Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: June 14, 2017 Guest: Sari Horowitz, Leonard Lance, Hakeem Jeffries, Jill Wine-Banks, Jennifer Rubin, Josh Barro, Jason Johnson, Daniel Hernandez
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HARDBALL HOST: Assassination attempts or assassinations I`ve skipped. So go ahead, name any other country like us, just asking. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ALL IN HOST: All right. Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes, and we`ve got absolutely massive breaking news tonight. The Washington Post reporting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating the President of the United States for possible obstruction of justice. If true, this report would confirm what was only suggested last week in testimony by fired FBI Director James Comey. This story breaking in just the last hour or so comes on the heels of an absolutely wrenching day in Washington after a gunman targeted Republican Lawmakers this morning in what appears to have been one of the most brazen acts of political violence in recent memory.
Five people were wounded, including house - Member of House Leadership, Majority Whip Steve Scalise who remains in critical condition after being treated at a local hospital. Others injured include Zach Barth a Congressional staffer, Matt Mica a Lobbyist, Crystal Griner and David Bailey both Capitol Police officers. Witnesses said the toll would likely have been far worse if Capitol Police on the scene had not responded immediately, shooting the gunman. He later died after being taken to the hospital. The suspect has been identified as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, who has a history of arrests, was charged in 2006 with assaulting a woman. He appears to have been a vocal opponent of President Trump and of Republican policies in general.
Lawmakers who left the practice early today said the man they later recognize the as the suspect had asked them whether the players were republicans or democrats. While, members of Congress here from both sides of the aisle have talked about what happened today and what comes next. First let`s turn back to the breaking news, The Washington Post explosive report that the President of the United States is currently under a criminal investigation for the obstruction of justice. Responding in a statement, a spokesman for the President`s attorney did not dispute the post report, saying only the FBI leak of information regarding the President is outrageous, inexcusable, and illegal. Joining me now, The Washington Post`s Sari Horwitz, one of the Reporters who broke this story. Sari, this would seem to confirm what James Comey appeared to indicate, what many have been sort of hinting at, but squarely you guys have nailed down that apparently Robert Mueller is looking at obstruction of justice.
SARI, HORWITZ, THE WASHINGTON POST REPORTER: Yes. You`re right. You`re right Chris, the former FBI Director in his testimony did seem to be laying out a case of possible obstruction but what we found out that, indeed, the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, has expanded, widened the investigation to look at the President specifically and obstruction of justice. And we know that there are some important interviews this week, including senior intelligence officials who are coming before him really as witnesses because of conversations they, like FBI Director Comey, had with the President about the Russia investigation.
HAYES: So these are Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, and Mike Rogers, who is the National Security Agency, previous reporting in your paper has indicated that both of these men were asked by President in a meeting in the Oval Office where he asked everyone else to leave, if they could do anything about the Flynn investigation, a kind of pattern of behavior, if true, very similar to what James Comey said about what the President did to him.
HOROWITZ: Yes. Well, no, actually what we reported was that Dan Coats, who is the Director of National Intelligence, shortly after he was confirmed, was in the meeting in the Oval Office with another official, not Mike Rogers.
HAYES: I`m sorry.
HOROWITZ: With another official. And he was asked by the President if he could do something to get Comey to back off the Flynn investigation. Again, the former National Security Adviser who had resigned, who had left because of the Russia investigation and because he hadn`t been truthful to the Vice President. That was the first incident. Then several days later, the President called Mike Rogers, the Head of the NSA, and he called Coats and asked them both - and this was documented in the case of Rogers, it was documented by his deputy - asked them if they could publicly say something to the effect that there was no evidence of collusion between Trump associates and Russian officials to affect the 2016 Presidential election.
HAYES: And both of them declined to do that. So to get - I mean, the reason this seems significant to me, and we`ve been talking to legal experts about the question of obstruction, someone I - a former Federal Prosecutor I had on my show last week said, look, you wouldn`t make this case with one witness, meaning James Comey. That Coats and the question of what the President said to Coats, which he declined to answer under oath before the Senate the other day, that you`re saying that Mueller is going to investigate him as part of this probe - I`m sorry - interview him as part of this probe?
HOROWITZ: Interview him as a witness, yes. In our report, what we say, this is not what he said. He said, Comey against Trump but in fact, it also involves conversations between Coats and the President. Coats had just become the Director of National Intelligence and also Mike Rogers - Admiral Mike Rogers the Head of the NSA with a phone call with President Trump. Now, his Deputy Richard Ledgett who`s also going to be interviewed, we`re hearing in next - in the coming days, he`s agreed to be interviewed. He documented this in an internal NSA document, the conversation the President had with Mike Rogers. And of course, Mike Rogers and Mr. Coats did not make any public statements as the President wanted them to.
HAYES: There - I wanted your respond to the President`s attorney, who says that this is - this leak by the FBI is illegal. Regarding the leak - FBI leak of information regarding the President is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal. What do you say to that?
HOROWITZ: Well, as we reported in our story, we have five sources. We don`t say where they`re from. We don`t identify where they`re from at all.
HAYES: All right. Sari Horwitz, excellent reporting and thank you for making some time tonight.
HOROWITZ: Thank you, Chris. Thanks for having me here.
HAYES: All right. Joining me now, former Chief Justice Department Spokesman Matt Miller, now MSNBC Justice and Security Analyst. The - line from the White House after the Comey testimony was the President is not personally under criminal investigation. It now appears to be the case, the President is personally under criminal investigation.
MATT MILLER, MSNBC JUSTICE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. I think we talked about the time. That was an obviously stupid statement to make because whatever Donald Trump`s status was at the time Jim Comey last told him he wasn`t under investigation, the fact that he fired Comey, the fact that now it`s come to light that he asked him to back off the Flynn investigation was going to mean he very soon would be under criminal investigation if he wasn`t already. It`s a remarkable - it was a remarkably, I think - this is dumb. There`s no other way to say it. To put all of your eggs in the basket of you know, Donald Trump was vindicated when it was very likely that within a few days, and now, six days later it turns out that he wasn`t vindicated. In fact, he is under criminal investigation.
HAYES: Now, to Kasowitz`s line, the President`s attorney that I just asked Sari about, you and I have talked before about the importance from a sort of professional ethical standpoint of investigators keeping investigations closely held because to not be prejudicial. But it`s also the case as an investigation widens, and this is something you`ve said on this show and others have said. As an investigation widens, necessarily more and more people will have knowledge of parts of it as investigators start interviewing more and more people. That, to me, is a real problem for the White House at this point.
MILLER: Yes. It`s absolutely the case. I mean, this is what happens because when you go out and start interviewing people, not only do more people know that - know about what`s happening, but they know what you`re investigating because of the questions you ask them. So when you call Dan Coats and when you call Mike Rogers and when you call Richard Ledgett and tell them we want to talk to you about your conversations with the President when he asked you to intervene, when he asked you to make public statements, it`s very clear that the President`s under obstruction of justice. And as Sari noted in the last segment, there are five people confirmed in that story. And if you look at where this investigation is likely to go now, that it`s likely to go to people like Jeff Sessions, who might have talked with the President, it seems, given that he wouldn`t answer the question yesterday. It`s likely to go to the inner - upper reaches of the White House where you have to assume that Director Mueller is going to want to know what did the President say to all of those people about the Russia investigation. What did he ask them to do? Who did he ask them to intervene with, and why? What did he tell them about why he was firing Jim Comey? And all those people are going to have to decide, do they want to take a risk for Donald Trump that they lie, that they perjure themselves and spend many years in jail for him.
HAYES: Yes. I just want to be clear about the stakes here because in some ways, much of the current issue started with Michael Flynn apparently lying to federal investigators who asked him about his calls with Sergey Kislyak and that is a felony. I mean, you - people get prosecuted for lying to federal investigators. And just to be clear here, my sense is that that obtains here, right? I mean this is an FBI investigation run by Mueller, if he`s going to you, Dan Coats, or whoever, if you are lying to him or not telling the truth under penalty of criminal sanction?
MILLER: Yes. That`s absolutely right. If you lie to an FBI investigator, if you lie on the Grand Jury and they can prove it, you will go to jail. But there`s actually another problem for White House aides and senior administration officials that regular people in the private sector don`t have which is, you know, you and I, if the FBI comes in and wants to talk about something, we can decline to cooperate. If you`re subpoenaed to the Grand Jury, you can take the Fifth. That`s not tenable for a senior White House staff. It`s generally thought that you cannot take the Fifth Amendment and continue to serve in a senior government position. I assume that will still be the case in this administration. I assume that if people aren`t willing to cooperate with the FBI, if they`re - if they`re taking the Fifth inside the Grand Jury, of they`re not willing to talk about their conversations, they have to leave the government.
HAYES: We should be clear though, that is, of course, the constitutional protection of anyone, and that pertains to anyone in the White House. No one can be compelled or forced to testify at the risk of self- incrimination.
MILLER: Yes. Everyone has that right, but not everyone has the right to work in a senior position in the U.S. government.
HAYES: Right. And there`s two avenues here, both of which they appear to have been trying to avoid, both of which would be escalations from a kind of P.R. perspective. The invocation formally of executive privilege to hide people, stop them from testifying, or fifth - pleading the Fifth. Both of those would be very problematic for the headlines they would create.
MILLER: Yes. Well, let`s just play that out in one - in one very obvious example. So Jeff Sessions, you know, wouldn`t invoke executive privilege yesterday but it`s clear that`s where he was going. He`s the Head of the Justice Department obviously. If the FBI comes and wants to do an interview with Jeff Sessions and he declines to do that interview because of this executive privilege claim either informal or because the President formally invokes it, that`s an extremely awkward position for the Attorney General. It would force Bob Mueller to subpoena him to the grand jury and force an exclusive privilege showdown where - you know, Mueller would go to an Appellate Court and you know, argue that the need for criminal information Trump`s executive privilege and that is what courts have held in the past in Watergate and as recently again in the `90s in the Clinton Cabinet Secretary investigation.
HAYES: Yes, that is the Pandora`s box they would be opening by that invocation. Matt Miller, as always, thanks for your time.
MILLER: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. I`m joined now by Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Republican Congressman Leonard Nance of New Jersey. I want to start gentleman both by saying I`m so glad you`re here. I`m so glad you`re safe. Obviously everyone in the country is pulling for your colleague, Steve Scalise and all the people that were injured today. They`re in our thoughts. They`ve been in our thoughts all day. I want to talk about the wrenching day you had, but I want to start with this news and start with you, Congressman Lance. The President of the United States, it appears, is currently under personal criminal investigation by the Special Counsel. What`s your reaction to that news?
REP. LEONARD LANCE (R), NEW JERSEY: I support Mr. Mueller in his investigation, and I think that he will do a fine job and a thorough job and let the chips fall where they may.
HAYES: What do you mean by let the chips fall where they may?
LEONARD: I want to see the report from Mr. Mueller, and I assume it will be a complete report. And I presume it will involve all aspects of this situation, Chris.
HAYES: The fact you support him, and then Congressman Jeffries, I`ll get your response as well. The fact you support him, I just want to be clear because there are many members of Congress, Republicans who have called into question his integrity, whether he`s unbiased. Louie Gohmert, who`s a colleague of yours, referred to him as dirty. You`re saying you don`t agree with that characterization. You trust him?
LEONARD: I do trust Mr. Mueller and I was the first Republican in Congress to say that Attorney General Sessions should recuse himself in any matter regarding Russia, and I think that the appointment of Mr. Mueller by the Deputy Attorney General, in his capacity as Acting Attorney General, was an excellent appointment.
HAYES: All right. Congressman Jeffries, the President`s central line from the White House post-Comey has been the President is not under personal investigation. That appears to no longer be operative. What does that mean to you?
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Well, as Leonard said, first of all, Bob Mueller is a talented law enforcement professional. He`s respected by democrats and republicans, and I`m confident that he will follow the facts wherever that may lead. It is an extraordinary development in a year of extraordinary developments and it is following the typical rhythm of a Washington scandal. You know, there`s the potential crime, in this case, possible collusion between Russian spies and members of the Trump campaign team and then there`s always the concern about cover-up. In this particular instance, it`s now gone all the way up to the top at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and there`s a legitimate question that the American people deserve answers to as to whether President Donald Trump engaged in obstruction of justice or abuse of power.
HAYES: So to follow up on that, there`s reporting from The New York Times the President was seriously considering firing Robert Mueller. Just now in the wake of this news, his son, who is obviously a noted advocate on behalf of his father, re-tweeting someone calling for the investigation to be shut down. What do you see as your constitutional duty as a member of Congress should the President try to take steps to shut down this inquiry at this point?
JEFFRIES: Well, I think the Judiciary Committee that I serve on, along with the Intelligence Committee both in the House and the Senate, have an obligation to continue to make sure that we conduct a thorough, independent congressional investigation. I support an independent commission for that purpose so that we can ultimately get to the bottom of what happened in terms of the underlying potential crime of collusion as well as any attempts to cover it up. And hopefully, this is not an issue of partisan politics. This is an issue of, you know, Americans coming together regardless of whether you`re democrats or republicans to ensure there`s a full, fair, and independent investigation and that there`s no interference with what the Special Prosecutor is doing on behalf of the American people.
HAYES: Congressman Lance, to you, is it important for Republicans on the Hill to send the signal whether publicly or privately to the White House that Republicans on the Hill would not stand for attempts to end this investigation or to remove Mueller?
LANCE: Yes. I think it is, and I`ve sent that message through this program this evening. And I do not think that Mr. Mueller should be discharged. And Chris, one wonder who`s would discharge him. I would imagine it would have to be the Deputy Attorney General, and I would imagine the Deputy Attorney General would not do that given his testimony recently here on the Hill.
HAYES: Yes. Of course, that`s correct. It would be the Deputy Attorney General. He said he wanted that. Of course in Nixon`s case from the Saturday Night Massacre, he simply fired people until he got someone who would. I want to turn now, Congressman Lance and Congressman Jeffries to what happened today. It was horrifying. I think everyone feels shaken having worked on Capitol Hill as a reporter there, I know how much everyone is sort of in each other`s space all the time. How are you feeling, Congressman Lance, about what happened today, and what has the atmosphere been like in that building today?
LANCE: It`s been very somber, very sad. Of course, we were all horrified in a bipartisan capacity on the events this morning. I know Steve Scalise. I know him relatively well, and I thought that the remarks at the lunch hour by Speaker Ryan and Democratic Leader Pelosi were eloquent. I thought the Speaker was particularly eloquent, and I think we`re coming together in this matter, and I hope of course that this never occurs again. And I think it demonstrates, Chris, that we have to try to work together, listen to other people on the other side of the aisle, and work in what is the greater good for the American nation.
HAYES: Congressman Jeffries, if I`m not mistaken, you`re playing in this baseball - softball game tomorrow night. And it`s a great - baseball game - it`s a great tradition. And you know, it has always struck me - it`s a great thing about America that even post-9/11, as security is ramped up in lots of places, Members of Congress are still accessible and approachable, and you can talk to them, and sometimes you can see them in Washington getting a cup of coffee, or they might be in your district. How important is it to maintain that?
JEFFRIES: Extremely important. This is a representative democracy, of course, Chris. And as a result of that, the people need to be able to talk to their Representatives, share their thoughts, their feelings, their concerns, and petition their government, which is their first amendment right. It`s essential to the functioning and the integrity of our democracy, and so I think despite the shocking developments, the sadness, the surrealness of the day, that democrats and Republicans remain committed to that responsibility that we have to serve the people that we represent and to be accessible. I do think that there will probably be a re- evaluation as to some of the security procedures, particularly whenever large groups of members of Congress get together such as at the republican baseball practice. Hopefully also, Chris, this will be a moment of clarity for the left and for the right, for democrats, republicans, for the White House, for Congress, for people inside the beltway and outside the beltway that we all should rethink about the need to dial down the rhetoric. We can disagree without being disagreeable.
HAYES: Congressman, you`re nodding your head, and I saw members coming out of the closed-door briefing today, republican and democrat, talking about their feelings of threat, the rise in death threats, the sort of atmosphere of the country at this time. Do you feel like you`re under threat?
LANCE: I`ve held four town hall meetings in the last two and a half months, and we had a good deal of security at the town hall meetings. I don`t feel threatened, but I`m certainly pleased that there is security. I agree with Hakeem that I think that when there are 10 or 15 members of Congress, in the future there probably should be better security. The baseball game is a tremendous tradition here. I, of course, hope that we Republicans win, and, Chris, that`s why I am not a player because I was a right fielder in grade school where I could do the least amount of damage, and I`m sure Hakeem is an excellent player, and I`m sure he will do very well for the Democrats. I will be rooting tomorrow for the Republicans.
HAYES: Congressman Lance, something tells me you had that - you have that line all ready to go. Congressman Jeffries, where do you - what is your position?
JEFFRIES: Well, I play left field. I hope to do well. No one will mistake me for Ken Griffey Jr., but we are going to compete, both democrats and republicans. May the best team win, and then we`ll all come together as Americans afterward.
HAYES: Well, I want to thank both of you for appearing jointly tonight. I felt like it was important actually, given what happened today and I do hope obviously the best for everyone and that we can maintain this kind of openness. And as you said, Congressman Lance, that people do talk to each other across different viewpoints. But I really appreciate you both coming out tonight Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and Congressman Leonard Lance. Thank you, both.
LANCE: Thank you, Chris.
JEFFRIES: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. We`ll have much more on both breaking news stories tonight. First, Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks and Paul Butler join me to talk about the reporting that President Trump is being investigated for possible obstruction of justice. That`s after this two-minute break.
HAYES: All right. We are back on what has been an absolutely huge day of news, almost overwhelming frankly. And at this hour, we continue to follow today`s two big stories, the attack on Republican members of Congress on a baseball diamond in Virginia, where four people were shot, including Top House Republican Steve Scalise. They are in the hospital at this moment. Much more on that coming up. The other big story, The Washington Post citing five sources, reporting that the man leading the Justice Department`s Russia investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who today visited Capitol Hill and who has put together what is being described as a legal dream team is - and I quote the article here - "interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice."
Joining me now to discuss that story, former Watergate Prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks and former Federal Prosecutor and MSNBC Legal Analyst Paul Butler. And Paul, I`ve had you on before to talk about obstruction, and you have been fairly clear that you thought there was a plausible case for that. How do you imagine this inquiry goes now?
PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Chris, you`re right. Every day in this story it seems like there is breaking news. But make no mistake about what happened today. The President of the United States is the subject of a criminal investigation 145 days in his term. Now, the fact that he`s being investigated for obstruction isn`t really that surprising. Director Comey testified last week that he felt ordered and directed by President Trump to stop the investigation of Michael Flynn. When the FBI Director says that, it has to be investigated.
What I think is just as revealing is the leak, that we know this investigation of the President is happening, and I think that`s a response to concerns that Trump was thinking about firing the Special Counsel Mueller. Now if he fires Mueller, that`s just more evidence of obstruction. It`s like he fired Comey, and now he`s firing Mueller. So he`s in a very difficult position. He either fires Mueller, tries to impede the investigation that way, or he lets the investigation proceed where he has, as you call, a legal dream team of prosecutors and investigators looking at everything he`s ever done. Innocent or guilty, that`s a very difficult position.
HAYES: Yes. To Paul`s point, this is The New York Times reporting. The President soon began entertaining the idea of firing Mr. Mueller even as his staff tried to discourage him from something they believe would turn a bad situation into a catastrophe. And, Jill, of course, you have some experience with this because that was the famous Saturday Night Massacre of Archibald Cox by Richard Nixon. What - I mean just legally here, it would have to be the dag that would fire him, and as Congressman Lance said earlier, Rod Rosenstein said under oath that he would do no such thing. But the President could remove him and put in place someone who would, correct?
JILL WINE-BANKS, WATERGATE FORMER PROSECUTOR: That`s exactly what happened in Watergate. The Attorney General refused, and the Deputy Attorney General refused and so he ended up firing them and then having the Solicitor General fire Archibald Cox, the Special Prosecutor. So he could remove Rosenstein and then have someone else there who would do it. But I think Paul has very clearly stated all the hurdles that he would face - that he, Trump, would face if he were to do that. It would be a catastrophe. It would lead to possibly the same reaction we got to the Saturday Night Massacre, which was the public outcry that forced the President, three days later, to reverse himself, to appoint a new Special Prosecutor, and to agree to turn over the tapes he had been stonewalling about. So the same thing could happen here, and the public could turn against Trump if he were to take such a drastic action.
HAYES: So here`s what hangs over all of this. Paul, this is to you, and I`ll get your feedback as well, Jill. You know, it`s unclear - it`s sort of not settled law whether the President of the United States can be, say, indicted, right? So if you had a finding of obstruction of justice pursuant to federal criminal code, it appears to be the case the only constitutional remedy is impeachment. So what happens, I guess? (INAUDIBLE) investigations that says, yes, we`ve got all these great investigators and you know, it`s a pretty open and shut case. He committed obstruction of justice. Paul Butler, then what?
BUTLER: So then it becomes a political determination by the Congress of the United States. So the House would impeach him, which means charge him. And the Senate would judge the case. They would decide whether to convict him or not.
HAYES: But just to be clear - just to be clear, they`re under no obligation to do so. I mean, Robert Mueller could file a report that says, here`s all the evidence that the President of the United States criminally obstructed justice. You know, under the letter of the law, there`s no legal requirement that the House initiate or the House Judiciary Committee initiate impeachment proceedings, right?
BUTLER: Well, that`s exactly right. So again, the Congressmen were saying earlier in your program whether those could set aside their partisan differences and just express fidelity to the rule of law is going to be key. One of the reasons that the President can`t be indicted, formally charged with a crime, is because we want him to focus on governing the nation. But this President, knowing that he`s in serious jeopardy of being accused at least of obstruction of justice, we really wonder how much he`ll be able to concentrate on his day to day work. At minimum, I think he`s going to now encourage his aides to exercise executive privilege to try to shut them up and prevent them from talking about their private conversations to the Special Counsel.
HAYES: Well, that`s a - that`s a great point. And, Jill, I mean, there is now exposure for everyone in that White House who works for the President. You can be an accessory to this for folks that were part of, for instance, the process that kind of pretextually created reasons to get rid of Comey that appeared not to be the real ones, right Those folks who work in the White House, they do have some legal exposure, am I correct?
BANKS: Yes, they do. And in the Watergate case, all of the top aides went to jail for participating in the cover-up. So that is a real jeopardy that they are in, and I would just add one thing to what Paul said, which was 100 percent correct. But we, during Watergate, after the indictment when we couldn`t indict the President because Archibald Cox was gone and Leon Jaworski believed impeachment was the only remedy, but we found that there is a rule that allowed a prosecutor to ask permission to release grand jury testimony and other evidence to the House for impeachment. And so we created a report which provided a roadmap to impeachment to the House. Now, Paul is right. The House does not have to take any action on that.
BANKS: They can do nothing because that is a political decision. But I think that the pressure that would be on them were there to be such a report would make it very difficult for anyone. And I hope that this Congress can come together on this issue as they did after today`s tragedy in Arlington - in Alexandria, rather. So I`m hoping for some bipartisan cooperation here.
HAYES: We`ll see what happens. That was really illuminating actually and clarifying. Thank you, both Jill Wine-Banks and Paul Butler. I really - I really appreciate it.
Coming up, much more on the two big stories of the day, including more bipartisan unity on the Hill. Stay with us.
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REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) WISCONSIN: We are united. We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.
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HAYES: Speaker Paul Ryan got an extended standing ovation for his message of unity on the House floor today. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, among others, vowed not to let this morning`s horrific violence divide members of congress or stop a long-standing bipartisan tradition, a congressional baseball game that Republicans were practicing for when they were attacked.
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REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA: Tomorrow, we`ll go out on the field. We`ll root for our team. We want everyone to do his or her very best, and we will use this occasion as one that brings us together and not separates us further.
REP. JOE BARTON, (R) TEXAS: When my son, Jack, was born, I was chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Jack got as many presents from the Democrats as he did from the Republicans. And he still has some of those.
REP. MARTHA MCSALLY, (R) ARIZONA: We all feel that we can`t let anyone, regardless of what their motive is - the investigation is ongoing. We can`t let anyone stop us from doing our work and for standing together and continuing to move forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Coming up, we talk to the young man who helped save former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords` life when she was shot in 2011.
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BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are grateful to Daniel Hernandez, a volunteer in Gabby`s office. And Daniel, I`m sorry, you may deny it, but we`ve decided you are a hero because you ran through the chaos to minister to your boss and tended to her wounds and helped keep her alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Tonight, Congressman Steve Scalise remains in critical condition after a gunman targeted Republican lawmakers this morning, shooting Scalise and three others at a practice for tomorrow`s congressional baseball game.
And joining me now with the latest is Peter Williams, NBC News Justice Correspondent. And Peter, we`ve learned quite a bit about the shooter today.
PETER WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a great deal. All except the critical question, what was he doing here, and why did he suddenly become violent?
We know he`s 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson, known to his friends as Tommy. This is a picture from an earlier run-in that he had with the law. But for the most part, the police say he wasn`t much trouble. There was an incident at his home in Belleville, Illinois, which is a suburb of St. Louis. In late March when he was out in the woods target practicing, neighbors called the police. The sheriff came and said, you got to go somewhere else. And he said, fine, and didn`t put up a fight.
At some point after that, we don`t know the exact day, investigators say, he came here to the Washington area in a white cargo van that he`s apparently been living out of ever since, sometimes even sleeping on a bench in the park where today`s shooting took place.
He showered, apparently, in the YMCA which is just across the street from the ball field. But people who came in contact with him here over the past several weeks say he never appeared to be violent. He never expressed violent tendencies, didn`t seem to be dangerous. In fact, he talked to the former mayor, who used the same YMCA, about trying to find a job.
So the motive is unclear.
Now, it is known that he had some very strong feelings about the Republican Party in general. He`s been expressing these for at least the past decade, first in letters to the editor of his local paper and then when social media became a common platform, he expressed his views on Facebook and Twitter. And he`d been quite bitter about his opposition to President Trump, used obscenities to talk about his hatred for Trump.
Just as recently as two days ago, was posting to Facebook about Trump.
And we know that he was also last year a volunteer for the Bernie Sanders campaign and also in 2011, joined the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in St. Louis.
But it`s a long trip to come here from Belleville, Illinois to Washington, and it`s also a long trip metaphorically to go from someone with strong views to someone who suddenly picks up an assault rifle and opens fire after asking a witness nearby whether the people who are playing baseball today are Republicans or Democrats.
So why he did that, why he came here, why he became violent is what the FBI is trying to figure out, Chris. And tonight they say they don`t know.
HAYES: All right, Pete Williams, thanks for joining us.
WILLIAMS: You bet.
HAYES: Before today, the most recent shooting of a member of congress took place on January 8th, 2011.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE SCALISE, (R) LOUISIANA: It is with a heavy heart today that I join my colleagues in paying respects to the victims of the senseless tragedy that took place last weekend in Arizona. I extend my prayers to the families of those who lost their lives, to the wounded, and the recovering, and to our dear colleague Gabby Giffords.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That of course was Congressman Steve Scalise on the House floor more than six years ago after Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with constituents outside a supermarket in Tucson.
Six people died that day, including a congressional aide, a federal judge, and 9-year-old girl. Congresswoman Giffords survived thanks in large part to the quick thinking of 20-year-old intern Daniel Hernandez.
And joining me now is Daniel Hernandez, now Democratic State Representative for Arizona.
And Daniel, thank you for making time. I wanted - I thought of today, and I thought of your story and wondered what your reaction, what you made of today?
STATE REP. DANIEL HERNANDEZ, (D) ARIZONA: You know the attack today on the GOP members of congress really was an assault on our democracy. And for me, it reminded me of what happened in the immediate aftermath of the shooting in Tuscon where there was a lot of chaos and a lot of confusion, but I think a lot of questions as to where do we go from here?
And I think one of the things that I heard Representative Lance say that I think was really heartening was we need to come together. So you here not just Democrats, but now Republicans - and we need to work on finding solutions, he said that he hopes that this never happens again. And I think it`s totally within the realm of possibility to prevent something like this happening again, but a hope without a plan is just a dream.
And unfortunately we`re living in an American nightmare where over 90 Americans are dying each and every single day. So, for me, hearing the news today, it broke my heart, once again, to see a member of congress, but any people being targeted and attacked with gun violence, but also it reminded me there`s so much work that we should have done, and continued to need to do to make sure this doesn`t happen again.
HAYES: I want to read what the woman you used to work for, Gabby Giffods, has to say. "If you serve the institution of congress, you`re connected to your colleagues, current and former, by a shared sense of service to ideals far greater than yourself. This shooting is an attack on all who serve and all who participate in our democracy.
And I wanted to ask you as someone who experienced this at a public event, public facing event, this horrible thing happened. And then you, yourself chose, to go into politics. And I talked to Hakeem Jeffries and Leonard Lance about how important it is for representatives to be in contact with the public. What made you decide after this happened to still want to go and be out talking to people?
HERNANDEZ: I`d always wanted to help people from the young age of about 6 when i wanted to go into health care. And having the experience with Congresswoman Giffords and other folks that taught me about the importance of public policy and the way that it impacts people`s lives, I decided that I wanted to get involved so I interned in Gabby`s office.
But after the shooting, I decided the best way for me to be able to impact people with the problems that they have every single day was to run for office at the local level. And now I`m serving as a state representative, but it really strengthened and cemented my desire to be out there talking to people. And I think it`s one of my responsibilities as an elected official as is it for members of congress to be out there in the public. We cannot segregate ourselves. We can`t silo ourselves off. We need to be out there talking to our constituents and hearing directly from them what their needs are.
And that`s why I think at some point, what Representative Jeffries said, which is we need to be talking to our constituents. We cannot be in a glass house. We need to be out there talking to folks. And I think that`s for me one of the reasons why I refuse to be terrorized. I`ve had death threats. I`ve had things happen to me over the last six years where people have said things that are not great. But that doesn`t mean that I`m going to back away from representing the folks that I got elected by, but also talking about the issues that I care about, whether it`s LGBT rights or gun violence prevention. We need folks being out there and being vocal about the things that we care about if we want to actually enact change in this country.
HAYES: All right, Daniel Hernandez, I appreciate you taking some time tonight. Thank you very much.
HERNANDEZ: Thanks for having me, Chris.
All riht, we`ve just gotten word President Trump has left the White House, is heading to the hospital to visit Congressman Steve Scalise. We`ll keep you updated on that as we get more information.
Coming up, more on tonight`s Washington Post bombshell, the president being investigated for possible obstruction of justice. Josh Barro, Jason Johnson, and Jennifer Rubin join me ahead.
HAYES: All right. We`ve just gotten word the president of the United States is en route to visit Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana, he, of course, Republican member of congress who was one of the people shot today at the Alexandria baseball diamond along with the president will be visiting two Capital police officers.
It was the presence of those Capital police officers that stopped this from becoming a massacre of incomprehensible proportions. It was only because they were there with Steve Scalise, who is in leadership. They returned fire. Ultimately they shot the shooter who died in custody. Without them there, it could have been so much more horrific than it already was.
Lots to talk about on this day. We`ll be right back.
HAYES: All right. Our coverage of two breaking news stories continues on this extraordinary day, which began with a gunman opening fire on Republican congressional members at a baseball practice. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise struck in the hip, is recovering after surgery. Three other people suffered gunshot wounds, also in recovery, some of them in quite critical condition as we understand.
Then, late today, The Washington Post reported that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the president of the United States for possible obstruction of justice.
Joining me now, Jennifer Rubin who writes the Right Turn column at The Washington Post, Jason Johnson politics editor at The Root and politics and journalism professor at Morgan State University and MSNBC contributor Josh Barro at Business Insider.
Jennifer, I`ll start with you. In some ways, this is confirmation of what had been indicated, but just to take a step back, we`re in fairly uncharted territory. There`s an active special counsel investigation of the president of the United States, a criminal investigation that`s open and that we now know about.
JENNIFER RUBIN, WASHINGTON POST: Correct. And you`re right, I did assume that this was going on, both because James Comey last week laid out a case that you could tell was an obstruction case, and because Robert Mueller of course is a very esteemed lawyer and former FBI chief and would know an obstruction case when he sees it.
This is confirmation. And I think that confirmation does a bunch of things. first of all, it should put everybody on notice in that administration that you should not abide by the president`s lawyer`s advice not to get your own lawyer, you should get your own lawyer. People should be very, very careful about telling the truth, telling the truth in public, telling the truth to investigators. This is a trap for the unwary. And lastly, I think it`s time for the people in congress on the Senate and on the House, particularly the Republicans, to put aside some of this partisanship, stop trying to throw sand in the gears here and ask real questions of the witnesses and do their job.
HAYES: Josh, you had a contrarian take the other day about Republican behavior on Capitol Hill, which is that actually you said they have been more adversarial or more willing to exercise oversight of a Republican president than you would have anticipated, explain.
JOSH BARRO, BUSINESS INSIDER: Or at least, you know, they certainly could be doing a lot more to hold Trump accountable, but they could also be doing a lot less.
I mean, if you`d look, and you know, we`re what 150 days into this administration, the amount of damaging hearings that have been held on the Hill, the hearing that was held with Comey and such., and in some cases with fairly aggressive questioning, especially from Richard Burr and then also from some other members on the Senate intelligence committee.
They don`t even have to have these hearings.
HAYES: Right. I mean, that`s the key to me, the chairs have had hearings that if they were maximally falling in line wouldn`t even have seen the light of day.
BARRO: I think to some extent they would have liked to be covering for the president more, but the president has made it difficult for them, I mean, especially by firing James Comey he made - because he made it look so obvious that he was trying to interfere with the investigation, it was hard for people like Richard Burr to come wake up a plausible reason as to why they would be slow walking it.
And so, you know, their willingness to carry water for president is not infinite, and if it becomes embarrassing enough for them to not hold the hearing than they have to hold the hearing.
HAYES: Well, and that connects to Jennifer`s point to - because in many ways this now moves. We don`t know what`s going on in the special counsel, right, somewhat black box. But it does move to congress, because the question I asked Leonard Lance, we all know the president was thinking about firing Robert Mueller, which, if you know, if you follow Donald Trump for a week you would know that. If you watched him fire James Comey.
But, of course, that ultimately, it`s like the boundaries for all this action ultimately what will congress abide and what they won`t.
JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT: It`s a political question.
JOHNSON: A lot of this is how bad does it have to get for the Republicans in the House, since the impeachment has to start there, to say we have got to get rid of this guy. It`s getting too much of a problem. Will it take the 2018 elections? Will it take being wiped out? Will it just take an additional scandal? That`s really what we`re looking at here, because the evidence seems to be pretty clear. We already knew that Trump was under investigation the moment that James Comey said, oh yeah, I already gave that stuff to Mueller. So, the question is whether the Republicans want to get ahead of this or wait until all the shoes drop and they might get crushed by it.
HAYES: Although, part of what`s so strange about all this, and it makes it strange for everyone`s behavior at the heart of this is, when you go down to what the basic, Jennifer, core facts are, what did the Russians do, in terms of just what their efforts were in the campaign, which appear to be quite extensive, did they receive any aid or help from U.S. persons, or those persons associated with the Trump campaign, did the Trump campaign collude in any way or were they infiltrated in any way? The entire facts of that, most of those are still hidden. And everything that is out in the open on the obstruction question is sort of there for us to see.
But any Republican member of congress or anyone operating in this political environment is doing largely blind.
RUBIN: Yes. And this really is the edge that the cover-up can be if not worse at least more visible than the underlying crime. I would say, however, that the Republicans have lots of constructive things they could be doing if they wanted to get to the heart of this. And one of this is investigating his financial ties and getting to the bottom of the emoluments problem, which does intersect with the Russian problem.
What money does he have coming in? Who did he have dealings with? Did he really not have any deals with the Russians? What did he know or not know about Mr. Flynn and his association with the Russians?
So, there could be a variety of other forum in which congress could get involved.
I would say there was a third event today that in any other day would have been unremarked upon, but today of all days, it was probably third or fourth down the list. And that is Senator Grassley, who has been a much more fervent advocate of the president and defender has agreed to open hearings in the Senate judiciary committee on the firing of James Comey. And that is also a big development, that`s another committee, and that is really pretty much in parallel with an obstruction investigation by the special prosecutor.
HAYES: And to that point, the question here in terms of all the parties involved, is how does the White House -- is the White House able to maintain discipline on the president to not essentially do something catastrophic, right, because ultimately he has been his own worst enemy in the behavior that he has himself -- this story is a story because the president of the United States fired James Comey for what appeared blatantly contextual reasons.
BARRO: Right, but the problem with protecting the president from himself is that for Robert Mueller to keep his job the president has to wake up every morning and decide not to fire Robert Mueller. For him to lose his job, the president only has to wake up once and decide that this is the day he`s going to fire Robert Mueller.
There was reporting I think it was The New York Times, Maggie Haberman basically about people keep asking, you know, why aren`t people telling the president no? And the answer is people are telling him all the time. He`s not listening to them. And they`re telling him no increasingly because they become more alarmed. But just because his staff tries to protect him from himself doesn`t mean he`ll listen to them consistently.
JOHNSON: One of the other things that comes into lay, you`re going to see a whole bunch of people sort of updating their LinkedIn profiles right now, because if you`re in the White House you`re thinking, look, the little things, the little favors that I`ve done for this president, the ways that I`ve assisted him, I could get wrapped up in this dragnet. I don`t want to be involved in this anymore. It`s going to have a lot of people flip on him.
HAYES: Someone once told me almost every administration sees someone go to jail. It`s very easy to break the law in the White House, even if you`re very careful and this White House has not been careful.
I want to talk about what happened this morning and the sort of resonance of that. And you know we`re hearing all this, you know, when watch this develop in our extremely polarized atmosphere, it can be sort of exhausting and dispiriting in that there`s immediately the sort of blaming and there`s look for who is the villain and sort of connection from normal politics, like Bernie Sanders, he volunteered for Bernie Sanders, to ghastly attempted murder.
It seems to me actually -- well, I guess, Jennifer, I want to know what you think about this. I think it`s important, my view of this, it`s important to draw the line between speech, even if it`s rabid, even if people scream at their members of congress whether they`re in the Tea Party and the, quote, resistance and violence. And that`s a hard line that it`s really important to maintain and not do too much connecting between those two.
RUBIN: Yeah. I think there are two ideas that are somewhat intentioned. On one hand, we have a president who has just plowed down democratic norm after democratic norm. He incited violence at his rallies. He has been someone who has not respected the peaceful operation of democracy. And you do want to put a stop to that, you do want to condemn that.
On the other hand, and this is important, people who do this really are not simply acting as a political actor, there`s something terribly disturbed, terribly wrong, terribly evil about them. And you have to separate those people from even irresponsible speech by the president or irresponsible speech in congress.
So, I think we want a robust democracy, even one we don`t like very much how people are conducting themselves. And on the other hand, make sure that we have a correct, appropriate, sober response when these horrible events happen.
HAYES: And Jason I think it`s important for folks that are liberals, opponents of the president whatever, to just sort of force themselves through the exercise of the shoe were on the other foot in this circumstance. Well, that had nothing to do with me, because obviously I find this horrendous. And those aren`t my - I would never do something like that, would you extend that sort of basic framework were it someone else? And that seems to me like a really important exercise for everyone to go through just emotionally and cognitively in this atmosphere.
JOHNSON: Yeah, I completely agree. And I think another thing that is in play here, this is a guy who abused women. HE has a violent background in general.
I think the lesson I hope we all learn from this on the right and on the left, and I think - you know, think and praying for Steve Scalise to be okay, is that we oftentimes, politicians will make compromises rhetorically for votes or for policy and not recognize how it could exacerbate these kinds of issues.
Steve Scalise has his own issues with people he`s (inaudible) in the past. He didn`t do that because he`s a white nationalist, he did it because he was trying to get votes. And sometimes politicians do these for votes and don`t recognize it could activate those kinds of people.
HAYES: Yeah, I guess so. But I just think that`s dangerous thinking in some ways, right. I think like this idea of activating to me is like that you start to sort of hem in what - it`s a free country. What you should not do is incite violence, to Jennifer`s point, that has happened. But that to me it`s just important to hold that line between incitement and speech and action.
BARRO: Right. The thing I`m afraid of and the thing that I think members of congress are afraid of, which I think is why they were very nice to each other today and sort of came together about this, is it`s not so much the rhetoric as the increased agitation among the public not just the sense that the government is doing things they don`t like, but that when the other side wields power it is doing so in an illegitimate way, that the government is not responsive to voters, that things are rigged. And I think when you have public sentiments like that, when people believe that normal politics doesn`t work, then people can become more inclined...
HAYES: I definitely think there is something to that.
Jennifer Rubin, Jason Johnson, and Josh Barro, thank you all.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show, which I`m going to go watch right now starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END