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All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 4/13/2017

Guests: Shannon Pettypiece, Ben Howe, David Nakamura

Show: All in with Chris Hayes  Date: April 13, 2017 Guest: Shannon Pettypiece, Ben Howe, David Nakamura

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HARDBALL HOST: - war. What do you think about this "my" thing when it comes to the forces fighting for our country? That's HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Joy Reid filling in for Chris Hayes starts right now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We have given them total authorization.

REID: America just used the largest bomb yet in Afghanistan, but who gave the order?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the President not know about the MOAB strike?"

REID: Trump's cabinet of generals and the expanding military footprint.

TRUMP: I would bomb the (BLEEP) out of them.

REID: Then, the fight for health care. Republicans hear from their voters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want this repeal crap to stop.

REID: As the President threatens to sabotage ObamaCare.

Plus, leaked plans for the Trump deportation force.

TRUMP: We have to do it.

REID: And about that cake.

TRUMP: We had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you've ever seen.

REID: What Mar-a-Lago doesn't want you to know about its kitchen.

TRUMP: President XI was enjoying it.

REID: When ALL IN starts right now.

Good evening from New York, I'm Joy Reed in for Chris Hayes. Today the U.S. dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat. The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast or MOAB is informally known as "the mother of all bombs", onto an Islamic state tunnel complex in an Eastern - in Eastern Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan. Now, this is the file footage of the 22,000-pound MOAB being tested in Florida back in 2003. Until today, it had never actually been used against an enemy. Despite that, this afternoon Donald Trump appeared to indicate he was not involved in the decision to deploy the bomb. And even at this hour, it's not clear whether he knew about the strike before it took place.


TRUMP: We are so proud of our military, and it was another successful event.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you authorize it, Sir?

TRUMP: Everybody knows exactly what happened, so - and what I do, is I authorize my military. We have the greatest military in the world, and they've done a job as usual. So we have given them total authorization, and that's what they're doing.


REID: At the White House briefing today, Press Secretary Sean Spicer refused to say whether the President authorized the strike and ignored questions over whether Trump had known about it.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS I hate to cut this short, but we literally have ten minutes before the President is going to speak.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the President not know about the MOAB strike?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sean, can we get any clarity on this?


REID: During the campaign, then-candidate Trump said he had a, quote, "secret plan to totally obliterate ISIS," and he maintained that America's generals, quote, "don't know much because they're not winning."


TRUMP: I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me. ISIS is making a tremendous amount of money because they have certain oil caps, right? They have certain areas of oil that they took away. They have some in Syria, some in Iraq. I would bomb the (BLEEP) out of them.


REID: Despite promising to set those generals straight once in office, as President, Trump has shifted more authority over military operations to the Pentagon. And he installed generals in multiple top cabinet positions including Defense Secretary James Mattis, who needed a waiver to take the job since the law mandates civilian control of the military. Trump isn't just deferring to the generals, the record so far suggests that the Commander in Chief is essentially outsourcing his military policy to them while spending nearly every weekend at Mar-a-Lago, including this one. Trump flew down to his private club this afternoon, and it sounds like he's planning to relax on his own. Bloomberg reports that no Trump - Senior Trump staff were on air force one, and none are meeting him in Florida this Easter weekend. Despite being something of an absentee landlord lately, Trump's use of the military in his first 84 days has been incredibly aggressive. The first Trump era U.S. military raid was in Yemen in January leading to the death of a Navy S.E.A.L. and an 8-year-old American girl. One official described the operation this way, saying, quote, almost everything went wrong. Trump, for his part, blamed the generals.


TRUMP: They came to see me. They explained what they wanted to do - the generals, who are very respected. My generals are the most respected that we've had in many decades, I would - I believe. And they lost Ryan.


REID: Despite what Trump cast as the generals' failure, he continued to empower them. Last month, the Trump administration moved ahead with plans to make it easier for the CIA and the military to target suspected terrorists with drone strikes, even if it means tolerating more civilian casualties. There has, in fact, been a surge in reported civilian casualties in the U.S. air campaign against the so-called Islamic state. And under Trump, a massive increase in U.S. drone strikes, more broadly, almost one every two days according to the council on foreign relations compared to one every 5.4 days under President Obama.

Today, tragically, marked the third time this month a U.S.-led airstrike may have killed civilians or even our allies, with 18 Syrian fighters allied with the U.S. killed in a coalition airstrike in Syria. The Pentagon blamed partner forces. That news comes on the heels of last week's air strike in Syria and now today the decision to launch the mother of all bombs. And we are just 84 days into the Trump administration. I'm joined by Republican Strategist, MSNBC Contributor Steve Schmidt, and Lawrence Korb, former Assistant Secretary of Defence and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for American Progress. Gentleman, thank you for being here. Larry, I'm going to go to you first on this because there is a very strange Donald Trump relationship to the military. He claimed during the campaign that he knew more about the generals, that essentially he was smarter than them about ISIS. But now that he's in office he essentially outsourced everything to them. What do you make of that tactic?

LAURENCE KORB, U.S. FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENCE: Well, President Trump is trying to have it both ways. He's outsourcing to them and if something goes wrong, he will blame them. And he's also making a very tragic mistake as you pointed out here with the number of civilian casualties. That's why you need a civilian to oversee what the military wants. I don't blame the military. I remember when I used to fly for the Navy, you'd want to, you know, go after the enemy. You've got to have somebody who looks at the civilian casualties. And for him to say he did not know about dropping this so-called mother of all bombs, basically if I can paraphrase General McMaster's book, that's a dereliction of duty. The first time you drop that bomb, the President's got to be involved.

REID: Yes. And you know, Steve, I'm not sure which would be worse, if he didn't know about it at all -


REID: - and just outsourced and let them do it, or if he knew about it and won't tell us. There's always this weird way he talks about the military. I want to play it one more time when he talked about how this was planned. This is him talking about "my military."


TRUMP: What I do is I authority my military. We have the greatest military in the world, and they've done a job as usual. So we have given them total authorization, and that's what they're doing.


REID: This is weird paternalistic sort attitude toward the military. It's his military.

SCHMIDT: No. It's our military.

REID: Exactly.

SCHMIDT: America's.

REID: Do you think that the voters - you know, people who selected Trump for President, is this what they wanted, a President who would essentially take the gloves off but say to the military, do whatever you want. Let me know. I'll be at Mar-a-Lago. SCHMIDT: I think that we're looking at a couple different issues and we shouldn't conflate them. I think first the strike in Syria re-established a very important red line, that the use of chemical weapons by any country will provoke a military strike by the United States. I think it was targeted, it was proportional. It was appropriate. I think in the campaign, he was very clear that he was going to step up militarily the pressure against ISIS, and ISIS is a deadly foe, dangerous. There's no room for negotiation here. They need to be destroyed, and I think you see an increasing tempo of strikes in order to do that.

REID: Yes. And it's interesting you mentioned a red line because it seems that the administration was trying to establish two red lines at once. We have the one to Steve's point, Larry, against ISIS. But then you have this second one against North Korea, which we know that is going to apparently do some sort of demonstration against themselves. And this is Leon Panetta on "HARDBALL," talking about the seeming other kind of threat that Donald Trump is sort of vaguely making that if China can't handle North Korea, we would somehow do it. This is Leon Panetta, former CIA Director earlier tonight.


LEON PANETTA, UNITED STATES FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: The fact is we're dealing with a nuclear-powered nation. If we were to try to attack them, they would virtually wipe out Seoul and 20 million people who live in Seoul. And if it became a nuclear war, which is likely, millions of lives would be lost. And that's the reason we haven't pulled the trigger. The fact is we've used both containment and deterrence as a principal policy here. I think frankly, in the end, that's what we're left with whether we like it or not. And frankly, it was containment and deterrence that ultimately resulted in the Soviet Union self-destructing.


REID: Yes. Larry Korb, you worked in the Reagan administration. That was Reagan's doctrine, is that you use containment. Can Donald Trump successfully maintain this hyper-aggressive posture against North Korea and this red line against ISIS at the same time? KORB: Well, you hope so because they are totally different. North Korea as Secretary Panetta said, they have artillery 20 to 30 miles from Seoul, and they could literally, you know, with these thousands of artillery strikes wipe out 20 million people. That's without even using their nuclear weapons, which they have. And if we attack them, we wouldn't get all of the nuclear weapons. And so, I mean to me, I hope that he differentiates between the two, but I also hope that when we do these significant things like dropping this mother of all bombs, that he gets involved. General Mattis is a great person, but you've got all these military people here. They do not have the civilian perspective that our founders established by having civilian control of the military. So it really behooves him, of all Presidents, to get more involved. His national security adviser is also a military person. REID: Yes. KORB: So really he needs to get some civilians in there. And that's got to be him. REID: And he's surrounded himself, Steve, with all of these generals. Donald Trump really does seem to get sort of an emotional charge out of being connected to the military or being sort of associated with them. He didn't serve himself obviously during Vietnam. He got deferments. But what - I mean is there a concern? I'll just put it that way, that some of what Trump is doing is trying to get the approval that he gets from using the military, the sort of love from the media he gets, the sort of respite from the ridicule and attacks on his other aspects of his agenda by using the military sort of as a way to boost himself? SCHMIDT: Well, I think we saw during the campaign is that Donald Trump has this remarkable intuition, this native intelligence almost on how to please the crowd, how to get the - how to get the applause. I think it's innate to who he is as a marketer, as a communicator. And we live in an era where trust in public institutions in this country has completely collapse across the board. I think it's one of the defining crises in America of our time with one exception, and that's the United States Military, which has risen in esteem in the eyes of the American People. And I think you, from my perspective, you look at someone who has the radical worldview of a Steve Bannon, the antagonism to the U.S.-led liberal, global order that presidents from Truman through Obama, whether they were republicans or democrats, all bought into. I think people like H.R. McMaster, Jim Mattis, erudite, extremely well read, historically prepared. You know, as Douglas MacArthur pointed out in his farewell address, it's the soldier who hates war more than all the others because he's seen the terrible cost of it. It's - I'm reassured by the presence of these mainstream figures around Donald Trump. McMaster, Mattis, and Donald Trump is right. The United States Military is one of the most remarkable institutions in the world. It's hyper-competent. It's efficient, and I think that he likes the glow being associated with it that it gives him.

REID: Yes. I think the concern that a lot of people have, though, of course, is that we have a civilian-led government,

SCHMIDT: Yes. Of course.

REID: And Donald Trump has put together almost a vare of military leaders and then he's essentially said they're running - they're running things. They're running the country and you should be reassured by them, not by the President of the United States. That's just a little bit disturbing, I think to a lot of people. But Steve Schmidt, Laurence Korb, thank you both. KORB: Thank you. REID: You guys are great. Thanks.

Coming up, having rekindled his interest in repealing and replacing ObamaCare, Donald Trump has come out with a new tactic, threatening to sabotage ObamaCare and leave millions of Americans holding the bag. How democrats are fighting back after this two-minute break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) REID: Over the last 84 days, we've watched Donald Trump go through three different stages of repealing and replacing ObamaCare. Stage one, urgency. Stage two, indifference. And, three, threats. The President told the Wall Street Journal, he may try and force democrats to the negotiating table by threatening to withhold government payments to insurant - insurers. These payments fund the subsidies that make coverage more affordable to people with lower incomes. Without them, the market would likely collapse. The President told the journal, quote, "ObamaCare is dead next month if it doesn't get that money. I haven't made my viewpoint clear yet. I don't want people to get hurt. What I think should happen and what will happen is the democrats will start calling me and negotiating." Democrats are countering, however, with some threats of their own. According to the Washington Post, democratic leaders are determined to use their leverage in the upcoming spending fight to force the Trump administration to make the payments. The President's handling of the first health care bill has been the only thing so far to have a real impact on his approval rating and not in a good way. Now, he's going back for more and he's threatening to drag the rest of his party down with him. With Congress on recess this week, Town Halls are back in full swing. And just like last time, health care is at the top of the agenda.


ANDY BIGGS, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM ARIZONA: I talked to health insurance companies, which, by the way, we only have one in the state that will (INAUDIBLE) these policies. One, if you live in (INAUDIBLE) Tennessee, you don't have anybody. Most states right now have one. So, (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a registered republican in your house district. I'm sorry to say I was shocked that you declared your intention to vote for the American health care reform act, the so-called Trumcare bill and to replace the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare. That's not the way we do things here in Colorado. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's sad to see these huge insurance premium increases that are going up. We're living right now under ObamaCare. It's the law of the land. It's the law of the land, and you can thank ObamaCare - you can thank ObamaCare for these huge (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why we need to repeal and replace ObamaCare. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sit down with the democrats and fix the affordable care act. I want this repeal crap to stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP) REID: I'm joined now by Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat from Hawaii. And Senator, you know it's been interesting. You look at the Town Halls and you see that people are showing up clearly angry and terrified frankly that they're going to lose their health care. And on the other hand, you have people like Congressman Dave Brat. I believe he's from Washington state, who is positively giddy about the idea of repealing the Affordable Care Act, saying it's a conservative principle. 50 laboratories, 50 experiments going on simultaneously. You can see what works and what doesn't work. He's talking about ending community rating, essentially ending the requirement that states that insurance companies have to not charge older people more than they charge younger people, ending those requirements in the packages. I don't understand what republicans think people want, but do you detect any desire out there to go back to that old system? BRIAN SCHATZ, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM HAWAII: Well, I think that they spent so much time using ObamaCare as a foil, that they forgot to formulate a policy. And so here they are in charge of both chambers, in charge of the executive branch, and it all fell apart really quickly. Actually without our intervention as democrats. We didn't have the votes to intervene. They didn't approach us to intervene, and yet it all collapsed within because they were lying for the last seven years. The truth is that what Donald Trump and many other republicans said for many, many election cycles is you could get rid of the bad stuff and keep all the good stuff. But the truth is that to the extent that the bad stuff is revenue, you need that revenue for taking care of people with pre-existing conditions, for community rating, for people being able to stay on their parents' plans until they're 26 years old. So all of the things - all of the protections in the Affordable Care Act had to be arranged by virtue of revenue and by virtue of regulations. And now that they don't have President Obama as a foil, this thing fell apart, and it fell apart quickly. So you still have 20 or 30 members of the House who are so ideological that they're willing to inflict pain on their constituents, but the rest of them are just running scared, trying to figure out how to fulfill a campaign promise that nobody wants them to fulfill any more. REID: Right. And I put Dave Brat on wrong state. He's not from Washington state, he's from Virginia. But you know, you've had now Senator Ron Wyden come out and say we're not going to negotiate with hostage takers. That was the quote in the Washington Post. Ron Wyden saying, nope, not going to negotiate with Trump if he's trying to take hostages. But on behind the scenes, are democrats - would democrats cut a deal with the White House if Trump dropped repeal and said, OK, let's do an ObamaCare fix instead and call that Trumpcare? You think democrats would go for that? SCHATZ: Well, so it's a good question. So, I think there's two things. First of all, to the extent that Donald Trump is threatening to withhold money from insurance companies which will harm individuals across the country, which will make hospitals and hospital systems fall apart, if his threat is essentially, I'm going to inflict pain on people and destroy the American health care system, or I'll do it with you, we're not going to negotiate under any circumstances like that. Now, what we have said all along is if they officially drop their proposals to destroy the Affordable Care Act and we talk about iterating legislation and working on a bipartisan basis, everybody knows ACA doesn't work perfectly. But everybody also knows that for any major social legislation, that you iterate it over years that whether it's the Social Security Act, the Medicare act, whatever it may be, the clean air, the clean water act. You have updates to that law. This is one of the very few major social changes that had no updates into the statute, which is why it's a little clunky. If they want to get back to legislating in good faith, we are more than open to that. But they have to drop repeal from their vocabulary. REID: And how far are democrats willing to go? If Donald Trump withdraws from - this was essentially a lawsuit that the House republicans brought, saying that the subsidies to these insurance companies were the moment, it's on appeal. Trump could just say, we're not going to fight it anymore. We're just going to stop paying. How far would democrats go? Would they allow those subsidies to go away in order to stand to this position of not participating in repeal? SCHATZ: Look, this is Donald Trump's decision. I think he's threatening the American people. I think he's also threatening the legislative branch. And one thing that he hasn't figured out is that legislators don't like to be bullied. You know, he's not in real estate anymore. He's sort of trying to treat members of the United States Senate, who are former Governors and Admirals and Astronauts and, you know, TV stars, and people with you know, substantial egos and substantial support in their home states. They cannot be bullied. They will not be bullied, and this idea that you can sort of treat members of Congress, a co-equal branch of government, as though we're sort of a subcontractor in a real estate deal that he wants to stiff, it's one of the reasons that he's been such a failure so far as a President, is he doesn't understand that we have three co-equal branches of government and that the legislature - the legislative branch is not going to be shoved around. So especially on this, we're not going to allow him to hold the American people, the American health care system hostage and negotiate under those terms. Now, if he wants to improve the Affordable Care Act, we're all in. REID: Yes. It is a co-equal branch of government. I think Donald Trump might be learning some civics 101 in his 84 days as President. Senator Brian Schatz, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

SCHATZ: Thank you. REID: Let's bring in Jonathan Cohn who covers politics and health care. He's a Senior National Correspondent for the Huffington Post. And Jonathan, I think that last point is very important. You have senators who have their own egos. They are - you know, their own - they have their own power bases. It's not as if they're going to respond to bullying, but more than that, they wouldn't get blamed. According to the no - the new polling, if health care goes awry, it's not democrats who would take the blame, it would be Donald Trump and republicans. Kaiser Health did a poll.61 percent say the President and republicans in Congress are now in control of the government. They're responsible for any problems with it moving forward. I don't understand the politics of threatening to take away subsidies for millions and millions of people when they would get blamed for the, you know, pain that results. Do you understand the politics on the republican side? JONATHAN COHN, THE HUFFINGTON POST SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. This is one of the most baffling political moves I have seen in a long time. I mean, you said - you cited that Kaiser poll, there've been other polls. It is very clear that, you know, if the health insurance system suddenly unravels for millions of people, they're going to blame the people in charge. They're going to blame the Trump administration. Now, you know, if you listen to Trump, who has this weird tick where he likes to tell you what his maneuvers are, like in real-time. Like here's what I'm trying to do. So his theory is basically, look, I'm going to - I'm going to threaten to withhold this money and cause all these problems for millions of people, and democrats will be so upset about that. You know, Chuck Schumer is going to be on the phone with me saying, please, President Trump, let's make a deal. That makes no sense because the alternative that Trump is offering is basically to take insurance away from even more people. So, you know, he's basically saying, look, make a - you know, if you don't agree to take away you know, insurance, I'm going to take away insurance. You know, several million people unless you agree to work with me, I'm taking insurance away from even more people. I mean, it just doesn't - I'm honestly baffled why he thinks this is going to work. REID: And do you - do you think that the fact that it's democrats that he's threatening and not his own party is sort of a tacit admission that he can't get a bill through his own party, and so he's essentially admitting that he needs Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to put together the whip count for him? COHN: Yes. I mean, there's no question at this point. There's a lot of - you know, we keep hearing republicans were this close to a repeal bill. They've almost got it. Look, they have some really fundamental disagreements within the republican party about what to do. And if you try to imagine sort of a way forward on health care to make some changes in the law, it's pretty obvious that the governing majority here is some combination of republicans and democrats. You know, and Senator Schatz you were just had on, as he said, democrats would be more than happy to work on a set of bipartisan fixes, you know, modest changes to the law that would make a real difference for people. And, you know, and there would be give and take. Republicans would get some things they wanted. Democrats would get some things they wanted. But the sort of pre-condition for that, you know, the ticket into that conversation is republicans saying, all right, we don't have the votes to repeal the law, so we're going to work with you democrats on making some changes. You know, we'll give and take. You do some things we want. We'll do some things you want, and we'll move forward. It's so easy to imagine what that deal looks like. But, you know, first the republicans - some of them, Trump, you know, some leaders will have to say, all right, we can't do repeal. Let's work on actually, you know, improving this law, fixing its weak spots, which are very real. There's a lot of people who are unhappy. There are a lot of problems with this law. But you know, it's not - these are not hard problems to fix if republicans would be willing to work with democrats. REID: Very quick prediction. The freedom caucus is predicting that they will get something passed through the House of representatives. Do you think that will happen? COHN: You know - I - you know, I have no idea. I don't see how they get that coalition right now. But, you know, who the heck knows? You never know in Congress. REID: Yes, absolutely. Jonathan Cohn, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Coming up, Donald Trump campaign promise of a nationwide deportation force. New reports say the administration is so eager to get started, they're looking at cutting corners to get there. That story just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) REID: When asked by the New York Post if he still had confidence in his Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who is reportedly feuding with Donald Trump's son-in-law, this is what Donald Trump had to say. "I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late," Trump said. "I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn't know Steve. I'm my own strategist. Steve is a good guy, but I told them to straighten it out or I will." Hardly a ringing endorsement. According to the Washington Post, who interviewed 21 of Trump's aides, confidants, and allies, the President's comments were described by White House official as a dressing down and a warning shot. The one Bannon friend reflecting on them Wednesday likened Bannon to a terminally ill family member who had been moved into hospice care. Exactly how this turf war in the White House will affect the course of the Trump Presidency is ahead.


SESSIONS: For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country be forewarned, this is a new era. This is the Trump era. The lawlessness, the abdication of duty to enforce our laws and the catch and release policies of the past are over.


REID: About 24 hours after attorney General Jefferson Sessions announced the dawning of the Trump era on the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona came this headline, "Trump administration moving quickly to build up nationwide deportation force."

The Washington Post published an internal memo from the Department of Homeland Security detailing exactly what the Trump era may look like. According to the post, DHS has already found 33,000 more detention beds to house undocumented immigrants and is considering ways to speed up the hiring of hundreds of new customs and border patrol officers, including ending polygraph and physical fitness tests in some cases, which directly contradicts Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly's promise in February that, quote, "we will not lower standards and we will not lower training."

However, Secretary Kelly also said while he was meeting with Mexico's leader that there would be, quote, no mass deportations.

But the new memo and the president's own campaign promise suggest otherwise.


MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC: Are you going to have a massive deportation force?

TRUMP: You're going to have a deportation force. And you're going to do it humanely. They're going back where they came. If they came from a certain country, they're going to be brought back to their country. That's the way it's supposed to be.


REID: Joining me now is David Nakamura, author of that Washington Post article on the deportation force.

So, David, before we get to the specifics of the deportation force, I want to read one excerpt from the Jeff Sessions speech that actually didn't make it into his spoken remarks, but it was written into his remarks. He deviated from it. But he also planned to say that criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into war zones, that rape and kill innocent citizens, it is here on this sliver of sand where we will first take our stand against this filth, against this filth.

Do we know who wrote this speech?

DAVID NAKAMURA, THE WASHINGTON POST: We don't know who wrote the speech, but it's interesting that it was left out and yet it was included in the prepared remarks delivered to reporters and it got a lot of attention on social media even though he didn't say it.

But you know, look, Jeff Sessions as a senator in Alabama was one of the hardest-line senators on immigration that there was in the Senate, and he helped really take down President Obama's effort at comprehensive immigration reform even though the Senate approved that in 2013, in the House through his pressure and working with conservative House members and ultimately the Republican House dropped that.

But now he's in a position of power. You see the Justice Department now becoming more activist on immigration enforcement in a sharp departure from the Obama administration, which the Justice Department sued Arizona over their hard-line laws on immigration back in 2011. And now you see this memo that I reported on yesterday from DHS talking about behind the scenes planning to try to fulfill Donald Trump's executive orders.

REID: Yeah, and going back to 2014, Sessions was called amnesty's worst enemy. Emily Babylon (ph) has a piece in The New York Times magazine talking about the fact that he essentially is kind of the last gasp of Bannonism. If Bannonism is on the wan - he, Bannon and Miller, for them, immigration is a galvanizing issue at the center of their apparent vision for reshaping the United States by tethering it to its European christian origins.

According to what you were able to find in that memo, how is he playing that out as attorney general? What is the plan for this deportation force?

NAKAMURA: Well, look, there's two different things. The memo I reported on is from the Department of Homeland Security. So, that's General John Kelly who runs that division. And this was focused on border patrol, expanding that. You sort of laid out some of the details.

Also in there was something you didn't mention, which was that DHS would work with local police departments, deputizing them in many cases and giving them immigration enforcement authority, which has traditionally been the reserve of the federal government. This alarms advocates because they believe local police would not have as much oversight or training.

So, these are the big issues.

Separately, Jeff Sessions is trying to make his department have more prosecutions of undocumented immigrants over crimes they commit, which would then put them into the pool of immigrants who would be priorities for removal by ICE and the border patrol.

So, you have the administration trying to work in concert together to fulfill the president's goals.

You mentioned that the end of - if something happened to Steve Bannon in the White House who has been sort of on the rocks lately politically that, you know, Sessions would be the last gasp. But really Sessions is sometimes credited as sort of the architect for a lot of this. And his vision is actually, you know, predate or at least goes back as far as Steve Bannon's worldview.

REID: And they're predicating, as you just mentioned, a lot of this on attempting to sort of characterize undocumented immigrants as violent criminals, despite the fact that all of the available statistics show that undocumented immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated, commit fewer crimes. How did they plan to whip up - the criminality actually doesn't exist in the real world. Are they also looking to charge people with felonies or with, you know, higher level crimes for things they wouldn't have before.

NAKAMURA: The president talked on the campaign of going after immigrants for first of all who have a criminal history. And you know, and those who already have prior outstanding deportation orders.

Some of those go back a long time, some of them are for more minor offenses, even traffic offenses. Those could be in a pool considered people who have violated legal statutes in the country, And they'd be eligible for removal.

But Session could attempt to prosecute many more immigrants. Right now, the Justice Department focuses on sort of drug cartels and those who commit more violent crimes, prosecuting them and moving toward removals through DHS.

But he could also prosecute for misrepresenting themselves. A lot of people drive without a driver's license to try to get to jobs in the country.

Look, the supporters of Donald Trump might say, look, that's fair game. These people are in the country illegally to begin with and they're committing other violations.

So, it's a question of where you come down. But what really is the bottom line here is that you see, as I mentioned, different agencies moving to sort of reinvent how they do business on immigration enforcement and trying to, you know, sort of build the apparatus to deport more people. But a lot of this also does depend on funding. And right now congress is split on this. And it does not seem, you know, likely that it would be easy for them to get a lot of this funding.

REID: Yeah. And it just so happens that there's a nice private prison industry that is eager to provide those tens of thousands of spots for people...

NAKAMURA: Yes, people are lining up for the contracts if those were to happen.

REID: David Nakamura, thank you very much. Thank you for joining us.

NAKAMURA: Thanks, Joy.

REID: All right, still to come, learning on the job when you're the president of the United States. We'll talk about Donald Trump's constantly shifting policy points ahead.

Plus, a troubling report card for Mar-a-Lago in tonight's Thing One, Thing Two


REID: Thing One tonight, we know Donald Trump loves to brag about his companies and his properties every chance he gets from Trump Hotels to Trump steaks to Trump golf courses. Most recently, Trump just took the opportunity to tout the dessert options offered at his $200,000 membership Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.

As he described what he was doing at the very moment he received confirmation of the missile launch on Syria last week.


TRUMP: I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner. We're now having dessert, and we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you've ever seen. And president Xi was enjoying it.


REID: Look at that chocolate cake. It does look delicious. It even has his name on it.

But it could be pretty risky ordering a slice if you should ever have the chance and the cash to visit Mar-a-Lago yourself.

Why? Well, that's Thing Two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) REID: Mar-a-Lago has the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you've ever seen, according to the owner of Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump, president of the United States. Just look at it. It even comes with ice cream, two sauces, and a Trump logo right on the top. But we've learned some information about the kitchen where it's made that may turn your stomach.

According to The Miami Herald, Florida restaurant inspectors found 13 health code violations at Mar-a-Lago's kitchen in January, three of which were, quote, high- priority, meaning they could allow the presence of illness-causing bacteria on plates served in the dining room.

A spokesperson for Mar-a-Lago responded to the report saying, quote, we take food safety very seriously. And all the minor adjustments were made immediately. Additionally, the report by the health inspector was updated the very same day to reflect that the Mar-a- Lago club was in full compliance.

The communications director for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations also released a statement, saying, quote, these infractions were part of a routine inspection and were not complaint-based. The infractions were corrected on site and the establishment was immediately brought into compliance.

So, see, that's good news. But maybe now we know why Trump always orders his steak well done.



JESS MCINTOSH, FRM. CLINTON CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it's not that easy. He literally had to become a world leader to be forced to sit with another world leader in order to learn a thing. And that man is president.

So, yes, I'm glad that he will occasionally bend to reality, but he's in charge of the missiles.


REID: Former Clinton senior adviser Jess McIntosh last night on the remarkable admission by Donald Trump on the subject of North Korea. According to The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Trump said he told his Chinese counterpart he believed Beijing could easily take care of the North Korea threat. Mr. Xi then explained the history of China and Korea, Mr. Trump said. After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it's not so easy, Mr. Trump recounted. I felt pretty strongly that they had tremendous power over North Korea, he said, but it's not what you would think.

That was just one of the Trump evolutions or full flip-flops that we learned about in the past 24 hours. For instance, after months and months and months of railing against China and its currency manipulation, the president in that same Wall Street Journal interview said that his administration won't label China a currency manipulator in a report due this week.

And after a presidential campaign in which he said NATO, obsolete, the president at a joint news conference with the NATO secretary general said, quote, it is no longer obsolete.

But while some of those 180s toward a rational conclusion may be heartening to some, a leader who flips and flops in just 10 minutes might just as easily flop back. And his decisions maybe at the whim of the last person who got in his ear. And right now, that struggle is playing out in the White House between Breitbart's Steve Bannon and the president's family, son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump. That is next.


REID: Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had this to say about President Donald Trump, "some things that were said during the campaign I think he now knows simply aren't the way things ought to be. He's learning the job."

"He was very critical of NATO during the campaign," McConnell said, "even suggested that NATO was obsolete. HE said the other day that that's no longer how I feel any longer."

And joining me is Ben Howe, a contributing editor for Red State, and Shannon Pettypiece, Bloomberg News White House correspondent.

Thank you both.

So, Ben, should the American people be heartened or disturbed that Donald Trump appears to be learning how to be president and learning what he thinks about big issues like NATO while he is president?

BEN HOWE, RED STATE.COM: Well, I think in some ways it can be good, but it really depends on who is surrounding him and who's giving him advice.

You were just talking about that a minute ago, a lot of it is going to depend on the last thing that was said to him. So, as long as Bannon is there I think there is lot of reasons to be concerned.

For Republicans and conservatives and their agenda, I don't think that Jared and Ivanka who I think are really taking a lot of control in terms of whose influencing him, I don't know that that's great for their agenda, but I think it might be better for the American people.

So, as long as it's moving towards Bannon getting out then, yeah, it can be a good thing for him to learn, at least better than being stuck with just Bannon.

REID: And Shannon, do you have in your reporting on whether or not Bannon really is skating on thin ice and on his way out? I mean, there is all of that Mercer money. And we all know that Rebecca Mercer, who gave tons of money to the campaign is behind Bannon, wants him to stay. What's the status of Breitbart's Steve Bannon.

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Well, when I was with you guys a week ago, I said I really didn't know and I could get 12 different answers. This week, and especially in the later half of this week, the wagons are really circling around Bannon now. There's really an increasing choir of people saying not necessarily that he'll go, but he's going to be marginalized and start losing his proximity to the president.

REID: Yeah, and Politico has a piece, Ben, that talks about finally you're starting to seeing some fraying among the Trump base who have been loyal to him no matter really what happens, but that some Trump supporters are really upset about the idea of Bannon being marginalized, or some saying he's failing to deliver on a promise of transformative American first agenda driven by hard edge populism. They're saying - one guy said Donald Trump dropped an emotional anchor. He captured how Americans feel. We expect him to keep his word. Right now, he's not keeping his word, meaning that there's a large chunk of Donald Trump's base that wants the Bannon agenda specifically.

HOWE: Well, yes. But I do think in some ways for Trump he's been very concerned about that for a long time making sure the base is happy with him. And he looks to Bannon to sort of connect the dots for him and tell him this is what his base cares about, and this is what is going to be important to them.

But there was sort of a Band-Aid ripping off moment with Syria where a lot of his most ardent supporters were not happy he did this. I know that Bannon was not happy he was doing this. And I think that the moment that his base started to turn on him, I mean, you've seen how Trump is. Once somebody turns on him, he's willing to throw them under the bus. And I think he's in some ways looking at throwing his base under the bus because they're already starting to dislike him anyway.

REID: Yeah, and Shannon, you know, this claim that he didn't even known Bannon when Bannon joined the campaign. He's done it since 2011. There's like documented evidence of him being on Bannon's radio show. He does know him. But this sort of weird disowning.

Donald Trump did not get a bump out of his Syria adventure of bombing Syria on the 6th, though Gallup shows that didn't help him. What might a desperate Donald Trump do if you would venture to hazard a guess to try and get approval, which is what he wants?

PETTYPIECE: Well, I think he's going to shift focus to the economy where he feels he is stronger, where he feels LIKE he can take THE stock market to use as a gauge of his success there. I think that's a place he feels comfortable in. And increasingly I think while maybe he didn't get a bump in the poll numbers, I think he did feel like he got some positive feedback from a lot of members of congress, from a lot of people who had been critics of him about his actions from Syria.

So, I wouldn't be surprised to see him sort of taking more of a hawkish approach on foreign policy even if that does alienate some people because there was a lot of positive feedback he received from how he handled Syria.

REID: Yeah, including feedback from the media which is something else that he craves that he may not want to admit that he craves them. But he obviously does crave it.

You know, Shannon just talked about trying to get the stock market up, do base Trump voters - let's talk about just the working class voters, do they care about the stock market, or do they care whether or not he actually reopens all of the plants that are still shipping jobs to Mexico and overseas.

HOWE: Well, I mean, I think definitely in terms of the blue collar voters, they're going to care about the same things they cared about when Obama was president, when Bush was president. They're hoping - they were hoping that Trump was going to deliver on those promises, but I do think a lot of it is going to stem with these campaign promises, whether it's the wall, whether it's positions on how he deals with foreign policy. And he's not coming through on a lot of it.

And I think that the more that he doesn't come through, the louder those voices that he helped elevate, the Alex Joneses of this world, the Milo Yiannopouloses of this world, are going to continue be louder and louder in their opposition to what he's doing, which is just going ot make his life a lot harder. And you know he loves popularity. He loves for people to like what he's saying. It's going to be difficult for him.

REID: And you know, and Shannon, can he salve that base with a deportation force? I mean, we know Donald Trump does love to hear the applause, but it's also clear that he wants to applause of elites, not just that base that showed up at his rallies. Can he make the rally side calm down just by deporting lots of people, which is actually a horrific sort of way to try to get your numbers up.

PETTYPIECE: Well, I guess in all of this, I guess I would just kind of cautious that we're really far away aways from 2020. And a lot can happen then.

And right now, this administration can for the most part controls the agenda. Wait until something happens outside of their control: North Korea, Russia, China, a recession, a natural disaster. There's going to be a lot that's going to happen in these four years. and I know we're 80- something days in and really trying to parse where the base is going, but I do feel there's a lot of shifting that can happen, and Americans' mindsets and this country and sort of the, you know, national agenda that we're going to be dealing with.

REID: Yeah, some of those things, or all of those things. Sorry, Ben, quick last word.

HOWE: Oh, I was just going to say there's so many ways for him to fail over the next four years as far as I'm concerned.

Like, I don't think there's any question that he's going to find ways to disappoint me, personally.

REID: Yeah, we're going to get tired of the failing. I think that's what you're trying to say, Ben Howe.

Ben Howe, Shannon Pettypiece, thank you both.

That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.


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