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All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 3/31/2017

Guests: Denny Heck, Karoun Demirjian, Barton Gellman, Paul Butler; David Cay Johnston

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: March 31, 2017 Guest: Denny Heck, Karoun Demirjian, Barton Gellman, Paul Butler; David Cay Johnston CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  -- on the table.  So think back to Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, soothing us with the line, "we have nothing to fear but fear itself."  But this time with this President, don`t take fear off the table.  Fear itself may come in handy.  And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening from Chicago, I`m Chris Hayes.  24 hours after former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn offered to testify in exchange for immunity, the White House is in damage control on multiple fronts.  The ongoing investigations into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign and the month-long wild goose chase initiated by President Trump`s entirely unsupported claim that President Obama had wiretapped -- had him wiretapped, which is now raising questions about whether this White House is using classified information for political reasons.  First, following the claim by Michael Flynn`s lawyer that Flynn has a, quote, story to tell, it was the President himself who tweeted this morning, "Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt, excuse for big election loss, by media and Dems, of historic proportion."  But at the end of an Oval Office event today in which the President was ostensibly signing an executive order on trade, he walked out of his own office, leaving behind the executive order he had failed to actually sign and avoided answering a question about Flynn.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You`re going to see some very, very strong results very, very quickly.  Thank you very much.

Mr. President, today with your tweet were you trying to tell the Justice Department to grant immunity to Michael Flynn?  Were you trying to do that, Mr. President?  Was that your intention, Mr. President, Sir?  Mr. President, was that your intention, Mr. President?  Was that your intention, Sir?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Thank you, guys.


HAYES:  More on the Flynn story in a moment.  But today, signs we could be nearing the end of the ongoing saga of Trump`s claim he was wiretapped by President Obama in what appears to be an information laundering operation involving House Intel Chair Devin Nunes who made two trips to the White House last week.  First, to review certain classified information and then, the following day, to deliver that information, the same information, to the President himself.  There are now three White House officials reportedly involved in getting Nunes that information.  Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the Senior Director for Intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on National Security issues as first reported by the New York Times and others.  The third, as reported by the Washington Post,  is a top lawyer for the National Security Council, John Eisenberg.  Today White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer refused to answer any specifics on what he dismissively called process questions while insisting nothing was awry.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  Yes, it`s appropriate for a member of congress to contact someone who has contacted him according to some of these reports.  I don`t know the answer to that, but if you`re asking me is it appropriate for a member of congress to come over here, as Chairman Nunes has said himself, he wasn`t hiding or roaming.  He was asked to come over here by an individual, he came over, which happens daily.  He was asked to go somewhere, he went there.  He was cleared, and nothing that is inappropriate.  Other -- exactly the opposite.  What he did, what he saw, and who he met with was 100 percent proper.  He actually briefed the press before he told anyone.  We all found out, you, me, everyone else, that he was coming down here after he held a press conference with your colleagues to say he was coming down here based on stuff that he had found that didn`t have to do with Russia, that a whistle-blower source had given him.


HAYES:  Bear in mind that just eight days ago, Sean Spicer said the very scenario that has subsequently been revealed did not pass the smell test.


SPICER:  I don`t know what he actually briefed the President on, but I don`t know why he would come up to brief the President on something that we gave him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That`s why it was confusing to many of us.

SPICER:  Right.  I don`t know that that make sense.  I did not sit on that briefing.  I`m not -- it just doesn`t -- so I don`t know why he would travel -- brief the Speaker and then come down here to brief us on something that we would have briefed him on.  It doesn`t really seem to make a ton of sense.  So I`m not aware of it, but it doesn`t really pass the smell test.


HAYES:  Today was a day in which the documents that Chairman Nunes reviewed were made available to other House and Senate Intel Committee members.  Thus the ranking members of the House Intel Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, went to the White House grounds today, presumably to the same secure location Chairman Nunes have gone to more than a week ago.  And while Schiff said "he could not discuss the content of the documents he reviewed today," he released a statement which reads in part, "nothing I could see today warranted a departure from the normal review procedures and these materials should now be provided to the full membership of both committees.  The White House has yet to explain why senior White House staff apparently shared these materials with but one member of either committee, only for their contents to be briefed back to the White House."  Joining me now, Congressman Denny Heck, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.  Congressman, the ranking member, Adam Schiff, basically says nothing I saw today changes the protocol.  Did the developments of this day change your opinion on how anything has gone down?

DENNY HECK, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM FROM WASHINGTON:  So, Chris, I`m reminded of one of my favorite lines from all of English language literature from Alice Through The Looking Glass.  Things just keep getting curiouser and curiouser.  I`m also getting psychic whiplash at the revelation by day then by hour.  Now, I guess I have two reactions, the first to President Trump vis-a-vis his tweet encouraging General Flynn to be granted immunity is mama`s wisdom.  Careful what you wish for, Mr. President.  Careful what you wish for.  And secondly with respect to Chairman Nunes` behavior, frankly I think there`s a good part of this that it is just a giant distraction from the issue at hand.  I`m going to remind everybody what we should be focusing on.  The charge of our investigation is to get at the truth behind the degree to which if there were Trump operatives coordinating and colluding with agents on behalf of the Russian government in the interference of the 2016 election.  That`s what we should stay focused on, Chris.

HAYES:  You know, there has been a fairly explicit attempt by the White House and their allies and I would even count the Chair of your committee among them to shift attention away from what you just said towards the way that we know what we know.  That is to say leaks.  That is to say properly improper unmasking within the raw intelligence product itself.  Are you concerned about that, or do you consider that to be a distraction as well?

HECK:  So my advice to Chairman Nunes, if he were ever to ask me, is crack open a history book and turn to the page entitled "Watergate."  And remember that it`s the underlying crime that often doesn`t get you.  It`s the cover-up.  In all of these efforts to distract or to divert people`s attention aren`t going to work because as we sit here today, we have the Federal Bureau of Investigation, we have the Senate, we have the House, and frankly here`s one nobody talks about that I think very well may have been -- have undertaken of late, and that`s some local prosecutors.  For example, in New York where some of this activity took place.  There are a lot of people after the truth here.  So they can attempt to distract all they like, but it`s not going to work.

HAYES:  I want to read you this letter from Congressman Elijah Cummins to the White House council down again and to Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, he`s the National Security Adviser.  Over the past two days, press accounts have reported that staff who work directly for you contacted representative Devin Nunes, secured his entry into the White House Complex on March 21st, 2017, and provided him with access to classified information which then conveyed to the President the following day.  I`m writing to request information on whether you both were aware of these actions.  Do the reports about these individuals accessing this information prompt concern in you about how the White House is using their access to classified info?

HECK:  Well, that`s at the end of a very long line of my concerns about how the President`s dealing with the National Security apparatus altogether.  And it starts with this installment of a completely unqualified gentleman named Steve Bannon on the NSC.  He has no foreign policy experience, no national defense security experience whatsoever.  And so, this doesn`t surprise me at all.  It permeates from his general approach, and frankly his lack of regard for the Intelligence Community.

HAYES:  All right.  Congressman Denny Heck, thank you for your time tonight.

HECK:  You`re welcome.

HAYES:  And joining me now, Karoun Demirjian, she`s a Washington Post Political Reporter and Barton Gellman, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist and Senior Fellow at Century foundation, latest piece, Is The Trump White House Spying On The FBI.  And Bart, let me start on that with that on you.  Because I think the operating principle or the operating assumption a lot of us have had is there was a fishing expedition done into the raw intelligence by the White House as a means of reverse-engineering some plausible kernel of a basis for this wildly unsupported claim by the President.  It was then given to Nunes.  You sort of floated an alternate theory about what these individuals might have been doing inside that intelligence.  What is that theory?

BARTON GELLMAN, THE CENTURY FOUNDATION SENIOR FELLOW:  Well, it`s really a question.  I don`t have a basis to say it is happening, but it fits the known facts as well as anything else.  The idea is that if they are seeking information in the intelligence collection world, they have this concept called reverse-targeting.  You want to -- you want to actually spy on an American, so you pick some foreigners that that American might be talking to and spy on them.  They might have been looking for finish reports that it have to do with espionage on foreign targets whom the Trump transition might have plausibly been talking to.  Why is it that they found -- if they`re -- if they`re just looking randomly through thing --

HAYES: Right. 

GELLMAN:  How is it they found Trump campaign officials or the President himself in there?  And the theory is that they`re looking to see what sort of stuff is turning up in these intercepts that might be of use to the FBI.  And by the way, that wouldn`t work very well if you actually want to get inside the FBI investigation, but in their shoes, if you were willing to bend the rules a little, it might be the thing to do.

HAYES:  Karoun, it strikes me that if the -- if the desire of the White House is to put this fire out or to minimize it or to starve it of oxygen, it`s precisely the opposite that`s happening right now.  It just -- it seems to be in terms of the amount of attention it`s demanding on Capitol Hill, the amount of headlines it`s generating, it just gets bigger and bigger.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL REPORTER:  Yes.  And it`s this drip, drip, drip of information that they`re first kind of denying, then acknowledging, and then adding to and we find out a little bit more that other people were involved that is adding to this tension.  Of course each time there`s some sort of obfuscation of what really happened that reporters then expose.  The distrust builds within the House Intelligence Committee, and you saw that get to such a fever pitch this week that basically all of theirs.  At least their Russia-focused operations ground to a halt effectively.  So, yes, I mean, at first it was no comment about the source and that we didn`t know where he`d gone.  Then we find out it`s the White House grounds.  Now it seems to be involving fairly senior members of the White House National Security apparatus and that keeps raising questions about what else -- who else may have been involved, where else may this go?  Because it seems like with each step, there`s something else that they`re not necessarily being very forthcoming about.

HAYES:  You know, Bart, you`re a veteran reporter on issues in this space, and I remember reading your incredible Cheney biography, The Angler, which is incredibly well sourced.  But it strikes me that part of what makes this so strange is we -- it seems like we learn everything.  You know, everything leaks eventually.  So eventually it leaks that Nunes was at the White House, and then eventually it leaks the actual names of individuals at play.  Is this normal that we learn everything or seemingly learn everything so quickly?

GELLMAN:  It`s not normal.  I`m not doing the front-line reporting that Karoun and Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller and our colleagues at the Post are doing, but I`m astounded to read these stories that say, you know, 14 White House sources and people close to the President said yesterday.  You just didn`t get that kind of thing in previous administrations, and it`s not because the President is fine with leaks or eager to have his inner deliberations portrayed.  It`s because people are worried about him.

HAYES:  Karoun, can you tell me how this -- how you think this will resonate on Capitol Hill in the following way.  It is largely gone along partisan lines at least in the House.  The Senate has sort of given a more bipartisan posture.  But you do wonder at a certain point if we`ll see republicans start to get uneasy the more this dominates.

DEMIRJIAN:  I mean you`ve already seen that to a slight extent.  When the - - this all started last week when Chairman Nunes came out and did brief the press and then the President and then the press about this trip that we didn`t know at that point was to the White House grounds.  You did hear John McCain come out and say, look, this is getting past the point of what`s reasonable.  Congress can`t do this by itself anymore.  It doesn`t have credibility.  We need to pass this off to a select committee or an independent commission, something that`s outside and independent that won`t get wrapped up in this political firestorm anymore.  And then, this past week you heard Charlie Dent, now grant to use a fairly moderate republican from Pennsylvania, but he also said "look I think the Senate at least has to take the lead on this because the House is losing its credibility.  It`s just such a mess."  And so you see the first cracks, I suppose, in the GOP.

HAYES:  Yes.

DEMIRJIAN:  Of course you`ve got the leadership in the House especially rallying around Nunes saying they think he`s doing 100 percent great job.  You hear that from his republican members of the intelligence committee too, and most of the GOP senators I`ve tried to talk to in the last week are just not wanting to talk about this at all or touch it with a 10-foot pole.  I don`t know if that actually leads you to the point where the republicans say it`s going to go to a select or independent sort of body because that would take it out of the hands of the Senate Intelligence Committee too, but there`s definitely unease that`s starting to fray in the GOP.

HAYES:  All right.  Karoun Demirjian and Barton Gellman, thank you, both.

GELLMAN:  Thank you.

DEMIRJIAN:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Still to come, reports that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is shopping around his testimony about alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia all in exchange for his immunity. but so far no one seems too interested.  Are there any takers after this two-minute break?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Since you`ve talked to the President about this, he was not trying to suggest to the FBI or the Justice Department that it grant immunity.

SPICER:  I think he was asking -- I`m not entirely sure of the process of whether congressional -- the congress does it or DOJ or both in this case.  But the point that --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Any other venue --

SPICER:  I get it, but the --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It would be different.

SPICER:  Right, I understand.  Right.  But the bottom line is --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He`s not instructing his Justice Department to do this?

SPICER:  No, what he is instructing is Mike Flynn to do everything he can to cooperate with the committees that he`s asked to look into this.


HAYES:  White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to explain today why the President of the United States was tweeting this morning about reports that his ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn requested immunity from the Justice Department and Congressional Committees to testify about his contacts with Russia.  Quote, "Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt, excuse for big election loss by media and Dems of historic proportion."  Spicer also struggled to explain why the President referred to the three ongoing Russia investigations being carried out by the Senate, the House, and the FBI under his own Justice Department as a, quote, "witch hunt".  Two congressional sources told NBC News the Senate Intelligence Committee has rejected Flynn`s immunity request.  One official saying it was wildly preliminary and immunity was not on the table at the moment.  A top democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, said in a statement "it`s too early in the process to consider Flynn`s request", adding, quote," we should first acknowledge what a grave and momentous step it is for a former National Security Adviser to the President of the United States to ask for immunity from prosecution."  I`m joined now by Paul Butler, Law Professor at Georgetown University and a former Federal Prosecutor.  And let me start with that, Paul.  It does seem like a big deal, and it also seems really anomalous the way that this is being floated.  Am I right that this isn`t usually how it goes down?

PAUL BUTLER, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR:  Not at all.  So let`s remember the facts here.  Michael Flynn lied to the Vice President of the United States.  If he told the same lie to the FBI, he`s guilty of a federal crime.  It wouldn`t be that hard to prove.  So he`s now saying, I want to snitch so that I can save my own butt, and he`s made this suggestion to apparently these three committees that are investigating him, the House, the senate, and also the FBI.  So it is kind of preliminary.  The only way this works out for him is if he can deliver up a bigger fish.  But that`s very difficult because he was the National Security Adviser of the United States.  There`s not a whole lot of bigger fish he can deliver unless we`re talking the Vice President or the President of the United States.

HAYES:  And just to be clear, I mean, normally the way this works, right, in a sort of prosecutorial setting, right?  And if we put aside the committees, is there`s something called a proffer, right?  I mean, no one just gives blind immunity to someone until they hear what they actually have to say, that it`s good enough to justify the immunity, correct?

BUTLER:  That`s right.  So you want to make sure the information is reliable and that it`s useful.  Again, useful means that it helps make a case against somebody who is even more attractive target than the person who is immunized.  You want to make sure it`s reliable, that is, the person is trustworthy.  Again, this is a guy who has lots of baggage.  So I`m not sure even if he turns state`s evidence and offered information about someone else, that a jury would credit it all that much because, again, he`s got a lot of explaining  to do himself.  But the way it works is we used to call it queen for a day.  Because the subject comes in even before he`s immunized, he`s subject to this intense interrogation by the FBI and prosecutors, again, trying to make sure he`s actually got the goods.  If he does, he comes in.  Queen for the day.  Whatever he says can`t be used against him.  So they spill their guts.  Doesn`t mean you can`t eventually prosecute them, but you have to prove that nothing they said when they were immunized --

HAYES:  Right. 

BUTLER:  -- you use in your prosecution.  So that`s a tough standard.  So if he gets this immunity, and we`re a long way away from that.  But if he gets that, that means that he could never be prosecuted.

HAYES:  There`s a -- there was a piece written for Justice Security I thought was interesting and it was talking a sort of speculating in an informed manner about what he may or may not have.  And he`s got exposure on a bunch of different levels, right, because there`s the retroactive registration as a foreign agent.  There`s possible there`s some questions about his SF86, the talking to the FBI.  So it said, "if he had something good, Flynn and his lawyers would approach the prosecutors quietly, go through the proffer process you just described in confidence and reach a deal.  Why?  Because prosecutors have an interest in keeping their investigations secret and Flynn`s lawyers know that.  The last things Flynn`s lawyers would do if they thought he had the goods would be to go public." So the idea here is that they`re trying to essentially trick one of the committees into offering immunity to give him some sort of protection later down the road.

BUTLER:  And here`s why that`s not going to work.  Because of these committees, these congressional committees coordinate with the FBI, and the FBI has first bite because that`s a criminal investigation.  You know, one of the weird things today about President Trump`s tweet was when he suggested that the FBI was part of this witch hunt.  It`s hard to think that the FBI is -- and especially Director Comey, is a democratic operative.  I think Hillary Clinton would have a thing or two to say about that.

HAYES:  All right.  Paul Butler, thank you for your time.

BUTLER:  Great to be here.

HAYES:  Coming up, the cloud of suspicion only continues to grow over the White House.  But will any of this have any impact on President Trump himself or only the people around him?  David Cay Johnston on the shades of Watergate and Iran-Contra in the Trump White House ahead.



OLIVER NORTH, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS FORMER LIEUTENANT COLONEL:  Despite my very strong desire to provide congress with my recollection of the facts pertaining to this matter, counsel has advised me that I should avail myself of the protections provided by that same constitution that I have fought to support and defend.  I intend to follow that advice exactly.


HAYES:  During President Ronald Reagan`s second term, it was revealed his administration sold arms to Iran in order to fund a right-wing militant group in Nicaragua. It was a scandal that transfixed Washington and the nation and damaged Reagan`s credibility or as the Washington Post pointed out at the time, it was a grand scheme that violated American law and policy all around.  After three investigations and a televised congressional hearing, prosecutors brought charges against several members of Reagan`s administration, including Reagan`s national security adviser Admiral John Poindexter and his Deputy, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North.  North was the pivotal figure in all of this.  He lied under oath and destroyed evidence related to the illegal sale of arms to Iran.  These were and still are crimes, but North didn`t go to prison.  As Vox points out, in all likelihood that`s because a joint House-Senate Investigative Committee, deeming North`s information vital to the public interest granted him immunity before the FBI could fully build its case.  It appears that Michael Flynn may be looking to accomplish something similar.  As we said earlier, the Senate Intelligence Committee has turned down that request for immunity in exchange for testimony.  Political observers have been quick to equate the Trump campaign`s potential ties to Russia with Watergate, but it seems possible the more comparable scandal just might be a Iran-Contra.  We`ll talk about that next.



NORTH:  I sincerely believe that I did everything within the law.  I made serious judgment errors, and I have admitted those, but I tried, and I don`t regret having done it.


HAYES:  That was lieutenant colonel Oliver North during his public hearings on the Iran-Contra scandal, where he was granted immunity in exchange for that testimony.  Joining me now, David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning Reporter, who`s now a Columnist for the Daily Beast and the author of the Making Of Donald Trump.  Now, David, you said something the other day when there was initial reporting about the possibility of immunity being extended that serious investigators would of course never rule out immunity because that`s how you roll people over and get them to talk.  But of course, the Oliver North precedent shows the tricks and traps that may come with that in the case of congressional committees, right?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, THE DAILY  BEAST:  That`s right. You can`t contaminate a  subsequent prosecution.  And my point was that if someone wants immunity, you want to hear what they and their attorney want to tell you, even to the point of what`s called a proffer, as you mentioned earlier in the show.  But you don`t want to do it early.  You don`t want to do it when you don`t know all the facts.  Basically you want the person granting immunity to either confirm something you already know but couldn`t otherwise prove, or they`re going to tell you something in the proffer that, you know, you wouldn`t have known but for them.

HAYES:  Right.

JOHNSTON:  And it`s early for this to happen, but it`s really revealing that General Flynn of all people is doing this. 

On the other hand, he`s subject to a lot of leverage.  He was in the pay of the Turkish government.  He was in the pay of Vladimir Putin`s government.  And he lied about what he did.

So the FBI has plenty of leverage over him to find out what happened.

HAYES:  Now, Flynn, just to be specific there, you mean the payment from RT, which is of course a state-backed broadcaster that we know he`s on the record getting--


HAYES:  Yeah.

So in terms of the Iran-Contra parallel, it`s sort of an interesting one to consider for a number of reasons.  But the two that come to mind are, one, you have sort of collusion with a foreign government  In this case it was two different sort of foreign entities in a remarkably complexscheme, and it`s amazing they pulled it off.

And, two, you know, there`s always a degree to which how far this got up to the president.  In the case of what`s happening here, we were talking about principals sort of swirling around Donald Trump and nothing obviously has been established yet, but those sort of characteristics seem to be in place at least initially.

JOHNSTON:  Well, Flynn was part of a very small, closely knit group of people who were with Trump very early on.  Remember, Trump announced on June 16 of 2015, almost two years ago.  And Flynn was right in there close with him in the beginning.

Donald`s connections with Russian oligarchs go back many years, and lots and lots of business deals, failed deals, deals that looked like payoffs or bank scams that raised questions about his involvement I think at a much more substantial level than we had about whether Ronald Reagan sort of said, well, do what you need to do, or I don`t want to hear about things as opposed to what`s going on here with Donald Trump.

HAYES:  And in that case also, I mean it`s noteworthy that part of what, in terms of the trajectory of Iran-Contra, right, you actually did get to one of these special committees eventually, the sort of famous testimony that we all remember wasn`t just the normal standing intelligence committees in the House and Senate side, but actually one convened particularly to investigate this.

JOHNSTON:  Right.  And the same thing applies here.  You know, Watergate took two years to play out.  Iran-Contra took, as I recall, more than a year.  And we need to have here several different investigations. We need the FBI, criminal and counterintelligence investigations.  And I can`t believe I`m saying we have a president of the United States who is the focus of a criminal and counterintelligence investigation.

But we also need to have a select committee, and I believe that that select committee should have subpoena power for both the committee chairman and the ranking member.

HAYES:  Right.

JOHNSTON:  As well as whatever size staff of investigators they need, the taxpayers can afford the cost because we need to know the answers here, and we need seasoned people who know how to negotiate things like immunity deals so that we get the truth and we get the right people who are responsible for what happened.

HAYES:  All right.  David Cay Johnston, thanks.

JOHNSTON:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Ahead, the White House put Chicago in the crosshairs again.  We`ll show you how coming up.  Plus, Trump University returns to the headlines in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two right after this break.


HAYES:  Thing One tonight, a federal judge gave final approval today for a $25 million settlement payment from President Donald Trump to class action fraud lawsuits brought against the now defunct Trump University, which was owned by Donald Trump.  The lawsuit claimed the for profit seminar program made false promises and used high-pressure sales techniques to swindle thousands of dollars out of its students.

The settlement means the nearly 4,000 students who joined the lawsuit will recoup about 90 percent of what they spent, but Trump will not have to admit wrongdoing or apologize.

Trump first agreed to the $25 million settlement in November shortly after the election.  We went back and watched the promotional videos for Trump University and noticed that Trump`s promises and sales pitch might now sound familiar to Americans at-large.

That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES:  Donald Trump is paying $25 million to settle a lawsuit over Trump University in which students claimed they were cheated out of thousands of dollars, but Trump`s sales pitch failed this failed endeavor sounds like a sales pitch he`d use later.


TRUMP:  At Trump University, we teach success.  That`s what it`s all about -- success.  It`s going to happen to you.

You`re going to have wins and wins and wins.  You`re going to get sick of winning.

We`re going to teach you about business.  We`re going to teach you better than the business schools are going to teach you.

Everybody is going to be taken care of much better than they are taken care of now.

It`s going to be less expensive, and I think it`s going to be a better education.

It will be great health care for much less money. 

We`re going to have professors and adjunct professors that are absolutely terrific.

I have the best people.  I have the best people.

Terrific people, terrific brains.  We are going to have the best of the best.

We had an amazing team of talent.  And by the way, General Flynn is right over here.  Put up your hand, Mike.  What a good guy.

Above all, it`s about how to become successful.

And you`ll say please, please, it`s too much winning.  We can`t take it anymore.

AS I said before, you`re going to love it, because if you don`t love it it`s never, ever going to work.



HAYES:  It`s been a busy few weeks out on the road for my new book A Colony in a Nation. I`m back in New York next week.  But tomorrow I`m in Skokie, Illinois.  Tonight, I`m in Chicago.  Full details are on our Facebook page.

Now, the last time I was here in Chicago, we`d just finished taping our town hall special on this city, a city that the president of the United States has turned into a rhetorical punching bag.  Today, his press secretary went even further, conflating the gun violence roiling the city with Chicago`s status as a, quote, sanctuary city.


SPICER:  I think it would be interesting to want to send more money to a city that is allowing people to come into the country who are breaking the law, who in many cases are committing crimes, member of gangs.  And so you can`t be a sanctuary city and at the same time seem to portend, or express concern about law enforcement or ask for more money when probably a number of the funds that you`re using in the first place are going to law enforcement to handle the situation that you`ve created for yourself.


HAYES:  You`ve created for yourself.

Statements like that aside, there is a real surge of violence in Chicago, and thousands of residents suffering from the effects of living with that trauma.

Our reporter, Trymaine Lee, reported on this during our town hall.  And tonight he goes back to Chicago to stay on this story for us.  His special report next.


HAYES:  Take a look at this map compiled by the Chicago Tribune.  This is just a few blocks of a neighborhood on the west side of Chicago.  And those blue dots represent the people who have been shot in that neighborhood in just the first three months of this year, 12 people shot in those couple  of blocks alone.

When you start to widen out the map, the sheer cope of the violence in Chicago becomes apparent.  You begin to get an idea for what it means to live in these neighborhoods.  731 people shot just since the beginning of this year alone.

Most shootings in the west and southside of Chicago intensely concentrated in a massive city.  It`s a city with thousands of people who are surrounded by shootings, who know someone who has been shot, who have lost loved ones, friends and family and who live every single day with the trauma of that as well as the trauma of the constant threat of violence.

Last month, we came here for a town hall to hear from the people who live here about what they are going through.  And it, of course, barely scratched the surface of this complicated city.  But there were remarkable moments from ordinary citizens living in extraordinary conditions.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  People just being hopeless  right now.  Like no other opportunities for them.  No jobs.  No mental health.  I know I have PTSD, it`s just off the -- off the charts.  And there`s just no help for us in this city.


HAYES:  PTSD.  She`s not alone.  So many people at that town hall are suffering the effects of trauma, like Rachel Williams, who had just lost two loved ones to gun violence.


RACHEL WILLIAMS, CHICAGO RESIDENT:  You`re sitting up here looking at a neighborhood and saying, like, why is the crime rate high?  Why is this happening?  But then you see no jobs, no education, but barely holding on.  And then you see no -- when we talk about it, we talk about food justice as well.  All of those are major components that come into the violence that happens here.


HAYES;  We taped that interview in our town hall on a Thursday.  It aired the next day on Friday.  And on Saturday, Rachel Williams lost another loved one to gun violence, this time it was her 11-year-old cousin Takia Holmes (ph), killed by a stray bullet right in front of her 3-year-old brother and her mother, leaving yet another Chicago family traumatized.

Our Trymaine Lee visited that family and others for this report on Chicago, a city in trauma.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You`re hearing gunshots that sounded like you know how light a pack of firecrackers and somebody dropped them by your feet, that`s how close they sounded.  And on the very last shot, the window shatters.

When the bullet hit, she didn`t make a sound, a whimper, a cry.  She didn`t say anything, that`s why I didn`t know she was hit.  It`s just a split second.  I wake up every day thinking, hoping it`s a dream, but it`s not.  It`s one month.  I have not heard my daughter`s voice, been able to touch her, see her dance across my floor, it`s just so many things.

TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Nakia Williams (ph) lost her 11-year- old daughter a month ago on Chicago`s southside.  Takia (ph) and her 3- year-old brother were in the minivan with mom outside the dry cleaners when she worked when Takia (ph) was struck and killed by a stray bullet.  Her son Jakari (ph) still searches for his big sister.

Your 3-year-old was there and witnessed all this. Have you seen a change in him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  A dramatic change.  Difference.  His attitude, his behavior, everything is different.

I put him in counseling.  I have no choice, because I don`t know what`s going on in his head.  I don`t know what he`s thinking.

LEE:  Are we doing enough to address trauma in this city?


LEE:  Dr. Brad Stowback of the University of Chicago has spent more than 35 years treating trauma in kids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There`s a great need for all of us to say they`re so young that it didn`t really affect them.  It does affect them, and even very, very young children who don`t have a conscious memory that they can put into words of something they`ve been through, it`s in there and it does affect them.

They oftentimes feel like they`re going crazy because they`re having these reactions in their bodies that are like they`re back in that situation.  And they don`t necessarily put that together that that`s what`s happening

Much of the vinyl is really driven by untreated trauma.  Two of the ways that people often deal with that are to use substances, to manage their emotions and to wear weapons in order to feel safe.

Both of those things are going to increase the risk for them being harmed again or for them doing harm to somebody else.


LEE:  There are organizations that are trying to help traumatize families and communities in Chicago, but the sheer number of people needing help is staggering.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So, I`ve been with Chicago survivors since November of 2015.  And so since then I`ve been able to serve 153 families.

LEE:  153 families.


LEE:  That number seems enormous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It is, but it`s a reflection of what`s happening in our city.

LEE:  Jashon Hill`s (ph) brother murdered in 2008.  Now a family support specialist, she helps others heal.

When you go into these communities, is there a sense that everyone is traumatized in some way?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I mean, it`s hard to say that they are not, because it`s not like every time I do an assessment with someone that they don`t express to me that they`ve experienced some level of trauma.  It may not have been directly in the immediate family, but they know a friend, they know a neighbor, they know someone who is closely connected.  They may have been at their church. 

And post-traumatic stress disorder is -- I mean, it`s through the fabric of the urban community.

LEE:  There have been more than 700 shootings in Chicago this year alone, clustered mostly on Chicago`s south and west sides.

It feels like  everyone here has lost someone.

Do you feel like you`re traumatized?

LAWRENCE CAMPBELL, LOST HIS SONS:  It takes a toll on a person when things like that happen, you know, especially when your kids wasn`t bad kids, you know.  And something like that  happened, you know, it tears a whole in your heart.

LEE:  The Campbell`s have lived in this west Englewood neighborhood for 20 years.  They have raised three children here, a daughter and two sons.  They have lost both sons to gun violence.

Are there moments that are harder than other times?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  A whole a lot of them, yeah.  I see a lot of boys on the street resemble my children.  And that tears me up.  And when I see people doing things with their sons, that kind of gets me too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I feel like you have your good days and you have your bad days.  You have some days where you wake up and it`s like this is all you can think about.

LEE:  The Campbell`s worry constantly about raising a new generation of young black men in this city.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Like last night or the night before last, me and my son were sitting in the front room.  I told him -- he was sitting by the window.  And I was just like sit on the couch over there by the wall, you know, it`s just really small things.

LEE:  Do you feel restricted that you can`t move the way you want to move?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I feel enclosed and there is bad memories in the house.  I feel that I should go outside and play, but I can`t since  there`s violence outside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It`s just terrible.  I was like, the feeling that I have to be scared to walk to the store or go outside with my friends or go play basketball.

LEE:  Is it hard?


LEE:  What`s the hardest part?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, like I got to take care of my little sister and protect her.  And I know it`s going to be hard because in the streets it`s dangerous.  We just got to be safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I`m scared of everything.  any little noise makes me nervous.  That`s how bad it`s gotten,   Anything makes me nervous.

And I didn`t even used to be like that at all. I was not scared of nothing.  But now scared of everything.

GIRL:  Look at all the chairs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You always falling out the chair.

LEE:  One month after her 11-year-old daughter was killed, Nakia Williams (ph) fears for her young son growing up on the Southside of Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I feel like I got to get away.  I feel like I have to raise my son still. I have to get away.  None of this is right.  This can`t be life.  This is just, it`snot normal.


HAYES:  That was an extraordinary report from Trymaine Lee.  And Trymaine joins me now.  And, incredibly powerful,  Trymaine -- you know, Chicago gets talked about as this sort of national sound bite, invoked.  You`ve spent a lot of times for a book you`re working on and with us reporting on this.  What do you think is one of the biggest misconception is about violence and gun violence in Chicago.

LEE:  I think, Chris, there are a number of things.  I think it`s easy to dismiss these communities as bad neighborhoods, right.  Many of our viewers ourselves, we`ve said it many times.  These are bad neighborhood.

But oftentimes what we`re actually saying is these are bad people and bad things are supposed to happen to bad people in bad neighbors.  And I think when we think about the true toll of gun violence, we tend to think in terms of raw numbers and we do it in Chicago and across the country.  How many have been shot, how many have been killed.

But when you spend any amount of time in a community that is gun weary, we spent any time with a family who has lost a loved one, a child, a brother, a son to gun violence you realize there a calculation, that our math is way off.

In speaking to Nakia Williams (ph) and the Campbell family, it`s clear that there is a deep hole in them, you know, a piece that will never be filled.  And so those outside who think that they`re gangbangers and thugs and all of these epithets that we use to describe folks in these neighborhoods, there`s still something missing.

Now, Jashawn Hill, who works with Chicago Survivors, I think she framed it up perfectly.   Let`s take a listen to what she had to say.


JASHAWN HILL, CHICAGO SURVIVORS:  These are everyday people who are waking up just like me and you every morning trying to survive, going to work, taking care of their families, you know.  They`re concerned about their safety for their children just like anybody else would, but they have different layers of trauma that they have to deal with to just even experience everyday life. 

So when we think of them as thugs and, you know, Gang Bangers just doing all kinds of wild activity, and just violent, that is not the people who I`m seeing every day.  The folks who I see when I go in, everyday people who want access to a good life just like anybody else.


LEE:  You add to that, Chris, the great weight of the trauma, how it manifests itself, in anxiety, in anger, in depression, especially with young people whose brains are still actually forming.  Now you talk to scientists and researchers, they`ll say that repeated exposure to violence actually rewires your brain, right.  You`re always in this constant state of fight or flight.  So, you imagine trying to go to school, hold down a job.

You know, speaking of jobs, Nakia Williams` (ph) daughter, Takia (ph), was shot and killed in the parking lot of a dry cleaners where she worked.

Now, certainly she can never step foot on that ground again.  So, now she`s out of a job because she can`t go back.

So, she`s lost her daughter.  She`s trying to raise her 3-year-old son Jakari (ph).  Her employment is precarious now, right.  How do we begin to first acknowledge then address these issues of PTSD in so many people that are left untreated, let alone these are already resource starved communities, depleted communities.  And we should say that by many factors intentional, right?

So where do we go?  And this is -- having the opportunity to speak with so many folks, it`s clear we have a long way to go in addressing their deep sense of trauma and need.

HAYES:  Yeah, one of the things that struck me so thoroughly and you just sort of touched on this is just the trauma is an effect, the violence is the cause and the trauma is the effect, but it`s also the other way around, right, that the trauma itself is producing psychological effects in people that increases the possibility of violence, whether it`s substance abuse, whether it`s that sort of fight or flight hair trigger mode or carrying a gun because you`re freaked out and terrified because you`ve been the victim of violence.  I think that aspect of it seems so crucial to a solution.

Trymaine Lee, as always, your reporting is phenomenal.  Thank you so much.  I really appreciate it.

LEE:  Thank you.

LEE:  all right, that is All In for this evening.