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All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 7/7/17 Trump meets Putin

Guests: Christopher Hill, Jonathan Sanders, Alyona Minkovski, Maxine Waters

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: July 7, 2017 Guest: Christopher Hill, Jonathan Sanders, Alyona Minkovski, Maxine Waters

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: None of that today. None of it, let`s pray, ever. That`s HARDBALL for now, thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: President Putin and I have been discussing various things.

HAYES: President Trump meets President Putin.

TRUMP: It`s an honor to be with you. Thank you, thank you very much.

HAYES: Russia says the American President accepted a full denial of election interference. Both sides agreed to put it behind them.

REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATES: There was not a lot of relitigating of the past.

HAYES: Tonight, what we know about everything that happened when Vladimir Putin met the Donald Trump behind closed doors.

Then, springing the track.


HAYES: The fallout from Rachel Maddow`s report on Trump-Russia forgeries as a weapon to discredit investigations.

MADDOW: We don`t know who`s doing it but we`re working on it.

HAYES: And the man running ethics oversight for President Trump suddenly resigns.

WALTER SHAUB, OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS DIRECTOR: You don`t hear about ethics when things are going well.

HAYES: My exclusive live interview with Walter Shaub when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from Chicago, I`m Chris Hayes. Today Donald Trump met the man U.S. Intelligence Agencies say personally directed a Russian campaign to influence the election on Donald Trump`s behalf. There are conflicting accounts of what the Russian and American President said to each other on the subject of election interference, but tonight, one thing is clear. Both men agreed that they want to forget all that and move forward. The remarkable apparent first meeting between President Putin and Trump taking place at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.


TRUMP: We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, the United States and for everybody. It`s an honor to be with you.


HAYES: The two leaders appeared chummy throughout the day. President Trump even sharing a laugh with Putin who has been accused of having journalists killed about, the American reporters covering their meeting.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you everyone.


HAYES: The two met behind closed doors for more than two hours and afterward, the only other U.S. official present, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, claimed that President Trump had aggressively pressed Putin on election interference.


TILLERSON: The President opened the meeting with President Putin by raising the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election. They had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject. The President pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement. President Putin denied such involvement as I think he has in the past.


HAYES: But Tillerson`s counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emerged from the meeting with a very different story.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (via translator): President Trump has said that he has heard clear declarations from Mr. Putin that Russian leadership and Russian government has not interfered in the elections and he accepts these -- the things that Putin -- M r. Putin has said.


HAYES: He accepts this. Administration official told NBC News that Lavrov`s comments were not accurate, although that`s an unnamed official. And while we have no way of knowing exactly what was said in private, we do know what President Trump said on the matter in public.


TRUMP: I think it was Russia but I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.

HAYES: That was yesterday. In his remarks today, Rex Tillerson seen here getting the Russian order of friendship from Putin in 2013 said, that when it comes to election interference, Presidents Trump and Putin aren`t focused on the past.


TILLERSON: I think what the -- what the two Presidents, I think rightly focused on is how do we move forward. How do we move forward from here`s because it`s not clear to me that we will ever come to some agreed-upon resolution of that question between the two nations.


HAYES: But many accounts indicate that Russian election interference hasn`t stopped either here or abroad and it doesn`t appear to be just elections. We learned yesterday, for example, that Russians are suspected of hacking the nuclear sites in the U.S., a topic that it appears did not even come up. Joining me now, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill. Ambassador, your reaction to the news that came out of today`s meeting.

CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO IRAN: Well, first of all, I think it was a pretty successful meeting by all accounts. I was not frankly very astonished but President Trump talked about the hacking and Putin denied it and President Trump seemed to have said OK, let`s move ahead. But what I thought was interesting about the meeting was, it appears that Rex Tillerson had a good day. I mean, he showed that he was able to kind of put his imprinter on some of the work they`re doing especially that deal. However, it finally works and out Syria.

HAYES: Right, I mean, the sort of big takeaway from today there -- the announcement of U.S., Russia, Syria ceasefire in Southwest Syria if I`m not mistaken. It seems to me that that`s been in the works for a while in some ways, that has been a big thing that Trump has signaled for a long time and the folks around him that basically a U.S. posture towards working with Russia against ISIS and fundamentally being fine with Assad staying.

HILL: You know, I think ultimately, that is the idea the problem is the Trump administration still hasn`t kind of told us what is their goal in Syria. They don`t seem to indicate that -- you know what do we want? Do we want a unitary state? Do we want a -- you know, a parliament system? What are the kinds of things we want in Syria? And when we can kind of define that, and maybe harmonize those with other players, including frankly Russia, then I think, we have a better chance of making that cease- fire hold. But I think it was a sort of a small step ceasefire in a pretty small area in southwestern Syria. And I think they`re just trying to see if they can start process there. I must say though, it`s really deafening silence on the issue of North Korea. I don`t think Russia gave us anything at all even though frankly, I mean if someone pointed a nuclear missile at them, they`d know what to do about it. So, I`m a little disappointed at how that conversation apparently is turning out.

HAYES: The other issue I have, and I would be curious to your response to this. I mean, it just seems to me that there`s not a particularly reliable narrator frankly for what happened in that room. And we have -- we have contrasting versions of what happened. And you know, there`s a sort grain of salt that it appears you have to kind of take all accounts with.

HILL: You got it. And you know, it`s not unusual to get two different readings of a meeting. Lavrov and his you know, customary charming way said something that was quite at odds with what his counterpart Rex Tillerson said. But you know, Chris, that is why they have things called note takers. And note takers sit there on the side of the room and they take notes. And so, apparently, President Trump didn`t want anyone else in the room because I guess he looks at every note taker and thinks of that person as being a leaker but there are reasons why you have note takers.

HAYES: There was a moment I want to play that really jumped out at me and a lot of people as a sort of jokie moment between President Putin and President Trump. Take a listen.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, everyone.


HAYES: That`s Putin leaning over and saying to President Trump, these are the ones that insulted you, pointing to the press corp. Given the fact that numerous journalist in Russia have been murdered in cold blood, and often thought to be partly at the hands of Putin or his surrogates, what did you make of that moment?

HILL: Well, to be frank, these two leaders have raised tastelessness to an art form and it is kind of appalling that Putin would do that. And you know, frankly, I think our President needs to kind of be reminded now and again that there is a little dignity to this business and he`d better lay off the U.S. press. It just doesn`t play well overseas; it doesn`t play well in this country either. But in this country, it`s kind of a mosh pit on everything. But overseas, I don`t think he should be playing that game.

HAYES: You know, the posture seems to me from the White House here, from Tillerson and from the President is basically -- and it seems to me what the Russians want as well. Let`s just sort of cabin that whole unpleasantness around the election. Who`s to say what really happened and work together on mutual areas of shared interest which you know, again, fine for the latter part. But you do wonder what that means for what other future operations the Russians may undertake.

HILL: Well, fair enough. You know, there`s an old adage that you know, lawyers look backwards and diplomats look forward and I think Tillerson is trying to figure out what can be done as he looks forward. But, you know, it`s pretty appalling issue where if it is true, if Foreign Minister Lavrov`s comment that President Trump accepted Putin`s explanation, then you kind of -- you kind of wonder, is he putting more faith in the word of the KGB than in the CIA? So yes, there are big problems here. And I don`t think we can let this go. Now, Tillerson was suggesting we come up with something and I think he was hinting at the fact that you know, we`re all a little concerned about what`s going to happen in the 2018 elections if the Russians were just sort of warming up in2016. But I think this is obviously quite an assault on Russia`s part on our process. And I think we really have to be not only extremely vigilant but really, really pushed back with the Russians. And you know, President Obama did that with a few -- a few sanctions at the end there, but frankly, this is a lot more serious than whether or not they get to use a sort of weekend house in New York.

HAYES: All right, Ambassador Christopher Hill, thanks for being with me tonight.

HILL: Thank you.

HAYES: Joining me now, Moscow-born journalist Alyona Minkovski, and the former CBS News Moscow Correspondent, Jonathan Sanders. And Jonathan, I`ll start with you as someone who covered Russian politics and Putin specifically. What do you think he was looking for out of this meeting?

JONATHAN SANDERS, FORMER CBS MOSCOW CORRESPONDENT: He got everything he was looking for, Chris. First of all, the sentence, the two Presidents, so he looked Presidential. He was on a national, international stage as an equal to the most powerful man in the world. His probe to do something in Syria has turned out to be quite beneficial for him. When they sent the Russian Army into Syria, President Obama said that it`s going to be a quagmire. That quagmire is leading to a de-escalation and a peace process, and the very steps being taken have three routes. One is the Astana, that`s a name of city in Kazakhstan where they started negotiating deconflictization. Two is what John Kerry was doing in the very last days of the Obama administration. And three is the dialogue after the shoot down of the Syrian plane that went on between the American military and the Russian military. That`s leading to the beginning of the end of the war in Syria that`s going on for seven years and claimed 400,000 lives. That`s a significant step forward. Putin didn`t get everything he wanted. We didn`t hear Putin saying anything to Mr. Trump about American exercises, military exercises in the Baltic States, something that has really annoyed a lot of Russians. So it wasn`t a perfect day for both sides but it was a big plus for Mr. Trump, Mr. Putin, Mr. Tillerson, and always for Sergey Lavrov and this does something to pierce the cold war atmosphere that has been whipping around us for so long, especially whipping around us on cable news programs.

HAYES: Alyona, the idea of meddling, which is this word that keeps coming up. There`s an interesting statement that Tillerson said about you know, we sort of agreed not to meddle in each other`s internal affairs. And I know, this has been -- this has been something both the Chinese and the Russians have been really laser focused on. The U.S. should basically keep its mouth shut about anything that`s happening internally in Russia. And that seemed to me like a sort of takeaway for Putin, something that he has long sought.

ALYONA MINKOVSKI, RUSSIA TODAY HOST: Right, I feel like that is a pretty standard response when it comes to Russian politics. As they`re like to point to what the United States has done around the world whether it be meddling in other countries, electoral processes, regime change, things like that. and so this was an opportunity for Russia to say the same thing. I`m honestly -- I mean, I`m surprised that Trump actually brought up the election hacking issue. You know, one hand, you have to realize that no matter what he would have done, people here are going to be skeptical of him, right, because there have been so many questions around this administration. So what would have been enough to bring it up in a more forceful manner rather than just saying, OK, we discussed it, let`s move on? My other question or other point that I want to make here too is that we need to come up with a different way of talking about being tough with Russia on that issue. That is what people want because sanctions just don`t work. And Jonathan, you would know this, you spent a lot of time in Moscow. The way that Russians respond to that type of pressure or chiding from the international community, is to just keep doing it, is to turn inward --

HAYES: Right.

MINKOVSKI: -- and to become even more stubborn.

HAYES: Well, that may be true in terms of popular perception and obviously sanctions have drawbacks. But it`s also the case that the layered sanctions particularly those directed at Russia after Crimea have created significant hardship, even upper rungs of Russian society, the Magnitsky Act as well. And it`s been very clear the Russian state wants those lifted. I mean, they don`t --

SANDERS: And Chris, they`re on their way to being lifted if the very smart move we saw Tillerson trot out just before the meeting, that they`ve appointed a special representative to deal with Ukraine on the (INAUDIBLE) eastern regions and to begin to negotiate that. And the man is supposed to be in Moscow coming up. That`s a very clever way to push this forward.

HAYES: Right, but -- OK.

MINKOVSKI: I don`t -- I don`t see how -- I don`t mean to interrupt you, Chris. I don`t really see how that`s possible given the political dynamics that Donald Trump is facing here at home with Congress wanting to tie his hands on sanctions. Russians went in knowing that that was a nonstarter.

HAYES: I mean, the issue -- the issue --

SANDERS: Not today, not tomorrow, but in six months, perhaps.

HAYES: Well, that`s the question, right? I mean, everyone -- there`s sort of concrete things the administration can do that Putin would like to see them do. Give back for instance as a sort of starting point, those two compounds that were seized as kind of retribution for the election activities and then eventually lifting sanctions. We`ve seen it start in Syria. There`s -- as Alyona said, tremendous pressure because again at the corner of all this is this very big unresolved issue, Jonathan which is that there was a sustained and sophisticated effort to criminally sabotage a campaign in the U.S. and one that has not been resolved or foresworn in any way. And it just seems hard to move on to other issues to the degree that`s just sort of left hanging out there.

SANDERS: Chris, when the hearings began, Senator Warner said, oh, my, this is like propaganda on steroids. What`s the surprise, propaganda or steroids? The Russians have been interested in doing things in American elections since 1920. It was ham-handed before, now digital technology has changed things. We have to ask the basic question underlying this. Why are they so good at hacking? Why are they so good at cyber warfare? And why are we not particularly up to snuff and up to speed? And the scary answer Chris, may be that their math education system is far superior to ours.

MINKOVSKI: I think you have a good point there, right, in terms of human resources and people who are skilled at this. Russia is very rich that way.

HAYES: Right, true. Although that sounds you know, uncomfortably close to blaming the bank for being robbed. I mean, the fact of the matter is, like we know that these things -- this things can happen, right? You can penetrate all sorts of inboxes and people get good at this. But there`s a violation here it seems to me that remains massively unresolved. And it does seem hard back to your point, Alyona from the context of any political situation that`s going to move forward in this relationship. It can`t just hang around as an unresolved thing and expect the politics of the issue to change. Alyona Minkovski and Jonathan Sanders, thank you, both for your time tonight.

MINKOVSKI: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Ahead, did President Trump agree to disagree with Vladimir Putin on Russia`s involvement in election meddling, Congresswoman Maxine Waters on the conflicting reports and the reaction from Capitol Hill after this two- minute break.



REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), HOUSE SPEAKER: The fact is, we do know that Russia tried to meddle in our election. It didn`t make a difference but nevertheless, this is another country trying to meddle in an another country`s election process. We all know that Russia is trying to meddle with Democracies.


HAYES: Even Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan can admit that what`s been so hard for President Trump to acknowledge that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. According to the Russian version of what happened in a closed-door meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin today, the President accepted Putin`s denial of any involvement in the election prompting Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to tweet, "giving the equal credence to the U.S. Intelligence Community`s findings and Putin`s assertion, it`s a grave dereliction of duty and will only encourage Russia." As to what else came out of the hours-long meeting, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the two countries agreed to set up a "working level group to explore cyber issues and election non-interference.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California, and Congresswoman, I guess first your response to this idea of a working group between the U.S. and Russia to explore election interference or cyber security.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, you know, I hope that the American people won`t fall for that kind of, you know, putting together of some kind of commission to deal with you know, hacking. And that`s what you know, they`re describing. As a matter of fact, I think Americans should be very, very concerned that this President sat down with Putin who we know hacked into our election system to the DNC, and to many of the states that are now coming forward with this information. And to sit down with him and not have a real discussion, a real conversation and delve into real concerns about what`s happening and get a commitment from Putin that they would never do it again, Americans want to hear that kind of conversation. Obviously, this President went into the room, he brought it up because he had to. There was so much pressure, leaving you know, America from the media and everybody else, he could not afford to go into that room and not pretend that he was dealing with the issue. But he really didn`t deal with it. He took it up first, it was dismissed and Tillerson said it was intractable, now let`s move-on. And this thing about a commission and also, about you know, what they`re going to do with Syria and having some kind of cessation of the war there. well, you know, I don`t know if Putin is in a position to absolutely negotiate and make all the decisions for Syria, not that I care about Assad but I would assume that he would have something to say about it. So I think we`re getting played -- we`re getting played by our President and certainly, we`re getting played by Putin. I don`t like the idea that our President, again, would go into a room without any note takers, without any staff, without others who should be in the room who really understand foreign policy and who really understand Putin. And come out of it you know, saying how honored he is, you know, to meet with him and how in fact they`re going to start working together. This is all about lifting those sanctions. And of course, Tillerson was in the room because that`s at the top of his agenda, to lift those sanctions so that they can drill into the Arctic. So you have Trump who is agreeing to lift in the sanctions and Tillerson with the Foreign Minister of Russia of course who is supporting whatever Mr. Putin wants to do and whatever his country wants. And so that`s what this is all about.

HAYES: The previous guest we have was Jonathan Sanders who`s saying that he expected those sanctions to be lifted in six months. I want to ask you about a very strange thing that happens right before the meeting. Out of nowhere, the President issuing this statement, "everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and CIA. Disgraceful" matters a number of error there. John Podesta didn`t have control of that server, he wasn`t at the DNC, the CIA never requested it. nevertheless, John Podesta called in the "HARDBALL" to respond. I want to play that to you and get your reaction.

WATERS: All right, thank you.


JOHN PODESTA, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF HILLARY CLINTON`S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I don`t know what he`s talking about. I had nothing to do with the DNC, I was the Chair of the Clinton campaign. I`m certainly never asked by the FBI and I don`t know anything about what the DNC did but they`ve said they fully cooperated with the requests that the FBI made. So if this guy is unhinged and I think he is under so much pressure from this Russian investigation that when he is in the corner, all he does is he strikes back and he doesn`t care about whether anything is true or not true.


HAYES: What did you make of that statement from the President?

WATERS: Well, he doesn`t know the difference between what Podesta`s role was with Clinton and with the DNC. He really doesn`t get all of that. In addition to that, what he thought he was setting up was this proof that we have no proof. And that`s what Putin has said and that`s what he continues to say. It`s almost in your face, well, you can say what you want but you don`t have any proof. And I think this President Trump was playing into that and trying to say, well, you know, they have proof if they wanted to share but they wouldn`t let us see it so they must not have any proof. I think that`s what this all about. And he thought when he did that, that he was nailing Podesta because he had control of the DNC and the server at the DNC. So we can just dismiss that as another Trump not knowing what he`s talking about, not knowing what he`s doing, and trying to give some cover to Putin. That`s what that`s all about. Again, people, we must keep our eye on these sanctions. First of all, the United States Senate has passed legislation, very strong legislation on sanctions. We must support that because Putin didn`t just the want Trump elected because he didn`t like Hillary. It is because he knew that Trump would be a part of helping to lift those sanctions and I call the Kremlin clan all of those allies of the President who will benefit from it --

HAYES: Right.

WATERS: -- who have indicated their connections to Russia and to Putin and to the oligarchs. And so they`re trying to play us. But we should not buy into anything that we`ve heard happened because we don`t really know and he does not want us to know. He wants us to be in this position where we`re trying to figure out what they said and we can`t be sure what they really talk about. But it`s not substantive and we have to keep our eyes on sanctions.

HAYES: All eyes are going to be on sanctions I think, Congresswoman, I agree with you there. Thank you for joining me tonight.

HAYES: You`re welcome.

Coming up, the Head of the Ethics Office is stepping down after repeated clashes with the Trump administration. I`ll ask him why he`s leaving now in an exclusive interview. Don`t go anywhere.



TRUMP: I could actually run my business. I could actually run my business and run government at the same time. I don`t like the way that looks but I would be able to do that if I wanted to.

I could run the Trump organization, great, great company and I could run the company -- the country. I would do a very good job but I don`t want to do that.


HAYES: From the moment he was elected President, the big question was how Donald Trump, the country`s first real estate mogul President who to this day has not released the tax returns would resolve the vast potential conflicts of interest stemming from his private business. In late November, the Office of Government Ethics, a little-known federal wash dog tweeted to then President-elect, "Brilliant, divestiture it is good for you, very good for America. OGE applauds the total divestiture decision. Bravo! OGE is delighted that you`ve decided to divest your business, right decision." Of course, the President-Elect hadn`t really decided to do that and the man behind those tweets attempting to goad him to do so was revealed to be the Director of OGE, Walter Shaub who would go on to become the lone voice inside the federal government publicly taking a stand against corruption in the Trump administration or at least the appearance thereof and risking his job to do it. After the President announced he would not divest from his business, instead turning over control to his sons, Shaub condemned the decision in a public speech.


SHAUB: Stepping back from running his positions is meaningless from a conflicts of interest perspective. This is not a blind trust. It`s not even close. The only thing it has in common with the blind trust is the label, trust. Nothing short of divestiture will resolve these conflicts.


HAYES: And that prompted Jason Chaffetz, then Chairman of House Oversight Committee to threaten an investigation not to the President but of Shaub and drew a warning from the incoming White House Chief of Staff.


REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The Head of the Government Ethics ought to be careful because that person is becoming extremely political, apparently may have -- may have publicly supported Hillary Clinton. So I`m not so sure what this person in Government Ethics, what sort of standing he has any more in giving these opinions.


HAYES: But Shaub continued to take on the Trump administration centering Kellyanne Conway for hawking Ivanka Trump`s products on TV and forcing the White House to disclose numerous ethics waivers they granted to senior staff. Now six months before the end of his term, Shaub is stepping down from his post and joins me right here for an exclusive live interview next.



REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, (R) UTAH: All I really wanted is I want the person who heads up the government of government ethics to be ethical. And right now I don`t see that. I see him taking positions that he has not even looked at. He seems to be in the spin room from the Democratic side of the aisle.


HAYES: Joining me now is that person, Walter Schaub, now the outgoing director of the Office of Government Ethics. And thanks for making time.

Let me start with this, because I think it is important to sort of lay this down. What is your job? What are you tasked with doing at OGE?


The Office of Government Ethics is the prevention mechanism for the federal government. We work with the administration, we work with not only presidential appointees, but also rank and file employees in the federal government. We help then disclose their financial interests and resolve conflicts of interest. So, we`re there to solve problems in advance. And that`s what I`ve been doing under three president now, and I`ve really enjoyed the job.

HAYES: So, you`ve done it under three presidents.

Now, there`s kind of guardrail function you`re playing, right. I mean, my understanding is this grows out of the after effects of Watergate. And the idea is you guys are there because there are criminal statutes, there are criminal conflict of interest laws, that people might violate in the federal government and you`re there to kind of protect them from doing that essentially.

SCHAUB: That`s right. As I said, we`re the prevention mechanism so we`re really helping to set people two steps back from the line so that they don`t commit inadvertent violations. Hopefully, only inadvertent. Because these are extremely complicated laws. They`re nuanced and frankly they`re always passed after the last crisis, so they don`t always fit together very well.

And our job, in many cases is to serve as the translator of them, and also to help find ways to make them work together and we have a really big education function to help try to ensure that federal employees, or political appointees, understand the rules. And we often work very closely with them to prevent those kinds of problems.

HAYES: So, you said you served under three presidents. How different was this administration, in your experience, than the other two?

SCHAUB: Well, I have only got really good things to say about the ethics program that President Bush ran and the ethic program that President Obama ran. We got off to kind of a good start initially with this administration because he had picked an the excellent transition team, and we worked other service provider, agencies, and an outside nonprofit group to bring the two campaign`s transition teams together and work them and help make sure they were ready for the transition. And I have to say I had a great respect for the people on both of those teams.

The morning after the election I sent a congratulations email to the winning team, and I sincerely told them I was really looking forward to working with them. I got a very nice message back from them saying that they felt supported by OGE and were looking forward to getting down to the task at hand.

And then they were replaced with our current counsel to the president.

And since then I would say the ethics program has been a very serious disappointment in the White House.

HAYES: What do you mean by that?

SCHAUB: Well, the ethics program -- and I have to back up a little to explain -- the ethics program is a compliance based program in many ways in the sense that we have very basic bare bones criminal laws, civil laws, and administrative regulations, that say here`s the absolute minimum you`re going to do. But that`s just the skeleton. And the meat of the program has been the ethical traditions and norms of the program that`s evolved over 40 years.

And we`re able to say, in most cases, that we have the gold standard of ethics programs internationally. And that federal employees are not just merely not criminals, and that presidential appointees are not merely avoiding violating laws, but they go further and comply with those traditions.

An example is that with presidential nominees, the primary criminal conflict of interest statute merely says you can`t participate in something where you have a conflict of interest. So, Chris, you could come into government and keep all of your conflicting financial interests and not run afoul of that law if you were will to put your feet up on your desk and read the newspaper all day long and do your job.

But that`s unworkable. And so we take a risk management approach where we have people divest things. We set up other mechanisms to prevent conflicts of interest and we set them two steps back from the line.

But the consistent approach that I`m running into dealing with this counsel`s office ahs been, if it is not illegal, we`re going to do it. And if there`s an argument that it`s probably not illegal, we`re going to do it. And so that has really undermined the program that has existed for four decades.

HAYES: So, I want to press on that. So, what I`m hearing from you is they have taken an aggressive posture in terms of where they can set up with respect to the line on conflicts, particularly.

Now, this is a really important question. Your job is to certify that there`s no conflicts. And I want to talk about, I want you to give me this. Can you definitively say sitting here today, that everyone in that White House is, including the president, free of conflicts of interest?

SCHAUB: Well, no. We`ve received very little information about what the individuals in the White House do on a day-to-day basis for a living. They`ve negotiated ethics agreements with them, and they`ve refused to even let the Office of Government Ethics so much as see those ethics agreements.

And when we worked on the financial disclosure reports, we asked for information and it is like pulling teeth. Weeks go by before we get answers in many cases.

And after I issued a data call for all of the waivers and authorizations that had been issued at the end of April, they refused for over a month to answer any questions from my staff as to whether any individuals had received waivers, because they were still deciding whether they were going to comply with that data call.

HAYES: I want to be really clear, because there are criminal conflict statutes. So, I just want to know if, you know, there are people who retained holdings, like Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump and others and who are mandated by law to recuse themselves from any involvement in things with which they may have a conflict.

So, my question here is can you definitively state that they have done that, that they have adhered to the law and recused themselves in places where they are criminally exposed if they don`t?

SCHAUB: Well, Chris, to be fair, I have to rework that question a little bit. And I`m not trying to dodge, but it is a little more nuanced than that. I would like to say that I don`t have any basis for believing that there are specific violations. Now, I don`t have enough information to be able to say definitively there could not possibly be any. But I feel like the bigger concern, and this is important, is that because this is a risk management program, it has become clear that they have a much higher tolerance for risk than we do.

For instance, we have a lot more control over presidential nominees. They have to get our signoff before they can get a hearing and come into government. White House appointees are in government long before we get their financial disclosure reports and we`re almost doing a postmortem to see if there was a conflict of interest where with nominees, we work to prevent them in advance.

And so adopting a higher level of risk is inconsistent with how we`ve run this program, because people have been asking me is there definitely a violation? Or can you definitively say there`s no violation. Well, if we`re the prevention mechanism, once a violation has happened, we have already failed. And so it is incumbent upon a director of the Office of Government Ethics or my staff asa whole to object before we reach that point, because we`re supposed to be running around preventing that from happening.

HAYES: All right, Walter Schaub, thanks for making time tonight.

SCHAUB: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Still ahead, the weaponizing of fake news: a look at Rachel Maddow`s scoop that someone is shopping forge classified documents to the media coming up.

Plus, the vice president looks to the final frontier in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, this young administration has shown it is really into space, like really into space.


TRUMP: Our vice president cares very deeply about space policy. Vice President Pence promised that had our administration, because Mike is very much into space, would revive the National Space Council.


HAYES: That`s from an executive order signing last week in which Buzz Aldrin was present. Although Buzz didn`t seem equally enthusiastic about everything said that day. Keep an eye on his expression.


TRUMP: Everybody wants to be on this board, people that you wouldn`t have believed loved what we`re doing so much. They want to be some of the most successful people in the world want to be on this board. I feel very strongly about it. I felt very strongly about it for a long time. I used to say before doing what I did, I used to say, what happened? Why aren`t we moving forward? At some point in the future we`ll look back and say how did we do it without space?


HAYES: Yesterday, while President Trump was in Germany, Vice President Pence got to visit the Kennedy Space Center where this moment happened. And I think he announced, we might be invading Mars. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: Mike Pence sounded pretty excited about the future of space exploration while speaking at the Kennedy Space Center yesterday.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here from this bridge to space, our nation will return to the moon and we will put American boots on the face of Mars.


HAYES: Boots on the ground on Mars.

It was during the tour, though, that Pence really showed off his space fandom. And when he saw this sign, oh, you bet it wasn`t going to stop him from slapping a hand on that piece of critical space flight hardware despite the sign reading inexplicably with quotation marks "do not touch."

Pence embraced the moment today, tweeting out an apology saying that Marco Rubio dared him to do it. NASA also issued its retroactive blessing, quote, "it was OK to touch the surface. Those are just day to day reminder signs. We were going to clean it anyway."


HAYES: Did you watch Rachel`s show last night? She led with a 20 minute exclusive report about what appeared to be a top secret NSA document sent into the shows tip line that purported to show that a member of the Trump campaign was working with the Russians on hacking during the election last year.

But after Maddow and her staff consulted experts who have worked with documents like this, the conclusion was, based on several tell tale signs, the document they received was a fake.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: The big red flag for us is that the document we were given -- this is part of what made it seem so red hot -- it names an American citizen. Even if the typos and the weird spacing and the other odd stuff had snuck through for some reason, an American citizen`s name would not have snuck through, not at this level of an NSA report.

That our document contains an American name spelled out, that says to experienced people who`ve worked with this stuff that what we got is forged. It`s fake.


HAYES: Now news organizations can pay a stiff price for running with things they get from questionable tips and sources. As Rachel reminded us it was back in 2004 that Dan Rather and CBS News got hold of documents that purported to highlight details of George W. Bush`s national guard service. The documents, whose origin was murky.

The controversy over the authenticity of those Bush Air National Guard documents blew up, ending Rather`s career at CBS, damaging that news organization tremendously.

It also served to effectively kill any further reporting into George W. Bush`s military service during that election year.

Now someone is shopping fake Trump collusion documents perhaps with a similar goal in mind.


MADDOW: Whether or not the Trump campaign did it, one way to stab in the heart aggressive American reporting on that subject is to lay traps for American journalists who are reporting on it.

Trick news organizations into reporting what appears to be evidence of what happened and then after the fact blow that reporting up, you then hurt the credibility of that news organization. You also cast a shadow over any similar reporting in the future, whether or not it`s true, right? Even if it`s true you plant a permanent question, a permanent asterisk, a permanent who know as to whether that, too, might be false like that other story, whether that, too, might be based on fake evidence.

So head`s up, everybody. Part of the defense against this Trump-Russia story now, we can report, includes somebody apparently forging at least one classified NSA report and shopping it to other news organizations as if it`s real.

We don`t know who`s doing it, but we`re working on it.


HAYES: The fake news trap with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnston next.


HAYES: And joining me now, David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, author the of the remaking of Donald Trump, also a long time investigative reporter and someone, David, I thought of you because you got your hands on this document, which was the front page of a Donald Trump tax return. And I have to imagine when I heard about this, the first thought is, is it a fake and is this -- am I holding dynamite in my hands that if I run with it and it is a fake I`m blown up.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, JOURNALIST: Right. And in that case the White House authenticated the document.

But there is a real serious problem we`re going to see more of in the future, Chris, with fabricating documents to mislead news organizations. It`s not entirely new. You may recall in the George W. Bush documents case that affected Dan Rather and CBS that while the documents were shown to be fakes, Kate Zernicki (ph) and another reporter for the The New York Times interviewed the general secretary who said well, you know, that`s exactly what he was saying at the time in the office and he did have documents though I didn`t type them.

And so in that case and others that I`m aware of, there have been cases where you take a document you know is real, you recreate what will be clearly exposed as a fabrication to discredit the issue.

HAYES: So the broader thing to me at this moment is, Governor Paul LePage in Maine, who is a big Trump supporter, sort of a Trumpian figure, saying he tells the press fake things intentionally. He makes up things, because he likes to see them print false things.

You had a prominent supporter of the president on Twitter say let`s flood the tip lines with fake tips and Maggie Haberman at The Times saying actually the White House tried to do this.

I know people that have said the White House has attempted to shop them fake stories to get them to run it so they can rebut them because it is so valuable, particularly in this moment to this White House to be able to call somethingfake news.

What do you about that?

JOHNSTON: Well, you have to be extremely careful with documents that don`t come out directly out of the public report. If you copy a document out of the courthouse record, that`s one thing, if it comes over the transom, like the Trump tax return that came to me, you have to be very careful.

And if it`s too good to be true it probably is. When I was exposing the LAPD`s massive worldwide spying operation, and officers were committing all sort of crimes, I got a document one day that was unbelievably juicy and I looked at it and said this is too good, it`s too new. And when I -- I came to learn years later from a senior officer that in fact it was planted in an effort to discredit me.

So, you have got to be very careful when handling documents to authenticate them and you certainly have to show them to the people you`re going to write about before you -- or broadcast about and get their responses to it.

HAYES: And there is at this point this sort of ratcheting up of the stakes, because of this idea of fake news that if you -- there`s a real incentive on the part of the White House to kind of get people to get stuff wrong, even on sort of easy stuff, not big cloak and dagger stuff with documents being fabricated but easy stuff, because at this point it`s such a kind of core narrative that they`re telling the country about basically them against a duplicitous press.

JOHNSTON: Right, and let`s remember that Vladimir Putin in his very sophisticated operation have a big interest also in flooding the U.S. and European journalists with fake documents for the same exact purpose.

It`s a real fundamental problem in democracy.

HAYES: All right, everyone be careful out there. That`s All In for tonight. Thank you, David.

We will see you back in New York Monday night.

Now, here`s Rachel.