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All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 4/14/2017

Guests: Barbara Lee, Matt Welch, Michael Isikoff

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: April 14, 2017 Guest: Barbara Lee, Matt Welch, Michael Isikoff

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: It`s as simple as that. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Joy Reid in for Chris Hayes, and that starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With her, you`ll end up in World War III. She doesn`t know what she`s doing.

REID: With heightened tensions from Syria to North Korea, a foreign policy novice-

TRUMP: What I do is I authorize my military.

REID: Surrounded by generals, and fans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, one of my favorite things is watching bombs drop on bad guys.

REID: Tonight, I`m joined by the Congresswoman calling to curtail the President`s use of force. Then the Russia probe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t remember -- we`ll see what comes out in this FISA transcript.

REID: Warnings about Trump campaign linked to Russia that came from U.S. allies in 2015. Plus, a show of force. The resistance prepped for a nationwide march tomorrow to reject this idea.

TRUMP: The only ones that care about my tax returns are the reporters.

REID: And the President`s brand-new appointment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve set up a special offer just for our viewers.

REID: ALL IN starts now.


REID: Good evening from New York. I`m Joy Reid, in for Chris Hayes. It is now 8:30 on Saturday morning in North Korea. The Hermit kingdom created its very own time zone a couple of years ago, 12 1/2 hours ahead of East Coast time. And this morning in North Korea, the reclusive regime is preparing for what it calls, "a big and important event" to mark the birthday of its founder, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un. It`s an annual chance for the young dictator to flex his military muscle, and this year, satellite images suggest he may be preparing for North Korea`s sixth nuclear test.

Back in November, not long after the election, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Obama administration had warned the President-elect about the threat from North Korea, which it considered to be the number one National Security priority. That threat has been front of mind lately for Donald Trump. He discussed North Korea in meetings last week with the President of China. He`s sending his Vice President to South Korea this weekend, and he`s been -- he`s been turning to his favorite platform, where else but Twitter, to rattle his saber against the North Korean regime. "North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them. USA."

Ahead of the big event in North Korea, the U.S. rerouted an aircraft carrier strike group to the Korean Peninsula, a move that Trump described this way in an interview earlier this week.


TRUMP: We are sending an Armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that I can tell you. And we have the best military people on Earth. And I will say this, he is doing the wrong thing.


REID: So all that saber-rattling has not gone unnoticed in North Korea. The nation`s Vice Foreign Minister told the associated press, his government views the Trump administration as, "more vicious and more aggressive" than that of his predecessor, saying the President`s tweets add fuel to a "vicious cycle" of tensions on the Korean Peninsula. According to the Vice Minister, Pyongyang is ready to go to war if that`s what Trump wants.

All of this comes as Donald Trump has been flexing his own military muscle elsewhere in the world, launching missile strikes last week against the forces of Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, as punishment for a chemical weapons attack against Syrian rebels. Just yesterday, the U.S., for the first time, dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat, striking an ISIS complex in Afghanistan. And if the President was watching his favorite T.V. show this morning, he would have seen a stirring tribute to that operation.


CLAYTON MORRIS, FOX NEWS CHANNEL FOX & FRIENDS HOST: That`s what happens when a 21-thousand bomb -- 21 thousand-pound bomb explodes in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, where at least 36 ISIS fighters have lost their lives. Welcome to the final hour of the week on "FOX & FRIENDS." And guess who`s here? Do you recognize him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Geraldo Rivera. Geraldo, that video is black and white.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is what freedom looks like. That`s the red, white and blue.

RIVERA: Well, one of my favorite things in the 16 years I`ve been here at FOX News is watching bombs drop on bad guys.


REID: One of his favorite things. "FOX & FRIENDS" was not alone in effusively praising the Trump administration`s recent military moves. Pundits and lawmakers alike have cheered on the (INAUDIBLE) chief. Ironically, he was the one who campaigned as more of a dove during the general election, portraying Hillary Clinton as the dangerous interventionist.


TRUMP: With her, you`ll end up in World War III. She doesn`t know what she`s doing. So, you`re not fighting Syria anymore. You`re fighting Syria, Russia, and Iran. What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria. You`ll end up -- with her plan, you`ll end up in World War III with Syria. You`re going to end up in World War III over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton.


REID: So, now that Trump has reversed himself and embraced his inner neocon, launching strikes for some Yemen and Syria, he`s finally getting the applause he craves, even from democratic lawmakers. Both Democratic Leaders in Congress, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi came out in support of the missile strikes in Syria. And in the Senate, according to a tally by 5:38, only five democratic senators publicly opposed them. That`s five out of a Caucus of 48. But those five appear to be much more in step with their constituents around the country. Among democrats, just 33 percent approved of the military action against Syria in a new Gallup poll compared to 61 percent who disapproved.

I`m joined now by one of the democratic lawmakers who opposed the Syria strikes, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Democrat from California who has also introduced a bill to repeal the original Authorization for Use of Military Force or AUMF that was passed in the wake of 9/11. And Congresswoman, thank you so much for being here. And I want to forth play you to yourself, I`m going to play a speech -- the speech that you gave back on September 14th, 2001, opposing the AUMF in the first place. Take a listen.


REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: Some of us must say, let`s step back for a moment. Let`s just pause, just for a minute and think through the implications of our actions today, so that this does not spiral out of control. Now, I have agonized over this vote, but I came to grips with it today, and I came to grips with opposing this resolution. During the very painful, yet very beautiful memorial service, as a member of the clergy so eloquently said, "as we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore."


REID: So, Congresswoman, that was of course three days after 9/11, back in 2001. You were not able to get anyone to go along with you on opposing the authorization to use military force at that time in Afghanistan. This time around, so many years later, is there more support for the idea of withdrawing that AUMF?

LEE: Thank you very much, Joy. And let me just say that was a 60-word resolution that gave any President the authority and a blank check to use force, really, in perpetuity. And I asked the Congressional Research Service to present to us a declassified report as to how many times it has been used and for what. It has been used over 37 times in 14 countries for many, many actions non-related to 9/11. And so, for the last seven or eight years, I have been trying to repeal this.

Each time that a defense authorization or appropriation bill comes up, I provide an amendment, which of course doesn`t pass, but we`re up to maybe 140 or 150 votes, and I`m going to continue to do this until we get to 218, because minimally, we should come back to Congress. We should repeal this resolution, have a debate and a vote on a new authorization for these war footings which we are in a variety now of wars that Congress has not yet authorized.

REID: And Congresswoman, you know, it`s interesting because during the campaign, you had both people on the left, the sort of Bernie Sanders left, as well as people who supported Donald Trump who felt that it was Hillary Clinton who`s the risk of being, you know, a war President, that she was the hawkish one. And that somehow, Donald Trump would be less likely to get us into a war. So, with the public that anxious, both on the left and on the right about the idea of war, why do you suppose that it`s so reflexive among even your democratic colleagues to support any kind of a military strike. It just gets applause across the board in the Halls of Congress.

LEE: Well, of course, the threats are real and we have not had a debate, Joy. We had not really looked at what a comprehensive strategy is, what it means, what it entails. We do not know what the military options entail. The military option`s always there if, in fact, there`s an imminent threat. We need a comprehensive solution and strategy, but we haven`t even had a debate. And so, quite naturally, Members of Congress are really feeling their way through in many respects. And so, I have asked several times now with some of my colleagues, Speaker Ryan, to bring us back out of recess so that we can have a debate actually and a vote. Because this blank check that they`re using, the 2001 authorization sets the stage for perpetual war, Joy, and that is very dangerous.

REID: It`s sort of ironic that we`re now in this sort of, you know, terrifying posture with North Korea, which was the first undeclared war. And the last time the United states declared war, was obviously World War II. Do you worry that we will wind up at war again without the Congress weighing in and actually making a declaration?

LEE: Absolutely. I worry. It`s very dangerous. And in fact, we need to be in Washington, D.C. right now, debating not only an authorization for Syria but an authorization if, in fact, the President decides to use force, what that means in terms of North Korea. These are perilous times, and leaders are provoking each other. And I think that now`s the time, once again as I said in 2001, to step back. Members of Congress are elected to do the hard work-

REID: Right.

LEE: To make hard decisions. And we should be there debating this and making decisions so that we can give the President the authority or not, to move forward.

REID: Yep. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a lonely voice out there sometimes, but we really always appreciate that voice. Thank you very much for joining me.

LEE: Thank you. Glad to be with you.

REID: Thank you. Let`s bring in MSNBC National Security Analyst, Evelyn Farkas, former Assistant Deputy Secretary Offence; and Matt Welch, Editor in Chief of Reason Magazine. So -- you know, it is sort of ironic that we are back in this, you know, the posture of this sort of pre-war posture with North Korea. Why do you suppose the Congress has completely, since the Korean War, seeded this authority to wage war?

EVELYN FARKAS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think, Joy -- first of all, we have to distinguish between all of these situations because I heard the Congresswoman talk about, and you also, in the intro about Afghanistan, about North Korea, about Syria. And if I could, just so the viewers understand a little bit of the difference-

REID: Sure.

FARKAS: In Syria, it was a punitive strike. It was basically telling Bashar al-Assad, the leader of Syria, and the world, anyone looking, that you cannot use chemical weapons against your people. And I know that he used chlorine bombs against his people and that`s bad, but Sarin gas is a whole other level of horrible. So, I think it was important. I supported that strike because it was important just as a punitive strike, not as the start of any kind of ongoing or new military campaign. Although, of course, we have almost 1,000 people -- troops in Syria right now.

In Afghanistan, we have an ongoing war. All he did was use a different kind of bomb. I mean, really, I think it`s a little overhyped. On North Korea, I`m very concerned, because North Korea -- the leader is not irrational. What he wants is to stay in power. He wants to deter us, and the best form of deterrence he`s seen. He watched what happened to Saddam Hussein, he watched what happened in Libya. And so, he believes he needs to hold on to his nuclear weapons in order to keep the United States and the International Community from engineering a regime change and getting him out of power.

REID: Yes. You might be the first person that I`ve heard say that the leader of North Korea is not irrational.

FARKAS: I don`t think -- I haven`t seen any evidence. And maybe that our Intelligence Community knows something I don`t know, but I highly doubt he`s completely irrational.

REID: Let me play for you guys Leon Panetta, who`s earlier today -- talking with Andrea Mitchell -- I believe was on with our own Andrea Mitchell. He was talking about the Trump posture on North Korea and his concerns about it. Take a listen.


LEON PANETTA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: You know, obviously, the words from the administration are creating even higher volume in terms of the provocations that are going on. I think we`ve got to be careful here. This is -- you know, we shouldn`t engage in any precipitous action. There`s a reason no U.S. President in recent history has pulled the trigger on North Korea.


REID: And Matt, if feel like -- I mean, we`re only 85 days into the Trump administration, and there`s already -- I think for a lot of people, a dread that we are racing toward military action both in Syria, and to Evelyn`s point, that was a specific strike for a specific reason but also with North Korea.

MATT WELCH, REASONS MAGAZINE EDITOR IN CHIEF: We`ve seen in the last week a clear strategic pivot on the Trump administration, of America is going to act more unpredictably and also in a more interventionist way. So, we`re going to lob tomahawk missiles while we`re talking with President Xi Jinping in Mar-a-Lago. We`re going to use weapons that we haven`t used in Afghanistan. There`s actually a talk of a renewed surge in Afghanistan right now. My God, how many surges will that one country get? And we`ve seen an increased activity in Yemen and elsewhere. So, all of these things are happening, and the Trump administration clearly thinks this is going to help. They are wrong footing Vladimir Putin right now, Russia doesn`t know what to think. The question is, how much of a rational actor is our friends in our Pyongyang?

And I think you have to think about it like this, they have been preparing for this moment -- propaganda wise and militarily for the last 60 years. They have been preparing for the U.S. to come there, and they have 15, 20, 25 nuclear weapons, and they want to -- in an end game scenario -- and there`s a reason why Kim Jong-un is the Supreme Commander there now as opposed to some of his brothers, some of whom are now dead. It`s because he went more crazy. He said, if push comes to shove, I will use these weapons if we are going to lose a war here. So, if we push against that, and we rattle the sabers, we have two irresistible force of the removable object. Donald Trump said we will solve the problem. Today, North Korea said, we will test nukes when we want to. Those two things can`t exist at the same time.

REID: Right. And you have the administration flip-flopping and you have to wonder if the flip-flop even on China, on being a currency manipulator or not is to get backup, right? To say that we need to prepare the region. It all feels like it`s moving only in one direction, and that direction is toward hostilities.

FARKAS: That`s the problem, Joy, because I actually see a positive step in the meeting with Xi, you know, where they have the summit. And it sound -- it sounds like Donald Trump and President Xi -- President Trump and President Xi agreed, they need to do more on North Korea. And President Trump seems pretty optimistic that China is going to deliver something.

To my mind, the pressure should be coming from China, it should be economic, and from the International Community. But the military pressure does make me nervous because there, you run into a huge danger of miscalculation. You`ve got over 28,000 troops in South Korea. Of course, millions of South Koreans are sitting there-

REID: And the Vice President.

FARKAS: And sitting ducks, if you will.

REID: And the Vice President is in South Korea as well. And lastly, Matt, where is Congress in all this? I feel like this debate is what they should be having right now. They seem to be absent without official leave.

WELCH: Sadly, you only have Barbara Lee and you have some members of the Freedom Caucus. Remember, there`s 100 Republicans who challenged Obama on Libya. And rightfully so, Obama flipped his nose at that Congress when it came to the Libya intervention. They protested-then. They should be protesting now, but only a handful of them are so far.

REID: The polls show that even among the public -- Democrats and Republicans have completely opposite views of what should be done depending on who the President is. It`s this echoes of (INAUDIBLE) OK. Scary times. Evelyn Farkas and Matt Welch, thank you, both for joining me. And up next, some Democrats are asking the FBI to suspend Jared Kushner`s security clearance. And the U.S. ally that reportedly warned of contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign more than a year ago. The details after this two-minute break.


REID: This week, several House Democrats called for Donald Trump`s son-in- law and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, to lose his top-secret security clearance on the grounds that he failed to disclose contacts with foreign governments as required when he filled out the security clearance questionnaire. Including a December meeting with the Russian Ambassador to the United States, and one with the head of a Russian state-owned bank that`s the target of U.S. sanctions. Kushner`s lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, called the omissions an error. Lying about discussions with the Russian Ambassador is, of course, what cost former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn his job.

Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that British spies were the first to spot Trump team leaks to Russia in late 2015 and that they alerted U.S. officials. The Guardian also reports that leading up to last summer, Germany, Estonia, Poland, Australia, Denmark, and France, all may have contributed intelligence about contacts between Trump`s inner circle and Russia. And buried at the bottom of a piece in The Guardian is this quote, which has received a lot of attention.

One source telling The Guardian that the official investigation was making progress. "They now have specifics. Concrete and corroborative evidence of collusion." This is, this is between people in the Trump campaign and agents of Russian influence relating to the use of hacked material. Now, we don`t know what that evidence is, but this week it was revealed that the Justice Department obtained a FISA warrant to wiretap former Trump campaign Foreign Adviser, Carter Page, based on evidence that he was acting as a Russian agent. Page still maintains he had minimal and only incidental contact with Russians.


CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN FOREIGN ADVISER: There`s always, for example, like with Ambassador Kislyak. I may have said hello to a few people at times, but nothing -- certainly never any negotiations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No discussion of sanctions, lifting sanctions, easing sanctions?

PAGE: Never.


REID: Page was equally cagey a month and a half ago when our very own Chris Hayes finally got him to make this admission.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Did you meet Sergey Kislyak in Cleveland? Did you talk to him?

PAGE: I`m not going to deny that I talked with him-

HAYES: So, you did talk to him?

PAGE: I will say that I never met him anywhere outside of Cleveland.


REID: The probe of Carter Page`s ties with the Kremlin was reported back in September 2016 by Yahoo! News Chief Investigative Correspondent, Michael Isikoff, and he join us now. So, Michael, Carter Page is one strange individual. His interviews are always sort of a meandering kind of morass of words where he doesn`t really say a whole lot. Have you been able to determine whether or not he had definitive contact with the same Russian entities that were hacking the U.S. election?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, YAHOO! NEWS CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, he`s given conflicting answers to multiple people now. He reverses himself sometimes in the same interview. He gave an interview to George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America" this week, in which pressed on whether he had discussions about sanctions during that trip to Moscow in July when he was still a campaign adviser to the Trump campaign and was in Moscow. He said, well, he couldn`t say definitively one way or the other whether the issue had come up or not. So, I think that raised, you know, just more eyebrows and questions about Carter Page.

REID: Yep.

ISIKOFF: Look, as you point out, this has been on the table since last September, when I first reported that there was a U.S. intelligence investigation into his communications with Russians. And, you know, one of the really bothersome things here is while there`s been a lot of reporting around this, there was the reporting this week by The Washington Post about the FISA warrant that was obtained as part of that investigation. We still have not gotten answers to the most important questions on the entire Russia stuff.

And I got to say, you know, we are looking to the Congressional Intelligence Committees. We all know the problems the House Committee has had. The Senate has been going at a snail`s pace. No subpoena has been issued to Carter Page or any of the other figures that have played into this. No fact witnesses have been called to testify. There are no hearings on the books at the moment. So, you know, for people who want answers to a lot of these really important questions, we`re not getting them, and it`s not clear we`re on a pace to get them.

REID: Yes, and that`s a very good question. The other questions, I think are, how these people seem to wind up on the Trump campaign, apparently completely unvetted. We found out just today that Carter Page had a job with the Eurasia Group that he lost because they felt that he had very clear ideologically strongly pro-Kremlin leanings. That`s according to the Eurasian Group, Ian Bremer, the President of that group.

You even have somebody like Mike Pompeo, who actually came to the administration as CIA Director through Devin Nunes, who now comes out and says that WikiLeaks is essentially a, you know, foreign actor. But during the campaign, he was tweeting out WikiLeaks. He was actually tweeting out, hey, need further proof the fix was in from President Obama, busted WikiLeaks. He was a big WikiLeaks fan. Did no one vet any of these people before they wound up either in the Trump campaign or in the administration? Did no one vet Mike Flynn?

ISIKOFF: The short answer is, no. I mean, whatever vetting took place would have been, you know, exceedingly superficial. And no tough questions were being asked about any of this at the time. And, look, that is disturbing about the way the Trump campaign conducted business, but it doesn`t get to the core questions of collusion or collaboration. You know, I got to say that quote you read in The Guardian is, you know, does get one`s attention. But who are they talking about?

REID: Right.

ISIKOFF: Who was talking to whom? You know, all these stories that we`ve all been writing and reading and talking about, you know, about unnamed officials saying that unnamed people in the Trump campaign were talking to unnamed people in the Russian government about what? What was the nature? I mean, there is so much we don`t know here.

REID: Yes.

ISIKOFF: And it is, I think -- I can`t stress too strongly enough that we`re not on a pace to be getting those answers.

REID: Yes. Maybe the FBI ought to step it up a little bit because we definitely -- we know a lot of names and we know the same names we`ve known since last year, and we don`t know a lot of information. Michael Isikoff, thank sir. Thank you very much. All right. Still ahead, almost three months into the Trump era and the angry town halls show no signs of letting up. But our Trump voters, sticking by their choice? We`ll talk the resistance, Trump`s base, and what if anything will ever bring them into agreement. Coming up.


REID: Congress is in recess right now, which means that GOP lawmakers are once again facing angry constituents at town halls, like this one today in Oregon Representative, Greg Walden. But perhaps, no one has taken more heat this week than Arizona Republican Senator, Jeff Flake.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not a paid professional organizer. I don`t think anybody else in this room is.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I don`t think anybody is here because they`re paid. People are here because they`re concerned. And I`m glad you`re here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the majority of constituents that I speak with support a single payer system. My question is, will you represent the people of Arizona and support single payer, or are you going to continue to represent the health insurance industry?


FLAKE: I will continue to support, as much as I can, our free market system of health care. I`m not in favor of single payer. Neil Gorsuch`s with the first Supreme Court Justice ever to be filibustered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Neil Gorsuch was the first to be filibustered, what happened to Merrick Garland`s vote?


FLAKE: I think Merrick Garland was a great man and a good judge. But what happened in the senate last year, you may not have liked it, but it was not without precedent. In fact-

CROWD: Shame on you!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I apologize. My eyes aren`t as good as they used to be. But as I stand here and look at you, it looks like you`re smiling an awful lot. And I hope that that smile -- I hope behind that smile, that you`re doing some serious soul searching listening to these people here tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a fiscal conservative, what is your position on all the weekend trips that the President makes down to Mar-a-Lago?

FLAKE: With regard to, to Presidents and what they do on the weekend, I`m not going to criticize-

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You work for us! You work for us! You work for us!


REID: Wow. If you thought that was something, just wait until tomorrow when there will be marches in more than 100 cities on Tax Day to call on President Donald Trump to finally release his tax returns. That story, coming up.



TRUMP: They say I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn`t lose any voters, okay? It`s like incredible.


REID: Donald Trump has flip-flopped on so many issues since becoming president, he`s already broken so many promises that you would think at least some of his supporters would, you know, care. And some do.

One Trump support told Politico this week, we expect him to keep his word. And right now he`s not keeping his word.

Some Trump voters are angry over his decision to bomb Syria despite long calling such interventionist foreign policy a mistake.

And they`re also frustrated by the apparent marginalization of Trump`s zealous ethnonationalist chief strategist Breitbart`s Steve Bannon, who has reportedly lost influence in the White House. As Politico reported this week, he saw the launch of a Facebook group called the concerned support base of Donald Trump, whose founder Tanya Vodvadic (ph) changed her header image to this: Mr. President, I stand with Steve Bannon.

So that`s happening.

But the reality is despite his many broken promises, most Trump supporters remain squarely on the Trump train. This is Trump`s approval rating over the past month. And while there`s some variation, his ratings are in essentially the same place they were a month ago, with 40 percent approval and 55 percent disapproval.

The New York Times reports that many Trump voters are unfazed by his reversals, citing undented confidence that many Trump supporters have in the president as a get things done leader and deal maker, regardless of his policy reversals.

And the author of that report, MSNBC contributor and New York Times political reporter Jeremy Peters joins me now.

All right, Jeremy, I read your piece. It was fascinating. The faith, it`s almost -- I don`t know if it`s a quasi-religious faith that a lot of Trump voters have in Trump even if he changes positions. Does that mean they didn`t have strongly held positions themselves and just wanted him to be president? Is that how I should read that?

JEREMY PETERS, NEW YORK TIMES: I think, Joy, that it`s they didn`t mind that he didn`t have strongly held positions himself. They voted for an attitude, not an ideology. They also, I think, like any voter, don`t like to be told or really don`t like to come to the realization that maybe they made the wrong decision. And then should Donald Trump keep disappointing them, they will come to that realization.

but that`s one of the hardest things in politics is to realize that as a voter, you`ve been wrong.

And that point may come for Donald Trump, it`s probably not going to come before the 100-day mark in his administration for a lot of these voters.

But I do think there`s a strain that`s beginning to develop around some of the more populist themes that he promised to pursue that he is backing off of now. I wouldn`t quite put Syria, which you mentioned there in that category. I think the strike in Syria, the strike in Afghanistan, we`re not putting troops on the ground, right?

I think a red line, so to speak, would be if he decided to put troops on the ground. So that probably isn`t one that`s going to, you know, faze these voters all that much.

But if he starts heeding the advice of the more moderately inclined voices in his administration who seem to be gaining influence over the conservative nationalists like Steve Bannon, he could have trouble.

REID: Yeah. And you know I get to your point of, you know, there are a lot of Republican strategists who would say you can`t win voters over by telling them that they`re suckers, right, because nobody ever wants to admit, you know, that they were suckered. And so that`s not a compelling argument.

But I wonder in talking to these voters, what is the line? What would you trade for a wall and deportations? Your own health care? Is it the appointment of, you know, dozens of people from Goldman Sachs? Like, did you detect any line in what they`re personally receiving that Trump voters would say, that`s a bridge too far. Even for a wall I don`t want that.

PETERS: That`s a great question, because first of all, I think from the conservative perspective, Joy, a lot of them feel like this has been a pretty good couple of weeks, right? Hou have the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, which was a huge factor in the election that I think got overlooked in a lot of the coverage. The Supreme Court, as far as, especially the social conservatives were concerned, was a -- if not the determining factor in their vote, he signed this Planned Parenthood defunding legislation yesterday. You know, the list goes on of the conservative things that he does -- I mean, just look at his cabinet and the people he`s appointed who are deeply conservative from Betsy DeVos to Scott Pruitt.

So, they feel like they`re still getting what they voted for.

Now, where I think that patience runs out is if they don`t feel, as Donald Trump told them he would, that America is being made great again. And that`s a pocket book issue. The two most determinative factors in a president`s popularity are peace and prosperity. And if people don`t feel in their bottom line like they have a better life, stronger income, more job security, and that the country is better off in terms of global affairs, then they`re going to lose support for the president.

REID: Yep, Democrats may want to think about adopting the Ronald Reagan question, are you better off now than you were four years ago in 2020, because that might be what they need to you.

Jeremy Peters, thank you very much for joining me. Appreciate it.

PETERS: Thanks, Joy.

REID: Still to come, about those tax returns. While the Trump administration skirts the issue, thousands are planning to take to the streets tomorrow and demand that the president release his returns.

Plus, a dodgy new Trump administration hire you have to see to believe. That`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starting next.


REID: Thing One tonight, there hasn`t been a military draft since 1973. But almost every American man still has to sign up for the Selective Service system when he turns 18 just in case the agency has to furnish manpower for the Defense Department during a national emergency.

The agency may be small, but its responsibility is huge. It manages the draft, which is why the director of the Selective Service system is personally appointed by the president.

And since 1941, that position has always been held by someone who actually served in the military -- until today. Donald Trump`s choice for Selective Service director doesn`t have any record of military service, but he does have an infomercial that you can see on the internet.


DON BENTON: I`ve set up a special offer just for our viewers today. They`ll receive a free subscription to my advertising and marketing tips newsletter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that is fantastic in itself.

BENTON: Yeah, absolutely. No charge for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love that. That`s terrific.


REID: That`s nice. The new director of the military draft is Thing Two in 60 seconds.



ANNOUNCER: His dynamic presentation will help to energize and motivate your sales force, preparing them for the most productive year of their career. And now please welcome Don Benton.

BENTON: I`ve set up a special offer just for our viewers today, they`ll receive a free subscription to my advertising and marketing tips newsletter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that is fantastic in itself.

BENTON: Yeah, absolutely. No charge for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love that. That`s terrific.


REID: Meet Don Tenton, the author of "Marketing Magic: Innovative Tips on Marketing, Media, and Public Relations From Some of America`s Cutting Edge Leaders."

And as of yesterday, the director of the Selective Service system.

That`s right, Donald Trump has tapped a salesman to run the military draft, a man with a long record of controversies but no record of military service.

For 20 years, Don Benton served as a state senator in Washington State while still running his marketing and consulting company, which came in handy in 2012 when Benton`s campaign paid his corporation $99,530 to help in his re-election.

Also during that campaign Benton threatened to sue his opponent for a million dollars. The next year, he said a fellow senator was, quote, acting like a trashy, trampy mouthed little girl.

And in 2013, amid charges of political cronyism, he was appointed as the environmental services director of County Clark. Three years later, after the position was dissolved, he sued the county for $2 million.

But by then, he had a new job, running the Trump campaign in Washington State. He even met the future president, sharing lunch on board the Trump plane.

"I had a Filet-O-Fish and he had a Big Mac," Benton said.

Must have been a heck of a lunch, because even though Trump would lose Washington State by nearly 16 points, he took Don Benton to D.C. with him. First, Trump put him in the EPA. But then he offered unsolicited advice so often that after just four weeks on the job, EPA chief Pruitt shut him out of many staff meetings according to two senior administration officials who talked to The Washington Post.

So Trump found Don Benton a new job, putting him in charge of administering the military draft if it`s ever needed. He was quietly sworn in yesterday despite what The Seattle Times called his almost perfect track record of failure and interpersonal conflict often resulting in legal or disciplinary action at every public position he`s held.



TRUMP: As far as my taxes are concerned, the only one that cares is the press, I will tell you.

You know the only ones that care about my tax returns are the reporters. OK, they`re the only ones. I won. I mean, I became president. No, I don`t think they care at all. I don`t think they care at all. I think you care.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP ADVISER: He`s not going to release his tax returns. We litigated this all through the election. People didn`t care. They voted for him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the president puts together his tax return this year, will he release it publicly?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Right. Well, St. Patrick`s Day is tomorrow, that`s what I`m more focused on.


REID: Donald Trump and his administration have been adamant that nobody cares about his tax returns except for the press. Well, tomorrow, tens of thousands of people are expected to gather in over 100 cities nationwide to call on the president to release his tax returns, and I don`t think they`re all just members of the nosy media.

The plans for tax day marches right after the break.



SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: On April 15th, thousands of Americans will be joining the tax march for economic justice. People will be marching to demand that Washington stop working for the lobbyists and billionaires and start working for the American people.

People will be marching to tell Donald Trump they want to know who he really is working for and for congress to force Donald Trump to release his taxes.

Donald, the time for hiding is over.


REID: As tax day approaches and there`s president talks tax reform, tens of thousands of people are expected to march tomorrow in more than 100 cities across the country calling for Donald Trump to release his tax returns. During the campaign, Trump held fast to the notion that he couldn`t release his tax returns because he was under audit.

The claim publicly dismissed by the IRS.

Of course, Richard Nixon became the first president to release his tax returns, they were under audit too.

The Trump team narrative began to shift in January when adviser Kellyanne Conway said that the real reason that Trump is not releasing his tax returns is no one cares.

And joining me now if Frank LESSER, co-founder of the tax march and former writer for the Colbert Report; and Congressman Jamie Raskin Democrat from Maryland and a member of the House committee on oversight and government reform. Thank you both for being here.

And Congressman Raskin, I`m going to go to you first, because your the member of congress, why doesn`t congress just make Donald Trump release his tax returns? Why are you making these guys go through all of this making Frank and his friends go through all of this when congress could just subpoena his tax returns, right?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN, (D) MARYLAND: Right, well you have got every Democrat in congress calling for it. The problem is that none of the Republicans are with us on it.

Now, they do say when they go to their town meetings that they think that Trump should release his tax returns, but they say that is kind of a moral postulate, but they`re not willing to vote for it. And there are votes where the Republicans have completely abandoned us on it.

And we`re saying to them, look, there are no kings in America. We were conceived in tax protest against royalty and against the idea that there are kings who can collect taxes but not pay any and not disclose their own. And so, it`s time to get back to that old-fashioned American tradition of tax protests. And I think tens of thousands of people are going to do it tomorrow morning.

REID: And Frank, your tweet is one of the things that sort of sparked this movement. You tweeted back -- I guess this must have been a couple months ago, "Trump claims no one cares about his taxes. The next mass protest should be on tax day to prove him wrong.:

It`s now happening.

Polls do show that 74 percent of people say Trump should release his tax returns, even most Republicans say he should do it. But why should Donald Trump care about that? He said, look, he won despite the fact that people feel this way. Why should he care?

FRANK LESSER, FRM. WRITER FOR COLBERT REPORT: Well, I think he should care because his approval ratings at a historic low, and clearly he`s not making good decisions that the majority of people can support. And I think he should also care about it because clearly people do care about this. To me it`s interesting that he`s willing to let hundreds of thousands of people march in almost 200 cities across the country and he could have ended all of that a month ago. He could end it today if he would releases his tax returns.

And the fact that he`s got something in there that`s so damaging that he`d rather have a massive nationwide protest really makes you wonder like what could be in there.

REID: Yeah. I mean, that is the question, congressman. I mean, is there anything that could possibly, conceivably be in those tax returns that, for instance, would make, I don`t know, Devin Nunes turn on Donald Trump, right? It`s not as if he`s going to lose a single Republican no matter what`s in there, isn`t that right?

RASKIN: Well, there are special forms that go along with the 1040 where he will have to reveal, assuming he follows the law, all of his business partners. And so we`re going to find out exactly whether he has relationships with foreign governments, kings, princes, dictators, their corporations and banks, everything that`s forbidden by Article 1, section 9 the emoluments clause. That`s one thing that`s going to come out.

We`re also going to determine to what extent he`s been gaming the system as he`s somewhat bragged about during the campaign.

But we`re about to start debating tax policy. And we`ve got to know all of the booby traps and loopholes and gimmicks that he wants to put in the tax code literally to benefit his family, his corporation and his friends.

We know that they`re calling for abolition of the estate tax, which I`m sure Ivanka and Baron Trump will be delight to hear about. But we want to know before we debate tax policy exactly where all his chips lie.

REID: But Frank, doesn`t that only matter if there is somebody willing to do something about it? I mean, one of the things that`s happened with Donald Trump running for president and become president is we`ve learned what are laws and what are just norms.

And since he doesn`t follow a any of the norms, a lot of things people just assumed were a rule and a law are just a norm. And he`s just like I`m not following them.

So, what if there was some garish emoluments clause violation exposed by the taxes? Do you have any faith that any single person in congress, other than maybe Jamie Raskin and the Democrats, would even do anything about it?

LESSER: I think they will when they see all the people showing up to the town halls and yelling at them and getting angry and saying, like, we really want you to look into this.

The more people who show up tomorrow and go to these protests the stronger the pressure is going to be on all of these congressman, you know, the Democrats support this, the Republicans are the ones that need to flip. and I think when you point out that, oh, you know, we`re coming up on the midterms not too far from now, and if you`re not going to help support in these bills in the House or the Senate to try to force him to release his taxes, maybe we`ll vote some people in who will do it.

REID: Same question really to you, congressman. I mean, do you detect among your Republican colleagues any hint that if there was something truly egregious in the taxes or if in theory we ever got them, that they would do anything about it?

RASKIN: Look, they care about their own re-election much more than Donald Trump`s re-election. And right now their town meetings are packed with thousands of people who are upset about what`s happening and they`re rapidly distancing themselves from Donald Trump.

So, look, the popular protests set the stage for the defeat of his unconstitutional executive orders on immigration, and it set the stage for the defeat of their terrible plan to repeal and replace ACA by throwing 24 million people off of the health insurance roles.

I think the popular protests here will make it almost impossible for Donald Trump to go forward without revealing those taxes. And if he doesn`t, then I think that Frank`s point is absolutely right, there is something so damning and so devastating in there that we absolutely do need to know it.

Remember, every President since Watergate has turned over his taxes. It`s really not that big a deal. What is he hiding?

REID: And so what happens after this, after tomorrow?

LESSER: After tomorrow, I think hopefully people see that people do care contrary to what Trump says, contrary to what Kellyanne Conway says. And by the I wasn`t the only person who tweeted about this, or tried to do something about this, or got interested in it. (inaudible) is a law professor in Vermont, and Wes Shockley (ph) and Liz Toro (ph) who started up the New York Facebook page all did it on their own.

So, I always like to say if anybody is responsible, if anybody inspired this march, it`s Kellyanne Conway. So, if for some reason Trump is flipping through the channels on his way to Fox News or some weird infomercial for hair growth, or -- I won`t go any further with what the infomercial should be for.

But if he is watching, I think he should thank Kellyanne Conway tomorrow. And you know, it`s a really great march, Kelly.

REID: He`s sensitive about his hair. You had to go there, didn`t you? Comedians, what do you do with them.

Frank Lesser and Congressman Jamie Raskin. Thanks very much joining us and good luck tomorrow.

That is All In for this evening.



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