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All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 5/3/2017

Guests: Steve Rattner; Cory Booker, Adam Schiff, Bill de Blasio, Ali Soufan, Naveed Jamali

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HARDBALL HOST:  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 OF AMERICA:  The plan gets better and better and better.

HAYES:  New momentum for Trumpcare as the White House presents the alternative facts on pre-existing conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why change pre-existing conditions?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  We`re not.  No, no, we`re strengthening.

HAYES:  Tonight, will the hard sell work?

BILLY LONG, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM MISSOURI:  The President said, Billy, we really need you.  We need you, man.

HAYES:  And what the latest Rube Goldberg version of Trumpcare would do to the sickest Americans.

Then -

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR:  It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election.

HAYES:  The FBI Director makes his case.

COMEY:  Tell me what you would do.

HAYES:  Tonight, Congressman Adam Schiff on Comey`s defiance and why he has serious questions about Comey`s ability to investigate the President`s ties to Russia, when ALL IN starts right now.


Good evening from New York.  I`m Chris Hayes.  We begin with breaking news tonight, big news.  The House will vote tomorrow on their bill to overhaul the nation`s health care system.  Republican leaders saying they now have the votes necessary for passage.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We have Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.  Going for tomorrow, we`re going forward tomorrow?  Yes, we are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you have the votes?



HAYESS:  The vote is set to come even though the text of the latest of the latest amendment has only just now been released.  The bill crucially has not been scored or evaluated or modeled by the Congressional Budget Office, which means nobody knows how much it would cost or how many people will be covered.  The vote will take place after the GOP and the Trump administration spent the day selling the bill to the American people by insisting, despite copious evidence to the contrary, that it will not get protections for people with pre-existing conditions.


SPICER:  The president has made it very clear that pre-existing conditions are covered in the bill under every scenario.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So anybody who has a pre-existing condition under Trumpcare, they`re going to be fine?



HAYES:  Well, no, not according to pretty much every single stakeholder honestly.  The march of dimes, the American Medical Association, the AARP, the list goes on and on and on.  And to get the bill across the finish line, House Republicans added an amendment today that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer compared to, quote, "administering cough medicine to someone with stage 4 cancer."  This is now essentially the third version of the bill.  The failed first version which was scored by the CBO, was expected to strip coverage from 24 million people, cut Medicaid by $839 billion, raise premiums for millions and give a massive tax cut to the wealthiest 2 percent of households.  It doesn`t appear that any  of that part of the bill has changed.  Instead, the second version of the bill allowed states to opt out of protections for people with pre-existing conditions as well as the ObamaCare standards known as Essential Health Benefits which include coverage for things like emergency room trips, pregnancy care, lab tests and prescription drugs.  Those changes, however, alienated some moderate republicans, which then led to the version of the bill that apparently they`ll be voting on.  It keeps all those provisions but also adds $8 billion in additional funds over five years to supplement the insurance of people with pre-existing health problems.  Now, that money, a relatively small sum in the context to the overall health care market, would help fund what are called high-risk pools, essentially a kind of separate insurance market for sick individuals.  But high risk pools have a history of failure.  They`re enormously expensive.  In addition, as Senator Ron Wyden points out, that change to the bill effectively encourages insurance companies to charge sick people with high premiums because they`ll be bailed out with taxpayer dollars.  Despite all that, republicans now believe they have the votes for passage thanks in part to two republicans who had been opposed today switching their vote.


LONG:  The president said, Billy, we really need you.  We need you, man.  I said, you don`t have me.  He said really need you.  We went through that for 20 minutes.  He called back yesterday.  We need you, we need you, we need you.  I said, I`m a no.  And I stayed a no, and I said Fred Upton and I have been working on some language that if we could get in there, it would get us both in the position where we need to be on pre-existing conditions, to make sure those people are covered because they need to be covered.  I`m happy to announce that the people in the seventh district of Missouri will have pre-existing conditions covered adequately with this addition that we just talked the President into.


HAYES:  All right.  NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent Mike Viqueira joins me now.  Mike, your sense of the lay of the land at this moment?

MIKE VIQUEIRA, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT:  Well, it is the old- fashioned way, Chris.  They were getting absolutely nowhere when Fred Upton, the former Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, that`s the committee that put out how many versions of repealing ObamaCare back when President Obama was still the president.  When he jumped ship, they knew they were in problems.  So, again, they`ve done it the old-fashioned way, a series of closed-door meetings on Capitol Hill.  Mike Pence, the vice president, has been here for three consecutive days.  I`m standing in statuary hall in the House of Representatives.  Was down stairs in his first floor office, a parade of undecided and NO members in through the office coming out not talking to reporters.  The arm-twisting, the cajoling, the pressuring has gone on.  You saw those two members Billy House and Fred Upton going, marching down to the White House and walking out with that $8 billion commitment.  Now, despite all of that and despite Kevin McCarthy telling me and other reporters just a few minutes ago, after he emerged from a GOP leadership meeting behind me in the speakers` suite of offices here in the Capitol, that they did have the votes to go forward.  It`s still going to be touch and go along the way tomorrow.  Not clear at all they have any kind of margin to play with, but they`re going to go for it nonetheless.  Part of the political dynamic here, Chris, is that it`s hard to persuade a lot of these members in these marginal districts and some districts that aren`t so marginal and yet like Billy House, have problems with the pre-existing condition provision in this bill, to move forward and walk the political plank when they know it`s going to go over to the senate.  And if the senate gets around to taking it up at all, it`s going to be changed dramatically before it comes back to the House of Representatives.  Nevertheless, those moderate republicans who vote for this -and incidentally obviously as you know, in the face of unified democratic opposition here in the House, no one`s going to vote for it on the democratic side.  But those moderates who do vote for it are going to have to be held responsible for that or will likely be held responsible for that and have to answer for that in the 2018 midterm election.  So a dicey political situation here to say nothing of the unknowns.  You talked about it already.  The lack of a Congressional Budget Office score, which would seemingly fly in the face of the conservative mantra over the course of the last several years to know what they were voting for well in advance and, principally, to know how much it costs.

HAYES:  All right, Mike Viqueira, thank you for joining me.  Joining me now, Steve Rattner, former Head of President Obama`s Auto Task Force, someone who writes a lot about Washington and budgets and things like that.  Let`s start on that process issue Mike raised.  I mean, they do not know what this bill will do in the most essential and fundamental ways.  What do you think of them voting on it?

STEVE RATTNER, OBAMA`S AUTO TASK FORCE FORMER HEAD:  Well, it`s obviously a terrible process.  What we do know it that, as you pointed out, the original bill scored as 24 million people losing insurance and so on and so forth.  And this - and then they move - the second bill moved to the right, it would have cost more people their health insurance.  This moves back a tiny bit.  So we know it`s worse than the first bill.  That much we know.

HAYES:  So, you think that number, about 24 million, there`s no way that doesn`t come out higher?

RATTNER:  It has to be higher by definition almost.  It depends what you define as health insurance of course.  They will define very skinny plans as health insurance.  But if you define them as ObamaCare type of plans, you know a lot more people will lose health insurance.

HAYES:  Now, well, Billy Long was saying that we got that protection for people with pre-existing conditions.  Sean Spicer telling Jim Acosta today they`ll be fine.  You shook your head sitting here both times.  Why?

RATTNER:  Because they`re walking this very, very fine line.  The fact is the bill does require insurance companies to offer people with pre-existing conditions insurance.  But the new bill says that they can then charge whatever it takes to cover those people.  And so, if you have very serious cancer by one estimate, you could literally be paying $140,000 for health insurance.  (INAUDIBLE) extra $400,000 for health insurance.

HAYES:  $140,000?

RATTNER:  If you have very serious cancer.  If you`re pregnant, I think it`s something like $20,000 extra for health insurance.  So, it`s - you know, they`re not technically lying, but it`s all but a lie.

HAYES:  Well, but, so then the question becomes - OK, so remember the bill that moved in that way, right?  The House Freedom Caucus was very focused on the core regulatory constraints on health plans, that they wanted the states to be able to waive out of.  They got that.  The moderates then said, well, now you`re gutting pre-existing conditions.  We respond with $8 billion over five years to what?

RATTNER:  Well, some people estimate the total cost of covering these high- risk people is something like $330 billion over ten years.  So giving $8 billion over five years and who knows what after that is obviously very small potatoes.  Now, in fairness, there`s $130 billion in the plan now for things like this.

HAYES:  Right.

RATTNER:  So they`re about $190 billion short.  Let`s put it that way.

HAYES:  More or less.  Just $190 billion.

RATTNER:  More or less, more or less.

HAYES:  There`s also that - you know, part of the issue here, these high- risk pools which essentially is what they`re talking about, right?  So the idea is you`re not in the same risk pool with everyone else.  You have diabetes, you have cancer, you have a pre-existing condition, you go into this separate pool.  This is a model that`s been tried from a policy standpoint numerous times.

RATNNER:  This is - this is why we got ObamaCare frankly was because we had this in 30 or 35 states before 2010 and it didn`t work.  There was never enough money.  People even with very serious illnesses often still couldn`t get insurance so they had to wait, pay out of their own pocket for six months or a year before they got it.  And the reason we got the Affordable Care Act was everybody said this doesn`t work.  And now we`re going back to it.

HAYES:  Now, one of the - you`ve been writing a bit about taxes, and one of the things that I forget which member said it.  But someone said - expressed frustration the first time the ACA died because it meant that the tax cuts in the tax reform plan age going to be less because there`s about a trillion dollars of tax cuts in this plan.

RATTNER:  Yes.  Again, this is money - you can shuffle money around.  What they were basically talking about was that if you didn`t repeal the ACA taxes now, then you`d have to use some of the money you might want to use for other tax cuts to repeal the ACA taxes or some of them anyway later.  That`s what they`re - that`s what they`re talking about.

HAYES:  But when you look at the balance sheet of this bill and the CBO score of the first one, right, I mean, you`re basically reducing federal expenditures on health insurance by about a trillion dollars in the budget window, and you`re cutting taxes by about a trillion dollars.  I mean, that - the sort of the prime dollar for dollar budgetary impact of this.

RATTNER:  Yes.  The bill originally scored positive by a few hundred million dollars, but it`s basically the math you said.  But that trillion dollars of tax cuts that was offset by the trillion dollars of spending cuts, they want to make those tax cuts sooner or later.  And as I said, if they don`t make them as part of health care repeal, then it`s other tax cuts they can`t do later.  That`s why they`re so focused on doing this.

HAYES:  Do you think this bill, if it became law, would make health care in America better?

RATTNER:  Is that a loaded question?  No.  I think obviously -

HAYES:  The final -

RATTNER:  Look, obviously it wouldn`t.  Obviously it wouldn`t.  The conundrum in all seriousness that we face is that it`s a question ObamaCare set minimum standards, but that also meant that health insurance got more expensive for a lot of people.

HAYES:  That`s right.

RATTNER:  And so, you have to say to yourself, would you rather have less expensive health insurance with less coverage, more expensive health insurance with subsidies and more coverage.  And obviously the ACA comes out on one side of that.  The republicans are trying to get to the other side of that.

HAYES:  All right.  Steve Rattner, thanks for joining me. 

RATNNER:  Thanks for having me.

HAYES:  I`m joined by Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Chief Deputy Whips of the Senate Democratic Caucus.  Are you surprised they`re going to vote on this tomorrow?

CORY BOOKER, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY: I`m actually very surprised.  After the incredible outpouring of Americans that really shut a lot of folks down, this bill isn`t better.  This actually moved this bill to the right.  A lot of these folks who are signing onto this now, I don`t - I don`t see how they don`t understand that this craven bill is going to hurt many, many more Americans.  And frankly, in my opinion, it`s going to caught - should this ever pass, and that`s another issue, both Houses, the folks who are voting for this will pay for this at the polls.  I don`t understand what they`re doing.  They didn`t try to come to the middle.  They didn`t try to reach out to democrats.  They didn`t try to build a bipartisan coalition.  They moved this further to the right and are pushing this now through.  So I`m surprised at the outcome.

HAYES:  Do you - this is - I honestly don`t know the answer to this question.  Do you talk to like New Jersey members of the House on stuff like this?  I mean you must work together on stuff like Medicaid and there`s certain things you`ve got to deliver for your state as a whole.  Do you have those conversations about what this would mean for New Jersey for instance?

BOOKER:  Yes.  I was actually very moved that a lot of New Jersey Congress people, republicans, turned against the last bill.  I don`t know how they`re shaping up for this one.  But that was a result of thousands of New Jerseyans marching in front of people`s offices, demanding meetings, taking busting down here to Washington, not focused on the democrats but focused on a lot of the republicans.  So to see them having switched their votes and announced they weren`t going to vote for it, I`m praying for their sake that they`re not in favor of what is a more extreme bill that`s going to hurt many, many more people in our country.

HAYES:  I have seen expressed from some quarters, democratic strategists, members of Congress off the record saying, this is such bad politics.  Sure, go ahead.  Let them pass it out of the House.  It`s not going to go anywhere in the Senate.  What do you think about that?

BOOKER:  Look, this - we cannot be playing politics with people`s health care or with people`s sense of security.  I live in a low-income community.  It`s where I`ve lived for the last 20 years.  And it`s moments like this that make people afraid.  People who, since ObamaCare, suddenly can afford prescription drugs, suddenly can get their mental health care.  I live right across the street from a drug treatment center.  Our efforts against the opioid crisis, tha ACA put more money in it.  Let`s stop playing politics and get to a point in our country where people begin to understand that for a thriving nation, health care has got to be a right.  It`s got to be something that everyone has access to and not just fiscally because by the way, it makes incredible economic sense to do things like the Affordable Care Act did, access to preventive care, prenatal care.  All that makes sense because those investments pay off in terms of the productivity of our citizenry, but just for the moral urgency of this moment, the craven bill that I see coming to vote tomorrow is just cruel and just wrong to tens of millions of American, republicans, democrats, independents, people who deserve more from a nation this wealthy, this rich.  They deserve better.  So screw the politics.  This is about people.  This is about what`s morally right.  This is about what we stand for.  And this is a President who has lied to people, folks in red states, red counties who passionately want to keep their health care, who were promised better health care, more access, something better than the Affordable Care Act.  Well, this is clearly not just worse.  It`s a death knell.  I don`t mean to be melodramatic about this.  But I`ve seen this when people have to wait to get their health care to the emergency room.  This will cost American lives if it ever becomes law.  This will - this will mean death, pain, and suffering to people`s families.  So I`m not interested in the politics.  This is something that my colleagues, people I respect across the aisle, they just can`t support.  For God`s sake, for the sake of our country and what they stand for, they cannot pass this piece of legislation.

HAYES:  All right.  Senator Cory Booker, thank you for joining me.

BOOKER:  Thank you.

HAYES:  An intense scene in the Senate today.  James Comey defiantly defending his decision to inject himself and the FBI into the election.  Next, Congressman Adam Schiff on whether or not he trusts Comey to investigate the Trump campaign`s ties to Russia right after this two-minute break.



COMEY:  Look, this was terrible.  It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election.  But honestly it wouldn`t change the decision.  Everybody who disagrees with me has to come back to October 28thwith me and stare at this and tell me what you would do.  Would you speak, or would you conceal?


HAYES:  A day after Hillary Clinton blamed him in part for her 2016 loss, FBI Director James Comey defended his decision 11 days before the election to disclose newly discovered Clinton e-mails.  It was Comey`s first public testimony on Capitol Hill since revealing that the FBI has been investigating potential links between the Trump campaign and Russian election sabotage efforts since last summer.  An investigation unlike the Clinton probe that the FBI opted not to make public before the election.  Comey maintained today that both investigations have been treated equally.


COMEY:  With respect to the Russian investigation, we treated it like we did with the Clinton investigation.  We didn`t say a word about it until months into it, and then the only thing we`ve confirmed so far about this is same thing with the Clinton investigation.  That we are investigating.  And I would expect we`re not going to say another peep about it until we`re done.


HAYES:  On the eve of Comey`s testimony in what seemed to be a response to Clinton`s comments yesterday, the President of the United States took a swipe at the FBI Director, appearing to question the integrity of the official who is at this moment overseeing a probe into the President`s campaign.  Quote, "FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that, he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds."  The White House has asked today whether the President stands by his FBI Director.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is the President comfortable having an FBI Director that gives out free passes served during his administration?

SPICER:  The President has confidence in the director, but I think clearly his point was after some of the comments that were made yesterday regarding the reason for the outcome of the election, I think he wanted to make it clear what exactly happened.


HAYES:  Director Comey will be back on Capitol Hill tomorrow, this time for a closed-door hearing with the House Intelligence Committee.  I asked the ranking member of that committee, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff if he thought it was appropriate for the President to tweet about the FBI Director while his own campaign is under investigation.


ADAM SCHIFF, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN FROM CALIFORNIA:  Well, there`s little I find appropriate about the President`s tweets, but I guess what I find most disturbing this week is beyond that particular one, his continued reluctance to acknowledge even that Russia was the party - was the nation involved in hacking our election.  He again over the weekend suggested, well, it could have been China.  And, again refused to back off this accusation he`s made against Barack Obama that Barack Obama illegally wiretapped him.  So that is, I think, for me the most disturbing thing at least in the last few days on this subject.

HAYES:  Yes.  There did seem to be some backsliding in that interview with John Dickerson reluctantly.  It appeared he`d come to the conclusion to accept the intelligence community`s assessment of this.  Do you think he`s changed his mind, or do you think this is just how he`s going to be about this set of facts?

SCHIFF:  I think this is just how the President is going to be.  I think he has a very difficult time accepting the fact that he had outside assistance in the form of Russian intervention in the election.  But then by the same token, he has a hard time accepting the fact that he lost the popular vote and has to invent the idea of millions of undocumented immigrants voting as the only reason why that could have been possible.  So there`s a lot of denial going on, but, you know, when it takes place in the highest office of the land, it`s a very deep concern.

HAYES:  My understanding is that Director Comey actually comes before your committee in a closed session tomorrow, and obviously you can`t speak about that session.  But given what he talked about today, the question that kept going through my mind is to what extent you and others on the hill can be confident that the integrity and independence of the FBI can be defended and protected while it undertakes this investigation.

SCHIFF:  Well, I have to say, I could not find agreement with Director Comey`s testimony today and the distinction which I found very artificial, he tried to draw between his willingness to talk about the Clinton investigation and his unwillingness to talk about the Trump investigation.  And merely the way he framed it, as if the issue was really to speak or to conceal, using a loaded term like "to conceal" I think reflected the weakness of his argument.  In fact, the real question was would he abide by the Department of Justice policy not to talk about an investigation in the days or weeks leading up to an election.  He ignored that policy, I think very much to the bureau`s detriment.  In fact, I found it interesting that the distinction he tried to draw today that one investigation was in the early stages, the other was later on, that he didn`t disclose the Clinton investigation until it had been going on for three months.  Well, in October of last year, the Trump investigation, by his own accounting, had also been going on for three months.  So that is another distinction without a difference.

HAYES:  So then what`s your - I mean it seems like democrats are on the hook here a bit.  I`ve seen a lot of folks in your position express frustration with what Director Comey has articulated.  They think he made the wrong decision.  At the same time, this is the individual who now oversees the most potent investigation into the possible getting to the bottom of the possibility of collusion or what happened.  I mean, do you have confidence in Director Comey?  Should he stay in the job?  Do you trust him to do this?

SCHIFF:  Well, you know, look, I think obviously the central important fact right now is the ongoing investigation and the fact it needs to be done well not only by the Congress but by the FBI as well.  But I don`t think that relieves us of the obligation to hold the Department and hold the Bureau accountable for the decisions it`s made.  I think the decision last year was the exercise of very poor judgment by the Director that has politicized, that has dragged the bureau into the political process in a way that`s going to be difficult to repair.  Nonetheless, we`re going to do everything possible to work in coordination with the FBI.  We need them to conduct their investigation thoroughly.  We want to make sure we`re not stepping on their investigation.  We also need to do our own, and we`ll need the FBI`s cooperation and their support as well.  They have a global reach that we don`t have in the Committee.  So of necessity, we need to find a way to work together.  I think it`s in the interest certainly of the bureau to try to restore a reputation for impartiality.  But it`s also vital to getting to the bottom of just how the Russians interfered in our democracy.

HAYES:  I do want to repeat the question though because respectfully that wasn`t an answer.  Do you have confidence in Director Comey, and do you trust him and trust his judgment to undertake this investigation?

SCHIFF:  Well, you know, my answer as you can gather is I have serious questions about the judgment he exercised last year.  I have to hope that he`s going to do better with this investigation.  As long as he is in that post and the President has made the decision to keep him in that post, I`m going to do everything certainly to support the bureau in its work and make sure that for my part in the Congressional investigation, we are working in concert with what the bureau is doing, not at odds with each other.  But I - you know, I do think there are substantial questions that were raised about his handling of these investigations last year, and I have to hope that he`s going to do a better job in the future.

HAYES:  Finally and quickly, are you confident we will ultimately get to the bottom of all this?  We will know definitively what happened, who made it happen, who may or may not have worked with whom?

SCHIFF:  We`re certainly going to do the very best possible to find out exactly the answers to those questions.  You know, I can`t say at this point that we`re not going to run into roadblocks.  We`ve run into a few up till now.  I do think that our investigation in the House is now fully back on track.  I have a very good working relationship with Mike Conaway.  I think we`re coordinating our efforts, doing it in a very non-partisan way as we should.  Some things are going to be very difficult for us to ascertain even under the best of circumstances because we`re dealing with a hostile power in Russia.  We`re dealing with witnesses who may not want to be forthcoming with us, with documents that are going to be hard to obtain.  But we are going to do our level best to get to the bottom of this and have to hope that the bureau will do exactly the same.

HAYE:  Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you for your time.

SCHIFF:  Thanks, Chris.

HAYES:  There were more visual aids in the Spicer briefing today as the Trump White House continues to try and declare victory in the budget battle, ahead.


HAYES:  Some insight into just what the Department of Justice looks like under Attorney General Jeff Sessions.


COREY AMUNDSON, BATON ROUGE ACTING UNITED STATES ATTORNEY:  After an exhaustive almost year-long investigation, all of the prosecutors and agents involved in this case have come to the conclusion that insufficient evidence exists to charge either officer with a federal crime in connection with this incident.


HAYES:  The justice Department today confirmed it will not be charging two white police officers in the death of Alton Sterling.  The 37-year-old was tackled outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, pinned to the ground, and shot multiple times.  His death, caught on cell phone camera, sparked protests across the country.  Today the Justice Department says they do not have enough evidence to charge those officers.  But you know who federal prosecutors did have enough evidence to charge?  61-year-old Desiree FaIruz, a code pink activist who attended Jeff Sessions confirmation hearing and laughed when Senator Richard Shelby said Sessions` record of treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well documented.  Today a jury convicted her of disorderly and disruptive conduct.  She now faces up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine.

Coming up, for the first time in 105 days, Donald Trump is returning to his hometown.  Last time he was here, it cost New York City $24 million and he wasn`t even President yet.  What happens when he shows up tomorrow?  Mayor Bill de Blasio joins me on that next.


HAYES:  When it comes to shouldering the extraordinary costs associated with protecting the president and his family, New York has paid dearly.  According to the city`s police commission, the police department had spent $300,000 a day protecting Trump Tower between election day and  inauguration day, and between $127,000 and $145,000 since then on top of other costs.

As mayor Bill de Blasio told me, that adds up to millions of taxpayer dollars.


BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY:  Well, Chris, for the period just from the election to the inauguration was about $24 million.  And then in the period since the inauguration when President Trump has actually been in Washington, you`re talking in some cases up to $150,000 a day.

So it`s been a real expense protecting Trump Tower.  I mean, that`s different than when a president comes to town for a day or something, but the ongoing expense is protecting Trump Tower, that`s been a real burden on the NYPD.

HAYES:  You`ve gotten money in the continuing resolution, I think, via Senator Chuck Schumer who put that in for you and other municipalities like West Palm Beach.  Basically, does that square the balance sheet for the city?

DE BLASIO:  Chris, it gives us a substantially whole up to the inauguration and it gives us a good amount for the period going forward, but this is something that we`ll have to come back to in the future to deepen and renew, and the same with Florida, the same with New Jersey.

It`s a good start.  I want to be clear.  I want to thank Senator Schumer and Congressman Louie (ph) others who made this happen.

It`s a good, strong start, but it`s something we`ll have to keep attending to.

HAYES:  Well, last time that you and I talked, the president had issued an executive order about so-called sanctuary cities, New York City being one of them.  That order has now been stopped, ordered stayed in court.  Jeff Sessions quite angry about that, disparaging the judges that issued those rulings.

What is your position about that order?

DE BLASIO:  We believe the original executive order on sanctuary cities was -- first of all, it  wasn`t what it was said to be.  It was supposed to be something, quote, unquote, to enhance safety.  It has nothing to do with enhancing safety, it`s all about demonizing immigrants.  We have a situation here in the safest big city in America where we have a million people, Chris, who are either undocumented or green card holders who have been part of making us safe.  And the NYPD has a cooperative relationship with immigrant communities. 

My position is that executive order was contradictory in terms of its substance and contradictory in terms of its legal basis.  This court case you mentioned the other day approved immediately that the foundation of the executive order was specious, and we`ve said all along if they try to actually  implement it, we`ll go to court immediately, and we believe we`ll prevail.

HAYES:  Have you had any contact with the attorney general of the United States since the Department of Justice referred to New York City as essentially soft on crime?

DE BLASIO:  You`re exactly right.  In writing, the Department of Justice said that New York City is soft on crime, and my message to Jeff Sessions was that was an insult not only to New York City but to the men and women of the NYPD, and he should come here and say that to their faces.

This is a city that has driven down crime very successfully for decades.  In the last three years I`ve been mayor, crime has gone down three years in a row, and that`s with our cooperative relationship with the immigrant communities, with the 93 percent decline in stop and frisk.  That was a total insult to this city and our police.  I`ve not talked to Jeff Sessions about it.

Look, it`s an attempt at political provocation.  A lot of what Jeff Sessions is doing is fundamentally politics and symbolism.  It has nothing to do with public safety.  He`s supposed to be the chief law enforcement officer in this country.  How do you denigrate the number one police force in the United States if you`re supposed to be the chief law enforcement officer.

HAYES:  We`re getting word there is going to be a vote, perhaps and probably, but there will be a vote tomorrow in the house on the newest version of the house GOP health care bill.  What would be the effects for the city in concrete terms were this to become law?

DE BLASIO:  A million New Yorkers would stand to lose their health insurance.

HAYES:  What a second, a million people in the city?

DE BLASIO:  A million of the 8.5 million people in this city would stand to lose their health insurance if this bill became law because the Affordable Care Act reached so many New Yorkers who didn`t have insurance.  Now a million of them would be in jeopardy under this specific language of losing their insurance.  24 million people nationally.

Chris, it would also have a horrible impact on our public hospitals, which are already in tough shape financially but depend on insurance money to keep going.  A huge number of the folks who go to those emergency rooms go to take up those hospital beds won`t have insurance anymore.  That would fall on the taxpayers of New York City to pay a huge number of domino effects.

And look, the national perspective, the fact that you`d have preexisting conditions no longer covered, I think that`s atime bomb ticking both in terms of the health of this country, but also politically for Donald Trump.  That`s going to be a very, very hard thing for him to explain why that guarantee that President Obama created will now no longer be available to Americans.

HAYES:  All right, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, thanks for joining us.

DE BLASIO:  You`re welcome, Chris.


HAYES:  Coming up, FBI Director James Comey`s own words on why he decided to send that now infamous letter.  And if he had the chance to do it over, would he make the same decision.  That ahead.

Plus, when a fence becomes a wall.  That`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two after the break.


HAYES:  Thing One tonight, the House passed the spending bill that funds the government through September today.  Senate expecting to vote tomorrow.

While that budget deal specifically prevents funding from being used to build Trump`s wall, yesterday White House budget director Mick Mulvaney still tried to declare victory, citing for instance money for fencing upgrades along the border.

As we noted last night, the fence photo Mulvaney used is actually from January, three months ago.  A section of fence in Sunland Park, New Mexico, where construction began last August under President Obama.

Now, Press Secretary Sean Spicer didn`t stick around to field questions from reporters  yesterday, prompting this rather awkward moment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will you guys just e-mail where that wall is from exactly so we can identify location?  Appreciate it.

CROWD:  Sean!




HAYES:  Sean. 

But today, Sean came back.  Spicer and the White House AV club had 24 hours to work up an answer on how a fence is actually a wall, and that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES:  After Mick Mulvaney tried to declare victory for President Trump`s wall in the new budget, even Trump-friendly sites like Breitbart weren`t buying it.

White House staff claims see-through fence levee flood protection system is a border wall.  I see what you did there, Breitbart.

24 hours later, Sean Spicer showed up in the White House briefing room with some visual aids of his own but still had a hard time selling the fence as a wall.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just one question about the photos.

SPICER:  sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are those photos of fences or walls?

SPICER: That is called a bollard wall, that is called a levee wall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So that`s the wall that was promised?

SPICER:  No, no.  There are various types of walls that can be built.  Under the legislation that was just passed, it allows us to do that.  As we`ve mentioned...

UNIDENITIFIED MALE:  what is that?

SPICER:  That is called a levee wall on the left, that is called a bollard wall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So that`s not a wall, it`s a levee wall?

SPICER:  That`s what it`s actually called.  That`s the name of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You`re building fencing, not a wall.  So you`re basically just telling supporters, the president`s supporters, to be satisfied with this existing tough-guy fencing until he`s ready to build the wall?

SPICER:  No.  What I`m telling anybody is that the president said he was going to build a wall, and he`s doing it.




SPICER:  The president is under audit.  It`s a routine one, it continues, and I think that the American public know clearly where he stands.  This was something he made very clear during the election cycle.  It`s the same -- we`re under the same audit that existed, and so nothing has changed.


HAYES:  President Trump has refused time and again to release his past tax returns.  And Press Secretary Sean Spicer said he wouldn`t be releasing his tax returns this year either.

But there`s another question, and an even more basic one that the White House should be able to give us an answer to: did the president of the United States actually file his tax returns this year, like on tax day?  Did he send them in?  Did he file for an extension, or did he just not file his tax returns at all?

There`s been such a focus on whether the president would release his tax returns, it seems that no one has asked if he actually filed them.  We asked the White House today.  And we expected them to say, of course he did.  But that`s not what they said.  The White House told us that was a question for the president`s tax lawyer, not them.

We also don`t have an answer to another crucial question when it comes to Trump`s taxes, a  question raised by Senator Al Franken today at the Senate judiciary hearing about Russia`s influence in the election.


SEN. AL FRANKEN, (D) MINNESOTA:  What I want to know is why they favored President Trump.  And it seems to me that in order to answer that question, any investigation into whether the Trump campaign or Trump operation colluded with Russian operatives would require a full appreciation of the president`s financial dealings.

Director Comey, would President Trump`s tax returns be material to such an investigation?

COMEY:  That`s not something, senator, I`m going to answer.

FRANKEN:  Does the investigation have access to President Trump`s tax returns?

COMEY:  I`d have to give you the same answer.

Again, I hope people don`t overinterpret my answers but I just don`t want to start talking about anything, what we`re looking at and how.


HAYES:  That was just one of the astounding moments in that Comey hearing. 

His testimony provided few answers but raised a host of new questions about the independence and objectivity of the FBI.  Two former agents of the FBI join me on whether the FBI has a credibility issue next.        (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  On the Hill today, FBI Director James Comey gave his longest and most impassioned defense yet of his now infamous letter to congress notifying them 11 days before the presidential election about new Clinton emails, emails which he had not even seen.


COMEY:  I could see two doors, and they were both actions.  One was labeled speak, the other was label conceal.  And so I stared at speak and conceal.  Speak would be really bad.  There`s an election in 11 days.  Lordy that would be really bad.  Concealing in my view would be catastrophic, not just to the FBI, but well beyond.  And honestly, as between really bad and catastrophic, I said to my team we`ve got to walk into the world of really bad.  I`ve got to tell congress that we`re restarting this.

Not in some frivolous way, in a hugely significant way.

Look, this was terrible.  It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election.  But honestly it wouldn`t change the decision.  Everybody who disagrees with me has to come back to October 28 with me and stare at this and tell me what you would do.  Would you speak or would you conceal?  And I could be wrong, but we honestly made a decision between those two choices that even in hindsight, and this has been one of the world`s most painful experiences, I would make the same decision.


HAYES:  Joining me now, former FBI supervisory special agent Ali Soufan, author of Anatony of Terror, and MSNBC contributor Naveed Jamali, a former FBI double agent author of How to Catch a Russian Spy.

I keep wondering what the people in the bureau think about this?

ALI SOUFAN, FRM. FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT:  Well, it`s a difficult situation.  And the people in the bureau were  attacked when Director Comey said that Hillary didn`t do anything wrong and attacked when he sent the letter to congress.

And you know what, James Comey that I know, James Comey who used to be the United States attorney in the southern district of New York, James Comey who went down to the Department of Justice and as a deputy attorney general he stood up against illegal wiring, wiretapping, James Comey who you know was appointed by President Obama, he is an honest man.

Now, we can disagree with him.  I think even he is troubled with his decision.  And he said that, mildly nauseous, think about it.

HAYES:  That quote is really going to - it`s one for the record book.

SOUFAN:  Yeah, it is.  It is.

I truly believe he is honest.  I truly believe that he did not - look, imagine Chris just for a second, imagine, that he didn`t send the letter, OK, let`s say Secretary Clinton get elected and then it came up, oh, you know what, they had that, they leaked it, and now they didn`t say anything about it and he concealed it and then we`ll have a witch hunt against the FBI and we will have the same thing that`s going on now.

HAYES:  That`s correct.

But just to be clear.  And this is the thing, Naveed, I`d like to get your sense of this.  The policy was clear here.  The DOJ policy here is you don`t do it.  He affirmatively broke policy because his concern about the post election what that would look like.  But the decision affirmatively, do you - are you in the same camp as Ali on this?

NAVEED JAMALI, FRM. FBI DOUBLE AGENT:  I don`t know.  I think Comey was very clear about this.  He said, look, I sent the letter and it was essentially congress who leaked it.  And he knew that.  He knew that was going to happen.

HAYES:  I mean, Chaffetz.  It took Chaffetz like less than a second, it was on his Twitter page,  investigation back open.

JAMALI:  Look, never underestimate the self-preservation of a government employee.  I think that that was clearly...

HAYES:  Right.

JAMALI:  He could have been like Sally Yates.  Sally Yates took the high road.  He didn`t.  I don`t know what to say.  He should have sat on that.

HAYES:  OK, but the self-preservation.

SOUFAN:  It`s two different things, though, it`s two different things.

HAYES:  It`s two different things, but self-preservation.  But that`s the thing, right, it seems important to me to distinguish between good faith critiques and bad faith.  So, the bad faith critique is he wanted Donald Trump to win and all that.  I don`t think a lot of people think that.

SOUFAN:  I don`t believe that at all.  I agree with that.

HAYES:  I think of this phrase all the time.  So, I think that that`s - I think of this phrase all the time, the Ahmed Chalabi said after Iraq they found no weapons of mass destruction, he said we were heroes in error.  I`ll always remember that phrase, we were heroes in error meaning we didn`t mean to lie to people, we just got it wrong.  And you could say, well, he just got it wrong,   But what he got wrong if he got it wrong is a pretty big deal.

SOUFAN:  Exactly.

And you know what, you have to think about it not from a political perspective, you have to think about it as an insider in the FBI.  And I know how the FBI functions from inside as an FBI agent.  And sometimes you have to make decisions, and sometimes these decisions are good and sometimes the decisions are bad.

And when they are good you get a lot of credit for it and when it`s bad you get slighted for it because you are in the FBI.

But at the same time on October 28th, DOJ didn`t have a lot of credibility.  And one of the criticism that Comey gets inside the FBI that he fell on the sword for DOJ.  He fell on the sword in order to come release the results of the investigation the first time, because the attorney general was sitting in the back of the plane with President Clinton.  And that was big probably politically outside it`s not big but inside the FBI...

HAYES:  ..just tweeted about Comey yesterday, though.

SOUFAN:  Well, that is crazy.  I mean, if you want to talk about the president of the United States tweeting, wow, you know, he tweets everyday.

HAYES: this exchange, OK, because actually when we were covering this back then the thing that troubled me more than the letter affirmatively were the leaks that were coming from the bureau, this wildfire speculation, she`s about to be indicted, they`re readying indictments.  And listen to this exchange Naveed and tell me what you think of this.  Listen.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, (D) VERMONT:  Anybody in the FBI during this 2016 campaign have contact with Rudy Guiliani about the Clinton investigation?

COMEY:  I don`t know yet.  But if I find out that people were leaking information about our investigations, whether to reporters or to private parties there will be severe consequences.

But it`s a matter that I am very very interested in.

LEAHY:  But you are looking into it?

COMEY:  Correct.


HAYES:  I found this tremendously troubling all of these leaks that were coming out.  It was in the wake of the Comey letter where the stories built as if -- and that to me seemed a real fundamental violation particularly that close to an election.

JAMALI:  Absolutely.  And look, and I know Ali can speak about this, too.  But the FBI is organized by divisions and I think each division has its own culture.  And I think it`s important to note that the leaks were not coming from -- look, the counter-intelligence folks are the people I know.  There`s 14,000 agents.  Counter-intelligence is a tiny, tiny percentage of the overall FBI special agents.  They purposefully don`t say much.  I ean, if the leaks were coming it was coming from the other side.

HAYES:  The thing that we were learning was that it was coming from the New York bureau who didn`t like Hillary Clinton.  And I just felt for those few days while this was happening we had found ourselves in some rogue republic.

SOUFAN:  The leaks were coming from former FBI agents who claimed they knew people in the FBI.  They were people talking to the networks and saying...

HAYES:  Fair distinction.  Fair distinction.

SOUFAN:  So - and that`s why...

HAYES:  They wear hearsay to begin with.

SOUFAN:  They were hearsay to begin with.  And that`s why you see the director is saying we are investigating this.  We are looking into this.  And I know that there was a lot of investigations going on in the FBI concerning leaks.

HAYES:  All right, Ali Soufan, Naveed Jamali.  That was great.  Come back any time.

SOUFAN:  Thanks.

JAMALI:  Thank you.

HAYES:  All right, that is All In for this evening.