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All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 4/4/2017

Guests: Adam Schiff, Ned Price, Dan Donovan, Christina Greer, Joan Walsh, Lawrence Wilkerson

Show: All in with Chris Hayes Date: April 4, 2017 Guest: Adam Schiff, Ned Price, Dan Donovan, Christina Greer, Joan Walsh, Lawrence Wilkerson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HARDBALL HOST: - winning coach to paid tribute to as his mentor. To North Carolina, Dean Smith was so much more, as the state itself can surely be so much more. I hold personally to the faith that the Tar Heel State will live up to that great example of that great man of tolerance and generosity. That`s all it needs to be perfect. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



HAYES: Susan Rice strikes back.

RICE: My job is to protect the American people and the security of our country.

HAYES: As the cloud hanging over the Trump campaign`s ties to Russia grows darker.

JOAQUIN CASTRO, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM TEXAS: People will probably be charged, and I think people will probably go to jail.

HAYES: Tonight, my exclusive interview with the ranking democrat on House Intelligence, Adam Schiff.

Plus the President`s latest hard right turn to try and sell Trumpcare 2.0.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated.

HAYES: And from selling your internet browser history -


HAYES: - to rolling back protections for women. How Trump`s America is taking shape faster than you know.

TRUMP: Would you like to make a change, folks?

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Amid a steady drip of news about Trump world`s connections to Russia and under the shadow of an unprecedented federal probe into possible collusion between a foreign adversary and the sitting President`s campaign, the White House and its GOP allies are in full change the subject mode. The new line is, the scandal is not what we know, it is how we know it. In a throwback to the Benghazi days, they`ve got a familiar scapegoat. President Obama`s former National Security Adviser Susan Rice.


RAND PAUL, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM KENTUCKY: I believe Susan Rice abused the system, and she did it for political purposes. She needs to be brought in and questioned under oath.

LINDSEY GRAHAM, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM SOUTH CAROLINA: In terms of political manipulation of national security information, Susan Rice, in my view, has done it in the past. When it comes to Susan Rice, you need to verify, not trust.

TOM COTTON, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM ARKANSAS: Susan Rice is the Typhoid Mary of the Obama administration foreign policy. Every time something went wrong, she seemed to turn up in the middle of it, whether it was these allegations of improper unmasking and potential improper surveillance, whether it was Benghazi.


HAYES: What is it that Susan Rice is supposed to have done? Well, republicans say she tried to access the names of U.S. individuals, caught up in intelligence surveillance, a process known as unmasking, and somehow abused her position for some nefarious political end. Is any of that true? Well, today in an exclusive interview with MSNBC`s Andrea Mitchell, Susan Rice got a chance to answer the allegations herself.


RICE: The allegation is that somehow Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes. That`s absolutely false.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Did you seek the names of people involved in - to unmask the names of people involved in the Trump transition, the Trump campaign, people surrounding the President-elect -

RICE: Let me begin -

MITCHELL: - in order to spy on them -

RICE: Absolutely -

MITCHELL: - in order to expose them?

RICE: Absolutely not for any political purposes, to spy, expose, anything. But let me -

MITCHELL: Did you leak the name of Mike Flynn?

RICE: I leaked nothing to nobody and never have and never would.


HAYES: In fact, buried down deep in one of those initial reports, where few people seemed to have noticed it was the concession that any of Rice`s unmasking requests were likely within the law. She had the power to do it. In her interview today, Rice explained the regular process for making those requests with the Intelligence Community. It would start with the I.C.`s daily intelligence report.


RICE: There were occasions when I would receive a report in which a U.S. person was referred to. Name not provided, just U.S. person. And sometimes in that context, in order to understand the importance of the report and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out or request the information as to who that U.S. official was. What I would do or what any official would do is to ask their briefer whether the Intelligence Community would go through its process - and there`s a longstanding, established process - to decide whether that information as to who the identity of the U.S. person was could be provided to me. So they`d take that question back. They`d put it through a process, and the Intelligence Community made the determination as to whether or not the identity of that American individual could be provided to me.


HAYES: If U.S. surveillance had picked up evidence of illicit communications between Russian actors and American individuals, Susan Rice might have been one of the U.S. officials to find out about it. And if she had, you can bet she`d have questions about which Americans were involved. But that basic set of assumptions does not add up to a scandal, and it`s worthwhile to recap what we actually know and what`s actually been established. One, since July, the FBI has been investigating the Trump campaign for possible ties to Russia, which waged a cyber-campaign to disrupt the 2016 election and aid Donald Trump. And, two, the President`s National Security Adviser was forced out a month into the administration for lying to the White House, the Vice President, the public about the nature of his contacts with the top Russian official in the United States. There, it seems, is your scandal. I`m joined now by the top democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, one of two congressional committees investigating any Trump ties to Russia, Congressman Adam Schiff of California. Congressman, Ken Dilanian, my colleague had this quote that I thought was interesting and made me think. He says, "non-partisan former senior Intel official to me just now on unmasking fake scandal. It`s like Iraq WMD: a theory in search of facts." What do you make of that?

ADAM SCHIFF, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM CALIFORNIA: Well, you know, it certainly is a theory in search of a villain and for whatever reason; the hard right has always chosen Susan Rice to be their villain. I think you heard some snippets about that today. I was dragooned into service on the Benghazi select committee. For two years, that committee`s purpose was to take down Hillary Clinton`s numbers. But one of the central figures the republicans went after and after and after was Susan Rice. And after two years they could find nothing that Susan Rice did wrong. In fact, the only thing Susan Rice did was go on Sunday morning shows and repeat what the Intelligence Committee best assessment of the early hours of Benghazi was. That was consistent with what we were hearing, what Susan Rice was hearing, and that`s all they could find, which was perfectly appropriate on her part. So what it is they have about Susan Rice that they like to go after her, I don`t know. But I do think you`re right in your summation at the outset. This is yet another attempt to distract attention from the Russia probe, which they obviously want to defer and deflect as much as they can.

HAYES: Now, you recently went to the White House after this long, complicated, sort of - it seemed to me, misdirection play by the Chair of your Committee, Devin Nunes, possibly sort of laundering information for the White House that was given to him. He then briefed the White House about all to maybe back up some kernel of some version of a tweet the President sent out about being, quote, "spied on or wiretapped." You`ve now gone and viewed documents that are classified, I imagine, but can you give us your reaction? Was it a, oh, yes, the President was right that he was wiretapped? Was it something else?

SCHIFF: You know, well, I can`t go into the contents of those documents, I can tell you I haven`t seen anything during the course of this investigation that backs up in any way, shape, or form, President Trump`s accusation against his predecessor, that his predecessor was illegally wiretapping him or even more broader allegation that he was surveilling him somehow. There`s no basis for that whatsoever. And, you know, the Wall Street Journal just reported and, again, I don`t know if this is accurate, but it would explain a lot of the skulduggery in the White House. They just reported that the White House itself generated these materials that they then wanted to share with the chairman alone and have the chairman report back to the White House. That would explain why Sean Spicer says it was in the ordinary course of business. Of course, there`s nothing ordinary about it unless the ordinary course of the White House business is trying to interfere in congressional investigations. But nonetheless, it`s the first time that anyone has reported that these documents were by and for the White House. And if that`s accurate, it would certainly explain a lot of why Sean Spicer and others in the White House were so desperate to hide their involvement.

HAYES: A colleague of yours, Congressman Castro, earlier today said that if he had to bet, he would bet that people will go to jail over the end result of the investigation that the FBI is conducting. Do you agree with that?

SCHIFF: Well, I`m not a betting man. The most I`m willing to say is we`re at the very early stage of the investigation. I don`t think any of us can tell where it will lead. And I don`t think we should pre-judge the outcome. We should instead dedicate ourselves to following the facts wherever they lead. So I`m not prepared to bet on any particular outcome. I just want to make sure that we get to the bottom of this.

HAYES: I want to ask you about Carter Page, an individual who has been often mentioned in reports as a subject of investigation because of his contacts with Russian - possibly Russian intelligence officials. There`s a story that he was a target of Russian spies for recruitment, passed them documents, BuzzFeed said. And today he responded and said, I didn`t want to be a spy, he said in an interview with ABC News. I`m not a spy. Is carter page someone that you guys are going to have come before the committee?

SCHIFF: You know, he`s certainly a person of interest, and I think at the appropriate time, we are going to want him to come before the committee. As has been reported, you know, prior to the report you`re referring to, he was in Moscow during the course of the campaign, and there are allegations by Christopher Steele that British former Intel officer that is reportedly held in high regard by U.S. Intel, that he had clandestine meetings there, was potentially offered a stake in this transaction involving Rosneft this massive Russian oil company. So we obviously want to get to the bottom of those allegations, find out whether there`s any truth to them. But at this point, I can`t comment on anything we may be learning privately.

HAYES: Are you confident - and this strikes me as the most important question at the heart of all this. With the steps the White House has taken to reach in, it appears, according to reports, reach into American intelligence apparatus to pull out selective bits of information to possibly feed to people. Can you be confident that the integrity of the counterintelligence investigation that we now know the FBI is undertaking can be protected and secure?

SCHIFF: Well, that really depends on the Director of the FBI to maintain the independence of that bureau and, even more importantly, to be proactive, not reactive and do everything possible to get to the bottom of these allegations. I think we can fully expect because, you know, one thing you can tell about this President, he is not going to change. He is who he is. So if they`re making efforts at the White House to interfere with our investigation, they`re going to continue to do that throughout the investigation. Whether they will, you know, risk doing that with the FBI, I don`t know. But we need to count on the bureau to maintain the integrity of that investigation, and I can assure you no matter what the White House throws at us, we`re going to be pressing forward.

We`re determined to overcome any obstacle and use every resource we have. And one of the most powerful ones that we have is frankly public scrutiny. This is why I`ve been so adamant that we do as much of this investigation as we can publicly. It`s why I continue to call on our Chairman to reschedule the hearing with Sally Yates and Directors Brennan and Clapper. If we do this all in private and at the end of the day we issue a report that was compiled in private, the public is not going to believe it. The public needs to come every step of the way in this investigation. So we need to be as transparent as we possibly can.

HAYES: All right. Congressman Adam Schiff. Thank you for your time.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: I`m joined by Ned Price, former Spokesperson, Senior Director of the National Security Council under President Obama. And the allegation among folks from the White House, the President tweeting this and sympathetic figures in the press, that you and your colleagues in the Obama NSC particularly have been engaged in essentially a conspiracy to tarnish this administration, using access to classified intelligence. How do you respond to that?

NED PRICE, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SENIOR DIRECTOR UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Chris, good to be with you. Look, Chris, I think what we`ve seen here is an unfolding tragedy in multiple acts starring President Trump and co- starring denial, obfuscation and very much so, misdirection. And look Chris, I think the first act of this tragedy actually started late last year when President Trump, as the republican nominee, was presented with the high-confidence findings of all 17 intelligence agencies that Russia had meddled in our election. He just cast that aside. He denied that as his first tactic. No, no, this was the work of some 400-pound hacker in his bedroom.

HAYES: Right.

PRICE: The second act, when he was President-elect and these reports of collusion between his team and the Russians started to pile up, it was then fake news. This is the work of the enemy of the people. And that takes us, Chris, to one month ago today when we saw the third act with the President`s baseless tweets that his predecessor had wiretapped him, apparently gleaned from a Breitbart article with no basis, in fact, that has been shut down by everyone from Devin Nunes to the FBI Director. I`m not going to go into the whole subplot with Devin Nunes and you know, this amateur political theater. That is a tragedy in and of itself. But look, I think with this latest - with republicans` favorite antagonist who is now featured in the fifth act, Susan Rice, I think it is clear as day that the fact that we are talking about unmasking as opposed to this administration`s yet unexplained and multi-pronged ties to the Russian government, that is in a sense a vindication of the administration`s strategy of misdirection. Unmasking is not the core issue here. This is a side show, Chris.

HAYES: One of the things that strike me here is that it`s easy to lose sight of, to me, the proximate trigger for all of this, which is what happened with Flynn. You know, we knew about the Russian - you know, the assessment of the Intelligence Community that it was the Russians that conducted, you know, criminal cyber espionage and sabotage. But with Flynn, I mean he just lied. He lied about the nature of his calls with the Russian Ambassador. He didn`t have to. He could have told the truth. He lied to the White House. He lied to the Vice President. They then lied to the public, and that simple fact, it seems to me the way the President conducts himself and the way the White House talks about it, they feel like Flynn got a bad rap as opposed to angry that he lied to them.

PRICE: That`s exactly right. They`re not at all angry that Michael Flynn was doing these double dealings with Ambassador Kislyak. They`re not at all angry that he lied to key administration officials, including the Vice- President. What they want us to focus on is the fact that he - his name was leaked to the public. And, yes, that is a problem. We need to tamp down on these leaks. We`ve heard that from both republicans and democrats and it`s something I agree with. But, Chris, it`s not the core issue here, and it`s another exhibit in this strategy of misdirection.

HAYES: All right. Ned Price, thank you.

PRICE: Thank you.

Hayes: Still to come, some intense saber-rattling from the White House after North Korea launches another missile into the sea of Japan. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson on what Donald Trump may be getting us into ahead.

And after a week and a half - a week and a half after republicans ignored the President`s ultimatum on Trumpcare, the President is back with an even more radical version. What we know about Trumpcare 2.0 in two minutes.


HAYES: After the republicans` healthcare bill went down in bipartisan flames without even so much as a vote about a week and a half ago and after a White House aide said, quote, "we`re moving on" when asked if the President would be pushing for another vote on healthcare sometime in the near future, Politico is reporting that White House and conservatives are mulling a deal in active talks to revive ObamaCare repeal. According to the report, Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney all met with members of the so- called Freedom Caucus last night. A group of far-right republican lawmakers whom Trump has blamed for the initial bill`s failure, and in a separate meeting yesterday afternoon, they met with half a dozen republicans in the moderate Tuesday group to discuss a possible agreement on a new bill. Now, there is still no deal. There is late report that White House just told activists to expect new text of healthcare law at 8:30 meeting tonight, and compromises have been offered. Who knows what those are, but there are reports that say the bill would do away with protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which would undercut one of the Trump campaign`s central promises.


LESLEY STAHL, CBS NEWS JOURNALIST: Let me ask you about ObamaCare, which you say you`re going to repeal and replace. When you replace it, are you going to make sure that people with pre-conditions are still covered?


We should ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the healthcare exchanges.


HAYES: Joining me now is Representative Dan Donovan, Republican from New York. Congressman, can you explain what the heck is going on process-wise right now because I have to say, I`m confused. Are they going to try to strike a deal and get this to a vote in three days before recess? That seems preposterous.

DAN DONOVAN, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM NEW YORK: I don`t know what this timeframe is, but I do think it`s a responsibility of us to get back to healthcare. We promised the American people we would rectify and repair what harm has been done to then in healthcare field. The Affordable Care Act is collapsing upon itself. I don`t think what happened recently was a failure -

HAYES: Congressman, wait a second. Can I ask you this, though? I just want to be sure -


HAYES: You just said the Affordable Care Act is collapsing on itself.


HAYES: That`s just simply - I understand that there are counties that have, you know, have insurers pulling out. Staten Island that you represent, it is not - it just simply is not a true statement to say it`s collapsing on itself, particularly not in the state of New York. It`s just not actuarially accurate.

DONOVAN: No, but this is a national issue, and actually it is happening throughout the nation. And you`re right, there are - there are -

HAYES: No, but the -

DONOVAN: Go ahead

HAYES: - the congressional budget - both the Congressional Budget Office and the Academy of Actuaries both say that it is not in a death spiral. It is not collapsing in and of its own. They both say that. Now, maybe the actuaries are wrong and the CBO is wrong, but you`d have to cite some other data to suggest they`re wrong.

DONOVAN: Well, people`s policies this year are going to go up 25 percent. And Barack Obama was a very good politician. He put all the bad stuff in the Affordable Care Act in the out years when he was no longer going to be in office. The American people are going to look and say, wait a minute, you guys are in office now and my premiums went up 25 percent. But it`s all because of how the Affordable Care Act was structured.

HAYES: So then, let me ask you this. How do you explain the fact that at this time that you say that this sort of backloaded stuff - which, again, I would quibble on the details there? But let`s just put that aside. At the time this is happening, the Affordable Care Act is more popular than it`s ever been. New polling today has it out at 55 percent approval, 41 percent disapprove. It`s never done better in polling than it`s doing right now.

DONOVAN: There`s many people that it helped. There`s many people that it harmed. That`s why it has to be repaired. The people that pay $20,000 in premiums -

HAYES: Right.

DONOVAN: - and have a $6,000 deductible and still have astronomical co- pays don`t think the Affordable Care Act is working for them.

HAYES: Agreed.

DONOVAN: We have to help those people without harming the people that the Affordable Care Act helped.

HAYES: OK. So that strikes me as a really interesting and worthwhile policy goal, what you just - you just enunciated. It is unquestionably true that what you - what you just said is true. There are people paying extremely high premiums for extremely high deductible plans. They`re not happy with the coverage they`re getting. Right now the House Freedom Caucus is negotiating with the Vice President to do away with, say, community rating, essentially to pull back the provision that bans, bans on pre-existing conditions. Is that the kind of thing that you could go along with?

DONOVAN: Not at all. Not at all. We have to protect people with pre- existing conditions. We have to protect our seniors. You know, the Affordable Care act allows insurance companies to judge seniors three times as much they charge a healthy young person. The proposal last week that we were going to vote on before it was pulled, allows insurance companies to charge up to five times as much.

HAYES: Right.

DONOVAN: Seniors at a time when their incomes are limited and they`re in need of healthcare probably more than they were in their early years don`t think that`s a relief for them. So we have to be very, very careful. As the President said, this is a complicated issue. We have to make sure that we`re not harming people as we`re trying to repair our healthcare systems, to help those who are being harmed by the current system.

HAYES: So I just want to be clear here because those are - those seem like really important policy principles for you in terms of the folks that you represent and what role you occupy in the caucus. The expanding from the three to one ratio to five to one ratio which was part of that initial bill that went down in flames. Now they`re talking about, you know, getting rid of what`s calling community rating that essentially mandates the insurance companies not charge sick people much more money than healthy people. You would not be able to vote for a bill that did the things the House Freedom Caucus is trying to do. Am I right in that?

DONOVAN: Well, I was a declared no on the last bill. And if it`s being tweaked to harm people further - and I haven`t seen anything.

HAYES: Right.

DONOVAN: As the Speaker said this morning, these are concept ideas that are being flushed out. We haven`t seen any text, and these things change, I have to tell you, Chris. This changes - this changes by the hour down here. So until there`s something concrete that we have to actually look at to see whether or not we could support, I`d be speculating. And so -


DONOVAN: Yes - go ahead, Chris. I`m sorry.

HAYES: Yes. No, I understand about bill language. But I just - as principles and the community rating is a - is a thing, right? And you know, that`s something you could say independent of whether the bill language, you support that, and you would oppose an effort to get rid of it?

DONOVAN: We promised that we would not harm people with pre-existing conditions. We have to keep that commitment.

HAYES: That`s all I wanted to get on the record, Congressman Dan Donovan. I appreciate your time tonight.

DONOVAN: Thank you so much for having me.

HAYES: Coming up, faced with a pressing international crisis, President Trump takes it as an opportunity to make a political attack on his predecessor. We`ll talk about that and the breaking news out of North Korea just ahead.


HAYES: In a moment, we are going to show you some very disturbing images from rebel-held area of Syria where at least 83 people, including 25 children, were killed in what the State Department has identified as a chemical weapons attack. That death toll is expected to rise. It was one of the worst massacres in Syria`s brutal six-year civil war. Video out of Idlib province showing people choking, fainting, foaming at the mouth, as desperate doctors scramble to tend to hundreds of victims. Multiple countries, including the U.S., attributed the attack to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who`s widely believed to have repeatedly used chemical weapons against Syrians in the past. Assad`s government blamed terrorist groups and called the allegations fabricated.

At a photo Op with King Abdullah of Jordan, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who just days ago said Assad`s fate would be decided by the Syrian people, ignored shouted questions about the attack. Later putting out a statement reading in part, "it is clear that this is how Bashar al- Assad operates, with brutal, unabashed barbarism, those who defend and support him including Russia and Iran should have no illusions about Assad or his intentions." In an official White House statement, President Trump blamed Assad but then went on to fault President Obama. His statement reading, I quote, "these heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration`s weakness and irresolution.

The horrifying situation in Syria is one of the several international crises being navigated by a President with no foreign policy experience, who has delegated much of his administration`s foreign policy responsibilities to his son-in-law, 36-year-old real estate heir Jared Kushner, who this week traveled to Iraq and who is being described as a kind of shadow secretary of state despite having no apparent qualifications to conduct international diplomacy. When we come back, I`m going to speak with someone with a lot of qualifications, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, about the administration`s foreign policy especially in light of the breaking news out of the Korean peninsula. North Korea has launched a ballistic missile off its eastern coast. More on that, next.

HAYES: At this hour, another apparent provocation from North Korea, South Korean officials telling NBC News that North Korea launched a ballistic missile into the waters off its eastern coast.

President Trump, who has vowed to, quote, solve North Korea if China does not, is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week in Florida, where North Korea will be at the top of the agenda.

As to what the Trump administration`s position on North Korea might be, a senior White House official told reporters today, quote, the clock has now run out on Pyongyang adding all options are on the table.

Joining me now retired army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson who served as chief of staff for Secretary of State Colonel Powell. And colonel, I want to read you two statements and get your reaction to how this president is positioning American policy on this incredibly high-stakes issue. This is the president talking about North Korea to the Financial Times. "Well, if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will."

And this is Rex Tillerson just moments ago, "North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The U.S. has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment."

How do you understand the U.S.-North Korea policy at this moment?

COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Chris, I understand it in a way that I`m deeply concerned about. I`ve been on and off the Korean Peninsula as a military professional and diplomat for over 40 years. I`ve participated in what Rex Tillerson more or less derided when he was on the peninsula, the policy of strategic patience. I`m sorry but that policy has kept war from the peninsula for, well, since 1953.

So I`m very concerned that we would suddenly and abruptly with this very inexperienced team in the White House, decide we`re going to have a new policy and articulate statements that you`ve just demonstrated that indicate that new policy might include a serious look at preemptive military action or certainly at war on the peninsula.

This is not the way to deal with North Korea.

HAYES: You know, North Korea seems like the classic example of no good solutions. But it just - I mean they are a nuclear-capable power. They are on the border of both American forces and South Korea, our ally, of course.

It`s just hard to imagine any kind of military conflict between the nations that isn`t catastrophic. Am I wrong about that?

WILKERSON: I`ve exercised all the war plans. I`ve probably been in more team spirit, (inaudible) and Pyongwa (ph) exercises than anyone else in the military. Yes. To answer your question is 100,000 casualties in the first 30 days, almost complete destruction of Seoul. We`re talking about (inaudible) type concentrations of artillery. Even if their tubes melted, Seoul would be aflame.

We couldn`t evacuate the American citizens fast enough. The neo- contemplated (ph) there has proved that time and again. So this would be an absolute disaster.

We need to stop thinking about a military solution to Korea. We haven`t thought about that since `53, not really. This seems to be the inexperienced team again that`s thinking about these sorts of things. And I have to hope -- I have to hope that with other things that Trump has tweeted and talked about, that this is all his idea of establishing a hard negotiating position so he can move away from that as he gains what he wants, or at least partially does so. Otherwise, it frightens me.

HAYES: You talk about the inexperience here. And it`s been hard not to scratch your head a little bit, I think, at seeing Jared Kushner in these meetings. He goes to Iraq before the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson does. This is a Washington Post story about Kushner, saying he is a singular, almost untouchable role in the White House. And this is Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at Brookings. I imagine you know him. Says it`s as if Trump is the Don. He only trusts his close family members, comparing the dynamic to a mob family operation.

Does it - what do you think about having this 36-year-old son-in-law of the president as a chief emissary navigating American foreign policy?

WILKERSON: Well, my first deep concern is the same concern I have with almost the entire team. The experience quotient, the diplomatic quotient, does not go up when Jared Kushner walks into the room. That`s my concern. These are amateurs. In many cases, they`re rank amateurs, and they`re dealing with some of the most serious issues that the United States confronts.

Let`s look at what we`ve got going right now. We`ve got a potential war with Russia. We`ve got a situation with China in the South China Sea that could ignite. We`re deepening our experience in Yemen, which ruined Egypt. They call Yemen Nassar`s Vietnam. We`ve got a situation in North Korea that they`re debating.

There`s an old theory called conservation of enemies. You don`t want too many enemies at one time. And I would submit you certainly don`t want too many enemies at one time when you have such inexperience in the White House.

HAYES: You know, one of the places you did not even mention in that, which of course is Syria -- the news today of the chemical weapons attack.

And two things, one, I want to did you about the reaction, and then I want to ask a substantive question. But first, I was pretty struck by the statement of the president of the United States that sort of goes from condemning what is a war crime to essentially blaming it on his predecessor. It just struck me as really shocking tonally.

WILKERSON: I think that`s pretty much the policy of this administration is when they can`t find any other rationale, they throw it back on the other administration, whether it`s the affordable health care act or Syria.

And let me just add here, I am very reluctant to jump to conclusions about who, if they were employed, might have employed sarin gas or whatever chemical it was. Chemical weapons are the weapon of a loser. Saddam Hussein, for example, when he`s being attacked by Iran in the vicious Iran- Iraq War. They`re not the weapon of a winner.

Assad is winning right now.

HAYES: Right.

WILKERSON: And that`s the reality on the ground in Syria. So my question is who`s trying to ruin the talks? Who`s trying to destabilize the situation once again?

I`m not saying Assad wasn`t possibly guilty, what I`m saying is we need to find out more about this use, and we need to find out if there are other parties involved.

HAYES: I should say that the reporting I`ve seen, at least from the people on the ground, folks - AFP was on the scene today that the folks on the ground appear to be convinced it was Assad`s forces. That`s not obviously definitive, but that`s what the reporting suggests.

WILKERSON: I`ve read many of the reports, and they seem to imply that Assad`s air force distributed the Sarin or whatever over a vast tapestry. I still think it`s very difficult for me to put myself in Assad`s position and say, I`m winning. Why am a going to perturbate the situation now the way the use of chemical weapons would.

HAYES: Do you think there is any path forward in Syria that could lead to an end to the just unspeakable brutality and horrific bloodshed there?

WILKERSON: I certainly do. And I think it`s the one that we were about, I think, to pursue. and that was to recognize Assad, at least temporarily, as the leader of the legitimate state of Syria and to negotiate some sort of political transition, however long that might take, with the other people involved.

My concern, Chris, about Iraq and Mosul in particular and Syria in general is after that sort of stability is achieved, what does Turkey do? What does Iran do? What does Hezbollah do? What does Assad do then? What does Iraq do? What does Iraq under the influence of Iran do?

I think the post-conflict situation, if we ever achieve it in Syria, may be more serious even than the conflict.

HAYES: It`s looking very far off tonight in Idlib. Lawrence Wilkerson, thanks for being with me. Appreciate it.

WILKERSON: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: Still to come, despite the Trump administration`s series of big legislative failures, they have already enacted tangible change.

What you should know about what they are getting done ahead. Plus, the president gets booed. That`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starting right after this break.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, President Trump delivered a speech to construction unions today and began by playing to his crowd.


TRUMP: Just look at the amazing talent assembled here. We have iron workers, insulators -- never changes, does it, with the iron workers? Well, let`s hear it. Laborers. Painters. Sheet metal workers, roofers, plasterers. Plaster? Well, yeah, that`s -- we`re not using as much plaster as we used to, fellas, right? No matter how you cut it. Sorry about that. I`m not sure I can do much.

We brought back the coal miners, I`m not so sure about the plasterers. We`ll do the best we can, OK? We`re going to do the best we can.


HAYES: Brought back the coal miners. Did you catch that? Already.

Things seem to be going pretty well off the bat until the president started getting booed. And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: During President Trump`s speech to North America`s Building Trades Union today, he thoroughly detailed his electoral victory as he so often does, even imitating news anchors calling out his state wins.

But at one point he seemed to overplay his hand, perhaps forgetting that North America`s Building Trades Union endorsed Hillary Clinton in the election. And watch how the mood changes when he realized that maybe not everyone there was on the Trump train.


TRUMP: I had the support of, I would say -- I would say almost everybody in this room. We had tremendous -- we had tremendous support. No, we did. We had tremendous support. We had tremendous support.

And I`ll tell you, we really had the support of the workers. We had tremendous support of the workers. Well, would you like to make a change, folks? Would you like to make a change? Because if anybody wants to make a change, you won`t be having so many jobs. That I can tell you.




SEN. JEFF MERKLEY, (D) OREGON: If President Trump worked to conspire with the Russians or his team conspired with the Russians at his direction or his knowledge, that is traitorous conduct because the Russians attacked the fundamental institutions of our country, trying to delegitimize and change the outcome of our election. And conspiring with a foreign power to attack the foundation of our democratic republic that is traitorous conduct.


HAYES: That was Senator Jeff Merkley moments ago in his opposition to the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch while the White House is under investigation.

Merkley is still speaking, plans to hold the floor all night.

Meanwhile another Trump pick, Jeff Sessions, is making his mark as attorney general. The man who once criticized the DOJ`s report on the Chicago police even though he said he didn`t read it has now, through his Justice Department, gone to court to seek a 90-day delay in a consent decree to overhaul Baltimore`s embattled police department. That kind of action by the nation`s attorney general is remarkable considering that Baltimore`s mayor and its police commissioner strongly support the consent decree, along with citizen advocacy groups.

And it`s not just Baltimore, the Jeff Sessions Justice Department has ordered a review of federal agreements with dozens of law enforcement agencies including consent decrees with police departments in 14 different cities.

And these agreements are designed to deal with police departments pattern and practice on discrimination and civil rights and constitutional violations. That`s what the attorney general wants to slow down or stop.

It`s an example of the tangible impacts the Trump administration is having right now despite its hapless legislative record on signature items like health care. The true impacts of this new administration, next.


HAYES: President Trump signed a bill yesterday that allows internet companies to sell your browser history. Internet privacy rules, instituted last year under the Obam administration, have now been repealed by Republicans in congress, signed into law by the president. And that`s just the latest achievement by the new Trump administration.

There are others.

A regulation protecting Alaskan bears repealed. A rule that stops coal companies from polluting streams with mining waste gone. But a pesticide, which has been shown to damage children`s brains green lit.

The president also just weakened workplace protection for LGBT workers having revoked rules on bathrooms for transgender students in late February.

He also went along with congressional Republicans in nullifying a workplace injury reporting rule. Then with little fanfare, as with so many of these things, the president revoked Obama-era protections for women in the workplace and the State Department halted money to the UN population fund for family planning.

Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst Joan Walsh, national affairs correspondent at The Nation; and Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University.

Well, let me start with the browsing thing, because to me it`s such a perfect example of the way American politics works, right. We`ve read like one billion articles about like the great uprising of the discontented, white working class. And it`s like, here is your concrete deliverable, people of Mahoney County, Ohio, they can sell your browsing history.

JOAN WALSH, THE NATION: And you don`t get anything for it. It would be nice if you got something for it.

HAYES: Right, you sell your own browsing history.

WALSH: But, yeah, it`s awful.

I mean, they`ve been doing these surgical strikes of incredible cruelty since the first day. You remember, I think we were together, when the first thing he signed on January 20th was something eradicating an Obama fee reduction for mortgages for first-time home buyers. It saved a family about $500 a month, which is nice as a first-time home buyer.

They come up with these things, you`re kind of wondering, how do they even know that it`s there? Like, who went in and said day one, this is what we`re doing. And they are making people`s lives miserable with it.

I mean, this family planning cut is killing me. That program last year, our funding alone saved 10,000 maternal lives and stopped 100,000 unsafe abortion. They still haven`t given any reason for it.

But George Bush cut it because the fund was working in China and it was seen to be somehow associating itself with the one child -- coercive One Child Policy.

That`s not even true anymore.


CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Right. But what I think we have right now is sort of two sides of this administration. On the one hand, it looks like an abject failure, right? The Muslim ban, the Muslim plan 2.0, both failures, right. You couldn`t get the AHCA passed. It didn`t even come up for a vote. Failure. It doesn`t look like - Gorsuch is going to have a difficult time. He may get passed.

HAYES: But a harder time than they thought.

GREER: A harder time than they thought. Failure.

So, on one hand, it`s just like, oh, this man is an absolute disaster. He`s in over his head. No one around him knows what they`re doing.

But then we start to look at all these minor, these micro agressions that this particular administration is inflicting on the American public, especially so many of the poor people who actually voted for him, right.

So, it`s like these people rely on family planning. These people rely on - - not everyone has a dad who can buy them their first home and give them a loan of a few million dollars, right? Donald Trump.

So I mean...

HAYES: well, also the people that live in places that have streams and things like that.

WALSH: Coal country.

GREER: This is the thing that frustrates me so much also about the Republican Senators and Republican members of the House who will not stand up to this man, it`s that don`t you have children and grandchildren? You know, all the money in the world cannot help your children have better air than a poor person, right. I mean, yes, you might be able to live in a better neighborhood but at the end of the day, water can`t be oil. And so there is sort of - making everything a scarce resource. They want to privatize everything. And it`s like think about the future of this planet, if not for yourself, for your families.

HAYES: And that`s one of the places where, what Scott Pruitt is going to do to EPA, what they`ve put it on notice in terms of the Clean Air. That`s a place to me I think they can probably do the most damage just from a unilateral perspective, whether it`s the clean - whether it`s the coal, the power plant rule, whether it`s the enforcement of the clean air act, which they - - let`s be clear required to enforce as a matter law but they can do away with in all kinds of ways.

And I think to me the other part of that is whether that packs a political punch.

GREER: You know, I think it might, if -- the thing is it`s got to get really bad in order for it to pack a political punch. I mean, if Pruitt`s stripping away of regulations and doing things through agency rules really does degrade the quality, you could have worse air in coal country and in the rust Belt than elsewhere.

HAYES: Whether that`s communicated in a sort of potent enough fashion...

GREER: Again, I think that`s the thing, it is getting bad. But it`s not articulated in a way where it`s like, when you are defunding the parks department and then giving someone a measly $78,000 check after you`ve taken away billions of dollars, that is not necessarily -- the visual makes it seem for his supporters like, oh, he`s actually keeping his word. He`s not keeping his paycheck.

HAYES: I i also don`t understand why - I mean, again, the budget hasn`t been - the budget is going to get ironed out in congress, right. The congress has the power of the purse.

But I never understand why they go after the National Parks. Like, of all the things - first of all, they don`t cost much money. But also like if there`s one thing Americans red and blue, liberal, conservative love it`s the parks.

GREER: It`s when we go to the parks.

HAYES: Absurd elitist undertaking.

Joan Walsh and Christina Greer, thank you very much.

I have a couple book tour events here in this great city, New York where I was born and raised. For my new book, a Colony in a Nation which is out now and has a lot about New York, particularly New York in the 1980s and 90s.

Tomorrow night, I will be at the Barnes and Noble here in Union Square, and then Saturday Wes Lowry, the great Wes Lowry, joins me for talk put on Greenlight Bookstore. That`s part of their Brooklyn Voices series. And that`s going to be at St. Joseph College. It`s going to be a great event.

Wes Lowry has an amazing called They Can`t Kill Us All, which I would recommend to anyone that is interested in those topics.



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