Show: All in with Chris Hayes Date: April 11, 2017 Guest: Lawrence Wilkerson, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, David Jolly, Philip Rucker, Julian Sanchez, Michelle Goldberg, David Cay Johnston
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HARDBALL HOST: - appeasers. Yes (INAUDIBLE) this means people who just tell Trump what they think he wants to hear, where the family gives him the right direction. What a perfect definition of a country run by a royal family, again, on the Russian model, the Romanovs, a bad example of having it all and blowing it. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ALL IN HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You had a, you know, someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn`t even sink to the - to the - to using chemical weapons.
HAYES: Communication breakdown.
SPICER: To draw any type of comparison to the Holocaust was inappropriate.
HAYES: From foreign policy to the basics of governing, new signs of confusion and chaos in an understaffed White House.
Republicans face their constituents.
CROWD OF AMERICAN PEOPLE: You lie! You lie!
HAYES: The energized resistance as Kansas republicans fight to defend a congressional seat.
Plus, why a top White House Adviser -
SEBASTIAN GORKA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES DEPUTY ASSISTANT: The era of the pajama boy is over and the alpha males are back.
HAYES: Has made a pro-Nazi group proud. And the troubling pattern immerging.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person.
HAYES: And the stunning tally of days Trump has ditched the White House for the golf house.
TRUMP: Golf, golf, golf. More, more.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
Good evening from Washington, D.C. I`m Chris Hayes. Breaking news tonight from the Washington Post, which is now reporting that the FBI obtained a court order last summer in the midst of the campaign to monitor the communications of none other than Carter Page, an adviser to Donald Trump, as part of an investigation into potential links between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign. More on this story coming up. But this comes as the Trump administration is reeling from yet another self- inflicted wound tonight. You know it`s bad when the President`s Press Secretary is standing in front of the White House apologizing for what he said about Hitler earlier in the day. This episode just the latest evidence of an administration that does not appear at a very basic level to know what it`s doing. Then as the President has been inserting himself into some of the most high-stakes global issues, launching an attack on Syrian government forces and tweeting about solving the problem of a nuclear North Korea, Trump`s administration is having trouble getting out of its own way. The Sean Spicer fiasco began with comments he made at today`s press briefing about Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad`s use of chemical weapons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: We didn`t use chemical weapons in World War II. You know, you had a - you know, someone as despicable as Hitler who didn`t even sink to the - to the - to using chemical weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Shortly after, Spicer was asked to clarify his Hitler comparison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: I think when you come to sarin gas, there was no - he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing. I mean there was clearly - I understand your point. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that. There was not - in a - in a - he brought them into - to the holocaust center, and I understand that. But I`m saying in the way that Assad used them where he went into towns, dropped them down to innocent - into the middle of towns. It was brought - so the use of it, I appreciate the clarification there. That was not the intent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Within the hour, the Press Secretary tried to clarify yet again in a written statement. This time, quote, "in no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the holocaust, however, I was trying to draw a contrast to the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on innocent people." Perhaps realizing the implications of contrasting innocent people with victims of the holocaust, Spicer released another statement just minutes later. "Using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on population centers." Not long after that came yet another statement with the new line out at the end, "any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable." He later made a complete apology to NBC`s Peter Alexander.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: Obviously I was really trying to make sure we talked about the Assad`s actions and some people using chemical weapons. To draw any kind of comparison to the holocaust was inappropriate and insensitive, and obviously, especially during a week like this, regret that.
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: First of all, did the President ask you to make that -
SPICER: Absolutely not. No.
ALEXANDER: What was the intention? What was the - what was the -
SPICER: It doesn`t matter because it was - it was - it was a mistake to try to make any kind of comparison. Assad has done bad things, and to try to make any kind of comparison is a mistake.
ALEXANDER: To be clear, you recognize that Hitler obviously did kill -
SPICER: I`m well aware of what he did. But, again, it was - it was a distinction that didn`t need to get made. They both did horrendous, heinous things to innocent people. And to make any kind of comparison is really regrettable and a mistake.
ALEXANDER: Nancy Pelosi says you should be fired. Is your job safe?
SPICER: I - well, you know what? I made a mistake, I`m owning up to it, and, you know, this is - obviously i would expect or I would hope that everyone understands that we all make mistakes and ask for forgiveness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: This is just the latest evidence of an administration that does not have its act together. Hundreds of high-level jobs have not been filled. A 553 key positions requiring Senate confirmation, just 22 have been confirmed. 53 are awaiting confirmation and a whopping 478 do not even have a nominee presented. Even on the low-stakes stuff like the White House Easter egg roll, this White House is apparently way behind. It`s an annual tradition that draws tens of thousands of people to festivities on the south lawn. This year, according to the New York Times, the White House is struggling to pull it off. The event is this coming Monday. But according to the Times, Washington area public schools that normally receive blocks of tickets for as many as 4,000 children have yet to hear from the White House. Likewise, several groups representing military families who have also accounted for as many as 3,000 guests in recent years, the same group of people doing a shoddy job of running the administration, it is those same people that are conducting foreign policy in overseeing the most powerful military in the history of the world. Today the Commander in Chief took to twitter to address North Korea`s nuclear program quote, "I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. would be far better for them if they solved the North Korea problem. North Korea is looking for trouble. And if China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them. USA." This comes as North Korean state media warn the nation would carry out a nuclear strike if provoked by the U.S. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was just in Italy at a Summit of foreign ministers where he asked a question that reportedly left his diplomatic colleagues befuddled. Quote, "why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine? " I`m joined now by Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to then Secretary Of State Colin Powell. Colonel, let`s start with the Hitler comment, which we don`t have to talk about the sort of trajectory of the historical clumsiness and apology. But, to me, what was striking is, this was pretty clearly a talking point. The President himself in interviews talking about the worst mass murderers haven`t used chemical weapons in this way, which is the kind of rhetoric you normally association with justifications for escalation into a military conflict.
LAWRENCE WILKERSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF: I`m very concerned by that very aspect of it. Let me just say that I think Scott Spicer is kept around because he makes Donald Trump look good. I wouldn`t expect him to depart on that basis alone. The White House is looking so bad that Scott Spicer actually makes our President look good. With regard to some of the remarks about the more visible threats in the world, North Korea being preeminent perhaps right now. From what Secretary Tillerson has said, from what the President has said, from what allegedly transpired in Florida with President Xi, I see so much rank amateurism at work here, just your remarks about the Easter ceremony and no one being notified, it`s clearly indicative of a White House that not only is low on people, it`s low on experience and talent. They can`t seem to even manage the grounds of the White House let alone such significant issues as Russia and Syria and North Korea and on and on.
HAYES: One of the - one challenge has been just simple coordination on what exactly the Syria policy is, and it does seem today that they approached something closer to a consensus. You had Secretary of State Mattis saying, this was about chemical weapons and reinforcing the sort of taboo and norm and international law against them. The President sort of basically saying something like that as well. Do you feel like they`ve arrived at some coherent policy on Syria?
WILKERSON: I certainly hope so. But let`s just look at some of the things they`ve been saying, Chris. They`ve been trying to blame Russia, for example, for irresponsibility in the disruption of Syria`s chemical weapons stocks. I`m sorry. The United States Army and its contractors destroyed 600 metric tons in 42 days of CW stocks. The OPCW and the United Nations were responsible for that. And as far as I can tell, they did a pretty thorough job. So why blame Russia? They don`t even know their facts. Now, Syria might have kept some sarin, some VX, or some other chemicals aside. There`s no doubt they could have done that. But this is ridiculous. The in-expertise, the amateurism, and the lack of fact- checking that`s going on even with people like Jim Mattis.
HAYES: You know, there`s also - yes, Jim Mattis also had to sort of apologized today because he had said that we took out 20 percent of the fixed-wing planes that they had, which was not true.
WILKERSON: Took out 20, yes.
HAYES: Right, two of which is different obviously unless the denominator is a hundred. But here`s my question to you. I mean, we also have this Tillerson question about Ukraine, right? At the - at the meeting of foreign ministers. And, again, this real sense that the foreign policy of this government is essentially up for grabs for whoever who sort of moves first or most strongly in the public eye. And what that - what that means for other states that are attempting to make strategic judgments about how to interact with us.
WILKERSON: It means that they`re terribly confused, including our most prominent allies in the world. We don`t know. They don`t know exactly what`s going to happen at any given time. I remember - remember very vividly how this happened with the Bush administration in the first term when Dick Cheney was more or less running everything, and no one knew what was going to come out until Dick had made up his mind. This was very disconcerting for our allies. Well, at least Mr. Cheney was competent, experienced, and an extremely good bureaucrat. This is amateurism, and amateurism looks to the world just like what it is - amateurism.
HAYES: Colonel, do you think that there`s any danger now of escalation in Syria if, for instance, there`s evidence of more chemical weapons attacks, that essentially a line`s been drawn that has to now be backed up no matter what?
WILKERSON: I think we can take Mr. Putin at his word. There are going to be - I think he said, more fake chemical attacks. I don`t take that as disingenuously as maybe other Americans do because I have seen no intelligence that convinces me that the provenance of those attacks in Idlib province were, in fact - was, in fact, the Syrian government. So I`m really worried about this. And I know, Chris, that we`re already committing forces in Syria that we weren`t committing before. The rules of engagement have changed. You may have seen above the faux left side, Washington Post first front page this morning, you had active duty army actually saying that the changed rules of engagement are killing more civilians around Mosul and other places. So, again, I don`t see any coherence developing here even though I understand the military is in charge of the strategy. I really don`t see coherence yet.
HAYES: All right. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, thank you.
WILKERSON: Thank you.
HAYES: Joining me now, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher of the Nation and former Congressman David Jolly. Katrina, you know, there`s this line that Eric Trump said, and I`ve now seen conservatives repeat it, which is, well, look, the Syria strike proves that Trump is not tied or overly sympathetic to Russia. And one wonders whether they now perceive that there`s political upside in increasing escalation with Russia as a sort of means of producing some sort of domestic political effect with regards to the ongoing investigation there.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, THE NATION EDITOR AND PUBLISHER: Let me flip that if I could. Colonel Wilkerson made a very important point about the importance of the 2013 diplomatic agreement to dismantle chemical weapons in Syria, Chris. You`ve been tweeting about that. I think it`s important because President Obama spoke of the playbook in Washington among the foreign policy establishment. That playbook assigns credibility to use of military force. President Obama pushed back against a discredited foreign policy establishment. But now that diplomatic agreement is being castigated, dismissed, criticized by even Obama supporters. And I don`t think - I think it`s unhealthy. I think Lawrence Wilkerson also said - made a good point that what was the rush? We`ve seen horrific, heinous chemical weapons attacks in Syria before. Why not an independent investigation of the source of those attacks? Why not a presentation to Congress or the United Nations?
HEUVEL: In terms of Russia, let me flip it, Chris -
HAYES: Wait. Let me stop you there because Lawrence Wilkerson said this. And I just want to be clear about this, right? So, I have seen people calling into the question whether the chemical weapons that were deployed, that we saw the images of in Idlib were in fact from the Assad regime. Now, AFP was on the scene fairly quickly after the first reporters that I saw get there who had pretty consistent eyewitness accounts of an airplane flying over -
HEUVEL: I`m just saying there should have been an independent investigation, Chris, before the rush because what you`re witnessing now, and let me bring up the Russia question, is put aside the Trump son and what they`re saying. And I do think to the certain extent, there could have been a targeting of domestic critics. I think Trump wanted to get this Russia-Kremlin gate of his back. But what we`re faced with tonight is that we are probably closer to war than we have been since the Cuban missile crisis. The Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who is the most pro- western in that Putin government, said after the Syrian strikes, we are on the verge of military clashes. I think this country needs to wake up. We`re talking about Sean Spicer and his ahistorical - I mean he`s on the wrong side of a history but history doesn`t even know. We need to remember our history that we are in a very, very dangerous moment. And those foreign ministers at the G7, Germany, and Italy`s Foreign Ministers, and this is not reported in the United States, said, we need Iran and Russia if we are going to have a political solution in Syria. That is not reported. There is a different stance in parts of Europe. It is not all about NATO expansion and poking Russia in the eye.
HAYES: David - well, David, let me ask you this. Do you trust that the team is in the White House can navigate something like what the next step in Syria is or what appears to be an increasingly fraught possible confrontation with North Korea? I don`t even want to use that word, but that`s how it looks.
DAVID JOLLY, U.S. FORMER CONGRESSMAN: No, look, Syria is a hard question, and if it was easy, Obama would have solved it and, he was unable to respectfully. But look, we have an historically unpopular President with a credibility gap and an incoherent foreign policy strategy. He said Obama shouldn`t have gone in. Then Trump did. And now he`s saying he wouldn`t have had to if Obama had gone in. The question is what is next, Chris, to your point because, listen, it does make a statement to say you will not use chemical weapons on your own people, and therefore there`s retribution. The question is does he escalate? Perhaps not. Perhaps this is saying there is a line, and we will stay out of the civil war as Trump has said he wanted to during the campaign.
HAYES: Although that line about chemical weapons, the President himself today talking about barrel bombs, which have killed far, far, far, far more children in Syria than chemical weapons. Sean Spicer himself appearing to enunciate a barrel bomb red line, which would obviously be much more expensive, Katrina, even though the moral logic of it is actually pretty impeccable to my mind because either way, you have dead innocents.
HEUVEL: And you know, Secretary Tillerson and Nikki Haley at the U.N., there is an - there`s either a severe incoherence or there`s a fictionalization in this administration, which is surfacing and is very difficult to understand. But let`s also understand it`s not just the Syria strikes we`re witnessing, an escalation in Yemen, in Somalia, an escalation of counterterrorism strikes, an escalation of killing of civilians, and I`m worried about a catastrophic collision course this administration. And think of those who are applauding the Syria strike, Chris. I mean, to me, this disastrous Presidency, one of its worst acts possibly was Syria strikes and you heard these pundits and foreign policies establishment types applauding. Sanity is needed. Common sense.
HAYES: David, that brings me to this question which is that one of the things in the republican party, there was a central civil war about this posture towards foreign intervention, particularly along the lines of, say, enforcing a chemical weapons ban. And Donald Trump won by repudiating the Bush legacy.
JOLLY: He did.
HAYES: Very explicitly. I think - and you tell me. I think that`s still where the base of the republican party is in their heart.
JOLLY: I think they`re conflicted, yes. Look, the President has zero credibility. Nobody is suggesting that he has credibility on this issue. But the question as to whether or not he made the right decision, I would push back a little bit on Katrina. It did receive affirmation of both democrats and republicans. Chris, I went down to the Syrian border. I visited a refugee camp from the children to the adults. Families wanted to go home. And there was a father before I left who said, how are you going to help? How are you going to help? Chris, I didn`t have an answer. And that conversation stick with me a year - a year later.
HEUVEL: But, David, it`s not through bombs.
HEUVEL: It`s not through bombs. Think of - think of the hypocrisy of a President saying he`s anguished looking at those civilian casualties when he won`t even let those -
JOLLY: No, listen to the father who had to bury his twins.
HEUVEL: He won`t let refugees into this country -
JOLLY: Listen to the father who had to bury his twins. Explain to the father who had to bury his twins why we shouldn`t intervene and try to prevent that from happening.
HAYES: Yes. I mean, let me just say this. Two things. One, there is no answer to that father, whether that airfield is struck or not. So let`s be clear about there`s no incremental progress has made for that father. And as for answering that question, which is a very difficult moral one, there are a lot of fathers in a lot of other places including in Yemen right now who would like to see the U.S. play a role different than the one it is. Katrina Vanden Heuvel and David Jolly, thank you.
HEUVEL: Thank you.
JOLLY: You got it. good to be with you.
HAYES: Still ahead, more on that breaking news I mentioned earlier. The FBI was granted a FISA warrant to monitor the communications of Trump adviser Carter Page last summer as part of an investigation into possible ties to Russian agents. More on that development after this two-minute break.
HAYES: Breaking news tonight. The Washington Post is reporting that the FBI obtained a FISA warrant last year to monitor former Trump adviser Carter Page. Quote, the FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page`s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge there was probable cause to believe - this is the key part - Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case, Russia, according to officials. This appears to be the first confirmation that a FISA warrant was in fact approved to investigate contacts between Russian intelligence and Trump associates. Joining me now, Philip Rucker, White House Bureau Chief for the Washington Post which broke the story and Julian Sanchez, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and the Founding Editor at the Policy Blog Just Security. Julian, let me start with you and then I`ll come to you, Philip. The FISA is intended to spy on or surveil foreign intelligence, right? So there`s supposed to be a fairly high bar to actually target an American citizen and not just incidentally sweep the mop, is that right?
JULIAN SANCHEZ, CATO INSTITUTE SENIOR FELLOW: That`s right. There`s actually two different sets of standards under FISA for getting a warrant that depend on whether the target is a U.S. person or not. If it`s a foreigner, essentially if they`re working for a foreign government, that`s more or less enough. For a U.S. person, it`s not enough to show that they`re in the employ of a foreign government. You have to show that they`re engaged in clandestine intelligence activities and doing so knowingly. So it wouldn`t be enough even if he had been unwittingly recruited as an asset. So the obvious question then is what is the evidence they had that he was engaged in that kind of conduct? And then how did someone who might have been engaged in that conduct end up as one of a relatively small number of foreign policy advisers to the Trump campaign?
HAYES: Yes. So, that`s key here. And Phillip, the reason this reporting is so important is we`ve had stories floating around about possible FISAs.
PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Right.
HAYES: And two different British outlets, The Guardian and Heat Street have both had the story. This is the first sort of big American outlet to nail down this story and nail down a target for it.
RUCKER: That`s right, and it only nails down one target. It`s this gentleman Carter Page who was an adviser for some time on the Trump campaign. Now, the Trump officials would contest that and say he wasn`t a formal adviser but he did play a role during that period of time in helping shape the foreign policy talking with the campaign.
HAYES: We should - I should also note that when he sat down with your fine paper and the now President of the United States was asked to name foreign policy advisers, out of his lips came the name Carter Page, comma, Ph.D.
RUCKER: That`s correct. And the significance here is that Carter Page is just somebody who has a long history in Russia. He lived in Moscow. He worked in business in Russia. And the U.S. government felt strongly enough that there was some suspicions there that they were worried he was acting on behalf of Russia in dealing with the Trump campaign and dealing his communications back and forth, that it was enough to warrant this warrant.
HAYES: This is also the individual, we should note, who recently was revealed in FBI charging documents in the southern district of New York had contact with foreign intelligence officials who were being charged in that court.
RUCKER: Exactly right.
HAYES: Julian, the second part of this, right? So it`s not just that - because part of the thing that`s hard about evaluating the evidence on this story is how should I - how should I be thinking about what has been shown here? And to me what`s striking here is that they were able to get this FISA warrant and that that wasn`t just a unilateral decision. That does have to go before a judge, again with this relatively high standard in the context of FISA.
SANCHEZ: That`s right. I mean there are in a way two different ways to read this, either of which is sort of a big deal. One is, they, in fact, had probable cause to believe this guy was knowingly acting as a foreign agent and indeed - acting as a foreign agent ways that either do or may involve violations of U.S. criminal law. The narrative I`m sure that Page (INAUDIBLE) who would prefer is, the alternative is that this is an adviser to a Presidential campaign and, you know, the other possibility is that there wasn`t very strong evidence. And then you would have questions about - you know, how scrupulous the FISA court is being in evaluating evidence. So these are just two sharply contrasting possibilities but it`s a big deal either way.
HAYES: Well, and I saw someone - I saw a writer for Breitbart saying, see, the surveillance on Trump campaign officials although I then saw another Trump associated person say, well, he was never an adviser even though he was talked about. But this will now - I mean this now, talk about fuel on the bonfire of this story.
RUCKER: Exactly. And it makes it a bigger story. We have so many more questions here that need to be answered. One thing that`s important, though, is this is not evidence of what Donald Trump accused President Obama of having done back then, which was personally authorizing wiretapping of Trump tower. This is just a Carter page situation.
HAYES: Right. And also Julian, it comes from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. You`ve probably heard of it. It`s called the FBI. It`s run by a guy named James Comey, who we now know was supervising FISA warrants on this possible investigation, which he has now confirmed in open congress when he wrote the letter about Hillary Clinton`s e-mails.
SANCHEZ: Yes, I know. I mean, it is striking. I think what Comey would probably say is, well, that was a closed investigation although then the question is what were they continuing to look at, and this was an open one. So there - I mean, there`s a weird irony there in that the more genuine suspicion they continued to have or the extent to which they hadn`t resolved the question of whether there was wrongdoing involved -
SANCHEZ: - they were less able to speak publicly about it.
HAYES: That is a great point, right? Like, well, this was quite serious. We didn`t want to say anything. The other thing that we publicly announced, that was basically case closed, hence writing that letter ten days before the election. Philip Rucker, Julian Sanchez, thanks for joining us.
RUCKER: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, Town Halls are back, and the resistance is as strong as ever. Lawmakers getting some face time with some very unhappy constituents ahead.
HAYES: Polls have closed in the special Congressional Election in Kansas`s fourth district to replace former Congressman Mike Pompeo, who`s now the CIA Director. And it is the first Congressional Election since Donald Trump became President of the United States. With less than 1 percent of the votes tallied, the democrat is leading. It may be a while before the full results are in. What we do know is that it never should have been this hard for republicans to defend this seat. It`s a district that has not gone democratic in more than two decades. Local republicans have enlisted the help of House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Vice-President Mike Pence and the President who recorded this Robocall for GOP candidate Ron Estes.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: On Tuesday, republican Ron Estes needs your vote and needs it badly. Ron is a conservative leader whose going to work with me to make America great again. We`re going to do things really great for our country. Our country needs help. Ron is going to be helping us, big league. But I need republicans like Ron Estes to help me get the job done. This is an important election. There`s really few very much more important, and I need your vote for Ron Estes on Tuesday.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: Not a whole lot of clues about what Ron Estes on Tuesday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Not a whole lot of clues about what Ron Estes stands for or would fight for in congress, although the president attempted to raise some actual issues with today`s tweet. "Ron Estes is running today for congress in the great state of Kansas. A wonderful guy. I need his help on held care and tax cuts (reform)."
Though a victory for the Democratic candidate, James Thompson, civil rights attorney, is a very long shot, the level of enthusiasm among Democrats is clear, both in Kansas in that district and across the nation. For instance, at a town hall in South Carolina, Congressman Joe Wilson, infamous for his "you lie" outburst at President Obama`s 2009 address to congress found himself on the receiving end of that same charge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: You lie. You lie. You lie. You lie. You lie.
(END VIDEO CILP)
HAYES: What that crowd and others were so riled up about next.
HAYES: Republican Congressman Joe Wilson got an earful from constituents at a town hall in Aikens, South Carolina, last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE WILSON, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: We have a new president who is making a positive difference.
WILSON: Health care again, we need to replace Obamacare so that...
WILSON: Obamacare is denying services, it`s delaying services.
CROWD: You lie. You lie. You lie. You lie. You lie. You lie. You lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It`s not just town hall meetings getting flooded by outraged voters, The Wall Street Journal described a surging wave of activists who are pouring money and energy into anti-Trump causes wherever they can find them.
Town hall crowds are still vocal in support of the Affordable Care Act and a range of issues as Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida discovered at his town hall meeting in Gainesville.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TED YOHO, (R) FLORIDA: I am not going to support Planned Parenthood.
YOHO: My fight`s not with Planned Parenthood, my fight is with no taxpayers` money going to any organization that does abortions.
YOHO: I don`t believe the federal government should have a role in providing health care for everybody.
YOHO: I stand with the second amendment. My job is to defend the second amendment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, MSNBC contributor Anand GIRIDHARADAS who has recently traveled to several red states to discuss ideas about resistance and reconciliation in the Trump administration, author of The True American.
Anand, you know, I was thinking about you because a lot of what we`re seeing, whether it`s in this Kansas district, the Georgia district, which is a Republican district, or even those town halls, right, those are hard core Republican districts this stuff is happening in. It`s a reminder that it`s a big enough country that when you`ve got hundreds of thousands of people in a place, a congressional district, there`s going to be some critical mass of people even if they`re not the majority, who don`t support the president.
ANAND GIRIDHARADAS, AUTHOR: That`s true.
And, you know, I think for someone like me, frankly, who finds this president to be profoundly dangerous, there`s something thrilling about the videos you just showed. People are stepping up. People are getting activated. People are resisting.
But let me say that I also find something a little disturbing about those videos and the thousands of others that you could have played, which is that we`re not talking to each other. It`s very helpful to resist dangerous power, which is what I think this president represents. But I think we`re doing less of a good job at being mindful of the circumstances in our unhealthy body politic that allowed someone like this to win.
And I think the resistance is actually doing much better than the reconciliation.
HAYES: You know, I think that`s interesting, although I also think that it`s a question of how much you learn from the Tea Party, right, because the Tea Party was not real into reconciliation. They were into activation, mobilization, strenuously protesting and saying, no, no, no. And it was politically effective, at least in a sort of short-term tactical sense, particularly when you look at special elections, and the mid-terms. And it seems to me that that`s the model right now for the folks that are on the other side. Do you think that model is incomplete?
GIRDHARADAS: I don`t think it was a brilliant long-term strategy. I don`t think they won the future. I don`t think the America of the next 50 years is the America they wanted.
So I actually think they`re probably not a great example to follow, but they are parallel in that I think movements like this have a choice about whether they want to be kind of purist and exclusionary or whether they want to be inclusive.
And I think, you know, I am probably as strident as you can get about this president being dangerous. But when I`m in a lot of these conversations and circles about what to do, I find there`s an exclusionary tone, and there`s actually a lack of interest in poaching 5 percent of the other side.
HAYES: I think there`s probably less of that, though? Don`t you think there`s less of that in places like, say, the Kansas fourth district where folks are living and working and hanging out all the time with folks that did vote for Trump.
I think the way that got sculpted there is different.
GIRDHARADAS: Totally. And that`s what I learned going out to these places. And western Michigan was so interesting. I was in an area that`s Betsy DeVos country. The interesting thing is people`s lives and families and communities are much more divided and mixed politically than ours are here in New York. I mean, it`s very common to go to dinners in New York and Washington and it`s maybe all anti-Trump people or maybe all Trump people.
But out there, people don`t have the luxury of being so purist. And I think we can actually learn from them because this resistance will fail if it is a movement of the already woke and it`s not interested in expanding and poaching and drawing people in who may be on the fence.
Anand Ghirdharadas, thanks so much for your time.
GHIRDHARADAS: Thank you so much.
HAYES: Still to come, meet Sebastian Gorka, remeet Sebastian Gorka, counterterrorism adviser to the president, who recently garnered praise from a group with Nazi ties because of something in this picture. I`ll tell you why ahead.
Plus, everybody needs a hobby. That`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two after the break.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, if there`s one thing that Donald Trump was adamant about on the campaign trail, it was how much time a president should spend at the White House rather than a golf course.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I love golf, but if I were in the White House, I don`t think I`d ever see Turnberry again. I don`t think I`d ever see Doral again. I won Doral in Miami. I don`t think I`d ever see many of the places that I have. I don`t ever think I`d see anything. I`d just want to stay in the White House and work my ass off, make great deals, right? Who`s going to leave?
There won`t be time to go on vacations. There won`t be time to go golfing all the time.
I`m not going to play much golf, because there`s a lot of work to be done.
You need leadership. You know, you can`t fly to Hawaii to play golf.
I don`t know where the president was. He wasn`t very far away, maybe he was playing golf.
Obama, it was reported today, played 250 rounds of golf.
Obama went golfing every day. Did Obama go play golf every day?
Obama plays more golf than professional players in the PGA tour.
He`s playing a lot of golf. He`s played more than most PGA touring professionals play.
More than a guy who plays on the PGA Tour plays.
Plays more golf.
Plays more golf.
I mean this guy, golf, golf, golf, golf; more, more. Learning how to chip, learning how to hit the drive, learning how to putt. Oh, I want more.
If you become president and you go to the White House, why would you want to leave the White House?
When you`re in the White House, who the hell wants to play golf?
Who wants to leave the White House? How the hell do you leave for three weeks to play golf?
If I get elected president, I`m going to be in the White House a lot. I`m not leaving.
I`m going to be working for you, I`m not going to have time to go play golf, believe me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I think you know what Thing Two is going to be. That`s in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Well, this weekend President Trump is heading back to his luxury golf resort in Florida at considerable cost to his neighbors.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the county is debating a special tax on Mar-a-Lago to offset the cost of the presidential presence. Right now, Palm Beach County spends more than $60,000 a day when the president visits, mostly for law enforcement overtime or almost $2 million since January.
This will be the president`s seventh trip to Mar-a-Lago since he took office. According to The New York Times, Trump has spent half of his weekends at Mar-a-Lago. And he has spent 17 days, over 20 percent of his presidency, on a golf course breaking a key campaign promise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If I get elected president, I`m going to be in the White House a lot. I`m not leaving.
I`m going to be working for you, I`m not going to have time to go play golf, believe me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEBASTIAN GORKA, TRUMP ADVISER: You know, the message I have, it`s a very simple one. It`s a bumper sticker, Sean. The era of the pajama boy is over January 20, and the alpha males are back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Meet Sebastian Gorka, top Trump counterterrorism adviser and former Breitbart editor, a naturalized American citizen born in London to Hungarian parents.
Gorka is an ally of Steve Bannon who, before coming to the White House, showed up regularly on Fox News to argue the threat of terrorism is fundamentally tied to the religious of Islam. Here he is talking about President Obama`s refusal to use the phrase, radical Islamic terrorism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORKA: Is he an imam? Is he an Islamic theologian? What are his credentials for saying whether or not what ISIS does is Islamic or not? He says it`s a perversion of Islam. Based upon what?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Gorka isn`t just a run of the mill anti-Islamist. Gorka wore the honorary medal of a Hungarian nationalist organization to Trump`s inauguration. Now, the organization was Vitezi Rend was previously listed by the State Department as, and I quote here, under the direction of the Nazi government of Germany, and its founder reportedly once said, and again I quote, I have always been an anti-Semite throughout my life.
A Vetezi Rend spokesman told NBC News, the group was proud Gorka had worn its medal. And three people said he was a well known member of Vitezi Rend back in Hungary, a charge Gorka, we should note, strongly denies.
Meanwhile, an investigation by the Jewish newspaper The Forward, found that Gorka worked with the openly racist and anti-Semitic groups and public figures in Hungary.
The Forward reporting Gorka`s involvement with the far right includes co- founding a political party, with former prominent members of Jobbik, a political party with a well-known history of anti-Semitism, repeatedly publishing articles in a newspaper known for its anti-Semitic and racist content and attending events with some of Hungary`s most notorious extreme right figures.
Gorka, for his part, says he was unaware of his former ally`s connection to the far right and that he only wore the medal to Trump`s inauguration to honor his father.
Gorka continues to work in a Trump administration that has, let`s say struggled a bit on Jewish issues, from President Trump`s apparent reluctance to denounce threats on Jewish community centers, taking weeks to finally condemn the threats, to the White House not mentioning Jews in its holocaust remembrance day tribute to today`s bizarre, astounding comments from Sean Spicer about Hiter and concentration camps, what he called holocaust centers.
When we come back, we`ll look more closely at what exactly is going on when it comes to the Trump White House and Judaism. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We didn`t use chemical weapons in World War II. You know, you had a -- someone as despicable as Hitler who didn`t even sink to the - to using chemical weapons.
It was a mistake to try to make any kind of comparison. Assad has done bad things and to try to make any kind of comparisons is a mistake. I`m absolutely sorry, especially during a week like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now to discuss the Trump administration`s strange struggles with Judaism our Michelle Goldberg, columnist at Slate; and David Cay Johnston, columnist at The Daily Beast.
Michelle, I don`t -- what do you make of all of this? I don`t think the president is anti-semitic. Famously, his daughter converted to Judaism. Jared Kushner is raised orthodox, but it just seems like this constant thing he can`t get this very easy obvious thing tonally, perfectly correct.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, SLATE: Yeah, don`t wear Nazi collaborationist medals to the inauguration. Don`t tweet white supremacist memes of Jewish stars and piles of 100 dollar bills.
I agree with you. I also think that it`s unlikely that Donald Trump is a vicious anti-Semite. I think that he, and certainly parts of his administration, get their ideas from the gutters of the old anti-Semitic and kind of unabashedly racist far right.
And sometimes what you see them doing is repeating classic anti-Semitic language and classic anti-Semitic tropes, just not talking about Jews per se, you know, particularly when they talk about the global financiers that are...
HAYES: The globalists.
GOLDBERG: That are bleeding the working people of this country dry.
And so what you see an administration with a lot of people who have clearly been influenced by anti-Semitic thinkers and anti-Semitic world views.
And I think this thing with Sean Spicer, I think, is not that, right, this was just kind of buffoonish, accidental holocaust denial as opposed to the (inaudible) holocaust denial. But this is why nobody wants to give them the benefit of the doubt because they haven`t earned it.
HAYES: David, Spicer today called up Sheldon Adeleson to apologize, which I sort of love this as a sort of designated Jewish person to whom one apologizes. Spicer reached out to Adelson`s office. Said he made a terrible mistake, apologized for the offensive, per Adelson`s spokesman.
There`s something sort of weird about that, too, though.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, let`s keep in mind that, Donald Trump is a man who has a long and well documented history of discriminating against various people; not Jews but blacks, women, Asians, in employment and in housing.
Earlier today, Trump himself made some comments that were consistent with Sean Spicer`s awful comments. And by the way, let`s give Spicer credit for one thing, unlike the politicians and business leaders who come out and say if I offended, I apologize. Spicer demonstrated that he has good manners. He just apologized.
HAYES: Yes, he did.
And Michelle, to me, the -- it gets back to the idea of the sort of, when you, at the sort of -- when you move out from the center of the actual administration, you get to a very strange and dark place on the far right pretty quickly.
And you don`t have to play that many dot connecting to get there, which is why you end up in this place time and time again.
GOLDBERG: Right, it`s not six degrees of separation, it`s one degree of separation.
HAYES: Sebastian Gorka.
GOLDBERG: Right. Sebastian Gorka, when you have this person who his exact connection to this Nazi-aligned group is disputed, but at the very least he admits that he wears their medal. He`s adopted members of his group adopt a lower case "V" as a middle initial, which he has done. He said that sometimes he inherited his membership from his father and didn`t actually pledge a lifetime oath of loyalty as members of the group claim that he did.
But, you know, I`m old enough to remember 12 weeks ago when even just kind of that degree of association with Nazism would be enough to get you drummed out of the White House.
HAYES: And, David, you wonder whether we will see that. I mean, Gorka is a part of a wing of the White House that has not been faring particularly well, including KJ McFarland and Michael Flynn and others in the Bannon orbit.
JOHNSTON: Well, Donald, will keep around him people as long as he thinks it`s useful to him and helpful to him. And he has no loyalty. He demands 100 percent loyalty from everybody else. But you have a White House that is infected with white-skinned privilege and the luminosity of white skin on the people who work in this White House blinds them to many, many things.
HAYES: Yeah, that`s a good point. It has not been a particularly diverse place generally in the early days here. And it does -- we see it all the time in every institution, whether it`s the media, whether it`s politics, it does matter who is in the room.
Michelle Goldberg, David Cay Johnston, appreciate it.
That`s All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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