Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: May 30, 2017 Guest: Jill Wine-Banks, Naveed Jamali, Francesca Chambers, David Cay Johnston
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HARDBALL HOST: "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ALL IN HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In general terms, back channels are an appropriate part of diplomacy.
HAYES: The White House tries to defend Jared Kushner's reported back channel to the Kremlin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the President discuss it, though?
SPICER: I'm not going to get into what the President did or did not discuss.
HAYES: Then they're the President's personal attorney.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Michael Cohen is a very talented lawyer. He's a good lawyer in my firm.
HAYES: Michael Cohen now reportedly refusing to cooperate.
MICHAEL COHEN, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL LAWYER: Says who?
HAYES: Tonight, a White House in disarray as investigations inch closer to the President.
Then, assessing the fallout from the President's first foreign trip. Rebecca Traister on Hillary Clinton and her Russian warnings.
HILARY CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: He'd rather have a puppet as president -
TRUMP: No puppet, no puppet.
HAYES: And why is Darrell Issa taking pictures of a protest from the roof when ALL IN starts right now.
Good evening from New York, I'm Chris Hayes. Yet another member of the President's inner circle has come under scrutiny in the Russia investigation. Both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have requested information and testimony from one Michael Cohen, the President's personal lawyer and longtime confidant, someone not previously known to be involved in the Russia probe. Cohen was alleged to have attended a secret meeting last summer in Prague to discuss Russian hacking of Democratic targets, something he strongly denies. Cohen told MSNBC he's declining to comply with the Committee's requests. The request letters first reported by ABC News were the same ones initially sent to Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Carter Page according to a congressional aide. All one-time Trump associates whose ties to Russian officials are currently under review. Flynn, we found out tonight, will provide some documents under subpoena to the Senate Intelligence Panel.
Another former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn has received an information request from the House Committee and has yet to decide whether to comply. Meanwhile, the fallout continues from The Washington Post's explosive report late last week that the Russian Ambassador told Moscow that Jared Kushner, the President's son-in-law, wanted to open a secret communications channel with the Kremlin. He reportedly made the proposal in a previously disclosed meeting with the Ambassador during the transition. That followed on the heels of news last week that Kushner has come under scrutiny in the Russia probe. And now, according to The New York Times, the investigation is focusing in on another Kushner meeting, this one with a Putin ally who heads a sanctioned Russian bank. Current and former American officials say the meeting may have been part of an effort by Kushner to establish a direct line to Vladimir Putin outside established diplomatic channels. Remarkably, the White House has not denied these latest reports. Instead, administration officials have defended Kushner's alleged conduct as perfectly appropriate.
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H.R. MCMASTER, UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: So generally speaking, about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner so it doesn't predispose you toward any sort of content of that conversation or anything.so, no, I would not be concerned about it.
JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: It's both normal in my opinion and acceptable. Any way that you can communicate with people, particularly organizations that are maybe not particularly friendly to us, is a good thing.
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HAYES: By this afternoon, the White House strategy seemed to have evolved somewhat. In his first briefing in over two weeks, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeatedly refused to answer questions about the Kushner reports.
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SPICER: I'm not going to get into what the President did or did not discuss but - what your question assumes is a lot of facts that are not substantiated by anything but anonymous sources that are so far being leaked out. You're asking if he approves of an action that is not a confirmed action. I'm not going to get into it, but your question presupposes facts that have not been confirmed. I think what I've said speaks for itself. So again, I'm not going to get into confirming stuff, there's an ongoing investigation.
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HAYES: Regardless of what was discussed, we know Kushner omitted his meetings with the Russian Ambassador and the Putin-allied banker on security clearance forms. He joins Attorney General Jeff Sessions and fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on the list of close Presidential associates who, before taking office, had repeated contacts with Russian officials that they later lied about, concealed, or somehow forgot to mention altogether. All this while Russ4ia was being accused very publicly by the U.S. government and others of having waged an unprecedented campaign of sabotage to disrupt the Presidential election. Joining me now, former Watergate Prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks and Naveed Jamali, Former FBI Double Agent, author of How To Catch A Russian Spy. Jill, let me start with you. Are you surprised by the White House not denying the reports of Kushner trying to set up a back channel and this secret meeting with Kislyak?
JILL WINE-BANKS, WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Almost nothing the White House is doing surprises me anymore. I can't believe anybody is surprised because it's always unpredictable. It is strange that they aren't denying it, but I think it's stranger yet that he made such a request assuming that the Kislyak conversation accurately reflects the conversation he had with Kushner.
HAYES: Naveed, that - what I thought about when I saw the sort of first round of spin from the White House about this meeting, which was basically one was that the Russia - that they were talking about bringing peace to Syria. People familiar with the meeting said the idea was to have Flynn speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria and other security issues. They went to the side of the backchannel. Let's say that's entirely true. Jared Kushner still has a problem in that under penalty of perjury and felony, he omitted this meeting from his clearance security form, right?
NAVEED JAMALIM, FORMER FBI DOUBLE AGENT: That's exactly right, Chris. I mean the point here -- and I'm sure Jill can expand upon this. But the idea is as a private citizen, can someone meet with Russian - representatives of the Russian government? The answer is most likely yes. That may not even necessarily be a crime. What separates that action from the one that General Flynn and Jared Kushner took was the omission - let's just call it omission of those meetings on their SF-86. Now, the SF-86 is a background form for which security officers could determine your eligibility to get a top secret clearance. It's very much like applying for a loan. They look for risk. And omitting that, omitting something would be considered something that would be a risky behavior and potentially preclude you from getting a clearance, one would interpret that as you know, there's a motivation to keep that off because if you keep it off, you can now qualify for top secret clearance. So I think that omission, that fact that isn't on the form is really what separates and is frankly going to be the much more legally troubling thing for Kushner and Flynn going forward.
HAYES: If you were - Jill, if you were investigating right now this White House, what would you - who would you want to talk to and about what?
BANKS: Well, first of all, I'd want to know what the actual conversation was that happened. I'd also like to know what the planned conversation was going to be about. I'd like to know why did they need a backchannel. Why did they want to evade American intelligence operations and the setup that America has to communicate with Russia? There must be a reason that they're hiding these conversations. The other thing is, an incoming President does not have the right to conduct foreign policy. So having conversations before inauguration means that we have a competing foreign policy, and that is not a good thing. So I think there are a lot of issues here that need to be explored. Obviously, you need to talk to Kushner. It would be lovely if we could talk to Kislyak as well and to Flynn and to find out what exactly they were planning to talk about and why they needed this back channel. And also I think it is absolutely true. Why would they conceal this? Why didn't they disclose it? If I had, in applying for the Pentagon job that I had, not disclosed all my conversations, I would not have gotten my job, and I would have lost my security clearance. That's a serious issue.
HAYES: That - it is the concealment again.
HAYES: And at this point, we've got to say the concealment that is almost confirmed and acknowledged. I mean that's what I want to just sort of draw people's attention to here, that the response to the Kushner story was not, no, of course, that's preposterous. It was, no, it was to bring peace to Syria. But whether it was, you know, to end world hunger, whatever the purpose, the fact is that's not a meeting you forget about, right? I mean, that's so - and, Naveed, I want to get your opinion on this other story that crossed today that I don't quite know what to do with. But it relates in some ways to some of the insinuations of that dossier which of course has bit confirmed, has been heartedly denied by many of the parties involved, including the President and Michael Cohen. But here's a piece that says, Russians discussed potentially derogatory information about Trump and associates during the campaign, the idea being that through monitored communications, Russians said they had derogatory information. What do you make of that?
JAMALI: You know, there are so many rumors about this floating around and we have to be very careful that some of this may, in fact, becoming from - I believe, maybe even coming from the Russians. But I know that Cohen was mentioned in the Steele dossier. And look, I go back to that stance about that I think probably the White House is falling back on, which is this idea that as a private citizen, these acts may not be illegal, but it does hint to this larger thing. Was there - you know, was there an attempt by the Trump associates or people in the Trump sort of inner wing to have a dialogue with the Russians? And I can tell you, Chris, that if we take this from the Russian standpoint, if Jared Kushner called - And I'm a Russian intelligence officer - calls me up and says, you know, the future - the son-in-law of the future President of the United States wants to have a meeting with you, of course, I'm going to consider this from a Russian intelligence perspective how I can take advantage of it. And from - just from that alone, just to put yourself in a room like that, is just wildly, I want to say at a minimum, naive. But my goodness, it seems like these people were reaching out, and I have to believe the Russians were going to absolutely take advantage of that.
HAYES: And Jill, it also seems to me the facts that have been entered into evidence, the Reuters piece about 18 contacts, the meetings during transition, the omission of them from the forms. When you put them all together, there was a focus, it appears from this campaign and in the transition on bilateral U.S.-Russia relations with officials from the Russian government, that certainly seems to exceed their interest in basically any other matter of policy, foreign or domestic.
BANKS: Indeed. And, again, it just throws suspicion on the whole situation. The real question at the bottom line is what did the President know, and when did he know it? It's the same question we had during Watergate. And I don't know that he knew that Jared Kushner was doing this but after all, it was his son-in-law. He was one of his closest advisers. It's hard to believe he went off on his own to do it. But we need to know that because it changes our perspective of what happened.
HAYES: That's right. That point is a really important one and Sean Spicer refused to answer precisely that question today. Jill Wine-Banks and Naveed Jamali, thank you, both.
JAMALI: Thank you.
HAYES: I'm joined now by Francesca Chambers, White House Correspondent for the Daily Mail who's in that briefing today and Heidi Przybyla, Senior Politics for the USA Today and an MSNBC Political Analyst. And Heidi, the White House does seem to - we seem to be in a new chapter of how they respond to this. First, it was sort of the outright flat denial or lie frankly, things as trivial as the inauguration to things that happened later on. Then it was accept the basic facts but spin. Today it was just you're not getting any - Francesca, you were in that room - you're not getting any information. Has there been an evolution in how they - how they deal with this?
FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, DAILY MAIL WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that was exactly what happened today, but it wasn't just today. There were White House officials prior to today when that report first came out that also would not comment on Jared Kushner, would not comment on whether the back channel did or did not happen the way that The Washington Post article said it did. But the point that I was making in the White House Press Briefing today was that the President tweeted out an article from Fox News that relied on an anonymous source that said that Kushner wasn't the one who suggested the back channel, it was the Russians who wanted the back channel and it was to talk about Syria. But The Washington Post article had relied on anonymous sources, and those were the anonymous sources that Sean Spicer was slamming and saying they're completely unreliable.
CHAMBERS: How could we trust them when the President was relying on an article based on an anonymous source to support Jared Kushner's side of the story?
HAYES: Yes. And to the point there, Heidi, I mean, this - to Francesca's point here, what's remarkable is that the President himself tweeting this article that says essentially the meeting happened but not the same way again gets back to this fundamental issue that Jared Kushner has, which is if the meeting happened which everyone now says happened and it was of this level of significance, it's hard to believe that Jared Kushner forgot about it when he filled out that form under penalty of perjury.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Which is why Sean looks so exhausted because it's really hard to go out and do that job when you're constantly getting undercut by your own boss. To answer your question, initially as well that, yes, I think the strategy is evolving in that the communication - now Communications Director and Main Spokesman for the White House won't even answer the questions. That is now where we're at. The thing that I thought is he is now basically under a trance of the lawyers, of the legal team who tell him you know, you can't deny it, you can't confirm it, so you go out there and you just kind of spin your way through. You give a ten-minute introduction on the President's trip which, you know, nobody in that press briefing room had intended to ask any more questions about the trip. It was all about Russia and Kushner. And the main question that we're trying to get at here is probably going to go unanswered for a pretty long time, which is what your previous guest said, is because Spicer won't acknowledge anything which is what did Trump know? Are we to really buy that both in the case of Flynn and now Kushner? There were these high-level discussions going on with the Russians, including a Russian banker who was under sanctions and that the President knew nothing about it?
HAYES: That point, I think, is an important one, Francesca. And I was struck by it. You know, the President gets back. This is him tweeting, you know, he gets back from abroad, and it was almost like someone when you have a friend who goes abroad but then they don't spring for the international data package and then they get back, like all of a sudden there was tweet after tweet after tweet. Today it said, "Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S., how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the fake news." Again, this is similar line to what actually Vladimir Putin said today. But that tweet said to me that whatever discipline Sean Spicer is showing at the microphone, the President himself will not be able to show said discipline, which perhaps part of the reason we have not heard directly from him in such a long time.
CHAMBERS: Well, the difficulty for Sean Spicer, as Heidi was saying, is when you have the President tweeting things that undercut your message that we've seen that happen often. And so Sean is also at a point now where you referenced not giving us any information. He will say things like, the tweet speaks for itself. He will just refer back to the President's tweets, and oftentimes those tweets don't speak for themselves. There's a lot of unanswered questions, which is what came up in the briefing today, which is did the President know about the back channel, the alleged back- channel that was being set up with Russia? When did he know about it? And going back to that Fox article that the President tweeted out today, he seemed to be affirming that it did happen.
HAYES: That's right.
CHAMBERS: He just disagreed with the version of events in the post article, that he was saying that the Fox article would have been the one that was right, which is that the conversation did happen. It just - it just did not happen the way that the Post said it would. So then in the White House Press Briefing, one would think that Sean Spicer would be able to say whether or not the White House did or did not know about this other time, or it did or did not happen given the President tweeted about it, but he wouldn't do that.
HAYES: Heidi, do you think they're just going to - I mean, is this the strategy from here on out, like refer to the lawyers, there's an investigation and basically, try to move off it?
PRZYBYLA: I think so. That was the key sound bite that you were playing and a lot of other hosts were playing, which is that this is an ongoing investigation, I can't comment. At some point, Jared Kushner will speak. And I think there's also a bit of -I mean look at Sean Spicer, he looked physically pained. I think for these officials who may or may not be hanging out that much longer, we don't know, there's also kind of burned, how many times can you get burned in terms of being put out on that podium, saying things that wind up not being true? And so it's better - you know, we would - let's be fair, we would slam him if he said things today that later this week we found out not to be true. So it's better I guess in his case in terms of survival just not to answer the question.
HAYES: That - well that is certainly true. Francesca Chambers and Heidi Przybyla, thank you, both.
HAYES: The President's personal attorney now included in the expanding Russia probe. Some breaking news on how he's handling requests from Congress after this two-minute break.
HAYES: The House and Senate probe into Russian intrusion into the Presidential Election has expanded to include Donald Trump's personal Attorney, Michael Cohen. And tonight Cohen told NBC News that if he's issued a subpoena, he will testify. A brief refresher on who Cohen is, his mantra as articulated in 2011 is, quote, "if somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn't like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump's benefit. If you do something wrong, I'm going to come at you, grab you by the neck, and I'm not going to let you go until I'm finished." In 2015 at the beginning of Donald Trump's run for president, Michael Cohen was asked about decades-old allegations allegedly made by Ivana Trump, accusing her then husband of rape, allegations denied by Donald Trump and subsequently disavowed by Ivana Trump herself. Michael Cohen told The Daily Beast that legally, quote, "you cannot rape your spouse." Cohen later apologizes, Trump quickly distanced himself, telling CNN quote, "he's speaking for himself. He's not speaking for me, obviously." Then, when Trump's feud with then Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly lead to death threats, Michael Cohen reportedly brushed them off.
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MEGYN KELLY, FORMER FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: Michael Cohen, who is Trump's top lawyer and an Executive Vice-President with the Trump organization, had re-tweeted, let's gut her about me at a time when the threat level was very high, which he knew. And Bill Shine, an Executive Vice-President at Fox, called him up to say you've got to stop this, like, we understand you're angry, but this is - you know, she has got three little kids. She's walking around New York, really, and he didn't much care. And what Bill Shine said to Michael Cohen was let me put it to you in terms you can understand. If Megyn Kelly gets killed, it's not going to help your candidate.
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HAYES: Michael Cohen then went on to claim on Twitter that gut just meant, quote, "to make something no longer effective." And then most recently and perhaps most eyebrow-raising given current news is that according to New York Times, Michael Cohen hand-delivered a Russia-Ukraine peace plan that would have ended sanctions against Russia. It was drawn up by a Russian- American businessman and a Ukrainian lawmaker, and he hand-delivered that to the White House. But The Times says Cohen confirmed he did this to their reporters, Cohen has denied that he didn't anything such thing. Joining me now, David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, Columnist for the Daily Beast and Author of The Making of Donald Trump. David, you have covered Michael Cohen, you've covered the Trump org, give us a sense of how central he is in New York.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, THE DAILY BEAST COLUMNIST: He's Donald's replacement for his lawyer in his early life, the notorious Roy Cohn. He just doesn't have Roy Cohn's polish and he's all attack, attack, attack. Well, that may work with journalists. It might work with people thinking about litigation. It might be even possibly work with some lily-livered members of Congress in the investigation, especially if they're looking at tough re-election but it's not going to work with Robert Mueller's team in the FBI one bit.
HAYES: You know, I thought about Michael Cohen because I remembered when The New York Times wrote that story and it was such a strange story. Here's Michael Cohen and a guy name, Felix Sater, who will talk about in second, we talked about in this program, sitting down a Ukrainian politician who sort of sympathetic to Russia, crafting a peace deal that would sort of let Russia basically keep Crimea and end the sanctions, which is precisely what Russia wants, hand delivering it to Michael Flynn. It seems so random and so out of nowhere, but now it seems less random, less out of nowhere given the reporting we've had in the last you know, week or so.
JOHNSTON: Yes. I don't see this being random. First of all, Michael Cohen's wife is a Ukrainian. His brother's wife is Ukrainian. He has Ukrainian business involvements that are very long and very deep both in the former Soviet Union and here in the United States that have made him very wealthy. And I think the thing we should be asking is why is it that everything around this leads back to Russia and the former Soviet Union? We're not seeing all sorts of very close contacts with people from, oh, I don't know, Germany, Japan, Australia. It's Russia and the former Soviet Union again and again and again.
HAYES: Yes. We should say that there's one exception to that, which is Flynn's Turkey dealings, which have since been disclosed, which is an interesting - you have a response to that, though.
JOHNSTON: But even that one --- but even that one traces back to a Russian oligarch and let's remember, the Russian oligarchs are essentially a government-sponsored network of international criminals who've been out trying to figure out how to loot the West and advance Vladimir Putin's agenda. He doesn't believe in Democracy. He wants to break up NATO. He wants to break up the European Union. He wants to end democratic governments and replace them with a kind of dictatorial and presumably Kleptocratic rule that he is the poster boy for.
HAYES: The other person involved with the Michael Cohen, you know, peace deal or such a word - again, there's a lot of freelancing peace negotiations happening here which at a certain point one has to wonder like really how much were people just out on their own trying to bring peace to various places. But Felix Sater was one of the people that was with Michael Cohen when this sort of alleged peace deal was brought back together, and Felix Seter is someone who's got a strange history with the Trump organization as well. Isn't that right?
JOHNSTON: Well, yes, Felix Seder, who Donald says I wouldn't know him if I saw him in the room traveled with Donald for years. He is at the center of the bay rock scandal. He has shown up repeatedly as being a crucial force in understanding Donald Trump and money that comes out of the Russian kleptocracy that has bailed him out several times. And you know, we now have about 20 people, Chris, who are broadly being looked at here. And while some of them may be very tough and take on the sort of attitude of Michael Sater or - I'm sorry - Michael Cohen or Felix Sater, there are people who are going to be subject to leverage by competent investigators. So I think we're going to see more stuff continue to flow out. The smoke's going to get thicker and flow faster.
HAYES: All right. David Cay Johnston, thanks for joining us.
JOHNSTON: Thank you.
HAYES: Still ahead, assessing the damage of President Trump's first foreign trip after this quick break.
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JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: President Trump has wrapped up his intense nine-day overseas international voyage that by all accounts was a home run. Our Commander in Chief, the pillar of strength and a true advocate for America.
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HAYES: That was one take on the President's foreign trip. Another came from a State Department official who told The Daily Beast that "when it comes to diplomacy, President Trump is a drunk tourist, loud and tacky, shoving his way around the dance floor. He steps on others without realizing it. It's ineffectual." Wall Street Journal Reporter Eli Stokols tweeted he got this text from a GOP National Security official. "Had to apologize to European defense attach‚ just now quote "I'm sorry. He's an idiot."" There were, in fact, a lot of negative reviews. The President seen here shoving the Prime Minister of Montenegro aside during a meeting with NATO Leaders. The Atlantic's David Frum declaring the trip a catastrophe for the U.S.-Europe Relations, our own Joe Scarborough called it the most damaging for American interests abroad since JFK's disastrous 1961 Vienna Summit with Khrushchev. After an extended tense handshake with President Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron compared our President to leaders of Russia and Turkey and described the handshake as a moment of truth. And after the President Trump met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Merkel's chief political rival Martin Schulz said, quote, "I reject with outrage the way this man takes it upon himself to treat the Head of our country's government."
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MARTIN SCHULZ, GERMANY'S SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN: (INAUDIBLE)
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HAYES: Chancellor Angela Merkel had some pointed words of her home at a beer hall rally in Munich on Sunday which prompted a full minute of applause from her supporters. What Merkel had to say right after this break.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: After meeting with President Trump last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a startling declaration, telling campaign supporters "recent days have shown me that the times when we could rely completely on others are over to a certain extent," Merkel adding, "we Europeans must really take our own fate into our own hands.
Asked about the comments during his return to the White House briefing room today, Press Secretary Sean Spicer had this to say.
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SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That's great. That's what the president called for. He called for additional burden sharing. The president believes that seeing Europe and other NATO countries increase their burden sharing is a very positive thing for their own countries, for NATO as a whole and for the United States to see these individuals heed the call that he has so eloquently put out over the last several - frankly, well over a year.
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HAYES: Joining me now, MSNBC national security analyst Evelyn Farkas, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, and Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Evelyn, so there's two contexts for that quote. One is like, oh my God, it's the end of 70 years of this project post-World War 2. And the other, this is one person. Thorsten Benner writing in the "Washington Post" Stop Panicking Over Trump and NATO. Spicer's ideas are like, so they're going to kick in more to NATO and we're not going to be there to hold their hands, what's the big deal.
EVELYN FARKAS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I mean, that - both things are sort of true, but I'm a little bit unsettled. So, yes, we have to get the Europeans to pay more, but the reality is we already put out that cry.
We put out a huge amount of pressure under the Obama administration. The European countries are all contributing more. Most of them will make the 2 percent by, I think, next year, end of next year, if I'm right. In any event, in the foreseeable future. They're making progress.
The problem is that what the president is saying to the allies, I mean he's unwilling to say that I'm with you guys 100 percent of the way, Article 5. He's in public putting them down, basically treating them like children rather than our closest allies.
HAYES: Castigating them. Shaming them. Yes.
FARKAS: Yes. In the context of standing in front of a monument, he's dedicating a monument to the 9/11 attacks on America. When Article 5 was invoked, the only time the allies, they started flying over the United States, they sent ships out to the Med, they were with us in our fight against terrorism and they continue to be with us in Afghanistan.
HAYES: Phyllis, I wanted to talk to you because one of the - I saw polling here today about Democrats' support for NATO has gone through the roof.
NATO has been, at various times, a sort of controversial organization, both in Europe and the US. We're sort of seen as a bulwark against - in the Cold War. There's a question about what it was worth after the Cold War, then 9/11 happened. What was your sort of interpretation of the trip and the relationship with NATO?
PHYLLIS BENNIS, FELLOW AT THE INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: You know, Chris, I've got to start by saying I'm no fan of NATO. The last time I was teargassed was at an anti-NATO protest in Europe and the last time I was protesting in Chicago was at an anti-NATO summit protest.
FARKAS: I was at that summit.
BENNIS: So, I'm not a fan of NATO. I don't think that this kind of a military alliance is what keeps us safe. I don't think it's what keeps Europe safe. NATO was created for this idea to keep the Americans and the Germans down and the Soviets out.
Well, the Soviets are gone. The Americans are - sorry, Chris - all in. And the Germans are right there. So, the notion that attacking NATO rhetorically - because let's be clear, nothing else happened other than the rhetorical attack.
BENNIS: This doesn't mean a change in the reliance on military strength as supposedly what keeps us safe. It simply doesn't turn militarism into diplomacy. It doesn't start to privilege diplomacy instead of war -
HAYES: Right. Although -
BENNIS: In Afghanistan or somewhere else.
HAYES: Right. Although at the same time, there's also the degree to which - the point of contention, right, is that they need to spend more money on their defense.
BENNIS: Right. That's assuming that they have to put more money is going to keep people more safe.
HAYES: Right. But back to my point -
BENNIS: (inaudible) expensive wars.
HAYES: I'm pointing that it's sort of - it's somewhat ironic to me, Evelyn, that the sort of point of bipartisan consensus is that like, yes, Europe needs to arm up more. I mean, in a sort of historical sense, like when you go back, you're like, well, Europe pouring a lot of money into arms has not been the best historical bet for the continent.
FARKAS: Well, I think when they were fighting with one another. But, again, as Phyllis pointed out, the reason we created this alliance was for collective security in Europe. The reason we -
HAYES: Against Russia particularly.
FARKAS: But not just. Because even after the Cold War, we continue to expand when we didn't view Russia as a threaten at all. In fact, we thought some day Russia would join.
The reason we did was to increase stability. We found that there would be increased security and stability, so you can get increased economic and political development.
HAYES: So, Phyllis, to this point, because this is where I think there's sort of an interesting kind of rubber hitting the road, right, which is that, NATO is one institution, but the Trump vision seems sort of skepticism of all of that, right? There's sort of -
BENNIS: This isn't an attack on NATO. This is an attack on Europe and it doesn't take into account, for example, the deal that was made in 1990 at the end of the Cold War when the first Bush administration and Gorbachev agreed that, in return for the now Russia, formerly Soviets, accepting the idea that reunified Germany would join NATO that the agreement was NATO would not expand 1 inch further to the East. And now, we're right at Russia's border. So, why are we surprised?
FARKAS: Well, that agreement came later. There was no agreement initially when the Cold War ended.
BENNIS: By 1991, there was an agreement, though, in that first year.
HAYES: I mean, look, let's be clear. The NATO took advantage of the weakness of the post-Soviet - I'm just going to summarize the history, though it's extremely controversial. I'll editorialize for a moment.
But here's an important point, I think, to all of this is that, on top of the NATO thing, right, so there's NATO too, but NATO is just one institution, right.
And what the sort of through line is the sort of skepticism of all multilateral agreements -
FARKAS: And trade.
HAYES: And trade and all of it, right? So, all the things that might bind countries to other countries is suspect. There's a scoop that Trump is telling confidantes that the US will quit the Paris climate deal.
Phyllis, this is sort of - Paris climate deal is like the inverse of the political valence of NATO.
BENNIS: Exactly right.
HAYES: It's the same thing. It's the same idea.
BENNIS: It's the same idea to Donald Trump. It's the same idea that any multilateral institution is suspect. The united nations is clearly suspect. The European Union, which the US isn't even a member of, is clearly suspect.
HAYES: Not only suspect -
BENNIS: We don't get to go to the meetings.
HAYES: He refuses to acknowledge it exists because he keeps talking about German trade deals.
Evelyn Farkas and Phyllis Bennis, thanks to you both. Appreciate it.
FARKAS: Thanks, Chris.
BENNIS: Thank you. All right. Still to come. Rebecca Traister on the post-election life of Hillary Clinton, how she was ringing the Russia alarm bell well before election day.
Plus, seeking higher ground, that's tonight's thing one, thing two starting next.
HAYES: Thing one tonight. A recurring theme in the Trump era has been congressional Republicans seeking ways to avoid confronting angry constituents back home.
Beginning back in January when Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman literally snuck out the back door of his office as hundreds of constituents waited to speak with him.
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton kept his door locked at his Little Rock office, with staff only speaking to constituents through an intercom before eventually agreeing to a town hall several weeks later.
On the first recess in February, more than 200 Republicans skipped town halls altogether, a trend that continued in April recess, prompting billboards calling on representatives to speak to their constituents, as well as missing posters for congressmen like Darrell Issa, who refused to hold town halls, even holding town halls without him begging him to show up.
Darrell Issa caved and held two town halls a few weeks later in March and he has another one coming up this Saturday, but he doesn't seem eager to get the conversation started early. This photo was posted of Darrell Issa today on the roof of his district office as crowds of constituents gathered below. And that story is thing two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: A California attorney running for Congressman Darrell Issa tweeted today, yes, this is really Darrell Issa on the roof of his district office building, too afraid to come speak with assembled constituents below.
And several hundred in front of Darrell Issa's office this a.m. Issa came out for five minutes, but refused to engage with those across the street.
About 90 minutes later, Issa himself tweeted his side of the story, spent the morning talking with constituents gathered outside the office today, then popped upstairs to take a quick pic, along with a photo of him speaking with what appears to be a lone supporter in a smaller group of constituents away from the main crowd.
Now, if Issa spent the morning talking with voters as he tweeted, perhaps he didn't retreat to the roof as it seemed. But Issa had a very different story for the San Diego Union Tribune staffer Joshua Stewart who reported, I just received an unprompted call from Darrell Issa who said he tried unsuccessfully to speak with protesters outside his district office.
Issa said the protesters wouldn't speak with him, so he went up to the roof and took pictures. Then Issa called me an operative for his opponents. Then Issa hung up on me.
HAYES: The only survivor in a horrific attack by a white supremacist in Portland, Oregon is out of the hospital tonight. Twenty-one-year-old Micah Fletcher, pictured here with his girlfriend, is now back home, recovering after he was stabbed in the neck. His alleged assailant, 35-year-old Jeremy Christian, was arraigned on murder charges today.
Christian is a self-avowed white nationalist who posted hateful sentiments towards a variety of minority groups on his Facebook page and attended free speech march in Portland last month where he was seen giving Nazi salutes and shouting die Muslims.
On Friday night, according to witnesses, Christian boarded a light rail train in Portland and began yelling slurs at two young women, one of them was black, the other wearing a hijab.
Micah Fletcher and two other men intervened. And Christian stabbed all three of them in the neck. Fifty-three-year-old Rick John Best and 23- year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche lost their lives.
Rick John Best was a veteran serving 23 years in the Army. He ran for County Commissioner in 2014 as a Republican and worked for the City of Portland. He was on his way home Friday night to his wife and four children when he was murdered.
One of Portland's city commissioners said of Best, "as a veteran, he served our country with honor and distinction, he stood up for two young women and others he didn't even know all because he wanted to help.
Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche was a 2016 graduate of Reed College in Portland where he majored in economics. His mother posted a letter to President Trump on her Facebook page after his death saying, "these brave men saw the immediate injustice and didn't hesitate to act. They recognize the truth. We are more alike than we are different. To ride the train home without being assaulted because of the color of your skin or your religious beliefs is an inalienable right."
At a time when this country feels more polarized than ever in recent memory at least, the victims of this unspeakably heinous attack, one a Republican veteran, the other a graduate of one of the leftiest colleges in the country, together in this moment acted with bravery and decency in a way that transcends whatever political differences they might have had had they ever had the chance to talk about them.
And in the midst of this horror, they - these men - are martyrs for a shining vision of our shared country that can make us all proud. May they rest in peace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, THEN REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: From everything I see has no respect for this person.
HILLARY CLINTON, THEN DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, that's because he'd rather have a puppet as president.
TRUMP: No puppet, no puppet.
CLINTON: And it's pretty clear -
TRUMP: You're the puppet.
CLINTON: It's pretty clear, you won't admit -
TRUMP: No, you're the puppet.
CLINTON: - that the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the United States of America that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, breakup NATO, do whatever he wants to do and that you continue to get help from him because he has a very clear favorite in this race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Despite the president's repeated assertion that the Russia story is just a post-election rationale for Hillary Clinton's loss, Clinton herself was very clearly talking a lot about the Trump-Russia connection back when she still thought she was going to win the election.
And today, six months after her historic loss, she is still talking about it, telling Rebecca Traister in a profile in New York Magazine that what I was doing was working. I would've won had I not been subjected to the unprecedented attacks by Comey and the Russians aided and abetted by the suppression of the vote, particularly in Wisconsin.
And the author of that fantastic piece Rebecca Traister joins me now. Good to see you. It's a great piece. I read it in one single sitting.
Let's start with the Russia stuff because it strikes me like I was going back and it was striking how much they were talking about it during the campaign and freaking out about it to the extent that I thought at the time was too much, I think.
REBECCA TRAISTER, WRITER-AT-LARGE, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Right. Well, I think both pre and post-election, they've gotten the rap for it being too much.
So, pre-election, it was like stop focusing on this. And there was the sense that it was kind of - especially from the left that this is like a weird conspiracy theory and it was trying - and it was taking us away from what we should really be talking about. And there's a real argument behind that. Now -
HAYES: And in terms of politically. Right.
TRAISTER: Post - and why isn't she making the positive case for herself. I mean, those were the critiques before the election. Now, the election has happened. There is increased evidence that a lot of the stuff she was saying before the election was incredibly prescient and also probably pretty well-informed.
But now it's like stop making this excuse for why you lost, right? So, on both sides of the election, her talking about Russia isn't received very warmly.
HAYES: So, one of the things I really liked about the piece is that the Hillary Clinton that comes across in that piece is the closest in print rendering of the Hillary Clinton that I have heard about from people that work with her.
HAYES: One of the things that seems clear - and tell me, is that - and we talk about like the blame game and whether she is taking responsibility. Like, she and the people around her feel like they were jobbed. That's the tweet-length version of how they feel it went.
TRAISTER: Right. But I don't think they're alone in that.
HAYES: I'm not saying they're not. I'm just saying that, like, the idea that - I mean, obviously, they think they made mistakes. Everyone does. But fundamentally, it's like if you've got jobbed by a horrible call in the end of the game or something, like that is fundamentally how they have processed this election, how she has.
TRAISTER: Right. And it's interesting. It's actually - Christiane Amanpour said something in my piece -
HAYES: That was interesting, yes.
TRAISTER: Where she says, why everybody is talking about Comey, why isn't Hillary Clinton allowed to talk about Comey because when, in fact, when she does about Russia or Comey, people pile on and say, oh, she's making excuses, why is she talking about this, she's not blaming herself.
But the fact is many people, many of us, many in the media are talking about this. Nate Silver has done, like the analysis that Hillary Clinton cites saying this is what probably led to my loss.
And the thing is - the thing about this election, and we've talked about this before, is that the win/loss in the electoral college came down to 77,000 votes across three states. That means that whatever you think caused it did. You're right, right?
TRAISTER: You're right. I'm right. She's right. Everybody else is right.
HAYES: It's the butterfly -
TRAISTER: It's the butterfly - right. And so, but there is the sense that, like, if she talks about the thing that she believes caused it, which is Comey and Russia, then that's invalid in a way.
HAYES: But the reason that I think there's - part of why this still froths, part of why is there such a fight over this is because people do think that, like, for a debate about what the core message of the Democratic Party is that there is two ways to look at it.
One is that, we did not - our candidate and campaign didn't talk enough about the kitchen table issues that would appeal to voters across the greater industrial Midwest. The other is we got job - we did assemble the biggest coalition and then we kind of got jobbed by the butterfly effect.
And that matters it seems to me for that debate.
TRAISTER: Right. Well, I think there's a kind of middle ground that gets lost in that debate. So, I think it's about a messaging failure in part.
So, a lot of the criticism that Clinton got was that she was running these ads that, in fact, were very prescient warning about Donald Trump, even this ad on the Russia stuff, the stuff about ICE, the deportations, that gutting ad about the child at the end of election day saying can we stay, I mean the stuff that she was predicting about a Trump administration was incredibly prescient.
However - and this is a criticism that I happen to agree with - one of the criticisms of that campaign is you're not laying out a positive argument for your own administration. You're just warning us about Donald Trump.
So, she was simultaneously prescient and correct about Trump, at the same time that she was not getting across that message of what I'm going to do.
The other thing is that part of what she was going to do and what she was - and I didn't write about this in my piece, but I talked to her about it. She actually did have all kinds of policies that she was very interested in regarding the white working class and that got some air, but bad air during the primaries.
When she went to coal countries, she wanted to talk about retraining coal miners, policies that address the opioid addiction, and that stuff wasn't getting the kind of positive airing and messaging at the end in the general election.
HAYES: What do you - having spent all this time with her, what do you think she understands as her role right now?
TRAISTER: Well, it's interesting. I think she's experimenting with a new role actually outside of politics. And that's one thing she's always - she's often criticized as the consummate Democratic Party insider, right, as a first lady, as a senator, as a secretary of state, as a presidential candidate.
She has talked about herself recently as an activist citizen. She's talked about herself as a member of the resistance. She's positioning herself experimentally I think - this is my take - as somebody who's opposing from the outside. She's not the candidate.
She said to me several times in many way, I'm not running, I'm not the candidate, but she is redirecting using the (C)(4) thing that she's set up. She's directing funds into resistance organizations.
HAYES: It's a fascinating chapter. And Rebecca Traister, who is just a master at these sorts of things, profiled Hillary Clinton. It's the cover story of this week's New York Magazine. Thank you so much.
TRAISTER: Thank you.
HAYES: That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now with the one and only Joy Reid in for Rachel.
Good evening, Joy.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END