All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 6/2/2017

Guests: Eric Swalwell, Asha Rangappa, Michelle Goldberg, Dan Fried, Susan Del Percio

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: June 2, 2017 Guest: Eric Swalwell, Asha Rangappa, Michelle Goldberg, Dan Fried, Susan Del Percio

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the President invoke executive privilege?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S COUNSELOR: The president will make that decision.

HAYES: The White House now reviewing options to prevent James Comey from testifying.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He`s a showboat. He`s a grandstander.

HAYES: Tonight, the legal and political implications of invoking executive privilege. Plus --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Gorkov, if it was an innocent meeting with Jared Kushner, why don`t you want to talk about it, Sir?

HAYES: New questions over the Kushner meeting with Putin`s banker. And new fallout from the secret Trump plan to ease Russian sanctions. And inside the chaos, disinformation and firm French handshake that spurred the President`s decision to leave the Paris Accord.

TRUMP: A lot of it`s a hoax. It`s a hoax.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. In six days, James Comey is set to give public testimony before Congress in which he is widely expected to reveal attempts by the President to interfere with and possibly to obstruct the FBI investigation of his campaign`s ties to Russia. Tonight, the Trump White House is weighing whether to take the extraordinary step of trying to block Comey from speaking. A former FBI Director who was fired last month in the midst of the Russia investigation is due before an open session of the Senate Intelligence Committee at 10:00 a.m. next Thursday, June 8th. But now according to Bloomberg Reporter Jennifer Jacobs, the White House Confirms they`re reviewing whether to invoke executive privilege to prevent Comey from testifying before Congress next week. Asked earlier today if the President planned to intervene to try and silence Comey, White House Press Secretary did not rule it out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That committee hearing was just noticed, and I think obviously it`s got to be reviewed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that`s not -- it`s not a no?

SPICER: I`m just saying I don`t -- I didn`t literally -- my understanding is the date for that hearing was just set. I have not spoken to counsel yet. I don`t know what that -- what they`re going to -- how they`re going to respond.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: If the President were to pursue an executive privilege claim to stop Comey from speaking regardless of the legal merits, it would represent yet another major escalation in his battle against the former FBI Director. This comes amid reports that the law enforcement investigation of Russia`s election interference is expanding under the leadership of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. According to the Associated Press, Mueller has taken control of a pre-existing criminal investigation involving one-time Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, who was forced to resign amid questions about his ties to a pro-Russian political faction in Ukraine. A.P. also reports that Mueller`s investigation may expand to examine the roles of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the President`s firing of James Comey. Pressure has already been mounting on another member of the Trump administration, the President`s son-in-law and Senior Adviser, Jared Kushner, who has now landed on the cover of Time Magazine after it was revealed that he`s under scrutiny in the Russia probe.

At the White House briefing today, Sean Spicer refused once again to explain why the President`s son-in-law met during the transition with the head of a sanctioned Russian bank, Sergey Gorkov, an ally of Vladimir Putin because as The Washington Post points out, the previously offered explanations for the New York meeting just do not add up. The bank maintained this week that the session was held as part of a new business strategy and was conducted with Kushner in his role as the head of his family`s real estate business. The White House says the meeting was unrelated to business and was one of many diplomatic encounters the soon to be Presidential Adviser was holding ahead of Donald Trump`s inauguration.

At a conference today in St. Petersburg, Russia, NBC`s Keir Simmons tried to ask the Russian banker himself what his meeting with Kushner was all about.

KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Gorkov, it`s very good to see you here, Keir Simmons from NBC News. You`re the subject of intense scrutiny in America because of your meeting with Donald Trump`s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

SERGEY GORCOV, VEB HEAD: I don`t have any comments about that. (INAUDIBLE)

SIMMONS: I know you do but the thing is that there is some confusion about what happened.

GORCOV: Sorry, sorry.

SIMMONS: Were you talking about business or were you talking about politics?

GORKOV: No comments, please.

SIMMONS: Have you been contacted by the FBI, or would you be prepared to talk to them, Mr. Gorkov?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: While the subject of the meeting is still in contention, there is now reporting about what Mr. Gorkov, seen there, did immediately after it. The Washington Post tracked down flight data for what appears to have been the plane that carried Gorkov to and from his meeting with Kushner after leaving Newark on December 14th, the jet headed to Japan, where Vladimir Putin was visiting on December 15th and 16th. The news media had reported that Gorkov would join the Russian President there. I`m joined now by Congressman Eric Swalwell. He`s a Democrat from California and a Member of the House Intelligence Committee. I want to first get your reaction to the news that the White House is considering invoking executive privilege as an attempt to stop James Comey from testifying. Do you think they have the legal ability to do that?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Good evening, Chris. I do not believe they have that ability. It looks like that privilege was waived with the President talking about his conversations with Comey in a number of interviews as well as through his Twitter account. And so, I think the Director should be allowed to come forward and tell us just what the President said to him, whether any pressure was applied, and whether he was being denied resources as he was seeking them from the Department of Justice.

HAYES: There`s some sense that the President might, short of a sort of invoking legal privilege, just put a lot of pressure to bear on Richard Burr, who is the Committee Chair over on the Senate side to try to get the hearing canceled or the invitation withdrawn. Do you think that`s likely? Do you have confidence the Chair over there can stand up to that?

SWALWELL: At this point, I wouldn`t put it past the President to apply pressure anywhere. We`ve seen him trying to interfere with the House`s investigation. We`ve seen him trying to interfere with the Department of Justice and the FBI`s investigation so I would not put the President above that. But I do believe that Senators Burr and Warner are conducting an honest investigation over there, and they`re not going to be bullied by this President.

HAYES: Speaking of which, you`ve just referred to pressure, and I think you`re obliquely referring to the Chair of your own Committee, Devin Nunes, who has officially recused himself from this matter, but appears to also be issuing subpoenas by himself to Obama officials on the sort of side issue of unmasking. Do I have that right, and can he do that?

SWALWELL: He is doing that. He should not be doing that. If he has truly stepped aside, then his pen should be nowhere near any subpoena that touches on the Russia investigation. And the President has made these bizarre and deceitful unmasking claims a part of the Russia investigation. And so the Chair should truly step aside and allow Mike Conaway and ranking member Schiff to work together and not interfere in our own investigation.

HAYES: There is -- just to be clear about what unmasking is for folks that have not tracked this, it`s the practice of essentially removing the redaction of the name of a U.S. person in an intelligence report. That redaction is there to protect their privacy but can be removed at request. And I want to get your reaction to this news because Devin Nunes has said that the Obama White House abused that or has intimated they have. This is from The Washington Post just shortly ago. The Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee asked U.S. spy agencies late last year to reveal the names of U.S. individuals or organizations contained in classified intelligence on Russia`s meddling in the 2016 election, engaging in the same practice that President Trump has accused the Obama administration of abusing current and former officials said. What do you make of that?

SWALWELL: Again, Chris, the unmasking claims by the President or by Chairman Nunes have always been a distraction from the Russia investigation. Unmasking is a standard practice that intelligence officials take when they need to learn more about information they receive. Sometimes it`s done in the executive branch, and as you saw in The Washington Post story, sometimes it`s done by House Committee Members that the Chairman oversees. He actually has to sign off on those unmasking requests.

HAYES: Individually?

SWALWELL: Yes, he does. And so --

HAYES: So he knows how much -- he knows how much unmasking he or his colleagues on the committee are doing precisely?

SWALWELL: He does because that would come from his pen. And again, we believe this is just an effort to distract, deflect, and disrupt a lawful investigation into the President`s ties to Russia.

HAYES: Do you believe -- we have some reporting tonight that the Special Counsel investigation has expanded. There`s a sort of portfolio that includes an existing Manafort investigation and then possibly the sort of question of whether the President of the United States obstructed justice in his handling of Comey. Do you believe the Special Counsel should be investigating this obstruction question in the sort of basket of things that he`s looking into?

SWALWELL: Yes. Robert Mueller should have a wide latitude to follow the evidence wherever it takes him. And if the President is cleared, then he should come forward and tell us that. But if the President or people on his team worked with Russia during its interference campaign, they should be held accountable. And what we ask is that the FBI, under former Director Mueller, be allowed to conduct their work without any interference from the White House and then report back to the American people.

HAYES: There`s a lot of focus on Jared Kushner now. There`s been several outlets that have reported that he is someone who the investigation is at least looking at. He is not a suspect. He is not a target of the investigation, but he is someone whose involvement is being looked at by investigators. Is Jared Kushner someone that you would like to hear from testify under oath?

SWALWELL: Well, Chris, what I`ll tell you is we are seeking to hear from relevant witnesses, review relevant documents. And so if a person worked with or talked to the Russians before the election or during the transition period, especially considering that Russia attacked our democracy, then that, to me, would be a relevant person that we would want to hear from. It doesn`t mean they did anything wrong, but it means we should be able to ask questions and understand what the nature of their relationship was with a foreign adversary.

HAYES: Finally, how big of an escalation would it be if the President basically told James Comey he couldn`t testify?

SWALWELL: I think that would tell us probably everything we needed to know about whether he was trying to pressure James Comey to make the Flynn case go away or whether he was trying to make the Russia investigation go away.

HAYES: All right. Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks for joining me.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

HAYES: I`m joined now by Asha Rangappa, she`s Associate Dean at Yale Law School and a former Special Agent with the FBI`s Counterintelligence Division. I was struck by reading the article they`re considering invoking executive privilege because my first thought was, can they do that? What is the answer to that? Can they do that?

ASHA RANGAPPA, YALE LAW SCHOOL ASSOCIATE DEAN: Executive privilege is basically the President asserting immunity from a subpoena, either from the judicial branch or from Congress. And what the President would be doing here is saying, I don`t have to tell you that or, in this case, he doesn`t have to tell you that with regard to Comey. He can do it. This comes out of an idea of separation of powers and that the executive branch should have latitude to engage in decision-making without intrusion. And Presidents going back to George Washington have invoked this privilege, and it`s been recognized by the courts. But it does have limits. It`s not absolute.

HAYES: Yes. So that`s -- I mean there`s two parts of this that strike me as odd. One is James Comey is not a government official. I mean, it would be one thing if he said I want your White House Counsel to come testify or I want Jared Kushner to come and they invoke executive privilege. James Comey is a private citizen. Is he covered, or is he exempt from this?

RANGAPPA: Well, the limits of executive privilege really -- the contours that the Supreme Court laid out in United States versus Nixon, which involved a criminal subpoena for tapes from the Oval Office that Nixon refused to hand over, and they claimed a broad privilege, but that it didn`t cover things that could implicate criminal activity. So it couldn`t be a smokescreen for criminal activity. So there`s a number of shaky grounds here for the President to invoke the privilege with regard to Comey. As you mentioned, he`s a private citizen, and he`s no longer an employee. He`s not going to -- he can`t be fired for insubordination, he`s already been fired.

HAYES: Right.

RANGAPPA: So that`s done. He`s also willing to testify. So this is another difference than previous cases where executive privilege has been asserted. You actually have someone here who really wants to come and give public testimony, and that testimony has been pretty much cleared by the Special Counsel in this case. We know that he`s met with Mueller and that it should not interfere, impede with anything that Mueller is doing. But more importantly here, Chris, the heart of what he is going to testify about may go to possible criminal actions. And so there -- the President is on very shaky ground because I think you`re getting to some of those limits on executive privilege of using it as a smokescreen.

HAYES: Right. I mean so you invoke the Supreme Court case that Nixon was involved in, which was sort of the crescendo of Watergate when you try to invoke privilege to release those tapes. I guess the question is who would adjudicate this? I mean, if the President invokes it, it would go to the Supreme Court and they would rule ultimately?

RANGAPPA: No, not necessarily. So the courts really don`t want to get involved in this, to be honest. They want the -- they want the executive branch and Congress to work out some kind of compromise because they feel that those are the two branches that are best equipped to do that. So they won`t intervene unless no agreement can be reached on the issue.

HAYES: Right.

RANGAPPA: But it`s also in the interest of both of these branches, and frankly for both of these parties for this not to be litigated because once a court decides on the limits of the privilege, that applies to whichever party happens to be in the White House.

HAYES: That`s a good point. That`s a good point.

RANGAPPA: You know, it`s all fun and games when your party is in power to say that, you know, executive privilege applies. It`s not so fun when you`re not the party that`s in power. So it`s a -- it`s a double-edged sword in that way.

HAYES: All right. Asha Rangappa, thank you so much.

RANGAPPA: Thank you.

HAYES: Joining me now, Michelle Goldberg, Columnist or Slate. I keep -- every time I think to myself, well, they`re not going to do that, are they, then they do it. And just it seems to me like this would be such an escalation.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, SLATE COLUMNIST: Right.

HAYES: It would invoke so much scrutiny. It view -- it would look so wildly incriminating they won`t do it.

GOLDBERG: Sort of like firing James Comey and then saying that you did it to shut down the Russia probe, right? I mean, I think it`s very difficult to have a clear-eyed analysis because they have turned American life into this surreal dystopian farce in which no normal rules apply and everything seems like an overly on the nose take on a Don DeLillo novel. And so, maybe they will do it, right? I mean, he sort of -- I mean, he seems to be desperate and flailing and also eager to use the club of his power in the most kind of clumsy way possible.

HAYES: Also inviting more scrutiny and ratcheting up the scandal.

GOLDBERG: Right. So they`re not particularly sophisticated in the way they`re wielding power, and I think that as a Republican who said somewhere that they`re playing checkers, not chess.

HAYES: Right.

GOLDBERG: Nevertheless one thing that they don`t seem to be particularly concerned about is taking a lot of pains not to appear guilty, right? Instead, they almost seem to revel in demonstrating their impunity and kind of showing that they can have these meetings, take these actions that look suspicious and kind of inexplicable according to normal foreign policy doctrines.

HAYES: Exactly.

GOLDBERG: Right. They -- I mean, they`re sort of rubbing the majority of this country that didn`t vote for Trump, that hates Trump, that hates what he`s doing, I mean, every single day he and his administration and Republicans are just rubbing their face in their powerlessness to stop the kind of shredding of normal presidential norms.

HAYES: And there`s -- we should note one exception here, which has been a real exception. By and large, Republicans down the line have stood behind the President. They have enabled and facilitated him. They have supported him. They have looked away when he has said things that are obviously insultingly untrue. 3 million people voted illegally. Richard Burr is the Chair of that Committee and he`s the one issuing that subpoena and it`s clear the White House doesn`t want Comey to testify whether he invokes privilege or not. It shows you just how much a slight deviation from their complete unanimous support of him creates trouble for him.

GOLDBERG: Right. And then also -- I mean, who knows. But you have to think that Burr is in a position to know more about what is actually going on than some of the other people who are covering for him. You know, it`s also --

HAYES: That`s a great point.

GOLDBERG: Right. It`s so -- I mean you get the sense that you don`t -- you don`t hear from anybody who`s kind of, you know, in Congress, in these parties, who has an innocent explanation or who says, this is all overblown and eventually the truth is going to come out, right? The closer they are to the investigation and to kind of privileged information, the more alarmed they seem in many cases. And even Nunes, who`s trying to kind of carry water, is doing so in a way that suggests that he`s actually terrified.

HAYES: That is a great point that one thing you do not -- that is a great point that one thing you don`t hear from Republicans and Burr particularly is I am 100 percent confident that this will bear out entirely innocently on the President and his entire campaign because obviously, this would never happen. It`s not that. And it`s -- and it is sort of indicative that is not the word that you get from them.

GOLDBERG: You know, something interesting that didn`t get that much attention, but you had two -- you have -- you have kind of really high- level career people. I think the chief of fraud in the Department of Justice, who has just joined Mueller. People want to make or who want to make their career are joining this investigation.

HAYES: Locked into this investigation. It`s a great point. Michelle Goldberg, thank you.

GOLDBERG: Thank you so much.

HAYES: Who`s new column -- who`s afraid of a -- Michelle Goldberg who`s new column, Who`s Afraid of a Clinton Voter? was just published, you should check that out. Up next, the fallout from reports that the White House tried to ease Russian sanctions in the early days of the Trump administration. I`ll talk to the official who oversaw sanctions at the time and raised the alarms after this two-minute break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Tonight, Vladimir Putin is giving his take on reports that the Trump White House was concocting a secret plan to lift sanctions against Russia. According to Michael Isikoff`s reporting in Yahoo! News, top Trump administration officials almost as soon as they took office tasked State Department staffers with developing proposals for the lifting of economic sanctions and the return of diplomatic compounds. Washington Post reported on Wednesday the Trump administration is moving to return to Russia two diplomatic compounding in Maryland and New York, that its official were ejected from in late December as punishment for Moscow`s interference in the 2016 Presidential election. A senior White House official told Yahoo! News there is no agreement to return the compounds without concessions on Moscow`s part but confirmed the administration began exploring changes in Russian sanctions. When speaking to NBC`s Megyn Kelly at the World Economic Forum today, Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected that claim.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGYN KELLY, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: There are reports today in the American press that the Trump administration took active steps to ease sanctions on Russia almost immediately after Trump took office. Was this possibility ever discussed between the Trump team and your representatives prior to President Trump being inaugurated?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): No. I saw what was happening. To be frank, it was a great surprise. That`s just absurd what they`re saying. I don`t know where these people have come from that distribute this kind of information. My answer is no. No agreements whatsoever. We never even get down to that, never had the time to start the negotiations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Joining me now, the man at the center of it all, Ambassador Dan Fried, former State Department official who was Chief U.S. Coordinator for Sanctions Policy until his retirement in February. So you are a longtime civil servant in the State Department, and you were contacted by the politicals who had come in, appointees of the new administration. Basically, they were giving directives in the building over at foggy bottom to say, we want to look into how quickly and how we would rescind the sanctions, is that right?

DAN FRIED, U.S. COORDINATOR FOR SANCTIONS POLICY: Not quite. I never got a directive myself. What I heard from many of my colleagues throughout the government, including people who were in a position to know, I got the word that the incoming people were seriously considering a very rapid and possibly unconditional lifting of the sanctions on Russia, the ones that were put on because of Russia`s aggression against Ukraine. That struck me at the time as exceedingly odd. I wasn`t the only person hearing about this. There were a lot of us who heard about it. It was among that foreign policy community spreading like wildfire. So that was in the early days and weeks of the new administration.

HAYES: And I want to be clear here because there`s actually -- there`s a variety of sanctions actually that have been leveled against Russia in a variety of ways and this is not the relatively sort of focused and targeted sanctions that had been imposed by President Obama after the election in response to the hacking of the DNC. These are the much broader ones that apply to the -- you know, the invasion essentially of Crimea, right?

FRIED: That`s right. And we put on those sanctions with our European allies and the other G7 countries as a response to Russia`s aggression against Ukraine. And we`d be happy to take them off once the Russians have gotten out of Ukraine and the Ukrainians have their country back.

HAYES: So was there an explanation being given as to why this was being considered as this was sort of making its way around the community folks at state that Trump appointees were looking into this?

FRIED: There was no convincing explanation at all. There were two theories. One was that you just lift sanctions, and that generates good will on the part of Vladimir Putin, which is a questionable logic. The other is that it would be part of some grand bargain where they`d help us out on counterterrorism, which is also questionable logic because that cooperation probably would never show up and why would we trade off Ukraine in response for something that should be in both parties` interests?

HAYES: Let me ask you this. You know, there`s been a lot of talk among Trump supporters and in conservative media about the so-called deep state. And it`s a term that originates in Turkey, and I think it`s been kind of much abused. But there`s a -- the basic thrust of it is this. There are people that are embedded in the federal government, in the executive, who are essentially opposed to the President and opposed to his agenda and are sabotaging it, subverting it in violation of the democratic will of the American people who elected Trump President. And if they elected him to be President on a new policy of being friendly to Russia and they come in and want to lift sanctions, that`s their prerogative and folks like yourself are essentially acting as a kind of fifth column. What do you say to that?

FRIED: In the first place, I serve democrats and republicans and did so with equal energy and dedication. Secondly, a policy is -- must be respected. We take an oath to the constitution, and that means if the President had decided to lift the sanctions, if that were the administration`s policy, I and all of my colleagues would salute and carry it out to the best of our ability. But this wasn`t policy. This was an idea floating around and a spectacularly bad one. And bad ideas don`t have -- don`t have immunity. And my -- you know, what would you have us -- what would the critics have us do? Sit on our hands and not respond to a bad idea that meets no American interest I can identify?

HAYES: All right. Ambassador Dan Fried, well said. Thanks for joining us.

FRIED: My pleasure.

HAYES: And just hours ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin once again deflected the blame for the hacking of democratic campaigns in the 2016 election, telling NBC`s Megyn Kelly in an exclusive interview that it could have been anyone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PUTIN (through translator): Hackers can be anywhere. They can be in Russia, in Asia, even in America, Latin America. There can even be hackers, by the way, in the United States. Very skillfully and professionally shifted the blame, as we say, onto Russia. Can you imagine something like that? In the midst of a political battle, by some calculations, it was convenient for them to release this information. So they released it, citing Russia. Could you imagine something like that? I can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: You can catch much more of Megyn Kelly`s exclusive interview with Vladimir Putin on NBC this Sunday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on the premiere of "SUNDAY NIGHT" with Megyn Kelly.

Up next, what has apparently become the hardest question for the White House to answer, does the President believe climate change is real? There`s absolutely an answer to this question, however, and I will give it to you after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: President Trump believes climate change is a hoax. We know this because he has said it over and over again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: So Obama is talking about all of this with the global warming and the -- that. A lot of it`s a hoax. It`s a hoax. I mean, it`s a money making industry, OK? It`s a hoax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The president has tweeted climate change skepticism at least 115 times, including a claim that the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese.

So, the president has very firmly established his position on the issue and has shown no indication that he`s changed that position.

But since the president`s views tend to be malleable, let`s say, reporters have been asking the president and his aides the same question over and over again in light of the Paris decision. Does the president still believe climate change is a hoax?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe that climate change is a hoax, sir?

TRUMP: Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say whether or not the president believes that human activity is contributing to the warming of the climate?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Honestly, I haven`t asked him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

SPICER: I can get back to you on that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible 0:49) does the president believe that climate change is real and a threat to the United States?

SCOTT PRUITT, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: You know what`s interesting about -- all the discussions we had through the last several weeks have been focused on one singular issue. Is Paris good or not for this country? That`s the discussions I`ve had with the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`d like to go back to the first question that was asked and you didn`t answer. Does the president believe today that climate change is a hoax?

PRUITT: I did answer the question because I said the discussions the president and I have had over the last several weeks have been focused on one key issue. Is Paris or bad for this country?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shouldn`t you be able to tell the American people whether or not the president still believes that climate change is a hoax? Where does he stand?

PRUITT: As I indicated several times in the process, there`s enough to deal with with respect to the Paris agreement and making an informed decision about this important issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does the president actually believe on climate change? Does he still believe it`s a hoax? Could you clarify that? (inaudible 1:46).

SPICER: I have not had an opportunity to have that discussion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would it be possible for you to have that conversation with him and then report back to us at the next briefing?

SPICER: If I can, I will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: I wouldn`t hold my breath on that one. In the absence of a new answer, we must at last stick with the old one.

The president of the United States, a noted and consistent peddler of conspiracy theories about everything from millions of alleged illegal voters to President Obama`s birth certificate and Ted Cruz`s dad possibly being involved in the assassination of JFK, also believes the world`s most dangerous and destructive conspiracy theory, the one that climate change is made up, I guess, by the Chinese and that all those scientists across the world, well, they must be in on it.

So, is that why he pulled the US out of the Paris accord yesterday. Or did it have something to do with the new president of France besting him in the handshake department and then bragging about it.

I`m totally serious about that. That reporting is next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Congratulations. Great job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We don`t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore and they won`t be. They won`t be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: That ad-lib yesterday gets at the political and emotional appeal of President Trump`s decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate accord at least for some folks, a decision that is playing well with both his base and the broader GOP.

Today, Fox News is running banners proclaiming that President Trump has defied the global elite by backing out of the deal, gleefully crowing that the left and elites were melting down over the decision.

Speaking to the "Washington Post, one senior White House official characterized disappointing European allies as a "secondary benefit" of Trump`s decision.

"Post" also reporting the president was irritated after French President Emmanuel Macron described this white knuckle handshake as a moment of truth and that the president got his revenge by proclaiming yesterday "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris."

In many ways, the announcement was a classic Trump move. It looked important and dramatic and allowed the president to score points with his supporters by sticking it to those globalist elites, but it did not come with direct and immediate policy consequences or, crucially, any risk of provoking the wrath of key Republican constituencies.

Joining me now MSNBC contributor Josh Barro, senior editor of "Business Insider" who argued yesterday that withdrawing from Paris is performative isolationism and so far Trump has chickened out of pursuing real isolationism.

I thought it was really interesting. What`s your thesis?

JOSH BARRO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR AND SENIOR EDITOR, "BUSINESS INSIDER": Well, so basically, this agreement doesn`t really do anything. The Paris agreement allows countries to set their own emissions targets and has no penalty for them if they don`t abide by the targets.

So, it was a symbolic agreement basically establishing a global commitment to fight climate change. And so, when the president withdraws from it, he too is doing something symbolic. He`s expressing his intent to unencumber the United States from international agreements.

But, again, this is an agreement that didn`t actually require us to do anything. You don`t have stakeholders who really lose a lot in the way that, for example, if you pulled out of NAFTA, you would have an immense number of companies that would have -- their businesses would be harmed by doing that.

And you`d also have direct economic effects on the United States. The stock market would fall. The economy would shrink. So, this was basically a cheap way for him to sop to the Bannon side of his coalition and say, see, here I am pulling the US out of our international commitments.

This probably won`t even materially change carbon emissions from the United States. There are domestic things that he`s trying to do --

HAYES: That`s right. To be clear here --

BARRO: But even those things, there`s litigation around them. There are state-level regulations that preempt some of the federal changes that he will make. So, even there, I wouldn`t assume that he`s going to make big change.

HAYES: I would say for myself -- I would say I think there`s more teeth in the accord thank I think you do and it`s more than symbolism insofar as public binding promises, people report --

BARRO: Public non-binding promises.

HAYES: Right. Public non-binding promises. You`ll report. But the point being that there`s a degree to which you hope that sort of produces a whole set of market signals and things like that.

That aside, the point about NAFTA is really important one. Naomi Klein made a sort of a similar argument saying, if he tried to deliver on NAFTA, very wealthy powerful companies and GOP people would be at his throat in a heartbeat. With this, they can tweet, whether it`s the head of Disney or it`s Elon Musk, be like I`m very disappointed, but they`ll live. If he tried to do it on NAFTA, they would not.

BARRO: It`s that. But then it`s also real economic effects on Americans if he pulled out of NAFTA. Those who work in exporting industry -- I mean, he had a -- he came under a lot of pressure from farm state senators because the US is a huge exporter of agricultural products.

So, if you pull out of NAFTA, people think, oh well, that`s good for manufacturing workers in Ohio. And maybe, at the margin, in the long run, that`s true, but it`s bad for people who work in farming in Iowa. So, you would see direct effects not just from corporate interests, but also from various consumer sectors in the economy and from workers in various states.

HAYES: And it`s not just not how to do it, it`s, of course, which was another part of the sort of legendary promise that he was making in campaign rally. He talked about the wall a lot when he talked about Paris, global warming. Mexico will pay for it, it`s been harder to deliver on that promise.

BARRO: Right. Yes. I mean, maybe he`ll eventually get to build a small section of the wall. I mean, the wall, I don`t think like -- it`s not like NAFTA where I don`t think there`s a big financial constituency that stands to lose out a lot from the wall.

But if you want to really build the wall the way he describes it, 40 feet high along the entire border, that becomes a very expensive product.

HAYES: That`s right. You have to spend money. The point -- your point in the column which I think was important is that this was a thing he could do by literally going to a microphone and saying, I hereby, which was what was so tempting about it.

BARRO: Right.

HAYES: All the other stuff that he said he`s going to do that`s going to make -- get us out of the globalist grasp requires much more tangible deliverable.

BARRO: It`s like this thing I keep citing from the Art of the Deal, when he describes in 1982 this deal with Holiday Inn on the Atlantic City Boardwalk and he wanted them to buy into this construction project where he hadn`t really done anything, so he brings in like 100 bulldozers to dig holes and fill them back up. And he says, so long as they do a lot, it doesn`t really matter what they`re doing. This is like that. It`s a demonstration of, here I am being anti-globalist.

HAYES: Trump doctrine. Josh Barro, thanks for your time.

Coming up, tribalism in the age of Trump unpacking the right-wing joy over the president`s decision to pull out of the Paris agreement and why it`s almost exclusively because the left is upset.

And next, revisiting the Trump tax returns in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Thing one tonight, wealthy Trump supporters have been happy to hear this claim from the president yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Our tax bill is moving along in Congress and I believe it`s doing very well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: That is not true. Trump`s tax bill is most certainly not moving along in Congress because the White House still hasn`t written a tax bill.

Last month, Gary Cohn and Steve Mnuchin held a big press briefing to hand out this document, a single double-sheet of paper consisting of their ideas for tax reform.

Asked about the president`s comment today, Sean Spicer referred to the one- page wishlist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What tax bill was he referring to?

SPICER: I think, as you know, Secretary Mnuchin and Director Cohn were here a couple of weeks ago, laying out the broad principles of what they look to see in legislation. They`ve had several discussions both in the House and the Senate, bipartisan and industry groups, and I think the reception that the president`s initiative has received in both chambers is moving along very well with leadership and rank and file members.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: In short, there is no tax bill. But this tax talk reminded of something. We still don`t know the answer to this painfully simple question. Did the president of the United States file his tax returns this year? That`s thing two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: It has been 45 days since tax day, 45 days since millions of Americans filed their tax returns or officially requested an extension from the IRS. But here is something really weird. We still don`t know whether the president filed his tax returns this year or whether he filed for an extension or whether he just did nothing at all on tax day.

It`s the sort of thing that past White Houses have routinely confirmed for decades. And we asked this White House last month and expected to hear something like, yes, of course, the president filed his taxes or he filed an extension, but instead they wouldn`t answer.

We asked the White House again today and again they would not answer. Again, telling us, you will need to contact Sheri Dillon, President Trump`s tax lawyer.

Here`s the thing, we asked Sheri Dillon last month and her law firm, Morgan Lewis, refused to answer, "we have no comment." We called and emailed Morgan Lewis again today, but had not heard back.

To be clear, we`re talking about what`s in President Trump`s tax returns. We`re just simply asking whether or not he`s filed them. It`s a really simple yes or no question. And the longer that this White House and this president`s lawyer refuse to answer it, the more it makes you wonder why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: You may have seen this shared on Facebook. It`s the front page of The Weather Channel yesterday, in which every single story focuses on the dire nature of the president`s announcement to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, particularly the dire nature of the problem itself.

So what happens to Earth now? Still don`t care. Proof, you should. Antarctica turning green. California`s coast disappearing to the sea.

That was wildly shared on Facebook yesterday and there seems to be two types of Facebook posts related to yesterday`s climate Paris decision.

The posts from people who are very upset, like this one, #SoCalledPOTUSActions will drown my hometown because he`s filling the swamp, not draining it. Sad day for America. #ParisAccord.

And then, there`s a whole lot of people who seem to be relishing the victory over smug liberals. Sea levels have risen drastically today #LiberalTears.

President Trump, a little refreshment #LiberalTears.

This is largely how people are lining up on this issue. You`re either concerned for the planet or you`re happy that the liberals took it on the chin.

The debate with Susan Del Percio and Sam Seder next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: President Trump`s announcement that he is pulling out of the Paris climate accord seems to have unified the right. Even the Never Trumpers in collective delight at liberal outrage.

Here`s the Weekly Standard boiling it down. Anti-anti-Trumpism lives. Whatever the wisdom of the Paris climate accords, the left`s reaction has been ridiculous.

Joining me now, Republican strategist Susan Del Percio and MSNBC contributor Sam Seder, host of "The Majority Report with Sam Seder".

All right, Susan. I`ve been bemoaning this for a few days on Twitter. And I really -- it does really -- I find it strange and maddening that among conservatives that I like and I have interchanges with about issues like immigration and all these things, when it comes to this issue, there`s no first order engagement in the issue.

It`s all, I don`t like the liberals, I don`t like the way that liberals are smarmy about it or condescending. And it was really interesting. Conservative media`s coverage yesterday of it wasn`t about why at a first order substantive level, this is good. The entirety of the coverage was second-order coverage that liberals are upset about it. It`s perverse.

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It`s disturbing. It`s also disturbing that in the second round of coverage, all day today, Sean Spicer was asked, where does the president stand on climate change, does he still think it`s a hoax, and there was no answer.

HAYES: But why is that? As a Republican -- I understood that to be, the reason there`s no answer is because it`s not the position of the Republican Party that carbon emissions are causing the planet to warm.

DEL PERCIO: I don`t -- I believe in science. So, it`s a Republican who believes in science. Obviously, there`s climate change. It exists. It`s not a hoax. It`s a real thing.

HAYES: Seriously, I`m not saying -- it`s slightly confusing to me. If we had 52 senators in the United States in the Senate Republican Party who could just say that, we could start to get somewhere.

DEL PERCIO: But that being said -- and you can look at the Paris accord, and frankly it made no sense for him to back out except that he needed to kind of get back on track with his base because there`s -- it`s voluntary.

There`s nothing that -- however, I understand in watching that speech yesterday exactly why the president did what he did. It reinforced his 38 percent. It`s where he`s happy and it`s the only place that he can try and maneuver from.

HAYES: I think we all agree on that. And I think that it`s -- and honestly, when I see the French president trolling him or I see Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein tsk-tsk-ing him, I think to myself, that`s an added benefit for the president politically precisely because of the bizarre tribal dynamics --

SAM SEDER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: There`s no policy. There`s no substance -- this is completely performative. And the performance is this, in the same way that a lot of people voted for Donald Trump, just basically saying like, eff you. That`s what Donald Trump just went up and there said like, look, I can say eff you to the rest of the world too.

And the interesting thing is, it`s so grounded in some sense, with all due respect, not necessarily the Republican Party, but let`s say the broader conservative movement, the sense of aggrievement.

When Donald Trump said those leaders are no longer laughing at the United states of America or at America, he was actually saying they`re no longer laughing at me. And it was his personal sense of aggrievement that was playing out and was in some way an opportunity for his voters to also play out their personal sense of aggrievement.

On your show, years ago, Christine Todd Whitman was on saying, the reason why Republicans can`t get on board with climate change (inaudible 3:16) is the liberal are too mean.

HAYES: I hear this. And I just want to say, maybe that`s true and -- people in American political discourse could be total jerks to each other and that happens. I totally agree.

But I just don`t get the -- there`s this sense of hurt, a woundedness that is like obscuring any actual first order engagement of the issue. You know what I mean?

DEL PERCIO: Yes, I do. But what`s interesting is how poorly the liberals handled their reaction to Donald Trump getting out of the pact.

HAYES: Why? Because they got upset.

DEL PERCIO: No. No, no, no. Why? Because they could have been in position. They had so many business leaders. You want to hit Donald Trump where it hurts. Hit him as a businessman. You could have had all these leaders --

HAYES: But they did do all that.

DEL PERCIO: No, but the Democrats should`ve used it as a way instead of just saying, oh, it`s a shame, our country -- the sad lines and throwing that at Republicans. They could have done it from an actual informative way to help them even raise money, but show that it`s -- the president was making the wrong arguments that what he was saying was not true.

SEDER: The president doesn`t many any argument. To argue on those grounds, at this point, to say -- look, his own secretary of state wouldn`t show up there.

HAYES: I feel that (inaudible) is the most amazing part --

SEDER: I am a little bit of skeptical as to if that`s going to make a difference. I think the bottom line is the Republican Party is an entity that will not deal with this issue.

DEL PERCIO: And tomorrow, we`ll be talking about Russia. So, it almost won`t happen.

HAYES: Well, no. That, I disagree with. This is going to stay. And actually, in some ways, it`s strange to have him put on the agenda because I think that`s actually been useful in a weird way.

But I agree. I think persuasion is over on this particular issue. Susan Del Percio and Sam Seder, thank you both.

SEDER: Thank you.

DEL PERCIO: Thank you.

HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now with Ari Melber in for Rachel. Good evening, Ari.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END