All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 7/20/17 The Story of OJ; 6 Months

Guests: Richard Blumenthal, David Cay Johnston, McKay Coppins

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: July 20, 2017 Guest: Richard Blumenthal, David Cay Johnston, McKay Coppins

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: It`s what he`s tempting to do with his outrageous threat to the Special Prosecutor. And that`s HARDBALL for now, thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: How do you take a job and then recuse yourself.

REID: New fallout from the New York Times bombshell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances unrelated to Russia, is that a red line?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?

TRUMP: I would say yes. I would say yes.

REID: Tonight the White House responds to a report that the Special Counsel is following Trump`s money.

TRUMP: I sell a lot of condo units and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows?

REID: Plus -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How seriously are you considering possibly resigning?

REID: As the President turns on his own, new details inside a White House in crisis. Then, the alarming implications from Trump`s version of that undisclosed meeting.

TRUMP: Actually, it was very interesting. We talked about adoption.

REID: A new subpoena threats for Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr.

TRUMP: I was just with a lot of people, they said, who wouldn`t have taken a meeting like that?

REID: ALL IN starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

REID: Good evening from New York, I`m Joy Reed in for Chris Hayes. Last night Donald Trump said his family`s finances were off limits to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Today, new reporting suggests Robert Mueller is going there anyway. And the White House says there are no plans to fire him, "at this time." First, the New York Time has posted audio of what was the most shocking exchange in their latest interview with the 45th President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances unrelated to Russia, is that a red line?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?

TRUMP: I would say yes. I would say yes. By the way, I would say, I don`t - I don`t - I mean, it`s possible there`s a condo or something, you know, I sell a lot of condo units and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don`t make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don`t make - from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms. I don`t have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don`t. They said I made money from Russia. I don`t. It`s not my thing. I don`t - I don`t do that. Over the years, I`ve looked at maybe doing a deal in Russia, but I never did one. You know, other than I held the Miss Universe Pageant there eight, nine years

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But if he was outside that lane, would that mean he`d have to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you consider -

TRUMP: No, I think that`s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: But a full investigation of the Trump-Russia relationship would almost have to look at the finances. Let`s take a look at the record. The rights to host the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow were secured by none other than Vladimir Putin aligned oligarch Aras Agalarov and his son Emin who arrange the 2016 Trump Tower meeting offering Donald Trump Jr. dirt on Hillary Clinton. For the Miss Universe deal, Trump Sr. was paid an estimated $7 million license fee. After the pageant, the Washington Post reported the Agalarov signed a preliminary deal with Trump to build a Trump tower in Moscow. Aras Agalarov telling Forbes, "If he hadn`t run for President he would probably be in the construction face today."

Reporter James Dodson recalled that Eric Trump, the President`s son once told him that Trump`s finances financed their golf courses with Russian money, "He said, well, we don`t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia." Eric Trump denied the claim. Donald Trump Jr. meanwhile in 2008 touted the Trump Organization`s ties to Russia at a real estate conference saying that Russians make up a disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. And adding, we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. Then there`s Trump`s son-in-law Jared Kushner. The Post reports that Mueller is now investigating Kushner`s finances.

Although we don`t know the focus, we do know that Kushner secretly met with the head of a sanctioned Russian bank as Kushner`s company was seeking financing for its troubled $1.8 billion purchase of an office building at 666 Fifth Avenue in New York. The Wall Street Journal reports tonight that Mueller is also investing possible money laundering by Trump`s former Campaign Chairman Paul Manaport who is reportedly in debt to pro-Kremlin interests by as much as $17 million before he joined Trump`s Presidential campaign.

NBC News is reporting tonight that multiple U.S. officials familiar with the ongoing probe being led by Mueller say that he`s "finding the strike zone" and is continuing to gather documents which may be relevant to his inquiry. Those documents include financial records and business dealings of those close to the Trump campaign. Now again, we don`t know exactly what is happening in Mueller`s investigation but according to a new report from Bloomberg, which we should note is based on an unnamed source and has not been confirmed by NBC News, Mueller has now expanded his probe to look directly at Trump`s business transactions. And that would seem to cross the red line laid out by the President yesterday but the White House claims that Trump`s comments should not be viewed as a threat.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: The point he`s trying to make is that the clear purpose of the Russia investigation is to review Russia`s meddling in the election and that that should be the focus of the investigation, nothing beyond that. The President is making clear that the Special Counsel should not move outside the scope of the investigation.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

REID: Joining me now is Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee which has pre- approved subpoenas to force Trump Jr. and Manafort to appear before the Committee next week if they do not agree to testify. So, Senator Blumenthal, I`ll start with that. Do you have any reason to believe that they will refuse to testify, that you`ll have to use those subpoenas?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: There is no reason right now Joy, to believe they`ll refuse to appear. They said they have nothing to hide. And we`ll take them at their word but certainly, having talked personally to the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Grassley, he is intently serious on a bipartisan investigation and uncovering all the truth. And I think clearly subpoena is necessary.

REID: And why specifically do you want to talk to those two? What elements of Russia - of the Russia investigation do you want to probe with them, would you personally want to?

BLUMENTHAL: What I want to know from them is the background of the meeting that occurred in early June. One of the really shocking revelations in that New York Times interview was the President acknowledging that he saw the e-mails offering - in fact, promising dirt on Hillary Clinton before that June meeting.

REID: Right.

BLUMENTHAL: Although he claims he didn`t know anything about the meeting, I want to know what he knew and when he knew it and they can begin to describe it, what`s more. What happened after that meeting? What kinds of documents were exchanged? What kind of e-mails and what kind of additional meetings producing dirt on Hillary Clinton and possible promises to lift sanctions, which was really at the height of Putin`s agenda.

REID: And now, in terms of Donald Trump, in his interview with the New York Times. He essentially drew a red line saying that any investigation into his personal finances would be a step too far and would not be related in his view. And there was an implicit threat there that he could fire Mueller, essentially get rid of him if he crossed that red line. Can you imagine and can you envision doing a thorough investigation of the Russia affair without looking at Donald Trump`s finances?

BLUMENTHAL: Absolutely not. And Robert Mueller is absolutely right to be pursuing those financial dealings. They are integral to this investigation because one of the standard Russian tactics and we heard about it in the Judiciary Committee in our testimony recently, is to, in fact, cultivate financial ties as a first step and here they were offering those ties and - they, in the form of dirt on Hillary Clinton. So this kind of tactic is standard operating procedure for Russian intelligence and Robert Mueller is absolutely right to be exploring it. And what`s more, the President drawing a red line, these threats are powerful evidence of obstruction of justice, more evidence.

REID: And I mean, if Donald Trump were to follow through on that threat, what might happen on Capitol Hill? What would be the reaction of your Republican colleagues if Donald Trump would have find a way to oust Robert Mueller?

BLUMENTHAL: As much as he`s saying that Robert Mueller might be crossing a line, I think President Trump would be crossing a clear line and would provoke a fire storm, bipartisan, my Republican colleagues I think would be outraged, along with the country. And what we`d see, and frankly, I would help to lead it, is legislation creating a Special Prosecutor, much as happened in Watergate, appointed by a three-judge panel that would be independent of the President of the United States for him to draw any lines, establish any boundaries, say anything as off limits is absolutely improper (INAUDIBLE) and probably illegal.

REID: So you really think that you know, if Donald Trump would find a way to fire Mueller which would probably involve either forcing the recusal of Rod Rosenstein or firing him too if that would have happened, Republicans would join Democrats in creating a Special Counsel law, do you really think that?

BLUMENTHAL: I certainly would hope it and my conversations with my Republican colleagues certainly lead me to think there would be a substantial number if he fired Robert Mueller who would join in this effort because after all, we`re one country, we want the rule of law. For Donald Trump to in fact implicitly threaten to fire a Special Counsel appointed to uncover the truth, a consummate professional like Robert Mueller, experienced expert, dedicated to the rule of law, I think would provoke them to joins us.

REID: Now, you also, you wrote a pretty extensive Twitter rant about the Jeff Sessions threat that was also in that New York Times interview, where he essentially regretted having hired Jeff Sessions and then saying, had he known he would recuse himself from the Russian investigation, he wouldn`t hired him. What would be the reaction if Jeff Sessions would be pushed out and how do you - you know, what is your response to Donald Trump`s statements about Jeff Sessions?

BLUMENTHAL: I opposed Jeff Sessions. In fact, I was the first member of the Judiciary Committee to speak against him as the nominee for Attorney General but I believe that firing him for doing the right thing, which was to recuse himself, really would be wrong. In other words, he had no choice but to recuse himself having, in effect, told an untruth to the Judiciary Committee about his meeting with Russians implicating himself in the investigation. And there`s some question about whether Rod Rosenstein should recuse himself as well. So I think that the President, in effect threatening the present Attorney General, as much as I opposed him is absolutely wrong. And maybe there`s no legal recourse to it, but I was interested to see that the Attorney General said he`s staying.

REID: Yes. And I want you to just really quickly answer this as a prosecutorial matter. Donald Trump sort of established his own red line of what`s too far to go into when it comes to Russian investigation. In your view, how deep would you expect Mueller to go and how deep will the Committees go into Donald Trump`s finances? How much - is there a red line for you and what you wouldn`t look at in terms of his own business dealings in the past?

BLUMENTHAL: As a former prosecutor, Joy, I can tell you, there are no red lines. Follow the evidence, follow the money. That`s what Rob Mueller is doing and the same is true of our investigation. He is looking at possible criminal charges which we cannot bring. We are looking at ways to improve the Department of Justice and prevent the kind of firing that occurred with Jim Comey Among other factors and he can`t do that. So we both have our separate independent purposes and neither of us should be drawing lines or setting off limits facts that we need to do our jobs.

REID: All right. Well, Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you so much for being here. Really appreciate it.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you, Joy.

REID: Thank you very much. And joining me now on the phone is NBC Intelligence and National Security Reporter Ken Dilanian who has a new report that Robert Mueller is "finding the strike zone." Ken, what does that mean?

KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE, AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, Joy, it just means that there`s been some reporting out today that the investigation is widening to include Trump financial transactions and our reporting at NBC News is that it`s always been in part about that. And that, you know, from day one in this inquiry, Robert Mueller and his - and his team have been looking at financial transaction by Donald Trump and his associates, and by Paul Manafort. And you know, for example, we know that the Senate is pouring through thousands of records from the Treasury Department, from its FinCEN money laundering agency regarding transactions of Donald Trump and his - and his associates. So - and the investigation is building steam and Mueller is gathering records but we`re not sure that there`s anything subsequently new today that wasn`t true yesterday.

REID: And now, when we did learn yesterday it was - from the Wall Street Journal and this from the story they did about Paul Manafort and what`s being looked at in terms of him, it says the Senate Committee - Senate Intelligence assuming has received reports from the Treasury Department`s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network which tracks illicit money flows to learn of any of Donald Trump`s businesses may have financial ties to Russian interests. And this is according to people who spoke with the Wall Street Journal. Trump has claimed he has no such ties. Do we have any update in reporting on that?

DILANIAN: Yes, well, the request has sent - happened maybe four or more weeks ago. So that - this is not a new thing that they were - they were going after his records. Now they`ve gotten them, they`re going through them. FinCEN is a money laundering agency so that`s what they do. They track financial transactions. And investigators are looking to see whether there`s anything untoward with transactions of you know, between Trump and his associates and Russia. But you know, and that`s sort of what you would expect him to do.

After all, you know, this whole thing got started in part with a dossier by that British`s Intelligence Officer and that dossier alleged that one of the ways that the Russia government tried to (INAUDIBLE) itself with Donald Trump was to offer sweetheart business deals. And we know that that dossier is one of the reasons that the FBI investigation got started. We know that the FBI deemed parts of it to be credible, unproven and they`re looking into this stuff and nothing has been proven in this regard yet but it`s not a surprise they`re looking into it.

REID: Yes indeed. NBC`s Ken Dilanian, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

DILANIAN: Thanks, Joy.

REID: Thank you. And joining me now is full of surprises Investigative Journalist David Kay Johnston, author of The Making of Donald Trump and MSNBC Contributor and former Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks. Thank you, both for being here. David Cay Johnston, I`m going to start with you. Just on some of the elements that we`ve learned in the last 24 hours about what Bob Mueller may be looking into - I empathize May when it comes to this Bloomberg report. That report in Bloomberg points to three transactions that may be of interest to prosecutors.

One is the Trump SoHo development in New York which you`ve talked about a lot that was done with Russian associates. The second was the 2013 Ms. Universe Pageant in Moscow for which Donald Trump was paid a $7 million license fee. And the third was a sale of a mansion to a Russian oligarch in2008 which Donald Trump bought for 40 million, sold for 90 million, a mansion that was never lived in. Are any of those three transactions in your view relatable to the fact that we know about Russiagate?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Yes, Donald is very, very vulnerable about his financial dealings with the Russians going back to the 1980s. and that`s the reason he said what he did yesterday. Now, you don`t get to pick your prosecutor and you certainly don`t get to tell your prosecutor what he can and cannot do. But back in May when Mueller was appointed, I wrote a column at the Daily Beast warning that Trump would do exactly what he`s done. Suggest that it`s improper to look beyond into the financing the Russians have put into the Trump family and businesses, even though it`s - are intimately connected, they are, in fact, Russian meddling in the election.

And Trump has now made it clear in the interview with the New York Times that he thinks that`s a line that shouldn`t be crossed and boy I hope it gets crossed and I hope that Mueller if anything digs even deeper. It would be very informing if Mueller would dig into Donald`s very inexplicable relationship with a major international drug trafficker who he tried to get lenient treatment for in the 1980s.

REID: And Jill, you know, I think on this question of Donald Trump essentially, implicitly saying stay away from my money. It seems pretty clear now that Mueller is not staying away from the money. In your view, how likely are we heading towards a sort of Nixon moment where he attempted to fire the Special Prosecutor in that - in that instance back in the 1970s. And if Donald Trump did fire Mueller, what do you expect to happen next?

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: First of all one would hope that Donald Trump learns something from history and the reaction to the firing of Archibald Cox was a ginormous outpouring of support for the Special Prosecutor. It was that that that led Nixon being forced to appointment a second Special Prosecutor and to turn over the tapes that ended up being his doom. And so if Donald Trump learns anything, my advice to him is don`t fire the Special Prosecutor. But it`s really ridiculous because there are so many parallels to Watergate that he needs to be aware of and he seems to be completely unaware of them.

REID: And David Cay Johnston, as somebody who has gotten ahold of part of Donald Trump`s tax returns, do you (INAUDIBLE) in Donald Trump`s reaction to Bob Mueller potentially straying into his money and to his finances and his businesses, a fear that Bob Mueller might actually subpoena the tax returns that you might start to see inside the Trump organization in a way that might embarrass him? Is that what we`re seeing here, a President who`s actually afraid of what will be found?

JOHNSTON: Yes. I would be very surprised if Mueller` crew hasn`t or won`t soon obtain the tax returns. Now the tax returns are only the beginning point. You require to keep books and records. Donald has been found in the past to have kept two sets of books in order to trick governments and not pay them properly and not have books and records you`re supposed to have. But I`m sure that Mueller`s people will look deeply into the financial transactions and FinCEN which is mostly IRS people does a very good of sifting through, when given a target to look for, they know how to find needles in hay stacks.

REID: And Jill, you know, we`re now hearing the word money laundering being used in connection with this probe, not just with Paul Manafort but the questions of what happened with Deutsche bank. The big German bank who was the last lender, the only lender left that would lend to Donald Trump that`s been implicated in potential money laundering through Cyprus. How wide and extensive do you expect this to go because we`re now talking about Trump associates but also a pretty major global bank?

BANKS: When you start an investigation, you follow it wherever it leads. And it seems obvious that the finances are an integral part of finding the truth in this matter. And that the investigation will have to cover all of this, his tax returns, his books and records, all of his dealings with foreign banks. The money laundering right now is targeting mostly Mr. Manafort but it could easily expand because once you start, you don`t know where it`s going to end and you have to follow the road. So I think that`s what needs to happen. And we need to know what did the President know and when did he know it? And I`ve said from the very beginning that following the money may be the thing that will really lead to the downfall of this Presidency.

REID: And I`m going to give you the last word to say David Cay Johnston who`ve been covering Donald Trump for so long. How likely is it in your view that Donald Trump actually makes good on these threats to fire Mueller and how likely it is and how - and how much jeopardy is Jeff Sessions about losing his job, in your view?

JOHNSTON: Well, Donald is always out for Donald. Donald will throw fundamentally if he has to members of his own family under the bus for his own benefit. He can`t directly fire Mueller. He`s going to have to find somebody to be his Robert Bork. And of course, Robert Bork probably would have become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice if he had said to Richard Nixon, no, fire me, I won`t fire Archibald Cox. This - if Donald tries to fire Mueller, even tries to do so, I think you will see Republicans who in private are uncomfortable with Trump begin to move to being publically uncomfortable with Donald Trump.

REID: Yes. Well, we shall see. David Cay Johnston, Jill Wine-Banks, thank you, both for being here. Appreciate it.

BANKS: Thank you.

REID: And coming up, Donald Trump turns on his own cabinet, disparaging his Attorney General. Tonight Jeff Sessions is responding and we`ll go inside a White House in crisis in two short minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have a great politician here. We have a man here who really helped me. He was the one person I sought his council because he`s been so spot on. He`s so highly respected. Has anybody ever heard of Senator Jeff Sessions? Jeff come up. Where`s Jeff? Get over here, Jeff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Nearly two years ago Jeff Sessions was a sitting Republican Senator from the state of Alabama when he stood next to Donald Trump at a Campaign rally sporting a make America great again hat. Five months later, Sessions became the first U.S. Senator to endorse Trump. In February of this year, as Sessions swearing in as Attorney General, Trump called him "A man of Integrity, principal and of total utter resolve." Fast forward to yesterday when in an interview with the New York Times, Trump questioned Sessions` judgment and basically said he wished he had a different Attorney General.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TRUMP: 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.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

REID: The White House`s Deputy Press Secretary insisted today Mr. President still has confidence in Sessions (INAUDIBLE) the Attorney General said in a rather awkward press availability that he or maybe they have no plans to resign, at least not yet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have the honor of serving as Attorney General, it`s something that goes beyond any thought I would have ever had for myself. We love this job, we love this Department and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: And joining me now is MSNBC Political Analyst Robert Costa and National Political Reporter for the Washington Post and McKay Coppins, Staff Writer for the Atlantic. And Robert, I`m going to start with you. How much jeopardy is Jeff Sessions really in?

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: We`ve seen the Attorney General move from being a close ally of the President to an ally at a distance. He is still in step with the President when it comes to his agenda, to his priorities. He has this populous streak that Trump also has. But at the same time, ever since that recusal has happened my sources inside the west wing tell me that the relationship has truly frayed. The President`s frustrations in the New York Times interview are revealing about the reality that`s been ongoing for week.

REID: And Robert, is that frustration because Donald Trump expected Jeff Sessions to cover him on Russiagate, to essentially be his shield against any real movement or investigation of Russiangate?

COSTA: Well Joy, know that some of my sources have told me the President does feel more vulnerable to attack because Sessions recuse himself. Whether he expected Sessions to operate as a shield, I`m not entirely sure of that based on my reporting. But he does feel Sessions was a loyalist to him during the campaign, Trump functions and always as throughout his career thought as loyal - of loyalty as the core quality he wants in some of his lieutenants. And the recusal, to the President seemed, as he said, unfair and it leaves his administration, in his mind, under siege on Russia-related matters.

REID: You know, and McKay, you know, I think many commentators including myself have used the word supine to describe the sort of general reaction to Donald Trump. People may internally or privately say, this is odd, but people don`t really do much about it. That in some ways - you did a very interesting report on members of Capitol Hill and their sort of attitude of you know, what can we do? But Jeff Sessions also has seemed to sort of take this in stride, although he`s gotten this vote of no confidence. Ben Wittes says -writes for the very popular Lawfare blog. Benjamin Wittes said - this of Jeff Sessions, "if Attorney General Jeff Sessions does not resign this morning, it will reflect nothing more or less than a lack of self-respect on his part. How do you explain the sort of capitulation that this sort of disloyalty being shown to him by the - shown to him by the President.

MCKAY COPPINS, ATLANTIC STAFF WRITER: Yes, there`s a general sense among the people that I talked to in Trump`s administration and this includes people in the Justice Dependent who say, look, we knew what we were getting into when we took this job when we join the administration. We knew what Trump was like. Now, they obviously didn`t predict that he would be you know, actively throwing the Attorney General under the bus and you know, musing about wishing that he could have hired somebody else. That said, I think the general response is look, Trump is Trump, and he acts the way he does and he`s a known quantity. What we have to do is figure out how to just survive and move the ball inch by inch in the direction that we want to while kind of dealing with this constant hurricane coming out of the west wing.

REID: And you know, we just had Senator Richard Blumenthal on earlier who said that he believes that if Mueller were to be fired, that Republicans might actually change from being privately uncomfortable to publically uncomfortable. Do you agree with that?

COPPINS: Well, that`s an interesting point. I don`t know. I will say, as you said, I wrote about this in the Atlantic. Over the past week and a half or so, I`ve been talking to Republicans on the Hill and asking them, you know, where is this investigation going? Is there a point at which you will break with the President? What would that look like? What would that take? Overwhelmingly, the response was, look, we feel like we`re doing all we can reasonably to hold the President accountable. That might seem remarkable to a lot of people but that is what I heard.

But the one thing I will say is that all of them, everyone I talked to brought up the Mueller investigation as kind of a rhetorical shield. They would say, look, we can do only do so much until that investigation is completed. We have to find out what comes out of that investigation. All of them kind of pointed to it as the defense for them not taking a more aggressive stance. I think if Mueller is fired, there are going to be a lot of extremely unhappy people on Capitol Hill. If only because it shifts political pressure back on to them to take this seriously. And frankly, the Republicans in Congress don`t want this. They want the Special Counsel to be in-charge of this.

REID: Yes, clearly. OK, Robert Costa, after that interview came out, what has been the response inside the west wing? Give us the state of play over there.

COSTA: This is a west wing that does not want drama and that there was no strategy, I`m told, for the President to make this kind of declaration in the New York Times interview. It`s really just the President himself operating as his loan strategist, his loan advisor, and his spokesman. There was some triage today and last night inside of the White House who tries to deal with this situation. If Sessions was isolated perhaps, would he stay on? Will he not stay on? Was the President actually calling for his resignation or was he just venting? You have people in the orbit in the White House trying to figure out in real time what the president`s statements really mean in terms of consequences and personnel.

REID: And really quickly, to stay with you on this, Robert Costa, is there anyone inside the White House who knows Donald Trump`s thinking not just regarding what he`ll do with Mueller, but what he`d do with Sessions? Is he taking any advice or bouncing the ideas off people regarding Sessions and Mueller and now there`s even these statements about Rod Rosenstein, Andrew McCabe? Is he talking to anybody about this, or are they just finding out with the rest of us?

COSTA: Well, my reporting bears out the top people still remain, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and chief strategist Steve Bannon. And they`ve known for months that the president has been unhappy with Sessions` recusal, that Sessions has not had the same kind of rapport he`s had in the past with President Trump.

And there`s always this sense within the White House that the president could erupt at a moment`s notice and decide to fire Sessions or make a decision to engage with Mueller or get rid of Mueller even. These are the kind of questions that hover over this White House even if they haven`t actually been acted upon.

REID: Yeah, well, we continue to watch.

McKay Coppins, Robert Costa, thank you very much for joining us. Appreciate it.

And up next, Donald Trump`s undisclosed meeting with Vladimir Putin, what does it have in common with Don Junior`s undisclosed meeting with a Russian lawyer? You`ll want to hear what Trump told The New York Times about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: We learned this week of a previously undisclosed second meeting between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the evening of July 7th at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

In Trump`s interview with The New York Times, he gives his version how it came to be.

Trump`s wife Melania was sitting beside Putin at that dinner and walked over to talk to her and boom instant pull aside. Trump also offers his account of what he and Putin discussed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: She is sitting next to Putin and somebody else, and that`s the way it is. So, that Melania is going to -- and toward dessert I went down to just say hello to Melania and while I was there I said hello to Putin, really pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was -- it could be 15 minutes, just talked about things.

We actually -- it was very interesting, we talked about adoption. Russia adoption. I always found that interesting because, you know, he ended that years ago,

And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because that was part of a conversation that Don had in the meeting that I think as I said most other people -- you know, when they call up and say by the way we have information on your opponent I think most politicians -- I was just with a lot of people they said who wouldn`t have taken a meeting like that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Interesting nonsequitor. Or whether or not you`re convinced by Trump`s story you just heard, if you`re actually talking about Russian adoption with Vladimir Putin, then what you`re talking about is only one thing: the Magnitsky Act, which means you`re talking about sanctions.

The Magnitsky Act was signed by President Barack Obama in 2012 after a Russian lawyer who was investigating Russian government corruption died in a Russian prison. The law imposes sanctions against individuals in Russia, certain government officials and businessmen, who committed human rights violations.

And it`s the worst sanctions if you happen to be running a kleptocracy, because it`s sanctions against wealthy businessmen who are beholden to Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin hates the Magnitsky Act. Ask any Russian expert and they`ll tell you getting rid of it may be his top priority.

It was Putin`s retaliation to the Magnitsky Act to ban American families from adopting Russian children.

And joining me now is MSNBC contributor Naveed Jamali, former FBI double agent and the author of "How to Catch a Russian Spy."

So, how surprised were you, my friend Naveed Jamali, to hear Donald Trump openly admit what he was talking to Vladimir Putin about was adoptions, which means Magnitsky?

NAVEED JAMALI, FRM. FBI DOUBLE AGENT: I mean, the first thing that`s probably the most disturbing part is that gesture. I don`t know where that came from or what that means.

REID: The come hither gesture to get himself a meeting.

JAMALI: The second thing is you`re absolutely right. I mean, the act goes back to what I believe was a dangle that the Russians put in front of Don Junior, so clearly it`s a narrative that they want to push. The adoptions are directly -- the Russians reciprocated when we signed this law into effect by suspending adoptions. So, clearly there`s the potential for a quid pro quo here.

But again, Joy, at the end of the day why are we discussing offering anything to Russia, whether it`s the compound, whether it`s easing of sanctions or getting into conversations of adoptions? Look, the Russians clearly had an involvement in the elections and our president should be taking a strong line not casually strolling into having pleasantries for 15 minutes and then not disclosing it to the American public.

REID: From the Russian point of view, the American president coming over and according to Donald Trump just striking up a casual conversation about adoptions, what does that get Vladimir Putin?

JAMALI: Well, look, even if it was at President Trump said, a casual conversation, there was nothing of substance discussed although he did...

REID: For an hour.

JAMALI: Right, exactly. Even if there wasn`t anything of substance, that it really was just light-hearted banter, again this is something -- this is optics, this is basically saying to the Russians you have leverage over me. I am -- you know, the fact that he walked over, that he initiated it, that is a clear signal to the Russians that he is interested in starting a dialogue. And they`re going to pick up on that.

So, at the very least if you`re going to negotiate with the Russians, you ceded a high ground just by doing that.

REID: And Donald Trump has said that he considered it -- and we`ve been talking about it throughout the show that they had a red line if it was a red line if Robert Mueller was to go into his finances. Just sort of explain to us how these lures work when Russian agents want to influence an American, or make them an agent of influence, how is money used to do that?

JAMALI: Yeah, so there`s these four pillars of recruitment in the spy world that is often referred to. Money, ideology, coercion, ego . And essentially those are viewed as the cornerstones of why someone would, well, commit treason and voluntarily spy for another country. Money can be used to -- look, it`s a great door opener. Someone is -- that`s why when you fill out this SF-86, this simple form 86, one of the things that they often look for is if you are in severe debt, because that is viewed as something that a foreign intelligence agency can build on, can approach you with money.

So, it`s -- look money in many cases is the easiest way to recruit someone. We do it, the Russians do it, and it`s probably the easiest way to recruit an asset.

REID: And so I guess it`s not surprising that Mueller is following the money, both Manafort`s, Kushner`s, and et cetera, and Donald Trump.

JAMALI: Absolutely. And, you know, look Joy, the crazy thing about this the investigation started with Russia. But what if Bob Mueller discoveries another crime that has nothing to do with Russia through innocent investigation here, whether it`s money laundering, whatever it might be, is he going to turn a blind eye? Absolutely not. He has got a legal obligation to refer that back.

So it`s very likely that if there other instances of criminality in Trump`s background or anyone else under investigation, that it`s not necessarily directly related to Russia, that that may come up. And I think that`s potentially the likely course. I mean, we`re hearing the Mueller is expanding it to that, but that`s probably the likely course for, you know, charges and things like that. I have to say that dealing with espionage and things with intelligence, it`s so hard to prove these cases if you look at the history of it, that in many instances what ends up happening is the federal government just basically keeps, you know, putting these cases out and eventually they have got to plea bargain.

I think that`s why it`s going to focus on money and things like that.

REID: To quote Ben Whitty (ph), tick, tick, tick. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

JAMALI: And coming up, how does the president`s six-month report card look? Here`s a hint, it doesn`t include any major legislation victory.

Plus, some awkward opposition to Trump`s latest policy push in Thing one, Thing Two.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: Thing One tonight certainly one significant take away from a Made in America week has been plenty of great photo opportunities for the president. He climbed into a truck parked at the White House and he examined the lawn mower. He tried on hats in the East Room and inspected bats in the Blue Room.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It`s beautiful. That`s really nice.

So these are wood?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

TRUMP: And you do the aluminums or no?

UNIDNETIFIED MALE: We do make some aluminums as well.

TRUMP: How are they doing? Because I read where there was problems. Too much, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re doing well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: And today, even after he was told it is not a test of manhood, he passionately tried to crush a glass vile and the vial held strong.

But after days of televised product displays, how well did Made in America week convince businesses to actually manufacture in the U.S. and hire Americans? Well, maybe not so much, especially when those businesses are owned by the Trumps. And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: It`s been well documented that Donald Trump`s companies manufacture a lot of their products outside of America. The Daily Beast went into the gift shop at the Trump Hotel in D.C. to find many of the items were made in China, Vietnam and Peru.

A wide ranging Washington Post investigation revealed the extent to which Ivanka Trump`s company relies exclusive on foreign factories in countries such a Bangladesh, Indonesia and China.

But when pressed this week, the White House would not say if Trump`s companies would adhere to the Made in America week push.

Meanwhile, we learned today that one of Trump`s most cherished businesses certainly won`t follow the hire American challenge. In the middle of Made in America week, Trump`s Mar-a-Lago club applied to hire 70 foreign workers for the upcoming fall season.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Clearly, it`s time for a new policy, one defined by two simple rules. We will buy American and we will hire American.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Major milestones today for he famous Americans of the `80s and `90s. In Nevada, former football star O.J. Simpson was granted parole after serving nine years on 2008 charges, including armed robbery, the second most famous criminal trial of his career.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O.J. SIMPSON, FRM. FOOTBALL STAR: I`ve come here and spent nine years making no excuses about anything. I am sorry that things turned out the way they did. I had no intent to commit a crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Simpson could leave prison as early as October 1. And in a very different landmark, Donald Trump, who had O.J. Simpson on his guest list at his wedding to second wife Marla Maples in 1993, celebrated six months in the White House, well, celebrate is kind of a relative term.

So how has he spent that time? So far the 45th president has no major legislative accomplishments, many of the 42 or so bills he`s signed were filler, things like naming buildings, routine spending bills, et cetera. His vow to repeal and replace Obamacare has stalled to the great relief of many presidential pleas and even threats not withstanding.

He hasn`t even started on two other major legislative priorities, big tax cuts and infrastructure, not even during infrastructure week.

He`s reportedly had 54 meetings with foreign leaders with varying degrees of awkwardness. And here at home he`s visited 16 states, often to campaign, to hold campaign style rallies and tout the manufacturing jobs he`s saving that then get outsourced anyway.

Trump has done one thing very consistently, though, he`s spent 40 days at golf courses. That includes 14 days at his Bedminster Golf Course, and he spent 25 days at his Mar-a-Lago $200,000 a year membership club in Florida.

Now, that`s not to say that Trump hasn`t made a mark on the government and the presidency. Just ask any undocumented immigrant or State Department employee.

And he did deliver Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, keeping a major promise to the religious right.

So, six months down, 42 to go, how do you think it`s going? Don`t go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Trump spoke often on the campaign trail about how easy governing would be. But now six months into his presidency, well his tune is changing. Here`s Trump talking with reporters at The New York Times about his faltering effort to reform health care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I am not in here six months. And they`ll say Trump hasn`t fulfilled his agenda. You know what I say to myself, wait a minute, I`m only here a very short period of time. It`s a very narrow path winding this way. You get -- you think you have it, and then you lose four on the other side because you gave. It is a brutal process. And it was for the Democrats, in all fairness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: With me now are Jason Johnson, politics editor at The Root and MSNBC contributor. And Karl Luebsdorf, the former Washington bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News, who laid out a devastating appraisal of Trump`s first six months in a Dallas Morning News op-ed earlier this week.

And Mr. Luebsdorf, I`m going with you on this first. Give us your very quick assessment of Donald Trump`s first six months in office.

CARL LEUBSDORF, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Well, you know, you mentioned all of the issues that make it seem that Washington is gridlocked and not much is going on.

But, in fact, a lot is going on. The agencies are doing a lot of thing. And to my mind, most of them bad. You have got the Justice Department reversing itself on voter rights, and the EPA letting people dump sludge into streams and all sorts of things like that.

REID: And what, of all of those that sort of potpourri of things do you think is the most alarming?

LEUBSDORF: Well, actually I think the most alarming is the way the president has demeaned the presidency and is trying to demean government itself.

REID: And, you -- you wrote this piece for the Dallas news, do people in Texas think that? Because there`s a sense when you look at the polls that there are sort of two worlds that look at Donald Trump from sort of across the street from each other and have nothing in common and that in the world of Trump supports, this is all great.

LEUBSDORF: Well, the two worlds in Texas -- also our paper, which is traditionally conservative paper, endorsed Hillary Clinton, the first Democrat they endorsed since 1936. And the response to my column has really been interesting. I would have expect to get about a 50/50 response, especially on the response from Texas, and it`s been overwhelmingly favorable. The emails are running about 10-1, and virtually everything on Twitter has been positive.

The Trump supporters are -- have either stopped reading the Dallas Morning News or are just holding their breath at this point.

REID: And not watching Shakespeare and all the other things that upset them.

Jason Johnson, you know, Donald Trump one of the things that he has done more than any president is use social media in a very unique way. His tweeting, Mashable talked about how many times Trump has tweet in office and essentially he`s down to -- he`s fired off 1,002 tweets at the time of writing that article, which is about 5.5 tweets a day. He tweets more than -- he tweets as much as I do, and I tweet a lot. Do you think that that has, in a sense, sort of made this president sort of an open book in a way that presidents maybe should be a little more or is it alarming to you?

JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT: Well, you know, Joy, it depends on who you ask. You know, I would pass up all of this wonderful tweeting by President Trump if he actually, say opened up press conferences again so we could actually see his spokesperson communicate.

But if you`re a Trump supporter, then he`s talking to you constantly. If you`re a Trump critic, it`s not all that beneficial, because we`ve noticed what he tends to tweet about is not always what`s of the greatest importance to the country, it`s people he`s angry at, it`s people he wants to attack personally. It`s certain attacks he wants to complain and attack about Muslims, but ignore when white supremacists murder people in the United States, not to mention the fact that his tweets have constantly driven his lawyers crazy, because he keeps saying things that are going to make it easier to be investigating him.

You know, is this the future of the presidency? It may be the future of this one. But most other presidents would choose to speak to the American people and not just have a one-way conversation on social media.

REID: Well, I wonder about that, because, you know, Carl did mention the fact that in his view, Trump has undermined the presidency. He sort of denigrated it. Do you think that Donald Trump has done that, and has he made a permanent change to the presidency, for better or worse?

JOHNSON: You know, I don`t think anything is permanent yet. It`s only been six months. I mean, if I were to grade him, I would say, hey, he`s got a B+ on the economy, he hasn`t managed to screw things up. I give him an A in gym. He spends a lot of time on the golf course, you know, a D in African-American studies, because he clearly didn`t know who Frederick Douglass was.

I mean, we don`t have a full view of what this presidency will be yet.

But I will say this, if we go into the Fall and some of these governor`s elections and things like that are happening in this country, and he still does not have a health care plan, if he has still not figured out how he`s going to improve infrastructure, if he keeps having these rally weeks, but no policy to go with them, then we can start saying this is a failed presidency, because with the amount of power that he has in every branch of government, there`s no excuse to be as ineffective as Donald Trump has been.

LEUBSDORF: One thing we should remember, Joy, is that the presidency is four years. It takes a long time for things to develop. I`ve been here since 1963 and I`ve seen Democrats in control, I`ve seen the Republicans in control. I was here for the Nixon impeachment. It took forever for that to unfold. So, nothing is permanent.

REID: Yeah, absolutely.

And Jason, one of the other things, of course, that Donald Trump has done is move the country much closer to the Putin view of the way that the U.S. foreign policy, et cetera is to be run, sort of dismantled much of the State Department`s initiatives.

You know, how does that change strike you? Because a lot of the country actually doesn`t mind that, doesn`t care about it?

JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, the disturbing thing is that the most recent poll show that fewer Republicans actually believe the Russians meddled in our election now than in April. They seem to be rallying around him more.

Look, I think this is the single most problematic thing in this extremely problematic administration. Anyone who loves the United States of America, I don`t care if you`re a Republican or Democrat, should be concerned about a president who does not care about the integrity of elections, should be concerned about a president who seems fundamentally incapable of establishing good relationships with foreign leaders, a president who desperate to be part of the cool kids in the honeycomb hideout with Vladimir Putin and other dictators and is less concerned with long-term economic and military allies.

I think that is the long-term damage that has been done by this presidency. It took George Bush eight years to do something this bad, Donald Trump`s been doing a terrible job in the first six months.

REID: And, Carl, I guess what we`re waiting to find out is whether red state voters will eventually care about it.

But we don`t have time -- unfortunately we`re out of time. We`ll have to bring you back to talk about that. Carl Leubsdorf, Jason Johnson, thank you both very much. Appreciate you both.

Thank you. And that is all for All In this evening.

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