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All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 4/21/2017

Guests: Tom Reed, Karen Bass, Denny Heck, Matt Mackowiak, Catherine Rampbell

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: April 21, 2017 Guest: Tom Reed, Karen Bass, Denny Heck, Matt Mackowiak, Catherine Rampbell CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  I trust them to make the right decision on whom to lead them.  And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days of a Trump administration.

HAYES:  What a difference a hundred days makes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This morning on his 92nd day in office, the President tweeted that the 100-day mark is a, quote, ridiculous standard.

HAYES:  Tonight a panicked White House now trying to hold health care hostage to pay for the border wall.

TRUMP:  who`s going to pay for it?


HAYES:  Then as the House Russia investigation gets back on track, David Cay Johnston on new concerns over who is buying Trump condos and what that gets them in return.

Plus why the White House is taking shots at New York cops.

Come here to New York City.  Look our police officers in the eye and tell them that you believe they are soft on crime.

HAYES:  And new reporting on Bill O`Reilly`s secret strategy to keep his job.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST:  More proof, the American media is corrupt.

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.

Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  A week from tomorrow marks Donald Trump`s 100th day in office.  And with little to show for it, our media-obsessed President, fixated by his own coverage, appears to be panicking.  He tweeted at 6:50 this morning, "no matter how much I accomplished during the ridiculous standard, the first 100 days, and it has been a lot, including Supreme Court, media will kill."  The first 100 days is an artificial standard, a pretty arbitrary milestone to judge a President`s early track record, but it`s a standard set by the President for himself during the campaign.  Releasing a so-called contract with the American voter, described as a 100-day action plan to make America great again.


TRUMP:  Just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days of a Trump administration.  We are going to have the biggest tax cuts since Ronald Reagan.


HAYES:  The White House has done what it could on its own through executive orders and administrative actions.  Some measures working out better than others.  Both versions of the President`s travel ban, for example, were blocked in court.  But when you want to get big stuff done and your party holds both the Senate and the House, the thing you do is pass legislation.  The President`s 100-day plan laid out ten legislative measures on his agenda, everything from tax cuts to ethics reforms.  As of tonight, the President is 0 for 10.  That`s right, not a single one has passed. 

And now with the 100-day deadline looming and no big achievements to promote, the administration appears to be throwing whatever they can at the wall, hoping something will stick.  Axios reports that the House Ways and Means Committee has postponed hearings on tax reform plan for next week in order to spend more of its time discussing health care.  That comes amid new pressure from the White House to pass a revised health care bill as early as next Wednesday, one day after lawmakers get back from recess.  It`s not actually clear whether such a bill exists at this point.  More on that later.  But now after that tax meeting was postponed, the President says he`ll release a tax reform package as soon as next week.


TRUMP:  We`ll be having a big announcement on Wednesday having to do with tax reform.  The process has begun long ago, but it really formally begins on Wednesday.  So, thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.


HAYES:  This afternoon, reporters asked the President just how he plans to advance both measures through Congress.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can I speak to you briefly about all the legislative action that you`re planning next week?  How are you going to accomplish all that?

TRUMP:  It`s going to be great.  It will happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you going to do health care and tax reform?

TRUMP:  It will happen.  We`ll see what happens.  No particular rush, but we`ll see what happens.  But health care is coming along well.  Government is coming along really well.  A lot of good things are happening.


HAYES:  Government coming along really well.  Looming over all of this is the fact that government funding runs out exactly one week from tonight.  It`s a real test for this republican Congress, something they must absolutely do to keep the government open.  The simplest move would be to pass a continuing resolution that maintains funding at current levels, but that`s not what the White House wants.  Instead, they`re now threatening to shut down the entire federal government over funding for a wall on the southern border.  Something the President promised over and over and over again, that American taxpayers would not have to pay for.


TRUMP:  We will build a great wall, and Mexico will pay for the wall.

Mexico is going to pay for the wall.  They don`t know it yet, but they`re going to pay for the wall.

Mexico will pay for the wall.  They`ll be very happy to do it.

Yes, Mexico will pay for the wall.

Who is going to pay for the wall?


TRUMP:  100 percent.


HAYES:  By Mexico apparently he meant you.  But that`s not all, in order to get funding for the wall, they`re planning to hold the -- hold hostage the government payments under ObamaCare that help subsidize insurance for millions of people.  Take a listen to White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.


MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR:  We finally boiled this negotiation down to something that we want very badly but the democrats really don`t like.  And that`s the border wall.  At the same time, there`s something they want very badly that we don`t like very much, which are these cost-sharing reductions in the ObamaCare payments.


HAYES:  The response from democrats, absolutely not.  Spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer put out this statement.  "The White House gambit to hold hostage health care for millions of Americans in order to force the American taxpayers to foot the bill for a wall that the President said would be paid for by Mexico is a complete non-starter.  The U.S. government is supposed to take care of its citizens and according to the President, Mexico is supposed to pay for the wall.  I asked a New York Congressman Tom Reed, a republican member of House Ways and Means Committee if he gets why some people find the White House`s new position a bit tough to swallow.


REP. TOM REED (R), NEW YORK:  Well, I can appreciate that.  And that`s why my hope next week is we can avoid these ideological type of writers and we keep the lights on just by funding the government.  And we`re working across the aisle with a -- with a group of democratic members.  And I`ll tell you, I think that`s where the sweet spot will be.

HAYES:  So, I just want to get a little more clarity here because the White House is saying -- I even just read someone -- some White House saying, just give me my border wall and my ICE agents.  You think it`s a bad idea to make funding for a border wall a condition of passing the C.R.?

REED:  Well, I do.  I think risk in a government shutdown is not the appropriate place for that conversation.  Now we can have a conversation next week and it may be a supplemental funding request, dealing with the border wall funding.  I do support the border wall and our national security concerns but I think risking a government shutdown is just not the appropriate thing for the American people.

HAYES:  You say you support the border wall and you`re up there in upstate New York, as I said an incredibly beautiful region, the country you represent.  The Wall Street Journal has got an interesting piece today that the border lawmakers, all of the actual lawmakers who actually represent the border, balk at Donald Trump`s wall request.  Not a single person who represents -- there are colleagues of years, republicans, and democrats who represent where the wall would go, support the funding request for the wall.  Doesn`t that tell you something?

REED:  It is interesting.  And I think, when you talk to those members like I have, they`re looking for border security, and maybe wall and security are something that needs to be separated out.  But the bottom line is I do believe they support a secure border given the nature of the threats they see on a day to day basis in their districts and their states.

HAYES:  Right.  But just to be clear here.  I mean, what the President ran on and what they`re talking about now, and I don`t mean to harp on the wall, but it is the thing a week from now you guys are going to have to harp on if the White House is inserting it.  The thing that President ran on wasn`t security.  It was a wall. I mean, he said it about a thousand times.  You`ve got t -- threatening a shutdown to pay for a wall.  He said Mexico would pay for the wall.  His own parties representatives of that region don`t support it.

REED:  Yes.  That`s why I do believe the wiser course, so that we don`t shut the government down and that we keep the lights on come next week is to keep this conversation, this debate on a -- on a side issue, on a supplemental request, and just focus on keeping this government up and running.  And I think that`s where we will end up next week.

HAYES:  So, the other thing that`s now been -- there`s two more things have been kind of thrown into the pot here as you guys are trying to keep the government open and avoid a shutdown.  One is this idea that the health care bill is going to be brought back up.  This time, a version of it that also has the same problems of the first one in terms of coverage lost.  24 million people estimated by the CBO.  But also would essentially allow insurers to charge more for pre-existing conditions.  Is that the kind of thing you`re ready to vote for next week?

REED:  I don`t think we`re going to get into the issue of losing any type of pre-existing condition reform.  I think it was made very clear before we left that that is kind of a non-starter.  I`m very confident that the conversations have been progressing over the last two weeks and taking that deep breath of separating from D.C. I think has been positive to the debate.  And we`re getting closer, and I think we`re getting closer on the repeal bill as we go forward.

HAYES:  I want to get just a little more specific though because --- right, you`re going to get back to D.C. if I understand about Tuesday night.  That`s when most members are arriving.  I mean, are you ready to go back to D.C. Tuesday night and have a bill to restructure a sixth of the American economy be given to you on Wednesday to vote for?

REED:  Well, obviously my top priority next week is to keep the government up and running.  We can deal with health care at the same time.  But, you know, this is something that we`ve got to get right for the American people.  I care deeply about making sure they have access to health care.  And so, as we go forward, if it goes into the following week, I don`t think that`s unreasonable to expect.

HAYES:  OK, I just want to get a little more clarity.  So you -- what I`m hearing from you is you`re not ready to make that vote on a Wednesday?  You want to focus on the C.R. and punch that to next week if possible?

REED:  Well, of course.  I mean we want to actually see the legislative text.  We actually -- I`m committed to reading the bills before we vote on them, make sure we actually have the dialogue.  But we`re ready --

HAYES:  Wait, you want -- Congressman, you want to read the bill?  You want to read the bill before you vote on it?

REED:  Usually that`s a good way to conduct yourself as a legislator in my opinion.  So, you know, cramming something down is probably not the appropriate way to go, and I don`t anticipate that happening.

HAYES:  Well, Congressman, thanks for joining me.  And I enjoy the last few days you get on recess up there in Finger Lakes.

REED:  I appreciate the opportunity to be here.


HAYES:  I`m joined now by Congresswoman Karen Bass, Democrat from California and Congressman Denny Heck, Democrat from Washington.  And Congresswoman, I`ll begin with you.  My sense from your colleague, Congressman Reed there, is he wants no part of government shutdown.  I imagine that`s a prevailing attitude among your GOP colleagues.  What do you think?

REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA:  Well, I do think that`s going to be the case, and I think if you listen to Reed`s comments, what he is displaying is that the republicans are going to have to begin to separate from this guy because he is coming up with absolutely crazy stuff.  The idea that we would put money into a wall, spend money that is not needed, not wanted, and then hold health care hostage over that, that puts him in an untenable situation.  And from what we`re hearing about the bill, it absolutely will eliminate pre-existing conditions.  It`s going to make it to in a situation where people really won`t be able to have the coverage.  And to think that you`re going to leverage one on the other, I think it puts the republicans in a really bad spot, and we`re going to watch them separate from Trump.

HAYES:  All right.  So here`s the argument Congressman Heck that republicans would make.  And I`ve seen some of their sort of mouthpieces making this argument that if the democrats don`t vote for a C.R. with wall funding after the President ran on that and won, it`s the democrats who are shutting down the government.  It`s the democrats who are risking the health care of people and the democrats stand to be blamed.

REP. DENNIS HECK (D), WASHINGTON:  So last November, they asked for the keys to the car.  They got it for the White House, they got it for the Senate, they got it for the House.  Now they`re in the process of driving it into the ditch, and it`s our responsibility?  Chris, that was the most painful and pained defense of what`s going on I`ve ever heard.  I genuinely was sympathetic for my friend, Congressman Reed, I wanted to hand him either some Aleve or even a Percocet because clearly, that was difficult for him to get out.

HAYES:  Well, he was -- he seemed fairly honest.  I mean, the message there to his credit was clear.  Like he doesn`t want this.  I mean that is my take away from that.  Congressman Reed doesn`t want a big, nasty brawl about the border wall funding next week, and a health care fight.  He wants a clean C.R. bill to be passed to keep the lights on, and I guess Congresswoman Bass, you`re -- can you explain something to me?  And I`m going to admit that I don`t quite get this.

BASS:  I`ll try. 

HAYES:  I don`t even understand how they -- my understanding was that those subsidy payments on the ObamaCare side were not part of the discretionary budget.  I don`t understand quite what they`re threatening.

BASS:  Well, I think what they`re saying is, is that they will take away the money because there are ways through the budget process where they can do great damage to the Affordable Care Act. 


BASS:  And they are threatening to do that if we don`t agree to put money into the wall.

HAYES:  Do you think there`s -- it strikes me that Congressman Heck, from Schumer`s perspective, this is in some ways, you are not as democrats scared of any of this.  I mean, it seems to me that the border wall fight, the health care fight, these are not things that divide your caucus.

HECK:  Do I look scared, Chris?  Listen, it`s not just every single legislator, both democrat and republican along the border.  They got there for a good reason.  Here`s the good reason.  61 percent of Texans, Texas citizens, are opposed to the border wall.  We`re not afraid whatsoever of having combat with them over an issue where he promised ad infinitum that the Mexicans would pay for the border wall.  You know what, there`s even a group of private property owners all along the border that are beginning to organize and beginning to litigate on this.  I`m not afraid of this.

HAYES:  Congresswoman Bass, in terms of the communication, I mean just give me your sense observing this.  Today, it`s just remarkable to watch this because it really doesn`t seem like there`s any coordination at this point between the White House and Capitol Hill.  We hear things one moment, they`re knocked down the next.  You`re an experienced legislator, what is your sense of how the republican colleagues are sort of coordinating with the White House?

BASS:  Well, I mean I don`t think anything is able to coordinate with the White House.  I mean, they can`t even coordinate amongst themselves.  You know, this is an administration by tweets.  We never know what he`s going to do, not just from day to day.  We don`t know what he`s going to do in the same day, and it puts them in a heck of a spot.  I agree with my colleague there.  You know, needless to say, the southern part of my state is a big part of the border, and there is not support for that here.  And the fact that they are literally going to use eminent domain to take property away from people in order to build a wall that nobody wants, nobody needs, we don`t have the money for it, it makes absolutely no sense.  And I feel the empathy for my colleague, Reed, as well because they`re having a very tough time explaining this madness.

HAYES:  Congressman Heck, ultimately, do you think they`re going to push this?  I mean is this -- when you go back to D.C. on Tuesday, what are you sort of buckling in for?  What`s your anticipation of what you`re going to be doing next week?

HECK:  Obviously trying to keep the federal government from shutting down.  But, Chris, the question really is, to what degree is the republican majority going to be willing to back a President who at this point in his administration has by 14 points the lowest approval rating in recorded history?  I sense they`re beginning to tiptoe backwards and away from some of these ideas that he keeps coming up with almost at random.

HAYES:  Next week is going to be absolutely, I think, the most fascinating political week that we`ve seen in this administration so far.  Everyone back from recess, 100 days, got a hard deadline, everything happening next week, so we will be covering it.  Congresswoman Karen Bass, Congressman Denny Heck, thanks to you both.

BASS:  Fasten your seat belts.

HAYES:  That`s right.  Ahead, the chaotic White House push to accomplish something substantial before 100 days are up.  Why one republican Senator said she choked on her cereal when she heard what one Trump adviser was claiming, in two minutes.



TRUMP:  This is a great bill, this is a great plan, and this will be great health care.  And the plan gets better and better and better, and it`s gotten really, really good.  And a lot of people are liking it a lot.  We have a good chance of getting it soon.  I`d like to say next week, but it will be -- I believe we will get it, and whether it`s next week or shortly thereafter.


HAYES:  When it comes to getting a health care bill passed, this administration and its own congressional majority`s inability to communicate is really pretty astonishing.  Today we got a perfect example of that.  So a senior White House official told CNBC, the Senate Budget Committee Staff is working on health care deal language now and hope it can be sent out today or tomorrow.  Now that`s a big deal.  It raised some eyebrows, mine included, because it alludes to movement on the bill on the Senate side.  And since the first bill couldn`t even pass the much easier House, but around the same time, a reporter at congressional quarterly tweeted that Senate GOP source told him yesterday this was false.  Quote, "the only language on the ACA repeal that may be considered has been drafted by the House."  And then, there was this report from Trump Tax Adviser Larry Kudlow on CNBC.


LARRY KUDLOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP TAX ADVISER:  Just a brief report, and this is all secondhand.  But I`ve been told by people down there that Conservative Freedom Caucus Member Mark Meadows, the Chairman so-called, has been in discussion and successfully negotiating with Moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, and that they`re agreeing on a number of issues.  And so for the first time as this person reported to me, if the House can get a vote next week or soon after, the Senate may jam it right through fast.


HAYES:  A huge revelation.  I mean the House and the Senate working together and jam it through in a matter of a week?  Except for one thing.  Susan Collins denied Friday, she`s been talking with the Conservative House Freedom Caucus about a possible health care bill.  In fact, she said she, quote, "choked on my cereal when she saw that report."  Joining me now, Matt Mackowiak, Republican Strategist and Catherine Rampell, Columnist for Washington Post.  And Matt, I just get a sense that the dynamic is the White House is desperate, desperate to pass a piece of legislation out of some House, somewhere, by 100 days.  And the people that would actually have to vote for it are the opposite of desperate for that to happen.

MATT MACKOWIAK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Yes, look, I mean this is a first 100 days that`s certainly unlike anything we`ve seen in the modern era generally the winning Presidential candidate has momentum at the end, unifies the country, has a honeymoon period, and even has in that honeymoon period a moment where the losing party works with that President to accomplish one or two of the issues that they ran on.  And so, look, I`m not saying this is entirely the democrats` fault, but there is just no incentive right now for democrats to work with Trump and the republicans to pass major things.

HAYES:  Matt, Matt, Matt, I get that.  But the democrats are not to be blamed for what happened with the House health care bill.

MACKOWIAK:  Yes.  No.  True, true.

HAYES:  In fact, to be honest, they couldn`t get the votes in their own caucus to bring it to a bill.  It wasn`t the democrats.  It was the republicans that destroyed that.

MACKOWIAK:  Totally agree with that.  I mean, that bill was not ideal in terms of the product that they put forward.  I think they didn`t utilize the transition between the election and inauguration effectively enough to get a product that could get through the House.  Look, we have the House, the Senate, and the White House, if you can`t get 60 votes on something, that at least makes sense.

HAYES:  Right.

MACKOWIAK:  But to not get 51 votes when you have a majority in both Houses, that`s just not a good excuse.

HAYES:  OK.  That`s my point.  Right.  It`s easier to go and say the democrats are blocking if it`s a filibuster.  Also, I was struck the body language of the members that I talked to in the first block, the Republican Congressman Reed and then Heck and Bass.  Just physically, you can see who is savoring the politics of the fight next week.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST:  It does not seem to be the republicans, to put it mildly, which you can understand.  I mean they have made too many mutually exclusive promises that they cannot keep, and the information that we have so far about this magical yet another ObamaCare replacement bill suggests that it`s not going to fix anything because it can`t be fixed, right?  I mean, the kinds of things that the moderates want are completely antithetical to the things that the Freedom Caucus people want.  So there is no solution.

HAYES:  And, matt, as a Texan I got to ask you this.  I mean, this border wall thing, it`s just -- what`s strange to me about the politics of this, and I think you saw that in my interview with Congressman Reed, the border wall is the President`s deal.  No one in that House Caucus made that promise.  They`re not the ones who are hung out to dry on it.  They weren`t going around the country saying we`re going to get Mexico to pay for a border wall.  And now they`re going to have to have a fight, a shutdown, a tough vote on a shutdown for the President`s border wall that Mexico is going to pay for?

MACKOWIAK:  Yes.  It`s a fair point.  Look, Trump`s agenda and the republican agenda overlapped in some areas, but in some areas, it didn`t overlap.  And that`s where some of these republicans on Capitol Hill do not want to be overinvested in things that Trump promised that they didn`t promise.  Look, this is tricky along the border.  Generally, a wall is popular.  I don`t know that I subscribe to that one poll.  That poll had Ted Cruz and Beto O`Rourke tied at 30 percent in the U.S. Senate race. 

HAYES:  Oh, I see that poll.  Yes.

MACKOWIAK:  That`s right.  Five percent more democrats than republicans polled.  So, set that aside.  I do think what is popular is a --

HAYES:  Well, forget the poll.  Forget the poll.  Here`s what I will say.


HAYES:  The -- no one -- no one along who represents the part of the border is pushing for the appropriation, which to me seems like a clearer cut issue.

MACKOWIAK:  Yes.  Look, there`s cross-border commerce issues.  There`s eminent domain issues.  In rural areas, there`s a sense you don`t really need a wall.

HAYES:  Yes. 

MACKOWIAK:  There`s very little crossing that actually occurs there.  In the urban areas, though, I think you can make a strong case that better border security would be good for both sides of the border.  It would be good for stopping narco-trafficking.  I think that`s where you`re going to see this go.

HAYES:  Let`s just be clear though.  The promise -- I just want to be clear.  The promise was a 1,000-mile wall.  It wasn`t -- maybe it was a security --

RAMPELL:  That Mexico would pay for.

HAYES:  That Mexico would pay for.  It wasn`t -- and Jack Kelly -- you know, my favorite DHS said at one point he referred to the wall as being invisible in places which I thought was like a creative use of language to say that like, it wouldn`t exist.  Like invisible in the way that the naked king`s clothing is invisible, right?  The problem on this fight to me also is that the C.R. is the first must-pass.  It`s the first thing that this unified government, Catherine, has to get done.  It`s not a matter of choice.  It`s not, oh, we`ll pull the bill.  Like, this is the first test of like, can you do it?

RAMPELL:  Which is why it`s particularly bizarre that they`re making promises about repealing ObamaCare because, you know, like they had a lot of time before now to try to get that done, and they couldn`t get their ducks in a row.  So why would you think they could walk and chew gum now?

HAYES:  Right, and David Jolly, Former Republican Congressman said this to me last night.  You usually clear the decks in the run-up to a C.R. because what you don`t want to do is antagonize or start beefs on other stuff that will then poison the well on the C.R.

RAMPELL:  Right.  I mean, this is must-pass legislation.  They have to keep the lights on.  I guess you could imagine Trump claiming it as a victory if there`s a government shutdown because, hey, we hate everybody in government anyway.  But I don`t think --


RAMPELL:  I don`t think the voters are going to buy that.

HAYES:  I mean, I don`t any would be. 

RAMPELL:  So why crowd it, you know, with these other initiatives?

HAYES:  Well, next week.  Strap in Matt Mackowiak, Catherine Rampell, thanks for joining us.

MACKOWIAK:  Thank you.

HAYES:  House investigation into the Trump campaign`s Russia ties officially back on.  Details next.

And still to come, the mysterious shell companies putting down millions of dollars to buy Trump properties since he was elected President, incredible new report from USA Today, the implication of David Cay Johnston Ahead.


HAYES:  There may be no legislative accomplishments in the Trump administration`s first 100 days.  But one thing the President has racked up are questions about ethics and potential conflicts of interest.  Here`s a chart released by the office of government ethics during the two fiscal quarters covering Barack Obama`s first inauguration.  That little square labeled FY09, the OGE filled at 733 increase from the public. 

During the comfortable period with the Trump administration, that tall column at the right, the office has received 39,105 inquiries, an increase of about 5,200 percent.  The message, voters care.  But the actual investigative work or much of it is supposed to be done by the House Oversight Committee, whose Chairman, Congressman Jason Chaffetz, republican of Utah, has somewhat bewilderingly announced he may be leaving Congress before his term is up and not running for re-election.  And he has shown little appetite for any real oversight of this administration. 

Nevertheless, Chairman Chaffetz has called on the Trump organization to give more details about its system for identifying and donating profits to the Treasury Department that come from foreign government officials who make payments to the President`s businesses.  That might run afoul of the constitution.  And guess what?  Remember the House Intelligence Investigation on Russia, which Congressman Devin Nunes appeared to essentially try to sabotage and then had to recuse himself?  It`s back on track.  So says its ranking member, Congressman Adam Schiff.  The Committee issuing letters inviting major officials like the FBI Director, the National Security Adviser, the Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.  Remember her, who was fired by the Trump White House?  To testify.  Hearings will begin as early as May 2nd.  But if you`re looking for potential conflicts of interest for the President of the United States, the most obvious place is in some ways hiding in plain sight.  The White House is not being very forthcoming.  Luckily, someone did some digging.  And that`s next.


HAYES:  President Trump`s most obvious potential conflicts of interest are his multiple properties around the world. "USA Today" conducted a four- month investigation into how extensive those properties are just in this country.

Reporters found that Trump`s companies are sitting on at least $250 million worth of individual properties in the USA alone. At least 422 luxury condos and penthouses from New York City to Vegas, and other properties.

The conflict of interest is a simple one. The potential to purchase a Trump party to curry favor with the president or his family. It`s exacerbated by the fact that the real estate is so often bought by LLCs, that`s limited liability companies that need not reveal who`s actually behind the sale. Shell companies, essentially.

"USA Today" found that since Election Day, Trump companies have sold at least 14 luxury condos and home building lots for about $23 million, and half were sold to limited liability companies. No names were listed. Indeed, obscuring buyers` identity. Almost half the sales since Trump became a candidate were also sold to LLCs.

"USA Today" is not making claims about whether the percentage of LLCs buying Trump properties increased since his candidacy, but the potential of a purchase by some person or entity wanting to obscure their identity is clear.

Trump himself has never disclosed a complete list of his holdings and is not required by law to do so, but he`s broken decades of norms by not releasing his tax returns, by not putting his holdings into a blind trust.

Joining me now, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, David Cay Johnston, who`s now the columnist of "The Daily Beast", author of "The Making of Donald Trump".

And David, you know, real estate is an interesting case because it`s sort of easy to game. We know, from a lot of investigative reporting, that high- end real estate is used by the sort of financial elite the world to park money, to evade taxes at home, sometimes to launder money.

And if you buy it through a shell company, no one knows who did it. And if you were looking to curry favor of the President of the United States, it would be easy as essentially buying over market rate as a means of essentially donating to, paying him.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST:  Well, even if you don`t pay above market rates, an unsold unit is revenue you haven`t made. It`s a drag on your profits, and there are many, many unsold units in the Las Vegas tower that Trump owns with Phil Ruffin.

An anonymous wealth buyer -- and that`s what these are, anonymous wealth -- created a firm and then bought more than a dozen apartments right away. So even if you paid market rates, you`ve now put money in the President`s pocket, and you`ve relieved him of the ongoing costs of maintaining that unit and not collecting the profits he expected.

HAYES:  I mean it`s crazy, right? At some level, it`s like the worst version of this, right? And I`m not saying this is what`s happened, but this is the problem of not having better disclosure, right? Is that we -- there`s nothing you can rule out -- is some quid pro quo system, right, where the President`s family or advisors says, "Yes, I`ll give you this piece of regulation or that piece of legislation if you do this." And that -- this is purchase some units.

JOHNSTON:  Well, and part of the problem with this is that a number of states, Wyoming, Nevada, and others allow anonymous wealth corporations to be done in a form that even law enforcement can`t find out, at least from the paper record, who the creators of the company are.

HAYES:  Wow.

JOHNSTON:  So for all we know, we have drug kingpins, where Donald Trump`s been involved very deeply with a major drug trafficker in the past. Or foreign governments that are trying to get favors out of the U.S. who are putting money into his pocket. After all, at Mar-a-Lago, he just met with two former high-level Colombian government officials, which we, of course, don`t know about because Donald Trump won`t tell us who he`s talking to.

HAYES:  Yes. He`s another place where we`ve got a real dark money issue. And again, I want to just be clear. There`s no evidence saying any of this. This is all just -- the point is that there are these channels that exist for dark money, hidden money, to stream into the pockets of the President of the United States, and that we can`t see it all. They`re a complete black box.

We`ve also now got -- and this is not dark money, we`ve actually got some disclosures -- but the inaugural fund-raising, they raised $100 million. It was twice as much as the -- Obama, I believe, raised. And it`s sort of unclear, like, where all this money was coming from and what it`s doing now.

JOHNSTON:  You know, you look back to the problems that politicians in this country had in the `50s and `60s and `70s with slush funds that were tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then you look at this inaugural fund. Twice the size of Obama`s, over $100 million.

And people giving to that fund aren`t doing so because they`re trying to relieve the burdens of the poor. They`re doing it because they`re trying to curry favor with somebody who`s about to become very powerful.

HAYES:  Or even this is key about the inaugural fund. Or even backing a candidate they want to see win, right? I mean, even that is -- they are not backing someone and taking a risk, a roll of dice, particularly when Trump was not particularly popular among certain parts of the donor class. They`re backing the winner. I mean, that`s -- they are making a payment to the man who is --

JOHNSTON:  This is a sure bet. This is a sure bet.

HAYES:  Yes. Because of the -- you know, it`s tax day. This is an issue you`ve been on more than anyone. You got that one tax return. It`s the only thing we`ve seen in the last decade, I think, of the President`s returns. Would getting his taxes tell us anything about these kinds of transactions we`re talking about?

JOHNSTON:  Oh, sure. It would tell us lots of things. If we have complete returns for a number of years, first of all, we could determine the value that he says he has in his real estate because there are depreciation schedules. We would know who he`s paying interest to. We would know who he`s paying fees to, his consultants. We would know how much he`s indebted to whom.

And remember, we have a President of the United States now who`s subject to leverage by the communist Chinese government because he owes lots of money. Exactly how much, we don`t know, to communist banks in China. A republican president who`s in debt to the Chinese communist government.

We would learn how much the oligarchs have but in his pocket, but most importantly, I think we would learn about fees paid to people for connections in places where he does business, like Egypt and Turkey, which are not exactly models of democratic business societies.

HAYES:  All right. David Cay Johnston, thank you.

JOHNSTON:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Still to come, an incredible politico scoop. They have obtained Bill O`Reilly`s secret strategy to keep his job. We`ll tell you all about it ahead.

And the White House picks a fight with the NYPD, and New York fights back in Thing 1, Thing 2.


HAYES:  Thing 1 tonight, it`s been quite a couple of days for Attorney- General Jeff Sessions. As we reported yesterday, Sessions was roundly criticized for questioning the legitimacy of a federal judge because Hawaii isn`t part of the continental U.S. Sessions said, "I really am amazed a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States."

Today, Sessions again found himself in hot water after the justice department sent letters to nine so-called sanctuary cities, threatening to block federal money by the end in June, writing in part, many of these jurisdictions are also crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime.

New York City continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city`s soft-on-crime stance. Gang murder after gang murder from a soft-on-crime stance. That statement came as a surprise to many New Yorkers and to the New York police commissioner.


JAMES O`NIELL, POLICE COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK CITY:  I like to think of myself as a pretty calm and measured person. And I think most of the time I present myself that way. But when I read that statement by DOJ this afternoon, my blood began to boil.


HAYES:  New York`s response to Jeff Sessions is Thing 2 in 60 seconds.



MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, N.Y.:  I would say to President Trump and to Attorney General Sessions, if you believe this statement is accurate, come here to New York City. Look our police officers in the eye and tell them that you believe they are soft on crime. This absurd statement needs to be renounced immediately.


HAYES:  New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio blasted the justice department statement which, in addition to calling New York soft on crime, claimed the city continues to see gang murder after gang murder. As Vox points out, murders have actually plummeted, down 50 percent since 2000. And the NYPD says last year saw the fewest shootings ever since the city began keeping record.

The DOJ attempted damage control of the statement tonight, saying in part, as made very clear in the department`s release, it is New York City`s policies that are soft on crime. That was not how New York Police Commissioner, James O`Neill, read it.


O`NEILL:  We took this job to do good, to make a difference, and to keep this city safe. And look at the city in 2017. It didn`t happen by accident. There was a tremendous amount of sacrifice. Cops are hurt every day. Cops are killed in the line of duty. This is insulting to the memory of Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo, Randolph Holder, Brian Moore, Joe Lew, Rafael Ramos. I find this statement to be absolutely outrageous. Thank you.



HAYES:  Last night, 10 days after getting sworn in as Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch cast his first vote. And as a result, 51-year-old Ledell Lee became the first person in over a decade to be executed by the State of Arkansas.

After a flurry of last-minute petitions, the Supreme Court handed down a five-four decision, allowing Arkansas to execute Lee, despite the fact that lee`s case was buried, absolutely buried in troubling questions.

Sentenced to death for the 1993 murder of Debra Reese, who was found beaten to death by a club-like tire thumper, Lee maintained his innocence since the day of his arrest. His attorney asked for additional DNA testing to be done in the days leading up to his execution. The court rejected that request.

There`s also the question of competency and fairness in Lee`s original trial, which was presided over by a judge who did not disclose that he was having an affair with the assistant prosecutor, whom the judge later married. Not to mention Lee`s post-conviction counsel showed up in court appearing drunk and slurring his words. That lawyer was dismissed. Lee got new counsel and won new proceedings, but his new lawyer failed to introduce evidence of the previous judge`s affair.

And then there`s the method of Ledell Lee`s execution. Arkansas uses three different drugs for the lethal injections, potassium chloride, Vecuronium bromide and midazolam. The state official testified that the potassium chloride was obtained by driving to an undisclosed location to meet an unnamed distributor, who, when told about the billing process, chose to donate it rather than create a record of sale.

That may have been because one of the distributors of the drug doesn`t want it to be used in executions, according to the letters obtained by DUP. The same goes for the Vecuronium bromide, used in lethal injections. The drugs maker claimed the state did not disclose its intent for the drug. The inadvertent sale was improper and demanded that Arkansas return the drug.

The third drug, midazolam, is the centerpiece of this story because the midazolam that Arkansas currently has is set to expire at the end of this month. So the state scheduled eight executions to take place over 11 days. So far, four of the eight scheduled executions have effectively been stopped, and four of the Supreme Court Justices thought this one should be too.

But not Justice Neil Gorsuch, who cast what could be one of his many tie- breaking votes, and just 30 minutes later, 11:56 central, Ledell Lee was killed.


HAYES:  Bill O`Reilly had one last ace up his sleeve on the day before Fox announced their mutual agreement that he would not return to the network.

"Politico" says it was accidentally forwarded an e-mail chain from Bill O`Reilly`s legal team. In it, they discussed an e-mail from a democratic fundraiser and ally of a liberal watchdog group, Media Matters, which had spearheaded what she called an advertiser education campaign to get advertisers to pull out of "The O`Reilly Factor".

Bill O`Reilly reportedly saw it as evidence of a left wing plot to destroy him, and "Politico" reports he and his legal team were debating on whether to show it to Fox. But the campaign was not a secret. Media Matters had publicly promoted it.

This is the Stop O`Reilly Twitter account, clearly run by the President of Media Matters. And this was the headline on Media Matters last month, "What would it take for Bill O`Reilly to get fired?"

Still not a surprise that Media Matters wanted Bill O`Reilly off the air. This week, they got their wish. One of the people who was responsible for that will join me in a moment. Along with him, another reporter has had personal experience with the former "O`Reilly Factor".

Amanda Terkel wrote a blog post for ThinkProgress in 2009, reporting on Bill O`Reilly`s invitation to speak at a fundraiser for charity of the Sports rape victims, and highlighting controversial dictum blaming comments he made on his radio show about a rape survivor`s clothing.

A few weeks after Terkel published the piece, she said she was harassed and ambushed while she was on vacation by O`Reilly producer, Jesse Waters.


JESSE WATTERS, AMERICAN CRITIC, FOX NEWS CHANNEL:  You wrote a blog about Bill O`Reilly going to speak for this rape function, this charity group, and you attacked him personally and you attacked the foundation, and you brought a lot of pain and suffering to this group. What`s your reaction?

AMANDA TERKEL, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, THE HUFFINGTON POST:  What I remember was writing -- was highlighting a comment that Bill O`Reilly had said. And that`s what I remember doing. I don`t remember attacking the foundation.

WATTERS:  What did Bill O`Reilly say?

TERKEL:  I can`t remember exactly what he had said because it was a while ago. But I remember it was something having to do with he had talked about a rape victim in a derogatory way that seemed to place the blame for the rape on the victim.


HAYES:  Bill O`Reilly now gone from Fox News, but Jesse Waters, the guy who was doing that interview, was promoted to a prime time co-host slot. Joining me now, Amanda Terkel. That`s her. Senior Political Reporter, Politics Managing Editor at "Huffington Post". Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow at the aforementioned Media Matters.

Amanda, let me start with you because I remember when this happened. Just - - the context of this was that you were on vacation, right?


HAYES:  And you had written this blog post. Did they ever try to contact you?

TERKEL:  No. Never.

HAYES:  They didn`t call you for comment?

TERKEL:  Never called me.

HAYES:  They didn`t ask you to clarify?


HAYES:  Jesse Watters got in a car and tailed you for several hours outside of D.C., right?

TERKEL:  I think so, yes.

HAYES:  And then he ambushed you at a gas station?

TERKEL:  No, outside a bed and breakfast, actually. Yes. I don`t know how they found me exactly, but I didn`t tell anyone where we were going. And in retrospect, I remember a car following. See, I think they followed me a few hours to Virginia.

HAYES:  And you were with your partner?

TERKEL:  Yes, my boyfriend, now my husband.

HAYES:  Boyfriend -- right.

TERKEL:  I lived alone. And so you don`t -- usually, when you see a car following you, it`s just a coincidence. You don`t think they`re actually following you.

HAYES:  So this individual showed up at a bed and breakfast and did that interview?


HAYES:  Without trying to contact you. And this was a shtick of that show. I mean,this was a thing they did all the time. How do you feel about all this?

TERKEL:  I mean, I think it`s about time Bill O`Reilly was off the air. I mean, not only because of the ambush and all the racist and sexist things and offensive things he said on the air over the years, but I mean, you know, these sort of sexual harassment allegations, it`s not like they`re new. We`ve known about them for -- since at least 2004, so it was about time.

HAYES:  Eric, I would imagine that over at Media Matters, it`s a very happy day -- a happy week. I thought it was interesting that he thought he was going to -- his ace in the hole was he was going to send this e-mail to Rupert Murdoch, revealing the fact that you guys wanted him off the air and that would protect him.

ERIC BOEHLERT, SENIOR FELLOW, MEDIA MATTERS:  He was going to out our very public campaign. I mean, Bill O`Reilly`s been a cornerstone of our monitoring for 10 years. I mean, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O`Reilly, that`s who we started out -- pointing out. This is misinformation. It`s kind of rancid stuff.

And as Amanda describing -- the DNA goes beyond that, right? It goes to this bullying, this kind of intimidation and he`s kind of -- personifies this kind of -- this jerk culture, this persona. But now, we realize it`s not a persona. It didn`t end from 8:00 to 9:00. It existed around the clock for people who worked at Fox News, and women who worked at Fox News, who worked for O`Reilly and who worked for Ailes.

We`re getting a much larger picture than when Media Matters started 10 years ago, Bill O`Reilly lies. We`re getting a picture of this work culture at Fox News that is just kind of off the charts. It`s synonymous with, almost, the sexual predator of Trump during the campaign, and Roger Ailes, the allegation against him, certainly are beyond harassment. It`s a very ugly picture. It`s a very ugly culture that Rupert Murdoch has created.

HAYES:  Do you think the place can change?

BOEHLERT:  It can. The question is, will it? Bill Shine has been promoted to President of Fox News last summer, right? The Murdoch sons could have come in and really cleaned house after Ailes. They promoted people who were indicated in covering all this stuff up.

HAYES:  Explain who Bill Shine is.

BOEHLERT:  Bill Shine was a longtime Ailes confidant -- O`Reilly confidant. And he was promoted to Fox President last August. And people said -- and people like -- people who worked at Fox had been very specific. He quieted us. He told us to take the buyout. He told us not to go after Roger Ailes, and they promoted him. And so that -- they still have a huge (INAUDIBLE)

TERKEL:  And I don`t know how much is going to change on air, too. I mean, you know, the people they`re promoting for these prime time shows have a history of making remarks similar to what O`Reilly would say on air. And the guy who ambushed me, Jesse Watters, is going to get part of the prime time slot at 9:00 p.m.

HAYES:  Let me just show a "Fox & Friends" clip from this morning to give you a sense of the flavor.


AINSLEY EARHARDT, HOST, FOX & FRIENDS:  It`s just like when we talk about these thugs that play football and they get the opportunity play in the NFL. There`s so many young high schoolers that would love to have that opportunity, and they never do, and then these thugs waste it. It`s just like this guy. We give him an opportunity to come to this country, gave him a permit.


EARHARDT:  Yes. We gave him a work permit or a permit to go to college, that`s what DACA does, and this guy abused it. He didn`t follow the rules. He`s out of the country. Sorry, let someone in under DACA that wants to be here and is going to follow the rules.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Was he actually scaling the wall to get back in?

EARHARDT:  He came in over and over. Twice at least.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well anyway, that`s the part of the story you haven`t heard on the other channels.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You bring a -- you should be bringing a pen, not a rope ladder. That`s the key.


HAYES:  That`s -- you know, they do what they do over there. And I think that the -- they feel like the market for that is strong.


HAYES:  Do you think it -- has -- is there some way in which it`s responsible for the way that conservatism is now?

BOEHLERT:  Off the rails? Yes. I mean -- look, Fox News is incredibly influential. They are -- they have created this movement, right? And so, you know, Roger Ailes thought he was untouchable. He`s gone. You know, Bill O`Reilly thought he was untouchable, he is gone. Everyone else at Fox is going to have to figure it out. You know, they can take a chance and see if anyone will support this.

HAYES:  Is the political culture better now than it was when you were ambushed the bed and breakfast?

TERKEL:  No. I don`t actually think it was. I mean, one thing that`s different is social media just now. You know, you -- when I was ambushed, there just wasn`t Twitter and everything and I think it would have been a lot worse for me, obviously. I think I would have gotten a lot more hatred.

HAYES:  That`s a great point.

TERKEL:  Now, you know, there`s all this fake news. It`s just -- it`s a lot more hostile.

HAYES:  Really good point. Amanda Terkel and Eric Boehlert, thanks for being here.

TERKEL:  Thank you.

HAYES:  All right. That`s "All In" for this evening and for the week. "The Rachel Maddow Show" starts right now, good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Have an excellent weekend, my friend. Thank you very much.

HAYES:  You too. Big week next week.