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All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 4/17/2017

Guests: Maxine Waters, Annie Karni, Jennifer Rubin, Matt Flegenheimer, Sam Seder, Evelyn Farkas, Michelle Goldberg

Show: All in with Chris Hayes Date: April 17, 2017 Guest: Maxine Waters, Annie Karni, Jennifer Rubin, Matt Flegenheimer, Sam Seder, Evelyn Farkas, Michelle Goldberg

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HARDBALL HOST: - scene of an immigrant showing a stronger impulse to display patriotism than someone like so many of us who are fortunate to have been born here. It was at the White House Easter egg hunt, OK, you can say that doesn`t matter. But this little thing that happen that it does, up there on the Truman Balcony, we see the President`s First Lady, the band begins to play the National Anthem. And look who knew to put her hand over their heart, it was Melania who came here from Slovenia nudging the man she married to show his respect. I love that nudge. Good for her, good for the President to finally take the cue. There he is. God bless America. That`s HARDBALL for now, thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it time to say once and for all, the President is never going to release his tax return?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We`ll have to get back to you on that.

HAYES: Tax day hide and seek.

TOM COTTON, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM ARKANSAS: As far as I`m aware of the president says he`s still under audit

HAYES: But the people in the streets protesting, the White House plays the audit card.

SPICER: The President is under audit, it`s the same thing that was discussed during the campaign.

HAYES: Tonight, why called to see the President`s taxes ahead of tomorrow`s deadline are different than anything we saw during the campaign. As tensions rise with North Korea, the danger of premature victory laps on foreign policy. Plus, are the President`s broken promises finally taking a toll with Trump voters. And we`ll go live to Georgia, where democrats hope to steal a House seat after a last minute attack from the President.

JON OSSOFF, CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I am glad to hear the President is interested in the race.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Tomorrow is the deadline for every American to file their taxes from 2016 or request an official extension. Every American including the President of the United States. The most powerful person in the country whose finances were legal, ethical reasons were a matter of urgent public interest. Now, for the first time in over four years, the President is poised to keep his taxes a secret from the American public. Now, there`s a very different issue than it was during the campaign because there`s no longer a question of evaluating a candidate`s income and career and record to help determine whether they`re fit for office. It`s a question about the active financial entanglements of the sitting Head of State and whether he`s compromised in any way that might have a bearing on his conduct in office. The President has insisted over and over again that we and the press are the only ones who care about his tax returns, but this weekend that march is all around this country, tens of thousands of Americans took to the streets to show they care about them, too. They even turned up right across from Mar-a-Lago, the Trump- owned resort in South Florida where the President just spent yet another weekend. Republican lawmakers, home for Easter recess have also been feeling the pressure on this front, hearing from constituents who want to know what the President may be hiding. Take a look at what happened today as Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton`s Town Hall.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m wondering if you take the initiative to have him release those tax returns so that we could see what kinds of connections he has with different countries around the world and what - and what tax proposal would personally benefit him and his family.

COTTON: As far as I`m aware of the President says he`s still under audit


HAYES: Now, that`s been the President`s line since the campaign. he won`t release his tax returns while he`s under IRS audit. And now, according to the White House, his 2016 returns which may or may not have already been filed - who knows - are under the same continuous audit. And still, can be made public.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the President going to release his 2016 tax returns, given that we can assume maybe that those are not themselves under audit?

SPICER: No you can`t. They are. I think it`s been covered before. It`s the same thing that that was discussed during the campaign trail. The president is under audit. It`s a routine one that continues. It`s the same - we`re under the same audit that existed and so nothing has changed.


HAYES: No, but that does not make sense. OK. There are several things wrong with that argument. For starters, nowhere does it say you can`t release your tax returns while you`re on audit not in IRS regulations or anywhere else. In fact, the tradition of disclosing Presidential tax data goes back to Richard Nixon 1973 when he was embroiled in allegations of fudging past tax returns - who the funk, Richard Nixon - and decided to release them to the public despite being under active IRS audit.


RICHARD NIXON, UNITED STATES FORMER PRESIDENT: But in all of my years of public life, I have never profited, never profited from public service. I`ve earned every cent. I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I`m not a crook.


HAYES: He`s earned everything he has. Ever since Nixon, Presidential tax returns have been subject to mandatory examination by the IRS. It`s a kind of automatic audit. It`s a very particular process. It`s so sensitive. The agency actually has special procedures for handling the President`s tax return. Required to be kept in the orange folder at all times, that color denoting high priority and have to be locked in a secured drawer or cabinet when the examiner is away from the work area. According to tax experts cited by the New York Times, hard copies of Presidential returns have historically been kept in a safe outside the IRS commissioner`s office. And yet none of those requirements stopped the past eight Presidents from disclosing their taxes to the American people. On top of that, the President and his inner circle have repeatedly tipped their hand, but the so-called audit was never the real issue. Recall this line from Donald Trump, Jr.


DONALD TRUMP JR, PRESIDENT`S SON: He`s got 12,000-page tax return that will create - that would create probably 300 million independent financial auditors out of every person in the country asking questions that are going to distract from his main message.


HAYES: Asking questions that will distract from his main message. According to organizers on Saturday`s Tax March, people turned out at 200 rallies around the country and world to demand that President of United States reveal his finances. And they appear to have gotten under the President`s skin. President tweeted yesterday, "I did what was an almost impossible thing to do for a republican, easily won the electoral college - fact check, both Reagan, and H.W. Bush have bigger margins but moving on. Now tax returns are brought up again, someone should look into who paid for the small organized rally yesterday. The election is over. It`s true. The election is over and Donald Trump is now the President, not just the candidate, which is precisely why this issue has only gotten more important. I`m joined now by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Democrat from California, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee who spoke at the Tax March in Washington on Saturday. And Congresswoman, it`s a little unclear what the White House is saying but basically, they`re saying the audit still pertains and so the same reasoning applies. What`s your response?

MAXINE WATERS, UNITED STATE CONGRESSWOMAN FROM CALIFORNIA: Well, of course, nobody believes that. This president is hiding something. That`s what we believe. We want to know more about him. What does he own? What kind of debt does he have? How much debt has he been carrying over for how many years? Many of us believe that he pays no taxes and maybe haven`t paid any for 10 to 12 years. And so, I don`t know who he think he`s fooling or whether or not he just totally disrespect all Americans and particularly those who voted for him by continuing to tell this lie about him being under audit and he can`t show them. Americans all over this country, many are struggling to pay their taxes. Middle-income people, working people and many have to pay taxes that they can`t afford. And here we are, they are, struggling to pay their taxes and this President is basically laughing at us because, remember, during the campaign, he said, I pay no taxes and I believe that, and many people believe that. And it`s unfortunate, he could show his taxes if he wants to show his taxes. He is hiding a lot from the American people.

HAYES: Is there any way - I should note the one return we have from him, I think 2005 showed that he did in that year at least paid taxes and there was one sheet the New York Times got from earlier, which imagined it was possible to take a massive deduction to avoid for many years. But is it possible for democrats, like yourself, or republicans even to force his hand in any way? I mean, I guess you can try some sort of statutory move but republicans are just going to stonewall, aren`t they?

WATERS: Yes, that`s true. And that is being discussed in our ways and means committee. They`re talking about ways that they possibly can do that. I don`t know where those discussions are now and I think members of Congress would rather not do it, but he`s forcing our hand by making it sound as if we`re stupid instead of he`s lying.

HAYES: Well, it also strikes me that there`s actual - I mean, do you agree that there`s a tangible difference between him as candidate and him as President? Because, you know, him as candidate was a sort of fitness question, it was about his record, it was about his possible entanglement going into the office. But now for all we know, there are active flows of income in the last few years while he was President-elect. We wouldn`t see anything since he was President. But there are active flows of income where there are active debts or all kind of things that may be really germane to him as President of the United States.

WATERS: Absolutely. And as you know, he`s under a cloud because of these conflicts of interest and the fact that he has not divested himself from his businesses. He`s under a cloud and he should want to, again, up from under the cloud and show his taxes but we think that he won`t do it because, number one, he does have debt to people he does not want us to know he has debt to. And you know, there`s a lot of talks steal about loans that he made from the Kremlin or from Russians during the 2008 problem that we have here in the United States. And so he`s hiding something and we can conclude that he does not care about his constituents, the people who voted for him or anybody else, for example. There`s another thing that some of us following a lead on, and that is that he may have had money owed to for services rendered particularly in the entertainment and TV world that did not go to his account that should be accounted for in his taxes that it went into the foundation so that it is not being seen and he`s not being taxed on it. So I`m following up on this lead, but there`s a lot that we don`t know about this President and he, for example, does not get it because he simply said when he was bemoaning the fact that we were out there rallying and marching, he simply said, in so many words, what`s wrong with them, the elections are over, why are they still doing this, as if we wanted to know during the election, but we don`t want to know now. We want to know now what taxes he`s paid, what taxes he owes, perhaps, how big is his debt, who is the debt to, can he be compromised because of places he has debt. And so, there`s a lot of unanswered questions. But you know, this administration, aside from hiding taxes, they don`t want us to know, the visitor`s log coming into the White House. The corporate heads and the lobbyist and his friends who are coming to get special favors. Why is it he`s hiding that and why is it he`s given a waiver to all of these lobbyists, who, in fact, are coming on to his payroll, coming onto the federal payroll and they are representing the special interest that they had been working for? All of this should make the American public very upset and very concerned. We have a President in the White House who is given waivers to lobbyist, who is not allowing us to see the visitors` logs, who`s hiding his income tax. What does he expect us to do?

HAYES: Right. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, thank you for being here.

WATERS: You`re welcome.

HAYES: Joining me now Annie Karni White House Reporter for Politico and Jennifer Rubin Conservative Columnist for the Washington Post. Let me just - for folks that have not followed that - Annie, that Obama administration took a step that no previous administration where they published the White House visitors logs. Now, they retained the right to strike certain people from it. They say it was national security reasons, other would say that they`ve selectively doing that. But by and large, you`ve got to see who`s visiting the White House in a way you never had before. Trump admin is not doing that anymore. To yet another thing, they`re sort of stepping backwards on transparency wise.

ANNIE KARNI, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, this is interesting. They`re citing President, they called the Obama version, like a faux transparency, that`s what Sean Spicer called it today because they could strike our names.

HAYES: I should note that the President himself from the past has tweeted off the records of the White House visitors log, pointing to people visiting the White House, data he got from that full transparency.

KARNI: Right. But now, they`re citing precedence, and we`re following like history going back to the beginning of time and not releasing these and for privacy for national security for a bunch of reasons. It`s just interesting to be like there`s selective about president because if they`re going to say we want to follow precedent, then they would release the tax returns. So they use that argument when it benefits them and then on tax returns they don`t want to, so the President is up.

HAYES: Well, and Jennifer, I mean, first of all, Spicer`s line didn`t make sense and was not coherent internally. Like there`s a little - like just there`s no logical consistency to the thing itself he constructed. But it just seems to me like they know that it would - just the risk - there is no cost from not releasing it higher than the cost that actually releasing it. That`s the only thing you could conclude from this.

JENNIFER RUBIN, WASHINGTON POST CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: Yes. It must be really awful, otherwise, they would not be taking this. It`s an unnecessary hit. And frankly, this is going to become part of the dialogue in 2018, that Trump is not transparent. He`s not draining the swamp and republicans are enabling him. They`re protecting him. They could pass the statute. They could pass requirements that the President released his taxes, released visitor logs, divest himself of owned corporations and other economic interest and they don`t, of course, because they are republicans living in fear of Donald Trump. Well, it`s going to be pretty interesting when they face the voters in 2018 and see what the voters think about that.

KARNI: I think, you know, you mentioned that the reasons we want to look at them now are different from the reasons we wanted to see them during the campaign. But the reason that he`s not releasing them are exactly the same.

HAYES: That`s correct. Yes.

KARNI: Is that the benefit like the - whatever heat he`s taking for not doing it, is calculated to be less than whatever is in there. And I think he got off a little bit during the campaign because he was running against Hillary Clinton, who fair or not fair seen as not transparent. And there`s a sense that like all politicians are liars and Donald Trump is something different. But I think I don`t know if we`ll get away with it again in four years if he runs against someone who isn`t - doesn`t look like a creature who represent (INAUDIBLE) I think.

HAYES: Right. Well - and I also think -- I mean, I think that was true in a lot of things in the campaign where it`s always a zero-some choice. It`s me or this other person. I also just feel like - you know that Nixon clip we played. I was watching that earlier today because it`s him saying look, the idea that I used public - my public office to personally profit is outrageous. And I mean, this is Richard Nixon. I mean, he`s a crook or not a crook. And Jennifer, I just don`t want us to lose sight of how bizarre images like this are. Just while all of this is going on. This is an Instagram photo, this is just a bunch of dudes hanging out at Mar-a-Lago this weekend with the President of United States. Now, I mean, this is because the President`s private club is the place the President goes to and that he, therefore, advertises by going there. He even advertises how good the chocolate cake is and also produces an inducement for people who purchase asset - access to the President of United States at his private club. All of this happening on the open. This isn`t something buried in the tax return. This is just obvious use of the public position for personal profit happening right there in front of everyone.

RUBIN: Right. And I think this is true of a lot of the scandals. It`s happening in plain sight. It`s not a question of whether he colluded with the Russians. He publicly sided WikiLeaks. He used the information. He did it in plain sight.

HAYES: He told the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton while looking into a camera.

RUBIN: Exactly, exactly. He here is raising the membership of Mar-a-Lago, doubling it thing, you know. Now it`s 200,000, do I hear 3? So he does this in plain sight because he thinks he can. And so far he`s gotten away with it. We`ll see what happens if and when one or both Houses of Congress (INAUDIBLE). We`ll see what the voters have to say about it. And we`ll see when his popularity continues to you know, hover around them in the 30s whether the republicans start getting antsy.

HAYES: Well there this question right about like - right now it`s a sort of uncrackable vault. Right? Like no one can get in. We have one page that turns to good (INAUDIBLE) David Cay Johnston that they verify and vouched for. But unless someone leaks, right? I mean, there`s like things the democrats can do in public. There are things that reporters can try to do. But that`s you know, ultimately they`re making this decision based on this thing. It`s a question, I think Jennifer`s point is right about the political ramifications not for Donald Trump but for everyone else is associated with.

KARNI: Yes. You know, what`s funny though. The political (INAUDIBLE) of the ones that have come out so far, he survived them.

HAYES: Right.

KARNI: You know, a lot of people during the campaign felt like, wow, he didn`t pay taxes for ten years. Like, he`s a smart businessman, he got away with it. So I do wonder what they`re still hiding. Because so far the small leaks that we`ve seen, he has not -- he`s unscathed by them.

HAYES: Right. Exactly. So, you would think that could just - to me, the much bigger thing is about the structure of the business. I mean, and that`s where I personally as a journalist care about much more what taxes he paid or what he owes. What I care about is knowing as the Congresswoman, like who does he owed a lot of money to.

KARNI: That`s about right. The Congresswoman - that`s the real question why it matters so much. It`s like, who is he in debt to. That`s where it can get really scary.

HAYES: Jennifer.

RUBIN: And from a constitutional standpoint, of course, there`s the emoluments -

HAYES: Right. And what`s flow of income coming - flow of income coming into him?

RUBEN: Correct. Is it coming from a government? Is it coming from wholly owned subsidiary of a government? He has stepped away from so-called, you know, control of these -

HAYES: Day to day. Yes.

RUBIN: Yes. I kind of doubt that. But in any way, he still owns them. He`s still profiting from them. And there is another way that we find out and that`s through litigation. And there are some cases out there from a reporter`s standpoint, I would hope they would be more so we find out what`s in there.

HAYES: All right. Annie Karni and Jennifer Rubin, thank you very much.

KARNI: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, does any of this matter to Trump voters, is the question we always get. Does his lack transparency, mounting list of broken promises break through to supposedly unshakable base? Well, we have new indications that it does. We`ll talk about this two-minute break.


HAYES: The story we`ve heard over and over again since Donald Trump was elected, nothing he does matters to his base, he can do no wrong in their eyes. Well, today there`s new polling showing what Trump has done or failed to do in the first 88 days of his Presidency is actually affecting the public`s opinion of him. The percentage of Americans who think Trump keeps his promises is down 17 points since February, falling from 62 to 45 percent. In fact, Trump lost ground on all six characteristics Gallup measured in this month`s poll including those who think he`s a strong decisive leader. Among those who think he can bring about changes his country needs. And among those, who think he`s honest and trustworthy. There`s also new reporting about buyer`s remorse among those who voted for him. Matt Flegenheimer of the New York Times went to a swing district in Pennsylvania to ask Trump voters how they`re feeling about the President. And found that some of those people who gave Trump a shot in November are disillusioned with how things are going. As one voter puts it. Trump is quote, "just like any other damn President." Joining me now Matt Flegenheimer who`s reporting from Bucks County Pennsylvania, appeared in today`s New York Times. Matt, I really enjoyed the piece. And I enjoyed it because you didn`t - so there`s different categories of Trump voters. There are hardcore, die hard, people that go to his rallies and then there are people who kind of rolled the dice. They were like, oh, let`s try this guy, who are sort of the people you talk to, what did you hear.

MATT FLEGENHEIMER, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: Yes, I think among voters who were not necessarily supporters base in the primary, maybe had some concerns about him. This is sort of that moment for re-evaluating, there`s kind of a creeping weariness over the lack of legislative accomplishment, the content of his tweets. There`s a general perception amongst some of these voters that chaos emanating from White House was not what they had signed up for initially.

HAYES: Yes. There`s -- they`re - there are echoed in that article things I`ve heard from Trump voters. I too have spoken to since the election, which is a kind of exhaustion with all the antics.

FLEGENHEIMER: It`s tiring.

HAYES: Yes. There are some people for whom - there are some people for whom they love that, that the hardest core supporters, but most people even people voted for them, like they voted in spite of that, and yet, it has continued in a way that, I think, surprises voters.

FLEGENHEIMER: Yes. I think this is sort of a moment, I mean, it`s an artificial mark for the first 100 days. But this is the time for you see some voters sort of taking stop of how thing have gone. Did not see a lot of legislative accomplishment, the health care bill, obviously that Trump supported, died in the House. At least consideration of it beyond the nomination and confirmation with Supreme Court Justice and some deregulation that a few voters I spoke to cited there`s not a ton that they can latch on to say that`s the guy I wanted in November when I voted.

HAYES: You know, there`s a new poll today that says the democratic party`s vantage on health care. Pew has been polling on this. It`s almost 20 points. 54 percent, 35 percent. Which party would do a better job in dealing with health care? It`s the biggest advantage since 2009, of course, before the issue is passed. Did people talk about the health care implosion (INAUDIBLE).

FLEGENHEIMER: A little bit. I think the sense was largely - you know, among his voters, they want to see different (INAUDIBLE) overhaul, they want to see it repealed. There was a little bit of concerned that the sort of deal making promised - that they were promised during the campaign did not come to bear in this fight. At least so far, so I think there`s a sense that a lot of the road blocks (INAUDIBLE) in Washington before that there`s maybe next vacation that through sheer force of personality, President Trump would be able to kind of bulldoze, they`ve not been seeing that so far.

HAYES: There are places in which he`s clearly broken promises of flip-flop and labeling China currency manipulator for one, he`s used in NATO. but there`s another place where he really has kept his promise. We`ve got new data about arrested immigrants. 32 percent - up 32 percent the first weeks the Trump administration. Arrests of noncriminal immigrants more than doubles over 5,000 compared to the same period last year. So that way, he is delivering on what he told his voters he would do. Did people talk about this a lot? Was immigration front and center in the voters you talk to.

FLEGENHEIMER: I would say it was front and center, it just isn`t totally my conversations. It came up here and there. And it`s worth saying it would overstating this by a quite a bit to say that he`s lost all of his base -

HAYES: Right.

FLEGENHEIMER: - that they sort of an abandonment in droves. By and large, those who voted for him don`t regret it and even those who are not thrilled of how it`s going so far say that they wouldn`t change the vote if given the chance. But I do think there was a sense at this point to sort of look back and say what has happened in these 80 days, 90 days to improve my life and are we heading in that direction. And there`s not necessarily a sense that they gotten as far as they hoped.

HAYES: You know, the thing that came across from the piece to me was that ultimately people will judge him by material improvement to their lives. That is the score card they`re keeping.

FLEGENHEIMERL: And that matters.

HAYES: Yes. And I think sometimes we lose sight of that because there`s a sense in which that doesn`t matter. It stopped mattering because he was able to defy so many conventions. But the folks you talked to, it seemed like that actually was front and center for them.

FLEGENHEIMER: Yes. That`s the animating force and like, you know, any number of districts, their issues that sort of resonate thereof addiction, of health care, veteran`s issues, this is certainly not unlike other - not just purple but you know, red and blue districts in the country where I think the final evaluation and large measure will still be - you know, wins and losses for voters.

HAYES: Right. Matt Flegenheimer, thanks for being here. Appreciate it.

Still to come, what about the democrats, there`s little question about how the party feels about the President and his agenda. Tomorrow Georgia has a chance to do something about it. Will they show up and shock the world, more on that ahead.



MIKE PENCE, UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT: - all options are on the table. Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new President in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan. North Korea would do well not to test his resolve.


HAYES: Vice President Mike Pence in Seoul, South Korea today with more rhetorical escalation towards North Korea. Pence has been delivering the hard line for the White House on his visit, declaring the era of strategic patience is over and that all options on the table when it comes to dealing with the rogue nation. And while he was delivering his "don`t test us talked" today, the Vice President dressed for the part making an unannounced visit to the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas. He was there, clad in his leather bomber jacket. The Vice President strode up the steps of an observation deck to stand up there and get a good look at the enemy himself. Of course, if this image of Mike Pence has you feeling a little dejavu, you`re not alone. It wasn`t so long ago when another administration found value on photo ops like this. So why is it that so many of us seem to forget that history this week. More on that, ahead.

HAYES: The most hotly contested election of the Trump era so far happens tomorrow in Georgia. If the polls are right, the most recent of which was released Friday, then Democrat Jon Ossoff will likely get the most votes in race for Georgia`s sixth congressional district. It`s a House seat recently vacated by Tom Price, the new secretary of health and human services, and before that held by Newt Gingrich for 20 years. Ossoff needs to capture 50 percent of the vote to prevent a runoff in June and win the seat outright. And because of scattered Republican support and an influx of money to Ossoff, it`s not out of the question entirely.

There are 18 candidates vying for the House seat, 17 of which are Republicans, a problem for the GOP that the Daily Beast was apt to point out, quote, "the monster field has split money, airtime and enthusiasm between the Republicans" another problem is that Ossoff`s campaign has raised more than $8 million since January and unlike last week`s special election in Kansas, a race the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee largely avoided, this time in Georgia they`re playing to win.


SAMUEL L. JACKSON, ACTOR: Hi, I`m Samuel L. Jackson, There`s a special congressional election on April 18. What can you do? Go vote. Remember what happened the last time people stayed home, we got stuck with Trump. We have to channel the great vengence and furious anger we have for this administration into votes at the ballot box.


HAYES: And as a race being run as a referendum on President Trump. And this morning right on queue, the president entered the fray with a baseless tweet of his own. The super liberal Democrat in the Georgia congressional race tomorrow wants to protect criminals, allow illegal immigration and raise taxes.

Ossoff responded with a statement that reads in part, "while I`m glad the president is interested in the race, he is misinformed."

Joining me now, Michelle Goldberg, columnist for Slate who is Atlanta whose latest piece is called "Make Donald Trump Furious Again: Georgia`s Special Election Could be a Devastating Blow to the President."

Michelle, what is your sense reporting down there of how this race is taking shape?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, SLATE: So it`s obviously really hard to say for, you anecdotally whether somebody gets 46 or 50 percent in the vote tomorrow, right. I mean, the energy reminds me of Obama in 2008. I mean, you talked about -- you talked about the DNC pouring money here, or the DCCC putting money in here, but what`s much more apparent on the ground is incredible like almost fanatical volunteers.

You had 900 people out knocking doors just yesterday. I think they`ve had 4,000 volunteers so far. The vast majority of them are local, mostly local women. I keep meeting women who tell me sort of the same story over and over again, which is that they`ve never been politically involved before. They woke up the day after Donald Trump was elected and they were shattered. And they kind of poured that into political activism. And now they`re taking these skills that they`ve learned like on the PTA and just devoting themselves. I mean, they`re just working around the clock to try to do this.

HAYES: That is fascinating and a fascinating profile. We should say, so the district is interesting. It was a district. It`s one of those districts that Hillary Clinton out-performed Barack Obama, right. So Trump did worse than he did than Romney in that district.

GOLDBERG: Much worse.

HAYES: He only wanted by one and a half points. It`s a fairly affluent suburban district. And, you know, there`s this Ossoff ad, which I want to play, because to me it sort of boils down part of the message, which is sort of rerunning the Hillary Clinton temperament attack on the president. Take a listen.


JON OSSOFF, DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Imagine you had 30 seconds to make a life or death decision affecting thousands of Americans. That`s what we expect of our president: sound judgment. That`s why it`s so concerning to see President Trump act impulsively.

He`s not only embarrassing us on the world stage, he could start an unnecessary war.

I`m Jon Ossoff, and I approve this message, because I`ll work with anybody to do what`s right for our country, but we can`t let Donald Trump put us at risk.


HAYES: so, that`s sort of the message there.

I mean, that sort of temperament idea I feel like that reporting I`ve read suggests it has more traction in that district than maybe it did other places.

GOLDBERG: Right. I mean, this is a district unlike, you know, Kansas which is antoher race where Democrats had an unexpectedly strong showing, which was maybe a district with more of a kind of Bernie Sanders friendly profile.

This is, like you said, it`s a really affluent suburban district. It has the highest education levels of any district in the state. You know, these are kind of when the - you know, the Hillary campaign had this idea that they were going to pull affluent suburban women into the campaign and it would make up for maybe the deflection of some blue collar white working class voters. That didn`t work nationwide, but this is actually one of the places where that came very close to working.

And so you have a lot of women, again, I mean people really spoke to me about them feeling like Trump is a threat to their children`s future. You know, they are kind of morally outraged in a way that reminds me of the Tea Party. It remind me of things I`ve read about Phyllis Schlafley`s (ph) grass roots armies.

You know, I spoke today to a woman, a 44-year-old army veteran, who was saying, you know, i have a 17-year-old and 23-year-old and I have to worry about them getting drafted.

HAYES: You know, there`s also this sense is which Ossoff is running this kind of national referendum on Donald Trump. But he`s also been fairly sphinx like, in like what exactly Jon Ossoff is standing for.

My sense is that he thinks that`s enough to essentially channel this energy without giving away too much.

GOLDBERG: Well, they don`t say that. When you talk to them, and I think they have to say this, they`ll say, no, we`re running a local race on local issues and we`re talking a lot about technology development and approving the local economy. But it`s pretty clear that this has become a national referendum. I mean, it`s the reason that we`re talking about this on the show, it`s the reason people have poured money into the race from all over the state. It`s the reason you have Trump people, you know, veterans of the Trump campaign working on behalf of Bob Gray (ph), who is sort of the Trump candidate in the race, right.

I mean, and it`s the reason that a lot of these -- you know, a lot of the people who are out volunteering for Ossoff, they really like him. He`s, you know, he speaks elegantly. He`s very considered. He has some of the qualities of a young Barack Obama in terms of his kind of thoughtfulness.

But they are really here to send a national message to Trump.

HAYES: It`s only going to get more intense, if it does go to run off. Although, there`s a possibility that if people vote tomorrow, that they can avoid that as well.

Michelle Goldberg, thanks for joining us.

GOLDBERG: Thank you so much.

HAYES: Still ahead, why is it that taking military action is enough to achieve the praise for being presidential. The danger of choosing, a strong leader which shows a force ahead.

Plus for tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two, we take you to the Easter egg roll at the White House. You don`t want to miss it. Right after this break.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, the very first big White House event of the Trump presidency. And despite reports the planning started very late, the 139th annual Easter egg roll went ahead this morning with very few visible pick-ups.

There was a moment during the national anthem when the First Lady appeared to have to remind the president to put his hand over his heart. There was an incident where a teenager asked to sign his hat and Trump tossed the hat in the air. Luckily, the kid caught it.

And of course there was a giant Easter bunny standing very close to the White House balcony, prompting tweets like welcome to the Hunger Games and "poor Chris Christie."

And there weren`t any celebrities at the White House, unless you count Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer and Attorney General Jeff Sessions reading "It`s Not Easy Being a Bunny" to children.

But all in all, given this president`s history, it was a pretty smooth Easter event. No one was seriously injured. Can the same be for this president`s Easter? That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: This bespectacled Eater bunny standing oh so close to President Trump at the White House balcony today was slightly creepy, but mild- mannered, which is why we know it wasn`t the same Easter bunny who also showed up in Washington this weekend during the president`s race in the fourth inning of the Phillies-Nationals game.

As the president rounded the corner for the final stretch, Thomas Jefferson was knocked down and George Washington took a punch to the face, Abe Lincoln dropped to the ground inexplicably, leaving Teddy Roosevelt in the clear until out of nowhere, it`s the Easter bunny, flying out in the stands.

Let`s just watch that again in slow motion.

But also, why? Going to the raw tape, it`s clear the attack was premeditated. The Eastern bunny preparing himself in the stands, ready to pounce as the 26th president sprints to the finish line. What could have possibly enraged an Easter bunny at such a point? How could one bunny carry such anger? We may never ever know.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is unbelievable how within the first 100 days of this presidency we have exposed the total failure of the last eight years of foreign policy. And it really is, I think - I think people on both sides of the aisle are seeing that there is a real breath of fresh air coming in.


HAYES: The president is live tweeting Fox and Friends again. After those words were spoken this morning, the president quoted them, more or less tweeting, the first 90 days of my presidency has exposed the total failure of the last eight years of foreign policy. Then adding, so true @foxandfriends.

Plaudits the president`s handling of foreign policy over the past week or so haven`t been confined to Fox or the friend or the right wing echo chamber more broadly, far from it. In the wake of Trump`s decision to launch missiles into Syria, people like Washington Post columnist and frequent Trump critic, David Ignatius lauding the president for, quote, "moving his erratic administration a bit closer to pillars of traditional U.S. policy."

Among America`s foreign policy elite, there`s a broadly shared desire fore a president whose actions can be cast as strong and decisive.

In bombing Syria, America demonstrated its capacity for swift, decisive action, Charles Krauthammer declared.

And now, quote, the world is on notice. Eight years of sleep walking is over. America is back.

But as Dan Rather noted yesterday, that there is more to being presidential than firing missiles and dropping bombs.


DAN RATHER, JOURNALIST: There`s an old story here, and I among others have much to answer for this in the press, that just because a president exerts himself as commander-in-chief - there`s a natural inclination and an unhealthy one to, immediately say, boy, that makes him presidential, that makes him strong.

OK, it`s easy to drop bombs and easy to put missiles off. What comes after that and what comes in the wake of that is much more difficult.


HAYES: We`ve been down this road before, much of the media lauded George W. Bush for his strength and decisiveness when he evaded Iraq in 2003, and the statue of Saddam Hussein came down in Baghdad. They declared him presidential one month later when he gave his now infamous mission accomplished speech on the aircraft carrier.

We don`t yet know whether President Trump`s foreign policy will be effective or lead us into a quagmire or worse. What we do know is that he is soaking in compliments from columnists and talking heads who equate bombs and missiles and warships with strength and decisiveness and that he loves to play to an appreciative audience

More on exactly why that`s so dangerous right after this.



GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS: I had a bully in high school, a guy named Richie. You never knew what Richie was going to do. Richie had a - you know, he`d have a temper. Sometimes he wanted to kill you and sometimes he`d let you go.

I like that they think that Donald Trump is like Richie from my high school. I want the bad things to think that he can do anything to them at any moment, and I think that that has a positive impact.


HAYES: Joining me now to discuss the rave reviews President Trump is getting from some in the media for his recent foreign policy moves is MSNBC contributor Sam Seder, host of the Majority Report; and MSNBC national security analyst Evelyn Farkas, former deputy assistant secretary of defense.

And let me start with you. I just feel like there`s this - well, let`s talk about North Korea, right. The theory here is, frankly, it`s to Geraldo Rivera Richie theory which is this idea that you convince the adversary that you`re crazy and might do anything and that cows them because they`re scared that you`re nuts.

EVELYN FARKAS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, but it`s North Korea, and it`s a matter of survival for them.

So I think this is a lot -- it`s more similar to Iraq in 2003 where Saddam Hussein saw us coming and if he had WMD he might have been more likely to use it than not.

And I think with North Korea this is really dangerous, because this is about survival for the regime. And the Chinese can put pressure on them. It may or may not work. And I don`t know why we don`t try sanctions first. Because I think the most important thing everyone should remember is normally military is what you use as your lost resort. It`s when diplomacy has failed, when sanctions, economic measures have failed. You don`t go right to the military saber rattling, I don`t think.

Unless you have an imminent threat.

HAYES: Sam, I wanted to talk to you because you and I had this sort of similar experience I think the places we were - things we were doing during the Iraq war, which is I feel like there`s this sort of pendulum swing, right. So, there was the Iraq war and there was George W. Bush, and that was routinely sort of unanimously viewed as a huge failure by the end of his presidency, like a disaster. In fact, Donald Trump ran against it, that`s how he won the primary, partly.

And then there was Barack Obama. And the knock of Barack Obama is he didn`t act enough. He was too indecisive, that he - there is all these places he should have done things he didn`t.

And I feel like we`ve erased the pre-Barack Obama mistakes, everyone - like, people - you can feel the kind of appreciation and welled up desire for decisiveness in people observing this presidency.

I`m like, we did do that. We had that.

SAM SEDER, HOST, MAJORITY REPORT: Look, it`s tough to get a sense of what we say we feel that -- I think there`s a lot of that in the media frankly. And I think it`s overrepresented in the media. And I think even much more so than even in 2003 when it was overrepresented in the media.

HAYES: Compared to voters, I hundred percent agree. There is no thirst for missile strikes against Syria - against Assad.

SEDER: And I think to a certain extent, there`s a certain amount - I mean, I think there`s a certain of just denial on behalf of the media. I think there`s a certain amount of exhaustion. And I think there`s just an inability to sort of contemplate, hey, maybe we`re doing this because there`s someone who is completely inexperienced, someone who is calling Erdogan on the phone and congratulating him for becoming basically a dictator.

HAYES: Which is nuts, by the way. Did you see that happening?

SEDER: It`s absolutely nuts.

And the idea - just, you know, two weeks ago I was on here and there were people talking about the black box strategy that was going to be exist after we drop bombs on Syria.

Where is this going to emanate from? The best-case scenario is he`s completing abdicating everything to the military at this point and just waiting for them to come in with whatever they decide they want to do. And that`s the best-case scenario, which is a really bad case scenario.

FARKAS: Well, I want to temper that a little bit, because I know personally know the people in the National Security Council, so some of the senior directors as well as H.R. McMaster. Those are very professional, very smart people. They`re not going to do anything - they`re not going to recommend anything that would be reckless.

The problem is we don`t know whether the president`s listening to his national security adviser. We don`t know who he`s listening to and what`s happened with whatever strategy that they have drafted.

HAYES: The other thing about that - oh, yeah, go ahead.

SEDER: Exactly. They may be good soldiers, but their commander-in-chief in this case...

HAYES: Is the president.

SEDER: Has just over the past two weeks gone 180 degrees I think twice now in terms of our Syrian policy. I mean, who knows what the Chinese leader discussed with him over the chocolate cake?

HAYES: One of the things we know is after ten minutes, this has been the president`s own words of listening to Xi talk about the complexity of the Chinese-North Korea relationship, which is quite complex if anyone who is watching has ever read an article about that would know, that after ten minutes of talking to Xi that he realized it was complex, that you can`t just - China can`t just make North Korea do what it wants to do.

SEDER: Who knew?

HAYES: But I also think that - you know, part of the thing that I find sort of unnerving about the North Korea thing right now is that there`s a period of time where we all realized that we were on the brink of nuclear annihilation. It was embedded in the American consciousness because of the Cold War and the bomb drills and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

We`ve sort of lost that sense, like - but we came this close to nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis. We`ve only learned subsequently how close we are. We - like, it`s not crazy to say that - they are a nuclear power. We are a nuclear power.

FARKAS: We also have issues - I don`t want to bring Russia into this, but also have issues with Russia. I mean, the nuclear agenda is big and rich and scary. So I think with regard to North Korea it would have been one thing to send the carrier strike group out just quietly. We`ve done that before.

In fact, Clinton sent two out in `96 to the Taiwan Straits, only one went through the strait. And that was sort of like, chill out. Don`t do anything rash.

HAYES: That was an action sans tweets at the time.

FARKAS: Exactly. It was speak softly or don`t speak at all, demonstrate that you`re there and you could do something if you wanted to, but don`t make any bold saber rattling threats. And I think what the president`s done is he`s made these threats, these verbal threats that probably the North Koreans don`t know how to sort out because generally speaking they are the ones who are the kings of that, not us.

SEDER: I think largely the problem is, is that what Donald Trump is doing is as much about a domestic audience - and frankly, the mirror.

HAYES: He`s playing to Fox and Friends, that`s what he`s making his decision.

SEDER: I think he`s playing to himself in the mirror to a certain extent. And that is really terrifying because there`s no reason to believe there`s a strategy behind any of this.

FARKAS: And there`s no diplomacy. I mean, I think - if I can make any point, you know, let`s look at the really good instances where we used force ultimately, but used diplomacy first - 1991, the first Gulf War, just look at what James Baker did as secretary of state. And all around the world building a coalition.

HAYES: There`s no one in the State Departmetn.

Sam Seder, Evelyn Farkas, thanks to you both.

That is All In for this evening.


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