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All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 4/7/2017

Guests: Ruben Gallego, Brian Darling, Andrew Exum

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: April 7, 2017 Guest: Ruben Gallego, Brian Darling, Andrew Exum CHRIS MATTHEW, MSNBC HOST:  It`s beautiful.  The book`s called Prince Charles The Passions And Paradoxes Of An Improbable Life.  Get it this weekend.  And by the way that`s HARDBALL for tonight.  Thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  As you know, I would love to have never been in the Middle East.

HAYES:  The Trump transformation.

TRUMP:  Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria.

HAYES:  The fallout from last night`s Middle East military intervention and what the President`s sudden change means going forward.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA:  All I can say about this President, he has the instinct of Ronald Regan in many ways.

HAYES:  Plus, new questions about the long-term effects of last night`s strike as the humanitarian crisis continues.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We cannot in one breath speak of protecting Syrian babies and in the next close America`s doors to them.

HAYES:  Then, are Bannon and Priebus getting reassigned?

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF:  I think the biggest misconception is everything you`re reading.

HAYES:  More focus on the White House feuding as the former Breitbart publisher is reportedly overruled on Syria.  When ALL IN starts right now.

Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  As the world continues to assess the fallout from last night`s missile launch on Syria, President Trump woke up today to a chorus of praise from much of the foreign policy establishment, television pundits and many members of Congress, at least one of whom is now comparing Trump to the most beloved Republican President in the modern era.


GRAHAM:  All I can say about this President, he has the instinct of Ronald Regan in many ways.  He`s an emotional man but he`s also a very smart man.  I think he feels that he did the right thing by those children.

KELLY AYOTTE, UNITED STATES FORMER SENATOR:  My reaction is a strong message and I think a message of the new sheriff in town.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER:  So I very much approve of what the President did.  I think it was not only an important message to Assad but to everybody else who may be wondering just what this new administration is going to be like.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE:  I have a nice conversation with the President last night and told him I was really proud of our nation and thanked him for taking the steps that he had taken.  So I was very happy that he had done it.  Told him that.  And told him I was very proud of him also.


HAYES:  Critics of the President are marking his intervention in Syria as a reversal and in many ways, it is a striking one.  As recently as a week ago, the administration was indicating that Syrian President Bashar al- Assad was not the United States` problem and throughout the Presidential campaign, Trump was pushing the kind of isolationist vision of foreign policy that he cast in stark contrast to Hillary Clinton.


TRUMP:  Now she wants to start a shooting war in Syria in conflict with a nuclear-armed Russia that could very well lead to world war 3.


HAYES:  Back in 2013, Trump was tweeting things like this.  "To our very foolish leader, do not attack Syria.  If you do, many very bad things will happen and from that fight the U.S. gets nothing."  In fact, as recently as Tuesday, Trump was explicitly saying, the rest of the world needs to fend for itself.


TRUMP:  I`m not and I don`t want to be the president of the world.  I`m the President of the United States, and from now on it`s going to be America first.


HAYES:  That was then.  Now, a pro-Trump super PAC is fundraising off the President`s international military intervention, the missile launch.  So on one level, the airstrikes seem to reflect a pretty serious change.  And at least some of Trump`s base is furious about the strikes and is jumping off the Trump train.  But at another level, Trump`s decision to strike Syria is actually perfectly consistent with everything we know about him.  One thing that became extremely clear during the campaign is that the President doesn`t really have much in the way of core beliefs and that`s particularly true when it comes to the Middle East.


TRUMP:  It`s about judgment.  I didn`t want to go into Iraq and I fought it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you for invading Iraq?

TRUMP:  Yes, I guess so.  You know, I wish it was -- I wish the first time, it was done correctly.


HAYES:  That was Trump on Iraq.  Here he is on Libya.


TRUMP:  Gaddafi in Libya is killing thousands of people.  Nobody knows how bad it is.  Now, we should go in.  We should stop this guy, which would be very easy and very quick.  We could do it surgically.  Stop him from doing it and save these lives.

TRUMP:  He said he was in favor of Libya.  I was -- I never discussed that subject.  I was in favor of Libya?  We would be so much better off if Gaddafi were in charge right now.


HAYES:  What`s constant about Donald Trump and has been since the beginning is that he is very, very easily swayed by whatever the conventional wisdom of the pundit class is at the time.  The same conventional wisdom he is now watching on the cable news broadcasts that he monitors so religiously.  Now after launching 59 cruise missiles into Syria, Trump is being praised in many corners for being decisive and showing strength.  And what lesson do you think he`s going to learn from that?  Joining me now, Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego of Arizona, member of the House Arms Services Committee.  And Congressman, you put out a very strong statement in opposition to last night`s strikes.  Explain your reasoning.

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA:  Well, I just don`t think they were appropriate at the right time.  Look, what happened was horrible and there`s no doubt that the Assad regime was responsible for this and to an extension, their allies Iran and Russia.  But I think we could have done a lot of things before we actually -- you know, went to strikes.  We should have gone to the international community, try to increase sanctions on Assad and Russia and try to really push this to the extreme and then if and when there was no other measures left, then we could have considered doing this.  Now, I don`t know what`s going to happen.  I don`t know what the end goal is.  I don`t know what the result is.  I don`t know what the strategic next step is going to be.  What happens if this gets to a level where it gets escalated where Syria starts attacking our troops that are already in operating right now with some of our rebel allies.  This can actually get pretty quickly out of hand and at least Trump owes Congress and explanation about what is the plan here.

HAYES:  I wonder if you have a feeling about where the legal authority for this --

GALLEGO:  Hello?

HAYES:  Hello.  Can you hear me, Congressman?  Hello?  Appears we have lost the Congressman.  Let`s try to get him back because I would like to continue talking to him.  Joining me now, Brian Darling, former Communications Director for Senator Rand Paul and MSNBC Political Analyst Richard Stengel who is Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs under President Obama.  Let me start with you because it`s been really striking to me, John Kerry coming out forcedly for this.  Legions of ex-Obama officials rushing to praise this.  And it reminded me of this phrase that Ben Rhodes used called "the blob".  Which was, his and the President`s view that there is a permanent foreign policy establishment that always likes escalation, always like intervention and that it was the job of the President to put the brakes on them.  What do you think about that?

RICHARD STENGEL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I think Ben is -- that`s a correct observation, but speaking of Secretary Kerry, I saw Secretary Kerry work his heart and soul out to try to get a stalemate, a peace agreement in Syria.  And it was frustrating.  I mean, nothing happened.  We didn`t have leverage.  We weren`t able to avert what was the most awful humanitarian disaster since World War II.  Something needed to be done to change the equation in the Middle East, and let`s -- well, regardless of President Trump`s motives now, the fact that it -- that it changes the stakes a little bit, that it gives some warning to Iran and Russia that our Sunni allies now see a kind of empowered U.S., I saw how disappointed they were in 2013 when we did not bomb after the red line.  They are now feeling like we are back in the game.

HAYES:  Brian, I want to ask you to follow up on that.  But first let me just ask you one question because you just enunciated to me the most terrifying phrase in an American foreign policy thinking, which is something needed to be done.  If the (INAUDIBLE) go something needed to be done, this was something ergo, this needed to be done.  The "something needed to be done" is precisely the impulse that I think the foreign policy establishment bipartisan tends to share.  It`s precisely the thing that Rhodes was talking about when he talked about the blob.

STENGEL:  But, again --

HAYES:  We`re always doing something.  We`ve been behind the Middle East since 1991.

STENGEL:  Ben was explaining the fact that the President didn`t bomb after he said he would.

HAYES:  Right.

STENGEL:  And there were many people in the administration, including my boss, Secretary Kerry thought he did.  And he has a lovely explanation for it.  President said we shouldn`t just attack people to maintain our credibility but in fact, credibility does matter in the international sphere.

HAYES:  Brian, I want your respond to -- there was this sort of upsurge of a kind of foreign policy vision among republicans back in 2013 since Rick is talking about that.  Back when John Kerry was pushing this very hard and when the President decided to go back to congress.  Listen to Jason Chaffetz explanation.


REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH:  This is a civil war and I just don`t know that the injection of the United States military, the greatest military on the face of the planet is, A, going to solve the problem, and, B, not going to lead to something much bigger, more problematic.  I see long-term ramifications by injecting ourselves into a civil war where the consequences may be something we really don`t like.  It would be terribly naive to think we could simply send a tomahawk missile in.  I think if the United States gets involved, it`s going to go on for a long time.


HAYES:  Last night he was tweeting U.S.A.  And that is -- that he`s one of many who have -- who have moved from that position to this.  How do you explain that?

BRIAN DARLING, SENATOR RAND PAUL FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR:  I agree with the 2013 Jason Chaffetz.  And the 2013 Donald Trump who said that you needed to get congressional authorization before going to war.  Much like Barack Obama did the same thing when he was running for office, he said that you need to get congressional authorization before instigating a war, an act of war or going to -- initiating military hostilities.  I mean, both parties have been hypocrites on this issue.  I look back to Barack Obama`s Presidency as a great disappointment.  I think, progressives were very upset.  Because he promised to get all the troops and end the war in Afghanistan.  He promised so many things.  And we still have two AUMFs on the books --

HAYES:  Right.

DARLING:  -- that this administration is using as authorization to do things in Syria and Iraq.

HAYES:  Well, you talk about AUMF.  And Rick is someone who`s at the State Department.  There is a real question of legality here.  And I saw John McCain, someone today -- I think it was John McCain tried to say that the 2001 AUMF covers the strikes against Assad.  Now, there`s a lot of AUMF might cover.

STENGEL:  But that is how the -- that`s how the Obama administration interpreted it also.

HAYES:  Against Assad?

STENGEL:  Basically anything that we were going to do, we were using that AUMF to justify those actions.

HAYES:  But just to be clear, that AUMF was drafted and passed after we were struck by Al-Qaeda in 9/11 for associated forces.  That`s the sort of key phrase.


STENGEL:  -- subsequent legislation.  So people were using that as the figure leaf.

HAYES:  Right.  Well, I`m glad you used that phrase.  Just because -- I mean, Assad is --

DARLING:  you like my phrase?

HAYES:  It`s not as literally bombing Al Qaeda.  So, do we have the Congressman back?  Congressman Gallego?

GALLEGO:  I`m here.

HAYES:  Oh, great.  So, I want to ask you this question about authorization.  I mean, what do you think of the idea that -- and you served I believe in Iraq and you`re a veteran yourself.  What do you think about the need for authorization of some kind?  What do you think that the 2001 AUMF would cover airstrikes against Assad?

GALLEGO:  Certainly not against Assad.  I do believe that there is enough connection between ISIS and Al Qaeda, (INAUDIBLE) Al Qaeda who I fought in Al Anbar that justifies it.  But if you`re going to be after Assad -- the Assad regime, Hezbollah or any of its allies, you need to come back to Congress.  There is no nexus there.  It makes very little sense.  We need to know what the plan is.  We need to know where this is going before this truly escalates to the point beyond the control I think of where any of us want to go.

HAYES:  You know, the point the Congressman made there about associated forces is that, right?  ISIS is a plausible way of interpreting associated forces there.  With Assad it`s --

STENGEL:  Yes.  That`s fair enough.

HAYES:  -- very difficult.


HAYES:  So, what do you think about the sort of -- the kind of next step idea, right?  And particularly the sort of ways in which -- I`m really curious as someone who was outside the state department came into it.  Like the ways in which becoming president and being part of the sort of institutional decision-making structure for the most powerful nation on earth changes your calculus.

STENGEL:  Well, I mean, part of it is you get mugged by reality in terms of what happens out there.  I do think the process of how that works, and we`ve heard about that, the DCPC process actually doesn`t get you to the best decisions.  And I suspect that President Obama thought that as well.  He approached it from a very small C conservative idea, which is -- which is, will me doing something make this situation worse?  And in the case of Syria, which was incredibly complex, he always came out on the side, yes, it`s going to make things worse and, indeed, it might.  That is the problem.  And as you say, we do not have a plan B right now.  There is no plan for regime change.  The vacuum has attracted the worst most awful terrorist groups in there.  We don`t have the moderate opposition anymore.  There are not a lot of good choices.  And that was how Obama looked at it.

DARLING:  He don`t seem to have a plan A.

HAYES:  Right.

DARLING:  What we`re looking at -- I mean, when you look at these military situations, you need a military plan, you need a goal, and you need an exit strategy, and it doesn`t appear that we have any of those lined up.  Everybody is engaging in some feel good politics.  Yes, we have the strike.  And if it`s successful the American people will probably be applauding the President for it, but ultimately if this starts a long-term engagement in Syria, the American people aren`t going to like it.  They don`t like the fact that we still have troops in Afghanistan, troops in Iraq.  It`s unbelievable and it`s something that the war-weary American public don`t like.

HAYES:  That -- Brian`s point there, Congressman, what do you think of that, particularly in terms of what your constituents want to see and what you`re going to say to them when you go home for recess?  You`re probably home now, I would imagine, about what your task as their representative is in guiding this policy going forward?

GALLEGO:  Look, my constituents were obviously horrified by the attack that occurred by the Assad regime on these innocent children and families.  At the same time, they`re weary of war.  They saw what the mistakes that happened that got us into the Iraq war and I think they don`t want to see us trip ourselves into another quagmire.  I mean, right now we are bombing both the people that are fighting Assad and we`re bombing Assad who are bombing some of the people that we`re supporting.  Where does this go?  How does this all end?  There are too many sides being played.  And again, why did we bomb?  Right now, that airfield that we bomb still was launching attacks on rebel-held areas.  So it wasn`t a military strategic reason why we actually hit it.  It was a symbolic reason.  And if that was the case, then why don`t we go through diplomatic channels first.  And then after exhausting those, then go into a military option.  And I think, one of my fears is that Trump -- you know, when given the military option will always take that first.  And I don`t think that`s responsible leadership.  You know, diplomacy requires all levels of tools.  And not just always looking at the world as an answer -- the answer to everything (INAUDIBLE) is to bomb it.

HAYES:  All right.  Congressman Ruben Gallego, Brian Darling Rick Stengel here in New York, thank you all.

Still to come, first, he was reportedly irked by the President-Bannon portrayal on SNL.  Now reports that President Trump wasn`t happy about how much attention Jared Kushner got over his trip to Iraq inside the White House in fighting and why it really matters ahead.

And the President has his strike was in America`s vital national security interests.  My next guest says, after last night the fight against the Islamic state just got harder.  He`ll tell us why after this two-minute break.


HAYES:  The big question after last night`s strike in Syria, what now?  Today, Russia called the attack and act of aggression.  The Prime Minister took to Facebook to declare U.S.-Russian relations completely ruined. And warned that we are in the verge of a military clash.  This is a Russian military promise to bulk up the air defense systems in Syria and sent a warship carrying cruise missiles into the Eastern Mediterranean.  The launch site of last night`s strike.  Russia also says it is suspending the deconflicting line, the communication channel between the U.S. and Russia that helps pilots avoid mid-air collision over Syria.  U.S. official used it last night to warn Russia of the impending strike giving them time to evacuate.  But today, Russia said that they were shutting it down at midnight Moscow time.  It`s still unclear if that actually happened.  U.S. military insists the line is still open.  Joining me now, Andrew Exum, during last year`s the Obama administration helped foreign defense policies on Syria while serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in Middle East, currently Contributing Editor of the Atlantic, his latest piece on the Syrian airstrikes, his tittle, "The Fight Against The Islamic State Just Got Harder."  Andrew, it seems to me there`s two ways the Russians can respond here.  One is, OK, we see what you did, we`ll both carry on.  The other one is, OK, we will now counter-escalate and withdraw our cooperation to make your life really hard if you try to keep ISIS targets. 

ANDREW EXUM, ATLANTIC CONTRIBUTING EDITOR:  Yes.  I think that`s fair.  I think, if I had to bet, I`d bet that it`s going to be more towards the former, but there could be a little of a latter as well.  I think that one of the things we don`t fully appreciate, and I know that the department of defense appreciate this and I know that this was briefed to President Trump as well is that look, you know, for the past two years, we`ve basically been prosecuted in air campaign in Syria and we`ve been flying in and around one of the more sophisticated air defense systems anywhere in the world.  As soon as U.S. jets take off in Jordan or in Turkey, they`re basically flying right into deranged fans of somebody`s complicated Syrian air defense systems.  So if for example, the Syrian decided to start turning these on and start tracking U.S. aircraft, that could affect the flight paths, it could affect some of the operations in Raqqa for example.  It could certainly make a lot of our allies nervous.  And one of the reasons why we set up the de-confliction channel in the first place after the Russians really beefed up their intervention in 2015, is because we started seeing some really irresponsible behavior on the part of the Russians and Syria in terms of trailing U.S. aircraft, in terms of -- you know, just getting too close to aircraft.  We didn`t want our planes at the very minimum, to run into each other over Syrian skies.  I think that`s in Russia`s interest as much as ours.  So I think that this announcement by the Russia was somewhat petulant.  We`ll see if it actually follow through on shutting the de-confliction channel down.

HAYES:  You know, someone at (INAUDIBLE) [20:20:59] today was pointing out the fact that -- so there`s the sort of open door to escalation.  There`s also the idea of just essentially this was understood and intended to be understood as fundamentally symbolic and there`s precedent of say Israel has had several strikes over the last six years where they`ve gone and they`ve struck Assad, come back out, have not been embroiled in a larger sustained military activity inside the country.  How possible is that?

EXUM:  Yes, that`s right.  That`s exactly right.  So Israel`s been very clear, at least starting privately and then publicly, about what their red lines are in terms of the transfer of advanced weapons systems and to -- you know, Hezbollah in Lebanon and they seem to have, you know, without getting into the details, they seem to have taken action in some examples to counteract the movement of those weapons systems.  The united states could do that and I think one of the ways in which this is framed is, hey, this is a one off.  This is -- we`re not changing our policy.  I actually think that might be a bit of a missed opportunity because to go back to the earlier conversation that your guests were having, I think there is some truth to what Rick Stengel was saying, that if you wanted to use this to jump-start a broader diplomatic effort, then you could frame it in terms of, well, hey, maybe we will strike again and leave that strategic ambiguity because certainly during the last few years of the Obama administration we just didn`t have a lot of sticks on the table when it came to talking to the Russians or the Syrians because force had been taken off the table.  I`m not saying that a broader campaign would be wise and there were very -- there were many very good reasons why President Obama rejected doing exactly what President Trump did, but I will say that it could be useful from a diplomatic perspective, and that`s something that you`ve heard several Obama -- former Obama administration officials say today.

HAYES:  All right.  Andrew Exum, always a pleasure to talk to you.  Thank you.

EXUM:  Sure thing.

HAYES:  Still to come, stories of a White House power struggle between Web site publisher Steve Bannon and the President son-in-law Jared Kushner.  Why one of them is reportedly getting sidelined ahead.


HAYES:  Missile strike on Syria has not pleased the alt-right, from Ann Coulter to white supremacist  Richard Spencer who called it the Trump betrayal and tweeted stand with Assad.  Then there`s the ex-Breitbart publisher slash Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon who argued against the strike because it didn`t advance Trump`s America first doctrine.  America first lost out according to two sources close to Bannon when today spoke with Gabe Sherman of New York Magazine.  It`s also been a huge amount of reporting about a brutal civil war in the White House more broadly in which increasingly it looks like the family members are winning and that change is on the way.  Wall Street Journal reporting today, President Donald Trump is considering a major shakeup of the Senior White House team, according to a senior administration official.  Mr. Trump is unhappy with the infighting among his top advisors and is determined to see it end, the official said.  The President is reportedly considering replacing Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.  Mr. Trump is trying out different names with his friends.  One person close to White House said he started asking friends to rate the performance of his top aides, following the failure in March to pass a healthcare bill through the Republican control House of Representatives.  The President may also remove or re-assign Steve Bannon according to the source.  NBC News` Katy Tur treated today, sources close to Bannon says things are very bad for him in the White House right now.  Allies are telling him to lay low and wait up the storm.  Today the White House pushed back on such stories calling it completely false.  But no one can deny the recent indications from Bannon being pulled from a permanent seat at the National Security Council to Jared Kushner`s trip to Iraq.  Inside the Trump White House power shift, next.


HAYES:  Well, the apparent tug of war between Steve Bannon and President Trump`s son-in-law Jared Kushner would appear to favor Kushner, sometimes it might be hard to tell.  The President has privately scoring the coverage of Mr. Kushner`s recent hope high-profile trip to Iraq, according to two people who spoke with him, and questioned the need for the son-in-law`s newly created office to overhaul the government.  At other points, he`s been dismissive of Mr. Bannon currently telling him he`s not needed at this meeting for that.  Joining me now, Shannon Pettypiece, White House Correspondent for Bloomberg News and Michelle Goldberg, Columnist at Slate.  Shannon, I feel like I never know how to make of all of this.  The leaks coming out of that place are so constant, so contradictory.  Everything is clearly being done by someone with an agenda.  You cover it full time.  What do you make of it all?

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, BLOOMBERG NEWS:   I don`t know if I can give you the answers.  I can tell you my colleagues and I today, we probably talked to a dozen different people close to the president, all different levels of the administration and we probably got a dozen different story lines about who`s in, who`s out, what`s going on.  You know, the different rivalries and thiefdoms.  I mean, I think part of it is these alliances that have been going on since the early days of the administration.

I think part of it may be people wanting to hear a story line that they want to hear.  People who don`t like Reince wanting to hear Reince is out.  People who don`t like Bannon wanting to hear him out and reading into those.

And I think part of it might just be that the president himself just doesn`t know what he wants to do, doesn`t know.  He doesn`t like the direction some things are going in and doesn`t know what he`s going to do about it.

HAYES:  Well, to me, Michelle, this is the key is that every single White House has palace intrigue.  Every single campaign has factions and fights.


HAYES:  What to me makes this different is that the person at the center of it is essentially an empty vessel.


HAYES:  And so the battle seems much higher stakes, because honestly it seems like you could convince Donald Trump to do everything from single payer to destroy the Obamacare exchanges depending who`s closer to him.

GOLDBERG:  Right.  Which is why it matters so much.  And the other thing is that he has two very contradictory impulses.  On the one hand he has this racist authoritarian old right side and on the other he has this kind of desperate plaintiff desire for mainstream approval.  And so you have these two factions.

HAYES:  Like, he wants Vanity Fair and The New York Times to think highly of him.

GOLDBERG:  Right.  Which will never happen as long as he`s listening to Steve Bannon.  And so, you know, both of these -- so these two figures or both of these two factions play into conflicting and completely contradictory desires that he has.

So, which one one ultimately prevails assuming one of them ultimately prevails is going to have a big impact on the future of this presidency.


HAYES:  And the nation and the world.


And the idea -- you know, two years ago the idea of Jared Kushner running the country would have seemed like an apocalyptic nightmare.  You know, he was formerly famous for running what I think is maybe the fifth largest newspaper in New York City badly.  But having him instead of Steve Bannon.

HAYES:  Breitbart publisher?

GOLDBERG:  Really would feel like a form of deliverance.

HAYES:  Shannon, it does seem to me as if there are signs of Bannon`s waning influence that are tangible and more than just hearsay, like what happened with the NSC this week was a real thing.  People around Bannon or Bannon himself, I don`t know, attempted to spin it in a sort of hilariously transparent fashion, but that actually did happen and that was a reduction in his influence.

PENNYPIERCE:  Yeah.  I mean, I think the things that I -- I do feel confident about now is that the power dynamics have changed from where they were early on in this administration and part of that is because, listen, in the early days of the White House it was like Home Alone.  They had no cabinet secretaries.  It was Bannon, it was Reince Priebus, it was Steven Miller.  I mean, you had those guys were the power center.

Now we have cabinet secretaries.  Now, we have people like Gary Cohn, the head of the NEC who has been increasing his power and influence.  We have Dena Powell who`s now taking on a foreign policy and security role.

So to some extent, yes, the power that rested in Bannon and Priebus at one point in the early days is not what it used to be because there are a lot more people who have been taking some of the influence.

HAYES:  That`s a great point.  And in terms of Michelle`s -- the fundamental dynamic, the Gary Cohn`s of the world are of the Jared Kushner New York Times world and not the Breitbart world.

And it was interesting.  I don`t know -- I don`t think we have this photo, but the photo they put out of the briefing that happened at the Mar-a-Lago skiff of the Syria strike which -- that`s a whole other situation, you know, Gary Cohn`s in there.  Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary is in there, Dena Powell is in there.  You know, it gives you a little sense of what Shannon`s point is of the expanding influence centers.

GOLDBERG:  Right.  And again, I mean, in any other administration it would not be a source of comfort that, you know, kind of a bunch of Goldman Sachs plutocrats are running things,but I would say that kind amoral gainseeking plutocracy is the best case scenario for this administration when the alternative was kind of fascist nihilism.

HAYES:  Well, and I would also say, Shannon, that having -- my wife worked in the White House back in the early years of the Obama administration.  And one thing that was clear that I always remember, was White Houses are strange places, and it helps to have had people who have worked in a White House before. 

It was frustrating I think to a lot of Obama folks to watch Clinton world folks come in, because they had that experience but it turned out that it`s a bizarre enterprise in which to work.  And people that have said, oh yeah, we`ve done this before, we know how this works.  There`s essentially none of that in the White House.

PENNYPIERCE:  And that`s led to some of these early stumbles and some of these early struggles.  But there are people now in that White House, Dena Powell is one of them, you mentioned, who do have experience in past White Houses, people on the economic side who do have experience.

But it is -- this is Trump`s White House and it`s never going to be the Bush administration, it`s never going to be the Clinton administration or the Osbama administration, it`s going to be Trump`s White House.  He`s going to do it the way he wants to do it.  If he feels comfortable with Gary Cohn and that`s someone he connects with and trusts, Gary`s going to be in the room.  And it`s not going to matter if he`s an economic adviser, if he trusts his opinions, he`s going to be in the room.

And that`s the way we`re seeing things shape out here.

HAYES:  Or if he wants his son-in-law to run the entire western world, he might do that, too.  Shannon Pennypiece and Michelle Goldberg, thank you.

Still to come, Hillary Clinton addresses the military strikes in Syria.  Why she says they`re at odds with the president`s other prominent policy on Syria.

Plus, thos pesky jobs numbers is tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two right after this break.


HAYES:  Thing One tonight, the Labor Department released the March jobs report today, but before we look at those numbers let`s remember how the White House responded to the February report.  The president retweeting a Drudge headline "Great again, 235,000 jobs."

Reince Priebus declaring Trump delivers in first jobs report.  And Press Secretary Sean Spicer spiking the football with not a bad way to start day 50 of this administration.

A pro-Trump super PAC is evening running TV boasting of Trump job creation, which brings us to today, the second full jobs report of the Trump presidency.  And it wasn`t good.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why should I not be critical of President Trump when we`ve got this weak jobs report from last month?

UNIDENIFIFIED MALE:  Look, thanks very much for having me.


HAYES:  How the White House is responding to this job report in Thing Two in 60 seconds.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  98,000, March non-farm payrolls increased by just 98,000 jobs.  The unemployment dipped to 4.5 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It`s a disappointing report at 98,000, even on the kind of low end of expectations.  This is well short of what we should have seen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Granted this isn`t good.  The markets bear that out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I can say that I did expect this number to be much stronger today.  I`m surprised it`s low.


HAYES:  Analysts expected 180,000 new jobs to be created in March.  They got just 98,000.  While the jobless rate tiked down 4.5 perent, today`s report revised down the job creation over the past two months, lowing those reports by about 40,000 jobs.

Now, you may recall candidate Trump used to react to good employment numbers during the Obama administration with conspiracy theories. 


TRUMP:  Don`t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 perent unemployment.  The number`s probably 28, 29, as high as 35.  In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent.


HAYES:  Today, the White House didn`t even bother releasing an official statement.  But they directed us to the comments made by chief executive adviser Gary Cohn who said he was pretty pleased and that better days lie ahead.

A far cry from last month`s giddiness when Sean Spicer officially retracted the president`s claims of phony numbers.


UNIDENITIFIED MALE:  Does the president believe that this jobs report was accurate and a fair way to measure the economy?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  Yeah, I talked to the president prior to this and he said to quote him very clearly, they may have been phony in the past but it`s very real now.





CLINTON:  I hope this administration will move forward in a way that is both strategic and consistent with our values and I also hope that they will recognize that we cannot in one breath speak of protecting Syrian babies and in the next close America`s doors to them.


HAYES:  Speaking at an event in Houston today, Hillary Clinton referenced President Trump`s attempt at a travel ban, which aimed to bar all Syrian refugees from America, including children.

Joining me now, Joy Reid, host of MSNBC AM Joy; and Micah Zenko who is the senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Micah, let me start with you.  Because you have written a lot about this.  What is your interpretation of the sort of humanitarian justification for what we did?  Because it is so striking to me how much we talk about humanitarian war reasons going back to the re-entrance into Iraq which happened because the Yazidis were stuck on Mt. Sinjar and we were going to save them.  And now we`ve got 5,000 troops in Iraq.  What do you make of it?

MICAH ZENKO, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS:  Well, every president when they go to war they provide a buffet of justification and objectives, most of which are articulated with such lack of specificity that you cannot evaluate whether they succeeded, or you cannot falsify them with any information.

Humanitarian appeals are the most motive, right, so they`re speaking to exactly what do you care about as a human, what should Americans care about?  And that ropes in the largest possible domestic political audience in order to support the wars.

The problem is the case of the strikes last night in Syria.  They don`t have a humanitarian impulse behind them in reality.  They`re intended to punish the Assad regime and one particular abandoned airfield in order to try to demonstrate resolve and credibility which are also sort of amorphous concepts.

HAYES:  Joy, it`s interesting to watch the Obama world folks here, because one of the things that I`m seeing is the degree to which the president stood apart from a lot of people around him.


HAYES:  Because a lot of the people around him are out there praising this.  And if you recognize the degree to which the impulses of the foreign policy establishment were tugging on him in certain ways that he was quite intentionally pushing against.

REID:  Yeah.  And it is very difficult for any president of the United States to avoid getting involved in a war for precisely those reasons, because there are always people around presidents who feel that the answer to whatever crisis of the moment is taking place is to launch some sort of military strike, whether it`s to punish someone like Bashar al-Assad, to change their behavior, to send a message, to show the resolve and strength of the United States.

HAYES:  Sometimes it`s the self-justification of credibility.

REID:  sure.

HAYES:  Which is that you`ve said you`ve done it so now you must.

REID:  Right, but the one thing that is absolutely true and that the military will tell you is absolutely true, you cannot undue or prevent the behavior of killing your own civilians with a strike like this, because number one it didn`t even take out the air force that did the strikes.  It didn`t take out the chemical munitions that were used in the strikes, all it did was to send a message.  And that`s the only justification that`s logical for why they did it.

HAYES:  What do you say as someone who sort of studies the way that -- you wrote a book about sort of thinking about how your enemy is modeling what you`re doing, right?

ZENKO:  Right.

HAYES:  What do you say to people that say, look, this was the point was to send this message and they`re now going to make future calculations that maybe won`t change the trajectory of the war, but this red line will now be respected?

ZENKO:  Well, the belief that you can correctly present your message to a foreign leader, they will correctly interpret it on the basis that you want them to and then they will change their behavior based upon that interpreted correct message is a false one.

And it`s not the basis for -- it should not be the basis for U.S.military strategy at all.

HAYES:  So, you think that that even as an end which is like we`re going to send a message, it`s just -- even as an objective is a bad objective?

ZENKO:  Sending messages is not a military mission.  Military missions are to destroy things and kill people.  The political objective you can try to do is to compel Assad from stopping the civil war and the brutality against civilians, or deter him from undertaking another chemical weapons attack.

The problem is they`ve set this very low bar with deterrents because of course Assad doesn`t need to use chemical weapons again.  He has plenty of other means of lethality to kill people wantonly and to capture and control the territory that his regime exists in.

So, he will likely not use chemical weapons again, but he will conduct additional atrocities which then Trump will have to decide whether or not to respond to or to appear weak and uncredible.

REID:  The other thing that I think is really dangerous here is the message that is always sent by these military maneuvers is to us, is to you and me, to media people.  And the Pavlovian response is always to treat the president that takes these military strikes as a war time president and to give a certain extra measure of deference to that president`s decision and then to talk about the tactics, what was hit, what was harmed, what was done and not to really unpack the why, or to unpack whether or not it made sense.

HAYES:  I want both of you to stick around.  We`ll have more on this conversation right after this quick break.



BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  In recent days, Yazidi women, men and children from the area of Sinjar have fled for their lives.  I`ve said before the United States cannot and should not intervene every time there`s a crisis in the world.  So let me be clear about why we must act and act now.

When we face a situation like we do on that mountain with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a  mandate to help, in this case a request from the Iraqi government, and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye.


HAYES:  That was President Obama in 2014 authorizing targeted air strikes in Iraq against ISIS who are threatening to massacre thousands of Yazidis, a Christian minority group.

It marked the first battlefield role the U.S. and Iraq had since America pulled out in 2011, one that we should note to this day and now features over 5,000 troops in the country.

Still with me Joy Reid and Micah Zenko.

The point here about that, the mountain, Mount Sinjar, which is also very similar to what happened in Libya, in both cases targeted kind of responsibility to protect humanitarian interventions.  In both cases, they didn`t stop at that.  And I think watching what happened last night, what does history tell us about how likely they are to stop at that?

ZENKO:  Well, everywhere U.S. forces are deployed, they end on taking on additional missions for which they were not originally intended to do.  This is not just a slippery slope or a mission creep as people describe it.  It`s actually like a fact of all military interventions.

And the reason is once forces are in theater, they come at risk.  There are other complementary objectives which suddenly become piled on to additional reasons.

So, the initial humanitarian impulse as was the case in Libya, later became close air support for rebel groups and then regime change, and you can imagine now how this initial cruise missiles strikes against an air field will lead to regime change against Assad.

HAYES:  I want to bring in Alia Malek who is a Syrian-American journalist and civil rights attorney.

Aliya, for -- I mean, I think anyone who has been watching Syria basically feels almost paralyzed by the sheer horror of it all and the number of horrible players are there from Assad to ISIS, but also there`s a skepticism I think people have that the U.S. military can be an instrument of improving the lives of Syrians, but lots of Syrians I talk to don`t feel that way.   How do you feel?

ALIA MALEK, SYRIAN AMERICAN JOURNALIST:  Well, I mean, let`s not forget, Syria is on the border of Iraq.  And I think Syrians are intimately familiar with what American intervention even for so-called sake of Iraqis looks like.  Syria also took in many refugees from Iraq over the last several decades.

So obviously while I think for some people there might have been a little bit of satisfaction in seeing Bashar al-Assad finally be dealt some kind of slap for everything that he`s done, sort of like the first moment that we maybe saw a little bit of a stop to the impunity, I don`t think anyone`s really naive about what American military intervention can look like.

And I also think -- and this is sort of like the limits of this conversation, there are many other ways to intervene on behalf of Syria and Syrians other than military ones.  I just don`t think that we are looking at this from the perspective of how do we secure Syria as a safe place for Syrians, a free place, a place where they can actualize their dreams, their futures, their potentials.

This conversation, or at least the conversations I`ve been having throughout the day are much more about moving chips around on a board.

HAYES:  So, tell me what -- this is really important to me because I`ve been sort of making this point over the last two days about, if we have a humanitarian desire to help people, we for instance let in refugees.  We can fully fund humanitarian programs, many of which are underfunded.  We can send resources to the refugees in the region, of whom  there are millions who are in terrible straits.

There are other things when you say the conversation is limited, what should it be including?

MALEK:  Well, look, I mean, we`re not incorrect in identifying that the principle backers of the regime are Iran and Russia.  But is it really -- is it the only thing we have in our imagine and our arsenal that we have to engage these two powers, nuclear powers, militarily?

I mean, you know, President Trump is supposedly the art of the deal guy, so why are we not talking about ways to -- it won`t be fun, it`s not easy.  You have to give up things.  But there has to be some kind of discussion with the people who are pulling the strings in Syria, and confronting them militarily, well, you know, that`s not going to be great for Syrians, is it?

HAYES:  That`s a really good point.

REID:  Yeah.

HAYES:  I mean, part of this is that, again, the context of what is foregrounded and backgrounded, that there`s sort of attention to Alia`s point about the sort of limits of the conversation.  You know, in a broad sense, I mean, this is something that I banged on about a bit, is that there`s a war in Yemen that`s threatening a humanitarian catastrophe right now, real genuine.  I mean, numerous groups are warning about famine, about -- that is being pursued by our allies, the Saudis, who could probably be stopped from doing what they`re doing with not much more than a phone all or more.  And that`s not on the table as a sort of humanitarian--

REID:  Yeah, we make these decisions all the time.  I mean, half by bloodline is from the Congo where 3 million people were exterminated in a vicious civil war that we didn`t feel the need to inervene in.  And though certain a humanitarian catastrophe.  But in the case of Syria, Ba`athist dictator, gassed his own people, regime change.

We`ve seen this movie before.  I did not end well in Iraq.

ZENKO:  And Alia`s point is absolutely correct, when they`re going on it`s hard to imagine, but all wars end.  Internationalized wars last longer because more outside great powers have now collected interest in their and their credibility is on the line, but given that this past administration was able to broker a deal to get rid of Iran`s nuclear program , which was the biggest foreign policy issue of all, it`s unimaginable that this administration cannot find a deal.

Because as we know from history, civil wars are the fuel for terrorism and instability and a lot of problems in the region.

HAYES:  And that seems to you -- I think people watch this horrible (inaudible) house of Syria for so long that the idea of some diplomati solution seems impossible.  But it`s interesting to hear you say that actually has to being the solution.

MALEK:  Yeah, and listen, before we pile up on the current administration, to be fair, President Obama was negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran.  He had -- it`s harder now that we`re not at the table with Iran and Russia, but there was an opportunity there. 

So, these choices haven`t just been rejected by the current administration, they were rejected by the previous administration as well.

HAYES:  All right, Joy Reid and Micah Zenko, and Alia Malek, thank you for having that  conversation.  I feel like the nature of American military involvement is -- we see the world through a straw as soon as the missiles start firing, so it`s sort of useful to take a step back, talk a little bit about what is the context for it.

Be sure Alia`s new book, the home that was our country, a memoir of Syria.  And before we go, I want to mention an event happened tomorrow night Brooklyn for my new book, A Colony in a Nation, the great Wes Lowery joins me to talk about my book about race and policing in America.  He`s got a fantastic book called the can`t kill us all.  and it`s hosted by Green Light Bookstore, part of their Brooklyn Voices Series.  I`m really excited about it.

There`s some tickets still available.  If you`re in the area, come check it out.  Hopefully my voice won`t be gone by then.  We`ll have the details on our Facebook page.

That is All In for this Evening.