance and this is our moment. It`s a big moment and I think our members are beginning to appreciate just what kind of a rendezvous with destiny we have right here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: But Republican opponents of the bill in both Houses are telling a different story. Freedom Caucus member Congressman Justin Amash retweeting this, Amash says that even after the Trump pitch to members this morning, the House Freedom Caucus still has more than 22 no votes, enough to kill the bill. And Senator Tom Cotton released a statement saying he was still opposed to the bill. Right-wing interest groups continue to oppose the bill and plan to spend money on it, like this Club for Growth add which says that Ryancare doubles down on Obamacare.
There`s much in the plan for conservatives moderates and liberals to hate. With last minute changes the bill will establish a reserve fund at - of at least $75 billion for Americans between 50 and 64 without specifying how that would be administered.
It would repeal Obamacare`s taxes, overwhelmingly on the wealthy, a year earlier than originally planned. And it would allow work requirements in Medicaid.
The latest word from Senate Republicans is they plan on getting this done fast, at least the leadership does. Senate Majority Whip Jon Cornyn telling reporters if they pass, will pass it, and vowing it would be finished next week.
Joining me now, Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama.
Congressman, my understanding is you are as of today a no vote on this.
REP. MO BROOKS, (R) ALABAMA: That`s correct, Chris.
HAYES: OK. Here is the way that this is going down to the wire and I want you to convince me that it`s not the case which is this: Paul Ryan and the president are going to come down on you like a pile of bricks. They`re going to say if you don`t pass this you will destroy the president`s agenda. You will destroy our opportunity to get tax reform, et cetera. And ultimately you and your colleagues will roll over and you will pass this no matter what they do with the bill.
BROOKS: Well, neither the president nor the Speaker of the House have uttered those kinds of remarks to me. I think they understand that I am policy driven, and what they have to do is convince me that this legislation is in the best interest of America, and quite frankly I`m persuaded that this Republican health care bill, welfare bill, whatever you want to call it long-term is a detriment to the future of the United States of America, and until they come across with cogent arguments to the contrary I`m remaining a no.
HAYES: So, can you - this is - I`m glad you focused on policy here, because I`m having trouble understanding this portion of it. The House Freedom Caucus, people like yourself who identify as conservatives, I think identify as fiscal conservatives, raised objections to the bill. Leadership responded with a manager`s amendment, which includes $75 billion of entirely unspecified subsidy for 50 to 64-year-olds, and that is intended to win over conservatives such as yourself.
BROOKS: No, it`s not. That`s not going to affect my vote one iota. Expanding the welfare under what is the Republican Party`s largest welfare proposal in the history of the Republican Party is not a persuasive argument to me, because I look at both sides of the coin.
It`s one thing to be giving money out, but you have to come up with that money, too. So to the extent more welfare is going to be given under this Republican proposal, then you`re looking at even higher taxes or you`re looking premiums for those that are paying for insurance, or you`re looking at more borrowed money, which means greater deficits, larger debt and a quicker day in which we have that day of reckoning with an insolvency and bankruptcy of the United States of america.
HAYES: I should add one more element to that which is another change, which is to speed up when the tax cuts happen. So on both sides of the deficit ledger, right, they`re going to spend more, they`re also going to advance the tax cuts quicker. I mean, they are basically betting that all of the pronouncements by you and your colleagues about debt and deficit are essentially lies, they`re nonsense. You`re not serious about it. And you won`t be serious about it when you have to vote on Thursday.
BROOKS: When you have the Congressional Budget Office, the comptroller general of the United States of America and the Government Accountability Office all warning us in writing as they did a couple months ago in January that the current financial trajectory of the United States of America is unsustainable, which is accounting language for bankruptcy, you have to take that serious. And I do take it serious.
And if you look at what has happened in Puerto Rico recently, you look at Greece, you look at Venezuela and the throes that they are going to, the damage that`s being done to their country`s, their economy, and their people, you have to take that seriously. I do.
And you`re right on this, what is being done with this legislation is financially irresponsible and I`m not going to put our country in greater jeopardy of a debilitating insolvency and bankruptcy no matter who it is that asks me to do it.
So, here`s my question for you. Is the vote - and I would note for the record that I think there is some very crucial differences with, say, Puerto Rico or Greece where we have the dollar reserve currency, et cetera, bracketing that for a moment. Do you think that essentially Thursday`s vote is a test of the genuineness of Republican ideological conservative pronouncements about debt and deficit and fiscal sobriety and whether it`s ultimately a test of hypocrisy, which is to say does it reveal people that vote for this were pretending to care about a thing they didn`t really care for all those years?
BROOKS: Well, you might be getting more esoteric than I`m used to. So, Chris, please forgive me. But I do see it as a test vote...
HAYES: Congressman, you`re a sharp cookie.
BROOKS: ...as to who is really a conservative and who not. I see it as a test vote as to who is conservative in the House of Representatives and the Republican conference and who is a big government liberal Republican who runs as a conservative during campaign season, but governs as a liberal. We`ll find out.
HAYES: On the politics of this, the president has talking about going after Mark Meadows, who has sort of been whipping votes, what do you think about the idea that he would come after you, personally, the president of the United States, campaign against you, try to see you primaried if you vote no on this legislation on Thursday?
BROOKS: Well, there are always people that you alienate any time you cast a vote and also people you befriend any time you cast a vote. And it`s the cumulative effect of all these votes that cause different groups of people to support you or oppose you.
I`m going to do what I think is in the best interest of America. It really doesn`t make any difference to me who the people are asking me to do something, what counts is whether what they`re asking me to do is, in my judgment, in the best interest of my country. And I`m going to let the chips fall where they may in that regard, both here in Washington, D.C. and back at home when I campaigned for reelection.
HAYES: Congressman, I look forward to talking about this after the vote with you if it does, in fact, happen on Thursday.
Congressman Mo Brooks, it`s always a pleasure. Thank you.
BROOKS: Thank you.
HAYES: Still to come, why is Ivanka Trump in official White House meetings sitting next to Angela Merkel now getting an office in the West Wing? The unprecedented role of the first daughter ahead.
Plus, it`s one of President Trump`s favorite stories about himself, but that does not mean it`s true. That`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two right after this break.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, breaking the rules.
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TRUMP: We believe in two simple rules: buy American and hire American.
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HAYES: Just hours before the president declared hire American last night, news that Trump Winery, now run by the president`s son Eric Trump, is seeking permits to hire more foreign workers this season, something Trump also did at Mar-a-Lago this winter.
And as to buy American, that goes to a policy Trump brags about perhaps more than any other, a claim that simply isn`t true.
And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
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HAYES: In sharp contrast with his predecessor, President Trump has shown no interest in publicly discussing the details or minutiae of government policy, with one exception.
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TRUMP: You probably saw the Keystone Pipeline I approved recently, and the Dakota.
And very importantly, as I was about to sign it.
As I`m sitting there looking at the approval I said who makes the pipes for the pipeline?
And I`m reading the order I`m saying why aren`t we using American steel?
Who makes the pipe?
Well, sir, it comes from all over the world. Isn`t that wonderful? I said nope.
And these are big pipes, they must have to cut them bauds they`re so big I can`t imagine they take up so much room, I can`t imagine you could put that much pipe on ships. It`s too -- it`s not enough, it`s not long enough.
I say let`s put that little clause in.
Add a little sentence that you have to buy American steel.
And they said that`s a good idea. We put it in.
If they want a pipeline, they use our steel.
And they`re willing to do that, but nobody ever asked before I came along.
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HAYES: Only problem is, that claim is not true. The White House confirmed weeks ago that Trump will not require the Keystone Pipeline to use American steel, that Keystone is exempt from the buy American policy.
But you would not know that in Kentucky last night.
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TRUMP: And as I was signing it, I said "where are they getting the steel? Where?" And I said "you know what, if people want to build pipelines in the United States they should use American steel." That pipe is going to be manufactured right here.
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HAYES: Ivanka Trump, the president`s oldest daughter, is getting an office in the West Wing, a space, according to Politico, next to senior adviserDina Powell who was recently promoted to a position on the National Security Council.
Ivanka also will reporetedly receive classified information and a government-issued communication device, all this despite not having an official government job or title in the White House. In other words, she will not be bound by the government`s ethics rules.
In a statement yesterday, Ivanka said, quote, "while there is no modern precedent for an adult child of the president, I will voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees."
But because she is still listed on the Trump organization web site along with the president`s other two adult children as executive vice presidents of development and acquisition for the Trump Organization, there are very understandable concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
Since her father was elected president, Ivanka Trump helped set up a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, took part in a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that reporters were barred from attending.
There`s also concern that Ivanka could use White House access to promote her line of fashion and jewelry. In fact, a class action lawsuit from a retailer in San Franciscois essentially accusing her company of doing just that.
And recently, a fashion search engine that tracks online retail purchases found that from January to February of this year, Ivanka Trump sales increased 346 percent.
If this was Chelsea Clinton we were talking about, perhaps Republicans would be outraged, but right now, just like the active FBI investigation into the Trump campaign, Ivanka`s potential conflicts of interest join the long list of things Republicans are willing to overlook as long as they get their Supreme Court nominee confirmed. More on that next.
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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I think you`re a man of the law and I really want to congratulate the president to pick you. Quite frankly, I was worried about who he`d pick, maybe somebody on TV.
But President Trump could not have done better in choosing you. And I hope people on the other side will understand that you may not like him, I certainly didn`t agree with President Obama, but I understood why he picked Sotomayor and Kagan and I hope you can understand why President Trump picked Neil Gorsuch. I hope you`ll be happy with that, because I am.
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HAYES: South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham praising the president who, on the campaign trail, gave out Graham`s phone number and told supporters to try it for picking a Supreme Court nominee that makes him happy.
Joining me now, Hannah Smith, senior council for the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty and former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito; and Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center.
And let me begin with you, Hannah. That to me summed up the entirety of what I`ve seen from conservatives, which is this kind of Faustian bargain.
OK, we have a president who launches racist attacks against federal judges because their ethnicity makes them incapable of judging him, and attacks a federal judge who rules against his executive order, but we got our guy in Neil Forsuch. Is that a fair characterization?
HANNAH SMITH, BECKETT FUND FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: I think it is. And actually I think that people are very pleased with the pick that he made in Judge Gorsuch. And you know, Judge Gorsuch is a guy who has applied the law fairly to protect the religious liberty of people of all faiths, including Muslims, Native Americans and Jews.
HAYDES: But is there anything the president could do that would make the bargain not worth it? Is there a morning you`re going to wake up where some unbelievably sort of odious travesty of justice has occurred in which the president has Andrew Jacksoned and steam rolled over the Supreme Court and you think well, we got our Supreme Court justice but a lot of good it did us?
SMITH: I think that Judge Gorsuch is going to be an amazing associate justice.
HAYES: That is not a responsive answer. That is not a responsive answer.
SMITH: I think that he has a remarkable record on the Tenth Circuit of building consensus and having coalitions. And he has a unanimous record. When he has written a religious liberty decision for the Tenth circuit, 100 percent, 100 percent. No one has dissented from any religious liberty decision.
HAYES: I`m going to go meta here for a second. You`re a remarkable example of the effectiveness of McConnell`s strategy. McConnell strategy was we are going to deny a hearing for Merrick Garland in an unprecedented fashion and then we will use the vacancy as an inducement to get people in line behind Donald Trump who they might find personally odious, but particularly for institutional conservatives, people that clerked on the Supreme Court, people that emerged from the kind of like high powered legal circles that was an incredibly persuasive argument and you can see the quid pro quo, the reward is being paid off in Gorsuch.
JEFREY ROSEN, NATOINAL CONSTITUTION CENTER: It is.
People like my (inaudilbe) brother-in-law, Neal Katyal the former acting solicitor general introduced Judge Gorsuch and concluded the same thing, we really can`t believe what happened to Merrick Garland, this is just a disaster but if he had to pick someone, I`m glad it`s Gorsuch.
And the main thing with Gorsuch is Neal Katyal and I are confident that he would check Trump if push came to shove. That`s the main thing.
HAYES: Right. So this has become the sort of question about his independence.
I want to - can I express my frustration with the way the judicial theory of originalism is communicated in these settings.
Basically you end up with simplifying version of the constitution. You here, well it`s my job to apply the law. I just apply the law. I`m just me, I`m a humble empire, that`s of course the John Roberts metaphor. And I`m sitting there thinking well if it`s so clear, if it`s so crystal clear what the law is to apply, why do you need all your fancy degrees? Why do you have to go to all these fancy law schools? Why does everyone have to be so credentialed and be editor of the law review if it`s so clear what the law is?
The point is that it`s not clear. The point is that it`s actually difficult, right? Do you agree having clerked on the court, it`s hard? There are very hard cases.
SMITH: There are very hard cases that come before the Supreme Court, and there`s no easy answers.
HAYES: Right. And do you watch a hearing like that in which they say, "well, I just apply the law" as if that sentence embodies the fullness of what you do, a preposterously a reductive conception of what a judge does?
SMITH: Well, to be fair, though, I think what he`s really saying is, look, congress, it`s your job to make the laws. It`s my job to interpret them. And if you pass a law, then I`m bound to follow the law as you passed it so take your job seriously congress because I have to applyit.
HAYES: But that`s exactly the thing I`m talking about which is there`s an entire corpus of statutory interpretation and in fact what the law means is precisely what is at issue. It seems you end up in this unbelievably question-begging place when you make that argument.
ROSEN: But you know what`s great about these hearings, Judge Gorsuch said "it`s not simple." Senator Klobuchar was trying to say yes or no. And he said it`s complicated.
And he said look at the global positioning system case, look at the cell phone cases, we do have to translate the Fourth Amendment in light of new technologies. We have to ask what the framers talk about. Even Elena Kagan, all liberals agree. But then you have to take account of changes so you protect the same amount of privacy in the 21st Century as the framers took for granted in the 18th. That`s a kind of living originalism embodied by my hero justice Louis Brandeis. It`s beautiful to see Judge Gorsuch be a neo-Brandeisian and actually embrace the idea of constitutional translation.
HAYES: What do you think, it strikes me that he is benefiting from a number of things right now politically. One, I think he`s fairly charming in these personal settings. Two, he is credentialed in precisely the way people in the legal elite like their candidates for the Supreme Court to be credentialed, and three is there`s so much going on in the background and there`s a sort of limited capital for political fights you can almost sense Democrats not sinking their political capital into this fight.
ROSEN: That`s true. But these are substantive questions. So I thought Klobuchar, Coons, Franken, all of them were really pressing him on precisely the questions you`re talking about. What about the areas where Justice Scalia betrayed his originalism? Do you accept these cases? And then Gorsuch countered with cases where Scalia`s political and constitutional views diverged.
This is not kabuki theater. Let`s all go back and read the transcripts, viewers, and actually educate ourselves about this constitutional seminar that`s unfolding.
I think the Democrats are giving him tough questions, he`s giving back as good as he can, but we`re really seeing the difference in constitutional interpretation.
HAYES: A justification of the good faith of the enterprise which is something you rarely hear, Hannah Smith and Jeffrey Rosen. Thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.
As I`m sure you know by now today is the day my new book "A Colony in a Nation" is officially out. In fact, it`s a little about criminal justice and what the founders thought about criminal justice, how we got the fourth and fifth amendment.
Vanity Fair released another excerpt you can check out online. And my book tour now in full swing. I will be in Boston tomorrow, Philadelphia on Thursday and then Saturday I head to Los Angeles for a bunch of events on the west coast next week. All of the details are, of course, on our Facebook page. Please check out the book, come say hi if you are in the area.
That`s All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.
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