Show: All in with Chris Hayes Date: April 24, 2017 Guest: Betsy Woodruff, Sherrod Brown, Ben Howe, Michael Isikoff, Jason Johnson
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: And that`s HARDBALL for now, thanks for being with us, "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Who is going to pay for the wall?
AMERICAN CROWD: Mexico.
HAYES: The White House makes its demand, fund the wall or the government shuts down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you, from that podium, guarantee that there will not be a government shutdown?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I can`t guarantee.
HAYES: Tonight, the latest on the most consequential fight of the Trump Presidency. Then Senator Sherrod Brown on Trump`s new proposal for massive corporate tax cuts. New reports that republicans in the Senate are slowing down the Russia investigation.
TRUMP: we`re going to get it right.
HAYES: And how the State Department is showcasing Trump`s so-called Winter White House.
SPICER: The president will be shifting the operation of the White House down to the Winter White House at Mar-a-Lago.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. It`s Monday night of what`s shaping up to be the consequential week yet of Donald Trump`s Presidency. Not only are we counting down to his 100th day in office, but this President and his party in control of both Houses of Congress are facing their very first real do or die legislative task. They must pass spending bill to keep the government open. Until recently all signs have pointed to a straightforward bipartisan compromise that would maintain funding at current levels, postponing contentious budget fight till a less risky day. But then the White House got involved. Desperate to deliver on a key campaign promise before the 100-day mark, the Trump administration decided to demand money for a border wall as part of the spending bill. It`s a move that raises the odd of government shutdown just after midnight a.m. this Saturday, which just so happens to be the President`s 100th day in office. Top administration officials were asked about the upcoming showdown in interviews this weekend.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the border wall so important right now that it`s worth risking a government shutdown?
JOHN KELLY, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I certainly think that border wall is essential as do almost everyone that lives along the border. So yes, I think it`s certainly worth hard negotiation over it.
MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: We want our priorities funded and one of the biggest priorities during the campaign was border security, keeping Americans safe and part of that was a border wall. We still don`t understand why the democrats are so wholeheartedly against it. -- keeping Americans safe and part of that was a border wall.
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HAYES: The Homeland Security Secretary was wrong there. People living along the border don`t think the wall is essential. In fact in a poll last year of border-region residents from California and Texas, 72 percent oppose building a wall. That`s even higher than 64 percent of Americans at large overall who oppose the President`s wall on a more recent poll. It may have something to do with the fact that according to Wall Street Journal, no House or Senate member from the region in either party have expressed support for the White House proposal to fund the wall using this week`s spending bill.
According to President, however, there`s one very important group that does want them to build a wall. He told the Associated Press "my base definitely wants the border wall, my base really wants it. You`ve been to many of the rallies, OK, the thing they want more than anything is the wall." That`s a political argument from building a wall, not substantive one, but the President isn`t wrong. Among republican support for the walls stands at 77 percent and yet, even if he somehow against all odds, managed to deliver on his pledge this week of secure funding for the wall, the President would be breaking another central campaign promise in doing that. That promise being that Mexico and not the American taxpayers would have to pay for it.
The President tweeted yesterday, eventually, but at a later date, so we can get started early, Mexico will be playing in some form for the badly needed border wall. Eventually, at a later date in some form. Of course, Mexico had said in no uncertain terms, repeatedly it will not be paying for the wall. Asked about the President`s campaign promise today, the White House Press Secretary didn`t get any more specific.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn`t Mexico supposed to pay for the wall?
SPICER: Well, I think, Jim, the President has made it clear that initially, we needed to get the funding going and there should be several mechanisms to make sure that that happens. That funding piece will happen in due time.
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HAYES: Will happen in due time. Now with budget deadline approaching rapidly, the Trump administration insists they don`t want to shut down the government and it appears they may already be starting to readjust their demands. Take a listen to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
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REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I`m pretty confident that we`re going to get something that`s satisfactory to the President in regard to border security within the current negotiation --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it may not be the wall -- it may not be the wall itself?
PRIEBUS: It will be -- it will be enough -- it will be enough in the negotiation for us to move forward with either the construction or the planning or enough for us to move forward through the end of September to get going on the border wall and border security.
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HAYES: Having made his very public demands, he and his administration, the President has put himself in impossible position. As New Republics Brian Beutler puts it, he will either provoke a crisis this week or be completely humiliated. Joining me now, Robert Costa, National Political Reporter for the Washington Post and an MSNBC Political Analyst. And Robert, your colleague Philip Rucker tweeting the White House official confirms that Trump opened the door to getting wall funding this fall instead of this week in meeting with conservative journos. I feel like they are already retreating from their own threat.
ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Phil and I were just in the newsroom filing that story for tomorrow`s paper and that we`ve -- we are watching in real time a walk back of sorts from the White House because of the congressional reality. Congressional leaders are telling the White House, there are not enough votes to have some kind of wall funding, an explicit wall funding as part of the spending package this week. So you have the President itself tonight tell a group of reporters at the White House that he`s willing to maybe push back specific wall funds till later in the year.
HAYES: There`s a pattern immerging here. This is reminding me as this is playing out the way the health care bill did was -- did, which is White House made big promises, threats, and ultimatums. We are getting a vote next week on this Friday. I don`t care, you`re going to have to mark the plank. And before you know it, they basically have to concede defeat and retreat with their tail between their legs. They were the ones that initiated this fight that they are now running away from it. It didn`t come from anyone else.
COSTA: I`m told by my sources inside the White House today that there`s a lot of tension in the west wing ahead of the 100 day mark, that the President is pushing his top aides to be able to talk about some kind action on health care, on the border wall, on these big issues that have really stymied the administration. So far, health care is moving glacially through the House right now, could come up for a vote, though a lot of leadership aids are weary of saying they have the votes already. And on the border wall, it`s when the President goes to that big rally on Saturday, White House says they want -- he wants to be able to talk about progress. but Reince Priebus the Chief of Staff has been clear that progress in terms of explicit funding for the wall, is probably might not possible because to keep the government open, you need democratic votes.
HAYES: Well, and it`s funny about that because that Reince -- and Reince talking in that interview was basically saying sub-textually, give us something we can call a victory. That`s all we want. We don`t actually need funding for the wall, we know we`re not going to get it, we know that`s preposterous, just give us something we can call a victory.
COSTA: This is a President who came out of the branding world, the marketing world and for these White House aides, they`re limiting these two realities. When they deal with the President, they know he wants to make a sale to his base that he`s moving forward and getting things done but they know on Capitol Hill, they can only do so much.
HAYES: So, you`re -- you`ve been a great reporter for many years on Capitol Hill and in the House Caucus particularly, and here is my question for you: What does it mean to have these big blustery ultimatums happen and not result in them being seen through in terms of what the President`s word means on Capitol Hill about big legislative initiatives?
COSTA: It hasn`t actually led to a different dynamic. You see a lot of the factions on Capitol Hill telling me that the President, as much as he may say this or that about what he wants to happen, this is the same House, GOP that speaker Boehner dealt and leadership aides have struggled with for over a decade and President Trump in spite of his personality cannot change the factional dynamics of House politics.
HAYES: Do you think ultimately, based on your sources, it sounds like what you`re hearing is, we`re not going to get a shutdown this week and there`s not going to be border wall funding, they`re going to find a way to move around us.
COSTA: Based on my reporting as of right now, there will not be a shutdown because they will come to an agreement on some kind of border security measure that`s not about a wall, but it`s about ICE agents on the border, it`s about technology, funding and if they can`t get that even, Chris, they could have what they call short-term C.R. to keep the government funded for another week as talks continue.
HAYES: All right, Robert Costa, thank you for your time.
COSTA: Thank you.
HAYES: I`m joined now by Maria Teresa Kumar, President CEO of Voto Latino and MSNBC Contributor, Betsy Woodruff, Political Reporter for the Daily Beast. And Betsy, you`ve been doing reporting on this. I saw someone floating an idea that maybe they`ll just be a border blimp which I love the idea of that, that being at the rallies, like who`s going to pay for the blimp? Mexico.
BETSY WOODRUFF, THE DAILY BEAST: It`s a layaway plan, layaway plan, Chris.
HAYES: You know, part of this, Betsy, this is running into reality. I mean, this is -- there`s a theme here of what it means, no one on the border actually supports the things that the President went around the country in places thousands of miles from the border promising people he was going to make of them.
WOODRUFF: Right, exactly. And one thing that struck me when I visited the border about two weeks ago to cover Attorney General Jeff Sessions first trip there was the extent to which people at the border see a lot of build- up, see a lot of increased law enforcement presence there, but don`t necessarily see any corresponding drop in the things that these build-ups were designed to result in the drop off of. For instance, ever since 9/11, we`ve been doing a ton to make the border more secure and what`s happened is many of these cartels that operated Northern Mexico, and in Central America have just become proportionally more stronger. It`s as easy as it`s ever been to get heroin, to get meth to get any number of illegal drugs in the United States despite the fact that we spend a ton of money securing our border. So for folks who live there, the sense is what would the wall do? How is this going to make things better if we`re already doing so much?
HAYES: Well, and Maria, this interesting news. The President makes an argument this way, the wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring in our country poisoning our youth. If the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will never be fixed the way it should be. Now, here`s the own U.S. government`s DEA report on (INAUDIBLE) of drugs to go to Betsy`s point. Mexican transaction, criminal organizations transport the bulk of their drugs over the southwest through ports of entry, using passenger vehicles or tractor trailers which has nothing to do with the wall.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, and I think that the spokesperson (INAUDIBLE) said it best when he said, we don`t -- we actually don`t care what we get out of it, we just basically need to have a headline so that his base is satisfied. That`s basically what he said. So I would say that his -- their idea, this administration`s idea of progress is inch deep. It actually doesn`t matter what it is, as long as they have a headline that they can propose to his -- to his base, to feel like they`re actually moving forward. But this is really serious. Recently Homeland Security Secretary Kelly came on said that they were going -- he was planning on separating children from mothers. The crisis right now that we`re facing at the border is not this idea of drug trafficking, it`s a refugee problem.
KUMAR: It`s mothers and children fleeing for the first time central American, ways that we`ve never seen because normally the people that cross the border, historically have been apt young men looking for construction job, looking for that sort of -- sort of labor. But instead what we`re seeing is a completely different ball game. And until we are clear who we are preventing from crossing, and they are refugee, then we`re not actually having an honest conversation with the American people.
HAYES: Although, that`s the (INAUDIBLE) in response to that, I mean, one of the (INAUDIBLE) changes that`s happening for the Trump administration, I would say only -- the only concrete (INAUDIBLE) verified one is those crossings, women and children crossings have declined significantly since Donald Trump took over because they think they`re not welcome to Trump`s America, which was in some ways part of the point of the President`s campaign, but also that he symbolizes to me that was never -- what we are seeing here, and we saw it with the health care, it was never about health care and it was never about the wall. Those were essentially symbolic promises, and I bet you even if he doesn`t deliver for his base, they don`t care about that either because the wall was, was a finger in the eye of the bad people that looked down on you.
WOODRUFF: Right. And I think what else is important to remember here is the dramatic drop off that we`ve seen and people, including women and children, trying to illegally cross the southern border into the United States is likely to be temporary. When I was down there and I spoke with people who operated a shelter for migrants where they stay the night before trying to enter the U.S. illegally, normally they have 200 people there every night this time of year because the weather is so cool. It`s the best time to make the journey. When I was there, there was hardly anyone, upwards of nine people. But the folks that I talked to said that they expect that to change.
And the reason is because, look, you have to understand why so many women and children are fleeing central America. A Large part of the reason they`re fleeing is that drug cartels that make billions of dollars off of American consumption of opioid -- synthetic opioid and heroin, those cartels use the funds that they -- that ends up in their pockets because of American drug consumers to destabilize southwestern Mexican states to destabilize Guatemala and Honduras and El Salvador and then refugee flee to the United States from those countries and wall isn`t going to make American not want to take heroin.
KUMAR: That`s right. Well, and to Betsy`s point, too, the American government had basically created these vast networks of games that basically they were -- they basically rounded up in Los Angeles, created in Los Angeles jails and prisons and then sent over and exported -- really highly sophisticated network of game problems South America -- Central American governments were never prepared to actually address. So we have had very much a deep fingerprint in this whole notion of the human trafficking that`s happening because we exported a game problem that these governments were not prepared to address in the right way. And as a result, they`ve been overtaken and now families that are fleeing are saying, look, how can you base -- provide us basic shelter because we are - - we are being killed day and night.
HAYES: You know, there`s also the sort of bigger issue to me, Betsy here, is that this wall has played this role for President, immigration has played essential role. And in some ways, the kind of punitive nature for the approach, there is one place where there has been a deliver -- he`s deliver on a promise, right? I mean, he made a promise that I`m going to make life work for this people. It`s going to be harder for them and he has delivered on that promise in the first 100 days.
WOODRUFF: And without a doubt, you can expect him, Sean Spicer, all White House surrogates to talk about that when they`re trying to capture what happened the last 100 days. It`s important to remember the role that the attorney general has played as well. Of course, Sessions has moved for the Justice Department to be more involved than ever in immigration enforcement. He`s directed all the U.S. attorney`s offices to get involved through sort of this immigration takeover of what the Justice Department is doing. That`s playing a major role also, and I think it`s important to focus on the impact that Sessions has had too, in helping Trump keep that campaign promise.
HAYES: And Maria, there`s two promises that the president made as campaign. One was, I`m going to make life tougher for some set of people and make life better for another set. And one of the themes that`s emerging to me is that it`s much easier to keep the first set of promises than the latter set of promises.
KUMAR: That`s exactly right. Because you need government to function on one end where you need Congress to come and compromise with you. On the other end, you basically have your justice -- you know, Department of Justice Secretary going out and saying, (INAUDIBLE) I`m going to target a certain sector of Americans and undocumented folks. And this is something that`s really striking and this should alarm a lot of Americans, the first dreamer was recently deported. He was a 23-year-old young man, who at the time was basically racially profiled by I.C.E. agents and asked for his documents. He had left his documents in the car and they never let him go get them. How many of us have gone out for grocery that maybe forgotten our I.D. that is something that -- that should alarm because it`s not this idea that, we know exactly what an undocumented person looks like. You don`t know. And the fact that you have given agency -- I.C.E. to go over and basically start knocking and asking for anybody`s papers in broad daylight, that`s disturbing.
HAYES: Maria Teresa Kumar, Betsy Woodruff, thank you both.
All right, still to come, Senator Sherrod Brown, the budget stand-off, the coal miners cut in the crosshairs and the President`s massive new tax cut for corporations. Is the President looking out for folks in two minutes?
HAYES: May seem like ages ago, perhaps the most popular thing President Trump did during the Presidential transition was to announce that deal to save jobs at Carrier in Indianapolis even visiting the Carrier plant, shake hands with workers, and push the notion he was as some Trump friendly in intellectuals put it, turning the GOP into a quote, "Workers party." Nearly 100 days of the Trump Presidency, it`s fair to say, that claim hasn`t been born out. Let`s start with Carrier, despite Trump`s highly publicized efforts and a Mike Pence negotiated tax break, the company still cut 600 jobs at its Indianapolis factory. Its parent company now on the process of shutting down the factory in Huntington, Indiana that makes components for Carrier furnaces at a cost of 700 more blue collar job.
As the New York Times reports, 56-year-old Jim Sholle walked out of that plant for the final time last month after 21 years in the job. I`m a routine guy and I`m not boohooing, he said, but I feel used up. Under Trump, GOP`s domestic economic agenda is essentially the same it has been since Ronald Reagan. Friendly to big business and billionaires relentless focused on cutting tax for the rich even at the expense of blue collar workers Trump claims to represent. Trump`s health care plan of course cause millions to lose their health insurance, boost premiums for working class Americans while massively cutting taxes for the wealthy, the tunes of hundreds of billions of dollars. His budget proposal as outlined by his Budget Director Mick Mulvaney cuts huge slice of government programs that working Americans depend on. And despite huge income and equality, Trump has told his staff that in his tax plan, which he said will be unveiled Wednesday, his top priority is to slash the corporate tax rate from 35 percent down to 15 percent.
Now, during the campaign, Trump often talked about the flight of coal miners. He`s maintained his seemingly relentless rhetorical focus on coal miners and less in their needs during the presidency. But there is rhetoric and then there`s reality. As the New York Times reports, unless Congress intervenes by late April, government funded health benefits will abruptly lapse form more than 20,000 retired miners, many with serious health problems. And on that issue, the President has not set a word.
Joining me now, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. And Senator, this to me -- this is a microcosm of the entire Trump phenomenon, right? We`ve seen coal mines celebrated by the President, we`ve seen them invited into the Oval Office, you have a bipartisan deal to preserve health benefits for 20,000 retired miners. Mitch McConnell won`t bring it to the vote, and the President, if I`m not mistaken, hasn`t said word one about.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Yes. Not one word. I was in a -- did a roundtable discussion of coal miners in Steubenville, Ohio on the Ohio River. It`s a steel city in part and very close to coal countries so lots of coal miners kind of do their shopping in Steubenville and all. And they are just perplexed, a number of coal miners voted for candidate Trump. They heard him talk about giving about bringing coal jobs back and they are simply saying government should do what it`s done since the days of Harry Truman.
That is, provide health insurance for coal miners retirees and the widows of coal miners and it doesn`t cost taxpayer money, it`s simple, you take money from the abandoned mine fund and put into this health care and this might -- this expires at the end of April and it`s just -- it`s immoral to talk about tax cuts for Wall Street, cutting the corporate tax from 35 to Secretary Mnuchin says 20, the President is now saying 15 to cut by 40 or 50 or more percent and not take care of the coal miners. And I asked -- I ask your listeners to come on sherrodbrown.com and sign our petition to fight back because we are -- we are really racing hell about this and we`re going to make sure this week that if there`s going to be a continuing resolution, it better have permanent health care for coal miners.
HAYES: You know, I thought about you -- I`ve been thinking about the role you play in this administration for the first three months because on January 25th,it occurred to me there are places that he could essentially put you in a box. You have similar views, I think of NAFTA and its limitations. I think you probably would support an infrastructure bill in some form depending on the bill and the details. Instead of doing -- I mean, were you expecting those were the kind of things you`re going to get from this President and how did you assess it 100 days in?
BROWN: Yes, I don`t -- I don`t -- I don`t see that he`s putting me in a box. I hope he does real infrastructure because I know, partly because of our state legislate to the condition of cities, of streets and roads and bridges, and water and sewer systems really nationally but in many ways more acute in my state. I know what infrastructure means and I know what good trade policy could mean. And I -- two days after the election, I called President`s head of its transition staff and told them I want to work on them -- work with them in renegotiating NAFTA on pulling out of TP and on more aggressive steel trading force.
And I did a round table in Warren, Ohio today in the middle of steel country with steel workers and their -- you know, they`re throwing up their hands too. When is he going to release step up and by America? Why did he flip flop on currency? I mean, I want to work with this fight. I`m going to be against the one 80-90 percent of the things he wants to do in civil rights and voting rights on the environment when raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67, but on trade and infrastructure let`s work together. But it`s all -- you know he --
HAYES: But so, then how do you understand that? How do you understand that? Because I think there was a sense of -- I mean, I saw those workers party headlines. I think, I remember talking to democrats off the record up the Carrier jobs and there were democratic politicians and strategist who look white as a sheep, they were like -- this is scary. This is -- this is popular, what he did, it`s getting huge headlines and there was a worry that that was what was going to be the agenda here. Why do you think it has not panned out that way? What`s your understanding?
BROWN: I guess I would say, it`s a worry. I think there`s plenty of reasons that democrats are going to vote against him and independents on the next election. But I want to see him do some things for this country. And for my state, he can do infrastructure, he can do trade, but the evidence -- the evidence came pretty quickly when the person he puts as Secretary of HHS wants to raise the eligibility age for Medicare. So, a woman working in a diner in Garrard or a woman in Niles working construction, or a man working in manufacturing in Warren, they can`t work until their 67 or 70 years old.
He put so many -- you know, the Capitol looks like an executive retreat for Goldman Sachs. I mean, one thing after another. This President is pursuing the billionaire`s agenda. He has entirely forgotten, he still paying lip service, a little bit to coal country but he`s not doing -- taking care of the mineworkers, a little bit on trade enforcement, a little bit on by America but nothing really substantive yet. I`m still hoping and I`m still waiting and I`m -- my offer is still there to work with the wanted but I want to see something happening in those workers at Warren today wanted to see something happening.
HAYES: So, here`s my -- here`s what I hear from you and you`re someone who is -- got a big target pin in on his back because you`re up in 2018 and you in a state that Donald Trump won fairly handily all things considered. You feel comfortable -- you don`t feel politically imperiled in any way by having to oppose a corporate tax rate cut from 35 to 15 percent. That is not -- that is not something that you`re sweating in terms of talking to your constituents and this agenda.
BROWN: Well, the county I was in today, I kept talking about Warren and Niles and Girard, Ohio, that`s a county that democrats were winning upwards of 60 percent. Trump won that county. But they didn`t vote for a guy that wants to reduce, to cut the corporate tax rate in half. They didn`t vote for somebody that -- to pay for this wall is going to --is going to eliminate Meals on Wheels and the low energy heating assistance for the elderly and the Appalachian Regional Commission. That`s not what they voted for. And they are feeling -- they are probably aren`t feeling betrayed yet but they are -- they are puzzled, they have mixed feelings and they`re beginning to really wonder about is he just going to do the billionaire`s agenda. And so far, the evidence says that`s where this President wants to take the country.
HAYES: All right, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, thanks for your time tonight.
BROWN: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up. The amazing behind the scene details of event that led up to the now infamous legendary notorious Comey letter. New on how the FBI Director`s action help shape an election right after quick break.
HAYES: A blockbuster investigative New York Times piece reveals what lay behind extremely consequential decisions made by FBI Director James Comey and the run-up to the Presidential election. Decisions which hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump. The most shocking decision was the one which led Mr. Comey to inform Congress 11 days before the election that the FBI have learned of e-mails possibly pertinent to the Clinton investigation which have been closed once before.
Now, Comey`s letter to Congress violated longstanding department policy about not commenting on investigations that close to election. New York Times interviewed dozens of sources, among them a former Senior National Security official to the FBI, Michael Steinbach to described the decision- making process this way, I`m quoting here. "In my mind, at the time Clinton is likely to win, it`s pretty apparent, so what happened after the election, in November or December? How do we say to the American public? Hey, we found some things that might be problematic. But we didn`t tell you about it before you voted. The damage to our organization would have been irreparable." Keep that in mind.
Now despite deep divisions within the FBI that whether Comey should send the letter to Congress and despite Trump pushback from the Justice Department, Comey went ahead, guided by the belief that Clinton would win the election and fearful being dragged over the coals by republican Congress, House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz among them, if he did not take extraordinary actions of violation of policy. Meanwhile, a month before July, Trump Foreign Policy Carter Page, a man we have as guest on this show gave a speech in Moscow criticizing American Foreign Policy and later that month, the FBI opened an investigation to possible collusion between members of Mr. Trump`s campaign and Russian operatives. But in hearings before Congress, Come refused to confirm an investigation of people associated with Trump`s campaign.
Grand irony is that Comey is now the man in charge of the single most important investigation of possible Trump campaign collusion. Since the Congressional investigation at the moment appear, well, hopefully lacking. New reporting on the supposedly more effective one of the two, the Senate investigation, ahead.
HAYES: The conventional wisdom about the two Russian investigations in congress has been that the House intel investigation with widely dysfunctional leading ultimately to Chairman Devin Nunes recusal from that investigation. But then on the other side, the Senate investigation was a model of bipartisan cooperation.
The problem, that Senate investigation isn`t really doing anything. New reporting today from Michael Isikoff, the committee has yet to issue a single subpoena for documents, interview any key witnesses or (inaudible) a probe. It also hasn`t requested potentially crucial evidence.
Joining me now, Michael Isikoff, the Yahoo News chief investigative correspondent. I found this piece pretty eye opening because we all watched Mark Warner and Richard Burr stand up there and they were the opposite of what we`ve seen with Schiff and Nunes on the House side, which has been just wildly dysfunctional and publicly dysfunctional and said we`re going to get to the bottom of this.
And then I read your piece and they haven`t done anything.
MICHAEL ISKIKOFF, YAHOO NEWS: Right. Look, maybe we were suppose to be the adults in the room. They were working together, methodically getting to the bottom of this. But when you actually look at what they`ve done and what they haven`t done, it is pretty stunning because they have a limited staff. Until now it`s been three Republican staffers, two Democratic staffers, one of whom is a junior aid who is also going to law school who had been going down, viewing intelligence community documents that went into that January 6 assessment concluding that Vladimir Putin had an influence campaign meddling in the election to help elect Donald Trump.
That`s all well and good, but to the questions that have been raised ever since Donald Trump took office, even before he took office, about whether there was collusion, about whether there was collaboration, about some of the many staffers principles who you`ve talked about and everybody has been talking about -- Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Mike Flynn, none of them not only have been interviewed, the committee hasn`t asked to see their documents.
HAYES: And I want to just read from your piece, because there`s a crucial part of this. This is -- I`m reading your reporting now. "It hasn`t requested potentially crucial evidence such as the emails, memos and phone records of Trump campaign, in part because the chairman, Senator Richard Burr are Republican from North Carolina has so far failed to respond to requests from the panels Democrats to sign letters doing so, the sources said."
Well, look, Senator Warner has tried very hard to keep this a bipartisan investigation. And I understand strategically why you would want to do that. But at some point, this is basic material that you would need for any investigation.
What I`ve been told is people are starting to grumble, you know, among Senate Democrats that Warner has not been aggressive enough in pushing Burr because he doesn`t want to jeopardize that bipartisan investigation.
But what that leaves us -- what that leaves the committee with is no progress, nothing going to the core questions that the public wants answers to. Now, that doesn`t pre-judge what the answers are. We don`t know.
But you can`t answer the questions unless you go the material, unless you go straight to the issues that are central on the public`s mind and to this investigation.
HAYES: And I`ll say that there`s -- NBC News learned there`s two additional staffers, one Democrat, one Republican, who are adding -- being added to the committee, not exclusively assigned to this, but will spend the vast majority of their time on that.
But the broader issue, which you raised here is, here`s the polling, the vast majority of people prefer an independent investigation. Do you want them to investigate by congress: 16 percent, nonpartisan independent commission, 73 percent. This is something that a bunch of people urged. Instead, we`ve got this situation -- and the FBI behind closed doors with James Comey at the head, and lord knows how insulated from politics things are over there.
These two congressional investigations, which it`s very hard not to conclude are being massively over determined in their actions by the partisan politics of the people who chair those committees.
ISIKOFF: I think the great fear here is that these investigations will turn out to be illusions, facades and that the basic investigative steps that you would want to see taken just don`t get taken. You know, there is from the -- look, Devin Nunes himself in that hearing, you know, the now sidelined Devin Nunes said, after Comey said there was an ongoing counterintelligence investigation into this, going back the last July, that there was a big gray cloud hanging over the U.S. government over this.
It would seem in everybody`s interest, regardless of what you think the outcome is going to be, that that cloud ought to be lifted and these questions ought to be answered. And it doesn`t now look like either of these investigations is getting anywhere fast?
HAYES: I -- as a citizen, I would actually just like to know the truth, whichever way it turns out is my general feeling about all of this. Michael Isikoff, thank you.
ISIKOFF: Sure enough.
HAYES: Still ahead, TV ratings over approval ratings, with the latter at historic lows, how President Trump`s continued TV news obsession is impacting his White House. You don`t want to miss that story.
Plus, a problem with the winter White House in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two, starting after the break.
HAYES: Thing One tonight this past weekend, President Trump stayed at the White House and did not fly down to his private golf resort at Mar-a-Lago. That means in the official tally he spent seven weekends at the White House and seven weekends at the golf house.
Now, Trump doesn`t call it the golf house, he prefers another name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Mar-a-Lago, I`ll call it the southern White House, which it actually is. It was originally built as the southern White House, a lot of people don`t know that.
We have the southern White House in Florida.
In Florida, the southern White House.
We`re having a meeting tonight at what we call affectionately the southern White House it seems to be the most convenient location. Everybody always wants to go to the southern White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: But the president, who of course, whose business stands to benefit from people calling it the southern White House, is not the only one pushing his private golf club as an extension of the White House, a government department has been promoting it around the world. The government`s Mar-a-Lago ad is Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: You can say the history of Mar-a-Lago is one of government conservatism. See, the mansion was built in the 1920s by breakfast cereal heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post, before she died in 1973, she willed it to the government for use by presidents.
But neither Presidents Nixon or Carter used the massive Florida estate, yet the government was still footing the $1 million maintenance bill every year.
So, by 1980 they cut loose of the money pit and returned the property to Marjorie Merriweather Post Foundation.
Enter Donald Trump who bought Mar-a-Lago and later opened it as a private luxury resort in 1995. Trump owns it. His kids manage it, meaning President Trump and his family earn a profit when people choose to eat, golf, or become members there.
In fact, the club doubled its initiation fee to $200,000 after Trump was elected president.
Trump has spent half his weekend as president at Mar-a-Lago, but that`s not the only promotion for the president`s private country club, earlier this month, a web site managed by the State Department Share America posted an article about Mar-a-Lago writing, "by visiting this winter White House, Trump is belated fulfilled the dream of Mar-a-Lago`s original owner and designer."
The article was shared by at least two U.S. embassies, the UK and Albania, which touted the, quote, winter White House. Tonight, nearly three weeks after the Mar-a-Lago piece was first posted and following a media fire storm today, the State Department moved the post saying the intention to have been to inform the public about where the president has been hosting world leaders.
HAYES: We know that the president watches a lot of cable news. It`s become common knowledge the president spends hours every morning watching his favorite shows and tweeting about them. And as house majority leader, Kevin McCarthy tells The Washington Post, he watches members of congresses appearances on news shows and then critiques them in person.
Trump will call attention to individual lawmakers and meetings, recalling who said what about him or his policies on TV. According to McCarthy, quote, I`ve watched him in rooms where he goes through person by person. He clearly keeps track.
Trump even pays attention to the visual details. He once complimented our own Rachel Maddow on the way her show`s graphics look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Rachel, I appreciate your charts. You make the most beautiful charts with the ad on top. I love looking at them.
I don`t like my picture that much, but that`s OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It`s really in the weeds of cable news production there.
So it makes sense that Trump had a hard time keeping his story straight when he tried to pretend he doesn`t watch cable news any more. Trump told the AP in an interview on Friday, quote, the one thing I`ve learned to do that I never thought I had the ability to do, I don`t watch CNN any more. AP White House correspondent Julie Pace then called him out saying, quote, you just said you did.
Where? Where? Asked Trump. And Pace replied, "Two minutes ago."
We also know the president is obsessed with how he rates when he goes on TV. He brought up the ratings for his appearances on two Sunday morning shows in the AP saying, quote, you know, Chris Wallace had 9.2 million people, it`s the highest in the history of the show. Dickerson had 5.2 million. It`s the highest for Face the Nation, or as I call it, Deface the Nation. It`s the highest for Deface the Nation since the World Trade Center came down.
We should point out the president did have the numbers quite right. Trump`s interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday had 2.29 million viewers, not 9.2 million viewers. And although Trump`s January 2016 appearance on Face the Nation was that program`s highest rated show since September 16, 2001, it had 4.6 million viewers not 5.2.
Now, it is true that Donald Trump is genuinely transcendently gifted at attracting attention and ratings, but he`s also incredibly unpopular. And we have some new numbers on that front, next.
HAYES: Donald Trump is still facing record low approval ratings as he approaches the 100th day of his presidency. New data from the Washington Post and ABC News show Trump`s approval rating at at 42 percent with 53 percent disapproving, the lowest numbers at this point in a president`s term since Dwight Eisenhower. And the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll just released tonight had just 39 percent viewing Trump favorably while 50 percent view him negatively.
He`s the least popular president in modern times. But Trump`s base seems to be sticking with him. Washington Post, ABC News poll found that 96 percent of people who voted for Trump last year still think supporting him was the right thing to do.
Joining me now Ben Howe, contributing editor for Red State, Jason Johnson, politics editor at The Root, politics journalism professor at Morgan State University.
And Ben, I want to start with you. I think people are mis-perceiving how to think about this benchmark and popularity. To me, it`s not surprising that people voted for someone six months ago still say they would have voted for him after 100 days. And it also strikes me that actually for all the tumult, it`s actually been fairly stable. He has been stably unpopular in a sort of predictable way since the day he took the oath of office basically.
BEN HOWE, RED STATE: It`s definitely not surprising that they would still have a lot of support for him, especially because they can easily take the -- give them a chance mentality, which they do often. So, a lot of things that he`s promised that he was going to do he hasn`t done yet or remain undetermined they can still say well he`s going to get to those things.
And what`s interesting is they still attribute things he hasn`t done yet, you know, all he has to do is say he`s going to and they still call that a huge success.
So, you know, the real -- where the rubber is going to meet the road is going to be when he fails to do something like he did with health care, which I still think could bite him a lot more than it has.
HAYES: You know -- but Jason, health care is a great example, because to me health care was the most important moment in these first hundred days, because it`s the first place where the polling aggregate of his approval rating really started to go down. It broke below that kind of -- the floor. And I think, Jason, failing to do that bill helped him. I think passing that thing, which would have ensured a longer health care fight with an unpopular bill was actually probably the best thing for the president`s popularity he could have done.
JASON JOHNSON, MORGAN STATE: Yeah, Chris, I completely agreement. I mean, success would have meant putting 23 million people off health care. Hooray.
HAYES: Well, and also months and months of extended fights about the nature of the legislation in the senate.
JOHNSON: Exactly. Exactly. Like, there are 20 different ways that Donald Trump`s own failures actually end up benefiting him amongst his own supporters.
And I`ll also say this, I think part of the reason that we`ve seen the strength that these people still like him and support him is because people who are hardcore supports of Donald Trump they love that he irritates the left. And after eight years of President Obama they`re like, hey, as long as the liberals are mad at this guy, I feel like he`s got to be doing the right thing.
HAYES: Which -- right, which is why I think -- I do think a lot of that affection is symbolic. And I think that -- here`s my theory, Ben. I think the symbolic affection is facilitated by the fact that actually in a macro sense while there are huge parts of America that are really in pain and hurting, the general macro picture of the economy is fairly good. And there`s not some pressing economic crisis.
I wonder what -- how important you think that is fundamentally to that core of support.
HOWE: Well, you know, I think that you`re hitting on really the same thing that happened in the campaign is going to continue going forward, which is they want revenge against the left. They want to beat up on the left. They want to know -- all through the primaries I kept saying to people we need to stop just being happy that he`s punching the establishment in the face, we need to be thinking about who`s doing punching here. He wasn`t somebody that I thought we should be lauding as our, you know, standard bearer.
And I think going forward it`s the same thing. As long as he keeps being this tough guy and pretending that he`s draining the swamp and taking on the establishment, no matter how much he`s actually completely in bed with the establishment. And working with them non-stop to work against the very interests of these people that voted for him, then he`s going to maintain the attention of those same people. HAYES: Now, here`s the flip side of that, and I think this also has gotten lost, people are looking at these polls at the hundred days and say, well, if people change their mind and had things moved around, intensity matters a huge amount, Jason.
And so to the extent that sort of punching left in the face, punching Democrats in the face, is part of what his base wants, the people who are being punched in the face react to that as well.
Here`s the turnout in Georgia 6th, that special election a Democrat almost won in a Republican district, that diagnal line is how you would expect turnout of various constituencies, Democrats and Republican, Democrats turned out at much higher than expected rates. That`s an intensity effect you`re seeing. And that to me is the key thing to keep your eye on right now in politics, more than whether Trump voters are abandoning him, more than whether -- where his approval ratings really going, what south of 40 percent. It`s that intensity, whether that`s maintained.
JOHNSON: Yeah, Chris, look we`ve seen this in Delaware. You`ve seen it in Connecticut`s special election. You`ve seen it in -- look, if voting for the dog catcher becomes a symbolic way of attacking Donald Trump that is something that the Republicans have to worry about.
Look, I used to live in the Georgia 6th area and the turnout -- if you talk to local activists down there, they were hoping -- they were hoping Ossoff got like 42 percent, the guy got 48. He`s probably going to win that race.
Donald Trump has awakened a monster. You`ve got former Bernie people and Hillary people working together for once -- for first time in 18 months. He has activated a resistance that is actually having electoral consequences. And that`s one thing that I don`t think his supporters fully anticipated.
HOWE: I would be a little cautious. I was part of the Tea Party movement back in 2009. And we all got behind Scott Brown. And if you`ve got -- there was a special election, same kind of situation was happening where we looked at it as a bellwhether for what was going to happen going forward. And then the movement kind of got away from us because we weren`t as worried about who we were electing and it enraged this base of Tea Party people who ended up nominating Donald Trump. So, I would just be a little cautious about worrying only about the enthusiasm. Be very, very cautious about who is helping to lead that movement.
HAYES: Well, and that to me is sort of the big question here, right. I mean, the degree I think that fundamentally, the president`s approach to this job, which Josh Barro highlighted from his art of the deal -- I think it was Art of the Deal, one of his memoirs where it was just like look busy. He tells the story about how he brings in a bunch of dump trucks when he`s got someone visiting a building site to literally just move dirt around to look busy, like that is his approach. And the fundamental question is, Jason, does it matter in the end what happens to people`s lives?
JOHNSON: It`s not going to matter anytime soon like none of this is going to matter until sometime in the summer of 2018 when at some point even the people who are supporting him are like, yeah, so I was expecting something to show up eventually.
And that`s why I think right now -- look, the Democrats can do their JayZ, R. Kelly best of both worlds tour and run around and try and rally people together, but really what`s it`s going to boil down to is can people demonstrate by July of 2018 can someone say, look, this is what I did for you or this is what I didn`t do for you.
And Donald Trump, he can tweet and complain and jump up and down all he wants, if he can`t show policy or if the economy dips, or if we`re in some war that heaven forbid no one wants to be in, it`s going to hurt him in 2018.
HAYES: Crises define presidencies, and 100 days in there hasn`t been a real one yet. Keep your eyes posted for that.
Ben Howe, Jason Johnson, thanks for joining me.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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