All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 7/19/17 The Trump Effect

Guests: Michael McFaul

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: July 19, 2017 Guest: Michael McFaul

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: He thinks only of how or somehow show up with a political score card. He doesn`t care of millions get hurt as long as the other side gets the blame. I say we should follow the Wisdom of Solomon. And that`s HARDBALL for now, "ALL IN" starts right now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York, I`m Joy Reid in for Chris Hayes. We have some pretty big breaking news to start with tonight. In an interview with the New York Times, President Donald Trump said that he never would have appointed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General had he known that Sessions would recuse himself. "How do you take a job and then recuse yourself if he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, thanks, Jeff, but I`m not going to take you." He continued, "it is extremely unfair and that`s a mild word to the President."

Now, remarkably, Donald Trump also spoke of conditions under which the investigation would in his view go too far. Asked if Mr. Mueller`s investigation would cross a red line if it expands to look into his family finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Trump said, I would say yes. He would not say what he would do about it, however but he added, "I think that`s a violation. Look, this is about Russia." Also today, the eldest son of the President, his name sake, Donald Trump Jr., and Trump`s former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, have been invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee one week from today, this following more than ten days of rolling disclosures and reported revelations of Donald Trump Jr.`s meeting with Russian nationals in June of last year after e-mails promising the Russian government help in discrediting Hillary Clinton. The New York Times tonight also reports that Paul Manafort who was at that meeting in Trump Tower was in serious debt to pro-Russian interest before he joined the Trump campaign.

And then there`s Jared Kushner. Today we learn that had Donald Trump`s son-in-law and Senior Adviser will be interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed session. Kushner`s lawyer said in a statement, "As Mr. Kushner has been saying since March, he has been - he has been and is prepared to voluntarily cooperate and provide whatever information he has on the investigation to Congress." Joining me now, MSNBC National Security Contributor Michael Schmidt, who is a Reporter for the New York Times, who interviewed Donald Trump tonight. So Michael Schmidt, let`s go into that meeting a couple of beats. The headline of course out of it saying, Donald Trump saying he never would have appointed Jeff Sessions to be the Attorney General had he known he would recuse himself. Did you get sense that he is saying that because he didn`t understand that Jeff Sessions had involvement in the Russian issue or that he thought that Jeff Sessions would be in a position to cover his back essentially in that job?

MICHAEL SCHMIDT, THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER, AND MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: I`m not sure. He did not explain exactly why he felt that way. But he`s clearly very disappointed in Sessions. He clearly sees this somewhat as -

REID: And we`ve heard reports before that Donald Trump was disappointed in Sessions. That it seems that disappointment does stem down to just that one thing.

SCHMIDT: Correct.

REID: That Jeff Sessions is not in a position to weigh in on this Russia investigation. I got to ask you, were there any follow-up questions that went to the question of why would it matter if he recused himself unless he thought that Jeff Sessions could provide him some cover?

SCHMIDT: Well, we did follow up with questions. I mean, it is - it is difficult sometimes with the President when he`s taking because he speaks very quickly and he says a lot of things in the conversation can meander. We had reported a few weeks ago that Sessions - that Trump was upset with Sessions about his decision to recuse and the appointment of Mueller. But what`s different here today is that publicly the President is doing this. Now he has an Attorney General who is not necessarily had the legs cut out from underneath him but is clearly on the bad side of the President. And it will be interesting to see what the fallout from that. Is there really any impact on Sessions and Sessions` ability to do his job or is this just something that Sessions just sort of shrugs off and continues going forward. But Trump is clearly upset about the fact that Mueller has been appointed and that he is looking at these different issues and that Mueller has the ability to sort of take his investigation where it may.

REID: We`re going to get to Mueller just the kind of wanting to let the audience listen to the Sessions` portion of that New York Times Interview. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Sessions gets the job. Right after gets job, he recuses himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was that a mistake?

TRUMP: Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He gave you no heads up at all, in any sense?

TRUMP: Zero. So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have?-?which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, "Thanks, Jeff, but I can`t, you know, I`m not going to take you." It is extremely unfair and that`s a mild word to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man who is a deputy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: You know, and I want to stay with this just for a minute Michael because the sort of crux of Donald Trump`s anger about the ongoing Russia investigation really sort of has consumed his presidency. And I want to move on to Robert Mueller who you did mention. Now, in this investigation, according to an (INAUDIBLE) of folks watching the show, this entire interview is on the New York Times Web site. He gets into the question of Mueller and whether or not he thinks his investigation could conceivably go too far. Did he then get into whether or not, if he thought Mueller strayed into areas he thought were unfair, whether or not he would fire him?

SCHMIDT: So he wouldn`t commit to firing Mueller if he goes beyond a certain line. But he did say that there`s a red line that if Mueller is looking at things related to his finances, related to things outside the Russian investigations, that would be what he called a violation. He didn`t define what he meant by a violation. But he clearly sees Mueller`s purview as one to look at Russian meddling in the election and any ties between folks around him, the president, and folks in Russia. But he doesn`t see the Mueller`s mandate is going any further than that. And the question is, is that what will happen with Mueller`s investigations? As we`ve seen with Special Counsels or Special Prosecutors in the past is that they tend to turnover a lot of different rocks and tend to look at a lot of different things often things that are different from what they start.

If you remember under the Clinton administration, it was a Whitewater investigation that eventually led to Monica Lewinsky. So this is clearly something that in a reporting has shown us in recent days that folks in Trump world are very concerned about where Mueller may go and what Mueller may do and whether this becomes an unwieldy thing that casts a shadow over his Presidency. I think that if he had his way considering - I mean, obviously Mueller wouldn`t be there but if he had his way going forward, it would be a Russian investigation that wraps up pretty quickly, it - you know, gets to some conclusions and allows him to move on with his Presidency and I think their afraid that that`s going to happen.

REID: But isn`t it the case though that rock that Mueller might turn over that has to do with Trump family and associate`s financials are directly related to Russia. I wonder if you asked him whether or not he understands that part of the reasons that the finance is irrelevant is because it`s thought that that might have been an inducement to the Russians or something they could use as an inducement to some members of the Trump family.

SCHMIDT: We did talk to him about his finances and he did say what he has said before, is that he has no real ties to Russian money. He says you know, maybe Russian folks may have bought a condo in one of his buildings and that he did have the Miss Universe Pageant in Russia several years ago but he said look, there`s nothing - there`s nothing really there. There`s nothing more to it than that. And he basically says, that you know, this is - there`s nothing there on any of this stuff related to him. He said no indication that he himself is under investigation and that you know, he`s deeply skeptical of all these accusations about Russia.

REID: Did you take his comments about Mueller as essentially a threat to Mueller to back down or else?

SCHMIDT: Well, it certainly -- it certainly puts Mueller on notice that he`s going to be watching him closely. That he did - they`re going to be looking at Mueller and seeing if he steps outside the Russia lane. And if he does that, you know, the President does have the power to get rid of Mueller because the President does control the Justice Department. So that will be the question. If Mueller steps out, what will Trump do? Could Trump politically survive getting rid of Mueller? I don`t - most people would say that he wouldn`t been able to survive politically getting rid of Comey. He did get rid of Comey, he paid an enormous price for that but he has continued on obviously. So would he get rid of Mueller? That`s - you know, that`s not something we really got a definitive answer about.

REID: Yes, and the Comey firing is the subject of the Senate Judiciary Committee`s hearings which is the reason that Paul Manafort and some of the other associates were being called in to talk to that Committee. I want to talk to you a little bit about Comey. You guys did talk to Donald Trump about Jim Comey and apparently, he made some additional allegations about the former FBI Director, if could you could expand on that.

SCHMIDT: Yes. He - so, on January 6, Comey someone - other senior intelligence officials went up to Trump Tower to brief Trump on the Russian Meddling in the Election. Afterward, Comey pulled Trump aside and told him about the dossier. This is this collection of reports by a former British Spy about information that the Russians may have on Trump. Sort of blackmail information and different weird business ties between Trump associates and Russia. Now, what Trump says is that in hindsight, looking back on that, when Comey pulls him aside, he thought Comey was trying to get leverage on him, that this was Comey - you know, as Comey was maneuvering to try and keep his job. It was - it was sort of a play for leverage. What Comey has testified about, and if you talk to folks at the FBI, what they would say is that Comey was trying to tell Trump, look, there`s this information out there about you. The media may be publishing it, and we have it and you have a right - you know, you should know about it. To sort of put him on notice about it but that it was not trying to compromise the President.

REID: Yes. I`ve got to talk you about Vladimir Putin. I don`t know how much of your interview involved on Vladimir Putin. But Donald Trump had seemed to express a lot of trusts, I guess in the word of Vladimir Putin. When Putin said that he didn`t interfere in the election, Trump seemed the take his word for it. Did you talk to him about the Russian President and what did he say?

SCHMIDT: We talked a little bit to him about this second meeting he had with Putin at the NATO conference several days ago - more than a week ago. And he talked about it and said that actually when he went and spoke with - it was after this dinner with Putin that they discussed adoption. Now the interesting thing about the issue of adoption is that was the initial answer provided by Don Junior when it came out about ten days ago that he had had these meetings with Russian officials promising information about Hillary Clinton, that what Don Junior had said, that the meeting was about adoption and about lobbying about adoption. That was an interesting coincidence but we weren`t able to really make sense if whether it was anything more than that and the conversation veered off in other directions.

REID: All right, Michael Schmidt, thank you so much for joining us to the last minute of this breaking news. Thank you very much for your reporting and of course, everybody can read your interview, the interview you were a part of on the New York Times Webs site. Thank you, Sir. Really appreciate your time.

SCHMIDT: Thanks for having me.

REID: Thank you. And joining me now, MSNBC Legal Analyst Paul Butler, a Professor, and Former Federal Prosecutor. All right, Paul, I`m going to go through this point by point and start with Sessions. Donald Trump telling The New York Times that had he known Sessions would recuse himself, he never would have appointed him. What does that say to you?

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: He wants a loyalty pledge. He misunderstands the way that the Department of Justice works, which means that it`s supposed to be independent of political interference even from the President of the United States. So again, this is vintage Trump wanting everyone who works for him to pledge allegiance but that simply isn`t the way that our process works.

REID: And you know, I`m wondering if it strikes you as a prosecutor the way it struck me, when I read that and heard that from Michael Schmidt, that it sounds as if he`s saying that he specifically intended or wanted Sessions to be available to kind of take care of things on Russiagate. Am I hearing that wrong?

BUTLER: Yes, Joy, that`s the way that I think Special Counsel Mueller will consider that. And when I -you know, we think about the law here, obstruction of justice comes to mind. And this would be make him guilty of that. But it does go to a state of mind. The statute says you`re guilty of obstruction if you attempt to impede an investigation. And it seems like a lot of Trump`s motives including hiring people to work in law enforcement centers around his concerns about Russia and his concerns about an investigation.

REID: And let`s go to Mueller because speaking of an investigation, Mueller is the one leading it. What did you make of this statement by Donald Trump to the New York Times in his interview that essentially he would consider it to be out of bounds and for Mueller to have gone too far if his investigation strays into the family finances? Does that sound like threat to you to fire Mueller if he gets beyond what Trump believes is related to Russia?

BUTLER: It certainly sounds like a threat. And again, it`s going to sound like a threat to Special Counsel Mueller. The last thing you want to do, if you`re the subject of an investigation, is to issue a threat either veiled or explicit to one of the best prosecutors in the country who has an ace team of FBI agents and other fantastic prosecutors who are looking at Trump`s actions, the actions of his members of his family and campaign operatives. And again, it`s not so much personal as he`s creating the impression, the President is, that he has something to hide, that he`s fearful of what an investigation might uncover. Typically, the political line here would be, I welcome the investigation. It will exonerate me. But that`s not what we`re hearing from this President.

REID: And it`s interesting because the fact that Donald Trump seems to be very skittish about any investigations starting to look into his finances but can you explain from a prosecutor`s point of view, the relationship that the finances have to the case in chief? I mean, don`t the prosecutors have to look into what potential inducements were there for Trump and his team to cooperate with the Russians including financial?

BUTLER: Absolutely. So this is an investigation about national security, about whether the campaign colluded with the Russians to subvert our democracy. And one issue is, why would they do it or what`s in it for them? So there might be a political motive if they thought that President Trump would be better for Russia than President Hillary Clinton but there also might be a financial motive. When we look at some of the tools that were used in the election by the Russians, they`re sophisticated. Russian organized crime now is very into cyber terrorism and hacking and that`s expensive. You have to pay for that. So one question that Special Counsel Mueller is investigating is what the deal was. Was there a quid pro quo? And if so, how did the finances go down? So you have to think about money laundering and have to look at the finances. But again, if you have nothing to hide, what you do is welcome that investigation because you know it will exonerate you. You`re typically, especially concerned if you do think that you have criminal exposure.

REID: Yes. All right, well, Paul Butler, thank you very much. We really appreciate your time as always tonight. Thank you.

And now let`s go to MSNBC`s Garrett Haake, he`s coming to us with - OK, we`re going to Garret Haake in just a moment with some breaking news just now. Let me get some guidance from my producers on what we want to do. Do you want to go to break? We`ll take a break and we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: We have yet more breaking news tonight. The office of Senator John McCain has announced tonight that the Arizona Senator has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Joining me now on the phone is NBC`s Garret Haake. Garret, give us what we know.

GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Sure. Well, we know from the Senator`s office in a joint statement with the Mayo Clinic in Arizona that treated him that this comes after this surgery that he had on Friday night to remove a blood clot over his left eye. The pathology test was sort of the outstanding piece of the puzzle here. That test came back today and the Senator has been diagnosed with what they say is the primary brain tumor known Angioblastoma associated with the blood clot. Now, I`m not a doctor, I`m not an expert. The statement goes on to say that he`s recovering well, that you know, he`s doing fine. He`s resting comfortably, talking to his friends and family.

We`ve already started to hear statements from some of his fellow Senators, including Jeff Flake, his fellow Arizonan talking about how tough he is including the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, talking about how tough he is. If you`re starting to notice a pattern here, that`s because there is no question, John McCain is the toughest man in the Senate. This is someone was shot down over Vietnam and tortured. He had that melanoma in the past. He has been through a lot. And I don`t think it`s an overstatement to say he`s probably one the of most widely respected figures in the camber on both sides of the aisle, so a lot of folks pulling for him tonight. No timetable yet on his return, that`s something that`s going to come from his doctors down the line. But a lot of anxious people in the U.S. Senate tonight thinking about and praying for John McCain.

REID: All right. Garrett Haake, NBC`s Garrett Haake, thank you very much. We really appreciate that reporting. And joining us now, MSNBC Medical Correspondent, Dr. John Torres, so Dr. Torres, Haake made a comment that he`s not a doctor and cannot explain what Angioblastoma is so we would really appreciate if you would so for us now Sir.

JOHN TORRES, MSNBC MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Angioblastoma it is a type of brain tumor, unfortunately, it`s very, very aggressive. That brain tumor is malignant tumor and the problem with it is it has arms that spread out from the tumor center itself. And so, they say in the report they gave us that they got most of the tumor, at least they think they did. It`s very difficult to do that. Unfortunately, it has a low survival rate. Most people with Angioblastoma diagnosed, their survival rate is 14 months to three years. This is the average time, so this is - this is not good news.

REID: And we know that John McCain, he`s born at 1936. Let`s do the quick calculations, he is 80 years old. Just give us sort of the factors there because John McCain obviously have had many, many health problems. With the blood clot that he was treated for have been a signal that that is indeed what he was suffering from?

TORRES: That sounds like what happened because these tumors can bleed quite well. And so (INAUDIBLE) of blood, you know, they`ve (INAUDIBLE) the blood, they did the samples on it, they looked at it under the micro scope and found out it was Angioblastoma. At his age, you have to worry with health concern but he does have other ones. And so, that`s going to make his recovery a little tougher as well. Typically though, they`ll try radiation treatment initially and if that doesn`t work, a some type of chemotherapy they can use. But the main thing was getting out most of that tumor and they said they did. That`s good news. He still has a long road ahead of him though.

REID: And talk about the long road. What would be involved? I mean after you said, getting out as much of the tumor as they could. How long until doctors might be able to know whether or not they got it all?

TORRES: So they scan them and they say most of it. Unfortunately, that doesn`t highlight every little piece and every little cell is important when it comes to tumors like this. So in his case, they`ll probably do radiation therapy. That`s typically what they do. And then they`ll look and see what they do with the radiation therapy and how much is still left if any, then they`ll decide whether to go to chemotherapy or not. That`s tougher on the body and given his age and health conditions, they might say we don`t want to do it. At this time, let`s see what happens. But it`s a very, very fast growing tumor and it`s a very aggressive and can spread rapidly. So they have to be very cautious with this. And I guess, the medium of survival is a matter of just a few years in cases like this.

REID: Well, we really appreciate the information, Dr. John Torres. And of course, we`re all pulling for Senator John McCain. Thank you so much, Dr. Torres, we really appreciate it.

TORRES: You bet.

REID: Thank you very much. Just ahead, more on the breaking news from Donald Trump`s interview with The New York Times, warning Special Counsel Robert Mueller not to delve into his family finance that he says are not related to Russia and saying he wouldn`t have appointed Jeff Sessions if he knew Sessions would have recused himself. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Welcome back. The New York Times conducting a wide ranging interview with Donald Trump tonight and among other things that we learned from that interview, Donald Trump said he would not have hired Jeff Sessions had he known he would recuse himself. He essentially said that Robert Mueller`s investigation has a leash on it if Donald Trump feels it goes too far or delves into his family finances, there could be some consequences unspecified. And he also talked about that extra meeting that he had with Vladimir Putin. And we want to discuss that aspect of the interview now. And joining me is Ambassador Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation and MSNBC Terrorism Analyst Malcolm Nance, author of the Plot To Hack America. And Ambassador McFaul, I`ve seen you on this air over the last few nights talking about that extra pull-aside meeting which I guess isn`t technically what a pull-aside is. In your view, what do you think are the primary dangers of having that kind of a meeting without any other Americans beside the President in attendance?

MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, generally I think it is a good thing in diplomacy when heads of state have conversations, have informal conversations. I work for President Obama for five years. He most certainly did that at gatherings like this one. What was peculiar about this particular meeting, in my opinion, number one, that it went on for so long. There are a lot of other heads of state there, there`s our ally who is the host and President Trump chose to focus on President Putin. We have a lot of other issues and a lot of other guests there. That`s just not good manners.

But it`s also not good diplomacy. And number two, you don`t just chat about the weather and your kids with President Putin for an hour. I`ve been in meetings with President Putin and Prime Minister Putin, he`s a serious guy with an agenda. And that`s what he would be pushing and to have the President there without his talking points, without his officials with him, without his advisers, and to go one-on-one with Putin for an hour suggests to me that something might come up that might not be in America`s national interests. And once Trump - President Trump says something to President Putin, that is really tough to walk back in terms of policy.

REID: And you know, Malcolm, in addition to all the other sort of strange things about this, you had Putin`s translator there, no American translator. How would Donald Trump even be sure he was being told what Vladimir Putin was really saying? It does seem to be a security - not a good idea. Let`s put it that way.

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it`s not a good idea. And Mike McFaul made this point earlier in the day that the only people who had any idea of what was said was Vladimir Putin and his translator and that said translator who have you know, said something completely different. This is why you have your own. Most notable is that Donald Trump brought a Japanese translator with him which means he intended to speak to Prime Minister Abe who was sitting next to him when this conversation started. He just completely ignored him and went on to speak to Vladimir Putin. It`s a national security imperative that we have a President of the United States who will actually work within the norms of foreign policy so that we are defending. As Josh Marshall, a talking points memo put it today, Donald Trump clearly had something he needed to speak with Vladimir Putin about that he wanted no other American to know about and that`s dangerous for all of us.

REID: And I want to ask both of you this question but I want to go first to Ambassador McFaul on this because when Donald Trump told The New York Times tonight in the interview, we had Michael Schmidt earlier from the Times, that what he talked and chatted with Vladimir Putin about was adoption. Thanks to one Rachel Maddow, when I hear adoption, I think Magnitsky Act. And this, of course, is the law that sanctioned individual Russians for human rights violations. If that is what they are talking about, are you concerned - I`ll start with you Ambassador McFaul - that what that conversation revolved around was repealing or rolling back the Magnitsky Act?

MCFAUL: Absolutely. What other - what other topic could there be? And let`s just be clear to remind everybody, after our administration signed into law the Magnistsky Act which sanctioned human rights abusers in Russia, including those responsible for the wrongful death of this lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, President Putin then signed into law the Dima Yakovlev law which banned adoptions from American citizens. So they`re directly linked to each other and there`s no way that Vladimir Putin is talking about some repeal of that adoptions ban unless lifting sanctions are on the table. Either the Magnitsky sanctions or some of the others that were put in place including ones for what Russia did when they invaded Ukraine or what they did when they did when they interfered in our elections. So those two things are intertwined, there`s no doubt on my mind.

REID: (INAUDIBLE) I`ve interview Vladimir Kara-Murza who`s very clear that the Magnitsky Act is of the top of Vladimir Putin`s agenda. It`s something that he wants gone (INAUDIBLE) getting a spy compound back. But Malcolm, you know, if you could just explain to the audience, just walk us through, let`s say the Magnitsky Act was rolled back. Let`s say Donald Trump gave Vladimir Putin what he wants and that`s what he committed to. What would that enable Vladimir Putin and his (INAUDIBLE) would actually do in the United States if that sanction were gone?

NANCE: Well, I think Rachel Maddow did a very good expose last flight on explaining how the eighth person in the room was a gentleman associated with Russia creating companies, front companies in the United States, who had money laundered perhaps for thousands of Russian interests. Illicit money that`s could have come into the United States. The Magnitsky Act is punishment as Ambassador McFaul said so eloquently a little earlier. This is actually hurting the Russian oligarchy and personally hurting Vladimir Putin. These sanctions are personal. They are obviously the tops of his priorities. And so for them to leverage everything and including hacking the American election, and you know, getting rid of Hillary Clinton and pressuring Donald Trump, it is absolutely extraordinary. This is a question of money and I think Vladimir Putin knows Donald Trump responds to money.

And he went directly to him and Donald quite possibly, responded in a way which will harm the United States in the future to come.

REID: And, Michael McFaul, it is interesting that when you talk about Russian -- these sort of oligarchs who are sort of quasi oligarchs because Putin stripped them of all their actual political power, they just have a lot of money, you find a lot of these nexuses with the investments in real estate. We know now Paul Manafort, according to The New York Times was in heavy debt to some pro-Russian interests, including one who had sued him, Mr. Deripaska. We`ve also heard about a lot on Rachel`s show and on this air.

And you find -- and there`s also reporting in The Times that one of the things that Manafort was doing was stashing money in very lucrative and very expensive real estate deals, often cash real estate deals. How integral is real estate investment to what the oligarchs sort of do financially around the world?

MCFAUL: Well, lots of Russians want to invest in the United States. It is a safe place to invest. And where they invested, in whose companies, and whose buildings they invest in is something we need to know in terms of these ties, in terms of the investigation.

And I want to make one thing clear, I think it is very unlikely that President Trump could lift the Magnitsky Act. Afterall, that`s a law that was signed into -- support from Democrats and Republicans. I don`t see that being able to be lifted any time soon.

But I do think he needs an excuse to lift the sanctions on some of these people we`re talking about, the ones that are done by executive order. And the excuse, therefore, might be the lifting of adoptions. So, he can say, I got a deal. I didn`t just give away these concessions. I got something in return.

I, myself, think that`s a really bad deal, but trying to piece together these bits of information we have, I could easily see, OK, we`re going to give back those properties. We`re going to lift sanctions on some of these businessmen in Russia, but in return, I got the lift on the adoption ban that are against American citizens.

REID: That does not sound like an equal trade to me.

MCFAUL: An unequal trade.

Michael McFaul, Malcolm Nance, thank you both. Really appreciate it.

All right, more on the News York Times blockbuster interview with the President Donald Trump ahead.

Plus, the president`s new effort to sell health care. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: With Republicans facing the prospect of a humiliating defeat on one of their signature campaign promises, the repeal of Obamacare, Donald Trump today convened a lunch at the White House where he aggressively pressured GOP senators to get something, anything to his desk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I`ve been here just six months. I`m ready to act. I have pen in hand, believe me. I`m sitting in that office. I have pen in hand. Frankly, I don`t think we should leave town unless we have a health insurance plan, unless we can give great health care.

My message today is really simple, we have to stay here. We should shouldn`t leave town. And we should hammer this out and get it done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Trump pivoted in the meeting from pleading to playing the heavy. At one point even threatening a Nevada Senator Dean Heller who opposed the most recent version of the bill to get on board or something just might happen to that senate seat you`ve got there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This was the one we were worried about. You weren`t there. But you`re going to be. You`re going to be. Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn`t he? OK. And I think the people of your state, which I know very well, I think they`re going to appreciate what you hopefully will do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: I think Trump lost that state.

Before today, the president of the United States had done relatively little to help push the plan through the Senate and at times actually undermined the effort, most notably when he told GOP Senators that the House version of the bill, upon which their bill was based and for which he threw a big premature party in the White House Rose Garden was, quote, mean, mean, mean."

Today, however, Trump blamed his fellow Republicans for not talking up their plan enough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: So they`re selling their plan, and we don`t sell our plan. If we`re weak on anything, it is on letting people know how good it was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: So, how good is it? Well, after the meeting, Senate Republicans released a new health care bill, sort of. Having failed to agree on a repeal and replace plan, they release ad straight out repeal bill modeled on one from 2015. And it is a doozy. The Congressional Budget Office tonight reports that the bill would leave 32 million people without health care and double American`s premiums by 2026.

Majority leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate will vote next week on whether to bring that health care bill to the floor for debate and amendments, even if he doesn`t have the votes.

And while there are signs McConnell may, in fact, not have the votes, opponents of the bill remain engaged. At the Capitol today, 155 people, many with preexisting conditions, were arrested while protesting the GOP effort to dismantle Obamacare`s protections.

Meanwhile, at this very hour, Republican Senators are meeting on Capitol Hill in a seemingly last-ditch effort to work out a compromise and get 50 votes to move forward.

Not present at that meeting? Repeal only opponent, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine who was apparently only told of the meeting this afternoon and who said she had a previously scheduled engagement.

I`m joined now by Republican congressman Mark Amodei of Nevada.

And Congressman, I`m sure that you, like up with the show, are thinking about John McCain. I want to give you an opportunity if there`s anything you would like the say on that matter now that we know his condition is quite serious.

REP. MARK AMODEI, (R) NEVADA: Yeah, thanks, Joy.

Godspeed to the navy flyer in Arizona, the straight talk express guy.

REID: Yeah, the western members of congress I`m sure all stick together in a lot of ways.

So, let`s talk a little bit about this bill. We know that it`s the Senate`s baby at this point, and they`re meeting with the White House tonight. Mitch McConnell in the other -- body across the transom from you, has moved to repeal only, away from what had been repeal and replace. Do you, sir, support the idea of straight repeal?

AMODEI: Well, here`s where I`m at, speaking just for me, Joy, and that is -- listen, when the Senate does something, I would be happy to talk about it in detail, but as you yourself put in the lead-in, it`s like -- hey, they`ve been everywhere from breakfast to dinner and dessert and back, so let`s see what they do. And then see what it means.

I mean, health care. There`s not a political sweet spot, so if they`re looking for one, good luck with that. The ACA had problems. Our bill had problems. But it`s like you`ve got to start somewhere. I think the idea we`re just going to let it sit there and kind of blow up, it`s like I`ve got news for everybody, after the election the Republicans own health care now, so we ought to take a shot at it. We`re at the plate. The pitcher is on the mount. And we`ve got to bat. Let`s take a swing.

REID: Well, let me ask you this, because let`s say that the -- the Senate took a swing and what they were able to get, all they were able to get is full repeal, which we now know, according to the CBO, means really back to status quo anti and worse, 35 million people losing health care, premiums doubling.

That catastrophe would then be on people like you. You`d have to go home and explain to your constituents why you let that happen. Do you oppose going down that path?

AMODEI: Well, I can tell you this, whatever they do comes back over to us, and much of the reporting has been, well, what the Senate does is going to be the deal. With all due respect to people who got a C in government, it`s like the House still gets a say on whatever they do, and I would expect to have a full say.

I can tell you this, that nobody is going to be happy, but nobody is going to be really excited about things until we focus on the two primary issues, which is what are the overall cost drivers that we can affect in this deal? And the second part is, what do you do about people who are on exchanges in the private market and what do you do about Medicaid expansion. And so until the discussion focuses on that, no wonder people are frustrated.

REID: I`m glad you said that, because you`re maybe the first person, a Republican I`ve interviewed that actually It is not just one bill. It`s the private market, which has some serious issues that need to be fixed. And then there`s Medicaid on the other side. Very quickly, do you support cutting a trillion dollars almost out of Medicaid?

AMODEI: I would have to see which context it was done in, Joy. I don`t want to get into the general overall stuff, because what this issues needs is focus.

REID: But you vote to cut Medicaid.

AMODEI: I absolutely did. And, guess what the way it did it in terms of it costs the states no money in reimbursement. They were still getting reimbursed at 90 percent. They got people -- they were allowed to get folks on Medicaid expansion signed up for two more years. People that were on there that didn`t make too much money or take their employer job, got to stay on it until they are Medicare eligible. Those are specifics, which quite frankly, are reasonable.

The challenge for the House bill was, when 2020 passed, if it were the law, what do you do with those expansion people? And I don`t think a subsidy saying good luck in the market is going to work. That needs more work to be completely honest.

REID: Well, we will see what happens. And we will see if eventually Donald Trump weighs in and figures out what he thinks about all of this as well. Congressman, Mark Amodei, thank you very much for joining me.

AMODEI: Thanks, Joy.

REID: Thank you.

And joining me now is Adam Jentleson, former deputy chief of staff to Senate minority leader Harry Reid. Now, senior strategic adviser at the Center for American Progress Action Fund war room.

So, you just heard the congressman say that, you know, in order for him to even figure out where he is on the bill, the Senate actually has to do something. They don`t appear to have the votes to do much of anything.

What do you make of Mitch McConnell`s strategy, which is to essentially say, OK, fine, caucus, you can`t agree on the BCRA, or Trumpcare, or whatever we`re calling it, so we`re going back to 2015, back to full repeal. What does that say you about Mitch McConnell and where he is sort of strategically at this point?

ADAM JENTLESON, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: Well, it says to me that Mitch McConnell is flailing. It is strangely punitive approach to his caucus. You know, you can employ carrots and different measures at different times, but to basically tell them that if they don`t along with his plan he`s going to punish them by forcing them to take a vote on a bill that is a career defining bill that could put a lot of the members who are up for reelection like Senator Heller in Nevada, in a very difficult spot, to make them essentially walk the plank because they won`t go along with his plan is not typically how you achieve success as a Senate leader.

REID: You know, you said his plan. And it`s interesting, because you know when you talk about Obamacare, everybody understood that was definitely his plane. It was what Obama wanted to do. It was -- he was joined by Senator Harry Reid and by of course Nancy Pelosi who shoved it through and, god bless them, they actually managed to get it through, but it had really Barack Obama`s stamp on it, President Obama`s stamp on it.

With Donald Trump, he`s been all over the place. Garrett Haake, of NBC, is reported Trump has been for, on Monday morning repeal and replace, on Monday afternoon repeal now, replace later, on Wednesday morning let Obamacare fail, and on Wednesday afternoon, repeal and replace.

Trump is meeting with most of the Senators tonight sans one who wasn`t really 100 percent invited. What is it that you think he is telling them he wants them to do?

JENTLESON: I think what he`s telling them he wants to do is he wants them to deliver a win, but he is not showing that he is going to stand by them. And the different positions that you just highlighted doesn`t give Senators any confidence that he is going to stick with them.

If you`re going to take a tough vote like this as the United States Senator, you want to have confidence that the president is going to use his bully pulpit to defend you, to support you, to help explain and sell the bill to the public.

And when Trump changes his positions day to day, it undercuts his ability to get Republicans to do what he wants them to do, because they have no confidence that he is going to be in the same position Saturday as he was today or even tomorrow.

REID: Yeah, do you recall ever seeing a president threaten a member a way -- openly Trump did with Dean Heller today?

JENTLESON: I mean, President Trump is literally manufacturing content for Senator Heller`s opposition. And I`ve never seen anything like that in my life.

REID: A lot that we`ve never seen before in our lives in this administration in these last six months.

Adam Jentleson, thank you very much for being here. Appreciate it.

And after the break, the remarkable interview that Donald Trump gave to The New York Times tonight, issuing a warning to special counsel Robert Mueller and talking aboutthe second discussion he had with Vladimir Putin. More on that after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Returning to the big breaking news tonight, in a wide ranging interview with The New York Times, Donald Trump said he never would have appointed Jeff Sessions as his attorney general had he known that Sessions would recuse himself. The Times has posted the audio on their website. Let`s take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TRUMP: Sessions gets the job. Right after he gets the job, he recuses himself. Was that a mistake? Well, Sessions should have never recused himself. And if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took job and I would have picked somebodyelse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He gave you no heads up at all?

TRUMP: Zero.

So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly, I then have -- which frankly I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said thanks, Jeff, but I can`t -- you konw, I`m not going to take you. It is extremely unfair, and that`s a mild word, to the president.

So, he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man who is a deputy.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

REID: And there`s a lot more in that interview, including what could be perceived as threat to special counsel Robert Mueller. And we`ll talk about all of that after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: The top story on a very full day of breaking news, there`s a remarkable interview with The New York Times in which Donald Trump spoke of conditions under which the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller might in his view go too far.

Quote, asked if Mueller`s investigation would cross a red line if it expands to look at his family finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Mr. Trump said, I would say yes. He would not say what he would do about it. I think that`s a violation. Look, this is about Russia, unquote.

And joining me now, Charlie Pierce, writer at-large for Esquire, and Leon Wolf, managing editor at The Blaze.

Welcome, both of you.

I want to start with you, Leon, what did you make with this, what sure sounds like a threat to Robert Mueller?

LEON WOLF, THE BLAZE: Well, you know, it`s interesting, it`s not something that an ordinary president would do. But of course, Trump does things very differently from any other president before him. But, yeah, it certainly is something that sends up a lot of red flags.

Look, I don`t know what the end result of all this Russia investigation is going to be. I tend to think that the Russians were more interested in sowing chaos than they were in actually tipping the election one way or the other. But he sure does have a knack for making himself look guilty.

And that`s kind of the -- I mean, he`s done it throughout all this entire time. He`s acted in such a way that makes it difficult for people like me who find the whole scenario of Russia actually changing the election implausible to say that it`s plausible, just because of the way he acts. It just seems shady.

REID: And doesn`t it include -- I mean, this sort of weird extra meeting with Vladimir Putin is on. You know, if you`re somebody who is concerned that Russiagate is making you look bad, is there some innocent explanation, I haven`t thought of, as to why you would take a side meeting without your interpreter, Leon?

WOLF: Yeah, no, I don`t -- you know, again, Donald Trump just doesn`t seem to have that little trigger in the back of his brain that says, you know, regardless of whether this is bad, it might look bad and so I`m not going to do it. That little thing that most politicians have that they`ve kind of grown up with, it doesn`t seem to be present at all with him.

So, yeah, no, I definitely don`t know what the explanation is. And I think that`s likely we`ll probably never know.

REID: And Charlie, you know, if he doesn`t have that little trigger in his head, neither does Paul Manafort, neither does Michael Flynn, neither does Jared Kushner, neither does his son. And I could go on.

He seemed to surround himself with people who have all these curious ties to Russia. In this interview, he also said that his conversation with Vladimir Putin was about adoption, which sends off the Magnitsky Act, you know, alarm in everyone`s head who is paying attention.

Why would he make that kind of admission?

CHARLIE PIERCE, ESQUIRE: Well, because he doesn`t know any better.

I have thought right from the beginning that all this is about the money. And I don`t mean, you know, whatever -- however he may be monetizing the presidency now. He needed money to keep his business enterprises afloat long before he ran for president. I think he went and got it with Russia. And I think Donald Trump Jr. has pretty much said that prior to the campaign.

And I think that not releasing the tax returns, and all of this has to do with how much he owes certain financial interests in Russia.

I mean that, to me, that seems to be the way to cut the Gordian knot of why he does these things that he does.

Yeah, that would explain why he wouldn`t want his businesses looked into, right? Because of the way Russians sort of induce sort of western, you know, people to become agents of influence is if they have need or greed. Greed is usually a pretty serious inducement.

WOLF: Yeah, it`s definitely a plausible scenario. I think it`s one of the more plausible Russia related scenarios that I think people are looking into.

Look, if organized crime elements in Russia could compromise Deutsche Bank, which is one of the largest financial institutions in the world, who`s to say that they couldn`t also get to Donald Trump. Again, it`s difficult to know without the records that, of course, we can`t get because Trump hasn`t released his tax returns.

Exactly. And, Charlie, you know, in one of the ways that we`ve now seen is this nexus between, you know, the sort of corrupt activities of the gang that`s around Vladimir Putin, and real estate. Real estate investment seems to be a big part of it. What did Donald Trump do for a living before he was president of the United States, real estate, other than the TV show.

PIERCE: Yeah, and I think that it`s significant also that the other figure -- I guess we`ve settled on a number on the meeting with Donald Trump Jr., right? I mean, we aren`t waiting for someone to...

REID: As we know. As far as we know...

PIERCE: Yeah. I mean, we haven`t got a leak now that the Bolshoi was performing in the living room while they were having this meeting.

That guy was a money -- I mean, the guy was looked into for money laundering. And if I were a Russian -- and I don`t know that there`s any real distinction anymore between Russian government officials and Russian organized crime, but if I were working in that nether world, and, you know, I was looking for somebody who wanted -- who needed a lot of money, and I had some rubles I need cleaned, I know where I`d look.

REID: And Leon, at what point does the sort of cumulative effect of all these Russiagate pronouncements and leaks and discoveries start to penetrate the right? At what point do conservatives, Republicans start to care?

WOLF: You know, it`s difficult for me to say. I think most of the people that I talked to on the right have mostly totally tuned this issue out, to be a 100 percent honest. There`s been so much of it, there comes a point people stop listening.

REID: Does that surprise you? I mean, I don`t know how old you are, but you may not -- didn`t grown up with sort of the Cold War mentality that was really, you know, endemic to the Reagonesque Republican Party...

WOLF: Oh, I grew up with it.

REID: Does it surprise you that people don`t care?

WOLF: Yeah, no, it does. It does. I mean, -- there are many things that have happened in the last year and a half, though, that I haven`t been able to fully explain that are consistent with the movement that I kind of grew up in, and that`s probably number one among them.

You know, look, again, I find it implausible that the Russians actually were capable of tipping the election, because it`s much more their speed to get somebody within the inner orbit of somebody who`s high in power who`s compromised, who gives that person advice. I think that`s a very likely and plausible scenario, and it disturbs me that more people aren`t more interested in it.

But I think that people at this point are just saying, look, there`s been enough. We want to talk about other things.

So, you know, he`s been persistent. He maintains probably 35 percent, 40 percent approval rating despite all this other stuff. And I don`t know that his is the issue that`s going to penetrate that.

REID: Yeah, it is pretty remarkable.

Meanwhile, there is yet another New York Times report out tonight, this is that kind of night, that in fact Trump`s finances, specifically loans from the financial institution Deutsche Bank, the aforementioned Deutsche Bank, are in fact under scrutiny by banking regulators, in that the bank is expected to eventually have to provide information to Robert Mueller`s committee.

And joining me now on the phone is Pulitzer Prize-winning David Cay Johnston, author of "The Making of Donald Trump."

All right, David Cay Johnston, unpack that for us. Explain.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR: Well, Donald absolutely does not want any inquiry into his financial dealings that will trace back to the Russians. There`s an active lawsuit going on right now about the Trump Soho and how the profits disappeared into an Icelandic bank under the thumb of one of the oligarchs. Donald has sold properties at points when he was in financial trouble for outrageously overpriced figures to Russians.

And I`m not the least bit surprised that the -- we`re going to see a deep inquiry now into Deutsche Bank which was fined over $600 million just for laundering money for the Russians.

REID: And why Deutsche Bank? How did Deutsche Bank get caught up in this sort of nexus of money laundering?

JOHNSTON: Well, Deutsche Bank has been engaged in all sorts of nefarious activities. It was one of the biggest promoters of the tax shelters I was exposing in The New York Times around the turn of the century.

It has been deeply involved in helping Russians and others move their money around. And it`s the only major bank that would directly loan money to Trump.

When American banks that weren`t going to loan you money anymore after he said I borrowed money knowing I wouldn`t have to pay it back, so what is astonish is Trump telling The New York Times in this half-hour interview today basically, you better not start looking into my family`s finances.

You`re kidding. Really? That`s exactly where this is going to go. And everybody who`s been paying attention should have known that a long time ago, including, of course, Donald.

REID: And as somebody who has covered him for a long time. David Cay Johnson, how would Donald Trump react if this investigation starts to uncover real wrongdoing, or really sort of shady, embarrassing stuff that has to do with the Trump family businesses? Do you think he would fire Robert Mueller?

JOHNSTON: He might fire Robert Mueller. He`s going to have difficulty reaching down to find somebody to do it, who will be his Robert Bork. It`s entirely possible he may decide to preemptively pardon himself and others. That, of course, covers criminal matters, it would not protect him from the issue of impeachment and removal from office, which is a political act.

But what -- at the end of the day, you can always count on Donald will look out for Donald, and the person to watch here now is Jared Kushner. Jared Kushner is the member of the family most subject to pressure from Mueller`s office and to leverage, and Jared Kushner is going to face some very difficult choices down the road as this investigation goes forward.

REID: I would imagine Manafort would as well, right, Manafort now -- we know he was in deep debt to Russian interests.

JOHNSTON: The other two people who are most subject to leverage by saying, you know, cooperate or face the music, are Paul Manafort, longtime representative of many dictatorial regimes, and close connections here with the Russians and the Ukrainian -- the pro-Russian Ukrainians and General Michael Flynn who has already said, I`ve got a story it tell.

REID: And I`m going to tell it.

JOHNSTON: Please -- yeah, I want to tell it, but I want immunity.

REID: But he wants immunity. And of course he once said that that means you`re guilty.

Charlie Pierce, Leon Wolf, David CAy Johnston, thank you so much for joining me.

Our coverage continues. The Rachel Maddow Show starts now.

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